Help for Kenyan Girls facing FGM and FEM

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For more than half a century I’ve known Flora and Ray Tacquard. They live in Spring, Texas, a northwest Houston suburb. Ray and Flora are faithful members of Trinity Klein Lutheran Church in Spring, which has been involved for over a decade in ministry among the people of Kenya.

Kenyan Schools of Hope (KSH) is an organization that provides ministry to children from the Maasai tribe, who live in the African countries of Kenya and Tanzania. Ray chairs the KSH Board of Directors and Flora is Rescued Girls Coordinator. Here’s what they say about KSH:

Kenyan Schools of Hope believes all children should have a place to feel safe, be loved, and have the opportunity to reach their potential. We base our efforts on the great commandment “love your neighbor as yourself” to fulfill the great commission “go and make disciples.”

Though prohibited by law, it is estimated that 70% of young girls from the Maasai tribe in Kenya still undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Forced Early Marriage (FEM).   

Normally “cutting” is done under secrecy to girls 5-17 years of age in unhygienic conditions using crude instruments. Sterilization and anesthesia are seldomly used. The results of this brutality are obvious. Sometimes even death occurs. Following FGM, FEM is immediate, no matter the age of the girl. 

With no choice of when or whom she marries, young girls are sold for a dowry of cows or goats, often to an older man as his third or fourth wife. The possibility of attending school ends forever.

After offering free vision clinics among the Maasai people of Kenya for over ten years, we were approached by two Chiefs and other Kenyan leaders to build a rescue center for these vulnerable girls. The dormitory/hostel is presently housing 21 girls with more expected to be welcomed soon. The classrooms will be completed in March (that’s this month), and the school is currently open with 29 students in temporary accommodations.   

As part of the education offered at Kenyan Schools of Hope, the saving love of Jesus is paramount. In fact, the Board of Directors in Kenya named the school Osiligi Lutheran School.  Osiligi means “hope” in the language of the Maasai.

Partners in this significant mission outreach are welcome. Whether individual, church, business, or organization, the opportunity is there for you to help change the life of a girl forever.

Donations may be made at kenyanschoolsofhope.org or checks may be mailed to Kenyan Schools of Hope, 5201 Spring Cypress Rd., Spring, TX 77379. For more information, send an email to hope4kenyangirls@att.net. We pray God will touch your heart to support Kenyan Schools of Hope, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.

I encourage you to add your support, as the Spirit of God moves you.

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Celebrating Victory in Christ

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Many of you recall that my dear mother went to heaven January 10, just over two months ago. All three of my siblings and spouses, along with their children and grandchildren, spent time, money, and energy caring for our Mom, especially during her last few years on this earth. My sister Carol, whose birthday is today, was the anchor. She lives closest to Mother’s assisted living residence and with rare exception spent at least five days a week caring for her.

A couple months prior to Mom’s passing, Terry and I, with Carol also present, paid a special visit. We surmised Mom’s passing was imminent and wanted to be sure that her memorial service would be conducted according to her wishes. So I asked a few questions about her funeral service preferences, using as a guide a form I had helped prepare a couple years ago. She was glad I asked.

Legacy Deo, formerly Lutheran Foundation of Texas, is pleased to offer to you a copy of that same document — Celebrating Victory in Christ Funeral Planning Guide.

There is no charge for an electronic copy of this valuable tool designed to assist people in planning their memorial service and other important end of life details. Topics include:

  • Introduction
  • Personal and Family Reference Information
    • Your Information
    • Your Immediate Family Information
    • Person(s) to Make Arrangements
  • Planning for Your Celebration of Life Service
    • Type of Service
    • Facility Handling Arrangements
    • Pastor(s) to Officiate at Service
    • Music Selections
    • Scripture Readings
    • Pall Bearer Contact Information
    • Colors, Flower Selections
    • Military Honors
    • People to Notify of Your Passing
    • Meal or Reception in Connection with Service
    • Other Details of Your Service
    • Memorials
    • Significant Dates in Your Life
    • Photographs and/or Videos for Remembrance Service
    • Burial Location
    • Details of Burial
    • Burial Marker
    • Selection of Coffin if Desired
    • Obituary Preparation
  • Location of Legal Documents and Information
    • Last Will and Testament
    • Trust Documents
    • Organ Donation Designation
    • Life Insurance Policies
    • Other Documents
  • Leaving Your Legacy
    • Christian Preamble for Your Last Will and Testament
    • Family Blessing or Remembrance
    • Gift Legacy
  • Appendix
    • Suggested Hymns and Other Musical Selections
    • Suggested Scripture Readings

For your free copy, call 1-800-880-3733 or 1-512-646-4909 or contact info@legacydeo.org. If you use this guide for planning your own memorial service, your family will be spared the difficulty of making these decisions for you without your input, at a time of sorrow and grief.

Do it now, while it’s on your mind. Provide a copy of your completed form to someone in your family and also to your pastor. You and they will be blessed as a result.

Seven Old Age Adages and One Piece of Advice

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This week is the celebration of the 55th anniversary of my graduation from Texas A&M University, known during my days there as A&M College of Texas. Thinking about all my aging classmates leads me to share with you these old age adages. Read, smile, and enjoy.

  1. A reporter interviewing a 104-year-old woman asked: “And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?” She simply replied, “No peer pressure.”
  2. A senior citizen feeling his age said: “I have outlived my feet and my teeth. I’ve had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement, new knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes. I’m half blind and can’t hear anything quieter than a jet engine. I take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts. I have bouts with dementia. I have poor circulation and can hardly feel my hands and feet anymore. I can’t remember if I’m 85 or 92 and have lost all my friends. But, thank God, I still have my driver’s license.”
  3. Another senior said: “I feel like my body has gotten totally out of shape. So I got my doctor’s permission to join a fitness club and start exercising. I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But by the time I got my leotards on, the class was over.
  4. An elderly woman decided to prepare for her funeral and told her preacher she had two final requests. First, she wanted to be cremated. Second, she wanted her ashes scattered at Wal-Mart. The preacher asked, “Why Wal-Mart?” The lady said, “That way I’ll be sure my daughters visit me at least twice a week.”
  5. Know how to prevent sagging? Just eat till the wrinkles fill out.
  6. It’s scary when you start making the same noises as your coffee maker.
  7. A senility prayer: “God, grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

My serious and sincere advice: While you’re still of sound mind, be sure to take care of the responsibility and privilege of planning your estate. Provide for your family and your favorite charitable causes. We at Legacy Deo would be honored to help.

Zingers – Part 2

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Here’s a continuation of last week’s sharing of a few brief “Zingers” for your reading enjoyment:

  • Actress: “I enjoyed reading your book. Who wrote it for you?” Author Ilka Chase: “Darling I’m so glad that you liked it. Who read it to you?”
  • Dorothy Parker: “Mr. Coolidge, I’ve made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you.” President Calvin Coolidge: “You lose.”
  • New York Mayor Ed Koch versus Andrew Kirtzman: “I can explain this to you but I can’t comprehend it for you.”
  • Frank Sinatra on Robert Redford: “Well at least he has found his true love. What a pity he can’t marry himself.”
  • Senator Fritz Hollings when challenged by his Republican opponent Henry McMastor: “I’ll take a drug test if you’ll take an IQ test.”
  • Reporter: “What do you think of western civilization?” Mahatma Gandhi: “I think it would be a good idea.”
  • Member of British Parliament: “Mr. Churchill, must you fall asleep while I’m speaking?” Winston Churchill: “No. It’s purely voluntary.”
  • Lady Nancy Astor: “Winston, if you were my husband, I’d put poison in your coffee.” Winston Churchill: “Nancy, if you were my wife I would drink it.”

Zingers – Part 1

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Just for a little change of pace, this week and next I’ll share a few brief “Zingers” for your reading enjoyment. Feel free to make your own spiritual application, if any:

  • Abraham Lincoln after he had been called two faced: “If I had two faces, do you think I’d be wearing this one?”
  • Mark Twain: “I’ve never killed a man, but I’ve read many an obituary with a great deal of satisfaction.”
  • Reporter: “How many people work at the Vatican?” Pope John XXIII: “About half.”
  • Edward Everett Hale when asked if he prayed for the senators: “No. I look at the senators and pray for the country.”
  • Benchley: “My good man, would you please get me a taxi?” Uniformed man: “I’m not a doorman. I happen to be a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy.” Benchley: “All right then, get me a battleship.”
  • Opera audience member: “What do you think of the singer’s execution?” Calvin Coolidge: “I’m all for it.”
  • Playwright Noel Coward: “Edna, you almost look like a man.” Novelist Edna Ferber: “So do you.”
  • Henry Clay: “I would rather be right than be president.” Thomas Reed: “The gentleman need not trouble himself. He’ll never be either.”
  • Bessie Braddock: “Winston, you are drunk, and what’s more, you are disgustingly drunk.” Winston Churchill: “Betsy, my dear, you are ugly. And what’s more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly.”

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!

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At my mother’s memorial service last month I was invited to share a few reflections. One story I told described the time she washed my mouth out with soap. I can still taste that nasty soap! I was probably nine or ten years old and she had heard me say a bad word. I learned my lesson and never again said that word … at least not in her presence.

The last sentence in the paragraph above illustrates another life lesson I learned—always to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In that sentence I could have said only “I learned my lesson and never again said that word.” But that would not have been totally truthful. The real truth is in the words “… at least not in her presence.”

It was through a stern warning of my dear father that I learned that lesson about telling the truth. Daddy was bigger and stronger than I. So I chose not to test the sincerity of his warning because I had no desire to taste the punishment I’d likely receive if I ignored it.

Accordingly, when it was time to fess up regarding matters of importance about which my father was inquiring, I told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It worked. He never had to make me taste his recipe for corporal punishment.

Perhaps that’s why I become so aggravated today with those who don’t adhere to that principle about truth. I see and hear partial truths or half-truths in the lives and words of public figures in the political, secular, and even ecclesiastical worlds.

All too often I’ll hear something said that I know is not completely truthful. It may contain a grain of truth. But if it leaves out critical parts of the story, it falls woefully short of actually being the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

To add insult to injury, when caught, some with that propensity will offer an apology to “anyone who was offended.” But when the apology itself also includes half-truths or omits salient portions of the real truth, disdain and disrespect are further fueled.

That’s particularly true when those who hear the apology don’t know the rest of the story and treat the culprit as a hero, thanking him for his apology, applauding him for his humble spirit. It’s frustrating to see uninformed people misled by someone in a position of trust and authority.

“The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” Prov. 12:22

I love the Old Irish Blessing: “May those who love us, love us; and those who don’t, may God turn their hearts; and if He doesn’t turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles so we’ll know them by their limping!” The same blessing applies to those who don’t tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! Beware of twisted ankles! And Happy Valentine’s Day!

Donald J. Trump

Donald John Trump is the 45th President of the United States of America. As is true of most leaders, he is loved by some and hated by others. Frankly, there are times when my respect for the office enables me to live with some of his most unattractive personal and political attributes.

For example, I dislike the use of derogatory rhetoric to criticize opponents. Is it really necessary to use terms like “Crooked Hillary” (Clinton) or “Lyin’ Ted” (Cruz) or “Crazy Joe” (Biden)? Others like “Pocahontas” (Elizabeth Warren) or “Little Marco” (Rubio) or “Little Rocket Man” (Kim Jong Un) or “Low Energy Jeb” (Bush) are perhaps not quite as egregious. But necessary? Or helpful?

There are also certain narcissistic characteristics manifested in President Trump’s verbal and non-verbal actions that are unbecoming a man who occupies the highest office in the land. Narcissism is “the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s idealized self-image and attributes.” The term originated from Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. It describes someone who thinks of himself more highly than he ought. Egotistical is another descriptive term.

Other points of disagreement and dislike could be added, but these are sufficient for now.

On the other side of the coin, there have been many positive accomplishments during President Trump’s first two years in office. Surf the Internet and you’ll find long lists of such achievements. One such list identifies 289 accomplishments in 18 categories, including economic growth, jobs, business expansion, deregulation, tax cuts, health care, law and order, border security, international trade, energy, foreign policy, defense, veterans’ affairs, etc. Those achievements are obviously arguable.

In Tuesday night’s State of the Union address President Trump addressed a litany of issues, both foreign and domestic. For me and for many, one of the highlights of the one hour, 21 minute speech, interrupted by a reported tally of 102 standing ovations (mostly Republicans), was his emphasis on the sanctity of life. Here are his most pertinent and powerful statements on that topic:

  • “Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world.”
  • “To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.”
  • “Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life, and let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: All children, born and unborn, are made in the holy image of God.”

Whether you’re one who loves President Trump or has the opposite feeling, I hope you join me in thankfulness for the positive statements he made about life to a national and global audience.