Saturday’s Story

Jambo,

Today we held a basketball, volleyball, and two soccer clinics at different locations. The soccer clinic we worked at had kids that aged from 6-12 years old. A lot of them were familiar faces from the slums we went to on Thursday, and also kids from other slums and an orphanage. We set up four different stations for the kids. We had heading, shooting, dribbling and passing. We helped the kids work on their fundamentals and also helped coaches learn new drills to take back with them. To us it is amazing to see how inspired these kids are to play soccer even in the conditions they have to play in. Some of them play without shoes on, and the ground is in horrible condition. Selby and I shared a very similar experience, we worked the clinic together and connected with the same people, one boy in particular.

Karlee- When we went to the slums I met this little boy named Amster. He was the first kid I saw and the one that has had the biggest impact on me so far. Amster was at the camp today and I got a chance to work, and hang out with him again. I have learned so much from him. In a sense I have learned what the word Love really means. Amster has very little in life, and yet what he gets he gives selflessly. Today after we held our camp he asked me if I had any water. I gave him an entire bottle of water. Amster took two sips and started passing out rest until it was all gone. I gave him a t-shirt and he gave it to a boy who asked for it. I gave him bracelets and he gave them to his sisters. Even though Amster is in need, he seeks first the give to others. He doesn’t have things to take for granted. The last hour of camp Amster was a little down. I didn’t know what was wrong so before we had to leave I went to go talk to him and asked him if he was upset about something. I gave him a hung and he was crying. Amster did not want us to leave. Sometimes it is easy to doubt the effect of short-term mission trips but today I saw the effect of them. I saw how much the material things don’t matter, and how much showing Gods love can affect someone.

Selby- In the slums we had the great privilege of meeting a little boy name Amster. He has impacted my life and taught me more than anyone else has in just a span of two days of getting to spend time with him. I remember me him and Karlee bonded right away and I don’t think he let go of our hands the entire time we were in the slums. We had the opportunity to meet his family and see his home. I remember him talking about how when there was food at his house his mom liked to feed his little sisters a lot but not give him as much. Yet when we gave him lunch he saved half of it to give to his family. Anytime anything was given to him his first instinct was finding people he could share it with. So often when I receive gifts that is the last thought from my mind. For him to have basically nothing and be so willing to share is unbelievable to me. The highlight of my day today was seeing the smile on Amster’s face when we stepped off the bus. Working with him and all of the other kids was a great experience. It was difficult at times to overcome the language barrier and the age difference but it was great to spend time with the kids doing something that we both love. When we left we gave Amster some socks and water, which of course he immediately shared with all of his friends. Then when I gave him a hug goodbye he buried his head in the side of my shirt and starting crying. It broke my heart and was so touching to see someone care so much. I pray that someday down the road I have another opportunity to see Amster and that he will know what a great impact he made on my life in such a short time.

Today we were able to run hundreds of kids through all of the different sports clinics. It was an exhausting but successful day. We can’t believe it has already been a week and we’re looking forward to what all God has to teach us on the rest of this trip.

-Karlee & Selby

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Friday, Friday…

Jambo!

Alyssa already has said a bit of her perspective as a volleyball player but we thought another perspective from a soccer girl would be neat to : ) Well this morning we woke up around 4:45 and left for the streets of Nairobi to love on and feed the street kids again. We got off the bus and there were about 20 kids, their age ranging from about 10 years old to about 40 but the majority of them were children. A lot of them did not really know what their actual age was.  The smell of glue that many of them are addicted to mask the pain of their hunger was hanging in the air and they were all sitting on the ground along a wall where some of them sit and even sleep every night. We all were able to sit and talk to some of them that we had seen the Wednesday before and pray with them and remind them that we were going to play soccer with them in the city park later on. It was so sad to talk to some of them because they had such aspirations for the rest of their life but the hand that they had been dealt was so hard to over come that many of them just said that everyday they sat there, their life was wasting away.  You could really tell how much of an impact Boniface had already made on the boys just by sharing God’s word with them and letting God work in their hearts how he wants. We all just prayed for them an encouraged them to keep praying and trusting God because even though what they are going through at the moment is hard, God has an awesome plan for each and everyone of them. After we fed them we had to hurry and leave or else the police would come and run them off. So about 3 hours later we met them at the city park and we were all so excited to see how many of them actually turned up. Many of them were still inhaling the glue, but the coolest thing to see was once we started playing some of them put away their bottles or cloths that they kept their glue in so that they could play better. So for that split second we were able to take their minds off of their hunger and problems so we will take any chance we can get. After we played for a little we shared the story of our salvation with the colors on the ball and we loaded up and left. Straight from there we drove to the volleyball courts and the volleyball girls played the Kenyan National Team. Our girls did an amazing job but ended up getting loosing the girls, best 3 out of 5. After the game a couple of the girls talked and shared their testimony with the girls. Before the game was over us soccer girls had to leave early to get a head start to make it to our game at 3:00. Time isn’t nearly as important to a Kenyan as it is to most Americans, meaning when you say we will play in the afternoon it means between 2 and 4 or a little before or after. Which is actually very relaxing when everyone isn’t as stressed or worried about being somewhere on time.  Both teams warmed up and then it was game time. We were a bit skeptical about the game but  Moya F.C.  (the Kenyan team) were actually very good. They had amazing control of the ball and a very good first touch. Everyone was so focused and hard fought from both sides but luckily we ended up winning 2-1! The most amazing thing about sports and playing for God is that no matter how heated a game gets afterwards we were able to sit down one on one with the girls on the soccer team and share Christ with them. The girl I sat and talked to was an amazing woman. I have been finding every time I talk to someone they end up ministering to me more than I could ever to do for them. Her name was Alice and she was 24, we were sharing our stories but hers took me back more than I could imagine. She told me that her dad used to be a driver throughout Kenya but that he was robbed and shot by thieves. Leaving her mother and 4 younger brothers and sister by them selves. She said for them to all have a decent life they had to all move away and try to make it on their own. She told me that the only way she was able to survive was to trust in God and that he helped her more than anything else could have. Alice can now stand up on her own and know that she is worth something and now has a husband and a little boy. Alice’s faith in God and her trust she puts in him each and everyday from leading her in the game of soccer to finding her next meal is incredible. God is powerful and real and it’s crazy that we are able to show that through sports.  God is so good all the time and he has written us the greatest love story of all time for us and we are the lead roles if we choose to follow him.

Hanna Gilmore

Competition

Street Kids Clinic/Competitions

Today we went to visit the street kids again. 6 o’clock in the morning.  We have to go see them early at daybreak because the people refer to these street kids as trash and the kids usually disappear by sunlight to avoid this.  About half of them were new but there were also some returners from the past time we went.  Seeing these people living on the streets, makes me realize how much I have and take for granted back at home.  They smell of musk and glue, which they inhale to keep the pain of hunger minimal.  It’s good though, because some of them actually want to turn their lives around and became successful.  Our sports ministry team helps them by just being there to talk to them, pray for them, and help these children of the Lord to see that there is a better path through life with trust in Him.  With God, all things are possible.  We feed them milk and bread; my friend I met today’s name was Kevin.  He is 16 and aspires to go back to school and become a math teacher.  He is a good kid and when my partner and I asked if he had any prayer requests, he asked us to pray that he would stay off of drugs.  This showed me that he wanted change in his life and we let him know that Christ is the start of the way.  Later on today, we met the street kids at City Park where some played soccer and others played volleyball or sat around and talked.  That’s one thing I love about Nairobi, time, one of life values, is so flexible here.  You are not always on a timed schedule or date-by-date planed out.  Someone told me that here if you are expected to meet a friend that you see all the time, and on the way to meet them you see an old friend that you haven’t talked to in a while, that they would stop and talk to the old friend for a while to catch up and be late to meet you; I think this is a concept America is missing. It’s a nice simple change.  10 o’clock.  A lot more kids showed up to City Park than I had expected, a lot more.  Everything here is so beautiful; the trees, the buildings, the people.  Every tree seems to be blooming with flowers even though it’s winter; The buildings are not in that great of shape, but they’re interesting shapes and details make them unique; And the people; each person seems to have this spark, something that makes them kind and generous which makes everywhere we go amazing, even if we are somewhere like the slums.  I had such a great time playing volleyball with several of the street kids and my team members.  Afterwards, we past out milk to the street people and Boniface, the man that runs the street kids ministry, prayed to them and talked about the Lord’s ways.  During this time, I am deeply disturbed by the bottles of glue being pasted around by the kids and being inhaled in smallish but multiple amounts.  I guess we really can’t do anything about that though but pray to Jesus that they would find the right path.  After about 2 hours at the park, we drive to the National Sports Facility where my volleyball team and I play against the National Youth Volleyball Team.  12 o’clock.  We put up a good fight but barely lost in the 5th game (best 3 out of 5).  They were a very talented group of girls and the played great defense, which contributed to their win. After the game, Liz, one of my volleyball teammates then shared her testimony with the National Team and then we split into one on one groups and prayed for them.  Afterwards, we talked to them and found out a bit about their life and who they were.  It was a great experience for me to play against a different country and see how differently they play compared to us.  And beside all the weird and strong population smells blowing through the outside court, it was a real honor to me.  Next we go to watch the girl’s soccer team play to Kenya National Soccer League with some of their club members in there as well and they kicked butt.  Our girls won the game 2-1 and I must say I quite enjoyed watching the game and cheering them on.  That was around 2 o’clock and the day had been cloudy and kind of misty but by then it had cleared up and there was sunshine.  The soccer team did the same as us with splitting up and praying over one another and talking to each other.  By this time I’m starving and am anxious to go the hotel to eat.  Today was a great day! If there was one major lesson that I learned today it would be that no matter who you are, what you do, or where you live, God loves you and if you trust in Him, all things are possible.

A Day In the Slums

Mukuru Slum

How do I even start to talk about today? Today was indescribable, the smells, the sights, the people; everything about today was nothing less than an absolute eye opener. The Mukuru Slums hosted some of the most gracious and faith filled people that could ever live in the kind of conditions that they live in day in and day out. The people of the slums live in some of the harshest conditions that I have ever seen and to be able to grow up in that and share the love and comfort that they gave us was truly amazing to see and hear.

We began the day huddling up around a broken up, gravel-filled lot that sat in front of a “house” that was 14 foot by 10 foot give or take, and was considered a big lot to the other lots around. The worst part about these houses is not the rusty tin covering all sides of the buildings, not the mud or other substances that are considered floors, or even the glorified branches that support the frame of the house, but the fact that to live on one of these lots actually cost them 1000 U.S dollars to buy. It’s terrible. As we began, the construction crew we took off all of the rusty sheet metal that surrounded his house and put up all new metal. The best part of the job was to work along side Baba Francis and see him working harder than us in the job. Nothing they do is given to them and they work for everything they have and to work with Baba was an awesome experience in itself. When it was all said and done the experience of putting up a few pieces of sheet metal and in return them acting like you built them an entire new house put my life into a whole new perspective. The worries and concerns you think you have in your life seem to disappear when you see the amount of joy that surrounds the smiles that the people of the slums have. Everything they have in their life is cherished and never taken for granted, something that is a huge learning experience for me in my life.

After the experience I had yesterday with Boniface and the street kids, I really couldn’t imagine anything else would affect me more than that.  Man, was I proved wrong today. Our intentions for the day were to visit the Mukuru slums to rebuild a burned down house and to walk around the village to meet with and pray for some of the parents of the kids in Walter’s soccer academy.

I have seen people that are poor before. But I never experienced true poverty like I did today. This is an entire community of about half a million people that live in the worst conditions I could ever imagine. Despite the blatantly obvious poverty that these people endured everyday, they could not have been more welcoming and joyous when inviting us into their homes. What I remember most about the day was when we visited the home of a young soccer player named Isaac. His dad ushered us in with a blinding smile on his face and began to tell us a little about him and his family. As we filed out of his house, Isaacs father stopped a few of us last people to exit and sincerely apologized for not having anything to offer us. I’m thinking in my head ‘You’re crazy mister, that’s our job!’ We are the ones coming into his home to minister and share with him and he was so deeply concerned about not sharing what little material things he had. This mans unselfishness was something I saw throughout the day from everyone we saw walking through the slum. No matter how little they had, they were determined to share it with us. Talk about a humbling experience.

I found it ironic that all these people were so concerned with giving us any material thing they could spare because in reality, they gave me so much more. It is easy to share any material thing with these people being blessed as we all are. But what a greater gift it was to me to be able to witness the unyielding faith and love these kids and parents had for God despite their extreme hardships.  I am inspired to grow in my faith and develop the completely selfless love these people have for Jesus Christ

I’m so excited to connect even further with these boys this Saturday when we take it to the soccer field!

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Boniface

This morning we left the hotel at 5am to share the Gospel and feed some of the people living on the streets with our friend Boniface (who does this three times a week). This is my first time to Kenya so I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but we had quiet prayer time on the bus ride and that really helped to prepare my heart for what we were about to experience. We were told before we went that the homeless are called “trash” in Swahili, so we wanted to show them God’s love and how much we care about them. When we arrived, the men, women, and kids were sitting along the wall, and we went down the row and shook each of their hands and then sat down to get to know them. The first man I talked to, Jason, had fallen recently and there were some pretty bad scrapes on his face. Kristin is a nurse so she came over to clean the wounds and put neosporin and bandaids on him. The part that really touched me was when he told us he knows Jesus and we got to pray for his healing. He lit up when we asked him if we could pray and lay hands on him. Something that was really painful to see, even more than the fact that these people live on the streets, were the kids who sniff glue out of plastic bottles. They do it to mask their hunger and pain. One of the kids we tried to talk to had a constant glazed look and could barely comprehend anything we tried to say or ask, even in Swahili. After we finished praying for them, we passed out milk and bread, said our goodbyes, and told them we’d see them again Friday.

After getting a delicious breakfast and a nap, we headed out to Boniface’s farm to do some work. Part of Boniface’s ministry includes bringing some of the street kids back to his home to live with him and his family once they have shown that they really do want to turn their lives around and get off the streets. After we arrived, a few team members left to get supplies to build a fence and the ones who stayed at the farm split up into smaller groups to tackle different projects. Some of us picked weeds and rocks out of the large garden out front, and others washed the inside and outside of the windows of the house, trimmed bushes and raked leaves out of the garden beds by the house, and washed the floors outside the house. The guys returned with the fence materials and about fifteen people worked to build the fence and repair a gate near the entrance to the farm while the last part of the garden was cleared. It was amazing how much we were able to accomplish with so many people hard at work all day. On top of the work there was a lot of laughing, singing a wide range of songs from the last two decades, playing baseball with makeshift equipment, playing with the goats and chickens, and just a lot of great conversations! It was really cool to see how God used each of us in different ways to accomplish tasks that would have taken one family a long time and been a lot more work per person.

God taught me a lot today about gratefulness and humility, and how we are to be good stewards of our abilities and resources and use them to bring Him glory and reflect His love. It is absolutely amazing to be here in Kenya and meet so many wonderful people here. I am really excited for everything God has in store for us throughout the rest of the trip! Thank you so much for your prayers; we really appreciate it!

-Whitney McIlvain

Kizito

After two days of traveling and anticipation we were finally able to dive into a full day of mission work. And what a day it was! We spent the day at the Kizito child care facility. We were greeted in song for the second time so far in this trip (the first time being when the entire hotel staff sang a song of welcome when we rolled in on the buses at 10 pm). You don’t know what hospitality is until you have been to Kenya.

The plan was for today to be a “light” day, all we really had scheduled was for us to spend a couple of hours playing with and loving on these kids. But we are quickly learning that flexibility is the key to a successful mission trip. The fence surrounding the yard of the facility was old and falling apart. The staff told us that they had been intending to fix it for years now but their limited funds were going toward more immediate needs, like feeding the children. So as most of us played with, danced with, and got to know the kids, Wes and a few others went out and purchased some chain link, barbed wire and posts. Something that struck me as we were hanging out with the kids was the give and take of joy and love. Baylor Missions’ current definition of a mission is “People being transformed by people being transformed”. I saw this reciprocity in a big way today. We came to serve, but are getting so much more in return.

We were able to buy the supplies to rebuild an entire fence for less money than it cost to buy the supplies to make our lunches today. About three quarters of the team took the children to a nearby field to play with them while the rest of us went to work. Its amazing what can be done for comparatively little money and the effort of a few willing and able athletes. We tore down the old fence first, salvaging what we could of the wood. Then we put up posts, strung barbed wire, and put up the chain link ultimately constructing a fence that would provide these precious children with much more security than they had before. I think there were about five hammers among the 12 or so of us, a pair of pliers, a wire cutter, a machete, a shovel, and about three pairs of gloves that were circulated around to whoever’s hands were taking the hardest beating at the time. This was the first fence I have ever helped to build from the ground up, and these are by far the most welcome blisters I have ever earned.

I think we ended up spending about six or six and a half hours there, three times that which we intended. I am starting to learn that it is better to go into each day with no expectations but with an availability and attentiveness to whatever God has to show me and a willingness to serve wherever we find a need. I am so excited to see how God is planning on amplifying the rest of our plans in these next weeks the way that He did today.

Lisa Sliwinski

5/17/2011

Today was awesome. Felt SO GOOD to be back in Kenya. I’ve missed it so much. There’s something special about this place. Being here makes my heart feel so alive. And there’s nothing like the bright blue Kenyan skies…so beautiful, and the weather was nothing short of perfect today.

We were immediately greeted in song and welcomed by Juan Jovi (sp?) and his incredible staff, as they served us tea and African donuts (which one of the staff members had been up since 5am preparing for us). It was so neat to reunite with these people I had met last year—talk about servants of the Lord. Not only did they cook for us, serve us, clean our dishes, and then feed us more, they gave us their absolute best—all they had. The kitchen they used us so small and had very few supplies. The classrooms were tiny, and they had limited books and learning materials. They didn’t even have enough money to put up a new fence, yet they made sure they did everything they could to take care of us and make us feel welcome. So humbling…I just think of how many times I don’t share with others or keep things to myself, when I am living in abundance.

It makes me think of the story in the Bible when the rich people offer large amounts of offering, yet the poor widow only offers a fraction of a penny. Jesus tells his disciples, “I tell you this truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on” (Mark 12:43-44). Even when I give, I never really give to the point of sacrifice or pain, like these people, or this widow did. That takes incredible faith and seeing that today makes me want to stretch myself and reach the point of vulnerability of having to trust in God like these people do. Their faith is so strong and because of their poverty, they rely on God to provide for their every need.

That is something most, if not all of us, miss out on back in the states. We miss out on seeing what God can do because we put too much confidence into what we think we can do. We trust ourselves more than God. We think being stable financially is the most important thing, when in reality, it may be the most detrimental thing that could happen to us. I want to dare to live beyond the norm. Beyond what I’m capable of on my own. To take risks. To put my trust completely in God and be amazed at what He will do. So many of us claim to trust in God and yet never allow Him to fully take control in every facet of our lives. Is that really trust? It is a huge challenge for me to completely surrender to the Lord every day, but seeing the faith of the people here, who have so little, not only encouraged and challenged me, but also reminded me of who our God is—one who provides and cares for every need of His children who put their trust in Him.

Another truth God reminded me of today was the universal need for love. Between the language barrier and our differences in culture, there is bound to be some difficulty in interacting with Kenyan children, right? Wrong. God is bigger than that! He has designed all of His children with the same longings and desires that break through anything that may be considered a barrier. As soon as we arrived, the kids began to reach for our hands, jump on our backs, touch our hair, and feel our skin. There was not much talking going on, but smiles and signs of love and affection are enough to create bonds that last a lifetime. We played games with them all afternoon, made bracelets together, sang, laughed, danced, and shared the love of Christ with them without using many words at all. It reminds me of a quote by St. Francis “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Please tell me our God is not incredible!

It was so hard to say goodbye. The kids were so sweet and well-mannered, and like I said, bonds were formed for life. They showed as much love to us, if not more, than we showed them. I stand amazed at how God continues to humble me and change my heart by things that some may consider small, but it is the small things that God uses to show off His power and glory. And I am also thankful that He chooses to use small things because that means He is not above using me!

What a blessing it is to be back here a second year. It really is like a dream come true. Thank you to all who supported me to be able to come again, God has already done some incredible things on day one—I can’t wait to see what else He has in store for us! Thank you for all those who are praying for us, we covet your prayers and believe that God hears every one of them. We are praying for you all at home, too. We hope that you are as transformed as we are, simply by reading and hearing about our experiences here. God bless you all, we love you!

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Early morning briefing

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