Sunday, June 11, 2023

Reflections on our Sunday worship at Springs of Life Lutheran Church 5-28-2023

Now that we are back in the States and have a little more time, I'll be sharing a few more stories about the mission trip, the clinic, our safaris and our worship. During the trip, I often didn't have very good wifi and was forced to compose the blog on my phone right before bedtime. I was tired and didn't have access to many photos that would have enhanced the stories. There will be a full Google album of photos from every aspect of the trip within the next couple of week and I will link to it from my Facebook and from a post here on the blog. I still have approximately 2000 pictures to sort through and will need to edit the best ones. The subject of this post is the worship experience we had when Elizabeth and I returned from two days of safaris at Lake Naivasha and Lake Nakuru. We left Lake Nakuru by around 6:30 am after an early breakfast. We made good time and were able to freshen up for a few minutes at Little Daughters and check to see if our luggage had made it there yet. At that point, none of the luggage had arrived. We arrived at church around 10 am and found a seat on the right side of the congregation. There were women's, children's and adult choirs as well as an instrumental played by kids on brass instruments.
One of the highlights of the service for Elizabeth and myself was when Bishop Kea and Evangeslist Thomas Okello prayed over us to receive us as missionaries. Our friends in Kenya had seen on my Facebook that Redeemer prayed over us to commission and send us and, being excellent hosts, they came up with the idea of welcoming us with prayer. Thank you dear friends and thank you Jesus! The following picture is from that beautiful prayer.
More stories, pictures and snippets from the trip to come. Stay tuned! Blessings everybody...

Sunday, June 4, 2023

The last flight home

We boarded our Airbus 350 on time and pulled away from the gate on schedule. After about an hour in the air, it looks like we'll be about 20 minutes early. Perhaps the jetstream is not as strong today. My last couple of experiences going through Customs in Austin have been good, but claiming bags has not. I'm hopeful both processes will go well. I did receive word that my friend Rudy will be able to pick me up and drive me home. Another little thing to be thankful for!

Lunch is being served.  I have to say that the food on British Air has been pretty good. Our choices this meal were between cheesy pasta and chicken, rice and corn. I selected the latter since I had pasta last night on the trip to London.  It was pretty good. We ate well on the whole trip,  I'm curious to see what my scale will say tomorrow.  Maybe "Ouch!" 

After lunch, I  got a bit more sleep. I didn't want to overdo it though, I need to try to get back to my normal routine as soon as possible.  In the past, it took a few days to get it right and to feel rested.

I've had interesting seat mates on this plane. I'm on the aisle,  next me is a European named Peter who was raised Catholic but claims to be non-spiritual and a Hindu computer chip engineer named Raj. We've had plenty of time to joke around,  get to know about each other and discuss some of the deepest questions concerning the meaning of life. They respected my world view and I sought to understand theirs. I exchanged cards with Peter, he lives on Pflugerville,  and may continue the conversation over lunch soon. You never know where things may go when you strike up a conversation,  but I'm convinced the further along I get in my walk of faith that these encounters are not coincidental but part of His perfect plan.

About an hour until touchdown in Austin. Good flight, food and snacks were OK and I got some rest here and there.  

Landed early at 3:30 pm, waited for about 15 minutes for luggage and shot through security.  My friend Rudy picked me up and had me home at 5:10. Very thankful for how well travel went even with the late start in Kenya. 

Will post after the fact about how entering the country went. More small vignettes from the clinic and other of our activities are also in store. Until then, thanks for following along and praying for us. Blessings!

At Heathrow. Yay!

We arrived at Heathrow with a little over 2 hours to clear security and board British Air Flight 191. My artificial hip didn't set of the metal detector,  but I did remove my belt and shoes for the scan. Our gate is right by where we came out of security. We were due for some easy going. We had pastry and coffee at Starbucks.  Mine was about 7 pounds.  I'm afraid to convert that into dollars. Mastercard will gladly do that for me on my next statement. The flight to Austin will probably be close to ten hours since we will battling the jet stream. I can't wait to be in my own bed and use a shower that is hot with great pressure. My last hurdle will be getting home from the airport.  I have a friend who agreed to pick me up but haven't been able to make contact.  Uber is my Plan B.  I'll post after our return about the last leg of our journey.  As usual,  I'll feflect on our time in Kenya and edit a ton of photos, then I'll write a summary of our experiences. I hope to write on this flight and post while waiting for my bag. Blessings!

From Nairobi to London

Nairobi Game Park 

After having a chicken salad sandwich and soda that British Air provided, I made my way to a row of reclined chairs, set an alarm on my phone for 30 minutes,  donned my eyeshadow and got some rest from about 10:45 until 11.15 pm. I can't say I slept well since the constant sounds of a large airport and announcements prevented that, but I was somewhat refreshed. This resting section is part of the newer area of the departure terminal which had been destroyed by fire several years ago. It features nice shops, good restaurants and modern bathrooms. I found Elizabeth and some of our friends from Trinity-Klein Lutheran Church at a large table in a pub and spent time with them before going to our gate around midnight. There was a double security check to enter the gate area and it had to be 95 degrees F in there. No water, no restrooms but you could leave if you were willing to run the security gauntlet again. In the past, once you were at the gate, you were stuck. Ever since at least 911, security has been very tight at the Nairobi airport.  When Catherine's brother Paul drove us in, we had to get out of his van and go through a metal detector while the vehicle was also scanned. Once we were dropped off, another scan of us and our luggage was performed just to get in the door. After our boarding passes were issued, we went through another check to enter the terminal area. And finally, the double check to get to our gate. I didn't feel a lot more secure, I think the first scan to enter the building should have been sufficient.  Since I have an artificial hip,  I also got to be thrilled three times with a pat-down.  It was the most fun I've had in years! Five redundant security checks: I can only conclude that full employment is the goal.

It felt good to enter the gangway as we boarded the plane, since the outside temperature was 65 degrees F. Even the Kenyans,  who tend to be cold all the time, were remarking how good it felt after over an hour of stifling heat. I wonder if the Geneva Convention has anything to say about airport terminal torture!

I am writing this as we are about an hour and a half from London.  I got some pretty good sleep on this leg of the trip. The staff made sure all window shades were closed and my trusty eyeshade really helped. My next story will hopefully be of making it onto the direct flight to Austin. If my baggage doesn't make it, I really don't care at this point in this long running saga! More in the next installment.  Blessings!

Saturday, June 3, 2023

A good last day in Nairobi

That is, until we learned our flight to London was delayed from 10:45 pm to 1:38 am. We have been at the Nairobi airport since about 8 pm. It's too warm in most of the terminal areas. British Air has setup a free refreshment stand with drinks and sandwiches.  It was supposed to be ready at 10, but 10.30 was closer to the truth. The joys of international travel. 

At the Nairobi Game Park 

We had breakfast at 6 am at Little Daughters and were on the way to the safari by 6:45 with my friend Barrack tagging along as my guest. We saw just about every possible animal and a few cool birds, finishing around 1 pm. We had a close look at a lion feeding on a water Buffalo, got very near to several rhinos and took a hike with an armed Park ranger during which we saw a few quite large crocodiles.  
After the safari,  we ate at the Veranda, an outdoor restaurant set in paradise, with palm trees, flowers and birds singing as we ate good food.
After lunch, we went to the Giraffe Centre and my friend Daniel gave us a nice tour. Following that, it was back to Little Daughters for showers, team devotions and preparing to leave for the airport. This is when we learned via email about our delayed flight. Catherine ordered lots of pizza for everyone, the team leaders settled accounts with her and we visited with other teams until it was time to head to the airport.  More to follow,  hopefully from London as we await our flight to Austin. Blessings!

Friday, June 2, 2023

We finish with a bang!

The clinic was busy from start to finish today.  For the second day in a row we ran out of registration cards and had to make some from notebook paper again. We got a box of 600 cards sent to us via Uber before 8 am, but it wasn't enough as we ended our day having seen 634 patients. 
Ken with a precious little one.

There were many more good moments. A 75 year old woman had me pray for a miracle for her vision which was in decline.  I saw no sign of a cataract in either eye. Her daughter was with her a d they told me she would take her to visit shut-ins and others and encourage them with her faith. She rattled off whole sections of Scripture as we talked from memory.  I told her I thought I was a Christian until I met her. She saw our doctors and was told she had wet macula degeneration and there was no hope. I saw her outside the clinic and she told me to bring her a miracle next year. What joy she has! I prayed over her again before she left and she encouraged me to stay strong.  Wow, just wow. Thank you Jesus!
The last person to be served by the clinic was a Muslim man dressed in all white. We had already closed the registration,  but I personally shepherded him along. He was so thankful when we got done. He was happy with the care and respect he was accorded. I told him all patients from the first one Monday until him were treated the same, regardless of faith. I know our clinic has made the neighborhood aware of what a great church Springs of Life is and am proud our team was part of that.

Packing up now. We have an early morning safari, lunch and a tour of the Giraffe Centre tomorrow before returning to Little Daughters to freshen up before the long travel. We fly out around 11 p. Saturday local time and arrive back at Austin around 4 pm Sunday, gaining 8 hours in the process.  Keep us in your prayers because Heathrow may be on strike when we get there.  Stay tuned,  more stories as I am able! Blessings!

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Our biggest day yet in the vision clinic

I'm just back from our nice team dinner that we have on each trip. 
With Mama at dinner. Catherine's mother. We love each other very much though we can't understand a word either on of us says.

It was a nice capper to a very good day. We got started right on time this morning and it was a steady flow of patients all day. The national holiday meant some people slept in, but we never had a lack of people in the clinic.  By days end, we had seen 622 patients and 10 more will get cataract surgery this Saturday.  We have also gotten involved in exploring surgeries for several small children but didn't commit to more than paying for exams at this point.
Sandra and my friend Caroline discuss surgical options for this young one.

There were many powerful encounters today as I was able to pray with maybe 200 people over everything from desiring to give up alcohol to mothers with educated children who couldn't find jobs to health concerns. It runs the gamut. I always ask to pray with each of the patients I work with and have only politely been rejected a couple of times. I was respectful,  but prayed for them anyway, they just didn't know it!
Time for bed. Tomorrow,  Friday here, is the last day of the clinic and is always hectic. We will need our rest tonight. Thank you Jesus for an amazing, joy-filled day!