Hello Friends and Family,
We are sorry that we have taken so long to write again… I guess we have realized that we are very “in the moment” type people and we are bad about writing update letters J . We are back in the States after our 13 months in Kenya and trying to adjust back to life here. We can’t thank you enough for your prayers, support, encouragement to us throughout the last year. We wanted to share some of our highlights of our last few days at Rohi with you……
So how do you say good-bye after a year of meaningful friendships with shared struggles and joys? Well the Kenyans were very good at saying goodbye and for the last month we were there, they took every opportunity to write notes and say some last words every time they saw us, Even if it was multiple times a day J.
On our last night in Rohi, we stood with the high schoolers in their partially constructed dining hall. As the heavy African rains beat down on the tin metal roof drowning out all our voices, we stood there, as one by one the students came up and hugged us goodbye. We all had tears in our eyes….when the big tough football players came and gave Nate a big bear hug and picked him up off the ground, Nate lost it….. when the student who had been so sick that we almost didn’t think he would make it from HIV/TB complications, approached me with a big smile and bright eyes and told me “Thank You for everything you did for me” I lost it…..
When the rain calmed down we said our goodbyes and Nate said to them. “You know guys, it’s hard to say goodbye but I’ll tell you one thing, I am not worried about you.” I will tell you why…After being with you for one year I can really see how God’s Love has changed you. You guys have high character, a strong work ethic, discipline and wisdom beyond your years. And although your education, discipline, food and shelter that have been provided to you has impacted you, they have not solely transformed you. The unconditional love you have experienced from your Creator, people, and families that have loved you is what has changed you the most. You guys have a love for others and that is what will take you far in life. You have everything inside you to succeed.” Nate told them that many children in the States are in a worse position then them. He said that although they have many of the earthly comforts, they do not have the Love that is transformational. He ended by saying, “Of course I will still pray for you and think about you, but I will not worry about you because I know God has your hearts and what is more important in life than that!”
Saying good-bye to the women living with HIV/AIDS that I met with every month was also a special moment. We had a good time of sharing, singing songs and dancing before I left. I am continually humbled by the way they encourage others and me, they have definitely challenged me in that area; as every word that comes out of their mouths is blessings, encouragement and promises to pray for me and my family as I go back home to the US. I can’t help but feel awkward because I’m too shy to speak such extravagant words to people and because I feel like I haven’t done anything to deserve such abundant words of praise and blessing.
One woman in particular, Anita, I will never be able to erase the memory of waving goodbye to her and her daughter, as they stood among the tea plantations in her rural area. I know that God brought us together as friends this year, as she battled running away from a very abusive and dangerous marriage and having the courage to start a new and healthy life. She took the steps to start taking medicine for HIV and taking care of her body, which her husband never allowed her to before because he said “your faith is not strong enough if you go get drugs for AIDS”. She has managed to put her daughter in a new school, start her own cosmetic business, and actively encourages women like herself to reach their potential and discover the gifts inside of them. She is no longer stressed and discouraged but full of joy, hope and love. I will miss talking and laughing with her every day, but I am also not worried about her because of the kind of woman she is. She has a deep wisdom and a faith that is unshakable.
Nate was also able to help his friend, James move off Rohi campus into the “real world” for the first time, get his own place and start his own mechanic business. James is a former street boy and was a “regular” in our home, stopping by for chai or a “second dinner” a couple times a week.
We are so grateful to all of you who supported us over this year, we could not have done it without you. Your prayers kept us healthy and strong and allowed us to support and encourage the people in Kenya and the work they are doing. We feel so privileged to have been able to serve with the Kenyans and try to adopt their culture even if it was just for a short time in these last 12 months. We really hope to get together with so many of you and sit and share pictures and stories. This will most likely be our last update but feel free to email us. Loves