Sunday, July 19, 2009

Migori, Kenya, and Sauk Centre, Minnesota: Pencils, Partnership and Prayer

Presented in Our Lady of the Angels church, Sauk Centre, Minnesota, July 19, 2009.
Good Morning, Christians,

My name is Amy Loxtercamp. I, along with my mother Diane Schmiesing, Carol Kleinschmidt and Dick Unger had the amazing opportunity to travel as part of the second delegation to Migori, Kenya, to visit our partners in faith at St. Joseph's parish.

Some of you may not know a lot about the partnership so I will quickly give you an overview. The partnership which is between O.L.A., St. Paul's and Saint Joseph's parish in Kenya began formally in 2005. There has been sharing of our Catholic faith, ideas, culture, prayer and friendship.

The biggest project that is going on now is the orphan fund project. There are 600 orphans in this parish alone so it was an obvious place to focus our efforts. A fund was taken up here to go towards this project in 2008. Many great things have been happening with the money collected and we had the opportunity to see these things first hand.

First of all we got to visit the orphan land that was purchased. The crops from this land will go to feed the orphans and is a renewable resource for them. It provides another way for our friends in Migori to take an active part in providing for the orphans. They are working the land and harvesting the crops soon. And for you farmers, you would be impressed - - - the corn was at least nine feet tall!

Outside the church is the four metal grain bins used for storing the food. All of which was purchased with the orphan funds. Every other week the orphans sponsored (of the 600, we are able to sponsor 150) are able to come to these grain bins and get a ration of corn, beans and rice to take home to the families they are living with. It is not enough to make it two weeks: but it is something.

Of the 150 orphans being sponsored, 148 are primary students. Some as young as five years old. These students were provided with uniforms which are necessary for them to attend school. These 148 primary students also received blankets to keep at their home.

We had the opportunity ot meet these children during our visit as they traveled to the church for a day with us. These little ones walked, some for hours, just to meet us and receive their rations of food. There are no school buses or guardians dropping them off. We also got to give the children the pencils that were collected by our young students here. For us it is a pencil, for them it is an amazing givt. In Migori a child would only have one pencil for their entire school year. I wish everyone could experience seeing these children with their pencils. They were so happy and so grateful, that is one souvenir we couldn't bring back to share with you. Ot feel the gratitude and joyfulness of those children is indescribable.

In May, you read the letters of our two secondary students, Mercy and Jackwood. We visited these students at their schools and it was inspiring. Mercy is a beautiful young lady with a big smile. Her teacher only has good things to say about her. Currently Mercy, along with her closest friends at her boarding school, are battling for first place when it comes to grades. Mercy is placed third in the school but told us, she will be number one.

Jackwood is at a seminary school where Father Olima is now a teacher. Jackwood is a quiet young man but a hard worker and Father Olima expects great things from him. These two students are able to be in school only because of this orphan fund and will be sponsored through until they finish secondary school. They are very appreciative nad expressed that to us over and over.

So I am here to tell you we have seen first hand where each dollar was spent and you can all be happy to know it is being handled well. Less than 3% of any money raised goes to administrative fees both here in St. Cloud and the diocese of Homa Bay. None of the money raised goes towards the cost of the delegation. The last collection started in May but there is still time if anyone is interested in contributing.

Lastly, I would like to personally invite anyone who is interested to get involved with this project. For me it has been so rewarding to be able to have this experience and show my children that the world is bigger than what they are watching on t.v. I am running out of time to talk to you so if you want to hear more about this project or our trip you'll have to contact us.

I would love to tell you about how, when we were out, the children would yell "Mazungu, Mazungu," because they rarely, if ever, had seen a white person. Or how I got locked in the Bishop's bathroom. Ask Dick about 'fish head.'

So on behalf of members of this delegation: Thank you for your prayers while we were away from this home. And from our brothers and sisters in Migori Kenya: Erokamano.

Related post: In the news:
Some people spell "mazungu," "mzungu," or maybe "muzungu." I don't know which is the "right" way, but "mzungu" seems to show up more often, in more commonly-used resources, like the Swahili-English service of, Free Online Dictionaries.

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