Monday, September 2, 2019

Love That Endures...

"What counts in a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility."
                                                                                                 Leo Tolstoy

"At the end of the day, you can either focus on what's tearing you apart or what's keeping you together."

"A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers."

Wayne and I celebrated our 23rd Anniversary several days ago. I'm blessed to have a godly husband who loves me through thick and thin! Sometimes I thought the mission field was hard on our marriage and other times I feel like it's made our marriage much stronger. Our lives have been far from boring!! We've weathered many storms together and I'm extremely thankful for a love that endures! Commitment is the key! Feelings come and go... but true love endures!

The biggest excitement around here right now is the arrival of the Brian and Rosie Miller family from Grove City, MN! What a blessing that his work permit came through and they were able to come on schedule!! It's great to have more children on the compound! They have 5 children ranging in age from 10 - 2. Their names are Carlin, Austin, Eva, Tina, and Trevor. We keep waiting and wondering about the rest of the families needed here... but we trust God will provide in His time. We are sad to think that Melodie Beiler will probably need to leave in a few weeks because of her work permit being denied. We don't understand these things but we know God is in perfect control.

There was a good bit of time spent at the house where Brians moved into (beside the school). There was some painting to do and "fix-it" jobs. And then a thorough cleaning from top to bottom! But we enjoy those times of working together! I'm so happy for Brians that the road beside their house has been paved (actually bricks were laid). It makes a HUGE difference in the amount of dust that wafts through the windows. 

Wayne and I and Clarissa took 2 new sewing machines out to the Lela area recently. Mary Ajode and Joyce Andawa finally got their machines paid off after months of careful savings. They were so happy to receive their machines that day!  It's rewarding for Clarissa as well to see the ladies in the sewing classes she is responsible for, begin sewing for themselves and others. Mary and Joyce both wanted to serve us chai! At one house we were also served yams, and potatoes at the other!

It's clothing sale season again! Our first sale was several weeks ago at Ahero. Things went fairly well but sad to say as a result of a used suitcase that was sold that day there is a conflict between 2 brothers who both wanted it! Sigh... it has turned into something fairly big and now Wayne has to step in and try to help. We need so much wisdom for situations like this! Our next sale was held at Rabuor. Attendance was fair and there was a Bible study held afterwards under the trees outside. Wayne had the topic on the importance of "Little things". Our girls and Wayne sang a song for them about, "The little things in life make a big, big difference." The people loved it!

We attended church at Ombeyi 3 weeks ago. We're happy to see the church doing well but sad to hear that folks are saying former Bishop Eric has now been drinking openly. Please keep him in your prayers. We were invited to Allen and Rhoda's house for supper that eve. We really appreciate the way they open their home for the young folks on the compound! They planned a progressive supper for the youth lately which was much enjoyed, and they often invite them over to play games, etc. 

The whole compound spent a day together at Rondo Retreat two weeks ago. Since there were so few children around we decided to all go spend the day, and we LOVED it!! What a lovely, refreshing place! The men sat outside for their Pastor's meeting while we ladies sat on the porch of one of the houses. We ladies had a few business things to discuss but most of our time was spent hearing stories. Christina shared an inspirational story about something that happened to relatives of hers...telling us that our time on the mission field is not in vain. Sometimes hearts and lives are touched in ways that we may never know about until years later. We also shared some life stories that day... Rhoda Wengerd, Melodie Beiler, and I shared. We learn so much about our "sisters" from these stories. Even though we all live and work so closely together here in Kisumu there are many things about our past that no one here knows. The youth girls stayed at Rondo for a few days longer to spend some quality time with Melodie before she has to leave.

Our old car (Fortuner) has quite a few "issues" that were getting to be quite frustrating. It was decided that it needs to be replaced. So Wayne needed to go to Nairobi to go car shopping and also to pick up our children's passports that have been waiting for us at the Embassy for a while already. Since it was close to our Anniversary time Wayne asked permission for me to go along so we could spend some time together "just us". :)  He checked ticket prices and even though it was last minute he found a very good Jambo jet price, $37 USD per ticket! It felt like such a gift from God!! I was delighted to go along of course! That short little flight is so much fun! Approx. 35 minutes in the air compared to 6-7 hrs in crazy traffic. When we were sitting at the gate here in Kisumu waiting for our flight, I was amazed to think that only an hour and a half earlier we were still in bed! It only takes about 15 minutes to get to the airport. We left on a Wed. morning, got to Nairobi around 9am and then headed to the Masai market to do a bit of shopping. Our taxi driver was very nice and willing to wait on us wherever we went. From there we headed to our apartment that was located about 2 km. from Hampton House. Wayne found a very nice, CLEAN place on Airbnb that met our needs perfectly and the price was very reasonable. Around noon we headed to the Embassy to pick up the passports. Security is extremely high there so it takes a while to get in, but we made out fine. We had most of the afternoon and evening to relax. We walked to an Indian restaurant where we enjoyed our favorite meal... paneer for supper! 

The next morning we met John Zook and son Cameron, and Marlin Yoder who joined us in Nairobi to go car shopping. We were looking for another Fortuner that is 4 wheel drive with lower mileage, etc. We really need a vehicle with a good back seat for a family of 6.  We discovered these cars are hard to find! Our search was long and it looked like we might have to give up. But Wayne kept saying, "God knows". We stopped at many car dealers and many phone calls were made. One time we saw exactly what we wanted but the price was too high. We discovered there was a bright blue Fortuner available that might be what we need, but... Bright Blue. Hmmm... People would be able to spot Bishop coming long before he gets there. :)  A phone call was made anyway and they told us they don't have a blue Fortuner but they have a brown one. GREAT!!  So off we go to check it out. And God knew EXACTLY what we needed! This bright blue car wasn't selling because of the color, so just a week or two before the dealer painted it brown. The car was all that we wanted it to be, plus it had a winch, which we really appreciate but didn't ask for. John Zook took care of the payment etc. Then the Nakuru folks headed home. Wayne and I were able to drive the new vehicle home the next day! Opake Yesu!! God is good!  Many thanks to the faithful supporters of AMA and the Board who blessed us with this new vehicle!! We are so grateful!!

A week ago we attended church at Kasongo. Wayne announced to the church that we would like to pursue commissioning a new Pastor there to assist Tobias Osur. The church seems to be doing well. We're so impressed with the row of young girls that sit up front and sing their hearts out! The volume is amazing! That evening we invited James, Christina, and Kaylita to join us outside around the fire ring. 

Yesterday we attended Chulaimbo since it was Brian and Rosie's first time there. The church was VERY happy to have them there! They've been waiting for almost 3 months for this day! Pastor Willice needed surgery on his eye this past week but he's doing well now and we're grateful things went well for him. We enjoyed hosting Brians and Melodie here for lunch after church. In the evening Allen and Rhoda hosted the compound folks at their house. We had delicious enchiladas, layered finger jello, homemade ice cream, a giraffe cake decorated by Becky, and fruit! Twas wonderful! After eating the Pastors shared words of wisdom, encouragement, and blessing on Brians. We appreciate their willing hands and hearts so much!! God bless y'all real good! Wayne and Clara
Mary Ajode and Lucy

Clarissa and Joyce Andawa with her new sewing machine

Raking leaves???

Ahero clothing sale

School cleaning

 Visiting Eric Oriema and his wife to pursue marriage legalization

Church at Ombeyi

Our wonderful compound family

Kaylita, Melodie, Julie, Shonda, Rhoda, Clarissa

Checking out the Fortuner

Here it is!

Kasongo church

Rabuor Bible study

Clarissa and Shonda visited their friend Rose (Tobias Ajuma's daughter) one day while Wayne was at a Pastor's meeting

Elizabeth Ajuma

Chulaimbo church

Ice cream in the making!!

Welcome Brian, Rosie, and family!

Brian officially received as Pastor at Chulaimbo

Greeting line after church

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Together We Can...

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." Helen Keller

"True teams are made when you put aside individual wants for collective good."

"We do not have to think alike to think together."

"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." Prov. 27:17

I love how God has designed the Church to work together. We were not created to live on an island alone. We NEED others! How much can we accomplish alone?  Wayne shared in a message last Sunday at Dienya about the Living Church. For a church to be truly alive each member must also have a living relationship with Jesus, the giver of life. It must make God smile when he sees a "living church" (or a compound) :) working in harmony. We feel blessed to be part of a wonderful group of missionaries who share the same vision and goals that we have.

It's raining lightly this evening and we are grateful!! It's been getting dry again so it will be a blessing to have the dust settled and things greening up. We've been seeing some very nice maize in our travels to and fro... I'm so happy for the nationals who will have a good harvest. And we've been very impressed with how the CBF churches have been working together. Ahero is once again, not having a good harvest, so some of the other churches are voluntarily sharing bags of maize with them. We love to see that!!

Wayne has been quite busy with land title issues, Pastor's meetings at the different churches, and some maintenance work in the compound. A few weeks ago Wayne and I, and Lorne, Grace, and Tanya Keupfer visited Fred and Caroline who live up towards Nyagondo. Some of you remember them from when they lived in Nakuru years ago. Some years ago there were plans to start a CBF church at Sakwa with Fred as a leader.  Those plans were not brought to fruition because of some problems that surfaced. Caroline would still very much like to be with the CBF church and she LOVES when visitors come and brighten her day. We really enjoyed the day. Lornes and Freds talked a lot about bygone days in Nakuru. Caroline served us a very good Kenyan meal! We were also glad for the opportunity to spend time with Lornes. They were a real blessing to the work here in Kisumu! They spent their last week in Nakuru before departing for their Kansas home.

The day after our visit with Freds, Wayne had a meeting with Bishop Steve Esh and the brothers at Dienya. They discussed the changes that will be coming up. Steve has now been given Bishop responsibility there. We're hoping that by the end of the year there may be a national Pastor commissioned there. Pray for Vitalis and Benter. I believe I mentioned in a previous post that Benter has moved back to her homeland close to Oroba because of the danger of staying in the Dienya area where her husband Vitalis is, or was, living. Vitalis was released from prison a while back,  but it was discovered that he has been "thieving" again. Neighbors and police are TIRED of it and Vitalis is now a wanted man! He is supposedly in hiding somewhere but anyone who sees him is to report to the police. Our hearts are heavy about the situation. How we long for repentance for Vitalis! Please help us pray for him and for his dear wife Benter during this extremely difficult time.

Two weeks ago we attended the Ahero church and were happy to have Kore Beachy and Marcus Troyer join us there. They arrived in Kisumu on Sat. and stayed until Monday noon. From here they travelled by bus to Uganda where they planned to work with the South Sudanese refugees there in northern Uganda. It was so interesting to visit with Marcus and discover more "connections". He's a very good friend of my cousin from Holmes Co., Ray Stoltzfus and wife Julia. We also discovered that his step grandmother is Clara Troyer (wife of Atlee, who died a number of years ago). My parents were very good friends with Clara in their youth and later after she was married they had connections again at FMH. I was named after Clara Troyer. I think Marcus was surprised to discover that! :) At Ahero that Sunday, instead of Wayne preaching, he asked Kore and Marcus if they would be willing to share about the work of CAM that they've been involved with in their world travels. I could tell that people were really listening. So many of the nationals here feel like they're the victims, the poor folks who need hand-outs. But that day they heard many things about suffering around the world... storm victims in Mozambique, refugees who have been chased from their homes and family members killed in Nigeria and South Sudan, etc. It seemed to really open their eyes and there were a number of testimonies afterward of gratefulness to God for what they have here. I wish SO much that all of our churches could have heard what was shared that day!! It really helps us count our blessings and makes us aware of others in need. After church we hosted Kore, Marcus, Jeremy Fisher, and Lorne Kuepfers here for lunch. That evening we invited the rest of the compound to join us around our fire ring for a marshmallow roast. The fellowship was great! 

The next day was Pastor's meeting. After serving Pastor's drinks, the girls and I headed to clean James and Christina's house in preparation for their return from furlough. It didn't take long, since there was plenty of help. And oh, how wonderful it is to have James' back, as well as Kaylita and Rhoda!!  Now we can also look forward to the arrival of Brian and Rosie Miller's family the end of this month! We were all thrilled when we heard the news that Brian's work permit was approved! We ladies happened to be together at the time the news came, and you should've heard the cheering and rejoicing that went on! :) Wayne was outside and heard the commotion and he said it reminded him of the sounds Moses and Joshua heard when they were on the mountain and the people were in the valley below. He wasn't sure at first if it was the sound of war or rejoicing... but it didn't take him long to figure it out. :) 

Clarissa and Shonda spent a week in Nakuru, along with Melodie Beiler, and Julie Esh. We found out that the Nakuru unit had a lot of painting that needed to be done in Marlin Yoder's vacated house, and since the four girls from here didn't have anything pressing to do here at the time, they volunteered to help. They reported a good time and it sounds like they got a fair amount done although they didn't finish the project. It's taking quite a lot of layers of paint to cover it well. They enjoyed getting to know some of the new girls in Nakuru. They attended the Free Area church on Sunday. They were also privileged to meet the newest member of the Luke Kurtz family who was born last week. Her name is Zahra Grace. We really missed the girls while they were gone and were very happy to welcome them home!

Plans are being made for another youth conference in December in Nakuru (CBYC).  Wayne had a board meeting in Kericho on Thursday to make plans for CBYC 2019.  The current Board is Marlin Yoder, David Odiwuor, Winfred Miller, Matthews Mbuya, and Wayne.  Pray for our youth.  The future of CBF in Kenya rests largely on their shoulders.

Last Sunday we attended the Dienya church. It was the day that Wayne handed over the Bishop responsibility to Steve Esh. It was a happy day for the members. I think they feel very blessed to have Steves back again!!  And what a blessing it is for Wayne and I! In the next number of weeks Wayne plans to hand over Bishop responsibility for the church at Ugunja and also Chulaimbo to Steve as well. Continue praying for the work here! We trust that in God's time He will provide replacements for Josephs, James', and then our family. We thought the Dave Stoltzfus family from MT would be coming this fall, but it doesn't look like that will work out after all. Maybe later? After church on Sunday the whole compound was invited to Steve Eshs' for a fellowship dinner! I wonder if that was a first for the compound? There were only 12 of us here so it was quite interesting, and the food was great!  There were meatballs, potatoes, salad, sour dough bread, and pies for dessert! I don't believe any of us had to wait really long for lunch, except maybe Allens, who don't have nearly as far to drive to their church at Lela. 

On Monday there was pastors meeting as usual with a Kisumu Area Joint Pastors Meeting in the afternoon with all the national pastors as well.  Willice Agalo from Chulaimbo was the only pastor absent.  We have added a KAJP in August and also divided into three districts and made plans for those pastors to meet more often, matbe every two months or so.  The creation of these smaller groups is in an effort to help create closer relationships within the churches that are geographically closer, as well as give the pastors an added circle of accountability and counsel to draw from.  As missionary pastors our weekly "pastors table" meeting is invaluable and we hope that more frequent meetings in small groups will provide the same blessing to our national brothers.  (WY)

Wayne worked on a sidewalk project at our house this week. We had trouble with water drainage whenever it rained, so the driveway and former sidewalk were dug down and then Wayne laid flagstone. He did a nice job and we're all hoping the drainage problem will be fixed! 

Wayne and I, and Allen and Rhoda attended the youth seminar at Rabuor on Thursday. Lela and Ahero youth were also invited. Most of the youth that attended were young teenagers who are not members but have been attending sometimes. Pastor John Omondi had a good message. I especially enjoyed hearing the Ahero youth sing. They are exceptional! Another interesting thing they did this year was have a debate. They set up a table and chair in the front of the church that was supposed to be like Parliament. They sang the national anthem of Kenya, then proceeded to have a debate between christians and "non christians". I couldn't catch everything they said... some of them were shy and talked so quietly, but it was interesting anyway. :) After that, Rosemary Ondeyo shared a health talk with the young girls. She was straightforward, and to the point, teaching them how to care for themselves physically and spiritually.  William shared the "health talk" with the young men.

Last evening Allen and Rhoda Peachy invited the compound to their house for a chicken fajita supper. It was what we call a "language class supper". I guess you'd say it's a celebration because of completion of language study. The food and fellowship was much enjoyed!! The waffle cones and homemade ice cream just topped it off! Jeremy Fisher and Cameron Zook were around for CAM work and were in attendance as well.

This morning we attended Lela. We were happy to see that Zilpa and Esther, two excommunicated members, were there. Pray for their total repentance. They really seem to want to do what's right but the way is hard.  Wayne message title was "Follow me".  God's call to follow Him is clear. We followed the call of Jesus in the life of Peter. Peter stumbled sometimes but he faithfully followed His Lord to death.  Judas was also called to follow but failed because he did not forsake all.  Are we being "sidetracked" along the way?   Allen and Rhoda joined us here for lunch after church. Thanks to all for your support and prayers!  Wayne and Clara

Fred and Caroline Ochola

Lorne Kuepfers with Freds

Caroline with Fred's mother

Clara and Caroline

Ugunja Bible study

Ahero folks visiting Rhoda Arao

Wayne, Brad, Vanessa, and Allen attended the Ag Show one Sat.

Built in New Holland, PA!!
A loom

Ahero Choir

Marcus Troyer

Kore Beachy

Kore and Marcus ready to head to Uganda

Goodbye Lorne, Grace, and Tanya

CBYC Board meeting in Kericho

The sanding and painting crew

Walking to Willice's house for Needs Committee meeting

Laying flagstone

Steve Esh at Dienya

Greeting Steve and Martha after the handover of Bishop responsibility

Kisumu area Joint Pastor's meeting

Lela church

Pastor Allen

Mama Esther in the middle. Pray for her deliverance from the monster of strong drink