A Place of Thanksgiving

“YOU HAVE TURNED FOR ME MY MOURNING INTO DANCING... 
I CAN’T KEEP QUIET ABOUT YOU.  GOD, MY GOD, I CAN’T THANK YOU ENOUGH.”  PSALM 30:11,12 (NIV & THE MESSAGE)


With Rachel and I spending the majority of each year living in Kenya, we continue to be extremely grateful for you and for how God has shown His goodness to us and to Open Arms through you. 

Between November 1620 and November 1621, in a lengthy diary famously known as Mourt’s Relation, one early Pilgrim father, Edward Winslow, wrote about the bountiful provisions the Pilgrims were being blessed with.  He wrote, “And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

I believe, this Thanksgiving, that even though some seasons in our lives show more provision and blessing than others, that we, like Edward Winslow would be able to say, “….yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

We want you, our supporters and donors, in a small way, to be partakers of our plenty in the Open Arms Village.  We hope that you can take away something from these simple photos and words of thankfulness from some of our children.  Even though these photos and words won’t fill your tummy, we hope, in some small way, that they might just fill your soul.

Happy Thanksgiving,

 

David & Rachel Gallagher
Founders, Open Arms International

 

A Place of Love

"CHILDREN ARE A GIFT FROM THE LORD; THEY ARE A REWARD FROM HIM."  - Psalm 127:3 

If children are a gift from the Lord, then we are blessed beyond measure. Children are the gift that keeps giving when it comes to the Open Arms Village. 

If children are a reward from Him, then we must be doing something right because we are rewarded over and over when more babies come to our Baby Home.

Rachel and I never dreamed we would have babies in the Open Arms Village. We thought it would be easier to introduce children three years old and up into our Village. But when we got the phone calls within weeks of each other to take 29-day-old Belle and five-month-old Diana in as infants, we couldn't say "No." We heard God saying "Yes"...the rest is history!

The babies kept coming. Then a couple from the UK, Chris and Linda Richardson, learned that we needed a place to care for our babies, and they provided the funds to build our Baby Home. If that wasn't enough, when our capacity got stretched because of the number of babies, Grace Point Church in Tigard, Oregon, provided the resources to expand the Baby Home. We are at capacity with 15 babies - truly a blessing!

Momma Rachel is a wonderful Mommy to the babies in the Open Arms Village. She is a pediatric intensive care nurse for good reason - she loves babies and children, and they thrive under her care. Rachel makes sure the Baby Home has everything it needs to provide for our babies. When they get sick, she's right there to nurse them back to health. The Baby Home is the best place in the entire Open Arms Village!

Your donations to Open Arms International are so appreciated. Your support allows us to treat our children like the gifts and rewards from the Lord that they are. On behalf of the babies in our care who would otherwise not have a voice, thank you! This Thanksgiving, please know how thankful we are for you.

Thanking God for YOU this Thanksgiving,

 

David Gallagher
Co-founder, Open Arms International

Just 6 Months at Open Arms Village

A Note from our Executive Director

I just received this photo - the one on the right - and I just had to share.

This is three-year-old Duncan. Together, with his five-year-old brother Gracious and a stray dog, he was living in a hole in the side of a hill in a slum called Kambi Teso, near Eldoret, Kenya. Their parents are dead and they burrowed the hole to live in when they had to leave their house. That's where we found them and brought them to Open Arms Village this past spring. They were bloated with malnutrition and their bodies were full of parasites.

I think the picture of Duncan on the right says all that need be said. I am so grateful to God for the support that allows us to continue rescuing these precious children.

Thank you for all you do to Transform Africa, One Life At A Time!  Just in 2016, we've added over 15 children at Open Arms Village.  More rescued children means OAI needs additional sponsors. At this time, we need 55 sponsors to be at 90%. Will you help us? 

You can sponsor a child! 
Learn more here: www.openarmsinternational.org/sponsorship-application

You can share about your sponsorship experience with your friends and at your church. Learn more here: www.openarmsinternational.org/give-a-child-hope
 

Because People Matter to God,


Troy Ray
Executive Director


Teams in Kenya

We're very excited about our current team in Kenya. They are building an Aquaponic Fish Farm. Here is the most recent update: "We are making good progress on leveling and ground preparation. We will begin the metal fabrication and plumping by the end of the week. Tomorrow, we will bring in power and hopefully tap into the water line. Continue praying for favor and success, please. We have an amazing crew of both local workers and volunteers from Oregon. Together, we are making things happen!"

Steps in Sustainability

'Steps' might be a slight understatement. Our staff at Open Arms Village (OAV) has made giant strides in sustainable practices and have taught them to our children living at the Village. We received this wonderful update from our amazing missionary couple living at OAV - Ted and Brenda Whiteman. 

"When my wife, Brenda, and I first began living in Kenya, we regularly visited a local posho mill (grinding mill) to grind our maize (corn) into flour. As I considered the expenses we incurred transporting the maize and paying for the grinding (not including the manpower it took away from the Village), I was led to pursue building a 'posho mill' on site at Open Arms Village. In addition to serving our needs, I also thought this would be a great resource to our immediate neighbors. 

Maize is such an important part of the culture here - it is drunk as porridge for breakfast, eaten as a snack, and part of every evening meal. Due to this focus on maize, posho mills are as common as coffee shops in America.

Our vision was a three-room building to expand our current Open Arms Kiosk (store) to include a grinding room and a room for storage. Brenda and I then brought the vision to our home church, Grace Point Community (Tigard, Oregon), who joined in our excitement and quickly raised the required funds through an Advent giving project. With funds available, the search began for a qualified contractor to do the work. After a lengthy search, we were blessed with a fantastic contractor and the building was quickly and professionally finished.


Open Arms Builds a Silo

Our focus, initially, was to use the posho mill to serve the grinding needs for the Village and community. As we were installing the machinery, I was considering the best way for storing maize in our storage room. 

Traditional maize storage in Kenya involves a small, loosely built wooden structure. Maize cobs, dried in the field, are loosely tossed into the structure to dry further. When they are deemed dry enough, the maize is laid out on the ground and covered with pesticides to reduce losses to weevils, rats, and other pests. Then cobs are shelled of the kernels and the maize is returned to the building in sacks. It is well known that losses to pests, even with the pesticide treatment, range from 12-24% of the initial harvest throughout the storage season. These losses are traditionally accepted as part of maize storage.

Silos

I happened to come across a maize storage project, introduced to East Africa about 10 years ago, using silos. 

When the silo has been loaded with shelled maize, lit candles are place on top of the maize. Then both the inlet and outlet are sealed with rubber straps, making the silo airtight. When the candles use up all of the oxygen, they go out and in a few days any bugs that might have survived the cleaning and sifting will die. 

This is a radically different idea to traditional storage.  With a local craftsman and a couple of friends from Grace Point who came to Kenya to help kick off this project, we built the first silos September of 2015.

The advantages of Silo Storage Systems:

  1. Eliminating the cost and health risk of buying and adding pesticides to your primary food source.
  2. Only needing to build one storage structure that requires very little maintenance.
  3. Reducing the loss to pests from 12-24% to nearly zero.
  4. Increasing security by storing your maize in your home - maize theft is a very serious problem in Kenya.
  5. Low cost: only 5,500 shilling ($55 USD)

Another exciting by-product of this program is the potential for vocational training - not only our own young people, but those from the community who might have the skill to develop their own business.

There has been a great deal of interest from Open Arms staff and local community members as these large, shiny structures have taken shape and begun storing our maize. In addition to large-scale silos, which hold  1,800 kg (1.9 tons) of maize each, we have also built home-size silos, which hold  525 Kg (.57 tons). 

To the left: Our first smiling customer had his silo delivered just yesterday, and promised to order more, larger silos to start his own storage business. We've also had inquiries from large-scale maize growers and local schools for the larger commercial silos. It would appear that we are on the verge of as much business as we want and can manage.  

Lastly, silos are not only good for Open Arms and the surrounding community, but they're good for our children. As they grow and we consider their lives and prospects beyond the Village, we need to give them skills to make it on their own. We need to give them contemporary technology, contemporary thinking, and opportunities to make an impact on the community and Kenya as they provide for themselves and their families. Silo building is just one of many opportunities we can offer them to begin their own lives and careers beyond the fences of Open Arms Village."


Through your generous partnership, we are able to take these steps in sustainable practices. Together we are teaching  our children and anticipate seeing them shape the next generation of Kenya. 

We often experience a decrease in our summer giving. Please prayerfully consider partnering with us through a one-time or monthly gift. Together, we will transform Africa, one life a time.

Events and Visitors at Open Arms Village

Youth Rally

Open Arms Village recently hosted a Youth Rally inviting children from various churches in the Mlango area, including our Church at the Village.

Our goals were simple and straightforward:

  • Encourage young people (whether they have professed a faith or not) to learn more about faith and to develop their spiritual life.
  • Empower young people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in our world today.
  • Draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission, and work of the church community.
  • Foster the personal and spiritual growth of each young person.
  • Provide youth clubs or other activities for the common good of the young people, without a constant overtly religious agenda.

With these goals in mind, we organized the rally and sent invitations with the theme Youth with a Destiny! For two days, we nurtured over 300 talented, fun-loving students with worship, presentations, discussion time, and many sport activities. We feel the event went really well, and all who attended were blessed, motivated, and educated on spiritual and real life issues. It was full of fun and many of them are looking forward to future events like this one. 


Sauti Sol visits Open Arms

Open Arms Village was recently visited by Sauti Sol, one of Kenya's top singing groups.

As you may have heard, Open Arms International will be hosting their first ever Fundraising Relay Race in Eldoret - the Rift Valley Relay. This exciting event will happen on March 4th, 2017. (Click here to learn more)

Sauti Sol was touched by the Open Arms Village and our surrounding outreach programs. The group has accepted a role as ambassadors for the Rift Valley Relay and will be participating in a concert after the race. They are also eager to help in many other ways. We are excited about their support and their heart for the ministry!

Soccer National Competitors from Open Arms Village

We are so proud of our girls Maurine, Prudence and Leonida!  They have been practicing their soccer skills and have proved that they are very talented. For the second year in a row, they won all the way up to the national level, which is no easy task! They had to compete in several tournaments and stand out from millions of other primary school children - all of whom dream of the opportunity to play in Nationals. 

It requires a lot of dedication, hard work, and sacrifice to compete at this level.  During the national competition, our three girls played over 15 games and each scored in almost every game. 

In addition to doing well in the competition, they created some great awareness about Open Arms International. Many spectators from the competition are eager to know more about Open Arms Village and the work we are doing in Eldoret. 

Training without Boarders

Our Village was recently blessed with a team from the Hillsboro Fire Department called Training Without Borders! It was one of the most unique teams we've had at our Village. Their goal was to train our students to stabilize, rescue and bring to safety, people who find themselves in crisis situations. 

Open Arms Village is located by the Kipkaren River. While this a beautiful location and can be a great place to relax or fish, it can also be treacherous if you aren't paying attention to your surroundings or footing.

In just two weeks, the Training Without Borders Team, trained a group of twelve students on rope and water rescue and industrial/auto extrication. They started learning with theory classes and then continued their learning through mock rescues. They practiced at a well, by the river, and at the waterfalls. The entire week was filled with enriching hands-on experiences. At the end of the training, all students received certificates for their hard work and success.

This type of training is vital to our entire community, since this area is prone to various kinds of accidents and incidents. Thanks to Training Without Borders, we now have a team of twelve students with rescue skills who will be able to help those in our Village and surrounding community who find themselves in crisis situations requiring rescue and immediate help.

Stories from the Open Arms Medical Clinic

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Our first team of 2016 left Portland, OR on Saturday, January 16th. They arrived to Eldoret and began working right away! 

After settling into the Village, they began preparing for a huge medical clinic in the Kambi Teso slum. Open Arms has not been able to host a medical clinic in the slum for many years, and we anticipate that it will be heavily attended by thousands of patients who would otherwise go without medical care!

We've collected a few stories from our team members and hope you will keep the team and the patients they see in your prayers as they continue to minister to people who are devastated by poverty.


"This morning I was awoken very early by the Kenyan birds, on my one day to sleep in (today we get a day of rest and exploring). As I lie here in bed under my twisted mosquito net, reviewing all my photos from our medical clinic yesterday I find myself smiling. 

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I love sitting down with each patient, sitting across from them at their level, grabbing their hands, making eye contact with them and saying "Hello, my name is Brooke; what is your name?" Then they state their name shyly. I continue to look in their eyes, the window to their soul, and say "I am a nurse, I am here to take good care of you, to try and make you feel better. I am happy to do that for you." Then they smile, and their shoulders relax. I read parts of their registration/triage/diagnosis paper aloud to them and then say "I see you have a fever and fatigue, I would like to draw a small sample of blood to test for Malaria, is that okay?" Then they nod and their eyes light up. They're being heard. They're being valued. After the test I hug them, or gently rub their arm, squeeze their hand, and say "thank you for coming, thank you for letting me help."

Every day we cross paths with "strangers," often times just briefly. Maybe they're helping us at a grocery store or coffee stand, maybe we are helping them at our job, maybe we are just passing them on the sidewalk. Make eye contact, show them that you see them, that they're not alone on this crazy planet where we can often be made to feel like we are just next in line, or invisible among the crowd. I give you this challenge from Kenya.  

You'll transform the person you see....
And you'll transform yourself."

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