Saturday, August 26, 2017

Helping others around the world...Peru

usupaki....Thank you from kids in the jungles of Peru
Our goal is to help those in need around the world. We were able to do this by partnering with friends from our church Sam and Marcie Nicholson who founded the Cocama Project in Peru. To find out more about their ministry you can check out their page at We've been hearing about this ministry for the past 4 years at our church and we are so excited that this year we were able to partner with them so the kids in the community they support were able to receive school supplies. . Most of these kids like the kids in Africa we help have never had school supplies of their own. Above is the short video Sam made of the kids saying...usupaki (thank you in Cocama) for their school supplies.

Sam and Marcie were able to buy the kids paper/notebooks, pencils, markers, color pencils,erasers etc with the funds we gave them. We were also able to send them with big pencil sharpeners for each of the rooms to be installed at the school.
Sam and Marcie put in a lot of work to purchase these school supplies locally with the funding we gave them and organize this give away for us. But I know Marcie and Sam thought it was worth it to be able to help bless this community and these kids.
Here is a picture of Marcie with a family who's daughter received school supplies.
The little girls smile says it all.
Ok, y'all who went to Africa know why this is my favorite picture. Look at those kids standing still in nice single file lines.
Amazing, just amazing.

Our God is amazing.. Through our friends our small wish of being able to help kids around the world attend school has been able to touch 2 places of need around the globe. I don't know what God's plans are, but I'm so excited to be a part of it.
Can't go with us, no problem, your gift of $10-$10,000+ can help change the world.
 These kids will be the next generation, how can you help?

Next up, giving school supplies to kids in need in Tarkington, the small town Robert and I grew up in.

Stay tuned...currently working on our newsletter

Friday, August 18, 2017

Mission Trip 2017- Day 11

Day 11...
We are going on safari!!!
Well not really. I found out the Safari we wanted to go on required getting up at 5am when our flight left at 11:55pm....and then there was no assurance of getting to see animals. We want to see animals preferably that you can touch and you don't have to get up at 5am to see! (you know kinda like a zoo, but better)
Ok, Samuel said you can still see the Giraffes and Baby Elephants. You can even touch them he said. It's only $5 to see the Elephants and $10 to see and feed Giraffes and you will be back by lunch. Ok sign us up!
Boy did he ever! I will let the pictures do the talking from here on out and just add some captions!
You were "supposesd to only feed one pellet at a time, somehow Cindy and I missed that until after I feed my both hands full of pellets to this one really cute giraffe.
You may have seen the Giraffe Manor as a must on the list of places to stay when in Kenya. At only $650 per person per night you can see why we didn't stay there. But, these are the giraffe's they advertise that you can feed from the windows of your room while staying there and for only $10 we got to feed and pet them too!!! In the background you could see the gorgeous 1920's style idyllic manor 0house with shoots of green ivy covering the walls and perfectly placed cobble stones leading up to it. It truly was gorgeous and felt like you were stepping into a different world, but you can do a lot with $650, like fund several kids for the year!!

 Tommy took some just gorgeous pictures!

 They are so soft and clean you could almost kiss them right?
 Yes, the animal keeper said they like to kiss, just put a pellet between your lips and they will kiss you!
Kathy got a little more tongue than she was expecting with her kiss, but to see the smile on her grandson Austin's face..priceless.
As we left the giraffe's to see the baby elephants we also go to see Pumbaa!!
So it was really kinda like a safari!
Loose a finger....what???
Well we were off to visit the baby elephants. These baby elephants all had a story of how their mother was either killed by poachers, they where found at the bottom of a well, or due the drought they mother had died.
Baby Elephants still require their mothers milk to 2 years old and slightly beyond.
This lovely Elephant orphanage flies wherever needed to rescue these baby elephants, raises them and then works to reintroduce them to the wild.
Fun fact, I grew up on a 100 acre farm with lots of cows. My grandma would use bottles just like this to feed baby calves where the mother had died, was sick, or wasn't able to feed the baby for some reason. When I saw them wheel out these bottles I knew from experience the babies would run to get their milk. Oh and they didn't disappoint!
Some of the bigger babies like this one after they had had their allotted 2 bottles went to try to sneak another from the wheel barrow. It was so fun to watch them and the keepers!! By the way trunks make really good sneak in and grab tools! Wish I had a picture of that for you, but I'm sure you have a good imagination.
One of the smallest babies at 6months still needing to have a blanket tied to him/her for warmth.
Dumbo!!! Oh I could show you pictures of cute baby elephants forever!!!  Where we where standing was just behind a rope and to the back of us was the beautiful open view of the "safari" so it was no surprise really that these warthogs walked right up behind us not more than 30 feet away.
We spent a whole hour getting to see about 24 elephants. They are only open from 11-12 to see and pet the baby elephants, but if you adopt a baby elephant for only $50 a year, you and a group of your friends can come back at night and tuck your baby elephant in!!! So Tommy adopted a little elephant for his son Thomas and when we go back in Feb we are going to try our best to go tuck in that little baby!!!
So as I said before this turned into an actually safari day. On the way out we saw baboons just runs across the street!! Ok, let me explain the huge wildlife preserve is right next to the baby elephants and these baboons were just going out for an afternoon stroll, but it sure felt like were getting see our fare share of animals!!

We all made it back for lunch at the Mayfield, took some time to relax, surf the free wifi (that is if your phone wasn't fried), and relax before we headed to the airport that night at 6pm. On the way to the airport on the side of the road we did see even more animals: water buffalos, zebras, and more giraffes!
See, we really did go on Safari...
Ok, this is really the last day of posts, but I will be sure to add more and even share some of the awesome interviews with you!
ok stay tuned for my next post!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Misison Trip 2017- Day 10

Day 10...

We all knew this day would have to come.....the day we would have to leave Haven and head back to Nairobi to get ready for our flight the next day. Leaving Haven is always sad, bc for me it's like leaving my 2nd home. I know most people dream of a home on the beach, or in the mountains with a ski lift right out the door, but this is my 2nd dream home. It has the most amazing views I have ever seen. The food literally grows on the trees out the back door, and the people, oh the people are just the best!
It's these people and this place that take root in your heart.

 These invisible roots spread throughout your body until they find that place in you which we call the soul. The roots burrow in deep to your soulhome and take up residence. It happens so subliminally you have to wonder is there something in the chi? No it's not the chi although my hubby loves the stuff. It's not even the red dirt which now covers all your clothes or all your shoes. It is an experience and feeling like no other. The first year I went I coined this phrase: Red Dirt Stained Soul, and that's exactly what it is. These people and this place have left a permanent stain on my soul. If you can imagine cave drawings which depict people's lives or experiences, my soulhome is now just like those drawings, permanent and with standing the test of time. People ask me all the time why do you go back? The feeling I have just described to you is why I go back. you want that feeling too? A magnetic pull to a place halfway across the world? Before you know it we will be planning next years trip. We already have so many great ideas on who we can bless next year. We many not be able to help the whole world, but we can create a ripple effect in this community and in other places in need. (after I finish cataloging this trip, I will tell you about a few other groups of people we have been able to bless)
This picture is from Monday! Elizabeth showed all us ladies how to make her mandazi's! Kathy wrote down the recipe for us, so we can all make them how Elizabeth does!
Everyone helped so that we could have tea time later with the ladies and eat mandazi's.
My sister in law Cindy rolling out the Mandazi's!
Ok, you can tell I don't really like talking about leaving bc I really don't like crying and will usually avoid it like the plague! The good news is I was fresh out of tears bc Tommy and Kristen had already make me cry that week due to their extremely generous donation towards next years give away day. I told you this place takes root in you. Who needs a Chanel bag when you give an entire school of kids shoes!!!!!
Ok, more pics of yummy food, less talk of leaving...
We also made Arrowroot chips that day! When the parents of kids blessed us with fresh produce one of the things we received quite a bit of was arrowroot. In Africa it is considered a special dish. You take all the outside skin off and boil it. It become this soft (insert mushy) starchy treat (insert tasteless food). Everyone there loves it! We American's couldn't see the appeal. I tried it
with honey and lots of peanut butter for breakfast one day. YES now it was very good. Because I knew we would be eating more of it I asked if they had ever had arrowroot chips? No, was the answer so of course after frying the mandazi's we had all that lovely oil left...perfect for frying arrowroot chips. Arrowroot chips to me taste a lot like a potato chip and are really good just with salt or used to dip guacamole.  
Ok, so we did eventually leave Haven a little later than expected due to the rain and our driver trying to drive on mud. Oh and the hugging bye and the tears...
Finally we were off and what a slick slippery ride it was till we finally made it up that last hill to the main road in town.
We were leaving just in time though as the elections would be on Aug 8th. Already the political posters were everywhere and the cars touting one candidate over the other making it all the way out to Haven. Because everyone knows the election is usually decided by the silent majority or single men registered to vote in PA. JK on the later, but yes the former statement.
As we made out way closer into town these cars became flat enclosed 18wheel style trucks almost like you see in Vegas advertising shows. Thank the LORD these dancers were clothed though, but yes you heard that right...dancers dancing along to loud music supporting one candidate. Yep, you would think I've seen it all at this point.
Finally we made it to the Java House at Thika road and I had coffee and a BLT, bc bacon, I missed bacon. Most everyone else had a good old fashion burger w/bacon of course. My darling sister had a yummy salad which I wish I had gotten as I realized why Tommy had ordered the bacon on his burger extra crispy. I still ate it bc who wastes bacon...crazy people that's who.
Later we made it back to the Mayfield, check in, and relaxed a bit to start planning what we could go see tomorrow before our flight out. I will leave the surprises of what we saw for tomorrow.
We did make a short walk later that afternoon the Java house close to the Mayfield to get more coffee and then a chocolate brownie, a couple croissants and some other treats entered the picture.
That night we were so happy to have wifi we all plugged in our phones to charge them up. Most people sooner than me, that's how my phone stayed plugged in overnight and was fried during the electrical surge around 11:45 that night. Yes that was my phone's time of death. It was slated to happen bc GOK's how it survived it's quick baptism into the toilet at Haven. That's not true I know exactly how it survived. I started praying the moment I heard it clank the side...Dear Jesus save my phone...Dear Jesus pls let my phone still work!!!Yep, not only did HE save it, but blessed it with a whole year of life when most people would of pronounced it dead at the scene.
Ok enough for today....tomorrow you will get to hear about a different type of orphanage....stay tuned for day 11..

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mission Trip 2017-Day 9

Day 9
But 1st this cute picture of David.
Can I say I just love this boy! I really hope when my girls finally get old enough to come to Africa with Robert and I, David decides he likes one of them....
Ok, now onto what actually happened on this Tuesday. When we got to Haven, Phil had told us about the firewood at the bottom of the valley next to the river that needed to be brought up. He had asked the boys on Monday, yesterday if they wanted to go help daddy Phil get the firewood. Of course they said they would rather hang out with the team since it was their 1st day out of school for their month off. Even though Monday was relatively dry, of course it had to rain overnight and the trip down and thru the Shamba to get the firework would now not only be a steep one, but also a slippery one.
Every year I go thru the Shamba and every year I manage to slip and fall. So the odds were already stacked against me without adding the rain soaked ground. Needless to say I did slip and fall, but I also did make it all the way to the River and back up.

.....So you are looking out through the Shamba here and you can see the drop.

Now you can see the river! We started at the top and went all the way to the bottom to get the firewood. Then we all created a link of passing from one person to the next so everyone would only have to walk and carry the wood about 20-30 feet. Tommy went and stayed all the way at the bottom to help select wood to be passed up. Cindy, Bria, Kristie and I strategically placed ourselves between the boys with Phil in the middle to help regulate the flow of wood up the hill. Yours truly at the top to carry to the flattest spots and start placing the wood in stacks for the 2nd half up. So there were over 20 of us doing this and just to get maybe a few days worth of wood up the hill it took us 2 hours.

Wow this was a great workout. Once we made it back up to the top, some of the younger boys from Haven came to help us with the last 20 yards so we could get it all done for the day. (FYI...there was still weeks worth of firewood at the bottom of the valley)

After lunch we again started planning for our Home visits. As it looked like rain early again, Naomi and I decided to go ahead and do the 3 houses closest to Haven.

Kathy and the boys helped us deliver to these 1st houses and each house we got to, God made the shoes we carried the right size for those in the house. This felt great to see God working this miracle so these families would be blessed. Although these houses were closer to Haven, they were still quite the trek. We even had the opportunity to see where Naomi's family lived and meet some of her family.

Then we went back to Haven to get the rest of the stuff for the last few families and Beatrice, Lisa, and Gina took a team to a few other families so we could divide could get to all the houses before the rain. As we headed out again we visited the last 2 families we had food and everything for. We still had a few small backpacks and shoes left. We were pretty far out on the main road at this point with just endless little houses full of poor and poorer families. I felt God calling us to keep going and giving out what we had. And boy am I glad we did. At the last stops on this side we gave out more shoes we just seemed to have the right sizes for.

 On the way back Naomi asked me if we stopped by the house of the ladies who visited yesterday asking if we had any shoes for their kids. I told her yes I sent Beatrice to that house today. She said no, not the twins, there is another family that lives right next door (another duplex) I had made the mistake of assuming this was the same family. Ugh. I had told them we would be coming. So on the way back I sent my sister on ahead to pack up the last few super small backpacks with what school supplies we had left and just hoped we had the sizes in shoes these kids needed. We gave them the backpacks and both the boy and the girl needed size 3 shoes. We had 2 size 3 girl Mary Jane style school shoes left. The boy was so happy to have shoes he didn't even care they were girls shoes. This didn't sit well with me, so I went back to Haven and found 2 pairs of shoes Janice had brought for us to give away. One plain blk sneaker and a tennis shoe. I went back and explained to the boy that I would rather him have these 2 pairs of shoes. He was so excited. So I went back to Haven with one pair of girls school shoes. Before we started giving out shoes, Kathy had asked for a pair of shoes to take back to show her church what the shoes looked like we gave away. Spring Baptist Church gave us all the money we needed to place the shoe order, so I really wanted to get them a pair. I just wasn't sure we would have one left over. The need was so great and you just want to give everything you have. But, God being God knew that I would have that one pair of girls shoes left just for Kathy. I was so excited when I got back, I went right to Kathy and told her how God had worked it out using my silly notion of insisting the girls have girl looking shoes and the boys have boy looking shoes. Oh, but God knows me. He knew it was going to be like this from the start.  Ok, side story. The first thing I thought of when my husband told me he really wanted me to go to Africa was...hum I don't really have shoes for Africa. God worked out that detail too.

Ok.. we are getting close to the end of the trip, but day 10 is tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Mission Trip 2017-Day 8

 Day 8- Home visits in progress...
Last year we found out some of the kids at the school were not attending bc they didn't have any lunch to bring. So not only did these kids need uniforms, school supplies, etc, but they also needed to bring their lunch. In America we have title one schools where lunch is free and most other things can be provided by just filling out some paper work. We are set up to be an educational non-profit so buying food for these kids didn't really fit in our framework. So last year Elizabeth took the money I gave her and bought food to take to this family. That was just one family, but many more where suffering and going without. This year my mom asked me what was one thing we needed money for and I told her if she wanted to give, to give money I could use to buy food to deliver to the poorest families on our home visits. So with the money my mom gave me we bought over 40 lbs of food for each of the 12 homes we were able to visit. This top picture is one of the poorer families we visited. In the very front of the picture, this rusted out structure is the outhouse and in the back where we are walking to are the families home. I discovered this home was really 2, one room houses, like a duplex. I also went on to find out from Naomi these homes are rented. It never dawned on me these poor families wouldn't own their home, but they would have to rent a room/home to share. I thought my mind was already blown, but this just took it to a whole new level. Nevertheless, both these families were so excited to see us and get the gifts we were giving them of food, scarves, and shoes and backpacks for the kids who were attending the poorer school I told you about. This poorer school is also located in town. So you know the hill I was huffing and puffing about which took me 40 minutes to get to town yesterday, these poorer kids have to take that hill route to the valley floor and back up everyday just to get to go to school. (ok, I know your mind is blown again)
 This house made of mud and sticks with the tin roof is a typical house in Kenya. No electricity, no running water, no dry floor, no nothing, but a roof over your head.
 Here are different homes running down the valley from the main road at the top. Not all are mud huts, but most are much better. So I was surprised by the next home we visited. How did this home below qualify as a poorer home. Well as it is true in America it is true in Africa, circumstances change. This house is the grandmothers house in the middle. Last year her husband died, then just a few months later her daughter passed who left her with the 3 smaller kids you see. Already living with her was her son, his wife and 3 older kids. But now she no longer had an income to take care of them. We were happy to provide the older kids with backpacks and shoes as they went to the poor school. The smaller kids still went to the school we visited, so they had already received their backpacks, etc. You can see the grandmother her giving praise to the Lord, from whom all blessings flow. Beatrice had told Lauren in advance of coming about a little girl who needed clothes bc her mother had died and she was living with her grandmother. So I was happy to know the little girls in the middle was also the recipient of the clothes we gave!
 Each house we went to we also gave the family a Bible and prayed over them for God to bless them and keep them healthy. I usually prayed at the houses I went to, but I was so happy to have Kathy pray for this family. We had given out our last gifts here and Bible and headed back home. Tomorrow we would visit 6 more houses...which turned into 8. More details to come....stay tuned for day 9 tomorrow.

 Ok, I portrayed Baby Allan in a bad light yesterday. Look at him. How could you not love this kid!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Mission Trip 2017-Day7

Day 7...
This morning is Sunday, one of  my favorite days of the week because it usually means I have a few extra minutes to get ready and I can spend time reflecting on the week. I started by reading in Psalms and then starting writing a bit about Haven. Which  reminds me today, that I need to find my notebook... But, nothing I could say would compare to this awesome Video Mace Tennison made about Haven and it's people! Please take a few minutes to watch:

Wow, RIGHT!!??
How do I follow that up? Well I still have day 7 to share and we could title this post:

But, first Church!
What a beautiful church it is! The last 2 years I have been to this church, it has been a church inside a church. The old building was tree limbs and mud and slowly they have built this new beautiful church around it. This year the old church was removed. The new concrete floor was in place and the beautiful new windows were in. WOW, just WOW.
We arrived to church early with Beatrice bc in Kenya they start when most people are there I've noticed, not like in America where we have a count down to start time on the big projection screen. So we had some time before service to take pics with the boys!
 Here is a great pic of my beautiful sister Cindy with Charles and Brian.
Church is Kenya is like no other. It is really about worship and dancing/sings to the beat of your own drum. And I do mean an actually drum with cowhide on it. Most of the songs they sing are the same hymns you and I grew up on, but they sing them at a faster beat. I asked Elizabeth about this the next day because it took me to like the 3rd verse each time to figure out what song we are on. She told me they have a very upbeat drummer. I laughed so hard. It is amazing how one persons enthusiasm for GOD can change the way we see a song. Like "How Great Thou Art" this is traditionally a very slow song, but they sing it as an all out concert worthy praise and worship version.

After Church and After Lunch, daddy Phil took the boys into the "town" to have mandazi's and chi tea at the local tea shop. Think a rural version of Starbucks. Ok, scratch that, I have a picture. But first remember that title... THE DAY I GOT PEED ON? Well right there between Naomi and I was the culprit: Baby Allan. This was no ordinary visit to town. It is like that story you hear of grandparents telling you how they walked to school and both ways were up hill. Well if they lived here in Kenya this would be very true. I kept my church dress on for some silly reason and started the trek to town. I knew it would be a trek, but do you see that hill? That's only the 1st one. What I didn't realize is we would basically be going to the valley floor then up again as a shortcut to town. Yes, it was a shortcut bc it did save a mile of walking, but the HILL, do you see the HILL?? Ok, so here is how I got peed on. Darling Baby Allan was walking a long like the rest of us on this HIKE and well his legs aren't very long so he was falling behind. So I decided to give him a piggy back ride. On the hill on the way up my hands under his little bottom started to feel that's strange. I quickly put Allan down and touched the front of his little jean pants. Yep they were damp. Poor little boy had a little leak. Naomi had rolled up the waist band of his pants previously because they were dragging the ground, so when he got off and was trying to pull down his pants they wouldn't go down. One of his young brothers seeing his predicament trying to help him out as he pulled up his shirt. To save you some very graphic details basically the spout got stuck and poor Allan couldn't wait any longer and peed straight up on shirt. Luckily my sister is always prepared and gave me a wet wipe for my hands and baby Allan got wiped up as good as I could. Well since we are already almost half way there the story must go on. So here is the pic of me and Naomi helping Allan up the Hill. On a bright note of me I had a nice Kenyan shopping bag on my back so only it got a little damp and me and my jkt and dress stayed nice and dry.
After a lot of huffing and puffing we made it to the tea shop!
 I declined the chi, but had a big fluffy mandazi. I have previously only had Elizabeth's mandazi's which are like these beautiful little triangle shaped beignet's with crème, sugar and lime zest. I didn't realize that in town they would sell something different. These were big with not sugar I could detect and chewy. Not horrible, although Kathy had a different opinion. I later asked Elizabeth about this and she explained to make $ and to make a product the people could afford, the shop cut the good stuff and people were able still to get a treat. Well that happens to here I guess, but it's almost the opposite. We go out of our way to find the most decadent treats we can find and are happy as little larks to pay $3.50 for a cookie or $6 for a jumbo cupcake.
 Our trip to the shop was only a short stop it seemed as it was not time to start the trek back. Do you see this steep hill? Well on a happy note I made it to over 20,000 steps for the day and 101 active minutes.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mission Trip 2017- Day 6

On day 6 we had the opportunity to host a very special group of kids.
One of the boys adopted to Haven on the Hill Children's Home is John Paul. John Paul was found on the streets with a little baby on his back, he was 4 years old. Janice and Phil adopted both John Paul and the little baby on his back, Baby Allan Luke. John Paul is hearing impaired and speaks, but can't really be understood. At 4 years old he had the heart of a saint and was taking care of not only himself but managing to find and feed Baby Allan too. Both of these boys were cast away, but somehow managed to survive the streets long enough to be rescued and then adopted. Despite John Paul's hearing and speech problems, he is able to adapt to any situation. Janice and Phil were able to find Ear Trek in Nairobi and the lovely founder Florence. She took in John Paul for 6 months to give him basic sign language, work with hearing aids and help him learn to communicate.
John Paul is now back at Haven, but bc of the huge impact Florence and Ear Trek made on his life and the great needs of this school. We decided to host a VBS for them too and give them backpacks and shoes. Some of the equipment the school needed was very expensive, but Spring Baptist Church stepped in again and raised the money at their VBS to buy the equipment. WOW, it is amazing what the body of Christ can do.
So that Sat morning around 11:30am the kids from Ear Trek arrived to a damp and chilly Haven on the Hill to show us that even though these kids couldn't communicate in the way we were use to, they were able to play and show love just like any other kids.

We did games, bible story, crafts, and music for them as well.

 Plus of course snacks and lunch. The biggest joy of all was to see them signing along with Lisa as she taught them the song with the signs.

 After this we gave each kid a backpack with school supplies and shoes. Then Kathy did her presentation to Florence of the otoscopes and Tympanometer.

You should of seen Florence's face. We found out from her that this was equipment she had requested from the Kenyan government to help run her school and she was denied.

As a Thank you to us for having us out for VBS, Florence brought us a "real" cake to share and it was amazing. In Kenya their cake is usually super dense and not very sweet, but this cake was very moist and even had frosting!!! Her daughter owns a bake shop in Nairobi and had made it for us!

This was truly as special day! As you can see they will miss us as we will miss them!!!