Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Report 10:Leaving Kenya, February 18-19

Our last morning at the orphanage. Bro. Peter and Sis. Roda presented us with wraps and we all tried them on.

We walked through the classrooms one last time while waiting on our Nissan van to arrive. The children carried our luggage on their heads down the 1/4 mile trail from Bro. Peter's house.

Matthew stayed for one more day's work. We left about 11 o'clock. We stopped at this restaurant for some grilled chicken and chips.

We got a hotel in Nairobi and Matthew joined us around 3 o'clock in the morning after a grueling ride on public transport.

On Saturday our flight didn't depart until 11 p.m. so we visited a local elephant orphanage where elephants that have lost their parents to poachers are raised and reintroduced to the wild at a later age.

We also visited a giraffe sanctuary and fed them from a balcony.

We ate one last meal in Kenya.

The last few hours we did a little shopping for curios. We were tired when we headed to the airport. We flew from Nairobi to Amsterdam.
We took a train into Amsterdam and took a canal tour before returning to make our flights to the states. This was our last picture as a group before parting ways with Matthew and LouCinda.

We had such a blessed time together. We worked and we played together. We laughed about some things and cried about some things. We prayed and sang together. God was very  near and we were drawn together by His Presence. The bonds of fellowship are closer than that of family and that is how we parted--a family with a common experience, burden and love for the dear people in Kenya.

A part of our heart remains there. Now we are at home and we think of the things we wish we could have done. We pray that God will germinate the seeds sown and help us know how to make the difference, how to be the difference on this earth that He calls us to be.

The voice of God is still calling. Do you hear that still, small voice today?
Do not hesitate to follow wherever it leads.
You will never, ever be sorry that you did.

I will leave you with a hauntingly beautiful song that the children of Kenya sang to us.

It is entitled, "Who Am I To Say No?"
The account of God calling Pharaoh to appear before Moses.

Report 9: Tanzania Part 2, February 15-16

Tuesday morning we rose and prepared for the day. Michael was not feeling very well and lay back down until the time we would have to leave.

I took the opportunity to walk down the road outside. I knew Lake Victoria was very near. I did feel like a spectacle as people stared. I greeted them in Swahili by saying 'Jambo Sana' which is Hello.

The lake which was beautiful. I didn't stay long but returned to the room. The taxi didn't show up to take us back to the chapel so we walked the 20 minutes with Bro. Peter.
Bro. Stephano met us partway and carried Michael's bag.

In Tanzania, we found the people to be very prompt. Breakfast was served when planned and we were able to start services at 10.

Michael was still feeling unwell after the long walk. He broke out in a cold sweat and at first was too weak to stand on his feet. He didn't want me to alarm Bro. Peter, but he had already become aware. We had a season of prayer and the Lord gave Michael a touch enough to get up and go out to the group awaiting.

Michael started right in with studies. Topics covered today included:

The Fall of Man
Law of Moses
Eating of Meats
Smoking (someone brought this up as a question)
Monotheism-One God resulting in One Faith which results in One Church, the Church of God
True Worship

He moved right through from one subject to another, leaving time for questions and at times having a 10 minute break. Teachings were largely scripture and the ministers took notes faithfully. Michael encouraged them to be as the Bereans and to search the scriptures to see if it were so. I was so inspired by the truth of God's Word.

In the study on True Worship he brought out the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Elijah made somewhat light of the prophets of Baal in their fleshly worship. Is your God on a journey? Michael made the correlation to fleshly dancing that appeals to the flesh. Are we shouting and dancing to get God's attention? Are we trying to imitate the discos to bring people in to our churches? The scripture says, "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord." Does a guitar or keyboard have breath? Jesus said that the time was coming and indeed now is that true worshipers will worship in Spirit and Truth. The Father is still seeking those kind of worshipers. So if we are truly seeking to worship God, let us do it as He desires, with our spirits and in truth.

They seemed to understand this teaching and we never heard the loud music or dancing any more while we were there.
At lunch time we were served beans and rice and goat meat along with Ugali for Bro. Peter. Michael discovered right away that they had saved the delicacy of the liver for their guests. I like liver so between us we got along quite nicely.

During the break, I took out a boomerang I had brought for the children to play with. They found it curious that when they threw it that it returned to them.

When I walked back to the chapel, I noticed the women cleaning up from dinner. I brought out a gift Sis. Tricia Bell had supplied me with.

Pampered Chef scrapers.
They were perfect for scraping the pots of the starchy staple foods they cook every day.

Michael handed out sweets to the children.
Before the afternoon session, we passed out the literature and Bibles we had brought.
This is a beautiful piece of property nearby that is for sale. It would make a wonderful area to build a larger church or tabernacle for campmeetings.

In the afternoon, dark clouds and strong winds brought a close to the services. We were meeting outside under tarps, so we had no protection from a rainstorm. We returned to our guest room.

In the evening, the weather settled down. Michael and I took a walk along Lake Victoria amid a light mist.
It is so vast that the people call it the Sea.

Resting on a fishing boat.

Little fish drying in the sand. These are sold in the market.

We returned to our room for the night. The next morning we again walked to Bro. Stephano's home and the adjoining chapel.

We were served a beautiful breakfast of Chai tea, fresh pineapple, roasted ground nuts (peanuts) and Big Bread (tastes like a potato bread, very moist and sweet).

Lessons began this morning on the following topics:
Holy Spirit
False Spirit of Tongues
Was the Devil in Heaven

There was a wonderful lesson on the Holy Spirit and the work He does in the heart. This was followed by discussion on the false doctrine of the manifestation of tongues. It brought on lively discussion from a few of the ministers.

When we broke for a few minutes, they gathered around to continue discussion. Michael pointed them back to scripture and told them we must follow the pattern laid down in Acts concerning the work of the Holy Spirit. Religious spirits have done great damage to the cause of God. People seek an outward sign, but the Holy Spirit came to do a work in the heart.

Another topic of interest was the Devil being in Heaven. Michael urged them to give him one scripture to prove that Satan inhabited the Celestial heavens with God. In each reference, he pointed out who the scripture was referring to: Nebuchadnezzer in one location, the Prince of Tyre in another. Once again, Michael assured them that when you eat new food it takes time to digest it. He encouraged them to study their Bibles and allow the Holy Spirit to witness to them the truth of God's Word.

The lessons were concluded by 1:30 as the ministers had a distance to travel. In closing, several ministers stood and testified to the challenge and encouragement the meeting had been to them. We pray that God will raise up a people in Tanzania that is willing to turn from the religions of man and follow the Living God. We left funds for Bro. Stephano to put iron sheeting on the roof of the chapel in place of the thatched roof he now has.

The women all came to the front and greeted me.

Bro. Stephano's wife presented me with a traditional wrap as a parting gift.

Since there was time to get back before dark, we left and traveled back to the orphanage. It was good to see our group again and we enjoyed our last night in Bro. Peter and Sis. Roda's home, eating and swapping stories of the past few days. Bro. Peter expressed some very kind words of appreciation for the sacrifices and expenses we had expended in making the trip. We spent our last night in the village so thankful for God's blessings and incredulous that our time had so quickly come to a close.

Report 8: Tanzania Part 1, February 14

On Monday, Bro. Peter, Michael and myself left for meetings in Tanzania. We took a taxi to the border. There we purchased visas for the steep cost of $100 per US citizen. We then hired another car in Tanzania to take us to Bro. Stephano's congregation.

Tanzania is quite a bit different from Kenya. The government is more socialistic. All property is owned by the government and there is a much more visible and stern police presence. The people are affected by this and tend to be more suspicious than open. The ones we personally spent time with however were very open and welcoming.

The terrain was a bit mountainous with huge boulders that reminded me of areas in the US. We drove along the border of the Serengeti and even passed the entrance of the National Park. the plains were dotted with picturesque, thorny acacia trees. We saw a few wildebeestes and babboons. The police will fine you if they see you taking pictures. They want people to pay to enter the parks for photos.

The drive took about 4 hours. I found myself nodding off at times. The schedule has been so full every day that it was starting to tell on us. Michael was having some difficulties too as a result. Sometimes at night he could not sleep well with his back bothering him and causing some jerking. We were thankful for the foam mattress, but you had to work to find a comfortable position with the wooden cross-supports poking into your back.

Michael had a very bad headache that had been progressing throughout the day. It made of us think of the trip almost exactly a year ago. Michael's illness had begun with a horrible headache that grew progressively worse. We prayed for the Lord to give Him a touch and rebuke the enemy that was trying to hinder the Gospel being brought to this area in Tanzania.

I noticed many rice paddies along the road. Some were in use, others dry. In Tanzania, rice is the staple food, not maize. The government owns the land, but if you are industrious you may work any plot you find untaken and cultivate it.

At last we arrived at the chapel. The congregation was assembled and conducting service. We were ushered into a small room in Bro. Stephano's home to rest and refresh ourselves. They asked Michael if he would have a message for us. He asked for five minutes before we rejoined the service.

There were about 50 ministers and gospel workers in attendance from 15 congregations. Many children and local women gathered under a tree just outside the tarpoulined area that the ministers sat beneath to listen in on the services. One woman would have a long stick and use it to keep the children in line.

The African saints greet their worship with joy and enthusiasm. There is often much clapping and foot stomping and sometimes even a simple footstep in group singing that helps keep time.

I was in for a new experience here in Tanzania. When we rejoined the service, there was a group playing loud music and dancing to the singing. I felt a foreign, religious spirit at work that made me very uncomfortable. It gave me a new perspective of missionary work and what it is to take the truth into places where there is direct opposition of the enemy and His spirits. This is a new work and most have never been exposed to Bible Donctrines.

Michael greeted the group and expressed his love to them. In his introduction he told them, "I did not come to Tanzania to be popular. I did not come to bring you a white man's words. What I say about something doesn't matter. What you say about something doesn't matter. I do not have a heaven to give to you. I preach to you Jesus Christ and I come to bring you God's Word. God's Word is the final authority on every thing that touches our lives. When we understand His Word it brings light and understanding and brings accountability."

He preached a short message entitled "What Road are you On?" The illustration was that if you are going toward Tanzania, you can't say that you are on the road to Mwanza (a town in the opposite direction). Many in the world are saying "I am going to Heaven", but they are on the road that leads to Hell.  After the message about 14 came forward to pray.

After service, we were taken back into the interior room and a meal was served. The beans and rice tasted very filling after crackers, beef jerky and bottled water in the taxi. A woman came into the room and bowed low before pouring warm water over our hands into a basin to wash. After the meal we were taken by taxi to the guest house where we would stay.

Interestingly enough, we were led to the very room Michael slept in last year that one long night when he was so ill. It was a strange feeling to be in the very spot where he was while I was at home thousands of miles away calling Michael Gellenbeck through the night for updates.

Curiously, when the matron saw me she returned and told us that we should stay in the guest rooms across the road because this area was used as a disco in the evenings and would not be suitable. Michael didn't know that they had placed him in a house of ill repute last year! We were thankful to have been moved because the loud beat and noise continued long into the night. The rooms had mosquitoes flying around in them so we sent to town for some mosquito spray and fogged both our and Bro. Peter's room.

This is a picture of our tent set up. This bed was much larger than the single mattress we had been using. The nice thing about this type of mosquito net is that when you get in and zip it closed you are secure from all manner of bugs that could get into your bed.

In the bathroom there was running water and this is the standard bathroom in places that have a public restroom. We also had a bare bulb in the room which was lit for a few hours in the evening when they would run the generator.

We were very weary and spent the evening preparing our hearts and minds for the meetings of the following day.

Report 7: Working in the School

Nicole, Ranelle, and LouCinda spend Monday through Wednesday largely at the orphanage. School was in session and they were give free reign to work in the classes. Since construction was making use of some of the classrooms they had to be relocated in the courtyard which was sectioned off by large grass mats.

Ranelle is teaching a math lesson from government curriculum.

Nicole prepared a lesson on the Creation and incorporated the alphabet by having each child create an alphabet book of things God created.

LouCinda and Ranelle conducted a geography lesson. The orphans are completing an assignment to write out the names of the seven continents on the dirt using stones, sticks, grass or anything outside they could find.

LouCinda had taken students to harvest corn before our arrival. They used the dried husks to form cornhusk people.

Early one, Ranelle taught the chidlren to play volleyball with no net.
By the end, the teachers had set up poles and woven themselves a net from twine. The children loved it.

This is one of the few classrooms that still remained with dirt floor and walls. It has been covered with plaster since we left.

Imagine never having been to a library and never having had a book to read other than a textbook. When I heard that Bro. Peter worked to have one book for the school's use, books became a priority to me. We brought as many books as we had weight for to start a library. LouCinda gave a lesson on book care and taught them the different parts of a story and what makes up a book.
This is Nicole's lesson on Connectivity. A ball of yarn was tossed from person to person creating a web. The thrower had to make a verbal compliment to the person they threw it to. Once the web was created, one person was asked to pull on their string and they discussed the effect that it had on everyone else. The parallel is that our words and actions have far reaching effects. We touch the lives of all those around us and we can make a difference.

This is the flagpole assembly at the end of the day for announcements.

 Students that do not live at the orphanage return home at the conclusion.
On Wednesday the students took exams. LouCinda is passing out treats to children who received a passing grade.