Thursday, October 27, 2011

Everything Coming to Fruition

My journey with Daraja has been incredible to say the least. When we found out in May about the prospect of tour being canceled this year, I would have never guessed five months later I would be okay with that outcome. Since my last posting on September 14th, the travel situation for the Kenyan kids became a roller coaster ride. I hesitated posting frequent updates because things were constantly changing and felt it would be best to wait until a final decision was made. So, to the best of my abilities, I will explain what happened since that last posting.

The day after we got the letter of approval from the PS (Permanent Secretary) of Education, we were then required by the Embassy to have the letter signed by the PS of Children’s Court. We had no reason to be concerned about obtaining this signature because we had been in communication with this PS, and he had previously agreed to sign the letter once it was written and signed by the PS of Education. So, as you can probably guess, without any explanation, the PS of Children’s Court refused to sign the letter. We proceeded to take the letter to his superior who then granted us permission (Very strange, I know). Now all that remained was to schedule an appointment with the U.S. Embassy and have them issue the Visas for the kids (NOTE: In the five years of Daraja choir tours our visa request had never been denied by the embassy). On September 27th we were told by the embassy that they could not schedule the appointment until October 12th…yet another delay.  This delay meant the 410 Bridge would have to cancel all the worship services scheduled between the 27th of September and October 12th. After a day of discernment and prayer the 410 staff decided to move forward with the tour and prepared for the kids to now arrive here on October 18th. On October 12th we were told by the embassy that they would not be issuing visas for the kids.

There are certain speculations as to why the embassy made this decision, but I was encouraged by the fact that God made it clear that the tour was not to happen this year.  The obvious question most of us had was why the Lord chose not to make it clear on the 27th of September (or back in May for that matter) that this was not His will. I can tell you that after going through these last five months, I am confident in my answer to that question. From a personal standpoint, I have grown so much in my faith over these last five months, and as a Daraja body, we have been given so many opportunities to glorify His Kingdom during this time of waiting.

In closing, I want to thank you again for all the support you have given me during this season with Daraja. I’m not sure where the Lord has me next, but I am confident/excited because I know He is good and He has a plan for me!  Sorry for the length, but thanks for taking the time to read through it. Hope to see you soon.

-Dan Young

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Letters Got Signed!!!

Yesterday, September 13th we got the news that the Permanent Secretary of Education in Kenya signed the letters giving the kids permission to travel to the U.S. This is a huge step and the step that we have been stuck on since May when he didn't give us permission. So PRAISE THE LORD!!!!!

As I talked about in my last posting, this is something we have been praying for all summer and although it has been hard to see at times, the Lord has been working continually throughout this process. But with all that said, we still have a few more steps to get through before the kids will be heading over here. Passports and visas are the two biggest logistical things we need to pray for at this point but more importantly to continue to pray that the Lord's will be done in all this.

We are all meeting in Atlanta to start training this Sunday the 18th, and the plan is to get the kids here during the week of the 25th. Thanks again for your prayers and support. We shall talk soon!!

Mimi Kujisalimisha,

Dan Young

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Daraja Update

It has been over three months since my last post but while I haven’t been posting much, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a lot going on with the choir. As I explained in my previous post about the travel situation with the kids, it has been a battle all summer to try and make tour happen.  As the summer months passed, the 410 Bridge (the ministry that started Daraja) made the decision to cancel the Summer tour and focus on making sure the Fall tours happen. Since I’m only working with the choir in the Fall and Spring, I remained hopeful that by the time Fall tour was set to begin everything would be worked out. Unfortunately, that has not been the case, but I would not trade this uncertain time for all that the Lord has been teaching me about trust and surrender.

Over the last month, there have been many days where I felt that tour was not going to happen and though that is still a possibility, the Lord continues to show up and provide hope. Currently, I feel we are very close to getting the approval from the MOE (Ministry of Education) and the documentation in order, which will allow the kids to travel and tour to happen! BUT as I have learned throughout this process, God is good and while this is not easy, I know his plan could entail tour being canceled. With that being said, the door has not been shut yet, so we will continue to pray that God will receive glory through making the tour happen! On the logistics side of things, the 410 staff has decided to push back the start date of tour, so instead of leaving this weekend the 10th, we now are looking to the 18th as the hopeful start date.

As some of you may know, this has not been the easiest of times for me, but as I said earlier, God is good and I’m behind him 100%. I want to thank you for your prayers and encouragement throughout this process. I cannot even begin to tell you how much it has meant. Obviously, I will be updating you as we move forward so if you would like to put your email in the “Follow by Email” box on the left side of the page, it will send you an email anytime I update the blog. Anyway, that’s all for now!

Also, here is an Intro video for the tour this year. Pretty awesome! Daraja Intro

Mimi Kujisalimisha (I surrender),

Dan Young

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Daraja Kids Travel Situation

The process of getting the kids to America for tour can be very challenging and is a long and strenuous process. Unfortunately, the current Ministry of Education in Kenya has not provided permission for the Daraja Choir to travel to the U.S. this year. This is the first year that we have had to deal with the Minister of Education directly.  In years past, the government has been supportive of the children coming to the U.S. to tour. We need the Minister of Education to write a letter for each kid participating, and we will then take these letters to the embassy to get temporary grants for them to come to America. The Summer tour is supposed to have already started, and we have had to cancel a few concerts because the kids have not gotten proper documentation to travel. While we understand that the government have the best interest of the kids at heart, we've seen the positive impact that the Daraja tour can have on their lives and their hunger for education. We are working several different avenues to resolve the issue, but we need your help.

We would love for you to pray for this situation right now in Kenya. God is up to something BIG and has involved Daraja. We want to be faithful to what He is doing and not be limited by our own sight, while giving Him the glory every step of the way. I will keep you updated on the situation as the weeks progress.

-Dan Young

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Trip to Kenya with Daraja

The following is an overview of my trip to Kenya. I want to thank all those who have supported me in prayer and financially throughout this process!

The Daraja team, which consists of 26 members (4 tour leaders, one trip leader and 21 interns) left from the Atlanta airport on May 15th and headed to Kenya. After a full day layover in Amsterdam, we flew eight more hours to Nairobi airport in Kenya. We arrived there in the morning and proceeded to get on a bus and drive six hours to our first stop in El Doret. When we got to El Doret we went to visit a school called The Emmanuel School. They have about 900 students at this school ranging from 8 to 18 years old. The purpose of our visit was to see what a typical day in the classroom looks like for children in Kenya. This school had six main subjects taught at every level. They consisted of English, Swahili, Math, Science, Geography and Bible. It was cool to see that the majority of the students enjoyed studying Bible and English.
After spending about an hour in the classroom, we then took seven kids who participated in Daraja's choir last year to an overlook as seen below:

This picture doesn't do the view justice

It was such a beautiful view and so incredible to see God's creation stretch as far as my eyes could see!

After getting much needed sleep in a hotel in El Doret that night, we woke up early and headed to Kwambekenya where we visited three schools that all had former Daraja Choir kids. I got to spend a good amount of time with Mahinda and Emma (see below), who were both in the Daraja choir last year. They both spoke very good English and from what I had heard, they both have emerged as leaders in their classrooms since coming back from the Daraja tour six months ago. As you can see in this picture, Mahinda and Emma have such a peace and joy about them, which is such a testament to the Lord's work in their life!

After our visit to Kwambekenya, we headed to Ngaamba which was where we would spend the next five days of our trip. Our mission in Ngaamba was to visit all the homes of the 48 new members of Daraja's 2011 choir. Each day we split up into teams of five accompanied by Kenyan Daraja staff who helped us talk to the families and thank them for letting their kids come to America with us. Here is a picture from left to right of Cornelius, Paul and Lucky. These three kids will be on Daraja tour in 2011 for the Summer and Fall. My team visited their homes during our first full day in Ngaamba.

The purpose of these home visits was to develop a relationship with the Daraja children's families, as well as to get pictures for each kid to show their host families when they are in the United States on tour. This was definitely the most enjoyable part of my trip to Kenya. In every home we visited, we were served above and beyond what I would have imagined. One family made us chapati bread and slaughtered a goat, both of which are considered luxury dishes and are only eaten once a year. It was incredible to see the kids faces light up when we got to their homes. They could not wait to show us around their house and for us to see all their chores that they get to do. Here are some pictures of their  homes:

Paul at his house

Paul collecting firewood

Paul's bathroom

The five days in Ngaamba were incredible to say the least. I felt the Lord taught me so much about simplicity and service during my time in Kenya and gave me such a new perspective on life. After going to Kenya and experiencing the lifestyle of these special kids, I feel much better equipped to go on tour in the Fall and Spring.

As you might already know, this was a very fast process for me and it was truly the Lord's calling to get me on this trip and involved with the Daraja Children's Choir. Again, I am so thankful for your prayers and financial support, because I truly would not have been able to go without you. The great part about all of this is this is just the beginning! Tour will start for me in the Fall and continue through the Spring so I would ask that you keep me in your prayers. I created this blog so that we can stay in touch throughout my experience. Starting in the Fall, I will be providing updates along with pictures of everything going on during tour. I will be in the Midwest for the Fall and California for the Spring. If you have time please read the next posting about what is currently going on with the Daraja Choir and how we could use your help and prayers. 

-Dan Young