By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer– When Tara Packer, Founder of the Lighthouse Ridgecrest, originally traveled to Africa in October 2021, it was a mission trip. With her fourth visit in November, this year was to visit her Kenyan family. “We’re really doing family with them,” says Packer. Joining her on the journey were two members of the Lighthouse Tribal Council on their second trip: Jeanne Young and Todd Owens.
There were several complications and cancellations with their original flight reservations so they changed to Qatar Airlines. They flew to Qatar in about 17 hours and during their layover, they prayed over the World Cup. Then they flew to Keyna which took another five hours, landing them at midnight in Nairobi.
Young has been supporting an orphanage in Nairobi since her first visit. Claire runs the orphanage which houses about 60 children. Some of the children are from very poor families who cannot keep them, some are escaping abusive situations, and others’ parents have died. Young took them supplies and clothes and was able to hold babies and hug children. “They sang and did scripture for us because they learn English. It was beautiful,” remembers Young.
Due to the colonial history of Kenya, English is spoken by many. “There are 42 tribes in Kenya, and each tribe has its own tongue. There are many languages, but the main all-inclusive language is Swahili.” Packer has learned many phrases that reflect her heart: Be blessed. I love you. Sleep with the Angels. Praise the Lord. Owens and Young know one or two phrases each. When asked about practical communication, like “Where is the bathroom?” Packer answers, “They call it washroom and they know washroom.” Owens interjects, “It’s a hole in the ground.”
Life in the villages in Africa is quite different than in Ridgecrest. It’s a hard-working life. Packer’s Kenyan sister, Priscilla is a pastor of a village church. She lives in a house made of bricks or cement. “Most of the houses are either mud houses or straw or bricks,” says Packer. The morning can begin with washing clothes for hours in a bucket. “They have no shower; they have no toilet; they sponge bath within that same kind of bucket that they use to wash their clothes.” Packer helped prepare a chicken meal which is the same process they do every time they eat poultry. She says, “I was able to slice the head of chicken off and you have to boil it and you de-feather it. We don’t love it. It’s rough and tough and not tender. It’s so hot. They don’t have air conditioning. They don’t have fans. A lot of them don’t have electricity.”
On this trip, Packer tells us she asked Priscilla, “What can we do for you that would really impact and change your life?” Priscilla told her that her 17-year-old son would have to carry 12 five-gallon buckets of water daily to their house to either cook or clean or shower or do their laundry. “She said, ‘I’ve had this tank here for water but it’s never worked.’ I said, ‘How much would it cost to fix it?’ And she says, ‘About $160.’ So we were able to give her the money and she now has running water at her home. The people in the village that live next to her are coming to her house and she’s able to sell some of that water to help her village and help supplement her income.”
People don’t have vehicles. They walk everywhere or use public transportation, which is also very different from what we experience in the USA. One option is the Boda Boda; a motorcycle. They can fit five to seven people on one Boda Boda. There’s a Tuk Tuk, which is a little motorized vehicle that has one wheel in front and two in the back and is crammed full of people. And there are Matatus which are privately owned mini-buses.
“When we speak at different churches, pastors and other congregations will walk miles to come to that church,” says Young. “We get to meet them and a lot of times we’ll go speak at their churches.” Asked if there was a central theme to their message, Packer replied, “God had put that on my heart for six months before we went to talk about restoration because I felt it here and around the land.” Restoration means to be restored to its original design. “I really believe that God is bringing great restoration amongst the land and amongst us as a people and amongst our families,” emphasizes Packer. “I feel like there is we’re in a season of restoration. I always say that God is talking to us all the time if we’re paying attention if our eyes are wide open and our ears are wide open.” She tells us, “When we go they usually do all their worship in Swahili or their native tongue. And so I bring my little speaker and play a beautiful song called Restoration. When we go speak in a church it’s all of us because we’re all called to go. It’s not about just one person. There’s no ‘I’ in Jesus, there’s only US, JesUS.’
“They are hungry for the power and the fire of the Lord over there. Sometimes in America, I don’t feel like we’re as hungry, but they will walk miles. They will stay for five hours. They’re not looking at their time going, ‘It’s lunchtime, I’m hungry.’ They will stay all day and there is a hunger and a thirst in there to get what they came for.”
When we continue the story next week we will learn about the Lighthouse Touch of Love School in Africa.
The Lighthouse is located at 111 Balsam. Open for prayer and worship Monday-Saturday, midweek service on Thursdays at 7 pm, City Prayer Wednesday at noon, Men’s Group Friday nights at 6:30, and a Grief Group every other Tuesday at 6 pm. Contributions can be mailed, dropped in the donation box, or online with a link on Facebook.