BC Juniors Global

Join Barclay College students as they learn about Christian life, service, and leadership in the global classroom.


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Seeing the country!

The first thing that comes to mind on what to write about on this trip, was “travel”. On the way here to Kaimosi, Kenya, we spent about 30 hours altogether travel time. The first two airplanes, culture didn’t seem to change much. By the last flight from Switzerland to Nairobi, Kenya however, there was a realization between Shawn, Katy and I that we were all of a sudden the minority. English had gone from the first spoken language to the 3rd or 4th. And that is when the charismatic attempts to get people to understand you and you them, began. As we arrived in Kenya, and began our travel to Kaimosi and within the surrounding “towns” and cities, life we had seen in America drastically became but a memory! Looking around as we weave in and out of different “lanes”(there’s actually no lines) to pass slower vehicles, the sides of the roads were crammed with small hut like structures for selling produce and merchandise. Early in the morning and then coming back to where we stay in Kaimosi, we often see the same people in the same spot selling the same things. I asked myself to “imagine sitting in the hot sun all day only to get a fraction of what you have worked so hard to feed/provide for your family.”

The sight of a “mzungu” or a white person, brings big smiles and waves especially if we wave back. Kids often yell “Mzungu!!! How are you!?!?!?” In which Kevin then yells back, “I am fine!!” We are easily the center of attention a lot because again, we are the minority. Kenya is such a beautiful country, and the people are just as beautiful! They love Americans! As we travel also, they love to teach us their language which has been amazing and really interesting at the same time because there are 43 tribes who all speak different dialects. Fortunately for us Mzungu’s, Swahili is a commonly understood language here so knowing the basics like “hi, how are you?” of “What’s your name?” “My name is…” and “thank you”, has helped a lot. They find it very funny when we speak their language which is just one more way to make them smile. This experience in Kenya has been eye opening and has allowed me to eat up every bit of culture I can, which is so beautiful. Overall our travel time has been quite long, every mile we traveled has been well worth it<3

 

P.s. We were gifted another Chicken!!! We named this one “Maria” and three hours into our drive back to  our temporary home, it she pooped on Katy.

Katy and Maria

Katy and Maria Sleeping on the way back home:)


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Who is The Greatest?

Greetings from Kenya!

A lot has happened this past weekand a half, Lots of traveling, eating, seeing animals, learning and experiencing a different culture. One thing that we have done practically everyday (and sometimes a couple times a day) is visiting widow groups. The widow groups are always located on the outskirts of the community and they are always ostracized and overlooked by the community. It is believed that these women are now cursed by their recently deceased husband or other bad spirits. These women are very poor and don’t have jobs, they often are living with AIDs and are learning to live “positively” with the disease while raising children. Their children are considered orphans and often cannot go to school because there mother cannot afford to send them and/or they are needed to work to help support the family.

Friends Bring Hope and Rural Service Programme have a field officer stationed in different areas of western Kenya. They identify widow groups that are most in need and report back to the home office to give us assignments to visit, bring gifts and blessings, and the resources to build a home for a single widow they find who is most in need. When we go to help “mutope” or mud a house, we are greeted by the widow group singing and dancing around our vehicle. To have American “muzungus” come to your home is a great honor and one that will elevate their status in the community and will lift the curse off of them and their home.

Because these women have literally less in their home than I can pack in my suitcase, the greatest gift they can muster to bless us back is sharing a meal. To American standards it is a humble snack, but to them it is a feast, a thanksgiving dinner. It is important for us to accept their gift(s) because according to the culture you shouldn’t let anyone enter your home without treating them hospitably, also if you are given a gift the standard of reciprocity is strongly upheld. If we are lucky we might also be given a chicken (Paco Paulita will forever be remembered in our hearts) or have a tinsel garland placed around our necks. These may seem like small gifts but to these women, and to us, they are worth their weight in gold

Another important aspect of meeting the widow groups along side giving and receiving gifts and helping mud the new house is introductions. This entails us all (visitors and widows) to say our name title and where we are from. For me this looks like, “Merembe! (shalom) My name is Katy Vanderploeg I am a nongraduating senior at Barclay college and I study Elementary Education. I live in Haviland Kansas with my husband but my parents are missionaries in Belize Central America.” Listening to the widows share is very meaningful and a personal way that expresses that they are people worthy of an American “muzungo” coming to their home and listening to them. This not only honors them as humans and peers to us, whom we and God loves and sees, but also elevates them within their community as a human again worthy of friendship and respect.

Visiting with these widows and orphans and showing them love and respect and empowering them to be self reliant, strong, and to feel human again is really teaching me how much more God knows and loves me. How much He wants me to grow in faith and maturity. These widow have also taught me, when we go to visit them, how much more God celebrates us and welcomes us into presence and community with Him.

When I go to these widows and orphans in their place of suffering and destitute I see Christ. When I am welcomed into their communities and homes and lavished upon so generously I see Christ. When my spirit weeps for the unfair treatment of women and children Christ weeps with me. When I look into the wondering and amazed eyes of an orphan child I see the wondrous love and innocence of Christ. When I see the faithfulness of the old mamas to her grandchildren and children I see the faithfulness of Christ.

I pray that my eyes will continue to be open and willing to see God at work and in Kenya. I pray that my heart will be soft and moldable for god to continue His work in me. And I pray that God will ever bless the people and ministries here in Kenya and around the world.

Mungu Abarete Wote.

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Our dear chicken friend Paulita


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The Greatest of these is “Love” By: Shawn Richardson

“The only sound being heard is a loud pounding as the rain hits the ground producing puddles, and turning the clay like dirt into a muddy swamp. In the middle of the muddy mess is a house made from the substance that it is standing on, torn grass roof, half the house flooding with rain, and reflecting a hundred year old forsaken house that was lit on fire and was hit by a bulldozer. Walking closer and closer to the house you can start to hear a faint noise, and the noise gets harder and harder to bear. In one corner on the shivering mud floor of the house is a widowed mama hugging tightly her two crying kids, sheltering them from the rain, using her own body heat to warm her kids for the night.”

This was the first widowed mama’s circumstance when we built our first mud house for the start of the trip. Her living circumstances where so hard to bear that the mama and the kids were starting to have physiological problems. Building her new mud house (which wasn’t much), and seeing other widowed mamas helping her, seeing them all smile, shout and dance with joy, gave me a greater understanding of loving the forgotten and the neglected. I can’t even comprehend what that mother was going through, and the daily fight that these widowed mothers and orphaned children go through every day.

What does it mean to love and what does it look like? But what does it mean to love through the eyes of Jesus Christ? When you see a mother with her kids, fighting daily for another day, how do you show and reflect the love of Christ to them? This is when you start to see love as not as an emotion or feeling but it is an action as well. Going through these couple of weeks and seeing the daily life of these mamas and orphaned children has given me a new understanding of being the feet and hand of Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 13 it talks about love, and as a believer we are called to love. That everything else will start to cease or end but love will not. When walking in love with the eyes of Jesus, will reflect God to them through you, planting seeds in the person’s life, and letting God take control.

        13:“And now abide faith, hope and love, these three: but the greatest of these is love.”

 


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The Word as a Gift

Last Christmas, I received a gift that was almost against my entire Quaker testimony of simplicity: a $75 chronological study Bible in the New King James Version – complete with full color pages and golden edges. That Bible has helped me in my preaching more than any other book. I never realized how blessed I was to have something like that until today.

Our housekeeper and cook is a Sunday school teacher who has not had the easiest life, but her testimony and faith is extremely evident. We were at lunch today and I brought out a Bible that had dual languages: Swahili and English. She looked at that Bible and said that she  was going to save up for something like that.

The Bible itself was $16 American dollars, which is a lot for someone in her position. I suddenly felt compassion that I’m convinced was from God and I went up to my team member, Faith, and we both decided to split the cost of buying her a new Bible. Here’s the crazier part: I had exactly eight American dollars left in my wallet. I don’t travel with much cash because I am paranoid it will be stolen. As it turns out, that money in that wallet was specifically for our housekeeper who needed a Bible for her ministry. What was later revealed after she got her gift was that she felt God was calling her into some type of ministry and she was waiting for some type of sign that she was being pushed in this direction. We had no clue that she was going through this with God. It ultimately added to the crazy synchronicity that God loves to work with.

I disagree with the theology that says that God doesn’t care about our happiness. He does care. It doesn’t mean that our feelings have the final say in what He does with our lives. He knows more than we could ever know and I imagine it breaks His heart when He has to do something that will hurt us in any way. Ultimately though, it is to help us get closer to Him. Occasionally though, God will shower us with a big physical blessing that we didn’t expect. That Bible was our housekeeper’s blessing and I feel incredibly joyful to have been a part of that. The look of happiness on her face gave me a great glimpse into what it will be like when I cross over to the other side after I’ve passed on.

To echo Jesus’s own words: “Be of good cheer. Your sins are forgiven.”


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Slivers of Grace

I’m a few days into my trip and I’ve already encountered some pretty life altering events. 30 hours of travel was well worth the journey and it has given me a lot to think about.

Today, I blessed a mud hut that was built a year ago. The widows were happy and smiling at the sight of us. I even danced a little bit with them. Their smiles and prayers made me laugh and smile with them. I thought things were definitely looking up.

Later on, I went to the marketplace nearby and I witnessed firsthand a lot of poverty. There was a woman who kept following us around begging for money. She had no shoes and no apparent means of getting income elsewhere. After meeting that woman, I talked to one of our guides, Mama Karen, and she said what we were doing was just a drop in a bucket. The needs of the poor and the hungry were not being dealt with for the most part by the Kenyan Church. I ended up becoming a little angry at God. I wondered if what I was doing in Kenya was truly worth the effort.

The Lord then reminded me of two seemingly unconnected books that I love: The Road by Cormac McCarthy and the book of Ruth. The Road is about a father and his son wandering through a dystopian America after it has been wiped out by an undescribed disaster. They live day to day on little scraps of food and barely any energy. They are dying from malnutrition. The book asks questions about humanity, about God, and about whether or not God is guiding our steps or if it is just random bursts of luck when good things happen. The conclusion of the novel doesn’t offer answers to the questions it presents and it leaves the ending thoughts up to the reader.

The book of Ruth is interesting because it discusses the ordeals of the marginalized in the middle of chaos. Ruth takes place in the middle of the book of Judges with the warfare and the extreme situations. It discusses God’s work in the margins that often go unnoticed. I call these types of moments “slivers of grace.”

I have seen slivers of grace in Kenya, but that does not necessarily change the political or social climate to allow widows and the poor to find some way out of their situations. If you were to ask me if God is in Kenya, I would answer with a resounding, “Yes – but probably not in the way you think He is.” God is walking with the widows and orphans here and changing their lives. We often assume that national change and revival happens with a grand spectacle – but it mostly happens on smaller levels at first, with people. It is in those slivers of grace that we witness in the lives of the marginalized that truly pushes the winds of change.


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All the Chicks are Outta the Nest!

Today was our last prayer send-off for our Juniors Global teams. We are so excited for what God is doing in the lives of our students and leaders as well as the new friends made in the countries where they are visiting! It is very special to be back here as prayer support and to follow their adventures, trials, and experiences.

To the JG teams: We thank God for each one of you and are constantly thinking of you, praying for you and waiting to hear more about your days! Thanks for your blog posts, photos and videos! And may the LORD continue to give you just what you need each minute of the day!

Blessings,

Hannah (Proud JG Director :))


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Final Thoughts.

Tomorrow is our final day out here in the field. It seems so unreal that it is finally here.

These last couple of days have been filled with meeting some widows’ groups. As of Tuesday the 26th we officially built our last house. That itself is very unreal as well. This idea of building a house for some of these widows is such a concept of ministry that not a lot of people in Kenya understand. Being out here in the field and working and being the hands and feet of the Body is amazing.

Taking a step back to look and reflect on the people and the stories there is something much greater that we were apart of.

Pray for travel safety and mostly pray for the widows and pray for Kenya.

-Sean