12 Dec Farewell Party for Leisha & Cathy
In a close community like Lahash, transitions are acknowledged and milestones are marked. Always with food, often with photos. In mid-November, it was time to celebrate the contributions of two of our staff members and bless the next steps of their journeys in life and ministry.
Let’s start with… LEISHA
Leisha (Adams) Otieno was one of the very first people to join the Lahash team when its vision and mission were still being formed. Leisha has filled many different roles over the past ten years, including building a strong foundation for the Child Sponsorship Program. Living in East Africa the last several years, she has been a vital link between the Portland headquarters and the partnerships in East Africa. As Media Director Casey Schilperoort pointed out, Leisha has been the “true storyteller” for Lahash. When travel teams visit East Africa, Leisha knows the stories of the kids, families, and program staff, and helps direct the team to the ones that need to be told. With passion and determination, she has been (and will continue to be) a faithful advocate for the vulnerable in East Africa. We all know that strong relationships will keep Leisha connected to Lahash indefinitely, but her presence as an official staff member will be greatly missed.
And now… CATHY
Cathy Blakeman traveled to Uganda with her husband, Clark, and youngest daughter, Sarah, in 2012. Rick and Haley Baker were also part of that year’s Servant Team. Cathy went with no personal agenda about what her time there would hold, and that created the perfect opportunity for God to use her in ways she never would have dreamed. She ended up forming wonderful relationships with the kids at Amazing Grace in Adjumani, Uganda, and became “mama” to many. The story of one young man in particular captivated her heart and attention as she realized he had great potential to succeed at university, but no path to get there. From that relationship, the Stand With Students Higher Education Program was born, with Cathy working hard to develop it in a way that would honor, empower, and care for young people as they transition out of the Child Sponsorship Program into higher education and adulthood.
Cathy certainly intends to maintain connection with these amazing young scholars, and won’t be too far away from Lahash. But it is time for her to be fully available to the needs of her family as Clark (also a Lahash staff member) faces significant health struggles due to cancer and its complications. The Lahash community is honored to pray for and walk alongside the Blakemans through this tender and challenging season.
Leisha was in the states for a couple of months finishing her time with Lahash and transitioning into her next phase of ministry. Her son, Wesley, traveled with her while her husband, Fred, remained at their home in Mwanza, Tanzania, with their children Inno and Gretchen. Now that she is back at home, she is working for an organization called Mama Maisha. Living for years in rural Tanzania, Leisha has seen firsthand the incredible obstacles women face in accessing healthcare, especially during pregnancy. Mama Maisha is taking a holistic approach to improving outcomes for women and babies, one village at a time.
At the farewell gathering for these two amazing women, many people shared memories and words of blessing and encouragement. Through laughter and tears, it was a wonderful celebration of what each of them have contributed not only to the work of Lahash, but to the lives of individual people. The evening closed with prayer for each of them, lots of hugs, and hearts full of faith in God to lead and guide their steps as they move into the next phases of his calling for their lives.
Thank you, Leisha and Cathy, for all you have done for Lahash, and for filling your unique places in our community!