Start With One - Kenya

Changing the World, One Life at a Time…

PRUMC February 2013 | Start With One - Kenya

It was a full day - physically and spiritually - Lesley Cogburn

Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Today we headed out early to Gitumba, a second IDP (internally displaced person/refugee) camp. This camp is at a more advanced stage of settlement compared to where we were yesterday. Each family has been given a 2 acre plot of land, sticks, and a sheet of scrap metal – but it is amazing what they have done with those supplies.
We had an opportunity for everyone in the group to do different things. We were involved in a medical clinic, worked on a construction project, provided flip-flops and pillowcase clothes for the children, and started the groundwork for two eco-latrines. All of this took place around a cement barn-like structure that will someday become a school/church for this community. Today we were working among the chickens!!
Dr. Schuler, Jana, Lesley, and Sarah worked with a team of workers from the Bahati district health office. Imunizations were given to children, HIV testing was done, and family planning was provided. With the help of wonderfully patient translators, Lesley and Dr. Bob were able to see over 200 patients. They were as young as 2 months old and as old as 90!! The ailments ranged from various aches and pains, hypertension, abdominal symptoms, skin infections, and lots of rashes!! We were able to provide basic treatment for most things, and gave as much information as we could for things that needed to be referred to the local hospital. The goal was to encourage the people we met to feel empowered to take steps to work to take care of themselves – handwashing, fortifying the diet as much as possible for the children, brushing teeth and oral care, hydrating well, and protecting their backs and joints during their hard work.
The “construction crews” were hard at work all day in the very hot sun. Bob, David, and Len figured out a way to shore up the entry way to the “barn”- which was a construction feat considering how uneven everything is in Kenya. The new double doorway was well crafted- sturdier and safer than before. Work on 2 eco-latrines was started – manual labor digging out the area, mixing cement, and pouring the foundations. Cathy, Trudy, Jenni, and Jennifer had the Kenyan men amazed! Jenni Ivers won the hard worker award for the day.
Lastly, you cannot imagine how proud the children are with their new flip-flops, dresses, shirts and shorts. The bright colors of the new clothes and shoes brightened everything up- especially their smiles. We drove off to the sight of kids running around with colored streamers attached to new pencils.
It was a full day - physically and spiritually. Our devotion tonight was titled “For Those Who Have Far To Travel” by Jan Richardson. We are reminded that all the work – the medical care, the digging, the constructing, the encouragement and hugs we gave – are all really gifts from God. The ending of the devotional “To offer the gift most needed – the gift that only you can give- before turning to go home by another way” sums up today!!

Lesley Cogburn

The first few days I was overwhelmed - Jenni Ivers

Monday February 18th 2013

I don’t even know where to begin. Hello to everyone at home. It gives me great pleasure to say that I am serving God in Kenya. Before I talk about today’s adventure, let me first speak about who I am and how I came to Kenya. My name is Jenni Ivers. I am 23 years old and this is my first time outside of the United States and so far as I’ve been told it is equivalent to jumping into the deep end not knowing if you can swim. I tell you, I am learning to swim. I chose to come to Kenya for several reasons.
First is that I have always wanted to go on one outside the country. I have done local missions before and there was always a presence of God I could not find anywhere else. I knew that if I went to a country where I could not have ‘comforts’ that God would be stronger and more present, as I would not be distracted by worldly things.
Secondly, I needed to get away from what was going on in my life and Kenya seemed like a perfect, albeit expensive, option. As this may have been a selfish option I felt it heavy on my heart to go and I knew that it could only be God calling me.
The first few days I was overwhelmed at how blessed I was without knowing. In my country, our country, I am not the richest. I am certainly far from poor, but there are months where I am struggling to make ends meet.
I can’t afford my favorite cereal so I have to cut back.
I do not have extra money for entertainment.
I cannot go to the movies with my friends when they invite me.
I cannot have the lastest Apple products.
I cannot be as thin as I want.
I cannot.
I don’t have.
I have only been looking at what I do not have, and what I cannot do.
I have clean water instantly.
I have water that I know I can drink and not get sick.
I have a place to sleep.
I have a vehicle to transport me to work.
I have a family that loves me
I have a God who cares deeply for me.
I have.
Two words.
I have. I have all this and I am so unhappy. Why? Growing up I wouldn’t always finish my dinner because I didn’t like what I was being served. If you’ve grown up in the south you’ll know that a refusal of finishing dinner is almost immediately followed up with, “There are starving children in Africa that would love to have what you’re eating.” Those memories and words are echoing in my ears, and probably will for a long time. To have the choice to not eat is something most of these people don’t experience.
Recent events in my life have been shaking up the way I see things. I feel God shaking me awake crying out, “My child, why have you lost heart?” Being here… seeing what I am seeing, there are no words to describe. Each and every one of you needs to experience this. There is this feeling like my heart is beginning to beat again.
There is a reason why God says to leave all you have and follow Him. These people, who have absolutely nothing, are more joyous and more filled with life and heart and soul than anyone I have ever met. The ‘have-nots’ have so much that I want.
Today we visited an IDP camp (internally displaced persons) of over 6,000 people. The tarps they lived under were no higher than 4’ off the ground. The closest source of water was a swamp that was several miles away. The children didn’t have shoes. Their clothes were dirty. No one should have to live like that. When we brought the truck with the water filters, an elderly man came up to a group of us shaking our hands and dancing; he was speaking very rapidly in Swahili and we couldn’t understand him. One of the people who lived in the camp, in seeing our confusion, told us what he was saying. “He is saying that you have been sent by God in answers to his prayers. He is so thankful for you to be here and happy with the good that you will do today.” The joy in this mans face moved me to tears. To be emphatically told thank you in another language is something out of this world.
Once we unloaded the trucks and assembled and organized everything we needed to we began the presentation of the water filter. We start with lessons on cleanliness and being healthy; how to wash your hands, when to wash your hands, why you should wash your hands, how to bury garbage, how to wash your fruits, the list goes on. When we first showed them how the dirty water is cleaned by the filter and good water comes out they were amazed. Some of them couldn’t believe it. I still marvel at the contraption because it is incredibly ingenious. We gave out a total of 190 water filters; each one capable of providing over 1 million gallons of clean water. No, it was not 6,000 water filters. Yes, these people have to share. But we have promised to return with more. We have asked that they share with 4 other families. The beautiful thing is, we know that they will share. They have such a sense of community unlike anything paralleled in the united states because what they do not have materialistically they make up for in camaraderie.
Also, in the stillness of all this commotion I think I am beginning to listen to Gods voice. Those thoughts that occur to you out of nowhere, I’m starting to believe is God. While I was staring out into the camp I heard the thought,
“It’s amazing what you find to worry about when you having nothing to worry about.”
In all of this if there is anything I can say to you. Do not lose heart. I do not know your daily struggles. I know my own and at the root of it the problem lies in having lost heart. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” I have seen what happens when people are touched by God. Their lives are restored. Christ says he is the water of life, that analogy has so much more meaning to me now. Just as this water is healing these people so is God’s love. There is so much good being done by Start with One and Peachtree Road and I am honored to be apart of it. There is so much life, so much love, coming from so much heart. Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “A life filled with loving is a life most like the one that God lives, which is life as it was meant to be.”
So I challenge you- Love.
To know God is to know Love.
Let all that you do be done in love.

-Jenni Ivers

PRUMC Feb 2013 --Haberi from Kenya! Habari

Habari from Kenya!
Our PRUMC team made it safely to Nairobi, and despite coming in at different times and on different days , on Saturday (2/16) all of us were finally together. After organizing all of the luggage in the vans, we shared a nice breakfast in Nairobi on Saturday morning and then drove to Naivasha for our first water filter distribution in the community of Kikopey. (Those who had just flown in after a long flight via Amsterdam really had to hit the ground running!)
As we turned off the main road onto a dirt road that seemingly led nowhere, I really wondered where our driver, Rufus, was taking us! And then on the horizon, I saw a gathering of people and a large metal container which looked like one of the large shipping containers I used to see on ships at the port in Morehead City, NC where I spent summers with my family growing up. I quickly learned this container was the church for this community.
Community. My understanding of community has taken on a whole new meaning since spending time in Kenya (this is my second mission trip here). At home, our community is encompassed of our family and friends, community leaders, ministers, business owners etc. just like it is here in Kenya, but in the US they all live in a city or town that is splintered with pretty, distinct buildings each one with a purpose—church, school, hospital, bank, police station, the mall etc. and we usually get to them with ease by riding on paved roads with working stoplights in our expensive cars with air conditioning (and good shocks!) In Kenya, some communities are in the middle of a sprawling expanse of land with no paved roads or formal structures in place and yet, they still have an incredibly strong sense of community, especially their faith community. This particular community in Kikopey didn’t need a pretty building in order to worship, they just needed God and their open hearts. What a humbling experience to be welcomed into and I am so thankful to have been a part of this community for the day.
Our water filter distribution started with several members of our team leading a presentation for the parents and children on how bacteria is passed around and how dangerous it can be to our health even if we can’t see it. We taught this group the importance of using proper hygiene and how they can help themselves and their community if they all committed to better habits, especially with the new, clean water they would now have access to as a result of the water filters they would be receiving. After the presentation, we divided into 5 teams each with an interpreter and 5 members of the community, and demonstrated exactly how to use the filter, and then we made each person in the group practice so they knew what to do when they got home and starting using new water filters.
I was very anxious about doing the small group presentation because I had never done it before, and it was very important to me for it to be done right. I was fretting quite a bit about having to speak to a small group about such an important topic—Would I miss an important step? Would I say something my translator would have trouble translating to the group? Would I make a connection with the people in my group? But God had other plans.
In my group, there was an elderly woman carrying a baby and she immediately starting telling us her story-- the baby was her son’s and was 3 months old, the mother had run away 2 weeks ago and she was left to care for the child because her son was off trying to work as a farm hand. She had no food for the baby and had resorted to mashing up maize or beans to feed them to the child because it was all that she had. The baby was sick because she could not digest this food and the grandmother needed our help so she could care for her grandchild. At first, I was admittedly annoyed because I was ready to do my presentation. We were on a schedule after all, and we had a plan of what we needed to accomplish so we could continue on to Nakuru. Then I stopped and smiled. I realized that God was in this moment and I’m so thankful I didn’t miss it. God needed this woman to be here on this day at this time so she could speak to our fabulous team members, one of whom happened to be a retired pediatrician and the other a retired OB nurse. She also needed access to clean water so that she would be able to prepare some of the other suggestions that were given to her about what she could feed the baby so that she would not get even worse.
When our medical team was done speaking with this woman 45 minutes later, I began my first water filter presentation with an even greater sense of purpose. If I could help teach this grandmother how to use this filter, we could possibly help save her grandchild’s life, her life as well as the other members of the community who had jumped in to help this grandmother care for her grandchild.
How powerful. I can only hope that our team can continue to be the hands and feet of God throughout the rest of this trip and that He will continue to bless us and those whom we meet along the way.
Mungu akubariki (God bless you in Swahili).
  • Whitney Deal