I am back in Nairobi for a few hours and then off to the airport. We left Missionary Gurath's home in the Moi's Bridge area this morning around 8:30 am, dropped off Pastor Mayhew, Pastor Gurath, Stephen Mayhew, and Russ Schmitt at Eldoret so they could catch taxis to Uganda and Kisii. They all stay one more week except Pastor Gurath who will be here for six months. The five hour ride took me back over the equator and through the Great Rift Valley...beautiful!
I apologize that the blog has not been updated as regularly as I planned but internet access has been pretty sparse since we left Nairobi on Saturday (9/4). We left around 9:00 am on Saturday as we made our way to the city of Kisii which is the nearest large town near the aids orphan school in Etago. We arrive in Kisii late Saturday afternoon and checked into our hotel. We rested and cleaned up and got ready for our meeting with the pastors who live in the Etago district of the CLC-Kenya. Two of these pastors serve as teachers in the temporary seminary that was started when the seminary in Himo, Tanzania was forced to be closed. These men are teaching four students who were previously attending the Himo seminary. They meet for one week each month in the church building in Chotororo for classes and then work one-on-one with one of the pastors. We sat with the seminary teachers for about two hours discussing the curriculum and classes schedules as we encouraged each other in the blessed privilege the Lord has given us as we serve Him. We also discussed some of the challenges they are facing. They understand that this is only a temporary solution to problems posed by the closure of the seminary in Himo and thus it would be not be good stewardship to build any permanent buildings for the seminary or provide much more than we are doing right now. While we can’t provide for any major improvements I am hopeful that we can provide a little more financial help for a few necessities. It is humbling experience to hear what some of the pastors and seminary students here endure for the sake of the Gospel. For example, these students attend classes, sleep, eat their meals, and study in a mud waddle church building with a mud floor and metal roof. They bring in mattress to lie on the floor and bring warm coals inside the building at night to stay warm. There is a vacant house nearby that could be rented for lodging and class room for $70/week but that is far beyond what they can afford. When we asked what other needs they had they asked if it would be possible for a little additional funding so they could purchase a few necessary items such as folders for each student, a stapler, a few notebooks, pens, and pencils. Pastor Mayhew will assess the needs of the temporary seminary in Nairobi next week and then send recommendations to the KINSHIP committee. Thank the Lord for the dedicated men and their families who sacrifice so much for the sake of the Gospel.
Seminary students of the Etago District of the CLC- Kenya
The next morning we got up early to make the 1.5 hour drive from Kisii to Etago where we were to attend worship service and see the new class rooms that have been added to the aids orphan school. When we arrived we found the church building full of children waiting to begin. Pastor Mike Gurath led the brief Bible study for the children about Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Once the service began the Lord was praise with the voices of 172 children singing to the Lord. I had the privilege of preaching and was glad to have the opportunity to proclaim the Word one more time since I would be leaving in just a few days. I preached the 10th chapter of John where Jesus comforts and encourages us with the Good News that He is our Good Shepherd who knows us and willingly laid down His life for us.
Etago Aids Orphan School. Classrooms on the left, church on the right.
After the worship service we went to the school where 172 children attend grades K-7. The Lord has certainly blessed the efforts of the school staff and KINSHIP working together for the sake of our Savior’s kingdom. These children, who have been orphaned because of the aids epidemic in Africa, are receiving the truth of God’s saving word along with an excellent education. This school, in district testing, ranks 18th out of 150 schools and ranks 1st in the immediate Etago area. This is all accomplished with just $200/month subsidy from KINSHIP and classrooms that are built for $3500 each. What a blessing for the members of the CLC, through KINSHIP, to be involved in bringing up these children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This school at Etago is just an example of what could be done in hundreds of other CLC affiliated congregations throughout Africa, India, Nepal, and Myanmar. As the Lord wills and provides we can spread the Gospel to the little children.
Worship service with the school children and congregation at Etago, Kenya
On Monday we traveled to the Moi’s Bridge area where Pastor Mike Gurath will be living and working for the next 6 to 12 months. Pastor Gurath has been called by Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Phoenix, AZ to serve as a missionary to the newly formed Emmaus Milimani Lutheran Church. This congregation was established after a woman from Moi’s Bridge, Kenya attended services and joined Holy Cross. She is an older woman who wants to start a confessional church and school in her home area. She has donated a large piece of land and quite a bit of her own money to build a church and school. They currently have 110 students enrolled in their school. Most of the children are from families that are too poor to pay the tuition at the other schools in the area.
We were privileged to participate in the installation of Pastor Mike Gurath as missionary to Emmaus Milimani Lutheran Church and School. Pastor Gurath will also spend one week a month teaching in the temporary seminaries in Kenya, alternating monthly visits to Etago and Nairobi.
Pastor Mike Gurath - Missionary to Emmaus Milimani Lutheran Church and School
You can find Pastor Gurath’s blog at: http://emmausmilimanimission.tumblr.com/
Before and after the service I enjoyed my time with the children. There were two children in particular who will stay in my memory for a good long time. I would have loved to pack these two up and brought them home with me. The first was a little boy who for some reason wanted to be my friend. We were just standing around waiting for things to get started when this little guy (probably 3 years old) just walked up next to me and grabbed my hand. I looked down at him and he just grinned. A little while later I noticed a little girl (probably around 4 or 5) looking at me and when I made eye contact with her she smiled and looked away. I picked up a round dried up pit from some type of fruit that was lying on the ground and attempted to communicate to her that I wanted to play catch. She caught on rather quickly and the fun began. I got down on one knee and we started to toss the “ball” back and forth and she would squeal and giggle with delight with each toss. Within just a minute or so all the other kids had gathered around and my little friend from before wiggled his way through the crowd of children so he could be next to me. After I caught the “ball” I handed it to him and helped him toss it to the little girl. He just grinned with delight. I really miss my family and as these two little children warmed my heart today it made me thankful that I will be home with them in St. Louis.
Emmaus Milimani Lutheran Church and School
I leave in an hour for my flight from Nairobi to Brussels to Washington, DC to St. Louis. It will take around 23 hours. I can hardly wait to get home.
Thank you for your prayers...and keep them coming for the people of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and DR Congo.