This blog post will be a long one. We’ve been without Internet since Sunday night, so this post will cover Sunday-Tuesday’s activities. Hang in there; the stories will all be worth it.
Sunday was a wonderful day here in Kisumu. We started out our day with church at the chapel at the school. The service followed a divine service setting that we are familiar with back in the US, but what really stood out to me during the service were two very special things. There were 18 baptisms during the service. 18!! 16 of them were school children, and 2 were babies. Pastor Chase got to perform all of the baptisms. What an incredible blessing to be able to witness all of these newly baptized Christians being received into our church family.
The other part of the church service that stands out in my mind is when we were singing the hymn “How Great Thou Art.” I love that hymn, have sung it many times before, and was very excited to sing it again during the service. However, I only made it about 2 phrases into the first stanza before I had to stop singing because of the tears flowing down my face. The whole congregation was belting this hymn out as loud as they could, and the voices of the children in the back were soaring above the rest. As I sat and listened to the rest of the hymn, I couldn’t help but think that someday, this is what heaven is going to sound like. Absolutely incredible.
After lunch we went back up to the dorm area at the school to distribute gifts. We started with the bags holding quilts, then gave out the sponsor gifts, and finally gave out the rest of the bags that we had packed the night before. It was truly like Christmas for these kids, and it was incredible to watch them look through their bags and discover each new thing. There were many smiles today, and also some very happy tears (let’s be honest, some were mine, haha).
I also got to spend some time with my sponsor child, Marianne, today, which was really exciting. Oh, she is a cutie! She lives in town, so she is not attending Point of Grace yet, but her family will be moving out here in the next few months.
When we had finished with the gifts, we went into Kisumu to buy some supplies and to have dinner at a restaurant. Our dinner was at a restaurant that overlooked Lake Victoria. We just missed the sunset, but it was still a gorgeous view, and excellent tilapia, freshly caught.
When we left the restaurant to drive home, we didn’t get too far before we encountered an unexpected adventure. The car Pastor Meeker was driving (we were in two vehicles to hold us all) had a flat tire. And when I say flat, I mean FLAT. That thing was pretty much destroyed. (I don’t know if I’ve mentioned the roads much, but they are not well maintained at all here. I think flat tires are probably a way of life, but we still weren’t expecting it.) When the other driver got the spare put on, we found that the spare was also flat. So, the other van took the spare to a filling station in town to have it pumped up, then brought it back. Which left our car waiting on the side of the road. In the dark. It was definitely an adventure. It probably took about 30 minutes or so for the other group to come back with the tire. We got it put on and were on our way. At least we can cross something off our bucket list now: change a tire in Kenya. Haha…what a day.
Today was a full workday. We split up into various groups to work on different projects. Shirley went along with Lorna to do some visits with some families in the area. Ruth, Cindy, Tim, Pastor Stecker, Bryan, Don, Tom D., and Tom B. were all in the upstairs classrooms of the school, working on painting the walls that we had primed the other day.
I was working down in the “baby classrooms” (which here is the name for preschool). I had offered a few months ago to paint a mural on a classroom wall. When I got here, Pastor Meeker asked if I was going to paint, so we worked on getting some colored paints, and today was the day to start! By lunchtime I had finished one wall with a Noah’s Ark scene, complete with African animals. After lunch I started another, since there were paints left over. The one done after lunch was a sunset silhouette picture. This time I had a helper. The kids had a holiday today, so there was no school. One of the older boys, Tesva, asked if he could help me with my art. He used to do paintings on the street and sell them. I was happy to have a helper for the afternoon. And he was a very good artist!
Before dinner I helped Lorna take pictures of the boarding students who do not have sponsors yet. There are SO MANY awesome kids waiting for sponsors, so if you’re at all considering sponsoring a child at Point of Grace, keep all these stories we’re sharing in mind as you pray about the possibility. God is doing great things here through the support of sponsoring churches and people like you!
After dinner and devotions tonight, there wasn’t any work to take care of for tomorrow, so Tim, Bryan, and I went back up to the dorms to hang out with the kids. Our first stop was one of the girls’ dorms, and they were very excited to see us up there visiting. I had packed five different colored nail polish bottles, and Tim’s wife had crocheted some cute flower headbands, so we pretty much made there night. After handing out headbands, we settled in for a nail painting party. The boys were very good sports for this activity, and Bryan discovered a hidden talent! After painting probably hundreds of nails, we were kicked out so the girls could go to bed. It was a lot of fun hanging out with the girls, having them tell stories, and teaching us new words in Swahili.
Today was very much like yesterday. We worked on painting at the school some more, before running out of paint for the classrooms. Shirley and Cindy went to town with Lorna for supplies and to check things out at the airport to make sure we’re all set for when we leave on Monday.
I was back in the baby rooms, painting the other two sections of the wall. I still had a lot of paint left from yesterday’s murals, so they asked if I would do the other walls as well. On the first wall, I did a mural of an empty tomb and the words “Alleluia! He is risen!” After tea break, I did the other wall, which had a tree, a few animals, and the words “The Lord God made them all!” Painting the murals was lots of fun, which made it not seem like work at all. And the kids were very excited about how bright their classrooms look!
Once Shirley, Cindy, and Lorna returned from town, they returned with 40 mattresses, 40 blankets, 120 spoons, and 80 small plastic chairs for the preschool rooms. They also spent most of the Koins for Kenya money on new plates and cups for the kids to use for lunch. 200 plates and 60 cups! These will help out so much at lunchtime, as many of the plates we were serving on this trip are cracked on the bottom and leak.
It was a busy couple of days, but we definitely got a lot of work done AND got to spend some quality time with these great kids. God is so good!!