A team of 13 people traveled to Mission of Hope’s Joska Farm in Nairobi, Kenya, in March on a 10-day trip with Agri-Stewards of Lebanon, Ind., with “grand plans of planting nearly 30 acres,” said outreach leader Brian Smith. “But God had something else in mind.”
Agri-Stewards, a non-profit founded to teach “Farming God’s Way” principles to families and communities in third-world countries, has sponsored many such trips to Kenya, and last year arranged the donation and transport of a container of mechanized farming equipment – including a tractor — to the farm. But the team’s plans to put the tractor to work this year were halted by unexpected early rains totaling nearly five inches over three nights.
“Our plans would have allowed only a couple of days’ work at the farm at Joska with the ag team, with the majority of our time spent at Ndvoini and the 24 acres,” said Brian. “We quickly had to draw up a new game plan. We firmly believe that God’s desire for us was to work side-by-side with the MoHI farmers.”
So instead, the group cleared and planted two greenhouses, repaired the tractor, planted fruit trees, mulched, started a compost pile and started planting sweet potatoes.
“All of this work with the Joska team led to numerous teaching opportunities explaining the advantages of conservation agriculture versus the traditional Kenyan farming methods,” said Brian.
Team members also had various opportunities to share with the science and agriculture classes at Joska about careers in farming and bee-keeping.
“Our goal is to broaden the minds of the girls that farming is not just swinging a hoe in the hot sun,” said Brian. “There are multiple opportunities to use math and science in the field of agriculture.”
The team was also able to broaden its ministry to the young women of Joska on this trip through Bible lessons and craft projects presented by a teacher, Jodie Lamb, and a nurse, Betty Brandenstein, who accompanied the group.
“Jodie and her assistants did a wonderful job sharing with 250 high school girls how God loves and cares for them,” said Brian. “They combined Bible lessons with crafts to build up and encourage the young ladies, some of whom have come through very difficult experiences while growing up in the slums of Nairobi.”
As always, the team members felt that they were the ones who received the blessings on the trip.
“We were all touched by the stories we heard, and saw how God is at work through MoHI, transforming the Mathare Valley,” said Brian.