Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Day 5, Teaching Bible school

Invited to stop by & visit at the Methodist Retreat Center, we sat in on a session of the first regional pastors' conference which had been funded in part by our church. The man speaking at the time was particularly proud to be the second oldest, most experienced pastor in the region at 81 years old. He said that he and #1 joked about who was going to make it to heaven first. His topic was about learning from each other, especially from our elders, (a concept almost lost in American culture). Throughout my life in the work world, it was always helpful to have a mentor in my place of employment to listen, question, advise, introduce, suggest and support. In our spiritual journeys, I believe God provides us with guides along the way to help us grow in faith. I think he calls on all of us to also be a guide, what some church people might call being a witness or being a disciple.

After a short visit with this group of men and women, we went outside to admire the beautiful grounds that included papaya trees, brilliant flowers and an eye-catching cactus type tree called candelabra euphobia. Vans were then loaded and our trusty drivers, Sammy & Nicholas took us to the school at Kanondone. This location receives sponsorship from a church in Temple Tx called Foundation Methodist Church of which their pastor Ryan and 2 of their members, Matt and Kay Lenn, are along with us on this trip. Upon arrival we were greeted by the principal, Florence, who led us to a classroom that they had cleared and set up to serve us tea ( Kenyan people are very hospitable!) and work out the schedule for the day that included us teaching Bible School with some of the students. This was the schedule: whole school assembly (over 300 students PreK-8), students return to class for lessons while she gives us a tour of dormitories and classrooms, lunch/recess, younger ones return to class while we do Bible school with classes 7-8, then all students reassemble for final greetings/blessings. The oldest students were chosen to participate with us because they were better able to communicate in English.







My favorite African school assemblies are the ones where the children sing, and so far that includes all that I have attended! "World Music" live, their voices unify & blend, solo & chorus, rhythms from clapping & tapping. After the singing, a long time was taken with introductions and words from various church officials so, like in America, the children began murmuring and fidgeting. They were all crowded into the church with some standing. Like in America, the principal dispatched the teachers to sit & stand among the students to quiet their restlessness - it worked!

Walking the campus grounds, we visited first the new dormitory that funds from the Foundation church had built. Compared to all others I had seen, this one was beautiful! Bright colors, glass windows, good lighting, new blankets and mosquito nets, indoor bathrooms - next door, in contrast was the old dorm which was now all used for boys, dark & drafty, broken window panes, uneven floors, outdoor bathrooms. The new girls dorm was already filled over capacity with more than one child sleeping on a single sized bunk.

The classrooms were typical bleak African style, but this school had managed to still educate to a high standard. They had won awards for having top scores in the region in the 7/8 exit exams and a good number of their students had been accepted to a national high school. The younger age students that I sat with read to me very well in English!

Our "tea" room became now our lunchroom where we were treated to a delicious meal of rice, potatoes , bread, stew, salad and fruit. The students eat outside sitting on the ground and their tin bowls were filled with rice and beans. This school wants a new dormitory for the boys and a dining hall. God, please help here?

Joining the students outside for recess, they were playing rag ball games, jump rope & tag but the little ones just wanted to hold hands (like 20 all at once) and pat my hair. They asked why they had black hair and I had white hair? Well, I didn't want to admit old age so I just said that's the way God made us, alike but different.

Bible school began with songs and then we split 7 & 8 for rotating activities. Scarlett ( a lady from Houston associated with the Salado church) and I became spur of the moment co teachers for the Bible lesson. We had copies of a basic outline to follow using different colors to represent topics, gold was heaven, black was sin, red was the blood of Jesus, white was forgiveness & a clean heart, green was growth. This curriculum was brought by the Foundation church & I read the plan on the way this morning in the van. The colors used are also colors in the Kenyan flag. The lesson & prayers were followed by a craft where they made bead bracelets with those colors. I personally was not comfortable using black for "bad" and white for "good" so I let Scarlett talk on those points while I presented heaven, Jesus & growth. There wasn't enough time to discuss the curriculum before presenting and to change the flip books of color that they had prepared as visual models so I had to let that one go. I think we could do something to modify this lesson to make it more appropriate for our audience, actually for any audience. I did notice some of the 8th grade boys giving each other "the look" when she said black represented sin. One of the boys said black represented Africa. But overall, the lesson went well with plenty of student participation. When I talked with Scarlett about this afterword she agreed that the racial connotations didn't seem right and was receptive to changing. In a conversation with young Pastor Ryan he assured me that Kenyans were not super sensitive to race like in America and suggested if we wanted to change use words and scriptures about light and darkness. Jesus is the light of the world (white) and sin puts us in darkness (black). That worked just fine in the next lessons; Scarlett and I felt better about using the right words.

One more assembly was gathered for gift presentations & blessings and our vans left through a crowd waving goodbye. Just enough time at the hotel to brush off the dust & we were off to the home of Isaac & Florence for dinner. He is a lay leader in the local church and has travelled to visit in Grapevine. Lush living! Their home is on a small farm a short distance in the Meru countryside. He guided us through his barns of cattle, goats, rabbits, a compost system to enrich the soil and his terraced gardens stretching down a steep hillside growing onions, potatoes, bananas, tomatoes, cabbage, coffee and tea. Wow, what beauty, efficiency and productivity! Florence had prepared a huge feast to serve a large crowd and they arranged their living room to accommodate everyone perfectly, again overflowing Kenyan hospitality! Isaac even wanted us to all leave the hotel and come stay at their house.

Returning to home base, we spent time packing items for our visits tomorrow & then went our separate ways. Tired, but happy, ready for sleep, and then a new day.

Galatians 5:13 By love serve one another.

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