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!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Mom at the Baby House

We have had a great time since my mom arrived. She has enjoyed getting to spend a little time with the babies each day.

(with Kate)

(with Hope)

(with Lizzy)

(with Kate)

(Bubble time!)


And my favorite.....

Monday, September 20, 2010

Meet the Staff - Suzan

We love Auntie Suzy! 

Suzy is one of our baby caretakers who joined us when we moved to Nakuru in June. She is a super-sweet young woman who loves the Lord and serves Him wholeheartedly with her life. She loves to sing and play with the babies, and they love to sing and play with her. She makes a difference in their lives.

I love walking into the baby house and seeing Suzy spinning Jeremiah around or tickling Elijah so hard that he belly-laughs. She is soft and gentle with the tiny babies, and happy and playful with the big babies. And the sound of her sweet voice singing worship songs floats from the kitchen whenever she is hard at work preparing bottles for the little ones or cleaning up after a meal.

Suzy is a blessing to have in our baby house. She lights up the home and brings joy to our babies' lives. I love seeing how Suzy allows God to work in her life and use her each and every day. She is a blessing and an inspiration. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Favorites

So it may not be a great picture, but let me just tell you that this was a most precious moment. 

I have many wonderful childhood memories. Comfort memories. Like pallets on the floor and family movie nights.

I can remember the red, white and navy blue quilt with my parents wedding anniversary date stitched on it spread out on the living room floor in front of the big brown console tv. I know we watched many different movies, but somehow we also seemed to watch the same few more than a hundred times. When it was my brother Kenan's turn to pick, it was probably Old Yeller or Where the Red Fern Grows. When it was my turn to pick, it was usually The Sound of Music or The Parent Trap. 

Last night, I got to make a pallet on the floor with my little girl. Instead of my mom's wedding present quilt, it was the quilt given to me by my mom when I left home and moved to Kenya. Instead of a wedding anniversary date stitched on it, it has a picture of my family on it. Instead of laying the quilt on the short-shag carpet, we laid it on the carpet on the hardwood floor. Instead of lying in front of a big wooden console tv, we were watching on our flat screen. 

But a few things were the same. My mom was still there. And we watched The Sound of Music. And Julia watched and enjoyed it. I got to share a most precious memory and favorite movie from my childhood with my little girl...and my mom.

It was definitely a favorite moment!  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Thanks, Auntie Kris!


Meet the Staff - George

Whew! We've got George! Hands-down, the biggest stress-reliever, time-saver, issue-handler, problem-solver, cultural-interpreter of all the staff. The one who makes my life easier. George.

George is our (somewhat) new HCO Ministry Assistant (in the best American terms) / Manager (in the best Kenyan terms). 

Just prior to our move to Nakuru, God brought George to our staff. George is the link between me and the Kenyan staff and Kenyan ways of doing things. He does everything from helping to hire staff and solve personnel issues to dealing with daily business affairs to organizing & facilitating leadership development in local churches. He assists in the operations and the ministry of His Cherished Ones. He works with the Childrens Department and Childrens Officers on behalf of Haven of Hope. He works with the social worker to organize, develop, write and obtain various documents for the home and the babies. He does hospital visitation. He wears a lot of hats!

Needless to say, George is a great asset to HCO and a huge help to me, personally. He does make my life easier. We are SO blessed to have him as a part of HCO! (Oh yeah, the babies love him, too.) :-) 

Thanks for all your help, George!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Proof of Progress

I am procrastinator. Really bad. And I am not good at the follow-through thing either.

I have good intentions. Great intentions. It's usually the last step that gets me. 

Like, I can almost send a card in the mail. 
I can buy the card. You know, the one that is perfect for someone?
Most of the time, I can write a great message inside. 
Many times, I even get it addressed. 
I can occasionally put a stamp on it.
I do not remember the last time I actually mailed a card. Or anything, for that matter!

I am the same way when it comes to business tasks. I procrastinate. Finances. Yuck! Sorting receipts. Expense reports. Filing. Yuck! But I try.

I set deadlines for myself.
I break tasks down into small pieces.
I set rewards for myself.
I set punishments for myself.
I try to find the root of the procrastination.
I make schedules.
I ask people to hold me accountable.

And my partner in business/ministry....she is the opposite. And right now, I am down to the wire. My mom comes to visit tomorrow. I am leaving with her in less than two weeks to go to the States for a few weeks. That is my for-real deadline. I have to have all the finance and expense reports for the year up-to-date, organized and ready to give to the accountant when I get to America. 

I am doing it! I am getting it done! As usual, last minute, but I am almost finished. 

And what am I doing right now? I'm PROCRASTINATING! Of course, I sugarcoat it and call it "taking a break." I have been hard at work all day, so I'm allowed a break, right?  (Nevermind the fact that I have had a number of them already today, and I live with a 2 year old so they have been somewhat frequent.) 

And I can always use the excuse: "It's the weekend," although I don't even do weekends. My days are no different on the weekends than the weekdays. 

So, to Kris (my HCO partner), who knows me better than I know myself - Here is my proof to her that I AM doing it!! I WILL have it done when I come home. I will make you proud! 

And just in case you are wondering, this is one more attempt at holding myself accountable. :-) 

A work partner helps with the motivation, too. And with one so cute, it also doubles as a distraction....but oh, SO worth it!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Welcome new baby Elizabeth Muthoni

Isn't she beautiful?!

This precious little bundle was sent to us today by our local Childrens Department. She is 3 months old and an absolute sweetheart.

Our staff is already calling her Soni (pronounced like Sony), which is the nickname for her Kikuyu name, Muthoni. (The make an /s/ sound for the "th.")

Welcome to Haven of Hope little Elizabeth! We are happy to have you as part of our family. We pray God's richest blessings over your life and your future. May He grow you in His love every day of your life. 

Friday Favorites

My FAVORITE dad in the whole world - MINE!!

Happy 60th Birthday to the best Dad ever! I love you!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

And I Love Her Anyway

I’ve never planned a wedding.
She’s never planned a first birthday party.
I’ve never fallen asleep in the arms of someone I love.
She’s never held her daughter until she fell asleep in her arms.
I’ve never made a special meal for my boyfriend.
She’s never made a meal that made her baby say, “Mama. Good.”
I’ve never packed a bag for a trip with my fiance.
She’s never packed a bag for a trip with a baby.
I’ve never kissed my future husband goodnight.
She’s never been kissed by her baby before laying her in her crib.
I’ve never laid awake at night thinking about my future with my fiance.
She’s never laid awake at night scared to death about the future of her child.

I don’t have to share my bathroom with a boy.
She doesn’t have to change dirty diapers in the back of a Land Cruiser.
I don’t have to listen to a grown man snore beside me in the night.
She doesn’t have to wake in a panic when she hears her baby cry in the night.

I get to drive in a game park and see giraffes with my baby anytime I want.
She gets to go to the Cook Islands with her husband on her honeymoon.
I get to eat Goldfish as my baby feeds them to me one at a time.
She gets to taste a hundred wedding cakes.
I get to hear my sweet little girl say, “I ya yoo, mommy.”
She gets to hear her husband say, “I love you, baby.”
I get to be a mommy. 
She gets to be a bride.
I live in Africa. 
She lives in America.
I am her best friend.
She is my best friend.
God has blessed me in one way.
God has blessed her in another.
Our lives are no longer matching step-for-step, but
Our lives are forever walking together.

And I love her anyway. 

This is post is inspired by MamaKat's Writers Workshop promts. My first time to participate and I kinda cheated by combining two prompts:
1.) A list of things you no longer have in common with your single/childless friends…and why you love them anyways.
2.) A list of things you no longer have in common with your married/child bearing friends…and why you love them anyways.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lizzy's Fist Safari

We took Elizabeth with us when our guest, Jen, went on safari in the Nakuru National Park. She loved it!!

We wanted to get an early start so we stopped by the baby house to pick Elizabeth up before sunrise. The aunties were still asleep as we snuck in her room and snatched her out of bed. A somewhat cruel surprise, but as soon as she woke up enough to realize she was being put in the car, she let out her first sleepy little giggle. 

Cozy warm in the car, clad in her flannel pajamas, Lizzy set out on her first safari in a game park. Being the teacher that I am, we had to do a little prep-talk with the wild animals book in the car ride to the game park. Her face was full of excitement and anticipation even before we reached the game park. 

The rest of the time was as special as could be! Lizzy loves being out and loves seeing new things so this was right up her alley. And her other love, being the center of special attention, was also part of the adventure. 

She liked looking from inside the car better than outside of the car.

She saw the sights...

We got to see the illusive black rhinos

and some white rhinos having a little turf war

...and was NOT ready to leave! 

If anyone ever wonders, THIS is the reason (or one of many) that we choose to have so few babies at Haven of Hope. We want to offer special things and real-life experiences to all our babies, just like if they were in a normal family. Ultimately, we hope this helps in their transition from childrens home to their "forever home."  So, thanks to the support of many, Lizzy was able to have a fun, special experience at the game park. She had a great time!

Monday, September 6, 2010

The 8th time is NOT a charm

Kate's trip to court resulted, once again, in nothing more than a postponement. This time it was postponed because the magistrate had been transferred. 

We have received two different reports: (1) We will transfer to the magistrate's new location and continue on, (2) The case will start over with a new magistrate. Our social worker is trying to sort out the details and find out the real story. 

The silver lining, if you can call it that, is that it was only postponed for one week. That is the fastest turn-around time we have had. 

So....back to court *again* next Monday.

Back to Court....again

Please pardon the interruption of the regularly scheduled "Meet the Staff" Monday. :-)

Once again, I write to ask for prayers for our Kate and the situation with her family as they go back to court today. I think this is the eighth court date in the past 9 months. It seems that no headway has been made at all. 

(For the story of Kate, CLICK HERE.)

There is most likely some behind-the-scenes stuff going on to delay the father from testifying and postpone any verdict against him. The past two hearings have been postponed for the most random, non-substantial issues. 

Meanwhile, we have had Kate in our care for 1 year, 3 days. Her mother has missed over one whole year of her life. Her first year, at that. Her mother loves her. Her mother is capable of caring for her. Her mother wants her. Her mother did not abandon her. Her mother calls to check on her baby whenever she has phone credit. Her mother cries each time she has to separate from her baby.

This is Kenya. Things are not always as they should be. Things are not always right. Corruption reigns. Especially in the courts. 

Now, we go back to court again, hoping that some progress will be made. Hoping that the judge will make a ruling against Kate's father. Hoping that a decision will be made regarding Kate's future. Hoping that Kate will finally be reunited with her mother. Hoping that this court date will be different from the previous ones. 

Please join us in prayer for these things. We know that God is in control and He has a plan for this little girl. Though we love having Kater-bug in our home, I believe that God's plan involves her being with her family and I hate to see that reunification prolonged for no valid reason. Kate needs her mama.

I hope we have a great report of progress to pass on to you tomorrow!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Nana's Coming!

Julia and I are in Nairobi tonight. We brought our friend, Jen, who flew back to Egypt today. Now, we are in the guest house we call home while in Nairobi. 

As I am working away on emails and a newsletter, my ears are tickled by the little musings in a tiny voice coming from the bed across the room. There is always something to make me smile in her one-sided conversations. Tonight, an extra big smile! 

Julia was telling Ellie (her bedtime elephant) that Nana is coming! (Yes, she really is!!!) Or maybe she is telling Nana about Ellie. I can't really tell. I hear only parts of her conversation. You know, the verbalized part. Actually, I think she was introducing Nana to Ellie and then telling Ellie that Nana is coming. Julia does talk to Nana quite often throughout the day.

The conversation went something like this....

"Nana, Ellie. Ellie, Nana. Nana coming. Ellie lala. Ellie, no get up. Nana coming. Ellie, water? No water. Nana coming."  (Can you tell what Julia has been told during bedtime the past few nights?) 

I don't think I am the only one looking forward to Nana coming! 

And yes, Nana IS coming! How is it that I am so lucky that my mom is coming to Kenya to visit me for the second time this year?! Hmmm....maybe it is more like Nana is coming to visit Julia. Either way, I'll take it! 

One week from this exact moment (Sunday night here) Julia and I will be at the airport, standing in the abyss of dark-skinned faces, looking into the fish bowl of tourist and travelers searching for their luggage, waiting for the first glimpse of NANA! We simply cannot wait! 

It is so special to watch and listen to Julia and realize that she is comprehending so much. I love the fact that she really knows that Nana is coming. I am sure she does not comprehend the fullness of what that really means, but she does know Nana and she knows that Nana is coming. And she is obviously excited about it enough to tell Ellie about it!

So, 7 days....and counting! 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Favorites - I LOVE my Prado!

Let me just tell you how blessed I am to have an awesome car! God gave us this vehicle, a Land Cruiser Prado, that is perfect for our oh-so-wonderful Kenyan roads. 

It came in very handy while we on a little safari in the Nakuru National Park on Wednesday. We came up on a tour van that was stuck in the mud. And, yep. It was the Prado to the rescue! So much fun to be the rescue vehicle for a tour van. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Baby Update - Joseph

Joseph's First Day at Haven of Hope - 1 day old

Joseph Now - 3 months old

Joseph was brought to us by a police officer on the day he was born. What a sweet, tiny little bundle of cuteness he was. An unexpected blessing.

Though we were not expecting to receive this new baby, God did know His plan for Joseph. He came to our home just before we left; before we moved from Ngong (Nairobi) to Nakuru. Had he come a week later, we would not have been there to receive him. How divine His timing! 

This little guy was found on the side of a highway in our district. He was laying on a plastic Nakumatt (like Wal-Mart) bag, still covered in afterbirth. His life began in desperation. His life was seemingly invaluable to someone. He was tossed aside, left out alone in this great big world. Helpless. Defenseless. Yet, this baby is a cherished, priceless treasure of God. A treasure that God greatly values, knows and loves. He loved him enough to bring him to his Haven of Hope. God brought him here to offer him a new life of love and the hope of a future.

Joseph is now 3 months old. A little over a week ago Joseph "woke up" to this world! Literally. He went from newborn to baby in a day's time. One cay, he was the typical newborn....sleep - wake - eat - sleep. The next day, he was a baby....looking, smiling, laughing, cooing. It was the strangest thing to me. There was no gradual transition or slow development of learning new things. Nope. He just woke up and became a baby! Now we can see his sweet, bubbly, happy personality coming through in his beaming face and bright smile. 

Joseph is a blessing to have in our home! We love this little boy!

How can you pray for Joseph? 
Pray that....
* he will continue to grow, develop, and progress,
* all of his documents will be ready for him to be deemed "adoptable" by his six-month mark,
* he will begin to sleep through the night (our aunties would really appreciate this one).
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