Mwisho (The End)

A Day Spent in God's Creation
June 7th, 2024 Today was a day spent in the middle of the wild African fields in Kenya. The Safari resort we ventured to was Masai Mara, a five-star safari resort. We began the day by taking smaller bush planes to travel to Masai Mara. 

It was an adventurous 45 minute flight with a few guest copilots! We landed at an "air strip" which was a dirt road in the middle of a field with merchants and security.

On the safari we saw many animals including: lions, elephants, water buffalos, hippos, zebras, monkeys, wildebeests, antelope, hyena, warthog's, giraffes, gazelles, topi, jackals, meerkats, ostriches, and more!

After our first mini safari to the resort, we were welcomed with amazing juices, pasta, meats, and fruits. The security in this jungle resort carried spears to protect us from any wildlife that wonder on to the grounds. We stayed in huts which housed 2 or 3 people and it was a big tent with floor elevated off the ground. It was extremely nice and had a great view.

After lunch, we went back out on safari and got very close to some lions and lion cubs! We were roving through the fields when a large storm snuck up on us. We rushed back to our resort, navigating through the mud holes before they got worse due to rain.

When we returned, we had a tamo sana (delicious) dinner, and we had the opportunity to hear our last testimonies from Brooke, Ian, Angela, Chef Daniel and Shomari. We then dispersed into our tents for the night, and fell asleep to sounds of lions and monkeys.

We awoke to the pleasant sounds of birds in the morning, preparing us for the final day, embarking on our voyage half way across the world back home. We are currently on the bus ride back to Holland. a full day of travel went well!

Day 6 (6/6/24)

A Day in Mukuru

Hello friends (rafiki)! This is Michael Mileski and Laura Taylor. Today we visited the Sport Outreach base in Mukuru and were able to be a part of the beginning of a relationship between Sports Outreach and The Bucket Ministry. We started with worship and morning devotions where we read and further discussed the story of Jonah. It has been wonderful getting to know the members of Sports Outreach and The Bucket Ministry, as well as witnessing the spiritual and physical impact that they have made in the communities that they serve.

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After morning introductions, we split into three groups including members of Sports Outreach and The Bucket Ministry. In total, the groups visited seven schools in the Mukuru slum and had the opportunity to bring them clean water filters. It was heartwarming to watch the excitement in the children and teachers as we demonstrated how the filter works. They truly showed their gratefulness through the amount of hugs and love that they shared.

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For lunch, we returned (once again), to the Chicken Inn and played some fun games while sharing a delicious meal together. Many members of our team have enjoyed the Kenyan coffee so much that they decided to purchase some coffee beans to bring home and continue to enjoy. After lunch, we went back to Sports Outreach base and spent the remainder of the afternoon with the kids. We played many games with them including chess (which consists of many losses for us Americans).

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When we arrived back to our resort, we enjoyed a wonderfully displayed and delicious traditional Kenyan dinner. We were greeted by many of the hotel staff members who served us an assortment of dishes such as lamb, rice, beef stomach (which some were hesitant to try), passionfruit, and much more. During dinner, we listened to music and watched Arthur (one of the Sports Outreach leaders) dance. We also said goodbye to our new friends from the Bucket Ministry. Following dinner, we grouped together to hear testimonies from Michael, Liv, Kyle, and Juli. Despite only knowing each other for 6 days, our group has grown to become incredibly loving and open with one another. We have created relationships that will last a lifetime. Tomorrow, we will be flying to Maasai Mara for a safari!

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Day 5 (6/5/24)

The Local Ministry

Hello friends, Mambo! This is Brayden Freidhoff and Jada Garner. Today we joined our friends at the Bucket Outreach ministry in the Kiberan slum. This community based organization led, run, and managed by Kenyans distributes buckets and water filters to the community. The buckets are used as a ministry for the work of Jesus in our lives, and the impact of the ministry in Kibera has been a plethora of salvations and renewed health. The Bucket Outreach ministry is the gold standard of global health initiatives: Long-term, community-based, effective, and intentional.

We watched as members of the organization instructed a group on use and maintenance of filters. We watched in smaller groups as they conducted interviews with individuals who had received filters. Part of the interview includes a discussion about what they had heard about Jesus. These people were highly receptive to the Gospel, and we witnessed numerous salvations today. We had the opportunity to share stories to the group as we waited for lunch, and each person to share told of the beautiful things they had seen.

We ate lunch of rice and cabbage at the Bucket Ministry. Some of us had never eaten cabbage before today. After lunch we split into groups of two and visited individuals in their homes who had previously received buckets from the ministry. We shadowed workers as they conducted follow-up interviews with mixed success. Some individuals had not used their filter much, but for others the effect had been transformational. Brayden and Patrick met a man whose entire family no longer suffered from diarrhea. He spoke almost no English, but gratitude is the same in every language, and it was evident in his smiles.

After serving the Bucket Ministry the group returned to Grace House Resort for tea time. The quality of Kenyan tea has been so great that some of us may become lifelong drinkers–the coffee even more so. After Tea we ate at Big Square for the fourth and final time. Some of us have eaten four pizzas in the last four days. We played Uno and Euchre as we waited for our food, and then most of the group ate at Coldstone Creamery after the dinner.

When we returned to Grace House for the night, we met as a group for testimonies. Tyler, Alex, Brayden, and Jada gave their testimonies as the rest of the group shared love with them. This group has become incredibly close through the uniting forces of service and transparency. There are now more inside jokes than everyone can keep track of. We are honored to be serving, and look forward to our last day of work in the slums tomorrow.

Day 4 (6/4/24)

A day of school and sport:

Hi everyone! This is Juli Kirkpatrick and Luke Stuck! We started off our day joining our friends back at Sports Outreach in Kibera. We headed into the slum and visited five local schools to distribute and teach about Sawyer water filters. A few of us had the opportunity to pass out porridge providing the students with a breakfast. At each school we were also fortunate to have the opportunity to pray over the students, teachers, and ministers. After the school visits, we headed back to Sports Outreach’s headquarters in Kibera and helped pass out a meal for lunch. Each meal consisted of roughly 1/2 cup rice and a few beans which really opened our eyes to some of the daily struggles that these communities face.

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After distributing lunch we headed back to our favorite “Chicken Inn” for lunch and mixed things up today with a shake for dessert from the “Creamy Inn” before heading back to Sports Outreach. A few students had another opportunity to teach local adults in the community how to build and maintain more water filters which was interesting because it was our first experience with water filters outside of the schools. We were also able to play soccer and chess with the students and coaches.

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The kids were unbelievably talented at soccer and chess at such a young age and they played every second with the upmost joy and respect for each other and us. It had rained during our lunch, so the field had quite a few mud puddles, but there way no way it was stopping the kids from playing the sport they love.

Next, we headed to dinner at a local restaurant and enjoyed a few rounds of euchre. We then headed to Grace House Resort to share a few testimonies and debrief the day. We were fortunate to hear from Jacob, Connor, Laura, and Allyson (our Sports Outreach leader). Each day the families have taught us more and more about how lucky we are to have God in our lives and how he continues to be present in all of our unique situations. It is cool to see how universal God can be through the world.

Thank you for joining us for our day four recap! Tomorrow we will be heading back to Kibera to work alongside The Bucket Ministry to continue distributing filters throughout the community.

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Day Two (06/03/24)!

Hey guys! It is day three in Kenya and it’s Liv Dieppa and Kyle McVittie. Today we started our journey in devotion with the Sport’s Outreach team. First, the Sport’s Outreach team opened our time together in worship. The pure joy of the Lord and genuine happiness of all the people of Kenya was so evident. Tyler and Michael then led us through the story of Jonah while engaging and interacting with the rest of the group. This was a great way to prepare for our first day of outreach.

We then loaded the bus and traveled to the slums of Mukuru to spread the Gospel through water filtration systems and fellowship. Mukuru is among one of the poorest cities in all of Africa, so this experience was unlike anything any of our team has witnessed before. We had the opportunity to deliver eight water filtration systems to families that do not have access to clean water. These homes were crowded, yet filled with an enormous amount of love and faith. After diving into these communities, we have been completely humbled by the way of life and conditions in which these people live. Despite the hardships, the Kenyans continue to show immense gratitude for the Lord, specifically in the little things. This has been a common theme throughout our trip as we have been focusing on finding God in everything including the mundane.

After visiting Mukuru, we headed back to the Sport’s Outreach center where the local church and children’s school is located. One of the leaders walked us through the experience of the staple Kenyan dinner dish: Ugali. The entire team was able to try this meal, and it was great! At the same time, our team was given the opportunity to serve lunch to the children at the school.

When everyone had finished their meals, we jumped into recess with the kids. We played giant games of soccer, basketball, frisbee, football, and lots of tag. Bubbles were everywhere and the space was filled with so much joy and laughter. Each child was constantly smiling running from person to person. I think Kyle held the record for number of kids held at once! Some children were also gifted in chess, so a lot of our team members were able to interact with them in that space.

After we said our goodbyes, we headed back to Grace House Resort where we have been staying. On the way back, we even saw a wild giraffe! We all met outside for tea time, and the staff kindly surprised Brooke with a happy birthday cake (happy birthday Brooke!!!)! This is just a testament to the true hospitality we have experienced so far this week. We enjoyed time together over tea and cake before we headed to dinner at a local restaurant. After dinner, we gathered in our banana room for a daily debrief. Lexie, Luke, and Patrick shared their stories with our group. This has been an awesome way to get to know our team on a spiritual level.

Overall, our day was filled with so much gratitude. Our eyes have been opened to the despair that occurs within our world, yet we have experienced a love unlike anything we’ve known before. This has only been evident through the grace of Christ. We may be extremely exhausted, but we still have so much more to give and uncover as we step into the next few days. That’s it for tonight, but we will be back tomorrow as we head into another slum in Nairobi!

Day of Worship

Hello! Today Will Tobias and Lexie Dehoop will be writing the blog post. We began our first day on ground at Grace House Resort with complimentary breakfast. Fresh juice, fruit, omelettes are just the start of the amazing Kenyan food. Their hospitality is amazing. We got into our huge van and headed to church, we were greeted with passionate worship that filled the room with a joy unlike we have ever seen before. There was smiling and laughter, and an acceptance that made Kenya feel like home. We were invited up onto the stage in which those worshipping greeted us and asked each of us individually for our names to build a more personal connection with us all. The adults in the church sang their hearts out and danced with an excitement and joy that was infectious. The children ran around and played with us, smiling and laughing as they drew pictures of us, held our hands, and danced. As we left, the children and adults alike almost swarmed our van, each and every one of them wanting to share their love with us and wish us well on our way to the market. We stopped for lunch at the lovely Chicken Inn and ate on the way to the market. We then practiced our bartering skills, which we figured out we are not very good at… we all walked away with beautiful souvenirs and gifts for close friends and family. We had a short break before dinner where Grace House provided us with complimentary tea time. We sat with our tea, had good conversation, and played games. Dinner was at what you may describe as ‘Kenyan Chile’s’, good food and better fellowship. We finished the night at Grace Resort with our debrief and a couple of our group members were called to share their testimonies. It was moving and it is clear that God is with us. We ask that you pray for our day out in the slums tomorrow and for our connections within and outside of the group to grow and thrive.

We Arrived!

Hello Friends and Family back at home. Lauren Lee and Tyler King writing here! Neck is a little sore from sleeping vertical and/or on benches. The flight was very very long but was filled with many enjoyable meals and sweet treats. Tyler and I loitered around the bathroom for about 10 minuted during our 8.5h flight sharing animal crackers and about what we were to write about today. Amsterdam airport looks kind of like an IKEA + Somerset Mall. Filled with MANY fragrance, wine stands and designer windows. We landed late last night while it was dark and received all baggage and passed through customs with out a problem. We were swept up by our wonderful hosts Arthur and Juma in a large van/bus and taken to get food at a 24/7 food court outside Kenya City. The luggage was strapped to the roof of the van and we all piled in. On the way there we could hear roof top clubs blaring music through the night. At the food court, I (Lauren) ordered a “3 piecer fried chicken with spicy rice” from Chicken Inn, it was HOT. Burnt my mouth several times hastily eating my meal. Shared with a stray cat walking around the tables. We pulled into the hotel at around 1am (Kenya time) and were greeted with FRESH mango, watermelon and passionfruit juice. Tim, our host at Grace House Resort, welcomed us in with a few announcements and gave room assignments. The rooms are not like American hotels where the rooms are connected to a public hallway. Instead, the rooms are oriented around a common area which is then connected to the stairwell. The common area was filled with complimentary tea and coffee surrounded by communal couches. We had to figure out how to wash our faces and brush out teeth without using the sink water, so what Laura Taylor and I (Lauren) did was pour water out of a water bottle for each other. We will if it is worth it at the end of this week comparatively with Prof. Patrick Gentile who just used the sink water (boys *eye roll*). We unpacked and climbed into our beds which felt like glorified dining tables, but we both quickly met sleep underneath the mosquito nets.

Woke up this morning at 7:30a and made my way to breakfast which is where I will let Lexi Dehoop and Will Tobias pick up! Tutaonana baadaye!

C ya CR 🇨🇷🫶

Hello everyone–it’s Cara and Justin!

We apologize for not catching you up last night. After a wonderful last day in La Casona with the Guaymí people, we left for Jaco about 40 water filters lighter! We are all so thankful for the incredible memories that we have with the students in Puntarenas, the Pastor’s family, and each other in the jungles and mountains of the region!

We ran a little late to the school in Puntarenas because of a slight bus malfunction. We are lucky that we are a team full of athletes because the battery on the bus died after standing idle for a few days and we had to push the bus up a small hill in order for the bus driver to work his magic and do a rolling start.

The school in Puntarenas had the most kids of any school we have visited. Our team was tired, but the kids quickly energized us with their excitement to play sports with us. Carl and Brendan, the lax bros of the team, loved how excited the kids were to learn lacrosse. The kids shared the few sticks we had and a smile rarely left their faces. Justin sat with a few kids at lunch as they had their first sips of clean water. Cara shared a short testimony with the kids about praying to God and trusting Him to provide for our every need.

After we left the school, we returned to the Pastor’s house and quickly packed our bags to head to Jaco. We are so thankful to the Pastor and his family for their hospitality. One of the hardest goodbyes of our trip was to the Pastor’s sons David and Daniel. Both of them took groups of us on strange adventures that quickly became some of our favorite moments of the trip. As we were leaving, Daniel remembered his adventure with Justin and Natalie searching for mangos. Daniel ran up to Justin to gift our team with a bag of fresh mangos. Carl was sad to say goodbye to his new fishing buddy, David, who helped him find a fishing rod, line, bait, and hooks (they shared a very exciting celebration when David caught his first fish ever!).

After our goodbyes, we started our trek to Jaco in our tan bus with the pastor’s kids chasing us down the road. After spending days surrounded by lush rainforests and the Talamanca mountain range, we noticed the world around us change from green to blue as we stopped for lunch at one of the most breathtaking sights in Costa Rica. The “Whale Tale”, named for its tail shaped land formation off the coast of Costa Rica was almost as beautiful as the food that came after many hours on a bus directly following playing sports with children.

Last night, we arrived to a hotel in Jaco and enjoyed our first feels of air conditioning in a while and could even flush our toilet paper (what a luxury). Quickly, we hurried out of our rooms to enjoy the pool and the gorgeous black sand beaches! With just a few hours before dinner, we made the most of our time by exploring the beach and the different amenities of the hotel we stayed at.

After dinner, we gathered outside to hear the final testimonies of our team: Brendan, Carl, and AJ. Hearing each others’ experiences with God has been incredibly encouraging for our team. After sharing testimonies, we spent time each night speaking encouragement into one another’s life. We are so thankful for those special times. We were all slumped after the long day and knocked out for the night quickly after team time.

This morning we slept in a bit and then had Bible study together. Kevin led the study on “Happy Purity”, where we talked about how we can continue to let the impact of this trip influence the way we live our lives when we come home. We talked about how we have to download the right stuff to our “moral laptop” and how we shouldn’t distort ourselves to fit society’s mold like we might see ourselves in a fun house mirror. As we headed into our day, it was nice to share messages about the impact of our trip and how we can carry our experiences here with us back home.

Following a quick breakfast, we checked out of our hotel and headed to Jaco’s main beach where we could swim, shop, and eat lunch. With the group split in a few different directions before lunchtime, we all met up at a taco restaurant to have a phenomenal meal together. After the meal, many of us headed back to the beach to rent surf boards and teach ourselves how to surf! We had a blast and lost track of time until it was time to head back to the AMCA house in San José.

On the bus ride back, we continued to recap our trip that has simultaneously felt like 1 year and 1 second. We prayed for our leaders from Push The Rock, and received their prayers as we made our way back into the center of the country to the capital city. After arriving back at the AMCA house, we ate a quick dinner, wrote letters to our future selves, and started to get ready for our very very early flight. (PSA if you call us tomorrow before 12 you might experience a very cranky SEEDer).

As we look back on this trip, we cannot express our gratitude for all of the incredible people we have met, all of the beautiful places we have been to, and all of the love we have shared. Goodnight y’all.

-Cara and Justin

Puerta Plata – A Day of Relaxation and Reflection

Hey Everyone! It’s Cole and Amanda back with more stories from the DR from Thursday!

Bright and early, the guys woke up again and got a card workout in up on the roof. Then our first start to the day was breakfast with our wonderful cooks Maria and Sandra. They made us pancakes and bacon!! Following breakfast we got to hear our bus driver, Narciso’s, testimony and had a great devotional time about multiplication and spreading disciples!!

We got all packed up and headed out for the resort we’re staying at for the night. Before making the two hour trip there, we took a stop at el monumento de los héroes de la restauración. John told us a bit about the history, but the views spoke for themselves. We hopped back on the bus and headed for the resort!

After two hours, we finally made it! The resort was gorgeous! We checked in and were welcomed with a buffet lunch with all you can imagine. You could catch most of us at the pasta bar in which you could add anything you wanted, and they would cook it right in front of you, or watch us enjoying the yummy Dominican Republic ice cream. You wouldn’t believe how good some simple vanilla or chocolate ice cream would taste!

That was only the beginning of the wonders of the resort. We spent the afternoon swimming in the ocean, sitting on the beach, or jumping in the pool. The water was unbelievable warm which was incredible.

We then all joined back up together for some dinner and followed with a recap of the week on the beach. The sound of the ocean crashing and slight breeze was nothing but remarkable. We finished the night hanging out and relaxing as a group! It was a phenomenal day of relaxation and reflection together!!

We are so thankful for the opportunity to spend time at the resort and can’t wait to continue the fun tomorrow! Thanks for reading!

Cole and Amanda!