- Written by Kimberly Pepmiller Kimberly Pepmiller
- Created: 14 July 2013 14 July 2013
Roosters crowing and birds chirping … the morning sounds in Kisii, Kenya. After trying out, and surviving, the unique showering experience, breakfast was served at the hotel. Eggs, sausage, homemade bread, pineapple and passion fruit juice.
The majority of the day was spent worshiping with the people of Kenya. And yes, I mean that this took up a significant portion of the day (not just the hour or two we are used to spending at church on Sunday morning).
We drove to a local congregation nearby called the Lutheran Church of Botoro. This congregation belongs to the ELCK, which I believe is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya. We were exuberantly greeted by the bishop elect and two of the pastors. Church began around 10:30 (remember, time is relative here), and we worshiped until about 1:30 PM.
As visitors, we were escorted into the church last and were seated in the very front pews. The majority of the service was in Swahili, but at times they would translate for us. A very neat gesture is that Pastor Bill, who is the LCMS pastor in our group, gave the sermon during the service. The bishop elect translated into Swahili as he preached. We also had the opportunity to give offerings and take communion with the congregation. The praise singing during the service is something else! The choir leader starts singing from out in the congregation, and then slowly the choir members move to the front and offer their singing praises with actions and all. There were at least three different choirs that offered their praises. This was definitely my favorite part of the service.
At the end of the church service there was time for announcements, and we all were asked to come up front and introduce ourselves. They also advertised the clinic we will be running this week. The medical clinic will be held on the grounds of this Botoro Lutheran Church complex.
At the end of the service we walked out while hearing “Jesus Loves Me” being sung in Swahili. Pretty neat! And then almost every member in attendance came by and shook our hands. They seem to be very welcoming and quite appreciative. We learned that members from several outlying congregations who could make the journey came to the service today at Botoro. That is quite the gesture, as the sole mode of transportation for most Kenyans here in Kisii is walking.
The Lutheran Church of Botoro does have schools on their complex grounds as well. There is a primary and a secondary school. Apparently the teachers in Kenya are on strike right now, so school is not in session. Normally, however, school is year round. We received a tour of the administration building and learned about the education received there. Then the church women served us a lunch they made in our honor. They prepared chicken, goat, ugali (corn meal), rice and some sort of homemade tortilla-type food. It was almost like a Lutheran potluck or meal served by the Saint John's church women!
Following lunch we briefly met with some African people who will be helping with the clinic this week. The clinic will be held in what used to be the pastor's house on the church grounds. The three people who will be primarily working with us are a medical officer (seems similar to health department personnel to me, as he will advise on tuberculosis and the specific treatment of other diseases in Kenya), a pharmacist, who will help us distribute medications, and a counselor. These three are professional workers here in Kenya. They advised that many people will attend our clinic and follow directions because they feel like they are being cured if they are receiving medications and care from white Americans. They also advised that we will see many issues that arise from hygiene problems, such as ring worm. Sounds like we may be doing lots of public health education. I imagine we will be learning and adjusting as we go on the clinic days.
The afternoon and evening led to the sorting of all the supplies we brought with us to Africa, many of which were graciously donated. We sorted supplies into categories and counted out medications that can be given to patients as treatments for them to take home. Our group has been graciously blessed by all of the supplies donated and purchased for our use!
Dinner was at the hotel and consisted of fried fish, potatoes, kale and the tortilla-like food. I think these food items are staples here in Africa!
So tomorrow our real work here begins. I imagine the care we will provide, the people we will meet and the conditions we will see will be very eye opening. While we cannot perform healing miracles like Jesus did, the ability to provide health care and assist with healing is a true miracle, and we are looking forward to supplying some much-needed hope, assistance, and care.
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.