Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Child Within

The night was young as we opened up the doors to the Nevaeh prayer room. Our dream is too weekly open up the prayer room in order to offer a place of refuge and comfort to the women working in prostitution right outside our doors. As we sat there setting up the noise from the streets filled the room, people hollering and laughing, matatu, piki piki drivers honking and calling out to people as they drive quickly down the crowed street. Loud music and lights flashed all down the streets as bars filled with dancing and chaos. The parties were starting early and the night began to unfold. Kylee and I stood outside the room looking over the balcony at the women below, praying silently to ourselves before heading down to greet them. They were ready to work and came with a smile masked on their faces. As we began meeting the girls and talking with them my heart was filled with pain for them. Looking into their eyes I began to see how broken and shameful they truly were, and how desperate they could become. One of the women, probably around forty years old, even with a knife wounded hand all wrapped up in cloth, sat there waiting to be picked up on. The extent that these women go too in order to make a little bit of money is heartbreaking. After we had made our rounds and offered up the invitation to come and have hot tea with us we headed back upstairs to the prayer room and within about fifteen minutes women began to come. As they came we poured them a hot drink and sat with them talking and laughing. God is so faithful; we had exactly the amount of tea for the number of women that came!

Shakira (prostitute name, not real name) was one of the last women to come in. She walked in smiling and proud chewing on her drugs to keep her awake and high all night. She was so beautiful, literately looking like a Barbie doll all dolled up for the night. She seemed confident, and then… she began to talk. As Kylee and I sat close to her she began to pour out her heart and tell us her story. This woman is actually a seventeen year old girl who moved by herself from Uganda three months prior in order to make money for her five year old daughter at home. She told us how alone and shameful she feels all the time and how she doesn’t want to be a prostitute but because she doesn’t have an ID she has no other choice.  She was so full of hopelessness.  That is when we introduced her to Jesus! (Because of translation, I’m not sure if this was her first time or what she believed prior) As we laid hands on her and she closed her eyes Jesus came and began to lavish her in His love. We spoke many things over her and by the end an intense peace sat upon her and within her. It was like He came in, spoke to the storm in her life, and we watched it calm. When she opened her eyes and brushed the tears away, she hugged us and thanked us.  God began to speak to me Jeremiah 29:11 over her life and I told her. “For I know the plans I have for you,” say’s the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” She felt encouraged and happy when we finally finished talking and we asked her if she wanted to play Jenga with us. She was super excited and jumped down off the seat and onto the floor ready to play. We grabbed the game, pulled it out, set it up, and began to play. Suddenly all the lights went out, a blackout; which is a regular occurrence in Kenya. We just laughed and grabbed a candle to continue our game out in the dark. Shakira was so happy and for the first time since she walked in that room I saw the seventeen year old girl that she truly was.

God please restore a child-like heart within the girls and women whose childhoods have been stolen from them!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Made for Love

God cares so greatly about each and every one of us and He desires for his children to be taken care of.  I’m constantly dwelling on this thought while also battling with feeling completely inadequate. I am overwhelmed by the cry in my heart to give all that I have to these families and children while trying to only do what I see that Father doing. I am sure every missionary struggles with these feelings, but the poverty and need just seems so big, and I feel so small. Does anything matter? Will I really make any kind of lasting impact or change? Can I really truly help anyone? These thoughts swirl around in my mind and Jesus constantly has to remind me; HE is bigger than poverty, HE is bigger than prostitution, and HE lives in me! And if He lives in me, then I have the most important thing in the world to give to these people and that is Jesus Himself!

Yesterday Kylee and I visited a woman in the village whom was sobbing when we found her. She sat in her small dirt hut crying as her ten month old baby lay on the bed and her two little ones play in the dirt at her feet. We sat and held her until she was able to talk to us and tell us what was wrong. After about twenty minutes we found out that she is a prostitute who is unable to make much money because she is getting older and growing too skinny. No longer wanted by men she is watching her family starve as well as herself. She is also HIV positive as well as her infant.  She talked with us about her alcoholism being her only escape and her continual attempts and thoughts towards suicide. Kylee and I sat and held her as we prayed over her and her children.  We were able to walk her thought repentance and re-dedication her life to God.  We continued to pray until she became peaceful. I then asked her if she saw or heard anything Jesus was saying or doing and she looked up and said, “Jesus looked at me and told me loved me.”  She was so tired from crying and now finally at rest we told her to lay down with her now sleeping baby and that we would return with groceries. When we arrived back at the hut we gave her the food and watched as joy filled her. She was overwhelmed and saturated in love, her only words were, “I wish I could show you in some way how thankful I am. If I could bundle it up and give it to you as a gift I would!” We loved on her and agree to meet with her weekly.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Reason to Smile

Last week as Kylee, Bre, and I walked down that busy, busy streets of Kenya further into town and that is where we found her. A little old woman on the side of the road sitting in the dirt singing her heart out as she held up her little cup for coins. She was blind, deaf, and crippled. She was skinny as can be and she sat in the filth with her little tambourine playing her heart out for anything she could get. We went to her and knelt down to pray as a man came over, he must have been a relative, and he told us that she was deaf and spoke no English at all. We asked him if we could pray for her and he said yes, and continued to interpret to her what was going on. We laid our hands on her and just loved on her as we prayed fervently for healing and blessing. She sat still holding our hands until her body jolted back just a bit, and I saw God touch her body. I recognized what had happened and when we were finished she said in perfect English, “Thank you,” as if that was all she needed and continued to sing as if she was perfectly content. We still planned on feeding her though and as we stood I finally realized the massive crowd that had drawn around us. Probably thirty people stood around just watching us as we loved on this old beggar who was probably despised by her community. I smiled as we made our way through and went quickly to the closest stand and bought her some fruit. We gave it to her and then went on our way, but the joy that grew inside of me that day was so real and alive, I will never forget it. This Friday we will again be walking down that street to see if that woman is still there and if so we will be giving her some food and praying for her again. She is so worth all the love and affection we can give her!
A couple days ago a little girl ran to me and told me who she was, a girl Kylee and I had bought cookies for at the grocery store the week before. She is nine and her name is Winnie. She looked at me with these big, brown, wondering eyes and said, “You told me to come tell you who I was and that you would give me a huge hug when I did.” I smiled and said come here then and opened my arms wide. She grabbed tightly holding my waist and I thought she honestly would never let go. She stayed with me for a long time and we walked together down the dirt road.  She kept her arms around my waist and when we stopped so that I could talk to the other girls around us she just held me and I keep her in my arms. We continued to walk for about twenty minutes and in this time all she could say was, “Nakupenda Sana,” over and over which means, “I love you very much.” She would repeat it in Swahili and in English so that I knew. When time came for us to depart she struggled to let go saying, “I love you, I love you, please tell me where you live so that if you don’t come back I can find you.” She broke me today and as she held me and looked up, I looked down into her beautiful eyes and promised to her that I would be back again tomorrow to teach another grade at her school. She struggled to believe me and I had to repeat it a few times. When she let go and we began to walk away she stood there with about five of the other school girls staring towards us. We got a ways up before I turned around to find her chasing after me. Again I gathered her into my arms and she whispered in my ear, “Please tomorrow will you come back and come see my mama and where I live?” “Yes,” I replied I can do that. She smiled from ear to ear and was able to let me go. I am so moved. To receive all that love when all I did was buy her and her sister some cookies at that store? It really is the little things at matter!

The following day Kylee and I went to her home along with her other siblings! This was so much fun! We were there for two hours and in this time we danced and sang about in their little home. Seeing Winnie and her friends dance was so amazing, these girls can dance like I have never seen children dance before! They honored us so much, filling our bellies and hearts to the brim! I love them and I can’t wait to go back!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Glimpse of His Love

God knows our hearts, our desires, our passions and He is so faithful to come and bring life in those moments we feel quite defeated. Kylee, Bre and I arrived at the school we would be teaching at and soon found out that our two older classes would be combined into one, on the account of one of the classrooms randomly turning into a storage room. Now we would somehow have to teach a group of around 500 girls; without microphones might I add! A bit of panic hit my stomach as I watched hundreds of girls flood into this room, packing it to the brim.  As everyone was getting settled in, pushing and shoving to find seats suddenly a little girl, probably around the age of nine or ten fought through the crowd, in the mists of chaos to reach out to Kylee. “I have a surprise for you!” she said excitedly as she handed Kylee and little folded up note she had personally written for her.

 “Oh I can’t wait to read it, thank you so much!” Kylee responded as bend down to pull her up into her arms.  As the crowd continued to pour in we soon realized there weren’t enough seats and girls would be sitting all over the floor. As I stood there, doing my best to keep smiling, while my nerves continued to get the best of me I suddenly realized, no matter what happens in this classroom today God is here! He is with us and we are not alone! In that moment my nerves ceased and nothing was going to stop us from having the best time even in all of the craziness! To sit back and laugh, giving it all to God, felt so good.  To smile and respond with love towards each child, knowing only God can do this was exciting, and I began to truly laugh.

Respect was the core of this lesson; basically if I’m valuable and cannot be bought or sold neither can my friends therefore I should not be trying to sell my friends. Overall after much shouting just to be heard, class was finally coming to an end. Today was one of the rough days, but after listening to them sing about respect and hearing them respond with some knowledge into what we had been trying to teach was a success. God is so faithful to bring encouragement in those perfect moments and at the end Kylee was again approached with another little note, crinkled up in the hands of a child!

 This little girl was around the age of 11 and she was so precious. She handed over the note, smiled and ran off quickly. Kylee and I were overjoyed in realizing that what we were doing was creating an impact and children were recognizing it!

Every Moment Counts

Last week as we walked arm and arm alongside our beautiful children in the dirt, dodging the mud holes and the cattle, we talked and laughed. Deep joy filled me as these girls laughed and giggled holding me like I would fade away and all I wanted was to be able to give them EVERYTHING! If only I could give them the world! But honestly my heart breaks as I battle within myself with my own weaknesses. I often wonder; God will Kylee and I even have enough money make it through next month?  Is there enough for us and all of these girls, Daddy? I laugh at my own inadequacy as I am reminded even now about God’s faithfulness and His promises. “Don’t worry about these things, saying what will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6: 31-33) It’s still a fight, a constant battle, but the Father is saying, “The victory has already been won, so do not be afraid!”

As we come to a stop at the end of the road all the girls stand silent around me, staring, hoping that we aren’t going to leave, and usually at this point we stay for at least ten minutes continuing to love on each of them. Today one of the little girls, probably around 8 or 9, seemed oddly sad. I knelt down to look her in the eyes and she lowered her eyes even further. “What is wrong? Are you ok?” I asked but she didn’t reply. I turned to one of the older girls and asked her if she knew what was wrong with her. The older girl said, “The teacher shaved a chuck of her hair off today because her mother couldn’t pay for her head to be shaved and that is a rule!” Immediately I turned to her and saw the chuck of hair missing. My heart broke! What shame to put on a child that she has to publically walk around with a chuck of her hair shaved in representation of the poverty at home! I was so upset and even after I went home that night I could not get her off my mind. I laid in bed thinking and praying for this child and by the time I fell asleep I had decided that if I saw her next week I would take her to get her haircut.

For a week I thought about her, waiting with anticipation for our next class together. Finally the day arrived and about mid-way into class I caught eyes with her! There she was! My heart leapt and I smiled at her. After class Kylee and I, with interpretation from our Kenyan leaders, asked her if we could take her to get her a haircut. She nodded and smiled as her eyes lit up.
When we finally arrived at the barber shop we ended up having three little girls with us, in whom all got their haircuts! We had so much fun and seeing how happy and excited these children were to receive haircuts filled us with joy! After haircuts we said goodbye too two of the girl and then bought the little one a pair of flip flops as we had noticed she was barefoot. By the time this little one got home she was all smiles and hugged us tightly as she whispered, “I love you,” in our ears.

After struggling all week with the lie of not having enough and continuing to long to give, finally my love for these precious girls won out over the worry for my own life and we gave! God does not ask us to worry, instead he asks us to trust him in everything and give even if we have nothing. Even if all I have is the change in my wallet I will continue to obey and give, and my heart will rejoice and be glad!

Haircuts are vital for the children of Kenya for two reasons:
#1 - Prevention from lice
#2-  Keeps them out of trouble

And the good news is…..

It only cost 36 CENTS (U.S)!!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Can't Be Bought

Voices of little ones fill the air, excitement and chaos all at once; this is our classrooms each day. Such beauty is found in this wonderful chaos. Little hands reach out grabbing, clinging, searching to be noticed, to be loved, to be found by someone who cares. In the beginning and end of every class ten to fifteen minutes is just spend on allowing each child to greet us, which often is being swarmed by every child all at once giggling, laughing, and jumping about all around us. I have only been here a sort time and my love for these beautiful girls is ever increasing! You can’t see them and not love them! They are so beautiful and I literately feel God’s heart for his daughters.
It can be very hard though, each day I am learning to cope with the pain as God allows my heart to enlarge and become vulnerable to these girls. I am trying hard to learn how to keep my heart open and raw, while also keeping my arms open. How do I listen to their stories, horrific stories, and not grow numb in protection of my own heart? How do I allow myself to break over and over again, while not carrying the burden? God keeps reassuring me that He alone is the Savior and I’ll we can do is what he asks, even if it is just to love endlessly and wholeheartedly.
This week we are teaching our girls what valuable means. What that practically looks like here, is telling them that a cost cannot be put on their bodies and speaking daily that they are priceless and cannot be bought or sold. We play different games with them to get our point across and as comical as this game may be to an American teenager, it truly hits home here. One of the games is called, “Auction.” We bring in different items such as sunglasses, a DVD, a t-shirt, a cell phone and we ask them what they would pay for these items. The classroom is filled with shouting, laughing, yelling out random amounts of money “5 bob, 20 bob, 50 bob” until they come to an agreement on what they think the items value is worth. Then Kylee begins to pump up the last item, “Ok, now this item is very valuable. It can cook you anything you want, it can dance and play games, it can do anything you want it too! Are you ready to see it?” All the children are excited, “Yes, Yes!” Finally Kylee grabs my hand and shows me off to the children.  The children look around at each other awkwardly but quickly begin to yell out prices, sadly pretty low prices too.  Then I put on the sunglasses and begin parading myself around blowing kisses and doing twirls, this gets the girls going and my price goes up. But always by the end of the game I end up being marked with a price tag, sell-able in their eyes. This is when I am able to explain to them that human do not have price tags and that in fact we are all priceless. In another game we play I hold up 1,000 shillings roughly 12 dollars and ask who would want this, as the children all scream for it I destroy the money one step and a time and even spit on it until it looks all gross and unwanted. I ask one last time who still wants this money and as expected they all still want it. "So you are telling me that no matter what happens to this money the value does not decrease?" All the girls say,"Yes," and after this I begin to ask them some serious questions. “Has anyone in here ever been called bad names? Has anyone ever been beat up, or spit on? Has anyone ever been hurt at all by someone else?” Almost all the children’s hands are raised and I ask them, “Does this make your value go down? Does this make you any less special and important?” By this time the message has hit home, and I can see it in their little faces. At the end of class we all stand and sing loudly our “Can’t Be Bought,” song.


Watching them do all the actions and get all into it makes me heart so happy! This song literately is being heard and sung all throughout the village!

It breaks my heart to have to stand in front of our 100 or so fourth graders and tell them nobody can sell them, understanding that it’s all they have known and seen. Prostitution is just culture here, another job occupation. I am still learning a lot each day but I do know that around the age of 11 and 12, when their little bodies begin forming, are when girls really start being harassed and begin choosing to sell their bodies for as little as 20 cents just so they can eat. BUT God is good, and things are changing, there is no way they can’t change! I believe this strongly because God keeps telling me that His word does not return void, and when he sends it out, it will produce good fruit! Every day as we teach these precious girls their worth, their value, and how important their lives really are and things are breaking off of them! Generational curses are breaking! Chains are loosening! Blind eyes are seeing and believing! Come on Jesus! His truth sets us free and no weapon formed against these children will prosper!!!! I stand in this; I believe this, and it's God’s promises that keep me alive! His promises keep my heart from grief because we ALREADY have the VICTORY!

 1,000 precious girls, 4 young missionaries, and 1 God= anything is possible!