Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Today, Tuesday the 22nd, the Community Development Team traveled with the Women's Leadership Team to a place covered by lush green vegetation, called the Green Belt Movement (GBM).  The Green Belt Movement is a community-based development and environmental organization focused on community mobilization and empowerment so that members can take action on environmental conservation as well as management.  This organization was started by Professor Wangari Maathai in 1977, and it has transformed into a global ecology project.  GBM's mission is to mobilize community consciousness for self determination, equity, improved livelihood securities and environmental conservation using tree planting as an entry point.

It was truly amazing learning all about Prof. Wangari Maathai's life, and being welcomed by the Green Belt Movement staff to the beautiful garden they have cultivated.  We were then given a tour of the garden and able to plant our very own tree on an open plot of land!  I hope we can return one day and see how much it has grown.  

After the Green Belt Movement, we headed back into town to the New Life Home Trust, an orphanage rescue home for babies 0 to 3 years.  They take in any baby brought to them (mainly from off the street) and nourish them to heath.  Many are adopted, but the children move around to the different affiliated New Life Homes.  It was a great experience getting to play with the babies, but it was definitely saddening realizing these children did not have a home. The New Life Home had many volunteers however, and I was very glad to see they were getting interaction!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Hour Has Come

The Hour Has Come…Wake from Your Slumber (Romans 13:11)

Last week I traveled with the Kenya Community Development Team and the Women’s Leadership Team from our lodging in Nairobi, Kenya to downtown Nairobi. We were to join a man named Pastor Boniface whom ministers to young men and women who live and sleep on the streets in the downtown area.We were informed that many of these men and women abuse and are dependent upon a glue-like substance.

It was 4 a.m., both teams woke early to experience the street ministry of Pastor Boniface. It was immediately noticeable upon arrival that there was not an assembled congregation. Why? It’s a street ministry and secondly, we were told they were asleep. Few expected to have church at 4:30 a.m., with the exception of those whom had previously encountered Pastor Boniface. He walked the streets, tapping shoulders, waking men and women whom slept. He lined them against the wall of a building in a seated position and instructed those whom stood afar to “come closer”, until we formed a semicircle around our seated congregants.   

Upon seeing the dark streets and silhouettes of those waiting, I began to feel uncomfortable. At one point as I focused solely on my lack of comfort and the darkness of the streets, I felt like this mission was hopeless and became despondent. It was in that moment, I began wishing my street ministry experience would be brief and particularly uninvolved. While I began to turn inward and withdraw it was Pastor Boniface’s voice which awoke me and encouraged me to “come closer”.

Pastor Boniface began to speak in his native tongue. I could not understand it, but knew he emphasized certain points as I heard Swahili phrases repeated. After speaking in an impassioned manner for 10 minutes, he asked if anyone had anything extra to share with the people. No one said anything, so we kneeled down and prayed individually with those closest to us. I was unable to see the face of the person with whom I prayed, as it was concealed by morning darkness, but I remembered praying that God would reveal his love and power to this individual. I prayed this prayer because I felt if this man could just catch a glimpse of the power of God he would leave his situation and run straight for the plan of God for his life.        

Well…I Got my wish, my experience was brief. We were headed back to Grace House (our lodging), the recent experience became a blur. I thought on the following as I headed back: I’d stood inches away from a stranger on a dark street, in an unfamiliar country, prayed with him, he smelled of urine, and his hands felt unwashed… 

Today, I was given the honor of visiting Pastor Boniface’s home. It was beautiful, neatly set on 2 acres of cleared land. It was bright not dark, like the place Bonafice frequents most mornings, while most savor their remaining hours of sleep. It was comfortable, I felt welcomed and in my element. Pastor Bonafice stated those whom made decisions to give up the street life are welcomed to his home, adopted in as members of his family. He stated when he travels places in the city he refers to his biological sons and his sons of his ministry as sons! Maybe I would have prayed longer, worked harder, knowing that God had an immediate and specific plan for those whom decided to change their life. Maybe I could have communicated more clearly why they should wake up.

My prayer: Awaken us Lord to the hurt and pain of those around us, show us your vision for your people, help us to draw closer to you long before you demand that we stand close to those in need and send us experiences, men and women who will meet us where we are, shake us and wake us from our place of slumber.

-2012 Kenya Community Development Team Member

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Today, May 20th, we did two major things. First was visiting City Harvest for church service. Church service began at 10:30am and ended around 1:00pm. It was a long service but well worth it. Pastor Ben preached a sermon on temptation. And it was amazing to hear a sermon across the world that was so on point to the very issues we deal with on a daily basis. While our lifestyles in America may be very different from those of the people here in Kenya, we all deal with personal temptation in our own way. It's amazing to see God work across the world and God's Word spread even in Kenya. I appreciated service and Pastor Ben giving very relevant points to deal with temptation of being discerning of the work of the devil vs. God's work and recognizing the temptation so that you can gain the willpower to resist. The people were so kind hearted and welcoming to us coming to their church. After church service at City Harvest it was time to hit the Massai Market. This is a market with several vendors selling many products from shirts, jewelry, scarfs, masks, paintings, and so much more. The point is to barter with the people selling the products. It was an interesting and one of a kind experience. It was great to name your price but a little nerve wrecking to have people pull you into their products. Some people would over price just to see how many shillings your willing to spend, and very few offer a price that their product is worth in my opinion. But it was great to support people, especially since most of it was their own artwork or service and it is how they make a living.

Friday, May 18, 2012

May 18, 2012
Kenya Community Development Team

Today we visited Kibera slum in Nairobi. This 4 mile by 4 mile plot of land is home to almost one million people.Words can hardly explain this place. It is truly an a experience that one must experience for themselves. Though this place is poverty stricken and polluted, it is like its own little city. It has many shops and businesses. I found this to be very interesting. We got to take a look into one family's home. They were a member of the church that we also visited today. The living area, bed room, and dining room were all put together and was about the size of a normal sized car. I found this unfathomable.

We also visited City Harvest Church. While there, we bought items from Kianga, an organization that sells jewelry, bags, wood carvings, and more. We also helped to teach them business skills that will aid them in being more successful in their day to day lives.

Our day was very busy and we are looking forward for tomorrow!