Today marks the end of our Kenya mission. We were privileged, once again, to worship in the village where our most recent medical mission took place. One would think that the church would be ravished due to such a massive event but to our delight it was virtually unscathed and organized as if such chaos never took place. The team shared in responsibility during Sunday service - Doug taught Men’s Bible study, Karen taught women’s, Michael taught children’s, and I preached to the congregants.
There was one visitor in attendance who came via the medical mission. This is a beautiful picture of when the means leads to an end - one lost sheep is found and brought home! The worship leader led from her seat as the entire church sang an oldie but goodie, “I’m trading my sorrows!” The first part was in Swahili and the second in English. Unity through diversity!
I taught on 1 Corinthians 3 where the apostle Paul addresses the Corinthian church regarding division and favoritism. If there is one thing that will compromise all of our efforts this week it will be division in the body of Christ. Pastors from other churches served tirelessly all week long and I’m sure they wish these efforts would remain but, unfortunately, this is temporary. They must now build on the foundation that has been laid and trust God for the increase. Any signs of grumbling, jealousy, contention, etc. would cause a stumbling block to the unbelievers/unchurched in the village and grieve the holy spirit.
We played games with the children one last time. It was hard to wave goodbye to them but I have a feeling we will see them again. The team is tired. We all crash when we return to our lodging. We have dinner one last time and talk about final arrangements and prepare to return home. God has been good to us and through us. May the people of Kenya be blessed. Glory be to God forever!
Today begin with the usual breakfast, devotion then the trek down the dirt road to the Mwaita Bible Community Church in Cherangany. We were met with a few more people waiting but not the numbers we have seen in the past. It was kind of a surprise because a couple of the guys drove the truck around the area with the loudspeakers blasting announcing the Saturday clinic. As the day went on people did gather and by the end of the day we gave out 1000 nets and issued 1046 prescriptions.
We were a smaller crew today since the Mareks had to leave for a business trip so Karen “ran” the pharmacy, Michael handled the nets, Sean preached to the masses, and Doug played with the kids and messed with ordering more medicine. We ran short of some critical medicine so we were able to arrange to trade back some unused medicine for the much needed medicine. I think this is God at work.
We were told there was a small earthquake while Sean was preached (none of us felt it) so over the last two days while Sean preached there was a fire, torrential rains and hail and an earthquake; one has to wonder.
Today we also had a lot of kids so we put on a puppet show. I think it was as much fun for us as the kids. I am pretty sure many of them had not seen anything like that before. The best part was getting them a mosquito net and preventive medicine. Sean even held a fitness session with some of the teenagers.
We ended the day with the Uganda members of the team heading back to Mbale which is always a little sad as we won’t see them for another year. We sent the leftover medicine and glasses with them to be used in one of the Presbytery’s clinics (we didn’t really have that much medicine)
Today's theme song could be James Taylor's "I've seen fire and I've seen rain...."
This morning Michael led a good devotion about taking our mission experience home with us and how to apply that mission experience in our normal daily lives. Good discussion.
We had our first day at the third village today. We were amazed as we drove up that hardly anyone was there. (That's never happened before). We set up and people started drifting in at a slow but steady stream. (We were told that it was a farming community and the villagers would come after their chores were done). We all manned our usual posts.....
The local school children came for nets - we estimate around 300. They were listening attentively to Sean's sermon when everyone noticed a local house was on fire. The men rushed over to throw water on the flames. There was a lean-too built on the side of a house that caught fire when their cooking flames got out of control. No one was hurt and the house was not damaged which we were all grateful for.
Before we could all settle back down it started raining HARD! The rain lasted about 45 minutes and everyone took shelter in the church (with a loud tin roof) or under the tents. We thought it would never stop but finally decreased enough for us to resume operations.
The rest of the day was fortunately uneventful and we estimate that we handed out 1000 nets and filled 646 prescriptions. We ran out of pain relievers and amoxicillin toward the end of the day but were able to fill everything else.
We will go back to that church tomorrow for our last day of work.
Tonight the hotel served us a special dinner upstairs in a party room off the roof terrace. They thought tonight was our last night at the hotel (but we actually have two more nights here). David, Jana and Aidah had to leave right after the church work to go to another town so there were only 5 of us at dinner. WAY too much food but, as usual, delicious. They even set up music and had microphones for Karaoke(???) Needless to say, that didn't happen :)
Morris shared an interesting fact that in Kenya it is the law that you have to know 10 of your neighbors. We all tried counting for our respective neighborhoods and sadly fell a little short.
Onward to tomorrow. Thank you for your prayers - keep 'em coming!!
Today was the first day I could make a comparison to our Uganda trips.
We gave away 1600 nets and doctors and dentists treated 850 people.
After that, the comparison stops. Kenya has had crowds but most everyone leaves with nets and/or medicine. We handed out nets to 3 schools. We watched the kids mesmerized by Sean’s dance moves for over an hour. There were many kids with skin diseases that were treated. Many a tooth was extracted by our dentist. Eye issues were prevalent and the medicine and glasses had a huge impact.
Today saw some really poor in the area get help for free. We saw our first tantrum from a 2 year old. I had never seen any child in Africa have a tantrum. The people are happy and thankful and one older man wanted to give a special thanks to all the Americans that helped. There were a lot of sick babies and some serious and the medicine helped.
Sean preached the Gospel and had the audience listening and helping the interpreter say the words Sean was using. The people are attentive to the Word which is critical. We have been in areas that distort the Gospel and for example say the Jesus is not God but just a prophet and this is coming from Bible churches.
There were so many needing a dentist we ran out of Novocain. I find the people honest and friendly. They are thankful and gracious. There is not cutting in line or arguing. The kids are everywhere and they are all so well behaved. Kenya has a richness that is hard to describe. It is clear why God called us here.
In His Name,
Kenya Day 4
This is my first time going on a medical missions trip with the COTHA team. It has truly been a miraculous time thus far. The miracle is this - the magnitude of our mission is beyond our capacity yet Jesus keeps giving us everything we need to accomplish His will. David captured this thought during our morning devotional. He led us with words from Oswald Chambers, “Missionaries should serve from their joy in Jesus and not their idea of how things should be.” Serving with this mindset helps us focus on God’s will instead of ours.
We start at a new church today with new villagers but the same expectation for God to be glorified. Our work schedule remained the same – Jana and Karen to continue in their pharmacy roles, David and Michael work the nets, I delivered the sermon and answered questions from the crowd, and Doug served in many areas.
Today’s issues seemed to be more extreme than the previous two days. The team of doctors worked with a girl who had a severe laceration on her eye. They did as much as they could before sending her to the local doctor to receive stitches. She returned to receive her mosquito net all while sporting her new eye-patch!
The numbers were lighter than expected but nevertheless God’s will was done. Someone from a local school requested nets for the families of its students and we were happy to oblige. I’m reminded of Proverbs 16:9, “A man's mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure.” Please join us in praying that God will continue to direct our missions’ journey.
600+ nets were given out and 400 people received medical attention.
Today is Tuesday and its day two of our Kenya mission. Jana led us in our daily devotion. One of the discussion points was the appreciation of the Kenya people to be organized, patient, and very polite. At some of our locations in the past we did not witness this positive attitude toward others. We truly are blessed to be helping this village. On Wednesday we will be traveling to a different church so it will be interesting to see if this patient attitude is more widespread than just this village. We were in the bus headed back to the village church by 8:30 am.
Once again upon arrival everyone was quietly seated outside the church, the children were relaxed, and we were greeted once again with smiling faces. As we have stated previously, Pastor Timothy is the pastor of this church. He is a wonderful man with a wife and three young children including one set of twins. Timothy’s church is in need of expansion as the church is using his modest home as its office. With three young children in the home this certainly is not the optimum situation. Timothy and his congregation have been praying for a building extension which will become the new church office. Please keep Pastor Timothy and his vibrant church in your prayers.
Our work schedule today was for Jana and Karen to continue in their pharmacy roles, David and Michael work the nets, Sean to deliver the sermon and work the prayer needs, and Doug to do assist with all of the above as needed. That’s pretty much how our day went however David took some time and captured photos of a LOT of kids. Those images will be coming when he gets to a place where he can download them.
One of the best and worst moments of the day occurred in the morning when three women carried a young girl of about 10 years old to the front step of the church. The girl has been having seizures for most of her life that come on without notice and last a day or two before subsiding. Sean and Pastor Frank prayed for the young girl and her family at length and were joined by Doug and David. Sean and Pastor Frank led the three adult ladies in the prayer to accept Christ. Praise God. It was decided that the girl needed to get to higher level care in Nairobi and plans were being put into motion for that to happen. Please pray with us that these three ladies will work with Pastor Timothy so that she can receive the care she needs to lead a fruitful life. Once her treatment options are evaluated the Cotha missions group will develop a plan to support her with her health issues.
Today 1,050 nets were handed out and 820 people received medical attention.
Our God is an awesome God!
JAMBO from Kitali Kenya!
Today is the first day of our actual mission trip. We were out of the hotel by 9 am for our one hour drive to the church. Upon arrival there were about 1,000 people sitting quietly under the tents with those just arriving being registered at the makeshift front desk.
The first station is the HIV station where anyone wishing to have a blood test can have one performed on the spot. There is also HIV counselling available in the event of a negative (HIV positive) outcome.
Upon entering the church the first station is the dentist. New this year is that the dentist have some “deadening” medications. Yes, in years past anyone seeing the dentist did so without the benefit of deadening medications…..OUCH!
The next stop is the ophthalmologist. It’s interesting to watch the interaction between patient and doctor. At first the doctor points to the chart on the wall and if the patient can’t see even the largest print he begins walking toward the patient holding up different fingers. For one elderly gentleman he got up to within 5 feet of the patient and he could not differentiate between one finger or two! Unfortunately the only glasses we have are various levels of readers which range from 1.75 strength to 2.5 strength. The doctor is also equipped to handle minor eye infections which he treats with eye drops.
Moving on we come to 6 doctor stations lined up along the walls with screens to provide some privacy to the patients. The reviewing process was extremely slow today as the Kenyan doctors were quite thorough in their evaluations.
The next station is the dispensary with Karen and Jana being the designated pill counters. They bag up the medications into small bags which allows the pharmacist to deal exclusively with the medicine requests. Next to the pill stuffers are the pharmacist who fill the prescriptions.
Last but not least is the net station manned alternately by Michael, David and Doug.
In total our little band of merry missioners saw 979 patients and handed out 775 mosquito nets. Not a bad days work.
While the medical mission was taking place we were also doing the praying and evangelizing. Sean stepped up to the plate and gave powerful messages about salvation through Christ. He also held his own dance party with a lot of Watotoes (little children). Later Sean and David double-teamed the prayer station and heard all manner of issues from demons in lives to a daughter that is not paying attention to her mother. The dominate requests were for aches and pains from a life that is too hard and too stressful. We had one lady accept Christ during our prayer session. Praise God!
Sean and Michael entertained the Watotoes with a new game for them called Duck, Duck, Goose. Of course they had to demonstrate how to play it with Sean chasing Michael around a circle of 20 Watotoes. Don’t worry Trish, Michael survived.
Back at the hotel by 6 pm, dinner at 7pm, and then up again tomorrow at 6:30 am, we continue on our path. Pray for us. Some of the medical issues we encounter are just too much. Like a 4 year old child we prayed over who was born paralyzed.
So we go forth, in God’s name. Amen.
Sunday September 4
Today is Sunday, the day of our first blog since all the real events to date happened today. Thursday Night and Friday were flying from Houston to Nairobi by way of London with a 3-hour layover. On Saturday morning we hit the road for a 9-hour drive from Nairobi to Kitale, Kenya. Kitale is northwest from Nairobi just on the other side of Mt Elgon from Mbale, Uganda where we have based our previous mission over the prior 7 years. Morris and Aida met us at the airport. This year I had to pay a custom duty of $55 for the first time in 7 years. More of a hassle than a problem. Of course we did have 4 suitcases of eyeglasses, medicine, Bibles and toothbrushes.
So much for the mundane news. Sunday brought us a chance to go to Church at the Church we will do medical mission with on Monday and Tuesday. Karen and Gana taught the women Bible study, David and Michael taught the children and Sean and Doug taught the men’s class. The classes all went well. The big event was Sean preaching. He did a great job preaching on Acts 8; the art of discipleship. He really challenged all of us to be the Phillip to the eunuch. Sorry folks you will have to look that verse up.
The pastor of the church hosted a lunch for us then we were back to town to relax a little and to go buy medicine for the Monday. The pharmacy is located in heart of Kitale’s open air vegetable market. Of course this part really went slow and the process needed some work. Some 3 hours after we showed up at the Pharmacy we returned back to the hotel with 16 boxes in tow and $2000 spent. Thanks to every one for helping make the medical outreach possible. Tomorrow we start at 8 am and travel to Pastor Timothy’s church.
Grace and Peace
You may have noticed that there is a lot of activity around COTHA lately. The construction of the new roof just began and summer is drawing to a close. While a new roof doesn’t happen every year, a launch of a new program year does! This year we are starting with a couple of exciting opportunities which will help us all connect to God and one another!
As the new school year has begun, we are focusing on helping all parents to know what it means that COTHA is “Orange” and inviting all of our parents to become “Orange Parents.” Orange simply means we assist parents who bring the heart of the family (represented by red) to the bright yellow of God at Church (represented by yellow) and help each family to grow closer to God. We recognize that spiritual training is the responsibility of the parents but we are committed to walking with each family and assisting them in this journey. During September, the COTHA Family Ministry is committed to educating and empowering parents in this journey. Click here for a sneak peek.
Not all of us at COTHA have children living at home but all of us have a need to get connected to God and to one another. Our COTHA 30 initiative has begun to help everyone know of the need to get connected. Small groups have always been an essential part of our life at COTHA and COTHA 30 is seeking thirty more people who are not part of a small group to try one out. These new groups are a great to try small groups out and to see if it is true that life lived better when you are connected! Become one of COTHA's 30—Be Super! Our other small groups continue to meet but COTHA 30 has a goal to connect at least thirty new people at COTHA. I challenge you to take a risk and see if your life is enhanced when you connect with others!
So what's the #30SuperStart hashtag? We'd love to see your pictures of you starting the school year off Orange or COTHA 30 - it's always a good thing to celebrate new beginnings and hashtags make it easy to spot!
I am excited as our new program year begins and look forward to what God is doing in our midst! Again, I invite you to become an Orange Parent and one of COTHA’s 30- Be Super!
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