they continue to go that way, too. yet, in the midst of greatness, there will be attack. whether its the display of human depravity or the schemes of the devil or perhaps both, we were hit hard recently.
i went to the bank to withdraw money for the day then walked to another bank to pay a bill and then hopped in a tuk tuk with some of our team members to head off to Obunga. Dr. Sloan was doing a medical camp that day with the help of some of the students that are interested in pursuing careers in the medical profession. when we arrived, everything seemed to be going well. every was doing their job and manning their post. the waiting room was filling up. Dr. Emily and translator/assistant Lillian, were seeing dozens of patients. Mathews (Ndoto student studying to be a pharmacist) and Jane (local community health worker) were running the pharmacy and doing a mighty fine job. there were a few sick Ndoto students, and because there was a charge for the clinic, i reached for my wallet to pay the fee for them.
i put my hand in my purse and couldn't find it anywhere. like at home, i carry around a behemoth of a purse, full of stuff, so it didn't initially shock me. however, as i started to empty my purse, i realized it was gone. that was when PANIC swept over me. i called christi over to help me. we dumped out the contents of my purse on the floor and spread the news to the students to scour every corner of the church looking for the lost wallet. when it seemed that it was more than lost, christi and i jumped in a tuk tuk with Joshua (the driver) and one of our older students, Dennis. we backtracked and went to all the places we had stopped on our way to Obunga. at each stop, i began to freak out a little more. it can't be gone. it just can't be. it has bank cards, receipts, important papers, and most of all A LOT OF CASH in it. after we had stopped at every place i had been that morning, it became clear that is was gone and that it had been stolen.
i was crushed. how could this have happened? i have walked these streets by myself for years without any trouble. i'm careful. i'm aware. i am busy, and particularly so when the team is here, but could i really have been so preoccupied that i wouldn't have felt someone taking something out of my bag. at moments like this, a wave of helplessness, anger and frustration crashes over me. there was nothing any of us could do. it was gone.
what happened next stunned me. the reaction of our driver and the ndoto students was one of deep sorrow. they were distraught. they kept asking questions like, "how could someone have stolen money that helps poor students go to school?" "why would someone do that even before Ndoto has reached its full potential? we haven't even finished our strategic plan yet" "what is wrong with us Kenyans?" i quickly found that my role was shifting...instead of being the angry, inconsolable victim, i was called upon to be the comforter. the realization that this shift was going on spurred something in me to call upon the name of the Lord (we had been praying and praying at each step along the way) and speak truth to these young people, so that at the end the name of the Lord will be praised.
Christi and i shared with them that God is at work and things are going well, that we should expect attacks from Satan, who is always looking to thwart the plan of God and His children. we also reminded them (and ourselves) that all money, resource, time, and gifts belong to the Lord, and so if someone wants to steal from God then let them do that at their own peril. we also shared with them as they were in tears that "If God is for us, who can be against us?" we also encouraged them to struggle with this situation, but in the end to hand it over and let the King deal with it. i shared with them that God has given them power. power to change their individual lives. power to change the face and the soul of their community. power to help people. power to use what they've been given for good. yet, if they are so discouraged that they give up (a couple of university students had big final exams to take that day), then they are relinquishing that power, which is exactly what the devil would want them to do.
their responses have been inspiring. the students have decided that we need to pray more. the students have also decided that they are going to pray more for me, so that despite the attacks i don't give up. (tears!) they have also decided to continue their efforts with more fervor and commitment than before. they keep coming up with new ideas for how to help each other and help me in order to make sure things like this don't happen anymore. we got to address the issue of fear as well. we got to remind them that we will not walk in fear, and we will not buckle under the pressure of the enemy. whew! it was such a powerful teaching time.
here are a couple of the most important takeaways from this experience for me:
1. they were upset b/c Ndoto money was stolen. this means their money was stolen. this isn't allison's money or allison's problem. this was OUR money and OUR problem. that kind of response is a clear sign that we are moving in the right direction. they are owning the project and its success. anything that is an affront to what God is calling them to do offends them. this is how it should be.
2. God, in His mercy, used this experience as a profound teaching time for us all. we all learned (or were reminded) of the truth that He is God, He is Sovereign, and He is in Control. He gives and He takes away. Our hope and faith are in Him!
3. The unity that comes when a group unites after hardship can strengthen their bonds and their resolve making them unstoppable. I believe with all my heart that is what is happening here.
The reality is that we were hit hard when this happened. I lost about $100 of my personal money, but the bigger concern is that Ndoto lost about $700. For those who question why I would walk around with that much cash, let me reassure you that it is the way that things are done here, and I have been doing it for years without a problem. We deal in a 100% cash system, which means no credit cards and no debit cards. When you have a team doing as much as we do with as many people as we have, we can spend that amount of money in a day or two. In fact, I had already given out about $700 that day to other team members to carry in order to lighten my load. Now, we are putting the pieces back together. I called and canceled both debit cards (mine and Ndotos) and they are sending new ones ASAP (within the next 3-5 days). I'm glad that the team is here, because one team member has an Ndoto debit card. Otherwise, we would be without access to money.
we ask first and foremost that you join us in praying for God's provision, both immediately as we try to recover and in the long term as we ask the Lord to provide that which was stolen. He knows what we need, and this is an incredible opportunity for us to trust Him as He increases our faith. this is also a stretching experience but a crucial one in terms of learning and growing for our students. please pray that the Lord uses this to draw the students closer to Him.
second, we ask you to prayerfully consider helping to replenish that which was lost. you can mail a check to: 2526 Rosebud Court, Carrollton, TX 75006 or you can donate online at our website: www.ndoto.org
third, we ask that you share Ndoto's story with your friends and family that they, too, can be involved in what God is doing in Obunga, Kisumu, Kenya!
thank you, dear friends, for praying for us, partnering with us, and standing with us during this time!