Monday, March 6, 2017

Stuck! You Know That Feeling?


STUCK! Ugh.Don’t you hate that feeling?
You know - being caught in the proverbial limbo where pending plans hinge on a decision that can’t be determined yet.
Well, that’s where we are.
Trying to navigate United States Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS) and Henry’s USA citizenship is a daily task of applications, petitions, paperwork, phone calls, photocopies and $$$.  If you recall, we originally wrote about Henry’s immigration story here.  Little did we know the saga would continue so long!  We just filed 6 application/petitions with 39 documents and fees. Praying for a favorable response!

   

 Considering our USCIS issue,  plans for returning to Kenya are not set like concrete. We must wait for “Advance Parole” approval before Henry can journey abroad. Our tentative idea is to travel to Kisumu in May and stay until early August. We will leave then because Kenya’s presidential elections loom large on August 8th. Our last experience with that found us hiding in a tin church while automatic gunfire and tear gas crazed the Kondele community - a situation not worth repeating.

Although we wade through unknowns, the Resource Center and Clean Water Project continue to thrive. Look what you helped make happen...
The Resource Center is a quality Christian place for vulnerable kids to gather and know they are loved. Inside are games, art supplies, books, toys and teachers who care that these little ones are not left to neglect and abuse. The learning focus is Jesus. The Center needs electricity to expand the programs. Please keep praying.
Clean Water Project provides bio-sand water filters along with the message of Living Water to communities.  It takes hard work to build and deliver the concrete containers, but it is worth it to see families have access to healthy water and the Gospel. This income-generating ministry also needs help to secure the development compound. Please pray as we investigate options.
Good work David and all who invested!
We’re excited about an emerging project called 2 Continent Baskets. We designed a solution to tackle these 2 big problems:
1. Adoption expenses can be overwhelming (average $25,000 for non foster/adopt).
2. Many moms in Kenya are a risk of loosing their children to orphanages.
Among the Least wants to help carry these burdens by partnering with a family preservation project in Kenya. Moms  earn a fair wage creating marketable crafts from sustainable materials. These items are then offered to perspective adoptive families for fundraising sales to finance their adoptions. This initiative is presently assisting a local family.  Cool graphics to inspire involvement...
As our family currently lives in the limbo of uncertainty dealing with ambivalent authorities, we are practicing peace, rest, patience, self-control and whatever other good thing that will get us through this phase. Pressures of feeling bogged down by the swamp of bureaucracy ease when we focus on our Creator - He secures our present and guides our future.

To you, our valuable supporter, thanks for sharing our tenuous “limbo” and praying for us. Thanks for continuing to sponsor worthwhile programs that help widowed/single mothers and vulnerable children. Thanks for helping to bring clean water into communities thirsty for the Gospel. God bless you!

 
       hugs from the haugers Ooo0o                                                                                                        

Saturday, February 18, 2017

This Photo!

   These kids. Posing outside the Resource Center. Safe.  Learning about Jesus. Having fun.

You helped make this happen. Providing a quality Christian place for vulnerable kids to gather and know they are loved.  Inside that door are games, art supplies, books, toys and teachers who care that these little ones are not left to neglect and abuse.  
"Asante sana Everybody!"

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Emmanuel, God with Us. Where?



Relentlessly dismal news hangs over us like thick grey skies, predicting gloomy days ahead. From bomb ravaging Aleppo, to friends’ struggle with cancer, tragic fires, plane crashes, terror and corruption, one might wonder about the Christmas greeting:  
Emmanuel - God with us.

God with us?
The question pleads, “Really? Where?”

I’ve been tempted to ask this since returning from Kenya. Our first Christmas home in 5 years but hard realities of living in a developing nation return to haunt me… broken children crawling, limping, hoping for a smile. HIV positive mamas, orphaned babies, millions of abandoned, neglected, forgotten... God with us?  I cry at the loss while colorful lights twinkle.

Where is He? The Savior heralded by an angel to lowly shepherds so long ago:
“Don’t be afraid! I bring good news of great joy to all people.”

“God is with you.” The voice resonates in my heart.
I’m reminded of a recent prayer time when an acquaintance assured me with confidence, “God wants you to know He is with you.” Or the stranger at the mall on Black Friday who took a risk by walking over to me, placing her hand on my shoulder and confessing, albeit uncomfortably, “I’m supposed to tell you God is near. He’s with you.”

These reminders shake my core. I recognize the mistake of missing this truth. Instead of welcoming God in the midst of misery and believing He restores all in His time, I expected God to follow my plan to right the wrongs. I forgot; there is an enemy named evil. Sadly, God get blamed for all its ugly turmoil. God also becomes guilty of mankind’s depravities – choices to inflict wickedness that spreads like a pandemic. The consequences ruin even innocence. Maybe God hates evil because its wounds infect us - His beloved. 

Our Creator’s great love keeps us from being utterly consumed. He came as a babe who grew to a man. He felt tired, hungry and thirsty. He wept, groaned and experienced agony.  His pure devotion, uncontaminated by evil, sacrificed to win our freedom from depravity.  He willingly took the reproach forced on Him to remain with us forever.

God came to live with us.

He’s still here.

God wants to reach the desperate in Syria, He longs to rescue the lost from dirty streets, hold the overlooked, and find the broken hidden in far-away hovels. He desires to feed the hungry, to satisfy thirsty souls, to comfort those who suffer and soothe their aches with healing balms.

How does God do that when the earth itself moans from the weight of inhumanity?

God lives in the hearts of those who ask Him. And from those hearts, He touches others with mercy. His truth-bonded grace carries redemption far beyond the temporal.  I see it when volunteers work with refugees and when our church shares food boxes with needy families. I read about it in a woman’s post thanking the community for their care during her grief and in beautiful letters from missionaries serving in desolate places. I receive it when helpful hands surround me, reminding me…

God is with you.

As you scan the horrible headlines or live in unnamed sorrow, please know Hope shines even when foggy confusion hovers. Believe the words of the angels spoken long ago –

“Don’t be afraid… there is good news that brings great joy…
Emmanuel, God with us.”





Thursday, December 15, 2016

Why The Silence?


Why the silence?

For the last 5 years I’ve written thoughts and experiences about our family, ministry and life in Kenya. I posted over 700 updates for those who supported our journey. It became therapeutic and a lovely way to record memories. For the last two months, I did not write. I avoided my blog and social media. It took me a while to respond to emails. I didn’t know what to say.

We’ve been stateside for 8 months. We have a few more to go.  When we left Kenya for a much-needed furlough, weariness followed me.  While home in Colorado, it shimmed up as my partner. Confusion joined in. Then Frustration appeared forming an overwhelming trio. For the last 8 weeks, every time I tried to write, these three actively get in the way. On the laptop, Word’s “new blank document” screen became my nemesis. I joined a great writing group to spark motivation but became disappointed by my lagging participation. I simply didn’t know how to communicate without feeling tired.

So. Very. Tired.


With that said, I apologize to those who support us for not keeping you updated.  Please know how sorry I feel, how lost I felt, and how I’m processing long term life in Kenya - the fight for Henry, the threats of security, the management of effective cross-cultural ministry - all while being a wife, a mom, a friend with profoundly limited strength in a extremely foreign setting.  Many of these things are still the reality we navigate from more familiar surroundings. I’m not feeling bad for my self. I certainly detest pity parties. I am recognizing I’ve been emotionally injured and the ever-healing wound sometimes seeps, especially when ignored.


As God nurture’s His “unforced rhythms of grace” within my heart, I’ve found my voice again but it may sound a bit different. Probably less-filtered.  I’m searching for my humor though... Might wanna end me a joke to flesh it out...


Thanks for understanding.

~lisa

Prayer desires:
  • Obviously, for me ~lisa.
  • The kids continued healthy transitions to life in USA.
  • Henry’s medical needs to be addressed effectively - a consensus on the best course of action. Also, that immigration issues solve without uncomplicated delay.
  • Mark’s bio-sand water filter training.
  • The ministry in Kisumu – may fruit remain and multiply.
Praise explosions:
  • Henry is doing so well acclimating to school (even though he did pull the fire alarm yesterday).
  • His Special Needs Resource Team is AWESOME! (Which includes my super sis!)
  • Taleah doesn’t experience anxiety attacks anymore. She really enjoys school, friends and singing in the traveling choir. She plans to attend One Thing at IHOP.
  • Tavin’s maintaining his job, car and gym membership. He’s also songwriting, studying for the ACT and is a huge help around the house.
  • The Resource Center’s amazing ministry to moms and children in Kisumu.
 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ears That Don't Hear


A warm July sun streams through Juniper branches, and we sit in their shade eating ice cream sandwiches. Henry’s eyes close as the summer breeze tickles his ebony cheeks. I smile while warblers happily chirp, and I ask Henry if he likes the birds’ songs. He keeps his eyes closed, licking the frozen treat. I wait and repeat the question. Then I remember. He doesn’t hear me. He can’t hear the birds. He won’t respond unless he opens his eyes, looks at me and reads my lips; even then, natures’ high-toned melodies are lost to him.
A few days earlier, the diagnosis of Henry’s profound hearing loss carried waves of shock and sadness. We thought he couldn’t comprehend certain sounds but long awaited tests results revealed a severely profound impairment. Henry has lived for 7 years without understanding functional language.  He has ears that can't hear.

As I watched Henry that late July afternoon, I realized how many time my ears have failed to hear. I’ve compromised that ability through selfishness - especially to maintain my “oh so important agenda.”  In retrospect, my rejection to listen with understanding ears became the main nemesis in many blotched situations:
  • “Authoritarian ears” neglected children’s explanations that I assumed were excuses.
  • “Western ears” misinterpreted cultural innuendos on the foreign mission field leaving Kenyans confused by my actions.
  • “Rebellious ears” willingly ignored my Creator - the very One who formed them to hear!  
…Yet, every time I ask the Lord to change my selfishness to sensitivity, His kindness causes my ears to hear resonances of tenderness, confidence, acceptance and hope. Things that sound like God.

How do I end this post that prods me to sincerely hear as I parent a child who currently can’t?  Remember
Remember we are gifted with this amazing sense to...
  • Respond without preconceived judgment.
  • Build communicating bridges over haunting misconceptions.
  • Enjoy His Still Small Voice that urges us to listen carefully.

“Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!” Matthew 11:15

Praises and prayers…
We received an extension for Henry’s non-immigrant visa for 6 months. Please pray as we actively pursue medical assistance for the cochlear implant surgery. 

Taleah and Henry both started school and are doing well overall. Please pray for good friendships, for a timely intervention concerning Henry’s educational needs and for Taleah to feel peaceful and encouraged.

Tavin is working a full time job and saving money to start school next year. Please pray for him to know and understand the Lord’s revealing plan.

Please keep the ministry in Kenya in your prayers. The Resource Center continues to thrive and the biosand water filter project keeps producing.  God’s word is taught and those who have ears are hearing the good news! Your continued support helps keep these programs growing.

David and team continue water filter project.
Bible trivia challenge!
Watching Nick Vijicic video - Life Without Limbs



     
Pastor Mary teaching a Bible foundation class
Asante sana for your prayers, support and encouragement. 
hugs from the haugers O00Oo

Thursday, August 4, 2016

"We Don't Know...Yet."



If I had a nickel for every time I said that phrase over these last 4 months, our support would be covered for months! As missionaries on furlough, most conversations start like this…

“Your back!”
“Yep.”
“For how long?”
“We don’t know… yet.”
“When are you going back to Kenya?”
“We don’t know… yet.”
“What will Tavin and Taleah do when you leave?”
“We don’t know… yet.”
“Are you going to rent your place again?
“We don’t know…yet.”

I could go on, but you get the idea.  For this lengthy yet over due post, I try to explain our redundant, ambivalent answer given to many reasonable questions, and hopefully pray for us. I wanted to refrain from writing till we had some concrete news to share but details are far from settled… Sooo:

We are currently on furlough with a USA immigration (USCIS) visa for Henry that expires September 27th. Henry is 100% adopted - our child, our son; but since we adopted as residents of Kenya, USCIS requires us to have legal and physical custody of Henry for 2 years while living outside the USA after the adoption finalized (November 2014).  We’ve been in USA since March 28th and this time does not count towards the 2-year requirement rule. (Note: this would not be a current problem if we were not detained by Kenya's adoption moratorium that went into effect in the middle of our process.)  Sooo, (it gets more complicated):

In May, Henry's hearing was informally checked by BOCS. He failed those tests, which led to more formal testing in June.  In July, Henry was diagnosed with bilateral nerosensorial profound hearing loss. In other words, he can’t hear information. (Think if you only heard loud garbled announcements made at airports… Yeah. That’s Henry’s world of sound.  Fyi though - doctors/audiologists are AMAZED at his coping strategies Click link for how Henry hears you.) Henry is now a candidate for cochlear implant surgery that involves mega money, tedious therapies and time-time-time. 

Our dilemmas that require the repetitive “We don’t know…yet” are:

1.     Do we do the surgery and when? Henry will loose whatever natural hearing he has if we elect to go this direction. We need a long stretch of time in USA for it to benefit Henry.
2.     How do we finance this? Henry is not a citizen yet so insurance for him in USA is E.X.P.E.N.S.I.V.E. He does not qualify for government medical programs because he is not a citizen. Every grant program we seen so far has citizen requirements.
3.     How do we start this process that needs consistent attention if Henry is not allowed to stay in USA or get citizenship?

Things we’ve done to discover solutions to the “We don’t know…yet” are:

1.     Prayer – prayed and praying!
2.     Researching speech development for children with hearing loss and how to introduce hearing to a child who has never genuinely heard the variety of sounds that form communication.
3.     Filed our $350 visa extension for Henry with the USCIS.
4.     Contacted our US Rep. Scott Tipton asking him to contact USCIS on our behalf and request Henry’s citizenship. This will help free us to make decisions that are in our family’s best interest and continue working as missionaries without travel restrictions.

What’s happening now?

1.     Henry got hearing aids this week. The aids will only enhance the sound he can already hear. They are the first step to introduce hearing changes to Henry. He is also attending a summer school session to help with socialization.
2.     We wait, patiently, persistently, proactively for God, knowing He works all things well.
3.     The ministry in Kenya continues – We interact with the management team regularly. Resource Center files are completed via our internet correspondence.  The mamas keep meeting regularly for bible study and a new tailoring class starts soon.

Saying, “We don’t know… yet” to Henry’s situation and our pending mission strategies (implementing orphan caregiver programs and taking DIGGS Resource Center model to African leadership conferences) is difficult, except for the word - yet.  That word carries hope because we know Jesus - the One who knows all.  He directs the universe and has the hairs on our heads numbered. Nothing escapes His attention. His love for us is unlimited. We remain confident in Him - faithful God.  

Those who wait on the Lord are not put to shame. Psalm 25:3.

We are abundantly grateful for your continued support at this time. Please be free to connect with us through phone calls, emails and comments. We love hearing from you.

Praises:
Mark and Lisa have a full schedule of speaking for August.
Tavin has a full time job and his own vehicle.
Taleah does part-time work and dance.
Henry continues to thrive and adapt well.
The ministry in Kenya keeps functioning without crisis.

Prayer:
Favor with USCIS.
Some health issues for Lisa.
Henry’s continued development.
God’s wisdom for pending decisions.
One of the mama’s we worked with, Rose Brenda, was in a serious motorbike accident. She is pregnant medically unstable.


Big brother drives!
Ants in Kenya are a big problem but Taleah likes these ones.
Henry gets new "ears!" and our amazing audiologist.
 
Asante sana for your prayers, support and encouragement
hugs from the haugers
 Ooo0o