by Christian Yoder, MITS administrative coordinator
It smelled like earth and tasted of chai. It dressed in bright fabrics and knew the meaning of hospitality.
It has lively music and busy streets, with chapatti on every corner and some of the best mangos around.
It was a place I’d never been, which felt new and exciting, but it also brought memories with it.
Dr. Chad Stephens had his work cut out for him when he agreed to visit our Eastleigh Centre and provide medical aid to street kids. Many children on the streets have dire needs—gangrene, raw flesh, wounds that are three years old, cleaned and dressed, again. Due to lack of access to clean facilities or knowledge of proper wound care, they'll return to the centre with these same festering wounds multiple times. Our Eastleigh Centre staff have basic first aid training and can provide wound care, but it is rare for a doctor to visit the centre.
Over the past three weeks as a teaching intern in Kamulu, I’ve experienced much joy, strength, doubt, love, belonging, peace, pain, forgiveness, confusion, and divine faith. Jesus is so present in all things and at the center of all things. Our days begin and end with Him.
Last week, I had the most incredible opportunity to venture into the streets around Eastleigh for a base walk. Bases are areas throughout a city where street children will gather to live. It was my first time ever visiting a base and since then, I am forever changed. I loved watching the MITS team enter this base with such confidence and grace. It is so evident how much this team has compassion and adores these street children. It’s absolutely wondrous to see the way these kids are being embraced by the love of Jesus that this team effortlessly radiates.
We visited a base known as “Black Army”. It was a truly a gift being able to spend time with about 15 boys from the Black Army base. This base has no electricity and clean water, and is situated adjacent to a mound of trash that they use for resources. The boys have pitched tarps up against a large brick wall in order to create tents where they sleep. On this particular Friday, the team greeted the boys with open arms as though they were already family. We sat with them and chatted for some time. Next, a couple team members gave a short lesson on washing techniques as well as a lesson on first aid (in case someone gets injured at the base). Teachings like this may seem small, but they are incredibly practical for these boys to know to use in their everyday lives. Finally, other team members read scripture and gave a short message of encouragement for the boys. We prayed, shared snacks, and said our goodbyes.
Experiencing a base for the first time, seeing where these boys live, and learning how a base functions, I am left in awe. I am sure of one thing - these team members love, serve, and care for these boys as though they are brothers. They are the hands and feet of Jesus as they enter these bases. They plant the seeds, and faithfully water and nourish as they continuously come back to establish deeper and deeper relationships with these street children.
Many of the students at MITS were rescued from a base before coming to school here. After spending time with the boys of Black Army, it is overwhelming to comprehend how my current MITS students have come so far in a matter of just 2 or 3 years. Since this walk, I look at them with completely different eyes and I’m able to understand them on a radical level.
Jesus has provided me with strong relationships with many of the students. I have been gifted with sweet talks with some of the girls I’ve built friendships with about what their lives looked like before entering into MITS. We have quickly opened up with one another and have shared precious times giggling, questioning, singing, crying, and simply just sitting. My heart overflows with joy at the transparency within these beautiful connections. They’ve revealed the sorrow-filled struggles they faced on the streets and what base-life was like. My heart hurts for the ways that some of them were treated; and what they went through as a 10-year-old running away from home, jumping from base to base, fleeing when it was no longer safe. These stories capture heavy, unthinkable pain; yet exposed beneath the surface is much rejoicing in their Savior who has brought them out of their old ways of living.
After unraveling my thoughts and feelings, stepping back and examining how much these girls love and trust the Lord after everything they've seen and gone through, I am confident that He is not done working, and for that, I am not done waiting. I wait upon you Lord and trust that You are working and You are present. He has given us life to live to the fullest; and wow is life so full here in Kamulu. Life with Him is dependable and consistent. Because of this, these precious ones are growing into brave, wise, strong, extraordinary sons and daughters of the King.
Growing up at Otter Creek Church, I had heard of MITS for most of my life.
In 2016, I was able to visit for the first time and meet the beautiful staff and students. During this first visit, I met Quinter, a student with a young daughter named Shania. I fell in love with these two and was honored to become their sponsor.
This past summer, I spent three months at MITS. I often say that God holds MITS in His hand and close to His heart. God is actively working through the staff and students at MITS and you can witness His glory on a daily basis.
Seeing how MITS has walked alongside this young mother and daughter has been a powerful experience. Quinter and Shania are constantly surrounded by loving staff who wish to see them succeed. I am so thankful God placed MITS in Quinter and Shania’s paths and I am humbled to be a small part of their journey.
Want to learn more about Winn's experience in Kenya, working with our students as a therapist? Listen in to her interview on the Core Stories podcast.
In this season of giving, we are celebrating those who have given their time, love, and support to the work we've been doing over the last 22 years. Today we're sharing the story of Bill and Nell Rider, who first started visiting MITS 20 years ago!
Tell us about your visits to MITS over the years.
We visited MITS in 1997. It wasn't called MITS at the time, but the program was just getting started. The Coulstons were at KCITI and running a day school for street kids. We were there for 2 months. We taught some classes for the street kids and worked with the KCITI students some. I helped build a water heater for the boy's shower and worked on electrical projects. Nell altered clothes for boys, cut boys hair, treated them for head lice.
In 2005 we returned to MITS for a month. I taught woodworking, agriculture, and researched, designed, and supervised the building of the first metal hen house for laying hens. Nell worked with skills classes in tailoring, hair salon, and catering.
In 2006 we spent another month at MITS. We brought several computers and software funded by my Rotary Club to establish the "Virtual Library" for MITS. I taught woodworking building tables for sewing, dining hall, and classrooms. I also helped build the second hen house, and worked on ag projects while Nell worked with the skills and taught Bible classes.
In 2011 we returned for another month's stay. I taught woodworking, mainly concentrating of teaching how to build beds, chest of drawers, and fold down sofa. Nell again taught cooking and other skills topics.
Wow you've visited a lot over the years! What caused you to first want to get involved?
We first met the Coulstons when they lived in Redwood City several years before they went to Kenya. After I retired, we decided to volunteer to work with the Coulstons at their street school. Based on our experience, the Rotary Club got interested in helping us fund projects at MITS. The projects were: virtual library computers and software, hen houses including chicks and feed, complete set of major woodwork shop power tools, street teen mothers pilot project funding, major clinic funding, lumber and supplies for furniture building class, general support funds.
We asked MITS sponsor, Jody, why she and her family have chosen to support the life and education of Paul, a MITS student. Here's what she said:
"My daughter, Hillary, and I have sponsored Paul Njorge since 2012. We meet Paul on a two-week trip to MITS with the University Church Youth Group. Paul was the first student I met when we arrived in Nairobi. He decided to sit by me on the bus as we traveled from the airport to Kamulu. All I wanted to do was rest after the long flight, but Paul had other ideas. We talked the entire bus ride and that was all it took for me to fall in love with this young man. At the end of the second week, I was honored to baptize Paul. We stayed in touch during the following year through letters. The following year Hillary returned for another two-week trip. During that trip she got to spend a lot of time with Paul, and he even joined her for a day in the city for her 16th birthday. The two share a very special bond and truly consider each other as family. After seeing how such a small financial contribution can change a life, I can't imagine not sponsoring."
If you're interested in learning how you can sponsor a student, visit our Sponsorship page.
We asked MITS sponsor, Leigh Anne, why she and her family have chosen to support the life and education of Zera, a MITS student. Here's what she said:
"My family has sponsored Zera Atieno since Summer 2014. I met Zera when I was teaching at MITS during the 2014 summer break. She was in my middle level math and library classes and I fell in love with her immediately. My family has always loved helping people, but sponsoring Zera is more personal than just helping someone-we get to be a part of her life. We have the opportunity to help MITS provide her with a future. We feel so blessed to be able to watch her grow and learn, especially in her relationship with Christ. The pride we feel in Zera and her accomplishments is indescribable."
If you're interested in learning how you can sponsor a student, visit our Sponsorship page.
The summer months are visitor season at MITS, as well as a time to welcome new students to Kamulu! It's exciting for our students and staff to have visitors because the students have new friends to play with and our staff members have helpers in the classroom and in the kitchen with the day to day tasks. Our groups who head out to the Eastleigh center also get to see the transformative power of Christ as He works through our Eastleigh staff.
To our visitors who will be joining us this summer (or already have), Karibu! Karibu is 'welcome' in Swahili, and the MITS family is ready to welcome you to Kamulu.
We are also excited to welcome new students to the MITS campus! We have welcomed 15 new students - 7 boys and 8 girls - this month, and we look forward to seeing what God will do in their lives at MITS and after.
Have you visited MITS before? Will you visit for the first time this summer or are you a seasoned vet? Tell us about your experience and how you saw God at work! Tell us what you're excited to do and to see. But most importantly, know that there is always a place for you in the family of Christ.
When you do this for 20 years, you're bound to pick up a few stories and lessons along the way. Thoughts, impressions, news, and highlights from our staff, visitors, donors, students and alumni.