It is Sunday afternoon and I'm two days returned from my first project trip as an eMi Project Leader. The past two weeks was a whirlwind as we travelled to Kenya, met the full compliment of our team in the London-Heathrow airport, and spent a week working closely with our new friends and ministry partners to develop the design of the new orphanage for Christ Community Church and Touched By Love Ministries.
Our project site is a one acre plot of land in the small village of Kabondo, in the western region of Kenya. Though the kids have come to the care of the church for a variety of reasons, they have at least one thing in common - they are beautiful children of our deeply-loving God. Some of them were orphaned in the political unrest in 2007. More have come as a result of AIDS, malaria and other diseases. About 50 children are currently being cared for by village church families in Kabondo. Their caretakers are often widows or single moms, most of whom are poor and some are themselves infected with HIV.
Families rent land for farming. The existing school building, a 12’x13’ mud hut, is on land donated by an elderly widow in the village. The plan to sustain the orphan project is through agricultural and microbusiness development, and vocational training to include a chicken project (currently underway) and a revolving development project to produce food, income, and increase the flock to donate to other families.
Christ Community Church has a seemingly unlikely partner in the Stockett family from Vermont but that is how God does things, isn't it? Two years ago, the Stocketts met Pastor Julius Nyambuoro from CCC and learned about the great needs of these children in their community. They established Touched by Love to partner with the local church in Kenya to care for these kids. Through the work of eMi's volunteers, they will soon be able to show prospective partners plans for the six orphan homes, a shared dining facility, and infirmary that will be progressively built over the next five to ten years.
Our team for this project included architects from Hawaii and California, engineers from Illinois, Michigan and Texas, as well as two eMi interns from Illinois and Georgia who have already been a great blessing and help to our team. I had the pleasure of co-leading this project under Gary MacPhee. Gary is the first person I met at eMi and has been on staff for 18 years, filling a number of leadership positions. He is a licensed architect and a pastor and his joy and gifting in both areas is immediately apparent when you are with him. I learned so much from Gary on this trip and can only hope to lead future teams as well as he does.
As of last Monday I entered the multitasking effort of an eMi project leader and began to work with our interns and team to finish the design of this orphanage. We aim to have the plans completed by early August when I will begin to prepare for my next project trip - a site assessment for African Bible University (ABU) in Kampala, Uganda in September.
As we have spent the past week recovering from jet lag and enjoying the remaining time we had with Jenni's parents in town, we found our heads swirling in an attempt to process all we saw and experienced. It can be mighty difficult to sum it up in a well-worded blog post or newsletter. We saw and felt God everywhere, and you cannot always share that in words or put it in a box. We pray that God will keep these memories fresh in our minds, even as we gather new ones through our future projects.
P.S. Many of you may be wondering what the day-to-day experience of an eMi project trip is like. In the next two posts I will try to give you that picture.
From the Keiters:
Here is where we share our daily experiences of how God is using our life in the US and abroad with EMI to draw us closer and to make Himself known.