Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Kenya Chronicles Part I

(this is me preaching at Mathare Valley A/G on Sunday, with my interpreter co-pastor Jane Tembu)

JAMBO, MY FRIENDS! (Jambo means "hello" in Kenya). November 8

I have been keeping a written journal of my trip...and for the past few days the internet here has been booting me off except a brief email to my husband. My goal has been to update the blog a little bit daily to tell you what's happening. It seems right now it's letting me on so we're going to give this a try! Here we go...my journal so far:


Wow - I can't believe the time is REALLY here. I am actually sitting here on this plane, leaving for Newark (EWR) in a few minutes. Susan met me in the waiting area (she works at the airport and has clearance) so we had a soda and waited til they called for boarding. I think my bag has everything it it but the kitchen sink. I not only packed enough to keep me busy on the plane for all these hours, but I packed a skirt and blouse, my Bible and message notes for the week just in case my luggage is lost.

November 9

Long flight from EWR to London Heathrow (LHR). I had to literally RUN to make it. EWR required that for my flight, I go back down and go through security all over AGAIN. I only had one hour to do all this and to say it was tight was an understatement. So there I was literally sprinting to my gate but praise God I made it. This plane: THE BIGGEST I HAVE EVER SEEN. It's an airbus. Very nice amenities - everything from socks to eye masks to toothbrushes, loads of movies, tv shoes, even complimentary wine with dinner although I didn't have any - I'm a good Pentecostal. :-) Or at least an obedient A/G minister...one or the other. I sat next to a nice man from London...we had a seat in between us which we were both thrilled with because we had more room. After small talk we settled in, had dinner and got ready to watch a movie and sleep. They had little pillows on our seat - two blue ones and one pink one. I said to the man, "do you mind if I have the pink pillow?" (It was on HIS seat, not mine.) He said, "No, please take it. I don't have much use for it." (Picture this said in a voice sounding like Hugh Grant) I slept about an hour...it was hard to sleep even with this 7 hour flight because people were walking around, getting into the overhead bins, etc. They served us continental breakfast in the AM but I wasn't too keen on it, I just enjoyed the tea, and GET THIS...British Airways makes their tea in TEAPOTS. Yes!!! Amazing. It was good, just like mine that I make at home.  So I arrived in London and had to go through security AGAIN, and this time much tighter. The security is so much tighter there because the threat level is higher than the US. At least the people were very friendly. I got to my gate area and got an absolutely AMAZING croissant from a place called Pret Manger. (Come to find out, it's Bill and Barb Kuert's favorite place at LHR as well!!! It's sooo good.) I ate my croissant, exchanged some money so I could pay to get on the internet and write to Larry. I can't believe the computers are different in the UK. So confusing. WHERE IS THE @ sign?? Where is the shift? Ughhh!! So confusing and I was "on the clock" paying for this making a zillion mistakes. With my remaining time I pulled out all my "supplies" that I brought. I had been traveling all night long and so I was able to go into the restroom with all my stuff and clean up. Like I said, my bag was stocked. Thank God for Ponds Makeup Wipes!!! 




I think my favorite beautiful moment of the day was between 5:30 - 6:30 am, coming into London, seeing the lights in the dark, and then experiencing the sunrise while flying in. BREATHTAKING!!! The trip from LHR to Nairobi is so long. I'm on it right now as I write this. It's 11 hours, this flight. Add to that my days and nights are now switched. I have gotten a whopping 1 hour sleep. I will arrive in Kenya at 9:30 their time...and be ready for bed because although days and nights are switched, I have had no sleep so I don't care anymore. On this flight, there are much fewer people although we are on another identical airbus. I have an entire row to myself. So I have lifted the armrests and acted like this is my bed at home. Ahhhh.... Most people have this much room on this flight. Lots of happy people. The service is excellent on this flight but we are having a lot of turbulence. The captain just came on and addressed it because people are a little afraid. He said it's because we are over the mountains and it is windy and it will go away in 15 minutes. So, we'll trust Him...and the Lord. :-) Right now I decided to watch the movie Hairspray. It's pretty good. They also have a channel that shows our flight path and exactly where we are all all the flight specifications. Right now as I write this we are flying over the Nile River. So far we have gone over Rome, Cairo, the Darfur Mountains, and An-Nuhud. Right at this moment we are at 37,000 feet going 559 mph. We will be THERE in 1 hour and 35 minutes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! that night... Got here on time and got in line to get my Visa. Stood in line for about 30 minutes and started talking to a girl in front of me. She is here for missions work. She lives in Lancaster, PA. I said, "My husband is from Pittsburgh and we met at VFCC." I said, "what is your name?" She said, "Hilda Stolzfoos." I said, "Oh we know of Gerry Stoolzfoos who is pastor of an A/G in Gettysburg, and we went to the same bible college." She said, 'OH MY GOSH! THAT'S MY UNCLE!!!" So she's freaking out standing there in line saying, "this is amazing! the world is really smaller than we think!!!" I said, "Yep, just think of those 7 degrees of separation." The Visa line was long but we had a great time talking and even hugged and stuff when we parted - it was like we knew each other for years or something though we had just met, and that's the beauty of the body of Christ.. Went down the baggage claim, and.........they lost it. Think about it, if I was running to my gate in Newark, do you also think the bag man or woman was doing the same thing? I think not. The truth is, they took their time and missed my flight. So, I didn't freak. Believe it or not I was really calm but felt sorry for the Kuerts because they were standing on the other side of security and couldn't do anything and this took forever. A very kind boy named Daniel helped me, who works for Airport Security. He went outside the security line and talked to the Kuerts and got all the info on how to get to their house. This is not easy as many Kenyan homes including theirs has NO ADDRESS. Barb has to draw him a map. Literally "go around this tree, then hang a left at this bush..." I mean it was crazy. We were there getting this all straightened out and I was relieved I had a change of underwear, one dress outfit, and makeup in my bag. However, I didn't have a lot of toiletries and dress shoes. Thankfully Barb gave me all the personal care items I needed that I was without, and then she demanded that British Airways buy me shoes. No problem! Tonight I am wearing Barb's PJ's to bed. We washed my clothes I wore on the plane so I can wear them tomorrow when we get back. We are going tomorrow to the orphanage and some other places. I'm staying here at the Kuerts home the first half of my time here. It's beautiful...this missionary compound is just incredible. There are 8 families living here. There is a high fence that has barbed electric wire at the top and a big gate and two guards at the gate 24 hours a day. Bars on all the windows...very tight security. I am in their guestroom which is just wonderful. So cute. Has two twin beds in blue and burgandy and little mosquito nets over the bed. I can hear all kinds of birds outside and the windows are open all the time. It's now 12 am. I texted Dustin. Hilda told me if you have cingular it's only 50 cents. Time to sleep....after much more than 26 hours with only 2 hours of sleep I am so ready. November 10 7 am... beautiful morning here in Africa. I woke up to the sound of a very loud rooster outside my window. I slept from 12:3o am til now. Ada just texted me. She's praying for the bags to come. Hey, she's my hair dresser and she knows I need my Rusk Wired hair product!!! :-) ha ha. Just kidding. Time to shower... 10 am... Barb made smoothies for breakfast from fruit trees on their property..yum! The landscape here is breathtaking. We went next door to one of the other missionaries to try and find me some temporary shoes but none fit so we are going shopping. Barb is on the phone with British Air right now demanding money for the shoes. I can hear her saying, "you can't expect this woman to wear TENNIS SHOES in the pulpit! And besides that, she needs to buy some more things than that to be fully prepared. You need to give her at least $100." The guy must be arguing back. Barb just said, "ARE YOU MARRIED? DO YOU BUY THINGS FOR YOUR WIFE? HAVE YOU SHOPPED IN WOMEN'S STORES LATELY?" Now she just said, "let me talk to the manager..." 10:30 pm ....time for bed. such a long day at the Kenya Kids orphanage for street kids. I LOVED IT! Precious children. I ate lunch with some girls, and one in particular, Samantha. Her parents both died years ago and she was left on the street until the missionaries picked her up. She was just delightful and insisted on sitting next to me as we ate our rice and beans. On the way there I saw such poverty...masses of people and animals everywhere... crazy driving, kids pushing wheelbarrows, little kids all alone, crippled peopole. You can't really describe it justly. After visiting with the Kenya Street Kids we went to the General Superintendent's home - Peter and Naomi Njiri. They wanted to meet me before the conference. We had some apple juice in their home. They are just delightful people. Then we left there and got SHOES! Beautiful pink and silver ones. Ordained by God. Compliments of British Airways!!!  I can't adequately describe the roads here. People everywhere. No rhyme or reason to traffic...just massive seas of humanity everywhere. Goats walking around. People walking in front of cars. Dust flying. We drive around in a land rover (which you have to have - all the roads are trecherous...) and Barb had to pat me on the back a few times from getting choked up with all the dust flying. These road are dirt roads, very rocky, tons of holes in them... The transportation here is an EXPERIENCE. Time to sleep...getting up early and preaching two services at Mathare Valley...the worst slum of Africa. I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 11

Woke up at 3:35 am with the rain pouring down loud. I looked out the window and it was so beautiful. Africa has slums but also such beauty!!! I stayed awake a while and read my Bible, then slept again and got up real early to head to Mathare Valley A/G. This church is pastored by Peter and Jane Nuthu, co-pastors. They have about 800 worshippers each week and it's an amazing place. It's in a slum however the people are so giving and loving and they go after God in a way like you've never seen. They treated me like gold. Such servants. They have so little yet they give SO MUCH. I was surprised the Bridge of Hope/Convoy of Hope from the USA was there today and they had their leader and a camera man filming the services...today of all days! How exciting! They are featuring the church for an upcoming project. The worship at this church is AMAZING. The worship leaders live in the slum yet you would never know by their professional demeanor as they lead and their anointing. They have all been personally mentored by the Nuthu's. Most of the leaders on the stage were very young adult kids who the Nuthu's started pastoring when they got them off the streets at 10 and 12 years old. Now they are their church leadership. I love it!!!!!!!! Jane is co-pastor of the church. I learned today that a co-pastor is called Mama Pastor. All ladies (including co-pastors) are also referred to as "Mama" followed by the name of their first born child. So here I am known as Mama Dustin. Barb Kuert is Mama Stephen. Isn't that so cute? After service we changed shoes and Pastor Jane gave us a tour of the slums. We literally went INSIDE houses. It was amazing. They let me take a zillion pictures. The people were so welcoming. It's extremely dangerous there but everyone knows Mama Pastor Jane so we were alright. We also took three young men (some of the leaders who are the college age young men) who guarded us and our land rover while we were inside the houses, which are really more like huts. When you open the car door you are immediately hit with the smell of sewage. Raw sewage is running in the streets. Kids everywhere, even little tiny ones, unsupervised, roaming around everywhere. Several ladies welcomed us into their "homes". They are about the size of six foot by six, dirt floors and a piece of tin on the roof with plastic bags as the side walls. A few bowls and things inside, maybe a broken chair but not much else. Eight people are living in some of these little tiny things. The filth is indescribable. Everywhere you turn, sewage, flies, and children running. As I came many of them put their arms out, hugged me, wanted me to take a picture (they would actually ask me...) and they seemed so happy I was there. Ladies were outside of their huts, washing their clothes in water that was not clean, as best they could. One woman goes to the dumpsters in the mornings, and she gets out the packets of condiments people leave at places, and little dinner rolls in packages people have thrown away at places where the people have a little more and she gathers them up and brings them back to their hut and this is what they eat every single day. As you can imagine I was choked up with tears much of the day. Yet these people were in church and so happy. In fact, they stayed most of the day. Their attitudes and passion were amazing. Service got out, we went to the slum houses, came back and the youth were having their own service in the sanctuary (youth that were also all in the adult services - but stayed after) and the children were putting on a concert in another room of the church. About 100 children were packed into a small room. They invited us in. They sang for us and did poems. At the end they asked Barb to come up and address them and me as well. I wasn't prepared but just flowed with it. They were so happy to have us there. I had no idea we were coming back to a program...it just happened as the day unfolded. Then Pastor Jane took us into another small room where some ladies had prepared rice, peas and cabbage for us with some apple juice. We ate with her in this room. Her husband was at another meeting also on the church property. Probably 100 children were still on the property, barefoot many of them just running around and playing. After a while I told Pastor Jane, "I have to use the restroom." She said "okay I'll have to take you." She walked me down to a room, unlocked the door for me, told me she'd wait outside for safety purposes and she locked me back in. I was shocked. What was there was a hole in the ground, a bucket of water and a small roll of toilet tissue. I wondered, "what in the world am I supposed to do with this?" But I just went with it. I had to figure it out as I went along. How do you go to the restroom in a dirt hole in the ground while dressed up? Very challenging, but when I came out of the bathroom I acted like, "no big deal, this was a piece of cake..." and just went back into the church smiling like it was the most natural thing in the world. We took some photos with the pastors and then needed to head back home. About 15 minutes into the ride home Barb says, "alright, are you okay about the bathroom?" I think she was totally amazed I didn't say anything or even flinch. I said, "Oh yeah, no problem..." She said, "I know it shocks most people at first..." Well, it did, but I was fine with it. You know, these people have to live this way every single day of their lives. If I can't do it once, what in the world is wrong with me?

6:00 PM
We came home and my luggage was laying on the bed. It arrived at 5 pm, praise God. I was able to change into fresh clothes and I hardly knew what to do with my stuff it felt amazing to have it. Bill and Barb took me out to a place in downtown Nairobi tonight that is an incredible Italian place...very upscale here. It was so incredibly good. The conversation was even better. This concludes Kenya Chronicles I. I will post again as soon as I am able. The difficult thing is, there is not much opportunity for the internet because so many people are sharing the server here and it's so slow and boots you off. Love you all and can't wait to see what God will do next! I speak to the leadership tomorrow morning at 10 am. Pray for me as I continue this journey. I will post photos when I can but due to the fact that the internet is so slow here and doesn't want to let me post or send photos it might be til' I get back to the states.




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