Friday, November 29, 2013

The Presidents Gift …

Towards the first of this year we sent an urgent message to our friends back home in the States for help concerning one of the young people in our church StoneHouse Fellowship.

From our inception as a church, Abraham Otieno established himself to be one of our most consistent and hard working young man.

When we built our church meeting place, he was there every time he possibly could be. He worked hard, expected no pay and always maintained a good attitude when working in the hot African sun. Abraham was always joking and coming up with something funny to cheer everyone else up.

One day we noticed that Abraham was working during school hours and so we asked him why he wasn’t in school. He replied he wanted to go, as this was the year of his graduation, but was financially unable to go. Having been abandoned by his parents when he was only 7 years old he was raised by his older brother. Circumstances left Abraham with little options for surviving, much less making enough to attend school. Yet he had come so far.

Now we know that money isn’t plentiful among our friends in the States and when they give it is sacrificial. Yet wonderfully, three single sisters responded to our plea and took up the financial burden of Abraham’s final year of education. They probably had no idea the chain of blessings that their sacrifice would begin.

You see, Abraham is gifted in the performing arts. Our church already knew that, as he had performed for us several times before. After three months of returning to school Abraham was selected to perform a dramatic poem in front of the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, at the Fair Grounds in Nakuru. He did so …. And everyone, including the President was impressed. Now that, in itself, was a great blessing…. to be selected out of all the other high school students in Nakuru was a huge honor. Much honor was bestowed upon Flamingo High School the day Abraham preformed. But the biggest blessing was still forth-coming.

One month ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta decided he would purchase a brand new travel bus for Flamingo High School in honor of Abraham’s performance. Wow! Flamingo High School never had any sort of bus before.

Cynthia and I were asked to attend the dedication of the bus and we were there when it arrived… and it was so exciting.

All the kids and staff of Flamingo High went wild. They had never in their wildest dreams ever believed this could possibly happen to them.

The staff, with the students, then gathered in the school court yard and publicly, with much celebrating, thanked Christ Jesus for this great blessing. Everyone there blessed Christ for His love and then… they dedicated the bus to Christ.
In contrast to my homeland, they did so with no fear of being fired, sued, or even ridiculed. The reason is because all who could have persecuted them were standing there praising God with them. In attendance was the County School Commissioner, the Mayor and other government officials. We were very blessed to be a part of the dedication.

After the court yard dedication, the school bell rang and everyone met in the school hall for more celebration, singing, dances and speeches. There was no generational gap present as everyone, including the school staff joined in the dancing and singing. 

Finally Abraham was asked to speak… as he walked to the front of the room, all the students and teachers clapped with most standing and giving him a standing ovation. His poetic speech both thrilled his fellow students and honored his teachers along with the entire school staff. All in all, it was very much a great privilege to be there. We were so proud of Abraham.

After we left, I wondered … did those three single ladies have any idea what their act of love might accomplish? That… their gift would have created such a chain of blessings to so many people half-way around the world? Probably not, but the above story perfectly illustrates just how powerful giving in the name of Christ can be.

Abraham was so blessed just being allowed to return to school and continue his education. His family, our entire church and his entire High School was blessed just to see him be selected to perform in front of the President of Kenya. Most everyone in Nakuru (over 350,000 people) were blessed because one of their own was recognized for his great performance before the leader of their country. Then on top of everything else, came the blessing of Flamingo High School being given, by the President of Kenya, an expensive tour bus.

So; … what if those precious sisters who helped Abraham were to have said… “Oh, well things are financially a little tight … someone else will probably help them.”? What major blessings, to so many people, would have been forfeited?

A while back we had some of Rose Creek Performers put on a skit for us about what happens when we do one lone act of kindness. They said it was kind of like a little stone being thrown into a great lake. The impact of that little stone can create a ‘chain of events’ that can travel all the way to the other side of the great lake…. And back! Remember all heaven rejoices when Christ is glorified. Who knows how far your ripples may travel?

Help us help other Kenyan children get an education. Like the adage states… ‘A mind is a terrible thing to waste’. Your loving contribution could create some…. Major Ripples!

It sure did in Abraham’s life!
Your missionaries   Dave and Cynthia

Thursday, November 21, 2013

America Trip Part 2

Jambo! family and friends! 
We and our luggage arrived safely in Nairobi Kenyatta International Airport close to midnight Thursday. We were met by seven or eight (everything’s a little fuzzy after two days of traveling with no sleep) of our smiling StoneHouse friends. Although it took us till three a.m. to finally arrive at our house in Nakuru we made it safely. Thanks for all the prayers raised up for a good trip because they were abundantly answered.

Here is the short but promised second part of our American trip. It’s more personal than most of our updates, but we wanted to share all of our wonderful experiences with all of our friends who prayed so diligently for our trip to be a great one. Because it really was.

Being at the ‘Ingathering’ with all our Rose Creek friends was truly a joyful and inspiring experience. It was a blessing that we will remember throughout the coming New Year.

Yet, rivaling the excitement of the Ingathering was the overwhelming joy of seeing and being with our families. Staying with Chris, Renee, Kaitlyn, Brina, Vivian, and Ethny gave us a chance to relax and feel very much taken care of. Every need we had was met through their wonderful generosity and hospitality. We felt very taken care of.

A week or so after the Ingathering, Cynthia and I flew to Orlando, Florida to visit our families and friends there. We had almost ten days to spend with our mothers, siblings and their children. 

About half way through our Florida visit our son Caleb drove down to Orlando from Gainesville for a short but wonderful visit. 

When we returned to Tennessee, our daughter Nichole and her children, Cruz, Cadence and Leandra flew in from California and stayed with us at Renee’s house. Her husband Dean stayed behind in California to work so they could afford the trip. Sorry we missed you but thank you Dean!! 

The next few days there was plenty of fellowship, fun and food. I actually gained 10 pounds during our American trip!

Another one of the highlights in our trip was the time spent with our daughter Hannah Jerusha and her four precious children. They are all doing very well and it was so delightful to see and spend time with our precious grandchildren; Blue, Luna, Cedar and Rylynn.

Lastly; to our delight, Caleb, his daughter Sarah, Kristina and her son... drove all the way up from Florida to spend three more days with all of us in Tennessee.

It was delightful being with him and his friend Kristina. 

We have already grown to love her and her son 

We had a lot of time for ‘Fall fun’ with the grandchildren and a lot of great talks with our children. Not being sure when we will be able return to the States due to the ever-rising cost of travel we made the most of our time with them.

Soooo... We had Thanksgiving early... 

We watched the Christmas story Scrooge early... 

For Cynthia and I, our time with everyone was both sweet and memorable.

Lastly, and this is a request to all our friends and family both in the States and Kenya, … please pray for our children and grandchildren back home in the States. They too have been asked to sacrifice their fathers, grandfathers, mothers and grandmothers for the Kingdom of God. It’s not easy and though we feel their support and encouragement … we also are aware of the personal cost they too must pay for us to live in Kenya. Please hold them up to the only One who can meet those needs and encourage their hearts. 

Thanks to all who helped make our trip possible...With much love… Your missionaries … Dave and Cynthia