The following updates have been sent by Jim Watson while in Kenya Africa.
I checked into the YMCA mid-afternoon yesterday after arriving in Nairobi and crashed. The Y is a bed and breakfast set-up. There is an older American man that seems to always be here. I have talked with him in past and decided that I would try to get his story, so I sat down and had breakfast with him. He was glad to have another American to talk to. His name is Tom and he is 78 years old. Tom has worked all over the world as a teacher and has been in Kenya for a very long time. He never married, has lived a very sparse life and invested most of his earnings. He evidently has done very well over the years with his investments. The increase has allowed him provide education funding and school improvements for many Kenyan children. He lives a very simple life so that he has money to help other people. He stays at the Y in a single room. He uses public transport to travel about. My time with Tom was short. He had to go to a meeting and I wanted to find a church to attend and find my way to Buru Buru to meet Tirus and Winnie. Anyway, Tom blew me away. He really didn’t want to talk about himself. There are quiet heroes in this world that we just don’t hear about. I attended a large urban Nairobi church. It is probably 4 to 5 times the size of our congregation. The place was ‘rockin’ and very inter-active!
The CHE training is very helpful. I have more insight into how to assist people at the village level without creating dependence. The training gives insight into how worldview affects the relationships that I am trying to build. The trainees in this session are made up of men and women from different backgrounds and tribes. There is much good-natured teasing between the different tribal traditions. It is great to see how the mind of Christ has transformed old rivals into brothers and sisters. I am convinced, more than ever, that ministry of compassion and evangelism must be balanced and that we must approach missions with a holistic strategy that teaches the truth of the gospel while at the same time empowering people to meet the needs of their communities. God, always, is many steps ahead of my constricted view. Tirus Githake and a team of trainers left Monday morning for the Lamu area to conduct CHE training. Winnie Githake is leading the training here in Nairobi. Lamu is North on the coast above Malindi. Once I found out that Tirus would be passing through Kilifi he and I decided that he should meet the CHE trained group from Daniels churches. I put Daniel and Tirus in contact with each other and they will meet on Saturday when Tirus is on the way back to Nairobi. Tirus will be able to assess the results of the training done in April and help guide the next steps. I couldn’t have planned things better. Sometimes you just have to start moving in the direction He calls you and then the plan begins to open up. Drought conditions continue to cause hardship in Kenya. Sometimes the water system in Nairobi is shut down for days at a time. We heated buckets of water this morning to wash as there was nothing coming out of the taps. Much of the livestock in some areas of the country have died. Food prices have escalated. I am anxious to get out to the coast and see how my friends are doing.
We finished the training today. Our 3 trainers and the 10 trainees have formed a sense of community. There is the joy of completion and yet some sadness as we will go our separate ways. Tirus and his team will leave Lamu Saturday morning. We have decided that I will fly to Malindi. Tirus will pick me up from the Malindi airport on his way down the coast highway (Lamu Road). That way I can participate in the meeting with the FGP people we trained earlier in the year. I have really enjoyed getting to know a man named Gaddiel Lekutit Ole Wuarrtai. Gaddiel is Maasai. He became a Christian against his father’s wishes. This took place at the age of 19. His education to age 19 was as a warrior and herdsman purely in the Masai tradition. He told his father that there were two things that he desired; first to go to church and second to go to school. His father and mother chased him away from home for some time. Gaddiel worked to raise his own school fees and started grade Standard 3 at the age of 20. He worked in between going to school and slowly advanced. Eventually, a head teacher assisted Gaddiel with school expenses. He completed Form 4 which is equivalent to High School in the States. He attended Theology School and is now about to finish a one year missions course. Gaddiel is now 35. He has become deeply committed in his faith. He started a church 6 years ago in his home community and is now on good terms with his father. He heads to Garrisa for a 3 month mission internship on Saturday. Garrisa is in the Tana River District inland from Malindi. The people groups in the Garrisa area have been generally hostile to missions’ effort. There are a lot of our cousins in the area that are very hostile. Pray for Gaddiel. I have promised Gaddiel that I will try to visit Maasailand and his family in the next two years. He is the Maasai version of Tyson Mbitha.
Gaddiel Lekutit Ole Wuarrtai
My training friends departed this morning. I traveled across Nairobi taking 1 bus and 2 matatus to get to the Kenya Bible Society. I purchased 35 Swahili bibles for the FGP ladies. The Bible Society wouldn’t ship the bibles for me. I will try to get the airline to give me a break or else get Winnie and Tirus to put them on the bus to Kilifi next week. I had to hire a cab to get them back as they would have been a bit much to handle transferring between matatus. I found the Nairobi office for Kenya Methodist University. Getting the contact information for the right people to talk in their Nursing School has been a bit frustrating, but I’m on track now. The campus that houses nursing is in Meru. Meru is located north of Nairobi several hours by bus. The decision to go to Malindi tomorrow has changed my plans, but I think the CHE meeting with Tirus and the FGP people is too important for me to pass up. Nairobi continues to sprawl out. So many people and so congested. The air pollution is tough to handle. I am so used to the clean mountain air we enjoy at home. I will be glad to head to the coast where I can breathe. I received an e-mail from Daniel today saying that Tyson Mbitha’s wife had a baby girl yesterday. Eunice had some complications and had to have a C-section, which was done at Kilifi District Hospital. There were no details; am praying that she is well. Roka village is a 40 minute matatu ride from Kilifi. Tyson and Eunice live about 1-1/2 miles off of the main track where they can get transport.
Kilifi It is almost 8:00 PM here and the local mosque is broadcasting the evening call to prayer over a loud sound system so that all of Kilifi can hear it. I will wake up to the morning call. Tirus and his team picked me up at the Malindi airport and we made it to Mtondia around 12:00 PM. Daniel, Pastor John (CHE trainer), and the FGP people that went through CHE Training Level 1 were waiting for us. We had a very productive meeting. The people organized the CHE structure for the whole FGP. They have become the FGP CHE Committee. It was decided that CHE committees from 11 identified sub-groups will be selected by the end of September. This will allow Daniel and the CHE leaders to inform the other pastors and answer their questions about CHE structure at the August training conference. Then there will be a month time of prayer. The time of prayer is for wisdom as the 11 sub areas go through the process of each choosing 3 people. The 33 (3 from each area) will go through a week long training to be CHE trainers for their areas. Tirus will bring a training team to Mtondia in October for that purpose. Tirus asked all of the participants to say what they got from their training in April. It was great to hear the responses. One older man said that he now realized that he could protect his family’s health better by some simple measures. He first cut down the bushes from the immediate area around his home. This would decrease the hiding places for mosquitoes close to his family. Then he dug a pit toilet. Then a rubbish pit away from the house. He is now building a dish drying rack. (When dishes are dried in the sun, the UV rays kill 98% of bacteria.) At the end of the meeting, Tirus asked the participants to make a commitment. They all agreed to complete 7 things that help define a healthy physical home environment (4 of them identified above). All committed to having these things done by the time the 33 area sub-committee members are trained in October. Tirus and the training team can then use them as examples. They are required to lead by example. Their families should also be healthier as a result! Their neighbors will take note. This first phase of introducing CHE is usually done in a single community and is designed to take 9 to 12 months. Phase 2 is development of a CHE committee and training them. This often is a 6 to 10 month process. We will have arrived at having a trained group (committee) that will oversee the whole FGP and trained sub-area committees in a 7 to 8 month period. This is God’s doing! You, Canon E-Free, are the way He has facilitated this. The investment you have made here has been a good one. After the sub-committees are trained, they will be required to develop healthy home environments. Then, they will begin to train individual CHE’s (Community Health Educators). Each CHE, and there is no limit on the number, will be required to create a healthy home environment. Then they will visit 4 neighbors and begin to teach about health. As they are accepted, they will do regular follow-up home visits teaching one physical and one spiritual lesson each time. I have described the bare bones structure we are using here. There is much more flesh to put to the bones. That I can tell you about when we meet face to face.
Tirus (foreground) meeting in Mtondia with FGP Tirus Githake (seated at right)
Bishop Daniel identifying 11 sub-areas that represent the now 35 FGP churches
The CHE meeting lasted several hours. Tirus dropped me of at Pwani University in Kilifi on his way. I settled in to the same room I had last year. There has been an improvement or two. The room now has a ceiling fan. This helps keep the mosquitoes at bay and me cool. Tyson and Daniel came around 5:00 PM and we went to the hospital to visit Eunice and the new baby. She is named Gift. Eunice is recovering and Tyson says, “Today she is smiling again”. She may be discharged on Monday. Tyson will be busy taking care of home and Eunice. Pray for them.
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