I am going to have a very difficult time composing this blog. Normally I am never at a loss for words! However, this trip was so profoundly life-changing for all of us, that to try to recount what we experienced seems a daunting task indeed. I will do my best!
John and I are pictured above showing off our very special Pokot tribal gifts. The area of Kenya where we spent most of our time is mostly inhabited by the Pokot tribe; a people of great joy and love, a people who are hard-working, continually moving in dance and rhythm, and always offering generous hospitality. They gave John the little wooden seat on which he's perched, and a beautifully carved walking stick. They dressed me in this hand-embroidered cape and skirt, with a beaded band around my head, and woven basket around my neck! Pictured with us is Jesca, the Principal of Nasokol Girls School.
We ministered all weekend at this school after first arriving in Kenya. There are approximately 1,100 female students from grades 9 to 12, and they gathered on Saturday and Sunday for what our host, Rev. Maina, called the "Weekend Challenge." As we entered the huge auditorium Saturday morning for the first day of worship and teaching, we were completely blown away by the deafening shouting and applause of 1100 young girls! Who are we that we should receive such a greeting? But soon we realized that most of these young people had never personally seen a white person or an American before - and they were greatly excited that we had come from halfway across the world just to visit them and share God's love with them.
I taught them on the meaning of "Sh'ma" - to hear and obey. My lesson was from James 1:19-25, and the Lord gave me much for them about the importance of not just reading God's Word, but DOING it! Grandson Jackson followed this with his wonderful teaching on the 10 commandments, in which he applied each commandment to today's world, and we could see that he was getting through to all these precious African girls, most of whom could recite the commandments, but certainly didn't understand that they are all still relevant today! My granddaughter Jayde taught them in the afternoon about Purity, and she challenged 1100 young girls to keep abstinence until marriage, exhorting them to value their virginity and their own personal beauty and worth as daughters of the Most High God. I could see from their faces that this was an entirely new perspective for them, and I was deeply moved. How often, if ever, had they been told they are beautiful and worthy of waiting for God's chosen husbands?
The Spirit had given me an urgency about taking these two grandchildren on this trip, but I really didn't realize the importance of this until after we got over there and found ourselves ministering to Kenyan youth day after day. It was all about the next generation, and it was SO much more impactful to them to hear all this from two kids their own age than it would have been for them to listen to some more people even older than their teachers! :) In fact, as I watched Jayde and Jackson interact with and minister to all these young African kids, I had a very unexpected, profound sense that the Spirit was telling me I am "passing on the mantle" of all my evangelistic work to these two young grandchildren. That was a bittersweet thought!
On Sunday all the students of the Nasokol Girls School, plus teaching staff, plus church members from all the various local churches, attended an all-day service. I had two messages planned; the first was to be on the" Restoration of All Israel," and the second on Isaiah 60:1-2, "The Glory of the Lord Has Risen Upon You." I delivered the message on Israel's Restoration, with the help of a very passionate, Spirit-filled interpreter, who met with me beforehand and told me how he and his congregation are all beginning to keep the feasts of Israel. This message was delivered in power, and I could tell by the expressions on the faces of the 2,000+ people in attendance that they were hearing something totally and utterly new. Joy erupted in the auditorium as many began to embrace the idea that they are a part of Israel; grafted-in heirs of the Covenant! Interestingly, we never had time for me to teach the second message, and so I felt very certain I had delivered exactly what Father wanted these people to hear. We sang some Hebrew songs as well as celebrating the Lord with so many of their own pulsating, exuberant African songs. We danced with them, laughed with them, hugged them till our arms about fell off!
How is it possible to find such unbridled joy in the midst of such poverty? None of us has ever experienced such joy in worship in our own nation, where our lives are easy and comfortable. The head of the teaching staff and his wife gave up their home for us to have a place to stay all week, and so we experienced life as they know it, although we had probably the nicest dwelling place in the entire area. The power blacked out frequently during the day; every faucet we had leaked continually. Often the toilet did not work, but we were so grateful for a toilet since most of the time in our travels around Kenya we were squatting over holes in the ground. There were no refrigerators or stoves in any of the dwellings, but each morning at about 7:00 a.m. our helper, Ben, arrived with a 5-gallon bucket of boiling hot water so we could take warm sponge baths. Then he would boil the milk for us to have Kenyan tea each morning, and oh, what a treat that was! He boiled both the milk and later some water to hard-cook our eggs over a single-burner propane stove. Our helper Theresa came mid-week to wash our linens and all our dirty clothing and we saw her washing one garment at a time in a sudsy bucket in our front yard. Oh, how they blessed us with what they had! And they did it all with huge smiles, loving hearts, willing hands, and that ever-present joy spilling over onto us!
We ministered, taught and sang Monday in the Primary School for boys and girls from first to eighth grade. The power went in and out, but even without keyboard or rhythms, the songs were lifted up and those dancing little bodies never ceased to move! We had brought Rev. Maina the gift of a projector, donated by a generous couple from our fellowship, and he had SO much fun being able to project pictures for the young children, words to songs for the worship, and even some very fun African videos with Biblical songs and messages. He was moved to tears by the joy of having this new tool for his ministry at the schools.
In mid-week came the highlight of our trip. We had collected donations for the Orphange and Day Care Center high up in the mountains in the little village of Akeru. We were told the trek up there on foot would be challenging, but had no idea what we were really in for! No vehicles can go up into this steep, difficult terrain, and so we walked the approximately four-mile distance up treacherous, rocky donkey trails. John's walking stick came in very handy, and I had the ever-present Ben to help me negotiate difficult passes over rivers and 45-degree angle rocks! John made this trip with supernatural strength, just 4 months after his heart attack! All your prayers covered us and gave us the endurance for this remarkable journey.
We had no idea what awaited us when we got to the primitive little village of Akeru. I pray that you are able to open the video below, so that you can marvel - as we did - at the greeting we received by all these precious little children! Not sure if the video is working or the file is too large, but I hope you can see it.
We gave their school headmaster the donation of money, contributed by several of you -- and there were many tears of gratitude. He told us the amount we contributed would feed all sixty children for three months, as well as purchasing shoes and little uniforms for those who do not have any.
After a time of singing songs with the children and sharing a hot lunch of rice and some goat meat (a very rare treat for them), we started to leave the village, but a woman came running after me and tapped me on the shoulder, pleading, "Would you pray for my child?" Her little girl, probably about six years old, looked up at me with dim eyes, and then collapsed onto the ground, vomit spilling from her mouth. She could not stand up. I was told she has malaria, and since no vehicle could get up there, she would receive no medical treatment. I have been around malaria victims in Africa before, and I knew she probably had about six hours before she would succumb to the disease and die. So we gathered around this precious child and I anointed her head and feet with frankincense oil as we prayed earnestly to the Father to heal her. The very next night the headmaster reached Rev. Samuel by phone with the thrilling news that the little girl had recovered completely and was healed! All glory to YHVH Rapha, the Healer! And continued prayers and great blessings for Rev. Maina, who teaches at the school, oversees 7 local churches, and makes this trek up the mountain as often as he can to meet the needs of these children. He is a mighty man of God and he took us in as his own.
At the end of the week we took the long, grueling bus ride back to Nairobi, where we were hosted all weekend by my friend, Pastor Leah, whom I had met in 2004 in Jerusalem. She pastors a wonderful, Spirit-filled Pentecostal church called Open Blessings Ministry. She had written to tell me that she and her congregation were just learning about the feasts of the LORD and wanted me to teach them all I could about keeping the feasts according to the Word. They were eager students, constantly taking notes and scripture references and soaking up all I taught them like sponges! By no coincidence we were there to teach on Shavu'ot, and I spent the whole morning leading them in a service of waving the two loaves, reading all the Scriptures in fulfillment of this powerful feast day, worshiping the LORD, and offering up prayers of repentance on behalf of the nations of Kenya and America.
Once again warm, loving hospitality was extended to us as we spent those last three days in Pastor Leah's home. It was our desire to stay with these people, embracing their lives, their families and their culture, but I had not realized how much that would mean to them. Leah told her congregation, "These people have slept where we sleep, eaten what we eat, and walked where we walk. They did not come in demanding a hotel room and a car. They became one with us and honored us." Praise God that this touched them so much; but actually the honor was ours. None of us complained all throughout the mission; we realized that the Spirit was teaching us what it really means to walk in the words of Paul when he said, "...having nothing, yet possessing everything." Just before we left, the Spirit impressed upon me that 2 Cor 6:4-10 would be the words we must live by as we went. We regard ourselves blessed beyond words to have brought vital, timely understandings of the Word and the Hebraic roots of our faith, plus music, fellowship, financial assistance, and the deep love of Messiah; however, we received life-changing perspectives on what is important in this life and what is not! I pray that none of us will ever be the same. And John and I both extend our deepest gratitude to all who helped to make this marvelous journey to Kenya a reality.
I close with one prayer request: please pray that my camera will be found and returned to me. I apparently left it in Nairobi, and am believing with all my heart that it will be found by Leah's congregation and sent back to me. Then I can send out many more pictures to share with you!
Kelly Ferrari Mills