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.
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.
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!