Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What this is all about

On June 7, 2009, a group of 15 Christians from the US will spend two and a half weeks in Kenya. This blog is meant to be my own personal travel log of that trip. I have plans to journal each night of our travels, and a blog seems to be a convenient place to keep a journal (particularly if friends and family back home have some interest in how things are going).

The reason I have titled this supposed travel log "Musings on Kenya" is that I know myself well enough to foresee that I'm not going to be particularly good at keeping an actual travel log. If you are interested in what we are actually doing each day on our Kenya trip, you're probably reading the wrong blog. I think several other team members will be keeping travel logs as well, so maybe they can fill you in on the day-to-day activities. I foresee my travel log looking more like a series of philosophical essays on social and cultural issues prompted by our travels in Kenya (with perhaps a good dose of economics and politics thrown into the mix). Then again, I may surprise myself and end up keeping a travel log after all. I guess we'll see. But I wouldn't expect anything other than "Musings on Kenya".

Anyway, "Why is this group of 15 Americans heading to Kenya in the first place?" you may ask. Well, there are several different things we will be doing once we get there, but the primary purpose of our trip is to make Sam's Place a success.

Sam's Place is an orphanage and school for deaf children that my local church congregation is building near Kisii, Kenya. (It's very close to Lake Victoria on the western side of Kenya.) We have been planning it for several years now, buying the land, drawing up the plans, preparing the local leadership team, and doing everything else necessary for the undertaking of a huge project in another country. The main dormitory and classroom area for the orphanage is almost complete, and we plan to begin accepting children by January of 2010.

A team from the US visited Kenya last year (I didn't go on that trip), and We plan to send a group to Kenya each summer to train and support the teachers and oversee the operation. This summer, of course, because there are no children or teachers there yet, we have some other preparatory activities to do:

  • Work and plan with the Kenyan leadership team of Sam's Place

  • Observe, inspect, and help with construction of the dormitory

  • Immerse ourselves in the Kenyan deaf culture to help us better understand the people and culture we will be working with

  • Meet and minister to the neighbors of Sam's Place (by holding a children's camp)

  • Support and observe our current missionaries in Kenya

  • Minister to the youth of Eldoret by hosting a youth rally

  • Develop ideas for future work in Kenya

I know this sounds like a lot to get done, but we are taking 15 people with us. I guess I could tell you in advance some of the details about where we are going when, who will be doing what, and how we are going build a two-story concrete super-structure with no power tools, but then you might not come back and read any more posts.

Also, even if I did tell you all the details in advance, I would soon have to eat my words. You see, this is Africa, and Africa is kind of different from America. They aren't so interested in things like calendars and schedules and doing things by the clock. So, we are going to need to be pretty flexible with our travel plans anyway. And if we miss a half day of Sam's Place construction time because some local authority decides that the toll for driving down his stretch of highway is that the travelers have to get out of the van and plant trees along the side of the road, then we are just going to do our best to be patient and cheerful, say "T-I-A" and modify our plans and expectations accordingly.

Our group leaders have taught us the phrase "T-I-A", This Is Africa, which is a good thing to keep in mind if you happen to be in Africa. When in Kenya, we are the foreigners, and whatever plans and expectations we may have must continually yield to the values and etiquette of the culture we are visiting.

Lord, grant us strength and courage to be patient and joyful in every situation, and at all times and in all places to be instruments of your peace. Amen.