August 19, 2014

THE BEAT OF THE DRUM



Falling asleep to the beat of the drum. 

Waking up to the rhythmic chanting of men, women, and children parading through the streetsafter partying all night. 



If I had to choose one month a year to leave Kenya, it would be now.

August is the official circumcision season in Kenya, specifically in the area I live in which is in Western Kenya. (Bukusuland) Young boys between the ages of 12-14 years old prepare themselves for one of the most respected and popular occasions around this time of year. Not only is circumcision a debatable matter to begin with, but this “right of passage to become a man,” takes it to a whole new level when I read that the knife used for one boy can be used for ten others! Chances are high that some viruses including HIV could be easily transmitted from one child to another. The Bukusu style of circumcision has been very controversial, and many Christians and other religions see it as being pure evil. The night before a boy is to be initiated is packed with excessive drinking, and smoking pot. Women socialize freely with men, and even married women commit adultery on this day because the culture allows it. Reportedly, in any given season, at least 20 school aged girls will get pregnant in a village.

According to Bukusu oral tradition, this all began because of the bravest man who ever lived named Mwiabwa Mango. Centuries ago he single-handedly killed a serpent that had been terrorizing the Bukusu village. When asked what could be done for his commemoration, he demanded his foreskin be removed. And ever since, Mango decreed that in order for a young man to become an adult he must undergo circumcision.

I will end with sharing an unusual news article that I read from the Kenyan Daily Post. Basically 12 men underwent forceful circumcision this month, after their wives were gossiping in the community about their husbands personal matters. The men, mostly drivers, were circumcised in the middle of the road with no option of anesthesia. These men were all given Sh. 3,000 for treatment and meals to heal faster. (I assume from the local authorities, the article did not say.) Meanwhile, over 50 uncircumcised men living in that area are all camping out at the police station.

I must admit that this tradition disturbs me greatly, and I ask that prayers be lifted up for this country. It also makes me realize, that if any culture does something enough, after time, it can easily become the norm.

With Love,

Natasha

August 17, 2014

THE MAMA DIARIES 1

Last week, I posted on Facebook that we would be having some temporary house guests coming to stay with us for about a month. Well folks, they have moved in. Mama Abigail is an 18 year old teen mom, who has suffered from cerebral malaria. (Cerebral malaria is a severe form of malaria that can result in major neuropsychiatric symptoms and even death.) She has two children, Abigail (3 year old girl), and Aliyah ( 2 year old boy) who were both severely malnourished when we first meet them. Initially their grandmother brought them to our home clinic because they were sick, and for about a month now they have been receiving local medical treatment as well as refeeding treatment. The hospital nutritionist has recommended 4 weeks of supervision before they go back home. We need to make sure the babies are getting continued nourishment, as well as physical therapy to help stimulate them, and help them walk. 

In the past, mama Abigail has been suspected of drinking the children’s refeeding mixture because it started running out to fast, and I’ve noticed that she can eat, and eat, and eat and never seems to be full. The first night she was here, we had a few table scrapes set aside that we were going to bring out to the compost. She came into the kitchen, and ate them all. This leads me to believe that she has probably experienced starvation and neglect in her life. Maybe she grew up not knowing where and when she would get her next meal. So when she has food in front of her, she will consume it, until nothing is left. This time together will not just be healing for the children, but hopefully for the mama as well. This truly is like a child development class. Showing her how to change diapers, wipe the babies, bathe the babies, play with and cuddle the babies. We are starting at the beginning, and it has had it’s challenges.


“Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and from inside he shall answer and say, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 
"I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.  And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.” Luke 11:5-9

When I read this passage in Luke, I felt like I could relate to the neighbor who did not want to be bothered at midnight. 'I’m in bed, my kids are in bed… please, just keep your children quite until the morning, I can not operate on no sleep.' Wow. What an ugly thought to have… but every night since mama Abigail has been here I’ve had that thought multiple times. It should not be a burden to care for the least of these. But at times, it can certainly feel that way. Jesus goes on to tell us in that chapter that if a father is asked by his son for a fish, he certainly would not give him a snake instead. If we know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more shall our father give of the Holy Spirit to those who ask. So why have I not been asking for more of the Holy Spirit?! I can not live up to the standard Christ calls me to, trying to do it in my own strength. My mind and body have limits, and this pregnant mama needs rest! But, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!

But, you know what? Mama Abigail has never been shown how to comfort a crying baby at night. She is just as tired as I am. So, she just lays there and let’s the baby cry all night. The first night she was at our house, when the youngest baby cried, she just shook him, as he was lying down thinking it would help. Multiple times she had to be shown how to hold her child tenderly in her arms, and sway him back and forth. She has also been shown how to give her children a bedtime, and how to establish a nighttime routine with them. Finally allowing her children to have an afternoon nap (which she was strongly opposed to in the beginning) has also been a great success. At first, Aliyah would just cry so she would pick him up and let him have his way. But he has responded amazingly to his mother holding him, rocking him, and then laying him down. Then mama gets to shower, wash clothes, and have a couple hours of time for herself, which she loves. (But I make sure they are up by 3:30pm so they sleep at night) Last night, at about two or three in the morning, again Aliyah was crying pretty bad. So I had to peel myself out of bed, after listening to him cry for I don’t even know how long, :) and she was taught that at night, sometimes a baby gets a soiled diaper and you need to change it. So we did a diaper change, gave the baby some gripe water, and I had her hold him in her arms on their bed and rock him for 5-10 minutes. He slept pretty good after that. (I’ll go ahead and mention that homes here do not have ceilings on any room, just walls, and doors. The bedroom Charlton and I have is the only room in the house with a ceiling.)

Have you ever realized you were “trying” to operate in your own strength? 

I’ve been allowing Satan to steal my joy! Why? Because I have not been persistently asking my Father, and seeking the Holy Spirit. I’ve been allowing the continual criticism from others, lack of sleep, preparations for the day, and making sure everyone is fed, healthy, and happy to wear me down a bit. Not anymore, I will not give up joy. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We need to be striving for these fruits, we need to be asking for these fruits… and when the tests and trials come, we need to be operating in these fruits. 

With Love,

Natasha

July 15, 2014

MZUNGU, MZUNGU HOW ARE YOU?!

Mzungu (pronounced [m’zungu]) - A Swahili word meaning a white person.

Everywhere we go, children will scream at us… how are you mzungu, or wazungu (pl)?! So, how have these wazungus been doing?

I thought it would be fun to share some stories, and post some photos of our sweet little watoto (children). I’m sure all of our friends and family would like to know how they have been, and what mischief they have gotten into. :) And after all, they are apart of this mission too… and at the risk of sounding biased, they are the cutest part of my mission. 




Every single morning, I am awakened by this little nugget asking me what I am making for dinner. And when she says dinner, what she really means is breakfast! Ava loves helping me cook in the kitchen! Or as she likes to say, “I’m helping momma make.”  It is very sweet, but keep in mind that she is only three. So sometimes she gets very frustrated at her lack of coordination and skill. And as her frustration level rises, so does mine! But, I am so thankful to be training this beautiful little girl of mine up to be a worker at home. I think being around all the Carrier girls is also growing her desire to help in the kitchen. 



This is Deborah, or as we like to call her, “Mama Deborah.” This young lady can cook a full meal, and run the kitchen all by herself. How many nine year olds can you say that about? 

Speaking of meals, I think some of you may be wondering how we do meals around here. Well, I cook breakfast and lunch for my family and then we eat dinner with the Carriers. Mondays, and Saturdays we have family night, so we eat separate. On Tuesdays I cook the meal, and Cindy cooks Wednesday-Friday. She said it is more fair that way because their family is double the size of ours. On Sunday evenings, we have a love feast before communion with the church.

Now, trying to keep these children clean for meals, is another story.





We had a boar hole dug out when we first moved here, for dry season. We share a well with the Carriers, but when the rains stop and the well water starts to decrees we will need another water source. Needless to say, the children loved having a giant dirt mound right outside their front door! Not only did Boaz love playing in it, and bathing himself in it, but he also enjoyed eating it… much to my distress I assure you! Boys naturally love dirt. Which brings me to my next story. 



One evening after a rain shower, I allowed the children to go outside to play.
(They love the freedom of being able to run around outside, and having a yard with a swing set has been great.) They seemed perfectly content, and were playing nicely so I went inside to finish up on some household work. I believe it was Deborah or Jubilee that came to get me saying that Boaz was playing in a mud puddle. So I went outside to check on him, and he just had his feet in the mud and seemed to be having so much fun, I told the girls he was fine and I went back inside to warm some bath water for him. Well, wouldn’t ya know… this boy was not satisfied with just squishing his toes in the mud, he decided to have a full mud bath! When I went back outside and saw the state he was in, all I could do was laugh! He was just too cute! After all, the damage was already done, might as well enjoy the moment too.

I love my boy, so mischievous, yet so innocent all at the same time. :)



Our family has so many things to be thankful for. Having a thankful heart is something that we really want to instill in our children. So, one night at dinner I posed a question to my family, and the Carrier Family. I asked everyone what they thought about making a “Thankful Box.” This would be a box we have sitting out during the year, whenever someone does, or says anything that touches our heart we write it down on a piece of paper and put it in the box.

"I am thankful for…”

Then on Thanksgiving we will open the box, and read the notes inside. Now, this is not my original idea. I actually heard about a family doing this last year at the congregation we attended… so thanks for the idea! All of our children seemed really excited about this little project, and they did an excellent job decorating our box.  We did all the decorating at the Carriers, since the children have such nice craft supplies. And I made some homemade pretzels to share, after all, we did have a little party on our hands.











I am going to go ahead and give you a sneak peak on something that I am putting in the thankful box. I am thankful that Jonah (13) is fearless when it comes to bugs, and creepy, crawlies. Not only that, he is willing to help whenever his skills are needed. Well, we recently had a bat flying around our house late at night. We called the Carriers to see if they had a net, before we knew it, Jonah ran over with a net and seconds later he was climbing on our roof trusses trying to capture our culprit. Between Charlton and Jonah, the bat was safely captured and released outside. Meanwhile, I was screaming and hiding under a cushion, and Boaz was huddled with his Nana because I scared him with my screaming! lol It was a sight, and Ava’s face says it all.






Ava has also been quite the little missionary herself. A few days ago, she went with her daddy to deliver a large bag full of food to a widow in our community. Charlton is the go-to guy when it comes to widow care. CAM (Christian Aid Ministries) has supplied food packages for widows, as well as a small amount of money to help assist them. We received these parcels from our friends in Kisumu, who work closely with CAM. Charlton’s job is to do a home visit of every widow that is in need of assistances. Then, once he has discerned that they are truly a widow in need of help, he fills out paper work with them, and then gives them this one time love gift. Some of the widows he has visited are in very bad conditions, and we are in talks on how to best help them and support them further.




The physically needs in this area are great.  The last few pictures are of a widow that was brought to us last week. She has a great need, her need is not just for food but her feet are infested with jiggers. We will have a local brother in Christ assist Wanda, Charlton, and myself by showing us how to remove jiggers from this woman’s feet.





God is so great, and He truly is taking care of His children through the body of Christ. The amount of love and support we have received is truly awe-inspiring.  

“So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one…” 1 Corinthians 3:7-8

With Love and Oneness,

Natasha