In 2006, members of the Emmitsburg (Maryland) Council of Churches discussed the possibility of developing an international connection to promote the spirit of Christian ecumenism.
Then in the fall of 2007, Joshua Machinga, from the Kiminini/Kitale area of western Kenya, came to visit Emmitsburg. Joshua gave an introduction to his work in teaching sustainable farming and in providing a good education for vulnerable children and orphans in the region. Joshua’s school is called Pathfinder Academy and his NGO in Kenya is known as Common Ground for Africa (CGA).
We learned from Joshua that, although electricity was available, it was very expensive and not reliable in his area. Children often had no lighting with which to be able to study and do homework, and there was no refrigeration. HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Polio and other preventable diseases were common in Kenya and other nations of Africa. Joshua shared his belief that training in the foundations of the Christian Faith can help to develop mutual respect among Kenyans of differing churches and tribes. It was proposed that we, as a Council of Churches, develop a mission service trip to go to Kenya and serve in the name of Christ. In 2008, planning began and, co-organized by Rev. Jon Greenstone from Elias Lutheran Church and Dr. Holly Hoffman from Carlisle, PA, Team Kenya 2009 was born.
Emmitsburg Council of Churches
Team Kenya 2009
was composed of Rev. Jon Greenstone, pediatrician Dr. Holly Hoffman and her daughter Marie, oral surgeon Bill Currie and his daughter Clara, teacher Phyllis Kelly, pharmacy manager Sam Valentine, and nurse practitioner Audrey Hallinan. With their various gifts and skills, God enabled the Team to hold medical and dental clinics serving 1165 medical and 212 dental patients, install a solar well pump that now brings clean drinking water to the school, teach environmental education to the Pathfinder Academy students, give food to 120 families in Tuwani and Kipsongo slums, give out 265 solar flashlights and hold Bible School for the students of Pathfinder Academy. Medication and supplies worth over $17,600 were taken and donated. In addition, Pr. Jon led twice daily devotions and worship; he was a guest on Imani Radio which broadcasts to 7 million listeners in Kenya and Uganda. As the Team departed after their work was done, the children asked, "When are you coming back?" We knew then that God was calling us to be part of an ongoing Kenya Mission.
Team Kenya 2011
The 2011 mission team consisted of returning members Rev. Jon Greenstone, pediatrician Dr. Holly Hoffman and her daughter Marie, oral surgeon Bill Currie and his daughter Clara, and new members Jim and Jeanne Kuhn (computer wizard and teacher), Ibby Tanner (Nursing Professor from Johns Hopkins), Viola Noffsinger (retired teacher), Glenn Blanchard (teacher and city council member), Mark Walker (carpenter/construction expert) and Dr. Michael Lokale, a native of Kitale, Kenya who is currently finishing a family practice training program in the US. With their many gifts, the Team returned to Pathfinder Academy/Kiminini.
With Experience under their belts and a larger team with diverse skills, the Lord used the Team to :
• Install a Solar Electrical System (which provides electricity for the entire Pathfinder School complex)
• Donate a Digital Projector to the school (Pathfinder Academy)
• Provide supplemental history/map/psychology education for students (teacher Glenn Blanchard)
• Make crafts and assemble a quilt kit for 430 students (student Clara Currie)
• Make/distribute over 250 pairs of reading glasses, plus leave materials for 50+ more pair(Jim and Jeanne Kuhn, Mark Walker)
• Donate/distribute over 600 Gideons New Testament Bibles
• Donate/distribute 450+ solar flashlights
• Donate 13 suitcases full of medical supplies
• Donate/distribute 6 suitcases full of medications at medical/dental clinics, plus left supplies and provided training to Headmatron Francesca at Pathfinder Academy for ongoing treatment of minor illness in students and staff
• Donate over $600 worth of medications purchased in Kitale for Sr. Freda’s clinics
• Provide care for over 1160 medical patients between 3 providers (Dr. Holly, JHU nursing professor Ibby Tanner, and Dr. Michael Lokale, Family Practice resident from AZ and “native son” who grew up in Kitale)
• Remove over 230 decayed teeth (oral surgeon Dr. Bill Currie)
• Organize the library at Pathfinder Academy and donate a suitcase full of books (retired teacher Viola Noffsinger)
• Donate 7 fully functioning laptop computers and set up computer lab (computer expert Jim Kuhn)
• Provide Solar Water Disinfection and Oral Rehydration Solution Training to 150 women leaders in 6 village Women’s Groups (student Marie Hoffman)
• Lead daily morning and evening devotions/worship services
• Co-lead Sustainable Agricultural Workshops with up to 35 Women in classes (Pr. Jon)
• Provide power tools and consultation/teaching on construction practices for Common Ground Program (construction guru Mark Walker)
• Meet with Kitale City Officials, exchange of greetings and discussion of commonalities (teacher Glenn Blanchard, who is also an Emmitsburg City Council member)
• Visit with group of handicapped children at St Bridgett’s Academy (Jeanne Kuhn, special teacher for the disabled)
• Provide motivational/educational talks to older students by Kitale native, Dr. Michael Lokale
• Go on follow up visits to Team Kenya-sponsored high school girls, Juliet Mbithe and Abigale Ayiki
• Donate warm clothing and jackets that were collected by the Seton Center in Emmitsburg MD