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Showing posts from May, 2013

Why didn't we get that on video?

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This morning after breakfast we learned how to make our favorite Kenyan foods from Jane, the Daraja House cook. Some of the recipes we learned to make were chipatis, chai, tortilla chips and ugali. We are excited to try out these recipes for all of you, but we may need to practice first!

Some of us played card games while others finished up last-minute packing for our journey home tomorrow. After we finished packing up, we had some free time so we decided to go back to the vine and take our turns swinging. We shared a lot of laughs and have some funny stories to tell when we get home. Unfortunately we didn’t get it all on video.

Later in the afternoon, Esther and Isaac and some of their fellow RVF staff came to visit us to talk about our time with them. We sang worship songs in English, Swahili, and Kikuyu. We also shared stories about how we have been impacted by this trip, specifically in Maai Mahiu.

This evening we had the opportunity to go to Isaac and Esther’s home for dinner and fe…

Bartering for bargains

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Today we made one of our last trips to Nairobi for some last-minute shopping. We went to the Sarit shopping center, which again looked more like an American shopping mall. After spending some time there we went across the street to the Blue Dukas, which are small shacks in which the owners have souvenirs and their trinkets to sell. This was definitely an interesting cultural experience! As soon as we stepped into the dukas the people descended upon us.

It was so overwhelming at first; every shop owner was trying to pull us into their shops and trying desperately to convince us to buy something. Once we became more confident we were actually able to barter with them and make some good buys. It was fun to experience more parts of this culture and to learn from them. In the short amount of time we have been here I am so grateful for all the different cultural experiences we have had.

On our way back from shopping we stopped and bought grilled corn on the side of the road. As soon as the va…

Coming to a close

Our time in Kenya is quickly coming to a close, so we wanted to let you know what to expect for communication over the next few days.

First, we’ve been using a pay-as-you go cell phone plan, and our current block of airtime has been used up. Since we’ll be leaving so soon, we’ve decided not to purchase another block. So the next time you’ll hear from us by phone, we’ll be in Dulles Airport in Washington. We’ll be calling to let you know we’re on our way and when to expect us in Cleveland.

Second, we will have limited e-mail access today (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday). If you don’t hear anything from us, it’s just because we’re very busy with some last-minute tasks and packing. Friday and Saturday we’ll be traveling, so you won’t hear from us then.

Finally, we will try to update the blog tonight (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday), even if it’s only a brief message to let you know we’re OK. As with the cell phone, however, we’re using a pay-as-you-go internet plan, so if we run out o…

Spiritual safari

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The Kenya team had another early morning today! We left for a morning safari ride at 6:15 a.m. With Benson and Wilfred at the wheel, we traveled through the game park once again. From the vans we watched the sunrise, an incredible display of God’s creativity. We were blessed to see more buffalo, impala, and zebra today! These animals were together in incredible numbers today—at one point, we counted over 25 zebra in one place! The baboons were awake and active as we traveled this morning. They were in the road, in the trees, and in the brush. We drove to a lookout point where the baboons came a bit closer than some of us expected. After snapping a few pictures of the view, we headed back into the vans before the baboons decided to revolt.

We headed back to the lodge and arrived just in time for 9 a.m. breakfast. After enjoying our morning meal, we packed our things and prepared for our journey out of the park.

Although we did not get a glimpse of the “Mufasa” we all wanted to see, we we…

Today we were tourists

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After an early departure from Kisumu this morning (6 a.m. to be exact) we were on the road to Nakuru. It was about a 5-hour drive with all of the construction and traffic of the roads. I think we all are becoming a little more accustomed to the roads and driving in Africa. Our first few days here all of us would be wide awake and sitting on the edges of our seats wondering how our drivers, Benson and Wilfred, would make it down these roads. The roads are so skinny and it is a rare treat if they are paved! Potholes, bicycles, motorcycles, donkey carts, and fellow “matatus” are just a few of the obstacles we go through each day on the road. But by this point in the trip, we all have grown to trust our dear drivers and know that we will get to where we need to go when we are in the hands of Benson and Wilfred (and the Lord). So needless to say, most of us slept for that 5-hour drive, through the bumps and all. We stopped when we were about halfway for breakfast, which was chai and mandaz…

Six hours of church

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Our day began by leaving for church at 7 a.m. We attended Kisumu Friends Church this morning for two services. All of the women were able to go up front to perform a song we had prepared the night before; we selected the song Blessed Be Your Name. The song went well but with little preparation we all felt a little uncomfortable. Dr. Dixon was able to preach a message he had prepared from Ephesians. During his message he had a translator who spoke to the non-English-speaking congregation members. After the service was over we all gathered outside and they had a system that required everyone to shake hands with every single person present at the service. Once we had greeted everyone we sat down with a few of the congregation members to have some chai tea and mandazi (doughnuts).

The first service was over around 9 a.m., and the second service did not start until 11 a.m. During our wait we sat around and talked to some of the church members. Some of us entertained ourselves in a variety o…

The adventure continues

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Our safari (Swahili for trip) to the city of Kisumu has brought with it many new adventures as the Kenya that had we had started to feel comfortable with in Kijabe seems to have changed into an entirely different world. Today especially was a struggle at times as we tried to process all of the changes as we went about our day.

The day began with a trip to Kaimosi with our tour guide and contact here, John Muhanji, Director of African Ministries for the Friends (Quakers) in Kenya. The car ride included crossing from the Southern Hemisphere into the Northern Hemisphere. We all took gleeful photographs as we stood with one foot in each hemisphere!

In Kaimosi we visited the missionary complex from which the entire history of the Friends church in Africa stems. In 1902, three graduates from the Cleveland Bible Institute (which later became Malone University) came to Africa, went as far inland as the currently constructed train would take them, and began their mission in Kaimosi. They began g…

A new venue

Just a very quick, incomplete posting today. Our main objective was to travel from Kijabe to Kisumu in western Kenya on the shores of Lake Victoria. That was achieved--we're here safely and met our contact with the Kenya Friends. A trip we expected to take less than six hours took over nine, thanks in part to extensive road construction in one section. For most of the trip, the roads were fine, but the final section was very slow.

One highlight for the day was stopping to get sugar cane from a tractor that was bringing it in from the field--can't get much fresher than that!

Tomorrow we head to Kaimosi, the birthplace of the Friends in Kenya. On the way, we'll cross the equator back into the northern hemisphere. We're looking forward to connecting more with the church here and learning about the ministries they have and the challenges they face.

More tomorrow.

To grandma's house we go

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Habari family and friends,

Each day we have been greeted by the cows mooing and the beautiful sunshine; this morning was no different. After breakfast we traveled literally over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house. Our team had the privilege of spending time in the humble home of Martha and David (Esther’s parents). Over hot chai, homemade chocolate doughnuts, carrot cake and zucchini bread David willingly told us about some of the history that his country and tribe have gone through as well as some of the gruesome acts on both sides of the battle line in the fight for independence. Also at their home Esther talked about coming back to the states with Isaac and her girls and how she felt racism from both African Americans and whites. Through her addressing the problem head on, Esther got to be friends with a woman who at the beginning displayed so much hate toward her and her family. Because of both David and Esther sharing we are getting glimpses into their stories and …

Your kingdom come

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Today was our last day at Maai Mahiu. On Wednesdays Rift Valley Fellowship provides a group for both men and women to come together to pray, worship, and share a meal. Dr. Dixon and Dr. Case went off with the men while the rest of the group stayed with the Rift Valley Fellowship women. This group is referred to as the Women of Courage. And they truly are women of courage. They all are facing similar hardships but come together every Wednesday to pray for and encourage one another. Several women shared stories of how God is working in their lives. God is providing finances, healing sickness, and offering hope. It still amazes me to know the struggles these women face daily yet they truly have courage that God is in control. One woman named Rose even shared Jeremiah 29:11 to proclaim God has a plan and purpose for her life and the lives of others. And I praise God the Women of Courage know this truth!

After the meeting with the Women of Courage was over we were faced with some culture sh…

YOKO (You’re Only in Kenya Once)

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This morning we traveled to Naivasha to visit with missionary and journalist Shelley Arensen at his house. Before we began our discussion Patty experienced a piece of Kenya when a safari ant bit her on her big toe.  Arensen, a lifelong resident of Kenya, is the editor of a local magazine called Old Africa, which discusses the history of East Africa. He is a missionary to the Ndorobo tribes and has spent many years building friendships with the people and learning their languages. After the informative discussion we picked up samples of his magazine and sipped a nice, cold glass of limeade.

Afterward we left we headed back to Rift Valley Academy for lunch and a presentation to the high schoolers. They had the opportunity to ask us questions about college life, specifically college life at Malone. While we were there some things we talked about were: our favorite things about Malone, things to do in Canton and basic classroom and campus statistics.

For the rest of the afternoon we had the…

Eddie was the best kisser

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Today was a relaxing day for our Kenya team. We headed out bright and early to Nairobi and made our first stop at the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. When we arrived there it was surprising to see mainly tourists and very few Kenyans. I guess this means we are becoming more accustomed to being here!

The baby elephants were adorable and it was far better then any zoo you could possibly go to. There was a roped in area in which they brought the baby elephants and they fed them bottled milk and in which we could watch them play in the mud. We were even able to pet them. The youngest baby was only about a month old and they ranged in size and ages. Most were orphaned due to their parents being poached for ivory. This center rescues orphaned or injured elephants and tries to preserve the species.

Our next stop was the Giraffe Center. This is a place where they are working to preserve a variety of giraffe that is endangered. Walking up to these creatures was amazing; they are beautiful and uniq…

A little taste of heaven

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What an incredible Sunday for the Kenya team! We began the day with an English service at the local Africa Inland Church. The building was filled with students from the Kijabe Girls High School. More and more people filed into the building as the morning went on. Packed in the church, we worshiped through songs such as “You Are Holy” and “Create in Me a Clean Heart.” The whole church swayed as we raised our voices to the Lord. Two groups from the Kijabe Girls High School sang for the congregation this morning. We were so blessed by their beautiful voices.

The sermon was focused on James, chapter one. The pastor encouraged the congregation to listen to the Word of God and most importantly, to act on the Word of God. We had the opportunity to see this teaching in action at Rift Valley Fellowship where we attended an afternoon service. The Kenya team was able to interact with several of the young people in the youth group at RVF. Several of them were orphans and others were what Isaac cal…

Beautiful views and baboons

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Today was a pretty relaxed day in which we just got to see more of Kijabe and spend some down time hiking around the village. We ate breakfast around 8…everyone is starting to really fit into Kenya where time is thought of very loosely. After breakfast we walked to RVA (Rift Valley Academy) to watch the high school girls and boys volleyball teams play in a tournament. RVA is starting to feel like our second home, after the Daraja House. When we are at RVA I tend to forget that I am in Africa. They are just regular high school students who play basketball and soccer and play in volleyball tournaments. Both the boys and the girls won their matches (Go Buffalos!).

After the volleyball tournament we walked back to Daraja House for lunch and then went for a hike. We went further down into the valley to the edge of an airstrip for an absolutely beautiful view! From where we were standing you could see down into multiple villages, plenty of fields, and both Mount Suswa and Mount Margaret. It …

A free verse poem

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To RVA we climbed,
to see the flag raising in the nick of time
The flag was raised while the Kenya anthem played
The melodies echoed across the way

Moffat students came to us
We all sat down and we discussed
As we sat monkeys attacked
we all screamed as a way to react

Then we ventured to Moffat Bible School
A tour we had, the weather was rather cool
We saw the campus, which was filled with bliss
From the students who gathered that we will miss

Our day concluded atop the roof
while we danced and acted like goofs
Neighboring children watched our show and sang
and danced to the tunes that were known

One final meal we ate
then headed to bed before it got too late

We hope you all enjoyed our short poem, now for a real synopsis. In the morning we went to Rift Valley Academy to watch the chapel, which included a flag raising ceremony with the Kenyan anthem. When we returned to the Daraja House we met with students from Moffat Bible College, and we discussed Christianity in eastern Kenya. We also answered ques…

We all cried

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Today we all experienced many new feelings as a result of the seriousness of our touring. It’s difficult to put all these emotions into words, but in short there were many tears shed throughout our debriefing session this evening.

The missionary couple who have provided us with our housing, Isaac and Esther Munji, took us to their church plant in Maai Mahui, a new church entitled Rift Valley Fellowship, this morning. Maai Mahui is located along a major interstate through Kenya and therefore invites many truck drivers to stop along their drive. This situation encourages prolific prostitution, as the severely impoverished women there have no other form of income. Isaac and Easter have taken these women in and tried to find other work for them. Today, several of these women, who have become dedicated members of the church, brought us to their homes. I personally visited five of these homes. Never before have I witnessed such dramatic poverty and my eyes have been forever opened to how inc…

Incredible Day 1

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Disclaimer: the description that you are about to read will not even come close to describing in full all of the incredible things we did today…

Everyone on the team slept soundly on the very hard, but somewhat comfortable bed last evening. (Please pray that this will continue in our days to come!) Breakfast was ready for us when we came downstairs. It consisted of: bananas (not processed- YAY), cereal with warm milk, coffee, juice, chai tea and omelets prepared to our liking with the options of tomatoes, cilantro, onion and a spicy combination of unknown items.

From breakfast we went to Rift Valley Academy (a boarding school where Dr.Case taught and Dr.Dixon attended). There are around 475 students from grade 1 to 12. Most of the students are missionary kids who are receiving an American education while their parents are in the mission field somewhere in Kenya. We learned that they are on trimesters and have chapel and a tea break every day.

While walking back to the Daraja house I witn…

We made it!

We made it!

That’s probably the most important bit of information—we arrived safely in Kenya with minimal travel problems. By the time we got here we were all pretty exhausted.

Day 1 involved driving out to Kijabe, the town where we’re staying, and settling in at Daraja House. On the way we stopped briefly at a mall to exchange money and at an overlook of the Rift Valley for a few pictures (to be posted later). Even though the weather was cloudy, the view of the valley 2,500 feet below and the mountains on either side was breathtaking.

In the evening we stayed awake long enough to begin processing some first impressions—the traffic and driving in Nairobi, the crowds of people walking along the roads, the security operations in the airports and in the mall, the contrast of wealth and poverty evident everywhere.

Now that the travel is done, we can begin to focus on our purpose in coming. The next couple days will be busy in this area getting oriented to people and ministries around us.

One week to go!

A week from today we'll be on our way!

In the meantime, the academic course related to the trip, The History of Christianity in East Africa, is underway online. Today we start with a reading from a missiologist about how Christians in different times and places express their Christianity in culturally relevant yet faithful ways, and how the broad scope of the church across the centuries and across time is needed to even begin to express the fullness of God. A second reading is by Jomo Kenyatta, providing a sociological description of Kikuyu culture, the dominant culture in the area where we'll be spending most of our time, around Kijabe.

It's a busy time, but we hope the intense, thoughtful preparation this week will pay off next week to help us understand some of the things we're seeing.