My Family

My Family
Summer 2015

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Lucas Hostel

We are quickly becoming friends of our new Kenyan friend Alfred--the man in charge of MaceCall and the Ark House where "our boys" George and Robert are staying.  Today we received an overwhelming letter of encouragement and evidence of God's Greatness:

"Hope you are all well. Here we are well and all the children have gone for the holidays except two boys who are now staying with George and Robert at their hostel. The boys this far are doing well and have adjusted well to the change of location and lifestyle. So far so good and we have not had any struggles with them. We hope they will be ready to join school come the beginning of next month as schools resume for the 2014 academic year.
As you are all aware Macecall is in the very initial stages of set up and we are glad to be partnering with you. It is very exciting to learn that the young boy Lucas was right at the center of the initiative to rescue George and Robert. Because of this we are suggesting that we honor him by naming the room the boys are using after him. In other words we call the room the boys are using; Lucas Hostel. Then when we finally move to our own property the first hostel we will put up will be called by the same name; Lucas Hostel. Let us know if that is okey with you then we can go ahead and have the name inscribed at the hostel door.

I sit here beyond humbled and grateful and overwhelmed by God's Greatness and Provision for George and Robert.  I'm still blown away by how God has used Lucas's young life to influence and inspire and affect others for His Glory already at age 10.  
It's almost hard to imagine and be in the middle of this story as it is unfolding.  It sort of came out of nowhere.  But, yet, we know our Sovereign God knew about this long ago and had this plan for everyone involved.  That blows my simple mind.  The way He weaves and intertwines the lives of people makes me sit in Awe of Him once again.  How can you not see and be overwhelmed by the beauty of this?

Lucas Hostel.  What an honor and privilege.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

George and Robert

It is with great JOY that we celebrate how God is working this Advent season.  We feel so blessed that Alfred, the man in charge of the Ark Home where George and Robert are staying, is so open to communicating with us and keeping us updated.

Today we saw this picture of George at a beautiful celebration of thanksgiving for the children.
I made the picture as big as I could because I LOVE the smile on his face.  And it is apparent this celebration was amazing and I'm sure he felt a part of something bigger than himself.  

To be perfectly honest I am overwhelmed by the blessing of this placement.  Everyday I find out a little more about them and realize God's perfect timing in all of this.

1.  We never would have felt led to go to Kenya if it hadn't been for the generous inheritence I had received from my mom's passing this year.  We knew we had to "give back" a portion of what we had been given, and decided this was one way we could do it.  
2.  I didn't fully understand why God was leading us to "go" over Thanksgiving, leaving my husband behind but taking our 2 boys along.  Now I know.  
3.  God used EVERY person in that van that week to work as His hands and feet to make this "rescue" possible.  We know ONLY God can rescue.  And He made that obvious by the way everything worked out in about 10 days time from when we met the boys to having them placed in this home.
4.  When we got home we didn't know if we would really hear much from the placement home.  But, IT HAS BEEN AMAZING!  Alfred, the man in charge, communicates and shares pictures prolifically.  I'm overwhelmed by all of it.  And we can stay in touch with the boys as much as we want to.  Again overwhelmed by the "beyond all we can ask or imagine God can do".
5.  Keep in mind we never left home thinking "let's go rescue street boys".  Seriously not one of us had this plan.  YET GOD!  DID!

I'm sure there is a long road ahead for everyone, but being allowe to be a small part of this unfolding and God's Provision blows my mind.  We will Fix our Eyes on Jesus and the miracles he is revealing.  
To Him be the Glory!

and that smile...well it is enough to keep me going for months!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Kenya vs. USA--differences in "culture"

In summary, I thought I'd post a few fun facts and things we noticed while on our trip.

Cultural differences
1. Food:
Overall the locals do not prefer cold drinks--whether it’s milk or soda or juices.  They think we are crazy for wanting to drink cold stuff.
One of our favorite sodas was Stoney--a ginger soda.
Normally when I go to a different country I like to play around with trying the local food.  I did.  And it was not very tasty for the most part.  There really isn’t much spice or flavor to it.  Even though it had little flavor, I kind of liked Ugali.  Kind of rubbery corn mush thing that you can use for grabbing other food on your plate.   They do like fried whole fish and to peel all the head skin and bones off with their hands at the table. (Christine actually fed us a nice fish with tomato sauce and rice the first night we were there--that was the best Kenyan food I ate).  

Ok I do give them the "White Coffee" and "milk tea" that they serve.  Those are A Ma Zing!!!  They use fresh milk often right from a cow and it does something to those beverages that is Beyond Words.  SOO good!

Hot milk and hot water in a thermos on the table for drinking and for cereal, etc. (as in boiling) We drink everything cold.  They don't.

Nobody drinks tap water. All water is boiled for drinking.  (except the kids at the first orphanage where conditions were even worse --they drank out of the hose tap even near the cows. yikes!!) or you drink bottled or filtered water.

2. Pace:
Everyone moves at a SLOW pace.  (unless they are driving) Affectionately called “Kenyan” Time.  I’m ok with that for the most part, but the most irritating part is at restaurants.  Let’s just say speed is not essential.  And being on time -- well, that’s optional too in general. Not all people of course, but it's a general pace that is MUCH slower and less demanding than ours.

3. Driving:
Nairobi.  Well, it’s chaos.  They drive on the left side of the road.  Most of the time.  Unless it isn’t convenient because of several factors like too much traffic, or pot holes or whatever.  Then, it’s anything goes.  There really wasn’t much logic to it at all.  And pushing your way into a space is key.  On the last Friday we were here, I was alone with Lucas and our driver Martin going to pick up Isaac in Mathare.  There were busses packed with people worming their way through, and at one point driving half on the sidewalk and creating lanes that didn’t exist.  People crossing over onto whatever side of the road was convenient and squeezing through whever it worked.
Main roads from Nairobi to Meru were well paved, etc.  So that was good. And inside the city many were also paved. (but not all)

Road conditions.  In many cases “road” was really not a word for what we were driving on.  Particularly with the rainy season, potholes and dips in the road became mud holes.  Our drivers made it through, but it was crazy.  And I’m kind of done being jostled around like a ping pong ball in the car everywhere we go.  lol
All roads have speed bumps.  That is suppose to slow the traffic down I guess.  And it does for the most part but it also gives a good headache after a while.  Driving at a decent speed, hitting the brakes, shifting into different gears, jerking around, hitting the gas and moving again, just in time to hit more speed bumps.  Craziness. 

Police/Military stops.  We came across several police blocks in the road where we had to stop and the driver had to talk to them.  Sometimes a little disconcerting with machine guns wrapped around them.  One time we had to go into our suitcases and dig out our passports.

4. Shopping.  
Nakumartt was like a WalMart with food and household items and clothes.  So that was kind of nice.  

Other shopping for locals in particular is in little booths on the street in open air chaos kind of markets.  From clothing items, to shoes, to watches, to food (tomatoes, cabbages, leafy vegies they cook, rice, beans; fruits like mangoes and apples, oranges and bananas).  In Mathare we saw cages filled with live chickens just piled on top of each other.  If you need a chicken they just take it out and butcher it right there and you take it home.  We also saw butcher shops with meat hanging in windows.

Massai Market--This is a craft type market of local jewelry, purses, household items, clothing--kind of the fun market where you bargain for everything.  I stink at bargaining.  But, Linda was great at it.

5. Tribal People
We only really saw evidence of 2 particular tribes.  Maybe more that I didn’t recognize.
The Massai and the Turkana.  We actually went and visited the Turkana people.  Really it’s amazing how they still hold onto those traditions and life.  Unfortunately they are lacking in essentials many times like water and have to walk several miles to get it.  Some of their sanitation--well, let’s just say, doesn’t exist.  I know there are very specific family groups and even if they live next to another group it’s not always possible to cross that line.  Each one has a different dress.  And in the Turkana there are beads that they wear signifying different things about their marital status or clan that they belong to.

6. Slums
I have to say, I haven’t spent much time in American slums so I don’t have much to compare to.  But, the roads themselves and the sewage in ditches, and smells and harsh conditions even for the kids to be living in, were shocking and eye opening. 

7. Orphanages/Children's Homes
Since we don’t really have them here, again I cannot fully compare.  But, each one had it’s variations.  The New Start Center and IPI were both realatively clean and well managed and things looked in order.  But, Mathare...yikes!  Mud/cement floors with babies sitting in the mud playing with their shoes and dirt.  Nobody really stops them.  Yet, they are doing the best with what they have.  And everyone is getting an education because that is what is Most important.

8. Language
One of the great things about Kenya (not sure about other countries in Africa) is most people speak some form of English.  This is really nice for being able to communicate.  There are many languages spoken, but it was nice to be able to communcate with most people.
Even the kids that didn't know much English or just general public would say these things:
"How are you?"

9. Utilities (water, electricity, etc)
In the city of Nairobi these things seem available to much of the population.  But, I'm not sure how available in the slums.
Sometimes they are just optional.  
Sometimes they go in and out on a whim. (even at Mercy's house in Meru-which was a very nice house by the way)
Sometimes they are just not available to segments of the population.(ie the Tribal people)
Sometimes people walk miles to get water--and I'm not sure if that is a well, or river or what.

10.  Church
Lasted 4 hours.  Amazing service included dancing and lots of singing, but different than our church in length of time, etc.

no such thing as "children's church" during the service.  The kids just wander around outside unattended while mom and dad sit in church.  =)

11. Education
For most people this is a TOP priority.  They will do ANYTHING to find ways to educatate their children.  And they value it even in the slums.  They see it as a ticket out of the conditions they are in and TOTALLY a privelege.  All kids wear uniforms to school even in the poorest schools.  Do you think we value it as much?  Do our kids?  I'm not so sure sometimes.

November 30, 2013-- last day in Nairobi and farewell

On Saturday Lucas, Isaac and I were on our own in Nairobi for the day because Linda and Paul's flight was super early in the a.m.  Our driver Martin picked us up and made sure we got from place to place all day and back to the airport at night.  Our first stop was the elephant nursery at the National Park in Nairobi.  These babies are all under 2 years old and are all orphans for a variety of reasons.  Eventually they will be released back into the wild again, but they will stay here for about 5 years.

they can pound a bottle of milk like this in about 30 seconds- 1 minute.

 they like to play like babies too.
 sometimes the keepers have to "break it up"

 isn't he cute???

 oh, then a giraffe just happened to saunter by...since this is all at the National Park which is like the safari we went on where the animals just roam.

 isaac and a giraffe...

 pretty flowers

my attempt to be a good photographer like my son...he beat me in this contest once again (I don't have his picture here, but ugh!!!  he always wins)

 We then took Isaac back to the slums so he could take pictures and walk around with John for a few hours.  Lucas and I went to a market instead.
More pictures of Mathare.

 The kids warmly greeted Lucas again when we dropped Isaac off at the orphanage.

 This one's for you dear...(check out the construction site)

 This man is part of the Massai Tribe

 Martin our driver--he and Lucas LOVED eachother!!!
 and last but not least...Lucas finally spotted a Kenyan Firetruck---ya baby!!!! kind of looks like one of his toys.

Our flight home was good although exceptionally long with layovers, etc.  A full 24 hours of traveling pretty much took us out for a few days after returning.  
Blown away by what God allowed us to be a part of on this trip.
Amazed at the relationships He built in our family but also our "new" Kenyan extended family now.
Thank you Lord for lettiing us be a part of Your Plan!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

November 29, 2013--wrapping up the trip---

On Friday we began to wrap up our journey.  We packed everything up from our hotel in Meru (the Alba) and began the 5 hour drive.  Linda and Paul had a 3 a.m. flight the next morning so we needed to be in Nairobi Friday night.  The boys and I didn't leave until 10:30p.m. on Saturday so we had a little extra time in Nairobi during the day Saturday.
A few views from The Alba Hotel before we left:  (The boys and I spent 4 of our nights in this hotel)


You can see the farmers are very happy during this time of the rainy season.  We saw plants grow just in the few days we were in this hotel.  Every spot of land that can be used for growing things is used.

This is the hotel pool but it was a little cool while we were there so Lucas only swam once.

This was a newer hotel in the area.  And as you can see very modern looking.  Overall a very nice hotel and not excessively priced by American standards.  However, the funny thing about it was they still are in Meru, Kenya.  That means they occassoinally just randomly lose power.  One evening while we were there, the entire hotel power kept going out for brief periods.  An alarm would go off and then "poof" no lights for a few seconds to a few minutes.  That evening it happend at least 20 times.  And hot water?  well that's kind of random too.  And who knew they just turn off the hot water to your room when nobody is in it?  Well, we didn't know that until day 3.  Cold showers.  Then finally they flipped the switch and ta water.

Since it was the rainy season, we experienced more grey skies and rain than normal.

This also meant that there were more mosquitos.  Not a friendly thing to think about when there are diseases like Malaria in Kenya and in particular in Meru where we were staying.  I could not keep those little buggers off of Lucas.  I sprayed him, etc. even at night.  And we never really saw them, but he would wake up in the morning covered in bites.  He was vaccinated against Typhoid and Yellow Fever, and is on Malaria meds, but it still freaked me out because he swelled up so bad from them.  And it takes several days for the bug to hit.  So I'm keeping a close eye on him.

Our precious driver, Pastor Godfrey, had to deal with an overheated engine on our 5 hour journey from Meru to Nairobi.  So we all got out and let the engine cool down and added more water.  Lucas sat on the side of the road, with his iPad and headphones.  Just kind of a funny site with the Kenyan children and goats in the backround. 

And of course Isaac was shooting pics the whole time.  

The kids loved seeing their pictures on Isaac's camera. A simple way for Isaac to bring them joy.


And John was of course being "John".  Sharing the last of our suckers, and talking with them.  Love this guy!

 My pics are not nearly as awesome as Isaac's, but LOVE the subject...precious children.

Once we got the car running again we stopped off in Nanyuki one more time at the Nakumatt shopping center where we had met the boys, to say our final good byes...Robert didn't come for some reason.  But, George did...
 As you can see by Lucas's face, he was very sad and in tears to say good bye to his friend.  We are hoping to stay in contact now.

Lucas loved taking shots along the road with my camera.  Just sharing a few...

 We saw these carts being used everywhere for just about everything walking down major roads in Nairobi and rural dirt roads in Meru and surrounding area.

Saying goodbye to our precious driver Pastor Godfrey.  He and I had a wonderful conversation in the car on the way from Meru to Nairobi this trip.  He wanted to know everything about our church.  His wheels were turning and he has some ideas about the Church that seem very much in line with Passion City Church's ideas of what church should be.  It was such a rich discussion that I will always treasure. To speak to a pastor ministering in Kenya and talking in agreement about Christ's Body the Church.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE that stuff.  He took PCC's web address and is going to go look at some of Pastor Louie's sermons.  

 Linda and Paul saying goodbye to John after a rich week of blessing for all of us.  I will treasure the time spent with him as well.

BROTHER's ...unified by TaeKwonDo skills....(ok it was a long day in the car...)

Good night...
We had one more day in Nairobi...