Wednesday, April 28, 2010

4/28/2010 Final checklists and packing

We finally head 'em on out tomorrow morning.  Everything is ready for final packing and checklists are being double-checked.  When you travel as light as we do, you don't want to forget that one essential item that will make life a little easier and you also don't want to take anything you won't need.  One of the guys on the leader's pre-trip in March has a rule that if you take something on 3 trips in a row and don't use it, it doesn't go again.  The support that our team has received from family, friends, church and community has been wonderful.  Even if this particular type of evangelism and the way we are showing the love of Jesus in the form of freely meeting the vision needs of the Kibera community isn't something my acquaintances would ever do in a million years, nearly everyone I encounter has had a word of encouragement. 

I've been pondering what I will do for our daily devotions on this trip.  Of course, we always encourage everyone on the team that would like to lead a devotion to do so.  As for me, I've almost got too many ideas, but I know that my devotions will be focused in one way or another on following the example that Christ left us in caring for people both physically and spiritually.  Whether building churches in Mexico, helping with hurricane disaster relief near Galveston or working in Kenya, we normally have a devoton over breakfast just for our team and then one in the evening after dinner that usually involves reflecting on the situations and people that God placed in our path that day.  While we always base these sessions on Scripture, the variety of perspectives and personal stories is always something I look forward to.  It's one of my favorite parts of any mission trip.  I'm hoping to also lead some of the devotions at the church before we start work each morning.  Last fall, Pastor Kevin would lead them for the team and the 40 or so local church workers and volunteers in Kawangware.  He did a very nice job of using Mark's Gospel as a basis for them.  I may follow his lead in this regard.  Time will tell whether Pastor Dennis or the local congregational leaders will have a plan of their own for morning devotions, worship and praise or not.   Either way, I'm going to stand at the ready.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

4/27/10 - Preparation for the trip continues...

I've developed a new appreciation for what it means to be the team leader of one of these mission trips. There are many details that pop up that you would never expect. We had one team member that had to cancel due to health issues earlier this year and God gave us another to take her place in the person of Sharon Brudner. Sharon was also wtih us last November and it will be a joy to work with her again. She has lots of frequent flier miles and was able to get flights that allow her to meet up with us a Heathrow Friday. There was some doubt right up until the last minute that she could make this happen. We checked everything this morning and it all worked out great, with her having at least a 4 hour layover to get from one flight to another in both directions. One less detail to worry about. Another travel concern that we didn't have last November is that British Airways has implemented a policy of only allowing one carryon per person with no personal item that can be stowed beneath the seat in front of you. We will each be placing our personal item in half of a footlocker and will be able to retrieve it when we unpack in Nairobi. Each team member only gets a total of the carryon and personal item to hold everything that they need for the 11 day trip. You might ask, what about your two pieces of checked luggage that you are allowed? We have 60 team members going on this trip and at least 80 footlockers full of equipment, reading glasses, lenses, frames, supplies, etc. for the clinics and most of us will need to check two footlockers to help be good stewards for the overall mission budget. Each extra piece of checked luggage is exhorbitant and great care has been taken by Gus Jacob and his crew in Tomball to make sure none of the footlockers is overweight. Experienced international travelers know that it is pretty amazing how little you really do need to take with you. Not having my personal iterm, means I need to rearrange things so that I have my laptop, camera gear, MP3 player and noise canceling headphones all with me in the carryon and things that would usually be in the carryon will be shifted over to the backpack. I personally wear a fanny pack (I never thought I'd see the day when that would happen or that I would admit it!), because it is easier than emptying out all of your pockets for every security check. More travel tips and musings to follow as I think of them....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

4/25/10 - Spring 2010 Mission Trip Commissioning

Well, it finally became real to me this morning that it's now time to once again prepare to saddle up and ride into the mission field. The vision clinic team for the Nairobi slum of Kibera was commissioned at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Austin, TX at all three Sunday services. The team, pictured above is (from left to right) Dave DeVore, Martha and Thomas Faske, Louise and Ralph Genz, Sharon Brudner and Howard Faske. Pastor Kevin Westergren is at the far right. He told the congregation about the purpose of our mission and then commissioned and prayed over us. We will be driving down to Houston Thursday April 29th, meeting the other groups at George Bush International Airport at 1pm and flying out around 5pm for London. Our total group will number about 60 people and we will be conducting eyeglass clinics in 8 different locations throughout Kenya. Our main concern at this point is that the travel all goes well, given the recent European air traffic disruptions due to the Icelandic volcano. Please keep us in your prayers! Ask the Lord for our safe travel during which we are strong witnesses to everyone we meet along the way and that our mission has a mighty impact on the Springs of Life Lutheran Church in Kibera and the surrounding community, with large numbers of people confessing Jesus as their Lord and Savior as a result of the evangelism efforts during the vision clinic from April 3-7, 2010.