Year End Update

Written by margaret. Posted in Children, Education, Farming, Health, Village Project Africa

2012 has been an exciting year for Village Project Africa! We have continued to see God at work in the village and are so pleased to see programs continue to blossom and grow. We are so excited to see what He has in store for us in 2013!

Here are a few highlights of the exciting things that have happened and continue to happen in the village:

  1. Heritage Academy will add 6th grade curriculum in January 2013, and accept enrollment for a new preschool class, bringing our enrollment to approximately 600 students.  Our children are healthy and happy, and they are learning.  Each term we see the test scores improving.  Recently the teachers gave their testimonies to some visitors.  We were inspired as they told, one by one, how God had called and led them to Heritage Academy.  Our school is a safe, loving, Christian educational environment.
  2. 41 students graduated from Heritage College this month with a degree to teach early childhood education. We started Heritage College two years ago with this African proverb in mind: “Educate a girl and you educate a community.”  Of the 41 graduates, 11 are girls from our village. These girls now have hope for a brighter future not only because of their education, but also because of their association with our Godly teachers and staff.    
  3. We will break ground in the coming weeks for the expanded clinic. Recently, another parent died, the father of three of our dear students.  We see this much too often.  Now our community has another widow and more fatherless children.  At the funeral, we saw fear in their eyes because their future is so uncertain.  But our Village Project community will walk with them through these darkest days. The death of this father is another affirmation of the priority to expand the clinic and improve the health care available to our community.  Thank you, Church at the Crossing, for partnering with us.
  4. Grace Community Church is growing. We see attendance of over 30 adults plus children on Sunday mornings.  Pastor Joseph and Pastor Isaac will begin teaching the congregation from the books that we used to teach the pastors’ classes.  Pray for them as they spread the Word and disciple believers.
  5. The agricultural program is growing and prospering.  Two greenhouses and the surrounding land are planted with vegetables.   We have 4 cows and more on the way.  The chickens are producing eggs and meat.  AND the bees produced the first honey! This farming program is providing nutritious meat, eggs, dairy products, and vegetables to our school children and employees. It also provides employment in the community and a small income to the school as we sell extra products in the market.
  6. We are getting electricity!!   This project was initiated by the parents of our Heritage Academy students, and is a partnership between parents, local community, and VPA donors.  Parents each gave 100 shillings and one of the neighbors is allowing the power lines to go through her farm to help reduce the cost. But it was not enough.   VPA friends joined together to finish the project, and we will soon get electricity.  This will allow opportunities for evening meetings and classes, as well as expanded curriculum such as computer training.
  7. The new multi-purpose (cafeteria/auditorium/church) building is almost completed and is already being used for school and community meetings.  It is the only building in the area that can hold such large groups. Recently, we held a parent meeting with over 250 in attendance, who fit comfortably in this beautiful building. In addition, we are completing new classrooms and administrative offices to accommodate our growing enrollment.  Often children tell us what they like best about Heritage Academy is “the buildings.”  We smile at their answer, but they really love to have a good place
    to learn.
  8. Our child sponsorship program continues to grow! We now have over 150 children sponsored and hope to have even more sponsored by this time next year. The education, nutrition, and healthcare that sponsored children have received this year have been absolutely transformative for so many children. A new online system for sponsorship will be rolled out in 2013, so stay tuned. We hope that even more children will find sponsorship—we have close to 500 children waiting for a sponsor!

We are so thankful for each of our supporters and the way you have come along beside us in so many ways to continue the work God has laid out before us. We look forward to continued and new partnerships in 2013!

We hope each and every one of you has a blessed and happy new year!

Love Changing Lives!

A Birthday Gift for Jesus

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Education, Stories

Julie Carpenter has created a new tradition in her first grade classroom at Calvary Christian School in Kentucky. Last year, and again this year, the class celebrated Jesus’s birth by throwing a birthday party and bringing gifts in his honor—school supplies to benefit Heritage Academy! Julie shares the response and reaction she’s gotten from the children in her classroom this year.

My first grade class at Calvary Christian School supports the children at Heritage Academy through prayer and donations. They pray for the children everyday, and they were excited to help them when they had the chance.   For our “Happy Birthday Jesus” party, they brought in tons of school supplies for the children, and they wrote sweet letters as well. We hope the school supplies will be helpful to all of the children at the school, and we hope the letters will remind them that their friends in Kentucky love and care about them. 
 
I have two stories to share about two of the little girls in my class. 
  
Brooklyn
During the first week of school, I shared about my trip to Kenya. Brooklyn’s heart was touched when she heard about the children and saw my photos of them. Here’s an email from her mom:
 
Julie,
 
Brooklyn has asked me several times for the last week or so about us donating things to Kenya. Is this possible? She says she would like to make care packages with food and such. I think that’s absolutely wonderful that she’s feeling drawn to help out. She says, “But mommy, they don’t even have food or clothes or toys, I could send them some things I won’t eat, wear or play with.” 
 
Thanks,
Michele
  
Rachel
I have a class website, and I post photos on it throughout the school year for the families to view. Of course, the photos from my trip to Kenya are on there because we support the school as our international class mission. Rachel’s mom told me that Rachel asks to look at the photos of the children often. She talks about them and prays for them every day. She even wants to be a missionary now and go to Kenya to help them!  During our parent/teacher conference, we started talking about her passion for the children in Kenya. Her parents mentioned wanting to go on a mission trip as a family sometime. I immediately mentioned the medical teams going this summer because Rachel’s dad is an anesthesiologist, and I sent more information about VPA. Rachel’s dad made contact with the person in charge of the medical teams and they are now planning on going as a family with the medical teams in the summer of 2014!  I’m so excited for their family, but I’m even more excited for Rachel! God is working out a plan so her passion to be a missionary can be nurtured even more! God is so good!!!        
 
It’s a joy to pass the passion I have for the children of Makutano to my students. God is planting seeds in the hearts of His sweet children, and they’re growing in beautiful ways.  Merry Christmas! 

 

Audrey’s Story: Learning Made Fun

Written by lauren. Posted in Education, Missions, Stories, Women's Community

Audrey Armstrong visited Makutano in 2008 and shares her experiences working with women in the village to increase their literacy. 

LearningWhen we walked up the path approaching the Grace House, we heard chattering and laughing.  Terror gripped my heart.  Who was inside and what was I doing here in this place?  Were those inside eager to be here or did they want to be in their homes caring for children and tending their gardens and fields?  Would they like me or would my lessons planned to help them recognize and write the letters in their name be too juvenile for these African  ladies?  I had prepared material for the fifteen women who had agreed to come, but when we entered the room, I saw the benches were filled with beautiful, happy, eager ladies—not fifteen, but nearly thirty had come.  They were there early and were prepared to stay all day.  This would not be the 45 minute lesson I had envisioned!  

Learning lettersWe learned a lot about improvising on the run that morning, but what fun!  We sang and prayed and wrote and talked and played and laughed.  The women practiced The Alphabet Song, The B-I-B-L-E, and B-I-N-G-O in English.  I practiced John 3:16 in Swahili.  And to my amazement, they came back every morning that week to do it again!

Linda’s Story: Discovering Something New and Wonderful

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Missions, Sponsorship, Stories

Linda Svec traveled to Makutano with the mission to share her experience as a pre-school teacher with the teachers in our early childhood development program at Heritage Academy. She took just as much away from her trip as she left behind with the teachers!
 
I think back on my trips at Makutano often. I still can’t believe I’ve had 2 visits, the first in June 2011 and the second in February 2012. Growing up as a minister’s daughter, the idea of doing mission work has always been part of my life. However, the idea of ME doing that work was not part of my thought process.
 
The purpose of my trips was to work with the early childhood program, sharing what I know about teaching and taking materials to the teachers and showing them how to use them. It took months to prepare and collect everything we might need. 
 
Several times now I’ve been able to speak to groups about my trips. Recently, I found myself speaking again at a small church in Eastern Kentucky. I displayed pictures and items I’d brought home, told about the children, and shared stories about the new friends I made.  I enjoy telling my stories to others. The time spent in the classrooms, playing with the children, meeting other teachers, sharing meals, home visits, and so many other things are all cherished memories for me.
 
One of the highlights for me was meeting a little boy, Job. Job is 9 years old and the same age as one of my grandchildren. He had a horrible home life and is now thankfully in the dorm. Job is now my sponsor child. I think back on my first visit when we were just getting to know each other—he looked at me without much sparkle in his eyes. The second trip, however, showed a different boy. I saw him playing with his friends, running, working hard in the classroom, and SMILING.
 
I think back on these trips and can only think of what this has changed in me. The Lord has shown me new and wonderful work to do. I look at pictures now posted on Facebook and search for the faces I know. I recently received an email with an updated picture of Job, and I love it. I can’t wait to see the changes in store for these wonderful new friends and how I can be used. I can’t wait to go back!

Taylor’s Story: Heartbreak to Joy

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Sponsorship, Stories

Taylor Norsworthy and her family were one of the first to become a part of our sponsorship program after it launched in 2009. Since then, their support has continued to grow. Here, Taylor shares the personal story of how the sponsorship program helped her through heartbreak and how it has made a difference in her life and the life of her family. We are so thankful for their support and Taylor’s willingness to share this story with us.

Friday, October 12, 2007: I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the day my heart became overwhelmed and in love. It was the day my son was born. It was the day I learned for the first time what unconditional love really felt like. The first time my eyes focused on this amazing creature God made I knew right away how much God loved me, or at least I got a glimpse. I’ve learned since then that God’s love for me is just simply incomparable and really how amazing is that! It was also the day I fell in love with the idea of a bigger family, a close family, a family to love, and a family to care for. Truthfully, I never in a million years would have said anything like that before that very day. That day changed my life forever.

As time passed, I grew content and more in love with my little family. October 12th didn’t instantly change me, but my more selfless dreams and goals brightened, and God’s plan
for me became more evident. For now, I was to be a mother. That was my new dream.
It is human nature to want more of a good thing and so, just like that, I wanted
more children.

August 1, 2008 was the start of a waiting game and the start of my struggle with God. Secondary infertility entered my life and took me on yet another emotional roller coaster.  It is a sensitive topic that I have found very few like to discuss, unless they have been there and eventually been blessed with a child. Those not going through infertility don’t know what to say to you and, honestly, you end up feeling alone. I was confused, hurt, and frustrated with God because I wasn’t getting what I wanted. I didn’t want to hear about God blessing others with children.

In December 2009, I hit rock bottom in depression. Not the sort of depression where I wanted to take my life, but the sort where tears were the only makeup on my face. Sobbing seemed to be my new hobby and life just felt meaningless. It was during this time that I forgot how good I had it. I forgot I had a husband who loved me, who took care of us, and because of it I was able to be a stay-at-home mom. I forgot about my son. I forgot how amazing he was because I was so focused on the child that didn’t exist.

It wasn’t until after the New Year (January 2010) that life began to have meaning and I began to listen to God again. Sitting in our living room with my laptop in hand, I remember scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook and coming across a post from an old friend pertaining to Village Project Africa. I went to their page to check it out and immediately felt drawn to it. I literally sat there for what seemed like forever, just reading and learning everything I could about it. It was certainly then, and more so now, that I realized Village Project Africa was a Godsend.  You see, my heart changed again that day. I was lifted from this depression that bound me so tightly that I couldn’t breathe and I began to really understand the line that people kept tossing me “in God’s timing.”   The tears stopped.

It was shortly after the 5th of February, 2010 that I received a picture and information about sweet little David, a third grader at the time and one of the first students at Heritage Academy.  I really don’t know how to explain it (as I now have tears welling in my eyes just thinking about it), but looking at David’s photograph was reminiscent of the time I first laid eyes on my own flesh and blood. What was initially about me feeling lead to give and to help a child drastically changed the moment I locked eyes with a photograph of a smiley little boy I had never met and still haven’t met almost three years later.  David immediately became a part of our little family and from there it grew.

LeviWe now sponsor five children in Makutano and, God willing, we will reach our goal of twelve children by the end of the year (2012). David, Metrine, Belvin, Nicanary, and Francis now have pictures hanging on a wall of our home to symbolize the part of our family that they are and to serve as a constant reminder to pray for them every day. Our son is learning their names and has taken so much from this experience. He doesn’t think of them as siblings, and still has a desire to have a brother as great as my desire is to give him one, but he is learning through this experience that God loves everyone no matter what they look like and he is learning to give and to pray for others.

It’s been four years, 2 months, and several weeks now that I’ve dealt with secondary infertility and as much as my heart still desires to have more children, I no longer have an open wound. I’m open completely to God’s timing.  God is so amazing in the way he brings the absolute last thing you would ever think of to your aid. To think God used kids so far away to  “fix” me and help take such a burden away is just so remarkable, impressive, and so God. 

FamilyBeing a part of VPA has blessed my family and me more than I feel we could ever bless our sponsored children financially. The whole experience has been incredible and I cannot wait for the day when we get to meet these special kids face-to-face. Now, the businesswoman in me wants to make money to change more lives!

In Him,

Taylor 

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