Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fighting Poverty in Nairobi through Education

videoNow that we are back from Kenya, I thought it would be helpful to show all of you the video slide show that we put together to capture what is going on at Great Commission Fellowship in Nairobi, Kenya. Thanks to everyone who prayed for us during this time. We will never be the same. There is a light that is shining from this humble school in the middle of a very dark place of poverty, disease, etc... With our help, that light will grow and eventually consume all that is dark. Please continue to pray for Great Commission Fellowship, the work that they are doing in Kayole', and the lives that will be transformed as we (Churches, businesses, schools) are work together to affect change in our world. Please remember that God's plan for redeeming this world is us, and He has no backup. If you are interested in helping financially, please see the details of what is needed at http://vineyardwestside.com/2009/02/the-hope-of-kenya-fact-sheet/

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Homa Bay back to Nairobi






The countryside of Kenya is beautiful with rolling mountains, green everywhere, tea fields, and so on.  As we made our way from Homa Bay (West Kenya) to East Kenya (Nairobi) we passed through Luhya land through several Kissi villages, through the Rift Valley (where we met our Maasai friends.  We have seen so much this week in terms of the different landscapes, the different socio-economic classes, the beautiful tribes and languages, the different types of food consumed here, but overall...overwhelmed by just 2 things.  The first being the overwhelming poverty everywhere in this country.  Sure, there are a few spots of living above the poverty level, but the sheer amount of people living on very little, working so hard and not being able to rise above it, have shaken us.  The second, and more important to us is this...  the heart of God that lives in Kenya.  These people...no matter what tribe or tongue, love God, love each other and have such a sweet spirit about them that we cannot easily understand it.  Even in the midst of a traffic jam, they don't yell at each other, they joke with one another and seem to have a sort of laid back, cooperative Spirit about everything they do.  I believe this to be a reflection of a nation that embraces the teachings of Christ. 
During the riots following the elections last year, the spiritual leaders of Kenya rose up and placed the Tribe of Christ above the individual tribes that exist in Kenya.  I watched as Pastor Peter stood before a Luhya congregation and introduced our driver to them.  Our driver, Martin, is Kikuyu.  He stood before all of them and said that we are all God's children and we all matter to God.  WE are all a part of the tribe of Christ and there is no room for division amongst God's people.  Then he told them how he loved Martin and that Martin was his brother.  This was perfect example of what it looks like when Jesus reigns over the things that would otherwise divide us.  I have seen Christ yet again in Kenya.
On a lighter note...during our 6 hour drive from Homa Bay to Nairobi, we stopped at what I will call a Kenyan version of fast food.  We pulled through the drive through and ordered chicken and Mangos, and Sugar Cane.  The only difference is that this drive through sold live chickens that Peter would have to take home to his family and friends to be cooked there.  Apparently, he ordered the family bucket because he didn't just by one chicken, he bought the value meal of 3 chickens (coo coos as the Kenyans call them).  It was an interesting ride home for the remaining 3 hours as we would occassionally hear the coo coo's squawk at one another from the front seat.  This has been such a great and interesting trip.  I love Kenya and look forward to returning with some of you so that you can experience what we have on this trip.  

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Day 9 & 10 - Homa Bay





























It has been a very interesting and intense journey that God has sent us on, but one we are so grateful to Him for.  Our journey to Homa bay took us by road (mostly dirt, sometimes gravel, and always giant potholes) through Kisitown (the Kisi Tribe lives there),into the land of the Loowas (spelling?). 

We were all exhausted, and had headaches at the end of the ride, but after 6 hours, our heads banging the ceiling and the windows, we arrived in Homa Bay which sits right on the banks of Lake Victoria in Western Kenya.  The landscape is beautiful here as it is filled with rolling hills and mountains of tea plantations and villages scattered in every free corner as far as the eye can see.

After  eating dinner and resting on Friday night, we got up early on Saturday morning to attend the “Revival” meeting that was held in our honor.  We drove up a hillside in Homa Bay, through various dirt and gravel roads to the home of Pastor Denis, Mama Denis and the entire “New Haven Church community.”  We were greeted with open arms, a tour to see the needs of the community and THEN I PUT ON THE PREACHING SUIT as Pastor Peter described it.  At the end of the service, there was an alter call and we ended up praying for 50 people over the next hour. 

I have to tell you that the worship was like nothing we had ever witnessed and we found ourselves dancing (for a very long time), sweating (profusely…yes even Carrie) and longing for an extremely large bottle of water to consume in record time.

The presence of God is here as well.  We were a bit unprepared for the amount of need that exists in this little village.  Hundreds of orphans (we were given a list from 2 years ago and found that there are close to 200 orphans in this village.  Unlike GCF in Nairobi, there is a shortage of organized leadership here to take care of these orphans.  I believe they are doing the best they can, but the need seems to be getting greater due to parents dying to HIV/AIDS, Typhoid Fever, and Malaria (very curable with Medicine).  We left after day one, exhausted, overwhelmed, hot and disturbed by the needs before us.

The Kenya government has given some seed money for a medical clinic here.  They showed us the blueprints (of which only 10% was completed).  While we were touring the partially built clinic, a woman whose infant has malaria, rode up on a motorcycle (a piki piki) , and the leaders had to turn her away because there was no doctor there to help her.

Orphans

Widows

HIV AIDS, Malaria, Typhoid Fever.

Devastated.

To top that off, Pastor Peter arranged for us to visit an orphanage in the heart of Homa Bay.  The Director (Morris) showed us around and it was clear to me and the others that He has a heart of gold for the children he is caring for at the orphanage.  This was started in the 1960’s by Finland missionaries and the work continues today.  The average age of an orphan here is 3 years old and they try to place by age 4 with families who can care for these children in the community.  He appears to be successful at this, but admits that it hurts him when they “lose a child”. 

This little adventure to the orphanage really shook us up.  Carrie and Ryan really had a difficult time here.  Please pray for them that God would minister to them as they process what they saw here.

After stopping at an open air supermarket (dead fish with flies everywhere), we quietly made our way back to the hotel.  We all have a lot of processing to do.

Sunday morning brought another round of “REVIVAL.”  We ate Getheri (beans and corn), and had some fellowship with the area Pastors in Homa Bay.  Then the church service started.  It was a packed house with standing room only.  Worship was crazy great but very long…then Pastor Peter preached on giving, I “preached” on Micah 6:8, and then there were several church leaders who got up and spoke to thank us for our coming.  We again were asked to pray for people (probably over 100 today), and then everyone lined ups to shake our hands.  The needs of the community were brought up for prayer one last time and then we were escorted to the home of Mama Denis for lunch (Ric ate a fish head with the brain, eyes on Friday night…I forgot that one…come to think of it, he has been a little wittier since that night).

We just arrived back at the hotel to rest and we all took power naps for at least 2 hours.  Pray for Ryan…he might be getting Montezuma’s Revenge.  I hope he is ok. 

Tomorrow, we head back to Nairobi.  After everything we’ve seen in the rural area, we are ready to go back to Nairobi. 

Tomorrow night, I will be speaking to the leadership at GCF and talking about living out faith instead of just preaching about it on Sunday.  Our time here has opened doors for us to share candidly what it means to be a “go and do” church rather than a “come and see” church.  Pastor Peter is truly a great friend of ours now and he is faithful man of God who desperately wants to Challenge the congregation of GCF to live out their faith rather than just talking about it.

I will try to blog one last time before we head home tomorrow night.  I love all of you and hope that God will help me to communicate what things are like here in a way where you will get it.  Thank you all  for your unceasing prayers.  I know this is why God is opening our eyes to things that make his heart break.  We miss all of you and can’t wait to get home.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Much Needed Break in Maasai Mara































After 5 days in Nairobi at GCF, we desperately needed to get out of the city and be with God.  I definitely understand when Jesus had to get away to be with his Father after being with the poor, sick, and hurting for days.  
We packed up our things and headed to Homa Bay for stage 2.  As we were sitting for lunch, Pastor Peter and our driver Martin recommended a break for us to take a day and enter the African Wildlife preserve called Maasai Mara.  I can honestly say that I have never witnessed God's creation and this beauty to this magnitude in my life (outside of the birth of my kids).   We spent most of Thursday night and Friday morning in the park.
We met the Maasai tribe of Africa who still live off of the land.  They are herdsman and provide meat for Kenya.  They live in huts made out of sticks and cow/goat poo, and they have multiple wives, circumcise their boys at 16 (tied to a stick in the middle of the cow pen) and then the circumcised boy must go and kill a lion in order to be considered a man in the tribe and be able to marry.  All I had to do was beg Joanne's Dad to let me marry her (at the time, I was freaked out).  We had an incredible time talking with the Maasai warriors.  They danced for us and we danced with them.  Well...if you call seeing who can jump higher dancing.  The kids played in cow/goat poop, were covered with flies, and didn't think anything about it.  They were filthy, but happy.   We also met the medicine man, who delivers all of the babies (most of which are his (without viagra I am assuming).  I asked how many of the children survive and I was told that some die before becoming men/women...mostly from Malaria, and the Maasai are used to that and it is expected.  Can't comprehend, but there is much about this continent that eludes my understanding.  
They were very hospitable to us and opened there homes to us (homes where goats sleep in the hut with them and they sleep on the poo.
After that, we left for the park.   I can't explain the majesty of this land to you.  But I will tell you this.  After 5 days in Nairobi, seeing and experiencing what we saw...Our hearts were numb, cold, and empty of all emotion.  We simply were broken open, poured out, and left laying in our own tears over the people of Kenya.
As we stood up in the safari van, letting the Serengeti wind blow in our faces and wash God's breath over us, we found ourselves coming back to life.  Breathing again, our eyes were open to what God has made.  Indeed, I see what God meant when He looked at all He had made and said that it is VERY GOOD.  He has such a sense of humor. 
We saw 2 sets of lions (one with a young male present).  We were only 10 feet away from them.  We saw my giraffe all over the place, a black rhino (which is the rarest citing in the park), along with hyenas, hippos, gazelle, Wildabeasts, Waterbuffalo, zebras, warthogs, crocodiles, elephants (all within feet of the van).  I am attaching pics for everyone to see.  These will never do justice to what you see when you are there in person, but hopefully you are blessed to see what we saw.  
I want to thank everyone for their prayers.  Please keep them coming.  God has us in His hands and we are refreshed and renewed and ready to take on Homa Bay now.  We arrived tonight (Friday Night) and found ourselves needing rest for the next 2 days as we will be visiting a well, an orphanage and I will be "preaching" (stop laughing) at least twice.  
OK...I love all of you.  Ryan, Carrie and Ric are all doing great (Ric makes all of us laugh...A LOT), and I am grateful to be on this with them.
We will be praying for all of you as well...I will write again tomorrow.