Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Funny conversations in Kenya

Dad: "I used some of your shampoo last night, Jeff.  Thanks."
Jeff: "What shampoo are you talking about?"
Dad: "That green shampoo that was in your bag."
Jeff: "You mean you put the aloe vera gel in your hair?"
Dad: "Oh is that what that was? I guess that explains why it didn't lather."

Dad: "Cody, you are going to have to be more careful under that mosquito net at night.  You are getting eaten alive.  You're going to end up with malaria for sure."
Cody: "How am I going to get malaria?"
Dad: "That's how you get malaria.  From mosquito bites."
Cody: "Seriously?  Why didn't anyone tell me this?"
Jeff: "Looks like I need to take less for granted next time I do a pre-trip briefing."

Lance's Deaf Orphanage

My brain hurts.  Seriously, I feel like I just finished eight hours of piano lessons where I had to play with both hands at the same time.  That's what it feels like when I have to communicate using Kenyan Sign Language (KSL).  I can do it for a little while, but after going at it all day long I just overheat or something.

Today we took a break from the project site at Marera because we had other business to attend to.  There is a little deaf school and orphanage several miles down the road from Sam's Place; it's called Lance's Deaf Orphanage.  One of my assignments on this trip was to visit Lance's Deaf Orphanage and report on how things are going.  Huruma House does not directly support LDO or fund its operations, but last year we purchased a couple of dairy cows for the orphanage, so I was supposed to check things out.

Charles Otieno, a deaf Kenyan who oversees several of Huruma House's projects in Rongo, met us at our guest house this morning and we all piled into a public matatu for the ten-mile trip to Lance's Deaf Orphanage.  A matatu is a twelve passenger van that carries eighteen.  Cody Ben had to sit squeezed up against a young boy carrying a chicken.  The four of us finished the matatu ride safely but crumpled, then we began the mile climb up a sheer rock cliff to LDO.  (Ok, that's somewhat exaggerated, but it was a serious hike.)

When we got there we were greeted by the director Daniel Ogembo, a deaf man, who showed us around the place.  Everyone at LDO was deaf, our liason, Charles Otieno, is also deaf, and I was the only hearing person around who knew a little sign language.  Unfortunately, my sign language skills are really rusty, so we had to do a lot of guessing and finger spelling, but after a lot of patience on the parts of Ogembo and Otieno I think we finally understood everything they were trying to show us.  It seems to be a very well run nuclear waste processing facility, or at least I think that's what they said.  I usually have Stephen Greek with me to do all the heavy lifting in the sign language department and all I have to know how to say is stuff like "Where is the bathroom?"  But this year I kind of got thrown in the deep end and I had to figure it out on my own.  Dad seemed to have fun playing the charades game, too, and he was able to provide some valuable guesses about some of the finer points of nuclear waste processing.

Anyway, they have 92 rabbits.  We got to see them all, one at a time.  They also have two dairy cows.  One cow is doing very well, and the other needs a bit of medical attention (or maybe some heroin, I wasn't quite clear on that point).  Dad advised them that they should watch the sick cow another couple of weeks and if it wasn't doing better they should sell it and buy another milk cow.

This little school houses and educates 21 deaf orphans, 9 girls and 12 boys.  The conditions are pretty cramped, but it is much better than what they would have if there was no one to care for them.  Deaf orphans are the outcasts of this society.  They are often neglected by their extended family and left to fend for themselves, so I am so thankful that Daniel Ogembo and Mary Aluoch have taken these children in even on such limited means.  The deaf teachers at LDO volunteered here for four years with no salary until my deaf friend, Alex Abenchuchan, came along and started to raise some additional support.

I was very impressed with how much they could accomplish with so few resources.  They stretch every shilling and are making many efforts to raise their own food to help their little school require less outside assistance.  They also have an interesting philosophy of letting the orphan children return to their extended families a few weeks out of the year.  The idea is to make sure they have a familiar community to return to after they leave LDO.  Often the deaf children will have an inheritance or some family land that they can return to after graduation, but if the children are tucked away in the orphanage for 18 years they can easily be forgotten by their relatives and their community back home.

Also, there was a situation recently where a 12-year old neighbor boy stole one of the orphanage's dairy cows.  When the village elders learned of the crime they went vigilante and were about to douse the kid with kerosene and light him on fire.  Fortunately, Daniel and some others at LDO argued on behalf of the boy that stole the cow and they persuaded the village elders to have mercy on the boy.  Now both the boy and the cow are doing just fine and LDO is held in great respect by their community because of the way they intervened to show mercy.

Tomorrow, Keith Gafner and his two daughters will join us in Rongo and we will continue work on the poultry projects together.  We are so grateful to have Keith's expertise in this.  Also, Dad has been a real asset on this trip.  In the past, whenever people have started talking construction, my eyes just glaze over and  I smile and nod.  But Dad actually knows what he is talking about and he can have meaningful conversations with the CBO leaders about their construction projects.  He also has a lot of knowledge about raising poultry, and I am confident that these two poultry projects the CBO is beginning (a layer project and a broiler project) will be very successful and earn a lot of income for the community.

Also, we have located a very good place for our new Computer Training Center in Rongo's brand new "modern market" area downtown.  It is only going to cost about $40 per month to rent the shop.  Then we just need to buy a couple of desktop computers, a printer, and a few other supplies and equipment and we are good to go.  Daniel Magambo is going to use the place to teach computer course to the CBO members and anyone else in Rongo who is willing to pay for it.  Also, Bernard Magambo is going to run his little photography business out of this place as soon as they get a printer capable of printing photos.  I'm really excited about it.

We have a lot going on at once, as you can see, but the pace of life in Kenya is very slow, so it has been nice that we can take our time and not have to get stressed out about everything.  This has been a really good trip, and Dad has quickly gotten past the hard parts and has hit his stride.

Much love from Kenya,

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Building a church in Marera

So far our trip has been very good in every respect, except that we have been plagued with communication problems.  My new modem stopped working after day one, our Kenyan cell phones are acting flaky, and the city has been losing power at very inopportune times.  So, we have had a really hard time sending updates back home.

Anyway, yesterday I was able to grab a few minutes of time at the internet cafe (when we actually had power) and send a quick update via Facebook informing people of a pretty urgent need.  My younger brother, Cody, has been working very hard to raise money for this poultry project, but we didn't budget for any other projects.  So, when the members of the Marera Church of Christ asked us on Sunday if there was anything we could do to help them rebuild their church building, we just had to say no.

This was hard, because this little congregation of about 40 meets under an acacia tree each Sunday.  A couple of years ago a very generous friend of mine graciously donated the funds to build a church building for this community, complete with a concrete floor which is quite a luxury for these rural Kenyan people.  Unfortunately, the Kenyan man in charge at the time was not acting very honorably, and in a parting shot before he left the community, he dismantled the church building and sold the pieces.

I was so impressed by the response of the church at the time.  Rather than reacting in anger by burning the man's home (which is customary here), they responded with love and mercy.  Now that that one man is out of the picture I am very hopeful for the future of this community and this congregation.  There are some very good people here, kind, generous, hospitable, honorable, trustworthy, and spirit-filled, and I am so excited to be working with this group.  That made it even more difficult to tell them that we just didn't have the funds available to build the church building.  Instead we had to advise them that by focusing their resources on these two poultry projects, they would eventually be able to earn enough income to rebuild the building.  In the mean time, they would just have to worship in the rain.

So, as a bit of a long shot, I thought I would post a message on Facebook asking if there was anyone who might be able to help out.  This congregation has been working hard to raise the funds for their own building, and they have already purchased many of the supplies with their weekly contributions.  However, they still lacked about $1700 to finish the building.

My Facebook request went out at 2:00am Central Time in the US (because that was the only time I could access the internet), so I was sure no one would even see it.

But I forgot about my "miracle friend" in Singapore whom I have never met in person.  We actually met through a divinely-directed series of strange coincidences involving Katie Davis, the young missionary to Uganda who has inspired so many (especially me) by her life and writings (  Ask me about this sometime if you are interested.  Fortunately, even when Americans are still asleep the Singaporeans are up and awake, busily responding to desperate pleas for funds for rural Kenyan church buildings.

So, thanks to the generosity of two people, we have already raised most of what we need for the church building!  We are still short about $700, but my confidence in the Church responding to her African brothers and sisters in need has been restored, and I am confident that we can raise the rest.

If you would like to take part in this project and help the good people of Marera rebuild their church, you can still make a donation for this cause.  Just go to the Huruma House website ( and click the "Donate to Marera Fund" button.  Our (woefully underdeveloped) website also tells you where to send a check if you would rather do that.

Well, this is amazing that the electricity has held up long enough for me to write all this, but now Dad and Cody and I need to get out to the site and help build a church building.  The current plan is to repair and extend the old church foundation, and then just put up some wooden poles and a metal roof.  If the rest of the funds come in soon, we should be able to add the walls as well (made of iron sheets).

We have so much going on here that I want to tell you about, but Moses just called and our Kenya friends are waiting for us, so it will have to wait for later.

Your brother in Christ,
Jeff Wilhite

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hope for Marera -- Project Plans

As soon as we arrived in Marera on Saturday afternoon, we met with the members of the Hope for Marera community-based organization to talk about the things we will accomplish together over the week that we are here. We batted around a few ideas that we fleshed out more fully this Sunday evening.  Here are the things we plan to do while in Kenya.

The first priority is to get this hen project started so that the CBO can start earning an income selling eggs.  There are four steps to getting this going.

1) Place chicken wire around the project site. Cost $1300 (already funded).
The project site already has a barbed wire fence in place, so all we need to do is wrap it in chicken wire. This will allow plenty of space for the laying hens to run around and be free range chickens.  Apparently, eggs from free range chickens have a darker yolk and fetch a higher price.  We already have a pre-fab chicken house on the site that is designed for raising broilers, not laying hens.  But we are going to raise our little chicks in this broiler house for about six weeks until they are old enough to leave the house and run around in the outside fenced area.

2) Purchase the day-old chicks, feed, and equipment.  Cost $500 (already funded).

3) Rebuild the Marera church building with additional room for storage.  Cost $1700 (Not yet funded).
We have two different needs that go together nicely.  First of all, we need some place to store all of the chicken feed and equipment.  But also, the Marera Church of Christ has been meeting under a tree ever since their church building was destroyed a few months ago.  What we would like to do is to help this little congregation rebuild their church building and also add on a store room for the poultry supplies.  The congregation has been saving money and purchasing materials for several months already, and they only lack about $1700 to finish the project.  It is going to be built with volunteer labor from the church, so we really just have to buy materials.  It is going to be very inexpensively constructed out of local trees and iron sheets. It would be nice to have this built before next Sunday, but we don't currently have enough cash to complete the project.  So, donations for this project are very welcome.

You can donate on the Huruma House website at:  Click the "Donate to Marera Fund" button to make sure your donation goes to this project.

4) Build a shelter for the hens with roosts and nests.
We won't actually need this until the hens are a couple of months old, so there is not an immediate need to start this project while we are here.

In addition to the poultry project, we are also doing some research into opening a small computer training center in the town of Rongo.  The idea is that the CBO would rent a little bit of space in town, and put a couple of computers in it.  Daniel, one of the CBO members, is skilled at teaching people to use computers.  One goal of this project is to allow the CBO members an opportunity to learn to use computers, and other people in town may be interested in paying for some training as well.  When the computers are not being used for training, they can be used as part of a small internet cafe.  People in Kenya pay by the minute to use an internet-connected computer.  Also, renting this space will allow the CBO members to engage in other income-generating activities.  For example, Bernard needs a little shop with a computer and a printer in order to run his budding photography business.  We don't know yet how much this project will cost until we do a bit more research in town tomorrow.

Our plans are changing daily as we get new ideas and information, so I'll try to keep you posted.

Sunday in Marera

This is another personal letter I wrote to my family after our Sunday at church in Marera.  It may not make a lot of sense to those who are not familiar with my family or our trip plans, but here it is anyway.

Dear family,

Sunday morning about 5:00am I got a phone call from Rose asking if we wanted breakfast.  Dad and I hadn't talked about breakfast, so I figured we would just eat granola bars or something.  So, when Dad and Cody Ben woke up in the morning and came knocking on my door asking what we were having for breakfast, my name was Mud.

Anyway, Moses said that church would begin at 9:00 sharp.  Of course, I knew that was a joke, but we wanted to get out to Marera early anyway so that we could check out the chicken project.  We walked down to the end of the road to catch a couple of piki-pikis (motorcycles) to take us out to Marera, but Dad said he needed to stretch his legs some after those long plane and matatu rides, so he suggested that we walk.  Fortunately, Moses saw us walking along the road and got off his piki-piki to join us on our walk, so we got some good talking in along the way. Dad had all sorts of questions for Moses about Kenyan construction techniques and the local flora and everything else, so it was a fun walk.

The walk turned out to be a bit farther than Dad had expected and it was a bit longer and muddier than I remembered from the past, but an hour later (at 9:10) we finally arrived.  Of course, we were the only ones there for a very long time, and we finally started church about 10:30. But that gave us a good chance to scope out the project site and make plans for what we are going to do this week.

The project site is a fairly large piece of land that was donated to the Hope for Marera CBO by Plister Anyango (Daniel and Bernard's mother).  This is the same widow lady that sold Sam's Place the land it is now built on. The CBO already has the plot fenced off, and they have another inner fence around the existing chicken house.  The plot of land also contains the old foundation of the church building that the Marera Church of Christ used to meet at until it was torn down.  So, now the church just meets underneath a nearby acacia tree.

When we finally started worship around 10:30, there were only about 10 people there, and more people kept trickling in until about noon.  We ended up with about 40 in attendance.  At 10:30, Daniel was reluctant to start the church service with only 10 people, so he suggested that we have a conversation about some topic first and he asked if anyone had any ideas for what we could talk about.  As no one else spoke up, I took advantage of the opportunity to get the congregation talking about the topic of my upcoming sermon.  So, I suggested we attempt to answer the question “Where is God when we are suffering?”  In Kenyan fashion, the men took turns standing up to make little mini-sermons about the topic.  None of us Wilhites had anything to add.  They wanted me to say something but I told them that I would give my answer as my sermon.

About 11:00 Daniel seemed to decide that a quorum was present, so we kicked off the worship service.  I was fortunate in that I had advance notice the previous day that I would be preaching the main service, but Bernard wasn't so lucky.  He got tapped to lead the contribution thought (which is a mini-sermon) and he didn't really know yet what he was going to say, so Bernard took a break from interpreting into Luo so that he could prepare his contribution talk while David Bungu delivered the communion mini-sermon.  Unfortunately, this led to a situation where none of the men at the service were willing or able to perform the interpretation into Luo.  (Of course, the Wilhites were the only non-Luo speakers present, but they wanted to hold the entire worship service in English for our benefit and then have it interpreted into Luo.)  Anyway, Bernard's new bride, Reggina ended up being the only one available who was willing to interpret into Luo.  But this caused a bit of a stir among some of the older members because not everyone thought it was okay to have a woman speaking in the service. This is a Church of Christ congregation.  So, Daniel asked for a quick show of hands to see who thought it was acceptable for Reggina to do the interpreting, and apparently the majority didn't have a problem with it.  (I raised my hand, too.)

This was an interesting little twist because I have been curious for a long time about what these Kenyans think about women's roles in the church, but I haven't ever asked about it.  It was also interesting to see how this little church without elders resolved the issue quickly.  After worship was over, this little widow woman named Conslata stood up before the congregation to thank me for sharing the message of the gospel.  She was genuinely grateful and spoke everything in love, but just before she sat down she said that she would be willing to teach me more fully about the doctrines of the Church and about women's roles in worship.

During the communion and contribution mini-sermons (before the main sermon), Dad and Cody Ben took all of the children who were there and had a little Children's Church with them.  Nancy Atieno (the lady who lost her baby in the house fire last summer) went with them to interpret and help out.  Apparently, she and her husband Ken Oala have been very active members of the church since last summer when the Marera congregation helped them rebuild their house after the fire.  The kids were a long way off, so I couldn't really tell what was going on, but Dad said later that he and Cody Ben told the stories of David and Goliath and also of Joseph's coat of many colors.  They also sang songs with the kids and tried to teach them to count to ten in English.  From where I was sitting with the adults, all I could see was Dad holding this little Kenyan toddler the whole time.  Dad was very impressed with how well-behaved and attentive the kids were.  I think they taught about 15-20 kids this morning.

Ten minutes after noon the kids came back for the main sermon.  I preached from II Corinthians 4 and from James 1 about how God makes beautiful things out of our suffering; Daniel interpreted into Luo.  Before the sermon I was asked to introduce myself and my family, so Dad and Cody Ben both had the chance to stand in front of the congregation and greet them.  They did wonderfully.  As Cody Ben was speaking I kept thinking that he was done, but then he always had something else to add.  I finally realized that he just wasn't really clear about how he was supposed to end his little speech or whether or not he had said enough yet.  He kind of gave me this look that said “So, am I done yet?”  And I told him he had done a great job (because he had) and that he could go sit down now.

After the sermon I offered an invitation as is customary, but no one came forward.  Then Daniel said some things in Luo and the entire congregation came forward.  This is not the first time this has happened to me.  I think Daniel must be be saying something like “Come on guys, the mzungu preacher came all the way from America to talk to us today.  You can at least come forward for the invitation so he doesn't feel like a total loser.”

We prayed for Rosebella's mentally ill daughter and we prayed over all those who had come forward, and then we had announcements (that seemed to be intentionally lengthened to stall while we waited for lunch to be prepared).  The biggest announcement was that all the members of the congregation are invited to come on Tuesday and help rebuild the church building so that we don't have to worship in the afternoon sun anymore.  The congregation has been trying for several months to raise money to rebuild their building.  Of course, the congregation is small and they are all very poor so this has been difficult.  However, they have managed to raise enough money already to purchase 15 iron sheets and a bunch of wooden poles.  This isn't quite enough, though.  They are still going to need another $1700 to finish up their little building.  This metal building is designed to serve a dual purpose.  In addition to having a main auditorium for worship, it will also have a small storage room to contain the supplies for the poultry project, and it will have a small office that the community-based organization can use to run their various agricultural projects.

Unfortunately, the CBO doesn't have enough cash on hand to complete the various projects we planned to do this week and also finish the church building.  So, Dad and I are going to see if any of our friends in America would be willing to chip in and help this congregation get themselves a building.

When lunch was finally ready, we ate together in the Magambo home.  They served us fried fish and beans and rice and ugali and sukuma wiki and oranges.  It seems they remembered from last year what my favorite dishes are.

After lunch we split up into men and women's classes.  We had about 10 men in our men's class, and it was life-giving as always.  I was supposed to be the teacher, but instead of picking a topic, I decided to just let them ask questions (because they seem to enjoy doing that best anyway).  Bernard asked about how he and his new wife can grow in their faith together and Erick asked about how a young, unmarried man can grow in his faith.  A young man named George that I have never met before asked about how he and his wife can stay committed to one another.  Ken Oala asked about his fear of talking openly about spiritual matters with groups of men. Bungu asked  what I thought about judging other people. They were all wonderful questions, and I almost felt like someone had tipped them off ahead of time and gave them a list of “things Jeff really likes to talk about.”  Dad contributed to the conversation, too, and it was really fun to have him in class with me.  I think it might have been a little bit over Cody's head, and he slept through a lot of it.

We started class at 4:00pm, and at 5:30 we were still going strong when the rains started.  At that point no one could hear each other above the roar of the rain on the tin roof, so we had to end class.  I passed out granola bars to everyone there, and then Dad and Cody Ben and I waited for the rain to subside a bit before we made a mad dash for Sam's Place.  We were hoping to see Simeon, but he wasn't expected to return from church in Kisii until 8:00, so the three of us headed down the muddy Sam's Place road in a light drizzle hoping to catch some piki-pikis when we got to the main road.  One of the neighbor boys (about 7th grade) decided to walk with us to the road, and Dad had a good time chatting with him in very simple English.  I hadn't thought about it before, but all of Dad's experience communicating with his Mexican construction workers has turned out to be very helpful.  He is very good at communicating in simple English, although it's kind of funny when he drops in an occasional Spanish word.

We hadn't walked too far along the main road when a piki-piki driver stopped to give us a lift.  I put Dad and Cody Ben on the first one and then I hopped on the next one to come by.  That was their first piki-piki ride since we have been here, and Cody said he would be okay if it was his last.  Dad said that tomorrow he and I can catch a piki-piki together and let Cody Ben walk the two miles by himself, but I think his mama might have my hide if we do that, so we'll stick together.

When we got back to the guest house I asked Rose about dinner and she told me that we hadn't told her that we wanted dinner.  Oops.  Katherine had always handled that part of the trip last year, so I just didn't think about it.  Anyway, my name was Mud again because we only got one meal today.  But we pigged out on cookies and granola bars, so I think we are okay.  Now I have let Rose know that we will take every breakfast and dinner here, so this shouldn't happen again.

Wow.  If you are still reading all this mind-numbing detail, you must love me a lot or be really bored.  It's 4:00am and I am wide awake, so I thought I should do something useful.


Our first day in Rongo

This is a personal letter I wrote to my family when we arrived in Kenya, so it is long and newsy and may not make a lot sense to those who are not acquainted with my family.  But here it is anyway.

Dear family,

I just wanted to let you guys know that we have safely arrived in Rongo.

We left Nairobi at about 10:30 this morning (Saturday).  That was a
couple of hours later thanwe expected because we had a long chat with
Daniel and Bernard before we got on the road.  We were talking through
the original idea of building a chicken house, and we started to think
that it might be a better use of funds to open an internet
cafe/computer training center instead.  We haven't decided for sure
yet, and it's the Kenyan organization that gets to make the final
decision, but it looks like everyone is leaning that direction.

During our long talk this morning we made our formal introductions.
Even though we had already spent much of the previous evening
together, the Kenyans like to be formal, so the five of us all made
speeches to introduce ourselves.  It was the first of the speeches
that Cody Ben has been dreading so much, but he did a great job.

The trip to Rongo was fairly uneventful until about 50 feet before we
got to the entrance of our guest house.  Then all of a sudden the
matatu died and smoke started filling the inside of the vehicle.
Fortunately, our driver found the wire that was shorting out and fixed
the problem pretty quickly.

We arrived about 5:00pm and we had scheduled a diner party for 6:00
with some members of the community, so we spent an hour walking around
Rongo, buying water and cookies to live on, and getting a feel for the
layout of the town. (By the way, the 100 chocolate cookies Mom baked
for us are in one of the bags the airline lost.  Maybe we'll get them
back some day.)

Just as we were heading back to the guest house we ran into all of our
party guests assembled on the street corner, so we hugged them all and
made brief introductions (but no speeches), and then we all walked
back to the guest house together.

Rose had a yummy meal prepared for all of us: ugali, sukuma wiki,
local chicken, rice, and cabbage.  There was a little bit of cultural
awkwardness at first.  I haven't had much experience hosting Kenyans
for dinner and I couldn't figure out the Kenyan cultural equivalent of
saying "Let's eat."  I tried asking Moses to lead us in prayer, and he
did, but apparently those weren't the magic words to start the party
because everyone still just stood there.  Then I walked over and fixed
my plate, hoping that everyone would get the idea and follow me, but
when I got back to the big table, all the Kenyans were just sitting
there silently without any food in front of them.  Finally, I said
something I vaguely remembered Daniel saying before: "The meal is
self-service."   And I guess that was the right thing because everyone
got up to get their food.  But then there was more confusion because
everyone still sat around waiting to start eating.  It seems that the
first prayer was too early, and everyone was expecting us to pray
again before we started eating.

After dinner we started discussing the upcoming events of next week.
Again, I didn't really know how to kick off the meeting correctly, so
I had everyone make formal introductions in the order that we were
sitting at the table and tell me how their families were doing.  But
apparently that wasn't the right protocol, because the chairman,
Moses, did introductions again in the appropriate order this time
(introducing the officers first, in order of importance).  Cody Ben
did an excellent job again at his little speech, even though there
were way more people this time.

After that we had a really good meeting to discuss our plans for next
week, and everyone seemed really excited about the idea of opening a
little computer training center.  We also made plans for worship
tomorrow.  I'll be preaching, and Dad and Cody Ben said they will take
a shot at teaching the little kids while their parents are in worship.
 They seemed a bit apprehensive about it, but I know they'll do fine.
The Kenyans really need some examples of men teaching children.

We have a long day at church tomorrow.  Moses said it will start
promptly at 9:00am.  This is hilarious because everyone knows that the
Kenyans aren't even going to start showing up until after 10:00.  I
laughed about Kenyan time and American time, but Moses didn't budge.
He really seems convinced that church is actually going to start at
9:00 tomorrow.  So, that's when we will be there.  At least it will
give us a chance to go check out their existing chicken house before
everyone starts showing up.

Time to get some sleep, I'll try to write tomorrow and tell you how church went.