Kenya Library Update

IMG_5919As you may know, I have been sending and taking books to Kenya for nine years now with the idea to start libraries in local communities. The idea to do this came years ago IMG_5920when I attended a book launch for my publisher in Kenya at the Serena Hotel. A cabinet level officer for education was at the event and made a simple request: "Our people are bored. Help us start libraries." I thought this suggestion was unusual for two reasons.

First, I had heard Kenyans were not that fond of reading. I had heard the derogatory but somewhat humorous saying that, "If you want to hide something from an African, put it in a book." Second, everyone else who was there that night was from IMG_5922Kenya. I was the only outsider, and I assumed if the Kenyans present were interested in libraries, they had had their whole lives to do something about their absence.

I decided to experiment and bring in some books during my subsequent visits, and the IMG_5923
interest in getting and reading them was intense among my friends. Then I started bringing suitcases of books when i came or brought others with me. Then we heard that people were shipping containers to Kenya with all kinds of supplies, and I hitched a ride, so to speak, in some of their containers to get even more books over. Finally, I started to fill and ship containers with nothing but books, used computers, and schools supplies to distribute to our partners.

IMG_5924During my last visit, I asked to go visit some of our libraries started by Pastor Peter Kihungi. We have two other libraries outside of Nairobi, but there are four IMG_5925started by Pastor Peter and these are the ones I am reporting on in this update. The first and biggest is in the village of Banana, about a 45-minute ride from Nairobi. There we have built a building to house our largest collection, and we now are equipped with Wifi so the youth can use the computers to access information online. The pictures of this library are pictured above (click on picture to enlarge it).

IMG_5941The second library is at the Kawaida Primary School close to Banana. This is a government school that is relatively new and shows progress every time I visit. The IMG_5942government built the school, but the community must supply and outfit it, so we gave some money for shelves a few years ago. As you can see in the pictures, the shelves are not sturdy enough and have sagged under the weight of the books. You can also see the use the books have had. Frederick, the headmaster, has asked for more books and another investment in shelves, which he promised would be built to handle a heavier load the next time.

IMG_5954The third library is in the village of Kikuyu, where there is an Anglican training IMG_5957center used for all types of educational endeavors. The day I visited there was a cooking school going on, and there are Bible classes and many other vocational offerings made available to the people. This library, like our other libraries, needs help with shelves, tables, and chairs. Many of the books they have cannot be put out permanently, so they are stored in boxes and brought out for special occasions.

IMG_5959The fourth library is located where Pastor Peter is currently pastoring at Christ the King Anglican Church in Ruaka, a growing area due to the recent opening of Two Rivers Mall, the largest mall in Africa, or so I am told. The church recently designated funds to build their own storage cabinets that lock, a significant investment IMG_5960that indicates they recognize the value of what they have for the youth of their community. They also established a nursery room with some of the books for the younger children, using a Disney theme, which is quite common in Kenya.

The need for our libraries is for shelving and library furniture. If you care to contribute, you can use my website to do so, or you can send a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221. If you know anyone or any organization that funds library projects, I know our libraries are worthy investments, and the resources will be put to good use with accountability for the results. If you have donated books over the years, thank you. I am not in the position right now to receive more books, but when I am, I will make the announcement. Right now, if you can help us care for the books we have sent by building shelves and tables, please give generously. Thank you and God bless you!


WEEP Update

In case you missed the announcement, PurposeQuest began partnering with the Women's Equal Education Project in April to provide sanitary products for young women so they can maintain good attendance in school. You can read more about the scope of WEEP's work in this update

Our good friend Belver Odhiambo, daughter of Pastor Francis, is our WEEP coordinator in Kenya who IMG-20180731-WA0049sent these two updates in June, along with pictures. Here is her latest report:

In the 21st century accessing sanitary towels is a necessity and no girl should stay at home during the 'rainy' days or maybe use rugs (yes, the young women use all kinds of substitutes if towels are not available). We say a big thank you to PurposeQuest for partnering with WEEP in making this need a reality by providing for at least 500 girls within Dagoretti Sub-county, Nairobi with  a packet of sanitary towels each month. 

Then here is her earlier report from May:

IMG-20180731-WA0009Sorry for the late update May was a month of many activities but we thank God for everything. We purchased 11 boxes and reached 489 girls altogether. The girls are in good health and are very grateful for the help that has now kept them in school, and they are able now to improve academically. We are also thankful for the big support and ongoing promise which will help the girls achieve their goals in life. Find attached receipts and photos of some girls 

You can partner with PurposeQuest as we support WEEP with $700 so they can purchase all the supplies they need to keep this important work going. You can give through our website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you for your help, and thank you, Belver, for coordinating the WEEP work in Kenya. 

Still Need Your Help

After I posted last week that I needed money for my upcoming trip to Kenya. a generous donor called to IMG_8749 say they would match every dollar you give up to $3,000. What a blessing that is! The deadline to give is next Sunday night, May 19, because I depart the next day. You can give through my Facebook link if we are friends there, or you can give through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. 

What we raise from this campaign will empower me to conduct leadership training like I did in 2016 and 2018 (the church's leadership team is pictured here) and also support our other partners in the good work they are doing. It enables me to cover all my expenses as I go and that is a great relief. As I write, I have received $1,186 so if we are going to reach the $3,000 goal, I need your help. Please give today and make the investment to double your blessing through this matching grant. Thank you and God bless you!


I Need Your Help - Again

I am heading over to Kenya in two weeks to conduct some leadership training and to connect with our IMG-20190419-WA0004partners. My first visit will be to Bomet where I will conduct two more leadership two-day seminars, which will make my fifth and sixth seminars in the area. We usually have around 100 to 150 at each so that means we are approaching 1,000 leaders trained in the times I have been there. I am raising $3,000 for those events, which include a video projector, seminar notes, and books. You can give through my website for donations or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. You can also give through my Facebook page.

IMG_20170828_113411In the last several weeks, I have sent money for our little Mary, who is in her second year of secondary school, so she is not so little any more. Pastor Francis reports that she is doing well and her performance bodes well for her chances of going on to university. I also sent money for the Upako teachers, who attended a professional seminar over the Easter break. We are blessed to have teachers who serve the Dr. Stanko Academy on a full-time basis.

Pastor Peter wrote to announce that he opened his seventh area library recently. IMG_3483 Here is his report:

We are well on course to empower Kenya through Education and now we have our seventh library in Ruaka. It's a combination of kids' exclusive library, movie room, and larger library. Thanks for being a faithful partner along with all our supporters. May God bless you in abundance.

Pastor Peter

I sent $300 toward our library expenses.

IMG-20190501-WA0004Then we got this report from Belver concerning the WEEP Project that provides sanitary supplies for young women in various schools. April was the first month that PurposeQuest began supporting WEEP with $650 per month:

We successfully managed to distribute sanitary towels to 534 students in the month of April 2019. Thank you for stepping in, in such a time and may your cup never run dry. God bless! Kindly find some of the girls pictures and receipts attached. Belver
 
There were other requests and expenses that we met in April. I need your help not only for the monthly expenses but for my trip that commences on May 20. Thank You, Lord, for your faithful provision and thank you for your generous support. I look forward to hearing from you in the next two weeks.

Exciting News: Merger between PurposeQuest and WEEP

In 2015, my son, John III, visited Kenya and heard that many young ladies missed a week of school 52487901_10219188894017049_6532024947974340608_nevery month because they lacked the necessary sanitary products to accommodate their monthly needs. He found this situation unacceptable, so he began his own nonprofit organization named the Women's Equal Education Project (WEEP). He engaged a team of ladies in Kenya to assist and began sending money every month so the supplies could be purchased. The ladies then went into certain schools, conducted a training session (I include pictures of John III in the class as the WEEP team trains), the young ladies registered to receive product every month, and then they could be assured of their sanitary supplies. The result: young women were properly using appropriate sanitary products and could attend school every month without interruption. What a blessing.

The program started in St. Theresa Secondary School with 100 girls, no small beginning, and today services almost 300 young ladies every month in that school. In addition, the program has expanded to include the following schools with the number of young ladies registered following:

  • Riruta Satellite Secondary School - 60
  • Riruta Israel Primary School - 50
  • Kids Empowerment Primary School - 36
  • Bethany Primary School - 70
  • Zeal Covenant Primary School - 22
  • Light Christian Primary School - 38
52487905_10219195743988294_8696288148436549632_nThat's a total of 570 women every month who are provided their sanitary products, and 352 women have "graduated" from the program.  All this takes place for a cost of $650 every month.
 
After prayer and discussion, we felt it best if we merged WEEP's operation into my nonprofit, PurposeQuest International, so we could assure the team in Kenya that resources would continue to be available and that the program can and will grow as PurposeQuest's donors embrace this important project.
 
Therefore, as of April 1, 2019, PurposeQuest will officially become the ministry source for WEEP's ministry team in Kenya. 
 
I have agreed to send the team two $325 payments every month to continue their important work. Will 52638808_10219188894257055_6718129716315815936_n you help? You can make a contribution toward WEEP's work through the PurposeQuest website (just mark WEEP in the memo) or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. My thanks to John Stanko III and his team in Kenya for their vision and commitment to this ministry. It is touching hundreds of lives and making the difference between academic success and failure for many women. I am trusting the Lord and the PurposeQuest donors to help continue building on the foundation that has been established.
 
Over the years, schools have asked me many times to provide sanitary products and I have been able to help sporadically. This merger will allow me to help our partners more consistently. I am delighted to do what I can to assist the young women of Kenya, and I hope you share my enthusiasm and will support this program with your prayers and finances. Thank you and God bless you!

Be Careful Who You Tell

Old Testament Joseph had two dreams and immediately told his family, but they were not too happy to Confidanthear they would all be bowing down to him in the near future. Joseph's eagerness to share with those who would and could not understand God's choice of their brother and son as the family ruler cost him more than a decade of his life in Egypt as a slave and administrator before God brought the dreams to fruition.

Contrast Joseph with Mary, the mother of Jesus, who didn't have a dream but rather an angelic visitation followed by divine appointments with the shepherds and then Simeon and Anna in the Temple when she took Jesus there to be dedicated.

After Gabriel announced she was pregnant, Mary did not tell anyone as far as we know, except Elizabeth her cousin, who was also with child in her old age. Mary was wise enough to know not to share what God had revealed to her to anyone except a person who could understand, and that person was Elizabeth--who had her own experience with a miraculous conception. Joseph was not as wise and paid a price.

After her visit from the shepherds and to the Temple, we are told that "Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19), and "then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart" (Luke 2:51).

The point is this: Be careful with whom you share your purpose and ideas for creative expressions. Not everyone is going to understand or be able to nurture and support the dreams and God ideas you have. Don't share them with just anyone unless you are looking for someone to talk you out of what you think you have heard. Then it should not be too hard to find people who will tell you "you're crazy" and who will remind you of your limitations and past failures.

Who is in your circle of confidants? People who will stimulate and challenge you to be more than you are today, or those who have a vested interest in you staying right where you are? The choice is yours and it may make the difference between years of wandering and days of living the life God has assigned you to live.

Choose wisely.


We Measure What We Value

I have written lately that we need to change the way we do church, which is the title of a book I am MeasurePicrevising to re-release this year. Part of the change is to stop measuring what we normally measure, which has been attendance and the offering total. I had an associate write and ask for clarification on this, and this is what I wrote him today:

*****

You had made a comment about more writing about what we should measure if not money and attendance. Here are today's thoughts from Seth Godin:

Don’t steal metrics

A thoughtful friend has a new project, and decided to integrate a podcast into it.

Talking to a producer, he said that his goal was to make it a “top 10 podcast on iTunes.”

Why is that the goal?

That’s a common goal, a popular goal, someone else’s goal.

The compromises necessary to make it that popular (in dumbing down the content, sensationalizing it, hunting down sort-of-famous guests and doing a ton of promo) all fly in the face of what the project is for.

It’s your project.

It’s worth finding your metrics.

A church will measure what is important to it, so the key is first to identify what is important and then find a way to measure it such as kids returning a second week after visiting once, number of "Amens" during a message (a form of feedback; the Cleveland Orchestra measures standing ovations), the number of givers instead of the offering amount, how many more people gave to missions this year over last year, etc. This is hard work, and sometimes almost impossible to measure, but we must try and then allow our metrics to shift and morph over time.

The old standard of behinds in the seats and dollars in the offering tells us something about what we value. When we change our values, God will then help us find ways to measure what is important to us instead of spinning results to convince ourselves things are not as bad as they really are. We need to change the way we do church!


One Final Thank You

Here is one final thank you from our year-end efforts to help our orphans, this time with their school IMG_20181207_174227_544fees. Here is a note from our friend and caregiver Alice (along with a picture of four of our orphans while on Christmas break at home with Alice):

Dear John,

A quick one to thank you very much on behalf of the children for school fees received.
 
A total of Kshs 278,229 was received in the following batches: 69,601 × 3 and 69,426.
 
Do pass our sincere appreciation to all those who have come together to see these children in school.
 
May the hands that have opened to give receive plenty of blessings.
 
Warm regards.
 
Alice
 
The children have ongoing needs. They are growing so they need clothes. As all children, they need to eat every day. Soon their school fees will be due again. I need you to join the ranks of the faithful supporters that make possible how we bless these children. Can you give toward their needs either through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882? Thank you and may God bless the children as they start another school term.

A New Year for Our Orphans

Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were good ones and that you found time to relax and enjoy God's IMG_20190103_095225goodness at this time of year. Now it is time to resume our normal rhythm and routine of life, and the same is true for the orphans we help care for in Kenya. I will be going over with a group of 21 people in February and will show them firsthand what we are doing there, but here is a report from Alice, who tends for the children (who are becoming young adults) at Each One Touch One Orphanage (the picture is of Phyllis and Gladwell as they head off to school this term). The reason the children look so good is because of Alice's tender care, and we shudder to think where the children would be without her:

Dear brother John,

We wish to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a Happy New Year.
 
We want to thank you for being there for us when we needed someone to uplift us. You have provided for us with a smile. You have striven to make our lives better and easier than you found us. You have wisely used the talents God gave to you to ensure that EOTOO children have eaten, are well clothed  and attend better schools in the hope of giving them a better tomorrow. The lives of our children turned around for the better when you showed up in their lives. Those that have matured through your care have seen Nuru now working as a sales lady, Tobias is ready to join a technical college this year to do a course in electrical engineering. Gaudencia has just completed her fourth form and the majority of the other children are in high school. It was the will of God that this change in the children come through you. It is not a mean feat and yet John, you still have a smile on your face
 
We take this opportunity together with the EOTOO children to wish you and your family God given health, love, peace and tranquility in the new year and and in all the days to come. We do extent the same wishes for our many friends whom we have met through you and wish all of them God's blessings.
 
This message comes to you from Alice,  the EOTOO team and all the children with lots of love.  With specific love from Phyllis, Gladwell, Elizabeth, Deborah and Obed who are here with me waiting to start a new term in their various schools on the 3rd of Jan.
 
I sent over money for school fees for the children mentioned above, as well as a gift for their Christmas celebration. The problem is that the children have ongoing needs. They are growing so they need clothes. As all children, they need to eat every day. Soon their school fees will be due again. While my name is mentioned above, I have always made it known that I cannot do and have not done alone what Alice describes above. I have had the help of many faithful givers, but I need you to join their ranks. Can you give toward their needs either through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882? Thank you and may God bless the children as they start another school term.

Achieving Greatness

Someone just wrote me to ask, What  must I do to achieve greatness? Here was my response:

develop yourself to be able to handle what you will need to do to achieve it = effective time management; find a message and learn how to deliver it; don't be limited to only Christian mentors/teachers; determine that your greatness will be to serve the needs of others and not your own.

Then he wrote back: Kindly explain this "develop yourself to be able to handle what you will need to do to achieve it"

I wrote back:

education/self-discipline/ongoing learning/grow in your capacity to handle more responsibility
 
never rely on your title or what you have done in the past; don't insist that people honor or recognize you; be content to influence and not control people
 
I finished with the passage from Philippians 2:19-23 in which Paul described what made Timothy great:

But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.

I asked the writer,  "Paul only saw one who did in his lifetime; can you be the one that others discover in theirs?"
 
The same question applies to you