Friday, February 22, 2013

But these elections are not about US!

Elections are coming...

The American community gathered at the home of the US ambassador to discuss - how to plan well for the elections and all that could potentially ensue...  Plan to have plenty of extra food in your home, make sure you have bought extra air time for your phones, have a lot of extra cash, have your passports ready - just in case.  Prepare to stay inside for at least 72 hours, and stay alert to signs of violence in your area...

All very sound advice!   ... as we smiled at each other over our coffee and fancy desserts, I knew that each of us, would head to the grocery store and ATM, ready to at least take care of our families.

But, these elections are not about US!

MAIN STREET, N'GANDO - right behind our house




Yesterday, I sat with a group of ladies from our neighborhood.  They talked about how already the different tribes are beginning to experience struggles.  One wife had been kicked out of her home by her mother in law - she was not of the same tribe as her husband.  Another had seen businesses starting to close, which in turn caused her business to have to close.

And then they all began to remember the last elections.  Their main concern is that 5 years ago, after the elections, they were unable to find food - or, when they did find a store open with some actual stock, the prices were doubled or tripled.  An inconvenience to someone who can still afford to pay - insurmountable to the ladies that we work with... the ones who work each day to buy a little food that night to feed their children.  Many remember going hungry or just cooking porridge every day - that being the only "food" they could afford.

My mind wandered back, as my heart listened to their memories and their fears... to the meeting at the embassy just the day before.  How different the gatherings were! 

Here I sit with real moms - whose stories and babies I know, have touched, have held...  "They tell us to buy extra food in preparation," one mama said, "but I scarcely have enough to feed my children TODAY!  How can I buy extra?"







"Will the mzungus stay for these elections?"  Neighbors in our community are asking... 

But, these elections aren't about US!!!  They only present us with another opportunity to position ourselves to love and disciple a community as they face their own fears!  

These are the questions we are asking this week...
"How can we bring hope and Jesus' love into this next month for a vulnerable community?"
"Is there any chance that us being here could bring danger to our neighbors?"



So, today, we are heading to the market.  Because of generous donations from many of you, GIRLS WITH VISION does have the funds to buy some extra food - ahead of time.  So, we are having our ladies put in their own orders - for what they believe their families will need during this time.   No matter what lies ahead... whether the stores are open or closed, whether the prices have doubled or tripled, they will be able to purchase what they need - at the bulk rate cost of whatever we paid.  

And for those who lose their jobs throughout this time (one already has), we are buying a extra so that they can start a business of selling rice or ugali... and still be able to feed their own!

Again, I want to thank each of you who are walking with our group - and for the financial gifts you have sent which enable us to do this!



Sunday, February 17, 2013

She THOUGHT she had killed her baby... we MOURNED... God is GREATER!


She THOUGHT she had killed her baby...
Oh how I MOURNED!!!
But, GOD's story is bigger than I could even have imagined!

Read the STORY of Silvia

My mind is still reeling... with joy... at the amazing news we heard today!
Actually, it all still seems unreal!!!

Silvia with Mwangi as a newborn

After a fight with her husband, Silvia took baby Mwangi and threw him into some tall grass, far from where anyone lives.  Upon reaching home, she called "Baba Mwangi" (her husband), telling him that Mwangi was dead, she'd left him next to the railroad tracks. 

Baba Mwangi ran to the place she had described... Mwangi was GONE!

Silvia assumed that an animal had eaten her baby.  She RAN to hide from the police!

Weeks later, Baba Mwangi, walking through the neighborhood, saw his son!  When he asked the lady who held him, she explained - she had found the baby in some tall grass by the railroad tracks.  Since he had been abandoned, she took him to the chief and asked permission to keep him.  She was thrilled that God had given her the son she had always wanted!

Baba Mwangi ran home to find a picture of his son - probably one that I had taken and given to the family.  When he showed the photo to the chief, the baby was returned to his father - and is now staying with his Sho Sho (Grandmother). 

The amazing news... the one we thought was dead is ALIVE!!!
Everyone, including Silvia, was convinced Mwangi was gone.   
But God ...had been watching and saving him all along. 

The hardest thing that we as Girls With Vision had ever gone through has turned into a God-story of redemption!!!

  God, you are my God.
    I celebrate you. I praise you.
You’ve done your share of miracle-wonders,
    well-thought-out plans, solid and sure.


Also at that time, people will say,
    “Look at what’s happened! This is our God!
We waited for him and he showed up and saved us!
    This God, the one we waited for!
Let’s celebrate, sing the joys of his salvation.
    God’s hand rests on this mountain (slum neighborhood)!”

Isaiah 25 


Moses...also hidden in tall grass... rescued by a childless, compassionate woman... somehow the similarity of these stories strikes me hard!

I believe that God has some special plans for baby Mwangi... his story, before he has even turned one is already a miracle!!!


Now I can look at these pictures and not burst into tears... GOD has RESCUED this boy!!!
 Thank you to each of you who mourned over Mwangi's story with me!  Now we can THANK our faithful God together!

 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Gathered here, in our little sanctuary... they call our Girls With Vision center the "office" 

 (not sure how it got that name!) - But they see it as their safe place.   

There we are sheltering a 15 year old and her 18 month old baby who had been kicked out onto the street...  There we make jewelry and encourage, train in soap making, help launch small businesses, host our discipleship class...  

 

Somehow, the hardships seem a little further away when we are together in this place!

 

Today, we gathered just to encourage one another.  

Stumbling over the words - some helping others who cannot read at all... my own mind soared with theirs as I listened.   One lady's voice rang out in that distinctive accent, with these words...

 

   For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.   In those days when you pray, I will listen.   If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 

Jeremiah 29: 11-13...


Ahhh... what a promise!


 

One lady admitted that she is an alcoholic.  She tried to join our group 3 months ago, but the meetings were on Saturdays and she was always too drunk to attend.  Today she is trying again!

Another shared about her child - unable to go to school for lack of finances.  Another, through sobs, choked out a story of betrayal within her family...  and the sharing went on...

My mind went back - how many times have I read and heard those words... The Lord's plans are for good...future...hope...  Now they are taking on NEW meaning! 


I know that God is here - in our meeting... also hearing this heartache - hearing these ladies, ready to seek HIM... to find that hope in HIM...   GOD, please meet our hearts!!!
 
 


A generous Sunday School class of young children back in Tampa Florida reached into our "office" and brought joy... They had faithfully and even sacrificially given to collect and buy Bibles.  Yesterday, Tampa hearts touched some Ngando ladies in deep ways, as they wrote their names into the fronts of their Bibles... and held them close with joy.  

Kimberly Cragg, and all your faithful family and friends, THANK YOU!

 

 

Jeremiah 29:11-13

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.   In those days when you pray, I will listen.   If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Lost Girl

We spent the day yesterday, hanging up fliers...
  
A mama had passed the entire morning walking through every corner of our slum neighborhood, looking for her adopted niece who hadn't returned from school the evening before.

As we walked by her side, I was struck by this lonely fight for a poor poor mama in the face of tragedy.   The police heard, but had no "emergency response" upon hearing of an orphan girl, lost in a slum

Just a mama, and a few friends... no one else really even seemed to notice... a girl is LOST!

As we hung the signs, people gathered around to look, then trudged on - to face their own struggles.


Brenda on the day she came to live with Rachel
Brenda on my right... sweet snuggles!

Her mama died when she was young.  Dad left her abandoned in the market.  Rachel took Brendah in as her own daughter just last year.  

But in the last few weeks, Brendah started hearing her mama calling her.  She kept telling Rachel that she saw her mama in her dreams and needed to go find her.  Then, after school, she decided to follow those voices and started walking...
God actually worked a miracle that brought Brendah home last night!  A neighbor's bus was hijacked on her way home - all passengers were taken to the police station across town to report the crime.  While there, the neighbor recognized Brendah at the station! 

Yes, sometimes even a car-jacking may be a part of God's "big-picture" plan!
Rachel and Brendah - so thankful!

Of course, we had to bake a cake and celebrate Brendah's return to safety!  

Praying that she will stop hearing that voice and will know and feel that love that surrounds her!
Celebrating with friends!

We laughed that night, that Brendah's picture had been posted up next to all of the politicians' who are running for office.  We're wondering if she may get some votes in this next election!!!

Fun to be able to rejoice after a few very difficult days!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Awake in the NIGHT...

Awake in the night...
Jet lag?  Maybe!

But what jarred me awake - what is keeping me awake as I sit here, is something real!

Tonight, I am sitting here, begging God to fill me with wisdom.




Lavendah with her baby, Ash...

Tomorrow we will face a life decision with a little girl who is a mama.  She has decided that she may want to give up her baby ...  But then again, maybe not...  Or maybe just for a little while...  Sounds like a normal 15 year old, doesn’t it?  Except these decisions are not about what color of nail polish she wants to wear!

Sweet baby Ash

Would it be best for this baby to be adopted into a stable home?  Probably... maybe... but we are in the business of helping mamas to keep their babies!  Of course, this mama is not very stable.  She has threatened to kill him before ...out of desperation.  We don’t take that lightly!   She keeps moving in and out with an abusive boyfriend.  But that probably has a lot to do with the fact that she has nowhere to live! 




Big smiles!

And so tomorrow, from the table in our Girls With Vision center, where we make beads together and study God's Word together, where we have given her temporary shelter, our voices will be heard.  How can we walk with Lavendah?   
God, PLEASE let it be YOU speaking and not me!    

How can we help a girl be a mother 
when she has never known the love of a mother?   

So yes, tonight is a sleepless night... maybe it is for her too!
 

I’m desperate for wisdom.  There are no easy answers... every way I look, I see pain!  Decisions that will matter for a lifetime - literally - to a mama and to her boy. 

I’m coming to the ONE who knows that future - asking HIM to guide our words tomorrow. 

Once again, I remind myself... God, You love and cherish Ash and his mama, Lavendah even more than I do!   You have beautiful plans for each of their lives!  




But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.
James 1:5
 

He promised, so I am begging for HIS wisdom today!  Please pray for Lavendah with me!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jIbsabkwJ0&feature=youtu.be 
 A little video of Ash dancing at our Christmas party!

Lavendah

Learning to make soap

Lavendah, always ready with a smile for the camera!



Beadwork at our house

Our neighborhood

Lavendah and Ash with their Christmas gift!

Ash, joining in the dancing and singing!