Thursday, 24 July 2008

2 weeks on: a few reflections

It is 2 weeks since I posted the last blog, and in that time everyone has arrived home safely on the flights listed in itineraries, all bags have arrived on the same flights as the travellers, all the washing done, and for many the routines of work and family life have been resumed.
I can't speak for everyone, but for me the last 2 weeks have had numerous opportunities to reflect on the trip to Kenya, and to see in different times, and from different angles, just a glimpse of the many ways in which God has been blessing and challenging.

I arrived home and within days had a virus sweep through my laptop, destroying a considerable amount of work. Despite several scans, deep scans and other retrieval processes, I still have had to rewrite two Open University essays, and am also having to rewrite many other documents and presentation materials. I was very tempted to feel incredibly victimised and fed up by this experience, but thankfully I realised early on that actually it was an opportunity for me to be grateful for all I have got, and not bemoan all that I lost. The people that we served in Kambi Teso were a beautiful example of being grateful for all things: they had so little and yet were so uncomplaining - who am I to get in a grump just because I have lost some documents on a laptop (and as it turns out the rewrites were better than the originals!)

I know that some of the other team members felt spiritually attacked on their return: hard to deal with, but so often the way after having such a God -filled experience as we had. A wise older lady at church once said to me 'it's when the enemy isn't attacking you, that you need to be worried'. Well we clearly did some good stuff in Kenya, and upset the enemy because he is trying to get back at various of us now. So we daily put on the armour of God to be shielded from the arrows of attack.

The people out there are lovely, and it was such a privilege to be able to serve them in a small way. It was only when I got back that it occurred to me the parrallels between some of the little ones that we saw and Jesus: born to a single mother, unknown father, born into very poor surroundings, some had to flee early in life from terror. And from that my mind went to Matthew 25: 35 - 36, and the feeling of privilege in being able to serve God in this way came to me again.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

no more visits to Kambi Teso

There was no let up in the pace for the final day of medical clinics on Wednesday as we tried to see everyone that came for assessment, treatment and prayer. On previous outreach trips, the final day has often ended with people still in line hoping to be seen, but this time the line was much less apparent, and there was much less clamouring to squeeze through as the time came to shut up shop. God certainly answered the prayers that we might be able to see all who needed to be seen.

For the statistics, the breakdown of numbers seen is as follows:
July 2nd: 108 children 95 adults 203 total
July 3rd: 83 children 88 adults 171 total
July 4th: 88 children 57 adults 145 total
July 7th: 169 children 139 adults 388 total (including dental and eyes)
July 8th: 175 children 194 adults 486 total (ditto)
July 9th: 246 children 287 adults 700 total (ditto)

Grand Total: 2093 adults and children seen in medical, dental and ophthalmology clinics.

It is a wonderful number, and especially considering that most of those can’t afford to go to get medical treatment, or to have a dental check-up, and for some it will be the first time they have been able to see things clearly as they got necessary eye-glasses previously unaffordable. What a privilege to be able to serve these people, and to be part of God’s healing touch.

We don’t have exact numbers of people that have come to accept Christ as their Lord and Saviour, but the estimate, including the men’s prison ministry, is between 650 – 800: alleluia for them also!

Thursday was our final visit to Kambi Teso and comprised a day of sports ministry and crazy Olympics for the children – for many this is a rare opportunity to be children, rather than having to find food, look after younger siblings, worry about how to get through each day, and it is so lovely to see them relax and enjoy playing together. Those who prefered not to charge around with the youngsters did the decamping of the clinics, made PBJ sandwiches, sorted out the left-over medications and delittered the playing fields of the Amsteve Hussey school, whose playing field we have been using.
In the evening we had a meal with the OAI Kenya staff and families, as well as the wonderful Kenyan medical students and volunteers without whom we couldn’t have coped. Unfortunately the equally wonderful Ugandan medical team returned to Uganda during the day, so they were unable to join us. They have all been such examples of humility and Christ-like servants as they give of themselves so sacrificially and so quietly and unassumingly. We have all been blessed by their presence so much.

Today, Friday, is a day of debrief, wind down, visiting Pricilla (mother to 20 orphans in Eldoret, and supported by OAI), visiting the property, and starting the journey home. Pastor James has been leading the devotions each morning for us, and has been encouraging us to think about the fact that we are each called by God, and what that means in practice. It has been good to be reminded of that as we have gone out to the clinics and ministry times each day, and now we each start the process of reflecting on what it means to be called by God, and how we use the privilege and responsibility of being out here as we return to our lives back home.
Everyone takes their own special memories, everyone returns home changed and challenged and blessed in different ways; we all have new friends, and we all have new outlooks on life. And I guess for the American team especially, one prayer will be that they get home quicker and more hassle-free than they got out here! But the main prayer is for God to show each of us how to use the privilege of this trip for His glory, and to further His work.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

More of the same, but not the same

The overall ingredients of today were the same as yesterday: medical, prayer, preaching, children and sports ministry; but the people were different, the ways God moved in those people were different, and the individuals touched were different.
We had several people suffering from seizures at various times during yesterday and today: in the UK and US we would say they suffer from epilepsy, but here in Kenya (and many other parts of Africa), the common perception is that they are demon-possessed. So it is a powerful image that we are able to give as we pray for them, and accept them as regular people just like anyone else.
The numbers of people that we are seeing in the clinics has gone up a lot this week with all the extra staff. Last week our busiest day was just over 200 patients, but this week we are nearly 400 patients a day: medical, dental and eyes. The pharmacy is busy to say the least, and those counting out tablets and filling prescriptions are doing amazingly well, especially as for most people they have not ever done anything like it before. Excitement is mounting for Thursday when the sports ministry will be on for the full day, and there will be no medical clinics at all, so all those with a love of soccer can take part in running around and kicking a ball with the locals.
Camille got her bags today which was a wonderful answer to prayer, and Jonathan got his second bag, so that is pretty much it on the luggage front: just time to unpack before we pack up and go home!
Please pray that we are able to see everyone that comes tomorrow; it is the final clinic and the concern is always that we will get to the end of the day and the line will still be long, and someone with a real need will get missed. But with God’s help it will all turn out OK, and the right people will get through the clinics.

Monday, 7 July 2008

medical, sport, children and prayer ministry: all blessed by God

the new week got off to a very busy start today, with a host of extra ministries taking place. In the medical area we had the 4 stations of last week with nursing and medical staff, plus Harriet who is a Ugandan GP joining us to make 5 medical stations in all. Then we also had Apollo, Damiri and Doreen pulling teeth and doing other dental procedures, and Opoulli (apologies if spelling is incorrect) doing an ophthalmology clinic. So the local community had access to many aspects of health care that they wouldn't normally be able to afford, and the pharmacy to treat complaints, plus eye-glasses if needed. These people are so poor, it is a privilege to be able to bless them with care that we take so much for granted.
outside in the field there was another new type of ministry going on as well as the childrens ministry, and that was sports ministry. A team of Christian sportsmen and women have joined us from Uganda and nairobi, and do a mixture of outreach to the children through sports (esp football) followed by talking about Christ to them. It is a great way to reach kids, especially the teenagers, and everyone had a good time, until rain stopped play: yes it happens in Eldoret as well as Wimbledon!
God was abundantly present in all the areas of OAI today, as He always is; and as individuals we are all growing in our faith and sense of calling. We are all being challenged and blessed in different ways as is right for each of us, and we are all feeling that it is just a privilege to be able to be part of God at work.
by the way, in yesterday's entry it said that the local majors came to the service in the village: it was actually the nighbours, but I obviously didn't dictate clearly enough to my daughter Natalie (no internet), who graciously sat and typed it up in England as I spoke it on the phone to her. Thank you Natalie for typing it, and Tim for paying the phone bill!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

A Weekend of Fun

The team took a break from medical clinics, children’s ministry and games of football yesterday and today and did a bit of touristy stuff.

On Saturday, we went to the delta crescent wildlife sanctuary which is in the foothills of mount Elgone an about 2 hour drive away grew some beautiful country side. We were able to walk in the field enclosure with the zebra and gazelle, and get very close to a couple of rhino separated only by an electric fence (which Bethany inadvertently discovered was definitely electric, with a shock). After lunch, folks had the opportunity to ride horses around the property, and also experienced riding an ostrich (it was definitely the younger ones that did that more), as well as getting the chance to wander around and just delight in Gods creation. Although the trip was a blessing to us, it was also a blessing to the staff that worked at the sanctuary, as they are still suffering from the after effects of the violence earlier this year with much reduced tourism numbers. Unfortunately, poaching escalated during the same period and so the numbers of animals has gone down, which is exacerbating the situation; is it was good to able to bless the staff with some business by going there.

Today, Sunday, we went up to open arms property and had a lovely church service under the African sky with all the folks there, as well as local majors. This was followed by a tour of the property for those that hadn’t been before by tour guide David, art activities lead by Shirley (drawing, tie dye, glitter and sticking etc.), and a goat roast meal. We finished off with the option of a hike down to some very impressive water falls that were about a 30 minute walk away. With plenty of rocks and boulders to clamber on, mountain goat Jonathon was very happy, as were many of the others that took walk down there; and if rock climbing didn’t appeal, the views were amazing just from ground level.

One very important event which happened today was the arrival of almost all the bags, so there are several jubilant Americans enjoying the chance to wear some different clothes, and medical personnel breathing a sigh of relief at the arrival of more medical supplies.

Also, we have been joined by four dentists, one GP and one ophthalmologist from Uganda, so team has become even more international for our coming week of clinics.

Oh, and the other thing that happened at the village was the singing of ‘Happy Birthday’ and the eating of birthday cake in celebration of three team member birthdays in the next two days: Helen H, Dan and Jonto, a lovely surprise for all.

Friday, 4 July 2008

medical clinics and prison breakouts

Today saw the third medical clinic taking place in Kambi Teso, but there was no reduction in people coming for prayer, treatments, or to hear God's word being preached. The 'altar call' brought forward many people, and again they were all prayed for and then given some initial discipling to help them move forwards.
The medical clinic had the usual range of illnesses to deal with: chest and respiratory infections, stomach and intestinal complaints, fungal skin conditions, scabies, aches and pains. Nurse Helen took the award for longest treatment as she dug out about 70 jiggers from one mans feet: 40 in one foot and 30 in the other. NB for those that don't know, jiggers are little worms that get inside the skin and have to be dug out with needles and tweezers: a job that most of us avoided with vengeance!
100+ children from tinies to teenagers filled the children's ministry and kept the team very happy, both US and UK members.
On another note, the men went and visited the men's prison to do an outreach there. David preached his socks off, and God touched the lives of almost all the inmates judging from the numbers that came forwards. Unfortunately however, just as the praying finished, the sirens sounded because a prisoner had escaped, so all other inmates had to go back into their cells and our team left the prison. Hopefully this won't reflect on the prison ministry generally and prevent OAI and co getting in to minister again!
In the evening we all went in small groups to different homes of freinds of OAI Kenya and had delicious Kenyan meals. For many it was our first taste of traditional Kenyan food, and everyone had a wonderful experience.
So the first week is over, the US team still don't have their bags but we are praying that they will be here by tomorrow, and we are all having a great time.
Tomorrow is a trip to a wildlife sanctuary, which includes the chance to ride on an ostrich, so that will be quite something! And then Sunday is at the Open Arms village for a 'church' service, time with the children, a goat roast, and a chance to enjoy the wonders of the area.
Happy Independence Day to all Americans that read this, and happy days to everyone: US, UK and the rest.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

eyes were opened, 30 saved and 171 treated

well, what a wonderful day! The first clinic with everyone there, and God really moved.
30 people came to know Christ today, and all had the opportunity for follow-up conversations with team members, and Tom Owuor (OAI Kenya) is going to be organising discipleship classes for them to support them as they grow in their faith.
2 people were healed of sight defects, several were healed of head-aches and other related complaints, and a baby just 2 weeks old went from looking listless and very dull-eyed to having life and shining eyes: all through prayer by various team members including Tara, Sarah S, Jonto and Mark.
The NGM girls led the children's ministry, and did songs, action songs, jump-rope games, colouring activities, and finally a big game o football (although that was when the lads got more stuck in than the girls!). Shirley took some time out from pharmacy to go round the children waiting in line for the medical clinic, and did some colouring and pictures with them. They loved it and were still clutching the pictures when I saw them later to collect prescriptions.
Again we were joined by a wonderful band of Kenyan medical students (all final year) and volunteers, who added greatly to the effectiveness of the clinic.

I also saw the feeding programme today: 100 children all receive 4 meals each week which is a life-saver for them. The food is cooked in a home and then served from big saucepans in the back of a pickup. 2 of the local ladies do the washing up as the meals are eaten, and it is a really smooth looking process. I tasted the food: a mix of beans, chickpeas, onions, potatoes and carrots, and it really was very good.

So there are glimpses of two aspects of our work: the long-term outreach, supplemented by the short-term mission work and medical clinics. It is great to know that anyone affected by the 2 weeks we are here will not e abandoned but supported in the most suitable way to go forward in their faith and life.
David spoke this morning from Mark 9 17 - 23, and the bit where the man says to Jesus "if you can, make my son well", and Jesus replies that all things are possible to him who believes. Today, we really saw that in action: people can be healed, stomachs can be filled, and language barriers can be overcome, if we just believe. And of course God can do so much more as well, and I believe He will, in the next few days.

well, it's getting late, so time to sign off. Thanks for reading, and praying, and my best wishes to all. God bless