Sunday, August 26, 2012


Our trip to Kenya was truly amazing. One of the words we heard repeated by Julie Mendonsa, the wife of the orphanage's director, was that they wanted their teams to go home "wrecked" - meaning, personally affected by the poverty and need that exists in their area, in hopes that individuals will share what they've seen with others back home and personally become involved. This is exactly how I've felt: wrecked. Sitting on the dirty floor of the preschool in Lunga Lunga slums, with a child on each side and one in my lap, hearing them cough (probably TB), and hearing them laugh, and knowing that although this is no school like what our kids experience, it's a HUGE step up for these children, who might actually eat a decent meal that day because they were at school. And their moms...she may have stayed out of prostitution that week because she was able to to do honorable work during the day since there was a school to keep her little ones. It was so neat. The Kenyan pastor that established the school lives in the slums voluntarily and is truly pouring his life out for these people who have never know life outside of this smelly, filthy slum. He prays that God will use him to reach this younger generation of people to give them a vision for joy and life and freedom outside of the slums, so they can break out of the cycle that their families have been stuck in for generations.

IDP Camp

Seeing the IDP camp (Internally Displaced Persons) was fascinating. This group of hundreds of people walked around 400km from their hometown after the last presidential election in Kenya. The former president was of their ethnic tribe, but when the new president, of another tribe, came to power, their neighbors (of their president's tribe), turned on them and began doing malicious things, even murdering them. It was terrifying for them. (For example, Dorene, one of the orphanage workers, saw her husband die because everyone refused to sell him his diabetes medicine.) They left their property and homes to flee. And they ended up near the orphanage, right across the AIDS highway within walking distance. They lived in tents for a while, but an organization helped build houses for them. Most of them grow vegetables like corn, beans, and tomatoes on their little plots of land beside their houses. They are also raising chickens in a community chicken coop that Joseph built, a godly man that lives and leads among them. He aims to help them improve their community, find resourceful ways to earn money and get on their feet again. And some dear Kenyans named Issac and Esther Munji are working hard to establish a church nearby, called Rift Valley Fellowship, to reach out to this community of people. Almost all of them have endured tragic loss, and the Munji's want to listen to their stories, grieve with them, and help them find hope in the gospel. There are a few, very joyful, Christians in the camp that testify that God had them live so that they could share His love with others. Dorene, mentioned above, is one of them, giving every bit of food she has away to anyone from the camp that comes to ask for it. Oh, the joy and generosity of these people, who have NOTHING, but everything, because of Jesus.

Naomi's Village
And the orphanage...what a precious place. Anna and I feel like a piece of our heart is still missing. We want to go back! Every single one of the children came from a tragic situation, so they have a lot to deal with. But they seem to understand and appreciate being at the orphanage. They get great meals, daily baths, and the I was so encouraged to hear from the staff how much they enjoy their job, and how they see it as a special ministry that God has given them. So they are there for Him. Everyone who works at the orphanage, from the maintenance workers to the man out working the garden (yes, they grow their own vegetables!) to the house moms, engages the children in play and affection every day. And they truly love the kids.

There were other places we went, too, like Comfort the Children. One of CTC's goals is to help mothers of children with disabilities have work (there are NO programs for abnormal kids there, so they would usually be at home tucked away in a dark corner). But at CTC, there are women who can work with the children on development while their mothers sew. One huge project they were working on was sewing grocery bags. Whole Foods Market in the US actually ordered thousands of them. It was so neat.

Anna absolutely loved the trip. She adjusted beautifully. When I couldn't find her at the orphanage, I would look for her shoes beside the playroom or baby room, because she was often in one of those rooms hanging out with the babies or playing with the kids. She seems to have been tremendously impacted by the trip. My desire was that she would not be proud about having gone to Africa, but be significantly and spiritually affected by what she experienced and the people she met. This is such an answered prayer!

Now what?

Our hearts went out to the children, who have to see teams and workers come and go all the time. We are praying for them. And the workers at Naomi's Village. And also the others we've met. Most of all, we want to be faithful to live completely for Him. God was working there in Kenya! He was all over the orphanage, rescuing, redeeming, showing that He is able to take the ugliest of scenes and orchestrate something beautiful. He is working in Lunga Lunga slums, and at CTC, and in the IDP Camp, showing His love, mercy, and hope to people that are suffering. And I know that He was working in our hearts, too.

I don't know what, if anything, we are called to do about it at this point, except pray that God would help us be faithful. But I do know that He is not just a God of white people. He is the God of all nations and peoples, the One drawing people of all ethnicities to Himself, the God that is redeeming a people for His Name. That's the great God we experienced in Kenya! We want to be a part of His work!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mercy, again!

I almost blew it last week. We were standing in a long line for the ferris wheel at the Houston Rodeo. I told the kids they could go together to sit with Grandpa while I stood waiting, and Daniel said, "I want to keep you company." Ok, that's a nice gesture. I will let him.

So we stood there. I was sticky with goo from cotton candy and Dippin' Dots. I was a bit anxious (confessions) about how much (or lack thereof) money we had in our bank account after seeing the receipt from the ATM.

And Daniel was pulling on my shirt. With his sticky fingers. And I was annoyed. "Stop pulling on my shirt," I snapped.

And he kept trying to tell me something, only, he was whispering. At the Rodeo! I couldn't understand him. I told him several times, "You need to speak up." "You need to talk louder, I can't hear you." "Don't whisper; I can't hear you!" I was irritated.

Finally, I heard his sweet comment. "Mommy, when Jesus is in your heart, you always have company."

Ka-pow! The knife pierced through my hard heart and I was humbled. What if I had snapped and snatched away that priceless little thought from my sweet four-year-old? Oh, the mercy of God, that kept me at that moment from spoiling his God-ward thought. Oh, sweet Mercy, don't leave me in my sin. Grant that you would rest on me each moment, and save me from myself and my own wretchedness!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Precious Prayers

God has given me the opportunity to sponsor a couple of women through our church's Step study, which is a very intense 16-week study for people that want to get to the bottom of any kind of issue: abuse, divorce, addictions, hurts, depression, anger, discontentment, you name it. I met with one of my sponsee's today, and as we were finishing up, Daniel came in and wanted to talk (there's a big surprise). We were about to pray, and he piped up that he wanted to pray. So I granted his request, and he led out:

"Father God, thank you for taking away our dirty hearts and giving us clean hearts. And thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross. And thank you that He took the punishment that we deserved for our sin. Thank you for loving us."
I'm sure he's heard these prayers over and over in Little Village (and hopefully at God's grace!). What a joy to hear these words come from his little heart! He has the most earnest praises.

The other night he had the job of doing the "praise" prayer. (We often assign one child to one type of prayer - praise, thanks, confession, and request). He prayed quite earnestly, and when he stopped, he would start again as he would think of attributes to praise God for. "God thank you that you are so good. And thank you that you are so loving. And I praise you that you are so powerful, you can do anything. And you know everything. And you are wise."

And You reveal Yourself to little children. And that's our hope and prayer. That You would take these four little souls and reveal Your goodness and beauty to them, and give them Life.

More Laughs with the Dan Man

Daniel saw a friend of mine today, and she asked him for a hug.
"No, I'm not going to hug you," he told her.
"Why not? You hugged me last time I saw you. You gave me a big hug. Why don't you give me a big hug today?"
"I'm not going to hug you today," (with a big smile, of course).
I took the little guy gently and turned him to look me in the face, and tried to gently coax him into giving her a hug.
"No, I'm not going to hug her."
"Why not, Daniel?" I asked.
"Because I'm doing a pattern," he says.
"A pattern?"
"Yes. I hugged her last time. I'm not going to hug her today. Then, next time I see her, I'll hug her again. Then the next time I won't. It's a pattern."

We got a good laugh out of that one. Then he asked her what that line was on her chest. Cleavage! Funny boy. He keeps us laughing, for sure!

Go to the Ant (with guns?)

We've been working on memorizing some passages of scripture as a family, and we recently began working on Proverbs 6:6-11. Kris was helping out at church one evening while I was doing "Bible time" with the kids, and we thought it would be fun to make up motions to surprise him the next night. We had a blast.
The next night, we gathered around for Bible time and excitement built as we anticipated performing our motions for Daddy. When the time came, the three boys left the room.
Kris was baffled as to why they suddenly left, and one of them said he needed to get a gun.
"How could they possibly need a gun for their Bible verse?"
I sank a bit lower in my chair, looking guilty. "Actually, they kind of do need a gun. We made up motions. You'll see."

So we did them.
"Go to the ant, O sluggard; (Crawl fingers of one hand along the other hard, like a tiny ant, walking)
consider her ways, and be wise. (Stroke your beard)
Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, (Salute)
she prepares her bread in summer (Knead bread)
and gathers her food in harvest. (Gather food off the ground)
How long will you lie there, O sluggard? (Tap your watch)
When will you arise from your sleep? (Pretend to sleep)
A little sleep, a little slumber, (Continue to sleep)
a little folding of the hands to rest, (Fold hands/twiddle thumbs)
and poverty will come upon you like a robber, (Cry out in surprise)
and want like an armed man." (Aim your weapon of choice - they boys' favorite part!)

What a fun verse this was to memorize!

Symbolic Stones

Our journey to Coram Deo Academy takes us through a neighborhood, and last October on the way home from school, Thomas called my attention to a particular yard.

"Mom! Look! That's really neat!!"

"What do you see, Thomas?"

"Mommy, that person who owns that house put up the Ten Commandments in their yard!"



I'm glad that the things of God were on Thomas's mind, anyway! I think it's interesting that the Ten Commandments do loom large like tombstones in that they point out our complete inability to attain acceptance before God. No one in all the world, except Jesus Christ, has ever obeyed them perfectly. They are a bit symbolic of our doom, like tombstones, if we take Christ out of the picture.


These next few posts are several things I've been wanting to write down from the last few months...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Out of the mouths of babes...

The other day, Daniel repeatedly asked me if I would do something. I gave him an indefinite answer, not really wanted to commit myself. And he kept asking. And asking. So, I proceeded to give him a lesson on nagging, explaining that asking over and over wears people down, sometime makes them irritated, and then they really don't want to give you want you want. He was thoughtful for a moment, then he says, "God isn't like that."

Astonished, and wondering what his reasoning was, I asked him what he meant. He said something along the lines of, "If you ask and ask God, He listens and answers." I was shocked, and guilty, all at the same time. I am so thankful that the Lord helped him to understand his recent lesson about Hannah, who asked and asked for her precious son Samuel. God is so good to reveal His character and truth to the hearts of children!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Boats and Arrows

Thomas came home from Kindergarten last Wednesday with a mission: he had to build a boat. He first filled the sink and asked for the foil. He attached a sail with some tape. I handed him a plastic container when his foil idea foiled. I was busy about the house and heard some noises. I looked up about the time he asked me if I could position the box fan on the counter for him; he had retrieved it from the garage and placed it in front of the kitchen sink. Wind.

When I suggested he move his expedition to our master bath tub, he unplugged the fan and flew through the house. He spent literally hours last week designing and constructing sails and taping skewers for the masts. Then he would watch them sail in the bathtub in the wind. (Honey, sorry about the water bill...)

Then, Saturday, he asked if I had something sharp. Music to every mother's ears. Why? He wanted to make a bow and arrow, he said. I had the same wooden skewers that served as masts. Thomas like that idea! He found a stick outside, had Kris saw notches on each end, and strung a rubber band through the notches. He also requested that notches be cut on the ends of the skewer arrow to hold it on the bowstring. And lo and behold, it shoots! David and Daniel and our neighbor friend all have bows and arrows now, with the arrows color coated so they don't get them mixed up (all their idea). And they made a target out of a box. David can even make the skewers stick in the target. Fun fun!


I haven't blogged in a year and three months. We moved. Life happened. I just didn't do it. I keep thinking about this little space, wondering if I would ever use it again. And it's the fun things the kids do that makes me wish I would take a minute to document it.

I also feel a little self absorbed when I blog. Like I'm showing the world what my family is up to in a self-promoting way. I really don't want to be like that. I don't usually feel like other people do that. Anyway, I felt like I needed a little post in between June 2010 and today. So this is it. (Wow...this blog is interesting. Yawn.)