Friday, April 18, 2014

The Rejoice Project

The purpose of our time in Kenya was to help support a group of young adult volunteers (252 team) put on a camp of sorts in the school to teach the students about uniqueness. It might seem like an easy concept, but lifting these students up and building their self-confidence is hugely important. The idea is that by using their unique gifts that God has given them, they can help others and will in turn help to grow their community.

The bottom line of the Rejoice Project that I feel we, the North Point Church members and 252 volunteers, accomplished as a team is to teach these children that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, unique in every way and loved so, so much.

The lessons team (Cheryl, Raekiela, Nadia and Mike) had the awesome task of really teaching the values and ideas of uniqueness, while the other two teams supported them through arts and games. Cheryl, a retired school teacher, prepared for the trip so well and we are incredibly thankful for the dedicated and thoughtful woman she is. She put together posters, stickers and all sorts of fun laminated visuals that really added such a wonderful level of understanding and excitement and will be cherished by the school for a long time to come. Some of the activities they had were songs, a memory verse shuffle, an Easter egg hunt and acting out the creation story and Noah's ark.

For the sports and games team, the children were entertained for three full days with games like Simon Says, Duck-Duck-Goose, kickball, volleyball, a name game where they said their name and favorite food and activities like hula hooping, bubbles and soccer. The children were taught that each member of a team plays an important role and is irreplaceable because of his or her uniqueness.
The art team had our hands full - mostly with glitter on the last day, as evident by the photos of children with glitter smeared on their faces - but also with plenty of projects to help the children better understand the concept of uniqueness. We gave them each a folder at the beginning of the week to house all of their art pieces, like a thumbprint tree with the fruits of the spirit, a butterfly painting, two coloring pages telling the creation story and a uniqueness card for a friend or family member to tell them how special they are. 


Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Quick Update!

After three incredible days in the school, we left Ngaamba yesterday with lighter bags and fuller hearts. Our time with the people in this community is so invaluable. As Americans, it's hard to grasp the concept of building such a strong relationship with someone you met only a few days ago that you are gripped with sadness upon leaving. Many of us shed tears as we boarded the bus and all of us felt the sadness of turning around and driving away. But it's not goodbye; it's see you later.

We worked alongside about 25 of the most amazing young adult volunteers for the Rejoice Project to teach the students about uniqueness. These volunteers are the most energetic, joyful people I've ever met. Each has a true passion to grow and inspire their community. And what bright students! Not a definition or memory verse or fruit of the spirit was lost on them, and at the end of the three days, they had it all down and fully understood the ideas we were teaching.

Our teams were as follows:

Lessons - Cheryl, Nadia, Raekiela and Mike
Sports - Kelly, Youf, Hannah and Kallie
Arts - Lucy H., Frank, Cathy and Lucy D.

I'll post a few photos to hold you over until I have more time later to give a better update.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blessed as Guests

God is good! Now let me hear you say, “all the time!” and it’s like you’re here in Ngaamba with us. It’s a greeting of sorts that we heard several times on Saturday while meeting members of the community.

Our first day was a whirlwind. We arrived in Ngaamba to all 150 kids excitedly waiting for our bus outside. When we opened the doors and stepped out, we were bombarded by so much love that there just aren’t enough words to describe it. Hugs and high fives were rampant as each of us acquired a brood of kids to walk hand-in-hand with up the long hill to the school.

From there, we met the community leaders and parents in a beautiful welcome ceremony filled with song, dance and encouragement for the Rejoice Project we have in the school later this week. We met with the teams we are going to work beside and heard some beautiful stories of faith.

On Sunday, we were fortunate to be able to break up into groups and visit three separate churches in the community. When we met up that night to reflect on our day, across the teams was a mutual admiration of the beautiful singing in each church. The varying voices and harmonies seem to melt into one beautiful flood of song that just gives you chills and lets you feel the worship. Cathy put it best when she said she has never heard an organ sound as beautiful or filling as their voices.

After church, we were invited into several homes to visit and pray over the families. We shared Chai tea with the homeowners and some of us were taught the art of making Chapati, a delicious Kenyan flatbread that’s oiled and fired to perfection. It was an amazing experience to talk with the families and see their incredible stories of faith. Kelly, Youf, Kallie and Hannah prayed over a woman who has recently been suffering from Epilepsy and she told the translator afterwards that she truly believes it will make a difference. What incredible faith!

We’ve also been seeing the fruits of North Point Ministries’ “Be Rich” campaign all around us - from the medical clinic that was built for the community to meeting women who were trained on growing crops in Zimbabwe to help them be self-sufficient. It’s awesome to see the role NPM is playing in the stories of the Ngaamba people and to see how they attribute everything to favor from God.

Abraham told us that in Kenya, a guest is thought of as a blessing. In fact, a home with no visitors is considered dead all around. But I think what we’re finding as a team is that it is a true blessing for us to BE the guests here in Kenya. We are learning so much from these people and our spirits are being fed so well. We’re incredibly excited for the next three days in the schools teaching the students about uniqueness and how they can use their gifts to serve others, much like we are using ours to serve them.

Our blog updates might be scarce from here on out, but rest assured we will have plenty of stories to share when we have better access to internet. Thanks for your continued prayer and support! We are having a wonderful time here and experiencing so much love and faithfulness from God’s people in Kenya.

Lastly, for a funny story - I (Lucy) was head-butted by a cow yesterday on our walk to the bus. I was petting one cow (gently, I might add) and another cow walked up and was most likely jealous that I wasn’t petting him and rammed his horns into my thigh until I dropped everything and ran away! Fortunately, Cathy was there and ready to capture the moment, as seen below.

Friday, April 11, 2014

We're here!

Our guide for the week, Abraham, and our leader Rob
Hi friends and family!

Just wanted to pop in and let everyone know that we made it to Kenya safely. For our first night, we are staying at a hotel in Nairobi not too far from the airport. It's just past midnight here as I write this and we are to be up and ready for breakfast at 8am. From there, we will head to Ngaamba (the community where we will be serving the entire week), about a two hour drive, to meet the community leaders and get to know the area. We are told Saturday and Sunday are "relaxation days," per Kenyan custom, and then as our guide said, "Monday we will make you pay for those two days when we put you to work!"

Speaking of our guide, his name is Abraham and he is super friendly and speaks intermittent Spanish, which is both surprising and awesome at the same time. He has made us feel so welcome in the short time we have been here. Our leader Rob has known Abraham for years from all his past 410 Bridge trips and has nothing but great things to say about him, so we're looking forward to some great stories this week.

When we got on the bus at the airport, Abraham let us know that he and the other leaders we have for the week have been praying for us and how great it is to see us arrive and everything come to fruition. After that, he prayed for us with a passion like none I have ever heard. It is incredible to hear how others speak to and worship our God and I know we are all looking forward to seeing more of that this Sunday at church in Ngaamba.

In the meantime, we're going to get some sleep (I think about 50% of us are already passed out!) and prepare for the incredible journey God has brought us on here in Kenya. Blessings to you all!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Aaaaand we're off!

Well, we're all at the airport and ready to board in about an hour. But before we jet off to Kenya, we just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has blessed us with their prayers, encouragement and dollars over the past few months. We have a fantastic group ready to serve our Lord and share His everlasting love and grace and mercy and kindness with about 150 Kenyan children and we couldn't be more ready to get to work. Please continue to support us through prayer and we will be updating you along the way!

Our memory verse for the week, which we'd love for you to reflect on with us:

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, 
as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 
1 Peter 4:10

God bless you all and may His love be felt from Atlanta to Kenya and everywhere in between this week and forever more!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Building Our Team

In preparation for our quickly approaching trip, we headed up to Berry College this past weekend for a day at Camp WinShape to work on team building and bonding. We were first given our DiSC profiles and then taught how we can best use our personal God-given gifts and strengths to work together, which also helped us to see the areas where each of us will be most challenged. It was a fascinating day filled with lots of laughs, helpful learnings about our team and perhaps a little frustration at times...but all in good fun!

It was interesting how everything we learned at WinShape lines up perfectly with the camp we are teaching in Kenya on the idea of uniqueness. Our memory verse for the camp is 1 Peter 4:10: "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms," and that is exactly what we as a team are going to have to do in order to serve the children in Kenya.

You see, we have a group filled with very different people. Even our married couple, Frank and Cheryl, are almost polar opposites! Sure, we all share some similarities, but each of us is unique in our own way. And that is a good thing - if not a great thing! God brought us together because he knew that Rob would lead us and Cheryl would teach us and Kelly would inspire us and Youf would keep us on track and Raekiela, Mike, Frank, Kallie, Hannah, Lucy D., Cathy, Nadia and I would each bring something different to the table that will help us accomplish things we couldn't imagine doing apart from this team.

God loves to bring things full circle, huh? 

Here are some photos from our Saturday at WinShape. We are so grateful for the incredible leadership we received from the WinShape staff! It is a true blessing that we were able to participate in a camp like this to better prepare our hearts and our minds for the trip ahead.

And so we begin the countdown of T-E-N days!


Monday, March 10, 2014

One Month Out

Today marks just one month out from our departure date! Our flights are booked, our supplies purchased and packed. Our t-shirts and luggage tags are in tow and our team is equipped and ready to spread God's love. Time, as it's known to do, is flying, but I think the general overall team sentiment is excitement.

The past two team meetings have focused on preparing for the camp we are putting on for about 150 kids while we're in Ngaamba. We have three groups: lessons, art and games. Each group has several activities planned for the children over the course of three days and at the end of the third day, we have a presentation to the children's parents.

Uniqueness is the theme of the camp and our goal is to teach the children that God has given each of them individual qualities and gifts that are to be used to help others. Our memory verse for the week is 1 Peter 4:10, "Each of you should user whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms."

I think this is a good refresher for all of us, really. It's easy - especially as Americans - to get caught up in what we don't have or how we would like to change ourselves. We've taken our focus off what really matters, which is spreading God's word and serving others, and put it on our insecurities and self-proclaimed shortcomings. I'm just as guilty of it as the next person, so I'm really looking forward to the reminders these lessons will be for me.

Here are a few photos from our meeting yesterday where we gathered all our supplies. We're prepping our hearts and saying our prayers over the next month. We'd love for your continued support.