Blog Archives: January 2014 — December 2014

See You Soon!

December 26, 2014
Vinton Adika
Below is a letter we received today from Vinton Adika, a pastoral counselor at Holy Family Center in Kenya and a dear friend to the children of Joy Village as well as to many of us in the Tree of Lives family. The letter is an intimate glimpse into the hearts and minds and lives of the children at Joy Village, a most beautiful account of the love and hope found there.   Peace and all that is good, brothers and sisters in Christ. Allow me to share with you a little experience I had with the loved ones at Joy Village on 20th and 21st ...

November 2014 Newsletter

November 15, 2014
Becky Lyle Pinkard
Our November newsletter is available now. Including photos from the team just back from Kenya and ideas for Christmas gifts, we hope you enjoy our most recent update to the ministries and work going on in Kenya. Read the November 2014 newsletter here!

Can I Sit There and Start Learning?

November 14, 2014
Rudy Miller
This past week, two teams of teachers from the Allamano School traveled to the tea estates surrounding the Nazareth Hospital. The estates house “tea pickers”, one of the lowest paying jobs in Kenya. Most pickers and their families live in small employer owned rooms with no water or electricity.  The teachers were searching for children….children who have never attended school. Even though Kenyan law provides education for everyone, the lack of even a few shillings for books and uniforms prevents many children from attending school. Many ...

You Are Not Alone

November 07, 2014
Patrice Wade
In the United States, I work as a nurse practitioner seeing adolescents who are diagnosed with HIV. Auntie Ruth asked me if I would sit down with the Joy Village children to discuss their HIV and to see if they have any questions. I am so excited, the kids have been so happy and lighthearted throughout the day, that I expect a similar response during out session. Auntie Ruth first gathers the older girls who are HIV positive and we retreat to the Aunt’s home at Joy Village, there are three and they range in age from 12- 14. As I explain what ...

You're In My Blood Like Holy Wine

November 02, 2014
Rudy Miller
In recent years vocalists have used the metaphor “you’re in my blood like holy wine” to describe their love for someone very special. Neat songs! As I have thought of my continuing draw to Kenya I would like to borrow their lyrics to explore the depths of my love affair with Kenya. For me….you’re in my blood like holy wine began with confession. As one reaches a holy place the reality of our own brokenness becomes apparent. My ignorance, fear and even prejudice of poverty and disease became very clear and difficult to ignore. God called me ...

Vignettes from Kenya

October 30, 2014
Becky Lyle Pinkard
Encounter in the Woods Walking softly through the woods, silence surrounding me, I was unaware of God so close. I feel sure now that He saw me enter the forest. Knowing my heart’s desire, He chased me down. The encounter unfolded. Through my companion, God said to me, “This is the spot – right here beneath the tree – where the abandoned baby was found 3 years ago. You know the one. Emmanuel.”  Yes, I know him, I said! This is where it happened? God is crazy in love with me. He followed me into the woods and showed me the place where He ...


October 28, 2014
Rudy Miller
God has gifted all of us with the ability to remember. I have to admit some of my memories would best be forgotten yet others bring back smiles. I don't look forward to the possibility of losing memories in my Golden years….not fair. What does a child remember? Who do they remember? Do they remember their beginnings….their roots? Last weekend I spent time with the children of the Joy Village. Over the past few years I’ve had a personal glimpse into their lives prior to joining a JV family. The first time I met 6-year-old Chimbro she was ...

The Room at the End of the Hall

September 30, 2014
Rudy Miller
The nurse in the pediatric wing of Nazareth Hospital directed me to Richard. “He is in the end room.” His room, no larger than 80 square feet, has been used for hospital storage and the occasional isolation case. Although I had seen Richard only 90 days ago, I did not recognize the gaunt little boy curled up on his bed. I have seen the look before….he is at the end of his life. Perhaps Richard would have chosen this isolated room for his final hours? I first met this eight-year-old boy one year ago in the Korogocho slum of Nairobi. In many ...

September 2014 Tree of Lives Newsletter Available

September 17, 2014
Becky Lyle Pinkard
To read and download the latest edition of the Tree of Lives newsletter, go here.

Joy Village Has Hot Water

September 12, 2014
Becky Lyle Pinkard
For the first time ever - there is HOT WATER at Joy Village! The solar heating panel installation is complete! The Village is now having to make new bathing rules for the kids...turns out they have never used a shower before and want to stay under for hours! (Don't we all?) The Moms are grateful they no longer have to boil water for bathing, cooking and everything else. Thanks to all our donors - you made this possible!  

It's Good to Have Friends

August 01, 2014
Jim Wood
It's good to have friends – Clara, Ruth, Nkatha, George, Ross, Simon, Alice, Toma, Nguvu, Baby Mary. I used to think that friends could take you to higher places - a better job, stronger social connections, upwardly mobile things. I still believe that but these friends help me realize that it is too easy to settle for higher places - there is something even better - much better - the highest place - where things eternal reside – that place where young people have dreams and old men visions – where the things of this world have passed away ...

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 ...


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 t ...

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