Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Team Update

We had a wonderful 3 page description of our days and highlights from each team, but as often happens, the computer that contained these thoughts completely crashed. The internet has not been possible up until now as well.
So, this is a short "everyone is doing fine" update. Our time at Tenwek Hospital Center was an amazing time to see how the work of the Lord has grown over many years. Their hospital has grown from a one-room "clinic" to a fully functioning center with an ER, Peds ward, Ortho, Therapy, Maternity...even a 5 room OR.
Here at Kipkaren we have been involved in so much; visiting farmers, taking soil samples, leading a pastor's conference, first aid classes, agricultural classes, clinic work (immunizations/inventory) and nightly visits to the children's home. In particular, our visit to the milk cooler was a highlight for everyone; especially since less than a year ago it was a dirt lot. The farmer's co-op has formed its board and is eager to grow, with 150 members already. There have been many new friendships formed and also some familiar faces to reconnect with.
Doug, Deric and Tim will leave us early tomorrow morning for a 2 day "Ag" visit to Embu and will join up with the rest of the team at Nairobi airport. The rest of us will carry on with our projects, then leave Friday to return home (with a Safari on the way).
We appreciate all your prayers and support during this adventure and we have definitely felt God's hand during our many "challenges." Thank you again and we will see you all soon.

The Salem ELI team

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CA Team - Final Blog

Greetings in the name of the Lord!

It has been a couple of days since our last entry. In the meantime, we have had some great experiences here. Sunday started out with baptisms in the Kipkaren River. Todd was asked to assist the pastors, and did a wonderful job, as over 35 people were baptized!
The worship service that followed was amazing. There were so many people standing outside due to the number of youth from the camp and the normal Sunday worshipers that, in just 20 minutes, we took all the chairs and the sound system to the hillside overlooking the river for worship. It was beautiful! Mark was asked to preach for the service and did an outstanding job speaking about the life of Joseph. The children from the children’s home sang a song as well and it is so fun to see 96 kids singing and dancing in unison. They are such a joy to watch.
Yesterday we had to say goodbye to the youth from the camp and the pastors that translated for us during our classes. And after our goodbyes we had a chance to go into Eldoret and then visit the children’s home in Ilula. They greeted us with songs and flowers much like our greeting in Kipkaren. It was a powerful moment for us. The visit was short, but the children there are just as wonderful and we really enjoyed seeing the work that is going on there.
Today is our last day in Kipkaren and we have so far started the day joining Juli before daybreak to watch the sun rise over the valley. After breakfast we broke up into a few groups to go on some more home visits where we prayed for people, some of whom are HIV positive. We also got to visit a woman named Lidia who did our laundry for us while were staying here. She lost her husband about a month ago and is trying to find work so that she can provide for her two children (2 & 4).
We are praying that the work that is going on here in Kipkaren will continue and be a light for many who, like Lidia, need hope and help in desperate times.
Tomorrow, we leave very early in the morning to go on safari, via Nairobi. We will be there 3 days, and hope to have a chance to blog one more time before we return home. Gratefully, the Kenya Airlines strike is over, so we are thankful for all of your prayers toward that end. God is faithful!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

CA Team - Personal Messages

“Jambo” again from Kipkaren, Kenya! We are all well, having just completed a 3-day intense schedule of seminars we were teaching to the local youth (18-35 year-olds). In the coming days, we will join the youth in closing activities, travel to the orphanage in Ilula, spend one final day here helping in any way we can, and then depart to enjoy a safari.
While here, we have been learning a lot about the Kalenjin culture, the dominant tribe in the area. Kenya is comprised of many tribes, and the Kalenjin consider themselves one of the strongest. They are the main source of runners for Kenya, a relatively small country that rules the world of marathons and distance running. They are physically active, walking everywhere, sometimes great distances, as well as working their farms with very little technology and equipment. Needless to say, they are physically strong people, and love athletics such as running, volleyball and soccer. The local area is poor, with few graduating from college or university, as they are needed to work the farm. Most of them are farmers, scratching out a living amidst a drought, and since they depend on rainfall for irrigation, things have been especially difficult lately. But oh, can they worship! They love to dance and sing, songs lasting well over ten minutes each, and worship services regularly running 2-3 hours. Our ideas of “church” have been changed!
We ask you to pray for our travel arrangements as we return. Kenya Airline employees are currently on strike, and since that is one of our connecting airlines for our return trip, I ask you to pray that the strike would be resolved quickly, and if things do not improve, that we would be able to re-schedule our flights easily.
We are so grateful for all of you!

And now, as promised, each of us would like to send a message . . .

Hi, Babe! I sure miss you and the girls! God is doing amazing things in all of us. Can’t wait to see you and tell you all about it. To my support team, thank you ALL for making this trip possible. I feel so humbled to be here on your behalf and look forward to gathering together to show you and tell you everything I have experienced. May God richly bless you all! --Mark

Thank you for your prayers that have helped restore my health. We have received gifts here in Africa beyond what we all imagined. Hopefully we have planted seeds that God will nurture and build upon…. The Helmstedters

Bumblebeetuna! (hope someone gets that haha). Hey there to all who have been keeping up with us and leaving comments of support, keep ‘em comin! It’s so good to hear from home. It’s just been awesome here and I’m sad to think we are almost headed back (ok ok I won’t be sad to see a Starbucks again), but not yet, we are here and going strong! Oh. Happy Birthday to my sister Amber today August 15th! Love you, Bumblebeetuna!.......Amie

Hello from Christy, also known as Jepkigen (which means long awaited which refers to my birth). The trip has been amazing and full of new experiences. I had such a wonderful birthday; it was a great was to start a new year. Thank you so much for all your prayers and support throughout this journey. I can’t wait to be share in detail everything that has happened here we left LAX. Thanks again! Christy

Hey there from Sara, AKA Schom! Hello roommates, friends and family! Mom, I hope you had a wonderful birthday. I love you so much. I am immersed in the most passionate worship music and dance that I could ever have imagined. There have been many times I have smiled until it hurts! So many of the youth at the camp have opened up and shared their lives with us. It will be very hard to leave this beautiful place. Bwana Asifiwe (Praise the Lord).

Jambo or Hello from Kenya, This has been an amazing trip. I thought we knew how to worship being from CA, however they know how to worship in Kenya. I want to say how much I miss my sweetheart Sally and my kids Kali and Kyle. I have prayed for you guys everyday. God is stretching me in unreal ways. I feel so blessed. We have gone on several home visits and the kids at the orphanage are amazing. We have just finished our teaching, 9 seminars. Sally you would have been so proud of Natalie, she was preaching her heart away. I love you all and I love my bride - Todd

Hello everyone from Kenya!!!! Our team has had an amazing time here in Kenya. I feel so blessed to be able to spend time with all of the people here. We just finished our lessons, all 9 of them. Now we get to have fun with everyone here, playing sports and worshiping. Tomorrow we get to see baptisms and my 1st revival service. I miss you all (especially you mom and ka) and I am so grateful for all of the prayers and I can’t wait to show you all the pictures. Love Nat

First of all, thanks again to all of you who have been praying for our team, for the youth camp and for the Kenyan leaders here in Kipkaren. The last 10 days have been great. What fun our team has had. We’ve had a chance to be with the kids from the children’s home. We’ve been able to meet some amazing people and see how God is moving in this community. The stories are too numerous to mention here, but I look forward to being able to share with you all what we have seen. And we’ve been praying that what do here, the little offering that we have, will be used by God. Peace to you all, Eric PS – They have the best chai tea!

What an experience! There is no way that I could have imagined what we would see and do. We have taught 9 lessons each on subjects that were suggested to us by the camp leadership. I taught on forgiveness. Today we were told that a 21 year old male went to one of the pastors after our lesson and said he wanted to be forgiven and gave his life to the Lord. He had also been causing problems with the cooks here at camp. He asked if he could go to the cooks and ask them to forgive him. What a joy to hear a good report. Hey Jimmy, you are missed and wish you were here. Jeannie otherwise known here as Go Go which is Grandmother.

Hey everyone, family, roomies, friends! I miss you but I’m having an incredible time. I finally got my bag back which is a huge relief—thanks for your prayers. My favorite has been singing and dancing with the kids. I can’t imagine leaving… it’s going to be hard. God is humbling me and teaching me so many things. Please continue praying. Don’t worry, I’ll share EVERYTHING when I get home. Love you all, Renee

Friday, August 14, 2009

CA Team - Half-way

Jambo from Kipkaren! Hard as it is to believe, we have reached the halfway point of our trip already. Amie here, and it’s a beautiful morning as we begin our second day teaching at the youth camp. It has been very interesting teaching in entirely different culture! Thankfully we are blessed with interpreters to help us communicate, but we are still learning the best way to word things and encourage participation. It’s a challenge but we are growing and making adjustments and trusting God to help us make an impact.
On a funny note, yesterday a “Girl’s Education” seminar was scheduled in the main hall, so Christy, Sarah and I decided to sit in on the talk to learn more about the culture and to support the Kenyan leaders. The pastor who had been speaking in Swahili the whole intro (so we hadn’t understood a word he said) told us he was leaving and that we could begin the lesson. They were under the impression WE were going to teach the class to over 100 young Kenyan women! Needless to say, we stalled for time until someone could come to save us. It was one of those cross-cultural miscommunication stories you read about, but never think you’ll experience yourself.

The campus in full of hundreds of Kenyan youth from all around and we are thanking God that the electricity has remained on (as the government turns it off 3-4 days a week) which can effect water supplies, communications and other vital functions. But regardless of any obstacles and surprises, we are encouraged and optimistic God will guide us as we serve. It has been so amazing to see how joyful and eager these youth are, considering their lack of luxuries we take for granted.

The Team is feeling MUCH better health-wise but prayers are still needed! I have fully recovered from the stomach bug and Chris is feeling better day by day. Some of the team is having allergy issues as well though, so please continue to pray for our health. We miss you all and thank you for your prayers.

Tomorrow, we will each write a short message, so stay tuned!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

CA Team - Youth Camp Time!!!

Camp is About to Begin!

“Jambo” and “Chemge” from Kipkaren! With the exception of Amie and Chris, who have suffered from stomach bugs, we are doing well. God has been teaching us many things about Kenyan culture and ourselves, as we have experience so many life-changing things.
Picking up where our last blog ended, we went on another day of home visits on Tuesday. Again, we saw the daily life of Kenyans and came away amazed at their strength and resilience in the face of obstacles, and their deep commitment to family and community. We also visited the clinic where Juli meets with patients, and heard her share her vision of developing palliative care for the dying.
One aspect of Kenyan life that impresses us is how physically fit they are. They walk or bicycle everywhere, and are so strong that a walk that makes us huff, puff and sweat hardly stresses them at all! You can see why this area of Kenya produces such great long-distance runners.
We also visited a Milk Cooling Station in Kipkaren that ELI helped found. The purpose of the station is to empower local farmers, by preparing their milk for sale on the open market. Each farmer brings in their milk, it is checked for contaminants, measured and pooled into giant coolers, which ready it for distribution to a milk processor, who pays for the milk. It is an amazing story of God’s blessing. They opened in April, to 26 farmers, who gave 178 liters of milk. In just four months, they now have over 500 farmers who come, and give an average of over 3600 liters a day! ELI is truly helping locals become self-sustaining!

Yesterday, we helped prepare for the annual Youth Camp. We built bunkbeds for campers, helped register arrivals, and met with Kenyan pastors. This is the 11th year they have had this camp, and about 300 young adults from neighboring areas, some walking over 5 miles, have assembled here, tucked in every corner imaginable. It is really quite exciting!
Our role in the camp is to lead discussion groups on various topics: Spiritual Growth, Small Business Development, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Dating, Decision-Making, HIV and AIDS awareness, etc. The campers have been divided into 9 groups of about 30 each, and they will rotate through four one-hour sessions each day. We will each have a local pastor who will translate and contextualize the message so it is most effective.
In the afternoons, we will participate in activities with the campers, such as soccer, volleyball, frisbee, tug-of-war and crafts. It will be a wonderful way for us to connect with these youth through play.
As the camp begins, we would ask you to pray for the following:
1. That we would continue to stay healthy and strong. Amie and Chris are not feeling well, so pray they would recover. For the next two days, we each lead four seminars a day, and we want be at our best, so pray we stay healthy.
2. That any Kenyan youth here who does not know Christ will come to faith. This is a generation under great stress. Pray that God would use us to reach them with the gospel.
3. That God would continue teaching us to serve others.

We are SO grateful for your support, in the form of prayers and comments on the blog. They keep us going!

The Kenya Team

p.s. Here are some photos. Enjoy!