The Other Side of the Fence
She stood away from the other children when Maria, Kristin, Emily and Paula noticed her on the other side of the fence. They knew right away she wasn’t one of the lucky ones who had someone able to pay for her to attend school. They also knew there was more than a fence that separated her from the others. The women were heartbroken to picture her future.
The ladies from FCS had traveled a long and uncomfortable journey to Mombasa, Kenya, to serve as part of a mission team for three weeks.
Maria Lippart, an elementary teacher at FCS for about 20 years, was the team leader. After a previous mission trip to the school, she couldn’t wait to return. She spent hours working with Carol Turner, Director of e3kids International, preparing for this trip. They had a group of 13 on the trip, including people from FCS, SimVentions and e3kids. Maria’s role was to support the fellow members on the team, train teachers at the school, teach classes, and anything else Royal Kids’ needed her to do.
Kristin Hvizdak, a high school English teacher at FCS for 3 years, jumped at the chance to coach the RK teachers in English, grammar and writing skills. Among other teaching supplies, she brought a class set of dictionaries donated by the Lower Campus and taught staff and students how to use them.
Emily King, a teacher and tech coordinator at FCS for about 15 years, brought a set of iPads that FCS had donated. She instructed teachers and students how to use the devices to grow their academic skills, even on the days when the power went out.
Paula Shinkle, a nurse at FCS for 15 years, came to serve as the team nurse and help the school. She taught CPR, hygiene classes and administered simple over-the-counter medicines. Bringing along a donation of 1000 toothbrushes from an FCS family, she delivered smiles when she handed those out to students.
Maria, Kristin, Emily and Paula had come prepared to accomplish a list of tasks while at the Royal Kids’ School, but soon discovered the Lord had His own agenda.
They shared how God brought people into their path, desperate to see, hear and feel the love of Jesus Christ. This little girl across the barbed wire fence was a perfect example of that.
“It was obvious she wanted to be at school with the other kids,” Maria said. With no education, the future is bleak for children in this poorer area of Kenya. “Without the ability to attend school, they aren’t able to read or write or learn a skill to support themselves or their family.”
One day they worked with a church group from Bangla, a rural area of Mombasa. Deliverance Church used the FCS ladies to take food bags to some people living there. It was shocking to see how the people lived. Their homes were made from cardboard or sticks and a piece of plastic or cloth.
Maria said, “These people were hungry and needed food. Unfortunately, the church didn’t have enough for every family, but we were thankful we could help some. The Lord allowed us to minister to these hurting families, and I formed a friendship with the pastor of the church. I pray the Lord uses me to encourage Professor because it’s overwhelming to meet the need of so many families.”
Kristin talked about how difficult it was to see this extreme level of poverty. “Here in America, we believe we need more ‘stuff’. Comparing that with the way these people lived so simply each day was such a rude awakening. Their faces just lit up when we gave out these bags of food. Their gratefulness for so little truly moved me.”
Paula treasured the opportunity to participate in the church outreach to Bangla. She loved praying with each family once they were given a food bag. She was thrilled when they were able to get medical help for a man with a badly infected foot. Paula realized that would be life-changing for him. Paula said, “We were being the hands and feet of Jesus.”
Emily told of a young girl at the RK school named Michelle. Michelle is hearing-impaired and had no way of communicating with her teacher. She would pound on her desk and cause a disturbance just trying to be ‘heard’. Her plight moved Emily, and she prayed the Lord could use her to help.
Emily’s own son is hearing-impaired, so she sat down with Michelle and began to teach her some basic sign language. “This light bulb went off for her when she realized she could communicate with other children, her teachers, etc. I thought I was going there to teach about iPads, but God’s bigger plan for me was to work with Michelle.”
The ladies also attended church with the school and nightly devotions with students. They were humbled to see people with nothing, yearning for more of Christ. “Unashamed of their love for Jesus, they worshipped with their whole hearts, and it changed me,” Kristin stated.
All four ladies would go back tomorrow if they could. Their willingness to give up three weeks of their precious summer break ended up bringing many blessings–to their own hearts. Their desire is for the people of Mombasa to experience the loving care of our Savior and the hope He can bring…even if you are on the other side of the fence.