Friday, April 30, 2010

Sweet sweet SWEET John...

When several days have passed and my heart has not been re-broken(upon introduction) for a new child, family, situation, I am thankful for a rest but know my eyes will be opened to something else soon. Even though I have only been living this life for around 2 months, I pray every day that seeing these things/this type of suffering is never normal, however ‘common’ they are. The thought that I would ever get to a place where coming upon an abandoned child or a starving family or a sick baby does not cause the same deep emotions and heart pain I am experiencing nearly everyday scares me to death. The pain is not enjoyable but it makes me feel so close to Him—like we are feeling the same thing together for these people. I will take the fiercest love-induced pain over numbness ANY DAY.

Today, I haphazardly ended up going with a friend to meet a family in the community that he checks on periodically (it’s near HOREC). I had little expectations and just prayed this morning that He would prepare me for anything—expecting to meet another family who is struggling financially and discerning how it is He wants me to respond to the needs I see. As we walked towards their home, I had a poor attitude as the houses surrounding this one seemed fairly nice and I was not looking forward to what I expected in that moment….meeting (and being asked to help) someone who spent all of their money on a ‘nice’ house and now can’t afford to feed their children. We came upon the home—an old mosquito net covering several chickens in the first thing I saw. I thought “okay, they have chickens. They cannot be thaaaat poor. They can sell the eggs and breed more chickens and eat/sell the meat.” When no one answered as we knocked, we went into the house. I felt uneasy about going in while they were out, but my friend insisted. When we went in, I would have guessed no one lived there—that it was abandoned. Surely no one lived here, we had the wrong house and that is why no one answered. But then as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw John. My friend greeted him and as my eyes continued adjusting to the pitch black, I walked over and sat on the bed next to John-I could finally make out his face. We greeted each other…. Me by looking in his eyes and holding his hand, he by touching my face and making a groaning noise.

He was the size of a 5 year old but his eyes suggested he was older. He was wearing a dirty sweatshirt and nothing else. As I sat next to him and took in his gaze, I noticed he was tied to the bed. It soon made sense as I learned quickly that it was not just his mind that was affected, but his body too. He had little muscle control and could hold his head up for only around 15 seconds before it would drop. He was covered in drool and if you could see my arm now, you would think I had been attacked by a cat as his way of communicating with me was grabbing/scratching my arm and touching my face. His eyes never diverting from mine, they showed a bit of pain but more joy than pain. A small girl came in (Wangeshi-his sister who is 3 years old) with orange cornrows. I used to always think it was so cute that some kids had orangeish hair, but then I learned it is a sign of extreme malnutrition. After Wangeshi, a teenage girl arrived (Susan-14 year old sister)—she had been fetching water and apologized for not being there to receive us when we arrived. The excitement that filled John’s entire body when she walked into the house brought tears to my eyes. He cannot hold his head up by himself, but this boy can dance when he sees someone he loves! Also, I got to see the most beautiful smile appear and not depart for the rest of our time there.

Susan and I untied him from the bed and dressed him—it was obvious he was eager to be moved from the bed. We held his arms and he showed off by standing tall and strong and then we danced some more and laughed a lot. He became tired after several minutes of this, so Susan took him outside and placed him on the ground. Here he ran around (or scooted on his butt) the sun-covered yard with such delight. Every second our eyes moved from him, we found him eating rocks, trash, or chicken poop—he needed much supervision but it was clear he received so much joy from this small act of freedom. His mother later arrived from working in a field nearby and graciously offered us tea. The poorest people are absolutely the most generous—I see that every day. We were luckily able to blame full stomachs to resist the generous offer that would surely leave them just a bit deeper in poverty than they were when we came. Grace, the mother of John, Susan, Ruth, Joyce, and Wangeshi exemplified just what her name suggested. GRACE. Since birth, John (age 15—yes. 15. The size of a 5 year old.) has been unable to walk/mentally unable to communicate. She told me he has never seen a doctor—I clarified about a million and five times because this shocked me. He has never been to a doctor, but she told me he has epilepsy which is to blame for his physical and mental condition. I have no idea of the accuracy of this, but it is all I have heard so far.

Imagine your first born is in this state-then you have another child to care for. And another. And another. And another(the first 4 children are all within 4 years of each other). Your husband eventually left you because you produced this sort of baby (who is usually abandoned to die and not provided for as it is an embarrassment to the village/sign of a curse). So now you are alone and caring for 5 children-one special needs. How is she supposed to work? Even when the children are older, can she leave this boy alone by himself? Can she work hard enough to provide for them AND afford to take him to see a doctor? And what if the doctor prescribes medication? How in the world will she find a way to pay for that? He needs a wheelchair? If getting food on the table is this big of a problem, how will the family be able to afford this large added expense. Well, this woman-Grace, has been given enough grace to take care of this sweet child for 15 years. No, he is not in the finest occupational/physical/speech therapy and yes, he is usually covered in drool and is not living the life she wants for him, but she has given her life to care for him. She works SO hard and I know this because my friend has watched her for years and been amazed with her determination. She is willing to do any and every thing to enable her children to survive.

I did not have my camera with me because it’s big and bulky and I just don’t like carrying it with me… feel too much like a sight seer. But, next time I go to visit John and the family, I will take pictures to share. I will show you his sweet smile and hope to video tape his precious dance. :)

I want to take him to the hospital—I know of one here through a friend that specializes in pediatric orthopedic cases. I am hoping to take John as soon as I can… does anyone want to help with this? Right now I have no earthly idea what the medical plan will be – What is his diagnosis? Is treatment even available? What does treatment plan look like? I have so many questions right now but there are so so so many things that can be done to help this family. Even if no medical improvements can be made for John (though I am praying that something can be done), we can help to clothe their children-assist with food so that little Wangeshi can have black braids instead of orange ones-improve the living conditions so John is in a safer environment-approach the throne on their behalf. So much. I refuse to believe we are helpless because his legs might never work and his brain damage is too severe to reverse… that is a lie. It is a lie to believe that nothing can be done, we just have to figure out what needs to be done and how to do it. That is what I am doing here—I am seeing the needs because He is peeling back my eyes and I am seeing things that need to be shared with other believers. We are all called to care for the poor, hungry, sick, orphaned and if I keep what/WHO I see here to myself and try to do this alone, I am doing you a disservice as my brother or sister in Him. Perhaps you will never feel John touch your face and receive his love in that way and perhaps you will never meet his precious family… but actually, I was thinking about how I think he will be able to run and jump and talk and play and whatever else he’s been missing out on during his time on this earth once He is with the Lord—what an incredible reunion he will have with those of you who pray for him; those of you that contribute to help me pay his medical bills; those of who share God’s affection for him. That is not supposed to be a corny slogan to put at the end of a blogpost so people feel guilty and decide to give their prayers, their money, their things… He SAYS again and again we will be so highly rewarded in Heaven when we care for these people on earth and I truly think the greatest reward I can imagine will be the reuniting of us with these friends in Heaven—where all of the pain, injustice, fear, suffering is GONE. Where we are together singing, in every tongue, praises to the Father who has brought us to Himself, despite all of the crap any of us were subject to on this earth. Just thoughts. Will post pictures/more info as soon as I have them. Thanks for caring, because I know you do and I am really thankful for that.

Monday, April 26, 2010

David!!




I was in Mathare slum yesterday visiting a children’s home I had been to the week before. We saw incredible needs last time we were there, so planned to go back as soon as we could to take food, supplies, and medicines for the children. We found the children in a similar state yesterday—young ones who were crawling, toddling, or running around half naked (surely to avoid the wet pants as diapers are a true luxury here); stomachs distended in malnutrition; barefoot and torn up feet (keep in mind the common scenery in slums is scrap metal, trash, and sewage—both animal and human); worms, open wounds, scabies, parasites, measles, malaria far too common.

I had planned to spend the day walking around cleaning/bandaging wounds, giving out de-worming and antifungal medicines, rehydrating, and just trying to check each child to see how they were looking and if any needed medical care as well as playing with the children and showing them as much love as I could squeeze into a day. I did do some of that but my day changed drastically when the police arrived in the slum with a sad, lost, tiny boy. His name is David.


All we know of David is his name. He was abandoned by his mother and was found by the police and referred to this home. His lips were swollen and cracked, his eyes were sad and tired, his body was lethargic and weak, his spirit was crushed, his pants were soiled, his body was filthy, his stomach was empty. I am guessing he was around 3 or 4 years old. I picked him up and instantly knew putting him down, ever, would be so difficult. His pants were changed; I did my best to bathe him with baby wipes; he guzzled the rehydration solution I gave him and somehow his teeny tiny body made enough room for two full plates of food that I fed him bite by bite; and he clung tightly to my neck the whole time. I don’t know how long he had been alone but his eyes told the story for him. He was lost, confused, and weary… at a point of complete exhaustion as he seemed to give into his recent fate.

His eyes were curious—he watched as life spun on around him. He received the humble offering God allowed me to give with silent thanksgiving and I am still learning how to receive the immense love that God allowed him to show me. I have never in my life seen Jesus so clearly as I did in David’s eyes. It gave me chills. The Lord allowed me to touch Him and hold Him tightly and wipe His snotty nose and let Him rest His head on my shoulder and pray for Him without ceasing as I rubbed his back. I am eternally grateful that He allowed me to be with Him so intimately. Since meeting David, he has not left my thoughts for even one minute. Please pray with me that He would speak clearly and allow me to discern how it is He wants me to love this child. Right now it looks like visiting him as often as I possibly can (I usually leave HOREC about once a week to check on other kids/go to church/run errands/etc.) and praying for him every second of every day. I am so willing to do more though and am praying that He allows me the opportunity to love HIM by loving David with my everything. I got to see him today and he's already looking so much better after food, water, sleep. I got to hear him laugh for the first time... incredible.

Please pray for his sweet heart. His undefiled heart that already knows what it is to be abandoned by those who are supposed to care for him in this world… something that most of us will never know. Let the Spirit direct you how to pray but I just ask that you approach the throne for Him and pray He can feel Psalm 27:10(my mother and father may forsake me but the Lord will always receive me) in his bones. May the Spirit of the Lord come down… may the power of the Lord come down from Heaven and shake the earth.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hey guys—I wanted to clarify some confusing things about my last post:

1. There are already guards in place at HOREC—since the last attempted
break-in (the one I wrote about two posts ago), people stepped up
immediately and hired the guards to start the night following the
incident….incredible!! So, the money anyone gives for security at
HOREC will be used to maintain the guards (we’d love to be able to
keep them permanently rather than just for this month that they have
been paid for) and to finish funding the electric fence that was
started in November.

2. If it is security you are interested in funding, you can go
directly to www.brightpointforchildren.org and click on “Donate Now.”
Then you can check ‘general donation’ and write that you wish for it
to go towards HOREC (or Strong Tower) in the comment box. They will
send you a tax receipt in the mail. Also, check out their webpage and
look around—there are numerous children who need to be sponsored, some
of whom are my kids at HOREC.

3. If you wish to send a check, let me
give you the address of my church there:

Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church
4385 Lower Roswell Road
Marietta, GA 30068

Write Annie Coppedge/Kenya on the for line of the check and you will
receive a tax receipt in the mail. Contact Gaylyn Kelly if you have
questions. Gaylyn.kelly@mtbethel.org

4. If you wish to send a package to Kenya, you can send it to my
friend Phoebe. She suggests the best/safest/cheapest way to send to
Kenya is through DHL. You can send any packages to:

Phoebe Muthoni Maina
62535-00200
Nairobi, Kenya

**please let me know if/when you send one so that I can know to be on
the lookout for it’s arrival. Thanks so much! annie.coppedge@gmail.com

5. Feel free to contact me with any questions… I might be a little bit
slow to reply, but I promise it will be within 3 days or so.

Thanks so much everyone for your generosity…. I am so very thankful!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How to help

This is going to be long, I can feel it. If you do not want to read it all—at least read the second half please. Ha.

I have major pride issues and asking for help with ANYTHING... even just accepting help is so difficult for me. It always has been. There is nothing good about this... please do not mistake it for humility or any other noble characteristic-it's all pride. Trust me, I've tried my hardest to convince myself otherwise. I did not work instead of raising support when I decided to move to Kenya because I love to answer phones and work in concession stands... I worked because I would rather take the time and energy to do things on my own than to humble myself and accept the support of those who are willing and CALLED to advance the kingdom in this way. Some of you gave anyway and I see that as God's infinite grace displayed to me despite my heart in need of so much refinement.

Anyway, things have changed... I still struggle with debilitating pride that prevents me from asking for help for myself, but now I am asking on behalf of those whose voices are muddled as they aim to travel from this continent to the next. There are so many barriers between their voices and our ears. Now I am living it--my eyes are peeled back, my ears cannot silence the cries no matter how hard I try, and I am touching the pain with my hands. Now instead of asking for supposed needs of kids I have not met, I am seeing the extremity of needs and begging for your assistance because I have realized very quickly that Acts 2 does not happen without accepting assistance from members in the community. I cannot just set out to provide assistance for the community as ONE. Not sure if that makes sense... it is all just a big mess in my head, but I wanted to try to explain it before the paragraphs that follow this.

The needs here are limitless. The most urgent is the need for LOVE; but the incredible thing is that there are so many ways to show this Love. I don't want you to just read this blog or keep up with my facebook statuses or listen to me talk about these kids... I want you to be a part of this with me. So many of you already are in the hugest way--prayer. I cannot tell you how much peace I receive daily from knowing that you all are praying for these children with me.... that I am not the only one God is hearing their names from. These children do not have parents and I know that each of you with children put so much love and care into constantly speaking to the Father on their behalf. I know it's true--I've watched it and admired it and yearned to be a part of. It is enough that the names of every one of these children is inscribed on the palm of His hand... that is MORE than enough. But, for these children to be covered in prayer like yours are--the thought of that brings tears to my eyes. Eventually I will need your help setting these kids up with people to pray over them specifically--by name. I want you to know their hearts, their dreams, their fears so that you can pray best for them. I am praying for them but there are so many, thought I could spread the wealth. :) Or just accept the help of community... Also, your prayers are the greatest gift you can give me and I will never be able to thank you enough.

So now, I am asking you (and most of you do not need to be asked—you have been asking ME how to help since day one… and no, I have not and will not stop praising Him for your willing and generous hearts) to be a part of this, or continue being a part of this. I am going to be telling you of the needs I come into contact with as they arise. I have been here for 2 months and have already seen enough needs to last me a lifetime if I intend on fulfilling them with my own means. God has asked me to respond to the needs He shows me here and I am doing my best—but He has shown me how foolish I was to believe that this is something I am supposed to do by myself. Right now I will briefly describe some current needs and will be in contact as soon as more arise, trusting that nothing will be given as an obligation—just returning what He has given you. Also, one of my greatest pet peeves in the world (and I know I will offend some people with this… sorry) is when support letters end with “and if you don’t feel like you can give at this time… please at least pray.” Please please please, I pray, know that no tangible gift you could give to me or to these children is more coveted than your prayers. Truly. I mean that with every ounce of my being… I would rather have you approaching the throne for these motherless and fatherless children than have you paying for each and every one of them to be fully fed, educated, and housed for the rest of their lives. Believe me, please. So here we go….

Needs:
HOREC-->
-security guards (2 armed guards at night to protect the home from gangs that have repeatedly attempted-and once succeeded- to break in during the night)
-electric fence (razor wire is in place, we just need help funding the electric wiring)
-medical fund for kids (the HIV+ children at HOREC go to a free clinic that provides their antiretrovirals and medicine to combat the opportunistic infections that arise; however, when the children need to be admitted/need special lab tests and further care/get sick on the weekends, funds are extremely limited.)
*also, I feel very led to explore other homes where HIV+ children reside and find out how we can be of assistance in taking the best care of these kids. I am trusting that eventually He will provide the means for a children’s hospice center and/or rehabilitation center to care for these kids who are dealing with AIDS in unfavorable circumstances. Until then, I will pray He provides ways to help these children whether by paying for their hospital admissions/stocking a medical cabinet/etc.

Things to be sent:
-underwear (honestly, the more you can provide the better. Not just for my kids--it is a huge need in every children’s home and I know that I could find a grateful recipient for even a million pairs. As far as HOREC goes, we have already received some from the Young Adult ministry at Mt. Bethel which was a huge help. They covered most of the little kids-but we could still use some for 5-6 year old boys*about 6 boys total, 9-10 year old boys*2 boys total, and 10-15 year old girls*about 15 girls total.
-Socks (all sizes)
-handwash/antibacterial gel *probably easiest for me to buy here, though it is cheaper in America…
-medical supplies (bandaids, alcohol pads, gloves, Neosporin, etc etc etc…. anything you’d find in a first aid kit, really—very limited supplies here and they are expensive. I think those weekly medicine containers would be helpful too for those on HIV meds.)


OTHER HOMES-->
-security guards for Strong Tower home for rescued street boys and girls (**urgent need that I will explain more to people who are interested in helping)
-toothbrushes/toothpaste
-underwear
-socks
-medical supplies
-school bags (small bookbags/backpacks—used are fine!)**somewhat urgent as well… there is a children’s home that could really really use new bags before going back to school in May. I took pictures that I will post soon… their school bags are a mess. I can get each one a new bag for around 5 dollars….16 children. $80
-bed sheets (again, used are fine--twin sheets are best)
-personal Bibles (English OK)


those are priorities…. There are also some things that the kids would love, but definitely do not HAVE to have. These are probably all the things you actually are excited about sending/providing.

-clothes(especially for preschoolers because they wet themselves like 5 times a day. Also baby clothes are helpful.)
-toys/games (the only problem is that they need to either be for groups or there needs to be enough for each child in a home)
-art activities:beads, paint, paper, markers, crayons, stickers, etc.
-pictures/letters… they LOVE getting pictures, even just of your family or something random.
-kids dvds (as I write this, my little ones are all watching Shrek-thanks Brennan and Grant Kelly!)


now these are ideas of things you could provide for the kids to experience if you choose:

-a trip to the pool (it’s about a dollar per child…. So, for HOREC I am hoping to get about $30 dollars to take the kids before their holiday is over on May 2nd)
-a trip to see the animals that live in their country (most children have never even seen the animals our kids see at the zoo, even though the animals actually LIVE in the wild here)
-any other fun thing you can think of… they love to get out every once and a while. Now is a good time because they are out of school for two more weeks. Their next opportunity to go away for a day is probably not until August.
Even with just $20 dollars or so, I think I could figure out how to throw an ice cream Sunday party for an entire children’s home. Be creative. ☺ I also think $10 or so could provide an extremely rare event—sodas for all.



These are all just ideas because people have been asking and I WANT to provide a way for you to help… I am responsible to these children and GOD to share their needs and let Him do the rest of the work—leading you to respond however He chooses. The books you donated have been the HUGEST blessing... multiple children's homes now have stories to read before bed and His love is sung over them in a new way. Also, those of you that gave clothes--every single item has a new and grateful owner. Thank you :)

Gaylyn Kelly has been extremely generous in offering to help arrange all of this on the American side of things. An account has been set up through Mt. Bethel United Methodist church in Marietta, GA so that any monetary donation can be given with my name on the ‘for’ line. Some of the money will be sent through BrightPoint for Children (an incredible child sponsorship program that you definitely need to check out if you have not) - ie. security needs (HOREC and Strong Tower) and medical fund for children’s homes that are already being sponsored by them. If you contact Gaylyn, she will be able to give you more information and advise you on how to give. If you have other ideas, PLEASE share them with me or run them by Gaylyn if you’d rather. We want you to be able to respond to Him however He leads you… these are His children and I trust Him to direct you how to provide for them, whether by your prayers (that I allow the Holy Spirit to lead), your money (which I will watch in awe to see how He moves you to give), and your possessions (cannot wait to hear about a sweet child who decide to give up one of her dolls so a child in Kenya can have one). Before I go on for 5 more pages, let me give you my contact information and Gaylyn’s as well. Mine is annie.coppedge@gmail.com and Gaylyn’s is gaylyn.kelly@mtbethel.org. This will be a constant work in progress and we might not always have answers, but things will slowly but surely be figured out. Thanks so much for even reading this and I pray He overwhelms you with generosity so that you can in turn, be generous with Love.

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from You and we have given You only what comes from Your hand.” ~1 Chronicles 29:14

and all of 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. . . . . . incredible passages about generosity/love/service.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Recipients

I am going to start telling you about each of the kids He is letting me love… I want you to pray for them with me. I want you to know them. I want you to praise Him for what He is doing in their sweet lives.

He has changed my heart so much in just this short time and I wanted to share before I begin that I don’t think He wants us to be sorry for these kids. I don’t think He wants us to see them first as victims, I think He wants us to see them as blessed RECIPIENTS of so much love and grace from the King who calls them His own.

It seems simple, and maybe it is, but my heart is most often inclined to ‘pity’ the ones whose stories break my heart. Sometimes I watch 10 year old Mary care for little 7 month old Medrine so so lovingly and get tears in my eyes as I remember that she will never be a mom because of this brutal disease. I have so many questions for God when 6 year old Joseph shares that he would love to be a doctor when he grows up—and what an incredible doctor he would be, if this disease would stop tearing down his body. I am often furious when I hear a youth service at church telling children how dirty they are if they have sex before they are married, knowing that I can pick out at least 10 girls (and boys) in the crowd whose hearts are hurting as they recall the evil events that they presume place them in this category. BUT… He has redirected me lately and asked me to open my eyes that are tightly shut as I try to praise Him even when my mind is asking ‘why why why?’ He’s asked me to open my eyes and SEE HIM BECAUSE HE IS THERE. He was there during the hurt. He is there during the healing. This hurts Him more than it hurts me-more than it hurts them-but no evil can thwart His ultimate goodness. He was good then and He’s good now and if I open my eyes, I can see it. I can touch it. I love that the only times I remember that two of my girls were raped just months ago is when I am praising Him after I got to watch them sing their hearts out during worship or after we laughed until our stomach hurts and our eyes were full of tears…

If I am not looking for His face in the brokenness, I will be crippled by the deep pain of others. I have had this conversation with some of you because it has been a constant question as I have been face to face with evil and suffering so much over the past couple of years. I ask myself when I will stop seeing my sweet Nepalese girls as victims of sex trafficking—forced to work in the brothels of India as young as 8 years old. When will I first see them as beautiful, chosen, REDEEMED daughters of the King who have been washed whiter than snow by His blood… when will I forget what they’ve been through and more, when will they forget? Maybe forget is the wrong word. I don’t wish for it to escape our minds fully, but I want “those that sow in tears to reap in joy”(psalm 126). They do. He is faithful to that. The problem is me… the one who simply sees the pain and wishes I could take it but am constantly unable. Carol said (pretty randomly) the other day that she is not afraid of dying—she WANTS to be with Jesus. Holy moly. He picked me up and looked me in the eyes and said ‘see Annie! I AM good. Do you believe me? Look for it. Look for it and and expect it and you will see the depth of my love never changes.’

I am rambling, sorry. My point is just that as I tell you the heartbreaking stories of these kids and show you their faces, I am praying that we are able to rejoice in His promises for them. That we can still shout from the rooftops ‘HE IS GOOD!’ even when our eyes are open to their heartache. The thing is, because of His limitless and fully sufficient grace THEY are able to do this so I need to be also. I need to trust God enough that they might see their worth in HIM and not solely in their circumstances, unfortunate past, sad stories, or current situation. I’ll be back to write more later today.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Leaving HOREC

Just wanted to fill you in on the events of the past couple of days—a lot has happened/changed. I spent Easter weekend, Friday through Tuesday, running all around Kenya doing various things—taking a friend to the hospital, getting over food poisoning, checking on some children in a dangerous situation, visiting the child I sponsor through Brightpoint, and spending time with my Kenyan family (Josphine, Faith, and Lenny). I got back to HOREC right at dusk on Tuesday night. I missed the kids so much over the weekend and it was so wonderful to see them again! We had a great night of fun and catching up. The kids are out of school for holiday, so they are able to stay up later and the older kids have more time for playing, as they have less schoolwork to do.

I am not sure if you remember/I ever told you about what happened at HOREC in November of 2009, so I’ll copy a blog post that was written about the incident immediately following:

“With terrible grief and heartache I must share terrible news concerning HOREC. On Thursday morning around 1 a.m. approximately 15 thugs broke into the orphanage. They were on a rampage coming from two neighbors’ homes that they had ransacked, beat and cut the people. All the people survived with multiple wounds. HOREC staff and children knew nothing of the havoc going on down the road until they too became victims. The men must have been watching the property because they waited until the night guard went into his house (just a short distance away from the dorm) to escape the rain. They quietly approached the dorm, cut the electricity supply, broke the lock to the front gate and made their way to the corridor of the bathrooms. Between the bathrooms and the girls' room the wall does not go all the way to the roof. Two of the thugs found the space and climbed over the wall landing in the girl’s bedroom. They then got the door open so that the rest could join. With flashlights shining directly in the kid’s eyes that were awake they told the children if they screamed they would be killed. They were carrying axes and machetes. Some of the men cut through the boxes of supplies, some were yelling at the staff to hand over money and cell phones, and others dragged two of the girls to the storage room and raped them. One of the girls is 14 years of age and the other is 10. Both have come from sexually abusive backgrounds. The housemother was being beaten mercilessly as some of the children were climbing under beds to hide. Miraculously some of the kids slept through the whole ordeal. Then, as fast as they had come they left. Their whirlwind was like a hurricane that ripped through bodies, hearts and minds leaving a shattered mess. It wasn’t until they left that the housemother found a cell phone they had hidden and frantically called Christine. Everyone was praying it was a nightmare from which they would awake. Christine, her husband and the police arrived to find the chaos of screaming children. Both the girls were taken to Nairobi Women’s Hospital and treated then sent back home. One feels helpless at the situation. Questions go through our minds and frustration feels like a heavy weight.”

This is what I read in December that changed the course of all of my plans for moving to Kenya… when I heard about this incident and these precious children who are not only orphaned, abandoned, and sick-but now traumatized in this way, the Lord made it so clear that I was supposed to move in with them and love them with every fiber of my being. Counsel? Yes, maybe eventually. Be a Child Life Specialist to? Yes, maybe along the way. LOVE? Absolutely yes--with everything.

Anyway, around 2am on Tuesday night, we received a call from a neighbor saying there was a gang of thugs moving through the community. They were beating people, breaking into homes, and stealing anything they could find. The adults were all woken up, myself included, but we did not wake the children. I was told as I laid my mosquito net covered bed, wide-eyed and confused as to why I was awake but there were no sick children, about the gang and to be prepared that they were outside and trying to get in, that they must have seen me arrive at night and realized I was sleeping at the home. White people in Kenya are assumed to have money so they are common targets for theft. God’s presence was thick in those moments and the peace I felt was indescribable-like nothing I’ve ever experienced or would expect to experience in such turmoil. My heart was at rest knowing that whatever the next several minutes or hours held, He was walking through it with us. Nothing mattered beyond that. I wrote this to a friend several hours after the attempted break in “I was preparing to personally hand them my laptop, phone, camera, and money given that they did not enter the dorm. I will even give them myself if that is what they're looking for. I had such a peace last night .............. Not an 'everything will blow over, no big deal' peace... But an 'I KNOW You are here and nothing will convince me otherwise. I will do anything in the world to protect these kids whether it means giving all of my earthly possessions, giving my body to be raped or beaten, or giving my life. I trust You to be the ultimate protector but if there is any role You want me to play in assistance, I am willing.’”

The thugs never got in… they were scared away by watchmen and probably somewhat intimidated by the electric fence that was installed since the last break-in. Please praise Him with me that the kids did not have to go through that again… that most of them never even heard the screams that echoed through the community all night as innocent people were attacked by pure evil. He is so gracious and I cannot stop thanking Him for sparing their hearts from seeing that evil once again. My brother sent a message saying that part of becoming like Jesus is learning to hate evil as much as He does… He encouraged me to pray that these men, who seem to fear nothing, would fear the LORD and would dare not enter into His home for HIS precious children and bring harm there. Much needed wisdom…

Unfortunately, for the safety of the children, it is necessary that I move out of HOREC. My presence -my skin color- was attracting men with evil motives and though it is extremely heartbreaking to succumb to their threats, the children will be safer in my absence. I am truly not worried for my own safety and trust that if He ever sees fit for me to return, I will hear Him clearly. For right now, I would be staying for purely selfish motives and as much as I want to, I cannot choose to serve myself over protecting the children. My heart breaks that I am not there to worship with them each night, to tuck the children into their mosquito nets, read them stories, pray with them, say goodnight and I love you a million times so that each one knows it is true for THEM personally, listen to them speak broken English in their dreams, check Carol for fever every couple of hours, hold the little ones as they fall back asleep after being woken by bad dreams, feel them cover my bed as I begin to realize it is time to wake up, give them their morning baths, try to sort out their school uniforms as they dance around the room in their birthday suits, and rub their backs as they take their morning and night medicines. Even just writing that was impossible without tears…. BUT, I trust Him. I trust Him to fill the deep holes left in my heart and if He was allowing me to bless any of their hearts like they bless mine, I trust Him to fill those holes too. I trust that He will take better care of Carol than I was. I trust that He knows what He is doing and this hurts me much more than it hurts them. I am waiting to see where He leads—not sure whether commuting will be an option or what. I knew I was supposed to live among them… that was my clear call from Him. I did it… I loved it… is it really already over? Hard to accept if it is, but time will tell.

This is extremely painful, my heart is broken… broken that these evil men have so much power. I must remember, though, that as much power as it seems they possess, it pales in comparison to HIS almighty power. That their small, corrupt power is NOT overtaking His… it never will. His purposes will come to be regardless of how hard they try to thwart them and for that, I am grateful. Please pray for continued safety of the children at HOREC… thank you.


"O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure. My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart." ~Psalm 7:9