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!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A peak at some of the single mothers' group work

We are off to a good start, but it will take awhile for them to continue to develop their skill. We have a LOT of items that we will be able to give to people in need. We have a while left to go before we are America-ready, though. :-) 

Here is a little sampling of their first works....

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Women's Workshop - Part II

Slowly but surely the shop is beginning to take shape. It is becoming a place where these women come to work, but also to relax, to share, and to encourage each other. They are becoming more comfortable and you can see that they are becoming good friends. 

Our friend, Dixon, painted some pictures for our walls. Aren't they beautiful?!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

An afternoon stroll down a dusty road

Susan and I had been out all day, busy with the women's project. We came home just in time to go on a walk with the babies and aunties. 

Two Peas - Jeremiah & Julia

Me & Hopey

Suzy & Elijah

The rains have been gone for a long time, so we are seriously dry and dusty. Yuck. But it was still a fun walk. 

Happy Lizzy and her friends, Julia & Jeremiah

Maggie & Joseph

Jully and William

And it helped me to remember the vast majority of all Kenyan who walk everywhere, and to be thankful that I am in that extreme small majority of Kenyans (maybe as small as 5% of the population?) who are blessed enough to have a vehicle! 

 Grace & David

Jully (& William), Julia, Suzy, Jeremiah, Maggie (& Joseph)
Before entering our gate, we enjoyed one of the daily cow parades. Julia and Jeremiah often run to the gate to peer through and watch the cows pass, but this was a little more up close and personal for them. 

The cows come from as far down the road as we can see. A constant stream of cows from one end of the road to the other.

This is one of those things that I referred to yesterday when I talked about things becoming normal, forgetting that this is really not a normal sight in America. I never drove through a small herd of cows, hearing their tails slap on the side of my car as I enter my neighborhood and drive into my driveway. But, in our very developed, highest class neighborhood of our town, this is normal. Love my Kenyan life!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What is "normal?"

I think I have been here so long, I forget what is normal. Or, “normal,” that is.

Having a guest here reminds me that the things I see everyday and what has become normal to me, are really quite strange and sometimes even surprising. Our intern, Susan, has been here for two weeks now. She is beginning to settle in become familiar with things. Still, there are many times when she just laughs at something and it takes me a minute to register what she is laughing at.

For example, we were driving down the road the other day and I overtook (passed) a piki piki (passenger motorbike) carrying a little old sho sho (grandma) with her walking cane sticking out from the side. I didn’t think a thing about it, but then when I switched to my American brain, it was a bit amusing. She was wearing typical mama Kikuyu dress with her little wrap on her head, her shawl around her shoulders, and enough missing teeth that we could notice her little drawn up mouth even as we passed. True, quite a sight, but one that is so very “normal” to me now.

Another “normal” is baby hair. It goes from cute little fluff one day to random pieces of yarn and beads the next. Babies who cannot even walk, yet have a full head of long yarn hair decorated with colorful beads is more common than a baby with fluff hair and a little bow (i.e. Julia style). (They do NOT like Julia’s hair, by the way!)

Susan just witnessed this sudden hair transformation the other day. Hopey got her first braids.

Susan's account of the event was quite funny. Please go read about little Hopey’s new hair on Susan’s blog! (CLICK HERE)  I am sure Susan’s blog will be quite entertaining as she chronicles her time here with us. It will definitely be a different perspective. Like Hope’s hair, for instance. Things become so commonplace to me that I don’t even think about blogging about them. Be reading her blog to get the American perspective of our daily lives. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Women's Workshop

“Is it just me, or has the HCO ministry exploded lately?” Our great friend and partner, Rachel Hodges, asked me that the other day.

Answer: “Ummmm…..Yeah!” And praise God for that!

Things seem to be moving so quickly right now, and falling into place so naturally. It is such a confirmation of God’s direction and timing. In this country, you simply cannot force things to happen. At least not without serious headache and fighting.

Just one week ago we met with these women to begin what we thought would be a time of skill training. Today, we are meeting in our new shop!!

We began looking for a centrally located place to rent last week, thinking it would take a few weeks to find just the right place. Nope. In just an afternoon, as they were rounding the last corner to end their search and return home, Angie and Kennedy happened upon our new shop!

 Paying deposit on our new shop! 
A true testament to God's provision.

Yes, we have a shop! Our women will be having a nice place to go and work on their craft. It is still a work in progress, but we are on our way!

This is not your typical shop, especially in this area. We want to make this a nice, comfortable place for our women to come. We want to give them a place where they will feel special and honored. We want to give them a safe haven where they can come and be encouraged. We want them to know that we value them enough to give them a nice place to work with nice "things." And if we value them and want to give good gifts, how much more does their Heavenly Father value them and want to give them even greater gifts?!

Our ladies come today, and I can’t wait to see what they think of our new place! I will be sure to update on the progress of our shop and how the women like it. They totally deserve the best! 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Meet the Staff - Angie

Angie is our new Manager at Haven of Hope Baby Center. And let me just tell you, she is amazing! She has been with us for about six weeks and my life is already better because of her.

It did not take long at all for Angie to fall in and become part of the HOH family. She quickly became “one of the girls” and they all seem to enjoy working together very much. The babies love her, and she, them. It is fun to watch. One moment, Angie is preparing documents for the babies’ files or filling out expense reports, the next minute she is changing diapers in the babies’ room or cleaning the floor after a messy meal.

Angie has had experience in working with children’s homes as well as with Westerners and Western organizations. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but that is really huge! It is great to have someone who understands where I am coming from, and being able to convey that to those we work with in a way they can better understand and grasp. It is great to have her to help bridge the gap between me and the general Kenyan population, especially government offices and businesses!

Angie knows how to get things done. She has done so much to help get the women’s project started and off the ground. From buying supplies, to hunting for a place to rent, to listening to the ladies’ stories and getting to know them, Angie has been a huge help.

It is great to have Angie as part of the HCO/HOH family! My stress level has definitely decreased in the past few weeks. Thanks, Angie!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Baby Big Girl - How Time Flies!!

I have come to the sad realization that my baby isn’t a baby anymore. She is a little girl. As sad as I am to see her baby-ness slowly fade away, I absolutely love each new thing she does! The hardest thing for me is that my family never saw or knew my “baby.” They will know Julia, but they will know the little girl that I love.

Don’t get me wrong…I am NOT rushing away the baby!! I am clinging to everything “baby” that I can! I look back, as I am sure most moms do, and I kick myself for not documenting her life and little achievements better. It feels so sad that that time is gone and I can’t get it back!

This time last year, I carried her everywhere! How did I end up with this little girl who walks everywhere on her own?!

This time last year, I was cutting soft foods into tiny pieces and being very careful about what I was giving her to eat. Now, she chomps away on big people food and I cook the same meal for both of us.

This time last year, I never left the house without a change of clothes, a bottle, extra diapers and a bib. Right now, I have a pair of big girl panties, a few picture books, some fruit snacks, and Little Girl’s sunglasses in my bag!

I soooooo wish I had done a better job of keeping up with Julia’s baby book. (And please tell me I am not the only mom who feels that way!!!) In all honestly, I was afraid to do too much “mommy” stuff early on, too unsure of the future. By the time reality set in and I had a peace and confidence in what God was allowing to happen and felt the freedom to delve into full mommy-hood, I was already behind on all that cutsie mom stuff I had wanted to do. And once I am behind, it is so hard not to get overwhelmed. Rather than just starting where I was and going from that point, I kept wanting to go back and start from the beginning. Mistake. It snowballs.

So, while I work on going back and completing her baby book, I am also forcing myself to do better to document the “here and now.” This is a time I don’t want to forget! There is still so much uncertainty and so many questions about our future and when we will ever make it back to the States. I want my family to know her now. Not just see pictures, but really know her.

But most of all, I want to remember this time I have with my little girl. I don’t want to look back at another year and not remember the “little things.” And she is SO funny and says so many adorable things, I have to find a better way of remembering them! She shocks me with her advanced conversational skills and thought processes. I absolutely love watching her grow and develop into such a bright little girl.

So, Sundays is going to be my “Mommy time” day on the blog. The rest of the week will be focused on the rest of life and ministry here in Kenya. And Sundays is our least-read read, so I am pretty sure it is just Kris and my mom who read on the weekends, anyway! Ha! :-) Of course, you may see Julia occasionally thrown in there throughout the week sometimes, but Sundays are going to be my time to share our life with our family and to tell Julia how much I love her and treasure the blessing of being her mommy….for such a time as THIS. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Boys' House Visit

We went out to visit the boys at our new boys’ house and had a great time with them. They really are good boys. The older ones are so great to take care of the younger ones. Sibling birth order is a big deal in this culture and it is interesting to see how this is quickly becoming a family and they are taking on those roles.

 These are the three older boys (Moses, Patrick, Richard) passing out sweeties (candy) to the neighborhood kids.

I usually do not like to take pictures when I go into the general community. I don’t like to attract attention to myself, and my bright and shiny white skin is already hard to hide! You can see how a crowd gathers just by our being there.

But….I got a new phone (which was a HUGE blessing!) and it has a camera! Now, it is not near as obvious to take pictures as pulling out a camera would be. Plus, my camera is a Canon Rebel, which takes two hands to use and is not very inconspicuous. Ha. The phone….perfect!

We - I -have been working hard on it, and Julia is finally getting more comfortable with getting down out of my arms and mixing with the kids of the community. She didn't like working on it for a long time and was quite clingy. I didn't give in and refused to hold her all the time and she is finally feeling comfortable in the kid crowd. What a big girl she is!!

So, now you can experience a little of the typical Kenyan town life. City life is more developed, village life less. This is very typical middle life Kenya. And this is where our boys live, along with Joshua & Hellen.

And you don't see camels walking around the town every day, but it is normal enough to not be a surprise to anyone. It was a fun treat for Susan, our visiting intern.

We sat with the boys while they had lunch before we headed back to the baby house. It is so great to see them in this family setting after being on their own. They are truly enjoying the opportunity. I am so proud of our boys and how they are adapting. 

One more boy will be adding to our family in the next few days. Please continue to pray for the boys and their transition to new home and school. Going from the roaming life on the streets to a stable family environment may sound like an easy transition to us, but for some of these boys, that is all they know. That is familiar and comfortable to them. It is not as easy of a transition as you might think. The streets, sleeping on concrete every night, roaming and searching for their food all day - that is more familiar, that is "home" to them. Structure and school can be a hard change of pace for them. However, the older ones in particular, do recognize the gift and opportunity they have been given. 

Thanks to everyone who supports HCO financially and through prayer! THAT is how we are all working together to change the lives of these amazing boys! 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Single Moms Ministry - Week One

Our new women's project is off to an AMAZING start!! We have had a wonderfully blessed week. These ladies (some of whom claimed not to know how to knit) have astounded us with their work. 

The women have been coming for three days. We meet on Tues-Wed-Thurs. Our intent was to spend the first few weeks teaching them, (Um...not me, of course, but Susan, our intern) and then let them start trying to make things in February. Well, little did we know how fast they would get to work! We have a little tweaking to do, but they definitely have the skill! 

It has been fun to watch the women begin to open up and get to know each other. They all have so many things in common, yet each has a different and unique story. We may think it is difficult to be a single mother in America, but you should see the struggles that these women face in a developing country! They are full of motivation to work to provide for their family; they are empty of opportunity. What a blessing it is to give them this small opportunity to provide food for their children. And what a blessing it will be as we grow and develop the project so that they can earn more than a few days' wages per week. 

Ruth's little helper


Even our staff is joining in the fun! 
Joyce, our social worker (above) and Angie, our Manager (below)

The ladies are currently working outside on the lawn at the baby house, but we hope to move in to a place in town soon. 

It has been a fun start to our new outreach. I truly believe God has great things in store for these women! We are so grateful to the Lord for allowing us to be a part of the change that will take place in their families.

Please pray that these women will hear and receive the message we want to pass on to them: that they are loved, cherished, and worth all that the Lord has for them! M And may we be faithful stewards of this opportunity we are given.
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