Sunday, May 24, 2009

First Day in Nairobi

May 24, 2009

After nearly 30 hours of traveling, the team arrived at the Methodist Guest House in Nairobi at 10pm Saturday night.

Pastor Karen:

Today we worshiped at the Kawangware Methodist Church. The church meets in a large room, having given over most of its property to support a school to serve the children of this extremely poor community. The music was already playing when we arrived shortly before the start of worship and we were immediately offered seats in the front. Looking around, however, we noticed we were about the only ones in church! Within 10 minutes, however, the place was packed. Under the direction of a song leader who was part choir director and part aerobics instructor, the choir and band had everyone on their feet singing, dancing, waving, and high fiving one another. It was a very spirited experience!

After worship, we were invited into one of the classrooms for tea. Well, tea in Kenya is a bit more substantial than we are used to. We, along with two others who were visiting the church that day, sat down and immediately a woman came to each one of us with a pitcher of water and a basin so that we could wash our hands. It was powerful to see this woman move from person to person, pouring water on hands over a basin. Then, two other women served us a full meal of rice, stew, and a bean and vegetable dish. Tea was offered at the conclusion of the meal, and is made with warm milk instead of warm water.

It was a very powerful experience: we have come to serve in Kenya, and the very first experience we have is of people providing us with tremendous hospitality, serving us with generous hearts and hands. We have been blessed today!


We arrived in Nairobi on Saturday evening, a bit tired but all very intact, after 27 hours of travel. I have many feelings, most of hope and opportunity. This morning we took the bumpy bus into Kawangware, the slum where we will work for the next week, and walked through the dirt streets to a thriving Methodist church. Along the way we saw children and their parents all finely dressed, on their way to church. Once in the sanctuary, we were warmly welcomed, and quickly surrounded by wonderful music voices and dance- the congregation is alive and bursting at the seams. It reminded us a lot of Glide!


The journey from San Francisco to Nairobi was long, but was relatively pleasant. We are staying at the Methodist Guest House which is the perfect setting for our group, and our purpose. Our first full day in Nairobi was a day that let me see the face of God in the people that live in the slums. It amazes me that a human can live in the conditions they live, and still smile as visitors to their community. The church we went to for services was almost like Glide, except they don’t sit on the window sills.


The flight was relaxing and comfortable. I enjoyed reading, talking and eating. I loved British Airways-good food, great service and wonderful accents. They had cute 3 oz. Diet Coke cans and the Chutney and cheese Sandwich, to die for. Who would think that airline food would be so delightful? Well it was. While landing in Nairobi I was overwhelmed with emotion that this was real: we were here. We were greeted and escorted to The Methodist Guest House. God is so present here. I took a shower and fell right to sleep. I awakened to the sounds of birds singing. We ate breakfast and off to The Methodist Church in Kenya. While riding the public bus to the church the feeling of experiencing Africa was quite joyous: the hustle and bustle of the busy streets with market vendors complete with well dressed Kenyans. Wow, they sure know how to put together an outfit. We were greeted and welcomed as part of the family. The service was full of life. Singing in Swahili, dancing and praising God on our feet. The smiles and innocent hand waves of the children made my heart fill with joy. Following the service we were escorted directly outside to receive handshakes and blessings from all 200 members of the congregation. What an amazing gift! My soul and spirit was filled with the love of God. The church members fed us a delicious Kenyan meal. The angels of the church went around and washed each of our hands with a bowel of water. I can tell you God is taking care of us. This experience has been something I never imagined. We rode the Matatu to the market and I felt like I was on a roller coaster. Well, I could go on and on and on but I must stop for now. God is good! So Good!


As we rode the bus to Kawangware, we passed beautiful homes, lush gardens then abruptly Kawangware started. Homes of corrugated tin, dirt streets with a large sewer gutter running adjacent. Masses of people walking every direction. We were told there are over 1 million people in Kawangware and the vastness of poverty was overwhelming.

I felt the hope and joy during church as I felt the music, participated in dancing and was embraced by the congregation. It was so much like Glide and the joy I feel every Sunday.


God is good all the time.
All the time God is good.

After boarding a local bus, we walked down a dusty road with goats, dogs, cats, and people dressed to the nines headed to serve God.

We entered M.C.K. Kawangware where “everybody is somebody.” We are energized with song, dance, scripture and prayer. The theme of today’s service was the commissioning of the disciples through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Pastor John told us of $5000 donated for a new building. It rushed fond memories of my parents mortgaging their home to make possible the building and growth of Paradise Baptist Church in Oakland.

Toda was a day of learning and exploring Nairobi. Tomorrow is our first day of service at Ray of Hope.


After 25 hours of travel and a night spent battling the slumbering sounds of my fellow traveler and roommate, my first full day in Kenya ended with a sense of purpose that I did not have when I began: one, in fact, that I hardly had by the time we ate dinner. Although our day was a sensual treat filled with new sights and sounds and laughter and worship, marked by one remarkably hospitable encounter after another, for much of it i was still trying to figure out what exactly it was we were doing here in the first place. I didn't want our trip to be just a seven day stay where we bring some supplies, do what we can, and then leave just as we begin to get comfortable.

After our meeting with Barasa, Rosemary, Florence, and Marselee (RoH staff members), I know that will not be the case.

Today was more than the first day of our short trip. It was the first day of a new relationship between glide and the ROH: one that is just beginning, but one that has a bright and long lasting future. The love, compassion, insight, and sharing that took place during the meeting before dinner convinced me that we, both sides, have the commitment, enthusiasm and leadership to make this a fruitful relationship for all. It did, however, take a hearty meal of roasted potatoes, braised beef, and a delightful cream of tomato soup before it all sunk in. I am excited to see what the rest of the week brings.


  1. I'm so grateful I can read this blog and keep up with my beloved Mark. WOW - what a trip you're havinng...Its hard not to be envious but I am so incredibly grateful that you get to have this experience. You so deserve it. thanks for sharing some of your experience so far. I love you Mark.

    miss you like the dickens...xoxo - write more soon! Joel

  2. PS - love the pic of you with the children showing them your camera. I bet they tripped out huh? You were made for this...

  3. Thanks for visiting our church hope it was a nice experience come back once more.......