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.

05 March 2015

It's desert time!

<<<<<<<<Quick update here>>>>>>>

We are Turkana bound tomorrow!  With the whole Huffman troop. We are all jumping up and down excited, especially Elisha. He sat outside with a hoodie on and tears rolling down his cheek as he watched his dad leave for Turkana a few weeks ago. So I'm thrilled my kids get excited about the desert, sleeping in tents, the hot sun, cooking over fire, playing with kids that don't know English or Swahili, driving on some of the craziest roads in the world and going potty behind small twig bushes.  God gives grace where needed!  

THANK YOU to those that gave towards food we get to take up there. There's still a drought in many areas going on and many in dire need. It's a huge opportunity to pour out Papa Gods massive love for all people and every tribe. Half the truck is loaded with food from California. We had some incredible folks connect us with people that were coming in the country to deliver containers of food from California. Most if it is buckets and buckets of dried peaches, organic baby food, organic brown rice cakes and pouches of chia seed mixed with fruit GMO free.  Haha. How cool is that?!  They have no idea how people in America pay a lot to eat healthy like this and here we are getting to hand it out for free. Such an honor to be part of Jesus' big plans. We weren't sure if they'd like all of it but the mamas were loving the rice cakes and the littles were licking clean the baby food jars.  The other half is food bought by some of you!  It's mostly beans and maize bought locally. Pretty amazing to see their thankfulness and how those that are Christians worship Jesus as a response. 

And next Saturday is the half marathon our new Mattaw running team and I have been training for!!  It'll be in Eldoret. We have 35 on the team but just 5 girls and 5 boys will participate this this particular race. We are coordinating with organizations and schools in the area to do some cross country competitions soon. ANNNND.... We have Race2Rescue event coming up!  The details are being finalized now and tshirt design for this year is almost finished. It'll be in June and it'll be super simple for all to participate in!  So stay tuned :). 

Closing this post with my running jam and theme song this week....

Whether it's in running, missions or whatever Jesus has in front of you to do... "Hear him callin.... give it all away, no more hiding, no more stallin, Give In!"  Let love win :). 

26 February 2015

My Sparkle. And more on life.

Ready for a long post?  Grab your coffee or tea and read on!  

In our family we have six boys and one girl. Our oldest son, Caleb, attends college in America.

The next three sons, Ian, Dan and Joseph, are teenagers living in our home. They attend school on site at Mattaw Children's village. 

Next is Elisha, who is now a first grader. I've fully submerged myself into the homeschool world with him. He is now keepin up with the footballers his age out on the Mattaw soccer field. 

Then there's Claire who adds all things pink and sparkly to our family. She attends the school of motherhood. Some days she's helping feed and play with our Sprouts babies. Other days she's leading the littles who live in Mattaw houses, those that aren't yet in the school at mattaw. She usually leads them around Mattaw to play barbies, make mud pies, swing, sing songs she's made up, color pretty princess pictures and scout out which house they can drink chai in. 

Then of course, there's the baby, Ezra. He is usually eating their mud pies, cutting the hair off the barbies, pushing them off the swing, dancing to their songs, eating crayons and crashing in on their tea parties. I recently wrote about Ezra on the post "Ezra and life". I also shared about life here and what sometimes being a mama looks like. More on this but I first have to share about yesterday to satisfy the grandparents and those that massively love our one and only girl of the family. 

Yesterday that girly girl turned 5!  She is indeed the sparkle in our life. 

We went with our family and Rebecca (who Claire considers her as Auntie Rebecca) to Eldoret for our son's orthodontist appointment. (Yep, you can get braces here and yep, we too are going through this phase of teenage life). So we ended up at a pool in Eldoret, then went for french fries and milkshakes. As everyone on the American side of the world is enduring what seems to be an eternal blizzard, we are in the middle of summer here. It's swimming pools and  ice cream instead of snowmen and hot chocolate.  (Oh but just you wait, you'll be enjoying the pool during your summertime while we are in what feels like eternal cold monsoon season and everything is covered in mud.) But it was the perfect day for the princess!  Thank you grandparents for the gifts sent. She felt so loved.   

So back to motherhood and mission life. I shared last time about some life lessons around here. Mainly focusing on how the simplest acts of love in our family is what raises our children into world changers. And sometimes that means focusing on our children at home more than "going out" for ministry. My whole point was that being a mama is a high honor and we don't want to forget our children as we chase our God given dreams, whether that's in foreign missions, business or whatever God might lead it to be. Being consistent with our littles is important whether that's homeschooling, bedtime bible stories and prayers, eating meals together as a family no matter how hectic life gets and just fully being present in their life.  Like this last week for me... my husband went to Turkana for an incredible week of ministry by feeding the hungry and getting to pour out love and hope everywhere they went. I was on edge to get an update everyday, my heart longing to be there!  More on this SOON. But I knew for that trip, the best thing I could do for my kids (and husband) was stay home, do school and love them in little ways. 

Then there are other times we've run out on adventure together as a family.  I mean obviously we live as a family on mission now but there's also the going out. But Holy Spirit must be our guide in every step. For us, there's not a set of rules on how we live as a mission focused family. We have to hear where the Spirit is leading and obey with fearless love. So there's one side of this whole parenthood thing where we need to focus on the family.  Then there's another BIG side of it where we need to be a family with a focus. And take our kids with us into the mission and place of ministry. 

What has God called your family to? 

It's a good question to often ask. And I would highly recommend having some goals and visions written out that you feel Jesus has given your family. We sat and did this as a family the week of New Years and it really helped us all know where we are going. I've known people to even paint their family mission on pallets and hang on the wall (http://wearethatfamily.com/2012/11/why-every-family-needs-a-mission-statement-project/). 

In a little over a week we are about to go back to Turkana. This time as a family.  Some mamas are called to go out more. Some aren't.  Where we begin to lose purpose and feel defeated as a mom is when we start to compare our lives to others.  Comparison will kill the joy in your life!  There's a great story (in the bible) about a man that kept his eyes on Jesus and walked on water but when he took his eyes off him, he sank. So be the best you. And keep your focus on Jesus.   

Last year I had the incredible opportunity to go to Congo. It was a long time dream fulfilled. We are still praying what's next in going there and what our part is in helping and loving that nation. There are very few days the children and people I met aren't on my mind, heart and prayers. If you haven't already, visit Justice Risings website and read how they're bringing massive change to that nation. 

I bring up Congo because when I went, there was this incredible prophecy given by Stacey Campbell that was for anyone going on missions that year through the organization (Burn 24\7) that I went with. IT ROCKED THIS MAMAS WORLD. I wrote it all out as quickly as I could on two papers and tucked it away in my bible. I still have it tucked away and often go back and read it to get lit up by the love of the Father and His call He gives His children to be abassadors to the nations. So on the next blog post I'll share all about it :).  One part of it, I was not expecting, was when she went into being a mama and taking your kids with you into the mission and mandate God has given.  I about lost it as it nailed me to my core on what God created us for as a family.  "We have permission to go after God with radical obedience. We don't have to decelerate because of our family. We can actually do more!  What they can add to it is powerful". 

More soon :). 

Love you all.

18 February 2015

Steady Heart

(This post a continuation if previous post titled "Keep on keepin on")

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit". Romans 15:13

My goodness, how The Lord will teach me something so deep and I'll hear it everywhere I turn. 

I so love the new album by Steffany Grerzinger. Every song so beautifully written and anointed. One song especially has spoken volumes to my heart. It's called "Steady Heart". I could quote the whole song or you could do yourself a favor and go buy the cd!  It's called The Undoing. 

But the song starts out:
"I can't see what's in front of me....
still I will trust you"

And then the chorus goes

"Steady heart that keeps on going,
Steady love that keeps on hoping, 
Lead me on. 
Steady grace that keep forgiving,
Steady faith that keeps forgiving,
lead me on"

It's so simple but exactly where my heart has been. A place where when things are good, bad or normal, to keep my heart steady in Jesus. And my mind focused on Him. It's a choosing. There has been amazing encounters with Papa in this season of life. Then there has been heartbreaks.  Also disappointments.  And then there's been the mundane.  Mostly it's been an incredible season of dreams fulfilled that were birthed by God years ago. And it hasn't always been easy. Birth can be painful!  (Can I get an AMEN?!)  And for sure we've felt some of the pain and stretching spiritually. But the pain so worth it to see the miracles happen in the midst of difficulty. We've seen orphans become sons and daughters. We've seen the Kenyans led to us to be house parents, becoming mothers and fathers to children once orphaned.  

And then we had one of the mattaw children recently run away back to the streets after being part of the Mattaw fam for over four years. Thankfully he came back home after a month.  Not easy though.  That's just one small example of challenges faced. They're there alright though!  

Then there have been times my seven year old keeps mixing up letters B and D. And then that time he couldn't tell us the sounds for G and J. After we have practiced the alphabet and all letter sounds a million times. But I knew my heart had to stay steady and not go cray cray. Because Elisha would end up a stress ball. And I was determined to have a reader. Steady.  Wait for it.... Wait.... And now he's reading. Thank you Jesus!

In our family, we've seen incredible fruit come from us moving on site at the children's village.  For sure though there's been rough times. Times where, for reals,  I felt like this:

But then I get saturated in the presence of Jesus and given a completely renewed mind. Strength comes. Life happens. And Papa gently whispers "you need to stand up. Will you keep saying yes and believing me to be who I say I am?" And his goodness leads me to my feet. God is love. And His love just wrecks me to the point of saying yes again and again. And he reminds me to keep a steady heart.

His presence really is everything. When you get to where you realize just how weak you are on your own and how Jesus is everything. He really does just fill you with all hope and joy. It's like you're a tree, bending and not breaking in a storm. Like you're standing in the sea and the waves come crashing in but your heart isn't moved. It's so anchored in the One who laid down His life for you that you would be made WHOLE. We aren't called to hang on for dear life, eaten up with fear and worry. We also aren't called to lay out on the shores while a few "spiritual elitist" go out.  We are all called to brave the storms that come and be hope to a dying world.  It doesn't take long to see on the news or Facebook that the dark is getting darker. But that just means the light of Him IN us is getting brighter. He just wants our whole being surrendered to Him and He sure uses anyone that says yes!

My constant prayer is to finish this race well. Check out this incredible passage: 

1 Corinthians 1:4-9
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Did you catch some of those incredible promises?!  There's no lack. When walking out our destiny in Christ, we are not lacking any gift needed to accomplish it!  And then it states that He will sustain us until Jesus comes back. As in we can finish well. Be sustained. Heart steady. Not tossed here and there by the waves. No sinking in the sand. We are anchored in Jesus. Rooted in Him.  He's is faithful!

And you know how the song ends?  She sings 
"And as the dawn breaks. 
and the clouds clear. 
In an open space. 
Together we will run."

If in a fog, He will clear it up. Breakthrough comes.  Sure, times come where we feel we are hanging on, but if we will LOOK to Jesus, He sustains us and empowers us by His Spirit to live life abundantly. And to thrive not just survive. And then we keep pressing on and running with Jesus!  The dawn is breaking in. Hope is on the horizon. 

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. 


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