Monday, July 30, 2007

A family reunited - a precious thing!

Praise God today we had a miracle! Agostino's mom came to our center! Agostino arrived early in 2006 when the police brought him here. He'd been living with different officers for a couple month's while they waited for his family to find him. Since no one did, they brought him to us. We've investigated different avenues several times but each time, came up with no new information about him. This morning, he was playing in my house when someone came in to say his mom was here! When I walked out, there were two ladies sitting there but I immediately knew which one was the mom, they look so much alike! The other lady was her sister, Agostino's aunt.

I'm far from knowing the whole story but essentially, when the mom got a new husband, he didn't want another man's son, which happens so often here. So she sent Agostino to live with her mother. I'm a little confused as to the exact timing but either the grandmother passed away and then Agostino ran away or he ran away and then the grandmother passed away. For the last year and a half, the mother has been leaving her home when she can (about three hours away from here) and looking for him, including various children's center. Today, her search brought her here!

After a home visit with our staff, it was decided tht he could go home with them for the week, until Sunday. It's the sister's home they're going to. Perhaps in the future, Agostino will be able to visit the mom's home and meet his step-father - that's my prayer, that the step-father will welcome Agostino into their home and family and they will be truly reunited. Please pray with me that God will continue this miracle until it's completion! I don't believe the mom has been searching for her son and now found him only to remain apart! I am trusting God for Agostino to be able to go live with her sometime in the near future! This photo includes his two lovely half-sisters as well. Agostino hasn't seen his mom in four years so he's a little hesitant but happy. He asks us what his birthdate is about every week and now we know - August 10, 2000! Only 11 days away!

It's hard to swallow that a husband wouldn't want his wife's sons and even harder to fathom that a mother would choose a man over her children. But it's not uncommon at all here, sadly. When you pray for Mozambique, please pray for this transformation in men's hearts as well. So even though this story contains those sad parts, it's a day for total rejoicing here in our dorm! We're all delighted for Agostino! And the other boys who've been separated from their families can't help but be hopeful that someday it will be their mother or their family member walking thru the door. That's my prayer as well!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Birthday Parties

We're just a little behind but last week we celebrated June's birthday boys. We always have a fun party with a yummy meal (this time was spaghetti, salad and jello), games and then the part they love best - presents! We fill a gift bag with several small gifts and one "big" gift of a car or game or airplane, etc. June's birthday boys are, left to right, Albano, Silavio, Joao, Rafin and Max (who thinks he's a rap star and will only pose for photos like one!).
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Friday, July 27, 2007

Living Hope

A team from my church, Living Hope is here! (I have two supporting churches actually, Living Hope and Faith Fellowship.) Every year, they come prepared to bless the long-term missionaries, believing that we will in turn be able to bless the people we are living amongst more effectively when we're "filled up."

These photos are from the fourth annual Ladie's Spa Night! They get us a hotel room and pamper us with lots of spa-type treatments and load us up with gifts as well. The bottom three photos are all the goodies they brought us to choose from, including hand-made jewelry, Bibles, books, journals, CDs, and lots of lotions and good smelling stuff!

They took the men out to dinner and they got to choose presents as well. And the next night, they made all the missionary staff a yummy Mexican dinner and led home group. What a blessing they are! If you are reading this and participated in any way, by giving, praying or coming - thank you!

(Don't worry - they also serve the children, bless the national staff and even spent the first five days of their trip with another missionary in the city, helping her restore her center that is used for ministering to women who make their living on the street. So they don't JUST bless us missionaries!)

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An Unexpected Souvenir

Remember the photo a couple posts below about removing the sandfleas from the kids' feet? Well, I came home with one - ugh! Fortunately, this was at the very beginning stage, just a black dot really, nothing like the photo I posted of the egg sack. But it still needed to be dug out of the bottom of my toe which was painful. Now I can empathize even more with the kids who we caused so much pain to. (I say "we" loosely because I didn't actually remove any of the sacks - there were three needles and three other ladies.) I hope we got it all out!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

And then there were 40

Glouber left us today but we are rejoicing with him - he went to live with his mom! He came to live with us when his father died and his step-mother asked us to take him. We didn't know where his mom was. We've since found her and she is thrilled to have him and his sister come back to live with her. Glouber is too - he has visited her several times and cries when he has to leave her. Now he won't have to any more! Praise God! We will miss him but we are delighted for him!
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Saturday, July 14, 2007

How can one person have so many problems posting photos onto a blog or adding into emails???

 So, I'm trying my hardest but seem to meet lots of roadblocks for sharing photos (easily!) in emails and in my blog. So, here's a few photos that didn't make it into the post below for some reason! 

One is a boy named Leonard with his very own garden in Ilula. 






 One is me crossing the Equator - obviously! 










 The other is the one of Adele blowing bubbles with one of the precious kids after prying egg sacks out of her toes.   

Wow - turning 40 in Kenya is the way to go!


Friday, July 6th: The adventure begins! Have you ever seen a movie or TV show or magazine ad or article about a small plane landing on a dirt airstrip in the middle of golden, waving bush grasses, after flying on over buffalo, elephants, giraffes, etc? Well, that's what we did! Our arrival in the Maasai Mara was like a photo out of an advertisement, complete with being met with a cloth covered table, being served chai tea or coffee by the side of our almost-exclusive open Land Rover and guide Daniel (we shared our vehicle and guide with Anna and Ola, newly married one week earlier, from Sweden).
We were taken to our lodge, (passing more wildlife along the way), where I don't think I ever stopped exclaiming over how amazing it was! The staff were amazingly friendly, our tented room was so nice with a huge duvet (a hot water bottle placed in the bed by the staff at night!) and a stone bathroom that was just "Poa Kabisa" - very cool! Ok, I just realized I could go into way too much detail here! Suffice to say, we went on four game drives and loved every minute of it. When we weren't seeing elephants, buffalo, zebra, lions, giraffes, waterbuck, topis, gazelle, impala, baboons, birds, hippos - and a CHEETAH! - it was bliss just to be in the unique environment of the Maasai Mara. The staff at Kichwe Tembo, where we stayed, were just lovely in every way.

Saturday, July 7th, 2007: THE BIG DAY!!! I had my "40 today" button on (thanks Vella!) so no one could forget why I was there! I had three lovely birthday surprises. 1. Adele gave me letters she had asked friends to send to print out and give me on my special day since I'd be out of contact. She also sang to me in three languages, Chinese, Afrikaans, and English! 2. The Swedish couple surprised me with champagne and glasses for our brunch on the game drive - that was so thoughtful of new friends! 3. Adele and I had befriended many of the staff and enjoyed talking with them a lot. The Executive Chef for the whole company (29 lodges!) was there and he was an absolute gem! Gave us lots of big hugs and even bigger smiles. Well, he and the rest of the staff came out of the kitchen singing beautifully in Swahili and making their own music with one guitar, one aluminum foil tube, a coke bottle with a pencil and two pot lids! It sounds crazy but it was stunning! It made me cry, I was enjoying myself and my day so much, in such a special and unique way. When they finished their song, they presented me with my own birthday cake, with "Happy 40th Birthday Lorna" (many people called me Lorna on this trip, must be a more common name in Kenya!) written on the fondant on top! I felt like each moment of the day was just a kiss from God, just pouring out his blessings on me!

Sunday, July 8th: A morning game drive and then we were off
to the airport all too soon. One last blessing: six lions on our way to the airstrip! We flew back to Nairobi and quickly began a 7
hour ride in a Land Rover over potholes, dirt detours, and some
good roads even! It was an amazing drive, I had no idea Kenya
was so lush and green and mountainy and beautiful! (This is Leonard with his very own garden!) We arrived in Ilula, one of the children's centers where Adele lives and works, just as it started to rain. So everyone was waiting inside the church to welcome us - all 96 kids and parents, singing and worshipping God! They greeted me with a bouquet of beautiful flowers, said several welcoming speeches, then invited me to greet the kids. I did, in Shangaan and Portuguese and the next two days, kids were desperately trying to remember my Shangaan greeting of "Kanimambu, Xicuembu Xico Cata Kisi" which means "Thank you, God bless you!" We opened it up for questions and the parents had to stop them, they were so curious about me and my boys! Perhaps my favorite question was "what's your favorite game?" because I love games and I thought the question expressed such an interest in me personally!

Monday, July 9th: We went to visit the childrens center in Kipkaren, about an hour away. But most of the day we spent at Ilula, meeting the Kenyan staff and spending more time with the delightful kids. English and Swahili are the two national languages of Kenya so the kids speak English so we could communicate effortlessly! That was a treat.

Tuesday, July 10th: Adele let me accompany her and two of the Kenyan staff, Ruth and Mary, to visit a neighbor family with four children, ages 1 1/2 to 9, without a mother and left mostly alone while the father looked for work that is hard to come by. All four children, two girls and
two boys, were so happy to see us, but we were
there with a gruesome task: to remove the infected sand flea egg sacks from their fingers and toes. Ultimately, after 13 sacks of eggs were removed, it was decided to take the kids to a local hospital to receive anesthetic before removing the rest, which they hope to do this week. Even though the task was difficult, it was such a joy to meet these four children and watch their faces transform as they receive love and care, a bottle of bubbles (this is Adele) and some new clothes and shoes! After a brief lunch with
the kids one last time, it was off to the airport, where I had to say goodbye to Adele (after picking her brain for her computer know-how!). A brief flight to Nairobi and I was driven back to the Africa Inland Mission guesthouse I was staying at.

While in the children's homes, I was awed and inspired by the work they do and what they've accomplished. Please pray with me that I won't compare or feel discouraged in any way, but rather that I will press in to see what God has in store for our children and how he wants to use me to accomplish it! I have lots to ponder about what we can implement here to provide the very best environment for our kids to learn about Jesus, learn about their world, and learn about the plans God has for them so they can run forward with great joy and confidence!

It's Wednesday, the 11th now, one week later I am back home. I can't believe what a week I've had! You know, it's definitely strange turning 40 but I really haven't had a hard time with it. One realization I had as we arrived at the Maasai Mara ~ almost every major new experience I have, I think, "This is the most amazing thing I've ever done!" When I thought of that, I realized, that's just part of being on an adventure with God throughout the life he has planned for me! It really does just keep getting better if I seek and embrace all that he has for me! I thank God he has blessed me with such a full and abundant life!

Asante Sana (Thanks) Mom, Living Hope and Vanguard for being the vessels thru which God could bless me with this 40th birthday present! I will never forget it!

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From one orphanage to another!

My next stop in Nairobi was to the Elephant Orphanage, part of the Nairobi National Park. They rescue baby elephants which have been separated from their mothers for various reasons, a big one being poaching. They ultimately release them back into the wild. An interesting note: the next step after this "orphanage" is another park in Kenya, which has a corral of sorts where they are first kept as they are getting acclimated to the wild. The park ranger said that al lthe female elephants who have been released return to the corral to give birth to their babies! So they're wild but still feel a connection to their first home! I loved that!
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Friday, July 13, 2007

What an adventure!

Visiting the Giraffe Center was the first day of my Kenyan adventure! It started it off on an amazing note, to be sure! This giraffe's name is Laura! You can feed the giraffes and hey'll let you pet them as long as they're eating. So fun! more to come - watch this spot!
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Tuesday, July 03, 2007


That's what I'll be saying a lot (it means Hello) when I go to Kenya tomorrow for one week to celebrate my 40th birthday, Africa style!  I'll be visiting my friend Adele who lives there, we'll tour a bit of Nairobi, then we're off on a two day safari in the Masai Mara, then we'll go to where she lives and works with Empowering Lives International so I can meet the kids who live at their children's center and be inspired to bring ideas back for my precious ones! (That was quite a run-on sentence - I'm typing like I'm thinking - excited!!!)  I am all packed and am not leaving for 24 hours!  I'll write all about it when I return and hopefully will have some amazing photos to show!   

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Solveig Anderson

This photo of me, my dad and my step-mom Solveig (or Sue as I've always called her) was taken last July when I was home for a visit. that was the last time I got to see her. She passed away on April 23, 2007. I was heading home to the States to try and see her before she died but didn't make it on time. She was diagnosed with esophagal cancer in March and died six weeks later. It was quite sudden and shocking for everyone but especially for my dad. They were together for 31 years.

Sue was born and raised in Norway and never lost her Norveigian accent! She loved Norway and visited often, especially when her mother and many sisters and brothers were still alive.

Sue was an excellent cook and always made my favorite, corned beef and cabbage, when I would visit. She used to enjoy playing games with me like Yahtzee before home computers took over all her spare time. She knew more about computers than almost anyone I know! I learned a lot and was blessed with lots of computers and toys over the years.

I'll miss Sue. Dad, I'm sorry you're missing her too.