Start With One - Kenya

Changing the World, One Life at a Time…

PRUMC MARCH 2014 | Start With One - Kenya

A Return to Childhood

A Return to Childhood

Actually, sitting her in front of a computer blogging for the first time ever is a little more intimidating that I thought this morning when I volunteered! When I said that I would fulfill the daily blog for the team my first thought was that wow, what could top our experience yesterday and how can I put that into words to share with everyone. Being on a mission trip for the first time I didn’t really understand the impact that our efforts have on other people’s lives and that if you allow God to lead you, experiences that help fulfill His work will fall into place effortlessly.

Traveling from Naivasha to Kikopy Braden and I struck up a conversation talking about why things we take for granted, such as water and power, are so difficult to obtain in daily life in less fortunate areas. I don’t think we solved any world problems but one topic led to another and suddenly we were discussing business, financial transactions (I was getting an education coming from the Packaging Sales world), and various business investment topics. As my wife Ashley would call them, first world problems. The one hour trip went by in what felt like 15 minutes and suddenly we were turning off the paved road and onto some dirt trails which lead back to the community in which we were to serve today. A few potholes and dirt clouds later we selected the middle of three walking paths to take us to our destination. Our trail lead us into a beautiful, dry valley, invoking thoughts that we were somewhere in Arizona. As we pulled up to the church, we saw farmers tending their fields and a group of folks awaiting our arrival at the community church. Next to the church was a temporary tent as our mission today was to have a health clinic plus educate and distribute 60 clean water systems to the community, two events which our team was eager and capable of conducting.

As we unloaded from the bus, you could see the folks faces and their sheer happiness that we were there in brotherhood with them. Before half of our group unloaded, there must have been at least 30 kids who were clamoring around looking for someone from our team to play with (a number which soon ballooned to over 50). As the medical personnel from our group set up shop for their clinic (joined by 4-6 people from the local government helping with immunizations) the remainder of our team split up and conquered the two tasks of prepping the water filtration systems each family was to receive and getting some games (arts and crafts, red rover, and parachute) started to keep the kids occupied. The first game we played with the kids was one of the large parachutes, you know, the one that we played with in grade school and bounced the balls up and down…shaking the chute vigorously. The same chute that when we raised above our heads simultaneously and then ran under before it fell to the earth, would hold the air and for and “parachute igloo” in which we all could sit. As more kids came to play with the chute, I migrated toward the water filtration prep and helped finish the team assembling those. After completion, Chat mentioned to a few of us that there was an IDP camp about 100 yards away and that we should take a walk over. Robert and I were a little impatient so we went ahead and started our walk ahead of the group. As we were walking over, the remainder of the group who were free to come, strolled over lead by Bill. As we walked into the camp, for some reason I closed my eyes and took in the sounds and smells of the area in which we stood. My first thought was that if dropped from an airplane blindfolded, I would take off the blindfold and be standing next to my Grandad’s barn in Springdale, SC in the summer. My grandfather was a dairy farmer and as a kid I distinctly remember the sounds and smells associated with his farm. Standing today, I heard those same sounds…chickens, goats, cows and smelled the same aroma’s…not all pleasant I must say. Opening my eyes, I realization set in that this was not Springdale, SC but Kikopy, Kenya and this was certainly no farm, but the homes these displaced people have lived in for more than 4 years. Please understand that when I say homes, I mean four walls constructed of blue gum sticks, and covered with tarp. The entire structure was no more than a 10’ x 10’ areas and less than 6’ tall. Standing there I thought to myself that the animals at my Grandad’s had it better than this and we have to figure out a way to help Bill’s organization continue to show God’s work through us in their lives so that they have hope to continue to try and gain a better life for themselves and their families.

As we made our way back from the IDP camp, we noticed that most of the work our team was set to do was well underway….water filter systems were set and the heath clinic line was out the door and around the building. I noticed before I left for the IDP camp that a soccer ball was one of the things pulled from the bus and one of the middle age kids was juggling with it. As a fan of the game of soccer, I went over to pass back and forth and before you know it we had a group playing, 1 touch, 2 touch and then 5 v 1, 4 v 1, and then 3 v 1 as we lost participants due to the heat. This pretty much let me know how I was not nearly as fit as I was when I played soccer growing up but had a blast playing with the kids, aged from probably 8-15 in a game the world loves. After we finally called it quits with the soccer, and while another group was playing duck duck goose, we could a couple other young boys who wanted a couple of us to chase them. Bad idea when you are already tired as they ran circles around us for a hour. After catching our breath for a very quick lunch, the afternoon brought on the guys in the group basically being turned into jungle gyms (now I know why jungle gyms never made it past one kid…wow). Right before the group was do to the training on how to use and care for the filters, I looked around and saw Scott sitting with a group of kids, indian style, washing their hands and teaching them the proper technique. Darin and Jim were standing there with two kids each just holding their hands. Lane and Julie were gathering up kids who wanted to go play an organized game. We played as a group all afternoon with the kids and to see the smiles on their faces is something I will never forget. Yesterday, A day that I thought would not be able to be topped, was absolutely blown away by today. An event where I though we would be giving out water filters and conducting a health clinic was completely transformed into a day in which our entire team spread the love of Jesus though the interactions with the kids in which we played with.

Tonight, in recapping the day, the overwhelming theme I heard from each teammate was the sheer joy everyone had in playing with those kids. A day in which I was unsure what to talk about in this blog at the beginning, through the course of the day and the guidance of God had an overwhelming theme. Children. In looking though their eyes and their innocence, these kids did not comprehend yet the world in which the live. All they wanted to someone to hug them, to hold their hand, to play a game with. All kids take us back to our own childhoods if we just stop and let them. The simple task of holding a child’s hand can mean more to them then buying gifts or pampering with fancy clothes, etc. For Jesus said in Mathew 18:3-6, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me”. As an expectant first time father, I certainly am going to take with me the lessons learned today and work my best to teach our child God’s great news and love. My hopes are that today, our team showed the kids we interacted with a loving and caring God and that we have all touched their lives in a way that will lead them to hope and Christ.

Lala Salama!

Thursday- Construction Project at Gitumba

Thursday- Construction project at Gituamba

At home I pass road construction on a daily basis and if I give the construction a thought at all it is usually frustration over my travel delay.  Today was different.  As we left our hotel to go to the construction project we drove past men digging a trench on the side of the road with picks and shovels.  The lack of machinery struck me as a vivid reminder of some differences between home and this beautiful country.

Today was also a wonderful reminder of the similarities we share with people around the world.  We traveled to an IDP camp to pour footers - 2 feet deep x 1.5 wide ditch to fill with concrete and steel.  The footers are in a large barn structure and will support future walls of a sanctuary and classrooms.  There is one classroom existing and when we arrived at the barn you could hear the teacher teaching her students just as you would at a preschool in Atlanta.  The classroom was a little different (no tables or desks, just little wooden benches, two tarps with the alphabet hand painted, and a chalk board), but the students were listening and learning.  The personalities of the children came out quickly - Mary has a wonderful smile and infectious laugh, Susan is shy and protective of her baby brother Charles, Peter loved to color, the list goes on and on.  Just as children at home, these children  radiate God's love through their hugs, handshakes, sitting on your lap, playing a game a chase, and delighting in the taste of candy.

While the children were singing the alphabet, coloring, and playing, several of the the team members were busy mixing sand with cement powder and water to make concrete.  By mixing, I mean back breaking labor of using a shovel to manually act as a cement mixer machine- it was fascinating.  Working with some of the community members and our team to mix and then pour the concrete into the footer was certainly a first (side note: another first was seeing camels in a field on the drive).  What really struck me is that we were laying the foundation for a future church and school.   A school in this location means the children will not have to walk miles along dusty, dirt path.   The thought of walking miles each way to school is hard to fathom, but is the reality here.

Similar to our friends and family, this community of people are gracious and good hosts by embracing us and offering food and drink.  This act of giving is much more selfless than hosting a dinner party in Atlanta because they have so little, yet did not hesitate to share.  One man, Issac, opened his home to show us how he expanded his one room house into three rooms to provide a bedroom for his girls.  It was readily apparent that he took pride in his home.

Today was incredible - the differences and the similarities.  I thought a lot about the foundation we created for a school and church.  Similarly, God laid the foundation that enabled each of us to come to Kenya and to show His love for the people at Gituamba.

Julie Sellers

Wednesday - Amazing Experience

Today was such an amazing experience! We joined together this morning for our daily devotional which focused on loving your neighbor and the impact that we can make even as just one person with God. Following this, we set out for an action packed day. We met some of our Kenyan friends, Pastor Paul and Reverend Moses, and went with them to a young vibrant Methodist Church, "Sanctuary", in Naivasha. The service was a little different from PRUMC's typical Sunday morning. They started the service with singing and dancing outside and this continued after everyone, or at least everyone that would fit, was inside and then we were introduced to all of the church leadership. The message, given by Reverend Paul, focused on our "Uncle Sam" and how just as he called soldiers to join the U.S. Army, God has called each of us to serve him and to go when we are called whether it be across the world or just down the street.  It was such a blessing to worship with these wonderful people. Even though their church did not hold all of their members (many were watching through the window from outside or through the open doors), had a tin roof and in a climate just as warm as ours did not have any air conditioning; the members of this church had such a passion and joy for Christ and it showed through each time they spoke or sang or even danced. After the service we had the pleasure of distributing food from Serv International to each of the members of the church. One of the most exciting parts of the day for me was getting to help distribute 70 water filters to families in the church. All of the recipients were so excited to receive the filters and to learn how to use and maintain them.  Last, but certainly not least, we took several of the children to Lake Naivasha for a picnic and a boat ride - that included hippo, wildebeest, giraffe and monkey sightings! The children had such a wonderful time, most of them had never ridden in a boat before, and we certainly had a great time too! This cannot really capture the emotion and essence of such an incredible  day, but I can already feel God working within our Mission Team and I cannot wait to see what his plan holds for us as we continue our journey here in Kenya.

Jade Perrett

Tuesday - IDP Camp

Good Evening Peachtree Road,
Today we have visited an IDP (Internally Displaced Personnel): we treated hundreds of Kenyans, dispersed 225 water filters, and entertained Kenya kids.  This was an absolute amazing not only team effort, but experience to witness as these Kenya civilians have been part of multiple tribes, some of which have at one time seen each other as enemies and now learning to live side by side.  There were multiple language in which we had to translate and I cannot say enough about our medical team and Start With One Kenya.  We truly have an amazing group of 19 people from the states and countless local efforts. 
When we woke up, we drove an hour and a half out into a deserted plain where the government has relocated these Kenyans.  This is 10’s of miles away from any sort of civilization, water, and electricity.  It was amazing to see the camaraderie of the community.  The people there could not have been more appreciative of the time we spent with them and the help we offered.
I have had some amazing experiences today, however some of the best were when we personally handed out the water filters to the individual Kenyans and the reaction they demonstrated to us.  Their faces lite up and would shake your hand for a minute straight.  One unexpected experience we encountered was one of the buses breaking down.  This turned out to be an amazing experience.  We met some incredible kids who were well educated and extremely intelligent.  They still were walking miles for water as well as for schooling, but so bright. 
This is absolutely incredible experience and I recommend it for anyone even remotely considering it!
God bless Kenya,
Robert Bairstow

Saturday TIK

PRUMC Blog Saturday March 8, 2014

Today started early, particularly after the team arrived at the Methodist Guest House around 10:30 p.m. We were all thankful for our safe travels and that all of the luggage and team bags arrived when we did. After breakfast, we had our first team meeting in Kenya in which we discussed the plan for the day and some of the key concepts about being in this beautiful country—friendship, both among the group and with those we meet during our trip, and flexibility. One of the ways flexibility was described is in the term “This Is Kenya”. Well today turned into a TIK day. As we left Nairobi on our way to Navasha, the plan was to have lunch as a small restaurant just outside Navasha and then go to Sanctuary UMC to do a water filter distribution. Lunch was at 11:30 and the meeting at the church was to start at 1 p.m. On the drive over, the pastor called to ask if we could move the distribution to 4 p.m. since many of the persons to receive a filter were working. Since a distribution takes about 1 ½ hours, we ask if it were possible to be a bit earlier than 4 p.m. After securing the pastor’s agreement to work on the time and call us back, we arrived at the restaurant just as scheduled. The grounds were lovely and filled with animals—a mama cat and kittens, 2 German shepherds and ponies—and it was a beautiful day to sit outside and have a meal. We had called in our order when we left Nairobi so we were hungry and excited about the brick oven pizza for which the restaurant is known. Then TIK kicks in—baking the pizzas was a bit more time consuming than the restaurant had estimated so lunch arrived about 1:15. Since the filter distribution was postponed to later in the day, this did not present an issue and we spent the time getting to know one another better—a big plus for the day. Then TIK happens again—the pastor called and ask if the filter distribution could be postponed until Sunday when the team was to attend services at his church. Of course we said “no problem”. Since the restaurant was located on a beautiful farm located on Lake Navasha, we ended the afternoon with a drive through the farm to see zebra, cape buffalo, wildebeest and other animals. Now we have checked into our home for the next 2 nights—Panamora-- and are settling in for the night. As I think over the day, I have to wonder at how sometimes God’s plan for our day and the plans we make turn out different and the why there is that difference. I believe there are special things this mission team will do while we are in Kenya and maybe that special thing today was to spend time with each other. Time which will give us more knowledge about and trust in each other as we go through this week of servicing those in need in Navasha and Nakuru. It was a good day even if it did not go as we had planned. Tomorrow’s plan is church, water filter distribution and an afternoon boat safari with about 50 children. Can’t wait to see how God’s plan unfolds tomorrow!