BIG NEWS!!!!!

I am so excited to announce that I will be returning to Kenya for another school year! This is a job, a life, that I feel called into. This is a teaching role that I feel designed for. Over the last 2 years, God has been slowly changing my expectations for my life. Becoming a missionary has never been on my radar. My expectations had always been to become a teacher, wife, and mother in that order. I craved the consistency that life would bring. Throughout my 4+ years of college I struggled with this deep fear of failure. I always felt inadequate when I looked around at my fellow classmates. I was a B average student in a sea of Type A perfectionist. I just did’t fit in. My deepest fear become a reality when I was hired as a long term substitute kindergarten teacher. By the end of those 2 months, I was doubting my choice to become a teacher.

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I carried those doubts and fears with my when I came to Kenya, but I could not deny God’s hand in leading me here. I trusted that He knew what he was doing even if I didn’t. God has been quieting those fears and doubts over the last 6 months. I get to be the type of teacher that I want to be. The relationships I have with my students are rich and filled with a mutual love and respect. I have the opportunity to not only teach these children, but to disciple them. I have developed partnerships with the parents. They are my co-teachers. We share in the joys and struggles of teaching together as a community in rural Kenya.

 

 

 

My life expectations have changed. I used to crave consistency, but I’ve embraced a life that is anything but consistent. People come and go like the revolving doors in the big cities. The WiFi and electricity are as consistent as my ex-boyfriends (not at ALL) The political stability of the Kenyan government has been a constant teeter-totter. God knew what I craved, but He has called me into a life that is the opposite of what I craved. He is asking me to lean into Him and the consistency that is found in Him. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and that is life’s one guarantee.

Please pray for myself and the moms that will be here for the upcoming school year. We have many decisions to make in regards to curriculum and class groupings. I will be returning to the U.S for the summer to attend conferences, do fundraising and spend some much needed time with family. If you would like to sponsor my second term in Kenya, you can donate at this site http://www.wgm.org/gracewilliams

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Isaiah 43:2

The events of Friday will forever be in my mind. I have never felt such fear, but I have also never felt God’s peace more than I did that night. After hearing my fellow missionaries reflect on what they experienced that night, I am amazed by Gods sovereignty. Here is my personal reflections of God acting on our behalf.

It had been a normal evening. I had some friends over for pizza. We had been chatting and enjoying the beginning of the weekend. It was a little after 8:00pm when we first heard the screams. We assumed the sound was coming from the girls boarding school just down the road. I can often hear shouting and screaming from them when they have school assemblies. It was only as my friends were walking out the door and we smelled the smoke that we realized something was wrong.

The building was already fully engulfed in flames, and we could hear people screaming from within the hospital. The screaming was from fear, and not from pain, but we didn’t know that. I’ll never forget that sound. After staring at the flames in shock for about 1 minute, I realized that this may not be known by everyone yet. My friends and I split up and began knocking on doors. The third house I went to belonged to my mentor and her family. They already knew and she told me to prepare to evacuate in the event it spread down the hill. We have been in full blown dry season for about 2 weeks, but this has been an abnormal season. Normally all of January is dry as well. This January was so wet that our rain tanks overflowed multiple times. If it had been a normal dry season this year, the likelihood of it spreading would have been significantly higher.

Once I had my go bag ready, I headed over to the Many’s house to wait for the bug out call. Angela’s husband was at the hospital helping with the fire and patients, and he would call occasionally to give us an update on the fire. There was a whole bunch of kids already at the Many’s waiting with us. The age range of kids there was 13-8 months. I quickly fell into the role of soother. At one point. I had three little girls on my lap giving snuggles and words of calm optimism. I had remained relatively calm and clearheaded throughout the entire night, but seeing the kiddos who I loved deeply so frightened almost broke me. From where we were watching, the fire looked massive. We couldn’t tell if it had spread farther into the hospital. All we could do was watch, wait and pray.

Our faithful God answered our prayers. Around 11:00pm, we received word that the fire had been contained to the one building and it was under control. No lives were lost and no one was injured. I did not go to bed till after midnight and many others never made it to bed that night.

The next morning, I helped the missionaries deliver Chai, bread and cookies to the hospital wards. As I looked at the shell of what was once the kitchen, offices and laundry building, my first thought was “I am so thankful for stone.” Most of the buildings in the Tenwek compound are made of stone, and the stone walls kept the fire from spreading to other buildings.

So much is left to do, and many decisions need to be made. Please pray for the administration of the hospital as they deal with all that must be done. I also ask that you consider giving a small donation to the fire recovery fund. The building must be rebuilt, and equipment must be purchased to replace what was lost. Also, during the chaos of the fire, many building were looted. Beds, wheelchairs and computers were stolen from the hospital. If you would like to give directly to fire relief, you can go to this site https://wgm.org/project/tenwek-hospital-fire-recovery

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2

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A Peek Into My World

Here is a video to give you a small glimpse into my life here in Kenya. Follow this link to see the video.  https://vimeo.com/250433438

Along with this video, I want to give you a picture of some of the cool, unique and just plain strange things I encounter on a daily basis. Just this morning I found this ugly thing in my house. If you can’t tell, that is a slug. He was about 4in long! My roommate said “lets kill it with fire and salt!” It turned out salt was all that was necessary.

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This was my first experience with slugs, but I deal with other critters daily. On the growing list of things I never thought I’d say to a class, number 1 is “no you can’t bring the chameleon to class.” In connection with this, I once had to say to a student “no you can not put that chameleon in my hair!”  Number 2 is “boys please chase the cow out of the P.E field.” Free range livestock has taken on a new meaning since coming to Kenya.

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There were also several days in a row in which I had to chase a neighborhood puppy out of the classroom. I often leave the classroom door open to provide better light and air. This little puppy always took the open door as an invitation. As you can imagine, much giggling, screaming and shouting was the product of this little visitor.

I hope these quotes, pictures and video help you see my life a bit more clearly.

 

 

One Crazy Year

On New Years Eve of 2016, I was driving from IL to TN with all of my personal belongings packed into a moving van. I had no job and barely enough money to pay the January rent. I was following what felt like a gut instinct to make a permanent life in TN.

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Within a month, I had two jobs, but both jobs were temporary and had no opportunities for career advancement. I felt stuck. I felt replaceable and temporary on all fronts. I kept praying for God to send me to a school where my teaching skills were needed. But every time I walked out of a school after subbing I felt like I was failing as a teacher. After a discouraging job fair, I remember thinking “Is there a place for me here? God why am I here?”. Two weeks later I sat down with Angela for coffee. It was during this coffee interview I felt seeds of hope being planted. God was sending me to a place where my skills were needed. God confirmed this over and over again with support from family, friends and strangers.

Seven months after moving into that little house in TN I pack up most of my things and sold/donated them. Everything else was loaded into my Chevy Malibu and driven back to IL.

Looking back on all of the ways God acted on my behave in 2017, I can confidently walk into 2018 with an open mind and an open heart. God has been working this year to restore my confidence in who I am as a child of the King. I no longer make definitive plans for the future, because God always seems to have something better in mind.

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If you are feeling like I was just one year ago, please do not become discouraged. Place your burdens in the hands of the King, and watch Him take those burdens and turn them into wings.

 

 

A Kenyan Christmas

Merry Christmas!! This first Christmas in Kenya has been filled with joy, laughter and love. The missionaries here at Tenwek have established Christmas traditions that both serve the Kenyan community and the missionary community.

The Christmas festivities began with the MK gingerbread house decorating competition on Wednesday. The students begin preparing the night before by baking the gingerbread.  The creativity of these kids shined during this time. One family made Hogwarts! I did not participate in the house making, but instead I went to each station to take pictures and give high fives.

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Thursday began a series of Orphanage Christmas parties put on by the missionaries. There are five orphanages in our area that the missionaries support. At these parties each student is given a new pair of shoes, a new school uniform and school supplies for the next school year. We also play games with them sing songs and share the Christmas story. I was given the task of teaching the Christmas story at the orphanage my group went to. I honestly felt intimidated with the idea of teaching to a group of 60 children. When I stood up to begin the story I felt uncertain of how to begin. The uncertainty and the nervousness melted away as the word tumbled from my mouth. I never looked at my outline and notes. I simply told the story. In that moment, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to do.

On Saturday, the missionaries went caroling through the hospital. This was a joy to be a part of. I can honestly say this experience opened my eyes and heart to a new perspective. Because my job is to minister to the missionaries and their families, I have not spent much time at the hospital. Each room I walked into was crowded. There are no private rooms for each patient to have. Much of the time there are not enough beds for everyone. However, the patients smiled as we sang. In many eyes, I saw joy that can not be taken away. I remember thinking “This is why Jesus came.” He came to bring joy, hope and love.

This Christmas I have experienced so much love. For those who are worried about me, know I have been well loved this Christmas by the missionaries here. I have received gifts  and cards from far and near. I have shared meals and laughter with those I now consider family. But nothing compares to all of the ways God has revealed his character to me through those I have been given the opportunity to serve. I pray I have used these opportunities well.

 

 

I now ask you to pray and consider your own opportunities. The orphan and hospital ministries depend on something we are all familiar with, money. There are needs here that impose heavy financial burdens. The hospital would be able to save more lives if they had IV pumps. The orphan ministries are always in need of more funds due to the fact that there will always be children who are left without parents to raise them.

To learn more about why IV pumps are desperately needed visit this blog  https://manyfamilyonmission.com/2017/11/30/my-grown-up-christmas-list-3/

If you desire to learn more about the orphan ministry see this linkhttps://www.wgm.org/tenwek-orphan or contact me directly

Merry Christmas!

Community

At 9:30pm last night, I made the difficult decision to take a sick day today. As I sent the email to the parents of my students, I felt a great deal of disappointment in myself. Throughout my short career in teaching I’ve managed to tough through some nasty bugs. I hate the feeling of not being able to do my job. However, I knew after vomiting due to sinus drainage, that I needed to take a day off. With a sore throat, a sinus headache, and an upset stomach, I began to feel the first twinges of homesickness. All I wanted to do was sleep, but I couldn’t get comfortable enough. I kept thinking “all I want is NyQuil!” With no Walmart or pharmacy even remotely close, my wish would not be granted.

This morning when I woke up I felt like I’d been run over by a truck. My first thought was “I wish my mom were here.” At home, when I’m sick Mom makes sure I’m comfy on the couch and then she makes me scrambled eggs with toast. Sometimes she’ll snuggle on the couch with me and we’ll watch movies. The truth is when I’m sick I go from being a strong independent woman to being a mommies girl real quick! While I was in this weird dynamic of trying to be strong and trying not to give into the emotions of homesickness, God gaves me exactly what I needed. He brought me moms. The moms of my students stopped by periodically to make sure I was alive and doing ok. They brought me medicine, Gatorade, food and handmade get-well cards from their kids. This is community. This is family. It is difficult to say I am weak and can’t do what I’m supposed to do. It is beautiful when the community comes around you and says we will be strong when you can’t be.

Sickness in multiple forms has been going around Tenwek.  Please pray that health will be restored throughout Tenwek.

My Christmas Wish List

O my! Thanksgiving is this week! Here at Tenwek it still feels and looks like Spring. Time has a way of moving too quickly and standing still here. I see pictures of the fall colors and the cold weather in the states, but I live in the land of eternal Spring. This lack of seasons makes it difficult to remember that the seasons have continued to change elsewhere. I’ve been reminded multiple times that Christmas packages need to be sent soon! Before I tell you what I want for Christmas, let me tell you what I am thankful for.

Thankful:

God’s Word, my journal FaceTime, water filters, rain, new friends, old friends, my students, my music, consistent electricity and wifi, refrigeration, a gas oven/stove, and my supporters.

Living in rural Kenya has given me a new perspective on life. I am richly blessed to have access to everything I have listed. These are things I won’t take for granted here or in the states. When life here gets frustrating, overwhelming or just plain exhausting, I will usually take myself on what I call a perspective walk. As I walk around the Tenwek community, I see people living in thrown together shanties with dirt floors no running water and no electricity. The children in this area have begun to recognize me and they always greet me while I am walking. The joy that I see in these children always brings my perspective into focus. God is at work here at Tenwek, and he is at work in my heart.

With all of this in mind, there are things that make daily living easier. I’ve tried to keep this list simple and cheap.

Christmas wish list:

Hot Chocolate Mixes, Ground Coffee, Powdered Cappuccino Mix, Taco Seasoning, Chili Seasoning, Alfredo Mix, Spaghetti Mix, Amazon Gift Cards, ITunes Gift Cards and Chocolate 🙂

Over the last two months, I’ve realized there are many things I can life without. In fact, I really only need two things to maintain sanity, and they are coffee and sleep. I appreciate the generosity that has been given to me over the last 7 months, and I will continue to be grateful if that is all I receive. If you do desire to send me a gift for Christmas, please message me either through Facebook or my email and I will give you the address.

Happy Thanksgiving!!