KENYA MISSION TRIP 2017
Stu and Linda Ross of The Outreach Foundation led mission teams from our church in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014. Our congregation has engaged directly with this mission, having sent 25 local church members to Kenya (read the 2014 Mission Report here). Gifts to the Outreach Foundation will be used to construct and furnish churches and schools.
FPC Mission trip to kenya | July 8 - 22, 2017
On Saturday, July 8, Allen & Diana Cone, Jamie Jones, Carol Hinson, Ann Brunsvolt, Katlyn Hamilton and Jake Hamilton, met at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, ready to begin the long flights to Nairobi. Allen, Diana, Jamie and Carol, FPC church members, along with Ann, Katlyn and Jake, from San Antonio, Texas, had been preparing for this trip for several months.
We were met at the airport by Stu Ross, who drove us to our housing for the two weeks that we were there. Our usual accommodations at the Orthopedic Hospital campus in Kikuyu were replaced with rooms at Ann’s Guest House, owned by Stu’s wife, Ann Wanjiru Gituku.
After a good night’s sleep, we loaded into the van for a trip into Karen (named for Karen von Blixen-Finecke, the author of “Out of Africa” written in her pen-name Isak Dinesen. We exchanged our US dollars into Kenya shillings, visited the Giraffe Center (face to face encounters with Maasai giraffes), the elephant orphanage where orphaned baby elephants are taken care of until mature enough to be released back into the wild and the very popular Kazuri Beads (a factory employing 300 women, most of them single) who make the popular beads and pottery items.
Tuesday morning our day began with breakfast, then into the van for our trip to our first worksite to the PCEA Kangai Primary School, in Guthunguri. We were to build two classrooms for the church. Meeting us at the worksite was a group of folks from the church who sincerely wanted to help. While the mabati was being attached to the frames of the building, we proceeded to show the ladies from the church how to paint the door and windows. This was very exciting for me, working alongside these gracious women. We were treated to a tea break in the late morning and lunch early afternoon. One lady invited us into her home which was across the road from the site. One day after lunch, we were treated to singing by the children at the primary school.
On Wednesday we completed the building and after lunch the building was dedicated, again with the children singing. These children will move into the classrooms for their next term.
Allen and Katlyn (a nursing major at the University of Arkansas) did not accompany us to this project. They were invited to observe surgeries at the Orthopedic Hospital in Kikuyu. Allen reported that, in this 3rd world country, they were not as equipped as in the United States, but made “things fit”. He was amazed that they accomplished a lot with very little.
On Thursday, we visited two projects: Kimuka Girls’ School and the Maasai Girl’s Rescue Center. Kimuka, a boarding school for girls, was started in 2008 and currently has 300+ high school aged girls. The first time I visited this school, it had only two or three buildings and about 30 girls. It has grown to many buildings, due to the help of The Outreach Foundation, including contributions from FPC at our annual World Mission Conferences.
Next stop was the Maasai Girl’s Rescue Center. This center houses girls who have been rescued from early marriages. This center is only about 3-4 four years old and began with one dormitory. Again, due to the work of TOF and this church, this location now has a dining hall (built by a team from Presbyterian College) and four dorms. The girls attend a nearby school.
On Thursday we began the 2 ½ drive to the location of the PCEA Nagum church (near Gilgil). The church site is located on the top of a hill with a lovely view of the Aberdare Mountains. We were welcomed exuberantly by some of the church members. After a prayer, we began our work, hanging mabati and painting the doors and windows. This work continued and was finishing on Saturday. Pastor Rachel was on the site each day. She is a remarkable woman and already has plans for another church in the area. We were provided with tea breaks and lunch both days, cooked by the ladies of the church.
Sunday was dedication day. We arose early as the church service was to begin at 10:00 am; so with a 2 ½ hour drive beginning in very dense fog, we arrived at 9:40. Again, we were greeted with great anticipation which was for us to be a joyful day. The service lasted about three hours, with sermon, lots of singing (including our team), presentations of the banners and the communion set which we brought with us. I was asked to have the Prayer for the Children and Diana was asked to read one of the two scriptures in the service. At the end of the service, we were presented with a shuka (traditional Maasai covering) for each of us. Following the minister and members of the Aberdare presbytery, the brass plaque was uncovered and we were treated to dinner on the grounds.
Monday and Tuesday we worked on a newly added second floor of the Comet House, a facility housing boys age 3 to 18. They have added a second floor and we worked on sheet rocking one room and painting all the doors. The house has a big beautiful garden, cows, chickens, and goats. The boys are housed in dorm style bunk beds and they attend school close by.
We visited Karai, a children’s’ boarding school and orphanage. This ministry provides a safe place for children and youths to learn and grow who would otherwise lack educational and vocational opportunities to prepare them for life in society. There is also a vocational school which prepares the children for the workforce by equipping them with competitive skills such as dressmaking, catering and carpentry.
We also visited The Church of the Torch in Kikuyu, built by Scottish missionaries. Beside the church is the Missionary Cemetery where a portion of Linda Ross’ ashes is interred. This was a very emotional sight for me as I have known and loved Linda since 2008.
Wednesday we visited a relatively new girls’ rescue center in another part of Maasai Land, named for the Maasai woman who donated the land for the center, “Mother Esther”. This center is for girls that need to be rescued from negative cultural practices (early marriages and FGM.) We were treated to a wonderful lunch. Then the girls sang and danced for us, always smiling. When I asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up, I got these answers: Medical doctor, pilot, pastor, and teacher, to mention a few. This center has many needs, one being a fence to keep out animals (4 legged and 2 legged). They also need a better water source. They have plans for expansion, more dorms and classrooms, and a building to be used as “home” during breaks, for the girls that cannot be reconciled to their families.
On Thursday, we boarded the small plane that would take us to the Maasai Mara. The safaris were an incredible experience: God’s creation in all its glory. We encountered elephants, zebras, giraffes, cheetahs, rhino, baboons, lions, hyenas, gazelles, water buffalo, beautiful birds, crocodiles, hippo and the wildebeests crossing the Mara River.
Saturday arrived, and it was time to return home. We boarded a 10:30 flight for Nairobi, and after 17 hours in the air plus wait time at the Frankfort, Germany airport, we arrived in Atlanta, tired but amazed at our experiences.
We would like to thank the members of this church for this incredible opportunity, for giving to the WMC funds to build in Kenya, for helping with the banners given to the Nagum Church, and especially to those of you who participated in the writing of the devotionals. We read each devotional every morning after breakfast. It brought us closer to you while we were so far away.
To God Be the Glory!
Carol Hinson, team leader