Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Calling all Prayer Partners!

>>Don't forget to check out Amy's blog below about our first four days in Kenya<<
James B, aka Bonsai, here.  Things are going great.  People are speaking plenty of Swahili to Rebecca, which is hilarious, and Daniel, our theology major, is really excited because all of us are going to get to preach soon.
I am going to post prayer requests every couple of days to help keep you all, our prayer partners, up-to-date on how you can best help both the Mi2 team (both in Europe and Africa) and the Christians and non-Christians on those continents.  
Prayer Requests
1)      For Kimber, she is not feeling well right now, so please keep her in your prayers. 
2)      For Jim, as he works on his medical school application.
3)      For the LIA staff, please pray that as we go through our TOT training, that the Holy Spirit provides the wisdom to the LIA staff to continue pouring into us so intentionally like they already have been so far. 
5)      For Sudan, please pray that their president will stop the genocide that continues to this day.
6)      For South Sudan, pray that God protects the people of this new country.   
7)      For Egypt, pray that the upcoming elections go the way that God wants it to go and that followers of Christ there do not get more restrictions placed on them. 
>>Please, if you can, schedule these into your prayer time and  spread them to your friends and family<< 
Family and friends (and Amy's dog Chloe): please know that we are thinking about you a lot (especially Amy with her dog) and that we really appreciate all of the support that you have given us!
Kwa heri!

Monday, May 28, 2012

so much goodness

Hey all!

So it’s Amy writing again!  I hope all is as well stateside as it is in Kenya!  We just finished our fourth official day here in the wonderful country of Kenya, and I figured I’d fill you all in on what we have been doing these past four days!

We arrived in Nairobi on Thursday night, and we were greeted at the airport by my wonderful friend from past trips Jakes and Jane who will be our host for the next three months.  We absolutely love Jane! She has such a sweet spirit, and I think we are so blessed to have her with us for the next 3 months! After we left the airport, we were taken to our guest house in Nairobi.  It’s so nice-LIA really does go above and beyond for their guests! 

On Friday we got to “sleep in” so Jakes came to pick us up at 10:30.  We went to the LIA-Kenya office to meet with the staff, pray, and get into the Word.  At the LIA-Kenya office, I was reunited with my dear friend Paul, the country director for LIA-Kenya and prayer extraordinaire.  All of the Mi2s and the LIA-Kenya staff spent some time praying and worshiping.  We sang some hymns out of this little praise song book.  Worshiping from this book was so different from what we are all used to back in the states.  The worship was so “raw”-no lighting, no instruments, and no one who had a particularly good voice (at least to U.S.A. standards)-it was simply God’s children praising and blessing Him for who he is and his goodness.  After prayer and worship, Paul taught from John 5:1-15 and pretty much blew our minds.  God really speaks through Paul—we are so blessed to have the chance to be poured into by Paul and all the other LIA staff. 

On Saturday our new friend Keziah from LIA-Kenya came over to our apartment to start some training.  Keziah facilitates all the TOT (trainers of training) training sessions—it is her passion and she does an amazing job at it! Keziah taught us about spiritual mapping which is when you go into a community and just observe and identify what the strongholds are.  She also taught us about prayer walking and some cultural basics so that none of us offend any of the Kenyans by being silly Mzungus (Swahili word for “white person”).  That afternoon we got to do a spiritual mapping/prayer walk on our way to lunch.  Just on our short 20 minute walk to our lunch destination, it was amazing how just down the street, basically in our backyard, there was so much “poverty” amidst such a nice area of town.  I’ve never spent much time in Nairobi on previous trips so I’m definitely experiencing a Nairobi that is completely new to me.  On our way there were two people who really stood out to me and literally broke my heart.  James mentioned on of them in his previous post.  Both of the people were beggars; one lady had a shriveled up foot and the other was a young boy who was wearing flip-flops on his HANDS.  He was dragging himself down the sidewalk because he was crippled.  This absolutely broke me.  On the one hand, we are in Nairobi, the supposed city of opportunity in Kenya, but when you walk the streets a totally different picture is presented.  On the other hand, I forget how much I compartmentalize things at home.  I live in the east end of Louisville on the complete opposite end of town from the “poorer” area of town so I rarely come in contact with anything that is even close to being considered poverty (well economic, social, and physical poverty-spiritual poverty is a whole other issue).  But here in Nairobi I’m literally faced with the abounding amount of need everywhere I go.  

On Sunday morning we attended Innkeeper’s Fellowship church! Florence’s (LIA founder) brother, Julius, pastors this church and it was nothing short of amazing.  It’s been a couple years since I’ve attended a Kenyan church service so I’ve kind of forgotten how authentic and Spirit-led their services are.  Julius preached one of the best sermons any of us had ever heard.  He preached from Numbers 13-14 when Israel is about to enter the promised land-the first time around.  The whole thing was about if you want to do great things for God, you have to have Vision and Faith. He said that God gives us a vision of where he wants to take us and we have to have the faith that he will follow through.  The sermon really laid a biblical foundation while edifying the body of Christ in that church.  We also got a new roommate on Sunday afternoon!! His name is Noureldin and he is the country director in Sudan.  He has come in for TOT training for the next 10 days.  He is so sweet and we are all really looking forward to getting to know him!

Annnnd now to Monday—today we started out TOT training with LIA.  We began our morning praying as a team before we left which was really awesome since we haven’t spent much time in prayer as a team.  At the training there were 30 people from several different countries in attendance.  The nations represented were Kenya, Sudan, Egypt, D.R. Congo, Rwanda, and the United States.  We talked more about spiritual mapping which involved a great discussion about idols in the different countries represented.  It was amazing listening to the other people talk about the idols in their culture—it seems that we all struggle with the same idols just in varying degrees.  It was so powerful praying, worshiping, and sharing about our faith with these brothers and sisters because you realize once again how BIG God is and how he is the same God in Rwanda as he is in Kenya as he is in the U.S.  We also gained ANOTHER roommate today!  Her name is Amani and she is the country director in Egypt—what an amazing lady with such a big heart.  Its been so interesting learning about Egypt and Sudan from our two housemates---and it’s been awesome listening to Bonsai tell his “American” joke----he’ll have to include it in his next blog post J

Overall, our time here in Kenya was involved a lot of downtime which we are all thankful for since we have had time to rest and to get settled in to living with 5 other people.  James/Jim has also had lots of med school application stuff to get done so I know that he is thankful for the downtime.  The downtime has also allowed us freedom to explore our apartment complex and meet the people living here.  Kimber, Rebecca, and Bonsai got the opportunity to play soccer with some kids that live downstairs—so awesome.  And Daniel and I tackled two of the hardest crossword puzzles I’ve ever done—James/Jim helped some.  Even though we have had lots of downtime, God has really been teaching us all as a group and as individuals. It’s been a blessing to see how everyone processes things differently and I’ve definitely come to love my team even more as I’ve listened to their hearts on what they are experiencing after the first few days.  Please continue praying that God will just open up all of our hearts and that we will be open to ALL that he wants to teach us.  These next 10 days are going to be FULL of information so pray for rest and for us to be focused on the material and that we are able to fully receive it.  Thanks so much! We miss and love you all!! Mungu akubariki! (God Bless)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Brokenhearted Intern

James “Bonsai” Bonsall here.   The Lord Jesus has very much blessed our time in Kenya so far.  Fellow intern Jim (Dolezal) is our current head chef; he has been making great African food for us.  Daniel and Amy are definitely enjoying being back in Kenya and Amy is really excited to go to Kisumu in a few weeks. 
This experience in Kenya has been both inspiring and heartbreaking.  I have never laughed and cried so much in a two-day period in my entire life [I have laughed more and I have cried more, but never so much of both in such a short timeframe!].  Yesterday, I joined Rebecca as she was playing soccer with a bunch of kids that lived near our home base in Narobi.  Seeing the joy on her face as she was interacting with the children was very inspiring.  Kimber joined us later and, even though she was only equipped with flip-flops/sandals, she was doing really well!   Soccer in the evening with the kids is definitely going to make Kenya enjoyable this summer!  Hopefully Amy, Daniel, and Jim will join us next time!  (although to Jim's credit, he was cooking!)

Today we walked to a market and on the way we saw a lain man [see John 5:1-15, which we studied just yesterday!] crawling on the side of the road.  People were just walking past and ignoring him.  I tuned it out at the time until we got back to the house and I asked Jane, our dear friend (we love this lady!) and liaison with LIA about a safety net for people that are disabled (doesn't everybody get disability?).  My heart was truly broken when she said there is no safety net and that many people have nowhere to go for help, especially if they have no relatives to look after them.  Here is this man, who is disabled likely at no fault to himself.   I had tears streaming down my face when I thought "What if he were just born in America, then he would have the assistance he needs to just get a wheelchair so he could get around."    (My thoughts on this are not over, but I must move onward) 
What I saw today was just one (uno, moja, eins) person.  In a few weeks we will be spending many days in the slum, Kubari, that has (from what I have been told by Amy) nearly a million people living in it.  I can’t even fathom that right now. 

>>your prayers (yes yours!) are needed<<
>>and mucho appreciated<<
Prayer requests 
  • For the lain gentleman, please pray that he has relatives that are prosperous in their commercial endeavors and are able and willing to help take care of him and that God will shower this man and his relatives in grace and comfort and that he will fix this man's legs, just like he did in John 5 [seriously read this!], so that he will walk again. 
  • For the friends, families, and supporters of our entire Mi2 team (in Africa and Europe) that God's grace will just flow over them so that they don't miss us too much while we are gone (It will be tough task for our Lord, but thankfully He can do great things!).  And that God will bless them many times greater for all of the prayers, emotional encouragement and financial support that has made this possible for each one of us. 
  • For the Mi2: Czech Republic team (you can follow Chelsea, Ester, and Sarah's blog as they work with Josiah Ventures) let them keep focused on God and allow Him to do big things with the youth that they are working with this summer.    
  • For our Mi2: Kenya team, that we keep our hearts focused on God and what he wants to do with us in this place. Pray for God to open our hearts and minds to be truly transformed.  Let us not be afriad of somebody because they have HIV/AIDS but embrace our brothers and sisters and love on them as Christ Jesus would.   
  • For me, that I never get used to seeing this absolute poverty, that my heart never becomes numb to the helpless, (that these people in Kenya never become hopeless), and that my tears are turned into actions guided by the Holy Spirit to ultimately bring God all of the honor, all of the glory, and all of the praise. 
On the plane ride(s) to Kenya, I had thought (foolishly) that I would be stronger and resist getting too caught up in the emotions of what I was seeing (I know what I was feeling, but what was I thinking limiting God's ability to work in me!?!?).  God showed me how wrongsilly I was!  After talking to Rebecca, Amy, and our dear friend JaneI am starting to think that these feelings the Holy Spirit is convicting me with are [making]going to make me a stronger person.  I am starting to think that God is going to break[ing] me down and build[ing] me back up into a better servant for Him.  I am starting to think that this will be the most challenging summer of my life.
However, I am starting to think that God is [making]going to make this the best summer of my life. 

Now now now, I know we posted a bunch on one day (we really wanted to communicate with you!) but......
>>Don't forget to scroll down and read Amy's posts about our team<< 
(By the way, please ask questions or leave comments on our posts. We would love to respond back when we have internet) 

And so it begins...

KARIBU (Welcome) to our blog!

Lots of love from the Mi2: Kenya team to our family and friends back in the states and in the Czech Republic!  As you all can tell, after 30 hours of traveling, we safely made it to Kenya.  We thank God for smooth and safe travels—I’ve literally never made it through London-Heathrow airport so smoothly; it’s a miracle!  I’m going to back things up a bit since we just now got internet access and focus this blog on the beginning of Mi2 and just my/our heart about this team as we began to take this journey together barely a week ago.  Oh and P.S. this is Amy writing!

So our adventure began last Saturday as we, along with Will Rogers, Ben Thornley, Blake Shively, Jeri Lyn Fluhr, and the Czech Republic team, made our way to Georgia/Tennessee.  We spent the weekend getting to know the whole Mi2 team, learning more about what our summers will look like, and participating in some extreme water sports.  We experienced sweet fellowship that can only come from the Father; He really just bound us all together in ways that I don’t understand.  I know that I can honestly say that all 13 of us left feeling like family.  He is just so good.  Overall, it was a perfect weekend just spent prepping physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually for this summer internship.

On Wednesday our adventure across the world began.  Our families and friends gathered at the airport to see us off and to pray over us.  I am so thankful for the people that came to send us off—it really meant a lot to all of us to have such a strong foundation back in the States that will pray for us and welcome us home in 11ish weeks.  Saying goodbye to my family and friends for the summer was harder than I thought especially saying goodbye to the Czech team in Chicago, but I know that God is going to rock our worlds this summer and our reunion in August will be sweet. 

Over this past week I have just been in awe of God and how he put the whole Mi2 team together.   In the short week that I’ve known the team, I have seen God’s hand moving over us and binding us together.  I know that without a doubt that this team is God-ordained and that he is on this journey with us in Kenya and in Czech.  A wise man once told me, “Remember your all’s team spans continents.  It’s a special team-trust me in that.”  Those words have really meant a lot to me and to my fellow Kenya-ers as we embarked on this journey with feelings of excitement and uncertainty.  There is specialness about this team that we can all sense, but I don’t know what that specialness is quite yet.  And I certainly am not worthy to be part of such a special team, but I’m so humbled that I do get to be a part of what God is doing in Kenya and in Czech (indirectly).  I know that my fellow Kenya-mates feel the same way.  Even though 6 of us are in Kenya and 3 are in Czech, we are one Mi2 team and through this team God’s glory and goodness are being made known in Africa and in Europe.  We may be only a few people in the scheme of things, but I know that God has used us and is going to use us to make himself known in these places and beyond.  I’m so thankful to be part of this team-in Kenya and Mi2 as a whole.  I feel like I’ve known my Kenya team for way longer than a week; they truly feel like family to me and I am so excited for us to grow together as a team and individually.

So yeah, blogs will be coming soon about our first couple days in Kenya, but I can tell you for sure that God is already opening our eyes and teaching us so much.  We are so thankful for the internet…finally… and I pray that it continues to be in full working order.  We love each and every one of you reading this blog and we appreciate even more your prayers.  Please pray that as a team we will continue to grow in trust and love for one another and pray that we just make ourselves more available and open to what God wants to teach us.  We love you all.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”            Ephesians 3:20-21

In Christ,

The Kenya-ers

So, who is the Kenya team? Well, let me just take a moment to introduce each of my fellow                    Mi2: Kenya-ers. 
(from top left)
Name: Rebecca Scott
Age: 23
College/Major: Graduated from University of Louisville (GO CARDS!)- Business Marketing
Hometown: Bowling Green, KY
Reason for doing Mi2: I’ve had missions on my mind for a couple years and when God led me to the Mi2 website it seemed like awesome opportunity to get first-hand experience in an internship setting. I really had no idea whether God was calling me to full-time missions, but I’m so glad I get the opportunity to explore that.
Comment about Will & Ben: I just think they are so funny. That’s all I really have for y’all. Most of the time, I would just watch/listen to them in awe.
Favorite Song: Cold-hearted by Paula Abdul

Name: Kimber Pittman
Age: 19
Hometown:  Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
College/Major: Manhattan Christian College-Cross-Cultural Missions/Business
Reason for doing Mi2: To better understand my calling for my life/understand God’s purpose for my life
Favorite thing, funny moment(s), just a comment about Will & Ben: Will and I are complete opposite people all the way down to our strengths—this wouldn’t pose much of a problem except that two of Will’s bottom strengths are empathy and harmony…
Favorite Song: Cold-hearted by Paula Abdul

Name: Amy Bryant
Age: 23
Hometown: Louisville, KY
College/Major: University of Louisville (GO CARDS!)-Business Marketing
Reason for doing Mi2: I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to Kenya twice on short-term trips and absolutely fell in love with Kenya and with LIA’s ministry model.  I wanted to spend a longer period of time learning about how LIA trains and equips the local church to actually be the church.  Also, I want to better understand my role in missions for the future.
Funny moment/memory about Will & Ben:  Playing music jeopardy with Ben on the way to rafting; just watching Ben use his special cup every day while wearing pink sunglasses; Will stealing our butter and then finding the butter in the cabinet 2 days and 2 boxes of butter later; Will and I plowing through four bags of raw carrots with minor help from others in one weekend
Favorite Song: Cold-hearted by Paula Abdul

Name: James/Jim Dolezal (our brainiac)
Age: 21
Hometown: Peru…Indiana--wah wah wahhhh
College/Major: Taylor University-Biology Pre-med
Reason for Mi2:  It looks like Mission Impossible: 2. In all actuality, I’m a pre-medicine student and feel called to serve God through health missions.  LIA’s approach in this internship—to train students in how to approach sustainable missions and treat people holistically—is perfect for people in my situation, who not only want to make our calling sure but also desire to learn how best to establish the Kingdom of God with the life and resources we’ve been given.
Funny Moment with Will and/or Ben:  Their faces
Favorite Song: Cold-hearted by Paula Abdul

Name: James Bonsall aka Bonsai
Age: 23                
Hometown: New Albany, IN      
College/Major: Indiana University Southeast- Business Marketing
Reason for doing Mi2: I feel like there is more to life than sitting at a desk from 9-5 and the Mi2 program is structured in a way that will help me discover the more important things in life.
Funny Moment with Will and/or Ben: I couldn’t remember which one was Will and which one was Ben all weekend!
Favorite Song: Cold-hearted by Paula Abdul

Name: Daniel Mueller (our Theologian)
Age: 20
Hometown: Louisville, KY
College/Major: Ozark Christian College- New Testament Theology
Reason for Mi2: Being a New Testament Theology major, I have studied the Scriptures for the past three years at school. My goal for Mi2 is to learn how to apply what I have learned in my studies into a pastoral setting; I seek to not merely be an intellectual but to be a pastor who applies their theology into everyday life and into the local church. I also came to learn how to leverage the local church to maximize the impact of the church in the community.
Funny Moment with Will and/or Ben: It was a cool night in the Mountains of North Georgia/Tennessee. Will, Ben, and I were seeking warmth from the fire. However, since we are men we also are innately pyros. In a search for a burst of flame one of the fearless Mi2 leaders decided to pick up the large box of matches and cast them into a fire. As the first flame hit the box we retreated to what we hoped to be a safe distance, waiting for the fire to reach the matches. But what were we met with? An all-consuming burst of orange flame? A firework show in the middle of the camp fire? Nope, all that we received was a lame sizzle as each match was burned up by the flames. Instead of a flame show we received a hearty guffaw.
Favorite Song: Cold-hearted by Paula Abdul

And there ya have it ladies and gents—the Mi2: Kenya team!  I absolutely love this team—so thankful for them. 
To God alone be the glory,
Amy and the Kenya-ers

P.S.and yes the sign of a God-ordained team is that they ALL have the same favorite song.