The Mission Team Has Made It to Kenya!
After two days, and more free peanuts than you can shake a stick at, the 2010 OCMC Mission Team to Kenya arrived safely in Nairobi. We were greeted by Archbishop Makarios and treated to a wonderful meal before heading off to bed. We head off for Lodwar in northwestern Kenya at 5 am where the work of the team will finally begin. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.
OCMC Kenya Travel Blog Day 2
I can’t recall anything as vast as the arid landscape that surrounded us upon landing Lodwar in northwestern Kenya. Stepping off the plan we were greeted with a blast of dry heat. The only thing warmer were the smiles of Fr. Vladimir and Fr. Makarios who took time in the afternoon to teach us about Turkana culture and beliefs. This information proved invaluable to us as we prepared our teaching program. In the evening Fr. Martin Ritsi, our team leader, invited each of us to walk through the materials we developed and even led us in practicing some songs that we will perform for the people between lessons. With water for the coming days and food for the multitudes in hand we ended the day in prayer, looking forward to seminars that will begin tomorrow afternoon. Thank you for your continued prayers. To all of our friends, family, supporters, and prayer partners – we’ve arrived!
OCMC Kenya Travel Blog Day 3
Ma da ni Christoi! (Greetings in Christ) – these were the words that began a day for which the members the 2010 OCMC Mission Team to Kenya had spent months preparing. Finally, after days of travel we were able to share the message of love, hope, and fellowship that we had journeyed thousands of miles to deliver. In 99 degree heat, under a shade tree on the bank of a dry river we shared Christ with our Turkana brothers and sisters. Through the skillful translation of a Turkana interpreter (which on this day included Fr. Vladimir, Fr. Makarios, Fr. Zachariah, and the catechist Anthony) Fr. Martin offered words of thanks and greetings. This was followed by a presentation by Fr. Vladimir Aleandro about Christ’s love for us and the importance of prayer. The theme of prayer was carried on by Matushka Susan Aleandro in her time with the women. Stephanos Ritsi also shared with the women the importance of love in the Christian life by reflecting on his own personal journey of faith. Fr. Martin and Chris Zaferes spent time with the men discussing Christ and scripture while Alexandria Polychronopoulos and Nicholas Tzetsis taught the children by telling stories, coloring pictures of icons, and showing them how to make crosses out of popsicle sticks and thread. Following a common meal with the people Alex Goodwin offered a few brief words on the Creed. Song and dance was woven into the fabric of the day. We even felt the sprinkle of rain during our sessions. We thank God for this profound blessing and for the time we spent with our new friends. Tomorrow we will celebrate the Liturgy and continue our program with the same people. We know that you are with us in prayer. Please know that we, and the people of Turkana, are with you also.
Our Last Day with the Turkana of Lokichar
Today was our last day with the Turkana of Lokichar. We celebrated the Liturgy together and communed from a common cup. It was a powerful reminder to the team of the universality of the church. The words shared by team members today reflected the deep sense of family that has been growing as we’ve spent time with these gracious and beautiful people.
As we left our new found brothers and sisters, many of whom were hearing the Orthodox message for the first time, we sang and danced as one. The question of how we can continue to help the Church grow beyond Lodwar and Lokichar has come often as we’ve reflected on the mission. Perhaps answers to this question will be revealed as we travel into the interior of this remote region tomorrow. For two days we will camp with the people of Loupala. Again we will teach and be taught, and again we will celebrate the Liturgy. We look forward to posting our experiences upon our return. Until then “Ajok i noi” (thank you) for your continued prayers.