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."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Announcing Arrival of Avery Joy Keith

Friends - Katie and I are excited to announce the arrival of Avery Joy Keith, born June 6, 2010 at 1:12 pm. She was 7 lbs 6 oz and we are waiting on her height from the nursery. Avery and Katie are doing well! Throughout, Katie was incredible and a testament to the love of God for all of us. Here are two pictures.

When Katie and I were praying and considering a name, we came upon Avery and couldn't let it go. No other name was right. Avery, in the English translation, means wisdom (or elf wisdom in some translations, which I really like). Throughout our pregnancy and our marriage, Katie and I regularly prayed for wisdom for how we should live our lives before God. So, when we learned this name we loved means wisdom, it is even more perfect. May God grant us wisdom to raise Avery.

Katie brings me great Joy every day. Daily, Katie and I experience Joy in fellowship with all of you and this world.  When God grants us wisdom, Joy follows.  Also, Joy is the middle name of my younger sister Heidi, who brings Joy to all who know her. Her life is a testament to God's grace and love for the whole Keith family.

More pictures are coming, but join us in praising God for the arrival of Avery Joy Keith!

We are so thankful for your prayers leading up to today and in the days ahead.

With love and appreciation,
The Keith Family

PS The staff here are wonderful! Special love to Nurse Sue!

My 1st Letter to My 1st Child

Katie and I know what it's like to be WAITING for news on a baby's arrival. With Katie now getting some rest and sleeping, I have nervous energy so I wanted to take this opportunity to post an assignment of mine from Harvard about our baby girl. For all you moms out there, Katie has endorsed this and I'm not neglecting my duties. :)

I was asked in March to write my eulogy or something that expressed what I live for presented in a different/creative way. I decided to write my 1st letter to my 1st child. Through writing it, I learned a great deal about the love of our God for us. I hope you find it encouraging today, as well.

Enjoy reading this as we all await her arrival.


PS Katie and baby are doing great! We will meet her today! :) Thanks for praying! I love these ladies!

March 2010:

To my precious daughter,

You are so close to being born, due to arrive on June 4th. As our first child, I’m especially excited to meet you. While we talk every night before your mommy goes to bed, I cannot WAIT to meet you in person.

My professor asked me to write my eulogy. With your arrival coming, that’s too sad for me. Instead, I’d like to share with you who I am and what I aspire to in life – and, in turn, what I hope for you.

I hope this short piece helps ground you in knowing you are loved by God, your mom, and me.

There are a great number of things to fill your head with in this world that you’ll soon explore. This world is a busy place. You must work hard to block out the voices of doubt, cynicism, fear, and hate. Those voices are everywhere. Instead, fill your head and heart with good things. You’ll find those good things by following Jesus and by serving God and our world. Because Christ loved you and me, we get to love others.

Strive to never doubt the existence of love in every person you meet. Enemy or friend, believe deeply in the capacity of all people to achieve more than they think possible for themselves. Aspire to help realize the dreams of kids who do not have many champions. As you’ve probably heard your mom and I discuss, I started a group called, where we equip local churches in Zimbabwe and Zambia to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS. Through this amazing experience, I’ve learned that God wants each of these precious children to find their own voices to become doctors, artists, teachers, and accountants.

Just like my life is now dedicated to championing your cause, I pray that your life is spent championing the causes of others so that people remember their stories, even if they forget yours and mine.

Soak up experiences. Daily, I see and hear miracles of humanity – people extending love when no one is looking. My aspiration is for you to find joy in the stuff that matters. Along the way, life will be hard. You will surely struggle. This will make you stronger. But know that your mom and I will be there with you, working hard to let you know that you are loved by us, but you belong to God.

Already you are the great joy of my life. Thanks for listening. I love you.

With love and affection,
Your dad

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Transitions to Fatherhood - Thunder & Lightening

Last night, there was a horrific thunderstorm near our home outside Boston. For over an hour, it felt like the thunder and lightening were both simultaneous and just outside our bedroom window. From 2:30-4am, flashes of light and rumbling, with giant roars, were constant.

Thankfully, my beautiful wife Katie, who is 9 months pregnant, was able to sleep through much of it -- only by the grace of God.

I'm usually the deep sleeper, but tonight God had lessons for me to learn. I had gone to bed worried about several things: a) the coming birth our first child - a girl, who was due June 4 but had not come; b) the seemingly overwhelming needs of our church partners in Africa who were sharing new losses of life with me earlier that day and new things they felt that God was calling them to do; and c) transitions in life - how would I be going from my life pre-babyto being a dad to a beautiful baby girl? Was I ready?

I drifted in and out of sleep - every 5 minutes waking to a roar from the earth that could not be ignored. One of my best friends, Scott, told me today that the storm was so loud their dog Leila shivered under the bed, unwilling to be held or comforted - a sight he had never seen. In short, the storm was loud, bright, and scary. At times, I felt like Leila.

But, as I lay staring at the ceiling (or more honestly, peeking through my eyelids - afraid to take in the show), I was slowly comforted by God. I started thinking about the Rock God has been in my life, in Katie's, and in the lives of our African friends. I started thinking about transitions & God's grace.

For all of us, God is faithful. I started remembering about the transitions for the woman I met who had walked 6 miles from her hut to the Mtshabezi Hospital in Zimbabwe to give birth -- she was all alone. She walked that far and then gave birth within days while I was there visiting. I've since seen women like her and God has helped each of them through that transition.

Then I started thinking about the decision I made in 2004 to not go to Harvard and instead go to Zimbabwe to see how our church in PA could get involved in the AIDS crises, unsure of what a transition like that meant. Would I ever get to go? Now, today I'm sitting less than 2 miles away from Harvard. God has graciously allowed all of us to take part in building the ministry of Forgotten Voices that came from that 1st trip AND I just graduated with my masters from Harvard last week. God is faithful through all transitions.

Katie and I obviously love the church. When we made the move to Boston from PA for my grad school, we were unsure of where we would find a church and God provided us with a home that exceeded our wildest imaginations - God knew and provided for us during this transition. Friends from Hope Fellowship have become family to us and we love them deeply.

We didn't know where we would live and God provided a home - both in Boston and now the perfect new home when we move back to PA where I'll resume full-time leadership of Forgotten Voices.

God provided the perfect job for Katie in Boston, after she left a job she loved at Messiah College. The new job as a social worker for a Head Start preschool here in the area helped Katie experience great joy in using many of her skills - some she didn't know she had. Through this transition God helped her fall in love with her role, her kids at school, and her coworkers.

With the rapid fire of the night's storm, I kept thinking about all the ways that God sometimes rocks us and rolls us with provision that exceeds our desires. Just like the thunder and lightening, our God is faithful.

I slipped off to sleep - thinking about our God. I woke refreshed and at peace, knowing that God has been there all the time. I just needed a light & sound show to help me know that God will be there as I transition into fatherhood and continue to lead Forgotten Voices.

Now - as we await our daughter's arrival, I'm staring into the dark sky -- waiting for the thunder and lightening to come again tonight. But this time, rather than with a heart full of anxiety, I am at peace --- expecting God to continue to provide for our every need & thankful to Him for this incredible journey He has taken Katie & I on.

Tonight - I'm also praying for all of you. That you may experience the peace of God that transcends all understanding. THat the peace of God will guide your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. That tonight, whether you are in the midst of a storm in the sky or storm in life, you will experience peace. Enjoy the show!!

-Ryan Keith
Father to Be - Anyday now...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Seedtime and harvest...will never cease"

A couple of weeks ago I joined a church member's family in harvesting their crop of maize (corn). We thank God for the good rains Zambia had experienced in the last farming season as there has been a good harvest for most farmers in our country. This is good for food security, especially with the vulnerable people of our society. Farmers are busy harvesting their maize, which is the staple food for most Zambians. The grain is made into mealie meal (maize flour) for cooking nshima/tsaza. However, pray for the harvest to progress well as the past few days of rain may cause much of it to rot before it is fully transfered into barns.

Just for your info, a family of six would normally consume 25kg of mealie meal per month and this 25kg bag costs about $12 and not many families can afford. With the seed money Forgotten Voices has assisted families through the local church in the last planting season, most families would now be saved from buying mealie meal at $12 for a while because it only costs $2 of maize grain enough to be milled into 25kg. The simple math shows how more families will now afford to have three meals a day.

Further more, it's time for backyard gardens and most families are busy planting seedlings for home grown vegetables. For your info, again; a kilo of vegetables (say lettuce) would cost about $2, but a roll of vegetable seedling costing the same amount when transplanted, would produce more than 50kg of vegetables to feed a family of six for more than five months. This would save the family $100 + +, which can be used for other pressing issues in the home.

Thank you for the seed money you have generously donated to the ministry of Forgotten Voices. This reminds me of The Lord, when He smelled the pleasing aroma of Noah's sacrifices and then vowed never again to curse the ground because of man. He then says in verse 22 of Genesis 8, "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest,...will never cease." Indeed, we can do more with a little help of seed. Donate to the ministry of Forgotten Voices and make a difference in a child's life of Southern Africa.

Your fellow servant in God's ministry,