Final Lap

When you think about it - the test that our 8th grade students are about to take is one that they have studied for 11 years!

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Our students are getting ready to take the The Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (K.C.P.E). This is the last test they will take as primary school children.

This is an exam that you might have heard of if you have followed us before. In short, it is a critical test that will determine IF and WHICH high school our students will get into. The pressure as you can imagine is great.

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The teachers help to balance the students out by making sure that their environment balances the stress of the importance of the exam as well as the students needs to unwind.

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Sometimes the teachers are found playing soccer with the kids in the later afternoons. Sometimes it’s just sitting during breaks and giving the students something else to think about rather then the exam coming. Either way our teachers are amazing! Please be praying for them and our students. We would also like to give you a few other ways that you can be praying for them.

Please pray that that our students: 

- Will have confidence in the preparations they’ve made for this exam.  

- Will have wisdom afterwards for the schools that they will pick.  

- For our staff teachers to finish the academic year well.   

Thank you for caring for your sponsored student and remembering them in prayer. We are so confident that they will do well and that God will be given honor in the outcome.  

 Blessing to you New Life and Crossroads!  

Mark Schwartz’s Story

One of our favorite things is sharing stories from team members. Today we have Mark’s story… Mark has been on a couple of our teams (Kenya and Nicaragua) and has willingly offered to share his story and experience.

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“From an early age I have been involved with missions. When I was young, my parents investigated becoming a missionary family to Papua New Guinea, but at the last minute the Lord closed the door. After finishing high school, I took my first mission trip to a remote area of Southern Mexico. The team I was a part of was doing church planting with the indigenous people, many of whom did not speak Spanish but rather local native languages.

After returning from Mexico, I explored becoming a full time missionary, but the Lord led me into engineering school and then a career in healthcare, first at a large corporation and then later in starting a business. During my career I was able to participate in missions by prayer and financial support but was unable to participate directly through mission trips.

A little over two years ago, the Lord helped me to sell my company and this allowed me to go to Kenya last year with the team from Fox River. I was a bit apprehensive in going to Kenya, because it had been a long time since I had worked with children and my own children were now grown up. However, I thoroughly enjoying working with the students and teachers in Kenya and I made a number of wonderful new friends. God willing, I hope to return to Kenya next year to renew friendships and once again work with the teachers and their students.

Back in April I was able to go to Nicaragua with the team from Fox River. This was a construction trip and the work we did was physically hard, but the experience was also enjoyable and rewarding. The part I liked best was forming close relationships through working together. For example, I worked with El Jefe (in English “the boss”) and at the beginning of the week it was all about the work, but by the end of the week we were sharing details about our families and parted with a warm embrace. I hope to go back to Nicaragua in the future to see what God has done in the lives of the people I grew to love.

It is always fascinating to see how God works – had I not been in Nicaragua with my background in healthcare, we might never have known the clinic had an ultrasound system that failed. Since returning home, I have located a replacement and look forward to the day that it can be used in the clinic!

In thinking about the future, I realize I’m not as young as I used to be and may not always be able to go on future mission trips. I believe the Lord gave me this thought – would I be willing to donate the income I earn during the same period as the mission trip if was physically unable to go? I’m writing this blog because I believe the Lord may wish you to consider and pray about making a similar commitment.”

~Mark Schwartz

Thanks for sharing Mark! We love how God uses missions to show us new things.

Have your ever asked yourself how you can be involved in missions? We are always available to answer any questions you may have! Ask us on… FaceBook (Fox River Missions), Instagram (@foxrivermissions) or email us (missions@foxriverchristian.org)

Class is in Session

 Class 8 student at Crossroads Academy 

Class 8 student at Crossroads Academy 

 Class 8 students at New Life 

Class 8 students at New Life 

It’s been a long term break and we are glad for God’s goodness and answer to prayer. All the students were able to report back to school with much enthusiasm and excitement to start this last term of the school year. 

 Fun and excitement to be back at school. 

Fun and excitement to be back at school. 

 Friends united after a long break

Friends united after a long break

This being our last and shortest term of the year, there is a lot of things packed into this term that determine a lot about the progress of a student into the next class.

 The look of hope and expectation.

The look of hope and expectation.

 Learning with joy.

Learning with joy.

Pray for the class 8 students in both of our schools as they put the final touches onto the journey of their primary education. They will be sitting for the national examinations which will determine whether they can proceed to high school.  Our prayer is for each one to be called into a good high school.

 Brains at work 

Brains at work 

 Learning in progress 

Learning in progress 

Join us in praying for a productive and fruitful 9 weeks of this term and clarity of mind for the candidate classes.

Intake day ....

 The early birds eagerly waiting for interviews.

The early birds eagerly waiting for interviews.

It's one of the most anticipated day's in the Vipingo community and the school, but it is equally very hard. 

 Final deliberation for task ahead

Final deliberation for task ahead

As we get to the 3rd term of the school year we also start to look for the next kindergarten class for our school. This week Crossroads Academy opened up the doors for interviews.

 The train of hope for the future

The train of hope for the future

Our school in Vipingo aims to find families that otherwise would not be able to afford quality schooling and offering them a full scholarship through YOUR donations.

 Parents getting welcomed

Parents getting welcomed

 The look of wonder of how this works

The look of wonder of how this works

We have 3 communities, Vipingo, Rea and Bureni, which circle our campus. This time we had 87 families come to seek a spot in the 2019 kindergarten class.

 

 Ready or not here we are

Ready or not here we are

We look at many different aspect of where a family is coming from to determine who most greatly needs a spot at the school. Most importantly, we pray for wisdom and discernment. We pray that we would be the hands and feet of Jesus and His wonderful plan for the school age children and their families in our community.

 Family ready to get their girl a future.

Family ready to get their girl a future.

 Patiently waiting to serve

Patiently waiting to serve

 Shhh interview in progress

Shhh interview in progress

Through this long interviewing process we hope to pick 34 little ones for our next kindergarten class. By the end of the Month they will be coming in for uniform fittings and initial meetings as they join the Crossroads family. Pray with us as we work out all these logistics that would change a whole community and for God to be glorified through it all as always.

Love at first Sight

We want you to meet a very special friend of ours, Hanzi.

 Hanzi Minzi

Hanzi Minzi

We first meet Hanzi on a medical missions trip in 2011 held on the school grounds of Crossroads Academy, Vipingo. He was walking past the school and entered to see what all the commotion was about.

 Making faces as picture is being taken 

Making faces as picture is being taken 

It was an instant relationship with Hanzi and the teachers and medical team professionals at CA. He gives great big hugs and is always trying to make us laugh with funny faces.

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Hanzi has Down Syndorme and had not previously been brought to school but he was instantly fascinated with the classrooms and teachers at the school.

The next day he returned and they found him actually sitting inside of the classrooms by himself.  He refused to leave!

 Finally got him to smile 

Finally got him to smile 

Hanzi was placed in one of the Kindergarden classrooms for the next few years where we could make sure he was a part of the feeding program but also that he could participate and start to learn slowly by slowly!

Hanzi was greatly cared for by the teachers and grew not only in how to care for himself more properly – but also learning bits and pieces from the classroom with his friends.

 Jenna and Hanzi at his new school 

Jenna and Hanzi at his new school 

Hanzi received an awesome opportunity through a school only 30 min away that teaches vocational skills to those with special needs and we were quite sad to be away from him but knew that this was likely to be an opportunity that we as a school couldn’t provide for him and one he shouldn’t pass up. 

 Pastor John Okong’o

Pastor John Okong’o

Our Chaplin, Pastor John, checks in on him many times during the term to make sure he is doing alright and more so that Hanzi knows we are thinking about him.

 Sharing lunch during The music festivals at His school. 

Sharing lunch during The music festivals at His school. 

It is our hope that Hanzi is a part of Crossroads as long as possible. Look at this smile!

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My time with him at his new school was a great moment!

Being Faithful

Being faithful has many different forms,  Let me tell you about a few I have seen recently...

17 people were faithful and obeyed the call to go on a missions trip to Nicaragua.  And they were faithful all the way to the point we had to cancel.  There is always the question about who will God build our teams with and He never leaves us disappointed as He provides the perfect people team after team.  This team was no exception.  

After we had to cancel our trip for June because of the unrest in Nicaragua our hearts were disappointed, broken, and hurting for our friends.  We wanted so badly to go, but even more we wanted our friends to be safe.  We wanted to help but didn't know what to do.  

We started praying for God to show us what we could do, how we could help from right where we were.  He started stirring up in a few past team members that we needed to come together to pray.  So, those few were faithful to those promptings.  At the end of July we called all past teams and our church family to a night of prayer and worship,   a night to share what was happening in Nicaragua, to pray in specific ways, to worship the God who holds it all.  This night was full of the Spirit and hearts ready to cry out!  It was a good night filled with love for a place that we hold close to our hearts.  God brings so much beauty when we are faithful!

We have also watched as our partner ministry churches in Nicaragua stay firm as they were in the midst of darkness all around them.  These churches and people within them have been so faithful.  We have seen them grow, do outreach events, and continue to love the hurting.  Sharing Jesus has never been overshadowed in those places.  

Those are stories are of how we have seen people be faithful to the things God was stirring in them.  We can also see how God is faithful throughout each of those as well.  He promises to never leave or forsake us!  He remains the same even as our plans, lives and world changes!  Sometimes (more times then I would like to admit) it takes great heartache to remind me just how big our God is!  He is always faithful, even when I am not!  Yes and Amen?

As we have prayed and awaited updates from Nicaragua we have had days that came with bad news (unrest still strong) and then we have days when we hear that there has been some change for the better!  This is week we got a good report!  This doesn't mean that things are good or even normal yet, but hope comes when peace is replacing violence!  Keep praying because we have a big God who hears us and is at work!!! 

All's Well That Ends Well

This last week both our schools in Bomani and Vipingo have taken a break after finishing term 2 successfully. This is common to do here in the Kenyan Education System.

 Bomani grade 8 students at Haller Park with the Fox River Team

Bomani grade 8 students at Haller Park with the Fox River Team

 Vipingo grade 8 students at Haller Park with the Fox River Team

Vipingo grade 8 students at Haller Park with the Fox River Team

Community is such an important aspect of our Kenyan culture. Relationships always trump agendas and we try hard to make sure we make time for the good stuff -  fellowship with each other.

 The Team that makes everything happen at the schools.

The Team that makes everything happen at the schools.

This was a longer term for the schools and was also filled with the blessing of many visitors. We decided to wrap up a little bit differently with a gathering of staff from both schools. We met at Vipingo where we watched a movie titled Mully - (worth looking for), played games and finished up with eating some nice Byriani - a Kenyan coastal speciality.

 Inspirational Movie Time - Mully Movie

Inspirational Movie Time - Mully Movie

 All work and no play makes us all dull.

All work and no play makes us all dull.

 Lunch was scrumptious 

Lunch was scrumptious 

We had this time of fellowship to focus on the ever important community that is being built every year as the schools grow. Both schools are uniquely different but have one main focus - to educate young children in their faith and their academics to one day change their own destiny, direction and community.

 After Fellowship came Swallowship

After Fellowship came Swallowship

 O’Neal moderating 

O’Neal moderating 

We ended the term with a real bang and were so thankful for our time together. Please keep our students in prayer over these 3 weeks term break that they may:

- Stay safe while at home.

- Continue their walk with Jesus by attending Church and youth programs.

- Make good choices and return back to school rested and healthy.

 In Team there is no Me.

In Team there is no Me.

Please also take time to pray for the teachers and the support staff. They do a wonderful job and we are immensely grateful for them!

Success in Partnership

Jambo! (Swahili for, hello)  

Jesus stated clearly that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. This is a very loaded statement which we got to experience during this season. We have had several missionary partners from different places and a team from Fox River. 

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It was an awesome time of working together towards achieving the goal of making Christ known to those who haven’t experienced His love through different activities and programs that we were able to run.

The love of Christ was well shown while the team was here and we (speaking as a native) enjoyed seeing a team of people from the other side of the world who share the common love and desire to serve.

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It is more bitter than sweet to see Fox River team of 14 individuals who made the commitment to serve our schools leave from Kenya just two days ago. Though their flight was a bit delayed getting home, our prayers were answered and their journey eventually  ended with hearts changed on both ends of the world.  

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Speaking personally, we loved having Fox River here to partner with us for the week and a half. We saw relationships with our teachers and pastors grow and we saw students feel truly special as our stateside partners took the time to get to know them on a personal level. It was purely a blessing.  

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We pray that more would take the step of faith to experience this adventure and see the beautiful things God is working out here in Kenya. I know our students at both centers would agree to it! 

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Thank you Fox River for sending willing hearts to love even when they are out of there norm and jet lag perhaps calls their name. You served well and we were blessed.  

Kwaheri (goodbye for now in Swahili) 

O'Neal Nyanje

High School & Special Needs School

Today was our final ministry day. We began at the high school with a chapel service. Each class gave a presentation and Pastor Rob was able to give a challenge. We had tea with the teachers and then played some fun games with the kids. It was good to see them laugh and interact. 

We gave a gift of a pair of socks to each students and were able to take a quick picture of the graduates of our 2 primary schools. It was such a joy to see how these young people have grown over the years. There is so much hope for a bright future ahead of them! 

 Get to know you bingo.

Get to know you bingo.

 Making snow!

Making snow!

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 Break is a special treat for them so we bought bread to go with tea.

Break is a special treat for them so we bought bread to go with tea.

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 Who's the Dude? (charades with a blow up doll)

Who's the Dude? (charades with a blow up doll)

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After a delicious lunch, we headed to the special needs school that one of our students from Vipingo attends. We took some of the high school students to assist in loving on the 650 special needs children. This is a pretty special place to care for so many needy children! 

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Very early tomorrow morning we will drive to the game park to enjoy safari for 24 hours. During that time we will have 3 game drives looking for animals and spend the night at the safari lodge. This event is meant for us to take some time away to process our experiences during this trip and begin to turn our thoughts toward home. Please pray for this team and our missionaries that will join us as we wrap up this trip.

Lovin' on our Kids in Bomani

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We began our fun day with the students at New Life Academy in Bomani, Kenya with a school picture. What a precious group! 411 students from 3 years old to grade 8 and 32 staff members. 

We had the same activities as yesterday. It was fun to share them with our kids in Bomani. 

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While the students were eating lunch, we packed and then distributed the sponsor gift bags. 

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The wonderful kitchen staff made us another delicious meal!

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After lunch the team went into the village to visit some of the homes of the 7th grade helpers. What a joy!

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After we returned, the staff at New Life gave each of us a traditional Kenyan item of clothing to express their gratitude for our visit and support. 

We closed the day with a school parent meeting during which we gave a mosquito net to every school family. It was such a joy to shake the hand of each school parent and see first hand the difference this school is making in this community!

Reid and Pastor Rob greeted the parents who expressed their appreciation for our partnership and this gift.

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 So happy!

So happy!

 Making it fun!

Making it fun!

Thank you to all who donated for the nets. What a life changing blessing for these families! 

The final good byes are always hard. We have just 1 more ministry day left. Tomorrow we will visit our kids in high school and have some fun. In the afternoon we will take a few high school students with us on an outreach event to a large special needs school. Friday we go on safari. It's a special time of enjoying this country we have come to love, process all that we have experienced and beginning to turn our thoughts toward home. Saturday we return from safari, pack and have our closing meeting with our missionaries. Sunday morning at 2am the team heads for the airport to fly home. Please continue to pray for health and safety as we move through these final days.