Among the Least in Kenya

Among The Least’s vision is biblical and therefore global - to serve the least among us. We desire to walk alongside those fathering the fatherless and share the widows' burdens. By treating others as Jesus' image bearer, we teach the supremacy of Christ in all things. Our passion is to equip believers to care for orphans and widows represented in their country and help them prevent generational patterns of oppression, prostitution and slavery.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Checking in...

Wow. We feel like we fell off the grid; so we’re checking in to let you all know all is well.  The days just fly by, ministry intertwining with life. When dinner ends and dishes are washed and everything wiped clean to eliminate ants infestation and we simply want to put our feet up... but no - it’s time to bathe an overly energetic four year old and settle him into bed.  We try not to fall asleep before he does! So, here’s a quick update, praise to God and requests for prayer…

We’re “great full” to all be together and have awesome visitors share sometime with us. Daily blessed to see Becky Thompson’s smil’in face and watch best friends, Gracie and Taleah enjoy each other. 


We also enjoy hosting the lovely Shannon DeBoer whose helpful hands and inquisitiveness fits perfect. The remarkable Casey Crow’s arrival for the third consecutive summer brings joy to our hearts and the Kenyan friends who love her. We just received the next visitor - our amazing niece, Amanda Ward. 

A house full of females might make you wonder, what about the guys? Tavin volunteers at New Life Children’s Home and playing basketball with the youth. He’s a great big brother, watching the world cup with “little man.” Mark keeps active with managing the compound, men’s Bible study and driving us to minister with the widowed mamas and kiddos.


Please pray for the widowed mamas in a rural village, Kajulu Kardero. We 
received a donation to provide water filters for these precious women who serve God 
by caring for orphans in their community.
 


Please pray for the pending adoption of our “little man.” It’s more complicated than doing a 5,000-piece puzzle without the picture or all the pieces!  We’re asking God for favor with the lawyer, judge and the “official paper collecting” process.


Please pray for the DIGGS training and widowed mamas support groups to continue experiencing meaningful spiritual growth and the Sasa Living project that empowers mamas and promotes adoption fundraising.


Please pray for Casey as she ministers to the children at Joyland, initiating programs that reinforce safety from sexual abuse and promotes HIV awareness. It's time for these forgotten children to receive the right to a future of hope. 


Please pray for Shannon as she processes life in Kenya and touches people with her teaching talents. Her thoughtful service is sooo appreciated.

   
Please pray for Amanda who traveled from Sierra Leone to work with us in Kenya. Her experience with international development and sweet spirit are wonderful assets.


Please pray for Becky, who provides us with unlimited assistance, wisdom, and laughter. It's a blessing to share our vision with her.



We are so very grateful for this opportunity to spend quality time with these 
friends and family who refresh us.

Please pray for us as a family to be sensitive to the Lord’s voice and quick to 
follow His guidance that keeps us in perfect peace.


Asante sana for your prayers, support and encouragement.

hugs from the haugers  Ooo0o

Check out the mamas "Two Continent Designs" that help them provide for their children and assists adoptive families with fundraising resources. A win-win solution.  
Visit Among the Least on Facebook.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

How Do You Spell Grateful?

Teaching is a big part of the ministry here in Kenya - from discipling widowed/single mamas, to facilitating instruction for handicapped orphaned kiddos, to speaking on Sundays at our local church.  One day, as we were discussing thankfulness and recording the work the Lord has done in our lives, a young one brought me a paper where this was scratched...

I am great full.
Immediately, we wanted to correct the spelling - "No, it's g. r. a. t. e. f. u. l." but I looked at the words again and saw it...
 great full. 
Yes.  
Our lives are full of greatness.  
Full of great things like nutritious food, clean water, clothing and safe homes.  
Full of great people like supportive family and encouraging friends.
Our lives are full of God's great Spirit, empowering us 
to replace hatred with love, 
to experience glorious joy regardless, 
to surrender self-serving for kindness, 
to be faithful when believing is hard, 
to overcome bad with good,
to disarm anger with gentleness, 
to be patient in waiting, long-suffering with the difficult, and experience peace forever.  
We are full of greatness to share with those who have no hope

Will  you join your great fullness of prayer with ours?

Please pray for relationships with our Kenyan friends to continue to develop into all God has designed, and the ministry to the poor will always find its foundation in the gospel of Jesus Christ.


Please pray for the orphaned children to find their God-ordained destinies.  May they always know they are loved and belong. We welcome donations to help us with educational supplies.


Please pray for the DIGGS training. 31 widowed/single mamas have participated in this program, many are now in business and learning new skills for "SaSa Living"(http://amongtheleast.org/#top).  As a result, children are not given to orphanages; they are raised in their families.  Please pray for a resource center to open and that God keeps using the DIGGS course to change lives. We welcome donations for Luo bibles as requested by the mamas.


Please pray for us as a family.  May God's provision and protection constantly overtake us. May little man's adoption be uncomplicated, and schooling opportunities become available for all three. We welcome donations to help with educational expenses.

Asante sana and don't forget -  
"How do you spell grateful?" 
The Lord might show you a new way.

Love and prayers to you. Let us know your request 
and we will bring it before the throne room with thanksgiving.

hugs from the haugers Ooo0o

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summertime!

Yep. Summertime.  It would surely be a welcomed season if we were living in Pagosa.  Snow melt filling the river for hot afternoon tubing, Big Trains and iced chais with moms on the deck of the local coffee shop, friendly barbeques and toasted marshmallows during soft sunset evenings... hmmm... Ok, I'm digressing.


Summertime in Kenya is not marked by such drastic changes of temperature and activities.  Everything stays about the same.  Kids are not even freed from the confines of classrooms till August. We continue serving, working, studying and playing in the same chaotic routine as usual. The warm African sun merely moves in a more easterly direction. setting a few minutes later, dropping in  glowing splendor beyond the great Lake Victoria's horizon.



The BIGGEST change for us is summertime visitors!!! And we welcome them with anticipation of a child expecting Christmas, especially this year since we won't be traveling back to the States for a few weeks of furlough.  We get busy (or should I say busier) around here rearranging space to accommodate extra beds, hanging mosquito nets, scheduling meetings, organizing transportation and purchasing surplus supplies.  Short term missions brings benefits for us, the community we serve and those who travel to spend a few weeks of their summer exploring another culture so different from their own.


For us...
We get to share our lives with visitors, showing them our favorite places, our favorite people and favorite (and least favorite) foods.  We show them how to lock the security gates and run water through filters. We explain the night time noises, assuring them the backfiring tuktuks are not gunshots (smile).  These visitors become our stateside information guides and our safe place to vent frustrations. The best part of hosting visitors is watching them observe obvious extremes and then, find the place they fit; their blessings become something given, not owned.




For the community...
Here in Kisumu, scriptures interweaves into the landscape where desperate widows still gather vessels for the miraculous oil.  Orphaned children search for belonging and the lonely look for families. The gospel is preached with busy hands and steady feet and sore muscles and sweaty brows. Living it involves everything. Our community welcomes visitors with hugs, smiles and brimming curiosity. Regardless how little they might have, they long for you to partake, enjoy and release yourself like an open tap of clean water.


For our visitors...
As we physically prepare for guests, we also begin praying the influences of Holy Spirit creates radical realities for their pending experiences on this foreign field. Will you join us in prayer?
  • May they find that biblical development work is the manifestation of prophetic  transformations (Psalm 10:12-18, Psalm 68:4-10). 
  • May they participate in stories of deliverance, healing, restoration and celebrate the newness Christ brings out of degradation and corruption (Isaiah 58:6-12, Luke 4:18-19, Matthew 25:37-40).
  • May they know the rich relationships created from adversity because Jesus' blood carries us together - black and white, Kenyan and American - on this journey of forgiveness and faith; futures merge into divine destinies (Jeremiah 29:11).
We know our visitors will carry home more than souvenirs and a good tan.  Their experiences will help mold their worldview, discover God's plans for those who are among the least, and (more often than not), bring them back to  love those who need to know their Creator cares.

Yep!  Summertime!  We're excited!  Wanta come?

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


Friday, May 23, 2014

A Bird in His Hand

He carried the bird to us. His little hands, grubby, with sores and a nasty rash spreading on the forearm. The boy thought the bird was hurt and we could help. Us, being "wazungu" ("white" + missionaries = having solutions, right?)  tend towards hyper-sensitivity about cleanliness and priorities. We could have certainly overlooked the bird and gone straight to treating the small boy; but, we've learned a thing or two in our almost three years of living in Kenya.  We looked at his bird.  It was important to him so it needed to be important to us. We made a big deal about the yellow feathers and reassured him all would be fine since the bird simply acted a bit dazed.  It might have been the boy knocked him out of a tree with a stick or rescued it from a stray cat.  Who knows.  Giving the bird attention made the boy trust us, maybe even like us enough to let us help him. We found that point of contact.



Questions

How many times do we rush in and try to solve obvious problems that might need an approach that's not so obvious?

Can we be hyper-sensitive about things that matter like forgiveness, kindness and patience when we're busy fixing things? (Oh, I felt a pinch there!)

Will the help we are trying to give really help or does it just make us feel better about ourselves?
The biggest lesson I learned from this small boy was regardless of his own painful-looking condition, he was concerned about the bird and wanted it to be well.
  
"Lord, let me not be quick to think I know all the answers or be offended when someone treats my efforts with indifference.  Let me see truly and clearly so I can be 
Your hands extended."

Matthew 6-26. 
Value one another.

While writing this I received news that our local pastor's wife's sister died.  This is her second sister to die in three weeks.  With the ongoing church property issues, this is quite a blow, especially to this beautiful sister of faith.  Her name is Mary.  We'd appreciate your prayers.

hugs from the haugers Ooo0o

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Who's Outside Your Gate?

In Kenya, as in many developing nations, property is fenced with gated access. This is for both privacy and security. Most fences are fabricated from tin sheets or cement; the latter usually sports barbed or electric wire. Some only have broken glass poking along the top. All of them enhance ability to control surroundings.

     Look closely at the top of the fence. Hey, who's that "mazungu" gal in the blue?



Our current compound is encircled by thick, thorny bougainvillea. Our gate is strong and high, with a peep window; it’s always locked. A stern askari (guard) alongside vigilant dogs watch access from dusk to dawn.



This makes us “feel” secure. It erects an illusion of protection from the hard, hard life   happening “outside” the gate. Our possessions, our resources, our things are safe with us because they are ours - for us - mine - we must insulate from threats.

Of course I understand the necessity of living in a secured compound, especially since we are in a country rated “high threat zone” in the USA travel warning system. I’m very grateful for God’s provision - a preserved place to minister and raise our children.
 
Yet, as I see the imposing fences and bolted gates, some ostentatiously constructed, I start wondering how this constant, enclosed “security” and “safe-guarding” effects psyche, thinking, character, actions…. When I begin wondering about stuff like that, Scripture must set my standard.

What I found in God’s Word concerning self-preservation, the truly poor and gates challenged me…
 
Luke 16:19-31 tell a story of a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. The rich man could be anyone since he’s not specifically named. I find that symbolic. He could be me because globally, although I’m a missionary, I’m richer than 2/3s of the world. The beggar has a name – Lazarus. How many times do we forget that those less fortunate than us have names, have lives not defined by their misfortune? He was full of sores that dogs licked. Not a pretty picture and probably not something many of us actually see everyday. But the rich man, a cultured foodie dressed in the latest styles, could – if he chose to really see.

Now, I’m not going to do the whole “bleeding heart give to the poor because they have nothing” speech. Our experience working among the marginalized proves some who live in poverty can be just as materialistic and self-serving as some who are affluent. It’s always a heart issue.
 
What I am pointing out is there are DESPERATE human beings in DESPERATE situations – like Lazarus, covered by oozing sores that dogs licked; he desired to meekly eat crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. Even crumbs would have made a difference.
 
Lazarus was laid outside the rich man’s gate. Sounds like he might not have had an option about where he was put. Truly, I’ve seen conditions where innocent lives are put in terrible places and no amount of “self effort” will alleviate their suffering. Conditions like children lying helplessly crippled in tall grass where poisonous snakes hide. Infants discarded in tea fields, left for animals to eat. Young mamas, widowed and abandoned with no education but with mouths to feed, bodies to cloth and minds to school. Little ones crawling along the dirt with oozing sores, very much like Lazarus.

These are the ones God has put outside my gate.
 
Will I blame government corruption and let these continue to bear the consequences?
"…and the government will be on His shoulders…”
They are outside my gate.
 
Should I fear for my safety and security?
“Psalm 91…”
They are outside my gate.
 
Do I keep what belongs to me because I earned it?
“Give and it will be given to you…” 
 They are outside my gate.
 
I hear another verse vibrating softly in my spirit… “So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood” Hebrews 13:12.

Jesus, my Savior, my Lord, my Example – He calls me to share His suffering and invite people into His holiness bought by His sacrificial blood – outside the gate.

Did we become so preoccupied with our rights for security, for control, for possessions that we can forget to see the genuine needs just outside our gates?

You might not have physical gates the keeps you separated from the surrounding desperation, but we all have created barriers that prevent us from seeing what’s uncomfortable, to govern our experiences, to insulate our hearts from suffering. It’s not necessary to take a sledgehammer and knock down those walls before we do something.  
Just simply open your gate and look who’s there...
 
 Maybe a lonely friend is facing a horrible crisis…
 Could it be a neglected child who needs attention?
 Is it a forgotten elderly person?
 Someone lost in prison…
 Someone who is dreadfully sick…

Ask the Lord how to show the wounded His mercy, His grace, His justice.

Welcome them inside your gate.

The rest of the story from Hebrews…
 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he  endured. 14 For here we  have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer  up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.


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