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Beautiful Feet bring Hope and Opportunities (Day 4)

How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7

The term “hurry up and wait” means nothing here. That’s not a slam or an indictment, just an observation about the culture of many other countries outside of what we are used to. So much of our culture is driven to perform and to meet expectations that there is little time left for connections. I am not sure what time our neighbors awaken to be clear but as I get up at 6 am or so it seems as if life is already in full swing. The majority of the homes in our immediate area are made of long wooden posts covered in substance consisting mainly of mud that hardens as it dries and is fairly strong (except when it rains for many, many days. The majority of them do not have solar or electric power of any kind either, so the residents awaken as the livestock begin stirring. In fact, most of the extended Masha family live in simple homes in the area surrounding his home and mission house.

Here they are able to support one another and look our for the other, the same way that family, for thousands of years have done. There is nothing wrong with living in a neighborhood, but family as a community is a wonderful Biblical ideal of caring for each other and especially those older members of our family who may no longer be able to care for themselves.

This leads me to our Day 4 adventure at Jaboni Baptist Church. This is a church with two wonderfully distinct congregations. Two pastors with a heart for two types of “loving our neighbor”. One is your typical congregation of Kenyans, loving and supporting one another. The other is made up of unique individuals that are a part of the community of mentally and physically disabled persons. The crowd that gathered on the morning of our 4th day was made up of those disabled person and their caregivers. What makes this gathering difficult is the nature of their disabilities. Among them are twin girls, brothers, teens, and adult men and women. Despite the disability, all are kind and greet us enthusiastically. They know that we have traveled many, many miles to be with them and they also know that there will be medical care provided as well. Blood pressure checks, wellness checks as well as meds for hookworm. This particular type is not uncommon in Kenya and meds are not even available in the US without high cost ($700 per pill as it is not covered by insurance I am told). They have many other medicines, vaccines, and such that have been donated locally and medical items generously donated by Licking Memorial Health Systems.

Just before we begin the service, there is another delay. Such a large crowd has gathered that they need an additional tent. After 2o more minutes of waiting a pair of Tuk Tuks show up with tent posts and canvas strapped down to the top of their roofs. As the medical team continues to set up member of our team assist and are taught how to take blood pressure, weight in kilos, and other basic information. Other team members are then recruited and we begin setting up the large tent. For Americans it feels extravagant, for the Kenyans it is a celebration of a new church that has been planted and the excitement speaks of the importance of what is happening in their local village and they feel honored.

For many of these disabled individuals they are hidden away in homes, back rooms, and and because of the nature of their disabilities don’t have much access to travel or being outside. We handed out over 144 balloons in the shapes of dogs, swords, hats, and many many other creative shapes. Logan Durbin one of our team members teaches himself how to make other fun and complicated toy shapes that the kids also enjoy. A 4 foot latex balloon materializes and Michelle Lawrence plays a game with many children in tote. Music plays from huge speakers and neighborhood kids filter in as they are walking home from school.

After the tent is erected the service begins and many introductions are made. Everything is very formal and Pastor Frederick wants to emphasize how important these wonderful people are to the Americans seated with them in the tent. He imports dignity to them and as final introductions are made Pastor Danny (a man who is also disabled in his feet) welcomes us and everyone. He has been the faithful pastor of this people and relays his thanks for recognizing how important everyone here is along with their caregivers and makes a surprise announcement that 4 gifts will be given to start a business 14,000 Kenyan shillings or about $100 USD. They will be trained in an area of interest to them, a craft in which they can purchase materials and supplies to make something in woodworking, beading, painting, leatherwork, or other handcraft that they will be taught. Pastor Danny will also follow up to make sure that there is accountability for them to be good stewards of the money and opportunity.

After a few more minutes of talking, Pastor Gary preaches on Bartimaeus, a man not unlike themselves who proved to be faithful in seeking Christ and is rewarded for his faith in Jesus. He explains that they too will be rewarded for faith in Jesus by being able to receive spiritual healing, of much more value than physical healing. He says that even though many are able to see physically, they may never truly able to see Jesus and to have a relationship with Him. An altar call is given and a couple choose to surrender to Christ.

At the end of the service 3 team members are given seed money to prayerfully give to one of the persons who are disabled. It is humbling, and very emotional because many are deserving. These are the moments that we are glad to be prayed up. These moments on a missions trip is why we try to use ideal moments to connect in the Spirit and to receive Wisdom because this is not a light moment. This gift can change the trajectory of a person’s life. They are asked to lower their heads and close their eyes and the team makes their way to the people to give the gifts. We walk slowly through the chairs and each make a selection. For me, one man has already caught my eye long before I was asked. He is earnest in listening and their is a sweetness about him that suggests he is thankful to be here. As I draw close to him the tears flow down my cheeks and pepper the top of his head as I take his hands in my own and we weep together. So humbling. I don’t want to sound boastful in any way, I want to communicate this because I have a difficulty in connecting with other men due to my past history of abuse. This is another layer of breakthrough for me personally and we are able to embrace andI can pray a challenge over him. Luckily for me he responds in English and accepts my challenge to be found faithful with this opportunity. His name is Douglas and I commit to continue praying for him and his business. Please join me in praying for al four who have received gifts this day. The Kenyan pastors award the 4th gift to a member of the congregation that has been faithfully attending for many months despite the hardship of travel.

Many. Disabled persons and guardians are given medicine and prognosis and have the ability to followed up with in weeks to come. We continue to hand out balloons, hugs, many many stickers, and smiles. Just as quickly as it went up, the tent is removed and is placed now on another pair of Tuk Tuks and they sputter off under their massive load (these aren’t small tents). Lunch comes well after the noon time (around 2) and the team enjoys another delicious meal prepared by the Kenyan team. Our bellies are full, our hearts are full, and our minds have many things to consider about the goodness and faithfulness of God in these communities. Even though we will not be here to witness them in future months, the work will continue by the Masha family and local pastors of C.B.E.M.

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