Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Monday, April 28, 2014
There was a tent full of people ready to begin the process of going through the vision clinic, some had been there as early as 6am. The startup of the clinic was as smooth as any that I have been involved in. It really helps to have a team that has a good mix of veteran members and some who have only been one time or who are novices. The old hands can look for flaws in the process for about the first hour or so and correct things early in the game. By the afternoon, the clinic was running as well as most do on Wednesday, after much more practice and time to perfect the process. By noon, we had already seen about 200 people and the clinic finished with exactly 450 people having been served. To put this in perspective, this is my 10th vision clinic and to the best of my recollection, we have never had a bigger day. Everyone was dog tired as we drove back to Rosa Mystica and I’m positive everyone will sleep quite soundly tonight. We had a good dinner with a buffet that included pork, rice, chapatti bread, mixed vegetables and fruit. I was hungry, as I had only eaten a granola bar and a king size Payday candy bar along the way during the day.
Sunday, April 27, 2014
After church, we went to the Junction Mall, right by our lodgings, and had lunch with Catherine and Shara, one of our LCMS missionaries based in Nairobi. I bought some Kenyan coffee and had the beans ground for my drip coffee maker. I like the Kenya AA coffee, one of five varieties. I think it stacks up to pure Kona coffee in Hawaii. The Kona we get on the mainland is a blend made with Columbian coffee to hold the high price down. My pure Kenyan will beat that any day of the week. It was 990 shiilings for half a kilogram, or about $12 for a little more than a pound. A little treat to myself! We got our water, snacks, hand sanitizer and paper goods for the clinic at Nakumatt in the mall, a store that is very similar to Wal-Mart. Business is very good there, since the recent attack on the nearby Westgate Mall has put the main competition in the area out of business. No one knows at this point if and when Westgate will reopen. We got back to our rooms around 4:30 and everyone got much needed naps and showers.
Saturday, April 26, 2014
It is 5am and soon the teams that have to leave for remote areas of Kenya will be stirring, getting their breakfast, checking out of Little Daughters of St. Joseph and will begin their journeys. I’ll join them and will help in any way I can and I’m sure the team leaders will be praying over each other, their teams and those they will serve and serve with during the coming week. One of the great blessings those of us that serve in Nairobi get to enjoy is worshipping with the congregation where we will be working. Most other teams will be driving for many hours today, which is the reason our whole project worships together on the first Saturday afternoon. I am looking forward to renewing old friendships after being absent from Kibera for 2 years and introducing our new team members to the amazing worship at Springs of Life Lutheran Church. If the past is any guide, we will be in for a wide variety of music, a message firmly rooted in the Word and the undeniable presence of the Triune God.
Catherine has arranged for our footlockers to be delivered to Kibera and our luggage to be transferred to Rosa Mystica, the convent where we will be spending the rest of our week. After church, I expect that we will have nice lunch and then will finish buying supplies for the upcoming work week. Once we’re settled in at Rosa Mystica, if we have good Internet access, I’ll do a post describing the events of the day. Until then, blessing on your Sunday, wherever that is and what time it may be!
Between a little after 1am and 6am I got probably 3 hours of pretty sound sleep. I was able to finally post to this blog by connecting my phone to my laptop and copying a Word file to the phone, after which I copied and pasted the necessary text into the blog. While my laptop has never been able to connect to the web here, my phone has had no problem. Go figure. I’m hoping the upgraded Internet service they were working on at Rosa Mystica the last time we were there is in place when we transfer to there tomorrow. If it is better there, I hope to be able to post a few pictures prior to our return. As usual, I expect to have about 300 of our best pictures out on the blog within a week or two of the trip for you and the team members to enjoy. I breakfasted at 6:30 with the group that was heading out to the local Nairobi National Game Park and then 6 of us from the Redeemer team joined 7 others in 2 vans and headed for Lake Naivasha at 8:30 or so. We stopped at the scenic overlook at the Great Rift Valley and the new members of the teams seemed to really like it. We had to stop once on the way to the lake when a herd of wild zebras decided to cross the road. I’m hoping a few of the snapshots of that mayhem are good enough to post here. The safari this time was heavy on lots of incredible birds in flight and in trees, nests, etc. pictures as well as some great encounters with hippos. During our 2 hour boat ride, we saw several sets of African Fish Eagles (which are very similar to our bald eagles) and were blessed when one came down from the tree tops to snatch a fish from the water that one of our guides had enticed him with. First the guide whistles to get the bird of prey’s attention and waves the fish in a large arcing motion to fix the eagle’s eyes on the prize. Then, with any luck, we get an opportunity to take some nice shots. Only one out of three succumbed to the temptation. They were either not hungry and/or other boats had gotten there before us. We were not able to get out and walk around on the island with the animals. Recent rains had drastically raised the lake levels and the lush green new vegetation hid the land animals from view pretty well. We only saw a few water bucks and gazelles. We had a nice lunch at the lodge on the lake under the trees on what was a gorgeous morning/early afternoon. Following lunch, we headed back to the city and saw many large herds of sheep, goats and cattle that were not in view earlier in the day. We were also rewarded by a pretty large colony of baboons gathered along side of the road and we stopped to take their portraits. We got back to our lodgings at round 3 and I went to get some rest while others went to the Nakumatt a block away to shop or did other things. Evening worship was to be at 5pm, but the children’s choir from the church in Kibera went to the wrong convent and then proceeded to get stuck in traffic. Worship didn’t start til well after 6pm with the singing of several hyms and a powerful sermon on the Great Commissionby John Maina, the head of the Lutheran Hour Missions in Kenya. He touched both first time mission trip members and old-timers alike as he explained why we do what we do and under what authority. The choir finally arrived and sang, dinner was very late and I was back to my room around 8:30pm.
If you see this Saturday afternoon in Texas, I have succeeded in transferring the text once again to the cell phone and invoking the process described above. Sometimes, blogging can be hard work, particularly at the end of a long day when you’re fighting jet lag. If you see it Sunday, you’ll know I had to wait until Sunday late in the afternoon here n Kenya to post it from Rosa Mystic after church, lunch and shopping for our supplies for the week. Blessings everybody!
Friday, April 25, 2014
We did depart London as planned right on schedule. I thought I was going to have a whole row to myself for the trip to Nairobi. God had a different plan. Just before the doors were scheduled to be closed, a woman arrived at my row, carrying a large bag that would barely fit under one of the seats. She was breathing hard and was obviously relieved to be on the plane. If she had missed our flight, she would have spent a day in London waiting for the next one. We made small talk and I learned her name is Evelyn and that she works for a large bank in Nairobi. More importantly, once she and I had discussed our vision clinic for a minute or two, she let me know that she was head of the women’s ministry at a large Baptist congregation that worships more than 10,000 on any given weekend near where we would be staying. Each ministry in her church is expected to do a mission of some sort and they are very strong on discipling their members. Does this remind anyone at Redeemer of our Vision 20/20 blueprint? Also, her sister lives a short distance from Kibera, the site of our clinic. By the time we were done with the first of a few wonderful and uplifting conversations about our respective walks of faith, I had given her my business card so she could follow this blog and she was planning to come to our clinic for some eye problems she is experiencing. She plans on bringing some of her family and friends to the clinic as well. She had begun her trek in California, we had started our travels in Texas and the Lord made sure we met in row 43 on this flight from London to Nairobi. It is so amazing when a God thing is happening right in front of your eyes and you actually know it at the time. Thank you, Jesus!
I passed blank Kenyan visa forms out to our team members and encouraged everyone to use mine as a template, so at least we are on the same page and ahead of the game when we get to the airport in Nairobi. It is always kind of a madhouse upon our arrival. First, we all need to get visas with the current price being $50. Once we clear that hurdle, there are footlockers and baggage to gather up and conversion of some our team petty cash and personal money to Kenyan shillings. For more than 30 people to make it through all these steps without some delays would be unusual. Then, we have to clear customs with all of our supplies and luggage, which can take a while as well. Next, is getting all of our stuff to the vehicles that will transport us to the Little Daughters of St. Joseph lodgings that will be our base of operations until Sunday morning. Finally, there will be unloading and claiming all of our belongings, getting a briefing on room assignments and timing of Saturday morning’s activities, grabbing a shower and going to bed, probably somewhere in the ballpark of 1am local time.
Stay tuned for more stories of anything unusual that happens during our arrival as well as a report on Saturday’s activities and the worship we share in with the other teams that is always late Saturday afternoon, since many of the teams won’t be able to worship with the congregations they will serve with because they will be traveling to outlying areas.