Dreams Do Come True!!



"When I was a kid I dreamed a lot of going to college, but I never thought I would get to go because you know my dad is really poor.  I worked really hard in school all the time and got good notes, but Peru is corrupt and so my spot in university got given to a kid with a lot of money.  This made me feel really, really angry.  I mean REALLY angry!  I thought I would have to work on the farm with my dad for my whole life and that made me feel really sad because you know I want to use my life to help other people, and I know God wants me to help poor people.  I don't think I believe yet that my dream is going to be real.  It is really, really incredible! I thank God for this opportunity.  I thank God for the Carmody family and for all the friends in the United States that helped me have a good life.  I promise I will work really hard in university so everyone is really proud of me!"          ~ Isaac Dario

All praise be to God, our pseudo-son from Peru, Isaac Dario, has been accepted to Catholic University of Eastern Africa and will begin his pursuit of a degree in psychology / family counseling in September when the classes here in Kenya resume.

Following are some photos of Isaac and our family at CUEA (Catholic University of Eastern Africa - pronounced "kway-ahh") the day that we picked up his letter of acceptance.  I've also included a short explanation of how this all came to be.

This is Isaac officially receiving his letter of acceptance from Mary,
the amazing women who works in the Student Enrichment office.

Here is a short video of Isaac, Mary and my family after Isaac got his letter:



After getting a little bit of our excitement out we walked around campus so that Isaac could familiarize himself with the place that will soon be called "home". 
   
Isaac is so excited to be a part of the CUEA family!



The campus is small and quaint.

The library, computer lab, cafeteria, student activity center, classrooms and administration buildings are  are tucked in around the tall trees and beautiful African landscaping.




The chapel is my favorite.  The campus chaplain told us that there are always activities going on at the chapel: praise and worship, adoration, bible studies, Holy Mass, confession and more.  Isaac has never lived in a place where there was a thriving Catholic community so he's extremely excited.


As we were leaving it occured to all of us that an amazing transformation had taken place right before our very eyes.  Upon arriving at the campus Isaac was just another visitor.  However, as we were leaving he was officially a student and member of the CUEA community.

This is the front entrance of CUEA.  Isaac is SOOOO proud!!


To celebrate, Isaac, Mary and my family headed to the only restaurant around that is allowing patrons to sit down and eat.  Because of the coronavirus regulations, every other restaurant is only serving food for take-away.  Some of us ordered goat burgers and beet juice, while others prefered goat ribs and french fries (which they call "chips").

When our festivities at Mbuzi Munch (which is Swahili for "Munch the Goat") came to a close we thanked Mary once again for all of her help and bid her farewell.  The rest of us returned to our house to continue our celebration with a really yummy dessert.


Right after we finished our cake and ice cream Anna and Isaac felt compelled to dance....so they did...for over an hour.

Their excitement burst forth and filled the atmosphere with the most contagious joy!

You can click on the following link to see a YouTube video clip of their impromptu dance party:

https://youtu.be/-d3Sp695Kco



Our festivities continued throughout the day.  Jack, who loves music, assumed the role of DJ and made sure we had fun party music.  We prepared a super special quesadillas dinner and did all we could to make sure Isaac felt loved!


So, how did all of this come to be?  How does a poor kid from the jungles of Peru end up studying family counseling in Nairobi, Kenya?

Last year we encountered an angel here in Kenya.... well, actually he's only a man with an incredibly huge heart, but we joke that he must be an angel because we believe that he was sent to us directly from God!  As we were talking casually with our angel one day the topic of Isaac's misfortune came up.  We attempted to summarize the horror that has characterized Isaac's life and shared our disappointment that, despite his exemplary performance in secondary school, he would never be able to attend college because of his unfortunate life circumstances and the institutionalized corruption in Peru.  Our angel friend's heart was moved with compassion and he immediately felt the desire to help Isaac in whatever way he could.  Some phone calls were made, emails were composed, and quite unexpectedly the ball had started rolling....


In the village where Isaac grew up there are few career paths to choose from.  Most people's livelihood centers around the planting, harvesting, processing, and distributing of rice; others run small restaurants, drive taxis, or sell the produce that grows on their families' farms.  For those who excel academically, there is the possibility of pursuing higher education if financial resources are available.  In the larger cities there are technical training schools which offer certification programs for occupations such as office clerk, agricultural surveyor, and mechanic.  Those with the necessary "connections" are able to attend university and pursue professional careers.

When we led praise and worship Isaac would get up front
with our girls to sing and encourage the folks to join in.
Isaac had an incredibly difficult childhood wrought with every kind of hardship.  As such, the extent of his "dreams" for life didn't extend much beyond the hope of escaping what felt like hell on earth.  During our 3-year stay in Peru Isaac became like a son/brother to us.  He accompanied us in our ministry and spent all of his free time at our house. 


All praise be to God, he encountered Jesus in a powerful way and had a life-changing conversion.

In addition to the many, many things he did with our family, Isaac also had the opportunity to serve alongside various groups of medical missionaries who spent time in his village helping those in need.

These experiences guided Isaac's heart toward the idea of being a medical missionary.  He began to dream, for the first time in his life, of a future spent serving the Lord by helping the poor.

As we shared Isaac's story with our angel friend, who had recently retired from 35+ years of service as a medical doctor, the idea was born that maybe Isaac could attend nursing school at the medical training college here in Kenya that the angel had been affiliated with for over 20 years.  More emails were shared and a plan began to take shape.


Confident that Isaac would be able to pursue nursing, our angel bought Isaac a plane ticket which landed him here in Kenya in January 2020.  The task of figuring out the Kenyan educational system and getting Isaac into college had officially begun.


"So where exactly is the KNQA office?"

For the next six months we expended an immeasurable amount of energy navigating the streets of downtown Nairobi searching for offices, counsels, and authorized agencies.

This is the KNQA office,
which we became all too
familiar with.
We had to get his transcripts and letters of recommendation translated (from Spanish into English) by nationally authorized agents.  We wrote countless letters explaining Isaac's situation and requested his high school grades be recalculated, or "equalized" as they say here, by the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) into scores that are meaningful to the folks here in Kenya.  We visited offices, signed legal documents prepared by lawyers, made phones calls, and had Kenyan friends make phone calls on our/Isaac's behalf.

The KNQA is very prestigious group of
people who act as the gatekeepers for the
Kenyan education system.
When the KNQA finally finished the report that they had written we realized that it didn't include the detailed information regarding Isaac's science courses that was required by the Kenyan Nursing Council (KNC).  We prayed and hoped that this report would be accepted "as is", but no such luck.  The KNC rejected the report and said that it would have to be rewritten to include the specifics of his science courses.  We had no choice but to appeal to the KNQA to rewrite Isaac's report because he couldn't be accepted into a nursing college without the necessary letter of approval from the KNC.  So began the appeal process.  We appealed to a multitude to rewrite his reports as to include the information required by the KNC.  Finally, they agreed to rewrite the report, but it still didn't include the necessary information.  After writing Isaac's report a third time they put their foot down and refused to do anything more for us.
No matter what we did; no matter what we said; no matter whose office we visited; and no matter how many buckets of tears I cried, our efforts were all in vain.  One day, when we received a legal notification from the KNQA CEO informing us that our only remaining course of action was to make a legal appeal through the Kenyan judicial system, we felt as though we had come to the end of the road.  Isaac would not be able to studying nursing here in Kenya.  I was devastated, to say the very least!  I tried to remain positive and said things like, "Maybe it wasn't God's desire for Isaac to study here in Kenya.  Maybe He just wanted Isaac to be here with us for six months...." but my words weren't very convincing.  Just as I was ready to give up and tell Isaac that he'd have to return to Peru, Katelyn and Anna got the idea that maybe Isaac could study something other than nursing.  After all, the report we received from the KNQA office shows that his secondary school grades were exemplary. 

As I mentioned, Isaac comes from a very simple place where people are most concerned with preparing a meal for the day, taking care of their animals, washing their clothes and keeping their modest little homes tidy.  As such, their awareness of how life functions in other places is limited.  I say this because we realized, as we began talking to Isaac about other possible career paths, that he was incredibly ignorant of his options.  We'd make a suggestion and he'd reply by saying, "That's a job?"  Wow!  Katelyn spent one whole day on the Internet with Isaac showing him different types of jobs that he could go to college for....his mind was blown!! 

When Isaac and Katelyn began talking about the category of counseling Isaac's ears perked up immediately.  "You mean there are people who just help other people with their problems?"  he asked.  As they continued to research Isaac quickly realized that is what he wanted to do all along.  In his village the resident doctor and nurses at the small clinic serve as family counselors.  For example, when someone suffers under the heavy hand of a drunk family member, she goes to the "Centro de Salud" (which translates to "Health Center").  As the doctor or one of the nurses attend to her wounds they talk about what's going on at home.  The Centro de Salud staff members know everything about everyone and hold that information close to their hearts.  When people from the village go to the clinic they hope to receive medical help, but are more often looking for emotional support and even spiritual guidance.  When Isaac worked alongside the medical missionaries he saw them praying with each of the patients and talking with them about their personal issues; so, he assumed that his future as a medical missionary would be the same.

After spending the day exploring various career options Katelyn and Isaac visited some of the small colleges here in Nairobi to learn about the programs they offer, show them his KNQA report which summarizes his past academic performance, and inquire about their admission requirements.  Isaac was impressed by their hospitality.

When Katelyn and Isaac arrived at Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) Isaac immediately felt at home in a way that he said he couldn't explain.  The staff welcomed him like a long lost son and eagerly provided him with all the information he needed.  They received his KNQA report with joy and explained which programs he would be qualified to study.  When Isaac explained his desire to help people with their personal problems by sharing the Gospel and teaching them about Jesus' love and mercy, Mary, the woman in the photos at the beginning of this blog, was ecstatic because this is perfectly aligned with what is taught at CUEA.  She said that they strive to form Christian counselors who can help people regain a sense of hope for their lives; hope that is based in our salvation through Jesus Christ.  They believe that the goal of counseling is to help others achieve a better understanding of themselves and God which is rooted in the Holy Spirit's conviction.  Isaac couldn't wait to get started!!

In the days ahead we helped Isaac complete the application and submit all necessary documentation for admission....which was smooth sailing...unlike the process that we went through trying to acquire the needed approval for the nursing program which felt like we were pushing a 10,000 lb block up a rough incline.  As we breezed through the various steps we joked that it felt like God Himself was guiding our hands and hearts...oh wait, maybe He was!!

As we eagerly waited to learn whether or not Isaac could attend CUEA we stormed heaven with prayers.  We also reached out to our angel friend to share our experiences and beg for his prayers, that this would all come to fruition - if, in fact, it was the Lord's will for Isaac.  Our angel continued to assure us that the Lord has Isaac in His loving hand; that God has a plan for Isaac and that everything would be alright.  He encouraged us not to worry and to trust that Jesus desires to use all of Isaac's hardships and sufferings for the building up of The Kingdom.  His reassurance is exactly what we needed to get through this difficult time of waiting.  Our angel strongly believes that we were all chosen to be a part of the Lord's greater plan....for Isaac and for all those he'll help in the years ahead.  He agrees that Isaac would make an incredible family counselor, and constantly encourages us to rest in the joy that comes from knowing that we're part of something so much bigger than ourselves.

As you know from reading the beginning of this blog, Isaac was accepted to CUEA and will begin classes as soon as the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.  We praise and thank God for all He's done is our hearts during this last year as we've learned to trust Him even more.  We humbly beg for your prayers, that Isaac is successful in his studies and remains close to the Lord.

Thank you for your willingness to journey with us in this crazy life of missions.  Thank you for your prayers and loving support.  We couldn't do this without you!!!

Lots of love,
Karen







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