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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.

Africa

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Our guest blogger, Holly Kehlenbeck, has been a part of the 58ten community since the beginning and has played a vital role in 58ten’s partnership with Kitui Baby Home. In this blog she shares about her first visit to Kenya.

 

Holly in Kenya

So many ideas initially come to mind with the mention of this continent, right? Usually it’s the stereotypical descriptions of lions and tigers and bears, hot savannahs, colorful clothing…not to mention hunger, poverty and violence. While many of those characterizations are accurate, I’m here to shed just a little bit of light on a deeper, possibly less known part of Africa. A part involving real people, and their very real stories…many of which I heard for myself just over two months ago in the beautiful country of Kenya.

My African adventure began on August 24th, 2016. Thirteen members of our 58ten team sat at a gate in Philly waiting to board our first flight. In case you were unaware, 58ten is a community of Christians who act on behalf of orphans in Kenya, Africa. Our group included a variety of ages, backgrounds and experiences, but we were all unified in our desire to experience what God intended for us through this trip. I was especially excited to journey alongside my brother, Jeremy, who helped launch the ministry of 58ten and was our team lead (shout-out!) As I sat in the airport sharing surface small talk with many of the team members I had just met for the first time, so many thoughts were racing through my head. Is it ridiculously crazy to leave my husband and babies and travel so far for nearly 2 weeks? Did I really pack everything I’ll need? I know I won’t be able to run to Target on a whim. How will I feel when I look into the faces of these fatherless children? Can my heart handle it?

22 hours, 2 flights, 7 movies and 1 pair of compression stockings later, we arrived in Nairobi with all of our luggage. (Praise Jesus!) As we gathered as a team that night before heading to bed, we felt an obvious sense of unity and excitement. We didn’t know exactly what was coming, but we knew God was in it and we were each exactly where He wanted us.

The next morning we, along with our exceptional drivers Elijah and Sammy, set out bright and early in two vans to make our way toward the Mulango Children’s Home. That bumpy three hour drive provided my first glimpses of Africa laid bare…the unique red soil covering much of the ground, people and more people walking alongside the road, brave (or crazy) motorcyclists veering in and out of traffic. There were busy markets selling a variety of goods and mommas carrying babies slung over their backs. Many of the living quarters we passed were made of cardboard and tarps, sometimes with newspaper for walls or sticks tied together to make a type of roof.

I didn’t know what to expect as we turned onto the long, pitted road leading to the Mulango Children’s Home. And I’m not sure I will ever forget the welcome we received! Festus, the home’s manager, along with several of the older children, met us at the vans with songs, dancing, signs, and gifts. They then walked us into the courtyard of the home, and I think that’s the first time I had the distinct feeling that two worlds were truly coming together. The entire group of 150+ children were singing “Be welcomed, be welcomed, be welcomed on this day!” at the top of their lungs. Most of our team members were about to meet their very own sponsored child for the first time, and you could sense the weight of the moment. One of the guys in our group told us later that though he is not a very emotional person, he struggled to hold back the tears when he saw his “son” in the crowd. The huge brown eyes staring back at us were full of anticipation and joy.

Some of us took off work, we left family members for a couple weeks, we traveled for two days. Yep. This is why we came. I couldn’t wait to learn from and love on these beautiful brown faces over the coming days.

Light in Their Eyes

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Sharon Caughill is in Kenya on her second visit to the Mulango Children’s Home. In this blog she is sharing her thoughts on the children, the home, and the God we serve.

In 2012 “our” van pulled into the driveway of Mulango Children’s Home.  With no way to know what to expect I stepped out of the van into a tangle of children reaching out to touch my hand.  Pressed in on all sides I looked into their eyes one by one.  Hand shake, empty eyes.  Fancy shake, sad eyes. Fist bump, longing eyes.  You get my point.  Their eyes haunted me.  Too much hard had already happened in just a few years.

I had to remind myself to see God.  He had seen their plight and heard the heart cry of an orphan.  Now there was hope.  They had a place to sleep, clothes to wear, food to eat, house-parents to love them.  They could go to school, they had a church just down the road and a pastor who cared because he, too, was an orphan.

Fast forward to April 2016.  Again “our” van rumbles down the dusty road.  It’s the rainy season this time and I cannot help but notice beauty that had been missing in the dry season before.  But more beautiful than blooming flowers is the blossoming hope I see in their eyes.

One by one they greet us.  I take their hands and notice their eyes!  Their heads are held a bit higher, their gaze more direct.  Confidence and hope are growing in their hearts!

“We are winners, we are conquerors”, the orphans sing.  And they are.

I am so grateful they are not taught to be victims but rather victors.  Victors in Christ.

Satan whispers ‘you are alone’.  God says, ‘I see you, each one, and in Christ stand tall.’

I ponder, we are all a child of the King!  The orphan in Africa.  The pastor’s wife from Pennsylvania.  We belong.  Christ is King.  His eyes are on us every one, and because of his freely given grace we can gaze back with hope, joy, gratitude, and praise.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10