Our Beloved Friends and Family, Nov. 17, 2010
We hope this letter finds you all doing well, living in the presence of our Lord and Savior. Home is in our thoughts daily this time of year. We are missing the beautiful autumn of Colorado! The weather here has been changing as well, and we have now finished the transition from rainy season to dry season. Everything in sight is brown, and the wind is constantly blowing with dust devils kicking up here and there. The Karimojong have gotten themselves ready for the season as much as possible. Their basic attitude is to endure, and if God is willing, we will see April rains soon. Our garden has almost come to an end for the year. We have a few more tomatoes to pick and thankfully, a lot more lettuce.
Since we have written you last we have been joined by the remaining members of our team, the Fulks. Cody, Michaela, and their 5 kids arrived the first week of Oct. and seem to have made a smooth transition to life in Kotido. They jumped right in and started helping with anything that needs doing, including housing all of the Shalom Home crew while the building is under construction. Their kids have made many friends already, and have given our kids the courage to spend more time outside our yard playing. We can already see many ways in which they can be used here in Kotido, especially with the children from Shalom Home. We thank God for bringing them here to join us!
We have been blessed this past month with some quiet time here in Kotido. We have not done much traveling and have been able to really sink our teeth into the work. Rainbow Mike, the director of Shalom Home, has been overworked and as a result, in poor health. We have taken over some of his responsibilities including a ministry to the vulnerable people (widows, sick, elderly, blind, lame, etc.) in the area called the “Mercy Ministry”. Included in the ministry is a crippled lady with five dependent children, a grandmother raising her grandchildren because they lost a parent to AIDS, a family of nine where both parents are HIV positive, and other situations very similar. We have starting taking food to them in the villages, helping with medical care, and providing whatever other help we can. It has been such a blessing to meet these families and be reminded of how blessed we are!
One family that we have become especially close to has a little girl with HIV who is the same age as Nevaeh. We have fallen in love with Akelo Rikot and have been very involved in her life. There is a stigma surrounding those with HIV here, and even little ones are not exempt. She is often called names in her village and mothers warn their children not to play with her or they may “catch” HIV. When we bring food or take her to the doctor the villagers ask, “Why do the muzungus (white people) waste their time and money on this dead body?” It is a heartbreaking situation, but we know that God can be glorified and make his name great through this child. She is currently in the hospital and has lost a lot of weight due to what we think is malaria. Be in prayer for Akelo’s health and for wisdom in how to best help her. If you want to read more of her story, go to www.williamsinthewilderness.com
Construction on Shalom Home is coming along very nicely. Work here is slow since there are no power tools and all construction is done with hand tools. The building has had windows put in, concrete plastered on the outside walls, a ceiling put in, and the fence and gate finished. Until construction is finished, Rainbow Mike and his family are staying with the Fulks. Please pray that God will stretch our funds as he did with the bread and fish so that we will be able to finish the project. We can’t wait to see the kids back in the home and off the streets!
As for our family, we are doing really well. Kristi and the kids are in their second month of home schooling, and the kids love it! Ezra is now reading and has quickly caught up with Vaeh in math. Zion and Israel enjoy their “school” as well and are learning shapes, colors, numbers and letters. They all enjoyed making hand “turkeys” this week in preparation for Thanksgiving. Selah is growing like a weed and has been wearing her 3-6 months clothes for over a month now! She is rolling over and smiling all the time. She is such a delightful baby and is loved by everyone in town. They call her “Nakiru” which means “rain” since she was born during rainy season. All of our kids have really flourished in the last two months, and are adjusting amazingly well. They have made friends and often go out to play football (soccer) and jump rope. They especially enjoy all of our fun pets which have included a dove, two baby ducks, a puppy, a kitten, and 8 baby chicks (also various frogs, turtles and lizards). We are so proud of the way they are learning to care for the hurting among us by giving of their “abundance” to those with less. They are such a blessing to us!
We thank all of you that read our letters, pray for us and support the work that God is doing here. Please remember that correspondence goes both ways. We want to hear from you as well! We look forward daily to checking our email and facebook J We always say it, but we truly believe that we are sustained by the prayers of those back home. We will end this letter with things you can pray for and opportunities for you to be involved if God leads…..
- Pray for the completion of Shalom Home (funds will stretch, laborers will be diligent, kids will be back in soon)
- Pray for Akelo Rikot’s health. (due to HIV and medicines for HIV she cannot keep weight on, is always sick, and cannot maintain an adequate appetite. She is 7 yrs old and weighs less than our 2 yr old)
- Pray for a health worker. We have been asking God to send us a nurse, doctor, or any health worker that can live in the Kotido area and go out with us to the villages to do basic medical care in the villages. The people in the villages need access to medical care so badly.
- Pray for Israel’s health. (Israel has been having regular rectal prolapses for over a month now. We do not have medical care here that can deal with this, so we pray)
- Pray for our language progress. We take classes 3 times a week, we struggle, progress happens slowly, but we know it is an act of love towards the Karimojong, so we continue.
- God will provide finances to do all the things we believe he has called us to do. “Where there is vision, there is provision.”
- Laborers to join us here! Everything takes more time, so much so that we can’t get everything done and could use more help.
We love you all! Thank you for being a part of our lives.
Kenneth, Kristi and the Williams clan (Nevaeh, Ezra, Zion, Israel, and Selah)
Today was a good day.
Today a little girl wasn’t called names or shunned by her village.
Today a little girl is not hearing, “Why are those muzungus (white people) wasting their time and money on that dead body?”
Today a little girl is not burning up with fever, sick and alone.
Today a little girl took her HIV medicine (thank God that she has some now!).
Today a little girl had breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Today a little girl had a friend to play with.
Today a little girl colored in a coloring book for the first time.
Today a little girl played dress up and pretended to be a princess.
Today a little girl twirled and danced, laughing and giggling.
Today a little girl is moving to Shalom Home (Yay!!!).
Today (hopefully) this little girl feels loved (because she is!!)
And my daughter’s comment when we explained how Akelo is treated by other kids?
“You mean they won’t play with her just because her blood can’t touch theirs?”
That’s right, Vaeh, it is crazy…
A couple of weeks ago Kristi and her mom, Marcia, went to one of the villages near our town to visit one of the families we sponsor. The family is a grandmother raising several of her grandkids. She had lost her daughter to AIDS and son in law to a gun battle. As a family they have a little land on which they plant sorghum that is usually enough to last them a couple months out of the year. The rest of the year they don’t know where there food will come from. Two of the grandsons are in primary school through our sponsorship program and the other is a shepherd who looks after a little livestock they own. He walks far every day with the livestock to find pastures to graze on. The granddaughter is a beautiful 7 yr. old girl named Akelo Ricot. Akelo caught HIV from her mom before mom died. Kristi fell in love with her instantly and was saddened to hear that Akelo cannot get treatment for HIV because there are no testing machines in our area. She came home to me that night after her village trip and said, “Kenneth, we have to help this little girl. If we don’t, she’ll probably die.”
We decided to make the drive to Lira, a town a couple districts over from ours. Lira is the closest place we know of to get the testing done. With Akelo not speaking any English, Rainbow Mike agreed to go with us and help translate. A few days later we set off for Lira at 6am Friday morning. We arrived in Lira by 1pm and immediately Akelo was being led around by doctors and nurses to get poked, pricked, and prodded for testing. She is an amazing little girl and not once in all of this did she cry. She held tightly to my hand as we went from one room to another. In the meantime I was so moved by this little girl that I wanted to give her everything in life and relieve her of any suffering she might experience. She didn’t have any shoes, so Rainbow bought her some shoes. We ate tangerines, drank soda, and ate candy together. She had never had any of this. We went to a small, cheap restaurant together and she got chicken and rice. She at as much as she could and stuffed the last bit of rice in a plastic bag she had. At the end of the day, we got all her tests done, and the next morning we left for the return drive home.
It was great to be able to share what we had with Akelo but I know that what she needs more than anything material we can give her is people who will love her, be with her, pray for her, and encourage her. It is often the custom in the villages when someone gets HIV to shun them. To not eat together, sleep together, and interact. They are often ostracized. Akelo’s grandmother seems like a lady who loves her very much and wants to take care of her. When we finally got back, it was time to part ways; at least for a little while. We sent Akelo and the grandmother off with her meds (to be taken daily) and a few supplies. Please join with us and keep Akelo in your prayers. I know that there are thousands if not millions of little Akelos across Africa with HIV. She is the one God has given us to bless us, to soften our hearts, and to teach us to love deeply. Join with us in lifting up Akelo to our father who is the great physician and has power over all things. We wanted to share this story with our friends because we want you to love Akelo and pray for Akelo as you have done for us. We know you will and thank you for that.