April-May Ministry Update 2011

Greetings from Amsterdam,

I would like to provide a few quick looks into recent ministry happenings and to inform you of some prayer points, but the majority of this update will be focused on my recent trip to Kenya.

On Easter Sunday, 3 people were baptized: Mike and married couple Nicole and Michel. It was an exciting day to witness these three taking the next step in their faith by publically proclaiming their desire to follow Jesus.

  • Please pray for their protection, growth and that God shines brightly in and through their lives.

Recently a dear brother in Christ, Sokol, heard the great news that he was accepted into Tyndale Seminary here in Amsterdam. This opportunity has opened a door for him to receive legal paperwork to be in Holland. In order to obtain a student visa he must travel back to his home country of Albania where he hasn’t been for 14 years due to both family feuding and lack of ability to freely travel.

  • Please pray for Sokol to have traveling mercies and safety in the next few weeks as he returns home to obtain a new identity card, health insurance and passport, in order to be a legal resident in Holland.

I am continuing to volunteer with Serve the City here in Amsterdam. From June 2nd through 5th, we will have 4 days filled with 60 projects and close to 400 volunteers moving through the city serving people smiles and practically meeting needs of those less fortunate. See a 3 minute video clip here.

  • Please pray for all the behind the scenes work that needs to be accomplished, as well as the positive impact we hope to have of God’s love flowing to many in Amsterdam through this ministry.
  • I will be volunteering on a painting project June 2nd for Janja — a woman I’ve known for over 4 years and have helped with several projects over the past few years. Please pray for provisions in her life and that I might have further opportunities to reflect Christ to her.

Kenya Trip

Where to begin? There is so much to tell. What began as a dream back in 2006 became a reality … I traveled to Africa to work with orphans. Our team of 5 spent nearly 2 weeks with the children. The experience was more than I could have imagined. You’ll find several corresponding letters in the photo collages to the stories I’ll be sharing.

I’ll begin by saying this recovery center in Karai, Kenya is an incredible inspiration. The Director, Elijah Wachira, and his wife, Dorcas, [A] after raising 4 children of their own have fulfilled a beautiful dream to provide a way for orphaned children to live a healthy, fulfilling life through providing them with spiritual direction, medical care, food, clothing, shelter and education. They’ve adopted 33 orphans from the area around Naivasha town.

Amsterdam50 has been developing a strategic partnership in caring for the orphans through Kenya Matters.

As you’ll see from the photos above we chose to be a part of a sustainability project last year, which has resulted in an abundance of blessing for the children.

Another important aspect of mission is the orphan’s education. This year we’ve been able to provide funding for all the children to go to school the second term this year. Receiving an education is one of the keys to having any chance at breaking the cycle of poverty.

While on our trip we taught 5 English lessons in the evening to assist them in deepening their language skill. All the schooling in Kenya is taught in English (plus one class in Swahili). Many of them struggle with the difficulties of trying to “learn” in their third language. Please pray with us for the children to grow in their academic performance.

We had an opportunity to visit a few homes of the orphan’s guardians, which consists of living relatives such as Grandparents, Aunts or Uncles or occasionally a parent is still alive but unable to fully care for the child. We were blessedto meet Gladys, the mother of Mary (striped hat) and Hannah (pink hat), and share with her some photos of her girls. [B] Gladys is a Christian woman living in a stick and mud hut. She has a grateful heart knowing that her children are being provided for in a way that she was unable to do on her own. Most of the children do not have Christian guardians.

We worked for a week with the children painting a huge mural [C] on the safe house (110 ft long), which was designed by one of the mission team members Avantia. Prior to our visit, most of the orphans had never had a paint brush in their hand. They loved being a part of bringing so much fun color to their home.

Every evening we had a devotional time with the children, which often included a puppet show [D], as well as bible stories and singing. At the end of the evening the children would line up to give us all good night hugs. A precious time!

I made a dear, sweet friend in Lilian, [E] who is 11 years old. She also has an older brother and sister at the safe house. It was very special to play with her, do some writing activities together and share stories about our lives. I sat next to her for the 3 hour bus ride to Lake Bogoria hot springs [F] where we took the children on an education field trip.

I instructed the children with some adventure games where they learned to cooperate and trust one another. In addition, I introduced them to the game of Ultimate Frisbee. [G] They loved it and were amazingly good at throwing and catching the flying discs, which was incredible since they’ve never seen anything like that before!

We joined the orphans two Sundays at their church service. [H] Wow, do those people know how to worship! The children, adults and guests (our team) all had an opportunity to bless the congregation with a special song or two.

One day our mission team did a day hike on a nearby nearly extinct volcano [I] — that’s right all the way up and all the way around the rim, over 12 miles on the dusty trails. While on a day and a half safari, we visited a Maasai village [J]. And a big highlight was the amazing African animals we witnessed. It was a blessing to see God’s creation up close and in their natural habitat, including 3 Cheetahs eating a zebra — WOW!

Needless to say, I praise God for being at work in the lives of the poor and in my own heart. Please pray blessings of God’s grace, peace, hope and provision for the precious children of Kenya Matters.

Your prayers and support of my life are invaluable. Thanks for everything.

God bless you,