I have a soft spot for the book of James in the New Testament. I am well aware of the fact that James has a tendency to concentrate on the concept of good works but I do feel that the motivation behind the works is the key to the whole book. Of course no work of human instigation will ever get us to heaven; it is only the work of Jesus in his glorious and gracious sacrifice of himself and our acceptance of it as the punishment for our sins that will bring us to eternal life. However, in the light of this truth we surely do not sit back and wait for it to come. The works spoken of in James’ letter are to be undertaken as a response to that gracious gift of mercy – a thankful and loving response of gratitude. In James 1:27 we read that “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
This is the strap line of Kids Alive International (www.kidsalive.org/ ). Whatever we do for this (or indeed other charities of this kind), be it a simple one off gift of a few pounds as one dear lady donated at a presentation at our local sheltered accommodation complex, the sponsorship of a child, pledging to support him or her in food, clothing and education, or using your talents offering physical work at one of the Kids Alive homes, James describes as being acceptable to our Father in Heaven.
Perhaps it is harder to adhere to the second part of the statement, that is to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. We cannot avoid being in the world but the challenge is to keep oneself from being of it. Our eyes must be fixed on Jesus as our role model. We could probably not do better than consider the old mantra “WWJD” or What Would Jesus Do? This is indeed a challenge. A test of our maturity as Christians is to become use Jesus as our yardstick our aim Christ-like in our daily actions.
Today St Peter’s Church Harold Wood heard an account of the ongoing work of Kids Alive International in Kenya which is supported by Hope for Kids International in the UK. Writing as Ambassador of Hope for Kids this post expands and amplifies the necessarily short summary.
As background, over the previous four years D and Jean Trollope, Sue and Jeremy Kingston, Alan and Penny Gillard, Sue Davis, my husband Allan and I (all from St Peter’s Church, calling ourselves “The A Team”) have worked in Kenya with our Mission partner, Ruth Henningham, for short periods of time. During the spring of 2012 it became clear to me that advantage could be taken of my availability to go out for two months to fulfil a need assisting the development of Mathematics teaching in the school at Karundas. After consultation with Ruth, as Education Adviser, and officials of the Board of both charities the trip was launched. A major aim was to spend more time to develop relationships already forged with the teachers in school and the carers in the Home.
During the next couple of months my role as Ambassador for Hope for Kids evolved and it became obvious that the Kenyan visit would provide an excellent foundation for my deeper knowledge about the whole of the work of Kids Alive International in that country.
So in January these two major tasks were the aims of the visit.
To a great extent these aims were addressed. As can be seen in earlier posts the teachers and staff of Kids Alive Kenya seemed to be pleased; good progress was made in this mutual learning process and we worked together very well. Living at Karundas for so long with the support of Ruth and Meredith, Kids Alive missionary, enabled strong social links to be developed with Silas, Home Manager, Patricia, Clinic nurse and other staff in the Home. Relationships with both staff and children were renewed and developed to the extent that a major success is that worksheets between Upminster and Karundas are currently being exchanged online.
It was my privileged, enabled by Ruth’s driving, to travel all over the country visiting the other homes operated by KAK and the experiences gained and photographs taken will be invaluable for presentations on Hope for Kids in the future. Although the time was necessarily brief, I was able to get a real feel of the country and it helped to make it real in the fact that I was able to stay overnight in two of the Homes in western Kenya.
Those were the two aims for my visit identified before leaving. However, by the time I left Kenya I was able to recognise a further reason for my being on the other side of the world. For probably the first time in my life I was forced to throw myself on God for support and reassurance. Going through security and waving goodbye to Allan on January 7th was the hardest thing I remember doing voluntarily. I have no complaint about the arrangements; I was met my Matt Parker, Purity and Meredith, given a great introductory briefing and conveyed to Karundas in comfort and ease. However, that first night alone in my bedroom, I literally fell on my knees and asked God what I was doing there. Over the two months I was there I learned to lean on Him and allow Him to work in my life in a way I never really had before. We take so much for granted here in the UK in terms of provision and possessions. I would like to offer a great “”thank you” to all who encouraged me in my trip to Kenya this year and to all those, Europeans and Africans who helped to make my time there so rewarding.
This morning as I listen to the news that Kenya is so far keeping calm during the current elections I pray for continued peace in that country and hope that I may be permitted to visit again some time soon
I am well and truly back in the UK now, although it took a day or two to realise it. I miss the regular pattern of the sun rising and setting in Kenya, as opposed to the time shifts within our own latitudes and I miss the lovely walk every morning through the gates on to Hallmead Academy. I miss the teachers and the lovely children who used to meet me on my way and I miss the sunshine and warmth that got right through to the bones.
On the other hand I do not miss the safari ants, the potholes in the road and paths, neither do I miss the cold showers when the water heater is not working.
Every location has its good and bad sides and today I have been sharing, as have so many all over the world, the joy of our Christian family. It was a delight to meet so many friends here and to listen to inspiring words as we renewed our Covenant Promise at St. Peter’s. As in Kenya, there are many who are suffering in mind, body or spirit and I look forward to catching up with those here, who I know and love and may be able to encourage.
Along with many others I pray now for the election now taking place in Kenya. My desire is that they may take place with a minimum of violence and that a definite result will be achieved. Kenya must be allowed to continue her way of life uninterrupted by skirmishes, fighting or worse. God be with this nation.
Well, Upminster has not changed much but perhaps I have. The experience that I hope I have transmitted to you over these two months has been one I could never have anticipated.
Now is the time to take stock and see how it can be built upon both here in the UK and in Kenya. The relationships I have forged and developed will, I hope, never fade and there is so much scope for our
partnership both in the gospel and the work in the school and Homes.
I intend to keep this blog extant regarding the work with Hope for Kids International and Kenya in particular, but it will not be done daily. Keep a regular check and see what’s going on.
Now its back to the allotment (shamba)!
Firstly, I must tell everyone who reads this that the computers in Deborah House are now fit and well. Silas is a star! He managed to find the time to take the machines to Nyeri, leave them for 24 hours and then pick them up the next day. He came round last evening and explained that one of the hard disks had to be replaced and software re-installed. The other machine was a simple matter of re-seating the fan (which I thought had been the problem). We had a lovely evening with Silas, Patricia, Chris, Anomat and the three of us. Ruth and Meredith are flying out to Zambia in a couple of days so there is a mass exodus from Karundas.
At present we are sitting in the Nairobi Kids Alive Kenya office, drinking coffee and eating samosas and mansazis. Tonight we are being taken out for supper by a team from the US who have just come back from safari. They had a problem in that their pastor leader was struck with appendicitis on the way between Mitaboni and Karundas and he had to have an operation in Nairobi. He seems to have recovered well.
Need to be up tomorrow by 4:45 a.m. for my driver to take me to the airport in order to catch the plane home.
Well this has been the real last day in school today. I have left as much as I can with the teachers and have been frantically writing out lesson plans for the classes in the near future. At least we can communicate by email and I do hope that comes to pass. The laminator is working and I have been able to leave 200 pouches for laminating further worksheets of lesson plans. There are two things I have been unable to achieve. One is are dealing with the printer in school – we have not got a printer driver for it – but John thinks he can get one put one th computer in Nyeri and has promised to do so. The other is getting the computers in Deborah House repaired. Silas has promised time and again to take them to his man in Nyeri but has been very busy and unable to find the time. I do hope this can be achieved soon as the girls were making such good use of the computer they had working in the house that it seems a shame that for such a small amount of money, which has already been pledged, they are without it.
That is the only bit of “bad news”; the rest is all good and I feel the achievement in terms of cooperation and relationships over the last two months has been tremendous. Everyone has worked and tried so hard and together we have made a great team.
Thank you Hallmead. There is such great potential in your school and I hope to be able to return some day and spend more time with all of you – staff and pupils – in the future.
I started the day by opening the birthday card from Allan that been sitting on my bedside cupboard since January 8th.
Mercy, a promising student
After that the day was largely similar to the other Mondays that I have had here except for the fact that it was examination day again for the pupils in school. They really are examined to death and there is less time to do the teaching because of all these days of exams. I spent the time sorting out the equipment cupboard and writing out more worksheets for them to use when I have come home – I will do the same tomorrow I expect and I must also distribute the said worksheets to the teachers.
Ruth drove over with the crate of sodas and a card for me during the morning and at the end of the afternoon I we all met in the staffroom. It was quite a formal occasion, starting with prayer and then a few speeches. We had the sodas and the cake that Mueni had made this morning. It seemed quite a lot but everyone had two pieces and I only just managed wo save a piece for Patricia, the nurse, who has been so supportive and generous to Allan and me.
A group of happy girls!
On the way home I called in at Patricia’s house and gave her the cake. She made me coffee and wanted to know when (!) I would be returning. Another trip this year or next?
Back home for tea and DVD. I ought to start packing but think I will leave it until tomorrow.
Another couple of photos of the kids are attached
We enjoyed the usual service at the Boys’ Home this morning. As it was my last time there I was asked to tell them about my work for the two months and was prayed for and wished well on my way home. Good wishes were sent to all at St Peter’s and also to Allan by name. You may be sure he has been missed greatly and not least by the women at the Ladies’ Bible Group. We were given getheri for lunch and Isaac was kind enough to see that I was given coffee to drink as I cannot take the tea here. The cook was shocked to find I drank it with no milk and, even worse, no sugar!
After lunch we drove back to Chaka to deliver Isaac Irena and Anomat at Isaac’a house with a piece of furniture and I bought sodas for me to offer tomorrow after school. Then we drove to Aberdare to give Philip a CD of photos taken yesterday when the visitors were here.
Of course, we spent a lot of time talking to him and meeting his new boss who wants to come to visit the Home. He is white – possibly South African – and definitely would like to maintain the contact we have with the Country Club.
We have just arrived home at 7:30 and I am about to prepare something for our meal. No idea what at the moment – I will have to search the larder.
I did my bit with the maize harvest
This morning started quite gently and I spent a little time sorting out the best way of packing my bags for the return journey. At about ten we got the message that the maize was being harvested on the shamba and so Ruth and I went over to photograph and lend a hand. All the kids from the Home were there learning how to harvest the crop which will go some way towards feeding the many hungry mouths. It is so good that the land belonging to the Home is now being farmed and good use is being made of it. There is scope for a lot more but this is an excellent start – I have already mentioned the sheep and goats.
Football for the lads
After the harvesting – and it was really hot! – we came back home and then were informed that a group of pastors and their wives and friends from The Redeemed Gospel Church in Nairobi were coming for a visit. The contact came from Philip, the manager of Aberdare Country Club. We all had lunch together and then the visitors were shown round the “Village”. They all loved the kids, who behaved naturally and happily. We then adjourned to the hall and the miracle I am about to disclose occurred.
Earlier in the week Silas had been taking one of our girls to her new High Schools,when he found a young girl with tremendous academic potential who had absolutely nothing and nobody to pay her fees and was some 32,000 Ksh in debt. He asked to see the girl and found she was praying for some help so that she could stay on at school. Silas was so impressed by her potential that he pulled some strings and arranged for the Home to pay for her out of the orphanage funds. He took the money over to the school yesterday.
Gifts from the Redeemed Gospel Church
Only 24 hours later, along with a donation of masses of food and clothing, the pastors of the Redeemed Gospel Church handed over a completely unexpected cheque for 50,000 Ksh! God certainly paid back generosity with greater generosity.
This is a wonderful witness to the world and it is even better in that it is Kenyans helping Kenyans.
Well, the teaching time has come to an end. Although I will still be working in school on Monday and Tuesday the children are doing a public exam on those days and no lessons will take place. However, the after school classes will continue and I will be doing practical work with Class 6 on Monday and Class 4 on Tuesday.
Curve drawing is fun
Today was really good and when I went into Class 7 this evening there was a small cheer. I don;t know whether it was because I was coming to teach them or whether it was because they knew `i was leaving. I trust it was the former. However, they seemed to enjoy the curve drawing work they were given and time passed very quickly.
It is strange but I just can’t imagine being anywhere else than here at the moment. The things that seemed so alien when I arrived have now merged into complete normality. The people have been so welcoming and I feel so at home with them that I may suffer from withdrawal symptoms on my return.
I do pray that the elections will not cause violence or anger in the country. The whole place seems to be totally involved in partisan backing for one party or another, mostly based on tribal roots. As in every other country where voting takes place the promises for the future from all parties are wild and overwheming. If they were all to be realised the country would be a perfect place!