I am back in the States (what everyone else in the world seems to call the USA) and I am trying to find a good opening line for my recent trip to Kenya…and failing horribly. With that in mind, I guess I will simply jump right in.
On November 26th, I left Amurica and traveled to Kenya, our first stop was in London (where we had an 8 hour layover so we (Doug, Robert, and I) did the tourist thing and walked around the city for a bit. I was very excited for this because I have never been to Europe even though I have always wanted to so badly.
We took an hour long ride to the heart of London to first find a place to eat before visiting Buckingham palace. We found out quickly that things in London are a bit expensive. Meaning, we ate a dinner that cost the 3 of us about 60 dollars.
The pasta I had was good…but in all reality, not THAT good. Strike one on us for not figuring out the exchange rate beforehand. Just so you know, 15 pounds is about 20 dollars…
ANYWAY, after our lunch the guys wanted to get Starbucks (because that is obviously not something that we could get in America…sorry Doug and Robert) before heading out. We ended up at Buckingham Palace just as it hit dusk, and the place is absolutely beautiful.
We then arrived in Kenya the next day, where we met a few other missionaries. The first two, Evans (Kenyan) and Boyd (Amerikenyan), were men that worked in the largest slum in Nairobi. The other man, Fred Mendoza (aka Doc) is a Dentist who does (surprisingly) Dental missions in Kenya and a few surrounding countries. He was going to go with us on our adventure and I was glad because he was a cool guy.
We packed our 40 bags into the back of Docs CRV at 8am and went to the Mendoza fortress to kill time while we waited for our next flight to Kitale. It was to leave from a small airport at 12:30 so we had (or so we assumed) plenty of time.
What we didn’t know was that several East African presidents were in town, so the 30 minute trip to the airport lasted 2 hours and 30 minutes. Needless to say, we missed our flight.
Not a great start to our trip.
We ate supper (I actually had pizza, and it was surprisingly good for African pizza) and did the drive of shame back to castle Mendoza. Honestly, I was so exhausted at that point that I would not have cared if we were hit by a meteor…I just wanted sleep. We took a quick nap then walked around the area and met a few locals, and finally went to bed early.
The next day we left even earlier (because we were NOT missing the next flight) and landed in Kitale around 1:30.
We were met at the airport by our two Kenyan contacts (Paul and Geoffrey) and were quickly whisked away to our first meeting. As glad as I was to get that extra day to rest, it did mean that we had some ground to make up due to our lateness.
This is when I first was able to experience what it was like to drive in Kenya. At this point in my life, I was under the delusion that Johannesburg, South Africa held the worst drivers. I was completely wrong though.
The two lane ‘highways’ are how everyone gets anywhere. While driving, one must share the road with bicyclists, motorbikes (50 and 100cc, so the top speed is about 30), cars, 18 wheelers, and matatu’s. There is no shoulder, so the bikes and motor bikes become obstacles that you swerve around and so you pass other vehicles with only a foot (many times less than that) of space between. Most of the other cars and 18 wheelers are so dilapidated that they can only drive about 20 mph at best.
The last group is the matatu’s. These are minivans from the underworld that have 14 people squeezed into them, and drive like angry teenagers. They get paid by the trip, not the hour, so safety takes a backseat to getting more shillings. They constantly cut us off, forced us off the road, forced others off the road, and even hit us once but kept driving. Simply put, the idea of pleasure driving in Kenya is nonexistent (also, the $6 per gallon gas doesn’t help).
ANYWAY, we made it to the first church and started our journey.
For the next 4 days we would wake up in the morning, drive (all the while praying that we wouldn’t get hit or hit anyone else) and speak at churches. The plan was to minister to small groups of leaders to tell them our vision and try to connect with those of like mind. The hard part of mission work in Africa is not finding people that want to talk to you , but rather finding people that would like to work with you.
It is not that Africans are lazy (far from it); the truth is that they tend to not realize that they have the same authority in Christ as westerners do. They see us as the spiritual superheroes that have a secret knowledge that allows us to batman away the ailments of their society. Change cannot come from the outside. Meaning, it is not the muzungu (white person in Swahili) that will change a culture, rather the change must be initiated and birthed from within the Kenyan culture.
I see this too often in churches in America.
People think that only a select few ‘pastors’ have a spiritual maturity, so they go once a week to church and try to eat from the scrapes of the Last Supper in a vain hope that their life will improve. Some even spend an hour in a Bible Study, and listen to the wise sage teaching the lesson to try to decipher a way that will make God speak to them more.
The fact is that when you receive the Holy Spirit, when you accept Christ, you have the fullness of God inside you (Colossians 2:9-10). Your life is not a scavenger hunt to obtain the prize of authority; it is the unpacking of the gift of the fullness of God. It is like working out once a week and wondering why you are not in shape. The weekly gathering (sometimes known as church) is not the place where you are supposed to be ‘filled up’ by God; that filling comes by reading (actually reading and meditating) the word and spending time with God.
Church won’t fix your life. Spending time in a small group won’t fix your life. Putting your problems on a prayer card won’t fix your life. Listening to Christian radio won’t fix your life. Reading a devotional won’t fix your life. These things help, but only spending time letting God change you will fix your life.
The church at large is impotent because that is what we have chosen. The church is incapable of impacting our society because we have yet to let it impact our own lives.
I say all this because it is what drives our message in Kenya. We are there not to change their society, but rather to help transform the believers in Kenya so that they can begin to transform their community. We don’t know the all the issues that plagues a rural African community, but we do know the God that can guide them to alleviate those issues. God wants to change Kenya (as well as everywhere else) and we were there to help them understand that God can use the local people to accomplish this.
I will get off my soapbox now.
This has summed up my first week in Kenya. Part two will be coming shortly and I thank you for your interest in my life thus far. God revealed so much through this trip and I am happy to share it with you. Talk to you in a few days.