Reflecting and looking ahead

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

2 Corinthians 4: 8 – 9

This elephant has visible battle wounds on her ears and a broken tusk, but yet she has persevered. Her life has been tough, but she is walking strong and her calf is confidently walking beside her. 2016 has been tough, but I believe by the grace of God I have come out strong.

As I look back on 2016, I think of the above verse. It was a tough year with numerous challenges.

Big changes in the workplace, losing a brother and 2 sisters, sickness off and on, etc.

I was burnt out and it was affecting all areas of life – physically I was weak, emotionally I felt like I had nothing to give to the children, I was unable to study as well in school, etc.

I recognize the fact that its only by God’s grace that I came through this season. I was so ready to come to my Canada home for a lengthy break, to just rest. Oh, those four words, REST, sounded so wonderful, but yet at the same time I felt guilty. I am so used to serving 24/7, so taking that step away made me feel guilty. Through friends and family, God somehow gave me grace for those 5 months and now I am home. Resting and taking a break.

Despite all that inside and outside turmoil, I was not crushed and destroyed like 2 Corinthians 4: 8 and 9 says. To my surprise, I still performed well in school, which was a some of my studying and a lot of God’s grace. I thank God for the support and prayers of my faithful Kenyan and Canada friends in this season. God truly carried me through.

I thank God for a new year and for the opportunity to see 2017. 2017 comes with excitement, fears and many questions, but I go forward with confidence, knowing that God is in control. I am in expectancy of what God has in store for me this year.

I am in Ontario till the beginning of March. My mom will be coming back with me and staying till the beginning of May. I will be beginning my Teaching Practice or placement for school in May, where I will be teaching at a primary school in Kenya. I am ready for a new challenge, although it comes with a little fear of not knowing what to expect with my very little teaching practice.

With all this said, I want to thank all of you for your words of encouragement, prayers and support that you gave me in 2016. I look forward connecting with you all in 2017.

I wish you a BLESSED 2017!

“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.”

Hebrews 11:6

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Christmas 2016

Special moments with my nephews, praying and thanksgiving, building a snowman, playing games, and some eating made up for a wonderful 2016 Christmas.

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My dear family. The guy in the red shirt in the back is our exchange student from Belgium. An addition to our family.

I came home on Christmas day. Its been a year and a half without being home and its been wonderful. The first week was full of family time and I enjoyed myself to the fullest.

Meeting my miracle nephew was so special. A year ago the family laid hands and prayed for this child and this Christmas we were thanking God for him. We serve a miracle working God.

Playing with my nephews made for some very special moments. This is something I really miss when I am in Kenya. We made some good memories and this is only the beginning.

Winter fun – snow is cold, but it is beautiful and fun

Have a blessed January!

A Missionary’s Battle

Have you ever sat back and wondered what has happened to you? Have you ever felt like you have given all of yourself – spiritually, physically, emotionally, and you have no more to give? Have you ever felt alone, even when surrounded by wonderful and supportive people? Have you ever been tired of being tired?

I reached this place a couple months ago.

I love what I do in Kenya and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love the children and I dream of them growing up to become independent adults that love God and will give back to their communities.

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Photo credits go to Krista Tillotson

After four years of giving of oneself day in and day out, one can say that one reaches a point, that fatigue catches up with them and one must also take care of themselves. I had taken a 3 week leave, which was refreshing, but I have also made the decision to take a lengthy rest.

I came to Kenya, excited and full of energy to serve God. And now to feel exhausted, with a weary spirit, I felt guilty and so vulnerable, because this is not the Charmaine I know. 

I have made the decision to take the lengthy rest from some duties and responsibilities. I am not staying at Journey of Hope, the children’s home, but I am full time with the sponsorship program doing communications and field visits to visit the children.    This means I am just working from the office and going out on the field. It’s been 3 week and it already has done wonders. I feel I have energy once again, and my spirit is on its way to being refreshed.

Lessons Learnt

Factors to beware of when one is on the mission ground

  1. Discouragement

Let’s be real, not everyone in this world will understand why one is so passionate about the work God has called one to. And because they do not understand, they will sometimes comment and these comments at time will cut to the core of one’s heart. Some people will be able to express the hurt and let go, but others will keep it in their hearts and it will continue causing great pain. This pain causes a distraction and an opening for discouragement that Satan loves to use.

But then look at Joseph who was  abused by his brothers and then later scarred and abandoned to die. He was again falsely accused and jailed for the same act. But after all this pain, God had not forsaken him, but instead He had called him to a high position in the kingdom, which would consequentially save many people, including his own family, from a severe famine.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

This was Joseph’s responses when his brother’s realized who they were speaking to. Joseph made the deliberate choice to forgive his brothers and put his ultimate trust and hope in God.So the best choice we can make is to forgive, give them to God and allow Him to use harm for good. Much easier said than done.

  1. Doubt

This can come after hearing negative comments or in Satan’s quiet and sly ways. One can start asking oneself, “Was I really called?”, “Am I really doing any good?”, etc. Satan’s first thing to tell Adam and Eve was “Did God really say?”. Satan has come to create doubt in our ministries and lives. Let us not feed this doubt and when Satan comes to say “Did God really say that”, let us remind Him, that our God does not lie and change His mind(Num. 23:19). Instead of reminding us of the positive moments, Satan brings to remembrance of all the negative things a friend or colleague  has done or bring regrets to one’s remembrance. Satan came to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came to give us life abundantly(John 10:10). Which one will we choose?

When we are doing our best in serving our Lord and Maker, we are not labouring in vain(Heb. 6:10).

Tactics to Fight this Battle

  1. Praise

When we turn our eyes to focus on God, worshiping Him and giving Him all the glory, we remember God’s goodness and what He has done in the past.

“You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode. The Lord will reign forever and ever.” Exodus 15: 13 and 18

  1. Pray

Prayer is a powerful weapon to fight the devil. It has power to move mountains. When one is discouraged and weak, one may find it hard to pray, but James 5:15 says that the “prayer of a righteous person has great power”.

  1. Read the Bible

God has left us His Word to convict, lead and guide us and when we read it, it has the power to encourage, uplift, heal and forgive.

“For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two – edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12

  1. Continue Serving

Satan thinks that if only he can stop us from praying and reading the Word by discouraging, we will stop spreading God’s Word and love. Sharing about God and His love has the power even to encourage the one sharing. Although it also is important to spend personal time with God, because we can only give what we have. Even Jesus went to be alone with His Father, this is where He drew His strength to continue preaching, healing and doing His Father’s work.



As I am taking a step back, God is reminding me why I am here and he has brought these precious moments to mind.

Having important life discussions, such as relationships, modesty, music, etc with my brothers and sisters at Journey of Hope. And I just pray that these discussions will create a desire in their hearts to follow God and His commandments.

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A little boy was asked where he learned English, and he replied “Charmaine”. This made me laugh, because I had not spent much time with him previously, plus I wondered if I really had spoken to him in English.

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Photo credits go to Krista Tillotson

 

The joy that I feel in my spirit to see two of our girls from the program joining University, of which one joined the same university I am at. One is studying a degree in Education to be a High school teacher and the other is studying environmental sciences.

The pure joy of teaching about God and the Bible to young, eager hearts. Seeing the spiritual growth in them, is my ultimate joy. And when I was young I said I could never be a teacher, Oh the ways of God are much higher than mine. 🙂

And I look back over the past almost four years, and I am in awe at how this beautiful country of Kenya along with my hurting brothers and sisters has become home.

Photo credits go to Krista Tillotson and Hannah Miller

“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Phillipians 1:6

May God Bless you for the work of your hands!

Celebration of a Life

One month and 23 days later I’m writing once again with a breaking heart. A brother and now my dear sister has gone to be with the Lord.

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Just a few months ago she was lifting the heavy sufuria’s(large cooking pots), smiling, laughing and telling stories.

The first time I met her she was not speaking, smiling, and wasn’t even able to write, but God transformed her life. Slowly, with Operation Hope’s support, she started speaking, smiling, laughing, writing neatly and even telling stories. She was a girl who loved peace and did not want to offend her brothers and sisters and any adult. She loved school and did not want to miss school. She also loved God and His word. I meditated on these memories and celebrated her life.

She started falling ill a few months back. She was dizzy, weak and throwing up. We took her to different hospitals seeking medical assistance, but she succumbed to the pain on the 23rd of July. She is no longer in pain, but she has been delivered from all her pain, physical and emotional.

When I heard the news, I was sitting in a lecture hall, revising for my last CAT, also known as Continuous Assessment Test, for the day. I received a text message, and I told myself it wasn’t true, for the sake of getting through the next hours. But when I was sitting on the matatu going home, my heart couldn’t take it any longer and I closed my eyes trying to hide my tears from the other passengers on the matatu. I could only imagine, what they were thinking on seeing this mzungu crying in the matatu, but in  the moment I didn’t care.

My heart, along with the Journey of Hope family and other friends and family members are comforted in the years we had with her and the memories that will remain with us forever. We thank God for the hope of Heaven. The Journey of Hope family went to her home on the 30th of July to pay our last respects to our sister as we laid her to rest.

“Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Matthew 5:4

This was a verse that a boy from Journey of Hope shared after our sisters’ passing on. It has been a hard journey, especially for the Journey of Hope children and we continue praying for their hearts.

Thank you to all for your prayers and words of encouragement to our family in this time. May God richly bless you!

You’ll be missed, Syombua, but we look forward to the day that we get to see you up in Heaven.

Time For Everything Part 1

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under Heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 2

The words of this scripture does not decrease the pain of losing a loved one; but it reminds us that death is real, and no one can avoid the inevitable fact that one will die. Note this incidence is from April, I will post the most previous one soon.

On April 29th, one of our boys from Operation Hope past on. He had struggled with health problems for years and we are comforted by the fact that he no longer is in pain. Our Jehovah Rapha has healed him in the best way.

The memories will never die.

The first time we walked into that compound as the boy’s miracle. They had no food and no money even to take the boy to the hospital. They had sent an uncle to go look for work to get some money. We were their miracle.

Another time we went to his home, because he was unwell again and we didn’t find him in attendance at school. We prayed for him, believing that God would heal him.

We then started hearing he was seriously ill and had been taken to the hospital. We helped with his hospital bills.

The last time we saw the boy, he was so weak. We left the home quiet and sober, not sure what to think, leaving the boy in God’s hands.

I won’t forget the day I was told, he died. I was preparing for my last exam, which was the following day, but this news crashed any kind of little motivation I had had. It was only by the grace of God, that I went to do the exam the following day, because every inch in my body was protesting to leave the house. I went to do the exam and by God’s grace I passed. As I was waiting for a matatu, it started pouring rain. This is the last thing I needed on a that day. After waiting for some time for a matatu, and being bugged by someone for my number, I finally reached home, wet but sound. Let me tell you, when I am weak, He is strong(2 Corinthians 12: 9).

His funeral was my first Kenyan funeral to attend. It was hard seeing his coffin lowering into the designated hole, but it brought closure.

Sometimes we don’t understand why, but yet God ALWAYS is in control. We celebrate this boy’s life and the fight he has fought.

Thank you for all your prayers in this time. We truly appreciate it. May God bless you!

Being Called

“To which end we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire of goodness and every work of faith, with power; that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Thessalonians 1: 11-12

By the grace of God, I want to complete the work that He has called me to and I pray that He will also give you the needed grace to accomplish His work in your life. I’ve said numerous times that Kenya has been an experience of fulfillment, joy and peace mixed along with hard lessons and moments and I can say it again.

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I love the mixed expressions of the children on this photo! This was class 1 – 3 at the April camp which I taught with Krista. What a privilege to teach these children the Word of God! 

In 2013, I came fresh out of high school as a city girl. I didn’t enjoy getting my hands dirty, I hated snakes and other similar creatures(I still don’t enjoy, but I can at least deal with them). And much more I was a girl who had much to learn about God and his call for me.

God saw it fit to take me out of my comfort zone to a strange country.

Memories from my first months

1)Snakes and Scorpions

Where I would have no choice but to live on a compound with snakes and scorpions. The verse in Luke 10:19 has taken a whole new meaning.

“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and NOTHING shall hurt you.”

Luke 10:19

One day, I was reaching out to pick my Bible from my bed, and to my surprise I see something.

I saw a scorpion.

To my shock, it was dead, but much the same I was afraid.

Another day, I found a lizard egg on my bed. Yes, you read correctly, a lizard egg!

These are only a few of the physical challenges I’ve needed to face, but God has been opening my eyes to whole new realm.

2)We do not fight against flesh and blood

“For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Ephesians 6:12

We do not fight against flesh and blood, but we are fighting against a dark and evil kingdom. We are in a spiritual battle against the devil, who has come to steal, kill and destroy. God has been teaching me how to fight this battle, by putting on the whole armor of God.

I have seen poverty at many levels. Poverty is not just a physical lack of resources, but it is a spiritual separation from the perfect will of God. In Kenya, we see many are suffering from material poverty and in the Western world, we  see many suffering from maybe a poverty of spiritual intimacy with God or the poverty of community. The poverty of spiritual intimacy is when one becomes so independent, thinking they have no need to depend on God. The poverty of community is one who is so independent, that they do not need relationships or other people in their lives. We all may have or are suffering from some type poverty, but there is ONE who can save us from this poverty, Jesus Christ.

I have seen God delivering children that have been under satan’s bondage.

I won’t forget the time that Hannah and I prayed for one of the girls at the orphanage. She had come to talk to me and as I was praying for her, there was something going on in the spiritual realm. We started rebuking and praying out the evil spirit in her. This was so new to Hannah and I, and we felt so inadequate. But it wasn’t about us, it was about God revealing Himself and about Him giving victory to this girl. And God is so FAITHFUL.

There is a girl, that whenever our team would visit her, she was unhappy. She didn’t have hope. But let me tell you God transforms lives and HE is a story changer. Today, when she sees us, she runs to us and is so excited, because God has given her joy and hope. Only something that our Father in Heaven can do.

Another girl was left to die, but that was not the end of her story. Slowly with time, she started smiling, talking and opening up. Today she is a beautiful, hardworking, healthy and happy girl. ALL glory be to GOD. He is a miracle working God.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” ~ John 10:10b

“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” ~ 1 John 4:4

I thank God, because with Him, we have overcome. He has given us the authority over our enemy satan(Luke 10:19b). We should not be afraid, because the one who is in us, Jesus, is greater than the one in the world, satan. We serve a wonderful God, who is fighting for us.

But let us not forget, we have a role to play. We need to be wearing the right equipment to fight this battle. We need the FULL armor of God. Ephesians 6: 13 – 18

Life is an adventure, filled with ups and downs. We are not promised to an easy life, but we are promised God’s presence and His Holy Spirit, who will lead and teach us. I look at the callings of Jeremiah and Ezekiel and I admire their commitment and obedience to God.

They knew who had called them and what He had called them to.

Thank you for your love and support. May God complete that work which he has began in your life. May God bless you!

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Phil 1:6

“Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.”

Ezra 10:4

This Thing Called Life

Oh, where do I start, and what do I write? Time has flown, and in the midst of everything I’ve gotten too busy. And God is reminding me of this verse:

 “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

Luke 10: 40

In the beginning of this year I had a wonderful visit from my brother and another adopted brother, Daniel. We had a wonderful time.   My brother and I caught up on some good quality brother – sister time. It was wonderful to show him around.

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We went to visit one of the families of our girls.

After that my life was put on fast forward. School assignments and revision, office work, visits to the children at home, trips to Nairobi, curriculum to develop, e – mails to write. And I was becoming stressed. So much was needed from me, but I was running out of the energy needed to accomplish the task.

My body also detected stress and I fell sick. That was a one long month of not feeling well and not feeling like myself. But in that time, God was teaching me something, actually a couple things.

  1. He knows what I need

God knew me in my mother’s womb. He knows me inside out. There is no one that knows me like my Father in Heaven. He showed  this to me in a very real experience.

I had other guests coming from home, some of them were coming to go with Bishop to Turkana and Leanord & Lucille, another set of parents to me, were coming to see me. The day of arrival, I was planning to go to the airport, but had woken up feeling terrible. The Charmaine in me said, I’ll push myself and I’ll go. But someone much wiser, advised me to stay home, for some particular reason. On their way home, they dropped by to see me, and to me shock, my best friend Amanda had come along. Only God knew how much that meant to me, and how much I needed that, because I had been so discouraged the time I had been unwell. It was impeccable timing. I thank God for this blessing, she also came at a time, that we were busy in the office and we needed an extra hand. And for sure, she was the hand we needed. I give God the glory.  I thank God for the friends and family that prayed for me and encouraged me. Thank you so much! May God bless you and fulfill the desires of your heart!

  1. To “Be Still”

But not only does God know what one need, He wants us to be like Mary in Luke 10. When Martha was rushing around the kitchen, preparing the best food for Jesus, Mary chose the ONE thing that was important, sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Martha was busy doing good. Truly, what is wrong with preparing the best food and serving Jesus? But how many times are we so busy doing good, that we don’t have enough time to spend with our Saviour.

I so often can identify with Martha. I remember when I was a little girl, I enjoyed helping mom clean the house and washing the dishes, but my sister was the opposite and she was enjoying herself outside with Dad. Martha got frustrated at Mary, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me alone to serve?” I also got frustrated at my sister, because I often was the one washing the dishes, I felt I was left to serve alone.

As I have now grown into a young lady, I still have the busy spirit of wanting to do good with the human tendency to forget the one who called me. This year as life was getting too busy, Amanda was a messenger for her dear sister Michelle’s family to give me a book by the name of Having a Mary Spirit in a Martha World. Thank you! This is exactly what I needed in this point of my life. I have been saying, with school I don’t have time to read other books, but I have realized that I’ve had the wrong attitude. This book has been ministering to me, and teaching me that despite all the craziness in my life, of which some I need to let go, there is time to “Be Still” and sit at the feet of Jesus.

It is through sitting at His feet, that God is speaking to me through His word and giving me peace, joy, strength, and wisdom to serve His dear little children. Let us not put the cart before the horse and try serving without spending time with God.

Last month, we went to visit some children at home with Leanord & Lucille, and oh my, despite my lost voice that day, I went home encouraged.

The little unhappy, fearful girl is now confident, laughing and smiling.

The boy who couldn’t concentrate, write and even thought to be special, was now talking, smiling and even wrote his name. I won’t forget how he asked me “Charmaine, msaidi kufunga kamba. ~ Charmaine, help me tie my shoelace.”  I was leaving, but I immediately stopped, and bent down to tie his shoes, because this was the first time he was actually talking to me. It seems like something little, but with this boy it is growth.

The oldest sister was shy and quiet, but now she is opening up and learning that there is more to life than struggle.

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Verses that God is revealing to me

And when Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark  2:17

“But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of Heaven.”

Matthew 19:14

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my names sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”

Matthew 19:29

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord, He is life a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the streams, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17: 7-8

“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”

Proverbs 11:24 – 25

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?”

Jeremiah 32: 27

“If your pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desires of the afflicted then shall your light rise in darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail, and your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.”

Isaiah 58: 10 – 12

“It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding stretched out the heavens. When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the Heavens, and He makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth, He makes lightening for the rain and brings forth wind from His storehouses.”

Jeremiah 10: 12 – 13

I want to appreciate all of you that are supporting me through prayer, finances and notes/cards of encouragement. May God richly bless you. You are being used by God to transform children’s lives. Colossians 1: 9 -12

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