26 January 2015

Ezra and Life

Oh Ezra. This child of mine. Who is now fully into being a two year old. You'd think I'd have the hang of age two by now with it being the third child to endure this phase of life with. Don't get me wrong, I love love love each phase my children go through and I don't want to miss a thing. (Enter Aerosmith song. Ha). But some days with this child of mine. Whew. They seem long but yet these years go by oh so fast. Which brings me to why I had good intentions to start the year off blogging more. Intentions were good but I'm pretty sure I blinked my eyes and January was gone!  

So, now I'm turning those intentions into actions. 

And so this is a blog about my baby. 

Two is such a fun and um, interesting age.  As I'm in the middle of typing this I had to pause so I could snap the following picture. Like for reals. 

He was given chai this morning and refused to say thank you. So we took it away until he would say thank you or asante to which he spent 30 minutes throwing an all out fit. And I mean all out fit. Ok, maybe it was 10 minutes but it felt like 30. He finally said "Asante", was given chai, downed the chai, then was in a great mood and ran around the house making little boy grunting noises. I'm thinking to myself "sweet, I have a break, a blog is well overdue". And a few sentences in and he comes running in with hands full of raw spaghetti. How do they sniff these things out?!  

Then there's the moments that have you rolling laughing. Last night I thought I was hiding out for a moment in a dark room on our bed when a certain two year old bust in from escaping his bath and proceeds to crawl in bed. Wet. With no clothes. And I think to myself I'll just pretend I'm asleep until the dad comes to get him. But what does this certain cute two year old do?  He snuggles up and starts singing "hakuna matata" in my ear to me. To which all I could do was laugh. Oh Ezra. Thankfully his sweetness far exceeds those two year old fits. 
Ezra officially turned two the end of December. And because it's dry season here (as opposed to cold, rainy season), we were able to have a pool party. 

He was livin the dream. 

Water, cake, friends and a place to swing and slide.  

(Ignore the 3 on the cake, he's definitely 2)

Thanks friends and fam that made it out to celebrate Ezra's life!

So wild to think two years ago we were sitting in a hospital about to endure a crazy journey with this little miracle baby. It's so easy to forget about it until we do things like swim and I see the scar on his back from heart surgery. So thankful it's becoming a distant memory but what is still so fresh in my heart and mind is the power and love God demonstrated. We serve a God of great miracles. And it's out of His incredible love for us.  As much as I know it was not God's will for Ezra to go through what he did, that scar on his back was a bad thing that God turned for good. The scar is a great reminder that Jesus is alive and still doing miracles on the earth.  That scar reminds me of when Jesus paid the ultimate price with many scars so that we would could be saved, healed, delivered and set free in every area of life.  It's a scar that rushes in many memories. Memories of playing Kim walker songs from her cd that had just come out during that time, Still Believe, in the ICU room.  And then seeing the truths in those songs come to life. 

Living here we get to see miracle after miracle in lives. From babies such as our little Moses, all the way up to our widows.  

But there are days where I'm a mom of a two year old (4 year old and 7 year old). And the days seem long but in reality are going so fast. As much as I love to get out in ministry and see miracles, salvations and lives transformed, one of the greatest callings is to be a mom. To be home in what sometimes seems mundane. There are days I know I need to choose to make butterflies out of tissue paper and glitter with my daughter instead of going out to do ministry.  

At the same time, there are days we are called to go out and have to trust that our children are loved and kept by Papa God. And then other days where we take our kids with us to go pray for the sick, teach the lost and love the abandoned.  It's a journey that MUST be Holy Spirit led every step of the way. And it's one that isn't always easy but oh so worth it. Radical obedience to Jesus, who so graciously laid down his life for us is worth it.  But just an encouragement to some of you mamas is that some days, radical obedience means making tissue butterflies at home, reading one more book at bedtime, wiping snotty noses, and snuggles in the morning instead of running out the door first thing to save the world.  It's the small acts of love in our families that are shaping future world changers. (Preaching to myself here)

Love y'all, 
More soon,

31 December 2014

Keep on keepin on.

Hi y'all,

First of all, cheers to a new year!  This is a post that has been in the making for quite awhile but seemed it needed to end up being on the day we finish off 2014 and welcome in 2015.  Let me explain this picture above that speaks depths to my heart and hope it encourages yours.  Let's pretend you're reading a chapter in a book I have, rather than a quick short post on a blog :).  Because I feel this might be long.  

Since moving out to Mattaw, I started running out in the villages around where we live now.  And my oh my how much different I view this area, in a good way.  There's something about actually walking/running in an area that'll give you a heart for it as opposed to just driving through.  Since I started the journey of running in 2008, my runs aren't about doing half marathons, although we've done a hand full and I enjoy them.  But the best runs have been when I'm out on a red dirt bumpy road with blue skies and the occasional super cute little kenyan kids that'll yell "mzungu!" and run for a few minutes with me.  It's on those runs where I can get vision and renewed purpose.  I started out this whole running thing after my first child to partly lose baby weight.  But to maintain a love for running, it had to be more about how it makes me feel energised and healthy.  Not about the weight.  And it had to get to a place where my mind could connect with Jesus.  (just a few tips and side notes for those that are trying to get into running, I've had a handful of people email and ask)  It's all in the head too :).  Mind over matter.  No pain, no gain.  (this is my history of being a coaches daughter coming out).  That was a side note.  

Several weeks ago, I set out to run with some of our older kids at Mattaw.  I mean, I wasn't really running with them but more like eating their dust while they ran ahead and sometimes wait for me.  This particular day it was two of our older boys and four older girls.  The boys were running twice as fast as I was (well, almost.  seriously.)  The girls would book it on the downhill or flat spots so when it came time for uphill, I kept my pace and could catch up (for a short time).  I especially would get a good dose of endurance when I could see up ahead some young guys walking towards our girls to say hi.  Yep, mama bear instinct works when you're running too!  Anyways, so we set out to run a certain distance and little did I know it would be more than a workout but a journey with these girls.  People often ask what our days look like here and we often find it hard to answer.  We can set out to do things but Holy Spirit often crashes in and will redirect our steps.  Or the frustrations of a developing nation will make getting things done longer than it should be.  But this was one of those days that Holy Spirit crashed in and as Heidi Baker says "stop for the one".  So I did.  Well to be exact, it was for the four.  Our girls didn't plan it and I sure didn't plan it.  We had no idea that the village these girls came from was exactly 3 miles away from the main road Mattaw is off of.  As we approached the turn that goes next to where they used to live, I caught up to some of them and asked if they wanted to go see if their relatives were still there.  They were surprised and excited to go.  At Mattaw, we try and keep the relationships with relatives of our kids but its very difficult to do when they come from very broken places.  All relatives are given the options of visiting kids on weekends or during holidays but so often they don't.  Thankfully some do though.  So as we walked down the road to the huts the girls used to live in, I had no idea what we would find, especially after remembering how the environment was when picking the girls in 2008.  Two are sisters that came from their aunt's house and the other two are sisters from their grandmother who is a neighbour to the aunt of the other girls.  We walked up to the aunt's house and she was out in her shamba (maize field) cleaning and sorting maize.  At first she didn't recognise the girls and then the closer we got, she realised who it was.  She went to greet the girls and then I saw the tears roll from her cheek.  I about lost it.  It was such a sweet reunion that I was thankful for the girls to have.  We found the aunt still living in similar conditions from when the girls were placed in our care and also found the aunt has 10 children.  She had her hands full to say the least but was working to bring in food to feed them all and that helped explain to the girls why their aunt hasn't visited them.  We were able to talk more with her and found out more history on our girl's family.  We then went to the other girls home and found the grandmother.  She also had not visited Mattaw in years.  When she saw how much one of the girls had grown, she thought our girl looked like their mom (the grandmothers daughter).  The grandmother went to a corner on her property and wailed and cried remembering her daughter.  It was hard but good for the girls to reconnect with where they came from.  It gets hard when kids ask many questions on where they come from and how much they want to go back and stay during holidays.  When we commit to children and bringing them into Mattaw though, we commit to walking through life with them forever.  This is a huge part of that journey.  And it requires much wisdom and relying on God.  No matter how hard their life was before Mattaw, they want to know where they come from and want to have a sense of belonging.  So although we don't have all the answers and often it can be painful to walk through this part of life with our kids, we have to keep going and keep trying.  Our God is one of reconciliation and our hope and prayer is that at some point, our children that want that restoration from where they come from, that it'll happen.  So the picture above came from that day.  And it was a rare moment of me being that close behind them :).  You've seen which country mostly wins in track in the olympics?  Yeah.  (There's more to the story as we went back to spend a whole day there and are planning to trace the rest of their family who are in Turkana but more on that later!) 

Then there was today.  Today was the perfect day to get in a last run in 2014.  It was good to reflect on how far we've come and where we are going.  Some of my runs have been alone but today, the same four girls wanted to run again.  We also decided it's time to actually train and find a race to have a goal to run.  This requires commitment but I'm thrilled to see them set goals and what a finish it'll be on race day.  But again, it was not a day I had planned but His timing is perfect.  As I ran I began to reflect on this past month and what a whirlwind it has been.  A lot of good, some hard and it's been a lot of transitioning.  Last week, with all the Christmas planning and preparation, we were very caught up in the busyness.  When Christmas day came, it was a beautiful day and I couldn't be more thankful for the celebration of Jesus we had with our Mattaw family.  Which by the way, you can read more on at the Mattaw website:  www.mattawchildren.com/uncategorized/a-merry-mattaw-christmas-2014.  

After Christmas day we crashed and have rested since.  It was a good rest.  A few mornings ago though, Holy Spirit woke me up and clearly spoke to my heart that now is not the time to sit back.  Often times, in a season where God wants to give more vision and purpose, my physical body will fight it at first and want to relax more.  This is not to say we are not to take times where we rest in His presence.  And it's definitely not a meaning to strive.  No striving.  But it's more of a standing up and moving forward into the promises God has given us.  I felt to get to this place I've had to keep my heart steady and keep going.  Falling into His strength and endurance.  And keep on keepin on.  Then I listened to a podcast from our home church and OH MY HEART, did it ever speak directly to what Jesus was already saying.  Here's the link:http://thegardenstc.org/faudios.php (titled "keep on speaking"). 

 So my encouragement as we move from 2014 to 2015 starts with the quote above on the picture.

"If you can't fly, then run.  If you can't run then walk.  If you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward" -Martin Luther King Jr. 

Because in some areas of life, we might not have it figured out, but we have to keep going and believing in God's promises.  Even when we don't feel like it.  We must choose to keep our eyes on our author and perfecter of our faith.  He is faithful!  

May 2015 bring us more fulfilled promises, more faith to believe, more hope restored, more abundant life and may Christ within you, the hope of glory, be a great big light in this world.  The dark seems to be getting darker in this world but we have the hope and promise that the light of Christ will get brighter and brighter until His return on this earth.  And I'll close with is this scripture that keeps rocking my world.  I hope it breaths life that'll give you the endurance, that maybe if you are crawling to move forward, that you'd start soaring and flying to move forward.

3Strengthen the feeble hands,
    steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
    he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
    he will come to save you.”
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
    and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
    and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
    the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
Isaiah 35:3-7

19 December 2014

Tukana Goats

As it's just less than a week away from Christmas, we are making final preparations around Mattaw Children's Village. 

As you know, we have three teenage boys that are part of our family. They are originally from Turkana, a very dry and hot region. We have a huge heart for this tribe that often seems tough on the outside but what beautiful people they are. 

This Christmas break our boys went to visit their families for a week and just arrived back home for Christmas. For our very Merry Mattaw Christmas, we purchased four goats to roast for our big Christmas feast!  We bought them from our boy's relatives. A huge thanks to those in America that sent the funds for them because not only will it feed our Mattaw Family, but those that we bought the goats from were in great need of provision for their families. It's a win win situation!  Here's one of our boys. This was actually one of the goats part if the heard he was in charge of before he moved from Turkana into our family in 2012. 

I also learned how Turkana people like to slaughter their animals. In an effort to respect the animal, they slit the throat, let it lay alone while dead. Then skin it and then chop the head off. Our son said it's because they heard the animal and live so close with them for so long until they eat it. Which is true, we've seen how they have names for them, know each goats personality and each goat has a different sound for how they call it to come to them and for when it's time to drink water.  One of our boys older sister that is here visiting for Christmas, was laughing but also complaining at how people here just chop the heads and it's such an injustice to the animal. She's asking to be the one to do the whole process. And I'm sure she will!  But they have no problem at all eating it. Food is food. Especially when it's one of your only options at surviving in the desert. 

Life here is a constant journey of learning about people. I love it. 

12 December 2014

Sponsorship and and a Merry Mattaw Christmas!

Hi everyone, we wanted to share with you some ways we are inviting you to be part of changing little lives across the globe.  It's time again that we make our biggest needs known so that those led to give, know how and for what!  This is especially for those new but also, even for myself, it's always a great reminder of what we do and why.

So what is our sponsorship program all about? In order to meet all needs holistically at Mattaw Children's Village, we set up a sponsorship program whereby people can sign up to sponsor a child for $35 per month.  In order to meet every need of the child, plus save back for their future education once they're graduating from high school, each child requires $175 per month.  The children we rescue are orphaned, abandoned and/or mistreated but the children we raise up are no longer orphans but sons and daughters.  We place them in families at Mattaw where they have a mother, father, brothers and sisters.  We believe in restoring the family to how God created it to be in order to raise strong future leaders.  So in every aspect of the child's life, we desire excellence.  We provide the best schooling we can, a healthy nutritious diet, two school uniforms, adequate clothing, two or more pairs of shoes, salary for the staff at Mattaw Children's Village (this includes house parents, aunties, teachers, farmers, night watchmen and social workers).  Those are just to name a few.  It's also a great way to send extra love to our children.  You can send extra little gifts, letters and pictures so the child you sponsors feels that much more loved.

Why a children's home?  The cases we bring in truly have no other stable and safe place to live and that's why they are placed through the local government children's department into our care.  We've heard the statistics and reasons why the last place for children to be is in orphanages.  (side note: in some cases, where the motives for having an orphanage are wrong and the children are neglected and fed poorly, yes I agree it's not a good option.  There are definitely some corrupt orphanages that do more harm than good for orphans.)

 But the reality is, there's over 2 million orphans in this nation according to the UN in 2012.  In order to even make a dent in this overwhelming statistic, we felt our mission was to work with local authorities, orgnaizations and our team of social workers and managers, to find the most desperate cases.  The ones locked away.  Forgotten.  Not wanted.  As much as we would love to do in home sponsorship care for orphans and see them stay with relatives, it's really not possible for the cases we find.  So with that understanding, our mission is to take these children and see them beautifully restored into a family here at Mattaw Children's Village.  We currently have 5 homes opened with a Kenyan couple as the mom and dad.  There's a room for 6 boys and a room for 6 girls.  They have a dinning room and living room.  It's made of bricks and has a sturdy tin roof.   We have a school onsite where the children learn.  There's a church we've established where the children are part of.  During the week the children go through our two year ministry school.  They are now going out to serve widows in the surrounding villages as well as doing hospital ministry where they pray for the sick children.  We now have a library for the children for the children to develop a passion for reading.  We also have gardens to teach the children how to grow fruits and vegetables.  We have a dairy and chicken farm as well to help with self sustainability.  Some of the older kids are now doing a free graze chicken project.  We are also setting up a hydroponics project to feed our cows.  The too is a great learning project for the kids.  Lastly, we have a basketball court, soccer field and a playground where the children are found often running, laughing and playing freely as children should.  We don't believe our children are orphans any longer but truly in families.

So we are asking for you to consider being a sponsor.  It has been a long time since we've done a big push for sponsors and made the need known.  Currently we are able to meet the immediate needs but the funds we get through sponsorships is less than half the monthly budget needed.  We have relied on one time donors and churches that have given to cover where we lacked but our prayer and hope is that all sponsorships will be full so that we can fully operate with the budget needed to provide for each child.  If you are led to sponsor one of these precious lives, you can contact our sponsorship coordinator, Lisa: sponsorship@mattawchildren.com.   Or you can go to our website and sign up on the sponsor tab.  www.mattawchildren.com

Our sponsorship program does not provide Christmas presents for each child so each year we do a fundraiser.  This year we budgeted $40 per child.  They will receive a soda, chocolate, new chai mug, new towel, new clothes, new shoes, flip flops, and belts for boys and leggings for girls.  We are super thrilled to announce that all 100 children have been provided for!  A HUGE thanks to all that have given to make it one Merry Mattaw Christmas!  On my last blog post, I shared the story of Sarah and Maggie with you.  Last year our little Ryan was in our main Christmas picture and this year it went to sweet Sarah.  

In case you missed the sweet video of her, here it is again.


If you still wish to help us have a very merry day for our children, there are still a few needs we have.  We would like to get our house parents gifts and bless our staff with funds that we know are much needed during this holiday season.  Total we need $1,000, so any amount given towards this will help the families that pour into the Mattaw children and help us raise these kids throughout the year.  We also are hoping to buy four goats to roast Christmas day.  They are each $40.  You can donate on our website through paypal and just send us a note saying what it's for: kimberly@mattawchildren.com.  

We also hope you are having a great holiday this season.  We pray that as you sow in prayer and finances to our children, that it would bring you much joy and hope this holiday. 

09 December 2014

Meet Sarah and Maggie... and Daka!

Hey yall, 

I've talked briefly about how we've added a few new children this year.  So I wanted to introduce two of them to you.  We started Sprouts Baby Home over a year ago with four babies.  Here's the first picture we were able to snap after all were home and healthy from being in and out of hospitals....

Lucy, Moses, Maria and Ryan

It was more of a "pilot home" where we could start with four, four that are all completely different cases and then learn through each case for when we build a bigger home to house more.  Our focus is to take in extreme cases that have been neglected, abandoned, abused and or malnourished.  Some have been treated this way due to the way they were born and most are due to living in extreme poverty usually having no parents.  Our vision is to take in birth-2 years old and making exceptions for when a child is 5 or under and severely malnourished to the point of not being able to walk.  We brought in Maria, who was less than 3 pounds at the time.  She was 51 days the day we finally got her out of the hospital.  She had been through two rounds of antibiotics due to the traffic that went through the NICU and she had not gained anything since being born.  She was abandoned and basically just needed to be out of the hospital and cared for.  Lucy was severely malnourished and has cerebral palsey.  She was neglected and abandoned due to her condition.  Ryan was severely malnourished and abandoned for unknown reasons.  Moses was days, if not hours, away from dying due to malnourishment and abandonment.  He was around 6 months when he was rescued.  He had brain damage from what we think is a combination of meningitis and his glucose being too low.  We've seen so much healing happen in this sweet babe in the past year though.  Since taking in the four cases, we have learned so much as far as how many aunties need to be hired per so many babies, feeding schedules, the medical aspect and when to transition them out.  In August of this year, we were able to transition Ryan from Sprouts into a Mattaw home.  He's doing amazing!  When we got him at around 2 1/2 years old, he couldnt walk and hardly said any words.  
He is now big and strong, has outgrown everyone his age and can have a conversation with you ALL DAY LONG.  The boy loves talking now!  He's very active and loves to run and swing.  We are so thankful for his miraculous healing. 

His brothers now in the family he's in at Mattaw (Brison, Kevin and Ryan)

And now to share more details on our two newest treasures.  They were hidden away in a slum on the outskirts of Kitale town.  As we transitioned Ryan to Mattaw, we had space open up in Sprouts.  I wasn't (exactly) searching to fill the space but did I ever have it in the back of my mind (and heart).  As you may know, we have a girls home that we bring in girls ages 8-12 that were in extreme sexual or physical abuse.  I had a call from a social worker in a slum around Kitale that wanted to refer cases to me of girls that would likely fit our requirements to be placed in Kimbilio girls home.  I went with one of our previous managers, David, and the social worker from a catholic organisation. (David has now moved to Colorado with his wife! All good  :).  More on that later but we sure miss him!).  Anywho,     We went to one house of the girls being referred to us and well, that was a long story of its own.  Involves people being in prison, many injustices, teens turning to sex for food and a false prophet. So after going there, we intended to go to a girls home that is 13 years old but on the way we passed an area where the social worker we were with said "you remember in March I told you of a four year old girl that's paralysed and her mom is a drunkard?"  And of course I remembered and have often thought of her and prayed.  So she goes on to share that we were about to be by the place and if I wanted to see the case.  Well, yes, of course!  It was one of those moments of love never turns away from a baby in need.  There's times I just know in my core that it's a ordained time to bring hope and life to a child.  (aka, Holy Spirit is on the move).  We went down a few crazy bumpy roads and over sewage that runs through the slum.  We reached a point we had to park and get out and walk.  We walked through some narrow sketchy ally ways and came to the mud room where we found our little treasures.  The problem was, one was so hidden way, she was actually wrapped up in what the mom says was for therapy (since Sarah can't walk).  But she was tied in, had poop running out the sides of her legs and down the box and it was tipped over.  

Not only did we find the little four year old, Sarah, but we found her baby sister, Maggie, crying on the bed hungry and also sitting in her waste.  There was no one else there and the neighbour quickly came to find us and said the mom is a drunkard and is out finding a way to get more alcohol.  We could see the girls through the small wood framed window so without giving it a second thought, we busted through the door.  Thankfully that wasn't so hard, otherwise they were about to see quite the scene of me going through that window!  We got inside and at first had to check if Sarah was even breathing.  It seemed when she fell, she passed out.  Thankfully she slowly woke up but was completely lifeless.  Maggie on the other hand had some lungs and was screaming.  As soon as David picked her though, she was so calm and at peace.  

We quickly worked to get Sarah untied from all the scrap pieces of cloth that held her in this wooden box.

  Once she was free, we heard the mom coming.  We were warned she might want to fight us but thankfully the peace that surpasses understanding came into the room and once she saw we were there to help, in her drunken state she became sorrowful.  She knew the social worker and had been assisted through their organisation but she had not been responsible with what she was helped with.  When we explained who we are and what we do, she asked we take Sarah and not Maggie.  We agreed to that and went through all the proper procedures to get Sarah in our care legally.  We were at one point sent to the child protection unit at the police station and when sharing the story, they immediately wrote out paper work and orders to go arrest the mom and asked if we could accept the baby as well.  They arrested the mom that day and put the baby in prison with the mom until a court date would happen.  

While waiting for Maggie to also be placed in our care, we brought Sarah home to Sprouts baby home and started to pour out love and care on her.  At first she wasn't moving her arms and legs but as the day went on, she began to move.  When given a banana (pictured above), she was so hungry and wanted to eat but because of the extreme malnourishment, she couldn't lift her hand to eat anymore and fell asleep.  She wasn't talking either but after about 5 days, she started to say a word or two.  It was like taking a dead plant and watering it daily and watching it come back to life.  But the water to bring her back to life involved a lot of love and simply feeding her properly.  I will never forget hearing that sweet laugh for the first time!  She was a miracle indeed and what a treasure!   

With Maggie, it took about a week or more and one court hearing after another until we thankfully had Maggie placed in our care.  We realised that what seemed like a long time for here actually was a quick process compared to all the red tape you find in other western countries.  So we were thankful!  The day we got her was the week we had our home church here.  They had been praying for this precious one so it was such a beautiful story of redemption for them to see while having them here.    

 For the first couple of months, Maggie was not happy very often.  From what we gathered, not only was the alcoholic mother breastfeeding her but she would also give her alcohol to take away hunger pains and get her to sleep.  So we had to endure a fussy baby being weaned off alcohol.  She also would be full but if she saw food, she would freak out and want it regardless of how full she was.  Sarah on the other hand was happy as could be while Maggie demanded much attention. This picture about sums up from September to November.

Now, currently, we have two VERY happy and healthy girls.  Sarah is still unable to walk but we have a physical therapist coming three times a week to work with her and he is very hopeful that in the next year she can walk.  Here's the most recent pictures of the girls take a few weeks ago.

I also wanted to share more with you about "Daka".  If you've kept up with us, you know that Rebecca came to volunteer with Mattaw back in January and stayed up until last month.  During that 10 months, it was clear to us all that after her taking a break in the states for a few months, that she would come back to be part of the Mattaw family long term.  She will return in January as our Sprouts Baby Home manager.  She has been a HUGE help this past year in helping oversee the babies.  She is a nurse as well which has also been huge in helping with the babies and all their medical needs they have.  As we continue to lay out the plans and vision to build a bigger Sprouts Baby Home, Rebecca will help in a huge way with this.  We are thankful to have her part of the team!  So why I call her Daka is because that's what the babies started calling her and I think it's the cutest thing ever.  The babies absolutely adore her!  We are all missing her!

From here on, Rebecca will be the main person to update about our babies, so we would love for you to add her blog to your pages you visit often.  

Now that's an update for ya!  More to come about Christmas and our recent visits with some of the Mattaw children to their relatives. 

04 December 2014

A Merry Mattaw Christmas!

Well I'm in the middle of still writing up the story of our two newest babies we rescued this year but turns out the pics I need(want) to tell the story is on a phone, in Dropbox being downloaded and two computers, one computer which is needing repair. So in the meantime, here's a bit of what our Christmas season looks like around here. 

Last year our little fam did an advent calendar for the first time. I made envelopes and put activities and scriptures in it. It involved things like making a gingerbread house, writing cards to grandparents (which i STILL have, ha!) and taking pumpkin bread to friends. This year I wanted to make one for each house at mattaw but since the families can't do exactly the same activities we did, we came up with a new list and so far the kids are LOVING it. 

Here's what our calendar looks like...

The word advent means "coming". So we celebrate that in the Old Testament scriptures pointed to Jesus coming and he came. Now we read of prophecies that he's coming back again, and He will!  So I searched around wanting different scriptures than last year and found these super cool ones below:


So each day, after dinner, the kids gather with their families and open an envelope to find a scripture. The scriptures tell of a prophecy told in the Old Testament and how it was fulfilled. Then at the end it tells of the prophecies concerning Jesus coming back for us. I love it!  Gets our focus in the right place :). And we are constantly talking of Jesus wanting his bride prepared for His return so this was perfect. 

I also included an activity they do daily and some treats here and there. Once a week we rotate houses to go pray for kids in the hospital. Another day, once a week, kids rotate to go help one of our widows that we minister to often. This was another way to help get their focus on our mission is to give and as the says goes "you're more blessed to give than receive". So it's a valuable lesson we teach our mattaw kiddos. Then they do things like make cards for sponsors, friends and their parents. And we throw in some fun stuff at home too. 
-Mondays are craft days. We are decorating our houses and multipurpose building. 
-Tuesday are movie days with popcorn. 
-Wednesday are hospitals. Then masala chai (yummy spiced chai) at night in their homes. 
-Thursdays are family game night with candies or chocolates. Then reading about the nativity and each house is preparing to act it out on the last Sunday afternoon of advent :). And do we ever have the cutest babies for baby Jesus. Let's hope they cooperate! 
-Friday mornings houses take turns to learn how to make cookies and make them, then evenings are dance and singing competitions and everyone enjoys the cookies made. 
-Saturday is clean up around mattaw and then hot chocolate at night. 
-Sunday is testimonies in the evenings along with lighting one of the five candles of advent. I picked up a few Christmas songs on guitar so we are teaching each other Christmas songs in Swahili and English, so fun. The houses that go out during the week to pray in hospital or help a widow, share about their time. y

As for the supplies, it was super simple. There's 25 days in the calendar so at the grocery store I found packets of cute brown envelopes that come in packs of 25. Then there were bags of red clothes pins in packs of 30. And a big roll of twine to hang it all on. I printed out the scriptures off the website above and also printed Numbers 1-25 off in a cute font. The older girls in each house helped cut out, color and glue. They wrote out activities on construction paper and put in each envelope. So at night they read what they do the next day. If they aren't going to a widows house or hospital to pray, then they know who is going and who to pray for as they remain at mattaw. Once they pull out the scriptures, then we glue them on the outside each day so the littles can see what day we are on :). (And one less question mom and dad have to answer!)

And that's that!  Making it a Merry Mattaw Christmas....

28 November 2014

Nyumbani Mpya Part 2

First of all....

We had a great Thanksgiving day at a missionary get together at dear friends of ours. Then just our little fam kicked off the Christmas season with a family game night in our new cosy little home. The power was out, again, so we played by the light of a flashlight. I'll be honest though, I woke up not in the best mood, thinking about how I missed having thanksgiving with family in Texas and how every year we've been in Kenya for thanksgiving, we've had a big feast in our old house with a house full of friends that come over. I was all sorts of uncomfortable not having this year anything like years past. But thankfully, it was a day of celebrating all we are thankful for so when you continually let your mind look for the good and give thanks to God, well your mood just HAS to change :). And it turned out to be a great day!  We took our three Kenyan sons with us to the thanksgiving party and on the way home, our youngest who us around13 yrs old said "thanksgiving? What's that?"  Ha we all laughed that he had no idea what the party was for. So Baba Bud got to tell the story of pilgrims and Indians. Fun times. 

I wanted to share part two to our transition from a neighborhood where we had our own compound to ourself to now living with our mattaw fam where we share a compound with about 80 people. There are scriptures I've grown up hearing often but wow, when you let them grow in ya, they can come to mean a whole new depth. 

"Delight yourself in The Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart" psalm 37:4

This is one of those verses I've heard over and over. But the Word says it's not just words on a page but it's alive and active. So what does something alive do?  It grows. So when you have the word planted in ya, it can only grow ya deeper in it. There's always more. 

As I mentioned, for a season, it was so needed and good to not live here. We needed a place to go home to when the "ministry" was done. A place to retreat where we weren't "working" 24/7. We needed to grow in the culture and understand life here better. So even when the idea came to Bud and I over a year ago that maybe we should be moving to mattaw, I thought it was so unwise. And this is why on the "mission field" (which I believe everyone is on, wherever you are, so let's say the international mission field.) So when you're out in another nation doing missions, you just can't put what a missionary looks like and how they live, in a box. Everyone does many different ministries, has various gifts, different callings and places of influence so the way life is lived can look oh so different. You can't compare but have to follow Holy Spirit each step of the way and simply obey. I remember moving into our previous house over 7 years ago, it being a 4 bedroom house and we were newly weds. I felt the guilt big time. And often.  Breaking a poverty mindset that first year of living there and being content was a big good lesson for me. Going from a (pink) mud hut to a shoe box apartment and then this big beautiful home with such a lovely yard. Oh it was hard. But it was what God called us to. I thought you had to live poorly and suffer to fully please God. Error!  Not that living in a mud hut isn't pleasing to The Lord. And suffering according to His will is pleasig in His sight. Well that's all another whole long lesson. But you just gotta do what YOU are called to. Not one part of that compound went to waste. It ended up hosting many people, having our seven kids live in it, had single girls volunteering live in our guesthouse and then lastly had our sprouts babies in the guesthouse before now being at mattaw. It was definitely a place of rest on weary days. But it couldn't be that for us anymore or it would turn into a materialistic place. It was about to be a place I held too tightly to. Not at all because of the looks and size but because it wasn't where we were supposed to be anymore.

So I continued to open my hand and let go of a place and let the time I would delight myself in The Lord, be times I trusted in His Word that he truly would change my heart. 

What I found over the past several weeks is that not only did he bring us peace in moving here, but he gave me a desire of my heart. Total new eyes of love living here with our mattaw fam. Like all those little things I wondered about "would we still have time with just our family", "would we still find rest in our homes when it's needed" "would we be truly living in community with the families there" "would it be home". Well God has totally taken care of it all. 

Coming here has made me realize we don't just have a children's home that we've invested our blood sweat and tears into and built from the ground up. Actually what GOD has done is He made a neighborhood of families. Our kids ride bikes together. They dig in the sand together. They visit each other's homes and the mamas (or me) give out chai. All the kids go home when the sun is setting and have their meals together. This is what we've always observed from the outside but living IN it, we see it really is what God put In out hearts to be. Of course it's not perfect, God has brought us many children from MANY different backgrounds, many tough and heart wrenching backgrounds. Not to mention the house parents and staff all come from many different tribes and backgrounds. So it gets messy sometimes and we are constantly reliant on Gods wisdom. But when it's messy and seems impossible to find unity and family is when God works miracles and His Holy Spirit unifies us all. 

We were quick to set boundaries for family time and it's been the easiest time to guard. I actually have to ask people to come over because they respect us having our own space. I found that this is just life. Bud and I talked about how it so feels normal just to live here and do life together with everyone. We don't live at a project. And we sure don't live at an orphanage. We live in a neighborhood where God has formed families. I couldn't be more thankful! THIS has been a desire of my heart for years. And I wouldn't have known it unless we moved here. God is so smart!  I mean, he invented smart, so why wouldn't he be :). 

Now a few pics over the past few weeks about how life has changed a bit. 

I'm now totally used to getting VERY fresh chicken straight from the chicken house that's on the other side of our backyard. Buying frozen in the store is becoming a bit odd to me now. 

Seeing a cow walk in front of my front door often doesn't freak me out anymore. 

Claire's focus isn't (entirely) on the babies everyday. She now is developing little friendships and is often found fixing hair or sharing her baby dolls and playing. 

We eat sukumawiki (it's like kale) from our garden. A lot. Like, a lot. And we're getting used to the menu out here and enjoying it. We always said when making the menu here that we wouldn't want our mattaw children having a less nutritious meal than our own kids.  I did mention this is NOT an orphanage?! :) 

And just for fun, with it being Christmas time now, here's a throw back to when we were all babies in 2008 and found our first culturally sensitive Santa in Nairobi. 

It was all just in fun. For clarification purposes, we don't teach our children about Santa and we don't tell our white kids he's real. Mostly because why would I want some fake dude taking credit for gifts we spend time on making special for our kids. SMH. We don't ban him though and if he pops up in a movie we watch or
dcorations we put up we view him like we do Cinderella or Tom and jerry. 

And our local new mall in town decided to put some crazy santas up. This one dances and plays a saxophone. 

And this one is actually decent and plays some good Christmas music. 

Next up is the long awaited story of
our two newest sprouts babies and ways we need your help to make this Christmas a Merry Mattaw Christmas! 


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