Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Our time in Kenya has been filled with so much joy from the people we have come to know and love. These relationships have also come with heart break and true sadness. Yesterday we found a family with three children at the boarding school lost everything in a house fire on Saturday. Ester is in 4th grade, Stephen is in 2nd grade, and Jane is in preschool. These past few weeks I have spent a lot of time with Stephen and his second grade class. This precious boy stole my heart from day 1.  The fire got started because Stephen (the only one in the home) was trying to burn a pile of ants that had come into their home. The flame got too close to a bag near the ants and the whole house went into flames. THANK GOD his grandfather saw the flames and saved Stephen from the burning house. The house was burnt to the ground and the clothes on the clothesline are the only things the family has left. This family was already living in deep poverty and now they have moved in with their grandparents who already have multiple people in their home.
         When I heard this news my heart broke for the family. When I heard Stephen was the one who started the fire my heart shattered for this child. I cannot believe an 8-year-old boy has to live with the trauma of that situation, let alone be left with nothing. I immediately went to find the children to give them a hug and when I saw Stephen he had a HUGE smile on his face. His house burned down, he has nothing, he came to school in clothes he has worn for two days straight and he’s smiling?? I learned from that moment on that the Lord is infatuated with Stephen. He wants Stephen on this earth and I KNOW he has big plans for this boy. The Lord has wrapped his huge arms around Stephen and he has allowed me to be there to do the hugging for him. It is an honor that he is letting me love this child.
         Please, please, please keep Stephen and his family in your prayers. We are doing everything we can for this family while we are here and also trying to figure out how to help when we leave. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

MAMBO! After a busy and exhausting two weeks we have finally made it around to our blog. What a trip from Nairobi to Nakuru we had! As we traveled down the long dusty road wild zebras, elk, sheep, cows, and wart hogs surrounded us, all of which amongst the beautiful acacia trees. It was beautiful! We arrived in Nakuru at Diane’s (the mother of this whole ministry) home and welcomed by our new bestie, Ann! She works so hard to prepare the most delicious food for us and makes sure we have clean clothes to wear and sheets to sleep in. We have both formed a close relationship with her and she has become a source of much laughter for both of us. The first week was spent getting settled in and figuring out where we can be of most use at the schools and clinic as well as within the community. It stretched us to limits we didn’t realize we could reach, as we were heartbroken and unsure of exactly how we could help here and where we would fit in to enable us to be in a position to be positive assets here! At this point we have learned to take things day by day and have both seemed to have found our places within this community. These first two weeks have been such a blessing….

Loving Miss Boo
Boo has been working closely with the teachers at the United Methodist Boarding School and Squatters Hill Pre School. At the boarding school, she is working with pre school- 2nd graders. There are about 150 children in these classes, which means a lot of names to remember! This has been a challenge but she is starting to know most of them by name. These classes are filled with the most respectful, precious, and spirited children you will ever meet. They do not have many classroom materials (which is something we are working on) but these children are so bright and so determined to learn. They spend most of the mornings sitting at their desk copying into a workbook. This was a very eye opening experience for an extremely ADD Boo to witness (haha). I was shocked by how they had them sitting but after observing different schools I realized this was a culture difference and it is their way of teaching. The classrooms are very simple and the only lighting they receive is from the sun. They sing many different songs with the children, some that Boo was familiar with and some African songs that she wants to bring back to the states and share with her new class. The students have two hours for lunch and play time, which is a good break from sitting. Watching these children play is pure joy. They do not have any toys or a playground to play with but they are content with the company of their friends and a little dirt. She has taught them activities and songs that they can implement in their classrooms and vise versa. She has already found herself getting attached to these children and excited to wake up and meet them at their school every day.

Squatters Hill Preschool Students

Squatters Hill is a delightfully different experience. The drive to Squatters Hill is an experience in itself. The school is located in the middle of a slum in Nakuru called Squatters Hill. There are children walking around everywhere, some young children (less than 10 years old) with baby’s strapped to their backs. Most of the children at this school live in this slum and come to Squatters Hill for school. The children at the school are fed porridge at 10 in the morning for breakfast and rice and beans around 1 for lunch. These meals are most of these children’s only meals they will receive that day. Once the children at the school are fed, the teachers and staff take the leftovers outside the gate of the school and feed the rest of the children in Squatters Hill. We have both gotten the opportunity to actually serve the food to the children in the school and the ones outside the gate. This was a great honor. It was something that we had never done before and we really did feel like we were serving the Lord in feeding the mouths of his precious children. I have not heard one complaint or grumble from these children about their conditions or amount of food served. These children eat rice and beans EVERYDAY. Can you imagine having the same meal everyday without complaining or arguing? I know I would have a hard time with that. They are the sweetest most precious people I think I will ever meet. They sing songs that bring tears to your eyes just from the joy in their tiny voices. It is a pleasure that we have gotten to work at Squatters Hill and I cannot wait to spend more time there.
Sweet Little Ones praying before being fed at Squatters Hill
In the clinic Morgan has seen many different things and it has been a very eye opening experience. The clinic is a 24 hour run clinic, which includes a full lab and outpatient center staffed by Kenyan lab technicians, doctors, nurses, a pharmacist, a community health director and clinicians. All of the wonderful Kenyan staff is so driven and very educated! It is a small facility but has been a key player in reaching out to various villages to educate and care for those sick and failing to thrive. Our mornings are quite hectic as the clinic floods with precious babies, pregnant women, and young children coming in for monthly check ups and immunizations. It’s awesome to see so many children being cared for and their mothers properly educated on how to ensure a safe pregnancy and healthy baby. Home deliveries are very common within the African culture and they pose many dangerous complications. Often times the mother dies during labor and the baby can die too or be born with unhealthy conditions. The clinic has been on the forefront of turning this tradition around by encouraging women to come to the clinic to deliver their babies by trained nurses. Here in Kenya, the nurses do everything involved in delivering the babies, the doctor is not even in the room. We almost had a delivery today but I am still awaiting the first one! Several newborns come to the clinic after being delivered at home so Morgan has done many newborn assessments, cleanings and cutting of the umbilical chords as well as putting together plans for immunizations and educating the mother on proper infant care. While a lack of resources is the reason for many of the infected umbilical chords and skin infections seen on the babies issues also stem from a lack of education and that’s where the clinic plays such a big role.

Post Stiches!
In this area of Kenya, emergency medical attention is not common so we also see those patients. Last week, Morgan performed her first stitches on one of the bravest boy she has ever met! He was hit by a metal bar on his forehead and stayed so strong as she injected local anesthesia above and below the wound then stitched it up.  My hands were shaking and his shrieking and tears did not help but this was all quickly turned around with a simple sticker and piece of candy after the procedure! He was so appreciative even after all the pain and his beautiful face is one I will never forget.  Another exciting day for Morgan was when she de-wormed the children from outside Squatters Hill preschool. The children came one at a time to receive the de-worming medication before they received their porage in the morning. One of teachers was very concerned about Margaret, a young girl from the slum, who looks very ill and malnourished. As I knelt down beside her to gather information she smiled and I saw the most beautiful and sweet little girl behind those tired eyes. The teacher was concerned she may have HIV, as she is an orphan whose parents passed away due to the horrible disease. We arranged for her to be tested and we are still working on getting her into our feeding program as well as arranging for a pair of shoes and new clothing for her. Yesterday the good news came that Margaret is HIV negative!! My heart is beyond happy for her and I know God has big plans for this little girl! We will be working to nourish her back to health.

Beautiful Margaret

This past Sunday we attended a local Methodist church where worship was given a whole new meaning for us! We were welcomed into dancing, singing and jumping for a solid two or three hours. Seeing their passion for the Lord and how He is here in such a big way was so inspiring. It warmed our hearts to see so many children so enthusiastic to be at church. One of the ministers at this church brings children of all ages in her village to church, this of course made it our favorite place of the day! We also attended the main Kenya Partners School where the worship was lead by the students. We observed the same enthusiasm while the praise and worship team performed and children voluntarily came forward to share a message, sing, dance, or pray. We both admired the courage the young children had to share their testimonies and talents at such a young age. Needless to say we ended the day exhausted and in awe of how the people here can endure such long hours of strenuous praising on a day we normally use to sleep and recuperate!

Kiddos excited to see Julius!
Last night we celebrated our driver, Julius, and Boo’s birthdays! What a special day it was!! Julius is the glue that seems to hold this whole ministry together. He is truly a man of God, which you quickly observe as he selflessly attends to all the transportation and construction needs within the organization and has children fleeing to him with open arms screaming his name everywhere he goes. We celebrated all day by going out to a special lunch and having a celebration in the evening with Ann’s yummy dinner, gifts, cake and ice cream! As Julius shared some childhood memories and Boo read the special words her children here wrote for her, the celebration quickly became a very happy and emotional one. It was so fun for them to share their special day together!
As we look back on these two weeks, we have realized that before we came to Kenya, despite what we thought, we really did have expectations of what we would be doing and what it would be like here. The Lord has totally messed up those expectations and plans. He is using us both in different ways than we thought, which has been an extremely humbling experience. We naturally assumed that we would come here as a nurse and teacher, showing them how we do things in the states. This was naive of us and we were immediately put in our place when we saw how well everything was run and how qualified the people here really are. We also thought that we would be working with children and form attachments with only them but little did we know we would form sweet friendships with the staff both at the clinic and school. We both are so thankful to be welcomed into this country by such lively people who have already taught us more then we feel we could ever teach them!

We are sending lots of love your way from Kenya!
Boo & Morgs

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

JAMBO! We have finally arrived in Kenya!! It has already been an amazing experience and we haven't even gotten to Nakuru yet. On Sunday Boo, Robby, & our new friends, Jerilyn & Megan, visited the elephant orphanage where they got to get up close and personal with baby elephants! It was really cool to see them in their natural surroundings & be close enough to pet them. Robs quickly became an animal lover much to our surprise!

At the Elephant Orphanage 
After our African animal adventure it was on to the Nairobi Airport to pick up Morgan. If you know Morgan you already know that she was well rested from her airplane pass outs, which include snoring on the neighbors shoulders.  We got settled in at the Hampton House that is apartment style housing for visitors and resting place for Kenyans receiving medical attention.

Monday morning came quickly and we were off to eat breakfast in one of the local malls. One surprising part of our trip has been a simple car ride through Nairobi. Nairobi is considered the “London of Africa” so in our minds we had expectations of what it would be like. While driving through the streets of Nairobi our minds were immediately blown by their way of life. We would drive through the city and see tall beautiful buildings and nice houses, many of which are homes of diplomats and British families in an area called Lavington and then we’d make a quick turn to see poverty for miles. It was so eye opening to see both extremes within Kenya’s capital city.

While exploring Nairobi we visited Amani Ya Juu and Kazzuri Beads. Both of which are faith-based businesses established to give the women of Africa employment opportunities and off the streets into a community to grow in their own faith. We were welcomed by songs, huge smiles, warm hugs, and tours at both places. At Amani Ya Juu their motto is "sowing peace through the eye of a needle" and the women created hand made gifts ranging from bags to quilted blankets, home decorations and children’s clothing. Many of the products could easily be sold at our favorite store in the US, Anthropology! It was incredible to see the tedious work that women put into making these types of beautiful hand made items. At Kazzuri Beads the red African clay from Mt. Kenya is used to form gorgeous beads as well as pottery. The beads are hand painted and made into all forms of jewelry. We were fortunate enough to meet one of the original three women who began at Kazzuri Beads. These two experiences were humbling as we saw joyful women so blessed with this incredible opportunity.

Just a couple of the amazing 300 plus products from Amani Ya Juu -- stretched fabric art!

One of the original three women at Kazzuri Beads 

Next were given the opportunity to visit New Life Home Trust orphanage. Of course we were beyond ecstatic to an open room full of sweet babies who needed some love. It was the highlight of our trip so far! We spent a few hours holding, feeding and playing with them feeling so overjoyed that they were in this place with so many people who love them but heart broken at the same time. It was impossible to wrap our minds around how someone could abandon such a tiny precious child. There was something so indescribable about having their heads resting so peacefully on our chests while they held tightly on to us as the staff sang Jesus loves me. Such an unforgettable experience! It was interesting to hear that 90% of the adoptions there were done by Kenyan families, which is so special for the children to be able to grow up in their own culture with a family that loves them so much. The director said many older children who were adopted from here will come back to the orphanage to see where they began their lives. It was very evident that these children are so well cared for both emotionally and physically by the staff and we are so thankful for this organization. Unfortunately, we were unable to take pictures with the babies at this orphanage. Later on during our trip we will be spending more time at their orphanage in Nakuru as well as a couple others.

Before the babies!   
Robs...our camera dude

We finished off our day at a yummy restaurant with a wonderful view of the Kenyan culture! Now it's off to Nakuru to get settled in today at our new home and rest to begin our work tomorrow!

We are sending lots of love your way from Kenya!
Boo & Morgs