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!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Serv Team #1

A visit from the awesome Serv Ministries International team!! I LOVE when Serv comes to visit! They are always a huge blessing, full of fun and encouragement. Their teams are made up of such great people. 

Serv Ministries is a unique sort of ministry. It works both domestically and internationally to meet physical and spiritual needs of hurting people. Serv works in several different countries, doing a variety of work. Here in Kenya they have done massive food distribution, which they have used as a platform for sharing Christ, the Ultimate Provider and One who meets all needs, to literally thousands of hurting, hungry people, and have also opened their own orphanage in the remote rural desert are of Lodwar, Kenya. Very few foreigners, missionaries, or aid groups venture to this area. Serv's impact there has been invaluable and has saved many lives, especially those precious lives of the twenty little ones in their home, House of Hope.

Though the focus Serv's ministry in Kenya is mostly in the Lodwar region, they do support a few other ministries in Kenya...like HCO. :-) We are so blessed and honored to partner in ministry with Serv! And we LOVE when they come to visit.

This year, Serv has two teams coming within the same week! The first of the two teams came to see us on Thursday. It was great to see them interact with our babies. And it is always a blessing to be able to share what the Lord is doing in our ministry with those who are a support and encouragement to us. 

Here are a few pictures from their first visit....

This is Joe, the team leader. His personal goal was to get reacquainted with the stubborn, guest-fearing Jeremiah. It took the entire time of their last visit to finally break the ice for them to become friends. Joe was determined to repeat the event in less time...and it worked! Jeremiah does not warm up easily. There are very few, if any, pictures of Jeremiah being held by a visitor. 

Remember Hope's post on Thursday??? :-)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Facing the Sunshine

"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow."
~ Helen Keller

Living life in a third-world country is tough. Yes, Kenya is quite advanced by African standards, but it is still technically a third-world country and the effects of that still rear their ugly heads. It's hard not to let things get you down. 

Shadows are lurking everywhere.

I sometimes feel like I am running and hiding from a barrage of shadows trying to stop me dead in my tracks. On any given day, any number of "normal" occurrences try to derail, distract or discourage me from what God has called me to do. Some shadows are now a part of everyday life, those shadows that seem to chase me into a corner or at least haunt or hinder the plan of the day. These are things I deal with on a daily basis. 


Things like:
* lack of problem-solving skills,
* being stopped on the street and asked for money - DAILY, 
* making people mad when you don't give them money,
* lack of rational thinking,
* babies being left on the side of the road in a plastic bag,
* inconsistencies, 
* power outages, 
* seeing starving children dig through trash piles,
* no water coming through the taps,
* knowing that husbands are hiding their HIV status from their wives,
* local time zone being: "an-hour-behind-whatever-the-clock-reads,"
* watching young boys get high sniffing glue to escape from hunger and desperation...
...just to name a few.

Currently, we are working through the registration process for the baby center. This has been in-process for over a year as we have been wading through bureaucracy and governmental guidelines, which often times seem to contradict themselves. Contradictions such as:

* You must be registered to accept children into the home, 
     * You must have 20 children to attain registration. 

* You must present audited bank and financial statement of the institution,
     * You cannot open a bank account without official registration papers.


These are the frustrations of life in Kenya. The shadows. The things that make me question why I am here. The things that make me want to turn tail and run for the hill, or rather, run for the predictabilities, stabilities, and consistencies of America!

But I have bright glimpses of sunshine. I have the greatest rewards and motivation for pushing past the shadows and keeping my face towards the sunshine. 


My Julia...

If I ever question why I am here, 
If I ever feel like giving up,
If I ever doubt my purpose or calling,  
If I ever feel like I am being overcome by the shadows of this world,

I turn my face to the sunshine, 
to the gifts given to me by the Son,
and allow the Son shine on the hope of this future, the reason why we are here for His Cherished Ones.....

My Haven of Hope Babies...

....another post inspired by 

My prompt choice was:

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you can not see the shadow” – Helen Keller
In what ways are you able to stay positive about something that sometimes brings you down?

Baby Update - Hope

Hope's First Week at HOH

Hope Now
(One Year Old)

Hope came to us when she was two weeks old. Her mother died during childbirth and her family came to the hospital to take the mother's body, but sadly chose to leave the baby. A teeny, tiny, precious little preemie baby.

I was called by Nairobi Children's Home to come pick a little baby boy (Elijah). When I got there, I was told about a baby girl who had arrived earlier that day that was in need of care. All that was known about her was that she had just been released from the hospital as an abandoned baby with "a severe heart lesion." Though I was unsure of what that entailed or what her true prognosis would be, I was sure that this vulnerable little baby should not be left there at that government run institution. They admittedly had no way to pursue her healthcare. When I asked what they would do if I did not take Hope, I was told, "We will wait to see if she will live or die." 

Knowing that Hope was a preemie, it was my hope that her "heart lesion" was a heart murmur that she would outgrow. To God's glory, that is exactly what it turned out to be. A simple heart murmur that closed itself up and went away. 

Now, Hope (or Hopey-Hope as the staff calls her) is a happy, healthy one year old! Still a small little girl, she is developing and growing every day. As the quiet little one who is often under the radar with the older ones busying around and the younger ones demanding the aunties attention for their every need, Hope easily entertains herself and happily watches the hustle and bustle of activity going on around her. 

Hopey is a little cuddle-bug, especially in the evenings after dinner. When our friend, Jen Cates, came to visit and volunteer at HOH, she and little Hopey developed quite a bond.

That is when I learned of Hope's special evening snuggle time. I am usually not there that late in the evenings, but I must say that my evening stays have really increased since Jen introduced me to the precious, priceless "6:30 Cuddle Time with Hopey-Hope." What a special time of day! 

And what a special little girl! Hope is one year old and is pulling herself up, trying to walk along edges and loves to interact and make noise during singing time.

How can you pray for Hope?
Pray that...
* Hope will continue to grow and develop,
* Hope will grow knowing that she is special, loved and has a purpose in this life,
* our staff (George & Joyce) will be able to track down the proper documentation to follow up on her abandonment so that she can be put on an adoption list.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Oh, the Joys!

(or impossibilities!)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Most Changed Baby

When I am away, I always wonder how the babies will change. I came back this time to find that ALL of them had grown! How crazy what a difference three and a half weeks makes in the lives of little ones. 

This time, the most changed baby was Joseph. He had grown a bit, enough to be a notable difference, but the biggest change in this little guy was in his development. 

When I left, he was still very much an infant. When I came back, he was a little baby...complete with smiles, coos and a little personality! I had seen a glimpse of that a few weeks before I left, but I was surprised to see the little boy when I returned. What a little cutie!! He loves to play, he reaches out and grabs for toys to hold, laughs at loud singing and bubbles, and still loves to be held!

Being away always makes you notice things. You see the ordinary with fresh eyes. I came back this time to see that the older babies (Elizabeth, Jeremiah & Kate) have turned into full-fledged toddlers, the middle babies (Eli & Hope) have become big babies, and the infants (David & Joseph) are no longer infants. What a blessing to watch all these kids grow! 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Baby Success Story - Soni

Pretty little Elizabeth Mothoni (Soni) was reunited with her mother while I was away in America. 

This is a good thing. She was taken from her mother and her mother was put in jail for "neglect." The sweet thing did not look neglected, and as we learned the story, it was most likely a disgruntled friend or family member looking for an excuse to cause problems. The mother did leave Soni in a bar...but it was with her father. (This is not uncommon Kenyan woman behavior, trying to get the father to help with responsibility.) 

When the mother was released from jail, she immediate came looking for her baby. THAT was actually a surprise and proof that the mother does love her baby and wants her. In this country, that is a GOOD THING and we are happy to reunite this little girl with a mother who loves her. And based on Soni's previous condition and well-being, as well as our social worker talking with her mother, we do believe this is a positive move. We are happy and blessed to have been able to hold this precious baby until her mother could take her again. 

Thank You, God, for your work in Soni's life and for allowing us to show her Jesus for the month she was with us. Continue to bless her throughout her life and make your love and provision known to her and her mother each day.

Meet the Staff - Maggie

Maggie is one of our new additions since moving to Nakuru. She is a lovely lady.

Maggie was initially hired as our household assistant, doing cleaning and laundry. However, we soon noticed her gift in caring for the babies and moved her to the position of baby caretaker. From the very beginning, she was so comfortable with the babies and very interactive with them. She is a true natural when it comes to little ones. Her grace and softness is perfect for the babies. She loves them, and they love her. 

I first interviewed Maggie at my house a few weeks before moving the babies to Nakuru. As she sat on my couch, so timid and sweet, Nelly had to interpret when the conversation got too advanced for my limited Kiswahili skills. That was a few short months ago and now there is no need for any interpretation for Maggie! I'm still not sure if she really needed it then or not, and I tease her about it often. Either she was just too shy and hesitant to speak English (which I totally understand), or she is a really fast learner.

We love having Maggie on our staff! She truly brings joy to the house each day. She loves the Lord, loves the babies and it shows!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Girls' Getaway to Sedona

The reason I went home so early for Kris's wedding is so that we could take a girls' getaway trip. It was hard to leave Julia for so long, but I really wanted to have time to hang out with Kris before the craziness of wedding week. 

When we were thinking of where to go, Arizona never entered my mind. We wanted a spa type weekend where we could relax. A beach trip was kind of out because it would have been in the middle of hurricane season, and being from the Gulf area that's always on our minds as a consideration. We both love big cities, Chicago, NYC, but didn't want the hassle of the hustle and bustle of a city. Napa Valley was a consideration, but....I'm a missionary, on a missionary "salary," and didn't want to spend my life savings on a five day spa retreat. 

So, Kris (or Barry, actually) thought of Sedona. My first response was something like, "Um....no," but after seeing a few pictures and some of the spa resort links Kris sent, she sold me on the idea. And I am glad she did. I must say that my perception of Arizona was a bit skewed. Obviously, not all of it is flat, dusty, cactus sprinkled desert. 

Sedona was beautiful! And, despite the fact that I spent half the time on the phone getting/giving updates on my mom, we had a wonderful time!

We did spa treatments each day, which were fabulous!

And we spent some time shopping in the cute little quaint shopping square. Sedona sits in a valley type thing with the big red rocks surrounding it. It was a beautiful atmosphere and gorgeous weather. 

And of course, Kris had to do a little geocaching. She couldn't find this one...

We did a Pink Jeep Tour into the red rocks. Absolutely beautiful!

It was great to spend time together without agendas and to-do lists. Lots of time to sit and enjoy the views. Arizona wasn't what I thought it was. Well, this part at least. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Best Friend's Wedding

Bestest Friends - SO glad I could be home for her wedding!

Bridesmaids were me, our friend, Kirsten, and Barry's sisters, Twyla and Pam

Barry's friend, Ron, and I praying for them, one of the most precious moments I shared with my best friend and her husband. Truly an honor. 

 The sunshine was remarkable. God's blessing shining down on Kris & Barry. Beautiful!

I wouldn't have missed it for the world, Mrs. Heslop! I love you guys!
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