Again, posted with apologies as this post should have been up sometime in July or August, Sept may have been accepted, possibly understood. October would have made this post long over due, now I am turning in the post to receive credit and remove the “I” for incomplete from my record. I can’t help but wonder if I have been avoiding the post to avoid thinking about how I had every intention of not forgetting the life changing experiences God prepared for me in Kenya once I returned stateside. Due to the length, I tend to chronicle a day per post, so after this post there should be 4 or 5 more posts unless I stop rambling.
Sunday, June 17
Church at MCF, worshiping1
with the family, 43 of us from western Michigan, Esther and Charles, some of their biological children and a whole bunch of adopted children, as well as
their friends and community members. Everyone who can make it is invited to attend, lunch is provided for those who travel as is lodging if travel home is not feasible. There is something incredibly moving when you hear hundreds of voices lifted in praise with a strong accent but a loving heart. There were many different children’s choirs, I think they were divided by age. We sang a song for them as well. We listened to the sermon in Swahili and English, scripture was read in both as well. I took some movie footage of some of the preaching as well as many of the children’s choirs. If you needed a Bible, one was provided 🙂
Following church, we were instructed to form a line outside and all of the children greeted us. Most of the children said, “hello, what is your name” to all of us. Many stopped for longer conversations. I spoke with a few girls in twos for several minutes and held out hope that I would see them later in the week, Lucy and Victoria, Stella and Priscilla. I don’t remember being instructed last night, but I can only assume that somewhere in the explanation of how things work we were told to ask for both names, that is how you find a specific child again, the children don’t readily share their given Swahili name and not all take an English one at baptism. If you had a picture, you may find the same child twice. Both names are their English name and their Swahili name, some of the older children would share both names without being asked.
I wish I remembered whether the tour was before or after lunch, but alas, that tidbit escapes me. If I had to guess, I would say they fed us before we went for a very long walk. At first, the campus/compound seemed daunting and confusing. After a day or two of roaming alone and remembering the stops in order, I eventually understood it was a gigantic circle and there were shortcuts around every bend.
We toured the farm, which included a tree nursery, French bean2 fields, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and the outside of the greenhouse. The inside tour would come later. The French bean field is near the river and consequently, has a problem with the occasional hippo wandering through to graze. We did not see it, but it left tracks through in the field both with footprints and damaged crops. They hang sheets of metal in the trees so that when a hippo brushes the trees or the wind hits them, the loud clatter sends it back to the river. If they see the hippo, MCF can call the authorities, who will come and kill it, leaving the meat for MCF.
Many of the villagers that work at the MCF farm are widows. Our thought-true religion is this that you care for the widows and orphans, James 1.27. The children do not work on the farm, besides the laws that prevent it, Charles and Esther want them to learn as much as they can while they can. If the students take agriculture classes, they are assigned a plot of land to practice with white beans and other things. They learn to let plants to go seed, to harvest and replant.
From the fields, we stood on the bridge overlooking the river, then went under to beat the heat while Charles explained that the dirt river we were looking at is the sole water supply for most of the villages. His heart for the people has moved him to begin a water filteration system so that he can filter and store water to share with the village people. This bridge will connect two parts of MCF so that it can be traversed more quickly.
At the taking of this picture, he was waiting for the river to go down so the last supports could be placed and the bridge finished. If you look closely, you can see the bridge exists on the other bank already. One woman in our group asked Charles how he knew how to build the bridge, I’m sure we were all curious. He replied that he had tried several different ways to build the bridge, they didn’t stay standing, so he talked to God about the need for a bridge.
As soon as Charles said it, it clicked, I didn’t need any further explanation, but she was not getting it. She asked more pointedly, how did you know how to build a bridge, did you take classes, did you hire someone, did an engineer help with this? He told her he couldn’t answer and “no comment” to her persistent questions. He knew she wasn’t going to believe him. I feel a bit crazy sitting in my warm living room on a cold November night saying that it made sense then and it makes sense now and it will make sense for the rest of my life. When we trust God, he shapes our hearts to be more like his.
When our hearts are more like his we naturally begin to ask for things that he provides because they are in his plan. I have tears in my eyes as I type this because I refuse to trust God, we refuse to trust God. I had hoped to retain the awestruck feeling of that moment of crystal clear understanding that I had vastly underestimated the commitment I made when I accepted God’s gift. It didn’t stick the first time, but now that I have it in my mind again, maybe it will stay, maybe I will allow it to stay. I do not believe that most of us are hostile in our disobedience, I think we are ignorant. We disobey when we don’t trust God to provide for our needs. He provides miraculously and we explain every possible God-thing away with science or we find a product or a person with more knowledge to provide the necessary skills or device or worse, we decide he’s not listening to us because he refused to provide and we had to solve it on our own. We don’t ask him about his desire for our lives as often as we should. I don’t mean this to sound like the typical, “I’ve been to a poverty stricken country and we are spoiled” speech, it is bigger than that. It’s trusting God purposefully each moment of each minute of each hour of each day of each week each month of each year of my entire life. It’s complete dependence on him for life, breath, guidance in each decision. His gift to me, to us was so great how can we do anything but thank him by asking how to live for him.
We looked at the water filtration system that was already started. They had progressed to the point of having dug the hold and poured cement walls into forms to make walls. Part of group was part of the construction team, whose goal was to implement a new filtration system. I will admit, it confused me to see a hole in the ground for something I thought our team was building, but this wasn’t the time. The filtration and reservoir were close to the river, which meant that while Charles explained the system, I had a wonderful view of the mountains. Mountains in Africa, at least the part of Kenya where we were, are not like here. They seem to appear out of no where and are huge solitary masses with gigantic boulders dotting the surface.
From the water system, we toured the dorm rooms and library. The funds for the library were donated by the children and parents from the church that sent us on the trip. The library was nearly complete, all the funds were there, with enough left over to provide for books to stock the shelves. Computers were sitting in a dry place awaiting the necessary timing and labor to finish the building. Each building is made by MCF workers, usually graduate students from the building trade program. They chisel and shape the stone from a slab. They forge the metal grates to go over the windows, paint the walls, roof the building, and install the windows. All of the buildings at MCF are built as if they are going up in Nairobi, which is not the safest place to be, hence the bars, stone walls, etc. This gives the workers a lot of practice.
We saw Jacob’s Well, the fresh water well that Charles asked God to provide. Several children were sick when they first began using N’dalani for children. Charles was burdened by the fact that there was no fresh water, he went to bed one night and talked with God about it. In the middle of the night, Charles was awakened and he walked a little ways from where he had been sleeping. He had the children help him dig and they named the fresh water well “Jacob’s Well.” Before we left for this trip, we were required to read Charles’ biography, Father to the Fatherless. It was awesome to see in person the well that God had provided after reading the story half a world away.
We were able to meet with the children again in front of their living and eating area. We didn’t share meals with the children. I’m not sure if it’s the menu or the health issues. The children invited us into their rooms and showed us all of their wonderful possessions that fit into one footlocker that would easily fit inside one of the two that I took to college with me. Each footlocker is decorated and personalized. Each child has a bed of his or her own, responsible for keeping it neat and made. The funniest thing I saw was the piles of shoes in the rooms, we asked if they were community shoes or did each know which were theirs. They are not community shoes, some piles were neater than others, some children kept their shoes at their beds on a shelf. The younger children slept 24 to a room, 12 bunkbeds with a dorm mom/dad, the older children looked after the younger ones. The older ones have the same size building, but the rooms are subdivided so that there are 8 or 4 per room. Not all of the children had a footlocker, some of the younger ones seemed to have designated space on an unused bed to store their clothes. I assumed that was so they were able to reach their things. Each child has their own clothes, shoes, personal hygiene products, eating plates and drinking cups.
1. Did you know that it is acceptable to spell it as worshipping or worshiping
2. French bean is a variety of green bean.Photos from Sunday, June 17