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!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Kate. Beautiful baby. She was the baby who never cried...for the first few months. She figured it out. But she is still a wonderful baby. And her hair is beginning to grow back! :-) 

Kate's story is somewhat complicated. She was with us for a few months before we got summoned to court. After a strange mix-up both of her parents were taken to jail. They have both since been released, but Kate has not been released back into her mother's custody. Her mother did not intentionally abandon her as first thought.  You can read the back story at the previous blog posts about her situation.

Tomorrow, we go back to court. We have been in "holding" since February 2nd. We hope that the judge will declare her plan for reuniting Kate with her mother. We do feel that is what will happen, but the court system here is all about showing power and making people wait. Kate's mom has worked very hard the past months to get herself prepared to take Kate back. She comes to visit as often as she can. 

Please pray for a speedy resolution to this case. We would HATE to see Kate go, but I know she ultimately deserves and needs to be with her mother who deeply cares for her and will work to provide for her needs. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Welcome Our Newest Baby - Joseph

I left home today and came home to find little one day old, Joseph.  

After spending the afternoon with our guests from Serv International Ministries, I went to town to meet someone. As soon as reached the place, I got a call from our groundskeeper, Joshua, saying that there was a policewoman at our house with a newborn baby and placement papers from our District Childrens Officer.  (Yes, this is the same Childrens Officer I referred to in the Urgent Prayer Request post below!!!!)

So, in the midst of a hundred things going on right now, a number of deadlines, trying to accomplish the goal in the post below, and preparing to move in less than 3 days, I now sit and hold this tiny bundle, realizing that God's plans are not our own. His plan is much more divine! I would not trade this for the world! Even though I have no idea how things will get done over the next days, I know that there is a reason Joseph was brought to our home today and I treasure the time I have to hold him, pray over him, and tell him how precious he is and how loved he is. 

Joseph - upheld by God; an asset. That is our new little boy. It is Kenyan custom, especially among a few tribes, to name a baby after a significant occurrence of the day he/she was born. Well, today we were visited by special guests, our friends from Serv Ministries International. They also happen to be our last visiting team in this house before we move. Their team leader is Joe (Joseph),  the President of Serv International. So, his name is Joseph. And what an appropriate meaning. Isn't it cool how God does that? 

Joseph is one day old. He is beautiful. Perfect. He squeaks. He sleeps. He is bigger than 5.5 month old David! His umbilical cord is attached and has not even started to dry. He had not even been properly washed and was still covered in afterbirth. He is definitely newborn. He was found on the road in Kitengela. We believe he was born in a hospital but was dropped on the road as the mother went home. He is safe and sound now. Clean, warm and ready to sleep.....I hope! 

Welcome little Joseph!  We are so happy to have you in our home! We pray God's richest blessing over your little life. May He strengthen you as grow into a mighty man of God. 

An Urgent Prayer Request

I write today to ask for your prayers, a very specific request. We would GREATLY appreciate your prayers for HCO/HOH Baby Center as we try to obtain our official Certificate of Registration from the Childrens Department.

For the "short" version, read the bold. For details you can read all.

We have done everything "by the book" and have what we need to accept children into our home, but we still do not have our official Certificate of Registration. After submitting all the paperwork, which was a huge ordeal, we were finally released to "wait."  Yes, that is how it goes. For months, I would take something to our District Childrens Office only to be told that I needed something else, another document, form, or piece of information. I would always inquire, "Is there anything else?"  Typical answer, "No, just ___." This was a game that went on from June to November of last year. Finally, in November I was told that our Area Advisory Council (the highest in the District) had submitted us for registration. Our file was then sent to offices in Nairobi. Now, we just "wait" while they process it and get it back to us. 

It is almost June and we are still waiting. Now a few tricky issues arise. As is typical in this country of Kenya, things are not the same across the board, the law is loosely interpreted, often confusing and sometimes contradictory to itself. Such is the case here. In the district where we are currently, you must be a registered home (or in the process of) to accept children into the home. In the district where we will be moving, you must have 20 children in order to be registered.  We will not have 20 children. See the frustration???

This week, I will am trying to track down our registration number so that I can go to the offices in downtown Nairobi to find our paperwork. I will be attempting to find out what the status/hold-up is and how we can get that certificate of registration IN HAND.   

It is possible for our registration number to transfer with us to the new district...IF we have our official certificate of registration

Why do we NEED the official certificate of registration???

(1) If we do not obtain it from our current district before we leave, we must start over in the new district which will not register us because we have fewer than 20 children.

(2) Our babies cannot be released out of our care without it.  We have some adorable babies that could likely be adopted or placed in long-term foster care, but they cannot leave to go to a "forever family" until we have our certificate.

(3) On a personal note, Julia cannot be released from the home to my personal guardianship without the certificate.  I will be going home for Kris's wedding in October, and the thought of leaving her behind is simply unbearable!

You can pray that...

- I will be given our registration number or whatever is needed to follow up on.

- I will be able to find the right person to talk to to follow up. (It would typically be a case of having to return a number of time because the right person is "out of the office" for the first hundred times you try.)

- Our Certificate of Registration will truly be processed and there waiting for us!!!

Thank you for joining HCO in this prayer. If we do not receive our certificate of registration before we move, then we will pray for God to direct us through the next steps so that our babies are able to progress in the direction God has for them.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010


aka Jeremiah....aka Baba (the nickname Auntie Linet gave him, what the babies call him)....aka Jere (the common nickname that most Kenyans call him)...and Miah-Miah (the way Tracy first pronounced his name; it stuck)

This little boy is a charmer! He has a smile that will totally melt you and eyes that cut deep.  He is a beautiful boy. 

We were first told that Jeremiah was 6 months old when we brought him into our home. At the time he was wearing 3 month clothes. Upon further research, we recently realized that his true age at the time he came to HOH was 14 months!! He was over a year old, wearing 3 month size clothes!  We even celebrated his birthday in February thinking that he was just turning one year old. He started walking on the day of his first birthday party. He seemed to be right on target, though a small little man. 

Once Jeremiah started walking, he really took off! He went from taking his first steps, about 3 or 4 steps one day, to walking across the room (literally!) just 2 days later. He was running within 2 weeks. And he has never slowed down.

Once Jeremiah started talking, he has also progressed quickly with saying real words and speaking complete thoughts. Today, as I took him down to look at the pumpkins in the garden he said, "Mama, tunaenda. Nagopa" - (Mama, we go. I am afraid.) Yep, he doesn't really like new experiences. I need to be taking him out more often!  He is becoming quite a talker!

So, our little boy, who thought just turned one, is in fact about to be two years old!  That explains the molars on top and the new ones coming in on the bottom! 

There is something that you could pray about for Jeremiah. Since the day we got him, he has had some serious anger issues. As he has gotten older those issues just present themselves differently. Although he has overcome so many things, he still has trouble containing his anger when things don't go his way. We have tried many things and are continuing to work with him and teach him through this. He is such a sweet little boy. It is evident to me that the things that occur in a baby's life in its very beginning have lasting effects on their little lives.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Lizzy is such a happy girl. Thanks to some wonderful sponsors, she goes to school at Heshima and absolutely loves it! And thanks to a wonderful donor, we have been able to purchase some home equipment for Lizzy so that she can practice her new skills at home!  

Lizzy is probably my greatest concern in moving to Nakuru. In every other aspect of the babies' lives, I feel sure it will be a positive move. However, I am sad that Lizzy will not be at Heshima every day. 

Lizzy will still get her therapy, though. We will have several therapists come to the house for PT, OT and possibly speech. The saddest part of all of it is that she will terribly miss her best friend at school, Aggie. They are quite a pair, and oh-so-adorable!

Elizabeth has come a LONG way in the nine months she has been at Haven of Hope!! Just in case you had forgotten (or never knew), when she came she could barely hold her head up for just a few seconds. She was very limp and had minimal control over any part of her body other than her right arm. 

Now, Lizzy can do so much more!! Here are just a few of her great accomplishments.  She can... 
- sit unassisted for more than 5 minutes, 
- pull herself up to a sitting position when she falls forward,
- reach her right arm over her head,
- reach her left arm to her shoulder,
- grasp for and hold objects in both hands,
- roll front-to-back and back-to-front,
- scoot a few feet across the floor,
- kick her right leg to move objects, 
- clap to music,
- gesture to call someone to "come,"
- gesture to direct someone to sit,
- use sign to communicate some requests,
- produce sounds and some words to communicate. 

Thank you to all of YOU who partner with us! Because of our HCO family and the great work of the Lord, Elizabeth is truly an example of a changed life. 

What a blessing to be a part of this ministry!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It's Official

We are moving to Ngong, Kenya! This will be a good and exciting new move! I am looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for us in Nakuru.

One of the biggest changes in this move is that I will no longer live IN the HOH baby house. I have loved living in the house with the babies during this past year. It has been good for me to be there to help teach the staff and establish daily routines, routines that are quite unlike the traditional Kenyan ways of caring for babies! I have been able to see all aspects of the babies' daily lives and make decisions based on 24/7 observation and interaction. Yes, I do take my turn for all-night baby duty.

Now, we are moving into a new stage of life at Haven of Hope. As great and beneficial as it was for me to live in the house in its beginning, I feel it will be just beneficial, in a new sort of way, for me to live outside of the house for this season. (I can share more about that later.)

This will be a big transition, but I am so excited about it. I am looking forward to the new areas of ministry that HCO will be able to work with. As it is our goal to show God's precious children who much He loves and cherishes them, I am already seeing God's faithfulness in opening doors for us to do just that. 

I return to Nakuru tomorrow to finalize some of the logistics for our move. The Lord continues to amaze me as He guides each step and makes His way known! And I love knowing that if He is so faithful and active in the details and logistics of our lives, how much more comforting to know that He is in the heart of what we do!! He longs to love us and to love through us, and He does whatever it takes to make that possible. How fun and encouraging!!  

Thanks for being a part of this ride! I look forward to sharing more with you as the weeks go by.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To MY Cherished One...A Surreal Mother's Day

Me? A mother? How did that happen?! (And, no, the logical answer to that is not the correct answer.)

Mother's Day is a day to celebrate MY mom...not me as a mom. Strange to think how things change. Especially when you skip a few steps in getting there!

I was born on Mother's Day 35 years ago. On this day, I can't help but think of my mom and the story of her first Mother's Day. We have shared this day my whole life. I know, I know...every mom shares Mother's Day with their child. Duh. It's what makes a mom a mom. 

But I have always thought that my mom had a most special first Mother's Day. I mean, she got me, right? Now, that's special. Ha! My mom went to church that Sunday morning, skipped out on the family Mother's Day lunch since she wasn't feeling so good, and I was born before 1:30pm. She knew how to get things going! She still does.

As all new moms do, I suppose, I see Mother's Day in a whole new light this year. This morning, as I sat and watched my little girl play, looking up at me and grinning her silly little smile, I was overwhelmed with love for her. Though I did not give birth to her, I cannot imagine having any more love for a child! Although I always dreamed of being a mother, I never dreamed of the sheer joy I would feel just by watching her! I am so thankful for my Julia. And I am thankful to our Father for allowing me this privilege of loving her and caring for her as my own. What a blessing it is!!! I hope that I can be half the mom that my mom has been to me!

This was taken the first week that Julia came to Haven of Hope. We had a bond right from the beginning! Such sweet memories.

To my sweet Julia,

Though your birthday may be unknown, though you were born into circumstances less than desirable, I pray that every day of your life you will know that you were known by your Heavenly Father before you were conceived and you are MORE than desirable to Him...and to me. I am glad you were born.

Once abandoned, you are now safe. Once forgotten and left, you are now remembered every moment of every day. I am glad you were born.

God brought you into my home...first as one of His Cherished Ones, now as mine. I know now that God brought me to Kenya to bless me with YOU! I am glad you were born!

Napenda sana na kabisa, mtoto yangu!

Happy Mother's Day to MY mom, and to all moms out there. You are loved and appreciated!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Julia Story

Many of you have asked, mostly via Facebook, what is going on with Julia? Am I adopting her? 
Well, here is the story...

I cannot officially adopt Julia because America has closed adoptions with Kenya, so at this point adoption is not an option. But, yes, I am Julia's mom and am pursuing full guardianship of her.  So in addition to everything going on in the life of HCO, this is what is going on in my personal life.

How did this happen?  I wish I knew! There was something different between the two of us since she came. However, in my best teachery way I tried to keep everything even and fair between all the babies. I fought any different feelings that came up, but there continued to be a unique closeness between us. We had a special connection and I hated being apart from her. I noticed myself contemplating what was happening and wondering what it meant.

I had many inner arguments during this decision making process. Believe me, the questions many of you have asked, I have also battled with myself.

Why would I intentionally bring this baby into a single parent family?
What if adoptions are not made legal again for a long time?
How can you become "mom" to one and not all of them?
What will it do to the relations with the other babies?
How will the staff react and will they treat her different from the others?
How will she feel being raised somewhat alongside "orphaned" babies?

(I do have answers to these questions, but won't take the time to bore you with them now.)

After much prayer, seeking counsel from many people whom I respect, and countless hours of toiling over the situation, I finally decided to pursue the possibility of taking Julia as my own. 

One word from God that I got during this time of seeking Him was that I felt Him telling me to "be free to love her with as much love as I give you for her." I was also reminded of His words to me regarding all my babies: they are NOT mine. He has given them to me to love and care for for this time and season in their lives. And pondering that, thus is true for all mothers regarding all children. The Lord entrusts them to us for a time, but they are His.

So....I proceed.

I have met with a lawyer and have begun taking the steps to pursue guardianship. The first step was to track down Julia's living relatives. Her mother is living. She is mentally handicapped and the father is unknown. She was taken advantage of. Julia's maternal grandmother is living, unmarried, and unable to care for her due to her age. Her mother's brother, her great uncle, actually takes on the role of "grandfather," according to culture. 

So, I contacted her uncle and met with him. The first sign that things were off to a good start was that he agreed to meet and actually made the effort to come to Nairobi - when he said he would, and on time! That is a really big deal and a huge praise to God for a great first step! 

Her uncle was very agreeable to the request and was willing to do the things required of him. In order to go to court with the initial petition, we must have his consent, the consent of her grandmother, and a number of documents that he had to go collect. That was the second praise: that he was willing to go back, make an effort and return the documents to us.

Where are we now? 

We have a meeting scheduled with the lawyer next Tuesday, May 11th (my birthday) at 2pm. Julia's uncle says he will come with the needed documents. The lawyer will then draw the papers for consent to relinquish guardianship. 

At that point, the uncle AND Julia's grandmother will have to come back to Nairobi again to sign those papers. Then, the lawyer will go to court on our behalf and file the initial petition. 

Those are our immediate next steps. And all that is just the beginning of the process to get full guardianship/custody of Julia.There is a long road ahead of us, but it is entirely possible with the help of God!

Our goal is to have it all completed - guardianship approved, passport obtained, US visa granted, and travel plans made - in time to go home for a very special occasion. Won't Julia just be a precious little flower girl in her Auntie Kris's wedding?! 

So, in case you have been wondering what is going on with Julia....there it is!

I would GREATLY appreciate your prayers in this matter! Among everything else going on with HCO, this is a huge event in my life.  Though I do not understand God's timing in all of this, I know He has a purpose in all things and He IS faithful!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Congratulations, Kris!

If you know me well at all, or if you have had any interaction with HCO, Inc. then you will know Miss Kris Nulik, our HCO Board Secretary and Director of Stateside Operations, and soon to be Mrs. Kris Heslop!
Kris with her Special Cache, where she found her special gift.

Kris is recently engaged to Mr. Barry Heslop, an amazing man who has also been a great friend and support to HCO.

Kris & Barry at their waterfall. Barry proposed while geocaching in Washington. VERY cool story that I will try to convince Kris to post. 

Kris is the one who keeps HCO running. I can honestly say that I could not be here doing what I am doing if it were not for Kris. I don't even know how to convey the vastness of what she does. She is such a great support to me, both personally and in the ministry. She is a vital part of HCO. She has a passion and a love for the ministry, and is involved in everything from the broad goal setting and vision casting to the daily decision making.
Kris calling me to tell the news  :-) 

And now, Barry has become part of the HCO family as well, offering his expertise in so many areas. We are super lucky to have our own attorney as part of the family now. :-) I am so thankful for Barry's heart for the Lord and his willingness to help us out.

I am SO excited for Kris! She is MOST deserving of this wonderful man. I can't wait to see how the Lord works in their lives as they serve Him together. 

I love you, Kris and Barry! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

I'm Back....With Big News for HCO!

Well, wow! I can't believe I haven't posted in over three weeks!! I'm so sorry for those of you who are wanting updates. 

Obviously, the past few weeks have been very busy for me. The major time-consuming factor is also part of HCO's big news.  

We are moving, or "shifting" as my Kenyan friends would say, to Nakuru, Kenya!

Yes, this is a good thing and God has been so very real to me in leading in this new direction. I hope to share some of the specific stories leading up to this move in the next few weeks.  For now, here is the "short" version, for as much as I am able to be short!

Nakuru is a mid-size town about two hours from Nairobi. It has a small town feel with most of the same goods and amenities available as Nairobi. Yes, sadly, I walked through the supermarket looking for imported items such as ketchup and pasta sauce. 

One of the best "pluses" for me is the road condition and drive time. The area of town where we will live, Milimani, is just a 5 minute drive from downtown! Currently, my drive time to Karen, where I do most of our shopping, etc, is about 30 minutes. This was a 15-20 minute drive just a year ago. The road condition where we currently live is getting worse by the day, or by the rain. I drive the last 3 kilometers to my house in 1st and 2nd gear, if that tells you anything. And I am a fast driver. Even my mechanic has asked why I don't find a place closer to town.

So...I did. And a new town. 

I am very excited about the ministry opportunities we will have in Nakuru. With the changes coming about, I anticipate having more time to explore ways HCO can help those in need by showing the love of Christ to those who so desperately need His Hope.  I will share more later about the impact that this move will have on our ministry as a whole. 

Meanwhile, here are a few things you can pray for....

* HOH's new home - that the details would come together and we will be able to move in by mid-June

* The Staff - That we would bring the staff with us who God wants to be with us. 

* The Babies - That the transition will be smooth and easy for them.

* Our Certificate of Registration process - This is an ongoing issue that we are still "waiting" on. Very typical of Kenya. We can choose to transfer or reregister. Pray that God would give me clear direction on the best way for us to proceed. 

* That the Lord will go before and prepare our way.

I am so excited about the future of His Cherished Ones International Ministry and the Haven of Hope Baby Center! We have some great things in store and I can't wait to see what God does! And I look forward to sharing them with you.  

And I will do better about keeping up with the posts!

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