Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015: Thoughts While Waiting

(From Lisa's journal while we wait in Nairobi for adoption paperwork to be completed.)

It’s almost Thanksgiving Day in USA. Mark and I sit in Nairobi Art Café. Conversations in many different languages waft around us. It’s late. Christmas lights blur through the heavy rain, and we want to be home. We long to share this holiday with family and friends, but no. We won’t even be with our kids when Thanksgiving blooms. We’ll be driving across the country toward them to share whatever is available at the market to cook. 
In this, we give thanks.
Tonight, the congested traffic keeps us stalled because the Pope visits this international city. 
Tonight, we sit among Chinese, Arabs, Somalians, so many rural Kenyan dialects we can’t discern. 
We wait. We pray. 
We share with the young woman who sit by herself busy being alone on her phone. 
We watch the burka-covered girl leave with a group of men. 
We read the newspaper - Turkey shoots down a Russian Jet. Tunisia suicide bomb kills 12. 
Our hearts ache.  
But tonight we are thankful to share His truth with those searching.

What are we thankful for as the rains pour down on a country that currently forbids families to adopt orphans, that welcomes a religious dignitary while hiding corruption behind well manicured receptions, that ignores a call to take up their cross and follow Him…? 
The rain continues falling.  
 But we are thankful, 
as God will not let the pounding rain drown out the cry for justice, for mercy, for grace.
A song reverberates over the sound system…”Oh Africa…Africa… Africa… where are you?”… 
We wonder.  
 An old man sweet-talks a teenage girl over pink ice cream. 
A young wazunju guy plays games on his laptop ignorant to the sadness around him.
Hard rains do not relent; colors look hazy, images distort.  
Yet… God. He is not foggy or far. 
We sense His presence near. 
Ready to save. 
Ready to bring freedom to a place that knows only expensive loss for fake liberty. 
They cannot pay for the real. 
Only Jesus - He sacrificed for us all. 
We are thankful.

Blessed Thanksgiving friends and family.
Asante sana for your prayers, support and encouragement.
hugs from the haugers Ooo0o

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Melodrama to Miracles

Yikes! This week the adversary of all that’s good played melodrama to an extreme, heaping relentless crisis to a fever pitch of tragic haplessness, trying to leave us emotional barren…  Melodrama worms it’s way in, tempting us to latch onto its nail-biting, anxiety-driven, whirlpool of sensationalism…

Melodrama 1: 
Henry’s adoption… unstable rules, months of delays, 15 times in court, lost files, absent judges, missing lawyers, neglected reports…

Packed court left us standing in the hall listening for our case to be called.
Melodrama 2: 
Unexplained sicknesses… 
reoccurring fevers, body aches, unreliable lab results, 
too much vomit…

Melodrama 3:
  Violent thugs… 
vandalize the church, welded shut the entrances, threatened those 
going for prayer, graffiti warning people to stay away...

Our Creator never intended us to be overcome by all the exaggerated predicaments 
authored by the enemy of our souls. No, God wants us to ignore the commotion, 
enjoy the story and trust Him to write the final scene.   
He changes melodrama to miracles.

Miracle 1:   
The judge declared we are FINALLY, LEGALLY, OFFICIALLY Henry family forever! 
Yippee Jesus! Psalm 68:6 - God sets the lonely in families. We are grateful to be 
Henry's family. God rescued an abandoned baby boy, placed him in a good orphanage till 
He joined us together. Such beautiful justice from His amazing grace - a son!

Henry sharing sweets at the orphanage where he lived for almost 4 years.
Rocking the family bliss, although Baba looks a bit confused.
Miracle 2:   
 The undiagnosed sickness is leaving just as abruptly as it came.The boys
consistently tested negative for typhoid and malaria. Thank God!

(Imagine smiling children and empty vomit buckets.)

Miracle 3:   
The authorities dealt with the thugs and the corrupt man who seeks evil. No one 
was hurt, and more people came to church to see what all the fuss was about. 
The leadership team worked well supporting one another and the church.

WE ARE THE CHURCH!  Beautiful, brave sisters proving the enemy wrong!
      Gates of the church open wide for all to enter and pray.
God provided security.
Freedom to worship without fear!
 Please keep praying with us as the Lord takes what the adversary means for 
bad and turns it around for good.
  • Continued successful training as we move programs and projects to the church Resource Center (which was not vandalized at all!).  May the leadership team and staff keep communicating the vision to biblically help the poor by using viable, sustainable ministry tools.

  • The mamas of the two accountability support groups remain faithful, to grow spiritually, and build wholesome relationships in serving others.  May they prosper to pay school fees. May their children develop well and seek the Lord.

  • As we work on exiting this compound and make plans to travel stateside, we need paperwork completed – adoption order, certificate, passport, visa and plane tickets. We have to make a few trips to Nairobi offices to secure these documents. We also maintain a full schedule of ministry responsibilities. May our kids thrive and process their experiences well. May the Lord provide and protect us.
We are sincerely blessed by your kindness to remember us and those we love in Kenya.
Asante sana for your prayers, support and encouragement.
hugs from the haugers Ooo0o

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Sometimes I forget we live in Africa.  Transplanted from Southwest Colorado to Kisumu, Kenya over 4 years ago, life here is our current “normal.” Monkeys, enormous lizards and green mambas visit our compound regularly, and I’m not surprised.  Extreme poverty exists just outside our gate, and we found ways to truly help without feeling disturbing sadness. We clean water regularly, smile through police check points, sleep under mosquito nets, spend large amounts of time behind locked security fences, communicate in broken Swahili, embrace victimized mamas and vulnerable children. That’s our average day. Then there are moments I recall living in USA as if it were just yesterday... I want to drive on the other side of the road, drink a glass of tap water, devour delicious Italian food and escape the intense destitution surrounding me… 

We are “inbetween” two worlds, both vastly different but each being a huge part of us.

Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to join them together - San Juan Mountains saddled up against Lake Victoria; barbecued elk with a side of ugali under swaying palms by a clear cold creek; feathery snow covering the hot, dusty Kondele slum in crystal white; friends and family of various shades, from different cultures enjoying sincere fellowship.  Guess I’m imagining heaven… well, minus the ugali!

One of the biggest challenges of living “inbetween” is not the peculiar foods, new languages, diverse perspectives, or risky environment, but communicating experiences among our host country and passport country. With valid reasons, each side cannot sincerely understand our lives; some pieces will stay “just ours” regardless of how hard we try to interact.

When isolation engulfs me in toilsome conditions, I’m reminded of Jesus as He prepared to go to the cross. How many times did He tell His disciples about the journey of suffering that lay ahead? How could they really understand? His words filtered through their personal thoughts and ambitions.  None understood till much later, after their “eyes were opened.” Although my trials don’t compare, I sense a longing to bond with friends when aching fills the soul.

We all go through deep difficulties that feel impossible to share. Everyone everywhere nurses those challenging paths that are “just theirs.” No amount of reaching out can bring others in, except One – the One who endured all. He offers help through it all. Walking with Jesus across unavoidable deserts, desolate of relief, can create pools for intimate healing. His presence brings sweet redemption, complete restoration. It’s a journey where Jesus belongs. He transforms loneliness to hope. He fills the "inbetween."

To our dear friends, family, prayer partners and supporters, we remain grateful for your time spent reading our updates, your listening ear tuned to Holy Spirit’s promptings, your generous hearts to remember us.  May the Lord bless your kindness.   As we live “inbetween,” it’s good to know we belong to a collection of people who might not fully understand our life overseas, but encourage us to pursue it.

Think our monkey friend wants to play on the slide.
 This big colorful guy hangs out in our yard..
This African eagle make a nest in our mango tree.
Kitty left the green mamba without a head at our door.
Nyalenda slum down the road from us.
No more street eating.
Hello road security.
Home in the slum.
Mamas and baby time. Thankful this one has a safe home.

A impromptu futbal game with locals.
A favorite place to just be still.

Prayer requests:
1. That our new adoption court date - Nov. 5 - will bring victorious finalization.
2.  Adoption paperwork would process quickly and travel documents will appear without unnecessary complications.
3.  Ministry will transfer to the Resource Center smoothly.
4.  The mamas will continue to grow spiritually, prosper in businesses and share testimonies in their communities.
5.  That orphaned and abandoned children will receive good care and adoption will resume in Kenya.
6. Safety, provision and wisdom for our family.

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

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Time to Eat

Almost everyone likes to hear these words yelled in the early evening – “Time to eat!” or something similar.  A few weeks ago at our church leadership conference it was definitely “time to eat” - physically and spiritually. 

In Kenya, a country that claims 70% Christian population one might think believers enjoy a steady diet of God’s Word. Not so. In fact, many Kenyans in slums and rural areas, including pastors, don’t own bibles, let along receive solid biblical teaching. This is also true through much of East Africa.  So, when the leadership conference commenced, you can envision droves of pastors (from Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and many of Kenya’s counties) flocking in to eat God’s Word - dining on foundational teaching that satisfied a deep spiritual hunger (Jeremiah 15:16).

For three days they feasted on God’s Word and nutritious food prepared in the Resource Center. Kenyans who live in the slums or rural areas rarely eat well-balanced meals. Many survive on watery millet porridge and black tea in the morning and a bland corn flour paste (ugali) with a bit of kale at night.  Imagine our joy to prepare chicken, goat, potatoes, rice, carrots, peas, cabbage and chapattis to serve those who taste these foods only on special occasions like Christmas.

Yes. It was “time to eat” - to share, to enjoy, to bless dear brothers and sisters in Christ that faithfully serve the Lord in difficult places – where famine of both God’s Word and food are all too common.

Galatians 6:10 says, “Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone--especially to those in the family of faith.”
Thanks for helping us be part of such a generous opportunity.

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

Devouring good spiritual food.

Preparing yummy physical food.
The almost complete Resource Center becomes a kitchen.
Amazing sound man, David made it all work. Thank God.
Conference host, Pastor George and Mark.

Mama Benta in charge - lining up for food and fellowship.

Usher Emily and her pretty little daughter ready to eat.

Awesome Kenyan mamas who helped serve at the conference. Love them!

We got to drive security back to their station. Yikes!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

For Bob

My friend died today. I felt it in the morning as I opened my eyes and heard birds sing in the mango tree.  “Bob’s left this world.”  I brushed off the feeling and began the day by readying kids for school and preparing for ministry. About mid-morning, with Kenya’s bustling street noise in the background, I read the confirming news on my email… Bob was gone.

Bob’s true friendship came hidden in gruff abruptness. Albeit we first meet under polite exchanges of pleasantries, the relationship would not stay surface only. I don’t think anything long lasting with Bob could ever exist only on the surface.

We sat on the church missions committee together, along with some of Bob’s peers. This is where we saw his passion for justice, for doing right things the right way. His arguments about effective strategies and detailed budgets challenged the more merciful in the group, but only for the better.  As it came our time to plan serving in overseas missions, we did a daring thing. We asked Bob for advice. Seeking council from Bob was not for the faint of heart, nor the easily offended.  Our first meeting forced us to consider 26 questions about viability, sustainability, finances and perspective. Bob left no stone of criticism unturned.  I don’t know if it was our refusal to be defeated or our desire to have qualified oversight that made Bob stay along side us like a trainer, a coach, a mentor…

I remember morning meetings at our house exchanging friendly banter over warm tapioca, and the day we visited a financial advisor - Bob took him to task about helping us earn money to serve the poor. I recall Bob’s smug smile as we left the advisor’s office with everything Bob wanted. He looked at us with a bright twinkle in his eye and said, “Let’s go get ice cream.” For 2 years we met with Bob. He listened to us, corrected us, demanded from us, questioned us, informed us, keep records, keep track, and keep us from making mistakes. Sometimes he was like a bad-tasting medicine that made us get better. Through it all we realized Bob believed in us. By smashing any dreamy idealism, he helped build confidence we never even knew we were missing.

For almost 5 years now, we are serving on the mission field of Kisumu Kenya – assisting victimized women and providing potable water in Jesus name.  Bob never gave a dime personally to us but his wisdom and generous donations aided 17 widowed mamas to run small businesses, 49 vulnerable children to stay in their families, 2 self-help groups to provide bible study and accountability, numerous discipleship trainings facilitated throughout the area, and 6 different communities to have filtered water sources.
“Bob Bigelow!” we’d say when he picked the phone to receive our long-distance calls seeking his advice. 
Bob Bigelow, even three weeks before his passing, counseled us about water treatment - still watchful, still involved.  Bob Bigelow, a straight-shooting man, slight in stature but with an enormous heart. And because of that, many around the world benefit from his legacy.

What might he say if given an opportunity to speak at his own memorial service?
In true character, I think he’d give his opinion on advice from King Solomon:

“What are the realities of your problem?  Ask questions.
Look at the reality?  Gather knowledge from observation.
How do you apply your knowledge to your reality?  Use wisdom.
Put your wisdom to work in your reality.
Let’s live as God taught us.”

Thanks Bob. May the huge file on my laptop filled with your notes, your comments, your explanations and your reports always help us serve Jesus by making this world a better place.

Some of the Kenyan mamas that Bob's donations helped wrote letters to Bob's family and friends.The scanner wouldn't reproduce them well so they are typed below.  Imagine these mamas, sitting under a thatched roof, writing thoughts about a man that lived far, far away, whom they never met, but his consistent thoughtfulness helped change their lives forever.

"To the family and friends of Bob, regret the demise of Baba Bob. 
We are indeed very grateful for the blessings we received from him. We wouldn't be where we are today if not for the gifts from him. Every one of us has been touched by his kind donations to us. We have been blesses to know him though we have not seen him, have felt his love and kindness. May Almighty God bless his family and friends and rest his soul in peace.  To God be the Glory. Amen." From  WOW - Woman of Worth Group.
"To the family and friends of Baba Bob. I am Mildred Atino in Kenya. I would like to say pole sana for the family of Bob. He was good to us. Rest in peace Baba Bob."
"To the family of Bob. I am Jackie Akoth,, a widow in Kenya. I say pole sana about Baba Bob. He stood with us and made us to stand. Rest in Peace Baba. Amen."
"I am Raiel Mbono in Kenya. Pole sana for Baba Bob. He was loved but God loved him more. Rest in Peace. Shalom."

"With deep sorrow and much regret to hear about the demise of our beloved Bob. Though we have not met him but felt and saw his kindness and big heart he had for women empowerment. Being a beneficiary of his good work in Kenya I am here to say may God rest his soul in peace." Carolyne Auma.

 Many photos of the blessed mamas...

 "...we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people,  which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News. This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace." Col. 1