Meeting the Maasai

Day 4 in Kenya

Today we visited the Namuncha Child Development Center. It was an experience I’ll never forget. This particular CDC is located two hours outside of Nairobi in the Maasai community, and the views getting there are incredible.

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The Maasai people are historically a nomadic tribe famous for being mighty warriors and cattle-rustlers. I’ll  always remember them for how they greeted us. After driving for an hour on a paved highway going down a mountain, we entered the Great Rift Valley and proceeded on a dirt road for another hour. Along the way kids would run out of huts and fields to come wave at these white people. Keep in mind, many of these kids have never seen a white person. Upon pulling up to the project 300 kids ran to greet us with song. Once everyone was out of the vehicles the kids formed two lines for us to walk between as they sang and walked us in. I may have shed a tear or two thinking about how blessed I was to get to experience this.

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After we were welcomed the leaders introduced themselves and the kids performed some songs for us. We were then shown around the project. The incredible thing about this project is that it all began with a church that met under a tree 20 years ago. Now, with a lot of faith in God and the help of Compassion they have a church building, a school, church offices, a kitchen,  etc. What’s even more incredible is this one church has went on to plant ten other churches in the community.

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We got to sit in for a few minutes on class today where the kids were learning the story of Jesus bringing Lazarus back from the dead. The teacher was great, and we later found out that he actually attended the school that the church started many years ago.

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We then went to visit one of the homes of a child who is part of the program. This family like most others live in a hut made of sticks, mud, and cow poop. Funny story, as part of our day we got to help the family with daily chores, one of the groups with us got to mix together a combination of poop, water, and dirt to help rebuild a house. My group got to shovel goat poop out of a pen that the family could later sell as manure. Better to be shoveling it than mixing it with your bare hands I always say.

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We then returned back to the project for lunch, which included potatoes, rice, stew, and a mystery meat. Now worries, I’ve been popping Pepto like Macklemore has been popping tags. After lunch we got to play soccer with a kids for a few minutes before we had to load up to go back to the hotel.

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As we got ready to leave, the leaders of the project gathered us together and presented each one of us with a Shuka, necklaces, and bracelets to thank us for coming and proclaim us as honorary members of the Maasai tribe.

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Hey, if you just stumbled upon this post, I want you to know I’m in Kenya with Compassion International for a week. I wanted to document my experience to share with my family and friends and anyone else who may be interested. I will be back sharing my thoughts on leadership, church growth, and more next week. If you want to follow along with the blog, make sure to subscribe to get email updates delivered to your inbox each week.

 

The Road to Heaven

Day 3 in Kenya

Today, we woke up had breakfast and headed to the Compassion Headquarters. On the way, we saw a man get hit by a bus, which is not surprising considering that there’s basically no rules when it comes to driving here. There’s no traffic signs, so it’s basically just one big game of chicken, which the larger vehicles normally win. The man ended up being helped up and put into a van. He looked like he was going to be ok, which is fortunate since he just lost at the game of Frogger.

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Upon arriving at Compassion we were invited to take part in their morning services which included worship and a short devotional. We then met with the Director who oversees all operations in Kenya. We learned that Compassion is working with 373 churches to serve over 107,000 children. We were given a tour of the building, met the staff, and then loaded the vans to head to our next destination.

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Our next destination was a church in Kiserian that partners with Compassion to offer a Child Survival Program. In the past, Compassion would offer sponsorships for children once they turned 4 years old, but what they realized was that many children die in Kenya before reaching that age. So, they implemented the CSP to help pregnant mothers and mothers with very young children.

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The program provides training in various areas that help mothers learn how to raise a child. It also provides a place for mothers to come together and share with each other, as well as teach them to do simple tasks they can do to better their economic situation.

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Lunch is always the most uncertain part of the day for me. I’m a picky eater in my own home, so eating in a Kenyan village is adventurous to say the least. Yet, the people here are wonderful and it’s a big deal to them to get to serve their visitors. So, today I had a small serving of rice, a stewed potato, a few pieces of beef, and a tortilla. Oh, and two Pepto Bismol tablets. Needless to say I finished eating very early, and made my way outside to where the kids were enjoying recess.

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What I experienced after lunch I may never experience again. I was the only white person around and 50 or so kids surrounded me like I was a celebrity. All of them had to touch me. They wanted to rub my arms and touch my hair, and if they weren’t touching me they were trying their best to push their way to get to me. After several minutes I invited them to show me their classrooms, partly because I thought a new environment might help, but mostly because I knew their teachers would be there. It turns out the classroom just made it worse because we couldn’t all fit, so I had to call on the teachers to save me which they got a kick out of.

After a short break to nap and shower we headed out to Carnivore for supper. Carnivore is an all you can eat meat restaurant, so I was more than a little bit excited.

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After being seated they brought out bread, soup, and salad, but let’s be honest everyone’s here for the meat. They bring out many different types served in different ways and they have options in Kenya that you don’t have in America. So, since I’m being adventurous I tried crocodile, ostrich meatballs, and even ox testicle. I know what you’re thinking, how was the testicle, it actually wasn’t that bad. The only thing I didn’t try was chicken livers, because you have to draw the line somewhere.

Hey, if you just stumbled upon this post, I want you to know I’m in Kenya with Compassion International for a week. I wanted to document my experience to share with my family and friends and anyone else who may be interested. I will be back sharing my thoughts on leadership, church growth, and more next week. If you want to follow along with the blog, make sure to subscribe to get email updates delivered to your inbox each week.

Heroes’ Welcome

Day 2 in Kenya

Today is Mashujaa Day in Kenya, also known as Heroes’ Day. It is a national holiday to honor those who fought and contributed to Kenya’s independence. Seems only fitting that I’m here with Compassion who are fighting to save children’s lives, spiritually as well as physically.

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Today, we visited the Mango Kubwa Child Development Center. On the way we passed two men riding camels, several men herding goats, and a man carrying a goat on a motorcycle. I wish I had pictures to show you but it’s frowned upon to take pictures of the people here. Many of them want money for the privilege. So, you’ll just have to trust me.

I was able to take photos at the CDC, where they take care of 315 children each week. They honored us by praying over us, performing many dances and songs, and acting out the story of the good samaritan.

Interesting fact, the kids are fascinated by arm hair. They will sneak up to you just to touch your arms.

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This is Melvin. Melvin is much better at taking selfies than me. He is currently 19 years old and has been a sponsor child since the age of 3. He is going to a tech school to become a mechanical engineer.

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As Melvin was showing me how every child with Compassion has a folder that basically tracks everything about their life, this little girl came and crawled up into my lap. The children are amazing here despite the circumstances they are growing up in.

This particular CDC is next to the 3rd largest slum in Nairobi, with over 250,000 people living in quarters smaller than many of our closets. That’s not an exaggeration, I went inside one to visit one of the children’s homes. It couldn’t have been bigger than 100 square feet and 7 people lived in the space. It was made of mud, tin, and sticks and felt like a sauna, and it’s a cloudy day here. All the kids who attend this CDC come out of those slums.

They are responsible for waking up, getting ready, and walking themselves to and from the CDC. Children the same ages as my children, walking through the same streets that buses and motorcycles drive on. And yes, the streets are just as crazy as you would imagine.

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Compassion provides them with much needed meals, classes, and medicine. But more important than that, they provide them hope. Hope in the name of Jesus.

Hey, if you just stumbled upon this post, I want you to know I’m in Kenya with Compassion International for a week. I wanted to document my experience to share with my family and friends and anyone else who may be interested. I will be back sharing my thoughts on leadership, church growth, and more next week. If you want to follow along with the blog, make sure to subscribe to get email updates delivered to your inbox each week.