Saturday, 6 September 2014

THE LAST HARVEST, THE NEXT CROP & DRESSES

THE HARVEST
This harvest was abundant.  When we arrived at the Widows' Farm in June the maize crop was very green, very tall and many of the stalks had two and some even three ears on them.  Many people told us that no crops in the village compared to ours; they were not as tall or fruitful.  

With the help of many people, including some men, the large field was harvested in one day.  Harvesting involves removing the ears, husking them and carrying them to a central place for drying.  All of this is done manually.  The smaller field was harvested a day or two later in a few hours.  Many of the ears were massive - huge!


Harvesting the Maize
Margaret (about 80 yrs, 4'5")
She's so cute and can out-lift some men!


MULTIPLICATION
When the maize was dry enough to process it was spread out over a large area in front of the farmworker's house/storage barn. We are careful not to exaggerate or quickly assign the supernatural to things;  however, when we were "shelling" the maize - stripping the kernels off the cobs - as we were loading large amounts of maize into the hopper of the sheller we noticed and eventually commented on the fact that the mass of the maize that was spread out appeared not to be diminishing.  No matter how much we were loading into the hopper the quantity of the rest of the maize was not going down.  


The Group that Came to Harvest the Last Crop
  The last time we harvested we filled five 210 liter tubs full of processed kernels of maize. This time we had to buy FIVE MORE to contain the harvest.  Wahoo!       
 Margaret and Sarah Gleaning the Cobs.  It takes several days to dry and process the maize.  Each day it must be spread out in the morning to dry and then brought back in at night; this goes on for about 4 days before we can "shell" it - which took a couple of days this time.  There are 3 or 4 faithful ladies who come help with this part.  We give them many of the cobs to take home.  It is a treasure to them, for they can use them for fire wood.                                                 
                                                                                        
                                                            Margaret Taking Cobs Home for Fire Wood   

PLANTING THE NEXT CROP                                                                 
Johnfred has told us that a very large group of ladies came out to plant the next crop of maize.  There were so many that it only took one day to plant about 1 1/2 acres.  This group were beneficiaries of new dresses that were made possible through generous donations of many of you folks.  They said they wanted to show their appreciation by helping with the harrowing and planting.  

NEW DRESSES
We went to take photos of some of the ladies and their dresses when they went for fittings. They were so happy and several of them posed for the camera.  We told them we would be sending some of their photos in our newsletter.  We all had great fun!!



Blessings and Much Love to You All,

John and Marty







                                                                                      










Saturday, 2 August 2014

I ONCE WAS BLIND BUT NOW I SEE

ANJELINE'S MIRACLE
Typical path in remote areas
We are asking you to do something as you read this newsletter.  First, we'll lay a foundational background: Johnfred, John and Marty went to visit Angeline, a 77-year-old destitute widow who lives very far back in the bush in a remote, rocky, hilly area. 
Johnfred assisting John on a steep, rocky path

It is an area that is extremely poverty ridden.  The people belonging to the church there are among the poorest of the poor.  Angeline's pastor, Charles, knows her, but the rest of us had never met her nor knew anything about her.  We found her living in a 6X10 single-room mud hut; very small, but it seemed relatively new. 
Charles explained to us that her house had totally collapsed, and when they came to know her they discovered she was living in the open air under a tree - sleeping there at night.  So that small church pooled their resources, gave sacrificially, and built her the best they could afford.  It has one window and a door, and she is dry and protected, unless there is a driving rain that blows under the roof.

One end of the house - you can see light at the other end!
 Now, for you to get a grasp of God's brilliant love, power and provision we ask that you put yourself in Angeline's place - maybe it's a bit of role playing - use your God-given imagination and become Angeline for a few minutes.

You are sitting alone on your bed (that goes from wall to wall and has a worn out 2-inch piece of foam for a mattress) in your living-room/bedroom when your pastor and three strangers arrive.  You know they are coming, but not why.  You have been having trouble with your eyes for a while, but about three weeks ago you went blind - you can see some light, but nothing else.  You hold your hands out and ask that the people come and greet you because you can't see to go to them.  You tell them that God gave you a dream that some white people were coming to see you, so you aren't surprised by the visit of these people from a foreign land.  They prayed for you and your house and began to talk with you.  You answer their many, personal questions and talk to them about you life and how your three children died at young ages, and how you became a member of RCC (Restoration Community Church) Korwenje,  and how your cell group built you a house and gave you clothes.  You tell them that you are an intercessor and love to pray, and that God gives you many dreams.  Then something totally unexpected happens  They give you some tealeaves, some milk, a kilo of sugar, a bag of salt, and 2 Kilos of maize flour. In addition, they give you 3 bars of laundry/dishwashing soap, 2 boxes of matches, and a metal scouring pad for your pots to clean the black off of them from the wood fire. These are things are so useful and even luxurious!  You never could have afforded to buy all of these at once.  Never!  You are praising God and thanking these strangers, when suddenly they tell you that they have a new mattress for your bed.  
 Anjeline on new mattress!  The bed fits from wall to wall!

You can’t see it, but you ask to be taken over so you can feel it and sit on it.  A new mattress!  You never could have dreamed that you would have a real mattress!  And then – one final thing!  They give you a lamp that is powered by the sun.  You will have light at night.  You will no longer have to buy 5 shillings worth of paraffin (kerosene) to put in your tin-can lamp.  You are totally overwhelmed!  You begin to shout, “If God can do this for me He can heal my eyes”!  All the while you are crying tears of joy and praising God!

Before we left, she told us that for years she had been a laughing stock to people.  But she said that when they find out what God had done in her life that day she would no longer be a laughing stock.

As we stepped out of her house to leave, she began singing praises to God at the top of her lungs.  That little house acted like an echo chamber or amplifier, and as we walked away, even at a distance we could hear her singing.  Everyone in the area could hear her singing praises and worshiping her God!

Now here is part of the rest of the story.  Anjeline’s pastor told us that a friend had taken her to a local, village clinic where they said she had severe cataracts. 

Just prior to our visit to Anjeline we received a very generous donation from a supporter, for the purpose of building several houses, but the person said that we could use some for another purpose if a necessary situation arose.  THIS WAS THAT NECESSITY!  What a mighty, awesome God we serve.

 The is door at the left, and see how rain can come in at the top.
Here she is receiving some maize flour.
We did not tell Anjeline that we have resources to take care of cataracts.  We wanted to speak with Violet, Pastor Hesbone’s wife, who makes all the arrangements for eye surgery.  We went to see her.  She knew about Anjeline’s situation from Pastor Charles and thought that she could be seen at the eye clinic that we will be having in the main village at Kadawa on August 9.  When we explained the remoteness of Anjeline’s location and the severity of her blindness Violet told us of a hospital about one hour away that specializes in cataract surgery.  No appointment needed, just walk in, be examined and if surgery is appropriate it will be done immediately.  With a lot of phone calls, and coordination, Violet contacted Sarah, a lovely young woman who makes herself available on a moments notice, and Pastor Charles who, in turn, contacted people who could tell Anjeline to be ready at 8:30 the next morning to go to the hospital.  We called Robert, our driver and the next morning he, Sarah and Pastor Charles went to collect Anjeline.  Not an easy task leading a blind woman through narrow, rocky, hilly paths to the car, which had to be parked quite a distance away.  Once again, a perfect stranger shows up at Anjeline's house, and then explains she has come to take her to see a doctor about her eyes.  How could that possibly happen?  Then Robert took Sarah and Anjeline to the hospital.  This was on a Thursday morning – three days after we had seen Anjeline.  On that very afternoon she had the first eye done and Friday morning the second.  On Saturday morning Sarah returned to the hospital and walked up to a seeing Anjeline.  Her sight has been completely restored!  Hallelujah!  Just try to imagine that – once again putting yourself in Anjeline’s place.  When Sarah went to pick her up at the hospital she asked Anjeline if she knew who she was. Anjeline responded that she didn't know.  So Sarah explained and Anjeline was able to see her Good Samaritan for the first time.  BTW, when Sarah was taking Anjeline back to her house, she told Sarah that the first thing she wanted to see there was her new mattress!

POST OP INSTRUCTIONS
For you medical folks, we want to include some post op instructions that you have most likely never given to anyone.  As one of the most important post op instructions, other than the frequent dosage of drops, Anjeline was instructed to stay away from wood fires and smoke for two weeks; she mustn’t get smoke or ashes in her eyes. That means that she can’t cook for herself, for all cooking is done on an open wood fire.  Now what?  Anjeline couldn’t cook for herself, nor did she have enough food.  Culturally she couldn’t ask people for food, but she could ask them to cook her food for her.  From the widows farm we were able to send, with Pastor Charles, four kilos of maize, several hands of bananas, and two kilos of rice.  We also sent some spices, and more sugar and milk. Additionally, we provided money to make up the difference for two weeks of food.  Her cell group (home group) will take turns cooking for her and tending to her needs while recuperating.  Wahoo!

THE WHOLE AREA IS ABUZZ!
Needless to say, the whole area around where she lives is amazed to be seeing her walking around with no one leading her.  They are likewise aware that all of these wonderful thing s have been done for her by her church!  Anjeline is giving God all of the credit and people are wanting to know more about this Jesus and this God who makes these things happen!

But now – here is the REST of the REST OF THE STORY!  All of the leaders of the RCC churches decide who amongst the churches is in the most need of a new house.  Then they make a list and give to us.  We received that list a few days ago and the second person on the list for a new house is Anjeline!  Because of that generous benefactor we can build 10 houses for desperately needy women. Anjeline will have a reasonable sized house in which to live, and her 6x10 current dwelling will become her kitchen!  She doesn't know that yet!  Once again - put yourself in her place.  Just think of the impact that will have on the area!

We couldn't go see Anjeline after the surgery, so we have no new photo.  When we get one we will post it.


Anjeline before surgery!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

SAVING ROBERT FROM PRISON

GETTING MATERIAL FOR WIDOWS' DRESSES/ SAVING ROBERT FROM PRISON

We have some money available to spend on dresses for some widows.  We found that the ladies really like picking their own material and patterns and having a dress made for them.  In the border town of Busia, Uganda there are many shops that sell fabric at a much lower price than in Kenya.  Violet Odindo (wife of Hesbone Odindo, pastor of Restoration Community Church), Sarah Omondi (a tailoress) and Marty decided that was the place to go for the material.  On Monday, July 14, we had Robert, the driver we use for transportation here, take us.  Before we left John prayed for our safety and protection.  Marty thanked the Lord for our safety and protection as we traveled along the way.

At the border of Busia (Boo see' ah) , Kenya, and Busia, Uganda people can just walk across the border.  The area between the two immigration buildings is called "no-man's land".  The whole area is a beehive of activity, with a lot of hustle and bustle - vendors selling fruits and vegetables, assorted merchandise and even money changers.  We parked the car on the Kenya side and paid the 20 shillings parking fee that was good for as long as we needed to stay (approx. 25 Cents USD or 16 Pence GBP). Then we walked to the border and passed through the Kenya side.  Marty is walking beside Robert and thinking how good it was to have him along to protect us.  As we approached the Uganda-border-immigration -building a policewoman beckoned to Robert and asked him to follow her. We thought he needed to show his I.D. and Marty and Violet proceeded to the window, because Marty, not being a national, had to go through immigration.  Sarah was holding our bags outside and called Marty over to tell her that her phone was ringing.  It was a call from Robert.  We finished our business with immigration, Marty called Robert and he asked her to come right away.  So she went to find him.  She was directed to a small round tin building - went in - and there was Robert in a chair and three or four desks with police officers at them. She asked what was happening and the officer at the desk next to Robert said that Robert couldn't wear his trousers into Uganda.  What???  Robert had some camouflage cut-off trousers/shorts that he had recently purchased.  He had on a khaki-colored T-shirt with a designer logo.  He looked very smart!!!  Marty told the police she would go get him a pair of trousers to change into so he could pass through.  They said no, they had to take him to court because he wasn't allowed to wear camouflage clothing in Uganda.  At this point Violet came into the room and they began to question us about why we were coming to Uganda, and what were we doing with Robert.  Violet explained that we were with a church and that Marty was a missionary and Robert was our driver.  He questioned us about whether the car belonged to the church and what church was it.  We told him and said there was a branch in Kampala, Uganda and offered them the pastors name and number.  They weren't interested.  Then they gave Violet a poster off the wall that explained that  wearing camouflage was illegal, and carried a sentence of 7 years in prison.  They showed us a pile of camouflage clothing they had confiscated.  Violet implored them to let Robert go.  The police told us that Robert had to go to court.  Still thinking that if they understood why we were there they would realize we were helping people and not doing anything wrong that they would let Robert go.  Then they said that they really were supposed to take him to court. Robert was under arrest!  That's why they couldn't just let him change trousers and go - he had broken the law!!!  Then after more talk and evasive answers from the police, they said that since we were doing the work we were, that even though they were to take him to court they would merely fine him and send him back to Kenya.  We thought that was a good deal and asked the price; it was 2000 KES ($25, £16).  Marty asked for a receipt and the officer said something to Violet and she said "Marty, let's go, we have to obey authority" and then when outside said "You shouldn't have asked for a receipt"!  (Marty is trying to figure out how we weren't obeying authority.)  Sarah still had Marty's handbag and when Marty got the money from it for the fine Violet said that she should stay out of there and let Sarah take the money in to pay the fine.  Later on Violet told us that the policeman had said to her - "You women go now, and leave the boy to us"!  Violet, Sarah and Marty passed through the gate into Uganda to shop!  Marty called Robert a few minutes later and he was in his car, back in Kenya!!!  It took Marty - she with the mind like a steel trap - at least  forty-five minutes before she realized that she hadn't paid a fine! She had paid a bribe!!!  Leaving her to ponder what would she have done if she had known up front that they were asking for a bribe.  She is grateful to God that she was naive and slow-witted; thus, not having to feel guilty for paying a bribe and not having to be under the stress of what to do if she knew Robert would go to jail if she didn't bribe them.  It has always been our conviction not to ever pay a bribe!  

While Marty sat outside the shop where Violet and Sarah were picking out the fabric (she couldn't go in with them because the price would have increased considerably) she spent a lot of time praising God for answered prayer, for protecting us and for keeping Robert out of prison.

VIOLET







SARAH
When we passed back into Kenya and found Robert we all began to laugh at what we had been through!  However, Marty did not call John and tell him about it until we were all several miles into Kenya from the border and stopped to eat.  We also noted that rather than Robert protecting us - we protected him!
ROBERT AND THE OFFENDING SHORTS

We got some WONDERFUL material at a genuinely lower rate than we would have paid in Kenya and 34 widows will have tailor-made dresses.  Most likely they will be the first new dresses the ladies ever owned.


That night Marty did research on the law regarding camouflage clothing in Uganda only to find that there is also a law in Kenya against it.  A person not only cannot wear camouflage clothing, they cannot even have it in their suitcases if entering or leaving these countries. The reason is that people could be impersonating a policeman and engage in crimes or terrorism.  They are very, very serious about it.  

We have a list of cultural/travel tips for people coming to Kenya - as of Tuesday it was amended in the "what to wear" section to include not wearing or packing camouflage anything!  ANYTHING!

Bless,

John & Marty

Saturday, 5 July 2014

SPECIAL EDITION

SOME BACKGROUND

  The bible is very clear that we are to take care of widows and orphans; in fact, God has a very special place in His heart for them.  In Kenya there are many, many widows and orphans.  That is especially true in Kadawa, the village where we work.  Children are the next generations; they are the emergent leaders and rulers of the earth.  Many people invest in their lives; especially, in the area of education.  But the Lord put a very special concern on our hearts for older, destitute widows who have no means of support and no one to take care of them.  Our goal is to help give them dignity in their declining years.  We want to help make their lives better in these latter years than they were in the former.

VISITING PROSPECTIVE WOMEN TO ADD TO THE WIDOWS' LIST

     RISPER

     We visited Risper Nyanwanda on July 4.  We knew she was an older widow and we wanted to determine if she met the criteria for being destitute. 

    One of the first questions we asked was if she had any children.  We were not prepared for her reply.  She told us that she had 10 children and that her husband and children had all been murdered!  ---------------------

    Here is the rest of Risper's story:  She returned to Kadawa after being absent for many years.  When she married she moved from Magwar (a section of Kadawa) with her husband to an area of Western Kenya called Mt. Elgon.  They subsequently had 10 children.  They lived in a multi-ethnic (many tribes) area and owned 100 acres of land; they were prosperous farmers. Her sons even owned two tractors.  The main tribal group in the area are the Sabaots - part of the Kalenjin tribe.  Due to past, unresolved injustices by the government concerning land, a rebel militia group, called the SLDF (Sabaot Land Defense Force) , formed to fight the government forces over land issues.  Over time group evolved into a xenophobic organization that, in addition to warring with the government, began indiscriminately attacking civilians who weren't part of their tribe and taking their land from them.  

     In 2006 Risper, her husband and children were in their home having a meal.  Risper went to the kitchen, which was in another area, to get some milk.  While she was in there the SLDF invaded her house and slaughtered her husband and all 10 of her children.  They used crude weapons like machetes and axes and a gun or two.  She escaped through the back of her property, running and walking for a whole day until she came to a village that would take her in, and she remained there.  She could not go back to her home.  She wasn't even able to attend to the burial of her family.

     This  woman, without drama, sat very quietly and told us her story.  We were caught totally off guard, having had no idea of any of this.  Marty was weeping, the woman who was our escort was weeping, Johnfred and John wept.  As we approached her to offer our sorrow we saw her tears.  When we spoke words of condolences to her this woman said "I know that God loves me"! It was a declaration!  We were speechless.  None of us has ever heard of such horror and devastation.  A woman in her prime and well situated in life lost literally everything in one fell swoop.  Even while writing this Marty is fighting tears.  She (We) can't get our heads wrapped around this!

    As we regained our composure we talked to her about her living situation here in Kadawa.  She has been in the place we visited for 6 months.  She lives by herself on the side of a steep hill and somehow is growing some maize and millet around her "house".  There is a stream not too far from her place where she is able to get water.  She earns a few shillings pulling weeds and planting for other people.  We didn't find out who built her shelter, but it is obviously only a temporary place.  It has no windows and is one room with a sheet dividing it so that one side is for sleeping. Johnfred examined the walls and told us that the dirt used for mud is not good for building houses.  The rain is washing the walls away and since it is a flat roof when it rains the water comes through the ventilation space between the roof and top of the walls.  It is so small we don't know how she breathes at night with the door shut.  

     She will now be getting fairly regular distribution of food from the Widows' Farm and we will see that she gets a solar lamp so she has light at night.  All of the benefits associated with the widows' ministry are available to her.  Her name is on the list for a house.                                                                                                                                                                                                
     When we go visit these ladies we always take something they can use but usually won't have.   In her photo she is smiling because she received a kilogram of sugar - she said it had been a long time since she had sugar - some maize flour, some matches, some tea leaves and uht milk, and a stainless steel curly scrubbing pad for her sufurias (aluminum cooking pot - they get really sooty from the wood fire and become hard to clean).  

     These things jolt our perspective on a lot of points. Imagine yourself being thrilled with a bag of sugar, a bag of corn meal and a pot scrubber!



We visited two other widows - a third one wasn't home when we arrived.  But it will take a lot of space to write about the others. There are 9 prospective additions to the widows' list.  We will visit the other six as we go along and so will keep interjecting stories periodically.  

THANK ALL OF YOU WHO MAKE IT POSSIBLE TO MAKE SOME PROVISION FOR THESE DEAR WOMEN!  WE ASK THAT GOD BLESS YOU ABUNDANTLY!!

John & Marty

Saturday, 28 June 2014

THE MEDICAL FUND


In 2012 because of your generosity we were able to hold a 3-day medical clinic in Kadawa. Approximately 800 people were helped from Kadawa and other communities; there were several lives saved - literally!  Out of that initial event a medical fund has been established. Periodically we are able to deposit funds into that account for ongoing needs.  Violet Odindo, who with her husband Hesbone oversees Restoration Community Church in Kadawa and the daughter churches, administers the fund for us.  She is able to determine first-hand the needs for application of the fund and organizes the required treatments.  She is dedicated and committed to the lives of the members of the church and tirelessly ministers to their needs, spirit, soul and body. We want to give you a current update on recent use of that fund.

Mariko's Surgery and Recovery
We reported that thanks to your support our medical fund was able to pay for Mariko's prostate cancer surgery.  It took a long time for it to happen, for his situation was difficult and there was no hospital that would do it.  A few weeks ago he finally had the operation.  Unfortunately, complications set in that required extra measures and a longer stay in the hospital.  This caused the procedure to cost much more than it would have.  The procedure was expensive by Kenyan standards - over $600 (£400).  Can anyone imagine such surgery costing that much in the US or UK?  

Mariko in his finest at church for the occasion!
He came to church three weeks ago to tell everyone of his surgery and gave praise to God for it, and for his healing.  He is an older, well respected gentleman  who contributes a great deal of time and effort to the operation of the church.  They were happy to hear his encouraging story.

Recently we went to his home to interview him personally to ask him to tell us his story in his own words.
Mariko at home!

While trying to find a hospital that would do his surgery he grew steadily worse.  He was finally to the place where whenever he tried to pass his urine the pain was so bad that he would cry.  Ultimately he was in nearly continual severe pain . After tests at two local hospitals and a long search, Violet  found a hospital at some distance from Kisumu that would take care of him. He was admitted and the surgery done, but somehow the drain that was inserted in him malfunctioned and the blood and fluids backed up. It wasn't realized until his stomach was distended. Apparently he was in serious trouble and in danger of dying. His wife, who was able to stay there with him, called Violet & Hesbone and they traveled to pray with her and Mariko.   He told us that the doctors said that they knew he was a Godly man of prayer and that he couldn't die - God wouldn't let him. He required further surgery and other procedures to drain him and cleanse his system of the toxic fluids. As a result he had an extended hospital stay and the healing process was uncharacteristically longer.  He told us a lot of things about "pipes" going in and coming out of him and two tins of blood being drained (that would be 4.5 kilograms - 10 U.S. pints) and 130 liters of "water" being "piped" in to wash him out.  Some of you who have a medical background can probably read between the lines here and sort out the technicalities of what happened to Mariko and the procedures taken. All of this information was from an old man with little education or experience outside of his locality, and translated from Dholuo to English by a young Luo man.  Sometimes things get lost in the translation.  But we wanted to pass it on to you in his words (more or less).



He is looking very well and has recovered nearly entirely.  By profession he is a well digger. He literally sits on the ground and digs a well around himself by hand.  But doctors have told him he can't do that any more.  So he is trying to find a new means of making a living.  (He's pretty old, but determined to work.)  

He asked us more than once to please give his thanks to the persons who made it possible for him to have the surgery.  We can surely attest to the gratefulness of this old gentleman! So, dear friends, thank you, thank you, thank you from Mariko!

And let us say this: Mariko would have perished of prostate cancer, most likely in agony, had it not been for the availability of the hospital fund you have made possible.

Mildred's Illness and Recovery
The same day we visited Mariko we visited his neighbour (that's a relative term in the village) Mildred who also received treatment recently through the medical fund.  On a Friday She began to have a headache on the right side of her forehead. It persisted all one day.  The next day her forehead began to swell and the headache persisted.   She went to a clinic in the village.  They gave her some over-the-counter pain-relief medication.  She took them for a day or two, without any effect.
 By Sunday the the swelling (blisters) increased, the headache was worse and her eye became swollen shut.  She went back to the clinic, who gave her some other local medication. She took it according to instructions, but by Monday the headache was extreme and her eye protruding.  On Tuesday Mildred called Violet to ask if she could help her. Violet arranged for Mildred to go to a hospital in Kisumu, where she was diagnosed with herpes zoster (shingles).  She was given strong antibiotics.  Further medication was prescribed and purchased by Violet.  Mildred is still taking meds, but is nearly at the end of the course.  She has been making a gradual recovery; the blisters are gone and the swelling is gone.  She has occasional, slight headaches and still doesn't see clearly out of the right eye, but we are told that these will clear up.


MANY, MANY, BOUNTIFUL BLESSINGS TO YOU ALL!