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News from Kenya

I received an update from Pastor Francis at Upako Centre last week, telling me that they had their Upako4graduation ceremony for the kindergarten students at the John Stanko Academy, which is the name they have chosen for their new school venue. That naming was a total surprise to me, and I am honored but also feel a sense of responsibility to help make the Academy JSUpakoGradall that it can be for the students' sake. We are finalizing our next container any day now, and of course the Academy will get some of the resources we are sending over. Rather than me tell you any more, I will allow Pastor Francis to bring the report, along with some school and graduation pictures (click on them to enlarge):

Dr. J,

I trust all is well. We have come to the end of our school terms 2016, and I am happy with how the children especially are progressing academically. Thank you for presiding over their graduation, which was formalized last Thursday the 10th of November and they are now ready to join the next class come new year.This achievement was made possible by the huge support from you are your lovely team who donate and come to Kenya every year. God bless you in a big way. We are doing what we can to come up with an academy where education, feeding, library and talents are developed.

Upako2Mary who has been enjoying her school through your sponsorship has given other orphans a lot of hope that everything is possible with God. You created the hope, your team built the hope.

I was doing research locally to see where and how we can assemble and sell bicycles here, and we found a place and technical advice on how to do that and we are happy to request you to consider sending bicycles if you can.

God bless you. Attached are photos of some of the children, and the place we went for advise about the bicycles.

Pass our greetings to all,

Pastor Francis

Someone has donated bicycles to be included in the container shipment, and we will give those to Pastor Upako3Upako5Francis to start a bike sales/repair company to help with school expenses. We are not sure how much the container will cost to ship and clear customs, but we have the first $6,000, so we are going to ship and trust the Lord for what we will need when it arrives next year.

As always, I am asking for and counting on your help for all that we do. You can contribute using PayPal via my website or by sending a tax-deductible contribution to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. The pictures are the a inadequate attempt to connect you with the work going on throughout Kenya, for there are many lives that benefit from even the smallest of gifts.

We Changed One Life

In 2010, we met a young orphaned girl at Upako Centre who deeply touched our hearts. While we were MaryGrad3impressed with all the children, little Mary stood out from the crowd. Even though she was the smallest in stature, she led the singing and recitations. She was enthusiastic and charismatic, and everyone who met her would single her out for special recognition. I remember that one time we said to her, "Mary, we love you and think about you often," to which she replied, "Why?" What's more, she really wanted to know and waited for us to tell her.

Over time, we felt sure that we were to help Mary, so we began to pay her school fees so she could get a better education. It was then that we found out she was older than we thought, for her diminished height was due to deprived nutrition as a young child. She is the smallest in her class, but has the biggest heart. Last year, she visited with our team and thanked them for assisting her with her education.

MaryGrad1We are please to announce that Mary graduated from the eighth grade this past week, and has sat for her national exams to determine where she will go to high school. Here is what Pastor Francis, her caregiver, sent some pictures and wrote this last week:

Peace and all that is good be with you. I want to thank you for many things here and we are happy and feel blessed through you in a great way.

Thank you [Dr. John] for your visit to Upako Centre two weeks ago and for presiding over our MaryGrad2pre-graduation with the young ones. I also want to acknowledge receipt of the money you  gave us for the orphans feeding program and we all say thanks to you and to whoever helped in contribution in any way.

I also want to say a special thank you on behalf of Upako Centre and Mary Naserian who graduated yesterday after sitting for her final primary National exam. Mary will be joining high school next year, God willing, for secondary education, which will take another four years. Mary has increased both in health, education, and social life since you sponsored her education in a private school. Thank you so much. She is now back at the orphanage until next year when she will start another term. We pray for her educational support will continue.

Pastor Francis

MaryUpakoThankYouMary is pictured at left with a sign thanking several of the women who have been particularly generous in helping her. Here is a link where you can watch Mary express her thanks while we were there in March. I have often said that we cannot save the whole world, so let's join together to change a little piece of it. Mary is a little but important piece of God's world, and we have focused on impacting her. Our prayer is that she will realize how God has blessed her, and will grow into a woman who will want to repay the kindness God has shown her by making a difference in her world.

I am not asking that you adopt a child or to help us expand the work we are doing in Kenya. I am asking that you support what we are already doing. We don't want to spread our efforts too thin so that we do a little for many. We want to do a lot for a few, and trust God that this is the best strategy. God has empowered us to change one girl's life, and we are happy to do that, but can only do that if you stand with us on a regular basis.

You can invest in these young lives in Kenya by giving to the Sophia Fund. Every dime we receive is invested into the people with whom we work, and we are impacting other young people, just like Mary. You can give using PayPal through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Even $5 is a tremendous help, but we are trusting the Lord for a large gift in order to make a serious impact in the physical facilities and transportation needs of our partners. Please give today, and give generously as the Lord leads.