a Future and a Hope
Fundraising can be such a pain. Why? Because often you (I) end up doing it when I really need the money. Meaning that the needs have become so pressing that I am forced to speak more directly about money. Like right now. I recently posted this about my immediate needs.
The thing is I end up then playing catch-up and having to focus on today's needs and do not get a chance to talk about the plans for the future. It also tends to sound like I am whining or complaining when talking about the urgent immediate needs. Yet they are there, those pesky needs. I even have a list, and another list of "less immediate needs." If you are willing to help please follow this link and see how you can get money to me here in Kenya.
Kate suggested I do a fundraiser, not for the immediate needs, but for the future. I have decided that to return my focus to working in the slums of Nakuru with sick single mothers and grandmothers I really need to be living in Nakuru. It would make all aspects of that work easier to be closer. Which means I will need some money to rent a place and buy a bit of furniture. If I am in town I can live without a car. (Kate will keep the Land Rover to use on the farm.) One of the great things about Kenya is that public transportation is everywhere and cheap. Bad thing is that it is not always the safest nor most comfortable way to get around. All this just to say I am considering Kate's advice about running a special fundraiser to help facilitate this move.
Which is difficult to think about when I have to figure out how to feed the girls and animals tomorrow. (I have received some gifts related to these needs. Thank you to those who have given.)
See I told you fundraising is a thorn in my flesh.
I recently shared how I was feeling optimistic about the future for the first time in a long time. I talked about shifting the focus of the community work that I do here in Nakuru to sick (bedridden for the most part) single mothers and/or grandmothers caring for grandchildren. You can read about it here. I also mentioned that I would share other areas of optimism I am feeling about my life with you, and well that is what we are doing here.
Fundraising is never an easy thing to talk about. I am a missionary who depends on the generosity of others to not only conduct the work I do but also to survive while doing that work. It takes a long time to come to terms with the fact that you have to ask people for money on a regular basis, it is humbling to say the least. It is a reality of this life. To help others I need help.
When Kate came out as gay and our marriage fell apart it was all very public. The money coming in was drastically reduced, understandably so. Donors saw a dramatic change happen in our lives, a change they nor I was prepared for. The future of what we were doing here in Kenya was suddenly cast in a shadow of doubt. That did not create a confident space for donors to send their hard earned money. Some of that future is still in flux, but one thing has not changed; and that is my commitment to what I believe I am meant to do here in Kenya, help provide hopeful futures to as many hopeless people as possible.
Admittedly of all the things I am optimistic about fundraising is the hardest one to maintain that bright outlook in. I think mostly because I just need to catch up, restock the house, and have cash to assist in the community. When that occurs then I will have more time and energy to devote to rebuilding monthly donors again. (Those of you still giving, thank you. You have been a huge blessing to us.)
This is me asking you to help me maintain this optimistic outlook on fundraising by helping me with some immediate needs. All these needs (listed down below) are related to feeding the girls, maintaining the property, and taking care of myself. It is not a big need and meeting it will not have any long term impact on the mission, but it will go a long way to creating a happy space in our household here in Kenya.
I need approximately $500 dollars to meet these immediate needs. (I created a little wiggle room for exchange rate fluctuations, bank fees, and the inevitable thing I forgot.)
If you would like to help, and let me say thank you up front, you can use Paypal, write a check, or the quickest way is to use Wave. If you use Wave it sends the money directly to my phone in a matter of minutes (there is a verification process the first time you use it that takes a little while, but it is still fast.) If you want to use Wave just email or message me and I will give you my phone number to use. ([email protected])
Thank you and without further ado here is the list of immediate needs.
- gas cylinder $20
- feed for cows $27
- pet food $37
- chicken feed $7
- rabbit feed $5
- labor $26
- internet $10
- phone credit $5
- fuel for car $20
- food $243
- meat $20
- veggies/fruit $29
- Total $449
Thank you for reading and considering helping us out here in Kenya. Also more optimistic posts coming soon, including a rare glimpse into my personal life and emotions.
Yesterday I posted this on Facebook:
Been pondering my future almost full time for the past few days, and realized that for the first time in some time I have optimism for said future. I am looking forward happily. (Johnny's Facebook status)
I thought I would spend a couple of posts talking about this optimism and in particular why I am feeling good about different aspects of my life even though sometimes it looks like I should have anything but good feelings about my life. Let's start with the mission, the why I am here in Kenya in the first place and how I feel good about that.
There is a passage in Luke chapter 4 which describes Jesus' calling which I attempt to emulate in my life that goes something like this:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,Because He has anointed MeTo preach the gospel to the poor;He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,To proclaim liberty to the captivesAnd recovery of sight to the blind,To set at liberty those who are oppressed;To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Actually it goes exactly like that as I just copied and pasted. This is why I am here in Kenya, and it is what gives me such hope in the future of my work. Helping the poor, brokenhearted, those held in bondage, giving sight to those blinded by circumstances, giving freedom to the oppressed and repressed, these are things that I love doing. They make one feel good to do them, because they are good. Preaching the gospel of love. Expanding the Kingdom of God one hungry person at a time. (I am not talking about proselytizing. Instead I am talking about loving someone just as they are, exactly as God does. No requirement for the person needing help to convert to any belief I might possess in order to get help from me. No attempt at conversion is ever made. There are many honest conversations about faith, but without any conversion agenda.)
When we made the move to The Shire, the off grid almost 12 acres of land in rural Kenya that we have lived on for several years now, it became more and more difficult for me to maintain a high level of community work in Nakuru. To be sure it still happened, but the focus was more on developing the land and caring for the orphaned girls that also moved out of town with us. Part of the purpose of purchasing this land was to be able to grow and provide food for those that needed it. That has happened, albeit not on the scale I had imagined. Just over the past few weeks I have been able to give away a pretty good number of pumpkins, which is great. However growing said food requires a lot of time and a fair amount of effort. Being off grid means that the farming is completely reliant on weather, which is never reliable. What I am trying to say is that living out here has slowed down the work I am supposed to be doing. That took away some of my joy in life.
I have always been more or less random in my approach to working with the poor and sick. Just helping those that come into my life or those that I have found that need someone. My thoughts now are to narrow the scope and minister in particular to sick single mothers or grandmothers caring for grandchildren. Many of these women are so sick that they are bedridden. Unable to work and therefore unable to care for their children or their children's children. Over the years we have had much success with this type of assistance, which gives me the assurances that we can make a big difference in many lives.
The help will still be given to individuals. While there might be a need in the world for big organizations helping hundreds or even thousands of people, that is simply not me. I am one person and work best with a more limited pool of folks. Besides the almost daily visits that can lasts hours that some of these women need, well they take up a lot of time. The good news is that for the most part it is not that expensive to assist these ladies, for the most part. (I do have Kenyan partners who I walk alongside with in this community work. We have found it works better when you can focus on a smaller group of people instead of passing out beans to two hundred people.)
My goal is to get as many of these women out of bed and back to as productive a life as they are capable of living. If that cannot happen then end of life preparations and a proper burial will be carried out.
There are tons of details that I am not typing out now, but I wanted to express part of my hope in my future. This is a big part, a huge part in fact. It is not something new for me, but rather a refocus from off grid farm living with it's time consuming responsibilities, back to my love witch is a more relationship based ministry where the aid is tailored to each individual.
Thank you for coming with me,
P.S. More details will be forthcoming about the future of A Future and a Hope now that Kate and I are divorced. She recently sent out a newsletter talking about some of those changes including her brand new project, Kate Ellen Adventures. You can read that newsletter here.
P.S.S. Expect more posts in the next few days about why I feel so good about the future. You might even get a rare glimpse into my personal life, I mean a glimpse that I have provided and not someone else.
P.S.S.S. If you would like to help me financially follow this link. I have not yet added it to the donate page, in fact so much of the blog needs to be updated, but Wave is a great way to send money. If you want to use Wave then send me an email and I will give you my phone number which you will need to send money through Wave. ([email protected])
Hey guys, I know we hardly write blogs (not even sure blogging is still relevant), and I hope to change this. In fact, I hope to start a new blog with a different title, and I'll get into all of that another time!
We recently lost one of our biggest monthly donors because they felt lead by God to donate elsewhere. I get it, and I understand that what we do in Kenya is not for every one, nor do we expect people to give for the full duration of our work. Those folks helped us through SO MUCH, and they were a huge support over the years. Sometimes one must make a change. It is so important to follow one's heart.
So at the moment, we are down a sizable amount, and we are needing help finding folks to help us fill this gap!! Don't worry if your gift is only $5 or $10 or whatever... any will do. Seriously. A bale of hay for the horses is $3 a day. If you could help with that, that would be great. Seriously. ANY amount.
Would you consider supporting us monthly? We are a project that you can actually talk to. I am an individual, not an institution. I am ME. I help children, women, single moms, etc... I am conscious of the environment, and I hope to be an encourager to those who feel as if they want to do more with their lives. YOU. CAN. DO. IT.
If you'd like to give monthly, you can visit Paypal.com and donate to [email protected] or use the following form:
Follow the following link to read our February newsletter (if you have not already.)
The past six days here on The Shire have been pretty mundane days. They have been busy days, but nothing out of the ordinary or exciting has happened. We continue to care for the animals, develop the farm, and work with the horses. My (Johnny's) workload has increased due to Kate's absence which keeps me busy for most of the day. It does not leave much time for writing, thinking, and communicating.
Kate, Makena, and Starlette are currently in Connecticut. They are enjoying the company and fresh air. Starlette is having a bit of a tough time with all the time changes, but she is full of smiles and giggles during our video calls.
Three more weeks.
You do not actually have to see Kate in person to contribute. You can give other ways as well:
You can use Paypal. Send to [email protected]
For the eleventh day of Kate's absence, I thought it would be good to remind you of the wishlist. We do not visit the U.S. that often so bringing back a few items is high on the priority list. Also feel free to be creative and contribute things not on the list, but consider that Kate has to be able to pack it and bring it back with her. Also, let me know when you purchase something so it can be crossed off the list.
Here we go:
- Nintendo Joy-Con (L/R) Would like 2 sets (We were gifted with a Nintendo Switch a few months back and extra controllers would be nice. Games as well. We only have Super Mario Odyssey.)
- OXO Good Grips Silicone/Stainless Steel Tub Stopper (This one is for Kate. She built a bathtub and now wants a nice stopper for it. If you have one other than this particular one that is fine. She actually wanted something decorative or fancy.)
- Maple flavor (You know something that can be used to flavor homemade syrup.)
- Nyquil (I hate colds.)
- children's fever/pain/allergy meds (Always nice to have for the kiddos and other folks kids as well.)
- Flintstones Children's Complete Chewable Multivitamin (Our kids are obsessed with vitamins.)
- Zahler Flax Seed Oil (Good for the brain.)
- Grownup Vitamins (Good for the body.)
- Strathmore Series 400 Sketch Pads 9 in. x 12 in. - pad of 100 (as many as possible) (These are for Makena, and she is particular about this particular pad.)
- Bad Byron's Butt Rub (This is the best rub I have ever put on pork. Seriously.)
- Ultimate Ears UE Boom 2 Brainfreeze Wireless Bluetooth Speaker (This is for the horse therapy sessions. The speaker we have is just not adequate. From what I can tell this is a nice reviewed speaker.)
- Pool noodles (Also for horse therapy)
- Frisbees (Again for horse therapy.)
- Dodgeballs (Not for horse therapy, but family therapy.)
- New Super Mario Bros. Wii (To replace a damaged disk)
- CO-Z Bee Smoker (Cause we finally got bees to move into one of our hives.)
- A4 Portable LED Light Box (For Makena's artistic endeavors.)
- Hair clips (Cause duh, girls.)
- Watches (Everyone needs to be able to see what time it is.)
- Christmas ornaments (Fa la la la)
- Steve Jackson Games Munchkin Deluxe (This game looks awesome.)
- Reese's peanut butter cups (Just my absolute favorite candy of all time.)
- Microsoft Surface Pro (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB) – Newest Version (Another item for Makena. This will serve her well as she goes to school next year.)
- Microsoft Certified Surface Pen, Stylus Pens with 4096 Pressure Sensitivity (This goes with the above computer.)
- Huawei MateBook X Pro (This one is for me. I really could use and want a new computer.)
On the sixth day Kate, Makena, and Starlette traveled from London to Houston. Quite a long trip. They arrived fine and were picked up at the airport and taken to Nederland, Texas. They plan on resting up for a few days and then the whirlwind tour of America begins in earnest.
Meanwhile, those of us left at The Shire had a quiet Sunday. Lazing around, listening to music, and watching a bit of television in the evening. Plenty of thinking and meditating time.
I spent some time with a passage from Matthew chapter twenty-five. I know I quote and talk about it often but it is worthwhile. Take a moment to read it yourself:
34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
This particular passage heavily influenced how I chose to live out my faith. Back before we moved to Kenya I found myself becoming distant from the way faith was being practiced in our church. Simply attending a religious meeting on Sunday and Wednesday, reading the Bible occasionally, and praying were not enough. (Especially after reading the Bible and seeing a different way promoted in the text like the one above.) I started looking for ways to actually practice my Christianity.
Many years later I find myself still on the lookout for faith practice moments. I, along with my wife Kate, have actually done all the things mentioned in the story of the sheep and goats, and still do them on a regular basis with your help of course. We are not yet weary. In looking for those moments to live out faith we came upon another opportunity, horse therapy for disabled children here in Kenya. These children are some of the least in our community and we are reaching out to them.
This is one of the things Kate is fundraising for while in the U.S. Keeping horses requires effort and food. Getting the children here is another expense, and so on and so on. These children are worth the effort, and it is a great way to practice some faith.