Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Last post from Kenya!

We are back from Makueni and packing up to get ready to fly out tomorrow night. Our flight leaves at 10 PM tomorrow (Thursday)... and after several connections and layovers we should be to Louisville by 6PM on Friday! We said many of our goodbyes today, as most of the LIA staff we have been working with is staying with the medical team from Southeast to continue serving the people of Makueni in the medical camp. Needless to say, our tear ducts are all adequately flushed... The medical camp was amazing and God was really working in Makueni... Bwana asifiwe!

Thanks for your continued prayers. Prayers for safe journeys and the logistics of the flights would be much appreciated. We will be seeing our Poland friends soon in Amsterdam (yay!), so prayer for their last day and travels would be great as well.

You all rock. We love you so much!

- The Mi2 Kenya team

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Where did the summer go?

Greetings from Nairobi. I sit here, baffled as to how fast time flies. Tomorrow, we are leaving for our final trip, a trip back to Makueni where we will be making final preparations and helping with the medical camp. We are so excited to see how God is going to move and work through the large team of doctors, nurses, and people who love the Lord next week in Makueni, but it is a bittersweet anticipation. Because, as soon as the medical camp begins, it means our time in Kenya is almost up. The medical camp starts on Tuesday, and our team will be driving back Wednesday and flying back to the states on Thursday. Don't get me wrong, we are excited to see all your beautiful faces once again, but it will be hard to leave all the beautiful faces that we have met here behind. We had our first round of goodbye's today at the office, as the LIA staff had a "goodbye" celebration and time of thanksgiving and rejoicing together for what the Lord has done in the last few months. I consider myself to be a pretty emotionally stable person for the most part, but I quickly learned that saying goodbye to those people that I won't see before we fly out turns me into a blubbering fool. I don't even want to know what will happen when we say goodbye to the rest of our friends at the airport...

But enough about my emotional instability issues. The main purpose of this blog post is to ask for prayers. The past few days have been crazy trying to get things together for the medical team. Prayers that the preparations would run smoothly and that all those details that need to be accomplished before Monday would be taken care of. Also, prayer for the hearts of the people of Makueni, that God would be preparing them to be open to the Gospel and His amazing plan for their lives as they come to the medical camp searching for physical healing. And also prayer for the medical team themselves, as they prepare to fly out to Nairobi very soon, that they would be strong and healthy and patient and ready to serve. It is going to be an amazing week... but without God present and working, no fruit will come of it. Thanks so much for your prayers. We will most likely be out of communication until next Wednesday or Thursday... but you all are continuously in our thoughts and prayers as well.

God is so good. Enough said. Have an amazing day :)


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wherever He Leads I'll Go

This week was physically and emotionally exhausting. The trip to Kisumu was jam packed. However, it had to be the most rewarding by far of any of our experiences thus far. I could probably write a book on all the things that we did, instead I will go with a group of short stories.

Story 1:
We did home visits. My favorite was Margaret who I got to visit twice. She was about 80, widowed and taking care of her grandchildren. She was constantly cracking jokes, and kept everyone rolling when she was in their presence. She tried to find me a wife, then decided that she was single, but the language barrier was too much for her. Since she was the oldest of her church I asked her for advice. She said, "Go to America and tell everyone there that their are many believers in Kenya. Also, love the Lord more each day and never look back." A very serious and impactful note from a funny lady. She was also known to be a leader, challenging the other ladies to give generously by her actions, even when she didn't have enough money to feed herself. Quite an interesting woman. She is welcoming to all by her smile and laughter, yet courageous to stand up for what is right.

Story 2:
With many implications, the parable of the Church being the body of Christ was a theme for the two weeks. Whether it was the encouragement that each part needs, or the trust required to be one, or the uniqueness of the gifts each individual has to provide to the group, it was all there. We saw some amazing giving going on. We were at a church where 8 months of rent was past due and eviction was within two weeks...the offering was enough to cover that cost, and the Americans weren't the ones doing the giving. We were able to see how we could support our Kenyan counterparts in many unexpected ways. Words of evangelism reached hearts that had been prepared for years and were waiting for the moment. Testimonies related the similar problems all people face on the earth. Lifting up the ailing parts of the body came through for us Mi2's when we were introduced to a 16 year old leading a family of 3. His job was to drive a taxi bicycle called a boda-boda. We were able to empower the family by purchasing a bicycle he could take all the profits home and not just half from the rented one he was driving before. This and many other stories showed us how the body can do many things when it takes care of its members.

Story 3:
Personal evangelism has never really been my strength. However, the Kenyan culture has fertile soil for doing this good work. We were able to painlessly instigate conversation with people and then tell them the Good News we had. For me it was challenging to just walk off after someone gives their life to Christ and feel like the work is done. This became less disheartening (that you leave them) when we got to know the church people we were leaving them with. Of course I have a favorite. Eugene was a cool lady with some awesome kids. She was great to work with and you could tell devoted a lot of her efforts to reaching out to her community. She and many others sacrificed time from their jobs and families to help us get the information needed and relationships built to start this project and transform the lives of the Kisumu people. I am confident that if I were the seed planter, that they will not go unwatered if the heart was ready. The churches we were referring people to were amazing.

Story 4:
I can't tell you how much I have been stretched this week. When God asks you to do something, even though you might not be the best at it or have never tried it before, do it. Some amazing revelations come when you find out you are able to do things beyond yourself. A quote from Bishop Zephaniah, "When you are nervous about doing kingdom work, and you step out on that faith, you say things that you couldn't come up with on your own, and in the outcome you know the Spirit was working in you, and that is a great place to be."

Processing all of this material has led to a lack of sleep. I closely relate the experience I'm having to a song, because that is about all the thinking that I have been able to do. Hence the title and the point I'm making. Step out on faith and God can show you things you weren't expecting.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Twizzlers, Reese's, and Pretzels

We just got back from Kisumu. I figured I would write a blog post considering we haven't written in a while... travelling around makes computer access difficult. But, needless to say, we have returned to Nairobi encouraged and blessed by all that He has done in Kisumu both through us and in us...

Kisumu has to be my favorite trip so far. I could probably type for the next 16.72 hours about how amazing it was and how God moved each day we were there. For most of the trip we were able to have the Post college team from SECC there with us, and it was nice to be able to share the amazingness of Kenya with fellow Americans. I quickly learned that, when around Americans, I shift into super loud fast-talking Lauren again so then the Kenyans can't understand me... so it's been an interesting experience gauging how much I should articulate depending on who I am talking to... but that's beside the point.

Here's the point; Kisumu rocks. The LIA staff there, Oke, Ephantus, and Mary, are pretty much the most amazing people ever. They have such a heart for the Lord and for youth and have been awesome role models on what it looks like to live like Jesus, and they are pretty stinkin' hilarious as well.

As Holly said in the previous post, we have been doing alot of home visits, etc. I will share one experience that particularly impacted me, although I wish I could tell all of them. Probably one of the most impactful gatherings that I was involved in in Kisumu was the feeding of the street children. LIA is just in the beginning stages of it's work in Kisumu, and the churches there are beginning a street children program where they are targeting 50 children who literally live on the streets. We were able to help with one of the first meetings of the children, who were really mostly older boys from 13-18. We had bread and juice for them. It was a really rough looking group. I can't even imagine what some of those kids have seen and experienced at such a young age. They were unorganized, restless, rude, and sometimes rowdy... but I knew that they were only reacting to the way that everyone has treated them their whole lives. The boys all stood up in the front of the church and introduced themselves, and it might have been the first time in a long time that some of them have ever been recognized individually. My heart broke to see their situations, their tattered clothes, their tough-guy attitudes, and their hard struggles. We tried to show them all the love we could in a short time, and some were very receptive and others weren't. However, after a few testimonies and some words from the Pastors, 4 boys accepted Christ and 8 others said they wanted to get off the streets and go back to school. Hopefully, this will be the start of an amazing transformation of the streets of the Kisumu slums... and it was amazing to see the start of such a program. I am excited to hear where the same boys that we saw this week will be in 3 years after going through the program. They will be one step closer to being the next doctors, drivers, lawyers... because the church was doing its job of being Christ to these boys that had little hope before...

That is just one program that we were able to witness. It was hard to leave Kisumu after spending 10 days there. It was our longest trip away from Nairobi, but it was an amazing one. God is good. Prayer for the work that He is doing in Kisumu and in each project that LIA is involved in. Prayer that our last 2 weeks would be productive, joyful, and that we would continue to listen to God in everything we do. Prayer for Dane and Erich in Poland. And prayer for the medical team that is preparing to come.

Thanks again for still reading the blog after all this time. We really appreciate the prayers and support and are so blessed to have you in our lives...

Buana a sifiwe (who knows if that is how you spell it... but it means Praise the Lord.)

Saturday, July 18, 2009


We apologize for being MIA for the last week! We did arrive safely in Kisumu, Kenya last Monday. We had another long bus ride to reflect, to rest and to view the stunning scenery of Kenya. You can drive for 6 hours in the USA and the vegetation and landscapes look pretty much the same, but driving 6 hours in Kenya takes you through so many different environments that you feel as if you’ve traveled across multiple countries! If you ever come to Kenya, be sure you take the bus from Nairobi to Kisumu, you pass through some of the most lush, brightest green tea fields you can ever imagine!
From Tuesday-Friday we are working with the churches which LIA is partnered with in Kisumu. 3 LIA staff- Epahtus, James “Oke” ( pronounced okay), and Mary have been there every step of the way to make sure we’re getting around in our new area! LIA is partnered with 5 churches in Kisumu, and similar to Thika, LIA has only been in Kisumu for about a year. LIA is in the process of working with the 5 churches to establish a program for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) within each church.
The LIA team along with the TOT’s (trainer of trainers- church members who have undergone training in Community Health Evangelism through LIA’s partnership with their church) has been identifying homes in which there is great need. Our team split up into 3 groups, each with an LIA staff and a TOT from a specific church. We went around in the slums to these identified houses to carry out a baseline survey that will show the LIA staff how to help meet the communities’ needs. Most of the homes we have been visiting have a widowed mother taking care of anywhere from 3-14 children (some take in other orphaned children from other friends or family). The baseline survey asks simple questsions about the health of the mother and her children, about how they earn money, about church involvement, and about relationships with their family and other friends. Many of the women are making 50-150 schillings per day (which equates to about $0.75-$2 a day) by selling charcoal, vegetables, by braiding hair or by selling other food items or groceries. The women also make so very little profit at the end of the day that there isn’t any left for saving. One of the strangest survey questions at first was “Are you involved in a merry-go-round?” A merry go round is a group who meets each day to contribute a small amount of money (10-40 schillings) to a group ‘pot’, and each day, a different person gets the lump sum. Sometimes, the merry-go-rounds are members of the church coming together, sometimes the women have the groups with their neighbors. While it may sound a little strange, it’s the only way for some of them to have enough money at once to purchase the needed supplies for their small businesses for the week.
We also heard many heart-wrenching stories of loss, abandonment and illness. I’m sure we could all go on for days about what these families have encountered. There are a few selected stories that will be posted at some point in the future- but be praying for the people we’re continuing to interview. Another question on the survey asks about their salvation status- “Are you saved?” I think my heart literally breaks each time someone says no. It’s so very apparent when the head of the home is in a relationship with Christ- they have such a faith and trust in God for EVERYTHING in their lives and those homes in which God is present is just so very apparent! Amen! We have gotten to experience many women who have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior! Amen again!
Now, the Post College team has finally arrived! They are in Kenya for only 10 days, and they arrived in Kisumu on Friday night. Yesterday was our first full day with the team of 26. We broke into 5 groups, with a Mi2 “leader” and 3-4 Post Team members. We went on home visits yesterday, and today we are going to the 5 different churches for a Sunday service. It’s been a lot of fun to hang out with other people who are about our same age, it’s also awesome to hear their stories of how God has been working to bring them here. Be in prayer for our sleep at nights, the days are often very long (9am-9pm) and we all need as much refreshing sleep as we can get! Also be in prayer that the people we meet that have not accepted Christ as their Savior would have their hearts softened to hearing the Truth.
Stay tuned for some AMAZING stories from the other Mi2ers!
God Bless!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sticks, Stones, Mud...and Prayer

From the actions of children to the prayer-inspired correction of false doctrine being preached, the work done in outskirts of Thika is beyond a lame adjective. The work done is incredibly good because it's of God.

We experienced several churches doing neat things. While 8 in the area are involved with LIA, we visited the five with Orphans and Vulnerable Children programs, two last week and three this week. Each of the churches are doing or planning economic empowerment activities, like chicken raising and gardening, to support the equivalent of pre-school and Kindergarten. In the Kenyan system it is required to do at least two years of pre-primary education to get enrolled in primary school, which is free. Most places charge for pre-school and it makes it very hard for poor people in rural areas to get their children into the school system. The churches have decided to offer this service for free. Where do they find teachers? Preacher’s wives or other volunteers are taking on these tasks. Kids are learning to write their name, interact with others, and how to sing songs of praise to God.

Here there is need. We are working on ways we can help them, without just giving gifts. It is obvious that the teachers that have training are able to see greater response out of the children. As a team we suggested that they collaborate amongst each other. One teacher could share with the others what they have found to be successful. Knowing what resources are necessary to be effective would be a first step. Secondly, acquiring these resources could happen several ways. Many of these programs have undergone government inspections and have been in violation of seating arrangements. We brainstormed ideas and thought we might be able to help not just take care of it for them…more to come.

For me, the most impactful thing was the medical need we found in the rural area that was widespread. Three cases went from simple, to moderate but treatable, to mind blowing. Each was essentially going untreated because of lack of funds to access doctors and knowledge to help their selves. First, we tended one wound and all it took was a first aid kit to prevent major repercussions. Mbithi was a girl that could run, but not stand, due to the pain of an untreated sore. They had suggested she go to the doctor but it wasn’t happening. We cleaned it out, bandaged it up, left some band aids and instructions to change it, and she was on her way to recovery. Then, we met a girl named Jane, she had club foot from birth. Her mom, Esther, described how she was mentally functional as a child until she developed seizures that ‘paralyzed’ her mind. At twelve years old she was very immobile, yet her mom would hoist her around when necessary. A wheel chair is a must as she grows. Lastly, we visited Sami. Just pray for him. I don’t have a clue where to go on this one. He has the scariest condition ever. His skin is essentially a scab in the winter and open wounds in the summer. It was scaly, dry and peeling. We all were dumbfounded. Evidently his single mother is getting some help with lodging and food from the local church, but not enough to cover the $3/day prescription that moderately suppresses the condition. You can see that this is most likely a time where even American medicine would struggle. God does some mighty things when all hope is in the world is lost. Please pray for Sami.

Hope this gives some insight and places we are being used here in a very busy week for us.


Just to continue on what Daniel said, God really showed us a lot in Thika this past week. Out of everything we encountered there seemed to be a recurring theme , hope. It is funny the little things people take out of situations that just present the slightest hint of hope to them and keeps them pressing forward. Everywhere we went to work and help out they assured us that our presence left them encouraged and impacted. We were able to help build a toilet, a kitchen, and a church this week in the most fun way I have ever experienced; out of mud and sticks. As we worked alongside the members of the community to do these tasks and “plaster” the walls with mud they were inspired that we were called by Christ to help them, and we were inspired at the fact so many people would drop what they were doing and help with such tasks. Some of our budget money is going to help them buy tin roofing for the buildings which is supposed to assure them that as they continue to work together as a community in Christ, he will continue to bless them and provide for them. We also were able to purchase two mattresses for a pair of children that do not know their mother and live with a family in the community on wooden slats, using their clothing as padding to sleep on. They were very shy children and spoke very little but the slight smile on their faces as they received the mattresses was all I needed to see to know that their lives were brightened a little that day. The churches in the area radiate a sense of responsibility and commitment to improving the lives of those around them. Everything they do is with unselfish motives and with giving hearts; it has been a real blessing to see this. While all of the building projects and playing with children all week was tiring, it was entirely worth it and the lessons taken from it will be engrained in our minds for years to come.


Friday, July 3, 2009


Today was a day for celebration. We know you all at home are stocking up on your watermelons, hamburgers, hotdogs and sparklers, here we were singing a different tune. At the Nairobi International School of Theology we, as in LIA, hosted a going away and commemoration celebration. The Mi2ers and other LIA staff also went to a unique pre-marital gathering as well.

First up, the former LIA Kenya director of two and a half years, Dr. Steve Muhindia was congratulated for moving on in his ministry, we as a team are looking forward to meeting up with him again when he joins the medical camp in Makueni.

Secondly, we were sending Joseph and Alice Mulaa off from their work in Thika, Kenya to work with the Bethal Church organization in Jamaica. Let’s start off by saying they are in good hands. Pastor Dean has been staying with us. He leads the team there in Jamaica and was coming to start the transition process for the Mulaas. These native Kenyans are not strangers to foreign missions. Previously they stayed in Cairo, Egypt for two and a half years, shortly in Uganda, a stint in Rwanda, and then to Thika where they were serving with LIA and praying for the call to go once again. They insisted to God that they go before they hit their “prime” time to settle down during the middle of their life. “Settling means you are done, let us never settle, even if we are in the same place for 50 years or more”, Joseph said. The call came, when the opportunity to spread the holistic gospel message was begged for by the Jamaican Church. This small island has the highest amount of per capita churches and homicides. Something is going wrong. 70% unemployment wreaks havoc on the land. They need the church to come back to life and give life that only Jesus can give, as well as an abundant life on this earth.

Sad statement of the day, was referring to this church gone cold scenario. A pastor prayed, “Let our Kenyan Church not grow tired and dead like the Churches in Europe and America”. The “God Bless America” was playing several notches softer in my head thereafter, very sad realization.

Talk about hearing the call. Alice had a story that I wish I could replicate. She wrote in her journal of a dream over four years ago while in Egypt that her mind had forgotten. After struggling through their decision between Finland and Jamaica and the end result was the island nation, but her heart was still weary. For some clarity she was going back and searching her notes. Four days into the year 2005 she found a dream that she was going to a Caribbean country to minister to couples punctuated with a question mark. Talk about affirmation. What I have noticed is that when you are spending that much time close to God, it isn’t hard to hear his voice.

Lastly, but surely not least, Gus and Rose(LIA staff) are getting married on Aug 8th. Since we will be flying back that day and unable to make the ceremony, we wanted to be as much a part of the preparations as possible. Tonight they had a special committee meeting. Once a week the planners meet up in the back room of a fast food restaurant. This week, family, friends, co-workers and guests were invited to join. It was much cooler than a bridal shower, but I’ll start there to get a picture going in your mind. We all crammed in a room, they had an MC, he introduced a particular group, and then they gave. Pretty simple actually, but of course this gets more interesting. Everyone was dressed up. The person who gave the most got to be the guest of honor. And the conclusion was the auction of some root vegetables. Just to let you know, Holly couldn’t resist, and won the largest arrow root.

It has been such a pleasure to get to experience so many cool things. These events don’t just happen every day at LIA, but are rewarding to witness when they do occur. We had fun, inspiring, and laughter-filled time with our international family today.

Nathaniel (Thats what Gus likes to call me now)