Our first stop of the day was at a medium sized church, where we were surrounded by children shaking our hands, and joined in worship for a little while. We introduced ourselves and left shortly afterward headed for Pastor Ben Nbasa’s church.
His church had been meeting in a building without a roof for several years. Walls had been in place, and a fine layer of straw covered the dirt floor, but blue tarps provided the only shelter until three weeks ago when they were finally able to have a roof installed. The service was about three hours long, with worship, testimonies, a message from Pastor Moses, and several introductions. Children worshiped in the middle of the room while parents and adults were against the walls near sets of benches, and the passion of this congregation’s worship was powerfully sincere.
After the service, Pastor Ben invited the team to his offices for a lunch which a member of his staff had prepared for us. We had chicken, eggs, and soda, but what pulled some of us up short was the chicken. It didn’t look like chicken. And maybe that’s just because we’re so used to seeing nice and neat chunks of boneless meat arranged on a silver platter. It was strange pulling off hunks of chicken off random bits of bone, but we were hungry, and it was good. Grease coated our fingers as we got up from the table to wash and say goodbye as we headed off to visit yet another church.
People have welcomed us by giving us bottles of water. At first I thought it was a one-time thing, but it’s happened everywhere we’ve gone. Churches and schools have all thanked us for visiting by giving us bottles of water. What must it cost for these leaders to buy us water when they cannot afford it for themselves or their families?
A swarm of children – literally – would surround you if you took their picture and showed it to them. It was amazing how many children would crowd, pushing, shoving, hands reaching, necks craning, to get a glimpse at the bright screen that showed them what they looked like. Erin, Bart, and I took many pictures of these children, bright white teeth flashing, huge brown eyes gaping, colorful dresses and tattered shirts staring into the camera, it was adorable and endearing to see the excitement on their faces to see the Mzungus taking photos of them.
The church in this community was in a small mud-caked building no longer than 40 feet long. In spite of its size, it was packed with believers worshiping God. Drums, clapping, and children’s voices dominated the hot, still air as these wonderful Christians sang with all their hearts. After introductions were made, with many Hallelujahs and Amens, we were asked to sing a song for the congregation. It’s a good thing Bart had gotten Erin and me to sing “In Christ Alone” on the earlier drive; we all got up there and sang it for the believers, who picked out a drumbeat and clapped with us. Then three ladies from the congregation blessed us with a song, complete with choreographed movements and harmonies. Shortly after that, we made our way from the church to the banks of Lake George which was some 300 yards away. We laughed as we watched several of the boys jumping in the shallow waters, doing flips and dunking each other until we noticed the water containers they had taken out there with them. And then we saw the cow-pies littering the ground near the water’s edge, and the trampled grass where the animals had come down to drink. Finally we realized that the people of that village drank from and bathed in the same water that cow dung was swept into during the rains, and that they shared this water source with the cows themselves. It pulled me up short when I saw this firsthand. Dysentery is only one of the many problems caused by the poor water quality, and there is no other water source available to them at present. And yet the incredible joy and hospitality these people had despite their circumstances astounded us: we were given several purified water bottles and a bag full of oranges from their fields.
Before heading home we stopped in at a well at the Kanara Gospel Center, where we discovered the well, which hasn’t even been up for a year, services 1,000 to 1,500 people a day and is still going strong. Although a part had gone bad within its first five months, the community leaders in charge of the well took the initiative to see to its repair and set it back on track, adding security measures to protect the pump lever from being unnecessarily abused. It was the first well we had seen with this added security protections.
While we were gone, Mary spent the day at the church in Kiburara and made beads with some of the ladies here. They’ve been working on creating beads from paper to make jewelry to sell. It’s a lot of work, but we’re working and praying toward great success for the ladies as they prepare to eventually go to market with their products.
Well, its bed time – but — The bar next door is blaring its music again. Last night they didn’t knock off until 3:30 AM, so we would appreciate prayers for another power outage (including an outage for their generator) so that we can be well rested for tomorrow’s work!
Thank you all!
The SMI Team
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