Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Phase 2 begins!

Our family has officially entered into Phase 2 of transitioning to Kenya. Last weekend we moved out of the temporary house we were living in for the month of August and are now living in Minneapolis to spend this last month with family.

3 kids. 5 hours. 14 million pounds of luggage in a mini van packed to the ceiling....I'm just glad we made it! The kids were awesome and were rewarded with a big ice cream cone today for their awesomeness.

My husband is staying back home for a couple of weeks to finish up work. He will join us later this month.

We have so much to be grateful for today. Our kids are healthy and have seemed to transition well into this phase. Now, if only I could get my poop in a group and finish my 'to do' list, I'll be good.

Big changes are underway for my blog. I won't share specifics, but I hope you like it. I really want a place where people can come and see what life in Kenya is like as well as look into the world of orphan care-and feel compelled to act.

For now, this is our crazy life and it's crazy uncomfortable but we're happy and at peace completely knowing that this is where we are supposed to be.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Oh, Benjamin

"My favorite thing about going to Kenya, Mama, is getting to teach all my new friends my favorite sport". ~Ben

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Phase I almost complete!

Tonight, I sit here with 10 days left of our "Phase I". So much has happened in this phase. I feel like the closer we get, the more walls are put up to break through.

I say, bring it on, baby.

This month, the day after we rented out house and moved into our temporary location, the donor completely pulled out. I had to go through raw emotion of grief that week to process the "whys" and "hows" and even "if this is the closing door to this chapter of our lives, then we will still be okay, right".

It was tough. But this wasn't a surprise to God. He has provided over and over again in these last 20 days. Let it be a testimony to how much God cares and watches over us NO MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES.

I had the chance to attend the Global Leadership Summit and soak in tools that will benefit Mattaw when we get out there. I purchased the MP3 files so TJ could listen and study as well as to the Huffmans if they are interested in learning more. It was good stuff covering how to lead well and building an organization.

Also this month we had our plane tickets donated to us by some fabulous folks. We fly out of Minneapolis on October 4th. Booking these tickets definitely made us take a step back and say "whoa, this is really happening". YESS!

God always takes our valleys and turns them into good. Because of the lost donor, we were able to gain access to an awesome media outlet, The Christopher Gabriel Program, and speak about the vision of Mattaw and speak about the need for a new donor. As a result, we have had several positive prospects approach us and when the time is right, I will share more about this. But nonetheless, God is in this. I just know that a lot of the trials we have faced this month is preparing us for the journey ahead.

Though our year in Kenya may look a bit different than expected, we are confident that this was not an accident.

There is still an awesome opportunity to partner with us in building Sprouts Baby Home. If you are interested in partnering with us, feel free to email me at mattawsprouts (at) yahoo (dot) com for opportunities available.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Green isn't just for hippies....

This year has been monumental for me. Not just in the moving overseas-kind of way.
I've started to look at ways that I can be more responsible in how I shop, eat and clean.

As the "being green" movement was becoming a trend, I was intimidated by it.
It seemed so.....hippie.

I was uncomfortable.

But, I started having conversations with moms about making small changes in our lives rather than a complete overhaul.

So, I have started slowly. Using paper or reusable bags rather than plastic when I grocery shop.

Simple. Even my kids got involved and would SCOLD me when I forgot my bags (those darn first born kids) at home.

I started to understand more about buying local and why it was so important, when possible, to shop local brands and farmers markets. Instead of ordering online, I've tried to make an effort to support the small guy, even if it cost a bit more.


I was challenged a little deeper last winter.

My son was going through some health issues and I was feeling helpless. My pediatrician was less than desirable to work with and nothing seemed to be helping. My son was put on more rounds of antibiotics and nebulizer treatments than I could count.

I started to look at environmental factors that could be attributing to his health issues.

Allergies? The tests tests proved negative. (45 injections later)

Talking to doctors (NOT my Ped), I was challenged to look at inside my home. Thus, this started the process of elimination.

Out went the Glade air fresheners, Pine-Sol floor cleaners, bathroom cleaners, bleach, laundry soap, etc.

My house smelled like NOTHING and it drove me nuts. I started using Shaklee products. Skeptical, I wondered if it really cleaned as well as the other products I was using.

I educated myself. I read many articles comparing store brands and other ‘green’ brands to Shaklee.

I learned that not only do Shaklee products clean as well as the other store brands, but because it came in concentrated formulas, I was saving money and waste. I also learned healthier ways to scent my home by using essential oils (HELLLLO LAVENDER!)

Today, I am an Independent Distributor, because I wholly believe in Shaklee’s products. In completely overhauling my cleaning system, as well as implementing nutritional components into our daily routine, the trips to the doctor have been cut more than half for all of my family.


Today, I am linking my Shaklee business with supporting the Sprouts Baby Home. It seemed like a no brainer.

Sprouts needs the funding to support the babies that will live there. ALL the money earned from you purchasing Shaklee products through me goes directly to building Sprouts.

Choosing to sign up to become a Distributor helps even more. Becoming a Distributor joins me in funding Sprouts. Not only do you get to pave your way to an awesome career and promote healthy living, but you earn an income and help babies in Africa, too.

Do the research for yourself. We all encounter many crossroads in our lives. Perhaps this is one for you. Choose non-toxic cleaning. Choose health. Choose to do your part in recycling an changing lives a half a world away at the same time.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Transitioning kids

I've tried to be as transparent as possible on this journey to help remember this season in our lives, but also to be somewhat of an encouragement for you who may be on the same path or may have thought about doing something like this.

Working as a Treatment Foster Care Social Worker in the past, I'm familiar with the grieving process that kids go through when they are taken out of their familiar environment, and the behaviors and issues that arise as a result. I am not claiming to be an expert, by any means. Here are some things we have learned:

Transitioning children is a big deal. It needs to be intentional and planful, when possible. I know that TJ and I will be okay, we will be able to handle the upcoming changes with minimal discomfort. Our children have never been to Kenya before. The way they handle the new culture, food, sights, and sounds will all be very different, because they are different.

Be intentional about how this transition makes them feel. Asking open ended questions to get kids talking about their emotions.

What do you think about our new house? What do you think of our move? Are there questions you have that are making you feel ______?

We continue to have ongoing age-appropriate discussions with them daily about moving.

Give kids power to choose.

We have already sent suitcases to Kenya with a team that went to Kenya from our area 2 weeks ago. The boys helped pack and choose toys they wanted to send in advance to have waiting for them when we arrived.

We have given the kids each a suitcase that they can put whatever they want into it without mom and dad giving an opinion. The boys chose pictures, toys, and various things that they wanted to bring.

Bring familiar items from home.

We are bringing their bedding from home, to give a sense of familiarity to them. I am packing picture frames, photos of family, grandparents, aunties and uncles, cousins and friends they have here to keep in their room to remember those who love them back in the States. I also am packing the essential oils/air fresheners that we use in our home today to use in our new home in Kenya.

Keep your routine.

Examples would include bedtime stories, family meals, songs, games and any elements to our day that we can keep similar when we arrive. Keeping kids' routine the same as much as possible is helpful in transitioning them to a new environment.

There is so much more to this I know. If you have any advice to help us get these three monkeys transitioned well let me know.

Monday, August 8, 2011

This kind of sums it up......

A song tonight that has meant so much to us in this journey. Oh, how He love us.

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

Yeah...he love us....OH how He love us

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

You LOVE us.

God is doing great things

A week ago, I was sitting at my kitchen table sobbing, wondering what was going on. Trusting God has a plan and feeling at peace at the same time. We chose to take last week to just "be" and process and grieve and wait.....

Anyways, today is Miracle Monday. Because Jesus loves us so much, he stirred in the heart of an anonymous family who gifted us with plane tickets...and then some, to fulfill our needs to get to Kenya.


So, in this hour, we are dancing and celebrating for all that God is doing in this journey. God is carrying us every step of the way....

I hope this encourages you like it does us. Prayer works. That's all.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for this gift. God's ways are HIGHER than mine, we know that full well.

........and it would be embarassing to mention my "grand" idea.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sprouts update

God gives and takes away. We still choose joy and we move ahead. This journey has never been about us, but about bringing a voice to precious lives in Kenya that need advocacy.

Orphaned and abandoned children who need safe homes.

This week, our family moved out of our home, after finding an amazing family who was able to rent it and all that was in it until we return. It was a complicated weekend, but we somehow managed to move our stuff into a new, temporary home in the same town. This new home does not have a lot of furnishings, but it has allowed us to stay in our community and sort through the rest of our belongings until we move to Minneapolis in Sept. This also allowed us to organize our shipping container to get it ready to ship it overseas.

Last Monday, I was prepared to present our family's itinerary to our donor that we have worked with since January and receive a check that allowed us to purchase the rest of our furnishings for Sprouts and finalize our freight container to be sent off next week.

Last Monday, I received a phone call saying that our donor was no longer able to give. Nothing. No more. No reason, or explaination.

It was over.

It was a very difficult moment to swallow. It was the icing on the cake of the very difficult weekend that we had endured just a day before.

So, here we are. We can choose to be bitter, angry and spiteful. We can choose to seek revenge and go on a smear campaign.

Instead, we grieve, and process the emotions of this all and move forward with anticipation and joy for what is ahead. Our example and witness can be in how we react in these situations, too.

God's ways are higher than our ways. Sprouts is God's. HE knows our year ahead and the needs of Mattaw.

We are now in need of a new donor and in need of funding we had not anticipated for our freight container and our plane tickets.

We are asking God to provide, and informing people of the need. If you are interested in giving towards Sprouts, you may go to Mattaw's site here. Please indicate on the donation form what you would like it to go towards specifically.

Stay tuned for major miracles ahead.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Flying by the seat of my pants

Tonight, I'm sure God is looking down and seeing a lot of me looking up at him like this...


this week,

this year....

I've had to learn how to fly by the seat of my pants way more than I have been comfortable with.

If you are a visual being like me, then let me entertain you with some visual art of emotions I have experienced this year.

Bloody fear.

Ticked. Off.




The journey is far from over. In fact, in a lot of ways, I know it has only just begun. We are currently in a temporary house in the same town, waiting to leave. Just a few more details, big details, to go.

Our kids are great. We are adjusting slowly to new changes. New emotions every day.

We are finding joy in flying by the seat of our pants.