Friday, May 27, 2011

Baby Love

Today I had the privilege of going to Shimo La Tewa, a slum at the bottom of the hill, where I met a beautiful woman who is taking care of her 3-month-old grandson because his mother abandoned them. 

Mya with baby Isaiah
Even though he is 3 months old, he is about the size of a 1-month-old because he is malnourished. His grandmother has only been able to give him maize meal (very fine corn meal powder) and water, which is obviously very bad for his tiny stomach. 

I heard about this baby a few days ago after Hannah went to visit with her, so Hannah and I first went to the store to buy bottles and formula and then took them down to their tiny mud hut.  I made him a bottle, and taught the grandma how to make it with boiled water and the right quantities. At first he didn't drink, and I got to wondering how long it would take him to get his sucking reflex back, since I don't know if he was ever breastfed at all.  We sat there for a while with the bottle in his mouth while I tried to squeeze some of the formula onto his tongue. I decided I needed to start praying for this little man. No sooner did I say, "Lord, please let him remember how to suck, and allow him to start drinking . . ." then he started gulping down the formula, and of course I started crying. 

Getting baby Isaiah to take a bottle for the first time!
The Grandma informed us that the name he was given was not a good name and she needed to rename him. I suggested Isaiah 'cause it was the first thing that came to my mind, and Hannah loved it, so now I guess his name is Isaiah. :-) 

He has bumps all over his body that we can't identify, and he also has 2 stitches in his shoulder that have been there for several weeks. The grandma told us that he was pushed by his mother when he was newborn, and he got cut. They were able to get him stitched, but now she can't afford to get them removed. We will take him to Sister Freda's tomorrow to get a full checkup and get the stitches out. 

Feeding her Grandson with his new bottle . . .  happy Grandma!

Monday, May 23, 2011

We're out . . .

I bet you thought you'd be reading about cool things like lions, tigers, giraffe, water buffalo, maybe some amazing ministry with street children, medical clinics under mango trees, or African cuisine? Well, it's coming, I promise. But for now, you're stuck hearing about our adventures in trying to educate our children in a 3rd-world country.

I've had a lot of advice, encouragement and prayer in the last week, and for that, I'm grateful to you all. I haven't even replied to several messages, partly b/c of poor internet this week, and mostly because I was totally overwhelmed and exhausted. But thank you for your support and prayers. God has been so gracious in carrying us through this journey of faith and surrender.

Here's the low down: apparently when Kenyan schools say "we don't use corporal punishment in our school," it's code for, "we do whatever we want and we have no accountability to anyone, and we're just telling you what you want to hear because you're white." I know I sound extreme, but it's pretty accurate. In the last 2 weeks, we've been lied to three times about "policy", our children have been threatened, Kenya was hit with a book, and finally on Friday little Howie was hit with a ruler across his back. Game over. Our kids are officially school-less again. Is that a word?

We're going to the school tomorrow to let them know we are not pleased with the situation (I'm sure they'll be very torn up), and to request a refund of the school fees for the term, which was approximately $300. Please pray that they issue a refund! We've been told that they will probably be reluctant to give us our money back.

We've been traveling this journey with another mzungu (white) family here in Kitale, which has been a total blessing. We enrolled our children at the same time, and pulled them out at the same time too! In the process, our kids have made new friends, and so have Howie and I, and we're grateful. I can't imagine having to go through this by myself, without having another American mom to call and say, "what do we do?!" God always provides; in this case, it was another family to walk this unknown road with us.

In case you're wondering about the kids, they're doing great. They didn't enjoy their experience, but they know that they're safe and loved, and they were very happy and relieved when we announced to them that they would not have to return.

So now, we're praying about the next step. We're totally open to homeschooling and always have been, but it's a different animal here on the compound. We live with 15 people and in 3 weeks, it will be 35 people. It's not quite the "quiet home environment" that we would have if we were homeschooling in America. We're praying right now for an American teacher or tutor to come and help us educate our children. We know that there are a lot of people in the States who elect to teach overseas for a year or two. If you know such a person, or you are such a person, we'd love to talk to you! You can email us directly at

That's all for now. I've promised my sweet mother that I would blog about food, and given the recent situation, it seems like a nice departure in topic. Mom: Chapati, Ugali, Chips Masala and Samosas, comin' right up.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Still dazed.

It has been 1 week since the kids started school at Greenfield Academy in Kitale, Kenya; one of the hardest weeks of my life as a mom. 

I'm too tired to try to be witty, too upset to say something thoughtful or profound. I'll just say this: please pray! There have been some fairly serious issues that have arisen, and it's causing us to wonder if we should now pull our children out of the school. I'm frustrated, to say the least.

Howie and I are going to talk with the principal in the morning, and based on her response, and lots and lots of prayer, we will make a decision on whether or not to leave our children enrolled at the school. Thank you for praying with us!

I promise I will update about ministry, life, food, rain, mud, and cute children after the "school storm" has passed. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

School Daze

My children have been on vacaction since we arrived here in Kenya, which has been almost exactly 2 months. We came with no plans . . . no curriculum, no teacher, no idea what we were going to do to educate our children. I know, I know--nice planning on my part. We actually had a small notion that we might attempt to put our children into a local academy here, but I quickly dismissed that idea when we arrived (for various reasons that aren't important), opting instead to venture into the dark, scary, overwhelming and misunderstood world of home schooling. 

So, I'm going to teach my children. At home. Me. Except, I'm not a teacher. And we have a very small home that we share with 6 college students and 3 Rwandans. Oh, and also, I have no curriculum. Also, I have other ministry obligations that I need to fulfill during the day. Also, I have to cook and clean. And oh yeah, did I mention that my children are TOTALLY resistant to learning from me? Sassy, whiney, compaining, frustrated, irritable . . . and so are the kids.  So after a few weeks of contemplating, praying, planning, and attempting to give a few placement tests to the kids, I've decided to give up. 

I have numerous friends and family members who are amazing home school moms. They teach their children diligently everyday. Their children are wonderful, bright, educated, and happy. I can hear all of those women in my head: "Amy, you could do it! You'd be great! I'll help you! It's not that hard!" To those sentiments, I would say, you're too kind, and mostly wrong. 

After a lot of prayer and research, Howie and I have (mostly) decided to enroll our children in Greenfield Academy in Kitale. Just writing those words makes my heart speed up, but there it is. We've taken the kids there for a tour, and they all seem mostly excited. It's a good school with nice teachers, good curriculum, and very sweet kids. I NEVER thought I would put my children in a school in a 3rd-world country, but here I am . . . feeling like my options are limited, my well is dry, and my heart is trusting that God has better plans for my children than I know, and that He will take care of them every moment of the day. I mean, you can't die from going to a new school, right?!

Do I feel like a failure? Yeah, a little. I wish I had the time, direction, space, desire, temperment and know-how to teach my own children. I wish I was one of "those" moms who I envy for being so great at, well, everything. I'm not. 

So here I am, getting ready to enroll our children in a school that will possibly be the biggest adjustment and change that they've ever experienced. But we're trusting God. We'd love to have your prayers. Pray for peace for me, Howie and the kids. Pray that God would allow them a ridiculously cool experience as they meet new friends, learn, grow, and are stretched. 

Did I mention that there were monkeys on the roof of the school when we toured? They don't have that in America!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Shoes for Souls!

I have to give a BIG thank you to my friend and Kenya's former Kindergarten teacher, Sue Jeffer, at Desert Willow Elementary School.  She championed the cause for children here in Kenya to get shoes on their feet. Desert Willow students and teachers raised over $300.00 for shoes!!

The shoes we buy will help protect children from thorns, rocks, cold, mud, and most importantly, the jiggers that can get into their feet, cause pain, infection, and for some extreme cases, death.

As a part of the fundraising effort at their school, our friend Jason made a terrific video with Howie & Kenya. Thank you Jason!  If you haven't seen the video yet, click here:

Shoes for Souls

Thanks so much to those of you who contributed, and for making a difference. We have now raised over $700 for shoes, and will start the first phase of purchasing and distributing shoes next week. We will post updates and pictures soon.

If you'd still like to contribute, you can click the "Donate" button on this page. All donations are made to "Reaching Beyond Ourselves", and are all tax-deductible. Receipts are generated at the end of the year.

On behalf of the children of Kitale and surrounding areas, Asante Sana!!  Thank you SOOO much!!

For Him,
Amy & family