Partners and Friends,
Happy New Year! We pray that you are well. As we begin 2021, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the state of affairs in our world. With the pandemic continuing to rage around the globe, political, racial and social divisions in the US and abroad, and the loneliness, isolation and fear many are facing, it is a difficult period in time for many. It can easily leave us feeling hopeless. However, we know that we have hope and that hope is in Christ. Therefore, our prayer for 2021, for ourselves and for each of you, is that we will be acutely aware of Christ in the midst of our every moment. We pray that we would be sensitive to following him, and that our only motivation will be to see his Kingdom come in our communities and nations. His Kingdom that is known for love of neighbor and enemy. A Kingdom that maintains a deep concern for the marginalized and the poor and the suffering. A Kingdom that is self-sacrificial, generous, and full of mercy and grace. A Kingdom that is upside-down and counter cultural. We pray, Come Lord Jesus, Come. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We have continued to ease our way back into the new “normal” of the Covid-19 era. Sophie and Ethan both returned to in-person school last week (Sophie started back in November). They are incredibly happy to be back at school and to be with friends again. Of course, things aren’t completely back to normal. There are no after school activities, and they only interact with the students in their homeroom class. The Covid numbers in Kenya have continued to drop since November, but with all Kenyan Public schools returning for the first time since March, we are praying that we don’t see a surge in cases.
We had a great Christmas here. It is always difficult to not be with family over the holidays, and this year was even more isolating because Ethan picked up a bacterial infection on Christmas Eve. Since he had a fever, and we didn’t know exactly what he had, we isolated from our friends that we normally celebrate Christmas with until we had the results of Ethan’s bloodwork. Of course, it was a food/water related bacterial infection (which are not uncommon here) that was not contagious, but we had already missed our Christmas Eve/Christmas Day traditions when we got the results. All that being said, Ethan was not his normal energetic and joyful self on Christmas Day, and we spent the day at home just the four of us, but it still turned out to be a beautiful and joyful day in many ways. We have so many blessings, and we made sure to focus on those as we celebrated together. We did take a night the week after Christmas to visit a local hotel so the kids could swim and enjoy the pool before starting back to school. It was just enough to feel like a short holiday for the kids before starting back to school the following week.
Ministry and Project Updates
Hosanna Dairy Project
The Dairy Income-generating Project at Hosanna Children’s Home has continued to grow! As of December, they are selling an average of 44 liters of milk every day (@ $0.40 per liter). In addition, the cows are producing all of the milk that is being consumed by the children and staff of Hosanna (20 liters per day). This project continues to generate income, as well save income by providing milk for consumption! The first heifer we purchased (Sheriff) has now given birth to 3 more calves. Her first born (Sheriff Jr.) recently gave birth to a calf. The second heifer we purchased (Farasi) has also given birth to a calf. Another partner organization contributed funds for an additional heifer, and she has also given birth to another calf! In all the project now has 7 females and one male (Molo…who will be sold when he is bigger). We were also able to assist with the hiring of a piece of land so that Napier grass can be grown, which greatly reduces the cost of feeding the growing herd. In addition, the biogas system that we installed many years ago is working again, so the waste from the cows is converted into methane which is used for cooking! This greatly offsets the cost of firewood, charcoal, and gas canisters. (If you are unfamiliar with biogas systems, this is a great resource that breaks down how it works: Bio Gas). We are so proud to have been a part of this project and continue to be amazed at the amazing work Isaac, Gitau and Ngombo are doing to make it successful.
Isaac and the Hosanna staff have also done an incredible job using every inch of their property to produce food, and they have inspired and motivated some of the children and teens to embrace this endeavor. It is incredible to see all that is being produced at this home. It is a beautiful picture of the vision we’ve had to see sustainability and progress among the programs we are able to partner with.
Back to School
One challenge of Kenyan schools returning to in-person schooling is the COVID-19 protocols and requirements of the Kenyan Government. Though they are necessary, they have provided unique hurdles for small, church-based schools to overcome. Fortunately, through the support of many of you, we have been able to assist with some of these needs. As a part of our Christmas project, we were able to contribute funds to Emmanuel Preparatory school to build an additional classroom structure so that they can meet distancing requirements. For St. Joyuna Academy, we were able to provide 30 new desk units so that students can meet distancing requirements. We have also been able to contribute reusable face masks for children at partner homes and schools, as they are required by the Government. We expect that these will be an on-going need as the masks will need to be replaced periodically. Many students in Kenya lost an entire year of education, as on-line learning was not feasible for the vast majority of the population. So, we are so grateful to see these children returning to school, and we are praying they all stay safe and healthy.
EABC Micro-Business Seminar
In November, I (Jamie) was able to teach a Micro-Business and Economic Empowerment Course that I designed for East Africa Bible College. This was the first time teaching this course in this context, and it went well, but I was also able to see many places were I could make changes to (hopefully) make the course more beneficial and effective for the participants. This course may be becoming a consistent part of the EABC course schedule in the future, so I am looking forward to continuing to grow and develop it.
Several of the businesses that have been started through our micro-loan program are continuing to grow and develop, though they all faced very difficult times in 2020. Currently, the loans we have provided have been used to start and sustain chicken projects, vegetable and produce shop, a shoe vendor, a sewing project, and a beauty product shop (pictured below). Our heart is to see our local partners, both individuals and institutions, to be self-sustained and to be in a position to provide for themselves. These loans are one small piece of that vision.
In case you missed our update video on Christmas Project 2020, you can see it here: Christmas Project 2020
- For unity of leaders and citizens as we seek to mitigate the risks, and find a solution to, the Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya, the US, and the World.
- That we would love God and others as He loves us, and that we will be faithful in all the areas that we are being called.
- For continued direction and wisdom in our work.
- For our marriage to grow stronger every day.
- For Sophie and Ethan…that they will feel a meaningful connection to our ministry and that they both will grow to love and follow Jesus.
- For the Nation of Kenya, and the individuals, ministries, communities and churches that we have partnerships with.
- For our extended families as they live life without having us and the kids nearby.
- For good health, safety and protection.
Can we pray for you? Please send us your requests at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We love and appreciate you all! Your support, prayers, and encouragement mean everything to us. Thank you for partnering with us.
Grace and Peace,
Jamie, Jessica, Sophie and Ethan