I Miss Africa and Our People

We are emerging from our travel fog. My kids have been more emotional than normal, but their resilience has amazed me, also their ability to sleep twelve hours straight and fall asleep standing. My own resilience has been lacking: exhaustion makes me snappy. I need a shirt that says, “I’m not this mean in real life.”

My youngest just curled up in my lap while I looked at photos of our trip on my  computer.

She summed it up, “Mom, I miss Africa and our people.”

Our Kenyan Compassion Children

Millicent, 16; Makenna, 8; Grace, 7 (my Mom's child); Mwaka, 6; Ephantus, 7

That just about sums up my feelings exactly.

When Changing a Life Changes Yours

It’s going to take some serious time and thought and probably tears to unpack the amazing experience we had our last day in Kenya yesterday.

We took 586 pictures and cried a bucket of tears if that gives you any idea.

There’s so much to share, but one story is begging to be told, so I sit on the floor of a cold London airport in the middle of the night/day depending on which time zone you’re in. I seem to be in the middle of both…

A year and a half ago, when I traveled to Kenya for the first time with the Compassion International Bloggers, I met Ephantus, one of our sponsored kids. He was quiet, timid even, only six years old and probably one of the cutest kids in Africa.

March 2010 with the backpack full of goodies I brought him:

I knew we had to reserve one day of our trip this year so my family could meet Ephantus and our three other sponsored children in Kenya. With our very hectic schedule, our last day was reserved for this “family reunion.” And much to my delight, this time we would visit Ephantus’ home.

As we left the safety of the Compassion project in the center of his slum, we followed the stench of raw sewage (a defining factor of slum life) that coursed it’s way into the heart of the homes.

My kids meeting one of our sponsored kids for the first time made my heart nearly burst. It was better than I’d imagined and so much like meeting a brother…

The first thing I noticed outside of Ephantus’ tidy one room home they’d occupied for the last twelve years, was the backpack I’d given him last year, hanging on the clothesline:

Meeting his sweet mother, Mary, was precious as we all (Maureen and two Compassion employees) crowded into the 10×10 space:

She couldn’t wait to thank us for sponsoring her child and especially for the family gift we sent last year. Please know that I don’t share this with you to boast, I simply must tell you this story because it’s powerful and has so little to do with me.

Compassion International allows you to send a family gift up to $1000 US dollars. We have 11 kids, so this is not possible, but when I received the advance for my book last year, we were able to send each of our kids around $250. Throughout the year, we’ve gotten updates of cows and roofs and food that has been bought…

I was shocked when Mary pulled out beautiful necklaces and handbags she was making to support her family. She said she’s started her small business with the money our family sent:

(a little nose picking for your enjoyment)

But nothing could have prepared me when she took me by the hand and led our family down the rutted path to her “business”:

She stocks and sales fresh fruits and vegetables, jewelry and even flip flops from her “store” that our family gift help her start a year ago.

Mary took me in her arms and said in her best English, “Your gift has changed our life.”

(the fragile bridge over sewage to Mary’s store)


“I am able to feed my family because of you.”

Of course, we all know that my family has little to do with this –the work and integrity of Compassion International and the hand of God is to blame.

Mary hugged me tightly and said, “Thank you for changing our lives. Please pray for us.”

I said the same thing to her.


Change a life (yours included) and sponsor a child with Compassion International for just $38 a month….when you can, send a family gift, big or small it is life-changing.



There’s not a shy bone in Ephantus now!

Last Day in Kenya

We finished up loose ends on Wednesday and spent the afternoon and evening at a Charity Tea with some US Embassy friends I met on Twitter (hola!) It was a wonderful day-I hope to get some pictures uploaded, but I’m lucky to have Internet right now between power outages…..

Meeting one of our prestigious board members, Uncle Sam from Compassion

Today, our last full day in Africa, we are spending the day with four of our Compassion children…two that I met last year and two that we sponsored in 2010. My kids are so excited! I can’t wait to tell you about it. I’ll be seeing this sweet little guy again, but this time we will visit his home in a slum-my kids first experience with poverty this close-up:

March 2010 Compassion Trip

We are flying back to America late tonight and won’t be home until the weekend. Say a prayer for us-we’ve run out of comfort snacks and clean clothes!

P.S. When you run out of clothes and wash them by hand, but they don’t dry enough in the sun, if you put them in the microwave for 30 seconds it will burn them. Try 15 seconds. Just fyi. You’re welcome.

Talk to y’all on Monday.


WFMW: What’s App

I’m a late [tech] bloomer. I’m not really an upgrade kind-of-girl, I just like things to work.

But I am m a fan of the text message.

It’s so quick and easy.

Just ask my hubby and he’ll show you our latest cell phone bill. [gulp]

A friend recommended an app called WhatsApp Messenger that has free text messaging (after the initial .99 purchase price), you can send pictures, leave voice mail, etc. It’s my new favorite app because it keeps me out of trouble.

It cost .99 and I’m hoping it will save us money if we need to text while we’re in Africa.

And now, the real reason I wrote this post…

I want to know what’s your favorite app???? What app works for you?


Kenya: Update Eight

When you’re in Africa, it doesn’t take long to adapt the motto of most Kenyans, THIS IS AFRICA (T.I.A.). Basically, anything can happen and probably will.

Like monkeys in your van,

chasing your delighted and petrified children, vomit in the middle of the night, sitting still in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours, squatting on “pit latrines” or holding it for a six hour drive, eating “snacks” from the side of the road vendors, baboons stealing your entire bag of American snacks/comfort food right in front of you….

The last few days have been fast and furious. They have been awesome, frustrating and insightful.

We traveled 6.5 long hours into altitudes of nearly 10,000 feet, crossing the equator

to visit a ministry we support, Mattaw Children’s Village. Not only are the directors friends, they are leaders and rescue many at-risk children. They are in the process of building a baby rescue center.

We spent the second day at The Esther House, the only other live-in maternity home (that we know of in Kenya). It’s a long way from Nairobi, but this organization, run by a sweet Netherlands couple is dynamic. It was so encouraging to see and learn from them. Maureen and I were impressed and can’t wait to implement some of the things we learned.

Our family was really looking forward to going thru one of Kenya’s National parks on our drive home…it didn’t cost much and we saw just about every animal imaginable: buffalo, lions, monkeys, giraffe, warthogs, zebra and more.

We planned on being back at the maternity home by 2pm. Ha. We are learning that time is just a goal here. We pulled in at 7pm after unexpected holdups and cooked the girls fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy.

While we were gone, they worked hard on their skills and produced beautiful items. We have a baby due tomorrow and since we’re flying home Thursday night, we’re hoping she’s right on time.

But again, T.I.A.