Forgotten Voices' Mission:

"Demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities."

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Internet is nice, but face to face is better

Friends, After traveling for a week, I have finally made it back to a computer. So far, I've been limited to text messages from the ground here in Zambia and Zimabwe (with a day in South Africa). In many ways, that's funny to even type. Limited to text messages. If you could see where I've been, you'd laugh too at the craziness of this above sentence. I beat a Toyota Corolla station wagon into submission driving through many small ponds and through the roughest roads you can imagine. But God has been faithful.
I have so much to write and update you all on, as I've promised more meat in my text messages. Now that the time has come, I feel anything I write is inadequate to fully explain how God has protected me thus far.
Our God is a great big God that loves us each so deeply.
I need to share this with you before the internet faides on me. Therre is much to be done, but there is a lot going well in Zambia. The church there is alive and well. It was amazing to see so many great leaders anxiously pouring out themselves for the sake of others in their community. With 1 million orphans in the country of 10 million, there is much to do. Bu, it was inspiring to talk to pastors in the most remote areas of the world... working hard for God's glory.
Let me also say this before I go. I'm thankful for each of you. As I escorted a police officer yesterday for 2 hours since many police stations don't have cars in Africa, we drove by chickens and monkeys and turtles and people carrying the strangest things. We discussed life in Zambia and his struggles personally and professionally. We covered a lot of ground in our talk. He taught me a lot. It was funny to rumble down the "paved" roads from Zimba to Livingstone and realize this is my life. This is actually my life.
After meeting with leaders of the AIDS program in Zambia, I'm confident we can work out a partnership to assist orphans throughout the country. I"m praying for partners like yourselves to join Forgotten Voices in this endeavor.
I can't tell you how much pain I've seen since I've been here, but I really to need to emphasize how hopeful I am that something can be done in Zambia.
Pray for Zimbabwe. Things here are as bad as I've ever seen them, worse than I have ever imagined. Morale is low throughout and people have this quiet persistence, but a hopeless spirit in a way. Its hard to explain. But they still smile when you wave and welcome you warmly when you come for a visit. It's part of their makeup that will never go away, no matter the economic state.
I ramble on...
Last thing... never ever forget God's love for you, for me, and the orpahns of Africa. He sees each of us and knows our hearts desire. Let us never forget, the midst of our busy lives, to praise God and give thanks in all things. The people of Zambia reminded me of that in their way of life and Zimbabweans are showing me that again.
Our God loves you very much. Thanks for loving me and reading my ramblings.
Now, I gotta leave the pest control business that is graciously allowing me to use their computer. in Africa. Will write more tomorrow at about 4am your time.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Will write more Wedn. w/internet for 1st time. Sorry 4 texts. I want to give u meat on trip. Pray on. Things in Zim are awful

Brought to you by, Cingular Wireless Messaging

Greetings from Zimbabwe. Here after 9 hrs of driving. Highs: monkeys, turtle, escorting cop for 2 hrs, & stopped for speeding.

Brought to you by, Cingular Wireless Messaging

Pray for a good mtg today at 8am local, 1am EST w/ the head of the AIDS program to discuss a partnership w/ BICC Zambia. Luv2U

Brought to you by, Cingular Wireless Messaging

I just ran through heavy rains after attending 630 chapel at the local seconday school.1,000 young minds learning about God.

Brought to you by, Cingular Wireless Messaging

Monday, January 29, 2007

I can't sleep. My day starts in 5 hrs. 10,000 orphans to school is the goal keeping me awake. Join me? By God's grace, we can.

Brought to you by, Cingular Wireless Messaging

I just walked by a woman working her garden sending a text msg on her mobile. Cell towers came in Nov & have been a blessing.

Brought to you by, Cingular Wireless Messaging

After 5 hrs of mtg w/ BICC Zambia folks, I have a good grasp of AIDS work here. Please join me in praising God for this work.

Brought to you by, Cingular Wireless Messaging

Sun, I visited people in homes to understand local issues. A 66 year old man I met along my walk was my tour guide for 2 hrs.

Brought to you by, Cingular Wireless Messaging

Greetings from Bishops office in Choma, Zambia. I woke @ 530 & set off at 6 for here. Mtg w/ head of AIDS program 4 day or 2.

Brought to you by, Cingular Wireless Messaging

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Greetings from Macha Hospital. Found my way through rain and bad rural roads. Will write more later. Sorry so short. Pray on.

Brought to you by, Cingular Wireless Messaging

Friday, January 26, 2007

Borders, SAA lounge, and Uncertain Travel

Greetings again. I write to you from the SAA lounge for frequent travelers. My first time taking advantage of this service. Let me tell you, I'll always stop in now that I know what is in this place. AWESOME!
Anyway, I'm writing to ask for prayer for the next 2 days. I'm flying into Livingstone in just 2 hours. I should be there around 6:30am EST, or 12:30pm local time. I'll be met by a local couple, Emma and Richard (who I don't know). They'll drive me to the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, where I'll hopefully be able to acquire my vehicle that is waiting on the ZImbabwe side. Lord willing it won't be a hassle. I'll need to secure insurance, go to the bank, and then find my lodge (Maramba River Lodge if you wanna Google it). If there is time, I'd love to see Victoria Falls from the Zambian side. I've seen them from the Zimbabwean side 3 times already and will be back at the end of August before heading back to the states.
There are a lot of missing pieces to the next couple days, but that's what makes this so fun.
Oh - for my avid readers. The group of young adults were mostly peace corps people setting off for their african and asian assignments. They've been at Georgetown University getting some briefing and now will be in Johannesburg for a couple months before setting off for their 2 year stints. It was fun to listen to them talk to others.

Favorite travelers so far: 12 people going to Malawai to learn about what World Vision is doing there. Their church in NC is exploring getting involved. They were special to me for 2 reasons: 1) they were setting out just like our group of 12 did in July 2004; 2) They were genuinely interested in pursuing the best path forward. They sat all around me on the flight, so it was fun to learn what they were thinking and discuss the state of churches in the states working with Africa. They taught me soooo much and I just loved listening to their hearts.
OK - I gotta go and finish my breakfast. Oh - for those interested in health - small common cold from the adjustment of temperature and lack of sleep. But, feeling really good. Should be back to par by tomorrow. OJ with lots of pulp, my vitamins, and medicine are already kicking this thing.

Bye for now -Ryan

Off to Zambia

I'm off to Zambia just now. I was woken up at 6am by a house full of children. staying with some friends in johannesburg. i'm ready for the next chapter.
hope you are all well. hope to write more. i've met so many amazing people already.
pray on. -Ryan

Thursday, January 25, 2007

AMENDED: 80 degrees today and windows open as I am in bed

AMENDED: The first run was sent by text messaging, which didn't come out properly. My apologies.

Greetings from the home of the Lockwoods in Johannesburg, South Africa. Steve works for SIM and his wife runs the world. They have 4 amazingly dynamic kids. We also have the Jones family staying here, with their 2 kids. Craig and Mel work at TCZ in Bulawayo, so it was fun to see them, as we've never met but I've heard a lot about them.

The flight was fine. Lots of room and plenty of sleep (about 6 hrs in 1.5 hr chunks). I watched 1 movie and did a lot of writing in preparation for the trip. Met some really interesting folks from all over the world.

Already, I've had the most interesting conversations. I look forward to writing more about later.

Above all, the state of Southern Africa is grim. I can hear it in the tone of the people all around me. Just got a quick overview on Zimbabwe from my hosts and the Jones family. Pray on, my friends. As I read excerpts of Bush's Tuesday night address, I again so clealrly just how fortunate I am to live in the USA. We have problems, my friends, but you ain't seen nothing yet.

I am about begin a journey of hope though, as FVI about what is possible, not what is probable. I am convinced more than ever that there is a critically important role for the American church. But we must act wisely, a little more African, and with more praise of our God. Our best for God's glory.

Gotta sleep. Kids will rise by 5:30am. Love to you all. Thanks for reading.

Bye for now. Cheers!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Exit row, a clip and some really happy 20 year olds

Today is the day. I am writing to you shortly before I board the plane
in DC, just a 15 hr 10 min flight to Africa. I am deeply excited about
going and sad to leave my new fiancee. As much as I love the work of
FVI, you all should know that I LOVE Katie. She is a gift from God for
her encouragement that I go and partner with those doing such good
work in Southern Africa.

I have an exit row. Just upgraded. you may laugh, but that's a really
big deal. I am thankful.

The only thing I forgot was a small clip for my ipod, which is good
for me.. I started to pack at 1030 today. It's been busy.

I just sat among a group of 8 20 year olds, going to Africa. their joy
for the adventure made me smile. I don't know what they are doing yet,
but good thing I have some time to find out.

Boarding is about to begin. Pray on friends. It will be a wild
adventure. Glad to have you along with me.

Day 1: Full of anticipation and reciting psalm 139 in my head. pray on.

Note from Ryan Keith
Forgotten Voices International

Office: 717.506.0633
Cell: 717.649.0667


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Passports, Long Walks, and African Life in Philly

Today, I reluctantly began my first adventure related to my upcoming trip to Africa. It may not sound like much, but I traveled 2 hrs by train to Philadelphia's US Passport Office to get some Visa pages added because I was almost denied admission into South Africa last time. Technically, I was "out" of space even though the stamps cross over quite a few empty boxes. But I was advised to get this done so there weren't problems. After all, I am leaving in a few days to go to 3 countries. Using my head, I thought it best to go and get this small point addressed before my Wednesday flight. :)

After arriving in Philly by train nearly 1.5 hrs before my noon appointment, I decided to walk to 2300 Chestnut Street. The home of the US Passport Office - Philadephia. It's only a few blocks from Philly's famous 30th Street Station where I had arrived. 3 blocks to go and almost 90 minutes until my appointment.

After having a fairly lengthy...albeit interesting...conversation with a parking ticket officer (me listening/him ranting) about the demise of service with the rise of technology required for his job, I proceeded across the bridge and into the heart of Philly...the City of Brotherly Love. As I walked away from him, the officer yelled... "I'm going to invent a scan system on license plates and I'll show those techies that make me use these things." To which I smiled, then yelled "that's a good idea" and thought to myself "actually that is a good idea." My first "African" journey was starting off well... slow, non-deliberate, unexpected topics of conversation and interesting people.

When I arrived at 2300 Chestnut Street, I discovered that there wasn't a building with this address. Clearly, I had it wrong. Through the use of that new centerpiece of technology in my life, known as my Treo, I quickly discovered that the actual address was 200 Chestnut Street...over 21 city blocks away from where I currently stood. Now less than 1 hr to go and a city to cross.

Sure I should've taken the subway and saved myself the hassle, but I was preparing for Africa. That slow, soothing, aggravating, conversational pace of life that lulls you into reflection on the subtleties of life. Walking would be good for me. All the way across the city, right through Indedepence Hall and the origins of freedom in America. Zimbabweans long for justice and freedom, so I was finding this all rather entertaining.

45 minutes until my appointment, 21 blocks to go. Dunkin Donuts was there so I had to stop. I love doughnuts. My first stop every time I come back from Africa, if I can help it. A boston creame and glazed are the regulars. The checkout guy was a Yankees Fan. We chatted it up for a few minutes and I listened to him heckle me about this and that and this extra charge for Sox fans and that extra discount for Yankees fans. I smiled, paid, thanked him and was on my way. 39 minutes and 20 blocks to go.

At this point, I realized that I had to hustle. I passed a few homeless people while I enjoyed my donuts and thought about my friends in Africa that wouldn't know what to do with this scence. Me with my donuts and homeless people. Me walking in between stores wooing me in to buy things that I didn't need, radio stations giving out free stuff just for walking by and huge drugstores across the street from each other offering LOW LOW prices on drugs they need in Africa, but can't get. 12th and Chestnut. 10 blocks to go and 15 min.

After passing about 5 more Dunkin Donuts and ignoring (hey...I was in a rush) many more homeless people suffering from 25 degree cold and gusty winds blowing in between tall city buildings, I arrived at my location, 200 Chestnut, a few minutes before noon.

They dutifully screened me at the door and made me go through a few times because I'd forget my change and then watch and then belt and then wallet and then change again (but they let me go after realizing I was not too bright). As if I never travel. My mind was distracted by the contrasts of the place. Powerful, marble building and powerful guards with guns guarding the door... and confused, vulnerable people piling in waiting for instructions on how to navigate the federal passport regulations that were seemingly changing with every international scare or change in color on a chart of terror that I still don't understand.

I must say, though... I was genuinely impressed. My noon appointment was promptly adhered to on their end. My number was called. A mere $60 dollar fee, a signature and 10 minutes later, I was on my way to waiting 2.5 hrs until 2:30pm for my passport to have about 20 pages added.

Seriously... I'm VERY impressed. I didn't have to wait in the building, but could go around and visit and talk and watch the people outside in this city of love. And I loved it. I wandered around. Saw a 20 min movie staring our founding fathers and saw some sites. What a country I live in. What a country.

A good friend of mine lives in Philly and met him for a bit and then we picked up my passport right on the dot...2:30pm. Ready, as promised. The US government delivered for me. I was impressed with the ease of the whole thing, given all the complications world-wide with passports. Genuinely impressed. Did I say that? what a country I live in! Amazing!

During the long walk back to the train station with my friend walking his bike by my side, we talked about a lot of things and came across quite a few interesting people. We discussed his calling in life, his love for Bosnia, and his love for orphans in the world. We discussed cameras and politics...and women, of course. We tried to go ice skating, but it was closed during the day even though it was as cold as it has been all winter. We took pictures of beautiful, soft, innocent pigeons plotting to take over our food supply, with the gentle pictures ironically accented by battleships floating peacefully in the background along the waterfront.

I came early this morning, rushing for some extra pages in my passport. Too busy to be bothered for the trouble. Along the way, I was reminded of just how amazing our country is in so many ways. Amazing how people function and thrive and entertain and provide joy if we allow them to. And I was reminded of just how amazing our creator is and how much he wants us to enjoy the little things...even if we have to take a long way to get there.

I'm more ready for Africa than I was yesterday morning. For that, I'm thankful and I thought I should share.

Blessings to you as you walk the long walks of life and live like an African. Soak it up, my friends. Relationships are all around you.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I am nervous!

I'm nervous and need prayer. It hit me like a ton of bricks tonight that in 1 weeks time I'll be on an airplane, traveling to a country that I've never visited before to see some projects that I still know very little about. God will have to be the only option for this trip's success.

The Bible says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer & petition, present your requests to God and let the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guide your heart and mind in Christ Jesus." This verse is written out for me on a map of Zimbabwe. The team I led in August 2006 gave it to me. One one side of the map is a picture of me holding a 9 year old boy named Peterson. On the other is the logo of Forgotten Voices International.

As you read this, take a moment and truly reach out and pray for my travels to Zambia and Zimbabwe. Pray that God comforts my heart and provides direction for my steps. There are so many uncertainties to traveling in Africa and I am going by myself for the first week. God will provide and I look forward to watching him unfold His journey for me.

Your nervous traveler requesting prayer,

1st prayer requests for next trip

Praises to God:
1) BICC Zambia - Potential meeting with the Bishop
2) Macha Hospital - willingness to let me come and stay with head doctor
3) Zambia - stable country that should help me get around alone
4) The chance to go and see God's work... the opportunity to join Him.
5) For the funds that have come in for NRCC so far!
6) That my father, Denis, is coming...and 3 other amazing people I'm excited to get to know better.

Prayer Requests:
1) Plans still very shaky for Zambia/Zimbabwe
2) Transportation availability/costs/fuel from Zambia to Bulawayo 100% in the dark still
3) Fundraising for NRCC team
4) Rains need to continue to fall in region...short over last year's rains
5) School fees continue to rise at rate higher than people can afford...pray for wisdom for myself and church leaders as we decide how to proceed
6) Preparation for meetings between FVI and partners (meetings on leadership, farming expansion, gardening, homebased care, and staff development, etc)

Praise God with me, my friends. And lift up these requests to heaven and let the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guide our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Thanks for loving the orphans of Africa and those that are traveling to love them in Jesus' name. You are loved and appreciated.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The beginning...again

Words cannot adequately express the joy I feel every time I think of returning to Africa. It's as if I've belonged there my whole life and am instead here in the USA. I know very clearly that I am not and probably will never be "African", but I feel "African" so much of the time.

In a week, I depart for Zambia and Zimbabwe. Zambia is a new country for me and I'm looking forward to visiting projects throughout the south western part of the country. I'll be exploring new opportunities for FVI to partner with and visiting some of the best practices in Zambia.

In Zimbabwe, I'll have a busy schedule if all goes well. By busy, I mean there is a lot to do in a short amount of time...not necessarily that I'll get everything I want to do done. From improving flow of reporting to setting up farms with Young Life to exploring microfinance opportunities involving chickens... the plate will be full. I just hope I get to 50% of them by the time the trip is done.

I'm excited about introducing 2 nurses and a teacher from the USA to our existing projects. Long-term, I'd love to have quarterly medical teams coming to Zimbabwe. The team and I will be planning a curriculum for professional development at the hospital and at the Theological College of Zimbabwe. We'll also be running orphan camps, conducting visits to the hospitals,

Plans are always a little shaky when I go to Africa. My 4WD vehicle isn't confirmed yet, I don't have accomodations yet for Zambia, and I'm not even sure how I'm supposed to get money yet in Livingstone. A lot to pray about for sure. Little things in Africa can take a LONG time.

I am thrilled to be going back again. Look for more posts as we get closer!

-Ryan Keith