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 

Project 5&2

Written by shelly. Posted in Children

bagsWe are so excited to be partnering again this year with Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana as part of their outreach program, Project 5&2. The name of the project comes from Matthew 14 which tells the story of a boy who gave what he had—five loaves of bread and two fish, which Jesus multiplied to meet the needs of the entire crowd.

The goal of our partnership with Project 5&2 is to connect a family from Church at the Crossing with a child at Heritage Academy. The families are asked to pray for the child they choose and show love to him or her in what may seem like a very small way—by filling a backpack with necessary items that children in the school need to take care of themselves and to improve the quality of their education. Just as the crowd could focus more clearly on Jesus’s message when they were fed, these children can learn about both school subjects and the tangible love of God better when basic things such as soap and pencils
are provided.

We are pleased and blessed to hear that after this weekend’s kickoff, all 540 children who currently attend Heritage Academy have been paired with a family at Church at the Crossing or their current sponsor. All of the children will receive a bag and have families praying for them by name this next year. Because there was such high demand, and many people still interested in getting involved after the last child’s name was taken, Church at the Crossing has decided to go beyond blessing the children currently in our school—they are now creating bags for our “unnamed friends” who will form the new class for the new school year in January.

God is so great, and we are so blessed to be a part of the way He works to tie His people together despite apparent, even continental, barriers! Thank you, Church at the Crossing!

Want to learn more about Project 5&2 and the success of last year’s bags? Click here to watch the promotional video.

 

Photos courtesy of Carissa Drake

It’s Electric!

Written by lauren. Posted in Education, Village Project Africa

It’s such an exciting time at Heritage Academy right now! Through the support of our donors, we have been able to add new classrooms that will help us continue to add new grade levels and more students; a new multipurpose building that will serve as a cafeteria, community center, and church; and beds to our dormitories so that more vulnerable children will have a new home, a new family, and a new chance at life.

ClassroomPerhaps one of the most exciting things for Heritage Academy is that we will soon get electricity at the school! We have recently formed the Heritage Parent’s Committee, and the parents decided that they wanted to find a way to provide electricity for the school. The entire community knew how important this goal was. 

The committee asked each family to contribute 100 shillings per child for electricity.  Many  parents contributed and their participation and enthusiasm means so much to us. However, after the fundraising was complete, their donations were not enough to get the transformer and  power lines to the school.

Yesterday, we learned that some of our friends will make a gift to pay the difference.  They told Davis, our program director, to go ahead with the process and not wait any longer for a possible lower price.  Davis will go to the electric company on Monday to tell them we can now pay for the installation. There is great rejoicing and thanksgiving in the village today!

This gift will support the goals of Heritage Academy in so many ways and help us to continue to provide a world-class education to our students! The possibilities are limitless! God is so good!

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