December 18, 2014

HE WAS SMILING, YET HE WAS DYING

We are absolutely thrilled to officially announce that our first “Forever Family” has been established. God can truly take any dream, and make it a reality. With Him there is nothing that we can’t do.

Our hearts have been broken for orphans and vulnerable children. For years now, our hearts cry has been taking care of the least of these. But the best way we can take care of children, is to live out and teach them about the Kingdom of God. To have a local kingdom minded family from our fellowship step up, and inquire about taking in two children who’s single mother was unfit and unwilling to care for them is huge. They get it. 

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: 
to visit orphans and widows in their affliction,
 and to keep oneself unstained from the world. 
James 1:27

If anyone has been keeping up with my Facebook or previous blog posts, then you will be familiar with the story of Aliyah and Abigail. The 28:19 Call: THE MAMA DIARIES 2 My heart breaks having to report that their mama is still unable to properly care for them. We did our absolute best to see Mama Abigail succeed, and we were hoping and praying for her every step of the way. But Aliyah’s health is in worse shape then before, so to literally save his life a change had to be made. To see an African child's hair white from lack of nourishment is shocking. To find these children caring for themselves, crawling under barb wire and heading towards huge cows is shocking. To get reports from their occupational therapist that they really need to start bathing before their appointments because they reek so bad of urine is shocking. But the thing that shocks me the most, is that a mother can be so willing and actually happy about giving up her children. I think she just reached to point of knowing that she can’t do it on her own. She has love for her children. She misses her children, and this past Sunday at church she even walked miles to visit with them. She wants to be involved, but she knows she can’t properly care for them and give them what they need. We plan on staying in mama Abigail's life, and showing her the love that Christ has shown us. We will continue to share the gospel with her, care for her, and love her. After all, she is still like a child herself.


Before our “Forever Family” came in the picture, our family was wanting to be Aliyah and Abigail's forever family. 




We were ready and willing to bring them into our home as our own. We had a meeting with Mama Abigail, and she was fine with signing over parental rights to us. We also had a meeting with the village chief, and that went interesting-- to say the least. She was really pushing for us to start an orphanage. (That is not the plan, especially here in Kenya. Work permits are only two years long.) The meeting with the chief was anything but fruitful, so I started making some calls. I found out that you actually have to live in Kenya for three years before you can even be considered for adopting a child. I read online that you just have to be a resident for six months… but what you read online, and what the officials tell you are two completely different things. So after we found out that we would not be able to even start the adoption process for another two and a half years we had to switch gears. After much prayer, a brother in Christ named Felix came up to Charlton and inquired about the two children. Telling him that their family wanted to take them in. Totally unsolicited. They had no idea we were asking God to open up a door for these children. 


Ruth and Felix (pictured above) decided to be a forever family for Aliyah and Abigail. They have four biological children of their own who are so sweet, and well behaved. God is doing a tremendous work in this family. 

We have gotten to know this family quite well, and feel confident in their ability to not only care for their children, but Aliyah and Abigail. As a man, Felix is very different then the culture that he comes from. He is very passionate about his family, and caring for his children. The first time Charlton went to see Aliyah and Abigail to assess their situation, Felix went with him. They went with Wanda to the house the children were staying at, and what they saw was astonishing. Felix said that he had never seen such severely malnourished children, and that says a lot considering he has lived in this country his whole life. Felix looked at Aliyah that day, and was taken back. In his words, "he was smiling, yet he was dying." After that day Felix decided to make a change. Even though he thought he did not have much to offer God, he said he wanted to give what he could to help others. Throughout the next several months we kept him updated on the little ones. His wife was recently baptized, and it was not too long after that when they inquired about the children and offering to take them in. When asked why he wanted to take in the children, he quoted this scripture...

"Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 
‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom
 prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 
for I was hungry and you gave Me food; 
I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; 
I was a stranger and you took Me in;
 was naked and you clothed Me; 
I was sick and you visited Me; 
I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying,
 ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, 
or thirsty and give You drink? 
When did we see You a stranger and take You in,
 or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, 
or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to 
one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
Matthew 25:34-40

After much prayer, consideration, and seeking out godly counsel; the children have been placed with Felix's family. The past couple weeks, the children have been thriving. Unable to walk previously, they are now pulling themselves up on furniture, and walking around it by holding on. They are laughing, talking, and even calling Ruth mama, and Felix baba (Swahili for daddy). Their children have also been a major help with Aliyah and Abigail. They are helping them socialize, walk, play and talk. Wanda has also been sending people to their house to teach them how to properly care for malnourished children. Now, the family has faced a few challenges. They have had to start paying a man 15 shillings (about 25 cents) a day to haul clean water from the new village pump we installed, all the way to their house. With Felix working, and Ruth watching three children who can't walk (one being their young biological daughter) she is unable to get water. During rainy season they just collect rain water, but during dry season getting water becomes much more of a challenge. They have also started getting milk delivered to their house, because Aliyah and Abigail have a special diet due to their malnourishment that requires milk everyday. They are a very hard working family. Every night when Felix gets home from work he bathes all the children because they play outside in the dirt with other children during the day and they get quite dirty. Felix has been challenged greatly in his faith, and is so thankful to our Father in heaven for that. He has a special friendship with Charlton as well, since day one they have connected. He recently called Charlton his brother and mentor. Forming these friendships in Kenya has been very uplifting for us as well. It's also so encouraging, and fulfilling seeing God complete a work that he started in us years ago regarding vulnerable children.


We want this family to succeed, so we need prayer for this forever family. Please pray. We have also offered to take some of the kids periodically for the day so Ruth, and Felix can have a break. A brother in Christ from America felt lead to donate some money to help the children. So we are giving Felix an allowance for the next few months to cover the special food the children need, clothing, transport etc. God has provided so beautifully without us ever asking for anything. That is Holy Spirit power!

With Love,

Natasha

December 10, 2014

INDRODUCING HADASSAH FAITH… AND OTHER KISUMU ADVENTURES!



Our Sweet Little Blessing!


On November 13th, 2014 at 6:40 in the morning we welcomed a brand new addition to our family. The much anticipated birth of our third child, Hadassah Faith. She weighed 6 pounds 7 ounces and was about 18 inches long.


We are so thankful, and praise God for our healthy baby girl. Children are such a sweet blessing, and I am truly enjoying the bonding time that we have shared the past few weeks, and I have experienced such joy. Her birth story was pretty dramatic, it is certainly one for the books! But when all is said and done, what I will remember most is all the love that has surrounded our family during this time. The families who have been continually praying for us, all over the world. The sweet sisters who have offered uplifting words of encouragement, advice, and wisdom. And all the delicious meals that have been lovingly prepared for us will always be beautiful memories. Thank you.

Charlton and I have always loved the name Hadassah. Yes, it is an unusual name in the western world. But the name holds such a story, and has such beautiful meaning. Hadassah actually means “myrtle tree.” I read somewhere that man is like a tree of the field. Therefore the righteous are called myrtles, likened to a good tree with a pleasant smell. Not only that, Hadassah is the Hebrew name of Queen Esther in the Bible. An orphan taken in by her uncle, risks it all to serve God and save her people! Wow.

After Ava was born, we decide that if God ever blessed us with another baby girl we would name her Hadassah. We had never met anyone with that name before. But fast forward about four years, and here we are Kenya, pregnant with a baby girl. And wouldn’t you know, we met another missionary family (The Weavers, Marlin+Darla and their eight children) who live in Kenya, who had a baby girl named Hadassah. Little Hadassah Faith Weaver was born on November 21st of last year, she was born with anencephaly. The doctor said she may have had a faint pulse when she was born, but then she went to be with Jesus. Their story moved us deeply, so in honor of Hadassah Faith Weaver, and with Marlin and Darla's blessing, we gave our Hadassah the same middle name as her.  I truly believe that the Lord brought our two families together. We have been so encouraged by Marlin and Darla. The love that they share as a couple, and as a family has been such an inspiration to us. To find out more about their story and journey check out their blog at manyweavers.blogspot.com.

The Weavers are currently serving the Lord in Kisumu, which is about a three or four hour drive from where we live. Kisumu is actually the third largest city in Kenya, and the closest “major” city to us. After checking out a hospital there when we were on a visit, we decided that we wanted to have our baby in Kisumu. The maternity ward was very nice, and very clean! They also seemed to have modern equipment. This decision also allowed us to have much more privacy and family time when the baby was born. So while we were waiting for Hadassah to grace us with her presents, we made some lasting memories as a family, as well as with the Weavers and other families they are serving.

Nothing can capture a memory like a photo. Thought I'd kick off the memory slide show with a couple amazing pictures of Charlton and Marlin. Two peas in a pod. The pictures speak for themselves.







These are some awesome men, taking time out to play with their children.
We enjoyed a beautiful dinner on Lake Victoria while waiting for Hadassah.
The Weavers introduced us to paneer, which is a certain type of cheese, for the first time.
 As Marlin would say, "COME TO PAPA!"


One morning we took a two hour boat ride on Lake Victoria.
This is Hippo Point, we saw many hippos, birds, and other wild life.













These are all fisherman.
They gather here at the fish market, to sell their fish.








We also had the opportunity to visit Impala Sanctuary.
Which is the closest thing to a zoo we have found in Kenya.
It was so much fun, the children loved it!




How cute is this little gang.
These are the two youngest Weavers, Levi and Jacob.
They were all playing lions on the rocks.
Ava cracks me up in this picture!
Ava playing in the trees with some of the missionary children.
Charlton and Marlin cooking up some enchiladas.

Boaz turned two years old while we were in Kisumu.
His birthday is one day before his sisters.




This group reminds me of the Little Rascals!
It was a fun day of playing.
Happy Birthday Boaz!


Boaz showing me the gum one of the children gave him as a gift.
Boaz received a Fire Truck from the Weavers. 
And a tool set from us, which we brought from America.
This is our dog Missy. She is a four month old German Shepherd.
She has been in our family since October. A family from the mission
compound here gave her to us for free. While in Kisumu she got to
hangout with her sister, the Weavers dog, Ramona.
Ava's gift to Boaz was some money and a paper airplane. :)
The Girls: Darla and her beautiful daughter Emily.
Hadassah, Ava, and me a couple days after she was born.













With Love,
Charlton & Natasha