United Methodist Church of Livonia, NY

Kenya Update January 18

Devotions, No Fear, and Batteries


Good news!  Today we were all tested for Malaria.  All 11 of us passed, and those who had bacterial infections were all clear.

Tonight was a special night.  After dinner we usually go to the boys or the girls dorm respectively to share in their evening devotion.  It has become more than a ritual, but an anticipated time of love and fellowship.  We can show you video of these boys and girls at their evening devotion, but nothing can capture their joy and pure love of Jesus.  Their devotion always begins with singing, there is not a set plan, they just move to the rhythm of the Spirit.  Then some of the children stand up and share something they are grateful for in their day.  More songs and then prayer.  Tonight they offered prayers for our safe travel. I was so touched that they asked me to do the closing prayer.  I shared my favorite verse with them, Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans for you and they are plans for good and not for evil.  I followed by telling them that God has a plan for their life as well and it is a good one.  

As a surprise, after we returned to the dorm the boys gathered outside our veranda and sang Lean On Me.  I will never hear that song again without thinking of the children of In Step and the love they shared with us.

Something that has been shared by some adults and children is the fear they had of white people.  And this is always followed by thanks for helping them not to fear white people.  The only way to get past our fear of the other is to establish personal relationships.  We looked at the Letter to Philemon tonight for our devotional.  Part of what we saw was that Paul was encouraging a new way to think about slavery.  Paul encouraged Philemon to rethink his relationship to a particular slave.  Rather than viewing the person as a slave Paul urged Philemon to view the man as a brother.  Paul was encouraging a revolution based on love.  Our closing prayer asked God to help us see the brothers and sisters we do not recognize.   

We wrapped up the dental clinic today having completed 150 exams, provided services to 58 children and 3 staff members.  Quite an accomplishment.

I helped lead a teacher in-service on how to use their computers, projectors and smart board.  The man I have been working with the last ten day did such a good job today.  Watching the change in his confidence level has been a great thrill.

The big event of the day was the electric car competition.  A member of the team has been teaching the children about energy.  A part of the teaching talked about storing energy for future use, like a battery.   The 8th graders and eight 7th graders built battery powered electric cars using a small electric motor, popsicle sticks, wheels and axils.   There were a few categories, farthest distance traveled, most realistic car, and best use of color.  It was a blast.  The entire school gathered around the basketball court cheering and laughing.

We have seen first hand what can occur when people of faith take action, and even risk.  Carla and Jeff stepped out in faith 15 years ago taking in one child.  They now have 203 children who are receiving nutritional meals, living in a safe environment, an education that meets the Kenyan curriculum standards, health care, and most important love.  All this works because it is grounded in Christ and based on Scripture.

As we draw this part of our journey to a close one person shared that she was so thankful she did not give into fear.  She commented that so many people encouraged her not to go because of COVID, or kidnappings, or terrorists.  Each of us shared the same experience.  There were so many who, while well meaning, questioned our decision to go.  She said she was so thankful she did not give into fear, for if she had, she would have missed out on all the blessings.  And we have been blessed beyond measure.

The interesting thing about mission trips is your first time you think about all the good you are going to do for and to others.  When you return you realize you got so much more than what you gave.  It begins with not giving into fear.  To a person, we acknowledge our faith, commitment to Christ, and our lives have been transformed.  It is my prayer each of you will have similar experiences.

We have been proud to represent Christ, as well as the people of the four churches that make up our group.  And we look forward to sharing our stories and the stories of the people who have so touched our lives.

Hoyt W, Brown
Pastor, United Methodist Church of Livonia

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