Thursday, December 31, 2009

Merry Christmas from TAWV!!!

Christmas Presents!!

There were many out takes like these trying to get a good picture...but I thought this one was just funny! The boys did not want to cooperate bc they were so excited about their books! Miriam my little theatric was like "C'mon!!!!"
Neema is impossible in group photos...

Monday, December 21, 2009


We have become really close to our house girl. She not only cleans our house but also watches Neema three days a week...we love her! This Sunday her son was confirmed in their church and she graciously invited us to come. It was all in kiswahili so much of it had to be translated for me but at one point, 4 or 5 people started going up on stage. I asked her daughter Esther if they were being honored for something. Well, it turns out they had for whatever reason been "kicked out" out of church for the last two weeks and this week the church was welcoming them back. I don't know why they had been asked to 'take a break' but it seemed the church all knew. I was thinking to that is pretty intense. In my head, I was thinking I probably would never come back to a church if I got kicked out and the whole congregation knew why...But then the coolest thing happened...some of the church elders surrounded the people and the pastor asked the whole church to pray for them. And for about 5 minutes I looked around and watched in awe as the entire church audibly lifted their voices to God on behalf of these people. To see the grace and love on their faces as they prayed and their hands lifted in reverence to a holy and merciful king it was actually really amazing. By the end of it, I wanted to go to the front of the stage and have them all praying for me! Even though I couldnt understand everything, I love African church! The singing, the dancing, the pure worship.....Afterward, we went back to Jemima's house to celebrate Benjamin's big day. She made traditional celebration dish of pilau and veggies...with soda!!! It was a lovely day and I love taking part in the African culture. Congratulations to you Benjamin! :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

just a little Christmas treat

My babies are all talented dancers....

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

where is the Line?

So this is just really something I have been struggling with lately and I thought I would put it to paper. (or blog...whatever.) Something that has always amazed me about Africa is how everyone helps each other. If someone does not have food they just go eat at a neighbors house and then later when they are able they in turn provide something for their neighbor when they are in need. You see people sleeping up to six people in one bed because their family or friends have no place to go. You hear of entire villages contributing money when someone passes away. I have been awe of this way of life so much in fact it's what inspired the name of my organization. It is easy to stand back and admire the life that some people live. But what happens when God asks you to quit simply being "in awe"....but to move in the direction of whatever it is that you see in that person that moves you. Because of adopting my little girl, Neema, I have come to know many people in her village and many more know me. People know me as having taken in not just Neema but now they see how I am helping Jumanne, Rehema, Miriam, and Fabien. People approach me or Vincent all the time about helping them with their own children, friends children, or simply themselves. They see me in my car, they see Neema in nice clothes, they see the FOUR going to school. They see opportunity in me. But I can't help everyone, that is what I have to tell myself ALL THE TIME...but then again, can I do more than I do? The answer has got to be yes. I think we can all do more than we think we can. We can all be stretched a little more, we can all sacrifice a little more. But where do we draw the line? This question has been nagging at me for weeks now! Neema's uncle has no job, he did not go to secondary school, and though he has tried cannot seem to find consistent work. (To put a little in perspective about the typical African wage - he recently climbed Kilimanjaro as a porter for NINE days; climbing the worlds highest free standing mountain carrying an oversized bag on his head- again for NINE days and made less than $25) Over the past few months I have helped him with his rent and the other day he came to me as his rent was due again. I found myself faced with a predicament. In my world, this was just not a good time. It's December and I have a lot of expenses this month, Christmas, adoption fees, my own rent, etc. So my initial response was to tell him I couldn't do it this time. But then I began to wonder where will he go? And so many people depend on him. In this culture, family is life insurance. I'm not sure why the burden has fallen all on Calvin as he has no job to support even himself, but for whatever reason his grandfather, cousin, and uncle all lean on him for food, medicine, school fees, whatever the needs...I do have the $100 to get him through the next three months but $100 would also go a long way for the FOUR. And its half my budget for food for Neema and me in a month. There are so many places it can go. Lead me Jesus....where do we draw the line between being wise stewards of our finances and GIVING freely because we have freely RECIEVED?!

In Africa, sometimes you come across problems because the people don't always know how to plan ahead with their money, they don't know how to save. But is this ALL bad? They don't hoard. They don't know how to be selfish. As I was discussing this issue with Vincent about whether or not to give the money to Calvin, he just said "If you have it, give it." It was just so simple. Is $100 going to put me out? No. But even if it was, im still not sure I shouldn't give it anyway. Aren't we called to serve the 'least of these'? Do I take in more children and just trust God to provide? Or do I continue to trust in my own devices? My hope and prayer this Christmas is that we can all learn to just let go a little of our own sense of understanding. And out of reverence and obedience GIVE even when it's scary or maybe even hurts. Then the King will say, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me...."

Search your heart....ask Jesus where the line is for you. I am asking Him the same thing everyday.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sorry its been a few days! Sometimes I feel so exhausted by my fantastic life and then I read the blogs of people with four, five, six kids and I think hmm I need to pull it together! But then again, I live in Africa. J I can play that card, right? But seriously…my favorite internet cafĂ© (favorite because it’s the only one under $5 an hour that actually works) has been closed down for some reason. I am desperately trying to figure out how to get internet at my house, but its so expensive! I think Vincent might have found me a deal, so if it works out, communication will become a whole lot easier for me. In addition, my car windows have an ongoing condition where they keep getting stuck. Either I roll them down and they get stuck which is not so good in Arusha during Christmas time where thieves are rampant! Not to mention the short rains are here. If you came to my house, you may find my car covered in a big green and white striped shower curtain covering it from consistent downpour. Then if they get stuck while they are up in the middle of the day, I think im seriously going to suffocate. Yeah the air conditioner definitely doesn’t work. Poor Neema and Pray the other day, I looked in the back seat and they both had sweat dripping down their faces. Bless ‘em. So ill be making my THIRD trip to the garage today where I must try my level best to explain in Swahili that they are STILL broken! So that will consume my whole afternoon. Not exciting. In between trips to the garage, I have been on an endless wild goose hunts for whatever my bushmen guards are currently in need of. I love them but man oh man are they needy! “Mama, natakasucari, mafuta, mboga, dawa, etc.” (Mama, I want sugar, oil, vegetables, medicine, etc.) Always something! But they literally never leave the house unprotected, so it’s the least I can do. The fact that I am often buying the same things for Mama Kimaro at the TAWV house has helped because now I have been trying to just do one BIG shop once a month….ill get it down eventually.

This week I took Jumanne, Rehema, Miriam, and Fabien to the school they will be attending in January…HOPE NURSERY AND PRIMARY SCHOOL! It is very close to their house and it’s an up and coming private school in the area. It is not as big and showy as some of the other schools I visited, but the Headmaster really won me over. He seems to have a sincere interest in the well-being of the children. I visited a couple of the classes with him and I could tell that he interacted with the classes on a regular basis. The children were extremely responsive when I spoke to them, and even 1st and 2nd grade were speaking English exceptionally. Im so excited for my kiddos! I wish they could start TOMORROW! But for now they are enjoying their Holiday, playing football (soccer) outside, helping ‘Bibi’ (Mama K) cook, and waiting for my blue Suzuki to pull up in hopes they will get to come on some outing! J

Recently there was an Islamic Holiday here known as Ed, there are 2 Eds a year, and this one was to celebrate the lives of those of have already passed away. As three of my four babies come from Muslim families, they wanted to celebrate Ed. So Bibi made them a traditional celebration dish known as pilau (spiced rice with meat) and they got to each have a soda. (A Fanta orange in a bottle - Always a special treat!) Then that afternoon, I thought it might be nice to take them home to surprise their families and let them celebrate the Holiday with their siblings and neighbors where they got to eat again with some of the village elders. They were tickled pink!

I of course would never deny them a celebration of a Holiday they have grown up celebrating but it is so important to us that they hear the good news of Jesus Christ! The other day I went for a visit and Jumanne had gone to prayer time with Bibi – I love that! He just wanted to go. He really loves church and at 8 years old I think he is beginning to ‘get it.’ Its so fun to see the scales literally like falling off his little eyes. J I can’t wait until they learn English! Or until my brain expands and I can finally become fluent, and we can talk about how GOOD He really is!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Buriel

November 26

I went to the service of Kelvin Andrea (the boy with the burns) yesterday. We arrived around 10am to their home where a large tent had somehow been set up out of a tarp, some tree limbs, and a bucket. I saw people sitting on broken down benches and writing in a book. Vincent told me it was a donation book that they were passing around in order to pay for all the service fees. The family was able to pull together 70,000TSH (1,000 shillings is a little less than a dollar) The village raised 100,000TSH and they needed 40,000TSH more to cover everything. (mortuary fee, casket,  sodas, food, etc.) When the book was handed to me I looked inside to see a long list of names by each name was the amount the person had contributed and across from each name read amounts like 1,000 or 1,500 a couple of 2,000 amounts. But because so many people gave, those amounts had added up to over 100,000TSH. It was such an amazing example of how when everyone gives a little it adds up to a lot! And these small amounts (in my eyes) were probably actually big sacrifices to some of these villagers.  Sacrificial giving…this is a concept that God has really been laying on my heart lately.  Not only with my money but with my time, with my life. I had never met this little boy, I don’t know his family, but I soon discovered that during occasions such as these, the men stay outside and the women inside. After making my contribution I was taken inside to express my sympathy to Kelvin’s mother and female relatives and friends. I was then told to sit there inside with them. I didn’t want to. I didn’t know a single person and I didn’t know how long I would have to be there. And I didnt understand anything anyone was saying. I knew I would have to sit there until one of the boys came to get me. It was awkward and uncomfortable but this was about being Jesus to these people who have never met me. God has brought me to Africa to be His hands and feet. And with that comes a responsibility, a responsibility to get over my own comforts.  So I sat on the floor in this dingy little room on the only cushion in the house because they insisted I should have the best place. There was the mother who was lying stretched out on the floor surrounded by three of what I guess to be her best friends kneeling around her. Then I sat next to a very elderly woman whose toes were covered in something black. I couldn’t tell if it was caked on dirt from walking a few miles to get here or if she too had been badly burned at some point and they were just cooked off. With my limited understanding of Kiswahili I sat and listened as the mother cried and explained to me how it happened. And then we all just sat in mourning, no one said anything for awhile until another mama came in and poured everyone some chai. I couldn’t help but wonder what that was like for the mother of Kelvin to watch the pot of boiling hot chai with no lid being cooked over an open fire knowing that was how she lost her baby.  But we all just drank in silence no one wanting to acknowledge the irony.

I know everyone was wondering who I was and why I was there. I wanted to tell them and to explain I had heard about Kelvin and his burns and how I wanted him to see these European doctors and how I wish I could have done more, but just none of it mattered anymore. He was gone. And there was nothing I could say to ease that pain. In Judaism there is a tradition called "sitting shiva" and basically it means after a death the immediate family gathers in the home of the deceased to receive visitors. Its a time of grieving and mourning and that was all I could do. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

update on last post....

On Monday morning (the day we were going to the hospital) I got a telephone call from the village telling me the boy with the burns had passed away. I could not believe it. I laid in my bed just in tears with the feeling that maybe I should have done something sooner. Could he have been saved? I don't know I guess the burns were just too much for his little body. I don't understand, im sad but He gives and takes away and my heart will choose to say BLESSED BE HIS NAME! 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blessed Be Your Name

I am exhausted today. It has been one of those days that are just long…I was going to pick up the kids at 9:30am for church and we were actually doing pretty well on time, Neema and I, locking up the house around 9:15 when one of my guards started pointing at my rear left tire. It was completely flat. Don’t ask me how people from the bush who have rarely even seen cars know how to change a flat but they helped and we were back on the road. Late, but nevertheless on our way. When I got to the house the children were still in their pajamas as there had been a mix up on the time because Swahili time and American time is different. This often happens and I should have been more clear with sweet Mama Kimaro. So we are postponed again. But by 10:15 we finally arrive at church. Me and my brood. We walk in and they are singing “Blessed Be Your Name.” I am so happy to have finally arrived and as I see Jumanne carrying Neema and I have Miriam on one hand and Fabien on the other with clean clothes on their backs and food in their bellies I relish in the verse “when the world is all its meant to be…Blessed be your name!”
We sang and danced, drank hot chocolate and ate mondazis (African donuts) and then they went to Sunday school. They don’t understand much because my church is all English, but I discovered today they just like to come with me because they get free food! Because when I went to pick them up again this afternoon to take them back to their relatives for a visit I found that they had gone to church again! Since they didn’t understand anything at Vineyard, they wanted to go to Kiswahili Church. This is not enough that 4 children under 10 actually want to go to church twice but with the exception of Fabby, they all come from Muslim families. So to come live in Christian home, be exposed to church, and learn all about Jesus is an awesome opportunity to witness to their families and neighbors and they are truly loving hearing more and more about this man who would die for them! Blessed be your Name!

A conversation we had in the car today translated by Vincent, one of Neema’s uncles and my partner in this Takes A Whole Village house, went something like this. Through him I told them I can’t wait for them to go to school and learn English so we can talk to each other. Jumanne said he was going to try to learn so fast because he had so much he wants to talk to me about. Vincent stressed to him that this was his opportunity to learn and to take advantage of it. Rehema said she too wanted to learn. And then cute little Miriam said “I cant say anything in English!” But Vincent said they are so eager to learn so we can all communicate. I’m also desperately trying to learn Swahili so I can speak to them in their own language and its coming but ever so pole pole (slowly). I figure they will learn a lot more quickly than I, so im waiting on them.  Probably so American of me to expect them to just learn English…
After dropping them at home and experiencing such a day of rich blessings with them, I came across a couple of situations that were not so wonderful. First, I was introduced to this tiny boy who was in raggedy clothes and filthy. Apparently he has a twin sister and they just roam the streets all day long looking for money and food. Their parents are alcoholics and not only refuse to take responsibility for them, but they are also beaten and starved. I asked how old he was and was expecting him to say like 4 or 5 but he told me he was 8 years old. I was shocked. Jumanne’s age but he looked more like Fabien. He has obviously not developed at a normal rate most likely due to malnutrition and possibly exposure to drugs and alcohol when his mother was pregnant. His twin was not there but I would be interested to see what she looked like and how she was doing. Oh how I wish I could provide homes for more of these children im constantly meeting but as of now I must continue doing my best for these four.
Next, there is a 4 year old boy who pulled a pot of boiling chai down on himself severely burning is whole left side including his face. He is at the hospital but his parents cant afford the medication needed for reducing his pain much less any procedure which could prevent the skin from growing together improperly. Fortunately, I happen to know a girl coming from Norway at the end of this month and she is bringing with her a group of doctors who work on third degree or worse burn victims. They already have over 30 operations lined up, but I am going to go and take this baby boy to see them tomorrow and see if they can squeeze in an appointment for him to see one of the physicians. It is so hard to see these children in such pain and no one being able to help. Either they can’t help because of finances or addictions or maybe because they are just so tired of living the hard life they don’t care, but these are helpless children who must endure the pain. But I remember… “Blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering…..”and I just have to choose to trust him. For we know that He is good. His sovereignty remains. All of that being said, I believe it is our obligation to do what we can. To do our part. What are we doing to contribute to the Body of Christ? Sometimes we can become so comfortable in our own realities that we are never brought face to face with such suffering but let me just tell you, it is all around. Not just Tanzania, not just Africa, but everywhere. And in meeting someone’s needs you might just find your own needs being met.

This is sweet Aziza who cries every time we leave her. Today she snuck in the car trying to come with us. I want to take her with me so badly.
Jumanne reunited with his baby sister Umi.
Dropping the kids off at their new house after church.
Rehema, Fabien, Jumanne, and Miriam back in their home village.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

does it get any better than this!?

So yesterday I took Juma, Rehema, Miriam, and Fabien to get some new clothes. We piled into my car and headed to this huge second hand market here in Arusha. They have never seen anything like this! I was amazed at their patience as they waited while I picked out clothes for each one. They were even helping me pick clothes for each other. No one was saying "me me me!!" or "my turn!" They were just happy that the other was getting new stuff. It was beautiful. I can learn so much from them.

I am sad to report that I didnt take my camera. I was so bummed when I realized I had forgotten it. But if you can just imagine the smiles of trying on something new. Maybe the first new thing you have ever had! The first thing that you could call your own. It was those kinds of smiles.

They each got a couple of new pair of pants, some shirts, a sweater, and pajamas! We were there for over an hour and by the time we left all the vendors knew their names and were calling out to them....they felt so special. On the way to the car they all said "Thank you Mama" as they were running and skipping through the rain drizzling from the sky.

I told them that I loved them so very much but these new clothes and their new house and the beds where they sleep are all because of Jesus. That his love for them far exceeds anything I can give them. May they always see Jesus as their Savior...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And they're off.....

Today Jumanne, Rehema, Miriam, and Fabien went to live in their new house with Mama Kimaro. I was so nervous when I went to the village to get them because I did not know how the families would react. Would they be sad? Would they be glad to see them go? Would there be any emotion at all?
When we went to get the boys they told us Jumanne had been ready to go for hours. He was so excited! A few minutes later Fabien walked over in his best outfit, im sure. He was quiet yet poised for the departure. As we walked to pick up Rehema and Miriam other children I have come to know in the village joined us until we had a pack of little followers.
We all met by my car where Rehema and Miriam were dressed in their Sunday dresses and their little coats each with a tiny book bag containing what was most likely their only possessions. It is an exciting beginning for these four, but the moment was bittersweet as some of the other children began crying. At first, I was thinking Oh no, im breaking up families and friends, but then I realized they were not crying for the loss of these children, but they were crying because they were being left behind. It broke my heart to have to leave anyone in the kinds of living situations these innocent children are experiencing on a daily basis. But I know there is only so much I can do and I have to focus on the task God has presented to me and that is first and foremost caring for the four he has entrusted me with.
During the goodbyes, four year old, Fabien walked over to his father and just matter of factly said “im leaving, ill never see you again.” I was quick to correct him and assured him and his father that of course they will see each other again!
As we were pulling away, Jumanne informs me that his mother has told him to now call me ‘mama’ and the other children all agree that they have been told to call me ‘mama’ too. My heart fills with joy but in all honesty, fear sneaks in too. What an incredible responsibility. I am taking these children from the poorest of the poor and to these relatives, it is seen as a promise for a bright future for their children.
Tomorrow we are all going to the big second hand market here in Arusha to buy some new clothes, pajamas, socks, shoes, etc. I will try to post some pictures afterwards of them in their new digs. ☺
Thank you to everyone who purchased an item or simply donated for the benefit of the TAWV children. Your contributions helped us raise enough for all four to start English medium school in January! I know its clichĂ© but God really does work in mysterious ways and I’m in awe of how he continues to encourage me through His grace that I see in all of you! From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Christmas Presents

I am going over to Arusha for ONE WEEK only, and will be bringing back Christmas goodies! Please let me know QUICK if you want to place a specific order (all orders should be emailed by Nov 27th)...if you are not sure, or don't see this in time, I will be buying the scarves, coasters, and stars and will be having some Christmas shows if you want to come have a look. But it's best if you already know, to contact me to ensure you get what you want! I am also bringing home a new shipment of SANDALS for the spring. New Designs and they are so cute!! So get excited! And best of all, as always, ALL proceeds go directly back to these angels.... (

(excerpt from last year)
Christmas is RIGHT AROUND the corner! Please consider purchasing one of these amazing little African gifts for not just Christmas, but maybe birthdays, shower gifts, hostess gifts, anything! All the profits will go to these children pictured below. I am raising money to help them with school fees, food in their tummies, and a roof over their head! Please see previous posts to learn a little about each of them! They are my heart and soul and let them become a part of yours too! If you are interested in an item please just email me at and let me know the details of what you want. I will quickly respond with how you can go about purchasing. Happy Shopping!!!

Miriam (6), Fabien (5), and Jumanne (9)

many varieties of scarves

$20 each

napkin rings $25 for six

These were a favorite item last year. Christmas ornaments (but can be used year round, key chains, home decor, etc.)

$10 each

$5 for five bracelets

little baskets $7 each or three for $20

big baskets $35

Coasters (another favorite) $30 for 6



Introducing Fabien! And I like to call him Fab for short, not to make him sound feminine but because he is FABULOUS! He has the most contagious spirit! He is constantly smiling and just hammin it up for the camera. Does he know he is this delicious?! :)

Fabien's mud hut is right across from Jumanne's. Over time visiting Juma and the girls, I started getting to know Fab and his family and their situation. He is blessed to have both his mother and father still living together along with his older sister and younger brother, plus his mother's 15 year old sister. And I felt like he was doing well because his family was all still in tact. However, over time I felt like the Spirit was telling me, just because he has two parents it doesnt mean he does not need help. There are 6 people living in a tiny hut made compl
etely of mud and rats that run all over the place. The children are not in school and many times do not have enough food. 

It is so hard when you are trying to help people, because you can get trapped by the mindset of I have to help the most desperate ones! But who I am to say who is the most desperate? How can i determine who needs what the most? I have been trying to go against any of my own natural instincts and just go with who Jesus tells me to help. 

So here he is...... 
Fabien (4 years old) 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dinner Party

Friday night I decided to have a little dinner party with soda and spaghetti. The guests included Jumanne, Hadija, Miriam, and Rehema. The children, as usual, were sooo hungry! I bought a crate of soda and they had so much fun picking out which flavors they wanted (Fanta, Sprite, Coke, etc.) It was all they could think about, but I made them wait until we sat down for dinner. Jumanne's favorite thing to do at our house is take a shower. It must be a nice change from cold bucket showers... While he was enjoying the treat of warm water pouring down on him, the girls and I had a photo shoot in my room.

Here are Miriam and Neema singing He's Got the Whole World in his hands...
Miriam rocking the cowboy boots!

The girls just laughing at who knows what...I love this picture

Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor. (Luke 14)

Friday, October 23, 2009


After visiting Jumanne in the village yesterday I was walking back to my car when I was struck in awe by this little girl about 5 years old who ran up to me "How are youuuuu?" she says...she was literally bubbling over in personality and spunk. She was filthy dirty and in clothes that she could have been wearing for days. She had a cut on her face but was smiling from ear to ear. I asked her where she lived and to take me to her mama. When i got to her house all I found was a little old woman washing clothes. She informed me she was her grandmother and had been taking care of Miriam and her sister since they were babies. Their mother left them after their father got sick. Life is hard. Only she is left to care for them. Why do i keep encountering these same situations? Why? What do the futures look like for these babies? The girls are not in school but the grandmother is doing the best she can.

I went back to see Miriam again yesterday. She ran to me and threw her arms around me! I just met this little girl but I'm just as attached as she is. We spoke with her grandmother again and got a little more information. Both her mother and father are alcoholics. The mother left Miriam when she was 5 months old! The father is still around but is usually drunk whenever he comes home. The grandmother is struggling to care for 6 grandchildren on her own.  When I
 left yesterday Miriam chased me to the car and wanted to come with me. I can't believe how willing and desiring these children are to just go with mere strangers. Maybe even at the ages of 4 and 5 years old they realize it may be their only escape....

I am beginning to feel as though if I followed up on every child I find wandering through these villages, I would meet the same situations...its overwhelming. 
Miriam above and her sister Rehema below 
Please look at her sweet little hand on mine...


This is Jumanne. I met him a couple of weeks ago around 8pm outside the grocery store. It was dark and he was all alone. I was getting out of the car when this sweet face looked at me and in swahili he asked me for bread. Unfortunately I see street kids a lot and i never give to them because all it does is perpetuate the problem of begging. But for some reason God granted me His compassion for this boy. I bought him some bread, milk, and water and then insisted we take him back to his village. The next day I went to his home. If you have seen Slumdog Millionaire, that is what you can picture as his house. Complete slums. He is 8 years old and has not seen his father in three years! He lives with his mother who is a street sweeper and his three sisters. Being the only boy he is now the 'man' of the house. He is 8. It is now his responsibility to provide when his mother's $1 a day salary runs out. He is 8. He is in 4th grade but its nearly impossible for him to do any homework in this tiny shack with no electricity, no quiet, no supplies. He would rather be out playing soccer with his friends. He is 8. But his little sisters need baths, they need water to be fetched, their needs to be food. He is 8.

I could not get Jumanne off of my mind and my heart. The situation while there are so many like his was just weighing on me so heavily. There is an African circus in town this month so i decided to take him. We got there had sodas and popcorn and i watched Jumanne more than the show. He was mesmerized by the lights, the sounds, the entertainers. He was clapping and cheering! It was pure delight! After the circus we ran into his two younger sisters at the same grocery store where I met Jumanne. They were filthy dirty as usual and in the same muskybrown clothes I had met them in. We decided to pile them all in my car and take them home for dinner. (we told another kid from the village to tell their mother)

We got home and I couldnt wait to give them all baths! Afterward the water was a murky
brown color. But now they were clean! I smothered them in lotion and pulled out some of Neema's clothes and dressed them in freshness. We then fed them some rice, beans, and veggies and they ate and ate. Jumanne said they had eaten nothing but chai all day. I sting just thinking about it.

On Sunday they showed up at my gate at 7:45am. All four of them. I quickly threw on a pot of coffee (for myself) and started making some oatmeal (for them.) I took them to church and it was a sight. Neema in one arm and Umi in the other (good thing they are little.) Jumanne can read english so he really enjoyed singing the worship songs and Hadija the oldest was good at keeping eye on everyone. They went to sunday school and colored pictures of Jesus and
children. Jumanne wrote on his "Jumanne sitting with Jesus." The morning had been nothing short of complete chaos! Oatmeal everywhere.spilled juice.fighting over toys.getting everyone in the car in time. Getting to church. Getting everyone quiet for prayer. But my heart was overflowing with love.

After we dropped them off at the village and I walked in my door I took in a deep breath. But then I missed the crazy.
Jumanne, Aziza, and Umi on the street where I found them.

The babies at my house for dinner after baths!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Government Schools

The other day I went on a tour of some of the local schools and I couldn't believe what I saw and learned. When I walked into a class room of the primary school in the village Neema was born, there were three rows of desks all practically touching each other. I asked the teacher how many students were in this class. She told me 60...SIXTY?! For one teacher. 

Then I learned that many teachers at the government schools are "high school drop-outs." When a student fails at school they are often sent to teacher colleges as an alternative and then sent out to teach primary kids. They are suppose to be teaching these children english but they don't know it themselves much less other subjects. When students have a question or need help, the teacher is unable to guide them leaving only the brightest of bright children with much hope of their own advancement. 

Volunteers and child sponsorship are our biggest ways to generate money for food, clothes, and teachers salaries. LOHADA wants to make sure we are able to continue paying the qualified teachers that we have. 

Thanks for reading!! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bye Bye Baba (Dad)

I am sad to say that my dad has returned home. Our African adventure is over....for now. We had the greatest time! Many people wanted to know if we went on safari or climbed Kilimanjaro but the truth is we just did not have time! But my dad really got to see the best of Africa...the hearts of the people. We spent time in the village, visited several orphanages, went to two different churches, attended a Young Life club and just really embraced the people of Arusha.

One day we visited the home of my friend Calvin’s grandfather. He is probably in his eighties and lives in this tiny mud hut no bigger than most our walk-in closets. With four of us in there, he couldn’t close the door. He was cooking his lunch (maize and veggies) on an open stove. He spoke very little english but it was one of our absolute favorite memories. We prayed over his house and just spent some time with him. It might seem awkward to sit with someone in silence when you dont speak the same language but it’s not. Jesus totally fills the gap.

Another one of my favorite memories was when Calvin and his friend Vincent cooked dinner for us. We hiked around the village to gather all of the ingredients...avocados, bananas, rice, tomatoes, peas....yummmm. Then we went home and the two boys in their young twenties prepared for us a delicious african meal. Just as we were about to sit and eat there was a blackout....TIA. So we lit some candles and gathered around the small table and feasted in the dark. In Africa, its typically better to be home before dark or at least don’t be traveling on foot. However, this night the dinner went a little later than expected and there was no easy way for a taxi to get to us so we had to walk home. This meant traversing through rocky dirt roads, crossing a river, and hiking a path all the way back to the main road via the the little light our cell phones could provide. After dinner we prayed for safety and off we went...But as soon as we stepped outside I felt like I was in a was not nearly as dark as I feared. The Lord had lit the sky so brightly with the moon and stars it was amazing. My little heart was so content and full of wonder. I looked around and Calvin and my dad were holding hands (a sign of friendship in Tanzania) Neema was on the shoulders of Calvin’s best friend Vincent and I was just taking it all in. It was a moment of God’s faithfulness and his beauty...not just the surroundings which were magnificent, but of the bonding in true brother and sisterhood...relationships forming that will last into the Kingdom. 

Neema, Vincent, me, and Calvin

On Dad’s second to last day we had the opportunity to go and hear our friend Jennifer give her testimony to a group of Tanzanians at New Life Bible College. We arrived around 10am and in the parking lot all we heard was a chorus of voices singing! By the sound of it i imagined it to be around 1,000 people. Brother Paul asked my dad if he was ready to see Angels singing...when we walked in it was only about 150 people but they were singing and dancing their little hearts out! I had chill bumps all over and I looked at Jennifer who had tears in her eyes....we both knew we had just entered into a Holy place. We made our way down front and I was just mesmerized by the praise and worship. Clapping, dancing, hands held high, heads bowed in reverence, eyes to the sky, hearts in complete surrender. I wish I could describe this experience better, but God was there and He is indescribable. At the end Neema (who has obviously been to African church with her relatives) shouted “Hallelujah!” and everyone laughed and shouted back “Amen!!!!” When she realized she got such a response she kept on shouting “Hallelujahhhhhh” and then they would say back “Amen!” This went on three or four times and it was so funny!! 

Anyway, my dad and I had many many incredible moments like the ones mentioned above but these were just a few highlights. I am so thankful that he got a true glimpse of why I love this place. He truly experienced the Holy Spirit and was moved by the hearts of those who have little yet give so much! 
This week I have started work at Lohada and boy do I have my work cut out for me! Today the all the adaptors were missing, the computer caught a virus and just keeps turning on and off, and the printer wouldn’t work. We could not find pants to fit one of the children so he just runs around holding his pants up, and two days ago a little boy about four years old was just dropped off at our gate. His feet are deformed as they did not develop properly and he has open wounds all over his head. But he is safe now and his tummy is full so we are thankful for that. We are understaffed and need volunteers desperately but where we are weak He is strong!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Africa Time....

One thing I love about Africa is no one is in a really makes the day seem longer. I cant believe we have only been here 4 days we have already done so much! Wednesday morning we of course went and visited baby Neema in her village and lets just say she is not a baby anymore! She is talking so much!!! Its all swahili so who knows what she talks about all day but she doesnt seem to mind that I dont understand her. I took her with me to dinner at Alexis and Jacqui's house and we had so much fun as they were able to translate everthing for me. She is actually really witty apparently. She is doing really well, and im so happy to be with her.

We have visited Lohada and met the director and we plan to go to the second campus which is where the school is located next week. We have also already been out to Cradle of Love to see those babies and it was amazing to see how they too have grown so much! it was so fun to see all the sweet nannies who i had grown so attached to! The new infant facility is done and there were so many preemie infants, very tiny and sick. It made me so sad.

Last night Dad and I went to a restaurant called Blue Heron to see some of my friends from church play guitar and drums. It was a big reunion among a lot of our friends from last fall. It was so good to see everyone again. Life in Arusha is wonderful. The weather is perfect (about 70), the people are so lovely, and the Spirit is alive and well here!

I hope you all are doing great! I miss you!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Back to Africa....

It is Wednesday. The last few days have been a blur. I have been running around trying to get everything ready for another 6 month (ish) stint in Tanzania! I am thrilled because my dad is coming with me for the first 2 1/2 weeks and he has never been to Africa! We leave on Monday May 18th! It is a very exciting time as I know he too will fall in love with the culture and her people. I cannot wait to introduce him to this place where I have been absolutely captivated. :) 

When he leaves I will then go on to work with a Tanzanian organization called LOHADA. There are several projects within LOHADA: an orphanage, a school, a family rehabilitation program, and a program that supports the elderly. In addition to helping out with the daily needs of the children, running supplies back and forth between campuses, and filling general gaps, my main role will be to serve as the volunteer coordinator. Volunteers are one of the main ways LOHADA generates income and there are many great needs among the children and families. 

As summer approaches, if you are a high school or college student or maybe someone who is jobless at the time, please look into coming and working at Lohada for a few weeks/months. We will set you up with a Tanzanian family and provide all of your meals and perhaps take a day or two for safari! If you are interested, want more details or know someone who might be please contact me at

I am extremely excited to return to African soil and continue partnering with orphanages in the hope of connecting more people to the heart of Jesus. Thanks for reading and more updates to come soon!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

just a little dose of perspective......

Pint of Beer $4.50
50 liters of fresh water $1.50

Handbag $32
Food for a week $4

Aftershave $35
Basics for new home $6.50

Sunglasses $24
Access to water $8

Thursday, April 2, 2009

King of Kings

The Gospel of John has always been my favorite book of the Bible. I have to say that I recently noticed something I never have before. (I love how no matter how many times you read Scripture, there is always something to learn as it is God's living word!) But I read something recently that I just found to be really encouraging. Not only does Jesus tell his disciples that when he ascends into Heaven that they will do miracles greater than He, but even when he was with them He let them take part in His miracles. 

When Jesus turned the water to wine in Chapter 2, he could have just said the word or blinked his eyes and it would have instantly been wine....but no, he said to his servants, "Fill the jars with water." The people got to take part in his miracle.

Later in Chapter 6 when Jesus fed the 5000, he could have given all of the instructions and fed everyone himself miraculously placing food in front of each person, but no he told his disciples, "have the people sit down." When everyone had all had enough to eat he again said to them "gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." The disciples did not just stand there and watch, they were an active part of Jesus provision. 

God does not need us for His purposes, he is the King of Kings. He created the Earth and everything in it. It all belongs to Him. But how awesome that our Maker wants us to be a part of his story. He has not changed he is still performing miracles all the time and I think he longs for us to trust him enough to be a part of His glory! I hope you feel inspired to get with Jesus and do the "impossible"!! :)  

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mother May I?

Over the the last few months I have felt a bit like my life has been "on pause" or "in a time of preparation." I am working at a job I know is temporary, living at home with my parents, and in constant thought and prayer about the future. The emotions one experiences in a time such as this run from sky high to deep lonely lows. In preparing for my next steps back to Africa, I have often felt like I am in the middle of the game "Mother May I?" There have been times where I have taken leaps forward, but only to then be met with two steps backward. Then another few hops ahead oh wait take two ballerina turns the opposite direction. I wish I had been able to blog about all the ups and downs I have faced, but the truth is I have been trying to be intentional about keeping this journey private. As I seek the Lord and His will for me, I have found it best to minimize the number of voices that will try to compete with His. With that being said, I do have a great group of precious people in my life who I do go to for wisdom and counsel. People who truly know my heart and who I know are committed to praying for the will of God and are not going to only tell me what I want to hear. In John 10:4 it says "His sheep follow him because they know his voice." God speaks to me in many ways, but one of them is through these dear brothers and sisters who love me and hold me accountable. 

 A revelation I have recently realized is that living out these days until I get back to Africa is not living at all and it is not what God would have me do. I love Africa and I have a heart for the children there, but that should not be my life's passion. My ministry is every second of every day no matter where I am. I am called to LOVE. I am humbled as I am constantly renewed and restored by his grace. I am reminded that I cannot fully comprehend his greatness. Be careful because when you start to think you have got it figured out, he will peel away what we think he wants from us only to draw us into a deeper more intimate relationship with him. That is what I think is happening to me. During this time in Atlanta, I believe he is teaching me to surrender to Him in every area of my life.  I love how Jesus is constantly molding me, shaping me, and teaching me to be more like Him.  

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tin Roofs to Tin Lizzys

For the past few weeks I have been working at Tin Lizzys trying to make some money before I head back to Africa. First, can I just say that I think everyone should have to work in the service industry at at least one point in their life?! I look at restaurants so differently now. It has been a lot of fun but at times very stressful! I have learned a lot about people and how specific they can be about what they want. "Extra this...." "Hold that...." "Bring this on the side...." And unless you want to embark on World War Three you better keep the diet cokes coming! 
Working in the restaurant business has been quite eye-opening. It's just a little bit different than ministry. :) Often I find myself in the kitchen with the mexican cooks and cleaning staff. They bring me back to my heart for the Lord. They, like the people in Africa, are so unassuming and so humbling to be around. 
Jose is our main cook, his wife Dalia buses the tables, his younger brother Chava is the second cook, and Dalia's nephew, Dario also helps in the kitchen. When we speak to them in English, they respond in Spanish, so communication is fair at best. But I find that I connect with them the most. There is just something to be said about having to relate with people in ways other than talking. 
The four of them along with Jose and Dalia's three year old son Jonathan all live in one apartment. They came to the US three years ago for a "better life" but when I ask them if they like America- they tell me they would rather be at home in Mexico. Why is it that these people who come from places like Africa and Mexico where there is nothing and no opportunity want so badly to go back? 
Chava is 17 years old, he has made it to America, he could build his whole life here, achieve the American dream...but he longs to go back. Why? Maybe because he left behind his parents, ten brothers and sisters, and a community that despite their own desperate situation reaches out to those whose somehow appears worse. Perhaps Chava, who has come from a place that hasn't smothered him in lies and false images that money and stuff brings happiness, sees something that we so often don't and that is the importance of family and togetherness. 
His small family here is never together at the same time because when one of them is not working then the other one must be. They work hard and often but not for themselves, they send the little money they make back to Mexico to help support those who are most important to them. They have the least glamorous jobs: cooking, washing dishes, bussing messy extra food left on tables, yet they are the least likely to get irritated or frustrated. They simply go about their job, setting us up to do ours better. They inspire me and help me to remember what is real. 

"Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." 
Mark 10:43-45    

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Step by sweet step

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. 
Psalm 119:105

This verse speaks volumes to me right now. God has been so faithful in directing my steps these past few weeks. He is opening doors and closing doors and affirming me in the direction I should go. I am so incredibly thankful. I have to say that though some closed doors have brought heartache, I have to be grateful that God has answered my prayer. If I truly want to follow Him and surrender my personal desires, than I have to be prepared to accept his authority over my life. I have to trade my tears for the hope of His plan which is greater than any plan I can devise on my own. Sometimes it gets hard because I become impatient and want to know immediately the outcome of certain situations, but it is in these days, weeks, months of waiting that I am trying to grow into a woman of wisdom and patience. I want to become more like my African friends who rely on Him for their every need. They rely on Him when they see Him and when they don't. I also want to always remember to be grateful. Today I am especially grateful for: 

God's sovereignty

faithful prayer warriors

financial provision

health and protection

and an amazing Shepherd who has divine goodness and mercy throughout my life and forever!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lead me to the Cross

This past weekend I went to the lake with some of my best friends from college. A couple of times one of my friends noticed that I seemed more quiet and reserved since coming back from Africa. She was right, I have actually recognized it about myself as well. But the truth is, I have just had so much on my heart lately. Over the last few weeks, I have found myself faced down before God just praying for His wisdom and for his guidance in my life. I so desperately want His will and not my own, however when faced with such life altering decisions, sometimes its hard to differentiate His voice among the numerous voices surrounding me. Especially when certain voices are those with whom I have a great deal of respect. 

What do you do when God may be asking you to do something that seems crazy maybe even irrational by worldly standards? It is really hard...lately there have been a lot of questions, a lot of tears, and uncertainty but if I sit with it long enough I hear "Trust Me...." And isn't this how we were designed to live? Constantly on our knees, looking to him, seeking His will, and searching for our security in Him alone? I know why I don't put myself in these positions more often...because it is scary and uncomfortable to not know how things are going to turn out. But the reality of it is, no matter how cushioned I think I am...I still don't know how things are going to turn out!  So why am I scared? Jesus says throughout scripture "Do not be afraid." 

So I cling to the fact that I am His...and it's not about me, everything is about Him. He will make my paths straight as long as I am keeping my eyes on Him. I know that He loves me and has a plan for me. What an awesome God that he reveals Himself in His time not to frustrate or worry me but because He longs for a relationship with me. He wants me to trust Him so that he can just be who He is...the Mighty King of all creation! 

So when I'm tired, confused, lonely or lost, its often because im trying to live out of my own flesh. God lets me fight those little battles to remind me of my need for Him....He leads me to the Cross where my soul finds rest...