On November 1st for the first time in the current unrest in Kenya a serious incident occurred in a neighbouring region to KSM. Sadly 20 Policemen were killed as a result. Previous attacks had taken place on the coast, 600 miles away. This was five days before we departed and the cause of some apprehension as we flew out of Dublin on Thursday 6th.
It was already getting dark as we arrived at Sunbeam Children’s Home on Saturday evening. Trundling down the track to KSM we experienced the second flat tyre of the day and that’s not to mention the loss of drive that occurred leaving Kisumu just a few miles into the journey! However all this was forgotten about when we were met by 40 smiling and very excited children dressed in their night clothes.
The next day, being Sunday, we attended Church after which we spent time with the children before resting in preparation for the activity of the days ahead.
Each day followed a similar pattern for the both of us. At 3pm the children finished school. At this point we got involved by providing a time of praise followed by a Bible story. The children enthusiastically joined in with the singing as well as participating in praying and Bible readings. After this we supervised games/craft time, especially creating loom bands, until the children’s evening meal and bedtime.
Each day following the Spirit led worship and Bible teaching of Protus at the staff prayer meeting Richard worked in Rainbow Academy. There he taught Geography to the Primary School pupils as well as observing lessons and offering advice and ideas to the staff. This was gratefully and appreciatively received by the teachers who were always keen to develop their teaching skills. Richard felt a bit of a heel as the school holidays were delayed for a week so that lessons would be taking place during the time he’d be in Kenya!! Imagine the uproar in N. Ireland if schools were instructed to do something similar by DENI!
For an hour after lunch Richard also helped the adult ancillary staff at KSM with English speaking. All who attended appreciated the opportunity to improve their level of English. Some had very little English and depended on their own children to complete their ‘homework’ as they were unable to read or write. So enthusiastic was this group that some even came to lessons on their day off!
During this time each day Jennifer was involved in a range of activities. These included some administrative tasks for Ellen, the purchase and making of drapes for the Prayer Centre, arranging for the storage of the children’s clothes as well as repairing and altering them – especially the swimming costumes, and the supervision of the children as they created and wrote cards to their sponsors.
Of course not every day followed the same pattern. Sundays by their nature were different. At the Church services it was delightful to hear different groups of children contribute by way of worship songs and the recitation of Bible passages. On the second Sunday after lunch we enjoyed a fun day for everyone, including the children from the local community. This was organised by David. Non-participation was not an option and an essential part of the activities involved the adults getting wet – much to the delight of the children! Ironically part the way through proceedings it rained as only it can in Africa and everyone got a good soaking anyway!
Continuing with the theme of physical activities, a day at a swimming pool in Kanduyi was organised for the children. This was to be the first time at a pool for not only the children but some of the adults accompanying them too. What a memorable day! Not only was the facility and its surroundings great but the whoops and yells of delight that originated from the pool said it all, everyone had a great time. All relaxed afterwards by tucking into a plate of chips accompanied by a fizzy drink.
On a less energetic note Richard held a men’s conference in the Prayer Centre on the second Saturday of our stay. The conference was based on the theme of ‘Revival through Brokenness and Renewal’. Credit has to be given to the guys who got through all three sessions while being slowly cooked as the sun burned through the corrugated metal roof! Hopefully they found the experience both beneficial and challenging. Judging by the positive comments and requests for the conference notes God appeared to have spoken into the lives of those attending. If nothing else they had the benefit of a wholesome lunch provided by the girls in the kitchen!
The day before we departed Rainbow Academy held its prize and Nursery graduation ceremony. This was a totally unique education experience for us. We’ve never experienced such a joyous, informal and rewarding but yet informative school event. It was such a privilege to attend every minute of the three hour occasion located as it is in a remote region of Kenya.
Both of us have such pleasant memories of our trip. We remember the friendly reception we always received, not to mention the humility of everyone and the frequent expressions of gratefulness for us coming out to Kenya and contributing to their situation. More specifically we remember the spontaneous sounds of harmonious worship emanating from the children’s home as they gave their praises to God before turning in for the night – truly ‘a hairs standing on the back of your neck’ experience.
Lastly it’s thanks to God for His care and protection. This was apparent in the following ways. Despite the Land Rover having mechanical issues on virtually every trip we never failed to reach our destinations. Added to this there were the successful transfers at Heathrow where our incoming flights were significantly delayed. Indeed our connection for Dublin was still waiting even though we boarded at what should have been take off time! Unbelievably, despite the short time available for the transfer, our checked-in bags made it through to baggage reclaim at our final destinations.
We may have taken a week to recover on returning home and we may have missed many of our creature comforts while in Kenya but the rewards and satisfaction of the trip made it so worthwhile.
Big thanks to Ellen for accommodating us throughout the trip.