The UPPC Story Project: Josephine and Peter Mburugu

Hailing from a small town on the slopes of Mt. Kenya, east of Nairobi, Kenya, Josephine and Peter Mburugu have made University Place and University Place Presbyterian Church their home. Not only have they become an essential part of the community, but their connections and leadership have united their hometown of Meru to University Place in a lasting relationship.

Josephine grew up in a Catholic family of nine kids. During her high school years she went to a boarding school where she joined a Christian union. While in her third year there, Josephine said, “I became born again and realized I needed my own faith and my own relationship with God.”

She went on to become a high school teacher, teaching subjects such as English, literature, and Christian religion and traditions. Peter was also a teacher in Kenya at the time the two met.

After Josephine and Peter were married, Peter became a pastor in Kenya.

Later on, an opportunity arose for Peter to learn critical pastoral care in the United States. So, Peter went ahead of his family for a one-year internship. Josephine and their two children joined him in 2001. After spending three months in Arizona, the family moved to the Tacoma area so Peter could start training as a chaplain at St. Joseph Medical Center.

It was at that time that the Mburugus learned about UPPC from the principal of the school their children were attending. The family began attending and ended up working on staff as janitors for four years as Peter studied at Seattle University.

Josephine also went back to school in the states, attending UW Tacoma and then completing her undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing at UW Seattle.

“My wife is a nurse and she loves taking care of people and I am a chaplain. I feel called to work on a professional level as well as my calling.” Peter said.

In their early years at UPPC, Josephine and Peter began suggesting finding a way the church could help aid Kenya as the AIDS crisis began to wreak havoc. In 2003, the couple, current senior pastor Jeff Yergler and UPPC member Sharon Moffit made the trek to Meru, Kenya.

Upon returning home, finding a way to help Meru became more than just a dream as Cherish Meru was born.

“UPPC as a church has been a blessing because it is mission oriented. So, when we came up with the idea of supporting children in Kenya, they actively got involved. And for that reason they have been a blessing to us and to what we felt like God called us to do in Meru, Kenya,” Peter said.

Partnering with Hope International Ministry Trust based out of Kenya, Cherish Meru strives to educate, equip and empower children in need in Meru through child sponsorships, caregiver visits and auxiliary support. Over the last 17 years, hundreds of children have been served and given hope.

“We have a passion for making a difference, especially for the children and youth because that is where we feel that we are answering God’s call,” Peter said. “We are just vessels in terms of letting God use us in the way he sees appropriate to bring the difference to relieve people from suffering and to have people experience Jesus.”

Together, the couple has gone back to Kenya many times to see how God is at work, bringing members of UPPC with them.

“One of my joys when we go back to Kenya has been to watch the people that go meet the kids they sponsor and just see them in person, interact with them, and see where they live. It has been a real life-changing experience for the people who have been able to do that. It has also been wonderful for the people here to go there and realize that there is so much we have in common,” Josephine said.

To learn more about Cherish Meru, visit http://www.cherishmeru.org/.

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