Saying yes

Have you ever been fearful? Have you ever felt like you knew God was calling you to do something, but you just were not sure that you wanted to say yes just yet? Well, me too, and well since I already said yes to moving to Africa, I bet you are wondering what else could be so fearful: Two words……… MY NEIGHBORS! 🙂 About two months have past now since I said yes to what God was calling me to. It was by far one of my best yeses. I will first start out by saying this story and these pictures are shared with permission from the family.

img_8415

Meet Fransicah and her husband Michael. They are our neighbors. Fransicah was a drunk. She drank very often and many nights we could hear her yelling and fighting with her kids and herself. Now, our walls are not the best, but to hear fighting clearly from one yard over, through the walls, and through the TV noise, well, it was loud. It was also scary. I could hear a baby crying a lot, even in the daytime, and my workers would tell me things they could over hear in Swahili. I spoke to my house helper Judith about the situation and decided that the Lord was telling us to go over and share the gospel. We had no idea how the response we be. We prayed for one week and then we asked through the fence if we could come visit. (saying no to someone who wants to visit you, especially the mazungu or white lady, is kinda rude around here so they agreed).

img_84041

We went over the next afternoon and met our new friends, including this cutie. Her name is Irene and she is the granddaughter of Fransicah and Michael. Her mother is Rose and she was also there. We shared the gospel and they accepted. I encouraged them to also share with others and that I would come every week to read the Bible with them and answer questions. I also bought them their own Bible in Swahili so they could read together. I agreed to transport them to church with Judith, my helper, that Sunday so that they could have a familiar face in church.

Since that time, Fransicah has only drank once that we are aware of, and we are very excited over our good Father taking that desire from her so quickly. We know she will continue to be tempted and will always struggle with this, but our God is bigger than her addiction and she is seeing that too. We meet weekly for Bible study and talk through the fence even more. They are sharing their story and bringing not only more of their family, but also friends to Bible Study. I guess we have ourselves a little house church on Tuesday afternoons and it has been so fun.

This family has hard stories and they still struggle a lot. They have kids still in school, which means school fees, and they have to go out daily almost and look for work just to put any food on the table. Two weeks ago, while I was away, Fransicah was very sick. She was having very serious asthma attacks. She had been to the government hospital three times and they were giving her some medications that she could not afford, (this hospital is suppose to be free but it is not) and she was only getting worse. When I returned, I visited and I knew right away she needed to be admitted somewhere. I felt compelled to help my new sister in Christ. (and by the way……so did you if you support us)!

img_8399

I used some of our ministry money and met a huge need for this family. I took her to a private clinic close to our homes and had her admitted. She had multiple asthma attacks that night and even said to me she thought she may die. After two days in the clinic (which has its own stories and could make a whole other blog), this is us ready to come back home. Supporters, we could not have ministered to this lady in this tangible way without you and we really thank you for standing with us even when you don’t always see where your money is going. Along with this hospital visit, we also help them with some food each week and bought them a blanket so she could stay warm during this cold season.

God has and is still changing this family and they have a huge testimony because of it. They love going to church and reading their Bible. They love Bible study and one of the men they invited walks, even in heavy rain, to meet us each week. This family foots to church every week if they do not have transport money and it is not a short walk. They still have one child who is continuing at the Mosque, though he also sometimes sits in Bible study. They have two children who are polite, but will not stay for Bible study at all. They are still struggling to meet their daily needs, but God, in his goodness, has saved them. They are bold in telling people and I pray that the rest of their family will come to know Christ as well.

img_8407

These last few pictures were taken Tuesday. They are laughing so hard because Judith was telling them to say chapati to make them smile. They told me that day, “many people had tried to share the gospel with them and they would never listen to it……but this time, was God’s time, and He is faithful!” What a humbling and powerful statement. I am not sure why God chose Judith and I to encounter this, but I am so glad we said yes!

img_8409

img_8411

Thank you again for your prayers and support. God is using all of you also in a mighty way. Not only for his Kingdom glory but for encouraging us to keep up the good fight that He has called us to. We serve a great and mighty God who is able to redeem all people!

Blessings,

The LawsonTribe4

Advertisements

A Mango Tree Ministry

 

Today was a real adventure! It was one of those days where parts of it made you happy you once memorized the scripture “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, strength, and lean not to the same side of the car that may or may not slide into the muddy ditch on top of the mountain!” Wait a minute…..I think I got that last part a little confused with the emotional fear I may have had for a moment while remembering said verse! 🙂 And for the record of making my mom proud…. the verse actually says and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” (Paraphrased but pretty close)! 🙂

Today, we visited a mango tree church that we had heard about and have actually wanted to visit for a while. Doug and I love those small quaint churches that don’t seem to need much but a gathering and Jesus. Now don’t get me wrong, we love worship in many styles, and we know that buildings are good and so are people to fill them. We know that there are many things that people look for in a healthy church, us included, but to be quite honest, over 4 years in a third world country can change that outlook for a person. If we proclaim Christ and the gospel then we are the church no matter where we are or where we may worship. That is exactly why we think starting under a mango tree is pretty fabulous.  Bay-Leaf Salama Baptist Church has about 12 active members. Salama means peace in Swahili. Today with our family we totaled 19.

They had chairs set up and a table under the tree, anxiously awaiting the wazungu (white family). Unfortunately, we were also awaiting a nice big rain! We had ventured to the top of Mt. Elgon to find these precious people and made it fine as there was no rain this morning. We moved our service into Susan’s home after it started drizzling. She had a nice room set up and though there was no power and lots of rain, we had a great time of worship. We sang songs, I practiced my Swahili, and Doug preached. The people were so great and welcoming and they even fed us a small local meal that was great. The rains let up a bit and we began the walk back to our car. This is where the more tense part of our adventure began.

It took us less than an hour to drive up the mountain in dry weather. We knew with the rain, coming down the same mountain would be a bit tricky……and quite intense to be honest! We said our goodbyes and hopped in the car. We were going to be escorted about half way by some people on foot to help us along as we got stuck. Seriously……it was not an if but a when. We were not even going good before we were sliding everywhere. Our friends had to dig at one place to help us push through the mud and then had to literally chop half a tree away in another spot so we could pass. The boys and I are in the back and nervous is an understatement. We are actively praying and I am silently praising God that my husband liked to go mud riding in his high school days and actually knew how to handle this better than most.

Two hours after our little mud sliding journey began, we stopped at the bottom of the mountain and prayed. We thanked God for getting us down the mountain safely, but also we thank him for the time we had on top of the mountain. This small mango tree ministry that is now a year old, blessed us. They loved sharing where they were with us. They loved that we would want to even see it. It was God answering the prayers of his beloved people, the LawsonTribe4 and the people under the mango tree.

No matter if you are on the mountain top, in the mudslide, or somewhere in between, God cares for you. This journey that God has laid out can leave you in all of these situations and sometimes all within one day,  but know that no matter where he leads, he has gone before you. He will never leave you and he will never forsake you!

Enjoy the pictures! Link

Blessings,

The LawsonTribe4

Better Is One Day

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.”

Psalm 84:10-12

Today, for my special day, I was able to enter into the courts of Jesus in worship and it was great. I entered this new year of life in two different languages. I could even sing and understand what I was saying (mostly), which was even cooler. If you would have asked me as a little girl where I thought I would be at 41, I can’t imagine telling you that I would be blogging about our life on another continent. Yet, here I sit, thinking of all the goodness that we get to experience.

On average, my day is just as normal as the next person….. I wake up to be a wife, mom, and teacher to my beautiful family that loves me so well. Some days I wake up ready for that challenge and some days…..well, they probably wish I would go back to bed and wake up again! 🙂 Some days are very ordinary, while others may involve Giraffes and Hippos…..(not so ordinary, but oh so fun)! Some days, just like you, I have to do things I would rather not do and some days I get to do things that others can only dream of! Some days I wake with no power or running water and some days I am ok with that. 🙂 Some days I think to myself that the day could not get any better or worse…..and God shows me that it can….in either direction. Some days I feel defeated before I start and God shows me a word or a scripture in some form that reminds me He has already fought and won for me (and you too if you let him)!

Maybe your days look something like mine……ok minus the giraffes and hippos for most of you, but you get it. We all have good and bad to claim. We all have things in life that we did not foresee for ourselves, whether God honoring or not. We all have a path that we have chosen. Today as I look into this new year that God is giving me, I tell you that I by no means have a claim to a blameless walk, but I do have claim to a father who takes my blame, casts it far and wide, and welcomes me with open arms and new mercies every day (cue a Praise Him and an Amen here)! I am a blessed woman who trusts in a Mighty God. I am better in His courts than I have ever been before and I am grateful for the journey He has us on.

Here’s to 2018! It is going to be fun, exciting, hard, adventurous, joyful, painful, hopeful, and every emotion in between, but it is going to be as God wants it to be for us and for that, no matter what emotion, we are grateful! Thank you guys for reading, supporting, praying, and loving us so well as we serve here in Kenya. We could not do what we do without you doing all of these things. Each of you are a blessing from above and we are thankful! 🙂

Blessings,

The LawsonTribe4

Returning Gratitude

In this last year, we have had a lot of transition; the biggest being the shift to Kenya from Uganda. Doug also had major surgery here in Kenya, we had some significant school challenges, we still do not have work permits, and we still do not have the clearest vision for 2018…….But God! He knew all of these things before he asked us to move. He had every detail worked out and he still does. Even the vision for what is next. He has a clear picture and just asks us to follow him. So, we do, even when it looks like a mess to us. Even when it looks like nothing seems ok.

During Thanksgiving, while we were eating, we did a family alphabet of thankfulness. I took it a step farther on my own and came up with an alphabet of thankfulness to share with you. Some are the same, some are quite funny, but all are true and make my heart smile.

  • Amazing Grace
  • Bandit & Bahati (our dogs)
  • Clean water (after adding Chlorine of course)
  • Dead and dressed turkey for the holiday this year (I usually have to buy live)
  • Ease of communication with family and friends
  • Family and friends near and far
  • Gracious friends to share the good, the bad, and the ugly with.
  • Having my food dreams come true really soon (we are visiting SC for Christmas)
  • Indoor plumbing (though most of it leaks…..it is still here)
  • Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
  • KLM airlines…..though they have actually been a pain with new rules, they are in charge of getting us back this year
  • Learning a new language
  • Missions
  • New Growth
  • Over the top blessings
  • Provisions of health, safety, housing, etc
  • Quiddler (one of our favorite games)
  • Really great churches that support us
  • Successful surgery overseas
  • Teachable moments
  • Unconditional love and grace
  • Very cold Christmas this year (Remember we live on the equator)
  • Water Mission
  • Xtra
  • You
  • Zeal for following God even when we are not sure what is next

The Bible tells to be thankful in all things, no matter the outcome. To be thankful no matter the trial that just passed or maybe the one that is passing now. God tells us in all things, Rejoice! Our year, well, it has been a lot of emotions to say the least, but through it all God has proven to be faithful and just. He has never forsaken us and He never will. Our God is good! Our God deserves all the Glory.

Throughout my Thankful list, you may have noticed that I mentioned quite a few times a visit to SC. We are going to be stateside for a brief stay over the month of December. We look forward to seeing as many of you as we can, but we are super grateful to have this holiday with our family!

Blessings,

The LawsonTribe4

 

 

Open Doors

Wow! I cannot believe it has been two months since my last blog. We have done a lot of necessary traveling lately due to the election season here in Kenya. We tried to make the best of our time spending some time with family on vacation and then friends back in Uganda. We have been safely home in Kenya for about three weeks now and are enjoying getting back into a routine. Many have heard and asked about the Kenyan elections and well the Supreme Court has ruled that they were not fair and they will hold another election in October. We are planning to stay around unless we see a strong need to leave.

We have began our school year and things are going well. I cannot believe that we are in our 5th year of home school and our youngest is knocking on double digits. Doug’s work is going well. We are enjoying that he gets to work at home some days and those days balance out for those times he has to travel. The Malawi program is also doing well. There are many projects going on and many in the funding phase as well. If you would like to help with either of these country programs in the funding phase you can go here to get more information. He just got back from an assessment near the Maasai Mara where many villages are still feeling the effects of the drought in Kenya. The morning of their assessment, the community found two cows that were killed by an elephant competing for the same water source. Recently, in the target community, a kid was killed by a hippo that lives in their only water source. We complain sometimes when we don’t have water at our house, but these communities compete with real wild animals for drinking water.

I have spoken before of a hospital ministry that I was helping my house helper with. She has named the ministry Tabitha Ministries International. It is based off of the story of Tabitha (also called Dorcas) in Acts 9:36-43. “Tabitha was a disciple that was always doing good and helping the poor.” (vs.36). This ministry will go once a month to one of the local hospitals and give out fruits and milk to the patients. We will also hand out a Bible verse and pray with those we can. The government hospital here has been on strike for a while so we are looking for another hospital that we can serve in the interim.

I have also been given the privilege to help mentor young girls by teaching ballet within another ministry here in Kitale. The ministry is called The Joshua Blueprint and the more I learn about them, the more excited I am to be a part of such a great God thing. This ministry gives back to several different children’s homes by giving them an outlet to learn the arts such as chorus, art, dance, drama, and other musical instruments. Along with this they play a huge role in mentor-ship to these kids by teaching them Christ’s love and truths within every class. You can learn more about this ministry here.

We are slowly but surely finding our way in a new place. God has been faithful to show us some ways to get plugged in and stay focused on Him during this journey. Our God is so good to us. We are so blessed to live the life we live and we are humbled that you choose to live it with us in prayer and support.

We look forward to seeing many of you in December. Yes!!! I said December. We are excited that we will be stateside for a short time for the holidays. We have not been in the states for Christmas since we moved to Africa. We will only be around for three weeks, but we can’t wait!

Blessings to all and thank you for all that you do!

The LawsonTribe4

Our God Knows

Habakkuk 3:17-19

” Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”

Since our last blog we have become more settled, Praise Him, yet some things have remained difficult. After some of the same frustrations and trials, my heart has allowed me to see in a different light, again Praise Him! If we actually look back to Habakkuk 3:16 we see that trouble is all around and Habakkuk says “yet I wait patiently.” On our recent visit to Uganda, I was able to hear several sermons out of James 1, learning how to go through a trial, and also how to come out victorious on the other side.

During this season of transition for our family I have had some good conversations with the boys, and in trying to teach them God spoke to me as well. Contentment is a hard life lesson no matter where you live or how old you may be. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” I can and should choose Joy in God alone. Sometimes we do not know right off how or why we may end up where we do, but our God does. His ways are higher than our ways. He holds the missing pieces to our puzzle of life and loves watching us place each one with our obedience to him.

After spending some time trying to find a place, I have come alongside my house helper to minister to those in the local district hospital. It is really a beautiful story of how this came about. She came to me with a vision to help the sick that nobody else wanted to care for. In her mind, she was unsure of how it would work or exactly what she could afford, but she felt compelled to help and to share with me. After praying about it, we decided that helping this vision was not only doable, but something I would love to do as well. Last month, we had our first outreach. We handed out two sacks of oranges and 20 kgs of bananas to 5 wards at the district hospital. We both contributed funds and time and it was a total blessing. We will be going back once a month.

Doug has been busy with work. He has visited Malawi the last three weeks and Praise God we will be reunited in Nairobi Sunday! The Water Mission teams in both countries have been a great fit and very welcoming. We are all looking forward to knowing them better. Although he has had to travel a good bit at first, when he is home he gets to work from home more often and that is a nice treat. The boys are finishing up this crazy school year in a couple of weeks and while it seems like it has lasted forever, we can see the light at the end of third and sixth grades! They still have not found any close friends around yet, but they have each other and on most days that is pretty good! 🙂

P1170768

Prayer Points for us this month:

All flights meeting in Nairobi this weekend

Doug will have minor surgery on July 6th in Nairobi.

The hospital ministry to take root and share the love of Jesus with many

Water Projects all over Kenya and Malawi

For growth in the midst of the trials

For Kenya as elections will be soon (We will be traveling out of country during this time)

Thank you for standing with us in battle! God is Faithful! God is enough!

Blessings,

The LawsonTribe4

Withholding Nothing

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.” Psalms 84:11-12

The last two Sundays, at different churches, we sang the same song. I felt like God was speaking to me personally through the words and this verse came to mind. The words are very simple: I surrender all to you, everything I give to you, withholding nothing, withholding nothing. Now God was speaking this to me I think because I have been withholding from him. I have thought about this blog post for a while and I just could not write many positives, so I delayed. God has spoke to me this past week that it is OK to be real and transparent with him, because he already knows, and with you so that you know how to best pray. So…..here it goes, withholding nothing….well maybe some or this could get really long. 🙂

This transition to Kenya has been rewarding but hard to say the least. We have all struggled greatly leaving yet another home and a great support network. Transition is not meant to be easy and I get that, but it just seemed like things were piling up almost to the point of being comical. One example is that we had three different plumbers in one week and still had leaks. Not only does nothing in the house match, (which is growing on me), but nothing is level. This makes it very challenging to hang curtains or pictures. The two brand new chest of drawers we bought both have a drawer that does not work. Finding friends for adults is hard enough, but asking your boys to leave friends again and finding no boy community yet after 6 weeks is heartbreaking to this mama. You get the point….. and these are just a few examples. I told you, withholding nothing.

As I have been praying through how to best handle some of these situations and trying to talk to the boys on how to handle their struggles, allowing them to see that Doug and I also struggle, I felt God telling me that we have this wonderful network across the globe, that sometimes, to be honest, I feel like I should only share the good, some of the bad, and none of the ugly to. Sometimes in our walk, the ugly is inevitable in order to be made into something better. Read that again. Sometimes in our walk, the ugly is inevitable in order to be made into something better. The ugly is not always a punishment, but a refinement. The ugly makes us more dependent on the only one that can make it good. The ugly brings us closer to Jesus, the one who turns ashes to beauty.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things to be grateful for in this journey. Those things have kept us sane in the midst. We are happy and humbled still that God has chosen to use us here in Kenya. One of the best blessings is that my parents were able to come and spend a month with us. I absolutely loved having them here during this transition time and how they helped us turn this house into a home. They helped us laugh when in fact we wanted to cry and they helped the kids transition better too. We have also had friends from Jinja come visit. We have met some really great people here in Kitale and work for Doug, though busy, has been great. It has been a blessing to pour into the lives of three new workers in our compound and get to know some of their families.

I guess in my spirit, I love to count blessings and that is a good thing, but God is showing me that it is OK to bring it all, lay it down, withholding nothing, and wait for his mercies that are new each day. He is showing me that it is also OK, as a mom, wife, and even missionary, to withhold nothing from the prayer warriors he has chosen to surround us with. I know that some of our followers read this blog just to keep up and see our adventures and that is great, but I know that a lot of readers truly go to battle for us in the hard times and that is why today God is telling me to withhold nothing. We need your prayers. The struggle is real, the reality is hard some days, but God….. but GOD, in his word, promises to us that he will withhold nothing from those whose walk is blameless. Now my walk will never be blameless until I meet Jesus, but his promises are true to those who believe and live for him and I claim that promise that as I withhold nothing, God will also withhold nothing.

Before we left Jinja, a pastor quoted his wife, who happens to be a good friend and I wrote it down because I loved it. “Lord, whatever you bring, I will receive; wherever you put me, it will be good.” This is my prayer for my family. I am writing it for the Prayer wall in our house. I want this time of transition to teach me, Doug, and the kids through us that God’s will, no matter what, who, or where is set before you, it will be good. Only HE has the power to do that. When we withhold nothing and surrender to God, God withholds nothing and in his perfect time blessings abundantly will flow. I claim the promise that as I have shared some tough times that God will prick some of your hearts to pray for some of our prayer points, standing with our family for His glory.

Blessings,

The LawsonTribe4