The following is an update from short-term missionary Stephanie, whose is currently in Eburru on behalf of David’s Hope:
Jambo! My name is Stephanie, and I’ve been over here in Eburru, Kenya now for about three and a half weeks. I’ll be staying until the middle of March and look forward to posting a bit more on this site now that I’ve really settled in.
Everything here in Eburru has been great so far! I came here with an open mind and an open heart and very few expectations because I really wanted to see how the Lord would work in my life. I didn’t want to cloud my mind with how I thought things would be – I really just wanted to keep my eyes and ears open to soak up every moment and experience.
I can say whole-heartedly that the Lord is working in amazing ways here in Eburru. I spend a lot of time at the Camp Brethren Christian School working with the kids during PE time. Already we’ve learned several playground games (i.e., steal the bacon, relay races) as well as kickball. Some of them remember playing kickball with past groups that have come, so it was helpful for those kids to be able to explain the game to the others especially because a lot of the younger kids speak very little English. Some of the rules get lost on the kids and they don’t always understand where they’re supposed to be throwing the ball or running, but they love playing! They laugh and smile and cheer each other on, and that’s really what it’s all about.
I have been working with the older kids (in classes 4 – 8) during Chapel Hour. What’s amazing is that the first part of Chapel Hour is student-led, and they sing songs and genuinely worship the Lord. I normally give a 10-15 minute message after they’re through with their worship, and then we conclude in prayer. Right now we’re going through the Fruit of the Spirit, and the kids really seem interested and engaged. I’ve also taught them a second verse of ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ Chapel Hour really is a special time for the kids to all come together and hear the Word, and I’m so impressed by their initiative and enthusiasm during this time! On Thursdays we have Christian Union, which is basically a mini-church service where all of the kids at the school gather in the dining hall and worship together with musical accompaniment. Following the worship time a teacher delivers a 10-15 minute message. Last week I spoke further about incorporating the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives (as children) and how important it is not to forget how special children were to Jesus. I told the story of Jesus telling Timothy that even though he was a young pastor people would listen to him if he spoke with conviction and an evident love of the Lord. I encouraged the kids not to be afraid to live out loud and to sing and worship the Lord in all situations, whether people are watching or not.
One of my favorite parts of being here so far has been the Women’s Fellowship that we’ve gotten off the ground at Jerusalem Church. The first week I was here was the second time the women had met for fellowship, and we had a great time. The women were so welcoming and really made me feel like what I had to say was a true blessing in their lives. We’ve met three times now, and I get very excited on Wednesdays knowing I get to go to church and spend a few hours with them. I speak for about an hour with a translator by my side. We’re currently talking about how to be women after God’s heart and have talked about what it means to be vessels for God, to live in the Spirit, and to live in the Word. I know a lot of these women sacrifice greatly to join the fellowship on Wednesday mornings, and that’s a true blessing to me. Many walk very long distances to attend, but the power of having such strong women together discussing the Bible is tremendous. What’s been most surprising to me is how these women can pray! We stand in a circle at the end and hold hands and they pray – and they pray very fervently! I don’t understand what they say, but I know one thing – these women sure know the Lord and are thankful for what they’ve been given.
On Wednesday mornings before I head to church I join the Teachers’ Fellowship. They gather for about 45 minutes and worship together before having someone deliver a message. Last week I spoke about how important it is to follow God’s calling and to follow Him wherever He leads us when He puts it in our heart. I told them my story from the past few years and ultimately how all of the events in my life recently led me here. We talked about being faithful servants and how the Lord has everything in control – He’s already orchestrated every detail of our lives, and we really just have to trust Him. Sharing my story with them was amazing, and I had the opportunity to talk with a few of them in the next few days about their stories as well. Getting to know the teachers has been wonderful. They are such strong women and men of Christ, and I truly think they are great role models for these impressionable kids. We break for tea twice a day at school, so I get to spend a lot of time with them talking and learning about their lives and what led them here. They’ve invited me into their homes and introduced me to their spouses/children, and I’m very grateful for the relationships I’m developing.
Sundays are probably my favorite day of the week. We usually head over to church around 10:30 or so and don’t leave until at least 1:30. The services are long, but they’re so amazing to be a part of. There’s lots of dancing and singing and powerful preaching. It always amazes me how well behaved the kids are during this time. All of the boarders from school sit together in one section and really get into the singing and praying. Everyone at the church is so friendly and has been so gracious in welcoming me. This past Sunday they held an auction after church to benefit the youth program. Some of the teachers chipped in and bought me a bunch of sugarcane. Since the auction was being run in Kikuyu I wasn’t quite sure what was going on until one of the teachers leaned over and told me that I was now the proud owner of all the sugarcane. Imagine my surprise! We brought it all back to the school and shared with the kids!
Living here in Eburru has been nothing short of amazing so far. While little things are very different than being at home, I’ve really started to appreciate the beauty in them. We haven’t had running water except for the first few days I was here, so I’ve gotten pretty good at bucket showers. The food has been an adjustment as well, but it’s prepared lovingly and generously, and I’m appreciative of the experience to eat as the Kenyans do. I’ve really become a fan of chai and chapati! The time I’ve gotten to spend in Eburru center has been eye-opening in some ways but so natural in others. The people who live in center don’t have many worldly possessions, but they’re content and genuinely happy to greet me when I come to visit. They share what they have and have no hesitations about doing so. What a true testament to how the Lord has blessed this place! The children follow me around and fight to hold my hands. Many of them don’t have parents who have a lot of time to spend with them, so I’m thankful I have a short time here to fill that void in their lives. They are so sweet and so joyous that it really makes my heart melt to see them and play with them!
I’m grateful that the Lord gave me this opportunity, and I look forward to what the next few weeks have in store for me. David’s Hope and Camp Brethren Ministries are truly making a difference in the lives of a lot of people here in Eburru! I’ll keep you posted on a more regular basis now that I’m settled and really starting to feel like a part of the community.
Bwana asifiwe (Praise the Lord!)