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Appleseed Travel Journal

Miracles Still Happen!!

Often when in Bikeke we get to visit some of the homes of the vulnerable children attending Liberty School, most of whom would not be attending school at all without the vision of the Director John Wayonye. It’s always a very humbling experience to sit in the dwellings for even a few minutes with the relatives of some of the students and hear their stories.

This particular time, we got to visit a single mom Jentrix Nangami whom we had visited last year. When we reached her place, I couldn’t believe it was the same woman. She was grinning ear to ear, so happy to receive us and especially thrilled to share what’s been going on. She excitedly started with telling us how she was able to “expand” her home to not just one room for the six of them, but now she had “added” to now have two rooms. It was clean, decorated, homey and inviting. I couldn’t possibly tell you what it was like being with this electrifying mom, so I’ll let her tell you herself. Remember English is a second language for her that she rarely uses. We were so grateful for her courage to just step out and talk to us freely without a translator. Here is part of her share:

“By the time my husband died. He left me with five childrens. I was pregnant. My last daughter now she was with me six months pregnant. So by that time, I think this was the end of my life. How will I do with these childrens? My father, he told me, ‘Come, just come home.’ It was very, very painful. I say that I cannot go home because of the death of my husband. I say I will just go back where I was staying. By that time, I was just there (pointing across the marketplace) behind there; I was not working. I am not where I am now. So when I came to the market I was totally naked. My life was very poor. I had no one who can even see me and even assist me in food. It was a very hard life. But, I appreciate God where He assisted me.

“I think where will I with my children be landing. I called the Director to ask for a chance for my childrens. He asked me so many, many questions and I was trying. When he looked at me, he told me God must do very much and you are going very far, because what God can do, no man can do. I appreciate it so much. I feel like, the one who is giving some assistance to him. He took my children, those four of them. The little one was still young. He started life with him and I saw many marvelous things. For the first week the children came back home, I saw, ‘This is my children?’ I was very surprised to look at my children and see them come where I am, ‘Mom, mom!’ I was wondering! ‘Is this my daughters, my children?’ I was wondering. They were wearing very beautiful uniform; they have shoes. Even my neighbors are looking at them. I appreciate that so much. It is true. It is Mungu (God) is the one doing marvelous things.

“So I am continuing with my life. I get a chance in the borehole (well) there. There is one who is there who give me that work there. They give me by the end of the month something small for my assistance. So, I believe in God He can do marvelous things. And I appreciate God and through you I know very well that God has a plan. He said I am going to take your husband, and there are some people who are going to stand with you. … I don’t know what I shall say…you are doing very different things, which when I think or I look at you, I say, ‘Live long!!!’”

To put her whole story in perspective and why it was such a touching time (one of our male team members couldn’t even share he was so emotional because of her very obvious sincere and animated gratitude amidst what in our eyes was extreme poverty). Sitting with her five children and one neighbor girl in a two room “apartment” with barely anything, it was indeed humbling to be with someone showing such obvious gratitude for all God had done in her, for her children, and for their lives as a family. She felt loved, cared about, part of, as well as having dignity as a woman who could exist and provide for her children. She had applied for and been given the job of managing the community borehole (well), where people in the village come, pay two shillings to fill their jerry cans. Her hours? 6am until 7pm with a couple of hours for lunch. Her pay? One thousand shillings a month…$10. Her response? Gratitude.

John, Jentrix, and her children

Ruben: “Maybe one day I can change my mom’s situation”

Ruben and his mother

No way could Ruben afford high school. He said, “I knew my dream was over.” But he desired an education SO much in order to help his mom out of poverty. Through Liberty School and you who walk with us, God answered his prayers! Here is his story taken from the video below in his own words:

From class six I haven’t seen my father up ’til now because he left. He went to where we don’t know. So I stay with mom here. My mom was the one who took me to a primary school. Then, when I finished, she took me to a secondary school nearby. I went there for one term only, but because of school fees I was forced to stay at home for the next two terms. My mom was unable to provide those school fees for me.

Some of my friends were going to school, but me I was just here. I knew if I can go to school, I can work hard, and maybe one day I can come and change my mom’s situation and move her to a better place.

But no one was willing to assist me and I knew my dream was over. We asked for help, but no one was willing.

One day, a friend of mine connected me to ‘Daddy.’ I call him daddy because he is the one who was willing to come and care for me. I call him Daddy. You call him John or director or bishop, but me I call him as my daddy.

I told him me I am wanting to go to school if I can find the chance to go to school. Daddy asked me if I can provide half of the school fees for the school. I told him, for now, I cannot provide anything. I just have nothing. What I have is only me.

So, we continued talking. He said, if you don’t have school fees, can you provide a uniform only so that you can come to school? I said, no Daddy. My mom does not have the money for school fees or for a uniform. So, he told me, if you don’t have school fees or money for a uniform, would you have the money to provide for books only? I told him, Daddy, I will tell you from the starting point, I have nothing.

So, if you have nothing for school fees or uniform or books, then maybe you can find some transport to come to class for the first day. (Note – Ruben lives over 10 miles from the school so he needed to get himself to the school for the first day where he could then board.) I told him, I don’t even have money for transport, but I can walk. I can use my feet because I want to be in school.

So, I came to school. He tells me if you are willing to go through education, I know your dream has been shut down. But now you are at Liberty School and if you are willing to work at your education, you can make it. I tell him, me I am willing. I am more than willing. Because, where I came from, especially the situation my mom is in, this is a difficult thing. So, I promised him that I would work hard in school.

Now, what I promised him, I think he is seeing what I am now doing in school. I am working hard so that I can fulfill what I promised him. Also, I am working hard so that I can fulfill my dream to become a doctor. And also to fulfill what I said that I want to help my mom. You know, this place, is a humble place. To at least shift her somewhere where she will be comfortable a little bit. So, I think that’s my story!

People Make Me Smile :)

Referring to a used ground-soaked Melita paper coffee filter Roger put on a plate, the waiter asked, “It has expired???”

Referring to Roger’s ordering a bottle of COLD water, our friend observed, “I think for you this very cold water is maybe ok for an old man like yourself, but for me I much prefer to take mine warm.”

Picking us up at Kenyatta Airport (Nairobi), we told our taxi driver to take us to where we were staying in a certain area in Nairobi, and then we would be able to direct him to the guest house from there. Finally, amidst stops and starts in heavy traffic and arriving in that section of massive Nairobi, he pulled over, stopped and said, “OK, so I think it is from here that you will control me.”

Kenyatta Airport (Nairobi)

Forgetting to take my travel fork out of my carry-on and setting off the security alarm, the very friendly security guy opened up my bag and was pawing through everything and putting it outside the bag…tins of salmon, packets of jerky, pouches of peanutbutter, rice cakes, protein powder, etc…he asked me, “Where is the fork in this big bag?” and then said, “Madame, why are you carrying a suitcase with all of this food. We have food even here in Uganda!”

suitcase full of food

We were out on a dirt side road walking somewhere and passed by a huge factory of some kind. There was an old dilapidated pickup parked outside the gate with two guys slinging what looked like ice-covered whole fishes into a huge mound in the bed of the truck. Just then an old woman happened to walk by, so I asked her what was going on. She then explained to me that the fish had been filleted for export and now the outer skin and head and tail in tact were being taken to the local marketplace. Emphatically, she told me, “Do not go buy your fish at that market because it is old; it was caught sometime ago and has been put on ice and is not good.” Repeating this admonition several times, she kept pointing to the fish saying, “Can you just hear the smell? You must never buy these things.”

a pile of fish
African women cleaning fish

Nicholas

Narrow, muddy red dirt, foliage lined roads are the norm in Bikeke Village. And, this is where we found ourselves a few days ago. Without seeing firsthand where most of the children who attend Liberty School come from, we can lose sight of the miraculous opportunities and changes that are happening in their lives today.

Here is the story of one of the homes we visited:

Meet Nicholas, father of five children. He is a pastor. When I met him it was not at his home; it was in the village. Tall, lean, warm and openly friendly with welcoming arms, an open heart and huge smile. NEVER would I have guessed the circumstances of his life without visiting him and his children at their home.

Nicholas’ wife Emily has been sickly for the past NINE years. She has been in and out of hospitals over and over again. She’s had various diagnoses, ranging from heart problems to high blood pressure to brain tumors. She faints, she is unable to communicate; she’s weak and only manages to move at a low level at best, but then is back in the hospital. Hospitals here in Kitale are not the same as in the West, especially District hospitals, which are the ones affordable for most. Expertise is limited, most diagnoses being either malaria or typhoid. Treatment is rarely effective; death is common. Nursing care is non-existent; food is, too. Therefore, family members attend the patient and also bring food.

Nicholas’ time is divided between the hospital, a long distance away, and the children at home. Money is scarce. When deeply questioned, he admitted he had sold everything to pay expenses to care for his wife. He repeated, “Everything.” Landlords had evicted him for non-payment over and over so moving is the norm. When there was no money for rent, he and the children sleep in the bushes or under an overhang. Today, a “well-wisher” has let him use this small house of two rooms. The children and the dad sleep in one slatted bed, with no mattress, no sheets, no blankets, no mosquito netting. There is no kitchen, no pantry with food, no closet with clothes. Dirt floor, mud walls, water seeping in from the rain.

Emily has been unconscious, unable to communicate for the past few months and getting worse. She was recently transported to their “home,” where her mother lives, because it is cheaper to transport her alive than after she dies. “Home” to all Kenyans is where their roots are, where their parents live. This is where they feel rooted, grounded, connected. It’s where they were born and where they will be buried.

We listened to Nicholas’ story as he told it, without whining, without complaining, without expectation. He communicated factually his life for the past nine years. Scrambling when home to find day work in someone’s field of maize or making bricks trying to get enough money for rent and food, then rushing the next day the long distance to care for the wife in the hospital. His strength, his humility, his devotion to his wife, his kids was heart-wrenching. To see him sit with arms around two kids leaning against him while he spoke, it was hard to believe this man who had NOTHING, I mean nothing, by way of material items, and all around him lack for even the most basic of needs, could even begin to cope with it all…day after day, year after year. Yet here he was trusting. Trusting in the God he knows, to provide what he needs—emotionally, physically and spiritually. A man, clothed in rags, with nothing to say “I am somebody.” Yet he stood tall with an inner strength and peace, that said, “I am somebody. I am known.” His brother standing with him, said, “We expect suffering in this world, but we know that with God there is peace and there is hope.”

Nicholas testified about John, Director of Liberty School, coming, helping, inviting the children to come to school each day to be educated, fed, and clothed. While others were abandoning him, looking the other way, rejecting him, John has stood with him. Five kids, ages three to twelve. Without the school, much of the time they would be alone, hungry, and afraid. Because of the school, they are loved, fed and educated. Very unusual for John, during Nicholas’ sharing, tears fell. Even though he has seen and heard so many incredibly difficult situations, this one was too much.

And, so we seven, we prayed…for Nicholas, for Emily, for their children…

We saw Nicholas two days ago. He reported Emily for the first time in months was conscious, communicating with him and doing somewhat better. Please pray with us for her complete healing. Nicholas is desperate for his wife to come home, be with him and be a mom to their children.

Nicholas standing with four of his children and his brother

Chief???

A couple of friends and I who refuse to be distanced by location and desiring to connect on a spiritual basis, share daily via email around Scriptures.

The other day, part of our Bible in a Year reading plan came from Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, yield to your husbands, as you do to the Lord…” Well, I’m not debating or writing a discourse to defend, declare or convince you of my understanding of this scripture. However, I did think it rather funny later during that same day, Roger and I were hanging out with our Rwandan friend Justin, a strong, manly man, but so tender and a complete marshmallow when it comes to his beautiful wife Anne. We were laughing and discussing the amazingly wonderful and sensitive discernment giftings of the wives that God had given both he and, of course, Roger, too!

Justin was saying that in a group or encounter with others Anne would be so agreeable and friendly, but then when they were alone, she would tell him with much emotion about the potential problems in this relationship or exactly what had just been going on in the encounter. Shaking his head, he was laughing as he was describing such a recent event, saying Anne told me, “You know, Mutware,…” Then he stopped and started laughing out loud and told us, “Anne calls me this, do you know this word and what it means?” No, we hadn’t heard that word before. “It means king or chief or boss and she calls me that sometimes out of respect and to say that’s how much she accepts my spiritual authority…” Still smiling and even laughing, he went on to tell us how she felt about the situation they had just passed through. Then he finalized the story with, “And you know she is most of the time always right anyway, so I may as well listen to her!!”

Justin and Anne smiling at the camera
Justin and Anne

So, I’m considering…only considering… in my recent quest for a replacement for my longtime nickname of “Honey” for Roger…“Mutware” as a viable alternative. No need to tell you how much he likes the idea!

Addendum:
After several weeks and much consideration, I have rejected such an outrageous idea. Moving on from Rwanda to Uganda and discovering that unlike Kenya and some other African nations, Ugandans indeed have such an affectionate term as “Honey” that they use for someone they love. This word is “mukwano.” However yielded I may or may not be on any given day to my beloved, I can say without reserve that every day, I will be happy to call him “Mukwano”!

Brooks and Roger smiling at each other

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