Sunday, June 24, 2012


My heart is torn as I sit in my airconditioned home to write y’all to let you know that I am safe. This last monthhas truly been a whirlwind of missions; God has allowed me to experience amyriad of things, and along the way He has taught me so much! I am so trulyoverwhelmed by the privilege He gave me to travel to both Kenya and Haiti this summer.Simple things like sleeping in my own bed with my pillow and brushing my teethin the sink, with electricity, have been a very welcomed comfort. But the otherhalf of me looks around my home with contempt at all that I have as more thanhalf the world lives in such extreme poverty. I know that God has chosen thislife for me, and I am to best leverage every opportunity He has given me forHis kingdom, but my heart still hurts. I am incredibly thankful to have thenext month to process through the lifetime of experiences that I'veencountered. 

Haiti was extraordinary, yetagain.  God chose such a spectaculargroup of people to surround me with, both Haitian friends and other leadersfrom Buckhead Church.  I am humbledcontinually when I examine all that He has planned for me to do.  We were blessed with mild weather the firstthree days in Haiti as we labored then loved on the kids each day.  The last two days were typical of Haiti –hot, hot, hot!  As a team, we laughed,cried, sweat, shared 1 unisex bathroom (with four showers and two bathroomstalls) between 26 people, grew as friends, followers of Christ, anddisciples.  Our hearts are filled to thebrim with love, grace, joy and pain as we process through the lives of ourloved ones in Haiti.  One of the biggestthings we learned is of God’s sovereignty. He reigns.  He reigns with mercy,love, faithfulness and justice.  He is incontrol, even when we cannot understand it. We fervently pray for our brothers and sisters for their provision,protection, and love to grow in Him. 

I am so grateful for all of yourprayers, encouragement and love that you shared with me throughout thisjourney.  I plan to return to my blog ina few days as I decompress, but please read our team blog at  

Monday, June 18, 2012


Hello friends and family! If you are on this email, it's because one of your loved ones has the privilege of serving the Lord in Haiti this week. 
As we close on our second full day here, the juxtaposition is deep; our hearts are filled with joy, yet are broken at the same time for our brothers and sisters in Haiti.  We have had the honor of worshipping the Almighty God together, as well as serving alongside our friends.  Both the men and women have labored hard, moving rocks, cinder blocks, cement and sand as we contribute to the building of pit latrines for two families as well as a guesthouse for 410Bridge that will generate jobs and a stronger platform to add capacity to the mission here in Bohoc.  We have also had our hearts stolen by the sweet children of Matthew 28 orphanage and Youth in Action.  Some of the best moments have come from genuine interaction with these precious souls.  As we are loving on them, Christ is pouring into our spirits.  We are awestruck with the blessings God has bestowed upon us at home, including the tremendous gift of your friendship, love and support.  We are truly overwhelmed by His grace and mercy, certainly to a degree that we cannot quite convey in words.  We look to the Lord with expectant eyes and hearts as we follow Him on our journey the rest of this week.  Please continue to pray for us- that God would give us eyes to see and ears to hear and that He would let our hearts overflow with love for Him, one another, and our Haitian friends. 
Follow our hearts and feet throughout our Haitian adventure at

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Reflections of a full heart

PS - my iPad does not recognize line breaks - very sorry it looks like one giant paragraph! I am still in denial that my African adventure is over, and that I have to wait a year to return.  My heart is brimming with emotion, encouragement, and excitement. God is tangibly at work, even in the worst conditions.  I will continue to pray for the children, their families, and their community.  Their village, Kinyago, is where we visited.  It was in the most repulsive of conditions that God reminded me of the beauty, grace, and fullness that can only come from Him.  He is our creator and sustainer; He delivered us from our deserved consequences through the author and perfecter of our faith, our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is sovereign through it all, even in that one room "home" surrounded by crime, idleness, and extreme poverty.  God has allowed me to experience this for His glory, and I praise Him because He will not allow me to forget it.  To give you the smallest shred of perspective, Alice and her family moved into that room in a different location because the family could not afford the rent of 200ksh a month - which brings up an entirely different set of questions - rent in the midst of this shanty village - 200 Kenyan shillings is about $2.40. For the month...and they could not afford that.  It really makes you question certain lifestyle choices.   During our finally debriefing, we answered these questions.  I encourage you to answer them.  If you can't answer them, spend more time with your Perfect creator - He delights in you, and deeply desires an intimate relationship with every one of His children.   I praise God for: I thank God for: One thing God reminded me or showed me: One thing I will not complain about at home anymore:  My goal is to not complain.  There is grace in everything, and thankfulness abounding as we are surrounded by an abundance of peace.  Traffic in Atlanta, you will not defeat me! (especially after surviving the roads of Nairobi in rush hour!) I praise God for this experience!  Ephesians 3:20 rings true every time - God has wildly exceeded my expectations.  I learned to love Him more deeply, prayed for His word to burrow into places of my heart that I didn't realize, and for my understanding of Him to grow.  His ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts higher than mine.  I find great comfort in this.  God's plan, timing, and story of creation is in motion, regardless of my feeble attempts to make sense of my surroundings.  I am blessed to take part in this moment that will extend into eternity.  His grace is sufficient! Praise Him!   It's been such an emotional ride, but God has equipped me so beautifully and perfectly, as He always does.  I read this article while waiting to depart for the next chapter in my travels -  - and it was just another reminder that God is always at work, and it is ok to grieve for my Kenyan friends.  I don't have to pretend it's all going to get better, and I don't have to pretend I'm ok.  All I can do is lean confidently intp the One who created me and sustains me - He will do the same for His children in Kinyago.  As it stands, it is better to love people than to know all the answers. I thank God for unmerited grace, unending love, a desire to know me and the ability to know Him, for my amazing team, the children, the dedicated staff of KDS, and all of the amazing support I've had from friends and family while I've been gone.  I thank God for the immense blessings He has provided me with, and I pray to be a good steward of them.  I thank God for the stirring in my heart and the ability to provide for the newest members of my African family.  My momma added precious Hannah, a fourth grader with a glowing smile, to her family.  Together, our family grew from three to six - how awesome is that??  Evelyn in third grade, Samuel in sixth grade, Samson in seventh grade, Alvin in second grade, and Boniface in fourth grade.  Another friend also began sponsoring to sweet boys in third grade, Jev and Martin.  God is SO good.   Sharing gifts, as an overzealous muzungu was very special this year (just the same as those I quietly admonished for creating a sense of entitlement, dependency, and lack of respect for the authority in place at KDS....) Yes, I became that sponsor with a small toy store in tow.  It was so beautiful to see Samson, the oldest boy, help moderate between the younger kids.  It was also so beautiful to see that child-like spark ignite when simple toys were presented-it was such a gift!  Simplicity is not lost!  It was also a special moment to be passing out the child's items (bibles, toys, candy-hey! I am only there once a year!!) and bags for each - again Samson helped.  I had two reusable baby tiger bags (very masculine, obviously) that I passed out last -again it special to see him serve the others first, then himself last.  The first shall be last, and the last first! I am thankful for visiting the form one students that I taught two and three years ago.  I am thankful for the work God is doing through them and I am encouraged.  They are the game-changers of this continent!! I am thankful for my team.  For their encouragement, challenge, support and love.  I will miss them dearly!  The exuberance of some, the calming spirits of others, the rich prayers, the hearts full of joy, for igniting a deeper will to want to know God better, to love better, and be more like the Perfect One.  Yesu Kristu - Our example. I am thankful that I had the privilege to see first-hand what God is doing in Kenya, and that I get to share it.   I thank Lin for my word from God - "zeal."  May this fire in my heart never extinguish. Africa, you have my heart.  Sweet friends, Do justice, love kindness, and forever walk humbly with your God!  This is not good bye, but see you soon!  Nakupenda!  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

He knows us perfectly

As I was reflecting today, I was sent this prayer:

Saint Theresa's Prayer

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us..

I am comforted by the Comforter. He heals us, and I trust He is at work for those children! Amidst the heart pain of today (and that knot that still will not go away in my throat), I do have some amazing praise to share though! I added 2 precious young men to my African family!  The holy spirit has been nudging me and He has been creating opportunities for me to see the potential in these two amazing souls. 

Samuel is covered with burn scars on half his face and body due to an accident 4 years ago that had him in the ICU for a long time.  He used to hide his face and not make eye contact with me on purpose.  But this trip was different... he was smiling and seemed to have more confidence.  I shared his story and how I was uplifted by him the first night during debriefing, then got to know him more.  It was so awesome to see him run up to me each day and greet me.  I learned his name and made a big deal each time I saw him. To see such a change in a boy that has been through so much is really special.  So when I decided to add a child two days ago, my heart reached for Samson first - an older boy - 14 and in class 7 - who did not have a sponsor.  He is a strong, tall young man with a spectacular academic record, drive, and love for Jesus all while having a humble spirit.  I was so surprised he didn't have a sponsor, so I decided it was him.  The older kids never get sponsored, and this only increases their somewhat jaded hearts. They see visitors come and go, and wonder if either this will be the ticket out of there, or will they forget me too?  So it was decided, Samson was my guy....

Until Samuel, the tender heart with the scars was right next to him on the website.  My life is beyond blessed-these children live in a small rented room, with their entire family; and after seeing them today firsthand, I am much more sensitive to what this really means.  So my sweet clan includes Evelyn, Samson, who is about a foot taller than me, Samuel, and my mom's sponsored child Alvin.  I have one additional child to meet with, Boniface, as he is my stepdad's mother's sponsored child.

I had the privilege to share the best gift in the world with each of them - their very own bible!!!  I am so excited to share the one thing that will never fail them!  Alvin went in a told his teacher, "My muzungu gave me a bible! A nice own that is big and hardcover!"  I am his muzungu.  I mean seriously, I melt. 

I also had the honor of reciting the Lord's prayer in Kiswahili to the second grade class - and I pronounced everything correctly!  It was really special for them because they saw it as me taking more value in learning their language more than just a few simple phrases.  I also learned I love you, which is pretty much my favorite phrase.  Nakupenda - I'm seriously in love inside those walls. Praise him!

Evelyn and I - my first sponsored child

Alvin is to my right - he is my mom's sponsored child, although he calls me "his muzungu" (white person)

My newest sponsored children Samuel and Samson!

Sweet Joshua!

Reading about praying.  Best lesson ever!

Beautiful hands.  I love them.

Ginger, my mentor and I!

Heartbreak and hope

Today we made Home Visits:

We walked down into the village where the majority of the KDS students live. The smells, the sounds, the flies and other bugs swarming, the treacherous walking through sewage and trash to get there; today was like no other.  As much as you think you can understand as you drive through the slums, you have no idea. It is worse than any thought you could ever conjure up in your mind.

First, we visit Alice. Alice and her husband provide for their family by collecting items from the dump to sell.  If he does not sell, he does not come home.  So far he's been gone for 36 hours.  Alice and her family of six live in one room; small, dark, and crowded, where they eat, sleep, cook, and sustain themselves.  The entire room and path to their home are swarming with bugs, covered with dirty water and sewage.  Trash is piled in bags outside the room, as these are the items that the parents have collected from the dump to survive.  Two of their children go to KDS.

The dump is a curse; 30 acres of land, brimming with trash piled, filling a quarry first then 2,000 tons of Nairobi's trash, toxic, medical, agricultural, and residential waste all are dumped daily in one place. The dump is run by gangs. It is dangerous, literally sickening (studies have been done as far away as Japan for the negative health effects produced from the burning of the trash at the dump.) Unfortunately this same toxic place is sustanence for so many. People fight for the newest trucks filled with trash; children are drawn away from school to scavenge through. They return with heavy chest coughs and other sicknesses as it is incredibly destructive to their growing bodies.

Anna lives down by the river in a nicer one room home that was provided by the Dandora health workers and the community.  Her food to feed the 5 grandchildren she has comes from the same health workers, the community, and the Dandora Catholic church.  Anna's daughter died in November 2011, leaving Anna to take of them.  To make matters worse, Anna's grandson drowned in the river alongside their home during the heavy floods.  They still cannot find his body.  Two of Anna's grandchildren attend KDS.

An entire family shares one room with many children and animals; danger; idleness abound; shanties connected with metal, wood, uneven ground, as the ground slopes downward to the river.  There is trash everywhere; livestock walk and defacate freely; the smell of rotten fish, feces, and overwhelming trash overpowers your senses.  Unschooled children call out to us as we pass.  Feelings of sadness, disappointment in a world that doesn't even know this exists, the children, the people of God, in such a place is beyond heart-breaking.  Fear begins to creep in as we trudge through one of the most dangerous places in the world, rampant with gang activity; we walk cautiously as well know to well that desperate circumstances draw people to illegal, hazardous activities and crime. 

Finally, in all the pain, reproach, disgust, and hurt, I find praise.  I thank God that He allowed me to see the devastating poverty that more than half the world lives in.  I thank God for breaking my heart and not letting this message die within me.  I thank God for the hope that comes from Him alone.  I know we talk a pretty great talk when it comes to loving God alone and not worrying about material possessions....  if you could only see and experience this, you would understand this in a whole new way.  I thank God for the strength I have right now, and I am grateful that He has honored me with this privilege to take the message of Dandora elsewhere.  

Today, be thankful, and most importantly, pray.

If this is how I feel, I can only imagine the pain God feels at his children suffering. Pray for protection, hope, trust, provision, and change in a dark place! Pray that the love of Christ would be received. Pray that the hearts that have experienced this would share the message. Today was the first time in three years that I cried in front of staff members. It was incredibly emotional; I am not impervious to the injustice. God has given me strength to endure, but today, today will be used for His glory.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012


This trip has been such a beautiful gift from the Lord!  I am overwhelmed by His love and grace, and feel so humbled to walk faithfully in His plan for me!  

Yesterday we hosted the teachers at our guest house (about 75 minutes from the slum) for a seminar on music incorporation in the classroom, then had a beautiful lunch and fellowship. Afterwards I was able to have one of the most authentic conversations I've ever had with one of the staff members of KDS, Grace.  We shared so much together - triumph, challenges, why I love Kenya, the community and the destructive environment the school is surrounded by, as well as the daily injustices the children face.  So much of what I've been trying to convey to my Haiti team with is coming to fruition here - life is truly all about relationships.  As an American culture, we want a product, visible progress, etc. and will sacrifice friendship, family, love and mercy for it.  I am wildly guilty of forever being busy - something I am actively working on - and this trip has been such a tangible demonstration of what is really important.  

I am so blessed to share genuine friendship with the teachers.  God has absolutely been teaching me about slowing down to indulge and invest in this way.  One of the songs we learned yesterday was a Kenyan proverb:   haraka haraka haina baraka - there is no blessing in hurrying!  So once my whirlwind world tour is over, yall have full permission to remind me of this!

I woke up this morning to the sweetest email of praise and encouragement from one of my students.  She asked me what I have been teaching, so I thought I would share with all:   I've taught addition with and without carrying and growing place values to the first graders, reading comprehension and writing (YAY!) to the third graders, Christian Religious Education to the fifth graders, perimeter and area to the fourth graders (I even taught them the perimeter song that we sing in the US!), story problems in math to the second graders, handwriting to the fifth graders, higher order thinking skills, incorporating multiple intelligences and learning styles into the classroom, and how to have two groups in one class (differentiated instruction) to the teachers! 

Another sweet friend asked me about some of my most meaningful interactions with the kids so far, so I thought I would share that too:   Some of my favorite moments with the kids are when I can see that lightbulb turn on!  It might be for being praised - like Leonard, who had handwriting that was somewhat legible...on a good day.  To see him smile, clap, and cheer for himself after he was finished working was amazing.  Another student, Steven, and I connected as I was able to challenge him.  That is where my strength is in the classroom - enriching, challenging, higher order thinking skills, etc. (not so much remediation) - so once the kids finished the classwork on the board, I would check their work, then give them harder problems.  This continued with Steven, and I could see it was the first time where he really had to start "flexing" his brain muscles rather than always being done first, and getting a 100% every time.  The look of pride and accomplishment on his face, as well as the excitement to continue with harder problems is a blessing and an inspiration for me.  The same thing happened in another classroom, and it was awesome to see a whole group of kids being pushed rather than just playing, being a distraction, etc. because they were done and the work was too easy for them.  The classes are around 45 kids each, and only have 1 teacher, so any time you have an extra set of hands to work with the kids, it is a huge help.  It's in those moments when I am happiest - truly connecting with a child and helping him/her realize they are valued, talented and can succeed.  It's what we all strive for as teachers!    

Today we worshipped at KDS with Pastor Ochien and some of the community of Dandora.  This is a shout out to all of my Passion City Church/Grace friends - you would have LOVED worship!  Run the race with endurance? You know we were literally running.  Hands in the air, dancing, praising the King of Kings in the same way 8,000 miles and an entire cultural boundary away.  Ginger taught today on 1 Samuel, and two women accepted Christ - HOW amazing!!!  I was also able to connect with some of the eighth graders, who at times, can be resistant to visitors.  As the kids get older, the excitement of visitors wears off.   It is also difficult to invest in a relationship with someone then he/she never returns.  That was one of my fears this past year when I didn't return in 2011- I wanted them to know I am dedicated to them, love them dearly, and continue to pray for them. 

This has been on my heart all week.  It's for this reason that I am going to add another child, a 7th grade boy, Samson, to my African family.  The small amount it takes to sponsor a child per month ($38) is pennies in comparison to the life he leads and the battles he faces each day.  My conversation with Grace yesterday reignited a passion for me to fight the injustices that the children are unwillingly facing each day.  Without God first, then an education, the vicious cycle of extreme poverty will never end.  Samson lives in a rented room with no running water - it really makes you consider what our lives look like in America, and what we complain about daily. 

Another gracious friend asked about it, so here is the link if you are interested as well: 

Things I am thankful for today:  waking up!, knowing Jesus, liberty, health (I have not been ill here at all except for headaches which come from the heavy fumes in traffic!), the freedom and accessibility to read the living word of God, my growing ability to kill flies, random acts of kindness, encouragement, sweet children, an amazing team, cake for dinner (not. even. kidding.), joy, family and friends that love and support me, a heavenly Father that is sovereign and has it all figured out, afternoon tea in the garden, worshipping God in Kiswahili and English, God's protection and provision, especially while we are traveling through some dangerous places, and curling up safely into bed.    

Another praise:  I memorized the Lord's prayer in Kiswahili, and actually can pronounce the words pretty well too! I love answering your questions, so feel free to ask!  

What is the Holy Spirit showing you today?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

KCF Academic Committee Refreshes the Saints

I serve as the Educational Consultant for Kenya Children's Fund and on the Academic Committee. It is such an honor to be able to serve in such an authentic ministry that is led by God and for His glory alone! I have been writing for KCF ( since 2009 after God stole my heart and gave it to Africa then.

Currently I am assisting Ginger in her CEO blog. Today I wrote about the Academic Committee, a short blurb for our donors as to the mission of our trip and the vision for a collaborative future. You can read it here or see below!

May/June 2012:  The Kenya Children's Fund Academic Committee has been collaborating with the teachers of the Kinyago Dandora Sschool to support them in the areas of special education and continued best practices including differentiated instruction and incorporating music into the classroom.   

Teachers are called not only to teach, but to love, support, parent, gracefully discipline, encourage, comfort, and serve the kids with their whole beings.  For the teachers to best serve the students, we know that the teachers themselves need to be poured into so that they can continue to pour out to their students.  The teachers have welcomed the committee graciously, opened their hearts for cross-cultural relationships, exposing vulnerabilities and challenges while sharing the love of God which is exhibited through their dedication to the students and their continued learning.

Lin Peterson, a special education teacher from Minneapolis, joined the team this year to bring creative and effective teaching methods to reach students with special needs.  She, alongside with other committee members,  have been instrumental in delivering small group instruction to students as well as support and expertise in the area of student disabilities to the staff.  The teachers are hungry for knowledge and so receptive as they engage in dialogue to better themselves as educators.  Together, the staff and the academic committee have committed to an environment of mutual collaboration. 

We all look forward to continuing the partnership based on love and dedication to the future of Africa!    For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. (Philemon 1:7 ESV) He who refreshes others is also refreshed - Proverbs 11:25 - In my next post, I plan to share my heart's journey through our growing relationship with the teachers!