Tuesday morning, after my stirring devotion and after we had all eaten breakfast, we wandered over to Pastor Joseph’s church. Originally there was supposed to be a huge meeting of all of the area tribal leaders; 100 men had been expected. We were going to share with them the disease prevention we had taught at Mosiro. However, something had come up and if I can recall correctly the leaders all went to a nearby city for their conference. Remember this was Kenya; it wasn’t like anyone had booked the hotel months in advance and put down a deposit.
Within days of this change of events, Pastor Joseph and those working with him had spread the word among the area youth asking them to come and hear our teaching. The turnout was nearly 50 kids, ranging in age from 12 to 18. With no other buildings in sight, these teenagers came walking from miles around, in pairs and small groups.
It was amazing getting to know them. Some of the young men had plans to attend the university in Nairobi. The young women too had dreams for their futures, futures that they hoped would differ greatly from their mothers. We showed the older kids a graphic video demonstrating various STDs and what the consequences of them would be. Several members of our team then shared their own personal experiences. Finally we answered all of their questions.
Here these young people are living half way across the world but they are still so much like American kids. “If I don’t have sex with my boyfriend will he break up with me?” “Can I get pregnant the first time I have sex?” “Can you transmit HIV by oral sex?” I kid you not, these kids could have been living in the US just as easily as Kenya.
At the end of the day, we passed out the purity necklaces and accompanying covenant. Way back the winter before, Val and I had made several dozens necklaces; I had my Sunday school students making them too. With each necklace came a card, signed by the person who had made it, with a statement that the person who had created the necklace would pray for the recipient, praying that they would stay pure until marriage. When each African youth received their necklace, they signed the card also, vowing that they would abstain from intercourse until married.
This is Kari with Helen, Jacquelyn and Frederick, all sporting their purity necklaces. I don't know why, but I just love this picture. Something about how innocent they are.