Here we are in Kenya, Wednesday, August 1.... on Monday Bob Hall and I traveled about 30 hours to get here. Our jets traveled from Des Moines to Detroit to Amsterdam to Nairobi. Tomorrow we take a small jet from Nairobi to Malindi where I will be training pastors through the "Pathways to Understanding" Bible curriculum. This course is on the gospel of Mark.
One small story from the plane ride... I was sitting next to a government worker from Amsterdam. Her job is to oversee monies given by the Dutch government to various African organizations to make sure that there is some accountability for how the monies are spent. As we visited she asked about why I am traveling to Kenya. I explained that I will be teaching from the gospel of Mark.... and there was a pause in the conversation. Awkwardly she looked at me and said, "Should I know what 'Mark' is?" This question came from an intelligent college educated European woman who had attended a bit of church in her childhood years, but obviously is not a Christ follower. This conversation was toward the end of our plane ride so I only had a little bit to explain what the gospel of Mark is about, but perhaps I peaked her curiousity to investigate further.
Today we took a jet tour of Nairobi (metaphorically speaking). We drove through downtown, by a large soccer stadium, and then we stopped on a hill overlooking the Kibera slum. Kibera is one of the largest slums in the world, occasionally mentioned in the news or by high profile people. You can read about some of the conditions on various websites. Just go to wikipedia for a starter, and look up “Kibera.” There you will find sentences like, “Kibera is heavily polluted by human refuse, garbage, soot, dust, and other wastes. The slum is contaminated with human and animal feces, due to the open sewage system and the frequent use of "flying toilets". The lack of sanitation combined with poor nutrition among residents accounts for many illnesses and diseases.
I will let you do your own research and reading on the “flying toilet.”
We didn't walk into Kibera, though the people we were with have both been there. In fact, one of the people we were with is part of an organization called Community Health Evangelism, a para-church organization that combines community health with Christian outreach. This organization is also working over in eastern Africa and in several other countries. They have just begun to work with some of the pastors and churches in eastern Africa where we are doing our mission work. We had a good conversation on how to raise local motivation for community devlopment. The latest trend in missions is to invest in people rather than in church buildings or in making people from Africa and Asia dependent on western support. So, we visited with how this organization accomplishes this. If you would like to do some more reading on this approach pick up the book, “When Helping Hurts.” On the web you can go to the Medical Ambassadors International website, http://www.lifewind.org/ or go to http://chekenya.org/ where you can see pictures of some of the Kenya representatives of the organization with whom we met.
I am having problems posting a picture of Kibera, but you can find many pictures on the web.