A Record Mission Team of 35 People Visit PCH in Kenya
June 2014 Mission Trip
In June 2014, thirty-five people from the Southern California region traveled to Providence Children’s Home for ten days. This group is the largest mission team sent to PCH to date and included many youth and young adults, which is also a first for PCH. This group met regularly to plan starting in October 2013 and they raised $44,000 for their projects.
The team constructed two large playgrounds; one for the school and one for the orphanage. This was no easy task, as sand pits with retaining walls had to be constructed and concrete footers poured. There were many obstacles along the way including the need for unexpected funds to complete the project. For a while it looked like this project would not be finished in time. But with the help of local day workers and the hard work and dedication of the mission team men and women who coordinated this effort, it was completed without a day to spare. The dedication of the playgrounds and the faces of the small children climbing on the equipment for the first time will forever be etched in this team’s memory.
Bibles were provided to the twenty-two new orphan girls with their names inscribed on the covers. All the other girls had similar Bibles given to then during the 2012 mission trip, which they still cherish. Each day mission group members teamed up with orphanage girls for worship music, bible study and prayer together as a way to support one another. The close relationships built were very obvious on the last day when it was so difficult to say goodbye.
Students in grades 1-5 participated in art projects, science experiments, and learned new physical education activities. The enjoyment of watching children make and eat ice cream for the first time, learn the game of kickball, have fun with a PE parachute, and use color pencils for the first time was sight that brought tears of joy to the team. Over thirty soccer balls and basketballs were brought and new basketball hoops and nets were installed. Watching the kids play with a new soccer ball was quite the sight to behold when all they had to use for a soccer ball was a filled sock or balled up paper. The team also brought ten cameras and two photo printers that were shared by the older orphanage children. They took photos during the time the team was there and created their own personalized scrap book of memories, something they all cherished.
Many craft projects were organized, but one highlight was bringing t-shirts for the orphanage girls to cut and decorate with ribbon. The girls could hardly get themselves to cut a perfectly good, brand new t-shirt. Understandable when they only have two or three sets of clothes, one of which is their school uniform. The orphanage girls practiced a dance routine and performed for the entire school and five guitars were brought to add to the six existing. Guitar lessons were given daily to almost all the orphanage girls with the exception of the very youngest. The children from the orphanage were also taken on two field trips, one on a hike into the Ngong Hills and the second to the Nairobi National Game Reserve Walking Safari. A highlight for the PCH children on the field trips was having KFC and soda pop. The team also made French toast for the kids one morning. This was quite the change from the daily bread and porridge.
Twelve teachers were a part of this mission team and conducted daily intensive staff development for the Providence teachers, grade 1-8. This was an extension of the teacher training that was conducted during the 2012 mission trip. The PCH teachers learned about Thinking Maps, ELA comprehension strategies and Math skill strategies that have changed the way they think about instruction. Certificates of completion were presented to each PCH teacher and principals who participated in the training. Additionally, class sets of color pencils, pencil sharpeners, water paints and crayons were provide to each class, grades 1-8, including replacement sets. Three Psychologists/Counselors conducted team counseling sessions for the orphanage girls which for some was one of their favorite experiences.
Wiltsey Middle School, in the Ontario-Montclair School District, since starting their journey to become an International Baccalaureate (IB) School, has built a strong relationship with Providence Children’s Home. Ten Wiltsey staff and teachers participated in this trip. Wiltsey students have been pen-pals and Skyped with the school and orphanage children during the past three years, and last year they raised money for a milk cow for the orphanage. As a part of an IB project, a group of Wiltsey students took it upon themselves to raise money and put together a pencil pouch for every PCH student containing two pencils, a pencil sharpener, an eraser, a ruler, hard candy treats and a personal note in both Swahili and English encouraging the PCH students to continue with their education. The theme was “Pamoja”, meaning together. The personal message read “together we can accomplish great things”. What a powerful message and handing these gifts out to over 500 students was like Christmas in June!
After the mission portion of the trip, the team spent four days on safari in Tanzania. They visited the Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks and the Ngorongoro Crater, the eighth wonder of the world. It was amazing to see elephants, giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, buffalo, hippos, baboons and many other wild animals so close and in their natural environment. The highlight was seeing a lion feast on a zebra caught the night before and a cheetah chasing a gazelle right in front of safari jeeps.
This was a trip that will not soon be forgotten by the team. Weeks later, team members still speak about the way it has changed their thinking and their lives, and how PCH is constantly on their minds. The team went to minister and serve, and like so many other mission trip members before them, they came back feeling ministered to, and receiving a blessing rather than being the blessing. Providence Children’s Home is a very special place that will do that to you.
The entire mission team would like to thank the staff and children of Providence Children’s Home for making our team feel so welcomed and for being such an inspiration. On behalf of the mission team and all the children at PCH, we would also like to send out a huge thank you to all of our financial donors who made all these projects a reality. You were with this team in spirit every step of the way and we felt your prayers and support. Without you, none of this would have been possible. God bless you!!!
The 2014 June Mission Team