Stories and Testimonies

 

  • Blankets” by Danika Langley

Returning to Kenya this past summer, for my 5th trip, I truly realized how much I cherish the relationship I have made with the Kenyan people. Whether it’s the dear Expansion International Africa staff or the Pastors – who we are so privileged to be partnered with – I always seem to learn something profound from them. This year wasn’t any different, however instead of being influenced by something that was said, I was impacted by things that were done. I was given a task by friends in America to deliver a couple of blankets to a mother and her children who lived in Bahati, whom they had been supporting over the last couple years. I actually forgot about it until almost the end of the trip, luckily I remembered and was able to step away from the clinic to go deliver the blankets to them. It was a sweet time and it was clear that she was so incredibly thankful for the blankets, as well as expressing her thanks to God for His faithfulness in their lives. What meant the most to me was the person who helped me find this sweet family’s home. Josiah is a man who lived in the Kieni refugee camp. He has the sweetest soul and a pure heart of compassion. He is a Godly man who has been put into a place of leadership in this newly relocated community. I was really taken back by his willingness to help me find this home and to help us in whatever we needed while we were working in Bahati. It is a clear picture of the body of Christ. As Christians we have one goal in mind and we realize that we each can be used in different ways for the greatest outcome. I am so very thankful for my Kenyan and American brothers and sisters that make these trips so worthwhile and how God so faithfully unifies us to do His work.

  • “Beth’s Thanksgiving”
BAH22

Beth and her family in front of their former home.

BAH 22 - Beth Wanjiru Kimani

Beth and her family in front of their new brick home.

Meet Beth Wanjiru Kimani, one of the many recipients of a home through the Connect-A-Family Program. Before she received a brick and mortar house, Beth was raising her six children, ages 4-17 yrs old, in a canvas and stick lean-to that was barely able to keep the rain off their heads at night, if not their feet and beds. Thanks to a Boise, Idaho family that chose to partner with Beth, this single mother of six can now provide a shelter for her children – a dry, safe, and secure home.

 

To celebrate her new home, Beth wrote a letter of thanksgiving showing how deeply this new home impacted her and her children.

 

Beth Wanjiku's letter

“My name is Beth Wanjiru Kimani and I am happy that you help me to build a house.

I am very thankful for your support and I say “God Bless you so much.”

Life before having this home was very hard because it was very cold and rain could rain on us.

Now life is easy and comfortable thanks to you, my children are also very happy and they are very proud of their new home, yours faithfully.

Beth Wanjiru Kimari”

 

  • A Beautiful Change

Allison Gee, a junior high student at Hillside Junior High in Boise, Idaho, learned of Hosanna Children’s Home in Kenya last Christmas.  Her church, Eagle Nazarene, decided to supply Christmas gifts to all of the children at the orphanage–sweatshirts, backpacks and food for the holidays.  Allison decided that she could help to do more.

She took it upon herself to learn about some of the needs they have at Hosanna and then she presented a proposal to her teacher and her Character Education Club at school. She called it “A Beautiful Change.” The idea was to collect change among the students–pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters…whatever the students could give, to purchase new school uniforms for the kids of Hosanna.  Allison’s idea was approved and together the students were able to raise $300.

Expansion International and Hosanna Children’s Home wants to say thank you to the students of Hillside Junior High for making a difference in the lives of kids in Kenya and we also want to say thank you to Allison Gee for leading the way and being a change maker!

A Church for Subukia

NT Church

New Subukia Church

A lot of changes have taken place in the community of Subukia this past year. Not only have 50 new brick homes been completed, a church, has been erected there as well.

As an organization, we are blessed to be able to see the church on a global scale and to witness Christ’s body working together in unity to accomplish His purposes. At Expansion International believers from all over the U.S. partner with believers in Kenya on a regular basis and everyone has an integral role to play. This was indeed the case with Subukia church.

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Church congregation

God doesn’t just take one person and their gifts to bring about His  plan, although He very well could. Instead He chooses to work  collectively through us as a group and He uses whatever we have to  give, no matter how small to accomplish the big things He has in  store.

Eagle Nazarene, a church located in Eagle Idaho and a partner of  Expansion International had their hand in helping to make this new  church a reality. A small group of people from the congregation  provided funds for the foundation of the church, while another  church member paid for the roofing. A class raised money which went to pay for the bricks and a church family pitched in and was able to supply funds for the doors and the windows. With the help of Eagle Nazarene, the Subukia church was able to be fully funded, however, it still needed to be built.

This is where the community of Subukia stepped in. They came together and supplied the labor for the church building to be erected. Members of the community then contributed further by bringing in chairs so that the church seating would be furnished. Expansion International donated both Bibles and hymnals written in the local languages of Swahili and Kikuyu to aid the church during services.

Praying over Church

The new church being prayed over

The community recently held an event to celebrate the opening of the new church. At this gathering the church was dedicated and prayed over. It now serves the community as a source for prayer, worship, fellowship, and spiritual growth.

God has not only taken care of the physical needs of the people of Subukia, by supplying them with homes and land to farm. He has also provided for their spiritual needs with the opening of the new Subukia church and He used His universal church body to do it. We serve a big God and we know that He will continue to lead us in the progress of Subukia as it develops into a thriving community that glorifies Him. 

  • “God is so Good” by Peter and Anne  

Peter and AnneMeet Peter and Anne, they are former IDP’s (internally displaced peoples) from the Kieni refugee camp. They lost their home and land during the tribal clashes in Kenya, back in 1992 and have been displaced ever since. They stayed in the Kieni refugee camp for 12 years and are now in their 70’s.On September 14, 2013, the government officially presented 800 Kieni families with checks to purchase their own land and relocate out of the Kieni refugee camp. Around 200 families from the camp joined together and purchased land in the areas of Subukia and Bahati which is a few hours away from where they lived in Kieni.

While the money from the government was enough to help the Kieni people buy land, it was not enough to also build them homes. Many are still in desperate need of shelter.Here at Expansion International, we have been working with the Kieni camp to bring health services, education, job skills training, and spiritual development since our formation in 2008. Expansion International has been intricately involved since the relocation to help supply the former Kieni people with construction jobs and to provide them with home building materials and crops to plant.

Peter and Anne were one of the first families to receive a home from the Expansion International building project. They are seen pictured above in front of their completed house and this is what they had to say,

“God is so good and faithful, for twelve years we sleptPeter and Anne home in a shelter where children took our blankets while we slept. We now have a bedroom. We lost one acre of land during the tribal clashes, but God has given us 3 acres of land for farming. Our mud house was burned down,  but God has given us a brick house. What can we say? We are so, so excited. Thanks to God and thanks to Expansion International.”

To watch a video telling the story of the Keini people in detail click HERE.

To learn more about Expansion International’s Building Project click HERE.

To learn about how to sponsor a family like Peter and Anne to have their own home built click HERE. 

 

  • “Use what we are given”  by Kyle Peterman

IMG_6175I have been lucky enough to be a member of three teams that have gone to Kenya – two in summer 2012, and one in summer 2013 – each with distinctly different memories and amazing experiences throughout. There are so many aspects of the trips that make them great and memorable – the people on your team from the US and Kenya, the work itself, the wildlife…but the most amazing aspect for me of going on a trip is how different everyone is and how God uses each person differently throughout the trip.

My first trip to Kenya challenged me in ways that I never thought I would be challenged. I knew I would see people who were poor, and that it would be hard. But I did not expect to be crippled with the realization of everything that we have been given (in the US), and the guilt that surrounds realizing all of that.  That guilt was something that stayed with me through my experience and really dug at me until the second trip in 2013.This last summer (2013) I was in charge of our triage section; checking patients in, getting blood pressure, weight, and basic information before people could see the physicians in the camp.

During the second week of clinic, we were in the Amboseli National Park area, and I had a chance to spend a good amount of time with my translator, Joseph, and his friend. Joseph’s friend had quite an eye for my watch, and I was admiring his hand made club and walking stick. We spent the slow time in triage going back and forth, trying to find a fair deal that would please both parties. Two days later, we had a deal – my watch for his stick, his club used to fight predators, and a traditional Maasai beaded bracelet.After our bartering deal was done, I had a chance to really connect with both Joseph and his friend. I thrive off of conversation and engaging with people, and finding out peoples’ story is one of the most amazing things I can think of.

Through talking with both Joseph and his translator I found out that they were both my age or younger (24), finished with schooling, and had a family to take care of. On top of that, their livelihood depended on tourists coming into their village to buy souvenirs and some conservation work that I’m sure didn’t pay much. I felt like we literally couldn’t be any different; we were in totally opposite environments, I had so much, and it seemed like they had so little. Yet despite their circumstances, where their income came from, or how rough they had it, both men showed up day in and day out to the camp to help their people with a smile on their faces.

2013-06-27 11.30.36Showing up to help God’s people, even if it meant putting everything else on hold. It floors me still to think about this, and the fact that we both ended up in the same place for give or take the same reasons is amazing! Regardless of what we had and what conditions we lived in and were born into, we gathered under One purpose and meaning – to spread love and compassion to those around us and those who need it most. My experiences with Joseph and his friend helped me realize that it didn’t matter “why” we had what we had. Those two literally had nothing compared to the rest of us, but none of that mattered.

Joseph and his friend used everything God had given them for the good of their own villagers and to do what they believed in and followed after Christ. It wasn’t a lot, but it was impossible not to see the impact that it had. Why can’t we do the same? God has given us an incredible opportunity with all the resources we need to make a difference – use what we are given. 

  • Danielle and Maasai women“He Can Use Me” by Danielle Moceri

“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.”

– 1 Corinthians 1:27

I have always identified with this and over the course of my life I have seen God’s hand move mightily in and through my weaknesses. My name is Danielle Moceri and I have been blessed to be a part of Expansion International and their work in Kenya, Africa. I have made so many life-long friends and connections in Kenya over the past ten years and I look forward to making many more.

This past summer during an Eagle Nazarene mission trip in 2013 I met another friend named “Naomi” who lives in Loitoktok. Naomi was an employee at one of the hotels in the National Park where we were. She came to our medical clinic to be treated by the doctors, but she didn’t just want to be treated medically; she wanted someone to hear her story, and to pray with her. I had the honor of being able to pray with Naomi that day. A few years earlier Naomi had found a cancerous tumor on her body. She had the tumor removed and explained to me how God had miraculously healed her. She trusted God with her life and had seen Him come through for her many times before, but like many of us, she was starting to doubt if He would come through once again.

Turns out that Naomi has a child whom she feared was not going to be able to stay in school. Although she works very hard, she is a single mom and doesn’t make enough money to pay for her son’s schooling. She didn’t have a husband and didn’t know where the money was going to come from. That’s when the Lord led me to share from my own personal struggles.

My husband and I had just moved across the country not even a year earlier and we were suffering financially from the move. We knew God had told us that He would be with us, and so we headed out from Florida to Idaho. We found ourselves living with relatives. I was going to school and between the two of us we were working 3 jobs. We were doing all of this while trying to raise money for this upcoming mission trip. There were many times I got discouraged. I knew God had come through for me in the past, but I still doubted how He was going to do it in the present. I felt like I was going through a roller coaster ride of emotions when I was raising money for this missions trip. It was something that meant a lot to me, and I was afraid to be disappointed. Nevertheless, my husband and I still felt strongly that we supposed to go on this trip despite the financial hardships.

I remember my husband and I were two thousand dollars short and the deadline for when the money was due was only one day away. I just knew that there was no conceivable way we were going to get that money and so my attitude began to sour. All our donors had already given, and we had no way to pay what was still due. I remember crying. I didn’t want to get my hopes up just to be disappointed. I cried out to God (not in faith) but in anger. I even began to question whether I had even heard His voice in the first place. Did he not want us to go? Were we even supposed to have moved here? To my surprise the money came into the ministry that night. It came while I was candidly crying out to God. It came anonymously and I still don’t know how it happened, but if it hadn’t then I wouldn’t have been there talking with Naomi.

Danielle and childI shared about the times God had come through for me in the past. He provided me with shoes when mine my only pair had worn out. He provided us with money for groceries at the last minute when we didn’t know how we would get by the next week. He even provided us with a free car to drive when ours broke down. As we have prayed, God had always met our needs and I was sure he would meet Naomi’s as well. 2 Timothy 2:13 says, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself.”

I shared with Naomi from my own struggles. The ones that I had just went through a month earlier.  Then she shared with me. We cried together and prayed for one another as sisters in Christ. Then, the tears turned to joy and laughter. It was a beautiful moment that I will not forget. A moment God used to minister to us both. Whether we live in Idaho or Kenya, we are more alike than we realize. We are humans who despite all that God has done for us, still at times doubt. But He is not like us. He always remains faithful, despite our weaknesses. In fact, He uses us often because of our weaknesses. This trip reminded me not to be afraid of my imperfections as though they will somehow disqualify me from doing anything significant for God. Rather, our weaknesses at times give us access to a strength beyond us, God’s strength. So, I am encouraged. He can use even me.

• “God Incidence” by Laura – A Sponsor in the High School Scholarship Program
Hello and God Bless! My name is Laura and I have such a neat story to share. While at a conference in California with my mom, we had the privilege of meeting Michele who was sharing about your program. We heard about the Kenyan Kids that need our financial help for schooling. I definitely wanted to support. I narrowed it down to 4 kids, we flipped their cards over, mixed them up, asked God for guidance and picked A. Kamau and her Expansion International number is N51.

After the weekend was over, on my plane ride home, I was reading articles from the Sonoma Magazine “Upbeat Times” and came across this article about a cheetah named Kamau. As I was reading it I thought to myself “I swear that’s my little Kenyan girls’ name!” Sure enough it was!

Kamau means “Quiet Warrior” in Swahili and is the name of my girl. What a God-incidence? And then when writing out my check realized its check # 151 and her number is N51.

I hope you enjoy,
Thank you, Laura 

• “Do you remember me?” by Danika Langley – Spring 2012 Mission Trip
I was blessed to be a part of the trip to Kenya that went in March of 2012. This trip was my third trip to Kenya. Every time I have gone, we get to do medical clinics at the Kieni Refugee Camp. After being there even once, you build relationships with the people that are so dear to you. Three visits to the camp make life- long friendships. When I went to Kenya for the first time in 2009 with my family, we all fell I love with a little girl named Wachiku. Wachiku was quiet, not really sure how to act around white people. We would try to get her to say hi or what her name was or one of our names but she wouldn’t, she would just stand there and stare at us. We left her that year, not knowing anything about her but that she was precious.

I had the privilege of returning to Kenya the following year with my dad and my older brother in 2010. When we went back to the refugee camp, we got to see a lot of the same people that we had already seen the year before. One of the people that I saw was Wachiku. She was actually the first person I saw when I got off of the bus. I went right to her and I shook her hand and said, “Do you remember me.” She replied with a huge smile and said “Friend!” I was so happy; I couldn’t believe that she would remember me. The last time she saw me was a year a before and only for a couple days. Since that moment, she didn’t leave my side the whole time we were at the camp. She would talk to me all the time; however it was in Swahili so I had absolutely no clue, what in the world she was saying. I asked one of the Pastors what her name was and that is when he told me it was Wachiku. Ever since then I have always felt a strong connection with that little girl. I was very sad to leave her in 2010 because we had become good friends and she was very special to me.I was overjoyed to join the mission team again in spring 2012 and go back to the place where I left my heart but also to see the people that I had grown to love and miss dearly.

While on the bus to the Kieni Camp, I was very excited but almost sad because in my mind I was thinking the people won’t remember me. When we pulled up to the camp, my heart sunk as I looked around and saw all the kids standing there waiting, but I didn’t see Wachiku. I got off the bus happy to see all the little kids and adults I did remember.Then I looked up to see Wachiku sprinting out of the forest, up the hill and straight into my arms. She remembered me!! This was also the first time I had seen her truly happy and full of joy. She would sit with me, loved being tickled and kept holding my hand. She would sing with me and when I would ask her questions, she would answer them, in English!! It was great. She actually said my name, multiple times and she would laugh and laugh. She is so adorable. I will remember Wachiku all my life and the great times we had together. I thank God for her! 

• “He reminded me…keep looking” by Kristine Turner – 2011 Mission Team 2
The day we went to the Kieni Camp was one of joy and heartache and so much love. Nothing prepared me for the conditions in which these people live in every day. And yet, more importantly than that, nothing prepared me for the deep and relentless hope and joy that they have in Jesus. As I began to walk through rows of houses, I was at a loss for words; there were so many thoughts going through my head. But then I heard the most precious thing—the sound of little bare feet running behind me, slap-slapping on the wet mud—and two little hands slipped into mine. I curled my fingers around their small hand and looked down at these beautiful girls, and then at the other two girls walking with the rest of our little group.

The two that were wearing shoes much too small for them, their clothing was torn in places and covered in dirt, their noses were running, and flies were all around them. But they had the most infectious laughter and smiles. In that moment, I had a realization. I may not ever understand why some people find themselves living like the people in Kieni and why others have four cars and enough to eat every day. But God used those girls in that moment to show me that none of that matters as long as I love people as He loves me. Walking hand in hand with His children, God reminded me what love really is. Later that day God’s Kingdom came to earth as our team joined with the Kieni people in a time of worship.

There we were—lame, mute, deaf, blind, white, black, healthy, ill, young, old—dancing and praising our Lord together. God revealed Himself to me in a whole new way through the Kieni people. He reminded me that there is always a reason to hope in Him and praise Him regardless of the circumstances. He reminded me that everything I have comes from Him and only Him. He reminded me that when I don’t understand what His plan is, I just need to keep looking to Him, keep looking for Him, and love His people. I cannot wait to return to Kenya. The people of that country will forever and always hold a special place deep in my heart. 

• “No Doubt” by Colette Blair – 2011 Mission Team 3
“My 9 year old son cried out to God for healing as his friends carried him home.” These words were spoken by Pastor John, one of my dear Kenyan brothers, as I sat next to him on our ride to the medical clinic in Kirasha. He was one proud father! Proud, because his son had cried out to his Heavenly Father in simple childlike faith as he was in terrible pain from an accident at school. He wasn’t ashamed, embarrassed, or quiet in front of his friends as he called out for healing. Pastor John was so pleased that his son didn’t first call out for him, his earthly father, but in his great pain and need he immediately called out to his Savior. As Pastor John and I shared together about his son’s painful injury and his immediate belief of healing, I was overcome with emotion. How often do I first call for human help or try and fix overwhelming problems myself, rather than cry out to my Heavenly Father who so desires to be my Healer in every spiritual or physical situation? How often do I quietly pray after the fact, with a bit of doubt in the back of my mind, always leaving a “door” open for my Father if He chooses not to do what I ask? “Your will be done,” I pray with the opt out option for God. Am I afraid to cry out to God in total belief? Am I ashamed to call out confidently, loudly, in faith, for fear of what others may think? Do I believe that God is my healer, that He is more than enough for me? The lyrics that I sing so often, are they just words or truly a conviction that defines my life? I say I believe and yet so often live my Christian life overshadowed with doubt regarding what God can really do!

Pastor John’s 9 year old son was and is an amazing example to me. His first immediate response was a fearless, confident, childlike prayer to his Heavenly Father. My Healer is just waiting for me to cry out to Him in every situation, for any need. Lord, make me like a little 9 year old, Kenyan boy. May my first response be belief in You. May I live my life with an immediate, fearless, confident faith not in man or self, but in my Savior, my Healer, Jesus Christ. May I leave doubt behind and live daily in certainty that the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Kenya is the same yesterday, today and forever for me. There is no doubt.

By the way, Pastor John’s son was healed. There was no doubt.

• “Dress for my jacket” by Michele Miles – 2010 Mission Team

Driving my friend Victoria through downtown Boise and I spot a fellow on the sidewalk sporting a royal blue jacket with orange stripes down the trunk. It is a familiar jacket boasting the Boise State Bronco colors. It is a jacket similar to the one I traded away in a Kenyan Masai market a few years back.

The Masai market: open Fridays on the top floor of a European shopping center in NE Nairobi. It is a familiar stop for the teams that travel to Kenya with Expansion International. Native African art and crafts skillfully carved and woven lie in various piles on the floor with vendors inviting you to look and buy. I have several items throughout my home from this market – baskets, wooden bowls and spoons, artwork and blankets that mark the tribal villages of the Masai warriors. From the many visits, I know some vendors by name and others by their smiles.

Back in 2008, following the Fiesta Bowl run by Ian Johnson, my teammates and I were walking past the tradesmen and barters of that same market. I was wearing my royal blue Boise Bronco jacket when my eyes caught site of some beautiful fabric.

“Dresses! Kenyan dresses,” I thought to myself. And I wanted one – or two.

I was looking to increase my wardrobe. Fingering the various styles and weavings, I pulled out colors that would suit me best. Course, tribal colors are important too. And I felt the eyes of the woman who was in charge of this pile watching me. She began the bartering – “they are beautiful, yes?”

“Yes, they are! How much are they?”

“How many would you like?” she teased. “Buy three and I give you the best price!”

“Oh no, I only need one…how much?” I said, while looking for a sticker price

“Where are you from?” she asked

I knew too well that I could not say Japan or China. My red hair and freckles are a dead give -away.

I really wanted to say I was from Ireland and thought about changing my tongue to a brogue, but knew she would quickly learn from my American teammates, that I am indeed American. Darn, there goes my bargaining power. “I’m from the US?”

“New York!” she exclaimed
“No, no, no – from the other side of America. From Idaho,” I relented
“Idaho?” she sighed quizzically, “I don’t know Idaho”
“It’s by California.” I try to help her mind locate our small northern state
“You’re from Hollywood!” She exclaimed
I laughed heartily, “Oh no! Not Hollywood, Idaho.” I returned. “How much for this dress?”
“For you, 1200 shillings,” she speaks as if to be giving me the favor of the day
“1200 shillings!” I go back to the bargaining, “ I’ll give you 500 for two”

Her frown was clear. Shaking her head and dismissing me with a “tzie” – a sound made when the tongue is pulled away from the lower teeth, she states, “Now you offend me Hollywood. 500 does not even cover the cost of the material for one dress let alone the work to make it. How much do you have? I will give you the best deal.” She persisted.

I looked in my purse – I had nothing. Well, I had a few shillings to pick up gifts for friends in the US, but not for me personally. Now what do I say. I initiated the bargaining and have no money to buy. She will be angry. Then came a shout from somewhere down the crowded market, “GO BOISE!” It was loud enough to startle us both. Some white fellow from Chicago shook his fist in the air in recognition of Boise’s incredible win over Oklahoma. Then a young man from behind the woman recognizing the Bronco head on my royal blue jacket, smiled and said, “ahh, go Boise! BoiseFootball.”

“Aha, I could offer my jacket”, I thought to myself. Thus began the hour long lesson in bartering. I came away with two dresses for my famous jacket. The world became smaller and our smiles much stronger.

Driving Victoria, my new immigrant friend from Tanzania, through Boisetown, and I think back about handing off my jacket in exchange for two Kenyan dresses. I’m reminded of the incredible trade God made for me so many years ago: His Son Jesus for my sins.

• The opportunity to attend high school not only changes their lives but it impacts the future of families and communities. Here is one story of a child that received a high school scholarship:

“Dear Friend,

I Damaris would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the support you have been giving me from the time I joined a high school. There before, I had no hope of joining a high school because my father had passed away and my mother could not raise all me fees. Then I learnt about All Nations Mercy Ministry and sought for help, and when you started supporting me I now have hope for a better future. I am encouraged that you are God sent to help me fulfill God’s plan for my life,

I have hope for tomorrow.

My mother too passed away this year. It shook me up, being an orphan yet because you love and support me I do not give up, but I will still continue with my studies. I promise to work hard to achieve my goals in life.

I thank you once more for shaping my life,
Yours faithful friend, Damaris”

Click HERE to find out more information on our Education Scholarship Program and how you could help sponsor a child.