Jambo (Greetings) Friends and Family,
This is Caleb Senecal writing on behalf of my Family, and the rest of the U.S. team here in Kenya. I’m sorry it has taken so long to send an update. I hope this letter is not too long.
First, I want to thank everyone who has been praying, giving, and supporting us through this time. It has been a real test of faith trusting God to provide our daily needs, which He has. I am learning how to depend on Him more as every day there is so much that needs to be done, and not enough energy, time, or resources to do so. The less I have the more He can give.
This year we have one of the largest teams we have had in years, if you include my children it is the largest so far totaling 13. Naturally, the children have been a huge part of mine and my wife Eva Joy’s roles here, as we trade off on keeping up with their reading, cooking breakfast in the morning, lunch following close behind, and don’t forget dinner! And all the available time in-between to connect with them as much as possible. All this mixed in with the rest of my schedule as team leader and AC rep on the ground while Eva runs back and forth fulfilling her duties for the sponsorship fund. Sue (our medical director) has had her hands full with all things medical (including caring for my kids who seem to get some sort of minor injury every other day). She is a true servant and pours herself out completely with a broken heart for a lost world in need of Jesus. On that note, Lillian also has the biggest of hearts and it shows in her willingness to do whatever the Lord leads no matter how small, no child she encounters is left untouched by the Love of Jesus. Greg, one of our first-timers, has been a great blessing in so many ways, quick to jump into action wherever there is a need, even washing our dishes on occasion with a glad heart, something I personally struggle with, LOL! Dan is a long-time friend and AC board member who is also here for the first time. I am so glad he is here and I really appreciate his input and wisdom in every situation, his simple approach to life and relationship with God is always refreshing. His older son, Alex, I have been blessed to get to know, his love for the children shows, and His love for the Lord is real. I can think of numerous conversations as we all sat and talked about things of the Kingdom and Alex would present a truth that would cause everyone to pause and really chew on it. His brother Jack is a dynamic part of the team. He’s been a sport in crazy times and adds humor and energy to every situation. And finally, there is Sarah, a close friend to my wife. She is an ER nurse who works in Trauma back in the states, a valuable team member on every level, and a joy to be around. She is an early riser and makes herself coffee in our kitchen, which is awesome because Eva and I wake up to freshly brewed coffee every day. Now that you know the team a little more, I hope that as the stories are told you can connect with the heart of God being presented through their actions.
Before the final team members arrived, we had already been busy with some medical clinics, home visits, and various other opportunities to serve. But I wanted to focus on the events of the last week since their arrival, mainly because as we move forward from here we need your prayer and support more than ever. As I have mentioned above, this is a team of servants. On Saturday, they all went to Graceway Church to help with a major clean-up in preparation for “Friend Day” where members are encouraged to bring a friend. What a blessed time! It was so awesome to see everyone getting dirty and having fun using Kenyan tools and methods to produce the results necessary to make a dirt floor clean! All this while the worship team provided background music as they practiced for the following morning. At church the next morning members were asked to introduce their friends which was fitting as every member of Team “A” was able to introduce a member of newly arrived Team “B”. This got some chuckles and laughs out of the locals, especially when Jack said he was from Vermont and not a soul knew where that was. Dan shared a short message followed by Pastor Apollo’s sermon that tied in well.
Eva spent all day Saturday being used by God to help rescue a nine year old girl, Rhoda, who had been a student at our preschool four years ago and went missing. Her mother showed up and left her with her brothers, who are sponsored through our program, and the father. The thing was that we were in the process of extracting the boys from the home to live at Seed of Hope, the primary school where our sponsored children are sent. Most of our children go home each day after school but this father has been horrendously abusive and to discover a girl in the home was very disturbing. In fact, the boys had not gone to school because they were unwilling to leave her alone with him. As Eva and our social worker, Wycliffe, brought the girl with them the neighbors came out to shake their hands, thanking them for getting her away from there. It has been a heartbreaking process, but Seed of Hope has agreed to give her a temporary home while things are sorted with the Children’s Department. She has already made friends there and we pray she is granted permission to stay. This is only one of many difficult stories and we are seeking more ways to provide shelter for kids in these emergency situations.
The “theme” that has developed so far in the team’s devotional time has been dependency on God, and a focus on our salvation unto service. We know we are called to serve, to share the good news, to give as He has given His life for us. We are not merely doing humanitarian work, we know that it is not enough to “gain the whole world and lose your soul”. The people of Kenya don’t just need food, clean water, education, and any other material need we can provide, they need Jesus. As we all do. Every day as we go out to do the physical task before us, we long to see God move in a powerful way, rescuing souls and healing hearts. That is the true success of our mission, and yet He calls us to feed, cloth, and love these hurting people. It is not easy, most days it almost seems like it is not successful. What difference did we make, really? We plant, we water, but God brings the increase. So we continue on not knowing the fruit that will be born, but trusting that in abiding in Him, He will do the rest. Which brings me to the final story I want to tell.
On Tuesday, we had a medical clinic at the Graceway compound. In every way, it seemed it would be the simplest and easiest clinic due to the central location and access to anything we would need. Right when we were set up and ready to begin we discovered that the local chief said we could not continue without proper permission from the county government. We stopped, prayed, and waited, and waited, as the county official arrived, and sat in a long meeting with Rose (our school administrator), Wycliffe, and the doctor who was working with us on the clinic. After much back and forth we were finally up and running. Lunch came, and as we were all sitting down to eat, our first wound care patient arrived carried by her friends and family to the waiting line. Jack and Alex, eager to serve ran out the door. They came back shortly after asking Sue to come look as it was beyond their abilities. Sue, Lil, and Greg headed out the door next. Not much time passed before Greg was back asking Sarah to come look. In short, this girl, Florence, needed immediate attention if she was going to save her leg, let alone her life. A minor wound had not been kept clean and now had eaten up half of her lower leg, exposing tissue and muscle. She was toxic and, we found out later, also had malaria. Immediately, Greg and “Taxi Peter” drove her to the private hospital, which is overcrowded and expensive due to a long standing strike of the government hospital workers across Kenya. Several team members gave over 150.00 to start the process. But that is just get her there, get her in and pay for her bed. She had some surgery done to clean the wound and is on antibiotics. We are waiting to see if the infection will stop. If it does not, she will lose her leg. If it does, she will need a skin graft, an expensive endeavor. The miracle we are praying for is that her leg will begin to heal and form new tissue. In all this, I admit we were overwhelmed by the undertaking, but then we remembered the man who was lowered through the roof to Jesus by his friends, creating quite a disturbance. Jesus saw their faith and said, “your sins are forgiven” before addressing his physical need. The whole team prayed and was impressed on that she had come to us to find the forgiveness of God first, physical healing second. Sure enough, the next day Sue, Dan and Rose went and told her the Gospel. Not only did she receive it but the woman in the bed next to her, Ruth, also received Jesus! From what I hear it was a tearful and wonderful time, the kind of thing that makes a whole life of service worthwhile. We are praying that her friends and family that stood there will also believe in Jesus and find healing. The day after the team brought the Bibles the women had requested and a relationship began to form. Members of Graceway Church committed to continue visiting them and teaching them more about Salvation. The next time, Sue and Sarah brought Eva, to introduce her as Florence’s and Ruth’s contact once they return to the US. Ruth opened up to them, sharing how she had been stabbed multiple times by her husband. He is in jail, but she cannot pay the climbing bill and so cannot leave the hospital. When she does, she cannot return home because she is traumatized by the ordeal. Again, they felt the feeling of being placed into a situation beyond them. After praying with the women, the team found themselves called into the office of Dr. Kisang, the founder of the Hospital who has a good relationship with Bob and LuAnn, founders of Africa Connect. They were invited to his home and spent hours discussing the need for the Gospel in Kenya first and, second, simple training of the churches to meet common health concerns in their community. He was not only a deep well of wisdom for our future clinics in Kenya, but by the end of the meeting he had given us permission to show the Jesus Film in the wards! We truly believe that as God has opened doors for the gospel He will also make a way for these women to find physical healing and safety.
This story is a good picture of what serving in Africa is like. One situation that seems beyond us leads to another and next thing we know we end up evangelizing to an entire hospital! Every year, team members have given their own money on top of pouring themselves out, to cover these unexpected situations and bring the Gospel to those in need. The work before us is endless, but worthwhile. In order to widen our reach Africa Connect needs your partnership. God has not sent one gifted missionary to bring the Gospel to all unreached people. He uses a network of flawed but willing hands and feet to do the work at every level. One role does not outweigh another in His kingdom and this must be a whole Body of Christ effort. We need prayer, finances, listening ears and people who will experience and share the stories. It is our desire that, in joining in this work, you find your greatest need met as well.
Please find us at www.africaconnect.org or write to Africa Connect at PO Box 598 Lee, MA 01238 to find out how you can help. The field is white, may God bring more workers for the harvest!