Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

In the Cheetah enclosure at the Nairobi Safari Walk

While at the Nairobi Safari Walk a guide asked if we'd like o go into the cheetah enclosure. We gave him an enthusiastic, “Yes!” Our guide and another one in the enclosure grabbed our cameras and took a bunch of pictures of us petting the cheetah. She was purring just like a big cat - a cat that can reach speeds of up to 75 mph!

Once again I'd like to thank every one who supported us and prayed for us while we were over there. It was a blessing to know that you were praying for us. Please continue to pray for Kenya - things have not gotten any better. It's going to take a while for things to settle down and become whatever normal will be for them after this.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Very sad election news

Violence has erupted in Kenya as incumbent President Kibaki has been sworn in for another 5 year term amidst claims of fraud and rigging of the results. Kibera is burning and the country has effectively shut down, while opposition leader Raila Odinga plans his own ceremony to swear himself in as “the people’s President.” I am praying for the new friends that I made while I was there, that they will be safe, and that peace will return to that beautiful country soon.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Elections in Kenya

The presidential election in Kenya took place last night for those of us in the western hemisphere. Things seemed to be relatively peaceful in what will be the closest race since Kenya's independence from Britain in 1963. A peaceful election and transfer of power, should Raila Odinga win the election, will be a great answer to prayer. Peace seems to be a common sentiment, with this quote summing up what I hope is the majority feeling amongst Kenyans - a people I have grown to love:

“We are optimistic that with a Raila government, the economy will really grow, and that will change how everyone lives, But if he does not win, we will accept the results of our fellow Kenyans.”

Kennedy Mango, referring to presidential candidate Raila Odinga by his first name, as he is commonly known.

vote peacefully

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Amani ya Juu

While still in Nairobi, Kim sent me an email about an article she read in World Magazine. The story was about Amani ya Juu (higher peace in Swahili), a place that provides counseling, community and work for refugee women. The women are taught to sew, and their handcrafts are sold online and at their store and cafe in Nairobi. We called and found that it was just a few minutes from the DOOR training center, so we went and purchased many Christmas gifts there.

Moriah and some ladies at Amani:

Moriah and ladies at Amani

The front of the store:

Amani Store Front

Courtyard and play area:

Amani courtyard

Moriah shops in the children's section of the store:

Amani childrens area

Friday, December 14, 2007

Back in Chicago

After a nightmare connection in London, we made it back to the states. At Heathrow Airport, if you stay in Terminal 4 you can take two carry-ons per person. Unfortunately our flight to Chicago left from Terminal 3. So we had to check two carry-ons (at no charge, the one piece of good news we heard in that airport).

Also, our new friend Jenna's flight was delayed, and even if everything had gone smoothly for us it is doubtful we would have been able to meet up with her. I am sure we will have another chance to meet sometime.

Everything has gone smoothly in Chicago. Our flight out is delayed abit, but that gave us some extra time to get through customs, and pick up our two carry-ons so we have them in our possession again (one had a video camera and my shotgun mic).

We'll be in the air on the way to Tucson soon. There is more to report and more pictures to post as well.

God is good - thank you all for your prayers!

Our last day in Nairobi - this year, anyway

This post is from Moriah (written on Thursday afternoon, posted Friday from Chicago O'Hare).

Today we went to Simon's house and church. The church was just a small room. After, when we were in the car, one of the men asked me if I liked it. I said, "yes." He asked me if it was like my church and I said ,"no." But now that I think about it, I would say yes. The building was not like ours, but he asked if it was like our church, not if the building was like our church. So yes, we both worship the same God, and sing to Him and thank Him. I need to stop thinking of our building, but of our people.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The last testimony

We finished videotaping all 19 translators' testimonies this afternoon!

the last testimony being videotaped

Remember, you can click on any image to go to its Flickr page and download a larger version, or see all the blog pictures and more on the Kenya 2007 photoset.

More celebration!

I already talked a bit about the celebration. It included worship and a Bible lesson, as well as the handing out of certificates.

One of the staff's daughters watches by the drum as the translators pray

More singing

Moriah mans a video camera and takes pictures of the ceremony

After the formal ceremony, we had lunch and took some pictures of some of the kids.

Children of some of the guests

After dinner we had a more informal time of gifts for the translators and story telling.

Moriah handed out some busy bags to staff kids.

Another busy bag

Tesfaye tells about his first plane ride (to come to DOOR this year). He had us all laughing at his descriptions. Pray for him as he is a new Christian, but very much on fire and excited about taking the Bible to the deaf in Ethiopia.

Tesfaye tells about his first plane ride (to come to DOOR this year)

The highlight was when the DVDs were presented to each team. These DVDs are the first Bibles that the Deaf have in their heart language. They are just a part of the Bible, but an important start. The gifts of personal DVD players for each translator will enable them to share the Word of God with deaf in villages throughout four countries in Africa - Kenya, Zambia, Ethiopia and Burundi.

The Kenyan team receives their DVDs

This was like seeing the Gospel of John given to a tribe in South America, only there were four countries, each with their own sign language. What an awesome privilege to witness this and to have been a part of this in a small way!

Praise God for His faithfulness and the faithfulness of His people!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Celebration day!

Today was a full day. We started with the celebration/graduation and ended with presentations of gifts and the Bible in sign language on DVDs that the student/translators put together over the past 11 months.

It was an awesome privilege to be a part of the process. They even asked me to bring a greeting from Christ Community Church in Tucson. I kept it short - short enough to include the text of what I said here:

Praise the Lord!

My name is Mark Newhouse.

I bring greetings from Christ Community Church in Tucson Arizona, in the United States. This church loves you and is praying for you. And there are people all over the world praying for you.

We are excited because we know that God loves you.

We are excited because we know that God sees you.

We are excited because we know that God hears you.

We are excited because now God speaks to you in your own language.

And we are excited to hear how God will use the Bibles on DVD as you take them with you to share with the Deaf in Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia, and Burundi.

Thank you and God bless you.

I hope to write a longer post about today and add some pictures, but now it's time to go to bed.

Tourist Time

Yesterday we did the tourist thing. Since we had a (relatively) short time here, we decided to forego a full blown safari. But we did go see some animals. Rather than describe everything, we'll let some of the hundreds of pictures that we took tell most of the story. Click on the picture to get to some larger ones and see more on this flickr set.

We started at the Giraffe Centre:


Up close and personal:


For $600 (US) a night you can stay at the manor and feed the giraffe from your window:


Then it was off the the baby elephant orphanage:


Cute, isn't she?


Many of these elephants were orphaned due to ivory poaching. It's too bad they didn't have access to this shovel in the wild to beat up on the poachers:


Then it was off to the Nairobi Safari Walk (after lunch and some shopping):


Some lion pictures:





The end:


Monday, December 10, 2007

A Revisited Passion

God is so good! With too many "coincidences" to mention, He has orchestrated lining up a layover in London with a layover of another short term missionary who is a niece of a friend of ours. She left for South Africa in May and is coming back to the states at the same time Moriah and I are returning from Kenya.

We'll meet for the first time in person in London. But, as you can see from reading her blog, A Revisited Passion, we have already met in spirit.

God bless you, Jenna.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Psalm 34:18

After writing the previous post, I felt led to read Psalm 34. The Psalm begins with praise to God:

"I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together."

This is exactly what Fenelon was talking about - loving His glory more than my life. And then verse 18:

"The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit."

Thank you God, for being near to me. Keep my heart broken so that You will always be near.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


Oh God, so many emotions swirling within me this morning. I had a hard time sleeping last night. Kibera is overwhelming. The thought of being involved in an orphan ministry here is overwhelming. Knowing there might be a deaf/hard of hearing foster girl, still in a group home in Tucson, is overwhelming.

I kept waking up with these things on my mind. Does God want me to be involved in more than a short term trip to Kenya? Or is my missions involvement to be short trips to support missionaries with the technology skills that I have?

And then I read Fenelon again this morning, and the two short paragraphs slayed me:

"Understand that peace does not depend upon the fervor of your devotion. The only thing you need to be concerned about is the direction of your will.

"The important question is not how religious you are or how devoted, but rather is your will in harmony with God's?....Love Him more than yourself and His glory more than your life. The least you can do is to desire and ask for such a love. God will then pour out upon you that special love which only His children know, and He will give you His peace."

As I reflected on that, and knowing that I need that kind of love, I was once again overwhelmed. I prayed for that love, and began to weep. Not because I didn't have that love, but because He was giving it to me. I know that what I am doing right now is in His will for me. Right now my will is in harmony with His. I wept because Tom Clinton was so excited about me being in Kenya, with my video equipment, at the same time he was, and that we were able to get footage he needed for his project. I wept because of so many generous gifts to support Moriah and I coming here. I wept because all those questions and things that were overwhelming to me are completely out of my hands and in God's hands. He knows the answers. He is the answer.

I love this song by Twila Paris, "When You Speak to Me":

“When You speak to me

When I take the time to listen

There is more than what I think I feel

When You speak to me

When I sit and still the motion

There is nothing left but what is real

There is an answer to every question

The answer is You

“And the heavens open when You speak to me

Pouring light into my waiting heart

And the music fills an ocean silently, quietly

When you speak to me

“When You speak to me

When You call me and surround me

There is peace to cover any pain

When You speak to me

When You place Your word inside me

I am filled and I am strong again

There is a reason for every longing
The reason is You”

As I wept, those words came to me, and as God began to pour His love into my heart (how apt that we can't even love Him more than ourselves without His help), I also received His peace.

My heart is soft right now, tender and raw. Tears are close to filling my eyes. I don't know why God has chosen me, but I am so glad He did.

God, please give me a love for You that is deeper than my love for myself, and a love for Your glory that is greater than my love of my life. Align my will with Yours. Thank You for Your peace. Thank You that You have everything in control. Thank You for allowing me to be a part of Your plan. Show me where You are going to be working today, and help me to meet You there.

In Jesus' name,


First Love

Today we spent time with Tom Clinton of First Love International. We began by visiting the Raila Education Center in the Kibera Slum. First Love has a feeding program for the school there, and has also built a girls' home that currently houses 8 orphaned girls.

Moriah and Baby.jpg

Visiting the Kibera slum was surreal. It was almost like visiting a movie set. The poverty was so immense it was impossible to get my head around. The slum stretches on and on, and there is a constant stream of people. The shacks and shanties are packed in tight.


Filth and waste are everywhere, and a train track runs right through the middle of it all.

Train track in Kibera

After a quick tour of the slum, we went to the outskirts and I videotaped Tom giving an introduction to the new video First Love is creating for their new project: Operation Hope. He had taped an introduction in his office back in Rockford, IL, but he was excited to be able to do it on location, and give a real feel for the need.

Mark tapes Tom

Then it was off to Karen to tour and video the 5 acres of property where First Love is building facilities to house 160 orphans, school 400 children, give them vocational training.

We also brought many blankets, hats, scarves, mittens and more to donate to the orphans. These were all made by the Reach Out ministry.

Girls with their donations

It was a whirlwind day, and there is so much more to say, but I am tired and going to bed.

We continue to thank you for your prayers - they have upheld us all throughout the trip. And it is a blessing to me to know that you are praying!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Started videotaping today

We jumped right in this morning and started videotaping some testimonies.


We have about 12 on tape now, with 7 or 8 more to go next week. We'll also go back and get some more stories from the guys once we see where we need more content or to flesh out something we liked but want more of the story.


Tomorrow we go with Tom and Linda Clinton of First Love International to see the work being done on their girls' home in Karen, and also out to the Kibera Slum to video some of the orphan children they work with there.

We had fried chicken and french fries tonight for dinner. We have told the cook twice that we are happy to eat what he is serving the students (beans - lentils? - and rice tonight) - even that we'd prefer it. But they want to treat us special as guests. Hopefully we'll get to enjoy some ethnic food over the next several days. But we appreciate what they are doing for us.

I gave Moriah my Digital Rebel to use today, and she quickly filled the compact Flash card with 163 photos, including the two above. Here are a couple more for you to enjoy. Click on any picture to go to the Flickr page and see them larger if you want.

A white flower on a black background:


This puppy is quite cute:


Moriah is turning into quite the photographer, and really loves shooting with a DSLR over a point and shoot.

Welcome to Nairobi

We made it to Kenya and so did all of our luggage. Getting the visa at the airport was very quick, and once all of our luggage came through, we zipped right through customs - he didn't even look at Moriah's passport! And this after having the person in front of us open one of her bags for a quick inspection. Thank you for praying us through!

When we exited the baggage area there was a sea of African faces looking at us, held back by a barricade, all of them holding signs with names on them. These were all drivers for everyone who had just arrived in Nairobi. I wish I could have taken a picture, but there is no photography or video/filming allowed at the airport.

Mike asked Moriah (and her young eyes) to help him find our driver by looking for the sign with either his name on it, or "DOOR Africa." As Mike made his way down the barricade, I saw the sign and called him over. Our driver found, we made our way to the DOOR Africa Training Center. It didn't seem as strange as I thought it would to be driving on the other side of the road, and roundabouts are a new experience, too.

It's hard to get a sense of the city at night - I look forward to seeing more of it in the coming days.

We shook all the students' hands and gave them a thumbs up to indicate that we are doing well. It's a bit odd not to have the murmur of talking, even though there are 19 men here. We'll do formal introductions in the morning.

A quick assessment of the luggage indicates that everything arrived safely - all 20 DVD players, the tripods, and other video equipment, and all of the Reach Out items as well.

Again, thanks for all the prayers that helped us arrive with everything safely!


One of the books I brought with me to read through is a compilation of letters written in the 17th Century by a man named Fenelon. They were written to members of the Court of Louis the 14th to encourage them to "live a life of true spirituality in the midst f a court life that was shamelessly immoral." The book is called Let Go: Living by the cross and by faith, and contains great encouragement on every page.

Here are a few quotes that stood out to me:

"Humility is good in every situation because it produces that teachable spirit which makes everything easy."

"When we are careful to instantly let go of all needless worries and restless thoughts (self-centered thoughts rather than loving, outgoing ones) then we shall find ourselves on plateaus of peace....walking in the freedom and innocent peace of the children of God."

"The Kingdom of God began at Calvary. The cross was a neccesity. When we pick up the cross of Jesus and bear it in love to Him, His Kingdom has begun in us."

"We must remember that pain is only felt where there is life, and where there is life is just the place where death is needed." (discussing the need to die to self)

"He wants you to live abundantly, but this can only be accomplished by allowing Him to cut into that fleshly part of you which is still stubbornly clinging to life."

"Why be so concerned about dried up streams when rivers of living water are so available?"

"If you will learn to be honest and simple in your desires, I think you will be more pleasing to God than if you were to suffer a hundred martyrdoms."

The theme of the book thus far seems to be humility and simplicity, letting go of the worries and trivialities of life that satan uses to distract and torment us. We can get so caught up in kicking ourselves, or figuring out how to be more effective, that we lose sight of what our focus needs to be, and satan has won again.

I am coming to realize that there is only so much we can do anyway - what's done is done - and we just need to move on and do the next thing. We should learn from our mistakes - see the first quote on the relationship between humility and teachability - and then move on.

This should serve me well as I am very much out of my element in many ways here in Africa, but I am ready to learn and excited to see what God has for me.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

We've arrived in Kenya

We made it in safe and sound last night, and slept well. After a breakfast of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and some Kenyan Chai tea, we're ready to start right in videotaping some students today.

Moriah says she loves it here. And I am having a good time myself so far as well.

More later - internet service is slower than dial-up slow this morning, should be better tonight.

The Netherlands

We've made it to Amsterdam after a long flight. Moriah would be happy to stay here rather than get on another plane so soon. I can hardly blame her, but I am anxious to get to Nairobi.

That said, I'd love to stay here for a few days or more. Almost 100 years ago my grandfather immigrated from Holland to the United States. He died when I was two, so I don't really remember him. But I do remember my grandmother. I recently was told that one of the last things my grandmother told my aunt before she died was that she always prayed that her children would be missionary minded. And now their grandson and great granddaughter have returned to the homeland (if only for a few hours) as missionaries!

The neat thing is that so many family members have been a part of this trip, supporting us both financially and in prayer - Aunts and uncles, cousins and sisters, all missionary minded. I am blessed to be a part of such a rich legacy.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Total Reach Out items en route to Kenya

Jordan here (Mark's oldest daughter)

We worked late into the night cramming Reach Out items into every available pocket of the 4 suitcases. Here's everything that we sent:

mittens--3 (pairs)
slippers--1 (pair)
tote bags--17
busy bags--3

Total--131 items!

We're Off!

O' Hare at Christmas

The day has finally come, and we have finished our first leg of the journey to Kenya. Right now we are in Chicago at O'Hare, waiting for our next flight. We'll be off to Amsterdam where we will meet up with Mike and Linda Buus. From there we have another 8 hour flight into Nairobi.

O'Hare is decorated with some pretty lights for Christmas, which prompted Moriah to stop and take a few photos.

Globe in lights

As Kim has already told many of you, we were overwhelmed by your generosity! We were brought to tears as we saw how many of you have partnered with us for the Kingdom. We are excited to see how God will bless this trip - Thank you so much for being a part of it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Front Page News

Two years ago my oldest daughter, Jordan, started a sewing club for girls, called Reach Out. The girls in the club learn to sew, knit and crochet from older women, and then donate the items they make to the needy around the world. To date they have sent blankets, pillows, baby clothes, scarves, hats, mittens, and more to orphanages in Russia, and Nigeria, as well as to a women and children’s shelter in Tucson.

Today the local paper featured Reach Out in a story about how they are sending more than 40 blankets along with scarves, tote bags and other items with us to Kenya. There are some great pictures, including the cover image of the Family Plus magazine, which is also featured on the front page of the paper!

It does a Daddy’s heart good…

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Why Kenya?

Our trip to Africa began back in March of this year (2007). Mike and Linda Buus were in town to give Christ Community an update on the progress of the Bible DVDs that were being created by the DOOR (Deaf Opportunity OutReach) staff in Nairobi. Several community groups got together to host a potluck dinner for them, and my daughters and I ended up sitting with the Buuses. As we talked I mentioned that I had some experience with video and would be interested in lending my expertise to the project. Mike said I should come to Nairobi with him in December for the graduation celebration and to make a new DVD to show to churches in the US that will explain the need and tell how to get involved with DOOR.

I told him I'd pray about it.

A couple months later, after praying about it nearly every day, I emailed Mike and asked if he still wanted me to come to Africa. He said yes, so I talked to Moriah and asked if she might ever want to travel with me on a short term missions trip - hypothetically, of course. She said she would, so I emailed Mike again, asking what he thought about bringing my 10 year old daughter, who has a real heart for missions, along with me. He answered "we'd love to have her come and, I think, she would too! It would be a life-changing experience for her!"

Next I approached our missions board, and they approved our trip, as did the elders at Christ Community. We wrote our support letter which went out at the beginning of November, and God richly supplied well beyond the $5,000 of expenses we expect to have. This allowed us to purchase 20 personal DVD players to give to each of the graduating deaf pastors/missionaries so that they can take the Bible on DVD back to their own countries. 10 of them are packed in our 4 suitcases, carefully wrapped in blankets made by my daughters' Reach Out club that are being donated to 1st Love International. (10 are traveling with Mike and Linda.)

Thank you to all who have partnered with us financially. Your gifts are truly being multiplied for the Kingdom!