Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday June 21, 2010

Today saw us in two groups as well, with everyone but me on the road at 7:30am driving to Machakos for a final visit with the Bishop. Each one shared about what they had done, what they had experienced, and what they had seen God do in them and around them during the past month. The Canon told me that the Bishop was very impressed with our young people and how they spoke and that he wished he could have them stay around. I am very proud of them as I am sure you are!
I remained behind to teach at the church. Every Monday, pastors and lay leaders from many of the 47 churches under the Canon’s oversight gather for a time of sharing and teaching from 10:00am to 1:00pm. Last Monday I was able to share with them for about 30 minutes and they practically demanded of the Canon that he have me be with them this week. I was very grateful for the opportunity to pour into them a bit of what God has deposited into me, and I was not disappointed. As it turns out, one of the issues they face is a sense of inferiority because they do not have Bible school or seminary training and little change to obtain it. Well, guess what? I don’t have any Bible school or seminary training either, and they got the message loud and clear that the Holy Spirit is our teacher and He will lead them into all the truth with or without formal training. Afterwards, a young man told me that he was so encouraged because he only had an eighth-grade education. He is married, has one child and operates his own shamba or small farm to support them. One day, as he was working his farm, he thought of a church some distance away that had just lost its pastor. Then, he heard a voice speak to him and ask, “Who will lead that church now?” He spoke to the voice just as you would speak to a person standing in front of you and he said, “If I am asked, I will go.” That afternoon, he went to this church for choir practice, and a man approached him and said, “The Canon sent me to ask you if you would be willing to lead that church.” His eyes bulged, his jaw dropped and he said, “This is God!” What a privilege it is to pour the water of encouragement and edification of saints like that!
I spoke with another man who wanted my counsel. He is quite elderly, is a widower of about 5 years, has a son living with him who was stuck by a car and mostly blinded and is somewhat suicidal. His only income is what he makes off his shamba. He said his family just gave him permission to remarry and he wanted to know if I thought that was a good idea. After asking a few questions, I told him that I thought that if he could find a wife it would be a great blessing!
Tonight, we are having our final meal and meeting with the elders and their families at the church. I expect it to be a very, very rich but very emotional time of celebration, thanksgiving and goodbye. I’m starting to tear up now as I write, anticipating the wrenching of the heart that we will experience.
Tomorrow, we will head to Nairobi in the morning for some shopping time before checking in at the airport for our departure. WOW is about as descriptive as I can get as I think back over our time here. People are now arriving for dinner, so I must close for now. Please know that you are much loved and appreciated by each of us and that we are very much looking forward to being reunited with you very soon!

Sunday 6/20

Today we split into two groups. Hunter, Hannah and Devin went to the DEB Primary school to do church with them. They send half of the students to the ABC Kalimani church and keep half at the school because if they all come to the church they take up too many seats. The rest of us stayed at the Kalimani church. They had an amazing time at the DEB school, with Hannah running the meeting, Devin leading the singing, and Hunter preaching. They did some camp songs and had the students lead some songs. Then Hunter preached his heart out about God’s love and grace. As he concluded, he asked if anyone wanted prayer, and no one responded. Rather than accepting that response, he pressed the issue a bit and finally, one boy stood and came forward with his head down and his eyes glued to his toes. Hannah stepped forward to pray with him, while Hunter asked others who wanted to be prayed for to raise their hands. A few hands went up and then before they knew what was happening students started streaming to the front for prayer. EVERY student responded, and one after another, Hunter, Devin, and Hannah prayed over them. Then, a couple of college-age Kenyans prayed over them to close the service. Al captured the whole thing on video, which I am anxious to see. WOW. They left us with the thought that they wanted to give their all and bring nothing back with them. They did and God honored it powerfully. I’m sure that if one of them described the service it would have more richness than my secondhand telling, but hopefully you get the point that they chose to run that morning and according to God’s promise, they did not stumble.

The rest of us participated in a four hour service at the church. They always have several choir numbers interspersed with hymns and presentations by youth, along with a full financial report, announcements of the week’s activities, and at least a couple of 5 to 10 minute prayers. I preached for the fourth week in a row, which I felt OK about, but not great. The prior two weeks I had really struck a chord with the congregation with a good story to illustrate the point two weeks ago and a great illustration last week. This week all I had was words, but I trust they spoke deeply to those who needed it. Over the course of the four weeks, eight people came to Christ and joined the church during the invitation at the close of the services.

After the preaching, there were more hymns and the collection of the offering, which is done by having everyone in the church pass by a table at the front and deposit their money into a collection bin. By that time, the team that had ministered at the DEB school had returned, so all nine of us stood at the front of the church for an emotional time of saying goodbye. Each of us spoke our appreciation for and blessing over the church and its members and our friends. We managed to not totally break out in tears, but it wasn’t easy. After that, the farm items that were given instead of money were auctioned off.

Immediately after church, we moved outside for the unveiling of the just installed name plates on the building being constructed—the building that we (us and YOU) donated $6700 dollars toward and on which we had spent two days laboring along with the construction workers. The Canon says that it might have taken them 5 to 10 years to raise that much money. The name of the building is now officially ALASKA HOUSE, and the name of the clinic on the second floor is the INFINITE LIFE CLINIC, and the plate states that it is a joint venture between the youth of this church and Hunter Badgley, Abby Jones, Jolene Lemieux, Devin Braaten, Hannah Wing, Margarette Jones, Al Badgley, Ramona Holmes, Mark Jones – Pastor, and THE COMMUNITY OF HAINES, ALASKA! We and you have a memorial etched in stone commemorating the great things God has done in us and through us. For those who have contributed from outside the Haines community, we did not have a good way of adding you to the name plate, so we have given each of you an honorary membership in the Haines Community. Thank you so much for your participation!

By this time it is about 3:30 and we were longing for lunch, which was ready and waiting for us. After a couple of hours of down time, we headed to the home of the chairman of the church’s elder board, along with all the elders and their wives and some of the youth. The meal was excellent, the fellowship was even better, and then there was the “after dinner program.” We sang a bit and then many of us shared our gratitude for what God had accomplished during our time together and a bit about how we had personally been changed. After the sharing, we prayed for the chairman and his wife and for their family and their home, and then Hunter prayed to close our time together. We returned home full of food and feeling very rich relationally and spiritually.

Even though it was 9:30 when we arrived at home, we met together to finish our discussion of how we should handle our reentry into our country, culture and home. We are not very concerned that it will be difficult, but we are going to handle it carefully so that God’s will is maintained and Satan gets no foothold. We worked through that and then shared about our different church experiences until around 11:30. Then, off to bed for a much needed night’s rest.

Wednesday 6/16

Today was a pretty average day for us… Being official Kenyans and all, we have felt pretty at home over these past few weeks. I can’t stop thinking about how we leave in only one week… It feels like time is a bit slow, but, I know this next week will float by. This morning was a little overcast. Their ‘winter’ feels like a cooler summer day for us, so, we all dressed warmer than usual and went with prayer groups. Instead of our simple walk next door, we ended up walking through several shambas, and must have trekked over a mile and a half. (It was just different than usual).

Mark, myself (Hannah), and Abby were together, making up a group, and the rest of us were split up into other groups. I have to say that I most definitely take for granted my ability to go to church, without persecution for that matter. But one of the houses we visited today had several women gathered together, all close friends. One of the ladies, in her thirties or so, shared with us that her husband was against the church, and kept her from attending. She also shared with us that a few of her friends were also kept home by their husbands. I can’t even begin to imagine my ability to attend church being stripped away from me… Especially by the husband.. It makes me realize the importance of the man of the house being, not only the protector and provider of the home, but the spiritual leader. With all this said, we ended up praying with the women there for the majority of our time. We left trusting that God would be at work within each of their circumstances. The more this trip has progressed, I, along with our whole group, have come to appreciate the absolute power and wisdom of our God. He is so good.

After a filling ourselves with lunch (after returning from prayer groups), we (Margarette and I) headed over to Kangundo DEB to attempt to teach a bazillion kids how to play ‘duck duck goose’, and then I had the privilege of trying to organize a 4th and 5th grade boys’ game of soccer. Wow. I now have a deep respect for PE teachers. During this time, Abby, Mark, Ramona, and Devin were teaching math to the 8th graders, Hunter was playing disc golf with more primary students, and Jolene along with Margarette (during soccer time) were socializing with secondary(high school)students.

After the day’s activities, Mark and I walked into downtown Kangundo to an apartment building for a small fellowship meeting, while the rest of the group headed over to the home of local missionaries, the Osbourne’s (fellow muzungu), where they were served an American meal of hamburgers and were able to get a white person's longtime perspective on Kangundo. Tonight, Mark gave the message at our small meeting. About 9 adults, including myself, plus about 4 small children crammed ourselves into a tiny room, and Mark preached on the farmer and the different soils.

Our entire group ended up getting home pretty late. We have been going hard for the past three weeks, and have been praying that God would sustain us for another week. I can’t even begin to think about leaving yet. God has been so good to us here. We have been blessed IMMENSELY by our brothers and sisters in Christ here… in their hospitality, faith, love, hope, etc. No one has hesitated to serve us meals… sometimes up to 30 people are fed at one time. It is incredible. Not a single person in our group can bear the thought of leaving the family we just met.

Although we hate the idea of leaving, all of us are excited to be home and to share our experiences. I know us girls are stoked for a hot shower (plus shave!), an even tan, and to be in the arms of our mamas (:

In Christ,

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Saturday June 19th

A very interesting day. We started the morning by walking to the DEB school to take a picture with the baskets that the students and staff presented us yesterday as it was dark by the time we finished the presentation. The head master’s daughter works with local media and wanted a picture for her work and possibly an article in a paper or magazine. It is amazing that you can get 1000+ students to conform to your wishes to get a picture, it took less than 30 minutes to get them out of all their classes and arranged. We hurried back as we were scheduled to go to another remote school as soon as we got back.
You have to remember this is Africa and very seldom do things occur when scheduled. The truck we were taking needed some work, so about an hour later we left. We had 12 of us in the back of a 8 foot covered pickup bed with benches. We were told it was an hour drive, so 1 ½ hours later after bouncing to & fro we arrive. We took a church member that had two children attending this boarding school. Today was visitation day, so when we arrived we headed into a large room with benches way too close together to listen to 2 ½ hours of speeches, presentations, & awards ceremony. After that was over we ate a packed lunch and then we waited about another 1 ½ hours for the parent to visit with her daughters. They have visitation day every 3 months. So we loaded back into the pickup for the “fun” ride back. We went another way back only 1 ¾ hours and twice as rough. It was a challenging day for our group as it was one of our last days here, and little ministry was accomplished. This next event would not happen in Haines, Alaska or almost anywhere else.
We stop at a local shop so the lady whose daughter’s we visited could pick up something. It is now dark and we are somewhat tired. The lady was sitting up front, so we didn’t know what was going on so after about 5 minutes she comes to the back of the truck, opens the back door and hands Mark get this 3 live chickens tied by the legs and say hold this for me and closes the door. We get back to the church and all get out.
We still have to go out to dinner to another church member that is an accountant and has a nice house. We arrive and socialize. Then a few more people arrive, and a few more, then we tour the outside grounds. They show us their 3 cows (one gives 10 liters of milk a day) and 3 goats. Then we come back inside and it turns out that there are now 40 people planning on having dinner there. Almost all the women work together to make the meal that had rice, chicken, soup, Fat tortillas, fruit and a few other things. A great meal, afterward we did the slide presentation for all the adults present and the kids went into another room to visit and get to know each other. After the presentation we had the typical program of the home. It usually starts with the father of the family introducing himself and his family and welcomes the guests. Then each member of the family says a greeting. Then the others there introduce themselves. We have a song or two and prayers for the family, the program and a general blessing. We got home after 11 and Hunter still has to prepare a sermon and Hannah & Devin are planning the whole worship service to be held at DEB school tomorrow morning. Only a couple of days left before we go, an unbelievable experience here.
Thanks again for your prayers, it is a great support to us all.
Al or Mutia

Tuesday 6/15

Tuesday seems like so long ago, this last week has been so busy and we have done so much, it has gone by so fast, but yet feels like each day is more like two. In the morning we all went to a Christian fellowship. As always we were late, because they start so early. This fellowship was with a larger group than normal so everyone was outside.
Since we were visitors we were quickly given seats by other people, and everyone squished in African style with no room to even breathe. After one song, it was time for the message, which I gave. I preached on what I normally do when I have no time to prepare, James. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, When we were about to leave for prayer groups, Canon asked who was going to preach, and I was volunteered, so I had the walk over to prepare. I am very glad that I am ready to preach last minute and have a sermon prepared, for things just like these.
After the fellowship, with a message, songs, and prayers, we went out on our second to last day of prayer groups. My group went around and prayed for people but we didn’t ever really stop for songs or to give a message to everyone, it was just go go go. We ended up going to quite a few houses in the morning before we had an early lunch and went off to the town Wamunyu. The Kamba tribe in known throughout Kenya for their wood carvings. People come from all over the country to buy these wood carvings wholesale, and then raise the price to sell to tourists like us. Canon, being the smart man he is decided to take us to the source. We took about an hour long drive in the back of a pick-up truck with little benches on the side there, and probably still saved a lot of money including gas.
When we first got to the “store” we were given a tour of the buildings with all the carvers at work, who have formed a co op so they won’t compete with each other. Then we went into the store and spent a couple hours looking through all the wood carvings and getting a few souvenirs.
When we got home, we had dinner, and then devotion. During our devotion we unbraided Hannah’s hair, which was a group effort, making what would have normally been a couple hour task very “short”. According to her it was very itchy, but now its out and she had her real hair again, her normal length, and the same color it was when we left.
After that, we basically just crashed as we do every night, and that was the end of the day.
(sorry this is so late, and so many others are too, but I am looking forward to seeing everyone in Haines soon!)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Monday June 14 2010

We are just now starting our last week in Kenya, and some are wondering if I (Ramona) am really on this trip. Indeed, I am. And the welcome, the friendships, blessings and love we have experienced since setting foot in Kenya are beyond words or measure. Indeed, we have met a people whose smiles brighten the day, whose songs of praise are dance and music to any ear, whose colorful headscarves can soften any face, and whose chickens or goats can roam any street.
Kenya is a land of beauty, of contrasts and uniquenesses; however, generalizations are neither truth nor fair. I can only report observations and experiences. The daily wage for many may be only a dollar or two, but a gallon of gasoline may be four; a small mini-van bus slows to pass two oxen and a cart; the cattle and goats may be tethered along a dusty path, but the chickens run free; the young sermon translator wears his Sunday Best, but his shoes have no laces; every hymn, song or chorus ends with a unison “Amen,” but any chord seems to be alright!!
The people, the relationships, the trust and love of those we have met in Kangundo are beyond measure. What a joy to walk a dusty, red dirt road in conversation with a talented, “smartly” dressed college student. But then I hear my name. Just as I turn to wave, a dirty little hand slips into my hand. Esther remembers me from school and joins us in conversation and walking. She is barefoot, wearing a hand-me-down dress, but delighted to try her English and talk about school, carrying wood and hauling water. Old men cast a toothless smile and tip their hats, while young men with 4, 6 or more large water jugs on bikes give a glance and greeting as they pedal past. Yes, walking has been our major means of getting around. With roads as they are, it is probably as fast to walk as to pedal or motor to most places.
Now, I must summarize our Monday. After the usual breakfast of pumpkin, fried egg, white bread with peanut butter and/or jelly, fruit (bananas, pineapple, oranges), and chai (tea and milk) or hot chocolate, we were off to Matetani Primary School. It was started as a mission school in 1911, but is now a public school; however, public schools are not adequately funded by the government, so usually have a church sponsor and a strong parent organization. As a result, these groups have quite a say in what goes on in the school. Religion and character education are part of the curriculum. Prayer, religious songs and Bible verses are regularly used in classes and devotions are held at least weekly.
Six of our team visited preschool to grade 5 classrooms, where we were greeted with songs or poems, introduced to the class and had a few minutes to meet the students. The others of our team did a slideshow presentation on Alaska to grades 6-8, followed by our presentation of two soccer balls (they had none) and some Frisbees. As usual, the morning concluded with signing the guest book, visiting with the head teacher for a few minutes and enjoying refreshments.
The afternoon was spent at a nearby private school, started about 35 years ago by Kenya’s ambassador to Italy. Our students were paired with students of the same age and attended classes. It provided an opportunity for personal interactions, questions and sharing. Following several classes, the high school students carried their own chairs into a bare lab room where the team shared slides of Haines and Alaska. It was well received and all students (Haines and Mulle students, alike) seemed to thoroughly enjoy the time. At the conclusion we visited the computer lab: about 10 older Compaq computers with little memory, speed or upgrades. Teaching Pascal is still part of the curriculum and graphing calculators are virtually unheard of. Yet, in spite of a lack of current technology and a textbook for every student, and sometimes, no electricity, education is highly valued, teachers and staff are well respected, and religion, morals and character are part of the curriculum.
The day concluded with devotions. Our evening devotions, prompted by Crystal’s wonderful thoughts and scripture lessons, have become a regular time to study, share, debrief and focus on our mission to others and our relationship with each other. Thank you, Crystal and Good Night to all!!

Submitted by Ramona Holmes

Sunday 6/13

This Sunday we split again to go to different ABC churches. I (Margarette) went with Hannah and Ramona. We went to the ABC Kilalani Church, along with Dennis the Cannon’s lastborn and George the driver. The other groups were Abby and Jolene (at Sister Frieda’s church), Hunter and Al (in Mitiboni), and Mark and Devin (at ABC Kalimani, our ‘home church’). The names in bold are the group members who preached.
Everyone gave good reports about their mornings and about the preachers, and the only one that I can really explain is the service that I was at. So I’ll elaborate a little on that one.
The Sunday school was already there when we showed up at the church, and there are about 80 kids in it. They sang a couple of worship songs and then we were introduced with the help of a Form 4 (senior) student named Wambua (which is the boy’s form of Mumbua) who, as the service progressed, proved to play a very big role in the church. And he wasn’t the only youth who worked with the younger children and helped out. There were two youth dance groups that performed, one younger and one high school age, and Wambua (the senior) and a few friends helped with both groups. They also assisted the pastors and sang in the church choir, and you could really tell that the youth of this church, as well as the usual small children and adults, really love Jesus. It was very encouraging to see how involved the youth are in the church.
Hannah preached, as I said, and she did a really amazing job. On our way there she said “Is it bad that I’m not nervous to preach today?” Ramona and I told her no, and she wasn’t nervous at all. God gave her complete peace and comfort to preach her message, and she loved every minute of it.
After church we drove to Mitiboni to meet Al and Hunter and to eat lunch at the Cannon’s house. It was a very VERY bumpy and long ride in the back of a van which can only be explained as ‘Kenya style’ or in pictures. So you’ll have to wait to see the extent of our discomfort on the drive to Mitiboni. I mostly slept, though, so I was just fine : )
We ate lunch and it was delicious, but (as always) it was A LOT. Whoever said we wouldn’t eat much food, or suggested that we would loose weight did not take into account the hospitality of Africans. Even if they don’t have enough, they share what they do have with us. (which has just so happened to always be A LOT).
Anyways, then we met the Cannon’s family and spent some time with his children (who are all out of high school). After that we had prayer and exchanged ‘contacts’ and started the drive home, very full. An hour later we reached the church again, with dinner waiting on the table, ready to try and fit into our still-full stomachs. But it was still really good, and we all ate. We had devotionals (thank you, Crystal for preparing those!!) and fell into bed, exhausted yet again.
P.S. At church every sunday some people give produce and animals if they don't have money to contribute, and after the offering the churches auction off the items that were offered. Each sunday the congregation has bought items for the team, like sugar cane, pumpkins, guavas, etc. The auction is all done in Kikamba or Kiswahili (sometimes it's hard to tell them apart) so we never know when they're buying the stuff for us. And I've got to say, though we are grateful for the generosity of the African people, we get a little tired of pumpkins and sugar cane does give you stomach aches. So.. Devin said that this sunday, instead of letting anyone buy them for us, as soon as a pumpkin came up he yelled something like '50 shillings, mama caro!' or '50 shillings mama eunice!' (50 shillings is about 60 cents) and so we didn't get any pumpkins from Kalimani this week! But we did get more sugar cane and pumpkins from other churches and avacodoes and LOTS of things, including Mrs. Cannon bought Hunter a CHICKEN. yeah, so hunter owns a chicken in Africa. How cool is that? She said it is for when he comes back, and she'll keep it until he comes.
P.P.S. sorry we're so behind on the blogs, we're workin on them. And Abby appologizes for being almost 2 weeks late for last Sunday's. Thank you all for reading them!:)