The first thing that I encountered when I walked into ACKC (Arvada Covenant Kids Camp) was Arok standing by the display of the grinding mill that they hoped to raise money for; and he was signing the shirts of the kids who poured through the door.
It only took a day for the kids to warm up to Arok. At first, they were a little shy because they had rarely been around someone so tall, so dark and with lines etched in his forehead. But, once they saw his smile and saw how much he adores children, they swarmed to him like bees to honey!
I wrote earlier how God used an exercise time on a treadmill at the Covenant Midwinter's Pastor Conference for me to renew my friendship with Tom Melander, who is now the Mission's Director at Arvada Covenant. He and his wife, Margaret, went to Uganda to visit their daughter, Kelsey, so they took an extra trip from Kampala to Nukuru to visit our Seeds of Hope children and see our compound.
|Arok with Margaret and Tom|
Even independently of their visit, the Children's Pastor, Stacee Eggers, at Arvada Covenant decided to choose Arok's village of Paliau for their missions project: to raise $6,000 for a grinding mill. This grinding mill will grind all the grain from the village in 1/100 of the time that it currently takes the women and children to grind the grain between two rocks.
|The Grinding Mill Display|
The ACKC team thought it was an ambitious goal because they had never raised more than $5,000 before for their missions projects. But, they went into in faith knowing that God had clearly led them to Arok and his presence with them would help to inspire the children.
|Arok demonstrates grinding the corn between two rocks|
|Arok with Senior Pastor John Martz|
|Arok on Stage with Children's Pastor Stacee Eggers|
Arok did more than inspire the children~he helped them to step into a whole world outside of their familiar suburban world in Arvada, Colorado. He helped them to understand that a girl doesn't go to school because first of all there are no schools in the Paliau due to the Civil War of 20 years. The educatioinal system just doesn't exist in Southern Sudan.
But, secondly, even if she had the opportunity, right now her role is to walk 45 minutes to a river to get water for the family and then to help her Mother grind the corn or grain for the daily bread. It takes hours every day to do this. The Grinding mill is going to free up their time to spend on more productive and hopefully, life giving, pursuits.
I was present on Thursday when the children came to a station where they actually got to experience grinding the corn the present way that Paliau grinds: between two rocks. Then, they got to see a smaller version of a grinding mill take the dried corn and grind it in less than a minute. When I asked the children if they would rather grind corn or go to school, every one of them said, "Go to School!"
Arok got the nick name "Arok the Rock Star" at ACKC but I've always known that he was a Rock Star. He is one that made a sacrificial decision to spend his life on behalf of a village that he left when he was 7 years old. He continues to focus on helping the 35 orphans we have in boarding school in Kenya, and on helping his village become financially prosperous so they can partner in the role of educating the children.
The Grinding Mill is one big step forward for that to happen!
How much did ACKC raise for the mill? You'll have to wait until tomorrow for that answer!