Saturday, June 26, 2010

Maasai Land - Engagement - Truck wreck

Had an awesome last two weeks with the Maasai tribe in Lerujet which is about 2 hours from Nairobi, far from busy streets, crowded slums, and civilization. Sleeping in houses called manyatas made of sticks, grass, mud, and cow dung. And working with the kids in the school… the school in a long process to come called Meeyu Academy (means ever flowing spring)... currently a school under a tree with only two benches to sit on. There are around 20 kids or so and they are great. They come from surrounding bomas. Most of the kids are from the age of 3 to 6, and then one at the age of 15. All in “Pre-unit” or preschool together learning. Most have never been to school, and if so, in the past they walked very far to the closest school in town… I know Elizabeth leaves at 6 for school that begins at 8:30. So maybe 2 hours to walk there. The teacher, named Jude, is only out of high school with dreams of becoming a doctor, but he was the only willing one to teach, but he is doing a great job with the small children. They are so intelligent. They already know their mother tongue or their tribe’s language, but now they are already learning Swahili and English. Its crazy. Most of them know the alphabet, and can count to ten, some to 100. Jacklyn, the 15 year old girl, I have been working with a lot. She can almost write her name by herself. Wow does this girl have a story. She was circumcised just a few years ago, and after she healed, she was able to be given away to be married at any time, but her father who is maybe 70 or 75 can hardly take care of him self, and most of his wives except maybe 1, have passed away, leaving him with many many children to take care of on his own. Jacklyn and her older sister who is married now have to take care of all the children and their father and the cattle and goats and washing and cooking and everything. But luckily she is now able to learn, and expand her knowledge, and Im so happy that God is working in her life. She has not been married off yet which makes me happy because she is so young and now she has an opportunity for an education which in that culture, it gives her a little more freedom and say so with her own life. Anyways the school is great. Syd got them some wood and her and Bonnie made a chalk board out of it, painted it, and got some chalk. It is awesome what they are able to get accomplished and learn out here with out even a school building. But they really do need one. They carry everything to school everyday, the chalk board, chairs, books, etc, which isn’t far from their homes, maybe the length of a football field for most, some walk about a mile, but still. Then sun is scorching hot, and there are always distractions all around. Tim and I have funny crazy farmer’s tans, and a little bit of sunburns. Also, many of the kids are on different levels, the little bitty one who know nothing, and the 6 year olds who know most all the answers. So it is hard to teach, they need to really be separated. Syd’s goal is to build maybe two classrooms a year so that each year the children who need to advance, can advance, and bring in more younger kids into school from the beginning, beginning with next year. She wanted to start this summer but the funds never came, and now said she notices that that was her plan and not God’s. HIS plan is that this year is about building relationships. There is me, Syd, Tim, Bonnie, and four other women that are came. The building relationships part is wonderful and fun, and her goal is to get people attached and build deep relationships together and with God, and when we all come home, we will have a heart for the needs and work together in our different towns and cities to raise for project. Which I know I have a heart for these people, but I also have a heart for Bible Baptist. But one thing that I have really learned in Maasai land is how to more intimately pray and worship. I love how they do it. They sing with all their heart, they dance, clap, jump, shout in prayer, and every time I get chill bumps… or God bumps. Its just the most awesome thing. Every time I worship with them, I just feel the Holy Spirit moving and I feel renewed. I was there last year but only for about 3 or 4 days… and Its crazy that I thought that I was coming back here to share Gods word and the Good News and be a witness, which maybe I did, but for me I feel like a gained more than I gave. But I really hope that God is working something for their school and church.

On Sunday, July 20th… I had a really happy day! We had an amazing church service, a late church service that lasted till about 3 and then we came back to the boma and they had slaughtered 2 goats for a feast. A “Welcoming celebration” for the visitors.. As I was told…! So the mommas of the boma told me that the youngest there (which was me) would be given a gift.. And at the end, the oldest would be given a gift. HA! So they told me that I was to be blessed with maasai clothing and jewelry and so they took me into a manyata, and began to dress me traditionally. Then they put this necklace on me… which I remembered seeing one like it last year that was similar, and I was told that it was a ceremony necklace… like an engagement/wedding necklace. Then it hit me. J I then knew what was coming then. After a few minutes of everyone sticking their head in the door and taking pictures, Tim came in. Then my dad was on the phone with Syd. He was put on speaker phone so he could listen to everything. Mom came in and sat down. Then pastor Peter began talking about joining two people, and something about engagement and something about marriage. And I began to tear up and I don’t remember much of what was said after that. Then I saw Tim come towards me and he put a necklace on my that symbolized that he loves me and that he chose me to be his future wife. Then he got down on one knee and proposed and asked if I would also choose him and marry him. And of course I said yes with tears going down my face. And he gave me a pretty giraffe ring to wear here. Its sweet. Then we all went outside and celebrated. There was singing and dancing and cake and goat meat and chapati and sodas. Then Tim and I took a walk and sat down to watch the sun set. Then we made a few phone calls back home and went back. It was so great. It was a wonderful day. Thank you Tim. And thank you God for bringing me such a Christian and wonderful guy that loves you so much and is a spiritual leader.

Late last night a child from a different boma ran crying and screaming to where we were staying asking us to come with the cars up the road, that there had been a wreck. So we jumped in the cars with the first aid kits and flew there. It was a big truck.. But a school truck. There was a whole 6th grade class in the back of the truck, about 40 or 50 of them, there were only two benches along the side and the rest of them were standing holding on to the rail, and the truck went of the road and flipped on the side and dumped all the kids out. When we got there all I could hear was screaming and moaning and crying. It was awful. I couldn’t help but to cry with them. I did not know what to do. I just squatted down and hugged some of the girls and cried with them and prayed over them. Syd began to pick out some of the worst ones and had some of the men carry them in to the van to take them to the hospital. There was one girl that my heart broke for. She was on her side moaning and crying, and when they began to pick her up she fell limp. I thought she was gone. I was so scared, I was crying. The young girls began smacking her face and she woke up, she had just passed out for about ten seconds. And she began to cry and scream again. We all continued to load up the worst injured. Many probably with broken arms and legs, back injuries and head injuries. Tim and I began going around with the first aid kid cleaning up blood and cuts and small wounds. Put some antibiotic ointment and bandages on them where needed. And then I went and hugged and prayed with some of the girls while Tim and another guy continued helping with injuries. It was a very long and scary night. I know when the kids did not come home on time their parents had to be so worried. And I just ask you all to pray for the kids and their families because I know many are burdened with high hospital bills and some are probable burdened with nightmares.

The day after the wreck

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Street Kids and Bible Baptist School

Day before yesterday we saw some street children on our way to the airport to pick up Tim.. they were dirty, dirt on their faces their clothes, skinny as can be, little meat on their bones and skinny little faces staring and asking so desperately, with torn clothes- holes in the legs, arm, and butt, and glazed over innocent eyes, and they wanted us to give them money .. most likely would be spent for more glue to sniff to help escape the feeling of hunger.. Glue is cheap and lasts longer than a bite to eat that would leave you feeling even hungrier . all they asked for was 10 shillings, which is less than 13 cents. but we knew what they would probably buy with it. so we got them some juice and cookies, but then we left them. we left them there at the little convenient store standing on the sidewalk, and they watched as we drove away. It is so sad, and I cant stop thinking about them. what else could I, should I have done? and they are all over this place. and i know i have not even seen close the worst. But i wish i could just scoop them all up and take them home, or somewhere. somewhere that they have somewhere to sleep other than the ground. and something to eat other than leftovers in the garbage, and someone to love them and care for them. I know God loves them so much, but do they know that? that is who i want to be out here with, with God and these children. Don’t get me wrong- I love working in the schools here. So many of the students at school have a bad home life and such sad stories and it is wonderful to spend time with them, teach them, play, and help and comfort them too . And many of them had been taken off the street and put in a safe house or in a near by orphanage, but so so very many are still homeless or in such poverty and come to school in hope for food. But what about the ones that don’t go to school too. How do we reach out to the many more street kids. Those are the one’s in my heart that I feel so much for. Do they have anyway to learn about God, their Father, that cares and love these children so much. Do they have a way to find hope in their lives and hope in their future, in heaven and on earth. And finally how to we get them to know that they have a Father that they can finally rely and depend on and love and reach out to for comfort. 

At Bible Baptist school in Kawangware slum, Pastor Edward and his wife Alice have dreams in buying some land near their school, within the slum, to build an orphanage, to take in the children and get them off the street, or at least some of the children. And then to add on to their school, make it two levels, get more kids in school and in Church, and gaining an education and learning about God’s love, and gaining a sense of belonging, and hope for a future. And then to just keep on expanding, building up or out, and growing, reaching out to more and more of these children. But where does that money come from to get going? They are so poor. We also want to begin an income generating project here. Making something to sell to go toward the school. Not clothes because many people sew, so too much competition. Not farming/gardening… and selling food because it is the same way. (sad that there IS food, BUT starving kids with no parents, too young to work, and no money to buy the food). They tried to raise chickens to sell. They had 60 but then they got sick and all of them died but 2 chickens and 3 babies. Mom and I thought about making soap to sell, because everyone uses soap, the same cheap soap for dishes, laundry, bathing, cleaning, etc. What if we can make it cheaper than the super market and sell it with in the slum? Just a thought to look in to. Does anyone know how to make soap, and with out lye? Or any ideas for income generating projects? But that money would be only enough to cover a small portion of the children’s school fees that are used to feed the children and pay the teachers the absolute minimum (which currently they have not been pain in about 2 months). And when they do get paid, they said its only 2000 shillings a month which is about 26 dollars… A MONTH! Wow.. Anyways, I just think about all the wealth we have in the USA. I know we have poor and homeless there in America too, Tim and one of his friends and I have went to the streets a few times to talk to some homeless, and I know they have a hard life too, but at least there are places like the Knox Rescue Ministry that give food, water, storage, showers, sitting area with tv‘s etc. on I think a daily basis, and Water Angels, and one ministry that goes out weekly under a bridge in Knoxville that we attended to see what it was and they serve food and have a rummage sale where everything is free and teach and share about God and give out Bibles and pray with people. And yes there should be more of that in back at home. But what about here in Kenya, shouldn’t they have something or someone to turn to, and all around the world, they don’t have as many things like that, and here they are walking in sewage and trash. There are so many children out here on the streets. CHILDREN, like 7 year olds taking care of their baby brother or sister, and their parents dead or away. I believe there is so much crime here because children come together on the streets, form gangs, and steal together to survive. What other choice do they have but to sit and starve and die? I just can’t even imagine. I hope nothing I have said is rude or offended anyone. Its just hard to explain how bad it is here in some places. And going over and reading everything I’ve typed, I even still feel like I have made light of what it is like in some places here. But that is all for now. If anyone has any suggestions or comments or wants to help, feel free.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kaole Community and slum

Monday, June 7, 2010
(Post by Loura, My Mom)
A new day, a new week and a new least for me.. Jenni was here last year! Pastor Fred and Alice and the children, John, Karina and Reva, came and picked us up yesterday after church at Pastor Edward and Alice's. It was bittersweet in that Jenni and I needed a little change of scenery , but at the same time, have grown so close to our new Kenya family. It was hard to leave them for this 3 weeks, but we will be back. If it was this hard to leave after a week and a half, how hard is it going to be to say goodbye to come home to America!! But we are here now, At Pastor Fred and Alice's. It is entirely different from Kawangware. Much quieter, less people...probably a little safer. Here there are indoor toilets and showers at Fred and Alices, but you have to be careful with water because it is rationed. Still, not everyone here has the convenience of indoor plumbing...there are many here also who live in stick and tin homes or no home at all. Off in the distance, I can see some mountains, which helps me... I miss the mountains. I got up this morning and looked out to see where the sun was rising, but it was not over the mountains... it must set this way!! I will look tonight to see! Last night I finally got to meet Christine and Moses and Grace and her grandson, Pavo. It was so very good to finally meet this person that has become my Kenya sister!!!

So it is morning now...Jenni and I are getting ready to head out with Alice to Candlelight school. They have a session in the mornings that Alice calls music therapy. I will write more later!!
We went to Candlelight this morning. I enjoyed so much meeting the children. We went to each class and met them and spoke with them about ourselves for a few minutes. We stayed in the fifth grade class for the longest. They were so full of questions about America... do we eat snake? What karate movies do we like? Who is our favorite actor/ actoress? What is our climate? Do we have snow and what is snow like? It was so fun to tell them about America because they enjoy so much hearing! Then Alice took me on down to the baby, preschool, and 1st grade classes while Jenni stayed up at the main school with the teachers she had made friends with last year to visit. I think I would be happiest there all day. They are so young and tiny , just still babies, so many of them!! So many stories that Alice shared with me about their lives... some left behind by their momma's because the daddys had left or were abusive. Sad stories!

Tuesday June 8, 2010
Last night Syd picked up Jenni and I and we went and picked up Jenni's boyfriend , Timmy Jarvis, at the airport. On the way, we stopped for gas and to get money from the ATM. As we were getting ready to pull out of the parking spot, a young boy, around the age of eight came to Jenni's open window and with glazed over eyes, asked if we could give him 10 shillings for juice. As Jenni was reaching for her purse,Syd turned to her and immediately told her 'no'! She told her that if she wanted to do something, to let Bonnie , who works for Syd, run into the market to get him juice and a snack, but that he was a glue sniffer and would use the money to buy more glue.... not food. Many street children resort to sniffing glue to numb themselves against the pain of the hunger and starvation they are feeling. It is highly addictive, brain damaging and often deadly. So many, from very small do this. It is so sad and so heartbreaking. The image of that thin, young boy and his sad , glazed over eyes will always be with me. This little boy may not live much longer. It just breaks my heart. By the way, Bonnie did go get him something to eat and some juice.

Timmy is now safely in Kenya!!!

Jenni has been experiencing some allergy issues and woke this morning very conjested and just not feeling too well... please keep her in your prayers. She stayed in this morning to rest. I went on to Candlelight to teach Bible. I just prayed and asked that God would set me aside and speak to the children through me and that they would understand me in spite of this nasal, southern drawl that I have! Marc had emailed me a picture of Nephelum skeletons that had been dug up by archeologists and I took my laptop and showed them one of the pictures and the message was about the Nephelum (giants) in the Bible and Goliath and how David killed Goliath because God was with him. I spoke with them about how problems in our lives today can seem so gigantic. That the giants that they face today of hunger, sorrow, loss, lonliness, etc. can be conquered by faith in the same God of David. I told them that God speaks in His Word about the importance of knowledge over and over and that they needed to keep learning and go as far as they could and that God would use that knowledge to fight the giants in their lives. I was so shocked when the 8th graders stood and clapped and cheered and no teacher was there to tell them to. God is so good because they got it.... PRAISE GOD for answered prayer!!! GOD IS SO GOOD!!!! How I love HIM!!

Jenni is feeling some better this afternoon. Please pray for her. And pray for that little boy at the gas station. Pray for all of these hungry, hurting children. Pray that God can show Jenni and I how to communicate and portray how things are here , to others at home in America... that we can be eyes for others to see.... that hearts will be stirred to compassion.... that change will come! These are some of my prayers... will you join me? ~ loura

Matthew 25:31-46 (New International Version)
The Sheep and the Goats
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."