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Trojans In Service - Wed, Jan. 12, 2011
NAIROBI, Kenya - Trevecca's cross country coach Dean Cole has a foundation (Cole Family Foundation for the purpose of helping to fund Christian ministry worldwide.

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Coach Cole recently completed his latest mission trip, this time to Kenya. While coach was there to support one of the CFF missionaries, he interviewed several Kenyan runners that will hopefully produce one men's and one women's runner for next his Trevecca cross country teams next season.

Trevecca Men's Cross Country
Trevecca Women's Cross Country

Coach Cole blogged about his journey to Kenya.

Michael and I had a good final week in Kenya, except for when we showed up at the airport to return to the United States! More on that later. During our last few days there, we shopped a little (mainly Michael), rested a little, and I continued with the interviews of prospective TNU cross country student-athletes.

As it turned out, with a couple of exceptions there weren't a whole lot of runners among the group of young men and women that I spoke with. However, as Pastor Fred began to realize the kind of talent I was in search of, he contacted a friend who used to be a world-class runner in his own rite, who is now coaching young runners in Eldoret and Nairobi. His name is Bernard Anyanga (Coach Ben). There are some photos of him in the photo gallery associated with this blog.

Eldoret is the place in Kenya, located in the Rift Valley, where many of the world's best runners are from. But not only is Coach Ben developing the athletic ability of these young people, he is also developing their character, and that really got my attention! Without launching into a dissertation, suffice it to say that I am as concerned about a potential student-athlete's character as much as their athletic ability.

As I mentioned at the end of my blog update of December 14, Coach Ben invited me to come to their practice at 7:00 AM on the morning of Friday, December 17th to watch his runners work out and to talk with a young woman named Gladys, and a young man named Gabriel. I'm leaving it all in God's hands, but it would be amazing if we could get these two to Trevecca! Gladys' 5K PR (Personal Record) is 17:03. The winning time at the 2010 NAIA Women's National Championships in November was 17:42. And Gabriel is no less talented! I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this! Please pray that we can find a way to get these two young people to Trevecca! The process for getting an international student from Kenya to the hill in Nashville is full of hurdles.

When it came time for us to begin the long journey back to Nashville on Friday evening, December 17th, we loaded up Fred's family and all of our luggage into their little van and headed to the airport. We said our goodbyes, then Michael and I started "the process." But we quickly realized something was amiss! We learned that because of a snow storm in Amsterdam, the plane we were supposed to fly on from Nairobi to Amsterdam hadn't even left Amsterdam for the 8 hour flight to Nairobi. Here we go, right?! Long story short… because of all the bad weather in Europe, we weren't able to leave Nairobi until the 19th, and we finally arrived safely back to Nashville on the evening of the 20th.

Thank you again for all of your prayers for Michael and I, and thank you for continuing to pray for Trevecca's fledgling cross country program!

UPDATE NUMBER FOUR (Dean Cole Updated 20101214)
We had a safe trip returning from Mombasa last Thursday. That is a miracle in and of itself! The roads in Kenya present difficulties you don't find on American streets. There are often more cars on the roads than they were designed to handle. Add in that traffic laws (maybe this isn't so different) aren't enforced, and you have a recipe for potential disaster! But thank God, He watched over us and helped us get back to Nairobi in one piece!

Church on Sunday at the Nairobi Central Church of the Nazarene was great! The music was special, as you might expect, and there was plenty of holy dancing. The sermon was given in English, and translated into French. They normally have two services at Central church, one in Swahili/French and one in English, but this Sunday there was only one service because it was AGM Sunday. AGM stands for Annual General Meeting, which is the same as annual meetings in the local churches in the US. Had we known that it was going to be AGM Sunday at Central church, Michael and I could have brought "official" greetings from Trevecca, and Blakemore Church of the Nazarene (Michael's and my church). When we were asked to say something to the assembly, I went ahead and greeted them on behalf of Dr. Boone and Trevecca, and Michael gave a greeting on behalf of Pastor Dana and Blakemore. We didn't think Dr. Boone and Pastor Dana would mind! 

Afterward there was a nice lunch for all those in attendance at the meeting, and we had the opportunity to spend a little time with Don and Evie Gardner (East Africa Field Director), and Rod and Sarah Reed and their two daughters (Dr. Reed is a Deputy Vice Chancellor at Africa Nazarene University and members of Central church).

I started the interviews with prospective TNU cross country student-athletes today. So far, so good! I will have more interviews tomorrow, then on Friday I am going to a training session with a running club here in Nairobi. There are two very talented young people in particular that I have been invited to talk with. After I finish with all these interviews and return to Nashville, I'll sort through all of the information I've gathered and pray about which of the potential student-athletes to offer scholarships to. Please join me in prayer about this!

UPDATE NUMBER THREE (Dean Cole Updated 20101208)
We're going to eat breakfast at 7:30 a.m., then go visit with Pastor Jaakko and his family before we leave to return to Nairobi. Yesterday we went to Old Town Mombasa (see photo gallery), the oldest part of the city. We visited Fort Jesus, named that because it is in the shape of a cross. It was a Portuguese fort back in the day. Then we walked with a guide through some of the ancient streets of Old Town. Very cool. 

When we returned to the hotel yesterday afternoon, Michael and I swam for a couple of minutes in the Indian Ocean, just so we could say we did!

Last night after dinner we got to see a group of Masai warriors perform a traditional dance. It was pretty cool. The Masai is the group or tribe in Africa that are cow herders, and they always wear red clothes (more like wraps). They are also known for jumping up and down. Don't know why! If we had a track team at Trevecca I would like to recruit a few of them for the long jump and high jump!

UPDATE NUMBER TWO (Dean Cole Updated 20101207)
We are now in Mombasa, which is on the eastern coast of Kenya, on the Indian Ocean. Somalia is about 300 miles or so northeast of here. We arrived in Mombasa last night. The main reason we are in Mombasa is to visit with Pastor Jaakko Ngwehah, who I mentioned in the first communication. Pastor Ngwehah is the pastor of the Mombasa West Church of the Nazarene, and God willing our foundation is going to be helping him get his Master of Divinity degree from either Africa Nazarene University (ANU) or Africa International University.

Today I mainly want to share about the awesome worship experience we had yesterday morning. We drove for about an hour north of Nairobi to a little village off the main road, out in the bush to the Uamani Church of the Nazarene. The tiny church building is made of sticks and mud and has a dirt floor. The "platform" in the front of the church is made of dirt (like dried mud) that was piled up to make it higher than the floor. When we arrived we were greeted by the sweet sound of this small Kenyan congregation enthusiastically singing praises to the Lord accompanied by three drums being played by three of the youth. The church was packed, and there were many children there. We enjoyed a wonderful worship service with our African brothers and sisters, then we went to a nearby river where Pastor Fred baptized 18 people. It was amazing, and very special to be a part of.

Pastor Fred is doing research for the Cole Family Foundation in the area of conflict resolution, specifically reconciliation among warring tribes in Kenya, like occurred in late 2007 and early 2008 following the Kenyan presidential elections. He is studying for a Master of Theology degree at Africa International University.

Next week I'll be talking to some kids about the possibility of coming to Trevecca to study and run cross country. Pastor Fred told me one of the guys we are looking at competed in Kenya's last Olympic trials! Exciting to imagine!

Finally, please pray for me to have wisdom when I talk to those young people.

Okay, time for bed.  It's 10:30PM here, 1:30PM there (we're 9 hours ahead of Central Time).

UPDATE NUMBER ONE (Dean Cole Update 20101206
Our flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi was delayed for more than four hours, so we didn't arrive to Nairobi until around 1:30 AM on Friday (We were supposed to get here at 8:30 PM on Thursday!). My poor friend, Nazarene Pastor Fred Amolo, and his family were waiting for us at the airport at 8:30! Michael Evans (TNU 2009) and I are just glad to finally be here and thankful that we arrived safely! Our internet access has been limited, at least for this first day and a half. Hopefully that will improve and we'll keep the updates coming.

We're here to visit with Pastor Fred and his family, and to check on the status of the research he is doing with funding from The Cole Family Foundation. We will also visit with another friend, pastor Jaakko Ngwehah in Mombosa. Jaakko is a Nazarene pastor that our foundation is considering helping as he seeks to attend the Africa International University in Nairobi. He is answering God's call to earn his Master of Divinity degree.

The third objective of our trip is to interview potential Trevecca cross country athletes in our second week here.

Michael Evans, who is traveling with me on this trip, spent a semester at Africa Nazarene University while a student at Trevecca. He works for World Relief in Nashville and is visiting checking on some of the work they do here in Kenya and visiting friends. He is also our photographer for the trip!

Coach Dean Cole