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Upako Report

I returned from Kenya 10 days ago for what was a quick trip mostly spent in the Bomet area. I UpakoTchrstalked with Pastor Francis while I was there, but here is the report he sent me this week, along with the latest pictures of the teachers, our little Mary, the classrooms, and the "dormitory." First, let me share with you Pastor Francis' report:

Dr. J,

Greetings from the Dr. Stanko Academy in Kenya. The teachers are more committed to their work since you started paying them, and this is a very big boost to the education of the children and the community at large. We UpakoMaryMaynow expect the outcome in the children academic development to rise. The teachers now need school supplies and we are going to buy some for them next week. Paying the teachers is going to go along way helping all the children.

We are looking forward to an equipped library, dormitory for the boys and for the girls, and a modern kitchen. Keep on praying for us. Blessings to you all - Pastor Francis.

We began sending $600 per month to support the teachers (that's $600 total, not $600 per instructor), since teachers would volunteer at the school and serve until they found a paying position. Therefore, there was constant turnover, and the children were the ones who suffered. We feel like supporting the teachers is the best way to support the students.

Then we have our little Mary, who is now in high school. We have UpakoBedsupported this orphan for the last four years to be able to attend a better school. When she is not in school, she comes "home" to Upako and sleeps with the other children in one of the school classrooms. You can see her bed (shared with others) in the attached picture. Pastor Francis needs $2,500 to secure proper bunk beds for the 20 orphaned children, and we have $300 donated toward that need.

Then you see a picture of a classroom meal being served. The students who come to the Stanko Academy who are not orphans still eat what is probably their only meal of the day at school. You can see that Upako Center serves as a school, an orphanage, a place of refuge and employment, and a hope for the future.

UpakoSnackIt would be wonderful if you could find it in your heart to help the children and teachers at Upako Center. Perhaps you would like to contribute toward the bunk beds, or the kitchen, or the food served from their current makeshift kitchen. You can do so by contributing using PayPal through my website or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Everything we receive for the children in Kenya goes to them; not one penny is kept out for administrative expenses. This represents a wonderful opportunity for you to support the orphans that are close to God's heart. Won't you please give today to this most worthy effort?

Kenya Trip Ministry Report

GroupShotBestSome have asked me why I returned to Kenya so soon after my last trip. The answer is simple: there is a national election there this coming August, and things get focused on the election, which can sometimes be a bit tumultuous. So it was either wait until my next trip, which is in October, or go now to fulfill a promise I had made. I opted to go now.

My promise was to Pastor David Koech that I would come and conduct some leadership training in his  DavidJS area of Kenya called Kitoben, which is close to Tenwek Hospital in Bomet. Pastor David has recently been promoted to the head of the Bomet district for the Africa Gospel Church, which includes 22 churches, one orphanage, and 17 schools (12 primary and 5 secondary). The churches have spiritual responsibility for those 17 schools, and visit them all regularly to counsel and pray. They also plan special youth events throughout the year (by the way, click on any picture to enlarge it).

225InAttendanceI was blessed to see 225 people assembled for my leadership training sessions, all seated and patiently waiting for me to arrive on Wednesday, May 10. I had prepared an outline (with fill-in-the-blank format) and had purchased a copy of my book Life is a Gold Mine: Can You Dig It? from my Kenyan publisher. Since I recently revised that book, I took an outline of the revisions to distribute. I am so glad I did, for the participants treated those outlines with special care. I taught for a total of 14 hours with a Kipsigis interpreter from Wednesday through Saturday, and I was surprised at how attentive and engaged the people were! I had to contribute $1,300 to have this training, which included a generator, tea breaks, and lunch every day for four days. The books cost $1,200, but the $2,500 we invested was money well spent (that, of course, does not include LadiesTeaLine2my airfare or hotel expenses).

I had also taken an overhead projector, so I could project the answers to be put into the blanks in the JSRobeSpeaking2notes, and I left the projector there for Pastor David to use. He was so blessed and excited that he would be able to use it to show videos in the local schools. I taught on The Price of Leadership, and covered topics like biblical leadership, time management, purpose, goal-setting, and faith. I had more than a few tell me they had never heard any of that material before, and it all made a significant impact on their lives and ministries.

SundayMornYouthMtgI stayed over for Sunday and preached to a youth church, and then returned to the church where we had held the training to preach. I spoke to the youth about David and Goliath and the church about Hannah and her faith to give birth to Samuel. I then returned to Nairobi where I had meetings until I departed last Thursday.

This was one of my more difficult trips as far as logistics and travel went. Every one of my flights was PouringTeadelayed, the first one to the extent that I did not arrive in Kenya on Monday night but on Tuesday morning. That meant I spent two nights on a plane to get there. When I got over to Bomet (four-hour drive from Nairobi), I made the mistake of drinking every cup of tea that was handed to me, even if it was late in the afternoon. I was waking up at 12:30 or 1:00 AM and could not get back to sleep and could not figure out why. Then it dawned on me: It was the tea! I actually went through two nights without sleep, which made for interesting days of teaching all day with an interpreter. Your prayers and God's grace got me through, but I did sleep 10 hours the first night I got back to Nairobi.

DavidsCar2I have made a commitment to help Pastor David secure a printer and paper, which will serve at the printer for the entire district and the churches and schools therein. I also helped with his new car payments. He was in desperate need of a car to traverse the hills and dirt roads of his district. He also has an orphanage of 74 children, some of whom have AIDS and need emergency medical treatment at all hours of the day or night. Before his car, he was having to rent a motorcycle taxi to transport the sick children down the hill for the 30-minute ride to Tenwek Hospital.

I will be sending out my summer fundraising letter next week, but in the meantime, I need your help to TeaFields2continue the work we have established in Kenya. There is the need of the printer, along with the issue of rising food prices (the cost of corn and sugar has almost tripled over the course of the last few months). I ask that you search your heart and make a decision to help our brothers and sisters who are doing so much with the little they have. They have been faithful, and I would suggest that it is our duty to invest in their work out of the abundance that we have.

You can give through my website or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Every penny I receive goes to our partners in Kenya as the Lord directs us to give according to their needs. Thank you for your attention to and help in these matters, and I pray you will find it in your heart to help with a generous contribution.