Safe and Sound
Well, someone said travelling during COVID was going to be a challenge, and it was! Susan and I arrived at the airport early with passports, visas, negative COVID tests and almost 250 pounds of luggage. When we checked in at the boarding counter the ticket agent told us we had the wrong COVID test. I didn’t even know there was more than one kind of test!? After a couple of minutes of researching and checking with the supervisor, they determined we would be OK. Once we hit Atlanta we had about 4 hours to kill so we found something to eat and decided to get to the gate a little early. Good thing we did. Apparently we did NOT have the right test (we needed a PCR test, whatever that is), but if we hurried on over to Concourse E they could do the test there. Running through the airport is pretty cliché, so let’s just say we hurried back to the plane
train, found the room where they were conducting the test and had the pleasure of having cotton swabs stuck up our noses for the second day in a row… Such fun! We finally got on the plane to Paris and then because Delta and Air France’s computer systems weren’t talking to each other in Paris we were delayed leaving Paris for an hour. We Ianded in Nairobi late and discovered one of our bags decided to take a trip without us. By the time poor Baron picked us up and deposited us at the hotel it was about 1:30 AM. But we’re here and other than a little jet-lagged none too worse for wear.
On Thursday we met with a group of about 25 pastors and wives for a session in Baron’s back yard. Some of you may remember Richard and Hellen, Kennedy and Faustine, Harrison and Christine and Daniel and Beatrice. They were there along with some of their key people and some of Christiano’s ‘young lions’ from Kenyenya. I live for these reunions! Richard, Kennedy, Harrison and Daniel all came up together, their days as young men in Nairobi spent ‘going to them’. They conducted street meetings, went into the slums to spread the gospel, travelled, and worked all day and headed back to the apartment they all shared, fell exhausted into bed, got up the next day and did it all again. I have watched these men and their wives grow their ministries from these humble beginnings into strong churches with many other churches ‘planted’ from their roots. I always feel like I’m in the presence of greatness when I am with them. That God would allow me to be associated with giants like these is a gift and being in their presence today is such a blessing!
We spent the afternoon reflecting on the goodness of God. For the last 12 years Susan and I have been blessed to bring teams to Kenya. In that time God has allowed us to be part of Pastor’s conferences, marriage seminars, small business training, women’s conferences, leadership training and schoolteacher training. God has allowed our teams to come alongside these ministries in so many tangible ways and we just took some time during our meeting to celebrate. For those of you who have been with us on any of these trips, know that you are loved and remembered fondly! You have made a tremendous impact on these ministries and they are so thankful for you. For the rest of the session we talked about the future. We discussed the formation of The East Africa Project and talked about what kinds of projects and training would be most beneficial. I will use what we discussed today to shape the content and itinerary for future trips. I can’t wait to see how the next 12 years shape up!
Today (Friday) we are meeting again and will spend time talking about Mission and Vision strategy. These folks don’t get much chance to sit down and evaluate where they are or do any long range planning. The tools we have in the states just aren’t as readily accessible to the people here. So, I’ll use Bellevue’s Vision Frame as an example of our church’s strategy to “Love God, Love People, Share Jesus and Make Disciples”. Nobody at Bellevue would tell you we have all the answers, but this framework allows us to be intentional in everything we do and I’ll share it with the folks today. My prayer is that they will be able to use this to focus their ministries to become even more effective.
Susan was saying after our ‘fun’ travel experiences she was starting to question our sanity. After just a few hours with these people we remember just how much fun this really is. We may still have some airport sprints ahead, but when being with these folks is the finish line, we’ll just lace up the shoes a little tighter! Thanks for your prayers. Look for an update in a couple of days…