A Year in Review: 2017

Written by margaret. Posted in Children, Education, Sponsorship, Stories, Village Project Africa

As we come to the close of each year, we take time to reflect on what the last year meant to us. We take stock of what we’ve lost and what we’ve gained, the pain and the joy we experienced over a twelve-month period that shaped us and formed us. We celebrate the growth we witnessed and the love that we shared. Through it all, we recognize God’s hand and the provisions He made. Faith, hope, and love were our constants in 2017.

Faith

Since Village Project Africa began, faith has been a driver in all that we do. Our prayer has always been that God would guide our work and give us the faith and strength to follow His plan for us.

When we started Heritage Academy, we began with faith that God would provide for the children we served, and He has. A record number of students in our school were sponsored in 2017. And as new students join both the primary and high schools, we have faith that this trend will continue. We recently admitted 10 new students to the high school: all received excellent scores on their eighth grade national exam, but would have been forced to leave school were it not for the opportunities presented at Heritage Academy through sponsorship. Many are the first in their families to attend high school. Each time we add a new student, we do so on the faith that a sponsor will step forward.

High school students listening to a teacher's lecture.

We also have faith that the teachers that are led to teach at our school will support and nurture the students in our school to help them reach high and achieve their dreams. We’ve been blessed to have a team of teachers assemble at our school who have become a stable part of our school. All but one teacher returned for the new school year, a very unusual rate for a rural school like ours. And these teachers are making huge strides with our students. Our school is ranked one of the highest in the region for performance, and three of our students earned a score over 400 on the national exam last year. This is a huge achievement considering the challenges our students have faced and had to overcome.

Hope

We have so much hope for the future as we see the commitment and dedication of our teachers and watch our students excel and grow.

All of this is thanks, in large part, to the terrific leadership we continue to have at both the primary and high schools. The new principal at the high school has been recognized as one of the top principals in the country. When we interviewed him, he wanted to pray about accepting the job. A few days later, he contacted Davis and said, “I want to be a part of your dream.”  He has already made such a difference since he joined the team, and we are hopeful as we look forward to what this leadership will do in the year to come.

Our hope for our students is that they will continue to grow and recognize their value, talents, and callings. In 2017, we had several opportunities for our students to explore who they are and who they hope to become. One of these opportunities was a GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) camp. Our girls had the opportunity to grow their confidence, think beyond traditional gender roles, and find encouragement to be leaders in the community. There was so much laughter and fun, and we are grateful our girls were able to participate in such an empowering experience.

Picture of the girls participating in GLOW camp.

We continue to have hope for the future of education in Kenya and the strides our kids can continue to make with well-prepared teachers who have a passion for their success. Teachers of Promise, founded by Dr. Lynn Staley, sponsors 10 young women to attend the Heritage International Early Childhood Development Education Teacher’s College at both the certificate and diploma levels for college. Students come from all over Kenya, but also from right here in Makutano, to receive top-quality education to prepare to enter the classroom. College is out of reach for most villagers, so our hope is that we can continue to add college sponsors and make a college education a possibility for more students.

Love

Love changing lives is not just a motto or tag line, it is a statement of what we see every day of the year. We see examples of God’s immeasurable love all around us as we walk through our classrooms, watch our kids skip to the cafeteria for lunch each day, hear the joyful voices of our students as they master new concepts and share their knowledge with others.

Love was an ever present part of our 2017. We saw it in Peter, an eleventh-grader who would have been forced to drop out of school were it not for his sponsor. Peter stays behind during school vacations to care for the pigs and acre of land we have set aside for farming and greenhouses, passing the love from his sponsor forward.

Peter reading a note from his sponsor.

Peter reads a letter from his sponsor.

We saw love in a family reunited after the mother found a job at Heritage Academy. When her husband died, Brenda had to send some of her children to live with other relatives because she did not have the means to support them, and it broke her heart. With a steady job, she is finally able to better provide for her children. And we saw love in the way that so many of our friends and partners stepped in to support us, answering needs we may or may not have recognized. Each one of you was generous in your prayers, in your support, and in your giving. Because of you, we are able to meet the needs of the people of Makutano and the surrounding area more than ever before. All these efforts are building a community that will continue to grow and sustain long into the future. The impact of your love will continue to reverberate and ripple here.

We look ahead to 2018 filled with more faith, hope, and love and a dedication to continue to run the race set before us. We know that love will continue to change lives in so many ways in 2018 because of you and all our supporters and volunteers. In you, we see that love never fails. Thank you.

On the Red Carpet: Second Showing of “Love Changing Lives: The Village Project Africa Story”

Written by lauren. Posted in Village Project Africa

Another great night in Indianapolis as Church at the Crossing sponsored a second showing of  the documentary Love Changing Lives: The Village Project Africa Story on the big screen at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis, Indiana. As with the premiere, Donald Boggs and his team from Thaumastos Films were present and participated in a question and answer period with Margaret following the showing.

Thank you to all who attended and made this another special night!

On the Red Carpet: The Premiere of “Love Changing Lives: The Village Project Africa Story”

Written by Village Project Africa. Posted in Village Project Africa

Tonight was a thrilling and moving night as we saw the documentary Love Changing Lives: The Village Project Africa Story on the big screen for the first time. The premiere, sponsored by Church at the Crossing, was held at the Keystone Art Cinema in Indianapolis, Indiana. Donald Boggs and his team from Thaumastos Films were present and participated in a question and answer period with Margaret following the showing.

Thank you to all who attended and made the premiere so special!

 

 

Dan’s Story: A Cure for Spiritual Myopia

Written by Village Project Africa. Posted in Missions, Stories, Village Project Africa

Dan Miller recently visited Makutano and shares how God opened his eyes to His works around the world.

Medical equipment for KenyaWell, this trip grew out of the generosity of a giving lady, my aunt Sharon. As his profession, my Uncle Jeff worked on medical lab equipment.  He, like Aunt Sharon, was a generous fun-loving person.  However, Uncle Jeff died of brain cancer way too early, but I believe through his illness God allowed him a uniquely personal and deep understanding of what the Apostle Paul was talking about in Philippians 3:8-11.  He went to be with the Lord, and in memory of him my Aunt decided to donate lab equipment to a clinic in Africa (Grace Clinic operated through Village Project Africa). I was honored to go as a representative of the family and can confidently say that this was orchestrated by God’s mighty handiwork.

God has definitely written and is still writing a masterpiece in this small village of Kenya.  In just a few short years, the school (Heritage Academy) has nearly 600 students! 

There were many blessings we experienced in Africa but one of the most special to me was the dedication at the clinic.  As mentioned above, my aunt donated medical laboratory equipment to this organization in Kenya. 

Clinic dedicationWe were able to take a day out of our schedule to have a service of dedication at the clinic.  The equipment that Aunt Sharon donated will allow this clinic to do so much more than they previous were able to do.  Prior to having this equipment the decision between treating patients for malaria or typhoid was often wrong.  Now, they can test patients and treat accordingly.  That is just one example of the benefits from having this equipment and another example of God working through His people!

The name of the mission, Village Project Africa, truly encapsulates what is happening here.  They have done exactly that.  To see what God has done through a few faithful people is nothing short of miraculous. 

Some of you may relate to the following example: Sometimes I know I could be diagnosed with an eye problem that I call Spiritual Myopia.  Allow me to explain it like this: Within the last few years, I entered into a new level of enjoyment with God.  Now my normal routine is to get up early to have a time of worship with our loving Savior and mighty God.  This time has grown into a real necessity in my life.  Some of you might be thinking, “That’s a good thing,” and you’re right… it is.  But I guess what I mean is I felt that God is actually spending time with me in a personal way.  Foolishly, I was thinking that I must be in some way monopolizing His time.  Silly, I know, but I did not realize I had this eye problem until I went to Africa and saw all the ways our Mighty God has been working.  

The change of hearts, the love for people, the food, clothing, shelter donated—these gifts come from generous givers at “just the right time.”  As my sight started to improve, I saw these gifts as movements in God’s wonderful symphony of sovereignty!  Guys, there is no coincidence with our God!  He is big enough to spend each moment with you and me and still arrange and orchestrate the needs of a village in a remote part of Africa…Honduras, China, Macedonia, and on and on!  This is the God we serve today, and He delights in us and wants to share His music with us!!  Can you believe that?  WOW!  

This “Spiritual Myopia” was only temporary.  God was gracious enough to allow me to go to Africa and see Him at work.  As I have been saying recently, “God is busy!”  And by the way, He healed my sight!

Group in Kenya

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Eph 3:20-21

Project 5+2: Blessing Many

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Missions, Stories, Village Project Africa

Guest blogger Audrey Armstrong shares her experience distributing 5+2 bags assembled and shipped by Church at the Crossing last year as a special partnership with VPA.

Have you ever wondered how the people (especially the children) on the hillside that day reacted when Jesus blessed the lunch of loaves and fishes and started passing them out to the thousands?  The Bible doesn’t go into detail, but I have the feeling I experienced it this past summer.

It happened at the end of that school day back in July.  We had barely recovered from the eReader celebration and were measuring feet for a “new shoe” project coming up.

   “When out on the lawn there arose such a shout, 
     We sprang from our tables to see what it was about!”

 Delivery of gifts to AfricaNo, it wasn’t Christmas, and it wasn’t Santa Claus.  It was better than that.  A huge open truck filled with brown, slightly travel-worn boxes was pulling into the gates of the school.  From every corner came shouting, waving, leaping students.  They surrounded the truck and escorted it across the playground and to the door of the multi-purpose building.  The queen herself couldn’t have had a more enthusiastic procession.  How did they know?  Who told them it was the long awaited 5+2 backpacks arriving in that truck?  By the time we got to the building, the students had crowded inside and were celebrating with cheers, screams, dances, claps, and hugs.  I can’t even describe the excitement and joy on those faces.  And the noise—oh my goodness!

It took our team a whole day to sort and organize the bags.  We had to be sure every student at Heritage Academy had their bag with their name on it.  The letters inside were personal, and it was important to us that we matched them up correctly.  We said lots of prayers, hoping we could distribute the bags and not leave any child without one.  We had a few extra empty bags and a bit of “stuff.”  God really multiplied it so we had enough for every child and every adult connected with the school.  And all the time we worked, small faces were peering into the windows of our workspace, trying to control their anticipation.

African children receiving giftsThe next morning the bags were distributed class by class, and the children carried them out to the playground.  They sat quietly (almost) in the hot African sun, all 500+ of them, until every child at the school had a bag in their arms. Then Pastor Joseph thanked the friends at Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis for this display of thoughtfulness, effort, and love.  He thanked us—the team who just felt blessed to be a witness to the event.  He led the children in a beautiful prayer, thanking God for people on the other side of the world who cared for children and showed that love in such a tangible way.

African woman with Bible

What happened next was just remarkable.  The children started moving.  Some big brothers and sisters found younger siblings.  They gathered together in groups and carefully began to explore their bags, helping each other when needed.  Two memories I have were of a little girl hugging a baby doll and a small boy making a road through the dust as he pushed a little car along. That boy was so caught up with the car that he didn’t even look at the backpack full of treasures sitting there beside him.  The children tried on socks, counted pencils, examined toothpaste and smelled bars of soap.  They played catch with balls, played with trucks and stuffed animals, and jumped rope.  The brightly colored washcloths were a hit too.  We saw them worn on heads like hats and tucked into waistbands.  The adults were also excited.  The lady who received a Bible just shouted and cried as she waved it over her head.  She carefully put it back in her bag and then, two minutes later, she pulled it out and was waving it and praising God again.

 5 + 2!!!  I feel like I was twice blessed.  First, to witness the fun and pride of the families, both children and adults, at Church at the Crossing as they chose a child, carried an empty backpack home, and returned it full.  Usually there was a letter addressed to the child and maybe a picture of themselves and their dog inside the bag.  I have no doubt the bags were also filled with love and prayers.  My second blessing was to be at Heritage Academy when the truck pulled into the schoolyard and those African children knew someone cared about them.  Prayers are important to the children and they need to know we are praying, but when you’re a child, having tangible evidence—with your very own name on it—well, that’s impressive evidence that someone knows you and loves you.

It’s been some months since I was in Africa, but the emotional impact is still alive whenever I remember.  I may forget the facts (it’s an “age thing” with me) but I will not get over the joy.  It makes me smile again right now!  I know what 5+2 means in a whole new way.

Village Project Africa is thankful for all who have participated in this program for the last two years and who are participating again this year! What a blessing each of you are to the children and teachers at Heritage Academy!

 

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