Anna and I have been roommates here in Kenya, Africa, in this turquoise and beige hut called home. Last night, we stayed up late talking into the dark of night. But mid-night, we found ourselves sleepless – one of us with a fever and sore throat, the other with a significant matter of the heart. Anna and I managed our ailments separately, independently, but both of us sought the same Healer, our Heavenly Father.
Mid-night healing at Shangilia Orphanage.
I slept little, but woke with energy. I felt renewed, restored. Another day, another love for the children, staff and mission team members.
Today was our last full day at Shangilia Orphanage.
Our last full day.
Randy, Paul, Lacey, Matt and the other Randy felt called to go visit the 10-mile lady, a woman who walks 10 miles every Friday to visit the orphanage. She’ll be here tomorrow, but she might not make it before we have to leave, so this group felt called to make a home visit on piki-pikis (motorcycles) to her remote dwelling 10 miles from the orphanage. Their team returned for a late lunch; exuberance, amazement and the Holy Spirit was written all over their faces. Their time with the 10-mile lady was incredible. Hands down, totally worth it. Here are some words from team members who made the journey.
Going to visit Esnas, the ten mile lady who is 73, was an adventure in itself. She travels by foot, ten miles one way from her home down in the valley, to the orphanage when they offer supplies to the widows. The road is made of various size rocks with ruts from the washout, making travel by vehicle slow by foot. As we made our way down on piki-pikis (100 cc motorcycles) it was like a parade with children running out to wave and ask “how are you?” They would shout Mezunga (white people) and point at us. As we got close to her home, we found the road under construction and not able to pass. That is, until Bongo made a small bridge out of a broken piece of concrete to get the bikes across the ditch. The broken piece of concrete was not very big either, probably 12” x 30.” We walked across while the drivers rode the bikes across, then we remounted onto the bikes. As we got about a mile away, the road turned more into an off-road course at best, and the children ran behind to see where we were going. Once we arrived at Esnas’ home with the cooking supplies, she broke into praise and dance thanking Jesus. Asante, Asante, Asante Jesus. (Asante = Thank you). Her home had 4 rooms with a hall down the middle and a fifth room to put her cow in at night. She kept her baby chickens under a large basket inside one of the rooms. Between her bedroom and where she keeps her cow at night, was a tiny kitchen area. When I say tiny I mean 5’ x 7’ max. Her bed mattress rested on the floor, as the frame she had was for a larger bed and too big for her room. She then took us outside and took pictures with her cow. For income, she sells sand, which she moves with a wheel barrow. – Matt
Thursday morning was an incredible journey for us to see 73-year old Esnas, the “10-mile lady.” Shangilia Orphanage opens its arms to approximately 80 widows in the village of Lusiola, and surrounding areas, every Friday. This is a time to minister to these beautiful women, build relationships and community, and show them Christ’s love for each one of them.
Prior to our departure from Minnesota, the 10-mile lady became a bit of a legend to all of us. Pastor Randy had told us her story, that she would walk ten miles of difficult terrain both ways every Friday. She would leave at six in the morning to make it to Shangilia by noon. Only to turn around and head home, making it an all day affair, but one she will not miss as it is a blessing a gift from God.
We had originally planned to go the day before but rain and other circumstances prevented our travel. It was apparent, and later even more obvious, that God’s timing for our visit was for today.
Five members of our team, along with two of our favorite Kenyans, Martin and Bongo, jumped on the back of piki-pikis for the ride to the 10-mile lady. The road to her house is best described as challenging. Mud and dirt packed a land mind of obstacles including rocks and boulders and massive potholes.
It took about 30 minutes to arrive at her house. As we were close to her residence, we needed to get off the piki-pikis and walk the rest of the way. We started to gain a following of local children. First about five, and then 20 and then about 50 kids all following us.
We arrived at Esnas’ home, but she was not expecting us. She quickly invited us in and warmly embraced each one of us with a special embrace for “her son,” Randy.
She proceeded to Praise the Lord for about ten minutes. “Asante Jesu!” she proclaimed. “Asanta Bwana!” with her hands held as high as her tiny body could reach. Asante Jesu!” “Asante Bwana!” Bongo was translating her praises as she was saying, “Thank you Jesus!” “Thank you Lord!” over and over again. Never have I experienced a continuous outpouring of gratitude towards the Lord for answering prayers. It was overwhelming and we all had tears in our eyes. What an awesome experience to see the Holy Spirit show up in a tin home in remote and rural Kenya.
We took a tour of her small home which included a room for her cow and goat at night, a basket to cover her chickens, a couple of pots to make up a kitchen and a mattress on the ground to rest her head. We presented her with some supplies and clothes and she continued her praise to our Holy Father for the gifts. She took us outside and introduced us to her cow and goat and told us about other things she had been praying for, including a small wheel barrel to help her sell sand from her property and a bed frame so she didn’t have to sleep on the floor.
It was all beautiful and incredibly moving. Our hour with Esnas was short, but we needed to get back to Shangilia to spend our last full day with the children and staff.
We said our goodbyes and gave each gave her another engulfing hug before we left.
The journey back to Shangilia was once again challenging due to the terrain, but nothing was going to change our experience. We had just witnessed something none of us will ever forget…a personal interaction between the Holy Spirit, the 10-mile Lady and the five of us. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Lord! – Paul
Jamie and Maggie felt called to stay at the orphanage and play with children. When we returned from our journey, they were engaging happily and casually with the children. I have yet to hear of their morning, but rest assured, any day with these orphans is incredibly beautiful and completely worthwhile.
Nate, Anna and I felt called to return to Salamba’s home, the man Nate and I visited a few days ago who has a terrible wound on the bottom of his foot. We brought John (a pastor and staff here at the orphanage who translated for us on the home visit a few days ago), Lonika (Kehfa’s wife and a medical professional), Rachel (Lonika’s daughter) and Eric (a dedicated volunteer here at Shangilia) with us to assist. Since Lonika has great medical background, we sought her expertise. She agreed to visit Salamba and take a look. When we arrived, Nate gave Grace (Salamba’s mother of great faith) a new Bible in Swahili as hers was incredibly worn and torn from a lifetime of use. We prayed over her, and journeyed next door to Salamba’s house. After examination, Lonika agreed that Salamba needed medical attention. We had gathered modest funds that would cover a visit to the hospital, so we all agreed we would hire a piki piki (motorcycle) to come and take Salamba to the hospital for examination. One seriously miraculous hike back up the rocky hillside with a cane, and Salamba was on his way to the hospital on a piki piki. We later discovered that Salamba needed to transfer to another hospital, then was seen and surgery was recommended. Since we are leaving, Lonika, Shangilia Orphanage, and the Love for Kenya will be working with Salamba to determine further course of action from this point forward. We are grateful we could love and provide some assistance to Salamba. Please pray for complete healing for his foot.
After another delicious lunch made by Grace at Kehfa’s house, we headed back to the boys’ dorm for distribution of shoes we brought for the children. Before we left for Kenya, someone provided funds for shoes for the children. Since we arrived, I and other team members have felt continually called to ensure the children get new shoes as many of the childrens’ shoes are incredibly, incredibly worn and garbage worthy. A few children have asked us individually IF and WHEN they will be able to get new shoes. Shoes have been in order. So today – praise God – we fulfilled that great need. We brought enough shoes to distribute to a portion of the children. For those who we couldn’t find a fit, they were sent to a line in which their name was written down. Several orphanage staff made a trip to Kisumu (a large, nearby city) to purchase shoes for the rest of the children this afternoon. Tonight, two large boxes of new shoes sit in the new boys’ dorm. They are ready for distribution. The children needed shoes bad. Tomorrow, they will ALL have new shoes. Praise God. This is very, very good.
Shoe distribution ended and was followed by a crazy big rainstorm in which we all had to take cover in the old boys’ dorm and new boys’ dorm. After the rainstorm subsided, 8 of our team moved forward with the day’s Vacation Bible School lesson on Esther. Randy met with Pastor Francis. And I fulfilled a promise to orphanage staff member and preschool/kindergarten teacher, Helen, to work with a group of children and share techniques for speech and language development. I caught the end of VBS; everyone was having a grand time doing crafts, singing songs and learning Bible verses, and practicing courage by trying blindfolded tastes of chocolate syrup and Ranch dressing.
Today, I sensed a familiarity between orphanage staff, children and mission team members. It is too soon to go, but as Helen said tonight at the good-bye ceremony, God has called us together, here, for this amount of time, for a reason. We trust His purposes have been fulfilled. For now we leave. Perhaps, God willing, we will return someday.
Vacation Bible School was followed by dinner of the most delicious homemade African stew, which was followed by one last night of worship together with all the children, all the staff on duty, and our entire mission team.
It was a beautiful last night together, a beautiful good bye. An emotional and Spirit-filled one at that. After songs, preaching by Shangilia Orphanage’s Pastor John, and speeches by Kehfa, Pastor Randy, a few Shangilia staff members, a few children who volunteered, and a few mission team members, all the Kenyans prayed over our team. It was beautiful. So beautiful. I held hands with my sweet boys, William and Juma, during prayer. Then our team spent 10, 15, maybe 20 minutes thanking and bidding the Shangilia Orphanage children and staff farewell.
God bless you.
Thank you so much.
I love you.
God loves you.
Amy & Team
This blog post is part of a series I’m writing about my journey to Kenya, Africa, with the nonprofit organization, Love for Kenya, in the fall of 2015. Click here and you’ll be directed to the landing page where you can read ALL the posts from the series. If you haven’t already, read the post I wrote when I announced the trip. Otherwise, scroll to the bottom and you’ll find ALL the Kenya posts listed and linked for your reading enjoyment. Thanks for joining the journey, friends.