Monday, August 25, 2014

Kenya, 2014: Part 1

Kenya was about a month ago already. We had some gnarly jet lag and jumped back into life here pretty quickly. I started this post, didn't have time to finish and am finally posting.

Charles, myself and 60 something other people spent July 16-28 in Kenya. We'd prepared for about 6 months and it was finally time to actually go! This was my second trip (my first was in 2007). This was Charles' first time in Africa. I am so grateful we got to do this together. So much of our dating and now married life has felt like were involved in similar or the same things but our time is divided and we're not really together in things. This was such a great experience to do together.

A little background on the trip:

We take teams comprised of people who bring special skills to run certain parts of the trip as well as people who will rotate throughout the projects. Our main projects were:

- Medical Clinic / Dental Clinic (fully operational)
- Solar lights supplied to families in the slums
- Culinary school for high school aged young ladies
- Shoes purchased by our church members and given to children at the schools in the slums
- 2,000 burgers cooked and given to the young students at Joska (the boarding school)
- Photo project taking and printing pictures for families in slums (new project led by me)
- School upgrades: building new desks and painting classrooms for schools in the slums

So, here's a little walk through some details from our trip with little captions.. More stories to come. 

Travel in Nairobi headed to the slums in the Mathare Valley - one of the poorest places in the world.

Our welcome ceremony from the kids in the main Missions of Hope school in Pangani. The joy these kids have is incredible. They are sponsored and get fed each day, medical care, education and get to know the love of Jesus from some of the most dedicated people I've seen..

Faces like this crowd you as you walk through the slums. It's amazing how much joy the get from giving you a high five or seeing their face on your camera screen.. "Pictcha, Pictcha!" (picture, picture). Older siblings (still so young) take such good care of their younger siblings. They grow up with such little possessions and so much responsibility. 

The area between two slums.. Piles of trash, goats, people passing through.. 

Walking from shanti to shanti this is what you navigate. Small spaces, flowing sewage water, and tiny little homes. 

Charles making a new friend.

I loved hearing their little voices just waiting to see you smile at them and take their picture. 

Sometimes it was nearly impossible to keep walking and leave these kiddos behind.

In the Pangani school they sell items made by people in the community - parents learning skills to provide for their family. We got to shop here and support what they do. They have a knitting business, sewing business, salon and more.

Here's one of the women in the Garment center.  They make beautiful skirts, wraps, dresses and more. It was so great to meet them and see the gratitude they have to be learning a trade that allows them to change the course of their family and their kids future.

A lot of the team got to meet their sponsor kids. We brough gifts and got to get to know them a little. It was so special to look around the room and see these kids connect with and declare their love for these people they had never really met. They have received letters from their US family and know that they are sponsored. They are so appreciative. 

A little blow up soccer ball goes a long way. I just sat back and watched these kids run, laugh and play. The simple joy is really beautiful. Something we take for granted. There isn't often open space for them to play and to see them run in a safe environment was so, so good. 

This little guy was stacking on whatever he could find. They tend to stop smiling when you take their picture because they are not used to what it means. Still, so cute!

I'll post some specific stories int he blog posts to follow.

We can't say THANK YOU enough for all the support we had in this journey. From financial support, prayer, encouragement, covering work while we were away, etc. We are very grateful.

Thanks for reading, friends.

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