Bringing the Light of Christ to the Poor by Karen

Usually, when we talk about bringing light into the darkness we're speaking metaphorically; however, these last couple of months we've literally been bringing light into the darkness through our new found lantern ministry.

5L water jugs work the best, but we also use pop bottles and milk jugs. 

The short-term missionaries that visited us in March
made several lanterns that we were able to share with the 
families we visited.

We begin by cutting away sections near the top which allows the heat to escape.  Then, we make small holes near the cap for the metal wire to pass through.  This wire acts as a hanger.  We then fill the bottom with just enough sand/dirt to hold the candle in place.  

The last step is to write scripture verses about light onto the outside.

Thankfully, there is a shop nearby that sells short, fat candles that we estimate burn for over 40 hours.  The folks that have received these lanterns have told us that one candle lasts them for several weeks if they only use it for a short bit of time in the morning before the sun comes up, and then again for a couple hours at night after the sun sets.  Given the fact that the sun typically sets around 6pm, these lanterns are allowing people to make use of the evening hours instead of just going to bed.

The majority of the people that we've given lanterns to have electricity in their homes; however, they use it sparingly because of the associated costs.  Not only is electricity expensive per kWh, but it's also really costly for someone to have his/her electrical service reconnected if/when it has been disconnected by the municipality.  This happens when a family receives an energy bill that they're unable to pay.  Within days of the "past due" date, someone from the electrical department shows up on a motorcycle with a big pair of wire snippers and physically cuts the wire that delivers electricity to the home.  For many, this means that they'll be without electricity for a long, long time.  To get electricity reconnected the family needs to pay their past-due balance, a penalty for their failure to pay, along with a reconnection service fee that is equal to the average worker's weekly wage.  Out of fear of getting their electricity cut, many opt to only use it when necessary.

This is a photo of some of our short-term missionaries giving a family the lantern that they made.  I know that they're most appreciative because money is really tight.  The young
lady in the black shirt is 17 years old and has 4-year-old twins.  She lives with her mom, who is the only person available to help her raise these beautiful little girls.

Some of the people that we've given lanterns to don't have any electricity in their homes, so it's a huge blessing for them to have some way to see at night.

We lit both lanterns to take this picture because with only one it was too dark to see; however, Johel said that one is perfectly sufficient to light up his little house.

During subsequent visits, Johel thanked us again and again.  Just the other day he put his arm around me and said, "My life has changed ever since my good people has brought me the light."  We're so grateful for the blessing that Johel is in our lives; he's so fun!

Back in February, when we stopped on the side of the road to get a quick bite to eat, I had no idea that I would encounter something that would have such a big impact on our ministry.  Hanging from the ceiling of the diner by a thin, little wire was a lantern kind of similar to what we've been making.  It wasn't lit, nor was it painted in flashy colors, and yet it grabbed my attention as if it was surrounded by neon lights.  In a way that I can't describe, I knew that I was supposed to commit this cute little hand-made creation to memory but didn't know why.  I took a picture to make sure I didn't forget. 

When we're leaving the house we try really hard to remember to pray for docility to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, that He would help us to notice everything and everyone that we're supposed to notice, so that we can do whatever the Lord is calling us to do - in that moment or perhaps sometime in the future.  This little lantern is exactly the type of thing that would have escaped our notice if we weren't trying so hard to do the Lord's will inside of the inconsequential moments of life.  As I pray for you, I ask that your attention be drawn to the people and things in your path that the Lord wants you to notice so that you can do your part in bringing the light of Christ into the darkness.

May God bless you and keep you this day!
Love, Karen

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