An Update from Margaret

Written by margaret. Posted in Children, Education, Health

Wow!  Things are moving forward around here faster than we can keep up! Here’s a quick update about two of our major projects:

The Clinic

Davis, Terry, and I recently took a trip to Rondo to visit the Sabatia Eye Hospital and meet with the director there.  It was a great meeting for us! The director provided us with great information that will be so helpful as we run the clinic in the expansion.  We all came away very encouraged. We head to Nairobi this week to get lab equipment!

They have started painting the clinic with some very bright and beautiful colors.  The reception room is painted, as is one of the doctor’s offices.  Some of the windows have also been painted.  They are already getting the land around the building leveled and ready
for planting!

 The New Well

The well (borehole) is nearing completion!  Oh my, it is exciting for sure.  We got home from Rondo just in time to see them begin the testing phase.  A new truck arrived to test the output and purity of the borehole. They pumped water for 24–30 hours; at first the water was cloudy, but then it became pure and beautiful.  What a gift to the children and the village!  We
should now have plenty of wonderful clean water!

 Love Changing Lives!

Margaret

Being the hands and feet…and wheels… of Christ

Written by lauren. Posted in Stories, Village Project Africa

We had one of those gloriously beautiful Sundays that those of us living in Indiana live for all winter long: mild temperatures, sun shining, birds chirping. Determined not to let the day go to waste by spending it indoors, my husband and I took our new bikes for a spin.

We’d been talking for years about getting bikes so that we could ride the trails near our house, but there always seemed to be something more important to do with the money than spend them on bikes. So, it was a blessing when my neighbor stopped me in my driveway one day and asked if we would be interested in two old (1970s) but well-maintained matching Schwinn bicycles.

After clumsily circling the driveway a few times to dust off my bike-riding skills, we hit the open road. As we rode past houses and people, a memory flooded my mind and I was carried back to Kenya to a day when others were gifted with bicycles.

On a trip to the village in 2009, we got to meet many of the pastors who serve their communities, some in Makutano and Likuyani and some who serve the Lord much further away. Each pastor was committed to the service of his community and traveled to Likuyani to participate in a Theological Seminary by Extension experience where they studied and worshiped with each other each week. Some of the pastors traveled far distances, as their tired feet and worn shoes could attest. After attending classes, they would walk back home to continue their work in the community.  Their feet would find no rest at home, as many would travel to the edges of their villages to visit homes and share the Good News.  Many of these pastors were older, but more committed than ever to doing God’s work. Their flesh may have been weak, but their spirits were willing!

Knowing the difficulty that some of these pastors faced in coming to weekly meetings in Likuyani, returning home, and continuing their work, a Sunday School class in Indiana decided to raise funds for bicycles. So, on a sunny day (not unlike the day I was riding), three hard working pastors were given bicycles to help them continue the good work they were doing. Those wheels became a vehicle for those pastors to be the hands and feet of Christ in an even greater capacity. Three years later, I am sure those bicycles have covered many miles and carried a message of love and hope to many people.

I’m not sure if God will use our “new” matching Schwinn bicycles the same way I know He has used those bikes in Kenya, but I do know that there is always a way to be the hands and feet of Christ, whether you’re on two feet or two wheels.

 

Food for Thought

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Sponsorship

I came home this evening to dishes piled in the sink and pots and pans left on the stove from a hasty dinner prepared before my husband and I both ran out the door for different meetings. I have to admit that I grumbled to myself a bit as I filled the sink with soap and water and prepared to attack the baked on cement that had been refried beans hours earlier. As I scrubbed and scraped the dishes, I suddenly remembered something I read this weekend and I began to feel ashamed of my grumbling.

I have the pleasure of reading the interviews of every child eligible for sponsorship in our program, and I often write their brief bios to help potential sponsors get to know each child a little better. On Saturday, I spent some time going over some recent interviews and came across one that really made me stop and think. Our interviewers have started asking the children what they have had to eat that day and what they consider to be their favorite food. Most of the kids say they’ve had tea, maybe some chapati (a kind of bread), and that when they go home they may have ugali (a Kenyan dish of cornmeal and water) and vegetables, maybe some fish. When it comes to the question about favorite foods, I always think about the answers that kids give here in the U.S. I know when I was the age of some of these kids, my reply was always macaroni and cheese. These kids, however, will probably never know what macaroni and cheese tastes like, may never see a pizza, and may never have the pleasure of eating a cold ice cream cone on a hot day. No, the typical favorites found at the top of a child’s list in the US were nowhere to be found in the interviews I read. The most common favorite foods of the kids at Heritage? Rice.
Bread. Meat.

But the one that came to me today as I washed the dishes from a meal, lavish by Makutano standards, was six-year-old Wilson’s favorite food. When asked what his favorite food was, Wilson said milk. Milk is his favorite food. Just think about that for a second. I thought about it on Saturday, but I really thought about it again today. How many times do we take even the most basic parts of our diets for granted? It’s astounding to think that those “basics” are the very things that kids in Makutano, around the world, even here in our own country, dream about and savor, if given the opportunity.

Needless to say, I had a different perspective as I finished cleaning up. I think we often take for granted so much that we are given in life, and my experiences with the children at Heritage Academy remind me time and time again of this truth. These children aren’t asking for cheeseburgers or the latest gadgets. Their needs are for the very things we often don’t even think twice about—they need opportunity for an education, they need love, they need care, and they need something more than just tea and vegetables to eat.

Want to share with these kids just a taste of what we take for granted? Check out our sponsorship page

“For I was hungry, and you fed me…” Matthew 25:35

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Written by lauren. Posted in Village Project Africa

This morning, the sermon I heard was on Luke 10:29-37. It’s a story with which many of us are familiar—the story of the Good Samaritan. A man is robbed, beaten, and left for dead on the side of the road. Many people passed this man, including a priest and another highly religious man. Neither stopped to help him, crossing to the other side of the road instead. It is not until the Samaritan walks by that this man is given aid. And what aid he receives! Not only does the Samaritan seek help for the man, he is willing to fund his recovery! A stranger refuses to turn a blind eye and is willing to sacrifice his time and money for a fellow man. I’m sure that by the time the man recovered, he and the Samaritan were no longer strangers. Perhaps they became life-long friends and brothers, bound by that one moment when tragedy was transformed into grace and healing.

As I sat listening to the sermon, I began to think of “Samaritans” I have seen and known in my life. My thoughts turned quickly to VPA and the many Samaritans who have seen a need and refused to cross the street and carry on. I have been so inspired by the people who have stopped and sacrificed something of themselves for strangers or people they only knew for a short time. These Samaritans saw an injustice and refused to let it stand. A child is clothed and fed who stood hungry and in rags on the side of a dirt road. A woman without hope is encouraged and given the opportunity to learn a skill and find that she has a new reason to live. A man is ill and near death when God uses a stranger to save his life, physically and spiritually. God has used so many as Samaritans in the lives of the men, women, and children of Makutano. They stopped at nothing and gave of themselves to make sure that those who are broken are lifted up.

At the end of the parable, Jesus asks who was a neighbor to the man on the side of the road. The reply was “the one who showed him compassion.” Jesus challenged all who listened to “Go and do likewise.” I am touched and motivated by the many people I have encountered in my time with VPA who are doing likewise.

I have this image in my mind, inspired by the parable, of a tectonic movement and a physical joining of the United States and Kenya—pulled together by love as neighbors. While my vision is geographically impossible, because of each person who stopped to help someone in a far away place, we are no longer strangers with people so far, but neighbors—perhaps just neighbors of the heart.

I challenge myself, and each of you, to “go and do likewise” in some way today. “Be compassionate as God is compassionate” (Luke 6:36). Lives are changed and neighbors
are made through love.

Matthew 25:35

Written by margaret. Posted in Village Project Africa

Matthew 25:34–40 says:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Every day in the village we see people who are hungry, who are thirsty, who need love and care. Every day, the love and kindness of strangers who might never step foot in the village comes to meet the needs and offer hope so desperately needed. Story after story holds witness to the way God is using people to love and care for His own.

Matthew 25:35 speaks to feeding, quenching a thirst, and welcoming a stranger in as a friend. I think there are two places in particular where this verse is in action regularly—our dormitories and our growing church community.

What a difference the 2 dormitory buildings are making in the lives of our children!  We just moved about 20 more children into the dorms over the last week and I know more stories will be added to the countless we already have that show how God is working in the lives of people through these new homes.  I’d like to share a couple of stories with you here, though there are so many that speak to the importance of the dormitories in the lives of all who live there.

Last week, an old woman walked from Moi’s Bridge to come to our school.  She has an orphaned grandson in her care and was so desperate for help that she walked between five and six hours to get to Makutano.  She is at least 80 years old.  She told us the story of the child that she cares for and asked if we could take him.  We listened, asked lots of questions, and then  Davis and I looked at each other and agreed to take him in.  Davis told her that we would board him in our dorm and look for a sponsor to help.  She started crying and immediately stood up and started praising God and thanking us.  It was a very emotional moment.  The child is now happily in the dormitory and doing well. 

We had another child walk to Likuyani to find help.  He had come to Likuyani some months ago to visit an ailing aunt, and he felt she was the only person he knew to go to for help.  I guess he knew at some point in his life he would run away and seek help from this woman because he walked here from  beyond Rondo on the way to Kisumu.  It took him 15 hours to get here and he said he ran much of the time.  When he got here, his feet were swollen and in bad shape.  We asked him how he knew to get to Likuyani and he said that when he was on the matatu on his last visit to his aunt, he memorized the route and he followed the road all the way here.  I asked him if anyone ever bothered him along the way and he said “no.”  He is also an orphan who was much abused by relatives and was moving from place to place.  When he arrived in Likuyani, this ailing great aunt came to Davis for help.  We took this child in and he will have a good, safe place to live for the first time in his life. 

The children who find their way into the dormitory will find not only welcome and regular meals, they will also find the kind of nourishment that goes beyond that which meets the needs of the physical body. These children find love, peace, and joy that feeds the brokeness many of them carry. Their sponsors are feeding them in ways they might never even realize.

Another place that welcomes the people and feeds them in ways only love and the Holy Spirit can is the church community that is developing and growing. Our new multipurpose building at the Heritage Academy location will be the new home for the church each Sunday. Two weeks ago, the first service was held in the new facility. There were 52 adults and so many moving children we couldn’t get an accurate count.  The service was so special.  Pastors Joseph and Mapesa were smiling most of the time because they were just so happy.  Mapesa has had a vision for quite some time that this will be a big church and life changing for the village.  At the end of the service, they dedicated the church leaders.  I counted around 20 that came forward to be prayed for and there were some not present.  It is thrilling to watch this movement of the Spirit.   

Each of us, in small or great ways, can address the needs of those who are considered “the least of these.” The dormitories and church in Makutano are by no means the only place where needs are being met on a regular basis—there are so many other places, too, that are touched by the love of God through His people. No matter whether you feed, or clothe, or love someone in Africa or right around the corner from your house, God can use you to change a life!

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