Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dedication Sunday

Dedication Sunday began with a parade of all church elders and pastors and American visitors following a military band and contingent from the Boys and Girls Brigade. We marched from the pastor's manse (for which we dug the foundation two years ago) about 1/2 a block to the fields that house the orphanage and well. The service actually started at 11 (about 1 hour late - but remarkably timely according to Kenyan time). Although they set seats for 3000, the worker's had to lay more and more lumber across the foundation to provide seating as people kept coming.

After the opening prayer given by Alison Yamaguchi (the wife of the Executive Presbyteer of Los Ranchos Presbytery and a valuable member of the medical team) and a hymn, five groups led in praise songs. These included the Women's Guild from Kamandura, who sang about the need to care for orphans; the Masaii from Narok in full tribal garb, who sang and danced (they left at 6 a.m. and traveled more than 3 hours to be with us over very rough roads); the Lari Parish; Los Ranchos (We sang two songs including some in Swahili and then our youth sang another song. We were then asked to sing an encore in Swahili with all members of the medical team and healthcare teams from Limuru.); and finally a song by the officers of the Boys and Girls' Brigade. We also sang Happy Birthday to Kelsie Buxbaum, a youth member of our team.

We then walked to the front of the church to witness the dedication of the orphanage and the unveiling of two plaques: one by Rev. Peter Thitu, the Moderator of Limuru Presbytery, and Rev. Tom Cramer, the pastor leader of our trip, and the other by Jedidah Ngorji, Chairwoman of the Women's Guild, Helen Harwell and Colette Cozean.

Dr. Colette Cozean then spoke about the launching of the Health and Medical Service Program. She spoke about God's leading of the partnership over the past 14 years and the goals set two years ago:
1) to bond at all levels of the partnership (women-to-women, men-to-men, youth-to-youth, pastors-to-pastors, etc.)
2) to build an orphanage to house 50 girls (phase I) and 200 girls overall
3) to provide accessible healthcare to the people of Limuru parish
(i.e. within 1-2 day walking distance)
She discussed how more than 80 generous partners had sent over $1 million dollars of drugs and medical equipment and $300,000 of orphanage clothes, books, sheets, towels, etc. And how the three mission teams had brought over another $350,000 in pharmaceuticals and supplies in their luggage. She discussed the addition of Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian to the partnership and their willingness to send a team of 8 doctors, nurses and other health professionals along with an equal size team from the Los Ranchos Presbyterian churches. The commitment of Dr. Richard Afable, CEO of Hoag, to this ongoing project was praised.

Speeches were then given by 1) Elder Peter Kamweru on behalf of Limuru Presbytery thanking God for the gifts of this partnership and asking that it continue to our children's children, 2) Rev. David Dolan on behalf of Los Ranchos Presbytery, who presented gifts to the Vice President of Kenya, the Parliamentarian of Kenya and Limuru Presbytery, 3) Rev. Dr. Donald Oliver on behalf of Hoag Hospital, and 4) Rev. Jerry Tankersley of Laguna Hills Presbyterian Church, who witnessed the founding of the partnership 14 years ago.

Three Scripture readings were given in both English and Swahili and then Rev. Tom Cramer preached the Sermon translated by Rev. Alfred Kangah. Rev. Cramer talked about God's work in the partnership throughout time. His sermon may be found here. [The link opens the sermon in Adobe Acrobat format, which requires the Adobe Acrobat reader, available here for free download. (Opens in new window.)]

We then held an offertory, closing him and all pastors of Limuru and Los Ranchos Presbyteries gave the benediction. The service lasted about four hours, which, in our history, is very short for a dedication. We then had lunch on the go, changed clothes and began treating 350 patients at 8 stations manned by doctors, nurses and health care professionals from both Presbyteries inside the nearby church. Pharmacists then filled the prescriptions from the chancel area. Our mission team saved the day be organizing the crowd into lines and giving the medical team some room to work inside the church. They also played with the children outside and the youth enjoyed several games.

It was a wonderful day of celebration! As our Kenya partners say -- "God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good."