This is Jennifer.
Jennifer is a friend of ours. We went to church with her before she moved to Nairobi, Kenya to become a missionary. While finishing her master’s in workplace chaplaincy, Jennifer spends her free time volunteering as a chaplain at Kenyatta National Hospital, the largest government hospital in Kenya.
Inspired by her experiences in working with the sick and dying, Jennifer started a ministry called “Project Agape Love” to improve the life of patients at the hospital. Think Mother Theresa, but in Kenya and with stuffed animals. Jennifer takes donations of things like toiletries and toys for sick kids. She uses music, singing, and dancing to “bring joy and entertainment to the patients.” She also works to build relationships between patients, inspiring them to support each other through their suffering. And Jenifer has future plans to start a support group for parents with terminally ill children & a patient choir.
In short, Jennifer is awesome.
The same day we put the word out that we were searching for Tangawizi, Jennifer emailed us and volunteered to be our courier:
When I first heard of Lincoln’s desire to help a little boy on the other side of the world whom he had never met, I was both inspired and intrigued. I immediately had the desire to help him in any way I could. I knew I could offer some insight as to the best way for Tangawizi to receive a bed, and I also had some friends here who knew the general area of the Mara pretty well, so I thought I’d give it a shot. God is the one who is in charge of this expedition; I’m just along for the ride!
We were stoked to have someone we knew and trusted that was so close to Tangawizi. Then, less than 24 hours later, “Gloria” posted on the blog:
I think that it is awesome that you are wanting to get Tangawizi a bed. Do not give up! I live in Nairobi Kenya and I will help you in any way that I can. If God has put Tangawizi on your sons heart then that is who should get the bed and that is the one that will get the message of such great love from a little boy and his family so far away…
It turns out Jennifer and Gloria are best friends. The two share a similar compassion for hurting people, and a love for Africa. Gloria has actually been to the Mara (where Tangawizi lives) and has a friend who is a tracker in the area. After a few excited emails and some talk about logistics, we were pumped to have a couple willing couriers, and a new friend in Gloria.
Ever since she was a little girl, Gloria dreamed of being a missionary in Africa. Four years ago, she moved to the Kayole/Sowetto slums. Gloria now travels among the slums and the jungle to find and rescue orphaned and abandoned little girls. Most of these girls, Gloria says, are “unwanted” because of their behaviors or severe medical issues. Some of them have even been used in the practice of witchcraft. Gloria brings the unwanted girls into her home to give them love, guidance, and medical attention. Gloria gives the girls a family. Gloria, it turns out, is also awesome.
Despite having two willing couriers, we’ve almost given up hope that we’ll ever find Tangawizi, who apparently lives “in the middle of nowhere.” Through email, the Italian photographer who took the photo of Tangawizi has been kind and patient with my strange questions. He shared that he rented a car in northern Tanzania and drove around for a month in Africa, staying in hostels and cheap hotels. Somewhere in the Seregheti, he found a local tour guide who showed him some of the native villages where Tangawizi lives.
We’ve been pretty close to calling it quits on the Tangawizi search, talking to Lincoln, and donating the money to a great African charity that will buy some Kenyan kids some beds. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t thought, “This is all really silly…this is taking way longer than I thought…this was a dumb promise I made…we’re never going to find this kid.” Thankfully, Jennifer and Gloria have bigger hearts and more faith than I do. I told them it was doubtful they could find Tangawizi based on the info we have of him and the vastness of places he could be. Jennifer emailed back:
I’d like to urge you not to get discouraged. I know the information you’re discovering be a little disheartening, but keep the faith, brother. It’s not, by far, the first incident for me where something seemed insurmountable, but God found a way. He always finds a way….I fully believe that God would not have put the desire in Lincoln’s beautiful little heart nor the idea in his head if He did not intend for us… to carry it out together. Yes, the Mara has many people. The Massai are one of the biggest tribes in Kenya. However, God is bigger. God loves Lincoln and all of us. Whatever the outcome, it will be in all of our best interest because it is in God’s hands.
It’s an honor to have these two women volunteer their time, prayers, and encouragement to my family’s silly little project. It’s no overstatement to say that Jennifer and Gloria are heroes to me and Melissa. They are incredible people who embrace the call of Jesus to take care of the sick and poor.
Right now we’re working out the details of Jennifer and Gloria’s trip. In fact, Jennofer emailed me today to tell me they were meeting this evening to make definite plans. They hope to travel some time during April, and spend about three days searching for Tangawizi. I will write another update with the details of their trip as soon as we work those worked out. Stay tuned!
Once again, THANK YOU to everyone who has donated, prayed, & spread the word. More than once now, Lincoln has come home from church with check and bills stuffed in his pockets. To date, he’s raised $823.84! More than enough to pay for the bed, plus Jennifer and Gloria’s travels. Once Jennifer and Gloria find him, we hope to use the extra funds to support and sustain Tangawizi’s community on a more long-term basis. If you’d like to get involved with the story, you can do one of a few things: (1) Sign up for updates via email in the field to the right; (2) Donate via PayPal and help build a better community for Tangawizi and his family; (3) Spread the word via email, social media, and good ol’ fashioned word of mouth. (4) Pray: this entire story started with a little prayer, and I’m convinced that we’ve yet to see the end of God’s story here. It’s been exciting to see it unfold. I’m staying tuned as much or more than anyone else. I’m excited to see God show His hand, so to speak.