First United Methodist Church

Service Times

9am Contemporary | 11am Traditional

The Word of the Day – Celebration!

Kenya Mission Team A, Day 7

Today is the day!!!  It is Graduation Day!  

We met at the church around 8am to check youth in, distribute caps & gowns and take photos.  The second mission team from Florida arrived during this prep time. A small pep band warmed up in the courtyard as youth trickled in and lined up for a celebratory parade through town from the church to an outdoor, tented graduation ceremony site about 10 blocks away.  So much joy and anticipation. 

It was about a 4-hour ceremony, filled with inspiring speakers from the community, Inua alum, current graduates and our very own Kenya Katie (Katie Cornelius.). There was singing, praying and picture-taking.  The youth were called up one-by-one within their vocation to receive their certificate. Families/guardians cheered and hugged and even shed tears of pride.  

After the ceremony, Cycle 2 alum Lily, catered the reception celebration.  Other youth set up displays of their work and wares to sell, such as jewelry and art.  Groups gathered with friends for photos and celebrations.  We encouraged the youth to trade their caps and gowns in exchange for an Inua string-backpack.  (We reuse the caps/gowns.). We left around 3pm (it had started at 10!) and many were still celebrating! 

Tomorrow (Saturday) will be a day of R&R, exploration, shopping and farewells with our Inua partners in Naivasha.  It will be hard to say goodbye to the staff: Florence, Eunice, Patrick, Ephantus and Paul. They are family.   

On Sunday, we will begin our journey home.  We are all a tad concerned about Hurricane Dorian and our families in Florida prepping without us.  We expect our flight from Nairobi to Dubai will be fine, but the storm will dictate the timing of our return to Orlando.  

Update: The unpredictable nature of the storm has messed with air travel plans.  We are currently booked to land on Saturday extending our 10-days away to 15 days. It is hard but we are together and making the most of options in Dubai.  We are so thankful for Laura Toshie, our trip leader.  Her selflessness, humor, and kind spirit have kept us together and ready to weather the twists and turns of our daily situation with a dose of grace.

The Word of the Day – Prepare. 

Kenya Mission Team A, Day 7

As our families back home begin to prepare for a massive hurricane, we are busy preparing for tomorrow’s graduation ceremony.

We spent our entire morning with the Inua Staff in their office in downtown Naivasha.  Some of us had meetings about things like a graduate/alumni program or tweaking the Inua Mission Statement, others worked on reprinting a few graduation certificates that need edits.  Others loaded caps and gowns into the van for transport to the church, which some spent time next door at the Inua Salon and Training center.  It was a busy and productive morning with lots of chatter about youth transformations, updates on Inua youth from Cycle 1 and 2,  and excitement for Friday.  

We toured the large market area and had a quick lunch before returning to the hotel.  It was only 5pm so we decided we had enough time before dinner to enjoy a hippo boat ride on Lake Naivasha.  We insisted that our van driver, Sammy, come with us as he had NEVER been on a boat ride before. We love Sammy!  We were able to get up close to several safari animals on Crescent Island — so unique with its access to wildlife… zebra, impala, giraffe and water buck graze free here after being left behind when the island was used to shooting the movie “Out of Africa.” 

It was an amazing day and we feel prepared for all of the excitement tomorrow promises.

The Word of the Day – Growth. 

Kenya Mission Team A, Day 6

We spent today in Zone 3, the furthest area from the center of town.  It is about an hour away from the Inua office in Naivasha.  It is a more rural area, scattered among large, internationally-owned, flower farms.   We gathered at a church in the DCK neighborhood with seven youth and one mentor as well as two missioners from Minnesota (courtesy of Ivor and Mary Scott Singer) who were joining us for the second half of our week. 

This area appears to have the greatest need in terms of access to water, education, etc.  Even so, their faith and joy remain high.  It was a blessing to hear the youth speak with enthusiasm and confidence about their futures.  We went to see a few of their businesses including Beth’s hair salon, called “Smart Saloon”, Ben’s Poultry Farm which sells eggs, chickens, and chicks for breeding and Vivian/Cynthia’s hair salon, where a few of us were able to purchase headbands and hair ties.  While there, we ran into Abraham, a Cycle 2 graduate who is now a tour guide at Hell’s Gate National Park. It was so uplifting to see the growth and smile on Abraham’s face!

After our visits with the youth, the Kenyan office staff gave us a tour of the Inua Farm, currently brimming with corn. The farm is used to train youth about safe agri-business while increasing food security. It is an important part of the program, one which we are working to expand.   We (all 15 of us – 5 Kenyans and 10 missioners) enjoyed a late lunch at Ken Gen before the rains came pouring down.  We made it back to the hotel in the late afternoon for a few meetings about the new mentor training program and graduation prep.

The youth are growing nicely. The crops in the farm are growing nicely. Our team, our understanding of this mission and our vision for Inua is growing nicely.  

God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.