This past spring break, March 22 through April 1, a group of 30 students from PUC went to serve in Kenya on a mission trip, along with several faculty and staff. The group helped with the construction of a secondary school for women and painting a new non-denominational Bible training center, along with teaching Vacation Bible School at a primary school and assisting in a nearby health clinic.
“It was a spectacular trip! I’m pleased PUC provides many opportunities for students to travel to distant destinations, learn about diverse environments and cultures, serve developing communities, and share their love of God with others,” says Dr. Floyd Hayes, professor of biology, and one of the faculty who went on the trip.
What made this mission trip particularly unique was students could also receive academic credit for either Field Biology or Vertebrate Biology, taught by Dr. Hayes, as the African environment offered a wealth of learning opportunities of organisms, species, and ecosystems, quite different from what students were used to studying in Northern California.
Below, Dr. Hayes shares a few highlights of the trip.
It was a grueling overnight journey by plane, with a brief stop in Istanbul, Turkey. However, we were all excited to be traveling to Africa, which would be a new continent for most of the participants.
After arriving in Nairobi, we traveled on paved and unpaved roads for about eight hours to Mara West Camp, which overlooks the world famous Maasai Mara National Reserve, and enjoyed seeing a lot of wildlife along the way. We stayed in comfortable tents surrounded by wildlife and enjoyed tasty meals in a dining room.
On our first day of mission work, we visited a primary school where the Maasai children cheerfully greeted us with songs. The Maasai people were traditionally semi-nomadic cattle herders, but in the past few decades, they have settled into permanent communities and are still building new schools to properly educate their children for life in a modern world.
We brought along with us some books we donated to the sparsely stocked libraries of a primary school and a new secondary school. They need many more books, which we hope to supply more of during future trips.
During the next four days, we assisted in the construction of a building at a secondary school for women that had just opened in January. The new building would include administrative offices, science labs, and a computer lab. We hope to help them stock their new labs with equipment.
We also assisted with the painting of a new non-denominational Bible training center.
A small crew dug a ditch for water lines. I was proud of how hard the students worked each day while working construction and painting.
Each day a small group of students taught Vacation Bible School to a different group of students in the primary school. Students also assisted in a nearby clinic and a few were especially thrilled to help a woman give birth to a new baby. We all enjoyed making new friends with the Maasai people.
Each evening we enjoyed a campfire and an inspirational worship service led by Pastor Vuong Tran.
We spent two full days on a safari in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, observing Africa’s iconic wildlife including elephants, giraffes, zebras, gazelles, rhinos, hippos, hyenas, jackals, crocodiles, and ostriches. The highlights were a cheetah and a leopard, which are difficult to find.
Interested in getting involved with World Missions at PUC? Stop by the chaplain’s office to talk with Fabio Maia, service and missions coordinator, or you can call (707) 965-7190 or email email@example.com to learn more.
PUC Student Association President Megan Weems spent her summer a little differently than the average college student: she embarked on a nearly 30 hour trek to Maasai Mara, Kenya with others from the PUC family for several days to serve the community there. We asked her to talk about her inspiring experience learning about a new culture and giving back to those less fortunate in our world. Here is Megan’s story.
Our team was comprised of 15 people. We had two doctors, one nurse, one professor, and 11 other people, all who had hearts for service. We left on a Monday afternoon to embark on a long journey from small town Angwin, Calif., to the middle of the Maasai Mara in Kenya. It took one 15 and half hour flight to Dubai, a six hour flight to Nairobi, and then an eight hour safari car ride from Nairobi to the Maasai Mara, our final destination.
We arrived on a Friday, the next day we went to a Maasai Adventist church. On Sabbath afternoon and Sunday we went on a safari around the Maasai Mara, with beautiful views and plethora of animals. After resting up for the few days on the Mara and shaking off the jetlag, the team was in preparation mode for the week to come. We were separated into bush clinic teams, a Vacation Bible School team, and a painting/construction crew. Our group was small but all very driven and excited to be doing our part to help the Maasai community.
We set up five bush clinics while during our time in Maasai Mara. The bush clinics consisted of a team of doctors; Dr. Jonathan Wheeler and his wife, Dr. Julie Perry Wheeler; nurse Francis Aho; and recent PUC nursing graduate Elizabeth Shown. Each day they packed their lunches, put on their scrubs, piled into a safari truck, and drove to a surrounding village in need of medical attention. They offered basic medical checkups,eye checkups, a pharmacy, triage station, and lots of prayer for each Maasai native seen. On a typical day the bush clinic team would see as many as 70 people.
Upon arrival our VBS team first met with the headmaster of the Olosonin Primary school. We discovered the school had over 700 students enrolled and only eight teachers overseeing them. Each morning began with song service led by recent PUC grad Kelly Siegel and myself. Following song service, Dr. Peterson, adjunct professor of music at PUC, would give a Bible story complete with puppets and various instruments. Each day closed with an arts and crafts section which allowed each child the opportunity to create something they could take home. Towards the end of the week the children were excitingly awaiting our arrival at the beginning of each day. At the end of our weeklong program, the children showed their thanks by treating us to a traditional Maasai tribal dance, grabbing our hands and making us join in.
After spending the mornings with the children, we began painting the staff quarters of the first all girls high school in Maasai. Each afternoon we teamed up with a Maasai native, our very own Fabio Maia, the service and missions coordinator at the college, along with five other PUC students. Our crew scraped, primed, and paint the walls. Once school let out, the students would come and dance, sing, and play along as we worked. A great memory for me will always be the Maasai children teaching us Swahili songs, as we taught them English.
Our group was extremely fortunate to have amazing American native hosts. The Aho family are the owners of Mara West (accommodation) and African Missions Services. They run their own community clinic and led our bush clinics. We were blessed to be able to serve the community in the capacity we did and then come back to safe and comfortable accommodations. The Maasai Mara area is blessed to have them and we are blessed to know them.
This trip is something each of us will never forget, and it will stay with us throughout our lives. The PUC missions office strives to create lasting relationships around the world and hopes to return to Maasai Mara soon. The PUC family is expanding from Angwin to all over the world, from Brazil to Fiji and beyond. Now we have just added more beautiful souls, the people of the Maasai Mara.
The group was fortunate enough to go on a safari in the Maasai Mara. We were able to experience and see firsthand the animals of Kenya in their natural habitat. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)
Each day a part of the team went out to the primary school to lead a Vacation Bible School program. The team would sing songs, pray, put on puppet Bible stories, and make arts and crafts with and for the kids. It was a great way to really get the children involved with the members of our missions group to learn and swap stories about faith, love, and life. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)
While distributing donated water filters to community schools on the Maasai Mara, students would charge the truck to see what was happening. Each filter will provide 70,000 gallons of clean water. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)
Dr. Peterson putting a performance to the children during church service. The children were amazed and bewildered at the violin and the sounds that came from it. (Picture by Dylan Turner)
Dr. Wheeler with a patient at one of the clinics hosted with African Missions Services. Dr. Wheeler did general patient checkups while his wife Dr. Julie Perry, an ophthalmologist, did eye checkups. Praying with the patients was one thing Dr. Wheeler made sure to do. There was a translator present for every checkup. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)
Every day at the Olisonoon Primary School, all 705 students eat the same thing for lunch, a corn-based porridge. They stand in line with a cup ready to receive their daily portion. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)
This is the crew that helped in the construction site. Each day this group would prime, paint, and work hand in hand with the local construction workers to finish the new faculty housing for the only all girls high school in the area. (Picture by Esau Gonzalez)
Returning missionaries Kelly (Brazil, nine months), Cristina (Brazil, nine months), and Megan (Fiji, nine months) were the leaders of VBS. This was the end of the first day of VBS with the kids. (Picture by Dylan Turner)