News From the Field

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Michael is the Director of Pastoral Development for API USA - a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing hope and healing to the people of Kenya through the gospel and works of service. Michael has been married to his wife Kim for 40 years and Kim is the director at CareNet Puyallup.  They have four adult daughters: Eliana, Hilary, Paige...
Michael is the Director of Pastoral Development for API USA - a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing hope and healing to the people of Kenya through the gospel and works of service. Michael has been married to his wife Kim for 40 years and Kim is the director at CareNet Puyallup.  They have four adult daughters: Eliana, Hilary, Paige and Michel-Ann; and four great son-in-laws: Ben Sansburn, Tom Dykstra, Justin Hartford, and Robert Velasquez; and six beautiful granddaughters: Ava, Miren, Charis and Eden, Indira, Aurora; and one handsome grandson, Atticus.  Michael loves family, good books, great coffee, teaching and preaching. He is also a proud member of the 12th man and still holds out hope for the Mariners.
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Lodwar Pastor's Conference August 2019

Wednesday August 21, 2019

It is early morning here and I'm eating breakfast by myself.  Rob, Dan and I were supposed to travel back to Nairobi Monday night.  However the last flight out developed radio communication issues on its way to us from Eldoret and had to turn back.  So we spent the night in Lodwar and Rob and Dan caught the first flight out in the morning.  Unfortunately they arrived in Nairobi too late for their connection back to the U.S.  But the airline put them up in a nice hotel and rebooked their international flight so they fly back later tonight. I stayed up in Lodwar since I would have been flying back up here today to finish our work with the famine relief.

Saturday evening we all hiked up to the statue above the Lodwar High School for exercise and pictures.  One of the first years we were here, I made reference to the statue on the hill, which at that time consisted of just the metal framework in the shape of a man.  I said 'Statue', my interpreter said 'dead guy', and so that is how it has been known ever since.

One of the initiatives we've begun is a drive for used laptops to refurbish and give to our student pastors to help them in their studies with API School of Ministry.  Two of those were given out at this conference to Pastors Luvanga and Mogesi.

If you have an old laptop you'd like to donate, email me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call me at 253.678.2279.

Sunday the team went to the shores of Lake Turkana for a bit of R & R at a place called Eliye Springs, where a freshwater spring flows into the salty waters of the lake. 

The water was refreshingly cool, but we couldn't convince Tim and Rob to join us.  Maybe they heard that Lake Turkana has the highest concentration of crocs of any lake in Africa. We didn't see any. Personally I think that story is spread to keep out the riffraff.  I was further assured by our driver who visits regularly that the crocs don't come this far south.  They tend to stay up north where most of the fish are.

We are standing at the spring where it pools before going into the lake.

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Lodwar Pastor's Conference August 2019

Monday August 19, 2019

The internet has been a little sketchy and I haven't been able to post anything but today I've got a window of opportunity so I thought I'd catch you up.  We finished the conference on Friday by handing out the book resources we brought with us. Many thanks to the Gospel Coalition and P & R Publishing for the free resources they provided us to hand out. 

We closed the conference out with the graduation of three API School of Ministry students who earned their Bth degrees.

From left to right - Pastor Shadrack Mwita, Director of Education Kenya, Moses Loburuk, graduate, myself, Daniel Akoikoi, graduate, Pastor George Lokwawi, Commencement speaker, Pastor Dan Mason, and Michael Tioko, graduate.  Many pastors came up to me after we finished this year to express their appreciation for the ministry of API and the conferences we host in Lodwar, which for many constitute the only Bible training they receive.  One of them, Pastor James Louren took me aside and told me, "I want to thank API so much for the teachings this year. They are so deep and so helpful. I have learned more this year than before and understood so much better and they have transformed my preaching. These will cause my people to grow well."  We thank all of you who give financially for this ministry and want you to know that your partnership in this ministry is helping to transform the pastors and churches in Kenya.

Saturday morning we distributed maize, beans, salt and cooking oil to the poor a place in Lodwar called Soweto, named after the large slum area in South Africa. One of the reasons we targeted this area in Lodwar was because these people are always overlooked when NGO's or the government distributes food. The other reason is that one of the pastors who has been coming to our conferences, Joshua Lemuya, has a church right in the middle of this slum, and had been telling us about those who were starving right on the edge of town where there is a lot of food. 

So Saturday morning we loaded up with 2 tons of maize, one ton of beans, 1000 lbs of salt and 180 litres of cooking oil, and drove to the church compound where we found 300+ people waiting patiently for food.  For some this would be the first significant amount of food they have had in while.  One of the ladies from the church helping to hand out the food with us, told us that some of these people hadn't eaten anything for two days.

Pastor Lemuya and his team organized the line, starting with the handicapped, the widows and the elderly.

Again, we want to thank those of you who gave so generously to feed these people. 

 

 

 

 

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Lodwar Pastor's Conference August 2019

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Tomorrow is the last day of our conference here in Lodwar and it has been a very rich time for both attendees and presenters.  Around 100 pastors and church leaders have gathered from all over Turkana to attend this year, in spite of the fact that this week marks the most important cultural festival for Turkanans known as Tubong'u Lore.  Loosely translated it means 'the coming home', where Turkanans living in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and other parts of Kenya, come home to Turkana to celebrate their culture. It is a three day festival attracting tens of thousands of visitors with a program that offers a blend of traditions and modernity. Traditional dance, performances of well known Kenyan singers, a trade fair, a market and a huge choma zone (barbecued goat) are included. We took in the opening day of the festival for a short time during one of our breaks to see the sights.

One of the unforseen impacts of holding our conference during this week was the arrival of some prominent political figures in Kenya. One of those was the former Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga who commandeered both Rob Hostager's and my rooms at St Teresa's.  Rob and I were booted out of our modestly comfortable bungalows to more humble appointments further down the row. 

This year we have added breakout sessions to our main plenary sessions with two different tracks.  One track is Biblical Counseling taught by Jay McBee, and the other is a pastor's topical track where we are teaching things like Teaching and Preaching the Word, Biblical Theology, Understanding Jesus' Use of Parables, and many other topics intended to equip these pastors.

Mostly behind the scenes, Rob and Pastor Reuben Luvanga are hard at working making all the media stuff work smoothly and they rarely get noticed, until something goes wrong.  But we couldn't do what we do without the dedication and expertise of these guys.

I am always very interested in the impact our conferences have on the local pastors and so I try to find time to talk to most of them about their families, their churches and life in general.  One of the pastors who has been coming since we began holding this conference back in 2013, Pastor Peter Ewoton, comes from Lokitaung, a town in northern Turkana. 

As we talked one day this week, he started by saying, "In Lokitaung, we are really in the fire. Remember the conference titled, 'Standing in the Fire' where we studied 1st and 2nd Peter?  Well, I started teaching the church what I learned in that conference and now we are feeling the fire!  One of the ladies in my church was murdered, another one died from an ectopic pregnacy, and I started wondering if I should stop preaching this.  But it was so good what you taught us, that suffering is in the hands of God for His purposes and He is with us through the fire.  Thank you for coming again and again to teach us!" 

Turkana is a hard place, just like these rocks that litter the landscape. But these pastors are still joyful in the midst of trials and suffering, knowing that their loving Father has them in His gracious grip and will not let them go. Keep these pastors in your prayers as they serve in some very hard places.

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Lodwar Pastor's Conference August 2019

Monday, August 12, 2019

It's August again so we must be in Lodwar. This conference marks the sixth consecutive year we have held the pastor training conference in Lodwar Town during the month of August. 

I arrived in Nairobi last Thursday after a delay-lengthened trip from Portland to Seattle to Los Angeles to Amsterdam to Nairobi. Rob and Dan arrived Saturday morning, and Tim and Jay flew in late Saturday night.  Sunday morning we took the early flight to Lodwar and arrived around 9:30.  Before we left Nairobi, we took a moment to get a photo of the Fab Five.  

One thing you must never do is fall asleep within range of the team photographer.

After a nice nap we arrived without incident to a sunny, 95 degree welcome to Lodwar, and after getting settled at St Teresa's Pastoral Centre, we headed out to the church at Lokaparaparai.  This spring we helped the church here to erect their first building.  However, the contractor they hired was less than competent and the work, in the words of my friend overseeing the project, was "not so excellent".  In short we had to tear off the roof and some of the iron sheets on the sides and rebuild a large part of the church.  That work was completed the day before we arrived and so we went out to see the result.

Above from the left is George Lokwawi who oversaw the construction, Martin Sasy, the pastor who planted the church, myself and Pastor Dan Mason. The rocks around the exterior will form the foundation around the whole building to ensure that water runoff from the hillside doesn't wash it away.  The church has also started digging the hole for the pit latrine.

Sunday evening we had our traditional dinner with the executive team for the Lodwar Pastors Fellowship before heading into the conference week.  The pastor standing and speaking is the chairman of the Lodwar Pastors Fellowship, Joshua Lemuya.

Please continue to pray for us as we head into this week.  Our theme this year is "Unveiling Christ in the Old Testament" and we are excited to dig into the word of God together with our Kenyan brothers and sisters.

 

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Spring 2019 Turkana Famine Relief

It is Monday morning here in Kenya and I arrived in Eldoret last night.  Sunday morning I got to preach at the Free Pentecostal church in Lodwar pastored by Boniface Lokuruka.  Sadly, I forgot to take any pictures.  The day before, Saturday, George and Boniface and I traveled to three more villages, one of which was a little hard to find. It's not like there are street signs or anything, and everyone you ask simply says, "It's just over there", pointing vaguely in some direction. 

We did finally arrive at the right place, Kangole, where George and I had the seats of honor on the only bench under the tree, a fairly narrow rail that was less comfortable than simply sitting in the sand. But we were the honored guests and all.

As always, the Candy Man was one of the favorites. That is Roni our driver, who handed out lollipops, frisbees and soccer balls.

Our next stop was Lorugum where we had previously helped build a church.

At each place we stopped, Pastor Lokuruka would teach the people some English.  In case you can't quite catch the words because of the accent, they were saying, "Thank you.  Say hi to our brothers and sisters there in America. God bless them!"

Thanks again to all of you who contributed to this project.  We were able to deliver over 12 tons of maize, and salt, and nearly 1000 liters of cooking oil to these rural villages in Turkana.  

 

 

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Spring 2019 Turkana Famine Relief

I arrived in Lodwar Wednesday evening this week to 99 degree sunshine and throat-clogging dust, but it was still good to be back with my Turkana friends.  Pastor Shadrack arrived the same day with the load of maize from Kuria that we are distributing to villages in the bush.  Before heading out each morning, we stock up on beans, cooking oil and salt to deliver with the maize.

 

Thursday and Friday we visited 9 villages to share what many of you so generously donated, including soccer balls and candy.

There aren't any signs to point the way to the different villages so sometimes someone met us to show the way.  In this case it was a young man on a motorbike you can see leading us to the next village.

 

 Everywhere we went, we were greeting by song and dance.

In every church we visited out in the bush, I was struck by the increased number of men that were present.  When I had visited before, there were few men in the church but now they are coming. The churches still have many more women and children than men, but Turkana men, traditionally resistant to the gospel, are responding in greater numbers.

 

Travel in the bush is not without its difficulties. We have to cross many dry riverbeds that are just a sea of sand and getting stuck is always an issue. But it's a way of life traveling out here. Every vehicle carries at least one shovel.

I cannot say enough good things about my brothers who work so hard alongside me in this ministry - Boniface Lokuruka, Shadrack Murimi, and George Lokwawi.  I also cannot understand how they can sleep in the car between villages when the road is as rough as it is.

Today we are out again so I will post some more tonight Lord willing.  Keep praying for us and the people of Turkana.  We are seeing the good fruit of the gospel as we travel.

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Spring 2019 Megwara Pastors Conference

Megwara Conference Wrap-up

We wrapped up the conference at Megwara last Saturday after four very full days of teaching, fellowship, making new friends, renewing old friendships and enjoying the depths of God's word together with our Kenyan brothers and sisters.  I just wanted to share some of those moments with you in some photos.

First of all, I want to thank the whole API USA team that made this conference such a success. Everyone pitched in to go above and beyond in ministry to our Maasai brothers and sisters and I thank God for each one.  Every conversation I had with the attendees always came around to telling me what a blessing this team was to them.

Our Kenyan team of Pastor Shadrack, Pastor Luvanga, Frank and John were simply outstanding. The media crew of Kamau Njenga and Reuben Luvanga worked incredibly hard to record not only the plenary sessions, but also all the breakout and Q & A sessions.  Frank Maina was the mastermind trip organizer who kept us all on the right track, and our conference organizer, Pastor Shadrack, did a brilliant job of keeping things running smoothly throughout the conference.

         

Pics from the conference

 

          

          

      

Goat jams are a way of life on the roads.

  

 

 

Pastor Daniel on the left was our host and the lady in the picture is Esther, a fiery little preacher who loves God and His church.

Rich and Lynn flew to Nairobi on Saturday to visit Dave and Julie Pederson at Rafiki Foundation and preach on Sunday at Trinity Baptist Church, and then fly home on Monday.  The rest of us spent Sunday in Megwara and Oloolaimutia, Dave Thompson preaching at a church in Oloolaimutia, while I was preaching in Megwara. 

On Monday, the team spent the day in Maasai Mara game park where we witnessed the incredible display of God's majesty in creation.

Tuesday morning we drove back to Nairobi where all of the team except myself left for home, the Thompsons to Qatar, and the rest back to the U.S.  Thank you all for your constant prayers for us and please continue to pray as I head up to Lodwar in Turkana to distribute famine relief and the gospel to the churches there.

 

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Spring 2019 Megwara Pastors Conference

Childrens Ministry

by Dave Thompson

Coming to serve with Agape Project International (API)-Kenya for the first time, my expectations hinged only on the stories I'd heard from the Pulpit at Summit Christian Fellowship, videos on the API website, and dinner at Mike and Kim's home before we moved from Washington last summer. Like the stories from others who'd ventured into military basic training, marriage, and parenthood before me, there were many moments of epiphany as I recalled their Mike and Kim's stories. “Ohhhh … THIS is what they were talking about!”

My wife, Julia, and I were trusted to run the first children's ministry during the conference since it's inception 11-years ago. I was told from Ben, who was here on his second trip that “last year, the kids entertained themselves outside the church with screwing caps onto and off of waterbottles before you guys came”. Whatever we had planned would be an improvement, but we also take James 3:1 seriously... the role of teacher (even over little people) is a high honor and calling. We had no idea what age the children would be nor how many would come.

                  

As with previous youth ministries in which we'd participated, Julia and I made a plan to keep the kids engaged throughout the day: a 20-minute introduction/craft/or review of a memory verse, followed by a 20-minute lesson on the old testiment, then a 20-minute game related to the lesson, leading into a 20-minute lesson on the new testiment connection to Jesus (to align with the overall conference theme), and finally a 20-minute game related to the second lesson. After that, we would serve Chai Tea and cookies to the kids and send them home to care for their livestock. Day one, minute 21 was the first deviation from the plan.

For first day's lessons, we planned to cover the creation story. During the intro time, the goal was to gave kids “create” a nametage by sawing a thin slice of 3-inch diameter tree branch, decorate it with their name, then use it on subsequent days to track memory verses successfully repeated over the next three days. It was also an easy way to help the Thompsons learn names quickly. Brilliant! Well, in theory.

Upon arrival, we met the 88 children who'd be with us for the day, ranging from barely walking to 12 years old. I grabbed the biggest 6, gave them nametags first, then tried to set up an assembly line. About an hour later, we had almost 20 done. I decided it was prudent to call it a day on nametag workshop, then went to find my wife and the other 82 children. Where did they go, anyway?

Julia was awesome. She had them listening to stories from the bible about half a mile away and behaving well. We were amazed at the older kids always tending to their younger siblings or neighbors. I use the term “older” loosely. Some 4-year olds were carrying and comforting yearlings. I high-fived Julia and got back to the “core curriculum”.

After playing red rover to help with name recognition, I let the majority without name tags know I'd make more during the coming days (a promise I didn't keep... day two our crowd grew to at least 175 kids! My arm could only handle making 2 slices at a time in about a 5 minute span with a 5 minute break). Then, we covered Genesis 1 and 2 in story form (acting out as much as possible to help span the language barrier through an interpreter—something we did during every lesson from there on out). We handed out lollipops to each child, and recognized some were coming back a second time and hiding the first in a pocket or up their sleeve. We tried to address it then, but revisited the next day in our lesson on the 10 commandments and the breaking of God's laws being the definition of sin. Our second game was relay races of various kinds that related to relate to Jesus being the beginning and end, the Alpha and Omega. We tied the same creation story back into John 1 and built on that foundation in the following days: Jesus the fullfilling the prophesies of the Passover Meal during the Last Supper, Jesus the Sacrified Son on Mount Moriah (or as Abraham would call the place that later took the name of Calvery, “The Lord Will Do It Here”, and finally the Parables of Jesus.

As a great finally to our time with the children, we got to recommend some “Who/What/Where/How/Whys” of Children's ministry to the men and women's break out sessions. Having some elderly men act out the parable of the Good Shepherd the same as small children had done earlier that day, then demo the game “What Time is it Mr Wolf” will stay with me for a long time! More than the fun that we had with the adults in recapping the week, my hope is that they resolved that day to carry the torch back to their own congregations of having a children's ministry that fills up their senses with the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches that are in the greatest story every written. (1 John 1)

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Spring 2019 Megwara Pastors Conference

Here is a post from Julianne Thompson.  (Dave and Julianne came with their children to lead a children's ministry during the pastor's conference. And as you can imagine, parenting while on mission can present special challenges)

Still Parenting on Mission

Today we went to an orphan elephant refuge. At the end of the presentation, my daughter, Cecelia, was looking at the items in the gift shop with Dave while I took Mary to the restroom. When we met up, I saw Cece with dangling elephant earrings. I was with the rest of our mission team and didn't want to go into detail, but I did say “Cece, it's not ok for you to have dangling earrings”. She pressed and I was tempted to say “For special occassions,” but then walked that back. She needed to remove them and put her ruby studs back in.

When we got back into the van, it was clear she was angry. She was sitting behind me, but I could feel it. She didn't want to speak to me.

As I spoke with Dave and John about the possibility of rain tonight, I knew I didn't want to ignore her feelings. Cece's too important to me and I never want to allow a chasm to form between us.

I decided to offer her 2x what she paid for the earrings. The currency here is Kenyan Schillings but I had that much in Qatari Riyals. She didn't want to accept the deal. I explained that while she was free to turn my offer down, I would still hold onto the earrings until she was older. I said 14, but then 16 was what I preferred.

She gave in, accepted the riyal and surrendered the earrings.

We had arrived at the mall for lunch and she was feeling a little better. She spoke up a little and said, “Mom, I can't spend the riyal here and I spent the last of my schillings on the earrings.” I told her that I would see to it that she had schillings and asked John about an ATM. I let Dave know that I was planning to pull some money out for snacks at camp and to keep a promise to Cece.

I think she was moved by this. She apologized for her anger and confessed to having known that dangling earrings were not allowed. I was so pleased by her confession! I felt close to her and I poured out affectionate words adoring her. I think this was the best possible outcome.

Lord, I am thankful that your kindness leads to repentence. (Romans 2:46)

I didn't care about the riyal or the schillings. Those only amount to a few dollars. What I wanted was for us to be close, for her heart to be soft.

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Spring 2019 Megwara Pastors Conference

 

It is Friday night here in the Mara and the team is relaxing in the dining hall at Manyatta just enjoying being together and winding down after a busy day.  Above you see the poster that was plastered all over this region and down into Tanzania.  It must have been effective because we have almost 380 people attending the conference.  

This afternoon we tried to gather as many of the attendees as possible for a group shot.  It is always difficult to get everyone together as any of them have animals and farms to attend to during the day. I thought I would just post some pictures from our week so far.

 

Here the ladies are dancing a traditional Maasai dance.  There were too many to dance in the building so the line went outside and back in again.

 

We want to thank all of you who lifted Ben up in prayer earlier this week as he arrived in Kenya very sick.  But as you can see, he has recovered remarkably!

Ben also wrote an update:

This past week I traveled to the Christian Leadership Council for a week of training in Dallas then on to Kenya for with API to train pastors and speak on the Sanctity of Human Life and Sexual Integrity. On the way I got sick with an incredible chest cold and fever. The first two days I spent in bed and thanks to the crack nurses on the trip (Kim, Lauri, Lynn and Juliann) and Doctors Mike, Rich, Reuben, Frank, John, and Shadrack I will be able to present beginning Friday and finishing Saturday. Pastor Rich didn’t want me to get use to breakfast in bed. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes.

The first two days of the conference, Pastor Rich spoke upon “Jesus throughout the old testament and “Patterned, Promised and Present of Jesus in the Old Testament.

Pastor Michael spoke on the beginning of Moses and day two “The Lord among us”. Each of the sessions were well received.

What a great blessing to have 350 adults in the adult meetings today and 187 children attend the children’s ministry directed by David and Juliann Thompson.

Tonight a great storm hit with lighting, thunder and a ton of rain. The kids loved it!

Blessings to you all!

In His Service,

Ben

Pastor Shadrack on the left has been in charge of all the conference logistics and has done a great job.  He is with Pastor Daniel who is the host of this conference.

We have one more full day of ministry left at the conference and the response has been tremendous and encouraging.  So many of those attending have taken the time to tell the team members personally how the teaching has revolutionized their thinking about the Old Testament and Jesus.  The women have been flocking to the ladies breakout sessions with Laurie, Lynn and Kim; and the men have really enjoyed the breakout sessions with Ben and Rich and myself. Many of them were particularly impressed with Pastor Rich's sessions on the Doctrines of Grace and Hermaneutics. Pastor Reuben Luvanga and John Kamau have probably worked the hardest of us all with the media, recording all the plenary and breakout sessions.

Thanks again for all your prayers for us.  Pray that we finish strong.

 

 

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Spring 2019 Megwara Pastors Conference

It is Thursday evening and we've just experienced an incredible thunder, lightening and rainstorm.  There was a virtual river running through our dining hall at Manyatta Camp and we all huddled under the one part of the structure that seemed to be rainproof. It was an awesome display of God's power and we enjoyed watching the show.

Every morning we begin with a great breakfast followed by prayer and the word at our outdoor dining hall. We can see animals moving in the park across the river as we eat.

We have had a great two days of teaching, fellowship and making new friends and catching up with old ones.  There are about 350 adults attending this conference and 187 children coming out to our children's ministry camp run by Dave and Julianne Thompson. 

The kids are enjoying a wonderful program filled with games, bible teaching, crafts, songs, snacks and making new friends.

Meanwhile the adults are taking in bible teaching from Lynn Hamlin, Laurie Akehurst, Kim Sandberg, Rich Hamlin and myself.

  

I know many of you got our urgent prayer request for Ben Edwards who arrived in Kenya very sick.  But through the prayers of many and the mercy of God, Ben is on the mend and wanted everyone to know. Tomorrow we'll post a blog from him. Thanks again for keeping us in your prayers.  More to follow tomorrow.

 

 

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Spring 2019 Megwara Pastors Conference

       

                    In Swahili we say, "Amefufuka!  Amefufuka Kweli!

It is early Monday morning here in Nairobi, the day after Easter, and Kim and I are still jet-lagging a bit.  So I thought I'd catch you all up on what's been happening with us.

Kim and Laurie and I took off last Thursday from SeaTac, flew to Paris, and then to Nairobi.

We arrived in Nairobi around 8:30 Friday night and our API associates, Frank and John, picked us up at the airport.

              

Saturday morning, we met the Thompsons, who had arrived Friday afternoon, for breakfast at the ArtCaffe.  David and Julianne, who will be leading the Children's Ministry track at the conference, brought their four children along, Simon, Cecelia, Emilia, and Marilyn.  Because David is in the military, they had to stay at a different hotel than us so we didn't meet until that next morning. 

Saturday was spent getting conference supplies, buying bibles, picking up books for the conference, and a visit to the Giraffe Center.

Sunday morning we joined the congregation at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Nairobi for worship in the morning; and in the afternoon we paid a visit to our favorite basket hawker.

   Marilyn and Emilia 

                                                                     Cecelia

  

I think Kim was giving some bargaining advice to Simon. And Laurie was thoroughly pleased with her purchases, as were we.  

     

Today we will visit the baby elephant orphanage in Nairobi in the morning and spend the afternoon and evening repacking our gear and supplies for our travel tomorrow to Manyatta Camp in Oloolaimutia where we will stay for the duration of the conference.  Thank you for you continued prayers for us and for the conference.  Pray also for the rest of our team who will be arriving from the U.S. early Tuesday morning.

 

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Summer 2018 Lodwar Pastors Conference

It is Tuesday evening in Kilgoris and we've got an impressive thunder and lightening storm going on outside.  I just realized that I forgot to tell you all about visiting the refugee camp at Kakuma last week so I'll catch you up.

Last Thursday, while Roger, Dan and Rob were still here, we took a trip to the U.N. Refugee Camp in Kakuma - a 120 km trip that took us three and a half hours each way because of the wretched roads. But we had a good time both ways with Pastor Lokwawi, Pastor Lokuruka, Pastor Stephen Lobolia and James, Lokwawi's son, taking time on the way to have a photo shoot at one of the ubiquitous termite mounds that dot the Turkana landscape.

We were invited to the camp by Pastor Ramsey who ministers in the camps and attended the conference in Lodwar. Pastor Ramsey is a South Sudanese who pastors a church in the camp and ministers to the South Sudanese there.  We were hoping to visit several churches there but we were delayed by the camp administration for a couple of hours when we arrived because the required papers weren't in order.  However we spent a couple hours with pastors in the camp gathered together by Pastor Ramsey.

We shared the mission and vision of API with them and heard about their work in the camps. There are around 200,000 refugees from all over Africa in these camps - Ethiopia, Somalia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Burundi, Congo, and many more, and the gospel is going out to them all.

We were hosted by Pastor Mubarak (pictured above) in his church there. And Pastor Lokuruka brought some bibles for his people. 

And while we were inside, Roger of course was outside with the kids.

Dan also made new friends.

Please pray for the pastors and churches who are laboring in the gospel fields in Kakuma in very tough conditions. And pray that we would be able to encourage and support these pastors with biblical training and resources.  Pastor Mubarak and Pastor Ramsey assured us that we would see many of these pastors at our next training.

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Summer 2018 Lodwar Pastors Conference

It is Sunday morning in Nairobi and Stan and I are headed to worship with Trinity Baptist Church in Nairobi and then travel down to Kilgoris to see our Maasai brothers.  Rob, Dan and Roger left Friday night for the U.S. and Stan and I are on our own.  But before we left Lodwar Friday, Dan, Roger, Rob and I took some time to look around Lodwar Town and do some shopping.

Dan and I both found some hats and we'd like you all to judge who got the better deal.

Dan opted for the more traditional look while I found something a little more exotic.

This is the traditional hat worn by Turkana men and the feather is from an ostrich.

The boys enjoyed their last cold drink of Tangawezi (a powerful ginger soda pop) in our favorite cafe, the Kilimanjaro.  Which has the best kuku and chips around.

Saturday, Stan, Frank and I visited our friends, the Petersons, out at Rafiki Foundation where they work.

"Rafiki" means "friend" in Swahili. This captures the vision and purpose of the Foundation—to befriend orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27). To accomplish this mission, Rafiki established Training Villages within ten African countries, one of which is in Nairobi. These Villages provide orphan care, Bible study, classical Christian education, and teacher training through Rafiki’s five programs: ChildCare, Education, Rafiki Bible Study, Advanced Learning, and Widows.

Thanks again  for your prayers for us.   Stan and I will return to  Nairobi Wednesday for his flight home and I'll be leaving Kenya for the U.S. on Friday. 

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Summer 2018 Lodwar Pastors Conference

Wednesday we traveled to the church in Nakorinyang that was planted about two years ago by my good friend Patrick Nacho who has a church in Lodwar.  (Every time I say his name I get visions of Mexican food!) It is a great location except that it happens to be right in the middle of a river bed, so when it rains, no church meeting.  Pastor George here is preaching the gospel using the audio bible and flip charts we brought to give to the church.

We also brought food as we have to all the churches we visit and it was joyfully unloaded.

We left Nakorinyang and set off for Eliya Springs, a fresh water spring on the banks of Lake Turkana. We spent the afternoon swimming in the lake and taking selfies.

However, some of us slept, although Dan insisted he was praying.

The spring itself is fairly warm water, but very clear.

This trip was a treat especially for the Kenyans who traveled with us as they rarely get the opportunity to enjoy this kind of beach adventure. Everyone swam in the lake except of course Rob, who was busy taking pictures.

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Summer 2018 Lodwar Pastors Conference

It is early Friday morning and we are at the end of a great week.  Tuesday of this week we loaded up and headed out to Namagirat where the new church was built. Apparently Roger has this craving for ice cream.

We found the church building completed and full of people waiting for our arrival.

The celebration was extremely joyful as we dedicated this house to the Lord.

As always, Roger was in his element with the children.

He and Dan took the kids out to show them how to play frizbee.  None of them had ever seen one of these but they quickly mastered the technique.

The church was so grateful for the gift of a new building they reciprocated with goat for us. We named him 'Dinner'.

Namagirat was about an hour and a half southwest of Lodwar, and when we left there, we traveled back to Lodwar, ate lunch and then set off for Nakepokan, about two hours north east of Lodwar. To get there requires 13 river crossings, only these rivers only run when it rains. But crossing the soft sand is trouble enough.  Palm branches give pretty good traction here.

Two years ago, the Brad Pederson Memorial Building Fund helped Nakepokan realize their hopes for a church building and we found a vibrant growing congregation there.

As usual, the visiting speakers went on so long that sleep overcame some of the congregation.

Of course, Roger had his usual fan club surrounding him.

Roger is just a kid magnet.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers for us and the people of Turkana. 

 

 

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Summer 2018 Lodwar Pastors Conference

It is Tuesday evening and I've been trying for two nights to get this blog done as the network here is very spotty and capricious.  Sunday Dan, Roger and I preached at different churches in Lodwar.  I was with Pastor George Lokwawi's church, Dan was at Pastor Dan Njuguna's church and Roger was at Pastor James Louren's church. Rob went with Dan to take pics, and George was taking pics while I was with him, but I don't have any of Roger.  However, the report was that all the churches were blessed by the team's preaching.

Monday we loaded up with food and took off for two villages, Nataaba and Loregum. 

Nataaba was where we helped the church build the first building here in Turkana, and Loregum is the church we helped build last year.  

Both churches were incredibly blessed by our visit and by the food that many of you contributed to help feed the hungry.

It was a long day made just a little longer by getting stuck in some very soft sand. We assumed our Land Cruiser had four wheel drive but circumstances proved that wrong. 

While Dan pushed, I directed operations.

One of the reasons we got stuck (other than the fact that the four-wheel drive did not work) was that there was a very big truck stuck in the main track and we tried to go around him.  You can see the back end of the offending truck in the picture above.

We made it back to Lodwar before dark and were thankful to jump in the showers. 

 

 

 

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Reflections on the 2018 Lodwar Pastors Conference

 

The video can be viewed directly on Vimeo here:  https://vimeo.com/285616582

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Summer 2018 Lodwar Pastors Conference

It is Saturday evening here at St Teresa's in Lodwar and we are having a day of R&R after a full week of conference responsibilities.  We took the opportunity to climb to the summit of the hill on which the school sits to get some photo ops with the statue. I think we look remarkably similar.  

The statue was donated to the people of Turkana by the Vatican and as you walk up the hill you encounter the traditional stations of the cross.  Here Roger and Shadrack are pausing at the burial station.  Interestingly, the statues of the soldiers are definitely Turkana and not Roman. 

But as you can see, the view is impressive from the top.

We ended the conference Friday with the book give-a-way sponsored by TGC and another book publisher who donated all these resources to the pastors.  Every pastor and leader got a copy of Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Show Them Jesus, and Taking God at His Word.

While the Executive Team for the Turkana Pastor's Fellowship handed out the books, we took time for a team photo. Every one of these men worked hard to make this conference a success. One pastor told me, "You do not understand how much you have helped us with your teachings.  We have never received anything like this.  And the books you bring are so valuable to us."

110 pastors and church leaders attended this conference and we took a group shot on Friday night.  If you look real hard you can see a few white faces at the back.  Again, we thank you all for your prayers and support for this conference.  

 

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Summer 2018 Lodwar Pastors Conference

 

It's Friday morning and we are wrapping up the conference today.  It has been a very impactful week for all of us, API team and all the pastors and church leaders, as we have studied the book of Galatians in depth.  But I think all those who have attended this conference would say that the evening session with Pastor Roger teaching on children's ministry has been one of the great highlights for us, mainly because he gets the place jumping with his energetic delivery and infectious enthusiasm.

Our afternoon question and answer sessions have been incredibly helpful and fruitful times for these pastors and leaders.  Our panel is composed of the API team and two of the leading pastors in Lodwar and together we have all gained a greater understanding, not only of the passages we have studied, but of each other and our respective cultures.

It is always difficult to bring these to a close and the conversations always continue outside.  

 

I want to give a special shout out to the guy who is the hardest worker on the team and makes everything go - Rrrrrob Hostager.

And the guys who make everyone laugh.

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While we have been working hard in Lodwar, there has been a work party laboring to build a church in the village of Namagirat.  Monday, we bought all the materials for the church building and sent it out to the site, and by Thursday the workers had built the framework.

Next week, Roger, Rob, Dan and I will be headed out into the bush to join the church in celebration of this new construction.  I'd like to thank all those who have contributed to the Brad Pederson Memorial Building Fund to make this happen.

We thank you for your faithful prayers and ask that they would continue.  Pray that these pastors and church leaders would leave with encouragement and joy from the Holy Spirit and they would take the word they have heard and proclaim it to their congregations.

 

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