We prepared this video to share with and encourage the staff at Hungry For Life International.
It’s a compilation of what different partners had to say about short term mission teams and the
importance of going and serving.
Posts Tagged ‘People’
We prepared this video to share with and encourage the staff at Hungry For Life International.
I’m having a difficult time writing what I experience. I try to put my fingers to the keyboard and relate what I have seen, heard, shared. But all that stares back at me from the screen is a blank page with a blinking line, waiting for input.
Considering that stringing words into captivating sentences that turn into stories is the reason that I am even in this place, this concerns me.
What I find myself stumped in writing about is a story of two teachers working in the middle of nowhere in a place called Seje. It’s a small community in Kenya, little more than an array of huts about five kilometres from a village that at least has a few corner stores.
The only way to find the school in which they work is to follow a long thin ribbon of red dirt that someone had the sense of humour to call a road. It bumps and winds and has potholes so big I was concerned we would be abandoning the car and walking with our field partner Edgar to find it.
We arrived safely, to a dusty patch of land with two buildings. Inside the mud walls of the first room, children sing a welcome to their rare visitors from outside the community. Bright sunlight streamed into the windows, providing the only light. Unlike most Kenyan schools, only some of the kids here wear uniforms, and they are tattered and threadbare.
The circumstances these students find themselves in are awful. It is a hot and dusty place. Most of the children are orphans, living wherever they can find a sympathetic hand or with old grandparents in need of assistance themselves.
Do you know that girl? The one over there washing her clothes in a pale yellow bucket? What about that boy, the one playing with sticks in the dust beside the road? Do you know the man in the crisp white shirt, holding a briefcase and sitting on the back of a bicycle taxi? Now there is a young boy in front of us, stealing sugarcane off the back of a loaded truck, and another begging for money on the streets. Do you know them?
Neither do I.
I know nothing about these people, save the brief impressions as we drive through the dusty streets of Kenya.
We spent time with Kenyans during our time in this country. As I have listened to the stories of the few we met, I have heard tales of sorrow and strength. And I want to write their stories down and share them with as many people as I can.
But there are countless more who I will never know, never hear about and consequently never share their stories in my world. No one I know will ever know their plight and in turn have the opportunity to help them.
But what I do know is that God knows them. He knows their language, the size of their birthmark, what they last ate. He knows their hopes, their obstacles, their future and their past.
That is of comfort to me. The more we have travelled, the bigger my world has become. Too big. It can be overwhelming when I think about all the great need in this world. Everywhere we go, people are starving, people are living in the pits of poverty with no ladder out.
What I’ve loved about our task is that we get to hear the stories of how ladders are being built to help people out. When I see the masses in the markets, outside our car as we race by, peering out of houses and loaded in taxi vans, it can seem like nothing can be accomplished, no strategies can help. But to meet individuals like Pastor Michael, a small church pastor learning farming techniques to help feed his family and make as bit of an income, I know change is possible. It is in the individual lives where we see God’s hand at work. And individual lives affect families that affect communities which in turn can affect nations.
So do you know that girl? Maybe not. But by helping those we do know, someone who knows that girl may one day be able to help her too.Do you
Wilfreda’s weathered face reveals an old woman who has suffered hardship. To look at her arms, you can trace the bones within. Her clothes are tattered and threadbare.
Wilfreda lives in a small mud hut with a thatched roof. She and her aged husband have no means of making money. We visited Wilfreda at her home because she had been blessed with a male and a female goat through a project facilitated by Hungry for Life and our good friend Edgar.
We saw the goats first, as our visit was unannounced and Wilfreda was not home. As we talked to our guide Pastor Michael about the project, Wilfreda came running up the dirt path to greet us.
She happily shook our hands and told us through Pastor Michael’s translation what a joy it was to meet us and how excited she was about the upcoming birth of her goat. She talked of the blessing these goats will be when she can start to sell the offspring at the market to make a bit of money.
We had a little chat and headed on our way as we had much to see and a long ways to walk on this particular day. And I thought that was the end of my story about Wilfreda. But then we went to Pastor Michael’s church on Sunday.
The mud walled and tin roofed church was full of mostly widows and orphans. Some had probably not had anything to eat for breakfast; three meals a day is unheard of in Boro.
Pastor Michael’s flock is a very poor one. While they cannot bring much to offer, what they do bring is joy. Wilfreda and the others arrived at the church with huge smiles, dressed in their Sunday best.
They came to worship, and it was a sweet sound. Out of the congregation, one lone woman would begin to sing praise to God. The rest would repeat after her, moving and clapping their worship to Christ. As one song ended, another woman would begin a new song, and so it went for song after song.
It was beautiful. There was such a presence of God in this place, and the humble surroundings made it all the more evident that God seeks after our hearts alone. I watched as Wilfreda sang out to her Saviour, giving Him her praise. I am sure God smiled down on his followers in the Boro church that day.
The Hillside team’s pastor, Durwin, gave the message, and then it came time for the offering. A large basket was placed on a table at the front, and quickly after people began to drop in their offerings. As a team, we had decided to each give about 100 shillings each, a lot for these people but under $2 for us. I was standing right by the basket, and as I watched, Wilfreda and most of the others in the church came forward. They dropped in change – 5, 10, maybe 20 shillings at the most – releasing their grip and dropping their meagre offerings into the hand woven basket with a clink.
As I watched, I began to weep. I couldn’t help it.
We gave so little. These people gave a tenth of what we did, yet they gave so much more.What we gave was nothing in comparison to what they gave. How can I describe the sacrifice these people gave, their precious offering?
It was so real to me, after seeing Wilfreda in her home and witnessing the poverty she came from. To see her and others that come from similar living situations give their offerings to Christ was humbling. No sacrifice I have made for God’s glory comes close to the 10 shillings Wilfreda gave that day.
Out the 110 children at Noah’s Ark, there was one little girl that really captured our hearts. Her name was Annabel, and she had Justin and me wrapped around her little finger by the time we left. If she wanted me to get the moon for her, I probably would have tried jumping just to reach it.
Aside from general pictures of kids at Noah’s Ark, we had a few specific children we wanted captured as their stories really stood out to me. Annabel was one of those kids. So, like all the other children Justin had to track down and shoot, we asked an auntie which one was Annabel while playing in the yard. Once pointed out, Justin started following her as she played on the swings and in the grass.
There was just something about this sweet little child that grabbed at our hearts. For me, I think it was her initial story that got my attention. She was born in October, 2006. In July of 2008, she was found abandoned in a garbage container. This beautiful child had been thrown out with the trash. A woman found her and told police she would take care of the child. Just three months later, she too decided she didn’t want Annabel anymore and left her with the police.
It was hard to imagine this child would be abandoned by not one but two different families. Noah’s Ark staff knew it would take time for her to trust again given her obvious fear of abandonment.
We arrived in Uganda on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Our friend Kimi who lives in Jinja picked us up from the airport and drove us to Noah’s Ark Children’s Home in Mukono, just a couple hours from the airport. We got a chance to catch up with her as we watched the beautiful Ugandan landscape pass by. It looked just as Africa should look from all the images I’ve seen over the years. Mud huts, lush grasses, palm trees and lots of people walking, riding bikes, and piling into taxi vans.
We spent five days and four nights at Noah’s Ark. And while we didn’t have much luck interviewing the kids, we did get a good understanding of how the orphanage runs and how the children are raised within its walls. The kids play lots, eat well, go to school, get in trouble, get hugged and get dirty just like any other kids.
If you were to watch most of these children running and playing and laughing and crying, you might suspect they are just like any other kids. In some ways they are. But we got a chance to read through each of their profiles, each child’s story written up with pictures of the child over the years. The stories spoke of devastating pasts, including abandonment, loss of both parents, cruel treatment, physical and mental abuse and even rape.
To see children who have gone through such trauma and at a glance for them to seem just like any other child is a testament to the love given in Noah’s Ark. Their motto is ‘From Nobody to Somebody’ and fits well when you hear the stories.
Here is a newsletter we sent out to supporters. If you did not receive this and would like to be on our mailing list, please contact us through the contact form on the website or email Justin@pocketsofchange.org
Time sure is flying here in the Ukraine. We’ve been here a week already in Nikopol and it’s hard to believe how quickly the time has gone. Justin and I have heard many stories, so many it gets overwhelming. I have filled an entire notebook already in just one week, and we still have another full week here before we leave for Uganda.
We have seen great need here. We have also seen the power of Christ at work in people’s lives. Those that have nothing praise God for giving them breath and life even though they have very little else. Most have had a lifetime of hardship yet their faith is so much stronger than mine.
One thing that has really stood out to me is the ravaging effects of alcohol here; it is rampant. It’s clear Satan has a hold on many Ukrainians through this destructive substance and their families are hurt because of it. We met a woman yesterday who exemplifies this problem. Her name is Luba. Her husband drinks. And she hates it. The sadness in her eyes when she told us that said more than her words. A pool of tears welled up in her eyes as she shared about her husband. Then she told us her son went off to war, and when he came home he had mental problems and started to drink too.
“I can’t express what a suffering it is,” she voiced about her pain.
Yet Luba gets up every day determined to live as Christ would have her live. God reached out to her and saved her and she lives each day with a joy that can only come from Christ, not from her life circumstances.
For Justin, what has stood out has been how similar the Ukraine at first glance looks to Canada. When you’re driving through the streets of Nikopol and out into the countryside, it looks so similar to back home. Visible evidence like signs in another language and alphabet never allow us to pretend for too long, but the trees, the landscape and comforts of the guest home sure make it feel like home.
But, what Justin has observed, is that the more we talk to people and get to know their stories, the more foreign this country has become. What he read in history books in school is now more real than ever. These people we are meeting have lived through communism, they lived through Stalin’s regime and the concentration camps and the starvation and the corruption. It’s no longer just words in a text book; it’s real people with real experiences.
We would like to encourage those that would like to, to drop us a note once in awhile. Justin and I both are feeling out of the loop from life in Canada and sometimes feel like we’re floating in the ocean without a tether to home.
We eagerly await a chance each day to see if the internet is working and check our mail only to find out there are no messages for us. Certainly we don’t need to hear from everyone all the time, but if you are praying for us, or if you have a cool verse to share or something, we would love to get an email.
Justin and I know that we could not do this project without the support from back home. And we know that there are people praying for us as we have been protected, healthy and gathering the stories of life change we came to gather. Thank you for your prayers, for your concern, and for your friendship. We value each one of you and appreciate your support.