Two Sterling missionaries have managed to get out of harm's way in Kenya, but their trials are not yet over as they remain somewhat stranded in Africa.
Marvin Brazington, 72, and Keenan Wegener, 13, were at the heart of ethnic and political violence that erupted Dec. 27 following a presidential election some have charged was rigged.
After their hotel in Kakemega, Kenya, was fire bombed, the two, who were serving a mission for Ministries of the Living Stones church in Sterling, were whisked out of the country with the help of a resident church elder, and put up in a hotel in neighboring Uganda by the U.S. Embassy there.
Now they are facing financial difficulties as throngs of others fleeing the Kenya violence are trying to get flights out of a clogged Kampala, Uganda airport. Keenan's mother, Tina Wegener, said because of prior bookings, the two missionaries have had to move to another hotel, also in Kampala.
"They managed to get booked on a flight Jan. 14," said Tina Wegener from her Sterling home on Friday. "We're trying to get them out earlier on stand-by."
Maintaining continual contact with her only child, Wegener said Keenan told her Friday morning that food prices "and everything else" are going up rapidly as more and more people arrive in the Ugandan city.
"It seems everything comes into the region through Kenya," Tina Wegener said. "Now that the border's been closed, they're not getting anything."
She said her son befriended the chef at the hotel where the boy and Brazington are staying.
"The chef said they would be OK as long as it didn't drag on too long," Wegener said.
Her son and Brazington were originally scheduled to spend three months on their mission, which began Nov. 1. They began in Nairobi, Kenya, then moved to Kakemega working in several small villages around that city. Tina Wegener said they helped with some building projects at an orphanage, put up bunk beds and fixed furniture, while also spreading God's word.
Nearing the end of the mission, their funds were running low even before costs started escalating.
"Our pastor has met with other pastors and they've set up an account for (Keenan and Brazington)," Wegener said.
People who wish to help get the missionaries back to Alaska may make donations to the "Ministry of the Living Stones Mission Relief Fund for Marvin Brazington and Keenan Wegener" at First National Bank of Alaska. The special account number is 70495213.
Tina Wegener said arrangements have been made to wire the money to the missionaries by way of the U.S. Embassy in Kampala.
Although the embassy assisted the pair in finding a hotel room, the missionaries are paying for it with their own money.
Fay Brazington, Marvin's wife, said earlier that he has been on a number of foreign missions with the church.
"This is his second time in Africa," she said. "He's been to Costa Rica three times, Nicaragua once and Brazil once."
This is Keenan's first mission.
"He sounds good," Tina Wegener said after speaking with her son by phone Friday morning. "He's ready to come home, though."
She said he was somewhat disappointed in having to leave Kenya as people there had planned to take the missionaries on a safari.
"Keenan made acquaintances with the owners of the hotel in Kampala, and they were so taken by him, when they found out about the canceled safari in Kenya, they said they are going to take them on a safari and sightseeing through Uganda," Tina Wegener said.
The Jan. 14 flight for which they have reservations will fly them direct to Anchorage, Wegener said.
She said earlier that she is concerned, "but I feel God will get him home."
Phil Hermanek can be reached at email@example.com.
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