There is so much about East Africa that I love. In some areas, I love the limitless wide-openness of it, like the tumbling grassland could stretch on forever and never end. I love rural villages, intrinsically connected to the good earth and free of all the unnecessary technological clutter we tend to tangle ourselves in. I love the song and dance, I love how big the sky seems. I love the cities, the dizzying ix of traditional and modern, the collision of the corporate and informal business networks, the historic struggle between foreign influence and maintaining a distinctively East African identity. I love the innovation and resilience of people, and the joy that I have encountered nowhere else in the world.
I spent a very quick week in the city of Nairobi – Kenya’s capitol. I spent the week with a ministry partner, Grace Covenant Church Community Based Organization. GCC-CBO is located at the intersection of some of Nairobi’s major slum areas. UTST is working with them to provide holistic ministry to individuals and families trapped in extreme poverty in these areas. Our first goal together is to set up a microlending system that will essentially enable families to build their income generating activities and small businesses, and access a sustainable source of income with which to provide their children with improved nutrition and education. This means taht families will be less vulnerable to challenges such as illiteracy, medical emergencies, and will be less likely to fall into traps of exploitation. Future areas of ministry through GCC-CBO include a rehabilitation ministry for street children and community home based care for those living with HIV/AIDS.
I spent a quick week in Nairobi doing nothing but building connections and friendships. We also spend time collaborating with leaders, casting vision and planning, but the vast majority of the time was spent going from one tiny home to the next, visiting, sharing and laughing with many of the people this ministry will serve. I can truthfully say that I was brought into a community during the short week I spent there – where my needs became theirs and their needs became mine. Where we made jokes and gave each other nick-names, and shared countless cups of chai tea.
I came back to the US because I want very badly to invite you into this community as well. (Yes, you. Even if you’re a friend I haven’t seen in years, or if I haven’t ever met you at all. I came back, yes, to raise support and find sponsors like mad, but also because each time I am in East Africa I find myself wrapped up in this incredible gift, and I want to bring you into it.
I made this video to introduce you to my community in Nairobi. The community I hope to be journeying with for a long time, and I hope you will choose to as well. If you really want to make it official, go to the “Get Involved” portion of our website and sign up for Community Connections or become a sponsor. http://www.underthesametree.com/#!get-involved/c1scw
Step into this incredible gift, my friends.
PS… Thanks to my epic friend, Sarah Julian (note that I never, ever use the word “epic,” so I really mean it here) for travelling with me, making sure I stayed nourished, diving deep into relationships, making sure important questions were asked, helping keep records, late night brainstorming, and keeping us laughing 24/7. You’re amazing.