Every winter for the past three years, Lighthouse Trails has held a special Winter Offering for the Christian families in Kenya who are part of the Bryce Homes for Widows and Children Program. This winter marks the end of the third year of this missions program in western Kenya that was launched by Roger Oakland of Understand the Times. Lighthouse Trails has partnered with UTT since the beginning of the program, and UTT and LT readers have supported the program faithfully. What started out as a fledgling mission effort with a few Christian families in Kenya and two overseeing pastors has developed into 24 families, with over 120 children.
In 2011, Roger Oakland, founder and director of Understand the Times (UTT), traveled to the region to meet with Pastor Achilla and Pastor Nelson, who were to become the Kenya directors for the project. Several Bryce Homes were started right away as Roger witnessed the extreme impoverished conditions under which these Christian families were living as victims to national poverty, AIDS, disease, and sickness.
The response from UTT and Lighthouse Trails readers has been remarkable. The donations coming from LT readers have helped provide the needed funds for Understand the Times to build over 12 new homes replacing very dilapidated ones, feed, on a month-to-month basis, all of the families of the Kenya Bryce homes, purchase school uniforms (something required in Kenya for children going to school), install new cook stoves and chimney pipes into the new homes (replacing open fire pits on the floor), paint the new houses inside and out, buy new clothing and bedding and some furniture for the homes, and pay for emergency medical needs.
Looking Back – 2014 Progress
2014 was a very busy and productive time for the Bryce Homes in Kenya. At the beginning of 2014, we launched the latrine project, and in just one year, latrines were built for all the widows’ homes. This has provided a major improvement for the lives of the widows and children who had no facilities at all prior to the latrines. There was a lot of work involved in building each latrine. First, a very deep hole had to be dug in the ground near each home and often in very rocky conditions. Then came a two-stall brick latrine, which was later covered with plaster and painted. One stall holds a toilet, while the other side is for washing and bathing. Most of the widows had never used a latrine before, and this seemingly small thing has really changed their lives (click here for article and photos on the latrines).
Water Filtration and Collection: In 2014, we also began the water collecting and water filtration systems and are in the process of providing these systems for every Bryce Home. With the tanks UTT purchased, rain water is collected, and with the filtration system, both rain water and community water-hole water are filtered providing clean water and reducing sickness and disease substantially.
Small Home Business Project: Perhaps the most exciting project that was started in 2014 by UTT with the Bryce families is the SBO program—that’s the Small Business Opportunity program. Each widow is given a small amount of “seed” money ($75), who in turn, uses the money to purchase goods and materials to start a small home business. To date, the SBO program is going very well, and the widows are loving the fact that they can help support themselves. It is giving them some hope for their futures. As we have reported in the past, the home businesses are anything from selling fish, baked pastries, hand-made candles, sewn items, home-grown vegetables, and so forth.
As you can see, 2014, was a highly productive year. All of the Bryce Home widows and children, and all of us here at UTT and, are praising the Lord for His provision and His mercy to these dear Christian families. (see slideshow below)
In 2015, we will continue with the SBO program, hoping to see it expand and become even more productive in the Bryce families’ lives. We will also make sure that the water filtration and water collecting systems are working well. This alone has a big impact on the health of the families, some of whom have AIDS and struggle as it is. Below are some plans for 2015:
We asked Pastor Achilla to make a list of specific needs that the families have currently. Here is the list he gave us. We will use the Winter Offering for these and other needs mentioned below this list.
1. Clothes for both widows and their children.
3. Plastering the new widow Vivian’s house.
4. Books for the children in the next year.
6. Painting Susan’s house.
7. Sanitary towels for the girls.
8. Vitamin C for Ebola and other viruses.
9. A new house for the new Bryce widow, Fransisca (see her present house below)
10. New mattresses for some of the children.
One of the things we began doing in January 2015 is buying solar lights for each of the families. There is no electricity in most of these homes, and once the sun goes down and it gets dark, indoor activities at home are extremely limited. The cost for each solar light is $75, and the plan is that each family will have one solar light.
A New Church Building:
As we shared with you on January 1, 2015 in our article “A Church and Community Center for a Kenyan Village,” there is a need to build a church building in one of the regions where we have a number of Bryce Homes. There is a pastor in place already serving the outdoor congregation, and many people from the community have shown an interest in attending this church. We estimate that around 200 people will come each week. During the middle of the week, the building can be used for a Bible school as well as a trade training center. The finished building will look similar to this photo on the left and will also have a three-stall latrine. The cost of this building and the latrine is about $3700. This will include a metal roof with wood rafters and a plastered floor. We would like to install a cookstove for meals and tea and also buy plastic chairs. This would of course be additional costs.
As you can see, wonderful progress is happening in Kenya with the Bryce Homes. And these are just all the practical, physical accomplishments. The greatest joy is to see how the families are growing spiritually in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. And they give Him all the glory for all that has taken place. This spring, Roger Oakland and a fellow brother will be traveling to Kenya to visit each Bryce Home, take updated pictures of each family, and spend some time in lectures with area pastors. It also provides Roger the opportunity to see how the program is running and to help find solutions for problems that have arisen.
We pray you will consider being a part of this missions program through praying and giving as you are led by the Lord. To all of the Lighthouse Trails and Understand the Times readers who have donated to the Bryce Homes in Kenya, the Bryce families and the LT and UTT staff say thank you. And please know, this is not just a mission project for the physical needs of these brothers and sisters – it is an effort in helping to raise up children who will love the Lord, understand the times in which we live, and serve Him wholeheartedly when they become adults. The pastors and the widows are learning about the Word of God and about spiritual deception and how to avoid it. They in turn are teaching the children the ways of God through His Word by the Holy Spirit.
If you would like to donate to our Winter Offering, there are three ways you can do that. Please designate that the donation is for the “Winter Offering in Kenya,” which will guarantee it is used for the needs we have discussed above. If donations happen to exceed those needs, every penny of all donations go directly to the work in Kenya. The donations are tax deductible through UTT. Thank you from all of us at Lighthouse Trails and Understand the Times. Be sure and watch the slideshow below.
THREE WAYS TO DONATE (choose one):
1. Through the Understand the Times website (you can use Paypal or your credit card – choose from one of the donate buttons). You can designate the donation on the paypal website. (Note: when using Paypal, remember to designate the donation for “Winter Offering” where it asks for “Special Instructions.”
2. Mail donation checks or money orders to either location below.
P.O. Box 27239
Santa Ana, CA 92799 USA
P.O. Box 1160
Canada S0L 1A0
3. For your convenience, donations can be called in to the Lighthouse Trails office. We will take your credit card information and process the donation through UTT. You can call our toll free number at 866-876-3910.
The music in this slideshow is from Trevor Baker’s CD, The Road Less Traveled, from the song, “I Wish I Had Your Life.”