We heard this on our trip to Kenya and it is so true for the work of anyone who is called to serve the ones God places in front of us.

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!

A Kenya trip (or any experience in overseas ministry) should not be a journey back to the airport with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!              Adapted from Hunter S Thompson

Kenya is a beautiful country, filled with gracious, kind, soft-spoken people. Every where we went, we were greeted with warmth and generosity. As my friend, Andrew Schneidler, wrote in his journal, “ I am struck by the Kenyan’s gentle strength, quiet nobility, and inherent gratitude for life.”


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view on way 3                                                                       The beautiful countryside 

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                                                                       The beautiful children IMG_5498                    Andrew Schneidler, a team member with the children

Beneath the beauty of Kenya and its people  is life. Life in Kenya for most is difficult. It is more about survival everyday. Out from the business of the capital city are small towns and villages, where most live in sheds with tin roofs, often just one room, hoping for more than one meal a day. Yet in the midst of this, there is joy to life. The things that matter most to them, are things we take for granted at home – food, shelter, a decent education, health and family. I often paused and wondered what valuable lessons I could learn from this precious people.

The Heartbreak

When I think I have heard about the deepest issues and problems experienced by children around the world, we are introduced to and experience newer more heart-breaking one. This trip we have learned about the glue boys of Kisumu and Kitale, Kenya.   The glue boys – young boys, as young as 8 or 10 and above, are street children who have become prey to “glue” pushers. These boys, estranged from their families, wander the streets of that large city, looking through dumps to find things to sell and buy more addicting glue.  Never knowing from one day to the next where their next meal is coming from, if it comes at all is the rule of the street.  Surviving untold abuse at the hands of older boys is an every day experience.  It is a tragedy beyond words.

 

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This boy couldn’t have been any older than ten.  His hand rummaging through the soggy muck of the dump looking for something to sell or eat, his brain tragically being damaged on glue.

heart break 5These teenagers have lived on the street for a number of years and are viewed as a nuisance and waste.

 

heart break 3Jim McCorkle, another team member connects with an adolescent, apparently pretty stoned on glue.  

The Hope

There could be a continual stream of heart-breaking pictures. However, there is another continual stream that I want to share and it is the people – God-called out people, who are providing hope, healing, rehabilitation and restoration to a God that loves them.

Kisumu and Kitale, Kenya – Training Leaders, Caregivers, Social Workers, Pastors on Trauma Informed Care

Amidst the sadness and heartbreak we encountered, we also encountered hope through the committed, sacrificial response of those called out by God to serve these children.   Representing the ministry of Back2Back,  we had the opportunity to partner in training of trauma competent caregiving with the ministry team from OverlakeChristian Church in Seattle. We were in the in the presence of some amazing social workers, psychologists, caregivers, and leaders who serve with Agape Children’s Ministries in Kisumu, Kenya (http://agapechildren.org)  in a very difficult place.

During our ten day visit, we also had the privilege of sharing with social workers, caregivers and pastors in various venues.  I always walk away from these experiences deeply moved by what I see God doing through the lives of so many who have the same heartbeat as ours for wounded children – restoration – totally and completely.  That restoration  involves connection to God who loves them, to a community in which they can be a part and restoration to wholeness within themselves- to be young persons God created them to be.   I think what moves me the most is that that task of being intimately involved in restoration ministries in 3rd world countries is 100 times the challenge for them as it so us. Yet, these people show up every day – loving, caring, and committed.  I know it is not easy and perhaps the most difficult work that requires a daily emptying of one’s self for the care of another.

The Hope Givers

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Fun time learning nurture groups….these folks spend 3 full days and two evenings learned new skills to care for traumatized children. In the midst of a heavy subject, there was a lot of laughter along the way. 

 

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More nurture group fun.

 

IMG_5194A moment in training- so appreciated their engagement for 3 whole days and 2 evenings!!

 

group work 3Working on a small group exercise. They demonstrated such a desire to learning.  Charles in the picture has been working with street children many, many years and left a government job to come to this ministry. 

david and jamesDavid is known for asking questions that seek to know the heart of a person.  James is a pastor from Uganda. He has been trying for two years to have this training and God made a way. David grabbed an opportunity to listen to his heart. 

Our New Friends In Kisumu

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Our New Friends in Kitale

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Our Final Days at a Pastor’s Conference in Kitale – Calling out the Church to Minister to the Street Children of Their City

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As with all of our experiences, from our early days working with LAMB International in eastern Europe to Back2Back on their sites around the world, we are always changed.  Each trip deepens our heart’s desire to not arrive safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!  For the rest of our lives.

 

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