Kenya is rich with Ministry. At least in the areas we frequent which include Nairobi, Nyahururu, and Nakuru. We frequently hear church drums, music, and voices praising resonating throughout the countryside near our home. Traveling the ‘tarmac’ (what Kenyans refer to as paved road) from town to town, we see many, many roadside signs for churches, ministries, Christian schools, and shelters. There seems to be a ministry devoted to every aspect of life here. Recently, Pastor Evanston Macharia of Happy Church started up one such ministry. This unique ministry is to encourage the elderly. ‘Goshen Homesteads for the Aged’ was started on realizing that many aged parents have become neglected in their communities (spiritually, emotionally, and physically). And there is a need to encourage and care for them in their last phase of life. The land of Goshen in Genesis and Exodus speaks to land set aside by God “You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me-you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have”…Gen.45:10.
This ministry is a Christian charitable (community based organization) to take care of the aged, 70 years plus, caring for them spiritually, emotionally, and physically. We were blessed to be introduced to this inspiring ministry as part of a short-term missions team of 22 from the U.S.A. As part of their time here at PACE, they had already served another community of elderly, part of this Goshen ministry, the previous day. Once a week, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, a group of 100-200 elderly people gather together in two different communities to fellowship, worship, share testimony, hear some preaching, give thanks, are given a hot cup of porridge, physical ailments are addressed, and to encourage one another in the Lord. Pastor Macharia personally attends to all aspects of the time of fellowship, schedule permitting, as well, with the support of PACE, local pastors, local community partners and volunteers. The day we visited with the team from the U.S.A. they were able to offer medical check-ups and diagnosis’ of the elderly in attendance, and hand out meds. This was a great blessing and encouragement to the people. Some of the elderly in attendance come on foot walking 2 to 3 hours, and they are in their 80’s! They may physically appear frail but they are strong willed and high spirited and most could probably beat me (Blair) in a foot race! And they love the Lord… and testify to His work in their lives. As I talked to a few of the elderly men, I found out that many elderly do not know how to read or write, their only exposure to the word of the bible has been through hearing the preaching of the word. Amazingly they can memorize scripture they have heard and speak of the Lord with authority and clarity. This ministry is truly blessed by the Lord, and you can see transformation in the faces of the people. It is beautiful what the Lord is doing here. And we are so blessed and privileged to have experienced yet another example of the ‘power’ in relationship (a natural way of life here), what real faith ‘that in God all things are possible’ can accomplish, and see lives refreshed and renewed thanks be to God! Real, honest, ‘roll up the sleeves’ ministry for the sake to love all as Christ loves us.
During our time here at PACE Ministries we have been blessed to share in ministry with another short-term team of 22, a combination of different churches in the U.S.A., come together as one. During their time here Sheryl, Roger, and I were asked to host them for a Canadian dinner in the home we’re are staying. Canadian dinner eh?? What do we consider Canadian?? Maybe a wienee roast around the campfire? – that is what comes to mind when I think of a Canadian meal! But, the Lord’s plan was for greater aspirations. It just so happened that our night to host this dinner was the day after our Canadian thanksgiving, so Sheryl suggested we prepare a traditional Canadian thanksgiving dinner. Great idea!! Thus began a culinary journey of great proportions. The three of us need to prepare a meal for 22 Americans plus 4 Kenyan guests, the three of us, and two other American missionaries serving here, equaling 31 guests. Let’s see…Roger doesn’t cook, Sheryl doesn’t eat meat, I’ve never cooked a turkey before…hmmm. Turkey is hard to come by around here, because it is expensive, and if it has not been raised for eating, then the meat they say is very dry and tough. So we needed to travel elsewhere to purchase a turkey raised for eating. Nakuru, which is just over an hour’s journey by matatu (a public minivan), is a small city with more amenities that cater to westerners so we were able to purchase a frozen turkey from a good quality butchery. We ended up with a 16lb. bird…it was like stuffing a small child in to my backpack!! Our concern now was getting it home before it might begin to thaw. It is hot here, and we had a return ride in the matutu of over an hour ahead of us back to Nyahururu. Now, public transportation here is not what we have at home. A matatu is typically a Nissan mini-van designed to haul 9 passengers comfortably (but it is never…ever comfortably). The seating is narrow so you are called to really ‘love thy neighbour’. Especially when your neighbour is slugging a 16lb turkey around in his backpack 🙂 Off we race back to Nyahururu, and as the sunshine turns to rain, we in the back of the matatu encounter a rainfall of our own, as water leaks onto us through a hole in the roof of the van, and sprays in through the deteriorating seals around the back windows. Good thing we had our umbrella, which we popped open and used to keep us dry. Ahhh…always expect the unexpected here in Kenya. At least the turkey made it back safe and sound, and still frozen…praise God! As I mentioned earlier, I have never cooked a turkey before, so the day before our meal, we decided that we would boil the turkey in water to thaw it, carve it, then fry the pieces to ensure that the meat would be fully cooked. We borrowed a large ‘giko’ (a charcoal burner sort of like a portable bbq) and a large pot to boil the turkey in. It worked wonderfully, and the turkey bathed for about 4 hours. I then ceremoniously carried it into the kitchen to be carved and fried. We had a Kenyan helper by the name of Rose who served alongside Sheryl in preparing and cooking the vegetables. There were potatoes, squash, carrots and beans. Rose is humoured by our Canadian methods of food preparation and cooking. She is a traditional Kikuyu. She was amused by the carving method of the turkey with a knife. She was wanting to wrestle apart that turkey with her bare hands – that turkey wouldn’t stand a chance against her. And they don’t mash their potatoes or squash here…they fry almost everything . The dinner went well, everyone enjoyed the meal and the Lord provided in feeding ‘our 5000’. We were very thankful for that! To close the evening, we had been requested to give a presentation ‘the Canadian’ contribution to PACE Ministries. I (Blair) opened this time in prayer and thanks, Roger then gave a summary of the Harbour Church/PACE Ministries relationship, Sheryl spoke about short-term missions and the August camp, then I closed with our upcoming Rwanda trip. The U.S. team were very excited about the children’s camp in August and some showed interest in a possible collaboration of churches in serving this camp ministry. The spirit was definitely moving throughout this fellowship of Canadians, Americans, and Kenyans this night. Everyone left satisfied…their hunger satisfied and their souls satisfied. And we give all the thanks and all the glory to God who makes all things possible for His good.
We have been enjoying engaging with the Academy students at PACE. Each encounter is a relationship building opportunity to further friendship and trust with them. The students enjoy free time after class in the afternoon, and weekends. Sheryl has made it a priority to spend as much time as she can with them during this free time. She has been challenged to many matches of pool, leading choir practice with students rehearsing for a Christmas pageant in December, and playing capture the flag…they LOVE playing capture the flag (I think, because to denote teams, they get to paint each others faces). Usually splashing the paint all over the place. On Friday nights, the students that board at PACE enjoy gathering to watch a movie. This is a big hit! They usually request Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris, or VanDamme (they have a real interest in the martial arts). One night we showed a Jackie Chan movie and the best part was after the movie, as the boys engaged in martial arts re-enactments of their favourite parts of the movie…it was hilariousJ. The other night we were treated to a talent show put on by the boarders. Their was singing, comedy skits, and dancing demonstrations. A couple of the highlights were a comedy skit featuring 4 of the older boys dressing up like elderly kikuyu men and women (the Academy students, college students, and teachers in attendance were howling with laughter). The skit was spoken in kiswahli so we didn’t know what they were saying, but the costumes and the acting were so funny. One of the students here is from an area called Maralal, and his tribe is Turkana (somewhat like the Masai). He performed a traditional tribal dance, it was a real pleasure to enjoy that with him in celebrating his culture. We hope to enjoy another talent show before we return home. I kept thinking about the show on tv ‘America’s Got Talent’…here at PACE it’s ‘Kenya’s Got Talent’. It is evident the influence that PACE is having on these students in the initiative they show, their creativity, and the use of their God given gifts and abilities in the classroom as well as when just being themselves.