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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Matthew 11:28

Jambo from Africa!

Last night provided a much-needed rest at the Scripture Mission! We actually awoke to a brisk morning, a reminder that it's winter in Africa. The daylight was much appreciated and allowed for our first explorations in Kenya outside the mission house. We actually saw several small monkeys on the roof of the mission! Breakfast was provided and included eggs, sausages and bananas.

The morning brought a brief orientation on the medical clinic we will be running during the week and on the Kenyan people we will be encountering and serving. I think we are in for quite the experience! Several unique differences about the African culture and people that we will be encountering include:

  • The African people are not time oriented. There is "no hurry in Africa". Things will get done once everyone arrives, so do not be tight on time.
  • The African people are not planners. "Now is now."
  • The African people are more focused on relationships with people rather than being task oriented. They would rather develop a relationship with and get to know you than be concerned about how much is getting accomplished.
  • The African people use indirect communication. They will involve others to help resolve an issue or will talk around the issue. Confronting or accusing a person will cause shame to the person.

The team I am serving with includes twelve members: a retired orthopedic surgeon, a family nurse practitioner, six registered nurses, a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod pastor and three lay people. Many of these team members have been on medical mission trips before, and I have no doubt that their expertise will be invaluable! We have a LCMS missionary with us from the U.S. who has been in Africa for three years. She is helping to organize the trip. We also have a Kenyan woman with us who works for the LCMS as an office manager. She speaks Swahili and is also helping to coordinate the details of the trip. In addition, today we were joined by two African men who work for Lutheran Hour Ministries. In the evenings, after clinic, they will be showing the Jesus film in Swahili and will invite the people to Christ.

Following orientation we loaded the rack on top of the bus with all of the luggage. Based on the stares from the African people as we drove by, I think we made quite the spectacle driving through Kenya today—a bus full of white people piled high with luggage!

Our afternoon was a six-hour traverse across Kenya, from Nairobi to Kisii. We saw beautiful scenery along the way! Agriculture appears to be a large economic contributor here, and we were able to see crops of corn, wheat, tea and coffee. There were even several John Deere corn pickers spotted along the way! Manual labor appears to be the way of life. We saw workers along the road laying out corn to dry as individual kernels. We also observed road construction workers laying stone for drainage one stone at a time and others working to break up larger stones into gravel. Many younger boys were seen herding sheep and cattle. Donkeys are frequently seen pulling carts and carrying heavy loads. The small villages we passed through contained stands on the side of the road where people sold anything from fruit to luggage, furniture and livestock. Since it is Saturday, there were many people out and about at the local markets.

Along the journey, we stopped at the Great Rift Valley. It was beautiful! The valley reaches from the Red Sea all the way to Mozambique and covers nearly 10,000 km of land. This stop allowed for some shopping of African goods for the first time. The second stop was for lunch at a restaurant along the way. We had chicken, rice, potatoes, kale, watermelon and pineapple.

We arrived at the Bluu Nile Hotel in Kisii in the early evening. This is a new lodging location for the LCMS to use, so the manager is very obliging and hoping to offer us the very best. We each have our own room, which is quite the treat. Hotels in Africa are far different from the U.S. My room includes a bed with a complimentary mosquito net.

The bathroom is the most interesting, I think. The toilet is right next to the shower, which just juts out of the wall, no shower stall or outer barrier at all. There is a switch on the wall that turns on the instant water heater. And there is a drain at the back of the room that drains out the shower water. This is a unique experience, for sure!

Dinner was our first true experience with African time, as it was served over an hour late, and there were no apologies and no hurry to get it going any faster. We had fried chicken, rice, kale, french fries and watermelon (starting to notice a pattern??).

The evening finished with our nightly devotion time. Pastor Bill brought up a great scripture from Isaiah 6:8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here I am. Send me!'" At some point each one of us on this mission trip said, "Send me!” And we are here by the grace and protection of God. In our lives, He had been preparing us for this very experience, and now we are here to do His work and witness for Him. In your life, where is God calling you to go? And are you ready to answer with, “Send me!”?

Saint John's member Kimberly Pepmiller is in Africa through July 25 with ten other doctors and nurses, lending her medical skills at clinics in Kisii, Kenya, operated by the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod's Mercy Medical Team.