Showing posts from June, 2013

Looking back

As a final chapter to our blog from Kenya, each traveler wrote a brief entry describing one incident she experienced and how it affected her. It’s a small way of showing the value of trip and saying thank you for your investment in these students. To read any earlier posts from the trip, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “older posts.” Enjoy their stories.

Becca “Wanjiku” Bankert

One incident that really changed me on this trip was when we visited the town Maai Mahiu for the first time. We did some home visits and saw the living spaces of two young girls who were high school age but could not be in school because their families could not pay the school fees. After that day, seeing all of the poverty and despair, we all came back to the Daraja House and just cried. I remember feeling so overwhelmed and helpless at how to respond. My faith was broadened because of this experience by seeing the Kenyan Christians relying completely on the Lord and how Isaac and Esther are a bright shining light to the people of Maai Mahiu. I couldn’t help but think of Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” It was so powerful to witness Esther and Isaac working together to bring glory to God’s kingdom and shine their light in Maai Mahiu when at times it can seem so dim. It encouraged me to not be afraid and to shine the light of Christ no matter whe

Rachel “Wangui” Dawson

The Kenya trip was an unforgettable trip that has made a huge impact on my personal life as a follower of Jesus Christ. As I have been processing through everything we experienced, I have realized that one aspect that had a big impact on me was how consistent Kenyan Christians are with prayer. They truly rely on God to provide for all their needs. If they are struggling with their walk with God, this is shared with the church so that they can be held accountable and the congregation can uplift them. They referenced Jeremiah 29:11, “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” Even though they have little to nothing, they know that in God’s time, He will provide. I came back wondering why I hold onto so many concerns, thinking that I could handle them better. We have a Savior who loves us more than anything and he wants the best for us, therefore He will help us through the storms that are p

Sadie “Muthoni” Eicher

It was our first day in Maai Mahiu, the town where Rift Valley Fellowship is located. Before arriving, some information about Maai Mahiu was given to us. We were told there is much prostitution due to the town being a large truck stop. Ninety percent of the population is HIV positive. Many of the children are not able to attend school due to lack of school fees. However, it was not until we arrived in Maai Mahiu that this information took life before my eyes. We pulled into Rift Valley Fellowship, the church Isaac and Esther started. There were several women waiting to meet us. Some were older and some younger. Esther shared a little bit of information about the younger women. There were four of them—Salome, Salome, Jane, and Marcy. They were between the ages of 14 and 19. They are currently not in school because of the inability to pay school fees. Some of their mothers are prostitutes, some are not. It quickly became clear to me the reality that if they do not attend school, their li

Rachel “Wambui” Fox

The first time a few other members of the Kenya team and I ventured down the road from the Daraja House, we were followed by a giggling group of young children. They trailed a ways behind us for a short while before they built up the courage to come closer. Soon they left all hesitation behind and ran on ahead of us. They bounded quickly over rough spots in the road while we wazungu (white people) continued slowly and carefully. Several questions ran through my mind as we continued along the path. This was definitely not the first instance where random children accompanied us on our journeys, so I began to wonder why so many parents allowed their children to run wild with people they did not even know. Were the parents of these children too busy to watch their kids? Were they unaware of what their children were doing? Or were they just super-trusting of white people? When we came upon a waterfall, we stopped to admire it for a bit and take pictures. Dr. Dixon marveled at how much the r

Alexis “Njeri” Kreiner

Nothing could fully prepare me for what I experienced in Kenya. Before leaving, I thought I knew what to expect. We had discussed Kenyan culture in our meetings, we had read about some of the history of Kenya, and we had talked about the role of religion in Kenyan life. I felt like I had a good grasp on what I was going to experience on this trip. As the vans came to a stop in Maai Mahiu, I quickly realized I had been mistaken. I knew that we were here to meet with the Women of Courage, go to their homes, and pray with them. I could feel my stomach begin to tighten as I got out of the van. I said a quick prayer, “Lord, give me the strength to do this.” I had never witnessed this kind of poverty and I feared that the women would not want us in their homes. It was then that God reminded me of the work I had done before the trip. I had learned that Christianity operated in a very communal manner, and this included prayer. While nothing could have prepared me to walk into a tiny, one room

Janelle “Wanjiru” Linder

As I have been trying to comprehend everything that our team experienced in Kenya, I have continued to be overwhelmed. My mind races with new ideas for the people we met and with concepts that we have learned and talked about during our discussion times. One thing that has left a big impression on my heart is the concept of tithing. I have been blessed to be raised in a family that believes strongly in tithing and giving in general. My mom is one of the most generous people I know, not only with the resources she has been given but with her time in various ways. Tithing is automatic for me for many reasons, but one being that I have seen the ways in which the Lord has blessed my family and me personally financially. As we sat in the AIC church in Kijabe I witnessed the majority, if not all, of the schoolgirls and people in attendance put something in the offering plate. These young girls whose parents may be struggling to find enough money for school fees and their daily bread are givi

Amy “Wanja” Miller

This beautiful woman’s story has continued to remain and replay in my mind since we have returned to America. Although I cannot remember her name specifically, her story remains just as powerful. On our last day at Maai Mahiu we traveled to the Internally Displaced People camps to visit members of Rift Valley Fellowship who live within the camps. IDP camps are refugee camps where many people fled to after the violence in the 2007 election. During the election there was intertribal violence and many of the people’s homes were set ablaze, which forced people like her to flee to the IDP camps. People fled to the camp and lived in tents for survival, until Habitat for Humanity provided homes for the individuals there. While visiting the people of these homes, this woman stood out to us. We entered her home and were greeted by a handshake that included her winding in for a slap upon your hand, while she pulled you in for a hug and pat on your back. There was a sense of zest and life to her

Patty “Wangare” Rhinehart

The day my own faith connected with that of the Kenyans the most was near the end of our trip. Esther joined us at our table talk one evening and discussed the importance of knowing that we cannot save everyone. We all found ourselves frustrated at our inability to help all of these people, especially those of Maai Mahiu. When Esther stressed that we cannot save everyone, it was hard to understand. I did not think that helping one person alone could make that much of a difference. While she was telling us this, a story from my life popped into my head. I remember when my friend Ashley told me, “If all the bad stuff I went through could help you alone, then it would be worth it.” This meant so much to me, and the fact that she believed in me like that has stayed with me forever. This also made me think of how Christ pursues us. He came to this earth and died knowing that not everyone would come to Him, and I know that had to break His heart. But I also know that He is the founder of sta

Eve “Wairimu” Smalley

There were so many incidents that affected my understanding of Christianity in Kenya and of my faith in relation to the Kenyan Christians. One specific moment that stands out to me was after church at RVF. One of the street boys came up to me and said, “Forgiven.” I was confused for a second until I realized he was pointing to my foot. He again pointed to my tattoo, which says, “Forgiven.” Then he said, “Forgiven! Yeah, you’re forgiven and I am forgiven.” I was so incredibly touched and it really made me think about how God’s grace transcends all cultures, all mistakes, and is available to everyone. No matter where we have been or where we come from, His grace can cover us. He is always ready to extend his forgiveness, if we only choose to accept it. Though we live halfway across the world from each other we share the same faith and God is God no matter where we are. Throughout the trip I was thankful for the nightly discussions our team had. It helped all of us process everything that