Dr. Seuss said it well when he penned, “Oh the places you’ll go…you’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so…get on your way!” And get on our way, we did on October 15th! When I (Marlene), was a little girl, I would lay on the lawn at our house in Upstate New York and watch planes fly by, wondering in my little country bumpkin mind what that would be like! Well, let me just say, I wonder no more. We were on a total of 10 flights on this trip, some as long as 9 hours long and we counted 12 different beds we slept in. We went Lots of places, Dr. Seuss, and saw lots of mountains and plains and people galore. Journey with us as we share some of our adventures. (We promise not to make you go through airport security, eat airline food or get your temp checked to make sure you’re not sick with Ebola)! By the way, we were in East Africa, which is a very long way from where the outbreak is!
October 15th we left our home in Indiana and a total of 32 hours later, we landed in the home of Jon and Vera Steury in Nairobi, Kenya. We slept very well that night, then headed out to our medical work at Tenwek to spend several days. Driving across the beautiful Rift Valley, we began to have a glimpse into how amazing Kenya is.
Ned was able to share that evening to doctors and staff at Tenwek an encouraging message. Tenwek’s motto is “We treat, Jesus heals” and it is certainly lived out every day there. One of our highlights was being able to observe 3 of our missionary doc’s performing surgery. It took Ned back to his hospital days and me to working as an OR nurse in Chillicothe, Ohio. Ned also was able to spend some time with the chaplains and we were blessed to enjoy a tour of the nursing school with Barb Pinkley and meet and pray with the leadership team there. A full tour of the hospital, provided by the very knowledgeable Steve Manchester, gave us insight into the history of Tenwek as well as the exciting growth and changes happening every day there.
In the midst of all of that, we were able to share many meals and teatimes with several of our missionaries serving there, as well as a few others who aren’t with our mission but gave us opportunity to hear their hearts also. On one Sunday there, we were able to attend the African Gospel Church by Tenwek hospital and worship with many of our missionaries as well as our African brothers and sisters.
In Nakuru, we were privileged to spend an afternoon presenting a Renewal time with several of our Kenyan mission leaders (Kenyans who are now missionaries themselves). As I was writing this blog today, I received a Facebook message from the director’s wife, Josephine. She said, “Thank you so much Marlene for sharing your lives with us the time you were in Kenya. We were indeed renewed. I tried (to share it) recently with two of our missionaries and they were happy. They appreciated it so much and said they need more. One of them said "people have been always concern about what we do and not interested with our personal lives but this renewal made me think twice about my relationship with Christ”. I asked Josephine if I could share that and she responded, “Yes u can, I don’t mind you letting others know what God can do through people!” We are so grateful to be used to try to encourage these dedicated people serving in very challenging situations!
We weren’t all work and no play. We did have a down day where we were able to go on a safari in Nakuru! Wow, Lions and giraffes and Zebras and hippos and, well, you get the idea! What an amazing experience! And, no, we weren’t there to hunt! Just observers of some of God’s awesome creatures!
Our last day in Kenya, we attended church at RVA (Rift Valley Academy), a boarding school that many of our MK’s attend. What a joy to eat lunch with the MK’s there and share some treats with them from our Member Health Team.
Then, it was on to Uganda…are you tired yet? (Believe me when I say that jet leg and an 8 hour time difference can mess with one’s sleep patterns)! Once again, we were blessed to hang out with missionaries and their sweet children. We even got to watch some MK’s play soccer at their school, Heritage (Where Lisa Mayo is principal of the high school). We were just so impressed everywhere we went to see the varied ministries our missionaries are involved in. From Josh and Kelly Hallahan evangelizing and discipling students at Kampala University to Kenneth Hopson’s print shop where the first scripture for two tribes in Uganda was printed. We even got to pray with Pastor Kennedy, the National Pastor over the ministry at the University! And, those were only the ministries we were able to see…there are so many more.
Jump on the plane again, we’re changing continents this time, heading to Spain! Thankfully Nathan Vitatoe met us at the airport in Barcelona and helped us to navigate the train system as we traveled to their home. What a great time we had with this family hanging out with their adorable little girls, walking along the Mediterranean, walking to the local bakery and listening to Nathan and McKenzie’s hearts of their ministry to Muslims from Morocco. We finally arrived back home on Sunday November 9th, grateful to collapse into our own bed.
Two words would sum up our trip in my mind…blessed and impressed…we feel blessed to see our missionaries in the impressive work they are doing on the front lines. Yes, Dr. Seuss, we went to great places and saw many many great people there.