First of all, THANK YOU to those who prayed for us on our trip as a family to Samburu. We really felt covered in prayer each step as we traveled so far from our home here.
We recently traveled to visit a patient of Mike’s in her home village about 200 miles away. Semenai was born with a cleft lip and was believed to be cursed. Charles, a pastor, heard about her and arranged to take her to Tenwek where Mike did her surgery. After she returned from Tenwek and her lip was repaired, she was accepted again by her family and the community. We were able visit them in their own space, on their turf. It was a long, long trip, but it was so worth it. More on that in a minute. We wanted to share about our hosts, the missionaries who invited us to go on this trip in the first place, Charles and Agnes Sigei.
(Above: Charles, Vanessa age 4, Agnes, and Travis age 1.)
Charles and Agnes are two Kenyan missionaries who are actually from the Tenwek area, but have moved up to Maralal in Samburu with their two children. They have a daughter Vanessa who is 6 months younger than Caleb, and a son, Travis who was ‘one year and two days’ old when we met them. They are the ones who found Semenai and invited us up to visit the community for a celebration. They have been living there in this breathtaking, but scorching land, for five years trying to tell people about Jesus, trying to help with education projects and literacy programs. They have put in five hard, but rewarding, years trying to make relationships and gain trust, with their kids, in a land of no water. As a mom, I was in awe of their commitment and sacrifice.
Agnes told me that the morning we were supposed to arrive there, they had been without water for two weeks. TWO WEEKS! When the water is really low and there has been no rain, sometimes they call a company to truck water in and fill their rain tank. There was a problem with the phones and the company had not been answering their calls for two weeks. Earlier that very morning, when we were bouncing along the road on our way, the water truck pulled up to their house with water for their tank. She said they had been praying so hard that they would have water for us when we came. FOR US?!?!? What about YOUR children?!?! Such humbling self sacrifice.
Charles and Agnes were so gracious and appreciative of our visit. But we were so inspired and encouraged by their commitment and sacrifice for Jesus’ sake. Sitting and visiting with them and hearing stories about the trials and struggles, the victories and progress, was the highlight of the trip for us. Some of the things they talked about were hard to hear, the hardships people in that area still live with. Some things were so easy to relate to, being away from family when they are sick and concerns about their kids’ education. Yes and yes. We were together.
Would you pray for them and their family when you think of them? They are working with a people group that is mostly illiterate, untrusting of outsiders, and very isolated even from other tribes in Kenya. We asked them what their biggest concerns were. Two that they mentioned were 1) to get the God Project going- a literacy program for training young men so they won’t be so isolated, and 2) to get the Jesus film in the Samburu language since so many there still can’t read. We are continuing to pray for them and their work there.
Above left: Vanessa. Above right: Travis
Below: Semenai standing with her dad.
After arriving at Charles and Agnes’ house, we continued another two hard hours in the car to the home of Semenai, Mike’s patient. It was quite an experience for all of us. We traveled with the surgical resident, Kiniga, who had helped Mike with the case. Even having grown up in Kenya, he was having as much culture shock as some of us were.
Semenai’s family welcomed us wholeheartedly, and sacrificially fed us chai. Chairs were brought in from a neighbor so we would have somewhere to sit while we visited. We were able to talk to them about Jesus. We were able to see Charles’ love and concern for them. There were speeches of gratitude and gratefulness. And in the end, the family wanted to say thank with a gift. So they gave us a goat, which the kids named Nutmeg and who complained the two hour drive back to Charles’ place.
There is so much to say about the trip. It’s hard to put into words. I hope the photos give a more complete picture of the experience. Thank you again for praying for us. Please keep praying for the family and community that we visited that the love of Jesus would continue to speak to them and take root in their hearts.
Mike (pediatric surgeon) and Julie (nurse/mother to two) living in Kenya, East Africa