I'm sitting among the moon-lit clouds in the darkness of AFM MCH courtyard enjoying the coolness of the tropical air here in Kenya. It's an amazing thing to see so many people dressed in coats in these times when rains fall and temps drop to the frigid 67 degrees Fahrenheit! Haha. I love it, because earlier today when the hot equatorial sun was blasting down, not just I, but even the locals were all walking around heads beaded with sweat and heavy perspiration!
Even so, I'm pondering over how great and good is our God, and wondering how all this goodness, He has allowed me to partake. This has been my first full day here at the home after being fully rested by a good night's sleep (and an late afternoon nap.. YES!)
Kids are now all crowded around the tiny TV that AFM donors have enabled us to buy some months back, watching joyfully 'new' episodes of 'Little House on the Prairie' from the full 9 season DVD set I brought with me for them.
The Bys Family living room at Mercy Home on a typical night is chatter, joyful laughter and fun watching some good old classic TV or group Bible study led by 'Baba' Jeff. But the past two nights have been TV fun since they were so excited to find out they now had so many unseen episodes after wearing out the 4 seasons they had prior.
This came after supper and after some rehearsal of several Christian songs they are going to be singing as a group for Saturdays big Community Celebration that AFM is hosting down the street. (I got to sing along!) There we will set up a big tent, kill the fatted calf (actually the cow we go buy tomorrow morning at the market), enjoy a community feast, sing and dance, and declare the glories of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ in us all and for this entire region! Hallelujah! It will be a fun time of joy and bonding while we help the locals see that we are here for the truly needy and to be good neighbors and ambassadors of God helping many get grounded in biblical truth and relationship with Lord Jesus. The preparations will take most of the day tomorrow and well over a thousand dollars. But an investment well needed in these people who need to know and see the love of God in action and that they are not forgotten any longer!
This isn't a fancy place by human definitions, but it's a beautiful place in my eyes and in the heart of God! And yes we would still love to be able to build this out and also aquire and expand to a second campus here and also in the Sangalo area at a place like the "still vacant" Lavin campus we looked into last fall (It is move-in ready for a school, homes and even a ready to use Hospital), but all that is in God's hands as the future always is. For now we live for this moment to love as many as possible caring for the hurting and making for them a life of joy and peace with our God. So we press on with the priorities Christ gives us to minister to others first living sacrificially to do the most good.
Somehow God Almighty, who can raise dead people from the grave, who can command the wind and the waves, wants to use you and me to be a part of Life Giving change in the lives of the most humble of this world. All we have to say is, "Yes Lord, send me" and He will. He will allow you a taste of His glory this side of heaven. Yes, come and see.
Today after breakfast, we planned on taking all the kids down the road to a neighbors grassy field to play some "foot ball" (soccer) with a couple of the 'one world play' so called indestructible soccer balls I brought over (although one ball started coming apart in one day at the plug but we glued it back) but those plans got thwarted with neighborhood drama that got all the village people on the streets a couple homes down the road when gun shots rang out from a police officer trying to break up a mob trying to beat a man to death caught stealing someone's motorcycle. (Vigilante justice is all too common here in Kenya and mobs often kill people caught in serious or minor crimes and sometimes people who simply seriously hurt someone like in a careless car accident). But the normally quite and quaint road was crowded with hundreds of rubbernecking neighbors and the police on site trying to stop the violence and enact proper justice. People seem to come out of the woods from nowhere from this rural community to see what's going on.
Needless to say, our parade of 50 from the Mercy Home couldn't make the trek down to the play field since that community excitement was blocking our way. So Jeff, Stephanie and I went to see the VLM Lavin campus and worked our way back after lunch...then eventually this afternoon got to walk the Mercy Home 'gang' all down to play some ball.
While the kids played, I talked with one of our area Sharon Bible School discipleship class Ministry pastors who is leading a class on Mondays who happened to be coming down the road. We have restarted back up several of these free book-by-book Bible study classes and now hundreds of ministers and lay people are engaging weekly in Bible studies to make them better disciples of Christ and leaders in their churches. This is a division of About-Face Missions that many do not know about, but is helping to train and keep engaged in Bible study pastors and lay people all around here in Kenya, India and the Philippines. This work is developed, mostly funded, and founded by AFM Discipleship director Jim Clark. Jeff Bys prints out the weekly lessons for all our local area teachers who then lead these various groups through weekly study. The lessons are graded through a system Jim has set up online along with all the materials and resources. When a book of the Bible is complete they then are certified with a certificate of completion and in some cases have a graduation celebration. The book of John for instance can take about 6 months or more to complete. (If anyone is interested in Discipleship ministries we need volunteer admin help in transferring many pages of hand written notes onto typed digital format and Jim needs help with doing software translation into local languages of many lessons also) Anyhow I was so blessed to talk with minister Edwin and hear how he has grown to about 30 pastors meeting at his home weekly and loving these studies. Many in poor countries are hungry for such resources as this, and AFM is committed to making this happen everywhere we can as people choose to give and help us buy paper, printers ink and admin resources. This is much better than just giving a pastor a book and hoping he figures out on his own how to do a Bible study. Monday we plan on crashing their next class so we can meet them all and visit Edwin at his home. More images to come later on that.
Needless to say I've never seen so many well behaved and yet energetic kiddos enjoy a couple of simple ball like this group... Several little ones played with some smaller rubber hand balls I brought and some adventurous girls had to get called down from the top of a tall guava tree picking some of it's delicious fruits to enjoy! Haha. Kids laughing, playing ball, some squeeling for various reasons and many chomping on guavas picked by the girls while the more energetic boys attacked the footballs...
About then, a rather fortunate elderly woman selling seseme seed balls she made to peddle on the streets found a couple kids and asked if they wanted to buy some of her homemade snacks ( I forgot what they call them) for 5 cents per ball (sugar and seseme seed balls) and they came to Stephanie and asked if they could buy a few. Well if a couple get some, everyone else gets one too, so rather than trying to sneak a few kids to get a treat Stephanie asked the lady how many she had in here bucket. Turned out she had about 100 or so. I just happened to have in my pocket a 500ksh bill ($5) so we bought her out! Then as she was bagging them all up a thunderstorm stated blowing in so we had to quickly hurry all our kiddos home; but not without reward, because they all got to enjoy with great pleasure seseme seed sugar balls! Haha. They all love to eat and eat well! I'm telling you there is no such thing as a picky eater in Mercy Children's Home! Anyhow you should have seen that smile or satisfaction on that elderly widow woman's face as I was walking down the street back home beside her. She barely had to spend any time to sell what normally would have taken her days to sell! She may well have earned her weeks income on our $5 purchase!
The benefits of us loving these kids and taking care of them just keeps going around and around in this community. For instance not only do we give full time jobs to 5 security guards, cooks, landry and support staff, but we provide better income to the local MPESA shops (mobile money transfer) with all the cash we constantly send Jeff to run these massive operations, along with local people who provide milk, food supplies and produce in larger sales. Daily breakfast consists of a cup of porridge (a cream of millet version sugar and milk. Think runny cream of wheat) and a couple mandazis per person. (Mandazi is fried bread pastry, their idea of a donut pastry that some sprinkle powdered sugar over) Now frying up 100 or more mandazis is quite a chore and requires a good bit of vegetable oil and time to make the dough and fry all of them early before everyone awakes so they can be ready, so we dont try to have our cooks get started that early and just buy them locally. They only cost about a nickle each so it's really not more expensive than making them ourselves. Fortunately we know this local woman who only makes chips (french fries) and mandazis for a living and takes them to local schools to sell for them to serve to their kids, and now AFM has enriched her life by becoming our personal daily mandazi cook/provider so she shows up with the huge tub of these for us daily!
Yes our lives doing good to help these little ones just keeps on giving back and making everyones lives just a little better. We are not 'big' in first world terms, but in this world they love what we are doing for the innocent children and how our investments are creating greater local economy here in this once very depressed part of Buluma district of Bungoma county Kenya.
God our Father is good and he is good to us all. Keep praying for us, keep giving and you will see how YOUR love is changing the world in so many ways that brings God glory. After all...
...This is my Father's world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker's praise.
This is my Father's world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Father's world. O let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world: why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!
This is my Father's world: He shines in all that's fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.
Visit http://afm.ngo to learn more about us and see how to take part.