Each day after breakfast, the team assembles for a Devotion. Having had the opportunity to teach Kelsey Bilthouse in the 3rd Grade, I felt comfortable assigning Kelsey the challenge of delivering the devotion. I knew she would not let me down. Kelsey delivered a heartfelt devotion on the commandment to honor one’s father and mother. To me Kelsey described how her mom and dad adhered to the concept laid out in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Kelsey described how as a teenager her mom recognized that Kelsey needed an adjustment in her perspective and how she challenged Kelsey to focus on others by serving. She told us about the impact it had on her when she had the opportunity to go on Mission Trips with her parents and how that altered the way she looked at herself. Kelsey’s parents should be proud that they have raised Kelsey in a way that now as an adult she knows who she is and to whom she belongs.
Reverend Carolyn Stephens asked our leader, Clint Smith, if she could offer an additional prayer for the team before we left. In her prayer reminded us that “stuff” happens on Mission Trips that can disrupt the best-laid plans, but our God is a God who turn lemons into lemonade. Our job site for the day was Gituamba Jeanette Keaton Conley Memorial Primary School. This is the school PRUMC helps sponsors through SWOK. Our schedule was pack with little room for error. Team 1 was tasked with painting a mural in a classroom, Team 2 was doing some cleaning in the school, Team 3 was to begin to build a playground, and Team 4 was to mix and pour concrete for half the floor for two future classrooms.
I am betting you guessed it. Things were derailed quickly. For any Mission trip veteran the word volcano might bring back nightmares. Well that was not going to be an issue on this mission trip because we had a cement mixer. We knew we would need it because we had a charge to mix about 100 bags of cement. The plan was to get the cement mixer from Bill Coble’s home early in morning and have it at the school when the team arrived. While pulling the cement mixer behind Bill’s truck, one of the wheels fell off the axel and the cement mixer lay in the middle of road. A team of Kenyans was transported to the place in the road where mixer was left and they loaded it on the truck to take it back to the school. Our Kenyan friends did their part getting the mixer back to the school and welded the tire back on, but it seems the fall was a little much and the mixer’s engine decided not to cooperate. This is where God turns lemons into lemonade.
Several Team 4 members got tired of waiting and decided they would play with the school kids that were outside on break. Before you knew it, the boom box was blaring and kids and adults were dancing as if no one was watching. It was a beautiful dance party. If all goes as we hope, those that assemble for breakfast prior to the Great Day of Service will be able to see the video of this impromptu dance party. Yes, our God does turns lemons into lemonade.
I began to recall Carolyn’s prayer from the beginning of our day. I remembered at how insistent she was that she pray for the team. We had already prayed, but she knew we needed to hear her message. God was clearly speaking through her. I could clearly see God’s fingerprints.
Workwise we did get a lot done. Classrooms were cleaned, the mural was 75% complete, and most of the fence post for the playground were set. When the afternoon rains came, we were at a point it made sense to pack up and head back. When we got back to Tumaini, our home for the week, we began to sort through the 1,500 lbs. of clothes and supplies. My hat goes off to all of those that generously donated. Thank you so much. It was overwhelming to see the mountain of clothes, shoes, and games that you have entrusted to our team to share with our Kenyan brothers and sisters.
The food on this Mission Trip is very good and again Chef Fredrick who treated us to an evening feast. After eating supper, we assemble for our time of fellowship. This is when each team member shares his or her day’s experience. This is one of my favorite times. It is amazing to hear how God works. Almost every night one team member describes their day in way that rocks the group. That was the case when Gayle Jenks described her day. She told us how while working on the mural she realized it was a lot like the way God works in our lives. She said that when they began the project the walls were very dirty. Other than the team leaders, Karen Riddle and Melissa Melissa Longoz, not a single team member could fathom how a beautiful masterpiece was going to rise out the mess they were working in. Gayle described the way they cleaned the walls as being similar to the way God has to clean us in places we too often do not realize are dirty. She spoke of how God has a vision for our lives even when we doubt anything of worth can come from us. Gayle said that when we allow God to cleanse us we too
become His masterpiece. Few if any had a dry eye. Can you believe such wisdom comes from a recent college graduate?
The day ended the way it began. Reverend Carolyn Stephens told us that she saw unity when we were working and playing with our Kenyan neighbors in the manner she believed God had in mind. No one cared how much money one made, whether we were male or female, or the color of one’s skin. We simply worked and played together as one. She challenged us that when we back to the real world we need to expand our circle of friends to reflect God’s unity. Our day was complete and we called it good.