Saturday, July 30, 2016

Kenya Travel Update

They're home! After a long journey back, our missionaries have landed at Dulles airport greeted by friends and family.

We are so proud of Brian, Dori, Frank, Jeff, Tim, Meghan, and Robyn and all that they did on their trip. We thank God for blessing their trip and their journey home. Welcome back!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Kenya Travel Update

Our missionaries are making their long journey home today. They started with a six hour drive to the airport from Amboseli. They will then get on a five hour flight to Dubai and have a three and a half hour layover there. Then it's a fourteen and a half hour flight to Dulles.

Everyone is exhausted but in good spirits. The team was sad to say goodbye to Kiu as they passed them on the road. They were especially emotional bidding farewell to their host, Cate and driver, Bonita. Lots of hugs were exchanged at the airport.

We will update the blog as news comes available. Prayers and love for our team as they make their way back home to us. We are so proud of them and can't wait to have them home!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Kenya Travel Update

Our missionaries got to enjoy a safari today! Here is what Frank had to say about the exciting day they had:

After a five hour drive from our hotel in Machakos, we arrived at Amboseli National Park that sits on the border of Tanzania and in the shadow of mighty Mt. Kilimanjaro. The highlight of our journey was seeing a tower of giraffes feeding on the broad plains that seemed to swallow up our little van. We also saw lots of zebras, deer, water buffaloes, and even some emus.

We finally arrived at the lovely Serena Hotel that is decorated in a Safari motif. During check-in we were cautioned to keep our cottage doors closed because of the large population of monkeys. Tim and Jeff went to their cottage but must not have heard the receptionist's warning and left their door ajar. While they were unpacking, Jeff turned around and spotted a monkey looking in the door. Instead of scaring him away, Jeff said, "Hi buddy!" Of course, the monkey took this as an invitation to quickly enter the room, snatch a packet of sugar on the opposite side, and scurry out. All of this happened in the blink of an eye, thus welcoming them to safari life!

After lunch, our first stop was a Masai village where we were greeted with dancing and singing by the brightly dressed women and blessed by the shaman. We were also given a fire starting demonstration, using two sticks, a pile of dry dung, and some grass. We went inside one of their mud huts and were then led to a display of their many crafts for sale. It was all fascinating, except for the extraordinary number of flies per square inch. Even as we drove away, we were still shooing them out our windows.

Our safari then began in earnest and we enjoyed photo ops with a herd of elephants, a huge flock of flamingos, some hippos, and loads of wildebeests and gazelles, as well as numerous colorful birds. The day ended with a glorious sunset over the broad plain.

After dinner, we held our nightly devotion during which we shared our reflections and praised God for the myriad wonders of His creation. Each morning and evening has started with such a prayer service, and they have been perfect bookends for the day. Tomorrow we are off to Nairobi and home.

Truly amazing! Thank you to our missionaries for sharing their journey with us. And thank you to everyone who has commented and followed along with the trip. We continue to pray for our team as they prepare to travel home. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Kenya Travel Update

Today was our travelers' final day working in the community of Kiu. Frank was kind enough to send us today's reflection:

We returned to Kiu for this our final day of the mission. On the way we stopped at a health clinic in Ngaamba, built with the assistance of our mission partner, 410 Bridge. The clinic has proven to be a godsend to the locals because of its ability to handle non-life threatening injuries and baby deliveries and offer instruction regarding such topics as diabetes prevention and prenatal care.

When we finally reached Kiu, we were again given "rock star" treatment, as waves of uniform-clad, primary school students rushed our van. The first order of the day was a farewell ceremony that included warm testimonials, as well as singing and dancing by the leadership team, parents, and students. We were told more than once that we were no longer visitors here but friends, brothers, and sisters. We were also asked to take the villagers' love and prayers back to the parishioners of Nativity.

In return, we thanked everyone for their affection and generosity. Tim delivered a brief message with a David and Goliath theme to inspire the villagers to trust in God and believe in themselves to solve their water scarcity problem. We also thought that the mission team should reciprocate with some song and dancing of our own. Dori convinced four of the Kiu women to perform with us as we rendered, "We Are Singing for the Living God." We interpreted the hearty laughter this evoked as high approval, but could be wrong about that.

In the afternoon, Meghan, Brian, and Dori had over 170 students make sunflowers, using a paper plate for the base and yellow and orange construction paper for the petals. Then the kids wrote things for which they were thankful to God on the flower's crown and petals. Seeing this many kids with scissors and glue sticks was a sight to behold.

Meanwhile, Jeff, Tim, Robyn, and Frank played with the kids outside, again using the variety of balls, Frisbees, and jump ropes they brought with them. Jeff and Frank also played "Ring Around the Rosey" with the kids and all became dizzy with delight.

By the end of our stay in Kiu, the language-challenged team had finally mastered saying, "Hello" in Swahili. Throughout the week, "jambo" was uttered as jumbo, jimbo, and even gumbo by our crack group of linguists, much to the confusion of our Kiu friends. However, we trust that what we lack in foreign language skills is surely compensated for by the love and caring we showed for all.

Our missionaries had an amazing journey in Kenya and it sounds like they made some new, lifelong friends. We will keep you updated as we hear travel updates on their trip back home. Thank you for your comments to our travelers! Keep the prayers coming!

Kenya Travel Update

Yesterday our travel team had limited internet access, so here is the summary of what they did, written by Jeff Eller:

Today was Family Day so we spent the day working and sharing a meal with a family at their Kenyan home. These are small farms which are remarkably self-sufficient and grow crops year round.

Our group split up to visit three different families. The teams were Robyn and Frank, Dori and Jeff, and Meghan, Brian, and Tim. Since we roughly did similar chores in each home, I will describe the jobs as one experience.

The first chore we started was shucking the corn cobs with our fingers. Mkamba corn kernels are drier and larger than our corn in US. We then went to mash the corn in a large mortar and pestle type instrument. This softened the corn before boiling with beans. After boiling, onions and seasoning are added to make the dish called "githeri," a staple of their diet.

Our group then had the honor of making rope with the family. We took leaves from a yucca-type plant and slid it through two large knife blades protruding from a tree. This shredded the leaves into strands of fiber which the family braids tightly to make clothesline and rope for tying animals. Like anything it takes practice to achieve good tight braids. All Mkambe children learn how to make rope, according to the family. They are remarkably responsible and eager to help out.

While we did these chores we noticed that everywhere we went there were little kids, hens, and chicks. The chicks would walk between our legs while we sat and worked. There was a kind of natural harmony between the adults, little ones, and chickens. The chickens even roost in the house at night, the family told us.

The team took a break to have lunch and then returned to make chai tea with milk. The milk had been taken from a cow that morning and boiled for purification. We also made chapati, the unleavened bread of Africa, cooked on a Kenyan charcoal grill. Then we went into the house and had fellowship, a worship service, and ate (again)! Some of the families had members who were sick, and our team prayed over them. Our group had an emotionally ill young woman who joined us. During the prayer service, we saw that she was noticeably moved. Afterwards, she was very joyful.

Being around the Kenyans with their beautiful singing and dancing makes us feel rather less talented in that aspect. Even though we listen to much music, we usually don't practice specific songs. We tried to learn the song "He Reigns," which is sung at Nativity, though we secretly hoped we wouldn't be called upon to sing. But God has a sense of humor, and one of our groups was asked to sing. We all looked at each other with our hearts dropping to our stomachs. Do we remember the words? Do we remember the tune? Finally we decided to do the chorus six times, with the song sounding progressively better with each chorus. Whew, let's hope we don't get asked again!

We are sure you all sounded wonderful! Please keep the prayers going for our amazing missionaries! Let them know we are thinking about them in the comments!