Our team arrived back from Kenya Sunday afternoon. I want to write about the trip, but it’s hard to know where to start. Much of the trip is probably best captured by pictures and video (see facebook for pictures. One of our team members is working on making a video with some great footage he got during the trip). I will probably do several posts about the trip so that the entries don’t get too long. To begin, let me just say that it was an absolutely incredible trip, and I appreciate everyone’s prayers and financial support. God was faithful to protect us and the family members who stayed behind, to bless us with good health, to work in us and through us, and to bless richly our team’s time together.
Aside from the invaluable experience of being immersed in another culture that’s so different from my own, God continued working in me on trusting Him, which seems to be my lesson for the decade (maybe one of these days I’ll finally really learn). I was very nervous about teaching my session on worship at the conference, but I think it went pretty well. It was hard to know how helpful it was to the conference participants, but I enjoyed teaching, in spite of my nerves, and trust that God used it for His purpose. The moment I sat down after teaching, I thought of a sudden reminder that I wish I would have remembered before I started teaching: it’s not about me. This is something that God had begun to impress deeply on my heart about a year ago and the moment it came back to me, I realized that my anxiety about teaching meant that I was too focused on myself and too filled with pride. Once I remembered that it’s not about me, I felt like I could relax more. Even though I didn’t think about this until after I finished teaching, it was helpful to remember at other moments when I would feel myself start to get self-conscious about anything. Kind of ironic considering that in part of my session on worship, I talked about how worship helps us shift our focus off of our circumstances and on to God.
When we arrived in Kenya, we were greeted by the three college interns who had been there for 6 weeks already. It was so fun to arrive at the airport and see familiar faces from our church! Except for the first and last nights of our trip (spent at a missionary hostel/hotel in Nairobi), we spent the week camping in a remote area outside of Nairobi called Ilmamen. The drive there was beautiful and we even saw some giraffes and zebras along the way! So amazing to see these beautiful animals in the wild.
We stayed in tents at the home of a pastor and his family (wife and two sweet children). We also had with us two women who helped cook and take care of cleaning, water for bathing, etc., Erick (member of ALARM, the organization we were working with, who was with the college interns the whole time), 3 other members of ALARM, a driver, and Robert, a man who came to help set up our tents. I was nervous about the whole camping thing, and while we were definitely roughing it (we’re talking going to the bathroom in a hole, no running water or plumbing, and extremely limited electricity provided by a generator), I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. The weather was absolutely beautiful (75-80ish during the day, 50’s at night and in the mornings). One of my first and deepest impressions of Ilmamen was when I woke up the first morning to the sounds of roosters crowing, goats and sheeps bleating, people unzipping and un-velcroeing their tents, and Kenyans speaking quietly in Swahili. It was surreal.
Each day, I woke up around 6:30-6:45ish, got ready (we took turns bathing using a basin full of water that one of the women taking care of us heated and carried in a large container over to the little room where we bathed), and ate breakfast in the pastor’s house with our team. A lady named Emily did an amazing job of cooking for us and had traveled around with the college interns prior to our arrival, cooking for them nearly the whole time they were there. For breakfast, we had a sort of coffee cake, cereal (one that was a type of corn fakes and another called Wheatabix, sort of like miniwheats), mango juice, a type of biscuit (forget the name), and some mornings we had samosas (like a puffed croissant with beef inside). We also had tea available with breakfast, dinner, and two tea breaks each day. The tea was really good and had milk in it. They call it “chai,” and it is kind of like our chai tea here but a bit different.
After getting ready, some of us rode in a van and some of us walked (I walked every chance I got because it was such beautiful weather and scenery and I wanted the exercise) about a quarter of a mile to the place where the conference was held. The roads out in Ilmamen are unpaved dirt and very very bumpy. I loved seeing the trees (acacia I think?), aloe vera plants, and occasionally a couple children along the way who always stared at our white skin and often waved hello. The walk home was especially beautiful a couple times when we got to see the sun setting.
I think I’ll stop there for now and write another post laster to tell more about the conference and some other things we did. I posted some pictures that are related to what I’ve told you so far.