United Methodist Church of Livonia, NY

Kenya Update January 16

Elephant Skull, 12,000 feet, It's A God Thing


You did not hear from me on Saturday.  I decided that yesterday was my day of rest.  Our group went to Mt. Elgion National Park.  Kenya’s national park system is very young, having started in 1968.  At the park some of our folks stayed in the rain forest climate region of the mountain.  In that area they visited a waterfall and an amazing cave - the Elephant Cave.  It is actually a cave that elephants dug in search of salt.  The cave at this point extends about 200 meters.  In the cave they found an elephant skull and were greeted by hundreds of bats.  Many in the group were excited to identify birds - at this point 23 different birds have been identified by our group.  While in the rainforest region they saw zebras, water buffalo, water bucks, bush bucks, monkeys and baboons.   The also linked hands and tried to wrap themselves around the trunk of a 500 year old tree that is the oldest in the park!

The other group chose to climb the mountain.  Four of us were accompanied by two 8th grade boys whose names were drawn from a hat.  Our guides were named Silas and Ambrose.  We had light rain all day accompanied by some heavier rain.  At the highest elevation we even had sleet.  Our journey up the mountain took us from the rain forest, through the Savanna, and then the Alpine region above the tree line.  Personally it was some of the toughest hiking I have ever done.  The trails at Mt. Elgion do not compare with the trails in our national park system.  At 12,000 feet one of the boys and I decided we could not go any further and Ambrose led us back.  A short time later another boy and adult made the same decision.  In the end only one person out of our six made it to the summit with Silas.  In addition to the animals listed above we saw hyenas, dikdik, and a black leopard.

The ride to and from the park was brutal.  For the most part of our 2.5 hour drive we were on undeveloped roads.  We were tossed all over the vans.  While we enjoyed our adventures, we were glad to be out of the vans.

We were all so tired that we decided not to do a devotional so we could go to bed without delay.  However, I did ask everyone to read Psalm 19 before bed (Look it up) and to reflect on the Psalm and our experiences of the day.

Today, Sunday, was dedicated to church.  Pastor Samuel blessed me by asking earlier in the week if I would teach at the services.  I taught at 4 services.  I arrived having prepared to teach on a particular set of verses I was given, only to find out before the service they were the wrong ones!  I had about 5 minutes to come up with a new outline for the correct verses.  God was truly with me and I was able to craft a message in a short period of time.  How what I had to say and how it fit together with the service was truly a God thing.  I won't tell you what I preached on, but you will hear it in the near future.  Not everyone attended all four services.

My friends, what we experienced in worship was remarkable and inspiring.   There was singing, a lot of it, testimonies, reciting scripture. You will hear more about it later.  But let me say that to a person, we lamented that in the three churches we represent we have never experienced such joy and enthusiasm.  What was really remarkable was the service was really driven by the children. There is much we can learn by the way these children worship.  Praise God.  Amen.  Praise God again.  Amen.

In the later afternoon we visited the town of Kitale and did the typical tourist things, shopping and gawking.  We then visited the home of friends of Carla and Jeff.  We were treated to an incredible meal and great fellowship.  It was a wonderful celebration of the week we have spent together. 

Our devotional tonight was centered on Micah 6:8.  (Again look it up.)  Our takeaway was that God is not asking us to do spectacular or stupendous things.  No.  What God asks of us it to do simple things, be just in our dealings with others, and offer love to all.  But it all starts with walking with God and acknowledging God’s greatness and love, and our own fallen nature.

All ready we are beginning to get sad knowing we will be leaving in the coming week.

Stay warm and GO BILLS.

Hoyt W. Brown
Pastor, United Methodist Church of Livonia

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