2014 OG MAASAI MISSION TRIP TO KENYA, June 21 – July 1, 2014
by Katrina H. Conde
Since this was my first mission trip, I was a bit nervous, but being a middle school teacher I was used to adventure. I was especially conscientious about our reading assignment: Henri Nouwen’s book, Discernment. I started to frantically take notes on each chapter when I stumbled upon one phrase that answered all my prayers: Pay attention to the people God puts in your path if you want to discern what God is up to in your life.
The first group of people on my spiritual path were my 21 New Canaan partners who accompanied me on this trip. I knew some of them well enough to say hello, but others I never had met before in my 15 years at this church. The trip was a community experience with daily meals, long van rides through the bumpy, red-dusted roads, work site duties, more driving on dusty roads, and evening vespers. Throughout the trip, I felt loved and accepted as everyone shared their spiritual gifts such as their sense of humor, intelligence, love for birding, generosity, creativity, leadership, dedication or just pleasant conversation. As a result of this love and acceptance, I have become more committed to our church by becoming active in outreach activities.
The next group of people on my enlightened path were the jubilant girls at the Rescue Center who welcomed us into their community by sharing meals with us, visiting with us, and singing for us. I was amazed at how caring they were towards each other. They had so little but were so grateful for all they had. The Maasai community’s simple way of living made them more joyful and open to God. The grateful girls helped me to appreciate all I had in my life and to count my blessings.
Finally, the safari in the Maasai Mara allowed me to further appreciate the wonder of God’s glory. There we all ate breakfast while sitting next to Nile crocodiles basking on the riverbanks, ate lunch while gazing at the giraffes feasting on acacia trees, and went to sleep while listening to the hippos frolic in the river outside our tent. I have always felt closest to God while in nature but the Maasai Mara Safari was a divine experience.
I realize that God’s intentions were for me to serve others thanks to my OG Mission Fish experience. I am looking forward to our next mission trip so God can further illuminate His intentions for me.
by Stephanie Joyce
From the moment Marianna announced the mission trip to Kenya, I knew in my soul it was something I needed to do. I felt drawn to learn more about Maasai culture and to connect with its people by serving them. Many Maasai families cannot afford to keep their daughters. These girls, as young as 9, are married off, often to much older men and many have to endure female circumcision. The rescue center provides a choice and home for these young girls. It warmed my heart to help build a dormitory with other church members.
Every day the Maasai women nurtured us by insisting on cooking a warm meal and serving tea. Our mornings were spent working on building the dorms and in the afternoons, we were joined by the girls. They entertained us by sharing their circle games, chants and dances. We connected with them through the arts which I believe is a universal language. The energy of God is one of creation and together we created 2 large murals one of which is in Smith Hall and the other we left at the Rescue center as a memory of our time together.
At the end of our stay the whole village of over 200 from babies to elders came out and showered us with gifts and thanks. They sang, danced and gave us hugs and colorful kanga wraps. Our donations from the church community of books, shoes, bags and pencil cases delighted them.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was the vespers in the evening especially the last one by the campfire along the Mara River. It was meaningful to reflect on the day’s events in a spiritual light and we were amazed at the vast range of Gods creativity by the variety of species that we saw.
It rained when we arrived and rained when we departed which for the Maasai is one of God’s greatest blessings. I felt truly blessed to have the chance to spend time with these beautiful people and to experience the meaningful partnership between the Church and Maasai. In deep gratitude to the church for this opportunity to serve I would like to end with a prayer of the Maasai.
Oh God, grant that we may live in peace.
Give us health and protect our wives and children.
Bless us with rain on our heads and prosper us by giving water to man and beast.
God remember us
by William Picard
Around day three of our work at the Beloved Daughters of the Maasai refuge center, we were speeding down a dirt road on our way to see the water pipeline which was funded by this church some ten years ago. On the side of the road ahead of us were two young boys about 10 years old. As we passed they threw their hands up in salute, smiled brightly and yelled “Wazungu!!”
Of course I asked our driver what this meant… so he told me…“White People” .
It made me, actually it made all of us in the car, laugh at the time.
In thinking back on our trip however this is a most fitting vignette. Fitting because unlike the stale “what I did this summer” this trip was not really about what we did. When all is said and done, the marrow of life sucked out of this adventure lies not in what we did as much as in what we were.
Certainly we did things and saw things, we visited primitive Maasai settlements, glamped on the banks of the Mara river and witnessed the great Wildebeest migration in full swing. Any of these would make a trip to Kenya worthwhile.
We even did a little work and managed to build a dormitory for the girls of the refuge. But quite frankly, this was by far the lightest workload I can recall of any of the OG trips I have been on, and I’m fairly sure of any of the OG trips this church has ever had.
But, there is no doubt in my mind that it was by far one of the most impactful ever, both for us mission fish and for our brothers and sisters on site.
So let me tell you what we 26 mission souls, were in Kenya:
We were Blessed. Blessed with love and laughter, friendship and joy, peace and serenity. It happens every time and yet I never fail to be surprised by the way in which mission work brings us all into deeper and more meaningful relationships with one another and with God.
We were fulfilled and excited by our roles as conduits of God’s love and as very real agents of change for the 30 girls at the refuge and the other 30 girls whom we never met but who are now living in their new dormitory.
We were humbled and inspired by the people we came to serve, especially by the girls and their teachers. Humbled and inspired by the grace with which they face daily challenges which by anyone in this Meeting House could only be considered as acute.
We were drowned in smiles and showered with gifts from people with precious little to give. People who at this very moment are suffering from a severe drought and are not sure whence or even whether next week’s food will come.
We were mindful and grateful of belonging to a worthy body as we were driven around the area to see the fruits of the various projects sponsored by this church. We saw the famous drought-resistant goats (all the more important today), the pipeline, the cisterns, the greenhouses, the solar panels, the desks and not least met some of the grown-up pupils who were sponsored over the years by members of our congregation.
We were filled with a sense of worth and purpose as we worked on the dormitory and with a great feeling accomplishment when it was commissioned.
And of course we felt privileged and fortunate to have been commissioned by this congregation. It is easy to take for granted, but our mission fish, young and old, do set out on a great commission in the name of each and every one of us, members of this congregation. I believe that we were worthy ambassadors but I would urge you all to come and make sure for yourself on our next OG trip.