Kenya, That’s A Wrap

On safari!

Thank you for reading along these two weeks. I’ve been caught off guard by the number of people following along. Thank you for putting up with the time difference, the unreliable connection, and the mistakes I made trying to post from my phone. 

All told, we saw 104 people come to the Lord for the first time!

We spent our final day in Kenya dealing with car troubles and so hung around the hotel instead of going to our final scheduled school. This worked out okay, though, as most of us were pretty tired and one or two of us was feeling under the weather. We enjoyed a day of rest and got packed up for home. 

We spent the day yesterday shopping, etc. in Nairobi before heading to the airport to wait on an 11pm flight. Currently, I am sitting in London’s Heathrow Airport waiting for our last flight home to Houston. I gotta say I miss my husband and babies and I’m ready for my own bed.

What can I say about my time in Kenya?  Well, I suppose I’ve said it all in these blog posts. I don’t know if I can say that it’s changed me or changed my worldview. But it has definitely reminded me of God’s deep love for all peoples, even those that rarely cross my insulated American radar. I have seen, and smelled, and even tasted things television cannot fully communicate, if indeed we stay on those channels long enough to watch. It’s real. It’s present. It’s my problem. It’s your problem. God’s love can span an ocean, a continent, a world. I pray I remember this. I pray you remember this. 

Before closing out I have to give a shout out to my amazing team. 

Blake (left) and Buddy

These two men led us well. Blake gave directions, corralled us as needed, laid out expectations, and showed us love in action. Buddy has been my walking Kenya encyclopedia. He loves this land and these people deeply and much of the information I’ve been able to share with you has come from him.   They led with knowledge, confidence, laughter, and compassion. And they were protectors in some uncomfortable situations, intimidating enough to have no need of the proverbial Big Stick. 

Four amazing young people!

These four crazies won my heart. They love the Lord so truly and brought such laughter, silliness, and joy to our time in Kenya. They were amazing with the children, which was so important considering we spent the bulk of our time and energies ministering to young ones. They also spoke boldly and confidently when called upon to do so. I was proud to have them with us. They were truly the life our team. 

Then there’s this young man, my amazing son, Michael.

To say I am proud of him is such an understatement. He gave this trip his all. And he allowed God to change his heart forever. He handled himself with such maturity and grace. He looked out for his mom. He jumped in to help solve problems. He engaged not only the children, but made fast friends with everyone whose path he crossed and showed love and generosity every chance he got. I know him in a way I didn’t before and my heart is incredibly full for the knowledge. He might only be 12, but he’s God’s man all the way. 

Praise God for His wonderful works!


Pressing On

We were so blessed to take some time to rest and enjoy the beauty of Kenya. Blake treated us to a four star lodge and a safari. There is something so amazing, so freeing, and so refreshing about standing in a safari van with the wind blowing through your hair while you watch a herd of elephants jog across your road. 

Leaving Sweetwaters, we traveled through the mountains to a town I can’t spell or pronounce. But our purpose there was to visit yet another orphanage. Guys, the Kenyan countryside is dotted with them. I had a heartfelt conversation with a new friend  here about the number of orphans. We spoke about abortion, how prevalent it is in the states and how rare here. As we spoke and watched the children in the orphanage going to and fro, we noted the light in their eyes and the hope they represent for Kenya. There will be many who will grow to repeat the mistakes of their parents, but there will be many who will draw a line in the sand and choose a different path. I cannot look upon those kids, their sweet smiles, their faces of light, and think it would be better were abortion acceptable here. Even in their wretched conditions, there is beauty and hope and life. 

I have posted a lot about the deplorable conditions of the orphanages here. I want you to see and be compelled to come here and love on these kids, even it it’s only for a week or two. The way they live is not okay and it’s not acceptable. However, I want you to also know that in the midst of such ugly and desperate need, there is hope and there is beauty. Today’s orphanage was the worst I’ve yet seen, though I’m told it teally isn’t so bad for Kenya. Here are some pics:

You can’t tell from the pictures how small the plot of land is. The buildings are all wood, so the risk of fire is ever present (remember, they cook over wood and fire, not a gas stove). There are gaps and holes in the roofs and sides of the buildings. The children sleep 2-3 to a bed. And, friends, it smells. They raise their own quail and chickens and there is a cow pen next door. The smells of livestock, cooking fire, an outhouse, and so many bodies living so close together can be overwhelming depending on the direction of the wind. 

And yet, at this particular home, these children have been taught about Jesus. They pray. They sing his praises. When we took them to a nearby park to play, several of the girls lined up to sing and dance in worship. I tried to post a video, but with my connection here it’s a no-go. I’ll post it another time. Listen to the lyrics. They are singing, “I know who I am… I have favor… I am blessed.”  I stood listening and recording and my heart beat faster as I prayed for the children across this whole land to stand and declare who they are, and Whose they are. 

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day to living. So easy for our world to shrink to a narrow piece of life, where all we see are the things that lap against the shores of our small piece of life. Even for those of us who give a big part of our lives toward ministry and giving to others, still it can narrow and narrow until the days run together and we lose ourselves and we lose our focus. Until all we see is what is right before us. 

But God dreams big for His children. We’re invited to a bigger life. These two weeks I feel like I’ve lived life big. My focus has once again expanded. And it’s a powerful thing and a good thing. Yes, I will return home and by and large, over time, see my focus again narrow. Still, I see it and will fight the harder to live, to really, really live. 

Please think about getting involved in missions. Do something bigger than you. Come to Kenya. Americans are so generous with their money. But sometimes we hide behind that. You can send money. You can buy school supplies, or shoes, or toys. But due to corruption and, in some cases, apathy, the children might not ever benefit from it. So come. Give your time. Give your love. Play with a child that rarely gets to play. Hold one in your arms. Kiss their cheeks and their heads. Let them touch your hair, your face, your arms. Hold their hands. Let them see, and feel, and hear from you that they have value. That they matter. That God sees, He hears, and He knows. 

Go to Guatemala. India. Germany. Go to the inner city where you live. Take your children. Volunteer at a food pantry, a pregnancy center, or a homeless shelter. Do something. Let yourself be touched by a side to life that so many of us are so easily insulated from. Raise up your head and reach for a big life. Don’t allow yourself to be smothered in the mundane of day to day living. Endeavor to be so intentional about how you go through your life. A smile, an invitation to dinner, a walk in the park. It all matters. 

Kenya: What Day Is It Now??

the view from our hotel room in in Murang’a

This post sees another 24 people come to the Lord!

I started a blog post last night after 11pm and couldn’t keep my eyes open. So I’ve skipped a day and now have two days to fill you in on. 

One thing I forgot to mention previously is that the money the cucus make from the sale of one basket is roughly enough to feed their family for several weeks. It was hard to “shop” knowing we couldn’t buy up all the baskets. 

This morning I enjoyed a different kind of church service – a mixture of languages and a distinctly “African” flare. But the Spirit of the Lord was so sweet there. The worship was genuine and heartfelt and I was able to participate in it wholeheartedly. I was blessed with the opportunity to speak briefly to the congregation and spoke from 1 Peter, reminding them of the living hope we have in Jesus. I so enjoyed being among them today. In the end, I think I was far more blessed by that little church than they were by me. 

In the evening, we again went out to Open Door Mission’s land and showed the Jesus movie. We had roughly the same number of people come out, with 24 people, mostly children, giving their lives to Jesus. 

Today, we traveled to a place called Sweetwaters, where we are being treated to a wonderful rest and where we get to be tourists. I had the privilege of sitting next to Emma, Pastor Nelson’s wife, on the van ride down. She has such a heart for her country. We spoke of the value of seeing children come to know the Lord and how the whole tide of a country can change if a generation would humble themselves before God and seek His face. 

Our “tent” at Sweetwaters

When you travel through Kenya it is so easy to see the need to reach these people while they are still children; while there is still hope in their eyes; before someone else has come along to corrupt them with lies; before they’ve made life choices that will bear a lifetime of consequences. So, for me, it is a sacred thing to see so many children coming to Father. As I have walked this land, I have prayed for these 107 people who have come to Him this week. I know God sealed them as His own the moment they turned to Him, but I pray that they will never turn away. I pray for growth and for hearts that will always hunger and thirst for Him. I pray for little hearts that will maintain that tenderness that brought them before Him in the first place. I pray for revolution in this country. Not one of war, and weapons, and hatred. But one of truth, and righteousness, courage in the Lord, and mighty faith. I pray for workers, like Emma and Nelson, who can shepherd a new generation into a forever faith. 

This afternoon we were so blessed to be able to come near Mt. Kenya, right on the equator, to stay in a beautiful hotel/lodge and go on a real African Safari. There just aren’t words for the majesty of God’s creation. My soul has found a much needed rest in Kenya. 

Though I miss my family, I have to confess I have little desire to return to the hustle and bustle and busyness of American life. Yes, we are so blessed with conveniences and choices we take for granted, but there is much about the lifestyle in Kenya that is enviable. Most of our time here I have spent feeling guilty because I feel like we’re not doing enough and I’m not completely wore out by the end of each day. But I eventually realized that my daily life is just so busy and so compacted that there’s no time to breathe. We came here with a general plan, but left the details to God. We left behind our American mentality of “hurry up and wait” for a slower mentality of “slow down and trust.”  Guess which way is easier?  Maybe in a few years God will send some of these sweet Kenyan children to America to teach us about a different way of life, and a different way of serving God. Wouldn’t that be something?

The Old and the Young 

Not a long post today, but an update for those following along. The day ended with 50 children giving their lives to Jesus!

We started the day out at Roko 20 school again, but instead of ministering to the kids we got to spend time with area cucus (pronounced show-shows and it means grandmothers). All of them are over 70. They weave baskets, which they brought along. They spent time with us showing us how to weave (I might have got my hands slapped a time or two – Lol!), and later we had the opportunity to purchase their completed baskets. 

We also showed them the Jesus film. I’m not sure what was going on in their hearts, but I know by some of their reactions throughout the viewing that it made an impact. These women melted my heart. They came for miles around with their walking sticks and bags of weaving supplies and baskets. They have more energy than I do, the firmest handshakes I’ve ever received, a ready smile, and hand out kisses on the cheek. I know their lives have been hard, but somehow I just sense a peace and security in many of them that I haven’t encountered much in Kenya. I wanted to go home with them and sit around their cooking fires. 

This afternoon we went to a children’s home in a nearby village, Kiramwe (?). It is an orphanage/boarding school, from what I can understand. These children are older than the ones we visited previously at the rescue center. Their living conditions seemed even meaner than those at the rescue center, too. We showed these older children the Jesus film and at the end 50 of them prayed to surrender their lives to Jesus. I find myself again humbled to be part of all of this. 

Again, we stayed an hour or two and played games and interacted with the kids. And again they touched my heart. Before we began, I have to say honestly that playing with the kids wasn’t an aspect of the trip I was excited about. But you should see their often tired and careworn faces light up – not when we throw a ball at them, but when they realize that we will play with them; when they realize that a woman old enough to be their mother will be silly and play hard. Their smiles are shy and utterly captivating. And if you hug them… well, you’ve captured their heart then and they won’t leave your side. 

I’m in love. 

One final thing… I’m sometimes skeptical when people report large numbers of salvations happening at once. I’m always concerned about what happens tomorrow when those ministering move on. But there is a local pastor and his wife, Nelson and Emma, who love their homeland and are working diligently here. They already are ministering in some of the places we’ve visited this week. In other places, such as today’s school, Nelson will return periodically to follow up with the kids. 
Many in Kenya have heard the gospel, but still many haven’t. Some of the places we’ve been this week have been unreached, or the groups of people are new to that place. Please pray for Nelson and Emma, as well as other local pastors, that they can meet the huge need. It is not so easy to keep up with new Christians, help them connect with a body of believers, and help grow people in the faith to a point where they can become leaders here as it is in the United States. The people are spread out, they are poor, poor, poor, and transportation is, uh… chaotic… and “roads” nearly impassable. 

But today Nelson wrote down the name of every child who received Christ so they can be prayed for. He will return with Bibles once they are purchased. And he will return as he’s able to check on them, help them find churches, and encourage them. 

Kenya: Day 5

We’re about half way through our trip now and today was a busy day. Tonight’s post is just a recap for those of you following long. 

The team went to the AP (police) church service this morning. I was sleeping off some good “made in India” cold medicine I had taken the night before, so I stayed behind. Michael spoke a bit, introducing himself and sharing a bit about our time here. 

After breakfast we returned to the rescue center (orphanage) to love on those sweethearts some more. Our previous visit had been a scheduled one. Even though the conditions were less than ideal, the “teachers” and “aunties” were all smiles and the kids were clean and in uniforms. We surprised them today by showing up unannounced and found the the teachers less enthusiastic, the children without uniforms, most of them dirty, and many of them walking around in clothing they had wet themselves in. I understood immediately that when we had come the day before they had intentionally whitewashed things and I was angry in my heart. 

The children remembered us and clung to us as much as humanly possible. It was far more difficult to leave today and our hearts are broken. Kenya’s borders are closed to foreign adoption otherwise I’d be pleading with my husband to move heaven and earth to bring home part of my and Michael’s hearts. I will be grieving this place for a long time to come, as will the rest of my team. 

This afternoon we went to another school, where we again showed the Jesus film. Afterwards we gave out balls and frisbees and played with the kids. They have no idea how to throw a frisbee (they know exactly what to do with a soccer ball, though). They tend to chuck it without any method. So we taught them how and we soon had a free-for-all with two different frisbees  and three different balls flying through the air. The boys schooled Michael at soccer and teased him good naturedly. Then when they asked him if he had any good moves with a stick he schooled them on his long practiced Star Wars light saber moves. They were fast friends. 

Afterwards we gave some of the children new shoes (a really cool adjustable sandal that can be changed as the child grows) and little nylon backpacks. 

The children were released from school when it was time for us to go. As we pulled away and they were fanning out to walk to their homes they lined the road and waved, and yelled, and grinned. 

I love the children of Kenya. 

Tomorrow another adventure awaits. 

Thank you, sweet friends and family, for sending us here and paving our way in prayer. We are so grateful.