Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Favorite Family

Maybe I'm not supposed to have a favorite, but I can't help it. I've been wanting to write about this family for months. There are 4 children who have captured the hearts of almost every person who has visited our compound: Elizabeth, Hezekiah, Dan & Esther. I absolutely adore them. 

These children live right down the street from us in a one room mud hut. They live with their mom Agnetta, and until recently, their dad. I'm told their dad has moved to Eldoret, which is about a one-hour drive away. We don't know if he has left them, or if he is just there working to get money to support them. This family literally has NOTHING, but they are always ready to greet us with big hugs and smiles. Whenever we visit, the kids usually just run and scream, with varied versions of tag/tackle/tickle. 

Buddies: Kenya, Elizabeth, Mya, Isaiah & Hezekiah
I did a home visit at their home last summer with a local social worker and one of our students, Bridget. We talked to them about their most immediate needs, and tried to educate them on the importance of washing as often as possible to avoid spreading disease and illness. The mother was receptive, but very quiet. Then Bridget and I went back and took soap, bathed the children, and put new clothes on them. They loved it. 

Elizabeth in a new shirt from Kenya's closet. 

Bridget giving Dan his bath. He was freeeeeeezing, but he never stopped smiling. 

Elizabeth sporting her whole new outfit.

Esther in her new shirt from Mya, with her mommy, Agnetta

Dan & Hezekiah after their baths, in their new clothes.
We found out a few weeks after that initial visit that Agnetta is pregnant with her 5th child. Here's what we're told about their ages: Agnetta is about 23. Elizabeth is 8, Hezekiah is 4, Dan is 3 and Esther is 1. As I type, baby #5 is due. I just saw Agnetta today and she looked like she was harboring a beach ball under her dress. 

I remember feeling overwhelmed when I was having my 4th child. I already had three to take care of, and it was a lot. BUT, I had running water. And food. And a washing machine and dryer. And diapers and wipes. And friends offering to help. And a loving husband who took on most of the work when the baby was born. 

What do you do when your husband is gone, you are due any day with your 5th child, you have no food, no diapers, and only running water on certain days? 

I'm dumbfounded. How can this be ok? How is it fair? Why did I have it so easy, and Agnetta has such an immeasurably hard life? Why are my children clean and well fed and her children are filthy and always hungry? Why do I have a husband who loves me and provides for our family, and she has a husband who abandoned her?

These questions will plague me for the rest of my life. I can't save them. I can't change anything for them long-term. But if I want to live my life in service to people, without constant feelings of hopelessness, then I have to trust that God's hand is on them. I have to trust in God's grace. I have to trust that the Creator of the Universe will have His Glory.

"I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy." Psalm 140:12

I will continue to help them and visit them until our return to the States, at which time my heart will break in two. Will you pray for this precious family with me? I will put out an update when the new baby arrives! 

Thanks for reading. 
For Him, 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Water Babies

We're so fortunate to have a place here where the kids can swim.  I have to slather everyone with sunscreen like I'm frosting a cake 'cause you sizzle like bacon when you live on the equator. 

What's with all the food references?  I'd better start a food blog . . .  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sustainable Living

My concern for Sarah as of late has been that she and Ruth (her caregiver) will be able to get food and continue living and eating well after I've left. I've told them that I'm returning to the States and that Ruth needs to find some sort of work because I cannot support them long-term. However, jobs are pretty hard to come by in the slums. 

We've decided to start a business for them so that they can live and eat for years to come without having to rely on someone else. Of course we will supplement funds from the U.S. as needed, but I don't want them to rely on us for monthly support. It's better if they can do it on their own. 

The great thing about "starting a business" in a slum in Kenya is that you don't need to tell anyone. Meaning, you don't need to get a license, or ask for permission, or pay any fees. You just start selling. Maize is one of the main commodities in Kenya, and is very cheap right now. We will buy Ruth a 50 kg. bag of maize to start selling in a few months when maize is harder to find and becomes more expensive. Until then, she can begin selling the charcoal that we are also going to buy for them. Charcoal is also a big commodity, and everyone needs it or they can't cook or boil water. Can you imagine having to rely on charcoal for all of your heating needs? Most of us just flip a dial on our stoves to heat things, or better yet, poke the buttons on our microwave. But here in the slums of Kitale there are no dials or buttons. You have to buy charcoal or find wood. 

We have spent all of the funds that we have received for Sarah, which was about $300. We spent $150 on her hospital bill (which was only 1/3 of what she owed) and the other $150 on her rent and getting her house ready, beds, mattresses, household items and food. So now that we'd like to start a business for her, we have to use more of our own support money. 

BUT, God did what He always does, and this morning we received $50 from some friends who wanted to help Sarah. That is almost exactly what we needed to buy her maize and charcoal. God is good. All the time. He knows our needs even before we do. He is always steps ahead of us. Good. Faithful. Loving. All-knowing. 

"He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea. 
Let this be written for a future generation, 
that a people not yet created may praise the Lord . . ." Psalm 102:17-18

Thank you!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day On The Farm

We had the privilege of spending last Saturday with our good friends Fandi and Mercy and their children Jesse and Petra out on the dairy farm where they live and work. She dries flowers, is an artist, and works for the dairy farm owner. He runs a guest house on the farm and is currently refurbishing several buildings for people to stay. Their life is charming. 

These are the kind of people that just pull you into their world and instantly make you feel like family. A darling farm house, lots of tree climbing, a looooong walk through most of their property, and a nice leisurely lunch. I didn't want to leave. The farm is in Kiminini, only about 20 minutes from Kitale town, but I felt like I was a world away . . . 

The farm house!

Mya in the kitchen door.

The BEST climbing tree EVER

Hangin' out

Howie napping.

Tree hugger. 

The view from their back porch of my 2 favorite Kenyan trees--
the African Tulip Tree (also called a Fire Tree), and the Acacia.

Jesse letting Isaiah test out his bike

Afternoon walk

We found a BIG moth on our walk!

The Dads with their girls who were too tired to walk. :-)

Jumping off the pile of manure. Seriously.


These trees were amazing and HUGE

Some of their calves.

Jesse & Kenya . . . they walked together the whole time. 

2 silly peas in a pod

Monday, October 10, 2011

Movin' Day . . .

. . . for Sarah!  Overall it was a great day. There were a few minor road blocks, and she was a little confused at times--asking me several times where we were going and why, but once we arrived at her new home, she was very happy. 

She's a bit of a diva. Once in her home, she started asking, "Where's my food? Where's my soap?" But she also kept saying "be blessed" to me in Swahili. I don't know all of Sarah's story, but I think that she has probably never really felt loved or cared for. My prayer is that she feels it now. Ruth, who is living with her and caring for her loves Jesus, and will remind Sarah daily how much she is  loved by God and by others. 

Thank you to those of you who have been praying for Sarah, and who have donated toward her new house and hospital bills. We were able to pay part of her bill, 3 months rent for her new house, buy 2 beds and mattresses, and all the other necessities for living. 

Picking her up from Freda's hospital. 

Sarah with some of the staff who have cared for her for the last 3 months.

Saying goodbye to Sister Freda.

Happy to be going home!
L to R - Patricia, who has been organizing everything for us, Juliette (my daughter, helper, translator), Sarah, Hannah (my daughter, helper, translator), Ruth--who will be Sarah's caretaker.

On her new bed eating her lunch. She wanted chips. :-) 

Pretty tired after the long move. Testing out her new bed. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Jingle Bells and Tax Deductions

Believe it or not, Christmas is less than 12 weeks away, and Hannukah even sooner. I know, some of you don't like me for saying that. Some of you still have to make handmade cards for 75 people, sew, knit or crochet for all of the children in your life, or go get the dreaded family portraits taken in time for mailing cards by Thanksgiving. I'm sorry. If you're like me, you'll use any excuse to get out of doing some of that. This year, my excuse is that I've been in Africa. Not sure what I'll do next year. 

We would love nothing more than to be home for Christmas with our friends and families. Our time in Kenya has come to a close, and since we're planning to return to the States anyway, we'd love to be home in time for Christmas. 

Right now, that doesn't look like it's going to happen. 

We simply don't have the funds. We're not trying to tug at your heartstrings or make you feel sorry for us--just trying to give a realistic update. In order to get home in time, we need to buy our tickets in the next 3-4 weeks. That doesn't leave a whole lot of time to raise over $4,000. 

We've had to raise a lot of money over the past year, and God has been faithful as He always is. We're not afraid--not stressed out. Simply asking for help, and we'll let God do the rest. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." 
-Proverbs 3:5-6

With Christmas approaching, it's also the end of the year, and you know what that means--Uncle Sam wants all your money. If you'd like to help us--even for the simple reason that you'll need more tax deductions before the end of the year--we would be grateful. 

Donations may be made via PayPal by clicking the yellow "Donate" button to the right. If you'd rather mail a check, they can be made out to "Reaching Beyond Ourselves" and mailed to: The Biemecks, P.O. Box 71023, Phoenix, AZ 85050. Please do not write "Reaching Beyond Ourselves" on the outer envelope as this is our private P.O. box and will only be delivered to our family name. 

Thanks for reading, praying, giving, helping, supporting--whatever led you to this blog, thank you! Our work here is not done yet, and we're anxiously anticipating all that God will do up until the moment we leave. 

For Him, 
Howie, Amy & kids

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Golfin' Man . . .

I was going to entitle this post "My Little Tiger" but that just doesn't have the same nice ring  that it used to. "My Little Arnold Palmer" just doesn't flow either.  Bottom line, Little Howie is golfing! 

We have the privilege of being able to golf and swim at the Kitale Club, just down the street from our house.  Big Howie has been golfing in numerous tournaments on Saturdays (and doing very well), and last Sat, Little Howie entered his first tourney in the Juniors category, and won!! Ok, there were only 3 Jr.'s, but still a great accomplishment for his first tourney. He has been taking golf lessons for the last few months--a luxury that we could never afford in the States, but is surprisingly cheap here, and has been very effective in teaching him the game. He loves it. Here are some pics from his first tourney. I'm sure we will be sending these into ESPN in a few years when he wins his first PGA tourney. Ok, a mother can dream . . . 

Ready for practice

British breakfast before his first tourney. Eggs, bacon & tea.

18th hole. 

Bringin' it home.