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The Orphan School and What God is Doing through CBEM and your donations (Day 3)

Updated: Jul 13

Kenya is one of those place where you just accept that you are going to sweat. There is no “if” or even thoughts of sweat management per se, just that it Is happening and you accept that everyone around you is also experiencing an uncomfortable level of sweating as well. The same with trying obsessively to match clothes and to carefully cultivate your appearance. These things just become very unimportant. In fact, to be honest, it’s nice to take a break from the superficiality of the culture we are surrounded by with it’s carefully curated posts and experiences.

Here, where resources are somewhat scarce, you wear what you have access to and as I learned today, for many children at the Gloria Academy, that may not be very much at all. Following Covid, in which they suffered some really big losses, in which some teachers suffered severe reduction or no salary at all. Kids lost access to their uniform allowance from the sponsorships and all because of shut downs. (In fact, as I recall, Pastor Frederic Masha explained that over 340 schools closed in Kenya for good.)

We started the morning at Gloria Academy an entity of C.B.E.M. and started by Pastor Frederic Masha and his family. His son Edward Masha is the Chapin for the school and his son in law is the head of the teachers. (He is married to Frederic Masha’s daughter Polly.)

After we arrived to the sweetest welcome from the students where we were greeted with a short assembly and introduction to the teachers, a bright eyed group of men and women. These wonderful teachers have the arduous task of creating an environment intent on captivating the students into the importance of education despite the cultural pull to enter the workplace in order to help the family to survive financially.

After introductions, we went from classroom to classroom with our team of 4. 3 teams of 4 people (10 Americans and 2 Bulgarians).  After a brief prayer, we would then follow the Holy Spirit’s leading on what to present at each class setting. A skit, songs, a testimony, a Bible story or a combination of the four.

My group was made up of Lizzie Adams, Jonathan Miller, Noah Cooper (yes, Eli has an older brother) and myself. They were outstanding. Each gave their testimony in a way that was profound and well delivered…and the kids were captivated. We started in an 8th grade class. Never an easy group to work with, this class was made up of students anywhere from 13-17 years old. Again, I couldn’t have been more proud of the team that we had and if they were nervous they did not show it AT ALL. Each gave their testimony to the class and followed it up with a verse and thoughts about how Jesus Christ has transformed their lives. Amazing.

The next class couldn’t have been more different. A group of children between 3-5 years old! Lots of singing and clapping and Noah led “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” Lucky for us, most speak English. It is so wonderful to hear the songs sung in English with the slightest British accent. And the best part was they sang with lots of Joy.

After the classroom time was a time of sharing and thanking from the school to our team. To them, our team represented a group of people from the US willing to financially support their 90 children here at Gloria Academy. We represented a group of families that made it possible for their kids to not only get a Christian Education, but to get an education of higher value and to learn about Christ.

Most of the older kids had access to writing utensils and notebooks that were well worn and used. But still they are very happy and full of joy. This is life for them, and they know no differently. I am sure that their culture is full of comparisons, but they are seemingly devoid of it.

They explained the impact of the devaluing of the American dollar and how costs in country have tripled for staple items they need to survive. The US economy has such prominence on the world stage and Kenya is no exception to the difficulties. Please, please, please, consider how you and your family can financially support some of these sweet children.  For $1.09 per day the support pays for the children to receive 2 meals, a uniform allowance, and teachers salaries for the school year. These kids are real, they are in need, and CBEM is doing a wonderful job of vetting out the kids who are willing work hard for a better education and a brighter future.

After a 2 hour assembly, the Kenyans treated us to lunch in the cafeteria and following lunch we made our way into the center field to Paly with the students. As I looked around, each team member had about 20-30 Kenyan kids hanging around or hanging off their shoulders an in various state of play. There were kids….EVERYWHERE. We were so vastly outnumbered. Several of the boys tackled soccer, some frisbee, tag, you name it. Pastor Gary, Michelle, and I led the kids in a ferocious bout of karaoke VBS and Childrens songs complete with motions. It was so exhausting and so life giving to play such simple games with kids whose lives are uncomplicated by electronics and screens and know perfectly well how to use their imaginations.

Yes, the ability to play alone, to think alone, to be bored, and to learn that the world does not in fact revolve around their wants and desires. I explore this topic a little further in another blog post in which I talk about the danger of being a helicopter parent who doesn’t allow their teen or preteen to fail within the safety net of their home. We are so busy trying to keep them successful and to make sure that they don’t have disappointments  that they don’t know how to lose well or learn to recover well from failure which has also led to the fear of failure. Failure and making mistakes is a tool of God to help us to grow in dependence on Him. As we learn to Trust Him ad to lean not on our own understanding, it is Christ that enables us to be forgiven and to find Peace in the midst of the storms. I am afraid that if we don’t back off, we are going to create a generation of narcissistic teens who think everything they do is about them and gaining some new “experience.”

Then there ARE other experiences like 13 year old Walker Lawrence is having here in Kenya. He is seeing what it looks like to have a real and growing faith. He is learning that there are kids his age, that are struggling to eat their next meal or may never even be able to go past the 8th grade. It’s been impactful to me and I am already well aware of how spoiled we are as Americans and yet so out of touch we are  with our food and resources.

At this point, we are full of God moments, we are thankful for the work of the Holy Spirit to enable us to give so much to these school children and to give them small physical gifts as well, like the handmade Bible bags by Regan Labutis. We are praying, we are sharing, we are being Jesus to kids who may otherwise never hear the Gospel except for the wonderful scholarship sponsors of Spring Hills Church. God Bless you all and thank you for taking a moment to read.

Other Interesting Things to Note:

(About Clothing and Food)

I watched a documentary recently about how our clothes that are rejected from donation centers end up in huge shipping containers and compressed into huge textile squares. They are then sold to individuals who then pick through and resell them to the local vendors and street markets etc etc. In these towns close to the water you can see much of that type of commerce as we made our way yesterday through the streets in 4 of these motor trikes they call “tuk tuks.”

Many, many  people, and many, many items. Most seemingly influenced by Western culture and sold to locals touting their importance. The nicest shops selling items like cell phones on white tiled, cleanly swept floors, and sharply dressed Kenyans. The least of which the struggling vegetable vendors with mini bananas, maize corn (as they call it) and other local favorites like the most delicious mangos you’ve ever eaten that grow like clover here. (By the way, we will never be able to eat another Mango sold at Kroger or WalMart)

This brings me to the food. Evans Vidzo (Pastor Frederick Masha’s son in law) and his wife are both doctors. I asked them about about food allergies among those that he works with here locally. From what we discussed, there IS no peanut bitter allergy, there are no gluten intolerances, or other food issues. He suggests it is because they eat actual food. Fresh veggies, non GMO corn, or corn fed beef, just food. Grown naturally without fertilizers and without chemicals. It may be a little uglier thank our food, but the trade off is that kids don’t have to worry about becoming deathly ill from food…now the water on the other hand…that’s an entirely different issue.

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