Our wonderful team...we had so much fun!
Our team at the "Tree of Life"
Doing the break your back & duck face pose!
We did this a LOT!
After a REALLY long flight from Oklahoma City...to Dallas...to London...to Nairobi...then finally to Kisumu...we were on a bus headed to Maisha International . As we were driving along this long dusty road...we were unexpectedly greeted by the most beautiful faces running toward us! Bea (the woman behind Maisha...you can read about her here) told the bus driver to stop right there and for us to get out. She said the kids had never run out this far to greet a group before. It was precious! As we hop out of the bus the kids were there ready to take us by the hands and walk us back to the orphanage. They were very excited and eager to find out more about us. They were full of questions from what is your name to how many are in your family, etc. And of COURSE they wanted to have their picture taken! As we get closer to Maisha, the women come running out greeting us with hugs, singing and dancing. It was such a wonderful way to be welcomed. I'd have a great day everyday if I was greeted with kids running toward me and women singing and dancing as I arrived to work...wouldn't you?!?! LOL We finally make it to Maisha and we get the grand tour. Seeing where the widows sew the kids uniforms, the class rooms, the kitchen where the food is made each day & the beautiful garden.
And here they come!!!
Aren't these the sweetest faces?!?!
It brought tears to our eyes to see them running
to greet us from so far away!
This is precious Stephen...he was so animated
in his performance of how to make Ungali.
On our last day he came to me and gave me a hug
then covered his face and just started crying
because he was going to miss us so much. He made
a sweet connection with Bret and now Bret is his sponsor!
This was during our welcome ceremony
the young kids ladies called each of us up
by name and we joined in on their dance
(Blake, Meg & Eric)
This is the beautiful Beatrice, founder of
This was our welcome on the 2nd day...the little
school kids sang songs to us and sweet little Winnie
on the left was shakin' her hips...she was adorable!
Getting letters from the kiddos was definitely
a high for me!
"As many of you know, we are memorizing Psalms 91 together as a church. The Verses Project is putting each verse to song and these verses were on my mind in Kenya. One day when we were in the slums, we visited a lady name Conslada who is HIV positive. She started telling us her story...She was engaged and then when her fiancé found out she was positive, she was deserted. She then moved in with her parents, who ended up passing away soon after. She currently lives with her bother who tells her on a regular basis that her residence with him is not permanent. He also requires her to find a way to financially support her and her daughter, even though her body is weak from the lack of nutrition and the medicine she is taking to fight her disease. As we sat and listened to her story, my heart was filled with compassion. They asked if we had any words of encouragement for her. Eddy shared a story from John with her, reminding her that God has and is preparing a place for her. He has not abandoned her. As I thought of what to share, Psalms 91 came to mind. It was close to when we were memorizing Psalms 91:1: I spit out part of the verse (although, I admit that my memorization was lacking in the moment)...and then a Kenyan opened the Bible to Psalms 91 and read it over her in her own language.
So, I've thought a lot about Conslada and Psalms 91 and how to read it in her context. What does it mean when it says "he will deliver you from the deadly pestilence" and "no plague come near your tent?" I was immediately comforted by the promise that He has promised to even those who are suffering in poverty from a terrible disease that "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty." Abiding here (and in heaven, eternally without disease), in rich fellowship with Him is what I hope for Conslada. Praying that Psalms 91 brought comfort to her, that even in the midst of terrible circumstances, He is her refuge. I shared this story with Joel, and he directed me to this link. It reminds us that although sometimes He does deliver from disease and poverty on this earth, the EVEN more glorious promise is that he has promised to deliver those who dwell and know Him from NO FINAL EVIL. This passage and these questions have brought hope and a deeper reminder of what true refuge is."
Another person we visited was Benard. We walked into his home and from the looks of it, it was hopeless. Benard had wasted away to almost nothing. He was lying on a bamboo floor mat with cushions to make it comfortable for him. He could barely keep his eyes open and it was very difficult for him to speak. All we could do was pray for him and his family...so Austin knelt down and prayed for Benart. We later found out that it's customary to put someone on a floor mat as preparation for death. It broke our hearts and he never left my mind or prayers. **See Update Below**
Benard as we met him
Austin praying for Benard & his family
Equipment for Soccer Camp!
Tricia - the greatest story teller...she held the
kids attention with her incredible abilities
to tell Bible stories with such detail & animation
Eric hanging with his kiddo, Collins and
some of the boys from Maisha...they LOVE him!
He's visited many times...it was a joy to be on the
trip with him and to really see him in his element.
Eric led our water well team...they did an incredible
job...the garden now has a new well!
Coach Arthur we liked to call him King Arthur
Pray he comes to know Christ as his savior.
The well digging team!!!
Another assignment I was on was kitchen duty with Tricia & Callie. We had the wonderful opportunity to work in the kitchen with the beautiful Suleiman, Helen, Anastasia & Caroline. Suleiman is the main cook. She is a very kind, funny, loving and passionate woman. She grew up in a Muslim family but wasn't a practicing Muslim. She became a follower of Jesus just two days before we got there. This was probably one of my favorite experiences of the trip. Not just because I love to cook but because of the way the Holy Spirit was moving and the sweet moments we shared together. It was kind of quiet as we were trying to cut vegetables and I seriously mean trying...the knives were dull as all get out but they make it work every day...so will we! As I'm peeling a tomato (that was a first) Suleiman asked that we tell her a story. I just kind of looked as Callie like...what kind of story?!?! Thankfully, Tricia piped up and asked if the ladies had ever heard the story of Daniel in the lion's den. Suleiman being new to the faith had never heard the story so Tricia proceeds to share going into great detail. Tricia has an incredible gift of telling stories. Needless to say, Suleiman was amazed that the lion's mouths had been shut and they didn't even touch Daniel. She said "and they didn't eat him...HOW?!?!" Tricia explained that God had closed their mouths and protected Daniel. She just couldn't believe it...she kept saying "Amazing, that is amazing!" She shared with us about how she loves to cook for people and that she really enjoys setting the table and making people feel loved. I explained to her that is part of Jesus' heart in her...in the Bible Jesus says He's preparing a place for us and there will be a banquet waiting for us! Callie proceeded at this time to share the story of Zacchaeus and Jesus...in the middle of the story Suleiman started piecing things together...she said "we watched a movie the other day...is this the same Jesus that was in that movie that had the big cross on his back?!?!" "Yes!!!" We said...she replied "why did he do that?!?" At this point Callie encouraged Tricia to tell the story of Jesus from birth to death & resurrection. We all are pretty emotional about it...Callie & I are trying to cut vegetables and tears are rolling down our faces...it was just a sweet time to hear the story of Jesus and to experience it with this woman who had never heard the full story before. She looked up and said "I can't believe he did that for us...my heart can't take it!" She ran over to Tricia and flung her arms around her as quickly as she could...we all just stood there and bawled! She breaks away from Tricia and says "No more crying, no more crying...only tears of joy!!!"
That day was probably my favorite day...it was so sweet and I'm so thankful the Lord allowed me to experience it. We found out later after dinner that Suleiman pulled Bea aside and said "thank you for sending people that love me into the kitchen to work with me." Callie, Tricia & I all teared up when we heard that. There's nothing greater than hearing the people we were sent to share Christ's love with...felt the love!
The lovely Suleiman
Sweet Suleiman- this was the night before
our very last day at Maisha
|Tricia, Callie & I cutting up veggies...yep, I peeled a tomato in one string!|
I think I'll end with this final story...because I could go on & on!!! I asked the Lord to allow me to connect with at least one of the kids so I could sponsor them. For a little over a dollar a day one child can have an entire school uniform, one meal a day and their education paid for. Due to a series of events, all ordained by the Lord I'm sure of it, my budget has been freed up so that I could sponsor someone. On our very first day at Maisha I was hanging out with a group of kids...they were so much fun! They were singing and asking all kinds of questions...really wanting my attention. I noticed behind the kids a cute little boy sitting on a pile of wood...kind of quiet and really shy. I was INSTANTLY drawn to him! I stepped away from the group of kids and asked the boy his name...his name is Erick and he is 12 years old. He was very sweet and soft spoken...I HAD to know if he was being sponsored, right away!!! After a day or two of praying I found out he was not sponsored and I knew he was my kiddo! I had also met this adorable young girl who was also very shy...I guess the extrovert in me is attracted to the shy reserved type...Ha! Her name is Eunice and she is 8 years old. Most of the kids love to hold your hand and be right next to you wanting every bit of your attention. Erick & Eunice were not like this at all. I noticed as the days went on that I no longer had to look to find them, they were always within arms reach following me around. I LOVED it!!! One day while I was out at the soccer fields a beautiful young girl walked up to me and asked, "Are you Eunice's friend, Alecia?" I said, "Yes, I am! Are you her sister?" they looked exactly alike! She said "Yes, I am...my name is Susline. Eunice LOVES you! She will not stop talking about her friend Alecia that walks with her at Maisha" Tears welled up in my eyes and I said "She talks?!?!" Eunice is sooo quite it was like pulling teeth to talk to her. Susline said "Yes, she talks! We can't get her to stop!", Ohhh...sooo adorable.
Eunice & Erick
Eunice with her friends at the soccer fields
Susline (on the left) is a beautiful 15 year old girl who
loves to sing and is very smart. She already had a sponsor...
good thing because at this rate I was falling
in love with all of them...I don't think I mentioned it
but Erick & Eunice have 8 other brothers and sisters!
Sweet Eunice worshiping during church
Cute Erick caught me as I was trying to take
a picture of him from a distance :-)
Well, now here I was with two kids I was crazy about. So I continued to pray and found out neither of them were sponsored and they are actually brother and sister!!! I couldn't choose between the two of them...I was torn...how in the world could I possibly pick just one? I finally got a reminder from the Lord of how He freed up my budget and that I actually had room in my budget to take care of both of them. So on my very last day with the kids I stopped by the Nakumatt (this was the "Wal-Mart" of Kenya) and purchased some flip flops for each of them...Eunice had been walking around barefoot the entire time. I also wrote them each a letter with words of Truth and what a joy it was to meet them. I also let them know that I was going to be their sponsor! I had received letters from several children except these two. On my last day there, before the church service they each handed me a letter. It melted my heart...Susline helped Eunice write her letter. I asked Susline to come upstairs with Erick, Eunice & me. I wanted her to translate for them that I would be their sponsor. They had the sweetest smiles on their faces when she told them. Susline looked at me and said "they are so excited!" So...now I have two kids in Kenya that I'm pretty crazy about and can't wait to love on and spoil! I've already started gathering school supplies and made the photo books for them...I can't wait to send them their things with the next team that goes in November or December!
Our last day together
Right after I gave them their
flip flops & told them I was
going to sponsor them...I love
Robin presenting the prayer quilt the kids
at Bridgeway made for them
Bikes we were able to present to
a couple of the guys. A bike cuts their
travel time from a two hour walk
to a 45 minute ride to school
Meg, Blake, Bret, Eric & Austin
presenting the bikes & repair kits.
Boys at soccer camp
Some of the kids in the preschool program
How sweet is this?!?
Just hangin' out at the soccer field
This is called the Tree of Life
Bret, Eric & Austin
Jenna & Callie
Callie & I sporting our USA & Thunder gear
39 Baptisms at the river
After everyone was out of the watter
The cattle came to drink and....well....
take care of business....I said to the 3 guys that
did the baptisms "You were in that!!!" We all
got a good laugh when this happened.
Tony giving rides...this is the norm...always more
than one person on a motorcycle also known as
a piki piki
**Update on Benard** - I found out, after returning to the states, that one of our team members gave Benard's family enough money to take him to the hospital and get some care. The doctors had no hope for him and put him in the ward where they send people to die. It was just a waiting game really. Ian went to visit Benard's family and Benard was there!!! He was alive and well...he had put on weight and he was going into town to look for a job!!! Praise the Lamb...you all...God is STILL working miracles today!!!
Benard is in the striped shirt...Praise God for
his healing! Now Benard can get a job
and help care for his family.
Ian was part of our team while we were there
he's in the dark shirt & hat next to Benard
Me, Callie & Jenna
A little Sass at the Equator!
Baptisms...Praise the Lamb!
With my kiddos! Erick & Eunice
This is another sweet Eunice
Reppin' Thunder & USA at the Equator
A typical evening...the sunsets were always gorgeous