United Methodist Church of Livonia, NY

Kenya Update January 11

Pipe Cleaners, Power, and Joy

I was reminded today of our trip to Puerto Rico.  On our first day the mission guide gave us pipe cleaners and told us to make something from them.  We twisted and bent them into shapes as unique as we were.  And then she told us that we were to be pipe cleaners…flexible.  She said flexibility is one of most important characteristics we can have while on a mission trip.

Flexibility was needed today.  Not much went as planned.  We lost power for much of the day and you guessed it, the back up generator did not work. That meant that the dental ministry was put on hold.  As each hour passed we were very aware of the missed opportunities to serve the kids.  Plan A became plan B and then became plan C.

Further, today was to be the big celebration of the new computer system ARES donated by Rotary International.  ARES stands for African Ruggedized Educational System.  ARES is a unique educational package utilizing a computer driven system of educational material not dependent on the internet.  Included on each server (one would fit in the palm of your hand) is the equivalent of 50,000 books, hundreds of graded lesson plans ranging from language, physics, chemistry, math and so much more.  All tailored to the unique needs of Africa.  It is a truly incredible education initiative.  In addition to the servers, In Step received over 100 laptops, 8 digital projectors and a smart board.  In Step has some state of the art educational equipment now. Did I mention that the power went out?  So much for the demonstration of this amazing equipment to the local dignitaries.  

But the ceremony went forward and we were impressed by the many things the children did.  They recited poetry, sang songs (including “Oceans” by Hillsong United) and traditional dance.  Even more impressive was the behavior of the children.  In 87 degree heat the children were attentive and quiet during almost 1.5 hours of speeches.

Late in the day power did come back and the dental team was able to offer services to 10 kids.  And rather than focusing on the those we were not able to serve we took joy in being able to serve 10.

When the power returned some of us went to the new computer lab and set everything up for tomorrow taking us to 8:30 pm.  We charged, and set up each laptop to automatically sign into the ARES system.  So tomorrow when the teachers come in they will find everything ready to go.  Funny thing is, none of us knew a thing about ARES before we came.  Now some of us are considered experts.

When we returned to the bunkhouse tired, hot, and smelly we found out the water system was down.  No showers!  

As we gathered to process the day the interesting thing is none of us saw it as a failure.  All we could really focus on were the smiles and the joy of these children.  Leading us to ask what is it that makes them so joyful?  I am sure there is a lesson there to be learned.  

Flexibility. Yep, absolutely essential when you are participating with God in mission.  You never know what you will be called upon to do and under what conditions.  I am thinking of Moses tonight.  He had a lot of reasons why he could not do what God asked him to do.  Even as he went along things did not go according to plan.  Yet, the truth is, he was never promised it would go smoothly or always be to his liking.

One thing that has become acutely clear to us is that Carla and Jeff need someone to help maintain the property.  The job is getting to be more than Jeff can manage alone.  Pray that God provides a jack of all trades to help them in their ministry.

Hoyt W, Brown, Pastor
 United Methodist Church of Livonia

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