According to our German friends, this winter has been a warm winter. This time last year there were periods of weeks where the temparature never rose above -10°C, some days the maximum temperature was -20°C. This winter we've been braving sweltering temperatures hovering around 0°C, and much to our dismay, there has been very little snow, and none that has settled on the ground. Nevertheless, it's cold! At a time when we're supposed to be having BBQs on the beach, and sitting back watching the cricket, beer in hand, the cold drizzle of Berlin weather takes its toll on our morales. So what better thing to do than to head down to Kenya for a couple of weeks to thaw out!
Our primary reason for going to Kenya was to join the Mavuno staff retreat. Mavuno has about 80 staff members including interns across its campuses. We made the 12 hour overnight bus trip (including a change of buses and a ferry) to Mombasa with the team, and stayed at a lovely resort on the beach. But don't think we were relaxing! A packed program each day starting with breakfast at 7am and activities all the way through to the night kept us very busy. In between activities we did have some brief chances to swim on the beach, and try out full contact water polo which the Kenyans play like their lives depend on it.
The theme for the staff retreat was change, with Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson being the main reading. You would think a church like Mavuno, that has redefined church in such a way that unchurched young adults feel right at home in it with no awkward church culture to get used to before they feel comfortable, wouldn't have to worry too much about changing. In fact it's change that has made them who they are, and as they become a large organisation, they more than anyone else need to be ready to adapt to change as the culture around them progresses forward. Pastor Muriithi posed the interesting question to all his staff, "What if I fired all of you today, what would you do?" He wanted us to think outside the box of our roles in our churches, and see where God has given us passion to serve and flourish.
For us, the big take away was that we need to step up our thoughts for making a night club church, and turn it into a reality. Mavuno has some big visions, they want to plant a culture defining church in every African capital city, and all the gateway cities of the world, by 2035. We shared with the Mavuno team our vision, and now we have the whole Mavuno staff team watching us, waiting to see how it goes. It's exciting, but at the same time scary and overwhelming. We've got no idea what such a church will look like, but at least we know what we want to achieve, we want to create a church that the people of Berlin's clubbing scene will feel 100% at home in.
While the purpose of our trip was to join the staff retreat, we weren't going to pass up the opportunity to see the best that Kenya has to offer... wild animals! We spent three days in the Maasai Mara, observing lions, elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, and the highlight, a cheetah searching for, stalking and then killing a gazelle. Our accomodation was the so called "outdoor" Kenyan experience. For seasoned trekkers such as ourselves, it was a little underwhelming compared the expactions the name conjured up, a better name would be a luxury hotel with canvas for walls. That said, it was very nice, we've never had a hot water shower and flushing toilet en-suite in a tent before!
We also had the chance to go where the tourist buses don't usually go to, that is, to the slums. We visited a Mavuno initiative called Maono, which sets up groups of people that do village banking, so each group has rolling funds that can be used to make micro loans to each other. These groups teach their members discipline and money management skills, as well as give them access to capital for business investments that they wouldn't usually have access to. We also had an opportunity to visit a school that Mavuno supports, and serve the children lunch.
Praise God that:
- We had a safe and enjoyable time in Kenya
- We made some lasting friendships with the very warm Mavuno staff team
- God has fired us up for continued work in Berlin
Pray that God would:
- Help us to not be overwhelmed by the tasks ahead of us
- Give us wisdom on what the next steps forward are
- Help us to settle back into a daily routine
A few more safari pictures, because who doesn't want to see pictures of wild animals!
Beth on Safari
An elephant eating some shrubs
Beth's favourite: some giraffes
A lion cub crossing the road