Friday, March 20, 2015

Week Two in Kenya

Already we find ourselves coming to the end of our second week here. This week seems to have gone much quicker than the first; maybe because we have more of a routine (most days), or maybe because we have quickly grown quite accustomed to the slightly slower pace of life here (for most people). It's not that we've not been busy, but there has certainly been plenty of time to rest and reflect, or ponder and pray over the next thing we are speaking at/leading. This is definitely a luxury we both feel blessed to enjoy!

We have continued to meet & pray each morning with Terry & Judy and this week Hilda & Ian have joined us too. H&I are T&J's co-missionaries here who arrived for another three month stint last Friday. We are also still meeting and praying with Dorine (the church pastor) each morning and believe we have been able to encourage her.

This week Paul has taught four 'life skills' lessons ~ essentially some biblical teaching on the book of Esther, followed by a Q&A session. Although some of the children's questions have been around the taught topic, they quickly move off-topic and fire at him from all angles with wild and wonderful questions. This however, is progress from last week where only one or two asked anything. Many of these children are from a 7th Day Adventist background (SDA is the predominant denomination in this area) and the questions are sometimes about teachings that differ from our own theology, but Paul simply answers faithfully out of our own understanding of Scripture and encourages them to keep questioning :D

In the afternoons I have been taking some of the littler children for art-class. This has been fun for me and them ~ and their teacher ;-)

On Thursday morning I shared some encouragement for the ladies at the young mother's group at the church. Two young mothers came who are not regulars (one of whom was very young). I had struggled in the week to know what message to bring them, but felt God kept pulling me back towards forgiveness, and specifically forgiving others. I had been struggling with this because I felt that these ladies lives are so tough and they are often so abused & neglected that I didn't feel I had a 'right' to bring this message ~ if that makes sense. However, when I spoke briefly to Paul about what I was thinking and the passage I was considering using (from Colossians 3: 12-15) God confirmed it to me ~ it was the exact same passage God had laid on Paul's heart to share with the men's group this week! So in obedience I took my message, and it was most certainly the right one to bring. It very much touched the heart of three of the ladies there, and one of the young girls in particular. And it was very humbling for me to pray for her.

So, tomorrow Paul is teaching again at the Men's group ~ who we are told were greatly encouraged by his message last week, and he is teaching from Colossians 3 too.

I have also continued to meet and teach the young teenage girls most evenings, encouraging them to grow in love of each other, themselves and of God; seeing themselves and others as God sees them. It's fun and they are lovely bunch of girls. I love teenagers!

In addition, Paul has been doing some 'Stomp' style worship in the evenings with the young boys - using water bottles as drums! I am so looking forward to hearing it, as everyone is saying how great they sound. They have been asked to 'perform' in assemble on Friday :D

Paul is preaching again on Sunday too ~ so they are keeping us both busy!!

I think that's about it this week ~ enjoy the pictures (more HERE) and on the all-new Hope and Kindness Facebook page Why not go and 'Like' H&K- better still think about supporting the work here: In the near future I hope to be setting up a gallery of the children that still need sponsorship, and a little bit of info' about each one ~ perhaps you might pray and consider sponsoring an individual child directly :D

Next week will be our last week at H&K ~ so don't forget to come back for the last installment!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

One Week in Kenya

I had fully intended to blog our trip to Hope and Kindness much more often, but the heat here is somewhat overwhelming, so at the times when it’s cool enough to think straight it’s also time to sleep!! Also internet is far cheaper at night, so I'm having work differently to my norm. If the layout of this looks odd, it’s because I’m writing it offline and then uploading it later, as it’s cheaper to use the internet at night.

For those who don’t know, we are out here in Kenya, primarily to pastorally visit to our friend Rachel (in the pink top below), who is working out here for 4 months and is almost half way through her time here now, also as part of our own personal journey of faith. 

As we have jumped into working here feet first, it has become quickly apparent that we are here to encourage and support more of the team than just Rachel, and it has been a real blessing to us already, to serve God in His work here; to pray with and encourage those who daily give so much to the work here at Hope & Kindness.

Hope and Kindness is a day and boarding school, come orphanage. The ‘children’ attending range from nursery age into their late teens, depending on the age they began their schooling. 

H&K also planted a church some years ago, and they farm enough land to feed the children in their care from their own produce for a large chunk of the year. All of this also provides much employment to the local community, in the form of teachers, farmers (managers and hands), dorm parents & baby-carers, carpenters, handymen, security guards, cooks, cleaners, washer-women, and more. Everyone is treated with the greatest respect and loved as part of the family. This is a fantastic place to be :D.

On our first night here, after a long journey, some of the children came over to meet us, and spend some time drawing with the little ones, then singing with the older ones. They quickly discovered that Paul plays keyboard, so one lad brought his guitar over and we all sang lots of worship songs, together with some Kenyan songs :D 

Day two, Sunday, I woke very early and took pictures of the dawn - and enjoyed the cool of the start of the day. 

We enjoyed the service very much. Different in some ways to home, yet very similar in others. People and God are the same the world over. The afternoon was spent with the children again, singing and worshiping. 

Monday morning, and in fact every morning since, we join T&J for a time of prayer, to start the day before God and then met with D, the church pastor, to pray with her and discuss how we could support her while we are here.

Later, in the afternoon we joined D at a house-group. This was somewhat different to home, and involved a 20 minute walk in the 2pm sun, through the brush to a mud hut. Here we met with 20 or so others to share together, discuss, chat, eat and pray. Much like any house-group at home in that way, but the environment was very different. To us it seemed incredible that people still live so very basically and yet, in the midst of such poverty S (the elderly lady whose home we were in) made us so welcome and fed everyone with plates full of Ugali (maize) & hot, sweet tea. I was able to share pictures of my family. H (another elderly lady) was particularly interested to hear about and see my Nan. As we shared together S’s chickens ran around outside, and in fact a chick paid us a visit, and her goat poked it’s nose through the window!

By the end of the week Paul, aside from spiritually encouraging the team here, Paul will have taught in some lessons, encouraged the church leaders, spoken in a men's group and on Sunday he is preaching in the church too!

I will have spent a chunk of time updating and ‘rescuing’ D’s laptop, which had basically ground to a halt, taken MANY pictures (which I hope to be able to bless H&K with some of for their website and FB page), and held a girls group almost every evening for the teenage girls where I am hoping to encourage them to seek, find and walk their own journey on the road of faith. The culture in Africa is very different to our own. Out here almost everyone believes in God in some way, but He is often mix-‘n’-matched with traditional beliefs, and can be sometimes seen as a kind of ‘insurance policy’ ~ saving them from Hell, rather than a loving Father who they can have a life-long relationship with. I have also been to a mother’s group and was able to encourage the ladies there too. I’ve enjoyed my week very much ~ apart from the intense heat in the middle of the day, which I am really struggling with.

There will be many more pictures, but most will have to wait to be seen until we get home and have a better (and cheaper) internet connection. I shall, however, try to post a few here in the blog, and some on FB, just to give you a taster of our days.