My first trip to Kenya was with my husband Randy in 2006. It was on that trip I met Pastor Francis, his family, the children, and the widows “mamas.”
That was the beginning of an amazing journey and what is now officially known as “Love for Kenya.” It is a privilege serving on the board with members who are so generous with their time, gifted in their talents, and wise beyond their years.
I love hearing the stories and watching the videos of teams “dancing with the mamas” and giving them food each time they visit. Randy’s most recent team build outhouses for a few mamas. Hearing how grateful they were to be given the dignity to go to the bathroom in private brought tears to my eyes!
I first met Randy Stensgard and Francis Ranogwa at a Torchbearer Bible School in Germany. Francis and I served on a student team together while Randy and I got to know each other more after returning to Minnesota. Randy moved to Colorado and I lost touch with most of my Bible school friends. A number of years ago Randy and his family moved back to Minnesota and we reconnected. About 18 months ago he asked me to sit in on a board meeting for LFK and I was hooked. Serving on the board is great because I get to see some of the ways God is using a group of north american misfits to bring help, hope and healing to some of our downtrodden brothers and sisters on the other side of the globe.
Two projects in particular come to mind the new well and the new boys dorm. In north america we never worry about water but at the Shangilia children's school this had been a real concern, that is until the new well. Now they have more than enough clean water for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Praise God! Also the new boys dorm; to see the look on the faces of the lads when they got to see their very own beds is just priceless.
I took my first trip to Kenya when I was 17 and it really changed my attitudes toward God and the world. I realized God is a lot bigger than I thought, and the world was a lot more than my, then, high school bubble of dance team and church youth group. I loved Kenya! When I was 23 I went back and loved it the same. We spent time understanding the needs of Shangilia and our partners by interviewing staff and children. When I was asked to be on the board, it was a natural yes.
Seeing most of the children get sponsored this year was a huge blessing. It happened gradually, but after a year of sponsorship partners signing up bit by bit, here we are, a little over a year from our kick off party, and many of the k-12 students are sponsored, and we have some new students being sponsored for college as well. It’s also fun to see how people engage with the newsletter. I've learned a lot about Kenya through putting the newsletter together. It’s been fun to share stories of our children and the needs in Kenya by helping with the email creation.
As a young christian, from about age 10 thru high school and beyond, I had the feeling in the back of my mind that someday God would have me involved in Africa in some way. Fast forward thru college, marriage, starting a career and starting a family to the early 2000's when Randy Stensgard became the youth pastor at our church and introduced our congregation to Shangilia Children's Home through his friendship with Pastor Francis and short-term missions trips with our church. I was always drawn to the things that Randy and other trip participants shared about their experiences in Kenya, but I was never able to go along on any of the trips. Fortunately God had plans for me and Kenya and he let me know this in early 2013 after Randy, who had moved back to MN, sent out a newsletter about a Kenya trip he had planned for the summer of 2013 with folks from his new church. As soon as I read it, I knew that God wanted me to go on that trip despite the fact that going to Kenya with a group of people I didn't know at all is completely outside my comfort zone. My husband wasn't sure, my family and friends were surprised and no one was entirely convinced this was a good idea, except for me. That was my first trip to Kenya in June 2013 and surprisingly God sent me again in January 2014. They were both awesome experiences that have changed my life in both dramatic and run-of-the-mill ways, one of which was Randy inviting me to join the board of Love for Kenya in late 2013 as we began the process of filing to become an official 501(c)3 tax-exempt charitable organization. I was originally given the role of secretary, but fortunately God provided me with the opportunity to become treasurer which is a much better fit for my skills and interests.
My favorite thing about Love for Kenya is the fact that I've had the opportunity to witness a ministry that is totally and completely God driven. It is amazing to me to see how God has pulled together a group of people that are scattered around the globe simply through their willingness to say yes to God and participate. God has built a children's home, blessed widows, provided for financial and physical needs and strengthened the Christian walk and relationships of so many people by letting them participate in this ministry and all of it was accomplished without some big, organized, human plan. Love for Kenya is just one more example of God making a ministry happen and it has been amazing to watch us go from a brand new 501(c)3 with barely enough money to pay for stamps and insurance to an organization with 64 of the 69 children at Shangilia sponsored and countless projects in Kenya that have been funded through God's grace and people's willing hearts. It's a great reminder that God knows and will meet needs, whether in Kenya or in my everyday life!
Lee Robinson, along with Tim Read, participated in the Engineering Ministries International trip to Shangilia in September, 2006 to design the spring fed water system. Both Lee and Tim then assisted on the trip to build the system in January, 2017.
· Lee has been to Shangilia ten times since that first trip in 2006.
· When it became apparent that the spring fed water system was no longer adequate, Lee incorporated the drilling of deep water wells at Shangilia and Ideleri School into the drilling program at Covenant churches in Kenya. These two wells were drilled through solid granite into water bearing fractured granite early in 2016, and both produce large quantities of high quality water.
· Lee has always had a passion to support short term volunteers going to Shangilia, and will be deeply involved in this effort going forward.
Nic took hugely influential trips to Kenya in 2008 and again with his family in 2010. A core part of his testimony is getting to share the Gospel message after the Jesus film was played and having to depend on God 100% to get over his fears of public speaking. He loves the mission of Shangilia and partnering with great leaders to transform the children’s lives. His favorite project has been seeing the video of the new boy’s dorm being constructed and the sheer joy on the children’s faces as they walked into their new home. He can’t wait to go back and experience the wonderful Kenyan people and culture!
I got involved with Love For Kenya after the first time I went on a mission trip there in 2005, God laid it on my heart to start to partner with Pastor Francis, he and I were roommates 29 years ago. I love serving with some of the most amazing and gifted people on the planet that are on the Love For Kenya Board. God uses this godly team to impact hundreds of lives in Kenya!
My favorite project was the construction and completion of the the new boys dorm. The boys were living in very humble conditions and then to have them move into a new place that they could call their own was truly amazing. I remember one of the boys and seeing the look on their face as they walked into there room for the first time, with great awe and amazement. Then to see them lay on their new beds and not want to leave their new rooms! I praise God for the way that he provided the funding for this project! God continues to surprise me in amazing ways with the Love For Kenya ministry.
I originally got involved with the Kenya ministry over 11 years ago when I traveled to Shangilia for the first time. I have been back three times since and have also enjoyed serving on this (relatively new) Love For Kenya board helping to equip, enable, and improve the lives of these friends that I have come to love over the last 11 years.
My favorite story from my involvement with the LFK ministry is back in 2007 when we installed the original water system on the property. To gloss over a TON of details that make the full story so interesting...suffice it to say that God knew every bump, hurdle, problem, and issue that we would run into. We thought that the $16,000 dollars that had been raised for the project would be way more than enough to complete everything, and then some. When Kefa and I added up all the receipts and costs at the end of the construction we came up with something like $15,980. Same thing with the number of special-order pipe fittings. We planned on having extra fittings - just in case - and ended up needing every single one. The point I took home from all of this is that God gave us exactly what we needed - and He even accounted for every single miscommunication, mistake, and error that His lowly servants would make and gave us enough grace to cover it all and complete the project that would advance His Kingdom.