Rainforest

“Quick! Bukasa Island! What comes to mind?”

Rain forest

The sound of blessed silence. Monkeys quietly chittering. Parrots cawing somewhere in a far away tree. The wind as it rustles through the trees. Holy silence. This monastic silence was quite welcome.

It gives one a deep joy to float to the middle of Lake Victoria to see, out of seemingly impenetrable rainforest, a Russian onion dome appear over the top of the trees. In this unforgiving land where there are no modern conveniences, for the last 32 years Orthodox faithful have built a church, one rock at a time. Even at times carrying those rocks on their – several kilometers – one rock at a time. This church has truly been built on the Rock of Christ as evidenced by the slow, painful obedience and faith that these Orthodox people and priest have shown as together they raise a great Light to dispell the dark cloud of animistic paganism.

This joy permeated my heart through my fever ridden time due to malaria. Though difficult, it is good to have the pride of body broken. Thanks be to God for the doctor from another island who confirmed everyone’s suspicions and recommend treatment. Thanks be to God for those who helped care for me during the time of illness. By everyone’s prayers I managed my way through Divine Liturgy on Sunday.

My time with Fr. Christopher and Matushka Maria Walusimbi, and the faithful of Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church comes to an end. It has been a blessed time. Fr. Christopher was in tears when I told him of the support and love from all of the faithful supporters of Orthodox Africa.

Let’s join these faithful people, letting them know they are not alone in their prayer and ministry on Bukasa Island, Lake Victoria, Uganda. Join me and put your hands on the lighthouse that shines a spiritual light to many generations of people who have been born under the demonic cloud of pagan darkness.

Read about Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church here. Donate to Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church here.

~Fr. Silouan

Concrete Flooring Being Installed

St. Innocent Academy’s plea for help has been answered.  Glory to God!

In the May 9, 2017 article Seven Floors for Seven Classrooms, readers learned of the need for concrete floors to prevent jigger infections in the feet of students and responded to the call.  Enough donations have been received so that concrete has been purchased and two of seven floors have been installed.

The remaining classrooms are in process of receiving concrete floors.  The anticipated completion date is the end of June.

In the mean time, students are meeting outside of the classroom while the floors are being laid.

Thank you to each person who donated to this project.  It is much appreciated!

The Globe-trotting Director

Father Silouan and the Vicar General, Fr. Barnabas, visited Saint Innocent School Wednesday, June 7, 2017.   Father Jonah said, “I am humbled and appreciate the great donations of text books and two soccer balls. We also received enough money to finish cementing the floors of the five remaining classrooms and add doors to the school. Father Silouan spoke with teachers and the Board of Management.  He was pleased to see great changes in the Centre and especially among the children! We thank His Grace for His blessings and donation towards the lunch programme for the day!”  The most important thing Father Jonah spoke of was his discovery that “when we unite together, we are able to go far!”  This, dear friends of Orthodox Africa, is the living out of our purpose and mission.  They met the owner of a playground who wants to sell it to the school ($4000). A promise was given to purchase it in the near future.

Father Silouan also presented them with some relics of Saint Gregory the Great.

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On June 1, 2017 (Thursday) Father Silouan had a wonderful afternoon with Bishop Athanasius (Akunda), his Secretary General and several other area priests at Bishop Athanasius Secondary School.  Father Silouan presented the school with $500 for textbooks.  Currently four children share one text book. More textbooks means less children need to share, allowing each child to study more easily.  He said, “On behalf of all the people served here, thank you.  May God bless your efforts.”

Alot of cheers, dance and fun in welcoming Bishop Athanasius of Kisumu at Bishop Athanasius sec school Mugen.

Posted by Amadiva Athanasios on Friday, June 9, 2017

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Father Agapios, Director of St. Tabitha House, took Father Silouan on a tour of the Kiberia slums Outside Nairobi, Kenya to visit some of the local residents and learn more about them.

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Most recently Father Silouan traveled by overnight bus to Uganda.  After being met at the bus station by Basil Walusimbi, Father Silouan met Father Christopher Walusimbi, rector of Annunciation Orthodox Church (read about the church here) in Kampala where they will be meeting His Eminence, Met. Jonah of Kampala and many other local Orthodox Christians.  Thursday he is scheduled to go to Bukasa Island. He will be spending approximately 5 days with Father Christopher and his wife, Maria, greeting parishioners, touring the island and assessing the needs of this blessed mission church.

Stay tuned for upcoming presentations about our work in Kharkov, Ukraine and Moscow, Russia!

“Enlarging the Land” Benefits All

The benefits of owning land far outweigh the benefits of not.  Currently, St. Irene’s Orthodox Mission Center pays rent for the small portion of land they use.  The structures in which the children learn and live are constructed for temporary usage.  Water must be brought in.

It would allow the Mission Center to put a solid roof on each building rather than the current tin.  When it rains, the sound of it hitting the tin is quite loud.  That kind of atmosphere is not conducive to a good learning environment and is quite distracting.  Teachers must raise their voices to be heard, if they can be heard at all.  Children cannot think clearly for the pounding above their heads.  As Fr. Silouan said, “A solid roof would immensely improve the learning environment.”

Dormitories can be built for the children to live in and a residential area for guests are included in the plans.  A well can be dug to provide water!

Most importantly, it will bring about the sense of permanency, something these children do not have in their lives now.  With joint ownership between the Archdiocese and Orthodox Africa, the parish would remain intact should the priest be transferred to serve another parish.  This ensures the children a permanent home and education center until adulthood.

To donate to this worthy cause, please click here and be redirected to the donation page.

Tour the property with Fr. Constantinos, the Director of St. Irene’s Mission Center and Father Silouan, the Director of Orthodox Africa.

St. Irene Mission Center: Enlarging the Land

St. Irene Orthodox Mission Center is an institution that supports orphans and vulnerable children. It was started in the year 2010 by Father Constantinos and Papadhia Teresa, who have played a great role since its inception up to date. It started from a humble single room which was used as a classroom; as well as a church, and for catechism lessons. After a period of seven years of struggle, the Mission now consists of 96 children.

One of the major challenges of this Mission, is land. Father Constantinos indicates that it has not been able to purchase land of its own; and that rent is very expensive. Lack of land restricts the Mission from building permanent structures, and drilling wells, for its orphans. These items are desperately needed to better care for the children.

   

Fortunately, the land where the mission is situated is being sold for $50,000 of which $3,000 has been saved for this purpose. On behalf of St. Irene Orthodox Mission, Father Constantinos requests your best effort to help raise the rest of the remaining money. With negotiation, he is sure the seller would accept $30,000.

To donate to this worthy cause, please click here and be redirected to the donation page.

$4,100 Raised for “Permanent Lunch Location”

To the Glory of God, over $4,000 has been raised towards the $25,000 goal for St. Barnabas Orphanage and School Campaign for a Permanent Lunch Location. That is 16% of the goal in just over 6 days!

To the donors and supporters who have gotten this Campaign off to such a glorious start the Fr. Methodius, Everlyn, the leadership, teachers, and especially the children, thank you.

Father Methodius and Everlyn’s dream to provide a home to 50 orphaned children is one step closer. The opportunity which has presented itself that can help them move to the first phase of their dream is one step closer. The home that can easily house more children who have no home, can have a bed to sleep in, food to eat, and a place to play and learn is one step closer.

If you have not donated, please consider supporting Saint Barnabas Orphanage and School to help them achieve Phase One of their dream – A Campaign for a Permanent Lunch Location.

Watch the video to see the land and the home. Listen to Father Methodius’ speak of the possibilities and join in him furthering the mission of Saint Barnabas Orphanage and School.

To donate to A Campaign for a Permanent Lunch Location click here.

Gratitude in Suffering – Kenya 2017

There are days when I can barely move my body. The pain that shoots through me brings tears to my eyes at times.  There are days when the pain that shoots through my mind causes me to writhe in pain.  In my weakness God makes me strong. I am grateful.

There are times when I look around, I look into the faces of the smallest of the small, and am nearly overwhelmed with the suffering that reflects back at me.  No child should suffer…ever.  No child should be hungry. No child should be homeless.  No child should be shoeless.  Here in Kenya, the most vulnerable are hungry, homeless, shoeless and suffer.  In my weakness God makes me strong. I am grateful.

Job asked, “Why God?”  I echo his words.  God’s answer is the same, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” (Job 38:4)  I hear His words and stand in awe of He who created us all.  I stand in awe of His great mercy.  I seek to serve those in need, yet they serve me.  I am blessed and rejoice in it.  I am grateful.

Here is the latest news from the various missions and people who we serve:

St. Irene’s Orphanage & Educational Center:

  • A new van was purchased and it will be used to transport children to and from school.

 

  • Sunday it was a true blessing to present Fr. Constantine with the precious relics of St. Catherine.  He said, “God is good all the time.  I read and talk about relics and specific saints, but now the reality is in my mission work. I feel more spiritual and energetic.”

 

  • Fr. Constantine took me to visit my Godson, Chrysostomos, who is ill.  It was good to visit and pray with him. Fr. Constantine anointed him with holy oil from St. Nectarios. Though we went to minister to Chrysostomos, it was I who was ministered to.

 

St. Barnabas Orphanage & Educational Center:

  • The fundraising program for the miraculous opportunity to purchase two acres of land for a permanent location was kicked off this week.
  • Vespers was served for the first time ever at St. Barnabas.  The boys were introduced to a monastic form of the Jesus Prayer and the Rite of Forgiveness was presented to them as their new evening prayer rule.

Orthodox Africa Nairobi Board of Directors:

  • We met and had a blessed and profitable time together as brothers in Christ. The priests of the Board are not solely interested in seeing individual missions developed but missions that can have a larger impact on the Diocese and country as adolescent Orthodox Christians are nurtured in their faith through secondary school.  Fr. Methodius, speaking for all, said, “There was a time we felt alone. Now we feel the Church cares.  We are not alone in the struggle.  The sense of unity in OA Nairobi is unprecedented.”  Fr. Constantine said, “A strong Orthodox secondary school is most appropriate.  We want the children to be well established and strong in their faith, to guard it and be self-reliant in the future.  They will then propagate the Faith.”

As you can see, there is much for which to be grateful.  Many blessings are found, even in brokenness and pain.  God is the Potter. We are the clay, often broken and chipped.  When we give ourselves to Him with a heart and soul asking to be used for the good of others, He heals the cracks and wounds.  The crack is still there. The wound is scarred over.  Rub your thumb over them.  You can still feel them.  But, we are healed by He Who made us.

And for that I am grateful.

~Fr. Silouan

South Kinangpop, Kenya’s Vulnerable Could Receive their Dream Home

Of the eleven recently baptized Christians in South Kinangpop, Kenya reported by Orthodox Africa and Pravoslavie.Ru, the author’s family is blessed to have sponsored twin boys; Moses and Maurice. Photographs of these young ones in their baptismal robes, standing with Fathers Methodius and Silouan, evoke conflicting emotions of sweet joy, and desperation. For their eyes speak of deep suffering, the kind that causes the soul to retreat; leaving behind a sad, vacant stare.

Moses and Maurice attend St. Barnabas’ Orphanage for day school, where they also receive meals. However, they return home to their mother afterward, who struggles with dependency; and subsequently, neglects her boys. Currently, the orphanage is operating at maximum capacity, and cannot receive new orphans into its home; so, its director has established a relocation fund to provide housing for more orphans, like Maurice and Moses.

St. Barnabas Orphanage and School were founded in 2007 by Father Methodius and his wife, Everlyn, when they were having lunch and noticed three boys watching them with hungry stares. They invited them to eat with them and soon it became a tradition. More orphans found them; and with community support, and the blessing of their ruling bishop, St. Barnabas now serves 175 children. The orphanage, however, is a small “shack” which houses only 12 children. Knowing this, someone has offered to sell them their home on two acres, for almost a quarter of the market price; $25,000. This property, if purchased, would instantly double the number of orphans that would be housed. With two acres of fertile land, they could expand the home, build a chapel, and still have room to grow food. This would strengthen the Orthodox community, and improve the orphans’ lives immensely; hopefully Maurice and Moses’ as well.

The need is tremendous, but as grandma would say: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” One contribution from multiple donors, can provide the necessary funds for St. Barnabas Orphanage and School to purchase their dream property; property that would afford them more self-sufficiency and housing ability.  More information on St. Barnabas can be found at Orthodox Africa here, and donations to this orphanage can be made here.

~Kent & Amber~

Saint Barnabas Orphanage & School: Campaign followup

Saint Barnabas Mission: Service to Man is Service to God

The Saint Barnabas Mission in South Kinangop, Kenya was started in 2007 by Father Methodius and his wife Everlyn. They were eating lunch one day, and noticed three young children picking through scraps. They invited them over then to eat with them, and soon, feeding these children became a regular event for them. From this beginning, they began sharing what they had with other people in the area. They started to provide food and shelter for those who needed it, helping with what they could. To this day, they have helped more than 400 children in all. Currently, they have about 175 children who they help as much as they are able, though constant droughts have brought the region’s prices up. In order to meet the needs of the children, Father Methodius and his wife need to expand the Mission.

They have been leasing a property where they are unable to improve the current structure, making it difficult to make more space for their activities. They wish to have a less restricted place to teach the children, a place to worship, and a place for homeless children to live. The land they wish to get is four times larger than the current property and outside of the slums, making it a more suitable place for them to construct a new school, orphanage, and a proper chapel for the mission. There is even a possibility for them to create a kitchen garden for them to defray costs, a place where they may grow what they need.

By expanding the facilities, they hope to become a self-sustainable mission. The goal of the school is not only to provide a good general education to the children, but also to provide them with trade skills that will be in demand in the region. In this way, the children will have a better chance at becoming employed when they reach school-leaving age. The school hopes to be able to place their older students in jobs, a great help in a region where unemployment is high. The knowledge that they are learning not just academic facts, but facts that will ensure they have the skills to earn money and support themselves makes the Mission seem a haven to the children. The stability and comfort it provides make a great contrast to homes that are poor and have the added instability of addictions resulting from hopelessness.

The Saint Barnabas Mission gives comfort to those in need today as it has for others in the past: it will instill in the students a sense of hope for the future, beginning today. These goals can be accomplished with your help, and you can bring them to that brighter future. Service to man is service to God, and what we do for the least of these, we do for Christ Himself. Please be as generous as you can, for His Sake.  Donate here and select St. Barnabas Orphanage.