Tag Archives: Abba’s House

Kingdom Work

I sat on the floor surrounded by purple walls covered in calk—drawings, encouraging words, scripture verses. It was my first week in Kenya and everything felt so right. We talked, prayed, and then a girl I’d just met read me like a book.

“I see you being a constant person in these kids lives,” she told me. “Meeting them at the door when they come home from school and creating a journal for them with a section for each child a book that will really encourage them later in life” I smiled because as a writer I liked the idea of that project and as soon as I arrive at the children’s home I know that it was the place where God wanted me to be. I had done a lot of different things in life, but now I was more than ready to be that constant person for these kids who had had so many traumatic experiences in life.

Her next words blew me away. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she said. “Whether that be financial or just help with something small through out the day. It’s all kingdom work.” Her words blew me away because they cut past my calm exterior and broke me open revealing one of my greatest insecurities—asking for help. I hate asking for help I don’t know if it’s pride (I can do this on my own) or insecurity (I don’t think I deserve people’s support). It’s probably a mix of both. I don’t know, but what I do know is that one of my greatest struggles is asking for help. Maybe I try to do it on my own because I’m afraid of rejection if I ask for help and no one responds. Maybe I try to do things on my own because I feel an unwritten responsibility to solve the words problems. Irrational I know, but aren’t most fears irrational?

What I do know is that I do need help. I can’t do this on my own because the work that God has called me to do is so much bigger than myself. It takes a body. Whether that be the day to day work of taking care of 17 kids or the financial strain of taking four kids to the dentist in one week when only one out of those four kids is financially sponsored. You don’t tell the other three kids, “Sorry you can’t get your teeth fixed your not fully sponsored.” You just take them to the dentist and pray that God will provide. He does provide, and He usually provides through people because He wants to use His children. He wants them to be blessed by become apart of something greater than themselves. It’s a beautiful thing, yet scary at times when your bank account starts to get really skinny.

I’ve added a Support Me in Kenya link to the top of this blog because I do need help, and I want to allow those who God calls to help to be able to support me. I don’t even like to talk about money, but God has been teaching me to do things that I don’t like in order to serve a greater good. Thank you for those who have supported me. You really are doing kingdom work as every day I am blessed by being able to see the kids at Abba’s House live changed lives. It’s rewarding, and it’s a beautiful thing to be able to extend this rewarding experience to others as well. Thank you for investing in His kingdom.

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To the Unsung Kates

“And she’s only 24,” I asked for about the third time as I stood in the kitchen of Serving His Children a malnutrition clinic that reaches out to children in Uganda suffering from malnutrition. I didn’t get to meet Renee while visiting my cousin who is volunteering at the clinic Renee started. But I didn’t have to meet her to know that she is an incredible woman. I looked at the walls and walls of pictures showing what the children looked like when they came and what they looked like when they left. It’s hard to argue against pictures. Renee’s organization (which she first had a vision for when she was 18) educates mothers and relatives about proper nutrition, gets kids back to a healthy weight, seeks to meet families spiritual needs, and checks up on the children once they have returned home to ensure that they stay healthy.

 

Just a few of the children whose lives have been saved by Serving His Children

Just a few of the children whose lives have been saved by Serving His Children

It’s facebook trend at the moment to post the story of Kate Davis author of Kisses from Kate. An incredible story of a young girl who came to Uganda and ended up adopting 13 girls. I haven’t read Kate’s book. I intend to. I’m sure I’ll be able to relate to a lot of her experiences. The longer I’ve lived in Kenya the more I’ve discovered that there are many, many “Kates” maybe not as celebrated but they are definitely making a difference in this crazy world that we call home.

People like Reah whose husband died suddenly leaving her to take care of their young daughter and over 30 children who live at Morning Star Children’s Home. She’s dealt with no money coming in to pay for food, the government threatening to take away her kids, and too many other stories to tell. At the end of the day she trusts in God, and He has brought her through each day.

Or people like Ruthann who manages Abba’s House the children’s home where I work. She’s 24 as well and has been here from the beginning when the youngest boy (who was around 5 at the time) thought it was ok to go to the bathroom in the middle of the living room floor, or when one of our girls thought that taking a shower meant dumping a huge bucket of water over her head flooding the bathroom just before everyone arrived for the grand opening. She’s had to go after a child who ran away because he didn’t want to eat cabbage for dinner and has had to break up fights in the beginning when the kids thought it was ok to settle their differences using physical means.

I could go on and on telling more stories of more people (young people) who are quietly making a big difference in the midst of difficult circumstances. Not to take anything away from Kate Davis, my cousin has met her and she sounds like an incredible, down to earth person who really should be celebrated. I guess my point is that there are a lot of “Kates.” They may not have time to write a book at the moment, but they all have incredible stories. They may not have their story passed around on facebook, but that doesn’t make their story any less inspiring. They make me stop and ask what more can I be doing with my life because they are all younger than me and are living so close to God that’s it’s hard not to feel changed just by knowing a piece of their story. So thank you to everyone who is quietly making a difference in life no matter your age, no matter how celebrated or uncelebrated you are. The world does not appreciate you enough, but your reward in heaven will be great.

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Grass Circle Therapy

We sat on the grass circle in the middle of our driveway braiding hair and soaking in the warm Kenyan sun. I worked on one of the little girl’s hair while the older girls took turns braiding each other.

“Sometimes in the camps we used to not eat lunch until 4 pm,” Zippi said completely out of the blue. We’d been talking that week as a team about trying to help the kids work through problems from their past, so when this window opened I ran with it.

“How many meals a day did you receive? What type of food did you eat? How many people did the food feed,” I asked. As Zippi and I talk her brother John suddenly chimed in “My mom tried to leave me in a sewer,” he said. His ten year old eyes looked hurt and distant. “She was not a good mom.”

We kept talking. John in Swahili. Zippi in English. Zippi told the story of how when there had not been enough food in the house her mom had threatened to feed them kerosene. That’s when her aunt took her and her brother away from their mom, she said. Sadly, her youngest sister stayed with her mom. Zippi vowed to one day find her.

We talked about healing. We talked about God’s protection. We talked about how going through hard times grows you and lets you comfort others. We talked about not judging someone who has hurt you but letting God judge them, and as we sat on that grass circle I thanked God for the opportunity to see a small piece of my kids begin to heal.

I don’t have nightmares at night, John does. I don’t know what it’s like to be abused by a relative or to have to work all day cooking and cleaning then staying up late at night just to get your homework done. Zippi knows what that feels like. I don’t know what it feels like to be abandon, uncared for, or neglected; but I am happy that our kids are here now safe and loved.

“I was so excited the night before I came here that I didn’t sleep the whole night,” Zippi told me the other day. They’re here now. They’re safe. They’re loved and free to just be kids. Thank you to everyone who has supported me so that I can be here for them whenever the kids decide to share their stories. Thank you to everyone who helps support a child at Abba’s House. You are changing lives, shaping hearts, and allowing them to become the people God created them to be—loved, chosen, accepted and whole.

John enjoying the grass circle

John enjoying the grass circle

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Starry, Starry Night

The kids were inside eating s’mores for the first time. It had been a crazy day so while our guests from the US (one of our volunteer’s parents) entertained the kids with sticky marshmallows the rest of us retreated to the front porch to steal some sweet silence out under the stars.

The generator had run out of gas so we watched the fading sunset in untainted silence and broke into the Reese cups that my parents had sent out. “It’s the little things,” Jason said as he enjoyed his chocolate. He was up visiting for the weekend and with 17 kids to take care of we always welcome having an extra set of hands to help out around the house.

I leaned my head back against one of the porch pillars and watched the stars appear. The kids were squealing in the background as they enjoyed their sticky treats. They brought us marshmallows toasted over the jico, and I thanked God that nothing had caught on fire.

Our semi-silence didn’t last long as the kids (now on a sugar high) joined us outside. They raced each other in the darkness, sang at the top of their lungs, and Zippi started telling us a story about how she was going to fly us all in a rocket up to the moon. Michelle climbed up on my lap with her fuzzy red blanket. She twisted her fingers in mine and as I looked down at those little fingers and then back up at the sky I thought, “this is life, and I won’t trade it for anything.”

Even with the sticky messes and problems that come with working with kids from difficult backgrounds, it’s so rewarding—seeing them grow, seeing them learn, seeing them realize that this is a stable home and it’s ok to just be yourself, seeing them take care of each other, seeing them understand the heart of God. Every minute is precious. Every day so full of purpose. I’ve found my place, my heart, my home. God creates everyone with a purpose a reason to be on this earth and when you find that purpose complete and fulfilled in the middle of a starry night it’s a beautiful thing. I know He has even more for me. I know this is a path, a journey with even more stories to write, but for now I’m content just to be where He has me. To wrap my fingers in His and to take in each moment one starry night at a time.

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They’ve Come from Far

“They’ve come from far,” she said. It was 4 a.m. We were sitting on the couch drinking ginger tea and talking until the sunlight slowly crept through the windows. The caretaker’s wife had had an asthma attack in the middle of the night and had knocked on the window of the children’s home asking to borrow money so that he could take his wife to the hospital.

I was glad Margaret had decided to spend a couple days at the home. She and her husband had started the Crying Children of Africa project after growing attached to a group of children living in IDP camps. Most of the kids lost their parents after the political violence which took place in Kenya back in 2007. It has been a long time coming, but the children were able to move into their new home in January.

Abba’s House, a beautiful home with a bright red roof and seventeen precious children living together as a family. Most of the children lost their parents during the political violence. A couple of them had parents died from AIDS. Two of the kids are from Picot a very remote area in Kenya. They were found abandoned after their fathers were believed to have killed their mothers. The one little boy was found trying to nurse on his dead mother. Stories that break my heart and make me squeeze the kids just a little bit tighter when they want a hug.

With the caretaker and his wife safely on their way to the hospital, Margaret and I stayed up just talking. She told story after story about how God had lead her and her husband through the process of starting this children’s home. I listened amazed at how God has worked through this Kenyan couple bringing people along the way to help them during the journey and providing what was needed at just the right time.

“They have come from far,” she said telling me about how James used to take off his gum boots and hug them to his chest when he walked through mud because he didn’t want to get his precious shoes dirty.

Later in the week Alyssa and I took on the project of organizing the kids shoes. Charity still has the shoes she came with. A pair of sandals made out of an old tire. Now when I look at their shoe shelf I see rows of neatly stacked shoes with polished black shoes for school and a variety of gym shoes in various stages of disrepair. Now our project is to get all of the kids gym shoes that fit, have laces, and are in good condition so that when they play outside they will not get any foot injuries (we had four foot injuries just last week). My church back in the states just collected shoes and is sending out two suitcases this week stuffed with shoes, clothes, and other goodies.

It makes my heart happy just being able to be a part of these 17 kids lives, and I’m so thankful for everyone else who has taken an interest in them as well. These kids are going to go even farther in life. I see it in their eyes and in their love for God. I’m just thankful that I get to walk along side them on this incredible journey.

Charity and her tire shoes

Charity and her tire shoes

Washing shoes

Washing shoes

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Some Times it Pours

I’m sitting on my bed listening to the soothing sound of falling rain and wondering how to even start this blog post. It’s been a week—ups downs and everything in between. I’ve been in Kenya just over a month now and overall it just feels right, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some bumps. Two weeks ago Ruthann, who has been working at the children’s home for over a year, left to spend four weeks with her family. The same day she left the kids’ teachers decided to go on strike (of course). I wasn’t left by myself though. Vicky, who is Kenyan, works at the children’s home five days a week and does an amazing job cooking. A couple days after Ruthann left Alyssa, who is a new volunteer, arrived.

The best part about the strike is not having to get up at 5:30 am to get the kids ready for school. The four youngest kids are still going to school because they go to nursery school (kindergarten) which is still in session because the teachers are paid by the parents and not by the government. But, getting up at 7 am to get them off to school is much easier than getting up at 5:30am.

Fast forward to Thursday. I walked to get the littlest kids from school and James, the tiniest one of the group, was drooping as he walked. He said his eyes hurt and he was hot all over. I carried him home on my back and checked his temperature when we got to the house. He had a fever of 102 which really worried me because he is so tiny. I can literally put my thumb and middle finger around the bottom of his leg he is so small. Vicky and I took James and two of the other girls who were not feeling well to the hospital. After several hours of waiting the doctor finally saw the kids and sent us home with a bag full of meds.

Friday I woke up with a sore throat. I didn’t think to much of it but as the day went on I keep feeling worse and worse. By the time I went to bed I knew I was sick, and I spent the weekend either in bed or on the couch helping when I could but feeling pretty useless. I blew through my only box of Kleenex and my nose was not happy with my when I had to switch to toilet paper. Every day I would go to bed hoping to feel better in the morning but wake up only feeling worse. The nights were the hardest. I would wake up at crazy hours of the night with a fever and a sore throat that hurt so bad that it would take me forever to fall back to sleep. By Monday, I starting feeling a little better and by Tuesday I was able to function again.

The rest of the week went fairly smoothly. Most of the kids ended up getting sick as well but didn’t stay sick for long. On Wednesday Alyssa and Vicky took one of the older boys to the doctor, but the rest of the kids seemed to get better on their own. Alyssa and I started doing school at home with the kids and for the most part that has gone well.

We’ve taken a lot of walks, gone to a nearby field to play football (soccer), and enjoyed movie night on Fridays. The kids have really been great. They work hard, play together well (for the most part), and are a pleasure to be around.

On Monday afternoon I was starting to feel worn out again. I was sitting on the couch listening to one of the kids read and started thinking about how much I wanted to take a nap. Just as things were starting to look a bit over whelming, Pastor Simon and his wife drove up and gave Alyssa and me the chance to go to Kijabe for a couple days rest. It’s been wonderful- a hot shower, electricity, and good Internet access. Today we headed over to my aunt and uncle’s house where we baked some chocolate chip cookies and just hung out. It’s been nice being able to rest, eat something besides rice and beans, and just take a little breather.

I already miss the kids though. They have such a big piece of my heart, and I’m already ready to go back. Here’s just a taste of my life here. Enjoy and pray that what they are now calling the endless strike will come to an end.

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The Only Story I Have

6/23/13

“Tell us a story,” he said. My mind went blank. I thought back to the time when I loved nothing better than sitting in the back of a pick up truck surrounded by my brothers and sisters making up story after story as the truck bounced along the red Congo roads.

A story… now all those make believe tales seemed flat, and the only story I wanted to tell was theirs.

We took a walk today the whole tribe of us minus two. Ruthann took the lead looking her usual confident and beautiful self with two kids clinging to each hand and the rest floating around her.

I brought up the back. A newcomer to the Sunday walk, but loving the feeling of two little hands in mine as we walked along the dirt road jumping mud puddles and enjoying the view. I almost lost a flip flop at one point when I miss judged the depth of a puddle. I managed not to lose it completely, and we went on our way past the kid’s school and down towards town. Ruthann left the kids piled up by the bank of the road while she and I ducked into a shop to buy some batteries. The Duka’s (shops) are barely big enough for five people to fit in and the owner sells his goods through a barred window.

The first shop did not have batteries, but the store keeper directed us two stores down. This time we were successful AA’s for 60 shillings (about 70 cents). Now the boys would be able to finish their haircuts. The razor’s battery had given out halfway through leaving two of the boys with partially shaved heads (a sight I’m sure our guests had wondered about earlier in the day when they dropped in unexpectedly). No one had said anything, but I’m sure they were wondering if some new hair style was going around.

After purchasing batteries, we rejoined the kids and headed back down the road. Once again, Ruthann looked like the pide-piper just without the pipe. We of course got looks from people as we walked along—two girls in their twenties and 15 kids parading down the road. We passed the 2 in 1 butchery, and I had to wonder what the second half of the business entailed.

“Make a hole,” Ruthann would yell back, and the kids would part to make room for a bicycle, piki (motorcycle), or a donkey cart. At this point in the walk the two kids holding my hands had switched to two different kids. We took the scenic route back, and by the time the Children’s home was in sight my group of four of the smaller ones was singing and playing with sticks they had picked up on the side of the road.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to tell any other stories for awhile Diki, Kevin, Zippi, Jane, Zach, Nicholas, Veronica, Ruth, Samuel, John, George, Little Kevin, Charity, Virginia, Michelle, Esther, and James have completely captured my heart.

The only story I have

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