Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ever seen a Bible fly?

So, I just wanted to make a quick post to let y'all know what's been going on. This has been quite a busy week. The Rev has done 2 leadership training courses, back to back, and is hoping to finish up the second one later this evening. He has been training key leaders and pastors from various communities in church-planting by using biblical storytelling model that comes from one of our partnering organizations Scriptures in Use.
The girls and I have been making trips into town to visit folks and spend time around. We have been riding the public transportation, which is always interesting and crowded. Yesterday we rode in a very small, very packed bus that had music blaring the whole time, the sort of music with the boom-boom base in it, enough to make my stomach queasy as it bumped with every beat. It sort of made me feel like an old lady, complaining about the youngsters who won't turn their music down. Anyway, it's been a fun week...up until last night.
We were winding down for the evening. The girls had gone to bed and we (the adults) were relaxing in the sitting room. I had my Bible on my lap as I was doing my evening reading, when all of a sudden, a flying roach from the pit of hell landed smack in the middle of Isaiah 17. I knew that God had a word for that roach defiantly distracting me from my time with the Lord, so I calmly and firmly rebuked it in the name of Jesus Christ and sent it away!
Not really. I absolutely flipped my lid, and Bible, pen, roach and all went flying across the room and top speed! I screamed like a little girl and immediately curled my feet up into the chair, demanding for someone to kill that roach!! Of course, the Africans in the room, my husband included, were laughing hysterically at me. Silly white girl.
Roaches are evil, though, and should all be destroyed. I'm sure my Bible says that somewhere.
Love y'all. I'll update again shortly.

Monday, June 23, 2008

More to the Story

So, a few days ago, I introduced you to Mary. This morning I learned more about her, enough to bring me to tears even now as I think and pray about her. The Rev and I came back into Kisumu on Friday, and so were not out in the village to spend time with her and the family. David brought us back into town, and then returned to Kisumu late
Saturday afternoon. Upon his return to the village, he was told that Mary had been causing trouble, fighting, physically fighting with the other orphan boys who are there, being troublesome and fighting with the women there, and that she was now demanding to leave.
So Sunday morning, David drove her back to the place that she wanted to go, which was another village about 100 miles away. When they arrived to the house, they were greeted by an old mama, who said that she did indeed know and love Mary, and that Mary had been living with them for the past eight years. She then began to tell David the story of Mary.
Mary is the child of a prostitute, who was married to a man who did not claim Mary as his own. She was beaten and abused as a throw-away child, and when the mother died of sickness, Mary was left to the streets. At the tender age of 8yrs old, Mary was taken off of the streets of Nakuru (a small city between Kisumu and Nairobi) by an older lady, who then gave Mary to the family where they are now. Who knows how long she had lived on the streets, or the untold atrocities that she faced while on the streets. Those are locked inside of her broken heart. They know that she had been raped several times, and was found being tortured by some men at the time. An 8yr old. This is not just a story to read! This is the life of a precious child, a daughter of the Most High King, who was being used as a valueless object! As the tears flow down, I am torn between outrageous anger and immense grief. Is there no sense of humanity?
So Mary was taken off the streets and given to a barren woman who had no children of her own, where she has been, mostly, for the past eight years. This woman, though, is part of a super-religious sect here in Kenya that goes far beyond what is written in Scripture, to the point of resembling a cult in many of their dealings. They have some rather freakish practices (for lack of a better word) and beliefs that can do great harm to a woman. It too, has not been a healthy environment for Mary. Evidently, this woman had attempted to take Mary back to her family some years back, but they were immediately told to leave by the grandmother and father, saying that the girl did not belong to them, she was the daughter of a prostitute.
Mary evidently has fits of violent rage (who could imagine?), and she is quick to flee an area if she is the least bit uncomfortable. For some time now, Mary has been moving from place to place, staying for a few months at a time, and then moving on the next place. She lets no one in and is quick to defend herself through whatever means possible.
This precious child knows nothing of peace, and desperately needs a Savior. Please pray with us for her. David is to return to that home within some time to check up on Mary and the situation there. Please pray for wisdom as to what needs to happen. Mary has fled from that place many times in the past, and I know that she will do it again. There is a reason that she flees, and I believe that it was no accident that she ended up on the Obong'o Land with this amazing family, and by no coincidence that we were there to meet her. Please pray that we here would have wisdom in how to proceed. Please, please, please, pray for Mary, that she would come to know Jesus, and that through that relationship, she might touch the hem of His robe, and know His healing power.
Father, I ask that Your Name would be known through the testimony of this child, of Your child, that You would heal her in such dramatic and powerful ways, none could deny Your presence in her life. Redeem her days, Father, as only You can, and as You have done so many times throughout history. Restore this precious girl and heal her heart. Jesus, be, be HUGE in her life. Do what only You can do.
Pray with me, brothers and sisters, that it would be so. My heart's desire is to rescue her, to scoop her up into my arms and take her away from all this. My mind says that she has been through enough, let's just take her with us. But we wait on you Jesus, and the revelation of the perfect plan that You have for her life. I know above all else that this child has not been forgotten by her Creator, and that there is a plan for her. I can say that with great confidence. We wait on you Jesus.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Safari to Village

So, on Monday, we made our way to Kandaria village to visit the family there. On the way out to the village from Kisumu we stopped in to check on a project that was started up for the orphans of House of Hope.

This is a micro-enterprise business development that Pastor Jack in involved in. They are teaching orphan boys the trade of bicycle repair, so that they may work on their own in the future. Currently they have around 35 boys in the program. How cool! And no trip around Africa would be complete without children screaming and waves, and cows walking by.
We drove on tarmac littered with huge potholes most of the way out there, and then traveled a very rocky, uneven, rough dirt road for the rest of the way. It is tough to get out there, but once you do, the eyes feast on such beauty as no city-dweller could ever see. Shortly after we arrived in the village, we watch a rainstorm blow across the valley below. I tell you, our God is incredibly creative and adores beauty. Yeah, this was our view.

The Obong'o land has a handful of homes on it, the first belonging to the father, and the others built by the sons. This is the view from Ogai's house (Ogai is a very respectful term for elder men, it is what they call Rev's father).

The women who live in the village work very hard under very simple conditions. This is the kitchen where all the food is prepared for the family. It is behind the house where we sleep.

And speaking of simple conditions, here is the infamous latrine that we were blessed to use. Here they call it the cho, complete with flies, ants , and snakes.

That evening, the brothers and a local pastor gathered "under the tree" (the meeting room for the Obong'o land) to discuss the meeting that would take place the next day.

Juju got a chance to meet and greet Quaru (Luo for grandfather).

And then Toria moved in for the greetings.

Um, yeah, that would would be my hottie. (Totally inappropriate side-note).

The next day, the leadership community of Kandaria gathered along with a guest from the states to discuss empowerment/betterment options for the village. They first took tea, of course.When tea was finished they adjourned to the official meeting "under the tree." It was a very productive meeting that ranged the topics of education, water, jobs, training, food, healthcare, sickness, and orphans. Whoo. It was very intense and incredibly interesting to hear this leadership team flesh out the issues within their own community and then brainstorm ways forward.

Back at home, the ladies were busy preparing the lunchtime feast for after the meeting. And did they ever prepare a feast!!

And it seems that there were some pineapples theives among the cooks. But who could turn down such a face?
That's all for now y'all. We are back in Kisumu now. We arrived on Friday evening and are now awaiting Rev's arrival from Nairobi. He is on a plane as I type and will be in shortly this morning, Saturday morning. I love y'all and can't thank you enough for adventuring with us, on your knees. Glory to God for His faithfulness!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Heartbreak

The girls are napping and I am sitting in the gathering room, settling in for some quiet time myself. Next to me sits a young lady of maybe 13 or 14 years, who holds a world of hurt inside of her. In the time that I have been here, I have learned bits and pieces of her story, and have come to find out that no one here really knows much at all about her. She has been closed up, mostly silent since she arrived here on the Obong'o land. Her eyes tell a story of hurt, and her mouth is silent. For all intents and purposes, she is considered an orpan.

Apparently, she was initially found by some of the orphan boys who were tending the cattle in the surrounding area. They found her wandering by herself and invited her to come with them, assuring her of safety and security. So she showed up for a night and stayed for four months. During that time, the family here at home were working to find out where she came from and who should be missing her. She was evidently very hesitant to open up and share anything about herself.

After some time, they were able to find some who claimed that “she belonged to them,” and so she was returned to them, a several hours’ drive to get there.

Several months later, she showed back up again, having walked all the way, searching out the Obong’o family. This time she was completely silent, but retreated to small house here for safe haven. There are small handful of ladies here on the land that she speaks very briefly with, but she has not shared any of who she is, where she comes from, and what she is running from.

She has been here for weeks now, and is slowly starting to come out of the house a little more. She will occasionally be seen in the kitchen helping the ladies cook, and has evidently helped with some chores around the land, but remains silent. The day that we arrived, she happened to pop her head out the house while we were gathered “under the tree” and the family encouraged her to come and greet us. She was quite hesitant, and even when she came to shake our hands, did not make look at us or say a word. She just hung her head and extended her hand. Her name is Mary. The family here has welcomed her here unconditionally and desires to allow her to feel safe again before asking any questions of her. So they are giving her time now.

Today, one of the sisters here was cutting Mary’s hair, so the girls and I ventured out to try to become acquainted with her. It was the first time that I saw her even attempt to crack a smile, and a few times she even full-on chuckled at the girls’ antics. For any who disagreed with us bringing the girls with us to the mission field, we saw today how God uses the pure innocence and delight of children to shine His light. Mary doesn’t speak any English, and I don’t speak Swahili or Luo, so all I could do was smile at her and throw out what few Swahili words I do know. She smiled, though, and it radiated through all of Heaven. Oh, the beauty that came forth when her face lit up. If only you could have seen it.

As I type this, she is sitting next me browsing through a few of the girls’ storybooks that we brought along. And for the first time, I heard her speak, though I have no idea what she said.

How my heart longs for her, to know what she has buried in her heart, and to know the source of the great sadness in her eyes. How I long to hold her close as only a mother could. How my heart breaks for her to know that she has a Healer, and that there is a Way through whatever she has endured.

Friends, if you are a praying people at all, please pray for Mary. Pray that she would continue to find refuge here on the Obong’o land, and that through the love and safety that she receives here, that she would begin to open up about who she is and her story, and that through that process, she would find healing, ultimately through Jesus Christ Himself.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back Online - Updated with photos

***Updated with photos

This photo is from the London airport. I just couldn't resist posting it because I think that they are two of the most precious people in the world! Who doesn't love a good cuddle with daddy?

Well, we are online once again. We had gotten a wireless modem when we arrived to Kenya, for the sake of staying connected and being able to continue working arrangements for the various things that we are doing here, and for several days it was on the blitz, refusing to open at all. So now we are reconnected and it seems that I need to catch everyone up before we fall too far behind.

Currently the girls are napping and the Rev. has made his way back into town, with the girls and I remaining as official villagers in the bush of Kenya for the next several days. This is going to be an adventure! But now I have gotten ahead of myself. Let me reverse a bit.

So we arrived in Kisumu on Friday evening, after taking a short and very loud flight from Nairobi. I have never flown into Kisumu before, and I am not necessarily the biggest fan of those small hopper planes, so I got to paint on a cheerful face in order to create a cheerful heart. And by God's grace and mercy, we arrived safe and sound, and were welcomed by a small host of friends and family who had been waiting at the airport to greet us.

Saturday morning I was informed that I was going to preach at Pastor Oketch's church on Sunday morning for the English-speaking service, less than 24 hours away. Preach. I contemplated vomiting and then crying, or crying and then vomiting, but when the girls laid down for their afternoon naps, God helped me put words and organization to things that He had been laying on my heart to share. Little did I know that it would be shared the following morning.

It was great though, and as far as I know, God spoke a word that morning, that we all needed to hear. It was very exciting, and I am truly humbled and honored for the opportunity to share God's Word.

After church, we adjourned to the beach front of Lake Victoria to enjoy a feast of fish. Now, for those who know me, you know that I am not the biggest fan of seafood, of any kind. I've seen people get down right vicious when it comes to the last shrimp in the bowl, but I am certainly not one of those folks. But I do have to say that the fish that comes out of Lake Victoria is hard to beat, and who could turn down such a loving face?
We then enjoyed a short, restful afternoon, only to head back to the church so that the Rev could preach in the evening service. Our precious Juju decided to help him out.

Monday morning we loaded up and began the journey out to the village, where I have been ever since. It was good to come home and see the family. We were welcomed very warmly, especially the granddaughters, though they weren't quite sure about the place at the time. They have adjusted well now and run around it as if they own it.
Tuesday we welcomed various leadership from across the community into a meeting with us and a partnering organization in order to brainstorm a plan of betterment and empowerment for the people of this village. It was so interesting to listen to them talk about the struggles and challenges they are facing as a community here, and their hearts' desire to find a better way for future generations. By God's grace, a way will be made.

Rev left on Tuesday evening with the other visitors in order to head back to Kisumu so that he could catch a flight back to Nairobi on Wednesday, that would be today. He will be gone until Friday, and we will stay here with the family until then.

I have more pictures to put up, but the camera is in the other room where the girls are sleeping right now, so I will try to do that later or tomorrow. We are all doing well, having adjusted to being here. Life is so different here, humbling. We took a sponge bath yesterday afternoon, outside in an outhouse type of structure. And I have to say that of all the things to miss, I most miss a toilet. Simple. Toilet. Thank God for the facilities He has blessed you with. Lest you have a fly-swarming hole to squat over. The other night, we were out at the squatty potty (Toria and I). She had finished her business and was standing just outside of it, waiting for mommy to finish her business, when she announced, "Look mommy, it's a snake." Wanna see a white hiney move faster than an African cheetah? Tell her there's a snake coming into the latrine. The best part, in the end it was only a caterpillar. I guess to a toddler, that looks like a snake. That's a nice visual to end on today. Love y'all.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Jet Lag

Whoa. Jet lag is such a strange thing! The sun says that it is afternoon, yet the body thinks that it is the middle of the night. It is just so strange. Well, we are doing well adjusting. Toria woke up at 4am last night, and informed us very boldly that she was awake! After letting her know that it wasn’t time to get up, she continued to say, “I’m awake. Mama, I’m awake,” as if to fully justify wanting to get up out of bed, at 4am. After some struggle, she finally went back to sleep about an hour later. Then both of the girls slept until about 8:30 in the morning. They now seem to be back on schedule. My husband spent the day in Nairobi taking care of business and getting some things set up for us, while the girls and I spent a restful day around the hotel. We took a walk over to Nairobi University to look around, and Toria found a flower the size of her head. She carried that thing around all afternoon until we got back to the hotel, at which point she set it on Baba’s desk as a gift for him when he would return from the city.

In the evening, David showed up at the hotel and was able to meet his nieces once again. Toria was so excited to see her Uncle David! We had a great evening in fellowship with our brother! I believe that tomorrow we will be heading to Kisumu and we will begin preparing for the trainings that are coming up. We will see how the day goes tomorrow as to when we will leave exactly. That’s all for tonight. Love y’all!

Cultural Differences

I have learned through our travels that cultural diversity is something to be embraced, cherished, enjoyed. For instance, this morning at breakfast, there was an Asian man sitting at the table next to us. He was thoroughly enjoying his meal, and when he had finished, he sat back and let out the loudest belch I have ever heard. I mean, a lip-reverberating, toe curling, belly deflating beeeeelllllllch. Seriously, y’all, it would have made most men quite envious. I was quite impressed, and in my most mature moment, could not help but laugh out loud, as if I myself had just been caught farting (which I wasn’t!). But then I could not stop giggling about it. Seriously, y’all. It was so loud. And the best part was that after that, the man sat back in his seat with a look of absolute satisfaction and pride. His belly was full, his mouth was happy, and he had just let everyone know. It was a priceless moment. Even as I type this now, tears are streaming down my cheeks as I am giggling too hard. So mature.

It’s a beautiful thing when the nations come together. Scripture says that folks from every nation, tongue, tribe, and language will come together before the Throne of Grace. I just wonder what that will be like, what that will look like. There are so many people groups out there, so many different tribes, so many different ways to worship and live out this Christ-life. I just wonder what it will look like around that throne.

And in my oh-so-grown up mind, I can’t help but wonder if there will be belching.

Nasty Mosquitoes and Precious Girls

So, I would like to ask y’all for a little extra prayer coverage for the girls for their health and well-being. We are hoping to start them on some anti-malarial medication within the next few days. We are consulting David about which one will be right for them (for their size and age) and where we can get it. This is just prophylaxis. They do not have malaria. I repeat: They do NOT currently have malaria.

But in the short few days that we have been here, the mosquitoes seem to be feasting on my sweet little girls. We go to bed at night and in the morning, Samson and I are untouched, but the girls will have several new bites all over their bodies, even though they are wearing full pajamas. We are headed to Kisumu later on this evening, and it is supposedly warm and rainy there, and the mosquitoes have been persistently nasty. Just about everyone in the family there has had a bout with malaria, and so we are taking precautions for the girls. I would just like to amp up the prayer coverage over them for this reason.

On a side note, somewhere between leaving Tucson and arriving in Nairobi, Juju seems to have cut two new teeth. She did remarkably well with them, as neither one of us even noticed new teething until I saw the teeth sticking up last night.

Victoria has been an incredible ambassador since we arrived here in Nairobi. She has just been a chatty little girl with almost everyone she sees, stopping to ask folks their names and how they are doing. She is definitely her daddy’s daughter. She doesn’t get that from me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday, June 12, 2008 - Landed in Nairobi

So, we made it to Nairobi safely. We arrived this morning along with 6 of our seven bags. Supposedly the seventh is “somewhere” that has yet to be determined. That is incredibly useful information. But we are all doing well, and we just praise God for how great the trip over was. The girls did wonderfully, even sleeping for several hours on this last leg of flights. Evidently there were some Kenyan dignitaries on the flight with us, so our plane landed a bit removed from the airport, so that the dignitaries might receive “red carpet” treatment as they disembarked and their security folks could pick them up. So as we were coming off the plane, we also were able to walk the red carpet, and then lots and lots and lots of tarmac to make it back to the airport. It came out to be kind of a raw deal for those of us not having security cars there to pick us up. But by God’s grace, we had enough strength and energy to make the long walk back to the airport, with several bags and two babies in tow.

We were able to get some lunch at our favorite local restaurant here in Nairobi and then come back to the hotel to take fabulous naps in the afternoon. Hopefully we can get a good night’s sleep tonight and be ready to go in the morning.

Nairobi feels a bit different from when I was here last. I have not seen any obvious signs of violence or disruption, but there are less obvious things in the city that just put change in the air. Evidently, the public matatus (overcrowded taxi buses that could easily pull off the “clowns in a small car” stunt without a challenge) have been banned from entering downtown Nairobi, so the chaos and congestion that comes from those has been removed. There are also noticeably fewer people walking the streets of Nairobi. Many have been displaced to other parts of the country because of all that happened. The streets are still busy, don’t get me wrong, just not as busy, which is different.

David flew in from Kisumu this evening, so we are looking forward to seeing him in the morning. We will be in Nairobi for the next several days, taking care of some paperwork and business, and then we will head out west to Kisumu. Please pray with us for the vehicle that God would have us buy and use for His glory. We are searching, trying to find the right one at the right price. Please pray with us for that.

I think that’s all for tonight. Not much really to tell of, other than the great trip over and the incredible mercy of our Father. He is good, y’all. So good.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pausing in London

Hey friends,
So we are currently in London, with about 4 more hours in our layover before we complete the journey to Nairobi. I have not yet slept since we woke up on Monday morning. My eyes are a bit heavy and burning, to say the least. But by God's grace and His strength, we will all get through this. The girls have done marvelously thus far. Juju is currently taking a quick nap on daddy's chest and Toria is resting quietly next to me on this hard bench. We have had quiet, uneventful flights thus far and are looking forward to this last leg.
We praise God for His mercy in getting all checked in. The lady who checked our many bags in didn't even flinch at the slight overages that each bag seemed to have. They were all a few pounds over the accepted limit, and yet she slapped tags on all of them and sent them on their way. Thank you Father for that mercy.
I can't think of much else to tell you as of yet, other than to sadly report that I made the most expensive Starbucks run I have ever made. Here in London, precious Starbucks drinks are almost twice the price in the states, and they weren't even as good! But it was an added jolt to get me to the plane, so all in all it was worth it. Never again, though.
Thank you for your prayers and encouragements. I will write more as I am able. We land in Nairobi Wednesday morning at around 6:30, which would be Tuesday night Tucson time (10hr difference). Grace and peace to all. Love you!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Bags are packed, and by last check, all was within the allowed luggage weight to fly without penalty. The house is clean, mostly, the kids are getting dressed. We are ready, to say the least. We were blessed thoroughly yesterday as many friends and family turned out for an ordination ceremony at our church for my husband. It is truly humbling to know that there is such a foundation of people standing with us. To know that you will be going with us and adventuring with us on your knees is just all the more exciting. Well, our flight leaves at 3pm, so we will be heading out later in the morning. Thank you for your prayers, friendship, and support, and I will write again on the other side of ocean. Love y'all!

Friday, June 6, 2008


No, I am not referring to me, though the babies did leave their mark. We are knee deep in packing, cleaning, and preparing to leave. Is this an acceptable carry-on?
Seriously, who could say no to this face? She's got her dolls and all. She's ready to go.So we have packed 7 bags, redistributed things, weighed, reweighed, and we are still 26 lbs over the weight limit. The problem is, I am too good when it comes to packing. Seriously. Don't worry. I won't pack the baby. So when I have a bag that's overweight, I have been moving things around, trying to redistribute it into a lighter bag. I think there's something wrong with the scale though. Seriously, I've been saying this for years, but this time I mean it. I'll move a really small thing into an underweight bag, and it will shoot way over, or not change at all. The scale's broken. I'm not kidding.
Well, we are getting wrapped up, excited. Monday y'all. Please don't forget about us. We so desperately need your prayer coverage to bridge the gap for us. We'll be the arms, if you'll hold them up. I'll write more as I'm able. Love y'all.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Baby check up

So, we took Juju for her 15mo check up today, a little early, but we will be in Africa when she actually turns 15mo. She is growing well, is healthy and strong, and has even inched her way up the growth chart by a few percentage points!! WooHoo!! She is now at 50% for height and 30% for weight. Go baby!! But she did get two horrible shots today, one in each thigh, which just breaks a mommy's heart! To see her precious little face looking around, smiling at everyone, maybe wondering why everyone is crowding in on her, and then BLAM! Two gigantic bee stings on her legs. Oh the betrayal!! Oh the horror!! How could this happen??? She was crushed, and cried and cried and cried. Not any normal cry, but the body heaving, can't catch a breath in between type of cry. It was awful!!! But then they gave her a chocolate lollipop, and she was all better. That's my little princess!