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, January 31, 2012

Boys' cleaning day

Well, we did it! They did it! Typical boys, they were not too happy with me at first, but they got over it and ended up having a good day. Saturday was clothes day, but Sunday was everything day. They started laundry in the morning before church. Yes, these teen boys do their own laundry - by hand. :-)

In the afternoon, they pulled everything out of their room - and I do mean everything - and we did some serious cleaning. Lots of throwing out of taka taka (trash), too! I never knew how much trash boys can make and accumulate! I even had them bring out their mattresses to air out.
It ended up being a great day where we all hung out outside and enjoyed the day.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Letters to Julia - my three year old

Dear Julia,

This has a been a week to remind that you are a three year old. You are so smart, so bright, you speak so well and have such grown up conversations that I sometimes forget that you are only three years old. 
You are such a big girl! You are a helper, a teacher, and a problems solver. You love to help me cook. You love to help Eunice clean. You love to help the aunties take care of the babies. And you do these things really well! You sit like a little lady at nice restaurants with adults. You talk to Kenyan adults and explain things to them to help them understand. You are so smart. You know so much! You know the right things to do, and you do them.....well, most of the time. 

When we were in America, Nana was always reminding me to be careful with you. I would leave grown up things (like scissors and glue) out, right where you played. We would talk about how you are such a great kid, how you know what to do and what not to do, and how you make good choices and do the right thing. And you ARE a great kid! You DO make good choices. But Nana would always remind me, "She is a good girl, but she is three." 

Well, indeed, you are three. And sometimes you act like a three year old. And I am learning that I should not put undue pressure on your to act like a grown up, just because you are always around grown ups and act so much like a grown up. This was a tough week for us. You are teaching me a lot of things. You have challenged me and tested me. You have stretched me! You have surprised me. These little three year old behaviors are shining through! You surprised me this week in a way that proved Nana's words of warning to be true. You wrote with pen all over the side of the couch, from top to bottom in long, strait lines curving up and down, covering the entire side of the couch. You surprised me by some of the things you said to me and some of the attitude you showed me. 

Those are natural three year old behaviors. It does not mean they are good behaviors or ones I will allow you to continue, but they do remind me that you are three. And above all, it reminds me that I should be in constant prayer for you, for your little heart, asking God to show me how to be a good mommy, and asking God to be near you, whispering into your ear and showing you the right choice to make. It reminds me that my heart should be so full of God's Word that it flows out of my mouth and onto your ears. God's Word must be in my heart, on my mind, and on my lips so that I speak words of encouragement, life and hope to you, not words of frustration or anger. Yes, you need discipline and correction, but only out of love...the love that God puts in our hearts. THAT is what I am learning from you, and THAT is what I want to teach you. 

I pray every day ~ all day ~ for you. You are my precious treasure and I want to train you in ways that are glorifying to God. He has created you to be a strong, special, smart little girl, and I want to do the best job I can at facilitating and fostering that. 

I love you, baby girl, and I can't wait to see the amazing young lady that God is creating you to be!!


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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Boys will be boys....and then they will need new clothes

Oh, these boys. I have two boys who are the neatest, most organized, cleanest teens you have ever seen. I have some others who are perfectly content to walk around with mud coated clothes and sleep in a bed of dirt. Boys. Boys, boys, boys.

Well, the clothes situation has gotten a bit sad. Today was the day to lay it all out. The older boys were at school so they left their clothes for us to go through. Angie and I spent the morning (a very long morning) going through all their clothes, taking inventory of what they had, and seeing what they needed. It was quite a task!

Then, Angie had the lovely task of going shopping at the market for clothes to fill in the blanks of what they needed. The task belongs to Angie because we would lose twice the amount of money as soon as vendors see my bright and shiny white skin. No, more than twice the amount of money. Crazy how the price goes higher the lighter the skin is! 

Five hours later, they are back home with new purchases. Now, all of the boys have some casual play clothes for after school, and some nice clothes for church or dinner out....like the pizza night we had last night! :-)
Next project: thorough cleaning of their room! Boys, boys, boys.
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Menu plan board

Meal planning and cooking is a tough task in this country. There are no restaurants that I would want to frequent more than occasional outing (meaning no American food restaurants), no drive-throughs, no easy prep foods, no frozen food section of the grocery store to give you a head start on peeling and chopping vegetables. We don't have some of those staples that you add together to make some quick home cooked meals, which makes looking at recipes on Pinterest quite frustrating at times! You know, things like Rotel, tortillas, cream cheese, cream of mushroom soup, etc. And some things are just SO expensive you can't buy them often, like chicken breasts, cheese, broccoli (when it can be found).

On those long, busy days when you are really just too exhausted to cook a meal from scratch....well, there is no other option. Unless you plan ahead. Having things in the freezer is a lifesaver. But....you have to have them in the freezer ahead of time. Funny how that works, huh? And if you know me, you know that I am the Queen of Good Intentions, but that follow through thing......well, I don't really have that. And that is not really fair to a three year old. She likes to eat food. She kinda needs it, too.

So, thanks once again to Pinterest, I have spent hours looking at and making meal planning ideas. Hours. I tried forever to find a printable that I wanted to use. Then, I just resorted to creating my own. It kind of worked.
But then I saw one on Pinterest that I really liked. So I made it! I actually made it...from start to finish. Well, almost to finish. It still needs to be laminated. Seriously, that follow-through, last-step thing....it's a doozy for me! I saw it Saturday night and I made it Sunday afternoon.
And best of all, I did not buy a thing for it. I had the chalk board that I brought from home, not knowing what I would do with it, but knowing it would come in handy someday. I also bought a bunch of cute file folders with the same thought and intention.
How it works is my favorite part! In the "Meals" pocket, I put a lot of strips of meal ideas. On Sunday, I can pull out all those meal strips, lay them out, keeping in mind what I have on hand, what I have leftover in the freezer, what days are busy and need easy meals, etc, and stick them on the days. As I am putting them up and seeing the bigger picture and realize I need to change something, I don't have to erase or scratch out, I just move it. I can also pull the recipe cards I need for the week and put them in the recipe pocket so they are close on hand.
I realized after I made it that I probably should have made a breakfast column. That is why there are two on the left side.

The key for me is planning ahead and being organized in meal preparations. I know, that is key for most people, but it is an absolute must when there are no "back up" plans, like a Chick-fil-a run or pulling out a frozen pizza. This made it so easy to look at the whole picture and see what all I could make ahead of time, at the same time, or in pieces.

And look! I really did it! And even better....it worked! Well, so far, at least.
And another plus - it's cute. :-) At least I think so. I needed something to cover these drab walls!
Now, the big question....will the Queen of Good Intentions actually continue to use this?! I hope so! It has already made a huge difference this week so I really think I will. We'll see....
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Another Blessing!

We welcome sweet baby Blessing to our home today! This precious baby girl was rescued by a good samaritan who found her laying on the railroad tracks of a nearby town. He named her Blessing Wanjira, meaning "found by the road."
This man had taken Blessing to the police on Friday afternoon and, because it was the end of the work week, they asked if he could find someone to take care of her over the weekend and then bring her back the first of the week. Rather than finding someone to keep her, he took care of her himself. When he came to court today, it was obvious that he had bonded with this little baby. As she cried and we all passed her around, and when he came and was handed little Blessing, she immediately stopped crying. So very sweet!
(We are so glad she is here and can now receive proper nutrition and real baby formula. Her little distended tummy needs to be replaced with good nutrients.)
I love to see how God always seems to bring us a new baby each time one of ours goes to their forever home. Little Sammy returns to  his grandmother and God sends us Shadrack, though we don't know how long we will have him. Sweet Winnie girl goes to her new home with her mommy and daddy, and we find beautiful Blessing.
And what a blessing it is! Her life, in one moment, left to the fate of a roaring train, yet forever ~ in every moment ~ held in the fate of God's sovereign plan for her life. He protected her; He protects her still. And we are his hands as He places her in His safe Haven of Hope.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Meet Shadrack

We brought home a special gift today. Sweet baby boy, Shadrack.
Shadrack is a six week old precious little boy in need of safe, loving stable place to rest for awhile. We are not sure how long he will be with us, but we are happy to have him for as long as he needs us. He comes from a very unstable home situation and the fate of his parents has not yet been determined. His grandmother hopes to come for him soon.
Meanwhile, we are blessed with the task of lavishing the love of God on this precious little life, and what a privilege it is to do so!
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Letters to Julia - Happy where you are

Dear Julia,

I love learning lessons from you. And as you grow older you teach me more and more, especially as you are able to verbalize all that crazy stuff that goes on in your little head!
The whole time we were in America and I asked if you were ready to go back to Kenya, you always emphatically answered, "No. I want to stay in America." Now that we are back in Kenya and people ask you if you want to go back to America, you still answer, "No."

Earlier today we were talking about Nana & Papa's house and all of your fun things in your room at Nana & Papa's house. I said, "I miss Nana & Papa's house. That is a fun place, isn't it? Do you want to go back there and visit?" And you, in all of your three year old wisdom said, "Mom, but we are in Kenya now and not Nana's house. When it is time to go back, then we can want to go to America. Now we are going to play in Nakuru, Kenya in my room. Okay?"

Oh, baby girl. Yes, that is okay. We are going to play in your room in  Nakuru, Kenya and enjoy every minute of it! Thank you for reminding me to be happy where I am and not wish away the time I have in front of me. It is okay to want to visit America again, but it is most important to be happy in the place God has us right now. And I am happy to be here, mostly because I am with you (and the boys and the babies and the aunties) and God has great things for us here. 

I love you so much, baby girl! You are growing up to be such a great girl, and I love our conversations. I am so glad that you are mine. 


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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tracy - Education investment at work

Trinity Vineyard, my home church in Houston, gave the gift of eduction to HCO last year as a part of their "Here, Near and Far" campaign. What a BLESSING! The gift went towards the boys' school fees as well as towards one of our staff's continued education.

Tracy is our weekend baby caretaker who had a desire to go to school for social work. Thanks to Trinity Vineyard, we were able to help her with that! And now, that gift has come full circle as I just hired Tracy as our new social worker! At this point, she has just completed her first level of social work education, receiving her social work certificate.
The timing of Tracy getting her certificate comes at a perfect time, just as we are needing to hire a social worker! Isn't God great that way? We look forward to working with Tracy in this new capacity, and she is looking forward to learning new things and putting her education into practice.
Thanks to Trinity Vineyard for their "Far" gift, and for all of those HCO friends who make it possible to invest in the lives of our HCO Kenya family so that we can continue to work and multiply the efforts that God  places before us.
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Friday, January 20, 2012

Congratulations, Humphrey!

Humphrey is one of our oldest guys. He just started Form 2, equivalent in school years to 10th grade. When the other boys moved to a school closer to our house, Humphrey stayed at his old school. He is the only one in secondary school and it is much more difficult to change secondary schools mid-year than primary school. Due to the way things work here and how the schools operate, this was the best option at the time.

So beginning this year, we started the process of him applying to new schools. Our first choice is a great high school near our house. Getting into good secondary schools here is competitive, but we have Humphrey! At his former school, he finished 4th out of 106 students! As we started the search for new schools, based on his scores, he was invited to interview with a few....options! We were most excited about the one closest to our home, which happens to be the best. He was awarded an interview (an entrance exam) to try to one of the 20 open positions. There were 56 students vying for those twenty positions. And guess what! Humphrey scored the HIGHEST of all who interviewed and was accepted to the new school!! 
Congratulation, Humphrey!! We are SO proud of you!!
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Getting back to life...

...isn't so easy. I've been trying for almost three weeks now, but haven't quite gotten there. Obviously, as proof of an updated blog.

We have been home for 20 nights. We have overnight guests for 14 of those nights and have been out of town for two. That leaves four nights that Julia and I have been home alone since we returned to Kenya. Before that, the last time we were home without guests was last May 28th. Even during our time in America, there was only one night when we were alone. I wouldn't trade any of this time for the world, but am just realizing how little "normal" time we have had in the past eight months!

Now, I am excited to be home and to attempt to get into our somewhat regular routine. I am looking forward to getting into the groove of my work schedule, too. This week included meetings for our babies' adoptions, a meeting for Julia's adoption, looking at some property, traveling to Nairobi, and visiting my friend's community mobile clinic (and more).

So, now back to regularly scheduled blogging.... :-)
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Walking William!

Finally, I am back to see the first steps of one of my babies! That was a hard thing to miss. Two of them started walking while I was away, Joseph and David. This week, William started walking!

This is my sweet boy. It is so hard to get a good picture of him. He always looks so serious, but truly, this boy is sweet. He is the gentle one who took Hopey's place in needing the evening hold and cuddle time. He just has a soft, tender side, but is still all boy when a ball comes out or when it is outside time.

William has been freed for adoption and is waiting to matched with a prospective family.

Praise God for babies who are growing, happy and healthy!
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Friend Time - fun and a great help!

Julia and I have had a fabulous time with our great friends, the Omondi's. Dennis and Allison and their precious kids, Anjela and Benjamin, came to help us transition back to life in Kenya. They live in Mombasa, on the Kenya coast, and work with  Serve International of Denton Bible Church.
Allison has been here to help me get settled and to watch Julia, who is loving all this play time with her best friend, Anjela. I have thoroughly enjoyed having this time with Allison, cooking, unpacking, taking care of the girls, working at the baby house. And Dennis has been my resident advisor, helping with everything from telling my grounds workers how to repair broken pipes, getting insurance for my car, looking at possible land purchases with me, beginning the dealings to research land purchase options, and talking through so many ministry issues I can't even count. Usually, he is my long distance advisor, but it has been great to have him here as I delve back into work and begin to work on some new things.

These girls are two peas in a pod! They have very similar stories of their life beginnings, and it is so fun to see how God has interlinked their lives. They keep talking about being sisters, and they act like it! Spending an entire week together has brought out their sister sides, but they do truly love each other. Julia kept asking last night, "Anjela, we're sisters, right? And BJ is our brother."

I think she thinks she is really part of their family! We were taking "family" pictures the other day and this is what we got (in addition to the one above):

 Look at her, so proud of herself for bee-bopping into their family picture as if she belonged there! 
They also have an amazing adoption story with their son, Benjamin! You can see a recent piece on MSNBC featuring their story and the agency where BJ came from on their blog: Safari za Omondis.

Thanks, Omondi's, for coming to visit us! We had such a great time and miss you already! This house is quiet! Good thing you'll be back Friday and we still have more time to hang out!
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