Tag Archives: Hope

Poem of Hope ~ 4/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

 

I’ve had a bit of writing anxiety lately which has caused me to literally avoid looking at my lap top. (Out of sight. Out of mind. Or so I thought.)  I’ve found though, that writing is a part of who I am and I really miss it, so…. I have decided to join in on the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes at http://www.fiveminutefriday.com

Each day in October I’ll write for five minutes on a given prompt.  This is mostly an unedited style of writing  that I’m sure will challenge this “recovering perfectionist”; but hopefully in a good way! Please pray that I won’t quit, I’ll have fun, and that I’ll learn more about myself, writing, and my relationship with God. I’d love for you to follow along with me on this journey! Better yet, join in!

Time starts now!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV) / Pixabay

 

The world it seems

Is going wrong.

The weak are bullied

By the strong.

 

It makes us weary

It’s hard to cope

But through it all

We must have hope.

 

Do we sit

And wonder why?

Wring our hands,

Let out a sigh?

 

It’s way too easy

To whine and mope

But through it all

We must have hope.

Time! (Sorry, this rule follower is going to break the five-minute rule and finish)

Pointing fingers

Yelling loud,

Only serves

To anger the crowd.

 

It may feel impossible,

The end of our rope

But never forget

Jesus Christ is our Hope!

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Ezekiel’s Journey

“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” Psalm 25:4-5 (NLT) Pixabay

Miracles of Living Hope

Marilyn Uhl will be the first to tell you that establishing and running Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya couldn’t happen without God.  She will also tell you that the longer she’s in Africa, the stronger her faith grows.  Marilyn has seen God work things out in strange and powerful ways when even she didn’t believe He would.  “I don’t know why we don’t have total faith because He never lets us down.” she reminds us.  “He might not answer us the way we want or when we want, but He always has our good in mind.”  The Living Hope journey continues with true stories of the miraculous ways God is working in the lives of Marilyn and her students.

Eziekiel’s Journey

Most of us cannot imagine living in the world that Ezekiel was living in during the post-election violence of 2007.  His whole country had erupted into tribal warfare, corruption was rampant, and no one could be trusted. At the time, Ezekiel’s parents were teaching their children the family business of preparing alcohol to sell to customers. It was a dangerous business, not one suited for children; but was the means of survival for them all.  Thankfully, Ezekiel’s parents also believed in the importance of school, so he had attended elementary classes and was excited to enter 7th grade with his friends, but… a brutal attack changed everything.

Ezekiel’s family lived in a mud and grass hut on land bordering another tribe.  It would be that tribe who would take everything from Ezekiel.  The tribal leaders decided they wanted the land the family owned and so in the dark of night, they surrounded the small home and set the roof on fire.  Ezekiel’s father was the first to confront the trespassers.  He was killed immediately.  His mother then ran from the home and Ezekiel watched in horror as she was dragged, screaming into the bush never to be seen again.  As the roof of the hut began to collapse, the children had no choice but to leave the “safety” of the hut, too.  Miraculously, the attacking tribesmen weren’t interested in the kids. With fear propelling them, they scattered into the pitch-black night.

Separated from what was left of his family and with no way to communicate with his brothers and sisters, Ezekiel decided to try and make it to his Uncle who lived on the family home place. It would be a long, hard journey.  Ezekiel was thirteen and his life had been violently ripped from him.  Getting to his Uncle was the only way he could see to start a new life and so he began to walk. He walked all day and hid himself along the road to sleep at night.  He walked and walked and walked some more all the while trying not to think about how hungry he was. Terrorized by the memories of what had happened to his family, exhausted, with no food, no money, he continued to put one foot in front of the other.  Ezekiel will tell you that he didn’t know Jesus at this time so he wasn’t praying, but hope still arrived in the form of a rumbling sound behind him.  He knew the approaching truck would take him into town.  In a split second, just as the truck passed by, Ezekiel leapt onto the back of the semi and held on for his very life!  Once on, he knew he couldn’t safely get off until the truck came to a stop; so there he was, a young boy, weak from hunger, clinging with all his might as the truck made its way over bumps and around curves in the small hope that he was on the final leg of his journey to a new life.When the truck finally arrived at its destination, Ezekiel literally fell off the back. He’d held on to the truck for so long he could hardly stand.  It had taken him two weeks to get to this point and he was exhausted, but from deep within, Ezekiel found his strength and finally made it to his Uncle’s home.

Ezekiel settled in and returned to school.  He was informed that he would have to repeat Grade 6 but he never gave up because he knew that education was important. Ezekiel moved on to High School.  He hadn’t been able to pay the fees but the teachers let him attend until he could get the money.  At the end of the second term Ezekiel still was unable to pay and so the school sent him home.

In the time Ezekiel had spent with his Uncle, he’d come to know and accept Jesus as his Savior.  As time passed and it looked like school wouldn’t be possible, Ezekiel’s Uncle reminded him not to worry, but rather to pray. And pray he did.  One evening Ezekiel’s Uncle went with friends to a wedding.  While traveling back and forth his Uncle learned of Living Hope High School and the help they provide for students who can’t afford an education.  Hearing this, Ezekiel’s prayers increased.  Waiting was hard but he knew his journey wasn’t over.  January turned into April and finally Ezekiel was asked to go to Living Hope for an interview. He soon received his admission letter and found himself a student at Living Hope High School. Ezekiel was dedicated to learning as much as he could both in his subjects and about the Bible, all the while thanking God for the miracle of continuing his education.

Ezekiel’s journey was difficult.  It was long.  It wasn’t the one he’d ever planned to take, and yet, he is right where he’s meant to be! He graduated from Living Hope High School and now is studying Dentistry at the University.  Ezekiel says he was lost, but God found him and step by step led him to his future. He now plans to use his skills as a dentist to give back to his community. More than that though, it is Ezekiel’s greatest hope to tell everyone he meets his story about God and all that He has done; inviting them (and now you) to join him on the miraculous journey that leads to everlasting life!

“So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do?  Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.  When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’” Luke 15:3-6 (NLT)

copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya

For more information on Living Hope High School, go to www.livinghopehighschool.org

Miracles of Living Hope: The Drug Deal

Marilyn Uhl will be the first to tell you that establishing and running Living Hope High School in Bungoma Kenya could not happen without God.  She will also tell you that the longer she’s in Africa, the stronger her faith grows.  Marilyn has seen God work things out in strange and powerful ways, even when she didn’t believe he would.  “I don’t know why we don’t have total faith because He never lets us down.” she reminds us. “He might not answer us the way we want or when we want, but He always has our good in mind.”  The Living Hope journey continues with these true stories of the miraculous ways God is working in the lives of Marilyn and her students.

photo credit elab.emerson.edu

photo credit elab.emerson.edu

Murunga’s Story: The Drug Deal

Murunga had one dream: to go to High School.  He’d worked hard every year in primary school and graduated from 8th Grade with top honors.  Despite all he had accomplished; his family was not able to meet the costs for him to attend 9th grade.  His mother had passed away and his father had sold all their property to support his drinking habit.  Having families and problems of their own, his brothers were also unable to furnish the money he needed.

The yearning Murunga had to go to high school did not diminish.  He not only longed to attend; he knew he needed to attend to live the successful life he dreamed of. If money was what was standing between Murunga and school, then he would find a way to get the money.

With 8th grade graduation behind him and the goal of attending high school in front of him, Murunga became a “Boda Boda” ….a motorcycle taxi driver. Because he kept his bike clean and in good shape and he never ran out of gas, Murunga built a regular customer base.  He worked long hours for little pay.  On the rare occasion that he was given a little extra money for the ride, he bought one thing he knew he’d need for school:  a pencil, a notebook, a small can of shoe polish. Each precious item was put in his “faith box” hidden beneath his bed.

Despite Murunga’s hard work and belief that he would one day be a high school student, two years passed. Discouragement began to set in and waiting became almost more than he could bear. One day, a man from the village approached Murunga and offered him the job of being the transporter in a drug deal.  It sounded easy.  All he had to do was carry a box of drugs, worth more money than Murunga could imagine, from point A to point B. He knew it was wrong, but it was the only way he could see to get the money he needed for school.  He decided to take the risk and do it.

In preparation for the transport, he drove his motorcycle down to the filling station.  As he gassed up, Pastor Martin, a teacher at Living Hope High School, pulled in to the pump right next to Murunga.  Both were from the same area so Pastor Martin was well aware of Murunga’s family situation.  He struck up a conversation with him and as they talked, Pastor Martin told Murunga about Living Hope and that there was one spot left open in the Freshman class. The words rang in Murunga’s ears and his chest felt tight.  After what seemed like an eternity to Murunga, Pastor Martin said the words he longed to hear. He asked him if he’d be interested in filling that spot and become a Freshman at Living Hope High School. Without realizing it, Murunga had been holding his breath.  As air escaped between his lips, he remembered that the drug deal was to take place in less than two hours.  Once the delivery was completed, he’d be paid a large sum of money: more than he could have ever hoped for!

The promise of money did not compare with the desire Murunga had to attend high school.  He’d waited so long for this moment to come and so, without hesitation, he accepted.  Before they headed off to Living Hope, Murunga had one stop to make.  Pastor Martin followed him home.

Yes, God works in strange ways.  Murunga would have risked everything, even his life, had he completed the drug deal. He hadn’t seen any other way until in the eleventh hour God stepped in and saved him. The waiting was over. With hands shaking in excitement, he pulled the cardboard box from under his bed. For two years he’d faithfully collected supplies he knew he’d someday use at school. Once the cargo was loaded on the back of Murunga’s motorcycle, the two, teacher and student, began the journey down the road to a brighter future.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya

For more information on Living Hope High School, go to www.livinghopehighschool.org or call Marilyn’s sister, Helen Markwell at 304-567-2254

God Will Provide

 

Agape Science Lab nearing completion.

Agape Science Lab nearing completion.

This is the fifth in a series of miraculous true stories about Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya.  Stories that share the divine inspiration and dedication to helping students of poverty, who once had no hope, reach their full potential.

“And God will generously provide all you need.  Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT)

Marilyn and her students settled into a daily routine at the “cave school”. A breakfast of milk tea and a boiled egg or porridge began their morning.  Classes were held throughout the day with a short break for lunch. In the evening traditional meals of thick grits and greens cooked in a spicy sauce, beans and rice, or corn and beans were prepared for dinner. Each meal was cooked outside as there was no room for an inside kitchen.  Outside, there was no space for the children to safely play a game of soccer or even run off some extra teenage energy. It was obvious they already needed more space. Marilyn had also recently discovered that for a school to be recognized by the Kenyan government it had to have grades 9-12 with at least twenty students per grade. She knew without a doubt that this was her calling and so the prayers to find a larger, permanent place for her school began.

God answered Marilyn’s prayers in 2013 when she chose an eight acre property that included a long hut similar to their “mud cave” and a small mud house.  Neither were much to look at but that didn’t stop Marilyn from seeing the beauty and potential there. It would take a huge amount of work and they would need vision and help…..lots of help, and constant prayer!

It took time to jump through the governmental hoops AND most of the money Marilyn had left in her savings to purchase the land; but it now belonged to them! Reaching out to the surrounding villages, Marilyn was able to find the twenty freshman she also needed.  What started as a seed of an idea, had been planted and nurtured,  and now Living Hope had become an official Kenyan High School. In the years leading up to this moment God had provided everything she’d needed just as He’d told her that fateful day back in her kitchen and she was already seeing His continued provision as she took this next step in her journey.

It was a challenge in the beginning. There wasn’t enough building space in either place so the 45 students traveled between their rented mud classroom and the dormitories on the new property.  The journey was a precarious one as they hiked the mile and a half each way and like tightrope walkers, had to balance on a single log that lay across the rushing river that separated the two locations. That wasn’t all.  Acutely aware of her dwindling funds and determined her kids would not “go to bed hungry”, Marilyn decided  she needed to reach out to her sisters for help. Through their commitment and dedicated work God began providing sponsors for the students, salaries for staff, and donations for needed furniture and supplies. Hope was alive and well!

Living Hope High School has thrived since the days of the first rudimentary buildings.  The school still receives no funding except through the generosity of sponsorships and donations  The property today is close to ten acres, has five classroom buildings, an assembly hall, a computer lab, kitchen, eight dormitory cottages, and a science lab is under construction. Each building is constructed of bricks, hand- made by the students.  A deep well was dug to provide running water and electricity has been connected to the computer lab, kitchen, and office.  The students tend a 2 acre garden, take care of milk cows and chickens, and play on their own soccer field.  This past year the students at Living Hope High School earned the highest test scores out of the 291 schools in their district! The 13 teachers and all the students work very hard and take nothing for granted. It isn’t always easy; the budget, sharing textbooks, the ongoing battle against Malaria and Typhoid,  the unpredictable weather, and  the political climate all pose challenges for Marilyn and the school;  but without hesitation, she will tell you of the miraculous God who through the generosity of others, provides just what is needed to help one teacher, who answered His call,  share an abundance of “Living Hope” with others.

copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya

 

As we continue Marilyn’s story you’ll hear more God designed, miraculous events that have happened to her, the students,  and the school since its beginning. For more information on Living Hope High School go to www.livinghopehighschool.org or call Marilyn’s sister, Helen Markwell at 304-567-2254.

Seeds of Living Hope

This post is a little different from what I normally do but I’m excited to share it with you.  Recently I was asked to consider writing a series of  true, short stories about God’s miracles which have occurred over the past few years in the starting and growing of Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya. I prayed, got advice, and yes, worried even though I know I’m not supposed to. It’s an important project and I wanted to be sure I was the one for the challenge.  Now, I was praying for a “neon sign” that would flash a message that it was God’s plan for me to write these stories,  instead I received a soft whisper that said; “Just write and I’ll take care of the rest.” This “want to get it right all the time girl” has a hard time stepping into the unknown but “just write” is what I did.  I hope you enjoy this and the stories to come.  I pray they bless you as they have me.

Alan / Pixabay

Seeds of Living Hope

This is the first in a series of miraculous true stories about Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya. Stories that share the divine inspiration and dedication to helping students of poverty, who once had no hope, reach their full potential. 

“Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” 

Matthew 13:8 NLT

What happens when, called by God, one teacher sells everything she can and begins on a journey that takes her to the other side of the world to plant seeds of hope? I invite you to join her in this adventure and witness the miracles of God, the obedience of a woman, and the lives that are changed along the way.  Maybe just maybe…. one of those lives will be yours!

Marilyn Uhl had been a teacher for several years in the small rural towns of Seneca Rocks and Circleville, West Virginia.  From there she became a Masseuse for the many workers in the poultry industry of Virginia. But it was in 2006 Marilyn found herself in Tennessee as the teacher/principal of a high school for the behaviorally disabled. Unable to function in the public school system her students had drug addictions, mental health issues, and criminal records. It was a bleak, stressful, and challenging job.

Being an avid gardener, Marilyn could often be found working the problems of the day away in the soil of her flower beds. Helping something grow and bloom was just what she needed.  As she worked in the dirt she also worked on an idea.  What if she could pass on her love for gardening to others? She turned to Rotary International, a service organization, known for their dedication to mission trips. She joined the club and drafted her plan for a gardening mission trip, her mission.  Rotary International provided half the funding she needed and Marilyn worked tirelessly to raise the other half.  When she was done she had the money she needed, 15,000 packs of donated seeds, gardening tools, and was awarded the “Outstanding Project Award”.   What started as the seed of a dream had been planted, grew, and bloomed!

In 2007 Marilyn and all of her seeds arrived in Uganda at a Pentecostal orphanage.  The orphanage was made up of several small cottages where children and their guardian lived.  For two months Marilyn worked side by side with those children and adults until they’d planted a garden at each cottage.  She then reached out into the community to help them plant gardens, too.  Before saying goodbye to her budding gardeners and always the teacher, Marilyn also taught them how to collect and save seeds for the next year’s crops.

Summer had come to an end and school began as it always had before but this year something had changed in Marilyn.  Time passed and early one winter morning Marilyn sat at her kitchen table with a cup of coffee working on her lesson plans. Her old dog Jesse slept beside her in his basket.  Suddenly, without warning the quiet of the room was engulfed by what seemed to be a voice…. God’s voice!  In that miraculous moment He revealed three things to Marilyn: “They went to bed hungry.”, “Go.”, and “I will provide.”  Stunned, she sat frozen, straining to hear more, but silence had once again settled on the kitchen. Dazed and shaking, Marilyn called her school and told them that she wouldn’t be in.  Hanging up, she sat staring not sure what to think or do next. She was not idle for long as a prompting had her opening her closet doors. At once she began sorting and organizing, all the while trying to make sense of what had just occurred. By the end of the day two loads, the first of many to come, were packed and ready to take to the thrift store. She returned to school, life moved on, but Marilyn knew God had planted another seed. She never stopped thinking about the words she’d heard, especially “They went to bed hungry.” Something told her “they” were the children in Africa and her desire to go to them intensified.  God’s seed had “fallen on fertile soil” and in “thirty, sixty, and even a hundred” ways life as Marilyn had known it was about to change dramatically!

Copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya

I’m Wrecked

image

 

I’m wrecked! Derailed! A goner! Why? Because of a little “bump” in the road that changed everything….my first grandchild! Life has been forever transformed.  My priorities are altered. And my heart?  My heart literally overflows with a love like I’ve never known.  I ache when I’m away from him and joy fills every part of my being when I hold him close in my arms.  My thoughts and dreams have shifted and oh, when I look in those precious little eyes I see hope for the future. Yes, this MiMi is a wreck! And it’s a great wrecked!

You know?  It occurs to me that God knew that I’d be wrecked by this new little miracle, but even more importantly He knew that you and I would be wrecked when he sent the miracle of His son…a little “bump” that changed EVERYTHING!  The birth and death of Jesus forever transforms lives.  His sacrifice shows us  love greater than we’ve ever known and priorities are changed when we accept His gift of that overflowing love.  Thoughts and dreams shift from being ours to becoming more like Him.  We ache for Him when we drift away and the joy we experience when we’re held in the arms of Jesus defies understanding.  Yes, Jesus came to make our lives a wreck.  To stop us in our tracks, spin us around, and put us on a new course. a course that leads us to Him.  And when we look into the eyes of Jesus we too see hope.  But not just hope for the future.  We see precious hope for eternity.  Yes, I’ve been wrecked by Jesus and that’s the most wonderful wrecked of all!

~I have written today’s post as part of Live Free Thursday hosted by Suzanne Eller. Her subject today was “Wrecked”.  Check out other writers entries at www.tsuzanneeller.com