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

Saturday, January 10, 2015

HOLY: What?


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