A visitor’s view

As the Kenyans say, I am Mama Keith. In Kenya, a mother is represented by her children, thus the name “Mama Keith.” I must say I like it.

I have just concluded 2 weeks with Keith and Erin. In 2012, I participated in a short-term medical mission team to Kenya. I fell in love with the country and the Kenyan people on that visit; this trip has only intensified that love.

My husband Larry joined us for the first week of this trip. His time was spent mostly helping Keith with domestic projects – building a chicken coup and a much needed screen door. He also helped with a K4K feeding at a local church, loving on kids, and sharing from God’s Word.

From an eyewitness view, I would like to tell you about Keith and Erin’s ministry. Put simply: overwhelmingly awe-inspiring. With no formal “missionary training” or a “handbook” other than God’s Word, they have hit the ground running. Their time is spent loving on people and figuring out life in Kenya. Everywhere they go, they form relationships. From the hardware store, grocery store, Masai Market, and beyond – they go out of their way to show love. There is a man, with an extreme disability (no legs), who works at the end of their street. He spends his days pounding big rocks into little ones, making gravel, that they have befriended and even supported his business. Put plainly, they are getting to know people as individuals and sharing God’s love.

They are also learning a new language – actually two languages as both Kiswahili and Luo are dominant. They are learning their way around a new city, learning new customs and laws (driving on the wrong side of the road, not to mention getting driver’s license, insurance, Visa’s and work permits), and learning how to work in Kenya. They are learning a whole new way of life. A very, very different way of life from what we know in America.

Additionally, they are getting to know the local pastors, the processes and procedures for the K4K program, and many other aspects of CMN (the organization with which they are currently partnered). They do all of this with the responsibility in mind, first to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and second to you, their supporters. In four months, they have accomplished so very much. Especially in light of the fact that most of their summer was consumed by helping to lead and participating with the summer medical teams.

When you give your financial support to Keith and Erin, you are directly supporting over 20 people. Supporting Keith and Erin’s living expenses is only the beginning. For safety purposes, they employ three guards who work on a rotating schedule. Outside of guarding, these three men also do various outside chores and gardening (growing supplemental food for all 20 of these individuals).   These men have wives and children that YOU support. Keith and Erin also employ a household worker. Why do missionaries need help in the house, you might ask? The simple answer is to free up more time in ministry. If it were not for this help, they would spend the majority of their day doing dishes by hand, laundry by hand, and so many other cleaning tasks that are needed. Their sweet helper, Risper (pronounced Rispa), has 6 children. She was widowed earlier this year and now carries all of the responsibility for her family. Her job with Keith and Erin was a direct answer to her prayers. By supporting Keith and Erin you not only feed these children, but also help buy their school uniforms, school supplies, clothes, and all other basic needs.

By my count you also supplement the incomes of at least 20 more Kenyans – their tuk tuk driver that supports a family of 8 (his family and the family of his sister who is a widow), the man from whom Erin purchases milk and eggs, the plumber, the gutter repairman, the mechanic, and the list continues.

Your gifts also contribute to the purchase of much needed items. One of the local pastors ‘fosters’ five teenage boys and has two biological sons. These six boys sleep in a bunk bed that is located in a storage building, detached from the house. The bottom bunk had no mattress. Instead, they sleep on a flat, straw mat that covered the slats intended for a mattress. Keith formed a relationship with one of these boys – Victor – and promised him a mattress. He will share this twin-sized mattress with 2 other nearly man-sized boys. The funding for this mattress came directly from you.

Erin has made a very beautiful home for them; however, they live very modestly. Her talent, not dollars, has made their home a place of rest and refuge for them, visiting missionaries (from rural areas), short-term missionaries, and other guests.

When Keith & Erin moved to Kenya, CMN provided them with a vehicle. This has been a huge blessing and is very much appreciated. The truck is perfect for transporting supplies (such as rice and beans) needed for mission purposes. For example, just last week the truck was actually needed in two different places (distribution of beans and rice for K4K and in building a church building several hours away from Kisumu). The result is that Keith and Erin often have to depend on public transportation while the truck is in service to one of the pastors. Although the truck is perfect for transporting supplies, it has not been the most reliable mode for transportation. It is also a stick shift and very difficult to drive on heavily congested streets.

This entire post is to say that Keith and Erin need a vehicle. They need a minimum of $18,000 to get something sturdy, dependable, and safe. You should be forewarned – this amount of money would afford you a car that is 12-15 years old with many kilometers (or miles if you are in the US) already on the car.  Their supporters have been so faithful to give, and therefore this may sound like a great deal of money. Through my time spent here, I realized that this purchase that would allow them more freedom in their ministry. They must be able to reach the pastors, in order to support and minister to them. In order to reach out to some of the more rural pastors, reliability is crucial for the transportation. Without a doubt, ministry is and will be limited until Keith and Erin obtain a vehicle for their own use.

On a side note: in Keith and Erin’s spare time (LOL), they have discovered and become involved with several other existing missions. I have happily enjoyed following the Holy Spirit and Erin in loving on abandoned babies, swimming with orphaned special needs children, and coloring with children in the oncology ward at a public hospital. We toured a ministry which rescues boys from the streets of Kisumu.   After the tour, I enjoyed playing a version of volleyball with some of the boys. I don’t speak Kiswahili and they did not speak very much English, but it is amazing what can be understood with a smile, a few hand gestures, and a hug. We’ve shared the Word of God through a flannel graph and crafts with six groups of these kids, and loved every minute of it.

Kenyan’s are open to the gospel. The harvest is plenty but the laborers are few.

Thank you for supporting and continuing to support my “baby boy” and his beautiful wife.

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