Although Team 1 is safely back in the US after about 30 hours of traveling from Cairo, I thought I should do a final post before Team 2 begins their blogging. We were having problems with internet connections and lack of band width at the clinic where we stayed, so apologize that we were not able to get photos up. We also lost electricity a couple times, the last one being the night before we left, and it was off for about 19 hours. That was difficult because Dr. Rose was not able to get the last of the dental instruments sterilized, and things put away as nicely as she had hoped. We left in another rain storm with lots of mixed emotions, were reconciled to the fact that we did not get to lay even one block on the new dorm. However, the staff seemed very appreciative of the variety of things we did accomplish from helping with computer problems, varnishing doors, arranging library books, sorting bins of clothing, conducting workshops for the teachers, working on the water control system, etc. We made it safely, (although with another flight delay), to Cairo on Sunday morning, the 25th. Carolyn and William Farag (Elim missionaries) were there to greet us and had arranged a wonderful 2 days of touring, with a Christian guide who referenced Bible verses in with his commentary. We were awed at the Cairo museum by the King Tut exhibit, visited the Church of the Holy Family where Mary, Joseph and Jesus stayed during their exile, got to ride camels at the pyramids (a highlight!), had a faluka ride on the Nile, toured the Pharoahnic Village (replica of the times of the Pharoahs), and enjoyed the Farag’s hospitality at their retreat center, Fountain Gate. They are truly lights in this troubled nation. Sadly, the tourist economy has still not bounced back, so there is much hardship. For Bill and I, it was especially a nostalgic time as it had been 41 years since we were there as teachers at the American School in Alexandria. Now we are grateful to be home, but even more grateful for those who are called full time to serve the precious children at In Step, the 11 other orphanages in that immediate vicinity, and who knows how many more orphanages throughout Kenya – all of Africa, and the world? The needs are even more monumental than the pyramids, but we rejoice that God has called many with compassionate, faithful hearts to do the day to day hard work. We were just holding their arms up for a very short while, like Aaron and Hur did for Moses. Humbly Submitted by Carolyn Pollock
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Addendum to Sunday’s Blog
(I was supposed to write the entry for Sunday, but Bill beat me to it. I am including it, mainly for the quotes.)
Team One – July 20 – Blogged by Robert Perez
A few quotes from our team members as we were waiting for our pickup to Martin Shikuku’s church service/grand opening of new Johabeto buildings:
“At the bottom of the stairs, there is one of those big beetles, but I don’t have energy to kill it.” – Carolyn Pollock
“It’s the size of a turtle, or a reptile. I’ve never seen one that big” – Becky Roffe
“It looks like it could hurt somebody” –Melody Carlin
“Even duct tape can’t fix stupid, but it can muffle the sound” – Bill Pollock (as he was reading a text sent to him on his cellphone)
Today is Sunday and we have made much progress in various assigned tasks and duties. We also have found time (and energy!) to keep things light-hearted and funny, as the above quotes indicate.
Although a few of us are sick, we have been very grateful for the strength and wellbeing to clean, cook, laugh, smile, lay plastic conduit, sing and play with the children, pray for each other and the staff workers, clean and polish teeth, and many other tasks. It is good to be active and productive in the Kingdom of God, even in small matters.
End of Addendum
Team One – July 22 – Blogged by Robert Perez
The Dental Team continues to see patients, until the late hours of the evening. Their endurance and stamina are amazing. It appears that once the people hear there is a dentist in the area, they seem to come out of the woodwork (or cornfields!) and so far, no one has been turned away. Bwana asifiwe for our Dental Team! (We owe them a large sausage pizza!)
Last night we lost electricity in our buildings and in the surrounding area, for nearly 14 hours. We have no idea for the cause but were grateful when power came back the next morning. (The Dental Team was still working on their last patient when this occurred, but they brought out flashlights and finished with the procedure. There was a very good picture taken of their working in the dark, so be on the lookout for a photo posting.)
There was a problem with one of the water lines feeding the main building of the orphanage this afternoon, causing a complete loss of water. It took the efforts of Adam, Jeff, and Bill until late in the evening to resolve it, but it was successfully completed. Tomorrow some work needs to continue on this water pipe, but as of this evening, the orphanage has running water. (Where can you get a good roll of Teflon tape when you need it?)
We had some good news today: our team was tested for malaria by Julia, the orphanage nurse, and not one of our members tested positive. Mungu asifiwe! According to Julia, we are the first team whose members have all tested negative for malaria.
Thank you to everyone who has been praying for our health and productivity. Your prayers are being answered by the Father.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Team One – Day Six -- Blogged by Bill Pollock
Today is Sunday and a change of pace. Some who were still in need of rest stayed at In Step. For the rest of us it was a day trip and a celebration. We took a trip to the Johabeto Home to be part of the dedication with the Martin Shikuku family of their new campus. They had planned the dedication for August but when Martin learned we would be here this weekend he moved it up so we could be a part of the celebration, and quite a celebration it was. Four years ago our teams came to Kitale to help build new dormitories for the orphans that Marin and Ruth had taken in. Then last year came news that Kenya Power we taking that property to use for a right away for an electric transmission line. They paid for the original property but the Shikukus had three months to find new property, build new buildings and relocate themselves and the sixty orphans they care for. Today we visited the new site and were part of the dedication which included cake cutting and ribbon cutting. They held a service first with over 100 people and the usual amazing singing and dancing. This was followed by the dedication ceremony. Dignitaries included the area chief, many area pastors, representatives from the ministry of education and the human rights commission. The speeches included high praise for Martin and Ruth and the work they are doing. Each of the members of Team One who were there were given Hawaiian style leis to wear for the celebration. They already have new dorms and class rooms in place. The campus is bigger than the old one. The buildings reused much of the material from the old campus but they too are bigger and better, now including indoor plumbing and electricity which were lacking before. The next plan is to open a technical school on the campus. God has certainly taken a crisis and turned it to an opportunity. For me the event was touching and nostalgic. Martin was supported and sponsored by my parents when he was young. The new dorms are named the Ted Pollock dorm and the Dolly Pollock dorm. They had framed pictures of each of my parents to hang in the living rooms. We also got to see Shikuku children Carolyn and Bill named after Carolyn and me. A news article in a local paper says that the Shikukus plan to take in as many as 140 children. We know that any children who end up there will be loved and cared for in a unique way.
Friday, July 18, 2014
Week One-Day Four-Thursday
Hi everyone-----it’s me Caroline McKay: Exciting, exciting, exciting!!!!! Doing dental work on these children is such a huge blessing! So, our plan was to have more children’s teeth taken care of today but God had other plans----seems that has been the case since the beginning of this mission trip. So, the construction project is coming along slowly but coming along just the same. But the dentistry is happening as quickly as dentistry happens. J After spending the day working on some broken equipment Todd Pedersen, better known here as Dr. Todd, will be back to working on more children’s teeth tomorrow alongside Dr. Rosemerie Teachout, Melody Carlin, Beatriz Teachout and myself. This morning we went to the classrooms so Dr. Rose could teach proper teeth brushing & give the kids their new toothbrushes & their prize (a pencil) for brushing the right way. These children look forward to seeing Dr. Rose because she gives them prizes: cool sunglasses, toothbrushes, pencils, hair accessories, and more plus the ultimate prize at the very end for brushing their teeth for three days in a row is: for the boys a soccer ball for their classroom and a jump rope for the girls also for their classroom. Just to see these children smile and get very excited about their prizes is such a blessing. Being here was truly a gift that I never could have imagined would have taken place for me ever, but Praise God, others in my life saw fit that I should be a part of this team and made that happen. For that I am truly grateful!! So, Kim Leach has been working with the teachers and some of the students doing what she does: speech pathology!!! Robert Perez is our IT guy along with working on building some tooth brush holders with his “assistant” Becky Roffe. Some have also been sanding doors prepping them for varnish, while some like Angela Berardi have been covering books for the library, laminating worksheets for teachers, while yet others are doing clothes mending, like Carolyn Pollock, still there are others working on pump repairs, like Bill Pollock and Gabrielle Johnson is our “resident” photographer, she has been spending lots of time with the kids and with us taking hundreds and hundreds of photos. And then there is Adam Pollock, the do everything that needs to be done guy!!!!!!! So much has been accomplished. WOW- what an amazing group we have here and what a complete team we make…….need something done??? Ask us we’ll get it done----maybe not in our timing but always in God’s time J J
Thursday, July 17, 2014
My name is Angela Berardi and this is my first time at the In Step Children's home.
I cannot believe we are already six days into this trip! There is no doubt in my mind that God has gone before us and is with us. From Rochester, NYC, London, and finally arriving in Kenya, God predestined multiple conversations and situations to assure me that He is there, He is in control, and because of those two truths, there is nothing to worry about or fear. These encounters greatly increased my faith and boldness as well as prepared my heart for the mission field currently set before me and the one I will enter when I go home. If I took the time to elaborate on each divine appointment, this short blog post would surely snowball into a novel. So, to save your time, I’ll share a couple with you now.
We had just begun our plane ride from Nairobi to Kitale when a woman in our group, who was seated next to me, started reading a book called, “Woman, Thou Art Loosed”. I curiously inquired if the title of her book was quoted from a verse in the Bible. She replied that it was from Luke 13:12 and proceeded to recite it for me. Immediately afterward, a man sitting directly in front of me turned around and began to engage us in conversation. He overheard that we were talking about “Luke” and asked if it was the book of Luke in the Bible. We replied that we were indeed discussing the book of Luke and he began to ask us where we were from and what we were doing in Africa. After we had shared with him what we were planning on doing, he thanked us and began to share a bit about himself as well. He revealed that his name is (Apostle) William Kasee and that he is a pastor on his way to share to gospel to a people that have never heard it before. Pretty radical, right? To us, yes. To him, this is typical behavior.
William spends himself and his time reaching the lost and broken all over the world through sharing the good news and through the gift of healing. He listens for God to give him direction and goes, relying fully on the provision of God alone. He has converted numerous Muslims in Pakistan, has brought healing to the paralyzed, has been jailed for preaching the gospel, etc. Basically, he is the 21st century Paul…and he’s awesome. To me, it was so encouraging to see someone who actually takes Jesus’ commission seriously and lives it out loud not only in word but in deed. His passion to know God and make Him known was not only contagious but clearly could be seen emanating from the inside out. He was an empty and willing vessel that desperately wanted to be used by God to reach others FOR God, and I was reminded yet again how that is exactly the type of person that God uses. It’s not those who use eloquent words or those with a lot of money or fascinating talents. God doesn’t look for those that are already equipped so that they can be called to serve Him. He equips those for whatever purpose He calls them to.
While we were praying after yesterday's Bible study, the words “a desperate people” kept coming to mind. I wasn’t (and still am not) sure if I’ve arrived at the full revelation from God on what this means, but so far, this is what I have: God needs us to be empty, broken, willing vessels just like our brother William. We need to be as desperate for God as we are for water when we’re thirsty. God doesn’t want visitation rights on Sundays. He wants full custody of our hearts, minds and souls 24/7. Not only should we be desperate FOR God but there should also be a righteously desperate fire in our soul that NEEDS to share the very good news about Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection with others. How can we hold the treasure of eternal life and not be stirred to share it? Evangelism is simply one beggar telling another where the bread is, and for us, that bread is the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.
Now, about the Rehema In Step Children’s Home! We arrived at the home fairly late last night, so we basically went to sleep immediately after we ate a quick meal. I was woken up this morning to the sound of children laughing and squealing. Let me tell you, after traveling for many days in various ways, hearing their laughter was the most beautiful and most wonderful alarm clock I could have ever asked for and I could happily wake up to their voices every day for the rest of my life.
I spent the majority of my day meeting the children and learning their names and faces. In the afternoon, I was asked if I wanted to hold some babies. For anyone who knows me (and for anyone who doesn’t know me), the answer will always, always, always be “um…YES!”. What I had thought I agreed to being sitting in a room at the orphanage turned into sitting in a U-shaped backseat of a big van surrounded by babies and heading to the clinic 10 minutes down the road. At the clinic, a few children (1 newborn, 2 babies, 4 toddlers) were tested for Malaria and two came back positive (which is not uncommon). Two of them needed shots and I was the one who held them. I watched them squirm and cry and I felt utterly helpless and broken for them.
Tears began to well up in my eyes and anger started to take root in my heart. I was thinking, “their parents should be the ones holding them, comforting them, telling them everything will be all right…not some random, white girl from America” (although I am definitely not complaining). I felt so burdened for them. They are so undeserving of the trauma that they've already faced in their short life. I began to make a mental list in my head of all the things I wanted to do for them. I wanted them to feel loved and cherished and whole. I wanted to give them new socks with no holes in them so their toes and soles of their feet don’t stick out anymore. I wanted to find a doctor to come heal them immediately. I wanted to protect them. I wanted to right the wrong that’s been done to them. I wanted to fix them. And that’s exactly when God revealed to me that He doesn’t want or need me to fix them; He simply is asking me to love them like Jesus would…and not only that, but also to be like them. Fixing and caring for their heart is His job. Getting peed on while holding them and wiping rice off their faces during dinner and boogers from their nose and doing it joyfully is mine. He wants me to have childlike faith. He wants me to depend on Him for love, protection, and provision. He wants us to learn from these children, who are content in the face of much adversity. We need to learn to be able to say, “no matter our lot, ‘it is well with our soul’.”
This mission trip isn’t anything like what I expected. Before this trip, I asked God to teach me and reveal Himself to me through these children, but I didn’t realize He would grant that prayer so powerfully and as creatively as He already has. I guess you could say that I’m wonderfully broken in all the right places for these kids.
“Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names…see their faces…hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.” – David Platt