Shem and I celebrated our one year anniversary just one week ago. We have had such good times together and have learned about ourselves and each other through challenging and joyful moments.
Our adventures are spontaneous and random, our conversations saturated with hopes for the future, and our dedication to each other has been firm. Shem is a very special man to me and I am so glad that he has been in my life for this year and I hope for many more.
…that He gave up his life for… children?
Yes, Jesus was always welcoming the littlest and most insignificant person to come sit with Him so that He could affirm them and show love to them.
Shem, Kazi, and I went to visit a friend of mine today who has been serving children for four years now. Pastor Alfred and his wife Mary called what they do Greater Love Ministries and they have a school ranging from preschool to fourth grade for children whose families cannot even afford uniform for their child, much less the small costs it takes to send them even to a public school. Alfred is such a warm, playful man that it is easy to see how his heart has touched many more than just his own 3 daughters. Alfred began this ministry from his one-room corrugated metal church, deep inside the Kawangware slum. The church members are around ten and yet with the support of his wife (who is the main teacher) and his congregation, they are providing about one hundred children education who would otherwise not have opportunity to go to school.
We went to play with the children and talk with Pastor Alfred more about his vision and ministry for these children and so I want to share what he told us, with you…
Great Love Ministries’ dream is to build another corrugated metal and timber room so that the children can be better divided into their classes. For a church of ten this dream has been increasingly voiced in faithful prayers to God, trusting that it will become a reality. Although raising money is difficult between the these 10 believers who struggle to meet the needs of their own family’s, the church does have a small piece of land in front that would allow them to build.
If they got another room the 3 teachers, 100 children, 15 benches (used for desks and seats), and 2 blackboards can be divided, and organized into two rooms rather than one!
Although having a room built to teach the children was the most pressing prayer of this pastor, let me share with you other need that I saw:
- repairing the concrete floor ( the benches cannot even stand straight because of how corroded the floor is)
- lunch feeding program- Alfred said that only some of the children bring their lunches to school, others go home for lunch, and some may not have anything to eat.
- Income generating project- I have seen this work amazingly at the Inspiration Center in Mathare… just providing initial money to start a business (fruit stand, barber shop, photocopier, etc) can employ people, provide skill training, and begin to bring in a small amount of money the can gradually increase so that the ministries running are able to self sustain.
- Teaching supplies- with only 2 blackboards and few books, 100 children can find it very challenging.
The cost to build a room is less than $500.00… just throwing that out there.
May God work through your prayers.
We didn’t have the total amount of money to even get to the school and back this Monday when Emily was packing her things. I had not received my monthly funding yet and literally had about 10 dollars (800 shillings) left to get me by. Although her amazingly kind sponsor had sent us the money we thought we would need for her school fees, we soon realized that the first term was way more expensive because for boarding its like going off to college- you have certain required items you must buy and bring. Anyways- God works miracles and although I was biting my nails and feeling silly that Shem and I were pretending that we had the money to take Emily on the 3 hour trip outside of the city- I got a call early Monday morning as we were preparing to leave and now all of Emily’s first term expenses have been paid for!
It wasn’t till 4 pm that we pulled up to the school and helped Emily to register her things and get dressed into her new school uniform. I am so amazed at the courage of this girl and so proud of her for going back to school! The sad thing was when we had to leave, say goodbye, and knowing that unless I can work it out to come visit, I will not see Emily until her school break in May! But please pray for her- that God will be her constant comfort and peace; that she will make good friendships; that God will open her mind to knowledge and wisdom through this education and experience; and that she will work hard and feel like her hard work is reflected in good grades.
I have just recently learned of two children that are urgently in need of help with their school fees. Both are orphaned, but in two different parts of the country. Let me tell you about them both and if you are able to help, please let me know!
Mwachengo Landi is a 17 year old boy who lives with his brother (18 years old) in a small village on your way to the coast, called Tanzania (not to be confused with the country!). His brother is the bread winner of their family and does casual labor in order to support his five other siblings. Their died of HIV Aids almost ten years ago. Mwachengo was able to complete his primary education because in Kenya it is not very expensive, however he wants to go to secondary, yet he has no money. The school fees, because he is starting, will be more expensive for this term because it is boarding (this is normal in Kenya) and so because he needs initial school supplies, uniform, books, etc the first year is about 500 dollar for everything. However in the following 3 years (it will be four years til he completes) the fees will be less because he wont have to buy uniform, beddings again. He would be very grateful in your assistance. If you are moved to help and committed to walk with this boy through school I can connect you by sharing school results, pictures, and sending letters from Mwachengo.
Irene Othiambo is a thirteen year old girl who lives in Kisi area, which is western Kenya. I have learned a bit about this girl from an older lady who is caring for the girl since he parents recently died, however the older woman is unable to pay for school fees. Irene is in her last year of primary school and then would like to continue to secondary. The older lady (visiting Nairobi right now) will let me know the cost of school fees once returns to her home and asks Irene for the amounts. This will include uniform and school supplies. Even if you cannot help financially, please pray for these 2 children who so desire education. Again, if you can help I can arrange a way to share Irene’s photos, letter, and school reports with you.
The Lord has worked through so many people in order for this girl to get a chance to complete her secondary education. After finding and contacting her old sponsor through facebook, Emily (21 years) and I asked him if he would agree to help her pay her school fees again so that she could return to school, which has been her dream for the last 5 years since she has been out. He said yes! So after that it was our job to find a school. God used my housemate and close friend, Kazi, and she introduced us to a lady in town named Jane. Jane is a principle who has connections with another school 2 hours outside of Nairobi in Sultan Hamud. Overlooking Emily’s low marks in school, Jane agreed to help us put Emily back in school. She referred us to her friends at Elerai MCK Girls Secondary School and sends us there carrying a recommendation letter for Emily to present to the school. Last Monday Emily and I set off to go for an interview and praying that she would be accepted. On arrival to Sultan Hamud Emily and I took a taxi through arid Maasai land, seeing a lot of cattle herds and Maasai wrapped in red cloth. The school was 25 km outside of the town, set on a hill.
On arrival we were told the school would only accept students with high marks. Emily and I were pretty disappointed but were able to talk to the headmaster before leaving. However, when Emily and I went in to speak with the headmaster the tone changed from that of the admissions officer we had talked to. She encouraged Emily despite her low scores and told her she would need to work very hard in her studies to keep up, yet expressed faith in Emily’s abilities to keep up with other students. When she finally invited Emily to become a student at the school I was overjoyed and Emily says her knees almost gave out! the moment we stepped out of that room Emily let out a huge gasp in the shape of the biggest smile I have ever seen. She got a bit teary saying that she had been dreaming of this day for five years and now that it had finally come she couldn’t believe it. We drove back that night thanking God and wondering at how he used so many people to make sure Emily would go back to school.
So next Monday we go again… this time I will give her a hug goodbye and leave her at the school in her new white and maroon uniform. You know, she wants to become a veterinarian. I am so proud of this girl!
Carpe Diem. This phrase popped into my head today as I sat down eating chai and arrowroot and reflected on my morning. I was so contented. I cant even understand myself, why it is, but I felt so good. The morning was typical for Kenya, but I guess I had forgotten how much I love what I do.
Now I have decided to begin my day with a routine. maybe this contributed to my contented feelings?
Wake up, drink a glass of water, jump rope in the courtyard until I can’t breath, read the bible and drink a smoothie, shower, get ready for whatever the day brings…
this day brought writing letters to fundraise for the art camp coming up in April, meeting with Celtra arts organization, exchanging money in order to give to an arts group for the products they sold, promoting an arts group who just recently started putting their jewelry products in a local boutique, talk with many, hugging many, talking the buildabridge about wirting a grant, making plans to visit a school with a friend who is finally finishing her highschool education after many years of being away, making chapati, drinking chai, reading swahili, starting a new book, going to bed.
Carpe literally means ‘pluck’ and refers to plucking fruit when it is ripened. Plucking sounds relaxed, peaceful, an action of ease. This phrase describes my day and days to come I hope- let me pluck the day while it is full, juicy, full of flavor, ripe, rich, vibrant, dripping with flavor… may you pluck all of your days.
Last week, the day after I landed from Rwanda, I took a bus for 8 hours- straight to Mombasa! I got there late Saturday evening, just in time for dinner and to get a huge hug from so many of my kids! They were eating meet and ugali for dinner and for the rest of the trip they had meat twice a day, every day! I had missed the first day of classes because of the flight delay from Rwanda to Nairobi, but from Sunday until Tuesday I was the mural teacher with 4 different classes of children.
Each day the children attended classes from 9-12:30, after they had eaten breakfast, had assembly, and devotions in the morning. Devotions included lots of praise and worship, dancing, singing, testimonies, followed by a short message. Then breakfast, then assembly, where we discussed the theme of love, sung songs about love, and discussed biblical aspects of love (1st Corinthians 13). The children were even divided into groups during camp, each having a group leader and named a certain aspect of love (such as selfless, humility, hopefulness).
During the afternoons after lunch, the children were taken to the ocean or Haller Wildlife Park, then return, shower, dinner, and movies and talent show in the evenings!