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Nicole’s Adventure in Kenya – Summer 2014
Dear Friends and Family,
This past summer one of my lifelong dreams came true! For over 10 years I have been praying to go to Africa and specifically Kenya. This desire started when I sponsored a young girl named Emmy through Compassion International and we exchanged letters for almost a decade. My hope was to visit her but several years ago I received a letter that she moved out of the area and there was no way for me to contact her. I was heartbroken and hoped that she was okay. I then sponsored another young girl named Mercy who also lived in Kenya. Earlier this year I was thinking of visiting friends in Madagascar and right before I was about to buy my ticket the Lord closed that door. A few days later a miracle happened! Emmy found me on Facebook and contacted me! God is so FAITHFUL and He watches over His children!
From that moment onward the Lord started to schedule a trip for me that combined FOUR DREAMS into one AMAZING ADVENTURE! On this trip I was able to visit my current Compassion Child, Mercy, and Emmy (my new Kenyan sister), AND I got to work with CHILDREN and TEACH them DANCE! In God’s perfect timing my heart’s desires were answered in ways that went above and beyond anything I could have ever imagined! And I truly believe this is just the BEGINNING of many more adventures in Kenya!
HERE IS MY STORY
PRE-KENYA TRIP: June 16-22 Flew to California for an ACN business conference and to visit friends. This was my first ACN International Training event and it was AWESOME! I joined this business to help Prisma raise funds for Mission Trips, Scholarships, and a Building Fund. It was a wonderful opportunity to gain essential tools to help build residual income. If you would like to know more about this business (for yourself or to help raise funds for Prisma) please let me know. 🙂
TRAVEL June 23: I flew from California to Texas, Texas to London, and London to Nairobi, Kenya. On one of my flights I got to sit next to two men, a gentleman who was originally from Scotland and a pastor from Gateway church. We got to talk for awhile and the Scotsman shared how his joints were sore because he had a genetically inherited blood disease. I asked him if I could pray for him and he said yes. The pastor and I laid hands and after the prayer the Scotsman was surprised and said he could make a fist, which he hasn’t been able to do for quite a while! Please continue to pray with me that God would completely heal this wonderful gentleman!
NAIROBI CITY – ANNO’s AFRICA: I met up with the staff and teachers at Anno’s Africa and I was able to observe and participate in their classes at their three school locations in Kibera and Mathare slums. They offer free after-school classes to the children at the school. Classes the children get to choose from include ballet, African dance, art, voice/singing, acting, and acrobatics. It was inspiring to see how the students helped to transform a classroom into a dance room and the dirt courtyard turned into an acrobatic gym and how even if their space was very small and dark they were thankful they could have a place to dance! I had the privilege of teaching part of the ballet class and telling them about Hawaii. Many of the people I met in Kenya haven’t heard of Hawaii or if they have they aren’t sure where it is located. The Anno’s Africa staff was so blessed and excited to receive all the donated ballet shoes, leotards, skirts, and tights that many of the Prisma parents donated, and they send everyone their most HEARTFELT THANKS! There was a whole class in Kibera that didn’t have ballet shoes and many of the girls in another school were very self-conscious because they had so many holes in their tights and so I know the donated items will be such a blessing :)!!! I came to discover that several of the staff/teachers at Anno’s Africa were Christians and it was so awesome to see them praying with their classes! There was so much favor while I was there and so much potential opportunity for us (Prisma) to return and work with these children in dance and entrepreneurial ventures, and so please continue to pray for their program and that God will show us how we can partner and support their organization and impact children with the Word of God through dance!
One of the biggest things I discovered while in Kenya (and I believe this applies to any place we go) was that when we go into a new place with a heart to serve, learn (a teachable spirit), and love, God will allow us to be a BLESSING and to see what He is doing and how He is working within a certain area and then He will open doors of favor to minister and to edify others.
VISITING MERCY WITH COMPASSION INTERNATIONAL: I was driven 3-4 hours from the city of Nairobi into the countryside of Mwingi. It was one of the best road trips I have been on because it was full of fellowship with Alex (my driver), worship, and waving at every child and many adults I saw on the road (and there were LOTS of children and adults hehe). I couldn’t stop to say HI and talk to every person I saw and so I figured the next best thing was to wave at them, smile, and pray a blessing over them. And guess what?!! 99% of the people and children I waved at smiled and waved back at me! It was so fun to know that even through such a seemingly small thing (such as a hand wave) we can help bring joy and a smile to so many people. As a side note, I don’t think they see a lot of Mzungus (Swahili for white person) in that area and so even as I prayed that I would “stand out” because of Christ I think it didn’t hurt that my skin color helped me stand out! LOL 😉 hehe.
Mercy and her family live out in the country and the nearest small market is about a 45 minute walk. I was able to tour the church and school facility that Compassion partners with and during fellowship with the Compassion staff and local pastor I got to learn about the community and hear their heart for their people (I felt so blessed to hear their heart). From there I was able to visit Mercy’s primary school and when I walked onto the school grounds over a hundred children ran up to meet us! It was a moment in my life where I was overwhelmed by the Love of God through His children, their little faces of excitement and curiosity was priceless (I wish I could have stayed and played with them all day!). After a short tour we had to leave and the children ran behind our car for quite a number of minutes (my heart ached to leave them!). We then traveled a short distance to where Mercy’s family was waiting for us at their home. From the pictures, you can see that their home is comprised of a small entry room and a single bedroom for 5 people (2 parents and 3 children). To support his family, Mercy’s father works 4+ hours away in Nairobi city and is only able to visit on some weekends. Mercy’s grandmother and great grandmother live in the community with them. Her great grandmother can’t remember how old she is but if her memory is correct she remembers being married (with a child) during the war in 1914 (meaning she is over 110 years old)!!! One of the best gifts that I have ever gotten in my life was the handwoven basket/bag made by Mercy’s grandmother, I could see and feel the love that was put into it (see picture). Being able to bring gifts of toys, food, and clothing and blessing this family was as big of a gift for me as it was for them! I was able to see the two goats that Mercy bought with some of the birthday and Christmas money I sent and how those two goats gave birth to two more goats. In memory of this special day, Compassion had Mercy and I plant a vine together and I can’t wait to see how big it is the next time I go! This was truly a day in my life that I will NEVER forget and which will always be so close to my heart! I pray that everyone who sponsors a child in another country will be able to meet them one day. It is a priceless experience!
Word Of Life Ministry and School For the second part of my trip I flew from Nairobi to stay in Mombasa so I could visit Emmy. I stayed at Word Of Life in Diani Beach area which is about a 1-1.5 hour matatu (a small bus) and ferry ride from where Emmy lived. I had volunteered to help at Word of Life’s academic school and fell in love with the children there. For a week I helped in grade 3 (about 8-9 yr olds) and at the end I taught them and the 4-5 yr old class a dance for their end of the year program. In just 3 or 4 practices the children learned their dance and their enthusiasm and excitement was contagious!
The weather and plants/fruits in Mombasa are very similar to Hawaii. June and July are their winter months and so even though I was sweating, often I would look around and see children in sweaters. LOL. June and July are usually the busy months for Mombasa because of the tourists that visit the beaches and stay at the hotels, but because of the security warnings that the US and England sent out at the time I was there, there were not very many tourists. So the economy was really struggling and a lot of people were looking for work, and everywhere I went I was approached by street vendors, taxi drivers/motorcyclists, and individuals. It is hard to not be able to help everyone you see in need!
The main food they like to eat is called Ugali (a stiff porridge made from Maize) and Chapati (a flat bread), and rice. They love to drink hot tea (even when it is really hot). Most of the people only buy what they need for one meal at a time or for one day (many don’t have refrigerators). There are many small local markets where you can buy fresh produce. I really enjoyed the food and tea!!!
VISITING EMMY A dream came true when I got to meet Emmy for the first time after over a decade of communication! Her English is very good (Praise the Lord!) and so we were able to freely communicate and share our life stories and strengthen each other’s faith in God. Emmy and her husband live in a one room apartment (about the size of a small studio) and the neighbor children (about 6 of them) will come over and play at their house all the time. The parents will help watch the children whenever another parent needs to go out (it is such a close knit community). I got to meet Emmy’s husband, Steve, and immediately he adopted me as his younger sister and he became my big kaka (brother)! They were so gracious and we had so many fun adventures together and the Lord’s favor was upon the conversations and strengthening relationships.
Emmy’s brother traveled 20 hours by bus so that he could meet me and hopefully the next time I visit I will be able to travel to visit Emmy’s mom and grandmother who live further away. My last night at their home we each shared the Word of God and it was such a heavenly fellowship. I also learned, from Emmy, that two of the little girls who always came over to her house were not able to complete school because they couldn’t pay their school fees (even though school is free there are still some expenses that parents have to pay). I found out that their dad, though he made enough money, spent all his money on alcohol and was barely home and when he was home, he was drunk. The wife was very depressed and often she had no money to pay for rent or for food for the two girls and her baby. She even considered suicide, but Emmy had been reaching out to her and encouraging her to trust God. The month before, Emmy and the neighbors had found ways to help her pay the rent. Right before I left I blessed the mom with money to cover the girls’ school fees. Two days later when I met up with Emmy she told me that the wife was so thankful and was crying and thanking God and asking her what she could do for God, and Emmy led her to the Lord! God is SO FAITHFUL and we never know what the “tipping point” will be for someone to enter the Kingdom of God! I had just bought Emmy a new Bible, because her only Bible was really old, and when her neighbor came to Jesus she gave her her new Bible!
On my last day with Emmy we went shopping to buy her and her husband a Bible (later Steve told me that the Bible was the best present he got all year!) and a children’s picture Bible so that she could read the Bible stories to the neighbor children that always come over. I could see the favor of God upon Emmy and Steve to reach their community and so I asked Emmy if we, Prisma, could provide the finances for a meal once a week, would she be willing to cook and feed the children and hold a Bible study in her home? She immediately was SO excited and said YES! I then called Steve at his workplace and asked him the same thing and he also was very excited and said YES! My heart leaped for JOY! Even though I was leaving that night, I could see the Lord birthing a grassroots ministry and He was providing a way that we could help and be a part of it (even though we are half way around the world)! God is SO AMAZING!
Jumping ahead to Saturday July 19 (a week after I got home), Emmy and Steve had their first home Bible study and lunch with the children. The children were so excited that they came early! Also, the children’s mom who came to Jesus joined the Bible study and then the next day she and Emmy shared the gospel with a Muslim woman! God is moving in the midst and this is just the beginning!
STORY OF SALVATION:
The last Sunday I was in Kenya I was walking along the beach with Emmy and her family at Word of Life Ministry where I was staying and several Beach Boys (people who sell things) came up to us. One young man came up to me and for some reason he caught my attention and I listened to him share his heart. He wanted to sell me coconuts to help support his family but I didn’t need coconuts so I gave him some small change that I had and asked him if I could pray for him. He said yes and after I prayed for him I gave him a generous gift because I didn’t have any smaller bills and I felt to bless him. He then shared about how he wanted to know the Truth because his father was a Muslim and his mother a Christian, and how in the past when he heard different teachings he just got more confused. He said he would really like a Bible. I ran to my room and ran back to the beach and gave him my Bible and pleaded with him to not sell the Bible I was giving him because he was going to really need it in his life. The next day he was on my heart but I had no way of contacting him and I was supposed to go to town but due to some safety concerns I was asked to stay at Word Of Life for the day and I felt so much peace about it. I went to the store and as I was walking back along the road the young man saw me and called out to me! Thank you Jesus! We sat along the road for about two hours talking about Jesus and I answered questions that he had about God and about following Jesus. I explained about repenting, salvation, and baptism and I told him that if he wanted to give his life to Jesus that I encouraged him to get baptized too. I then felt led to offer to come to his home and share the gospel if he would like me to and he immediately said that he was just about to ask me to come! It was getting dark and so we had to part ways but he wanted to learn more about God’s word and to share it with his family and so asked to meet the next morning at 6 am to read scripture together before I had to work at the school at 8 am. He also wanted to get baptized. So the next morning we met at the beach and the worship leader (and cook) from Word of Life joined us and we shared the Word of God and the young man gave his life to Jesus and we baptized him in the Indian Ocean! Hallelujah! Two days later (the last night I was in Mombasa) the worship pastor, Emmy’s brother, and myself went to this young man’s home to share the Word. He invited his neighbor and at the end of the night he gave his life to Jesus! It was a GLORIOUS night and the presence of God was there and we shared the Word and worshiped together for several hours! The day before, I was able to purchase 4 new Bibles and we were able to bless all of those in the house with Bibles! To God be all the Glory forever!
Please continue to pray for this family and community that they will continue to follow Christ and be lead by the Holy Spirit. I am in AWE of God!
I tried to summarize my trip and share the main highlights, but I wish I could share more! LOL There are still many other stories and testimonies that God did while I was there. Some places I have visited before, I feel as though it was a one-time experience, but this trip to Kenya has definitely felt like the FIRST of MANY MORE trips to come!!! Please be in prayer with me that in the Lord’s timing He will provide a way for Prisma to partner with the local ministries in Kenya to share the Gospel!
With Much Love and Thankfulness,