Day 12

Today is the last day in Nairobi, Kenya. It was a hard day for us all. This morning we set out to St. Kizito’s to say goodbye to the children and teachers. We brought children’s socks and bought shoes here in Kenya and the teachers taught the bible story about Jesus washing the disciple’s feet before we got there this morning. When we arrived, we set up bowls with water and hydrogen peroxide in them. We had a long bench and class by class we brought the children out. We washed each child’s feet with water and paper towels, then dried them and put socks on. We were able to give each child a pair of new shoes. The simple action of washing children’s feet was so powerful and had a great impact, both on the children and the girls. All of the children were so excited and joyful to have a new pair of socks and shoes; they showed them off to everyone. They were proud and thanked us profusely. Their smiles were all the gratitude anyone could ever ask for. However, while we washed their cute little feet, we were overcome with all kinds of emotions. In the bible story, Jesus portrayed the importance of humbling yourself and serving others. While we washed those precious feet, we saw the joy you could receive after serving others. However, it was also heart breaking to see their joy from a simple pair of shiny black shoes, especially when getting new shoes is a routine thing for us back home. Seeing their feet was also extremely hard. The dirt caked on their heels and the broken and torn nails gave evidence to the extreme poverty they were living in. At times, we couldn’t help but shed a tear for each beautiful child. However, we have to trust that God will keep providing for the kids and for the school. He will continue to bless them and keep them safe. After we played with them for a little while, it was time to say the hard goodbye. We all held hands and sang Amazing Grace and prayed over the school. Many of the children were crying and it broke our hearts. All we could do was tell them we loved them and would never forget them and always pray for them. We waved goodbye and were silent on the way home. Those children will remain in our hearts always, even for those of us who never return. 

We are getting ready to leave for the airport for our flight at eleven thirty tonight. We all have mixed emotions about going home; we are excited to see our families and sleep in our own beds, but we are so sad to leave all our new friends here and the place we have grown to love. Most of us know we will return though, so that is making it okay to leave. We have a long trip home of two nine hour flights until we land tomorrow afternoon around four. We are ready to sleep and relax on the flight and can’t wait to see our family and friends! Asante sana Kenya, thank you for all the kindness and hospitality you have shown us, you will always be in our prayers!Image

Day 11

Tonight is our last night here in Kenya. We are all sad and don’t want to say goodbye. This morning we had our last safari and saw the cats. We saw two leopards, but the most exciting part was seeing a cheetah running after gazelles. It didn’t catch them, but we saw the hunt. Afterwards, we came back to Grace House and had a relaxing afternoon and got dressed up for Carnivore tonight. It is a restaurant that serves all kinds of meat. We tried ostrich, crocodile, lamb, and all kinds of delicious food. We are all exhausted after a long two weeks and are in need of some good rest tonight before we begin our last day tomorrow. We will be going to St. Kizito’s and saying goodbye to the children. It will be a hard day, but we are all so blessed and thankful for this wonderful journey we experienced together. Image

Day 10

It’s been another wonderful day on safari! After a good night’s sleep in our resort cabins we left at six thirty this morning for a sunrise viewing of safari. We got out and saw hippos in the water hole. We also saw four male lions laying in the grass being lazy. The best part of the day though was seeing the sunrise over the African landscape and hills. It was beyond beautiful and we all watched it in silence as we observed God’s handiwork. We will go out again tonight and tomorrow morning, but besides that we are just having a relaxing day at the resort. We have napped, journaled, shopped, and laid by the pool. While it has been great here and we are all excited for the safari, we are also excited to get back to Nairobi and see the children one last time at St. Kizito’s. 

We are all praying for St. Kizito’s future. We had a board meeting last week and talked about the needs of the little school. Last year Melanie met with Buckner International, a ministry that helps orphans and children in need, from adoptions to starting schools world wide. Melanie met with them to see if they would partner with St. Kizito’s to help it take off, but they said the school needs to be more self-sufficient before they could do anything. This is why we did the cement project because they had to have a playground area for the children. For the future, another goal is buying the land beside the orphanage. There is a big plot that is overrun with bushes that no one uses; it would be perfect for a stable with a cow and more area for the children to play on. The cow would provide money to help support the school by itself. Also, the school is in need of electricity. All of the small classrooms are so dark because they just have one window to let the light in. The children work and write and have to see the chalkboard in this dim lighting. The director has a plan for the cheapest electricity, we just need the money to help get it started. Also, we have talked about a trip in December if possible to have a medical clinic for the kids. Most of them are in need of their shots, and need them for higher education. While it is free in Kenya for children under five, many of their parents have neglected it and have not brought their children in. We are thinking about December because some of the shots require multiple rounds. For this to happen, we will need doctors to come administer the shots and also donate the medication. We are hoping to partner with Baylor alumni to see if anyone is willing, and we also have a contact here in Nairobi. As a team, we are hoping to accomplish all of these goals in the next year because it is what the school needs to become self-sufficient. When it does, the children can become part of Compassion International, a Christian program where people can sponsor children for third world countries and send them through school. This would be a huge step for the children of St. Kizito’s. These goals are going to take a lot of fundraising and donations, but we know God will provide. We wanted to let you all know our long-term plans and reasons for continuing our partnership with St. Kizito’s because we need prayers. Pray for us and our journey of finding the funds to help this little school that has a big goal and future. Also, if anyone has connections to someone that could help us, we will take all the help we can get. Thank you for your support and prayers for us during our trip these past two weeks. We can’t believe we only have two more days here in Kenya, but we are going to make the best of them. We are going to enjoy our last two safari outings and when we get back we will love on the St. Kizito’s children one last time. It is a bitter-sweet feeling as I sit here outside my cabin looking into the forest filled with animal sounds and birds. It is still too amazing to think that we are here in Africa on an actual safari. But also, it seems so natural to be in Nairobi loving on and ministering to all the people we have met. It will all be very hard to say goodbye to. So for now, we are going to focus on where we are and take more pictures of the beautiful African sunset!

Day 9

What an incredible day on safari! We started out early this morning for a six hour trip to Maasai Mara for our stay at Sarova Mara Game Camp. We stopped to do some last minute shopping before ending up one hour away enjoying an African massage, which means unpaved roads and bouncing up and down uncontrollably. However, we all had fun and laughed the entire way. When we reached the hotel, we were all amazed. We knew it was going to be nice, but had no idea we were to enjoy a few days of luxury after a week of hard work. We are staying in tents, but they are much less camping tents and much more five star hotel rooms. We call in glamping, glamorous camping. After enjoying a delicious meal of all kinds of foods, we set out on our first safari. We opened up the roofs of the vans and drove all around the Mara looking for the “big five” of safaris, elephants, lions, rhinos, wildebeests, and cheetahs. We saw a family of elephants, three female lions, herds of wildebeests, zebras, and three giraffes that came incredibly close to the vans. Two of the female lions were on the hunt and stalking their prey which was on the opposite side of our van, but we couldn’t wait to see the kill. We will be going back early tomorrow morning, tomorrow night, and Friday morning so hopefully we will get to see the big five on the list. We are beyond blessed to have this incredible experience. We came to Africa to serve and that was in the hearts of every girl on this trip, but Melanie also added in the opportunity of a life time and let us enjoy the beauty and majesty of the African plains. A sunset here can not be compared to the pictures we see, it is indescribable. The safari is something that everyone should try to experience in their lifetime and we are so fortunate to see it so early. The wifi here is not very strong so the pictures will not load on the blog, but hopefully we will have them up on Facebook soon! We are going to bed happy and relaxed, ready to enjoy another day in the wild!

Day 8

It’s the last day before safari! We had an interesting and relaxing day today. This morning we went to the U.S. Embassy and learned a lot about Kenya and our relations with them. We met with two men, one who worked in public relations and one in political affairs. They told us about Kenya’s history and how the different tribes fight for political power. We learned a lot that explained things we have seen over our time here in Kenya. It was a great way to learn about Foreign Service and the process people go through to serve in other countries. Last year, one of the girls on the team who met with the Embassy decided to serve as an intern for a different Embassy in another country, and many of the girls on this trip were interested as well. We got to tour the Embassy and see the inside process of how our government works here in Kenya.

Afterwards, we had pizza and ice cream in a local shopping center then came back to Grace House for a relaxing, calm afternoon. We spent it napping and packing for safari. Tomorrow we will be leaving early for a six-hour drive to Maasai Mara. Tonight, Grace House threw us a party. The athlete mission trip team arrived yesterday so they joined us in a grand African celebration. We danced the night away with African tribal men and the staff here at Grace House, it was the most fun night we have had.

 

We will spend tomorrow night and Thursday there and come back on Friday. We all feel that we have been going and working non-stop, and while we wouldn’t trade the experiences we have had for the world, we are looking forward to a few days of sight seeing and quiet time. Our trip has been so rewarding and over-all life changing, we can’t believe it’s almost over. The only work we have left is at St. Kizito’s on Saturday right before we leave. God has truly revealed himself through our experiences and through the people we have met. It has been a blessing being able to be a part of this team and we are all praying for our last few days here in Kenya.Image

Day 7- Hope

Today was another amazing day in Nairobi. Early this morning our group went back to Kazuri Bead Company and we all got to pick out the beads for a bracelet and watch the women work. They sang us a song thanking God for letting them have guests and blessing us. It was a beautiful sight to see and just reminded us all of the hospitality of the people here in Kenya and how thankful they are for everything. Afterwards, we went to the Green Belt Movement house and met some of the people leading it. We watched a documentary on Wangari Maathai. She was an incredible woman that fought for the environment, human civil rights, and democracy in Kenya. Hearing her story and her message was inspiring and allowed us all the chance to understand Kenya’s history and how they got to where they are today. She spoke of how women were not taken seriously, but had the courage to plant trees all over Kenya to preserve the environment which provided the food and necessities for life. She told of the government of Kenya during the late 1900′s and early 2000′s and how suppressing and violent it was. There was video of the different strikes and confrontations people went through here. Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize, was the first women in Kenya to get a PhD, and also was the first women to serve in the Kenya parliament. Her courage and drive shaped this country and brought the women to where they are today. She is an encouragement to not only women and people in Kenya, but any place that women are suppressed or where there is a government that abuses its power. Wangari Maathai proves that one person can make a difference. 

After the Green Belt Movement our group split up, half going back to Amani Ya Juu to speak to the women and the other half going to Kariobangi Baptist Youth Centre. We began with hearing the women singing wonderful songs to us in the chapel. The team members were guided into the front of the room of the room clapping and listening to the women singing. As the singing ended, more women came trickling in. Everyone sat down and Melanie introduced the team with our translator, and the leadership topics began. Knowing that this was the last day of leadership topics, we took time to take in the moment at Amani, and explain our stories in depth to the women. After each member was done we had the opportunity to hand out Baylor t-shirts, and toiletry bags to all the Amani women. We had the chance to see so much appreciation and glory in one room with singing, hugging, and dancing. It was emotional and fun to see so much happiness on their faces before they had to leave work and walk such long distances home for the day. However, they stayed a few extra minutes to sing and dance with us a little longer before we left. It was unforgettable. 

The youth center and school is located in the Korohocho slum which has about three fourths of a million people living in it. As we drove through the slum to get there, more emotions were brought up. First off, it felt wrong driving into the slum in our big van because it was like we were parading into those people’s homes. Also, the desperation of the scene before us was the same as before. However, when we drove into the school yard, the mood went from desperation to hope. Over 300 children ages 3 to 16 were playing, running up and down stairs, reading in the library, or eating food. The director, Reverend Euticauls, had us into his office to tell his story. The building itself was remarkable for being in the middle of the slums; it was three stories and was made of brick. We played with all of the children and experienced the fun they had with only a few jump ropes and an old ball. I was reminded of the creativity and beauty a child has by the games they had come up with and the joy they found in them. We then got to serve them all a big lunch that one of the girls in our group, Sarah, and provided. It was overwhelming just seeing all 300 students, let alone think about cooking for them all. The women who did the cooking get to the school at 6 in the morning to start the preparation. But they had it down with incredible discipline. The most precious sight I think I have ever seen was all of the younger kids, about 100, sitting down, clasping their hands, and saying a prayer in unison. Many schools in Kenya make God a major priority, which is something I love. After we served them lunch and had lunch ourselves, we said our goodbye and all of the children sang to us. As I said, being at this school brought a feeling of hope. It was a hope that something could be done to improve the situation of the slums. A hope that the children today could have a fresh start and didn’t have to be stuck in the slum circle. It was a hope that the education system in Kenya could be improved and proved for more children. It was also a hope for St. Kizito’s. This school is more advanced and has more resources, but it shows the possibilites ahead for St. Kizito’s and the impact it could make on children and families in the surrounding areas. The spirit and leadership of the director and all of the teachers was so evident in their love for the children. It is this love and dedication that will change the slum trend and Kenya’s education. Image

Day 6

Today we went to the Ambassadors for Christ Fellowship Church and had an amazing time. When we arrived this morning we received a warm welcome and immediately felt a part of the people there. The church was nice and more advanced than many places in Nairobi. We went up and the children sang a song for us and laughed as we sang “Jesus Loves Me” for them. The people in the church were so hospitable, and it made me think of how I treat guests in my own church. The way these people made us feel is how each one of us should try and make visitors feel in our own churches: loved, appreciated, wanted, special, and a part of the group. We joined them in their second service which was a true African service. There were many announcements and them many different people sang. The choir did several songs, then two men sang as well. The songs were loud, full of joy, and combined with dancing for the Lord; it was an incredible way to worship. The pastor did a message on the importance of fellowship in the church and how that, along with faith, is necessary for Christians to have the impact the early disciples had. Everyone spoke with a translator, so it was very interesting to be a part of. One of the parts that struck me most was the offering. Every single person got up and gave today, even when it was obvious many didn’t have a lot to give. It was true sacrifice and tithing, giving what you don’t have. 

After the service, there was a lunch for the entire congregation and we were the guests of honor. It was true Kenyan food and the people were so kind and generous. We met so many interesting people with incredible stories to tell. The children just wanted to touch our hands, they were precious. After lunch it was time to do our teaching speeches. Everyone listen so intently and wanted to get as much as they could from all of our lessons, and we each wanted to deliver. Even though there were tons of people there, God provided for us all and gave us the courage to speak through him. All of the girls presented beautifully and it was obvious people’s hearts were being touched. We broke out into small groups afterwards with about eight women for each girl. The women in my group were so encouraged by my fruits of the spirit activity and by seeing what other women told them they were. They told me their stories of not knowing where their next meal will be coming from or how God will provide, but they just trusted him and knew he would provide. That’s one of the striking things about the people here in Kenya, they have a complete blind faith and trust in God even when things seem hopeless. That’s something that many people in America don’t have, but we should all strive to have more of it. While there are many things that distract us and make God seem lesser and ourselves seem more in control in America, the people here have to rely on him for day to day survival. After we were done with the small groups, everyone gathered around to pray for us and bless us. First, our amazing member Amy led us in “Amazing Grace” which was beautiful. However, it was their response that brought me to tears. After we sang to them in English, they sang the same song in their native language. The beauty of it and the intent to just bless us and thank us was so pure and full of God’s love. Finally, the pastor led us in a long prayer for our team, our travels, our safety, and our message of God. It was an incredible day to dive into a new and different culture and way of church. As much as we taught and served them, they did the same if not more for all of us. They taught us what it meant to be hospitable and welcome someone into your church. They showed us what it meant to rely on God during impossible situations. They portrayed the joy of Christ through their worship, dancing, and music. They blessed us with their prayers; it was a place we will not soon forget. Image

Day 5- Out of Africa

Today was a day of rest, rejuvenation, and fun. It was a needed day for our group. After a week of hard work laying cement and seeing things that shocked our system, we were blessed to go to beautiful places that treated us like princesses. We got to enjoy sleep and a relaxing breakfast, got all dressed up for the first time in weeks, then set out for Kazuri Bead Company. This is a fun place that hires single women to make jewelry and pottery. They gave us a tour and showed us the amazing process of gathering the clay, molding it, and painting it. Then we were unleashed for more “retail tithing.” From things for ourselves and gifts for others, we shopped till we dropped and enjoyed the beautiful craftsmanship of Kazuri. 

Afterwards, we had an incredible lunch at Tamambo Inn. We walked around the garden and all chipped in to get our leader, Melanie, a hand painted picture of the Karen Blixen house. To us, she is our very own Karen and deserved the beautiful painting. After we all felt stuffed with delicious food, we embarked for the best part of the day: the Karen Blixen Plantation. Karen Blixen was a brave woman who lived in Nairobi during the early 1990′s and did wonderful things for the people here. She also was a writer and wrote the famous book and movie “Out of Africa.” Her home is now a museum open to the public. When we arrived, we were all amazed at the beauty of the property. We went on a tour of the inside and saw the house. We saw the original rooms, mahogany walls, antique furniture, and the beautiful set up. We learned about Karen and how she ran her coffee plantation; then, we were set free. We all had so much fun running around, taking pictures, and being silly American tourists. We were all dressed up, so of course we had to take model pictures on her beautiful property.

After we were done playing, we all felt that we wanted to do some serving today so we went to one of our favorite places again, the New Life Home Trust. We played with babies, fed them, and helped the ladies who volunteer. It was a great way to end our relaxing day. Tomorrow we will be going to Ambassador of Christ Church Nhenudheru to be a part of their service and also to do our speeches and small groups again. There will be around three hundred people so pray for all of us girls preparing to speak in front of everyone. Image

Day 4

Today was an all around heart wrenching day. We began again at four thirty this morning and went downtown where our friend Boniface preaches. Boniface is an incredible servent of God who rescues boys from the street who sniff glue. If they give up their glue he brings them to his farm and teaches them the trade to bring a better life. He also goes around to the women and babies on the streets early in the morning and preaches to them and gives them bread and milk. We went with him this morning to minister to about ten women, most had a baby. We mostly just talked to them, asked their name and about their baby. We just wanted to let them know that they are important to someone. We prayed over each one, asking God to give them good health, peace about where they are, safety, and the assurance that God is with them always. Most of us took off our shoes and gave them to the women because they had none. The smile on their face was so bright and beautiful, and they wil always be in our hearts. When we got back in the vans, many of us couldn’t help but cry. Their situation seems so hopeless to us, but we have to remember that it is people like Boniface who have a calling and answer it that give people and women like them hope in this life.

Our day didn’t get any easier. After a little more sleep, we were off to Kibera, the second largest slum in the world. We met with the African Health and Community Program who was started by an incredible woman named Isabel. It is a building that promotes women empowerment, the health of the people living in the slums, a library for children, and most importantly the love of God. They greeted us in beautiful song and dance and then listened intently as we made our presentations. All of the group did perfect on their speech and we know it made a difference. This group of women makes jewelry and bags from paper beads, and everyone had fun shopping what we termed “retail tithing.” All of the procedes from the things we purchase this trip goes directly back to the women who made them. While this first part in Kibera was a pleasant, heart warming visit, we were in for a hard tour. We split into three groups and went into the slum for several home visits. We crossed over slum juice, mountains of trash, month old smoked fish, chickens, turkeys, sick dogs, bloody bags, mountains of trash, people is small wooden structures trying to support their family with business, and small children all saying “How are you?” The smells were overwhelming and the sight brought tears to eyes. We walked miles into the slum, but could see it go on so long. The homes were the size of a small bathroom or closet and very dark, but the women were so proud to bring us in their homes. We prayed over each home we were in, and the women cried and thanked us. They risked a lot letting us into their homes because the people that saw will think the white people blessed them with money and want some even though we didn’t, but they didn’t care. These women are so alive in God and have the biggest hearts for their families of over five and for us as strangers. When we left, we didn’t understand. This place is unfit for any human to live in and should be so wrong, but just because they were born here they struggle through this for generations. Just because we were born in the United States, we are blessed with so much. As we struggled through this seemingly random, unfair process of life, I thought about how these women were alive in Christ. They were singing, jumping, clapping, and dancing proudly before God and for us. Why do we not do this in America? Their passion for God is so evident in every part of their life, they give everything to him and fully believe he will take care of them. While these people have a horrifying life on this earth, they have a treasure waiting on them in heaven. This is the hope we have to see and find when we are confronted with the differences in our lives. We will not forget what we saw, but hopefully we will use the experience to find our own passion for Christ and do things for others to make a difference in this world.

We ended the day at New Life Home Trust, an orphanage that takes in abandoned or babies suffering from malnutrition. We found ourselves going from a place of suffering to a place of hope. We got to play and feed the babies and toddlers, I know most of us wanted to take one home with us. The orphanage does amazing things for the children in Nairobi and it was a blessing to be able to go right after Kibera. Tomorrow we will be having a more relaxing day, so pray for our rest tonight and peace about what we saw today.

ImagePicture taken at Amani Ya Juu

Day 3

Today was another day of flexibility. We have all learned that you can make as many plans as you want and prepare activities for every day, but when it comes down to it you’ve just got to go with the flow in Kenya. We all woke up at four thirty this morning ready to go to the street ministry, but right as we were leaving we found out there was a mix up in communication and he wasn’t preaching. So we all went right back to bed for a few hours of sound sleep. We will be going tomorrow morning though, so although we will be tired, we are all excited to be a part of Boniface’s powerful ministry.

After we all woke up for the second time, we went to the Elephant Sanctuary to see an amazing sight. It is a place that rescues orphaned elephant babies, nurses them back to health, and takes care of them until they reach the age where they can take care of themselves in the wild. We all rushed in to get a spot in line and right at 11a.m. a small herd of elephants came marching in from the jungle to be fed and played with. We saw them rolling in the mud, playing with balls, and being fed milk from bottles. The babies traveled around the line and we even got to pet them! Elephants are my favorite animals, so for me it was an incredible experience. The men there talked about why elephants are getting orphaned and by the end, a few of us gave money to support the elephants. 

While seeing the baby elephants was a great experience, the highlight of our day was going to Amani Ya Juu, even though our schedule there got mixed up as well. The women thought we were coming in the morning so we weren’t able to give our speeches and have small group with them; we are supposed to be going there on Monday though. Even so, it was a wonderful trip. Amani Ya Juu means peace from above. There are about 80 women working there, and they are all war refugees from different African countries. They come to Amani full of hatred and fear, but the goal of the place is to help heal these women and let them achieve forgiveness and peace. We had lunch in their peaceful little garden and then went on a tour of the place. We saw the workrooms where the women cut fabric, sew their products, and even hand die all the cloths. All of the women sang us a precious song as a greeting. Then, since we had time because we couldn’t talk, we all went on a mad shopping spree. This place has the most amazing hand-made cloth materials and all kinds of beautiful things. I would encourage everyone to go to their website and check out their amazing products because not only are they beautiful, but the money goes completely to the women working there. 

Right now we are all relaxing in the garden at Grace House and enjoying tea time. All the changes in our schedule and how it’s not following our plan is just reminding us how God is in control and how he has his own plan for our trip and mission. In the morning we are going to see Boniface preach to the street women, many who have babies on the street from rape or men that have left them. They go without shoes and sniff glue just to get through the day. We will be listening to him preach and then praying over the women and children. We are also going to Kibera slum and doing home visits. We have new videos of each day up on facebook that are so special and reflect the meaning of our trip. Tomorrow will be an early, long, hard day so pray for us to have plenty of rest tonight and that we have energy tomorrow! Image