Wednesday, March 1, 2017

$3.10 Poverty Challenge: Day 1

Day 1 of the $3.10 Poverty Challenge. This morning I fed myself with the Word about Potiphar’s wife. I noticed a parallel between Joseph’s temptation to eat from the tree of life (resist Potiphar’s wife) or to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (give into her temptations). I wondered how my response to sin would differ if I viewed my temptations in light of the two trees.

At 7:00 am sharp, I set out on foot to reach Malindi Hospital by 8:30 so that I could have time to cool down and stop sweating before my meetings. Indeed I reached there when the temperatures were already at 87 degrees and my bottle of water was dry. As I feared, I was a soaking wet mess. While the distance is between 4 and 5 kilometers, the heat is what caused the most suffering. The walk between here and there is pleasant enough; all of Malindi is a beautiful place to see on foot.

Rachel is the hospital chaplain and welcomed me to visit their little chapel.

This adorable little chapel sits on hospital grounds and was the place of our
lovely prayer time together.

As it turned out, I had plenty of time to cool down because the doctor I was to meet was delayed. Next on my list, I set out to find the hospital chaplain so that I could introduce myself and Surprised by Hope and to submit the required letter of request to pray with patients there. Where I ended up was truly a Divine appointment. Seated before Dr. Ajuk, THE big man on campus (and directly under an air conditioning unit), I found myself making another introduction. Excited about a possible partnership, Dr. Ajuk requested the chaplain, the head of the nurses, and the head of the doctors (the friend and the man I had originally come to see) to join him. Now instead of separate meetings about separate issues, I was before the four leaders of the main functions of the hospital being asked, “When will you come teach us?” Praise the Lord!

Determined not to kill myself the very first day of this challenge, I paid a boda to take me home where I did some end of the month reporting and other administrative work.

Remember that we agreed after electricity, water, and grooming needs, I would have $2.20 to spend.

Print letter         0.05
SMS messages  0.22  
Boda return       1.00

Dinner will consist of whatever I can find for 0.73 cents. I have a near rotten onion, green pepper, and tomato that will make a nice salad for 0.20 cents. I can add a handful of cashew nuts for 0.10 cents. I can add two slices of bread that will get moldy if I don’t eat it now for 0.10 cents. Maybe I can add a half scoop of peanut butter for another 0.10 cents. Honestly, sandwich, salad, and nuts is a pretty decent meal. I’ll have 0.23 cents leftover, not quite enough for one dose of Niquil. Maybe I’ll splurge on dinner tomorrow.

My challenge to you: Make your dinner using only $1.00. It's a great eye opener for kids and adults alike and helps us empathize with the poor in a way we never have before.
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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

$3.10 Poverty Challenge: Pre-Challenge

Tomorrow I begin the $3.10 Poverty Challenge, which means I will live on $3.10 each day for 10 days. This preceding week brought on a bit of anxiety over the choices I will have to make while I continue serving the Lord.

Water and Power: My landlady reports that for 67 cents each day I can have water and electricity. If I chose not to spend that 67 cents, I can walk several kilometers to the nearest bore hole and carry 20-liter jerry cans (which I do not have) back home as well as use candles for light, which doesn’t help with the fan or the computer. That decision was easy. Water and electricity for 67 cents, please. What remains each day is $2.43.

Daily Grooming: Brushing my teeth at least twice daily is not optional (5 cents), let’s say I already own a toothbrush. Washing my hair daily is not optional (3 cents) and I’ll use that soap to wash the rest of me as it slides its way down. Hair gel so I don’t look like a mop…skip it, I don’t have a mirror anyway and people here are happy to tell me I’m fat but they won’t comment on my windblown mop. Nail polish for the 10 days…gulp…skip it. Good thing I’m not a make-up girl. Oh, toilet tissue—while I could use the giant leaves outside my window, I’m not ready to give this one up just yet (5 cents). Yes, I did actual estimated calculations and no I didn’t include deodorant. Add to this bug spray and sun block, both are essential (5 cents each).

Here’s the total. After I scantily put myself together in the morning, I’ll have $2.20 cents to travel, eat, and make phone calls and, yes, I do have an appointment at 9:00 tomorrow morning at Malindi Hospital.

I think the most important lesson from these pre-challenge days is the reality that I can plan for being poor. I can chose what to do and how to do it, and what to postpone until after the 10 days are up. The poor have no such choices. I doubt there is one poor person (a person living on less than $3.10 a day) who would say, "Oh ya, I saw this coming and so I prepared by doing xyz." Choice. The poor often don't have any choice.
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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Nakuru Vineyard Church

Some of the most beautiful faces in Kenya were found at Nakuru Vineyard Church this week. These faithful participants worshiped deeply, listened intently, and participated fully.  

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Ngowe House

Sami says, "Welcome to Ngowe House."
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Monday, December 26, 2016

100 Christmas Dollies 2016: Christmas Day Celebration

Our Christmas Day celebration was a huge success. The tiny PEMA Church in Mjanaheri, Kenya was overflowing with adults and children alike. Surprise, I was told that I would be preaching that morning and thankfully the Lord brought to mind Isaiah 9:6, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.” I asked how many of the parents would “give” their child away after he or she was born. None volunteered. Instead they came to understand what a great gift Jesus is for us and that his birth is not the greatest…instead his death and resurrection are the greatest. For that we can be sure of our place in heaven with Jesus. Picking up on that “Son is given” part, we talked of the dollies as being given as a gift and that every time they see their dollies they should remember God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ.

I explained more about the construction of the roof after which the church broke out in joyous celebration. I continued on telling them that Pr James would not be receiving any money and that I would meet him in town to pay for the supplies needed. This explanation is necessary so that members don’t accuse him of keeping money for himself and so that we help him avoid that temptation. Complete transparency.

Despite the seemingly African style smiles (or lack thereof), the children bounced around with their dollies all afternoon—even the boys. Follow this link to see each child with his or her dolly.

Our traditional Christmas meal was made up of goat’s meat and rice. Unfortunately, the first goat was stolen or ran away (not that I blame him). The second goat, though, was slaughtered as the service began and four hours later we were all enjoying our Christmas meal.

Thank you to each and every one of you who gave sacrificially to make this project happen. May you always find food on your table and love in your hearts.

Pr James and Pr Ephantus introduce one another.

The Kenyan dolly maker -- Pr Nathaniel -- just happens to be a member of this church.
No one had any idea of this connection until the Monday before Christmas.
All this work Pr Nathaniel and his two lady workers have been doing
has been for the benefit of his own church.
Pr Nathaniel's mother on the left and his wife on my right.

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100 Christmas Dollies 2016: Dolly Giving

The children of PEMA Church in Majanaheri, Kenya received dollies for Christmas along with a traditional Christmas meal. Thank you to all our sponsors, we could not have done this without you! As always, the younger children are challenged to smile "cheka" in the photos. Some of them had real personality, though. Take a look.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

100 Christmas Dollies: #GivingTuesday

Have you heard about #GivingTuesday? Giving Tuesday was created to unite us all in a day of generosity, to make a difference in the world any way we choose to at the start of this busy holiday season. Every year Surprised by Hope officially launches its 100 Christmas Dolly campaign on #GivingTuesday and we’d like you to join us.

What is the 100 Christmas Dolly campaign?
We identify a pastor and his or her church members who are applying what they learned from our Entrepreneurship Series in actively constructing their church. You join together with us in sponsoring unique, handmade dollies for children from that church and the surrounding community.

Notice that Pr James is slowly adding layers to his walls
in preparation for adding a roof.

This is the original PEMA church building.
Isaiah 54 in practice. THAT is faith!

On Christmas Day, we share a holiday meal with the church and community members, and we share the story of the nativity with the children. Each child receives a dolly—perhaps his or her only Christmas present—to remember the free gift we received in Jesus Christ. Finally, your giving allows you to join hands across the ocean in adding to the construction of that very church building.

What should you do?

What will Surprised by Hope do?
  • Provide a Christmas meal for PEMA Church families.
  • Share a child-sized story of the Nativity.
  • Match one dolly per child from that church.
  • Send you a picture of the child with your sponsored dolly.
  • Provide funds to PEMA Church to build a roof.
  • Post follow up stories as the construction proceeds.


Join us on #GivingTuesday and give a gift with lasting meaning.

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100 Christmas Dollies 2016: Building Churches

Every holiday season, Surprised by Hope launches its 100 Christmas Dollies campaign and the most commonly remembered message is that children receive dollies for Christmas. But the program is so much more than that.

Those dollies are indeed a lovely gift but, even more so, the money raised from dolly sponsorship is gifted to a church who has applied what they’ve learned from our business teachings toward building their church. The funds are used to advance their building progress—not to build a church for them—but to advance what they’ve already started for themselves.

In 2013 Mountain of Glory Church received iron bars for the windows of their church.

In 2014 Grace Abundance Church received a partial payment on the land they purchased for their church.

In 2015 Victory Christian Center received walls to sit on the foundation they’d built.

This year is no different. PEMA Church will receive a roof to set atop the walls they’ve constructed. Join together with our brothers and sisters in Christ and sponsor a dolly to add a roof to PEMA Church in Mjahareni, Kenya.

We are leaving little bits of love and legacy around East Africa by sharing our resources not with people who are waiting and expecting, but with people who are working hard and completely surprised by hope!

What should you do?

What will Surprised by Hope do?
  • Provide a Christmas meal for PEMA Church families.
  • Share a child-sized story of the Nativity.
  • Match one dolly per child from that church.
  • Send you a picture of the child with your sponsored dolly.
  • Provide funds to PEMA Church to build a roof.
  • Post follow up stories as the construction proceeds.

Read more »