Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday - The Final Day of the Clinic

We started out with our usual 6:30 breakfast and then our ride to the clinic at 7:15.  Before the ride, our driver Allan and I treated the team to a song and dance rendition of Jambo Bwana, to quite a bit of laughter.  This has been a great team, we have always kept it light and easy and it has made this mission a real joy.  Redeemer has always been known as the fun team and this one was no exception. 

We were missing Pastor Robert today due to illness, but he had to fly back to Texas tonight anyway, due to Confirmation at Immanuel being this coming Sunday. We geared up for what we thought would be a big day anyway.  Our volunteers came through with flying colors and we had seen 439 people by the end of the day.  I helped Pastor Kevin with triage most of the day and probably prayed over nearly 200 people one on one.  An outstanding experience that any serious Christian should experience.  What a blessing it was to both me and the people I met.  More stories on this after I've had time to digest it.  We packed up and had our final devotion, which consisted of Pastor Kevin thanking the volunteers for a good week, giving out the certificates to everyone and finally we formed a prayer circle zebra, alternating between us and the volunteers.  Pastor James led us in a doxology and Pastor Kevin prayed and then led us in the Lord's Prayer.  We said our tearful and smiling goodbyes, loaded up the truck with our footlockers and headed back to the Africa Heart lodge in time for Allan to pick up Pastor Robert for the run to the airport.  We got one last group picture on the lawn and then got cleaned up for dinner.  Africa Heart once again provided a very nice meal, with potatoes, chicken, spaghetti, meat sauce, broccoli and a vegetable combination followed by a tray of cookies.  We were very well taken care of during our entire stay here.

Our final group picture in paradise

Tomorrow, we need to be at breakfast at 5:30 and checked out by 6am so we can see the nocturnal animals returning from their hunt at the Nairobi National Game Park.  I'm hoping for a big day of lions, rhinos, giraffes, the list goes on and on.  We will lunch at a nice restaurant called the Veranda that has a great set of shops attached to it and then will go to Rosa Mystica, our first lodgings, for an afternoon pizza party before heading to the airport for a 10:35pm flight.  More to come as I have a chance, or there may be a gap in the reporting til after I get home.  I have several thousand pictures to sift through and will post them as soon as possible after our return with some more stories and reflections on this trip.  Please pray for our safe travels home.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday's clinic was very good

The dinner at Safari Park was quite a treat.  We arrived before sunset to see the beautiful grounds with every kind of plant and animal imaginable.  The hotel grounds is a huge complex, with may pathways, bridges, various buildings and theaters.  After along walk, you eventually arrive at the dining area that seats several hundred people.  There is a small combo that plays before the meal begins and Allan, our driver requested our theme song for me, Jambo Bwana, as their first song.  It's a catchy tune that welcomes people to Kenya.  Our meal began with a small salad and rolls, followed by some potatoes and other vegetables.  We were instructed as to which of the sauces went with which meats.  Then it was meat, meat and more meat until eventually we had all surrendered.  There was pork sausage, ostrich, chicken, camel, goat, lamb, pork ribs, crocodile and several other kinds of meats, all very good.  There was a fruit and dessert bar that followed.  We couldn't stay for the big Africa stage show, since it started at 9pm and we were all exhausted.  The band saw that we were getting up to leave and played Jambo Bwana for us, since almost nobody had been there in the dining hall before, but now it was packed.  I gave them a big appreciative wave. I slept well until about 2am and then was up for about an hour doing this blog.  I now know why they have the senior special at Luby's at 4pm.  I really can't eat big very late anymore.  Still, a great time was had by all.  We have done several things on this trip that Pastor Kevin had never done, and this was another one I know he really liked.  I've been very pleased to be able to share some of the different things with the team and him that Catherine and Allan have helped us to find.

Our Thursday was packed full of surprises that God had in store for us, just as every day so far had been.  We got off to a slow but steady start under overcast skies which quickly burned off.  We were spared any rain and it was a beautiful day.  Our bullhorn that we had desparately been wanting finally arrived from one of the other teams.  Our good friend and super volunteer,  Barrack, went out mid-morning with our wonderful driver Allan in the pop-up van and people started streaming in more quickly for the rest of the day.  By noon, we had already registered 150 patients and by the end of the day we had seen 340.  For the most part, the clinic flowed very smoothly, with occasional bottlenecks at the triage and reading glasses stations.  Pastor Kevin helped clear the backlog at reading glasses when it occurred and I jumped in with Pastor Robert and Kevin several times to help push more people through triage when it became overly crowded.  Praying over each and every patient individually is a powerful experience.  Of course, we always pray that our clinic will be a blessing to each person's needs, that our doctors and team have the skill, knowledge and wisdom to help in a cure for the problem at hand.  Many times, people will tell us stories of great personal struggles that they may not share with their friends in the community and we lift those up to the Lord as well.  And we witness to those who are not already believers.  It's a nice luxury to reach the point where we have a team with such easily interchangeable parts when a slowdown occurs anywhere.  If we can have the same success with the megaphone, as they call a bullhorn here, tomorrow, coupled with the normal last minute nature of the Kenyan people, we could be in for a very big day on Friday.  I would not be surprised if we saw 500 or more people before we need to shut down, pack everything up in preparation for our departure for home Saturday and our closing devotion and goodbyes.

Francis removes a foreign object

We were again able to refer several people for sight giving cataract surgeries and a foreign object was even removed from a patient's eye by Francis, one of our doctors.  He put on one of the headlamps that we use when assembling glasses, sanitized his hands and then did what he had to do.  Pretty awesome. 

After dinner tonight, I spent some time with Debra getting the certificates of appreciate ready for our closing ceremonies tomorrow.  The volunteers really get a big kick out of being recognized for their efforts and we make sure their full name, properly spelled, is on their award.  We usually have the pastor and team leader call each person up individually to be recognized and to have their picture taken.  It's very special.  It's bittersweet to realize this mission is almost over.  Each of us has been very excited about the human care ministry we've been performing here and the way the Gospel has been spread.  That's about it for now, I've got to get some rest before the big finale tomorrow.  More pictures and stories will continue to be added to the blog over the next several weeks, so please keep coming back to see that take shape. Click on the link below to see what's out there so far. To God be the Glory!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday's clinic came with many surprises

I'm writing this as we are getting ready to leave in about 15 minutes for our big nice dinner for the week.  We will be going to Safari Park, an all you can eat steakhouse with many exotic meats and a live stage show of all the tribal cultures.  More on that tomorrow...

Our day at the clinic saw 184 people come through the gate for treatment.  But the numbers don't begin to tell the story.  We had an elderly man get our strongest prescription and he could then read the eyechart very well.  We were also blessed by a visit from our friend Sylvester, the Project Coordinator with the Central Diocese.  Pastor Kevin and I had a long talk with him about the future of our work in and around Nairobi.  Gloria, our friend the nurse, came along with him and did an outstanding job, assisting us in the triage area.

The boy with keratoconus and his concerned father

A high point for me was when one boy came to the clinic and was diagnosed with keratoconus, a disease that would lead to blindness without treatment.  His father had brought him and was looking for help for an operation that could cost as must as 250,000 Kenyan Shillings (about $3000).  Our doctors knew of a hospital that could do the procedure for about a tenth of that, which is still out of the reach of the family.  We decided to pay for half of the cost and let the community, his family and other sources supply the rest.  These are the kind of decisions we have to make sometimes.  Do we spend the money on about 3 cataract surgeries for older people or do we give a young boy a chance at seeing and being able to lead a productive life?  This one was not that hard, Pastor Kevin and I agreed that the boy needed our help.  No sooner had we taken care of this, than another young boy came in with the same condition, only his eyes were also in a bad way from allergies, possibly infected or worse.  We also are going to give him the help he needs, but his eyes need to clear up before anything more can be done.  Our doctors gave him some eye drops, and if they work, then he also has the possibility of getting the procedure.  We won't know if either boy will get treated, it is up to the hospital to do more screening and then their doctor's decisions will determine the outcome.  Please keep these young men in your prayers.

All in all, a good day, with many blessings around every corner.  More to come tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday was more of the same

To a person, we all had a GREAT night’s sleep after the first day of the clinic on Monday.  We all got to get comfortable in one or more stations of the clinic and started getting used to the wonderful ways of the Kenyan people that we served.  We also had surprise visitors on Monday, our LCMS missionary who oversees 5 east African countries, Pastor Shauen Trump and a husband and wife missionary team from Ghana who share our friendship with Woodie and Margie Arp.  It was a rather full day until we got driven out of the clinic by a torrential late afternoon rain and we had to close up shop around 4pm.
We arrived at the church, got setup in record time and then had a brief devotion led by Pastor Robert.  He read from the Genesis account of Adam and Eve having been formed from dust and then asked us how much we would pay for a handful of dust.  None of us would pay anything.  He then pointed out that God paid with His son on the cross for creatures made out of dust.  It was a very powerful, thought provoking couple of minutes. 
Our Tuesday very nearly mirrored our Monday, seeing a similar number of patients,  Since Tuesday is a market day, many of our patients spread the word about their experiences at the Monday clinic and were able to tell their friends about the care they received and that the clinic is indeed free.  A number of supposedly free clinics turn out to be ripoffs, so people are rightfully leery when they hear "free" and "clinic" in the same sentence. 
We have a new team of doctors with us this time.  Our friend Milliam is out in the country with the Trinity-Klein team.  We have our old friend Lillian with us and two other wonderful doctors, Francis and Patrick.  They have all been most attentive to every patient and every problem we have brought them.  Pastor Kevin and I got to bond with Patrick Monday afternoon when his car was stuck in the mud.  We pushed him out, and while backing up with his front wheel drive car, it suddenly gained traction and sprayed both of us with mud.  Our driver, Allan, accused me of looking like a warthog.  I'm sure he meant it in the kindest sense!  Patrick was very apologetic, but we told him "no worries", it was our welcome to Kenya.
We always have "God things" that happen to us during the day that we share over dinner.  Usually one of the team has some outstanding experience that could only have come from God.  We had 3 of them happen within the space of an hour that the whole team knew about as they occurred.  The first one involved a man named Joseph who came up to the registration tent and marched right for me.  He asked if I knew who he was and I recognized him as the gracious host who had served the group tea out on the tea plantation after our Saturday safari.  The first part of the God thing was that we had not even intended to stop on the way back to town because we were running late for worship services with heavier than expected traffic.  But our driver, Edwin, came into town through the tea and coffee plantation area anyway and turned into a narrow long drive that ended next to an old mansion with a beautiful lawn, flowers and tea fields.  We sat for a minute in front of the house and a maid came out, talked to the driver and before you knew it, Joseph came out and explained that they were closed but he would open up and make us tea and biscuits anyway, there just would be no time for the tour.  We told him about the clinic, and lo and behold, there he was today.  He had taken a matatu, a public transportation van, to Kiambu and then began asking people where the clinic was.  Eventually he found the needle in the haystack.  He brought us fresh home-made cookies and we were able to fit him with reading glasses.  What a blessing!
Joseph with the team
Our next two God things happened within minutes of Joseph's having said his goodbyes and blessings over us.  Alice, the woman pictured below, came to clinic and was overjoyed thanking everyone for her sight.  She had come to our clinic in Kiambu last November.  She had lost her husband when she had two small children several years ago and was really having a hard go of it.  We had provided her with a referral for cataract surgery for one of her eyes and now she could see very well out of it.  She was back to have the other eye done, for which we supplied her with the proper paperwork.  It was so nice to see the results of our efforts here bearing good fruit.  Another woman in her mid-70's, Salome, came into the clinic immediately after her, also thanking the Lord and us for restoring sight to one of her eyes through cataract surgery last fall and we also sent her to have her second eye done.  Thank you Jesus!

Well, that's about it for now.  We have several thousand pictures to sift through upon our return to Texas and I expect to have the best of the best available for viewing within a week or 10 days of our return, so keep coming back for more reports and images of what is starting out to be an outstanding clinic. To God be the Glory!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday, The First Day of the Clinic

A few pictures are on the web now.  Click the link below to see them.  Many more pictures and captions will be added during the trip and the week or so following our return.  Enjoy!

We all breakfasted at 6:30 and were on the road by 7am.  It’s a real blessing being less than 20 minutes from the church in Kiambu.  We can usually run the clinic a little longer each day if we need to and still be back at our lodgings by dark, an LCMS safety precaution that we fully agree with.  As with every first day I’ve ever been involved with, it was pretty amazing to see the church interior go from our equipment and supplies stored in footlockers to a fully laid out clinic in the space of about half an hour.  Our tents were already up having been erected sometime Sunday.  Pastor James led a brief devotion and we sang a song to kick off the day on a high note.  The vision clinic was ready to go before our target of 9am.
As the clinic actually began seeing our first patients, I went from station to station, refreshing each team member on the various aspects of their jobs, while Pastor Kevin helped smooth out the details of traffic flow through the clinic.  Even with the normal hiccups, fits and starts that accompany getting a new clinic up and running, it was relatively trouble free morning.  I was called over by Pastor James at one point and he was sitting with a man with an obvious growth on his left eye.  Our doctors had already examined him and said he needed a procedure for about 2500 Kenyan Shillings (approximately $30).  He had fallen away from the Catholic church and was going to join our Kiambu congregation.  Pastor Kevin agreed with me that we would pay for the referral to heal his eye out of the funds we brought for cataract surgery referrals.  That was special to me, that we could make such an enormous difference in this man's life for so little.  We saw around 70 patients by noon, about as expected.  We had heavy rains that started around 4pm, forcing an early close to the operation with a total of around 150 people being treated.
If this was my first clinic, I might be despairing right now.  If the weather permits, we will see an ever increasing number of people at the clinic as the week progresses.  In fact, at dinner I looked up what our week was like in November and we saw 147 people on the first day.  Our actual number today was 148 and I felt compelled to give credit to Pastor Kevin in front of the team for defeating my record! We do have a team that laughs a lot, working for the Lord is good for your disposition. 
More to follow as our adventure continues.  Thanks be to God for a wonderful day. 


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Worship and Beyond

We had breakfast at 6:30 with the other teams and joined in a group prayer before many of them left for their various destinations.  We loaded a truck with our footlockers and other luggage and then I got a very pleasant surprise.  Allan, our driver from our trip last November, was there to pick us up.  He will be our driver all week.  What a blessing.  I had asked for him and Catherine pulled a few strings so that he could switch with another driver.  He had been slated to go with the team serving in Namonga.  When I spotted him, I literally let out a yell and ran to hug him.  We left for the church in Kiambu around 9:30am and were greeted upon our arrival by Pastor James, who is responsible for the parish comprised of the churches in Kawangware, Kibera and Kiambu.  I am looking forward to working with him.  He has been involved with many of the Vision Kenya clinics in other parts of Kenya with many other teams and he is very dynamic.  We have an experienced group of Nuru (Lutheran Hour) workers and evangelists from other ELCK churches coming to help us.  Also, school is out between terms right now, so I am expecting quite a few of the young people in the congregation will be able to help.  We may have a pretty incredible week ahead of us.  Michael, the lay pastor of the congregation was there early to greet us too.  He was grateful that I had kept my promise to return to Kiambu someday.  It will be a joy serving with him again.

We had a wonderful worship service, following the liturgy in Swahili, their choirs singing for us and we returning the favor.  Jane led us in singing a song for the congregation and we followed up with the Doxology in 4-part Lutheran harmony, always a favorite everywhere we have been in Kenya.  Pastor Kevin was asked to preach and he gave a sermon based on 2 Kings Chapters 6 and 7, using my travel Bible as a reference.  Although it was not the appointed reading from the church calendar, it was a very special message, the main theme of which was that it’s not right to keep a gift as precious as the Gospel to ourselves, but instead are called to share it.   I had the pleasure of introducing the team and said a few word to the congregation.  That wasn’t quite enough for Pastor James, so he had each team member say hello to the congregation.  It was fun.  After worship, we got the schedule down for the first day of the clinic with Pastor James and Michael.  We unloaded the footlockers and stowed them in the church, where local security will keep an eye on them until our return on Monday.

We went to Africa Heart, the lodge we will stay in all week, and checked in before finishing our day by going to the Java House Café, a really nice restaurant that you can think of as half Starbucks and half restaurant.  Regular Java House coffee shops are as prevalent in Kenya as Starbucks, but this is the nicest of them in all of Nairobi.  Everyone loved the food, we ate in an open air section of the café and the weather was perfect.  I bought 500 kilograms (about a pound) of Nairobi coffee beans for approximately $12 and had them ground and bagged.  My mornings will be getting off to a better start for a while!

We returned to the lodge, everyone checked out their new rooms, some showered, others took a little nap.  While waiting for dinner, I met two very interesting guys from a church in California.  One was their Music Director Reggie (are you listening, Rob?) and the other was a dentist.  The dentist had been doing dental missions to Kenya since 1990, and in that time had been put in the position of having to assist in several births, perform operations and do all kinds of things that only God could enable someone to do.  Reggie confessed that he was roped into injecting novacaine and on occasion, doing an extraction or two himself.  We laughed about what most people would call a comfort zone and admitted it's much more fun to live life without one.  They encouraged me greatly, seeing such strong, joyful men of faith pressing ahead in the race.  We met for dinner at 6:30pm and had a very good buffet with lots of veggies, chicken and potatoes.  I led one of my favorite devotions based on the writings of Oswald Chambers, we had a brief discussion of it and then Pastor Kevin laid out the plan for opening the clinic on Monday.  We all called it an early evening, knowing we would need our strength for tomorrow.  Another very full day had come to an end.  Thank you, Jesus!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Saturday - A Very Full Day!

We began our day with breakfast at 6:30 and by 7:30 were on the road to Lake Naivasha for a safari.  This is a unique experience, since we got to ride in boats out to the main lake, passing a few hippos and many types of birds in the process.  The word Naivasha means “cold water” since the lake is spring fed.  The animals were all brought to an island in the middle of the lake for the filming of Out of Africa about 30 years ago.  The “Big Five” predators were also there for the movie, but then were rounded up and relocated to other game parks.  Since there are no dangerous animals, other than the hippos which are the most deadly of all, we were able to get out on the island and walk among the giraffes, water bucks, gazelles and zebras, with no fences separating us.  I’ve done this several times before, but it’s so amazing that I love coming back for more.  One highlight of this trip was that we saw several eagles during the day.  Our guides for our 2 boats would whistle and then throw a fish in the water.  About half the time, an eagle would swoop down from a nearby tree and snag the fish.  We were fortunate to get some outstanding pictures of this that I will post when I can.  After the safari, we had a great lunch outdoors, supplied from the kitchen of the lodge at the park headquarters.  On our ride home, our driver took us to the oldest tea plantation, dating back to 1910, for late afternoon tea and biscuits, which is what the British call cookies.  It was excellent and most of us bought some loose leaf tea to bring home.  The planation was gorgeous; the original home has every flower and plant known to man and a lawn that was so lush it felt like walking on a soft carpet.

We worshipped with the other teams when we got back to Rosa Mystica, since most of them would be traveling on Sunday to outlying areas and wouldn’t get a chance to go to church.  It’s always a very powerful service, with every person in the room being a committed Christian that has answered Christ’s call to spread the Gospel to all nations.  After services, the team had dinner and went to the Nakumatt across the street for supplies.  I was blessed to finally be able to take Catherine’s mother up on her invitation to come to dinner.  Last year, as told on the blog in other postings, I had taken Catherine and her family from her son’s high school graduation from St. Paul Lutheran in Concordia, Missouri back to Austin to show them our city.  Last November, I was the only team leader on the trip and couldn’t break away for dinner.  It was a wonderful experience, with incredible food.  Mama (a term of respect for all older women in Kenya), told me through Catherine that I am her son, after she had nearly hugged me to death.  She has Catherine and her sisters, and I am now Catherine’s brother, I guess.  I told Mama that I didn’t see a picture of her new son on her wall, so we took several pictures together and I will make sure one of them is hanging on her wall on my next visit.  What a wonderful evening we had, sharing lots of laughs and hugs.  Mama has been telling all of her Bible study friends about her driver for the last year, and it is really neat to know that they have all been praying for me all this time.  I slept very well.  Doing that on the first Saturday night is very unusual, my first few trips it was Monday or Tuesday night before I had a really good sleep.  I think the fact that we packed every minute of Saturday with activities was the reason.  I talked to the rest of the team this morning and they all slept the good sleep of someone that is thoroughly exhausted as well.  What a blessing!
We are getting ready to pack up for church now and we need to check out of Rosa Mystica, since this will be our last night here.  We breakfasted this morning with the other teams and then had a group sending prayer that was very powerful. Lots to do right now.  More to come!

Travel Thursday April 18th and 19th, 2013

We all arrived on time at Redeemer and began loading up the footlockers and our luggage at 8:30am.  Pastor Dave was there and prayed a sending prayer over the team.  We left Redeemer in the rain at 9am and we got to Brenham around 10:45 and stretched,  had a bathroom break and our usual Blue Bell cones so as not to break tradition.

We arrived at Bush International Airport around 12:15pm, unloaded and then Merrillee and I went and parked our vehicles.  It took a little longer than usual to get checked in at KLM counter.  Then we spent over an hour in the security line.  The plane was already almost done boarding when we arrived at our gate.  I was the least one on from our group.  That didn’t really matter too much, because we had to wait 55 minutes to take off due to bad weather to the north and to the east of Houston.  Once we were airborne, the Fasten Seat Belts sign was on for over an hour before we cleared the turbulence.  The rest of the flight was uneventful.  This was our first trip as a team on KLM, we had always been booked on British Air before.    The staff was friendly and the food was good.  We had about a 3 hour layover at the airport in Amsterdam, it is very modern with lots of shops, restaurants and, of course, an overpriced Starbucks.  The team took the opportunity to fill out our Kenya visa applications in advance, which will hopefully save us time when we arrive in Nairobi. 

Both the flight from Houston to Amsterdam and the one from Amsterdam to Nairobi were on well-appointed 747-400’s.  We had a very full flight on our first leg of the trip, but were able to spread out and get a little more comfortable on the last flight, once we were airborne.  The flight crew took great care in making sure people were evenly distributed throughout the aircraft so as to balance out the load.

I got to know some of our team members a little better on each of the flights and during our layovers.  We are all excited about the mission, and Pastor Kevin and I fielded numerous questions about every detail of the trip and the vision clinic.  With a team made up of all first time members, there is a lot of enthusiasm and energy which I’m sure will translate into one of our best clinics yet.  As of this writing, we are scheduled to go on a safari to Lake Naivasha early tomorrow morning and then worship with the overall team in the evening before dinner at Rosa Mystica, the Catholic convent where we stayed the first two nights of our trip last November.  The teams made up of the other 5 churches that have joined us on this mission will use Sunday as a travel day to their respective sites.  We will worship with the congregation in Kiambu, where we will be serving, and will drop off our footlockers there on Sunday as well.  If we hold true to form, we will have lunch at a nice restaurant after church, followed by shopping for supplies for the week and then dinner, a devotion and an early night at Africa Heart, the lodge where we will be staying the rest of the week.

We landed around 8:15pm Nairobi time, got our visas in pretty short order, changed some of our money into Kenyan shillings and then waited for all of the footlockers from every team to arrive.  I got to talk for a while with our friend Rashid, the head of security while we gathered up the last of the footlockers.

Our ride to Rosa Mystica was uneventful, we were assigned rooms and we got to bed around 11pm.  I couldn’t sleep very well, so around 1am (about 5pm Austin time) I was able to phone home to let Adrienne know we had arrived and all was well.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Mission Team was Commissioned on Sunday

Members of our team of eight were commissioned on Sunday at both Redeemer and at Immanuel Lutheran in Giddings.  Pastor Kevin gave the congregation a good overview of what we were going to be doing in Kiambu on this trip.  I was very blessed when I was asked to pray over our team as we were being sent out into the mission field.  Here are a few pictures taken during the services at Redeemer.  I always love this beginning to each trip, since it reminds us that we are being sent into the mission field, just as Jesus instructed his disciples after His resurrection in Matthew 28, which reads like this in the New International Version:

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Even though there are numerous blessings for everyone involved in these missions, both for our Kenyan friends we serve with and for ourselves, we must always remind ourselves that the most important reason we go into the mission field is to spread the Good News to a lost world.  All of the morning and evening devotions that we will do as a group over the ten days of the trip will revolve around  being sent and being effective at how we witness to everyone that the Lord places in our paths.

I will be including pictures from all members of the team, as usual, at the end of the trip.  We leave Thursday from Houston, fly to Amsterdam and then from there it's on to Nairobi, where will arrive late in the evening Friday.  I will be posting pictures and reports on our comings and goings as often as possible, so stay tuned!

Pastor Kevin describes the mission as Jane,
Merrillee and Dave look on

Dave prays over the team

Pastor Kevin introduces Corina to Redeemer

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Final preparations are being made for the April 18th mission

We learned on Easter Sunday that the Kenya Supreme Court had upheld the results of the March 4th presidential election.  This was especially good news for our mission team, since our LCMS team in Nairobi believes that this development means that things should remain calm during our stay there later this month.  We are very proud of the Kenyan people for the way they have shown the world that peaceful, strongly contested elections can be held there.  They are a great example for fledgling democracies.

We have also learned that our destination will be the Lutheran Church in Kiambu, the site of our last mission to Kenya in November.  It is in the coffee and tea plantation area just to the north of Nairobi. This will be a real blessing, as one of the primary tenets of our project is to do short term missions with long term commitments, meaning that we visit a number of the same locations on a regular basis, building relationships with the Pastor and his congregation at each place as we work together to spread the Gospel message.  It is our strong belief that the church, even Redeemer in Austin, is not the bricks, stained glass and other parts of the physical structure but instead is made up of the people of God.  Thus, our approach makes good sense because these missions bring many benefits to both the congregations and communities we serve as well as to the people who make up our mission teams and Redeemer.  The local churches get the opportunity to reach large numbers of people with the Good News while also partnering with us in meeting human needs such as vision or dental care.  We in turn are blessed by making Christian friends from another culture who have a very deep and unshakeable faith.  And, when we return to Austin and Redeemer, we are even more enthusiastic than before in our volunteering and witnessing, both at Redeemer and in the community at large.  This leads to even more people wanting to participate with us in the Vision for Kenya project and our team members always report that their faith has grown in leaps and bounds as a result of their service in the mission field.