fruits, of the earth and the Spirit

This past weekend we drove to Washington Farms to pick some fresh strawberries. We’ve done this a number of times over the years and it’s always fun time. Especially eating them out of the bucket on the way home. They are always so good! I was comparing pictures from 2012 and 2016 and was blown away by how much Jaxon has grown – inside and out.

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A lot can change in four years. For this young man, it’s the amount of anxiety, worry, peace and confidence he has. Many of you have heard us talk about this, and it still amazes us how far he has come. And we give all the glory to God for how much He has made a difference in Jaxon’s life.

Four years ago he was in the middle of counseling, having been diagnosed with severe anxiety. The amount of anxiety and worry he felt was overwhelming at times. These feelings were triggered by many things, including darkening skies signaling an approaching storm, testing at school or going into an event/environment that was unfamiliar. And his reactions ranged widely from simply being in a bad mood, to fits of rage where his actions and words were scary and hurtful. Lisa and I walked on eggshells every minute of the day hoping not to do or say anything that would cause an unwanted response. Many tears were shed during this roller coaster ride, but also many, many prayers were whispered and shouted. Of course we would never wish to have this happen to our precious child, or anyone else’s. But, because it did happen, the three of us have faith and trust we wouldn’t otherwise know. And for that I am truly thankful.

Next month we are going to Kenya for the second time as a family. And we couldn’t be more excited. This nearly 14 year-old who was completely stressed about us moving to a new home fifteen minutes north is now enthusiastically awaiting our 8,000-mile journey to another continent. The amount of peace and confidence Jaxon exudes is evident every day. His easy smile is a testament to me that the Spirit is at work in him.

Did our hugs and encouraging words help? Yes.

Were the hours upon hours of counseling beneficial? Absolutely.

But, only God could help Jaxon conquer his anxiety and overcome the dark thoughts that clouded his mind. He still has times when he gets worried and stressed. But, they are in the “normal” range now. And he knows the One he can turn to in times of need. Thank you, Jesus.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galations 5:22, 23

going back to Kenya!

We are returning to Kenya in July! 
We will be going back to Kenya for roughly two weeks this summer. God brought us together with so many wonderful people and truly gave us a passion and excitement for working and ministering there. We want to continue building those relationships as well as make new connections for potential future ministry and business partnerships. 

Partner with us!
God has placed a calling on our family to go to Kenya and get involved where He is already at work. We would love for you to partner with us in prayer and financially, and walk with us on this journey. We are seeking contributions to help cover the cost of airline tickets, visas and the last batch of vaccinations. For more information on how you can give please go to our GoFundMe campaign.

We are so excited to see what God has in store for us next!

 

from Isaac: “oooh, you will laugh at me.”

It is always good to hear from Isaac. If too much time goes by between our conversations I always start to worry that something has happened to him. I received an update from him on January 28th. His words were full of kindness, joy and praises.

Around Christmas he had some type of flu with coughing. He also had malaria and is recovering with the help of medication. All of this is exacerbated by the fact that he had no sufficient shelter during their rainy season.

I asked where he has been staying. He was living in the forest for a time. The police would harass and abuse him until he either fled or offered a bribe. “Oooh, you will laugh at me [when you see]! I stayed [at] a small house. My blanket was a skin of a sheep [and] mattress was skin of a cow. Now I have bought a new blanket, one sheet and small mattress.”

The unemployment rate is incredibly high in Kenya and Isaac has no regular job. “Here now, I [go] every morning where people [are] gathering together [to] wait for some bosses to collect them [for] any job like a quarry.” But he can’t get work most days because of high competition. “So, you can lose four days [of work] in a week.” Quoting Psalm 41:1, “Blessed is he that considereth the poor, the LORD will deliver him in the time of trouble,” he said “let me be poor, but trusted.” He has always made a point to say he does not want to be a beggar or thief. Amen!

He told me that while digging a toilet hole for a neighbor to earn some income, he lost his cell phone. Not an iPhone, or other smartphone. Not a flip or slide phone. Just a basic device that allows one to call, text and use M-PESA. M-PESA has been called “The Future of Money” by 60 Minutes. This is how Isaac is able to receive money, use public transportation and buy food. So it’s pretty important.

We send him a small amount of money about every month to help him with anything he might need. His last message to me was, “please don’t send [me] another money or [your] pocket will be [empty] and you have a family.” I was reading his messages to Lisa. She had me relay this message to Isaac: “You are part of our family and we want to help!”

He will have a few hens and three crates of eggs for us the next time we see him. “Aaaahh, you helped me so very much, God [has] witnessed this.” And he said, “I will help [with] washing clothes, bed sheets, shining [your] belongings. Because I have nothing to give.” Reminds me of the passage from Mark 12:41-44.

On our next trip we will stop in his town and spend the day with him. And I will record his story on camera. He really wants to do this so he can tell others about his life. I am anxiously awaiting that day, Isaac!

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One of our favorite places to eat in Nanyuki.

Oh, and the hens? Yeah, we will be slaughtering them together… That will be a new experience.

Kwaheri!

update on Isaac!

In a previous post, “so many stories,” I wrote about the circumstances of our watchman, Isaac. We got to know him during our time in Nanyuki. He said, “I pray God will open another way for me. It’s hard but I would rather do this than be a beggar or a thief.”

It seems God heard those prayers.

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Saying “goodbye” as we leave for Molo. 7/11/15

Isaac and I communicate via text messages a few times a month. But, I hadn’t heard from him since the end of October. Nearly two months had passed with no replies. Lisa and I were becoming a little concerned. I sent another text this morning and (finally!) received a reply a few hours later.

A month ago he moved from Nanyuki to a town several hours away where he is cultivating gardens for people. He is earning 200 shillings (roughly $2) per day, but his employer can not pay him until January. This is a little more than his previous job, but it won’t be necessary for him to work 20 hours per day. He said he left on good terms with that employer even though they refused to pay him.

We will continually pray for Isaac and look forward to seeing him again on our next visit to Africa.

“No, they don’t have anybody to help them, only good Samaritans.”

“I told [them] God will do [a] miracle for them. They are the future leaders. When we ask God for everything he will provide.”

We met many families in need during our stay in Kenya. And we met many people who have a heart and passion for helping those families. One of those great men of God is Isaiah*. We keep in touch with him via Facebook since returning to the States.

Recently, he told me of a mother with five children living in a small town just north of where we stayed in Nanyuki. The firstborn (15 years old) feeds the family. The other children are 12, 8, 5 and 1 1/2. The youngest is HIV positive. Describing the condition of their home, Isaiah said when it rains outside it’s like “the house is raining inside.”

isiolo family

Yesterday, the mother passed away. She was HIV positive and had been very sick. “No, they don’t have anybody to help them, only good Samaritans. I told [them] God will do [a] miracle for them. They are the future leaders. When we ask God for everything he will provide.” Funeral arrangements are being planned now.

This is a heartbreaking, yet all too common story. So many people in need. But we know a marvelous God that is bigger than any of these issues. And He works though us to help his children.

Please pray for comfort, peace and safety for these precious children of God.


* I have changed the name for privacy.

 

the kids at House of Hope

Lisa captured some great moments with several of the children at Project 82’s House of Hope in Molo. Jaxon was playing soccer with some of the other kids and I was, somewhere. She picked up the camera and put her photography talents to work. These kids love having their photo taken, and seeing their faces on the screen. And then the laughter begins.

I want to share these photos in hopes that some of you will feel led to sponsor one of these beautiful children. They are so full of life and love. And, they are very generous with their smiles and hugs. Find out more at Project 82 Kenya.

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Children in Molo IMG_4236

We wanted to put together a video with more footage and pictures in order to show a broader overview of our trip. It’s nothing fancy, but I produced a similar video from my first trip to Kenya and someone said it really gave them a sense of being there. My hope is that you will feel a tug at your heart.

people and places: Nanyuki/Molo