The Rev. Sam and Cindy Wolff are ELCA missionaries in Kenya. Sam is as pastor of Nairobi International congregation and working with the Dagoretti Swahili Church. Sam and Cindy work in developing an AIDS outreach program and work with the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Synod in furthering the ministry and outreach of the Dagoretti church. To support the Wolffs, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
Victor’s parents were very young when he was born. The date of Victor’s birth was never recorded and his father cannot remember it. When asked, he can only give an approximate year. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in Kenya.
This year we decided to give Victor a birth date and a birthday party. We used the month and day of my birthday since it was coming up soon and chose a year which Victor thought might be his real birth year.
We bought gifts and wrapped them and I baked a cake. The party was at a pizza parlor, the perfect venue for someone who was turning 15. It was not an elaborate affair in terms of an American party, but for someone who had never even had a birth date to celebrate, it was monumental. He received clothing, art supplies and money. He told us he had never received a birthday gift before. The cake was a great surprise to him. It was complete with15 candles. It was truly a moving experience, for us as well as Victor.
Victor wants to be a pastor. He came to our church two years ago to get a morning cup of chai and a cookie. Then he started going to services and asked to be baptized and confirmed. He was awarded a Bible at his confirmation and read it in its entirety in a matter of months. Now he has joined the choir and is an assistant Sunday school teacher. He has found a home at our church and a new life in Christ.
I asked Victor the next week what he bought with his money (about $5.00 U.S.). He said he spent $3.00 on a new pair of shoes and gave the rest to his father to buy food. I asked why he gave part of his birthday gift away. He said, “because, I like my father.” Victor received a gift and through this gave a gift. This was a joy to him to be able to pass part of his gift on. He surely passed a gift on to me. It is not only about what you receive but what you can share with others. Victor is living his faith, for Christ teaches us to love one another and to care for each other.
May you all be blessed and remember to pass on the daily gifts you receive.