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.