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Kenya Closing Thoughts

Kenya Closing Thoughts

The last couple of days we started making our way back to Nairobi and eventually the airport.  I can’t believe it is over as the time has gone so fast.  We certainly packed a lot into two weeks.  I decided not to blog about the last two days as it was just travel, a couple hours of shopping and we spent a ½ day driving through Nakuru national park.  That was exciting however – we saw gazelles, monkeys, water buffalo, giraffes, baboons, rhinos and even pulled up right next to a pride of lions – but that is not the reason we came and not the important work that we did.  Still we are thankful for a little enjoyment after such a long journey and mission.

So instead of blogging about the day…or days…I wanted to give some closing thoughts of our journey.

Michael, our guide from Heart For the Land, told us to keep in mind that missionaries have three…

  1. Learn the culture
  2. Serve the culture
  3. Live to tell the story

Well we have done our best to do all three of those things (and we are maybe especially thankful for number 3 being true.)

So I guess my thoughts will be centered on those areas.


Learn the Culture

I don’t think you can learn a culture in just 10 days.  There are things that we did learn, differences that we noted, but to say we understand it all would be very far from accurate.  We did learn some things however and trying to compare and contrast these observations with our own culture gave me interesting things to ponder.  For one thing, the abundance of need and lack of resources seems to have created a real negative type of competition.  There is a type of competition that actually helps a person aspire towards greater things.  Two racers in a competition push each other faster and faster.  Two businesses across the street from each other in competition for market share can help both the customer and the businesses by improving products, innovating creative solutions or increasing customer service.

But the kind of competition we experienced in Kenya seemed to be created by too many people all fighting against each other to get their portion before anyone else might take it.  We noticed it in the market place, the neighborhoods and even in schools, churches and ministries.  Just driving down the street was a battle with almost no organization what-so-ever.  Each driver was fighting for their position on the road with no regard to laws, pedestrians, right-of-way or traffic signals.  As we visited the community it seemed like everyone we met was trying to work some angle on us to get money.  I said it felt like a two-week long time-share presentation.  Edina told us many stories of schools constantly hassling her for money for school fees even though they cannot produce fee schedules, account balances or receipts.  Corruption, lying, theft and price gouging is daily life and considered normal.  We watched as Edina caught a school principle in lies for money.  Michael told us that people like to start churches because they can collect offerings not because they are called into ministry.   Even the orphanage we visited with the 80 children fell victim to a man that worked with them for several months then suddenly pulled out and took everything he could including their farming tractor.  It is unthinkable.

There was a lot of beauty to the culture, their love for their country, the tradition and history, the bright colors in their clothing and dance in their music.  But it seems like they will always struggle until they find ways to work together, work smarter and work harder instead of the selfish taking what they can before some other guy gets it.


Serve the Culture

In the short time we were there I’m not sure what we did to serve the culture other than show up.  They are a very relational culture so we shook thousands of hands, greeted more people than we could ever account and had an almost daily schedule of home visits and meals.  Other than visiting the children of the SHIM project we did not have any time to do any work, have meetings, or clean up the neighborhood as we brainstormed that we might do.  Still I’m very confident that we served the culture.  It might not have been our idea or agenda but that is the point.  We entered into relationships.  We met together, broke bread together, heard and told stories together, prayed together, shared ideas and tried to leave blessing and thankfulness everywhere we went.

When it comes to trying to change the culture, bring enough support to fix the problems, or find solutions to very complex problems it felt a little like we are trying to sink a battleship with a BB gun.  Certainly we are seeking God’s help in any work we might set our hands too but still the needs are overwhelming.  But if we think of it as serving the culture, just doing our part, I am confident that we can and we did make a difference.  We will continue to serve, providing the best support and guidance that we can.


Live to Tell the Story

We are on our way home now.  The time went so quickly and we can’t believe it is over.  Two years of preparation, work and then the long trip…and now it is over.  But we have much to share.  We have the stories, the pictures, the memories and more but what we bring back is so much more than the retelling of the adventure.  We bring passion, renewed commitment and even a stronger sense of God’s hand guiding and providing in our lives and in this work.  We saw His heart as our eyes where opened to His work and we even saw miracles that helped us along the journey.

Now we hope to share the moments that we captured but also the living presence of God that we encountered.  It would be my prayer that as we share our story it would ignite in others this kind of service unto the Lord in the calling He has placed on each hearer.


In Closing

Perhaps the most important lesson from the whole trip came into focus while we were sitting in the Nairobi airport waiting to board for the trip home.  Actually Jessica mentioned how crazy it was and how confused we were when we arrived here two weeks ago.  After landing we exited out the back of the plane, down the stairs and started following the crowd because we had no idea what was going on.  Next thing we know buses started showing up…so we got on those.  Our team jumped on but I got separated and I was trying to squeeze on as we had no Idea what was happening next and we obviously hoped to stay together.  I was the last person to jump on that particular bus load and the doors closed behind me.

That was the beginning of two weeks of just going here and there without any idea of what was happening next.  We didn’t know which direction we were going, what the strategy was, who we would be working with.  Nothing!  However, our host organization Heart For the Land had a full schedule, a great plan, and everything worked out perfectly.  There was a grand plan taking place in the background every step of the way even if we did not know what it was.

I pondered this for just a moment when it struck me that our everyday of my life is like that.  Oh I have appointments, plans, goals, assignments and such all the time, but there is grand plan that is taking place behind the scenes.  We don’t always know exactly what is happening but God does.  We see glimpses from time to time of His perfect working in and around us and so we simply trust Him.  We decide every day to allow Him to lead our lives.  I guess that in Kenya I could have tried to fight the plan.  I could have tried to argue with our host, or walked down the street leaving the taxi behind.  I could have refused to visit homes that we were invited to or taken a nap when opportunities came up.  But instead I just went along as opportunity arose…and I was blessed every time.  I pray God uses each encounter exactly as it needs to be.

Posted by Cary Peden in Kenya, 0 comments
Kenya Day 10

Kenya Day 10

It is time to start saying our good byes.  Unbelievable how quickly our time has gone, how much we have done and all that we have seen.  We packed a lot of stuff into a short time.  It is amazing that something didn’t blow.  But God has been faithful to us.  He has provided and protected and we are so grateful.   We have experienced His very real presence and want to continue in Him as we leave.

We finally had a leisurely morning.  We rested a little, made a nice breakfast, and got caught up on some work. Then we left just after noon to go into Kiminini and visit Pastor Barasa, his family and some of the community.  We visited a little but Pastor and his wife Florence where a little uncomfortable because they did not provide us with a meal.   Even though we had arranged with them that we did not have the time or need for them to cook us food they still did not know what to do with themselves without providing it.  However, they presented gifts to each of us which we did not expect.  The hospitality continues.

We visited a while and we were able to share some closing thoughts together.  They like speeches.  Each family member of the Barasa’s had prepared closing thoughts for us.  They took turns standing, giving a speech and then handing over the conversation to the next one.  It was actually much more formal than we expected.  So we attempted to reciprocate our thoughts by giving them thanks, blessings and encouragements.

After that, an impromptu yet one of the finest moments of the whole trip happened.  Pastor’s son Emmanuel was telling us that he likes to be called by his new name that he picked out.  He wanted to be really cool and have an unusual name.  He wanted an American type name that was not common here in Kenya so he decided to be called…what for it…almost there… ok his new name is ”Bob.”  Awesome!!!

So we were saying goodbye to “Bob” and I said, “I really like that and I would like a Kenyan name.  Can you help me with a new Kenyan name?”

That started a process of the whole family working to think of character traits or roles that they saw in us these last two weeks and giving us the Swahili word that carried that meaning.  They went around to each team member, discuss a trait to honor them, gave us the name, and then told us the meaning.  It was a real honor for us that they would spend that time considering our roles and looking into our character.

So my new Kenyan name is “Wakasa” which means “harvesting.”  They said that I was there to harvest the work of the Lord.  Everyone else received a name too but I will let them share their new Kenyan name.

We finally said goodbye, loaded up the van and made our way out.  Since we were also here for meeting the children we took the opportunity to stop at the public school on the way back to allow Cameron and Jessica to say goodbye to the child that they are sponsoring.  That worked pretty well since we could not possibly go around to the other kids.  At least we said goodbye through them as our representatives.  They were allowed to have Desee come to the head teacher’s office and they hugged, encouraged her to work hard, told her they loved her and where praying for her.

After some tears it was time to leave.

The rest of the evening was spent going to grocery store, dealing with some last business, cooking dinner and doing some cleaning of our quarters.  We also took the opportunity to huddle up as a group and spend some time in the scriptures, praying and then sharing our take-aways from this experience.  I think we are all leaving a little different than when we came.  Everyone shared very insightful thoughts of how they experienced God who was revealing things to them personally.  It was a powerful time.

For me, my biggest take-away (Kairos we call it) was that God has given me opportunities to lead in my   home, my community, my church and now in an expanding international ministry.  To do that well it is important to step into a position of authority and lead well with confidence and faith.  Some lead through a position or title that they have been given.  Some lead through arrogance of selfish pride.  Others lead through anger, frustration and emotion.  But none of these are godly.  This is what happens when we try to live our lives with selfish ambition and on our own strength.  I hope to lead because God has called me and given me certain opportunities and talents to serve Him.

God has given all of us talents and opportunities to serve Him and His Kingdom.  Then He calls us to step into the gifts that are entrusted to us and work to maximize those opportunities and bring increase.  Jesus taught us the parable of the talents and that one day the master will return to inspect our work.  It is vital that we are found busy and diligent and that we have not hid our talents in the ground.

Posted by Cary Peden in Kenya, 0 comments
Kenya Day 9

Kenya Day 9

Today we had the incredible opportunity to visit another orphanage nearby to begin getting a picture of what we might be able to do in the future should the Lord allow.  It gave us ideas, great training, relationship building and insight to some more of the challenges that we will face.  This orphanage is an excellent facility and we were amazed at how they are maximizing the facilities they have.

Over the last 20+ years they have been working to develop 6 to 8 acres of land.  They lease out several acres to a local farmer and then they use the rest for the needs of the children.  They are currently hosting 80 children and their goal is to be self-sustaining without the need for help from a sponsoring organization.   For income they lease out land for farming, raise chickens and eggs, rent out their tractor and receive donations from a sponsorship program.  Then for their own needs they have an incredible system for providing other resources.  They raise the chicken and cows for eggs, milk and meat.  They are growing corn and beans in the field and have a garden for other needs.  There is a solar panel system for their pump that keeps the water tanks full and a second system that is fully wired throughout the compound for electricity but waiting for a second solar panel and batteries for lights and other needs.  There is also a fish pond on the grounds where they raise fish for consumption.

It was also interesting that they are not only entrepreneurial but very frugal.  They all the resources they can.  For example, there was a large open air shed that was full of corn cobs.  We asked about it and apparently, after they have stripped the corn kernels off, the left over cobs go in this shelter to dry.  Then they use the dried cobs as fuel for making fires in the kitchen to cook over.  I thought it was ingenious.

The director of the orphanage, Brother Patrick, was very kind to us and showed us around the facility, answered all of our questions, and taught us many things about how they operate.  This gave our team a lot of ideas along with the beginnings of a picture of what we are dreaming/praying of doing to help the children involved in SHIM.

Like all of our other stops and visits on days before, we went inside the director’s house and sat and shared a meal together.  Over tea we were able to ask our questions and hear his stories.  This was helpful but one thing became a little clearer from this visit; part of the reason we are here helping is not only because of the poverty but also because they are a society that needs organization and leadership.  They are a developing country that shows signs of many improvement and modern advances but is still working to overcome many dysfunctions.

Brother Patrick was meticulously describing their operations talking about issues of management, organization, accountability, integrity and so on.  But I was sitting there listen to his descriptions and thinking that what he was describing as to what needed to happen and why is completely normal living and business dealing that we use every day.  At that moment my perspective changed on a value that I have held rather tightly to but now see it very different.

I have always thought that our role was to support and encourage but not necessarily interfere.  It is the idea that we can educate, guide and encourage local leaders but the goal is to empower them and careful not to interfere because we are “paying the bills” so to speak.  It is principle that we see at work in the church in America.  When people donate to the church they are not necessarily buying the right to tell church leadership what to do.  We look for the right leaders and then trust them to correctly lead the church as long as transparency and accountability are in place.

What I didn’t realize as a difference in helping the work of SHIM, as a developing culture and people it is apparent to our team that they are not ready with the organizational leadership skill nor the expertise to handle this kind of a project.  We are learning that our experience and oversight will be essential to success of ministries as we move forward.

In fact, as we returned from our visit to the orphanage, Pastor Mark, Michael from Heart for the Land, and Pastor Barasa from SHIM Church in Kiminini all sat to discuss some matters of organization and authority to help support the work of the children’s project.  There is still more work to be done as we clarify roles and responsibility and how we can help from a distance but very important work was done today as we began to lay some new foundations for the mission.

This was actually, in my opinion, one of the most important days of the trip. We discussed dreams, began mapping out some new organizational structure, addressed some concerns, and even drafted a new agreement between SHIM, Heart For the Land, and Fellowship Church which represents the state support that we are raising.  We intend to be more involved in operations to help make sure that we are maximizing the funds that donors are entrusting to us.

What has been happening has been very important lifesaving work but we can still improve the operational structure to be able to do more.

As Christ followers, I think we are called to live our lives well.  The Bible says to “redeem the time” and that principle can be extended to many areas.  We maximize our time to do God’s work.  Or we should be careful in our budgets so that there is margin for generosity.  We can educate ourselves to become more knowledgeable and increase our effectiveness in our efforts.  There are many ways to improve our loves and therein become more available and effective for Kingdom work.

Posted by Cary Peden in Kenya, 0 comments
Kenya Day 8

Kenya Day 8

We split up today into two groups.  Cameron, Jessica and Anne went to do more work with the children while Murphy, Wheeler and I went to visit another pastor’s house.  It was a great plan as the first team feels strongly called to minister to the children and the other three of us where comfortable meeting pastors, bring encouragement and even find opportunities to try to speak into their life situation.

As we broke into two groups there was a moment when I felt some small fear for the team that was leaving us and going the opposite direction.  I know that Cameron and the two girls are highly capable and wise.  Still it was a little worrisome to watch the people you care about and feel responsible for, walking off in a different direction, disappearing around a corner in an unfamiliar town half way around the world.  And they are “mzungu” so there is a little extra concern that some people of the town might not be as hospitable as the church leaders we have spent most of our time with.

A major portion of this whole process in preparing to come to Kenya, and now being here, has been a very long exercise in stretching our faith.  Of course we always talk about trusting in Him but then it is something different to actually do it.  When you are facing a problem or the unknown do you turn to fear or to faith?  Obviously we are cautious and wise but all the while looking to Jesus “the author and perfector of our faith.”

(A little pause) if you are reading this…thank you…both of you (smile)…what situation are you facing right now that is bring anxiety, fear or worry?  What do you need to do to keep your eyes on Jesus?  Are you in a season of waiting?  Are things changing for you or somethings even being taken away?  Is this a season to endure and not give up?  Is it a season to move into new action?  What might God be calling you to do?  What might He be showing you?  When in your life has He been faithful before and how does that remind you that He will be faithful again…whatever happens?

(back to the story) So I told Cameron to make sure he is watching out for the girls, which he already was but that was the fatherly thing to say, and that he did not need to worry because Edina our lady social worker would be watching out for him.   And they walked off.

Then Pastor Rodgers arrived, team 2 loaded up in the van and we left to visit another church and their pastor.  That was an interesting journey.  We were told that the church was only 9 kilometers away but what we didn’t know that that was calculated if you took the short way through the back roads and trails.  In the car we had to take the long way around and our journey took 2 hours.

When we arrived at the church it was a small structure about the size of school classroom.  It was formed with 3-inch tree poles bound together and metal sheets coming half way up the sides and making a roof.  The floor was made of mud with a slightly raised mud stage in the front.  Since the church is still fairly new, the floor felt soft and uneven but I imagine that it will pack down over time.

We were to meet Pastor Keven there as he SO PROUDLY showed us his church and shared a few dreams of things they want to do and improvements they want to make.  That was an interesting contrast in how humble the church and yet how proud it made him.  Another interesting contrast was that we were standing in the mud floor shack and he was wearing what look like an Armani suit wearing his Gucci sunglasses.  His outfit included a shimmering silver suit jacket and pants, nice white shirt, a colorful tie and polished shoes.  Standing there looking suave with his designer sunglasses on I thought he looked ready for a TBN telethon.  I guess I say that in some jest but this ‘dressing up’ is very common for their church functions. On Sunday morning the women were dressed in fancy dresses and the men had on nice clothes or even suits as they walked down the muddy impoverished streets of the town.  This day we were just visiting this stick frame shanty Pastor Keven had on his suit to great us.  I can say I am not trying to criticize the culture or even draw a conclusion, it is just an interesting phenomenon.

After that we made our way to Pastor’s Keven’s home.  There we met his family and a couple other pastors and we visited a while before sharing a meal together.  The meals continue to be these massive feasts and we feel very uncomfortable when our hosts set the food before us.  Usually we have been told that we are just going by someone’s church or house to meet them, visit and pray together.  So when they start bringing out food, and it is so much food, and we know that they are making sacrifices to provide it and they may not be eating for the next few days because they are trying to bless us.  It is very humbling.  The hospitality is overwhelming.  To them, our presence, our visit to their home is very special blessing.  Why?  I’m not sure.

Part of it is just being awestruck at having white people visit.  It really feels strange having everyone making such a big deal over us, following us around, running and screaming after us, wanting to shake our hands and touch our skin.  However, when we visited Pastor Keven’s he had two church leaders there as well; his church secretary and his treasurer.  I would say that they are in their late to upper 20’s and we were the first “Mzungu”s they have ever seen in their life.  That is just so hard to believe in the world and day and age that we live in today.  However, that is the world that we are in now.  And to the Kenyans we must seem like the materialization of storybook mystical creatures from a faraway land bringing wonder and blessing to them.

But we are just people.  We know how unimportant we are and how little we can do without Christ.  I can understand how a person that achieves sudden fame and fortune can go crazy from all the attention.  But they can probably get lost if they think the talent and money can sustain them.  We on the other hand, have found that we have great opportunity and great responsibility to properly steward the blessings that have been afforded to us.  We merely serve and seek God to do His will wherever we go.  May he direct our steps and order our days for the building of His Kingdom as we all have a “heart for our land” wherever we are.

Posted by Cary Peden in Kenya, 0 comments
Kenya Day 7

Kenya Day 7

My rear end is sore, my back is sore, my hips are bruised, my knees are locked up and I’m exhausted.

Today we took motorcycle taxies again to visit some homes and schools. But the area we visited was up on Mt Mengo and it was a really long distance on the motorbikes over horrible rocky roads. The first time on the bikes last Friday was really fun but today was just awful…even for me and I love to ride. So it was extra difficult for the rest of the team. And then to add insult to injury, on the way back down it started to pour down rain and our taxies started to double time it down the mountain to a school where we could get in and find shelter. That was a little extra added excitement.

With the difficulty of the ride, we have such a new appreciation for how difficult the job is for our social worker. She visits the kids three times per month. The journey that we are so glad is over, she will do again every week.

It is rather eye opening as to how much harder everything is over here. You see people walking everywhere and they are walking for miles, often carrying children on their back or something on their head. The roads are terrible because the rains washes away the mud to expose the rocks underneath so the road is bumpy and there are puddles, ruts and many washed out areas. This red mud is everywhere so everything is dirty and gritty. And there are so many people out walking around, shopping, working, doing whatever that is really hard to get anywhere. You are always dodging motorbike and pedestrians, slowing down for potholes and speed bumps, weaving in and out…and it seems like we always have to go a long way. How do they get anything done?

There is a main highway that runs between Nairobi and Uganda. It is a fairly good highway with a maximum speed limit of 110KPH; not that we ever get going that fast will all the chaos. But once you leave the highway, all the other roads are dirt. These roads go way back into the bush where there is an amazing network of homes, farms and little towns. The roads are so bad that everyone takes the motorbike taxies to get around or deliver supplies. It’s not uncommon at all to see one with 20 stacked up plastic chairs, or 3 people, or large bundles of firewood or anything else that they need to strap on the little back seat.

That is all just to say that we are so thankful for the hard work of Edina. She is amazing. She is intelligent and hardworking, incredibly organized and on top of everything going on.

She is hired by our organization, Heart For the Land, and not by the government like we might think of a social worker. They do regulate her work and she is accountable to them but she is employed through the support that we raise. We pay her practically nothing, resource her with little, ask her to do an impossible job and her make travel alone over hundreds of kilometers per month. I told her that she can never leave us.

She took us around to a visit a couple homes where sponsored children live as well as a couple more schools. I will say that I think I’m tired of crying because we saw more devastation and extreme poverty in the visits we made but I wasn’t as overcome with the tears. I am also challenged by the confidence and strength displayed by Edina. I know my heart is highly invested in the people I care about but I am inspired by her confidence and ability to deal with these difficult situations with a godly authority.

She not only checks on the kids and helps with the resources, she finds that she needs to counsel the house parents and even school officials. As a developing country they are struggling with good organization and structure. They are trying and improvements are coming but she still runs into a lot of corruption, deception and disorganization. So she is often telling people what they have to do. There is also a poverty spirit here where people believe that their only hope of a better life is if someone will come along and help them. So even though there is all this chaos going on, there are many children and adult just sitting around with an aimless life and blank stares in their eyes. Life is hard and they have come to believe that there is nothing they can do to change it. So Edina is always telling them things like “You have to work hard.” “You are responsible for yourself.” “Have a dream.” And so on.

Good lessons for us all. We shared with her that we have similar challenges in America. There are many people who settle for the status quo and their hope is in the government taking care of them, or their luck will change or someone else will take care of the problems around them. What a shame if God has given us such blessings and opportunities as we have the U.S. and we squander them away with an aimless life. What a shame if don’t use our opportunities to serve our God.

Posted by Cary Peden in Kenya, 0 comments
Kenya Day 6

Kenya Day 6

Before I describe yesterday, let me describe a bit from last night.

Our team is doing an amazing job of staying positive and keeping their eye on the prize of helping the kids. Even in the face of difficult circumstances. I have already shared some of the stories of long and very emotional days but then when we get home there are still challenges in our living quarters. The power and water that works some days but not others, we all have bugs in our room and Anne has awoken to frogs and a gecko.

The biggest challenge however is our beds. The mattresses have flattened out over the years of use and provide little protection from the boards of the bed frames. I actually feel bruised on both hips and along my back from sleeping on the boards and sleep is becoming even painful. The whole team is fighting to be comfortable and I am beginning to long for a good night sleep.

But last night was a bit of a sleepless for me for other reasons. I found myself thinking, and praying, and seeking the Lord’s wisdom as we are observing and learning about the way of life here in Kiminini. There is great need here in Kenya and that has created a difficult spirit of competition. Over the last couple of days, we are becoming aware of a divisive sprit within the people who are trying to help the kids. They all are working hard and making sacrifices but they tend to have disagreements about things like priorities, policies, and procedures. There are different ideas about what and how thing should be done.

It’s not an unknown phenomenon in our own culture. We have the same problems and divisiveness in our churches in America. There can be similar divisions, gossip, and personal agendas among the people of the church or church groups. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus while avoiding the distractions of those divisions, personal agendas and preferences and so on. But that is a never ending job.

So after a pretty restless night, dealing with my bed and sorting out my thoughts with God, the day would be spent going to church at SHIM and visiting with the people of the church.

Well actually our team split into two groups so the Pastor Mark and Mark Murphy drove into Bonguma to visit the church that Michael’s father pastors. I know that they got to sit in velvet thrones in the front of the church but beyond that I will let them tell the story.

The other half of the team, Cameron, Jessica, Anne and myself went into Kiminini to be at SHIM and experience their worship service style. I think in a previous blog that pastor Rogers is trying to incorporate more structure and organization in the things they do. So it was interesting to see that they had a chalk board in the front of the church with an order of service written on it; include the instructions to “Put off your cell phone.” We found that quite entertaining.

When we arrived they had already begun the service and another visiting pastor was sharing what they called the 1st teaching. When he finished they did some more worship and dancing and then took up an offering. There where the obvious difference like a mud floor, rural building and few decorative trimmings, there are also a lot of similarities in the church work and service to what we do in Spokane.

They invited me up to greet the crowd and I was instructed that as soon as that happened I was free to take over the service and bring any program that I had in mind. This gave me a chance to share with the church that we actually had a good portion of our worship team here as wanted to do a song for them. So Jessica and Anne lead them in “Trading our Sorrows” while Cameron and I sang and danced along. Soon the SHIM worship team joined us along with a few other children and we were all dancing together. It was rather exhilarating.

After that, Cameron, Jessica and Anne took the kids outside and did some ministry with them. They read them a book about Jesus, they helped the kids make friendship bracelets with some materials we brought and then they did some more singing. They also had the privilege of presenting a soccer ball to one of the sponsored kids who was at church that day. The kids where all very excited and got to play with it for a while before the church service inside ended.

Meanwhile, I remained inside and was asked to share a message. It was a very spiritual experience for me but it was rather different from I would normally do. My sermons at home are almost a manuscript that I write and stick pretty close to. I didn’t write out a sermon but I did plan an idea and simple outline to help me. However, this morning during my devotional time and prayer I was seeking God’s guidance and I had a strong impression to go a different direction. So instead of my plan I read from Matthew 28 and shared a message I call “Jesus has the Power but we do the work.” It was akin to a message I shared a few weeks earlier in my church but with a distinctly different feel.

As I preached, a translator would interpret and that takes a bit of getting use to fall into a rhythm. But also there is some struggle in getting the translation correct. I was trying to make a point that we ask God to bless our work, that we have to do the work of building the Kingdom of God. We seem to be experiencing some beliefs that are ingrained in the culture here that you just pray and God will give you what you want. I shared from Matthew 28 that we to the work of the Kingdom and seek Jesus’ help and blessing. As an example I said “Do you pray that God will bless you with money and then you go sit under the tree waiting for Him to bring it? No…you go to the job and you work hard.” Apparently the translator said “Do you pray that God gives you money and then you take it and sit under the tree?” Well that statement did not make much sense nor make a point. But then he realized what I meant and he re-explained my point.

But there is so much work to be done for the Kingdom of God. Evangelism, discipleship, serving the needs of our neighbors, all because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord can change a heart and He can change a life. Because He is so good to us, how can we do anything but tell of His goodness as we live for Him.

Share Jesus with someone today.

Posted by Cary Peden in Kenya, 0 comments
Kenya Day 5

Kenya Day 5

Today was another long day of ministry, meeting people and learning more about the area.  Back home, even though I tend to stay very busy, there is still more time to relax than what we are experiencing here.  We will probably need another two weeks for rest when we get home.


We have been traveling around the area seeing the country, visiting children and meeting community leaders.  We have been eating meals in homes and hearing stories of need but also God’s work and power in their lives.  Even when we get back to our Guest House our time is full of making more meals, debriefing our day, making plans for the next, and grabbing those moments we can to send a little information through the internet back home to family and friends.


Any of that is enough but there is still work to do in the evenings when we are hoping to get a few moments alone.  Most of our team are trying to journal and capture their memories and take-aways from the day.  Or we are also preparing for ministry needs for the next day.  Or we are cooking our meals.  Or we are sharing, praying, and reading scripture as a team.


All that said I just want to give a shout out to the team; Mark Wheeler, Cameron & Jessica, Anne & Mark Murphy.  They are all doing an amazing job of finding ministry opportunities and taking full advantage of each.  They are putting up with the sometimes unsettling differences in the culture.  They are finding the groove of being satisfied with whatever God has for us to do even if it was not what we were thinking or prepared for.  And they are doing an excellent job as we are facing all these challenges with grace and positive attitudes.  It is a great privilege to be together with them on this journey.


I think this is great training for us in how we should always be living our lives.  Not so much in the intensity of trying to do so much in the short time that we are here, but in the sense that we should be open to the work of the Kingdom that God brings into our life.  There is a saying that “We plan our life but God orders our steps.”  We are seeing that happen every day.


Today was a conference at Pastor Roger’s church, Shim Gospel Ministries.  He invited pastors from around the area along with his ministry team to come together for a day of worship, prayer, encouragement and instruction.  It was also our first experience of their style of a church gathering.  It was amazing even though it was a lot less structured or resourced than like we might normally be accustomed to.  It was not a large gathering, probably 25 people plus a bunch of kids, but they provided very energetic music and demonstrated a great desire to learn.


There was a sense of direction of for the day and an idea of a schedule but it was also a little less organized than we are used to.  However, Pastor Rogers and this rural Kenyan church are trying to bring in structure and introduce the people to the benefits of organization.  But that is very hard to do.  We might laugh at the idea of “Kenyan time” and wonder how a society even functions when you have no idea of when people will arrive for things like church or a job or a meeting.  However, when you have to walk 15 kilometers to get to church and you meet people all along the way that want to stop and talk with you, and maybe the rain washed out the road last night and you are carrying the plastic chair you plan to sit on, you have no idea how long it will take you to get to get there.  Everything about life is harder, takes more time, and has no room for error. It is just the way of life.  We are exhausted and finding it difficult to accomplish the things that we need to and we have a car, money, good facilities and team work.  I am amazed at how hard they work and what the can accomplish with so little.


Still they are working to bring in structure, planning, strategies, and various other attempts at organization.


Back to the conference there was an opening time of worship, prayer and introductions.  Then Mark Murphy, Pastor Wheeler and I all shared a message; 3 messages had been outlined just the night before when we found out that we were responsible to provide a seminar that could last from 9am to 11pm that night.  It didn’t turn out to be that way and we were thankful for that.  I preached twice and the two Mark’s preached once so that wasn’t too bad.


After the morning session, we had a lunch break.  Cameron, Jessica and Anne had gone into town during this time to buy mattresses, blankets and other supplies for children that just got sponsored.  How exciting for them to be able to be there when a child finds out about their new sponsor and begin to receive the support that they need.  We have said this before but sponsorship changes a life and sometimes even saves a life.  It truly makes a difference and to be here and meet the children that need that help, holding them in our arms, seeing smiles on their faces, is a reward that we could never properly express to the sponsors back home.  But we want to thank you for every sacrifice, every prayer, every gift that you have shared with your child.


Jesus said “It is better to give than to receive.”  The joy that we are experiencing as we are able to give this support to the children is overwhelming.  If my heart was as big as a 5-gallon container it would still be overflowing with joy and I am so thankful as I think of all the people who are back home making the support a reality.  God will bless you with overflowing goodness as well.  You may not get the chance to come to Kiminini and hold your child in your arms during your time in this life, but one day you will meet your child in Glory and you will receive the blessings of the difference that you are making in them.

Posted by Cary Peden in Kenya, 0 comments
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