Thursday, April 16, 2015

About Friends: A Story from Terrorism

Monday afternoons I travel to be with the Women of Worth Group – an organized gathering of mama’s from surrounding slum areas who do table banking, bible study and hand crafts for selling or donating. Generally I enjoy my time with these mamas. I always leave with stories or news of their experiences reverberating in my mind, tugging at my heart. This Monday was no different.

We sit at a round table in an airy hut. After songs and prayer, the mamas pay loans, savings shares and charity offerings; they bring out flannel material to continue making washable sanity pads for orphaned village girls. This is when conversations spark hot and run deep. If I’m not teaching, I usually introduce a scripture in context and ask for thoughts. “What do you think Jesus met when He said,

 'This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends. ‘ " John 15:12-15

An interesting discussion ensues:

Jackie, seriously direct, speaks boldly and laughs with passion: “Jesus wants us to obey Him since He is our friend.”

An even more direct and intimidating Janet huffs her reply: “Friends come and go. They do not obey. They are like vehicles. When one leaves, another will soon come to pick you.”

Everyone laughs. Janet defends her stand, “Is it not true? Yes. It is.”

A rare quietness settles over the group and it seems Janet begins considering how she should reintroduce her idea with a bit more clarity: “You know what happened to the students at the University in Garssia?”  Kenya mourns students.
(Kenya has faced over 50 Al Shabaab terrorist related attacks since 2011.)

All look up from their work, giving sober attention. Janet is referring to the terrorist attack on Mundy Thursday that killed 147 students in a place north east of us, about a two-day journey by bus.

“My neighbor’s daughter was killed.  My neighbor said the terrorists made the daughter call her and say she will never see the daughter again. After the daughter spoke those words – BOOM! It is when they shot her. Aye. My neighbor heard them shoot her daughter. The only girl. The 1st in family to go to University. A sacrifice for her. Imagine. Her daughter.

“Boom.” Janet whispers again slowly shaking her head. The mamas keep tracing patterns and cutting in silence.

Janet continues.

“Friends are like that situation. Hard life happens. People you know, those who love you come and go. You must be with those who can pick you up. Help you live right. I do not want to be dying with badness in me. When I die I want to have goodness. My neighbor. Her daughter had goodness. . Evil does not like good.  That is why she is in heaven now. She was Jesus' friend.”

The mamas listen, nodding their heads in agreement - something that rarely happens. 

As I sliced the black plastic lining with a sharp scissors, I felt the cutting away of ignorance. These women, whom I desired to be with, after years of stateside praying and planning, now surrounded me. I hear them applying verses to their difficult struggles to survive. Once desperately idle, I see them making something useful with their hands to share. Little bags, shoved deep into their bosoms carry extra shillings for their children’s care. My life in USA feels so very far away. All I read and researched sits before me in faces etched by incredible suffering. In the end, they want the same as I do - to bring goodness, to be Jesus' friend.

Please pray for those families who lost their children in a horrible massacre. Please pray for this hurting world to seek the God of goodness and become Jesus' friend.

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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March Update 2015: I Don't Believe in Prayer

I don’t believe in prayer.

Interesting title for a missionary prayer update, huh?

Well, it’s true. I don’t believe in prayer.


I do BELIEVE IN GOD who responds to prayer.

Does it seem like I’m mincing words?  Well, I think language can help us focus on truth, which engages faith.

Believing in prayer makes me think the results are based on my method, my effort, my performance.

Believing in God who responds to prayer focuses on our relationship with a loving heavenly Father who’s full of mercy and grace. The bible says He desires communicating with us, His children. He uses prayers to line our will up with His divine providence. He moves mountains that stand in the way of His manifestation in our lives.

Will you pray with us and believe God?

1. For the Lord’s hand to continue to direct those who have authority over adoption in Kenya.

2. For pending plans to travel to USA late summer for an extended furlough to get some much needed attention concerning our kids’ medical needs and schooling.

3. The shipping container project is on hold, and since the Kenyan church now owns the hotly contested property, (miracle story!) it’s less expensive to build a resource center structure and move ministry there. Please pray for this process to unfold without unnecessary complications.

Church after a gang attack last year.
Mark praising the Lord for the new security fence and future site of the Moriah Resource Center.
4.  The wonderful family who rented our Pagosa home over the last three years bought a home and is moving out. If anyone knows of someone who needs a place… We’re doing short-term rental for 6 months with option to extend. We’re praying for the right connection.

5.  For the widowed/single mamas to keep finding the Lord in their ever challenging lives. May their busy hands be profitable for the children, community and God’s kingdom. Discipleship in Kenya, especially to the forgotten, endures as our heart’s passion. We’ve witnessed the transformation biblical teaching makes in these mama’s lives. Please pray especially for new mamas who joined WOW – Riel, Grace, and Josephine.

              Asante sana for your prayers, support and encouragement.
           hugs from the haugers  OooO0

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Redemption: Full Circle

With his mother gone for 3 years and his father in a freshly dug grave, how would he live?

The question pierced George’s 13-year-old mind like a dull needle pushes in and out of a shabby cloth, trying to mend a tear that ruined its usefulness. That’s how George’s life was becoming – unfixable, useless. He constantly felt pricked by thoughts of abandonment and rejection. No one claimed him. His father’s older brother took advantage of him, selling off the land, claiming he would use the money to pay George and his brother’s school fees. He didn’t. Instead he threatened the boys with a machete, chasing them away from any sympathy a villager might want to show.

George was an orphan. So many orphans already fighting for opportunity, for attention, for acceptance, for love, George needed to find help.

By avoiding his crazy uncle, George worked odd jobs, earning enough to pay school fees. A few village mamas’ secretly help him. Afraid of the Uncle's wrath, they hid food in the bushes for George and some collected shillings to buy him a pair of used shoes. He survived, strengthened by the village mamas’ mercy and prayers.

Years passed and now George is a man with a family of his own. He works a full time job as a ground’s foreman at an orphanage. He attends night school, studying to become an accountant. When the crazy uncle died, it was George who organized the funeral and paid the bills.

God heard the village mamas’ prayers and saw the acts of kindness they showed to George. He has become proof that compassion in Jesus name brings redemption.

Full circle.

Today, the mamas’ that aided George in his distress are old, some widowed, many caring for orphaned children. They belong to the Kajulu Group – a collection of beautifully real women who face hard lives with soft hearts.  George connected us with them. It’s his way of saying thanks for their provisions and prayers so many years ago.

Our symbiotic relationship with these mamas offers sweet fellowship over roselle tea, stewed kuku and millet ugali. Together we’ve learned to make liquid soap for them to sell.  We’ve found small market for fireless cookers.  We’ve cleaned media to fill biosand water filters. We share God’s Word. To see George sitting with these mamas, laughing, talking, planning for the future... God's miracle.

This hope-filled story of reciprocal care is not Kenya’s norm. 
  • For the average two million orphans, 9 out of 10 live in poverty and never complete their education.  
  • 40% of children age six to 16 are part of the work force.   
  • Women make up more than 50% of the population, but many are poor and illiterate. A large number are still affected by customary practiced that perpetuate oppression, especially among widows. Coping strategies for these mamas involves exploitive labor, including forced sex work.
Our goal is Kenya is to encourage mutual care in the name of Jesus. The poor, namely orphans and widows can thrive in their communities if three things continue to happen:
  1. Building biblical foundations for family sustainability.
  2. Teaching skills training coupled with discipleship for healthy Christian living.
  3. Praying for wisdom, mercy and grace in service to one another.

Like Elijah and the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:9 – 24), God offers us all opportunities for redemption.

Full circle.

How do you share your redemption story? Be sure to pass it on.

asante sana for your prayers, support and encouragement,
hugs from the haugers

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

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,

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