There was a place for all of us to sleep in the three bedrooms of Mike’s house. The rooms are not big – just big enough for a full-size bed, and an extra four feet between the bed and the wall for the occupant’s belongings – but they were adequate for our purposes. We enjoyed some chapati for breakfast along with coffee and tea, and then waited for the arrival of Mary to take us to the church. The service was scheduled to start at 10:00am and we left Mike’s at around 9:30. We was only about a 10 minute drive to the church from his house, but it was off the highway and up a pretty treacherous road. It was so bad that we had to get out and walk so that Charles could get the van up the hill.
Charles sticks his head out of the van we have been using for the last four days. It has been a trooper!
When we arrived, I was struck by the changes! When I was last here, less than 10 months ago, there was nothing here but rocks, and some vegetation on rolling hills. But now they have several buildings constructed. They have built a mud walled church – complete with a narthex at the entry of the church, a sacristy off to the side so the pastor can enter the church at the front of the church, and a rounded altar area, with a raised dirt platform to separate it from the rest of the sanctuary. In all my time in East Africa, I’ve never seen a church as much like ours back home as this one! In addition, they have built a separate mud building for housing the guard who stays on site to watch over the building and its contents, so they can leave things in the church during the week. They are also in the process of constructing a latrine for men and women at the corner of the property.
The Emmaus Milimani church with the school children out to meet us as we arrived.
In addition to the church they are also operating a school. Currently they have 110 students registered for the coming school year from Nursery (age 3) up to standard 1 (1st grade). They are currently using the church for the school classes, but its size is not adequate for the three levels they are currently teaching. They hope to build another building for additional school space, and then construct a separate, more permanent church building. When that is completed they will be able to use the existing church buildings for classroom space. It is exciting to see the number of children who are being brought to the feet of the Savior through the instruction in this school! We met many of the students who were gathering for their first day of school. While we waited for the service to begin, Russ gathered the kids and used the children to act out the account of "Daniel and the Lion’s Den." He used the story to show and teach about God’s love and protection in our lives.
We gather for the laying on of hands for Pastor Gurath's installation prayer.
After making the rounds of the "campus" we gathered for the service. The church was filled, the narthex was filled and more gathered outside the church with the school children. Todd began the service, I preached and then Todd conducted the installation of Pastor Gurath at Moi’s Bridge. The congregation sang "What a Friend we have in Jesus" – one of the most beautiful renditions I have ever heard – then Pastor Gurath concluded the service by installing leaders and teachers of the church and concluding with the Benediction. The children closed the service with a song that they had prepared, and then the congregation met outside for a meal of kale and beans prepared by the Sagala family.
Children enjoy the beans and kale for lunch after the service.
We wrapped things up at church at around 1:00pm and made the 45 minute trip to Anna’s home, where we toured her beautiful property. She has a huge "plantation" where she grows corn, kale, tomatoes, bananas, oranges, sugarcane, cabbage, and much more, and also raises chickens. It was very impressive! She and Mary also treated us to Tilapia and Ugali for an early supper. Todd, Russ and I passed on the fish, but Stephen and Mike said that is was good! We had a good visit with the family and then returned to Mike’s house at about 5:00pm.
Mike stands beside the pulpit on the alter in his new church.
Tonight was our last night together, so we relished the time. Tomorrow Todd leaves for Nairobi to catch his 11:00pm flight home; Russ and Stephen head back to Kisii to spend some time with the school children and to visit other congregations; and Mike and I head to Uganda to meet with some contacts I have been corresponding with over the past year. Mike and I will meet back up with Russ and Stephen in Kisii on Friday.
It has been another whirlwind trip. Since I left Atlanta just over four weeks ago I have spent over 150 hours traveling by plane, car or bus! That shows how much ground we are covering here in East Africa. It is tiring, but it is also necessary. We continue to ask for your prayers for safe travels as Todd returns home, and as we finish our last week of work here in East Africa. Thank you and may the Lord be with you all!
In His service,
"And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. " – 1 Thessalonians 2:13