One of the greatest lessons God is teaching me in Kenya is how to be generous. I’m surrounded by people who are generous with their time, their energy, their love, their forgiveness, their space, their food, and their money! At this time I’m a missionary fully funded by the generosity of others. I literally live day-to-day depending on other individuals for my bread and butter.
One of my biggest concerns when moving cross-country was leaving my househelp, Ann. Since the writing of this article, our relationship has only grown and God has asked me to become even more involved in her life and she in mine.
Working in the business of orphan care, I’m used to meeting people who are looking to give children up. But, Ann’s greatest desire is to have all of her kids with her. She is also passionate about the education of her children. She was removed from high school as a sophomore and forced to marry so that her family could collect the dowry. She is determined that her children, especially her three girls, finish school.
One specific example of this is her daughter, Valentine. Going to high school became unsafe because girls walking long distances alone are easy targets for rape. Distraught, Ann enrolled Valentine in a beauty school across the country where she and Ann’s grandchild would be safe. Valentine completed the program. The problem was, Valentine doesn’t want to work in the beauty industry. She wants to finish high school and try for university. So, Ann confessed to me this burden she was carrying to return Valentine to high school.
Before I went home in the fall, I sat down with Ann to help her make a budget including how to save for school fees each month so the money is there when payment is due. I was astounded to find her three oldest were going to high school for $180 a year. A YEAR. The two youngest were going to a local public school which cost $30 a year.
It was decided. I would find sponsors for Ann’s high school kids while I was home in the US. Asking for a one-time donation of $180 was really a piece of cake. I prayed that God would move in specific conversations so I would know it was time to share Ann’s story. Three sponsors stepped up for the 2019 school year.
I was planning to personally cover the $30 to keep Phabian and Emelda in school. Big sacrifice, I know… And God had something to say about it.
When I returned to my first hometown in Kenya to pack and pay school fees, I found that Ann had been able to move into the same town and keep her family together. She was so happy she was glowing. There was a problem, though. Phabian and Emelda were now attending a school which was not only subpar but teaching in a local language they didn’t speak. So they weren’t learning ANYTHING.
“Ok God, what are you asking me to do?”
In Kenya, if one child can get educated and a good job, the life of the entire family will improve because that one individual will support everyone as best as they can. I knew that investing in the youngest would yield results that would benefit everyone.
I requested information regarding tuition at a local private academy that I have a relationship with due to my own work. I staggered at the prices. I couldn’t swing that! Ann and I traveled to look at other schools in the area. It quickly became obvious that all the good schools were going to be way more than $30. So I made a mental pro and con list of the private academy I’d first considered. Con-expensive…Pro-I know the school and the teachers, The instruct in English 4 days a week and Swahili on Fridays. Most important: the school is on the same hill where the family lives, so Emelda won’t have to face a long, dangerous walk to and from school with only her second grade brother for a witness and protector.
It wasn’t too expensive. I could swing tuition, and books, and uniforms, and shoes, and backpacks. I’d have to make some different decisions personally, but it was worth it. The kids went for testing and after the whole family came over to my house for juice and cake to celebrate SCHOOL!
Before everyone left for the evening, we stood in my living room, held hands, and prayed. Valentine prayed for us. She thanked the living God and precious Jesus for loving them so much to send them people from America to change their lives. Holding hands, I looked each one of them in the eyes and said the way to honor their sponsors is to work hard in school. Then, when they finish school and have jobs, they should honor their mom by taking care of her they way she’s worked so hard to take care of them.
We’ve only taken care of school for 2019. But I know that the goodness and generosity of God covers every moment of our lives and he has 2020 sponsors all lined up!