Tag Archives: Kenya

Unwrapping Up

Our time in Kenya is coming to an end. But that didn’t stop us from unwrapping some gifts from God. We taught our last full day and then headed out to greet some people.

So what exactly have we been doing here? Why are we in Kenya teaching on church planting? Good questions. Let’s back up and look at that.

That's me teaching.

That’s me teaching.


We are here in Kenya teaching at a MINTS center. MINTS is an organization that provides sound reformed biblical teaching material to those areas where that kind of teaching is not available. MINTS does this in two ways.

The first way is to collect biblical classes that various people have written. They make them available for anyone to take and teach on at the various centers (with the writer’s permission). This makes what to teach simpler for a lot of teachers.

The second way is to empower local believers to run centers. Running a center takes minimal resources because they don’t have buildings but ‘borrow’ existing buildings for a week or two at a time. The local who runs the center helps recruit students and teachers to come for the selected times during the year. I have been to several now and its simplicity is beautiful and of course easily reproducible.

MINTS believes in the locals and the quality so much that they grant degrees for those completing the work. This makes it very attractive to local pastors. It also makes getting good teaching and degrees a lot more affordable. Because the centers only run a few weeks at a time it also helps answer some of the issues faced with residential schooling.

Visiting with a student and his family.

Visiting with a student and his family.

Bruce teaches and works at a residential Bible college/seminary. Yet he also travels to these centers to help teach in other parts of Africa. He does this because the two models work well together. As a matter of fact Abraham is a former student of Bruce’s. Abraham graduated from Westminster Theological College (now known as Westminster Christian Institute of Uganda) and moved to his home area with the vision to bring the kind of teaching he received to local pastors.

The class we are teaching on this week is church planting. This is a topic of particular interest to me. I want to see lots of churches planted because churches are beacons of God’s glory (Ephesians 3:20). Thus to shine this light to a lost world, the best way is to plant churches where people do not know Jesus. That’s why I pray these students go back home and plant more churches with more biblical insight.

After class on Thursday, we had the opportunity to greet a student in his home and then 350 widows and single mothers gathering for a conference. It was a wonderful tour of rural Kenya. It was also a very encouraging time getting to meet with them.

First we stopped by a student’s home. Hospitality and welcoming people into your home, especially visitors, is a big deal in Africa. Some of the students have come from far away and some closer by. This student fits into the latter category.

Of course tea was offered. I am told that there are 3 tea times in England. But Abraham says that in Kenya, every time is tea time. Also chapattis were consumed. Yum. Apparently the kids outside were laughing at me. I went into the kitchen to see it and to greet the wife. Kitchens are separate from the main house in this part of Kenya (as well as much of Africa). The husband told me the kids were laughing because white people don’t go into kitchens. I was unaware. But apparently that is the perspective of white people here. Who knew?

We had heard of a widows and single mothers conference taking place nearby. So we decided to stop by and see it. We should have known better but ‘seeing it’ turned into speaking to, greeting, and praying for them.

This is what a room full of widows and single mothers giving a thumbs up looks like zoomed in!!!!!

This is what a room full of widows and single mothers giving a thumbs up looks like zoomed in!!!!!

As we entered the building we stood in the back. That wasn’t good enough. They escorted us to the stage to sit up there. On our way up there you would have thought I was a well-known speaker. Everyone was offering a hand to shake. But it is very important to greet visitors – especially obvious visitors from far away (we’re looking at you white skin). It was a privilege to greet so many widows.

When it was my turn to speak I butchered a greeting in the local language. I then told them that their bright smiles – and to be sure they were smiling wildly and expressing amazing joy – were a testimony to me. Being a widow or single mother is difficult for many reasons. Hence the special instructions to care for them in the Bible. Being a widow or single mother in Africa adds a lot of other challenges. So their joy despite any issues they may be facing is a testimony to me.

I also had them sing ‘Mambo Sawa Sawa’ which is a song in Swahili that we sang often at church in St. Louis. It is a simple song but says that things are already better because Jesus is on the throne. Hearing this from widows makes its meaning much more rich!

We left that time and commented on how encouraging it was. More for us than them. But Abraham said they were very glad we stopped by to greet them. Whether or not they were blessed I can’t be sure. We sure were blessed. Please pray for these women as their conference continues until Sunday. Then next August they will meet again. Amazing! I told you we got to unwrap some of God’s gifts.

Saying goodbye.  Thumbs up from our hosts and their guests (and a neighbor).  Bruce, Abraham, Kendrick, Concillia, Judith, relative, neighbor, Steven

Saying goodbye. Thumbs up from our hosts and their guests (and a neighbor). Bruce, Abraham, Kendrick, Concillia, Judith, relative, neighbor, Steven

Then came our last night and morning at Abraham’s. He and his family have been a real blessing. Judith made chapatti mayai (pronounced like ‘my eye’). That is an egg mixed into the chapatti batter and then cooked normally. It is the Kenyan version of the rollex. Since the egg is mixed into the batter perhaps it could be called a ‘rollin’. You’re welcome for that. But we had to say goodbye to this wonderful family. We will then teach for a bit and then head back to Uganda. Pray for safe journeys and that the Lord would use our time here in Kenya for His glory. Oh and this is the last dispatch. Let the jeering or cheering begin as fits.

Another picture of Abraham, Judith, and children.

Another picture of Abraham, Judith, and children.

What a cute house!!!  I love the flowers!

What a cute house!!! I love the flowers!

This is what a room full of widows and single mothers giving a thumbs up looks like!!!!!

This is what a room full of widows and single mothers giving a thumbs up looks like!!!!!

It's a crane convention.

It’s a crane convention.

We met at a primary school during vacation.  The teachers, as usual, work during vacation to make teaching materials.  These ladies were next door to us.

We met at a primary school during vacation. The teachers, as usual, work during vacation to make teaching materials. These ladies were next door to us.

Thumbs up from our wonderful host family.

Thumbs up from our wonderful host family.

Our living quarters for our week in Kenya.  Good bye.

Our living quarters for our week in Kenya. Good bye.

What a view!!!!  God is good!

What a view!!!! God is good!

This is what a room full of widows and single mothers giving a thumbs up looks like!!!!!

This is what a room full of widows and single mothers giving a thumbs up looks like!!!!!

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Dairy Farming 101

God likes to connect dots. Like with Paul with Barnabas who God connected to form a great church planting team. No church planting duo here, unless it is teaching on church planting. Then that is what Bruce and I are. We are just not sure how dynamic the duo is.

But I digress. A pastor from the PCA called MTW about a ministry he had partnered with in Kitali, Kenya. This place happens to be about 30 miles from where we are. So it was a no brainer to run over and greet those at the ministry.

Bruce and I with Isaac with the church in the background

Bruce and I with Isaac with the church in the background

While there we got to meet Isaac. He helps run an orphanage and pastors a church. The orphanage was started in 1994 and now helps take care of about 52 children. It is a wonderful ministry to the least of these.

Part of what he is looking for is the help pastors get training in the Bible. Abraham runs a center training pastors (which is why we are here this week). So the dots are just now beginning to be connected. We thank God for this providential meeting.

Cooking for that many people requires large cooking areas, pans, and utensils. Bruce was happy to hop in and help make some ugali (Kenyan posho). But seriously, these are big pots and vast amounts of food. This is also true at the school where we are teaching. There is a picture of a giant pot filled with maize and beans – or it could be ‘a maize bean’ pot. Say it fast and it sort of sounds like amazing. Please forgive the puns. I think it is because I am surrounded by so much corn (maize) that the corny side comes out.

Bruce can't wait to eat the ugali he is cooking (notice tongue).

Bruce can’t wait to eat the ugali he is cooking (notice tongue).

I was not to be out done. I had watched Judith, Abraham’s wife, do it that morning. So I invited myself to do it later that evening. When I got home she made sure to remember. Then I heard her calling Taliya, their dairy cow. I also saw Judith carrying a spoon of Kimbo (Crisco) and a small bucket of water. I knew it was time.

I must admit I had a few nervous moments. I have never milked a cow before. But here I am with a spoon of Kimbo staring at a cow’s teat. I am out of my depth. Give me a room of 100 and ask me to teach the Bible and I am fine. But this. It is not my comfort zone.

Luckily she got me started. She helped wash the teat. I copied her actions. Then she told me to use the Kimbo. I got a little on my finger and it was greasy. Thus it does what it is supposed to do. I conjured all the moves and tv shows I have watched where cows were milked. I needed help.

Look out a dairy farmer is at work.

Look out a dairy farmer is at work.

So I just reached out, grabbed a teat in each hand, and started pulling. Milk. Ok. Milk again. Not so bad. I get alternating pulls like I have seen done. More milk. I am now a dairy farmer. And a comedian. Judith was laughing at the mzungu milking her cow. Her children also found this episode humorous. Abraham had to come over and continue taking pictures. Through it all I kept milking. I suppose ¼ of the bucket was filled under my direction.

I am blaming it on the positioning and my bad knee but I was getting tired. Judith happily came in as the relief pitcher. When she started it was like a waterfall of milk came pouring out of that cow. Mine was like a trickle. I thought I was doing so well. I was just pretending to be a dairy farmer. When she stepped in it was like I hadn’t even begun. That milk made it into the tea the next morning and I must say it is the best Kenyan tea I have ever had. Oh and keep scrolling for the pictures.

The church near the orphanage where they worship.  It is quite beautiful.

The church near the orphanage where they worship. It is quite beautiful.

Isaac showing Abraham and Bruce the boys dorm and cooking area.

Isaac showing Abraham and Bruce the boys dorm and cooking area.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

That's me teaching!

That’s me teaching!

Our cooks feed us well at our teaching.

Our cooks feed us well at our teaching.

Kitari.  Or as I call it amaizebean pot.

Kitari. Or as I call it amaizebean pot.

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About the only thing I will win at the dairy farmer's convention is best dressed - or better yet - most inappropriately dressed.

About the only thing I will win at the dairy farmer’s convention is best dressed – or better yet – most inappropriately dressed.

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1-IMG_4062

SONY DSC

I am pretend preaching in the church with Abraham as the pretend interpreter.

I am pretend preaching in the church with Abraham as the pretend interpreter.

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Kenyan Fall Festival

One of the things Brooke misses most is fall. With the changing of leaves to cooling weather to the fall clothes to football it all warms her heart. OK, maybe the football is more of my favorite things about fall. To be fair though she does enjoy a good football game which is awesome!

After class yesterday, Abraham took us to the weekly market. This is the market where people come from all over with their food and wares. It is much like a festival save for the funnel cakes and pony rides.

The Kenyan Fall Festival

The Kenyan Fall Festival

One person had a big bag of maize and I was running my hand through it. As I did I felt a cold chill and was reminded of football for some reason. With a chill in the air, produce being sold, and football on my mind it hit me that I was in something of a Kenyan fall festival. Except that it’s not fall, it’s not football season, I’m in Africa, and I am only about 70 km from the Equator. Other than that it was totally a fall festival.

Speaking of class, two paragraphs ago, it was my turn to do some teaching. These students are sharp. It is becoming clearer that I enjoy teaching and it is one of my passions. Whether or not I am any good is another question. But I do hope to get better and grown in teaching.

After class and the fall festival, we made a stop by the place where Abraham’s (our wonderful host) church worships God. It is a small mud sided building that shares pews/desks with a nearby school. The church started under a tree and moved a short distance to the current building. They have mostly built a nice and big brick church building but are waiting for iron sheets for a roof. You can see all three in two pictures below. In one picture Abraham has his foot on the stump of the original meeting place with the current in the background and in the other he has his foot on the stump with the future meeting place in the background. It is quite a look at the patience in church planning in Africa.

The church planting class gives a big thumbs up!

The church planting class gives a big thumbs up!

Speaking of Brooke, 5 paragraphs ago, we got to FaceTime right after lunch. That was quite the experience. I am in the bush of Kenya and she is in the big city in Uganda. It felt like she was in America in some ways. But I got to see her and Sarah and talk to them for a few minutes. Sarah was impressed with the cows in the background.

The week is progressing and Bruce and I are really enjoying our time in Kenya. Abraham our host is amazing and would be at home in the South with the penchant for southern hospitality. He even could teach a class on hospitality in the South. He is a big part of my enjoyment this week. Don’t worry Brooke, I am in good hands.

Look, Sam.  Lightening McQueen and thumbs up at the fall festival.

Look, Sam. Lightening McQueen and thumbs up at the fall festival.

That's an amazing amount of maize.

That’s an amazing amount of maize.

Our haul from the fall festival took two to carry.

Our haul from the fall festival took two to carry.

Some kids looking on as we look at the church building.

Some kids looking on as we look at the church building.

Bruce and I in the future worship space of Abraham's church.

Bruce and I in the future worship space of Abraham’s church.

More cranes

More cranes

Our class

Our class

It's just beautiful here!!!  God is good!

It’s just beautiful here!!! God is good!

Abraham with the future worship space

Abraham with the future worship space

Abraham with the current worship space

Abraham with the current worship space

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Introduction to Kenya

I don’t think I have stayed this deep in the bush before. Let’s just say there might or might not have been a peeping cow for a time in my bathroom. There is maize all around. I heard a crested crane in the middle of the night. The internet on my phone is slow when it is present. And to top it all there is an absence of Mountain Dew at the nearest trading center – yo. These are all things one doesn’t find in Kampala. But their presence here in the bush of Kenya are pleasant.

Bruce teaches on leadership qualities of a church planter.

Bruce teaches on leadership qualities of a church planter.

The day began with our dear hosts having hot African tea and bread available for our breakfast. Bruce thought ahead and brought a French press to make some coffee. I had bread with strawberry jam which was nice. Then we had to rush out the door to avoid being late. Thankfully we arrived at the stroke of the start time.

Bruce then proceeded to begin the class on church planting. There are about 12 people in the class. They are from various backgrounds. For some this is their first theology type class. For others they are using this class in the pursuit of a master’s degree. They are all lovers of Jesus.

Bruce beginning the first day of teaching.

Bruce beginning the first day of teaching.

I got to meet a lot of Kenyans. Most try to discern my level of Swahili. When the fact arises that I am limited to ‘hakuna matata’ then they all become language teachers.

One of the best things about learning a language is forgetting it. I am especially good at forgetting it even 10 seconds later. Many people throw Swahili words (and even local language ones) at me like a machine gun. The drive by language study is fun but my ears leave riddled with holes. But the others seem to find it amusing at my failed attempts to pronounce and remember the language. I always say, laugh with me or laugh at me but please laugh.

After lunch we went back to our host’s home. Just outside his house we spotted a Ugandan Crested Crane. It is the national bird of Uganda and is on the flag and currency and the national soccer team’s nickname is the Cranes. However, I have seen so many more here in Kenya. Don’t tell any Ugandans I said this but perhaps they should be called the Kenyan Crested Crane.

I quickly got outside to walk and to take pictures. Ok let’s be honest, it wasn’t so much a walk as a limp because of my knee. It really is beautiful around his home. His children, Kirkland (7) and Concillia (5), were quick to join me. They would say the name of the animal I was photographing in their local language. We spent about 20 minutes practicing the name of the Ugandan Crested Crane. I still can’t pronounce it. As we were walking around Abraham’s little girl, Concillia, grabbed my hand. I am not the touchy feely type, just ask my wife, but it was very sweet.

So while I might be deep in the bush without some of the things I am used to having God has provided wonderful hospitality, beautiful scenery, amazing students, and even the sweet hand hold of a 5 year old. So Bruce and I have a lot to look forward to this week.

Abraham's little girl, Concillia.  Heart melt!

Abraham’s little girl, Concillia. Heart melt!

Abraham's son, Kirkland.

Abraham’s son, Kirkland.

Our host's house and our quarters for the week.

Our host’s house and our quarters for the week.

Kenyan Daisies

Kenyan Daisies

Two Ugandan cranes in Kenya.

Two Ugandan cranes in Kenya.

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Making Our Way the Only Way We Know How

When you venture to another country why not throw in a two plus hour worship service in a city about 30 minutes out of the way, a two hour stop at the border, and a sit down dinner. But that’s just how we roll.

Bruce Sinclair and I are traveling to Kenya in order to teach a class on church planting. Bruce is the MTW team leader in Uganda and thus my team leader. It is a wonderful blessing to get to teach God’s Word to a sweet group of saints in Kenya.

Bruce preaches on Daniel in Tororo.

Bruce preaches on Daniel in Tororo.

Yet this opportunity requires a 6-7 hour drive. We left at 6:30 am in order to worship with one of Bruce’s former students in a city about 3 hours away. But not only were we to worship God with them but Bruce was also invited to preach. It was a wonderful experience to meet pastor Ben Okware and the congregation.

After the service we spent about 30 minutes visiting with the pastor in his home in typical African fashion. We then left for the Uganda/Kenya border. We were hungry as it was now around 12:30 pm.

Our driver suggested eating once we crossed the border. So we said that was ok. I mean how long could the border crossing take? My stomach would later rebel at this decision.

When we got out of the car our driver pointed ahead and said we needed to go to a building about 100 yards away. Because of my torn meniscus I have a crutch with me because my knee will hurt if I walk too much on it. I decided to leave the crutch in the car as the distance wasn’t great. I thought to myself that it wasn’t too far and I would be back in the car in no time. No worries or as they say in Swahili hakuna matata. Well there was matata. The distance was more like 500 yards as the building I though he was pointing towards was much closer than our actual destination. Rookie mistake. Don’t worry I made it again.

The first step in the border crossing is the get the exit stamp. So we filled out our departure papers and picked the shorter of two lines. Then a man decided he liked our line better. Bruce wasn’t as appreciative of his joining our line and gave him a slight shoulder bump while informing him of his lane change. After the line didn’t move for a few minutes he moved of both lines.

If only that man had gone to the back of the other line he would have finished 10 minutes ahead of us. Like in the grocery store, you want to pick the shortest line. Picking the wrong line leaves you angry with yourself and makes you feel like you lost the game. But when the other line basically laps you then you have really chosen poorly. We chose poorly. The irony is that another guy tried to cut into our line. This time I went into defensive maneuvers in order to protect our place. Let’s just say I was defensive MVP of the day.

My neighbors while worshiping in Tororo, Uganda.

My neighbors while worshiping in Tororo, Uganda.

The next step in border crossing is to cross the border and get the entry stamp from the receiving country. We met our driver at the car. He was working on his exit stamp and getting the mandatory insurance for the car to drive in a foreign country. As he was still working we thought we would walk to the next part of the process to save time. Did I get my crutch? That’s a big fat negative. Matata. The walk was much longer this time. While my knee did hold up well enough it was certainly getting tired. If you think I would learn my lesson but then you forget how thick my skull is sometimes.

Knee issues aside it was time to wait in line again. This time it was to get our entry stamp. The good news is that we didn’t have to pick a line. There was only one and it was relatively short. As a matter of fact we didn’t even have time to fill out our forms entirely before it was our turn. The short line didn’t prevent some people from thinking their line began in front of us instead of at the back.

Bruce and I each gave our paperwork, passports, and money at the same time. I am not sure why it took so long but the line tripled in length and width. I was designated to stay and collect both of our passports.

Two people from me, I saw a man wearing a kufi and so knew he was a Muslim. He also looked tired with me taking too much time. However, I decided to talk to him while I waited. His name is Osama and he is from Somalia. He asked about me and I told him I was a pastor. This brought questions about Jesus. Osama stated that Jesus wasn’t God. I told him that the Quran says to read the Injil (that is the New Testament) and that the Injil says Jesus is God. I told him the story from Mark 2 about how Jesus forgave sins and this is something only God can do. It was then my time to go and the passport stamper told me to keep preaching the gospel. I told Osama I would pray for him. I have and ask you do also pray that He would come to know the true God.

The end of the walking then arrived but the waiting wasn’t as the car needed more time. It was now 3:30 pm and no food had been consumed. It was about here that my stomach’s revolt began. My knee on the other hand was rejoicing. Joy in the midst of suffering.

From the border we made our way to Eldoret where we were meeting our host for the week in Abraham Kogo. This three hour trip was not slowed down by a stop for food. We couldn’t decide if we did eat if it would be a late lunch or an early dinner. So we just didn’t eat at all save the snacks that were already on board.

After meeting Abraham at 6:30 pm, we sat down to dinner/breakfast. I am not sure how to classify it. It was the first meal of the day but it was at 6:30pm. They didn’t have pizza so we went with meat samosas. A lost plate of French fries made its home at our table. It was at this point that Abraham informed us that his wife would be upset if we ate too much here and didn’t eat her dinner. So I put a brake on my eating because my stomach shrank and I was getting too full too quick. It was worth it as the meal at Abraham’s was large and good.

We left there and headed to Abraham’s house arriving at 8:15 pm. So after 13+ hours of travel we arrived at our destination. But what a wonderful trip it was. We got to worship with fellow saints and Bruce got to preach. We got to tell some Muslims and others about Jesus, and we got to have table fellowship with our Kenyan hosts. So the long trip was a good one and we praise God not only for our safe arrival but our wonderful adventures along the way.

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Teaching Theology

Oh How I love Thee

This past week, I had the opportunity to teach a class at Westminster Theological College. Our team leader Bruce Sinclair teaches there and paved the way for this wonderful opportunity. I taught 13 students a course on New Testament (NT) Survey. We covered topics such as the NT canon, the story of the Bible, and how the NT is the realizing of God’s promises made in the Old Testament.

I do love to teach and have the hand motions to prove it.

I do love to teach and have the hand motions to prove it.

The students are from different parts of Uganda and a few were from Kenya and South Sudan. They are involved in some ministry in their home areas. They have each come to study at Westminster in order to further their understanding of God’s Word. One student told me about a prison ministry he helps organize near his home. Each one is on the front lines for our Lord Jesus Christ. They bring a variety of experiences and backgrounds to the class.

I gave quizzes, written assignments, and a final exam. To be on the other end of the exams was very strange. Part of me would rather take the exam and do the homework. But honestly, I really tried to let those assignments serve as learning tools.

My mother was a student for one day and enjoys the wonderful view from the college.

My mother was a student for one day and enjoys the wonderful view from the college.

It is said that Christianity in Africa is a mile wide and an inch deep. I am finding this saying to have some truth to it. One of the biggest challenges I have seen in Uganda has been the lack of quality biblical training for pastors. Westminster serves the needs of Christ’s church in Africa very well and I get to play a small part in that.

In the movie Chariots of Fire, the main character is a runner and says that he feels the pleasure of God when he runs. One day, I came home and told Brooke that describes how I felt when I taught. Teaching is such a privilege and I praise God I get the opportunity.

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