Kenya Day 3

Kenya Day 3

Day 3

Finally, a day we did not travel. It is Wednesday today and we were able to sleep in a little, enjoy a breakfast and visit and get to know some of the people here at the facility where we are staying.

This guest house is a part of the iWana Radio Broadcasting center which broadcasts Christian music, teaching and other entertainment 24 -7. A Guest house is actually an African version of a roadside motel. We passed several of them along the journey. Some are fairly nice and well established while others look to be very small and most likely just a mud room with a bed. However, the place where we are staying is a fairly impressive compound. There is an administration building, the radio station broadcast center, a large chapel and then a wing with sleeping quarters and a kitchen. Most rooms have multiple beds with a private shower and bathroom in each. The grounds are well kept and the shrubs are manicured. We even have a guard at the gate 24 hours a day. We are very fortunate to have a facility like this. Though it is a lot less than we might be used to it is still a palace compared to the living conditions of most of the people around us.

Our morning was leisurely and we enjoyed a meal that at least felt common to us; it was sausage, hard boiled eggs and toast. I tried chai which is African tea since they only had instant coffee. Some on our team enjoyed the tea but soon I was just reaching for the coffee. I figure that, now being a few days into this journey, I am at least 3 pots of coffee behind on my normal consumption. The girls are having dreams of Starbucks.

We relaxed some but there was a lot of activity at the iWana Radio Station compound. The family responsible for starting this ministry upmteen years ago was actually here this week. In fact, we found out that we arrived into Nairobi on the same flight from Dubai just a couple days ago. They are hosting a leadership conference here at the iWana center and so there has been a lot of activity today. Extra staff are here getting the grounds ready, volunteers are setting up tables and cooking meals, guests are arriving and the chapel has been pumping out African worship music all morning. So a day to relax and recoup from our trip was still rather full of meeting people and hearing and telling stories.

Just before lunch we met a young man that volunteers at the radio station and is trying to develop a ministry as a Christian comedian. He had the biggest smile. As a Kenyan, he had very dark skin, a shaved bald head and huge white teeth. And with his accent I wasn’t always sure what he was saying but when he smiled you could not help but laugh and smile with him.

It was amazing to hear about all that he does to share Jesus with people. He does comedy on the radio station a couple days a week, another tv program starting at 5am on Sunday morning before going to church himself, street comedy trying evangelize to teenagers, and even works with some homeless. Then he also has a video ministry on Youtube where he uploads interviews, testimonies, comedy and other recordings. His passion for sharing Jesus through comedy was infectious and we talked with him for a good while.

After that we ate some lunch, cleaned up, did some cleaning in our room and Michael showed up with a great surprise…he brought Pastor Barasa to visit us. It was a very joyous meeting that has been about 8 years in the making. I was actually a bit in shock and didn’t know how to respond. We embraced and cried and laughed and stood there for a few moments not sure what we were supposed to do. Still it was not awkward, we were just a little awe-struck.

We sat at a round plastic table under and an umbrella and got to know each other and hear about his vision for the church and the ministries of Shim

I learned this, SHIM is actually an acronym for

Pastor Rogers Barasa likes to make acronym names for his ministries. Another one is ACT which stands for All Churches Together. I like that one too. They have a great vision for churches working together from all over the county and beyond for prayer, education and community transformation.

It was fun to share with him that Pastor Mark Wheeler and I serve together on an action focused board in Spokane called the GSAE and we are working towards many of the same goals. We work to encourage churches to come together, fellowship, pray, learn and seek ways that we can partner for the purpose of world transformation.

This must be the goal of Christianity. We are working to build the Kingdom of God through Salvation and then working to bring the Kingdom of God to earth through the ministries that repair what Satan has stolen. We cannot be saved only for ourselves. We have to see that we are saved from sin and we are saved for mission. Our mission has to be to work to restore lives. Whether is it is hunger or broken relationships, or medical needs, or pain in our lives or anything else we carry the light into the darkness. We shine that light into the dark corners that we travel through. We can share joy, we can share hope, we can share peace, and we can do work that lifts away the suffering in people’s lives.

With far less resources than we have in America, these Kenyan Christians are accomplishing so much mission and have a great vision to do so much more. When their lives are already so difficult…maybe because their lives are so difficult…they are very committed to evangelism, church worship, helping each other in community, and working to alleviate suffering.

The church in America could learn so much from these men and women of God.

The Fellowship Church of Spokane can learn so much from the men and women of God.

Posted by Cary Peden in Kenya, 0 comments
Kenya Day 2

Kenya Day 2

Another exhausting day.

Our day started early at the Marble Arch Hotel which was somewhere in the middle of Nairobi. Our hotel was clean, safe and the staff was very nice but it did feel a like an older hotel. It was located down what seemed more like a back alley but actually turned out to be a major hub for bus traffic. At any given time, there seemed to be 30+ buses lined up and down a street which seemed to me to be big enough for about one lane of traffic. However, there was parking along one side, two directions of traffic, full size buses attempting u-turns in the middle of the street, motorcycles whizzing by every direction and hundreds of people running out everywhere. We stood out on our balcony for about 30 minutes totally amazed at the bee hive of activity.

After a delicious breakfast we took a short walk around the block and we are still discussing whether or not that was a bad idea or a great adventure. The traffic on the sidewalks was a constant flow of people going both directions with little sense of a left or ride side. Then add in those who were going in and out of the little shops and the pedestrians risking life and limb to dodge the street chaos while trying to get from one side to the other made for an interesting stew of people all trying to go different directions. The sidewalk was also really uneven which added to the excitement.

That trip around the block was also our first exposure to some severe poverty. There where several people with severe deformities or diseases sitting on the sidewalk hoping for donations. One lady sat there hitting a drum and singing. There was a guy not far from her that had his legs folded underneath himself and his ankles where very thin and twisted around. Next was a lady with some kind of skin disease on her left breast and she had it uncovered and hanging out probably for extra sympathy and then the next person as a lady with, what we are calling, “elephantized” feet; they were puffed up to about the size of bowling balls. It was the first time of many that day that I found myself choking back tears as I thought about this being their life, every day with no hope of anything different.

Our instructions where to be in the lobby ready to leave by 11am when the van would come to get us. He arrived at 12:30pm and we have been talking about “African Time” ever sense.

Thus began a 9 hour journey from Nairobi to Kitale. That was an experience to remember. Suddenly we are in the middle of that vehicular bedlam that we found so entertaining from the balcony. The view point above it was exciting and entertaining, now in the middle of the fray we were fearing for our lives. 2 lane roads had four lanes of traffic with motorcycles running in between us. The pedestrian traffic came from everywhere. In the middle of the intersections the people were walking right through the middle of the cars and then all along the street they would come out from every direction and just cross. Everyone was fighting for their spot and you had to be aggressive to get anywhere. No one seemed angry at other drivers or cart merchants or foot soldiers they all understood that it was the way things worked.

We finally got out of Nairobi and made our way along the highway that would get us to Kitale.

The countryside was beautiful to see. There were many farm animals at various houses tied up to a stick or even free ranging along the highway. Cows, chickens, turkeys and donkeys we very common. But we were surprised to also see a lot of zebras and gazelles outside our windows too. Maybe a couple hours outside of town we stopped at a view point overlooking the Ridge Valley. Unfortunately, it was a foggy day and we did not see very far but it still was beautiful.

Another surprise was at the viewpoint stop. There was a half dozen store owners there and they swarmed us when we exited the vans. Bonnie came up to me and introduced herself and then said she would show me a good spot to look out over the valley.  I didn’t ask for a guide but I had one just the same. Apparently I only needed to look at the valley for about 20 seconds and then she began to direct my attention to the souvenirs that she had for sale. A few moments after that I was being escorted into her shop and the negotiations began.

For me, I hate haggling for prices on anything. But this was particularly difficult as I was standing in the open air, mud floor shanty still fresh off the plane with money in my pocket and knowing that a sale for Bonnie today probably determined what she and her family would be eating this week. And it did not help my timidity that she and her partner where aggressive. A ‘no’ from me only meant ask again. And the answer to my assertion that “I don’t have that much money for shopping” was “check your pockets and see how much you have.”

A strange moment was when Bonnie asked me to buy from her because “this is how you promote me.” I wondered what she meant by that. At first I thought she wanted me to go back to our group and tell them about her shop so that they would buy from her. That is how I understand promoting in our culture; word of mouth advertising. But then I understood she meant something different. We were a small group outnumbered by the shop owners. They would not all be making sales and this was a serious competition for a few customers. If Bonnie got a sale, I would be promoting her by helping her survive.

We saw that phenomenon the rest of the trip. Dozens and dozens of road side vendors all selling the same products and fighting over limited resources. They work very hard for very little pay. Michael, our guide from Heart For the Land the host organization on our trip, said they will hand carry their goods out to the highway and back every day, standing there all day long just in the hopes for a sale. And not just them. There where taxies everywhere trying to pick up a few passengers. Probably 10 motorcycles for every 1 passenger. And I must have seen at least twenty car washes and only 1 car being washed. It was like a pond full of geese fighting for that single piece of bread thrown in the water.

It was 9:30 that night that we finally arrived at our Guest House in Kitale. My rear end was flat from sitting and my knees where locked up from the cramped seat rows. We were all tired even though we napped a little on van. We left the church parking lot at 4am Monday and here is was Wednesday night…late..and we finally arrived at our destination.

But we made it. God has been good and everything we need has been provided. To think that we are on the other side of the world just up the road a few miles from the church in Kiminini that we began this relationship with years before. Again I found I would be fighting back tears as I thought about it.

Michael turned to me at one point back our drive along the highway and asked if I ever thought when I first met him that one day I would be driving along the Ridge Valley highway here in Kenya. Of course I said no but then again I have found myself in similar situations and similar conversations many times before. This was certainly the most drastic adventure to be sure but God has led me into unexpected situations before.

My response to God is just to say “YES” and then prepared for Him to do amazing things. It is not always easy to follow the Lord but it is ALWAYS for good and I am always blessed. This trip has been tiring and it has been emotional. It is even physically taxing. But being here is a great privilege and now like never before I am reminded of the privileged life I have been given. How can I do anything less than give thanks to my God by giving Him my life.

Posted by Cary Peden in Kenya, 0 comments
Kenya Day 1

Kenya Day 1

Day 1

Well it was an early morning today meeting the team at 4am but that’s alright, I was awake anyways. We arrived, loaded the van, hugged and kissed goodbye as family stood by crying to see us go. This has been an emotional last few days to say the least. And not only the goodbyes, but also the frantic last minute details, worrying if we have it all, coordinating with each other, multiple prayer opportunities and a few parties to see family and friends before we left.  The support has been amazing though and I am very grateful for it.  We know that we are loved and prayed for. I know how lucky that I am to be loved and prayed for.  We made it to the airport in plenty of time to check-in and security was a breeze.  So the trip is going smooth and so far nobody has discovered that they forgot anything…well mostly.

My trip did begin with one hang-up that I am not very happy about. It has to do with my cell phone. Our contract upgrades came due just days before departure and we where very excited. Out of five phones on my family plan, Sandy, Cameron, Jessica and I, we were all having some kind of trouble with our phones and some of the trouble was making phones unusable. So when we came due, we jumped at the chance to upgrade and we were very excited to have good communication. We set up international travel and even found that out of our whole team, our Sprint phones might be the only ones that work while in the final destination home base, Kitale, Kenya. So we are very excited and I spent hours setting up new phones and getting them ordered, activated and programmed.

At 10pm, the night before we leave, I drop my brand new phone and it fried the touchscreen. Suddenly it was paperweight. I would say “Just my luck I suppose” but I dare not since I am traveling to a country where the indigenous creatures can eat you.

However, I made a change in communication plans and I can still borrow a phone from Cameron or Jess. It will be fine but you know, it is really strange walking around without a cell phone in your pocket.

So things are looking up again as we began the journey. The short trip from Spokane to Sea-Tac went as expected but our flight from Sea-Tac to Dubai is amazing.

It is long.

It is very Long.

Ok – it is very, very, very long.

But we are flying with Emirates and they do an amazing job. On the down side it is a 14 hours and we are packed in tight. Every seat in the plane is taken. You practically need a shoehorn to get out of your seat and you get to know your neighbors REALLY well.

But on the upside, they provided some unexpected amenities. For one thing they provided wonderful food. I had herb and chicken breast with mashed potatoes and a black bean salad. It was a gourmet meal and tasted delicious. Then they come by every hour or so with refreshments. We got a pizza snack that was good. And we still have breakfast coming in a little while.

The staff is wonderful and some of the other services they offer are amazing. Every seat has a good size video screen in the headrest for all manner of entertainment and information with a grand selection of unlimited free tv shows, movies, games, music, trivia, and shopping too. Yes, they have come up and down the aisle with a cart and you look over some of the gift items they offer.
But another really cool feature is the in-flight information. As we are flying there is constant information available about our altitude, speed and the outside temperature but there is also a camera out the nose of the plane and another one looking out bottom. You can actually see the ground zipping by. That is all in conjunction with satellite positioning of the aircraft so we can watch on a geographic map exactly where we are, how far we have to go, the time to destination and the cities we are flying over.
It is a rather impressive system.
Another plus is that everything has been in English so far and that is a big help too. Flying Emirates, all the announcements we get are in Arabic and English but everyone speaks English so it has been easy.
Our team has talked a little. Then we watched a movie. Walked around some, eaten meals and snacks then nodded off for a nap. so the time is passing pretty well. Still I will be pretty thankful when this leg of the journey is over. I have a new appreciation for Michael Bushebi who makes this trip a few times a year. Travel is not as glamorous as one might think.

Now that the stress of the organizational preparations is over, this part of the journey gives me some more time to think about our purpose of the trip and what we hope to accomplish. I know I was asked that question a lot over the last year and my answer stayed pretty much the same; “Kenya is a relational culture and we our primary goal is to just go and visit and meet our brothers and sisters in Christ half way around the world.” Our visit is very important to Pastor Rogers Basara and the people in the church as well.  We imagine the children in the orphanage will be excited too so just showing up means hope and the blessings of God.

But to be honest, in my mind, a gnawing thought wonders if that makes a difference. Does it leave an impact? Will we be able to be a blessing and encouragement? Will they be blessed in the spiritual as ones who comes representing the Lord Jesus? I hope they know that we walk with the Lord and they can spiritually sense His presence with us. That it is God who is their provider and protector.

We still need and seek God’s presence. But I am not worried about the travel anymore, I just pray that ‘in the going’ God will use it for His glory and our new friends will be blessed.

Posted by Cary Peden in Kenya, 0 comments