Teleios Ministry

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rest, Relax And Good-Bye...Teleios Africa 2007

Day 18…Wrapping Up A Great Trip

Today will probably be my last blog posting. I plan to do a little shopping, hike a mountain behind the Children’s Home, say good-bye to the children, and then head to bed early.

Tomorrow we leave at 5 a.m. which is 10 p.m. Wednesday for you in the eastern U.S. With God’s blessing, I will arrive in Greenville on Friday at 5 p.m. Please pray for a safe and breakdown free trip from Iringa to Dar Es Salaam (about six and one-half hours).

Pray for all to go well at the Dar airport and as I go through Customs and that my ticket will be there for me. I will have a seven-hour layover in the Nairobi airport. Pray that I stay out of trouble and awake. I will journey to the U.S. via Heathrow in London.

This has been a great trip, but I really look forward to being at home.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

True Expressions Of Joy...Teleios Africa 2007

Day 17…Delivery Of Science Equipment Brings Excitement

The students at Spring Valley Secondary School for Girls eagerly wait for their turn to try the new microscopes.

New anatomical models will provide opportunities for more in-depth science of study.

This morning, the microscopes, the anatomical models, and books were delivered to the Spring Valley Secondary School for Girls.

Currently, there are 114 girls attending the school. After the formalities of meeting with the Business Manager and Academic Dean, who are also the English and History teachers, I had the opportunity to meet with the girls during their team break. They were so excited to learn of the microscopes, models, Internet access, and computers, which are ready to ship from the U.S. and should be in place by the time they return to school in late July. They were so happy to hear the news.

After the break, we went to the science lab to show the teachers and students how to use the new microscopes and work with the models. The new microscopes are powered by rechargeable batteries. Purchasing this type of microscope proved to be a great decision because the electricity went off just as we were starting to use the microscopes. Now, whether there is electricity or not is no problem. Everyone was really excited when they learned that they were portable and could be used even when the electricity was off.

It was like a Christmas morning scene as we unwrapped the microscopes and unpackaged the models. What was going to be a short time together turned into almost a three-hour lab experience. When the students learned that they could make their own slides, they were ready to do it then. I was surprised by how much they really enjoyed the spinal column model, eye model, heart model, human body model, and the frog skeleton.

Osward Msemwa, the Academic Dean, brought prepared slides from previous trip. The students wanted to see every slide on every magnification. They were really excited when they actually got to work with the microscopes and look at the slides and not just watch Bedasto Mwaitenda, the Biology/Chemistry Teacher. We had prayer together, and they sent their deep appreciation. The girls were also asking about Zechariah who came on the June/July mission team last year.

The Spring Valley School was the highest ranking new school out of 298 secondary schools. In the final academic ranking, the school finished 22nd out of 298. This was the first time that the students of Spring Valley had taken the national exam for Form II students. Form II is equal to our eighth grade level.

Every Form II student takes the national exam. The average of all student grades determines the ranking. This was an outstanding achievement for Spring Valley. The girls have set a goal to be in the Top 10 this coming year. One of the girls said that she was working to become the Number One student in all of Tanzania.

At the end of this school year, the Spring Valley School was the top-ranked girls’ school in the Iringa region. While this is certainly good news, it has created a problem – other schools are now targeting the Spring Valley teachers and trying to hire them away.

Last year, Civics textbooks were purchased for the school by a Teleios partner. Spring Valley’s Academic Dean attributed the opportunity for the students to have these textbooks as the direct link that led to them being Number One in Civics among the schools. Their average on the national exam was an A.

Although the Spring Valley students finished in the Top Five in Science within their district of 63 schools, it is still an area in which they consider themselves weak. However, I think that they soon will be Number One in science, as well.

Please continue to pray for the girls and the school as they move forward. The long range plans are now to add another class each year until they offer high school as well as secondary school. They will begin having two sections of each grade (now they have one).

In the afternoon, Frank Mwaisumbe and I went over future economic development opportunities and just relaxed and enjoyed our friendship. Frank now has the capacity to assist mission teams, university research or business clients from the U.S. with a complete range of services. This is an exciting development for our partnership in business development that affects ministry. Also, we have worked out plans for a chicken and egg business and a pork farm. Please pray for these new opportunities.

In the evening, Mpeli and Neema hosted a dinner for me with Frank and Ann. The meal included fish – you know, the ones that road home from Mbeya with us. We had a great time together.

Floyd works with the teacher to help instruct the students in microscope techniques.

Students get a first-hand look at how the eye works.

A model skeleton will give the students an opportunity to learn bones, as well as internal organs.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Talents, Teachers And God's Vision...Teleios Africa 2007

Day 16…The Gift In Helping Shape A Better Future

Like an artist creating a masterpiece, young Alex has become quite adept at designing and sewing beautiful quilts.

The new swingsets at the DBL Children's Home are enjoyed by all.

This morning, we left Mbeya for Iringa. Nothing really exciting happened, except just before we reached Iringa, one of the fish we had tied to the front grille came loose. It landed in the grass on the side of the road. We picked it up and took the other fish off the front grille and put them both into the back of the Nissan Patrol. Oh, did you know people actually tried to grab our fish off the front grille when we were driving slow through towns. There are some nervy people between Mbeya and Iringa, actually between Makumbako and Iringa.

Up arriving at the DBL Children’s Home, Mpeli and I saw Alex, the cook and soccer coach, showing five boys how to chop down a big tree. The government said it had to go because of the “road” (a dirt path). Alex and the boys were taking turns chopping down the tree. Alex was teaching them the proper way to fell a tree. Because this is a school break, the children were playing on the new playground swings. They really enjoy the swings. Some were playing soccer.

Neema had a surprise for me. She took me to the sewing room to show me the other children who really enjoy sewing. One of the boys, Alex, is quite good. The children, along with the staff, have completed almost seven comforters and quilts.

Alex created the design and made his own quilt for sale. If only you could see the brightness in his eyes as he showed me his creation. From the dull, blank expression of a child slave who worked without purpose a little over a year ago, he works today as an artist creating a masterpiece. Alex not only creates but also teaches. The children have an instructor who teaches them how to sew, but Alex is the best teacher. While I was there, a girl sat down at the sewing machine next to his – she was his student.

Before anyone gets the idea that this is a textile sewing factory exploiting children, it is not. This is an elective course, so to speak. The children are free to choose an activity. While some played on swings, Alex created with a sewing machine – choosing his colors, cloths, and patterns. He also shared his gift by teaching others with the same joy and smile. A great picture of what God intended for work to accomplish in our lives.

What can I say, BABA (that’s me ol’ grandpa) has agreed to purchase the masterpiece. The funds help the Children’s Home cover the expense of the sewing class and supplies, but Mpeli and Neema are working out a means to save the profits from each child’s work for when they must go on their own in the future.

This Training Center will provide the students with the skills, tools and resources to help establish themselves in business. Pray for wisdom as Mpeli and Neema work out these details. They do not want anyone to see the children as being misused or taken advantage of. Another concern is how to determine other skill-related opportunities for those children who do not sew but are very good students.

One area currently being explored is carpentry. Some of the students are now learning the basic aspects of this trade. This process is taking longer. I really am proud of the children.

One issue that is coming soon is what about the children who will go to boarding school as they become older. The problem is that current government regulations are not clear on what happens to these students during holidays. They cannot be with the younger children in the dorm, but Mpeli and Neema want them back at the Children’s Home, and it’s obvious that the children want to be there, as well. Please pray for wisdom for Mpeli, Neema, and the Daily Bread Life leadership as they work out a solution.

For supper, we purchased a real pizza prepared by Elias. He is an evangelist and helps Mpeli pastor the Kidetete church. His wife is one of the teachers at the Kidetete Nursery School. He opened his new business just a few months ago offering “American food.” The business provides them the freedom to do their ministry. So far, he is doing a great job – everything is made from scratch. The pizza was really very good.

The day ended sharing with the children in their devotion time. They sang, prayed, and then I spoke. I shared with them from Philippians 1:3-7a. I assured them that they were being prayed for by you, our Teleios partners; that they were deeply loved and not forgotten.

We closed by praying together holding hands in a large circle. Each one came and shook my hand, and some hugged me. “Have a good night,” they all said in English. There was even a classic “Have a good night, sleep tight” – and from a child who only learned English this year! Mpeli did not know where he got that phrase from. The devotion time was truly a time of worship and another special time for me. The opportunity to be a part of ministry with these children is available for you.

Also on Sunday, I visited another village near Mbeya where another children’s home is needed. The Rev. Scout has started a mission point in that village. He said, ‘Every week there is another funeral of parents due to HIV/AIDS.” The new mission is almost overwhelmed with orphans.

The church has been giving a meal to the children each week. They keep coming, and every week there are more. They are not just coming for food but to be with people who love them and protect them. The mission has started a nursery type school to teach the children the very basics.

Pray for the mission and for Rev. Scout and his family as they minister in this area.

Alex, soccer coach and cook, teaches a group of students the proper technique in chopping down a tree.

Agnes prepares patches of cloth for the quilt she is making.

The day closed with Floyd and the children sharing in devotion and prayer.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Praise, Worship And Believe...Teleios Africa 2007

Day 16…What A Day Of Rejoicing This Was!

The Baptist Church in Mbeya has three choirs that praise God through singing and dancing during the worship service.

The choir's song about witnessing to the lost and celebrating when Jesus returns was a perfect lead-in for Floyd's message, 'Believe The Gospel.'

The morning began with an invigorating cold shower. That was just the beginning of an unbelievably worshipful and refreshing day in the Lord.

The morning worship service at Baptist Church in Mbeya, Tanzania, was one of the most joyful and meaningful worship services that I have experienced. Its pastor, the Rev. Mwasifiga, is a strong and humble servant. He started the church in a small one-room house, and today it is one of the largest Baptist churches in Tanzania.

The church has three choirs—they were the best African choirs I have ever heard. The first choir leads in local traditional tribal songs in the native language and dance. The second choir leads by incorporating contemporary African music with dance from different tribal groups. The energy that these two choirs bring to worship is unbelievable. I videoed some of their performances, but the video does not do justice to the quality of their music and the joy of their spirit. The third choir is formed from married men and women (they are also a little older). While my heart was with the other two choirs, my body would definitely have to be with the third choir.

At one point in the service, the pastor called forward all the students having exams over the next week. I had the privilege of praying for them as they prepare for and take their exams.

The offering time of the service was a very public affair. Two ladies, each having a sisal braided basket, received the offering – one basket was for the building fund and the other was for the general offering. We all danced and sang our way to the front to give our offerings.

I had hoped to send you pictures of some of the early part of the service, but two things happened. One, the choir moved so fast that my camera could not keep up and the pictures were blurred. Two, while singing, the choir jumped so high that I have the choir without heads. But, again, I can’t wait to show the videos.

The choirs sang just before I preached. The song was a powerful one about witnessing to the lost ending with a celebration of the joy of the redeemed when Jesus returns. I cannot express the feeling that I had when I stepped into the pulpit. Frank Mwaisumbe translated my message on “Believe the Gospel.”

At the end of the worship, the pastor, Frank, Mpeli and I went outside to greet the worshippers. What I saw next really amazed me. After we greeted the worshippers, they joined our line. The greeting line ended up including all the worshippers. By the time everyone was out of the church, there must have been 300 or more people in the line.

After lunch, we traveled to the highlands area toward the Zambia and Malawai border. We met with one of our partners in Daily Bread Life, the Rev. Pawde Scout. He led us on a tour of the Southern Highlands all the way to the Malawai border. We greeted pastors, visited schools and families.

At Lake Malawai, we purchased local trout to take back home. In order to keep them refrigerated, the fish were tied to the front of the Nissan Patrol. The cool air keeps the fish fresh. You should have seen the border police laughing and looking at us as we passed a police checkpoint—fish on each side of the front grill and bumper.

What a day this has been. Thank you for your prayers, encouragement and partnership in the Gospel.

Each participant in the worship service helps form the greeting line as they leave the church.

No ice chest? No problem...keeping the fish refrigerated is easily remedied by tying them to the front of the car.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Visible Works Of God...Teleios Africa 2007

Day 14…The Kidetete Blessing and Soccer

Students at the Kidetete School eagerly raise their hands in anticipation of being called upon to answer the teacher's question.

Children at the Daily Bread Life Children's Home enjoy a competitive game of soccer against the village team.

Isyana, one of the children from the Daily Bread Life Children's Home, ranked Number One in Academics in school.

The children at Kidetete were all smiles as Floyd and Phileas gave each of them their very first Tootsie Roll Pop candy.

Today was truly a blessing visiting the Kidetete Nursery School and the Daily Bread Life (DBL) Children’s Home. The joy and thankfulness of being a part of what God is doing with these children and communities is a privilege beyond measure.

This morning, Mpeli Mwaisumbe, pastor of Kidetete Baptist Church and Supervisor for the DBL Children’s Home, and I went to Kidetete to visit the Nursery School.

First, when I asked about one young teacher (17 years old) who started teaching with the school two years ago, I learned that she had moved away to be married. Her father wanted the cows that he could get for her in dowry, so her marriage was arranged. Delia is the teacher who took her place. Delia is 25 years old and has finished her teaching education. She is an excellent teacher.

As I walked into the small class room, the children greeted me in English. I saw the walls filled with pictures, the alphabet, numbers, and drawings. Last June, Anne Davis encouraged the teachers to put pictures on the wall. I also recognized the shoes sent over in January gathered by Kristi Parker and brought to the school by Kip and Derrick Miller on their trip. This was the last day of school for a month. The children were sitting at new desks given through the Christmas catalog last year.

The children were smiling, laughing, and very excited to share what they had learned. The village leaders have given the school their approval as the village school. Twenty-six of the school’s students have moved on to primary school. They were tested, passed the entry test (yes, an entry test for primary school), and are now going to primary school. This is a great accomplishment for the children and the school.

After school ended, each child was given their progress report and work sheet. That’s when the reality of what life for a five-year-old could be. One five-year-old girl got her younger brother who is less than two years old, tied him on her back, and started for home. She was one of four children who had younger brothers and sisters to care for while attending school. As they left, the children received their first-ever Tootsie Roll Pop. Chalkboards, crayons, paper, activity books, balls, and other items given by Teleios partners were presented to the school.

In front of the church and school is the village drinking water supply. A large, six-foot hole with the sides covered in grass and weeds provides water for drinking, washing and rinsing of clothes, and other needs that require water. Please pray for safe, clean drinking water.

On the way back to the village, we passed women carrying every imaginable thing on their heads, from water and firewood to a 50-pound sack of charcoal.

In the afternoon, the DBL children went to a local playground for soccer. The boys were loosening up doing DBL-style jumping jacks led by Alex, who is one of the cooks and the soccer coach. They jumped into the air pulling their feet up and touching them with their hands—at least 10 times each—amazing! Then, they took on the local village boys in a friendly game of soccer.

The DBL teams’ skills were very impressive. Soon, they were winning 3-0. After about 45 minutes of constant soccer, the village team managed to score twice. One score was very questionable as the ball “went through” the bamboo poles that formed the sides of the goal. However, the shot was about 15 feet high—it counted.

In the end, though, the DBL team won 3-2. Mpeli proudly proclaimed that the DBL team has never lost to the village team. In fact, they are hoping to begin playing other children’s homes or schools. We are looking for soccer uniforms and shoes for the children. The girls were involved in a hot game of soccer themselves. No one was sure about the scoring as some of the girls played for both sides, but there was a lot of laughing and celebrating.

One of boys, William, was written about in a previous Teleios newsletter. When he came to the children’s home his legs were terribly scarred from insect bites, mainly from sleeping on infested animal skins. If you ask him now about what happened to his legs, he tells you, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

His story highlights one of the really interesting things that has happened here at Kidetete. Many of the children tell you that they cannot remember the bad things.

I met Simon and Daniel, two 13-year-old boys now at the Children’s Home. They had escaped from a work camp (a children’s slave camp). They worked with no food or shelter. Daniel was “almost gone.” Simon helped Daniel to escape with him.

They crossed a crocodile-infested river. No one knows how they did it—Mpeli says it was only God’s protection. Without food for three days they were found by a local Christian group and taken to the police. The boys were placed with DBL and are awaiting their fate. It seems that it takes six months before they can consider DBL home and go to school. Please pray for them they really want to stay at the Children’s Home.

Josephine, a beautiful but sick child, who we met last year, has left the home to live with family in Dar Es Salaam. When she came, Neema Mwaisumbe was told she was two years old. Her picture is featured in last year’s newsletter report on the June trip. Neema and Mpeli did research and found out that she was five years old not two. Please pray for her as the staff is uncertain about her family in Dar taking proper care of her.

Samuel, Mpeli and Neema’s son, is having a hard (but, enjoyable time) adjusting to being their son and not one of the orphan children. He does everything with his friends but sleep at the Children’s Home. Every morning, he wakes up early for devotion and breakfast at the Children’s Home before running home to change for school. In the afternoon and evening he eats lunch and dinner with the children, studies with the children, and plays with the children. Today, he ate twice when he was “forced” to eat lunch with the family and me.

Once again, a DBL student is Number One at school in Academics. This time it is Isyana, a young boy in the primary school. DBL students were Numbers 3, 4, 6 in their class. We are so proud of their success.

Tonight, Frank and Ann Mwaisumbe took me to the Miami restaurant. We enjoyed a great meal of roasted chicken, hot pepper sauce, goat ribs and bites, roasted bananas, and Cokes.

Floyd presents the gifts of chalkboards, crayons and balls for the students on behalf of the Teleios partners.

Many of the children recognize the blessing of being able to attend school, but they know the realities of their daily lives also include having the responsibility of caring for younger siblings at the same time.


Friday, June 08, 2007

The Children's Song Of Praise And Thanks...Teleios Africa 2007

Instruments Of God's Love

Here is the song that Agnes wrote and the children sang Thursday morning. Agnes is the 12-year-old girl who leads the children in singing.

The Children’s Song
All of us, we are orphans.
We are here at the DBL Center.
We are here in order to give thanks to God.
Thank you, Tanzania.
Thank you, Africa.
Thank you, world.
Showing us love and mercy.

Where would we be?
Where would we eat?
Where would we sleep?
Where would we go?
Where would we learn?
Where would we be? (What would happen to us?)

Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you Lord God!
Thank you for love and mercy!


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Truly, A Day Of Blessing...Teleios Africa 2007

Day 13…We Praise The Lord!

Halima, baptized by Floyd last summer, volunteered to say a prayer for him and his family.

Two girls walk down the road toward school.

One of Mpeli's twins stops for a chat with a friend.

This morning, I was greeted by the children at Daily Bread Life Ministries Children’s Home and Training Center. What a blessing and joy to be greeted with them singing, “Welcome.”

While waving green branches with great big smiles, they began to shake my hand and lay the branches at my feet. I was so overwhelmed that I did not take a picture.

The children were going to school to get their term reports. They waited to sing “We Praise The Lord,” then they sang in Swahili a new song they had written themselves about praising and glorifying the Lord because they were once orphans but now they have a family. The song was powerful and moving. (I hope to have the words translated by tomorrow’s blog.)

Halima, one of the children that I had baptized, volunteered to pray for me and my family – what a powerful blessing and moment for me. The children were asked if they remembered me, and they all said, “PAPA” — grandfather.” Mplei Mwaisumbe laughed letting me know that he had not coached them on what to say. The children are doing very good in school.

The Training Center work is under way. Some of the girls have begun quilting and learning to sew. I will be bringing a couple of comforters/quilts that they have made. Also, some of the children have been learning some basic aspects of carpentry.

We then visited Mpeli and Neema’s new home beside the Children’s Home. They have done a great job of working on the house and garden. Already, the children come over to their house with some spending the night from time to time. Neema cried as she prayed thanking God for the house.

Mpeli and I worked on some exciting new partnership opportunities involving a three-way partnership including Kenyan leaders. Also, we began working on new economic development possibilities to provide for the local support of the Children’s Home.

In the afternoon, I visited with Ann Mwaisumbe at her new kiosk business and then with Frank Mwaisumbe’s at his Stone Pity business at the Tumaini University. We spent the afternoon and evening talking about the need for new churches and leadership development of church leaders in Tanzania.

In all of this day, I found myself constantly thanking God for our partners in Tanzania as I watched the changed faces of the children, the joy of the staff, the tears of Mpeli and Neema, the vision of business as a calling that has captured Frank.

This was truly a day of blessing. If I ever wondered why Teleios, today gave me enough of an answer to last a lifetime.

Tomorrow, we travel to Kidetete School bearing chalkboards, crayons, chalk, balls, pictures, activity books, and many other things.

A mother walks with her daughter as they make their way to the school.

Students from the Children's Home are ready for school to start.

It was time for term reports, or more familiarly, "Report Card Time."

After a busy day, this first-grader heads home.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Longest Day - God's Provision...Teleios Africa 2007

Day 12…‘Home Sweet Home’

A break in the clouds allowed the sun to cover the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro which made it appear to be rising into heaven.

Frank and I began our safari to Iringa from Arusha at 5:30 a.m. When the first light of day began to appear, Mt. Kilimanjaro seemed to be covered in clouds. But soon, we saw the dawning of a new day as the sun began to rise illuminating the peak of the mountain.

There was one hole in the clouds that let the sun shine on the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The sun’s rays looked like the glory of God shining down. The peak of the mountain seemed to rise into heaven. We started our day with praise to God.

We traveled within 40 miles of the Tanzanian coast and then went south and then due west. As we passed from tribal area to tribal area, you could see the distinctions of each group.

First we went through banana country, then oranges, then tangerines. Because the rains had just started to end, the land was generally green. Corn and other crops were everywhere. I missed a real photo opportunity because I was shocked to see fields of sunflowers.

No matter how many times I come to Tanzania, I am amazed by all the people walking – the heavy loads women carry on their heads, and the very small children walking to school. We stopped for breakfast around 9:30 a.m. Can you believe they had sold out of goat soup! Frank asked, and sure enough new management!

Actually, the journey was uneventful until we were about 100 kilometers from Iringa.

We were riding through a remote mountain area and hit a hole in the road. A couple of miles later, the brake light came on. Frank and I were unable to get it repaired, so Frank drove on through the mountains and into Iringa with no brakes except the parking brake!

We made it giving thanksgiving and praise to God for His provision and protection. Once in Iringa, we did have the Nissan Patrol checked at the Al-Jazeera Restaurant and Hotel (I am serious) by a local mechanic. We decided to press on “pole-pole” (“slowly, slowly”). As we got close to Iringa, we experienced a first-ever June rain storm.

We arrived at Frank and Ann Mwaisumbe’s house in Iringa at 6:30 p.m. Thirteen hours of driving, two tangerines, three bananas, one Nature Valley snack, beef jerky, three bottles of water, and one can of Coke later, it was home sweet home for Frank and me.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

On The Road Again...Teleios Africa 2007

Day 11…Bumpy, But Beautiful Describes The Ride

The drive from Nairobi to Arusha means you sometimes have to 'Brake for Ostrich.'

A Masai shepherd keeps his eye on herds of goat and sheep.

Frank looked at me this morning and said, “Floyd, today we go home. You are a guest in Kenya, but now you go home.”

After a brief meeting over Chai, we said good-bye to Bernard. Jesse the CPA joined us for some business and Koinonia discussions. Then, we were off on our safari.

It seemed that most of our time was spent crossing Nairobi. As we were right outside of the city, we were pulled over by the local police. After a great deal of discussion, Frank was allowed to leave with me in the car.

What a ride to Arusha! Dodging potholes, washed out places in the roads, Masai sheep, goats, cattle, and donkeys, and quite a few Masai in and on the edge of the road made this a very interesting adventure. A caravan of ostrich even crossed right in front us.

I was amazed at how quickly the landscape and temperatures would change as we passed over and through mountain areas, plains, and rolling hills. Beautiful white flowers were in bloom despite the dryness. Daisies bloomed. If you could eat termites, you would never go hungry. Termite mounds were everywhere.

There is an amazing beauty to the landscape and some of the most beautiful birds. Frank and I enjoyed talking about everything.

We had no problems at the border crossing between Kenya and Tanzania. We saw Mt. Kiliminjaro in the distance, and Mt. Meru, her sister, loomed before us.

We arrived to the hustle and bustle of Arusha. Frank took me to a local African restaurant – the Florida Bar – where we enjoyed some great-tasting fish, beans, ugali, and a tomato-like sauce (I think it was tomato – my only question is what was the rock that was in it.)

We leave early tomorrow morning for the longest safari—12 to 13 hours from Arusha to Iringa. We leave at 5:30 a.m. This will be the longest day.

Masai huts can be seen in the distance along the drive.

Despite the dryness of the climate, flowers are in full bloom.


Monday, June 04, 2007

New Day, New Opportunities...Teleios Africa 2007

Day 10…Just Call Me Mr. Lonely

God knows what we need and makes provision for it before we can even think to ask.

Students at Happy Day Academy enjoy playtime.

Today was my first day without my Grace brothers. I had planned to sleep late, but the birds at the Kentmere helped me to meet the sunrise.

Today, I had the great joy of spending some real quality time with the children and staff at Mary Kabaru’s Happy Day Academy. The new facility is great—the children love it. Mary now has over 60 children enrolled. In fact, the parents of the five-year-olds want her to start a first-grade class. Please pray for Mary as she seeks the Lord’s direction in what to do. The children were happy and not bashful at all.

God never ceases to amaze me at how He works even in small things to reveal His power and care for us. Teleios partners had contributed funds designated for individual chalkboards. As we packed the containers in preparation for this trip, Bonnie and Meg made sure that there were enough to take to Mary and Happy Day Academy.

Just this morning, Mary’s teachers had asked her if she could please find some individual chalkboards for them to be able to use. When I arrived with the chalkboards, Mary could not believe it. Before she even said, God had already made possible the answer. Today has already been a great day.

Later in the day, Bernard and I went to downtown Nairobi to meet a local investment banker. Parking places in downtown Nairobi are none—none—none. We finally found one in a private lot after what seemed like an hour—I think that our parking fee was actually a contribution to the guards “salary” fund.

Frank Mwaisumbe met us in the evening at the Kentmere. We enjoyed a delicious, traditional Kikuyu meal prepared by the Kabaru family. I am full…can you say too many chapatis?

Thank you for your continued prayers as Frank and I travel on to Tanzania.

More than 60 children are now enrolled at Happy Day.

Keeping things straight and orderly is part of what is learned at the school.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sharing In The Blessings Of The Lord...Teleios/Grace Africa 2007

Day 9…Celebrating An Anniversary, New Friendships

Following the worship service, the Team shared an 'Anniversary Meal' with the Koinonia Fellowship.

Leaders within the Koinonia Fellowship cut the cake in celebration of the church's second anniversary.

On Sunday, Koinonia celebrated its second anniversary as a church. Singing, dancing, laughing, sharing, eating, hand-shaking, giving, and blessings were all evident throughout the worship service and the day. Matt shared the message, as Mitchell and Kevin brought greetings and testimony. Following the service, a meal of rice, cabbage with carrots, and beef stew was served. Chai was served after the meal.

One of the highlights of the day was a birthday cake that was cut by all the church leadership team. This was a great time of laughter and celebration. Floyd closed the worship with prayer. Brothers and sisters in Christ from other churches came to join the celebration.

Kevin and I were able to talk with a true businessman of courage. He is a CPA in Kenya. He was working for a company when they wanted him to “adjust” the books. He resigned and now is unemployed. Please pray for him as he seeks God’s leadership in his life. He is the guitarist for the praise and worship team. Pray as he considers starting his own accounting business that is based on integrity.

In the afternoon – very late in the afternoon – the team has learned that time estimates of travel, when worship services end and when meetings begin are not always accurate. For example, the 3 p.m. conclusion of the worship service and anniversary celebration was more like 4:30 p.m. No problem!

Mike’s observation was that Kenyans are never in a hurry except when they drive—then watch out!

One last trip to the Masai Market brought the Kenyan “safari” to a close. Wheeling and dealing was everywhere as all joined in the action. How many times can Bernard ask me, “Where is Kevin?” I hope to see Matt’s family eating corn. Mike got his goods early and just watched the action. Mitchell brought in a negotiator and got a great deal. God was good as Bernard was able to locate some great vendors for future teams that come. Back at the Kentmere, it was time to pack the final goods, change clothes and head for the airport. Everyone is ready to go home. Vehicles are loaded, and we’re off to the airport.

As Bernard and I watched the Grace Team go through passport control, Bernard says, “Oh, that was great bunch of guys, quality, quality. It is so evident that God was in this!”

I must say that it was sad watching my new friends leave. Bernard’s wife, Mary, invited me for a traditional Kikuyu meal so that I would not be lonely Sunday evening. It was great to sit around the table and revisit the week with laughter and affirmations of God at work. We serve a truly amazing God!

At midnight, the guys are on the plane heading for home and I am heading for the Kentmere. For the Grace Team, tomorrow brings Greenville, and I will visit Mary Kabaru’s Happy Day Academy – nursery and kindergarten – and have a meeting on economic empowerment.

I will keep you posted as Internet access is available. Thank you for sharing this “safari” with us, but most of all for your prayers.

There are no language barriers when you are brothers in Christ.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Conference End Marks A Beginning...Teleios/Grace Africa 2007

Day 8…Masai Market Experience Is Enlightening

Bernard Kabaru leads a prayer for Matt as the service begins.

The Team was truly blessed by the many new friendships established in the Koinonia Fellowship.

Our last day on the road, the conference ends, and our bags are full of tea. What a tremendous closing time as Matt wrapped the conference in great style. The team was presented gifts of local tea.

The emergence of long-lasting relationships was evident as we said good-bye to our brothers and sisters in Christ in Mukuria. God is good all the time. Our final meal together had meat. How many times can you answer the question: “What is this meat?” I told them it was beef.

On Saturday afternoon, courage and adventure were at a peak as we traveled into downtown Nairobi. Actually, it was mild compared to the weekdays. What difference does an extra million make when cars and people are every where?!

We traveled to the Masai Market in center of Nairobi for real shopping. Kevin was getting into it so much so that Matt gave him a new name—Simba. Mitchell must have played cards at one time—“You’ve got to know when to hold and when to fold them”— because we kept hearing “That’s my final offer or I’m going.” Mike worked a great deal on soapstone plates which I took advantage of. We had a great time. After our afternoon shopping spree, we arrived back at the Kentmere to a dinner of some of the most tender pepper steak that was cooked just right…this suffering in Kenya is about to get the best of us.

Today, the Grace Team was obviously looking forward to going home. Confessions of missing wives and children brought renewed desire for home…Only one more day until the “safari” to Greenville.

Team members enjoy engaging in conversation with their new brothers and sisters in Christ.


Friday, June 01, 2007

Teaching - Talking - Timing...Teleios/Grace Africa 2007

Day 7…God’s Timing Is Perfect

Dinner time proved to be a great opportunity for frank discussions and loud laughter.

Mike's topic of discussion on Friday led to a great deal of dialogue and many questions.

Mitchell shared some personal experiences that gave deep impact to his message on 'Crisis Ministry.'

Friday, the second day of teaching at Mukuria, was a cloudy, misty, and cold day—jackets required. Some of our team made the radical decision this morning to have no eggs or omelets after almost a week of them—Oops, some of the wives were not supposed to know that.

After our usual short 45-minute thrill ride to Mukuria, the conference began. Mike reviewed models of how churches are structured with strengths and weaknesses. Then, he moved into common threats to pastoral ministry. The pastors responded with a great deal of dialogue, as well as a great number of questions. We have discovered that one sentence can lead to a 20-minute discussion.

Tea breaks have become a great time of fellowship. The team agrees with Mitchell—“I’m beginning to enjoy Chai (tea, milk and sugar mix).” Matt is still convinced that he can win some Kenyans over to ice-cold tea. We have moved from gathering together ourselves to talking with our Kenyan brothers and sisters about many things. The Grace Team was fascinated with the “kitchen” skills of the cooks – using two pots to prepare tea at 10:30 a.m., lunch at 1 p.m., and tea at 4 p.m. How can they cook so much rice in those pots and not scorch it? How can the beans not stick to the pot? Is that cheese? (No, carrots). Oh, to have a bottle of hot sauce for the beans!

Mitchell taught on Crisis Ministry. His “brief teaching” was followed by many questions. Having Bernard with us is a great asset to the teaching. He understands us and the pastors, so he can translate not just words but ideas for the church leaders. Mitchell shared some great personal experiences that gave real impact to the teaching.

Floyd “preached” on the biblical basis of mission (or so the team says). He was able to overcome the misbehavior in the back of the room during his teaching to bring home the point.

We have really enjoyed our evening times of talking while we waited on dinner. These frank discussions of partnership and loud laughter have been a highlight of the trip. The openness and real friendship between the Team and Bernard is now very evident.

Mitchell has discovered that a Kenyan guitarist at the Blue Post Hotel Disco Night can play the same five chords over and over for hours…did I mention that the guitar was out of tune!

As a part of Disco Night, we witnessed a dance team dressed in leopard-like skins. And you’ll never believe who we heard singing at Disco Night - Hank Williams! That’s right, not Hank Jr., but the original Hank blessed our evening as we headed to bed.

At 5:30 a.m., the disco closed. Mitchell reconsidered his thoughts on the guitarist – “he’s the man” – as he played from about 7:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. when Hank was not singing.

The Team was fascinated with the cooking styles of the kitchen staff.

Over the week, 'Tea Time' evolved into a genuine opportunity to share.