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.

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. 

A Word from Pastor Rob

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MONDAY: LEADERSHIP TRAINING WITH GRADE 7

Each of us took up the role of mentor on Monday as we personally guided the 7th graders at our schools in preparation to teach Bible stories, play games, and do crafts with the younger children in the schools during the past 2 days.  We also got to know these students on a very personal level as we talked about how they are doing in school, what their favorite subjects are, some of the difficulties they have at school and some of their future dreams.  It is beautiful to see the hope in their eyes as they talk about being doctors, teachers, and engineers.  Jessie and I filled in to teach the craft.  We showed the 7th grade craft team how to teach the young children to make a cross using pastels and then we followed it up by teaching them how to talk to the young children about what Jesus did on the cross for them and how they can receive Jesus as their savior.  During that conversation we recognized that two of the children had never trusted Christ as their Savior.  Jessie was able to share with them how they could do that.  They were eager to do so and today they placed their faith in Him.  We then had them write their name on the crosses they may with today’s date so that they can remember this day for years to come.

PASTOR'S CONFERENCE

Speak into a pastor’s life and you speak into their congregation.  Imagine how many people are impacted, how many lives will be changed as over 175 attended the annual pastor’s conference in Vipingo, Kenya.  We worshiped together, learned together, and laughed together.  Each pastor was sent home encouraged and resourced with discipleship books provided by Fox River.  We encouraged them to pull together 8-10 of the leaders in their churches and develop them with these materials much like the Apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to do as he told him to pass on the things he had learned to faithful people who would also go on to teach others.

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After the conference we were privileged to see the Bible College graduation.  There were 12 who graduated.  That may seem like a small number but it is the largest graduated class so far.  It was also great to see the first woman Bible College graduate.  We are so proud of these students.  Many are already in ministry and some are looking forward to starting new ministries.  This is such a key part to what God is doing in Kenya.

WEEKEND OUTREACH DAYS

We think football is big in America but it is huge in Kenya.  Of course we call it soccer.  We use that interest in a big way and it has become known as the Big Day in both the communities of Bomani and Vipingo.  Adults come for soccer, volleyball, choir and other entertainment.  The children come to ride camels, see the acrobats, and enjoy other activities.  We show them how we love them in a very tangible way by providing a meal for all who come.  Just before the day ends we hand out the trophies for the different competitions.   I was given the opportunity to share the gospel and ask people if they would like to receive Christ as their savior.  Several raised their hands indicating that they prayed to receive Christ.  Throughout the day, there were also outreach teams approaching people and talking to them about Jesus’s love for them and how they could have a relationship with Him.  We saw God work and great ways.  The Big Days were truly Big Days and there will be more people in heaven as a result.

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Lovin' on our Kids in Vipingo

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Today was filled with lovin' on our kids at Crossroads Academy in Vipingo. We began the day with our annual school picture. Look at those beautiful faces!

There are 367 children from preschool to grade 8 and 35 staff members. If you look closely you will see the Fox River team in the back. 

The team spent the morning having fun with the kids, giving Bible lessons, doing crafts and playing some outdoor games. Here are a few pictures of the fun.

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After lunch we had the privilege to distribute the gift bags sent to the students from their sponsors. 

  • 170 gift bags
  • A re-usable shopping bag
  • A Frisbee
  • A sweet (candy)
  • Choco Pie (like a moon pie)
  • Pens and pencils
  • Box of cookies
  • Flour
  • Cooking oil
  • 2 bars of soap

The entire family will be blessed by this gift. Thank you so much for all who donated just $10 to supply all of these blessings.

In the afternoon, we visited some of the homes of our grade 7 helpers. It was an enjoyable time of talking with them and learning more of their story.

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All too quickly it was time to say our final good byes because this was the last day we would be in Vipingo. We have all grown to love the people we have met here and served beside for the last week. We've packed a lot into a little time that we will carry in our hearts for eternity!

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A "Big Day" Story

Ginger's story from Sunday's outreach at Bomani:

As we stood amid thousands of people in the middle of the school grounds celebrating what the locals call “the big day,” our sponsor child’s father stood there with an expression that words cannot describe. 

His appreciation was clearly evident but what surprised us was what he said next.  Without prompting, he said “I am not a saved man, but you (pointing to my husband) are ambassadors of God and my son (pointing to our sponsored student) tells me about Jesus.

In that moment everything that we do, everything that Fox River is doing, and all that we will do by the grace of God in the future came to a point where I could clearly see the difference we are making! 

Here is a man who otherwise would not hear about Jesus standing before us telling us that we were ambassadors of God!  It was humbling to say the least!  And to know that our sponsored student was empowered to continually share about Jesus with his father was so encouraging!

Sometimes it’s easy to think that what we do does not make a difference - especially when you are half way around the world. However, in that moment, the sum of all it takes to bring us face-to-face with the father of a grade 7 student at a Fox River school in a far away place called Bomani became clearly evident. 

We could see how simple choices from foregoing expensive coffee to praying for the student whenever we see his picture on the refrigerator, laid the foundation for us to make the 20 hour journey to get here to show God’s love to these students and their families and that with the collective prayers and support of all those who can’t “go,” we can change the trajectory of entire family!

What we do does matter.  Not because of what we do but because of WHO He is and What He did! 

This father is not yet ready to give his heart to Christ, but He sees something different and he knows it is God.  Our prayer now is that God will use us to plant and water seeds that will one day (hopefully soon) bring him to ask Jesus into his heart.

 Sponsored student with his brother.

Sponsored student with his brother.