"How did our family get into the whole 'Kenya thing?'" I'm glad you asked!
The story has a long history. Way, way, way back when I was little, my heart strings were always struck so hard when I saw the starving, big-bellied kids on the TV screen, crying, flies in the eyes, people begging to sponsor those kids. For some reason, it just stuck. I guess you can believe that that was the start of my passion to create awareness and bring change to other countries.
In high school, I had this desire to puruse a career in the adoption field. I specifically had an interest in International adoption. As I moved into college and worked towards becoming a Social Worker, I became more interested in Child Welfare issues such as adoption, foster care, trauma, attachment, etc. During the summers, I worked at group homes in Minneapolis and by "chance" I worked at the group homes with Kenyans, also on staff. It was then I began to learn about Kenyan culture.
I also, by "chance" took an Anthropology class during college, as part of my liberal arts requirement, and it also happened to be about Kenya. There I learned in more detail about the demographics of Kenya, more about the culture, language,etc. It was overwhelming.
My junior year of college, I googled "African orphanage volunteers". The results were overwhelming. Pages and pages of need were before my on my computer. I just had to go. One organization in particular, Homeless Children's International, caught my attention. Building relationships with kids on the street and bringing into HCI's program to be in school, stay connected with their families and know about the love that Jesus has for them.
I was accepted.
I left. For three months.
Thankfully, at the last minute, a college friend of mine, Andy, asked if he could join me. In hindsight, this was one of the many ways I feel God put his hedge of protection around me that summer.
It was the best summer of my life. I rode public transportation with chickens and stranger's babies on my lap, I ate food that I had never experienced before, I shopped at local markets for food every day, I walked over a mile with children younger than 10 for water for the day. I nursed wounds and brought sick kids to the "hospital". I watched God's hand move in powerful ways. I saw joy in children's faces that had absolutely nothing.
I came home and was forever changed.
Then I met my husband!
My senior year of college, TJ and I started dating. It wasn't a healthy relationship to start. However, through God's grace, we fell in love and travelled to Kenya together the summer after I graduated from college-he had one more semester to go.
Together, we served with Homeless Children's International for 6 weeks. It changed our lives as a couple. We knew from that point on that we wanted to serve Kenya-from the US or in Africa.
Two children, a house, and a dog later, here we are.
Last fall, we travelled to Kitale, Kenya for 2 weeks. We met Bud and Kimberly Huffman. They started Mattaw Children's Village with the purpose to rescuse, rebuild and restore broken children who otherwise, have been left to die.
I cannot imagine the pain African mothers go through when they are left with a choice of which one of my children will eat today, and who will not.
Rocking babies that were abandoned by their mothers, thrown into pit latrines (public toilets), unwanted, or mothers who felt like they had no other choice rocked me to the core 9 months ago when we visited a baby rescue center in Kitale.
God wants us to be His hands and feet. It's not always easy, and not everyone is called to go and live in a 3rd world country. TJ and I would not be going unless we both felt like this was what we are called to do.
So, TJ and I wait. We are taking the next step to see where it leads. We sit in contentment knowing that God knows the path laid before us. If he calls us, then He, too, will prepare our children-which seems to be the most difficult dynamic at this time.
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