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Archive for the ‘Birthday’ Category

My last few weeks in Africa are staring me in the face, and no matter where I turn, I cannot get away from that gaze. I am all too aware that every day that passes is forcing me closer to the airport in Nairobi, but thankfully, all that I can concentrate on is my big to-do list, that must be finished between now and August 11. Yes, I am leaving Kenya early–mainly due to family issues such as the upcoming double wedding of my brother and sister in Flagstaff in early September.

In the meantime, I am determined to enjoy every last minute here to the fullest!

Zochin School

Principal of Zochin school

A few weeks ago, EERC was visited by the entire staff of Zochin Primary School. The Principal of their school had visited us earlier and was so impressed with what he saw, that he wanted his entire staff to come and spend the day with us.

During the course of the day, the teachers decided that our two schools should partner together more and exchange ideas and encourage our students to get to know one another. We started a pen-pal program; and that very day the Zochin teachers carried back a stack of letters from our students to theirs.

I read through most of them and couldn’t help but laugh:

“Dear Titus,
My name is Brian and I am Standard 3 student at EERC. My school is very wonderful. I have many friends, but you are the best. When I heard your name, something in my blood told me that you are the best.
Our school has classes up to Standard 6. We have a climbing wall.
Sincerely, Brian”

Feris, Margaret and myself

Last Friday, lead teachers Feris and Margaret, along with myself and several of our Class 6 students, made a field trip to Zochin Primary. We were to meet their students and continue to get to know one another–and I was to lead a special Children’s Fellowship for them.

Zochin is a real country school, over an hour’s drive from Eldoret. I had never been in this particular area and I am always fascinated at the cultural changes that occur in such a short distance from Eldoret. The outskirts of Eldoret are filled with little tin-shack business: “Chicago Butchery,” “Cool Joint Pub,” “Gratitude Chemist,” “Ideal Shop,” “Anointed Cyber-Café,” “Anointed Agro-Vet and Animal Care,” “The Lord’s Car Wash,” “Faith is Victory Investments,” etc. Weaving our way slowly through streets filled with giant potholes, donkeys, pedestrians, roadside vendors roasting maize-on-the-cob, and crammed matatus with names like “Fashion Special” and “Baby Jesus,” we finally made it to the dirt road that led out to the little community where Zochin Primary was located.

Zochin School

I am pretty much always happy once the road (any road) turns to dirt, and travelling to Zochin was no exception. Knowing that I will be leaving soon, my eyes could not drink in enough of the scenery: sun-filled corn, wheat and millet fields nestled amongst the Acacia and Blue Gum trees with cactus and giant sisal plants growing around them…Red mud houses, both round and square, protected by rickety-looking stick fences. Mamas with babies tied on their backs, out hoeing in the fields. Grinning children waving as we drive by.

Shy Girl

The school itself was simple and beautiful, with cornfields on two sides and wheat fields on the other. Starting in Class 6, where some of our pen-pals met each other in person, we slowly went from class to class, greeting each of them. Most of these kids were fascinated to see a white person, although one child from Baby Class burst into tears and ran from the room. Imagine her terror when that strange-looking person showed up in the next classroom a moment later! She buried her screaming face in her teacher’s arms and wouldn’t dare to look at me. That’s just part of life in Africa. I discreetly left that classroom.

We had a fun fellowship time, with the EERC students helping me to lead worship and teach hand movements to the songs. We talked about how the God who has everything is searching for something…what is it? A heart that is fully His! (2 Chronicles 16:9). This is the heart that David had. I could see a group of kids from other schools gathering outside our window to listen in.

Zochin Students

After fellowship, we had lunch at the principal’s house. Standard “company” fare: a huge pile of rice, a tiny bit of stewed meat, chapattis, and a bit of fresh tomato, along with cups of hot (freshly boiled) organic milk. A special treat after the meal was a few slices of very sour oranges.

My Birthday

Cutting my cakes

I celebrated my birthday here at the school last week. Most Kenyans do not make a big deal about birthdays—in fact, many do not even know when they were born–so I wasn’t expecting much. I was just happy to be alive and happy to be in Kenya. I was totally surprised when after our children’s fellowship, two cakes were birthday cakes were presented to me. One of them (chocolate) was made by Diane as a surprise for me and the other came from a local bakery. Cakes are not nearly as sweet here as they are in the States. They are shared by being cut into bite-sized pieces. Everyone gets one bite, or two, if you are lucky or happen to be the birthday girl.

Joseph and Teacher Grace led in a wonderful prayer for me and all the kids joined in. They also sang to me:

Being prayed for by 170 kids

“How old are you now?
How old are you now?
Happy birthday, dear Mercy
How old are you now?”

Answer: Not telling!!!!!!!

I was also surprised in many other wonderful ways, including a surprise package from my church with about a pound of cards (I was card-bombed), and a birthday card from my grandpa that made it safely all the way from Seattle!

Song of Songs

I am closing my morning Bible Study with the teachers by focusing on the Song of Songs, which will be our emphasis until I leave. It feels like the culmination of everything we have studied thus far and everyone is really excited about it. None of them have ever heard any teaching whatsoever on this book and they are all very curious. It feels like an incredible honor to begin to delve into it and let the spirit of it transform our hearts and awaken us more fully to love. Please pray for us, that the Holy Spirit will take these un-translatable things of the Spirit and convey them in English…That He will transcend every natural boundary and make Himself so real to each one…And that we would find ourselves — our true identity — more fully, in the knowledge of Him.

Birthday prayer

I want to thank each of you that have been praying for me…for us. I have been so aware of a certain grace that has been over every opportunity that I have had to minister and in my relationship with the children–and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the help that you have sent in the Spirit. I have done and am doing things that I never quite knew for sure that I could do–but if there is one thing I have learned since being here, it is that His grace is sufficient.

Much love,
Mercy

A few more photos

EERC students: Brian, Darian and Daisy

Zochin students in classroom

Drawing water at Zochin well

Kids hanging on my right arm. Photo taken with left hand

Another Daisy. I gave her the flower.

Classroom doorway

Zochin students

School cook and kitchen

Sharing cake with my little friend Hilda

Smiling students on my birthday

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