And…we’re back!

Jambo!

We’ve been back in New Haven for over a week now.  Pastor Stecker had talked to us prior to returning about a feeling of letdown that someone on a mission trip might have once returning to their everyday lives.  I have to tell you that I absolutely experienced it.  When discussing this at our wrap up meeting this week, none of us could actually put a finger on why we felt that way, but we all did.

Perhaps it’s the feeling of knowing we did so much, and there is so much left to do there.

Or maybe it was all the friendships formed in such a short time that we had to leave behind.

I think, though, that it mainly has to do with the idea of service.  While in Kenya, it was so easy to see how we were serving others.  Teaching VBS, working on construction, providing free health care to a community, building a mud hut for a family…these things are very visual, and very dramatic ways of serving!  Once back to our normal lives, it’s difficult to compare our jobs to the jobs we did over there.

So, I have been constantly stopping and reminding myself that yes, what we did there was amazing.  God was truly with us every step of the way so we could serve those in Kenya and help make their lives better through Him.  But I also have to remind myself that what each of us do here in New Haven is amazing as well.  I teach school, other teammates work in offices, manage other people, fix things for others, work with technology, preach, and organize different projects.  Every one of these positions has its own opportunities to serve.  While they might not be as flashy as mudding a hut, God will continue to use us in our everyday lives.  If we are willing to watch for it, He will show us how He wants to use us here to serve others.

In the words of one of my favorite songs we sang at VBS: God is so good, He’s so good to me.

In the jungle, the quiet jungle…

Sorry for no posts the last two nights. We’ve been away from Internet access for the last two nights, as we’ve been staying in huts at Mara West. The camp is located at the edge of Masai Mara game preserve, an extension of the Serengeti. We arrived there around lunch time on Thursday, ate lunch, then went out for a sunset safari. Friday we went on an all day safari.

The word “safari” means “journey” in Swahili. What a fitting description of the last two days. This was the part of the trip that just makes you think, NOW I’m in Africa.

While on the safari, both Thursday afternoon and all day Friday, we saw so many animals. None of us could believe just how much we saw. I’ll share some fun stories later in the post, but first I’ll give a list of which animals we saw over the course of two days:

Zebras, baboons, water buffalo (or cape buffalo), elephants, mongoose, black bellied buster (bird), hippos, giraffes, lions (both male and female), water bucks (like an antelope), many different kinds of impalas, rhinos, jackals, warthogs, guinea fowl (bird), crowned cranes, crocodiles, wildebeest, Tori busters (the heaviest flying bird in the world), hyenas, and ostriches. Pretty much the only things we missed were cheetahs and leopards, as they are much harder to see. Quite a list, huh?

Alright, now for some stories. Thursday evening, we watched as a female lion stalked a water buck that was lying in the grass. She was so patient, creeping forward so slowly. When she finally decided to strike, the water buck (who was huge!) got away easily. It didn’t run far when it turned around and started challenging the lion! The lion knew it had no chance (it was hunting alone, and lions typically hunt in groups), so it walked off in defeat. Very cool, and a total twist to the predator-prey stories we imagine.

Friday, we sat at the river awhile watching the crocodiles, when we noticed a large herd of zebras nearby. They seemed very nervous, and we soon realized why. They wanted to cross the river, to migrate to different pastures. The only thing was, there were hungry crocodiles in the river. So, we sat and watched as, sure enough, those zebras started swimming across the river. We were cheering for them as they made it across. A few times a crocodile would take a snap at a zebra, but they were being very picky about which zebras to attack. We think they were watching for a baby or an old zebra. There was one small zebra we thought for sure was a goner, but it managed to get away from the crocodile and make it to shore. It was definitely tense, and the crocodiles are every bit as mean as they look on TV.

These were the two main events that we’ll be talking about for a long time, but there are just so many other stories to share that I’ll have to tell you at a later date.

Lastly, the camp we were staying at had no fence around it, so each night we could hear zebras snuffling around our tents. It was really neat. Apparently there was an elephant outside last night, but I didn’t hear anything. I was the only one to sleep through the trumpeting of the elephant.

We also got up to watch the sunrise both mornings we were there. It was absolutely gorgeous. You know the opening scene of the Lion King, where the sun rises over the savanna? Well, it was pretty much like that, just minus all the animals congregated in one place like they a in the movie. Did see some elephants while it was rising, though, so that was neat.

Probably this will be my last blog post from the trip. We will be in Nairobi until Sunday night when our plane leaves. No idea what our plans are for our time here. We should be arriving back in Fort Wayne around 4ish on Monday. Pray that all our flights go smoothly and stay on time for us. Thank you for your support throughout the trip with your comments and prayers. We’ll see you soon!

Jambo!
-Miss R.

Recipe for a Mud Hut

Alright, for those of you who are planning to build a mud hut, here is what you need to do:

1. Build a frame out of small sticks, in the shape of a house, with a roof (tin is the best)
2. Get a bunch of mud.
3. Get some rocks (optional)
4. Fill in the framework with the mud and rocks, closing in ALL the tiny spaces you see
5. After the mud has dried (weeks later), coat the outside with cow manure

Today we built a mud hut for a family that lives near the school (not the same family we gave food to…theirs is being built next week). I’m going to be honest: this was the day I was dreading the most. But was I surprised at how awesome of an experience it turned out to be. It was hot, we were dirty, but the feeling of accomplishment when we finished was incredible. The looks on the family’s face when we were done was absolutely worth all of the hard work.

We had the entire hut done by about 3:00, and we got started around 9:30. We took few breaks, the longest of which was lunch, when they had to mix more mud.

I can’t begin to express how awesome it has been serving the people of Kisumu. I know that God has been working through us. Pastor has even been able to have chats about God while working construction! God is so good.

Tomorrow we head to Masai Mara for our safari. Not sure if there will be internet, so if you don’t hear from me, do not worry. I will do the final blog either Saturday night or Sunday afternoon.

Jambo!
-Miss R.

Medical clinic day 2

Today was the second day of our medical clinic. Over the course of both days, we have handed out hundreds of pairs of glasses, and served over 500 people. What a blessing to give free health services to those who cannot afford any kind of medical help.

My job was again the take names at registration. It was a little more hectic than yesterday, as all of the kids from the school came for checkups at the same time. That was alot of names to get at the same time.

By the end of the day today, the computers that were donated to the school were all cleaned off, checked, and up and running. Sandy has been working hard with these machines, and we are proud to report that the school here now has a computer lab with 13 computers and one printer. 7 computers are complete, and the other 6 are ready, but missing monitors. There may be monitors buried in the giant trailer full of donated items. God was truly working through the mission team from Canada that came here this summer, as they were the ones who donates the computers to the school.

Tomorrow we will be constructing a mud hut. It will be similar to the hut of the family we gave the food to yesterday. More on that with tomorrow’s update.

Jambo!
-Miss R.