School is Out in Kenya

Kenyan schools take a break in August, and this year is no exception, especially since the WAPIS2schools were needed as voting venues for the national election that was held on August 8. When school is out, however, our libraries are the "in" place to be, as you can see from these pictures. This break is a time when many students make use of our libraries, especially our biggest one in Banana. Pastor Peter sent me an update with pictures this past week, and I am including it here so you will know for sure that the work you are supporting in Kenya is being carried out with integrity and excellence:

Dear Dr. John,

The school holiday is here once more and the students are making good use of the library. We are happy that majority of the youth are able to utilize their free time well. In the country, we have come out of election last week and there was some chaos, but we thank God it's now calm.

WAPIS3Please continue praying for us that we maintain peace.

God bless all our partners.

Pastor Peter

I sent Pastor Peter $600 this past week to purchase a television for the library so the students can watch educational DVDs, and also so the library can sponsor movie nights for the community. I will send pictures of what that looks like when I receive them.

In the meantime, we continue to make progress on our next installment of books being sent to Kenya in our container. Our agent in Kenya promised that she would finalize WAPIS1 the first steps this coming week so that our shipment of 25,000 books, desks, shoes, and school supplies can be sent over soon. I am not sure what this shipment will cost, but I am trusting the Lord for the funds to continue this important library project. Please consider a gift toward the expenses of the shipment, which you can give through my website using PayPal or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882.

It is my prayer that the Lord will see fit not only to fund the container shipment, but also to help us outfit all our libraries with new tables, shelves, chairs, computers, and televisions. I have been praying that we would be able to raise $100,000, which I have already planned how to distribute among our partners. If you are looking for good ground into which you can sow Kingdom seed,  I commend the work we are doing in Kenya for your prayerful consideration. Thank you, and thank You, Lord, for Your provision and help.

Progress in Kenya

When I take visitors to Kenya, I tell them that we do not give to needs while we are there. That is because there is need everywhere. Instead, we build relationships and invest into those we know and trust. That is why I give you regular reports from just a few places because we have decided not to try and change the world -- just a small portion of it. This week, I heard from Pastor Peter LillianGradand Pastor Francis. First, let's look at what Francis had to say:

Dr J,
The support you are giving to the teachers here [at the Stanko Academy] is really helping. Lilian completed another step of training and graduated on Friday 21/7/17. This means that the children are going to get the best and the entire leadership has been sent light. She had started the training but was not able to complete because there was no money. Thank you so much for the help. Lilian is now in a new level of her teaching profession and is continuing with studies. Pastor Francis
Then I heard from Pastor Peter after I asked him if a big screen TV would be of use in our Banana library. Here is what he wrote:
Dear Dr. John,
It's so wonderful to hear the progress you are making with the shipment and with God all will be possible. We say thanks to all the donors of different items and special thanks to your son for his tireless effort toward this project. Here in Kenya the schools will be closed in two weeks time and hence the library will experience unusual turnover but will manage. For the TV, the majority are ranging $500 and we need a DVD machine and wall mount stand that will cost about $100-150. In total, we are looking at $600-650.This will be very important during this holiday. Once more, May God bless all the work of your hard and grant you favor. Pastor Peter
So here are the needs coming up for our partners in Kenya:
  1. $600 due August 1 for our teachers at Upako;
  2. $650 for our library TV and DVD (if you want to understand why we are doing what we do to establish libraries, watch this video);
  3. $15,000 for our shipment ($1,750 came in last week, so we need $8500).

You can give as the Lord leads using PayPal through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest International, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. All of these needs are urgent and dated - they are due by August 1. I ask that you pray and then do what God directs you to do -- today! Thank you and God bless you.

The Time to Ship Has Arrived

For the last three years, people have donated books, shoes (for men, women, and children), school supplies, desks, bicycles, Bibles, puppets, toys, and other odds and ends. The time has come to ship the container so that our friends in Kenya can enjoy and utilize what has been given. That shipment will require money to send, by my best estimate around $15,000 of which I have $5,000.

We have upgraded to a 40-foot container to accommodate the 700 boxes (in 2014, we sent Warehouse 290 boxes in a 20-foot container, pictured below right) that are in three warehouses (like the one pictured at right), for which we have paid $400 per month. Those 700 boxes contain:

  • 25,000 library books (fiction, nonfiction, reference, textbooks)
  • 2.500 pairs of shoes
  • tons of school supplies
  • 75 laptop computers
  • 35 bicycles
  • 10 desks

BoxesMy son (pictured right) sorted, trashed what could not be sent, packed, labeled, coded, sealed, and arranged the last 500 boxes (like the ones pictured left - click to enlarge) in three warehouses with little help from anyone. He has Unit1lived and labored over this project for the last year as a volunteer, serving the Lord and the people of Kenya. The work isn't over yet, for we will have to find volunteers to help us pack the container the day it arrives, come rain or shine.

In addition to supplementing the libraries we already have, we will establish at least three new libraries out of this shipment - and knowing how resourceful Kenyans are, it will probably be more than three. Why are we doing this and why is this project worthy of your financial support? Here are a few reasons:

  • If we are going to fight poverty, we must support the people not only with food, but Containerwith educational opportunities. Where there is a library, local leaders report that boredom goes down, which means that drug abuse and teen pregnancy also decrease.
  • The libraries provide a place to study away from the limitations of their homes, which often do not have electricity or a quiet place to study.
  • The libraries become hubs of learning. Our library in Banana has an art and music school, as well as a hair salon where ladies learn cosmetology as well as earn money providing hairdressing services.

1 Empty Library 1The library project started at the behest of a cabinet official in Kenya, who said to me, "Help us start libraries. Our people are bored and have nothing to read." I found that to be true, and that is why we are doing what we do. The picture at left (click to enlarge) is a new school the government built in a village. What you see is the library, and the school has 600 children! Compare the picture at left with the picture of our new library in Banana with Pastor Peter (right below).

Now I need your help. I need to raise the money to finish the task we started. You can give Library1 through my website or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. This has turned into a huge project, but I know God is able to fund the work and expedite the process of shipping and clearing customs.

This truly is a faith shipment, for I have no foundations, churches, or organizations who support this work. We are doing this because we have seen firsthand the impact that the libraries have made in the communities and schools where they exist. We have given ourselves to the work because this is doing something for the poor for which they cannot repay us or you. We are doing this because we know God has led us to do it.

Won't you stand with us, my son and I and the other supporters who have given resources, time, and money? More importantly, won't you help all the youth and adults who will benefit from what is in this container? I pray you will find it in your heart to do so. Thank you and God bless you.

Upako School Van

After their venue was ransacked and destroyed last year, the school and then the orphans at Upako UpakoVan1Centre had to relocate to a new site. As God always does, He has worked this out for the good and today they are thriving in their new venue. Leadership did not want to leave any of the children behind in the transition, so they have been transporting students to the new school, having to rent a van to get the job done. This week, Pastor Francis wrote me the following update concerning their school van:

Dr. J,
God's grace is amazing. We have been using an old van to transport some children from Kawangware to Dr. Stanko Academy for a fee daily on school days. The owner took it for repair and painting but instead of painting the ordinary colour, he painted the van with our new school colour and branded it DR. STANKO ACADEMY. He asked us to continue paying him the daily fees of 23 dollars as usual until we buy our own. The Van looks good UpakoVan2and we are happy with the branding. God can command a stranger to help along the way. Step by step, things are falling on the right track and I thank God for everything. God bless you for continued prayers.
Blessings - Pastor Francis
I was blessed that they were blessed with this development and by the looks of everyone in the pictures, they truly are happy and blessed! There are many things I appreciate about our partners in Kenya, and one of them is their faith in God. They trust Him daily, not putting their faith in us but in Him, where it should be. For that reason, God watches over them and grants them unexpected blessings as Pastor Francis described.
Won't you stand with our friends who are standing in faith, trusting God to use you to meet their needs? You can help with their van expense, their teacher salaries, the bunk bed needs for the orphans who actually stay and live in the classrooms, or the school feeding program by contributing to my ministry. You can use PayPal via my website or send a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you for your help, and may God bless you and our friends in Kenya as together we serve God's Kingdom through our faithful service.

Textbooks for Upako

I heard from Pastor Francis this past week and it was exciting news from the Dr. Stanko Academy. Here is UpakoTchrs1what he wrote:

Dr. J,
The teachers received their pay and they were very happy. I am also happy that the work with the orphans here is taking shape and there is a lot of improvement in the lives of the children and the workers. I am very grateful to you for choosing to work with Upako to save the lives of the orphans here and I am praying that you and your team share in the children's blessings. Had it not been for you, some of them may have not been made it alive today. We managed to buy some school textbooks to boost the teachers efforts with what we had yesterday. We are happy for your involvement with the ministry and may you experience Gods goodness.Tell all those who are praying for us that we value them so much. - Pst Francis
UpakoLittlesThe children getting textbooks is great news! I have been in the classroom when the teachers, often in stifling hot conditions in their metal shack classroom, have to teach 25 to 35 students with only one textbook that the teacher is holding. That means the teachers must teach nonstop for hours every day, covering every subject through sheer determination and devotion. Now that the students have some books, the teachers job will become a bit easier and the students will learn more.
We take for granted that a school means that the UpakoKidsWithBooksstudents will have books and supplies, but that is not the case in Kenya. We also take for granted that the teachers are getting paid, but in Kenya, that is also not always the case. Your contributions toward my work in Kenya are making a big difference as our partners do the little things that make a difference - little things like textbooks, teacher pay, and daily meals. You can contribute toward this work using PayPal through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank  you for your help, and may the Lord bless our partners in Kenya as they continue to make an impact one life at a time!

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.

Library Update; Leaving for Kenya May 7

I received the following update and pictures from Pastor Peter this past week: LibraryUpdate4

Dear Dr. John

The school holiday is still ongoing and the the students are well utilizing the library. We are happy because this place have become a beacon of hope and inspiration. We are pleased that in all our libraries the students have found a safe place for study and reflection. We wish to thank all our supporters for making this possible.

Pastor Peter

I face a busy week as I get ready to go over to Kenya next Sunday. In the meantime, life and ministry continues in Kenya, and I need your help if we are to make the most of the opportunities we have there. Here are some things for you to consider:

  1. School fees are due for some of the students we sponsor. I sent $600 yesterday and will have to send more next week.
  2. The salaries for the teachers we help at Upako are due this week: $600.
  3. I have sent over $1,000 toward the leadership training I am doing in Bomet. I would love to purchase three books to give to each of the leaders, but will need another $1,100 per book to do that ($3,300 total). I have put that before the Lord and if He wants me to give books, He will provide the funds.
  4. On top of all this are my expenses to go over to Kenya to be with the leaders and other partners we have worked with over the years.

I am not nervous at all, and just wanted you to know the things that I am trusting the Lord to do in the next few days. If you can help, or would like to share in any of the specific needs listed above, please give online using my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. If you looking for a place where your gifts will make a deep impact with no overhead, then I ask you to consider this work and others like them that I am involved with in Kenya. Thank you and God bless you!

Need Your Help; Heading to Kenya

Two weeks from today on May 7, I will be heading over to Kenya to fulfill a promise I made last year. Our team could not make the trip over to Bomet when we were there in March, and I had promised my friend David Koech that I would come back and do some leadership training for his leaders in the area some time in 2017. After going back and forth, we worked out the dates of May 10-14 for the P1200176training. Here is a picture of David and his wife Sarah from one of my visits when we presented a check to them for their orphanage that houses nearly 100 children from nursery to high school age. I am also including a picture of David standing next to the wood stove that is used to feed those 100 children (click to enlarge). They are doing a great work in addition to overseeing the many churches DSC02086in the area.

I am making a trip so soon after my last trip because of the national elections that will occur in Kenya in August. The country will be preoccupied leading up to the event, and at times conditions can be tense. Therefore, I am going over now and then will go again in October after I have visited Nigeria.

The cost for the training is $1,350 plus some books that I would like to purchase to give to the leaders, bringing the total to $2,000, which does not include my own expenses of getting over to Kenya along with housing and food expenses. While I am there, I am sure I will connect with our other partners to assess their needs and progress in the ministry.

Please consider helping me with the expenses of the leadership training next month. You can give through my website or by sending a tax-deductible contribution to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you for help, and you know I will give you a full report of my time there with the leaders who are doing such a great job and are worthy of our support. Thank you, and please be praying for my time in Kenya!

Support Your Local Teacher

Perhaps you remember last year's tragedy when Pastor Francis was awakened to find that his school UpakoTeachersthat was serving the Kawangware area had been destroyed by his landlord to make way for another building (ironically, it was torn down to make room for a church). This was a devastating blow at the time, but you generously gave $2,500 to help rebuild the school in another area.

UpakoDown9Well, I am delighted to report the truth of Romans 8:28 is still in effect in that God works for good in all things. On our visit month, we found the school to be in the best shape we have ever witnessed, with new, youthful teachers and a new spirit and vision that were palpable. The school has operated on a volunteer basis and all the teachers have taught until they found something else that paid a salary, which meant the students were adjusting to new teachers every few months.

In order to rectify this problem, I have made a StankoAcademySign
commitment to send $600 every month for teacher support. This will enable Upako to employ teachers and hold them accountable, will allow the teachers to settle into a secure position, and will give the students a chance to bond with their instructors as students are apt to do. I have already done this for March and April, and will continue to do so until the Lord directs otherwise. I am attaching a picture of the faculty from a recent visit to one of the teachers who just had a baby. One person has already pledged a monthly contribution to help with the instructor expenses.

On another note, I am proceeding with my May visit back to Kenya to conduct some leadership training with Pastor David Koech in the Bomet region. It will be a quick trip, but with my summer schedule and the August elections in Kenya, it is the only opening in my calendar that will work. I know that I am responsible for the expenses for the conference that will include books, notes, food, and refreshments. I will let you know what that the projected cost is so you can help as the Lord leads.

ContainerAnd finally, we are "inches" away from sending our container, having held it up as book contributions continue to come in. I have also ordered a supply of my own books to send over so i can set up a distribution center for sales in Kenya. All 750 of those books have to be shrink wrapped before we ship them, and that is a labor-intensive job that should be complete this week. Our goal is to have it on its way by June 1, but that will depend in part by the shipping company's inspection and pick up schedule.

I will be having my first informational meeting about the 2018 Kenya trip in late June, so be watching for the date and come if you are remotely interested in going with the team next year. But there will be much to report before then about the growing work we are doing in the great nation of Kenya, so stay tuned. There's more to come.