Going right to the top of the Ladder!

Trip Start Jul 04, 2010
Trip End Jul 23, 2010

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Travel Blog, Tuesday, July 6, part 2

Today it's the PCEA Office. We are met there by our friend Julius, who accompanies us for most of the day.  Our meeting is with Deputy Secretary General, Rev. Francis Njoroge, who is our "contact person," and whose address we use for our entry forms and other documents.  Francis has a long history of involvement with the Partnership.  He has also been to the States and to Newton Presbytery on several occasions.

Francis invited us to tea in the PCEA Dining Room, where we are joined by Veronica Muchiri (no relationship to Julius, though the last names are the same, and they are both very involved with the Presbyterian Church in East Africa and her various ministries.  (Julius wears on his lapel the pin for the Men’s Fellowship of the PCEA, and Veronica heads the work of the Women’s Guild – but more about her and the work of the Guild in the next entry!)  We are also joined by the Moderator of the PCEA, David Gathanju (he says the name means “little switch,” – wonder if that is like the small birch switch which I got applied to the back of my legs when in serious trouble – like the time the bill from the PX came home after I had charged cigarettes to my officer father’s account, and distributed them to the older boys – early WW II story.  Needless to say, I gave up smoking – and also sitting down for a while!!  Ah, but that’s a personal story, and a rabbit running across the road – but hey, I’m writing the blog after all!)  And David says he does not really use the switch, but gentler persuasion to help keep his church and people in line!  Presbyterians:  “decently and in order!”

Our topics, over tea and “refreshments,” – biscuits, yams and arrowroot, and Samosas, consisted first of all of Francis’ remembrances, greetings to be sent back to old friends, inquiries, as of Charlie Ring, who was a part of the Partnership beginnings, and then such things as the difficulty currently and in recent past of the Kenyans invited to America in getting visas from the American Consulate.  Dr. Collette Cozean, Los Ranchos Presbytery (So. CA), whose Presbytery, says Francis, is the longest running partnership, partnered with Limuru (western edge of Nairobi, I think!) has a marvelous success rate in getting Kenyans accepted for visas.  In conversation with her, she credits establishing ongoing relationships and connections within the Consulate, “pre-screening,” of persons invited and applying – submitting their names and data in advance to the Consular connection to see whether they might be accepted or rejected, and solid preparation of the persons going to apply in Nairobi.  Collette will make appointments with the consular people every time she visits Kenya!  One of the pains for the Kenyans is that they must pay a non-refundable application fee of $40.00 (Ksh equivalent!), which has to be paid every time, even re-turn visits!  We talked about some of the problems which might account for the denial of the application:  lack of sufficient funds in bank account in Kenya, solid business situation, no prior problems or discrepancies with information on file with the consulate – the official can pull up a complete file and check all facts and information while the applicant is sitting there during the usually only 15 minute or so interview.  Sometimes family in the U.S. is also sufficient reason to deny the visa.  We wonder if the Kenyans share adequately their experience, success and failure, in order to help one another in the process??

In addition we talk about some of the changes in pastoral leadership in the Presbytery.  We are especially glad to hear that Michael Mundia, now at Bahati Martyrs (our PCCT partner congregation) is rated as a great unifier, organizer, and supporter of the partnership, very participatory in the life of the congregation!  We look forward to being with him and his congregation!

We have laptops to share, and Francis asks for the best one we have to be given to his office (along with one of the web cameras I have brought, and perhaps some help in setting up the Skype program for our enhanced communications.  We are excited about the prospects for expanding and strengthening our partnership!
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