This is the report I wrote to the three groups that gave me the grants that made it possible for me to go minister in Kenya: the Susan Bax Foundation, the International Outreach Granting Group of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and the Youth Opportunity Fund Granting Group of North Pacific Yearly Meeting. I thank God for you all.



Dear Grant Committee,

I would first like to take this opportunity to express my deep and lasting gratitude to you for making my ministry to Kenya possible. I am so thankful for your financial assistance and your prayers while I traveled and spoke to the youth and young adult Quakers from a variety of countries throughout East Africa including Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, and Losotho in addition to our delegation from the Netherlands, Britain, and America. While there, I encouraged the youth and young adults to exercise the gifts of ministry God gave them, to be bold and unafraid, and faithful to their call.

The main focus of my trip was the three speaking opportunities I had at two Quaker conferences in the western provinces of Kenya, one talk on “Women in Ministry” and another on the Quaker Youth Book Project both for the Young Quaker Christian Association of Africa gathering in Bungoma and the third on “Youth in Ministry” which I gave at the youth gathering of East Africa Yearly Meeting (North). All of the talks went extremely well.

For the “Women in Ministry” talk, I first discussed strong women who ministered in Bible times. For the Quakers in Africa, (I had several different nationalities in the audience), the Bible is extremely important. I knew in order to gain their trust, the Bible was where I needed to start. They needed to know women in ministry is Biblical and that God wants them to be in ministry in whatever capacity he has gifted them. I then had a young woman pastor, Jane Muton, from the western provinces join me in order to discuss her experience in ministry and some of the difficulties African women face in obeying their call. Hearing about living examples of people from their own culture already doing ministry was vital as they needed examples close to them to follow. I then talked to the women about the importance of listening to God above humans; that we are responsible to God for the gifts he gave us. I shared with them that all gifts are of the same value whether the gifts are compassion, hospitality, prophesy, or teaching. The important thing is to practice the gift and to not be silenced. Also present was Eden Grace who added to the conversation during our question and answer period by giving further concrete examples concerning supportive husbands within Kenya in response to a question about marriage. I was appreciative of her additional support to me personally and her positive feedback on the talk I gave. Encouraging these women was an encouragement to me. My sisters and I both learned a lot about ourselves and each other that day. I am grateful to have been there with them.

For the interest group on the Quaker Youth Book Project which John Lomuria and I presented together, we discussed what the book project is, the process we’re going through, what our experiences working as a board have been like, and where we are going from here. One of the attendees asked us to read one of the pieces going into the book so we read and discussed one of the board member’s stories on membership in a meeting. As a result, we had exactly the kind of conversation we would like the book to inspire, a perfect and very practical example of how the book can be used after its release. From throughout my time in Kenya, I came to appreciate what this book could mean to the Quakers in Africa. Most Friends in Africa cannot afford to travel much, certainly not abroad but they love having visitors. They loved spending time with and getting to know our delegation. This book will provide a chance for that, for those who will never meet to get to know one another. They will hear stories of other young adult Quakers from around the world. As a result, their points of view and understanding of Quakerism will be greatly expanded. What is more, Friends who have never been to Africa will have the opportunity to hear of the African’s strong faith and to learn about the issues African Quakers are facing. Additionally, I was also very glad to be able to give John Lomuria some emotional support as he has always before been on his own in Kenya while working on our project and he was grateful for my presence.

The third talk on “Youth in Ministry” took place in front of 1,200 youth and young adults from East Africa Yearly Meeting (North). For my Biblical text I used the Joseph story as well as sharing some of my own story, my own struggles as a youth with my call before encouraging them to obey the calls God had placed on their lives, to listen to what God is saying and to not let anyone silence who they are. For me personally, it was one of the highlights of my time in Kenya as the words I spoke became as true for me as it was for them. My talk was to be first thing in the morning so on the drive from where we stayed the night, (I was traveling with three other women), I took the time to talk to God and ask for wisdom and the right words to say to the youth. During our talk, God gave me a thick steel rod core of confidence in myself and himself and an unwavering purpose. Therefore, I took resolute steps to the front of the vast crowd holding the microphone in my hand knowing I was chosen for that task and that God would give me what I needed to complete it. Through that talk, I not only got to touch the lives of many, but I learned to listen to God’s call on my life with confidence and to not let anyone silence me, others or even myself. After the talk, I received good feedback from both the Kenyans and the three women accompanying me. One woman from our delegation said I “rocked the talk”. Even today, that steel rod is still there. I don’t ever expect it to leave. My deep confidence in my ministry and in God’s call on my life is here to stay.

In addition to speaking, I was also part of a delegation from the U.S., the Netherlands, and Britain who visited ministries around Kenya such as the Friends International Center in Nairobi, Lugulu Hospital, an orphanage in Turkana just finishing the process of closing due to lack of funds, and the monthly meeting in Lodwar. With a Quaker guide, I also visited Lindi Friends Primary School in Kibera Slum on the outskirts of Nairobi. Each time we went somewhere, the people we visited with were very grateful we were there. For them, having someone come to visit, to see the ministries with their own eyes, is far more valuable and precious to them than receiving a check in the mail, as important as that also is. It taught our delegation that the most important gift we can give to each other is our time and loving attention. They wanted us to stand witness to their lives and to share with us what they had. Visiting Lugulu Hospital was especially meaningful for me as Reedwood Friends Church, the meeting I first attended, is a strong supporter of that hospital. While there, I saw many things the people of Reedwood had donated and even touched the planted trees with edible leaves they helped pay for. Soon I will be going to Reedwood to share my time at Lugulu Hospital with them. The orphanage also deeply touched me as I saw what a difference such programs can make in children’s lives and what happens to those children when programs aren’t there. There were children hanging around the grounds while we were there, children who keep coming back during the day because that is the only home they’ve known.

Since returning home from Kenya, I have had many people ask me about what being in Kenya was like and what it is like for me to return home. It’s a hard question to respond to as there are so many mixed up emotions, questions, and images within me involved in the answer. While I am adjusting back to such things as the weather, American society, and having around me the blatant materialism I so dislike, there are things I never want to adjust back to such as never taking running water for granted and the knowledge of what life is like for many around the world. I can’t get Kenya out of my head, what I saw and learned there haunts me everyday. My view of the world is much larger than it was before, my sense of the important issues people face is much more realistic, and I now have a better sense of what life, and my place within it, is really like. My time there changed who I am, how I see my own culture, and how I see myself. Here in Oregon I have in some ways felt closed in and while ministering in Kenya, out of my normal environment, I felt the freedom to really explore what being a young adult woman in ministry means for me and what that will look like in the future. I am asking the question, “How am I to integrate what I learned in Kenya into how I live my life, minister, and relate to the people and places around me?” What my answer is will be a continual unfolding, one I am excited to see. I pray my time in Kenya was a blessing to many. I am sure I will never know the full extent of that blessing or the ripple effects it might hold, but I trust God’s work and I am grateful to have been a part of it.

In the coming months, I will be writing and speaking a great deal about my experiences in Kenya. Not only will I be speaking at Reedwood, but I am also speaking at the Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conference as well as writing articles for several Quaker publications. Other speaking opportunities are coming along I am sure, including to North Pacific Yearly Meeting. In addition to these upcoming chances to minister, bonds were formed and relationships begun with people from around the world, relationships that I am looking forward to growing and nurturing in the coming years.

Thank you again for your prayerful and financial support in my ministry to Kenya and to the Quakers of East Africa. My time ministering there would not have been possible without you. I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to fulfill this call and was deeply touched even as I know many other lives were touched by my being there. What this trip will mean for me in the future, how it will direct my life, is yet to be told. Like all things, the journey will be a continual unfolding, one I am looking forward to witnessing, walking, and being a part of.

In Gratitude,
Sarah Katreen Hoggatt

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Walking the Sea

Monday, February 15, 2010

This is the report I wrote to the three groups that gave me the grants that made it possible for me to go minister in Kenya: the Susan Bax Foundation, the International Outreach Granting Group of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and the Youth Opportunity Fund Granting Group of North Pacific Yearly Meeting. I thank God for you all.



Dear Grant Committee,

I would first like to take this opportunity to express my deep and lasting gratitude to you for making my ministry to Kenya possible. I am so thankful for your financial assistance and your prayers while I traveled and spoke to the youth and young adult Quakers from a variety of countries throughout East Africa including Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, and Losotho in addition to our delegation from the Netherlands, Britain, and America. While there, I encouraged the youth and young adults to exercise the gifts of ministry God gave them, to be bold and unafraid, and faithful to their call.

The main focus of my trip was the three speaking opportunities I had at two Quaker conferences in the western provinces of Kenya, one talk on “Women in Ministry” and another on the Quaker Youth Book Project both for the Young Quaker Christian Association of Africa gathering in Bungoma and the third on “Youth in Ministry” which I gave at the youth gathering of East Africa Yearly Meeting (North). All of the talks went extremely well.

For the “Women in Ministry” talk, I first discussed strong women who ministered in Bible times. For the Quakers in Africa, (I had several different nationalities in the audience), the Bible is extremely important. I knew in order to gain their trust, the Bible was where I needed to start. They needed to know women in ministry is Biblical and that God wants them to be in ministry in whatever capacity he has gifted them. I then had a young woman pastor, Jane Muton, from the western provinces join me in order to discuss her experience in ministry and some of the difficulties African women face in obeying their call. Hearing about living examples of people from their own culture already doing ministry was vital as they needed examples close to them to follow. I then talked to the women about the importance of listening to God above humans; that we are responsible to God for the gifts he gave us. I shared with them that all gifts are of the same value whether the gifts are compassion, hospitality, prophesy, or teaching. The important thing is to practice the gift and to not be silenced. Also present was Eden Grace who added to the conversation during our question and answer period by giving further concrete examples concerning supportive husbands within Kenya in response to a question about marriage. I was appreciative of her additional support to me personally and her positive feedback on the talk I gave. Encouraging these women was an encouragement to me. My sisters and I both learned a lot about ourselves and each other that day. I am grateful to have been there with them.

For the interest group on the Quaker Youth Book Project which John Lomuria and I presented together, we discussed what the book project is, the process we’re going through, what our experiences working as a board have been like, and where we are going from here. One of the attendees asked us to read one of the pieces going into the book so we read and discussed one of the board member’s stories on membership in a meeting. As a result, we had exactly the kind of conversation we would like the book to inspire, a perfect and very practical example of how the book can be used after its release. From throughout my time in Kenya, I came to appreciate what this book could mean to the Quakers in Africa. Most Friends in Africa cannot afford to travel much, certainly not abroad but they love having visitors. They loved spending time with and getting to know our delegation. This book will provide a chance for that, for those who will never meet to get to know one another. They will hear stories of other young adult Quakers from around the world. As a result, their points of view and understanding of Quakerism will be greatly expanded. What is more, Friends who have never been to Africa will have the opportunity to hear of the African’s strong faith and to learn about the issues African Quakers are facing. Additionally, I was also very glad to be able to give John Lomuria some emotional support as he has always before been on his own in Kenya while working on our project and he was grateful for my presence.

The third talk on “Youth in Ministry” took place in front of 1,200 youth and young adults from East Africa Yearly Meeting (North). For my Biblical text I used the Joseph story as well as sharing some of my own story, my own struggles as a youth with my call before encouraging them to obey the calls God had placed on their lives, to listen to what God is saying and to not let anyone silence who they are. For me personally, it was one of the highlights of my time in Kenya as the words I spoke became as true for me as it was for them. My talk was to be first thing in the morning so on the drive from where we stayed the night, (I was traveling with three other women), I took the time to talk to God and ask for wisdom and the right words to say to the youth. During our talk, God gave me a thick steel rod core of confidence in myself and himself and an unwavering purpose. Therefore, I took resolute steps to the front of the vast crowd holding the microphone in my hand knowing I was chosen for that task and that God would give me what I needed to complete it. Through that talk, I not only got to touch the lives of many, but I learned to listen to God’s call on my life with confidence and to not let anyone silence me, others or even myself. After the talk, I received good feedback from both the Kenyans and the three women accompanying me. One woman from our delegation said I “rocked the talk”. Even today, that steel rod is still there. I don’t ever expect it to leave. My deep confidence in my ministry and in God’s call on my life is here to stay.

In addition to speaking, I was also part of a delegation from the U.S., the Netherlands, and Britain who visited ministries around Kenya such as the Friends International Center in Nairobi, Lugulu Hospital, an orphanage in Turkana just finishing the process of closing due to lack of funds, and the monthly meeting in Lodwar. With a Quaker guide, I also visited Lindi Friends Primary School in Kibera Slum on the outskirts of Nairobi. Each time we went somewhere, the people we visited with were very grateful we were there. For them, having someone come to visit, to see the ministries with their own eyes, is far more valuable and precious to them than receiving a check in the mail, as important as that also is. It taught our delegation that the most important gift we can give to each other is our time and loving attention. They wanted us to stand witness to their lives and to share with us what they had. Visiting Lugulu Hospital was especially meaningful for me as Reedwood Friends Church, the meeting I first attended, is a strong supporter of that hospital. While there, I saw many things the people of Reedwood had donated and even touched the planted trees with edible leaves they helped pay for. Soon I will be going to Reedwood to share my time at Lugulu Hospital with them. The orphanage also deeply touched me as I saw what a difference such programs can make in children’s lives and what happens to those children when programs aren’t there. There were children hanging around the grounds while we were there, children who keep coming back during the day because that is the only home they’ve known.

Since returning home from Kenya, I have had many people ask me about what being in Kenya was like and what it is like for me to return home. It’s a hard question to respond to as there are so many mixed up emotions, questions, and images within me involved in the answer. While I am adjusting back to such things as the weather, American society, and having around me the blatant materialism I so dislike, there are things I never want to adjust back to such as never taking running water for granted and the knowledge of what life is like for many around the world. I can’t get Kenya out of my head, what I saw and learned there haunts me everyday. My view of the world is much larger than it was before, my sense of the important issues people face is much more realistic, and I now have a better sense of what life, and my place within it, is really like. My time there changed who I am, how I see my own culture, and how I see myself. Here in Oregon I have in some ways felt closed in and while ministering in Kenya, out of my normal environment, I felt the freedom to really explore what being a young adult woman in ministry means for me and what that will look like in the future. I am asking the question, “How am I to integrate what I learned in Kenya into how I live my life, minister, and relate to the people and places around me?” What my answer is will be a continual unfolding, one I am excited to see. I pray my time in Kenya was a blessing to many. I am sure I will never know the full extent of that blessing or the ripple effects it might hold, but I trust God’s work and I am grateful to have been a part of it.

In the coming months, I will be writing and speaking a great deal about my experiences in Kenya. Not only will I be speaking at Reedwood, but I am also speaking at the Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conference as well as writing articles for several Quaker publications. Other speaking opportunities are coming along I am sure, including to North Pacific Yearly Meeting. In addition to these upcoming chances to minister, bonds were formed and relationships begun with people from around the world, relationships that I am looking forward to growing and nurturing in the coming years.

Thank you again for your prayerful and financial support in my ministry to Kenya and to the Quakers of East Africa. My time ministering there would not have been possible without you. I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to fulfill this call and was deeply touched even as I know many other lives were touched by my being there. What this trip will mean for me in the future, how it will direct my life, is yet to be told. Like all things, the journey will be a continual unfolding, one I am looking forward to witnessing, walking, and being a part of.

In Gratitude,
Sarah Katreen Hoggatt

Labels: , , ,

1 Comments:

At February 16, 2010 at 11:22 AM , Blogger Anna C-E said...

Sarah, I really appreciate reading this letter. Thanks for posting it. It's so wonderful to hear your reflections (and I also enjoyed reading the posts throughout the trip). Just this weekend I was thinking back to my wonderful birthday celebration with the group before you set out for Western Province. Thanks for your honesty and care in sharing your gifts and ministry. Blessings in your continued journey! -Anna

 

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