In response to all the sweet expressions of concern we have received in the past week, we wanted to give you a bit more information on our Kenya trip. Gary McPhee, an EMI staff veteran of many years (and about 45 project trips) sent out a note to help, which we will summarize.
First, we would ask you to please join us in prayer for those affected by the recent violence. My heart breaks and the tears come when I think of students who were aiming to make a better life for themselves through education, now gone because of hatred. They may have been Kenya’s future leaders. Who has the country lost? Perhaps those who would have changed a nation from the inside out.
Second, while we still cannot give you a pin on a map to locate exactly where we will be in the country, we can tell you we will both be quite far away from the city of Garissa (location of the recent violence) and the Somalia border (where most security threats are centered). Jenni’s project trip is in a small town about 2 or 3 hours drive out of Nairobi. Kevin’s team will be headed even farther away — a solid 7 hours drive across the Rift Valley. At the close of our project work both teams will spend a night at a game park west of Nairobi, also pretty far away from any areas of concern. We may need to be more alert for baboons that want our breakfast or to take selfies with my camera than anything else.
We are aware of the alerts issued by the US State Department and we take them seriously, always monitoring their recommendations. However, EMI teams do not travel quite the same way as the typical tourist. For one, we are in a group, never alone and therefore much less of a target. We avoid traveling at night and are always transported either by our host ministry if they have the resources, or by a secure and reliable private company. We travel well below the radar and draw no unnecessary attention to ourselves. If you’ve been picturing us piled into a 60 year old bus, holding chickens and scraping along a mountainside, you can relax. That won’t happen (although it would make for a great blog post).
In light of all this, we are aware that we can still become victims of crime. Westerners stand out in Africa and can be targets, although most of the crime is more along the lines of theft or robbery. As Gary said in his note to us, “We do all that we can to act wisely, while at the same time living in a place of deeper faith and trust that God knows every one of our days before a single one of them came to be. One of our team devotion times will be from Psalm 139 – I’d encourage everyone to read that today and be reminded of the amazing God we serve.” Honestly, I (Jenni) am far more freaked out by the fact that there are a lot of mountain lions and rattlesnakes living near my own backyard.
So yes, we covet your prayers for the protection of both teams as we go forward, but mainly that all of us would move with a strong sense of peace in the knowledge that He who sends us goes with us as our shield, and that we would not let any spirit of fear creep in to hinder our ability to know God and make Him known. We cannot allow fear to alter our mission. If we do then the terrorists have already won.
And maybe pray that no baboons would steal our camera.
Kevin and Jenni
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.