First there was Olivia. Then Gladys and Naomi. Finally, Dennis and Dominic. I picked up these five kids from their villages on Friday and brought them to their new home: Kipkaren Children’s Home. They met up with nine other kids and were introduced to their new world. This weekend, most of them slept in a bed for the very first time in their lives!
As we stopped at the new home and a large crowd were gathered, singing and praising God for their arrival, I had little Naomi in my arms, hot with malaria fever. Tears were streaming down my face as I watched the kids. The ones I had picked up each had a little bag with them with all their earthly possessions. Some of the others had nothing save the tattered clothes they were in. Not even shoes.
I came back to Ilula, telling the kids here about their new “cousins” at Kipkaren. “We will pray for them!” they promised. I know they will. They are the only ones who can truly understand what those children are going through, and thus they can pray with insight.
Thinking back of the day spent at Kipkaren, looking at the 14 young faces, I wondered which of them knew Jesus. The five in my car seemed to know him. Olivia was referred to us by a pastor, and she sang one Christian song after another on our ride home. The last two boys were from a Christian home, too. Their aunt sent them off with a heart-felt prayer, and on the drive to their new home, quiet little Dennis sang over and over, “This is the day that the Lord had made...” When I told him that they’ll sing every night during devotions, his little face lit up.
It’s a long journey ahead. The kids are undergoing medical exams today, and experience tells us that many will have worms, lice and ringworm. But they are now in a home where they’ll not only receive treatment for their medical conditions. They’ll be fed well. They’ll learn about Jesus. And they’ll experience how much he loves them through the love extended by their new parents.
Will you please join us in praying for all 14 kids as well as their new parents?
Sudan: A World of Extremes
In May, along with two Americans and five Kenyans, I traveled to our neighboring country: Sudan. From the moment we stepped off the small charter plane, I knew that Sudan was unlike anyplace I had ever been.
The heat is extreme. It was frequently hotter than the maximum reading on our little thermometer: 120F/48C! You’d wake up sweating, and at night when you lay down, you were still sweating! It was supposed to be rainy season, which would’ve meant that we’d be inundated with mosquitoes. I praise God that we only had a few rain showers during our visit.
The food is extreme. The only vegetable I saw on the meager markets were onions. Most people in that region live on milk and, if they’re fortunate, some sorghum. Our team had rice and beans most of the time.
Life is extreme. By far the greatest majority of people in the area where we served had no roofs over their heads. Most of them lived among thousands of cows. When it rains, they find shelter under a tree. They have no toilets, no kitchens, no running water, no soap. Some are fortunate to have a tarp to sleep under. Most use burnt cow dung to brush their teeth and cover their bodies to protect them against flies and mosquitoes.
When they get sick, they could walk to the nearest clinic with very limited services, about 20km (12 miles) away. When they are very sick, they have to go to Khartoum, a 5-month journey by boat and foot. We provided much-needed health care to more than 1,000 Dinka. And we showed them that, even though they live in a harsh, harsh world, God still cares for them.
Abiye , a girl whom our team treated for cholera, was virtually dead. She had no pulse and no blood pressure. I will never forget sitting next to her on a hump of mud while she was groaning with pain, begging over and over for God to have mercy on her! This past week, I read a report from our Sudanese director where he said that she is now confessing Christ as her Savior. Abiye said that before, she had no faith in God, but now she believes in God. She said that the devil had a plan to kill her, and God’s plan was to send His people to rescue her from the devil.
To read more about this journey, read this.
Just a few weeks ago, I was able to make the journey down to Nairobi to test drive a Land Rover Defender. I was blessed to be able to leave the city the next day in my very own vehicle. It was made for road conditions like what we have: lots and lots of mud. It handles wonderfully and I no longer have to be scared to drive after it had rained hard.
I have found that some of the best times of ministry happen in my car. One rarely gets to drive alone here. There’s always someone on the side of the road flagging you down. And this is how I’m getting to know neighbors and talk to them about their lives.
It’s Raining, It’s Pouring!
The rainy season has officially arrived. (We don’t have four seasons, just two: rainy and dry.) I just chuckle at Kenyans from Nairobi who ask if we’re not freezing up in Eldoret... We’re at about 7,500 ft, so yes, it’s a bit cooler than in Nairobi, but this being “winter,” it’s still really very mild! The most I’ve had to do was put on a jacket. Most days you’ll be fine with a T-shirt!
The rains are very welcome! Though it turns our road into a big, messy mudslide, it also helps the crops grow. And for that, we are thankful.
Many Kenyans cultivate a hectare of ground, planting maize (corn) and/or beans. All around this neighborhood, the maize are growing very tall. It feels almost like I’m back in Iowa! (Except, there I never really got so close to the corn! And here, we don’t get sweet corn. It’s all field corn!)
Though I don’t have a maize crop, I do have a vegetable garden as well as my own yard. My lawn is coming along nicely. And this weekend, for the first time ever, I tried my hand at pickling cucumbers since my crop is bearing much fruit!
And It’s Raining Visitors
Or so it seems, at least. (American) Summer time is the busiest time for teams. Between June and November, we’ll host just fewer than 30 teams and interns between our center at Ilula and the one at Kipkaren. Part of my job is to book all these teams’ and interns’ in-country travels, make sure they’re being met at the airport, book safaris and so on.
If that were all I did, I wouldn’t like my job! What I love about having these teams and visitors is the personal connection I get to make with them. I don’t get to know the teams that go to Kipkaren, but for those at our center at Ilula, I enjoy being a part of their faith journey while they’re on foreign soil. I am praying that my heart would be sensitive to God’s leading during each and every interaction.
Probably one of the most fun things I’ve done in Kenya was to invite all the 10- and 11-year-old girls from our children’s home over for a girls’ night at my place.
Two interns, Christy and Rachel, helped put on the event. They sent out beautiful invitations to each girl, decorated my car with foam flowers, and led the games and talks.
The focus of the evening was that the girls are wonderfully and fearfully made. (Ps. 139) Dressed in their PJs, the girls played Twister, wrote each other notes of encouragement, participated in a talk about the changes they’re facing as girls, and then we watched a movie.
We had a BLAST. I’ll definitely want to do something similar again!
Speaking of Kids
One of the highlights of my day is always to go over and visit the kids. I love praying with them and hearing them pray for their sponsors, even my sponsors (supporters), that God would bless each one of you richly.
As some of them are going into puberty, I’ve had the chance to have some heart-to-heart talks about life, frustrations and more.
I love these kids, and I love to be able to minister God’s love to them.
Thank you once more for your part in sharing Christ with these kids, with my neighbors, with people who are living desperately difficult lives.
- For the ministry in Sudan
- For my car
- For all the teams and interns who are coming to serve with us at ELI
- For the impact that ELI is having on our communities
- For the opportunity to go and share at APU’s Missions Week in November
- For good health
- For a continued insatiable hunger after God
- That I would be a worthy representative of his in every circumstance
- For understanding and good memory as I’ve started working more diligently on learning kiSwahili
- For the children who are arriving at our new orphanage over the next few months