Unfortunately I must begin yet another blog with an apology for not having updated sooner. And a lot has been going on since we left the Dow Family Children’s Home in Boito. Saying goodbye to all proved difficult for all of us. Being the outstanding young men that we are the Dow’s, staff, and children found themselves quickly falling in love with us. Our last day in Boito turned out to be extra special. not only was it community service day but it was also the one time a year the world celebrates the birth of Winifred and Rose Alice.
The service day consisted of reconstructing a deteriorated mud house in the village. Our supplies were clay bags (which we had to carry in on our backs), water, and the dirt next to the house. We did a good job of enjoying ourselves and an even better job of dirtying our clothes!
That night after celebrating the two birthday girls the children entertained us with their singing and before they left for bed they prayed over us in our continuing journey.
After a quick detour to see Lake Victoria we returned to Nairobi to finish up working at Eastleigh Community Centre. This time we ran into another missionary group in the middle of running a soccer camp. We aided them in this during the morning hours and in the afternoons we were once again on the cement helping Sony with the many basketball activities. During our time there we had the privilege of trying two new international cuisines: Somali and Ethiopian. Both tasted uniquely delicious and somewhat more special to the Kenyan food we regularly indulge in. But not just our stomachs discovered something new. A quick ten minute walk took us into Mathare Valley, the second largest slum in Africa. We were guided by Sony and a primary school head teacher. We got the full tour but disappointingly none of us was equipped with a camera to log the venture:(
Saturday and Sunday afternoon we were able to watch the Mennonite Warriors and Mennonite Knight compete in the Kenya Premier League.
After several complications in extending our visas and planning out the rest of our stay we were able to leave the highlands and head back to Malindi. Over a month has gone by since we left the Malindi Mennonite Church. We arrived by surprise during a city black out. Peter’s family and their neighbors were exited to see us returned.
We are doing our best to transition in and then back out in the short time we have left in Kenya. We came for closure with the church and community. Word spread quickly that we had returned and the kids flood our porch every night just wanting to be around us.
Pray that we end well and leave a good testimony to one and all.
Currently the Kenya YES team is located in Boito, Nairobi (about five hours west of Nairobi). These past three weeks have been very busy. We have seen and done many things…
Our first week, we stayed at the Mennonite Guest House in Nairobi. We dove a bit deeper into the Swahili Language and in the afternoons we commuted into Eastleigh. Eastleigh is the most Muslim populated neighborhood in Nairobi. We were introduced to Sony who helps coach at Eastleigh Community Center. The Center offers many different programs to the community including a gym, a library, dance classes, language studies, and a basketball program. We help Sony with the beginner girls and intermediate guys. We got a good deal of exercise and by the end of the day we were quite tired. The 5,000+ foot elevation didn’t help I’m sure! We planned to return to Eastleigh to serve for a full week. We could work on small hands on projects and Sony has already asked us to share our “stories” with the Muslim guys.
After Eastleigh we headed out of the city to Karen where we stayed at Dove Ministries Guest house. We had met the Omandi’s during a checkup visit on the coast. They invited us to come to their place and help out with some projects. So that is exactly what we did. The first two days were spent sanding a fence, prepping it to be waterproofed. That was okay fun… The next project was to demolish and reconstruct two chicken houses. Much more enjoyable. We really enjoyed working with Martin, Mr. Johnson, and Christopher; the hired handymen. We talked and laughed as we worked together in the project. We got along equally well with the rest of the staff and with Kerry Craig who is an assistant to the Omandis. Kerry helped us settle in and showed us how to get around by the matatu system (vans functioning as buses). We really enjoyed our time spent in their company and hope to return for a short visit.
Currently though we are far off. Boito is a small community inhabited mostly by small tea farmers. We are staying with the Dows at their children’s home. The Dows truly are an amazing couple. Imagine having six children, selling everything you own, leaving home, family, and friends and entering into a country in the middle of post-election violence. Well that is exactly what they chose to do. God gave them a clear calling: Go and help my children in Africa. “God didn’t give us a choice, He just said go” –Greg Dow. So the Dow’s didn’t specifically now what the Lord wanted them to start in Kenya but within two months they had already taken in three children. And it didn’t stop there. Today they have 28 children, staff, cooks, teachers, an elementary school, a garden, and livestock. God is the Boss- is the motto of this establishment. Day to Day the Dows trust in the Lord to provide for these children. I am blessed to have heard each of their testimonies and see how they truly are making the most of the second chance that God has given them. They fit the job perfectly. There love, energy, commitment, and faith continue to amaze. We are here to do anything we can to help. And with 28 attention seeking children ranging from 1 and a half months to 12 years old, simply spending time loving the children is the most of it. This morning we explored the village, visiting the homes from which some of the children have come. The valley is greatly afflicted with HIV and it is our first real exposure to HIV. Nearly every home has at least someone who has contracted it. So there is no end to the need for loving parents in this place. Pray for a huge blessing on the Dows and their children who willingly serve whole heartedly alongside them. Pray that we can be fully accepted by the children and serve with the same loving the Dows are showing us!
Through the course of constructing a home for a widower the Lord has already returned us with a second blessing. I had the amazing privilege of praying with a young man for him to be born again. His name is Jacob and he is the fundi who helped us build the house so you actually even have a picture of him on the blog already. When there was only work for two people I was up there with him handing him nails and the saw and the hammer. We actually did talk a lot. Not necessarily spiritual things. Just friendly. But he really opened up to me. He surprised us early Sunday morning by showing up at our home and asking us if he could come to church with us. We agreed of course! He enjoyed the service and on the walk home he expressed to me how he had been attending a church before moving to Malindi a few years back. He said he never was born again. I asked him if he was ready yet. He said yes. So during our afternoon bible study that evening I called him forward. As the Yes team laid their hands on him we prayed over him. And when he arose from his knelt position we had a new brother in Christ! Praise the Lord for the work of His Holy Spirit. We do serve an amazing God who, by the way, works in amazing and mysterious ways. Pray for our brother Jacob as we have left to Nairobi and he remains in Malindi. Pray that the church members would fully embrace him and begin to disciple him.
The YES Team project of the week has been the reconstruction of a neighborhood widow’s home. Due to the rainy season, an entire wall of her previous home had colapsed. The community did a quick patch job by covering the wall with old cement and grain bags. The widow brought her troubles to Pastor Peter and he communitcated the need to us. We went to work as soon as possible to try and finish the job before we head off to Nairobi this weekend. We worked in conjunction with the neghborhood “fundi” to head the project. The house is “Swahili” style. Meaning it is rectangular and made from the mud of the earth. The mound of dirt to the right of the house skeleton will soon be the walls.
Sticks, reeds, and nails were the only materials needed. Hand Saw, Hammer, and Machete the only tools at our disposal. We all worked hard in the hot sun to build the homes skeleton and prepare the roof for the iron sheet. The final image you see is the final delivered product. We thought we were only half way done. As it turns out it is Kenyan tradition that the family muds the house. They all come together and build up the house. It is their contribution to the project. So as much as we wanted to get our hands dirty, it will have to wait for another day!