Archive for June, 2009

From Geoffrey to you; When it rains it pours and sometimes you get rainboots and an umbrella

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Sunday June 28, 2009

When it storms and the grounds are flooded sometimes you get an umbrella and rain boots

This drought has affected so many people. The great expectations of abundant rainfall for the past two rain seasons have only been met with great disappointment. I have been told that this is one of the worst droughts that the people of this area have been ill-fated enough to endure. In an area like this where most people earn their living and attain their food from farming their land, when no rain comes for two consecutive seasons you can expect that everyone has been affected in one way or another. Fruits and vegetables that Masii used to be able to grow and provide themselves, are now brought in from other parts of the country, the supply is diminishing and yet the need continues to grow, the prices go up.

The majority of people here earn their living from selling their crops, since they haven’t had a harvest this past year they haven’t made any money, this hits everyone where it hurts. Businesses don’t have customers because affording luxury items is out of the questions. School fees are exorbitant and without a good harvest are seemingly impossible to attain. Food and water, the basic necessities of life, are things that people are struggling to afford. What is a father to do when no work can be found, he hasn’t made money off of his farm in over a year, and he has children to feed? The needs are overwhelming and have only increased with time. I can’t walk through the market without someone pleading with me to pay for their child’s schools fees or to give them food. What are you to do when you have dozens of people that have brought their needs, very essential needs like food, to you and are importuning? Who do you help? I feel so guilty sometimes when I am buying food or spending money, I am able to eat so much and live in such comfort and yet these people to my left and right, my literal neighbors, are suffering so much.

I can remember growing up poor. I remember my mom buying the horrible tasting powdered milk and mixing it in our over-sized, plastic, orange bowl. I remember eating a lot of Top Romin along with Mac and Cheese. My mom called us “smart shoppers” because we lived by coupons and the generic brands. I remember when my dad was in between jobs. I remember when my mom had to manage apartments in order for us to get the rent to a low enough rate in which we could afford. I remember making many trips to thrift stores. I remember going around the neighborhood washing cars and holding garage sales trying to make a few bucks and then I remember what it was like being able to afford things like my first C.D. and a new pair of shoes (an expensive one not one from Payless, though now I dig Payless). Everything is still fresh in my mind.

Whenever I spend money I can’t stop thinking about some of the misfortunes, pleas and situations that have been brought to my attention and remember the difficulties we faced growing up. I can’t stop thinking about the woman who is about to have a child, but her husband is in jail and she has no source of income. I can’t stop thinking about the young man who graduated from high school a few years ago and needs his diploma to get a job but can’t pay off his school fees. I can’t stop thinking about the mother who has a very sick son in the hospital but isn’t able to pay her bill. I can’t stop thinking about that woman who is kept in an oppressed state by her mother and isn’t allowed to get a job but at the same time isn’t provided for. I can’t stop thinking about all of the single mothers who struggle to make ends meet. I can’t stop thinking about the malnourished children who live in an area dominated by drug dealers and prostitutes. I can’t seem to get out of my mind the idea of going to school and walking these rough roads shoeless. I can’t stop thinking about what it must be like to go to bed without dinner. I can’t stop thinking about what it must feel like to be a man and the provider of the family and yet being unable to actually provide. I can’t stop thinking about how demeaning and humiliating a young woman must feel to have to resort to prostitution. I tell you that some of the pains, struggles and situations that the people here are forced to endure are horrendous and it pains me so much. The needs are copious but the resources are scarce.

If there were ever a time in which someone could justifiably hoard, take and focus merely on their own needs it is now, and yet that isn’t the case. The poverty is extreme but the benevolence seems to outshine it. People are in a situation where they aren’t capable to give and yet they do. Last night I went to a meeting for the missions committee for our church. This is a small group of people who have great hearts and want to do whatever they can to meet the needs of the oppressed and those who are suffering; we need more people like them in the world. These individuals aren’t rich by any means but are willing to give more of their time, resources and money than most. They were able to come up with enough money to pay for Janet’s operation, imagine that they were able to do that in a time when no money can be found; amazing. They were able to help raise enough money to pay for Carro’s surgery and now this young crippled child is going to have the ability to walk. They have distributed food to those with nothing. They have given beds to people who’s entire family slept on the ground on a pad. They have gathered clothing, sheets and other goods that they are going to circulate. Right now they have nothing in the bank, but that doesn’t stop them. They have so many plans and ideas for helping others that no amount of financial burden can hinder. With a very small amount of money they have been able to act as a catalyst in encouraging others to help and have been able to meet the needs of so many individuals. I know they are going to accomplish great things and are meet the needs of many individuals, I can’t wait to see what they accomplish and feel blessed to be a part of it. Though the needs are immense and those in need seem to be countless but I know that the impact that this small group of people will be able to make is going to be even greater.

This situation seems to big to handle and like any attempt at helping is futile, but in this dark situation sometimes a group like this appears. They are a beacon of light, an answer to prayer and a Godsend. Be encouraged.

Geoffrey

Prayer Requests:
The recover of Janet’s eyes
This Missions Committee
Carro’s recovery
Stacy’s wheelchair… It was supposed to be here five weeks ago
Tumaini Medical Center

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From Geoffrey to you; week one

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Saturday June 27, 2009

Week One

I used some of the money you all gave me to help a girl start a dry cleaning business here in Masii. To give your mind a refresher, Sarah was really abused in her work place before. She has an education and a good head on her shoulders but she was stuck in this oppressed state. She was incredibly overworked and severely underpaid, to make matters worse her boss began to demand that she stop taking her day off and work without an increase in pay. The amount of money she was being paid was peanuts, I don’t think she was able to eat three substantial meals a day and I noticed she was losing a lot of weight. She started praying about opening her own business and about being freed from this situation. She set a date to quit her job and to start her own business, take in consideration that she didn’t have enough money at this time to even start her business but she did it in faith.

It has been a little over a week since her business opened and her profits from one week are more than she was being paid for an entire month. Before she even opened her shop she had a pile of clothes from people who had heard about the business. She has already started giving back by giving side jobs to other people that are struggling to make ends meet. She has more money, better food, better hours and can never been seen without a smile.

Purchasing this washing machine has completely changed her life. It’s hard to think that something like a washing machine can really transform a life, but it can.

Geoffrey

Prayer Requests:
Janet got home today from her operation. They said it went well. She is going to be going for a check up in a little over a week. They say that she will have fully recovered and will be able to see in two weeks time. Pray for her recovery
Stacy’s wheel chair was supposed to be here five weeks ago…. We have their word that it will arrive on Monday, but then again we had their word that it would get here yesterday and then again two weeks ago. Please keep praying for this
RAIN. Another cow dropped down dead today in the market because of having no food or water.
Zacks Chemotherapy
My Aunts recovery

Randoms:
I was visiting Janet and her daughter today. I had her daughter sitting on my lap and she peed. She is about 2 1/2 … that was fun ha ha
A little boy asked me to help him with his science homework today. I now know how my parents must have felt when I would ask them questions about a subject they studied AGES ago… I had no idea what the heck it was talking about, I was of little help. The funny thing is that the only thing I knew was the stuff about sexual reproduction. He is in sixth grade and I guess it is that time to learn about the anatomy. I couldn’t help but laugh as I answered his questions and then he was laughing as he read them to me. Man oh man am I immature.
We had our all night prayer and worship last night… a drunk guy from Kosovo came… and then started acting up ha ha… come as you are right?
I hate getting mosquito bites on the middle of your back where you can’t reach it

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From Geoffrey to you; Why

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Wednesday June 24, 2009

Why

There is this little kid that is what you call a matata (trouble maker). He runs around and hits other kids. When you try to tell him to apologize he screams and wails as if he is the victim, even if you see him hitting and mistreating the other kids. He doesn’t seem to respect authority, if you tell him to sit he stands and if you tell him to stand up he sits. I see this little boy all of the time, he goes to our church and lives near me. He always joins in with the other children in screaming out “mzungu” and chasing after me to get my attention. This little boy has gotten under my skin a few times because of how he treats the other little kids and I think I know why.

It reminds me of the phrase, “hurting people hurt other people.” I know that I can be a beast if I am in a bad mood. When I was younger and going through my storm in life I hated school, didn’t have many friends and this was mainly because I treated them all so horribly. The reason I treated them all so horribly was because I was hurt myself and was angry at the world because of it. I’m not a shallow puddle, I am deep and the person you see today is the reflection of every moment, situation and experience of my entire life; our past forms us into who we are.

The mother of this child had apparently been seeking me out and managed to tract me down today. She told me her situation and the environment in which this boy has been raised in and it is no wonder that he acts the way he does. He has experienced a lot of pain and bad things, he is hurt.

Today I was reminded of a lesson that I learned a long time ago and that is that my heart needs to understand someone’s past before I look at their present. I need to approach the unapproachable with an open mind and understand that their whole life made them the way they are just like my whole life, both good and bad parts of it, has formed me into who I am today. We shouldn’t simply brush someone off because of their rough exterior, we need to be willing to dig in deep and ask “why.” Why are they this way? Why do they behave that way? Why are they so angry or sad?

I think I also need to be reminded that people can change and lives can be transformed. I know I wasn’t much to look at six years ago but I am proud of who I am now and that is because I had people stop and ask why I acted the way I did and were willing to dig deep in me. We never really know the potential of the person that we brush off and walk past. Imagine where we would be in life if everyone kept on walking and no one was willing to dig in deep and ask why.

My hope is that I would be willing to stop and ask why, instead of walking past and brushing someone off.

Please pray for Janet, she is having her operation today.

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From Geoffrey to you; At peace

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Monday June 22, 2009

At Peace

It seems like no matter where I go, what corner I turn or if I am even looking for it, I always seem to stumble across some of the most inspiring people and their stories. I have heard of a man who started with a chicken and is now bumping elbows with the richest people in Kenya and has more lands and businesses than we could ever dream of having. I have run a muck and laughed till my sides were about to burst with people who at one point tried to commit suicide. I have friends that are the definition of oppressed, and yet they continue to press on and work. I know people who give away more than they take in. I know people who are willing to give away the last of their food to others in worse circumstances. I know people who have become such great successes that their life story blows the concept of rags to riches out of the water. The people I have met are willing to give when they have nothing, pray to encourage others, serve even though it seems like their days don’t come with enough hours to get everything done, have had their lives transformed, and are the definition of perseverance.

There is a young girl who I met within the first few days of my arrival here. She always has a smile on her face, is sometimes shy but in a friendly way and always seems to be helping her guardian either in her shop, by preparing food or by cleaning. She is a great friend and I always enjoy spending time with her and her relatives. She is sponsored by Tumaini and I finally heard her story the other day.

Her parents died of AIDS before this girl was old enough to remember. For the majority of her life she was raised by an aunt and a few years ago she moved in with another aunt, both of them treated her pretty poorly. She was never good enough and was given the red-headed step child treatment. She wasn’t given adequate amounts of food, she told me that she always had to eat the remains from previous days instead of fresh food. Her schooling wasn’t much of a priority for her guardians so she struggled a lot trying to go to school. She has a scar on her cheek and I asked her where it came from. She said that she had been told to do the dishes and didn’t clean them well enough and was severely beaten because of it. She wasn’t allowed to leave her house. She was emotionally and physically abused. She spent most of her life feeling as though she wasn’t of value or worth. The conversation made a turn for the better when she told me about the day she received a letter from Tumaini saying she was sponsored.

Tears had been building up in her eyes as her story unfolded, but the second she mentioned the remarkable day that the acceptance letter came her face lit up… it was an answer to prayer and she knew that her life was about to change for the better. Soon afterwards she ended up moving in with another aunt here in Masii. Between this aunt and Tumaini her life has been transformed. She told me that living here for these past few months have been the most incredible of her life. This is the best part of her life. She said that she has never felt loved like she does now and that life had never been so good. You know why she said life was so good? Because she gets to eat regular food, she gets to go to school, she has a family that loves and accepts her, when her clothes get old she is given new ones, and when she is invited to go out she is given permission to leave the house. It is amazing how an ordinary life for some of us is a dream come true for others.

This girl had a horrible life but it was transformed the day that she got that letter from Tumaini. I feel so privileged to be working with this organization.

I hope you are all doing well

Prayer Requests:
I am leaving tomorrow morning at 4 am to take Janet to the eye clinic and Carro to get her head checked up on. Travels… the roads and other drivers can be vicious
Janet’s eye surgery
Zacks Chemotherapy
Discernment for myself for some pretty big decisions

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From Geoffrey to you; They never cease to amaze me

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

Saturday June 20, 2009

They never fail to inspire me

I have written about the Tumaini Alumni Alliance a few times. If you missed out on reading about it let me fill you in. The T.A.A. is an inspiring group of young adults that have graduated or are near to graduating from high school because of Tumaini. They were in a very tough situation themselves until Tumaini came in and enabled them to go to school, now they want to give back to the less fortunate. They began this past year and targeted an extremely poor family in the community and together came up with just over $30 to buy food for this family and they also made them chairs. They have taken on other works within the community as well including providing food and goods to the poor, visiting the sick, and beautification projects for the Tumaini property. Today we set out for another adventure.

We traveled a short distance to meet a elderly woman who is caring for her three grandchildren who were orphaned by AIDS. This woman was chased off her property by her husband who is apparently a drunk. With no where to go and little money she moved into an apartment, that is just one room, with her and her three grandchildren. In her old age she does small jobs in the local farms to try to earn a little money for her and her grandchildren. The problem, however, is that this drought has hurt the farms which affects her. Most people are affected by this drought which makes finding small jobs difficult. Her rent is $5 a month and yet that is a struggle. Thankfully Tumaini has been able to step in and send two of her grandchildren to school and helps to meet those two children’s needs.

We pulled up this afternoon and brought bags full of food and all sorts of goods. The T.A.A. heard about the troubles this woman was facing and the overwhelming amount of despair and wanted to help. The T.A.A. was able to touch, yet again, another life. Each time I meet with the T.A.A. or hear about their works I am inspired and consider it a blessing. They encourage me to step up and step out.

I mentioned that two of the three children are sponsored by Tumaini, the brother of the two named Kilanzo he is nine years old and is on the waiting list to be sponsored. He is one of the cutest little boys you could ever meet and wants to be a police officer when he grows up. The odds are stacked up against him and he is in a situation where he needs help. I know that these are just words you are reading and that the pictures I send are of me standing with people you may never see, but understand that on the other end of these words and of the picture is a small boy who desperately needs help. I know many of you sponsor children, support different philanthropic works but I am presenting this boy to all of you and asking for someone to sponsor him. I know that $30 a month doesn’t sound like much and it seems like it doesn’t make a difference, but the truth is that it does. I ask that if you are able and willing please sponsor this young boy. Your $30 a month will literally be answered prayers and change a life forever.

I thank you all for your time and hope you are doing well.

Geoffrey

Prayer Requests:
Janet’s Surgery
Discernment for myself
Travels for Jason and John
Medical Center for Tumaini
Zacks chemotherapy and recovery
My aunts recovery

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From Geoffrey to You; Hello Everyone

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Hello everyone,

I just wanted to give you all a little update on a few things. There was a girl I wrote about a few weeks ago that was being exploited in her work place. She was working ten hours a day, seven days a week for less than one dollar per day. I used some of the money you all gave me and bought a washing machine for her to do dry cleaning. Her shop is all together now and she is just about to open. The funny thing is that she has already gotten a TON of business without advertising or even opening yet. Thank you everyone who supported and helped with this.

We raised enough money for Janet’s eye operation. We are leaving Tuesday morning at 3 AM (waking up will sure be a challenge) to make sure we get to the eye clinic early. She will be operated on Wednesday and come home Thursday. The following week she will be able to take off the bandages. I am going to record her taking off her bandages and her being able to see for the first time in over six months so that you can all share in the experience. We are also going to be taking Carro, the girl with hydrocephalus, to a hospital a little further than the eye clinic to get a check up. Her mother is trucking along with her charcoal business and seems to be doing quite well with that and her pregnancy.

The button for my camera fell out Wednesday. The actually button you push to snap the shot is what I am talking about. So if I want to take a picture I have to shove a safety pin in this little hole and wiggle it… ha ha. I look really funny taking pictures ha ha.

Prayer Requests:
Janet’s surgery and recovery
Zack and his chemotherapy
My aunt and her recovery from the stroke
The dry cleaning business you all helped start

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From Geoffrey to you; Days like today

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Wednesday June 17, 2009

Days like today

Do you like getting hugs? Of course you do, who doesn’t? When you have been tossed around a few good times by life or haven’t seen someone for ages a hug seems to come naturally. There are a few different types of hugs. There are two really bad ones and I don’t know which one is worse. One of them is a side hug with a light pat on the back, wow slap me in the face why don’t you. The second is when you see someone and you go for a handshake and they go for a hug and then there is an awkward moment when you switch to a hug and then he goes for a handshake, you walk away feeling like a jerk for going for a handshake when they went for a hug. You have the bear hugs when it feels like the incredible hulk is trying to snatch the air out of your lungs. There are some that are really gentle and you feel like you aren’t really being hugged at all, I don’t like these ones. Lastly is the most sincere one. Have you ever been overwhelmed by life or a situation, cried your eyes out and felt completely alone and in your darkest hour you had someone wrap their arms around you? Have you ever had someone answer your prayers and your arms wrap around them, bite your bottom lip, and your head drops onto their shoulder as you thank them? This is the type of hug I got today.

I went with Tumaini to deliver food to families today. We walked up to the first home with about 45 kg of dried corn and beans, oils, salt, tea, gas, cooking fat, rice and a few other things. Before we were able to speak any words a very old woman walked up to me and embraced me. I didn’t get a side hug. She didn’t pat my back. She didn’t give me a bear hug. She wrapped her arms around me in the most sincere and genuine way I have ever experienced and she held on. It was one of thankfulness and was one of those moments you wished lasted forever.

It turned out that she cares for seven grand children and her husband. Her daughter died of AIDS a few years back and Tumaini supports her and her grand children. Her husband became paralyzed this past year and spends each day lying on a wooden bed unable to move himself. The food we were able to bring was an answer to prayer and gift from God for this family because of this horrid drought. This was enough food to feed them for a couple of months.

Have you ever been in a position where in your hands you carried the answer to someone’s prayers? Day after day they cry out to God for help and you are fortunate enough to have been chosen to be the answer to those prayers?

I had pretty much the same experience with the other visits today as well… days like today inspired, encourage and drive me forward. I thank God for days like today.

Geoffrey

Prayer Requests:
The travels of Jason and John
Sarah’s opening business, the one I used some of the money you gave me to start
Janet’s eye operation
Zack, he is starting his chemotherapy soon
My Aunt and her continual recovery from the stroke
Getting Stacy’s wheelchair… still waiting… argh

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From Geoffrey to you; Snowballs and sleepless nights

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Tuesday June 16, 2009

Snowballs and sleepless nights

I like to go into an empty room by myself and let my mind loose; I could spend hours laying on a bed dreaming big dreams. Each time I do this and let my mind out of the cage, while paying no attention to obstacles and limitations, I start with one small dream and it gets bigger, grander and flirts within the brinks of impossible; I love to do this. I am amazed at the ideas, aspirations and inspirations that surface during these dreaming sessions. Sleepless nights give me the greatest amounts of encouragement and seem to open my eyes to the next chapter that life seems to offer. I can’t tell you how many times I have been dead asleep and abruptly woken up just by the need to write down an idea for a sermon, ways to help someone, ministries to start or lessons. I found that every time this happens it is seemingly impossible for me to go to sleep if I don’t write the idea or concept down, but then when I write it down I start thinking about it and it starts to snowball into some immense dream; I love this. I love sleepless nights. I love dreaming big dreams, especially dreams that are impossible. I love being so excited and inspired to do something that I have to tell someone. I love it when my mind snowballs a small dream into something big and impractical.

The last few days have been a breath of fresh air. Two Americans from Wisconsin made their way to Masii to teach leadership skills to our new church; this has been incredible for our congregation but I feel like it has been even more incredible for me. I spent the entire day yesterday with one of them, we gabbed for hours about church, God and life. After the whole ordeal my ticker got a jumpstart, I feel as though I was dreaming so much that aspirations were seeping out of my pores, I can’t even deny that God used that man to ignite something within myself that is far bigger than me. I couldn’t wait to part with him, not because I didn’t enjoy our conversation but because I couldn’t wait to go into my empty room and simply dream. I could hardly wait to let my mind go, to think of the impossible, to snowball something small into something huge. It haven’t had a sleepless night for a while, maybe my batteries just needed recharging or I needed to get away from the busyness of life I’m not sure why but I know that last night it seemed as though I didn’t sleep a wink.

One of the reasons that I decided to come to Kenya and to later make my way to Mexico is because I felt like I had lost something. I felt as though I had lost that all-consuming passion just to serve and was missing my heart. I felt like I had lost the ability to dream big dreams. I felt like my desires became mundane and too limited, I felt like I had lost that umph to strive and reach beyond the stars and to think within the realm of the impossible. I felt like I was going through the motions and was missing the heart behind everything I was doing. It was gone; the sleepless nights, snowballing, dreaming… it was all gone.

I found it again. I feel as though I found what I traveled to the other side of the world for. As I laid there last night I found myself in a flood of more dreams, desires, ambitions, aspirations, inspirations, muses and encouragement than any amount of words would ever justifiably articulate. During the wee hours of this morning, after being prodded and had my eyes opened by this new friend, I found it.

Prayer Requests:
I have a lot of thinking to do, a lot of things I need to plan out and a lot of decisions to make
Janet and her eye surgery
The leadership of MCC
The different projects for Tumaini and the funding for them

Randoms:
The country director of Tumaini is named Paul and he cracks me up. He came to America this last year and was telling me stories about it today, I nearly peed my pants. He went to Universal Studios apparently. He told me about going on the jarassic park ride. He said that when it dropped down the little hill that he thought the ride was broken and that he was trying to get off and jump out cause it would sink, but the lap belt wouldn’t let him. He was telling my old roommate about the ride and remembered the part of a dinosaur spitting on him and being chased by them. Then him and I talked about the back to the future ride, apparently we both got sick off of it even though it doesn’t actually move anywhere. He went to Venice beach and talked about the buffed up guys and the weirdos. He cracks me up so much. Too funny

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From Geoffrey to you; Wounded Healers

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

Saturday June 13, 2009

Wounded healers

As I have been reflecting upon my trip thus far I realize that I have heard both stories of great encouragement and some of incredible tragedy. I have become all too familiar with the selflessness and benevolence of the Kenyan people and hope that one day I can display a fraction of their love for others. I have been inspired by the willingness of some to go without so that others can have. My heart has been broken as I have heard time and time again of children been orphaned by AIDS and disease and then the all consuming passion within me is constantly ignited as I see members of the community and of the family taking in these orphans and providing for them. Our definition of community and loving others doesn’t come close to the genuine nature of those whom I have been blessed enough to meet here. The sincerity of their cries of worship and praise are unfathomable. The past three and a half months has been filled with countless extraordinary people and innumerable encounters of munificence in the flesh. Though I have been encouraged, moved and inspired by the compassion and authentic faith of this society I can help but commiserate as I look upon the extreme poverty, destitution, famine, and oppression.

It seems as though every family and person has been affected in one way or another from this horrid drought. Many local farmers are lacking both food to eat and a product to sell. The prices of some foods have skyrocketed exponentially. Herders are finding that their cattle are dying because they don’t have grass to graze on or water to drink. I have had countless parents plead with me to pay for school fees. It seems like each day I am stopped and asked for money or a loan. To be completely honest with you all, sometimes the needs seem a little overwhelming.

Don’t misunderstand what I am saying, I still feel as though my time here isn’t in vain and that I am making a difference and I still feel as though the ways I have spent money you have given me is in a productive way. It is just that the needs seem to grow but the bank isn’t (please don’t think I am asking for money because I’m not you have all gone above and beyond to support our work here). I guess what I am trying to say is that I have been wondering how these needs were going to be met.

I have written about Mama Carro a few times and in the last update I informed you all that she is seven months pregnant without a job or any source of income. I went by her home last night and found that she had begun selling charcoal for a job, low expense but a pretty substantial profit. This is going to be a stable income for this family because no matter how badly the people are affected by this drought charcoal is a necessity so her business shouldn’t be affected. The biggest problem was just purchasing the initial product to sell.

A few weeks ago our church chose a few people to head up a ministry created specifically to meet the needs of the people of Masii and within our congregation. This group has already enabled Mama Carro to provide for herself and her family. They have also raised enough money to send Janet to the eye clinic and are working on raising the funds for her operation in two weeks. We now have people bringing in food, clothing and goods to be distributed to those in need. These few individuals have been able to mobilize and act as a catalyst to our congregation towards meeting the needs of the community.

One of the most incredible aspects of this is that those who are leading this ministry aren’t in the best positions themselves, they aren’t rich and they themselves have many needs. The truth is that these individuals make up an army of wounded healers, they themselves may be impoverished or going through difficult ordeals but they are willing to set aside their troubles for others. I can’t help but be encouraged and inspired by their tenacity and their love for others.

There are many people who are suffering a great deal and there are many needs in Masii, but I feel as though these sufferings will one day come to pass as these few individuals continue to see a need and meet it.

Just goes to show you that you don’t have to be perfect or the best in order to help someone else. I’m a wounded healer, but I know that God has a way of using the broken and flawed to do great works.

Thanks,

Geoffrey Nighswonger

Prayer Requests:
Janet’s eyes
MCC leadership
The continual recovery of my aunt that had the stroke

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From Geoffrey to you; Flimsy Bridges and watch thieves

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Thursday June 11, 2009

Flimsy Bridges and Watch Thieves

I spent most of yesterday visiting Nairobi and it turned out to be quite the productive day. I was able to get the extension for my stay, meaning I wont get deported ha ha. We were able to pick up a sick Tumaini girl to take her to the new medical center. We were able to buy the washing machine for our friend, this is to help her start her own small business which is such a huge blessing (even though it took us a while to figure out how to put it in the van because it was so big). We went to this place that is like a giant walmart to buy it, I got to buy chocolate but was a glutton and ate it all already (big mistake my stomach hurts). The coolest place we visited was one of the slums of Nairobi, no idea how to spell it but I think that it is something like Mathere… that is my best guess.

Think about thousands and thousands of small shacks stacked side by side. Some buildings are made of stone, but it seems like the vast majority were made from sheets of metal and planks of wood. The spaces between these shanties were sometimes ridiculously small and small rivers ran along most of the walkways, they were rivers of waste and sewage. To get in to Mathere we had to cross a flimsy bridge that was basically half of palette of wood, I am REALLY thankful I didn’t slip and fall. The walkways, walls, and ground was completely covered with garbage. The initial walk way had so much garbage covering it that it seemed a little springy. The smell was pretty intense, I’ll just leave it at that. This was the epitome of poverty.

A place where there is great suffering is a place of great opportunity. A place like this is the perfect place for someone to use what they have been blessed with to help someone else, to give back, and that is exactly what people are doing. Groups, organizations and churches have helped this area in different ways, one of them is called Community Transfomers.

Community Transformers was started by two young men who were born and raised in these slums. They give have given smalls amounts of money to HIV positive people for them to start businesses and to enable them to provide for themselves. They have taken in orphans, pay for their education and provide for their needs. They offer after school tutoring and mentoring time. They started only a few years ago and yet have touched dozens and dozens of lives.

War broke out during the presidential elections this last year. Kenya is divided into many different tribes but there are two prominent ones. Each of these two tribes had a presidential candidate. When one gained victory over the other the two tribes ended up slaughtering each other. Churches and schools were burnt down, limbs were lost by being cut off by machetes, girls were raped, people were murdered, and a complete massacre took place. Friends were killing friends and neighbors were slaying neighbors. This horrible incident took place partly around this area. During all of the killing and violence, Community Transformers was one of the very few groups that was allowed safe access to both sides to gather the dead and wounded. They would receive phone calls from both sides to come and get the lifeless and the hurt.

Amazing! This small group of people had become recognized to the extent to be trusted and to have the respect of both tribes.

I was really inspired by their story of the beginning of this organization. I was humbled by their dreams for Community Transformers. I was touched by the heart and compassion that they have.

As we were walking around I caught a young kid trying to snag my watch. I didn’t tell anyone at the time cause I didn’t want him to get in trouble, I thought it was pretty sad. He couldn’t have been older than fourteen and yet he was in a position where he had to steal. Depressing.

Our trip fueled me to keep on keeping on. It showed me that a small group of people united in heart can make a difference. It showed me that there is always hope.

Geoffrey Nighswonger

Prayer Requests:
Janet and her surgery
Stacy’s Wheelchair… still waiting
Jason Nates travels

Randoms:
I was looking to see how much a new digital camera would cost… lots of stuff is cheaper here than at home… it was like double what we charge… bummer : (
There is this thing called a Samosa. It is like a taco but a triangle… SOO good
I ate a coconut today… it was my first time… I think we should have waited a little longer cause it tasted pretty bitter
I was sent some mini DV tapes… so I am recording some of the stories I have written about. I am letting the ones who want to tell their stories so you guys can hear them for yourself and see them. I recorded Janet and her daughter today
Apparently this Jason Nate guy is really awesome. Mutuko (the grounds keeper of the hotel I stay at) calls him his best friend. Each day he comes running to me and asks me when Jason is coming. He told me about how Jason gives him his clothes and shoes and sometimes money. They Jason sent Mutuko a text message a few days ago and Mutuko came running to me to tell me that Jason sent him a message. He keeps on telling me about how wonderful and great Jason is. It makes me really excited about meeting him too.
I remember in Cast Away that Tom Hanks said that coconuts are a natural laxative… I think he was right.

Word of the Day
Mambo? Pua
Mambo pooh-ah
How are you (to a young person)? Fine.

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