Provisional Satellite campus at Samburu: On Friday November 8 a team of five faculty members who included the Principal, Robert Wafula; Campus Minister, Martin Simiyu; the Academic Dean, Rodgers Wekesi; Health and Wellness instructor, Nancy Wafula; a lecturer from Nairobi satellite campus, Mark Yabwesa; and Phillip Saina, our college driver spent the weekend of November 8-10, 2019 in Samburu Friends Mission station. We were received at the Seasons Hotel in Maralal town on Friday evening. On Saturday morning we had a challenge crossing over a seasonal river to the mission headquarters at Loltulelei. The water had risen beyond expectation but we managed to make it across. We re-launched a cohort training class for the certificate in Pastoral ministry. Thanks to Samburu Friends Mission Director, Sammy Letoole who received us and made us feel at home away from home. Other leaders who attended the Launch Nov 9 were Phillip Lelelit, Samburu Friends Mission board chair and his counterpart, John Lomuria of Turkana Friends Mission.
I was thrilled to meet Pastor Michael Wasike, my former classmate at FTC (class of 1985). Michael and Edward Mukongolo are now the longest-serving missionals in Samburu Friends Mission. Together with Pastor Isaiah Bikokwa (retired), they planted the first church at Upper hill that has now given birth to 9 more churches. Sadly, more than a decade ago, the conflict between the Samburu and West Pokot ethnic groups left the very first clinic standing in ruins on the Upper hill plot to this day. This was my second visit to this property and it was not a good sight to behold. However, to enforce a sign of ownership, the leadership of Samburu Friends Mission has recently made an effort to fence off the property. But above all, I like the synergy at Samburu Friends Mission. A combined effort of the missionaries, Micheal Wasike, Edward Mukongolo, and homegrown male and female pastors led by Sammy Letoole (director); Rosina Lepariyo (bachelor's degree student at FTC) and many others have initiated projects which include a Clinic with maternity wing; primary and girls boarding school at Loltulelei; a building with 7 business stalls at Loosuk (construction in progress) etc. On Sunday, November 10, we joined Lorian Friends Church for worship service. The message was brought by Pastor Martin Simiyu, FTC Campus Minister. He drew his message from Matt. 6:19-21. The church building looks a little improved from when I saw it last year. It has a roof but the walls and floors are earth and dusty. We gave a gift worth 10 bags of cement for the concrete floor.
It was all joy as we launched a theological training cohort on that Saturday. Students drawn from 10 Samburu Friends churches together with their teacher, Pastor Mark Yabwesa from Nairobi approached the altar for a blessing from God to begin their certificate in the pastoral ministry program of study. The Program began with the first two courses, Introduction to Quaker Theology and Introduction to Christian Theology facilitated by Pastor Yabwesa. When I called Mark a few days ago for feedback, he told me he had the best experience he has ever had in the history of his teaching. “I actually had three classes in one,” he remarked. “Among the 17 students, there were some who understood the English language well, others who understood Kiswahili well but no English, but there were also those who neither understood English nor Kiswahili.” Wow!!! “How did you handle it Pastor Yabwesa?” I asked. “I introduced translation partners within the class and at 3 pm I divided students into groups where they discussed the material covered in class. They did this in their local language with the help of those who understand English well. When they came back to class, everyone’s teeth were out with joy because now we were all on the same page,” he said. This is a new teaching methodology everyone who aspires to teach in a different culture needs to grasp. He set the exam in Kiswahili and, guess what? everyone passed!!!!
Besides classroom teaching, Mark also managed to attend two cultural activities in the community. He attended a Samburu traditional wedding and an initiation ceremony. A rite of passage known in the Maasai community as Moranism (becoming of age) for young men. Mark confided that six prospective students missed out on enrollment for the class due to these ceremonies. Sammy Letoole added to say, “In fact, the class could have been bigger with over 20 students had it not been for some prospective students who had taken their cattle to faraway locations for pasture. They returned when the class was two weeks in session.” Sammy assured them that they will enroll next time we have another cohort.
We continue to be so grateful to the Sarrin Fund for providing funding for this satellite experience, Sarrin covers most of the costs for our pastoralist students (Turkana, Samburu, Maasai). It would not happen otherwise. The Sarrin Fund provides continual support to the FTC student body allowing students to attend by paying for half of each Friends Student's tuition.
Peace to you Friends.