Friday, February 18, 2011

to kenya ~ with love

Our African adventure was definitely a pleasure trip...but it was not all about having fun. Since we were visiting Ron and Martha Ratzlaff while in Kenya...and they are the Kenyan directors of MCC (Mennonite Central Committee)...we had a chance to travel with them as they went about their duties of administering the humanitarian projects with which they are involved. 

Our first field day was a trip to Menno Kids Academy...a school in the slums of  Nairobi...where we would be distributing blankets and school kits.  What an eye-opener that was!  In my home church a group of ladies meets every Tuesday to make blankets for MCC...completing hundreds of quilts every year.  They are sent around the world to those in need.  One container containing quilts from North America arrived in Kenya several months ago...and we had the privilege of helping to distribute the last of them. 

The truck that showed up at the MCC office to transport the quilts to the school, was much smaller than what was expected.  The driver said, "No problem".  It seems where there is a will, there is a Nairobi.  The crated quilts arrived at the school as promised!

No sooner had the truckload of blankets arrived...than the students showed up to unload.

They made quick work of a truckload of blankets.

For the next few hours, we distributed blankets...beginning with the 'baby class' and upwards through the grades.  A parent was required to be there in order for the child to receive a blanket...and they were.  What joy to see those little ones hugging their blankets.  If only the ladies back home could see what a sacrifice of love they really are involved in when they meet to make blankets.

Those in the higher grades waited patiently for their turn...peering in the windows to get a peek.

How disappointing for the last two classrooms to be told we had run out of blankets...and would have to return another day with theirs.  The problem was that the last of the shipment of blankets had been distributed...and it would take time to bring more blankets from North America.  The day before we left Kenya, the guys went to the MCC office to unpack a shipment of 'used computers' from Manitoba.  It turned out that the computers were packaged in blankets...more than enough to fulfill our promise to the rest of the students.  Shortly after we left, Ron and Martha were able to return to the school and give out the rest of the blankets.

Once the blankets were distributed, it was lunchtime.  For many of these students, the only square meal they will have each day is the one they have at school.  They had also prepared lunch for us.  We had exactly what you see the children eating (beans and maize)...but with enough on each of our plates to feed an entire household.  Out of their little...they are most generous!


Along with their one healthy meal each day...the students are provided with clean drinking water.  We found tables of bottled water laid out in the sun...all part of a program to provide clean, healthy water for the students.  Solar water disinfection (SODIS) is a simple procedure to disinfect drinking water. Clear plastic bottles are filled with contaminated water and exposed to the sun for 6 hours. During this time, the UV-radiation of the sun kills diarrhea generating pathogens...preventing illness and saving lives.  So simple...yet so effective. 

After lunch we visited the classrooms...with a school kit for each student. 

It seemed the red bags were most sought after!  How thrilling for them to have the basics...paper, pencils, erasers and a ruler.  As for the large cardboard boxes that the kits were packaged in...the teachers wrestled to get their hands on those.  Nothing goes to waste over there!

I'll take you to another school that MCC partners we visited on another day trip.

Situated about 30 miles from the city of Nairobi...the Tumaini La Watoto Child Development Center is in an agricultural area and focuses on giving hope to children who are suffering because of  HIV and poverty.

We arrived at lunchtime...and were greeted by the smiling faces of the students.

And for a delegation of friends from Canada...they all packed into their meeting room to give us an official welcome.  Sitting three on a chair did not seem to be one bit of a problem over there!  They sang a welcome song...they recited poems...and they made us feel ever so at home.

We traveled together with another couple visiting from Canada that week...Elvin and Jan from Alberta. Elvin came bearing gifts...Nike soccer balls, that proved to be a hit!

They have little.  They make the most of what they have.  They rely on God for His provision! 

On another day...we will visit a few more of the projects that MCC is involved with.  Today it was about schools and education; next time it will be about providing food and clean water.  They do a good work over there!


  1. Judy it's so wonderful that you were able to see the work the MCC does in Kenya. You had an experience that must have been so emotional. Seeing the children so grateful to be receiving the quilts and blankets that your church members had made must have been overwhelming. Their donations were put to good use and show that each of us can help if only in a small way.

  2. How great that you could see and experience, Judy, what we only hear about - the work that MCC does. Thank you for sharing your stories. Dairymary

  3. What an encouragement for you to see that the Lord hadn't run out of blankets at all. I feel so encouraged by that story. What a great blessing for you and Elmer to see the results of all those labors. God is good.

    (Would you believe that last evening as my sister and I were going through some of my grandmother's old letters we found a letter from a missionary in Kenya? She was/is the daughter of one of my grandmother's girlhood friends. We even found photos of the missionary's mom's wedding day in Nan's old picture albums. I think I'll be writing a letter to Kenya soon. Perhaps I'll still find her there because the letter is only a few years old. I just found this connection so interesting.)

  4. Judy, your post brought tears to me today. I loved the sign....and isn't that just what God promises us. 'This Far".....He does not want us to run ahead of the plan.
    I'm sure you have brought those children home in thought and prayer.

  5. What a treat for all of us to read a first hand account of how these things are distributed. I knew that MCC did things in a special way, and thoroughly enjoyed your post. Won't the ladies that make the blanket be heartened to know how they are received!?

  6. It is just wonderful to see first hand where the MCC money goes and to see that it gets there. What a tremendous blessing to see the smiling faces of the children. I so enjoyed this post.
    I loved knowing that God had blankets on the way!

  7. Judy,
    God bless you!
    Your post made me think on the good things Christians do.

  8. It looks like you have become ambassadors and dignitaries for our country Canada. I love how you had the opportunity to be part of the hands on ministries. That's when it really touches your heart else where and one really can applaud the work that MCC does in another country.
    You never know what your future holds.

  9. This is a wonderful post, Judy. Isn't it marvelous how the Lord provided blankets for all so unexpectedly?

    My mom is one who goes to MCC weekly to work on quilts. I'm going to send her a link to this post.

    My heart is filled with praise and warmth as I read this. Blessings...

  10. How very wonderful to be a part of the distribution at the other end. It must have been a very humbling experience. I love that Elvin thought to bring soccer balls!

  11. Oh Judy, I can only imagine what a joy it must have been to be able to visit these children and hand out blankets and school suplies.
    So neat for the ladies in your church to hear how these blankets are received! Can you imagine kids here waiting in line to get one? We have so much here!
    I wonder if this was not the best part of your trip.

  12. Judy the blanket story reminded me of the biblical story of "loaves and fishes"! The Lord does provide for those in need through the good efforts and sacrifice of those who care. The MCC is doing God's work there!

  13. Oh wow what a touching experience, one you will never forget.

  14. What a wonderful work that was. It makes one realize how much we all have in the Western world.

    The Watoto choir visited our church in France two years ago and gave us an amazing concert.


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson