Thursday, February 26, 2015

February Update 2015


The book of Romans (15:30) finds the author asking
“Will you be (our) prayer partners? For the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake 
and because of your love for (us) - given to you by the Holy Spirit - 
pray much with (us) for (the) work.”

We’re asking for the same… Because of love, 
will you partner in prayer for us and the work God is doing in Kenya?

These are our requests and shouts of joy…
Asking God for favor with all involved in Lil Man’s adoption process. 
We refuse to pay bribes. May God move the hearts of social workers, 
the lawyer and judge to make decisions in the best interest of Henry Jasper. 
 

Thanking the Lord for the JOY of delivering Luo Bibles to village mamas!  
Please pray as we facilitate bible study for women who have never 
known God’s Word for themselves.
Please pray for the WOW mamas to keep making progress in their 
spiritual walks and practical outreach to the community.

Smiling mamas can read God's Word in their heart language. 
"Erokamano. Nyasaye Opaki."
Sharing the Word.
Precious prayer time with gratefulness.
Amazing mamas now blessed with Bibles!

Some of our dear friends in Dadaab Refugee Camp were not sponsored 
to come back to school at Joyland. Since the ISIL crisis, funds for refugees’ 
education are not available.
Please pray the children at Joyland to be protected against violence and abuse.  
Please pray for the local youth to resist temptations to join terrorist groups in 
northern Kenya. May God’s words of comfort and peace find a home in their hearts.

 
We were awarded a grant to build 15 biosand water filters. 
May we have grace to complete the work with a focus of sharing the gospel.
A biosand filter will make this dirty lake water 
potable and prevent waterborne diseases.
Praising Jesus for the progress made on the church property. 
The permanent security wall is completed. 
Please pray with us about constructing a place for neglected 
mamas from the surrounding slums and villages to come, learn and 
access resources. The expected cost to build a multipurpose building 
is approximately $10,000.
Building the security wall. Many of these mamas 
now attend church.
Security guard poses with his machete.
Carolyne and Taleah strike a pose along the wall.
Mark poses too.
Without even knowing what was happening, a dear friend in USA 
felt impressed to share these verse a few days ago... 
Zech 2: 5. "For I, says the Lord, 'will be a wall of fire all around her 
and I will be the glory in her midst."
(Thanks Lynn!)

Please pray for our family to experience continued protection and provision.   
We are reapplying for our missionary permit. Our kiddos are in midterm and 
need an extra boost of confidence and commitment. We are also asking for
wisdom concerning options for the future.


Now glory be to God, who by His mighty power at work within us is 
able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream 
of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.  
May He be given glory forever and ever through endless ages because 
of His master plan of salvation for the Church through Jesus Christ.   
(Ephesians 3:20.)

Asante sana for your prayers, support and encouragement.
hugs from the haugers
                                    Ooo0o


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Don't Give Up on Anyone


My stepmom died on January 27th 2015.  I wrote her a tribute.  As I thought about her influence on my life, I recalled just how unlovable I made myself to her, to my family; me - the black sheep, the outcast, doing drugs, being irresponsible, no morality, no integrity - a parent’s ultimate nightmare teenager from age 15 to 21. I’m certainly not proud of that, but I am inspired by my stepmom’s tough commitment to care about me, even when I didn’t.

Today I’m thinking about those in my life that are difficult to love.  The ones who take carefully crafted plans to help and toss them aside like trash.  The ones who indirectly ooze their problems out of martyrs’ mouths yet find fault in any proposed solution. Those who spitefully use people. And those who simply suck the life right out of you and then ask for more. Yeah, those ones. The ones who don’t respond well to love, who misinterpret motives, who can’t comprehend truth.  The ones who make us feel uncomfortable. What do we do with those ones?

Jesus loves the unlovable. He waits for them. He’s patient, longsuffering and kind REGARDLESS. He keeps no record of wrong but rejoices in what is good.

“But He’s God.” you say,  “Of course He can do that.” 

Ok, then ask, “How much of God lives in me?”  Can I pray?  Can I listen?  Can I take a minute and smile? Can I forgive? Can I courageously ask the Lord to do or not do something through me to bring some small form of redemption, even when I might not see it appreciated?

Think about those estranged from you… Can the Lord trust you with His plan for them? It might take time, sacrifice, hard decisions like letting go… or embracing… but isn’t that what life is for?

However flawed our journey, it was certainly true of my stepmother’s life for me.

Tribute to My Mom
When I was young, I never thought I would really like you. I could not have been more wrong. 

It took a while, but then we didn’t see each other very often, usually just for a few hours on Sunday afternoons.  You were my dad’s new wife, and I’d watch you, test you, trying to see what you were made of… You didn’t flinch.

Instead you baked homemade birthday cakes with lollipops sticking out the sides. You helped Dad arrange summer drives for giant ice-cream cones at Measumers and winter fun like shooting down the icy toboggan run at Sheridan Park. We camped in Canada and played make-believe in the fields behind the house on Grand Island. You taught us to create candles, to build plastic signs and to make up when we siblings argued. Still, I didn’t exactly know what to think about you… “my Sunday mother.”

When I was a wayward teenager, Dad and you took me in. I continued the testing… Although we rarely saw things the same way, we enjoyed some pleasures like shopping for clothes and eating huge bowls of ice cream in the evenings while watching Vanna White turn the letters on Wheel of Fortune.

I finally pushed you and Dad away completely and set out to do life on my own.  Years went by and the only time I saw you was when I snuck in the back of the church at Grammy’s funeral. You hugged me, and I stayed behind in the end pew and cried for hours.

Then, I got sick. Very sick.

That’s when we connected. That’s when I knew I liked you for real, and I’d love you forever.

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t wrap my brain around having a debilitating disease that constantly threatened to steal my life. I wanted out in the wrong way. Thankfully, you and Dad showed up in my life – again.

You spoke to me like everything mattered. You told me circumstances happened for reasons we sometimes don’t understand; but if I could find faith to believe, I’d see the answers, even if they were not the ones I wanted.  I hated those words, but I clung to them because I knew they sustained me. I knew it was my right way out.  In spite of myself, you always made sure I was encouraged when you left the hospital. You forced me to have hope.

After I stabilized, the pep talks continued, your assistance found me a place to live, your help got me started in college, you and Dad drove me to New England where I entered Bible school. On holidays, I’d travel down to Florida to stay with you and Dad. You mothered me – something I desperately needed.

I could go on about the special times at Tarpon Springs munching on gyros and Friday Flea Market where we’d hunt for treasures, and preparing for church teachings together, and eating lunch at Ryans (Dad always got his desserts before eating!) and afternoons lounging around the pool. You saved my life – literally – from drowning.

I shared with you my dreams of being a missionary, and you didn’t bat an eye, even when others thought about the impossibility of my weakened body.
  
“Do it.” you’d say, “Get prepared and go.”

I did, and that’s why I’m not there right now, sitting next to my sisters and brother at your memorial service. I’m here, in Kenya, in Africa, doing what you agreed I could do.  I’m here ministering to widowed mamas because you pushed me.  I’m here serving neglected, handicapped children because you didn’t give up on me.  I’m here adopting a child from a hard place because you loved me when I was unlovable.

Your influence helped create the life I now cherish.  Who knew – the little girl that put you through the wringer would someday value your presence in so, so many ways. Was it all perfect? Heck no, but then again, nothing is.  Thanks for believing in me when I couldn’t.  I love you forever. My mom you will always be.

One last hug till I see you again…
Your grateful daughter,
 ~lisa




Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January Update 2015

Mark and I started attending a small yet captivating Bible Study on Saturday mornings. We’re watching a fascinating video series that reveals scriptural truths as they relate to the ancient lands of the Middle East.  The harsh desert environment filled with rocks and shepherds is dotted with lush oasis. This landscape paints a vivid picture that parallels life, no matter where you actually live.  Some imagery from the lessons we’ve learned applies to everyday…

“He makes my feet like hinds feet” (Psalms 18:33). The goats of the desert have feet like suction cups; always keeping them on the path they are supposed to follow, no matter how difficult the journey.

It seems we never pray for feet to walk through trials and tests. We usually pray for them to END IMMEDIATELY!  But, these hard times have their value (James 1:2-4).

Henry spent 46 days back in the orphanage. We literally begged God to release him EVERY DAY. We could only imagine the horrible toll the disruption would bring on us all, especially Henry.  When we realized he wasn’t coming back as quick as we wanted, we started praying for Henry to transition home well, without unpredictable behaviors, or tantrums, or fear. We prayed for wisdom, strength and personalized strategies for rebuilding attachment. Henry has been back with us now for 59 days. Overall, he’s readjusted better than anyone predicted.  God gave us feet to stick to the path, regardless of its tricky twists and turns.

He makes me to lie in green pastures” (Psalm 23). Sheep in the middle east are not grazed in fertile meadows or farmland, but they’re in the desert, eating tuffs of grass that grow among the rocks.

Sometimes we think about how much our kids, especially Tavin and Taleah, are missing – like special occasions with relatives, educational resources, recreational activities with friends, the abundance of choices… Sometimes, our kids truly grieve these losses and we try to help them through by modeling gratefulness, and finding fun together.  Kisumu is NOT what any teen ager would consider “green pastures;” it’s more like a desert yet, we see God providing for them daily if we look for the “tuffs” of hidden opportunities that always materialize into good times.
  
“His sheep will hear His voice” (John 10:3). The shepherds of the desert sing to their flocks, wooing them to follow so they receive a daily feeding.  Without the Shepard’s voice the sheep become lost and can’t find what they need to survive.

Although much mission research states that 80 percent of Kenyans claim to be Christian, there certainly is a huge lack of biblical teaching.  Many Kenyans in the villages are taught legalism mixed with taboos and rites. Some practice evolving syncretism - changing beliefs to fit their moods.  In town, numerous pastors preach LOUD and empty words while filling their pockets with people’s meager offerings. In spite of these challenges, the mamas we work are learning to listen to the voice of God by readings verses to each other, by participating in our weekly Bible study, by asking questions and searching scriptures for the answers. Their eagerness for truth will keep them well fed.  They are hearing their Shepard.


“Out of your belly shall spring living waters” (John 7:38).  En Gedi is a refreshing spring in the harsh Judean desert. In a seemingly barren place, full of striking desolation, a cascade of sweet water pours from the rocks to sustain life.

Kisumu, with it crime, violence, corruption and poverty can seem like a desert of wretchedness.  We sometimes feel the barrenness of working here… but words of encouragement, acts of kindness are like an En Gedi to us.  Similar to the filters we install to bring clean water into poor places, the support and prayers we receive from friends and family renews us.  God’s empowering springs strength, enabling us to keep living among the least.

Praise and prayer:
Church land crisis is OVER!  NO more intimidations from corrupt land grabbers or violence from hired thugs!  For almost a year, the church met under the constant threats of danger but God overcame and made a way for the church to have the land at minimal cost!  Construction on a security fence has started in earnest. Please pray for continued wisdom and discernment.

The children's church structure after thugs hacked it with machetes.
A new tin building and bricks to build the security fence.

Laboring together to make a place of worship.
We received an abundance of practical supplies from some very generous friends in Seattle!  The widowed/ single mamas will use these things to do charity projects, giving back to the poor in their communities. We also received some donations to purchase Luo Bibles and to help some very needy mamas subsidize the burden of school fees.  Please pray we steward these resources wisely – not fostering unhealthy dependency.

Please pray for  
  • the new mamas joining Women of Worth. May this group preserve in becoming lights to each other and their communities.
  • the people involved in the water filter evangelism project to minister effectively to new believers.
  • Among the Least Board as we evaluate and refine projects that bring practical ministry to those we serve.
Tavin’s weekdays are filled with schoolwork and his weekend’s center around basketball and ministry.  He enjoys court time at the sports ground area with local boys. He occasionally visits a street boy ministry on Saturdays. On Sundays, he hops on a “pici” to help set up the sound equipment in a huge field for worship service. He also installed water filters in the village and spent the night in a mud hut.  Please pray for him to keep pressing into God and to see success from his study efforts.


Taleah loves school (a first!). She excels at writing and art.  Currently, she traveled with some of her class to Nairobi to participate in the Model United Nations program at the UN Building.  Most of the time we find Taleah outside with her bunnies, kitten and chickens. Please pray for her to keep pursuing God and know His plans for her are good.

Henry is readjusting well overall. He experiences developmental delays but is improving in some areas of speech.  He continues to have problems regulating his emotional outbursts and difficulty self-soothing, but this highly independent, caring, FUNNY boy enjoys his family and we adore him. Please pray for him to keep building healthy attachments.

Mark and Lisa are meaningfully busy and happy - most of the time! Occasionally we enjoy some quiet evenings watching sunsets along the shore of Lake Victoria. Please pray for us to remember to communicate well when things get stressful.


Please pray for...
  • our adoption process to unfold as God intends.  With the recent moratorium on foreigners adopting in Kenya, we’re trusting and taking one step at a time. Our final post placement visit is in the beginning of February.
  • our children’s educational needs and their futures to be established in the Lord.  May they always realize that family is home as they live between two worlds. May they use their unique cross-culture experiences for good.
  • continued safety and provision and for those among the least to appreciate God as their loving Heavenly Father.

Asante sana for your prayers, encouragement and support!
hugs from the haugers
                                       Ooo0o

Saturday, January 10, 2015

HOLY: What?


HOLY.

For me, this word had gotten a bad rap. It conjured up images of stuffy, stoic scholars dressed in elaborate deceptions, sitting on shaky judgment seats while enforcing religious rules. No one trusts these delegates of fear. Or my Imagination of HOLY envisioned some pious recluses, donned in sheets of cloth, murmuring ancient sayings while wandering down dark arched halls. Whatever I might see when I heard the word, HOLY, it usually included NOT HAVING FUN. 

When I first became a believer and heard the word HOLY spoken in Sunday sermons, referring to the congregation, I shuddered with dread. UGH. I didn’t want to be HOLY. 
I wanted to have FUN - to enjoy, to laugh, to eat, drink and be merry. That word HOLY seemed to overshadow me with a dark cloud of duty, striving, critical competition and approval seeking. I rebelled. I thought, “Ok. I’ll believe in Jesus, do good to people and that’s about it. This HOLY stuff is for the birds."

Boy, was I wrong.

First, I was wrong about the word, HOLY. It didn’t mean rigid rules or hiding under sheets of cloth or stoic scholars. It met something entirely different. In defense of my misunderstanding, I’d never heard the truth about HOLY. My assumption of trying to be “good enough” looked like it was modeled well among many Christians, and that’s where my problem started. I believed a lie.

One day, in my quest to reconcile the Jesus I admired and the word HOLY, I found it…

This nugget of freedom –

HOLY: "intact, complete, taken away from common usage, designed for higher purposes."

I had been taking the word HOLY and applying it according to standards I don’t even like – standards based on appearance and not the heart.  That’s why I felt so uncomfortable in places where holiness was judged by how I did something instead of who God was making me to be. When I started meditating on HOLY as God intended; my life began reflecting a Creator who LOVES me. His ways don’t bring fierce judgment but direction on how to live a beautiful life, full of joy and destiny.

I am free to be who God made me to be. I am intact not stressed. I am complete not striving. I’m taken away from common usage – not needing to do what everyone else is doing. I’m designed for my higher purpose – to be the best me! I'm embracing HOLY.

As I continue reflecting on this understanding of HOLY, I see how God has opened doors to share it with women in Kenya. Many of these widowed mamas, single mamas, young girls are poisoned by lies – “HOLY is only for men of God, HOLY doesn’t include them. They are too poor for HOLY, too weak, too needy, too uneducated, undeserving, unloved…


This false idea of HOLY has led some to gossip about each other or even leave the faith because they thought they could never measure up.

  But I see HOLY HOPE! 
   
God reveals himself in strange ways, like sewing group discussions that lead to healthy introspection, or visiting under mango trees, sipping ruby-colored roselle tea and praying for brokenness to be healed.
   

God is showing these women Jesus was sent for them to live intact, to live complete, to leave behind common usage and embrace their higher purposes 
 of loving God and caring for others.

 My HOLY goals for 2015?
  • Let myself soberly reflect on the epistles as they relate to my journey with Jesus.
  • Entrust my family more and more to the unending security of God’s grace.
  • Move with HOLY Spirit’s gracious discernment in ministry among the least.    
“But be holy - "intact, complete, taken away from common usage, designed for higher purposes" now in everything you do, just as the Lord is holy, who invited you to be his child. He himself has said, “You must be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16.

Enjoy a HOLY new year!

    Love, ~lisa

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

This Month in Review...

It's that time where the industrious create "year in review newsletters."  Considering we post monthly updates, you might get bored with the redundancy, so here's a photo story of 
"this month in review."

Like the Kenyan weaver birds that busily build, we find ourselves 
continuing to build useful projects that serve people in Jesus name. 

The widowed/single mamas of WOW (Woman of Worth) 
enjoy prayer, bible reading and fellowship. Two more
mamas have joined us.
Although  possessing little themselves, they diligently 
work on projects to give back to those in the community 
who struggle -  we like to call this  "the widow's mite."

After 46 days back in the orphanage, Lil Man is home with us - his 
family.  Friends at the home gathered to sing, eat cake and say 
good bye (although we only live a few blocks away and he sees 
them regularly.) The sweet send off helped us transition him 
without disturbance.

Sharing cake is a tradition at celebrations and Henry
was happy to feed Moses.
 Now that Lil Man is back home, we do strange things 
like eat under the table. 
 Nothing like a 5 year old to keep you laughing!
 Helping harvest our first bananas!

We said good bye to a new, dear friend who assisted us in
 "handling" Henry's confusion while he stayed at the orphanage.
These croquet champions were all instrumental in 
encouraging us through Henry's transitions.

Serving in the village - one of the poorest districts in Kenya -
never fails to humble us.

The mamas kindness, hard work, willingness to give, to learn 
teaches us about the depth of God's grace. Ministry here is 
always mutually refreshing.
Helpful Henry. It's his gift!
Harvesting and packaging roselle tea to sell.
They distribute the profit to those in need.
Calendars used to roll paper beads are first studied with curiosity.
Lack of access to information is a root problem we're trying to change.
Henry gets an "ouchie" and the mama's rush to tend him.
Learning together how to bring God's transforming 
Word to those among the least.
Mark and David prepare a water filter for Mama Janet's
home. Janet cares for 3 orphaned girls.
With constant labor of working the garden, hand washing, caring 
for little ones, preparing cook fires and food... the ease of using
this filter to clean water amazes the mamas.
Village Chandelier

Meanwhile, back at New Life, the orphaned kiddos special 
needs join festivities of a grand opening of their new home.
A blessing to attend and photograph!

If you've followed our blog, you know about the complicated 
issues surrounding the land purchase for the local church we 
are part of. The trails were firey but God is the Great Redeemer! 
The church is now considered the rightful owner of this hotly 
contested plot. Praise Jesus! 
This month found the pastors praying 
over newly appointed leaders of various departments - one 
being our ministry partner, Carolyne. She now heads
Love in Action Ministry to the poor.
 
Pastor and Elders join hands - a three-fold cord
 not quickly broken.
Mark's service always includes everything from teaching to 
building to managing to holding babies.  Love this guy!

Lastly, we were surprised to be gifted with a trip to the 
coast for RnR we've not had in three years. A donor 
designated gesture that greatly influenced our mental health!
No more teachers or school books!
Just water time...
Kayaking...
Exploring...
Dancing...
And sand - so much sand!
Creepy things visiting the pool...
 Of course - the real RnR!

But RnR doesn't last forever so back to ministry we are passionate about. 
Please pray for us and the following situations...
  • Intercountry adoptions in Kenya have been suspended indefinitely.  Our adoption of Henry should not be affected since we are handling the process as residents and already have placement. With so many true orphans and abandoned babies in Kenya, we're praying this ruling can be overturned and adoptions will resume.  
  • For the church leaders to have have solid Bible knowledge, wisdom from above, and the character of Christ to minister in love.
  • For the mamas to continue to grow in their faith and good works that God has prepared for them.
  • That we and the team in US have wisdom in making decisions about sending a shipping container filled with ministry items to use for a resource center.
  • For the physically challenged children of Joyland who are back in the refugee camp. May they stay healthy, safe and keep focused on their heavenly Father. 
As always, we're overwhelming grateful for being able to 
live the call and for those who help make it happen.

Asante sana!
Mungu awabariki this Christmas season.
hugs from the haugers
                                                                                                  Ooo0o