Have you visited our church library? We call it the Family Resource Center because in addition to books, the collection includes DVDs, CDs, magazines and other media for children, youth and adults. It is an inviting open space with comfy chairs and tall windows overlooking Morse Blvd. Our collection includes Bible studies, devotionals, inspirational stories, parenting books, theological classics, children’s picture books, and much more. Everything can be borrowed and taken home to study and enjoy. So take a short elevator ride to the second floor of the Matthias Family Life Building and follow the signs around the walkway to the library. You’ll like what you find there.
“How About You?”
October 2nd will mark the beginning of an exciting new small group opportunity. “How About You?” will provide an opportunity for those in the 9:30 worship service to both connect with one another and have a place for intentional Christian community. After the worship service, still in the gym, we will take 30 minutes to gather in groups and examine how we can better follow Christ in our lives.
In Christ God sees us as saints, HAY will help equip us to be better Christian leaders in our family, relationships, workplace and community. To get there we must first make sure that our own souls are nourished. This self-leadership takes place in community. Hebrews 10:24-25 stresses the importance of intentional Christian community as we seek to live faithfully in the world.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NIV)
The practice of followers of Christ gathering together to help one another along the journey started with Jesus and the disciples and has continued throughout history. Each time there has been major growth in the Christian faith, these gatherings, or little churches within the big church, have been central. These type of groups were central to early Methodism. John Wesley saw Christianity as impossible alone. In contrast to an individual spirituality Wesley states:
“Directly opposite to this is the gospel of Christ. Solitary religion is not to be found there. ‘Holy solitaries’ is a phrase no more consistent with the gospel than holy adulterers. The gospel of Christ knows of no religion but social; no holiness but social holiness.”
But what about…
We understand that there are many things competing for your attention. Because of this we have sought to address anything that might stop you from participating in this transformative opportunity. For you to be able to participate we have made some changes to children’s and youth ministries on Sunday mornings to accommodate them during this time. There will be a space for your children and youth to simultaneously participate in a small group environment so your children will also have the opportunity to grow in their faith and connect with their peers.
Childcare will be provided in the fellowship hall, we just ask that you register. Middle and high schoolers will meet in the youth lounge and participate in their own HAY discussion groups. Food will be provided in both spaces.
We cannot walk this journey alone. Come join us beginning October 2nd. All are welcome.
Those of you who have visited our Panua experience might remember Samuel’s house. The 10×10 hut shared by Samuel and his 7 siblings is a depiction of where Samuel was living when we learned his story in 2013. When we visited Samuel today, we saw that he is now living in a 2 room row house, still with all his siblings and but in much better conditions. While the conditions are not still up to the standards that we are accustomed to, he is doing great and is appreciative of all the assistance that Panua has offered him.
He has steady work operating a water-delivery donkey cart, which provides well for the family. We were with him as he harnessed his 3 donkeys to the cart – and we learned that donkeys actually recognize their owners, and that’s why, out of the many, many donkeys we’ve seen on the side of the road, each donkey stays with its proper owner. With Florence acting as our interpreter,Samuel let us know that he feels so much love & support from all of Children’s Ministry.
While we were in the neighborhood, we picked up Benson and took him to see his prayer partner, Jennifer, who was with the rest of the team in a planning meeting. What a great time they had getting to know each other better – and Benson and Spencer (Jennifer’s daughter) enjoyed the trampoline! A real treat for them both!
After a quick trip to the grocery store, we drove out to Hell’s Gate National Park. This is the park which inspired the setting for The Lion King. We were able to meet up with Abraham, a 2016 Panua Graduate, who isworking as a guide at the park. Our first stop inside the gate was to eat lunch, and after a brief warning from Abraham to watch out for the sometimes aggressive monkeys, we looked up to find a monkey coming into the safari top of the truck! Before we knew what was happening, that little rascal had stolen popcorn and Sammy’s entire peanut butter & jelly sandwich! There were a few moments of utter chaos inside the Land Cruiser before Sammy got the roof shut and the critter out. Can’t say we weren’t warned!
Abraham took us into the park and got us through our 8km hike safely, down into the gorge and back out, educating us along the way of all the park happenings and history. It was beautiful scenery – another good reminder of God’s hand in the creation of this beautiful setting.
Our trip back to town included a stop in Karagita to see Lucy, who is supported by Student Ministries! Her English is limited, but with Florence translating, she expressed her thanks to the group and was grateful to receive a huge stack of letters from students. Students, be sure to attend Elevate where you will have a short video message from Lucy!
Our blogs of this week would not be complete without mentioning Sammy, our driver, who was definitely part of our team and went above and beyond, shuttling us to neighborhoods near and far. Spencer remarked that “he felt like a dad on this trip – he protected us, taught us stuff, showed us around and just took care of us.” He did all that and more. We thank you, Sammy!
We feel blessed to have participated in such an informative, educational, relational, awesome trip! We wrapped up our week with a team dinner at the hotel restaurant, where Paul, Patrick, Florence and Ephantus, from the Kenya Office, were able to join us. It was a nice way to cap off a wonderful week!
Today we attended church at Rehoboth UMC in the DCK neighborhood. What a great service and a great message to remember to stay as moldable clay in God’s hands so He can continually shape and reshape us as He needs to. The text for today’s service was Jeremiah 18:5-6: “Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, ‘Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.’” What was extra special for us was that Pastor Paul used a mosaic that was completed by one of our graduates, Zach, that said “I ? Panua”. This small mosaic was done overnight from our leftover broken pottery and presented to us the morning of graduation by Zach. He had asked to have the extra pieces and the tools from our larger mosaic project. We were all so surprised by the beautiful work he did so quickly, but even more surprised when the pastor used it in his sermon! It’s now a sermon we will never forget because no matter where we come from we are all the same to God and are all still a work in progress.
DCK – I cannot find the words to express or explain the living or road conditions of this neighborhood on a hill. I will have to let the pictures speak for themselves. They asked us to bring to you their greetings. They are so appreciative of our help for their youth. They also asked us to keep them in our prayers now and during the 2017 Kenyan elections. They are hoping for continued peace in this country.
After the service, we drove a short distance to have lunch, and got to meet a giraffe up close and personal. That was exciting for everyone, even Sammy our driver, as he had never actually touched one before. We lunched in a beautiful spot overlooking Lake Naivasha, and then took a drive over to a nearby breathtaking saltwater lake, viewing Kongoni, another of the neighborhoods we will work in next time, on the way there.
Another blessed day for all.
There is no way to sum up our experience at the 2016 Graduation for Panua Cycle 2! These students are amazing – they are confident, polite, excited, well-spoken and doing great things in their communities already. To see their transformations from our earliest photos to today, is simply a work that only God can do. They are thankful and we are, too.
We even had about 20 of our previous 90 from the class of 2013 return to speak at the graduation about their successes and to encourage the latest graduates. What a joy to see them healthy, happy, successful and giving back to their communities and to Panua. Along with alumni and current graduates, we had a group of potential youth for the next cycle in attendance, so they were able to see where they can be in 3 years and in 6 years by looking at those who were in the classes before them. Helping the program “expand” – this is everything we hope for!
Saturday was safari day! We left before dawn to head out to Lake Nakuru National Park hoping to catch all the animals as they started their day. Our driver, Sammy, came through for us, taking us on little-traveled roads to catch some of the most beautiful of God’s creation in breath-taking settings. While the lions eluded us, we saw baboons, impalas, giraffes, zebras and even 3 rhinos, which are often well hidden. Seemed like all the other tourists we encountered were looking for the rhinos we had seen early in the day.
It was a busy Friday and a restorative Saturday, and the beauty of both days was not lost on us! We celebrated heartily on Friday with our Panua graduates, thanking God for His provision and their success. And on Saturday, we soaked in the beauty of the park while remembering the Creation Story, as we explored the place where it took place and saw how perfectly God made it. What a privilege to share this wonderful place with such a dedicated team!
It was a very moving and inspirational day graduating our current class of Panua youth. We will be out the door tomorrow morning by 5:45 for a one-day safari, so not much blogging will happen tonight. Just wanted to offer a few pics of the day so you can get a flavor. It was spectacular!
The youth were so excited getting ready!
We paraded from the church where everyone got their caps and gowns through town to the graduation venue. We even had a police escort and a band – so fun!
Some of the entertainment at the ceremony. There was a group of tribal women singing, chanting and dancing, and they even got David out there, which the kids just loved. There was also a cool dance group made up of 4 of the graduating youth.
More stories and pictures tomorrow when we return from our day-trip! Lala salama, everyone!
Today is Day 7 of our Panua Mission Trip. In the scripture Genesis 2 “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing, so on the seventh day He rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done”. After a busy 6 days of visiting with our working group youth and being in meetings, today was our first day that we stayed at our hotel and yes, somewhat “rested”.
Our team began preparations today for the graduation ceremony tomorrow by organizing the caps, gowns, and certificates for 160 youth, while our mission member, artisan David from our sister church in Naples and a talented Panua youth, Zachary, who will be graduating tomorrow, completed our mosaic heart project. How fun to have Zachary learn from David and see the final mosaic completed.
It was a day of laughter, joy, peace and rest as we prepared in excitement to celebrate the graduation of these youth.
We all got to enjoy the warm sunshine kisses from God on our faces and the slower pace of the day. What a great day of reflection for all the blessings He has given to all of us, his children.
At the end of the day I reflected on what a gift God has handed down to all of us. The Panua Partners in Hope has transformed lives both in the United States and Naivasha. We have helped equip and empower so many lives these past 6 years. It is a time for celebration and time for joy.
Smiles – Mia Thomas
It is hard to grasp the feeling of desperation when there is a bright, polished young man speaking his testimony with light in his eyes.
Throughout our trip to each of Naivasha’s communities, we have seen the transformation in all of our youth. Today touched our hearts especially, because we heard the journey of 20-year-old accountant Hannington.
After his mother died when he was 12, he did not let his grief and poverty get the best of him. He stuck together with his older brother and prayed that through their hard work, God would show them a better way of life. Never knowing their father, Hannington and his brother knew that God is their Father and that He would provide.
“When you hear ‘There is someone who can support you, what do you want to do?’ that is like a miracle,” Hannington said.
This miracle Hannington received from Panua is the same reality the youth of the DCK neighborhood pray to receive as a part of the next Panua 3-year class. Even higher in the mountains, the beauty of the DCK area is juxtaposed by the extreme poverty its inhabitants are faced with daily. The terrified faces of 16-to-22-year-olds showed their longing to find a way to work toward a better life for themselves, their siblings and their children.
Luckily Panua is not just a temporary hand-out, but a sustainable way of living to improve the lives of the youth and their communities. Kayole youth Lucy and Teresia have transformed their lives through leveraging their sewing skills. Their new business is located in a building owned by their mentor Lydia. Even after graduation, Lucy and Teresia will continue to profit and service others by making and tailoring school uniforms.
“My vision with Panua is not to only rely on it,” Hannington said. “I want to give back to Panua what they were able and willing to do for me.”
We continue to learn from people like Hannigton, who remind us to delight in the little surprises like a warm hug from a stranger, spotting giraffes on the side of the road, and creating lasting friendships with everyone we meet along the way.
As Panua continues to grow, we look forward to finding not just partners in hope, but also families in hope.