In Dallas

Just letting you all know we have successfully landed in Dallas. Now just customs and we’re done!

Danny Huizinga and the Baylor Men’s Choir, signing off.

Memories from Dubai

We landed in Dubai! Now a two hour layover then a 16 hour flight home.

On the flight here, the flight attendants surprised us and wanted a group picture! We wrote them a card too. It was really fun- definitely an unforgettable memory!

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Last Full Day in Kenya

Today was our last full day in Kenya. It is so difficult to say goodbye after making so many new friends here, but we did so with celebration!

This morning, we went to a Maasai church with Zippy and Daniel Sindiyo, our gracious hosts for the entire trip. We were treated to a beautiful example of Maasai culture, including an invitation to join in and dance! Afterwards, we went to Zippy and Daniel’s house for lunch, where they had generously prepared a giant meal for us and their friends and relatives.

It was a day full of colors, smiles, singing, dancing, and gratitude. What a perfect way to end the trip. Tomorrow afternoon, we head to the airport to board the plane and begin our long flights back across the globe. I’ll send an update when we’re home so you know we’re safe.

To all of you who kept up with this blog during the two weeks, thank you. We really appreciate your love and support and look forward to spreading more stories from the trip in person!

In His service,

Danny Huizinga

 

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Holly Widick & Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Holly Widick & Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Best Safari Pictures

Check out the best safari pictures from some of our awesome photographers!

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Matt Oberhelman

Photo / Chris Pillsbury

Photo / Chris Pillsbury

Photo / Chris Pillsbury

Photo / Chris Pillsbury

Photo / Chris Pillsbury

Photo / Chris Pillsbury

Photo / Chris Pillsbury

Photo / Chris Pillsbury

Photo / Chris Pillsbury

Photo / Chris Pillsbury

Photo / Stephen Mulkey

Photo / Stephen Mulkey

Photo / Stephen Mulkey

Photo / Stephen Mulkey

Photo / Stephen Mulkey

Photo / Stephen Mulkey

Photo / Stephen Mulkey

Photo / Stephen Mulkey

Photo / Stephen Mulkey

Photo / Stephen Mulkey

Photo / Stephen Mulkey

Photo / Stephen Mulkey

 

Camping Out

I now have a free chance to attempt to capture the wonderful experience we had on Monday and Tuesday.

On Monday, we woke up early, at 6:30am, to watch the sunrise at the Tocco’s. It was absolutely stunning. After eating a quick but delicious breakfast, we embarked upon a 5-hour bus ride to a village of the Pokot tribe. They are a smaller tribe in Kenya, and the village was tucked away near a lake in the middle of mountains. The view was gorgeous (see some pictures below and on the previous post).

When we arrived at a school in the Pokot village, we quickly realized that the children could barely understand our English. That was no problem, however, as we soon found how easy (and fun) it was to communicate with smiles and dancing. Even after it began raining, we played soccer, football, and volleyball with the kids. After we sang a bit, they taught us some of their songs as well!

For dinner that night, we were very honored to enjoy a delicious meal prepared by some of the Pokot women. We sponsor an education for six girls from the tribe, and their families were very grateful to us. They killed two goats for our dinner, a great honor. That night, we set up a large screen and showed the “Jesus” movie to the entire tribe (translated to their language). It was clear from their reactions that they were extremely captivated. I cannot even begin to explain how beautiful it was laying out and looking at the clear sky, full of stars. Before we went to sleep in tents in the village, we sang a concert in the dark. It was so difficult to tell who was who, but everyone was dancing, smiling, and singing in Swahili. It was truly an unforgettable moment in which we all felt the power of God.

When we awoke in the morning and climbed out of our tents, the grass was fresh with dew and the sky was glowing with new sunlight. The women prepared breakfast for us and took us around to see their homes. They were very proud of their families and we loved to meet them.

The entire experience was likely the most challenging, yet most rewarding few days of the trip. It is hard going a night without a bed or shower, but we gained so much from the experience. Best of all, we were not swooping in to this tribe and imposing our beliefs. We were understanding their culture. Because we had already developed a relationship by sponsoring some of the girls, they were so grateful to have us as guests. The entire experience was a beautiful example of how God can demonstrate love through “mzungus” to a small Kenyan tribe hidden away in the mountains.

If you know one of the guys on the trip, I would encourage you to ask them about their experience. We all have some wonderful stories to tell. Reflecting Tuesday night, it was clear that we saw God in many different aspects of this trip.

Today, we drove for most of the morning and arrived at Masai Mara, the safari. We are staying at the beautiful Keekorok Lodge and already performed a concert for the guests in the lobby. We have already been on one game drive and have scheduled many more for the next few days. We plan to post the best of the safari pictures on Friday night (Friday afternoon for you), so look forward to those!

Thanks again to all of you for your prayers and support. It really means a lot to us, and we have felt it as we have become closer as a group, making a difference in the lives of those around us.

Thanks to Matt Oberhelman for all the beautiful photos below!

In His service,

Danny Huizinga

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Busy Day of Singing

 

We’ve had an extraordinarily busy two days of singing, likely resulting in the most memorable experiences of the trip thus far. Because we have to wake up very early (5:45) tomorrow morning to start driving to Safari, I’ll save the summary for tomorrow. For now, feel free to enjoy all of the beautiful pictures from the last two days. (All pictures thanks to Chris Pillsbury)

Looking forward to writing a full update tomorrow!

In His service,

Danny Huizinga

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All-Encompassing God

The rains are blessed down in Africa,

Hello my friends, Joshua here. We have been graced with such a variety of experiences over this past week that Tanner and Danny have felt the urge to share their impressions and feelings. That being said, I am glad to be back behind the keys to expand upon our adventures this Sunday; but first, a bit of context.

While staying at the Tocco’s, we have been placed in dorm-esque venues that have several guys to a room. While this is a great community experience, it is not conducive to a reflective or quiet environment. This is not typically a problem during the daylight hours, but can be problematic when it is nighttime and certain members are trying to sleep, while others are not nearly as interested in doing so.

Last night was one such night, and unfortunately, yours truly was involved in the less-than-interested group. This led to a lasting sense of guilt over the insensitivity I had displayed towards my fellow travelmates that carried into this morning. Regardless of whether or not they were deeply upset, I had become stuck in this sense of guilt and selfishness. Seeking to shake this feeling, I awoke around 7am and began to explore this beautiful place in which we were staying.

After a bit of wandering, I climbed atop the water tower (don’t worry mother, it was only forty feet off the ground) and began taking in the scenic overlook that lay before me (see first photo below). I was then confronted by this sense of selfishness that many of us had been battling over the past few days as we viewed the hardships that many Kenyans endure on a daily basis. And as I began to be overwhelmed by this sense of guilt and selfishness over the events of  not only last night, but also those experienced in prior days, God reminded me that he has already taken on the burden of these faults in Christ. Through the serenity of nature and quiet contemplation, he drove me to write this short poem, which hopefully will help combat the melancholy that we feel; and that while these feelings are valid, through Christ these emotions are felled by His healing power.

O, Melancholy:

“O, how the melancholy bird sings,
Wrapping his bitter song ’round mine ear.
Standing enchanted, I repeat his tune,
Only to be filled with unsalted hollowness.
O, Melancholy, where is your sweet melody?
O, Disparity, where is your holy refrain?
Does the bird not sing for companionship,
Nor a man wail for comfort?
They cannot be, for these chords bring naught but freshly turned sod.

O, bird, sing to me sparingly,
For I alone cannot resist your song!
Instead, I wish for you to perch upon my shoulder,
Dig your talons into my flesh,
And labor into mine ear, again and again,
So that I may ne’er forget thy spell.”

This clarity brought forth to me by the silent tranquility of Christ in nature was sharply contrasted (though not entirely dichromatic) by the church service with CuCu and her birthday celebration.

We arrived at PCAEA church (the service is in Kukuyu, the largest tribe in Kenya) around 10:30 am and were greeted by CuCu (pronounced show show) herself. In a few words, Cucu was the grandmotherly matriarch of her area; she is kind, charismatic, vibrant, and full of life. Most amazingly is that today was her 89th birthday! In her community, she is highly respected and loved; bringing forth a love for Christ and others that few are able to match.

As each member of BUMC Kenya entered the humble church structure, she shook each hand and said something unique to each member, even with her limited English. We were greeted with thunderous praise and song as we filled the pews alongside the congregation, feeling the energy of Christ in this place. During the service, the vitality of its people was indescribably contagious, even to the well-recognized introvert found themselves dancing and singing. As we sang to the members, they sectioned off and sang back to us. At one point, even the children performed a highly energized song and dance that brought bright smiles to every face. To summarize this service is a difficult task because of is fast pace and broad spectrum, as it lasted approximately three hours. After several happy birthday tunes and emotional testimonies, we were led to CuCu’s home where the majority of the congregation was meeting to celebrate her birthday with food and companionship.

What a celebration it was! We found ourselves in a cozy home with well-loved pictures and framed quotations that made us feel right at home. CuCu’s family and fellow church members offered us a seemingly endless amount of food and hospitality until our metaphorical and literal cups were overflowing with kindness and drink, including the famous fermented porridge. After a time, we picked up our chairs and relocated outside where we were regaled by stories of CuCu’s kind heart and love for God by friends and even great grandchildren! We felt incredibly honored to be among this loving community while the celebrated the long life of one of their most beloved members. Their hospitality reminded us of Christ’s ability to give freely without thought of the self. These men and women took us in and shared something deeply significant for their community; and what was most amazing was this was all done without even speaking the same language. We are eternally grateful to CuCu and her family for redefining hospitality, and for making us feel loved as brothers and sisters in Christ.

In summation, these are two very different stories of how God choses to reveal himself in our day to day lives. He can chose to be vibrant, eccentric, and colorful; or he could easily chose to be the silent observer, slowly nudging his children towards his healing wisdom. I, as well as many others, rediscovered that God is all-encompassing, and that he knows how to reveal the greatest truths, through seemingly contrasting events. I look forward to hopefully being able to write for my fellow travelers again, but until that time, may God bless you and keep you; and may you never forget that He is in every moment, waiting to walk with you.

I am very, truly yours, and etc.
Joshua

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Chris Pillsbury

Photo/Chris Pillsbury

A Day of Rest

Today, we had a much-needed day of rest, journeying to just outside Nakuru. We were able to see some beautiful Kenya landscapes and really enjoyed some time to relax and hang out together.

We are staying with the Tocco’s, missionaries from America, for the next few days and look forward to some great opportunities to share our music in this part of Kenya. We also had a great chance to reflect on our experiences from the last few days. For now, enjoy some beautiful pictures from today.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support!

In His service,

Danny Huizinga

Photo/Stephen Mulkey

Photo/Stephen Mulkey

Photo/Stephen Mulkey

Photo/Stephen Mulkey

Photo/John Duncan

Photo/John Duncan

Photo/John Duncan

Photo/John Duncan

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Chris Pillsbury

Photo/Chris Pillsbury

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

Photo/Matt Oberhelman

No Desperation, Only Hope

“The world is so big, we are so small – yet God knows our names.” – Class 3 @ the Glorious Kids Centre

We had a really tough day today, witnessing many difficult situations as we traveled to the Glorious Kids Centre and Maji Mazuri.

Trying to use words to describe the our experience today is difficult; in sum, were all quite impacted by the love and dedication of the missionaries we met today. There are so many servant leaders in Kenya serving “the least of these,” even when there seems to be no physical or material gain.  The missionaries dedicate their time and lifestyles to bettering the lives of children and providing hope for their futures.

Mike Wacheira, one leader we worked with today, hosts youth group, dancing, and soccer clinics to engage kids from the community and show them the love of Christ while teaching responsibility.

While doing group reflection this evening, one choir member summed up many of our feelings.

“I expected to see desperation, but I saw only hope.”

Mercy, a woman over the Good Samaritan Orphanage functions as ‘mother’ to around two hundred and fifty children.  We were all inspired by the hope she infused into the lives of all of her ‘adopted’ children.  All were empowered with the belief that with hard work they can go on to be doctors, teachers, or even “the President of Kenya” she says.  Her words are not just platitudes as one of her girls has an interview at Yale University tomorrow, and four others have gone on to receive advanced graduate degrees.

“There are no problems, only challenges.” – Mercy

In His Service,

Chris Pillsbury and Danny Huizinga

(Photo/Matt Oberhelman)

(Photo/Matt Oberhelman)

(Photo/Matt Oberhelman)

(Photo/Matt Oberhelman)

(Photo/Matt Oberhelman)

(Photo/Matt Oberhelman)

(Photo/Matt Oberhelman)

(Photo/Matt Oberhelman)