Sunday, July 19, 2009

Experiences in Homa Bay

presented by Rachel Lauer on the 78th World Mission Sunday, October 24, 2004.
I would like to start with the prayer that Jesus gave us:

Baba Yetu uliye mbinguni,
Jina lako litukuzwe,
Ufalme wako ufike,
Utakalo lifanyike duniani kama mbinguni
Utupe leo mkate wetu wa kila siku,
Utusamehe makosa yetu,
Kama tunavyowasamehe na sisi waliotukosea.
Usitutie katika kishawishi,
Lakini utuopoe maovuni.

Just in case you haven't figured it out, that was the "Our Father" in Kiswahili.

Today is World Mission Sunday and I am thankful for the opportunity to share with you some of my experiences in Kenya. I would like to especially focus on St. Joseph's Catholic Parish in Migori, with whom our two parishes have started a special relationship within the St. Cloud / Homa Bay partnership. I was in Kenya for two weeks and spent five days with the people of Migori.

I found all the people in Migori very welcoming. As I would arrive, the women would surround me and dance and sing and clap. It is impossible for all the parishioners to travel into St. Joseph's parish, so they have something called out-stations. This is a smaller community that worships in a church together but does not have a priest on a regular basis. I was able to travel to many of them and was always honored as a special guest. At one out-station, they taught me how to make bricks for a new church they were building. At another, I experienced how they plowed their fields using oxen. Yet another group showed me how to weave baskets, prepare food, and make clay cooking pots.

Having experienced their daily life, one major difference was how they dealt with time. Where we are constantly rushing from place to place and keeping a tight schedule, they gather for an event and it starts when everyone gets there and ends when it's all over. Time has a different meaning. They live at a slower pace and spend a lot of time visiting. While this was quite frustrating to some members of the delegation, we soon learned to use it to our own advantage: mainly to catch up on sleep!

Another experience that really stands out in my mind happened at one of the out-stations. During my visit in general, many young people did poetry and songs about the AIDS problem But it really came alive for me when I was taking photos of the children at the out-station. The first group consisted of about 80 children. Then they put together another group of about 60 children. Later they told me that the second group was all the AIDS orphans from that out-station. This really drove home how serious the AIDS problem is.

The most powerful impression of the people in Kenya was their incredibly deep faith. Here in the United States, we have so much stuff that we can fool ourselves into thinking that we can get along without God, but they need God to survive day to day and it is so apparent in the way they live and worship. When I see their faith, I do not see poor people, but people who live life richly with God.

These few glimpses of experiences and impressions that I have shared are only a small part of all that I encountered in Africa. I plan to do another presentation with pictures, videos, and hands on items from my trip at a later date. I want to thank all of you for allowing me to represent you in Migori and for all your prayers and financial support. As they would say in Kenya, Erokamano.

Thank you.

Rachel Lauer

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