25 August 2015

Restoration in a Turkana Family.

Warning: this is a long story!  But I think it's worth your time :-). So grab some coffee... Or sweet tea (just don't tell me if its chickfila :-) )

Sometimes I have to pinch myself in moments like the one I'm going to share with you today. I ask Papa how is it I get to see these incredible stories of restoration. And he whispers back "Everyone has a chance at not only being part of people's stories but you yourself have a story of redemption in Me. Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God".  Sometimes for us to be in awe of God and be so overwhlemed by other's stories of redemption, we must let him purify our hearts. And then we see Him, but not always like we think we will. He makes our hearts beat with His until we are walking to the beat of His heart and His ways. It has nothing to do with us. Nothing we can do in and of ourself. We simply say yes and have a willing heart. It's all for His glory. His goodness. His testimony. 

On this journey we walk, one step at a time, every beat in tune with God, you suddenly find yourself asking questions like this one:  How do I get to see these incredible stories of redemption?  Because then you see people's stories from His perspective. They're beautiful. 

"...for they will see God" 

Sometimes on this earth, the way we see God is through other peoples stories.  He manifest His presence through people that are restored. This story I share is one of lives being resued, restored, healed, delivered and then this beautiful time of restoration with the family we originally rescued them from.  So may you be blessed and encouraged with us too!

It has been our mission and mandate since establishing Mattaw Children's Village in 2007. 

RESCUE a life
REDEEM a soul. 
RELEASE the Kingdom. 

He just keeps bringing it to new depths. 

If you haven't yet met two of our girls, let me introduce you.  They are our oldest set of twin girls, Mercy and Jennifer. Since we have many Mercy's, she goes by Ebei (pronounced: EBay), her Turkana name. Yes, these girls are originally from Turkana.  When their mom passed away when they were young, the girls were separated. Jenifer went to live with an aunt who is about 10 minutes from Mattaw. The aunt was the only option for Jenifer at the time and when we met them, it was a very difficult situation that Jenifer was living in. Ebei was sent back up to Turkana to a remote village. She took care of her grandmother, cleaned house and looked after animals. When our social worker, Humphrey, introduced us to Jenifer in 2009, we found out about her twin. They started to call the relatives in the village where Ebei was, to tell them the opportunity was there for Ebei to be back with her sister and they would be able to go to school. The grandmother wasn't too trustworthy of us. Which is understandable and we were glad she cared for Ebei enough to want to know who we are. So the uncle visited and saw what a great opportunity it was. Thankful God brought justice for Ebei. Soon the girls were reunited at 8 years old in 2010 and we welcomed them into Raha (Joy) house. At the time, it was the second house to open at Mattaw Children's Village.  When Ebei came to Mattaw, she told us that she was never go back to Turkana. The living conditions were harsh, especially for a 9 year old girl.  Since coming into a family at Mattaw, we've seen both girls radically changed by God's love. They've been raised up in a godly family. They both have also become leaders. They're now 14 and full of life, love and pursuing talents. Jenifer loves to lead worship and Ebei loves to dance. We are so thankful for this past year of having the organization Joshua Blueprint come in and train up our teenagers in their talents such as dance, drama, singing and instruments. (That was a nice little side note of testimony)

Last year we took a group of Mattaw children and a few house parents to Turkana for our first mission trip with Mattaw Family. It was the first time we felt our older kids and house parents were well equipped to now be the missionaries. So much fire and power in this mission of raising missionaries from within this country! Ebei was at the point in her life where she was ready to go. We didn't feel this was the trip to see family yet. And we also weren't sure where their village was or if we were even welcomed to come. 

This year, when talking to the kids about coming for another mission, this time being a different place and doing the M4 Kids Camp, Jenifer and Ebei were more than excited to come. One call after another and we had the invite from their family to visit. Turns out, it's about an hour and a half drive from where we now base out of in Turkana. We weren't really sure what to expect but we showed up and saw God beautifully restore the family and these girls. 

This is the grandmother. We gathered in a circle under a big tree and the uncle gave introductions. They shared many stories and went through who each family member was. It was so healing for our girls. The grandmother gave a speech and had us all laughing. She's a funny lady!  And no language barrier could keep us from knowing that. They were translating from the turkana language to swahili and then swahili to English. At one point, one of our Mattaw house moms that was with us suggested to me to have the girls present the grandmother with their lesso. A lesso is a piece of cloth used for MANY purposes. It can be a skirt, an apron when cleaning or cooking, it can tie up a baby on your back, it can be a blanket to sit on the ground on, you can carry stuff like firewood in it like a sack or it can cover your items you are storing in your house. I'm sure the uses are endless. Kenyans can be so resourceful, I love to learn. So I whisper to Jenifer to go grab her lesso from the vehicle. She does and the family proceeds to finish speeches. Everyone finishes and it's the girl's turn to talk last. They bring the lesso to the grandmother. The relatives are explaining to grandma that the girls are gifting her with a lesso. The girls helped grandma stand up and we all were in tears as we watched grandma cry because of the love the girls showed her. 

God's heart is all about family and restoration. We could feel His tangible presence in that open desert field.  The girls talked and testified of God's goodness. They shared how they've been raised in a good and loving place. How they get to go to school and want to study hard so they can come back to this village and help them.  Bud and I look at each other wide eyed and almost in tears again as we were just so proud of them and their hearts. I could cry again just typing this!  

We prayed for the family and shared Jesus.  

Then we left and started dreaming up how we will come back next time with the projector, the Jesus film and a lot of love. Because any sort of true restoration you see on earth is just an overflow from what Jesus did on the cross. May we never forget that!  

It was a heaven invading earth kind of day. 

22 August 2015

M4 Turkana Kids Camp: Day 5

Our last day!  What an ending to one wild and crazy week. It was the last day I strummed this baby taylor (guitar) for these precious treasures hidden in the desert. I will for sure miss tiny feet crowded below the guitar. It was a bittersweet day as we physically were ready to rest but at the same time our hearts wanted to keep lovin the children. What huge breakthrough happened in such a small time. We believe though that Holy Spiit continues to work in little hearts after we leave. 

"He will teach you all things and bring to your rememberance all things I have said to you" John 14:26

Lucy spoke in the morning to all the children. (Lucy, former mom at Kimbilio girls house and huge heart and calling to Turkana people). It was powerful and exactly how Holy Spirit wanted to finish off the week spiritually. Many were healed and delivered as she led them through prayers to pray through on major issues the kids face. One of the biggest one being alcohol. They all laughed when she asked who has been drunk. Then most of them proceeded to raise their hand. It was amazing though to see them repent from it and ask God to help them overcome and break the cycle of drunkeness in their family. 

Afterwards, Mercy Ebei from Mattaw, stood to share a quick testimony. She finished with talking about how God has given her a talent of dancing and how she's been taught how to use her talents for Jesus.  Everyone wanted to see her dance, so we put some dance tunes on and she confidently busted a move. It rocked!  

From the combination of children being set free after Lucy talking to them and then dance music blaring, it was only right that we have a dance party. So we did!  The joy of the Lord is so much fun to see in children. Eventually though, it was time to break into tribes for the last time and go to their classes. Our teachers; Bud, Edwin, Dorcas and Rebecca really gave it their all this week. They finished the week strong. Here's a picture of my attempt to get all the tribes in one picture. 

We fed at least 1,000 children on Friday. That's a lot of beans and rice!  Praise God that we had enough down to the last child on the last day.

It was a miracle that Rebecca and I got a thing done with so many sweet littles that wanted to snuggle. A baby with Down's syndrome and a super malnourished baby took everything in us not to quit camp and not just play with these two. 

Speaking of the little malnourished babe. We had the opportunity to go talk to the mom in her home. Heaven invaded and the mom made the decision to give her life to Jesus. We asked what she wanted and she said "to be free from benign an alcoholic". It was a beautiful decision to see made!  Nothin like seeing Jesus rescue another soul from the pit of hell. Her hope was restored and her name written in heaven. We saw her smile as we left and that was huge.  Please pray with us as we take steps to help. 

It was a wonderful week to say the least. We are excited this is the first to many.  We are so thankful Papa God loves all his children so much to have provided every single need this week.  As we jumped in the car, the crowded around to say bye, thank you and that we should greet all our american friends that helped make this possible. Sweetest little treasures hidden in the desert....

Day 6 for our team of volunteers involved a day of rest and play. We went to lake turkana today. So thankful we could relax and soak in the water with the sand and sun. 

To top off the whole week, Elisha was baptized today!  He's been asking for around 2 years now. This week he sat in Buds class everyday and intently listened as his dad taught the teenage boys.  It was clear that his heart was in the right place and he has understanding of what it means to give your life to Jesus and be born again by Holy Spirit. I just kept hearing Jesus say "do not hinder the little ones from coming to me". So it was a joyful time in the lake as Bud and I had the honor of baptizing our first born. 

21 August 2015

M4 Turkana Camp: Day 4


This life we live. It's full of joy and full of sorrow. It's full of so much love.  I can't imagine doing life without the comfort of Holy Spirit, without the love of Jesus and without wisdom and guidance from God.  I'll share the joy part of yesterday first....

We had a beautiful day once again. We started out again with our team to sort beans. Everyday more children from the camp join in to help. It's super sweet! 

Then the sweetest little hungry bellies were full of porrige. Their smiles speak loudly. 

We started the morning singing and dancing again. The numbers grew the first couple of days and now it's a consistent number around 800 children. This morning, Vane, one of our teenage girls from Mattaw, led our time of praise and worship. Her voice shakes nations. 

Then we had our son Dan stand up and share his testimony. Another voice that was once not heard and now is.

 He now has a powerful testimony of what love and adoption looks like. This is a young man that once slept on the streets of Lodwar town (capital of Turkana). Back in April when we were here, Dan walked to town with me and showed me the area he used to beg for food and what cement slab he used to sleep on. He was seven. SEVEN years old. He remembers a shop owner giving him fish to deliver to the shop owners son and Dan ate it instead. And because of that, he sneaked into a bus and ran away to Kitale streets. And because of that, we found him on the streets of Kitale around age 8 or 9. He shared how adoption into our family changed his life but what changed him even more was adoption into God's family. Proud mama moment to see him confidently stand and testify of God's goodness and grace. 

Pastor Wilson then came and shared with the children. He has such an anointing and calling to the Turkana people. Amazing to see how the children respond to his fatherly love. It's an honor to partner with him and his family to see the Kingdom advance in this region. 

His children and ours are good buddies now and love to play the piano with the lead musician John from pastor Wilson's church.  

We then broke into tribes again. Our oldest group of young men are with our other son, Ian.  They are the tribe of Judah and the only group without a solid team color. They are the camo team. It is pretty fitting as we see these young men give their life's to be in Gods army. That the only fighting is spiritually, against the devil and his bad guys. It's beautiful to see Ian take a place of leadership and minister to these guys. They eat up every word of encouragement he has to give.  He's in the middle of this picture with a black and red hat on. (Where's Waldo!)

While everyone was in class and playing games, Claire, Mama Lucy and I found baby Lucy to feed and love on. 

I am completely smitten over this little. And here's a funny part. Here name isn't Lucy!  It's Ruthie. Either the sisters name is Lucy or we heard wrong and the sister just let us call her what we heard. After camp yesterday, our Rebecca found the mom. And for sure we found out the mom's name is Rebecca!  Ha. Of course it is. So nurse Rebecca, Pastor Paul (pastors the church in IDP camp who is part of Pastor Wilson's church), Mama Lucy and I sat and talked to baby Ruthie's mom. She was a bit drunk but not to the point of not being able to talk clearly with us. She has seven children. All the children have the same dad. After baby Ruthie was born, the man ran off and remarried. So when Mama Lucy ministered to her and told her it's not ok to drink, she admitted its wrong and that she does it because she's stressed out trying to feed and school her children. It was completely heartbreaking. But as we shared about Jesus, her heart opened. We are king to her house today and look forward to what God is doing in her life.  Our nurse Rebecca's heart is exploding to get this babe rehabilitated physically. Updates to come. 

We ended the day with beans and rice and seeing more happy faces. 

After camp we had one of the most amazing time of reuniting two of our Mattaw girls with their family. It was one of those moments of wanting to pinch myself to make sure it was real. I could make a movie out of it. These girls are twins living in house two at Mattaw. And I'll have to write a completely separate post here on the blog to share the full story. I promise I'll share soon!  

Now for the sorrow part of our day. I share this to ask for your prayers. Especially for the mattaw children. Our teacher Dorcas who is here with us received a phone call this morning to let us know teacher Winner passed away last night. She's been a teacher at Mattaw since 2008. We aren't sharing with the Mattaw youth here with us until after the camp. We are now starting our last day and want to finish strong. We were told that Teacher Winnie became sick last week with an illness unknown. They rushed her to the hospital last night then she passed away. We believe she is with Jesus now and take great comfort in that. She was a great teacher and we are thankful for the years she served our littles. Your prayers are greatly appreciated. 

Off to start our last day. As always, expectant for great things to happen with these crazy beautiful children!  

19 August 2015

M4 Turkana Kids Camp: Day 3

Day 3!  Oh what an incredible day it was!  

What a ride. Jesus is just absolutely beautiful in how he does EVERYTHING in its time. Day one and two we learned A LOT. So much order had come and we know there's more to come. It's crazy to say the least! Usually you'd have a handful of kids in a group of 1,000 that stand out as the trouble makers.  You know the ones, always fighting and causing trouble, talking when we talk, pinching, biting, pushing, stealing. Well, in this group it's the opposite. Almost ALL started out like that on day one. Praise God though, we keep pushing through to see them as God does and LOVE ALWAYS WINS.

On day two I was so stirred, knowing many need to come into Gods family and I went to bed asking the Lord when do we put the call out and make time for them to let God work on hearts. Day 3 morning I didn't think much of it until we got up to lead worship. I taught them a new song about the fruits of the spirit and BAM. The gospel started flowing out of that and we shared with them how bad fruit is hitting, anger, biting, pinching, rebellion, disobedience, etc. and what good fruit it. Before we started, Mama Grace and I knew the presence was thick. Grace said "mom, the fire and power of Holy Spirit is felt this morning". And that was a good clue to me to give time for the Lord to harvest souls! So we did! Around 50 or more stood and gave their lives to Jesus.  We were covered with Holy Spirit goosebumps!  Everything is flowin now! And it's all so simple. Feed bellies and feed souls. And they get born again! I could feel the fire of Holy Spirit to my core as I got to tell them that their names are now written in the Lambs book of Life and all of heaven rejoices.  And no person or religion can erase their name! We then praised and worshipped Jesus and I saw the most beautiful vision of Jesus sitting down and these kids jumping all over Jesus, on his lap, his arms, his shoulders. And Jesus just calmly sat there full of joy as his children came "home". All glory and praise to God! Oh he is faithful.  

In the classrooms, our four teachers went over again what salvation in Jesus is and asked those that made the decision in the big meeting to again stand up. In the classes there were about double the number!  In the classroom setting, our teachers are able to teach more on what it means to follow Jesus and more understanding comes to the children. Jesus tells us to have faith like children and again, I'm learning what that means. They get it and don't hold back when it comes to responding to the full, undiluted gospel!  

One of our youth, Vane, from mattaw has really come alive as she's leading these children. It was a beautiful site yesterday to see her pray for the children that wanted prayer. 

The picture below you can see a little child on the back of his big sister.  This is a common site as many older children are pretty much raising their younger siblings. We notice how when they are given water or food, their immediate instinct is to give their baby siblings. We are praying that mothers and fathers would break this cycle. That they would be mothers and fathers and children would be free to be children again and not stressed about where they'll get food to feed their baby siblings. MALACHAI 4!  

Yesterday our nurse Rebecca who works full time with us at Mattaw Children's Village, noticed a super tiny baby. The big sister was carrying this baby. The big sister being maybe 12. We found this baby to be at least 2 and some neighbors are saying maybe even 3 or 4. We have a huge heart to see malnourished babes restored and healed as we have brought in several like this to mattaw and have seen radical transformation. We knew it was an even bigger problem here and currently have partnerships forming to help bring in vitamins and food packets to help these babes. And here's our first of many. Rebecca about put her in her backpack to bring home :-) but we are thankful the babe has a mom so we will work with the mom to bring education and help her bring this precious little back to life. And guess what this little babe's name is? LUCY!  Another little malnourished Lucy that we get to see the love of Jesus restore her. 

Claire begged us over and over again to hold the baby until she finally convinced us she would be gentle. Not only was she gentle but she put baby Lucy to sleep.   While all the children were in classes or playing games, Claire sat in a claire for hours holding Lucy. I just thought I loved babies a lot ever since I was a young girl like Claire. But this girl, she has a double portion of love compared to what I had. And I love it!  I'm learning from her :). 

One again, our team and I just arrived for day four. I thought we'd become more tired as the days go on but Jesus is giving us strength supernaturally and we are more fired up today than any other day. We praise God for keeping sickness out of our camp and leadership group. We appreciate your prayers!  

18 August 2015

M4 Turkana Kid's Camp: Day 2

Hello again from the desert!  Day 1 was good but Day 2 was even better!  And we expect everyday will keep going that way. It's a learning experience, that's for sure!  Little things help in the long run. Like when to sort beans for lunch, when to give children water, how to organize 1,000 children to feed them and so on.  Our team is incredible. And that's a fact!  No offense to you Americans but our Kenyan team is perfect for this first kid's camp. They are for sure made for this!  It's beautiful to see Kenyans raise up to help bring up the next generation of laid down lovers of Jesus.  It's powerful to see a youth that was once a little boy sleeping on the streets, begging for food, stealing and high on glue... This youth is now transformed, totally in love with Jesus, equipped with the full gospel, empowered with Holy Spirit and now a leader to hundreds of children. It's miraculous!  And what it takes to see this generation break out of rebellion and bring revival. 

Yesterday, as you can see above in the pictures, our feeding lines doubled!  

Good to the last drop!  

Dorcas doing what she does best, Sharing the power and love of Jesus in the classroom. 

Sweetest littles... 

But don't let those smiles trick ya, they have all sorts of tricks. This sweet little went around all day sneaking into classes and causing trouble. But love never fails!  That love our team carries had her softened up to obey by the end of the day. Love always wins. 

And of course, Claire found her own little crew to love on.  Here she is in her element. 

On day two, the children heard about who Jesus is and scriptures that tell of His character. They then heard how Papa God is the same!  He's not in a bad mood!  He's in a good mood and loves His children and wants all to come into His family!  And Jesus' life showed the world who God is as He walked this earth. Jesus was the perfect example of God's heart on earth. And now we get to carry that same mission!  

We hope through these picture and short testimonies that you feel this week you are here in the crowd (in picture above)!  Thank you for your continued prayers and support!!  Prayers are oh so needed! 

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