I'll begin by saying God is amazing! We got to start off our day by visiting a child headed home in the outskirts of Kericho. We were eagerly greeted by a young lady named Mercy. She was about 25 years old and was in charge of her household. Her parents both past away ten years ago so she has been helping her seven siblings since. Despite her hardships she puts all of her trust in God and has faith that he will provide for their every need. It was a humbling experience to see where she lives and to hear her story. Next, we went to spend time with the Kaparuso widows and caregivers. They graciously welcomed us with song and dance. Then continued to present Karen and I with shukas which are traditional skirts that are tied around the waist.
After a brief introduction we headed to their local church to have a chance to share quick testimonies and to hear their stories. All of them had children of their own ranging in ages from babies to grown, married, and moved out. As each one stood to share their experiences I was in awe of how much love and compassion they had for one another.
They shared their past hardships and the difficulties they were facing now. I couldn?t even begin to understand what the go though day-to-day. I was truly inspired by the caregivers. All of them had families of their own some even exceeding eight children and lived in extreme poverty, but were still providing for orphans needing homes.
Today we had a Youth Leadership Training, and it went so much better than the ones we held in the past! We arrived at 11 realizing that it would not start until after we planned, which was at nine. Arriving two hours late happened to be perfect timing, who would have thought?!
Laura and I will never get used to the extremely flexible time here, it is such a difference from the lives we lead at home. The youth leaders who showed up ranged from age 18 to about 30, meaning the group was more willing to talk and were more interested in the lives of those they were leading. Laura began the training with an exposition of 1 Timothy, and Sam followed with training of Christian leader disciplines. During both jokes were made, laughing was heard, and little by little the audience of about 25 became more comfortable.
Today we had the opportunity to hold a youth leadership training at Kapsaos African Gospel Church. We arrived around 9:30 to learn that nobody had showed up yet. It didn?t cause great concern at first because African time isn't as prompt as we are used to in America.
Finally around 11:30 we were surrounded by about 30 youth and 20 children. Our curriculum was prepared for youth, so we had to come up with a way to entertain 20 children off the top of our head. Karen and I took the students 13 and younger outside for some games and story telling. We quickly realized that communicating to the children was going to be a problem. Out of the 20 children we had about 3 that knew English. Pastor Philimon translated for us at the beginning so we explained the meaning of the colors in the faith bracelet. Then, we proceeded to teach them the song "Your Mercy is Falling". After a while, they started to catch on to the words, so we continued to teach them the movements. They loved singing and dancing and it was a fun time for us to spend time with the beautiful children in Kericho.
Today was supposed to be a day of rest…but who needs rest when you're in Africa doing the Lord's work?! We left the house around 10 to head out for the Momul Tea Factory about an hour away from Kericho. The drive was beautiful as always, green painted across rolling hills for miles past what the eye can see. Upon arriving we had a guide show us the process in which tea comes from the plants we drove past outside to in our kitchens all the way in America. First it was a matter of reducing the moisture in the leaves, something that takes hours. They would then head to be finely cut and fermented. Following this they were to be dried and bagged. We then had the opportunity to try all the different grades of tea made by the factory, a technique needing to be taught by a pro!
Today was a very easy going, pressure free day! We had a leisurely breakfast and strolled out to Kenya Highlands Bible College. The campus was beautiful, filled with trees and plants of all kinds. First off we entered their small chapel for a 1145 service. Singing surrounded the standing people as a woman stood to talk. Guests were there, missionaries from Uganda, who were there to speak for their "missions week." They spoke on our call to go to the nations of the world and everyone was encompassed with his sermon. Through question asking we learned the school had roughly 300 students, and Sam's father attended this school before coming to the United States. After the service we had the opportunity to eat lunch with the students.Honestly conversation with these women was very difficult due to a possible language barrier and the issue of them being shy. Follow this we had a brief meeting with the schools Student Association Leadership, consisting only of introductions and dialogue of a possible future training session there.
In writing my last entry I feel a bit weird about today. One day I am so sure God wants me here, and the next I have the hardest time that makes me question why I am here now. Around 930 we left for town to pick up some supplies needed for the day at a Widows and Orphans organization. Arriving at 1130 the Widows and very few of their children (due to school) greeted us with a drum and singing. Through a cornfield we headed to a central location that this group meets. The sun felt as though it was blistering our skin, so halfway through the meeting we changed locations. All women's husbands had died, and most had four or more children (up to 11 kids I believe was the highest). They shared a bit of their story (25 women in all), and the we had the chance to give some encouragement. I told of the lessons I had learned from my parents about how we would be just fine in time if we were to lose them, for our hope should be found in God and not them. I also shared one of my favorite verses- James 1:12.
Today we went to two schools, one primary and one secondary girls boarding school. We woke up at eight, down stairs at nine and of course were late in getting to the school, Keranga. Located in the heart of the tea plantations, "pluckers" were surrounding us as we drove in. Day by day these workers do hard labor filling bags that one day will be shipped to our very kitchens. What an experience it is to see thousands of acres of tea plants here being picked for almost no money. Many times women are seen picking as their child is strapped onto their back for the ride, what real women these are to do work such as that to support their family. Inspiring. The plantations Peter was driving us to were actually owned by Lipton Tea…thinking about that tea on our Wal-mart shelves it humbles me to know the actual work that went into those simple bags. Arriving at the school our white skin drew the typical giggling crowd of children.
Today was a day of miscommunication. We woke up at seven, had our morning devotion and singing time. This morning my mood was down due to a great feeling of homesick. Normally I am to lead the songs, but I would not have it. At breakfast I realized the reason, I had had a dream about home and was longing to be there. We arrived at the church at 930 (when it was to start at 9) and came to find no one there. After Jonah arrived we found out that the group we were having the training for thought it was to be next Monday, not this Monday. We had three youth leaders, Immanuel, Edmund, and Philip, come and so Erick lead an impromptu session on the needs of the youth and how they were to respond to those. Our team learned much about Kenyan youth, including that the parents give them extremely limited freedom until they go to college, that sex is a taboo subject never to be discussed so any information is heard through the grapevine. This fact startled me, how do they learn what is right and how do girls learn of puberty- the answer? They don’t. Awful.