Christmas Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
We wish you a Blessed and Merry Christmas from all of us at Jacob’s Gift. This time of year has me reflecting about all that has happened this year.
Richard and I started the year off with prayer seeking answers if we should go on a mission’s trip to Kenya, Africa. We had received an email from Krista Darcus at Advancing Native Missions asking us if we would be willing to be a part of the dedication of the Jacob’s Gift Library. At the same time, we received an email from Paul Robbins asking Richard if he would be available to go and put a roof on the birthing center in the same compound as the Jacob’s Gift Library. Again, we struggled thinking we are willing but should we spend
money we do not have. At first, we decided if extra money comes in, then yes we will go. It didn’t take us long to decide that wasn’t the answer. We needed to say YES in faith and then the money would come in. We were able to fundraise at our local Pizza Ranch with the help of family and friends. We were able to raise over $1,100. Thank you to all of those that helped and donated. We were humbled that individuals gave to our trip.
So off we went again, and this time by ourselves, meeting Paul and two other men at Tom and Hellen Malande’s. We were welcomed with open arms and again treated like royalty. After Paul Robbins and Sam met up with Mike and us we were able to head to the remote village of Ileho, bordering the Kakameiga Rain Forest. This is where Jacob’s Gift Library, birthing center and midwives cottage is for Family Impact Center. We were not sure what we would have for sleeping arrangements. We figured would be like our primitive tent camping with no comforts. Wow! We were shocked to find Hellen had been dedicating her time to get Huston’s, their first-born son, house done for us to stay on the property. Richard and I had our own bedroom with a private bathroom and shower. We had running water and electricity when the generator was running. We felt so humbled that they would do this for us. Now this is where the work began. When we pulled into the compound Paul’s eyes got big, seeing that there were two buildings up ready to have roofs built, both the birthing center and the midwives cottage. It was one building more than what we thought and one day short because of a missed flight at Doha Airport. However, we have a Big God and by the time we were leaving, both had roofs along with the door and window frames installed in the Birthing Center.
We also were able to have the dedication for the Jacob’s Gift Library and tree planting with several students and teachers from area schools and local dignitaries totaling over 500 in attendance. All of these, but a few, walked to be a part of this big event. Tom told us that the Library is the only privately owned public library in all of Eastern and Central Africa and then said that the Birth Center will be the only Birth Center in all of Eastern and Central Africa. Paul then shared how Advancing Native Missions works with the missionaries and introduced us to share our hearts. For us it was a beautiful day seeing God’s hand at work in this remote village. Our hearts were full and overflowing. Richard and I had the privilege of giving tours of the library to the children, teachers and guests. It is hard to put into words what this mission trip meant to us. We heard many stories of hardships and witnessed those with physical and spiritual needs come to the compound and seek help from Tom and Hellen. To see the compassion they have for the people brings tears to your eyes. After the dedication, word traveled that there were medical people there helping (Hellen was the only trained medical person the rest were there for construction), so people started walking in from afar. I witnessed two of these heart-breaking stories. Hellen gave what medical help she could with what was available even sending someone on foot with money to get medicines and even arranging for medical help in the city later. It would take a book to share all the stories from this trip. Tom and Hellen give so much of themselves showing the people Christ’s love in return. They need our prayers, especially health issues for Hellen and healing, so I ask you to remember Tom and Hellen and the people of Ileho Kenya, Africa.
While still at Tom and Hellen’s we discussed that our next project would be getting the electricity to the Jacob’s Gift Library and Birthing Center, plus other buildings in the compound. We decided to fundraise at RAGBRAI, which is a bike ride across Iowa. We set up a booth in our home town of Blakesburg selling bottle water donated from Hy-Vee Drugstore and Elliot Oil. We want to thank Joe and Kylie Claybrook for letting us set up in their yard and then later moved up town to the park. We had several volunteers help us: Josh and Kimberlie Hall, Katlynn and Konrad Sammons, Ron and Carla Thompson, Vicki Smith, Kim Stevens, Molly, Kara, Kallie and Cole Greiner, and Marlene and Brittany Greiner. They all worked very hard and shared their hearts with the riders, sharing so many stories and Christ’s love. I asked the DJ on the square to share about our fundraising efforts for Kenya, but he asked me to share instead. From that point on, he shared about Jacob’s Gift throughout the day. It was a long day but worth it all in the end. We were able to raise enough for the electricity totaling $6,600. Hellen has been working with the power and lighting offices to get it installed. She’s had to challenge the top leadership on the issue. They sent a scout to survey the area. When his report is assessed, they will write an updated letter and then Tom will pay and become connected.
In the spring, we were asked to speak at Kings Kid’s at Calvary Baptist Church in Ottumwa. Our niece, McKenna, attends and had been telling her leaders about our Kenya trip and about Jacob’s Gift. We shared about what kind of projects we help missionaries with and that we were still at that time raising money for the electricity for the library and birthing center. Because of our sharing, Kings Kid’s started taking offerings for Jacob’s Gift and plan on presenting it to Jacob’s Gift this spring when they are done for the year. We are excited to report to them what has been happening since we last talked to them.
In August, Richard and I took a trailer load of hospital beds and miscellaneous medical items to Advancing Native Missions (ANM). This is the first time we went alone and took off a week. We were able to throw on our canoes and have some peaceful and relaxing time with friends John and Lynn Parker. We arrived at ANM and found some helpful young men to help us unload the beds into the Warehouse for the Nations. Thanks to those that helped us! We had the opportunity to share mealtime with the Ashers, Temples, John, Lynn and Amber Parker, Karim and Elham, Jonathan, Mike and Sam Sharp (went to Kenya) and his son and family. Each time was such a blessing and great fellowship. We were able to go to ANM to just hang out and visit several days. It was a fabulous trip for us. Hopefully, we didn’t bug anyone too much. On our down time, we went canoeing with the Parkers in a couple of beautiful spots. It was so relaxing and peaceful. A big thank you to John and Lynn Parker for hosting and taking time out of their busy schedules to have fun with us!
October brought beautiful weather for us to haul another trailer load of hospital beds to ANM. This trip was typical because Ron and Carla Thompson joined with Ron sharing the driving with Richard. We are so thankful for their companionship and fun we have, who wouldn’t with Carla As we were driving, we figured up that we have hauled over 11 loads, 9 of them hauling a trailer, totaling of 22,000 miles to ANM in Virginia. On this trip, we also played host at a home for the annual Advancing Native Missions retreat. Thompson’s were able to host a home also. This year’s focus was on Luke 24:32 “Didn’t our hearts burn within us?” We heard many missionaries share their stories with many tugging deep within our hearts. It is amazing to see what our Lord is doing around the world. There were 11 countries represented.
We are very thankful for our families and friends at this time of year especially. 2016 has brought some changes with our family: Our daughter Katlynn was hired as a high school art teacher. This allows me to be a stay at home Grandma to Konrad, our 2 year old grandson and soon to be granddaughter, to be born any day now. Katlynn’s husband, Kody, is still working as a programmer. Our son, Josh, gave us a scare right before Thanksgiving; he has not felt good for several years now and couldn’t find any answers. He ended up having his first helicopter ride on November 15th, taking him to Iowa Methodist’s ICU. After a rough day and night of all kinds of tests, they found answers and started treating him. He has Addison’s Disease, which is rare and not a curable disease, but treatable with medicine and Hashimoto Thyroiditis, which is also treatable with medicine. Once they started treatment, we could see a change for the better. He had some rough hours and days, but was on his way to recovery. In total, he spent a week in the hospital, some in the ICU and some on the general medical floor. As a mom, most would understand how I was feeling; especially knowing we had lost Jacob. I had a few moments of tears and anguished praying. I kept praying “Lord, You created Josh and know what is wrong. Please give the doctors wisdom to find out what is wrong and get a plan of action. I do not know how people make it through these times without knowing Jesus as Savior and knowing there is HOPE!!!! Josh is doing great. He is back to work at the credit union. He’s had enough energy to work on their deck and keep up with his Dad even taking time to hunt together. We thank everyone for your prayers and visits; it meant a lot. Josh’s wife, Kimberlie, is still teaching at the high school but seniors instead of freshmen. She also received her Master’s degree and we are so proud of her. We could not ask for better children and their spouses. They make us proud. Richard is still working at the hospital and getting more involved with his woodworking and canoe building. We hope and pray each of you have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year! We send our love and thanks to each of you.
We know, at this time of year, we think of all those with physical needs and more importantly those without our Lord Jesus Christ. If you feel led to be a part of any of these projects or future Jacob’s Gift projects, your giving will be tax deductable. We would love to hear from you!
Thru Him (Jesus Christ) I can go on,
Richard, Debbie, Joshua, Kimberlie, “Jacob”, Katlynn, Kody and Konrad
The Board of Directors of Jacob’s Gift