Friday, March 30, 2012

Main outreach week 4: Kakamega

Cut sugar cane. Yum!

We thought we were going to be in the city this week, but actualy we were in a small town on the outskirts of Kakamega (a good hours drive from the city). The area is all sugar cane fields. Our housing here was definitelly unique: we stayed in a cleared out store front! That was pretty fun!

However our 2nd day there, I got really, really sick. Horrible, could-not-get-off-of-the-floor sick. But it only lasted 2 days, so I was fine. No clue what it was. Definitely felt God challenging me through it though: was I still going to praise Him? It was a challenge, but I overcame it, and was spiritually stronger coming out of it (and had a deeper appreciation of being able to participate with my team).

After I had recovered, I was able to re-join with ministry. We worked a lot with the local high schools this week. We went and talked to the kids, hosted a youth conference at the church, and had revival meetings for the church congregation. I even got the oportunity to give the message at one of the revival meetings. Public speaking is not my thing; I hate it with a passion. But I realized this was something that God had put before me for His glory, and I needed to get over myself. I was pleasantly surprised how well it went and I give all credit to God (there's no way I could've given a message with out choking on my own spit). I'm so glad I had the chance to share with them, and God taught me a lot this week!

Transporting the sugar cane to market.
Funny moments on outreach:
- Making friends with a baby donkey. We named her "Carl". The owner even offered to sell her to us.
They're so soft and fluffy!!! <3
- Driving through a sugar cane field and the workers giving us free sugar cane!
- Getting stuck with a crazy motorbike driver (they're version of a taxi). Racing other motorbikes, driving so close to sugar cane bales that my legs got all scraped up, etc. I seriously thought we were going to crash. :O

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Week 3, Main Outreach: Mt. Elgon

          Traveled to Mt. Elgon! *que Lord Of The Rings theme music* (near the Ugandan boarder) The roads were terrible! I shouldn't have been surprised, all roads in Africa are bad, but this voyage was painful! But we got to the town at the base of the mountain fine, and the family that hosted us was so kind! We were able to stay in their home.

Our time here was packed! We did door to door in the mornings and high school ministry in the afternoons. Part way through the week we hiked up Mt. Elgon to minister to the community up there for 2 days, then we came back down and worked with the local churches.
Local's homes atop the mountain.

Let me give you some background on Mt. Elgon. As you walk through it, it looks like paradise: coffee fields everywhere, everything looks green, quaint, lush, beautiful and peaceful. But it's not peaceful at all. This community has had post-election violence and tribal warring going on since 1963. There are 3 tribes, one tribe has a Rebel army that attacks not only the other 2 tribes, but their own as well. It wasn't clear to me if the cause of the fighting was over land, politics, livestock, or all of the above, but whatever the case, things are awfully intense. Why are the homes so quaint? Because the Rebel army comes through every few years and burns up all the houses, or the military burns the houses to flush out the Rebels. Therefore no church building has been built on the mountain; everyone knows that it will either become a Rebel camp or be burned to the ground, so it's not worth the investment. So people hike up and down the mountain to go to church at the bottom. This is a 2-3 hour hike each way. It is so steep that the only way to get up or down is on foot and with donkeys to carry your stuff. Even then, you have to stop and let the donkeys rest every so often if you have a big load.
Ripe coffee berries!
The people are poor. Though they have all the natural resources they could ever need at their disposal, they are being constantly displaced by the Rebel attacks. Their fields are torched and their livestock stolen. They can never get ahead. Just when they are starting to get back on their feet, the Rebels strike again. Even now, Rebel raiders hide in the surrounding forests and attack randomly.

This week, God really used us to reach out to a hurting community. A community that desperately needed someone to turn to in their grief and times of trouble. While God does not promise to remove us from situations, He does promise to walk with us each step of the way if we will trust in Him. He promises to work everything that happens to His children for their own good (even when it seems like the worst thing in the world at the time). We take comfort solely in the fact that our Creator knows the "big picture" even when we cant see past our own pain, and that He knows our pain as deeply as His own.
How people must travel up and down the mountain.

It was amazing to see the transformations as we simply took the time to talk to people. The walls, the pain, the anger, all come pouring out and melting away at the understanding of a God who wants to be their sense of peace and comfort in the midst of their chaos. The people want the Word of God. They are hungry for Bibles, but living in the middle of nowhere, there isn't even anywhere to buy them. The Athi River YWAM base is currently working on a Bible donating ministry to the Mt. Elgon area.

God moved in some amazing ways in this community! But they still have a long way to go. It was beautiful to see the local church really step up while we were there and their passion renewed to reach out to the communities that they live in. I truly believe that this place is in for some major spiritual transformation!
One of Mt. Elgon's majestic waterfalls

Funny moments on outreach:
- We had no water. I was on cooking duty with another girl and we couldn't prepare any food without water. A bit absent mindedly she prayed under her breath, "Lord, give us water". I kid you not, less than 5 minutes later, the spigot out front goes CRAZY! The hose blows right off! Water is rushing EVERYWHERE! We didn't turn it on! We couldn't turn it off! So we brought every bucket, water jug, and pot on the compound and filled them. The neighbor women even came and were able to fill their water cans. After 2 hours, it just stopped. We had more than enough water to cook, do laundry, and shower. Amen! :D
- Having a drunk man come stumbling up to us while we were doing door-to-door. He announced that he was a drunk... and tired of it. He wants to know God. After explaining things thoroughly to him and his wife so we could be sure that they truly understood, they both readily accepted the gospel!
- Passing out exhausted on the pastor's couch after hiking up the mountain while the rest of my team mates went and explored waterfalls and caves. I couldn't go another step. lol.

How we can pray for the Mt. Elgon community:

the home that my friend grew up in
- For the Holy Spirit to move. Healing existing wounds and convicting the hearts of the Rebel soldiers to stop attacking.
- That the government would continue to have compassion upon the survivors of the community and continue to send military aid to them as needed.
- A disbanding of the Rebel army. 20 boys were arrested from the local high school for being involved with them. (It's almost like a gang.)
- Strength and boldness for the believers living there. That they would continue to reach out with radical love to the people around them.
- For the written word of God to be brought to these people. That there may be enough of a supply that every person that desires a Bible may have access to one (and in a language that they can read).

Friday, March 16, 2012

Week 2, Main Outreach: Sigor

The community here has lots of children. LOTS. Everyday a large group of them would come hang out at our camp and just want to play with us. Even though this was not part of our structured ministry here, it was such a blessing to get to spend time with and feed these precious kiddos! And I am very excited for the next DTS team that goes here to run a kids camp.
Kids are kids anywhere. Just looking
for a little love.

Our spiritual struggle here was the religious mindset of the people. Everyone is caught up in if you are a Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Anglican, etc. They needed to hear about freedom in Christ and unity of the Church Body. This week we did market ministry (kind of like open air, and one on one conversations), door to door, and high school ministries. I got to work with the Juniors and I learned that I LOVE working with high schoolers! Who knew? All this time I thought I should be working with pre-schoool. Yay for learning new things!
Here in Sigor, it is mango heaven! So many mangos everywhere! At the market, it's 5 mangos for 10 cents! This made me very happy, and my team and I were constantly eating fresh mangos. :D
We also had to be very careful when cooking. The local herds of goats roam around, and we were cooking on a fire outside... Yes, the goats DO come up and eat ANY un-guarded food! No matter if it's boiling or not! So we had to have someone on goat duty all the time. Heehee.
Getting water in Sigor was a bit of a challenge; our guys had to walk quite a ways to the police station (police control the city water) where they were harassed pretty obnoxiously by the local police, but we managed ok. Oh, and my water filter broke. Oh well, hello straining and boiling!

Funny moments on outreach:
- Picking rat poop out of people's hair. (yes, the rats come cuddle at night)
- Choosing to sleep on the bench outside like a hobo in order to avoid the rats.
- Pepper spraying a goat that was trying to eat our bananas (That's right, don't mess with my food! lol.)
- Kids in the Sunday School fighting over who got to sit next to us.
- Tripping on my skirt as I was introducing myself to the church and doing a full on face plant on the stage.
- Waking up to the rooster crowing from the guys' BEDROOM next to ours. (The rooster was supposed to be eaten. Until then it lived in one of the guy's beds... then it got away. The men had to go chase it down.)
- Walking to the bathroom at night and passing through these weeds with dried seed pods. They rattled like a rattle snake every time! Scared me so bad until I figured out what it really was.

A personal revelation I recieved this week was in Ezekiel 28, where God is mad at the king of Tyre. He was called the "model of perfection", an "appointed guardian cherub", "blameless". How epicly impressive to have your character and giftings compared to heavenly beings?! Then he became proud because of the wisdom and good looks that God had blessed him with. He regarded himself as a god. (sounds a bit like Lucifer, eh?) Just think: God can bless us with AMAZING gifts and annointing to use for His purposes, and we can choose to glorify Him or ourselves. But choosing to glorify ourselves means we think we are worthy of glory, a.k.a. little gods. Wow! And that definately infuriates God. After all, He gave each of us those annointings and gifts in order to glorify Him. How dare we use it to glorify oursleves? It just really made me think. :)

Thank you so much for all your prayers! I appreciate you all!
The local Sunday school class.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

1st week of main outreach! West Pakot

                While traveling to Pakot, I got my 1st glimpse of what we’d be working with this week. Waiting for our transport vehicle, 3 little boys (probably 10-12 years old) came by, begging for money and food. At 1st, I thought they were special needs or something, then I realized they were high. Having nothing to do, even the children resort to addictions to pass the time. Huffing industrial glue out of old water bottles, they stumbled around the streets. None of the native people seemed to care. It was “normal”.
My new little friend! This is how African
mothers carry their babies around: on their
backs. (It's actually really comfortable)
How we slept! Outside in the dirt. Gotta love it!
                After a hilarious ride on top of a lorry through gorgeous mountains, we arrived at our parched destination. Here in West Pakot, there is not water. And being no water, there is also no food. There is one well (that was put in place by another missionary team about 10 years ago) that people walk miles to and bring their herds to use. Everything is dust and dead, dry thorn trees. The daytime heat easily reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and with almost no shade, it’s quite intense. No electricity. No running water. Not even houses. There are some simple huts that they consider their “home”, but it’s usually so hot that everyone cooks and sleeps outside.
                Peoples’ priority here is their livestock. It’s ALL about their flocks. Their entire social and economic system revolves around it. Families will have as many children as possible because the boys serve as herdsmen and girls are traded as wives to gain more livestock. It does not matter that they cannot feed and clothe these children; their kids are simply a piece to acquiring more wealth. They don’t ever send them to school (you don’t need school to raise cows and have babies), so the entire area is completely uneducated. This lack of information causes some problems, such as not understanding the effects of alcohol to unborn babies and nursing infants. Again, having nothing to do in the middle of nowhere, the people have resorted to addictions to entertain them, and have become very good at making moonshine. It is the norm for people to be drunk all day, every day, including pregnant and nursing mothers. The rate of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome was ridiculous. These women have no idea that they are damaging their own children.
Some of the Pakot ladies.
                So this week, we were able to work with the community as a whole. They are a very curious and welcoming people, and would usually come to where we were staying to sit with us, eat with us, and just spend time together. Since they are not educated they only speak their tribal language, so this made it very difficult to talk with them. We had a few translators, but not many. As a whole, we knew our main job as a team there was to help the people in the practical ways that we could (providing food and clothing) and interceding fervently. The people are so spiritually oppressed and witchcraft is extremely prevalent. When we were able to speak with them, we shared the gospel, and many were very open to it.
                One of the ladies that I had the pleasure of getting to talk to about the gospel was a little, old, blind woman. After a time of visiting with her, we learned that she had heard the gospel before, but she always felt overlooked by whoever was sharing it. That as “just a little old blind woman”, she was shoved into the background and forgotten about. She felt that she was unimportant to people, and therefore unimportant to God. We later learned that she is a widow; that she had 5 children and all of them died at infancy, and that now she is all alone. In a culture where you rely on your children to take care of you in your old age, this left her in a very difficult situation. She would go from family to family, staying with them for a bit until she had worn out her welcome and they sent her on her way again. This precious woman had never been shown love. She had never been told that she was valuable, that she has a purpose, that she is beautiful and treasured. As we began to share with her how God truly sees her: as his stunning creation and lovely daughter, you could see the walls of neglect and pain coming down. I sat there and cried with her as she finally began to understand: she IS important and the God of the universe loves HER. She accepted Christ as her savior that day. J
                We adopted her as our African Grandmother and call her “Coco”, which is Pakot for “Grandma”. Later that week, my friend and I went to visit her in her home and we brought the local pastor. As we visited with her some more, (this lady whom the pastor had never met) learned that she was very distantly related to his wife! After explaining the situation to his wife, they agreed to bring her to live with them. :D We praise God that she has finally found a home where she will be taken care of.

Prayer for the community of West Pakot:
-         - Freedom from the addictions that keep them bound from living their lives to the fullest.
-          -Continued spreading of the gospel in this land, and for full time workers to go there.
-          -That the Holy Spirit would continue to move in their community. Open peoples’ eyes and prepare their hearts.
-          -Strength and boldness for the believers living there.