CMSI visit to Kenya by David Tough and Robert Hoffman

Church Mission Society Ireland (CMSI) Team Visit to Kenya July 2018

CMSI exits to equip the church in Mission and is working in partnership with the Church of Ireland and churches in Africa and Asia over many years. Volunteers are invited to join Mission Experience Teams visiting various countries and Mission Partners each year.
Twende (Go)Team members Rev. David & Lorna Palmer (Magherally Parish) with Robert Hoffman and David Tough (Tralee & Dingle Union of Parishes) had volunteered and prepared to visit CMSI Mission Partners Ronnie & Maggie Briggs working with the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Kajiado Diocese for two weeks in July.
Following a Commissioning Service in Seagoe Parish Church, we were delighted to welcome Rev. Roger Thompson from CMSI to St. John’s Church, Tralee where we had an African themed service before we left for Kenya.
Mission and Development
Bishop Gaddiel Lenini formally welcomed the team to the Diocese and we got an understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing a growing church. The Diocese has about 50 Parishes with about 90 Clergy, Lay readers and Evangelists. There is a vision of growth and the challenge is to sustain that growth. The Diocese in partnership with CMSI and the church in Ireland has two driving forces: 1 Mission and outreach 2. Meeting physical and social needs. Bishop Gaddiel stressed that Mission and Development go hand-in-hand – “an empty stomach has no ears”.
Oloyoosian Girls Secondary school
Lorna, who is a singer, musician and leads a Gospel Choir spent some time at Oloyoosian Girls Secondary school, teaching the girls some songs for Sunday service in the Cathedral. It didn’t help that the electricity was off for most of the day and the keyboard malfunctioned, however such are the challenges that have to be overcome through perseverance and prayer.
Masai Rural Training Centre (MRTC)
Robert, who is a farmer, spent some time at MRTC Isinya. Here he experienced a hands-on approach to livestock management, vaccinating cattle, dipping sheep and baling hay by hand.
The MRTC’s are part of the Diocesan Mission and Development programme. The 4 pillars, Church, Agriculture, Health and Education are supported by Sustainability through income generating projects and Ronnie and Maggie have the job of managing their rejuvenation and development.
Seminars for Clergy, Lay Readers and Evangelists
The two Davids participated in training seminars for Clergy, Lay Readers and Evangelists both at Kajiado and at Imberikani speaking on Spiritual Leadership and the Call to Ministry. We were very encouraged by the large enthusiastic turnout and the powerful testimonies of several of the participants. The participants were grateful for the training received and there is a real hunger for good Biblical teaching.
Pastoral Visits
We had the privilege of sharing in pastoral visits to people in their homes. In both homes we were warmly welcomed and shared fellowship together along with piles of food and copious cups of chai (tea).
In the first home we met Mama Helen and her daughter Patricia. At one time, Helen had been very Ill, having tried doctors and hospitals without cure. She had a great interest in the work of the Sunday School and when she saw the children sitting on the ground, she went out and bought some chairs for them. From that time on she was healed of her illness, Bwana asifiwe – Praise the Lord!
In the second home we met Monica and her friend Ann, along with some of Monica’s grandchildren. Please pray for for Ann that her back may be healed and that her family may make the right decisions.
Emmanuel Cathedral, Kajiado
Emmanuel Cathedral was the setting for two services on our first Sunday. The Olyoosian Girls Secondary school choir performed songs directed by Lorna. The team members all introduced themselves and Rev. David Palmer gave the sermon. We all felt truly blessed to experience such lively worship (you wouldn’t think that 4 hours in church could be so enjoyable!)
Land Rover Safari
Land rover fully loaded we set off on the long journey to Oltiaska. Good tarmac roads gave way to graded roads then dirt track roads with some detours through the bush from time to time. There’s no doubt that a good vehicle is essential for travel around the Diocese. The Land Rover is quite old and in need of major overhaul or replacement, but an essential vehicle for Ronnie & Maggie to travel around the remote areas of the Diocese. Please pray that funds may be found for its refurbishment or replacement.
A highlight of the journeys was seeing wildlife along the way and in Amboseli National Park, including various gazelles and antelope, giraffe, ostriches, zebra, elephants, wildebeest, hyenas and lions all in their natural surroundings.
St. Paul’s Church and Training Centre, Imberikani
At St. Paul’s Church and Training Centre, Imberikani a classroom was prepared for the Training seminars for Lay Readers and Clergy held over two days. Walls, floor, windows, tables and chairs were cleaned and it began to look like a classroom. However, there is a lot of work to be done to bring the building up to standard and we pray that the grants applied for from ESB Electric Aid will come through.
Outside, trenches were dug for water and electricity supplies. The late and intermittent arrival of building materials added to the challenges facing the church in this beautiful but remote area, from training of church leaders to building up sustainable infrastructure. There is great vision to expand the centre to include accommodation and staff houses so that it may be used as a Diocesan Training Centre for that area. In time, it is planned to hold various training courses there, including Adult Literacy, Computer and IT skills, Clergy and Lay reader Training.

Oltiaska MRTC and Osinoni Hideaway
At Osinoni Hideaway, Oltiasika, at the foot of the Chulu Hills, once again we received a warm welcome from the staff. As we took in the view of the surrounding hills, the plains below and Kilimanjaro in the distance, surely this must be one of the most beautiful places to be and when you look up at the starry sky at night one can’t help but be in awe of the wonder of God’s creation.
At Oltiaska MRTC we saw the potential for development in this place. The original school, health clinic and vocational training centre have been taken over by the Government. A herd of 70 special breed Gala goats are used to improve the local herds and along with renting some houses provide valuable income for sustainability of the centre.
Perhaps the most impressive project is the water catchment and water tanks that had been refurbished by Tuam Diocese last year. Here up to 600,000 litres of water can be stored for distribution to the local community. About 300 women draw water 4 times a week. Each load of about 60 litres, which is very heavy, is carried home and can be used by perhaps 8 or 10 people. One storage tank is now covered and this makes a big difference to the quality of the water. The plan is to cover the other two tanks and eventually build a fourth one. Water is vital for life. The only source of water here is from the rain which quickly soaks into the ground. Most buildings will catch rainwater from the roof into a storage tank. The large catchment and storage tanks are of great benefit to the whole community.
Women’s Empowerment
David and Lorna presented to the Women’s Empowerment Group. The woman were encouraged for their value both in the community and before God. In a society where women do most of the hard work, we pray that this group may continue and strengthen the women there. It is also hoped to develop craftwork skills as an income generating project which will help give some financial independence.
St. Patrick’s Church, Lemasusu
It was a real privilege to attend Sunday morning service at St. Patrick’s Church, Lemasusu, particularly for Lay Reader David as he had been involved in the Pamoja Team that built the church in 2006.
Despite the many challenges facing the church in Kenya, it is a growing church, and we were very impressed by the sincere welcome we received from everyone and how people speak so openly and naturally about their faith in Christ.
Special thanks to Ronnie & Maggie Briggs and all the various hosts who looked after us so well in Kenya and to the CMSI Staff at home for all the preparation and support both before and during our visit. A big “Thank You” also to all our family, friends and parishioners for the generous support we have received for the various projects in Kenya. To date over €5000 euro was raised by Robert and David over and above the team costs which we funded ourselves.
Please pray for these projects and the people we met in Kajiado Diocese. For those interested, Twende Team are available to share the good news of God’s work in Mission and Development in Kajiado Diocese. Bwana Asifiwe, Praise the Lord.
David Tough
July 2018