About: LoriEaton

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Witnessing Empowerment in Action

October 29, 2016 by LoriEaton

This summer, your support helped more than 100 women make commitments to Christ and to turn their lives away from illicit brewing!

Ephesians 4:28 (NIV)

Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.”

I sat quietly in the back as the County Police Commissioner addressed the 16 women graduating from ELI training, who had been illegally brewing chang’aa (translation: ‘kill me quick’). They were the first trainees from Baringo County, where the top three reported crimes are rape, defilement, and assault—all related to the brewing, selling, and drinking of homebrewed liquor. He appealed to the women to think of their mother’s love and to think of the future they are giving to their children. Paying school fees with money from selling liquor comes at too high a price if children sleep clothed and ready to run should the police come in the night.

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Training after training, I saw women making commitments to stop brewing and to trust God as they endeavored to make an honest living. What courageous faith for those living on the margins! I also heard testimonies from women who graduated from training a few years before, and they shared of improved relationships with their families, of strengthened faith, of restored dignity… and of course, of their new successful economic ventures!

Poverty is not just economic, but a physical, emotional, social, and spiritual burden. The ELI trainings allow families to be increasingly economically sustainable through the skills learned. Unsaddling their families from liquor brings increased physical and emotional health, and former graduates tell us how children are now in school and family communication improves. Socially and spiritually, graduates find encouragement and accountability with each other. As their lives are transformed, so are their communities as neighbors are also inspired to turn towards Christ.

At the end of the summer, leaders from a dozen past graduating groups gathered to be re-equipped to bring tools back to their communities. Empowerment is the incredible process of enabling communities to thrive. Thank you for being a stakeholder in this process and thank you for your faithfulness in supporting these women in Kenya!

Noreen Lue– Intern, Ilula Training Center

 

 

 

Experiencing Community

September 15, 2016 by LoriEaton

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We have the privilege of partnering with many wonderful people and churches here in the US.  Cornerstone Community Church has become part of our ELI community through their support and service.  Read some of their story as you consider your own role within our community.

This past July, we sent a team of five to visit Empowering Lives International, our global partner in Kenya.  We loved learning from, encouraging, and enjoying deep fellowship with the ELI community.

One of the days we traveled into the “high country” to join Dennis, the Ilula Training Center Manager, in a follow up meeting with seventeen ladies who had recently attended training in May. It was truly a highlight of the trip for us. The high country was as picturesque as the Alpine foothills. The rural remote villages were scattered with sheep and cattle grazing among the maize and tea crops. The village chief and some of his supporting staff welcomed us as we visited several homes of the former brewers. We were welcomed with glowing smiles and traditional chanting and dancing as we received warm but formal embraces.  They were chanting “embrace and love.”

I was impressed at just how quickly many of these women have made positive changes in their lives, and how proud they were to share their stories. One woman explained, that prior to the training she was so focused on brewing that she didn’t bother to bathe her children. But now they are well cared for and her home has expanded with the profits earned from her chips and food catering business. Another woman was proud of the increase and diversification of her small crops. Another, her “kukus” (chickens). But the common theme among them all was a beaming smile and a proud look in their eyes that said, “I am somebody. I have dignity. I am special. Look what I am doing with what I have learned.”

Nowhere have I seen the love of Christian community or the warmth of hospitality better demonstrated than by Kenyan believers. They beam the love of Christ, and reflect that warmth and humility to those around them. ELI has been such a tremendous blessing to partner with, and we enjoy being a part of God’s Kingdom-building in ways that uphold the dignity of the poor while teaching the love of Christ.

What a blessing it is to be a part of this global community who are truly empowering lives!

Andy Weigel
Global Missions Leader, Cornerstone Community Church

Do you want to partner with ELI by going on a trip to Kenya and experiencing firsthand the amazing work that is being done?  If so, click here for more information.

Equipping Lives in Kenya AND in the U.S.

July 22, 2016 by LoriEaton

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As you know, one thing we aim to do is equip the people of Kenya, young and old, with the knowledge and skills they need to change the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families. We see this happening daily in each of our programs through our Children’s Homes or our Training Centers. The change we see is what motivates us to keep moving forward each day.

But did you also know another huge motivation for us is when we see lives in the U.S. equipped and changed for God’s glory? We love to involve our families, friends, neighbors and churches to invest their gifts, talents and time in the work God is doing in Kenya.  As soon as someone says, “Yes” to the call, we work to equip them with the knowledge they need in order to serve in Kenya through a variety of resources and training. In my role as Short-Term Ministry Coordinator, I have the privilege of seeing this happen on a regular basis and I never tire of seeing lives changed—here at home and in Kenya—through this process.

This year alone, we will have over 60 people go to Kenya and God is using them in a variety of ways: from running a youth camp, making home visits to former brewers and offering encouragement, taking photographs and capturing stories, putting decorative touches in our dormitory, and so much more.  Each of these people have been called in a special way to serve God. When they willingly step out of their comfort zone to learn about what God is doing in the world, they come back with a new perspective on life and share this with those around them—a life equipped to make a difference.

Here is a glimpse at some of the lives that have been equipped and changed:

A team from Cornerstone Community Church in Wildomar meeting together and preparing for their trip to Kenya.  They are in Kenya as this is being published!

A team from Cornerstone Community Church in Wildomar meeting together and preparing for their trip to Kenya. They are in Kenya as this is being published!

Jayme is a student at APU who first went with a team in 2015. She spent this past year interning in our office in Upland and then went back to Kenya as an intern in May of 2016.

Jayme is a student at APU who first went with a team in 2015. She spent this past year interning in our office in Upland and then went back to Kenya as an intern in May of 2016.

Even the lives of our families are changed!  This is my dad Bill and my son Noah in Kenya last year.

Even the lives of our families are changed! This is my dad Bill and my son Noah in Kenya last year.

Will you be one of these lives? How are you answering God’s call? 

For more information about going to Kenya, you may visit our website or email lorieaton@empoweringlives.org.
Lori Eaton
Short-Term Ministry Coordinator

Honoring God in Kapsoo

March 31, 2016 by LoriEaton

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Because of your prayers and support, we at Empowering Lives witness communities as they experience complete transformation and learn to seek and honor God.

In January, 2015,  I sat with Pastor Boaz from the community of Kapsoo as he shared his struggles with me.  His church only had 17 regular attendees. His community had an 85% alcoholism rate, and the people were entrenched in tribal sacrifices and other harmful ways. Poverty was rampant, and there was little joy. However, Pastor Boaz had hope because knew that God was faithful. He was very thankful for the partnership with ELI which shares his passion for community development that honors God.

Over the course of a year, alongside Pastor Boaz, ELI staff attended community meetings and visited people in their homes. They developed a demonstration farm, and teams from the US encouraged and preached the gospel to both children and adults. Women alcohol brewers attended a week-long training to gain alternative ideas for business. Gradually, people began to see a way out of their poverty and hopelessness.

Then, just last week, I had the privilege of sitting with Pastor Boaz again. He shared his testimony of the past year.  He now has over 100 people attending church on a regular basis.  The number of women brewing alcohol has decreased.  Men are beginning to spend more time farming their land and earning money for their families instead of spending the day drinking alcohol.  The tribal sacrifices have ceased and have been replaced with prayers to God.

Pastor Boaz said, “The people in this community were once harsh towards God and towards me.  But thanks to the support of ELI and the prayers of many, the people are no longer harsh and lives are being changed.”Pastor Boaz with church member

Thank you for being an important part of our ministry as we equip people to live lives that honor God.  Your support and prayers are what make it possible for communities like Kapsoo to have hope and experience God’s life-changing power.

By Lori Eaton

Video Recap: 2015 APU Team

October 5, 2015 by LoriEaton

The following video was created by Azusa Pacific University student Rachel Mallasch (rmallasch13@apu.edu). She, with two other APU students, came and served alongside Empowering Lives International in Ilula and Kipkaren, Kenya at the beginning of the summer.

 

 

 

Visitor Reflections: Shayla Tonge

September 2, 2015 by LoriEaton

Tonge kids with youth-Blog size

The days were dwindling. I couldn’t accept that in my heart, I couldn’t allow myself to even think about leaving this haven. I thought back to our very first day when all the faces were unfamiliar, but I remember the moment with clarity as we stood before an assembly of 70 kids and staff, when Laban said with confidence, “Welcome home.” And truly, that is what it has become.

Not a single day passed when I did not encounter a moment where I felt truly full. That is the only word I can use to describe the emotion that flooded my heart when I spent time with these kids. Full of joy, compassion, adoration, gratitude and love. These kids have invited me into their lives with a wholeheartedness that astounds me. I will always cherish the moments I spent in the late afternoons on a concrete step with a little exuberant boy occupying my lap, four sweet girls braiding my “exciting” blonde hair and seven other kids climbing in the tree high above me while joyfully calling out my name. Or the times that we spent each evening, prompted by the 6 p.m. bell, praising God and reciting His word together, our voices rising in unity to the one true King. Or walking the youth down the red dirt path to “preps” (their study time) at school each evening, joking and giggling together, arm in arm. These simple moments of daily life are forever impressed on my heart.

I’m so grateful for the lifelong relationships formed but also for the encouragement of witnessing the beauty of what the ministry of ELI does. I have seen the poverty of this nation. I have seen barefoot children with protruding bellies peer longingly through the chain link school yard fence. I have seen makeshift one-room mud huts. I have seen eight-year-olds driving the family’s herd of cows, not being able to attend school. I have heard the stories of those my age who have lost parents in tragic ways or who feel abandoned but yet shrug and say, “That’s just the way life is.”

It is undeniable that the kids served by Empowering Lives have seen tragedy. They have, and it breaks my heart. But I am overjoyed by the utter hope they have because of this ministry. Each of these kids now has stability in their lives like they never had before. They now not only get their earthly needs met such as three meals a day, clean water, shelter and an education, but their spiritual needs are also being met. They are growing up in a home under two loving house parents who are instilling in them the Word of God. There is nothing more beautiful than rejoicing joyfully in a room full of these kids, knowing that if they weren’t here at this very moment, they would likely be very far from God. But instead I look into the faces of the young leaders leading worship with confidence and care, and my heart rejoices as the youngest of them, the three- and four-year-olds, dance and clap energetically for the Lord.

This is what redemption looks like. This is what love is. There is not a single fraction of doubt in my mind that God is holding each of these kids in the palm of His hand. I know that He has great big plans for each of them, and I am so excited to see them grow into the sons and daughters of Christ that they are.

Tonge Family Bye Bye-Blog size

Shayla in school-blog size

Shayla, who is 15, traveled to Kenya with her parents, Barry and Christy, and her 12-year-old brother, Trevor, earlier in 2015.

Dwell Team Reflections

April 16, 2014 by LoriEaton
Dwell Team with Form 1 girls

Dwell Team with Form 1 girls

Greeted by a bold chorus of children’s voices, the Dwell short term missionary team shed tears and beamed smiles as we arrived at ELI’s Children’s Home early this month. Kaitlin Murphy, Natalie Rodriguez, Olivia Chin and Stephanie Andrews made up this team from a San Diego, CA based church called Dwell. Since blessing and sending our dear friend Colleen Costigan to serve a yearlong internship with ELI last September, the Dwell team had been eagerly planning and anticipating the chance to join Colleen in Kenya. Although our stay was only one week, we were able to experience firsthand the great Kingdom work that God is doing through Colleen, to meet many of the friends and ministry partners that God has graciously provided for her, and to highlight our own gifts by facilitating a three day program to support the Children’s Home youth transitioning from primary to secondary school– a time of significant change for most Kenyan students.  (more…)

Mitch Kellogg Intern Reflections

April 9, 2014 by LoriEaton
Mitch with Baba Brian's Family

Mitch with Baba Brian’s Family

How do you summarize four months? So much happened! How do you capture lessons learned, growth, transformation, hardships, and experiences with people I love? Well, I’m going to try.

I was an intern for the Training Center at Empowering Lives International in Ilula, Kenya.

The task assigned to me was the Bee Hive Project. But besides building hives, I was building relationships. The only way I can describe this internship was a packaged gift from God–all of my interests, passions, dreams, and schooling in one.

Before beginning this adventure, a friend of mine suggested that I  write a letter to God. In reflecting on these prayers, during and afterward, I have seen God faithfully fulfilling these requests. In the Biggest and smallest ways, He showed up. How hard it is to truly “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:18-19a). There were three areas that I wanted to see God working in me: to Listen, to Learn, and to Serve.  (more…)

David Lee, Professional Volunteer

March 31, 2014 by LoriEaton
David with the SACDP students

David with the SACDP students

How do you explain something that you haven’t quite comprehended yet? How do you put into words something you can’t describe? How do you reflect on a place you’ve been to that is difficult to think about because you miss it?

A year in Kenya sounded like a long time before I left, but now that I’m back, it sure didn’t  feel very long. How often do you say to yourself, “Wow, where did the year go?” when New Year’s comes around? How often are you scrambling at the close of a year to think of some key moments that define the last 12 months that just flew by? Tell me, how easy is it for you? Well, that’s how I feel, and that’s the truth. (more…)

Julie Wright’s Intern Reflections

March 17, 2014 by LoriEaton

Julie Wright pic

 

My internship with Empowering Lives International impacted me in more ways than I ever thought imaginable. One thing that God really showed me was the magnitude of His perfect love. Before I left for Kenya I thought that I had been through enough trials to last me a lifetime. Time and time again God never left my side through it all. But when I arrived in Kenya, I was so incredibly shy, nervous, and way out of my comfort zone. As I sat with my Mama and Gogo, cutting vegetables on my first day in the village, I was pondering what had influenced me to jump on a plane by myself and spend three months in a foreign country where I knew not a single soul? Little did I know, God had so much to teach me in those two months.  (more…)

Elizabeth Robison’s Intern Reflections

March 5, 2014 by LoriEaton
Elizabeth Robison's Greeting in Kenya

Elizabeth Robison’s Greeting in Kenya

Rain, Seeds, and Obedience – Elizabeth Robison Reflections on Six Months as a Professional Volunteer in Kipkaren, Kenya

On April 6, 2013 I rode for the first time down muddy red dirt roads surrounded by freshly tilled soil, and was warmly welcomed into the Kipkaren Community.  I had been looking forward to this day for so long… I had raised support, shared the vision, and opened up my heart. I was incredibly blessed to be sent out by family, friends, and church body, and launched into the mission field in Kenya. I came with my heart open and my hands ready to work. I was ready to get my hands dirty… I was ready to SERVE.

I am a nurse practitioner. I love this role because it allows me to enter into another person’s story, and walk with them through periods of difficulty. It allows me to use my hands to help. It gives opportunity for me to open my heart and care. When God opened the door for me to go to Kenya with ELI following my nurse practitioner training, I was ecstatic.  It was easy to anticipate how all of my skills and training in the medical field would be useful in a place where access to healthcare was limited. I would be going where I was wanted and welcomed, but more importantly I would be going where I was needed. (more…)

Tori Greave’s Intern Reflections

February 24, 2014 by LoriEaton
Tori and Beatrice

Tori and Beatrice

Tori Greaves served as a a children’s home intern in Ilula for two months in 2013

When I first came to Africa five months ago with a study abroad program in Tanzania, I had my life all planned out. Well, not entirely, but I knew exactly what the next two years would hold. I would come back to America, find a paid internship for the summer, and jump back into school with new ideas and experiences that would help me then to figure out the rest of my future. But before I knew it, Africa began to surround me and to seep inside of me. Living in a place where people can hardly plan for tomorrow, let alone the next month or year, is a reminder that it is God who really does, or should control your life and future. It is then that I began to pray some dangerous prayers.

God, I want you to lead me. Teach me to follow, to surrender.” I still remember sitting out by the river near our campus offering up that prayer. I also remember the curious, but tentative email I sent out to Amy Rogers just to see if maybe, possibly (but probably not) God wanted me to stick around in Africa. Two weeks before I was supposed to board my plane flight to America, His answer was a clear and terrifying, “Yes!” (more…)

Networking in Turbo

February 12, 2014 by LoriEaton
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The people in the photo are Shadrack, Rebekah, Susan, Colleen, Ednah,
Collins and Stanley (child in front)

Connecting the Dots – by Cathy Lessig

For a few years Empowering Lives International has considered the village of Turbo an ‘outreach village’. This means the ministry has been taking slow but deliberate steps to reach out in hopes of bringing the light of Christ to those experiencing spiritual, physical or economic oppression. As our ministry team has spent more time in Turbo we’ve learned more and more about the power of networking. Standing alongside people living in poverty raises multiple, complex issues and it has become clear that one person, or one group can’t begin to minister to all of them.

Health care concerns, high rates of alcohol brewing, addiction and drunkenness, children out of school, lack of employment….hopelessness. (more…)

Melissa Uplinger’s Intern Reflections

February 10, 2014 by LoriEaton

Melissa Uplinger Picture

Melissa Uplinger served as an intern for 2 months in Kipkaren, Kenya, participating in medical missions.

I arrived in Kenya after spending a month in Tanzania and I was homesick, lonely and looking for someone to pity me. I was asking God what he was thinking when he told me I was supposed to quit my well-paying job, leave my friends and family, and go to Africa for 3 months. Then I smartened up and opened my Bible. What I found was Philippians 4:4-7. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)  (more…)

10,000 Steps… Honoring a Life While Changing Lives

November 27, 2013 by LoriEaton

Debbi 10,00 steps

 

Meet Debbi Hawney.  Debbi is an ELI alumna, having traveled to Kenya in both 2010 and 2012 as well as a great champion of the ministry.  Debbi’s love for God and her desire to see people worldwide come to know Him and be empowered is inspiring.  As she has faithfully followed God, through both the good times and the difficult, He has used her to impact many lives for His kingdom. (more…)

Professional Volunteer- Sarah Ackerly

July 29, 2013 by LoriEaton

sarah painting

be still

Written by Sarah Ackerly

Ecclesiastes 2:24

A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This, too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?

I count myself very fortunate to have experienced the truth of this verse during my time as volunteer with ELI. I was given the opportunity to use my artwork to create murals around the ELI campus in Ilula as well as in Kipkaren’s Brook of Faith Elementary School. Every day that I painted ended with a sense of real satisfaction, and I thanked God for bringing me to Kenya and allowing me to do work that makes my heart glad.

(more…)

Heaven Sent Manna

June 19, 2013 by LoriEaton

Maize Blog Post2

Written by Tori Greaves, Intern

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:25-26

I cannot count the number of times I have heard these verses, either in a sermon, as a word of encouragement, or as a challenge. But because of the way we live in America, it is a hard concept to grasp. We are always saving and planning. And thanks to things like retirement funds and insurance, we may never have to wonder how we will eat or where we will live; let alone what will we eat tomorrow. Instead, we have to be creative when applying this passage to our own lives, asking ourselves questions like, “Will I still have this job next year?”, “Should I go back to school?”, or “Will I be able to provide the right opportunities for my children?” But whatever the question, the command is still the same: trust in the Lord, for He is the one who provides and sustains. But to actually build up that trust within our hearts, perhaps we could use some help from those to whom God’s sustaining power has been made unmistakably clear.

A few weeks ago at the Ilula Children’s Home, the kitchen noticed that they were running low on corn flour which they use to make ugali—a staple food for all Kenyans. Because of the rising costs of school fees and food in Kenya, ELI staff has worked hard to save wherever possible to make ends meet financially. Since corn flour is universal, and also a huge business for companies here, it is a simple and acceptable way for fellow Kenyans to give to one another. For this reason, the Children’s Home solicits donations from churches and local businesses, allowing them to support the Children’s Homes and be part of what ELI is doing. This, alongside other initiatives like bread-making and tree-planting, are all part of an overall plan to help the Children’s Home become self-sustainable.

This time, however, the donations of corn flour had run out. (more…)

Delicious Bread in Ilula

June 22, 2012 by LoriEaton

Croissants in the making

Recently the team from APU helped to construct a brick oven for baking bread and thanks to God’s incredible timing and sending Wynn Horton, a summer intern, the staff and children are enjoying all kinds of bread.  When Wynn arrived in Ilula, he was thrilled to discover the brick oven since he has more than two years experience working in a bakery.  Wynn has been working hard to create a “bakery” near the oven and has been teaching the mothers and older children  how to bake a variety of goods.  Here are a few of the delicious treats they have baked and sampled: (more…)

ELI at the Eldoret National Agricultural Show

March 21, 2012 by LoriEaton

Last week, Empowering Lives Kenya attended the 2012 Eldoret National Agriculture Show.  This is the premiere agricultural exhibition in the Eldoret area.  ELI seized the opportunity to show the community what our organization has to offer.  All the staff worked very hard to prepare for the show.  We set up and decorated the tent, built eye-catching displays, painted posters, created a drip irrigation demonstration plot, brought in tree seedlings for sale, put together an informative brochure, and produced drip irrigation kits to sell.  The star of the show was drip irrigation.  Many farmers are thirsty for drip irrigation materials that can water their plants year-round easily and effectively.  The Kenya anti-alcohol staff also brought a poster which read “alcohol can destroy your crops” that created a lot of discussion! (more…)