Blog Archives: January 2013 — December 2013

Joy to the World

December 06, 2013
Becky Lyle Pinkard
The Tree of Lives Christmas ornament campaign will have a brand new look this year! But your $60 donation will continue to support the needs of the abandoned, sick and needy children of Joy Village and our other Kenyan ministries. Unveiling of the new ornaments takes place at First Presbyterian Church Sunday, November 24. Abandoned, orphaned, sick, HIV+, abused, afraid...children deserve better. Your $60 goes a long way to make it a little better, at least for awhile. If she needs food for herself and her family, medical care, a blanket, ...

The Ask

November 16, 2013
Rudy Miller
As Kate and I finish our 14th journey to Kenya I guess we can be considered seasoned travelers. Although each visit has been unique there has been a common element. Men, women and children enter our lives to Ask....perhaps for food, school fees, medical charges, uniforms, school books or monies to bury a love one. Desperate people without options will....Ask. At first we wanted to help everyone but soon realized thats impossible. Often our patience wears thin and honestly even hinges on anger. But why are we angry? Angry over the parade of ...

Tribe of God

November 04, 2013
Rudy Miller
A Kenyan child has the privilege and honor of receiving three distinct names. A Christian name; a tribal related name and a father/family name. My friend Vinton, a Pastoral Counselor at Nazareth Hospital, bears the full name : Vinton Ohito Adika. From birth Kenyans are aware of their family ties and heritage. ”Our family and tribe is more important then wealth or education.” Lacking the identity of a family or tribe is often compared to looking into a mirror and not seeing one’s reflection. Several days ago I traveled to the ...

Beauty from Ashes

October 31, 2013
Jim Wood
It’s Halloween in my homeland. (Not a day exalted here in Africa; for that I am honestly grateful.) You can Google Halloween and All Hallow’s Eve to get a glimpse of how we got here but it strikes me that one of the core ingredients of its longevity is the desire, at least once a year, to take on a new identity – to put on an evening mask, to be someone entirely different from the shadow I cast just that afternoon. It’s fun to play dress up and the more bizarre the better – on Halloween, after all, we can get away with almost anything....

Words Matter

October 24, 2013
Jim Wood
I think I’ve always had a voice. My mom, sister, Sheryl and the boys can all attest: I may be right, I may be wrong, but I’m never without an opinion. In a sense, words are my life, my love, my profession. I can’t imagine ever being without my words. Well, actually I can imagine it – and that is, without question, my greatest fear. Words matter. Words, after all, called the world into creation. Then when we messed it all up the Word became flesh and made it right once again. Words offer the future promise, “In my Father’s house are many ...

Angels and Demons

October 16, 2013
Rudy Miller
Kate and I have just returned from our journey to the Samburu area of Kenya. Along with staff members from HFC, we sought to identify at risk children for possible admission to the Joy Children’s Village. As with many of our trips into the “interior”of Kenya, we were struck by a paradox of people and attitudes. Our first stop was the Maralal Crisis Center for Children operated by the Sister’s of Charity. An international mix of sisters provide care and love to 41 abandoned children....from infants to 4-year-olds, all suffering from ...

Living with Uncertainy

October 09, 2013
Rudy Miller
  Juliet is only 10 years old. She and her father have traveled several hours to reach Holy Family Clinic for her followup medical appointment. Juliet’s life is unlike that of most youth; she lost her Mother to AIDS....she has also been HIV+ since birth and will need a lifetime of monitoring to maintain her health. In most societies HIV/AIDS is still a stigma.....Juliet carries her fear and secrets within herself. Today Holy Family Center and Tree of Lives are helping Juliet overcome a major concern for Kenyan women. Cervical cancer is ...

His Love Heals

October 06, 2013
Rudy Miller
....the old has gone and the new has come.... As new grandparents Kate and I are always amazed and delighted to watch our grandchildren grow. Whether it’s a first step or a first word...we fill with emotions. Last week we returned to Kenya. Our first stop was the Joy Children’s Village in Ngarariga. What a privilege to witness these 33 precious children grow...physically and emotionally. We have known some of these children for two years, others for only a few months. Yet, they are all changing! Last weekend we asked the children to ...

Kwanza Sunday

July 07, 2013
Jim Wood
My rudimentary Kiswahili ears grasp her first words, “Listen for a Psalm of Thanksgiving,” as the young nursing student begins her reading. Proud of my slowly expanding vocabulary, I listen intently as she continues … then it happens – to me! In more than twenty years of preaching I’ve seen it happen many many times to countless others but never before to me – I blank out – that labotomized stare of attentive inattentiveness that any preacher can spot forty pews deep. I lose it, no recollection of which psalm it is, how long the reading ...

Spirit Led Lives

July 04, 2013
Laurie Talty, M.D.
The day began with bright African sunshine. As we waited in the courtyard of the Joy Village, Momma Lucy appeared with all nine of her children, five of whom are under the age of four. They were all beautifully dressed and early for the ten minute walk to the children's service at their church. We walked with them, some held while others went hand in hand. As the large church filled, the music began, beautiful songs of praise lifted up by several hundred African children in unison. It appeared as if they knew all the word s by heart. There ...

God Can Find Us

July 03, 2013
Susan LaSante
As I sat in church on Sunday with the same two children as last year tucked under my arms ,my spirit soared. The church was packed. It almost felt like a 9 passenger matatu with 21 people in it. As I worshipped my thoughts went to the Anajali church in Kibera where they too were worshipping and praising God with their Kenyan exuberance. There was a touch of sadness. I will not see my friends from Anajali on this trip. Do you know those Sundays when the pastor is preaching and you feel like he is speaking directly to your heart and you had ...

Continuing the Movement

July 02, 2013
Bryan Smith
Jesus began a movement that changed the course of human history by issuing this simple directive to a rag-tag bunch of folks: "Follow me! " And after they had followed him for a while, watching him, listening to him, and learning from him, Jesus told this same group, "Go! I am sending you out." And Luke tells us, "they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere" (9:6). There is this simple rhythm inherent in being a disciple of Christ. First, he calls us to him, inviting us into fellowship ...

Time Takes Days for Living

July 01, 2013
Sheryl Wood
Much to my delight I heard that the premies nursery had been added on at Nazareth hospital.  After changing my street shoes into clean clogs and putting on a blue gown I entered the room.  It was beautiful and filled with little sounds of life.  The head nurse walked toward me and asked if I would like to hold a baby.  My motherly instincts began and I extended my arms.  I had never held such a tiny person in my life.  I sat down in a chair and just stared at him. Little face, little nose, little ears, big soul. I began to pray as I stared ...

Learning to Trust

June 30, 2013
Susan LaSante
Lord, you know I am broken, please give me strength to serve you.  I know going back to the surgical ward for rounds is of you.  Thank you for sending me with Pastor Bryan. His compassion and presence strengthens me.  I feel like I am supposed to be the strong American with her act together but yet I am weak.  I am so grateful that Bryan wanted to come back to the house during our break.  I am counting on you, Lord, to give me strength so I can be available for the works you have prepared for me.  I feel so inadequate.  I guess this is good ...

Home Visits, But So Much More

June 29, 2013
Steve Story
While in Kenya, we get the opportunity to make home visits, accompanied by counselors from Holy Family Centre (HFC), who check up on patients, and provide food and emotional and spiritual support. Ruthie Rand and I went on home visits together with Nancy from HFC. We had the privilege of being Christ's hands and feet, merely for a few hours, as we talked with, and prayed for, Leah and Rose and Carol. God  also exposed us to several of his local faith heroes - to Nancy, HFC counselor who visits often desperately sick people, 4 out of 5 days ...

A Time to Mourn, A Time to Dance

June 28, 2013
Bryan Smith
Hannah was a young wife, married since last November. In January, she suffered a miscarriage. And now, she was back in the maternity ward of Nazareth Hospital, suffering through her second miscarriage. When I walked into her room yesterday morning and stood at her bedside, I was overcome by her deep grief and sadness. This young woman was dwelling in a  land of deep darkness. After telling her how sorry I was for her loss, I asked her if she knew the story of Hannah in the Bible. The biblical Hannah was also a young woman who was ...

Mothers' Prayers Everywhere

June 27, 2013
Hunter Johnston
During this pilgrimage, Susan and I are privileged with the opportunity to explore the education of our Joy Village children.  On our first day, we found ourselves driving through the rolling hills of rural Kenya to visit a few of their schools out in their small village.  As I looked out the passenger window of a humble car, I saw ordinary scenes of African life.  Mommas were walking their distant journeys, barefoot alongside their children; carrying heavy burdens both in their hearts and arms.  It’s a life so strikingly uncommon to mine....

Going Uphill Can Be So Much Fun

June 26, 2013
Jim Wood
Don’t know why but I would much rather be going up than down; whether it be walking, backpacking, running, my compass points North. So this Sunday’s Joy Village field trip was right up my dirt path – a peripatetic journey to a familiar steep hill where, under a blue African sky, I joined twenty-three energetic future Olympians as we raced and raced and raced - all uphill. Bright beautiful faces of childhood, digging deep, heads tucked, leaning in, foot in front of foot, lungs pumping to burst level, exhilarated by the thrill of the cha ...

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