Hallelujah! Recently I got my work permit/visa for two years! That means I can travel freely back and forth to the USA, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi without cost or extra visas for two years. This will enable me to travel with visiting teams to nearby countries or plan trips in a short period of time. I am thankful that I have this, but it didn't come without a lot of time, effort, and some added expense. I am now waiting on my alien registration which should be ready in June. When I asked the immigration representative if I could now get into national parks or anything cheaper, she said, "No." Ah, the life of a foreigner.
Just a few weeks ago, Tony--a board member from Hope Africa Ministries, Inc.--and his son, Alex, came to Kenya for a busy ten days. Together we were able to visit Hope Educational Centre where we visited in each classroom;they put on a big performance of singing, dancing, and drama; and met with the school staff. We also went to the new school site and saw the almost completed first phase of our new school. Tony was excited to actually see the ground floor of the school and envision the eight rooms to be added in a second floor.
Together we also visited a small medical unit that has been offered to us to place on our new school grounds to be used as a local clinic. Having a medical clinic right in Sakwa has long been a dream of mine. Several tragedies have occurred because of the lack of nearby medical facilities. While this is a great blessing, it will take support to run it even on a small level. Medicines, supplies and staff would be needed and there is currently no funding for that. Completing the second level of our school building is our main priority at this time and because of that, we would need people to take on the sponsorship of the clinic. We will be investigating the costs to run the clinic from a minimum of one day a week to full time and will let you know this information as we determine it.
Also on my itinerary with Tony and Alex was to visit an orphanage on "the other side" of Kisii--nearly two hours' drive from Sakwa. I was introduced to Noah's Boat about two years ago through a pastor friend. This orphanage began by providing for the needs of IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) from the post-2007 national election violence. These orphans were reportedly "dumped" in Ogembo with nothing and a local pastor took them in. There are 46 boys and girls being cared for and provided schooling at this time. The director, Pastor Esther, was pleased to show us two acres of land that they had been given for a permanent orphanage. Currently they are farming the land as they wait to move forward.
In Nairobi, we spent several hours walking from house to house in the Mathari slums with Pastor Gideon of Mumomatei Foundation--a ministry which with Hope Africa Ministries, Inc. works--visiting with some of the HIV+ clients that they serve. Each client or family got to share some of their history and then about their current needs. The common needs are food, school fees for their children, house rent, jobs, and medical needs. One of the clients had been very ill, but was regaining strength and health. Before we left each home, Tony prayed for them.
Our last day together in Nairobi, we visited Joysprings Educational Centre in the Kibera slums. The school manager, Rose and her husband, Pastor Charles are always such a joy to visit. We were extremely surprised to see how the school has grown over the years. They bought the lot next to their school and have really expanded. The school is doing well and they have added a ministry of providing seminars for pastors complete with food and housing. And just so you don' think we are all about business, we visited the David Sheldrake Elephant Orphange also that day. I had never been before, so it was very interesting to learn how they got the elephants and how they care for them. We got to see them get their bottles and play in the water/mud pit. Alex was so close to the mud pit that he got splattered in mud by some of the more active calves!
I am very thankful that I got to spend time with Tony and Alex. The pupils and young people especially enjoyed having Alex visit. He danced with them (traditional Kenyan dancing), played soccer/football, and let them ask hundreds of questions! We all had a fun time traveling with our driver, Robert, over the many miles and in and out of traffic. Tony and I had time to share about the ministry and plan for the future. I look forward to having other ministry members join me in the future.
I am in the USA as you are reading this. I try to come over when I can. This time I have been able to visit with my almost-92-year-old mom, many family members and friends, to move forward on a few things for Hope Africa Ministries, Inc., and will be here to celebrate my grandson, James', first birthday. And, to see my doctor. I have picked up a small medical problem in Sakwa for which I am being treated. This is the second medical issue I have picked up living in a foreign country. They are both minor issues, just foreign to the USA!
Thank you for your support, prayers, and encouragement as I seek to use my gifts and talents for the work God has given me. May our good, good Father bless and keep you. I look forward to returning to Kenya by the end of this month and to move forward sharing the good news of Jesus through words and actions. And always, if you have questions, comments, or want more information or ways to help, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.