Ah, thank you Lord! Finally a day of celebrations rather than heartbreak! For the past 6 years Darrell & I have been supporters of the program at our church that commits to the welfare of children in Kenya who have lost their parents to AIDS. We are paired with one child for which $20 per month goes to their needs, particularly for schooling. They have appointed guardians that might be a grandparent or other family member or a volunteer from the Kenyan churches. Our girl's name is Linda Wangui and when we were first matched in sponsorship she was in 6th grade. When the church sends mission teams once or twice per year, we would exchange letters. In my letters to her, I would tell about our family, travels, church, activities. In her letters to me, she would mention school, her grandmother, trying to grow crops, blessings and thankfulness. When I was still teaching school, I shared her letters with my classes to help them increase in awareness of a different world. I thought I was aware of struggles in the world. After this week of immersion in African culture, I know my previous understanding of children in poverty was just a tiny drop when the reality is a churning ocean.
Children travelled in from villages near and far along with guardians and health/welfare workers in the program. We attended a "brief meeting" with church officials and program directors and could hear the attendees starting to sing as they filled in the outdoor seating area. We were ushered in to sit in a large gazebo type structure. All the various age groups performed songs and the health care workers pulled us in for more celebration dancing. During all the speeches, I was scanning the crowd, trying to recognize Linda from the previous photos we had received with her letters. When we were sent out to visit with people in the crowd, she found me! "Are you Susan, my sponsor?" We had hugs and tears and some catching up to do! She is now in form 3 of high school (junior year) and aspires to study Journalism in college. Taking me to meet her grandmother, I was so surprised to see who it was because I already knew Florence from the activities of this week! Florence is not her real grandmother (with whom she used to live) but Isaac 's wife who had hosted our group for dinner at their beautiful farm! Isaac later gave me a few details of problems that came up with life at her grandmother's house that caused he & Florence to take her in to live at their home. She had helped Florence prepare our dinner but had stayed in the back yard & back room so I had not seen her that night. I am so happy to know that she is living with such a wonderful family who will help keep her focused in the right direction and are providing such a safe, beautiful environment In which to live! She gave me a beaded Kenya bracelet and I brought her some small gifts in her letter. What a wonderful meeting, wonderful day!
Jenifer, the director of the programs for orphans & street children, called us all back to order and divided the hundreds of guests into smaller groups. Then she sent us all out to meet with a group. I volunteered for secondary so I could be with Linda again. Jennifer asked me to do my Bible school lesson with them, so I mentally modified the plan that I still had stuffed in my backpack ( that used to be pink) for the age group and time frame. I truly enjoyed teaching attentive, respectful, smiling, appreciative faces!
Then we presented each child with a gift bag, t shirt, letter from their sponsor and we took pictures of each one to bring home for their sponsors. After the traditional African meal of stew, bread and fruit, we said our goodbyes. I left Linda with confidence for her future, a good feeling!
Attending the Methodist men's fellowship was our next event of the day. They were having a day of recreational competitions among many churches in the area and we arrived in time to see the folk dance "off". Men were dressed in tribal costumes, sang & danced to their ancient songs but changed the words to make them fit the category of Christian lyrics. After that was tug of war, very entertaining! Some of the men sitting near me asked about mens recreational opportunities at our church, "Did they do similar dances and competitions?" I laughed and told them no events like theirs but they do have softball league teams and play in golf tournaments. Because of dinner plans at Bishop Catherine's house, our group left before all the final rounds had concluded. Since Bishop Catherine was the VIP, head honcho at this event, the crowds parted to let her through the vast mass of spectators and we followed as her honored guests. Darrell, it reminded me of following the bishop through the crowd at Freda's ordination into priesthood at that cathedral in Dallas.
Reflecting back over people and places in this day, it was all good!
Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.