Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Monday - 9/17/12

Monday we were blessed with a day dedicated to rest. We were all able to sleep in as long as we wanted. Typically we eat breakfast at Isaac and Esther's house, but we wanted to give them some time off as well, so we purchased some groceries and made our own breakfast at the ENT house. We made our way up to Isaac and Esther's house around lunch time, hung out and discussed what we would do for the afternoon. There was talk of us either going to an over-look area to see the Great Rift Valley and shop for souvenirs or visiting the Country Club at a Lake Naivasha resort. No one knew where we would end up, but we all piled in the vans and took off!
We started out with a tour of Rift Valley Academy, a boarding school for missionary children, where Isaac and Esther's children attend school. After that, we head towards Lake Naivasha. I had assumed this is where we were going because I knew the over-look locations were the opposite direction. We all enjoyed taking in the beautiful scenery on the way to the Country Club. We even spotted a few wild animals on the way! Zebras and impalas, of course.
When we pulled up to the Country Club, we were greeted with friendly Hello's from the staff. We walk through the lobby to the patio area and the first thing we see is a monkey running along the ridge of the roof. Then I notice a few more monkeys, but there's an interesting black and white one. We watch for a few minutes and then go off to explore. 
A few of us head one direction towards a bridge which we thought would lead to the lake, but ended up being a dining area, while some others stay and begin feeding the monkeys. After seeing what there was in one area, I decided to join in and feed the monkeys. They were so cute! We figured out if you held the food in your hand for a second, the monkey would basically hold your hand before eating the raisin or dried fruit or whatever food you had. I couldn't believe how friendly they were.

Ashley double-timing!
After we ran out of food I decided to head a different direction, which really did lead to the lake. I was excited to find some incredible photo opps! As I get out towards the end of the doc I notice the sunlight shining through a break in the clouds. This was the perfect opportunity to practice the photography skills I've been working on. 
Heather, Jessica, Hayley, Julie, Ashley, Hannah
Brent, Jake, Dmitry
While we're on the doc we keep hearing these noises. We had heard roomers of hippos in the lake, but hadn't seen any. But wait, "What's that!" We spotted 2 hippos showing their faces a distance away in the water. A few of the girls thought it would be a good idea to "call" the hippos, so they began roaring at the top of their lungs. I think we enjoyed laughing at the girls more then watching the hippos, but guess what, their roaring worked! One of the hippos even stood up in the water so we could get a better look!
After the comedic hippo routine, I headed back to the table area to have some chai, my favorite! We were waiting for the sunset so we could get some more pictures. As the sun began to set I got excited about the light. I wanted to experiment with my camera some more, so I headed back down towards the doc to take pictures of the sunlight coming through the trees and finally the sunset itself. 
Heather and I enjoying our Chai!
And again, we were gifted with an incredible Kenyan sunset. 
I think this was the perfect way to spend our day of rest because it was exactly that - restful. The beauty was absolutely breath-taking and we had an amazing experience at the Country Club. God knew just what we needed in order to prepare for the work He had for us in the upcoming week. This is a memory I will cherish forever.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sunday 9/16/12 - Adapted from my Journal

Sunday morning we spent some time discussing and paying about what we expected for the day. Knowing that we were launching weekly worship services for RVF in the afternoon, we prayed for the church to be overflowing with people and that the gospel would be proclaimed.
The girls before leaving the ENT house.
We spent the morning visiting Peter & Agnus in Naivasha. Esther & Isaac have been involved with an orphan ministry there for a long time and now Peter & Agnus are in charge of the ministry. We met 12-13 older orphans who live with their relatives, but are supported by the ministry. It was fun getting to know them.
Scenery as we drive to Naivasha
The dirt road leading to Peter & Agnus's house
They took us to a nearby property that Peter & Agnus are hoping to buy in order to take in many more orphans to live with them. We spent some time fellowshiping at this house, and praying. I pray for the Lord to make a way for Peter & Agnus to purchase this property for the ministry.
Margaret (center) and her sister (left) stand with Peter
as Esther and Isaac (and their daughter Rachel)
talk about the orphan ministry. 
As Esther was introducing the kids to us, she got very choked up as she began talking about Margaret, one of the older girls (16-17ish). Esther later told us about the common practice of female genital mutilation. She said it is very common, very painful, and has very long-lasting effects emotionally. This practice is cruel and hateful. Esther is working to help change lives by protecting these girls. She said once a girl has this done, she is then "mature" and ready for marriage. 

So far, Esther and Isaac have been able to protect Margaret and the other girls involved in this ministry. Praise the Lord! During holidays, when the kids are out of school, the girls usually come to stay with Esther & Isaac in order to protect them from family members who may try to force this custom on them. While talking with Margaret, she told us she wants to finish school and go to university. Education is very important to her and if she were forced to become "mature" and get married, she would no longer be able to continue in her education. Pray for these girls.
Jake praying with one of the boys as we walk back
to Peter & Agnus's house from the property they hope to purchase nearby.
The girls chatting on the walk back.
We left Naivasha to head to Maai Mahiu for church, which was to "start" at 2pm. Of course, we were late. This is Kenya - we're on Kenya TIme. We kept joking about that, but I actually liked it. Things run at a much more relaxed pace in Kenya. I can see both positives and negatives of this cultural trait. On one hand it allows them to be more relational, more caring towards people rather than being so focused on productivity. But, on the other hand, it can be frustrating if you're trying to plan a meeting or event. 

We finally made it to the church and there were already tons of people there, both adults and children, some of which we had met over the last 2 days. I was incredibly encouraged. I love when you pray for something specific and the Lord is quick to answer your prayers. As I sat next to Bob and Julie I told them how excited I was and Bob said "You don't know how long I've been waiting for this." I am so thankful the Lord has given them a gospel-speaking church to be a part of. I pray that they are encouraged and restored through this church.
Esther welcomes us as we begin the service.
Agnus and Esther lead worship.
Many more people have come into the service by now. 
After Isaac preached a spirit-breathed, gospel-centered sermon on grace and not casting stones, (the service was overflowing with people, btw) we served a full meal. Everyone ate until they were full and there was still tons of food left over. I'm not gonna lie, I was nervous about the amount of food being enough, but the Lord was faithful to provide. I felt like it was similar to Jesus multiplying the food to feed the 5000. Granted, there definitely wasn't 5000 people present, but there was at least a few hundred people.
Serving lunch.
Catherine at lunch.
We all played with the sweet kids and I spotted Matt having a deep conversation with a man, Ellude, who we had met the day before when we met before starting our home visits for the day. He was a part of the core Kenyan team helping us navigate the home visits. Come to find out, Ellude had never actually professed Jesus as his Lord and Savior and had been hiding, living a lie for many years. He told Matt that his testimony on Friday had spoken to him. They talked and Ellude confessed his sins to Matt & Isaac and accepted the Lord as his savior!

I praise God for the work he has done in Ellude's life and for the work He will continue to do in him and through him.

I also saw a few ladies I had met previously during home visits. Zipporah was there as well as Veronica and Beatrace. I talked to Beatrace, told her I was glad to see her and that I hoped she would come back the next week even though we wouldn't be there. I pray that the Lord uses RVF to work in her life in a big way.

The hardest thing I experienced so far this year was leaving the kids on Sunday. I had spent 2+ days loving on Catherine and she just clung to me, but then she began asking me and telling me her brother needed a sponsor. Lots of people, kids and adults, started asking for stuff. Even though they had just stuffed themselves with a huge meal, they were still asking for food. I'm not exactly sure why, but it kinda started to harden my heart. Here we had been, loving on these people for 3 days, and it felt like all they viewed us as was rich Americans. It felt like they didn't care about us personally, but only what we could give them. I understand, if they don't ask they feel like they won't get, but I also feel like begging is a part of the culture there. 

I know the Lord knows the needs of all of these people and that we are not responsible for meeting all of these needs. I have to rest in knowing He will use this to glorify Himself, He has not forgotten these people and He will provide. 

On the way home we witnessed the most incredible sunset. I think it was a present from the Lord to help us remember this landmark day in the life of Rift Valley Fellowship and in the lives of the people of Maai Mahiu.

Lord, I love you and I thank you for the way you have revealed yourself to me in the short time we've been here. I pray that you continue to do so. Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I may speak your truth and glorify your name. I love you.


Monday, September 24, 2012

From my journal - Saturday 9/15/12

Beatrace is a woman I met with today as we were doing home visits. She told us she was separated from her husband because she got pregnant when her second son was only a year old and her husband wanted her to abort the baby. She refused and moved in with her mother. She seemed very touched that we came to pray with her. I hope she comes to church tomorrow. I wish I could get to know her more and build a relationship with her. She seems like she just needs a loving friend.

Today I felt more of a language barrier then I've ever felt here. It's difficult to sit while someone has a conversation and Swahili and wait for translation at the end of the conversation. I would love to learn Swahili.

It has been interesting - trying to figure out where my heart is naturally drawn. Is it the women or the children? I absolutely love playing with and loving on the children, but the women need so much love too.

Tomorrow we will get to meet some older orphans that Esther and Isaac help provide for. I am excited to meet them. We will get to see the older Naomi's Village kids tomorrow too, which I am excited about also.

Lord, Help me to keep my focus tomorrow. Keep me present and looking outward and not only inward. Lord, use us tomorrow as you've used us today. I beg that you save souls tomorrow. I long for these people to walk in freedom and to know your love. I praise you for the work you've already done and will do.



Saturday morning started out with some time to fellowship with the Kenyan core team and a few street boys who showed up to hang out. We sang a few songs and then broke up into groups to discuss the day before and pray. I was in a group with Sarah and Catherine as well as James, Phillomina and Agnus.
After our group time we hung out, played games with the boys and then walked to a local restaurant and had a traditional Kenyan meal. Some of the street boys joined us for lunch and I could tell how thankful they were to have a meal.
Hannah, James & Jake playing games with the boys.
Walking to lunch.
mmm Kenyan food.
Ashley and I with our Coca-Cola's.
Peter, a street boy who spent a lot of time with us.
Esther told us later that she had a chance to talk to Peter. He told her he didn't expect to eat dinner that night and that sometimes men hurt his mother, but he and his brother try to stop them. We assume his mother is a prostitute and Peter is abused. It breaks my heart to hear stories like this, but it gives me great hope that Rift Valley Fellowship can be a safe place for people like this, even and especially the children.

After lunch we broke into groups to head out for house visits. I was in a group of 6, but Agnus and I partnered up and visited with people. The first woman we talked with was Beatrace. She is pregnant, has a young son around 3 or 4 years old whose name was Felix, and a toddler who was sleeping whose name was Alex. She told us that she was separated from her husband because he was angry with her for getting pregnant too soon after she had Alex. Her husband wanted her to have an abortion, but she refused and moved in with her mother. Beatrace was very emotional as she told us her story. Although abortion is illegal in Kenya, I'm so thankful she had the strength to stand up for herself and do the right thing even with the pressure from her husband. I prayed for her, invited her to church on Sunday and we went on our way to talk with other people.
Beatrace and I with her sons - Felix (left) and Alex (center).
Francis (in the hat) was a street boy who had joined us for the day.
Agnus and I talked with a few more ladies and then met back up with our larger group and continued walking. We met with one more family. A woman who was walking by stopped and said she'd love for us to pray for her too. Her name was Veronica. She told us she was HIV positive and had problems with her spleen. Esther gave this group an audio bible that spoke in 3 languages - English, Swahili & French.
Esther explaining the audio bible
After that we made our way to the open-air fellowship. There was singing, dancing, playing, and gospel sharing. Lauren gave her testimony and Isaac preached. After Friday we decided it would be better not to translate the sermon because this fellowship meeting wasn't for us, it was for the Kenyans. It is more beneficial to preach in their language than ours. The only translation necessary was for Lauren's testimony. This helped cut down on the time spent there and made it more about the Kenyans than about us.
The ladies singing
Catherine came to visit again
The girls danced with the children
The guys hung out with men from the community
To top off an already great day, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the way home. I love a good sunset. It always reminds me how creative our God is. For me, being a creative person, it stirs my heart for the Lord.