By Jeff & Steph
Jeff and I really had no idea what to expect when the call to missions came. We basically only knew the basics...we were called to move to Kenya and open a children's home. Jeff had been on 1 mission trip and I had been on exactly zero. He and I had both served in the church for several years, but had never really been involved in foreign missions. Our first few months here were met with challenges...we had land purchase issues and sicknesses that we were dealing with. The only thing on our radar was getting the home built and open. So 8ish months into living our dream we realize that we were called here for so much more than just a children's home. Jeff and I sat down and wrote some things down that we felt like we were also called here to do. We created what we call Mercy Dreams.
We wanted to create something that we could see on a regular basis so we wouldn't lose sight of our calling, dreams and goals. Being here and having so many needs staring you in the face can get overwhelming sometimes and I didn't want that to throw us off. So here is our daily reminder:
Mercy School Reformation -This is going to be a huge task, but we are currently diving in head first. Mercy School was started in 2012 and has grown to over 350 students, which is amazing, but it doesn't have the budget or resources for this many children. The Kenyan school year starts in January and ends in November, so we are hoping to make it through November 2017 with the current number of students and then cut class sizes starting in January 2018. In January we are hoping and praying to have a better budget that would allow for all books and supplies to be provided for each class. Right now the parent are supposed to be providing books, but many cannot even pay minimal school fees so we may only have 5 books for a class of 30 and that makes learning hard. Mercy School is currently doing the best they can with what they have, but there is room for improvement.
Street Boy Ministry - This ministry is about meeting with the boys currently living on the streets of Bungoma, feeding them and sharing the gospel with them. We have a friend (Benedict) who goes with Jeff and Karson that translates from English to Swahili and Kibukusu (the local tribal language). Jeff has also been able to translate some Bible tracts on the computer. We already know many of the boys and the ones we don't know, know us. We are hoping that this ministry will continue to grow and reach many more boys for Him.
Hospital Ministry - In the coming weeks Jeff hopes to be able to start visiting a hospital each week to pray for those wanting prayer. He plans on taking 3 to 4 older kids with him each time. Again Benedict will be tagging along and translating for Jeff. We are also praying that we can provide Swahili New Testaments to give to those who want them.
Parenting Classes - Jeff and I see this as a HUGE need here. This culture is very big on physical discipline, so much so that it doesn't even have to come from the parents. Teachers, shop owners, security guards...everyone here really feels like they have the right to hit a kid who they think is out of line even if they are just being a kid. I'm not a super lenient parent, but many times people here are just too harsh. I'm of the mind set if you know better you can do better. You can't know something that you have never learned. By teaching others (and treating our kiddoes better) a better way to parent we can bring more love into homes.
1 Bible Per Family - A Bible here is a luxury. Often times at church there are may be 5 Bibles in the whole building (50+ attendees). That was shocking to me. In America, Bibles are everywhere...you can get them cheap or ask just about any church and they will get you one. Here in Kenya it isn't that way. Most of the church buildings are made from dirt, don't have electricity and the pastor isn't paid, so they don't have a stack of free Bibles. So our hope is to get a Bible in the hands of each family that belongs to a JFM church (the church group we partner with here).
Child Food Ministry - Since we need to cut down on the number of students that attend Mercy School we are going to start serving lunch from our home. Many of the kids in this area are in need of food, cutting some from the school may mean that they aren't able to attend school at all which may also mean they have to skip meals. Providing free lunch will help cover this gap and also allow us to develop deeper relationships with our community.
Widow Nyumbani (Home) Project - We have briefly mentioned in the past that we hope to have apartments for widows on our property. Having these small rooms separate from the children's home will allow us to help care for widows, but allow them some independence as well. We believe that this will help the kids too, not only are the kids being cared for and loved on, but they are caring for and loving on others. We currently know of a widow who's health is failing her, she's recently been in the hospital and she doesn't have family to help care for her. I wish it were possible for her to move here now, but we just aren't set up for her yet.
SBS leader training - Sharon Bible School is another AFM supported ministry. Currently there are schools here in Kenya and in the Philippines. The purpose of the school is to provide free training to church leaders and members in Bible study methods. Here in Kenya, there are 2 locations where students meet with teachers weekly to go through English and Swahili curriculum provided by AFM's Jim Clark. Jeff hopes to begin meeting with the teachers weekly to distribute and discuss the upcoming week's lesson.
While currently our Mercy Dreams are just some words written in chalk on our unpainted bedroom wall (with the exception of the Street Boy Ministry which has already begun!), we hope that soon it is so much more than that. We hope these dreams become a reality; our reality and a reality to this community we love so dearly. We wanted to share this list with y'all so y'all can pray with us and for each of these dreams. We will never be able to say thank you enough. When we made the decision to move here we were just following God and not thinking about the amount of prayer and finances that it would take to really make this happen. But in true God fashion He has called many people to care for these sweet kiddos...our sweet kiddos. We are hugely blessed to have such a team!