Thursday, November 10, 2011

August 2011 - Coming & Going

Here is the August 2011 newsletter, which can be viewed via our website: and link to the "Prayer Letter." We had some internet access and electricity issues that have delayed this posting on the blog.
"Coming & Going" - August 2011

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord Himself will go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

We watched the storm roll in from our grass-roofed tent at Lake Baringo Island Camp. Lightning, thunder, and gusty winds were threatening to dampen our get-away and our spirits. During this personal retreat, we had been discussing the next few months’ preparation to leave Kenya for 6-months of Home Ministry in the US in early 2012.

Mixed emotions had surfaced: Where would we feel at home? How much will family and friends have changed? Have we done what we could have (or should have) since we arrived in Kenya? Will others take over our tasks with a sense of blessing or resentment in their hearts?

Dejected, we picked up books and binoculars to move inside when we realized that only a few feet behind us was a view of the other side of the island - the sun was shining gloriously on the water, and not a single exotic flower or songbird was being disturbed by the rain and wind battering the opposite side of their little kingdom.

It’s always a matter of perspective. A slight adjustment can mean the difference between discouragement and joy. Instead of being focused on the problems and challenges, we need to look up and remember that the Lord has been with us and will continue ahead of us. Pray for us to maintain a (big “K”) Kingdom-view as we anticipate what’s ahead and trust what has been left behind.

Birds and flowers were not the only colorful companions we had at Lake Baringo. This pretty friend was about 12” long.

Some long-awaited updates...

Final dedication of the Colorado Work Team projects was celebrated on the last Sunday in June at Kalyet Church in Mugango with worship, singing, and blessings over each phase: church office, water tank, generator housing, raingutters, and the beautiful wooden cross sent from the team (and made by a team member) as an expression of continuing fellowship after their return home.

Peter Kipngeno marked one year since he committed his life to Jesus Christ in prison, and has also completed his first term at Kaboson Pastor’s Training College with good reviews from the faculty and eagerness to continue. He is spending his term break helping on the family’s farm and partnering with local pastors in prison ministry.

Prayers are being answered regarding doctors needed to cover Steve’s furlough from Tenwek Hospital during 2012. Several Gastroenterologists have committed to serve for some of the months needing coverage. For anyone interested, please contact

The STEP study on esophageal cancer continues with patient #175 this week. The goal for Steve and his endoscopy team is to screen 300 patients by the end of 2011. The recruiting continues in outlying villages around Tenwek.

Tenwek Chaplaincy College has 4 new students. Alene was teaching Ministry to the Dying and Bereaved last term (May thru July), and will return to courses on Prison Ministry and Aftercare Ministry from Sept thru Nov.)

Bomet Prison Medical Outreach - After weeks of preparations, a team of 38 medical staff and pastors from Tenwek Hospital and Bethesda Church visited the local Bomet Prison for a one-day medical camp, providing treatment and counseling for inmates as well as officers and their families from the prison and Bomet Police departments. We are thankful for the welcome we received from the prison administration, and the opportunity to express the love of Jesus Christ in visible ways to this part of our community.

“When no one was visiting me, I saw the church come.

When I needed soap and tissue, the church came.

Now when we need medicine, the church has come again.

I think that when I am released,

I will have to visit that church.”

-- Shared by Bomet Prison Inmate with Pastor Elijah

Greetings when our team arrived at the prison

Steve improvises an exam table

Dental clinic in one of the tent

Our vehicle functioned as the dispensary staffed by pharmacist, student nurses, and prison nursing officer

Pastors did one-on-one counseling

Teaching sessions on drug and alcohol abuse

Please pray with us:

• For more partners in prayers & finances for our work, and planning for our Home Ministry in US in 2012

• For more physicians to respond to need for Endoscopy coverage at Tenwek while Steve is in US in 2012

• For adjustment for both of Steve’s parents as care needs have increased, as well as for wisdom in decision-making by family members & care-givers

Please thank the Lord with us:

• For comforting visits from dear friends from US

• For those physicians who have volunteered to help with coverage for Steve while we are home

• For God’s faithfulness in caring for Steve’s father after hip fracture & replacement through help of family, friends, and medical staff

• For faithful partners in prayer, service, & finances, including those who give anonymously.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kenyan Birthdays & More

June 4, 2011

We want to share with you a bit about Kenyan birthdays and some recent updates from Kenya!

Blessings to you!

Kenyan Birthdays
We have learned that the Kenyans in this area (who are mainly of the Kipsigis tribe) traditionally have a different concept of birthday celebrations. First of all, most of those over age 30 or 40 have no idea what month or season in which they were born and often they do not know in which year they were born. It used to bother me (Steve) when I would see a Tenwek patient with a stated age of 60, who on a return visit in a few weeks was now 50 years old! They try their best to figure out the year based on a national event. Although they may not know their year of birth they usually know what time of day they were born! A child's name is based on the time of day - such as "when the cows were coming in"- and other variables such as whether it was raining or whether visitors were present. It is not the parents, but rather the women in attendance at the delivery who actually name the child. So based on my birth between 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. on a sunny day with no visitors, I know that my Kipsigis name would have been "Kipkoech." (Boys have the "Kip-" prefix and girls have the "Chep-" prefix.) Based on her time of birth, Alene's name would have been "Chepngeno."

Our Western influence has encouraged the practice of children around the world celebrating their birthdays each year. Alene's sister and husband, Paula and Rich, adopted two young children, Guy and Geordanne, in Haiti in the late 90's. After some x-rays to confirm his age, it was evident that Guy was actually a year older than the orphanage had indicated. Guy was judged to be 6 years old and had only been in USA a few months, but he knew enough to ask his parents if he could have a "catch-up" birthday party!

Our dear friend and partner in ministry in Kenya, Pastor Wesley Koech, honors us as his "parents" and is probably about 43 years old. He saw people, including his wife and children, now celebrating their birthdays, but he had no idea on what day he was born. We had an inspiration on how to address our son Wesley's concern and checked our prior daily journal from our May 2006 initial visit to Tenwek Hospital. We learned that we first met Pastor Wesley and were welcomed into his home on May 20, 2006. That was the first day that he came into our lives, so we celebrated his "5th" birthday this weekend! We must say that he was just like a little kid blowing out his five candles and eating some
cake with frosting! So Wesley now shares the birthdate of May 20th with my brother, Mark.

Pastor Wesley (on the right) and his cake for his "5th" birthday!

We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and it is great to celebrate our birth and the life that the Lord God has given us. However, too often our focus is on the gifts that we will receive at our birthday celebrations. As Christians, we rejoice in different gifts: we have a new birth (John 3:1- 21, 2 Corinthians 5: 17) and a new life in Christ (Galatians 2:20). We are to leave behind our prior life, receive salvation, and live a new life worthy of our calling in Christ Jesus (Colossians 1:10-14). We are adopted into God's family. "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1). We pray that you have accepted a new life in Christ and can also joyously celebrate your own spiritual birthday.

Former prisoner, Peter, starts Pastor's College

We give praise to the Lord that Peter has been able to start his studies at Kaboson Pastor's Training College this month. Peter is enthusiastic to be equipped to serve as a pastor to prisoners and former inmates. Please continue in prayer for his studies and future ministry.

Peter (2nd from the left) at Kaboson Pastor's Training College

Chaplain School Resumes

The second group of students has begun classes at the International Chaplaincy College at Tenwek and Alene is teaching a class on "Ministry to the Dying and Bereaved." The school is living up to being international as one of the students, Julius, is from Tanzania. Please join us as we pray for these new students and their teachers.

New Chaplain students with instructor, Pastor John Langat (Center)

Tenwek Endoscopy Team

The endoscopy team had a great safari day-trip for team-building in April. This was the first opportunity for most of these national Kenyans to see the wildlife for which their country is famous. We had time to share about functioning as a team and working together for a common purpose. We focused that purpose on Tenwek's mission statement: A Christian community committed to excellence in compassionate health care, spiritual ministry, and training for service.

Tenwek Endoscopy team safari

Lions, cubs, zebras, and Thompson's gazelles at the Maasai Mara

Endoscopy STEP Study research team with our new caps

Chaplain Elijah Bii presents a Bible to a new believer in Christ.

GI Endoscopy Services in 2012

In 2012, we will have about 9 months of Home Ministry Assignment (furlough) in USA. This time will be devoted to reconnecting with our family, friends and supporters and confirming our support base for long-term, career mission service.

I (Steve) want to ensure that there will be continuity in our delivery of endoscopy services at Tenwek Hospital even when I will not be present. We are in the process of arranging for coverage during my absence. If you know of anyone providing endoscopy services that might be interested in serving at Tenwek, please let us know. Please join us in prayer for the continuation of excellent endoscopy services in 2012.

Thank you!

Steve & Alene Burgert, Missionaries with World Gospel Mission

Tenwek Hospital - Bomet , Kenya

Monday, April 18, 2011


Please enjoy a blessed celebration of Easter!

You can check out our latest newsletter and Easter greetings at this link:

He is risen, He is risen indeed!

Peace and love,
Steve & Alene

FAQ's for Kenya Missionaries

April 6, 2011

FAQ's for missionaries Steve & Alene Burgert

What are "FAQ's"? Those are the "Frequently Asked Questions" that are often posted on business websites. Let us share a few FAQ's that our friends and family have asked us, including some posed by members of our recent work team from USA.

But before the FAQ's we do want to share praises with answers to prayers:

A. Great work, fellowship, and ministry time with the 12 members of our home church in Loveland, CO these past two weeks. They served on a work team project at a nearby village to help with church office and water tank construction.

Work team at church office

Team members at a church member's home

Water tank under construction

Water tank nearly complete

B. Graduation of the 8 chaplain school students on April 2nd and over 500 joined in the graduation celebration.

Alene & Steve washed the chaplain graduate's hands as a symbol of their call to serve as they have been served.

C. Baptism of Peter, the former prisoner mentioned in the prior newsletter on April 3rd. He will start studies at the pastor's college in May.

Peter's baptism

Please join us in prayers for:

A. Our World Gospel Mission retreat at Malindi, Kenya (on the India Ocean north of Mombasa from April 7th to 11th. We will share time with the WGM Kenya missionaries and a pastor from USA. May it be a time of refreshment of body and spirit and great fellowship.

B. The Lord's direction for the next group of chaplaincy students to begin classes later this year.

OK, here are the FAQ's:

1. Do you have electricity in your home? We do have electricity in our apartment most of the time, but in February with a significant drought there was insufficient water-flow for the hydroelectric plant at Tenwek. There were frequent gaps in the electrical power provided by Kenya Power & Light and the Tenwek diesel generator power for our home (up to 12 hours at a time), but only extremely brief interruptions in power for the patient care areas at the hospital. Romantic candlelight dinners were frequent as a necessity. We are thankful for a propane gas stove and battery-operated electronics like our computer. We are thankful for recent rains here in this area of Kenya to allow the crops to grow well and prevent famine, but also for the electrical power.

2. Do you watch TV? We do not have a TV, but we do frequently watch a DVD episode from a TV series, such as "Monk," "All Creatures Great & Small," or "West Wing" on our computer monitor. For local, national and international news we keep up via the internet. We also enjoy using a satellite radio given to us by a retired missionary to listen to NPR (National Public Radio) from USA or the BBC from UK.

3. Are you threatened by wild animals where you live? Frequently we do have to watch out for cows and donkeys on the road as we walk to and from the hospital, but there are no wild animals of concern in our area. Most nights we can hear the interesting sounds of the frogs, which remind us of pop bottles clinking against each other. We give thanks for our safety.

4. Do you dream in Swahili? We had three intense months of Swahili training when we first arrived in Kenya and that has served as a great foundation for our interactions with others here. Although we do dream about our lives here in Kenya, (including struggling to say something in Swahili!), we cannot really say that we dream in Swahili.

Around Tenwek, most young and middle aged (50 and below) Kenyans speak 3 languages - their mother tongue (Kipsigis), Swahili, and English - although very few speak any of them with good grammar or according to the rules we have learned. So we have learned to do what most of them do, which is mix all three until you get your point across. There is also usually someone standing close by who knows the word that we forgot or who can translate into one of the other languages. Fortunately, everyone here is also eager to help us learn, even if they are laughing the whole time we are trying to pronounce the word we just learned. Actually we have learned that they are not so much laughing AT us as they are just so excited that a white person is trying to speak in their language that they just can't help themselves. They are truly happy when we try, and it's kind of fun to surprise them with a few bits of conversation. I have learned to say "I am trying to learn Swahili" or "...Kipsigis" and the nicest response is when they smile and say "You already KNOW!" I find I am recognizing more and more in each language, even though I don't have the time I would like to review my grammar. It wouldn't usually help anyway, because their concept of grammar is very utilitarian. Language is a tool - just grab it and use it whatever way gets the job done! When you live in a survival culture, I guess that makes sense.

5. Do you need to file income tax returns? Yes, even from Kenya, Uncle Sam wants us to file our income tax returns. In addition, we get to pay income tax here in Kenya as well!!

6. How hot does it get with your living so close to the equator? Even though we live within a couple of hundred miles of the equator the temperatures at Tenwek are very mild. The elevation of about 7,000 feet keeps the temperatures between the 50's and 80's most all the time throughout the year.

7. What do you miss most from home? Truly, Kenya has become "home" for us, but we do miss family and friends and certain foods like tossed salad. However, the thing Alene misses absolutely the most is being able to go out by herself for a walk or sit under a tree or climb one of the local hills and hide for awhile without being noticed.

Thanks for asking about our daily lives. The first year here was "finding our place" and now we struggle to "find our balance" as we have become aware of what is possible and what still needs to be done. We have been reading the mission field director's recommended book "When Helping Hurts" and praying for wisdom in how to help in ways that lead to self-sufficiency as well as wholeness (physical, emotional, spiritual). I (Alene) have experienced so much joy as "mom" and encourager to chaplain students and increasing numbers of ex-prisoners who are surfacing and are SOOO happy to have an advocate for reconciliation back to their homes and communities in a culture that has not been ready to accommodate those who have been to prison - even if they were not guilty in the first place, which is up to 50 percent of those in prison in Kenya! The churches are only just starting to agree that the mandates of Jesus apply in these cases. But it has been exciting to see Kenyan churches and pastors lay hold of this ministry and start to mobilize their members for visitation to the prisons and help for these men and women after release. To me, it clearly indicates the presence of God's Holy Spirit when you see people respond so positively to this conviction. They have expressed a sense of shame (their words, not mine) that God had to bring someone from another country or culture to make them aware of their neglect for those who are locked up and then ignored (at best) or completely rejected (sometimes with violence) when they try to come home. These are really tough situations in a culture that is so land- and community-based. Kenyans cannot just pack up and move to another town, because no one will accept you in the new place unless you are from their clan or related to one of the local village families. And certainly no one will give you or sell you any of their land for a home or farm! With education, things are slowly changing, and the youth are more mobile and globally-aware, but traditions die hard in third-world countries. I see these issues of forgiveness, healing, and peace-making as the heart of the Gospel, and in a region that has been well-evangelized, this ministry brings the reality of Christian discipleship to a deeper level.

Sometimes it is very wearing to always be the foreigner, but then I see how much joy it gives them to have you acknowledge their presence or visit their home or pray over their children or speak at their churches or attempt to speak their language or offer to help in some small way - and that it literally speaks God's presence and His remembrance to them, and I have to repent of my selfishness to want to hide from them sometimes. The feeling is natural, I know, and I don't live with any great guilt about it, but I try to focus on the blessings and overall sense of deep joy, satisfaction and yes, even "being at home" (in spite of being the foreigner) that I (we) have in being here. I can give a recent example of the way God blesses me through these times. I was driving 4 young men (ex-prisoners) and one of their moms back to their various villages after taking them all to a Bible study afternoon in Mugango, feeling a little sorry for myself as they all happily chatted in their mother-tongue oblivious to my sense of being left out and ignored as "just a driver" for the outing. As I stopped to let one of my passengers and his mom out, they noticed that one of my tires was hissing madly and quickly deflating. Suddenly my four "sons" jumped into action, one even running to the nearest town to get the correct size spanner to remove the tire nuts (somehow had been left out of the tools for our car) while the other three jacked up the car, kept local kids from climbing in and stealing my purse, and dealt with the aggressive passersby who were eager to make some money by helping the stranded white lady. I felt so protected, loved, respected, and blessed - I was so grateful and proud of them that my heart nearly burst. Those are the times when the Lord reminds me that my times of discomfort are well-compensated, and that my willingness to be the outsider is also part of what witnesses to them and leads them to love and welcome us.

Otherwise, small things like foods we miss or small inconveniences of water supply or power outages seem to be fading in importance as we settle into our "new normal" and I am thankful for this sign of truly "entering in" to our new culture and home. If anything, I am becoming more and more surprised by Kenyans' staring or curiosity - somehow I feel like I must be turning brown like them as I get to know their language and their customs and many of their villages around here, but their reactions tell me that I am still as white as ever, and now I am the one who is surprised and a little disappointed that my skin still gives me away as an outsider. I don't know if that makes any sense to you, but that is what has come out, so I will leave it.

8. What has surprised you the most in caring for patients? Steve expected to see many patients with infectious disease, including those with HIV infections, and he has, but he has been very surprised to see an average of one or two patients admitted to Tenwek Hospital daily, because of ingesting poison as a suicide attempt/suicide gesture. This recurrent pattern of behavior clearly demonstrates the need for many people to know a deeper meaning to life.

9. When will you take your furlough time in USA? World Gospel Mission uses the term "Home Ministry Assignment" rather than "Furlough" to appropriately describe the time back in USA as a continuation of ministry there, re-connecting with family and friends, and further developing the support-base needed for a return to service in the mission field. We plan to return to USA in March 2012 and we pray that pledges for financial support will allow us to return to Kenya in 6 to 9 months. Typically, one year out of five is committed to Home Ministry Assignment.

10. Does World Gospel Mission send me envelopes for my on-going contributions to support your ministry? World Gospel Mission does not send out envelopes for each donation and they request that donors send their contributions directly to World Gospel Mission either by US Mail:

World Gospel Mission

PO Box 948

Marion, IN 46952

[indicate: "Acct #02273-Burgert"]

or via the internet:

and click on "Contributions"

The third option is to set up an automatic transfer of funds (electronic funds transfer) as from your checking or credit card account. Please contact us at and on the subject line indicate: "Burgert EFT" Steve and Alene are so very grateful for your support!

11. How can I be involved in your mission service? There are many ways to partner with us in Kenya. It is great that you are taking time to read our email or paper mail updates and we greatly cherish your prayers on our behalf. Financial support has been a crucial ministry involvement making our service here possible.

Regardless of your occupation, we also encourage you to consider ways that you may want to serve in missions by checking out other opportunities through World Gospel Mission's short-term mission possibilities:

We are excited that the work team was able to come from Colorado to work with us here at Tenwek in March 2011 and we encourage others to let us know if they would like to visit us or serve with us here in Kenya.

All of us are called to the mission field - to share the love of Christ worldwide, including in our own backyard. Please let us know how you are answering this call, so that we can mutually encourage one another in our unique areas of service.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Loveland work team is on its way!

The Loveland, Colorado work team is on the road and soon will be in the air on their way to Kenya. Our prayers are with them on this journey and we look forward to sharing big hugs with them very soon!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Loveland, Colorado Work Team coming to Tenwek

Please share in the adventures of 12 members of our home church in Loveland, Colorado as they travel to Kenya on March 18th and 19th to join us for service, fellowship and fun! You can participate in their experiences via their blogsite with the weblink on the right column for the Loveland Work Team -

Their 20+ bags of donated items (over 3/4 ton!) will be a huge blessing to many here in Kenya.
The villagers in Mugango are looking forward to the team's assistance in the work projects at their church.

We pray for special blessings on their travels and their service here in Kenya.
Safari njema! ( Swahili for "Bon voyage!")

December 2010 Newsletter

Steve & Alene Burgert - Missionaries with Tenwek Hospital in Kenya

Psalm 121:8 -Coming & Going Newsletter - December 2010

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners” Isaiah 61:1

Pokee Salamu Katika Jina La Yesu! Swahili for: Receive greetings in Jesus’ name!

We pray a rich and blessed Christmas season for each of you and your families. Thank you for your love and support for us. We cherish your prayers, emails, packages, and partnership more than we could ever express. You have helped make our time in Kenya a true joy.

Visiting Jerusalem, Israel & Egypt

We joined ten others, including Rev. Jane & Brian Riecke, from our home church in Colorado (First United Methodist Church of Loveland) for a tour of the Holy Land in October. It was truly a blessing to experience the land of the Bible - to see and walk around these real places of the Old and New Testaments. It was especially moving to sing and share devotions while boating on a smooth Sea of Galilee as we remembered the stories of Jesus and His disciples on that same lake. We were also blessed to share communion near the site of the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem in celebration of the sacrifice Jesus made for our sins, as well as His resurrection! In addition to the sightseeing, it was wonderful to share time with our pastors and others from our home congregation. The extension of the trip into Egypt gave us a great appreciation for the rugged and desolate desert that the Israelites crossed during the exodus. (After viewing this wasteland, Steve said, “I’m sure I would have been one of those who complained to Moses!”) The Egyptian ruins of temples, tombs, and pyramids are a testimony to history measured in thousands of years and to a people searching for meaning in this life and the after-life. We give thanks for our Christian faith, and knowing the God of our past, present, and future.

Partnering with Donations On-Line

Thank you for considering partnering with us. One-time gifts or on-going support are needed for our ministry services and can now also be arranged via the internet at:

Celebrating Our First Year in Kenya

We happily mark the completion of our first full year of service in Kenya. The reappearance of the purple blossoms of the jacaranda trees proves to us that the cycle of a year has passed. We give thanks for the Lord’s guidance and protection evidenced in so many ways. He has enabled Steve to have a great team to provide endoscopy patient care, research and physician training. Alene has used her prison chaplain background to teach and mentor chaplaincy students, as well as participate in ministry to those inside prisons and those being released. We both have felt welcomed into the community and have had opportunities to encourage and be encouraged by the faith of many Kenyans. We are amazed to look back at the many gifts of this past year and can hardly wait to see what the Lord will unveil for us in the year to come!

Esophageal Cancer Research Begins

The high incidence of cancer of the esophagus in this area is a major reason why Tenwek Hospital has such an active Endoscopy Unit. Our endoscopy team has prayed for the opportunity to help prevent this cancer, and our research project which started this month may play a key role in answering that prayer. It has been a blessing to work with a Kenyan physician, Dr. Mike Mwachiro, in performing special, detailed examinations of the esophagus to seek out early, pre-cancerous abnormalities. Subjects also complete a detailed questionnaire to help track possible causes. We also give thanks for three team members from the National Institutes of Health and Mayo Clinic in USA who visited Tenwek this month and greatly assisted in getting the research protocol underway.

Please pray with us:

• For the Lord’s wisdom as we start our 2nd year of service in Kenya

• For ministry opportunities for each of the eight Chaplaincy students graduating April 2011

• For preparations for the Work Team coming to Tenwek from our home church in Loveland, CO in March 2011

• For continued faithful prayer and financial support for our mission service

Please thank the Lord with us:

• For peaceful referendum in Kenya in August

• For our Colorado home sale in September

• For Steve’s good visit with his parents in Minnesota in October

• For our refreshing Holy Land trip with our Colorado church family in October

• For Dr. Tom Kettler from USA covering for the Endoscopy Unit during Steve’s absence

• For the Lord’s gracious guidance throughout our first year of service in Kenya

• For faithful partners in prayer and finances

• For safety during our many recent roadtrips

For a joyous and blessed Christmas Season!

Contributions: World Gospel Mission, 3783 East State Road 18, PO Box 948, Marion IN 46952 (account 02273-Burgert)