Tuesday, April 12, 2016

What will bring them home?

My dear friend Abbie has an incredible heart that inspires me. She asked me to write something for her blog encouraging moms in the trenches.
Here is a link to what I wrote.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Where have we been?

We are still here in the same place...same beautiful village!

I decided to mosey on over to our blog this morning only to realize it has been almost a year since we have made a peep. And that there is no mention of the website that was created to highlight the ministry we have in the valley among the pokot tribe.  I very much desire to update this blog on our family life here. It's hard to believe it has now been 6 years since we journeyed to Africa to make Kapsowar, Kenya our "home"! And what a lovely adventure it has been following Jesus here. We can't thank you enough for the love, encouragement and support you all have so graciously given us these years. We are humbly grateful. 
So here's to a new year full of hope that I can document better this beautiful life we live and keep you better "in the loop". Here's to a new year full of passion for the kingdom of God to increase as we each faithfully follow the Lord wherever that leads.
Here is a link to the ministry in the valley (there is a school there now)!

The Lodengo women's choir singing in celebration for the school opening!

Hudson (10) with his loyal pal "Roo"!
Ariella Grace Jepkemoi (4) radiating the kindness and joy of the Lord!
Hudson (10) & Jude (8) on one of their many daily adventures!
Isaac (6) a friend to all! Creating laughter always!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Praise God for Work Among the Pokot

On December 1st, 2013 we officially opened AIC Lodengo Health Center which is what many of you may know better as the Pokot clinic.  This had been a matter of prayer since the first year we arrived on the mission field in Kenya.  God was in the beginning of it, the middle and continues with us now.  We had a wonderful day to praise God for what He had done to make it happen and dedicate all that would go on there for His glory.  And He truly has done great things.  Over it's first year and 4 months of operation the Pokot clinic has been a light to it's community.  Many have come there seeking physical healing and have found both that as well as a Savior.  We have never hidden the fact that we are there to preach and heal.  The Bible says in Luke 9:2 that Jesus sent His disciples out to "preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick."  I have taken that verse as my life motto and I hope that it will be true of our clinic as well.

During our first year we also started a community health program and trained 20 community health workers.  They are going out and doing the hard work of teaching their neighbors about the benefits of clean water, good hygiene, use of latrines and coming to the health clinic when ill.  This last month we met with them again to see how the work was going and encourage them.  We asked them what the top 8 problems were in their community and the number one problem they cited was spiritual depravity, followed by physical illness and alcohol abuse.  There is still a great need for the mission set forth in that verse in Luke 9.  We are committed to seeing the Lord work among the Pokot and we appreciate those who have joined with us in that effort.

The mission effort among the Pokot of our area started with the planting of a church.  It is now a community of first generation believers who are growing in their new faith.  Many of them have testimonies of leaving lifestyles of raiding where they were even involved in murder while they stole from neighboring tribes.  Others tell of leaving their life of brewing home made alcohol and getting drunk every day, even giving alcohol to their children to drink.  It is amazing the transformation that is possible when their lives were changed by Jesus Christ.  The health center followed shortly after the church as I believe this is also part of God's plan for the Pokot, to bring physical healing.  The next step that the Lord is leading us to do in this journey is to help the Pokot people of Lodengo by building a Primary school.  Lord willing, we would like to start construction on a new school which would be an incredible blessing to these people where traditionally they have not much valued education.  If there is going to be a lasting change in their communities we have to help them get education.  So rather than just stand back and wait to see we feel God is asking us to get involved with bringing them strong, Christian education that will even serve to disciple the next generation of Pokot believers.  Honestly, this is the first time I have mentioned this vision of a school to such a broad level of friends and supporters.  We do not even have the funds to do this project yet, but just as the Lord provided for the clinic we know that if this is His will He will also provide the funds for the school.  We have been surveying the interest of the community to see how many children may come and we had a meeting with the community elders to discuss how they saw it best.  They were very positive about the idea and are looking forward to seeing their children trained well in a godly environment.  We have worked with another local missionary who is an engineer and based on some initial plans we expect the cost of the project to be around $125,000.  So let's begin praying and trust in the Lord's timing.  If the Lord would lead you to participate in giving a special account will be used through our sending agency of In His Image International.  The website is www.inhisimage.org/international.php  To give to the project press on the give link and you can choose to donate online.  On the form please designate "Kenya Hospital Fund- School"

Here is a picture of the widows and widowers that came to our clinic last month to receive some free food to help them.  We had 86 of them come.  It was a special time to bless them with food but also share with them the good news of Jesus Christ.

Thanks for reading the post and praying with us for the exciting things going on in our ministry down in the valley to the Pokot people.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Sermon of a Missionary Mom

I was asked to speak a couple of times while we were in the States last year.  I am quite shy and get tongue tied quite easily- so I wrote it out.  This is a reflection of our first 2 years in Kenya and hopefully an encouragement to other mothers.

About the time I was 18 years old, the Lord opened my eyes to the world beyond my neighborhood, beyond my city and beyond my country.  Slowly my heart began to dream about being a part of Kingdom work in another part of the world.  My eyes were fixed and doors began to open.  I chose social work as my field of study and had a vision to help the orphans in some small corner of the world.  It was a dream that made my heart soar.  God brought Kyle into my life way back in the 10th grade.  He was this sweet, kind and cute Christian guy.  My first memory of him was when we were first practicing in the Broken Arrow High School marching band.  I was standing all alone on the 40 yard line completely confident I was exactly where I was supposed to be.  Who knew maybe I had been assigned some marching solo.  I remember him walking up to me in his low top Converse and kindly asking me if I needed help.  I politely said "no, I'm all right."  He looked at my coordinates and graciously told me that I should be on the other 40 yard line.  What?  There are two 40 yard lines?  I swiftly went on my way and he saved my major humiliation.  Our paths kept crossing, but it wasn't until he shared his dreams of being a doctor and working overseas and serving the needy that I fell in love.  And that was love at first sight for me.

Kapsowar, Kenya was our dream come true!  We traveled with 3 little boys to our new home-sight unseen.  Although our hearts were filled with anticipation and excitement, we also knew deep down this decison would come at a cost.  And for us the biggest cost was leaving our family and friends behind.  We grieved and felt a big hole in our lives.  Our kids would no longer attend the birthday parties of their cousins, no longer see Grammy and Papa every Sunday at church; they would not be able to attend school with other children that speak their language; not be able to eat Thanksgiving dinner surrounded by every aunt and uncle that loves them dearly; Christmas without seeing Nana's eyes sparkling as she watched them open their presents; no children's church with a craft time and comfy chair to sit in.  These were the big sacrifices for us.  The little ones were life without mac n' cheese and fruit snacks, bathing in dirty bath water before you enter the bath, power outages that last for days leaving them scared to tears in the middle of the night because it was so dark they couldn't see to get to the bathroom.  And the list could go on and on.  But the more important thing to dwell on is the blessing in the sacrifice.  The joy in the suffering.  I can honestly say that more days than not my spirit is content.  I am at peace and feel genuine joy.  There are days when I am tired of being watched, when I cry out for God to provide deep friendship for my family and I.  There are days when I feel intense loneliness and longing to return to my culture, my family, my friends.  these needs keep me on my knees, praying that God would be enough and the rest is just "extra".

And God provides.  My life may look a little different then most physically, but as mom's we have a common ground-our children-our mission field.

We came to Kenya with a family mission Luke 9:2 "And He sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick."

This is a pretty heavy verse and mission especially for a 2 year old.  We looked at the life of Job.  A servant of whom the Lord was greatly pleased with. We looked at how he lived his life for our inspiration.

Job 29: 12-16
"because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him.  The man who was dying blessed me, I made the widow's heart sing.  I put on righteousness as my clothing, justice was my robe and my turban.  I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.  I was father to the needy.  I took up the case of a stranger.  verse 24 says, When I smiled at them they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them.  verse 25 I was like one how comforts mourners".

These are all amazing, yet simple ways we can "preach" the kingdom of God and "heal" the sick.

Daily we are facing the poor.  They knock on my door asking for help.  I buy their lemons, avocados and pumpkins.  Not asking for their price, but paying what the Lord thinks these items are worth.  Paying what this man or woman needs in order to get his "daily bread".

Education is not a right in Kenya after the 8th grade.  There are many children without fathers to provide for them.  We often feel the Lord prompting us to pay school fees for a child whose father abandoned them.

v. 13  Working at the hospital gives us ample time to be around those that are dying.  It's not just Kyle, but all of us.  We have brought clothes for warmth, toys for fun, food for hunger and prayers for peace.  If our family can provide any of these things in the Name of Jesus during someone's last days.  We have brought "healing".  It may seem small, but we feel the Lord smiles upon it.
v. 13 "making the widows heart sing"
We have a friend, Jane, she is blind.  She is a mom and she is a widow.  She provides for her family by knitting sweaters for the local schools uniform requirements.  As me how she does it-I don't know, but it is only the gift of God has provided.  She hugs the children and in a week they have a perfectly fitted sweater.  Her machine for knitting broke, unknown to us.  We received a call one night.  She told us that she had nothing to feed her family for dinner.  And no money to buy anything.  Sometimes I think I have "nothing" to cook for dinner, but it has never been that literal.  I couldn't imagine her heartache, her fear, what she felt.  The panic of knowing your child will go to bed hungry and wake up and go to school hungry the next day.  I thought to myself-there is something small we can do about this!  We got in our pantry rummaged through our overflowing pantry and fridge.  Found food for their dinner-food to fill their bellies.  I am pretty sure I heard a widow's heart sing that night.  In Matthew 25:35 it says, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you have me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.  I needed clothes and you clothed me.  I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."  v. 40 goes on to say, "Jesus will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

In Job 29:24 it says, "When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them."
I have 2 children who provide this in abundance.  Isaac will run full force to give a smile and hug to almost anyone.  We often have doctors stop by weary from a long and grueling day just to get one of Isaac's hugs.  It brings healing to a tired soul.  Ariella's entire body smiles when she smiles.  Her face radiates light and shines Jesus to all those around her.  This act should not be underestimated or undervalued.  It is priceless and brings healing.

v. 25 says "I was like one who comforts mourners"
The older 2 boys have a little "mission" of their own-to provide "fun and friendship" to the kids in the hospital.  Our hospital is funny.  You can't leave until you pay your bill. Even if you are better.  Your trapped until the bill is paid.  In essence you are a prisoner.  For kids being cooped up is like jail.  Often we find kids there for months at a time.  Their parents have left to try and find money for their bill leaving them all alone.  There was one boy in particular that Hudson was drawn to.  He told me that he couldn't walk home without stopping by to say "hello" or color a picture with him.  The Lord tugged on his heart and he chose not to ignore it.  Hudson's visit was the highlight to this boy, to this "mourner" who was grieving his freedom, his family.  You will often find Hudson walking up to the pediatric ward with a backpack full of fun-stickers, bubbles, colors -you name it.  He is ready to bring joy to someone's day.  There was a boy named Titus.  Titus was 3, just like Jude was 3.  Titus had fallen into the cooking fire and was severely burned.  We met Titus on our way home from church when we stopped by to say "hi".  Jude noticed him crying in pain.  He was trapped in traction.  It was like a cage surrounding him.  He was unable to move.  Jude was drawn to him.  We went home and made him a beaded necklace and tied a shiny turtle on it.  We went back to hang it about Titus' head.  We instantly heard him stop crying!  We prayed for him.  Jude always remembered to pray for him every night before bed.  His prayer went something like this, "please help the boy, Titus, who's 3 like me and who got burned really bad feel better really soon."

I think what I am trying to encourage you with is that God cares about the little things.  Because the little things are big things to God.  And the "little things" - our children are God's gift to us as moms.  They have so much to offer this world if only we give them the opportunity to shine.  If we give them wings to soar.  If we allow them to bring "healing" to this hurting world.  A world desperate for band aids, for beaded necklaces with shiny turtles, for bubbles, for smiles that radiate the Kingdom of Jesus-the light of His glory.  Love the "little"years.  Seize every moment of them.  God treasures them and longs to use them in ways our minds cannot fathom.  This is why despite what the world would see as sacrifice or suffering- I see joy, I feel content.  Each of our days is full of mission-full of purpose.  And for this I humbly fall on my knees and say "Thank You, Lord!" 

Let me leave you from a quote from a blog I read a long time ago.
"We've chosen this life of changing diapers, watching our waistline expand to accommodate a growing nugget, and being on the never ending rotation of meals and baths.  Because the truth is we've been entrusted to royalty, every parent has been.  We've got babies to raise up so that when their little feet hit the ground, the enemy's heart trembles with fear.  They're awake and they're coming.  They're coming to lay hands on the sick and see them healed.  They're coming to shake the kingdom of darkness and forever change the world around them.  And it begins in a diaper gripping sippy cup."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hello all,
In keeping with tradition we have made a summary slideshow of the year, 2012.  Hope you enjoy!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Community Work

 I thought I might share some pictures and stories from some of the community work we have been doing.  We praise God for the opportunities He has given us to serve in the villages surrounding Kapsowar and in the valley among the Pokot people.  It has been a lot of fun and we hope that through it all the Lord is using this work to spread the gospel. 

This is Hudson and I in front of the new Pokot Clinic that we constructing.  It will be the first Health Center in that area and we hope it will greatly serve the physical and spiritual needs of that community. 
Hudson and Jude came with me to help out at one of our mobile clinics that we are doing there until we can get it fully operational hopefully sometime early next year. 
This was our pre-clinic message where I shared the gospel.  Still a lot of Pokot that are not believers and in many ways they are still quite resistant to the gospel.  Tribalism and rituals predominate.  The men have multiple wives and the women undergo female circumcision and start getting married very early sometimes as early as age 12. 
This old grandma was blind from Trachoma.  She is the mother of Philip a recent convert to Christianity and my Chairman for the Pokot Clinic Building Committee. 
Hudson, Jude and a visitor named Carla helped to bathe all the children that came to our clinic.  Many of them were quite dirty so I'm sure it was a treat and some were also not so happy about it:) 
The boys also helped out in our pharmacy and overall did an incredible job as my little helpers.
Here are some Pokot women getting some of the free food that we were able to bring to them.
The patients all went through a triage area and then came to see me to get treatment.  Clara is a Pokot Nursing Student that we are helping and she would like to come work at the clinic when she is finished. 
After the clinic we all relaxed and had a good time.  The boys had some Peanut Butter sandwiches since I couldn't get them to eat much of the goat that was served to us at each meal. 
We had fun playing a little "football"
This is how we/they cook our meals, over an open fire.  That is a big pot of boiled goat meat.  No I was not in charge.   They can pick up those hot pots with their bare hands no problem.  Not me. 
This is the site for the new staff house that we are going to start building this week.
Hudson did a great job teaching the kids at Sunday School.
He taught them on the wise man that built his house upon the rock.
They gave out suckers to kids that answered questions correctly... and then to everyone.
They were a big hit with all the kids except some of them need a little extra help getting off the wrappers.

I got to preach at the church that was planted there by the Kenyan Missionary that I work with.  It is a simple church with iron sheet walls.  I love the Pokot believers.  Many of them have incredible testimonies.  Mostly, they are first generation Christians and facing a lot of stress from their tribe.  We need to be praying for them and for the growth of the church. 

Next to our work in villages around Kapsowar.  We started a Community Health Program where we are going twice a week into nearby villages and teaching the children in the schools and then doing talks among the community members and a medical clinic for them.  My big topics for them are about the dangers of teenage pregnancy and alcohol.  We include the good news of the gospel in our talks and have great hopes to see God transform our communities. 

Talking to students at a local school.

We have probably had the opportunity to talk to over 2000 students at this point and we want to keep it going so we reach most of the schools around us and return every year.  What a tremendous opportunity I feel this will be to impact the next generation. 
This is a group of High School girls that we spoke to at a school and during this picture they were all praying a prayer to commit their lives to Christ and to sexual purity.  It was great!
This was a community meeting and the man on the left was giving a testimony of how God freed him from the grips of alcohol and had given him new life.  Praise the Lord!
This was our first community trip held at our local church that we attend, Ngongoroi.  They have a small "nursery" school there.  It was a lot of fun and we got to preach to the community members that came as well. 
Thanks for your prayers and support for our ministry.  We really appreciate each one of you!
Happy Holidays!

Friday, September 7, 2012

In a land far, far away!

Once upon a time, in a Kingdom far, far away there lived a King.  He was busy fashioning together a boy and a girl.  He had many big dreams for them.  He proudly sent them off to a new land. His heart was filled with many hopes for the pair.  The girl and the boy grew.  They grew in their love for their Creator and grew in their love for the people that surrounded them. The boy was faithful and hard working.  He was given many wonderful gifts from the Creator that he determined to use to bring Him honor.  The girl was tender and felt a stirring in her heart that went beyond the country that surrounded her.  The King crossed their paths, they fell in love and were married.  He gave them a vision for a territory unseen by their eyes.  He only asked that they trust Him each step of the way.  In the 3rd year of their marriage, the King gave them their first knight.  He proved to be loyal and obedient.  He was always willing to stand firmly for justice and mercy.  2 years later, the 2nd knight joined their family.  He was passionate and full of love and life.  He fiercely fought for what he believed in.  His heart was set on the battles he felt worthy to fight.  Soon after the 3rd knight entered their family.  He brought joy and laughter like they had never known.  He was faithful and pure.  He loved, and sang and danced with great abandon.  The King gave them their assignment and told them it was time to "go".  They set off into a territory He had prepared in advance for them. It proved to be all they had been dreaming of.  A life filled with sharing the Hope and Truth they clung to with everything in them.  It was a life spent serving a people that the King desperately loved.  It was apparent that the Creator had prepared each one with special gifts to give this people.  Just when they thought life couldn't get any better-a daughter entered their family.  Her family diligently prayed for her to be as strong as a lioness but filled with grace as she made her place in this world.  They prayed her life would bring 2 cultures together in unity.  They prayed that she would bring new beauty into their world.  The prayers were answered.  Those from home were longing to meet this copper haired treasure. So they set off to their homeland.  Families were joyfully reunited and memories were made.  But the family could not quench the longing in their hearts to return to the land that the King had prepared for them.  So they set off once again on their long, long journey.  The people received them warmly with great love and generosity.  It was if they were coming home again.  So their story continues.  The year began with fantastic birthday celebrations.

Treacherous journeys were made to visit friends they had missed dearly.  Only to tell of the King's faithfulness to protect them.  The story continued after 30 of the strongest men in the village came to display all of their strength to pull the family's vehicle to safety.  The family were awestruck by the kindness and love that was so generously given.

The days of the knights are filled with conquering the world one villain at a time.

But not without injury.

The knights all faithfully study reading, writing and arithmetic oh and history, geography, science and Bible.  They know this will help them to lead the next generation into many great new territories.

When the copper haired girl grows weary of battling with the knights she often retreats to the pink abyss as she thinks upon all things lovely, like flowers and butterflies and beautiful birds.

There have been rainstorms and power outages that have created memories to last a lifetime.

The family have encountered beasts that have become our friends as well.

 Days are filled with the fervent and faithful prayers for clinics and wells.  Intercessions for children that have been tragically injured by swarms of bees and blazing fires.  All have been answered.  Some have brought the family tears of joy.  Others have brought them heartache unfathomable.

The family is happy to be back in this precious land they call home.  Each day brings new adventure and hope as they follow the King who has faithfully provided for them every step of the way.