Days 4 to 7

Thursday morning most of our team left for safari.  There was great anticipation about the trip.  We were hopeful to see a great number of varied African wildlife species.  We were not disappointed!  We were divided into two vans and hit the road for an adventure.  After a long and dusty drive we arrived at Maasai Mara which contains the wildlife park we would explore.

During the first evening of our trek we spotted elephants, water buffalos, giraffes, impalas, dik diks, and zebras.  It was exciting to see how protective the mothers were of their young.  We were thrilled to have seen so many different species although we saw only a few of each type—we had no idea what was in store for day two.

Day two yielded close encounters with lions and cheetahs in addition to great numbers of the animals we had seen the day before.  Shortly after observing a pride of lions eating a wildebeest, we each had a chance to “mark” the Serengeti ourselves…

On the final day of our safari we were hoping to see a “kill.”  That was not to be, however, we did see some interesting species of birds and a few giraffe.  Later that day we visited a Maasai village.  Traditional dancers greeted us upon our arrival.  Villagers showed us how to make fire, told us some of their traditions, and welcomed us into their homes (which are constructed entirely from sticks, dirt, and cow dung).

Our accommodations during the safari were rustic.  After a few quick repairs to fix the leaks created by some rogue monkeys and removing the giant slugs from the floor and walls we felt at home.

On the journey home we reflected on the good time had by all!  We felt fortunate that none of our team were lost to falls out the van windows (Jana) or accidentally luring in a lion with beef jerky or peanut butter (Ashur/Josh).

Three members of the team stayed behind at Huruma.  We had an amazing time getting to know the children better.  The first morning we had the pleasure of accompanying class 2 on a field trip to the Giraffe Centre.  The children delighted in feeding the giraffes and watching Iris giving one of them (the giraffes, that is) a kiss.  The day was made even more special when each of the children had their face painted and was treated to sugar cane on the ride home.  Their sweet voices sang “Jesus, You are a Winner” and “We are the World.”  It was absolutely precious!

We spent that evening with Emma, a long term volunteer from Canada, who was leaving the next day.  Seeing Emma prepare to leave made us keenly aware of how little time we really have left to spend with the children and to impact their lives and the lives of their teachers who we came to serve.  On Friday, when it was time for Emma to leave, our hearts broke for her and for the two little boys who had become most attached to her in the seven weeks she lived at Huruma.

Friday evening, the kids worshipped Jesus with singing and dancing.  It was awe inspiring to watch the way they can move and the joy on their faces while they danced and sang.  After a couple of hours, the younger children went to bed and left the upper primary and high school kids to hang out.  A lively debate, cleverly disguised as an opportunity to share favorite Bible characters, ensued.  It was both entertaining and enlightening.   The Kenyan constitution was recently amended to establish greater equality between men and women, however, culturally, women are still considered inferior.  The bright, well-spoken, and sassy females at Huruma aim to change that belief!

Saturday means a half-day of school for the students at Huruma.  They are preparing for national examinations in November so the teaching staff requires even more from the children in terms of time and effort toward their studies.  Upper primary and high school students wake at 3:45 am to get in an hour of study before they prepare themselves for the day.  Our American children would be shocked at the high demands made on their Kenyan peers.

Anticipation was high Saturday afternoon.  The children and staff were all excited for the return of our team from safari and the arrival of the second Cornerstone team.  Worship Saturday evening was especially spirited.  Our entire team joined the children for three hours of Jesus-inspired Zumba!  We attempted to learn their dances but quickly realized that God has gifted them with moves that we will likely never master.

Everyone was too excited to sleep because the July VBS team was expected to arrive around 11pm.  When their bus pulled in children shouted and ran to meet them.  “Pastor Tim, Pastor Tim” was enthusiastically chanted while we waited for the bus doors to open.  A number of the team members were returning for a second time so it was poignant to see them reunited with children they’d fallen in love with on previous trips.

Day seven began with Sunday morning church services.  Sara and Christy attended the intercessory prayer meeting.  The presence of the Holy Spirit there was extremely evident.  The two dozen or so teenagers sang together and then one by one began to pray fervently, earnestly, and unashamedly.  We have never experienced anything like it before.  We honestly felt we were treading on Holy ground.

In the main church service, Pastor Jo Jo followed up the beautiful, moving music with a message on pain and forgiveness that touched all of our hearts.  Many of the kids were obviously touched as well.  Mama shared her heart and the pain she feels when one of the children she has loved and cared for turns his back on her.  It was heartbreaking to see this strong, woman of God weeping over her pain while simultaneously thanking God for Roberta and Mama Lisa whom God has given her to confide in and share her burdens.

Sunday afternoon was spent organizing and planning for the week and spending time and/or playing with the children.  They are quick to laugh and love to be hugged and kissed.  A smile from one of us means so much to these children! You can watch them look around the room for the person (or persons) they have made a connection with.  In one short week we have forged relationships that we pray will last a lifetime.

At bedtime, the women from our team hosted a “slumber party.”  We crammed dozens of girls into one of their rooms and played silly games like butt-spelling, performed puppet shows, did the hokey pokey, and sang a sweet version of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”  Laughter filled the room.  It was a blessing to see a smile on every face.

Day 1-2: Pictures, Hugs, and New friendships

June 29th- June 30th: Sorry for the delay. Wi-Fi chooses who it is going to like each day. Well, after 23 hours of interesting sleeping positions, loopy episodes during non-sleeping periods, fascinating plane meals, and practically running through the Paris airport, WE MADE IT TO KENYA!! We retrieved our mound of luggage and were greeted by the bright smiles of Mama and Lisa Winters along with helping hands of some guys from the home. Starting off our trip with a prayer in the middle of the parking lot, we praised God for bringing us here  and prayed that His love would shine through us. We made the trek through the town and the hills arriving at the Huruma Children’s Home. We were greeted by the beaming faces of all the kids awaiting our return. They yelled in excitement and jumped up and down adding to our happiness. Honestly, I think we were even more excited to see them! We piled off the bus and started receiving and giving out hugs to everyone around us. Just seeing the kids for the first time was unreal. I think we had all dreamed about that moment for the longest time but all our dreams were exceeded in the actual moment. Each one of us had a giant smile on our face. The air was cool which was refreshing considering we were escaping 118 degree weather back home! The kids were wrapped in blankets but you could still see each one of their beautiful faces. Our bags were brought in, we settled in after some time, and tried to go to sleep. This morning, we had the best surprise given to us: the voices of the 180 children as they praised the LORD as passionately as they could. We first grabbed some food, and then got ready in our nice chapel clothes. Armed with our cameras and bibles, we stepped outside into the chilly morning air. Some kids wandered through and we immediately started talking, getting pictures,and pampering these kids with love. Putting a smile on one of their faces is the best reward there is. Chapel was absolutely incredible. The love of God was so evident as they cried out to God in worship. Then, we had a little fun and danced to some Swahili praise music. They loved to dance so we were having the time of a lifetime! All of us were in awe of just the passion and genuine love of God for some kids worshiping. Pastor Jo-Jo spoke a powerful message about facing our pain. At the end, everyone was touched. Tears streamed down their brown little faces. It was so convicting. It made us realize these kids’ stories are ones of hurt and abandonment and this broke our hearts. Mama got emotional as well and we had a powerful prayer session. Following chapel, we hugged all the kids as they left and went to free time. Soccer. Basketball. Frisbee. Circle story time. Slides. Talking. We just got to hang out with the kids. Conversations sprouted and we learned about some kids. Our hearts were connected. After dinner, we went to worship with the kids in  which they sang again. There is no limit to worship over here at the home. Praising God is such a big priority. God is so present in the lives of these children even if their life is so much harder than it should ever have to be. We got to play with the high school guys for a bit and then we piled into the girls dorm for girl time. Girl time was so fun!!! We did skits, games, improv, and story time! The kids laughed which was all we aimed to do. Thank God for these kids. Praise God for Mama and her special heart. Thank you God for allowing us to show your love to these kids who barely know what love is other than Mama’s love she has shown. Thank you God for each morning that will follow with these kids. Praise your matchless and glorious name. Praise the LORD. Amen.

Day 3

The day started with Josh Marquez-Wells leading chapel for the High School children, while we were with the other children. He spoke on purity, identity, and forgiveness. It was so powerful that he was asked to speak twice more in the upcoming week. His impact on the High School children was obvious through the connection that he had though his sharing his honest testimony.

The morning was divided into small groups, some going to the HIV clinic for well checks, and others doing classroom observations and teaching. Later, we prepared and hosted the teacher luncheon.  Roberta, Sara, and Iris went to the HIV clinic, however not enough of the vans were operable to take the 22 students, instead they rescheduled the appointment, but returned with enough medication to last until Monday. Amazingly, the test results from the last appointment showed that for 17 of the children, HIV was undetectable. Please continue to pray for all of these children as they continue to receive medication and care here at Huruma.

The classroom observations continue to reflect how amazing these teachers are and how respectfully the children behave, and how eager they are to learn. Some of us took over the class and taught, as we realized that several rooms had teachers absent for the period, yet the children were quietly studying and working out of their books.   We are truly blessed to know that they are opening their classrooms to us.

In the afternoon, we hosted a luncheon for the teachers and the support staff consisting of a party of forty-five. They enjoyed grilled chicken quarters and “chips” with cookies and reese’s pieces, which most of them had never had before! This gave us time to connect and laugh with the teachers. They truly enjoyed the goodie bags of post-its, hand sanitizer, chapstick, keychain, measuring tape and highlighter pen. The male teachers thought that the chapstick was lipstick and found it humorous to see each other apply it. They then went around measuring each others heads, neck, height, etc. We truly did appreciate this rare opportunity with them.

Again, we ended the night worshipping with the children and showing Iris’s video of Huruma from last year. The kids were excited to see their faces on the TV.

Finally we had the chance to build one on one relationships with the children in their dorm rooms by painting their nails, listening to music, singing, looking at pictures, and talking. We are truly amazed at how loving these children are and the bonds that we are creating one smile, one hug at a time.

14 missionaries + 180 orphans = Blissful Joy

Tomorrow we leave for safari, more updates when we return!

On our way…almost!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”  Isaiah 6:8

In just a few days, we will be Kenya bound!  We are all so excited about this experience.  As we travel to Huruma Children’s Home, we ask for your prayers during our time in Kenya and for traveling graces.  Thank you to all you who have supported us in this venture.  You can follow us on this blog as we continue to share our journey with you.

Peace and blessings!

Day 2 continued

After lunch the teaching supplies were sorted, organized, and we started getting ready for our professional development that we will be leading next week. Carol, Lyndi, Kari, Jana, Amber, Kim and Dawn (the educators in the bunch) created goodie bags for the teachers tomorrow. We are excited to spoil them and give them goodies for the first annual Huruma Teachers’ Conference. Some of us went outside and hung out with the children. We passed out finger puppets that we had purchased at Ikea, and even the older boys, not just the younger kids, enjoyed them. They immediately started putting on finger plays and of course, the puppets had to kiss!

Many of us went out and “hung out” with the kids in the afternoon, took lots of photos, and just enjoyed our time with the children.

Dinner was chicken and mashed potatoes, but in most cases, we all just ate potatoes! Chicken was a little chewy! 🙂 

Immediately following dinner we headed over to the chapel where the 185+ students were singing praise and worship songs! We all joined in and felt so moved by the Holy Spirit in that place! To watch the children truly praise during singing and worshiping is incredibly moving. About 30 children, called the “Gospel Dancers” got up and performed for all us in chapel. The music they dance to is comparable to our pop music, but it is performed by an African Gospel “pop music” singer. (video to uploaded soon) My oh my…those kids can move, shake and dance! They have moves that would be impossible for us to repeat. They are born with “the dancing gene”! 

We then went and hung out in the dorms for the hour before their bedtime. Faith, who is in Form 4 (a senior in high school) asked Sara, “Are all whites so humble?” Sara explained that we are no different than the Kenyans that love Jesus. There are people that are humble and not humble all over. Our color doesn’t have anything to do with it. What we have in common is that we all love Jesus.

In another room, Keelan taught “Tiny Tim” to a group of 20 girls aged 7 to 12 years old. They were curious about her brothers and wanted to know if they like girls! 

We all headed back to our dorms and got ready to bed, but not before team devotionals and sharing by all.

Until tomorrow…which is our lunch with the teachers, please continue to keep us in your prayers.

Lalasalama (Good Night’s rest in Swahili)

 

Day 2

Up early before the sun – awakened by both roosters and voices of 185 children singing in worship. After getting ready, we went to the morning worship. There were a lot of tears and emotions-especially during Redman’s 10,000 Reasons.

There is one word we can use to describe the worship: Awesome. Not awesome like “dude, that shirt is awesome!” but awesome as in something that inspires ‘awe.’ The voices of the children rang throughout Huruma, being heard by all.

Mama was teaching out of Mark. She discussed ‘having it all’ in terms of worldly possessions, yet losing your soul. She showed a clip of a famous Kenyan politician  who ‘had it all’ yet died abruptly while attempting to escape authorities.

Once this was completed, we were able to meet everyone who keeps Huruma working: teachers, cooks, counselors, dorm mothers, and of course Mama.

We divided ourselves up and off we went into the classrooms! We were able to observe a couple of classes each in order to take notes on how school was done here. Some of us even had a chance to teach the class! Dawn observed a class that did not have a teacher, nor sub, so she ended up teaching that class for the day.

The first thing that blew all of us away is the amount of respect and self-discipline that the students showed. It was amazing. Nay, not amazing, stupefying.

All this, and it’s barely past lunchtime here.

Day 1: Arrival

Roughly twenty-nine hours of travel time later, exhaustion was evident within our group, but it wasn’t until we were greeted by a crowd of cheering faces that made all of this anticipation come to life. As soon as our bus pulled in, their faces lightened, and little bodies jumping up and down swarmed the vehicle. After unpacking and attempting to unpack our belongings, we were given a tour of the orphanage by Mama and picked up a few kids along the way. We were introduced to the entire Huruma team: teachers, cooks, security, house moms and dear friends who have supported Mama along the way. Mid afternoon included a trip to town with a market run, some last minute Malaria meds, and Lisa showed us the ropes as far as venturing into the open air market in the Ngong Hills. Once we returned to the home, the night was concluded with a lovely Kenyan dinner prepared for us. We reminisced over adventures thus far with the children, even in a day’s time. A surprise visit from the Vice Principal of the school led to discussion about the work prepared for all the teachers, with excitement for tomorrow. On that note, we were all very ready for tomorrow, meaning sleep – a full night’s worth of sleep.