Well, in case you didn’t know, Africa is very far away!! We flew 4 ½ hours to Washington D.C., 8 hours to Belgium, 12 ½ hours to Nairobi!!. With our layovers, we logged 32 hours of traveling!! Honestly, as EXHAUSTED as we all were, the traveling could not have got smoother for all of us. We had no significant delays, zero cancelled flights and most of us got to sit relatively close to each other (so we could complain about how tired we were J). It seemed like we got a second wind when we began to walk through the exit doors of the Nairobi terminal. We were met by Mama Zipporah (jumping up and down, clapping her hands in excitement), Mama Roberta (ecstatic to see us), Mama Lisa (teary eyed, she worked so hard at getting our sew team ready for travel) AND several Huruma kids with big smiles, hugs and beautiful roses for each of us!! What a beautiful Kenya Welcome!!
The children at Huruma are extremely friendly and always have a ‘hi” and “what’s your name?” for each of us. Their smiles, as you can see in pictures, radiate love. They are absolutely grateful for all that they have been given. And despite their difficult beginnings to life, they are so thankful to call Huruma their home. Huruma offers them love, a bed, food, clothing, education and the knowledge of God and His word. I’m amazed at the appreciation these kids have for what they’re given. Many of them share a twin bed, they don’t have nice clothes or shoes that fit (by America’s standards anyway), you can imagine their menu options are quite limited, and their dormitories are extremely crowded. Yet to them, Huruma is a safe haven and an answer to their prayers. Their gratefulness is never ending. They will thank you for just holding their hand or for showing them your family pictures on your phone. They soak up every moment with the volunteers. Today, I found little Elisabeth playing in a stairwell. She had her toys out, 6 Fanta bottle caps, 2 of them entirely rusted. We played ”flip the bottle cap with your finger and then cheer like crazy” game. She loved every minute of it and frankly so did I :). The hugs and smiles are endless here. We are floored by how bright these kids are. Many of them have moved far ahead in their classroom at school because of their intelligence and determination. Our entire team is in awe of the children. They are absolutely amazing. And beautiful. And have stolen our hearts.
The Sewing Program:
After breakfast, we were brought to the new sewing room. That was exciting! We arranged tables, chairs, supplies and their new sewing machines. With your donations we were able to buy 8 machines and our plan is get 7 more this week. Awesome! We were just half way through setting up our classroom, when children began to enter the doors and jumped at the chance to learn how to sew! Their excitement encouraged us. One of the teachers from Huruma is the new Sewing Program Director. She has background in Home Economics and even she was elated to learn! She had never sewed on an electric sewing machine before and she had the time of her life!! Chaos began to ensue though, as the classroom was buzzing with excitement, so we kindly locked up the room and invited others to come later for our class. Their excitement was such a huge encouragement to all of us, especially the teacher’s own excitement for her new found love of machinery :). We had prayed so much over this program, one of the things being that we plainly wanted the kids to have fun and enjoy this! Thank you Lord, they loved it.
Later after lunch, we gave 15 girls and their new director a two hour class on the basics of sewing. It went beautifully! We never imagined the students would pick up on things so fast. They learned all of the parts of their sewing machine, how to thread their top-thread and bobbin and then they spent some time practicing a straight stitch. We explained how this skill could be a fun hobby, a sustainable trade, and a means to raise money for Huruma. We showed them the projects they would be working on this week and how each project would have their very own “Huruma Family” woven label sewn into the seam. You should have seen their faces when we explained they could sell these items in the market to raise money for their home! Priceless. And when we showed them the drawstring backpack that they would be sewing, they were giddy! By the end of the class I can easily say they were eager and all of us on the sew team were deeply encouraged. Thank you Lord!
The Dance Party
After we ate dinner we were in for a dance party. And I mean DANCE PARTY. On Saturday nights they meet for prayers and then when the music starts, they dance like there is no tomorrow! It was a cross between the best Zumba class you could ever take and an African Bandstand. Those kids can MOVE!! We had a blast dancing in line with the older kids and holding hands with the little ones. Their music just rocks and I’m hoping to get their playlist :).
After dancing our tooshes off, we headed back to the dorm to reflect on our day. It was just wonderful. We shared what our expectations were as we came into the trip and how God surprised with so much more than we could ever imagine.
And my friends, was just Day 1. 🙂 For more pictures go to … http://leighsblankies.blogspot.com/2013/07/day-one-children-of-huruma-are-amazing.html
I think I can speak for our entire Sew Team that we all are BEYOND excited for this upcoming adventure to Kenya, the projects that await us at Huruma Children’s Home and to meet the sweet children that live there!!
God has shown His faithfulness throughout our preparations for our Sewing Team Project at Huruma. He has provided the hands to sew 90 bedspread-size Leigh’s Blankies and 60 curtain panels all for the new Huruma Girl’s Dormitory. He has provided money, through many of you, to fund the expenses of our travels and supplies. He has given us time and skills to organize an over seas sewing program that seemed beyond many of us. Our team is so grateful. We give glory to God for his faithfulness and we thank you for giving and working so hard to support our efforts!!
In the last 24 hours our team has exchanged many messages, texts, facebook posts and phone calls on Malaria pills, weights of suitcases, itineraries and CAN YOU BELIEVE IT’S ALMOST HERE!? Many of us leave behind families that we care for, jobs that can be demanding and people who will miss us greatly. It is overwhelming to think that most of us, if not all of us, will come back a completely changed person. Whether it’s a greater love for orphans, a stronger desire to make an impact on the world, or a better understanding of God’s purpose in our lives, I know we will be changed. It’s kind of like that feeling before you graduate from school, get married, or have children. You know a big change is coming, but what will it look like? We look forward to sharing this journey as we experience the children of Huruma Children’s Home and serve the community there .We hope you can follow our progress and that the Kenya wi-fi allows us to access our blog! 🙂
Well I haven’t been writing because of our work on VBS or should I say Superhero madness! We got into our costumes and ate breakfast! It was the breakfast of heroes! We then waited for the cue so that we could sneak across the path to the chapel where the kids were. We were so excited to see the kid’s faces. Then, as Brad announced each superhero, we walked in as heroically as possible. The kids were cheering for all of us. Then, came time for the Hulk a.k.a Tim to be announced. Well Tim acted out the Hulk perfectly and the kids especially the little ones were scared out of their wits. Some even started crying of fear. All of us high schoolers were laughing our heads off. It was so hilarious. We then started the “Dum Dum Dada” game which the kids got really into. The melodrama came next which acted out the story of Gideon. It was such a creative way of creating a perfect picture of Gideon. Then Alex had his message. He spoke well and the kids loved it. Games and everything else started to be set up while they divided up the kids. Rotations started and so did the fun. Every station was an adventure for the Kids and every group made the most of it. To see them make their capes (pillow cases) was cool because they individualized it for their personality. They made Spider-Man cookies. Then we played dizzy bat relay and also the clothes relay. They would take what we taught them and make it their own game. So we just let them play whatever they had invented. Then once finished we just had a bunch of free time with the kids before school. We deepened relationships with both young and old. Learning about and connecting with these kids is priceless. They impact us more than we impact them. The school went into session and we chose a place to go. Some went to gradeschool and some went to high school. But wherever we went we went in with an open mind and a eagerness to learn. The kids are so in love with learning, and I just had to be amazed at the passion these guys approach life with. It’s amazing to me. This culture is so intriguing but the people are just our brothers and sisters in Christ. So loving on them, it seems so easy. But one thing we talked about in devotions is taking risks and trusting in God’s plan. We need to trust in God’s guidance. We need to trust that He sees everything and we see only a piece of the puzzle. As the day went on and turned into the second day of VBS, we started to have our eyes opened. These kids are special. They believe so deeply that God loves them and they love and trust God with all of their hearts. The 2nd day of VBS talking about David and Jonathan. It definitely taught us something too. It taught us that relying on each other and God makes what we are trying to teach easier to portray. We got challenged to look beyond the kids that always get attention, and really connect with those who are alone. It is amazing what we shared at the end of the day. We shared about how caring these kids were. We shared about the results of risks taken for God. We share about some of the fears we had facing the situation and we shared about how to overcome them. Our barriers are being opened. Our hearts are being touched. God is working in the lives of everyone in Huruma. We are only his servants who are His hands and feet to reach out, and show his love.
Relationships. That is the reason the Lord has us here at Huruma. Each day, these kids draw us closer to them as we learn their hearts, deepest desires, struggles, needs, and things that make them laugh. It is so sweet.
We are in the middle of VBS and our teacher’s conference. A lot of preparation and thought has gone in to what we should share with the teachers. And we are very thankful for all of your prayers because so far the teachers have been very responsive and excited to try these new ideas we are presenting to them. Many have begun implementing strategies in the afternoon on the same day we have taught them! We are blessed by their excitement. Before the trip, I didn’t really consider the relationships that would be developed with the teachers. I expected it from the kids, but it has blown me away by the friendships and camaraderie that has been established with the teachers. As we love on them, they love on us and it is a beautiful thing! Today, we were challenged to a volleyball game. Tomorrow at 4pm, it will be Kenyan Teachers vs. American Teachers! We will share with you the outcome tomorrow.
This afternoon we had Awana. As soon as we arrived, it was clear the kids wanted us to participate in the activities with them. Before we knew it, they had entered us into running contests and tug-o-war games. Nothing can describe the joy it is to be with them as they give glory to God through their activities, scripture memory and singing.
In the evening, we took in another night of incredible spirit-filled worship in both Swahili and English.
It has become our nightly routine to hangout out in the kids’ bedrooms. We climb on to the top bunk, three beds up, and listen to music, share pictures, play games, and most importantly, hear their hearts. The Lord is building up relationships and showing us His plan for having us here at Huruma! Please pray these relationships continue to build, that trust is established, and God is glorified!
Today was a busy day, as we started our first day of the teacher conference and VBS for the kids. We enjoyed getting to show the teachers here some of our tricks and watch them carry them over into their classrooms. The Kenyan teachers are so appreciative and we have enjoyed getting to spoil them a little. In Kenya, the teachers have very limited access to school supplies and it has been fun getting to bless them with pens, highlighters, sticky notes, and other fun things for their classrooms. It has been such a joy getting to bless others, since God has blessed us with so much!
VBS was also amazing and we enjoyed getting to help the children decorate pillowcases, make spiders out of cookies and twizzlers, and play crazy games. At the snack area, we watched the children lick their plates clean of any frosting and devour any extra crumbs their friends left behind. We take for granted our access to sweets in the U.S. Also, it was fun to see them act out some Bible stories during a melodrama. One of the kids who played Gideon was told to offer a sacrifice. We all thought he would just pretend, since we had no props, but instead he went out into the sea of kids and plucked up a small child from the audience. He then proceeded to place him on a table and turn him into a sacrifice. The creativity and artistry of these children amazes us daily!
We ended the day with an amazing time of worship with the children, which never ceases to bless our hearts. The kids here sing with so much emotion and passion that tears well up in your eyes each time you hear them. It was amazing to see one of the children who is deaf and cannot speak, raise up his arms and praise God! Each day is such a blessing here and we are always eager to see what each new day will bring. We are praying Day 2 of the teacher conference will be amazing and that we will know how to bridge the culture gap in order to support these teachers. Please pray that we will present everything in just the right way, so that the teachers will feel empowered with new ideas for their classrooms. Also, please continue to pray for our health, as we are all starting to feel the effects of little sleep. Lastly, just pray that God would use us mightily in these last few days in Kenya!
Up early (as usual)…chaos at breakfast with almost 30 of us around the table and trying to eat before chapel. Chapel was lead by a group of students called the “Gospel Dancers”. An hour of praise and worship is always invigorating early in the morning. Monday morning consisted of: working in the classrooms, preparing for VBS, yard work (even Mama Zipporah wielded the hedge trimmers and helped Joshua), Teacher Conference preparation, playing on the field with kids, taking pictures (ALWAYS taking photos!), teaching RED ROVER, DUCK DUCK GOOSE, WHO STOLE THE COOKIE FROM THE COOKIE JAR, naps, showers, and a day of shopping for Lisa (where she didn’t bring back one single thing!). Lunch consisted of sandwiches, and homemade guacamole! The guacamole our cooks made for us was the best ever! FYI…avocados are 22 shillings a piece (approx. 25 cents) and the avocados are HUGE…the size of a mango in the U.S. The cooks had to make 2 batches of guacamole due to the excessive consumption by all!
After lunch some napped, worked again in classes, played with kids, and pretty much the same as the morning. Dinner around 6 p.m. followed by worship and devotions was next. The older students stay in the main room for studying and completing homework. They have to be there until 9 p.m. (Side note: High School kids start their morning at 3:45 a.m. to study before breakfast. Singing begins at 5:30 a.m., followed by breakfast and then chapel at 7:15 a.m.) The highlight of the evening for ALL is going into the dorms and reading stories, singing songs, doing finger plays, dancing, and just sharing with the students in their rooms. 10 p.m. comes WAY too fast when they have to turn the lights out and go to bed.
We all come back to our dorms WIRED and wanting to share about our experiences such as “their stories” (the reasons that the students have ended up in Huruma). Their “stories” are so so sad and we have spent many of the evenings crying over the sad stories. Some stories are tragic, others are saddening, but they still have smiles on their faces. Huruma has given them hope, family, the story of Jesus and a safe place to live.
You can also visit KENYA JULY ’13 to read more about the VBS and the high school groups’ experiences.