In late January, a 45-member group from Greeneville Adventist Academy traveled from Tennessee to serve on a Maranatha Volunteers International project at the Kimogoro Adventist Boarding Primary School in Kenya. Maranatha began transforming this dilapidated, overcrowded campus in 2023 by constructing new boys and girls dormitories, and a kitchen and dining hall. Greeneville volunteers joined these efforts by laying block walls for a bathroom building. The school serves on a mission trip every year, but students enjoyed this project especially. “I’ve had several kids tell me, ‘This is my favorite mission trip,'” remarked Project Leader Angela Emde. “It was hugely impactful. The kids were just really touched.”

The two-week project involved more than construction work. Greeneville volunteers also shared the love of Christ with Kimogoro students during a five-part week of prayer series. Each evening included a health talk, nature nugget, craft, and lots of songs. Teen volunteers especially enjoyed this opportunity to connect with younger kids. “The most positive experiences and feedback come from when my students get to interact with children. They just love to interact with children,” said Emde. During the program’s last evening, Greeneville students invited those interested in baptism to come forward and were delighted when more than 30 students responded to the call.

The team also operated vision clinics, with the help of a couple volunteer optometrists, in five of Kimogoro’s neighboring communities. They saw 1,266 patients and dispensed 1,272 pairs of glasses. In addition to filling a healthcare deficit, the vision clinic was a source of evangelism. “As far as community outreach, the vision clinics are where it’s at,” remarked Emde. “I think that was hugely impactful to the community. People who had never stepped foot in an Adventist church before came in. They were seen.”

Student volunteers were a blessing to the Kimogoro community and received a blessing in return. One student, Rylie Tomlinson, learned to find peace in Christ during difficult times. “[God] was showing me that He is all I need to find happiness and contentment. I do not need to dwell on my problem; I need to dwell on my Problem Solver. And that is exactly what we went to [Kenya] to share.”

Maranatha has worked in Kenya since 2016, building One-Day Churches, drilling water wells, and working on school campuses, like Kimogoro. Crews and volunteers have completed more than 1,000 structures so far.