we met Harold and Annetta Miller, long time missionaries
in Africa. They currently work as MCC reps in Sudan.
They took us to a newly built, largest in Africa,
Hindu temple. It was my first time at a Hindu temple.
We were required to remove our shoes and observe silence,
but we whispered anyway. Before going into the temple
we saw an exhibition on Hinduism and the country of
India. The exhibition was elaborate and educational.
Though I don't agree with Hinduism, they hold many
of the same values that Christianity holds and I enjoyed
hearing their perspective.
One thing that hit home for me was a statement that
said if every American cut their meat consumption
by 10 percent, the grain used to feed the animals
could feed millions of people around the world. As
Christians, how can we deny this and not change our
lifestyle? The temple itself was very ornate with
stone and wood carvings. The interior was entirely
wood, and was carved in India with wood from Kenya.
I wonder how many millions they could have fed if
it wasn't so ornate. A Hindu man told us about the
religion, the temple, Lord Shaminarayan, and answered
our questions as some people worshipped near by. I
had learned some things about Hinduism in classes
at EMU, so it wasn't totally new to me.
The most interesting thing to me was overhearing the
5th successor to Lord Shaminarayan talk with Ben Tyson.
He spoke English well, was very polite and told Ben
a little about Hinduism and it's presence in the US
The conversation ended soon after Ben told him our
group was Christian. I thought, "Yes, right on
Ben," and I wondered if I would have had the
strength to do the same.
We then went back to the guest house and Harold and
Annetta talked to us more about the history of Christianity
in Africa and the relationship/ debate between Traditional
African Religion and Christianity. I enjoyed hearing
from them and learning from their experience.
we got up early and headed to Nakuru National Park.
It was a relaxing day full of new experiences, sights,
sounds, and smells. It was like a drive-thru zoo with
no cages, or tacky gift shops. There are also no elephants
in nakuru mostly due to it's small size and we didn't
see any lions either. But the highlight of the day
was seeing a leopard. There are only 40 leopards in
all of nakuru, plus they're nocturnal so to see a
leopard is rare. It was the first time Krista had
seen one in her many trips to African game parks.
We saw many zebras, giraffes, rhinos, impalas, flamingos,
water buffalo, and even a nesting pair of ostriches.
We also enjoyed other beautiful birds and the exotic
African landscape. A favorite place of mine was the
Baboon Cliffs where we ate lunch. It is a high place
overlooking the lake and the rest of the park. From
there the flamingos looked like a pink blanket over
the water and the buffalo like black dots. It was
a great day, an unforgettable experience, and very
was my birthday, and I hadn't mentioned anything to
anyone because I didn't want it to be a big deal.
Apparently that didn't matter because my dad made
sure Don knew about it and slipped him some money
to use for my birthday. When I arrived at breakfast
there were two presents and a card waiting at my place.
Plus, some of the girls had written a short birthday
song in the van Thursday, and they sang it for me.
The gifts were an African shirt and a book entitled
When Lions Could Fly. The gifts were very thoughtful,
and I especially liked the shirt.
that morning, two professors from Daystar University
in Nairobi came to the Guest House to talk to us about
Islam and Muslim presence in Africa. They are Christians
themselves and so they had some interesting perspectives.
I think I got the most out of their talk when they
asked the rhetorical questions: What does it mean
to be American? As the world gets "smaller,"
do we need to redefine citizenship? With the direction
we're heading, where will we be in 20 years? I think
those questions are very valid for our Christian walk
in a global context.
the afternoon, we split into two groups and toured
downtown Nairobi. My group stopped of the site of
the former US Embassy, which was bombed August 7,
1998. The government of Kenya, the US, and other countries
have financed the construction of a memorial park
at the site. Seeing the memorial brought back memories
of September 11, since I didn't have any recollections
of the Embassy attack. Over 218 people died that day,
almost all Kenyans, but I don't remember it as an
event that caused much concern back home. However,
it's very special to the Kenyan people, and they are
honored when Americans visit the memorial.
we returned form our city tour, I was told that we
were going to go a on a driving tour and eat supper
on the road. I thought that was a little strange but
went along without giving it much though. Well, as
I sat down in the van, I was promptly blindfolded,
and I soon discovered that we were going some place
special to eat. Everyone was excited, but I didn't
know what to expect. They kept me blindfolded all
the way to the restaurant until I got out and was
standing in front of the sign. We were at Carnivore,
one of the top 50 restaurants in the world, where
they serve all-you-can-eat meat of game-park animals.
just been to Nakuru, we were able to remember what
impala, water buck, zebra, and ostrich looked like
before they were skewered and roasted over the fire.
We also had crocodile, lamb, pork, beef, and chicken.
It was quite a lot of meat to eat in one meal. When
it was time for dessert, many of the waiters came
to my table, holding a piece of pineapple pie with
a sparkler stuck in it and singing an African Happy
Birthday song. Thankfully, there was another boy not
too far away who also had a birthday, and they sang
to him, too. It was all lots of fun, a great experience,
and made for an unforgettable birthday.
the past couple of days we have worshiped with a couple
of different church groups in various ways. Saturday
was a great day of fellowship with a group of young
adults here in Africa. We played volleyball first,
then moved on to other games throughout the afternoon.
We were able to eat lunch together as well as have
a couple times of joint worship between our groups.
It was great to see two groups of young adults from
two completely different cultures come together under
the uniting presence of our Lord and Savior. I can
only describe the uniting of our groups--the way we
came together in God's name--as miraculous.
Sunday morning, we attended Mathare Mennonite church,
which is a very small church located in the slums.
The worship went from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Some of
the people we hung out with on Saturday were from
Mathare, so we had met a few of them. The pastor preached
and a couple of people from our group spoke as well.
The songs were very spirited, and worship was much
louder and involved than I have seen or experienced
in a couple of years. I loved it. Even when the songs
were being sung in Swahili, which I can't understand,
I felt God moving through the words and the spirit
of the people. The service was especially interesting
to me, because I was one of the two people to preach
from our group. Don Tyson was the other one. Amazingly,
I was not nervous. I felt strengthened by the Spirit,
and I felt that He was working through me and what
I had to say.
the service, we had a fellowship meal with the people.
It was wonderful to see the kindness and love that
was shared by the brothers and sisters who live halfway
around the world. It was amazing to see all the food
they brought for us, even though we knew they didn't
have much money at all. When we were saying good-bye,
they made sure to wave and tell us to send their greetings
wherever we go. It was a wonderful time of fellowship.
a more personal note, this cross-cultural has had
many ups and downs on a mental and emotional level.
It was easy for me to be full of joy at one moment
and be frustrated the next. Every day has been incredibly
full of activities, and at times, it wore me out.
Friday was a turning point for me. I asked our leaders
if I could have the afternoon off, and as the rest
of the group went to the market, I stayed in my room.
I had four hours alone. For the first couple of hours,
I was not at peace with the roller coaster of emotions.
Finally, I admitted that I did not understand what
God was trying to do in me. All of a sudden, I decided
I was not going to allow Satan to hold me down anymore.
At that time, I felt God showing me that He is with
me. God let me know taht He understood what I was
going through. Since then, I have been just resting
in the Spirit and listening to what God wants me to
hear. It has been a wonderful couple of days because
I have been able to see the moving of the Lord's Spirit
in all our lives. I am blessed to be with this group.
In the past two weeks, God has taught me patience
and humility, and He has also brought me great times
of fun and joy. God is moving and working in and through
our time in Kenya wraps up, I have lots of mixed emotions.
We have had an incredible time here, learning to know
each other and ourselves. I think that most of us
have come to feel at home here in Nairobi and in the
Guest House, so in many ways, it will be difficult
to leave. I, personally, have felt God moving in ways
I didn't know could or would occur. He has shown me
His hand and His beauty in everything around me--the
people in our group, the Kenyans and their hospitality,
our surroundings, and so much more. The questions
that God has been raising for me are ones that I think
many of us have felt. What does God have for the rest
of my life? What is He trying to teach me here? How
does what I'm learning here make a difference for
the rest of my life? Yet, in spite of (or maybe because
of) all these questions, God is showing me that I
can trust Him with all of my life. In conclusion,
the amazing things that we've felt and learned here
in Kenya make it difficult to leave. I guess we can
also view it as a challenge, though, to take what
we're learning and apply it to our time in Zimbabwe.
I trust that God has so much more for us to learn--more
than any of us can imagine.
is ahead of us is very exciting. We leave this afternoon
to fly to Harare, and we will be at Victoria Falls
after that, before we move on to Bulawayo. My prayer
is that we will continue to see God's hand in so many
ways around us--in the astounding beauty of Victoria
Falls, the connections between people in our group,
and the worship of Mennonites from all around the
world in Bulawayo. We feel your prayers and would
appreciate your continued support as we move on from
Kenya into what is yet unknown. God is moving, and
we trust that He will continue to do so.