We started today off with a visit to the Hyrax Primary school. The size of this state run school took us by surprise as they have over 1,400 students in (what Americans would call) elementary school. Many of these kids from poor circumstances and desperately need the education that Hyrax offers. After we arrived, they surprised us by sitting together as a student body waiting to greet us. As we came out to make introductions, the team held their collective breath when Rev. Jeff was given the floor to speak. After introducing the team members, Jeff relied on his Young Life training and led the student body through pat-snap-clap-it-sounds-like-rain exercise (look on Facebook for the video).
Before we departed, several Hyrax people mentioned to us that the R.O.C.K. Bridge water truck regularly delivers water to the school. In order to emphasize our “parterneship over paternalism” philosophy, the R.O.C.K. Bridge water truck asks that the school pay what they can afford, no matter how small the amount. This arrangement allows for both the giver and the recipient to retain dignity and responsibility in the relationship.
From the school we headed to the Bagamoyo shop. This shop employs HIV-positive workers to make high-quality bags to support their ministry. The women were so friendly and the bags were so high-quality that our group had no problem justifying the purchase of many “gifts.” If you don’t receive yours, it probably means one of our team members is stylishly walking around work with it!
At lunch we ran into the owner of Bagamoyo Shop. And as it often happens in Kenya, she told us that she had already heard of our visit to the store and that the employees were very happy with our purchases. We told her that we were very happy with our bags!
After lunch we made our way to one of the highlights of our trip: visiting with Zablon’s Mom. As is Kenyan custom, even though we had just come from lunch, she insisted that we share coffee, tea, and buttered bread with her. It was such a special time of sharing conversation with an 80-year-plus woman who so faithfully loves God and the people that God has entrusted to her care. She beamed with pride over Zablon when she told the story of marrying her husband, his father. After that, she quickly asked for a story from us and Betty told a sweet story of meeting her own husband in the seventh grade. Although we could have talked for hours, we had guests arriving soon at our hotel...
Tonight we gathered with representatives of P.C.E.A. Nakuru West, the nursing college, and the staff of R.O.C.K. Bridge ministries for a delicious Kenyan buffet dinner. This was a time of celebration to remember how God led Zablon Kuria and Lane Alderman to build a partnership of ministry between the people of Kenya and Roswell Presbyterian Church. Cecelia and Phylis, the exceptional nursing students for whom RPC has provided scholarships, shared their appreciation and love for people they have never met. (The author did background research and discovered that these two women are two of the best students in the school!) We exchanged gifts, prayed for each other, and celebrated what God was doing in the partnership between RPC and the Kenyan people.
On the last day of visiting our partners, it was appropriate that we visited with those across the age spectrum of whom we are trying to serve and whom we are serving with. We thank God for our past and look forward to a bright future together!