United Methodist Church of Livonia, NY

Kenya Update January 13

Facts, 400 Meters, and Joy

Some odd facts about Kenya:
  • You drive on the left side of the road.
  • There is no speed limit in Kenya.  Speed is controlled by speed bumps the size of Mt. Kilimanjaro.  And there are a lot of them.  On one route we took there were 87.
  • The average daily wage of a Kenyan is $1.00.
  • There is no public school system.  Private schools and academies are the only option.  And if you only make $1.00 a day tuition is out of reach.  The average boy completes 2 years of high school, the average girl gets to 8th grade.
  • The cost of sponsoring a child at In Step is $130 a month.  That includes food, housing, clothing, schooling, health care, and social workers.  It also makes it possible for In Step to employ 70 people in various roles.
  • The Chinese are building a major north to south highway in order to move oil of our Sudan to a port Mombasa.  The gives the Chinese government tremendous leverage and control.
  • Kenya is developing a strong eco tourism business due to the efforts of the National Park Rangers.  Pooching has been almost eliminated.
  • You pay to join the military.
  • The merchant class is primarily Indian who were brought in when Kenya was under British control.
  • While primarily Christian, there is a large Muslim population and they get along very well.
  • Kenya has been very supportive of the US attempts to combat terrorism in Somalia.  So much so that Kenya has been the target of retaliation.

One of the things that comes up every night in our check-in and devotion is the joy and happiness of the children.  From our perspective we can’t seem to reconcile their circumstances with their joy. Numerous times we have contrasted these children with children in the US.  We wish our children exhibited the same joy and overall happiness.

Another thing we keep commenting on is the knowledge of the Bible these kids possess. Every morning and every night the do a devotional, along with 30 minutes of Bible everyday.  They have a verse to memorize each week and a theme verse for the week.  Tonight we began to wonder if their joy and contentment is grounded in their knowledge and love of Scripture.   Their Bibles are well worn from use.  Which led one person to say these kids knowledge of the of the Bible would put most members of our church to shame. 

Our evening devotional focused on Psalm 1.
“The truly happy person doesn’t follow wicked advice, doesn’t stand on the road of sinners, and doesn’t sit with the disrespectful. Instead of doing those things, these persons love the LORD’s Instruction, and they recite God’s Instruction day and night!”

We think that is the root of the joy and contentment we see.

The dental clinic had another good day although we are still limited in how much we can do because of equipment problems.

Others taught crafts, and classes on various subjects, painted in the new girls dormitory, and led PE.  We have also conducted teacher in service training on a variety of topics.

I must admit I did not contribute much to the work today.  I spent most of the day driving to the airport about two hours away with a pastor and young woman to pick up a beautiful little girl who is deaf.  Two of the In Step staff took her to Nairobi to have her evaluated for cochlear implants.  The good news is that if all goes well she will have the procedure February 25th at the cost of $25,000 dollars.  She is a 2 years old and quite a remarkable child.  Being with her was a real joy.  She joined us for dinner and kept us highly entertained.

But in the spirit of transparency I should also mention that I met Eliud Kipchoge because a woman who grew up with him called in a personal favor.  Eliud is simply the greatest runner of all time.  He owns dozens of medals on the international stage at various distances, including World Championships and two Olympic gold medals in the marathon.  He is the current marathon world record holder and the only person to break the 2 hour barrier.  I was able to go to Eliud’s training center sponsored by Nike.  (I cannot disclose where it is.). Elite runners from all over the world come to be trained by Eliud.  He was gracious enough to give 15 minutes of his time and allow a photograph.  Later I was allowed to run 400 meters on the track.  It was a special feeling to run on a track where so many greats train, and many of the world’s best are currently there.  By the way the training center is at 8000 feet.  It was a hard 400m.  And no he did not run with me.  (Someone suggested it was because he was afraid I would beat him.)  Later this evening he called to thank us for coming to see him!  He is a remarkable athlete, but an even better person.

The other big news of the day is two of our team have malaria.  They have received the first of 3 shots and started the appropriate regime of antibiotics.  

Peace,

Hoyt W. Brown, Pastor
United Methodist Church of Livonia
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