Game Park

Jambo!

The team just got back from the Maasai Mara Game Park (idk if that’s spelled right). It was absolutely amazing! It was a very fancy resort; every night they put a hot thingy mabob in our beds! We were completely unaware that we were going to such a place, though. Jay and Marcia kept the fanciness a secret. Staying at the resort supported a lot of jobs though, and allowed us to really take in God’s incredible creation.

Each day we woke up early (like 6am) to a soft “Jambo” at the tent flap. Then we met in the lobby to get on the Land Rovers that then drove us into the wild. We split into teams; each car had five of us and the driver. Our cars took different paths, and so we saw different things.

However, we all saw the Big Five! (Or in one car’s case the big 4 1/2). “The Big Five” refers to major animals in the area that were once hunted for various reasons. They are: Leopard, Lion, Elephant, Rhino, and the Cape Buffalo. (Apparently water buffalo are only in Asia-sorry Veggie Tales fans). One car saw all of these including the leopard, which are very very rare. We were really lucky! And the other car saw all of these except the leopard. However, the second car got to see a cheetah, soo…

Even when we didn’t see major animals on the all of safaris, it was still absolutely breath-taking. Driving for an hour without seeing an animal was worth it. It was just so wide open. One could see forever in any direction. The tall grass, mountains, and bush created one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. We all felt very blessed and in awe of how big our Father really is.

Even though it was an amazing experience that we all appreciated, we all felt uncomfortable about being there. We had come directly from the streets of Maai Mahiu, where people sleep on the street and kids have to go to the dump to rummage for food. Meanwhile, we were served four course meals that we couldn’t even finish. It was very hard to accept; it still is. We discussed what to do with this dissonance but didn’t really have anything conclusive. We decided that we could still treat ourselves, but have to stay aware of what’s happening and still do something about it.

Overall, this experience was very nifty. Game parks are a part of this country that we are blessed to have seen. We will carry these memories forever and are all going to come back. We miss everyone a lot though, and can’t wait to come home. Enjoy these pics.  Good Night!

Sunday Funday

(by Sarah and Olga)

Jambo! This morning, we were able to attend a church service held by Rift Valley Fellowship. The congregation of this church primarily consists of the women and children this ministry has rescued. When we arrived, we saw everyone gathered under a tent, worshiping in Swahili. The people were praising God through song and dance, expressing an overwhelming amount of joy. We couldn’t help but smile and clap along with them! Rift Valley Fellowship wanted to include us in the service and asked for us to share a song and a few testimonies. We sang “In Christ Alone” and our teammates Noah and Courtney H. briefly shared their stories, which encouraged the people to be faithful and focus on God and the goodness he can bring. One of our team leaders, Jay, was also given the opportunity to give the message. He spoke about how God became man and experienced trouble on Earth just as we have. This encouraged us to know that we are not alone, and have faith in Him.

After the service, we helped the staff of RVF serve lunch to the congregation. We served the food to the youngest first, and worked our way up to the adults. After lunch, we danced to music with the kids. It was so much fun to laugh and see their smiles. We were also able to reconnect with women whose houses we had visited this week! It was so good to further our relationships with them.

After this, the children went off to play activities, and our team gathered to hear the testimony of Joseph, one of the first boys RVF rescued. Joseph and his mother were kicked out of his fathers house after his parents divorced, forcing he and his mom to move to Maii Mahiu. This left them with no resources, leaving his mom unable to take care of him. Jospeh couldn’t handle seeing his mother in such pain, so he left his home to go to the streets. On his own, Joesph would resort to stealing and eating out of dumpsters. This is a common situation for young children in Maii Mahiu, leading many down a dark path of addiction. When RVF first started up, they rescued him. Through RVF, Joseph was fed, had a place to live, and was able to go back to school. Now, at age 23, he has one more year left of high school and is on staff for RVF as a caregiver to the current rescued boys.

After hearing about Joseph’s story, we rejoined with the kids. During this time, one of us talked to a girl not much younger than us. She told us how her family became Internally Displaced Persons due to violence among tribes. Even though she experienced a lot of heartache, she wants to use her story to start an organization helping people in other countries in Africa. A few other teammates circled up with a group of children, singing worship songs together. Hearing stories and praising God together was uplifting! When we had to go, the goodbyes were difficult because the kids didn’t want to stop playing, and it was the last time we would be seeing many of the staff and women of RVF on this trip.

Even though the goodbyes were not easy, we cherished the moments spent with everyone and saw how God can bring such joy in everything.

 

 

 

The Stories We Share

(by Courtney and Courtney)

Hey guys! It’s Courtney squared and we have much to update you on. Today we had the privilege of being able to serve with Rift Valley Fellowship to visit the homes of the families of the children who are in rescue homes. We got to deliver a bundle of food to each of the families as well as being able to ask about their lives. While engaging in fellowship we were able pray for any needs that they had. We came back with experiences that we will remember forever; there were children with bright eyes and wide smiles, women with warm hearts and encouraging testimonies, as well as the faithful women and men who welcomed us into their homes. A few of the homes that we visited today involved some of the women who were part of a women’s Bible study group, Women of Courage. We were able to get a glimpse into their lives, their struggles, their faith, as well as swooning over the creations they had made for us to look at, and eventually purchase.

In the first half of the day, we met with the Rift Valley Fellowship Staff and were able to organize packages of food and other daily grocery items that these families needed such as bars of soap, detergent, rice, sugar, maze, flour, toilet paper, etc. We split into separate groups and headed off to visit the families. One single mother, with two children, spoke with us about how she sews to provide for them and how she struggles to do so, because her husband is not committed to the family. Another woman, who struggled with past bondages of addiction, has come to the Lord and is now continuing on a journey of recovery because of the love and passion that the Rift Valley Staff have for them. Because of all of the progress she has made, she has been able to make a home for herself and her little one. These are just two stories out of the many families that we had been able to visit today, but all of them touched our hearts and we were able to see how God had been working within their lives.

Once we got done visiting the Women of Courage, Isaac’s wife Esther took us to the area where they are starting the process of building a safe home for boys. Boys also fall into prostitution here and find it very hard to live close to Maai Mahu while they are trying to recover. Only a security wall is up at the moment, but Esther told us of the plans they have to set the home up and running by November, where they will be able to house up to 12 boys at a time. What was striking about the area was how silent and peaceful it was. There was hardly any noise besides nature, there were rolling hills and a great view of the lake and mountains. We felt at peace there, and you could tell God was there in the project.

All in all this day has been another way for God show his love through every person that we met. The beautiful people of Kenya have shown us kindness, perseverance, and a faithfulness that God is truly remarkable. As this trip moves forward, the people continue to grow in our hearts. Within the last few days we have been able to see how God has been shaping and molding of both us and the people we have been blessed to serve. We look forward to what tomorrow brings, and we can’t wait to bring you along for the ride.

 

On the 3rd Day..

(by Noah and Taylor)

Hello everyone! We are on our third day out here in Kenya and it’s awesome. Wanna know why it’s awesome? Great, read this.

Yesterday we woke up and had a wonderful breakfast as a team. We indulged on some fruit, beef sausage, and some little bread things (called Mandazi). We left a little earlier than normal due to rain, to take the more mainland (LONG) route. We arrived at Rift Valley Fellowship in Maai Maihu and we were excited for what the staff had planned for us.

The main building of Rift Valley Fellowship

We split into 3 groups, each group had one person from the RVF staff and we traveled alongside them to visit homes of church members. We were just going on this visit to talk with them, learn more about their stories, and pray with them. One instance we remember was a woman named Julia. She was a mother of 8 children, 3 of them were college students (like us) their names were Kevin, Jason, and Allen. They lived in a house made of stone with at least 2 rooms that we were able to see, which is actually larger than some of the other houses we went to. The house was dark, no electricity, or any running water (that we knew of). Outside there was a fenced in courtyard with a garden, where they would grow food to eat and to sell. We huddled around a couple couches and began to ask questions to Julia and her kids. We found out that they college kids go through the same problems we do in school. School’s tough we all know it. We gave the kids some words of encouragement to stay the course with school and reap all of its benefits. We prayed together as one group of believers and it was wonderful. Julia was such an amazing example of being selfless, when we were asking for prayer request she would only say things about her children and family. We were all humbled by this family, and we are blessed to have met them.

After that, we got some lunch, thats all.

at Mangaza, the Internally Displaced People settlement

Next, we journeyed to the IDP camp, IDP stands for Internally Displaced People. The town was called Mangaza (this word means “light” in order to bring hope to the town and the people surrounding it). Here we once more split into groups of 4 (that rhymed). We walked around a large plot of land and began to visit people to learn and pray with them. We were amazed at the fact every person fully welcomed into their home regardless of how small it was. Two of us (along side 1st Peter, RVF staff leader) visited a woman named Anna. While they were there she shared that she has been struggling with lots of things in her life, such as her family we experiencing extreme poverty, with all the struggles that come along with that. Recently she went to the hospital due to a hemorrhage that she hid from her family, it had caused her to pass out. While in the hospital, she was told she had colon cancer and the doctor noticed signs of depression. They wanted to keep her there for two weeks, but she left to return to her son. The hospital bill was 17,600 some shillings, or about $180. They were struck by how this hospital bill was equivalent to just the money our team had brought along, yet it was going to completely change this woman and her family’s life. It was hard to leave these people, but we prayed for all of them.

After this, we traveled back to were we met lunch to debrief with members of Rift Valley Fellowship. The pastor, Isaac, told us a bit of his story. His father left when he was very young, and to provide for him and his siblings his mother resorted to prostitution. He was very upset by this and ran away. He struggled to complete school because of this, but after 14 years he completed primary school (which goes to 8th grade). He didn’t mention at what point he became saved, but eventually he did and went to a vocational school to continue to catch up on his education. And eventually to America to study theology. His experiences and God is what enabled him to plant his church and go after the people in his community. He told us he sees his mother in the women, his sisters in the girls, and himself in the boys. He is an inspiration to us all.

Eventually it was time to finish the day, and we headed back to the guest house. We ate some Kenyan inspired dinner, relaxed for a little. then debriefed as a team to talk about our day. After that we played some games. Jay and Marcia won them both so they probably cheated but we forgive them!

That’s all folks! Keep us in your prayers and add along the people we met yesterday, Stay groovy.

What’s up baboons and baboonettes?

THURSDAY, 5/24  Written by Rusty and Olga

This morning we woke up (obviously) and had some solid breakfast. After breakfast, we went to Moffat Bible College. We attended their chapel where they started off the service by singing Jesus is the Rock in Swahili. That was followed by a third year student who preached on Ephesians 2. They closed in song as well. When the service ended, we joined the students for their chai break. There, we socialized and got to know each other. One of the students, Stephen, was a second year student studying theology. He wants to focus on child ministry after graduating. Another student named Obadiah was a bible/theology major and wanted to pursue his master’s degree in counseling and help at a church with those struggling with addiction. At Moffat Bible College, they offer four majors including: Bible/Theology, HIV/AIDS program, Community Development, and Counseling. We attended a class on the book of Acts. We heard two students give presentations on missions and the struggles of missions, especially in the early church.

After lunch (which was a delicious chicken and rice dish), we took a long uphill hike to Rift Valley Academy. RVA is an international school that primarily contains students of parents doing missions work throughout Africa. It was at a very high altitude so we were exhausted when we got there! The views were amazing, though. The campus as a whole was beautiful. Our leader, Dr. Jay Case, spent 6 years teaching history at RVA. It was nifty to see where he worked in the past!

We finished up our day visiting Martha and David’s house. Martha and David are the parents of Esther. Esther and her husband Isaac are the leaders of the ministry that we are partnering with. One of the things Rift Valley Fellowship does is to rescue young girls and boys who are living on the street and/or being prostituted. From having conversations with them, we’ve learned of some of the difficult situation the children experience and learned that working with the children is a long-term commitment.

On the way to Martha and David’s house, we saw our first ever wild baboon (there was a whole troop of them!!). It was amazing!

Martha and David have the most amazing view you could ever think of. You can look see miles of trees, mountains, and other beautiful scenery from their yard.

At their house, we were treated to chai tea and homemade donuts prepared by Martha. Esther shared some of the Kenya traditions with us. It was cool to hear about how they do weddings differently than us. They make it much more celebratory and it is a full day process. David then told us some of the history of Kenya and the Kikuyu tribe. It was cool to hear a firsthand account of it! On the way home, it down poured and the already muddy and unstable path got even trickier to navigate. But we were safe in our four wheel drive van in the capable hands of Joseph our driver.

 

First Day

Hey guys! We finished up our first day in Kenya! After landing at the airport in Niarobi, we stayed overnight at a guest house nearby. Now, we are staying at a guest house in a small town called Kijabe, at a bible college. During our first day, we visited a ministry in Maai Mahiu called Rift Valley Fellowship. We will be working with them throughout the week. This ministry works with youth throughout Maai Mahui, and their families. They rescue boys and girls off the streets and connect with their mothers, who often go into prostitution.

There have been exceptional amounts of rain, so the roads have been eroded in parts, causing our journey in the vans to be quite eventful! On the way to Maai Mahiu, we passed the second biggest slum in Africa. This slum stretched for miles, which was very eye opening and incomprehensible. After visiting the ministry, they took us out to eat to a restaurant called Cafe of Ubuntu. This cafe supplies the water that we drink here! After eating, they showed us the area they rescue the homeless boys and girls from, and the home they provide for them. Rift Valley Fellowship also feeds them, provides counseling and helps put them through school.

After a long journey back to our guest house, we were able debrief about everything we saw. We are processing what it is like to be a minority and learning so much about this culture and the ways God is working through it!