"meanwhile back at the University..."

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

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still at the Methodist Guest House, but moving on tomorrow!

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wednesday, July 07, 2010 Blog entry no. one

We headed out this morning for the Presbyterian University and the Presbyterian Kikuyu Hospital. Well, also the Dental Clinic there especially, since we had brought along something like 77 pounds of dental supplies from the Presbytery of the Northern Plains (Fargo, So. Dakota).  The Presbytery, with the initiative of Sharon Secor, a past Moderator of the Kenya Mission Network, had launched the project which resulted in the really state-of-the-art Dental Clinic and teaching facility attached to Kikuyu Hospital.  Dentist and member of the Clinic Board from Fargo, William Hunter (you'll see both his name and that of Sharon’s on the plaque in the clinic – check the attached pictures!) had rounded up supplies from several organizations and shipped them to us in New Jersey, when we agreed to bring them along with our checked luggage.  As it turned out, we could even have brought a second load, but we probably had more than enough for our little group of four to handle!

Job met us at the Guest House (again a good breakfast buffet, with coffee and hot milk, finger millet porridge, baked beans, sausage, omelet, toast and fruit).  Job was our guide for the day (and at the end of the day, he took one of the empty suitcases for the Secretary General to use for travel – the other we plan to bring back with any treasures we can’t get into our other luggage! – and we gave Job one of our brought-along laptops and a web cam, so we can keep in closer touch with him regarding the work of the Kasasule Health Clinic!).

So, first to the University, still building and growing, with a current student body of just under 600 students, about half and half resident and commuter, with a capacity for nearly 2,000.  The University campus encompasses a huge amount of land, with an organic training farm, where Kenyan farmers can learn scientific methods for their farming, including cash crops, which can move them from poverty to plenty and societal transformation.  The Kikuyu Hospital is also on the grounds, along with several other PCEA schools and the original church built on the site.

We met in the Administration Building, one of the original university structures, where we were hosted in the conference room, with the usual tea, yams, arrowroot and samosas to welcome us.  Our host for the day was the Rev. Patrick Rukenya, Director of Management Services (and, as we understood, a former Secretary General of the PCEA.   Professor Muiruri Njura (e-mail:  muirurinjuru@yahoo.com) was there briefly before heading off to teach a class in New Testament Greek Exegesis (passages in the gospel of Mark).  I will be wanting to round up some of my Greek texts and lexica to bring back and share – there is a tremendous shortage of materials for students!  Prof. Muiruri had recently had his laptop stolen, with his class lectures and notes, and had been forced to write all of his lectures out by hand!  I plan to hit up lots of colleagues and retired pastors (Presbyterians have to take exams in Greek, but may not always continue to have need of them??) for texts and materials for his classes.  Later we peeked in on his class room, and he was doing a word study on the words for love (eros, philos and agape - thought about using the Greek, but decided not to press the issue!!).

Then we were joined by the head of the Communications Department (njmusyki@yahoo.com) (hope I got the name right!  Will check on the university web site!) and the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Kihumbu Thairu, who gave us a great overview of the University’s work and future plans, as well as some of the many opportunities for service from our Presbyteries in the States!  First, Prof. Thairu talked about the crying need for trained Christian Educators and Teachers.  Citing several examples of where students at secondary schools in the area were not achieving test results high enough to qualify for further study, he faulted the teachers, perhaps for not bringing sufficient care to their teaching task.  In one instance, a teacher from the States, there for one year, saw all marks raised at least one level.  One of the missions of the Church is that kind of "stewardship" of the Creator:  God brought forth parents, who bring forth and train children in their first lessons in life and moral decision, then turn the children over to teachers to share in the task.  So one of the missions and ministries of the University is TEE (Theological Education by Extension) with coordinators trained and sustained by the university, brought together at the school for seminars and sharing, overseeing groups of students in the churches throughout Kenya – more than 20,000 currently involved!

Among the challenges in Kenyan society faced by the Church are materialism and Islam (we noticed and it was pointed out as well that the Muslim community has often built Mosques and Muslim Academies right next to the churches – as for example in the property just adjacent to the PCEA headquarters, with the Minaret bringing its five daily prayer calls over the loudspeaker into the neighborhood!  But Thairu also said that the church faces a militant “prosperity gospel,” which appears to be very similar to some of our television preachers (“come unto me and I will make you rich!”)  Despite the spread and popularity of such messages and their “religious casinos,” violence in the communities, the use of drugs and alcohol and gang extortion seem to be on the rise throughout the country.  Thairu listed as a success story the work of the Kahawa Farmers Church in their community.

Prof. Thairu stated that the University will be adding degree courses, so that offerings will include Health Sciences – Nursing, Pharmacy, and Medicine; Theology, Business, Education and Computer Science.  He suggests that there are “short-term” opportunities for persons from the States with specific skills to come and teach, anywhere from two weeks to months or years!  Areas he suggested were Information Technology, Engineering, and Building Trades, various fields of education (including English, which might be the “call,” for which Pat Nordman has been preparing and waiting.  He also suggested that professors might come over with their entire class for a semester or so and share the life of the University and Kenyan hospitality!  Now there’s an offer!

We toured the facility, especially the rapidly expanding library (huge contribution from First Pres, Atlanta, GA! – I have some pictures from their work of last year, which they shared at the Kenya Mission Network meeting in Cincinnati in October!)

We delivered a suitcase and a half of dental supplies to the Clinic next, and visited with the Kikuyu Hospital CEO (ouch, whose picture I have, but whose name I missed!  Will try to get it from the web site or somewhere else!)  The CEO shared his vision for a greatly expanded facility, on the same grounds, surrounding the present chapel in the middle of the campus!  Architectural drawings are on the wall, but, guess what?  Some funds are not there yet!  (btw, many lifted up our country in prayer for the economy, because when America is in pain, the whole world hurts – or almost!)

The Kikuyu Hospital and other mission hospitals are facing a new challenge, with the Government raising the salaries for nurses by 40%!  So there is a serious drain on the nursing staffs for the mission work – hard to keep 'em down on the farm, after they’ve seen a paycheck increase of that size!)

We got a great tour of the Dental Clinic, and pictures with the dentist recipient of the supplies we brought, Johnson Wambugu!  Check out the pictures!!  See ya later – and so far no alligators!
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Harold Johnson on

Many thanks to you, Don, for this extensive and thorough reporting of your safari. Is the Newton Presbytery office apprising the members and churches of the availability of your daily blog?

jane cooper on

Don, this blog is very interesting and I have enjoyed reading it and being there with you. Will you be in Kenya for 2 weeks?

Janice McCord Winchell on

Don & Ann,
Great writing, in the tradition of our "family" where, if you ask us what time it is, we will be happy to tell you how to make a watch! Seriously, the details are delicious and picture drawing - sharing the experience is a blessing to all!~
sister Janice!

phyllis on

We are finally home from our jaunt to the midwest. Your travel updates are excellent. I love the photos, too. You sound very busy. I hope my buddy Ann is managing alright. Stay well.

Erika - daughter on

Agree with Aunt Janice! Typical dad style of writing :) No detail too small... Glad you got there safe and sound. Hope mom is enjoying this incredible experience. Love to you both! - Erika, your favorite daughter...

Dirk Jordan, Berlin on

Hy Don&An
I read your blog on sunday morning, thanks for your information.
Meine Vorstellungen von Afrika sind wieder mal durcheinandergebracht worden. Aber auch Nairobi ist Afrika. Wir haben hier auch afrikanische Temperaturen, 38 Grad Celsius = 100 F!

Herzliche Grüße

Elizabeth S. on

Hi Don & Ann I'm just back from vacation and am catching up with your entries. Wonderful details about everything and everyone you've met. Thanks for sharing this with all of us, especially since we can't all go over there. Take care and come home safely....Godspeed...........

Thais (glenn) Fritzemeier on

Don and Ann,

What a blessing to read this God experience which you are participating in. What a joy to hear these incidents knowing God specializes in minute details.
Praying for you on this missionary journey.

Mzee fulani on

Your blog is very insulting to the Kenyan people. Im very disgusted.
Concerned Kenyan

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