Friday, December 2, 2011

It's only a cake!

I had promised to take a cake to a gathering tonight...  The cake never got baked...

A little stressful, as I entertained guest after guest, adding up the hours in the back of my mind to see if there would be time to finish the baking.

But, Irene came... and cakes now seem so petty!

Irene, a very young, single mother of 3

Irene has been here to visit several times.  This video is from last Saturday... enjoying our group of Ng'ando Girls.  Recounting her success in selling the soap we had made together.

We enjoyed our time, singing and laughing together...
Sam, holding Irene's baby boy
Today, Irene came back - sorrow-filled.
We cried together as she recounted ... 

Her 16 year old sister passed this morning.
Leaving behind a 3 year old son.

The poverty, alcohol and most of all, the lack of hope in Jesus has devastated her family.

Please, pray with me for Irene, her family, and our many other neighbors who struggle.

And Lord, help me not to focus on "baking cakes" ... but to recognize what is truly important today.
Irene and I today - a big smile after we prayed together, I found her a sweater to wear and gathered some groceries for her family tonight.  We called ourselves "The Green Sisters"...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Waking with a heavy heart

Today we were meant to be there, at this home, sharing Jesus’ love and some meals with these kids!
But we CAN’T be!

Our Thanksgiving plans have changed...

God introduced us... - there is no other explanation for how we ran into this home! 

100 beds - 260 kids - We have learned they sleep in "shifts"

Our hearts were crushed as we realized that these 250+ kids were not being fed!  Knowing that God was calling us to somehow get involved, we started praying along with 6 good Kenyan (and Tanzanian) friends for these children.

Digging up more information about the place has led us to some horrible stories.  We believe now, that there are some very egregious offenses happening here!

Police were not able to guarantee that we would not be implicated in the crimes if we went INto that home - even as a church group running a VBS.  They recommended that we NOT go there at all!

We recognize now that we are fighting a big battle!
So, we have been forced to postpone our Thanksgiving Day plans.  

And, we are asking our friends, 
to pray with us for wisdom.

Our “meeting” these children was led by God.  We are now praying that He will direct us as to how we can be involved in their lives!  

These children are locked behind abusive doors - they need to be RESCUED!   We don’t know the way forward...

Now we are in a place - an overwhelming place...   A place where we cannot stand by...

A place where we're not sure what to do, but we know we HAVE to do something! 

God is the ONE who knows the way forward!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Completely Drained... God at Work!

My morning started early with a prayer time online with a special friend...
“God, drain us physically in every way so that we know Your power today - that it is You working, and not us!”

 I'm not even sure I like that prayer!  As we lay in bed that night, completely drained, we recognized God's hand...

Home school and laundry both interrupted early with a knock at the gate.

A neighbor lady, suffering with both TB and HIV - whom we have visited and taken food to...

So weak, she really can barely walk...

Kicked out of her home by her angry husband - with no money to get back to her mom's place (a 3 hour bus ride away) - he told her to "go footing".  She could barely make it to our house!

After some food and juice, and a very long talk, Bernadita recognized and received the love of the ONE who will never reject her... JESUS!

I went to bed that night with all my wet, soapy laundry in buckets still covering the kitchen floor... drained emotionally and physically... and recognizing God's hand at work!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

 Treading lightly...

Trying to keep our eyes on the big picture and away from the mundane... the moment by moment reality we live in...
The water pipes were in!
Every day for the last 3 weeks we have heard, “Water will be turned on tomorrow!”

Now we are caught in the middle of a disgruntled family. The water WAS all hooked up!  Even turned on!  But one cousin got upset, so he dug up the pipes and disconnected the water. 

The ceremony to resolve all this was much like the bartering for a bride!  Our neighbors sent a representative to negotiate... No goats were exchanged - just money (the modern way).

Now, we supposedly will get water... but it will only be turned on at night.  Not a lot of help for washing clothes or dishes! 

How can we keep our minds and hearts in the right place?  It hasn’t been easy! 

Hauling another bucket full of water...

Is it really worth a second rinse of these clothes?  ... the first rinse water is still a dark brown... (thanks, Sam!)

Saved buckets of nasty used dishwater lining the hall (now ready for their 3rd use - first as dish rinse water, then dish washing, now on to the toilet...)

 Every chore takes that much longer...
I woke up this morning with a thought ringing in my mind.  “Don’t get caught up in the mud (literally) and loose focus of what is really important here!” 

These are the neighbors God has called us to!  

A hurting family - a nephew who would treat his aunt with such hatred!

 Many are watching us... how will we respond?  How will we react to inconvenience?  How will we face injustice? 

I love this quote from Krista Finch - somehow it has spoken to a lot of situations we’ve faced here in Kenya!   Today it applies to “water”!

"We miss something remarkable when happiness is our pursuit.  Because happiness is a brief vapor at her very best.  What's more, there is something beautiful about getting what you get, something lovely in the mess, something divine in the ordinary.  And the something is grace.

Grace to smile in sickness, to dance in death, to cartwheel in chaos, to strike a pose, though all around us and inside us crumbles.  Grace to understand that this isn't the way things are supposed to be, at least not forever.  But it's the way things are now and here.  Grace to believe there is plenty of grace for all of it.  All we have to do is receive it; live, that is.  Life, as is.

And if we'll take what life gives, grace will find us -- in all her fierceness and splendor, dressed in chain mail and armor, ready to pin a sprig of lilac on our collars.  But she only comes to those of us who find ourselves in the places where brokenness and rejoicing coexist.  Places where bitter death tolls harmonize with strains of celebration.   Places where broken bones dance to the trumpet's blast..."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

We didn’t expect this to be easy...

We didn’t expect this to be easy... 
...but this last week has ALMOST felt like too much!

Visits from drunk neighbors...

Complicated laundry and dishwashing...


State department terrorist warnings...

Visitors and more visitors...


Dirty feet...


No water, no showers...

I'm just not sure I can handle all this!!!

Then - I remember.  Ahhh... Your promise... 

“Your grace, wisdom, strength, and courage are all measured out - perfectly - to correspond with my needs!”  James 1:2

I’m clinging onto this one!!!
Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Have you hugged your toilet today?

When we moved into our new house, I actually worried a little about how our family would make it with just ONE bathroom.  We have almost always lived in a home with 2 ... it always felt like we really NEEDED them both!
Our glorious bathroom!
So, how did God prepare us for this new change?
Well, we've lived here in our ONE bathroom home for a week now.  During this week, we have had no water... so, carrying bucket after bucket has made every task take a little longer... even brushing our teeth has new obstacles!

For one 24 hour period, we didn't have a toilet that we could use at all!  Since we live in a city, there aren't a lot of bushes around for us to duck behind... and wherever we go outside, we have a swarm of children that accompany us (no privacy for a little bathroom break outdoors!)
These are some of our neighbors - we haven't mastered carrying buckets on our heads yet!
 Interestingly, once the toilet was fixed, carrying the buckets to flush didn't seem hard at all!!!

And, we haven't felt at all the pinch of just ONE bathroom!  .....We are very grateful for ONE bathroom!!!

God does have a wonderful way of making us recognize our blessings!!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Teen Girls... Moms... Breadwinners...
These young girls have a lot 
on their plates already!!
Hope is what they need...
Hope is what Jesus has to offer!

When we reached out for struggling teen girls in Ngando, we soon realized that that includes almost every one of them!

What is extra special about this outreach to me is that Ngando is the neighborhood we just moved into.   
These are our new neighbors

This is the road to our house!
We make sure our planning meetings are also fun!

Meet some of our team - from Nairobi Chapel.  An amazing group of women who are passionate about empowering these girls, and more importantly sharing the Love of Jesus with them!

After 2 meetings with the girls, we took some time to visit them in their homes.  Really a special day!  Amazing to realize that most of them are already mothers!
Nancy's home (she is standing right next to me).  Nancy is a mother of 4.


Along with the relationships we are building, we are teaching them some trades that will enable them to support their families.   

Abby and I loved learning how to make soap and bleach with them!  

...And it actually works great!!!  We used the soap we made to clean our own home after the construction and before we moved in.  

Next week... shampoo with the Ngando girls...  Be watching for our family's radiant hair in future pictures!

Please pray with us for each of these girls.  Hope is what they lack... Hope is what Jesus has to offer them!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Can't get her out of my mind!

Abby started volunteering at the orphanage awhile before I made it there...  
She couldn't wait to introduce me to Tabitha. 

I think it is contagious... we all love her now!

A precious, precious little girl -
I guessed she was 4 or 5 months old because she is so tiny... 
but no, she is over 18 months old! 

And I just can't get her out of my mind!

We have checked into adoption here - legally, the answer is "wait... for years..."
So, we realize that for now, 
God has called us to pray.  
For Tabitha and for so many others.

What comforts me as I think about Tabitha ... often... is that...
God can't get her out of His mind either!  

 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8

Friday, October 7, 2011

My new "secret"...

I've learned a secret to homeschooling....

In a culture where a knock on the door is an honor,

Where a cup of tea, a smile and a visit are always only a "hodi"  (Knock) away,

 With so many interruptions, how will we get all our school done!?!

My secret...  I've just stopped calling them interruptions - and realized they are an important part of "school"!

Nathan cuddles

Abby and Bramwell share the same birthday.!

Balloon sword fight!
Today, Susan arrived with her beautiful baby, Bramwell.   After a nice visit, she asked if she could leave the baby with us while she went to look for some "greens" for their dinner.  My mind struggled for a minute as I calculated the set-back in our homeschool schedule.  But not for long!  
Susan and Bramwell
As I reminded myself of her story, my answer was, "Of course!"  After Susan's Mom's death, her father remarried and kicked her out of the home.  While living with her sister and attending high school, she became pregnant with Bramwell.  Now she struggles to make it with her beautiful son!  How can we NOT say yes? 

What better gift for my children to learn than this 
- People are ALWAYS more important!  
When someone has faced rejection often in their life, that cup of tea and welcoming spirit are so very much more valuable than Math facts and Spelling words!

Precious Bramwell!