Saturday, December 8, 2012

The MOST Humbling Gift!

Only 8 months ago, we were searching for large sturdy cardboard boxes to help her insulate her tin walls...

Today, she brought me a gift...
Nancy's gift - beautiful cups with a spoon for each!

Literally, the tears started to flow.  And if it wouldn't have been just awkward, I could have sat there and sobbed!  


This was OUR Christmas party for our Girls With Vision.  
We had a beautiful meal planned - delectable treats and even sodas!  Singing, dancing and gifts for everyone.   
The BLESSINGS were for each of these amazing ladies!

Girls With Vision... they continue to teach ME so much about LIFE!
But after the festivities, the ladies sat US down.  
THEY had speeches... about lives that were changed - yes, because of training and opportunities, jobs start-ups and lots of love - but mostly because of JESUS!  
...These were their words.  

Then, they started to give their gifts!  
No, I never in 100 years expected a gift today.  
Honestly, I didn't really WANT a gift!  I know where these ladies live and how they struggle!   

Once again, I am being stretched... I am learning... 
I am BLESSED... 
These ladies have SO much to teach me!!!
The first time we visited Nancy - Sept 2011.  Her house is the one on the end - it goes up to the doorway. 

Nancy (on the left) in her home - where she lives with her 5 children.  You can see the cracks where cold and mosquitoes find easy entrance!  (There's cardboard covering these cracks now.)





Sunday, December 2, 2012

My Sam...

CRAZY Inventions From a Marvelous Boy!

Almost EVERY day, Sam has a project in mind - the moment he wakes up...

Building, creating, carving, inventing, cooking, mixing...
Hard work or dirt (especially dirt) never frighten him!

"Mom, I'm not the kind of kid that says, 
'I'd like to buy that'... I'd rather just make it myself!"  
Sam told me one morning, over a serious project...
A concoction under way... HOPEFULLY, it will explode!
MUCH of the time, his prediction is different than the outcome... often he gets very frustrated with his own limitations.

SOMEtimes though, there is an amazing moment when it really DOES work!  

EVERY time, with each attempt, I am amazed at my Sam!
A rubber band shooter... watch out, DAD!

A campsite for his "Indian (in the Cupboard)" With a REAL fire, of course!
 Often, as people watch my children, they comment...

"Abby is such a gifted dancer!

Nathan is an expert drummer!

What does Sam do?"



Sam has looked at me with teary eyes - more than once asking, "Mommy, do I have a gift?"

I choke up as I respond... 
"Oh, Sam!  So very many gifts!!!  PLEASE don't ever change!"

The Christmas tree was leaning crooked... I came into the room to find Sam had fixed it!

After mopping one day, I asked Sam to keep the dogs out so the floor would stay clean for our guests... he rigged up this bell to help him keep track - it worked!
He has admitted to me that he doesn't WANT my computer to break, but if it does, he'll be very excited to take it apart!

In my "minimalist" living goal, I cringe as he collects... springs from the ground, rubber from some one's trash, cool sticks, broken appliances... we're trying to live SIMPLY!!!  But, he truly has a PLAN for each item!

To me, just watching Sam at work reminds me of 
God's handiwork!


 You are the one
who put me together
    inside my mother’s body,
and I praise you
    because of
the wonderful way
    you created me.
Everything you do is marvelous!
    Of this I have no doubt.

Psalm 139:13-14

May we always see each other as the marvelous work of God's hands... 
May we experience and develop the gifts that God gave us, instead of wishing for the gifts He gave to someone else! 

He cut out the fabric and sewed his own pouch for his arrows

Hungry for some fries?... there is ALWAYS a way!
 I LOVE YOU, my precious SAM!!!

Making his own sword...


















Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Powerless... but oh SO precious to GOD!

Another early morning knock at the gate!




Mama Felix...

Her house (one room tin shanty) will be locked today.  Rent has not been paid.

Her vegetable stand is completely empty - she is out of stock, with no way to replenish supplies.

Thus, no hope of a way to acquire that rent money!

How did her life spiral downward so quickly?

This widow, Mama Felix, has always lived simply - providing for her daily needs through her vegetable stand.  No frills, nothing fancy.... but all those basic needs have been met.

No one is more POWERLESS in this nation than the poor...





Here's her story.... the story of oppression that keeps the poor down!

Mama Felix has been providing vegetables to a small school throughout this year.  They have paid her every 2 weeks and it has worked out well.  But, over a month ago, they asked her to wait for her pay... If she refused, she knew they would just get their vegetables from somewhere else... she couldn't afford to loose this business!

So, she stretched, scrimped and scraped to continue delivering their orders.

But a widow who lives day to day can only come up with sukuma and tomatoes without being paid for so long!

That's what brought Mama Felix to my gate this morning.

Her house will be locked today (she has not paid the rent), her shop is empty (she spent all her capitol to supply the school), her children are hungry... yet she has no power to demand payment from the school.




 Who will DEFEND the defenseless?


Stop doing wrong
Learn to do right
Seek justice
Encourage the oppressed
Defend the cause of the fatherless
Plead the case of the widow....
Isaiah 1:16-17

It couldn't be more clear!  There is no question to us what GOD'S will is in this situation!

And so, we will walk... with Mama Felix and so many others!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Desperate...


Today we met with a mama who is desperate.

She had decided to sell her tiny baby boy... had even found a buyer!

 

 


So many questions...

Who even buys a baby?   
How could she?  
What CAN we do?  
How can we reach into her situation to inject some HOPE?








And asking myself... what am I DESPERATE for today?

God—you’re my God!
    I can’t get enough of you!
I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God,
    traveling across dry and weary deserts.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
Ps 63

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Watching HOPE come alive!

Head down, obviously carrying a heavy burden, feeling such a lack of hope...  

This is the Catherine we had come to know. 

And as we grasped her story, we understood.  A drunkard husband... one who on multiple occasions, has hung himself from the ceiling, only surviving when Catherine awoke to discover what he had done, cut him down and revive him.  Lack of food... herself and her 2 daughters plus the abandoned baby she has taken as her own, hungry...

Yes, the burden has been HEAVY for this mama!


 



She began to blossom over these last few months.  As she has walked through our discipleship program, she has begun to understand who she is, who God is, and that HE cares about her!  



 


Catherine is a beautiful lady with an amazing heart! 

A few weeks ago, Girls With Vision helped her launch her own business!

 




Day one...

 The GRAND opening of Catherine's fruit stand (that sells mostly veggies).

We are SO proud of her - and thankful with her... GOD is meeting her in her need!

2 weeks later

My new favorite veggie/fruit stand!!! 
I wouldn't buy my tomatoes or sukuma anywhere else!!!

After being open for less than 2 weeks, you can see the way her stand has grown! 

She is a faithful and VERY hard-working lady - we are praying that GOD will BLESS her business and provide for her family's needs!

Yes, the growth of her business, even in 2 weeks is AMAZING!!!  But more than that, I love seeing the change in her eyes... as HOPE comes alive for her!     Tangible hope... there will be food on the table and rent will be paid this month... but more than that, eternal hope... as she walks with a community of ladies who are seeking and finding GOD even as they struggle.

I'm GRABBING onto that HOPE today, right along with Catherine...
 
"We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to GRAB the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual LIFELINE , reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God..."
Hebrews 6:18-20 
Nothing to do with the story... but this picture of Catherine and I  makes me smile so I had to share it!
Catherine and I, happily SMILING for the picture...

Baby Christabella is NOT so happy! I am the only white person she has ever seen... and she has cried every time I look at her for the whole year that I've known her mama!

I purposely stood on the other side of her, so she would let us take this picture... I didn't know the look she was giving me until I downloaded the picture...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Self pity...


 Last night, I felt drained... empty...


Just wishing, that instead of hearing about everyone else's needs, 

That someone would ask me how I was doing... 

And that an answer of "I'm just so tired and overwhelmed!" would be an answer that would somehow garner some pity...

My needs, hurts, desires just always feel so PETTY - compared to what I see, hear and walk through with those around me!   

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Genuine Coffee Grower...



Brad's secret obsession - 
if you've known him for very long, then it's no secret to you!
COFFEE!!

So, of course, moving to Kenya, the source of so much amazing coffee, has been a fun added bonus to our time here!

A few months ago, Brad stopped by our friends' plant stand to ask if they ever sold coffee trees.  
Yes - they had one there!  

They even brought it to our yard and helped Brad to plant it... just so.... In a year, they PROMISED Brad, 
you will get 1 pound of beans from this plant!


A proud day... we took photos, smiled, and Brad officially calls himself a "coffee grower".

UNTIL...

My Dad's visit brought a quiet whisper...
"That's not a coffee tree!"

He instantly recognized the gardenia plant.  And soon, none of us could deny it - as this amazing flower bloomed!  Definitely NOT coffee!

BRAD'S new favorite flower...


We all enjoyed a great laugh... our plant stand friends came over to inspect and agree - they had been mistaken... definitely NOT coffee...

Now, there is a 2nd bush planted next to our beautiful gardenia plant... 
we're hoping for a different kind of flower on this one!  

In one year's time, 
come on over for some "home-grown" coffee...
The plant guys PROMISED!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

She slept outside last night...
...and it was raining 
I remember the rain because I had laundry hanging outside.  I had actually worried that I had forgotten to bring the dry clothes in.   

Funny how insignificant that seems now!


Sixteen year old Lucy - I've met her once before.  Today she needed someone to listen to her story.


"My mom," she quietly mumbled, "sometimes has bad tempers."  "My father says we just have to understand her."  
With one week left of school for the year, final exams looming ahead, Mama Lucy got one of her "bad tempers" and after dark last night, chased Lucy out onto the street.  That is where she slept.


And so, over a cup of tea, we talked...
Rejection... Pain... 
the Cold... Tears
HOPE... and the ONE who will never reject us... 
NO MATTER WHAT!


I am starting to understand... this situation is not unusual!  Teen-age pregnancies, high school drop outs, desperate girls turning to prostitution - it all starts here!  
Praying for Lucy today - how can we help point her to HOPE and keep her away from a desperate solution?  Thankful that a friend has taken her in for this week.  We will continue to walk with her.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A day to celebrate our Sam...

We loved getting away for a family day - a time to renew and refresh!  And of course, Sam, the birthday boy chose the activity... climbing Mt. Longonot!  

So many reminders of our amazing and mighty God! 

Can't wait to watch as God continues to shape this tough and gentle boy... all wrapped into one!




The very beginning... we made it all the way up that mountain! 

Fun to have Nathan - from our home church, Summit, along with us!
The two Sams...

At the top of the volcano - tired, but still smiling... sort of...
My girl!

We saw zebra and giraffe... but no "buffaloe"!!


We've loved getting to know Sam and Kristina!
Go Nathan!  This loose sand wasn't so easy to climb up!

Our family representatives that made it all the way to the peak!

Sam couldn't leave without building a fort at the top of the mountain!
I stole a few cuddles!

Dirty, tired and happy feet...

I love you, Sam!