Leave it to the children….

One of our main focuses here in the village is the HEN HOUSE project.

Over the years God has warmed our hearts with the sincerity of some of the men here. These men seemed always to support us. They helped with runs to the river to fill our water tanks. They helped with story time with the children. And they came to our Bible Study. Albeit… A few times they came, even to Bible Study, more than a little intoxicated.

Randy continued to teach the Word and encourage them.

Well over the last 4 months, 3 of the men have come to us asking for help. They wanted to stop drinking realizing how it was ruining their lives and with over 225 people through out Kenya having died in the last 4 months by drinking the “village brew”, they were ready.

Randy had told them over and over they could not do it without the help of Jesus. So, when they came asking for help, we immediately sent them to a program called UTurn for Christ.

Well, two of these men have returned… Changed men!!!

And, they have returned to the village with hope! First, and foremost, HOPE in Christ! And through HIM, they have a hope of work and provision for their family and a daily job that keeps them busy… And keeps them in the Word!!!

The HEN PROJECT is an evolving and growing project where they now have three houses and are working on two more. The houses will house egg laying hens. The first house has 100 hens that should begin laying in the next two weeks!!!

My husband is ambitious and plans to add 250-300 hens at a time, filling each house. The men are beginning to secure the market for our eggs and they are so encouraged. You see it… In them, their enthusiasm, their work, in their wives, their children, even in the villagers. They see the change and the guys, well knowing, are telling them it’s Jesus!!

Well since I’m the one counting the pennies, I’ve been so nervous as Randy makes these plans, prays over them with the men, all along, I have the same sense as I did in raising my kids. I wanted them to know the power of prayer in their lives. And we prayed about everything. But when asking for something, I always inhaled deeply… Oh Lord, please!

Randy has been saying for weeks, as we scrape for even gas money, “don’t worry, God will provide!”

Well, last week I heard from my friend Jennifer from our Home church. She and another friend, Raquel, are heading up VBS this week and they’ve adopted us as their mission and the kids are raising money for hens!!!!!! After three days of collecting…. They have raised enough for 74 hens!!!! Say what??? Leave it to the kids!

This morning I shared that with the guys. They were stunned! They were humbled… “Kids are doing that? If the children can help us, what can we do for others?”

“Exactly”, says Randy! Part of the plan with the eggs is to send a portion to the Somalia refugee camps and to give these guys the opportunity to experience in a real way… It is better to give than to receive!

Please keep this all in prayer and join us in praising God for providing and for using these children back home to impact the men here in Kisii!

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I’m my daddy’s princess…. And it’s all good!!!

I am a daddy’s girl!

Yep, at fifty something… I am and have always been a daddy’s girl!

I know this because the last time I saw him, just before leaving to return to Africa… as I cried in his strong loving arms and as he whispered… “I love you”… I knew in my heart… that all is good!

You see… there are many men who ‘have’ children… but not as many who are fathers and daddies…. Like mine.

I remember as a little girl, my daddy would come home from work and lie down on the floor in the living room, listening to the stereo, I would cuddle safely beneath his arm and I would know… it was good!

As a young child, my dad would take us all to church every Sunday. I would run off to my Sunday school class and at the end of the morning, he would summon us to quickly load up the car so we might go to my Nanny’s for Sunday dinner. He would always take a nap in the middle room and again, I would snuggle just a bit before running off to play… and I knew all was good!

As I watched my daddy grow in Christ, with a commitment to serve Him, to share His Truth and the simple gift of forgiveness and salvation… living his faith before this young girl… it was good!

I’m sorry to say there were far too many times that I disobeyed, I disappointed, I grieved the heart of my daddy… and as I would come to him in shame, he would take me in his arms, sometimes with tears, he would tell me he loved me and with forgiveness he would urge me to walk in the right way. I would walk away having experienced both mercy and grace…. And it was so good.

I remember wanting a man like my daddy. I wanted to marry someone just like him… and I did. As I walked down that aisle, a young teenaged girl, my arm tightly wrapped in my daddy’s, he kissed this nervous bride, his little princess… and it was good.

I soon watched my husband become a father once, then twice and he was incredible with our boys. I prayed and asked God for a little girl… someone who, with adoring eyes, would look on her daddy, would see my husband… just like I see my daddy. Well she came… and she does… and it is so good!

I am now watching my little boy, my first born, as he loves, nurtures and is training my grandbabies in the things of the Lord… and it is good!

So, as I see these ‘daddies’ in my life… I thank, I praise and I call out to my Almighty Heavenly Father, my Abba…. The Giver of every good thing… and I think… what manner of love has He lavished on me… that he would call me HIS child… I think on how blessed I am and I KNOW it is good!!!

So, today, Daddy, know that I love you and I have always loved being your princess! And, I thank God for the how you have shown and demonstrated to me the love of our Lord… faithfully, unconditionally, consistently, and how you have taught me to KNOW… that He is so so good… all the time!

Happy Father’s Day,
Your Princess

Taking THE message to the bush…

We went to Narok Friday night and met up with our friend, Solomon. A tall strong Maasai man who loves Jesus. We had a time of prayer in the hotel room as I tried to finish the download and dvd burn. Coming in to town we had already been having technical difficulties as we traveled with my laptop open and my attempts to burn a disc.

Ok, finally, I have it! So we got in the car and proceeded down the road, off the tarmac, down miles of dusty, bumpy, dry roads. I saw maybe 2 houses along the way and an occasional flock of sheep or goats or cows being grazed in the remaining withering grass.

We reached the church in the dark. A couple motor bikes turned on their lights to show us where to park. Once we got the generator hooked up and some lights on, we began to set up for the movie. I have a king size sheet I tacked up on the tree beams inside the church. While sorting out and setting up the electronics and maneuvering through additional technical challenges… The movie was showing!!!!

Easy… 350 people, men and women, young and old, packed into the little church. Some sat in chairs, some on benches, and the parameter of the building – standing 1 to 3 people deep! At one point, I looked up and there were children sitting up above on the rafters. No one moved for two hours as they watched intently as the Gospel of Luke came to life in front of their eyes.

Saturday night we went even deeper on the other side of the tarmac road. This terrain was much more rough and rugged. Randy just pictured himself in an off-road commercial for a monster truck. Honestly, this car is put through some serious driving and off road situations and we are so thankful to God for it!

After first stopping at Pastor John’s home, and having a small bite to eat, we continued on to the church. This little church was real small, so we set up outside. Oh man was this amazing! The stars were covering the dark sky and were absolutely breathtaking. Maybe 100 people sat on their shukas, on stumps or chairs… or stood and watch the movie. The night air was cold and as I looked around, I saw these profiles of old Maasai men with their ear lobes hanging several inches, bundled up in their red plaid fabric and most with a young child sitting on their lap. It was beautiful!

Both nights, I could see the expressions on their faces. There were giggles and laughter at some points, but the real moving response was as they saw Jesus healing, interacting, loving… and then…as He was arrested, beaten and crucified, the entire movie in their mother tongue.

Both nights I spent most of the two hours just praying and I know, just as HE says, that His Word will NOT return void without first accomplishing HIS purpose.

As they saw the arrest of Jesus, the mood changed drastically. I can only pray that God will continue to give understanding of just how significant the price of our sin is, and, how deep the love & grace of our Lord runs.

Sunday we woke up, packed up our room and headed to “the center”. This is where our Saturday class is each week. We arrived a few minutes after 10:00am, sadly beginning to pick up some African habits. We found our seats. Randy sat up front and I took mine with the women on their side. The worship was sweet. The Maasia have a deep heart of worship. I love watching the mix of traditional and modern dressed men, women and children.

I had a chance to greet them and I shared how homesick I have been feeling lately. How much I miss my parents, my children, my grandbabies and my church family. And then I shared how God had whispered to me during worship… and reminded me that I was indeed with family and I smiled at the power of Spirit of God! Truly I sensed the spirit of God binding our hearts as one.

Randy got up to teach. I have to tell you, I was captivated. I found myself literally leaning in as he read and taught on the greatness of God. He sent one man outside to get a handful of sand which was blowing around and looked like smoke. Then Randy asked him to count the grains. The message was powerful and the response was moving as God poured out a little deeper understanding of just how much HE loves us!!! A truth that is too much for my heart to grasp!

The weekend was exhausting, and it was refreshing. It was challenging and it was filling. Once again we marvel that He has allowed us to be a part of HIS work! Indeed, the weekend was amazing as we saw GOD’s hand move before our eyes as we took HIS message into the bush of the Maasai land in Kenya.

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SMILE!! ;))

One of the things our village friends love to do is take pictures. “Take me a foto!” they ask in their broken English. ( By the way, they have learned MUCH more English than I have Swahili!)

When we first got here they would ask for the picture. They would look at my phone or camera and expect me to give that picture to them. Now they know that’s not possible. But I have printed a few through the year and presented a small picture that absolutely LIGHTS their eyes.

This week, after being asked to take a picture, I announced that on Thursday I would bring out my camera and everyone was to gather their families and get dressed for pictures. THIS was a BLAST!!! They had so much fun! There were lots of laughter and lots of posing and lots of smiles. And THAT’s a big deal. Africans don’t smile for pictures. We call it “stone face”. But you know me… SMILE!!!!!

Well, here are a few of the photos from that day… and I can NOT wait to get some of them printed and bless these sweet people with a small gift such as a 8 cent picture!

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BECAUSE HE LIVES…

First – I must thank everyone for your prayers!!! What a weekend of celebration!

After our Narok class on Saturday we drove to Kisumu. About a four hour drive. We took Kennedy from Narok to his home in Kisumu. Do you remember him? He was the young man I had the privilege of praying with last month as he asked for and received salvation!

It worked out great that he was heading to Kisumu and needed a ride, we were heading to Kisumu and needed a guide! So the blessings began!

We were pushing to get to the guesthouse before dark. We didn’t quite make it. But, we had a lovely room with AIR CONDITIONING and a hot shower! I felt a bit indulgent. We got up Easter morning and went to pick up our friends Dave & Amy. We lived with them when we were in Language School last year and they are serving in Turkana in the north central of Kenya. Together we all were blessed and refreshed as we worshipped and fellowshipped with the wonderful people from Calvary Chapel Lakeside.

I am not sure, unless you have been in a strange land, if anyone can comprehend how MUCH this blessed us. Please, don’t misunderstand, I love listening to the beautiful praising voices of Africa, but when the familiar songs, with familiar language and voices began to sing out praise and worship to the KING who died for me… I was moved to unstoppable tears as I considered the work of the cross.

I miss my church family more than words can say and my Lord, Who died for me, He loves me so much that He knew how blessed we would be to worship Him there, in that place, with those people on that very special day!

After service, the blessing continued as we joined “family” for fellowship and lunch. The two missionary families from Kisumu, the Pottinger and the Harris families… , were armed with 6 excited children. As the kids ran around with Easter activities, squealed and laughed and shared the Easter story, my heart was conflicted with emotion. I was thrilled with these little sweet children, their parents teaching them wonderful Truth… and yet, I dreadfully missed my babies. What a sweet time of fellowship that was needed more than I knew.

We took Dave and Amy back to Kisii with us and they stayed until just this morning. They were a huge help with our village celebration!

Monday we woke early and began all the preparations. As the morning went on, more and more were coming in to help set up. We had the kitchen set up and the mamas all started cooking. Randy was working on the Nyama Chomo ya Mbusi na Ngombe – the goat and the beef to be grilled. The men set up the tent and the screen for the movie. They brought chairs and even a couch. People would come in the gate with arm and head loads.

The children were busy playing with the football and the soccer ball, having a great time.

Dinner was fantastic and we probably fed well over 100 people. As dark was approaching, Randy and Dave worked on the system to show the movie. It was a challenge, with discs we had burned not able to be played on the DVD player, plugs missing or not working, sound interrupted… the challenges just continued. Finally, Dave & Amy brought out the new disc they had burned and we sat down as the story of Jesus began to play out. The movie was in their mother tongue – Ekegusii.

Amy and Dave had popped pop corn for hours and we had bags made up that we distributed and little lollipops. When the movie began they were captivated. Oh I wish you could have seen it. They watched as Jesus was born, as He grew, as He was baptized and then just as He was setting out on the fishing boat — the film froze. YIKES – after realizing the download we had burned only went that far we were scrambling. I was so disappointed and feeling so defeated. Even though all day long the Lord had shown Himself. The people, the food and even the rain He had held off. Now – the movie won’t show. I honestly felt attacked. We had a Joseph movie we ended up showing, in English, and Amy could tell my disappointment. She said, “they’ve had a taste and will tell all their friends and then next time perhaps there will be more that will need to see it.”

Yes, Lord, You knew this situation before it occurred and I must continue to trust You!

While many could not understand, only a couple people left while the others watched intently for the next THREE HOURS!!! (Joseph was a very long movie)

At the end of the day – I believe they were blessed and had seen more of the love of Christ. I believe that God’s Word does not return void and I know that even in the short portion of the STORY – they heard ‘WHY’ Jesus died.

So – again – I thank you for your prayers, for your support, for your contributions and for being a part of this team. I pray, indeed, that God will credit your account with the fruit that WILL come forth! He is risen, He is risen indeed… and… because HE LIVES…

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check out our Village Celebration album on facebook for more pictures!!

I LIKE WHITE!!!

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I don’t know, something about white that shouts…. CLEAN!!!!!

So, I brought with me to Africa my set of 1500 thread count Egyptian Cotton WHITE King size sheets, the white duvet cover, duvet, and about 20 soft white wash cloths.

Did I mention I am living in Africa, in Kenya, in a village up a mountain in the Highlands where there are TWO fantastic raining seasons with lots and lots of red mud. There is no running water, no electricity and no washing machines.

But – not to alarm. I have created a system. Before I get into my white linen bed, I use up to three, maybe four washcloths and I scrub from head to toe… beginning with my face and ending with the soles of my feet. I try to scrub until my white wash cloth, well, still resembles white. It’s a pretty disgusting procedure. I had no idea.

I then toss them into a white bucket with soapy bleach water. After a few days, I drain the water, take a soap bar and rub it over both sides of the cloth and toss it back into the bucket, filling with about a cup of bleach and boiling hot water.

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Then, I take a long wooden spoon and begin to stir the clothes while making ever effort to simulate the agitator in my Maytag back home. I stir for as long as my weak American arms can handle, drain, fill and do again. This is repeated for TWO DAYS!!!

THEN, the cloths need to be rubbed. I use a rubber cutting board and it seems to work well. Flipping sides and using the soap bar again, the board acts as a, I don’t know, wash board???

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It’s all quite the process. And I must say, each night as I scrub my face, and scour my extremities, I am really, well, basically grossed out at how filthy I am.

When the young man that helps us, Evans, was involved in this process recently, he turned and said to me, “Mrs. Kari, you should buy brown wash clothes”. My first thought was – boy, are you right. But then, without thinking I answered him, “but then I wouldn’t know if I were clean.”

As I’ve been studying God’s Word lately and in this personal reflective state, it dawned on me… what a picture!

If I am measuring myself by standards such as – how others act, what others do and don’t do, if my standard is the lives of other people and it is THIS standard by which I measure how my life is being lived… well I might as well be washing my face with a brown washcloth. I might even reuse the one I used last night…. YUCK! GROSS! DISGUSTING! NEVER!!!!!

You see, it’s not until I measure my life, my actions and reactions, my love, my kindness, my patience, my gentleness, my joy, my peace… not until I measure these things by the standard GOD has set – that of JESUS CHRIST… that I see just how dirty I am.

OH Lord Jesus…
Cleanse me
Wash me thoroughly…
And I shall be whiter than snow!!!

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Differences melting…

An old mama has died in our village.

She was the mother or grandmother of many of our friends here. Yesterday we took a box of food. Today we took a garbage bag full of popcorn! That was a big hit.

People have been flocking to the family compound to pay their respects, to grieve with and comfort the family. Some come up wailing, some speechless, clearly feeling uncomfortable. But without fail, whether young or old, they greet every person present.

There were just a dozen or so there when we walked up around noon. We went up the lane, stepping around three cows grazing. We jumped the small hedge and walked into the compound. It’s not much different. Grief is universal. There’s that pleasure of seeing family and friends mixed with a pain of loss. Sometimes there’s laughter, sometimes there’s tears.

We put the large blue bag on a table under a shade tent that had just been made with seed sacks and a tarp we had sent up earlier. Without delay, the paper cups we had brought were being passed around filled with the unusual treat.

Some visiting, were clearly intrigued by this strange couple, but most people didn’t seem surprised at all to see us. Today, we honestly felt a part. We felt like we belonged, like the family felt we belonged.

Randy sat out with the men and my hand was grabbed and I was whisked off into the smoke filled, fire blazing jikoni… I cut vegetables with my friends as they shared stories. Sometimes in English, sometimes Kiswahili, sometimes Akegusii. Somehow, I knew and understood most of the conversation and would surprise even myself when I would respond or add.

Later in a group of 18 Kenyan women, I was handed a Bible, “share something with us”. We read from Psalms, from Proverbs and from John. I looked up at one point and there were many tears. Oh Lord, comfort these that mourn!

All our little kids were there and because we have spent so much time with them, our presence there seemed normal. That’s it… For the first time in over a year of living here… Our presence seemed ok, normal. We were not the wazungu, we were not the missionaries, we were not the outsiders, we belonged.

When I woke this morning, I was crying before I even got out of bed. I was feeling quite sorry for myself and before long I was clothed in self pity.

I read a FB post of a friend and I was immediately reminded of the sufficiency of Christ!!! Immediately and more profoundly I was again fixed on my goal, my prize.

We had several from our Sunday morning Bible study let us know they were up at the funeral. (The funeral begins the moment the loved one dies and continues until after the burial). We also saw and greeted many who walked by with either water from the river or trees for the fires… One for cooking and one for sitting around.

This is when I felt drawn up there and Randy and I began popping 2 1/2 bags of corn. Little did I know how God would use that treat, how He would melt the differences in a hot smokey wooden shack. Little did I know He would reveal to me HIS sufficiency so sweetly and so lovingly.