Being Faithful.

Hey Mission Family, its Melody here. I am writing to you today because I want to share with you a part of my story from Nicaragua this past summer. I want to share my story with you for a couple reasons, one because I believe that when God has worked in our lives we are meant to share with others. So that through sharing we can Praise and Glorify Him together. And second, to thank you, our Fox River Missions family for your continual support of the mission in Nicaragua. Without you, we wouldn't be able to take the trips that we do. Without you, we wouldn't be able to partner with the church in La Esmeralda. You are a part of my story, and you are a part of the story in Nicaragua. So thank you for all you do in supporting Fox River Missions.

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This summer I had the opportunity to head to Nicaragua as a leader of the High School trip. As a leader I was planning on helping the students experience God and what he had in store for them, little did I know that I was going to experience that, and so much more.

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Being candid, this was not my first trip, or my second. I am what some may call a "Nicaragua veteran". I have been blessed to go on our summer trip for many years now, and it is so easy to fall into the trap that there is nothing else that God could show me. It is so easy to fall into that trap in everyday life when we are use to a routine. But what I know about our God is that he always shows up, I know this and I believe this because he has never failed to show up for me.  And he showed up in my life in an unmistakable way this past summer. 

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I have witnessed that God meets people where they are, and that week in Nicaragua God met with me exactly where I was. To be very specific, I was on a bus. We travel by bus from place to place on the trips, and almost everyday required us to get on that bus. Everyday as I would be sitting on that bus, God would bring a song to my mind. A song that had been on my heart for weeks prior to the trip, but I thought that it was just because I enjoyed the song. I didn't know that God was planning to use it to do so much more. The song goes a little bit like this...

I will sing of all You've done
I'll remember how far You carried me
From beginning until the end
You are faithful, faithful to the end.

Every single time I would get on the bus this song would come to my heart and my mind and I would sing it. And when it was finished I could hear God say so clearly to me, "Melody, I am faithful, when are you going to be?" Next day comes...I try and ignore that feeling in my gut, you know the one...of conviction. I get on the bus, sit down and we start rolling. Again same song, and again you know exactly what I hear. "Melody, I am faithful, when are you going to be?"

I am one of those people who needs repetition, but it didn't matter how many times God spoke to me, I knew exactly what he was talking about the first time I heard him. I usually do, and I knew that it was time to be faithful to what God has been asking of me. That moment, this week, was a pivotal point in my life. Not because it was something that was new that I learned, but because I had been putting being faithful on hold in my life. I was giving God every part of my life except one, the one part that I wanted to keep control of for myself. God was asking me to faithful with all of it, every single part. 

At the end of week, we have an opportunity to share how God worked in our lives throughout the trip. And I knew exactly what I was going to share. So I got up to my feet, in front of most of my family, my closest friends, and my church and made a commitment to God. That it was time for me to be faithful, that I was going to give up my entire life into his control. There is freedom in surrender. There is freedom in being faithful.

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I wonder if there is anyone reading this that growing weary on the path God has them on, or is hesitating to take their next step for God, or wherever you may find your life. I want to encourage you, the way that I was encouraged being in Nicaragua that week. I want to leave you my family with these words...even a promise.

God is and always has been faithful! From being to the end!

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“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endured through all generations, The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” 

Psalms 145:13

Back to School in Kenya

As our students head back to school in America, our Kenya students are heading back to school as well, but for them, this is the final term of their school year. Their school calendar begins in January and ends the first of November with breaks along the way. 

The focus of term 3 is to complete the syllabus and prepare for the end of the year exams. For grade 8, this is especially important because their final few days of school will be taking a nationalized exam (called KCPE - Kenya Certificate Primary Education) that is highly governed, like our SAT or ACT (college entrance exams). The results of that one exam will determine IF they can go on to high school and WHERE they can attend high school. 

High school is not compulsory and it is not free in Kenya, but it is important if they are going to be able to get a better job or even possibly go to college. Because of the importance of this exam, much effort is poured into preparation from the students, the faculty and the parents. We have seen wonderful success for our students and are praying the same for this year's class.

Because their school days are long, we offer boarding for them at or nearby the school so they don't have so far to walk in the morning and evening.

This is the first class that has gone all the way through our schools. They started in Kindergarten 1 back in 2007 at 4 years old. What a joy it has been to watch them grow! They love God and are very hard workers! Will you please pray with us that God will help all of our students and faculty finish the year strong?

Class 8 students going over their recent practice exam with one of our dedicated teachers.

Class 8 students going over their recent practice exam with one of our dedicated teachers.

Another class 8 revision group.

Another class 8 revision group.

Grade 7 hard at work. This is the hardest year for school work because they actually work to complete all of the primary school syllabus so grade 8 can focus on review and preparation for the KCPE exam. 

Grade 7 hard at work. This is the hardest year for school work because they actually work to complete all of the primary school syllabus so grade 8 can focus on review and preparation for the KCPE exam. 

The pace in kindergarten is very different. It's rest time for these sweet little ones that in 10 short years will be completing their primary school education.

The pace in kindergarten is very different. It's rest time for these sweet little ones that in 10 short years will be completing their primary school education.

Thank you for making a HUGE difference in the life of this and every child in Fox River schools in Kenya. We have 900 children from age 3 to high school whose lives have been changed because of the opportunity they have to receive a great education, food and basic medical care through your sponsorship. You have changed lives and eternities for them, their families and these 2 communities on the other side of the planet. Thank you!

Thank you for making a HUGE difference in the life of this and every child in Fox River schools in Kenya. We have 900 children from age 3 to high school whose lives have been changed because of the opportunity they have to receive a great education, food and basic medical care through your sponsorship. You have changed lives and eternities for them, their families and these 2 communities on the other side of the planet. Thank you!

Story from Nicaragua

Hey Missions Family, its been a couple weeks since the Fox River Students have been back from their trip to Nicaragua this summer. We have been missing our people and our place, but we have also had the time to really reflect and think about how God worked in us. We know that we were not there on accident, each and everyone of us had a purpose.

One of the most impactful parts of the trip was being able to share our stories with each other, and seeing how powerful sharing can be. That's what we want to do again here, to share with all of you how God worked in and through us during our time in Nicaragua. So we invite you to settle in and hear a story from the trip, and join us in praising God for all that he has done in Nicaragua through Fox River Missions.

Alyssa and a sweet little girl from the church in La Esmeralda.  

Alyssa and a sweet little girl from the church in La Esmeralda.  

 

Here is what Alyssa wants to share with you about the trip, 

"If I had to describe our trip in one word it would have to be love. And that was probably my biggest takeaway from the whole week. I had never felt so loved, and it was surprising to me because I had this feeling of overwhelming love, from people I had just met. And this was a kind of love that comes from God and Christians. It was amazing because we had the opportunity to become friends with the kids, teens, and adults of all ages. And surprisingly(at least for me) the language barrier turned out to be a blessing. I only knew a little bit of Spanish so when I talked to the Nicas we had to make an effort and have patience to understand each other. So because of that, our relationships were more genuine and stronger since we both had to put in work in order to be friends!

When you think about it a smile, laugh, or playing a game doesn't even need a translation because love has no language! It was also awesome because we were able to hear the Nicas testimonies every night which made us able to connect with them even more and realize that we are similar. Even though we live far away from each other and are in different cultures/environments there was so many similarities I had in common with the other teens, which made my relationships even more special! Each person that we met was somehow involved in the church whether they were the pastor, worship leader, children leader, student etc. They all had a heart for God which really inspired me and made me realize that I am not sacrificing enough of my life for God as I should be. It was an honor to be on this trip because it was eye-opening and life-changing. I will never forget the people I have met and what they have taught me and I hope that I will only build on these relationships in the future."  

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What an amazing story of how God worked in Alyssa through the trip this summer. She truly sums up the trip very well. It is all about love; God's love bridges all barriers. 

 

Kenya Trip 2017 Wrap Up

By Sunday night all of our Kenya team had arrived back in the USA safe and sound. We are spending this week reconnecting with our lives in a new way after all that we experienced. As we continue to process the trip, here are a few thoughts from some of our team members.

Ginger writes:

When I think of Kenya, what I learned from one of our Vipingo students who is now in High School, about the flag comes to mind.  If you look at the flag, the color black represents the people of the Republic of Kenya; red symbolizes the blood shed during the fight for independence, and green for the country's landscape and natural wealth.  What it is so compelling about going to Kenya is how these colors take on an even deeper meaning.  The color black represents the color of a people who love no matter what your color!  We were equal partners in sharing the love of Christ with fellow believers, we were deeply respected by the students, and being white or black didn’t matter.  We all bleed red - which brings me to the color red.  Not the red shed by man but the red shed by the perfect Son of Man.  Even after leaving Kenya, I am still awestruck by the immense joy emanating from the people we met.  This was a joy that was not tied to their circumstances – otherwise, the immense poverty would only bring silence and tears.  Rather, this was a joy evidenced in songs, in big bright smiles, and endearing handshakes that is grounded in the truth that this red – this blood shed by grace in order to give us freedom both in the here and in the eternal is real and it means freedom.  Then there is the green – like the green pastures Jesus allows us to rest in as we walk with Him.  The landscape was spotted with the blues of the ocean, the greens of post-rainy season growth, and the deep hues of brown in the safari – yet, everywhere we went – God granted us the opportunity to sew for Him.  Even in those moments when I selfishly wanted to “take a break”, He would humble me by setting someone in my path who needed to know Him.  It was more than an honor – it was a life-changing pivot following a decade of Him sowing seeds in my own heart.  I was not tired when I returned.  Rather, I found a renewed sense of purpose to reach His people both here and in Kenya.  We will return – God has been calling us there longer than we realized.  My biggest prayer back here at home is that our US family of believers can live their lives with the same joy that we saw in the hearts of the Kenyan believers – that we can truly say God is good no matter what the circumstance!  

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Grady, our almost teenager, writes:

I really think that one of the coolest things I saw was the joy on the people's faces. No matter where we were, we were always greeted with a Jambo or hi by anyone passing by or in conversation. It was truly amazing to see how the people there had so little but so much joy. We Americans are downers. We look at the “lot” we have and crave for more, but our “little” over there really is a “lot”. 

Reid writes:

I don’t think there are enough bytes on the internet to store the overwhelming experience that I had in Kenya. Being able to share God alongside my family halfway around the world was an amazing experience and will always live in my heart and mind. The blessing that my son will carry with him the rest of his life is far beyond anything that I could have taught him as his dad, but the Father made daily imprints on his heart that with affect his path the rest of his life. I was exceedingly impressed by ALL off the people I encountered on our trip. The Kenyans were amazing people with a love beyond anything I’ve seen in America, and the other team members that travelled with us are now a part of our family. Only God could bring a group with such varying backgrounds together into such a cohesive team to make such an impact in His name! Kenya definitely grabbed a piece of my heart…

Tony writes:

Our last day in Kenya we spent our day sharing the gospel and handing bibles out in the villages. We also gave away a cute craft 'friend' that one of our team members brought. That evening some of the team members and I had dinner with one of our teachers who has become a dear friend and partner in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was sad to leave Kenya, but I am thankful and blessed. I'm thankful for the friends I have made on the team as well and looking forward to returning to see my Kenyan friends next year. God bless all!

Thank you for your love, support and prayers for our team before, during and even now after the trip. I would ask that you continue to pray for the team and for all of our children and partners in Kenya. On August 8, Kenya will hold their national elections. In the past, this has been a very tumultuous time for them. Please pray that there will be a free and honest election and for peace no matter the outcome. Thank you!

It may be over...

The team has spent the last couple days preparing to come home.

They have said their goodbyes and have had time together as a team to share what God has shown them! 

They have gone on Safari to end the trip seeing what God created! 

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Now 13 are headed to the airport.  The rest will follow tomorrow! 

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Will you pray them home with us?  Praying that their hearts were changed and that they hold tight to what God did in and through them this week...  For rest and health as they have a long trip home... 

God has done big things this week!  Watch for our wrap up post!

Fun Day at Bomani

Today was our last day in the centers as we had our fun day with the kids in Bomani. Here are some pictures of today's events.

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Gifts from sponsors

Gifts from sponsors

Parent meeting to hand out solar lamps

Parent meeting to hand out solar lamps

Prayer over our Bomani partners before our final departure.

Prayer over our Bomani partners before our final departure.

We are deeply grateful for the prayer and support from all of you at home. It has been a fruitful and blessed trip. God has used this team to encourage and build the partnership between Fox River and these two communities in Kenya. Tomorrow morning the team will go on safari. This is a great way for each of us to begin processing through all that we have experienced and to begin to turn our thoughts toward home. 

Fun at Vipingo

Our day began today with a 10 year anniversary celebration at Crossroads Academy in Vipingo. The school choir sang for us. They were national champions in this year's music festival and they are amazing!

We had the traditional cake cutting ceremony.

We honored staff that have been at the school for 5 or more years and Pastor John who has served in this community for 30 years.

We took our team picture.

The rest of the morning was dedicated to loads of FUN with our kids! With class 7 as our helpers we set out to make sure every class had a Bible story, a craft and a fun outside activity. 

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Class 8 had a special morning planned with our MANNA Worldwide folks that traveled with our team. 

A special treat

A special treat

Boys discussion

Boys discussion

Girls discussion

Girls discussion

And some special fun!

And some special fun!

We always enjoy the delicious lunches we eat at the centers.

After lunch we had the privilege to give out gifts the sponsors sent with us for their children.

In the afternoon we walked into the village with our class 7 helpers to see where they live and to meet their family. We took a small gift for them and prayed with the family before we left.

It was hard saying good bye to our friends, old and new, in Vipingo. Tomorrow is our last day in Bomani and our last day serving in the centers. The team has served well and has been a joy to walk beside on this journey. Please pray for continued safety and good health as we finish strong tomorrow. Thank you!

Thank you for your prayer and support!!

Thank you for your prayer and support!!

Grade 7 & Special Needs School

Monkeys enjoying their breakfast which they got from the dining hall!

Monkeys enjoying their breakfast which they got from the dining hall!

Today was our leadership day with grade 7. On our last day in each school we will have loads of fun with our kids with grade 7 being our helpers. We divide into teams to prepare a Bible story, craft and an outside activity for 3 different grade levels. We will have 3-4 helpers from grade 7 in each group. This is the day we get to know them and teach them the activity we have planned. Our goal is to pour into them as they are about to be the oldest students in the school. 

BOMANI:

One of our boys was given some money to purchase something for the children in Kenya. He decided to bring them something that is very popular in America: a fidget spinner. The kids learned about the physics behind the spinners and what they are used for. He had the opportunity to give them to all 6 - 8 grade students. They loved it!

VIPINGO:

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We had some open time around lunch and the team just dove right in!

Games

Games

Dishes

Dishes

Serving food

Serving food

In the afternoon we visit the special needs school where Hanzi lives. Hanzi was in our school for many years as we prayed for direction to find a path for helping him. God lead us to this wonderful school with 800 special needs children and adults. Hanzi is fourishing!

Hanzi

Hanzi

Buying jewelry made by Hanzi and his classmates.

Buying jewelry made by Hanzi and his classmates.

Hanzi's teacher talking with a team member.

Hanzi's teacher talking with a team member.

Hanzi's row in their vegetable garden.

Hanzi's row in their vegetable garden.

Hanzi's room. Twenty children and two adults.

Hanzi's room. Twenty children and two adults.

A special friend of Barbara and Glenn.

A special friend of Barbara and Glenn.

We had an early end of the day today. Please pray for the team as they have two long days ahead of them before safari. Pray for continued health and safety. We are looking forward to having a fun and final day in Vipingo tomorrow.

Crossroads Fellowship & Bomani Outreach

Today we attended Sunday services at our sister church in Mombasa, Crossroads Fellowship. We always enjoy the time to worship and learn with our brothers and sisters in Christ on the other side of the planet.

Recognize those greeters?

Recognize those greeters?

One of our group members was able to join the worship team for this weekend.

One of our group members was able to join the worship team for this weekend.

Worship is always a special experience.

Worship is always a special experience.

From church we went back to the hotel to have a quick lunch, put on our team shirt and head to Bomani for our outreach afternoon in that community. Because Bomani is a smaller community we usually expect about 1000 people. We have all the fun events as yesterday: camel rides, face painting, bounce house and the main stage fun and artists. The only difference is the sporting events. The main sporting attraction in Bomani on this day is a volleyball tournament in which Fox River fields a team. This year's team won in the first round which is progress for us! We ran out of daylight before we could play the championship game, but our team admitted that the opposition was far better so it might have been a good thing. :)

Green team shirts on both sides? Yes, we were playing our partners in Bomani during this game.

Green team shirts on both sides? Yes, we were playing our partners in Bomani during this game.

The high school students that graduated from Bomani enjoy being able to come home for the fun day in the center. Guy and I had the joy of meeting with them for a bit before they returned to their school. What a blessing they are!

The high school students that graduated from Bomani enjoy being able to come home for the fun day in the center. Guy and I had the joy of meeting with them for a bit before they returned to their school. What a blessing they are!

On this 10th anniversary, we honored our staff at the school and especially those who have been at the school for 5 and 10 years. They are a very special group!

On this 10th anniversary, we honored our staff at the school and especially those who have been at the school for 5 and 10 years. They are a very special group!

A view of the crowd around the stage.

A view of the crowd around the stage.

More people enjoying the entertainment.

More people enjoying the entertainment.

Guy gave a brief history of the ministry and then presented the gospel. Many responded that they were receiving Christ for the first time today. What a joy!! After that, he explained the gift for each family. Instead of feeding the community at the event, we decided a few years ago to distribute food because of the great need in this area. Each family received some basic staples as they were leaving for the evening.

One section of the many bags of food to be distributed.

One section of the many bags of food to be distributed.

The mammas lined up and waiting.

The mammas lined up and waiting.

They were happy and grateful.

They were happy and grateful.

Every other night we finish our day with a team meeting to prepare for the following days, share what we are experiencing and pray together. 

Every other night we finish our day with a team meeting to prepare for the following days, share what we are experiencing and pray together. 

It was another good day and a great weekend. Tomorrow we meet with our class 7 helpers who will assist us when we have our final fun days with our kids in the schools. Afterward we will visit one of our kids who is in a special needs school.

As we move into our final days here, please continue to pray for safety and health. One of our group is a diabetic and had a rough day today. The group is tired which is normal after the big weekend. Tomorrow should be a light day to recover a bit before the last 2 really busy days in the schools. This group has been a wonderful representative of God and Fox River. They are hard workers and have invested themselves in the work God called them to do in these communities. 

Thank you for your prayer and support!

Vipingo Big Day

Saturday was our annual Big Day at Vipingo. We often refer to this day like bringing Disney Land to Kenya. We invite all the surrounding community and have about 5,000 people attend. Some of the fun activities include:

Soccer tournament. Competitive teams play in qualifying rounds for a month to achieve a spot in this day's tournament. The play is high level and fun to watch.

Soccer tournament. Competitive teams play in qualifying rounds for a month to achieve a spot in this day's tournament. The play is high level and fun to watch.

A competitive volleyball tournament.

A competitive volleyball tournament.

A school choir competition. They are so good!

A school choir competition. They are so good!

Face painting.

Face painting.

A bounce house

A bounce house

Camel rides

Camel rides

Acrobats

Acrobats

And lots of activities with the kids by the team.

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Everyone was served a delicious Kenyan meal.

Mounds of food served on platters that will feed several children at once. Feeding 5000 is a LOT of food!

Mounds of food served on platters that will feed several children at once. Feeding 5000 is a LOT of food!

And mounds of dishes!!

And mounds of dishes!!

The main stage provides great entertainment with games and nationally known artists.

A view of the crowd

A view of the crowd

O'Neal (green shirt) is the organizer of the main stage events. He takes care of everything from arranging, setting up and running the stage and sound to lining up and caring for the talent who come to perform. We are so grateful for all he does for this event!

O'Neal (green shirt) is the organizer of the main stage events. He takes care of everything from arranging, setting up and running the stage and sound to lining up and caring for the talent who come to perform. We are so grateful for all he does for this event!

Guy had the opportunity to speak to the crowd and give the gospel with O'Neal translating. Just before the last performer and gospel presentation, the amplifier caught on fire resulting in the loss of sound. With some quick thinking, the team was able to find a replacement quickly so they could proceed. After Guy spoke and prayed with the crowd, many raised their hands professing Christ as their savior. We are grateful that the devil didn't win that round!

In closing, the awards were presented.

As darkness began to ascend the team departed tired, but filled with all that God had accomplished today. Thank you for your prayer and support for us on this journey. We are so grateful to be a part of all that God is doing here!

Tomorrow/Sunday we will be at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Mombasa in the morning. Our missionary, Jim Horne, is the pastor. It is much like Fox River and always a joy to be there. After a quick lunch we will head to Bomani for a smaller scale celebration like today. Bomani is a much smaller community and we expect a crowd of about 1000. Please pray that God will go before us to prepare the hearts of those who will hear the gospel in Bomani.