Another Blessed Day in Kenya

It’s raining in Kakamega! People in Seattle don’t know the meaning of the word “rain”. For the last few hours the rain has been so loud that you can’t even carry on a conversation. This is the first rain that Kakamega has seen for several months, so there is celebration in town. First of all the rain means an end to the choking dust that flies up from everywhere. Second of all, the fields have been ready for planting for a couple of weeks and everyone has been waiting for this rain in order to plant their seed. I love the rain and the constant clapping of the thunder and lighting that accompany it. It’s thoroughly refreshing to me.

As we walked into church this morning Pastor Daniel Nandi was sharing the Sunday School message; not your usual teaching on “Daniel in the Lions Den”! He was teaching on the subject of AIDS in Kenya. He made a powerful case for abstinence before marriage and fidelity in marriage. Carrie Abbott would have been so pleased! He proclaimed that it is the job of the church to shape the sexual morals of the church, because, here in Kenya, it is truly and life and death matter. He spoke about the duty of parents to teach their children God’s way in their sex lives or else they will learn it from the devil in the world. “We are living in a world where people have gone insane over sex” he said, “and they have no knowledge of the consequences, until they are dying from he effects of their choices. You just can’t imagine how rare it is to hear this kind of a message brought in the churches of Kenya. I was moved and blessed to see a leadership that cares enough about their people to tell the truth in such a forthright and Christ-like manner.

These days we are blessed to have a relationship with a number of great churches all around Kenya, but Kakamegatown Church is our home! This is where it all began! The foundations were laid here for all that Worldcomp is doing in Kenya and I couldn’t appreciate these people more. Thank you Lord!

Following the service Valerie had a great meeting with the Olive Tree Microfinance Board. This was our original microfinance project in Kenya and they have continued to be pioneers in this area. They have continually asked the Lord to give them an approach to microfinance that is perfect for the Kenyan culture. Last year they took a hiatus and started all over with a new plan based on “Small Groups”. In the past we made microfinance loans to individuals. Those individuals meant well, but many of them failed to pay their loans back to the revolving fund so money could be loaned out to another person. In the new system, each person in our microfinance program must belong to a “microfinance group”. We no longer make loans to individuals; we make them to the group! And the group decides who is ready to get the loan. It is now the responsibility of the group to repay the loan if a member of the group defaults. With this in view, the group really makes sure that the recipient of a loan understand how the system works and that they are well prepared to start their business. The group also gives their fellow group members the encouragement and support they need to be successful in their business. Let me tell you this approach has transformed the process. The Kenyan culture and family structure is entirely based on community. When there is a need in a family or in a village everyone pitches in to solve the problem. They do so much better when they are not left to carry the burdens of life alone. We could learn a lesson from that, couldn’t we?

Valerie and I are a bit exhausted. Partly from the events of the day and partly from the fact that we are still recovering from our “stomach issues”. We are mindful of our need for rest because we are scheduled on Tuesday to make the long and tiring 24 hour trip back to Indianapolis to officiate at Valerie’s father’s funeral. I’ll only be there for 6 days and then turn around and come back. Val will stay for two weeks in order to help the family deal with her father’s estate. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. I also want to thank those of you who have pledged extra support for the months of February and March. The expenses are fairly high as we live and travel all over Kenya. We are blessed and humbled by your trust and support.

God bless! It’s time to rest

Richard and Valerie