Photo by Tony Cece

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thursday 8/2

Today is our last day at Into Abba’s Arms (IAA) and we leave for Nairobi Airport tomorrow morning. Saying goodbye is bittersweet. All of us are ready to return to the states and reconnect with our friends and family at home. And yet, we wept as we said goodbye to new friends, mourning the loss of our family here in Kenya.
This morning, we began our final activity with the expectation of another overwhelming day. Following the large numbers at the women’s conference, some of the staff at IAA predicted that our numbers for the men’s conference would be upwards of 500 attendees. The team woke early for breakfast, and prayed during quiet times as we braced for another chaotic operation. However, we were pleasantly surprised when only 58 people showed up for the conference. After a good number of people arrived, we commenced with our presentations on Communication Skills, Conflict Resolution, and Domestic Violence.
Ideally, we would like as many as possible to hear the information we have to present. But in reality, group work is only feasible with a small ratio of attendees to counselors. With a max of 15 people per group, two co-leaders and one supervisor, we accomplished much through meeting small groups. Everyone in the group had the opportunity to share. And the sharing was highly beneficial, as the men in attendance sought better communication with their families and a reduction in domestic violence within their communities.
My group in particular was very active and I learned a lot by listening to the men’s experiences. We had young men and older men in our group, the older sharing wisdom with the younger. We also happened to have two pastors, who served as our interpreters, sharing biblical wisdom for the conflicts presented. 
It was hard for me to understand our cultural differences. The men in our group were part of a new wave of thinking that desires an end to domestic violence and equality within the marriage relationship. However, this ideology is difficult to promote in a culture that promotes battery as apart of the complete submission of a woman to her husband. One of the men remarked, “When a man beats his wife, it shows that he is dominant in his home. He does not want to be seen as weak. He wants respect.” We agreed that respect has to be earned, and if a man loves his wife well, then she will give him the respect he desires. The men were glad to be part of the few actively “planting seeds” in Kikuyu culture, encouraging men to build homes on a healthy relational foundation.
At the end of the day, the trauma team, members of the IAA staff, and the pastors who served as our Kikuyu interpreters came together for a final debriefing session, sharing thoughts and feelings about the past two weeks. The meeting was highly emotional as people shared how much they enjoyed working together. Our work was good for the community and life-changing for members of the trauma team. We were all very humbled that this community accepted us as family and allowed us to serve them with our expertise. We will leave the community deeply assured of the Lord’s presence in our work. Tomorrow we head to Nairobi on our way to Istanbul to rest and play a bit after all the intense work in Kenya.

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