A Wedding to Remember

Kenyan weddings deserve their very own post.

When Maureen visited us in America in January 2013 for meetings and speaking engagements, a generous friend of mine secretly took Maureen and I wedding dress shopping.

Because we knew (hoped) this day was coming a few months later. I had the honor of being there when the big question was asked.

Over the past few years, Maureen and I have had many Skype conversations praying and talking about her future husband, someone for her to share her life and calling with. And so, we knew if we could arrange the delicate timing of our next trip, it needed to include one very special Kenyan wedding.

And after Maureen lost her beautiful mother suddenly in June and asked if I would stand in as Mother of the Bride, I knew we had to be there.

Y’all.

You haven’t really celebrated joy until you’ve attended a Kenyan wedding. The day started very early in the lasted until sunset. And there was a lot of waiting for the bride to make her special appearance. It can sometimes take a bride up to an hour to s-l-o-w-l-y walk down the aisle. Thankfully, Maureen has too much spunk for that.

Here we are waiting…

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Here comes the bride (just a few seconds of what went on for HOURS):

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Then there was dancing and singing and more dancing and more singing. And we repeated this about 27 times.

Possibly the world’s cutest flower girl and ringbearer (the two firstborn babies of Mercy House):
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I mean, SERIOUSLY.

The Mother of the Bride got to take care of Precious and Travis. It was hard work! I might have fed them tick tacks and Pringles the entire ceremony. After Travis had about 12 chips, he started to lick the salt off and pass them down the row. Awesome.

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The Mercy House babies loved dancing (as well as several hundred other guests!)

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Maureen was a stunning bride. And her joy was evident.

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Dear Maureen and Oliver,

What a day! Thank you for sharing your amazing day with us. You are an example of purity and  faithfulness-a beauty for ashes story-to the girls at Mercy House. You’ve given them a fairytale to look forward to someday. We pray God blesses your union and His face continues to shine on you.

Love,  the Welch family

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The bride and groom presented a cake at the reception to our family and the residents of Rehema House.

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And then we danced some more…

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And just because, this needs to happen again:

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Photos by my friend and photographer, Suzanne Box

How to Turn Your Life Around

“I used to be hungry. I didn’t know where to get my next meal. My life was so hard. And then I became pregnant and I was kicked out of school. I was so hopeless.

But God found me and I moved to *Rehema House. I have so much food now; I have a chance at education. I love God so much and I understand the Bible and his love for me. I have clothes and I am a mother now to my baby. I love my life.”

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Rose’s story is just one of many. They all sound different, but they are the same.

This is my story, too.

I was living for myself, pursuing the American Dream of having bigger and better. But I woke up in a slum and found rich people among the poor. And discovered a spirit of poverty in my rich life.

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God has the final say and He showed me how to give my life away.

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And that’s how I found it.

God turned my life around.

And He will do the same for you.

How to Turn Your Life Around

1. Accept Who He Is: God commands our destiny. When we accept His power and purpose for our lives, it throws open the windows of the impossible. He is I am.

2. Acknowledge What He Can Do: If anything, I pray my life will show you that God can do anything with anyone. He can make a way where there is no way. He delights in the impossible. Try Him.

3. Agree to Give Your Life Away: When we lose our life for His sake, we will find it. When we put God first, others second, ourselves third, we find true peace, happiness and wealth we cannot imagine.

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“I now have hope.

God has turned my life around.” -Rose, age 17.

 

*Rehema is Swahili for mercy.

Thanksgiving on the Other Side of the Globe

Thanksgiving Menu:

Flour chapatis

Maize

Beans

Rice

Watermelon

 

Kenyan Pantry

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Meal Preparation is an all day affair:

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Everyone has a job:

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Family Devotion Time:

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Talking about dinner manners:

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A beautiful table setting:

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Full tummies:

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After-Dinner Naps:

(how many babies can you find?)

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Decorating for Christmas:

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It’s a lot like your day!

Thanksgiving.

Thanksliving.

Thank you God that it’s not about giving on one day. It’s about giving our lives away.

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For When You Wonder if You’re Valuable

Once there was a prince and he was looking for a wife. He searched the land and found a farmer with two daughters. When he asked about the dowry for the young maidens, the farmer explained that for the educated daughter, who was beautiful and smart, pure and above reproach, the dowry was ten cows, a small fortune. But for the second daughter who was uneducated and not as pretty and broken, the dowry was one cow. The prince left and said he would come back the next day with his decision.

And he did.

He presented the father with ten healthy cows and the farmer brought his firstborn daughter.

“No,” the prince replied. “It is the second daughter I want.”

“Oh, you have paid too much,” the father protested. But the prince gave the ten cows. Because he saw beyond her appearance or situation.

He saw her for who she would become. He knew what love could do. DSC_1717 He recognized her value.

This Kenyan Proverb was shared at our very first Mercy House Graduation today. The first four girls brought into the maternity home, almost three years ago now have completed Phase 1 of the Rehema House program. And now they move into Phase 2, a halfway house of sorts with more independence and outside education as they are slowly reintegrated back into their homes if it’s a viable option.

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They were rescued when they were most hopeless.

They were redeemed when they were destitute.

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They have beautifully transformed from broken, desperate girls into glowing new creations.

They have been given hope.

And a future. DSC_1593 Every resident has a unique situation and while some may stay three years, others may stay longer. But the ultimate goal is to make disciples and send them out into the world as a light, a new generation of Esthers.

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It was humbling beyond words–to be in this place for such a time as this.

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As I shared how all this began, one small yes, that’s grown into a God-sized dream, I could only give God the glory and thank Him for the good work He has done.

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For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. -Psalm 139:13-14

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As Terrell and I knelt on our knees before these beautiful new creations, robed in royalty, we washed their feet.

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And not for one minute did these girls wonder if they were valuable.

They knew they belonged to the Prince of Peace.

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That’s what love will do.

(in)Mercy LIVE from Africa

Teen-aged laughter and baby giggles.

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Heartfelt worship songs and dancing feet.

Red dirt and colorful laundry hanging on the line.

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I’m in Kenya this week with my family at Mercy House and this verse is alive in my heart:

“O, Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.’ -Psalm 33:9

Sometimes when we give money, we wonder if it really goes to what it’s asked for. I’m your eyewitness today, testifying of mercy.

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Maureen, Kenyan Director

We have a little more wiggle room for our 24 residents now and in our new-to-us van.

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Two new classrooms are already in use…

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As a skills room

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and a computer lab that will take our students to the next level of learning.

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Click to continue to read all God has done through (in)mercy at DaySpring….