Still in action

We know we have been pretty quiet on the Nicaragua front here in the blog lately, so let us change that today…

Quick overview :  2018 was a hard year for Nicaragua.  Loss of life, jobs, trust, hope, stability, safety… and those are just simple words that don’t do justice to the state of their country.    You can check out our blog from earlier this year if you want to know more.

Let us share what we can…

As much as we would like to tell you everything is good again and things have returned to normal that will not be the case.   A new normal (for now) is where they are.  At any moment things could go any direction.  There is still darkness in this country that is trying to win.  Never knowing what to tomorrow will bring is a scary place to live. 

Just this week the Government starting having dialog again.  Trying to come to some resolution.  This time of dialog is so important, but it comes with great intensity throughout the country as people wait to hear what is happening behind those doors.  Will there be resolution?  Will there be apologies?  Will there be more destruction?  Will trust be formed again?  So many questions and fear of what lies ahead for their home.

Pray with us for this time of dialog.  Pray that conversations are had and people are heard.  Most importantly that God will move in the hearts of the people in this dialog.  We know and believe that God alone can completely shift and change the nations!

Now more than ever people are searching for healing and hope in this place.  Now more than ever the news about Jesus and what He has done for us needs to be shared. 

The ministries throughout Nicaragua have stood and faced the ugly.   We hear day after day about the life change happening throughout Nicaragua and are so grateful we get to have a glimpse of how God is changing lives in the midst of this chaos.

The clinic and church in La Esmeralda has done the same.  Although facing the hard times and changes that come along with that they are still being a great light in their communities.   Countless patients have continued to be seen at the clinic and many people through the church, clinic, sports ministry have come to know who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for them.   This is possible because of your partnership through Fox River.   People are finding the source of true hope and healing in the midst of the darkest points of their lives.

Today, is another day that we can say ‘Yes and Amen’ as we fiercely pray for our friends, family and their home. 

We are praying healing over Nicaragua!!! Pray with us!

As always, thanks for following along as we do our best to follow God into the world as he has called us!   We appreciate you!

 

Mid Term

After 7 weeks of soaking up new knowledge and having fun with friends - it’s time to take a one week compulsory break!

Heading out to the village in Bomani 

Heading out to the village in Bomani 

The Ministry of Education sets rules and regulations (alongside the new curriculum) that makes it mandatory for children to get time out and then get back to books.

 

Switching classes the high school way. 

Switching classes the high school way. 


We ended the term very well in our two elementary schools and High School - we really thank God for that.

Pahe enjoying some story books  

Pahe enjoying some story books  

Brains at work in the high school lab

Brains at work in the high school lab

For the High School, It’s been great and heart filling to see new students who have integrated so well. You can’t tell them apart now that they are all wearing the same uniform. We are one!

New kids on the block

New kids on the block

Who knew this guy is new  

Who knew this guy is new  

As you pray, remember our students as they come back for six more weeks of the remaining first term of school. Pray for the teachers to keep up with the great work and the energy and innovation that teaching requires. As for the students, pray for a teachable spirit and clarity of mind to grasp all that they will learn, and open hearts towards the Lords call to salvation.

Goats and Chickens - an update

Flashback to the spring of 2016 when the Fox River family was invited to "Show Love" and give in new ways by blessing our Kenya family with goats and chickens. I loved this idea and allowed for it to snowball a bit. I gathered donations from family, friends outside of Fox River and my classroom in kids' ministry to be able to broaden the blessing. Ultimately, we had enough to purchase 10 goats and 20 chickens. How fun is that?!?  To make it more personal, I purchased dog collars and made name tags for the goats.

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The two children we sponsor received Bunco Billy and Henrietta. Imagine my joy when a letter the following year let me know that Bunco Billy had a kid who was named Paul (after the one and only from the Bible!) Fast forward to this January when I was able to see Bunco Billy's newly born second kid, Silas. Seeing the literal harvest of seeds planted years ago was amazing. My mind and heart continue to swirl with the lessons learned on sowing and reaping that is talked about so much in the Bible. 

Bunco Billy with baby Silas

Bunco Billy with baby Silas

Besides seeing the goats, there was the flurry of fuzzy little chicks scurrying after their mamas.  Walking through the villages, the abundance of this blessing was crystal clear. From eggs to babies growing up to have more babies, God's ability to take what we offer and exponentially expand what we give was mind blowing. I had been guilty in the past of underestimating the impact my giving through "My Gift for Jesus" had on the lives of not only the children I support but also their families. When I had the opportunity to visit Pahe's home, they had prepared a special lunch in honor of my visit. This included chicken which they had specifically sacrificed out of thanks for what I am able to do for their family through my $25 each month. I was overwhelmed by their generosity in light of their daily struggle to provide for their family and have enough to eat for themselves. I was challenged to consider if I ever give to that extent and was so grateful for their example.  

God continues to work in my heart upon my return. I will continue to pray that He will show me ways to pray, live and give in new ways. What might He be calling you to do? Imagine the possibilities if you say "yes" to Him!!

Meet Paul!

Meet Paul!

I wish you could have heard her laughter as she tried to get a goat to pose for a picture!!

I wish you could have heard her laughter as she tried to get a goat to pose for a picture!!

The Journey Home

Final thoughts from JoAnn:

How is it that our time in Kenya is already over? I anticipated this trip for months and couldn't begin to imagine all it might hold. My time in Kenya, with people that I'd never met, exceeded every expectation I might have held. From the moment I stepped foot in the place I had only dreamed of visiting someday, I felt welcomed and at home. I was warmly greeted by the adults and clamored all over by children whose gigantic smiles and big brown eyes were dwarfed by their gigantic hearts and appreciation for their opportunity to have a school to attend. 

Meeting Pahe for the first time.

Meeting Pahe for the first time.

Oh how I loved spending time with Pahe and Fredrick as well as the throngs of other children! What a joy it was to expand the graduates' world by our time at the mall and see the wonder in their eyes as they rode elevators and escalators for the first time, walked through a toy store discussing how it would take several months of their family income to purchase various things that we find so commonplace and opening up a world of possibilities for jobs they could hold in the future. My appreciation for the multitude of blessings in my own life grew exponentially. 

Prior to leaving for my trip, I quelled any anxiousness by reminding myself that God would see and care for me just as well in Kenya as He does in Waukesha. I saw Him at work in more ways than I can count over the past 11 days. He was present in private conversations and prayer, in our travels on crowded Kenyan roads, in time spent sorting through beans with other moms who are trying to care for their children as well as any other mamma and in laughter and fun with the children. As I pondered all I had seen and experienced, looking out of the window on the return flight, the world somehow felt bigger and yet smaller at the same time. 

We really are all the same - no matter what end of the globe we call home. I would challenge all of us to take the little slice of life we are given and to make the most of the opportunity to make this world a better place, whatever that may look like for you. I already miss the faces of all those I met as well as the rest of our team. Though I left a chunk of my heart in Kenya, it was also filled to bursting in ways I never dreamed of. I pray that God will continue His amazing work at the schools your generosity supports and, God willing, I will return one day. 

Sorting beans and learning Swahili with the kitchen staff.

Sorting beans and learning Swahili with the kitchen staff.

Mamas and babies in the rescue center.

Mamas and babies in the rescue center.

Kids in the community at Bomani

Kids in the community at Bomani

Praying with a sweet high school girl.

Praying with a sweet high school girl.

The flight home

The flight home

Final Good Byes

Our little team of 6 said our goodbyes today. It was a busy week of work and celebrations.

  • Two graduations

  • Pizza parties for grads

  • Great food as we served and ate with our kids and partners

  • 900 kids to love

  • Sponsors meeting their kids & families

  • Laughter & tears

  • Rescue center babies

  • Working in the kitchen

  • Finger nail painting, teaching games, hugs and walking hand in hand

  • A team member’s birthday

  • And so many more memories!

Our work here is done. At 2:00 am Kenya time Tuesday (5:00 pm CST) we will depart for the airport to begin our journey home. Thank you for walking with us and for praying for us as we travel home. Stay tuned to Facebook for travel updates.

I will share with you my favorite picture of the week.

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These are the newest students at Crossroads Academy in Vipingo. It’s nap time after lunch and they are sound asleep! Seeing them feeling so safe that they can fall asleep is the picture of the safe haven our schools are for these kids.

Because you give, lives are changed, souls are at rest. Thank you!

Love at First Sight - Ashlyn's Story

As our trip comes to end, there will be many sad tears as we have to leave, but the joy that is planted is far greater. I cannot describe to you the over flowing joy and love that comes with being on these trips, especially when it comes to being with the kids at the schools.

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In 2015, I came on my first trip to Kenya. I was helping Jenna as an intern at Crossroads Academy in Vipingo. The first day I went to the school she walked me around to all the different classrooms and introduced me to the teachers and students. As she took me into the classroom with the youngest preschoolers, I looked around at the kids, smiling at them when I meet the eyes of a precious little 4 year old named Esther. Instantly I said in my heart, "Oh, I love her." From that day forward she has been my sweet little friend. After coming home that year I decided to sponsor her. The following year I went back and got to build on this friendship that is so precious to me.

It's been 2 and half years since I've seen her last and this week I got to meet her mom. What a blessing and true honor that was! As Esther took me to her home, along with two teachers from the school, I got to see her village and walk the path she walks every day to and from school. When we got there, I couldn't believe this was happening; I was meeting her mom, sitting in their home and spending time with them. We sat and talked awhile, but the one thing that stuck out to me was the love and appreciation this single mother raising 3 kids on her own with a limited income has for what I'm doing for her daughter.

She thanked me for taking the burden of having to care for her daughter as a single mother off her shoulders. It makes her more of a successful mother for me to sponsor her daughter. She knows her daughter is taken care of and doesn't have to worry about her. She knows how much I love her daughter and wants the best for her. She knows she is also loved because of what I do for her daughter. She told me she was sorry there was nothing she could do for me. I told her the greatest thing she could do is what she did do by allowing me to come into her home to meet her and share her time with me.

This is why sponsorship is so important. It's way more that $25 a month. It's a child life; it's a heavy burden lifted from a struggling family; it's a relationship; it's an unforgettable and explainable love; it's about more than yourself. Through this little girl and the love that God has given me for her, He continually shows me the most satisfying joy and love that I've never felt anywhere else or because of anything else. It's a wonderful thing experiencing Gods love for all people and His faithfulness.

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Rosie Shares Her Highlights

Life Spring children celebrate a birthday.

Life Spring children celebrate a birthday.

This week I was glad to be back in Kenya after almost 2 years. It was such a gift to see the Bomani and Vipingo graduates be recognized and celebrated for their hard work and dedication. I think back to when they were just starting school and I can't believe they are now going to begin their high school education. We were all happy to be able to share in their special day.

Spending time at Life Spring Children’s Centre in Vipingo was a highlight for me because the children have grown so much and there are many new additions to our sweet home whom I had yet to meet. I worked with Nurse Elizabeth and the Life Spring social worker, Paul, to improve health issues, plan treatments needed and provide health education to the caring staff at the center. The babies are in good hands and it was so sweet to see.

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Today we spent some time in Old Town and Fort Jesus area. It was a nice day of touring, finding out some history of the area and meeting new people with very nice shops. We enjoyed finding special gifts to bring back to loved ones and maybe a few for ourselves as well. It was a nice break and also good time to talk about our week.

Tusks in downtown Mombasa

Tusks in downtown Mombasa

Fort Jesus

Fort Jesus

Streets of old town Mombasa

Streets of old town Mombasa

Our favorite fresh made potato chips

Our favorite fresh made potato chips

Pizza and Graduation

Introducing Bomani!!! To think we get to do this twice?  

During the second half of the week we were able to celebrate the wonderful job done of our Bomani graduates with both a pizza outing and graduation ceremony!   

Check out these moments:

Preparing the dough with a smile

Preparing the dough with a smile

It’s ready  

It’s ready  

Oil it right and box it

Oil it right and box it

Let’s eat and be merry  

Let’s eat and be merry  

I scream you scream we all scream ice cream. 

I scream you scream we all scream ice cream. 

Ready for graduation  

Ready for graduation  

Scouts honor upon flag raising and national anthem. 

Scouts honor upon flag raising and national anthem. 

Preschool graduates 

Preschool graduates 

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Class of 2018

Class of 2018

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Fox River gift is a book bag and a Bible  

Fox River gift is a book bag and a Bible  

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Traditional Dance to add more color to a colorful day. 

Traditional Dance to add more color to a colorful day. 

Traditional cake cutting ceremony  

Traditional cake cutting ceremony  

Grandma Enjoying the fruits of success  

Grandma Enjoying the fruits of success  

Word of counsel from Denise

Word of counsel from Denise

The Team  

The Team  

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Hurray!!! And now onto the next level of learning and fun.

The True Rock Stars

A word from Barb:

We’ve been here 4 days already (having arrived on 1/6). It seems like we’ve been here forever yet I’m already dreading having to go home.

The best part of this trip is being with the children. They are so welcoming and loving as they run up to us as though we were rock stars. But, you know what, the true rock stars are the teachers and workers who teach, care for, and feed these precious angels.

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Yesterday we visited a place that is very special to Glenn and me — Sahajanand. Over 800 special needs children and adults live in this facility that was started and is supported by Mombasa Cement Company. Three years ago we met Jimmy at Sahajanand. He is severely challenged, and reminded us very much of our daughter Andrea. In 2015, Andi had just passed away, and when we first saw Jimmy, our hearts melted. His sparkling smile gives us such joy, there’s nothing like it. These children crave love, and having the opportunity of loving on them for even a few minutes is better than Dove chocolate.

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We also had the opportunity to meet with one of our sponsored children. He’s just graduated from Crossroads Academy and is preparing to attend Valerye McMillan High School. We went to a shopping mall on Tuesday, where I convinced him to experience a virtual reality roller coaster. When we got out of our chairs, he was holding his chest and said he had almost panicked. I asked if he’d do it again, and he said “no”. At least he was willing to try.

Words cannot express the gratitude that the team feels for having experienced the love, hospitality, and gratitude these students, their teachers and their parents show us when we’re here. No one can describe the extent of what we provide to these children with our sponsorship’s. Given what we see of the conditions in many areas in Kenya, our small sacrifices of sponsorship’s are worth millions.

Visiting sponsored child’s home.

Visiting sponsored child’s home.

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Pizza Anyone?

We have a graduation tradition that we always look forward to as a team each year which the graduates do enjoy as well. 

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One of our final activities with our graduates from our two elementary schools in an outing. We all get to go to a pizza place and make our own pizzas. The exciting thing about this activity is, our Fox River teams take groups of about 4-5 students plus some teachers, into the kitchen at Dominoes Pizza and we each get to make our own pizza. 

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Can you imagine how cool and exciting this is for our kids?  This activity gives our staff team an opportunity to create fun memories with the students before they go into their next adventures in High School.

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I got a chance to ask one of the girls to show me her pizza for her box was closed so I wanted to see if she had finished it already. To my surprise, she had eaten only two pieces and saved the rest to take home. I asked her why and she said, “I am taking this home to my mother because she has never had pizza in her life.” Lets hope it got home to her mom. 

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Our students have grown and it is clear that they are ready both emotionally and academically for an amazing new season of education. Most of the education programs are set up in boarding institutions so you can imagine this is a huge change for them.

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Now we get to do this again on Thursday with the graduating class from New Life Academy. Stay tuned for the fun moments of the pizza making adventures.