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, July 31, 2011

My little fisher-girl

We are still having a great time in the mountains, but we are ready to go back to see Papa tomorrow.

Today, Julia's great-grandpa took her fishing. We sort of cheated and went to the stocked pond at the RV park where my grandparents spend the summers. But it made for easy success fishing and was lots of fun for the little girl. She had a blast!

She was pretty excited to see that Pa was really going to grill them! And she even ate it for dinner - a lot of it.

I asked her again today if she is ready to go home to Nakuru, and she said, "No, not yet. I keep staying in America."
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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fun in Cloudcroft

I used to come to Cloudcroft, NM every summer as a child. I haven't been here in years, and now it is fun to be back with my little girl. And she is loving it!

She got to play on her first big outdoor playground! She was in heaven. And Mommy was a little nervous at her fearlessness!

Isn't it always strange how things seemed so much bigger and more grand as a child? These shops seemed to go on and on. Now, they seem so few and so small. It was still so much fun to be there with my mom, grandma and Julia.

I remember the fun of getting to chose my one special souvenir each year. Strangely, now I cannot remember a single thing I actually chose, yet I remember quite a few of my brother's....his Davey Crockett raccoon hat, his play riffle. Hmmm....wonder if Julia will remember her binoculars. They were definitely the hit of today!

"Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Stop!" - We thought something was terribly wrong. Nope, she just had to take closer look at an American flag, one of her two current obsessions. 

The past few weeks have been full of blessings, and the past few days have had their own shares of blessing. Here are some more pics of Julia's first trip to the mountains:
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Friday, July 29, 2011

Welcome another new baby Kennedy

Kennedy is becoming a quite popular name at Haven of Hope. Along with our senior groundskeeper and 11 month old baby Kennedy, we now welcome another 11 month old baby Kennedy to the HOH family!
Kennedy came to us via the local Children's Department. His mother is HIV+ and she nor his grandmother are able to care for him any longer. We are delighted to be entrusted with the care and love of this little guy. He will be with us for up to a year, or until a permanent home is found for him. He has had a few rough days adjusting to his new home but is beginning to get more comfortable and relaxed.
Please pray for Kennedy's mother, for him to quickly adjust to his new home, for him to know that he is special and loved by God, and for his future long-term placement. We are blessed to be a part of this special baby's life.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Oh, what I will miss!

My baby girls are gonna GROW! These little things will be scooting around all over the place when I get home in a few months. I tried to soak up as much love as I could before I left, but I am afraid those little squeezes won't be enough to last until I get back.

Sweet little Deli is three weeks old now.

Winnie & Annabelle are now four months old! Time flies.
David was a little jealous of the baby holding time. Sweet boy wanted in the picture, too. 

I can't wait to see how big these little ones are when I return. Until then, I'll just keep staring at these pictures of the sweet little girls and remembering how squishy and squeezable they are. 
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Julia's First Week in America

Some highlights from Julia's first week in America, full of "firsts"....

First Mexican food restaurant...Pappasito's. Mmmm!

First trip to Chick-fil-a!

Mommy wasn't the only one who enjoyed it...

First play place... and playing in it with Papa!

Julia's first friend in America, Miss Mickeala 

Backyard fun

Snuggle time with Nana

Meeting the Chick-fil-a cow!

A new pink bike waiting at Nana & Papa's house (a special request put in on her own initiating in April!)

Meeting her cousin, Baby Will, who was quite enamored with her.

And Baby Will makes a great patient!

And fun backyard time with Papa. For weeks before, Julia has been saying, "We go to America and Papa will ride me my bike," meaning that Papa will teach her to ride her bike. Finally, her wish comes true. And it is a sight that warms my heart. 

Our time in America is off to a great start! We are enjoying time with family and friends and having a few "down" weeks before I get busy with all the work ahead of us during our time in America. Julia is adjusting very well. And so are Nana & Papa! ;-) Thanks to all of you who have prayed for this time to come!
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My HCO Kenya Family

The past week has been one ginormous whirlwind. Obviously, I have not even posted in a whole week! We are here in Texas and thoroughly enjoying it!! It is GREAT to be with friends and family and such a blessing and dream come true to introduce Julia to the many people who have been praying for her.

At the same time, reality has hit, the fact that I am really gone. Not forever, but for awhile. I miss all my Kenya peeps so much already! The boys and the babies.... the ladies and the aunties..... I miss them! I am so thankful to have a great staff and have a strong management support there to oversee things. Rebekah, our business manager is there, along with a wonderful missionary friend who is a huge support. She is a "missionary to the missionaries" in Nakuru and spends a few days each week at my baby house and with the leadership staff of HCO Kenya. Knowing they are there makes things much more bearable in being away.

Here are all "our people" the day I left.
Haven of Hope babies and aunties
We currently have 10 babies (Sam is hiding in the picture and we have added one more since I left) and a full time staff of five aunties (including full time cleaner and cook who cooks for staff and CH ladies as well). We have had 16 babies come in and out of HOH in the past year. Haven of Hope Baby Center is a busy place these days!

Cherished Handworks Ladies
We have eight widows/single mothers in our Cherished Handworks program. We have trained each of them in the trade skill of knitting and crocheting and now employ them full time. This is their only means of income and caring for their families. None of them had any job before entering our program and becoming part of our HCO family.

Our Boys
These are a special group of boys, aged 12-17 (with the exception of little brother Collins). These boys either lived on the streets or were floating around with extended family or well-wishers who would let them sleep in their homes from time to time. None of them had been in school in over a year, most longer. Now, they are all living in a garage room at my house, enrolled in school and enjoying every aspect of their new lives and opportunity. 

God has truly blessed the ministry of HCO in the past six months! Though I miss my HCO Kenya family, I am so excited to be back in America and share what the Lord is doing! I pray that I have many opportunities to share the story of these amazing kids and women and allow new friends to be a part of it all! 
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Sunday, July 17, 2011

We made it!!

Julia is in America!!!!
My sweet little girl did not sleep on the flights!! Well, she did a bit, but in the 36 hours from Nakuru to Houston, she slept a total of maybe 5 hours. But my daddy meeting my little girl for the first time was an amazing moment that made all the sleepless, restless moments of travel completely worth it!
We are in a bit of a daze, but our first day in America has been amazing! Julia LOVES her Papa & Nana and Auntie Kris & Uncle Barry. Papa is already her best buddy. She was quite enamored with him from the first moment. She just stared at him for the first few minutes, trying to figure out if this was really her Papa, but still totally comfortable enough to let him hold her.
I will post more pictures later, after I get my head a bit more adjusted, but just wanted to take a minute to show the evidence of God's faithfulness! We made it, and all glory to God for bringing us here!
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I will take joy

"Yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation."
(Habakkuk 3:18, ESV)

Looking back over the past few months, I realize that counting my gifts, looking for the little blessings in my life is truly changing my heart. I read about it. I have heard others talk about it. But it is so much more when I know it and experience it for myself. My heart is changing. That is an amazing feeling. That is not to say that my heart isn't still full of things that God needs to drastically change or recreate, but I it is to say that my heart feels different.

I feel joy. I feel it in real way. A way that almost feels tangible. I didn't realize it until recently. When I was watching Julia play on the beach a few days ago, my heart almost hurt with joy. Watching her brought such intense feelings. Just watching her. Just seeing her take delight in life - where she was at that moment, what she was doing in that single moment in time, her whole being wrapped up in the excitement of the simple: playing in "water-sand."
I know part of that was the joy you feel in watching your child explore life. But part of that was because the ordinary things in my life have begun to take on significance, they become powerful moments that God allows to not simply pass by as life unaware, but glimpses of Him in everything. Everything. Things not to slip away as normal, but God in life.

Counting - recogniszing, naming, seeing - my everyday blessings, and then thanking God for them is bringing my heart closer to where He is. Giving me joy in the ordinary. True joy in the truly ordinary.

Loving my babies.
Listening to my boys.
Watching my own baby girl.

My life is still stressful. Even though I have the hope of getting a little refreshment in going home soon, living in a developing country, running a full three-part ministry on my own, the pressure of knowing that the decisions I make multiple times a day truly affect the daily lives and future of more than 20 people, those things are still here. Frustrations of corroption, mixed communication, problems to solve, those things are still here. Yet, I find myself much more at peace and less stressed than I was a few months ago. I find myself enjoying life - even the crazy parts of life - much more easily.

It is a process - one that I am still walking through, and hopefully will forever be walking further towards. The process of acting. A consious process. An action.

"...but to give thanks is an action and rejoice is a verb and these are not mere pulsing emotions. While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give things in all things, because He knows that the feeling of b\joy begins in the action of thanksgiving." (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p.176)

My action of counting blessings is bringing me a deeper sense of gut feeling joy. A joy that takes simple, everyday moments and turns them into stress-breaks, "Calgon-take-me-away" moments, focus-changers, life-changers.

So, I will keep counting. And I will give thanks. And I will take joy. I will take joy in life, all of life. Not out of emotion - because that emotion is not always there, but out of action - because I always have control over the actions I take.

Coutning - naming.
Giving thanks.
Heartfelt joy.

317. Praying over my baby girl's birth mom as she lay sick on the grass.
318. Watching my precious two year old give her mama a gift - her new plastic ring - freely.
319. The joy in her mama's eyes, receiving a child gift, from her child whom she does not recognize.
320. Watching Julia play with her "first family" cousins.
321. Knowing that Julia's life has a new hope because of God's redeeming grace.
322. The support of Julia's "first family" as I raise her in a split culture.
323. Julia sharing her book with her cousins.
324. Julia willingly leaving her Hungry Caterpillar book for her cousins to read.
325. "I want to play with my family." (chosing to play outside rather than sit with Mommy in the dirt-floor, tin-roofed house of her family)
326. Returning home to boys who run to greet us.
327. Collins feeding Julia dinner.
328. Patrick and Humphrey playing futbal.
329. Freddy starting the fire in the jiko.
330. Maina asking what he can do to help me.
331. Maina's gift brought back from the fair - a plastic bag.
332. Going to sleep in my bed, knowing that this feels like home.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Whatever can go wrong....

As my friend Dennis told me the other day that anything that can go wrong will go wrong when you're preparing to go home to America for a long-stay. Well, he is being proven correct in one aspect, yes God's graces make it all worth it.
Julia and I came to Mombasa to visit some dear friends before we leave for the states. We are SO happy to be here with our friends, Dennis & Allison and their beautiful kids, Anjela & Benjamin. Since arriving here (after an hour delay after boarding - good practice for our long flights later this week), I have had an electrical breakdown! My MacBook Air computer has totally crashed. (Yes, Macs can crash.) My phone charger, which I use every day, suddenly exploded. And my new NookColor that my parents gave me for my birthday won't even turn on. I can't figure it out!

So, I am computerless until I go home. Fortunately, that time is near, so I can hopefully get things back up and running soon. (Until then, I am borrowing computers, so if you email me or contact me, please don't be offended if I do not respond immediately.)
In spite of those hits from Satan, Julia and I are having a wonderful time! We are headed back to Nairobi tomorrow, then home to Nakuru to unpack and re-pack for our trip home. I will be packing and tying up loose ends Tuesday. On Wednesday, I will be meeting with our adoption agency regarding our international adoptions and finalizing whatever I can before I leave. Thursday, OFF TO AMERICA!!!
Some of our wonderful blessings we have seen and experienced here in Mombasa are:

297. Palm trees sunrise.
298. Luo baba fully loving Kikuyu mtoto.
299. First kisses.
300. Little Girl's first sight of the ocean. "Come on, Mama! Let's go!"
301. Throwing blowing leaves into the wind while watching waves.
302. Kenyan worship.
303. Little girls dancing in church.
304. Julia's praying hands.
305. Lunch on the beach, Indian Ocean backdrop.
306. Ocean air.
307. Little Girl's first sandcastle.
308. Eyes in awe as first small waves wash over tiny feet.
309. Joy giggles as waves come close.
310. Running back and forth to get white water sand.
311. Bright eyes seeing disappearing feet in sand.
312. Brown face, white sand covered.
313. Little girls in a row.
314. Girls and their mamas.
 315. Ice cream with friends.
316. Good talks with a friend who gets it.
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