First two months in Kamakuywa, Kenya (Jan/Feb 2013)
After a week in Nairobi spent recovering from the flight and jet lag, beginning the work permit process (multiple trips to multiple government ministries and buildings), and gathering supplies for our years residence, we made the journey west to rural Kamukuywa. Here we were warmly welcomed by Justus and Annette Mabuka and over forty young people- the residents of Kimbilio. Justus repeated enthusiastically- “Welcome home, welcome home- this is your home!” Within 20 hours of arrival we were already teaching- beginning with the first of many Sunday morning exhortations. It is always good to be prepared here as CBM link brethren Allan Sutton and Trevor Hughes shared- getting 12 hours of notice is a luxury here. About a month later I discovered what they meant. After giving what I thought was the exhortation things didn’t progress to the memorials as usual; after the hymn, the presider instructed people to stand and take a 20 second stretch break and I soon realized that I was about to be called up to give the real exhortation! At this point I was thankful I had a number of notes to draw from while providing a continuation of the previous study.
On another recent occasion I had a couple of minutes warning that I was to lead a study at a get together to welcome a new baby belonging to a brother and sister of the ecclesia- thankfully God helped bring to mind some appropriate passages and lessons to share from them. It is important to always be ready!
Agape in Action High School Start Up
On the other hand, sometimes in Kenya you are expecting to jump right into things, but things happen more slowly. “Pole, pole” is the saying, which translates to “slowly, slowly”. We were told school was beginning on Monday (two days after our arrival). We thought that meant students were coming, but that was still a few days off. School meetings with teachers began however and preparations for the beginning of school were made. Over the next couple days, who would teach what and a master schedule or “timetable” came together. It seemed it wasn’t even decided yet when the students would be coming. Eventually, Wednesday was decided and it was a little surprising that less than forty students came when the day arrived. Apparently school slowly starts up in Kenya as parents scrape together school fees and bring their kids to register (Even public schools have fees at the secondary level.) So over the next few weeks the number of students gradually increased. About a month later, form 1 (9th grade) students arrived- they begin after results from their middle school exit examination are released.
So now numbers of students are about 200. The gradual arrival of students presents problems since the newly arriving students have missed important instruction from earlier lessons. But it did provide an opportunity to develop a closer connection with the Kimbilo kids who are so important to the culture and climate of the school. This school was built with them particularly in mind- a wonderful group of Christadelphian young people who come from such difficult backgrounds. Primarily they are orphans, but they have been blessed by the love of Brother Justus and Sister Annette and by the support of brethren from around the world.
School Opening Celebration, Agape in Action Team Visit
At the end of our third week we were blessed with the arrival of visitors from many parts of Kenya, as well as from Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. Representatives of CBM (Kenya), CBM (UK), and Agape in Action; believers from all over the country, community members and dignitaries came to show their support for the official opening ceremony of the school. About 500 people in all shared in celebrating the school’s opening and dedication. There was much happiness and joy as the large amounts of time, work and energy that had been invested by so many came to fruition. The dream that brother Justus and sister Annette have envisioned for many years has become a reality.
When the opening ceremony was completed, the visiting teams still had much work to do. Christina was able to join and assist Carmen and Heather as the team did medical checks and care for the children and the widows in Kamukuywa and other Western Kenya ecclesias. She also was able to help with the sponsorship photos that were needed for the Lela orphanage children and others. Brother Joe Davin and brother Rob Evans also found some time to help with some repairs and further outfitting our living quarters here. Most appreciated was their running the line and hooking up the gas for our electric/gas combo oven which didn’t work as an electric stove during the frequent power outages. The team also were able to do evening activities and devotions with the Kimbilio kids, microloan training and Sunday school classes.
One of the most exciting things about the Agape in Action High School is the fact that as a Christadelphian high school, much importance is placed on the on the word of God. It is the core of what we do here. Each morning begins with singing praise to God, a Bible reading and devotion, and a time of prayer.
Additionally, a class period is set aside each day to do Bible study.In these opening months Bryan has been leading classes each day with the form 3 (grade 11) students and sister Chris has been rotating with brother Vitalis doing the form 1 and 2 classes. In form 1 and 2 we have begun a walk through the Bible- building a solid base of Bible knowledge. In form 3 we are doing a more topical approach using the “Way of Life” curriculum.
It is such a blessing to have the opportunity to study the Bible with these students each day, to be able to help them come to know and appreciate the blessed hope of the gospel as it has been revealed to us in His Word- both to kids who come from Christadelphian Sunday schools and homes and many who don’t. Initially most of the students did not have their own Bible. There was so much joy when we shared that a number of believers in the US and Canada had contributed to supply the funds to buy each of them a Bible- they broke out into spontaneous applause! They were so appreciative when they received their copy!
Hearing the gospel has also led to a number of students being drawn to it. Five students requested prebaptism classes! When students returned from their “half-term” break (because of the elections), Bryan began leading these classes with the interested students – whose numbers tripled in size after a week. We pray this is just the beginning of an abundant harvest that God can bring about through His work in this school.
Concerning these elections, thanks to those who prayed for the people of Kenya, the brethren and our family during the election and post election time. Five years ago in the violence after the last elections a thousand people were killed and three hundred thousand were displaced from their homes (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21581018)
We pray that the calm we’ve had since this election will continue, that election related violence won’t happen when the election related court cases conclude, and most importantly, that our Lord will come soon so that all the nations will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks- and that peace and justice will fill the world along with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.
During the time of violence after the last elections, the village of Kamukuywa was a peaceful safe haven- so my prayer before coming was that if it would be an unwise thing to bring my family here this year, that God would put roadblocks in the way. Step by step in our preparations we saw so many things that seemed to be God’s hand directing us to go. But we still recognize our need for God’s angels protecting us here- please pray they will continue to do so.
Please pray that our continued work in the coming year will have God’s blessings as well and that the work will continue to bear fruit- both in the lives of the Africans we are blessed to work with and in our lives as well.
Your brother and sister by God’s grace,
Bryan and Christina Lloyd