Haley’s Story: Reflections

Written by shelly. Posted in Stories

God has been moving in the life of Haley Clasen through work with Village Project Africa. Here are her reflections after her most recent trip to Makutano:

Haley

When I went to Kenya for a second time this year, my experience was so totally different. Without the factor of shock at the lives of these beautiful people, I began to see the way they live and to let it change the way I live. Here are the things I learned:

 

 

  1. Exciting things are going down at Village Project Africa!
  2. They are people, not pictures. I have no right to take their picture without first remembering that there is a person, and we have no right to look at anyone’s pictures without a thought and a prayer for the person and the story behind the picture.
  3. 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect
    in weakness.”
  4. ^that does NOT mean that God will call you to the very worst thing you could imagine, the place you are very weakest. However it does mean that God just might turn the very worst thing into the very best thing.
  5. There is so much more to life than being happy, if you can put behind fear and pursue what’s really real.
  6. Long days make short nights, and when I am at the end of my rope, there is my God the whole way.
  7. Haley JumpingMy capacity for love, grace, trust, etc. can only do so much, but these things define my God and He defines them, and He is more than enough.
  8. Life keeps you learning. I choose not to remain static.
  9. I was reading a book about trees to Class 4, and I asked them, “Can one tree change the world?” They all agreed yes. Later, I asked them, “Can one person change the world? Do you believe that you can make a difference?” and they all just looked at each other. Maybe it’s simply that they didn’t understand my English well enough, but I was reminded—one tree, one person cannot change the world. One God can, and He made all the trees and all the people. He chooses to let us love and maybe change the person He has set in front of us.
  10. Every moment I spend serving, every dollar I don’t spend, is a minute someone else can rest or something I can give to them.
  11. Kenyans love the ceremony. It is less about the time, or other demands, and more about the community through ceremony.
  12. If I go here or there, I will see God in a way I never would have had I not moved.
  13. THE LORD WILL ALWAYS TAKE CARE OF HIS CHILDREN!!!!!!
  14. The moment I start to feel good or brag about anything is the moment I will consider my intentions.
  15. I am learning to live changed.

Haley with childrenIt’s hard coming home. It’s hard to be a different person in the same place. It’s hard to be so different inside that the people who once knew you so well don’t understand you anymore. It’s hard when the things that hit you are the ones you don’t expect, when you have an uncontrollable breakdown in the middle of Target. It’s harder coming home than going there—and that is when I am reminded that God, You are who You are, no matter where I am. I want to see Him, know Him, and love Him and His people everywhere I happen to be.

Obviously, in my two week trip, I only experienced a fraction of what others have experienced, but it is still the cry of my heart. I want more of God, wherever He takes me, and in the meantime, I need more of Him here.

I love you all and would love to talk more in person for anyone who really cares. I pray that God is working in your hearts too, that you begin to care in a way you have never experienced before, and that together we can pray, as I learned at International Youth Convention, “more of you at any cost, Lord.” I pray that we conquer fear and take hold of our calling. I pray that we can do nothing by ourselves and don’t ever try, but that God is the root and heart of all.

In Jesus’s name we pray and believe, Amen.

The Norton Family’s Story: Adoption of a Different Kind

Written by shelly. Posted in Sponsorship, Stories

Leah Norton shares what brought her family to Village Project Africa to fill a space that was empty in their family.

Our girls have been wanting to adopt more children into our family, but that’s not what Brian and I feel God calling us to do. Instead, we are thrilled to have started sponsoring two girls (they are sisters!) through Village Project Africa! At just $20 per month per child, I bet many others could sponsor a child if they wanted to as well. Our daughters, Addy and Livy, are now praying for these girls every day and loved being able to send them some gifts. This is impacting our girls—and us—in a major way. Wow!!! God is changing our worldview and our love for Him and others is GROWING. I’m so thankful! 

The Norton FamilySponsored kids

Tim’s Story: A Witness

Written by lauren. Posted in Missions, Stories

Tim Parker shares what his four visits (and counting!) have taught him about generosity
and life.

Tim WorkingMy first trip to Makutano, Kenya was in 2008—a totally surreal experience. I never would have imagined that I would have such an opportunity, and now I have been there four times. I’m so blessed!  

While I have helped out and volunteered for various projects on each of my visits, I feel that I have not necessarily been a doer. Instead, I feel I have been a witness.  I’m a witness to God’s works, and the
generosity of family, friends, and strangers as they lay down their resources and time to help the people of Makutano.  I have seen God’s generosity in the American travelers, who give out of our abundance, but I have seen even more of God’s generosity in the people of Makutano who have nothing, but are willing to give you all they have.

I have had the privilege of meeting some great people in Kenya—Davis and Nixon, just to name a couple.  Their character and commitment to others is infectious, and I can’t help but feel recharged after being with them. They make me realize my purpose in life is greater than my own.  I believe God has great plans for the people of Makutano, Kenya because I have undoubtedly been witness to some of those plans being played out.

Tim playing with kids

Jaclyn’s Story: For the Love of a Boy

Written by lauren. Posted in Missions, Sponsorship, Stories

Jaclyn Smith came home from her first visit to Makutano with a passion for the village and the people living there. When she returned a year later, the love she felt for one little boy helped her passion grow even more.

My experiences in Makutano are something I could talk about for days if someone was willing to listen. I have been blessed to have the opportunity to go to the village three different times. There is one reason in particular that I keep returning, and that is a little boy named Reagan. I remember him vividly from my second trip, which is when I first met him. We were standing outside of the airport and a small group of children from Heritage Academy were there to greet us. They were all singing songs of welcome, some of which required movement to the beat. I fell in love with Reagan right then and there, watching
everyone stomping their feet to the beat and seeing him, the only one stomping on the off-beat. He sat on my lap on the bus ride back to the village because they were not enough seats for everyone. I loved every minute of it!

Jaclyn and ReaganBefore there was a child sponsorship program, I knew I wanted to help him in whatever way I could. I asked about his situation and learned Reagan’s story. Reagan’s mother came to the village to visit with friends and a family allowed her
to stay with them while she visited. She got pregnant while she was in Makutano and gave birth to sweet little Reagan. She stayed long enough to nurse him, but then left. The family she had been staying with tried to find her, but were unable to do so. Thankfully, they decided that they would care for Reagan as best as they could. I am very thankful that they took him in.

Once the sponsorship program started up, I was finally able to provide for him and pay for his schooling and any medical expenses he had. It was amazing to see how much he had grown on my third trip and I kept him as close to me as much as I could!

Jaclyn says goodbyeOn that trip, I was able to meet the family who had taken him in and the man he called his grandfather. While I was at the home where he was staying, I learned that he had been sleeping on the ground, in a cook room filled with smoke, on dirty rags. My heart broke and I promised myself that I would do anything to get him a real bed. After I left, Margaret and Davis went on a home visit and decided that it would be best for Reagan to stay in the boys’ dorm because he was not given enough food at his house. He now lives in the new boys dorm and I can tell from pictures how happy he is to be there.

God blessed me the moment we met and I will continue to visit him every chance I get. I hope to see him finish school and go on to do great things with his life!

Damaris and Sandra: Out of a Bus Window and Into Something Greater

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Sponsorship, Stories

Damaris was the very first child sponsored in the Village Project Africa sponsorship program—this special little girl, and the connection she formed with our first sponsor, Sandra, made us realize what an amazing opportunity we had to build bonds and change lives on both sides of the ocean. Here is Sandra’s story, in her own words:

I met Damaris on my first trip to Africa in 2008.  My family organized a Bible school for the children at the school and she was there.  I noticed her several times throughout the day, always standing alone and away from the other children.  Slowly, over the course of the day, she made her way closer and closer to me and finally reached out to hold my hand.  In all my years of teaching, I had never seen a child with such a haunted expression. 

Damaris and SandraThe day was over too soon and it was time for us to leave. We boarded the bus and one hundred or more children crowded the bank by the road, waving goodbye.  I was waving at all the children when I saw Damaris making her way slowly along the back of the crowd, looking in every window of the bus.  When she saw me sitting towards the back, she ran down until she was directly below my window. She reached her hand up and we held hands out the window until the bus pulled out to leave.  Little did I know, my life would never be the same! 

That was my one and only encounter with Damaris that trip,
but when I got home, I could not get her out of my mind and heart.  I asked Margaret and Davis if they would check with the teachers and see if they could gather more information about this little girl, who I actually thought was a boy the day
we met! 

Margaret and Davis checked on her and, through a process of communication, were able to assess Damaris’ needs and also meet her family. I had no idea that when Damaris made her way to me that day it would change both our lives—and that of her father, Morgan,
as well. 

Damaris, Morgan, and SandraA few months after a return trip to Kenya and a visit with Morgan and Damaris, I could not stop thinking about them both. I  truly believe God was putting them in my mind because something was wrong.  I got in touch with Margaret and Davis and they again went to check on the family. When they arrived at their home, they discovered Morgan was very sick—in fact, he was dying.  Davis got him to the hospital and through treatment Morgan got well. He now takes care of the chickens at Heritage Academy!

The way God allowed us to connect with this family was truly a miracle. He first allowed me to form a special bond with Damaris and used that connection to make a difference in (and surely save!) Morgan’s life.  It is impossible for me to fully explain how my knowing this little girl in Africa has helped me experience God’s faithfulness and grace more fully. 

Damarius and I still share a very special relationship and, while she was my first, I now sponsor 10 other children.  I have the privilege of seeing the lives of the four girls I sponsor in the dorm change before my eyes.  The haunted faces are replaced by shy smiles and giggles. 

Damaris and SandraThere is no better thing in the world than
knowing you are making a difference in the life
of a child. People tell me what a blessing I am
and that these children are so fortunate.  My
reply is always the same: my life is the one that has been blessed beyond measure and I am so fortunate to be allowed a small part in making 
the lives of these children more full and abundant in their knowledge and certainty that someone loves them.

 

We are thankful for Sandra, and the many sponsors who have come after her and found amazing, life-changing connections with children!

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