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, July 27, 2009

Going Out

That is exactly what we want to do at Haven of Hope, the HCO Baby Center. Go out. Yes, of course we want to help the babies and be a safe home for them, but it is not all about this one house on the his one compound.

Our desire is to love and reach out the community around this home. God has placed us here for a reason and we want those around us to know Him and the hope He offers. We must go out from here.
A team from Houston's First Baptist is here now and I am honored that they came to join us for a few days. They also spend a day at Heshima. On Saturday they came to the house to do some outreach into our community. We have been here less than a month and I have been too busy to take the time to go out and meet neighbors. This was the perfect opportunity. I bought about 100 loafs of bread for the team to pass out.
The objective was to go out and tell people that we are here because of God's love. He loves us, He loves them. Because the cost of bread has gone so high, what used to be a staple food, even out here in the rural areas, is now a special treat. We wanted to reach out to our neighbors and give the bread as a reminder that the Lord does provide for their every need. He cares for them enough to not only bring/provide the basics of life but He also wants to bless them with special gifts - the most special gift being that of eternal life in Christ!

The team split into groups. Some stayed at the house to play with the kids who had come from around. Others went out with one of our staff. It was so cool to see how everyone fanned out from this central location, going out into every direction. No one was given any direction of exactly where to go, but as we walked back home I noticed groups coming from literally every direction. Once again I was blown away by God's sovereignty and how He orchestrates our every step!

Glory to God....two of our neighbors accepted Christ and are now new believers in the Faith! Our Ministry Assistant, Joshua, was with the team is excited about following up with them this week. Praise God!

Please pray for the ministry of His Cherished Ones and the work of the Baby Center. May we always be following Christ, taking the message of Hope outside our wall, be willing and ready to....

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ordinary Day

This Ginny Owens song seems to be the theme of my life in recent months, and proved to be true again today.

I've lived a lot of life, seen so many things
And I'd like to think, nothing surprises me
So I try to take it all in stride
No matter what tomorrow brings

But Your plans for me aren't predictable
And I find Your dreams so incredible
Never commonplace and in so many ways
Always wild and wonderful

Oh, You keep me guessing
Holding on tight for the ride of my life
With You all I can say is
There's no such thing as an ordinary day

Since You write the script I must confess
I don't have a clue what will happen next
Takes my breath away; takes a lot of faith
Cause I don't know what to expect

Every time a new adventure unfolds
I realize I'm not the one in control

Oh, You keep me guessing
Holding on tight for the ride of my life
With You all I can say is
There's no such thing as an ordinary day

Oh how true that is to me! The ride I am on right now is an adventure I never dreamed of. And life if Africa is anything but predictable. Truly, I never know what to expect on a given day.

As usual, today was one of those days.

I got a call from Christine, the Childrens Officer at Nairobi Childrens Home. She said she would like me to come and "peruse" the list and bios of children to identify the ones who fit our profile. That was a bit of a surprise as when we went with Janice, there was no choice of who we would take. In fact, Janice tried to get other boys but that wasn't even an option.

When we arrived, Christine was with someone and had a few others waiting to see her. She put us in her office. I would usually be annoyed at the situation, thinking that she was putting us off, but for some reason this did not feel that way. When she eventually came in, she sat and seemed to be totally focused on us. That may not sounds like a big deal to you, but in doing business with a government official, I find that very rare.

After we talked for awhile, she showed us the list of all the children in their homes. It included ages, gender, how long they have been in the home, family status, placement, and more. She asked me to look at the list and see which we would like to take. After identifying a few of them, she took us back to the rooms to look at all of them. I cannot tell you how surprised I was at her giving us so much freedom in "choosing" which babies we would like. It all just seemed too easy.

The actual experience of seeing these babies, knowing that they could soon be ours was overwhelming. I will tell the stories of each of them and how God identified them a little later.

I knew that we would not be able to take them with us because we are still waiting on the letter of approval from our District Childrens Officer. If you have read the previous posts, I believe I mentioned that we need to take a request from a Childrens Officer (CO) who wants to place babies in our care to our District CO and then he will release the letter. Well, our CO is the man who is difficult to deal with. However, when we met him last Friday it was obvious that the Lord was showing favor on us. He was completely pleasant and more helpful and positive than every before. So, that gave us a glimmer of hope in thinking he might help us out and move quickly in this situation.

Christine told us that she could have the children ready to go by tomorrow morning if we can get the letter from our Childrens Officer by then. After leaving her, we called him and told him we had been with another Childrens Officer who wanted to place babies with us.

Well, things are never as easy as they could be. Our CO informed us that we have a new CO who will be the one to release the letter. Though we have known for months that this would happen it was still a bit of shock to find that it had finally happened - on Wednesday. He said he would have to brief the new guy before he does anything, and he said he is too busy now and would try to get to it next week.

So close, yet so far.

At this point, we have identified the babies that we could potentially get but are back to the waiting game. Although the babies are ready and waiting, we must first wait on the government to do its job....and that could take awhile. What a roller-coaster ride!

Just another Ordinary Day. It does take a lot of faith. I'm not sure I always have enough. But I know He is faithful and His timing is perfect.

The rest of today included....
* waking up at Brackenhurst where we stayed the night with the HFBC team,
* taking some time to check internet/email/do a little business,
* eating breakfast while answering multiple calls from our two security guys, my ministry assistant, and Sam from Flomina,
* driving back to Nairobi,
* going to Nairobi Childrens Home,
* going to Java (again!) for lunch/dinner/internet,
* shopping for tomorrow's ministry day of HFBC at the HCO Baby Center,
* stopping in the rain to "shop" for lawn chairs we have been trying to get for weeks,
* meeting with Joshua to schedule security guys' off days and plan for tomorrow's ministry,
* trying to start laundry and realizing that the staff used all the expensive machine detergent to handwash everything but mine and Lisa's personal clothes, and
* returning home to find WE FINALLY HAVE POWER BACK!!!! Woo hoo! What an end to an "Ordinary Day."
NO, WAIT - there's more!
Just after clicking the "Publish Post" button, I come back to add....
* water drops onto my laptop from my leaking roof as I sit on my bed.

So, after moving my bed into the middle of the room to avoid getting rained on, I am off to sleep, looking forward to what new adventures may unfold tomorrow, another Ordinary Day.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Putting Out Fires

Lisa and I had planned to stay home today. Okay, well, LISA had planned for us to stay home today. She is always on my case to make me slow down. A few weeks ago she declared Thursday as our weekend day in an effort to make us take a day off from "work." So far, it hasn't.

There was nothing pending today so we decided to stay home and unpack a few boxes, work on staff job descriptions (which proved to be too late), do some paperwork/budget/etc, decorate the babies' rooms, etc.

Good thing we were home because it turned out that I needed to be around to do those "boss" things....the things I have dreaded since this project began. God has definitely given us a staff of wonderful individuals but it still takes awhile to gel as a team. Add on top of that the language barriers and differences in cultures and it magnifies.

Note for future reference:
"Assistant" (as in "my assistant") translates to: "no one important"
"Manager" translates to: "we will do anything he tells us to do"

I learned that the hard way today. I have a wonderful man working for me. His name is Joshua and he is the "everything" man - takes care of the grounds, helps with the staff, assists in so many ways. At some point during our beginnings this past month, our iscari (security watchman) began to have issues with Joshua. He told me that he did not want to talk to him or listen to him. I explained many times that he would have to; that we would all have to learn to work together. He did not like that. I explained that Joshua was "my assistant" and they must work as a team. We have done many things together (dinner, etc) and I thought things were going pretty well.

We finally had to have a "come to Jesus meeting" this morning, which lasted a few hours. At some point in the conversation (taking place in Kiswahili, so I was just getting the jist of it, not every word), the whole feeling in the room changed. It was the strangest thing. I heard the word "manager" and all of a sudden everything was fine. then, tom began to get angry with me, saying it was all my fault because I never told him that Joshua was his manager. Suddenly, he understood why Joshua was telling him what to do. Apparently, I had failed to use the correct word.

We do have a great staff. Please pray that we continue to mesh as a family. Other than Tom, the iscari, everyone seems to be perfectly happy and have no problems. Even now, he is much better.

Pray for wisdom for me as I manage the staff. This is new to me, and it is not a role I enjoy. But God equips those He calls and He is faithful.

Today consisted of....
* meeting Jared to trade cars back,
* picking up Lynette (one of our staff) to bring her to the home,
* going to get my friend Nellie (Heshima teacher) to spend the day with us,
* being met by the iscari guys who wanted to discuss things,
* being pulled in several directions as everyone needed to "discuss" something,
* having spontaneous staff meeting,
* organizing the cleaning schedule for the ladies,
* finding we now have NO WATER because power is STILL OUT and can't pump water to the tank,
* ordering bookcases at the furniture shop,
* getting wood stain to repair our new furniture,
* picking up Lillian (from Heshima) to go celebrate her birthday dinner and dessert at java House,
* going home to find (the hard way) that our wonderful staff had made sure we have (more than enough) water in our apartment by placing buckets FULL of water all around. They are hard to see in the DARK - because we still have NO POWER.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Welcome Tyson and Hezekial

Haven on the Hill got two new boys today. It was such a blessing to be a part of giving these boys a new home, a real home.

Being the Director of Haven on the Hill has been a wonderful experience. I have been there over a year now. It was my first time of working with a children's home and I have learned a great deal. Today I was able to learn the process of accepting new children into the home. Good timing...we are ready to do that for HCO!

In fact, we were supposed to be meeting with the Children's Officer (CO) today to do just that.

We were going to Nairobi Children's Home to pick up our new boys. Janice and i had talked to Christine, the CO, about the new boys and about HCO's new Baby Center. I was excited about both.

Well, in true Kenyan form, nothing goes as planned. It took us (Lisa and myself) about an hour and half to get to Janice's place. We arrived, but the other people meeting there had not. By the time we were loading in the car to go, Christine called and said she had to leave for a meeting. She was leaving the paperwork with a colleague and the boys would be ready to go. That was great for that part, but I hit another wall of discouragement as we would no longer be able to discuss the possibility of us getting the babies for the HCO Baby Center. But God is sovereign still.

When we arrived, Janice and I went in to meet with the Director of the home, Pilot. He gave the boys' bios and case histories. I had complete peace that these were the perfect boys for Haven, although they did not fit Janice's discription or profile of the boys she wanted. She tried to get him to give us different boys, but it seemed the Lord wanted us to have these two particular ones. It was amazing as we watched them throughout the day as they warmed up to us. Yes, they belong at Haven. They will be great brothers for Kevin, Joshua, Godfrey and Baby (not a baby anymore) James.

Hezekial - age 5 or 6 (although Pilot tried to change his age to 7, almost 8 when Janice told him he was too young for what she wanted) and Jackie. He is a very sweet boy. He was very shy and quiet at first. He has a cold and doesn't feel well right now. After a while of being with us and getting comfortable, his little personality came shining through! He is a very playful little guy. He will do great at Haven!

Jackie is holding him. Jackie came to work with us until the end of October. She arrived in June and is spending this first month at Haven, then will spend time working at Haven and at the HCO Baby Center. She is amazing! Everyone loves her! I'll write more about her later....I'm SURE she will come up again!

TYSON - age 3, we think, and Lisa. Tyson was living in a home that was shut down. Ironically, it was a home that some good friends of mine had volunteered at and worked to help shut down. Tyson was actually named for my friend, Stuart Tyson (goes by Tyson). He was found and dropped at his former home. when he was found, he was a tiny little guy, all alone, standing at a stage (public transport stop) with his small bag. When the home was shut down, most kids were returned to their biological families. The remainder were all girls who were taken to live at Acacia House, which is a girls home started by my friends, Liz and Stu (Tyson). They obviously could not take him because he is a boy. I remember Liz calling me while I was at home in the States and telling me about him, asking if we could take him. We were not prepared to do that at the time. Who knew that as we went to Nairobi Childrens Home today that THIS is the boy they would bring out for us?! (Ok, dumb question.) As Janice sat there trying to get a younger boy, I knew in my heart that Tyson needed to come with us. Tyson is a sweetheart with a killer smile. He will also do great at Haven.

Lisa has come to work with me this summer. She is helping me set up the Baby Center and be a "second set of hands." When she first used that phrase when I met her in April, we had no idea who literal that would be! She has been a lifesaver. I cannot tell you how great it has been to have someone with me as I go through this process. What a blessing she has been! Check out her blog.... http:/truthlovegrace.blogspot.com

The whole of today consisted of.....
* driving in traffic for an hour and half to meet Janice and gang at their guesthouse,
* driving an hour to Nairobi Childrens Home, only making one wrong turn!!!
* looking at several stores near Westgate for new clothes for the boys,
* going to the Maasai Market at Westgate for Janice's guests to do souvineer shopping,
* lunch - the first time out for these boys in over a year and they ATE,
* taking the boys to the hospital for intake blood testing (which they said would take 30 minutes - we left two hours later),
* taking Janice and gang back to the guesthouse,
* finding out our electricity was STILL OUT so we stayed there for dinner,
* meeting Okoth (my ministry assistant/grounds manager) in Karen to drive home with us since we were coming back after dark,
* going home to find the painter was still there and needed a ride back to Karen because it was so late that public transport had stopped,
* coming back home again, finding that power is STILL OUT!!!! (Over 24 hours now.) - and by the way, neither of us has washed our hair or had a real shower since being at Flomina. Yuck!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Last Visit to Flomina

Today was a very bittersweet day.

A team from Houston's First Baptist Church is here. They are the reason I first got connected to Flomina. It was good to see them here with the kids. At Flomina, Sam and I talk a lot about HFBC, as they are one of our greatest supporters. However, with so much turmoil going on with the Flomina management and such, it was a day of mixed emotions. We have finally come to the realization that our (HCO's) involvement with Flomina is not a display of good stewardship of our time, resources, or finances. After much prayer and counsel from others (especially William and Jamie from HFBC) we have decided to discontinue our partnership with Flomina. It is very heart-breaking. As we continue to resolve some major issues, dealing with misrepresentation and mismanagement of funds, my biggest prayer is for these beautiful children of Flomina. I have sought the Lord greatly over this situation and He spoke so clearly to my heart a few weeks ago, telling me that HE is their Father. He can care for them far greater than I or any other person can. It is time for me to do what He has set for me to do at this time and let Him be the Caregiver and Provider for these children. That was a hard message for me to hear. I battled defeat, discouragement and feelings of failure. But in the moment of being at Flomina on Monday and seeing all that was going on around me, listening/talking to many people involved, I felt a supernatural peace and release from that area of ministry. Please do continue to pray for the children of Flomina. Here they are, the oldest ones, during my last visit to the home....
Other than that, today consisted of....
* an early meeting with my former landlord to do a walk-through of my old place,

* a short visit with my friend Jennifer who used to be my neighbor, catching up on our ministries and her recent marriage,

* going across town to buy fabric for curtains for the bedroom windows,

* going to Flomina (more about that below)

* meeting Sam from Flomina in Nairobi,

* stopping at Java for lunch/dinner/internet time
* writing job descriptions for HCO staff,

* going home to find that electricity was off! :-(

Sunday, July 19, 2009

So Lost

Hello again! Sorry I have "been so lost," as my Kenyan friends would say.

Yep, it has been a LONG time. I will do my best to catch you up and hopefully you will see WHY I got behind. And, as is my nature, I can't just jump in without filling in the blanks. As the blanks got bigger, the task seemed insurmountable! I have finally taken the plunge and decided to get back on track.
So, here is my attempt at a quick summary of the past few months. But if you know me, you know there is no such things as a "quick" update. In as much of a nutshell as I can make it, here it is...

- As I was working with various orphanages, mainly haven on the Hill and Flomina, God began to reveal some things to me. While working with Flomina and seeing the desperate living conditions that the babies were in, we began to discuss ways to improve the situation. in researching and looking for better places for these babies to be transferred to, I discovered how few places are available for babies. Through there are hundreds of children's homes, very few of them accept children under the age of 3. So, along with several of the people I work with, I began to develop the idea of opening a place that would house these little ones from Flomina until they were old enough and well enough to transition back to the home. This plan would also allow the largest burden to be lifted from Flomina while they took time to get back on their feet and be prepared to take the babies back into their care.

During this time, I had also begun training the staff at Haven on the Hill to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on myself, as was the ultimate goal of that ministry. I LOVE those boys and love being a part of Haven, but it a very long, hard drive my home to there. The drive time is equivalent to driving from Houston to San Antonio, but it is a much more difficult drive - bad traffic, horrible roads. Anyway, Naomi, one of the caretakers, was taking on more responsibility in preparation for me going back to America for a few weeks. it seems God was also doing this as a means of freeing me up to move into other ministry areas He was opening up.

APRIL - I returned home to America to share the story of what God had been doing through His Cherished Ones and the the vision for where I felt the Lord leading in the future of HCO. I shared the idea of the baby house with the baord of HCO and some of our ministry partners. They were all very supportive of the idea and willing to participate.

Meanwhile, as I began to explore the idea it became even more clear to me that this was the direction the Lord was leading. Considering the huge number of orphaned and abandoned children in Kenya, it is appalling that there are not more homes for small babies. The visitation began to solidify and God began to lay out the specific plan for this ministry. (I will write more about that later.)

MAY - I returned to Kenya to begin the process of starting the home. I also had to work out a plan to do this while still meeting the commitment needs and involvement in Haven on the Hill, Heshima and Flomina.

The first step in starting the baby house was to find a house. You have to have a physical location of a house in order to begin the process of registering the home with the Kenyan government. Finding a house in Kenya is not as easy as it sounds. I will have to tell the story of how God led me to the house later. It is definitely a God-story! I found the house the last day of May.

JUNE - I signed the lease for the new house on June 1st. The rest of June was filled with....
* beginning the tedious registration process and learning the ins-and-outs of official Kenyan business,
* overseeing the renovations of the new house and preparation for moving in,
* working with the donors and boards members of Flomina Children's Home to resolve issued of the management of the home and devising a plan to rescue the children there (and that was a serious roller-coaster ride!!),
* hosting a constant stream of guests coming from the States to visit and serve with HCO. (I have had people with me every day since June 2nd and will have through August 3rd.) Busy times!

JULY - We moved into the baby house on July 1st. There were two guests here with me at that time. Lisa came mid-June and been working with me to help set up the home. It has been such a blessing to not have to do everything alone! Just having someone alongside me as I go to government offices, buy furniture, set up the house, making registration decisions, etc. is a huge help. Jackie was also here. She came the end of June and will be in Kenya for four months. She was with us for the first week to help with the moving transition and is now spending the month at Haven on the Hill.

This month has been filled with the tasks of getting a huge home ready for babies, hiring, setting up living quarters and organizing a staff to be ready to serve the babies, working with guests, and going through the daunting, chaotic, ever-changing, unpredictable registration process while dealing with a corrupt government hat holds no standards, except that of trying to get as much out of the people as possible and trying to delay their progress so that their actual work load is not increased. Needless to Say, it has been a bit of a stressful time.

But, God is faithful and His timing is perfect. it may not be what we want or expect, but He is sovereign and His ways are good.

The house and the staff are here and ready to go. We are eagerly awaiting the approval to accept babies into our home! There are so many out there that need a safe, clean, loving place to live!

As of Friday afternoon, we are finally seeing hope in the process. Our District Children's Officer told us that if we have specific babies identified and have another Children's Officer that will write a letter saying they want to place babies in our care, he will then release a letter giving us permission to accept them. This is a crazy way of getting things done and is unlike any other story I have heard. In fact, the majority of homes simply start taking in children without any official documentation. As I said, this is a crazy and unpredictable government.

Please pray for us as we wait upon the Lord and trust His timing in all things.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Where is Trena?

This is Lisa. I am here in Kenya working with Trena for the summer as she is setting up and optning the HCO baby house. Oh wiat....you dont' know about the baby house, do you??!!??

I don't know about the rest of you, but I have been a little annoyed that we are still reading about the goats Trena bought in MARCH when it is now JULY and she is in the process of moving her goats to Haven of Hope - a place that was non-existent when she last posted.

I am on her case now, and the blog will SOON be updated! Stay tuned....
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