Blog Archives: July 2014

Learning to See my Experiences Right Side Up

July 31, 2014
Susan LaSante
Last week I did home visits with my prayer partner Ann, who is a social worker with the Holy Family Clinic.  Juliet, a community worker who I had met last year, showed us the way through the roads, fields and over the stream, as we walked from home to home.  We experienced such joy as we talked, laughed and took fun pictures in a grove of trees.   Jesus continued to try to teach me lessons about being served.  I am so grateful to those of you who shared insights about that in response to the blog I previously wrote.  Each time I was served ...

Citizen of the World

July 30, 2014
Jim Wood
It is said that refugees are citizens of the world. This is an eloquent way of saying that they are no longer welcomed in their homeland, driven out, living in a alien land at the whim of the powers of a foreign nation, dependent on the beneficence of strangers for the basics of water, food and shelter, restricted to guarded camps, no passport.  You can see why we clean it up into one pristine phrase – “Citizens of the World”. So what of the young woman who arrived on Friday evening? A teenager from the Nuba mountains of Sudan. Fifteen ...

What's In A Name

July 29, 2014
Ruth Rand
It is not uncommon for the people of the Kikuyu tribe to have a Christian name as well as a Kikuyu name. For example, you might meet a Sarah Njoki (she who returned), Stephen Nguvu (strong), or John Kamau (quiet warrior). I’m increasingly learning the importance of these Kikuyu names. Individuals seem to grow into these names, embrace and embody these names. In a similar vein, I had the privilege and honor of attending the naming ceremony at Nazareth’s Joy Village orphanage on Sunday, an overwhelmingly beautiful and powerful experience....

It's All in the Letters

July 28, 2014
Jim Wood
Life is a book filled with varied chapters - each chapter filled with varied verses - each verse filled with varied words - each word filled with varied letters. Of course, we all know that it is the letters that build it all - the key is in their placement. While a random scattering of letters can occasionally make a word or two, they rarely make sense; instead, each letter must have intent behind it to be strung into anything meaningful. So here is the point, life is a series of letters – individually specific moments, experiences, ...

His Kingdom Came Today

July 27, 2014
Kristine Rand
A beautiful, precocious, energetic young boy, maybe four to five years old, leads me toward his home.  From the group I am walking with, I hear that his mother left last night.  Apparently she felt her behavior was exonerated by the fact that she wrote a note (in Kiswahili) to Pastor Jim giving him custody of her children. As I entered the two-room house, I looked to the right and saw a very young toddler sitting alone on a chair. When we entered, she did not turn to look at us, but kept her stare on the opposite wall.  No affect. No tears....

A Love Story

July 25, 2014
I just spoke with Kate and Rudy Miller about their longstanding friendship with a very special young Kenyan girl named Alice (shown in the photo with her grandparents.) In truth, the Millers' relationship with Alice is far more than a friendship. It is a love story. A sweet and Holy love story. "Kate and I first met Alice in 2007. She was in the first grade. We couldn’t but help notice her enthusiasm for life! Yet, Alice is extremely small for her age…due to malnutrition and disease. She is an orphan. Today Alice is close to entering ...

Simon Says

July 25, 2014
Jim Wood
One day I’m going to write a book entitled “Simon Says” and fill it with all of the pithy quotes my friend, Simon Mwangi, shares with me. His saying for me today, “The heart of a man is so big that nothing can fill it.” “Do you believe that, pastor? Do you believe that a man’s heart is so big that he can never fill it? I worry that it is true and if it is true then I, first among man, am guilty.” Strange words from a friend who has come to grips with more in his life than most could ever imagine. Comes to grips with no real formal ...

Seasons

July 24, 2014
Hunter Johnston
About a month ago, I began considering how I can help to shape my life into seasons. Seasons where I create a better space for Christ to work in me and through me. I was inspired when my favorite blogger wrote: “There’s a certain amount of pressure… to be endlessly productive. It’s not how nature works. It’s not how seasons work. There’s planting and reaping and harvesting, and there’s the practice of letting the field go fallow for a while, allowing it to prepare again to produce….I’m going to practice silence, laying fallow…listen more ...

This Feels Upside Down

July 23, 2014
Susan LaSante
I was feeling pretty guilty and inadequate today.  What had I done to serve?  I was reminded of the scripture "that it is more blessed to give than to receive".  I felt like I had given so little, yet I had received so much. I found myself drawn to the music coming from the hospital around 7 this morning.  I stood outside the chapel and listened.  As I entered the hospital I joined others in the hallway as we listened to prayers over the loud speaker.  I bumped into Sister Clara, who is the head of the hospital and we walked hand in hand ...

Repair My Heart

July 22, 2014
Spencer Hull
Eyes and ears are open but mouth is shut and guarded. I am told that this journey here at Nazareth Hospital is life changing. Our Lord knows that I want that change. My heart tells me daily and now my heart tells me I have come to the right place to have it repaired. I believe the wonderful people here will teach me to trust and love God with all my heart, and I would like for them to know they are loved too. This beautiful, second night, I am asking God for a relationship with Him and for His guidance. Thank you, Lord, for this ...

"You Have to See the Big Picture"

July 21, 2014
Jim Wood
“You have to see the big picture if you expect to solve the problem.” Words of my seatmate as we tough out that nearly nine-hour flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi. Talented, experienced, Ivy educated, deeply committed, she works – pretty high up the food chain - for one of the largest governmental relief agencies in the world – this is her 30th plus trip to this beautiful land.  “Tell me what that means to you,” I follow. For hours she fills me in on the big picture of AIDS relief, market stabilization, generic drug procurement, funding ...

VBS Fundraising for 167 Club

July 15, 2014
Becky Lyle Pinkard
Vacation Bible School at First Presbyterian Church kicked off yesterday. Aside from the excitement surrounding all the awesome activities of VBS, one of the most wondeful things going on this week is the VBS 2014 mission project - to raise money for the Tree of Lives 167 Club. The 175 children attending VBS have been challenged to bring in a $2 donation each day this week to help fund the care provided to our Joy Village children. The cost for housing, food, clothing, meds and education for each child costs $167 a month. The VBS kids ...

Leaving Day

July 05, 2014
Bryan Smith
Soon, very soon, the vans will arrive to ferry us to the waiting plane, poised to wing us home. So I pack my suitcase, tucking mementos into clothes and laying them alongside shoes and belts before zipping it shut.   It’s time to go home.  And so my heart, on tiptoes, begins to look west, anticipating joyous reunion with the Dear Ones to whom I’m joined. It’s time to return to my village, my people, the Ones whom I’ve carried within while I’ve pilgrimmed through his Kenyan land.   And yet, I depart with ...

At the Heart of the Gospel

July 04, 2014
Bryan Smith
This is my second trip to Kenya.  Last year I tagged along with a group from FPC Norfolk and this year I returned with a team from my own church.  And what I've noticed is that the first time I was here, I got exposed to so many different people, programs, and customs that I felt like a giant sponge simply trying to absorb all that was going on.  Returning for a second go around has allowed me to deepen relationships with folks who faithfully minister here in Kenya day in and day out--folks like Ruth, the administrator of Joy Village; Vinton ...

The Simple Things in Life

July 03, 2014
Bryan Smith
This blog post was written by Yvette Lewis, one of the team members on Kenyan soil today with Rev. Bryan Smith of Geneva Presbyterian Church in Canton, MI. When we walked into the school yard, the kids gathered to see who these strangers were.  We introduced ourselves and listened as they repeated our names and then giggled.  George, the school principal, announced we were joining them for their afternoon activities.  We brought out balls and many of the kids gravitated toward them.  Several kids grabbed them and headed off to the outer ...

Time to Wake Up?

July 02, 2014
Bryan Smith
This blog post was written by Dawn Christenson, one of the team members on Kenyan soil today with Rev. Bryan Smith of Geneva Presbyterian Church in Canton, MI. We went over the weekend to Joy Village to visit with the children and their Mommas.  We arrived with bags full of activities and gifts and dreams of playing and cuddling with the children.  And of course, all of that happened.  Our many treasures were a huge hit with the children and we found ourselves making friends quickly.  The warm feeling that comes from doing things for others ...

On Being Kenyan

July 01, 2014
Nicole Lock
Ruth is trying to make me into a Kenyan, and, according to her, I am making progress.  The Director of the Joy Village, she and I met Sunday morning to finalize plans for worship at area congregations.  Seeing a Kenyan-shillings bill on top of my Bible, she asked if I had reminded the team about the offering, as everyone in a Kenyan worship service goes forward during the offering.  I told her I had.  We then discussed the invitation from the church next door to join their congregation for worship and a fundraiser.  As the women on our team ...

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