Expressing God's Love, Engaging in God's Justice

Beth Braxton Mission Trip Report

Njoro Mission Trip Report

 August 4-18, 2013 

“ I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.  I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 1:3-6) 

Gratitude is the overwhelming attitude of the fifteen members and friends of New York Ave. Presbyterian Church who journeyed six thousand plus miles to East Africa to the small town of Njoro, Kenya, for the purpose of building our relationship and knowledge of the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) program run by the P.C.E.A. Njoro Parish there. 

Grateful for starting the trip with a thorough perspective of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa —

We were honored that both the Moderator David Gathanju and the Secretary General Rev. Festus Gitonga of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa took time from their busy schedules to meet with our group.  They talked about the history and the present organization of the P.C.E.A. which has approximately 4,000,000 members, over 1,000 congregations, and just 450 pastors!  They expressed their gratitude to us for our coming and being with them.  We also visited the Church of the Torch, the oldest continuous Presbyterian Church in Kenya.  We met with the Chancellor of the Presbyterian University which is just seven years old.  And we met with the Superintendent for the Presbyterian Hospital, which has been in operation since 1908.  We definitely saw in one day how PC(USA) mission dollars are at work!  We are proud!

Grateful for a bird’s eye view of Kenyan economics —

From tourism of Nakuru National Park and the Giraffe Farm on the outskirts of Nairobi to Tea Research Foundation on the largest tea plantation in the world, in Kericho, to the Kazuri Bead Factory, a World Fair Trade Organization that provides single mothers with employment, we gleaned a broad and deep  understanding of what works in Kenya.  We also walked through a section of Kibera, the second largest slum in Africa, where folks eke out a living any way they can; and we learned of the tension between Christian and Muslim there.  We experienced the slow pace of movement through infra-structure in this strong, developing country of Kenya.  (Our van driver was so excited about the new super highway the Chinese had been helping to build)

Grateful for the overwhelming expression of welcome and hospitality by our Njoro counterparts —

The members of the P.C.E.A. Njoro parish welcomed us to stay in their homes for three nights.  The gifts of conversation and food were most gracious!  It was such a special opportunity to experience the everyday lives of individual Kenyans.   Some of us learned to cook chapatis; some of us learned new songs; some of us experienced anew the power of prayer.

Grateful for the unique opportunity to be with the 32 orphan and vulnerable children that NYAPC helps support —

We ran a one day-all day Bible School Program with worship, centered on the Good Samaritan story from Luke 10 and then followed with four activities: dance, singing, crafts and games.  Beth and Bob Braxton and Shamika Bradley led dance; Martha Davis, Jim Turner and Sarah Williamson led singing; Molly Lauer, Marsha Renwanz, Carol Casperson, and Matt Ford led the crafts; and Karen Milam, Kristin Ford and Takele Habibu led the games.  Laura Turner was taking photographs; and our nurse Susan Kipp floated, helping where needed.  Then on Sunday afternoon after worship and lunch, we had more informal time with the children playing games, singing and dancing.  We had one more time with the children on Wednesday after school.  Around 4 to 5 o’clock the children gathered at the church and each designed and painted with fabric markers a t-shirt.  Many wanted to make their shirts like our professionally designed t-shirts by Matt Ford, so he did a modified design that they could copy if they chose so to do.  We had cake and bottled sodas and handed out to each child “bandana gifts” containing a small “The Message” New Testament, tablet, pencil, toothpaste, soap and candy.

Being with the children and experiencing their friendly and shy ways, their love and questions was really the highlight of our time in Kenya!

In addition to being with the children, we had an afternoon of school visits.  These visits were eye-openers to the challenges of education in Kenya, particularly at the primary level where some of the teachers have as many as 60 or 70 pupils in one class!  One secondary school principal told us that one third of the student population of the school were orphans!

Grateful for the progress of the Njoro chicken project –

All the OVC guardians families now received chickens to help support their families.  We were able to visit in several of the homes to see the progress, which varies greatly.  Some families have done quite well being able to support children students fees to secondary school with the money they earn from egg sales and in getting more chickens!.  Others had lost chickens to theft and predatory animals, then still others struggled bringing their chickens into their homes every evening to protect them from predators and thieves.  All of the families were grateful to have been provided with the chickens!

Grateful for the dedication of the Saturday teachers: Monica and John and the OVC Committee in Njoro —

The six persons on the committee were present to us and they are also persons who housed us.  Francis Muchemi is chair ; Jeremiah Nduyu is the coordinator  of the OVC program,  Philip Mathenge is the secretary, Esther Kinuthia is the church treasurer and helps keep the books; and Millicent Githaiga is the patron.   We had a very productive meeting of the two committees (Njoro and NYAPC) on the last day before we departed Njoro.  The draft copy of the Memorandum of Agreement which we discussed is attached.

Grateful for Alice Wainaina and the opportunity to connect with Presbyterian University faculty and students –

Our Njoro Team had the opportunity to meet with Alice Wainaina who is a social worker in Nairobi and was our consultant for the OVC project.  She did an on- the- ground evaluation of the OVC program and with us in person basically went over her report.  She was gracious in fielding our questions and is available for further contact.  Also we had the surprise opportunity to talk with Chancellor of the Presbyterian University and she was most welcome to the possibility of placing a student intern to work with the Njoro OVC program!

Grateful for the faith of the Njoro church members and the grace of God that has joined us in this fruitful relationship –

Sunday worship was central to our time in Njoro.  Not only the expression of singing and prayers in their homes but the two Sunday worship services were filled with the Spirit and ran for several hours!  Many groups sang, including the “NYAPC traveling choir.”    It was Brigade Sunday across the PCEA that Sunday and though Rev. Beth Braxton had been asked to prepare a sermon on 2 Timothy 2, particularly geared to their young people, there was a special request for her and the group to do their Saturday Bible School drama of the Good Samaritan for Sunday worship.  It is our common bond in Christ that joins us a partners in mission!

Grateful for the experience of grace and giving —

The overwhelming characteristic of the Kenyans we met is their giving nature.  They gave of themselves to make us feel at home.  They arranged all our transportation at a very reasonable price and also arranged our stay at the Egerton University housing, again for a very reasonable charge.  They fed us – and fed us –with delicious Kenyan food and lots of tea times!  We never lacked for nourishment!  On the last day of our visit, there were words of grace and gifts of handbags and T-shirts and tea for all! Then to our utter amazement as we were boarding the vans to head back to Nairobi, the pastor, Rev. George Kariuki brought from his house bouquet after bouquet of roses- red, white, yellow – a dozen and a half for each person! You can imagine the glorious visual and aromas all the way to Nairobi!!

Grateful for the members of New York Ave. Presbyterian Church who support this OVC program partnership and grateful to have been blessed with excellent  team members.

                                                                                                Gratefully submitted,

                                                                                                Rev. Dr. Beth Braxton

                                                                                                September, 2013