Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Suggested Kenya VIM Team Manual

NOTE: As formatting is difficult on this blog, see Shannon Lemmons at the Oklahoma VIM office for a copy of the dataset ready to be modified for your trip and printed.


Thank you for showing in interest in the mission trip to Kenya. This Team Member’s Manual provides useful background information about the mission.

Itinerary: The tentative itinerary for the Volunteers In Mission trip to Meru, Kenya is:

Team Size and Proposed Work Project(s):

Team Leader:

Mission Fee: Cost of this mission is $________ which includes airfare, ground transportation, taxis, tips, all lodging and meals in Kenya, trip insurance, mission project fees and the safari.

Payment Schedule: Fees should be sent to ______________. To be considered for inclusion on this team, a $300 refundable deposit is due no later than ___date___. A $_______ partially-refundable payment is due ___date___. A final non-refundable payment of $1,350 is due ___date___. All required VIM forms must be received by ___date___ (generally eights weeks prior to departure).

To learn about the previous VIM trips to Kenya, visit


Terrorism: This is the US Department of State’s most recent Travel warning on Kenya:

Travel WarningUnited States Department of StateBureau of Consular AffairsWashington, DC 20520
This information is current as of today, Tue Feb 14 23:18:01 2006.
This Travel Warning is being issued to remind American citizens to consider carefully the risks of travel to Kenya at this time due to ongoing safety and security concerns. This supersedes the Travel Warning of July 1, 2005.
The Department recommends that private American citizens in Kenya evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing terrorist threats and the limited ability of the Kenyan authorities to detect and deter such acts. The U.S. Government continues to receive indications of terrorist threats in Kenya and elsewhere in eastern Africa aimed at U.S. and Western interests. Terrorist actions may include suicide operations, bombings, kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports. U.S. citizens should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets in public places including tourist sites and locations where Westerners are known to congregate, as well as commercial operations associated with U.S. or other Western interests.

American citizens in Kenya should remain vigilant, particularly in public places frequented by foreigners such as clubs, hotels, resorts, Western-oriented shopping centers, restaurants, and places of worship. Americans should also remain vigilant in residential areas, schools, and at outdoor recreational events, and should avoid demonstrations and large crowds. In particular, there is a continuing threat against Westerners in the capital, Nairobi, and some locales in the coastal region. In addition to the terrorist threat, there are increasing incidents of criminal activity, including carjacking, robbery, and other violent crime, especially after dark.


Your mission team will be spending the majority of the time in a small, rural community in Central Kenya where terrorist attacks are unlikely. Nevertheless, you should be aware that Kenya has experienced several terrorist incidents in recent years. In 1998, car bombs at the American embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya killed approximately 230. In 2002, a car bomb at a hotel in Mombassa, Kenya, roughly fifty miles from the border with Tanzania, left fifteen dead. As the hotel was heavily used by tourists from Israel, it is believed this terrorist act meant to target Jews. That same day, terrorists made an unsuccessful attempt to shoot down an Israeli plane departing Mombassa. Both incidents have been attributed to the al-Qaida network.

Crime: Kenya has a relatively high crime rate – especially in major urban areas like Nairobi. This includes pick pocketing, petty theft, car jacking, armed robbery, burglary and fraud. While in country, we will always be accompanied by Kenyans. In Nairobi, in transit to Meru and while we are on safari, each of our vans will carry a professional van driver who is always looking out for our safety.

Based on past VIM mission team accounts, our mission hosts will go out of their way to assure that we are always safe and feel secure during our time in Kenya. The team that traveled to Meru, Kenya in January of 2005 and January 2006 felt quite safe and enjoyed a relaxed, comfortable environment.

Team members should never walk anywhere in Kenya alone; always walk in groups of two or more.

Crime aside, there are no insurgent movements in Kenya that threaten its government or its general population and no foreign nation poses an immediate threat. Internally, the country enjoys a healthy degree of political stability, however, instability in neighboring Sudan and Uganda undermines security along Kenya’s border with those countries.

Food, Water, Other Hardships: If your health is fragile, travel to Kenya might not be advisable. The flight to Kenya extends over 30 hours and you could go without sleep for up to 45 hours on the return trip.

Water quality in Kenya is very poor. Never drink water from a tap. Do not use tap water for brushing your teeth. Do not swallow shower water when bathing. Do not ever ask for ice in your drinks as ice is usually made from tap water. Also avoid certain fruits and vegetables, especially lettuce that may have been washed in tap water. As a rule, peel-and-eat fruits and vegetables are okay. If you aren’t sure, ask the team leader. (Some restaurants make their ice from boiled water and wash their lettuce in boiled water which makes it “somewhat safer” to consume.)

The Team Medic will bring a First Aid kit with an assortment of medicines. It is advisable for each team member to also bring their own medicines to treat nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea.

There will be considerable walking associated with the mission trip. Roads can be extremely rocky and steep. Work on the mission project can also be quite physically strenuous.


There are several forms required by VIM that you must complete to even be considered for the mission team to Kenya.

Copies of these forms are included following this page. However, your Team Leader may have more up to date forms so check before completing the following forms.

All forms must be signed and, in some cases, you must also get the forms notarized before you submit them to the Team Leader.

These forms are:

1.) Purpose, Values, Tasks and Mission Policy Agreement

This is your pledge. Read it carefully. Review it during the mission trip to refresh your memory.

2.) Medical Release

Declare who will make medical decisions for you on the trip if you are incapacitated.

3.) Medical Information & Emergency Contacts

Tells us about your health history, any medical or food allergies, drugs you are taking, etc. plus who to contact in the event of an emergency during the mission.

4.) To My Physician

See your physician to get a prescription for anti-malaria medicine. Take this form along and get your physician’s approval that your general health is adequate for the mission.

5.) Notification of Death

In the event you die on the mission, who do we contact? Do you want to be cremated? Where should the US Embassy send your personal belongings?

6.) Parental Consent (if applicable)

Have this form completed if you are under the age of 18.

7.) Liability Release

Everyone must sign this form and have it notarized.

8.) Mission Team Insurance

Read carefully and sign this statement about the mission insurance coverage.



1. Pay the VIM Mission Trip Fees

The cost to participate on this mission is$3,000 per person which covers airfare, ground transportation, lodging, secondary insurance, and most meals.

 To be considered for the team, in addition to submitting all required VIM forms, you
must pay a refundable deposit fee of $300 no later than ___date___.

 $1,350 partially refundable payment is due no later than 120 days before departure.
No airline ticket will be purchased until this payment is received. This money is
partially non-refundable.

 $1,350 non refundable payment no later than 6 weeks before the departure date.
At this time, the airline tickets are non-refundable.

Your payments can be made through your church or directly to VIM (i.e., payable to “Oklahoma Volunteers in Mission”). Checks should be marked “For Kenya-#___________.”
Mail to Shannon Lemmons, OK VIM, 1501 NW 24th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73106.

2. Get Necessary Shots and Medication

If you don’t already have the necessary shots to travel to Kenya, you need to get them.
At a minimum, it is recommended that you get

 a Hepatitis A and B vaccine series (a series of 3 shots at $46.00 each; good for life)

 a diphtheria/tetanus toxiod booster if not received during the past 10 years

 a prescription for anti-malaria medication

You might also consider getting a Yellow Fever inoculation ($75.00, good for 10 years), an adult Polio booster (free), Meningococcal (aka meningitis) inoculation ($68, good for 3 years) and a Typhoid inoculation ($46, good for 2 years). There is no effective vaccination for cholera.
Some immunizations are only available through the Oklahoma City-County Health Department. Call 425-4362 and ask for the “Travel Immunizations Department” to make an appointment.

Some anti-malaria medication needs to be started before departing on the mission. Even if you are taking medication, you can still get malaria. Malaria can be easily cured. Bring insect repellent, avoid being outside at night, use your mosquito net and you should have no problems.

3. Be Sure Your Passport Is Valid

Your passport expiration date must be more than 6 months from the date of the mission. It must also have two facing pages with no marks or stamps on them. Otherwise, you must order a renewal passport prior to the mission. To get or renew a US passport, go to

 Give a copy of the first two pages of your passport to the Team Leader.

 Leave a copy of your passport with someone at home.

 Make a copy of your passport that you will carry with you to Kenya.

4. Arrange for Prayer Partners Before and During the Mission Trip

Encourage friends and members of your church to pray for you and for the entire mission team as you prepare to depart and while you are in Kenya.

5. Attend Team Orientation Meetings

Your Team Leader will schedule several orientation meetings before you depart to help team members get better acquainted, learn about Kenya and get answers to questions.

6. Schedule a Sending Forth Ceremony At Your Church

Encourage your minister to hold a special sending forth ceremony during worship service on the Sunday before you depart for Kenya. A sample is listed below:

Commissioning of Volunteers In Mission to Kenya

PASTOR: Dear Friends, today we recognize, celebrate, and bless those from among us who go as Volunteers In Mission. Today we would consecrate them and their expressions of God’s love in a specialized service of Jesus Christ.

CONGREGATION: We commend you to this work and pledge to you our prayers, encouragement, and support. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you, that in this and in all things you may do God’s will in the service of Jesus Christ.

PASTOR: Almighty God, look with favor upon these persons who commit themselves to serve in the name of Christ. Give each of them courage, patience, and vision; and strengthen us all in our Christian vocation of witness to the world and of service to others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

7. (Optional) Help Raise Funds Related to Work Project

Help raise funds for projects and items to bring to Kenya.


Every team member will be asked to volunteer for one of the job positions listed below:

(1) Bill Payer – Pay trip bills, record expenditures on spreadsheet, collect receipts.

(2) Banker – Manage currency exchange from dollars to Kenya Shillings; carry enough small bills to be able to change larger denomination shillings into smaller bills

(3) Project Coordinator – Coordinate with workmen, direct work team assignments

(4) Equipment/Supplies Coordinator – Identify tools to bring, monitor tools at work site

(5) Devotions Leader – Organize brief morning and evening devotions

(6) Music Leader – Bring lyrics and music for when the team sings

(7) Journal Keeper – Record events/facts/names for thank you’s, blog, etc

(8) Official Photographer – Take “official” group photos and record who is in pictures

(9) Weblog Manager – Periodically get access to Internet and post to our weblog

(10) Luggage Coordinator – Purchase or make two sets of unique luggage tags that will go on all baggage such as “tassels” made from thick, brightly colored yarn. One set (color) goes on every checked and carry on bag; the second (in a different color) goes on all luggage that is to be locked up over night at the Methodist Guest House on the first night (versus luggage you will take to our rooms the first night). Hand these out luggage tags out at one of the team meetings prior to the trip or at the airport. Also count and monitor luggage so no suitcase gets left behind/lost.

(11) Head Counter – When the group is on the move, count and make sure everyone is present. Follow behind the rest of the group so that, when the team leader sees you, it is clear that everyone on the team is present and accounted for.

(12) Team Medic – Bring and maintain control of team’s medical kit during the mission. Include Meclizine or Bonine (over the counter) for motion sickness (in the vans).

(13) Bottled Water Coordinator – Buy bottled water and replenish supply as needed

(14) Snacks Coordinator – Bring a checked bag filed with snacks such as tiny Tootsie Rolls, little bags of M&Ms, individually wrapped candies, little boxes of raisins, peanut butter and/or cheese crackers, saltine crackers and jars of peanut butter and grape jelly, breakfast bars, trail mix, etc. Your expenses will be reimbursed from the trip budget up to $150. Bring individual packets of powdered drink mix (lemonade, iced tea, etc) that one pours into a water bottle to make a flavored drink (Walmart sells these). Include in the snack suitcase two small, identical satchels you will use to carry snacks to the worksite each day and have in our two vans when traveling.

(15) Safety Boss – Maintain team supply of insecticide, hand sanitizer, sun screen

(16) Meal Liaison – Determine if any team member has food allergies, is a vegetarian, has strong food preferences, etc. Coordinate with the White Star Hotel regarding the menu for breakfasts and dinners. Also work with the person who provides our lunches and teas as you will need to reimburse them for the cost of these meals.

(17) Hotel Liaison – This person interviews the manager to determine things like (a) do they offer a service at the front desk whereby you can make inexpensive phone calls to the United States and, if not, where a phoning service is located, (b) are you charged for every bottle of water left in our rooms – even if you don‘t drink the water, (c) do you have to drop off the room key at the front desk to get our room cleaned, (d) is there a room you can use for evening devotionals and will there be a charge for using it and can you reserve it now, (e) how does their laundry service operate, (f) is there Internet access for guests at the hotel and, if not, where do they suggest you go to get on the Internet, (7) any other hotel related questions that team members can think up. Also, learn the names of the hotel staff and advise the Bill Payer on how much to tip at check out time.


Here is some useful information regarding air travel and travel insurance.

Non-refundable Airline Ticket

Only those persons who have paid their FULL mission fee AND provided a photocopy of the first two pages of their passport will be ticketed.

Tickets are not refundable for any reason including illness and death in the ticket holder’s immediate family. They can only be changed – and all changes must be made prior to the original departure date. Otherwise the ticket will be null and void. There is a fee assessed for any changes made.

All air miles earned accrue to the Oklahoma VIM Office.

VIM Travel Insurance

To assure that every member of an OK VIM mission is covered in the event of an accident at any location in the world, during all periods and phases of the mission, participation in the low cost OK VIM insurance program is required of each missioner. The cost of this insurance is included in your team mission fees.

Mission team members are covered for injury for the duration of the mission. The plan covers medical payments up to a limit of $10,000 per person and $3 million per occurrence. This insurance does NOT cover illness not caused by injury.

With this coverage, team members also have the same coverage as provided under the Oklahoma Workers Compensation law which includes full medical benefits, benefits for disability, loss of limb or eyes, referral to medical specialists, medical monitoring when hospitalized, emergency medical evacuation to an adequate facility, medically necessary repatriation, as well as return of mortal remains. This is a worldwide executive assistance plan.

You may also sign up for short-term supplemental traveler’s insurance if you so desire.

(Insert a page here that is a photocopy of both sides of the Executive Assistance insurance policy card that VIM will provide.)


You are allowed two carry-on pieces – a small duffle bag or rolling suitcase and a purse and/or
camera bag. Your combined carry-on items should not weight more than 25 pounds. No sharp
instruments may be carried in your carry-on luggage.

You will also bring two suitcases to be checked. One will contain your personal items; the other
is reserved for construction tools and gifts that we are bringing to Kenya. These suitcases can
weigh no more than 50 pounds each.

In order to expedite the customs process (and to help if a suitcase is lost), prepare and carry on your person during the flight a list of items in each of the bags for which you are responsible.

Boxes are considered non-luggage; in the event of an over-full plane, they will be left behind first.

Pack one medium to large sized bag with wheels for your personal items and clothes. You will have to handle this bag – along with your carry on items, so bring a bag of manageable size. Space for luggage on the vans and in your room is limited. For your second suitcase (filled with team supplies), try to use an old suitcase that you won’t mind leaving behind.

Although Meru is almost directly on the equator, it is at 5,600 ft elevation so is usually cool. At night, it will be in the 50's and 60's. Daytime temperatures depend on the month; the coolest months are May, June, July, November, and December. The rainy seasons are mid-October through mid-December and mid-March through May. It is usually in the 80 - 85 F. Layer your clothes so as it warms up you can shed items. However, remember the sun is intense so try to always wear sunscreen and a hat.

Here are some suggestions to help you when packing:

Order of Packing Your Suitcase

a.) On the bottom of your suitcase, pack the outfit you plan to wear home on the airplane.

b.) Next, pack the outfit you will wear sightseeing in Nairobi on your final day in Kenya.

c.) Next, pack three days wear for the safari including slacks or shorts, light tops (sleeveless okay), light sweater or jacket, a swimsuit, comfortable shoes or sandals, binoculars

d.) Next, pack your work outfits and what you plan to wear to church and out to dinner one evening. Consider bringing t-shirts bought at Salvation Army store to leave behind.

e.) In your carryon luggage, pack what you will need at the Methodist Guest House the first night and the clothes you will wear your first full day in Kenya plus your toiletries, medicines. Carry a soft, unstructured satchel you can bunch up under the seat in front of yours containing reading material, ear plus, eye drops, eye mask, pillow, toothbrush and toothpaste, contact lens case, extra pair of glasses, nasal spray, bottled water, etc.

Carry-On Items (Things you don’t want to lose; to get you through the first night)

Money pouch to carry passport and money
Money (see discussion on currency below)
Airline ticket (provided to you at the airport)
Photo identification (driver’s license or other)
Passport (plus a copy in one suitcase)
Yellow international immunization booklet
Medications (in their original containers)
Copies of prescriptions for medicines
Camera, accessories, extra battery and charger
Twice the film you think you will use
Sweater or light jacket
Travel pillow, eye mask, earplugs, slippers Sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat
Lip balm, hand lotion
Wash cloth and a small, light weight towel
“No water” bacterial hand sanitizer
Battery driven alarm clock and extra batteries
Journal, pens or pencils
Devotional and/or other reading material
Small flashlight and extra batteries
Personal toiletries
Small calculator for currency exchange
Credit cards (for use at Lodge, Nairobi stores)
Snacks and a small water bottle
Insect repellant containing DEET
Nightgown/pajamas for first night in Nairobi
One change of clothes

NOTE: At the airport, keep your passport and a photo ID handy as you will need to show them at the check-in counter and when you go through the security area.

Clothes for the Work Site (Work clothes can be left behind and donated)
Comfortable cotton slacks or blue jeans
Cotton shirts, T-shirts or hospital scrubs (can purchase at Salvation Army or other resale store)
Lace up shoes with thick soles or work boots
Several pairs of work socks
Lightweight jacket or sweat shirt for cool evenings
Several pairs of work gloves
NO tight fitting clothing. NO shorts. NO tank tops. NO sleeveless tops.

Clothes for Church Worship Service on Sunday(s)
Dress is casual but nice. Many Kenyan women wear bright patterned dresses and long skirts. Do not wear sleeveless blouses or tank tops. Ladies might wear a jumper, a skirt, a casual dress or a pant suit. Men might wear khaki’s or nice casual pants with a nice shirt. Consider one pair of sandals or comfortable walking shoes.

Clothes for the Safari
It will be cool when we leave at 6 am in the morning but will be hot and dry in the afternoons.
Khaki and/or camouflage colors don’t draw animals’ attention. Blue jeans and shorts are fine.
Sandals or light shoes are okay as you rarely are outside the van.
A swimsuit (There is a lovely pool at the Lodge)
Good binoculars are a must (borrow a pair if necessary)

Other Items You Might Also Consider Bringing
An extra pair of glasses or contact lenses
Lots of batteries (including hearing aid batteries if appropriate)
A small backpack/satchel for carrying items to and from the work site
Travel converter and the appropriate plugs for Africa (if bringing battery charger, etc)
Snack food (your own personal treats)
Many-pocketed travel vest and/or safari pants are very practical
You might bring a portable radio (although few stations broadcast in English), an MP3 player/IPod or a portable CD player and favorite CDs.


Lodging & Room Assignments

In Nairobi, we will stay in the Methodist Guest House.

In Meru, we will either stay at the White Star Hotel or at the Bio-Intensive Agricultural Training Centre.

On safari, we will be at Sarova Shaba Lodge in Isiolo.

We will decide prior to leaving who will room together. Some people may want to room alone because of snoring problems, etc. but doubling up is recommended if at all possible.

Ground Transportation & Van Assignments

Vans with drivers will pick up the mission team at the airport in Nairobi and provide ground transportation on most of the mission trip. The drivers are very knowledgeable and speak English. We will put all luggage in one van and team members in the other two vans.


Money and Valuables

Carry as small a bag or purse as possible. Wear your fanny pack or backpack on the front of your person. Put your billfold in a front pocket. Avoid purses with long shoulder straps. Carry important documents and/or money in a money belt or bag worn under clothing.

It is up to you to decide how much money to bring on the trip. Bring cash to Kenya. US $50’s and $100’s get a better exchange rate than smaller denominations. Kenya will not accept US $50’s and $100’s dated 1996. All bills need to be NEW and CRISP. Also bring some US $1’s and $5’s for tips and purchases in flight and during your layover in England. You will have several opportunities to exchange your US dollars for Kenyan shillings beginning at the airport in Nairobi.

Do not bring travelers check; they are too hard to change. Do not carry personal checks as they take too long to be credited to an account plus banks charge a 10%-13% handling fee.

There will be a few stores that take credit cards. However, some stores charge extra to pay with a credit card; so ask first.

Make copies of your credit cards (both sides) and instructions for cancellations in case of theft. The same applies to your driver’s license if you choose to bring it.

Leave expensive jewelry and sunglasses (even look-alikes) at home.

Shopping and Tipping

You will have opportunities to purchase items during the mission but especially during the final three days in Kenya. The Lodge where we will safari and some stores in Nairobi will accept credit cards.

Carry small denomination bills and be prepared to bargain. It is not necessary to tip at meals as this is included in the cost of our meals. The Team Leader will take care of tipping our drivers, the hotel staff and staff at the Lodge. If you request assistance carrying your luggage to your room, the rule for tipping is $1 US per two bags.


Do not drink alcohol or smoke on the mission. Kenyans will recognize you as a Methodist missionary. In the Kenyan church, there is NO SMOKING OR DRINKING. We are their guests and will follow their rules.

Do not photograph anyone without their consent. Some consider it “stealing their soul.”

Do not show disrespect for authority.

Don’t take a photograph of the President or any other leaders.

Do not photograph any government or military building, vehicle, etc.

Do not make a show of your wealth anywhere.

Do not EVER give away money.

Do not exchange money on the black market.

Do not take or buy any drugs.

Do not wear any suggestive clothing (no shorts except while on safari and no short dresses or skirts). Wear a swimsuit only at the swimming pool at the Lodge.

Do not make promises to anyone you can’t keep. We can pray with them for specific needs and let local leaders understand our concern about the problems.

Do not be upset to see men holding hands. This is acceptable in Kenya and does not mean sexual preference.

Do try to learn the greetings in Swahili and use them.

Do shake hands if one is extended to you.

Do try new foods. Smile and say thank you as you at least try one bite. It is rude to refuse food.

Do stand up if the flag and anthem are presented.

Do keep an open mind. Absorb all you can from the culture, people, smells and sounds. God is here also. Go with the understanding that our culture should not and will not be used as criteria for judgment.

Do participate with the people. You will be blessed a hundred times over as you get to know the people of Kenya personally.


(Insert team roster here)


There is unreliable and very limited access to computers for reading and sending emails and posting to our blog. You can purchase a “scratch card” (purchase calling time) and phone home on a hotel cell phone at the White Star Hotel.

Below are names of people and places to help your family reach you in Kenya.

(Insert contact names and phone numbers here)

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