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A Trip to Remember

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St. Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” Each trip we take, we are amazed by how God uses our dear friends in Kenya to rock our worlds. Alyssa and her family recently visited Mulango and Kitui, and here is her take.

Trying to put the last 10 days into words…but there really are no words. As I sit here jet lagged, I have a million stories I want to tell and about 800 pictures I want to share. There truly are no words. It’s in-explainable. I gained a new family and a new home. I was welcomed by the staff in Kitui and Mulango unlike any other place I’ve been before. Over 100 kids got to hear and try the violin for the first time in their lives. Leaving was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – especially 1 kid that permanently embedded his DNA into my heart. Jeremiah wouldn’t leave my side for 4 days. He had the most infectious smile, a laugh that had me in tears, a pouty face that was too perfect to be mad at, and the last day he was calling me mom. Although he is thousands of miles away, he is in amazing hands with the incredible staff and many caring people who love him in Kitui, Kenya. But most importantly, God was glorified, hearts were encouraged, and relationships established and deepened. 10 days felt like 10 years as God grew me and turned my fears into courage. No matter where we live on this planet whether Kenya or US, I am reminded that it is God alone who gives life, offers hope, and sustains life according to his power. Praise be to God.

“Amen. Amen. I’m alive I’m alive because He lives.
Because He lives I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives every fear is gone.
I know He holds my life my future in His hands.
Amen. Amen. I’m alive I’m alive because He lives.”


Passing of Kitui Staff Member Cyrus Kiola

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With great sadness, we send you the news that Cyrus Mulwa Kiola, our night watchman at the Kitui Baby Home for five years, passed away late last week. Earlier this year he was diagnosed with liver cancer and given several years to live. However, the cancer recently spread to his lungs and he passed away earlier than anyone was expecting.

When asked about his work at Kitui, Cyrus often told us that the job was like a miracle, and he loved performing his duties.

One of Cyrus’ favorite verses was:

In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4:17-18

He always greeted us with a smile, making sure we had warm water for the bucket baths each morning. One of his prized possessions was a slingshot, and bow and arrow; he loved showing them to us. We are forever thankful to Cyrus for performing the demanding job of protecting the children each and every night.

Please continue to pray for the Kitui Baby Home, the staff, children, and Cyrus’s wife and five children.

Funeral services will be held this Saturday.

When asked by 58ten what his biggest life challenge was, Cyrus’ said it was paying the school fees for his children, because he always wanted the best for them. If helping with these fees is something you would like to do for his family, simply go to https://58ten.kindful.com/?campaign=273081.

-John Mark

Reasons to Visit Kenya with 58ten (Part 5 of 5)

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These posts are written by Carl Kiger, a long time sponsor and 58ten community member. After traveling to Kenya, Carl felt compelled to share with other sponsors why they should consider taking a trip to Kenya with 58ten. 

Conclusion: A few years ago, I read the book “Radical” by David Platt. It drastically changed how I view my walk with the Lord. More specifically, it changed how I use my time, my resources, and what I ultimately consider important in my life. It is a book that I would recommend to anyone, but I would also give a warning to readers up front. Only read the book if you want your life changed, as it is certainly not something you can read and remain unchanged. A sponsor trip to Mulango is exactly the same. I would encourage, without hesitation, every sponsor to go. But know up front that it will change you for the better in ways that you cannot even understand or imagine before you go. If you make an effort to make the trip happen, you will never regret it.

Trips to Kenya (Part 4 of 5): Torch and Batteries

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Torches and Batteries: My daughter and her husband over the last couple of years have supported a young man at the home named Mbathi Daniel. I got to meet him and know him on this trip. He is a soft -spoken young man with a very tender heart.

On the next to last day of our visit, he asked me if I had any batteries. I said that I didn’t, but I asked him why he needed batteries. He said that he needed batteries for his torch. It took a while to figure out what he was talking about, but I eventually realized that he had a flashlight that needed new batteries. Little did I know at the time, how well his need would weave into the need which each of us as sponsors have.
Matthew 5:16 says: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven.” This verse tells us that as Christians our righteous life, pure conversation, faithful obedience, and good works should be seen by all who know us. Though most of do not realize it, the country in which we live, as wonderful as it is, also distracts us as Christians. The complexities of our daily lives, and the vast amount of activities and material things that exist in abundance in our society, all tend to take our attention away from the things of the Lord. Simply put, they become idols that dim our light. Or, as Mbathi might say, our “torch.”
Visiting Mulango will do more to recharge your torch batteries than you can possibly imagine. It will help push those idols off the throne of your heart, so that it can be rightly occupied by the things that should be there. I know this because I have now experienced it for the second time. The dimming of your light happens so gradually that you may never notice it, or you may believe that it has not dimmed. It is something you can only really appreciate in hindsight. I know this for a fact because though I pray for the children of Mulango daily, it was not until my second trip that I realized how much mine had dimmed from my first trip. I can say it won’t happen again, but unless I stay close to the One that put the light there in the first place, it will always happen. Part of staying close, is stay close to His Word, staying close in prayer, but also staying close to His work (helping those in need). The unique thing about visiting Mulango is that not only are you getting very close to those in need, but you also are getting close to people whose life situation allows them a closeness to the Lord that will really humble you. You can hear it in their prayers. You can see it in their reliance on Him. You can hear it in their worship. They recognize their need to rely on the Lord, and He is an intricate part of their lives on a daily basis. Though our lives in America have so many more material advantages than theirs, their lives leave me envious of their relationship with the Lord. If you need some new batteries for your “torch,” I can promise you that Mulango is just the place to get them, as they have them in abundance. I will make sure that Mbathi has physical batteries for his torch the next time we send packages to Mulango. Mbathi, the children at Mulango, and the workers at Mulango have already provided me with new spiritual batteries for mine.

Trips to Kenya (Part 3 of 5) – Your Child

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These posts are written by Carl Kiger, a long time sponsor and 58ten community member. After traveling to Kenya, Carl felt compelled to share with other sponsors why they should consider taking a trip to Kenya with 58ten.

Your Child: The privilege we have in sponsoring a child through 58ten is that we have a direct relationship with the child we sponsor. This direct relationship is somewhat unique within support organizations of this nature. While we, as sponsors, have a clear view of the benefits we receive through having a direct relationship such as this, I really want you to try to see things from your child’s perspective. Put in the most basic terms, your child considers you his family (his parents). While the staffers and other children at the home are also his family, you are specifically the people that he (or she) can call his own. The letters, packages, and Christmas videos that we send to them throughout the year are truly the highlight of their year. They look forward to each of these things with great anticipation. While they always appreciate all the items we send, most of the children go directly to the letters and pictures first. Prior to going on my first trip, preparation of these various items was often something that we did hastily at the last minute before it was due. Once you see how the children react to these items, you will forever treat the preparation of these items with the level of seriousness that they deserve.

Going back to the thought that your child considers you his parents, imagine having parents you have never met. I can say without hesitation, your child longs to meet you with every fiber of his being. Additionally, as they get older, this feeling of longing only intensifies. Each time a new group of sponsors arrives at the home, five to ten of the children at the home are elated beyond belief because their most important dream has come true. Their sponsor has come to visit them. While all the children are super excited to see the sponsors, for that special group of five to ten children, their world has literally changed. At this point you may want to stray towards the cynical part of yourself (which is in all of us) and think that I am overstating this. I can promise you I am not. If you know a sponsor who has traveled to Kenya, just take time to ask them about it. Also, look at the pictures below, and judge for yourself the importance to the child of meeting and spending time with his sponsor.

Additionally, during the time you are at the home, children will come up to you and ask if you know their sponsors. Sometimes they are carrying their sponsors’ pictures, and other times they are asking about them by name, but this happens so often that you will lose count. It breaks my heart when I have to say that I do not know them, but it makes my day when I do know them and can record a video message from the child to take back to his sponsor.
Given the number of trips that 58ten has taken to Mulango at this point, I would estimate that less than 25% of the children have met their sponsors. Having now been twice, this really breaks my heart. The reason that a few sponsors have been able to go twice is simply that the demand from people going for the first time has not been that high. First time sponsors always take priority over a sponsor wanting to go for a second time. As I mentioned in the first paragraph of my letter, my goal is to convince you to visit the child that you sponsor. Though a part of me would be sad if there was such a demand for first-time sponsor visits that it never allowed me to visit Moki again, another part of me would be joyous beyond belief because so many more of the children would be able to meet and know their sponsors. I know that we all have unique circumstances in our lives, and that 100% of sponsors visiting their children will never be possible, but my prayer is that the vast majority of children will be able to meet and interact with their sponsor(s). It will change their lives, and it is a memory that they will cherish forever.

Reasons to Visit Kenya with 58ten (Part 2 of 5)

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These posts are written by Carl Kiger, a long time sponsor and 58ten community member. After traveling to Kenya, Carl felt compelled to share with other sponsors why they should consider taking a trip to Kenya with 58ten.

Practical Considerations: Like many of you, I lead a very busy life. My job is customer facing, and my pay is 100% commission based. Simply put, if I am not bringing business in the front door, I am not getting paid. Prior to my first trip to Kenya a couple of years ago, the thought of not being able to respond to customers for ten days was scary from an income perspective. However, in early 2014, my church challenged each of us to go on a short-term mission trip, so at that time I committed to do so. I made my first trip in September of 2014. Though I was away from my job for ten days, when I got back I was completely back up to speed at my job in a couple of days. My point in sharing these details with you is just to make you aware that any hurdles you view as keeping you from going are never as high as your mind will make them. Plus, I firmly believe that the work 58ten is doing in Kenya (including our travel over there) is work in service of the Kingdom; therefore, the Lord takes things which look like hurdles with respect to doing this work and makes them mere bumps in the road.

Lastly, regarding practical considerations, when thinking of traveling to Kenya, I know you will worry about things such as safety, sanitary conditions, food, disease, etc…. Similar things went through my mind prior to my first trip. While these are all things you should take seriously, the good news is that we are not trailblazers with respect to the trip. Specifically, 58ten has everything mapped out, and they have relationships in Kenya in place, which make all aspects of the trip run very smoothly. Each trip will have its unique situations, which will be faced and resolved, but across the span of two trips I have not encountered anything that we were not able to work through. If you follow 58ten’s pre-trip planning instructions, you will be well prepared for any challenges which you face. To sum it up, it is like you are going to an all-inclusive 5-star resort where all your activities and your schedule are mapped out for you in advance, only your destination is much different (and much better) than a 5-star resort :-).

Reasons to Visit Kenya with 58ten (Part 1 of 5)

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These posts are written by Carl Kiger, a long time sponsor and 58ten community member. After traveling to Kenya, Carl felt compelled to share with other sponsors why they should consider taking a trip to Kenya with 58ten.

Part 1

Carl did not give us permission to use this picture.

My name is Carl Kiger. My wife, Donna, and I sponsor Moki Kithome at the Mulango Children’s Home through 58ten. Since starting to sponsor him several years ago, I have had the wonderful privilege of being able to travel to Kenya twice (via the 58ten sponsor trips) to visit him. Since I am not much of a writer, I rarely take time to put my thoughts down on paper, but after this most recent trip, I decided that it was finally time to do so. My reason for doing so is simple, as any other sponsor who has already traveled to Kenya already knows, making the trip will change two lives, yours and that of the child that you sponsor. I am sure that many of you reading this letter have considered going in the past but have never taken that step, and I am sure there are others of you who have never seriously considered going for any number of reasons. So, whether you are one step, or many steps, away from making the decision to visit the child you sponsor, I hope this letter will get you across the finish line. Put more simply, you need to go, so I am here to convince you.

Reason #1…

5 Ways to Pray for the Staff in Kenya

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“Be strong and courageous,” God commanded Joshua. “Do not be afraid or discouraged.” How impossible that must have felt at that moment. Joshua was just given the task to lead the Israelites to possess their land, which would mean strong opponents, long battles, and even longer odds. On top of that, he had just witnessed the death of the former leader, Moses, who had failed this same task. Being afraid would be a normal response.

So God gave Joshua a series of instructions: Be strong and courageous; Meditate day and night on the Book of the Law; Do not be frightened or discouraged. And while Joshua does those things, God promises that He will not leave him or forsake him. The ESV study notes on this passage say, “The Hebrew terminology used in these assurances has nothing to do with worldly wealth or worldly success, but has everything to do with accomplishing one’s mission and acting with keen insight in any circumstance that presents itself.”

I can’t think of a task more important, or in more need of wisdom, than leading the kids of Mulango and Kitui. The staff have become Dad and Mom to over 200 kids who have varied life experiences. The kids come to the home at different ages and for different reasons, but they all look to the staff for stability, comfort, provision, guidance, and love. Wow. That is an overwhelming task. But if you talk to the staff, it is something they feel called to. It is not “just a job” to them. Like Joshua, it is their God-given task.

So what can we do to support our staff at Mulango and Kitui? Here are five things from Joshua 1 we can pray for the staff:
1. Strength and courage to accept their task
2. Diligence to meditate on and to obey God’s Word
3. Resistance to fear
4. Wisdom in every circumstance
5. Open hands for the outcome

Thank you for partnering with us and pouring yourself out in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Kenya.

-By Lora Allston

Thoughts on a Proverb

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Proverbs 31:8-9

Open your mouth for the mute,

for the rights of all who are destitute.

Open your mouth, judge righteously,

defend the rights of the poor and needy. (ESV)

As I read a familiar chapter in the Bible that is usually associated with the character of a godly woman, I came across two verses that stuck out to me. They are written to the king directing him to consider and stand up for the poor and needy. While I may not be a king, I want to head to the true King. Seek Him. We know that justice is at the very heart of who our God is. How do we emulate Him? Fight for the things He would fight for? Ask Him, seek Him, and follow in the way He leads. We are completely dependent on Him. We need Him to align our hearts with His heart for justice. We need His wisdom to know how to act, and then His courage to do it.

Africa – A Day in Mulango

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Holly Kehlenbeck visited Kenya for the first time last September. She shares her thoughts on the Mulango Children’s Home.

Our first day at the Mulango Children’s Home was certainly one to be remembered. After our more than memorable courtyard greeting, the home’s manager Festus, along with several staff members, led us on a full-scale tour of the property. We explored the rich smells of the kitchen and watched as Joseph, the home’s head cook, stood over the wood cooker preparing the next meal. Now that’s work, people. Daily preparing three meals for over 150 children and staff members. Neatly stacked bags of rice and grain sat in one corner, while fresh lettuce and eggs adorned the other.

I remember being led into one of the large dorm rooms that housed a number of the younger boys. I took in the neatly made bunk beds, a bright blue mosquito net hovering above each one. The cool Kenyan breeze fluttered a thin curtain over the window. I noticed that shelves against a nearby wall held a number of small wooden boxes. Festus explained that each child owned one and used it to store his or her personal belongings. A small wooden box. A box containing all of the possessions they had in this world. Phew…Lord, give me a heart of contentment. Let me not freak out when the wifi is slow or I’m sitting in traffic or heaven forbid the waitress got my order wrong. Give me joy in the little things and the things that matter. I loved that one of the boxes had the words DON’T TOUCH scribbled in big letters. So natural and childlike.

We were able to see where the dorm mothers lived during the week, the small library housing as many books as it could handle, the washrooms, as well as the outdoor grounds complete with chickens and goats. After the tour was finished, we moved into the Dining Hall where the children performed numerous welcome songs, dances and speeches. I could try to describe for you what a chorus of over one hundred excited Kenyan children sound like chanting, clapping and singing at the top of their lungs, but I suggest you find out for yourself. We also stood before the staff and children as a team and introduced ourselves. There were even a couple male members of our team who attempted their own version of a Kenyan welcome dance (key word: attempted.) It was a good effort, boys.

We loved spending the rest of the afternoon and evening conversing and spending time with the children and staff. After all, you can’t build relationships easily from across the world. We were here…with the people we had all prayed for and sponsored for years. In some ways it felt surreal, but what a blessing. It was incredible to look into their faces and be reminded that they are people, just like us. People with problems, joys, heartaches. I remember having a conversation with one of the female staff members about some of the struggles she and I had both faced in early motherhood. We understood each other. Maybe our upbringings varied, and maybe the countries in which we lived were different, but we connected…as people made in God’s image and loved by Him. It was a strong moment for me.

After a good night’s sleep at the guest houses nearby, our team woke up the next morning excited for the day’s events. Since the Olympics had just concluded a few weeks prior, we had planned a day full of Olympic events for the kids. We all met in the Dining Hall to divide the children up into four different teams. Each team represented a country – Kenya, England, Brazil, and the United States. We had fun with the Opening Ceremonies…we presented each team with a large team flag, a homemade Olympic torch (shout out to Kelly Cornell), played the Olympic theme song, and sang (well, they did) the Kenya National Anthem. We then trekked down a rocky dirt road and through town to a large schoolyard field.

First, warm up time. The children jumped, stretched and laughed in anticipation. Festus and other staff members had organized the competition into over twenty separate running events. Oh man, could these kiddos run! And BAREFOOT, no less. Race after race they sped along the white chalkdust track around the perimeter of the field. When they weren’t racing, we were able to goof off with the kids, ask them questions, take pictures and continue to deepen relationships. After countless gold, silver and bronze medals had been given out, we all relaxed and celebrated with a special treat for the kids…glass bottles of soda, with orange Fanta the clear favorite.

As we wrapped up our Saturday later that evening, the team spent time together conversing about the details of the day. It’s always interesting how the Lord can reveal Himself in different ways to people sharing the same experience. What was clear is that He had handpicked each team member to be in this place at this time. We set out to be a blessing, but what an extraordinary blessing our Kenyan friends had been to US so far. I couldn’t wait to worship our same Lord and Father the next day with our fellow African brothers and sisters.