In between places….

During my home service I have been traveling quite a bit.  I’ve been adding to my frequent flyer miles on several airlines.  I’ve also been in about 10 airports.  My travels have taken me to Florida, Missouri, Iowa, Georgia, Arizona and California.   It is a very important part of home service to visit congregations to add to your network of support.

Together In Mission

Last night I had the pleasure of sharing about my ministry at Lutheran Church of the Master.  They have recently partnered with me through the Together In Mission (TIM) program.   I will also be visiting Saint Paul Lutheran Church in California who has also partnered with me.

The Together In Mission program offers an ongoing opportunity for congregations to partner with missionaries for the sake of reaching more people with the Good News of the Gospel. Congregations provide emotional and prayer support, along with financial support for missionaries and the missionaries supply regular information about how their work together is progressing.  A Together In Mission commitment, in the form of an annual pledge of support fulfilled as the Lord allows, sustains a strong partnership with our missionaries for reaching the whole world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What are the steps to partner with a missionary?

  • Contact the Together in Mission office to receive a complete packet of information for how your congregation can join.  Please provide your congregation name and mailing address as well as a contact person’s name, phone number and email address.
    Together in Mission Office
    800-248-1930, Ext. 1651
    debbie.feenstra@lcms.org
  • Share the information you receive with your congregational leaders and pastor for action at your congregation’s next voters meeting.
  • Commit to support of a missionary through offerings above and beyond your continuing contributions for the operational budget, district and Synod.
  • Invite neighboring congregations to share the responsibility of supporting a missionary if yours cannot do it alone.

Summer Picnic

This evening I attended the Adair Zone LWML-Iowa District West summer picnic.  Had a wonderful time with my sisters in Christ.  I had the opportunity to share about my ministry in Kenya.  Thanking God for the prayers, support and love that these ladies give to me.  This brings my time in Iowa to a close.  I had a great time reconnecting with old friends and making many new ones.

Home Service

It’s that time again!  I get to come home to spend some time with family and friends and to visit current supporters and make connections with new congregations.  While it is an exciting time, it is also a very busy time.  I don’t get to just stay in one place.

I returned home on June 23rd and was able to get some rest and get over jet lag for 2 weeks.  I have been able to visit with family and got to spend 4th of July with my mom.  Now the time has come to begin my travels.  I visited the International Center (www.lcms.org) in St. Louis, did a presentation in Kansas City for leaders of the LCMS Black Ministry, then on to Mission Central (www.mission central.us), a visit to Living Faith Lutheran Church and will end by attending the Adair Zone LWML summer picnic.  Along the way I have had time to visit with friends and make many new ones.

My travels will continue throughout July and August taking me West to Arizona and California.  My last few weeks will be with my family before returning to Kenya.  It’s always good to come home.

January pics

Kenya my new home

I have been in Kenya for 8 months now.  Funny how times flies.  It seems like yesterday when I was ending my service in South Africa.  It has been a good transition so far.  People always ask me, “which country do you like better, South Africa or Kenya?”  I reply, each country has its own uniqueness.  I like the rural nature of Kenya.  Once you get outside the business of Nairobi, there is another world waiting for you.  I truly enjoy traveling up-country (in the rural areas) and seeing the beauty of Kenya.

Standing at the overlook of the Great Rift Valley escarpment
Rift Valley escarpment

Much like in South Africa where the Zulu people thought I was one of them, the Kenyans think that I am also Kenyan.  I find it amazing.  I wish that I knew most of the African languages, that way I could fit in even more with the peoples of Africa.  I am often told that Africa is my home.  When I meet people from different tribal groups they think that I am one of them.  I have been given 4 tribal names.  One is named by an elder of  the tribe. My Kikuyu name is Wanjiru.  Wanjiru is one of the nine daughters of the Kikuyu, the largest of the tribal groups in Kenya.  This name was given to me by my friend’s mother. She gave me her name and said that I am now one of her daughters.  During a visit to a Maasai village, I was given the name  Naserian.  Naserian means one who is peaceful.  My Kisii name is Nyaboke, which means honey.  The elder who gave me this name said that it is very special among the Kisii people.  My Kalenjin name is Cherotich.  The Kalenjin people are pastoralists and they are named after events.  Cherotich means when the animals come home.  As I was talking to the elder that gave me this name, I told him that I had several other names and he was able to guess them correctly.  It is such an honor to have these special names.

Sitting with my friend & her mom..Wanjiru (on my left)
In my Kenyan dress

 

I enjoy living in Kenya.  I am finding my way.  I take the local matatus (minibuses) to work and when I go out and about.  I love seeing this in afternoon around 5 pm: even in and around Nairobi, you can see Maasai men leading their cows home.   It’s cool to see monkeys, baboons and warthog along the side of the road or the occasional camel walking along the road. Only in Africa.

Kenya is a beautiful country and the people are very welcoming.  I definitely feel at home here.  As I learn more and more Swahili, I will fit right in.  I look forward to many new and exciting experiences .

 

Eye Clinics 2012

I was blessed to work with several short term teams who hosted Eye Clinics throughout Kenya.  The Eye Clinics are used as a means of evangelism to be able to share the Gospel. The teams work hand in hand with local pastors and evangelists to share the Good News.  Many people are able to get their eyes checked, get medicines, and reading or prescription glasses.  Others are referred for cataract surgeries at local hospitals.  This year over 15,000 people heard the Gospel through the Eye Clinics.

 

Station 1: Registration

People in line for registration

 

Registration table

 

Station 2: Evangelism

Local pastor shares the Gospel in Karatina

 

The Good News is heard by many

 

Station 3: Eye Chart

Everyone has to try and read the eye chart

 

People waiting to get through the eye chart station

 

Station 4: Triage

Sharing about Jesus

 

Asking about eye problems

 

Evangelist Paul helps with translation

 

Station 5: Doctors

Hard at work in Rongai

 

Seeing patients in Karatina

 

Putting in eye drops in Kitengela

 

Station 6: Readers

Local volunteer Joyce helps patients pick the right glasses

 

Making sure the glasses are okay

 

Station 7: Eye glass assembly

Putting together prescription glasses

 

Making sure they have the right lenses

 

Happy Customers

This young man stands with Billy who made his new glasses

 

This grandmother is happy for her grandson

 

She will be able to read the blackboard

 

Thanks to the teams and local volunteers the eye clinics have been a blessing to many

Local volunteers in Rongai

 

Team from Salem Lutheran Church & Concordia-San Antonio

 

American and Kenyan volunteers in Kitengela

Field Trips at language school

One of the fun things about language school is getting to go on occasional field trips.  The field trips help us to practice speaking and understanding Swahili.  For the intermediate course we went to the market in Kitatiti (Soko la Kikatiti).  It is a local market held on Tuesday and Friday and you can find anything there.  You can buy clothes, household items, grains in bulk and smaller quantities, some fruits and vegetables, kangas and kitenges (cloths), electronic items and ………livestock.  There is an area where you can buy cows, sheep and goats.  A sheep costs Tsh 45,000 ($29), a goat Tsh 35,000 ($23) and a cow Tsh 400,000 ($258).  It was an fun field trip and since we didn’t have money to buy a goat, sheep or cow the sellers sort of chased us away.

 

Soko la Kikatiti

Livestock area

 

Community Projects (Miradi ya Jamii):  For our lesson on community projects and development my class visited Mama Merlyn who makes kikois, batiks and beadwork.  Mama Merlyn learned how to make the kikois and batiks from friends.  Her work has been in fashion shows in Dar-es-Salaam and she makes special orders for customers.

Kikois in various sizes and colors
A batik that my class helped to make

Making a kikoi is seems like a complicated task.  It takes 2040 threads to make one piece.  It takes 2 weeks to fill the bobbins, put all of the different spools of threads on the beams, and thread the needles and there are lots of needles.  Once all of that is finished it takes 1 day to make 7 pieces.  She buys the thread in big rolls of white and has to dye it to make many of the colors that she needs.

First she fills the bobbins…
Then she arranges the spools of threads on the beam, there are about 9 sections that are filled from top to bottom
Next she threads the needles…..

 

Finally, she puts the needles into this bigger machine and starts weaving

 

To make a batik,  she uses melted candle and a sponge with a pattern to make different designs on a white cloth.  After the patterns have been stamped, she mixes her colors then puts the cloth in for about 10 minutes so the color can take.  Then she puts the cloth in hot water so that the candle wax can melt off and then you get the finished product.

Melting the candle….

 

I helped to stamp the pattern on the cloth

 

She mixes the color powder with caustic soda and sodium in hot water

 

After dipping the cloth into the color for 10 minutes…you have a batik

A Look Back at September

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (ESV)

A time of learning…..

Karibu Tanzania (Welcome to Tanzania)

I started my service in Kenya by going to language school in Tanzania for three weeks to take a beginners Swahili course. My focus for the next two years will be on language and culture. I will admit that I was a little nervous not knowing what to expect. I was in a class of eight and our teachers were very patient with us. As we learned various concepts, the teachers reinforced them by having us play games, spend time talking to native speakers, shopping at the local market, visiting a hospital and other places. That helped me to put what I learned into practice.

Me and my classmates and teachers from the beginners Swahili class
The Tengeru Market in USA River, Tanzania

The market was such a fun experience. There were what seemed like hundreds of vendors selling the same things and it was exciting bartering for the best prices in Swahili.  At the hospital we sat with the doctors and were able to ask the patients questions. I was nervous about my one on one time with a native speaker but we ended up having a good conversation. I was very proud of myself.

We also got to visit a home for street kids “The Watoto Foundation” where we had the opportunity to practice speaking Swahili.  We each got to spend time with one of the boys that are living there.  Currently there are 57 boys living there and they are able to go to school and learn a skill like cooking, carpentry, welding and electrical work.  I spent time with Jackson who is 16 years old.  He is from Moshi, Tanzania and likes cooking and carpentry.  When he grows up  he wants to be a chef.  His favorite subjects are English and Math.  We had a fun time and I got to speak Swahili.

Me and Jackson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am looking forward to my studies. Pray that God will help me to understand it and speak well.

My Transition to a Career Missionary

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Transitioning to a career missionary position has been very exciting for me. It is something that I never imagined and I feel very blessed to be able to serve the Lord this way. My position will be funded through the Network Supported Missionary Model or NSM for short.

What does this mean for me?

A Network Supported Missionary is one who intentionally engages a group of supporters – individuals, congregations and organizations – to engage them in praying, giving, telling, or sending. Staying connected to supporting individuals and congregations is an important part of my mission work. In the NSM model, network supported missionaries, together with LCMS Mission Advancement staff, work to identify a network of supporters to carry out ministry in their field of service. NSMs and their supporters mutually support each other, so that God may use them as His instruments around the world.Through the building and maintenance of this network, supporters are more directly involved in Gospel outreach through prayer, sacrificial giving/living, mutual encouragement and celebration of God’s work around the world.This is how individuals, families and congregations are asking to be able to support specific missionaries today—missionary families they come to know personally, pray for, learn more about and celebrate with together as they see God working in a specific mission field.

Today I am inviting you to take an active role in my network as a prayer partner and financial sponsor. It also means that you can expect a dynamic connection to my work in Kenya as I commit to providing you with regular updates via newsletters, a blog, a web-page, Facebook,Twitter, etc. My goal is to have regular contact with my network’s members as much as that is possible and/or desired.

What does this look like? This coming summer I will have the opportunity to visit the homes and churches of some of my supporters. During my last trip to the USA I had the opportunity to visit my best friend’s daughter’s kindergarten class and share with them about the children that I worked with. The class had recently sponsored a child in Rwanda, so it was exciting for them to meet someone who was serving in Africa. I also visited the church of a pastor in Iowa. I met him when he came to South Africa on a short -term mission team to the village where I previously served. During my time in Iowa, I was able to meet the congregation and share about the work that God is doing in South Africa. It is a blessing to be able to meet the wonderful people that God has raised up to support me as I serve in Africa.

I thank God for you and I am truly honored that you would consider partnering with me.

Ministry Moments

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