Monday, October 28, 2019

Our Lego & Real House in Mikinduri by Jack

Hello from Kenya!  Hamjambo!  I am writing to tell you about our house in Mikinduri.  I will tell my story with photos and captions.  I hope you enjoy it!

This is the back room in our house.  I did not have enough pieces to make the closet.

This is the the hallway where our bedrooms are located . 
My Dad and Mom's room, my sister's room and then our room.

This is our kitchen and very cramped bathroom.

 This is the view of the whole house without a roof.

This is me on the kitchen counter with my creation.
This is our cozy but nice dinner table.

This is our sink where we do the dishes and a bar of soap.

 This is a better view of our Lego made clothes drying.

Another angle of our kitchen and the grey thing in the back is our stove and oven.

This is a view of our backyard with a washer.
This is the real deal clothesline in the real backyard.

 This is the shower head that heats the water as we use it.

This is where the school and us burn are trash.
Here is Michael protecting the fridge with no electricity.
 This is the real washing machine FR. B gave us.

 Here is the view into the backyard from the backdoor.

Here is the legomania with me and Michael.
 This is the view in the back bathroom from the door.

This is where we do schoolwork with our teacher.....Mom.

Here is Michael sitting on the couch with his box.

 This is Katelyn sitting in the family room.
 Here is the view into the real kitchen....very nice.

Here is where put food scraps to feed to the parish pigs.
 This is the water filter where we get water from to drink.

Here is my Mom sitting at the dinner table.

 This is our fence and gate to make sure nobody gets in the house.

 Here are our friends from the neighboring school.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Our 1st Visit to the Girls' Orphanage in Nairobi

I read online that there are over 200 different slums in Kenya's capital city of Nairobi and that approximately 60% of her total population considers the slums their home. Although disturbing, this statistic doesn't surprise me after seeing slums that extend as far as the eye can see.

As a matter of safety we intended to remain on the bypasses, which go around the slums, as we traveled from one part of Nairobi to another; at least until we became comfortable with our new environment.

One day we ventured out to find a shopping plaza using Google Maps.  As you probably know, this app allows users to choose "the fastest route" or "the shortest route"; one can even indicate if he wants to travel on toll roads or not.  However, there isn't an option that we're aware of for avoiding certain types of neighborhoods.  So, we followed Google right into the middle of Kibera, Nairobi's largest slum.  I wasn't sure if this was the fastest route or even the shortest route, but it definitely was the most authentic representation of what life is for millions and millions of Kenyans. 

Against the better judgement of some, I'm sure, we drove slowly with our windows down, smiling and greeting the folks we passed in Swahili.  Some smiled back, others pointed; most just stared.

There were a few moments that we felt compelled to pray especially hard for protection against whatever evil may be lurking.  For example, on one very narrow, twisty road we came upon a small mountain of rocks blocking the way.  The people watched, wondering what we would do.  Perhaps our vehicle could have made it over, but we weren't willing to risk getting stuck.  The bystanders giggled as we made a 14-point turn around in the tiny little space.  There was nothing for us to do other than laugh along with them, which I think was refreshing for them to witness.

As we've become more familiar with Nairobi's layout we've learned the general location of the larger slums.  All praise be to God, we don't feel afraid to travel through them when we 're directed by Google to do so - usually to avoid waiting in traffic for hours and hours on the "regular" roads.  As we've driven through these very, very poor communities I've felt drawn to the people there.  I long to sit on a bag full of sand, outside of a humble little shop, and talk with people about how Jesus can help them to deal with their hardships....however, I know that now isn't the time.

We took this photo right outside of the gate of the girls' orphanage.
Last weekend we visited an orphanage in the slums that is run by a congregation of nuns who rescue girls from sexually abusive situations. Some of the girls are victims of human trafficking; some were abused by those caring for them after their parents died or left; while others were simply unsafe in their own homes. One of the nuns drove with us to the orphanage, which worked out perfectly. Together, we navigated the slum's narrow streets and twisty turns until we finally ended up in what seemed like the "projects".  This is a really nice part of the slums in which there are multi-story apartment-like buildings where people can rent a room or even two for their families to live in.  I was told that these housing units usually have running water and even indoor plumbing.

When we passed through the front gate of the orphanage compound we warped into another world: green grass, trimmed bushes, flowers blooming all around.  A really friendly nun greeted us, directed us to park in front of their living quarters, and insisted that we join them for we did.

As we were enjoying our chai and biscuits, the missionary nuns told us about their orphanage: how/when it was founded, what responsibilities each of them have, the ways in which they find the girls, the legal regulations that guide their work, and so much more.  Below is a photo of one of the girls' dormitories.

During our visit we learned that the nuns have a private, all girls, high school on campus, but it is atypical for the girls living with the nuns to attend because most have been reintegrated into their families before reaching secondary school.

In the distance you can see the high school. 
It's not a very good photo, but it's the best I could do
because it was pouring rain when we left.

The nuns have extensive training and experience in the process of reuniting children with family members after they've learned to deal with and overcome the hardships of their particular circumstances.  Ignorant of this aspect of adolescent therapy, I asked a lot of questions.  I now understand more about the direct correlation between a girl feeling like she belongs to a family, even if it's a dysfunctional one, and her overall emotional well being as an adult.  When the nuns explained their goal of reuniting the girls with their family members I was shocked and could only imagine them returning to the nightmares from which they were rescued.  However, this is not the case.  I learned that this amazing group of nuns works hard to find a person in each girl's family who is responsible, healthy, loving, able and willing to care for the child after she leaves the nuns' home.  By law, the nuns are able to have each child in their care for a maximum of six years, which is a significant amount of time in a child's life. 

After our orientation we finally got to meet the girls.  They came to the pavillion in the middle of campus, shook our hands, stated their names, and politely sat on the benches around the outside edge.  We knew that we needed to do something to break the ice; so, we taught them the animal game that we learned from our friends at the Lord's Ranch in New Mexico.  Within moments the ice was broken and everyone was giggling.  Some were elephants and others were crocodiles, but all were having fun!  To see a short YouTube video of us playing this game, click the following link:

As we were playing the animal game it began raining. This was no surprise because we've entered into the rainy season during which it rains every single day and all night, every night.  It was a good time to transition into our next activity ~ Katelyn and Anna singing the Our Father in Swahili, which the girls really enjoyed.

Next, Anna shared a bible passage that the Lord gave her earlier that day in her personal prayer time.  It was from the prophet Isaiah and reminds us that God's love is free.  The girls were very attentive as they listened to Anna's beautiful reflection.   When Anna was done she (unexpectedly) invited me to share a bit from my bible.  In that moment I felt especially thankful for the discipline that I've had these last four years to read my bible every day.  I thought about how Jesus tells us to always be ready to give reason for our hope.  I was ready - I quickly flipped to John 8:32 which says, "the truth will set you free" and spoke to the girls about my love for God's Word, which IS the truth that sets us free, gives us hope, and makes this life worth living.

When we were all done the girls wanted to sing us some praise and worship songs.  One was in Swahili and another was in Kimeru.  You can see a video of their performance if you click on the following link:

An African Song of Praise at the Orphanage

The last song that the girls sang was in English.  Within seconds I realized that we knew the song that they were singing, which blew my mind.  Imagine....these girls here in Kenya have been praising God with this song and at the very same time my family has been in Peru, Mexico and the United States singing the exact same song, to the exact same God.  As you could have probably guessed, it made me cry.  The way that the Holy Spirit moves in the hearts of people all around the world simultaneously is beautiful and amazing!!

Before we left I took a picture of my family with all the girls and some of the nuns so that we can remember the time we had to share with them.  I'm not sure whether or not we'll have the chance to visit again, but that's alright.  I felt peace as we were leaving, knowing that we were able to reinforce all that the nuns are teaching them about God's unconditional love for them.

Frank Summers, the co-founder of our missionary organization, has told me that "the success of missions is measured in lifetimes."  At various times over the course of these last several years I have interpreted this in different ways.  On this particular day, as I reflected on Mr. Frank's insightful words of wisdom, I felt grateful for the opportunity to be one of the many people who will help the young ladies at this orphanage come to know the living person of Jesus Christ.  I felt thankful for the chance to contribute, if even in a small way, to the success of the mission here in Kenya.

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to support us financially 
so that we can continue serving those in need, please visit:


call Family Missions Company at (337) 893 - 6111.

Thank you and God Bless!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Inculturation: Learning the Kenyan Culture by Chris

When you look up the definition of inculturation, you will find a definition like this: the gradual acquisition of the characteristics and norms of a culture or group by a person. 

This is my first time on the African continent and there is a lot to learn....not just about Africa but specifically about Kenya and more specifically about the Ameru people/tribe that live in the Diocese of Meru. 

FMC taught us that one of the first things we should do when we arrive at a new mission post is to learn the culture. This takes time and it is a rather slow process as we need to be cautious not to offend anyone with some of our cultural habits or norms. As you may have read in Anna's post on language school, we are learning Swahili (technically Kiswahili) as the Ki before is the way to refer to a language. (So in Meru, the language is Kimeru). Along with learning the language, we need to learn how the people use it....which is much different from English. We had this issue when we first learned Spanish in Peru...we would try to translate an English phrase (especially me with a joke or an idiom) and it would simply not translate. We need to learn their similar phrase or joke or their version of the idiom. This takes time....  I have spent time reading the Kenyan newspapers on our break between classes in the local library...
This is the library named after Blessed Joseph Allamano, from Turin, Italy, who was the founder of the Consolata Missionaries.  He was the reason the Catholic faith came to most of Kenya.  He was beatified October 7th, 1990. 
The newspaper is usually 1-2 days old but that is OK for me!
...and reading books about missionary activity in Kenya... this book, for example...

"Ad Gentes" is Latin for "To the Nations"
...and watching the Kenyan news in Kiswahili... help with both the language and to know what is going on. I can tell you that we witnessed corruption in Peru when we lived there and guess what....there is widespread corruption here as well. It is so rampant that the average person has the attitude of "what can you do?" Transparency International does an annual ranking of what is known as CPI "Corruption Perception Index" and Peru is ranked as tied with a few other countries for 105th least corrupt country out of 180. Kenya is tied at 144th. At the very bottom of the list are the neighboring countries of South Sudan at 179th and Somalia at 180th. 

There are many positive things happening here but sometimes the good news can be lost amidst all of the bad (not unlike watching the news or reading the newspaper in the U.S. or anywhere else for that matter).  The Consolata Missionaries have done a lot of great work here in Kenya for the past 100+ years but as the church has grown, so has the needs of the church which unfortunately has spread the human resources thin on the evangelization front.  That is hopefully where we can help!

I have been trying to strike up conversations with locals about current events and issues they face (all in Kiswahili, of course). I usually can go for about 10-15 minutes until I run out of Kiswahili verbs & nouns that I know and I have to resort to English. I hope this continues to get longer and longer as time goes by. 

 As we have mentioned the first step in "Forming Intentional Disciples" as Sherry Weddell writes about in her book by the same name is to build a relationship based on trust. I feel like all the years I worked in sales in the automotive industry the starting point was the same, to build a relationship based on trust. It all starts somewhere and I have been trying to understand the issues and concerns that the local people face on a daily basis so that I can walk alongside them and hopefully the Lord can use me to help them along the way. Please pray that we can all become inculturated here in Kenya, learn the local languages in order effectively minister to the people by building relationships based on trust.

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to support us financially 
so that we can continue serving those in need, please visit:


call Family Missions Company at (337) 893 - 6111.

Thank you and God Bless!