Covenant made a difference in Kenya! On August 1, 2014 twenty-two people from left Covenant on a journey to Kenya, Africa, to show the love of God to orphans who are a part of Life for Children Ministry. Covenant has supported Life for Children Ministry for a number of years, and this was an opportunity to see it in person.

The following are articles written during the trip:

August 10 – Here’s am update from our Kenya Team!

Over 150 children participated the past three days in a vacation Bible school at Life for Children’s rural Wachara campus. The Bible school was led by a team of 22 people from Covenant United Methodist Church located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Mornings have been filled with singing, Bible stories, crafts, nature study, and games. The afternoons have included medical screenings and home visits, as well as games. A highlight was tie dying shirts with all the kids and seeing the bright smiles on their faces when they received their finished shirts. It was hard for both the team and children to part ways at the end not only because of the bond that had developed between them, but also because an afternoon rain made the roads nearly impassable. After pushing the Covenant team’s bus a quarter of a mile down the incredibly muddy roads, the group was on its way to its next destination. – Ed Fenstermacher

August 11 – A precious bag of flour

A part of Covenant United Methodist’s mission trip includes visits to the homes of the Life for Children kids. I’ll never forget the four homes I visited in rural Wachara. Having a person visit you in your home is extremely special to Kenyans, so I and the two others with me were welcomed with open arms. The homes were very simple, just three rooms and a dirt floor. Kenyans in Wachara mainly spend their time outdoors all day, so a large home is not the norm. All of the homes we visited were homes of single women. And at least two of the houses were built by LCM as part of the ministry’s program for widows. For $1,000 the ministry can build a home in one day! What a difference these homes made for these widows. One had been chronically sick due to living in a home with a leaky grass roof, and now she’s been well. I’ll never forget the last house I visited. It was Pamela’s. When we gave her the gift of rice and a bag of flour, she fell to her knees in front of us holding the flour over her head, thanking us and praising God. Wheat flour is very hard to come by, so it’s extremely precious. Never will I place a five-pound bag of flour in my grocery basket back home without thinking of how precious it is to many in this world, many including Pamela in Wachara, Kenya. – Ed Fenstermacher

August 11 – Ministering to street boys

Sunday, before attending church, Covenant’s mission team joined Life for Children staff in feeding about 150 homeless boys who live on the streets of Kisumu. It was heart wrenching to see kids from 5 years old to young adult come together for devotions, sharing, and a hot meal knowing that they were on their own the rest of the week. We were all jammed in a one-room shanty. Filthy, smelly bodies filled every inch of the space. A couple boys shared the latest news from the streets. Tony, from LCM, led in the sharing and prayed. Zach, from our team, shared his testimony in return. We sang Amazing Grace and a song our Natasha led, and then we helped feed the boys plates of beans and a starch called ugali. The boys were so hungry that some tried their best to push and shove in order get served quicker. At least one put his food down his shirt, feigning that he hadn’t been served. It didn’t work. I think many of us left numb from the experience, so overwhelmed by the scene that we witnessed. A primary desire most of us had when we returned to our bus was to wash our hands. I intentionally left mine unwashed until we got back to our hotel. For some reason I felt as though I needed to continue-brief though it was-to feel the grime, to carry the experience a little longer. For these boys are truly forgotten children. I couldn’t help but believe that Jesus would be right there with them. And He was thanks to Life for Children Ministry. – Ed Fenstermacher

August 12 – A Blessing to hear

Covenant’s mission team is leading a VBS at Kisumu where 100 kids are attending thus far. Every child here has a story. Every child has a voice waiting to be heard. It is merely up to us, as Christians, to hear their loving voices and share God’s love. Being a part of Covenant’s team has allowed me to hear these beautiful and joyous children of God. While the first day was coming to a close, I saw a young Kenyan boy sitting by himself away from the others on a dirt mound. Many of the kids were still running around and playing with no cares on their minds except to have fun. I approached and sat down beside this boy quickly, introducing myself to him and him to me. His name was Norman. Norman clearly was wanting to talk for he immediately started asking questions like, “Do you have brothers or sisters?” While this interaction went on Norman very randomly asked whether I had a dog or not. I responded by saying I did but it died last summer. I asked him if he had a dog. He said he did but it too died, fairly recently at that. I asked how it died. “Strangers,” he said. I was confused what he meant and how this could happen. He went on to explain that these strangers came and poisoned his dog leaving it unable to survive. His dog’s name was Rex, it was clear to me that he loved him very much. The biggest thing I’ve come to realize here in Kenya is the incredible joy and passion the children have in life. The difficulties these young children experience, whether they’re orphaned, hungry, or sick, I will probably never get to fully comprehend. Despite the incredible hardships these children face, they endure. Everyone on our team could give you a dozen of similar stories, and again I don’t believe I will ever be able to know fully the problems these kids face everyday. Every child wants to be loved, and our group has and will forever love these Kenyan children. All these children have a voice and want to be heard and it is a blessing to hear their joyous voices. I see God in all of their faces and I, and the team as well, can’t help but to smile and laugh with them. God is Good! – Kyle Fenstermacher

August 13 – Medic team screens children

During the afternoons, part of Covenant United Methodist Church’s mission team has been doing health screenings for the children and some of their guardians. As a result, they have discovered that most of LCM’s children are very healthy. They have treated children for some conditions, such as ring-worm and jiggers, a parasite that enters one’s body through the feet and then reproduces under the skin. They have made notes on children who appear to have heart conditions, so that LCM staff can follow up with local medical care. Natasha on our team discovered one girl with nearly third degree burns on her legs, the likely result of spilled hot food. She had been running a fever and the wound hadn’t been treated. So Rose, on our team, cleaned the wound. Today after her second treatment she was no longer suffering and the wound looked good. So glad our team had a doctor and several nurses. They really have made a difference! Well, we just completed our VBS at Kisumu. We left each child with a mattress, mosquito net, handmade bags sewn by Covenant members filled with goodies, rubber band bracelets made by Covenant children, and tie-dyed shirts each child made. Most import, we gave them a blessing.
Hard to believe we leave tomorrow. We will surely miss them, the LCM staff, and the beautiful country of Kenya. Know doubt our relationship will continue, though not face-to-face. We have been touched in so many ways and can’t wait to share about our experience and LCM when we get home. – Ed Fenstermacher