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Archive for January, 2012

Connections – grief and partnerships.

 

We have tried to show the ways that we are connected to the body of Christ in so many ways up here in the North country.  This announcement comes from Kansas but Pastor Geske grew up in Thief River Falls and was a good friend of Pastor Eckstein from Jamestown who also grew up there.  We remember the Pastor and family and congregation in our prayers. 

Pastor Jeffrey Geske from the Christ the King Luthern Church and his family were traveling along Interstate 70 near Topeka Saturday afternoon, when an on-coming car crossed the grassy median and hit them head-on. Geske’s wife Laura was killed in the crash, as were two of his three children, 3-year-old Joy Geske, and 8-year-old Joshua Geske.

Pastor Geske was hurt, as was 3-year-old Jacob Geste. Jacob is Joy’s twin brother. Both were transported to a Topeka hospital, and have since been released.

When the congregation gathered for Sunday services, Lay Minister Dennis Hill officiated. Those who had not yet heard the news were stunned when he announced what had happened.

You can read more at http://www.ksallink.com/?cmd=displaystory&story_id=20698&format=html

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Jerim Otieno Onanda RIP +

We have been working with partners to try and work out transportation difficulties for the Pastors, evangelists and deaconness’ in the ELCK for a while now.  Those who have not been to Kenya do not know the issues involved in simply visiting the sites where Pastoral ministry and worship take place.  Some of the roads are so awful that I wonder if even a motor bike is a good idea.  Pastor Onanda was a dedicated servant of the Lord – I remember meeting him in passing a while back.  We ask God’s blessings on his family and those he gave Pastoral care too.  This is from David.
Last night The Lord finally called Pastor Jerim Otieno  Onanda home. Jerim died after developing kidney problem following a road accident he had last week.  Jerim was involved in a road accident as he was riding his motorbike after attending morning pastoral instructions at Nyimbi special school and he has been in great pain. We tried all that was possible but the Lord wanted him home. We wait now to join him when out time comes. Jerim leaves behind Millicent his wife with three children Anjeline 10,  Matilda 7 and Martin 5 and Millicent is expecting.
Jerim is a pastor in ELCK, and has been working with Diakonia Compassionate Ministry as an outreach worker and team leader. He was also the leader of Katito children Bible Club. Jerim had great potential in managerial positions for DCM and for ELCK as whole.
Continue to join us in prayers. Funeral arrangements will be communicated later.
Rev David Chuchu
Director
Diakonia Compassionate Ministry
 Here is a picture of the kind of roads that Pastor Onanda would have to travel –

David Chu Chu and Representative Kurt Daudt walking rather than driving - sometimes it is safer.

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You Say Ukunda – I say Faraga – Project 24 Centers and the Mary Okeyo Scholarship fund.

Stephanie, Annie and Cheryl playing with the children at Ukunda/Faraga

 I do not want to make any noise like I am criticizing.  These are ELCK Projects and they operate on their own timetables – we Americans get impatient and want everything done yesterday.  This is one of the first centers that we had worked on and it seems like it took a long time to get done even by “Africa Time” standards.  You can read about the trials and tribulations by going back over the blog site from the beginning.

Anyway we had heard that the hold up’s were caused by the Government and so we asked to see the official in charge.  After some discussion and a visit we realized that progress had been made since last February – a new security fence and gate, flush toilets inside and a good outhouse  and cook shack have all been completed.  There was no reason that the place should not be up and running except that David and other officials do not have the transportation to go down and do inspections and keep the ball moving forward.

We saw upon our return home the final list of stuff that needed to be purchased.  It included “puppy” (made me wonder until I realized it was puddy), food preparation items etc.  John Fale preached at a church in Illinois that wrote out a check for the remainder and as far as I know there should be thirty children there now.

The picture above is from the cook shack that they use as an interim church.  The redish building is the dorm that will house at least 30 children.  My understanding is that this will be a two pronged facility teaming up with Whema Station.  Whema will be where the girls are and Ukunda/Farga will be for boys.

It is hard to get pictures to show the full site so here is a picture facing the opposite way from the first photo.  Kyle Novak, Pastor Bakari and John Halake are in the cooking area and you can see an unfinished building in the back ground.  That was part of the problem – trying to do too much at one time.  Anyway the children should be there now and work can start on phase two some other time.

 Thanks to John Fale, interim Director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care, Pr Allan Buss, Immanuel, Belvidere, IL  and that congregation for getting this done for us.

A view from the opposite side of the cook shack
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Project 24 Centers and the Mary Okeyo Scholarship fund -Udom – Udom

The Udom Rescue center is also one of the great stories.  Most of the centers were built around a church and a school.  Udom was built around a school and a church developed because if the rescue center?  The Udom center was built by a former missionary and his wife in memory of a young boy they befriended in the mission field years ago.  In his culture he was shunned because his mother died in child birth.  Our missionaries cared for him and taught him the Gospel, but lost track of him when they came home.

We toured the center last February and you can see video by going to http://www.wmltblog.org/tag/project-24  – and scrolling down the page.

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The Mugging

Going for the Tusker

The Pietists out there might as well stop reading right now – this will irritate you.  I had a monkey mug me on the balcony of the place we stayed in Mombasa.  He went for the Tusker beer and my pipe tobacco.  When I tried to chase him away he got feisty with me.  He could take my glasses or my wallet, but don’t mess with my beer.

 

Evolutionists say that man and the apes had a common ancestor.  Of course as a Christian I don’t believe that but…… we do share certain tastes.

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Project 24 Centers and the Mary Okeyo Scholarship fund – Rongo

We are going to try and give an update on all the centers that are up and running, up and not running, planned and projected.  I know that this is an issue for many of you and we are trying to keep up to date with those who have given of their time and treasure so I will try and do that in the next few days.  I do not have a complete list of those who have given and I don’t know exactly who has given to special projects and are interested in what is happening in a specific rescue center.

Stephanie Erlandson and Annie Pitschka at Rongo
 
Stephanie Erlandson and Annie Pitschka were teaching these young ones some song and everyone seemed to be having a blast.  I’m not sure about the little guy in the front (third from the left).  Anyway Rongo is one of the amazing stories.  It is a true partnership between Project 24, 1001 Orphans, the ELCK and the local church and school.  The ELCK identified the children, the school brought in the children, we supplied them with a place to stay, 1001 orphans works on their support and the community church also kicks in and helps with food and services.
Here are the issues – the school is a church school and therefore has no govenment support with books and materials.  The school is falling apart and the classrooms look like they may crumble so some classes are taking place in the Project 24 dorm.  Not an issue as far as I am concerned, but the principal and the Pastor were very apologetic.  They felt like they were cheating us by using the dormitory for classes.
There are literally no textbooks for any of the grades and I believe they correspond to our Kindergarten through what I think was about 9th.  If any of you teachers, Principals, or educators out there could send books, or the money for them to purchase books it would be a marvelous thing. 
When I was there last David Chu Chu had told them that if they showed they could care for it they would get a “Cows for Kenya” cow.  In the 10 months since I have been there a beautiful barn and pasture area has been developed and the cow looks exceedingly content.  As I said this is a perfecet idea of what we are trying to accomplish – a partnership of Project 24, 1001 Orphans, ELCK, DCM Kenya and the local congregation and school.  Now if we can just get them something to teach with………………
 

Minnesota State Representative Kurt Daubt at Rongo - note the rescue center in the front and the school way to the back right.

 
A very content and very pregnant cow at Rongo.
 
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Pretty Bird and Mary Ann Anderson revisited = Shepherd Hands On the Prairie

We have been overseas so much we need to get back for a moment and remember Mary Ann -she has been the subject of several blogs and articles and the work she is tryin g to do on the Standing Rock Reservation has caught some of our attention.  Mercy work has no boundaries so.  Lately we have heard that Mr’s Eppen, Pastor Eppen’s wife from Lamore ND and the quilters of that congregation took 70 quilts and gave them for the needs at “Pretty Bird”.  That is a great illustration of the partnerships and connections we are trying to cultivate and document on this site.  I asked her for a year end review and here it is in her words – unedited and right from the source.

Contributions to Shepherd’s Hands-2011  Personal Contributions

Kathy, ND-multiple bags of yarn for hats and mittens

 Lorraine and mother Viola, Mn-Boxes of  yarn for hats and mittens.  Crochet hooks to assist in teaching women at the Ruth Meiers Women and Children’s Homeless Shelter inBismarck, to crochet.  Christmas yardage for placemats for the women at Bridges inMobridge,SD. Lorraineis a constant prayer partner.

 Laura, ND-Constant prayer partner and “out of the box thinker”.   Laura purchased many items for the shelters the last two years.  She contacted J & R Sewing and Vacuum and was given two reconditioned sewing machines.

 Lois,Neb.-A large quantity of individual boxes of 24 crayons for school and for our Christmas bags.  Lois also gave many pairs of gloves and monetary gifts throughout the year. 

Kay, Kansas-Kay knit many beautiful hats and mittens.  Kay deals with health issues and still gives to this mission.  I’ve never met this wonderful lady but I thank her for her prayers and the items she has sent.

 Jay andRosemary,Neb.-Gave a monetary Christmas gift for the mission and also remember the “work to be done” in their prayers.

 Karl andAmy,Ohio-We are thankful for the monetary gift they gave to this mission for Christmas.

 Les andBarbara,Tenn.Gave a monetary gift to Holy Cross LWML for the mission of Shepherd’s Hands on the Prairie.

 Jim, Laura, Karl, Francie, Sally and Tyler-As a family they have supported this mission with their prayers and have provided food for Bridges, in Mobridge, SD, Pretty Bird, in McLaughlin, SD, the McLaughlin Food Pantry and Veteran’s Industries in McLaughlin.  They have given school supplies to the AARC Outreach inFt.Yates.  They have given many hours to guarantee that those in shelters  were not forgotten at Christmas.  They’ve been involved for the past two years.

Marybeth, Mn-has donated hats and mittens for the shelters.  She also mentioned our needs to the Aastad Lutheran Auxiliary Quilting Group.

Pastor Arie Bertsch,ND-Pastor Bertsch remembered from a conversation we had in Feb. 2011 about the need for toys at Christmas at Bridges and Pretty Bird.  He, with the help of a local campaign, donated half a van of toys.  He also met us half-way in the delivery of the toys.

 Norma,ND-Norma has provided calendars for each of the Christmas Bags we make for the women at the shelters.  She has done this for the past two years.  She also has donated good used toys.

 Aletha,ND-Donated stuffed animals with a sewn blanket for each animal for the children at the shelter in McLaughlin andFt.Yates.

 Tyler, Anita, Carissa and Kaylie, ND-donated good used girl’s clothes along with books, school supplies and toys.  Carissa made stress balls for each of the women at the shelters in Mobridge and McLaughlin this Christmas.

 Leo andMyra,ND-Collected good used adult clothing for Pretty Bird and the AARC Outreach inFt.Yates.  They also contributed many good household items for Pretty Bird.

 Jonathan,ND-Jonathan has worked atSittingBullCollegeinFt.Yatesfor nine years.  Because of this, we have been granted access in areas we might never have been able to be involved in.  He also delivers most of the donated items to Mobridge, McLaughlin andFt.Yates.

Mary Ann, ND-Crocheted hats and mittens

 Pastor Seter,ND-Truly the wind beneath our wings.  He has given Pastoral advice and prayers for the work to be done.

 Group Contributions

 Holy CrossLWML,ND-This LWML made hygiene kits for both Bridges inMobridge,SDand Pretty Bird inMcLaughlin,SD.  Flip Flops were also collected for the Rape Bags.  Bridges requested Tylenol. Alieve and Advil for pain relief for the victims of violence.  Those items were also donated along with good used clothes, household items and toys. A Christmas monetary gift was also included.

 LWML Quilters,BethelLutheran, ND-These women have donated many beautiful adult and baby quilts for Bridges, Pretty Bird and the Ft. Yates Outreach.  Others in the group have given good used bedding, sheets, pillows etc., and women’s clothing.

Beautiful SaviorLWML,ND-The women sewed and donated many beautiful sun dresses to Bridges, Pretty Bird andFt.Yates Outreach.

 Aastad Auxiliary Quilting Group from rural Mn. Has twice given us many beautiful quilts which were shared with Pretty Bird andFt.Yates Outreach.  We also thank them for their prayers for the mission.

 Lutheran Indian Ministries,Wisc.-They have given us many Lenten and Advent Devotionals to distribute to the shelters, Food Pantry and at Veteran’s Industries.  An Assembly of God Pastor in Ft.Yatesis using the 2011 Advent Devotions for Bible Study.  They have also blessed us with many copies of  The Jesus Way, New Testament.

 LCMS World Relief and Human Care-Pastor Seter spread the word about what was happening on the Sioux Reservation in ND and SD and Georgia Endicot has been of so much assistance to us.  For the past two years they have provided us with many, many items, especially at Christmas, for the shelters.  This has included Prayer Shawls from sister LWMLers, books, toys, hygiene items etc.  We are so thankful for their continued support.

 J and R Sewing and Vacuum, ND-donated two sewing machines that can be used for the shelters in ND and SD.

 Lutheran Association of Missionaries and Pilots, Canada-made us aware of material available for First Nation VBS.  They have always been willing to answer all our questions  and have given us valuable insight for this mission.

 All the above are acts of Mercy.  Yet, through them, we were able to introduce theWord of God, both spoken and written.  To God be all the glory!

 Getting the Word Out

 Bridges.Mobridge, SD-Four New Testaments were accepted at Bridges in Mobridge.  Arch Christmas books have been given to the youth at Christmas. Arch Easter books were given to the youth at Easter.  Advent and Lenten devotions were given to the women.

 Pretty Bird, McLaughlin,SD- Arch Christmas books given to the youth at Christmas and Arch Easter books at Easter.  The women were given Advent and Easter devotions.

 McLaughlin, SD, Food Pantry-The Director accepted 25 New Testaments.  He also accepted 25 Advent and Lenten devotionals.  Orphan Grain Train has been helpful here.

 Veteran’s Industries, McLaughlin, SD-The Director has accepted 13 New Testaments along with Advent and Lenten devotions.

 Abused Adult Resource Center Outreach at Ft. Yates, ND-The Outreach Center has been approached with these items but since it is set up differently we haven’t found a good match.

 Pastor Phil, Assembly of God, Selfridge and Ft. Yates, ND-is using the LTM Advent and Lenten devotions for his Bible Studies.

 Please pray that we seize every opportunity given and joyfully walk through every door God opens.

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There is a Mission to the Samburu.

 
Samburu Women – fancy

 The Samburu peoples are cousins to the Maasai.  The only difference in their languages is that the Samburu have a different pronounciation of plural words.  Their dress is very much alike except the Maasai have a red basic color and the Samburu that I met have a yellow and blue basic color set, and even when working the clothing is quite stunning for the women.  I am told that Samburu have red colors too but I didn’t see any.  The men, unless they are “moran” or warriors are pretty plain.  But if you see a moran out in the bush you know you are facing a pretty formidable character.  They carry a beautiful spear, the “rungu” or club, but what I noticed was different from the Maasai was the knife.  It looks soemthing like a Bowie” knife and is carried in a decorative sheath that hangs around the small of the back.  I hope one of our group got a picture of a moran.

 

Samburu women working

I am told that the Samburu, like the Maasai did not take to the Gospel the way the other tribes of Kenya did and that only recently “relatively speaking”,  have they started to allow mission work and now they are quite excited and anxious to get the whole area evangelized.  The ELCK has a school at Womba, but the school is at the end of the Womba road.  The school is 18km from the town of Womba but it is still called Womba and the children that go to school at Womba come from as far away as 18 km in any direction.  This is all confusing I know, but the rescue center is in Womba town and 23 children have been identified to be placed there.  As near as I can tell they will walk the 18 kms to the school in the morning and then walk back to the center in the evening.  By the way, for those of you that have an American education that is about 11 miles one way.  That means that going to and fro they will travel 22 miles by foot to go to school.  I have kids in Grafton that are transported by bus to school and they live about 4 blocks away.  I am not going to pick on our education system anymore – it is too easy.  We had to use our cell phones to convert dollars to schillings and I sat with the Kenyans who figured out the area of a ceiling in their heads so that they could order “puppy”.  They meant “putty” but you get my point.

These are smart people that greatly value education.  They have no electricity.  Well, they have generators and the school has a solar panel that gives them some electricity.  They desperately need one, I repeat one, computer.  I have right now within my eyesight 4 of them.  The problem with that is that if I try to send one over to them it would cost more than what all 4 cost in the first place.  The best way is to send the money to the ELCK and have them purchase and deliver.  If you are interested I have the head masters name.  He only has a postal address and the post office I believe is 18 kms away from the school.

 

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Studies in Contrasts was published on 1/15 without pictures – here they are.

When this big boy jumped out of the bush in the dark with a rainstorm in the distance it was one of those surreal moments that writers love to talk about as being a “primal experience”.  I was not just absorbed by the sight, I also had a distinct feeling that I needed to run or hide or get out of the way.  When the wart hogs jumped out from under the vehicle that accelerated those feelings (see the blog on 1/15)  There are no doors on this vehicle and the only barrier between me and this leopard are my clothes.  I had been regaling the group with stories about the maneaters of Tsavo, the maneater of Mwefue, who killed and ate a women in the middle of her village in broad daylight and then came back for several days with her small rucksack of belongings and would play with them in the village square like a housecat would play with a cat nip mouse.  Storys of the “Ghost and the Darkness” are frightening enough, but to be 15 feet away from the most efficent killer of human beings of all the big cats except the Tiger,  is a primal experience.  The lion as a man killer has been talked about for ages – Psalm 22, which we believe is a direct prophecy about the crucifixion of Jesus says

19 But you, LORD, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

But leopards are far more efficent killers of humans.  Perhaps the most efficent behind the tiger. What does that Bible say about leopards?  They used to live in Lebanon –
Song of Solomon 4:8 Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.
Jeremiah 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
Jeremiah 5:6 Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased.

Habakkuk 1:8 Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat.

Jeremiah 5:6 Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased.

Hosea 13:7 Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them:

Daniel 7:6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.

Interesting the leopard is descriptive of the anti – christ in Revelation 13:2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

 

The leopard and his prey

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True Partnerships and Global Economies

 

Modern Guest hose next to a shiny Mosque in Niarobi - that is Cheryl Peterson in the foreground - President of the Minnesota North District LWML

I wrote a bit about what happens when a country starts to move forward economically.  Kenya is doing well relatively speaking as are many of the countries in East Africa, plus they are fighting a nasty little war that I don’t hear much about with the Al Shabab terrorists.  There were two successful attacks against them this week and an incident were the terrorists attacked a police office and kidnapped a few people.  Here is an excerpt from the New York Times –

 Al Shabab is one of Africa’s most fearsome militant Islamist groups. The organization controls much of southern Somalia, and has waged an insurgency against Somalia’s transitional government and its Ethiopian supporters since 2006. Originally the militant wing of the Islamic Courts Union, the group that controlled Somalia prior to the country’s invasion by Ethiopian forces, Shabab leaders have claimed affiliation with Al Qaedasince 2007.

  As the group has drawn increasingly close to Al Qaeda, deploying suicide bombers and attracting jihadists from around the world, it has prompted American concerns that the organization may be spreading into Kenya, Yemen and beyond.

For years, the Shabab have been terrorizing the Somali public, chopping off hands, stoning people to death and banning TV, music and even bras in their quest to turn Somalia into a seventh-century-style Islamic state.

As drought ravaged Somalia in 2010 and 2011, causing a full-blown faminein several parts of the country, the Shabab blocked starving people from fleeing the country. The group was widely blamed for causing the famine by forcing out many Western aid organizations, depriving drought victims of desperately needed food.

In August 2011, the group abruptly pulled out of the bullet-ridden capital of Somalia, Mogadishu, leaving the entire city in the hands of the government for the first time in years and raising hopes that aid groups could deliver aid to more famine victims unfettered.

The group had taken a beating in steady urban fighting against a better-armed, 9,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force. The rebels were also divided over whether to let in Western aid organizations to relieve the famine.

On Oct. 4, an enormous truck bomb was detonated right outside a highly fortified government compound in one of the few Mogadishu neighborhoods that Somalia’s transitional government actually controls. Dozens of people — many of them students standing around waiting for exam results — were killed, sending the signal that the Shabab may be making a comeback after several months of losing ground.

Two weeks later, Kenya sent hundreds of troops into southern Somalia. Officials in Kenya initially said the invasion was just meant to push the Shabab back from its border, but later hinted at more ambitious goals, saying Kenyan troops were prepared to go as far as Kismayo, a Shabab stronghold along the Indian Ocean.

The Shabab vowed revenge, raising the possibility of a broad conflict within Somalia and of terror attacks in Kenya.

If we study history I believe that the evidence is clear that a militant Muslim regime that forces sharia law on a society, takes that society inevitably back to the 4th century.  If the militiants in the Sudan and Somalia have their way, all of the progress of the last 10 years will have gone for nothing.  Once again the churches, especially the ELCK can stand in the gap and make a difference.  As partners in Christ and partners in the Gospel we can stand with them.  As we stand with them we can address and help with the obvious discrepancies.

Clean up after dinner at Pastor Benjamins home.

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