More Africa

A few more things I don't want to forget... 
Church in Meto was amazing! These ladies are the choir, and their music is beautiful as are there tribal outfits. They do a cool shoulder move that gets their tribal collars moving in rhythm, unlike anything I have ever seen. 

The prayer chair. We had some awesome prayer warriors on our team. After a patient would see either the doctor or the dentist, they would then rotate to the chair. Isn't that how it should be every time, modern medicine and faith, hand in hand?

I love this picture as it depicts another aspect of their sweet giving spirit. This lady, Elizabeth, was a patient of James earlier in the week. He extracted a couple of teeth that were infected. The day we were leaving, she stood outside our mission center for over an hour until he awoke to give him beaded necklaces she had made just for him. She said (through the translator) that he showed great kindness and compassion.

She also presented me with one as his wife. 

Ashley, Julie, Caroline, Steven, Matt, Charles, Alan, and Joseph 
They hiked to Tanzania on our afternoon off of clinic. I took a nap :)

The last night, Bishop Moses and his wife Agnus invited us to their home to eat dinner. 
We enjoyed lamb (ok I might have just nibbled a bite as I saw them alive a couple hours prior), cabbage, beans, rice, and a delicious fried tortilla bread. The cabbage was the best I have ever had. James ate so much I thought he would be sick. He LOVED it. He is part Maasai at heart. 

The last leg of the trip was a night at Serena Amboseli. Amboseli is a national park that is near the Tanzania border and Mount Kilimanjaro. It is a beautiful place with every animal you can think of. It was a great night to enjoy each other's fellowship and reflect on the week. 
My Aunt Elon is the beautiful brunette that I am standing right behind in the picture above. I was so blessed that she was on the team. There was one particular moment in the church service that I just kept picturing my Aunt Meg. (who passed away of cancer several years ago, but was on the very first trip to Meto and who the library there is named after) I could see her smiling her infectious smile, and picture her loving on the people I was now meeting. It was very emotional, and I was thankful to have Aunt Elon (Meg's sister) there to experience it with. 
James enjoying the safari

The Sams, Osborns, and the Bobos

wonderful ladies on the morning safari

Just some of the amazing animals on the morning and afternoon drives. 

If you can tell, it was a trip of a lifetime, except I hope to go back again (and one day take the boys!) 
My heart has a new love for my brothers and sisters in Christ in Meto. 
The Lord loves all of his children everywhere and to experience that first hand is hard to explain, but forever imprinted on my heart. 
Thanks again to Ashley Johnson for all of the wonderful pictures!!!


A Boys Update

I am way behind on the boys and their milestones, checkups (maybe because they are late on those too!) etc. Lane is 2.5 years and wow, it is like a flip has switched. I was getting a little worried about his speech, he was stringing together short sentences, but they were hard to understand. He also would not attempt words he knew he could not form certain letters, example: I love you...he can't say "lo" so would just go silent. In the past month, all of this has changed. He is speaking longer sentences very clearly. He is coming up with stories and ideas and has begun showing his reasoning skills. A typical rant:  "we can't go outside momma, it got dark.  the moon out. we go inside. I watch "who who" and go night night time." (who who is Curious George, which he can say but prefers who who.)

The other day Mom wanted to take just Holden for a little quality time. I said sure, we will just distract Lane and you can take Holden without him knowing, thinking we would prevent a meltdown. I underestimated Lane. He didn't see Holden go, so at first thought he was playing hide and seek.  Lane walked around the whole house, laughing looking for Holden thinking they were playing a game. Finally, he got worried and said "the monster got Holdey, took him on the choo choo train. I got to go to D's house to get big track hoe and get him off" WHAT? Where do they come up with this stuff?  I explained that Pie had taken him to run errands for the morning, and he would be back soon. Then the meltdown came :)
His favorite expressions are: "See ya next time",  "I Do dat Momma", "But WHYYY?" "I not go to school today, I stay house, Hold go to school"

 He is a pretty good eater. He will at least try everything. His favorite things are riding tractors, playing outside with his toy tractors, and watching tractors. Do you sense the theme? We are working on potty training. He is does great when we leave off his diaper and just let him play au naturale. As soon as a diaper goes on, he reverts back to using it. I totally understand this, but some days are just not conducive to no diaper. I think if we do the three day method one weekend, it would stick for good.

Holden is all over the place at 14 months.  He is a parrot. He repeats everything you say. He is a talker, James says he is definitely a Russell :) His most consistent words are: Eat, Ball, No No Dog (when Amos goes after his breakfast), Ba Ba, Juice (he only gets water though), Momma, Da Da, Pie, Crac Crac (Tractor), Mickey, Hot Hot, Out, Nack (snack) and really the list goes on and on...
This weekend, he went to the oven which was preheating, said "Hot Hot", opened the draw next to it, got the oven mitts, put them on and attempted to open the oven. He doesn't miss a thing. He also probably could be potty trained faster than Lane as he mimics big brother. The other morning, he went and squatted next to the potty to do his business. 

He is a picky eater. He flat refuses to try things. It is exasperating sometimes as Lane was not like this. I have stopped catering to his opinions, and at the advice of other moms, only serve what we are having. He loves his milk, and drinks around 30 ounces a day. 

He still is a cuddle bug and loves to sit in a lap. He has such a sunny disposition and is a content little guy. He sleeps great now that I separated he and Lane into different rooms. A side note on that: At around 8 months, I moved them into the same room. Holden in a crib, Lane in a trundle bed with a rail. At first it was fine as I would just rush in and grab Holden as soon as he starting stirring in the morning as to not wake Lane up. Overtime, I realized this was not really working as Lane would wake up half of the time and be in a terrible mood because he was still tired. Then about two months ago, Lane went through a stage of getting out of his bed and coming into ours in the middle of the night. The problem was when I went to put him back in his bed, it would wake Holden up. I finally would give in and let Lane stay in our bed so I didn't disturb Holden. I realized we were creating a monster and knew something had to give. So now, I moved Lane into the other bedroom that has a queen bed. I just added rails and some of his stuff and we made a big deal about a new BIG boy bed. He bought in, and it was been wonderful! They are both sleeping at least a full hour later in the morning. Also if Lane wanders into our room at night, I walk him right back to his bed. 
I want them to share a room again one day, but they are just not ready yet. 

Sometimes you do what you have to do. 


A Wedding and Meeting James

When we arrived in Meto after a five hour drive in from Nairobi, we were just in time for the wedding of Phillip and Naomi. Phillip is Bishop Moses's son. Bishop Moses is the leader of the Charismatic Church locally (CEC), and also Integrity's local representative. He is a wonderful Christian man and has been blessed by the Lord for his obedience. They scheduled the wedding date and time in hopes that we would be there. It was a blend of the traditional Maasai ceremony and the Christian covenant of marriage. 
(all photo cred: Ashley Johnson)
She looked stunning with all of the handmade bead necklaces.
They immediately ushered the whole team to the front seats by the bridesmaids and family. It was a complete honor. I had never met them, and they were showing honor and love to their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. 

An even more humbling moment is when they served us cake. Their tradition is to cut the cake and then feed not only each other, but people of importance. For example, the wedding party, the church leaders, their parents, and the tribal leaders. They then served us! I knew if this was a glimpse at how the rest of the week and relationships with the people in Meto would develop, I was in for a supernatural blessing. 

They are such colorful people. The first thought I had was, "they are beautiful!". It was not just their physical beauty, but an inner beauty that only comes from knowing Jesus. They have such JOY.

The next day after church (more on that in another post), we toured the small village of Meto. 
Little did I know we were in for the best moment to me of the whole trip. 
We have been sponsoring for the last year, a University of Nairobi student, named James. 
Last year, Integrity held an Impact meeting, asking for sponsorships of students to allow them to continue their education. Some were for primary students, some secondary students, and a handful of University students. We had asked God to show us a specific person to help, and He made it very obvious. James was the first story we read, and not only did it prick our hearts, but his name is the same as my James and he is the exact same age. 
Here is a snippet of his history:
James is one of the brightest and hardworking students in the area. He scored a 440 on the high school exit exam (equivalent to our SATs), the highest in history in the village. To attend school, James would have to work for three years saving to have enough money for one semester of college. Because of the bad drought two years prior, all of his family's animals died, destroying any income he had. Because of this he said, "I almost gave up." He stayed at home to help his family recover. He has 9 brothers and 3 sisters. Only 3 of them are in school. 
We were hoping to meet him, but didn't know when in the trip it would happen as he also teaches at the secondary school to supplement living costs in the city. The first day while we were touring around, he comes up to Alan Jr (who leads the trip, and is accepted as family by the whole village). Alan says "Hello James!" and looks at us with a smile...I knew immediately it was our James. I tried really hard to hold it together as I also knew he didn't know that people were behind the Integrity sponsorships. Alan did a great job of introducing us saying, "James and Rayne in America read your application, and saw your potential and wanted to help"...it then hit him that because of the Lord we were able to help him go to the University. I couldn't hold it in any longer and the tears came. What a sweet moment it was to give him a big hug. I love that Ashley captured it, even though it is a moment I will never forget. He said later he couldn't believe that people would believe in him that much. 

We were able to spend some time with him the next day and really got to know him. He has such vision and wants to change the way his village sees education. He studies sociology and education. I know he will help change their world for the better. He is a believer and gave God the glory in every conversation. It is moments like this you see God at work in a clear way. His plans are much bigger than ours, yet he is in each detail. What a blessing that we get to be apart of it with our relationship with James. 

our friend James


Feeding the Children

There are so many things I want to share about our trip to Meto, Kenya, so I have decided to break it up in installments.  One of my favorite experiences of the whole trip was the opportunity to feed the primary school children lunch. I have already shared this picture with you after the killing of the animals for their feast.

We arrived to around five hundred children ages five to twelve getting ready for the meal. The first thing that struck me is how well behaved they were. The younger ones wash up first and get in line, and the older children wait patiently for their turn. Let me back a bit...these children do not get lunch everyday. The school (and Integrity, the organization we were with) helps feed them three times a week. A large number of them live ten plus miles away so they don't walk home every night and literally spend the night out in the "bush". This means they also don't eat much for dinner. No going home for an after school snack or a warm meal before bed. So, if I only had three hot meals during the week, I would think I would be charging the food line :) 

All photo credit goes to Ashley Johnson:

The meal we helped serve consisted of rice, beans, and a stew (which was potatoes, beans, onion, and goat). Having meat in the stew was a real treat, and described as what a Christmas or Easter dinner would be like. 

melt. my. heart. 
This is Dennis, he is a mess. 
Each child brings their own bowl/cup for their lunch to go in. Another thing that amazed me is that some didn't have one, and would come up to be served with a friend. To these children, we would serve a double portion. They then would go sit and share their meal. No fights, tears, struggles...quiet, equal sharing. My sweet wonderful children fight over who gets to drink milk out of which color cup at meal time. 

Another observation, was that if there was any left over, you can continue serving until there is nothing left. The younger children are usually first in line for "seconds" and again no complaints or grumblings from the older kids. I think the point I am trying to make is that they are content with what they have though by our "standards" it is not much. 
It is also a privilege to go to school. The Maasai people of this area historically are herdsman. The children as young as three or four are out herding the goats, sheep, and cows. They are not always able to go to school as they are in charge of the animals. So if you are able to send your kids to school, you are doing well. 

The church women preparing the meal

Stay tuned for more installments...


Back from Africa and a Painting...

James and I just returned from a nine day trip from Kenya with Integrity Worldwide, hence the blog hiatus. It was an unbelievable trip full of God's loving presence, a lot more on this to come...Here are a few quick shots off my phone

one of my favorite things was feeding the primary school at Meto, the children are precious and this meal to them was described to us as receiving Christmas dinner. rice, beans, and a small piece of meat

this was only one grade, we fed around 500 children their lunch

I love getting to experience missions with my husband, very special

James and Steven killed the goat and lamb for the school lunch, at first I thought "awe, so sad"...Then I realized what a big deal it was for them to have the protein, and I think I would have done it myself

women filling up their jugs at the well

Caroline and Julie, we had such a wonderful team!
oh you know, just a little elephant and her baby (around 4 weeks old) 

Lots more to come!

Also, Kendall Boggs is doing an awesome giveaway on her blog. I had the pleasure of meeting her and seeing her work in person at Scott's last month, and she is just as cute as you would imagine her to be. Her work is awesome!
Isn't it beautiful, LOVE the colors!
Maybe it will find its new home in my kitchen :)