Monday, January 20, 2020

Jan. 20

Ministry Partners,

It was a beautiful morning here and they told us breakfast was open at 6 but I arrived at 7 and the "omelette lady" did not set up in the restaurant until almost 7:30. They make the individually as you watch. Not a big deal but on days when we must drive far we would need to leave by that time. I could not find much that took my fancy to eat as all the hot items were local foods most of which don't meet my morning, appetite like peas mixed with ? in a tomato mixture, ect., plain spaghetti, hard boiled eggs, beet juice and papaya juice. Corn flakes with HOT milk only (only hot milk is offered with cereal) and fruit today was watermelon (flavorless) and papaya. I poured a cup of spiced African tea and asked for bacon (unusual to be offered) and a Spanish omelette made with cheese (they don't add cheese to their omelettes) as soon as the lady got ready and they brought the cheese but she made about 6 omelettes for other people here and it appeared she forgot mine so after about 20 min. I ordered again. All that to say, I had a nice breakfast with my tea, an omelette, bacon and wheat toast.

Last night I met three American ladies that are here with 7 electric sewing machines and lots of fabric for cloth backpacks, ect.. They said they are going to be teaching a group in sewing school uniforms and other things.

We were scheduled to do two prison crusades today but it got changed to only one so Aaron and Moses went into town to exchange more IRM money into shillings. I can tell that our ministry in Africa will be over soon as our funds are dwindling. In the absence of heading out to a prison and the guys gone to town I did something this morning I have never done, I took a nap.


The drive to the small prison of 77 was not long but when we arrived the O.C. said we were late and were to have arrived in the morning and the Chaplin said we were to be at a women's prison the afternoon but we could go there tomorrow. The O.C. said because they were so out of the way that they are often forgotten and they were blessed that we came there. He was a very tall man and every bit in authority.

The inmates were clustered around and under a tree for shade and Aaron and I had a bit of shade to preach from. The responses were evidence of the Holy Spirit's work and all the testimonies centered on receiving the free gift of salvation and on what they learned about the importance of forgiveness. I was very pleased so many of the guards stayed and listened and responded.

Then we were taken to the O.C.'s office for lunch, a special treat as most times that does not happen.

I gave the lady that fixed our lunch a donated scarf which made her very happy.

We talked about driving the few miles to the boarder of Tanzania but decided it was too late in the day. So we drove back to our hotel dropping off the chaplain who had ridden with us. Chaplin Edward had arrived from off-loading the bibles, booklets and supplies.

Last night I read this powerful poem by Cosette Marie Conaway, it speaks to the journey Jesus has me on :

So send I you-by grace made strong to triumph
O'er hosts of hell, o'er darkness, death, and sin,
My name to bear, and in that name to conquer-
So send I you, my victory to win.

So send I you-to take to souls in bondage
The word of truth that sets the captive free,
To break the bonds of sin, to loose death's fetters-
So send I you, to bring the lost to me.

So send I you-my strength to know in weakness,
My joy in grief, my perfect peace in pain,
To prove My power, My grace, My promised presence-
So send I you, eternal fruit to gain.

So send I you-to bear My cross with patience,
And then one day with joy to lay it down,
To hear My voice, "well done, My faithful servant-
Come, share My throne, My kingdom, and My crown!"
"As the Father hath sent Me, so send I you."

Please continue to pray for us.
That none would be lost,
Arlene

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Jan. 19

Ministry Partners,

This morning 6:30 was the wake up time as we needed to be packed up, had breakfast and be on our way to the women's prison, arriving there at 8:30.

Breakfast fro me was oatmeal, sausage, fried bread, yogurt, pineapple and tea. The very nice chef also made me some samosas, which I took for Aaron and I to eat later, although they were not on the buffet table.

Bishop Moses arrived a few minutes after we did at 8:25 at the prison. Aaron and I were both surprised that they let us through without Moses but I am sure they remembered us with him from yesterday. We drove just a little way on the prison property to the women's section. As we waited for the women chaplain to arrive i watched some of the women outside the walled area as they picked up leaves and debris and swept the dirt.

The chaplain arrived and Aaron entered with her to set up our sound system. Since they told me there were 5 children there I chose the remaining socks and a variety of caps for them to choose from.

I wish you could hear those 200 women sing. I thought the men could powerfully sing but the women today were just as powerful as they celebrated praising the Savior. I could have listened to them for hours.

The women were seated in an V shape, each under a shaded cover and they had me speaking in one of the sections with just a couple of feet space. I had one group turn their chairs and I walked out into the center of the V in the sun. There was a bit of cloud cover for a while then full sun. I was glad I had put some VERY light sunscreen on my arms and face but wore a short sleeved coverup so the back of my neck was covered. I wear it every day although it makes it hotter for me but I did not want to take a chance on getting my back and neck blistered again.

The Holy Spirit never changes and the demonstration of his power is the same yet different at each prison. Bishop Moses said today was the most powerful and that I was definitely a morning person and that we need to do every prison crusade in the morning. He witnessed guards leaving the gate to come and listen, they too had tears as many of the inmates did.

It is thrilling to watch them make good choices for themselves, choices that will change their lives forever. Powerful testimonies followed:
  • She said, "I really thank God for todays message on forgiveness. I have lived all this time not feeling worthy because of the choices I made when I was 14/15. I married a man who had a second wife and it was the beginning of ruining my own life.
After having two children the man left and I thought I have nothing
left and no one will ever love me with these children. I began drinking
and doing many negative things. But today I realize how much value
I have." 
  • She said, "Within this prison I have had trouble with my own inmates. With today's message of forgiveness I have decided to forgive my fellow inmates and myself.
  • She said," It has been very hard for me since I entered this prison. When I came here I found the woman who went after my husband was also here. I forgave her but I have lived with unforgiveness  towards my husband for two things: 1. He wasted my life. 2. He left me contracted with HIV/AIDS. He died without me forgiving him but today I choose to forgive him."
As each women cried as she shared, others were crying. As I mama hugged each one some just held me so tightly. As I sat down one women came and wanted me to pray for her. She wept as I held her in my arms and as I prayed for her she held on to me ever so tightly.

I distributed the socks and caps to the children, two of the little girls were so cute and dressed in the same pink dresses.

It was hard to leave but we had a long 4 hour drive ahead of us. We followed Moses into town where he left his car, he will be riding with us for the rest of this trip as will Chaplain Edward, who arrives tomorrow.

Ever so tired tonight, just ate dinner and I need to shower and go to bed. It is another 6:30 wake up call tomorrow.

Take my word for it, your prayers are being answered in the most powerful way and we appreciate your partnership with us and what God has called us together to do here.

That none would be lost,
Arlene

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Jan. 18

Ministry Partners,

Today after breakfast we mad the short drive out by the airport to the prison where we met Bishop Moses and three local chaplains. It is evident the the officers recognize Bishop Moses and it is nice to know that when Aaron is occupied setting up that I am very safe with him. This was a maximum security prison  so for the second time since I have doing prison ministry a woman guard frisked me and thoroughly checked my object lesson bag. 

When we got inside I was surprised to see all the prisoners assembled under a very large metal roofed open sided building. I could see there were prisoners in striped uniforms and then there were remand prisoners in grey uniforms and some in street cloths. The choir welcomed us with such wonderful singing and one prisoner played the keyboard the one of the chaplains brought.

The responses were many and the 4 testimonies were pretty much all the same: 
  • He said he was thankful to God that today’s message as he received Jesus as his Savior and the message of forgiveness has set him free from the long pains of unforgiving. He was planning to get out and do something terrible to the person who put him in jail but today he forgave him.

As each each one finished their testimony I gave them a "Mama" hug and spoke a blessing over them. The other inmates laughed at first and then applauded.

Then it was time to leave and go to another area on the same grounds for a Med. security prison there. We had to wait for over an hour so we parked in the shade and had our PB&J sandwiches and bananas.

I must tell you that when we entered that prison and they took us to the building where we were to hold the crusade I was very disappointed. The building was so small and only a few 100 of the inmates could get in to hear me. But Aaron and I agree later that even though the group was small there was a tremendous outpouring of the Holy Spirit as so many men wept. And the responses to each invitation showed His work in their hearts and so did the testimonies: 
  • He said how much, in the entire of his life, he had never heard such a message as today and he believed that today was the day God made just for him. He cannot wait any longer but to forgive immediately the person who brought him to jail and to forgive himself and be free.
  • He wept so he could hardly share his testimony as he said after listening and watching the object lessons he realized how much he hurt his wife and children. He made them suffer and lack for things that would have helped them survive because he neglected them and married another woman. A few months later, he was arrested and put in jail. It is amazing that his first wife, the one he abandoned, came and visited him in prison but the second wife has never appeared to this day. It is his prayer that his first wife and children will forgive him and from today, he declares and pledges to live a changed life for his family.
 Again I "Mama" hugged each one and blessed them. The reaction of the inmates makes me wonder when the last time was they were hugged by a parent.

On the way home we asked Bishop Moses, who was in his car, to show us where the supermarket was and I must say, you will have to asked me in person about that journey. But we arrived at the supermarket and purchased water, bread and more jelly. With all the traffic we were very happy to find that the supermarket was just around the corner from our hotel.

We ate dinner and I wrote this blog before packing up everything as tomorrow, after holding a crusade at a local women's prison, we will be traveling. I will miss my room and air-conditioning.
It is so very hard to believe that we only have one more week of prison ministry. My time here has gone far to quickly.

We value your continuing prayers, THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to keep us before the "Throne of Grace".


That none would be lost,
Arlene

Friday, January 17, 2020

Jan. 17

Ministry Partners,

A lot of planning went into today and I can tell you I was excited about my first day of prison ministry here in Kenya. And of course that excitement affected my sleep as I was up a number of times during the night and finally at 5 o'clock that was the end of my sleeping.

The people here were we are staying are so very nice. I met Gladys, whose husband is a pastor, and she tried to do all she could to get me on the Internet last night by even supplying me with a modem. The lady that sold Aaron what he needed for my computer was actually only for a phone so I could not get my computer online with my own Wi-Fi. Because of my hip injury and the disc that is out in my back we chose to take some rooms at the far side of the complex instead of taking rooms where I had to walk upstairs. But I have a feeling that the rooms we chose are not used often as a light in the bathroom was so faint it was nonexistent, and at one point, n the middle of the night, there was no water in to flush the toilet. Then I got so cold that I got up and put some cloths on and went to bed dressed. Aaron had an issue in his room too so I spoke to the Receptionist before we left for the prison and I hoped some issues could be resolved before we returned from the prisons.

We had breakfast and then waited for Bishop Moses to arrive to show us the way to the prison. It actually was not too far out of town and when we arrived we met with four of the pastors who work at the prison, godly men with big broad smiles welcomed me. We were invited to their office to have breakfast with them as they provided hard-boiled eggs, hot chocolate and bread and jelly. According to Bishop Moses is a part of the culture to eat before starting ministry. I felt bad because Aaron and I had eaten a big breakfast so I explained and just had a cup of hot chocolate. I told them if I ate another breakfast I would not be able to preach I would be sleepy and want to take a nap to which they all laughed.
I must must admit I really like some of the O.C.'s that I have met and so it was with both of the ones I met today. After taking photos we were off to where the prisoners had gathered. While the men were getting everything set up I went out and begin to shake hands with the prisoners and tell them, "Good morning," or when I could remember, "Jombo (?)" meaning how are you. It seems to break the ice with the prisoners when I do that.

 At one point during the crusade the staff person for the O.C. appeared with an iPad and begin videoing me. Of course the focus then of the prisoners went to her instead of what the Holy Spirit was doing their hearts. So I stopped and let her finish before I continued. Very often the O.C.'s will send someone to take photos but videos are a very different thing. I certainly would not want them appearing on YouTube or anywhere else on the Internet.

We were blessed to watch the Holy Spirit for the inmates as they responded each of the three invitations. Then there were those that gave a testimony, I chose this one to share:

  • He said he was thankful to God for the forgiveness message. He was in prison for being accused of abusing a 14 year old child and the woman who caught him was an elderly woman who could not forgive him even when he asked her. A few months later she died without ever forgiving him. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and for over 10 years he has lived with guilt but today, he saw that woman in Bishop Arlene and because I came with the forgiveness message he believed God was telling him to let go of the past. Now he declares he is free even though he is serving a life sentence.
When we finished I thought we were going to the next prison but I was informed that the pastors had arranged for us to have lunch. Goodness another treat, something special instead of our usual PB&J's sandwich. I was concerned as time is fleeting and we had to be finished by 4 o'clock but the pastors all assured me that they would eat quickly. We return to their office and two ladies appeared with a huge variety of delicious food. One very thick white food that I cannot remember the name of that reminds me visually a very thick mashed potatoes but really does not have a taste of its own, rice, goat stew, fish, a cooked cabbage and vegetable mixture and mangoes for dessert. What a feast.

Then it was off to the second prison in the same compound where we were introduced to the O.C. in that section. I cannot tell you how much fun I have pushing the, "I am 75 so I am mama to everyone," and that way I get to put my arm around these nice handsome men and give them a hug while we have our photo taken. Nothing foolish about me.

The most all of them had a chair to sit in which was unusual although a few were standing around the edges. Today they prove although they are known as men made wrong choices they could make good choices for their life in responding to the three invitations. Then there were those one to give their testimony:

  •  A lame inmate said that his body may be in jail but his spirit is out of jail as he received Jesus as his Savior and he forgave everyone who offended him.
  •  Today when he heard the message of forgiveness it had been over 10 years since he has been in prison and none of his family has come to visit him and because of the he has had too much pain and never thought he would ever forgive any of them. But because of today's message he chooses to forgive. 
I told him that no other family may have come to visit him but mama from America came to visit him.
We finished and when we all arrived at the van outside we formed a circle and thanked God for what we had just watched the Holy Spirit do in the hearts of the prisoners.

When we arrived back at the hotel Gladys greeted us and when she found out there had been a problem with our rooms she said she was moving us to the main building if I could handle some stairs. I said I could, so she took me up one flight of stairs and opened the door to a very spacious room. Yes, you got it, another suite, this time with a beautiful purple trimmed mosquito  and the room had a veranda that overlooks the street vendors outside. Now if I had time it would be a great place to have morning tea or in the evening, a cup of spiced African tea. Aaron and Moses's rooms are next-door.

After getting our rooms changed the guys headed into town to fix what needed to be fixed so that my Wi-Fi would work not just on my phone but also for my computer. Leaving me here to write this post. I told them that if they were not backed by seven I was gonna go down and eat without them. I needed to get this posted, eat, shower and get to bed early for I have two prison crusades to preach tomorrow.

Please continue to pray.

That none would be lost,
Arlene

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Jan. 16


Ministry Partners,

Today was another early morning as the alarm went off at 5:30. Aaron said he wanted to leave Heart Lodge by 6:30, as it was a 6 to 7 hour drive.

Heart Lodge is a wonderful Christian place to stay, they always do all they can to make your stay comfortable, pleasant and refreshing. Everyone that works there has such a servants heart and the only thing that is a bit different is that at mealtime you are asked to please clean up after yourself, scrape off your plate and rinse it off then put it in the rack along with your rent step cup and silverware. It is nice to be able to do such a small thing to show them how thankful you are for the wonderful service.

The chef there was so sweet that when he found out we were leaving at 6 he wanted to know if we wanted breakfast at 5:30. I told him no, that I could not ask him to rise that early but if we could get some bananas and bread I could make us a PP&J sandwich.
I told him how much I enjoyed staying there and he said that he and his staff were always excited when they found out we were coming.

OH MY GOODNESS, these are the boxes he packed for each of us: bananas, juice carton, milk carton (he added later) & bowl that he wrapped with a spoon, box of cornflake, PP&J sandwich, chips, 2 hardboiled eggs and water. We not only ate breakfast out of those boxes but we also had lunch.

I was disappointed that my camera was not working for we drove through the same area and again I saw zebra, Giselle and a huge baboon. The zebras and baboon were too far to even capture with my phone but I did get to see them.

We arrived in Kisumu in 6 ½ hours and set about trying to find the camera shop I have found on the Internet when I google searched, “Is there a camera shop in Kisumu?” Sorry to say I was not able to get a new battery for my camera. While Aaron left me in the van and set about getting what I needed for my portable Wi-Fi. 

I noticed an older man sitting outside one of the shops who after some minutes he came up to my open van window and begin talking to me. He wanted to know what International Reconciliation Ministries was all about. We actually chatted for quite a bit and he told me that he was a Catholic and that was my opportunity to talk about having head knowledge, knowing some religious facts and doing good works is not enough according to Ephesians 2:8&9. We actually talked for quite a while and I ended up giving him a tract, which he went over and sat back down in his chair and kept reading. It was a great opportunity to share the gospel with him.

Then we called Bishop Moses and he gave us the address of the hotel where we would be staying. I am glad that it is also by a Christian organization. My room is small with two beds, a target, a shower, a mosquito net and an air conditioner.

Edward left yesterday with the bibles and booklets from Nairobi and from here today He also took the other supplies we purchased to start off-loading them at each prison we will visit. It will take him a few day before he returns.

There is a church right next to where our rooms are and I listened to them singing, “Majesty” in English. What a nice welcome to my room. Oh well, maybe I spoke too soon the very loud preaching has begun. 🌝🌝🌝

Tomorrow is the first two prisons of the 17 we have to do here. We appreciate your prayers.

That none would be lost,
Arlene

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Jan. 14 & 15


Ministry Partners,

The events of yesterday proved that my decision to cancel the last prison in Uganda and use that day as a travel day to get to Nairobi Kenya was a good one. We stayed at a hotel close to the border, which saved us about two hours that we would have had to drive had we done that last prison. We left our hotel at 8 AM and the crossing at the border took about 1 ½ hours. The journey to Nairobi should have taken about eight hours but complications set in during the whole drive.

It took about an hour and a half for us to connect with Bishop Moses and then as we were driving through the mountains the van begin to overheat and we had to pull off and wait for it to cool enough to proceed. I asked Aaron if Ugandans ran coolant in the radiator or just plain water and he said just plain water. We finally found a gas station and Aaron purchased some coolant to put in the radiator and we were finally on the road again.

I was very disappointed that it that point it begin to get dark and as we traveled through an area where the zebras were it was so dark I could not take a photo. Now my camera is not working so I only have my phone for photos and I saw the most zebras I had ever seen in one grouping, probably 100 or more.

We had a few more mountains to cross over and it began to rain. We were using Aaron’s phone for a  GPS and it would not charge in the port that was by the radio. He had used up his power pack which also would not charge in the port. I tried to charge my phone in the port and it would not charge. We started using Bishop Moses’s phone for a GPS so we could find Heart Lodge where we have reservations  but it got to a point that it needed charging. 

Aaron suggested we use his phone cord and the “port outlet” that did not work for us to charge Moses’s phone …… and it worked. 
Now, you can think what you want but we all knew it was "a God thing" that Jesus was taking care of us! 

From experience, I can tell you that getting lost in the dark here can be a scary thing especially when it is raining, you are unfamiliar with the road and the road itself puts the Ugandan roads to shame with potholes, missing pavement in general and other cars and bikes just trying, as we were, not to fall in one. Moses’s GPS had taken us on a very undesirable road, if one can call it that but it did get us eventually to the Lodge.

We should have arrived at the lodge at 4 or 5 but we finally arrived at Heart Lodge about 9:30+, a 13 ½ hour road trip. It is a Christian Lodge and Charles had stayed up to welcome us. He showed us to our rooms and they had upgraded me to a beautiful suite as well as a suite for Aaron and Chaplin Edward, who met us there. Bishop Moses’s room was upstairs.

But the 7pm dinner I feared would be cold was buffet style laid out for us nice and hot by the chef and with a smile too! Fillets of chicken, rice, spicy meat samosas, buttered carrots, seasoned broccoli and for dessert, ice cream and homemade cookies. 

I can tell you, my bad hip was sore from all the bouncing at one point I had to take some pain medication, the first on this trip, but a hot shower and laying flat in bed never felt so good.

Jan. 15

Breakfast was at 7:30 with orange and passion fruit juices, potatoes, omelet’s, crepes, pineapple, watermelon, mango and wheat toast. Oh, and not to forget, the spiced African tea.

It was time to head off to the Bible Society to procure the bibles I had ordered. Aaron’s charged phone GPS took us around and about, even though an industrial, slum area. It sure was taking us the long way around but even in this, God was watching out for us as a street police officer stopped us and said we were getting a flat tire on the front. If we had we been whizzing down the freeway the tire would have been ruined and we would have been in all the traffic. 

We slowly limped to a gas station and found that there was a problem with the stem. Aaron said it was probably from all the bad road last night.
Finally, making it to the Bible Society, we found that the truck we hired had become a van. And when the very nice lady there showed me one of the 880 large print, soft cover Swahili and one of the 100 large print, soft cover English bibles I had ordered ....... the large print English bible had become small print small size due to cost! Small print is not usable for the inmates as they have no glasses and rooms are dark. We learned long ago that they tend to use those small print bibles for toilet paper since they can’t see them to read. I had been quoted $6.10 when I ordered but she said I was quoted the wrong price, that the large print was $12. We continued the discussion and she agreed to let us have the 100 English for what I had been quoted. She said they would partner with IRM this time in getting bibles to the prisoners. 
 
 
She also said each of those bibles came with a protective brown cover although the cover it had was suitable! Another time when we found favor, thanks for your prayers.
Once the bibles were loaded Edward and Moses left taking them back to Kisumu to pick up the remaining supplies and began off-loading some of everything at the 17 prisons we are scheduled to do ministry in the next two weeks.
Aaron and I went back to the lodge where I made him a sandwich and then he was off to get the radiator fixed. Charles said there was a shop close that they use so we know it can be trusted. My wonderful camera, gifted a number of years ago by a friend, is broken or in need of a new battery so Aaron is going to see perhaps he can find a camera shop close where I can buy one.

Aaron says we need to leave at 6am tomorrow to head to Kisumu where we will do our first Kenyan prison crusade the next day.

As you can see, we REALLY need your prayer covering. Everything that has happened just proves the enemy knows that we are about to share the Gospel, the love of Jesus Christ, in a BIG way and he is very unhappy with us and trying to take our focus off of what god has called us to do here.

I appreciate you each one and your continuing prayers. 
  • Open hearts for the Gospel
  • Favor with everyone we meet
  • A fresh anointing for Aaron, Edward and I
  • Health and energy
  • Travel safety
That none would be lost,
Arlene