Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Preparations almost complete for November trip

Our three days of cross-cultural training in late September were most welcome and allowed all of the Vision Kenya Project partner churches to develop closer relationships with our LCMS International Missions leadership team and their staff.  It was a real blessing to be able to learn from each other to further our common goal of spreading the Gospel through human care ministry.  We really appreciate the commitment that the LCMS showed by putting together such a large volume of quality materials and traveling to Tomball for this time together.  We are also thankful that all of the PowerPoint presentations and other documents that were compiled by Dr. Mike Rodewald and his people were shared with us for future use in our cross-cultural training.  We have been given a lot of valuable materials that we can now build upon as we train future teams for these missions.

Since the late September training, we have been very busy at Redeemer.  For one thing, we completed the inventorying and restocking of our footlockers.  Our frames, lenses and reading glasses orders arrived and we were blessed to have Pastor Kevin's "twenty-something" Bible study class around to help Martha, Louise and myself in the packing and weighing of the footlockers one recent Tuesday evening.  The energy and enthusiasm of these young people was infectious and I hope to have some of them join us soon on upcoming trips.  All of this was done early so that Pastor Kevin can transport the kit of 9 footlockers for one of our teams to Tomball before our November 8th departure.  They already have a kit ready for our Kitengela team at Salem.

Paul Althoff and Kevin Pieper of Salem have recently been to Kenya on the advance trip for the overall mission, which will have 60 participants working in many locations.  As has been the case for the last several missions, the LCMS and their private intelligence service have some security concerns about the usual locations we serve in the slums of Nairobi.  Redeemer will be taking two teams to Kenya for the first time, and each will be serving on the outskirts of Nairobi.  It has been our great joy to see the Vision Kenya Project grow as it has to this point and we are happy to serve wherever God places us.  What a blessing! 

Our whole team of 60 people from various churches will be staying the first Friday and Saturday night at a lodge called Rosa Mystica.  You can see what it is like at www.rosamysticakenya.org.

Pastor Kevin will be leading our efforts, as previously planned, in Kitengela, a rapidly growing suburban church near the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.  It is about 10 miles south of Nairobi.  Other teams have been there on past trips to get things started.  Redeemer has committed to continue work at this site from now on, since our heart is to do urban ministry, while other groups are called to work in the rural areas of Kenya.  His team will be staying at a very nice lodge nearby called the Kaputiei Safariland Hotel.  Their website is www.kaputieisafarilandhotel.co.ke This place looks so nice that I want to sign up to lead the team to Kitengela next time!  All joking aside, we are usually so tired at the end of each day, after seeing from 500-1000 people, that it doesn't really matter where we stay, since most any place looks the same when you're fast asleep right after dinner and evening devotions.  It's a good kind of tired that you get when working for the Lord and the sleep is always refreshing indeed.

My team will be going to Kiambu, rather than to our original planned clinic in the slum of Kawangware.  Kawangware is where there is a wonderful church that we have strong ties to through multiple missions over the past 5 years, through our working on the water well project to strengthen their ministry to the neighborhood and through our support of their ministry to the street boys and girls.  Kiambu is a daughter church, that was planted by the church in Kawangware and the ELCK, so we hope that some of our experienced volunteers from Kawangware will be able to join us.  The ELCK is the national Lutheran church body that we work in partnership with, and they have wanted us to work in Kiambu for some time now, so I'm viewing these changes as a God thing.  It is just north of Nairobi, in an area that is at about 4,000 feet elevation, surrounded by tea and coffee plantations.  Many affluent people, including the President of Kenya, live in this area.  Our dear friend and liaison for the LCMS in Nairobi, Catherine, said she would arrange for me to have tea with the President.  I'm not sure if she was joking, if anybody has the connections to make this happen, she does!  Our patients may include some affluent people, those who work for the wealthy and also we expect that some of our patients will come from a nearby slum, so we should be witnessing to the most diverse set of people we have encountered to date.  People have asked me if I'm concerned about going to such a different location this time.  I tell them that I had my doubts about helping to open up a clinic for the first time in the slum of Kibera in the spring of 2010, knowing that we would be serving a community with about a 40% Muslim population.  That site has turned into such a blessing that it feels like home to me now in Kibera, after 3 missions there.  I really don't have much of a comfort zone anymore, it's gotten pretty huge by being stretched out more and more with each mission trip.  So no, I don't have the concerns that a "normal" person might have, and of course we always pay attention to every detail that will make for a safe and effective mission, but in place of worries the Lord has given each of us an incredible sense of peace, knowing we are smack dab in the middle of his plan for each of us.  What an adventure each trip is, I always feel like a kid on Christmas morning, wondering what the Lord has in store for us this time.  How will we be a blessing this time and how will we also be abundantly blessed, as we have been every time we have served?  I can't wait to find out.  Thank you, Jesus!

We will be staying in a compound run by Africa Heart, an American non-profit that works with AIDS orphans.  Their lodgings can handle up to 25 missionaries at a time and just by our staying there, we will be helping to support their ministry.   You can see a little more about them and pictures of our lodgings at www.africaheart.com.  Our lodge is in walking distance of a Nakumatt, a Walmart type of store where we can restock on essentials for the clinic as we need to.  There is a coffee shop with Internet access, so  I may be posting some of my stories from there, especially if our Internet at Africa Heart has any problems.

That's about it for now.  More to follow as we continue to handle the myriad of details that goes into putting on a successful clinic (times 2 now!).  Stay tuned to this blog and please remember to keep us in your prayers for safe travels and an effective mission from November 8-18, 2012.

To God be the Glory!