2013 Kenya Mission Team
KenyaHELP builds leaders for today and tomorrow
The 2013 Kenya mission team of Carol Dost, Bruce Cantrall, Ryan Dunk, and Chris Hemstreet, has returned safely from their recent trip to Meru, Kenya. The focus of the trip was to spend time with the current KenyaHELP high school students, visit several of their schools and to also go on a few home visits to see and appreciate the humble backgrounds of many of our students. We become more aware of the many challenges our students face on a daily basis and see their true need for our help to get something so basic as a high school education.
"Share the Dream: The Butterfly Effect" was the theme of this year's Leadership Retreat for the 40 high school students. It is based on the book Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. The students spent 3 days and 2 nights
with the mission team at the Thiiri Cultural Center. Six of the KenyaHELP graduates helped lead the retreat along with the Green Bay mission team. During the retreat, the students learned to develop leadership skills which enable them to be even better students/leaders in their schools, their homes, and in their community.
The students participated in a community service project to help them share their time and talents in their own community. They went to the Kithoka Primary School to help fertilize and water their new banana trees. They also spent time playing with the students from the school. Many of our students wrote in their evaluations that this was one of the highlights of the retreat.
The retreat was also great bonding time for the students as they represent 8 different high schools and often only see and meet each other at the annual leadership retreats. Another one of the students' favorite activities was the Talent Show. One of the student leaders volunteered to be their director. It is amazing to see the diverse talents among the students.
After the Leadership Retreat, all of the KenyaHELP graduates had been invited to Graduate Networking Day. This is an annual gathering for them to share what they have been doing since their graduation. This year, a group of graduates took leadership for the day. They shared valuable tips and ideas with each other on how to find jobs, how to save and manage money, and networking advice to find jobs as well as attachments and internships. For many of the graduates, it is one of the few times they see each other and have a chance to visit. More than forty of the high school graduates were able to attend. A great day was had by all.
In addition to the high school students, KenyaHELP also helped a number of the graduates with grants to attend universities, colleges, and other postsecondary schools. The grants help "fill the gap" between their tuition, expenses, government loans, and self-funding. The team met with these students to review their applications and to award their grants. This year we have several more students who are graduating by the end of the year. The students are very grateful for their opportunity to get a post-secondary education.
Previous Kenya Mission Teams
By Jeanne Jung, team leader
"For I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you invited me into your home. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you cared for me. I was in prison and you visited me." Mt. 25:35-36
Thank you, First Church, for listening with your heart to the scripture from Matthew and sending a mission team to share Jesus' love with the people of Meru, Kenya. It was a very productive trip and many hearts were deeply touched, both Kenyan and American. While each of us has our own personal stories to share, we would like to give you a brief synopsis of our team activities.
The advance team was able to go to Kenya for an extra week and lay some of the groundwork for the rest of the trip. The advance team consisted of Chris Hemstreet, Jeanne Jung, Barb Short (community member) and Jeri Robinson (Brown Deer UMC). We focused on the following activities:
Nairobi Slum Outreach Program
The first day in Kenya, we were able to tour an innovative program that is working to help children in one of the slums in Nairobi. Our tour guide was Rosalyn, Grace Imathiu's cousin. She walked with us through the slums to see firsthand the incredible challenges people in this area have to overcome each day. Students in this area are typically far behind their grade level in school due to a lack of educational opportunities, but through this program, teachers work with them to catch them up and then send them on to local primary schools. We donated school supplies, which were immediately put to use the following week for the community Bible School.
Meeting Yema Luhahi at Kenya Methodist University (KEMU)
We had the wonderful opportunity to meet several missionaries at KEMU, including Yema Luhahi, the medical missionary our church currently sponsors. Originally from the Congo, Yema and her husband, Lahi, a mathematics professor, are working closely with the students and community surrounding KEMU. Yema has focused on testing, counseling, and training people about the reality of AIDS; strongly advocated for women's rights and health care; and is hoping to expand the university's small clinic to provide inoculations for area children and support for young mothers in the community. She and her husband are scheduled to visit FUMC in October!
Ruthiu Boys Rescue Center
We attended a special board meeting for Ruthiu and were able to coordinate our project ideas for the rest of the trip. We also ordered uniforms and shoes for each of the 22 boys at the home.
KenyaHELP Annual Board Meeting
We met with Mr. Blaise Nyaga for our annual meeting to discuss program and student needs and to plan for the coming year. 42 students are enrolled and 12 have graduated thanks to you!
Our advance team visited Gikumene Girls' Secondary School where some of our KenyaHELP students are enrolled. We each spent time in a classroom learning about Kenya from the girls and answering their questions about life in America. We also held an all-school assembly for them. School supplies were donated as well.
Charles and Peggy Schroeder, Dr. Dave Manke and Chuck Rollman (Appleton) joined the team for the remaining two weeks. Our team often split up and worked at different sites to maximize our efforts.
KenyaHELP Spiritual Gifts/Leadership Senior Retreat
One of the highlights of the trip was the two-day retreat we held for our KenyaHELP students. We invited the 23 seniors and 12 graduates to attend the event and it was a huge success! Time was spent in teambuilding activities, small group discussions, praise and worship, and prayer. Each student took a Spiritual gifts survey and began to discuss how they could use these gifts to serve God in their daily lives. We also spent time talking about living the kind of lives God calls us to, the importance of community service, and the possibility of a KenyaHELP co-op for graduates. In the evening, we all rededicated our lives to God around a bonfire. Then we introduced them to the American tradition of roasting marshmallows! The younger students joined us the following afternoon for our annual dinner and exchange program. To close the retreat, we shared in a Communion service.
Ruthiu Boys Rescue Center
Charles and Chuck masterminded an incredible engineering solution to fix an annual problem: during the rainy season, water and mud washes into the boys' bedrooms as it comes down the mountainside.
While Peggy and Chris entertained and fed the boys and Jeanne learned to bargain for food in the local markets, these two gentlemen spent four days heading up a crew made up of KenyaHELP students and a few local workers who smashed rocks with hammers, laid piping, and mixed cement by hand to create a new drainage system for the center. The students also painted each of the rooms and the bathrooms.
Meru Hospice Program and Garden
Dave, Jeri, Barb, and Chris joined the hospice staff to make home visits to community members enrolled in the hospice program. Dave headed up a terrific project to plant a garden on the hospice grounds that would provide food for program members who are often poor or left to fend for themselves, despite their health challenges. The garden was cultivated and the first seeds were planted during our stay! May God bless the garden and all those who eat its produce for many years to come!
Vacation Bible School
We held a half-day VBS for Mwanika Methodist Church, St. Luke's Methodist Church, Meru Children's Home, and the Ruthiu boys and neighborhood children. Peggy and Barb designed a program focused on the Parable of the Lost Sheep with the goal of reminding each child that he or she is never alone because God loves them! We praised God through music, crafts, games and prayer and gave each child a gift bag with seeds, a cross necklace, a toothbrush, and a small ball that said, "Jesus loves me". We also held a mini-carnival with games like horseshoes, a beanbag toss, and hide-and-seek after the two orphanage VBS programs. Best of all, some of our KenyaHELP students and former VBS participants came along to work with us as volunteers. A great time was had by all!
Feeding the Hungry
Thanks to the special offering collected by the FUMC Sunday School children and congregation, we were able to provide a bag of rice and a bag of dry beans to a long line of hungry men and women from the slums of surrounding Ruthiu. The experience was very humbling and eye opening for everyone involved. (There was such a generous gift of money that this was actually the second time the community had been fed. The Nyagas had held a similar food line upon their return to Kenya in June.)
None of this would have been possible without the prayers, support, and encouragement of the members of this congregation! THANK YOU!!!
"Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Mt 28:19-20.
If you would like to learn more about the Kenya-FUMC mission trips please call Carol Dost (920) 468-0204.