Hello again from across the world in Kenya! I’m going to jump right into today’s blog!
Last week we went on a two day safari to Masai Mara, which is a very large game park about seven hours from where we live here in Kakamega. We went on safari for the first time last year and LOVED it. Tourism is one of Kenya’s biggest industries and it is important to us to be a part of that. We took our family and friends that were here with us and just had an awesome time. We stayed in a safari camp which was amazing! It is a sturdy tent on a concrete slab that has a shower and toilet connected to each. So awesome. We were really able to unwind from a busy first couple weeks of having the team here.
Since we’ve been back to Kakamega we’ve spent all of our time at the orphanage, which has been BLISS. We work with our staff, our accountant, and on the grounds people until 3:00 PM when our kids get home from school.
I want to highlight a story I’ve learned from sitting and just being present with the kids this week. One day I was hanging with Hilary and I asked him to tell me his story. His mother and father died when he was young, so he went to stay with his grandfather. After some time, his grandfather got sick and went to the hospital. Hilly said when he was in the hospital he was alone in their grass thatch house and a storm came and the house fell over on him. (CAN YOU IMAGINE?!) — He didn’t exactly know but he was guessing he was 5-6 years old at this time. FIVE OR SIX YEARS OLD. Since he was alone and couldn’t stay in a destroyed house anymore he went to live with an auntie/cousin who he says “abused him severely.” He was pretty shy about this part but basically he wasn’t able to go to school, he didn’t get fed, and if he did any sort of small thing wrong he was hurt for it. He said that it eventually got so bad that he felt like living homeless as a street boy would be better so he ran away. This is where the story gets good. Hilly told me that just 48 hours after he was on the street, our director Julius ran into him near his church offices. He asked him if he wanted to be on the street, and Hillary said no. Hillary said that he wanted to go to school so he could one day be a pilot. The rest is history, if you will. Hillary has been with us since we opened the orphanage 4 years ago. He lights our lives right up and is so helpful. He is one of our smartest young boys and a very talented soccer player. This past week we played Bible trivia one evening and he knew more of the Bible than I did — no joke. I just love the redemption woven throughout this story. As I sat with Hilly I asked him where he thought he would be if he didn’t live at our Rescue Center, he said, “I don’t know for sure, but I would probably be stealing and huffing glue.” Instead he is thriving, learning, and growing in Jesus. Wow.
No matter how overwhelming working here can be, even though there are still 5 million orphans in Kenya that we aren’t currently helping, and even though our work is only just beginning, IT IS WORTH IT! I could just jump up and down with JOY at this fact. We are winning — every single day, in small and in big ways — we are winning. I love that Jesus has given our little community to be a part of his redemptive work amidst the orphan, the widowed, the poor. I JUST LOVE JESUS FOR THAT.
We met with our Director and our Operations Manager this week at a sweet little retreat center in the middle of the Kakamega Rainforest. We had an awesome time narrowing our focus for the next year, celebrating the wins from the last year, and stepping back to see where we are wanting to improve this year. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do in Kakamega without Oscar and Julius — hands down. I am so humbled to work with these excellent, upright, and godly men. Joe and I really, really, love our staff here.
Joe and I head out a week from tomorrow on a sponsored trip for our travel blog away-wego.com which we are very, very excited about! I will be blogging all the gorgeous details of that trip here, so stay tuned.
I’m really living in the now for this week and next – enjoying every meal with my babies, every homework assignment, every bath time, and every snuggle. I know my time with them for another year or so is coming to an end which is definitely breaking my heart. BUT I was texting with Mel yesterday and I was telling her how the kids are thriving, and how our staff is unbelievably incredible, and how when we are gone, the kids are still happy, joyful, eating, learning, living, and succeeding! There is such peace in that, knowing we don’t have to be here at all for things to be good with the kids. When Mel asked how I was, I explained it like this: I like my life in America, and I love my life here. Here is infinitely better, but there is home. So, yes, it feels like someone is suffocating me to the core of who I am when I think about leaving, but somehow at the same time I am breathing easy.
Sending my love from my far away home,