Last week was a really long week full of ups and downs. If I could describe the feeling of the situation here it would be unpredictability, the feeling that you do not know what tomorrow will bring. Things are still safe here on the compound but the violence inched its way closer with fighting and violence within every city within 10 miles of here.
We thank God that he surrounds us like a fortress and we remain safe in His care.
This week one of the long-term physicians decided to return to the states with his family. His wife is close to the end of her pregnancy and they feel, for their safety and peace of mind, they should leave now while the window is open and travel is allowed. The staff also lost one of their beloved staff members and leaders in the church when he and his family received death threats and had to leave town this weekend. These losses are huge to what is a small, loving, tight knit family here at the hospital. Please continue to pray for unity at the hospital and peace as each family makes decisions and goes through change related to the situation here.
For Jackson this weekend was boy heaven. Mr. John, from hospital administration, took a group of kids to explore the bat caves by the river. Jackson has counted the days until this adventure. On Saturday afternoon a group of men and children went spelunking! Paul said that Jackson and his friend Luke were the first ones in the cave with the bats flying inches over their heads and were not deterred!
Church was standing room only this Sunday. Dr. Russ preached a message based on Hebrews 11:13-16. He reminded us that we are foreigners, pilgrims and strangers here and that our citizenship is in another country- a heavenly one. This was a timely reminder for all of us that as the body of Christ we should see no skin color, no tribal affiliation or nationality.
Even in Kenya Super Bowl Sunday is a huge event, it takes a little more effort but die hard football fans can make it happen! Last night at 2:00 a.m. the alarm went off, Paul and the girls woke up and walked up the hill to Dr. Russ’ house to join other missionary families to watch the Super Bowl. They ‘rented’ a satellite from town and then rigged a projector to watch the game on the wall. They made popcorn and sweets and completely forgot it was the middle of the night. What a memory!
There is a bridge over the river that many villagers have to cross to come to the hospital and over to this part of the mountain. Everyone here calls it the “Rickety Bridge”. We walked this Sunday afternoon to see it for the first time. It basically is a bunch of stick nailed together and put over the top of the river to make a bridge. I was very nervous watching my family cross it yet hundreds of children have to cross this bridge to get to school everyday. While we were there many women crossed over with goods on their heads and children on their back.
One of the long term missionary physicians, Dr. Ben, has a work team from his home church planning to come in March who is volunteering to replace the bridge with a sturdy, metal one over beams that are anchored and cemented below the water. Dr. Ben’s dad will be heading up this work team and we pray that they will still be able to come and do something so simple but impactful that will make things easier and safer for the people in this area.
Hope you are enjoying the photos and can piece them together with our blog entries. Continue to pray for peace in Kenya.
You may have read that there has been a lot of tribal conflict here in Kenya. Apparently long standing animosity between several of the different tribes has been ignited since the election here a month ago.Last night some of that conflict spilled over into the hospital where we are working. Some hospital employees from one particular tribe were threatened by an anonymous phone call. So today, these precious people and their families were loaded into two trucks and driven out by two Americans to an airstrip about 45 minutes away and flown to safety.
The missionary wives met to pray and I (Jenn) was honored they invited me to join. Not only did we pray for their safe arrival to the airstrip but just for the livelihood of these families, who may never be able to return to their homes.
Please pray for these people who have had to flee their homes, for the friends left behind, the missionaries and the hospital. Pray for an end to the conflict and fighting. Pray for peace to once more return to Kenya.
We are safe and do not feel threatened at this point. We do not plan on traveling outside the compound and have cancelled a trip we had planned to another city, so be assured we are taking precautions and using wisdom. We covet your prayers and will keep you posted to the situation.
~Paul and Jenn
“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name form the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” Psalm 34:14-17
“Keep me safe My God for in You I take refuge.” Psalm 16:1
Thank you all for posting comments on our last blog update!
Daddy has done so many surgeries with other doctors; it is very exciting seeing him so happy with the work he gets to do. The other day we had the opportunity to go to an orphanage. There were so many kids that had different needs and personalities but all had the same happiness (from Jesus) which was the one thing that made US happy.
I and some other girls at the hospital compound, including Sophie, have started the Charity Club where we collect money from making different things such as ironed beads, cookies, lemonade ect.
We are selling them to all the missionaries and visitors and then taking donations. We are hoping to be able to give the money to a fund that helps the poor with hospital fees or the orphanage we visited. We would love for everyone to give us ideas for this project. So far we have KSH 645 (around $10 in American money- which is A LOT to the Kenyans), which is a great amount for working for only half a day!
Liv & Soph
Today we (Jenn and the girls) had the opportunity to visit an orphanage 25 minutes from our mission hospital. The drive was an event in and of itself. We drove on any side of the road we needed to, just to avoid the huge potholes and roaming cattle!
The setting is rural; the only road leading to the orphanage is dirt. The countryside is lush and nestled on the side of one of the hills is a few acres where a small group of Kenyan orphans are having their lives changed forever. We saw the happy faces of the children; we played soccer, hoola hoops, catch with tennis balls and a new game the children taught us called “Through the bamboo fields”. After about an hour and a half of playing in the warm sun, the couple who founded and run the orphanage—Elijah and Rachael—invited us into their home for a meal. The home was small and warm, the hospitality incredible and the meal was wonderful—rice, beans and sakumawiki (a green weed that the Kenyans eat like collard greens). At the end of the meal, I asked Elijah and Rachael a simple question, “How is it that you started running an orphanage?” And this is what I was told:
In 1998, after the death of his mom and dad, Elijah’s 8 younger siblings were left alone. He saw how very hard it was to care for his own family and now to be responsible for his orphaned brothers and sisters. He felt God speak to his heart about the compassion that the Father feels for His own orphans in all of Kenya. Elijah felt called to be a missionary to his own country and to follow the command in the Bible to care for the widows and orphans (James 1:27).
So, after discussing it with his wife Rachael, they moved from his city to start an orphanage on his fathers land. He started with nine orphans, his own children and a three room home.
He told of his faith in God to provide through miracle after miracle. Our God, Jehovah, did provide and continues to provide with more than enough for this family. Here are a few of the stories he shared with me during my visit:
For many years there was no running water in Elijah’s home. In the African culture, the women do ALL the chores, like bringing water to the home by carrying it (often long distances) on their head. Men don’t help with this task—it is considered “beneath them” to help. Can you imagine Rachael bringing enough water from a long distance for her own family AND a growing orphanage? This bothered Elijah very much because he knew that this way of thinking was not right and that in God’s eyes Rachael was his equal. He did not dare let anyone other man in his village see him helping Rachael with the water or any other chores for that matter. So, he said he just began to pray.
Elijah shared how one day an American missionary visited and saw the work he was doing there for the orphans and a few months later returned and put in a rainwater tank with all the plumbing. Now Elijah and Rachael have running water in their home. Elijah laughed—“it’s just like our God, now neither of us have to go to the river for water!” Elijah and Rachael are caring for 80 orphans now on their little piece of land. They have a dormitory where the children sleep and a school. They raise all their own crops to feed the children, they have some cows for milk and chickens for eggs. Elijah shared with us that his present prayer request is for more cows and chickens. For now, he has to buy milk to supplement for the children because the cows do not produce the amount he needs for all eighty children and that can be expensive. He wants more chickens because his desire is for every child to have more than one egg a week for their nutrition, he prays for three eggs a week per child. He dreams of having so many chickens that he can sell the eggs for a profit.
A few years ago Rachael started a ministry to the widows in her village. She taught the women to pool their money and purchase a hen, which provides food and income from the eggs. Then with the profits the women buy another hen. Over time 15 widows have been able to buy a hen of their own. These women get together for Bible study and fellowship with Rachel regularly.
Recently the mobs were traveling up and down the road outside the orphanage forcing families from the ‘wrong’ tribe out of town and the remaining to join the mob that was protesting. Elijah told me how for one week during the peek of all the violence he and his wife took all 80 children (who are from many different tribes) into the bush to hide during the day. God protected them and the mob never came onto his land or discovered the children there in the bush.
This family is literally giving their lives away for the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ. It would seem they don’t have much by the worlds’ standard of wealth but I am reminded that one day the last will be first and the first will be last. I am certain that Elijah and Rachael will be at the beginning of the line. They are unsung heroes to me.