KENYA 2013-Joal 06/01/13-Tohru and the Guitar Strings Made it to South Sudan…

Thanks for the guitar strings and the awesome time of worship at SLC.  I mentioned a while back that one of the students at Gideon Theological College would probably enjoy having new sets of strings.  His name is Yuna and I gave him the strings you passed me.  I’ve attached a picture of him with them.  He was very appreciative.  He’s a good friend of  ours. Blessings.



KENYA 2013-Chris Crowder Interview

The SIM Area Director comments on how and why the WMM works so well with his group:

KENYA 2013-05/14/13 Thank You Note Received

This was certainly a beautiful gesture…I noticed all week cards laying on the back table that the missionaries all took turns signing. As it turned out, the cards were for the World Music Mission team. Enlarge the picture to see some of the comments:



KENYA 2013-Joal 05/14/13 Assorted Memories

There are always a number of stray conversations, moments and details that never find their way into these blogposts. Today, while back at home, taking care of some life details, I wanted to add some of these very photos and captions. No long text, but just a place to keep some memories and start a few conversations in the future…when you see me, ask about any of these:

Joal & Debbie

Joal & Debbie

Would you like sugar with that…..YES!!

Ethiopian Coffee

Ethiopian Coffee

A keyboard you’d only see on that side of the world…that’s English and Arabic on the same keyboard…

English & Arabic

We were definitely in the cheap seats, but it was pretty cool to be handed a personal comfort pack that included slippers to wear while aboard the aircraft!

Turkish Air Comforts

Turkish Air Comforts

KENYA 2013-Geoff 05/14/13-Video for ALWAYS

Geoff-I had my camera to the side of the stage to capture a bit of footage from our last worship service. Here’s a clip of the song Always.

KENYA 2013- Andy 05/11/13-The Week in Review

Andy shares some thoughts about his time in Africa.

KENYA 2013-Joal 05/10/13-No Voice Left…

Joal-Our time at the Spiritual Life Conference has come to an end. We have loaded it all up again and journeyed back into Nairobi to stay at the guesthouse. We returned the drums to Good Shepherd church and ended up taking 4 guitars with us that need serious repair and refurbishment.


All things musical are EXPENSIVE over here–so strings for guitars and heads for the drums are really unattainable. And, if an instrument falls into disrepair, there’s not a whole lot that can be done for it locally. When we were at the church last Sunday I noticed there were a few instruments just sitting on the shelves. When I asked, the pastor admitted they could do very little with them. So, this WMM team will be transporting 6 guitars home–2 of our own for continued use and 4 for repair having swapped this year’s electric guitar for one that needs some TLC in Music City.

As with other WMM trips, my voice is ragged. I know my voice professor Ouida Bass would be horrified if she ever heard me taking my voice this far, this hard, for this long. But you know….it’s ok. It’s ok because being spent for a cause like this is an incredible feeling. Being used up in service like this is actually enjoyable. I don’t need to talk for the next few days, and I won’t. I have a day to take in the sites and sounds and tastes of Nairobi as we wait for our midnight flight. I’ll also have time to finally stop doing and let the Holy Spirit apply truths to my heart that were spread out over me this week. One of the benefits of playing on the worship team at this kind of event is that we get to soak up a lot (if not all) of the content that the missionaries are getting. Sam, the speaker, laid out truth and I need to wrestle it out. There’s no timetable for this, but there’s also no need to avoid processing.

I know on the flights home after the 2012 conference, I had the chance to really chew through the idea of God being the Provider Scripture makes Him out to be. I am SO glad I had those 30 hours to pray, think and reflect. Saturday and Sunday this time will give me more opportunity to process.

KENYA 2013- Marilyn 05/10/13-Trust and Obey

Marilyn-It’s Friday night and we are back in Nairobi at Malazi House.  I am exhausted, but in a good way.  This week is probably the highlight of my year.  I got to spend time with several of the women that I have gotten to know over the past couple of years.  We shared what the Lord has been doing in our lives and even though our circumstances are very different, the lessons seem to be similar –“trust and obey”.  The Kid’s Camp was a great success, apparently!   One of the kids,   Josiah, has already started asking his mom when he can come again to Kids Camp!  My heart is full of love for these children and their families.  I hope that I get to continue to come to Kenya to love on these sweet friends for many more years.

KENYA 2013-Joal 05/10/13–The Bonfire TV Musical Review



Geoff, David, and Tohru at the bonfire


Joal-Honestly, I knew Geoff Smith to be a great musician; what I had no clue about was his vast and almost limitless knowledge of TV theme songs. From the obscure to the truly bizarre, Geoff WOW-ed the SIM team with song after song from TV shows as they yelled them out around the campfire. Check this out….

Each year, there is fire, some African sodas (remember Marilyn’s affinity for Stoney Tangawizi) and smores, which many of the Africans and Asians on this team have never eaten before. By request, the guitars are pulled along and last night Tohru, Geoff and David jammed for the masses. Once or twice Joal or one of the other missionaries would pull up and add a tune, but Geoff continued to please with tune after tune–We had the Beatles, we had O Brother Where Art Thou, we even had a dare for some Celine Dion and Geoff came through.

There are definitely times to be thoughtful and serious, but these campfire times allow camaraderie and laughter that can ONLY happen when a group of twenty folks sing the Beverly Hillbillies theme song!! See what I mean…

KENYA 2013-Liz 05/10/13-Exhausted!!

Liz- completely exhausted! It’s Friday and our week at Brackenhurst is done.  The last two days have been a blur.  Wednesday was such a long long tiring day.  We had activities which lasted until 10 pm.  Our evening was a spa night for the women missionaries.  We brought tools and supplies for the ladies to make stamped bead necklaces.  That was a big hit.  We also did facials for the women and provided supplies for manicures.  I hit the pillow and was asleep in minutes.


Spa Night 2013–Facials


Thursday’s highlight was probably the talent show.  We had taught the kids the Who Song from the catechism and we performed it complete with hand motions.  In addition the fish cracker song was a hit.  As a special gift the entire SIM conference sang me Happy Birthday.  A great way to spend my birthday. Our evening ended with a sing a long around a campfire followed by packing so that we would be ready by 7 a.m. to bring suitcases to the chapel.


The Goldfish song is a full band event!!

Friday started with achy knees and back and a very very dry mouth.  I quickly dressed and headed to breakfast with two bags in tow.  Exhausted I barely spoke to anyone at breakfast but did enjoy the French toast and beef bacon.  Our morning was spent cleaning up our kids room, giving our last story time, and saying our goodbyes.  Tired but happy, we will sure miss the kids.


French Toast and Coffee–Breakfast of Champions

After lunch we packed up the bus and headed back to Nairobi.  Wow what a hot way to travel.  Nairobi traffic was crazy and with no air conditioning and truck exhaust it was so fun… Back at the Malazi guest house we enjoyed a dinner  of pizza and sodas hosted by our SIM friends.  I spent time learning about how a nurse from San Antonio becomes a missionary in Doro, South Sudan and what type of food one eats in the bush of Doro.  Look up Sorghum and you’ll get the picture.  I can’t imagine what one meal a day of that would be as my main staple.  So impressed by these missionaries. I am going to bed now to be ready for our 5:30AM wakeup call in order to go on the safari at the Nairobi National Park.


Last day at Brackenhurst

KENYA 2013-Michele 05/09/13-BUGS!!!!

Bugs 1

Michele – We’ve had many unique experiences here in Kenya and seen many unique things — including some VERY large, unusual bugs!   We’ve seen an extremely large (and possibly poisonous) caterpillar, an African water scorpion, giant grasshoppers, and a large black bug with red stripes (that may be known to give blisters).  The children are thrilled to show us and tell us all about them, but needless to say, our team has kept our distance!

Bugs 2 Bugs 2 Bugs 4 Bugs 5

KENYA 2013-Joal 05/09/13-Sam’s Messages


Vanmelitharayil John Samkutty and Joal

Joal-This is now my fourth year to be invited to lead worship as part of the SIMSudan Team’s Spiritual Life Conference (SLC). SIM as an organization realizes that missionaries need spiritual refreshment and renewal too. They make a concerted effort to invest in their people by bringing great pastors and teachers to lead multiple sessions for the team. As the WMM, the band’s responsibility is to lead these folks in worship in ways that accentuate the speaker’s direction and that helps these missionaries fall deeply in love with Jesus all over again.

I know many folks have the impression that missionaries are super-Christians. There is even a perception that missionaries are professional Christians–it’s their job to be holy. So it may surprise some who read these posts that this year’s speaker, V.J. “Sam” Samkutty, laid out a very basic, but heart piercingly direct call to submission to the will of God. Sam is a professor of New Testament at All Nations College in London. Here he had the chance to speak 6 times and here are the 6 topics he covered: 1) Intimacy with God 2) The Attitude of Christ 3) Serving as Christ Served 4) Suffering as Christ Suffered 5) Submitting as Jesus Submitted and 6) Consecration and Holiness. But wait….why would professional Christians need these topics covered??

Sam was clear and loving in his calls to Christlikeness–to be “Christian” (or little christs as the early believers were called) requires a daily intimacy with Christ that can easily be interrupted and even undermined when engaged in full-time Christian service. These brothers and sisters had time to reflect and even talk to one another about all these things. It was definitely a sweet and precious time.

KENYA 2013- Geoff & Joal 05/09/13-International Worship

David and Tohru

Geoff-We are currently in the rainy season in this region of Kenya. On Tuesday, thepower here at Brackenhurst went out on at least 8 occasions throughout the day. After our sound and lights went out several times during rehearsal, we made a decision to do an unplugged worship service, in anticipation of any further power outages.

And I am so glad we did. The intimacy of the singing and interaction was special and electric. To top it off, we were blessed by several various cultures sharing songs from their homes. This is one thing I was really wanting to experience here.

And it moved me yet again. I love what we are doing when we are rocking as a full band, but I also was happy that it happened this way. The way the songs sounded even made me stop singing once or twice because of my emotions. And then a moment later, it would really pick up, as you can see below when the Ethiopian music started.

Joal-The way we worship in the West, particularly in the US, is simultaneously beautiful and homogenous. It is difficult for the same-ole-same-ole to be attention grabbing and beautiful when it becomes predictable; yet we have some of the most incredible songs being written from what would be considered the West–the US, UK and Australia/New Zealand. Everyone in the room during this acoustic set we led could sing all the English hymns we chose. There was a request for a Chris Tomlin tune that everyone knew and could sing from memory. Yet…the moment the Hindi speaking brothers and sisters began their hymn, EVERYONE leaned in and listened. When our guitar slinging compatriot-Tohru (pictured above)-led out some KiSwahili tunes, the entire room sang (or attempted to sing) the words at full volume. And, when we, the Americans suggested we sing “Breathe”, they all worshipfully swayed into singing.

All of that rambling explanation to say–there is something heavenly about worshiping with those who speak other languages. Let them tell you what the words mean, then try to join them in the singing and worship with them as they do.

Watch our Ethiopian friends Getachew and Kiberek for a few seconds and see if it doesn’t inspire you too…

KENYA 2013-Geoff 05/08/13-Horses in the Tea Fields


David on his Horse

Geoff-Andy, Michele, Alicia, David and I went with a few others from the team to ride horses out here in Limuru. It was a bumpy ride in the jeep, even bumpier than the horses.

It was really nice to get out and see some of the village and the people. The guys who ran the horse trails were incredibly nice and led us through some amazing country. Whether it was riding through the tea fields, or turning the corner to see a mountain and waterfall, this was an experience none of us will forget. My horse, I think his name was Skiff, was quite a character. I had to do a lot of steering and pulling on the reins. He seemed to always want to stop and eat the grass, and so my guide said, “Hey, you tell him to stop that, it is time to GO”. I said that quite a bit. I hope I didn’t make Skiff too angry.

And by the way…I have no idea why I look so funny in this picture below.

David, Alicia, Michele, Andy, Geoff

KENYA 2013- Joal 05/07/13-Mike Koski’s Banjo Adventure


Mike Koski and Joal

One of the first missionary couples we (me and Brent and the 2010 team) met in Africa was Mike and Gail Koski. Every year we have been affirmed and encouraged by Mike for doing this World Music Mission thing–he LOVES the idea of seeing musicians turned into musicianaries. He loves it so much he decided to follow in our banjo/dobro/guitar playing compadre’s footsteps (Chris Joslin that is) and take a banjo lesson. Listen to what happened…..

KENYA 2013- Liz 05/07/13-The Band & the Kiddos


The band with the kids

Liz- We shared another great day with the children.  This morning’s highlights included the musicians playing and singing with the kids and a up and down playground time (see-sawing that is).  What a joy to hear their voices joining in with the guys.  Joal, David, and Geoff taught the song “Always” to the group.  Lunch was a Kenyan version of a hamburger. So good!!!  I also spent time getting to know a few of the SIM missionaries and hearing their stories.  I am consistently impressed with their dedication and trusting in the Lord for all their needs. And after all the rain we’ve seen since we’ve been here, I’m so thankful  for the bits of sunshine we are being blessed with this afternoon.

KENYA 2013-David 05/07/13-My Role is to Play Drums….


The band

Photo by Rebecca Miller

David-From what I’ve been gathering from the missionaries here at the conference, they’re pretty  wiped out, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Hearing their stories of the testing of their  faith and the obstacles confronting their ministries really affirms the fact that this where we as  a team need  to be! Although I personally can find myself feeling at times like a small contributor to the World Music Mission team here in Kenya, I’m reminded through God’s Word  of the  different roles and gifting that we as believers have in the body of Christ. On this trip, my role is to play the drums on the worship team. As we sing songs in corporate worship times this week, I can sense the renewal and fueling of the hearts and minds of the missionaries here that so desperately need it.  God is moving  and I feel  humbled that the Lord has not only gifted me with the ability to play music, but also the opportunity to share that gift through worship with those who are on the front lines of the Faith, selflessly giving their lives away  for the Gospel of Christ. What a blessing!

KENYA 2013-Alicia 05/07/13-These Kids KNOW their Bible!!


Alicia and the kids


Alicia—What a fun morning with the kids!! Having a little more structured time for stories and crafts has helped. I will say that these kids know their Bible. They thoroughly enjoyed sharing Bible stories they knew that were similar to the one we were reading. They were really engaged, and as a teacher it is so encouraging. These families work so hard and the children are a joy.

KENYA 2013-Children’s Ministry 05/06/13

KENYA 2013-Michele 05/06/13-Here comes the Rain…



On the way to Limuru IMG_2810


Michele-Arrived at the Brackenhurst Conference Center yesterday.  It was a bumpy hour long bus ride from Nairobi.  It’s the rainy season here in Kenya, but the rains haven’t dampened our enthusiasm for the work we have to do this week.  The Worship team set up last night and Marilyn, Liz, Alicia and I prepared for the children’s activities and our special Women’s Night we will have on Wednesday.  The missionaries will arrive today and I am looking forward to connecting with some familiar faces from my last trip (they are like old friends now) and meet new friends too.  What a blessing to be  able to use the gifts we have to bless these amazing missionaries!

KENYA 2013-Joal 05/06/13-The Reason We Blog


KENYA 2013-Joal

Joal-Hopefully, from the blogposts, you’re beginning to catch some of the excitement that comes with being HERE! This is now my fourth time to come to Kenya to support the SIMSudan team of missionaries. I said the first time I was here that I was unprepared for how ready these folks are for familiar worship tunes and the experience of corporate worship. It caught me again today and something hit me in a fresh way—worship songs and hymns have a way of reminding us that we are part of a bigger story. Even these missionaries have a need to be reminded of that like my church family in middle Tennessee has that need–we are part of The Church–past, present and future. Worship connects us to the eternal by calling our minds and hearts to think of God the Father, Son and Spirit and His attributes and Kingdom. This morning we had our first time of corporate worship. It was brief 25 minutes or so, but in that time we played Forever Reign, The Greatness of Our God, Always, Sovereign Over Us and Hail to the King. There’s a line in The Greatness of Our God….”and no words can say or song convey all You are”…that was the reminder line for me this morning.

We, at the World Music Mission, realize no series of blogposts can fully communicate all we are seeing. They can’t tell you about all these incredible people who are living in a fully-engaged way through missional service. But what we hope and pray for is that these posts call to something in you—this is not for a select few. There’s space for you HERE too!

Here’s that video from the first time we came….

SLC Band Recruitment from Taylor Martyn on Vimeo.


KENYA 2013- David 05/06/2013-The Drums are all Set Up


KENYA 2013- Geoff 05/05/13-Tis So Sweet


Geoff and Pastor Maxwell

Geoff and Pastor Maxwell

We arrived at the Good Shepherd Church, and played two services. What really got me right off the bat, is the absolute cheerfulness with the greetings we received.

The church itself is very beautiful, with full marble floors, nice dark wood pews, and a very classic wooden ceiling very similar to the old churches of Europe.

Michele in Good Shepherd

Michele in Good Shepherd

We started the songs, and the people were ready to sing. And they sing. Very well.

Coming from Nashville, where music is everywhere, it was still so nice to find the kind of joyful song making that I heard here that morning in Nairobi.

It rang out through the old hall, and you could hear very clearly not only perfect pitch and harmony, but the very spirit of people who are not simply singing along, but are active in the music making and incredibly excited to be making that music.

Obviously there are different reasons and life stories behind the singing and melodies of each person, but I still think not enough people truly sing. It has nothing to do about being talented, or even remotely skilled. It is about the heart, mind and spirit being exposed in a voice and a song.

I wish everyone could be in a great group of people singing the same song. And do it often.

I tend to forget what music can be like sometimes, because I do it for a living. Hearing the congregation in Nairobi singing “Tis So Sweet” the way the did, reminded me of the heart of singing.

Take a listen below to what I am talking about.


KENYA 2013-Marilyn 05/05/13-Church and Lunch in Nairobi


Good Shepherd Church

Marilyn- After church we walked across the street to Chicken Inn for lunch.  Crossing Ngong Rd. is always a challenge as you are taking your life in your hands (or feet)!  I was thrilled to be able to get a Stoney Tangawizi  with my lunch.   That is a ginger soda that is not available in the US and it is sooo good!  Some of us got chicken and some got pizza at Pizza Inn, next door, then we took it out on the patio to eat.  The Agnes’ (SIM team members) hosted us for lunch.  We left immediately after lunch for the drive to Brackenhurst.  It rained most of the way, so I slept.

Stoney Tangawizi

The journey was long and the details of just life affect us here–rest, meals–but it feels like I am coming home to a favorite place filled with old friends.  It has been so great to reconnect.  I thank God for these sweet brothers and sisters – love ‘em!  Well, it is time for bed – breakfast starts at 7am and then the work and reason we made this journey begins. The children and parents will arrive mid-morning, the adult’s sessions begin before lunch and we will be off and running! (Joal’s edit–One last note of clarification: there will probably be very few pictures of the children on this website as we will look to respect the families’ privacy. Some of these missionaries work in situations that require great delicacy and we want to protect that. We will all have personal photos to show when we get home of these beaming beautiful children.)

KENYA 2013- Alicia & Liz–The Journey begins….


Leaving Nashville: Joal, Marilyn, Geoff, Liz, David, Alicia, Michele, Andy

Alicia-We all made it to the Nashville Airport on time and all the bags made the weight cut. Praise the Lord!! We trooped on through security with no problem and then on to the gate only to be informed we were delayed. Well, we made the most of our time there grabbing lunch, practicing our We Sing Bible songs.  4 ½ hours later and connection flights missed we got rerouted to Istanbul, Turkey on Turkish Airlines. It was hard to figure out what time it was and when to eat and take our meds. There was lots of intermittent sleep and mindless movie watching. All to arrive in Nairobi at 2:30 am Sunday morning.

Why we went to Istanbul


Liz-We arrived in the wee hours Sunday morning and breezed through getting visas, currency, and luggage.  Maybe because the airport was almost empty??? We headed to our guest house in Nairobi, Malazi, arriving and getting settled by 4 am.  Malazi has beautiful architecture and we were able to get showers and cleaned up before breakfast at 7am.  We enjoyed a great buffet which included egg white omelets, ham, Kenyan sausage, fruit and toast.  We all downed several needed cups of coffee as well!  Next was on to church where the music team was providing worship for two services.  What a blessing to meet the Kenyan worship team and share tea between services.  The rain didn’t dampen our spirits and the church members enthusiastically joined in the worship time.

Malazi Guest House


KENYA 2013 (As we prepare to go…meet the band)


Categories: Mission Trips

Kenya 2013 Worship Team

The 2013 Kenya Team’s Band is a four-piece on this side of Africa with another guitarist already in Africa. Our brother Tohru will be joining the joyful cacophony of worship when we arrive. This year’s band includes (l to r) Joal Devendorf, Geoff Smith, David Burch, and Andy Oliver.

The practice sessions have been a time to not only work out arrangements and timing, but also to get to know each other. One of the more unique things about short term misson teams is that you often get to work alongside strangers who in a short matter of time become friends.

This photo is from a recent rehearsal at Tim Creek’s Pedal Doctor FX shop ( A HUGE Thank You (again) for his space and his repair work on the WMM’s gear. There are now guitars around the world that have passed through the Pedal Doctor’s hands, through the WMM’s hands, onto untold service in places along the Nile River, across Europe and Africa and even in our US prison ministry.

KENYA 2013–Andy’s testimonial as we prepare to go…

The Lord has been challenging me to a deeper faith through “being there.” Over the years I have been one to support missions and believe the Great Commission, but the support was with dollars and prayers. Calling me to go deeper, I have been involved in some of World Music Mission’s local projects as well as going on this trip to Kenya two years ago. I’ve also had the privilege of sharing “being there” with my family, as my wife went on this trip last year. I’m excited about “being there” in the field again, and that is why I am going with the World Music Mission to Kenya. Andy Oliver

KENYA 2013–David’s testimonial as we prepare to go…


The Lord has been doing a lot in my life. While in a season of mouring from the loss of my Dad 6 months ago, I have still been experiencing the Lord’s blessings with an amazing family, with the recent addition of our 3rd little one, and a growing business which gives me flexibility to travel. I love seeing others worship through music that I help create. That is one reason, among others, why I am happy and honored to be a blessing to others in Kenya with the World Music Mission team serving the missionaries of SIMSudan.  David Burch

KENYA 2013–Alicia’s testimonial as we prepare to go….

Over the past few years the Lord has reawakened my heart towards missions work and shown me that His love must be shared. The Lord has always turned my heart to help others, especially children. When I was young, I was privileged to go on several mission trips to Mexico and some more locally.  Then he had me in a season of raising my own young children. After hearing the stories of past trips to serve in Kenya, I knew that this was definately a trip I would love to do.You don’t hear of many groups such as WMM, who get to minister to the missionaries. That God would use me to lift up those who spread His word and love…..Wow! I always find that the Lord uses these times to show me glimpses of heaven. He is such a great and merciful God, and I am humbled to be used by Him in any way.

Alicia Reynolds