Hello friends and family,
Bwana Safiwe! This is our final report from Kitale, Kenya. By this time on the 12th of April we will be back and freezing in New England! Honestly, it is hard to leave right now as it seems our kids have finally adjusted and there are so many connections and exciting new things ahead. However, the idea of seeing our families, catching up with our friends, kissing new babies and eating bacon has us very excited to go home. We are spending our last days here visiting and hosting friends, buttoning up various medical needs and home visits and looking around at houses to possibly rent for next time. We are looking at coming for 5-6 months starting in November of this year, Lord willing.
If you read our last update you know that the medical aspect of things came into the spotlight on this trip. Florence, who had the skin graft on her leg, went home today! It was very emotional for everyone. The children have seen her once in a month so they are celebrating tonight with juice and biscuits.
Florence getting used to her new crutches right before going home. With her is "Taxi Peter" who has helped us with his many connections and unstoppable faith that God is on our side.
God got all the praise since Caleb and I barely did a thing to make this happen. The household has given their lives to Jesus and they are excited to attend Graceway Harvest Chapel together. They said they will bring their two sisters and their neighbors with them as well. Our relationships with Dr. Kisang, the founder of the hospital and the Chaplain, Pastor Daniel, are strong and we believe will bear more fruit. Dan Kehoe left them with enough copies of the Jesus Film on zip drive to have the movie playing in several rooms at once. Pastor Daniel’s passion for what he does was rekindled as he watched the patients praying for salvation and praising God. In the future, we hope to visit Dr. Kisang’s clinics and Bible training in West Pokot.
Junior Kibwe is a boy sponsored through Ian Memorial Sponsorship Fund. His sister was burned badly all over her head and torso. Junior had been missing school because his sister is ready to go home but she and her mother, Zipporah, are stuck at the hospital until they pay the bill, which climbs higher every day. Junior is now staying with another IMS parent and getting to school but we would really love to help get them home if the money comes in.
Also awaiting funds is Eliud, from Chalicha. He came to the clinic with an enormous tumor on his face. He is ready to have surgery as soon as there is money to do it. He needs an estimated amount of $1,500.00 to move ahead. There is a pastor there as our contact waiting for the call.
Another IMS Mama is Ruth, mother to Loice and Benson as well as three other children. The house pictured here holds 12 people, including her sister who became pregnant in middle school (that is the child on Ruth's lap). The family was displaced from good land on Mt. Elgon to this swampy land. I asked Wycliffe, our social worker, how 12 people could live here when it's raining and he just said, "It is hell." A bed was donated last year because the home floods in the rainy season. With everyone sleeping on blankets on the floor it was a horrible situation; now at least the little ones have a dry place to sleep.
Upon visiting her on Friday we discovered that she has had an abscess for two years that has now eaten through her jaw and cheek and left an open wound on her face. She is weak from fighting off the infection, with little food to keep her strong. The next day we took her to the hospital and gave them food for the April School Break. With the above commitments still needing to be paid for I wondered if I had any right to take on another difficult case, but God guided every step. We were taken past the long line, met a kind Dr. who is friends with our taxi driver, pictured on the previous page with Florence (it’s all about who you know here), and referred to a Dentist with a good reputation as a Doctor and a Christian. Praise God for a new connection! He treated Ruth with great respect, put her on antibiotics and today he extracted the teeth. All for around $20.00, and he was apologetic that he could only go that low. She was in a lot of pain when we brought her home but should be able to eat more than uji (porridge) by tomorrow. She is a member of Graceway and I look forward to finding out how she’s doing on our last Sunday when Caleb will be preaching.
With many obvious reasons to praise God here, there are always the situations where we must learn to praise Him when things seem all wrong. A six-year-old boy named David was brought to our clinic in Luuhya with a hernia in his groin. Sue made arrangements between us and a contact to get him into surgery. When Caleb made the phone call early this week to find out how things were going he was told the boy died the day before, waiting for surgery, waiting for us to bring money. We had to take this news and carry on with the day’s duties, but we felt broken and lost. This is a common thing for Kenyans, where sickness and death are an almost daily part of life; waiting until too late, waiting for the Americans to show up, not wanting to initiate conversations about money or talk about sickness. No matter the cultural explanations, every time I think of David’s mother and the hope she had that he would be ok, my heart breaks all over again. I keep preaching to myself that God is big and God is good. I am not the flaw that will bring His plans to a halt. He knows our weaknesses and uses them for His glory. Perhaps this tragedy will bring a new chapter for us and AC, like Ian’s death brought the Sponsorship Fund. Farther along we’ll understand why.
Africa Connect is not a medical mission, but we are not likely to be here without taking on extra medical needs beyond what we already provide through the clinics and for the preschool and sponsored students. We are praying concerning the future so that we do not need to ask you all for money every time a surprise pops up. We want to have a way to meet these needs in a simple, stable manner.
Another important issue brought before us, once again, was the need for a rescue home. The home visits we do while we are here are what make Graceway more than just a school. It is an open door to hundreds of homes in Tuwan and the surrounding areas. Our aim is to strengthen families through hope in Jesus, accountability and empowerment opportunities, not remove children simply because their family or guardian is struggling. However, there are situations in which a house is not a home but a place of abuse, neglect and on-going or potential rape.
Charles and Emmanuel moving into the boy’s dorm at Seed of Hope. Their father is a dangerous man but they would not leave the home without their half-sister, Rhoda. She was enticed away from her mother with sweets and promises.
Rhoda watching her brothers get acquainted with their new home. She was allowed to stay at Seed of Hope until her mother was found and she was determined to be safe.
There are other situations that need resolution, such as a home where an 8-year-old girl returns from school long before her father and must lock the door and prepare herself food while drunk men hang out by her door. Our social workers work year round visiting homes, challenging parents and, at times, extracting children from horrendous environments. We have no desire to start a children’s home, but temporary placement until a safe home of a relative, church member or foster parent can be found is becoming a more pressing need every year. Many of the kids do not eat enough in April when schools in Kenya take a month off.
Even these little ones can be found on the street, which can lead to a lifestyle of glue sniffing and running from any authority until they die from brain damage or exposure or are old enough that people stop trying to help.
Clearly Africa Connect is needing to grow and growth means raising money, but our priority is always the preschool. If you are wondering what to give towards, please consider being a monthly supporter of the Graceway Victory Academy so that we can keep our commitments and make it a better place to learn and grow for everyone. You can see more about how to do this at africaconnect.org. Without GVA (and the church we partner with!) there wouldn’t be these opportunities to reach the surrounding slum. Watching the newest students lose their distended bellies and fearful mannerisms within a month or two, praying at the end of the day for protection as they walk the twisted, muddy paths home is always a reminder of what we first set out to do: Get the most vulnerable children in Tuwan off the street and enable the parents to raise them up with the hope and dignity that comes from knowing your Creator. This is community transformation.
As for us, we are so thankful for the prayers and support we have received. When we became weary and discouraged we would find inexplicable peace and guidance and know that we were being prayed for. It seemed as soon as we felt any lack, whether personally or for ministry, funds came in before the day was over. In fact, we have everything we need to get home!
What we don’t have is money to put gas in the car or pay bills before Caleb gets his first paycheck. In the interest of involving you as partners with us, we have had to talk a lot about ourselves and be honest about financial needs as we write home but, man do we look forward to being able to sit down and just be with you!
Friends, God is our strength, so let’s not hold back because we are weak. It is by grace that we are saved and called. He did not us give the great commission because we are so faithful, able or good. But God is faithful, able and so, so good!
Much love and thanks,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6