The Real Africa

The power has been out for hours….cooking over a charcoal fire, cleaning by candlelight and going to bed early.

My kids think it’s a blast.

We are now getting a full taste of Africa.


(2 minutes of computer battery left)

Kenya: [Blessings] Update Six

Water is life in Africa.

It doesn’t take long to realize how crucial it is to have an abundance of clean water. Our family is drinking and brushing our teeth with bottled water. There is a water purifier for the residents and staff, but it has only been partially working, so they have also been using bottled water and used water for the garden.

Just a day before we arrived, the house hadn’t had water for 3 days-to drink or bathe, wash clothes and dishes, relying solely on bottled water. This week we discovered that the pump had gone out. The owner of the beautiful home we’re renting isn’t really interested in fixing the pump. (Such is the life of Kenyan landlords).

Learning to make greeting cards

Maureen has been negotiating with him to split the cost with us, but we had to make a decision soon.

The night we arrived in Nairobi, the staff was on their way to pick us up at the airport in the rain. Rain and dirt roads are a dangerous combination. They ended up sliding into a ditch and were stuck for hours and hours. A Compassion International driver picked us up and brought us to the home late that night.

The problem?

Our new van is beautiful and so nice, only the tires aren’t fit for Kenyan roads. It’s a supply and demand problem, so appropriate tires are nearly $800 U.S. dollars. Between that and a $400 water pump, I was worried.

It’s these unexpected expenses that give me ulcers.

It’s these unexpected expenses that make me rely on God.

Today after we worked on making paper mache bowls,

we went to the local store to see about purchasing a pump. My hubby is pretty handy and after helping our day guard with planting the garden, they thought it might be possible to fix it.

We sat in the van talking over the unexpected expenses, trying to decide if we should shop around prices (in hour long traffic lines) and dip into or emergency fund that also pays for baby deliveries. I have had very poor access to the Internet this week, but for some reason, I decided to check the gmail account linked to the Mercy House Paypal account.

I gasped.

Everyone in the van looked at me. I said, “We just got an anonymous donation that will pay for the tires and the water pump!”

Maureen and I grinned at each other. God is always on time.

I’m learning so much about faith here and how hard people work. Every employee of Mercy House Kenya uses the salaries to support a dozen relatives!

So many of you have sent donations, given money, prayed for this ministry. Please know that every dollar it is making a difference. And every penny is spent carefully.

We will have water tomorrow.



Want to give financially to Mercy House and be a part of the house God is building? click here.

Kenya: Update Five



If it weren’t for Maureen showing us the proper way to do laundry, we would be some pretty dirty people. By the time she was done with the sock, it was whiter than snow.

Turns out I don’t know much about manual labor.

I spent Wednesday morning at the local hospital with our girl who is due any day now. Her weekly appointment went well and these girls are gaining weight quickly with good nutrition. In just a few weeks, they have filled out so much.

Later in the day, Maureen, the driver and my hubby traveled to the open food and meat markets to buy vegetables, fruits and meats in bulk for the next two weeks. I was so impressed with how organized Maureen and her staff it, compiling reports for food consumption, food inventory and they also have a notebook for each girl, where they record weekly data about them.

While they shopped, the rest of us rolled paper for necklaces, varnished items and learned a couple of other skills.


They are producing some beautiful items! I’m hoping to take bag a lot of items to stock our new store that will be at Mercy

We are making paper mache bowls and greeting cards tomorrow!

Thanks so much for your prayers-we feel them. So far, my kids have fallen into a cactus, gotten stung by a nettle plant, fallen out of a tree, had an allergic reaction to mosquito netting…. but, thankfully the injuries have all been very minor…. but please don’t stop praying!

Kenya: Three Words

Laundry in Africa.



[My update for the day will have to wait. I’m doing laundry BY HAND for our family of five. Oy. Going to hug my 10 year old washing machine when I get home.]

WFMW: Hummus Among Us

My hubby can work magic with The Garbanzo Bean. His knack for turning chick peas into hummus is profound.

We use it as a spread on bread, we dip pretzels, carrots, crackers, celery, our fingers in it.

Plus, it’s healthy! But don’t tell my kids.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

2 cans drained chickpeas

1/3 cup lemon juice

2 heaping tablespoons sesame tahini

4-6 cloves of minced garlic

11/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1/4 or more of cayenne pepper

2 roasted red peppers from a can

Approximately 1 tablespoon olive oil

Blend in food processor or blender

What works for you?

Kenya: {Funny} Update 4

In a lot of ways, I had no idea what to expect from this trip. Even though we’ve planned each day for months and months, I couldn’t predict how my young children would handle or adjust to a third world country. I’m not going to lie, I was a little scared.

There have been a couple of rough spots that come from sheer exhaustion and traveling with children, but overall, my kids have completely amazed me. They have adapted so well. Of course, we’re in a safe gated compound with a guard and they have the freedom to roam and explore the two acres. The windows and the doors stay open all the time, so we can usually hear them giggling or just call out there name. Daily malaria pills, sunblock and bug spray are a must.

Today we spent the majority of the day making paper drink coasters. Aren’t they lovely?

You know you want a set.

My hilarious four year old has everyone wrapped around her finger and convinced the charming driver, Tim and Jotham, one of our guards, that their main job is catching grasshoppers and creatures as her “pets.” Today, I heard a squeal of excitement with a huge captured toad. She carried it around all day in an old jar. At one point she had a paper crown and wand (from crafts I brought) on and was kissing the jar asking it to be her prince.

We drove into Nairobi for a few errands and she brought the toad with her. We passed the beautiful hospital that the girls will deliver at and she started asking questions about babies. At this point, most everyone was asleep from the long day and bumpy roads. I was sitting in the front next to the driver because I tend to get car sick when my four year old blurted,

“Mommy, I know where Bubba and Sister came out——-“

I held my breath. I think Tim, the driver did too.

“Your bottom!”

AND THEN SHE POINTED to her bottom.

Oh, yes she did.

Dear people who read my blog, I wanted to fall into a hole in Africa at that very moment! The driver started laughing and I couldn’t help myself.

He said, “Wow, she is so smart. When I was her age, I thought I came from mud.”

I said, “Well, when your family decides to help start a maternity home, there are a lot of questions….”

When my husband, mom and Maureen woke up, they had no idea why I was blushing so badly.

But what happens in Africa, stays in Africa.


Kenya: Update 3


Yesterday and today were so full and although I can barely keep my eyes open, I’m excited to share about our experiences.

After a 2.5 hours African church service

(a MUST experience in your lifetime), we traveled to meet Maureen’s mom and brothers. It was such a personal experience for me after grieving with Maureen’s family after the loss of her sister and nephew in April. We presented each other with gifts and she fed us her best in her tiny, tidy home.

We then took Maureen’s family to their first dinner in a restaurant in their entire life! It was such a joy.

We started Monday early with an hour of worship and a devotional, led by my husband. He taught the staff and girls different ways to study the Bible. Maureen said they pay a lot of money in Kenya at Christian conferences for such information. He did a fantastic job.

After a short staff meeting, we split into two groups: My husband led in Staff Development, specifically focusing on Servant Leadership and Conflict Management. My mom and I, along with my oldest, taught the girls how to roll paper to make beautiful art. [SOON TO BE SOLD HERE!]

The girls are such quick learners and absolutely love rolling paper beads for jewelry and art. I know they will enjoy each day this week as they learn a new skill each day.

We joined back together to learn Infant CPR and about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The girls did great practicing their new skill on their dolls.

And the staff did great with team building games:

Our first baby is due in just two weeks, so the staff is working hard to teach the girls about breastfeeding and childbirth issues, along with parenting information for new moms. Cindy’s smile is blurry below, but I just had to show you the JOY. These girls love learning!

Maureen and I traveled to the local church (just a few minutes away) and had an appointment with the Pastor about how we can partner together. It went so well and I might have cried a bit when he prayed over us. Everything is just so surreal for me. We are so excited about the potential of having church members volunteer and support the maternity home.

Here is a tour of Rehema  House:  GOD had made THIS possible through YOU!!

Kenya: Update Two

If you ever have a chance to wake up to Kenyan girls singing praise songs acapella, I highly recommend it! Every morning the staff and girls have a time of worship and devotion, sharing Scriptures and testimonies.

Yes, I cried the entire time.

I was so touched by the atmosphere in the room. God was present. I could feel Him wooing this sweet, young girls to Him.

They ended the time with a lovely Kenyan rendition of Happy Birthday to my Mom-something I’m sure she’ll never forget.

Saturday is chore day-handwashing laundry, a bit of cleaning and cooking, but once the girls were finished they enjoyed watching their first movie with my kids.

The rest of the day we unpacked the remaining donations and organized them in the ample cabinet storage throughout the house, while my husband did some honey-do projects, like fixing the oven, and teaching the housemother how to make homemade loaves of bread (yes, he is a catch).

My kids were very busy catching large, scary green lizards and left a trail of crackers for the monkeys in the branches above.

You know, just normal Saturday stuff.

Our beautiful new-to-us van was delivered and Maureen took us a surprise visit to Safari Zoo down the road. It was so fun spending this carefree time with the girls.

This house is a work in progress, the girls and staff are learning how to live and work together like a family. The highlight for me was talking with the girls (they are so shy, but warming up to us more and more). One of them leaned in and whispered to me, “You are such a good, good lady to work hard and provide this place for us. Thank you. I love you.”

I looked her in the eye and said, “Anything good you see in me is because of Jesus Christ. You are so loved by so many. I love you, too.”

God is doing something really good in Africa.

[trying so hard to upload video and pictures…so check back later]