Today started off with what was supposed to be an hour and a half drive up into the mountain village of Murang’a and turned into more than a three hour bus trek through the tiny towns scattered along the ascending dirt roads.  Despite the worsening conditions of the roads themselves, the air got fresher and the scenery more beautiful as we got farther and farther away from the city.  Tea plantations, whose green tea plants dominate the agriculture of the mountains, create the awesome lush scenery experienced on our long drive.

When we finally got to the village after several trial and error turns and getting lost a few times the small community greeted us warmly.  Our task for the day was to create a concrete floor in a house for a family that was selected by a local pastor.  Murang’a and other mountain areas are known to have an infestation of small flea-like bugs called jiggers, which burrow into the skin of the village’s inhabitants causing a painful infection.  Last year, the Baylor Sports Ministry team was able to do a feet washing that killed the jiggers infecting people’s hands and feet.  This year we were able to execute a more permanent solution by bringing shoes to the family and making a floor that will expose the family less to the jiggers than their previous dirt flooring.  Although we weren’t able to help the whole village, we hope that by initiating a lasting solution to the problem it will open doors for future ministry.

Because we have such depth in our team and the working quarters were so small, breaks were abundant and we were able to walk up the hill to the nearby tea plantation.  One of the workers graciously showed a few of us how to pick “two leaves, one bud” then to throw them over your shoulder into the basket securely fastened to your head.  We even got to wear the neat head basket and actually harvest some Chai tea leaves.  When their baskets are full, the workers bring them to the Binding Station where the each basket is poured out onto the long tables and loaded into burlap bags approximately weighing 12 Kg each.  Then, each bag is hung from one of the more than 200 hooks of the tea truck and taken to the factory.  So next time you’re drinking Kenyan tea, think about how it may have been harvested by a Baylor student.

Later, the group was split up and half of us were taken to a local primary school.  When we drove up the road toward the school hundreds of children clad in blue uniforms came running over the hill to excitedly greet us with waves and shouts of excitement.  I have never in my life been greeted with such enthusiasm, especially from a stranger; it was like a scene from a movie.  It turns out these children and possibly some of the teachers had never seen “mzungus” (the swihili word for white people) before and they had a fearful fascination with us like one might have with a lion.  They separated into about six groups, which left 3 of us to about 50 of them.  The children would swarm with interest but keep their distance and would back away if you approached too closely.  We finally convinced them that we were harmless through the universal language of sports, it seems like everyone in this country has a passion for futbol.  Nearing the end our time at the school, the kids were running and playing happily with us and we were able to teach them some American games and they taught us some valuable lessons.  We presented them with some soccer balls and frisbees as gifts and of course explained the six basic colors on our soccer balls that represent the Christ story.  By this time the kids were comfortable not only surrounding me as we sat and listened to Brian talk about the colors but were talking to me too.  One little girl turned to me hesitantly with a finger pointing at Brian and asked, “Is that God?” No, but his long flowing hair could easily be confused with the stereotypical depiction of God.

Like everywhere else we’ve been and everyone else we’ve met, I was amazed at the strong faith of these small children.  They could recite more Biblical text than me.  I think mission trips are a two way street.  We come with the purpose of serving and teaching the people we meet about God and leave with an incredible new understand of faith that they’ve taught us.

Jennifer Gueldner

Today was a fun experience in being able to provide a more permanent solution to the jigger problem.  We were able to lay a foundation of concrete within the home of a family that had given birth to three kids with special needs.  However, these “kids” have now grown to their mid-forties, and their parents have passed away.  Due to our large numbers this year, I did not partake in the actual labor on the house (unless you count the handful of rocks I put in a wheelbarrow…you’re welcome Taylor and Troy).  And although I have an extensive background in soccer (or at least I did when I was 8 years old…), I did not go over to the school to play futbol with the kids.  So I spent my afternoon joking around with the three siblings we were pouring concrete for, being questioned by the women in the community about the size of the different states in America (thank you seventh grade Geography), and joining in on some dancing.

As we loaded up to leave, they wouldn’t let us depart without having some food they had prepared for us.  It never ceases to amaze me how these people with so little are so eager to give abundantly to their guests.  We went there to help them because they didn’t have the resources to complete the project, yet they spent the entire afternoon cooking a feast!

After we arrived back at the hotel, we had a quick team meeting in which Walter talked to us for a small while.  For those of you who don’t know Walter, he is our main contact in Kenya.  He does a lot of Sports Ministry in the Nairobi area and sets up the majority of our clinics and projects.  As Walter spoke to us, he mentioned that the people in that community talked of how they had never experienced ministry “like that” until today.  They had heard sermons about it, but had never seen Christianity lived out.

When I think of Walter, I see a man who is steadfast in his ministry.  He works with the poorest of the poor in the slums.  He sees the needy, he sees the hungry, he sees the broken.   And it’s not so much that he’s numb to the pain, but that he understands the complexity of the problems in his community, and realizes it is his job to be faithful to where he is called and approach it with hope for change.  But as he shared this information with us, it was evident that he was moved by the fact that these people, so close to his home, had never experienced an outreach of love.

John 13:35 tells us, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  Often times we don’t see the fruits of our labor, but it was a privilege to be able to hear that through one afternoon of service, God was able to demonstrate the reality of His love to a group of people for the first time.  For the first time.  What a cool way to be used.

My prayer for the last days of our trip, for us as we go back home, and for all of you reading, is that we can love Jesus.  Love Him so much that people can’t help but see something different about us.  Can’t help but feel a love that can’t be comprehended, can’t be contained.  And ultimately be drawn to Jesus Christ, the Source of it all.



4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Sam on May 24, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    what an unbelievable privilege!! keep up the phenomenal work!


  2. Posted by Amy Sauer on May 24, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Thanks to all who have shared stories from Kenya on this blog. It has been inspiring and humbling to read about what you are learning and experiencing. We continue to pray that your service will glorify God and that He will continue to teach you through the Kenyan people you meet.


  3. Posted by Jim on May 25, 2011 at 2:28 am

    Great! Thanks for sharing these vignettes, great to see God at work.


  4. Posted by Donna Biddle on May 25, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Tears just flow from your writings!
    It makes me feel such a part of your trip….:)
    Thank You!


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