Sunday, October 19, 2014

Logistics of Separation

Ha. I just noticed this title could be misleading; curious readers might think it’s about mark and I… well, it’s not; but I hope it lures them to keep reading to learn about the plight of waiting orphans and families longing to love them. Below is a history… if you know it, move on to the how to’s of visiting our son who’s now living back in an orphanage (first time I’ve typed this without streaming tears) and managing our two “third culture” teenagers.

We've known Lil Man for almost 3 years, and he's lived full time in our home for the last 9 months. As you know we entered the adoption process.  Well, it seems the orphanage made a BIG mistake placing him with us so early. This premature placement was supposed to be a foster situation but of course, the paper work never materialized.  When our 3-year resident requirement for adoption hit, we started the adoption process.  Soon after, the orphanage informed us that we have to return Lil Man to the orphanage till we are matched with him by the agency, acting like we have not parented him and loose more precious time.

Lil’ Man’s been back at the orphanage for two weeks now.  Our observations…
  • All the care workers tell us how helpful and kind he is now after living with us for 9 months that actually is a mixed blessing because we’re happy with the report but don’t want to see that goodness undone.
  • He eats like an animal again – fists full of carbs like rice or ugali shoved into his mouth none stop, until his cheeks puff like a chipmunk and his eyes blaze greedily.
  • His visits with us are temperamental – easily disturbed by simple changes in activities or locations even if he chooses them. He can giggle and whine within the same few minutes. He ignores us, watches us, comes to us, runs from us – all interspersed on an afternoon visit.
  • He’s afraid of being left behind AGAIN. Very afraid.
With that said, we spend time with him regularly, but it comes at a cost… When he needs us most is when our two other kids need us most - after school, mealtimes and bedtime. The family separation is hard on everyone.

Our teens started a new international school this year filled with different cultures and languages to negotiate. The experience brings joy, lots of questions and the desire to share it with us - Mom and Dad. Their schedules of events require our participation. Homework necessitates our assistance. At the same time, Lil Man is not with us, but needs us - Mom and Dad’s attention and continued instruction… Since we can’t take him out, we must go there, but it’s not a place conducive to intimate family living.

We’re acquiring a few skills in the process of trying to preserve the attachment with our son in a special needs unit of an orphanage (which you can imagine includes every other child vying to be noticed) and being supportive of our teens, (who walk to the orphanage to be with Lil Man whenever they can).

We’re learning to:
  •  Be intentionally thoughtful about our time apart. We cannot afford to do anything haphazardly - based on emotional decisions. We pray continually, asking God where to go, what to do, and we trust our choices are from Him.
  •  Create concrete plans where everyone knows what to expect from all involved. Each family member who can share an opinion about strategy must. We listen and develop a list of who is doing what with intended results.
  • Emphasis balance. It’s easy to think the older kids can fend for themselves and immerse energy in Lil Man’s acute needs. It’s also easy to ignore other responsibilities, but we must remember why we are here and that God’s grace is more than sufficient.
  • Be honest. We all have freedom to cry, ask questions, express our feelings; we choose not to follow those unpredictable emotions. Our assurance is to shadow Holy Spirit’s courage and comfort.
  • Do healthy transitions. Even the shortest goodbyes include hugs and prayers. Life takes too many twists and turns to let someone leave without the reassurance that they are care for, that they belong.

Here we are - separated yet together with Jesus as our focus.  Will you join with us in prayer…
  •     The rash and fever Lil Man is experiencing will disappear.
  •     That healthy attachment will be preserved for us all. 
  •     That God’s wisdom and favor abounds at the Kenya Adoption Authority meeting on      October 29th.
  •      For our family to lean hard into God’s comfort and strength through trials.
  •     That we don’t worry or become anxious but bring all things to the Lord.
We must be hopeful by faith. This experience brings our hearts to the edge an abyss we have no desire to cross but because of the CROSS and the power of the resurrection, we can victoriously. He holds us all.

The adoption of our little one feels like a symbol of God's heart for the fatherless - His desire to redeem, to deliver, to heal and restore.  Only God can find a cast away child, abandoned in a tea field, crippled, without speech and rescue such innocence from certain death. Only God can bring a family from afar and make a way to join them together forever. Only God can establish divine destiny, and He does it through your prayers of great faith.  Thank you for remembering those who are among the least - the forgotten orphans; thank you for welcoming them into God's glorious kingdom by your cries for mercy and grace. Colossians 1:13.

Asante sana for your prayers, support and encouragement.
hugs from the haugers  Ooo0

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Update: Praises and Prayers

Some of you know the difficult trail we’re enduring with our little guy who’s been living with us for 9 months. To avoid lots of painful explanation, let’ simply say we’re in the formal adoption process and since Kenyan law does not allow us to pre-select a child, we had to return little guy to the orphanage till we’re legally approved (yes, much tears shedding).  It seems the powers that be never followed up on foster placement paperwork that would have allowed him to stay with us during the adoption process.  Although Mark ran the 11 flights of stairs regularly to check our foster status, he never saw a social worker. Now, it’s too late. According to the orphanage, we didn’t do anything wrong. It’s a paperwork mistake on the authorities part that’s costing all involved significant heartache. Sounds confusing, eh? Just imagine how baffled we are and how bewildered little guy is… If you want personal updates and ways you can pray for us concerning this, please request them.  It’s not information we want to generally share, but we would truly appreciate intercession on our family's behalf.
Now, because we’re experiencing such hardship, many advise us to take a break from ministry.
On the contrary, we don’t do ministry. We are ministers, and we can’t stop being who we are regardless of life’s ups and downs. Being ministers to the poor in Kenya is our joy. The burdens that come with living here might feel overwhelming, but God’s grace overflows, and it’s a divine distraction from our pain to help others through theirs.

With that said, here’s our update, praise reports and prayer requests…

The Women of Worth (WOW) mamas have started a new project.  With a small donation of funds and resources, they will begin sewing washable sanitary napkins for young girls.  In many developing nations, when a female student has her monthly cycle, she can’t attend school because she does not have proper hygiene supplies.  This constant isolation reflects in bad attendance, weak grades and overall missed learning opportunities. We want to bring a solution to that problem.  After making packages of 7 pads , including a bar of soap and a tract explaining the love of God through Jesus Christ,  WOW mamas will distribute these gifts to needy girls. Bonus?  The mama's receive a fair wage for their labor to help them pay school fees for their children.

Last month we helped facilitate an amazing leadership conference that welcomed pastors from all over Kenya, Uganda and Brundi. We assisted with everything from transport to organizing intercession.  It was refreshing to share teaching on integrity and watch ministers respond to God’s call for holiness.

Always good to make friends with security at a leadership conference.
We also participated in a solemn assembly of recognizing the gifts God has placed in the body of Christ for leadership.  The work we’ve done to equip the church to care for the poor was appreciated – a humbling honor.
Finally, Taleah and Tavin are good overall, exceling in school and joining the mock United Nations program that will being this spring.  Tavin was sponsored to be in the Mater Hospital Heart Run and he came in FIRST!  Yep, that lone runner behind the police escort is Tavin! (2nd photo)

Praise the Lord with us for:
·       Sustained good health for our Kenyan friends and us.
·       Protection from accidents and random acts of violence.
·       Fruitfulness in the lives of the widowed/single mamas.
·       Peace in the midst of spiritual storms.

Please pray with us for:
·       Continued healing in all our hearts during this transition time with little man.
·       The adoption process moves forward, undaunted by complications.
·       The land issues surrounding the church will keep on the path of complete resolution.
·       The shipping container project – wisdom, provision.
·       The least among us will place their trust in Jesus and find hope fulfilled in Him.
      "But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength... because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him 
until that day." 2 Tim.

      Asante sana for your prayers, support and encouragement. 
      May the Lord bless you for your kindness to us.

      hugs from the haugers Ooo0o

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