Monday, September 01, 2008

Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison - Pr. Harrison's Blog about Mercy in the LCMS

If you are interested in the general work of mercy in the LCMS, you might want to take a look and Pastor Harrison's blog, Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison. (Friends of Mercy is a Recognized Service Organization of LCMS World Relief.)Pastor Harrison blogs about many things pertaining to mercy. What is always fascinating is how he brings so many of our Lutheran fathers and grandfathers to the table to speak on the church's work of mercy today. He quotes loving and caring Lutheran leaders from the past and you would think they were among us today.

UPDATES on LCMS' work of mercy from pastor Harrison himself are often on this blog. You can hear from our churches and those in the field who are hard at work caring for people. For example, during a disaster, such as hurricane Gustav, you will find out how we are helping people in the path of this natural disaster.

Summer Break - Taking Care of Business So the Work of Mercy in Kenya Will Continue

It takes a lot to keep Friends of Mercy going. This summer, I took a break from traveling, editing, writing and posting at my blog to get caught up on a great deal of infrastructure and simply to spend time with my family. Thanks for your patience and continued support.

Lutherans Are Making A Difference!

The work of Friends of Mercy is all about how our supporters show that Lutherans are Making a Difference. We are making a difference by bringing hope and mercy to the people who are suffering from the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the brunt of which is borne by AIDS widows and AIDS Orphans.

However, Friends of Mercy also needs your support to keep itself going. Thanks to volunteers, we are able to maintain records, send out thank you letters, and keep things going. We realize that at times we fall a bit behind, but, we thank you for your patience.

All of our work is connected to an Altar so that the gifts from your altar get to the altars of those in need in Kenya. (Even if it is a make-shift altar, left.) With the context of the gospel and God's presence in His word and the sacramental life, the people of Kenya are able to follow through with HIV testing, medicines, and helping others because of the forgiveness and mercy which they first enjoyed.

Keep Friends of Mercy in your prayers and as a recipient of your blessings are ways to support the work of the Meekers, Pastor Chuchu, the ELCK deaconesses, and so many people who need the basic staples of life that we expect to be available and His blessings.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lutherans Still Making a Difference: Two Groups in Kenya in June.July

Friends of Mercy sponsored two missionary mercy trips to Kenya recently. When we take people to Kenya, we work with the local congregations to provide opportunities to serve those in need. In connection with the needs of the people, we connect it to the altar of our Lord. Careing for orphans, providing food, medicine, educators and so many other things are all "bridges" to proclaim the gospel and comfort of Christ in his sacrifice.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be able to fill you in on some of the things Friends of Mercy did through the sacrifice and hard work of those who attended a Faith & Mercy Expedition.

The first group to Kenya was a Rev. Dr. Arthur A. Just and deaconess/RN - Pamel Bohle-Silva, who taught a seminar for all of the deaconesses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya. About 40 deaconesses attended a seminar on palliative care.

The second group was lead by pastor Mark Rabe and they were all from California. They spent about two weeks in Kenya to teach classes about mercy, take care of some medical needs, and provide opportunities to hear the gospel.

Check back soon for more reports from those who went to Kenya.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Oscar: An Adoption Story of a Kenyan AIDS Orphan

A couple of years ago Pastor and Deaconess Meeker met Oscar at a medical clinic in Kenya sponsored by LCMS World Relief. (Dr. Anita and Oscar, right) When Oscar's sister brought him to the medical clinic, he was diagnosed as stage four HIV, the last stage that progresses into full blown AIDS.

Oscar was critically thin and was suffering from malnutrition. He had to be carried in because he was too weak to walk.

Dr. Anita and Dcns. Lorna carried him to the examination table and immediately left the room and began to cry. After an emotional and cathartic cry, they returned to examine Oscar thoroughly. They discovered that Oscar was not only in stage four HIV, but he also suffered from TB, malaria, and had a blood cancer that manifested itself in a tumor on his tongue.

"Adoption" in Kenya

Pastor and Dcns. agreed to adopt Oscar. Adoption in Kenya isn't the same as we know it in the U.S. Culturally, the Kenyan people are very proud of their families and the tribal culture leads to a view of family wherein the family members possess a high degree of caring for each other when possible. However, with the HIV/AIDs epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, many families "adopt" many children from relatives and the local village. When this takes place, an adoption means that you will provide for the adopted child financially and in any other way possible. That way extended family can afford food, clothing, medicine, and education. Oscar is one of eight children whom the Meekers have adopted over the last couple of years and visit regularly.

A Common and Horrifying Experience

Oscar is a typical example of how too many people are treated out fear of HIV/AIDS, especially because they don't understand it. Oscar's parents had died
so his grandparents were raising him and his 14 year old sister. Once they realized how sick Oscar was, they moved Oscar and his sister out of the home and into another grass thatched roof, mud hut, which didn't even have a door on it. His sister dropped out of school to take care of Oscar. When she learned about the medical clinic coming to the village, she helped Oscar get to the clinic through a combination of carrying, pulling, and holding him up as he tried to walk.

Oscar's grandparents owned a still and were
alcoholics. They moved Oscar out to the mud hut to die. They didn't believe anything could be done and didn't want to spend money and resources on something they couldn't take care of. This is a common reaction that remains in many villages in the countryside. They just don't know better. The grandfather, at one point, told Oscar and Dennis, "There is no life in that boy!"
As the Meekers followed up with Oscar's medical treatment, the doctor was adamant that they must treat the TB first because that would kill him if it were left untreated. The TB treatment took 9 months. However, the first 60 days of treatment was with a medicine that was not compatible with the HIV treatment. So the HIV treatment didn't begin until first 60 days of TB medicine was completed. Once the TB was cared for, they took on the blood cancer. The doctor had hoped that the HIV medicine (ARVs) would fight the cancer. This did not happen. Instead of taking care of the tumor, it caused the tumor to grow and multiply. The tumors traveled down his tongue and esophagus and finally into his stomach. His stomach began to bleed and he required a blood transfusion, an extremely risky option in Africa.

The doctor chose to add a powerful cancer treatment, which was six doses, but it took such a toll on Oscar that the doctor stopped treatment at the third dose. The doctor thought that the fourth dose would kill Oscar because of its strength and the combination of the other drugs. The doctor was not confident that Oscar would make it. But he did. The bleeding stopped and health began to improve.
Five Minutes!

It wasn't an easy road to walk. The KEY to HIV
treatment is two-fold. First, the ARVs (antiretroviral medicines) must be taken twice a day, 12 hours a part. Oscar's med time was 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.. Now here is the hard part, especially for a 12 year old, they MUST be taken at the exact time. There is only a FIVE MINUTE window to take the ARVs. This means that Beyond this five minute window, he would risk the chance of the ARV's backfiring because his body would begin to build an immunity to the effectiveness of the medicine and then the doctors would search for another possible combination of meds. There are only so many combinations that could work.

Why Kenyan Food Crisis is Worrisome

The second part if the treatment is a BALANCED HIGH PROTEIN DIET. Without a balanced diet, the ARVs become increasingly less effective. The effectiveness of the ARVs without the diet dramatically decreases the body's ability to fight off infection and disease. AIDS develops when any illness takes hold and the body can't fighd it. Therefore, any cold, flu, along with a whole host of diseases could easily kill Oscar. (Why Yellow Corn is a Sign of Desperation)

As long as Oscar continues his regiment of ARVs and a balanced diet, he will be fine.

Think about (Oscar, one year after treatment) hard this must be for parents and family members to keep a 12 year old on the regiment of HIV treatment. This takes patience, perseverance, and a will to follow through on behalf of the caretakers and patient.
God At Work in the Gifts of Family and Medicine

By God's grace, Oscar beat the odds, even without the final three doses of the cancer treatment. Oscar returned to health. He beat the cancer. The doctor said it was a miracle. He was 10 years old when this all started. He is now 12 and his family is dealing with the typical (Left, Oscar. very dark background whited by Pr. Sell) issues a family faces with any 12 year old.
The Word of God teaches us how God cares for His people through vocation. Oscar's story is an example of God's presence in a person's life. God uses the many blessings of His creation to care and heal people, which is rarely miraculous but sometimes is, often healing takes place through the normal way of life. He uses doctors and nurses, deaconesses and pastors, musicians and grandparents, medicine, cars, airplanes, and a poor orphaned sister. Just think of all that went into bringing the medical clinic a reality so that Oscar could be healed through the gifts so many of us take for granted. He uses people who can give financial means to purchase medicine and make these clinics possible. What a difference anyone of us can make.

Please keep Pastor and Deaconess Meeker in your prayers as they continue to work hard to help and care for Oscar and so many other people in need. What complicates their work is the fact that there are many "one parent orphans" whose mother is also very sick with AIDS or Malaria or TB - or a combination of all three, just like Oscar.

There is Life after AIDS

A year after Oscar was treated and was doing well, he visited his grandparents. They visited and had a meal. Afterwards, the grandfather told Dennis with a smile, after shaking Oscar's hand, "Now there's life in that boy."

Kenyan HIV/AIDS Statistics

In Kenya, about 15% of the population is infected with HIV/AIDS. Of a country of about 31 million people, it is estimated that there are over 1.2 million orphaned. The vast majority of orphans are the sad result of the HIV epidemic. The Friends of Mercy raises funds to build rescue centers, a place where orphans are nursed back to health, educated, and loved. Here are some statics about Kenya and HIV/AIDS. It is a culture where so many parents die by 30 yrs. old.

Kenyan AIDS Statistics (World Health Organization):

Total population: 36,553,000

Gross national income per capita (PPP international $): 1,300

Life expectancy at birth m/f (years): 52/55

Healthy life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2003): 44/45

Probability of dying under five (per 1 000 live births): 121

Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population): 432/404

Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2005): 96

Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2005): 4.5

Figures are for 2006 unless indicated. Source: World Health Organzation

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Can't Help Myself - RED WINGS WIN!!

For those of you who are hockey fans around the world, I just can't help myself to celebrate for a moment the Red Wings win last night. The funny thing is, it's hard to find a hockey rink in Kenya. :) I'm sure Pastor David Chuchu would enjoy hockey.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Why Yellow Corn is a Sign of Desperation

The next couple of years look desperate for the poor in Kenya. During the post-election violence (January 08), mobs destroyed the crops in Kenya’s “fertile crescent,” the Rift Valley, and farmers were forced to flee for their safety. This area of Kenya is the bread basket that provides Kenya’s food.

In a recent phone interview with Deaconess Lorna, she simply said, “They’re eating yellow corn in Kibera.” I mentioned this to a Lutheran Kenyan who lives in California. She immediately gasped and said, “Oh no, they’re desperate.”

To you and me the significance goes over our head. Kenyan corn is white. Yellow corn means that they are eating corn from the U.S. That means they are not able to proved for themselves and the corn they are eating is crisis aid from elsewhere. Therefore, yellow corn is about 3 times as much as the Kenyan white corn. Yellow corn is now 75 schillings per can, which is about $1.23. The average salary for a Kenyan is about $1 to $1.50 per day. The math is not very hopeful for the stomachs of the people of Kibera.

What is most worrisome is when you combine the sky-rocketing price of food and the fact that their crops were destroyed, many wonder if we will begin to see pictures of malnutrition and starvation coming out of Kenya. Food programs have begun, but there is so much to be done. It is our hope that we will continue to make a difference among the victims of AIDS, the children and the widows especially.

Read more here Kenyan Farmers Uprooted

Sibling Family: An Example of Lutherans Making A Difference in Kenya with Orphans

Mercy for AIDS Orphans in Kenya

(We withheld real names to protect the privacy of those mentioned.)

Meet June. June (right with brother on her back) is about 11 years old. She carried her brother on her back to the medical clinic at Springs of Life in Kibera slums. She was with a friend, Rose (left, holding the hand of a little girl), and after they signed up for the clinic and situated their siblings, June and Rose played together as little girls would. Then, when it was time to get down to business and see the doctor, she swung her brother onto her back and was acting like an older mother.

It was astonishing, yet sad, to see such a young girl switch roles so quickly. However, this is a common practice, called “sibling families,” wherein a child 11-16 years old will function as the parent to their younger brothers and sisters. These are the victims of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Orphans, millions of them, in Kenya alone, are left to fend for themselves because their parents died of AIDS, often by the time they were thirty years old. Kenya is only an example of the suffering in sub-Saharan Africa from HIV/AIDS and poverty. A gruesome and deadly combination.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Uganda Video, No Different for Poor AIDS Orphans in Kenya

Be ready to have your heart broken. Although this was taken in Uganda, we have come across similar situations in Kenya. A new friend from California, Lanny Cordola, introduced us to the web site, San Damiano Foundation, a foundation that produces video to help the poor around the world. Thanks Lanny!

Keep us in your prayers and help us help them.

Uganda Film: Sam & Esther Scene

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Meekers & Sell: Great Time with Lutherans Making a Difference in Kenya

Thanks to Everyone Who Hosted Us

What a trip it was. The Meekers arrived on April 12th. Deaconess Lorna left May 1st and Pastor Meeker's final preaching date was May 25th. In every stay, the local people provided us with places to sleep, eat, and relax a bit. There are so many people to thank, that I fear if I start listing them, I will miss too many. We visited with pastors, parish nurses, DCE's, teachers, elders, deacons, many laypeople, and others for about a total of 23 events. Meekers put about 9000 miles on their car and we flew around California for a week. Thanks especially to Cliff & Lori Lewis (above) who helped us line up visits in Southern California. Lori is a great organizer and Cliff and I had a great time talking physics on occasion, chaos theory. He told me my silly round hat that I wore on our trip to dinner one night was a sample of chaos. Hmmmm... still tyring to figure that one out. Oh ya, cliff is a physicist.

Sorry I Couldn't Keep Up the Travel Diary on the Blog

Once we got moving on our trip, several things came up unexpectedly (IA in the US?). Pastors Meeker and Sell both had deaths in their families. The more we traveled the busier we got. We added several more speaking engagements to our itinerary and when we had a few hours of down time here and there, we "rested our eyes," as my father used to call it.

Where's Deaconess Lorna?

"Where's Deaconess Lorna?"

"I thought she was going to be here?"

Those were comments Pastors Meeker and Sell heard often as they traveled during the second half of their trip.

IA - A Term We Learned from Parish Nurse Pam Boehle-Silva

"It's Africa."

For anyone who has traveled to more of a low-key country, you will snicker at this story. Many countries are not as fast paced as the U.S. Kenya is one of them. When we scheduled things in Kenya, the time of the appointment is more of a suggestion. Sometimes entire events will change at the last second without warning. Parish Nurse, Pam Boehle-Silva, (Holy Cross, Rocklin CA) told us of her trip to Kenya and how they finally began to respond to uncertainties with, "IA, It's Africa."

When Pastor Meeker and Deaconess Lorna flew to the states, they planned on being here, together, the entire time. We knew Deaconess Lorna needed to get back to Kenya to start classes the first week in June. The day before they left Kenya, she went to the school to double check that everything was ready to go when she got back.

Surprise! I.A. The administration told her everything was ready, but school was now going to start the first week of May instead of June. Pastor Meeker explained this and everyone was very gracious to understand that Deaconess Lorna needed to go home early. We made plans to get her home and fly her from St. Louis etc.

The first week in May arrives and Deaconess Lorna goes to school. She walks in to the class room and was told, "We had only 16 students and that wasn't enough for class. The school will start in September.

I.A. :)

In the Lord's hidden will, it was a fortunate event. As it turns out, Deaconess Lorna was needed by the people that she and pastor serve. For example, a young husband and wife, with 4 children of their own and caring for 5 orphans were living in a 10 sq. ft. home. Several of the children were sick. The wife/mother has AIDS, is suffering from breast cancer, and is undergoing chemo. Deaconess Lorna brought them some food and began to look for housing for several of the children. Too many under one roof. Too much sickness.

This is only one example of several situations wherein Deaconess Lorna was badly needed. In the end, maybe "I.A." is another way for us to pray, "Thy will be done."

Pastors Meeker and Sell Travel the US to Support Kenyan Lutherans and Mercy

Pastors Meeker and Sell traveled all over the U.S. in the last month and a half to raise awareness of the AIDS Epidemic and how it affects Lutherans in Kenya. Between the two pastors, they spoke in 5 states making about 23 presentations (IL, MI, OH, IN, IA, CA).

A portion of their presentation was to update people on the needs of the poverty stricken and disease infested Kibera Slums. Pastor Meeker serves Springs of Life Lutheran Church in Kibera and his wife serves as a deaconess in the ELCK.

So many people were made aware of the fact that many parents die by the time they are 30 and, in the words of ELCK's Bishop Walter Obare, "Every home is an unofficial orphanage." Every family works and contributes to care for the millions of orphans in Kenya.

Often in the states, once we get past the initial news blast of something "big," we tend to move on to the newest fad or disaster. However, this trip around the country reminded Lutherans that so many homes are in ashes, children are starving and dying of AIDS and widows are sick with many children to care for.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

In Memoriam - John Mwaura

Last week I mentioned that Pastor Meeker's chairman of Springs of Life, Kibera entered the church triumphant. He passed away from a sudden heart attack. Here is a video clip of him the way most of us in the states remember him. He was so very helpful to the ministry at Kibera.

I'm sure many people who traveled to Kenya will remember these sorts of scenes.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Keeping Up With Kenyans - Meekers

Sorry I fell behind. I had an unexpected trip to Fort Wayne on Tuesday last week for family matters. I know there are those who have left messages and I will catch up.

Last Week

Thursday - Saturday 4-17,18,19

Pastor Meeker has an uncle in IL who has been suffering from a terminal illness. Unfortunately, he received a phone call from his family and suddenly had to leave Fort Wayne on Thursday. He kept vigil with the family throughout the weekend. We kept Pastor and Deaconess Meeker in our prayers.

Sunday 4-20

Pastor Meeker presented at Trinity Lutheran Church in Manito, IL. Trinity and her pastor (Dan Chambers,) pastor are a great example of the faithfulness of your typical LCMS congregation. Pastor chambers faithfully preaches law and gospel, the sacraments are practiced faithfully, and they blessed with an understanding of mission through acts of mercy. Trinity has donated well over $6000 to help the Meekers with their ministry in Kenya. Trinity has about 160 communicant members.

Monday 4-21

Monday morning, Pastor Meeker's uncle was still struggling and the family continued to pray, "Thy will be done." However, the Meekers went through what we all go through when we are in the midst of a death bed vigil. The opportunities to proclaim the gospel of Christ's life in our stead are numerous. It is in God's death in Jesus that we have life. The work of Christ in our life, through faith, makes our death our VICTORY!!

In a phone conversation Monday afternoon, Pastor Meeker told me that they continued to provide the Word of comfort and the heavenly gift of the Lord's Suffer of which his uncle partook. Heaven was near for his uncle. He left him in the Lord's hands and the Meekers then drove to Valparaiso, IN. There, they ministered to his chairman's widow again and attended John's memorial service. Together with his member, now widow, they listened to God's word as it was read by those at the service. Word of the Lord endures forever. Below is a clip of John assisting Pastor Meeker at Springs of Life just before they left for the states.

Tuesday 4-22

After the service, the Meekers drove to South Whitley, IN. They arrived late at night again.
They stayed with my mother-in-law. I arrived earlier in the afternoon.

Wednesday 4-23

The Meekers attended the call service at CTS Fort Wayne, where they celebrated with friends who received their first calls to congregations. Afterwards, they left for Monroe, MI.

Thursday 4-24

Dennis and Lorna visited with a faithful supporter of mission/mercy work in Kenya. Sadly, the supporter's wife is battling cancer. We keep them in our prayers as they continue the struggle. Pastor Meeker commented how this faithful couple trust in the work of our Lord to bring them mercy. In the midst of their suffering, they continue to pray for those who suffer in Kenya.

Friday 4-25, 26, 27

The Meekers traveled to Cleveland, OH. They renewed friendships with friends and churches who support their work. Pastor preached and presented on Sunday at St. John's Lutheran Church, Cleveland, OH.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Your Gifts at Work Bring Hospice and our Lutheran Kenyan Work Together

Easter Comfort & Victory for Saints - Death is Dead -

The grant we provided for this most-important palliative care seminar in partnership with Concordia Theological Seminary's Rev. Dr. Arthur Just was possible only because of your gifts. Thank you for supporting the work of Friends of Mercy and being an example of how “Lutherans are making a difference!”

It was our objective from the start to have our domestic and international work intersect exactly where Christ delivers the victory over sin, death, and the devil. His altar brings the gifts of eternity to us who suffer the consequences of sin in this world.

Furthermore, the work of mercy is fulfilled in its fullness at the glory we experience at the moment of death. It is where God gets into the face of Satan and death becomes the door to heavenly eternity rather than the door of eternal death. The tears of suffering in this world becomes the joy of heavenly celebration in the very same instance where the devil thinks he wins, but our Lord takes that cross of suffering and even death, and by faith in Christ’s work, makes it our very own Easter celebration.

The work of Lutheran Cancer & Hospice Society purposely intersects with the work of Friends of Mercy in Kenya in this manner. The work of hospice will affect the life of many people in our lives and the lives of the saints in Kenya where pastors, evangelists, and deaconesses will bring the comfort of forgiveness, the mercy of God, and the hope of the resurrection to those who are HIV positive.

Meekers Arrive Safely - Travel Begins with a Sad Visit

Friday Night Delays

After the usual long and tiring trip from Kenya, the Meekers arrived safely. They flew through London and endured a 5 hour delay there, another hour and a half on the runway, and were picked up at Chicago O'Hare by Pastor Meeker's brother, Mark.

Saturday Rest - The Church Triumphant Grows

Saturday, they relaxed with family, but learned that the chairman of the Springs of Life Lutheran Church died of a sudden heart attack. His name is John. He worked his way out of poverty and was very well respected in Kibera. His wife had come to the states to study at Valparaiso University and was to go home in December 07. However, after the election violence broke out, she was unable to fly to Nairobi. So, she was still in Valpo when she learned of her husband's death.

Sunday Visit with Widow

Pastor and Deaconess Lorna stopped in Valpo on the way to Fort Wayne to bring the message of comfort, forgiveness, and the resurrection to the widow. Thankfully, they were able to bring this message of God's grace to the mourning bride.

Pastor and Deaconess Lorna arrived in South Whitley (They are staying with me at my mother in law's home, just west of Fort Wayne.) About midnight, a car pulled up in front of the house and we greeted the Meekers at the door. Deaconess Lorna in her "deaconess blues" and Pastor in his clerical. The work of the Lord endures through His word brought to the suffering by His servants.

Monday - Taxes; CTS Deaconesses; Indianapolis

Up at 5:30 am and on the road. First, they dealt with one of those certain things in life - taxes - with a 7:30 a.m. appt. to the tax prepare.

On to the seminary in Fort Wayne. Pastor and Deaconess met with the deaconess students during a field education class, took questions, and shared with the group their work in Kenya.

Then, they left for Indy to meet with INS on Tuesday and return to Fort Wayne Tues. night.

Tuesday Night - Dinner at Dr. Just's Home

Check back regularly for updates on the Meekers' trip to the U.S.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Kenyan Lutheran Pastor and Deaconess Lorna - the Meekers in the U.S. to Speak all Over the Country

Pastor Meeker and Deaconess Lorna arrive from Kenya tonight (April 11) and will travel throughout the U.S. to speak to churches, bible studies, meet with pastors and church leaders. Pastor Sell will travel with them in Indiana and California. They will return to Kenya May 29th.

They will spend some time in Fort Wayne, IN, IL, MO, MI, OH, and CA. It will be a month and a half filled with meetings, visits, preaching, bible studies and meeting with supporters.

Friends of Mercy is honored to partner with the Meekers in thier work in the Kibera Slums and throughout Kenya with Deaconess Lorna's work with other Kenyan deaconesses.

The Meeker story is unique. They met at the seminary in Fort Wayne. Pastor Meeker was studying to become a pastor and Deaconess Lorna to become a deaconess.

The Meeker's work mostly in the Kibera Slums where over a million people live in a 6 sq. mi. area. Whereas the HIV/AIDS rate in Kenya is about 15%, social workers estimate that number skyrockets to 40% in the slums. Pastor is called to Springs of Life Lutheran Church in Kibera and hosts medical clinics, HIV/AIDS education for youth, a pre-school, and of course a faithful Lutheran church.

They are currently trying to re-build what was at the Kibera site after the post-presidential election riots in January. (see other blog articles here and here)

Check back to learn about their speaking schedule. We will finalize it next week.

If you would like to help the Meekers and their ministry in Kenya, please donate to Friends of Mercy. We partner with them to support the proclamation of the gospel and the work of mercy in Kenya.

$15,000 FoM Grant to Fund a Palliative Care Seminar for Kenya's Lutheran Deaconesses with Arthur Just (Lutheran Gifts Making a Difference!)

Friends of Mercy Announces a New Partnership with Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne

Last January (08), Pastor Sell made a presentation at St. Paul's in Fort Wayne. Dr. Just heard the presentation and asked Friends of Mercy if we could possibly provide a grant to have him and Parish Nurse, Pamela Boehle-Silva train Kenyan deaconess to serve those who are in need of palliative care (comfort for those in pain). Pamela serves at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Rocklin, CA. Thankfully, we are in a position to make this happen. (Below, Dr. Just with ELCK deaconesses at 2006 seminar.)

Dr. Just and Parish Nurse to Train Kenyan Deaconesses

In June (08) Dr. Just and Parish Nurse Pamela will travel to Kenya to conduct a seminar at the Ogongo Deaconess College. Dr. Just said, "This seminar will engage them in the theological foundations for such care, along with the medical aspects of caring for those who are sick and dying, especially those who are suffering from HIV/AIDS."

The focus is the spiritual, emotional, physical, and end of life care. Friends of Mercy will fund the travel for all the Kenyan deaconesses to go to Ogongo, where ELCK's deaconess school is located. (Picture above right is the ELCK deaconess logo.) This would also be a time of fellowship for them, and an opportunity for them to engage our team in conversation about what it means to be a deaconess.
The highlight, as it is for all of our trips to Kenya, is to make home visits and attend gatherings of widows, orphans, and others who suffer from HIV/AIDS.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Back to Work - Blessings You Forget About - Medicine & AIDS in Kenya

Medicine in the States

A week ago I had carpal tunnel surgery. Many of you know what that is like. Until surgery, your fingers go numb, your hand aches, and pain shoots up your arm.

The surgery is simple. I was in the doctor's office for about 2 hours, which included pre-op, a 15 minute surgery, and an hour post op. I woke up in post-op and already the pain was gone, the fingers stopped tingling or going numb.

Before surgery, I couldn't even fill out my name and address on a form without taking a break because of numbness and pain. After surgery, that very night, I had no problems writing. The worse of it was the cut on the skin and 8 days later, that has completely subsided.

So it is back to work, so much of which is typing. It is so easy to forget how incredibly blessed we are in the states.

Medicine in Kenya

On the other hand, I couldn't stop recalling my experience when I assisted medical trips in Kenya with LCMS World Relief. Our trips often over-lap with them.

Hundreds of people lined up outside to see a doctor or nurse in a makeshift clinic. Last fall, over 800 people were cared for in a week and just about every day the volunteer staff closed registration at about 1pm because there were too many to care for.

For the most part, they waited for simple medicines that are very cheap and inexpensive here in the states. Anti-histamines, decongestants, malaria medicine (#1 killer in the world), HIV/AIDs testing, etc.

Kenyan doctors explain how operations are done with equipment cleaned in soap and water,
surgery after surgery. There is no sterilization equipment. From surgery to water to the next surgery is how it works. Often, only a quick rinse of equipment is done. Hospital equipment is old and not very safe. This is in the good hospitals.

So, next time you go to the hospital, doctor, or have outpatient surgery, say a prayer of thanks-giving for the incredible wealth of medical services we have in the U.S. The medical community of Kenya hope and pray for the medical equipment we throw out on a monthly basis.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

AIDS Widows and Orphans Experience Mercy through the ELCK - Kenya Building Rebuilding Homes and Cleaning - Order Restored

U.S. Relaxes Travel Limitations to Kenya

Thankfully, calm is the rule of the day in Kenya once again. Life is back to normal - as normal is in Africa. When you travel to Africa, you always must be "street-wise." I was raised in the city of Detroit and anytime you visit the city, you must engage your common sense. Just as our big cities are approached cautiously and wisely, so it is when Friends of Mercy travels to Kenya.

There are over 2.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS and the subsequent riots from the presidential elections did not stop the proclamation of the gospel and the work of mercy.

The ELCK (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya) continues to work hard throughout Kenya as her leadership assists members and villages with cleaning up, re-building, and proclaiming the gospel. It looks like we will follow through with our Faith & Mercy Expeditions in June and again in September.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Kenyan Lutherans Keep Going - Concordia Theological Sem Carries Update from Meeker

Pastor Meeker (Springs of Life Lutheran, Kibera Kenya) filed an update to Concordia Theological Seminary (CTS). He graduated last spring from CTS. He was unable to receive a call through the LCMS missions to Kenya because of their internal policies. So, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya agreed to accept him into their ministerium so that he could serve the people whom he had grown to love while he served a vicarage in Kenya. His wife Lorna is from Kenya.

CTS does a wonderful job of training pastors and deaconesses who are mission and mercy minded. Pastors and deaconesses often serve around the world. Pastor's wife, Lorna also was trained in CTS' deaconess program. Read his update at CTS' admissions blog.

Monday, March 10, 2008

GOOD NEWS FROM KENYA! Recent agreement provides stability. Lutheran Ministry continues

Here is an interesting and exciting message about Kenya's financial/economic outlook.

MUMBAI, Mar. 10, 2008 (Thomson Financial delivered by Newstex) -- Standard & Poor's (NYSE:MHP) Ratings Services said it has revised the Republic of Kenya's long-term outlook to stable from negative, citing the likelihood that the recently agreed power-sharing agreement will continue to stem the tribal clashes...

As we've stated in the past, a healthy economy and order in the society is important for the proclamation of the gospel and continued ability to provide the mercy of Christ in the acts of love through the work we do.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya marches on with their effort to provide hope and comfort for the lowly and suffering in Kenya.

Personally, I can't wait to get back to Kenya and see the work of Pastor Meeker, David Chuchu, Bishop Obare and so many of the pastors, evangelists, and deaconesses who work so hard, for so little worldly manna to bring the gospel and love of Christ to the people of Kenya.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Calm in Kenya - Meekers & Springs of Life Lutheran Rebuilding in Kibera

In a recent phone conversation with the Meekers, Pastor said that they were continuing with the clean up and began building a new fence around the property of the church. The property in Kibera is where Springs of Life Lutheran Church, the school, the medical clinic, and the parsonage are located.

The excitement was building as members of the congregation along with some contractors began to get the church fixed up. As the work progressed, it became a symbol of the calm that has returned to Kibera. The church members didn't give up. The bible studies are going again and the HIV support groups are organizing.

The stained glass windows above the altar were replaced and the roofing is going well.

The rebuilding of Springs of Life is because of people who are committed to making a difference through acts of mercy. Thanks to LCMS World Relief and supporters of Friends of Mercy, the progress will continue.

There is still much to be done. The picture to the left shows the stained glass window, the roofing progress, and the obvious work needed on the medical clinic. The medical clinic was at the back of the church which was renovated last year thanks to gifts from supporters such as St. John's Lutheran in Oxnard, California. Marilyn Gregory and Sandy Frandsen, members of St. John's, visited Kenya last October and were there to mark the dedication of the clinic.

St. John's has once again stepped up to the plate and has donated towards the rebuilding of Springs of Life. However, there are many others who have done the same. Thanks to so many faithful Lutherans in the United States, the work of proclaiming the Gospel and celebrating the sacraments will continue in Kibera.

Monday, March 03, 2008

US State Dept on the Kenyan Agreement - Now Lutherans Will Move Forward

Here is the statement from Condoleezza Rice on the the recent Kenyan agreement.

This is truly a blessing to the work of mercy in Kenya and in Africa generally speaking. As was recently reported in the media, it would have been a tragedy if Kenya went the way of Somalia. Turmoil and chaos always creates opportunities for thugs and terrorists to find a home. Kenya will continue to be a stronghold and a light for the furtherance of democracy and stability in Africa.

This story here, is why Kenya is so important for the proclamation of the gospel and the acts of mercy. An orderly and peaceful Kenya will make it possible for Friends of Mercy and others to move around safely and support the local altars in Kenya, such as Springs of Life Lutheran Church in Kibera.

Thanks Be to God for Kenyan Agreement

Last week, the deal was struck between the two Kenyan presidential candidates. From an article in Nation Media,

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown noted that the power-sharing deal was a “triumph for peace and diplomacy.”

Most people who support work in Kenya believe that things will get back to normal now with this important agreement.

Kenya is a good example of how our Lord uses the two "spheres" or kingdoms to implement His will on earth. The civil realm creates order (Romans 13:1-7) so that the spiritual realm, the church, can proclaim law and gospel and offer the sacraments.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Condaleeza Rice's Visit - Kenya's Stability is Key to Calm on the Continent, It's the Line in the Sand

This past week was a watershed event in the talks between opposing presidential candidates that will lead to civility in Kenya. Agreements were just about complete on Friday and Monday should see them finalized.

What most people don't realize is that Kenya is the line in the sand for many different reasons, including the war on terrorism. This article is a must read to understand the picture of the continent and Ms. Rice's work of diplomacy.

"The third issue was based purely on Washington’s concern over international terrorism. It is understood Dr Rice told the two sides that the US believed that should political instability take hold in Kenya, then terrorism would have found a new home."

Read the entire article: Revealed: Secrets of Talks with Rice

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Kenyan Lutherans Hopeful - Bush Supports Powersharing

About a week ago, I reported that things were moving in the right direction in Kenya to restore order to the country. Political leaders and international negotiators jumped major hurdles over the last couple of weeks.

In a phone interview with Pastor Meeker yesterday, he said, "Yes, things have settled down quite a bit. The key is to get the agreement to work. In spite of the trouble in Kibera over the weekend, things are pretty good. Most people in my congregation returned to their homes and are rebuilding, so there is plenty of hope."

Reuters Chronology

This is a big step forward. Of course, the implementation of the plan will make the difference. For a simple chronology of the events to reconcilliation see this well done article from Reuters ,

CHRONOLOGY-Kenya in crisis after disputed elections

Monday, February 18, 2008

Springs of Life Lutheran Opens School in Basement of Church

It was only a couple of weeks after the turmoil began that Springs of Life re-opened their school in the basement of the church. (Right) It started with a handful of students and a couple of teachers. As time went on, more students began showing up again. Even the older students. Education is the key to improving Kenya's problem with poverty and disease.

The blackboard was still usable and the children were excited to get back to work. They used pews from the church as tables. The pictures in this post are from a 2 weeks ago and the children are continuing to return to school according to Pastor Meeker (I spoke with him over the weekend, as I usually do).

The picture above shows the children on chairs that they salvaged from the fire in the pre-school.

As you can see (Above), the older children and the younger children are in what is now a one room school. It reminds me of our Lutheran schools in the states that still have a one or two room school, especially in rural areas.

As the members of Springs of Life continue to pull their lives back together, it is such a blessing to see the normalcy of daily life again.

As is always the case (Romans 5:1-5) our Lord uses the hard times of life to strengthen our faith, our trust in His mercy He grants,

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

The Lord continues to look graciously upon His people through the word and the sacramental life. So, baptisms continue. The Lord's Supper continues. Acts of love and mercy continues from other faithful people around the world. Thanks be to God.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pastor and Deaconess Meeker Helping More AIDS Orphans

Kawangware Slums - Lutheran School and Orphanage Need Help For Displaced Families and Orphans

Acts of mercy by Pr. and Dcns. Meeker (below, on the right) reach out to families in need. In a phone interview with them this afternoon, Pr. Meeker was updating me about the civil conditions in Kenya when he began to tell me about how his church, Springs of Life, others from the ELCK are also trying to help the people of the Kawangware slum.

This school and orphanage was one of the many our mercy partners from St. John's, Rochester, MI visited last October. Kawangware is in the Nairobi area as is Kibera.

Meekers have once again reached out personally to show christ's love to the AIDS orphans. Pr. Meeker explained how he and Dcns. Lorna had to step up and provide care for and find homes for 6 of the young children whose parents are notable to care for them. Several of the children are ill with AIDs.

The Meekers have taken a child themselves into their home, Veronica (above and below right). They fear Veronica is "sick." They patiently await the results from the HIV test to learn if this is "sick" or just sick. When they speak of "sick," they mean that the HIV virus has blown up into AIDS.

As you know from previous posts, the Meekers are supported by the ELCK

by allowing them to live in the GuestHouse in Nairobi. However, their financial support is based upon gifts from friends in the U.S. Now, they are looking for financial help for the six children they recently agreed to support.

There are so many children who need help. It could easily get you down. The daily constant flow into your life of hurt, pain, sickness, and death would push many of us out of Kenya as soon as we had a chance to leave. However, Pr. Meeker and his wife are committed to serve where the Lord placed them.

Please keep them in your prayers along with all of the churchworkers of the ELCK. There are about 64 deaconnesses throughout the country who are doing the same thing as Dcns. Lorna. There many more pastors and evangelists who are working to proclaim the gospel and care for the sheep the Lord gave to them.

Please consider helping. Donate to Friends of Mercy and support the work we do to help AIDS Widows, AIDS Orphans, and the church workers of the ELCK.

Online donations accepted or send a check to (made out to Friends of Mercy),

Please keep them in your prayers along with all of the churchworkers of the ELCK. There are about 64 deaconnesses throughout the country who are doing the same thing as Dcns. Lorna. There many more pastors and evangelists who are working to proclaim the gospel and care for the sheep the Lord gave to them.

Please consider helping. Donate to Friends of Mercy and support the work we do to help AIDS Widows, AIDS Orphans, and the church workers of the ELCK.

Online donations accepted or send a check to (made out to Friends of Mercy),

Friends of Mercy
546 Stoddards Mill Drive
Ballwin MO 63011Ballwin MO 63011

Your gifts are 100% tax deductable.