I'll be honest. This trip didn't start well. First, I've been going though a bit of a spiritual valley lately, and while you would think the prospect of going on a mission trip to see children and friends that I love would put me in the right frame of mind and spirit, something just didn't feel right and it really bothered me. The situation wasn't helped by a few traveling inconveniences, such as being told when I checked in at the airport that I wouldn't be able to get on the flight because my Kenyan visa had not been approved, or finding out when I arrived in Kenya after 24 hours of traveling that my two checked bags did not make it, or the reaction I had to my anti-malarial medication. But, God has been applying the electric paddles to my heart the past two days, and the old ticker is starting to beat again. I think the first jolt was when a five year old girl named Eunice who just came to the Centre a few months ago shook my hand to meet me and then just wouldn't let go. and slid in beside me The next jolt came when Eunice's three year old sister named Abigail was giggling, hugging Andrew Mukumbu's neck, calling him "daddy", and saying "I love you, too" back to him. And, today, my heart was lifted by watching the sheer joy in the children's eyes, as they got a rare treat to go swimming. There's a song by Phillips, Craig & Dean called "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again that I've listened to a lot lately,. The Chorus goes: "Tell your heart to beat again. Close your eyes and breathe it in. Let the shadows fall away, step into the dawn of grace. Yesterday's a closing door. You don't live there anymore. So, say goodbye to where you've been and tell your heart to beat again.." I can't say I'm ready to be discharged from the recovery room, but I can feel that heart beating, and that heartbeat is what gives me hope.
"A picture is not always worth a thousand words. You can take a picture of Mount Rushmore from the right perspective and have a pretty good idea of what it's really like. But you can take as many pictures as you want of what is happening here and never truly understand the reality of this place without experiencing it for yourself. Just had a thought - it's like reading about God but you can't truly know Him until you experience Him which I am definitely doing this week - taste and see that the Lord is good."
By Pete Houk, on his first mission trip to Kenya with Huruma.
Watching this video from our mission trip last year has really made me look forward to going back to Kenya next month!
This is Joseph and Joseph. Joseph (the one with the cap) just graduated from Moffett Bible College. The other Joseph is studying microfinance at Kenyatta University. There is actually another Joseph who is still in high school and is a close friend of these two. (Pictured underneath with me). Each of them are among the finest young men I could ever hope to meet. They are all wonderful leaders in their own way. Joseph (the Moffett graduate) preaches and leads worship. The other Joseph (holding the Moffett Joseph) is thoughtful, introspective and inquisitive. And, the third Joseph (shown with me below), is also a leader, plays the piano and drums and is a laughing, sensitive young man who seems to be always singing. These three are a shining example of how God is moving in a mighty way at the Bethel Children's Centre.
We just received an email update from Andrew Mukumbu with great news on several subjects from the Bethel Children's Centre that brightened my day, and so I just had to share: "The week has been good so far, though very busy. All the kids have reported to school, and we have about 4 more children who have joined the centre. We praise God that we can be able to serve them. It's just a blessing.
The construction is on course and maybe by next week we will start the roofing work. I am sending some photos on that, plus some of the farming project and the feeding of the kids from the farm produce."
All of this is such a blessing, and we hope to have more news soon!
We are pleased to report, because of the generosity of our supporters, construction has begun for a second level of one of the buildings at the Bethel Children's Centre. To recap, Kenya has had significant flooding in the last months. Leaks have appeared in many of the roofs of the buildings and have needed to be repaired. In addition, the orphanage is currently at capacity so no space is available for house parents to live at the Centre. We are so encouraged by your generosity, and that Huruma has been able to fund the first stage of construction for a second level of one of the buildings. We are very excited about this development, and we are so very thankful for your support. Without a doubt, there is more work to be done, but this is a very good start, and for that, we are truly blessed. Stay tuned for more exciting news!
I like order in my life. It's what helps me in my job. But, sometimes, a little disruption can be a good thing. Many times, I look at photos, like this one from a previous trip to Kenya, and they make me smile. But, sometimes, like tonight, a photo like this makes me a little sad. I love these children and miss them so very much. It's very hard to be half a world away from them. For His reason, God has ordained me to be here, and for them to be on the other side of the planet. Five years ago, I would not have imagined that my heart would be captured by these children. But, here I am. A heart brimming with joy sometimes, but sometimes torn in two. And I wouldn't trade it for anything. Have you ever wondered if you can make a difference in this world? You can. And, it's easy... or it's very, very hard. Join us. You can make a financial contribution, which would be used, gratefully, for the benefit of these children. But, if you want to experience a wonderful disruption, come with us. We have not settled on exact dates for 2016, but dates in April or August are likely, because that's when our friends are on school break. The place we stay is secure and comfortable. The experience is indescribable. If you have an interest in going, let us know, and stay tuned for more...
Meet the two newest members of the family at the Bethel Children's Centre, Abigail (2 years old) and Grace (7 years old). Andrew and Agnes have never taken in a child as young as Abigail, and this will be a real challenge, so your prayers would be greatly appreciated.
That's the question that came into my mind tonight while reflecting on the past few days in Kenya. I never thought four years ago that my heart would be stolen by these children and these loving servants here who look after them, love them and teach them. Who am I to be given the gift to see and feel this kind of love in a place where I never expected to be? There's a line in the song "Who Am I?" by Casting Crowns that says:
"Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart."
Every time I come here, I'm amazed at how my hard, frozen, wandering heart can be melted yet again. I've done nothing to deserve this gift. Who am I indeed.
The children ate a traditional Christmas meal of nnyama choma, which is roasted goat, and chapati, which is a type of flatbread that is cooked in a pan. They were also able to have soft drinks, which is a rare treat.
It has been a great year at Bethel. The children are happy and are growing up strong and faithful. At Huruma, we are blessed to be a part of this ministry, and are grateful for your prayers and support this year. We are looking forward to what God has planned for 2015. We have been missing our friends and the children very much, and we are hoping to go back in the latter part of April 2015. So, set your calendars and stay tuned!
It's Christmas in Kenya! One of the favorite things the children at the Bethel Children's Centre like to do is go swimming at the Bible Translation and Literacy Centre in Ruiru. Unlike here, the weather is very nice in Ruiru in December (the temperature is usually in the low 80's).
The Jericho Road
This is the blog of Huruma International Ministries. Huruma seeks to fulfill our calling to "go and do likewise" as instructed by Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The lesson of the Good Samaritan is not about achieving spiritual success through our own efforts. No, what we learn is that we are to give mercy, because we have been given mercy. We are all poor and needy. We are all travelers on the Jericho Road