Oh the places you’ll go

Dr. Seuss wrote a book called, “Oh the Places you’ll go.” I can say that last year in the end of December I did not know what 2012 had in store for us. I am glad to say that wonderful things were in store for us and now to put some of it into words.

I learned that in spite of me, God provides.  We took on the challenges of the year in prayer and faith and we met each one.  We traveled to Peru, Dubai, India, Rwanda and Kenya. We found that with each year as we return our relationships deepen, fruit comes forth and we are enriched. We find God has been faithful in the stories young men and women tell us of how their lives have changed and blessings have over taken them. We find the fruit of our efforts with long lasting results.

Pastor Sakasaka

Rwanda is an example; Pastor Emmanuel Sakasaka was a sponsored bible student and graduate of 2009. He is now working in Rwanda teaching English in the villages outside of Kigali. He uses an English curriculum along with the leadership manual Chuck put together for the 2011 leadership conference for Kenya.

The Graduates

We had the honor of participating in the first graduating class of 49 students! It was exciting for us and for the Students.

The top students gave their speeches in English. This is an important skill as they enter into the global market as a progressive emerging nation, coming from colonization to freedom to genocide now to restoration and unity.

Top students

The need is great and we are in the middle of it standing alongside Pastor Sakasaka and his passion to teach English. We also met with several Pastors who have a passion for leadership and world outreach. Our kind of people! We look forward to working with them in the future.

Traveling on to Kenya our schedule was full preparing for the graduation of the 8th graduating class of bible school students. There are now 265 alumni, and of those we have sponsored 157 in the past six years. Because we are always looking for the most effective way to support others in their vision and callings we saw this as a great way to produce results.

IMG-20121214-01759 Pastor Anthony New building

We first met Pastor Anthony in 2005 on our first trip. Chuck visited his small village church made of tin walls. In our next visit to Kenya we strongly encouraged him to go through bible college, he did!  Each year of our return Pastor Anthony made a special effort to visit us in our meetings and each year he would ask us to visit his Church. But time and scheduling prevented us from accepting his invitation. This year we made plans for such a trip. On Friday we went by taxi to the village of Kiamwangi. The new church, still madPastor Anthony's Mom20121214-01756e of tin but larger, is just off the highway on a nice plot of land.  He called a special meeting, most of the members arrived on foot. The first woman we met was his mother, a precious woIMG-20121214-01754man. Once every one had arrived he called each member to come and sit by us as he told us their personal stories of sorrows and victories. It was a special treasure.

We met a man named Pastor Geoffrey. He introduced himself as, “I am your fruit!” He was a graduate of 2010 by the help and love of Pastor Anthony he began a church up the road in another village. He was thankful for Victor and Eunice for their obedience and devotion to have the Father’s House Bible College and reach so many. He was thankful to us for the sponsorship. Now Anthony has another man, Moses in his congregation ready to take the challenge to devote a year to training. Pray for Moses.

Bible College12  Sponsors for 2013

Those who stepped forward to sponsor a student

A significant moment happened at this year’s graduation. Chuck gave the invitation, 63 people came forward saying, “I want to go to school.”  I gave a challenge for those who graduated in previous years and were blessed to step up and sponsor a student, to give as they have received. Thirteen people stepped forward and out of those thirteen they have agreed to sponsor 31 students!  This is fruit that will remain. This is what we long for that the vision is reproduced in others!  The cost is $120 per student per year.  January 12th the School began. We will be sponsoring 49 students.  Out of those in Kenya that stood up to take the challenge to sponsor  13 students have been paid for.  Not every one kept their word.  But we are glad they were inspired and we pray that they will be able to one day.  Many people in Kenya only make  $120 a month in wages. So it is a huge step of faith but for us it is $10 month which might mean one skipped meal out or 2 cups of coffee in order to give.  the next time you send $10.00 think of what it could do for a student.

IMG-20121216-01825

We had many wonderful days in Kenya, We spoke several times in services and held a leadership conference for Pastors. Chuck gave the commencement address to this years graduates a class of 65 Students; 45 of which we sponsored through our faithful Wednesday night  group and others that saw the value of this great investment.

Our time with the children was precious and never long enough but in order to do them justice I wrote a separate blog just for them.  James read it and took it to the home so each one could hear what I wrote and be encouraged.  I am loving facebook as there is a computer lab close to the school/home and I am getting requests to be a facebook friend with those who are old enough to have an account!

In closing we have so many invitations to nations to come.  The nations we have touched are waiting for us to come again.  With your help we can do it.  We need to do it. It is our great commission.

Thank you for taking the time to read about these wonderful people in my heart.

Connie

See other posts for reports on  the other nations we traveled to this year.

Advertisements

The Father’s House Children

I had to make a post just for the children so you can read and not grow tired.

Now on to my kids; this year in Kenya we spoke with each child who attended high school. It was harder for most than what they expected but each one worked hard and they are thankful for those who believe in them enough to pay the school fees.

Sam  Sam wrote he was nervous at first but finally got the courage to ask for help and scored his highest scores.  I knew it was in you Sam. I believe in you!

Joyce at the DamJoyce started out in a new area of Kenya, knowing no one but made lots of friends, scored very well and endured the colder weather.  God has great things for you Joyce.

James and AnneAnne,  James younger sister  has struggled, she is smart but things don’t come easily. She said, “I won’t let you down. I will work hard.”  We surround you with our love Anne. You will succeed.

BentaBenta is personality plus. She wants to work in international relations. I have no doubt she will make a great mediator.  She had a setback in boarding school and returned to Father’s House High School to finish her school year. The boarding school was not a constructive environment. We want them in an environment of learning and peace. You have too much to give to the world Benta to settle for second best.

Tom at ndikini DamTom did well, made it through and is so thankful. Tom is bold and he will go far because he has hope. He has dreams. Press on Thomas you can do it!

Beatrice  (2) Beatrice, my bright and brilliant star began slow and finished at the top of her class. How great is that? She is Tom’s twin sister, my inspiration. You look at challenges and laugh. Nothing is too big for you!

Caroline close upCaroline, she is hiding behind the scenes watching observing, laughing unsure of strangers; these funny people who come each year. Her letters reveal her heart. She says; “I am happy because you want to see us excel and succeed in life. You are part of our family in a faraway country. Thank you for being consumed with my life.”  I am consumed with your life dear Caroline, be strong and courageous.

Esther 2012 close up (2)

This year, Esther and Akinyi have taken the 8th grade exam and are awaiting the results to see if they passed, and if so what high school will accept them. Esther is brilliant and may be accepted by a National High School which is the highest ranking in Kenya.

Akinyi Dam picsAkinyi Is full of faith, determined to move forward with her education and be all she can be. Her struggles are far more than most would endure. She has a learning disability that Kenyan teachers are not equipped to handle. But that doesn’t deter Akinyi. She will succeed, she will move forward and she will graduate. That is what she told me and I believe in you Akinyi!

IMG-20121217-01902There are 14 children, some young adults, each worthy of mentioning. But the problem is, as Chuck says I make people’s eyes gloss over.  When I begin I can’t stop telling you of each and every one.  Their future has been given in to our hands for our joy to be full.  Jesus said, “Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.” John 16:24

2012 christmas clothesWe ask for their tuition to be paid. We ask to supply them with uniforms and Christmas clothes and then to go one step further and have actual gifts.  James put it this way. “With everything contributed, you have made dreams come alive!  Every year in December, you shower us with gifts. We are grateful and our hearts are filled with joy for you. I must say, during the December period is the happiest moment of the year.”

Jacque and James our college students

Our college students

Then there is this note, her words echo some of my own feelings. “It has been another year that you have put all your efforts into not only making our Christmas great but also watering the seeds of love you have planted into each and every one of us. at times I just sit and meditate on How awesome God is for bringing both of you and your entire family into our lives. You make me feel loved and appreciated, wanted and accepted. You gave me and many more hope for tomorrow. Thank you for being there for me and us. Deep inside I will always be grateful to God for you”  I, dear girl am grateful to God for you!

Mama Regina Robbed

In Kenya when a Mama Reginawoman has a daughter, the mother is then called by the daughter’s first name. Lucy Njeri is loving known to us as Mama Regina. We met her in 2005 on our first trip to Ruiru Kenya. We noticed her smiling face and her dedicated service to the church.  Her story is one of victory and great sorrow.

A widow and mother of two, she lived in extreme poverty at that time. Her house was a rat-infested mud hut which filled with water during the rainy seasons. She had an incurable illness, was jobless and she was skin and bones. Even her mother called her “The dead!” Daily meals were not an option.  Lucy began to attend the Father’s House. She decided if she was going to die she would die serving the Lord.

We watched her work so hard, diligent, faithful. She scrubbed the floors with this bucket and a rag. She wiped down every chair, cleaned the bathrooms, swept the dirt walk ways, shook out the rugs.  Afterwards she would often fall asleep on the floor of the church because of her illness and the strength it took to clean. This sickness was robbing her of life. But she became such an asset to the ministry they began to pay her for the work.  God was showing himself strong on her behalf.

Her daughter Regina had a son, Morgan; we lovingly termed him “the church mouse” as he was there with grandma every day. What a smile he had.  What fun we had with him. There was never a dull moment. He captured all our hearts.

               It has now been 8 years;  each year we return to find Mama Regina working and smiling. This death sentence illness was loosing its grip; strength and health were springing forth. This picture from 2007 is dark but here she is dressed beautifully, I could hardly recognize her.  Her joy was evident to all, her life glowing with warmth. Her voice had been attacked by the illness making it deep and gravel sounding, so her smile and service were her modes of communication.You think… Lord, how can I be more like this woman? She is such a role model.  Mama Regina

Her time working at the church put her in a position to hear the teachings in the daily services and the bible school. She began to hear that the healing and restoring power of the love of God was at work in her. The Church knew she was so valuable they made her the Custodial manager of the facility. They also made sure she had nutritious food to eat and medicine.  Love and Life began to take hold. We returned each year to find her the joy of the day!  Then in the fall of 2011 we learned her daughter Regena died of pneumonia. She had remarried and moved to the coast. But when she passed so suddenly the husband no longer wanted to  keep Morgan. Morgan had health issues and needed constant medical care.  We saw him once again in December and put together a small Christmas package. Morgan needed steroids and his kidneys were failing him. His sorrow of the loss of his mother was a heavy load to bear. Our sweet Mama Regina carried all this on her. Her smile was there but the light-hearted joy was harder to see. She was grieving as we were with her.  Then once again the unthinkable came, we got an email Morgan’s health is serious, please pray. As we sat on the couch praying for Morgan a text came to our phone: Morgan had passed. We wept. Our dear Mama Regina, the widow, once again faced death in her family, her daughter and grandson. She knows her heavenly father is holding her in his wings. He comforts those who mourn. Precious to the Lord is the death of his saints.   And we shall be together again.

Africa, Kenya is too well known for this sorrow, needless death because of lack of medicines and facilities to treat. So we honor you Mama Regina dear Lucy for your strength and faithful service, for your example to all around you, for your courage, for never giving up, for knowing and walking with God your father and Jesus your Lord. Last December as we walked the church grounds I could hear her singing joyful songs as she cleaned; another sign of the healing power of God in her body.

So all this makes the enemy mad. Like Job, in all this she didn’t blame God, she praised him. And like Job, satan attacked once again. thieves broke into her one room home, no longer a mud hut flooded during the rainy season; a nice home filled with treasurers of love and service stolen. In one foolish moment the enemy found a fool to do his biding.

That makes me mad! Mad enough to act. Mad enough to get revenge on the enemy, to do like Jesus go heal, give, serve and love others! Join me in this victory march. Help me restore what the enemy has taken.  Help me do something.

Left to right: Mama Regina, Mary, Ann and Connie 2011

Tea Party

I want to share with you one of my passions and hope that you will hear my heart.

Almost 2 years ago I was sitting in my $200,000 house on 2 acres of land, with a new car, 2 beautiful boys, I had just quit a very stressful job and was then immediately blessed with a job of my dreams. I had a huge walk in closet with tons of clothes and shoes, I could go get a starbucks whenever I wanted, I could go out to eat with friends, go on dates with my husband and never worry about money (to an extent).
I remember one day my heart being heavy as my sister and her husband were in Austin, Tx trying to raise money to start a church and the funds were not coming in. My parents were launching FULL time into the development of The HELPS Organization and I got a letter in the mail from a former student of mine asking me to support her mission trip. I had another friend leaving for Turkey for 2 years and I wanted to help all of them, I wanted to give and wished I could send them all hundreds of dollars.
I have always been good at making money. Ever since I was a very young girl I had a “side hustle.” In that moment as I looked at all the Blessings the Lord had given me so undeservingly, I made this resolve to use my gifts and talents to help raise money for others instead of keeping it for myself. My first project was refinishing a desk and chair. My goal was to sell it to raise money to help support my sister. I wanted to raise $300 and I achieved my goal. Next I made new tags for my handmade jewelry stating that the proceeds would go to helping young women around the world. I then had a garage sale for HELPS and put together a Holiday Market at East Cross United Methodist. Through those events I was able to raise $2000.  Which isn’t a ton of money, but is special to me, because I would never be able to just give $2000 out of my pocket. I wish I could. Then I also regularly take items to consignment shops and send HELPS the money. I do all this because I have been blessed, I lack nothing. And I am convinced it is better to give. I want my whole life to sing praises to the one who has clothed the lilies and feeds the sparrows.Holiday MartHoliday mart 2 

This year I have continued to take items to consignment, we have done 2 HELPS garage sales and made a combined total of about $1200 and the Holiday Market is around the corner. It starts November 25th and will go through December 2nd. I want to inspire you, I want to compel you, I want to stir you to look around at your life to count your blessings and not get caught up in the culture of this world to acquire more and more, but consider blessing others with the abundance you have been given.
My next project is to have a Tea Party to introduce my Special friends to some  beautiful young women in other countries. 
Emily French Director of education for HELPS
We look forward to hearing your great ideas on how you too can do the same and make a difference for others.

Resource: a source or supply from which benefit is produced.

Chuck and I read 2 Corinthians 9 the other day in the Amplified version. For years I have loved, leaned on and relied on this scripture. As we read through verses 10 and 11……

10 And [God] Who provides seed for the sower and bread for eating will also provide and multiply your [resources for] sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness [[e]which manifests itself in active goodness, kindness, and charity].

11 Thus you will be enriched in all things and in every way, so that you can be generous, and [your generosity as it is] administered by us will bring forth thanksgiving to God.

It struck me that it says “God will Multiply YOUR resources for Sowing”. Paul was reminding the Corinthians that they had promised to give an offering. But in giving to others God finds a way to multiply your resources! Then as our righteousness manifest itself in active goodness, kindness and charity (or giving to the poor); We (YOU) are enriched in ALL things and in EVERY way. Why? So you can continue to be generous.  It is a cycle, a continuous cycle but it goes three ways: You, others and God. You give to others, they praise God for your giving and God gives you more resources for giving.

Verse 7 after telling us to not give in the wrong way, says…..”for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving].”

Did you see that?! Is God unwilling to do without you? What about those you give too?

Verse 14 says “ And they yearn for you while they pray for you, because of the surpassing measure of God’s grace (His favor and mercy and spiritual blessing which is shown forth) in YOU.”

Chuck and I have experienced this very thing. We have become family with these precious people in Kenya, Peru, India. Each time we return our bond grows stronger. They are praying for us thanking God for the gifts we bring. In return God is increasing our resources.   I want you to receive the same blessings! I want your fruit to show forth in acts of kindness, goodness and charity. I want you blessed and the fulfillment of the word that says God is unwilling to do without you! I and their independence increase. Now each year some of the bible students will sponsor another because of the blessing they have received in being sponsored. We see leadership coming forth. We see new businesses started. We see children have a chance for an education and in return their goal is to do the same for others.

I have many friends and associates in the same line of work, taking resources to the poor. When I see a newsletter I do something. It is not always big, but it is something. If I can give big I do; if I can’t I do something.  I have a friend who gives $10.00 what will this do? In Jamaica it will feed lunch to a  child for a month at school. How big is that? $25 provides a supply of food basics to a family for a month in Romania.

We have others that give $15 a month, that more than provides a bible school student a year’s tuition and yet another giver who gives so much that it provides for the operation of the Children’s home each month.

Now this also struck me as I read this passage of scripture about God increasing our resources. He has added NATIONS  to us. He has given us more Nations to sow into! This December we will arrive in Rwanda on the 6th. We will be meeting with Pastors who have seen things that no one should see. But it is a nation on the mend, and we have a chance to speak into their lives. Wow!

So to close this note, I want to say you are so important, to me, to God and to those you will touch by giving. HELPS is a resource, an avenue, and a conduit to send your love to other’s.

These are the opportunities coming up:*

Needed by January 2013

High School tuition and school supplies, 8 children per year: $750 each student

University tuition 2 students: $1750 each per semester.

May 1 2013

Trip tp Peru $4000

We know we can  meet these needs it was done last year by precious people seeing the value of giving with a cheerful heart. They are enjoying the fruit of their giving.

Join in the cycle of love and see what new resources begin to open up in your life.

*please note these are estimated amounts based on last years expenses.

Home again

The days passed quickly here in Chennai India. The humid hot weather makes you wonder how people live in it with out relief. We took our refuge in the bedroom with an air-conditioner to cool back down and rest.  Our bodies are so turned around from an 11.5 hour time change, so we rest, pray and study for the next meeting. The first meeting was to begin at 9 AM it was close to 10:30 AM when we started with about 20 people straggling in the door. Transportation is by motorcycle, bike, foot or taxi. It is the rainy season and there is road construction on their small street outside the church.

Flooded roads make travel difficult

The street has been dug up for drainage and the dirt was not compacted, so the rain washed it away leaving a huge hole which makes the road unusable by vehicles along with piles of dirt left down the center of the road. You must drive off the side of the piles to get to the house. Our first night arriving the cows that wander the streets freely found it a nice place to sleep and we had to wake one to move pass.

The meeting ends about 2:30 and lunch is served, Rice, chicken and gravy. We are given special food with less spices knowing we are not accustom to indian spices. They also had some vegetables, eggplant and drumsticks. I tried a taste and the spices are so hot I need water. They had a crispy bread, we asked to try; it was similar to a crispy tortilla but made from lentils. It had the consistency of a potato chip but the size of a tortilla. Then they serve a dessert, described as  “sweet sweet”. That is their word when something is very sweet, there is no word in Tamil.

I found that there are many English words that are not in the Tamil language, they just use the English. So you hear them talking and there will be understandable (that is for me) words interjected. When I asked how to say please in Tamil they said “Please”!  Thank you is “Nandree”.

The Pastor’s conference is three days, it rains hard with lightning and thunder each evening but it is keeping some of the heat away. The clock in the back of the church tells me it is 32 to 35 celsius which is 93 and 98 degrees farenheit. This is in the church during the meetings. Thank goodness for ceiling fans.

We offered the pastors a time for questions and comments so we could hear feedback. Are we getting the message through? What are they hearing, can it be applied in their life and ministry? These are important ingredients to a successful time together. They tell us “We have never heard teaching like this before; you are telling us the importance of stewardship”. They caught the challenge we are God’s mangers here on earth, do it well.  They are encouraged and so many came to say “thank you, I learned so much”.

Prayer and hugs

Pastors can carry a heavy load, burdened down with the concerns of life and working with others; these Pastor’s left refreshed, happy, with new energy to serve with gladness. We ended the meeting greeting, shaking hands and praying  for some, we then retreat to our room to cool down once again.

Friday we take a taxi to the beach. We decide to walk in the water but the sand burns our bare feet so we walk in sand filled sandals the long journey back to the street where our taxi awaits.

Bay of Bengal

I am saddened by all the trash thrown in the sand, It takes away so much of the beauty of the World when trash is left behind. It is a huge issue in Chennai.

We then head to a mall to have McDonald’s India style interestingly there are no hamburgers on the menu! Mc Chicken or Mc Veggie or Spicy! We went for the Mc Chicken. Then  we were off to an ice cream shop for dessert . We have still had one more church service and a long plane ride home.  We are thankful the taxi has air-conditioning and the windows can remain up.

We have our one last meeting with the church members who are gentle sweet people who are very shy. You have to reach out and make them feel secure in your presence. It was a special time as we sang and praised God and then they prayed for us. We had such precious moments together with our hard-working dedicated friends.

It was a great journey, a time of celebration of the progress of the church building. Just two years before it was concrete walls and the floor filled with sand. Today it has a roof, door, windows and lots of ceiling fans to try to keep it cool. It needs to have a permanent roof, then they can install air-conditioning. So there is opportunity to give towards the final completion. They also want to begin a bible school for training and then begin an orphanage, they have already registered for the orphanage but one step at a time. We walk together  with them seeing progress and rejoicing.

God bless you Sam and Beaulah God bless Chennai India.

Chennai India

The ladies side of the church on Sunday morning. White is the traditional choice of clothing color on Sundays for all.

Day 2 of the Pastor’s conference. We are speaking on stewardship in the many areas of life, the holy calling, the bible, our families, our money and much more. The Pastor’s seem to be getting a lot out of the teachings. One said ” We have never heard teaching like this before” Chuck taught we are manager’s for God. God is like the owner of a store that you don’t see and we are his manager’s on earth taking care of business. We must do a good job for the owner. He also used the example of a tailor. Sunday, Chuck was measured for a white suit but when we picked it up Monday night it was too small. God knows our measurements and he has the right suit for you.  God knows just where to place you in life to flourish. God doesn’t take wrong measurements.

The weather is so hot,  there is not much relief. The church stays between 93 and 96 degrees with fans blowing. How do I know? There is a clock telling us the time and temperature in both the house and the Church.

We are thankful for Sam and Beaulah who gave up their bedroom to us it has an air conditioner so we shower off and rest under the nice cool air, the rest of the house stays around 88 degrees.

It is fun working with an interpreter as they come to us afterwards and say they are getting so much from the teachings. They probably learn more as they have to think through it twice!  What a job that is to hear in one language and speak it out in another.  Oh how I want to speak more than one language.

Here is a note for those of you who hate speaking to India people over the phone like with Dell and other world-wide companies. They understand their English perfectly it is yours that is hard to understand!  They don’t understand why you can’t understand them or why you accuse them of not speaking English.  It is kind of like going from Boston to New Orleans. We have had such fun at our dining room table having friends from Kenya, India, Jamaica, Peru, and Nepal all trying to communicate in English with each other. Chuck and I just sit back laugh and enjoy because each understands perfectly what they are saying with their accent and no one else can get it!  But if we take the time to listen pretty soon you can figure out the accent and understand it all.  It is kind of like listening to Jesus,  My friends be gentle in life; we live in an international world, we are connected by internet, airplanes, phones and so much more. Take time to listen.

Monday was my birthday. When I get home I am going to meet my friend Adell at IHOP so I can get my senior discount and we can share our birthday’s together.  Freda, Sam and Beaulah found out on Facebook that is was my birthday, it was also our tour day so we went to the Chennai zoo. It was really nice they had many kinds of animals and many of those animals. So you didn’t see just one in a cage but families.   We saw many of the animals of India so it was nice. They needed more signs telling about the animals.  It was also very hot and humid. Sam met a friend that works for the zoo and we ended up getting VIP treatment in a golf cart tour. We were to go to lion safari but it was getting late and we were having to wait too long. So we called it a day. I was satisfied.

They then took us to the Lemon tree Hotel and restaurant where we had a nice meal. When we exited the building it was raining and the traffic was terrible. Driving in Chennai is an experience!  Add rain and oh boy! They stopped by a bakery and purchased a cake and off we went until we got to the dirt roads our driver did very well and we made it back with out incident.  No cows sleeping no mud holes too deep.

Once home they had candles and sang to me. They have a tradition like we do with wedding cakes, the birthday person cuts the cake and gives a bite to the husband or sibling or someone. They were surprised we didn’t do the same! They said “you do” and I replied “with my hands?”   Even cake they eat with their hands and they are very good at it.   It was a nice day with many happy day greeting from family and friends via Facebook.

I got bit by something I could feel it under my dress in the taxi I have a large red rash on my thigh. Looks pretty nasty it was painful and itchy. It kind of looks like a spider bite. I am using antibiotic and anti itch cream on it. Oh what fun.

We are thankful to be here and look at the Pastors and the hard work they have to do here in their home country.  We are thankful for Sam and Beaulah and all the work in outing together this conference. For Gail Buse International Director of FCF for sending us here and helping with the cost.  We are thankful for our Pastor’s Fred and Cookie and all the support they give to us! We are thankful for The Carpenter’s Workshop Community who have been so faithful and generous and believe in this calling in our hearts and always encourage us to keep going.

We are thankful for you!

Chuck and Connie