September 12, 2014

BLESS THE LORD, O MY SOUL

"Each little part of our life,
Or burdens hard to bear,
God knows about them all,
And surely he does care.

The little sparrow does not fall,
Unnoticed by his loving gaze,
How much more he cares for us,
And knowingly plans our days.

He knows the winding path,
He calls on us to trod,
But never ever will we be,
Forsaken by our God.

His ways are far beyond ours,
He knows what is for our good,
So even if we don’t understand,
Let’s trust him as we should.

Because he cares for us,
We need never fear,
His love surrounds our lives,
And he is always near.

He’s near to bless and guide,
He’s near to hold our hand,
And when his purpose is fulfilled,
He’ll bring us home to Gloryland."

-Miriam Chupp


There is a story told in a book called, “Coals of Fire” about an old Mennonite Minister named Peter. He lived during a time when the Anabaptists were heavily persecuted. Many people in his Swiss town did not understand why he and his people believed it was wrong to go to war. One night, a few young men thought they would pay a visit to Peter’s house. They decided to vandalize the old man’s house, and see just how loving he truly was after that. They climbed up on his roof and started destroying his thatch. After sometime, Peter awoke because of the strange noise coming from his roof. He carefully made his way through his house and out his front door. When he discovered what was going on he called to his wife, “ Mother, workmen have come to us; you had better prepare a meal.” His wife was startled but she understood, and before long a meal was waiting on the table. Opening his front door once more, Peter called to the boys on the roof, “You have worked long and hard, surely you are hungry. Now come in to us and eat.” The men awkwardly came into the room, and a heartfelt prayer was given by the old man. The men where so ashamed that they could not eat, and hurriedly left the room. After they left, sounds could be heard on the roof once again. But this time they were putting the thatch back on!

This story is a beautiful example to me of how God can use trials to become a blessing in disguise when we allow God to break our self-will. The question I can’t help but ask myself is, “Am I truly allowing God to break and purge me? Or am I acting like a small child, throwing a fit and fighting through this entire process.”

A few night’s ago we got robbed for the very first time. A very large water tank, that we used to collect rain water for wash and what not, was stolen from our yard. This tank cost us about $100.00 American dollars, which translates over to about 18,000 Kenyan shillings. This is no laughing matter, if those men would have been caught in our village, they would have been torched. What a horrible thought! If they knew that was a possible outcome, I can’t help but wonder, what else would they try to steal? We would have never dreamed that someone would actually try and steal a tank full of water, or that people would be planning to come into our yard two nights in a row to empty the water out of the tank so they could just carry it off. The tank was located right next to my children’s window, praise the Lord for the loud bark of the Carrier’s dog that alerted us to the situation. I truly wish I could relay an amazing story like the one I shared of Peter. But alas, there was no remarkable outcome in our story, except the sad realization of how naive we can be.

Our family forgives the thiefs for the crime that they committed, and we continue to pray for their repentance and salvation. Pray with us. 

Since this incident, we have taken down the little dog run that Charlton made for Lilly (a puppy we got that died of parvo). That is where the robbers hung out to prevent coming in contact with the Carrier’s dog. We have also repaired, and reinforced the back fence where the robbers entered. The windows made here have bars on them, so I do take some comfort in that. And a siren was installed in the house before we moved in. The siren is a tool used for the good of the offender, because it allows them a minute or two head start to escape before the locals get a hold of them. As mentioned before, if caught, one could be killed for stealing.

We are trying to put our trust in God, and not dwell on problems that we face. We want to take courage, and be comforted in the love of Christ Jesus. The flesh at times may want to linger and focus on the bad, and we need be stripped of all that.

Brokeness is a process of cracking away our hard outer shell. God has definitely been stretching and purging me. 

“May my life eventually become a demonstration that it is possible to allow God to break my outer shell in order that brokenness can really become a blessing.” -Anna Byler

John 12:24,

Natasha

Where the tank use to be!

September 05, 2014

THE MAMA DIARIES 2

As I sit here at my computer, my mind is traveling in a hundred different directions. Where do I even begin...

Last night, I had the pleasure of being able to FaceTime with one of my best friends named Sarah. We talked for a few hours about baby plans, life, God, and of course Mama Abigail.  When I finished sharing my convictions, concerns, and (honestly) pure frustration regarding the past three weeks... Sarah started giggling and said, "This story is ten times more dramatic then any Spanish Soap Opera!" 

And, I would have to agree. 

But how do take the one on one conversation between two friends, and truly relay it in words? I will try my best.

The past few weeks have been a very trying time on my family. It is certainly more difficult then you may think, to bring someone into your home/family when you speak two different languages. Especially when important direction is to be given, and received. Sure, we had a wonderful young lady named Linda to help translate during the day, but that can only go so far. So the first major obstacle we were faced with was lack of clear communication. Three weeks ago, when she came to stay with us we knew it would not be easy, but from the communication we received it seemed like she was really going to put effort into learning to care for her children. We also set up some clear standards and boundaries. But it is with a heavy heart that I have to say, on the home front at least, no progress was made. After three weeks, she still had to be told every time one of the children's diapers had to be changed. No effort unless being told to do something, and then sometimes she would stare off and not even listen. The children were left alone on top of the bed/couch on numerous occasions, even though we continually told her that the children could fall of the bed or couch and severally hurt their heads on our hard cement floor. (Little Aliyah still has a soft spot on his head, and he is just learning to crawl.) She proved to be very neglectful, except when it came to her personal hygiene. She put her need to bathe above all else, and became quite OCD about it. 

During the first week and half, I finally just had to step back from this situation. Mama Abigail made it very clear that she did not like me, and was not going to change or listen. She stopped responding to anything I said, and would just sit there and glare at me. I felt a strong demonic presence in our home, and it honestly made me very uncomfortable with her staying with us. (I may or may not have hide all of the kitchen knives in our home at night.) Linda said that Mama Abigail knew she could not get away with stuff with me, and that I made sure she worked. That is why she did not like me. Linda actually was able to get Mama to open up to her about a lot of things. For one, we found out that she is not 18, but 22 years old. She also told Linda that her dad told her to act a certain way around us as to attain our pity so we would do more for their family. Mama Abigail admitted that her dad is the one who ate all the babies food that the clinic provided for them in the very beginning, so there is no way the children can go back into that atmosphere. Linda was also the one who caught Mama Abigail getting flirtatiously friendly with several men in our village, when she was suppose to be exercising her babies, and trying to get them to walk. Linda had a good talk with her, and it seemed like Mama responded well to what she had to say. But, there is more...

One afternoon, Mama decided that she was going to stop listening to Wanda. After some time of trying to coax Mama Abigail out of bed, we finally had to bring in a translator. We found out that she did not want to stay with us anymore, and she wanted to go back and live with her husband again. During that conversation she said that our family has done nothing for her, and she misses getting drunk with her man. We had already discussed trying to find the children's father, to see his thoughts and feelings on the children's health. We were told by her family that when Mama Abigail got "cerebral malaria" he sent her away. So with Mama Abigail in tow, Charlton and a brother-in-Christ named Silas left the next day to visit the village where they had once lived together. 

That day, as well as a returning visit about a week later really opened up our eyes to many things. The man who Mama Abigail called her husband wants absolutely nothing to do with her. Mama Abigail is actually this man's second wife, and the first wife was not very happy with her showing up in their village again. Apparently, in 2010 her husband left on a three day trip and came back with a second wife (Mama Abigail). Now, the wives did not live together, the husband leased out a separate home for Mama Abigail, and Abigail her daughter. According to the husband and first wife, Abigail is not his daughter, but that is not what Mama says. He only claims Aliyah as his child. After Mama got sick in the head, she had a ferocious appetite and would not feed her children. Her husband could not work and take care of two families so he sent her back to her family with money. 

So what exactly happened that made her sick? We were all told it was cerebral malaria in the beginning. That is until Wanda started to deeply spiritually reach out to her. Mama Abigail revealed things to Wanda about her past sins, and hurts. One thing she shared when in conversation about the first wife, is that she personally visited the witch doctor not once, or twice, but three times trying to kill the first wife! And her husband was there as well. Mama Abigail went so far as give her blood to the witch doctor, it was serious. Well, needless to say the first wife did not die... but Mama Abigail got messed up in the head after that. She is battling some very real demons. It breaks our hearts for her, and the children. 


Our three weeks is over now with the Mama and her sweet children. We ended our time together with some serious prayer. Some men from our fellowship all fasted and laid hands on her, hoping to cast out a demon. Then they proceeded to pray for the two children. After a lot of prayer and deliberation, it has become clear that she can't care for her children. The last trip that was made to meet up with her husband turned out to be almost disastrous for the little ones. Mama was left in the car with the children, while Charlton, Wanda, and Silas ran into the first wives house to talk for 15-20 minutes. They left the window open, and went inside the house. When they came out, both children where crying their eyes out drench in sweat, while Mama was just sitting there zoned out. Wanda and Charlton immediately stripped the babies clothes off, and brought them outside. They were shocked that she did not open the door and get out with the children, or at least take some of their layers off. We felt a responsibility for the children, to make some sort of report regarding the continual neglect this Mama has shown to her babies. A meeting was set up with the Chef of our village, and she was absolutely shocked to see the photo's of the children when they were first found so severally malnourished. (See picture below) She basically said, one word from us and the Mama will loose custody of her babies. 



Well, before we take that step Wanda found a new home for them hoping that with a little more time and the Lord's miraculous intervention they will be able to fully function as a family unit one day. There is an amazing women in our community who opened up her home to her two nephews who were severally malnourished, and she nursed them back to health. She lives alone with her mother, and she is a very strong, loving African Mama who I heard is a no nonsense kind of gal. Not only has she been very helpful with Mama Abigail, but she is willing to let them stay with her for several months. Lord willing, she will be able to make a lot more progress being in a culturally familiar setting with no language barrier. 

Please keep Mama Abigail, Abigail (left), and Aliyah (right) in your prayers. This will be a long road of healing, but nothing is impossible with our God. 















 With Love,

Natasha

August 19, 2014

THE BEAT OF THE DRUM



Falling asleep to the beat of the drum. 

Waking up to the rhythmic chanting of men, women, and children parading through the streetsafter partying all night. 



If I had to choose one month a year to leave Kenya, it would be now.

August is the official circumcision season in Kenya, specifically in the area I live in which is in Western Kenya. (Bukusuland) Young boys between the ages of 12-14 years old prepare themselves for one of the most respected and popular occasions around this time of year. Not only is circumcision a debatable matter to begin with, but this “right of passage to become a man,” takes it to a whole new level when I read that the knife used for one boy can be used for ten others! Chances are high that some viruses including HIV could be easily transmitted from one child to another. The Bukusu style of circumcision has been very controversial, and many Christians and other religions see it as being pure evil. The night before a boy is to be initiated is packed with excessive drinking, and smoking pot. Women socialize freely with men, and even married women commit adultery on this day because the culture allows it. Reportedly, in any given season, at least 20 school aged girls will get pregnant in a village.

According to Bukusu oral tradition, this all began because of the bravest man who ever lived named Mwiabwa Mango. Centuries ago he single-handedly killed a serpent that had been terrorizing the Bukusu village. When asked what could be done for his commemoration, he demanded his foreskin be removed. And ever since, Mango decreed that in order for a young man to become an adult he must undergo circumcision.

I will end with sharing an unusual news article that I read from the Kenyan Daily Post. Basically 12 men underwent forceful circumcision this month, after their wives were gossiping in the community about their husbands personal matters. The men, mostly drivers, were circumcised in the middle of the road with no option of anesthesia. These men were all given Sh. 3,000 for treatment and meals to heal faster. (I assume from the local authorities, the article did not say.) Meanwhile, over 50 uncircumcised men living in that area are all camping out at the police station.

I must admit that this tradition disturbs me greatly, and I ask that prayers be lifted up for this country. It also makes me realize, that if any culture does something enough, after time, it can easily become the norm.

With Love,

Natasha