28 March 2015

It's in the Wind

The week before last we ventured back up to northern Kenya to a region called Turkana. This is where the Turkana tribe lives.  It's always quite the journey every time God sends us there. For those that don't know, we have quite the history of working up there and is it ever increasing as we just keep praying and going when lead to. Here's the short of it.  (Which probably won't seem short but there's so much to it.)

In 2006 we moved to Kitale after working in an orphanage closer to Eldoret. We knew we were to start a new model and open a children's village. We began sitting on the streets in Kitale and got to know many of the kids living on the streets. It didn't take long to find that most kids on the streets in Kitale are from Turkana. The main reasons they leave their families in Turkana is due to hunger and wanting an education.  Some are chased off. Some orphans. The majority have families though. A recent statistic stated that 96% of Turkana is in poverty. I can believe it. Kitale is known for growing over 80% of the maize in kenya. It's green, lush, rains a lot during raining season and produces a lot of food.  Quite the opposite of Turkana. It's also the first big town to come to after you leave Turkana. Some kids can end up in Eldoret, Kisumu and Nairobi, but the majority land in Kitale. You can kinda get the picture why. 

So in 2006 we started planning, praying and dreaming big with God. Bud and I had both been to Turkana on short trips and instantly fell in love with the place and people. I still remember sitting in another missionary house with a piece of white paper and pencil, sketching plans for Turkana.  We thought Kitale had enough children's homes so we'd go where there's greater need.  We were wrong, the needs were very much there in Kitale. Then we clearly heard God say "Now is not the time for Turkana. Wait." Oh how those words are hard!  We clearly heard that we were to create a new model for a children's home in the Kitale area. This would be our main base. Our first baby. We knew we were to commit to at least 5 years of investing the majority of our time on the ground, overseeing and establishing. And out came Mattaw Children's Village.  (ha, sounds so easy.  but it has happened all through Papa God's incredible love, mighty power, grace and through many of our tears, heartaches and endurance)

In 2007 when we were waiting, waiting and waiting to buy the land and start building, we met two incredible little boys living on the street at separate times. Both standing out to us that we needed to do more than feed and meet with them. Long story short, they became part of our family and we now call them our sons. Then in 2012, the craziest reunion happened between them and their families in Turkana. You can read more about their story here: http://huffmansinkenya.blogspot.com/2012/05/turkana.html?m=1

Over the past 3 years we've continued to go and be with who we now consider our Turkana family. In the beginning it was all about just getting to know them and meeting some basic needs like food and clothing. Because that's what family does :). In January 2014, we ended up planting a church in one of the remote villages we often go to after showing the Jesus film and many coming to know Jesus. From then on, it was opened up to us to do more ministry. Last year we started taking some of our leaders from mattaw as well as older mattaw kids with a heart for missions.  This too has been a beautiful part of the big picture of what we do here because we started a two year ministry equipping school on site at Mattaw in 2012 and then out comes a great need to take equipped leaders into this region.  So as doors open, we've continued to move to minister in new areas within Turkana and have seen incredible works of the Holy Spirit. Many saved, healed and delivered. 

This year we were able to take trips to physically feed hundreds, maybe thousands, with food donated from America and shipped over on containers as well as food bought with funds sent from some of you. This recent trip, we were able to deliver food to the areas needing it the most. We traveled ALL over the entire region of Turkana.  That's no joke!  it was crazy y'all!  

We went up to Lodwar (the capital of Turkana) which took 10 hours.  We camped two nights there then on a Monday, spent 5 hours to get to a very remote village with a little church.  It was one of the most precious times I've ever spent worshipping Jesus with a group of believers.  And all they had was a church made of sticks, brush and leaves on the roof, big rocks to sit on, a simple drum and their voices to exalt King Jesus!  

We then moved on for around 3 more hours to another remote village where people were dying last year in a drought.  It started out a bit chaotic but thankfully we had some amazing people who are experienced in aid work, to help organize people into groups in order to distribute the food.  Otherwise, well, not sure what could of happen.  But Papa always knows our needs and provides the laborers!  

We then continued and went up to the furthest northern point where we could wave to Ethiopia. This took around 3 more hours from the previous place.  We were welcomed with arms wide open by the entire village including the chief.  They opened up their main storage building that was built to bring in supplies for the area so that we could use it to distribute from.

(The food bought by those of you that gave to feed the hungry in Turkana. Massive thank you for every dollar given!!)

Right now there's another drought happening and people are in great need. We saw from the tiniest of babes to the oldest widows, fed abundantly. 

(One of the mass crowds gathered in an area. Hearing why we came and receiving the Gospel. Everywhere we went, they would gather under the largest tree)

But the wind. The wind was crazy!  One day we were driving and the wind so wild that it flipped off the hood on the rover and cracked the windshield bad. Thankfully it was still driveable and nothing was stopping us from getting to our destinations. In some areas our kids couldn't walk outside because the sand and rocks were blowing so hard. It was hard to see on coming vehicles on parts of the road as well.  

(Our littles helping hand out food)

One night, when we were in the most northern part, the wind was so bad in the night that we ended up having to shift the kids and ourselves from the tents to inside the land cruiser at 3am. But we really saw how God kept us so safe and protected through the whole trip. It was one of those trips where I realized after getting back home how crazy that was!  And with our three littles! But they loved it. Everywhere we went, Elisha found boys to wrestle with, Claire would make another little friend and find a baby to help care for, and Ezra was just happy as can be to be in a massive sand box. We're so thankful sickness stayed far from our camp!  Although on the way home, some stomach issues tried to come against Claire but there's a powerful testimony that came from that.  I'll have to share sometime soon :).  Basically its about how the simple faith of a child to trust Jesus to heal them is incredibly powerful!    

One of Claire's little friends at a school we distributed food. She kept making sure her dress was pulled up :). 

On Tuesday we traveled back down but this time along a road that ran by Lake Turkana.  Talk about a massive lake.  We drove 5 hours that day to the southern part of the lake where we camped again.  The next morning we spent a few hours to get back to Lodwar where we had to get some parts on the vehicle repaired before we continued back down to southern turkana.  That took most of the day, then we headed out a few hours south to get to the place where our main family is.  We spent a few nights there sharing more teachings from the bible as they're always hungry to know more. We also had a crazy awesome prayer and worship session at night.  This too is a story of its own!  

The roads to Turkana are some of the most brutal roads to any vehicle. We're thankful that we already have strong vehicles that can go, but they still end up getting broke on the trips and needing a lot of repairs.  

This trip, we had five flats, one of the shocks break, several electrical issues and cracks in the chassis. Our greatest need to keep going there is funds to make our vehicles stronger to help prevent these issues. If you are led to help, please email us!  bud@mattawchildren.com. 

The wind may have been crazy, but it spoke volumes to my heart.  The physical wind was strong but the wind of the Holy Spirit was even more powerful.  We saw the wind of Holy Spirit blow through entire villages, bringing life and hope through the simple act of giving food.

"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”. John 3:8

We will be spending some weeks up there in April as we continue to establish relationships and share Jesus.  Will update as we go!  

Currently, I'm typing this as I look out our balcony to the Indian Ocean.  We are taking our yearly family beach vacation.  And as much as I LOVE the Turkana desert with all its sand, I really love the sand with the ocean too :).  It's been a much needed time to get rest and family time away.  

More updates to come! As always, thankful for your prayers.


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