Thursday, December 28, 2017

Bugs and Pests of 2017

I hesitate to post now, lest there be more between now and 2018. But here is a collection made just for you. Welcome to coast.

This green mamba slithered out from the branches of
the tree in front of my house. Where he went after that
nobody knows.

Something supped on me in about 20 places just like this.

One of about 20 frogs found in my bathtub throughout the year.

All kind of bugs, many of which I killed before I took a picture.

A giant slug. How on earth do these things get inside.

This is an ant straw. Inside are thousands of little eggs.

Perhaps the most disgusting. The ants found a space under a food box,
another time under the printer (which they ate up and no longer works),
yet another under a duffel bag, and lastly under a storage box.
Four times this year. Just beyond YUK! This is what boys were made for, I'm quite sure.

He was my welcoming party. How he got into the fridge, I'll never know.

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Monday, December 25, 2017

100 Christmas Dollies 2017 Celebration

It was a merry Christmas at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Hadu, Kenya as we made the long, long journey into Hadu, worshiped with the church, distributed 100 Christmas Dollies, and shared a meal together. So proud of this church and their leaders for all they've done to grow the church. Imagine these children alone inside a 25 x 25 sanctuary and multiply it by three. They truly need this expansion and I think God for you in helping roof what they've already begun.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Emmanuel Baptist Church Testimonies

Pastor Raymond from Emmanuel Baptist Church in Hadu, Kenya was sure to point out that “all these testimonies are real!” And that these people increased their giving to the Lord and participated gratefully in fundraising for the church. All these years, Pr Raymond has been growing fruit from the seeds we sowed so many years ago. I thank God that he allowed us to enjoy it.

Sister Mary began selling porridge as she walked around town and she says she is “doing great!” She also makes charcoal to sell in town too.

Esther and her husband started a new shop after attending Surprised by Hope’s Entrepreneurship teachings. She said that those teachings opened up the way she thinks and now she has confidence in her business and her abilities as a result.

Sister Fatuma is happily selling chai, chapatti and more in her food kiosk. She started this business after the teaching too. She served Pr Ephantus and Pr Raymond as they met to discuss her new business. Pr Ephantus said, “Mmmm, it’s very nice food for sure.”

Christine is happy to be selling her home utensils and close in this new shop she started after the lessons. The teaching about knowing how to use their assets creatively really helped her.

Mama Gladys, Pastor Raymond’s wife, started selling fruits and vegetables as a result of the teaching. 

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100 Christmas Dollies: 2017 Beneficiary Announcement

I felt strangely pressed to visit a church we’d ministered through about four years ago. We don’t often lose touch, but somehow my life in Uganda made staying connected to this coastal Kenya church a challenge. We reconnected through the Sensible Shoes short-term ministry program in August and I was surprised by what I saw. Instantly I knew it was the Holy Spirit bringing me home. Prs Raymond and Amos humbly presented their church expansion project by leading us over the half-built threshold into the old church structure, which was overflowing with children.

At a later interview, Pr Raymond introduced four ladies who started new businesses as a result of our ministry-teaching, but was sure to point out they weren’t alone. A short time after these new businesses were launched the church had a fundraising ceremony and began constructing their expansion. We don't often get to see the results of seeds sown many years ago, but I am thankful for blind obedience in the urge to return to visit with Pr Raymond and the way the Lord encourages us all through relationships.

Between the time I met Pr Raymond for the Sensible Shoes ministry and the time Pr Ephantus returned for the interview, even more work had been done. Their next phase of constructions is beams and iron sheets for the roof.

Before the addition began, this is the church photo I took many years ago.
Walls for the expansion under construction in August.
The new construction almost doubles the size of the church.

The beautiful tree is gone now.

Who Qualifies
  • Surprised by Hope has several criteria that must be met before selecting the beneficiary of the 100 Christmas Dolly gift.
  • The church pastor or leaders must have attended a Surprised by Hope workshop.
  • The church must evidence direct application of some lesson from that workshop toward positive change in their church. We acknowledge that there are many ways to apply our lessons and that not all of them are tangible. However, our goal is to leave a tangible, long-lasting legacy and so we aim at selecting churches making physical improvements.
  • Church members must evidence their own motivation toward their goal without expecting the 100 Christmas Dolly gift.
  • Our gift must be only a minor portion of the overall work of the church construction. We are not in the business of building churches, it’s members are. We simply wish to offer a small gift to help them along.

As you can see, Prs Raymond and Amos, and Emmanuel Baptist Church of Hadu, Kenya, meet all these criteria very well. We are excited to award Emmanuel Baptist Church the 100 Christmas Dolly gift for 2017 and are so thankful for Pastor Raymond’s faithful service to the people of Hadu, Kenya.

How it Works
  • Choose the one (or several) dollies calling your name.
  • Make a tax deductible donation of $25 per dolly using PayPal, or send a check in the mail to the U.S. address at the bottom of the home page. Don’t forget to include your dolly number(s) in the comment field.
  • On Christmas day we will bring a full meal to the church and a simple Nativity message to the children with a gift for all the dollies we have sponsored.
  • Watch for a picture of your dolly with his or her new Kenyan mommy or daddy. Often these photos are posted online before your family gatherings on Christmas day.
  • Then we’ll use your donation money to invest in a roof for Emmanuel Baptist Church in Hadu. Watch for future progress updates.
  • Pray regularly for the child who received your dolly and for the church.

Read About Previous Gifts

Stay Connected
Check out our website at
Follow Surprised by Hope on Facebook.
Subscribe to our newsletters.
Read our blog.

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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Maasai Mara Safari

To reach our lodging for the night, we passed through the eastern part of Maasai Mara. By the time we exited the park gates, we had seen so much beauty we wondered if the next day would favor us.

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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Sensible Shoes: Walk in Love

Our Sensible Shoes ministry has been and always will be about washing the feet of East African children and fitting them with a pair of Sensible Shoes as we teach them to walk in the way of love (Ephesians 5:1–2). Over the past few years, we’ve been investing more heavily in the children of coastal Kenya not only to meet their immediate physical and spiritual needs, but also to lay a claim on these children as future spiritual, family, political, and business leaders in this majority Muslim region.

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Friday, July 14, 2017

$3.10 Poverty Challenge and Healthcare

It all started by eating a simple chapatti, a small flatbread prepared on a skillet. I love chapatti, which is exactly why the pastor purchased two for me to have at breakfast before the final day of our training in Mwingi. I gladly scarfed down both to the great joy of our host, unknowingly saving the other teammates from impending doom.

Within an hour I knew something was wrong but wrote it off as the usual, “That’s what you get for eating food made by street vendors.” By lunch I was begging Pr Ephantus to make excuses for me to the host pastor because I knew that when lunchtime came I would not be able to eat. In African culture, if you don’t eat the food presented you are considered extremely rude. Even with that pressure, I just knew I couldn’t eat or drink a bite.

Thank the Lord for a great team because by the end of the day I almost had to be carried out. Bless another pastor who had come to the training and, rather than dropping us at the bus station, drove us all four hours to my home away from home in Nairobi. Though I’d not said a single word about the dread I was feeling in taking a bumpy squished hot bus ride for five to six hours to reach there, this pastor took it upon himself to drive the entire team that great distance, perhaps for my benefit alone.

Thinking I’d feel better when everything…um…passed through, I was disappointed when that wasn’t the case. Maybe I’d feel better tomorrow. I kept pushing on believing I would soon be well and instead found that I was more miserable than ever. Thanks to a special donor, I flew home (to coast) rather than bussed and promptly landed myself face down in bed…for the next six weeks.

The sweet local doctor lady examined me and recommended a few of the tried and true tests through which we found typhoid. After purchasing the medicine and heading home, I had spent a grand total of $77.00 to address this illness. Relieved, I eagerly took the prescribed medicine despite what seemed to be almost an overdose. Finally, I would be well or so I thought. After that medicine was long gone, I was still sick. Why? Maybe if I eat something. Not! It took a while to realize that single slice of toast I forced myself to eat every morning was like poison to all that was churning around inside me and my body did everything it could to fight against that and any other food or drink I tried.

Ever mindful of my aversion to hospitals here, especially for something silly like dehydration, I managed to keep down a few bites of Jell-O made with orange juice without a fight against the as yet unknown creatures taking over my body. Eventually I hauled out a box of ultra-stale Cheerios and discovered through lots of trial and error that a small handful every two hours would not produce that harsh reaction and would keep my stomach from growling too much. Day and night, I ate that small handful. Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel better.

Ministry programs came, and ministry programs went. Each morning I woke and thought one more night and I’ll feel better so I can go to the program. Yet that morning where I thought I’d feel better never came. Again, thanks to a great team who carried on as best they could completely without me. Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel better.

Six weeks passed and now the big team meeting and two week-long programs were upon us. Obviously one more night and I’ll feel better wasn’t working out for me. A friend recommended a tropical medicine clinic in Nairobi, which could have easily been on the way to the big team program. Again thanks to that special donor, I few back to Nairobi rather than taking the 12 hour bus, and arrived at that clinic way before time. Sprawled out on their waiting sofa, I did just that. Blood test, no problem and typhoid was indeed gone. Stool test? Don’t you have to eat to poop? Sigh.

Back to my Nairobi home to wait, and wait. Finally and unknowing boda-boda driver carried that special package to the clinic on my behalf and that sweet, compassionate lab technician soon reported Giardia (parasite) and Hylicobactor Pylori (bacteria). Along with typhoid, both have water borne origins (i.e., whoever made that chapatti didn't use clean water). I was given a list of SIX prescriptions. Thank God for another friend who went to the pharmacy for me and returned with a bag full of medicines, some of which I am still taking. By now my total healthcare expenses related to this one long illness ran sky high to just over $200 (not including the flight gifts).


Hylicobactor Pylori
Oh how happy that Wednesday report made me. We finally knew what was wrong, had the meds and I would be well! Thursday? Kill me now!!! Thursday was the day of arrival for the team in Kisumu, a mere six-hour taxi ride from Nairobi. Um, I was quite sure I would soon be in the grave so there was no reason to prepare for that long trip. Having my father’s work ethic, and another gift of flight from that same donor, I was dragged from home by a loving taxi driver and delivered to the airport. Less than an hour later another loving couple picked me from the door, fed me (though I scarcely ate), and delivered me to the hostel where the team was waiting.

Now 9 pm, despite having told the team it was ready, the hostel reported that my room was not available. Yes, not available. Now I was to drag myself down the street to another hostel “just for that night.” Oh Lord, I asked, what on earth??? The team made sure I took my meds, tucked me in bed, and left me there alone. The night passed like all the other nights. And then the sun came out!

Friday morning I checked myself as though I had fallen from a great height. Could it be? Could it be that I feel…okay? Was it possible? I carefully dressed and asked the guys to come carry my bag back to the meeting place. I ate more than a small handful of Cheerios (yes, that box lasted forever because I wasn’t eating much). Throughout the day Friday and Saturday I increased my Cheerio intake only as a matter of caution, though I felt quite well. Both days I managed to sit upright for our team meeting (something I hadn’t done for more than 15 minutes at a time while at home) and my brain was somewhat sharp-ish. Sunday, eggs and a slice of toast. Monday, Java House here I come! Our entire 2.5-week program was completely unhindered by my illness and it only took a few days to feel like a new woman---a 25-pound lighter woman.

Throughout this six-week illness, I couldn’t help but reflect on its relationship to the $3.10 Poverty Challenge. Remember that something like 2/3rds of sub-Saharan Africa lives on less than $3.10 per day. If that were my situation, I would have to save my money for 64 days to pay the $200 for doctors and medicines not to mention traveling for that treatment not to mention the small village of people who cared for me in one way or another. That means 64 days without food, shelter, clothing, or anything else. Is that even realistic? Absolutely not; and I think that is exactly the point.

What can you do if you are sick and living on $3.10 per day? Have you ever wondered why the mortality rate in developing countries is so high? Yes sometimes it’s because doctors and healthcare systems are insufficient. More often, I would guess, it’s because people just don’t have the money for treatment and so they lay in the bed until sweet relief comes. Yes, this is what I was thinking about as I lay in my own comfortable bed waiting to see what tomorrow would bring.
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Monday, March 13, 2017

$3.10 Poverty Challenge: Reflections

The purpose of the Poverty Challenge was to give me an experience that more closely emulates the people I serve so that I can better understand their lives and, therefore, bring ministry and teaching that more directly meets their needs.

One of the most important things I learned from this experience is how difficult it is to simulate a poverty situation without going to extremes. I lived on $3.10 each day, yes, but I did so from the comfort of my home, sleeping on my new mattress, and bathing with water that comes from the national system rather than a distant bore hole. Essentially, my experience came down to a choice between diet and exercise. Would I buy food that day (scant though it was) or would I ride the boda the four to five kilometers needed to reach our ministry location? Pick one.

Another glaring reality is that I prepared myself for this experience a week ahead of time by purchasing shoes, Bibles, and other ministry related items so that they wouldn’t come from my daily $3.10 allowance. Further, I knew that after the 10 days I could eat a proper meal and get things done that I otherwise couldn’t have. Those living on less than $3.10 per day don’t plan to be poor—the don’t wake up one day and say, “Honey, this big change is coming, let’s get ready.” Nor can those living on less than $3.10 per day say, “We’ll go see the doctor after we’re done being poor,” or, “Let’s pay school fees after we’re done with poverty.”

Though disappointed in how foolish this exercise seemed to be, I can also say that I learned so much just in the contemplation of these realities. Two big events really brought me pause. My cough was pretty severe and while living on $3.10 per day, I could not afford medicine. This was a very authentic experience—can you imagine having a headache and not being able to take any pain killer? What about watching your children cough up a lung and not being able to provide anything to ease that cough? With my cough came overheating. My body was sweating fiercely because coughing heats the body—that coupled with 90+ degree temperatures really made me extra miserable. The next morning I rose to push forward our ministry appointments despite this misery, but for how long could I sustain this.

Another event that stopped me in my tracks was the theft. During one ministry appointment a child stole my wallet which meant a LOT of money was stolen along with my cards. While this was a terrible situation, I had more money in the bank and could have saved myself. However, under the self-imposed guidelines of this challenge I found myself after dark in a faraway church needing to reach the police and then home and yet having no money to do so. Now I began to understand the African collectivist culture for real. When you get stuck, you ask friends to help. I was incredibly humbled that a pastor friend would pay my transportation home and that another friend offered two days’ worth of Poverty Challenge money to help me continue the agenda. According to the challenge, my work afforded me payment each day and so the next morning I was able to receive my $3.10 again. I used that extra gift to reach police again the next morning to receive a report that allows me to be in the country and then headed to the bank to report my stolen card and apply for a new one. None of these things comes without a cost. Imagine losing your bank card and not having the money to report it stolen, or to get a new one. If you are lucky, your money is there but you have no ID which is also required to withdraw and no bank card.

My own fixation on money was a disappointment. I was so concerned with spending only what I was allowed and how exactly that money would be spent that I left behind faith that God would supply my needs, which he did after the theft in abundance. This fixation gave me some insight into the frequency with which I am asked for money and why. I am thankful I didn’t have to ask for help that night, that friends saw the need and filled it. Oh pride. But if I needed to feed my children or take them to the hospital, I’m quite sure I would have had to overcome that pride and ask for help. From these experiences, I can see how someone could be living above the $3.10 poverty challenge line (which is not the same as the American poverty level), and quickly find themselves stuck because of the unavoidable circumstances.

Though the $3.10 Poverty Challenge did not take the shape I expected, I am most certainly humbled by the many lessons and insights afforded through the experience. Please pray with me for the 68% of the world’s population who find themselves living on less than $3.10 per day. Pray for development programs that allow them to raise themselves out of poverty for good and that they would fight against a victim or dependence mentality and for a way of thinking that honors God in every situation.

If you pledged (or would like to pledge) support for this challenge--$3.10 per day for 10 days—please click here and select “One Time Gift” to submit your $31.00 gift via PayPal.

If you would like to read more about what the challenge was, or to learn about each day of the challenge as I progressed, click the links below.

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