Among the Least in Kenya

Among The Least’s vision for ministry is biblical and therefore a global mandate - 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. We live this vision in other nations by to equipping believers to care for orphans and widows represented in their country and help them to prevent generational patterns of oppression, prostitution and slavery.

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

Monday, March 31, 2014

What About Water?

Just turn on the tap and bingo – fresh water, the kind that drips cold from the glass and drains in one long swig, a drop trickles down your chin. Or that chilled bottle, plucked from the cooler at a sporting event on a hot afternoon; frosty condensation moistens your palm while soothing wet fills your mouth. Slug it down. Yeah. Water.  Most of us might pay dearly for it, but its available, easily accessible and clean – very clean.

So, you might ask – “What about water?”

Globally speaking, here are the facts:
  
  • 70% of the earth is water but less than 1% is drinkable.345 million people are without water access. 
  • 780 million people are without access to potable water. (That’s more than twice the population of USA.)
  • 3.4 million people die yearly from water borne disease. (That’s about the entire size of Los Angeles.)
  • Lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every four hours.
  • The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.
  • An average American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day.
  • More people have a mobile phone than regular access to safe drinking water.
  • Women and children use billions of hours collectively hauling water and finding fuel to use for boiling, valuable time that keeps them from school and income-generating work. This daily chore takes them into unsafe environments, making them vulnerable to assault. Even after the water is collected, precious energy is used to try and make it clean – sometimes the dirty water must be consumed as is, resulting in life-threatening diseases.
        (Information collected from WHO, UNICEF, ITU, UNFPA, UNDP.)

What can be done?

Realize that access to safe water can stop the poverty cycle.  By providing a means for potable water to be easily accessed eliminates the potential barriers to development – barriers like continuous illness, lack of opportunity, lost education and wasted time.  Access to safe water, introduced through the gospel message gives those living in poverty a chance to embrace a spiritual journey that changes their worldview from fatalism to divine destiny.

How can this be done?

1.  Sharing the love of God through Jesus Christ by building relationships that treat others with redeemable providence.
2.  Building and distributing low cost, effective bio=sand water filters, which remove 99.9% of pathogens that cause sickness.

Our two step goal may not provide the water, but our DIGGS program enables mamas to earn enough income to purchase unclean water at 2 ksh (about 5 cents) per liter. With the biosand filter, they can purify their water and the expense of fuel for boiling is eliminated; plus, time spent preparing to clean the water is saved.

View our first biosand water filter team building day…

Materials delivered for construction.

Lessons.

Cleaning materials through sifting.

And more sifting.

Seperating course sand from the fine - both will be used.
.
Washing the gravel chips.

Heavy work, but the mamas will say, "access to clean water is worth it."

The children help.

 
Their "short term assistance" turns to play.

Carolyne gets to use real tools, a novelty for many here, especially women.
 Securing the spout.

 
A prayer that it all holds before the cement pour.

 
Mixing gravel chips, cement and waterproof.
 
Careful leveling.

Clean up. Everybody does their part.

A hearty meal and fun fellowship.

Removing the mold and it looks good! It will cure for 7 days.
And the process is repeated!

THANKS to everyone who helped us bring potable water to those we serve in Kenya.  With a great team of nationals, bio-sand water filters are being constructed on our compound for widows and orphans.  How great is that?  They might not be able to turn on a tap or crack open a bottle, but this nifty contraption will let them pour whatever water they have and make it safe to consume. YEAH GOD.  This filter, introduced with the gospel message is effective outreach in the community.  Win Win Win! Clean water from the Living Water for those who need water.  Again - YEAH GOD!

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

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How We Live In "the Missing"

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
― C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves

It can be hard living on the mission field in a culture so foreign from our own that we constantly question: “Where do I fit? How does this work? What should be done?” Some days it’s particularly tough. That’s when "the missing” happens. We long for those close to us - whose prayers, support and encouragement carries us.  Seeing friends and family on skype becomes a soothing salve we apply generously to cover "the missing" wounds.
 
We came to Kenya because of a divine call; one we heard as young believers.  We studied missions in Bible school, got involved in cross-cultural ministries and prayed as God nurtured our vision over many years.  Funny, when we set out to follow that call we expected good things, and rightly so because God is good.  He has destiny with future and hope.  We left our comfort zone starry-eyed and determined.  Sure, we calculated the cost this adventure extracts – missed celebrations, loss of familiar fellowships, especially the lively conversations with kindred souls over comfort foods – but, when it came to actually “paying” that cost, emotions can mess with  vision. Pun intended.

So, what to do when "the missing” becomes so tangible it pierces our soft spots?

1.  Have FUN.  Yep.  Do something meaningfully silly with people and ENJOY them.

2.  Be REAL with those God sent us to serve.  Healthy relationships form out of honest ministry.

3.  Always PRAY.  Let the Lord, who heals hearts, mend the brokenness and build new bonds.

We lived this advice all the way to Kajulu, a desperately poor village where widowed mamas, both young and old, care for orphans.  Who would have guessed that regularly gathering with 12 Luo women under the shade of a mango tree would ease "the tender missing?”  Warm evening sun finds us sharing our stories, our discoveries, our food and our laughter. (Note: Being silly = ammunition against overwhelming poverty.)

God gave us friends in Kajulu; ones where comfortable chatter bypasses language differences; ones that ask probing questions because the answers expose priceless value;  ones with interest in exploring the Lord’s plans for the future - together; ones that create a sincere, “Karibu sana” - you are welcome here anytime my friend.

For those we are longingly "missing," we send you sweet shalom. For our new friends here in this far away land, abundant thanks for embracing us.  Life is simply joyless survival without all of YOU. 
 
 
Warm chatter over sweet roselle tea.


Mama Mary's humor keeps us giggling.

Mama Carol's sweet smile is contagious.

Mama Janet oversees our group with gladness.
Rice is set in the fire-less cooker to steam and in 30 minutes we 
share the soft treat.  This method of cooking saves time and fuel.


Carolyne shares an activity that focuses the conversation on Jesus.

Mamas' pick colored papers with characteristics of Heavenly Father
and share testimonies of how He blesses them.
 
Mama Rose tells of painful experiences trying to steal their destinies, 
but God's grace intervenes.


Luo Bibles are few and highly valued. To have God's
Work in their heart language speaks volumes.

With what little she has, Mama Janet cares for these orphaned girls.

So blessed with "rafikis" of like passions.

What's next?  Continual relationship based discipleship and development so 
widowed mamas are equipped to care for orphans - a pure act of worship.
James 1:27.

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

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Come to Kajulu


Along green foothills of rocky prominences surrounding Kisumu town lies Kajulu Kadero – a rural village of about 2,000 Luo; they spread across small sugar cane fields, mud huts and few concrete structures. 

The main road rides like a washed out creek slightly smoothed by picis (motorbikes) carrying passengers along its dusty banks. We bump along, watching Kenya’s daily toil.  An old mama’s head, burdened heavy with fresh avocados selling at 5 bob each (6 cents). 

Cautious children stare; their shy smiles coaxed. 

During the heat of the day stoic men, aged before their time, gather under the ancient Jacaranda’s shade to rest from the endless grind of surviving.  It seems the youth are gone – searching for pleasure in wrong places and finding a contagious death.  Widowed grandmas inherit small children and a cycle of destitution continues.

Clean water is scarce and fuel to purify dirty water is costly.  Witchcraft and spiritualism are both feared and appeased to garnish some fake blessing. But inside all this heartache we see hope - Jesus longing to reveal His love, His healing, His restoration in relationships of opportunity that creates a vibrant Kajulu that shines God’s glory.



Kajulu is where we’ll bring the next DIGGS training. 12 widowed mamas have been identified and welcomed us to join them in serving their community. Our Kenyan team of 5 will start training next Saturday, introducing Jesus Christ and a biblical plan for development.  Thanks to a special donation, we’ve been able to bring piped water to this village and a Christian family has started to make bricks and built a fishpond.   

The team will teach sanitation and construct biosand water filters with evangelism outreach.  We’ll also facilitate regular discipleship and skills training – sewing, weaving, and kitchen gardening. We’ll use things considered trash to fabricate irrigation systems, useful vessels and intricate jewelry – each skill taught with the lessons from scripture about living fruitful, beautiful lives of surrender to Jesus. The goal is to participate with the Lord and see Him design His destiny of freedom in the lives of those oppressed.
  

Although we trust God that where He leads He provides, but many have asked how they can help so here it is…


·      Our most pressing need is for Luo Bibles which we can purchase at Kisumu Bible Society for $3.00 each.



·      We also need donations for materials, supplies and transportation.



·      If you’d like to help with a donation please use our paypal account on tiltingbalance.blogspot.com or send a check to AmongtheLeast with a sticky note for Kajulu Project, Kenya.  PO Box 3543 Pagosa Springs, CO 81147



Our prayer requests are for salvation, healthy discipleship, unity, wisdom, discernment and generous humility to usher in all the Lord desires.

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