I don’t know how to describe all that has happened on this amazing trip. I have so many stories, met so many interesting people, and am still processing all that God is teaching me through it. On the long journey home in planes and airports I wrote out a daily chronicle of what we experienced. Instead of one blog post – I’m going to have a daily blog for the next 6 days describing the 6 days of stories and events. It may be way too much detail for some of you – feel free to delete these and afterward I’ll fall back into my weekly (ok sometimes biweekly) posts.
Hope you enjoy…..
Sitting on the plane from London back to the US, I don’t even know where to begin in telling the stories of my trip to Kenya. I could start with the first flight into Nairobi when I sat by a young man from the Sudan. He was one of the “lost boys” separated from his family over twenty years ago. He hadn’t seen his mother since he was a child and was now a man of thirty with a wife and three small children. After years of searching, he had finally located his mother and siblings. This flight found him nervous and excited to see his family – torn apart by war – finally reuniting. I sat in awe listening to his stories of struggle and triumph.
The first night in Nairobi my two friends and I found ourselves weary and tired from long hours of travel. We left the airport with a Kenyan pastor named Bernard and drove to a small bed and breakfast off the beaten path in the bustling city. In the van on the way to the airport we were stopped by police who spoke words we couldn’t understand. While we found this unsettling, the others explained to us later this was a typical practice and a small “road tip” got us back on our route.
Because we had to head back to the airport in the morning to take a flight to Kisumu on the western side of Kenya, the men suggested we leave our luggage in the van and only take in our carry-ons. We had been traveling in these clothes for two days with no shampoo or soap but we obliged. I laughed as I thought that even though we were across the world, some things are universal… oh men… some day they might understand us women. Then again… maybe not.
The next morning we got up at 4am and had breakfast before heading to catch our flight. This time our pastor friend was booked on a later flight so we traveled as a group of three. I got to sit next to an official in the Uganda government who traveled from Kenya every week to work. He had a passion 1st for Christ and to train young men to know and love God. He held two master’s degrees and doctorate but said this was all worth nothing without Christ. I left another conversation in awe of our God. However this was nothing compared to what the rest of the day would hold. I know I will bore you to tears if I give all the details of my trip in this entry, so let me give you some highlights of that day –
- We were greeted by a team of ladies from the Nyanza area who were helping run the conference I was to speak at in Nairobi.
- We visited in the conference director’s home, got to know them (and their chickens!), let them barter for us while shopping for souveneirs, then they drove us through some of the slums where my eyes saw things that break the heart of our God – I pray they continue to break mine.
- Next we visited one of the many AIC (Africa Inland Churches) in the Kisumu region. Its humility overwhelmed me. We then sat amongst the bishop, elders, and pastors from several churches who had gathered to discuss a much needed building project for this church of 500 that was busting at the seams.
- As they were introduced by the Bishop, he gave a brief bio on each man. We sat in awe of our company as they turned out to be pillars in the both the Kenyan church and government. As we toured the grounds, we could see a structure half built with our own eyes. These churches do not go into debt – they build as they can afford.
- About 30 of us gathered and they introduced themselves, honored each other, prayed mighty prayers, and welcomed us. I don’t know how to describe the instant camaraderie, their heart for the lost and the poor, and the joy in their faces – the light of Christ.
- While they continued on with their meeting, we toured their compound. They had outdoor shelters for Sunday school, primitive children’s classrooms, and a sanctuary with overflow as they pack out this building with 500 or more people each Sunday. The only thing missing was a parking lot since over 80% of congregants walk to church.
- Our next stop was the bishops office, where we met a new group of ladies. They had patiently waited for us for hours and gave us warm greetings. We felt like undeserving celebrities as they served us food and cokes out of glass bottles. Around a table, they shared with us about their families, testimonies, and their vision for a center to help widows and orphans in the community. We also told them about our journey with Christ and how He had changed our lives.
- From there we drove about 30 minutes to the village of Ahero where pastor Bernard, who had invited me to the conference, lived. Even though he had just returned from the US and was still battled jet leg – his home was full of people welcoming him back with smiles and hugs. A huge honor here was to meet Bernard’s mother who was about 90 years old. She had been sick for over 40 years with a disease that affected her skin and joints. They helped her to sit up in her bed and people overflowed in her small bedroom. She broke out in a song in her language when she saw all of us there. The joy in her eyes was precious as she gave thanks to God for His goodness. Her body was broken but her spirit was very much alive.
We got the opportunity to pray with her and for her and the experience and honor brought us to tears realizing we were in the presence of a very precious servant of God. We went back into the living area when some new guests arrived and sang a fun and silly song. We also got a chance to talk more with Mandela, Ruth’s son and our driver for the day. We joked about finding him a wife and hearing about his heart for evangelism among the 20somethings in Kenya. He was attending university, working, and very involved in his church.
We left Ahero with overflowing hearts but also intense fatigue. It was hard to believe so much had happened on just our first day in Kenya. We had met so many women – Ruth, Pamela, Eunice, Emma, Millicent, Karen, Lillian, and so many others whose faces I pray will not fade from our minds. We fell into bed at the Nyanza Club and slept. I’ll stop here until tomorrow’s post to tell you more of our adventures….