Wednesday, October 6, 2010

All About the 2010 Mission Trip to Meru

Dear Family and Friends,

What a faithful God we serve. Our just-completed mission team's trip to Meru, Kenya accomplished everything we had hoped for and then some.

Our main goals for this year's trip were:

  • To meet face-to-face with as many of the sponsored kids as possible
  • To meet with our Kenya-side leadership counterparts (which we refer to as the Hope Board members) to update needs and concerns, improve communication, and vision together
  • To coordinate administrative tasks between the UPPC Kenya Team and the Hope Board to ensure adequate accountability

We are amazed, and pleased, to say that we accomplished our first goal thanks to a day-long seminar held on the grounds of Meru Boys' School during a school holiday period. All but about 10 of our 130+ sponsored kids attended this seminar, an extraordinary turnout considering that they are spread over an area larger than Pierce County, WA and have limited means of transportation. This allowed us to distribute the pictures, gifts, and letters we had gathered from sponsors before our departure, and to obtain photographs and video footage of kids to share back here at home. The caveat is that trying to coordinate all of that (taking down names, grades and ages, taking pictures, administering gifts, obtaining letters back, etc, etc) with over 100 children all at once was a bit chaotic, and it will take a few weeks to sort all of this out. Still, we know we were able to see far more kids this way than if we had relied on driving to individual homes in the villages.

The seminar itself was a typical African event: everything on the schedule was accomplished, but not necessarily at the times originally planned. For starters, the seminar was shortened from two days to one to simplify travel arrangements for the families attending. Cramming everything into one day proved challenging, but possible! We were led by Reverend Elijah Mwirigi, one of the Hope board members; he navigated us through the program, making sure we had morning tea (actually served at 12pm), and lunch (served at 3pm) amidst the other planned activities. Breakout sessions included Sustainable Farming Techniques for the adults present, Study Skills & Life Goals for high school students, Sex Education for upper elementary and middle school students, and Games & Books for the youngest students. As a whole group, we also took time to hear testimonies and encouragement from a few alumni, affirmation from Peter and Josephine for the children and their guardians, and a nutrition lesson from Emily.

We did have opportunity to visit a few sponsored children at their homes. One of these visits that stand out was delivering a wheelchair to Dorothy, whose smile made the whole village light up. She immediately hoisted herself into her new chair, and was ready to try it out in her tiny yard. We hope that gift – given by a UPPC member who is wheelchair-bound herself – will provide Dorothy with some freedom, and provide her mother some relief from having to carry her everywhere.

During the days surrounding the seminar, we scheduled in times to meet with the Hope Board members. Two of the five members were unable to meet, one due to being in classes in Nairobi, and one due to his work schedule. Many of our questions about the ministry's needs, communication issues, and vision for the future all seemed to converge upon the need for a paid administrative staff person in Meru. Together with the Mburugus, the Hope Board devoted time to the preparation of a job description for such a person during our time in Meru and this is currently under review.

It was especially helpful for us to visit the current Hope office in Meru. We checked out the office computer, learned about wireless internet options, and walked through the logistics of disbursing the funds we send from sponsors every trimester. We also discussed possible options for assisting graduates seeking funding for university studies, as this has been unchartered territory for this ministry to date.

Other highlights of our trip included delivering Vacation Bible School blankets to children at Meru General Hospital's HIV/AIDS clinic, visits to Nyumbani AIDS Orphanage, Kazuri Beads, and International Justice Mission in Nairobi, and a visit to the Nairobi slum of Kibera to see friends of Emily's. We also took three days to regroup and rest on safari at Lake Nakuru and Masai Mara National Parks (personal expense for each of us, not a mission trip expense). So amazing to see the vastness and beauty of God's creation in Africa!

Of course, it is impossible to include all of our favorite memories and experiences in one letter, but for those who care to read more stories and insights, and see a few pictures, please get online and peruse Emily's travel blog:

Though the weather was gloomy – temperatures in the low to mid-60s, and wet; very unusual for late August in Meru – and we did experience one (short-lived, thank God!) episode of sickness, we all feel like our whole trip was covered with the Lord's protection, provision, and direction. Your prayers were heard, and your support was felt. Thank
you, from all of us on the team, for trusting our call to travel to the other side of the world to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We truly felt "sent" by a gigantic circle of encouraging friends and family. Mungu akubariki sana (May God bless you richly)!

In His love,

The UPPC Kenya Travel Team: Emily Bosh, Karen Lau, Peter, Josephine & Joy Mburugu, Bob Mohr, & Greg Yuckert

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