July 3-6: Cheptebo

September 4, 2009

The next leg of our Kenyan journey took us into the Great Rift, to the tiny community of Cheptebo.  Cheptebo is at the bottom of the Kerio Valley, near one side of the escarpment.  Africa Inland Mission started a farming project here some 20 years ago, with the intent of teaching locals there how to improve their farming techniques and teaching them about Jesus.  Ginny’s family lived there until 2003, overseeing the project, so we went to visit the people she still knew there, and see how the farm was doing 6 years later.

We travelled to Cheptebo by Metatu again: first to the town of Kabernet, which is at the top of the escarpment.  As usual, the metatu stand was a nexus of activity and excitement, especially once the white people arrived!  Sally, the wife of the project director met us there, and we took another metatu down the escarpment to the Kerio Valley.  Sally is a bright, friendly woman, and she immediately put us at ease, even though we’d never met her before.  It was about a 25-minute drive to Nakuru, down the 3000-foot escarpment, and past a few shops and settlements.

Kabarnet metatu stand

Kabarnet metatu stand

Although the Cheptebo project started as a demonstration farm, it’s focus has expanded, and it’s also the site of a very nice conference center.  We stayed in some of the newest rooms built for conference attendees, and we were impressed by their size and comfort.  The mission hosts church conferences, teacher training, community meetings, and other similar activities, and these conferences help it to be self-sustaining now.  This expansion of it’s mission came in large part thanks to the work of Joseph.

Joseph, and his adopted son

Joseph, and his adopted son

Joseph is Sally’s husband, and the director of the Cheptebo project.  He’s worked at the farm for a number of years, first under Ginny’s father, then as the director once AIM left.  The second day that we were at the farm, Joseph took us on a tour of the mission, and his enthusiasm for it was quite infectious!

Joseph demonstrating making silage for livestock.  Appropriate Technology!

Joseph demonstrating making silage for livestock. Appropriate Technology!

He explained that the project started with just a few demonstration wells, then expanded to teaching local farmers how to improve their growing techniques.  Now, he explained, Cheptebo not only teaches farmers how to grow traditional and new crops on their land, but they also: grow and sell tree seedlings,experiment with dry farming, and manage several livestock projects that help families own their own goats or cows.

Corrie with tree seedlings

Corrie with tree seedlings

Joseph’s excitement was clearly visible, and his love for the farm and the people it served was strong.  Joseph often referred to the work that God had done among them, and the vision He’d given them.  It was not surprising then, to hear about the church at Cheptebo.  The church there has also grown in the last 20 years, and now includes about 150 people from the surrounding area.  We attended Sunday services with the people there, and it was great to celebrate and worship God with fellow believers.  Despite the differences in our experiences, backgrounds, cultures, and resources, the connection between us because of our faith in Jesus was a great reminder of how Jesus brings people together.

The Kerio valley is a beautiful area of Kenya, and we enjoyed simply relaxing, and drinking in our surroundings.  We spent at entire afternoon sitting on the porch, talking about our trip and our experiences so far, and smiling at the children who were a bit too shy to come over and visit us.  Joseph and Sally were wonderful hosts, and we ate in their home each day that we were there.

The escarpment on one edge of the Great Rift Valley, as seen from Cheptebo

The escarpment on one edge of the Great Rift Valley, as seen from Cheptebo

Joseph, Sally, and their son

Joseph, Sally, and their son

It was encouraging to me to see Cheptebo, and to see the growth that God has brought about through it.  Because Corrie and I are interested in relief and development work,

Hello from Cheptebo--Wish you were here!

Hello from Cheptebo--Wish you were here!

it was very exciting to see a project that has provided a clear benefit to people in the community.  Not only has it survived nearly 20 years in the Keerio Valley, but it has become essentially self-sustaining as well, empowering the local Kenyans to manage its focus and bless the community around.  And it has been a blessing t the surrounding community:  Joseph introduced us to many of the residents of the valley who have been inspired and enabled to expand their farms, start new stores, and go to college, in part through the support of the Cheptebo community.  Truly God has been at work through the farm, and that’s exciting to see!  I appreciate the hard work that has gone into the project over the long years, but it’s encouraging to see that Christ-centered development work can indeed have a positive impact on the people and community.  I hope that someday I’ll have the privilege of looking back over a similar project and appreciating what God has done through us to bless others.

The Mission is clear for all to see

The Mission is clear for all to see

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