Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 30

Pastor Karen:

Today was our last day at Ray of Hope. While most of the team went with the children to a museum and park, Craig and I stayed behind to meet with the senior team at Ray of Hope. Craig led a great in service on finance and budget management, and together we discussed the systems RoH needs to put in place so it can position itself to receive grants and continue to grow its donor base.

The children returned and we all had a final meal together, and then it was time to say good-bye. It is amazing how deep bonds can be formed in a week’s time when people share a common mission and vision. Tears flowed freely from Glide team members and RoH staff, as we realized our time together had come to an end. We had learned much from one another, and all our lives had been touched in significant ways.

The children gave each of us a gift before they departed for home, and then the RoH staff and the Glide team debriefed the experience: how did the week go? What did we accomplish? What lessons did we learn about working together? Did we meet the goals RoH set for us? What could we have done differently?

Oh, the gift I received? I am returning with a gift from Ray of Hope for Glide: a clock with praying hands on it, that says: “The family that prays together stays together.” Their last request: that every Sunday, we at Glide look at that clock and remember to pray for them for one minute.


Let me start with my ride back to the Guest House from the Ray of Hope this evening…….while it appeared I walked alone in the slum to the Congo bus stop, I really had the President of the United States as my body guard…..nobody bothers a white man walking in the slums wearing a t-shirt with his picture on it…..instead they offer “YES HE CAN” to me in greeting…..what hope this man has brought to the United States and to the poorest people of Kenya……but get this, I jump into the first Matatu I find at the Congo bus stop, and a video (“Jalo In The House) is playing on the small TV at the front of the van…’s an Obama video….I tap my fingers, when I hear someone behind me say the President’s name….I turn and show my t-shirt to the entire van, only to have them begin to chant “YES WE CAN” over and over (I could not hear the video anymore……but I saw the flag of the United States being treated with respect instead of being burnt)…….the ride ended to fast….as I exited the van, I yelled YES WE DID!!!…..and got one last cheer as the Matatu drove off…….I realized how proud I am to be an American!

Moments before this ride was my goodbyes to the children and staff of Ray of Hope, and you guessed it, the emotions were running pretty high…..while I love everyone at the Ray of Hope, I really connected with Peninah (she is my new close friend) and Hendrica (also known as “Super Angel”)…….we could hardly let go of each other as we embraced, kissed, and cried. I know I will be connecting with both of them soon!

But let’s face it… was about the children, and for me the two little boys who are HIV+ (again, they don’t know they are positive, so I won’t say their names in this blog)……today I was able to spend more time with each of them alone, and did nothing but love them, because God is Love, and that’s what they need. I got to see them both play in the park (this park is not in the slums), and enjoy being little innocent boys. What a day of joy with all the children, something I will fill my heart with joy for the rest of my life.
As I write this blog, I can here the song “One Love” playing from the courtyard……that is the theme of my visit to the slums of Kenya.



Today was our last day at RoH. Our last morning does of cheering and clapping and celebration with the children. I am sad.

Evelyn, Alfred, Josh, Katie, Travis, Robin, Steve and I took all 59, yes 59 kids to Nairobi National Museum. Our ride to the museum was filled with the children singing, clapping songs in Swahili. I could feel so much love and joy. I sat next to Olivet and David, age 6 and 7. As we got closer to the museum, we could see beds of beautiful flowers. Oliver commented, “red, green, blue” in such a way, as if he had never seen such colorful flowers. My heart filled with joy. I could feel Oliver and David’s spirit as they experienced the joy of seeing beautiful colorful flowers.

The museum was filled with African artifacts, elephants, giraffes, gorillas, monkeys. I loved watching the children having fun. I decided to check out the gift shop and got lost from the group. As I searched outside for the group, I suddenly heard “Mark! Mark! Mark! Mark!” But I didn’t see anyone. I knew the Swahili accent. I immediately noticed a large pane of glass. The children were calling me from the other side but I could not see them.

I was relieved. As I re-approached the entrance to the museum, the children came running towards me, cheering and clapping: “Mark! Mark! We missed you.” All the money in the world could not give me the joy and happiness I felt at that moment. God had found me and I was safe.

We boarded the bus to head to the park. All the children ate popsicles. I loved watching the smiles on their faces as they licked away on those popsicles. We arrived at the park and watch the African army, navy and air force practicing a drill, each man holding a machine gun. I dare not take a photo. A man with a machine gun is in charge. The children ate power bars and drank sodas. I could see and feel how happy these children were. We took lots of photos. The children love taking photos. They drank and ate the sweets, bees began to swarm the children. They scattered, screamed and laughed all at the same time.

Evelyn, Alfred and the children presented us all with African gifts—Dashikis for the men and African belts for the women. We all were surprised. We ended our day at the park and headed back RoH. We said our goodbyes. Boy, I have goodbyes. I cried like a baby from joy and sadness as this was the end of our visit to RoH.

The children presented us all with African necklaces. I felt so overwhelmed. My emotions were working overtime. We all hugged each child as I felt overwhelmed. My emotions were working overtime. We all hugged each child as I tried not to cry. The children seemed puzzled by my tears. What can I say—my tears are tears of hope, tears of happiness filled with joy and sadness. I know this is only the beginning of something greater. We had been blessed!

We ended the day with our final meeting with all the RoH staff, sharing our experience, strength and hope for the future. God is great!

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