September 21, 2021

We are getting ready to leave Nairobi, flying home in a few hours. It has been a good trip this year.

I am happy that a lot was accomplished. I arrived the first week of June with Albert and Yvonne Contreras. We started with visiting the widow’s groups and managed to visit the first two groups until the government shut down churches and social gatherings for 30 days. After two weeks of not being able to visit, we talked to the village Chief and received permission to meet. We now go every other week, visiting two separate groups and handing out 2 lbs of beans and 2 kilos of maize flour. There are others that are also feeding widows at this time, so they are really being blessed.

Then we began helping our older boys, or young men now, with opportunities for business and training.

Joseph is in his last year of certification for being an electrician. He has been a blessing at the boy’s home, putting in solar security lights, power to the church, repairing lights, switches and outlets in the dorm and main house. He is now giving lessons to some other boys in how to do basic electrical work.

Peter opened a posho mill where people take their maize for grinding into flour. He also sells beans, fresh maize, charcoal, chips (French fries made from a really cool machine) and other sell-able foods he has found. He recently married and now has a beautiful wife to help in the business.

Phylip is interning at the local mechanic’s shop in Kitale. He received a motorbike to make the trip each day and will eventually be able to start his own business.

Morgan will start school in computer and the IT field.

Mejja is going to trade school in Makatano to be certified in music publishing and recording.

Edwin is also at Makatano for plumbing. He has two more terms to finish.

Then, a month after I arrived, my nephew from Peoria, Az came for a visit.

While he was here, I had an opportunity to speak at the Kitale Men’s prison, the Kitale Women’s prison and to a meeting of the street boys.

August came and I spent the month by myself, with Edward, our administrator picking me up several times a week and driving me to the boy’s home.

Finally, it was time for the team to arrive. Tisa, Ryan, Jeni and eventually Margaret. We picked them up in Eldoret and headed out to the boy’s home immediately. All of them had been here many times before, and it was a nice reunion. We had a welcoming church service that Sunday, with a pot luck dinner afterwards. The team was greeted with colorful leis and dancing.

And a chicken

After that, every visit to Kipsaina included clothes, shoes, and toys for the young boys, along with more clothes for the village kids. We had a great party with all the toys provided, especially the sack race.

We continued with more widow’s meetings, handing out the maize flour and beans again. They are happier than ever before.

Ryan was able to also go to the men’s prison and hand out soap and bread to the inmates. The men said they had never been given bread by anyone before and were not given it in the prison cafeteria. The following opportunity, Tisa, Jeni and Margaret were also able to minister at both the men’s and women’s prisons. The women are given nothing as far as sanitary items. The pink packages in the photos are for them.

After Coney’s passing, we decided to keep half of his ashes at his favorite hunting spot in Wickenburg, and the other half in Kipsaina. He often counseled under an avocado tree named “The Hague”. And he was referred to as “Ocampo” the special prosecutor there. He was

After Peter’s wedding, with everyone dressed up, we had another church celebration dinner. Being all together for the ceremony and dinner afterwards, we took advantage of it and had our annual photo taken.

This year was the first year that all the village children in the area were all in school. Usually, as we drive through, we would see several kids minding the family animals or doing chores, out of school for lack of fees or uniforms. This year, I decided to make sure all of them were in class.

At the end of each year’s trip, we have a tailoring school graduation. It marks the end of the old class and the start of a new one. This years class had four students who started around a year ago. They each received a sewing machine, the materials needed, the instruction and then upon graduating, more supplies to help them start a business.

For our last Saturday there, the boys requested a smokie party. But before we eat, we have cake.

Then comes dinner.

One of the boys asked for bread and cheese. When I mentioned that I didn’t think he had ever had cheese, he responded it was the jam and crushed peanuts. Or peanut butter and jelly on bread. So we bought it.

As you can see, it was a productive trip this year. Upon arrival, there was a sad and different feeling. There had been many rumors in the village that MFO was never coming back. Propagated by former employees and friends, no less. Everyone was afraid and worried about their jobs, their livelihood and the existence of the orphanage and farm. But by the end of the trip, I think everyone knew MFO was here for good, no matter what. Please continue to pray for us. We have many, new things ahead of us, and appreciate all that pray and support us.

And on a lighter note, a few photos of Princess Lani.

Kwaheri from Nairobi, Mama Lani

August 4, 2021

One of the enjoyable parts of driving out to the boy’s home is passing all the village children who have now become a considerable number. They run to the truck, hoping for a lollipop. On Saturdays and Sundays, there are over 50, so I end up bring 150 lollipops to each visit.

The last few years, these kids have been giving me little notes asking for school fees, uniforms, school shoes and socks, school bags (backpacks), and mathematical sets. I tried to get as many as I could, but considering the numbers, it was difficult.

So this year, I decided to purchase as many of the kid’s uniforms and supplies as I could.. The little notes always get to me, so I started with lists for each child, so I could outfit each one completely. These are some of the notes.

Most of the kids do not know their clothing size or their shoe size, so it involves a lot of guesswork. I buy everything at a local store, Transnzoya Wool Shop, where the clerks help each time, figuring sizes and school colors. I have been giving them lollipops for years, so, they are always quick to help.

These are some of the kids we helped.

Cornelius
Emma
Mary and Nick

To all of you who have donated to Missions for Orphans and to those who have prayed for us, this is special thanks to you. These kids have been given more than they have ever had. I see them all dressed for school, and it brings tears to my eyes. Thank you.

From Kitale,

Mama Lani

June 16, 2021

The trip here started out bad. And only got worse. It was a Wednesday morning, and we were on the way to the airport when we heard breaking news that the I-10 was closed going both east and west, to all lanes. I live far, far out west, so driving the surface streets to the airport was not a happy thought. It took us longer then we anticipated, but we made it with time to spare.

As I checked in, I found out that the airlines I was using did not have a contract for luggage with the airline I was with flying out of the country. So, for a mere $80, they would let me check my luggage but….I would have to reclaim them in Chicago. Two large pieces of luggage and a carryon. That meant a cart. Plus I was meeting a couple, Albert and Yvonne Contreras, who also had two large pieces each. This was not sounding like fun.

We made it to Chicago, retrieved our luggage, found carts and set off for the international terminal. Not so bad yet. Just a few awkward pieces, but we had time to check everything in.

We arrive at the counter to check in, valid PCR test in hand, and the agent asks for our entry visa to Kenya. But because we knew we could buy one in Kenya, in the customs line, we had decided not to deal with the user-unfriendly website to purchase an online copy. What we did not know was that the rules had changed. The website had not been updated. All visas were to be online and printed out. At that point, we felt no shame in almost begging. All that luggage, and what to do now? The agents gathered together, little chickens cackling, discussing our plight, only to tell us that we could not board the plane without the visas. And it was non-negotiable. Our only option was to find a place to sit, try and get online with the Kenya Embassy and attempt to get the visa. So, the three of us, getting the free wi-fi from the airport, sit and try and answer all the questions, provide letters of invitation, all the addresses in Kenya they wanted, photos of our passports, 1 x 1 passport photos that I wished I had gotten from Costco, and pages inside Coney’s passport (thankfully I had it with me). It was difficult, yet we made it. We almost ran to the counter, only to have the same agents tell us it was too late. Boarding had ended. Which meant all the legs of this trip would no longer work. This was the only flight out. We were doomed to spend the night in the airport.

One small, bright moment. There was a McDonald’s.

So we pushed all of the luggage downstairs, ordered some food and tried to figure out what to do next. The travel agent that had scheduled our flights was not answering the phone, so our only option at this point was sleep at the airport watching over 9 pieces of luggage, or get a hotel.

We called around, found a hotel that provided a shuttle from the airport and back the next day. Made the reservation, but had to call another desk at the hotel for the shuttle. It was 10:15 p.m. The shuttles were not longer running. So… we tried to find a taxi. Three SUV taxi’s looked at our luggage and kept driving. Too much work packing the vehicle and driving a mile or two meant it wasn’t worth their trouble. It took a while, but someone finally had mercy and stopped. We made it to the hotel, and thanked the Lord.

Next morning, we printed out our online visas, packed the shuttle with our luggage and drove back to the Chicago airport. We now had a new airline and a new route which added an additional layover. So we found carts again and thankfully were the only passengers at check-in.

A new wrinkle. The agent of the airlines told us that we needed a new, regular Covid test to enter Frankfurt, per Frankfurt international travel regulations. And…amazingly there was a place in the airport, at a cost of course, that we could get results. At least, we no longer had the large luggage, just the carryons and backpacks. We trekked the airport, eventually crossing under the street to another section and paid for a covid test that gave somewhat immediate results. Then back to the gate for departure.

Now we are flying to Montreal before heading to Frankfurt, Germany. The new schedule from the travel agent has some added stops.

We make it to Frankfurt, we stop at a restaurant inside the airport and have lunch, and then head over to the gate of departure. They ask for our PCR test results, not the regular Covid test which was never asked for, they only wanted at our original PCR test. Because of the delay, entrance into Kenya was denied, because the 96 hour window had expired. And we couldn’t convince them otherwise. But….fortunately for us, there was a place at the airport we could get the test. At a cost. Do you see a pattern here?

This place was hard to find, we spent over an hour looking for it, being directed to the wrong area and ending up at passport control. We had missed the plane by now, had to change plans again. We had the tests and had to wait between 4-6 hours for the online results. But we had a new airline to fly, with another added stop.

Addis Ababa.

I can’t say this trip was boring.

We finally made it to Nairobi, and of course our flight plans from there to Eldoret had changed. Originally we were flying out on Friday to be picked up and driven to Kitale. But now, because we had flown in to Nairobi around 6 p.m. on Saturday evening, we needed to stay at a guest house for a night and fly out at noon on Sunday. But there was another problem. The Nairobi airport had only half of our luggage. We were missing two containers and a large suitcase. They couldn’t find them. A report had to be filed. But we were in Kenya finally.

It ended well eventually. Our suitcases were found in Frankfurt, and flown to Kenya 6 days after we arrived. The days since have been busy and rewarding.

I will never fly here without a entry visit again. And I will have to skip Christmas to pay for all the flight changes.

But it is worth it.

From Kitale, Kenya

Mama Lani

October 24, 2020

On the road again….

This time, we took our team to a different area in the Pokot bush, a village called Masol. It took about 5 hours to get there, the last hour a dirt road filled with running creeks, pot holes the size of Kansas, and sticker bushes that ripped your skin off if your arm was outside of the vehicle. We took 18 people with us, for 5 days, the van carrying most of the mattresses.We never have a problem getting people who would like to go on the outreaches, we usually have too many and have to tell them “next time”.

We ended up at an abandoned school and dorm that was built by a man seeking a political position. He built all the structures, even running the electric and plumbing lines, then when he did not receive the position, he left it to fall apart. There were even bunk beds for everyone.

But we took the opportunity to use it all, bringing in several hundred people for each morning service and evening revival.

We had several of the traditional Pokot visit us, young and old, staying for most of the week with us.

And we never forget the ladies that cook for us. We had goat every night, along with cabbage, ugali and always, tea. Didn’t eat the goat, preferred peanut butter and jelly stashed in my room. But these ladies cooked it all. I brought earrings for each of them and we had shower caps (their favorite). Thanks Dawna!

It is always exciting to go to these villages. The people are warm and friendly, they appreciate the services and especially like the 3 meals they get every day. It is truly a joy to be here. Sticker bushes and all!

From Masol,

Mama Lani

October 2, 2020

Today was a really good day.

We hadn’t had a widow’s meeting in over a year, and had seen a few of our widows in church, but had not gathered them all together. With the COVID crisis, they were not allowed to meet, so today was an opportunity for all of them to get together. We were overwhelmed by the 204 widows/widowers that showed up.

This photo was taken before we started and by the end, we ran out of chairs and filled the foyer with late-comers.

It is always a blessing to see all of our mamas and papas. I was asked to greet everyone and as I stood there looking out, I could barely get the words out because of the emotion I felt when I realized how fortunate I am to be helping them, fellowshipping with them, and providing extra food for them and their families. It’s an opportunity for which I am incredibly thankful.

We passed out beans and sukumawiki for every person (along with a lollipop). Normally, we give them a smaller amount of beans, but today, we accidentally used a larger container to scoop out the beans, and they were doubly blessed. We gave out 1000 lbs of beans. They were excited!

While we are here, we will have a meeting twice a month, and it will hopefully continue after we return to the States.

We reassured them that we will continue to provide food, rebuild any houses that have roofs that leak, (100 inches of rain a year) and will take care of them in a medical emergency.

As everyone left, with big smiles and sincere thanks for everything, the mood of the meeting was pure joy. These widows have never had continued help from anyone or any organization. There are no social services here. Most are unbelievably poor, and have never known anything but poverty. Coming here, working with them and providing a small amount of their need is overwhelmingly fulfilling.

It was definitely a very good day.

Kwaheri from Kipsaina

Mama Lani

August 29, 2020

One of the really special parts of working in Kenya is knowing the boys that live on the compound. They are referred to as the “orphan boys” but I have come to realize they are not orphans any more, they have many people in their lives now that love them, pray for them and are generous to their needs.

Occasionally, there has been an addition to the home, two years ago, Isaac and Bryan came to live there, and have been a wonderful addition to the family.

This year, we recently heard that one of the village boys, Jamal, had moved in.

Jamal was a very familiar face to me, he was one of the first to run out for a lollipop, and continually let me know of school needs that he had. He has a sweet personality that everyone who has visited seems to enjoy, even some who have taken a special interest in him.

Our house mother, Isabel reported to us that Jamal seemed to be without family to take care of him, and was dirty, hungry and full of jiggers in his feet.

She talked to his “aunts” who lived in the area, and he was allowed to move in and have regular meals, clean clothes and a lot of brothers to be with. The change was immediate.

We have several young men who were at the compound when we started in 2012, who have married, have families and are making a living. We still have 15 left that are in school, needing our support and who will eventually move out themselves. Jamal has become one of them.

This is what we get to do, watch them grow up, see the changes in their lives and know that people who care are there for them.

It is truly rewarding.

Thank you to all of you who have generously given to this cause, who helped us buy the land that the boys live on, who have given clothes, supplies, medicine, school fees, finances and love.

These boys will never be the same thanks to you.

Mama Lani

July 18, 2020

110 degrees today in Phoenix, Arizona with no hope for rain until next week. If we were in Kipsaina, it would be rainy, cool and green. Oh, how I miss it.

The crops there are doing very well, our tea plantation is producing more than ever, and we have an abundance of vegetables.

Unfortunately, with the ban on people meeting together for church services, or large groups, our widows have not been able to meet together as often as before. Edward, the boy’s home father, met with the local village chief to ensure that the widows could meet to receive food.

This coming Sunday, the church will be able to open with a restriction of 100 people, social distancing, sanitizing, masks and a temperature gun. Only one hour for the meeting and no children. But at least they can meet together.

We have heard that international flights might start up soon and are hoping to be able to make a trip in September. We’ve been gone since the first week in October and this is the longest we have ever been AWOL. Not only do I miss the widows, but the boys and the village kids are a huge part of my life now. I am really looking forward to getting back. I am believing that will be soon.

Sweating in Phoenix,

Mama Lani

May 1, 2020

I wanted to share with everyone that the corona virus has barely touched Kipsaina, the boy’s home and surrounding village. I am in communication with Isabel, the house mother, and she knows of no one there being sick. And other missionaries we talk to say that Nairobi has most of the people infected by the virus.

We thank God for helping our people, and believe that the quarantine will end soon, the planes will again fly and we can return.

In the mean time, I wanted to share a picture of one of the small structures we are building in the Pokot area. There are many churches popping up, many people being saved, and no place for them to meet except under a tree. So we are having these built allowing them to meet together, out of the sun and rain.

We appreciate that through our donors, we can do this. The appreciation of the Pokot people is heartfelt.

We hope to return in August, if the country is opened up and appreciate your prayers that we can.

From Arizona,

Mama Lani

October 7, 2019

Our last week in Kenya began with a wedding. Our new pastor, Tom, was marrying his wife. Well, technically not his wife, but as far as Kenyan culture, she was. Most couples had prayers said over them and no marriage certificate, so we had a full-blown wedding. Isabel, the house mother, lent her a dress and veil. Some of the young women fixed her hair, loaned her jewelry, and I had wedding rings available. Thank you Amazon.

The ceremony takes time, just walking the bride with her entourage, takes quite a while. The cake even has a procession and takes almost as long as the bride to get to the front of the church. But everyone loves weddings, and they always get excited to see one.

Everyone in the church received a small piece of cake. It was dry and had little sugar in it, but it didn’t matter. Everyone wanted a piece!

A few days later, we had our last widow’s meeting on this trip. But on the way to the church, we had a “puncture”. Within minutes, even before Coney could get the spare down, we had a small crowd of helpers. They jacked up the truck, took off the lug nuts, and tried to get the spare down. Coincidentally, we had helped one of the volunteers the day before. His truck had slid into a ditch because of the muddy roads, and we pulled him out. I am always amazed at how willing everyone is to help in the time of need.

Once we arrived at the church, the widows were singing and waiting for everything to start. We had beans and sugar for each one. Sugar being the one that made them smile.

The store where we bought the sugar gave us 70 bags of sugar with 2 kilos in each bag. We give each widow one kilo. We have 140 widows, so this presented a problem. We had to split each bag in half. Quickly, everyone got upset. We had a small riot, and I had to get Coney to come in and keep the peace. His voice was the only one loud enough to quiet everyone down. We had to pair each widow/widower and let them divide the bag between them.

A small amount of chaos but with a happy ending. Sugar here is a blessing to each one. They can have sugar in their tea, which gives them energy. Especially if they have little else available. We have heard of people breaking into houses in Kitale and only taking the sugar.

I understand completely. I feel the same way about doughnuts!

We will return next year. I will miss my mamas. They are a delight and a blessing!

Kwaheri from Kipsaina,

Mama Lani

September 18, 2019

This was our third trip to outlying areas in 5 weeks. And the longest driving. We were heading for Kakuma, where the U.N. Refugee camps are located. We stayed in Lodwar for the night and left early on Sunday morning for service. It was a 6 hour trip from Kipsaina to Lodwar, and the road in not like anything in America. As the tarmac (roadway) is being built, there are dirt side roads that you continually drive onto, enormous potholes and bumps that jolted us high in the air. I miss the I-10 if you can believe that.

About 2 hours from Kipsaina, we start driving in Turkana land. This is a massive area for the Turkana tribe, some very desolate landscapes, washes that flooded out areas and villages, and some with mesquite trees covering everything.

Camels along with sheep and goats are the main herds. We saw very few cows, goat being the main dish. It was fascinating when we came to waterhole areas, especially with all the camels.

The Turkana people are peaceful now, but up until about 12 years ago, they were making raids to areas just north of Kipsaina, stealing livestock and murdering people. The Turkana and the Pokot have warred against each other for hundreds of years and still have occasional raids into each other’s land. There are many, many widows and orphans.

We reached Kakuma about 2 hours after leaving Lodwar, just in time for church. We had been to the Congolese church 18 months ago, and the change was huge. We had built them a new building and it was packed full. We had 5 different choirs from the area, and the worship team had African drums, a guitar and bass guitar and was loaded with talent!

The building seated a couple hundred people and flowed out onto a shaded area.

We were there for the grand opening of the building and the cutting of the ribbon.

This was just one camp, where the Congolese gathered. Their church was filled with different nations, South Sudanese, Somalian, Ethiopian and the Turkana of the area.

The last choir to sing was Turkana women and girls in full dress. This was a real miracle because the Turkana are heavily into witchcraft and superstition. This song is about Jesus.

It was a blessing to be invited here for the grand opening of the church. We ate lunch with some of the pastors. Coke, peanuts, deep fried pieces of beef and French fries (chips). And some kind of donut that I ate exclusively. I was happy.

The trip back to Lodwar was highlighted when we came through a village where the men were readying for a wedding. They were doing a “dona” dance. Usually, they prefer not to be photographed, but these guys welcomed and enjoyed the cameras.

Frank (in the middle) prayed with the men. They respectfully took off their headdresses when they prayed. This was a really cool moment!

***

The trip home on Monday was again bumpy, jolting and long. But we had stopped and bought bread and bottles of water for some of the children along the way. Coming in, they had stopped us begging for water and food. We were ready this time.

The trip was educational, full of cultures and a blessing of which to be a part. We will return next April. I’m believing for another adventure.

Kwaheri from my couch in Kitale,

Mama Lani