Kenya Mission Trip 2013
by Faith Ayers
Faith, Gloria, Sue and Deb in front of the church
A Bond is Born
Having been on the Kenya mission trip in 2011, I thought I knew what to expect. Been there, done that, right? Wrong. This trip, while the same itinerary, was so strikingly different. It began with our unflappable team: Sue Muenks (the only team member, besides myself, who has been to Maua before), Tommy Stone, David Johnson, Gloria Johnson, Allyn Risley, and Van and Deb Selden. It was a joy to experience Kenya with those who had been to Kenya and/or out of the United States for the first time. I didn’t realize that we had all grown so close, so fast. By the time we had our first dinner in Maua, I felt I had known this group since the beginning of time. It was the best way to begin a week of intense and joyous ministry partnering with Zoe and The Maua Methodist Hospital in the poverty stricken vast catchment area of the hospital.
I have to say this: when we speak of extreme poverty, it certainly is extreme poverty by our western standards. Probably by anyone outside of a third world country’s standards. But what was so profoundly humbling and convicting to our team was that the people we met did not consider themselves poor. They are rich in faith and community. The first thing you know about a Mauan is that God is good and is the center of their lives. Because of God’s presence and provision for basic daily needs they are rich and for that they give all honor and glory to God. Wow. Our first lesson that, at some point in the week, made us each weep in our conviction and repentance for not doing the same. In five days’ time were blessed to see, experience, and do so much more than we thought physically possible. All because we have a God who so much bigger than our intentions, hopes, maladies, and “plans”.
Allyn with a local family
Healing the Sick
"Waiting Room" at bush clinic
We had the opportunity to provide a “bush” medical clinic in a remote rural area. We were able to see and treat 230-250 villagers in a four hour period. Each patient was tested for HIV and seen by a doctor and nursing staff who documented their age, weight, and blood pressure and diagnosed their health issues. Our team worked as the pharmacy staff under the direct supervision of the hospital doctors. We saw newborn babies up to the elderly who could barely walk. For us, the ailments they had would be considered minor, pesky, and easily treated…eye infection, ear ache, headache, joint pain, stomach bug, a cough, a cold. These things left untreated for months to a year result in the loss of sight, hearing, or even death.
Faith, Allyn, Deb and Dave prepare prescriptions at the clinic
At Maua Methodist Hospital we painted the AIDS wing and some exterior walls. This seems very simple and like “busy work” but the condition and aesthetics of the hospital grounds has a direct effect on the level of insurance reimbursement the hospital receives. They do such great work with patient care, they need every possible dime to continue to help the community.
Sue helps paint at Maua Methodist Hospital
Empowering the Orphans
Caroline (center, in blue) and her family
One of the most profound experiences was when we worked with was ZOE. ZOE is an organization that empowers orphans and vulnerable children in Africa to move from poverty to being self-sufficient. St. Luke’s supports 3 working groups of about 230 orphans. We were able to visit our working groups who were in different stages of the 3 year program. The most awesome experience was meeting our group who is in year two. They call us their partners and consider us a part of their group. Our kids are doing amazingly well in the second year of the program. When we arrived to meet them, they were having their group project day. They were all cultivating the field of one of the orphans in the group. They were in a line across the field, each child hoeing a row. This is what they do! They support and help each other just like a family. They were so excited to see their St. Luke’s family and asked us to pass on their love, appreciation, and gratitude to the congregation. They said that if we saw them a year ago, we would not recognize them. I know that you'll join with me in being so proud of them for working hard on their business plans, life skills, and getting educated on their child and human rights. I have to tell you IT WAS AWESOME TO WITNESS the difference that our generosity has made in the lives of over 200 hundred orphans. They want us to know that their lives are better forever because we believed in them and have given them the tools and a fair start at making a life for themselves and their younger siblings! They put together a beautiful celebration of millet porridge from their crops, a passionate praise song to God, and they expressed their commitment to praying for St. Luke’s UMC every day. How extraordinary.
Allyn, David, Tommy and some locals work on Caroline's house
Tommy works on Caroline's house
We were able to build a home for Caroline, a young school girl, and her ailing mother and three younger siblings. Caroline’s home was a crude four by six foot mud and straw home in which they all lived and also cooked over open flame. The home that St. Luke’s was able to build for her is a two room twenty by ten foot house with windows and locking doors. The old house can now be used as a kitchen and food storage area.
Caroline's home- before on the left and after on the right
Caroline's home just before a nice coat of green paint
A Thankful Heart
I feel safe in speaking for Sue, Tommy, Gloria, David, Allyn, Van, and Deb when I say that we will never be the same after spending a week with the people of Maua, Kenya. We realize the gifts we have that we take for granted: we have clean water to brush our teeth, we have homes that we live in that are just maybe a little more than we “need”, we have so much food that we end up throwing it out and we might have even forgotten to say a prayer of thanksgiving for it or a prayer forgiveness for wasting it. We have a clean bathroom with a toilet that flushes, we actually gripe about the 45 minute wait to see our doctor in a nice sterile room. And I hate to say it but, in time, the reality is that we might forget that we realized these things a week ago. I pray we won’t. I pray that we become more like the people of Maua. That we remember that in everything, God is good and is the center of their lives. In him we move and breathe and have our being. Because of God’s presence and provision for our basic daily needs, we are rich. And to God be all the honor and glory.
Faith plays a game with Caroline
I pray that we continue this important work in Maua. I pray that we continue to partner with ZOE so that we can empower a generation that otherwise might be lost. I think this generation can lead their community out of poverty and change the trajectory of their country’s future for the better.