01 August 2015

Summer of 2015

Hi friends!

What felt like weeks, I now see was months since updating this little bliggity blog of ours!  Oh my!  

So, ready for a recap?!  

Last time I blogged, it was our last big trip to Turkana. This past week we went for the first time since then. It was a quick and absolutely cray cray trip. We mainly went to set up everything for this month when we return for some big events!  It was successful and we will share more asap. For now, let's go back to all the happenings around here at the Mattaw Children's Village these past three months. 

It was a summer FULL of friends from accross the sea. We had three big teams, a few small teams, two interns, a few that came a few weeks early before their team arrived and then some dear friends that have been a part of the mattaw family for years. The culture here really values and appreciates "wageni" (visitors) and we too have such a great appreciation for them!  Our mattaw children have been loved big time this summer.  

Here are some updates in pictures....

Lisa, our FABULOUS sponsorship coordinator was the first of many friends to come. For all you beautiful sponsors out there, she's the one behind the scenes and who made it possible to get the recent packets and letters to ya. A trip is in store in the fall to get Christmas packets ready!  

Many teams came and were able to deliver gifts to their sponsored child!

Speaking of sponsorship... Quick plug here for it... We need more!  We are still wanting to expand and need more sponsors before more children can come in. Help us help more!  Sign up at mattawchildren.com. 

Moving along....

We've had many, many birthday parties!  "A persons a person, no matter how small" -Dr. Seuss. And we love to celebrate each child's life around here!  

We loved having these friends visit again! 

And for all the repairs that were made, thank you!  

These two rockstars came for 7 weeks. Morgan and Taylor have come several times and been part of the mattaw fam for years!  Love y'all!  

Our oldest son, Caleb, came home for the summer. It's been so great to have is all together!  

One of our teams showed up just in time to participate with the Mattaw Children for the Mattaw Race2Rescue.  We are incredibly thankful for all those that participated from all over the world!  We also had some missions friends from Kitale come out to participate and their 13 yr old raised funds for the Mattaw children. You're never too young to make a difference in lives!  

Even our littlest Sprouts babies were carried by friends!  And here's Taylor, he came for several weeks to volunteer as well. The kids miss ya He-Tay!

Some dear friends came back to Mattaw for a few weeks. Anna, Keela and Christy... You're deep in our hearts forever!  We ventured deep into the Pokot mountains to visit a group of widows that we are expanding our current women's ministry to. It was a trip full of laughter, adventure and the gospel expanding!  Heaven invaded earth. Friendships made. There's so much to share. But more later :). 

Here's Mary, our main contact there. She's one of the most beautiful, strong women of God we've met. She was the first to get saved and bring the gospel to her village. We miss Mary and can't wait for our next trip back!

Christy is the voice for the widows on the stateside and while she was here, it was only right we celebrate her recent marriage, Kenyan style!  The widows gave her quite the celebration!  They sure missed her and loved having her back. 

Our kids are growing!  Mattaw has very much become home and they love to have so many friends. 
Want to know one of the main reasons I haven't updated much?  .....THIS two year old... super baby....  

All you teams can vouch for me :-). 

This last team did a VBS. The children loved learning new songs, playing games and hearing bible stories. (Sorry to the other teams, I've lost pictures from your time here!  Email me :) )

We did a fundraiser to buy shoes for our widows, local village kids and possibly turkana... 

The shoes are still in process of being mailed if you ordered. Pictures to come of those that will receive shoes from this fundraiser! 

For a few weeks, the rains stopped and the sun was blaring. So we did what everyone should and made a giant slip 'n slide. A lot of baby oil, soap and people tossing kids down the tarp. 

Our gardens are thriving!  Beets, carrots, onions, kale, lettuce, cilantro, fruit trees, spinach and the list goes on! 

All those that visited came with SO many needs and surprises for the children and staff. (And coffe for us!!  THANK YOU). We are incredibly thankful for EVERY gift, big and small. We even have a new beautiful computer lab (pics to come). Here's our girls home sportin their new shoes. 

And Rebecca is still living here and stays busy with the Sprouts babes! We are thankful for all she does and the MASSIVE amount of love she has for the littlest. 

At one point, Rebecca and I got a quick trip to the big city of Nairobi. I was dropping a team off and she was seeing her aunt that was in country short term. And we had dominoes, cold stone and time with our friend Mercy.  

Like I mentioned before, this past week we ventured to Turkana with just our Huffman family. Caleb flew out today and headed back to America as he's in his last year and a half of college. It was a great last trip to make with him before he left.  We thrive in the crazy :). And this trip was definitely full of it. 

If you scroll down to my last blog post in April, you'll find a picture of a newborn. The mom is the biological mom to our son Dan. Last time we visited, the baby was just days old and the mom was so sick. We took her to the hospital then that night I got to snuggle the baby while mama rested. When we went back a few days ago, the mom was so excited to take my hand and lead me to see her happy healthy boy.  Although we don't understand each other's language, a mothers heart is universal and needs no words to express it sometimes. Praise God for healing them both. One of the cuuuutest little babes I've ever seen...

And to close this official longest blog update everrrr, I'll share this pic of the man by my side that I wouldn't make it through all the wonderfu, crazy, adventures, mundane, scary, heartache, joy and love that we face weekly without him. 

With a full heart.....
And many more updates to share.... 

25 April 2015

Family Missions is Messy

For almost 3 weeks now, our family has been in Turkana.  Next week we head back home to Kitale.  

When coming here, we loaded up in our land cruiser, and I mean LOADED up.

But I was thankful for a stronger working vehicle (insert heart of thanks to those that have given to vehicle funds so far). In Turkana, the people are mostly nomadic. When water dries up or there's no where left for goats and camels to eat from, they move. They have these woven baskets and stretcher like things that go on donkeys and camels to carry everything. Including the sticks for their houses. And they will walk for days. So you could say I was thankful to have an upgraded version with suitcases, a land cruiser and tents bolted on top.

Every mission up here usually looks different but always has the same purpose of continuing to build relationships and share Jesus wherever we go. Last trip that meant giving out food. This trip has been a lot of going low and slow (as Mama Heidi would say). Praying, listening and learning. We are basing out of the main town in Turkana and travel into the reserve for some days. Last week we went for a three day outreach. We loaded up the whole fam and ventured into the middle of the desert where we make our own roads and it feels like the end of the earth.

We are very much about missions as a family. Sure there are times just Bud or just myself goes to do ministry when its best we go without kids.But we realize that doing missions and ministry as a family adds something to it that opens doors and brings the Kingdom like nothing else.  But it's messy. And it's hard. And it takes more time. It takes pulling over on the side of the road several times because your five year old daughter has a small bladder. It takes several packs of wet wipes because your two year old keeps eating sand which causes poop to flow all down his legs.  Often. It takes staying up at 4am praying over your kid with a fever because the devil isn't happy with what we are doing. But Jesus heals. And we see him heal our kids over and over again. It takes time to pull your seven year old to the side to talk again about how to respond best when kids crowd around him to touch his hair and pull on his shirt.  It takes time at night to talk with our teenage boys about what's going on in their lives.

But what comes of this family on a mission is only God. It means when we go into a village, there's no warming up to us, our kids break the silence and bring smiles and laughter to us all.  It builds trust for people to see us come in with the whole family. One of the best examples is when one day we went around a village prayer walking. We went into one home to talk to a young man and walls went up. He said he was fine and didn't want prayer. We kept walking and our son Ian stayed behind. Eventually this young man opened up and shared a lot with Ian and Ian was able to encourage the guy and share Jesus. So powerful!  Then there are many times Bud comes in and is able to talk as a father to many.  Im SO thankful for the way he takes care of our family. He has become quite the handy man and i continually see some Mcgever characteristics come out of him. Especially in the middle of the desert. There was a day one of our boys birth mom was very sick. Turns out she had just had a baby the week before. I got to pray and love the sweet little newborn while the mama rested. I knew from experience exactly what the mama was going through. Well I say exactly. Ha. I can't even imagine birthing a baby on dirt floors and recovering in such hard conditions. So scratch that, i had no idea. But I could come in as a mama to help with the sweet little. I mean, he was definitely one of the sweetest squishy newborns ever so it didn't take much to love him!

Because it takes more time and effort as a family, there are definitely times we wonder what on earth are we doing.  And times when our children act crazy and disciplining them becomes tiresome. But that's when you have to stay the course and keep the focus. Trusting. Just when we were having one of these low moments, our sons speaks out a prophetic word and says "hey I have a verse I can't stop thinking about". We were driving through crazy roads and barely making it through dry river beds when he speaks this out from the back seat. We were hot, tired and hungry.  And our vehicle was making a bit of a strange noise and my husband was starting to wonder if it could be something serious. But we all tune in to hear what he was saying. "Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight". It was a verse I've grown up hearing but wow was it ever a timely word and took on a whole new meaning for this season.

The first day we set out to travel up here, I pulled up Facebook to find an article that spoke volumes. It talks of a movement. A movement of families on a mission. Through the crazy bumps, I managed to read it out loud to Bud. And bam, spot on.  Because sometimes people can put words to what we feel. Here it is:  http://www.burn24-7.com/articles/the-pursuit-of-family-traveling-europe#.VTspCX8ayK0

And i cant figure out how to move pics to flow in with what i shared above. Power out (again) and on an app on phone...

Loaded up

10 April 2015

Rift Valley Marathon

Soooo... my phone crashed without reason.... then my computer keyboard is not working fully (which might be from an unexpected 2 year old banging on it.... who has the nickname "baby hulk" for a reason) and Bud's computer screen going out due to some damage done when he took it to Turkana to show the Jesus Film annnd.... life happens.  But I have good intentions of finding a way to get updates on here more.  Turns out, there's no running to the local at&t or apple store here, so i'm not making promises :).

I've been eager to share about our recent race though!  So here it is...

A few weeks ago, our first running team here at Mattaw Children's Village went and ran our first half marathon.  We started with a large group but eventually narrowed it down to a smaller team of 10.  Everyone is considered on the team still, they just run shorter distances.  We are looking for some cross country meets to be a part of.  We found a Kenyan coach who has ran several half and full marathons and because of the crazy intense competition in this country, he hasn't made it big.  But his times are unbelievable.  So we were thankful to bring in a well trained coach.  Bud and I also ran it.  It was an incredibly hard course.  I realized how nuts we were once I hit mile 6.  And I began to wonder why I chose to run on the training ground of olympic athletes.  Then we spent several miles going up hill on what felt like a mountain.  Several parts of it felt like I was climbing, not running.

It was t-o-u-g-h.

But the best part of the whole thing was having trained with our children for several months and then getting to get out there and run with them and see them finish something they started.  It reminded me  of a part in the bible that says:

"I have no greater joy than to see my children walking in truth" 3John 4:3.

It's like that parent/father/mother heart bursting with joy to see their children doing right, thriving and in this case; finishing what they start.  God always brings so much symbolism to each run I train and do.  And this one, the focus was our children.  Seeing them accomplish this race was like in their spiritual walk how we see them lay hold of truth and run with it and endure through the hard times.  The times they feel they're climbing a mountain but hang on to the truths of God's word to push them through.

One of our girls, Mary, was one I have to highlight.  They all did amazing but this girl.  She rocked it.  She wasn't the fastest, and we knew that from training.  But the best part is, she finished and she did her best.  Even when she didn't feel like it, she would get out and run during training.  She was one of my biggest motivations in this race.  There's a part at mile 9 on the race course where you have to turn down a road and run to the end of it for a few miles, then people write down your race number confirming you made it to that point.  Then you turn around and run back down that road and turn down another path and run like 1/2 a mile to the finish line.  So back to that mountain we climbed at mile 6.... I walked.  And everyone that was behind me on our mattaw team passed me.  You bet I was cheering them on in between gasping for air and then eating their dust.  But I kept my eye on several of our girls and would manage to slowly start running again each time I felt I would stop seeing them up ahead.  Mary was one of them.  So when I got to the point of turning down the road and passing a lot of our team that had already turned around to run up to the finish line, I was able to high five them and keep cheering.  And I realized at that point that I really wanted to finish with them.  By the time we were 1/2 a mile from the finish line, I made it back up to Mary.  It was some crazy endurance that came out of nowhere that got me back to her.

And together.... we finished.

Rebecca was there to help with our kids and cheer on the team.  She also has taken on photography so was able to snap some shots at the finish for us.  She snapped a picture of Mary and I and it speaks volumes to my heart.  It also made me super hesitant to post it because I'm looking ROUGH in this picture.  It slightly shows how I was feelin, ha.  But we are keepin it real here.  To me it symbolizes how the ministry we do here isn't always easy and attractive when you are in it for the long run.  Like when we are enduring the parts that feel like we're climbing a mountain :).  On the inside though, I was full of great joy as we joined the rest of the team that had finished and enjoyed talking of how tough it was but we all finished.  Mary, of course, is glowing and beautiful as always.  

Completing the race.
Finishing well.

It's all mentioned in the bible and refers to this life we are on.

So since I've brought up Mary, I want to also share that we have our full length documentary completed!  It has three kid's stories featured in it and one of them is Mary.  We didn't prepare her for what to say, but she spoke her heart.  She gave her testimony and was very real in it.  When we watched it with our Mattaw Leaders, we were all left speachless.  In a good way.  Her story is one that comes from much brokenness.  But how God picked up all the pieces and has made her whole.  She knows she's a daughter.  And knows what it means to endure and finish well.  Our prayer is that every child that comes into Mattaw would grasp this revelation.  We are full of joy to know she will be an example and leader for years to come.

Bud is hoping to travel back to the states the end of May for his sisters wedding.  During that time he will go around speaking in places and sharing this documentary.  If you would like to have him come speak to a church, business, sunday school class, or any group interested in hearing more about Mattaw, please let us know!  Email: bud@mattawchildren.com.  We also have some short films about Mattaw and some of its branches that we will be posting OH SO SOON!

We are also SUUUUPER excited to share that the Race2Rescue is also officially launched!

You can click on this link below for more information and how to sign up!!!  More to come on this but just wanted to get it out to those that don't know yet!  Maybe you aren't a runner, but you could walk.  Either way, these children can also be your motivation!

(you can also take note of the shirts our team is wearing in the first picture posted above and how this year, the shirts you get for signing up will match them!)

28 March 2015

It's in the Wind

The week before last we ventured back up to northern Kenya to a region called Turkana. This is where the Turkana tribe lives.  It's always quite the journey every time God sends us there. For those that don't know, we have quite the history of working up there and is it ever increasing as we just keep praying and going when lead to. Here's the short of it.  (Which probably won't seem short but there's so much to it.)

In 2006 we moved to Kitale after working in an orphanage closer to Eldoret. We knew we were to start a new model and open a children's village. We began sitting on the streets in Kitale and got to know many of the kids living on the streets. It didn't take long to find that most kids on the streets in Kitale are from Turkana. The main reasons they leave their families in Turkana is due to hunger and wanting an education.  Some are chased off. Some orphans. The majority have families though. A recent statistic stated that 96% of Turkana is in poverty. I can believe it. Kitale is known for growing over 80% of the maize in kenya. It's green, lush, rains a lot during raining season and produces a lot of food.  Quite the opposite of Turkana. It's also the first big town to come to after you leave Turkana. Some kids can end up in Eldoret, Kisumu and Nairobi, but the majority land in Kitale. You can kinda get the picture why. 

So in 2006 we started planning, praying and dreaming big with God. Bud and I had both been to Turkana on short trips and instantly fell in love with the place and people. I still remember sitting in another missionary house with a piece of white paper and pencil, sketching plans for Turkana.  We thought Kitale had enough children's homes so we'd go where there's greater need.  We were wrong, the needs were very much there in Kitale. Then we clearly heard God say "Now is not the time for Turkana. Wait." Oh how those words are hard!  We clearly heard that we were to create a new model for a children's home in the Kitale area. This would be our main base. Our first baby. We knew we were to commit to at least 5 years of investing the majority of our time on the ground, overseeing and establishing. And out came Mattaw Children's Village.  (ha, sounds so easy.  but it has happened all through Papa God's incredible love, mighty power, grace and through many of our tears, heartaches and endurance)

In 2007 when we were waiting, waiting and waiting to buy the land and start building, we met two incredible little boys living on the street at separate times. Both standing out to us that we needed to do more than feed and meet with them. Long story short, they became part of our family and we now call them our sons. Then in 2012, the craziest reunion happened between them and their families in Turkana. You can read more about their story here: http://huffmansinkenya.blogspot.com/2012/05/turkana.html?m=1

Over the past 3 years we've continued to go and be with who we now consider our Turkana family. In the beginning it was all about just getting to know them and meeting some basic needs like food and clothing. Because that's what family does :). In January 2014, we ended up planting a church in one of the remote villages we often go to after showing the Jesus film and many coming to know Jesus. From then on, it was opened up to us to do more ministry. Last year we started taking some of our leaders from mattaw as well as older mattaw kids with a heart for missions.  This too has been a beautiful part of the big picture of what we do here because we started a two year ministry equipping school on site at Mattaw in 2012 and then out comes a great need to take equipped leaders into this region.  So as doors open, we've continued to move to minister in new areas within Turkana and have seen incredible works of the Holy Spirit. Many saved, healed and delivered. 

This year we were able to take trips to physically feed hundreds, maybe thousands, with food donated from America and shipped over on containers as well as food bought with funds sent from some of you. This recent trip, we were able to deliver food to the areas needing it the most. We traveled ALL over the entire region of Turkana.  That's no joke!  it was crazy y'all!  

We went up to Lodwar (the capital of Turkana) which took 10 hours.  We camped two nights there then on a Monday, spent 5 hours to get to a very remote village with a little church.  It was one of the most precious times I've ever spent worshipping Jesus with a group of believers.  And all they had was a church made of sticks, brush and leaves on the roof, big rocks to sit on, a simple drum and their voices to exalt King Jesus!  

We then moved on for around 3 more hours to another remote village where people were dying last year in a drought.  It started out a bit chaotic but thankfully we had some amazing people who are experienced in aid work, to help organize people into groups in order to distribute the food.  Otherwise, well, not sure what could of happen.  But Papa always knows our needs and provides the laborers!  

We then continued and went up to the furthest northern point where we could wave to Ethiopia. This took around 3 more hours from the previous place.  We were welcomed with arms wide open by the entire village including the chief.  They opened up their main storage building that was built to bring in supplies for the area so that we could use it to distribute from.

(The food bought by those of you that gave to feed the hungry in Turkana. Massive thank you for every dollar given!!)

Right now there's another drought happening and people are in great need. We saw from the tiniest of babes to the oldest widows, fed abundantly. 

(One of the mass crowds gathered in an area. Hearing why we came and receiving the Gospel. Everywhere we went, they would gather under the largest tree)

But the wind. The wind was crazy!  One day we were driving and the wind so wild that it flipped off the hood on the rover and cracked the windshield bad. Thankfully it was still driveable and nothing was stopping us from getting to our destinations. In some areas our kids couldn't walk outside because the sand and rocks were blowing so hard. It was hard to see on coming vehicles on parts of the road as well.  

(Our littles helping hand out food)

One night, when we were in the most northern part, the wind was so bad in the night that we ended up having to shift the kids and ourselves from the tents to inside the land cruiser at 3am. But we really saw how God kept us so safe and protected through the whole trip. It was one of those trips where I realized after getting back home how crazy that was!  And with our three littles! But they loved it. Everywhere we went, Elisha found boys to wrestle with, Claire would make another little friend and find a baby to help care for, and Ezra was just happy as can be to be in a massive sand box. We're so thankful sickness stayed far from our camp!  Although on the way home, some stomach issues tried to come against Claire but there's a powerful testimony that came from that.  I'll have to share sometime soon :).  Basically its about how the simple faith of a child to trust Jesus to heal them is incredibly powerful!    

One of Claire's little friends at a school we distributed food. She kept making sure her dress was pulled up :). 

On Tuesday we traveled back down but this time along a road that ran by Lake Turkana.  Talk about a massive lake.  We drove 5 hours that day to the southern part of the lake where we camped again.  The next morning we spent a few hours to get back to Lodwar where we had to get some parts on the vehicle repaired before we continued back down to southern turkana.  That took most of the day, then we headed out a few hours south to get to the place where our main family is.  We spent a few nights there sharing more teachings from the bible as they're always hungry to know more. We also had a crazy awesome prayer and worship session at night.  This too is a story of its own!  

The roads to Turkana are some of the most brutal roads to any vehicle. We're thankful that we already have strong vehicles that can go, but they still end up getting broke on the trips and needing a lot of repairs.  

This trip, we had five flats, one of the shocks break, several electrical issues and cracks in the chassis. Our greatest need to keep going there is funds to make our vehicles stronger to help prevent these issues. If you are led to help, please email us!  bud@mattawchildren.com. 

The wind may have been crazy, but it spoke volumes to my heart.  The physical wind was strong but the wind of the Holy Spirit was even more powerful.  We saw the wind of Holy Spirit blow through entire villages, bringing life and hope through the simple act of giving food.

"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”. John 3:8

We will be spending some weeks up there in April as we continue to establish relationships and share Jesus.  Will update as we go!  

Currently, I'm typing this as I look out our balcony to the Indian Ocean.  We are taking our yearly family beach vacation.  And as much as I LOVE the Turkana desert with all its sand, I really love the sand with the ocean too :).  It's been a much needed time to get rest and family time away.  

More updates to come! As always, thankful for your prayers.


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