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!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's Good to Be Back Home

I had a great time with the Serv team, but I am happy to be back home with my babies.  Can you imagine why?  This is bottle time tonight, just after bathtime, before bed.  The sweetest time of the day.

Jeremiah - Downs his bottle FAST then enjoys time scooting around on the floor.

Hope - Growing! Still in preemie clothes, but growing.  

Elizabeth - Happy Girl makes progress every day. She even holds her own bottle now.
Tracy - always keeping things lively!

Eli - Unfortunately, they can't all be held at bottle time. :-( This sweet boy is really settling in to his new home.
Kate - Another growing baby! She is starting to have a little personality now, too. Precious little one.


 Sleepy Girl, who is now asleep in my bed a few feet away from me. I can hear her sucking her two fingers.
And goodnight kisses to all from Elizabeth...... 


Friday, October 30, 2009

Thank You Serve Team!

The team from Serv Ministries International is here and I am blessed to be with them for a few days.  I met them in Nairobi on Wednesday and they came out to spend the afternoon holding babies at my place.  It was great to have them there, and they of course LOVED our precious little ones.  (The little ones that I am missing terribly, by the way!)

Then, I met them yesterday morning to come to Nakuru with them.  We met one of their partner ministries, Joe and Molly Bail with Springs of Hope.  Joe and Molly are a distribution point for some of the Serv food that comes into Kenya so they have been showing the team a few of their ministry sites, including a Provential hospital (government run) and a local landfill.  

Now, I am STILL blessed to be joining them on a little safari at Lake Naivasha Resort.  I had no idea how much I needed a day away with no house responsibilities at all.  This is one of the biggest blessings I've been privileged to receive in a long time.  They are an amazing group and getting to spend time with them is an honor.  

Our evening ended with a walk down to the lake, a boat ride up close & personal with the hippos, then a little safari walk to stroll amidst the wildebeast, gazzelle, zebra, and my favorite....giraffes!!!  The giraffes were simply amazing, a beautiful sight. their long necks were sillouetted by the sunset. I could sit and watch a giraffe walk for hours. 

Thank you, Serv Ministries, for this wonderful gift!  I have had a blast with y'all! 

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday, dear Mama
Happy Birthday to you
(And if you know how much I hate the "Happy Birthday" song, you know I will get big bonus points for singing it to her.)

I love you muchly, Mom! 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Goodbye Jackie-O!!

The awesome Jackie is leaving today and we are all so very sad.  :-( 

with her boy, Jeremiah
 Jackie has been here since June.  She hit the ground running and has been on the go ever since.  She was supposed to go out to Haven on the Hill as soon as she arrived in Kenya, but rather than taking her there, I kidnapped her and kept her here with me to help us move into the baby house days after she arrived.  

 feeding Kate at Westgate Mall the day we picked her up

Since the babies came to Haven of Hope, Jackie has been a life-saver.  Rarely do Jackie and I leave the house without a baby or two.  I could not have done half the things I've done without her, or at least not as easily!  She is great with the babies and so helpful as she even teaches the staff.  
with 3 day old Baby Joy
And the best part - Jackie is hilarious!  I've had my own comic relief on hand 24 hours a day.  She has made some very frustrating moments a lot more bearable! 

holding the little Eli (8 weeks) the night we brought him home
I am SO blessed to have had Jackie here.  She was an awesome worker with an incredible attitude.  I think she is one of the most grounded, mature 20 year olds I have ever met.  Although that is also her excuse for doing anything stupid and it comes in handy when she wants it to: "I'm 20."   

with MY baby Julia, sometimes I share. And Julia loves Auntie Jackie
Well, okay "20," THANKS for everything!  I will miss you greatly!!  Don't forget to send me CDs!  The babies and the girls will miss you too.  Oh, and Emmanuel, well......  Just remember the forrest conversation if you fleeting moments of wanting to be a Maasai.  

with her Maasai brothers

Goodbye Auntie Jackie!  We will miss you!  See you in December.  :-)

And if anyone in the Houston areas would like to meet the famous Jackie, you can come hear her speak at HCO's Evening of Thanks and Giving on December 5th. 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Joshua Update

Thanks for your prayers for Joshua from Haven on the Hill.  He was treated for pneumonia and had a very quick recovery.  Praise God!  He and Naomi are now home with the rest of the boys.

Friday's Favorites

Today's Five Favorite Finds at the Maasai Market

Christmas is coming! Yea!  Only two months, two days away!

Gourd Nativity
Tiny figurines inside crafted from dried banana leaf 

Banana Leaf Santa Ornament

Carved Log Nativity

Maasai Beaded Christmas Tree & Ornaments

Banana Leaf Nativity Set
These tiny figurines are crafted out of dried banana leaf in great detail, embellished with tiny seeds, sticks and pieces of straw   

These and/or similar items will be sold at the HCO Benefit Dinner in Houston on December 5th.  If you are in the area, plan to come. If you are not on our mailing list and would like more info, please go to the HCO website. www.HisCherishedOnes.org

The Maasai Market Experience

Today was a venture to the Maasai Market.  Friday's Maasai Market is a bit of cultural tug-of-war taking place at one the nicest, most Westernly developed shopping centers in East Africa. From driving onto the Village Market premises, once might feel you are in America....fighting for a parking spot, walking through the beautifully architecturally landscaped foodcourt, strolling up the corridors of the mall-like shopping center  and landing in the covered parking where the Maasai Market is held.  There, you return to a little taste of Africa.

The market is made up of rows and rows of vendors and artists with their various crafts and goods laid out on the ground. Their "spaces" are not at all spacious and the vendors are usually squished into sitting in the middle of their goods. Those chosing not to cramp into their space are dutifully taking their place in the already crowded aisle so that they can demonstrate their ever-effective sales tactics to the hundreds of tourists perusing over the Kenyan art and artifacts.

I used to love the Maasai Market, but the newness and fun wore off about a year ago. By "fun" I mean the relentless badgering of the determined and persistent vendors calling out their mantra of sales tactic phrases to the passersby. 
"Sista, come see what I have." 
"Karibu." (Welcome) 
"Looking is free. Touching is free." 
"Mama, I have something for you, just what you are looking for." 

And all that "fun" comes before even stopping to examine something in particular.  Now, that is where the real fun begins.  They will of course begin with a phrase like, "I give you a very good price," followed by the quote of an outrageous price that no one in their right mind would consider. Thus, beginning the bartering war.  As soon as you speak a little Kiswahili, especially using number words, the price will go down.  Even if you are not a resident, they will usually say they will give you "resident prices."  All a horrible display of sales tactics.  It can be entertaining for awhile.  A fun game.  It then turns into an annoying battle of bargaining over and over and over.  I always have to remind myself that these people are just trying to make a living themselves. 

Today's Maasai Market experience was surprisingly fun again. Several contributors to that were that I went alone and had a list.  Well, I wasn't actually alone.  My friend Jennifer went with me, but she is a resident and not in need of any sort of assistance so that pressure was off. And a list. That's the only way to go (for me, anyway).  I went to the vendors I know, got exactly what I was looking for and at the prices I had set in my mind.  Having my little notebook with my list, including the prices I would pay and how many I needed turned out to be a lifesaver! My standard answer became "Sorry. You are not on my list," which was usually followed by a chorus of other vendors poking their heads around to ask, "Am I on your list?"

All in all, I had one of the better Maasai Market experiences than I have in a long time!  And I got a jump-start on my shopping for things to take home for the holidays!  I believe today constitutes as a successful day.  Whew!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Here's the Story of Hope

I introduced her as "Faith," but have been referring to her as "the baby" while we were waiting to find out her real name and story.  It turns out that she was not named Faith by her parents. I was told by the childrens officer who referred her to us that they just gave her that name the day we picked her up so that they could do the paperwork.  (Faith is a very common baby name here.)  

So, as I prepare for the guardianship papers to be processed, I have decided to call her Hope.  I know, it is similar to Faith, but the name Hope carries such significance to her, to her place in this world and to her place in this home, Haven of Hope.  

So, meet Hope. Three weeks old, 5.0 lbs. She is wearing Preemie clothes (Thanks, Auntie Bev!) and you can see she still has room to grow in them.

Hope's Story
Hope's mother died in childbirth. She was then abandoned. We have two conflicting reports: one from the District Children's Department and one from the Police Department where she was found.  Crazy, isn't it?  Par for the course for Kenya!
One report says that her mother died, the family came and took the body of the mother and left the baby.  The other report says that the baby was found on the ground at a plot, meaning a plot of land, and then taken back to the hospital.  Either way, it is believed that the family was most likely aware of the doctor's report of a heart lesion and were afraid of the implications and their ability to care for her, so they decided to abandon her.  

Once she was stable and released from the hospital, the district police took her to Nairobi Children's Home.  That was the day we showed up to get Eli. I sat while the social worker was telling me about this baby, overwhelmed with emotion. On one hand, the "unknown" was frightening, wondering how I would care for this baby if I chose to take her.  On the other hand, the "known" was a settled reality in my heart: that God gave me the vision for this home and called me here for the purpose of carrying out His will.  The vision for this home was to take the small babies that no one else would take, regardless of the circumstance; to provide a home for babies who needed one and offer them the hope of a future.  I have said countless times that we may not be able to care for many babies, but we would provide quality care for the ones God entrusted to us.  There is no way the Lord would call me to do this and not be the One to provide for these babies....no matter the circumstance.  As I tried to weigh the options, I realized there were no "options."  There was no way I could walk away from this little one, leaving her in a place where I was told that they would "wait to see if she would live or die."  They had no way to provide any medical care and would therefore not take any measures to inquire of more details.

In my heart, I knew I was supposed to take this baby out of that place.  If she turned out to be perfectly healthy, great! Why wouldn't we want to take a perfectly healthy two week old into our home?  If she turned out to have a problem, why wouldn't I take her?  Isn't that exactly what God asked me to do...take the babies no one else would care for?  Her own family obviously chose not to keep her. And what hope of a future would she have at NCH, especially with the unknown health factor?

This baby is in our home now with a true hope of a future. Because of God's faithfulness in showing Himself as Jehovah Jireh, our Provider, we are able to be a part of giving this gift to Hope.  She is here, safe and sound.  And though I believe her heart lesion is a simple heart murmur that she will outgrow, I know that God is her Healer, her Jehovah Rapha. What others, like her own family, might have seen as an obstacle in being able to care for Hope, I know that it is a testament to God's sovereignty and provision over her life. He has a plan for her.  His plan offers her hope and a future. 

How blessed, honored and humbled I am that God allows me to have a part in that! As I sit here writing this, Hope is sleeping on the couch next to me.  I look forward to seeing His faithfulness played out in front of our eyes as this little baby grows to become a healthy, strong, beautiful little girl.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Please Pray for Joshua

Joshua is one of the boys at Haven on the Hill, the first children's home I worked with. 

Joshua has been admitted to the hospital here in Nairobi for pneumonia. If you know this place, it has to be fairly serious for people to be admitted. Naomi, the auntie, took him to the local clinic, then to the hospital in the nearest town. When they wanted to admit him, she left there and brought him immediately to Gertrude's Children's Hospital in Nairobi. Naomi is with him and says he already seems to be doing much better. I talked to the nurse this morning and she says he is greatly improving.

If you were "around" in April, you will remember John, our oldest boy.  He died from complications from malaria/meningitis. He was also taken to the hospital in the nearby town where Naomi took Joshua.  He died there within 36 hours. Needless to say, no one wanted Joshua to stay there. Naomi was also the one with John and she is quite nervous now. The boys at the home are asking questions, wanting to know if Joshua is coming back or if he is dying like John. It is hard for little ones to understand.

I truly believe that Joshua will be fine. I will be going there before noon today to check on him. Things just seem a little more scary when we think of past experiences. 

Please pray for:
* Joshua - healing in his body; that his lungs would clear quickly,
* Naomi - for peace as she cares for Joshua, that she would not fear,
* the boys at home - that they would not worry,
* Janice, the founder of the home - she is in the US and is of course very nervous as well.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Trip to Maasai Land

Our askari (security guy), Emmanuel, is a true Maasai Moran (warrior). We love having him around as our protection!  As a Moran, he has killed lions, buffalo, elephants, rhinos.  I have no doubt that he can take care of us!  
Emmanuel's family, living in the heart of Maasai land is experiencing the drought of Kenya first hand. Before the drought, they had over 400 cattle.  They now have 22.  They have no food and no money for food.  Their story is the norm for the Maasai living in Kenya.  We wanted to help them.  And Jackie is about to leave and she has been dying to go to Maasai land!  (She thinks she is part Maasai.)

We went to visit them on Friday, taking along food for the families in his home.  Jeremiah, who LOVES his Maasai uncles, went along with us.  He is always fascinated by the cool sounds they make as they sing to him.  Friday, he got a serious dose of Maasai!  
Emmanuel's family was happy to have us.  The little ones were fascintated with our white skin and the adults were thrilled as well.  They spoke no English and very little Kiswahili. Emmanuel translated when they welcomed us and when I shared with them.  

They were so appreciative of our presence and the food we brought them. I really want to go back soon.  A little food goes a long way for people who are truly in need. I LOVE this job!  It is so fun to be a part of this and to get to help in some small way.  Truly, one of the best experiences I have had in Kenya.   

We even ended with sharing some sodas, and just in time for the school children to come home and get the treat.

It was an amazing day and I can't wait to go back!!  If you would like to give a specific donation gift for food for the Maasai people, go to the HCO website (http://www.hischerishedones.org/) and click on the "Donate" tab.  Please designate "Maasai" when you give online through Network for Good or send directly to HCO.  I will keep you updated on my next visit and send pictures of how your gift was given to make a difference in the lives of these amazing people.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Welcome Faith and Eli!

I went to pick up a two month old baby boy today from Nairobi Children's Home.  I came home with him.....and a two week old baby girl. They are Dennis Elijah (who we will probably call Eli) and Faith.

Please pray for Faith as she may have a heart defect.  All I know at this time is that she has a "heart lesion" which could be something as simple as a heart murmer.  No matter what it is, I knew I had to get her out of that place. A place where she truly had no hope.  Their action plan was to just "wait to see if she will be fine or die."  Nairobi Children's Home is a government run home that, as of today, has 92 children, 5 staff caretakers, and one volunteer caretaker.


Abandoned Baby.  He was found in a park by a lady who exploited him.  She walked around with him asking for money to feed her baby.  Someone who knew she did not have a child reported it to the Children's Department and he eventually was taken to Nairobi Children's Home.


Orphaned/Abandoned Baby.  Her mother died at childbirth.  The family came and took the mother's body but left the baby.  She was being held in the hospital due to health concerns and during that time, no one came to see or take her.  At two weeks (yesterday) she was discharged and taken by the local police to Nairobi Children's Home.

Praise God for giving us the opportunity to help these two babies whose lives have not started out under the best of circumstances.  We pray that He will continue to guide us and provide for the needs of caring for these sweet little ones.  What a privilage to be a part of what the Lord is doing!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Julia's First Taste of Chocolate

Jackie and I made brownies this afternoon. Jackie thought Julia needed to try some. Julia is definitely my girl - loves brownie batter! 

Since she spent her first months in a Kenyan government run children's home, she certainly did not get any chocolate there!  So here is her first taste and she loved it! 

"Ni tamu sana!"
"Got any more?"

Monday, October 12, 2009

Old News and Pictures from Heshima

I just realized that I never posted about one of my favorite Heshima moments! Heshima is the center for special needs that I work with.  My "job" for the past (almost) year has been the Education Coordinator, but my main focus is the relationships I have been building as I have been discipling some of the staff. I have also had the desire to do outreach into the surrounding community.

The founder, Tracey Hagman, intentionally opened the center in the slum area for the purpose of reaching children with special needs living in dire conditions.  (Heshima is in the Ngando slum, located between Nairobi and Karen.) It is also our desire for the surrounding community to recognize these children as valuable and worthy of our support and respect; they were created by God for a purpose. 

I have also had the disire to use Heshima as a platform for otureach into the community.  We are there to offer hope to the children of Heshima because of God's great love for us.  We want to pass that on, not only to our own children but to all those around us.  

When I had the opportunity to involve a mission team in the ministry of His Cherished Ones, I knew which door God was waiting to open for us.This team coming from Houston was more than willing to participate.  They brought some fun things and organized games that instantly drew a crowd of children.  


Within a short time, the crowd of children grew the attention of adult and we soon had a crowd of adults as well.  The team was able to share the Gospel in a variety of ways to several different groups.


In addition to the spiritual, we were also able to help meet the physical needs of many by doing a feeding outreach. I have some wonderful friends at Serv Ministries International  http://www.servintl.org/ who generously donated food to feed over 200 people. 


The staff of Heshima and and Haven of Hope worked diligently to prepare a LOT of food and the team from Houston worked feverishly to serve it.  


Once again, what a blessing to be a part of such an amazing time! And the greatest of all was that we were able to celebrate as we welcomed new sisters in Christ in the family of God! No greater joy that that!
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