Lillian

A few days ago we trekked around Bikeke Village visiting some of the homes of the orphans who are being sponsored by Appleseed.  (I think I mentioned earlier that orphans in Kenya are kids who have either lost or been abandoned by one or both parents.  These kids are left with relatives who can ill afford to take care of their own, much less more kids, so oftentimes these orphans have very, very little in the way of food, bedding, clothes and rarely are able to attend school.)  Stanley is one of the kids we went to visit.  He’s bright, healthy, energetic and excited to get to go to school.  While we were there, however, we had the great chance to meet Lillian.  Lillian is 14.  She dropped out of school some time ago.  If changes are not made, she will go the way of many young girls in Kenya.  Her parents want her to marry soon for two reasons.  One, they will receive a dowry of several cows; and two, there will be one less mouth to feed.  Lillian doesn’t know what she wants.  She has little hope for a life any different than her mother’s.  She has no initiative, no initiative to seek a better existence.  The village is steeped in apathy and lethargy, a mindset that is bogged down in spiritual darkness and oppression laced with superstitions never quite satiated by prices paid to the local witchdoctor.  As an example, there is the common practice of wives buying spells to hopefully ensure that their husbands will not have an affair or get a second wife.

Can Lillian hope for more than this type of life?  Can she believe in a God that actually wants an abundantly good life for her and that He will even give her a way to get that life?  We asked her these questions; we challenged her.  Sheepishly, she agreed.  “Yes, I want a good life.”  We asked if she would come to school on Monday.  “Yes, I will,” she said.  Will her parents allow her to come instead of helping weed the maize or doing the wash or getting the water come Monday?  Will she push her way out of a generational system that is masochistically content in their poverty?  It takes courage and perseverance, a change of heart and mind.  Is Lillian one who can do this?  I pray against all odds, she will be a Margaret Thatcher and say, “Defeat?  I do not recognize the meaning of the word!”

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School Uniforms You Provided Were Distributed

It was a very happy day at Bikeke School as children received their brand new uniforms and shoes.  For many, this was the first time they owned the type of school outfit that other Kenyan children wore because they could not afford them.  Now they can… thanks to you!

As you can see, shoes were also needed
And provided!

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A Gift to Us and to Orphans

Just had to write this before it gets lost in the sea of experiences day to day… we spent the morning in Bikeke Village with John, the Director of Liberty School.  We were visiting the homes of some of the orphans who are being sponsored by some of the extremely generous partners with Appleseed.  Thanks to their gifts, these kids who once did not attend school, now are; and where they once ate very, very little, they are now receiving at least one good meal per day.  (Orphans in Kenya typically means children whose parents have either died or abandoned them and, they are now living with a relative who can ill afford to house and feed yet one more.)

I’ve written about John before, but today Roger and I have yet one more confirmation that God has connected us with the absolute right man; a man full of integrity, desiring to transform a village by the power of God.  After a rain-soaked morning of trekking up muddy roads and tiny footpaths to visit some of the student’s homes, we got a ride with John back to Kitale where we stopped for lunch.  John, as usual, knew about half the people in the hotel (restaurant), so just getting all three of us seated was a bit time-consuming.  Fortunately for us, we even knew someone there, so time was not completely “wasted.”  Quickly, we realized that even our waiter knew John as he greeted him warmly.  After lunch, young 20’sh Daniel, the waiter, came up to me, “Mama, if there is any way you can help John, please do.  He has helped me so much.  I am from Bikeke Village; I was a drunkard and led a useless life.  John has encouraged me so much; he is now my pastor and he has told me how to get a better life.  He helps so many of the youths in our village and our lives are very different because of him and the message of hope he has given to us.”

We consider John a gift from God.  There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Africans with a desire to meet up with a mzungu to do a “project.”  John and his wife Naomi were already living in Bikeke Village, already had started a work with orphans, bringing them to sit in dirt or wooden benches so they could be taught…even using the dirt as a blackboard.  He is a man of integrity, authentic through and through.  He is the one whose mantra is:

I Samuel 2:8:  “He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap To make them sit with nobles, And inherit a seat of honor; For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, And He set the world on them.”

John has been there, where these kids now are.  He has been lifted from the ash heap and made to sit with princes.  The great part about John is that he doesn’t want to sit there alone; he invites all who want to, to join him there.  Many in Bikeke Village are responding to his call and are being lifted up.  Thank you all so very much – everyone who has ever partnered in whatever way with Appleseed Ministry Group has participated in helping to transform this village steeped in discouragement and hopelessness into one of daring to hope and receive the miracles that are theirs!  Thank you!

Daniel the waiter

John

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Meet Janet

When I first met Janet five years ago, she was a young bride.  Her husband had courted her for several years by buying her meals, topping off her mobile phone and buying her an occasional soda.  He never gave up pursuing her, because he was so sure she was “the one.”  Janet, however, was reluctant to give in, wanting to make absolutely sure that Aaron was God’s best for her.  Finally, though, she did when he took her on a date to the Kitale Museum This was the only place he could think of where they could be completely alone, so he could ask one more time if she would marry him.  Whether it was the museum or the girls he began to notice in addition to Janet that made her decide to marry him, I’m not sure, but now they have been married for six years and she is decidedly happy with her choice.

You can see from her photo what a sweet, kind, soft, gentle person Janet is.  The first time we met, we were in a group of about 10 women where I was talking about some of the challenges in marriage.  After some time of each of us sharing, this new bride sat in complete shock saying she had never heard women talk about such things so openly.   Then, she sheepishly confided that her greatest challenge was listening.  Her husband was not the typical husband who would come home late or perhaps not at all.  Instead, he came home every night and talked, and talked and talked.  Her question to the rest of us was how long must she listen to him in order to be a good wife!  We still giggle and share knowing glances when in a group this husband of hers goes on and on and on.  (mmm, gives me tremendous insight and sympathy for my own poor husband, who in our case must be the long-suffering listener. )

Janet’s life is hard.  There have been days without food; there have been two pregnancies and births that somehow by God’s grace, she was able to pay for.  Rent has not been paid and ultimatums given by landlords.  Living with in-laws has become a customary necessity.  Waiting for the profits of harvested maize has been difficult, and loss of hoped for income during a season of drought, a trial all it’s own.  Worst of all, her youngest at age one began to have seizures, one after the other with few days in between.  Going to friends for money to be able to take him to the hospital was humiliating and difficult.  The doctors saying that he appears healthy, even though there are seizures, has been frustrating.  They tell her without further testing it is impossible to know what the problem is, but there are no funds to pay for more tests, so fear remains and a mother’s love is filled with worry.

So how does Janet respond to these challenges?  The same as the first day I met her.  I asked her then how she practices her faith.  She simply answered, “I must get up very early, before my husband, before doing the washing.  I read God’s Word, I meditate on a verse I have read that touches my heart, I pray for strength and peace.”  That was five years ago.  She has not changed.  Just yesterday she told me, “There are things we can’t change by our understanding, but when we present them to God He will make the changes that are best.”

Regardless, of all else, I stand in awe of the African woman.  She endures much; she walks silently often holding things deep within in her heart, but ever confident in her faith.   Without God, she has nothing.  With Him, she has hope.  Hope for healing for her son, hope for necessities – like food and clothes and housing.  Some do give up; but women, like Janet, look squarely at the grim face of adversity.   They hold on; they trust and they believe.  Janet is typical of the women I get to hang out with here in Africa.  They are young and courageous, full of faith, taking nothing for granted, grateful to have a God to hang onto and a Father who cares.  They inspire me and humble me.  Gifts all on their own.

 

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Rainy Season

I have an ongoing delight and fascination in the wonders of language and culture in Africa compared to ours in the U.S.  For example, the other day I was talking with someone who made the comment, “Sometimes I must edit myself.”  Now I ask you, isn’t that just the plain and simple truth of all of us?!

For the past years I’ve wondered at the cleanliness of Kenyans.  In dry season, where I look down and see my feet caked with red dust and the same red film covers my hair, my clothes, even my skin, I look at nationals and they appear somehow miraculously clean from head to foot.  Now in rainy season, my shoes are coated in mud, pants splattered with dots of the red dirt, while Kenyans walk to and fro apparently spot free.  How???  I asked a friend today how is that possible?  He acknowledged that it was true.  He matter of factly stated that when it begins to rain, the Kenyan finds shelter somewhere—in a shop, under a tree, in a home.  With eyes wide and some confusion, he said, “The Whites, they continue to walk in the rain, even in the mud.  We think it is because they must enjoy it.” Mmmmm, now I ask you who needs the most help here?  The Kenyan or the American???  Maybe if I get out of the rain and mud, I, too, can be clean!

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So Far, So Good

Roger: Our first week we are working with some key leaders on marriage which Brooks will fill you in on.  Next week we will begin some of our strategic meetings with leaders in which we will be sharing the prayers and words of encouragement that many of you have shared–over 14 pages worth!  We are very excited about the impact this will have.

Brooks:  So far, so good!!!  It’s been rainy and cool ever since we arrived and the showers are definitely proof that God is pouring down his blessings on us already.  We had a couple of days to rest and get acclimated to Kenya time, which has really been good.  My body got the rest it needed to completely heal from the kidney infection, which has been a true blessing.

Elizabeth and Dawson joined us on Monday in Nairobi so we got right to work on what we are going to present next weekend at the couple’s retreat in Kitale.  I really feel like the Holy Spirit has been leading us as we’ve developed the material.  It includes a lot of practical exercises to introduce during our time together that hopefully, couples will continue to use to build up their marriages.  We are praying that marriages that need healing will be healed and that each couple will come away with new tools to create even tighter bonds; also that the couples will be open to some new ways to communicate, committing to pray together, and that they will have a fresh and deep desire for each other.  Please join us in praying that these awesome men and women would have a desire to please and honor God in their marriages and that modeling a godly marriage would be replicated throughout East Africa.

Roger: Wednesday was a full day of travel from Nairobi to Kitale often winding our way around the ever present potholes.  Pictures tell it all…

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Africa Calls

We have never been as excited about a trip as this one.  We have shared with you that the guys in Africa are talking about an explosion of new churches.  We are going to be challenging them to listen to God and set some outrageous goals.  And, we are going to seed this process by praying over them  the prayers and words y’all are sending with us.  We are already soaking in those words and encouragements so that they become part of all of our trainings, coaching, and hanging out times.  If you want to get in on this (and haven’t yet), read the previous post and jump in!

Here are some of the reasons why Africa is calling:

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