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Thursday, 22 December 2011

December 2011 Report: MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Merry Christmas friends and supporters of Mission:180!
December 15th marked the 1st anniversary of our work in Kenya! It’s hard to believe in many ways that we have now lived in Kenya, and out of Canada for one full year! In many ways it has flown by, while in other ways the time can seem to drag on! (Anything to with bureaucracy, visa’s, resident permits etc, this all drags on).
It has been an incredible 12 months.  We have accomplished much, and we now know better than ever there is so much to accomplish! The needs in Kenya, as with most of Africa, are huge!  A recent statistic tells us that there are 180 new cases of HIV EVERY DAY in Kenya.  If you are interested in the math, that’s 65,700 per year! We came here to help widows and orphans, and the need for help will not be going away anytime soon!
Since our arrival, we have been able to buy medicine and pay for medical treatment for children, we have fed hundreds of people on a number of occasions, we have helped people relocate out slum living into safer neighborhoods and better homes, we have travelled all over Kenya doing relief work, and we have been very busy going through the required motions necessary to establish ourselves and Mission:180 in Kenya.  What a year!
A very Needy Masai Family, with their Christmas Hamper in
front of their traditional home.  
 
Mission:180’s Christmas Programs:
Most recently we have seen the successful launch of two programs that will continue on for years to come.  We have successfully launched a program to help children receive sponsorship for school fees for a full year.  This year, 5 recipients and their families do not have to worry about where the next terms school fees will come from.  We have also launched our Christmas Hamper program.  These programs help Mission:180 accomplish several different things.
Brian and Sharon, they live in a refugee camp,
they are orphans being raised by their grandfather!

  1.    It helps connect you, our supporters in Canada to the important work we are doing, by affording you the opportunity to be directly connected to a specific need and project.
  2.  It feeds needy, hungry Kenyan’s for 6-8 weeks, bringing them not only much needed physical sustenance, but also the hope and encouragement that somewhere there are people who know about them and their situation, and who care enough to give generously to help them!  This Christmas we have delivered over 7,000 pounds of staple foods to 72 very needy families, thanks to the generosity and kindness of Canadians like you!
  3. It ensures that children will be educated and taken care of for their school year!

This precious lady, unable to have children of her own
was abandoned by her husband.  She has adopted these
5 special children and is doing her best to raise them
and provide for them. 


Brian and Sharon, pictured above, really grabbed my heart! They have been orphaned by AIDS, and now their grandfather is doing his best to raise them! He can barely provide a few meals a week for them.  They desperately needed the food we brought them. I gave each one a huge hug, and they were very light! Picking them up was very easy, putting them down is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  I just wanted to take them home! It's these children, and the hundreds of thousands like them in Kenya we came to help! 
Thank-you so much and this Christmas may you know more than ever, that it is far better to give than to receive!
We want to say once again, thanks so much for your encouragement, your prayers, and your financial support! Without those three things, from people like you back home in Canada, we could not do what we do here for the neediest of the needy in Kenya! If you would like to make a contribution, please feel free to click the donate button on this page, and follow the simple steps to help make an IMPACT, one life at a time! All donations are receipted for income tax purposes!
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Jason, Jennifer and Joshua Sheppard

Monday, 7 November 2011

Mission:180 Presents "Give the gift of a Christmas Hamper"


Mission:180 presents "Give the gift of a Christmas hamper".  Due to the overwhelming response to the sponsored children program (who are all now fully sponsored) we have decided to give you another option to give back this Christmas.  For $60 CDN we can purchase enough staple food to feed a family of four for about 6 weeks.  There are many extremely needy families that we are connected to.  A Christmas hamper is not only a gift of food, it's a gift of HOPE!  It's a gift that says someone cares about us. 

If you would like to be a part of this program and purchase a Christmas hamper as a gift from yourself or on behalf of someone else please email me at jennifer@mission180.ca


Each hamper will contain the following:

2 - 1KG packages of Red Kidney Beans
1 - 1KG package Green Grams (like a bean)
2 - 2KG packages of Sugar
1 - 700 gram package of Spaghetti noodles
1 - 10KG bag of Maize Meal used to make Ugali
1 - 5KG bag of Rice
6 - 1L Ultra Treat Heated Long Life Milk (does not need to be refrigerated)
2 - 2KG bags of Chapati Flour
2 - 1KG bags of Ujimix Sour Porridge
1 - jar of Royco Mchuzi Mix Spicy Beef
1 - 1KG package of salt
1 - 4KG tub of cooking fat
1 - jar of Margarine
1 - 500gram bag of loose tea leaves
15 - steel wool for cleaning
1 - bar of antibacterial soap
1 - bar of laundry/dish soap

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Mission:180 Presents "Give the gift of education this Christmas"


Mission:180 has selected some deserving children that need help with their school fees for the upcoming school year in January.  We are looking for individuals, families, work groups, school groups etc to help either fully sponsor or partially sponsor a child this Christmas.  You could also honor someone special in your life by giving them this gift that will improve the life of a child in Kenya.  When you fully or partially sponsor one of the children you will receive a special thank you message from that child along with a picture of the child and updates on how that child is doing over the course of the school year.  It is a great way to give back this Christmas season!  All donations towards the children’s school fees will have tax receipts issued at year end so it is a win, win situation.  Please consider helping someone less fortunate this Christmas.

*Please note that this is not a monthly sponsorship program but rather a one-time donation for Christmas* 

Bryce Mbulika
Bryce was born on March 26, 2008 and will be entering Nursery School at Guadalupe Academy in January 2012.   His favorite subject at school is Language and he excels at drawing and coloring.  Bryce loves to play soccer in his spare time but hide and seek is his favorite game.  Bryce says that blue is his favorite color.

Please note that Bryce’s school fees include lunch and tea 5 days a week.

The fees required for Bryce to attend Nursery School are $480.00 CDN.

We are looking for 8 people to sponsor Bryce at $60 each.

If you would like to help Bryce attend Nursery School in January please contact Jennifer at jennifer@mission180.ca


Jason Dangi
Jason was born on June 11, 1999 and will be attending Grade 7 at Marie Immaculate Education Complex in January.  His favorite subject at school is Social Studies which he also excels at.  Jason’s favorite sport to play is football (soccer to us Canadians) but he also loves to hang out with his friends in his spare time.  Jason’s favorite color is green.
Please note that Jason’s school fees include room and board as he is required to live in dorm starting in Grade 7.

The fees required for Jason to attend Grade 7 are $600.00 CDN.

We are looking for 8 people to sponsor Jason at $75 each.

If you would like to help Jason attend Grade 7 in January please contact Jennifer at jennifer@mission180.ca




Mildred Atieno
Mildred was born on December 12, 1996 and will be attending Grade 9 in March of 2012.  She is unsure which school she will qualify to attend in March until after she writes her Grade 8 nation exams in November.  Her favorite subjects at school are Social Studies and Christian Religious Education but she excels at Social Studies, Math and English.  Mildred loves to read novels in her spare time and her favorite sport is Volleyball.  Mildred’s favorite color is pink.  When Mildred grows up she would like to be a Lawyer and then a Judge.

The fees required for Mildred to attend Grade 9 are $700.00

We are looking for 7 people to sponsor Mildred at $100 each.

If you would like to help Mildred attend Grade 9 in March please contact Jennifer at jennifer@mission180.ca



Natasha Dangi
Natasha was born on October 3, 2003 and will be attending Grade 3 at Marie Immaculate Education Complex in January.  Her favorite subjects at school are English and Swahili but she excels at Mathematics.  Natasha loves to play with her skipping rope in her spare time but her favorite game is hide and seek.  Natasha’s favorite color is pink.

The fees required for Natasha to attend Grade 3 are $300.00 CDN.

We are looking for 6 people to sponsor Natasha at $50 each.

If you would like to help Natasha attend Grade 3 in January please contact Jennifer at jennifer@mission180.ca


Prudence Kagonya
Prudence was born on September 9, 2000 and will be entering Grade 6 at Excel Academy in Nairobi in January 2012.  Her favorite subject at school is Social Studies but she excels in Mathematics.  Prudence enjoys participating in athletics specifically with racing but in her spare time she really enjoys playing with her skipping rope.  Prudence’s favorite color is pink.

Please note that Prudence’s school fees include lunch and tea 5 days a week.

The fees required for Prudence to attend Grade 6 are $600.00 CDN.

We are looking for 10 people to sponsor Prudence at $60 each.

If you would like to help Prudence attend Grade 6 in January please contact Jennifer at jennifer@mission180.ca





Monday, 3 October 2011

The Famine In Kenya - Garissa County


The Refugee Camp







The Somali Refugee Camp









Many people back in Canada have asked us at Mission:180 how the famine is impacting us, what we have seen of it, are we involved in helping fight it etc.  In this post I want to take some time to answer those questions, while sharing with you my heartfelt observations and emotions from a recent trip I took to an area of Kenya that is being affected by the famine.
First here are some facts from the World Food Program:


  • Kenya is experiencing one of the worst droughts in recent years.
  • The number of severely malnourished children admitted to hospital has increased by 78 percent this year compared to last year. Malnutrition rates among children below the age of five years have risen dramatically with reports of up to 37 percent in some northern districts -- more than double the emergency threshold of 15 percent. 
  • Up to 3.5 million people are affected by the drought and their plight has been worsened by high food prices resulting from both local and global factors. 
  • Kenya currently has about 447,000 refugees 
  • Dadaab refugee camp in north-eastern Kenya continues to receive large influxes of refugees mainly from Somalia with about 30,000 new arrivals in June alone.
  • Kenya is a low-income food-deficit country with a GDP per capita of about US$759 (2009 World Bank) and a Gross National Income (GNI) of USD 1628 (2010 UNDP). The 2010 UNDP Human Development Report ranked Kenya among the “low human development” countries of the world, placing it 128th out of 169countries. 


Anxiously waiting his turn!


Bearing those facts in mind, I travelled North from Nairobi about 6 hours to Garissa county, to a little Somali village called Sombo.  On the drive from Nairobi, the further north we got, the drier and dustier it became.  Soon we started to see dead animals, some were wild and some were livestock, sun bleached bones with tatters of skin and fur attached.  These animals, like their owners, are dependant on water to drink, and dependant on the food water helps to grow.  You know times are tough when the camels are dropping dead! The live animals all look to be in various stages of severe illness and starvation. 


Desperately digging in a dried river bed for water.
As we drove we crossed a number of bridges.  These were fairly long bridges, and the rivers they span are wide.  Now, they just help us cross completely dry riverbeds.  They look like highways of sand! Sometimes we see people digging with whatever tools they can find, going as deep as they can in the middle of what used to be the rivers, desperately searching for water.  If and when they find some precious water, there is always a long line-up of people waiting with their "jerry cans", the ubiquitous yellow containers that used to contain vegetable oil for cooking.  If water is found, it is brackish, muddy, and unsafe unless boiled.


We reach a point close to the small town of Garissa, and we branch right.  Now we are off roading on an old camel trail.  Time to put the Toyota Hilux Surf we drive into 4 wheel drive! We go about 35 km's over some rough terrain, driving through a number of dried out river beds.  Its HOT now!  We left Nairobi this morning and it was 18 degrees celsius.  Now, this afternoon, near Sombo village, it's 38 degrees celsius! Its a very dry and dusty heat, no humidity to speak of.  
This was once a life giving river.
video
A traditional celebration dance! 


From Sombo we travel another 10 KM to a Somali refugee camp.  Things are beyond desperate here.  There is no food, and there is no water.  The shrinking Tana River is close by, but it comes with some real challenges.  Recently a child was snatched by a crocodile, never to be seen again.  The river is dangerous, and the water is not clean.  We have arrived with food.  There is a traditional tea ceremony with the village elders, then a time of dancing and "singing".  They are very happy to see us!! The ladies are singing a song, when translated it says, "we were never educated, we want our children to learn, let the wazungu (white people) come".
At this point I am really glad I am sweating so much, because it masks the tears streaming down my cheeks.  These people are living in absolute squalor, with no resources to speak of. They are traditionally nomadic, and they have travelled a long long way hoping for something better.  They have found more hunger, more thirst! Like us, they want to provide for their children, they want to live freely, worship freely, they want to make a life for themselves.  They live in a state of constant concern about their next meal, will they be able to find a place to settle down, will they finally feel safe and "at home".  They have nothing, no place to call home, no land to plant crops or to build a permanent dwelling, to feel like they have a place. How long can people live like this? 
Distributing the relief packages to each family.
A beautiful family!
 Today each family receives enough food for 4 weeks.  It is amazing to be a part of helping keep people alive.  It is humbling to see their gratitude.  Its heartbreaking to not be able to do more.  


Its  really overwhelming to see it, hear the sounds, to hold the emaciated little ones.  I feel so helpless there, so useless.  I remember the purpose of Mission:180, to impact one life at a time.  It seems hollow this day.  But every life does matter.  Every cup of water given matters.  Every morsel of food makes a difference.   Every day we can keep someone going means hope.
Hope shines through!
A very special little girl!






































We at Mission:180 are involved in a feeding program in a slum in Nairobi, we regularly visit an "Internally Displaced Peoples Camp" near Nairobi, bringing them the word of God and food, and we routinely participate in helping with medical and educational needs here in Nairobi.  Now, we have also been to the places being hit hardest by this famine, the worst on record in 60 years!  Are we seeing the impact of the famine, YES! We see it in Nairobi, with rising food and fuel costs, and with people asking us to help their loved ones in famine stricken areas. We see it in the slums of Nairobi, and we have seen it up close and personal in places like Sombo Village.
Are we doing something to help fight it? With YOUR help, yes!    We are doing the best we can with what resources we are given to work with.  


We maintain our conviction that every life matters, and we must make an impact, one life at a time.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Kibera and The Mt. Kilimonbogo IDP Camp

Its been a few weeks since our last post. I wanted to take some time to let my thoughts and emotions settle on a couple of things before I blogged about them here in this forum.  



Walking through Kibera. There is so much a picture
cannot tell you. 
Kibera.           
Known as the largest and most condensed slum in the world, it is located here in the heart of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya.  We have been there many times, and we usually make a practice of taking our guests there if they want to go and see this place.  We have done some ministry in Kibera, and we have even been able to rescue one family from this place. 
The railroad that runs through Kibera.
You smell Kibera before you see it.  There is very little access to bathrooms, and certainly not much if any running water available.  The people we helped to leave Kibera permanently shared with us that in the "neighborhood" they lived in they shared a "bathroom" with 900 other slum dwellers.  Yes, you read that correctly, one "bathroom", (actually an open pit latrine with no actual seat, it's a squatter) for 900 people.  So, when I say you smell Kibera before you see it, I am referring to the raw open running sewage and bags of human waste tossed here and there randomly, with other decaying trash etc.
The trash and homes are intermingled.
You smell Kibera before you see it.
We recently took our young guest Keanu to Kibera.  A good friend who used to live there was taking us around and giving us the lay of the land.  He told me a story I have not stopped thinking about since. He told me that every day of the nine years he lived there, at least one baby was found dead beside the filthy river that runs through Kibera or on the railway tracks that pass through.  He told me on many occasions he stumbled upon one of these little lifeless ones, usually discarded off in a plastic bag. He also told me that there are many "quack" doctors performing "abortions" in Kibera.  Usually this consists of some kind of "traditional medicine" a potion of sorts that when consumed, in his words, "forces the baby out". 
Needless to say, this information was dumbfounding to say the least.  The emotions I feel about this are strong.  Not the least of these is anger.  However, living here has given me a deeper understanding of how desperate people can be in the face of extreme need.  This sense of desperation and despair has a profound impact on how we perceive our world. The level of poverty, the sense of hopelessness, drives so many of these young ladies to prostitution, and then the unplanned pregnancies deepens the sense of helplessness.  They cannot sustain themselves, how can they care for a little one.  This is how these "abortions" come about. 

Preaching at the IDP Camp
IDP (Internally Displaced People)
When you speak of Internally displaced people, it's a reference to people who have been torn out of their homes, their land and communities, because of war, violence, natural disaster etc.
Here in Kenya, a large number of people were displaced after the 2007 federal election.  Both candidates fiercely contested the results, and extreme violence broke out.  Thousands of people were killed, as neighbor turned on neighbor, and tribe fought against tribe.  There is a whole lot more to the story, but the end result is now, almost 4 years later, thousands of people remain refugees in their own country.  The government has abandoned them, and many of the Non-Governmental Organizations have reduced or even discontinued aid as well.
This is what a typical "house" looks like at this IDP. 
Near Nairobi, about an hours drive away, is an IDP camp.  It's near the town of Ruai, in the shadow of Mt. Kilimonbogo. We have been visiting there and delivering maize meal for the people.  (Maize is white corn, when dried and ground, it is used to make the staple food of most Kenyans, called Ugali.) We spend time visiting, I am asked to share a message from God's Word, and we distribute the food we have brought them. 
The last time we were there, I was really moved by the sense of despair, hopelessness and really the sense from the people that they are in limbo, paralyzed by there situation if you will.  The government of Kenya has promised to relocate them, and help them in the mean time.  Instead, they have been abandoned.  They feel like they can't settle in where they are, and they have no home to go back to.  Their homesteads have been stolen, their homes either occupied by someone else, or burned to the ground with all of their earthly belongings.  Their crops were destroyed or stolen and their livestock was taken from them. The atrocities that occurred in their communities are still raw in their hearts and minds.  The look in their eyes when they speak of the things they saw and experienced first hand is one of grief mixed with real fear and terror.   They cannot go back to the places they fled from.

Somehow, God has called us to minister to these people.  To say I feel overwhelmed is an understatement.  What can I offer them?  What comfort can I bring them? These are the moments as a minister of the Gospel when you realize how utterly dependant you are on the Spirit Of The Living God to give you some word, some scripture or something to offer them. 
I preached the Word to them.  After my brief message we were handing out the food we had brought for them, and I felt COMPELLED to mix among the crowd, ask the names of the little ones, and pray for each child.  I was moved by the emotional response of these desperate parents.  When it comes to their children they are no different than us. They want to provide for their kids, they want the best for their children.  They are completely without resources. These precious people were so moved that we would ask the names of their children, and pray for them by name. 
Jen and I handing out the maize.  The people come with
anything they can find to carry the food they will receive.

50 kg's of Maize.  Heavier than it looks.      

My emotions were mixed.  What a privilege to minister to them but I felt some of their despair, and it was so, so heavy.  They smiled as they prayed with me in REAL FAITH for their children, and they thanked me with tears in their eyes.  I left changed, encouraged by their faith, and burdened with their need.

The line up for Maize and rice.  

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Guest Post: Liquid Assets, By Shelly Klassen

Shelly Klassen, along with her husband Kim, and several other friends visited us in Nairobi in April of 2011. Below are some of her observations and a little bit about how the trip here has IMPACTED her life, her thinking and her perception since being here in Kenya.

Liquid Assets
By Shelley Klassen
 
      It has been very hot and muggy these last few days in Saskatoon. I don't do hot and muggy very well so last night my husband "mopped" me up off the floor and took me out for ice-cream to revive me. Dear man...such sacrifice!
 
      Oddly, whenever I indulge in anything ice-cream related I tend to get thirsty so I requested a water as well. It came in a large cup, very cold, very refreshing.
 
      We had some shopping to do so,after finishing my ice-cream, I took a couple swallows and stood to leave. As I reached down to pick up my purse my eyes fell upon that cup of water...just sitting there...mostly full...and thats when it hit me. How much is that cup of water worth? It didn't cost me anything and I won't miss it when I leave. Some young teen-ager, working for a living, will come along, pick it up and dump the water down the drain. No big deal...right?
 
       Thats what I would have thought five months ago...before my eyes were opened...before Africa.
 
       What I saw last night when I looked at that cup of water were the faces of the many children in the slums of Nairobi.Faces of children who are hungry and thirsty every day, children whose parents are forced to give them gutter water filled with filth and human feces because there is no money to purchase clean, healthy water.What is a cup of water worth? To these children, more than can be imagined.
 
       Since our missions trip to Kenya with Mission:180 I have changed in many ways.I used to put my leftover pasta in the fridge where it would sit until it became a solid, gelatinous mass which I would then toss into the trash. Now I cannot justify the waste, not when I have seen the faces of hunger up close and personal. My husband jokes that I am trying to starve him because the fridge is much emptier than it used to be. In reality, I am simply using up what I have before making something new.I now compost what is left over.
 
       While watering my plants the other day it struck me, as with the glass of water, how I was wasting this clean water that would be deemed so precious in Kenya. We now have a rain barrel and I water with the accumulated rainwater instead.
 
       These simple changes may seem silly to those of you reading this, after all, they aren't going to make much difference in Africa. True enough, but they make a difference to me.
 
        You see, when I make the choice to not waste my water and food I am, in my own way, standing with the beautiful Kenyan people that I met in Africa. I am telling them that I have seen the great needs in their country and I will not squander away that which is so precious and lifegiving to them...just because I can. I will value the many blessings that are mine everyday ...and thank God for each one of  them.
 
          The upside to these new "frugal" changes that I have made? The little bit of money that I save I can now send to Kenya and a little child there will not be hungry or thirsty...at LEAST for a day or two.
 
           You CAN"T put a pricetag on that.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Nairobi Children's Home

Keanu and a little friend who sure enjoyed the attention!
John and Junior, peak-a-boo just never gets old, no matter
what continent you are on! 

Jennifer and Joshua with a little guy named Joseph.


Today was a tough day.  We spent the morning at NAIROBI CHILDRENS HOME.  This is the first time we have gone to volunteer at a state run home for children.  This place is the first stop for many children after being found by the police or some concerned person.  They are found abandoned; sometimes they are dropped off and abandoned by their parents or in most cases their mothers.  They are brought here while some kind of long term plan is developed for them.  Family who could take them are sought after, rehabilitation of neglectful or substance abusing parents is attempted, or they are shipped off to a private children’s home, where if they are lucky, the standard of care will be much better.
I held one little baby today whose desperate mother dropped her off at her first day of pre-school, and then never returned.  The pre-school brought her to Nairobi Children’s home and now she is alone because mom is nowhere to be found.
Most of the children at this home are between the ages of 0-6 years, with some exceptions if there are older siblings.  Today, the chalk board in the office entrance says there are 44 residents, but just the last few days there have been as many as 55.
Jacqueline holding Kristen and Diego
Let me tell you the story of Diego, Kristen, and Junior.  Diego and Kristen are twins, and Junior is their older brother.  Three weeks ago, their mother committed suicide.  Their father, her husband, is a chronic alcoholic, and has not provided for the family for some time.  The children were severely malnourished, there was little hope.  Here in Kenya, food prices for even the most basic staples have skyrocketed, and even the most basic meal is insurmountable for so many.  Out of a sense of despair that I sure few of us will ever know, their mom ended her own life.  When their father discovered this, he simply locked the children in the house and left them to die.  Someone found them, and they have ended up at Nairobi Children’s Home for the last three weeks.  When we met them today, their story and their condition reduced me to tears.  It was so difficult.  I was holding Kristen, and when I tried to put her down she wept inconsolably.  The level of fear and neglect we encountered there among these children is too much for words. 
Kristen and I.  She snuggled right in!
When we arrived they gave us the customary tour.  Then, as soon as we met the kids, they started to cling to us, and they did not want to let go.  It was adorable and heartbreaking at the same time.  There was such a sense of desperation.  They wanted affection; they wanted to be held, to be loved, to feel safe.  They wanted and need all the same things kids everywhere want.   It was tough to deal with the kids who so desperately wanted affection, but it was even more difficult to cope with the few who recoiled in fear, absolutely terrified.  Some adult they trusted has done something to steal their sense of safety, their trust, and it was heartbreaking to see this, to experience this.  Our hearts ache for these ones especially. 
As I said before, these children more often than not are settled into private care homes and orphanages.  This is what brought Mission:180 to Kenya to begin with.  Our purpose here is to minister the whole love of God to widows and orphans.  As soon as we can open our doors, and be an operational government approved home, the sooner we can make an impact on the number of children who need the love and stability we aim to provide.   
We are now getting near the point in our time here when we can start to look for land.  We are looking for at least 5 acres, as we feel it’s essential to have lots of space to grow, as well as to produce a large Shamba, (garden), so we can have a sustainable source of produce for the residents of the homes, and possibly a place to graze goats and a few cattle.    This land will cost anywhere between $50,000-$100,000 Canadian dollars.   We know that it is God who has brought us here, for this purpose.  So we know that He will provide the necessary funds for this big undertaking.  

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Missionary Visa's, Ethiopia etc.

Josh in the Empress' seat at Holy Trinity Church
Jacqueline, Heather, Karalee and Josh trying out the pulpit in Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Addis 


A little Sheppard boy!

Standing on the rim of Mt.Wenchi, an old Volcano in Ethiopia


A couple of weeks ago we  took a week long trip to Ethiopia, we had a very good reason to leave Kenya, but no real reason to go to Ethiopia. Allow me to explain this in a little more detail.  When we arrived in Nairobi six months ago we were given a 3 month tourist visa.  When that first three months was over, we were permitted to renew for another 3 months from within Kenya.  The immigration laws here in Kenya state that if you are still on a tourist visa after 6 months, you must leave Kenya and return to start over again.  You not only have to leave Kenya, you also have to leave what is known as the “East Africa Community”.  The EAC is comprised of the countries of Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.  You may not travel to any of these countries for the purpose of renewing your visa.  So, that explains how we ended up in Ethiopia. We simply went to the next closest place with the best available airfare at the time we needed to make a decision.  
So, we have applied for our resident alien status here in Kenya.  Our application is for what is known as an “E” class permit, A.K.A. a missionary permit.  Both Jennifer and I have been approved, and we will soon have the paperwork in our hands!!!  Josh is approved by default when we are.  Like everything else in Kenya, this is a slow process.  but once we have been given the paperwork we will be residents of Kenya for 3 years.  This is great news as it gives us the green light to move forward with the bigger plans and goals of Mission:180.  We have several possible locations and parcels of land on our radar right now for the childrens homes we are here to build.  This means we are going to have to find some $$$ for the purchase of land.  We are not worried about this in the least,  as I always say, “God’s will, God’s bill”.
Back to Ethiopia, it was a very interesting place to visit, the city of Addis is larger than Nairobi, and even higher in elevation.  Ironically, the traffic is way better in Addis, even though there are more people.  The reason for that is that the government of Ethiopia has imposed a 240% duty on all vehicles imported into the country, and being that no vehicles are produced in Ethiopia, they all have to be imported and the cost of purchasing a vehicle is rather restrictive, even prohibitive to most people in the country.   The taxi cabs are hilarious, they are these 30 year old Lada’s, and Datsun’s, and some Toyota’s.  We stayed in a guest house that was on a fairly steep hill, and every time we got picked up by a taxi, we had to walk to the top of the hill, because the cars could not climb the hill with us in them.  Please reserve comments regarding weight!  LOL.
Ethiopia is steeped in history, and in fact, as I write this, I realize this is the first country I have visited that is mentioned in the Bible, both the old and new testaments in fact.  This is a fact that all Ethiopians are very proud of and it is deeply ingrained in their culture.  The Ethiopian Orthodox Church actually teaches that they are the keepers of the original Ark Of The Covenant, and they claim to have it now.  Every single Ethiopian Orthodox Church has an inner sanctuary, a “Holy of Hollies”, and in each of these is a replica of the Ark.  It was very interesting to learn about these aspects of their culture, and it is fascinating that so much of their national identity and even their laws and government are dictated by their religion.  What is not so cool is that this church routinely persecutes any other “christian church”, as false.  By persecutes, I mean they go so far as to kill people claiming to be Christian but not part of their church. 
Then there is the Muslim community, they routinely persecute everyone who is not Muslim.  So Ethiopia is a very religious country, and much of its history and national pride is wrapped up in religion.
Everybody raves about Ethiopian food, and quite frankly I am confused by this.  The staple food, a bread made with a kind of wheat called teft, (not sure how that is spelled), and fermented with yeast.  I thought it was gross.  Sorry to all my friends who are fans of this food....but I just don’t get it. 
While we were there, most of us got quite stomach sick, even to the point of being bedridden in serious pain.  We are pretty sure it was something we ate.  However, this is expected when traveling in the developing world.  Ces La Vie.  
On a bright note, one thing we loved about Ethiopia are some new friendships we made.  We were able to connect with some fellow missionaries from Canada.  J & T, you were very gracious hosts, and very  helpful to us in a time of need.  We are so grateful, and we all enjoyed meeting you and getting to know you.  It was also great to visit with your folks.  I took away some great advice from some wonderful peers.  I also had one of the top 5 cups of coffee I have ever had.  I am a coffee fanatic, and believe me when I say that is a big compliment.  It was also great to learn how to roast green coffee beans in a frying pan.  Thanks for the lesson.  I am a better coffee drinker for it.  
So, from my perspective, Ethiopia was an interesting place to visit, and I would welcome a visit with our new friends from Ethiopia any time.  

Thursday, 2 June 2011

A Newsletter From Kenya

Jen and one of he little girls from
 the school i n the Mathare Slum.
Typical "housing" at the IDP Camp.
They have been abandoned by their
government.
Josh and a Maasai friend. He is 100 yrs old!

Aaron and his bike

On the Equator close to Mt. Kenya
Preaching to the good people
at the IDP Camp  

Its all about the kids!
Dear friends and supporters of Mission:180 Ministries,

Here, finally, is a long overdue report from our work here in Kenya.  As you know, Jennifer, Joshua and I left Saskatoon on December 13th, 2010 to relocate to Nairobi.  We are here in East Africa at God's leading.  I am excited to fill you in on some of the things that God is doing through Mission:180 in this newsletter.

We arrived safe and sound in Kenya on December 15th, 2010.  All of our bags arrived with us. When I say all, I mean all 18 50-60 pound bags.  When moving your life to another continent, by air, you have to be very selective in what you pack, what you put in storage, and what you give away.  We got things down to 18 bags!  They all arrived with us, and nothing was broken or damaged in any way! This is no small miracle!

Since arriving, we have been quite busy settling in, learning the ropes, and pursuing God's direction for the next steps!  God is faithful, and He continues to confirm His calling on the Sheppard family to be here doing His work.   

We are here for the express purpose of helping the people of Kenya, quite specifically the most vulnerable: the children, the widows, and the orphans.   There is no shortage of need.  We were recently invited by our good friend Lucy to minister at an IDP (Internally Displaced People) camp as a part of our ministry at a children’s home and school she runs just outside of Nairobi.  Lucy is a wonderful Kenyan lady with a passion to help her people.   We were sharing our vision and passion with her about developing a similar ministry.  She was so excited, and offered her assistance with some of the red tape we will be encountering along the way.  She was just so excited that we would be helping widows and orphans, as the need is so overwhelming.

I am reminded of some of the key passages of scripture that confirm our calling to be here doing this, and that help us stay focused and on task. 

James 1:27, " Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
Proverbs 19:17 "He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done."

I want to take some time to fill you in on some of our activities since we arrived.  It’s been a whirlwind of learning and adjusting while getting on with life in a new culture! Here is an abbreviated list of some of our ministry activities:

·         We are currently hosting four students from Canada as they work alongside us learning about life in a foreign culture and the complexities of planting a new work on the mission field.

·         We hosted the student’s parents for the month of April and were able to introduce them to Kenya and our work in it.  From their reports, their lives are permanently impacted.

·         We have been instrumental in paying for life saving medical care for several precious little tiny Kenyans.

·         We have helped a growing family move out of Kibera (the worlds largest and most condensed slum), and into safe housing that fits their family.

·         We have helped a young man here start on the path to a new career. (see his story below)

·         We have started a tour/transportation business (Crossroads Travel Company) that employs several Kenyan people.  This is something that God laid on our hearts to do with our own personal funds.  The plan is to have the business grow and pour income from it into the development and long term costs of running the childrens homes. Eventually the business will get to that point.  For now it is employing Kenyan people and contributing to the economy of this developing country.

·         Jason taught the Evangelism course at Pan Africa Christian University, for the Youth Disciplship Program.

·         Numerous speaking engagements

·         Participating in feeding programs in slums here in Nairobi, both to be of help as well as to learn as we grow!

·         Jason has been able to continue providing pastoral care as we walk through some grief counseling with some of our Kenyan friends who have lost loved ones since we have been here.

·         Joshua is attending Rosslyn Academy, where he did very well.  He has passed grade 4 and is excited to head into grade 5 in August!


In this first 12-18 months, we expected to have to spend some time adjusting to the huge cultural differences from Canada to Kenya, and we were right!  The adjusting is constant.  The speed of things is slower. I have mentioned to some friends recently that I usually get more done in one morning before 10 in Canada than I can accomplish in one week in Kenya.  It’s tough on most days to get things off of the "to do" list!  There is a lot of hurry up and wait.  Below are some of the biggest adjustments and cultural differences: 

·         Government and bureaucracy, making everything confusing and slow. They love paper and meetings over here, and many of you know how much Jason loves this! NOT

·         Driving.....what rules? Challenging, draining, scary, etc, etc. (Jason fits right in)

·         Law enforcement? (the police subsidize their income with "gifts" from people they pull over). They deal with suspected criminals in a different fashion than at home in Canada.

·         Shopping for food and household items.  This is very different but a fun adventure as we learn the techniques for correct bartering, etc.  Lots of open air markets etc.

·         Communication with Kenyans: Most speak English.  It can be hard to process some accents, but for the most part we get by. We Canadians tend to be more direct in our communication, while here, arriving at your point requires a more round-a-bout approach.  This is tough for someone like Jason, as he doesn't really beat around the bush.

·         Communication with Canada.  This is the developing world, and things are not as "put together" as they are in Canada.  The internet regularly goes down.  The electricity in general goes out often, and sometimes for hours on end.  We have had to replace everything in the freezer and fridge at least once since arriving, as a result of the lost power. So the lack of power makes communication with home tough sometimes.

·         We miss people and some of the aspects of life in Canada.  We miss our friends and families, sharing in big events and holidays, missing milestones in people’s lives, etc.  Some days this is overwhelming!

We have been busy setting up our own home as of late, as we moved out of the home we were subletting, and have rented our own space.  It’s nice to have a place to call home. Somewhere we have made cozy for us at the end of a long and frustrating day.  We have plenty of those days.  It’s also nice to have a place to host and entertain guests, both fellow missionaries and our dear friends from Kenya.

We have always maintained that our focus is on "Impacting One Life At  A Time", and we have been seeking to do just that as we work on the big picture, long-term stuff.  We prayerfully seek for the ones that God would have us help and minister to.  While there are several, let me introduce you to one.

Aaron:

Aaron is a 24-year-old young man who is full of hopes and dreams of bettering himself, his family, and his country.  We first met Aaron when he was serving as the night watchman in the compound we used to live in.  This can be a dangerous job, and certainly one that does not pay fairly.  Workers are often exploited here, and Aaron sure was.  He was working 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for about a $1.25 CDN per day.  There was no opportunity for him to get an education. He came to Nairobi from his rural home in Western Kenya, hoping for more opportunity.   He hit a brick wall.  As we got to know him, it became clear that this young man is a hard worker, willing to learn and yearning to do more with his life.  He was already a believer in Christ, however he is in need of some teaching as he grows in his faith.  I asked Aaron one day what he always dreamed of being when he was a little boy.  He lit up as he explained that he always wanted to be a mechanic.  Now, we have been blessed with a wonderful, honest mechanic named Henry.  Henry is a fellow believer, and as far as mechanics go, he blows the competition out of the water with his customer service.  I decided to ask Henry if he would consider an apprentice. Turns out he needed one.  So, through the giving of our supporters back in Canada, we have been able to start Aaron on the road to having a career. He is now working full time as an apprentice with Henry.  We are subsidizing the training fees, we were able to get him his work boots, coveralls, learning materials etc.  We are able to sponsor his living expenses until he starts earning an income from his newfound career.  We purchased a mountain bike so Aaron could get back and forth to work.  He is so grateful, and he is working so hard to earn his way.  The reports from Henry about his progress are excellent.  On top of that, we have been able to get Aaron plugged into a discipleship group at the church we attend, and we have set up a mentoring relationship with a friend we know well from the church. 

As we continue to move forward with the ministry here in Kenya, can we ask you to pray for the following things:
·         Safety on the road - both as we travel within and out of Nairobi, driving is challenging and dangerous.

·         Safety from crime - this is a huge city, (4,000,000 ppl) and crime is a major issue.  Please pray that God keeps us safe from any theft or personal attack.

·         God's direction as we move towards finding and purchasing land.  It has to be God's direction and timing, and we want to be in step with His Spirit in this.

·         Wisdom as we minister God's word to the people of Kenya that He brings into our lives and the opportunities that He provides.

·         Wisdom as we consider the many many requests we get for help.

·         Funds.  We have not met our operating budget as of yet.  We are also approaching the season of ministry where we will need funds to purchase land and start building the children’s homes, etc.

·         Spiritual, emotional, physical health for us as we minister in a new and foreign culture. 

·         Joshua.  Pray for him as he tackles a much more difficult curriculum at school than he was used to at home.  It’s quite demanding.  Also pray for him as he continues to adjust to life in a foreign culture.

We miss you all, and we are so appreciative of your support.  Both financial and prayer support is essential for the continued success of Mission:180 as we strive to accomplish what God has for us to do in Kenya.

Please note that we have started a blog.  It can be found at www.m180.blogspot.com.  We will be putting regular updates and pictures there.  We will post this newsletter there as well as on our website at www.mission180.ca. Follow us on the blog for at least weekly tidbits of news and our reflections on life and ministry in Kenya.


Sincerely,
Jason, Jennifer, and Joshua Sheppard