Friday, September 5, 2014

Update and Prayer Requests

Hujambo Rafikis!  August has been an interesting month of…


Saying good bye to the last of our summer visitors…
We completely enjoyed these friends and family that brought us yummy treats, sweet fellowship and much needed assistance.  It’s hard to say goodbye but we’re praying some will return in January, Lord willing.

 

 Pursuing adoption procedures full force since our three-year residency requirement 
is fulfilled… 
We’ve known little man, who was abandoned as a baby, since he was three; he turned five last May and has lived with us full time since Christmas.  We are FINALLY collecting the remainder of our documents and planning to travel to Nairobi as soon as possible.  There we’ll meet with the agency and apply for our “good conduct certificate” (which pretty much means we haven’t broken any laws while living in Kenya.) PLEASE continue to pray that this laborious process remain uncomplicated and timely.  Family permanency in the life of a little one is priceless.

 

Finding a decent “local international” school for all three kids to attend and not loose our sanity in the process...
Certainly the most trying conundrum we’ve experienced while living here.  Kids’ education is important.  Since ours were adopted from USA child welfare, we have to yearly prove they are enrolled in school.  Finding a school that meets our needs, our standards (for academics and safety), and wouldn’t financially bankrupt us… well, it’s been… nicely put – DIFFICULT! Trying to meet teachers and see classrooms in two schools took over a week. Suffice to say, the kids started school! YEAH JESUS!  They seem happy and here’s the bonus - they can come home for lunch daily and we aren’t bankrupt! 



Continuing ministry with the widowed/single mamas…
After the school hunting fiasco, we can somewhat relate to what our mamas deal with when searching for a school their children can attend.

We survived the following process:
We paid application fees to the bank which meant standing in line for an hour; then back to the school to stand in line for another hour so we could speak with the headmaster; when we finally received the acceptance note, we had to pay tuition which meant another trip back to the bank and another hour in line; we returned to the school yet again and stood in line to present the bank slip to the headmaster; then we stood in line to collect the course books.

After all that, we headed back into town to, guess what? Yep. Stand in line to order uniforms where a polite argument ensued with the sales person because we didn’t want the uniforms to fit the kids exactly.  We wanted them a little large so we wouldn't have to do this ordering uniform thing again during the school year because the kids will grow out of the “fine-fitting” uniforms. We won the polite argument. We gathered our uniform shirts, shorts, skits, blazers, socks, shoes and paid our bill.  We’ll need to return in a day or five to pick up some of the “larger” items because they were not in stock. We’ll probably have to stand in line. We finally drove home to sort books and iron all the uniforms. 
Ugh. But it’s a grateful Ugh.  Thanks to all who prayed us through.

Although finding a school was cumbersome, time-consuming and made us slightly “testy,” it was relatively easy compared to what the widowed/single mamas endure to find a school. Overall, the various school administrators treated us quite courteously. We were highly welcomed to attend any school we chose. But our mamas and their children are not so readily welcomed.  Here’s Anne’s story…


The sun peeks over the sad slum called Abunga casting shadows through the cracked door.  Anne wakes early and sets cold ugali on the stool for the children to eat after they return from collecting jerry cans of water.  Anne starts out, walking to the matatu stage to find a ride into town. She’ll use precious shillings on public transport to take her to schools where she’ll strive to present her oldest son as a good candidate for admission. He’s bright, scored well on his 8th year finals. 

Each administrator throws her the same lame response of uncertainty. The last one looks down his long prejudiced nose, starring at her torn cloth shoe.  She tries to hide her foot behind the other and shows him her son’s grades. The man doesn’t make a commitment; he offers a vague, “Maybe. Come back tomorrow.”  But Anne knows she can’t.  She has a small business to run and hungry children to feed, a cooking fire to tend, water to gather, clothes to hand wash and hang.  As she leaves the school office, the third one that day, she looks up to see rain clouds have gathered; large drops start to fall. She thinks of her laundry on the fence next to her tin house that leaks. Anne feels heaven crying her own sadness.  
“Maybe.” She consoles herself. “Maybe tomorrow. Yes Lord. Let my tomorrow come.”

PRAISE JESUS. Anne’s son was admitted to a good school but the fees set her back. She’s in debt.  We made contact with a relief ministry that provides food packages and 800ksh stipend ($9.75).  We’re praying Anne can relocate in a better house and continue her prepared foods business.

Mama Josephine carries the 25 kilo package home on her head.
 If you are impressed to help any of our mamas with overwhelming school fees, please make a donation on the sidebar and include a note: "for the mamas." Please pray for them to find good schools and earn enough money to cover the ever-rising expenses of education.

Breaking news prayer request – As I write this, our dear friend and co-laborer in Christ, George has been hospitalized. George is a huge part of the ministry here, especially with the Kajulu village mamas and evangelistic water project. He suddenly began experiencing severe seizures. He was unconscious in the hospital while doctors threatened to strike.  Currently he’s stabilized and undergoing testing.  Please pray for healing.


Ephesians 4:16 “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”  We truly appreciate your willingness to help us do this special work so we all grow together in His love.

Asante sana for your encouragement, prayers and support.
hugs from the haugers Ooo0o

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bananas and Rainbows

  Bananas and Rainbows

Sounds like a children’s book title, huh?  It’s not.

We live in a hard place. You’ve probably read our posts that describe the violence, the poverty, the corruption, the constant strain of want and bombarding requests for help. Yes. We are called to this. But, calling isn’t easy and grace doesn’t include comfortable convenience. Some days, living on the edge of the slum, moving with poor women, we deal with personal problems so foreign to our “American minds” that I must gulp, swallow my complaints and simply choose to sing.

Lately, we’ve wondered what it might be like to not raise the 5 year old who’s been a part of us for three years now.  We’ve struggled with limited opportunities on where and how to educate our kids. Gouging gasoline prices, skyrocketing food costs, daily concerns about security… All these trials threaten to steal my peace, and silence the joy of service.

It’s times like this that I ALWAYS find Jesus moving in the shadows of small blessings. , like He’s teasing a game of hide and seek, inviting me to play, to laugh, to be brave because He’s there, right there, even in the midst of tenuous uncertainty.

There was a day so difficult I couldn’t restrain the sad tears welling in me. That was the day I saw the Lord in the surprise of bananas and the glory of a rainbow.

Mind you, bananas are fairly common here but none seemed to grow on the tree we planted over a year ago. Our second Christmas tree, not more than 3 feet high in the pot was transferred to the yard and grew in crazy measures, standing taller than our almost 6 foot son, but no bananas. Not a one.
Despite nursing it to bear fruit, nothing came of our efforts. I gave up.

Weeks later, there they were, like an overnight birth – bananas!


That same evening, after ministering a day of crisis to faith-filled solutions, the ride home found us following a brilliant rainbow – uncommon beauty in shantytown. We laughed, dancing in the evening’s glorious glow.


I realize these blessings might not sound like much compared to miracle healings or dramatic deliverance, amazing testimonies we’ve also experienced here. But when Jesus shows up in those small, small things - like bananas and rainbows - His intimate presence invades difficulties and coaxes my grateful smile.

Although we see Him in the profound, what small things will you see God in today?

Asante sana for your encouragement, support and prayers.
 hugs from the haugers Ooo0o

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

3 Years Remembering...



















I keep journals. They are filled with thoughts and prayers hidden between enclosed pages, not for public viewing but also not to be forgotten. I pulled a worn striped spiral out the other day; the one I’ve keep with my dreams of Africa.

For years, I harbored an unrealistic desire that someday, maybe God would open the way for my family to live among the least and offer opportunity for their hopes to come true. I literally longed for the day I would sit in the midst of widowed, single, abused mamas who needed help to keep their children. I was haunted by images of orphans, sickly and alone, crying for their family. What was I to do? 

A heavy burden saddled me, but I, myself, felt like a burden. Using a wheelchair, experiencing profound weakness and with two children adopted as toddlers, I couldn’t see how we would do it – live on the mission field of Kenya among the poor to bring them something useful.  Good thing this vision didn’t rely on me.  It didn’t rely on me because it wasn’t from me.  It was from God, and I couldn’t escape it, even when I tried.



As I turned the pages of the worn journal, I’m impressed at how God keep the desire alive. Even in the face of complete opposition and adversity, He always provided a glimmer of light through dear friends who knew my limitations, but also knew God’s amazing power.


So this post is to thank all those who believed and supported and encouraged and prayed and visited and above all, expressed extravagant love to my family as we serve among the least in Kenya.   

The desire went from paper to reality.


  
Remembering all the Lord has done in three years of living in Kenya! It's more than we could have imagined...
  • Widowed mamas have support, classes, skills training and micro finance so they can raise their children.
  • Clean water is accessible with sanitation teaching - a great evangelistic outreach.
  • Orphaned children are loved.
Mungu awabariki sana Rafikis! (God bless you all so much Friends!)

hugs from the haugers Ooo0o

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Checking in...

Wow. We feel like we fell off the grid; so we’re checking in to let you all know all is well.  The days just fly by, ministry intertwining with life. When dinner ends and dishes are washed and everything wiped clean to eliminate ants infestation and we simply want to put our feet up... but no - it’s time to bathe an overly energetic four year old and settle him into bed.  We try not to fall asleep before he does! So, here’s a quick update, praise to God and requests for prayer…

We’re “great full” to all be together and have awesome visitors share sometime with us. Daily blessed to see Becky Thompson’s smil’in face and watch best friends, Gracie and Taleah enjoy each other. 

We also enjoy hosting the lovely Shannon DeBoer whose helpful hands and inquisitiveness fits perfect. The remarkable Casey Crow’s arrival for the third consecutive summer brings joy to our hearts and the Kenyan friends who love her. We just received the next visitor - our amazing niece, Amanda Ward. 

A house full of females might make you wonder, what about the guys? Tavin volunteers at New Life Children’s Home and playing basketball with the youth. He’s a great big brother, watching the world cup with “little man.” Mark keeps active with managing the compound, men’s Bible study and driving us to minister with the widowed mamas and kiddos.


Please pray for the widowed mamas in a rural village, Kajulu Kardero. We 
received a donation to provide water filters for these precious women who serve God 
by caring for orphans in their community.
 


Please pray for the pending adoption of our “little man.” It’s more complicated than doing a 5,000-piece puzzle without the picture or all the pieces!  We’re asking God for favor with the lawyer, judge and the “official paper collecting” process.


Please pray for the DIGGS training and widowed mamas support groups to continue experiencing meaningful spiritual growth and the Sasa Living project that empowers mamas and promotes adoption fundraising.


Please pray for Casey as she ministers to the children at Joyland, initiating programs that reinforce safety from sexual abuse and promotes HIV awareness. It's time for these forgotten children to receive the right to a future of hope. 


Please pray for Shannon as she processes life in Kenya and touches people with her teaching talents. Her thoughtful service is sooo appreciated.

   
Please pray for Amanda who traveled from Sierra Leone to work with us in Kenya. Her experience with international development and sweet spirit are wonderful assets.


Please pray for Becky, who provides us with unlimited assistance, wisdom, and laughter. It's a blessing to share our vision with her.



We are so very grateful for this opportunity to spend quality time with these 
friends and family who refresh us.

Please pray for us as a family to be sensitive to the Lord’s voice and quick to 
follow His guidance that keeps us in perfect peace.


Asante sana for your prayers, support and encouragement.

hugs from the haugers  Ooo0o

Check out the mamas "Two Continent Designs" that help them provide for their children and assists adoptive families with fundraising resources. A win-win solution.  
Visit Among the Least on Facebook.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

How Do You Spell Grateful?

Teaching is a big part of the ministry here in Kenya - from discipling widowed/single mamas, to facilitating instruction for handicapped orphaned kiddos, to speaking on Sundays at our local church.  One day, as we were discussing thankfulness and recording the work the Lord has done in our lives, a young one brought me a paper where this was scratched...

I am great full.
Immediately, we wanted to correct the spelling - "No, it's g. r. a. t. e. f. u. l." but I looked at the words again and saw it...
 great full. 
Yes.  
Our lives are full of greatness.  
Full of great things like nutritious food, clean water, clothing and safe homes.  
Full of great people like supportive family and encouraging friends.
Our lives are full of God's great Spirit, empowering us 
to replace hatred with love, 
to experience glorious joy regardless, 
to surrender self-serving for kindness, 
to be faithful when believing is hard, 
to overcome bad with good,
to disarm anger with gentleness, 
to be patient in waiting, long-suffering with the difficult, and experience peace forever.  
We are full of greatness to share with those who have no hope

Will  you join your great fullness of prayer with ours?

Please pray for relationships with our Kenyan friends to continue to develop into all God has designed, and the ministry to the poor will always find its foundation in the gospel of Jesus Christ.


Please pray for the orphaned children to find their God-ordained destinies.  May they always know they are loved and belong. We welcome donations to help us with educational supplies.


Please pray for the DIGGS training. 31 widowed/single mamas have participated in this program, many are now in business and learning new skills for "SaSa Living"(http://amongtheleast.org/#top).  As a result, children are not given to orphanages; they are raised in their families.  Please pray for a resource center to open and that God keeps using the DIGGS course to change lives. We welcome donations for Luo bibles as requested by the mamas.


Please pray for us as a family.  May God's provision and protection constantly overtake us. May little man's adoption be uncomplicated, and schooling opportunities become available for all three. We welcome donations to help with educational expenses.

Asante sana and don't forget -  
"How do you spell grateful?" 
The Lord might show you a new way.

Love and prayers to you. Let us know your request 
and we will bring it before the throne room with thanksgiving.

hugs from the haugers Ooo0o

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summertime!

Yep. Summertime.  It would surely be a welcomed season if we were living in Pagosa.  Snow melt filling the river for hot afternoon tubing, Big Trains and iced chais with moms on the deck of the local coffee shop, friendly barbeques and toasted marshmallows during soft sunset evenings... hmmm... Ok, I'm digressing.


Summertime in Kenya is not marked by such drastic changes of temperature and activities.  Everything stays about the same.  Kids are not even freed from the confines of classrooms till August. We continue serving, working, studying and playing in the same chaotic routine as usual. The warm African sun merely moves in a more easterly direction. setting a few minutes later, dropping in  glowing splendor beyond the great Lake Victoria's horizon.



The BIGGEST change for us is summertime visitors!!! And we welcome them with anticipation of a child expecting Christmas, especially this year since we won't be traveling back to the States for a few weeks of furlough.  We get busy (or should I say busier) around here rearranging space to accommodate extra beds, hanging mosquito nets, scheduling meetings, organizing transportation and purchasing surplus supplies.  Short term missions brings benefits for us, the community we serve and those who travel to spend a few weeks of their summer exploring another culture so different from their own.


For us...
We get to share our lives with visitors, showing them our favorite places, our favorite people and favorite (and least favorite) foods.  We show them how to lock the security gates and run water through filters. We explain the night time noises, assuring them the backfiring tuktuks are not gunshots (smile).  These visitors become our stateside information guides and our safe place to vent frustrations. The best part of hosting visitors is watching them observe obvious extremes and then, find the place they fit; their blessings become something given, not owned.




For the community...
Here in Kisumu, scriptures interweaves into the landscape where desperate widows still gather vessels for the miraculous oil.  Orphaned children search for belonging and the lonely look for families. The gospel is preached with busy hands and steady feet and sore muscles and sweaty brows. Living it involves everything. Our community welcomes visitors with hugs, smiles and brimming curiosity. Regardless how little they might have, they long for you to partake, enjoy and release yourself like an open tap of clean water.


For our visitors...
As we physically prepare for guests, we also begin praying the influences of Holy Spirit creates radical realities for their pending experiences on this foreign field. Will you join us in prayer?
  • May they find that biblical development work is the manifestation of prophetic  transformations (Psalm 10:12-18, Psalm 68:4-10). 
  • May they participate in stories of deliverance, healing, restoration and celebrate the newness Christ brings out of degradation and corruption (Isaiah 58:6-12, Luke 4:18-19, Matthew 25:37-40).
  • May they know the rich relationships created from adversity because Jesus' blood carries us together - black and white, Kenyan and American - on this journey of forgiveness and faith; futures merge into divine destinies (Jeremiah 29:11).
We know our visitors will carry home more than souvenirs and a good tan.  Their experiences will help mold their worldview, discover God's plans for those who are among the least, and (more often than not), bring them back to  love those who need to know their Creator cares.

Yep!  Summertime!  We're excited!  Wanta come?

Asante sana for all your prayers, support and encouragement.
hugs from the haugers Ooo0o