Michael and Sandy – and Kenya

In just a few days, Michael and Sandy Boultinghouse will be headed back to Migori, Kenya to work at Kenya Relief’s orphanage, farm, and clinic for a 6-month stint.  They lived there for a year in 2008. We thought we’d catch up with them before they leave to find out what’s on their hearts and minds. Here’s what they had to say.

When do you leave, and how long will you stay?

Michael: We’ll be leaving Thursday, September 23, and returning in mid-March, which is about 6 months.

What do you plan to do while you’re there?

Michael: There is always much to do there. I will be working with several of the farm projects such as the dairy, apiary (beekeeping), and agricultural expansion (with the added land that Kenya Relief bought last year). We currently grow corn, cassava (for porridge), pineapples, bananas, watermelons, rice and napier grass (for the dairy cows). I also oversee the construction projects when I am there. We hope to finish building the wall around the orphanage this trip. The District Children’s Officer has requested an updated one be built for the orphanage. We’ll also oversee the money from KR sponsors and supporters in how it is used and accounted for.

Sandy: I will be working on the start of a school for KR children and other needy children in the community.  I retired after 35 years of teaching; the passion I have for education is still much alive and so I will be involved with this endeavor, as well as working closely with the social worker on many aspects of children’s affairs. Lately I have also sensed a need to encourage the Kenyan staff working for Kenya Relief at the orphanage, farm and clinic.  There have been many changes in the last year that impacted the staff and knowing most of them personally, I feel Michael and I can be used to bring consistency and support.

What brought you to the decision of going back to Migori?

Sandy: The decision to go back was confirmed by God’s provision through our friends and church family to help us financially make the trip happen.  We have never lost the love for the Kenyan people and we want to be proactive in acting this out.  I read a great quote the other day from a dear friend:

God does not always call the qualified, but HE will qualify the called.

What are you most looking forward to?

Michael: I look forward to seeing our Kenyan family: the children and staff, and our friends in the community. One of my favorite things is the Thursday morning staff devotional. It is not my nature to enjoy devotionals with other people. I prefer private times of devotion, but they just wander in over a 30-minute period and when enough of them are there, someone just starts singing. It is pure worship. The songs are simple and moving. Then, whoever is in charge asks for anyone to share a burden or a thanksgiving. The next part is when someone (they all rotate every week) shares a scripture and what God is saying through it. We have Pentecostals, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Catholics, Roho (a mixture of Christianity and early African practice) and every time it is always a good message. There is a time at the end to discuss what is going on with the children and then we pray.

Sandy: I look forward to the simplicity of what makes the people and children happy.

What is the hardest thing about living there?

Sandy: Aside from missing my children and their spouses, the hardest thing for me is discerning whether people love you for yourself or for what you can “do” for them. It is also difficult for me to be without apples. I have eaten one everyday since coming back in 2009 — they don’t have apples locally.

Michael: There is nothing really hard that comes to mind. It is a matter of tradeoffs. We don’t get the strawberries and peaches that are so great here, but the little sweeeet bananas, fresh pineapples and mangoes there are so good that you don’t miss the things you only get here. It is the same with our friends and family. Nothing can replace what we have here, but God has added new ones to our life over there that fill our hearts.

How do you think your experiences in Kenya so far have impacted your life?

Michael: When the children have eaten all of their food at a meal and they want more, they come back and say “addition” or “can you add me”. God has given me “addition” that I never expected and I am beginning to get a better sense of what He can do to us (that’s how a Kenyan would phrase it).

Sandy: It definitely has broadened my relationship with our Lord.  Taking me out of my comfort zone has caused me to have faith and dependence on God in such a way that I would have never known otherwise.

How can we be a help to you while you’re there?

Michael: It sounds simple but we could really feel your prayers the first two trips over there – and emails are the second thing that blesses us.

Sandy: It may sound redundant, but your prayers sustained us through some very difficult times before and they will be our source of help again, so we ask for you not to forget us.

If you had to sum up your thoughts about Migori in one word, what would it be?

Sandy:  Reality.

Michael:  Second home (that might be two words).

On a light note, what’s your favorite Kenyan food?

Sandy: sweet baby bananas.

Michael: aloru, which is a very small quail that they trap in the cornfields.

Least favorite?

Michael: goat intestines (chittlins).

Sandy: ugali (a mushy cornbread) Uuukkkk!

Have you adopted any customs/habits/traditions from the people in Migori?

Michael: I sure hope so!

Sandy: Oh, by all means. If you know me you know that submissiveness does not come naturally for me, but I have learned to lean on Michael so much more; I think he is very wise. We are learning the language and I surely hope I am learning to be happy and content with very little.

Very soon, you will be able to sign up for an email list to receive updates from Michael and Sandy – and you will also be able to encourage them with emails in return. Watch this space for more information!

Related: Kenya Relief recently sent a thank you to Fellowship North for all the work that has taken place in Migori. You can view their kind words here.

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