Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Time To Go Home

Well, my two weeks in Kenya flew by. Saturday I had some time to go the Maasai market in Nairobi and buy some gifts for my family. I didn't want to buy run-of-the-mill stuff, but real African-made gifts. I think I found some nice things. For my wife - who let me go on this two week excursion and took care of the kids by herself while the toilet was backing up and snow was coming down! - for her I got a 1.6 karat tanzanite trillion. Tanzanite is a gemstone that is pretty rare and only found (so far) in Tanzania. (Hence the name!) Since Kenya is right next to Tanzania, I got a pretty good deal on it, I think. So when I got home I took it to a jeweler and got it mounted on a pendant for her.

After church on Sunday, it was time to pack and head to the airport. My flight was not until late Sunday night, but Dr. Quill and Kantor Resch were leaving in the afternoon, so I took the van with them. That gave me some time to relax, walk around the airport a little, and do some reading.

The flight home was looong. No longer than the flight there (although on the way home they routed me through Detroit!) but it seemed longer. I guess the excitement of going overseas for the first time and getting there helped on the way over. Coming home I just wanted to get home and see my family - so that made it seem longer. The flight from Nairobi to Amsterdam was 8 hours, and then from Amsterdam to Detroit another 8 hours - then all I had was a bit over an hour to Washington Dulles.

Going through customs at the airport was interesting. I did not have too much to declare, so that was okay - but one of the questions on the entry form was: "Have you been around livestock?" Well, in Kenya, everyone is around livestock all the time! Cows, chickens, goats, and donkeys have pretty much free range everywhere I went. So, they asked me about that - and the agent chuckled when I told him why I marked "yes." I had to go through a special line and put the bags through a separate screener of some sort, but made it through without a problem.

My family came and picked me up - I didn't have to wait too long - and they treated me to a nice welcome home dinner at a restaurant called Texas Roadhouse. If you haven't been to one, go! They have very good steaks, which was quite a delight for me after two weeks of Kenyan food.

Tomorrow: Final Thoughts

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Going to Church in the "slums"

On my second Sunday in Kenya, I was privileged to go to the church pastored by Rev. Dennis Meeker. His church is in the "slums" of Nairobi. That in itself makes this a challenging place to be, but to make matters worse, during the post-election violence last year, his church compound was broken into and much damage done. The health clinic behind the church was completely looted and burned, and there was also much vandalism and fire-damage to the church. Most of the westerners left the country during those days, but Pastor Meeker stayed for his people. They have repaired some of the damage, but there is still much to be done.

Pastor Peasant with Pastor Meeker in a burned out room of the health clinic.

The chancel of Kibera Lutheran Church, with charred cross and wall.

I did not have any responsibilities this Sunday (as I did the previous Sunday) - I got to attend the Divine Service and receive the preaching of God's Word. This week, Pastor Froh preached and assisted with the service. What made the day extra special for him was that he was able to baptize eleven children! I'm sure it was a day he will not soon forget.

The church was very crowded - especially with children! They had several choirs sing during the service and we were privileged to receive the Lord's Supper with our Kenyan brothers and sisters in Christ. And although the liturgy was in Swahili, it was still the liturgy - so we could follow along and knew the parts of the service. What a blessing our common liturgical heritage is!

The view from the church looking out over the "slums."

With some of the children of Kibera.

Tomorrow: Time to go home.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Back to the Seminary

After spending the week with the Evangelists, Pastor Froh and I traveled back to the Seminary on Thursday afternoon. When we got back, we were treated to a show at the Lutheran Teachers College (in a neighboring compound), put on by the students there. It was fun to watch them.

Singing the Kenyan National Anthem

A storyteller


The choir sang some hymns

That night we gathered at Prof. Aadland's house for a farewell dinner and party. Kantor Resch cooked for us - he is really quite the chef!

The next morning I was privileged to preach for the morning Matins at the Seminary.

Then in the afternoon, it was off to the airport to return to Nairobi. We trusted Pastor Froh to tie our bags down tightly! (Yes, they all made it to the airport!)

(Can you imagine trying to take a picture like this at a US airport? They'd have your camera confiscated so fast it would make your head spin!)

While in Kisumu, we stopped at the Diakonia Compassionate Ministry compound, where Pastor Chuchu works. This organization does a number of caring ministries for the folks in and around Kisumu, including caring for widows and orphans, hosting a walk-in medical clinic, and they have a special education school on the premises. They are involved in a number of other initiatives also - check out their web site here for more information on them.

Tomorrow: Going to Church in the "slums" of Nairobi

Monday, March 2, 2009

Your Mission Dollars at Work

While in Kenya, one of the things I got to see were the buildings built by LCMS World Relief and Human Care to help the ELCK with their care for widows and orphans. Rev. David Chuchu is the Special Projects Coordinator for the ELCK and coordinates this work. He does an outstanding job with a challenge that is great. Below is a Support Center for widows near the Atemo Evangelist School where widows meet to make items to sell, for support, and for Bible Study.

The sign by the road of the Support Center (click on it for a bigger image,
and notice the LCMS WR&HC logo on the bottom right.)

Next is a new Orphan's Center being built in Kisii. There are so many orphans in Kenya due to AIDS. This center will house and care for 8 or 9 orphans. It is being built near one of our churches there, which also has a school for the orphans to attend.

Learning about the project from Pastor Chuchu.

Each of these building costs approximately $54,000 US - which for us really isn't that much, but which is prohibitively expense for them! The dollars that you give to LCMS WR&HC go a long way in Kenya, and we are very involved with the church and her projects there. We don't go in and tell them what to do - our folks listen to them and offer our help where needed and practical. They need to build many more centers like these to care for the people there. Hopefully we will be able to help even more in the future.

Tomorrow: Back to the Seminary