Alternate titles:
-Never Eating MSG Again
-Call To Action
-Blessing the Rains Down in Africa
-Oh, Kenya Air…
-Please Don’t Eat Janelle’s Face!
As you can probably guess from that opener, the past couple weeks have been jam-packed with all sorts of craziness, learning, growing and bonding. Where do I start? I guess the format for this update will be mostly bullet point style with a bit of expansion for some stories that need more of an explanation or are more significant than the others.
I’ll start where I left off: Vignale, Italy. Thursday morning Nico’s mom dropped Kate, Nico, Ian, Katie, Josh, Maddie and I off at the bus station in a little town nearby so we could take the bus to the train station and take the train from there to Milan. We were a little rushed to get ready because Kate and I were leaving that night and needed to have all our luggage with us, however we managed to make it to Milan without a problem. In Milan we left our bags at the station in a safe room so we could wander the city for a few hours without having to haul them around, then we started our adventure! We got all day underground passes for the metro system and started the tour. We saw the Duomo, the Ferrari shop, a lot of high-end shops like Prada and Luis Vuitton, wandered the city park and enjoyed some fantastic gelato at Chocolate. Kate and I had to be back at the station by 4:30 so we could get to the airport by 5:30 because our flight was leaving at 7:15. We got on the bus without a problem and made it to the airport with plenty of time, security is pretty minimal at the Milan Malpensa airport.
Our flight left on time and came in to Heathrow on time as well, which was great. After getting our bags we hopped on the Tube to get to the Victoria Station and, again, no problems! We walked from the Victoria Train Station to the Coach Station which took about 5-6 minutes and got there with plenty of time before our coach was supposed to leave at 11. The coach station was a little bit sketchy, but I felt ok because I wasn’t by myself and there were a ton of people around. The coach left on time and got to Manchester around 3:30 am, then the fun began. I had been emailing Andy Thomas Wednesday night around midnight right before I went to bed and had kind of worked out for the bus coming from Capernwray full of students going to Kenya to pick us up at the coach station, but we weren’t sure if we would get there at the same time so if we didn’t meet up Kate and I were going to walk two minutes to train station and take the train to the Manchester airport. (Sorry if this is super confusing… ces’t la vie) What ended up happening was that we got there and didn’t see any sign of the Capernwray van but we decided to give it exactly twenty minutes and then we would leave, we didn’t want to be hanging around the bus station at 3:30 in the morning for too long. So we waited…and waited…and just as we were grabbing our suitcases to leave the Capernwray bus pulled up! A perfect example of God’s great timing.
We all made it to the airport ok, but alas, when we went to switch out our suitcases it was discovered that my backpack that was meant to go to Kenya didn’t get put in the van at Capernwray. Luckily, I still had some essentials with me from traveling so I stuffed those in my tote bag, along with 6 Bibles because the bag I had to check was overweight. I met up with Raqi at the terminal as we were getting on our flight to Paris and we confirmed that the airline had told us we had to get our Paris-Nairobi boarding passes printed once we were in the airport in Paris. The flight went fairly well, apart from being completely exhausted, and we got in to Paris on time. We only had an hour and a half to make our other flight so we were a little rushed, but at that point had decided there was no point in worrying because God was going to work it out for us to make our flight. We found the desk right when our flight was supposed to be boarding but found out it had been delayed, we were pretty happy because then we wouldn’t have to run to our gate. We made it to the gate and found out that yes, our flight had been delayed…. for ten hours. Immediately, the airline offered us a hotel voucher so we would have a place to hang out during the day, meal vouches, and phone cards. It was pretty great, we went out of the airport (I got my passport stamped, so I can officially say I have been to Paris) and headed to the hotel. We got cleaned up and were able to take a nap before heading back to the airport around 6:30. When we got there we found out our flight was delayed again, this time from 8pm to 9:30pm. More waiting. We finally got on our flight and had a decent flight, except the screen on the back of the seat in front of me didn’t work and the headphone port for Raqi didn’t work either.
When we got in to the Nairobi airport we got through customs and got our visas without a problem, however no one was waiting for us at the airport. A lady showed us where we could use a phone for free and we tried calling Andy, but there was no answer. So we waited outside the airport for about 45 minutes to see if someone would show up, then we went inside again and tried calling one more time. This time Andy picked up and told us there was a woman called Flo who had gone to the airport to pick us up, we hadn’t seen her somehow so when we went back to the arrivals area, there she was, holding a sign with our names on them. We felt pretty bad that we hadn’t seen her earlier, but it had been pretty crowded. She took us back to Word of Life where we finally met up with the rest of the team. From here I’ll give bullet points based on the day, and if I can, send a link to the blog we posted on while we were in Kenya to give a better idea of what we did.
Saturday – Raqi and I arrive, the team splits up. Kate and I go to an all girls’ school Bible study and the rest of the students go to a JD boys’ school.
Sunday – The teams splits up again. Kate, Timmy and I go to Spring Valley slum where the church that the man we went to the school with the day before is associated with is located. All three of us had an opportunity to speak.
Monday – Visited a school and split into groups, Timmy and I go to one of the classrooms together and share the gospel using the “four points” method. There was a bit of a language barrier, so we’re not sure how effective that visit was. That evening the entire team went to the University of Nairobi to do door-to-door evangelism in the dorms. Emily and I paired up and went with a woman called Janet to visit the girls’ dorms.
Tuesday – More schools, different groups. Kate, Thomas and I went to a classroom where we shared the gospel and a few children came to Christ. That night we went to the university again and this time I went with Edoo, who organised the visit, and we went to the boys’ dorms this time. We had some super good conversations and I could really tell God was bringing certain verses and analogies to mind at just the right time in the conversation.
Wednesday –
Thursday – We visited another school, this one was on the outskirts of Kibera, and shared the gospel. Afterwards we visited the homes of some of the students, it was eye opening to see the sort of poverty that causes four people to live in a room that’s only big enough to fit one bed, a couch and a loveseat. It was also eye-opening to see the student’s brother being sick in the ditch right outside the house, the ditch we had been walking next to for the past ten minutes or so. That night was decision night, the team had to decide if they were going to Tanzania for the weekend or not. What we decided was that the rest of the team would go while Emily and I stayed at Word of Life to work with the students at the Bible school there and get to know them better.
Friday – The rest of the team left at 4am while Emily and I hung out until 10:30 (someone was supposed to take us to a school so we could speak but no one showed up, woops) and then we went to help in the kitchen. There was a transition ceremony because some new leadership was coming in to Word of Life and they were going to have a big lunch so the kitchen needed all the help they could get. That afternoon we visited an orphanage that was also in a transition phase, the children were being moved to a new home across Nairobi so there were only a few there when we visited but we shared the gospel anyway and encouraged the children who were already Christians.
Saturday – Emily and I went to Flo’s church for a ladies’ prayer breakfast where we spoke and Emily threw up (she took her malaria medicine before eating instead of after). After that she went back to Flo’s house to rest and I went to another church with Flo where we ended up passing out fliers to the people in the neighborhood to invite them to church. When we got back to Word of Life I was really tired so I went to lay down and rest for a little while. I ended up reading the beginning of a book called “The Art of Compassion”, I won’t tell you what it’s about but I’ll mention that it encouraged me to pray for an “extra step”. That’s probably really vague so I’ll try to explain a little more, I didn’t feel that I had really been connecting with the people in Kenya and I wanted to come back with more than an “I’ve been to Kenya” badge so I prayed that God would give me an opportunity to do a little extra, go a little farther. After praying I fell asleep and when I woke up I thought it was Thursday, so I was really confused when I went outside and no one was playing football (soccer) on the pitch. I ended up talking to one of the young women who is related to some of the staff members at Word of Life and she really opened up to me. After talking for about half an hour she shared something really personal with me and it seemed like an answer to prayer, I had the opportunity to cry with her for a little while and then pray with her. The rest of the team got back from Tanzania around 10pm and I was glad I didn’t go! The Americans had to pay $100 for a visa to get in to Tanzania and then another $25 to get back in to Kenya. The rest of the team did enjoy themselves and had a good bonding time during the 10+ hour drive it took to get there and back, but I was so glad I got to know Emily better and the experience of talking to the young woman.
Sunday – Safari! We took the day off and went to Lake Nakuru National Park to see the animals. We didn’t see any lions or elephants, the park doesn’t have elephants and all the lions were being sneaky, but we saw tons of gazelle, impalas, water buffalo, a couple rhinos, some pheasants, a ton of zebras, a warthog, flamingos and lots and lots of giraffes! Not to mention the baboons, who tried to attack Janelle. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, only one tried to attack Janelle. We were starting to drive away from a look-out point and this baboon charged the van and jumped on the window right by Janelle’s face. We all screamed and panicked, which I think must have scared the baboon because he jumped off the van. That was definitely the most exciting part of the day! However, the entire day was an incredible and beautiful experience. We got back to Word of Life around 9:30ish and promptly went to bed because….
Monday – our first day of camps, and we had to be at the camp by 8, an hour and a half later than the rest of the students and we only got to go late the first day because of the safari. It took and hour to get to the school where we were having camp and then we had to make breakfast for the children. After breakfast was Bible hour, then a quiet time for the children, then a group discussion. During the quiet time we were supposed to spend quality time with one child and get to talk to them. After the group discussion was morning games, which was really a tribal sing-off kind of thing so we sat in the van for a little nap because we didn’t know what was going on. After games was lunch, then free time when we were supposed to spend quality time with another kid, then afternoon games (which we lead Tuesday and Wednesday) and then Show Time (when the kids got to put on a miniature talent show). Then we debriefed how the day went, any conversions that occurred, any problems or prayer requests and what we were going to do the next day.
Tuesday – same, except we woke up at 4:30 because we had to leave by 5. We went to the university again in the evening, again I went with Edoo and had some really good conversations.
Wednesday – same, minus the university. The really exciting part of the day was that I shared the gospel with my discussion group and about 8 of the children came to Christ! It was really encouraging to see, especially one girl named Janet who I had been talking to about the gospel for the past couple days but just had not understood. I really think there was some sort of spiritual barrier there because I explained it in the simplest terms I could think of several different ways and she just couldn’t get it. She couldn’t even repeat back to me what I had told her and I know she’s a smart girl, we had talked a lot. Then, it finally got through to her!
Thursday – disaster strikes. For me at least. I ate some peanuts Wednesday night that, unbeknownst to me, were covered in MSG (my personal kryptonite). The result was I was up all Wednesday night/Thursday morning being sick and was unable to go to the camps or eat anything until 8pm. One of the workers at Word of Life named Loma was super sweet and came to check on me multiple times throughout the day. Andy decreed that night that I was not to go to the camp on Friday so that I would be able to travel that night.
Friday – I spent the day packing, relaxing, praying/reading my Bible and getting to know Loma a little better. It was incredible, I could look at Loma and literally see Jesus’ love shining through her. She packed some chapati for me (basically a wheat flour tortilla) and sent me off with Flo. We met up with Raqi and Josh at a gas station. Flo’s husband Harry drove us to the airport and dropped us off at the curb. We went through security, which was the easiest thing ever. When we got up to the baggage drop area we found out that our flight was delayed 12 hours, the airline said they would put us in a hotel, feed us and drive us back to the airport in the morning. However, we decided we didn’t think that would work out (due to traffic, sketchy food/hotel accommodation plus we just wanted to get back to Capernwray) so we were able to get on to a flight that would take us to London and then we would catch a plane to Manchester.
Saturday – Midnight we departed the Nairobi airport, our flight went well with no strange/unpleasant incidents and we arrived around 7am. Again, we had to go to a different airline desk to get our boarding passes for the next flight so we set off for Terminal One (we had arrived in Terminal Four), took the shuttle, got through security and jumped in the customs line. Raqi got through without any problems (she’s an EU citizen, which basically means they don’t look at your passport, they just stamp it and let you in), and I got through quickly. Josh, however, had a problem. His passport had been stolen right before he went to Kenya and, miraculously, was able to get an emergency passport the morning he left. Unfortunately, the customs man didn’t like the look of his emergency passport and proceeded to get Josh’s entire life story. The sad part is, I’m not kidding when I saw that I could write Josh’s biography, I know everywhere he’s worked in the past three years and what his parents do for a living. After about 40 minutes the customs agent decided he needed to detain Josh further, so Josh told us to go ahead and catch our flight and he would meet up with us in Manchester or at Capernwray, depending on flight times, etc. When we got to the desk we were told that we had missed our flight, and because it was custom’s fault the airlines couldn’t really help us except to put us on a later flight. The next available flight being 5pm, oh wait, 9pm. Needless to say, Raqi and I were pretty upset by this, especially when we got a text from Josh a while later while we were still trying to sort everything out saying that he was going to be on the 5pm flight. After going back and forth between Terminal One and Terminal Four while trying to get everything sorted, and going through security four times we managed to get on stand-by for the 5pm flight. Then, somehow we found Josh! London Heathrow is a huge airport, we didn’t think we would see him until it was time to go to the gate. We were really glad to see him, we weren’t sure what they were going to do when they detained him, plus we didn’t have to wait for 10 hours in the airport by ourselves. The rest of day was spent sleeping, hanging out in a restaurant, playing cards and just getting to know each other better. When the gate was announced we walked over and found out right away that Raqi and I were confirmed for the flight, a huge answer to prayer. Our flight to Manchester only took 25 minutes, which seems crazy because we sat in the airport for 10 hours for a 25 minute flight…yeah. When we got to Manchester we found a hotel with a TV where we could watch the Manchester United v. Manchester City game (Man City won), and then the Barcelona v. Real Madrid game until the rest of the team flew in just a few hours later. Brady (one of the RA’s at Capernwray, my “uncle” in my new family group this term) picked us up and drove us all back to Capernwray, arriving at midnight to a really great welcome from all the Winter School students who stayed for Spring School. I went round to see people and then went up to my room, one of my room mates was already in bed but not asleep yet so I got to meet her briefly before crashing.
Thanks again so much for praying for me! The team could definitely tell there was a lot of prayer and I still can’t believe everything worked out for Kate and I to get from Milan to Nairobi, but Jesus was there the whole time and worked absolutely everything out.
Oh, and a word of explanation for why this has taken so long for you to receive. Unfortunately, the website I have been using for blogging has been blocked at the school now so I’m going to have to go back to sending updates to mom and dad so they can forward them to everyone. Sorry it’s taken so long for you to get updated!