Sunday, 5 August 2012

Little Baba Jeff

Thomas Baraka.  Tommy.  Little Baba Jeff.

Tommy is a bright, funny yet serious, boy who has been with us since March, 2007.  He joined our family when he was only 4 days old and was our 14th child.  Tommy was named after a very special man, a Kenyan missionary who welcomed us and helped us and encouraged us from the day we set foot in Kenya!  RIP, Thomas Makhoka.  

Tommy has always been a super kid, mostly just going with the flow and keeping out of trouble.  We used to call him Professor because at a very early age, he could mimic anything you said!  It was hilarious!  He loves school (he’s in Madam Beth Ann’s class) and does well academically.  He is also a fast runner (maybe he’ll someday represent Kenya in the Olympics)!   So, why have I chosen Tommy as the subject of this blog?

Recently…..maybe two months ago….Tommy suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, attached himself to Baba Jeff!  It all started one day when he told Baba Jeff that he wanted to go see the clinic (which is under construction and scheduled to open, hopefully, the first of next year).  Since Jeff had been thinking that he needed to go check out the construction progress anyway, he nonchalantly agreed and he and Tom walked down to the construction site and checked it out.

That was it!  That’s all it took!  From that moment, Tommy has attached himself to Baba Jeff at any opportunity!  He carries around a 500 liter, plastic Coke bottle filled with water (a smaller version of the one Baba Jeff carries around, full of Crystal Lite drink).  He never misses a chance to tell someone, “This is my water bottle.  It’s just like Baba Jeff’s”

When Jeff isn’t home, Tommy just goes back to his normal blending in.  But when Jeff is home, Tom knows exactly where he is at all times, and waits for his opportunity to slip away from auntie and join his idol!  If Jeff is in the kitchen, Tommy sneaks in there and makes himself busy sweeping or helping stir the zucchini bread that Jeff is making, or whatever!  Anything to be with Baba Jeff!

If Baba Jeff is washing the cars, so is Tommy.

If Baba Jeff is walking the shamba to check on the crops, Tommy is right behind him, hands shoved in his pockets (just like Jeff), doing his best “Baba Jeff impression”!

The other day, Jeff was working on an outside project and Tommy was with him.  I needed to ask Jeff a question, so I went out and interrupted his work.  As he was answering my question, he leaned against the wooden fence on one elbow, his other hand in his pocket.  It was all I could to not burst into laughter when Tommy did the same!

The best part is that Tom quickly figured out that if he wants to really be a little Baba Jeff, he needs to speak English!  It’s amazing how quickly he is mastering it!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that when one of our visitors asked Tommy his name, he quickly and proudly responded, “Little Baba Jeff”! 


Tuesday, 3 July 2012


Hey everybody!

I want to introduce you to two very special boys, Anthony and Joel!  These boys spend almost every waking moment together because their needs are very similar due to the fact that they both have Cerebral Palsy.  They just happen to be about the same age and we lovingly refer to them as "the boys" most of the time.

Up until now, the boys have spent most of the day just lying on their backs on the mattress with the babies.  A few times per day they were held to be fed.  A few times per day they were exercised and played with.  A few times per day they were rolled over on their stomachs for a change of scenery and position.  But most of the day, they were just lying on their backs, side by side, and pretty much cared for like the small babies.  This has bothered us for a long time and we have tried to make some changes here and there, but we just weren't set up for it until now!

The boys now have their own wheel chairs!  This has totally changed their lives and vastly improved their quality of life!  They now spend most of their day in an upright position, interacting as best they can with those around them!  They like to look out the window, watch TV, go for strolls (the big kids like to take turns pushing them around the compound so they can look at the flowers, dogs, cows, visit the girls in the kitchen, etc.), watch the other kids play and even attend church!

We are already seeing positive changes in the boys, I'm sure due to just being more active and engaged in what's going on around them.  Joel is actually trying to communicate!  Both of the boys have started making sounds and moving their arms and legs around to try to get your attention when you walk by and the fact that they are in a more upright position when they eat has greatly reduced the stomach problems they were having (it was not uncommon for them to vomit after being fed).  It's awesome!

Just thought I would share the joy!


Thursday, 21 June 2012

So Proud of Kelvin!

I am so proud of Kelvin!  We have been talking to our older kids lately about the right and wrong way of getting money, being good stewards with the little bit of money they get, not wasting their money on silly things like bubble gum and sweeties, etc.  So a few of the kids have been making and selling beads, doing extra chores, gathering empty plastic bottles to clean up and sell, etc.  Still, most of the time, they end up spending the 10/ksh (or whatever small amount they got) on bubble gum or sugar cane instead of saving it up to use it wisely.

Before I tell you why we are so proud of Kelvin, let me remind you a little bit of his background.  Kelvin is about 12 years old and has been with us since he was seven.  When he was placed with us, he had endured terrible beatings and various sorts of torture his entire life.  He had (has) scars all over his head from being beaten (cut with) a machete, along with lots of other scars all over his body.  Sometime along the way, his arm had been broken and never treated, so it was crooked and hung awkwardly by his side.  He was an angry boy, which was totally understandable, but we really didn’t know how to deal with him at first.  He’s the only kid that I actually (for a short time) regretted taking in!  We just didn’t know how to help him!  In the end, all we really did was love him and assure him that he was safe.  I don’t think he totally believed us until the day he was committed to the home by the courts.  From that time on, he has become more and more soft and sensitive!  He loves the babies and is really good with them!  He’s quiet and a little bit of a loner, but is really a sweet kid now days!

A few weeks ago, Kelvin came to me and said, “Mama Carla, I have saved 150/ksh and would like to buy a rabbit.”

“Why do you want a rabbit?”

“So she can have babies and I can sell them.”

“Wow!  That’s a great idea!  Sounds like a super good use of your money!  The only problem is that we don’t have anywhere for the rabbit to live!  So, before you buy a rabbit, we need to build it a house.”


I guess Kelvin knew that it wasn’t likely that building a rabbit hutch would be at the top of our priority list, so he set out to do it himself!  He gathered up a bunch of scrap wood and some nails and got started!  Adam (an awesome young man who is here doing building type stuff), took pity on Kelvin and decided to help him out!  The cool thing is that Adam didn’t help Kelvin by doing it for him!  He made Kelvin do the planning as well as the actual building of the hutch!  Adam helped him think through the building process, step by step, but Kelvin did it all by himself!  For about two weeks, every spare minute Kelvin could find; before school, lunch hour, after school, all day Saturdays and after church on Sundays, he was out there working on his project!  He was totally determined and focused and he finally got it done!  I have to say we were all very impressed!

The same day he drove the last nail, he got his female rabbit!  He still spends every spare minute at the rabbit hutch; feeding the rabbit, cleaning out its “room”, etc.!  He’s now begging for extra chores so he can buy a male rabbit too!

What a great kid!  My prayer is that this experience will give him the confidence to know that with hard work and perseverance, he can accomplish more than he ever dreamed!


Saturday, 24 March 2012

Sheri and Paul

Yesterday, I got a call from the Children’s Office to come pick up a pair of siblings.  I was told that one of them was four years old.  I assumed (very dumb of me) that the children’s officer was telling me that because we normally don’t take kids over the age of three unless it is a situation of not wanting to separate siblings, one being an infant.  She told me that the kids were in a very terrible state and that I should just come to the office so she could explain the situation to me.  I think she knew that if I saw these kids, I would not be able to turn my back on them…. she was right.

It turned out that the four year old, Paul, was actually the youngest.  His sister, Sheri, is six.  They are both suffering from EXTREME malnutrition; Paul weighs barely 23 pounds and Sheri weighs 29 pounds.  My first thought when I laid eyes on them was, “How could anybody let it get to this point.  They look like their knees are just going to buckle right out from under them!  Why weren’t the authorities notified sooner?”  I wasn’t prepared for the answer.

Nine months ago, both of their parents (a pastor and his wife) were imprisoned for planning and carrying out the brutal murder of the wife’s mother.  When this happened, all of the children’s relatives and tribesmen turned their backs on the kids because they were considered to be an abomination or a curse because of what their parents had done.  Unbelievable!  Incomprehensible!  Totally inexcusable…. except that here, it is totally excused.  It’s just the way it is!

There were a few neighbors who would toss them a morsel here and there.  Other than that, they were on their own.  Finally, somebody anonymously reported the situation to the police and the courts ordered that the children would be placed with us.

The sadness on their faces is downright disturbing.  Malnutrition has taken their strength, but malnutrition can be overcome with a little food.  Personally, I think malnutrition, while being the immediate physical need, is not their greatest need.  The emotional malnutrition must run deep…maybe even there permanently!  In one day, they lost their parents to prison.  They lost their grandmother to the actions of their parents.  They lost their status (children of the pastor) in their community.  They lost every relative and tribesman that they had been associated with their whole lives.  They lost their day to day sustenance. All they had left was their will to survive!  I still can’t get my head around it!  Here are two kids who have probably never in their lives seen a white person… yet when a couple of them show up and promise that if you go with them, they will give you food, they just get in the car without a moment’s hesitation!  That is straight up survival mode!

They’ve been with us now for about 30 hours.  They eat and sleep and try to take in their new surroundings.  They’re not very active…. probably a combination of being physically weak and emotionally overwhelmed.  They haven’t cried at all.  They just eat when food is put in front of them, sleep when they’re put in bed and answer questions (usually with one word answers) if anybody asks.  They are, however, very receptive to love and attention.  They both like it when someone holds their hand or lets them sit on their lap.  They are obviously starved for physical touch and find some comfort in it.  They haven’t smiled yet, but they will soon!  I can’t wait to see their beautiful smiles.  I am also looking forward to seeing a sparkle come into their dull, sad, penetrating eyes!

I took them to the doctor for a check-up today and as we were waiting for lab results, I reached down for Paul’s tiny hand.  I brought it up to my mouth and kissed the palm of his hand several times.  He looked at me like he wanted to smile, but wasn’t quite ready to allow himself to.  He just kept looking at his palm and wiggling his fingers…it was like he could still feel my kiss in the palm of his hand.  After about 30 seconds, he reached his hand back up to my mouth and I repeated the process of filling it with kisses.  This went on for about 10 minutes.  He was willing to receive and even willing to ask for affection.  I think that’s a very good sign.

Sheri has stolen my heart.  She’s so wide eyed, constantly trying to take in everything around her.  I’m sure she’s trying to figure out how yesterday morning she had nothing…nobody except her equally helpless brother…no food…no love…no hope.  But now, only 30 hours later, she is surrounded by people who love her, people who are willing to take care of her.  She’s had a bath and more food than she’s probably eaten in the past couple of weeks combined.  She is accepted by the other kids and asked to play by the other girls her age.  I wonder if she understands what a miracle thing's for sure....I’m going to make sure she knows the Miracle Giver!


Thursday, 26 January 2012

Jambo! January 21, 2012

Jambo Everybody!
Wow!  2012!  We are back in the swing of the busyness of the children’s home!  It has been a crazy five weeks, but I think we are now in the groove!
As most of you know, we had only been back for 16 hours when our precious baby Cindy Lou passed away.  I can’t really remember how much I have previously shared with you about Cindy, so forgive me if I’m repeating myself.  Cindy was a sweet baby who had a rough time from day one.  She was very small and weak when she was abandoned at birth.  She struggled to breathe and to eat, because of a birth defect that affected her trachea.  You could hardly hear her tiny little cry, but her smile would brighten the room.  Basically, she needed 24/7 attention and care.  She slept in my or Meredith’s room and either Meredith, Hoglah (our social worker) or myself took care of her at all times.
Whenever we went to town, we took Cindy with us.  Because of this, Cindy Lou became known as the “Missionary Baby”!  When we would pull up to a gathering of any kind, all the missionary ladies would race out to meet us, trying to be the first one to lay claim to the right to hold Cindy.  (Of course, they also had to compete with little Claire Huffman, age two years, who referred to Cindy as “My Baby”.)  Needless to say, Cindy was very loved by many people.  I think of her and miss her every day!
The autopsy showed that Cindy Lou died of liver disease.  Her liver was enlarged to five times the normal size.  In the weeks before her death, she had suffered from malaria and pneumonia and had not responded to treatment, most likely because her liver was shutting down.  Ironically, her trachea had completely healed.
Throughout this heartbreaking tragedy, I could still see God’s hand in how it all happened, and I thank Him for his tenderness and compassion toward us!  When we arrived here at the home on the evening of December 17th, I was shocked to see how thin and inactive Cindy Lou was.  She was not the smiling, bright eyed baby we had left behind five weeks before.  Meredith gave me the update about all the doctors’ appointments, testing and medications that Cindy had been through over the past few weeks.  (Nobody knew that the liver wasn’t cooperating with the treatment and that’s why she wasn’t getting better.)
The next morning, I woke up at 4:00 AM, which isn’t unusual for me during those first few, jetlag days after traveling.  I woke up thinking about Cindy.  I wasn’t necessarily worried about her…. I just felt like being with her.  I got up and went out to the sitting room to find Auntie Rachel feeding her spinach (the doctor had “prescribed” spinach to be given several times a day because blood work had shown anemia).  She was eating well.  When she saw me, she pushed the spoon away and started jibber-jabbering and smiling.  The aunties were laughing and saying that was the most active she had been in a couple of weeks!  They said she was obviously happy that “her mom” was home and now she would be ok.  I told Rachel to finish feeding her, then I would come get her.
At 5:00, I went back out and got her.  I held her in my arms the whole morning…. like I said before, I just wanted to be with her!  We had coffee and visited with the Kisers (who were getting ready to head home later that day) and the Stewarts and Beth Ann.  We were just catching up on all that had gone on while we were away.  At about 10:00, Meredith and I were standing in the hall talking and I looked down at Cindy Lou, who was still in my arms.  She was gone.  She had just slipped away.  Our sweet, precious Cindy Lou….
I praise God for giving me that last little bit of time with her!   We laid her tiny body to rest under the big tree, saying goodbye with songs led by her many brothers and sisters and encouraging words from Pastor Sam and Pastor George.  Goodbye, sweet baby….
One week later was Christmas Day!  What a happy day it was!  What a true celebration of the birth of our Savior!  You know, I love going home for Christmas because of the special times with family… but I must admit, I love Christmas in Kenya too!  It’s so simple and joyful!  We don’t exchange gifts or go crazy with tons of commitments and engagements and parties.  We simply celebrate Jesus and thank him for our many blessings!
We started the day with a trip to the dump…. not your normal Christmas morning festivities, I know!  There is a family (parents with five kids) who manage the landfill.  They are desperately poor!  Many of their family’s possessions are things that others have thrown away.  (I recognized several items around their place as things that used to be at my place.)  Jeff and I, Sean, Meredith and Beth Ann, went with our twelve oldest kids to take Christmas blessings to this family, who has always been so kind and helpful to us when we make our frequent “diaper runs” to the dump.  We took blankets, clothes, a cooking pot, a chai flask, toys, beans, rice, sugar, tea leaves, chapati flour, cooking fat, etc.  The family was so overwhelmed and thankful!  We were so blessed with the opportunity of blessing a family who has absolutely nothing!  I think it was good for our kids to participate in giving to others, instead of always being the recipients!  The tone for our Christmas Day was set: Appreciation for all that God has blessed us with and thankfulness for the opportunity to share our blessings with others!
After our trip to the dump, we hurried back home to get busy with all the Christmas feast preparation!
 Christmas Eve had been spent baking  and decorating about 400 sugar cookies!  (For those of you who know me well, you won’t be shocked to hear that Meredith headed up this huge task and I was very little help!)   Christmas Eve night, the cooks, Grace, Peter, Sharlyne and all the young men who stay here, went to bed early so they could get up at midnight and get started preparing chapati (kind of like a greasy tortilla) for our huge feast!  They made about 250 delicious chapatis!
Jeff and Sean BBQ’d about 35 pounds of beef and 15 chickens!  We made the biggest fresh fruit salad I’ve ever seen!  We also had potatoes and rice…. and of course, Jeff’s famous caramel corn!  Everyone ate to their hearts’ content and the whole day we thanked God for our many blessings and asked Him to remember those who were less fortunate.  It was an awesome (and delicious) day!
In addition to the wonderful food, the kids also enjoyed some new toys!  Some friends from home had sent us back to Kenya with handmade wooden cars (the perfect size for little hands), jump ropes, board games, balls, etc.  The toys were the icing on the cake!  What a perfect day!
We want to express our appreciation to Newmarket Alliance Church, who gave a generous Christmas offering, making it possible for the kids at In Step Children’s Home to have the merriest Christmas ever!
2011 was a good year!  We got some much needed policies and procedures put in place and made quite a few changes in our staff and their duties, etc.  It’s not that things were bad before, it’s just that we had grown so fast that the administrative part of the ministry needed to catch up!  I feel like we’re on a pretty good roll now….for a while, anyway!  LOL!
One major change during 2011 took place in our farm!  Early in the year, we were blessed with two greenhouses, complete with a drip irrigation system!  This addition, along with a few farming fiascos, led us to the decision of hiring a farm manager.  This has turned out to be a very good move!  James has done a fabulous job of raising food production, reducing waste (crops ending up being cow food because of neglect) and keeping the farm running smoothly!  He has also raised the moral of the farm staff by bringing an excitement and positive attitude to the place!  We are now, with the exception of maize, potatoes and onions, producing all our own vegetables!  For a place that uses more than 100 pounds of tomatoes per week, that’s saying something!
While this is all well and good….and definitely a major step toward self-sufficiency….we still have a long way to go before the farm is truly self-supporting.  The next step is to produce enough excess produce that can be sold to cover the costs of fertilizers, seeds, etc.  We are praying that God will provide additional greenhouses, which would make it possible to reach this goal!
Another addition to the farm is two new dairy cows!  These cows were a Christmas gift from Newmarket Alliance Church, the Stewarts’ home church, and we are so very grateful!  We now have four dairy cows, which should be able to supply our milk needs completely!  Before, when we were milking only two cows, we had to purchase additional milk to supplement what our cows were producing.  This was costing us about $200 per month!  We are hoping to now increase our herd each year, as these four mama cows have babies.  (Three of them are pregnant now!  We’re hoping they give birth to heifers, not bulls!)  Eventually, our milk production should be up to the point that the dairy farm will also be self-supporting!
I have so much to tell you, but this is getting long!  I’ll save the updates on the clinic, dorms, school, building teams, our trip home, my new kitchen,  etc. for another time.  Suffice it to say, there’s a lot going on all the time!  But GIGATT!   He is meeting our needs in His time!  We are learning to trust that, knowing that when it’s time, it will happen!   One example of this is reflected in His provision of more missionaries on the ground!  Jeff and I had come to the point where we were running ourselves ragged, trying to keep up with all that needed to be done around here!  The addition of the Stewarts full time and the Kisers part time, plus the Panzeros coming and going, has really taken the pressure off!  Don’t get me wrong…we’re still busy….but it’s a reasonable busy, not a spinning in circles, chasing your tail busy!
We have recently been blessed with another missionary, who has come to serve for six months (possibly longer) as a preschool teacher!  She has a challenging class of twenty-two kids who are 4 years old, or almost 4 years old!  I have been amazed at her organization and careful planning to provide a balanced learning environment, covering everything from learning letters and numbers and colors to activities which will develop their motor skills to creative problem solving lessons, etc.  The kids are responding well and are learning so fast!  And they love school!  On the few occasions that Beth Ann has had to cancel class for the day, her students cry to the aunties that they want to go to school!  LOL! 
Beth Ann is also an early riser, so has taken on the 5:30am responsibility of giving out diapers, etc. to the aunties and  food supplies to the cooks every morning!  This has taken a big load off of Jeff and Sean, who aren’t quite as eager to be up and around that early!
Ok.  I gotta stop!  Is anyone still with me?  This has turned into a very long update….and I still have so much to say….but I won’t!  For more regular updates on the day to day stuff, please friend me on Facebook!  It’s hard to find the time to sit down and write an update, so when I do finally get it done, it tends to be more logistical in nature….more of the big picture of what is going on in the ministry.  My Facebook updates tend to be more about the funny things kids say and do!  Another great thing about Facebook is the ability to post pictures and videos!  I know some of you (K) are still resistant to the social networking scene, but it truly is an easy way to keep up with what’s going on!
Oh…one more thing….some of you had expressed interest in helping with Lucy’s nursing school fees.  It’s time!  Please send your checks, designated to “Lucy”, to Rehema Ministries, 1117 3rd, Anacortes, WA 98221 as soon as possible!  There were enough of you who wanted to help this amazing young lady, that I think we almost have enough in pledges to get her through her first year (which all has to be paid upfront before she can start school in March).  If everyone who pledged to help her, plus a few more, actually follow through, Lucy’s life and that of her family, will be changed forever!  Also, please message me when you make a donation so I can track it and know when the money is all there!
Ok…gotta go!  We love you all so much and thank you for all you do for our kids!
Carla and Jeff

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


Beautiful little Esther joined our home yesterday!  As with most of our kids, she comes with a heartbreaking past, but can now look forward to a bright future!
Esther is two years old, but because of malnutrition and untreated TB and HIV, she’s the size of an 8 or 9 month old baby!  She has a beautiful smile, with perfectly straight, surprisingly white teeth.  (Many times, kids with malnutrition and/or HIV, don’t have very healthy teeth.)  She’s too weak to stand or even crawl.  But she can sit up, feed herself, drink from a cup and doesn’t miss a thing going on around her!  Even though she’s pretty quiet right now, I can tell that she has tons of personality ready to burst out of her when she gets a bit stronger and more comfortable in her new surroundings!
Esther’s mom died (probably of AIDS) in November of last year.  She had been in the hospital for some time, being cared for by her eight year old son, who was also taking care of his baby sister, Esther.  (Here, when you’re in the hospital, you also have to have a “caretaker” staying with you.  Her dedicated son took on that role!  Amazing!)  When she died, her young son walked all the way back to their village (about 20 miles), carrying his sister on his back, to tell his grandma that her daughter had died and to start his new life of caring for himself and his sister.  What a hero!  If it wasn’t for him, Esther never would have survived.
One year later, their condition had become so desperate, that a concerned villager reported their situation to the children’s department.  The children’s officer was shocked when he went to the village to investigate.  He knew he needed to rescue the children, now aged 9 and 2, immediately!  He drove them to Kitale and called us to come pick up Esther.  The boy was taken to a rescue center, hopefully temporarily, while the children’s office looks for a home to take him in permanently.  We are praying that he gets placed soon, as the rescue center is mostly former street boys (rough and tough), most of them older than this boy.  It’s not an environment that would be easy for a little boy from the village to thrive in.  We are also praying that he ends up being placed in a home where we can easily arrange for he and Esther to have regular visits and grow up knowing and loving each other! 
I know that many of you are thinking that we should just take the boy in also!  Don’t think for a minute that that thought hasn’t been spinning around and around in my head since yesterday!  But, we just can’t!  Our policies of only taking in babies are there for a reason!  We can’t risk the masses to save the one…. I know that sounds cold, but unfortunately it is the reality of our world!  (If anyone feels they need a more detailed explanation of our policy of only taking in babies, please feel free to inbox me.)
I didn’t set out to write a blog about Esther’s brother…. it just sort of turned out that way.  He’s the hero of this whole story!  He hasn’t even been to school because first he was taking care of his sick mother, then after she was gone, he took care of Esther!  What a special kid!
Esther is a special kid too!  She’s a fighter!  If she wasn’t, she wouldn’t have survived up to now!  Today, we took her to AMPATH (HIV AIDS clinic).  She will start antiretroviral medications in a few weeks.  First, she needs to get her strength up, take some antibiotics, eat a balanced diet, etc.  She will also start TB meds, which are hard on the body, but necessary for survival of the disease.  She’s got a long road ahead of her, but she’ll be ok!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


Jambo Everybody!
Today, I want to tell you about Lucy.
Lucy is a young lady whom we met several years ago…. must have been about 2007….  She comes from a VERY poor family of around eight people, who all live in a very small mud hut.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that this family has next to nothing!
We first heard about Lucy in early 2007, just a few months after she took her exams for her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education.  (This is an exam that every 8th grader in Kenya takes.  There is incredible pressure to do well, as your entire educational future depends solely on the score you get on this exam.  If you don’t do well, you will have to settle for a sub-standard high school or not go to high school at all.  If you do semi-well, you will be accepted into a mid-range school.  If you do really well, you will be invited to go to a top rated high school.)  As it turned out, Lucy scored number one in her district!  This is a huge honor and is printed in the national newspapers, etc.  It’s hard to explain to somebody who has never dealt with the Kenyan educational system, just what a big deal this was for Lucy!
As a reward for their accomplishments, the Kenyan government gives a full-ride high school scholarship to the number one KCPE scorer of each district in the country.  This meant that Lucy was suddenly invited to attend high school (free of charge) at one of the best schools in the country, which happened to be located in the capital city of Nairobi.
At the time, we didn’t live far from Lucy and her family.  We didn’t know them well, but it was very obvious that they were extremely poor.  When we heard that Lucy was number one, we asked a friend of ours if she was going to be able to take advantage of her reward of attending a top school.  He sent her to talk to us and we found out that there was no way her family would be able to afford to buy her a bus ticket to Nairobi.  She also couldn’t afford a uniform and shoes (she had never owned a pair of shoes in her life).  We told her that since her school fees (the main expense) would be paid by the government, we would commit to the incidentals of shoes, school supplies, personal effects (toothpaste, feminine products, etc) and bus fare.  Lucy couldn’t wipe the smile off her face!  She was so grateful!
That gratefulness continued over the next four years!   At the beginning of each term, she would show up at our house and let us know how school was going.  Jeff would buy her a bus ticket to get back to school after each term and a new pair of shoes at the beginning of each year.   She continued to do well in school and never asked us for anything beyond what we had committed to… this is a very big deal, by the way!  We probably spent about $100 per year to keep her in one of the best schools in the country!
We hadn’t heard from Lucy for almost a year, which wasn’t a surprise since her high school years had come to an end last November.  A few weeks ago, Jeff got a call from her.  She wanted to know if she could talk to us, so we met her in Kitale.
I’m telling you, I would not have recognized her!  Not because she looked much different, but because she has become such a confident, well spoken, charming young lady!  Gone is the young girl who was so shy she couldn’t bring herself to make eye contact when spoken to!  This new (grown up) Lucy knows what she wants and knows that, if given the opportunity, she can accomplish anything!  She was very articulate, yet unassuming, as she showed us her acceptance papers into NURSING SCHOOL!
This is an incredible opportunity for this young lady and her family!  Education is the ticket out of poverty, but most poverty stricken people never get an opportunity to obtain a good education.  Lucy has worked hard!  She has given it her all!  She has been determined to work her way out of the one room, mud hut she grew up in!  She is an amazing young lady who now has an excellent high school education, but is, for the time being, back in the mud hut waiting to see if God will open a door out.
I’m sure you’ve figured out why I am telling you about this young girl who isn’t one of our In Step kids.  I’m hoping and praying that one of you will feel led to help Lucy in her quest to break the chain of poverty in her family!  We don’t usually get involved in situations like this… everyone has their problems… everyone needs help… many are living in poverty generation after generation.  But this girl has proven herself!  She has not been willing to just accept her situation…. just accept that she will be in poverty all her life!  Even more impressive to me is that she has been willing to take the bull by the horns and go for it!  You don’t see that very often in the desperation of extreme poverty!
After Lucy showed us her acceptance papers and expressed to us her deep desire to become a nurse, we promised to look for a sponsor so she can continue her education.  We did not promise her that we would find one.  We simply promised to put the need out there… which is what I’m doing with this blog.  If you would like to help Lucy, please message or email me!  We are willing to handle the money, pay the school directly, track her progress, etc.
The papers show school fees of about $1000 per year, but we have learned from experience that there are always hidden costs!  One day last week, Jeff saw a group of nursing students who are doing their internships in Kitale, walking down the street toward the hospital.  He pulled over and asked if he could talk to them.  He asked them about the costs of living, books, etc.  As close as we can figure, the total cost for Lucy to attend nursing school would be about $2400 per year.  It is a four year course (3 ½ years in class and six months of internship).  She is supposed to report to school the beginning of March, 2012.
I’m not sure how this is all going to end up!  I’m just getting the word out there!  Maybe you want to pledge a certain amount toward her first year (please don’t send the money until I let you know that enough pledges have come in to cover the entire year).  Maybe you alone are able to cover the first year of this young girl’s college education!  Maybe you are willing to pray for God’s provision!  Whatever you are willing to do, thanks!
I don’t plan on normally using this blog for fund raising purposes.  But Lucy is an incredible young woman who has impressed us greatly over the past five years.  It would thrill us to death to see her have the opportunity to pursue her dreams and break the chain of poverty in her family!
Thanks, everybody!  GIGATT!