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.

 

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!

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