On January 18, 2010 a Volunteers in Mission (VIM) mission team left Kentucky for Kenya, Africa and returned on February 4, 2010. The team consisted of team leader John Denham, Fran Denham, and Rev. Eric Patterson from Maysville Trinity United Methodist Church; Kirby Bennett from Maysville Scott UMC; and Rev. Ron Gaddie from Louisville Highland UMC. This was the first trip to Kenya for Eric and Kirby, and as they said, “It was a lifelong dream.” As with all VIM trips, we came home feeling as though we had received much more than we gave. The people of Kenya are so gracious and hospitable, and they wanted us to greet the Kentucky Annual Conference and send their love and prayers.
With the purpose of pastor training and water purification, the team visited five of the six United Methodist districts in Kenya, traveling approximately 1200 miles. The districts we visited were Nairobi, Nakuru, Central Nyanza, Busia, and Naivasha. Pastor training topics were Mark: Taking the Gospel H.O.M.E., John Wesley and the Quadrilateral, and Lectionary: Church Year & Special Events. The total trained, both pastors and laity, was 177.
We also demonstrated PUR, a product used to purify 2.64 gallons or 10 liters of water, talking about the benefits of drinking clean water. Each person attending the training sessions took home PUR product. We also were able to visit a Safe House for abused children, where we had a water purification unit installed.
While in each district, we visited many projects: school construction, church construction, health clinics, fishing, sewing, farming. In Nairobi District, we visited Highrise UMC with a sewing/hair salon project in Kibera Slum. This is the second largest slum in the world, with 800,000 people. In Nakuru District, there is a UM Mission School with 420 students and growing and Sobea UMC with 80 members, plus children, busting at the seams working to finish new church construction. While in Central Nyanza District, we saw a UM health clinic at Kopanga-Giribe, providing health care in a rural area, malaria nets, and support group meetings for HIV/AIDS patients. The Busia District is on the Kenya/Uganda border. There the UM Men have a fishing/water transportation project at the Sio Port UMC, while the women make baskets to sell. They are working and praying for funds to have a permanent church site.
Our trip ended in Naivasha District, an area greatly affected by the post-election violence in 2008. Many displaced persons moved to the area for safety. Since then the camp was moved outside the city, with the government giving them funds to purchase a small plot of land. Now the goal is to move out of the tents (which they have lived in for two years now) to a permanent home, made of sticks and mud. We were told about one particular girl we saw coming home on her bicycle. With having to be uprooted from her home several years ago and now living in a tent, without electricity or running water, she was able to score very high on her high school entrance exams. This is remarkable considering the hardships she is enduring. The United Methodist Church has a new church start in the community, Kikopey UMC. We called the area a IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp; however, they are not displaced now—they are home.
We want to thank the Kentucky Annual Conference and the Conference Mission Team for their support of this trip and past trips, providing for pastor training and water purification, and for the many prayers offered on our behalf.
Bwana Asifiwe, Praise the Lord! Amen.
Rev. Eric Patterson, Maysville Trinity UMC, visits the UM Mission School of Nakuru, Kenya.
Women's Sewing Ministry in Kibera Slum, Nairobi, Kenya
Rev. Ron Gaddie, Louisville Highland UMC, doing pastor training at Central Nyanza District