Thursday, March 14, 2013

Kenya peacefully elects a new President

The national elections in Kenya were relatively peaceful, even though it took from election day Monday until Saturday to get the votes counted.  This was due to the high tech electronic voting system experiencing problems, particularly in rural areas, meaning that paper ballots had to be transported to Nairobi and counted by hand.  We applaud the Kenyan people for being a beacon of hope throughout Africa.  They have shown that democracy can work, even though, as we know all too well in America, that it can be messy at times.  We are especially glad that there was a clear winner declared for President, since a runoff election would have occurred about a week before our arrival in Kenya and the uncertainty may have made our spring mission untenable from a security standpoint.  Our safety is always the number one concern of our Kenyan hosts, the LCMS and our Vision for Kenya leadership.  There is an advance team in Kenya this month determining where each team will serve in April and in May, so we will know shortly where the Redeemer team will be.  Our Vision for Kenya project has decided to stagger our trips, rather than having nearly 60 people on the ground twice a year in May and in November.  Instead, half of us will go in April and in October, with the rest of the teams sticking to the original schedule.  This will make it much better for our LCMS friends in Nairobi, particularly Catherine, as she arranges for transportation, lodging 

Pastor Kevin welcomes the team to training

Since we got the green light for the April trip, we held our orientation Sunday afternoon at Redeemer for our team members who will conduct a vision clinic.  Pastor Kevin and I will be the experienced leaders on this trip and we will have 6 new missionaries with us.  It is always good for us "old hands" to experience the enthusiasm and wide eyed wonderment of the newcomers, while we veterans bring everything that our previous experience should: leadership, concern for the group's safety and the ability to form these individuals into an effective team that will share the Gospel with hundreds of people.  If the past is any guide, the first half of Monday will appear to be mass chaos and then things will settle down to the point that by Tuesday, the clinic will be a well oiled machine.

Pastor Goodwill explains the triage station
Our training consisted of a quick overview of the flow of the clinic, followed by training in the more technical stations of the clinic by members of previous teams who were gracious enough to give up part of their Sunday afternoon to help us to prepare.  Risa Schroder joined Ralph Genz in instructing some of our team in the use, care and feeding of the autorefractors.  Martha Faske and Louise Genz explained the fine art of lens pulling and Howard Faske showed some of our team members the ins and outs of assembling distance glasses.  After dismissing our volunteer trainers, we did training for the whole team on the eye chart and reading glasses.  Pastor Goodwill and his wife Patricia discussed ways to be effective witnesses at the triage station, the area of the clinic where, as he put it "the rubber meets the road."  More people come to Christ or express an interest in the church at this point in the clinic than anywhere else, so it's important to be prepared to give an answer for our hope in Christ as well as be ready to pray over each and every person we encounter.
Pastor Kevin explains the eye chart exam
The detailed station training was followed by Pastor Kevin going over all of the travel arrangements such as when to meet, what to bring, what our experience would be like in terms of the spiritual aspects, the people we would meet, food and drink guidelines, etc.  Finally, I worked with the group on the cultural differences and similarities that we will encounter with an eye on being gracious guests, good listeners and on being powerful witnesses for Christ to all we meet.