“What was your favorite part?”
That’s the question I’ve heard over and over since our team’s return from Orkarkar, Kenya. I’ve greatly appreciated the question and the interest people have taken in the mission trip, but I find it a very difficult one to answer. I know. I tried.
I actually sat down to list my favorite part of the trip and in the span of about 45 seconds, made a list of a dozen items. And just in case you’re also wondering about my favorite aspect of the trip (and even if you’re not), I thought I’d use this opportunity to let you know. I’ll spare you a list of 12, but I have chosen five highlights.
High on my list of favorites is the explosive growth of the school. To think it didn’t even exist five years ago and now there are 337 students attending is mind-blowing. To see the children opening textbooks and reading where illiteracy formerly ruled the community is exceptionally rewarding. And it’s happened fast! I had high hopes for Orkarkar when we first started to dream about a school there, but what has transpired is beyond imagination.
The church is definitely on my list of favorites as well, but not just because of its own accelerated growth. As encouraging as that has been, what I find even more inspiring is the unity among the people. The church has faced some challenges in its early years such as the lack of a pastor, then the loss of a pastor, and the influence from some on the outside of the community seeking to interrupt the progress. Yet through it all, the church has banded together for the sake of one another and the gospel. Now, Pastor Eric, his wife, Sylvia, and their children have moved to the community and have been warmly embraced as they advance the cause of the gospel in that place.
One huge advantage of returning to the same location each year is that relationships grow and develop. That is clearly happening. The Maasai people, who are typically known to be reserved and standoffish, are opening themselves up to us more and more each year. As a result, we have been invited into several homes, they have re-enacted a traditional wedding, demonstrated how their ancestors would carry out blood-letting ceremonies, and they’ve shown us their characteristic jumping dances — even inviting us to join in. The picture here shows the kids dressed in their Maasai garb, performing traditional dances while they sang traditional songs. And in the evenings, we would sit with our friends and hear their stories and talk of their culture and ours.
Also on my list of favorites is teaching the principles of the Bible to the men and women who would gather independently for our daily studies. Culture is changing among the Maasai, but there is still lots of room for growth when it comes to what a Christian marriage would look like, what it means to be a God-honoring father, and growing in areas in which we all need training like prayer, patience and love. These were all topics we addressed in our time together. I appreciated having other capable people along to share in the teaching.
Along our journey, there were many twists and turns to navigate. There were bad roads to drive on and often NO roads to drive on. But it is all part of the adventure of arriving in a village on the other side of the world to advance the gospel and do the work of the Lord. And when you finally have a moment to reflect on what you’re experiencing, you realize you have been the one whose life has been enriched. As for what to do if the jet lag gets the best of you? Just get up in the middle of the night and peek outside for some star gazing that will take your breath away.
Yes, I could go on and on with more of my favorites, but I’ll let this suffice for now. In fact, instead of filling you in on the rest of MY list, I’d encourage you to come along and make a list of your own!