Almost home!

To start off this post, I’d like to say that I really wish I blogged more– and for those of you who keep up with this, I’m sure you do too. I really regret not blogging more while I was in Kenya. Sometimes I was too busy, but other times I definitely had the time, It’s just something that’s very difficult for me and I don’t really know why. I’d like to self-diagnose myself with writer’s anxiety (does that even exist?)… I think it started sometime after the age of 12… when writing assignments became more than just creative short-story writings and I had to really put my thoughts to words. At even the smallest assignment I would cringe and put it off until the very last minute and then sit staring at the computer. The funny thing was, as soon as I started typing, everything flowed out just fine and in no time I was finished. Yet every paper, paragraph, or essay still seemed daunting. Well, that’s how it is for me now with blogging. When the time comes to catch up I say, “Nah, I’ll do it another time”, or “I’m not in the mood”, or “I don’t know what to write”… and then I finally convince myself, get on my computer, try to distract myself with other things on said computer, slowly pull up my blog site, stare at the screen a bit, and then with whatever comes to mind (currently this) I start– and things usually begin to flow.

 

So now I’ve started and I can’t turn back. The problem is, I haven’t chosen a topic. I guess this might be another scattered post. Well, for starters, a week from today I’ll be home. Next Friday night (or early Saturday morning) I’ll be getting on a plane at 3am, and flying about 20 hours to L.A.  When I made my flights, I (strangely) had a layover in L.A. so I asked the travel agent if it would be possible (and free) to extent the layover overnight and she said it was no problem. So Micah will pick me up Saturday morning and I’ll get to stay at Biola until Sunday afternoon/evening when I fly home. Again, such an unexpected blessing! So glad for even just a short 2 days with him before he gets home to Kauai at the end of May. And then Sunday at approximately 7:25pm I will be HOME. I have never so looked forward to being home…. I can’t even put into words how excited and ready I am to be back. It’s not at all that I don’t want to be here longer or haven’t been happy in where I’ve been the past months, it’s just that as the time draws closer I feel such a readiness and longing to finally be home.

 

It’s been such a full 7 and a half months, and I think I’ve only begun to start processing it all… Looking back on it, wow, there’s just so much. I don’t even know how to sum it up, how to share about all that I’ve learned, all that has happened, everything. I want to share so much when I get home, there is so much I never wrote about, so many stories to tell, so many inner-workings in my heart that I don’t know how to express. I’ll try my hardest when I get back though– writing just isn’t going to cut it! Wrote a bit out but decided I’d rather just share when I get back– Even though speaking in front of people is probably the thing in life I dread and fear most (other than toads), I feel that I can much better share my heart through that than writing. I’ve never been very good at it or confident in it, but I’m praying the Lord will give me words to say and clarity, boldness, and passion to do so. And maybe after some more reflection and preparation and thought on all of that, I’ll be able to write it all out more clearly too– to post here. So that’s that. God is so faithful– and that, more than anything else, is what I can see so clearly looking back through this time. Sure, there are a lot of hard things, a lot of questions, worries, wonderings… but the greatness of God, His love and power, the way He moves and works in everything, that is what I am overwhelmed with right now, that is what gives me Hope and strength and love to pour out each new day.

 

And now I’ll write about this last month in Thailand. Details. It’s gone by SO fast! The first week was pretty difficult. Everything whirling through my head after leaving Kenya, so much to process and think about, then add jet lag, and starting the day after I got in, full time care of the baby. It was a hard adjustment, and like I said before, being a mom is a lot of work. But it’s also such a joy! After a while, the stress of all the newness wore off and things became a little more routine. I got used to never getting a full nights rest and always feeling like I needed about 3 cups of coffee, I learned to multitask– holding Silaa and getting as in with the other kids as I possibly can, I learned (or am still learning) really how to not just care for a baby, but go through each day with a baby– getting other things done but still loving on her and caring for her… and I’ve really come to love her so much! I’ve been stretched beyond what I thought my limits of exhaustion were, and I’m finally “used to” or “adjusted to” being Silaa’s little mom right now. Of course, now that I’m “adjusted”, I’m leaving in a week. Always how things go… I guess it’ll be a good week!

 

There’s not really too much to write about other than caring for Silaa and all the lessons learned from that, but there are a few things for sure. After the first week there was a team coming to put on an English camp. I wasn’t really sure how that would be or what kind of team it was, what ages, etc, but oh, it was such a blessing! It was a YWAM DTS team from Kona and most of them were around my age and a little older. I realized after a few days that it was really the first time in a long time spending time with people from my culture in my age group again, having that fellowship with other believers, and it was so nice and needed. Made some great friends in only two weeks and had some fun adventures. Got to ride elephants with them, went to the beach a couple of times, went crabbing one night, and other little things (like getting completely soaked in the first (and second) rainstorm of this drought since I’ve been here). It was sad to see them go after the 2 weeks, but really such a blessing to have them here for that time. Reminded me of being here last year with our (super awesome) team. Leading the kids in worship, organizing games and crafts, they did a lot and were a huge blessing to everyone here. So cool how the Lord brought us all here at the same time and made all of those connections. His timing is always so perfect! Sometimes I can be pretty impatient and wish His timing were my timing, but I know He knows so much better than I do.

 

I’m so glad to be here right now. I’m so glad that the Lord led me to spend this month and a half here and that I’ve been able to be a part of raising up this little girl in this wonderful home. Constantly holding a baby, making bottles, feeding, changing diapers, changing sheets, cleaning spit up, and everything else can get pretty tiring and repetitive, but then I look at the bigger picture. This baby will one day be an adult, she will grow up in this home, surrounded by love, and I pray she will come to know and love the Lord deeply and serve Him with her life! I just have a small part of raising her, a month of her life, and even though it’s just little things right now, just physical care, “baby stuff”, I know it is all working towards a greater purpose. And I pray for her life each day as I hold her, each night as I wake up from my precious sleep to feed her. Caring for this baby is what the Lord has for me to do right now, and maybe I can’t see the Spiritual fruits of it yet, but I am thankful to serve in this way and I trust in the Lord’s purposes in it all.

 

Another thing in being here that I am so thankful for is Auntie Dorien and Uncle Mark! They’re truly amazing. They lead this home in such a Godly way, and these kids have more love than I believe they would have in any family with a real mom and dad. They have taught me so much and been so patient with me as I’ve learned. They work so hard and pour themselves out completely for Christ and for these children and it’s so encouraging to experience. This place is a haven, it’s a little light in such a dark place, it is (as it’s name means) a home of peace and happiness. It is the Lord’s and I believe He is greatly pleased and glorified by all that happens and will happen in the future here.

 

So, my time here is almost up and I’ll see you all very soon. I’m really excited to be back at church, part of such an amazing church-family, back in my home with such an amazing real-family, and back on Kauai! (For now, at least). Oh! Something I forgot to mention is that 4 days after getting home, I will be leaving again to spend 2 weeks in Korea… then finally home! My grandma decided she wanted to take me and my parents on a Korea tour/trip after I got home and I thought it sounded really cool– Didn’t realize it would be RIGHT after I got home, but oh well, still really excited! I might blog another time before coming home, but this may be the last post for a while… Maybe I’ll keep it going on Kauai, but I really don’t know.

 

Thank you all, whoever reads this, for supporting me, coming alongside me, and always lifting me up in prayer for these past 7(ish) months. I’m truly blessed by you all! Keep praying! I’m almost home. And even then, keep praying…. there’s still so much ahead.

 

SO MUCH LOVE,

Emily Hope

Thailand

No time to edit, bear with me…

 

So much time has passed I don’t even remember how to blog, or what to catch up on, or how to get everything inside of my head out. At this point, I don’t even want to “catch up” and don’t really have the memory capabilities to do so… All I can do now is write about the present, and maybe the last week or two. The time from last time I wrote until now was full and challenging and great and so many things—I’ll be home soon enough and can tell lots of stories. AND I have a lot of pictures and will post them soon and kind of recap the time through pictures. But now I’m here, and everything is different, and there’s still—Like before I even knew I was coming to Kenya or Thailand– SO MUCH AHEAD.

Leaving Kenya was incredibly hard. I felt ready to go, like it was the right time, excited for this next season of life, knowing I’d be back as soon as I could. But then I was gone, and I still don’t know when I’ll be able to go back next, I felt so many different things, and I felt the same feeling I had felt flying to Kenya… “What am I doing? What is this next season of life going to look like?”.But I think through every season of our lives, we will have those questions.

Seasons change, and with life you really never know what the season next will look like… But that’s okay, because we serve and follow a God who does know. Who knows it all, who knows our hearts more than we know them ourselves, and knows exactly what our lives will look like from beginning to end.  We can think we have things figured out, we know what we’re doing, who we are, and what we want… but then things change, they always do, and we’re in that place of complete confusion yet again. And that’s scary. It’s scary not knowing, it’s scary knowing that you’ll never be in a place where you “have it all figured out”… but it’s beautiful.

We can try to control things and shape our lives to fit the preconceptions we’ve formed over time, or the cookie cutter mold of what a “successful American lifestyle” should look like… But why? If God, in His perfect sovereignty, has every detail of our lives already laid out and desires for us to simply follow Him in it, why would we want to take things into our own hands? Why would we trust in our hands rather than His? Well, because when things are in our own hands, we can see… at least we think we can. We can plan, strive, and look ahead to all that we desire( what does that matter anyway); we can be in control. But in the end, we’re more lost than we’d like to admit… and joy, peace, love…? What are those things?

Walking in all that God has laid out for us is hard, because it takes faith. Not just the idea of faith, or the word– Faith, but real, daily, peace-that-passes-understanding-FAITH. Recklessly abandoned to self FAITH. Faith that is rooted in our knowledge of and love for Christ. Faith that steps blindly, only knowing one step ahead but taking it anyway, trusting that the next step will show in time. Faith that is not based on varying feelings, but is built on the Solid Rock, founded on Christ… for if our faith has no foundation, it will so easily be shaken.

He is the only Way we can have this faith, He supplies “to each a measure of faith” and as we seek Him and follow Him in that small faith, oh how greatly he grows and builds upon it. Sometimes we step in faith and find ourselves walking on water, and we can feel all the beauty and splendor of His presence; and sometimes we step in faith and we are led into the wilderness, wandering, thirsty, and not really sure how we “feel”. But in both of these seasons, in every step of faith, whether we can see it or not, He is growing us and guiding us and strengthening us for yet another “step”. And He always will. So whether we are “walking on water” or “wandering in the wilderness”, we can stand firm in the faith that we have, and hold fast to the hope that we have, IN HIM and BY HIM.

Not really sure how I got into that or why, I guess it’s just a little bit of what’s been going though my mind lately, something I’ve also been struggling with. Right now, walking in faith, I’ve been led into “the wilderness”. My heart is in so many places, I have been in so many places, and I’m not sure where to go next. I’m not sure what to do, or how, or when… But I don’t need to know, I just need to trust that He does, and that through this time of “wandering”, He is preparing me for the next season He has for me. My life has changed so much, I feel that I have changed so much, and I know that will only continue… But my life is in HIM, and He will never change, and I can rest in that knowledge, in that faith. He is good. Always.

So now I’m in Thailand, taking care of a four month old baby, and adjusting to a “new life” here after being at IAA for so long. Life is beautiful here, and I’m so glad to be back. It’s hard adjusting though to being gone from somewhere I spent such a long and full time… But I hope to be back soon and more in the future. (Anyone want to join me?) and I know that the Lord is at work in and through all of this.

I’m learning a lot from being here, even just in this first week. I’m learning, as always, to more fully rely on Christ… and that without Him, I am truly nothing. I’m also learning that being a mom is really hard work and if I ever decide to be one, I hope I’m at least 35! I’m learning that whether I” feel” okay or not, whether I feel His presence so strongly, or I’m dry and thirsty yearning for it, He is good and He is faithful and He is here… and I will seek Him…for my faith is not based on feelings. I’m learning that I still have so much to learn, I guess I always will, but in these next few years especially. I’m learning to simply BE in Christ, steadfastly rooted in Him, and through that, to Love with that love that only He supplies, to live in that Joy that is only full in Him, and to let His peace flow through me, not worrying about what’s next, but keeping my eyes and my heart and my entire being fixed on Him alone. I am learning that I can only do so much, that it really doesn’t matter what I do or how, or who I am, but who HE is and what He has already done. The work is all His! All I can do is faithfully plant and water as he leads… trusting that it is He who brings the increase. I am learning (trying to, at least) not to worry so much… about everything. I’m learning a lot, and I hope I always will.

And now, I’m going to have to be done writing. I almost gave up several times while writing this and “saved it for later”, but I knew if I did that I’d never finish it. There’s so much more to write, and I’m not sure if what I’ve written so far even makes sense, but I wrote what was on my heart, and now I need to go to sleep and I’d like to post what I have so far before doing so. I’ll try to write more soon (I know I always say that)… more about life over here, the kids, and of course, PICTURES.

Pray for me in this transitioning time, for my heart, pray for peace and joy and that I would be filled with the Love of Christ to pour on all those around me. Pray for guidance and wisdom for the future. Continue to pray for IAA, and for Baan Santisuk (where I am now) as well. Thank you all for your faithful prayers during this time… I’ll be home so soon and I can’t wait! One month from today, KAUAI! See you all (well, some of you) soon.

Much love,

Emily

On my way

Left Kenya last night and am currently on my way to Thailand. Meant to blog before leaving and catch up on the past almost 2 months but things were busy– I’ll write more soon. Pray for the remaining flight to Thailand and getting in alright. Pray for my heart– leaving Kenya was hard…now I feel homesick for two places… But I’m so ready for what the Lord has in store for this next month and a half in Thailand and all that’s to come… and I know I’ll be coming back to Kenya.

Love and miss everyone at home and will be back April 13th… WOOHOO. See you soon, Kauai. Thank you all for your prayers! As soon as I’m settled in Thailand I’ll try to catch up on writing. Can’t wait to meet my little baby Silaa (while in Thailand I will be caring for Baan Santisuk’s newest addition, 3 month old Silaa) and see all the kids again! 

Much love,

Emily

Kenyan Adventures (A post by Micah :D)

Okay, so Emily requested that I (Micah) write a post about my visit to Kenya! I don’t really think I’m a good writer, so please bare with me. Alright, here goes nothing:

Sooooo, let’s just say the plane ride there took forever times infinite. After the first plane ride to LAX, everything was just a blur. I felt like I was floating around the airport, probably because I was sleep deprived. Luckily, Uncle Tristan brought along some memory foam neck pillows, which were pretty darn amazing. We got up and walked around every so often to prevent blood clots. Most of the time I just tried sleeping, although I did watch a few movies. Regular movies are pretty gnarly nowadays (lame scenes, swearing left and right, people being lame), so I stuck to the kid section :p (Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, etc.). Anyways… eventually we finally made it to Nairobi airport! The smell of the air there almost reminded me of Thailand in a strange way. We got our Visas, cleared customs, and stepped out into the city of Nairobi. A huge crowd of drivers holding up signs awaited us outside the airport, and it almost reminded me of a paparazzi crowd. We found our driver (holding up a “Fensterman and Young Party” sign) and he brought us to the car. His name was Peter. Because the children’s home was another 2 hr. drive or so outside the city and we arrived pretty late, we had to stay overnight at another place called the Mayfield house. Apparently that is where a lot of missionaries stay when they fly in or are waiting to fly out of Nairobi. So we got to the Mayfield house, a man opened the gates, and searched for our names on the list. But he couldn’t find it. While we were trying to figure everything out, I saw a silhouette in the window. Uncle Tristan said it was Emily, but I was a little skeptical. I guess her hair was a little longer than I remembered it… I really didn’t think it was her. We stood their for a while longer, then Emily walked out from the side of the house. I think my body went into temporary shock. She came up to me and I hugged her as tightly as I could. I just stared at her for a long time, holding her hand, and finally managed to get out the word “Hi”. I don’t know what I felt. It just didn’t feel real. Was this really happening? Am I really standing next to Emily right now? That’s what I was thinking. But then it started to sink in. Whoa, I’m really here right now. What a blessing. She seemed so different than from what I remembered, yet exactly the same. Turned out, Emily had already checked us in, so we got our bags and went upstairs. It’s weird, but for the first time I was actually nervous around Emily. We were friends before we started dating, so I never felt awkward or scared around her. But at that moment in time, I had butterflies packed into my stomach and a frog in my throat. I was so nervous. Eventually though, it all passed and then it felt as if we had never said goodbye. Okay, I’m writing way too much about this so I’ll try and move on. After taking showers, we all went to bed with mosquito nets, except for Emily. She didn’t really think she needed it, until that night mosquitoes were buzzing in her ear throughout the night.

Okay so the next day we actually got to see the city. We stopped by a place to exchange our money/go to a grocery store, then were on our way to the children’s home. I was pretty silent in the car, just staring out the window and soaking in the sights. Large buildings, small buildings. Cars everywhere (on the left side of the road). Little stores made out of storage containers. A lot of them once we got further outside the city. Dirt. Cows. Grass. Mountains. Once out of the city and into the country, it almost felt like we were back on Kauai. The air smelled prettier :D. Sheep, cows, and donkeys tied up and grazing on the side of the road. Once we hit a certain point, the road started to get bumpy, and it stayed bumpy until we reached Into Abba’s Arms. Fast forward 2 hrs. and BAM! we were finally there. The site was nothing like I pictured in my head. You know how you have those ideas in your head of what a place you’ve never been to looks like? And then you’re way off? That’s what it was like. Met Nelson and Josphat at the gate, playing soccer. We got a tour around the farm, the nursery school tent, the church, and the main house. Unloaded are things and then just took one BIG BREATHER. We made. We were finally there.

Getting to know and hang out with all of those kids, young and old (some older than me) was great. The little kids just never stopped. Always moving, always having fun, getting into fights, crying, quickly getting over it, then being as happy as they were before. Nobody called me Uncle Micah there, but everyone called Emily, Aunty Emily. Pretty funny, but I don’t really like being called Uncle anyway. Makes me feel way older than I am. Anyways some fun things we did, hmm…. One day we took all the little kids fishing in the shallow lakes a 15ish minute walk from IAA. They tied pieces of sausage to a string and when the prawns grabbed hold of them, they would pull it up and grab hold of the prawn, or scoop it out. Then they would pull off the prawns claws, tie those on strings, and catch more prawns. Pretty entertaining. We did a lot of activities with the older kids too. One day we all went on a safari horseback ride, for a ridiculously low price. I only have ridden a horse once in my life, so I was pretty freaked out and nervous, but it was great. Apparently Emily was a stellar pro horseback rider in her younger years, and still is to this day. I’m pretty timid when it comes to horses. They’re way too big to be friendly… Final cool event I’ll write about is our free boat ride. We took most of the older kids to a clubhouse that they used to go to every Saturday. Apparently, the manager found out we were from a children’s home and set up a free boat ride, hippo sight-seeing adventure for us! There were crazy monkeys running around the site, but the place looked pretty fancy. They even sat us down and served us chai tea and french fries (the workers there, not the monkeys). It was a little foggy that day, but the boat ride was such a blessing as well. It turned out to be a pretty great day.

I could go on and on about all that we did, but that would take me forever, so if you want to know more, find me and ask me, call me up, shoot me a text, or find me on Facebook, instagram, or twitter (jk I don’t have any of the last 3 things I listed). So now I will talk more about the trip in general. First off, I want to say a big thanks/mahalo to all who supported our mission trip or Emily’s, or both. Seriously, it was such a blessing from God, and I can’t even begin to describe how thankful I am to have such an awesome body of believers surrounding us. God is working in and through Emily so faithfully over there. Through the prayers and financial support. Through it all, He is so faithful. One thing that I have realized since this trip is I have a lot of growing up to do still. I am looking to enter the mission field long-term and this trip opened my eyes to the areas of my life I desire to grow in before doing so. I am praying “Lord, Send me”, but listening to His perfect will and timing in the matter. Serving alongside Emily in Kenya, even for those 10 short days, gave me a glimpse into what we could be doing in the future. But we place all that in His perfect hands. We still have a lot of growing up to do before then, and I rejoice for where He has placed us during this season. Some things that you can be praying for us, that we would have our eyes completely set on HIM. On Christ. Nothing in this world is greater than the love of Christ. Pray for boldness, for growth, and that He may prepare and equip us for the mission field if that be His Will. Above all, pray that He may be glorified completely and fully in and through our lives, together or apart, all for His glory. To Him be all the glory and honor and praise forever and ever.

All in all, (and I’m taking this from my thank you letters I sent out a week or so ago) we may have not led “X amount” of people to Christ, or installed “this many” solar panels, or built “this amount” of buildings in such a short time, but I don’t really believe “success” on a mission trip is found in the numbers. It is found in following Jesus, and doing what He calls us to do—sharing Christ Himself in word and deed, loving God and loving others, being purposeful and redeeming the time, not letting any opportunity to glorify Him pass you by, planting seeds and trusting that God will bring the growth in His perfect timing. In fact, this doesn’t only apply to missions, but to the everyday walk in the Kingdom of God. I pray that the relationships we have formed there will continue to grow as they are rooted in Our Father, and that one day we may go back, building on those we have already formed and creating new ones, all in an effort to share who Christ is, the grace that He has freely given to us and the radical commitment He calls us to as we drop everything to follow Him. When I am comfortable, I feel uncomfortable, yet when I am uncomfortable; that is when I feel most comfortable. I guess what I am trying to say is, let us all seek to not grow “comfortable” or stagnant in our faith, but walk boldly and continually in step with the Living God, daily abiding in Him as we declare His name here on Earth and into eternity.

-Micah

P.S. Going to sleep now, pretty late. Thanks to everyone who is reading this blog and continuing to lift up Emily in prayer! Praise be to Him and may His name be lifted high!

Catching up, Christmas, and the best surprise ever.

So much has changed and happened  in the past month I don’t even know how to write about it all. I’m sorry I’ve gone so long without updating, but the more time that went by the harder it became to even want to write because it just seemed so overwhelming to try to put it all down. Even now, I don’t feel like I can sum it all up or even come close. I don’t even know where to start, but I want to write before any more time goes by. Time has gone by so quickly, I’m past my halfway point here, over three months down and basically 2 and a half to go. That’s so crazy to think about.

This past month has been hard– and busy, and crazy– and also really good. It’s probably been the hardest since I’ve been here but it’s also probably been the best. I think “hard” is good… because there is almost no growth if you just stay inside your comfort-zone, and that’s so easy to do—but so much is missing… I have been stretched far beyond my comfort zone, and far beyond what I thought I could handle, but it has brought so much growth in me, growth that never would have come about if I had stayed in what was comfortable to me, growth that I know is only from the Lord. He has shown me so much, He has shown me firsthand that without Him I can do nothing, and when I try to do things on my own I fail and get frustrated and become so overwhelmed—but He faithfully picks me up and teaches me to trust in Him and not in myself. It seems like an easy concept, why trust in your own strength, when you have the Almighty God by your side leading you? But it takes faith and whole lot of prayer to actually live that out, to stop relying on what you think you can do and to give it all fully to His sovereign hands. It’s something I am still daily learning to do, something He is still teaching me. As I trust in Him, He is giving me (and has faithfully given me through this crazy month) the strength I need daily. There’s that verse (I’m bad with references) that says that God never gives you more than you can handle… I think it’s taken out of context almost all the time—Yes, He does give you more than you can handle… more than you can handle on your own. He does this to teach us to rely fully on Him. Because without Him we are nothing, and it is only by His strength that we can “handle” any of the trials He places in our paths. He is the Vine and we are the branches, apart from Him we can do nothing, but as we abide in Him and He in us, He works in and through us and grows us up as branches reaching out to this lost and crazy world we live in. Praise be to Him that we don’t have to try to handle these things on our own, praise be to Him that we don’t have to rely on our strength or knowledge or abilities or experience! Praise be to Him that we, when going through things we never thought we could handle, can rest in the knowledge that He has us! And He will never leave our side.

I don’t have the time, energy, or even memory capabilities to write about all that’s happened this past month but I’ll write out some “highlights”… of both the good and the hard stuff. Here we go… finally.

So, starting at the end of November: Auntie Donna left for her 2 months home and I took on a lot of her responsibilities, then the highschooler’s came back and things were pretty crazy, then the guy who was here as site manager for a trial 6 month basis was let go so I was by myself (well, not actually—but the only American). Plus I was a housemom for those 2 weeks, so I was standing in for 3 people, plus me.  Needless to say, those few weeks were pretty crazy and busy and stretching but I really learned a lot and I’m so thankful. The Lord really stretched me and strengthened my faith just in those short weeks. He showed me in such real ways that in my weakness, HE alone is my strength and comfort.

Toward the beginning of December all the highschoolers (except 2 girls) and almost all of the middle-school aged kids went to visit extended family members for the month. Things settled down a lot and I’ve really gotten to know the 2 highschool girls that stayed. One of them just finished highschool and is planning to go to college in America and it’s been really cool hanging out with her and getting to know her. We’ve been able to have a couple really good talks and we always crack eachother up. She’s pretty quiet, so it was hard at first, but I started teaching her guitar and that kind-of started our friendship.

The latter part of this month has been a lot less crazy than the few weeks previous. It’s still been busy, but more manageable. I’ve mostly been doing the normal “Auntie Donna responsibilities” stuff and just spending a lot of time with the highschool girls—and with my bebe’s of course. I’m a housemom every weekend and that’s the perfect amount of time for me, it’s a lot of work but it’s fun—so two nights is perfect. A lady from Nairobi came to help out with things and just be here for this month and it’s been so nice having her here, she’s so fun for the kids and is always making everyone laugh. We’ve had a lot of fun this month with everyone off of school—the younger kids all went on a “field trip” to Nakuru (about 2 and a half hours away) to a park area near a game park where you can see a lot of the animals… they had lunch and played games in the field and had a lot of fun. While the younger kids did that (with all the housemoms and Lillian (the lady from Nairobi), we took the older kids to a waterpark in Nairobi for the day… Uncle Chris, a guy who lived here with his wife for a year and comes every year to see the kids was here with a friend so all the highschool boys came home to see him and that’s when we went to the waterpark. He took the ones who didn’t want to swim to play putt-putt and I took the rest to swim( all in the same “mall” type place—Nairobi is all that). Swam and rode huge waterslides for hours—everyone had a really good time. It was really nice having Uncle Chris here, he knows all the boys so well and they all really respect and love him. I was so encouraged by and learned a lot from him and I’m really thankful for the Lord bringing both him and Lillian (the lady from Nairobi) here for the times they were both here—it was definitely much-needed fellowship.

AND THEN…. There was Christmas – and all the planning, shopping, and Christmassy crafts and baking and things for the kids to do before Christmas. It was busy busy busy, but such a fun Christmas. Did some cute crafts and things with the kids—made ornaments, baked and decorated sugar cookies, colored and cut out nativity figures and made paper nativity sheets, and a few other little things. (all in the week and a half before Chrismas). The weekend before Christmas, me and Caren (girl who finished highschool) and some of the younger-older boys (11-12 year olds and the two who are going into highschool this year) spent the day decorating for Christmas. Found a beautiful Charlie brown(ish) Christmas tree, trimmed it up and set it up in the living room area, decorated it, made a mantle piece with branches, and made about 100 or more paper snowflakes and hung them along the wall/ceiling around the whole room. That night we had a Christmas party type thing, all the kids put their ornaments on the tree one at a time and we sang Christmas songs and talked about why we celebrate Christmas and ate cakes and sodas. A few days before Christmas, Caren and I found all the old stockings that they had used a few years back and decided to do stockings for everyone this year… I had to make 5 more so we’d have enough (they turned out pretty awful, but they worked) and then we stuffed almost 30 stockings (older kids are still gone with family, otherwise it would’ve been 44) with candy, and candy, and candy, and pencils and stickers… and candy! All the kids were stoked! On Christmas Eve we had another Christmas “party” for them… Ate brownies, turned out the lights and had a glow-stick dance party/freeze-dance game, then had a fashion show with a big box of Christmas pageant costumes they had upstairs. Then we settled down and read the Christmas story (a kids version), sang some songs, and everyone went to sleep—except the older kids—we all stayed up till midnight to say Merry Christmas to eachother, and then stayed up a little longer just for fun, then finally went to bed.  Christmas morning they had breakfast and then they all came inside and sat quietly on the floor waiting—handed out their stockings and watched them dump everything out and smile and laugh and eat candy… then they opened their other present (some toys I had gotten them and clothes that the housemoms picked out) and for the rest of the day just played and ate sweets and good food.

Last Christmas in Thailand was pretty amazing, but this one might have topped it… All of it was so fun, staying up Christmas Eve night (just like last year, but with different people) and Christmas morning—something that made it especially the best though was the Christmas present that my family and Micah surprised me with. I didn’t expect to get anything for Christmas (although after everyone opened presents one of the highschool girls, Sheilah, I guess noticed I didn’t have anything to open and went to her room and wrapped me up a really sweet note/bookmark and an old bracelet she had.. it was really cool) but something I never thought could happen came in the form of a phone-call. While talking to my family, my dad told me about their Christmas Eve service at church and how there was a lot of good food after—but he said he couldn’t eat any of it because of some medicine he was on…. I asked what and he said he was taking some Typhoid pills… I thought to myself “hey, I had to take those before I came here” but I figured he had to take them for some reason because he’s a nurse or something and cluelessly asked him why. Then he told me he was coming to visit me… in two weeks… I started crying and laughing at the same time and didn’t believe it—then he said he was bringing someone with him—and Micah started talking (didn’t know he was on the other line) and If I was crying/laughing before, It came 10 times more. I think I said “Oh my goodness” and “really” and “I’m so happy right now” about 100 times. I was pretty in shock and incredibly happy for the rest of the day (and still).

God works in incredible ways, and I’m humbled by how small my faith is. The first month I was here, I (and Micah too) was praying about a chance for him to be able to come to visit while I was over here—I even said it would be cool if him and my dad could come together and sort of joked with my dad about it. I prayed about it for a while, but for some reason I just started to feel like it could never happen—too much going on, a lot of money, etc  and I let it go, we both did, not wanting to hope for something that probably wouldn’t happen. But God knew my heart, and even when I didn’t dare hope (I mean I had completely let go even the idea of him or anyone coming to visit while I was here and hoped maybe I could bring him and some people next time I came), God made a way. He is so faithful, in every way, and I am seeing His greatness more and more as I let go of “self”–of what I think I can do, of what I think I can plan for in the future, of what I so often think I can control—and as I cling to who He is, and what He can do, His strength and glory and the plans that He already has laid out for my future. He is good, His ways are perfect, and He is worthy of all of our praise. In the hard times, the stressful situations, all the learning and growing, the good and the fun times, the lonely times, the times where His voice and presence are so clear, and the times He is quiet and still, in the relationships I’m forming here, and the amazing blessings like these—in all of it, He is showing me more of who He is, His faithfulness, sovereignty, and everlasting love and power. Bless the Lord, Oh my soul!

So Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year (if I don’t write again by then). I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written, it’s just hard to put aside the time. Thank you all for your prayers and for faithfully supporting me and encouraging me in this. I’m so excited to have my dad and Micah here (14 more days!) I can’t even put into words what a blessing this is. God’s timing is so perfect. He knew I needed this right now.

And now I’m done—I definitely couldn’t fit all of what’s happened and been going on the past month, but that’s most of it, I finally wrote it all out. Took me long enough. Continue to pray—for the 2 weeks Micah and my dad will be here, a fruitful trip for them and good relationships with the kids, for my remaining 2 months and a week here—continued relationships with the older girls especially– and for me to be able to find a good and inexpensive flight to Thailand—and for my time there. Also, please pray for me to be consistent in being in the Word and in prayer, it is something I need daily, but it’s hard for me to set aside longer, uninterrupted times to be doing that, especially with so much always going on and usually always being tired. Pray that The Lord would give me strength in this—I am nothing without Him, and a day without dwelling in His presence is a day wasted… and our time here is precious, it is unknown, a vapor, and I want to live each day for His glory, in His strength. Thanks for praying. I love you all.

 

–Emily Hope (currently the happiest girl in the world)

 

Oops, forgot one thing… I also turned 19 and got the Kenyan birthday present of someone dumping a huge bucket of water on you at a random time in the day while you are going about your business. It was pretty funny and fun. (thanks, Sheilah.) I also got the best birthday present someone could possibly give me (I’m a lucky girl). Micah made a video of clips of all the people I love, all my friends, family, even friends from Virginia, and bebe Harbor, and himself, all saying happy birthday and talking and encouraging me. I was pretty homesick around that time, especially that day, and I cried like a baby watching the video, but they were happy tears. Laughed a lot too. Thanks, Micah, and everyone who made video clips—that was the best—I meant so much to me and encouraged me greatly! A little piece of home. Alright, that’s it now, I promise (I think). I might try to post the birthday video soon, or have Micah do it, it’s pretty sweet. I have a lot of pictures I want to post too but I seem to have lost the cord that connects my memory card to my computer (oops) I guess I’ll have to have Micah and my dad bring me another one. Okay, that’s REALLY all. Much love!

“Mom-Emily”

I have a little down time right now and better write before things get extremely busy again. So here I go, this crazy weekend and less crazy week.
Over this past weekend I was a house-mom to 12 kids ages 6 to 13– from Friday to Sunday evening. Over all I think it went pretty well. A few things I learned are as follows:

1. House mom’s work REALLY hard. All day. And I’m determined to help them out more now that I know what their jobs consist of on a daily basis.

2. 12 kids make a lot of laundry, especially when they will not wear the same thing twice. I’m talking 2-3 extra-full loads a day! That’s washing, hanging, un-hanging, folding, and putting away. Pretty time consuming.

3. Kenyan kids wet their beds, a lot. Both mornings I changed/washed 5-6 beds of sheets. That’s like half of the kids. And not just the two 6 year old boys, several of the 9-11 year old girls.

4. If I wanted 12 kids, I could probably handle it. But I REALLY don’t.

5. Being called “mom” freaks me out a little. They call their house mom’s “mom-_____” so I was mom-Emily, but they mostly shorten it to mom, so over the weekend I was called mom several times. Not ready for that.

Anyway, those were my “lessons” learned from being a house mom. I’ll give you a glimpse of my Saturday from some snippets of an e-mail I wrote to Micah. Really, if you want to know what I’m up to/how I’m doing on a more regular basis, just ask him. 😉

Night and day one of being a house mom went pretty swell. So far, at least. Got everyone ready for bed. Made toast for my little boys and girls, and made popcorn for the older boys cause I had said that I would. Tucked in the little boys then instead of story time with the little girls we had “music time” and I brought my guitar down and we played/sang fun songs. Then tucked everyone in and spent a little time with Lydiah. Came back to the room and got all ready for bed and she read a little while I read a little in John and then she went to sleep. Then hung out with Teresiah who was busy before. She wanted me to sleep on her bed with her so we squished (tiny twin bed). Woke up at 6:45 and got the boys up and to their showers then the girls, then everyone dried and dressed, then 6 beds to change sheets on because that many of them wet their beds. Then to breakfast at 7:30. Then I had my breakfast, swept and mopped half the downstairs, did a bunch of laundry (12 kids make a lot of laundry in one day!) had a little time upstairs to get ready for the day/do what I normally do in morning but pretty rushed. Then I helped in the kitchen peeling potatoes a bit then hung out laundry, and now I’m here. Not sure exactly what I have to do the rest of the day—some more laundry, lunch, have to bake something for praise and worship time tonight, the older boys want to play kickball again, then have to have “my” kids clean and showered and pajama’d before dinner. Probably will hang out with Teresiah and Lydiah too– I think they’re busy right now, it’s nice having a little quiet.

And that’s a bit of my Saturday. Being a house-mom was pretty hard work, but I loved it. Doing it again tonight and probably some more through the next month and then for a week in December. Yay for having 12 kids (at least they all pretty much know what to do with themselves, not sure if I could handle all the toddlers).

The rest of this week has been pretty good/chill/busy all at the same time. Still waking up at 6 (or 5:42 yesterday) to ride the bus in the morning, but the rides have been a lot more calm, only the older kids cause they are taking exams, the rest are out of school. Days are– fighting off sleepiness(sometimes giving in to a nap), getting things done upstairs, helping house mom’s with laundry, sneaking “study snacks” to the five 6th and 7th graders (Teresiah and my 4 favorites of the 9 boys—as much as I say I don’t chose favorites, I kind of do) who study in the matson container library (my dream house, see photo) and distracting/goofing off with them (but only for a little bit, then I make them get back to studying). Then spending time with the rest of the kids when they’re done with their daily things. Nursery school is over. I don’t think I even said bye to my bebes, but they’ll be back in January for the next term.

All the highschoolers get home this weekend, the kids under 8th grade have one more week of school, then it’s crazy Christmas break. Trying to put together an “event” calendar for the month of December with Christmassy things for each age group (one group each time, not all ages at once) on different nights of the week, probably not every night but a few a week. Baking, Crafts, Movie nights, etc. I’ve thought of some ideas—Gingerbread houses (maybe, might not be able to pull that off) with the sort-of older ones, sugar cookie baking and decorating (lots of different ages), paper snowflake crafts, nativity crafts, glitter stars craft (worked in Thailand but made a huge mess, we’ll see about that one) and a few other things… But if anyone has more ideas, I’m open and looking! I used to be little-miss-creative but not so much anymore.

That’s mostly my week. A few side-notes…

I’ve become quite the cook over here. I cook more than I ever have before and so far everything I’ve made has turned out surprisingly good. (No, I don’t cook for everyone—just us 3 “Mzungus” [white people] and the older kids always try some) I’m not as bad in the kitchen as I thought. And I’m a lot more patient than I’ve ever been—with usually around 7-10 kids packed into the tiny kitchen “helping” me. Even baking, I’ve always liked to cook a little but never liked baking—but here I bake at least once a week. Keeping these kids happy and full. Learning a lot, always.

Me and Lydiah have started a new trend. Syrup on everything. She’s writing a poem about it, it’s pretty fun and gross sometimes.

For once in my life, middle school aged kids are my favorite. Probably not the case in America still though. Hmm but I do love my toddlers. Maybe second favorite.

After a whole (small) bottle of cough syrup and a week of antibiotics I STILL have a nasty cough. Pray it will get better.

Today I super-glued my fingers together. On accident. That was a fun un-doing process.

And that’s that. Pray for these next two crazy months of Christmas break. It will be different having everyone home but I’m excited (and a little nervous, honestly) for the change. I think I’ll miss nursery school and “routine”, but it’ll be good. Pray for strength, patience, perseverance, and that I will continue to do all to the glory of God. Serving Him joyfully and remaining steadfastly rooted in Him.

Thanks everyone who reads this! Much love from Kenya.

Pictures, finally

So, I have been trying and failing at uploading photos to this blog. I can only post one at a time, and I have so many to share it takes much too long, so I’ve made a webalbum and posted about 50 on there. 5 at a time, painfully slow, over the past few days. I will continue to post photos in there and update on my blog each time I put more into the album. Here is the link, and the password for the album is intoabbas

http://s876.photobucket.com/user/emilyhfensterman/library/Kenya%20photos

Enjoy!

Also, I will be posting soon about this crazy weekend. As soon as I have the time.