12 March 2014

Our mamas

I want to share with you a group of people so very dear to my heart.  I know I've shared testimonies from this group of mamas but for those new to this, I'll do a quick update.  We bought the land for Mattaw Children's Village in 2007.  It was that year that I was told of this precious group of widows that meet every other week.  I knew we had to go.  But God said wait.  It wasn't until years later that we felt the go to go.  We had said yes but He said wait.  Oh how those times are hard but we say yes Lord.  So we started meeting with them in 2011 and they welcomed us with the biggest arms wide open.  The timing was so perfect.  They have invited us over and over again and we have become family with this group of 30-40 women.  Christy was led to us the following year and how perfect the timing was since this group is the biggest part of her heart and ministry she is called to.  So she's been heading up this branch of Mattaw (more on that soon!).  So we've poured into them the encouragement Jesus will give us to share but in return, oh wow, they have taught me more than I could ever learn from a book.  They have taught be more about love and about giving your life for others.  They have hearts of gold.  They are so incredibly rich on the inside with wisdom and God's mercy.  On the outside though, most own just one pair of shoes, maybe a handful of outfits, live off their little plot of farmland to survive and have been left to be the head of their household and have to provide for several grandchildren that would otherwise be left out to die.  Seriously.  They're incredible women of God.  And every time I go I have to fight through the feeling of what can little me give to these incredible women.  But thank goodness its Christ within that is faithful to bring the words of encouragement.  He is faithful indeed!  Here's a video of our mamas.  They were singing a worship song as part of the opening of house five a few weeks ago.






So these women are like the cutest ladies ever.  I hope you gathered that in the short amount of time in this video :).  Seriously yall!  They have joy that burst through their faces so much that they do not have to talk to tell us how much the joy of the Lord is their strength.  You can see it on their face.  But then when we sit with them.  Which every other week they rotate around the village to a different home to meet in.  This too is amazing because some will walk around 10 miles... and they're like 80 years old!  Like I was saying, when we sit with them... and you actually take the time to listen.  And about that.  The listening.  Let me just interject here about that.  I have had to learn over and over again how listening and really caring is such a huge part of Jesus' heart.  The scripture that talks of us partaking in Christ's sufferings... I definitely believe that one part of his sufferings is sitting with the poorest of the poor, those hurting and broken, and really listening and really caring.  That is one obvious way of what love looks like.... sitting... listening... caring.  Like you reading this and hearing these women's stories, is partaking of Jesus' heart and His sufferings.  We have to slow down and listen.  Really hear the heart of people and hear what Holy Spirit is saying where they're hurting or need encouragement.

So a few weeks ago was the last time I went and met with these precious mamas before coming back to Texas.  Oh how they just went on and on about how we shouldn't leave.  Once I explained that my mom and Bud's mom needed to see their grandparents, then they were finally ok with it :).  That part hit home with them since all of them are grandmamas.  We all just love each other so much and being away for the next two months aches my heart!  I could sit and drink chai and listen to them worship Jesus all day.  It's heaven on earth.

Ok now back to the testimony I keep trying to get to.  I go in knowing there's a word to give them so I share but recognize its all super great rich scriptures I'm sharing that they are receiving but it wasn't getting to their heart and what they deeply needed that day.  So we take some time to pray.  I get a word of knowledge that many have aching backs and shoulders.  Sure enough most of them do and sure enough it's because of the stresses they carry.  The Spirit was so faithful to show this.  I share with them the most simple scripture "cast all our burden's on Him because He cares".  Reminding them of promises they've already known but it needed to be revelation to their heart that day.  I share how the world tells us that stress and worry is just part of life.  That the lie the world tells us is "if you aren't worried and stress then you don't care about your problems you are facing".  And how "if you worry and stress, it will help make something happen".  All lies.  A bunch of silly lies that becomes our reality.  They laughed sharing that one of the few words they know in english is "stress" because it is such a common subject.  So I had spent all this time in the beginning teaching on so much that was all good, but once we prayed and Holy Spirit gave a simple and applicable word to their direct need (also known as Him giving us the words to prophecy into their lives) that is where the life came.  That is when the scripture became alive and active and not just words on a page.

Here's what I learned.  Again.  Less words spoken and more power from Holy Spirit given is sometimes whats needed most.  We must walk by the Spirit not by the flesh.  I could have made this elegant four point teaching lesson  (not on my own because elegant bible study makin is not a gift of mine) and they walk away thinking oh what a nice little time of fellowship we just had.  Or the very Spirit of God can give a quick and simple word of knowledge to get to the hearts and impact lives so powerfully.  (Isaiah 11:2, 1 Corinthians 12:8)  He is alive on this earth and moving in the hearts of people who will just listen.  And just act according to what they hear.  I could sit here and keep writing and writing and writing all the testimonies that these mamas shared that day.  One after another shared of how God directly met their needs whether it was physical healing, provision or restoration in their family.  One came in not breathing well and when we laid hands on her and prayed for Jesus to remove it, it lifted off and she just praised and worshiped Jesus out of deep gratitude.  God so loves the mamas too!

Once we prayed and all handed over their burdens to the Lord and renounced all stress and worry, then more healing came.  Almost every person that came in hurting, left feeling peace and no more aching in their backs.  ALL glory to God.  Did I mention He is faithful?!  I just love Him even more seeing His love meet widows in a little village in their greatest time of need.  His love never fails.  (1 Corinthians 13:8)

09 March 2014

Tuanane...

Tuanane means see you later in swahili and last week we had to say that A LOT to our friends and family around Mattaw and Kitale.  This past week we took the jump back across the big pond and have landed our feet back in Texas soil.  Oh how bittersweet it always is!  We all kissed our babies and said see you later.



We are back in the grand state of Texas for a few months.  We'll be here to spend time with our family, travel around to visit churches and share about Mattaw and also spend a lot of time with our Garden church family.  What a sweet reunion its been so far to be back with friends and family.

These are a few of my favorite things...  rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens... oh no, no rain or cats... but kids seeing grandparents, back with our son Caleb (he's in his second year of college!), being out at the home of super dear friends over the weekend, being in the new beautiful church building of our church fam,  eating some awesome mexican food, eating chick-fil-a, driving on smooth roads, starbucks, blueberries and raspberries and just getting to actually hug our friends and family.  Phone calls and skype for the past year has been good but man oh man are hugs so sweet!

We of course are missing so much in Kenya too.  It doesn't take long to start missing so many things.  No matter how many times we jump back and forth, there are always things to adjust to.  Like I really thought the parking guy at the airport in Texas was speaking swahili to us.  Not sleeping under a mosquito net at night freaks me out a bit.  It's like going camping outside without a tent.  Plugging in anything and not going to look for a converter first.  Getting in the car on the wrong side.  Having to tell myself which side of the road to turn on when I turn right.  Standing in lines and people giving you space.  Men holding the door open for you when going in a public place.  Going to the grocery store and being overwhelmed by how many options of yoghurt or cereal there is.  Just some normal human things in transitioning cultures.

There are so many updates though that I can actually sit and share with you.  Many stories over the past couple of months that have just floored us with God's love and goodness.  With some stinkin awesome internet, a heart full of testimonies and some adorable pictures, we will get our blog and website full of new posts.  So keep a look out!

One of the most incredible stories I can share with you real quick is that we have officially opened house five.  We were so blessed to open it the day before we left Kitale.  What an absolutely beautiful day of seeing God form a family from his very heart.  What I know and believe is that our God is so very faithful.  He will complete everything He promises to do.  Here's a glimpse into our day of opening Ukarimu House.  Ukarimu means goodness or kindness.  How deep his goodness and kindness is towards children people have left to die.  Psalm 68:6... God sets the lonely in families...


04 February 2014

Third Culture Kids



Raising "Third Culture Kids".  Also known as TCK.  




Part of me is hesitant to talk about this.  For one because the more people we network with and the more people that follow this bliggity blog of ours, the more I want to retreat and hide out, keeping our family as private as I can.  Of course, there's some wisdom in that, but there's also a time to get real and share real life situations to learn and grow together.  The other reason is because we are still very new to raising our own children in general, let alone raising our children in another culture.  But we have found that when God calls you to something, He doesn't just leave it up to you to stumble around and find your way.  The God who created the heavens and earth is actually right by our side every step of the way when we follow Him and put our trust in Him.  His Holy Spirit has been our teacher and comforter in this area.  Not to say we don't have some messy days and crazy kids every now and then but wow, I'm so grateful to have the spirit of wisdom from God.  I'm also forever grateful for some pretty incredible parents of older kids along the way that have spoken wisdom into our lives.  So here's my attempt to share a little into our journey of raising TCK.  

Oh and one more reason is there are a lot of books and articles on this subject.  When moving to Africa (before I was married and before having children), I had no idea of the term "third culture kids".  Then after our first born, I started hearing more about it and was recommended the books.  I haven't read even close to half of them.  Actually haven't picked up and read a whole book about it, mostly because of the responsibilities we have here and raising three small children and three teenage boys in our home. But I have wanted to!  So this is just our journey and what I've learned so far. 

I've learned with living here that sometimes it's better not to read too much but let God and those discipling us to teach us.  Mommy blogs and articles are great but sometimes, it's too much.  This might not even make sense unless you're living in a culture far removed from America.  Labels and 5 step programs to a better child can limit your parenting regardless of where you live and then trying to do things the way American moms do and applying it here, doesn't always work out.  Perfection in parenting can be your biggest enemy.  Excellence in parenting with complete reliance on the Lord is a better mindset.    

I like to stay in touch with whats going on in America to a degree.  Missionaries long ago barely had communication through phones and relied on letters every few weeks or months.  That's not us.  We can get on the internet everyday, check facebook, skype with grandparents, call a friend and chat a bit for only a few dollars, and make a handful of recipes of foods we miss (i said handful, ha).  Which makes it easy to raise our children with familiar things from our culture.  At the same time, I want them to grow up loving Kenya and Africa as well and things like Kenyan food and the language to be normal.  

We homeschool.  I know I tend to go back to this subject but at the moment, this is a lot of my life.  I don't homeschool to shelter him.  Hello.  We moved to another country.  But at the same time, we can't lock ourselves down in our compound here, which some days is easy to want to do.  We go to Mattaw often and make friends around here.  We travel around Kenya and make friends where we go.  My kids have made friends with Kenyans, kids from Australia, from Switzerland, America and many other places around the world.   They don't look at the color of skin and think anything different.  In my kids eyes, we're all equal and that's how God intended us to see one another.  




There are reasons I'm glad I'm not raising our kids in the culture we grew up in and at the same time many reasons I miss not being able to raise our kids in America.  Facebook will keep us up to date on some things.  I came across an article of a public school in America kids can't even mention having a gun that blows bubbles at home and asking a friend if they want to play with it for fear they'll be expelled.  It didn't even cross my mind about there being anything wrong with the first picture above but I'm gathering that if Elisha took it to show and tell in a public America school, he'd be in huge trouble and I'd be frowned upon as a parent.  When here, our Mattaw kids make bows and arrows all the time and we found a few days ago all the little boys eager to get out of school and play with them first thing.  No one thinking anything of it.  Anywho, not to get off on that subject or ruffle any feathers.  

I've learned that being missionaries or even just being people that are from another country and now living halfway around the world, that you can't put yourself in a box of how you do things.  Some people will send their kids to boarding school, some will home school and some will send them to local day schools.  We have to do what we feel God has led us to and not judge others if they do it differently.  Some missionaries live in huts and others live in western type houses.  Some want their children completely submerged in the culture, dressed exactly the same, making the national language their first language.  While others will stay as much to their roots as possible.  Then there's everything in between.  

Comparison is the stealer of joy.

Bud and I started our married life here, making it easier to raise a family here.  We didn't get settled in the American culture then have to transition our family here.  Although we have jumped back and forth, living in the states up to 6 months every few years (to have our babies).  So for us, we've stayed more in touch with family, friends and the culture.  We are here in Kenya for almost a year this time before visiting the states for around 3 months.  In a way, we are nomadic.  But we do not consider this world our own.  This is how all believers should live.  Our home is heaven and we are all on a mission here.  One of the greatest revelations to our generation I've noticed is the common teaching of "missions is not a destination but a lifestyle" and also "missions is a lifestyle all christians are called to, you can do missions wherever you are".  That's another subject though.  I could so keep going off rabbit trails here.  

We have found that you gain some things and lose other things.  Our children lose a lot of the roots where Bud and I were raised, but they gain perspectives, understand more nations and have the ability to communicate with more people.  We are from TEXAS.  And we are very thankful for that.  So you can bet my husband wears a cowboy hat and boots and we have a bit of Texas decor in our house and make a lot of southern meals.  When playing pretend games, Elisha has a hard time deciding if he will be a cowboy with a gun or a tribal warrior with a spear and bow and arrow.   Last year we spent 7 months in the states having our third baby and ended up staying longer than planned for our baby to have heart surgery.  During that time, our kids were able to attend a christian pre-school.  It was great.  And I thought I was really messing them up by letting them get used to life in Texas and they would miss it in Kenya.  Although we do bring it up from time to time, they still call Kenya home and love it here.  When in Texas, they would talk way more about missing our home in Kenya than they do here in Kenya talk about missing Texas.  



(western day at preschool in Texas)

For our children, the life we live is the norm.  I sometimes will process with our children where we live and differences from where we came from.  But I find that it's just all the same to them.  Going or coming, it is normal to them.  Sure, transition back and forth isn't always easy, but it's normal.  They learn so much from watching how we handle it.  When I get to missing their grandparents and our friends, I notice they bring it up more often.  So as that is a healthy thing to miss, I try and not let negative thoughts influence them.  Like complaining about situations here that are hard.  To them,  often power outages and ridiculous bumpy roads are normal.  A trip to the grocery store where people want to touch their hair and laugh at how they talk might not always be easy for them, but it's normal to them.  

Home school is a new learning adventure for this mom.  I found getting Elisha to learn his letters and start reading is HARD.  But we are overcoming.  But in a moment of discouragement at how much he is learning in certain areas, I found a few nights ago our Kenyan sons drilling him on how much swahili he knows.  Although he can talk more than translate, he was able to translate so many words and sentences from swahili to english.  It was just what I needed to be reminded that although he might not be getting the best academic schooling at the moment, socially he is learning far more than I could ever give him in America.  He will grow up knowing many cultures and having a world view that is not intimidating but adventurous. 

We teach our children to embrace every people group, live life through positive lenses, have adventure, ask many questions, travel to the unknown and do not be afraid.

One of the reasons why I ultimately decided to homeschool our kids in their early years (notice I don't have a time frame of how long until they possibly go to a private school, although they might always stay home for school) is because in some way I felt they need a sense of stability and consistency.  Whether we are in Kitale, on safari, in London or America, I can always bring school on the road... or plane.  Family and home should always be a safe haven for children.  And with all the travel  we do, school and our family can be certain to them.  A friend gave me a cooking spatula that says "home is where your mom is".  As simple as that phrase is, it rings true for us.  Wherever Bud and I are, is where home is for our children.  




Another thing important for us for our kids is staying in touch with family and friends in America.  Grandparents are talked to weekly by skype or phone and we have a few best friends in America.  
(cousins and grandparents in Texas)

(Ezra with his Nene in Texas)

(Besties in Texas)


(playdate with friends in Texas)

Although we do not have all the answers to how to do this lifestyle with our kids, we are learning.  This was in no way to say our kids are better because of where we live or what we do.  We all have our calling and have to be faithful to God to keep saying yes.  I'm so thankful to be on this adventure with Jesus and wouldn't have it any other way!

 (Ezra in the middle of Turkana, enjoying the sand and playing with the girls necklace)
(Claire making a new friend in Turkana.  She still talks about her friend Epeyo that lives in the desert)

(Turkana)

(Claire with some of her besties at Mattaw: Blessing, Rosie and Hope)

(Claire with Lucy at Mattaw)

(Elisha playing on a soccer team in Texas)

(Elisha playing soccer in Kenya.. barefoot)




Last thoughts on this, for today, is that my kids are not the center of the universe and are not my entire world.  However, they are a priority and there's a difference in raising and training a child.  There's a difference in maintaining a child and being intentional to train up God-fearing children that will be leaders.  I was talking with missionary friends a few nights ago and found a way to put words to it.  We want to categorize our life... first God, then husband, then kids, then ministry.... or some might change the order.  But when really, God is the center of it all and we allow Holy Spirit to lead us where and when to make each one a priority.  Our marriage, our children, our ministry... its all highly important and Jesus needs to be the Lord of our life and to be the center of each relationship.  

And that's a wrap!

Maria makes me smile!

I can hardly stand it!



Look at those cheeks and that gorgeous smile!  We are continuing to share more about Mattaw over on the Mattaw website:  mattawchildren.com.  So check out today's post about our babies!  For those of you that have been following us this past year, this is baby Maria that was placed in our care in August last year.  Her mom tried to abort her and we are thankful it was unsuccessful!  She came to us at 51 days old.  She had been abandoned in the hospital since the day she was born and had not gained an ounce because of two infections she picked up while sitting in the newborn ward.  What a healthy and happy baby she is now!  But if you only knew how long it took to capture that precious smile.  Maria usually has a very serious look on her face.  We can tell she's a thinker.  Consider sponsoring our babies!  It currently costs us $1,000 a month to care for the four babies.  This includes diapers, formula, food, dr visits, medicines, general supplies and paying our staff.  We are asking for sponsorships at $50 a month.  At Mattaw we do sponsors per child but with the baby home, the sponsorship would go towards all the babies and you would receive monthly email updates on how all of our babies are doing.  When they transition into a family unit at Mattaw Children's Village, they will then be able to be sponsored individually.  We are not sure when they will transition out but it will at least be a year or longer.  If interested, please contact Lisa, our sponsorship coordinator.  Her email is:  sponsorship@mattawchildren.com.  If you are already a sponsor, we need to fill 20 slots of $50 per month to reach our current budget for our babies.  Consider how you could share the stories and pictures of our babies with your friends and families to help us find 20 sponsors!

Rescue a life.  Redeem a soul.  Release the Kingdom.

03 February 2014

Frankline Update!


Hey yall,

Just a follow up on the story I shared of Frankline a few days ago.  I am incredibly thankful at the response to this child which is another reason we know God's hand is so leading this child and providing every way.  

This morning Bud and I went with our managers to meet Frankline and share the good news about his school fees.  We wanted to also meet the mom.  We didn't find Frankline but eventually found the mom.  She had left right before we got there to go to town for the day to collect the food scraps she would feed herself and her children that night.  The first thing we found that was surprising is that she's twenty eight years old. This means she had Frankline around 14 or 15 years old.  I was not expecting to find his mom to be younger than I am!  We then talked with her awhile and heard her faith and strength.  She was orphaned at 5 years old and escaped tribal wars from Mt. Elgon.  She grew up a house girl and never went to school.  Last year she began learning her abc's and now goes to an adult school at a catholic center where she's learning to read.  She was so thankful to hear the good news that Frankline would be able to go to a boarding school next week.  If she could, I know she would personally thank each one of you that have given to make this dream of hers come true for her son.  I asked if she has anything she hopes to do with the rest of her life.  What she shared broke my heart that that was all she wanted in life and has had to fight so hard for.  

She shared, "I have three goals, one is to have shelter to live in with my children, two is for my three children to get an education and three is to have food to eat."  

She now carries around a very old worn out purse with her documents stating from different legal offices what she's been through with tribal clashes and such.  The children's department almost placed her younger children in a home a few years ago because of how bad they were doing but she was happy to still have her children with her.  She joyfully pulled out the pictures of all three children to show us.  We asked about the food situation and if she ever gets sick.  She shared that she goes to a place in the trash bin and the vegetable market and will find scraps and put them together and praise God for them right there out loud.  She said people will tell her she's gone mad in her head but she knows its how God has provided for her.  She said she always thanks God for the food and blesses it and rarely gets sick.  Some mornings, she said she will wake up with a fever but just prays and talk to God and tell him how he's her only solution and within the day she's healed.  We were all so amazed at her testimony.  At one point I had to take Bud's sunglasses, I couldn't hold back the tears anymore.  

We plan to continue visiting this precious family and helping as God leads.  As we walked out of the area she lives in, she grabbed my hand and in the little english she knew said thank you and God bless all that have helped.  I couldn't find the words to explain how much she's taught me today.  I'm forever grateful to know this woman and once again, have a different outlook on life.  You can bet our prayer before we eat dinner tonight will be with deeper gratitude than it was yesterday. 

I can't thank you enough for being a part of this family and changing lives not just here on earth but eternally.  

Tomorrow Frankline will go get a health check up that his new school requires and then he will begin doing shopping for all he needs at school.  I'm so thankful he will be able to get EVERYTHING on the list!  He will start next week on Monday and you can for sure look for a picture of one happy boy in his new uniform!

31 January 2014

Frankline

Hey y'all,

My heart is so full of so many things to share and talk about.  We stay very busy from day to day with many things going on around here and when I think to finally sit and share, the power goes out or my kids are needing me and #sorrynotsorry, I choose my kids over a blog :).  There have also been times this last week I would go to blog and decide running with my ipod plugged in and tuning into asking what Jesus is leading us into is what I chose to do instead!  I really want to share all about the incredible growth God continues to do in our children, in our babies, in the family of Mattaw and especially the open door to one of the most precious families ever that live in a very remote place in Turkana.  I'm incredibly humbled that I get to do what I do with Jesus.  Our God is pretty incredible to show us what He is doing in lives and ask us to be a part of it.  So all aside, I have a burning situation that needs to be shared today!

He's not another statistic or just another poor little kid.  He has a name and a face.  And he has BIG dreams.  His name is Franklin.




You see, today I went to this organization that works in the slum that we often will get referrals of kids they find in the worst of the worst situations.  But at the moment, at Mattaw we have more than needed for the kids to fill house five, which we will open in the next 6 weeks.  So my husband being the man of the house that he is and its instilled in him to be the caretaker, doesn't so much like it when we are already trying to get more sponsors for our current kids and trying to get sponsors so we can open house five and I go to organizations like this.  This is wise of him... in most cases.  And he knows all too well that if a desperate child is put in front of me and the people referring them to us have exhausted their resources, that I wont say no.  (and in my husbands heart, he doesnt either!  I know him all too well too!)  So I go to these deep dark places and hear these heart wrenching stories and when I see their sweet faces it's like the love of Jesus just EXPLODES in me and well, I can't keep silent on certain cases that literally JUMP in my face and scream "Jesus is ALL over this, HELP this kid".  So that's pretty much what happened in this situation.

At first, the original plan today was to go meet with this social worker to check up on the paperwork being filed for some children that will be in house five.  Then she brought the news of these children in desperate need.  I wasn't expecting my heart to hit the floor.  And I didn't intend to hear such stories today when I woke up this morning.  Kinda hit me like a ton of bricks actually.  When she first said that one needs school fees for high school, in my mind I rolled my eyes.  Yep, guilty of it.  But I felt Holy Spirit nudge me to keep listening to this story. She shared about Franklin and how he is 13 years old.  They shared about finding him last year when his mom brought him to their center because he was so sick.  They thought he had some serious condition but it ended up only being lack of food.  After several months of rehabilitation, he was able to walk better and go to school.  The mom didn't want him in school because in her mind, he would just finish the 8th grade and have nothing to do after.  But these women encouraged her to let him go to school so she did.  They also shared how the mom was a part of the post election violence of 2007.  Meaning she witnessed some pretty brutal violent attacks in the slum.  She saw bodies hacked with machetes and people beheaded.  So since that time, she has suffered with post traumatic disorder and everyday she wakes up thinking the events she saw have just happened yesterday.  We were told that if you didn't know her condition, you would really believe her that something serious just happened yesterday.  She also has always been used to going to the streets and vegetable markets everyday to collect scraps of food to bring home and feed her children.  Even though this organization supplies them with some food on Fridays, in her mind she still has to go to the streets.

In the middle of her telling us this story, Franklin comes in and I'm surprised to see how small and short he is, questioning if he really is 13. But I remembered them sharing how malnourished he was and near death.  His smile lit up the room though and he was very polite.  He had just come from home where he collected his test results from the 8th grade that would show what high school he could go to.  He had a handful of schools send him letters of acceptance but his teachers wanted to take the letters and give his space to other children.  The women from the organization we were at pleaded with the teachers to give them a chance at seeing if they could find him a sponsor.  I asked Franklin what he wanted to be when he grew up.  I could tell he was caught a bit off guard when I asked but he looked around the room then sat up confidently and said "I want to be a surgeon".  Yeah, he had my full attention by then.  The thing that really brings tears to my eyes is how much he reminds me of our son Caleb that is currently in his second year of University in the states.  This sweet boy has obviously had to fight off many temptations of the life he's been brought up in and has succeeded this far.  He knew exactly which schools had invited him to be part of their school, how much each one was, what needs were required and what dates the first semester started for each one.  He was ready to go, determined to push through the grain and succeed in his education no matter what society was telling him.

We got in the car to go visit his home.  We discovered he lived in a one room mud shack.  His mom was paying rent of around $4 per month.  They are currently getting this amount from a catholic priest who helps those that were affected by the post election violence.  He was very humble and invited us inside.



He apologized for the pile of food scraps on the floor, the social worker explaining to us that its probably the food the mom collected the day before.  Oh how that hurt to see.


The social worker then asked if he has the acceptance letters from the other schools so we could look at the fee structures so that I would know how much sponsorship he needed.  He pulled out this homemade flashlight he had made.  The social worker explained this was the only source of light they had at night and this was another reason she felt he should go to boarding school where he would be guaranteed three meals a day and good lighting at night to do his homework.  Another reason we were amazed, knowing he succeeded this far in school in these conditions.  So this is the light he made.  Its a rolled up piece of cardboard with two batteries inside and outside is pieces of tire stripped down and wrapped to hold it all together, then theres these wires on a spoon that is wrapped around this as well, with a little light bulb.  What?!


We were getting ready to leave and I assured Franklin that he's not a burden, he's not poverty, he's a child with a hope and future and that God clearly has his favor and protection on him.  He smiled and said "I know", then we parted ways.  





It's time the cycle of poverty be broken in Franklins family.  I fully believe the Lord is giving him the chance to be the one to be pulled from darkness, despair and hopelessness and be planted in a firm foundation of Jesus where he will fulfill the destiny God has for him.  The restoration of his life will change many lives and generations ahead.  Bwana Asifiwe!  

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UPDATE:

We are so thankful for those that have responded to Frankline's need for school fees!  We received everything he needs for the year!  

16 January 2014

Happy New Year! Bring on 2014!

Well, first of all, a late Merry Christmas!  I have had at least 20 blog posts I've wanted to make in the past few months!  I'm hoping 2014 will be filled more with more updates on here but I'm not making any promises!  God has rocked our world and we have for sure seen a new depth of His goodness and mercy in our life.  I recall all He has done this past year and can't help but tear up with gratitude deep in my heart.  Of course things arent always perfect and life gets TOUGH.  What we said yes to is definitely not for the faint of heart.  Hearts must be so grounded in Jesus and actually, hearts must be ALL His.   There have been a few restless and sleepless nights and sometimes we get caught in the everyday mundane of life and ask "what are we doing?!" as it sometimes feels like just a drop in the bucket.  But those thoughts are silly and we have to live from heavens perspective.  Where our inheritance is joy and love.  Where He has ordained every step of our life and brings together all the people and resources to make what He has called us to possible.

I'm a dreamer.  Like I could sit in a very dark corner of the earth where its full of disease and extreme poverty, where hope is lost, and I'm able to dream big with our Papa God on what it could look like.

I love to see lives restored and disciples of Jesus made.  I love to see children left to die, given hope and a future.  They come to life like no one I've seen before and radiate love.  They run into your arms without holding back.  They can sing praises to Jesus in the purest way.



I love to see old mamas (widows) that couldn't lift their arm or move their fingers to work in their little farm (which is the way they survive), be touched by Jesus' healing power and run around rejoicing.  Then she turns around to another mama having the exact same problem and she lays her hands on the woman and that woman gets healed by Jesus.  I just love it.





I love to see a three year old that couldn't walk 6 months ago, now running.  He was literally tied up in a plastic bag and left to die on the side of the road.  And now he is strong. And hefty actually.  I love that he can now do puzzles and is very particular on the order of how its done.  He now loves and comforts babies.  And he is always is the first to run and say hi if there's a new visitor.  I love it.  I just love it.  



I love to hold 10 year old girls that were once forced to have sex with 3-4 people a day but now are safe and given an education.  I love to see them excited to learn to read for the first time and dream about being a doctor or teacher when they grow up.  I love to see them freely run and swing in a beautiful yard where their innocence is restored.  I just love it.

I love to see old men that were once cursed by others saying they'll always be poor, realize that they are rich in Christ Jesus and literally see their countenance instantly change as hope is restored.  A man that lives as far into a rural desert as you can get, who has several wives and sees children just as goat herders and girls as objects to give away in return for more goats.  And all that is changing because of one encounter with Jesus.  I love that we saw him not just be told the gospel but now he saw the gospel in action and was given a deep hunger for it.  I love it that his hard heart was softened by a simple act of kindness shown through bags of beans and maize that were given to him consistently, when they needed it the most.  I love that we didn't ask to start a church, to start bible studies, to put up a sign with our ministry logo, or make some name of ourselves... but I love that he said "we are making Jesus our Lord and we want you to come back to teach us the bible.  I don't want to move to a town and start a church.  The church is now here with my family and those around us.  Please come back."  Yeah, that was one of those moments that you realize it's only Jesus, it's the power of Holy Spirit.  It's not some fancy bible degree or 10 step plan on how to plant a church that made that happen.  Just Jesus.  I JUST LOVE IT!



I also love to see people forsake their american dream and run into the darkest places, shining God's light.  I love to see radical lovers of Jesus catch the same heart and vision we have and together we see lives changed and destinies fulfilled.  I love to have labored years to establish a foundation where people can walk in and easily fulfill their hearts desires.  I just love it.



I love it that I'm sitting in a posh coffee and bakery cafe at the moment (waiting to pick up a guest tonight flying in from Florida!), and I'm dreaming of one day going to Congo to do what we do here Then this british business man sits at the next table and I hear him say in a very worried way "there are bombs and shootings going on.  Our people have left and everyone is fleeing to Uganda and Rwanda.  It's brutal.  We can't go.  There are too many problems which we can't control.  There's no guarantee when Congo will be available again for business."   And that's where I want to run into now.  Like it's burning and getting deeper.  Just waiting and listening for our Chief Commander to give the order on when to go.  Because it's all in His perfect timing.  But "here I am Lord, send me", is the cry of my heart.  I've waited 13 years now to go and so I'm in no rush to go before God says to.  But I know I'll love it.  I'll just love it.

I love that Jesus restored a deep friendship two years ago.  That our hearts are knitted together to bring the Kingdom of heaven in ways we never could of thought or dreamed up on our own.  I love that there is more to friendships than just surface, that there's more to discipleship than just a program.  I love that you can actually walk in a relationship with someone that is so centered on Jesus and is so supernatural that you can't even give one word of who they are to you when you introduce them to someone.  "Um, she's my really good friend... mom... sister... ummm... her and her husband disciple us... we're family... she helped start mattaw... umm.. she's on our board...".  That's usually the introduction.   I love that this crazy woman of God laid down her life for Jesus with no compromising and leads by example.  She leads by serving.  She leads by giving.  And I just love her!  And I dont love that she flew out last night but I do love that we spent the last 7 days seeing the heaven invade earth in SO many ways, I could write a book on all that just happened.  I love that my husband and I (and our kids) get to spend the rest of our lives growing as family and friends with this woman and her husband (and their children).  I just love it.



I also love that I have three beautiful children that in this season of life, take a lot of my time and focus. I love that I get to teach them daily.  I love that I can train them up to be laid down lovers of Jesus.  I love that they call this place home.  I love that my baby boy just turned one and is on the verge of walking.  I love that they are full of SO much energy and life.  All three of them.  I love that I'm aware not to let the ministry, the things we are called to outside our home, take away my third calling to be a mom.  I just love 'em!




I especially love the man I'm married to.  I love that we just celebrated SEVEN years of blissful marriage this past Monday.  Ok, so maybe it hasn't always been full of bliss.  Actually it's been quite terrible at some points.  And I wish I could give hope to marriages that feel like it's coming to and end by sharing what a MIRACLE it is that Jesus brought our marriage back to life.  I love that I get to do what I do standing next to this crazy man.  I love that he supports what my heart longs to do.  I love that he has such strong faith in God to do the impossible.  I love that this is the second calling I have.  To be a wife to Bud.  I simply love this man.


And I love that Jesus loves me.  I love that I know I was created to know God and be known by Him.  I love that He showed me my first calling is to Him.  And Him alone.  Jesus is everything.

Like I said, I'm a dreamer.  I love that Jesus speaks in dreams in the night.  Last night I dreamed I had a group of young wild missionaries that were so in love with Jesus.  They were all twenty something years old.  And I loved getting to teach them.  At the end of our talk though, it got very quiet and I kept saying I need to tell them the success to what we do.  I said so strongly in my heart with tears in my eyes "the success to what we do is that I know Jesus and I spend time with him.  A lot.  A lot of time with just him."  I love the word of God.  I love it.  But unless we encounter him, it's just words on a page.  He is real and tangible and His presence is everything.  So, I love it.  I love that he still speaks in dreams and visions.  And I love Jesus.

I just love Him.

 

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