27 December 2019… Thursday:

Hey from Kenya… Most of the team has finely arrived for this much awaited day. Two of three members will be arriving tomorrow night then our team will be all together. I t very hot and rainy here, in fact Kenya is experiencing one of the wettest seasons in history. There has been extreme flooding, that has caused over 60 deaths. Tomorrow we are dividing up… Janelle, Grace, Glenn, Georgene and Christie will be going to ITHM, Jennifer and Johnny’s foundations that gives a safe place to live along with food, medical care, education and lots of love to children that have been abused, abandoned or forced into marriage. We are hoping that the road to their place will be passable. Eric, Luke and I will be going to Kawanmgware, the third largest slum in Kenya. We are hoping for it to be clear both tonight and tomorrow so the road will be passible to ITHM.

28 December 2019… Friday:

Today was a great day… unfortunately we received a lot of rain last night and it was still raining out at ITHM this morning so the team members that were so looking forward to having a special day with the kids could not go. All of us went to Kawanmgware, the third largest slum in Kenya. It was our first time there and when we were walking into the church, we were so blessed with the sound of children singing and dancing praising God for all that He has done. Pastor Johnathon Wambua and his wife Helen started the church back in 2007, when they were forced to leave Eldoret due to tribal wars because of because of post-election violence.. They settled in Kawanmgware and have been helping to feed, educate and spread the love of God to the people around them since. Pastor Johnathon and Helen have two ministries there, one is the church they started up called Glory Networking Evangelical Ministry and the other is a ministry to help feed and educate the kids of the slum called Child Saving and Rescue Center. When they first arrived, they started with 20 kids in the church and now, they teach the word of God at least a 100. Church’s in slums are small but there are a lot of them and this one is no different. When I was listing to Pastor Johnathon tell his story I could not believe the amount of love and care that was coming from his heart for the people that both him and Helen were sent by God to bring love and compassion to the people around them. It was very emotional and mind blowing at the same time.
Their second ministry, Child Saving and Rescue Center now has 67 kids that they educate and feed daily. The kids are fed one meal a day when they are getting educated. The school has four teachers and one cook along with a lot of love for the kids they help. The Pastor’s biggest concern is food, trying to feed the kids daily. He would love to be able to feed the kids two meals a day, but the funds are not there. I was told it cost about $300.00 a month to feed the kids and the kids and staff are grateful for the food that they receive. When we were there the kids were served a meal thanks to your tithes and the giant pot of rice and lentils went very quickly. Each child received one bowl then went up for seconds until the food was gone. Once they ate, they all received a very special treat, a soda pop, which a lot of kids shared. It was beautiful site seeing the kids both eat and share with each other their special treat. Once the food was gone and their bellies were full the empty pot and soda bottles went away then we were gifted with more singing and dancing from the kids. At one point some of the team members joined them in song and dance praising God for all that He has done.
We also delivered food baskets to four families in the slum. Each food basket contained rice, beans, butter, oil, flour, maze, soap, toilet paper, a scrubby sponge and a few pieces of hard candy for the kids… which they call sweets. All the families that received the baskets were very grateful and the food will last anywhere from two week or more depending on the size of the family. When we go into the house, we hear the family’s story then someone says a prayer. There was one man that stuck out to me, his name was George. George was disabled, due to polio, so he had limited options when it came to work. One of the first things we were told was the word disabled was considered offensive to someone, they use the word able different, which I really liked. It is very humbling to walk inside of someone’s house and both see and hear their struggles. Their houses are shacks about 8’x8’… if that… which some of them pay rent for. The first house we visited the woman asked for prayer for a job. She was not able to pay the rent for the last three months, which was equivalent to our $25.00 per month. I don’t know if the church found a way to pay it for her or what, I couldn’t believe that were the average person makes less than a $1.00 a day is having to pay $25.00 a month for rent in a home that is nothing but sheet metal thrown up into a square structure and called a shanti.
I cannot thank all of you enough all the support through both your prayers and tithes. This was our first day and we were able to see kids eat until the food was gone and give food baskets to families that needed food. This could not have been done without all of you… Thank you

Tomorrow we have a very long ride to the village of Obaga, which I am looking forward to seeing all the Jewels and kids again. It has been a long year and I feel like I’m going home to say hi to my family once again.

 

30 December 2019… Monday:

Today is was a day full of fun and giggles… yes it was kid day.  The day started off with the women talking to the girls and the mem talking to the boys.  The women talked to the girls about what your body goes through when it hits puberty and what to expect when your monthly cycle starts.  The girls are very shy about that kind of stuff and sat in total silence when the information was being put out.  Once Christy was done explaining to the girls the changes that they will be experiencing in their bodies Christy took out a Days for Girls kit… theses are reusable menstruation kits… and showed them what was inside of it along with how to put it on.  Two members of the team also walked through it showing them while Christy was explaining… this is when all the giggles started… the girls enjoyed watching us put on underwear… over our pants of course… and getting a live demonstration of how to put on the pads.  Since the girls are shy about asking those type of questions, we handed out paper and pens to the girls and asked them to write out their questions and then we collected them… one by one we answered their questions.  Once we had their questions answered we then distributed we then distributes the Days for Girls kits to the girls.  Thankfully we had enough to go around with some to spare which will be handed out to other girls when their cycle starts.

Over here they can’t afford any pads for their cycle so when the girls or woman starts her cycle, she will miss school or work for the entire length of their cycle.  These kits change the lives of the girls and women around the world. The girls can stay in school instead of missing a week of school every month and the women if they have a job can continue to work so they can bring money home to provide for their children.  The girls were very grateful for their kits. The Durango Days for Girls chapter donated 165 kits to Obaga, 100 kits for the girls and 65 heavy flow kits for the women.

The men were talking to the boys answering their questions.  The boys were asking questions about our government, if there is corruption in the government and other things. Eric then told them about an experiment that was given to rats to explain hope. There were 34 rats, the fiercest, wild rats he could get and dropped them in a bucket of water one by one and timed on how long they will swim until they would drown, and the average time was 15 minutes.  Then the next day 34 more rats, the same kind of rats, were put into a bucket of water one by one but when the rats were fully exhausted the scientist give the rat a break then the rat was put back inside the water again and continued to do that until the rat succumbed to the water and drowned. This time the average time the rat survived was 72 hours not 15 minutes.  When Eric shared that story with the team, I was saying to myself at first… those poor rats why would anyone want to do an experiment like that… then once I thought about the story, I realized how you can weather the storms that life throws at you so much better as long as you have hope… knowing that God is right there with you always even if you don’t feel Him or can see Him in that time of your life.  To keep hanging on to hope will carry you through no matter the outcome God will be right beside you. The Jewels of Obaga and the Jewels in the surrounding villages have so much hope to weather all the storms that life gives them… and here they are not given normal size storms, they endure the tidal waves of life with hurricane strength wind constantly lurking finding a way to knock them down.  The Jewels have learned so much to empower themselves it blows my mind… they have come so far since the first day when I met them and I’m so grateful to God for the depth of their faith in Him.

In the afternoon came all the games for the kids. There was a ski game, Kenyan style, the egg and the spoon game, a ball game and the water in the bucket game.  This is one of my most favorite sounds, the sound of a child giggling or laughing.  For me there is nothing greater in the world… it enthrones my heart and stays in the cracks that need it most.

After the games were done the children received a soda pop.  We were expecting 100 kids, but the word got around and there had to be at least 300… the more the merrier… we had cups and we started splitting the soda so it would last and just like the fish that Jesus fed His followers the soda lasted so each child received a special treat…  Thomas said for these kids, unless another team comes and gives them a soda… it will be the only one they will get this year.

As I’m writing this, I can still hear all the giggles and laughter of the kids we were around today… it marinates a smile in my heart.

Tomorrow we will begin the first day of the two-day medical clinic… it will be a very busy two days indeed.

01 January 2020… Wednesday:

Happy New Year coming from Obaga Kenya… we finished our two-day medical clinic today and we saw over 800 people.  It was not as much as last year and that was most likely due to my scheduling.  Apparently in Kenya New Year’s Day is a big celebrated holiday the people start out in church with a service then the festivities begin.  It is a special family day which is concentrated on the kids with lots of fun and games.  Thomas said that a lot of the people thought that the medical clinic would be closed so not as many people came and would show up tomorrow… Thursday… when we were no longer there.  It will still be all good since all the remaining medicine stays at the Obaga dispensary so the doctor will have medication to treat the people that show up.

The first day was an extremely hard day at the clinic.  A mother showed up with her child on Monday needing help and the doctors didn’t have any medication to easy the 12-year-old child’s symptoms. This child suffered from Cyclical Anemia. The mother returned the next day, first thing in the morning when we were their but unfortunately the child died, it was too late. It was so sad, and tears were flowing among so many people there. The medical clinic continued and was able to help so many people in Obaga and all the surrounding villages.  This year the clinic was set up a little differently and the flow was much better, along with 12 clinicians and the patients went through their lines with way less waiting time.  I didn’t think we were seeing that many people because there wasn’t a constant line of people waiting. This year we also had a lab technician to test for malaria on the spot which helped a great deal. We all took our spots and worked away helping in any area that needed help.

This is your tithes in action here in Obaga, without the support of Summit Church this medical clinic would have never happened. Thank you for all your support through your prayers, tithes and donations helping to bring medical care and so much more to the village of Obaga along with all the surrounding villages.

02 January 2020… Thursday:

Today was our choice day… we were able to choose from a selection of options, which suited what you wanted to do… well at least that is the way it started.  The options when we were in the rear was work in the garden with the Jewels, visit the outdoor market… the one the Jewels sell their products at… visit the surrounding villages, get a water project tour, repair the swing set at the Obaga school or take a down day… but by last night another great option came up which was visit Lake Victoria.  The entire team decided to visit Lake Victoria in the morning.  Obaga is a big fishing and farming village so we were able to see the people selling their products by the ferry, which was peanuts… hahaha… you probably thought I was going to say fish didn’t you… all kidding aside, the large fish are sent to other vendors and the regular fish are cut, cleaned, sliced and either dried or cooked and sold in the local hotels… which here are like our fast food restaurants… after spending some time at Lake Victoria we were ready for the next part of our day which was visiting the Market then one of the surrounding villages.  The market is always an awesome experience for me… think of something like a flea market with lots of veggies, cloths, fish, live chickens and goats, and anything else you can image crammed into a very small outdoor space… and yes let’s not forget the selling of a cows so a men can offer the cow to the father of a teenager… if that depending on what tribe the person is coming from, and merry her.  I also was told today that it is better to buy a younger calf which will mean your marriage will grow strong along with the calf. It is very crowded with people at every turn and beautiful at the same time. We did all of this before lunch.  After lunch the team divided up, Eric and Janelle were able to see Emily Rose, one of the girls they sponsor for school, which was so great.  They took Emily Rose into Bondo to buy here things she needed for school and were also able to spend some alone time with her.  Emily Rose has a smile and a laugh that could rock your world and it was such a blessing to see them all together when we returned.  About four months before we left for this mission trip, I heard that the Jewels have been visiting the surrounding villages to help empower the widows to help them out and support them in any way they can.  This team decided to visit one of the villages, so we went to Manywanda.  The Jewels of Manywanda has 80 widows in their group, and since that is large for a group, they have two groups, both A and B. the Jewels of Manywanda started on 24 May 2019 and they have come a long way with the Jewels of Obaga help.  They have established a savings and loan for the widows, individual farming at their homes, making table mats made from bottle tops, which wasn’t very successful because there wasn’t a market for it locally, and poultry keeping (chickens). Unfortunately, they lost the chickens due to disease, but they do see the need for it and would like to try it again once they have had proper training. What I liked the best about visiting the Jewels of Manywanda is the worship time we had with them, through all the music they blessed us with.  We were able to make more connections with a surrounding village, hear some of their story form where they came from and both receive the love they have for us and give the love we have for them… this is what I love the most about missions, the unexpected connections that you make, like having family across the world that no amount of water can separate.

Tomorrow we will be spending time with the Jewels of Obaga, and their children in the morning and building the mud house in the afternoon.

03 January 2020… Friday:

Today we started out the morning visiting with the Jewels and playing with their kids.  We all just morphed into what area we felt like we were suposta be in, whether it was playing football… what we call soccer… sitting down and talking to someone getting to know them better, watching the kids play hula-hoop, holding a small child and everything in-between.

The women did find some time to explain to the Jewels… group A… about how to use the Day for Girls kits and hand them out.  There was some laughter in the process when it came to putting it on over my pants to show them how it works… but it was all good with a side of comedy to break up the presentation.  Once the presentation was over the food was ready for the kids.  Grace, Grace and Luke served the kids their food and one by one the children ate meat, rice, potatoes and greens.

In the afternoon we helped to mud the mud home going to Josephine Alinyi Obura and her five children, who live in a village called Anyuongi, where the Jewels also go to help the widows.  The team and the Jewels of Obaga arrived at the same time and walked into the destination.  When all of us arrived, we were greeted with so much singing praising God for the home that was being built for Josephine and her children.

Josephine comes from a very hard background.  Her husband died, I don’t know how long ago I just know that his job was motorbike transport… these are people who ride motorcycles delivering anything from people to mattress, or food… anything you can imagine you will find a motorcycle finding a way to tie it down, or drag it along the way, to get the merchandise to its destination. One day he went off to work, was hit by a truck and died leaving behind his wife, Josephine and his children behind.  In 2005 Josephine’s home was in such bad shape it fell apart so they could no longer live in it leaving them homeless.  Josephine’s husbands’ mother, her mother-in-law, took her in and abused Josephine both emotionally and physically.  Here if you no longer have a home you are considered a waste of time, it is their culture. When I was interviewing Josephine, she spoke with such a soft voice, not low but the kind of voice that says what I have to say wasn’t worth anyone’s time.  My heart sunk as I heard her story and felt the weight that was coming from her, the amount of despair and maybe even some hopelessness.

Once the construction workers were done and putting on the roof, we all went to work mudding the house.  Mudding the house doesn’t take as long as you think it would, so many Jewels from all around show up to help and the house is done in no time at all.  The men mix the mud and deliver it to areas of the home, and you mud away making brick like mud pies and putting it between the sticks from the bottom to the top.  We started the home around 1600ish and was done around 1730ish… I think… once the mud home was done a prayer was said over the mud home and the ribbon was put up to be cut.  Grace Meyer and Josephine cut the ribbon together and in everyone that could fit went inside of Josephine’s new home. More testimonies were told then Josephine and her children were presented with gifts… a mattress, a blanket, mosquito net, a bible written in Luo, a cross, two curtains and curtain rods, which take the place of doors for the two side rooms, a smokeless cooker and a food basket.

There was a prayer at the end that was so powerful it gave me goose bumps.  I couldn’t understand what she was saying but I know it was about all that Josephine and her children have been through and this was going to be a new beginning… it wasn’t so much the words but the power and the confidence in the way the words were presented.  As I’m finishing up writing this, it is now Saturday and I’m on the plane heading back to Nairobi. I can still feel the power, the confidence and the faith of the words that were spoken and I’m still getting goose bumps down my spine when I think about it.  I truly hope that everything that was said in the prayer happens for this family that has been through so much.

As I’m heading to Nairobi, I have mixed feelings.  I’m sad that I said good-bye to all the Jewels and the children and everyone that I met along the way and I’m excited to continue my trip by staying at ITHM and helping any way I can.

Mike and Grace Latham are also continuing their mission trip by going to where Mike and Rebekah served on their mission trip, at a hospice helping out the people that are around Eldoret and the rest of the team is on their way to some much need and well deserved rest on a safari.

I cannot thank all of you enough for all that you have done for this family and everyone that was given help through this mission trip.  Your prayers, tithes and donations made all of this possible, from feeding kids that were hungry, buying food baskets for families in desperate need of food, putting on a medical clinic and supplying much needed medicine and medical care to so many people, right now people are still being seen and given the medication they need to get better, funding two mud houses for families that needed a safe place to live and so much more. I’m thinking when Pastor Jeff says it’s not your birthday it’s Jesus… well I believe God is smiling down on how much was done with His money to help His precious children in need.