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!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Update on Michelle

We praise God that little Michelle is doing soooo much better! She was released from the hospital on Wednesday. I returned home on Wednesday to get the real story and read her diagnosis for myself.
She was one sick little girl. She had cerebral malaria (the dangerous strain), meningitis, and pneumonia. She would surely have died if we left her at the provincial hospital.
Now, she is home and continuing to recover. She is still not feeling so great yet, but she will soon. Her parents are definitely feeling much better though!

(You can tell that Michelle isn't feeling too good, but seeing her sit up on her own is wonderful!!)

In the 24 hours that she was there (half of that spent trying to get her seen to begin with, and then trying to get her out!) she was not given any dawa (medicine) for treating any of those conditions! She was only given a very unnecessary blood transfusion. At that point, I had not heard any “diagnosis,” other than that she was anemic. I questioned it, but got no answers. The doctor at the private hospital was furious that they had given her the transfusion for no apparent reason. 
Their answer for everything that seems serious is either a transfusion or oxygen. In this case, the oxygen was needed as she was having extreme trouble breathing. But the transfusion - in this place with extreme high risks for many things - totally ridiculous! 
We are so thankful for those who contributed financially to help Michelle. The cost of private hospital care was 17 times that of the public hospital! (If you saw the Facebook post, yes, it said 15 times, but we got added charged thrown in at the end. Typical.) The government hospital was a little over $5 for the 24 hours she was there, which would have been approximately $30 for the next 5 days. The total bill for the private hospital was $520. That is a LOT for here. But considering that I truly believe the move saved her life....totally worth it! It did include oxygen for several days, an ambulance transfer, chest x-rays, all her dawa, and the doctor’s charges. THANK YOU to our friends who donated towards this!
Michelle turns two today. She was born just before midnight on New Years Eve. Kennedy, her father, wasn’t sure of her birthday when I asked him earlier. Very Kenyan! :-) So, tomorrow we will celebrate her birthday at the baby house and have a New Years celebration! So much to celebrate and be thankful for

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas at the Baby House!

Since it has been so nice and warm here lately, Santa thought it would be fun to drop all the toys outside so the babies could enjoy playing outside with their new toys. I don’t think he realized that we would finally get some much needed rain just as the babies came out.

It took a little while for the babies to get the hang of opening presents. They loved it though!

Miah thought it was probably easier to just play with someone else's open gifts than figure out how to get the paper off of his own.

Thanks to all our wonderful friends who donated so that we could buy Christmas presents for our little ones! That is definitely a gift that many children here do not receive.

After opening a few presents outside, and realizing that the sprinkles of rain were not going away and real rain was coming, we moved all the babies back inside to play. 

I love these pictures! We are so blessed to have staff that truly love our babies. They are fully engaged and love playing with them. Even the men, the groundskeeper and night watchmen came to join in the fun.

I brought the Christmas tree into the baby house and it was the first time they had seen one. I wanted to put it in the baby house weeks ago, but a Christmas tree in a room with nine babies???? Nope.

They loved the lights! And don’t you like the big blue converter box that the lights have to plug in to? And, the only electrical outlet in the room is in the fake fireplace. Ahhh, Kenya.  

We had a wonderful time! Thanks to all of our friends of HCO and your great support that makes this possible. Our babies are definitely blessed!  

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

from Trena & Julia

Hope Has Come!

  Merry Christmas!!

Of all the gifts given around the world today, I hope that you have been blessed to receive the greatest one of all - the gift of hope and eternal life through this precious baby. 

As his parents gazed upon their sleeping baby, don't you think they thought and dreamed of His future and what His life might hold? What an amazing thing to think about! This precious baby that we see lying in a manger is the same one who grew to be the Savior of the world. 

At Haven of Hope, we have the privilege of looking into babies' faces every day. Each of our babies has come from rough beginnings. Obviously. They are in a children's home in Africa. But because of the hope we have been given in Christ, we want to pass that gift on to these babies. We want to offer them a new beginning and fresh start to their troubled beginning. What a gift it is to be able to look into their faces and dream of their futures. Their futures. Futures that are changed because of God's work in their lives ~ God placing them in our home ~ God offering them a safe haven ~ a new hope. 

Merry Christmas!
...from the babies of Haven of Hope

Friday, December 24, 2010

Please Pray for Michelle

It is not such a merry Christmas for some. In the last 24 hours I have seen WAY more people who are hurting than those who are happy.

Our groundskeeper, Kennedy is one of the hurting. His wife and daughters came to spend the holidays here with him. Now, they are spending the holiday in the hospital. And not just any hospital. A Kenyan hospital. ~ Sidenote: I pray my daughter and I are never sick in this country!!! ~ Michelle turns 2 years old next week. She is very sick.

 I was with this baby for 5 hours straight today and this was her the entire time. Not once did she wake or stir, other than having a seizure. She opened her eyes a few times, but they just fluttered closed again.

 At this point, all we have been told is that she has malaria and is anemic. Two very generic answers to illness in Kenya. This is one sick little girl. She has had more seizures than we can count over the past two days. After being given a blood transfusion (in a place you would definitely NOT want to receive a blood transfusion!) and IV’s and seeing no improvement in an hour, the nurses pulled them, saying, “they are not working.” When she began seizing again after the transfusion and IV’s were stopped, they said there was nothing they could do.

She finally got a bed. This is the youngest pediatric ward, up to two years. The nursery discharges after a few days so any others with problems would be here. (See below for a full room view.) The little one in the bed across from Michelle (pictured) has tuberculosis. THIS was the moment I made the judgement call to transfer her!
When her IVs were not going, it was up to the parents to fix it. The nurses never came to check after we told them there was a problem.

All this was transpiring after an already long day of her mother trying to get her seen in this public hospital and waiting over four hours without being tended to…while her baby was obviously sick and having seizures! 

We began trying to get her discharged and transferred to a private hospital at 6pm yesterday. We did not succeed until noon today. In that time, I saw five other babies die in the same ward as Michelle. (And by “ward,” I mean “really big room.”) In fact, one of the babies in the picture below died about half an hour after the picture was taken.

 This would be like the CCU (Critical Care Unit). These are the babies who are on oxygen   and closer to the nurse's station. The little oxygen tanks are in the middle with wires running to each baby. There are 15 babies lined up on this table!! 7 to the left of the oxygen tanks, 8 on the right.

 Michelle is in the middle. On the left is Miguel. Look at that beautiful, tiny face! Isn't it just perfect?! He is 4 weeks old. He was born prematurely, weighing 3.5lbs. He now weighs 4.2lbs. On the right is Jonathan. He is one year. He has hydrocephalitis and meningitis. 

Seeing these mamas and their sick babies puts things into perspective. And this kind of perspective is not really the kind of Christmas that I wanted. 

Each mother must stay to care for their child. The mothers actually act more as nurses. You can see them lined in the beds on both sides. A few have two patients on a bed (plus moms). 

 At dawa (medicine) time, the moms bring their babies to the nurses station and line up to wait for their turn. Funny how all the babies just happen to be on the exact same dawa schedule, four times per day. Hmmm.
And notice the red container in the picture above...
Yes, the Hazard bin. Full of items with blood, needles and many other unsanitary things. Just sitting out beside the nurse's table.

I am thankful for the gift of health! Though I am not home and opening gifts with my family like I really want to be, I am thankful for the many gifts around me. And I am thankful for Jesus! Without Him, I could not be here. I would not be able to look at these mamas and offer them any encouragement, any hope. But because of Him, I can.

As I talked with the women in the hospitals taking care of their babies, I told that they would not be forgotten this Christmas. I promised them that I would remember them. Please remember them with me and ask God to grant them strength as they take care of their sick babies and peace as they sit in those deplorable conditions hoping that their little ones will receive help. 

A Pregnant Pause

'Twas the night before Christmas....

Imagine. Imagine the anticipation. You know that excitement we feel on the night before Christmas? Imagine what Mary must have felt! Pregnant with the Living God. Waiting to give birth to the One who would save the world. 

We use the analogies like "slower than Christmas" for something we seem to endlessly be waiting for, or "like a kid waiting for Christmas morning" for something so exciting it's almost uncontainable. But seriously. Can we even imagine what Mary must have felt? 

Mary was waiting for this new life to arrive. I have never given birth, but I have heard so many talk about the indescribable feeling of seeing a new life be born before your eyes. Mary wasn't just waiting for this new little life of a baby to arrive. She was waiting for the very one who would give her life! 

This young woman was pregnant with Life. The Life that would bring hope to us all.

Mary was literally waiting with Hope. She was expecting big things! I would like to think she was as excited as a kid on the night before Christmas (with a lot of nervous thrown in there, of course). 

Tonight, on the night before Christmas, let's pause for a moment. Think of what exactly it is that we are expecting, anticipating. The special time with family. The excitement of kids on Christmas morning. The gifts. The awesome desserts. Those things are great. I am looking forward to those things! But think also of the bigger picture and how different our life is because of the Gift of Christmas. What are you anticipating in your life this next year? Do you need the hope of Christ to see those things happen? That hope is coming! It is a gift that God is freely giving us. 

Let's expect big things! Let's expect the joyful hope of Christ alive in our hearts. Let's expect Him to do great and mighty things in our lives this next year. Let's expect HIM!

Just as Mary sat with Christ Jesus inside her, we can also sit with Him inside us! We can be pregnant with hope, just as she was. Waiting for Christ to come alive! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

When the Time Had Fully Come

"But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son."
(Galatians 4:4)

Waiting on God's timing is one the hardest things to do. But can you imagine waiting without the help of the Holy Spirit?! Can you imagine the world before the first coming of Christ? Forever, living in hopes that a Savior was coming. Being given that promise, and then just waiting. Not for months or years, but for generations. And generations. Through wars, death, famine, pain. Hundreds of years. Thousands of years. Without the Holy Spirit, without the presence of God in their hearts to sustain them. At times, seemingly without hope. 

God chose to wait. His chosen people suffered. They walked through the desert. God did have a plan. But the time had not yet come. 

Don't you feel that way sometimes? Like you are walking through the desert? Waiting for the hope of something to come? Waiting for tomorrow 

God's people waited for their Coming King much longer than we have or ever will wait for anything. But when the time had fully come, He fulfilled His promise! 

We, like the children of Israel, must learn one of the hardest lessons in all of life. We must learn to wait. And to be diligent while we wait. There IS hope to come. We can cling to what He has promised us. Yes, easier said than done. Believe me! I am only 35 years old, but I am getting pretty good at the waiting game. Correction: I am not "good" at it, but I am living it. The guardianship process with Julia is taking longer than anyone expected. Who knows how long the actual adoption process will take when we finally have that door opened! And waiting for God's gift of a husband? Well, we won't even go there because that game is getting really old! (And "we" are too, by the way!) 

But I am learning that it is not just about waiting for God's timing. It is about waiting for Him. Waiting for the work He is doing. He is there. He is working. There is a reason we wait. There is a reason that His chosen people had to wait for His coming. It is about the preparation. "The answer in every case of God's timing is the same: preparation." ("Walk With God Devotional," Chris Tiegreen, Dec 23 - today's post inspiration)

So today, let our hearts prepare Him room. May we ever be in preparation for the coming of our King! Just as the people of God waited in anticipation, may we also wait in joyful anticipation of the fullness of God!

The time IS coming. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Week in Kenya

I finally saw Christmas decorations in Nakuru town! 

At least I think these are Christmas decorations. They've never been there before! :-) 

And Julia has been enjoying the nice weather in her cute little outfits that Nana sent her last summer. She's just now into solid 2T's so they are a perfect fit at the right time of year. The pictures look like summer, don't they? It is actually kinda fun. Just not your typical December-looking pictures. 

She is in a stage of not looking at the camera and not wanting her picture taken. "No peek-cha." And, not a new stage, but her mouth is in constant chatter mode! 

"Wewe Judah!" ("Wewe" - "you," used to say it like implying, "Hey you! Stop it!")
She is not at all afraid of the dogs. I have to keep an eye on her. She would go head-to-head with Judah! 

I hope you all are enjoying a beautiful Christmas season! Apparently, my Houston friends are enjoying weather pretty close to our summer temps here. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Goodbye Kater-Bug!

This is perhaps the happiest AND saddest day in all of HCO & Haven of Hope's days. Kate is finally with her mom!!

Merry Christmas, Mama Kate!

After a year of indecision and 15 trips to court, the judge finally awarded Kate back to her mother's care. Though we have prayed for this day, it does come with sadness. Such a special little girl, we are sad to see her go. However, this is exactly the goal of Haven of Hope - to offer our babies the best life possible until they can be with their "forever family." 

To date, we have had two babies that we have returned to their mothers: Joy (Sept '09 - 4 days) and Elizabeth (Sept '10 - 6 weeks). Kate is our first baby to be in the home for such a long time before returning to her family. She is truly part of our family, but we are so happy that God has allowed her to go back to her forever family.

To read Kate's story, you can CLICK HERE to see her Baby Update post from last month. There are subsequent links there to the whole back-story. 

Ultimately, we are THRILLED that Kate is with her mother tonight. They will need prayers, though. Tonight, Kate is in a home that she has never been in, with a family she does not know. That is tough for a 17 month old. 

Our first reunification story - we are so blessed to have been a part of it! Kate is a precious child who brought great joy to our home. We will miss you SOOO much, Kater-bug! I will come visit you very soon. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Girls Day at the Crater

We drove up to the crater that is at the VERY top of the hill from our baby house. Menengai Crater is not far from the baby house, but it is a LONG way from home! New York is 7,680 miles away. 

(And you can see that is certainly does not look like home! This is some kind of hot Christmas weather! And if you know me well, you know it MUST be hot for me to be wearing sleeveless. I just don't do that!!)

A new friend, Marilyn, is here for just a few more days and has been wanting to go, so Kate and I took all the girls on a Girls' Day Out to the crater. 

One of the amazing blessings of living in Kenya is the beauty that is all around me. The vastness of God's creation in this place just seems to scream His glory! To stand on the crater and look out, to pass over the great Rift Valley and gaze over the miles below, to drive out on the plains of the Maasai Mara and see rolling hills as far as your eye will reach - creation seems to go on forever! I am humbled by the vastness of God, how in all of creation, He is mindful of me. (Psalm 8:4)

"In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him." (Psalm 95:4)

"O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens." (Psalm 8:1)

I may not be "home" for Christmas this year, but I am where He wants me for now. I am definitely in the presence of God, so I am home. What a privilege it is  to see His glory and behold His greatness - wherever we are!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

In Search of Signs of Christmas

Julia and I have found many signs of Christmas in our house. We talk about it every day - Baby Jesus's birthday, our advent calendar, opening our 12 Days of Christmas from Nana, reading stories, singing songs. But outside of our house, walking around Nakuru town, you might not ever know it was so near to Christmas. 

Granted, America might be over the top, commercialized and too materialistic when it comes to Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas may hold no significant meaning to the general population of America. But there is still something magical about the holiday spirit - the lights, the decorations, the music, the smells. I LOVE Christmas time! I LOVE tradition! I LOVE that special excitement that is in the air. I miss it terribly. 

So, Julia and I set out on a little trip to the great metropolis of Nairobi in search of a little Christmas-ness.

In true female fashion, Julia was set and ready to go with all her beautiful bags! Two of the gifts from Nana and Papa for Julia's Twelve Days of Christmas came in these adorable little boxes, which are perfect for Julia's own little packing.

She is definitely into that "do it myself" stage! Such a big girl! She is even carrying her own bags to the car. 

We did find a few signs of Christmas in Nairobi. 

We didn't find a real Santa, but this one was pretty close. Julia was fascinated with him, but just not sure enough to stand alone with him for a picture. She kept saying, "Santa has big boots."

We had a great time, and we found just enough to send us back to hot, dusty Nakuru with some Christmas cheer. :-) 

Julia got her first taste of cotton candy. Well, more than a taste! She ate almost the entire thing. What fun!

And the best part was spending time with great friends and going to church at our Nairobi church, Karen Vineyard! My camera battery died so I didn't get pictures with our friends. :-( Next time! 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lizzy's Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth! We celebrated Lizzy's 4th birthday this week. She LOVES parties, and she loves being the center of attention even more. 

Precious little girl. She has made so much progress in the time she has been with us. We have had a number of issues with finding a qualified therapist for her since coming to Nakuru, but we finally found one. Seline now comes to the house three days a week and has trained our wonderful staff to do her home therapy program. 


We thank God for you, Little Lou-Lou. We love you so much, and cannot wait to see how God uses you as you grow older. You are a great helper with the babies, especially David. He LOVES for you to "babysit" him. Julia loves to come into the baby house and give you hugs. You are learning to do so many new things. You are such a happy little girl and you bring us all such great joy. We pray that you will always be filled with this love of Jesus and have His true hope in your heart. God bless you, little girl!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Let Our Hearts Prepare *Them* Room

As we are thinking of this Christmas season, preparing to celebrate the coming birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, we at Haven of Hope are also preparing room for our new babies. 

In response to our recent Children's Department interview/inspection, they will likely be sending us more babies in the near future. Though our hearts are ready, our house is not. 

As you are shopping this Christmas, thinking of and planning for the gifts that you will give to family and friends, we would ask that you remember our little ones at Haven of Hope Baby Center. The little ones who have no family of their own. The little ones who depend on the gifts of others for their every need. 

There are a number of things that we need before we are fully ready to take new babies into our home. We are preparing for eight more little ones within the next few months. 

If you would like to help "prepare them room," consider giving a gift that will truly make a difference in the life of a little one who has no family to give gifts this Christmas. I know there are soooo many opportunities to give and countless needs this time of year. As you evaluate the kind of gift you want to give, consider giving one that will truly change the life of a precious little baby.

Consider our needs as a gift worth giving! :-) 

8 baby cribs @ $90 each

8 high chairs @ $50 each

8 sets of cloth diapers (Flip diapers by Cotton Babies) @ $150 each - This will keep the baby in diapers for over one year.

Please click above ("Invest in HCO") to go directly to our donations page and make an easy online donation via Network for Good. 

We wish you all a very merry, very blessed Christmas! 
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