Tuesday, 22 December 2009
Monday, 14 December 2009
We bought the land with retirement money (doesn't everyone want to retire to a village in Kenya?) You can't take it with you and it is an investment in The Kingdom of God!! We have challenged the villagers to invest in the farm. We have told them that we have done our part with the money and they can do their part with their time.
Fortunately Hesbone knows something about farming as he has been doing it on the church property for a couple of years. So he will know what kind of hybrid seed to buy for the maize and beans, and will know about the fertilizer, and when to plow and all of that stuff. John's talking about digging a well or piping water down from the church well. Oh my!
More news later!
John & Marty
Monday, 30 November 2009
A view of the land from the church! One of John's prerequisites was that the land be near the church! It is!
Sunday, 25 October 2009
If you remember, we told you about a widow named Margaret, whose house was in deplorable conditions - an understatement (see blog dated September 25). We had spent nearly all of the money we had been given for houses for two other widows. This was before any of us had become aware of Margaret's plight. Upon finding out about her dilema some good friends got in touch with us wanting to provide a roof for a new house for Margaret, and within a week and a half work began on the house because the things that required finances - the roof, a door, nails and experienced carpenters - became available.
We went to Korwenje - the village where she lives - to watch the building process. The whole cell came out. In fact two cells came out – one from several kilometers away. The women fixed the local staple (beans and maize) and chai (tea mixed with milk) and mandazi (a fried dough - very tasty). There were about 5 men who were hired as carpenters - they are part of a group that provides this service for people. The rest were members from the two cells. It was a big party - a great celebration. What a neat thing it was! We got there as about 3/4 of the frame was up. Some of the uprights were provided by the cells, the sapplings came from the trees from the uprights and also trees on Margaret's land. We watched them put up the trusses and the saplings, which go horizontally so that the mud can be put in, and then put the roof on. The men dug up the ground near the new house - they dug and dug with something like a pick (called a kwer). Then suddenly onto the site came half a dozen donkeys, each laden with several 20 litre containers of water. These were dumped into barrels while the donkeys grazed. Then off they went to fetch more water. The water source is a great distance away and the place is up in the hills, so the only way to get the water there was by donkey! You could hear them braying as they came near the site. Then the men mixed the mud – stomping in it and stirring it with their feet. They really seemed to enjoy it. (Marty thinks this is in the DNA of all boys/men – stomping in puddles and mud.) The women began singing and the men deposited the mud at the base of the walls and everyone began making big mud balls and putting them into the spaces in the walls. Marty could hardly wait to get her hands into the mud and slap some of it into the walls. What great fun! (Hers is the big blue backside on the right in the photo! We ladies were all wearing our lesos.)
The house is so much bigger than what Margaret had "lived" in and has 2 rooms - the other only had one. This old widow was rather beside herself. She told the pastor that if God could take her out of the house she was in and give her a brand new house she surely wanted to worship him and wanted to come to church (she had not been before). Now, we hadn't seen her smile - yet! Then Hesbone, Violet, John and Marty went to the car to get the mattress, and sugar and bread we had bought her for a gift. (The bed she was sleeping on was indescribable). We got her photo and she was really smiling. We found out that she kept asking one of the cell group members (the only other person in the church with a vehicle) if that mattress was hers. He said it was. She asked again if it was her mattress. He assured her it was. She then told him that if he didn't take her to church on Sunday, when he got home she would beat him. As we were leaving they were all singing, clapping and dancing in celebration of the erection of the house. This is a very rural, rather remote place, but all of the people in the area became aware of what was going on! Real evangelism!! We are over the moon!
We went back the next week and saw the finished product; finished, that is, in terms of the house being up and mud in all the orifices. The mud must now cure – it has to be thoroughly dry before the “plaster” coating can be applied. That is usually the woman’s job, but due to her age and frailty someone will do it for her – perhaps some cell members. She was a changed woman when we returned. She kept giving out little yelps and praising God and thanking us over and over. Wow! Once again we reap the benefits of sharing the joy of the blessings that so many other people have made possible by their contributions.
Above: Margaret's bed & "wall" behind it! Yes - that is the outdoors that you see! She lived in this!
Left: Margaret in front of house with mattress, and food.
Below: One week later inside living room. This house is, for Margaret, a palace. She never dreamed of a home like this!
We are told that this woman probably wouldn't have lived much longer; life was without hope. Not only that, but she was exposed to the elements - rain and cold in the hills. This new house has literally made the difference between life and death. Thank you all so very much!
Left: The floors will be finished after the walls are made smooth with another mud mixture - like plaster. The floors will be packed and then combed with aloe-vera leaves to make a design.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Saturday, 3 October 2009
COW SHED KITCHEN: One weekday when we were working at the church the ladies cooked a meal for us. They cooked it in a couple of locations. One kitchen where it was being cooked on an open fire was a little building that serves as a shed for the calf as well. Not an uncommon thing to do. (It was also a temporary goat shed on the 3rd. of Oct.) The ladies have told Marty they will teach her how to make fire and "push" it. The village women prefer the open wood fire with their pot sitting on three stones, to the little charcoal burners- it is quicker. It is amazing what they can cook on those fires! BTW little girls know how make and cook on those fires by the time they are 7.
LESOS (OR KANGAS) A leso (or kanga) is a large rectangle of very colourful printed fabric. It will often have a Kiswahili proverb printed on it. It is about 5 feet X 40 inches. Women usually wrap them around themselves over top of their dresses - it works like an apron. However, they are also used to tie their children to their backs (see photo), to sit on if one needs to sit on the ground or floor, to wipe the perspiration off one's face after a hard walk, or even to wipe ones hands or the baby's face, or to wrap parcels in to carry on ones head. As we found out, they can also be a lead for a goat! They are wonderful, multi-purpose pieces of clothing. Marty has several (of course)!
Well - it is a long blog this time, but we hope you enjoyed it all.
Many, many blessings!
Friday, 25 September 2009
Last year John spent much of our time here teaching church and cell leadership how true cells should operate. He was under a real handicap in that he taught in English, with no translator most of the time, and we weren’t certain how much they REALLY understood – even though they said they did. By what we can see this year the learning curve is pretty big. Additionally two of the prospective elders are no longer part of the church, leaving a leadership gap. However, new on staff is Kennedy, the assistant pastor, recently graduated from Bible school. He has taken up the reins and a big chunk of responsibility for this rapidly developing church. (Kennedy the Pastor to the right)
The cell groups in the village are all made up of very poor people, a large percentage of whom are widows. The one in Kisumutown is made up of professional people - the only one of its kind (so far). The Kisumu group periodically collects money for outreach and recently came up with a plan whereby they would visit needy people in the village. They were going to distribute some aid and also going to a house where a man was said to have "jiggers" - a flea type of insect that especially attacks the legs. They were taking medicine to treat his skin (one of the cell group members is a retired nurse) also exterminating equipment/spray to get rid of the jiggers in his house (a difficult task in a house with a dirt floor). As it turned out, the man doesn't have jiggers - he has leprosy!!! Back to the drawing board! On Sept. 18 the cell bought him a mattress (he was sleeping on a pile of rags on the floor) a blanket and some sheets – they were delivered that afternoon. There is also a plan for having his leprosy treated. More about him below.
ALL CHRISTIANS ARE MINISTERS: The villagers have never been part of a church that teaches and trains its members to be ministers and servants of one another and to the world. This is one of the core values of RCC and it is being imparted slowly and steadily to the church.
John has recently taught them about being servants and ministers based on Ephesians 4:11 . It has been being taught to them in different ways for at least 18 months. However he took it a step further and gave a brilliant message on practical body ministry that involves NO MONEY (something they don’t have, or is very limited) but requires their time and the use of their gifts. It was really great and struck home – we are certain.
Another core value being taught is that they do not have to depend upon and expect the West and people from outside the village to meet their needs – but to be involved in meeting their own needs, and learning to depend upon the Lord to provide for them in any way and through whom He wishes. Here in RCC these values are being taught by Kenyans to Kenyans and merely being re-enforced by the wazungu (white people). This concept requires a paradigm shift!
We also try to get across to them that all people from the West are not rich. This is a common misconception amongst Africans. It always brings a rather startled reaction from them when we tell them that there are poor people and street children/people in America and England. They have a hard time grasping that there are widows with very little to get by on in the West, but that some of them give us from what little they have to help the widows in Kadawa. We try to go into a little detail of how and where we get the money that is used to help them.
THE LEPER: Subsequent to the visit by the Kisumu cell group, the man with leprosy came to at church in Magwar (the first church plant of RCC- it meets outdoors) and told about the people who came to his house to help him and how thankful he was. It was very touching - even in the translation. We saw leprosy for the first time. The man had on sandals and had only 1/2 his toes. He had all 10 of them as far as we could tell, but only half a toe each! He is a Kenyan, but his toes were very nearly white and very thick and crusty. Staggering! We have no still photos as none of us had our cameras. Probably just as well!
THE WIDOW AT ANTIOCH: We went to a relatively new cell group (named Antioch) in another village, several miles away. Pastor Hesbone had visited the house when they expressed interest in getting involved in RCC; this was only the second time he went. They have not had the advantage of the "Everyone is a Minister" teaching and basic cell-life principles. Pastor Kennedy has been assigned to that cell and another one about 4 miles away; the young pastor has a big job ahead of him. This time here was a widow there, named Margaret, who is ONE YEAR OLDER than Marty, but looks 20 years older. She is seriously in need of a new house, and Hesbone was not aware of the situation. This widow is in desperate straights and needs help big time. The two pastors did some explaining to the group about some simple basics on caring for each other, and now a plan is formulating to give hands-on training to this group in terms of assisting the widow. It is an ideal situation for training in body ministry and also on not expecting the mother church to do the job - although the people in the mother church will also become involved to an extent. We are excited about the expected outcome. A plus in this situation is that she has land with trees on it, so she will be able to supply the uprights and the saplings for the frame work for the mud. The only cash outlay will be for the tin roof, nails and a carpenter. Up until now, all the money for houses has come from us through supporters and Marty's women's fund; however, we have already designated our "housing" money, or we would build her one. See Margaret below - that's her "house". She has put on her best dress for the occasion of our visit - as the ladies do for any special event. Most likely, the next time we see her she will have on the same dress. But if we had paid a surprise visit to her she would not have been dressed that way - but more likely in tatters.
The Cost for tin has sky-rocketed and the cost of a house - one where the uprights, roof frame and tin sheeting has to be bought - has nearly doubled in two years. It does vary according size and if the widow can contribute any materials. The global economy's tentacles reach everywhere!
ANOTHER CELL - ANOTHER CHICKEN STORY: After we visited Antioch we went to Samaria. This cell group greeted us in the traditional style for that area. Most of them were outside awaiting us and began to sing and dance a welcome ceremony, after a bit they turned and led us in singing and dancing all the way into the house and then once inside continued the ceremony. It was awesome! They did the same when we left. This time Marty joined in with them - amidst much pleased laughter.
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
EXTREME EVANGELISM The Restoration Community Church (RCC) in Kadawa has a large youth group and large children’s group. Gia Minardi (the young woman who joined us for two weeks) works with the young people of her church in California, often taking them to the streets to ask God to give them opportunities to meet people that He wants to show His personal love. Gia met with the young leaders amongst the RCC youth and several others of the youth group for a day and taught them. She taught them to understand how God wants to use them individually and personally as His ministers, and that they can and do hear God. She trained them in how to go out and have confidence that they will be guided by the Lord to share God’s love. It was something these youngsters had never done – or thought of. The night of the training day, a Friday, was spent in all night prayer. Then the next day, Saturday, was market day and these kids – 8 groups of 4 per group – walked from the church to the market in the afternoon (about 2 ½ miles). The road to the market is full of people coming and going to market, and the market is packed with people. These kids asked the Lord to show them who He wanted to reveal His love to, and then would stop and tell the people how much God and Jesus loves them. As the Holy Spirit directed they would lay hands on sick people and pray for their healing, or pray prophetically for them or their families. They would tell them how God is intensely in love with them and cares for them. Gia walked with them and moved among them and she was “over the moon” at their enthusiasm, willingness and boldness. During those few hours several people accepted Christ as their Saviour. Many were touch by His personal love for them. It was amazing how open the villagers on the road and in the market were to receiving these words of God’s genuine, personal love for them from these kids.
VISITING WIDOWS We have been visiting many widows – some absolutely destitute! We have visited many in previous years, but these last two weeks have taken us into some situations that were beyond what we could have thought or imagined. We also visited one widower who is old and just doesn’t really know how to care for himself. The culture is such that the women do all of the food preparation and cooking – so this man is relatively helpless. He and at one or two of the older widows we visited don’t even have a mat to sleep on. We will be purchasing three mattresses to help. One widow – Lorna, who is 80+ years – appears to have cataracts. Few people in the village – especially the older ones – know when they were born. There is no record kept, and birthdays are not celebrated. Lorna somehow manages to get to market every week - walking!
CAT Scan One older widow – Florence – has recently become paralyzed on one side, and there is much swelling of her limbs on that side. It has been suggested that she have a CAT scan or an MRI in an attempt to diagnose her situation. There is no MRI equipment in Kisumu, but there is a CAT scan machine. We will use money that has been given us to get the scan done within a few days.
EYE CLINICS On Sunday we went to minister at the daughter church in Magwar, some 7 kilometers away. They meet outdoors in a family compound under a makeshift awning. The children all go inside of a house for Sunday school. When we go places like that people want us to pray specifically and individually for them at the end of the meeting. One mother brought her son who can only barely see. To let light into his eyes gives him a lot of pain.
Then on Monday we went back to Magwar to walk and pray on the land there where they will construct a church building (eventually). When we were finished, the man who had donated the land for the church building asked us to come pray for his grandson who has eye problems. This little boy is 9 and has not been able to see properly for several years. He has never gone to school because he can't see properly.
Having prayed for these little boys and for Lorna, the widow, we also want to take what natural action we can. So arrangements are being made to take the three of them into Kisumu to an eye specialist to see what he has to say and if there is anything we can do to help them.
There have been many tears shed the last two weeks. It is pretty hard on us all to see this kind of sickness and poverty. RCC does not sit idly by but is continually involved in helping their people and folks in the community that are not part of the church. The need can be overwhelming! It has been really intense. HARD ON US!! How must it be for the people who are suffering?!
You know, for years all of us have seen this kind of stuff in photos, on TV, etc. It is one thing to see it like that and quite another to be part of it.
We will be keeping in touch again pretty soon.