Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back from Kenya

Hello, everyone! I'm back from Michura, Kenya and decided to post a summary of my time there on my blog. I hope it does justice to this experience.

When we first arrived in Michura, we were stunned by the warm welcome we received. As we walked up the long, rocky slope to their village, the people came down to greet us with songs and flowers, dancing us to where our welcome service was to take place. After sitting us all in a circle, the community leaders came up and let us know how blessed they were to have us here – which we found a little ironic, considering how much they had already blessed us with their joy! I didn’t think then, and I’m still not sure now, that we could do enough to bless them as much as they would bless us throughout the week.

The villagers
Among the beautiful landscapes, scattered houses and abundant life, the people of Michura were the most wonderful part of it all. Though a surface glance would say they live in poverty, the truth is that they are only poor in material – but very rich in spirit. I was amazed by how they began every speech with “Praise God! (Amen!) Praise God again! (Amen!)” Despite living conditions we would perceive as poor, and despite nearly constant tragedy, they take the time to praise God in everything that they do. One day Esau, one of the pastors there, revealed to us that his brother had died that very morning. In the midst of sorrow, he had taken time to entertain us and make sure we felt welcome. I will say again that I do not believe we could ever bless them as they strived to bless us.

Community leaders in front of the water tank
We did our best, though. We spent three mornings working on their water filtration system, which in a month and a half they had already come near to completing. Our main goal for that week was to fill a pit with rocks. This pit will be the final storage tank for their clean water, after the previous tanks had filtered and chemically treated it. The key is to line this pit with concrete, protecting it from harmful materials leaching in through the dirt. The floor of the pit will be a mixture of rocks and cement – and that’s where we came in. We introduced the idea of the assembly line to them, which seemed to speed up production greatly – before they had carried rocks on their heads from their source to the pit, but now we all formed a line and passed the rocks along it. All we managed to do by the end of our three days was fill the bottom of the pit with rocks, which didn’t feel like much – but judging by what they had already accomplished on their own, it’s clear that this trip wasn’t about how much work we could get done. They could do just fine on their own.

Kids playing "Stop tag"
So what were we doing there? It didn’t seem that they needed our spiritual insights. It didn’t seem that they needed our labor. Our real purpose came in the second halves of our three workdays. The first day the team split up into smaller groups, and spent the afternoon visiting homes. The house my group visited was the home of a woman named Elsa, who was widowed with (I think) five children. She showed us around her home, pictures of her family, and how to cook a delicious fish soup. The next two days our group did a bunch of activities with the kids, including worship songs, a kind of VBS, arts & crafts and numerous games. Through all of these events we grew closer to the community, and their perspective on it became clear in a soccer game on the second day, when a community leader announced: “Crosspointe Cary versus Crosspointe Michura!” I think the best thing we did there was to form relationships – not to set an example – not to compare communities, but to join them.

One of our teammates, Ralph, told the people of Michura this: “For every person standing here, there is a whole group of supporters behind them. We are simply the crest of a wave of support for your community.” Thank you for being the wave behind me and my team on our journey to Michura, Kenya. It was a perspective-changing experience and I hope to return one day.
Great Rift Valley

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed your blog, Sam! Often times it it hard to see just how God is using us; but, in time, and in eternity for sure, we will better understand what God was doing. God bless you! With love, Jim and Dottie Craigmyle