On behalf of the St. Thomas Youth Group I would like to share our experiences in Kenya during the month of July, 2012. There were 11 in our team; nine from St. Thomas Chilliwack, our leader Daniel Kibarita from Abbotsford (Kenyan born) and his son. None of us from St. Thomas had ever taken a mission trip before or travelled to Kenya.
During the three and one half weeks, we travelled from Nairobi to the Kinangop region where we stayed in Mukeu (8,500 ft above sea level), down to Nakuru, east to Suswa and back to Nairobi. Even though the entire country of Kenya would fit into half of the province of BC, because of very poor roads, a 60 km journey could take you upwards of 3 hours, barring any flat tires. Our group experienced 13 flat tires; Kenyans don’t believe in buying new, just perpetual patching.
In Mukeu we had the great pleasure of staying in the guest house of Tabitha Kibarita, a beautiful woman who cooked and cleaned for us without electricity, only solar power for lights and a hand pump drawing from a well to provide us with water for toilet and sink use. She has opened her home to family members who have no place else to go and employs women from the region to wash and clean for her. In this very simple, and (to our standards) poor community, her efforts help many families put food on the table and send children to school, which is necessary for Kenyans who desire a life off the farm, away from back-breaking work.
Mukeu is also home to a small medical and dental clinic established by a Canadian mission team around 2005. The clinic offers basic medical attention to those in need, a maternity ward and an HIV/AIDS education centre. This facility has made an amazing contribution to the reduction of AIDS in the region. From 2011 to 2012 the number of people testing positive dropped from 3% to 2%, and the clinic showed an increase in visitors during that time including young men and couples. Unfortunately the dental side of the clinic was not functioning and hasn’t been for several years because there has not been a dentist available on a regular basis, either from within Kenya or from missionaries.
After Mukeu, our team moved to Nakuru where we were introduced to Pastor Amos who operates the Spruceland orphanage. Spruceland houses 100 children, 50 boys and 50 girls. The principal sponsor of this orphanage is an individual donor in Edmonton but they also receive funding through a global organization. This is a beautiful facility with a garden that provides them with almost all their food needs. We had the opportunity to build some shoe racks and goal posts for a playing field as well as provide them with the funds to buy two televisions and DVD players.
The last location was the Victory Academy in Suswa which is run by a couple, Pastor Samuel and his wife, Joyce. They have dedicated their lives in the service of God and these children. The number of orphans situated at Victory Acadmey at the time of our visit numbered 167. Pastor Samuel sold land he inherited in order to fund the operations of the school/orphanage that currently sits on rented land. Their hope is to move to a location nearby on land that was donated. Our team had the pleasure of building 13 bunk beds. Before our visit one double bed held 10 children. This location was in the most need and it’s the hope of our small group that we will continue to support them through prayers and fundraising. If the opportunity arises, we would love to make a return visit.
Our trip to Kenya at times surprised us, and at other times touched us deeply. We often sensed God’s quiet presence with us, and saw faith in God visibly expressed: in acts of kindness and generosity, in the happiness we found in the midst of what we would call destitution, and in the friendliness of the Kenyans. We endured fatigue and disappointment, changes in plans, and moving moments of compassion as children (especially) touched our hearts. Worship in the churches was expressive, and sermons long. The average church service was 3 hours in duration! Kenyans love music, especially in church, and we were startled to hear a wonderful drummer who had nothing but a bucket. Some of the music was familiar, some of it new to us. We will never forget you, Kenya!
Images: Homepage, The St. Thomas Youth Group with a young man and his motorcycle. PHOTO: Deb Edwards. Top, Children in the Anglican Church in Nukuru. Middle, The Njabini Boy's School.
PHOTOS by Rob Reimer
Below, The St. Thomas contingent with hosts including Pastor John and his wife on right. The group is holding a poster of the Njabini AIC (African Inland Church)