My friend, Mollie (a MOPS leader here in the US), and I traveled to Kenya and Zambia for a 10-day MOPS adventure. Below describes what we were able to do and what we learned on our trip!
Following a short 4-hour nap (for it can be called nothing else) after landing at midnight in Nairobi, the capital, we were off again on a prop-plane adventure to Kitale - a beautiful rural town near the Uganda boarder. It was my first airstrip experience!
After a quick stop at our hotel for tea, we met up with 23 North-Rift Kenya MOPS leaders at a retreat center on the outskirts of town, including our area Kenya MOPS Coach (Pamela) and our MOPS Ambassador (Pastor Sammy). The name of this part of the country (north rift) comes from the Great Rift Valley, a beautiful geological landmark that run through most of East Africa. This region is our most active MOPS region in Kenya, comprising 12 active and dedicated groups.
We had a time of fellowship with these leaders, visiting the animals and nature at the retreat, before sitting down for a leadership training and lunch. Though I have been to Kenya twice before for MOPS, this was my first time meeting many of these leaders, as they have either recently started groups, or were unable to travel to Nairobi to meet me. Included in the group were also five pastors, who either were supporting their home MOPS group or who were interested in starting a new group.
|MOPS leaders posing next to long-horned Ugandan cows|
After much thought and prayer ahead of this visit, we spent most of our time together doing a lesson on basic economics. This might sound a little strange for a MOPS leader training. But based on my previous visits, and listening to many groups' concerns about their inability to market their products or start small businesses, I thought it would be a worthwhile use of time together. With Mollie's and my background in economics and finance, and our leaders' strong desire to fulfill their part of the MOPS mission of equipping moms, we brainstormed ways in which these groups can use their saved finances well to better their families and community. Additionally, we used our time to encourage these leaders and learn more about their MOPS groups. We talked about the global curriculum and the new (to them!) Find Your Fire curriculum, which I recently updated to be culturally relevant to many of our African groups.
|Economics brainstorming at the Kitale resort|
During our time in Kitale, Molle and I also had two visits to local MOPS meetings, where we prayed and encouraged. We were gifted many beautiful items, just like the projects they are so desperately looking for a market for. It was a nice time to learn more about the moms and for them to learn more about MOPS in the US.
|Mollie leading a devotional at MOPS meeting|
|Displaying basket hot-pots handmade by Kitale moms|
Off to Nairobi, I had a short dinner meeting with our two other Kenya MOPS Coaches to plan for the rest of the year - and I am really excited for the work that has already begun over dinner that night! MOPS Kenya has a strong leadership team that is very dedicated, and I'm grateful for these servants of Jesus.
|MOPS Kenya leadership dinner|
We arrived in Lusaka, the capital, in perfect timing - Favour's birthday! We also had a delicious lunch and fellowship at one of our MOPS leader's houses for a great time of fellowship with the coordinators of our seven Zambia MOPS groups.
The following day we met with a larger group of leadership, where Mollie and I had a chance to hear from each of the groups individually - and wow, Zambia is on fire for reaching moms in their country. Many creative outreach programs and a great leadership community that meets together regularly to plan their meetings for the month. We also had a time for Mollie and I to share encouragement about incorporating Jesus into a strong leadership style and how to lean on God despite current circumstances.
|Leadership training, MOPS Zambia|
Finally, we visited a maternity ward that some of the MOPS groups support. It was a stark reminder that there are so many moms in the world that are in a really hard place. Moms that may never hear encouragement or be hugged. Moms that not only don't know the power of prayer, but may never have anyone pray for them. There are moms here that don't even know how they will get enough food to support feeding their babies, as they share a bed with three other women who just gave birth.
|Two moms who just gave birth at the ward, with their babies by their sides|
In less than seven weeks I'll be back to East Africa - Tanzania and Rwanda this time. This trip has a little more personal time built in, but also revolves around opportunities to start three new MOPS groups, as well as provide some much needed encouragement to two of our current groups in these countries! Stay tuned for that update.
Your prayers and support are amazing, and working..... Because our God is so big! These opportunities that he is given me are beyond my greatest vision. He is truly an honor and privilege to serve.