I'm so glad you found us! We love to share our story of what the Lord is doing in and through our ministry in Kenya. If you are a reader, please click the link on the right-hand side and "Follow Along!" And stop back by anytime! Karibu sana!

Monday, March 31, 2008

New Car....Finally!!!

What a process! I survived my first major purchase in a foreign country! Hopefully, I will not be doing many more. God blessed me with exactly what I need. I am the first owner of this vehicle in Kenya, which is a VERY good thing! Cars take a huge beating on these “roads.” Other than the color, it is exactly what I wanted and what I need. There are not many red cars here, and I don’t really need anything else to make me stick out and be noticed!! But, other than that, it is perfect and I love it!

When I first started looking at pictures of imported cars, it took awhile to get used to the right-hand side steering wheel. Surprisingly, it didn’t take that long to get used to driving on the right hand side, though. Traffic rules, or lack thereof, are a little harder, but I am learning.

I think I was more excited to finally get this car than any other car I’ve bought before. It will make such a difference in what I am able to do here in Kenya. Travel is difficult in Kenya, and scheduling around and depending on other people is even more difficult! (Time doesn’t really exist here.)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Animal Orphanage

Dan and I took the boys to the Animal Orphanage a few days ago. Fun times! It is basically a small zoo, but the animals are rescued from around the area. The boys had a great time and they are very well behaved.

Makusia, Sammy, Noshi (Brenan), Derek, Chiba (Timmy), Nicky

Friday, March 28, 2008

I'm responding to Allison's comment from the New Life post just cause it's a good question and I want everyone to know all about New Life!

"Hey thanks for posting those pictures. I can't tell you how eager i am to come and see what they are doing there! I used to work in NICU myself and I'd love to see what they are doing. Are they really sick babies or ones that are stable and just need to stay warm and grow and feed??"

They do use the term NICU loosely. It's really just for the newborns to be more protected, since they are HIV+ upon arrival. They don't need to be subjected to random volunteers, even though they are very strict about the hand washing, etc. They keep all the babies in the NICU until 8 weeks or so, until they are healthy enough to fight off everyday germs. There are two teeny tiny little girls in incubators. It was almost weird to see them in such a "normal" environment. They take the babies to hospital (basically, going to the doctor is referred to as going to the hospital here) when they need to, but they have such great facilities and nurses on staff at all times that they are able to keep them at the site most of the time. Honestly, this place amazes me at the standard of care!!! Especially for Africa!!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Life Home Trust

Can I say how much I love this place?!?! I know there are many more orphanages that are in great need of support – financial, volunteers, training, etc. But, this place has captured my heart! The fact that they take in such tiny, sick, abandoned little babies and nurse them to health in order to provide them with a new family of their own is simply amazing! When I look through the window of the NICU and see some tiny babies in incubators and know that some of the babies in my class were once there, I am encouraged beyond belief.
It is something we don’t hear of often in the States, the fact that these little ones who are HIV+ at birth can become healthy, normal children who are HIV-negative within months. It is such a blessing from the Lord that this organization is provided with the funds to provide such superior health care. There are many orphanages in Kenya, but that is what sets this one apart from most others. It is the financial gifts of others that enable New Life Home to do the amazing work that it does.

I want to thank those of you who have partnered with me financially in ministry in Kenya. Through that, we are able to contribute to the needs of New Life Home. Albeit a somewhat small contribution in the whole scheme of what it takes to run such a ministry, we are able to know exactly what our gifts contribute towards! And, this place cannot run without the help of many volunteers. I am blessed to be able to be a regular volunteer in the baby class. Let me introduce you to just a few of those in my class.
These little guys are twins, Mark & Matt, along with volunteer, Nixon, and full-time staff worker, Hellen.

Koros – the biggest in the class, Mr. Personality

Dewey – sweet, Mr. Congeniality (I'll get a better picture later)

George – my little friend, love this sweet little guy! He likes to talk but usually has a serious look on his face.

So, who can imagine that any parent would abandon any one of these precious babies? How desperate must their own circumstance be! And for those who are orphaned, how devastatingly sad that there are no other family members capable or willing to care for them. Granted, these babies are probably better off here than with the families they were born into. They are receiving quality care that their parents would never be able to afford in this country. What a blessing that these babies are fortunate enough to call New Life Home “home” for this time of their lives!

If you would like to be a part of this particular part of ministry in Kenya, you can! It’s easy! Just see the information on the left-hand side of this blog, regarding how to make a contribution. If you would like your entire gift to go directly to New Life Home, please email me so that I can see that the gift given through “Coins for Africa” goes to New Life Home Trust in its entirety. I would be more than happy to do that on your behalf. For all other gifts given, a portion will be going to New Life Home Trust.

Stay tuned to further stories and updates on my little friends at New Life!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Prayer Request - vehicle purchase

I was all set to post about New Life...complete with adorable pictures of the precious babies I get to hold and play with everyday. But, TIA (this is Africa)....once again, internet is not cooperating. :-(

And that leads me to a prayer request. I am in the process of buying a vehicle, which would enable me to go places with better internet more easily, among a host of other things! At this point, the money has been wired from my US account. (Thanks, Kris, my personal business assistant!!! Actually, the do-er rather than the assistant!) It is slow in processing because Friday and Monday are bank holidays here. I should have access to it by the end of the week. Then I will be one step closer to having my own transportation!

The dollar has dropped drastically in the past few weeks!! It is going to continue to do so over the next several weeks as well. That makes buying a vehicle much more difficult. Fortunately, thanks to the Kivuitu's, I have a guy who will allow me to pay in dollars and he will hold them until it rises again! Meanwhile, I get a car at the rate of a few weeks ago!! As soon as my money arrives, he will go to Mombasa and get my car!! Praise God! It is a super-long process....that is the short version. (Well, as short as Trena can be!)

Please pray that the right vehicle will be found, the one that God wants me to have...safe & stable. The guy who is doing it has the vehicle identified and chosen, but may change his mind once he sees it. It has not been driven in Kenya, which is a VERY good thing. Pray for favor as Mwaura works on my behalf. Pray that I will be a good steward of the funds the Lord has blessed me with and that He will honor that and direct us to the right vehicle for me.

Then, I will be free!! I will be able to do so much more....and save a lot of money on taxi fares!!! And I'll be able to get to faster, less frustrating internet!

Swahili Update

I saw a segment on the news the other about the languages Kenyans speak in their homes. In this survey, it was found that 86% of Kenyans speak their vernacular (tribal) language in the home, 13% speak Kiswahili, and 1% speak English. Guess what! Of all the Kenyans in the country, I just happen to live with the 1% that speak English!!!

I wouldn’t trade “my family” for the world, but it does make it a little harder to learn the language. The Swahili that they do speak is not pure Swahili, it is a more casual Swahili spoken in the city.

My language teacher is great, but she is teaching me all the complete grammar of Kiswahili, not a lot of what I would yet use in my daily life. In fact, the family I live don’t really even know or understand what she is teaching me! It confuses them. I know that if/when I go to the coastal region of Mombasa, knowing the more pure Swahili will be very useful. (Isn't that right, Dennis & Allison?) But right now, I do not feel like I am making a lot of progress. It is slow. Or maybe I’m just slow!

Anyway, I am thinking about talking to one of the university students I volunteer at New Life with about tutoring me in “real life” Swahili…ordering/buying food, shopping at the market, directions around town, etc. That would also be a great ministry opportunity! I am beginning to connect with the volunteers. We are beginning to build relationships, and I am praying that the Lord will continue to work in those relationships and that their hearts will continue to open to Him. They have an openness, while still being reserved. The opportunity to spend even more time through language tutoring could be a great tool for the Lord to continue to open doors and hearts.

Please pray with me for direction in this decision. I know that my current teacher is in great need of the money for the lessons. I hate to deny her that. But, I also see the opportunity in going the other direction with the university student. Please pray for discernment for me, as well as the opportunity itself.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A VERY LONG one, but worth reading!! :-)

Remember the church near El Doret, Kenya that was torched, killing many women and children inside? It was heart-breaking. Appalling.

Earlier this week, I heard the pastor of that church tell about his experience. What an amazing testimony! Just the day before, on Dec. 30th, he preached to his congregation from Psalm 91. Prior to the immediate violence in that small village outside of El Doret, emotions were running high and tension was thick in the air. Fear was beginning to grip the people. This pastor, and most of his congregation were of the Kikuyu tribe, living in the heart of Kalenjin land. Things were beginning to get scary for them. They had seen what had begun to happen across the land.

As Pastor Buru tried to encourage his congregation, he offered hope of protection from the Lord Almighty. The Lord gave Him Psalm 91 to share with his people. The entire chapter was amazingly applicable, but he focused on these verses:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust…’
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by night.” (Psalm 91:1-2, 5)

The following day, people from a nearby village came there seeking refuge. By 11:00am, the church was filled with over 100 people, mostly women and children from surrounding areas.

As these people sought refuge in that Assemblies of God church, they were surrounded by a mob of 300-400 angry young men. As the mob descended on the church, people panicked. Some simply ran for their lives, some froze in fear. The attackers were attacking with pangas (machetes), with bows and arrows, with clubs. They were intent on torching anything belonging to Kikuyus. Essentially, their intent was on bringing them harm, killing them, seeking revenge for years of pent-up anger for being cheated out of their land. Knowing that the church was housing hundreds of their now enemies, it was prime target. Without question, they set it afire.

Refugees inside tried to flee. As some ran, others went inside to rescue their children and loved ones. As Pastor Buru was running towards the door, he passed a window and heard children calling out to him, “Pastor, pastor!” He began to pull out children, one by one. With each one he picked up, he looked, hoping to see one of his own four children. Rather than going inside to look for them, he knew he could not leave those waiting to be lifted out, so he continued.

Within minutes, men surrounded him. He was an obvious target. They wanted him dead. Not only was he of the “wrong” tribe, he was sheltering hundreds more. As he was surrounded, the mob was attacking anyone in sight. He looked around, seeing bow and arrows everywhere. He knew he was going to die. But he kept thinking about his sermon just the day before. He prayed, “Lord do not let me die by the arrow that flies by day. I cannot bear for my people to see that. They need to know that You are faithful to Your Word.” As he lay on the ground, having been beaten with a club, he saw the ground burning towards him. The men lit the fire with the intention of burning him to death. Moments later, he blacked out and the attackers left him to burn.

The fire died out before it reached him. He woke hours later in the hospital. He immediately asked about his wife and children. All had survived. In fact, not one of his church members had died in the fire, or in any other attack. Granted, many others did, but none of his congregation who had heard the Lord’s message of protection the day before had perished in the fire.

So many times in life, we wonder why bad things happen. Why is life so hard? Why do we have to hurt? Kenyans have been asking that question a lot lately!!

We also hear that God has a plan and a purpose in all things. Sometimes that is VERY hard to see! In our own lives, we are faced with financial hardships, illness, difficult family situations, complicated and trying work situations, the list is endless. Yet, we hear that God is in control of it and has a plan to work it for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Pastor Buru is testimony to this. Not only the miracle of his saved life, but also the protection of his family and his congregation. In the midst of that, he lost his home and all of his belongings. Prior to the clashes and violence, he had been experiencing a terribly difficult time. Just before all of this transpired, He had committed to 21 days of prayer and fasting. During this time, He had a list of specific things he had been praying over. He had even included a few of his greatest “wishes” and was committing all things to the Lord. These included things from being able to purchase land to own his own home, to revival and growth in his church, to a very trivial thing of his dream to one day ride in an airplane! He joked that he put that on his list because he knew there was no way that would every happen without the Lord causing it to happen. He was an uneducated man, very poor, and had no means whatsoever to afford such a luxury for sheer entertainment.

In the midst of and in the immediate aftermath of all that had happened, life looked incredibly bleak to this man. He was full of bitterness, hurt and despair. However, he knew his job was to encourage his people. After recovering, he began to visit church members, many of whom had been severely burned and beaten. When he went to the home of one woman whose face was burned to the point of being completely unrecognizable, he realized the state of his own heart. This lady was so full of joy and thankfulness to the Lord for allowing her the second chance to serve Him.

Pastor Buru, immediately sought the forgiveness of the Lord and began to praise Him for his circumstances, calling on Him to work good through the midst of these trials. Over the weeks following this, He was amazed at how the Lord was working. Prayers were being answered left and right.

Not only were so many people saved, but their hearts had been revived at seeing the Lord’s faithfulness. His church members were all completely run out of their village, but he now has an even larger church in the town of El Doret, near their original church.

Someone in the States heard of this man’s plight and sent him money for him to buy land and build his own home. A dream he never thought possible.

And even more…a Minister (government) in Nairobi heard his story and invited him to come see her. (That is a HUGE thing for such an uneducated, poor man!) He was thrilled at the idea, but too fearful to leave his home. This invitation came when things were still incredibly volatile in those areas of Kenya. She said not to worry, she understood, and she was sending a plane and complete escort for him!

God does care for the tiniest detail, even the smallest desire of our heart! We may have to go through the fire to see it or experience the fulfillment of it, but He does care enough to bring us through the hard times and offer hope and blessing on the other side!!

It is very much like the road to Easter. Jesus knew the hardships He would be facing the week before His death, yet He willingly stayed the course. He knew the glory that was to come on the other side!! Sometimes it is hard to walk through the fire, but when we are walking in the Lord’s will, He is faithful. He will bring us through and offer His hope on the other side! What a joy to know we have the ultimate blessing of eternal life through Christ – because Christ endured that hard road.

Because of the hope I have, I want to offer you hope in Christ this week. The time leading up to Easter may be a difficult road, but look forward to Easter Sunday!! WE HAVE HOPE!!! No matter what our circumstances, whether beaten and left to burn at the hands of your enemies or escaping the arrows of the evil one, we have Hope.

Praise be to God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Victor's New Family

I mentioned the other day that I had met a lady at New Life Home who was coming to visit her new son every day. Well, Victor has now gone to his new home with his very own mommy and daddy! It was such a blessing to meet and get to see “the rest of the story!”

This home is filled with beautiful babies! In the room I volunteer in, there are nine baby boys from 3 – 7 months. The NICU, which has the babies from birth until they are healthy enough to be in this older class, now has six babies. Knowing that these babies are not only nursed back to health from a very bleak beginning of life, but are also given the opportunity to have a new life with a real family is simply amazing! This is a home for abandoned and orphaned HIV babies. Who would guess that their lives could be so turned around to be offered such hope! This is something I wish everyone could see and be a part of! It is a great picture and reminder of the new life each of us are offered in Christ!

I go to New Life Home every day at 11am. I invite you to pray with me for this wonderful place that offers hope, healing, and a home to these babies, as well as for the many caregivers who are loving these children every day.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I love English!

I know it's not the greatest language, but I KNOW it!!!

I've never learned a new language before. It's hard! I did take Spanish in school, but we went at a much slower pace!!! Three hours a day is a LOT of information!!!! And, I like to really know one thing before moving on to something else. That's not possible at the pace! But, I've been assured I will learn it. I hope so! My head is about to explode!!!! Three hours with my teacher then studying for several more hours a day! It's been a long time since I had to study something. There's a reason I never had the desire to get my master's!!!!!

So, in case you're wondering...learning Swahili is filling most of my time now. Since I did not go away to language school, I am trying to focus hard on it now.

My schedule works great for now. I have Kiswahili lessons from 8-11:00, then go to New Life Home at 11:00. I spend a few hours there before going back home to study. I think that will be my routine for at least the next month. Nights are always busy doing something with some part of the family.

I LOVE going to New Life Home. If you read any of my blog last summer, it is the same place I talked about then, the AIDS/HIV orphanage. I had a video of it up for a long time. Maybe I'll find it again and re-post it.

Friday, March 7, 2008


This week has been good to relax and get re-acclimated to Kenya. I'm so glad to be here!

Next week, I'll get busy. One of my main focuses for the first month is learning the language and getting around Nairobi. I do know my way around pretty well, but I want to feel very confident before I eventually start driving myself around alone.

I start Kiswahili lessons on Monday. I will have my own teacher, Hellen. She is going to incorporate Rosetta Stone, which I already have, for my homework so I can still use the program and do it at home! I will go to Baptist Mission on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the lessons. Eventually, she will take me out - to the market, driving, etc. - so we can use it in real-life. I'm looking forward to it! I do know some Swahili, but it will be good to work with someone who will help me bring it all together and not be afraid to use it. I have the words floating around in my head, but when it comes to actually saying them in conversation or answering questions in Swahili, I freeze!

On Tuesday and Thursday, I will go to an IDP (Internally Displaced People) camp. I'm excited about this. I know it will be eye-opening. My friend, Shem (Baptist Mission), says what people are wanting most is to have someone to just sit and listen to them. They are frustrated, hurt, angry, and just need to talk. I am more than willing to do that! That sounds great to me, but I'm prepared to do more work there, too. I do look forward to hearing peoples' stories.

Please pray....
- that the Lord will put me in the place He wants me to serve, and that I will hear and be receptive to His leading.
- for continued safety and protection. I'm learning to get around Nairobi alone....even downtown! It's going great, so far.
- for the people of Kenya. Although peace has been restored and things are relatively calm (VERY much so in Nairobi), many are still hurting and displaced. EVERYONE has been affected by the turmoil and violence over the past months, whether directly or indirectly.
- that I would be discerning in knowing how to best help those in need, and there are many! Though there were before, there are even more now. May all my actions, my time, my funds be spent in the way the Lord directs.

...and may all be done to the glory and praise of our Lord, Jesus Christ!!

Today's lunch...it multiplies!!!

Food. Food in Kenya. Lots of people at home ask about it. “What do you eat there?” Today’s lunch…Actually, I had already eaten when I remembered I wanted a picture, so this is Mr. Mayoli’s, but I ate the same thing. Much less.

It’s rice with green grain beans (lentils) and shredded cabbage. First of all, I’m not a fan of rice. It’s a texture thing. The lentils and cabbage isn’t too bad…at first.

So, I put some in my dish. Just a little. The house help who cooks the food is almost offended by how little. It grew. The first few bites aren’t bad. But then I swear it multiplies! As I’m chewing, it doesn’t seem to go away. I’m watching TV and realize that it’s still in my mouth! You know how it’s a little harder to swallow something you don’t really like? That’s it. And I’m tired of eating it, but look at my dish and it’s still there! Mind you, I barely filled the bottom of my dish (same size as Mr. Mayoli’s – about ¼ of what he had). Obviously, if you know me, you know I have no problem eating! But, this definitely ain’t yer Chic-fil-a!

Anyway, stay tuned…You’ll love the ugali experience!! I think that’s dinner tonight.

Speaking of dinner…last night was fun. I met friends for dinner at Village Market, a very Westernized place. The HFBC team went there for lunch and the Masai Market last year when they were here. We decided to eat at a Chinese restaurant instead of the food court. So…dinner – Chinese food – in Africa – listening to Dolly Parton playing in the background! Fun times.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

So glad to be back!

Precious kids. They love the Spiderman stuff I brought. My mom sent them Spiderman pajamas. I brought a pop-up tent. Fun times.

Sorry, Mom, I can't get the picture of Sammy in his pajamas to upload. :-( I'll email it to you.

I'm in Kenya....Finally!!!!!

I arrived a little before noon Sunday morning. Everything was exactly as I remember it. They had been telling me that things were going on as usual in Nairobi, but seeing it felt great.

It was great to see "the family." They all came over to Tina's (where I stay) for prayer Sunday evening. Nick (Jane's husband) did the devotional...about change. How appropriate on so many levels. It was a great blessing from the Lord to hear words that were directly spoken to what I needed to hear, as well as everyone else. So many changes in Kenya for each of them. Though not directly affected by the post-election violence, all have been indirectly affected...loss of jobs, changes in jobs, loss of house help, etc. Oh, how we are stretched and strengthened by change. God has a perfect plan and purpose in all of it.

So....details....I'm having a harder time adjusting after travel than I've had before. It's typically harder to go the other direction (to the States) but I can't get my sleep schedule down! And, I'm trying to stay awake in the daytime! I went to bed at 10pm last night and lied awake until after 5:30am!!! It was miserable!!!! But I am completely awake and fine during the day. I'm praying it doesn't catch up with me and knock me out in a few days.

Plans as of now....not much this week. Just getting readjusted, spending time with the boys, having fun. Next week, I am considering going on a little trip across Kenya. There is a caravan from the church I attend (Nairobi Chapel) and Nairobi Baptist, and some others, going from Mombasa to Kisumu. If I end up doing that, I will write more about it in a few days. I'm pressed for time right now. I will be talking with someone about that tomorrow. I'm not sure if that is what I need to do, or not. If I do not go, I will still work here with the ground work end of it all. Please pray that the Lord will reveal His plan for me; that I will hear direction from Him as to which way to go.

Thanks for all the prayers and support!! Blessings to you all...
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