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Picture Gallery

Carol & Gerald Boehlke

Carol has been active in missions since age 19 and went on her first missions trip to Italy. Then she went to Belgium and later to India, working among the poorest people there. She met Gerald at Bible School and after they were married, served in Kenya and Tanzania. They have amazing stories of how God has led them and protected them. I feel blessed because I have such a dear cousin, friend and sister here in Africa, only 100 kilometers away. If you ever get the chance to meet Carol & Gerald, you'll know why. Both of them are fun, they bless everyone they meet, and are not afraid to laugh out loud!

Carol, Angel and Melli

Posing with Aunt Carol!  Here we are with Angel in the middle, showing her missing front teeth. They wiggled right out over the weekend, and she made a killing with the tooth fairy! 

Cooper & Cuppie's Latest Litter

These puppies are just too cute and we're having such fun with them. Next week they'll all be in new homes (people want kid-friendly dogs who can also be good guard dogs for their families) but for now we can't pass up a chance to show you Cuppie's Cuties!  A healthy litter of seven, aptly born on Labor Day, just another picture of God's amazing brilliance and creativity!

Christopher, Angel, Andy - First Day of School

Christopher (8), Angel (7), Andy (6) pose for a first day of school photo in their new uniforms. A beautiful new sign in the school yard encourages the kids to show love to one another.

The Path to School

Walking to school on the path through the banana grove on the mission is a great blessing! They are enjoying meeting new friends and teachers.  After the first day of classes where they learned the “rules” Angel reported, “Mama, it’s sooo easy!”  Angel seems to have a gift for languages and is loving Kirundi and French.

Rift Valley Academy Graduation

Carly & Melli celebrate with Lizzie on her High School Graduation day at Rift Valley Academy, Kijabe, Kenya, a great school for missionary children for over 100 years. Cindy, James and Daniel are enrolled for the coming year, and begin classes on September 1st.

 Gunborg Gustafsson and Mother “Aunt Linnea"

 Gunborg Gustafsson with her mother, “Aunt Linnea”, in the kitchen with Melli & MaryLu, making special Swedish treats.

Blest to be a blessing, privileged to care, challenged by the need, apparent everywhere. Where mankind is wanting, fill the vacant place. Be the means through which the Lord reveals His grace.   –Bryan J. Leech
Moving and Graduation

Start of moving process to a new house across from the Kigobe Mission

Delay in moving to the new house due to unexpected cobblestoning!

Carly's High School graduation from King's School

Formal attire recommended at King's School graduation

Johnson Family June 2014

One last family photo before two more children leave the nest.  We miss Sarah, who's finding her way in St. Louis and has her permit to drive, and the next ones to leave are Carly (front row left), and Lizzie (front row right).  Even though we're all smiling for this photo, we're going to have some emotional downtimes when we say goodbye!  Please don't stop praying for our girls!  Mommy is holding Andy, and Daddy is holding Angel, and in the back row are (left to right) Sammy, Cindy,Christopher, James and Danny.  (Thanks to Danny and Annie Johnson for helping us take this family photo, getting everyone to smile on the first shot.)

Johnson's Family Photo - 1997

Here we are back in 1997 holding our first three beautiful daughters. 
Now they are grown up and flying away: Sarah, 19; Lizzie, 18 1/2, and Carly 18. 
Thanks for your prayers for them over the years—and in the coming months.

May Birthdays

Ken and Carly, sharing May birthdays! We remember almost losing Carly when at two she jumped into the deep end of the US Ambassador's pool  with only one half-blown up water wing on, waving and smiling at Kenny who was at the far end of the pool.  He quickly swam to her as her head sank below the water, and she came out laughing and sputtering. There is no fear if Daddy is near!

Our prayer for our children: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him and he will direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:6-7)
Going To the Dogs!

Thank God for kids and puppies!!  Although most of us love cuddling the adorable puppies, Danny (11) on the far right dangling a puppy, would rather be playing soccer.   ha ha.

Good Help!

Casey (on left) just finished 3 months of internship at a local government hospital...quite a culture shock from American hospitals!  But she came through with flying colors and can now practice nursing in Burundi!  Hooray, Casey! Rheagan (on right) has been actively involved in Sunday School work, Discovery School, and teaching English classes. Good work Rheagan!
Rooms With a View

Visiting the spot of Annick's 2 small rented rooms sitting on a cliff above a gorge just steps away from the rear of the house. The flood demolished the back wall of their bedroom.

Annick and Children

Annick in the sewing shop with her daughters, and baby son who is lying behind on the sewing machine.  She is just one of the hundreds of strong determined women and men who survive difficulties--pick up and just keep going.  I'm always blessed by these Burundian people.

The Buzz Bomber

Ken, delivering bricks in the "Buzz Bomber" to help with repairs of the house of one of our workers.

Jim and Vicki Brooks

Pray for Jim and Vicki Brooks who have been partnering with us since 2006, with Allow the Children Sponsorship Program.  We love them and want them strong and well, so that they can both return to Burundi soon.

A Wonderful Day at the Rainbow Centre!

Praise the Lord for a wonderful day at the Rainbow Centre!  The children kept coming all day long to update photos and letters for their sponsors. (68 in all) What a job!  Thanks for your prayers for this endeavor. (If you are interested in sponsoring a child we can help you.)

Miss Grace and Sammy

Meet Miss Grace, who has her own amazing testimony of rescue as a baby.  She is full of sparkle, love, and energy and we are so thankful for her ability to work with Sammy.  Please pray with us that she can see her dreams come true of attending Oklahoma Christian College this fall.

Missionary Kids' Sunday School Class

January photo of our Missionary Kids Sunday School Class at Kigobe Mission.  The kids are sitting in Zach and Micah's treehouse. First row:  Danny, Zach, Christopher, James; Back row: Angel, Andy, Sammy and Micah.  Little Elliott, Ruthie, and Baby Lydia are not in the photo. Today we were studying about "shining", looking up verses in the Bible about how we should be shining (not grumpy, like Danny's face).  Please pray for the missionary kids that they will let their lights shine!

The song writer, W. O. Cushing had it right when he wrote:

 "Little children, little children // Who love their Redeemer, // Are the jewels, precious jewels, // His loved and His own. // Like the stars of the morning, // His bright crown adorning, // They shall shine in their beauty, // Bright gems for His crown."

Margarite's Fruit Stand
Margarite's avocado stand...the biggest avocados I've ever seen...and they're delicious!

Annick's New Baby

Annick and her newborn baby girl at the Mission's Maternity... we paid the bill--21,800 Burundi Francs… in dollars, $13.20...quite a bargain for birthing a baby! No name, yet--but she might call her Ciza, (Cheesa) which is what mommies name babies that come after a set of twins. Ciza means "very good, not twins this time," because twins are such a lot of work for the mother.  Later: The baby's name is Bimenyimana, (Kirundi for "Known by God"). I asked Annick what she called her for short; she said, "Ciza". Ha

Johnson Family Photo/Prayer Card (December 2013)
Please pray for Ken & Melli Johnson & Family as they share Jesus Christ’s redeeming love in Burundi, Central Africa

Left to right in photo: (front row): Lizzie, Samuel, Daniel. (Back row):  Carly, Ken, Angel, Melli, Andy, Cindy, James, Sarah, Christopher.

Children’s Birthdays

Sarah          January 18, 1995        Lizzie         October 20, 1995

Carly           May 1, 1996               Cindy          August 27, 1999

James          January 5, 2001         Daniel         July 16, 2002

Samuel        July 18, 2003              Christopher March 6, 2006

Angel           September 12, 2007    Andy          January 1, 2008

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow...

Sarah tried not to cry as she said "good-bye" to Daddy.  Saying goodbye is tough—especially when the rest of your family is in Burundi, Africa. But she is in good hands with her Uncle Bob and Aunt Cheryl Andrews as she begins her college career in Ellisville, MO (St. Louis area).

We miss Sarah, but with nine kids to go, we're not in danger of "Empty Nest Syndrome" just yet.  Many thanks for your love and prayers!

Just Toddlers in 1997...

Remembering as a new mother dressing up my baby girls in matching outfits, I want to shout, “Stop the clock!” How I loved my little daughters--I called them my triplets. I had to scour the big market in Burundi for matching frilly dresses, flowered headbands and white shoes. Lft to rgt: Sarah, 2 1/2; Carly,1 1/2; Lizzie, 2.

And now look at my girls  all grown up, beautiful, talented, and smart, ready to fly out of the nest and help change the world. We are indebted to all who have prayed for us for so many years. You have helped to make our family possible.

Cindy On the Way Back Home

Cindy was brave and courageous as she checked in at United, Saturday morning. With a pass card I was able to go with Cindy all the way to her gate where she gave me a final hug!  It's hard to believe she is already 14!  Thank you for praying for her as she starts 10th grade at The King's School in Burundi.

Sam in Speech Therapy

A huge blessing from the delay in returning to Burundi is that Samuel's speech therapy teacher, Gayle McVeigh, is working two times a week with him.  She is wonderful! Thank you for praying for them...Sam is making slow but steady progress.

Melli and Kids at the CMML "Castle"


Annie O'Connor, editor of CMML Missions Magazine took our photo as we prepared to leave for the Amtrak station. Here we are, back row, left to right: James, Mama, Cindy; front row: Daniel, Angel, Andy, Samuel, Christopher.

Last Day of School

Seven Johnson kids on the last day of school before leaving on a big summer adventure!  Without Ken at the helm, we won't be able to haul everyone around to visit friends and family this time, but you are all welcome to come visit us!  There's bike-riding, swimming, and an alligator now and then to discover!

Mobile Home in Light & Life Park, Lakeland, Fl


There won't be this many of the Johnson Family inhabiting "The Blue Lagoon" (as Melli affectionately calls it) this summer, since Ken, Sarah, Lizzie & Carly will remain in Burundi to "hold the fort". The focus of the trip this time is on finalizing the naturalization process (the children have to be here in person) for U.S. citizenship for James, Danny, Sam, Christopher, Angel & Andy. Hopefully, their green cards will be processed in time for them to apply for their U.S. passports and get back to Burundi by the time school opens in September. (Photo taken in 2009, their last visit to Florida)

Sarah Anne's Graduation


Sarah Anne at 3 years old (left), with Mommy's hat on and flowers trying to look like a grown up lady. The years have gone by with lots of family adventures and now, Sarah (right)  is 18 years old, graduating from Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya this coming July.

Patricia & Baby Emmanuelle


Patricia's sister died three weeks ago leaving Emmanuelle and four older siblings motherless. She and her husband, who have five children of their own, opened their hearts to add five more to their family. With baby on her back, and a large plastic bucket filled with baby clothes, blankets, milk, porridge, cups, bowls and spoons from the Rainbow Centre, Patricia starts for home with the happy burden balanced on her head. Burundian women simply amaze me with their strength and resiliency!

Heather Odell, Volunteer


Heather Odell, short term volunteer from Oakdale Christian Academy in Kentucky, holding baby Emmanuelle. What a great helper!
Speech Pathologists


Speech pathologist, Laura Gregg, and her assistants, Autumn Berry and Rachel DeLuca, in clinical training at Wooster College in Ohio, in one last photo before they head for their plane home. They spent two intense weeks working with Joy and The Discovery School teachers, and also giving speech therapy to our Sammy.  Three super ladies!

Margarite, a Wonderful Christian Woman

Please pray for Margarite, a wonderful Christian woman, who after the fire took her cloth business, started selling fruit, walking to a small market an hour away from her home, or sometimes taking a bicycle taxi.  We are so thankful for her and other dear widows with plenty of love to go around, not just to their own kids, but abandoned babies needing mommies.  Here she is with Metasella, now six, and Shayla dressed in overalls, 10 months.

Birthday Girl -
Carly Mae Ingabire

 Presenting Carly Mae Ingabire, our May Day baby.  Found in the forest during the war, she is fulfilling her name, "strong maiden", with her courage and strength this past year.  She loves soccer, is great at solving mysteries, and wants to be a Private Investigator. Her Kirundi name, Ingabire, means "gift"-- truly a dear gift to us! Thank you for praying for her!

The Boys - Samuel, 
Christopher and Andy

Many thanks for your prayers for our kids...here's Samuel, who is a budding photographer and has a natural gift with animals; and Christopher, in the middle, who is NOT shy but drenched in charisma with lots of friends; and Andy, who is shy and quiet, loves to bring me flowers, and missing four front teeth already.

Greta on Easter Sunday at Celebration of Her Baptism

Antoinette and Her Many Grandchildren

Antoinette, who has many grandchildren (she had nine children of her own before becoming a foster mother with the Rainbow Centre) with five of her foster children, three of them from the Rainbow Centre.

Greta is on the left in back row, Glogo (Greta's sister) is on the right in the front row and little Bella (Greta's sister) is in the center. Glogo is number #1 student in her 3rd grade class of 100 students.

Another New Johnson

Danny, Annie and baby Lydia Lois a few hours after delivery.
One Special Mama

Here is little Bennie on her Mama's lap at a Christmas party at the Rainbow Centre.  Her foster mother's name is Concessa but we have always called her Mama Sarah, because first she started fostering Sarah, one of the first babies at the Rainbow Centre, (on right) and then she took on another little girl, Anianna (on left).  She cared for Deborah, another Rainbow Centre AIDS baby girl as well, loving her until she died at age 3.  She has such a big love for children, more so no doubt, because she was childless herself. Her husband scorned her to marry another woman to get children.  Then Mama Sarah loved and helped care for the children of the second wife!  The husband died leaving both wives as widows. Mama Sarah is one special mama! 

Severely Malnourised Infant Twin

Today we met a new baby girl named Uwimana Maria.  Uwimana means "Praise God".  Maria is a twin to her sister, Kwizera (Faith). 

We don't understand why Faith is chubby and thriving and Maria is severely malnourished weighing less than 2 pounds at two months! She's too weak now to suck her mama's breast, but she was able to suck a baby nipple that had a larger hole for the milk to pass through. We've supplied the mother with baby formula, baby clothes, and healthy porridge for the mama to eat to strengthen her.  Why didn't she feed both babies?  She won't say, but she's malnourished herself and if she's fatalistic, thinking only one baby will survive, she fed the stronger one.  Please pray for this mother, that we can not only strengthen her physically and save her baby, but also encourage her heart so she will not give up hope and that God will use this situation for His glory.  We want Uwimana Maria to grow up and Praise God!

Fire Consumes Bujumbura's Big Market Place


They say 70% of the nation’s food passes through Bujumbura’s market. So what is potentially the hungriest nation on earth is even more hungry right now. Food shortages have led to a tripling in prices for rice and beans - the staple diet - and almost all other food prices have risen as well. Burundi needs our prayers.

--Photo & blurb by Simon Guillebaud                                                                   

Jeremiah (7 yrs old), Estelle and Melli

From a starving baby to a strong, happy boy on his way to manhood!

How we praise the Lord that Jeremiah is growing and thriving!

Melli wrote (February, 2006): What does God have in store for this little life—could the word of the Lord spoken to the Old Testament prophet apply to this child? Before I formed you in the  womb I knew you, before you were born I set  you apart…(Jeremiah 1:5) Surely this “Jeremiah” was spared to bring Glory to God!

Here Jermiah is pictured with his adoptive mother, Estelle and Melli
More About "Two Women and a Baby"

They showed up at our gate one morning. Little Niyibitanga (It’s God who helps), was severely malnourished, a result of her mother dying,her father out of work, and her grandmother and great aunt so poor they could feed the baby only tea.

The Rainbow Centre has already seen an improvement after ten days of porridge and milk. She is one year old and weighs only 5 kilos (11 lbs.) She can’t walk, can barely sit up, and has no teeth yet. She has a sister, almost two years old, we haven’t yet seen as the women came barefoot from a long distance and couldn’t carry them both.

Now they have a supply of food—porridge, milk, sugar, beans, cassava flour, rice—plus clothes for themselves and the children. We also gave them a plastic bucket, a pot for cooking and some dishes and cups. They were so happy and thankful! We’ll see them each week to make sure both little girls get stronger. What a blessing to help these dear people! They said, “Yes’ashimwe!” (Jesus be praised!)

Above photo: Great Aunt Ndaruzaniye (meaning God brings us some things), holding Baby Niyibitanga; and Grandmother Nyandwi (meaning seventh child).

After Ten Days - Look at Baby Niyibitanga

These photos were taken ten days after the two women mentioned in the letter arrived at our gate carrying the tiny motherless child. We rejoice at the progress shown after just ten days of nourishing milk and porridge from the Rainbow Centre.

Photo above: Grandmother Nyandwi feeding the baby porridge. A baby bottle would be easier, but more complicated and too foreign.

Johnson Family Photo 2012

 We sent hard copy prints of our new photo/prayer card to all on our "snail-mail" list and will be glad to send one to those on our email list whose postal address we do not have.

Just drop an email to rfandrews@juno.com with your address and we will get one to you in the mail.
Please pray for Ken & Melli Johnson & Family as they share Jesus Christ’s redeeming love in Burundi, Central Africa.

Left to right in photo on other side (front row): Daniel, Samuel, Carly, Sarah.
(Back row): James, Ken, Angel, Christopher,  Melli, Lizzie, Cindy, Andy.

           Children’s Birthdays:

           Sarah          January 18, 1995
           Lizzie         October 20, 1995
           Carly           May 1, 1996
           Cindy          August 27, 1999
           James          January 5, 2001
           Daniel         July 16, 2002
           Samuel        July 17, 2003
           Christopher March 6, 2006
           Angel          September 12, 2007
           Andy           January 1, 2008

Introducing Andy the "Mer-Man" Boy!

He's the king of the waves as he hits the water full force, sometimes forgetting to close his mouth! "Mama," he said, "I'm trying not to drink the lake...but I forgot---and now I think I have 'diweeah'." He asked me the other day if it was almost his birthday, and what will his present be?"  I replied that, no, it wasn't his birthday yet and I wasn't sure what his gift would be--I was still thinking about it.  He said, "Well get thinking and can you please step on it!"

Six Super Submersible Non-Sartorial Sitting Siblings!

James stands behind the rest holding his fishing "spear". I checked his backpack when we arrived--a t-shirt, swimsuit and his toothbrush...that was it. ha. Daniel, just behind Samuel, collected more rocks and stuff. Sam wanted to hand feed the monkeys.  Christopher brought home flying termites in an old plastic margarine tub, tucking them into the sand and talking to them during the trip...I warned him, "Do NOT take the lid off that margarine container while we're driving!" Angel the mermaid, can't stop smiling, even under water. And Andy, only concerned about sharks in the lake. (No sharks)

Annick with One of Her Twin Girls
at the Rainbow Shop

Annick arrives at the shop every morning, and is thankful for a secure place to sew! She brings one of her twin baby girls with her and the other stays at home with her younger sister.  Next door to their shop is an industrious woman who is regular at the mission's Women's Bible Study.  She cooks all morning and then sells lunch--a plate full of rice and beans with lenga-lenga (spinach) for 500 Burundi francs (approximately 33 cents now with inflation of the Burundian Franc.  So the girls at the sewing shop eat Mama Kwizera's cuisine every day.  Thank you for helping with this "sewing/security" project! (Five other girls are sewing and learning as well.)

Medicine Time for Christopher and Angel

Christopher (6) hates taking medicine!  Angel (5) doesn't mind quite as much, but only if the medicine tastes good.  Unfortunately, the stuff (metronidazole) for getting rid of amoebas is nasty, and leaves a strong yucky metallic aftertaste---it also makes whatever you eat taste bad. James (11) and Sammy (9) are also taking medicine but disappeared when I called, "Medicine time!"

Miracle Babies

Cindy, our miracle baby, now a teenager, with little brother Andy (wishing he was five, not four).


Here is Marie, holding baby Christine when first brought to the Rainbow Centre. Marie found her in a plastic bag in a field. Picking it up, she heard a tiny cry and was astonished to find a newborn, with untied umbilical cord. She held it in her arms, but then thought of her seven children -- how could she take one more? Struggling with her fears, three times she picked up the baby and put her down. When she felt an inner voice
nudging, "Take the baby," LOVE WON OUT-- and now you can see the thriving toddler Christine is today.
Annick and her Twin Girls

Former student, Annick has her hands full with twin baby girls.  Her sister helps watch the babies while Annick sews.  But recently her sewing machine was stolen.  She is hoping to save money to buy another one.

Emmanueline and her Two Week Old Baby

Former student, Emmanueline praised God for her two-week old baby girl. Last year she and her husband had visited us in grief over their first baby's death, so this healthy daughter is doubly special!

Ken on Indian Chief!

He got the motor started and it was so loud and rumbly I thought that we were in lift off at Cape Canaveral. Definitely needs a new muffler!

"Lie Down So We Can Operate!"

 "Doctors" Christopher, Angel & Andy

Christopher, Angel and Andy are ready for some medical practice, and who better to work on  than their peacefully dozing mother?  I don't mind, really.

I used to fix my Dad's hair (when he had a lot more than now) while he napped in his recliner after lunch. I think I was six years old. He didn't know I was playing beauty parlor!  One day the doorbell rang and he quickly woke up to answer the door.  His colleague stood there staring--trying not to laugh. "What's so funny?" Dad asked. The guy replied, "Look in the mirror!"  My daddy's hair was sticking out all over with pincurls and bow barretts.  Daddy just laughed. (Melli)

MMMMMMMM...Could I Have Another, Please!

What's that saying, "Before you meet your handsome  prince you have to kiss a lot of--giraffes?"  It took courage to get this close to a tall hairy stranger, but Makenzie "had a ball" feeding the young giraffes.  It's quite amazing to see them up this close.  Better than a safari!


It’s always great fun to make birthday cakes for Rainbow kids. Makenzie, our volunteer from Raleigh, N.C., went with me to take a cake to little Danny Niyonizigiye (Neo-nee-zee-ghee’-yay, “I trust in the Lord”) who turned five.

It’s hard to believe that he survived abandonment in a cornfield as a month-old baby.  Sick with infections, malaria, and TB when placed at the Rainbow Centre, he was transformed by lots of love and care and now  attends the Discovery School at Kigobe Mission.  He is adored by his foster mother, Emilienne, a widow who also fosters two other orphan children.  They are a special family.  We praise the Lord for open loving hearts!
“What Can I Do To Help?

 This is David Bryson, with daughter, Makenzie.
 It’s always a treat to have volunteers come willing to help. It’s even better when a volunteer brings his tool bag and Professional expertise to assess the problems and get to work fixing things.

David Bryson didn’t complain while working under sinks and crawling through attics.  We kept him busy right up until he left.  And Mackenzie is already loved by the children at the Discovery School and the Rainbow Centre with her songs and guitar playing.  She’ll be with us for four months before returning to the USA to begin university.  It takes time, sacrifice and courage to be a volunteer. 

Thank you, Lord, for sending them to us!
"Mama, Can We Keep All the Puppies?"

How we praise God for Christopher!  Six years ago he was found by a poor woman with her own baby on her back...she brought him to the Rainbow Centre where our whole family fell in love with him. He was so tiny and sweet and the children asked, "Can we please keep him?" His Kirundi name is Dukundane (doo-koon'-dah-nay) which means "Let's love one another".  Christopher is full of love and charisma, and totally NOT shy about being friendly and entertaining.  He crawled into Cuppie's box with her eight adorable Golden Retriever puppies. What a gift he is!

Nice Horsey, Nice Horsey

The children started towards the zebras with great caution, but when they ignored them and moved off, the kids became braver. Christopher, ringleader of the adventure, is in front, followed by Angel and Andy. Watching from farther back, the older kids and I were taking photos. Ken says that guardian angels were out in force around our kids on Christmas morning.

As a missionary mother, sometimes I’m not as aware as Ken of potentially dangerous situations...over here we don’t have safety barriers erected everywhere, so thank you for your prayers for wisdom in our family!  Blessings and Love, Melli

Welcome Aborad the "Wings of the Morning"

Ahoy!  Ahoy!  Sail on the "Wings of the Morning", the 36-foot sailing ship which Ken’s brother, Harry, built to reach villages on the lake where vehicles can’t go. (Read more about it in CMML Missions for December, 2011).
Johnson Christmas 2011 Family Photo

Front row: Carly, Christopher, James, Daniel, Samuel, Lizzie.
       Back row: Sarah, Andy, Ken, Melli, Angel, Cindy.

"Come On Daddy Cheer Up!!"

Lizzie and Carly were brought to the hospital by their dorm mom to cheer up their daddy.

Thank you again for praying for Kenny. "Prayer is the most practical thing...the exercise of drawing on the grace of God." (Oswald Chambers) We can't stop thanking God for His grace in getting us through this time of surgery!

When Remy, at the Mission in Burundi, called and asked, "How are you doing?" Ken replied, "I'm fine-- How's your motorcycle?" Ken was anxious to get out of the hospital and eager to get back to work fixing things, especially motorcycles!

Many thanks!  Much love!  and Merry Christmas!

Could These Guys Scare Anybody??

Andy and Micah

We didn't have a Halloween Party or go Trick or Treating, but in the open market where used clothes pour in from the West, I found a pile of kids' Halloween costumes for less than 50 cents apiece. The kids are having fun dressing up like Barney the Dinosaur, a Dalmatian, Tigger, etc. Here is our little boy, Andy, dressed as Winnie the Pooh, hugging his cousin Micah, as Woody from Toy Story.

My kids are so glad to have their cousins, Zach and Micah, close by, living at the mission. They are sad to see them go on furlough for 6 months. Please pray for Jesse, Joy and their three little boys in their travels to the USA, visiting family and friends, speaking in churches, and getting medical attention. As missionaries always know but are hesitant to say, "Furloughs are not vacations." (Except for the children, who have a ball!)
In Memory of Eleanor Johnson

I love this poignant photo of Mom Eleanor, with Ken holding her close... I felt her energy--once while visiting a few years back, when Mom was 92, I slept beside her bed on a mattress on the floor, and awoke early to see her doing calisthenics before getting up.  Wow!  Does anybody do that?  I groan at my cowardly avoidance of necessary duty, but Mom Eleanor never wasted precious moments moaning or waiting to be asked to help someone or do any job.  What an inspiration to me and to the many others she touched over here!  What reassurance that we'll see her again one day!  --Melli
Who Wouldn't Love A Doll Like This??

Meet little 9-year-old Sarah, happily holding her new soft, Cuddly, hand-made doll!  She was one of the first babies in the Arms of Love Baby Home, and now has a mother of her own whose name is Concessa, but lovingly referred to as Mama Sarah.  Sarah also has two sisters who are also being fostered by Mama Sarah--Aniella 10, and little Benni who has cerebral palsy. Mama Sarah also cared for little Deborah, who had AIDS and is now in Heaven. Thank you for praying for these foster mothers who love and care for these precious little ones who have been abandoned.   God bless you!

Wearied of Picture Taking ....

"Wish you could get the smells through a photo!  Ken fried bacon every morning to help wake us up!  The "simple life" for a week is quite tiring on mommies (I remember my own dear mumso wasn’t truly thrilled with camping in Yellowstone National Park). It's hard to locate belongings in the dark of the hut, but on the other hand, I'd rather NOT see the creepy crawlers co-habiting with me.  Now and then we heard, "DADDY! COME QUICK!  THERE'S A HUGE SPIDER...!"  But the lovely birdsong evening and morning was a nice switch from telephones, radios and traffic." --Melli

No Graveside Service for Gerard ....

At first the family thought they would have only a small, quiet graveside service, but so many people were phoning and wanting to have a church service that it all changed.  When we arrived at the church, it was overflowing with people and we were thankful for the sound system enabling all to hear a wonderful salvation challenge to "BE READY!"

We learned such lovely things about Gerard--he was so generous with everyone, helping so many people and so humble about it.  God helped Ken to testify about Gerald's ministry to us and everyone. He was a vital member of our Mission family--we ALL miss him!
 Looks Like It Never Happened .....

When we got this note from Melli last February our hearts ached for our grandson, Sammy. Melli  wrote: "When Samuel came home from school, I saw his two front teeth badly chipped. He slipped on a stick near a cement step, falling on his teeth. Joy told me the dentist at RVA had fixed her chip-ped tooth, so I hope he can fix Sam's—one tooth is rather sharp and irritates his lips, and they both are so sensitive to hot tea, and cold water." 

Praise God for the "miracle" restoration Dr. Josiah Rich has performed!  --Grandpa in Florida
Fun Of Sharing at Easter

Our kids had a ball coloring five dozen Easter eggs to tuck in seven big boxes of treats and other stuff for nannies fostering Rainbow kids. Lizzie, Carly & Gerard went with me in our 30- year-old Toyota Corolla, over almost impossible roads—walking to two places since we couldn’t drive up the meandering little paths with the car.

In the photo, 4-year-old Anna needs some help from her older foster sister to handle their Easter box.


Nizigiyimana had no milk for the child so she begged others in her village, and fed the newborn cow's milk.  The baby fell sick with diarrhea followed by malaria and was taken to a hospital for medicine. This is where our Social Worker, Lea, first met Nizi, who was going door to door on the hospital compound asking people for milk.  By God's grace, Lea happened to be there visiting a patient and immediately called the Rainbow Centre to bring formula, bottles and other supplies for this baby.  How thankful we are that God enabled us to help!

Johnson's New Home


...   to show you the house the Lord has provided!

This photo is taken from the corner of the grassy garden area looking at the back of the house where all the bedrooms are.  The large window by the palm tree opens in the front room we’ll use as an office. 

The whole side yard is open space with grass and a cement square that is perfect for a basket-ball court, plus lovely for outdoor entertaining. Burundians cook outside and comment on how wonderful the cooking area is! (on other side of lattice fence.)  I can hardly wait to get started, fixing and painting. 

Over Easter break when the children return from Rift Valley Academy, we'll get them busy fixing their rooms! 
16th Parenthood Anniversary!

Ken and I became parents through adoption 16 years ago when we anxiously opened our arms and hearts to tiny Sarah, our first baby. She's as tall as I am now! On Sarah's 1st birthday God gave us Lizzie—then Carly, a few months later.

We thought three were all, but God kept giving. Now, we can't imagine our family without Cindy, James, Daniel, Samuel, Christopher, Angel and Andy—all miracle babies with beautiful stories of rescue and healing.

We love being parents though it gets wild and crazy sometimes! Thank you for praying for the children and for us to stay strong, brave and courageous for as long as it takes!   --Melli and Ken
Another Rainbow Centre Miracle .......

Meet Angelique, another happy adoptive mommy and Anna, who came to the Rainbow Centre's Adelaide Arms of Love Baby Home as a tiny baby. Angelique is a former nanny from the Rainbow Centre and she and her husband have six grown children but are in process of adopting Anna whom all the family has accepted.  She's nearly four and a pre-schooler.  We love her happy smile!   Your prayers and support have helped rescue Anna and transform her life!  Blessings and Thanksgivings!

Johnson Family Photo 2010

Please pray for Ken & Melli Johnson & Family as they share Jesus Christ’s redeeming love in Burundi, Central Africa.

Children’s Birthdays:

Sarah       January 18, 1995          Lizzie        October 20, 1995
Carly        May 1, 1996                Cindy         August 27, 1999
James       January 5, 2001           Daniel         July 16, 2002
Samuel     July 17, 2003               Christopher March 6, 2006
Angel       September 12, 2007     Andy          January 1, 2008

 Left to right in photo (front row): Carly, Andy, Melli, Ken, Angel and Sarah;
 (back row): Lizzie, Cindy, James, Danny Sammy, and Christopher.
Valeria & Mugisha


Wow! Who wouldn’t just love to look under some plants in your garden And find a real live baby doll!  It’s like a fairy tale coming true!

 But miracles still happen—to encourage and warm our sometimes sad, cold and doubting souls. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!”

                                                     –Matthew 5:8

Meet Mama Sarah ......

Melli has known "Mama Sarah" since she became foster mother to baby Sarah, one of the first babies to come to the Rainbow Centre when her mother had died, and the neighbor who was keeping her became sick and could no longer take care of her.

This photo was taken as Sarah (in red tank top) and her older sister, Anyela, were in their school uniforms—a khaki shirt and skirt, and sporting very short hair-do’s that the school requires.

Mama Sarah has a helper to aid her in coping with little Bennie who often has seizures and flails her arms and legs.  We don't know what happened to Bennie—she was brought to the Rainbow Centre when only a tiny baby by a neighbor, who said the mother had died.  We've had some physical therapy for her and a whole lot of love. 

Thank you for your prayers for this beautiful family!

Radiating God's Love . . .
Meet Ruthie and Billie

Ruthie radiates love for Billy who has been transformed by it. She says, “I am so happy, so thankful to God for allowing me to be Billy’s mommy.  Thank you, everyone who has helped to make this possible. May God bless you!”

Our motto at the Rainbow Centre:

“Welcome a child; welcome me.”
                                 --Jesus    (Matthew 18:5)

Meet Anna and Vanessa

Meet Anna and Vanessa—the baby girl she found and brought to the Rainbow Centre's "Twizere" (Let's Have Hope) baby feeding Project.  Though already breastfeeding her own son, she gladly chose to take Vanessa, also—rather unusual here in Burundi. 

So, we began to help her by giving "busoma", a powdered cereal (soya, corn, sorghum) she fed to her son, while she breastfed Vanessa—like having twins. Speaking of twins, malnourished mothers of twins at Kigobe Mission who can't make enough milk for both babies, are given powdered milk.  We even have triplets! Thank you for helping feed our "baby boom"!

How Many Can Fit Inside A Grass Hat?

Surprise! Actually we fit four in a hut. We were 16 people in four huts atthe annual Kumbya Missionary Retreat near Kibogora Mission in Rwanda-- a great time of spiritual and physical refreshing with missionary families from across Central Africa! The children had invited three friends to come with us along with Gioia Varenkamp, our volunteer from California. I was able to visit Kibogora again--where Africa started for me twenty years ago. It looks pretty much the same, but oh, what adventures I've had since then!

Thanks to all our friends, family, and prayer partners, vitally encouraging and supporting us.  --Melli

See Our Little Alligator

Even an alligator opens it's ruthlessly snapped tight jaws sometimes, as you can see from this photo Gioia took of the small alligator at Light and Life Park this week...but the door to fly on British Airways through London was certainly snapped shut for our six young children.  That's okay, as God has made another way possible and it is all for the best.  My friend in Bujumbura told me that with the elections going on there things have been somewhat tense (it's much better now) so we don't mind missing out on the reported grenade attacks.  Better the 4th of July fireworks than "fireworks" in Bujumbura. 

Gioia with Angel and Andy

Packing the Luggage in "Bigfoot"

This has been a delightful year for the children!  What a positive learning adventure for them!  They are ambivalent about saying goodbye to teachers and friends.  James, who loves school here says, "I don't want to leave."  Cindy says, "I like it here, but I miss my sisters!"  Daniel says, "I can’t wait to get on the airplane!" (He loves to fly.)

 So we say good-bye to our “furlough home” in Lakeland,  Florida, this past year.  How God has blessed us with love and caring from friends and family! It's been good. 

Thank you everyone! Next letter will be from Burundi, AFRICA!
My Name is Sammy and I am Six Years Old!”


Imagine not being able to say your name. 

As Samuel grows it is more and more frustrating for him to try to communicate and be like everyone else. The electronic ALT-CHAT talking machine, provided for his use by the public school, is giving him confidence. It has hundreds of possibilities for communicating with pictures that translate into a speaking voice to get his ideas across. He loves to push the button that speaks his name and tells his age. 

A friend wrote immediately after hearing about it asking if she could purchase one for Sam to take back to Burundi with him when we leave in June. What a wonderful answer to our need—even before we prayed about it!  Thank you for your continuing prayers for Sammy and all the kids.

Showing  Off Their New Sun Glasses

We thought you might enjoy a childhood moment with our three youngest grandchildren “showing off” their new “cool” sun glasses.  Christopher (in the middle with the captivating smile)just turned four last month; Angel (with the pink shades) was two last September; Andy (flexing his muscles) turned two on New Year’s Day.  These three bundles of energy are dedicated to making sure Melli doesn’t get lonely when Cindy, James, Danny & Sammy are in school—there is never a dull moment when they are awake!
Bikes Hanging Like Bats....

What do you do to keep from stumbling over ten thrift store bicycles in various stages of “functioning decrepitude” ?  Ken solved the problem(as you see in the photo) by hanging them on hooks (as Melli so aptly described) “like so many bats on a wall”.  Ha!  No problem directing people to their house—just look for the carport with all the hanging bikes!

A neighbor gave them a basketball goal that needed only a net to make it complete (well, the plastic tank/base for holding water to stabilize the unit leaked—so Ken anchored it to a tree with ropes) and it serves as a magnet for other kids in the neighborhood after school.
Trophy Time at Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby

Front Row: Sammy, James & Danny Back Row: Ken & Cindy

Melli took this photo just after James and Danny were awarded trophies for the second and third place performances of their hand-fashioned pinewood race cars.  Sammy is not yet a Cub Scout, but is obviously happy to hold up one of the winning racers.

None of the cars have "motors".  The winners are the ones that respond best to the "pull" of gravity as the cars roll down a steeply inclined track.
“Studying At Home" while waiting…

 Lizzie (age 14)           Sarah (age 15)           Carly (age 13)

Sarah and Carly were supposed to return to school in Kenya on January 6, but their flight was cancelled—so the airline booked them to return with Lizzie on the 18th.  Lizzie was unable to go with them on the 6th as she and Cindy have to appear in person for final interview with US Immigration in the process for U.S. Citizenship.  So, they really are studying at home to compensate for arriving two weeks late at Rift Valley Academy.

Thank you for remembering them in your prayers—along with the rest of the family while separated in the coming months.
Johnson Family Photo 2009

Left to right in photo
(front row): Lizzie, James and Christopher, Samuel, Cindy, Carly, Daniel, Sarah (with Angel);
(back row): Ken, Melli (with Andy).

Trick or Treaters

WITH A SPIRIT OF HIGH ADVENTURE Cindy & the older boys donned their costumes ready to invade the neighborhood. Angel and Andy settled for riding in the stroller as we set out Trick or Treating.  When I was a child, we didn’t go to such extremes... I think I colored a paper bag and stuck it on my head with eye holes. My sister Vondria, the artist of the family, won best costume prize when she put green oatmeal on her face and wrapped herself in torn up sheets.

My kids asked, "Mama, what are you going as?" I replied, "I'm going as your spacey, worn out looking mama! If costumes were being judged, I'd probably win!" Actually, we all came back winners with lots of candy to share with Lizzie who chose to stay at home to greet "Trick or Treaters" coming to our home.

Johnson Hillbillies

Even though it may bring them to mind!  Here are the “Burundi Johnsons” with the first load of household furnishings donated by friends at Light & Life Park for their rental house just two blocks from Padgett Elementary School where Cindy, James, Daniel & Samuel attend.  Lizzie will walk Christopher about 3 blocks to Lake Gibson Church of the Nazarene Pre-school on the way to her middle school just across the street from the church.  How about that for God’s Global Positioning System!

Cindy’s arm is in a brace and sling as a result of a tumble off her bicycle—just a simple fracture that is healing nicely.  Thank you for your continuing prayers!
No Horsing Around at School for James This Year
James Horsing Around

Melli mentioned his remarkable change of attitude, but it took the carefully printed note written to me on the day of “Open House” to clinch it and melt my heart:



(The photo on the merry-go-round was taken while visiting Aunt Carol and Uncle David Johnson this summer in Maryland.)
The Johnson Family Parade
The Johnson Cyclists

This photo of the “Johnson Family Parade” was taken without Lizzie (who is joining the family in July at the end of her school term) and Sarah, who was in town with a friend at deadline.  It’s still quite a “line-up”—and Hannah was taking the picture!  In addition to bike riding, there is swimming, miniature golf and tennis—plus the oft-repeated question, “Grandpa, can I drive your golf cart?”  And they keep wondering when they will see an alligator!

Oh, to have some of their seemingly boundless energy!


The Rainbow Centre and the Kigobe Mission are the only two places we know of that regularly distribute milk in Burundi.  The Twizere program at the Rainbow Centre feeds 136 babies per month and the milk project at Kigobe Mission now feeds 140 babies per month.  Yesterday I saw two tiny babies with malformation of the esophagus which hinders them from growing. I struggled with tears wondering if they would survive, and after that all my photos were blurry —I couldn’t focus my eyes or the camera.  But as I was leaving, I took one last photo of a big sister waiting patiently for the milk distribution with her baby sister on her back.  I’m so glad it turned out!  --Melli 

Here is Carly on her 13th birthday (May 1st), celebrating with girlfriends and her chocolate cake!  Her Kirundi name, Ingabire (Inga-beer-ee), means "gift"!  I remember as a young girl in South Dakota that kids made May Day baskets filled with candy and flowers.  I'd take them around to my friends' houses, place the basket on the step, ring the doorbell and then run and hide. When my friend opened the door she'd look around, see me hiding and give chase.  It was a fun tradition, but does anyone do this anymore?  It seemed right to name our third baby girl "Carly Mae" and give her the birth date of May Day, since she was a newborn found naked, crying, and alone on the forest floor—waiting to be loved and cherished.  Carly is a dear gift, and is a strong and loyal friend.



Not many seventh graders get to be “up close and personal” with giraffes, orphaned elephants and premature baby rhinos while on a “field trip” with their mother during midterm break.  Of course, (unless you’re a “missionary kid”) not many attend boarding school fifteen hundred miles from home!

Sarah and Carly have been home schooling diligently with their volunteer teacher, Christy Jones, and are excited about rejoining their classmates at RVA this fall.  Not sure yet whether Cindy will be accepted, but she’s hoping!

Thank you for keeping Ken, Melli and each of the children in your prayers! 


Meet Wicke (Vicka) WoBner  from Germany as she works in the classroom with Samuel, and Johan Andersson from Sweden who is back-packing” with Christopher.  Vicka spent a year working in a girls’ school in Perth, Australia, but this is her first assignment in Africa.  Johan loves Africa (his fourth time of volunteer service), enjoys learning different languages and came “hoping there is lots to do in Ken’s shop that I can help with! ”Melli’s comment, “Both of them fit into our family hullabaloo’ and are helping so much!  We just love them!”
2008 Family Photo

Left to right in family photo on other side (front row): Cindy, Sarah, Melli
(with Angel), Ken (with Andy); back row): Lizzie, Carly, James, Daniel,
Samuel, Christopher


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