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April 2016
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June 2016

The Official Opening

I got this message from Pastor Peter: LibraryOpening

Dear Dr. John,

We are so happy for how far the Lord has taken us.The library is finished and we are ready to open officially on Monday. Thanks for all the support and God bless all our partners.

Pastor Peter

Salon1What's more, inside the library are several other community services and ministries, including a music school, art school, and a barber and beauty school, established through The Five James Foundation under the leadership of Sheran White. This school will take customers and will teach the art of beauty and hair care. All this will bring so much to the community and to the Salon3work of the church in the area of Banana. Congratulations Five James on a job well done! 

Next week, however, I will share with you a recent setback we had at one of our venues due to vandalism. Until then, please be praying about what the Lord would have you do to help the ministry that has been robbed. More on that next week. For now, let's celebrate the library building being open for business! Thank You, Lord!

Report from Upako

My son just returned from a visit to Kenya, and he reported that everyone is well. There has been some bad LatestBricks1news from our friend Gladys at Karen Academy, but I will wait to get more information before I share it with you and what we can do to help. In the meantime, here is a report that Pastor Francis at Upako Centre:

Dr. J,

I trust you are well. I thank God for every step we are making towards sustainability. One day we shall be able to feed, educate and find jobs for the orphans under our care. We have started producing bricks using the machine, though at a slower pace since we are new to the technology, but we will get used to it and things will be better. We are mobile with it so we can move to where soil is available.

LatestBricks3Mary is doing well in school and the rest at Upako are doing great, too. We had very good time with your son in his project with the girls. It is doing well and the girls are grateful for the help to keep them in school every day.

Thank you for helping this way.

Blessings - Pastor Francis

Don't forget that June 15 is the deadline for any books or supplies to be shipped to Kenya this year. After that, we will be raising money for the shipment itself. In the meantime, you can help the orphans and all the children who we help in Kenya by giving a generous contribution using my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882.

The New Library is Open

The new library building is open in Banana, and they are in the process of moving all the books into the facility. I  received the following email update from Pastor Peter along with these two pictures:

Dear Dr. John,NewLibrary1

When we started this journey, I remember the first time you brought the less than ten books as the firstfruits, but over the years, things have changed for the good. As we were shifting to our new library, we noticed we have tons of books.Thanks for the seed you sowed eight years ago and thanks to all partners who have made this possible.

Pastor Peter

I was at a reception in Kenya sponsored by my Kenyan book publisher when one of the cabinet-level officials asked the audience, "Help us start libraries. Our people are bored!" I reflected on that for a few years and then started to bring books to Kenya, both fiction and non-fiction, to see if his statement was accurate. When I saw the hunger for something to read, then I began to look for a partner who would be responsible to oversee and manage the library. I already knew Pastor Peter, and one day, the Lord opened my eyes to the fact that I already knew my partner along with the perfect place to launch the library - in the town of Banana. Peter has shifted some of the books to a supplemental library in the village of Kikuyu, so the library's influence continues to expand, with six other satellite sites already established throughout the country.

NewLibrary2Today, a huge mall is opening close to Banana, so property values have skyrocketed and Banana is on the map now more than ever before. This will lead to a population and traffic increase, so the new library is perfectly situated to maximize its impact.

June 15 is this year's deadline to receive books for our next shipment, which is being sorted and processed as I write. We will need to raise the money to ship the latest supply of books, educational resources, shoes, and library equipment (tables, chairs, computers, shelves), but we hope that we can have it there by year's end.

You can help us with the considerable investment it will take to get the books over this year by contributing to the work, either through my website or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO  Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. It seems that matching grants are quite popular with my donors, so if you can give a matching grant of $1,000 or more, I will then challenge my donors to match that amount by a certain date. In that way, everyone's gift is doubled!

Thank you for your help, and my thanks to Pastor Peter and his team in Banana for their faith in opening the new library, to which I have contributed very little. If you have books or shoes to contribute this year, I will need to have them by June 15.

Let Them Make Bricks

My blog was down for five days this week due to a mysterious problem that was finally resolved yesterday. No one could explain why suddenly, after 10 years, my settings were not correct! It's good to be back, and just in time to give you this update from Pastor Francis at Upako Centre, pictured below:

Dr. J,

Bwana yesu asifiwe [Praise Jesus!]

I trust that you are well and I thank God for his grace.It seems you did not get my email where I Upako kids and staff copyacknowledge receipt of the money you sent for Mary,s school fees and about the delivery of the brick machine. I am sorry if it didn't get to you.

We received the machine and we are very excited and grateful for the big step towards our sustainability in the near future. The machine is going to make the production easier and we are going to produce more bricks compared to the manual process we have been using.

I also received money for Mary's school fees and she is back to school happy and in good health.

I want to thank you and the donors in a very special way for standing in the gap so that the orphans here can eat and go to school. We are very grateful and we thank God for you.

We are mounting the machine and getting ready to start the work. Blessings, blessings, blessings.

We have 123 children attending school at Upako Centre this term and I trust God that they are continuing to do well.They need textbooks, Kenya class syllabus, and computers for them to catch up with the ever-changing digital world.

Pastor Francis

Later today I am sending school fees money to Alice at Upako, and I also sent $500 to Pastor David earlier in the week. The needs are ongoing and urgent, but I try to be careful that the Kenyans do not put their faith in us, but rather in God. We cannot meet all their needs, nor should we try. We do not want to create dependents who believe we are the source of their help. With that in mind, it is important that we give, in fact more important than for them to receive. Paul quoted Jesus' words, which are not in the gospel as Paul quoted them, but are still consistent with what Jesus said in other words: "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).

Please give toward the work that Pastor Francis and so many of our partners are doing. You can give through my website or by sending a tax-deductible contribution to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you and may you receive the blessing that comes from Jesus Himself as you give to the poor.

Bricks in Kenya

We have tried from time to time to help our Kenya partners by not only giving them money, but helping them make money for themselves. We have started chicken farms, opened libraries and purchased equipment that would make things for sale - things like sewing machines, jewelry equipment, and most recently, a brick-making machine.

Brick1Pastor Francis at Upako Centre started a brick business about two years ago with some money we donated for that purpose. It has been doing quite well, but is labor-intensive and quite time consuming when everything is done by hand. This past November, some donors gave money toward a machine that would quadruple the daily production of bricks. I am happy to report that the machine was purchased, the training has taBrick2ken place, and the machine was delivered this past week. I don't have a written update, but I do have some pictures from the delivery, which Francis sent last week.

Today I will send off about $1,100 for May school fees  for Phyllis, Joseck, Elizabeth, and Nuru in Kenya. I will also send off some help for Pastor David in Buchaka. If you can help with these expenses, I promise that you will be sowing your financial seeds into good ground, from which you will obtain an abundant harvest. You can give online through my website or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, PIttsburgh, PA 15221-0882.

Also, if you have any particular project into which you would l like to sow, something similar to the brick-making machine, please let me know and we can help make that dream of assistance a reality.