"And if you SPEND YOURSELVES on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday."

"The Lord will continually guide you. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."- Isaiah 58:10-11

Monday, October 29, 2012

Being Thankful...

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail that included the following statement…

“The (name removed) said that your living in Kijabe is going to be soooooo much better for you.”

I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.  I think it was directed towards the added comforts to which we have access at Kijabe - consistent running water, a washing machine, refrigeration, hot water, etc. 

It really caused me to think.  Do modern conveniences make life “better”?  They certainly make life less time consuming and allow us to live more independently, but does that make life “better”? 

When we moved to Kenya, one of our predominant observations was how content Kenyans are with the little they have.  They are consistently short on supplies, food, household items, money…They live in mud huts!  But, they are comfortable with their “little” and focus on their wealth of relationships. 

Maybe it was because everything was so new, but we fell into that right away. 

Reflecting back to living on The Hill, I realized several things.  We actually didn’t mind not having running water.  We had to borrow our friend’s donkey, purchase some 20 L containers, and seek the help of a neighbor to haul water from the creek to our house.  It was time consuming but it provided us with the opportunity to build community and dependence on our friends.

Katie and Ruth's Daughter
Living without a washing machine was fine.  Sure, our socks and underwear and cotton clothes were 2 times the normal size from scrubbing them in a bucket and faded in the sun from hanging them on a line but, we sought out some much needed help from our young married neighbor girl.  She could finish ten times faster than me!  She became a good friend of ours along with her children who would accompany her and hang out with our children.  This provided her with some shillings to buy pots, pans and serving utensils for her own house and provided us with a trusted friend.  It was worth it. 

Caleb and Ruth's Son 
Not having a refrigerator forced me to seek help from our house-worker for Kenyan recipes that could be made from scratch.   We worked together combining some of my ideas and some of hers and found some new favorites that both of our families enjoyed.  She and I strengthened our relationship because of the time spent learning together and just being together. 

Not having hot water was…sacrificial – especially for me, who likes showers that are hot and plenteous.  It was inconvenient to heat water on the stove, to shower in a bucket, and to be conservative…but we were consistently clean.  And, in light of our neighbors who daily showered in cold water, we actually felt spoiled by our short, warm bucket shower. 
Movie night in a mud hut!

Honestly, as I’ve thought about this, I think “better” is a matter of perspective.  We were quite content living in Joseph and Annah’s mud hut.  There was always someone to help us figure out how to live in Kenya. We were grateful for every little blessing God provided us with.  We didn’t even realize how time consuming and challenging these simple things were until we moved to the Guest House. 

Cleaning the Oasis Guest House to move in

Then we found a new sense of gratitude.  The day we moved into a brick home that freed our family up to live alone, we had a giant celebration.  The day we went from no electricity to solar energy was another reason to rejoice.  The afternoon water poured through our kitchen faucet from the well was a tremendous blessing to us and to our next door neighbors, who also used this water and a toilet that flushed – We felt like kings and queens on our new throne (Haha!).  We found contentment in every little added blessing.

In some ways, we feel the same today about Kijabe.  We can’t believe that we get to live in such a beautiful and relationally rich (in a different way) area where our kids can attend a Christian school, and we can continue to work to rescue and develop orphans. Looking back at the challenges we faced living in the Guest House, we now realize that things were more difficult there, but we had been content because our perspective was rooted in the circumstances from which we’d come.  

However, despite the access we have to “better” things, we’ve found that it is easier to be discontent here.  When we moved in, our bathroom sink and tub didn’t drain (and hadn’t for years).  They were coated in dirt, rust, and mold.  So we had to re-do the bathroom to make it usable.  We’d love to paint the interior of the house so it looks more appealing (something about pink and purple walls are hard for me).  People have relatively, so many things here that there’s been a rash of thievery in the community so we find ourselves concerned over safety.  There’s been a water shortage, and we’ve felt a little put out because there’s a team of experts who should be able to fix it… I could go on. 

So today, I’m thankful for the opportunity to consider these things carefully and the reminder to be thankful in every circumstance.  Life is not easy.  Living circumstance can be hard physically, socially, emotionally, and financially.  But shifting perspective can be life altering. 

I came across a Bible verse this week that responded to that e-mail perfectly…

“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that you renewed your concern for me… I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:10-13

As we remind ourselves, we encourage you with this today - Despite your circumstances, find reasons to be grateful to God, who will give you strength in every moment and will give you thankfulness in all circumstances!  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Smith Update

God has been so faithful to us and we cannot begin this update without giving a shout out to Him for bringing about two miraculous breakthroughs in our work this month. 

The first miracle involves relationship…Living and working in a different culture has its challenges.  We’ve faced several difficult issues that are being named “cultural differences” but, in truth, are more accurately issues of integrity. Sin has a way of distorting and entangling every person and culture, but confession and truth can are the keys to healing and beginning afresh.   In a truly miraculous situation this month, we saw this in action when a Kenyan friend and co-worker approached us and apologized for their part in the problem.  It was unprecedented and rarely seen in this culture, and it has allowed God to begin the restoration process in their life and in our relationship.  Though we still have a long way to go, we have renewed hope in moving forward and would appreciate your continued prayers as we walk through this process in love.

The second miracle involves provision…We have been in a process of fundraising to cover our family’s needs in order to remain here for an additional three years.  Our financial needs will increase as we move to Kijabe, and several of our donors who committed to supporting us for two years have been called to other areas.  This is a humbling process to go through, but we are so thankful to God for encouraging many of you to respond by renewing your commitment to pray for us and continue supporting us.  We are also very grateful for those of you who have joined our team!  We have recently reached our goal for year one, through some generous one-time gifts, but are still in need of more monthly commitments to get us to our three-year target. 

The Top 5 Things We’ve Loved About Summer Break!

  • Katie’s home! Our summer began on July 13th, when all four children finished the school year.  We started our summer by spending a day together in Nairobi seeing “Spider Man” and eating at Java House, our favorite restaurant!  Then we headed for The Hill via the famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve for a mini-safari.  Though the animals were scarce at that time, we were so glad to be back together again as a family!

  • Visitors! Five days into summer our first visitors arrived.  We’ve had a revolving door at the Hill with various teams coming and going over the last 6 weeks.  We have enjoyed every moment reconnecting with family and friends and watching them fall in love with the Kenyan people we serve and love.

  • New Oasis Sites!  Over the course of the summer, we’ve been able to visit every potential new Oasis site and spend time with the leaders and children from each place.  We are more excited than ever to see these dreams become reality and are working diligently to lay the groundwork for this.
Rick with kids from The Bush
  • EPIC Planning!  This year, the Oasis Year End Benefit will be entitled EPIC.  Oasis kids will tell an epic story, complete with heroes who have participate in their rescue.  Through this event, we eagerly anticipate sharing with you what God is doing here in Kenya!  Rick and I will be in Grayslake for the benefit and would love to see you! If you live in the Chicago area, mark your calendar for the evening of Sunday, December 2 at the Chapel in Grayslake.  Oasis will also be hosting many living room EPIC events all over the country.  If you are interested in attending or hosting a EPIC event in your area, please contact Ann.  ann@oasisfororphans.org. 
  • Moving to Kijabe! Our kids have been praying for months that our house in Kijabe would open up early so we could begin getting things moved there and  start meeting people.  Miraculously, the house opened up on August 3rd and though we only spent a few nights there, it was fun to meet our new neighbors and begin to get things settled!  We are excited about this new opportunity God has placed in front of us and the potential it brings to rescue and develop more orphans.  Rick has begun teaching two classes at Moffat Bible College.  His schedule worked out wonderfully and he is teaching Tuesday afternoons and Wednesday mornings, which allows him ample time to continue working on Oasis tasks and he is loving teaching!

First Day of School at Rift Valley Academy!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dennis and Daisy - Tragic Loss

It is with deep sorrow that we write this letter to tell you we lost two of the precious children in the Oasis program.  Daisy and Dennis both died within weeks of each other. Every child at Oasis is special in their own way, and both Daisy and Dennis had God’s fingerprints all over them.

Daisy’s Story:
Little Daisy was born on June 4th and was welcomed into the Children’s home with joy.  She was a beautiful baby and lived up to her name. (See previous blog for story). When she was only a week old, she contracted pneumonia and was taken to Tenwek Hospital.  After 10 days, she recovered from the pneumonia, but when the doctors tried to remove her from oxygen, she began to struggle.  So, they looked for other health issues that could be causing this. 

An x-ray was performed which revealed that Daisy had a significantly enlarged heart.  This was very concerning.  An additional test called an echocardiogram was needed to determine the exact cause of the heart enlargement.  There was also concern that if the condition required surgery there would not be a doctor available at Tenwek to perform it until October.  The doctors were hopeful that Daisy would recover enough to come home and be able to have surgery in October. 

However, over the course of the month, Daisy’s health continued to decline.  So, the doctors recommended that she be brought to Nairobi for additional testing.  On July 11, Daisy went in an ambulance to Kenyatta National Hospital where an echocardiogram was performed.  It was found that she had 3 holes in her heart in addition to transposition of the great vessels.  This meant that her aorta and pulmonary vessels were switched.  This is a fatal condition that can only be reversed through a complicated, and high-risk surgery.  Unfortunately, there was not a surgeon in Kenya who could help. 

Daisy quickly became weaker and weaker. On Friday, July 13, 2012, she died in the loving arms of her mother and woke up in the loving arms of her Heavenly Father.  Daisy was buried this week and the mamas placed daisies on her grave.  We all mourn the loss of this precious flower.

Dennis’ Story:
Oasis found Dennis when he was 14 years old and recruited him into the Day Program in the Bush at the end of last year.   Immediately, we recognized that we had a special boy on our hands. He was incredibly affectionate and his smile was charming.  He loved to give hugs and wanted to snuggle up next to anyone who would put their arm around him. He was the kind of kid that melted your heart in an instant.   

However, Dennis was sick.  He had epilepsy.  Two years ago, while having a seizure, Dennis fell into a fire and severely burned his leg.  Due to lack of good medical care, it was left untreated and developed significant scarring and infection that affected his ability to walk. 

Many of you knew of Dennis because he was recently taken to Kijabe Hospital to have surgery to repair his burned leg.  In addition he was put on a medication regimen that helped get his seizures under control.  After surgery, Dennis came to live at the Children’s home on The Hill while he recovered.  He thrived on The Hill.  The other children embraced him fully and the mamas coddled him.  He was finally able to walk again.  Indeed, hope was restored to Dennis.

Sadly, on the evening of June 25, Dennis began to have a massive seizure.  It lasted for more than an hour.  Afterwards, he never regained consciousness.  He was rushed to the hospital, but there was nothing that could be done and we lost our precious child. 

He was buried a few days later with more than 300 people from The Hill and Bush communities gathered together. It was sad...so, so sad to say goodbye to one of our children; to watch the family wail and mourn over their lost brother, nephew, and cousin; to see the other children at TCH weep over the loss of their friend.
Below is the journal entry one of the Oasis staff members wrote immediately after hearing Dennis had passed away:

 I honestly can't even describe the deep sadness I feel right now and cannot seem to stop crying for the past few hours over this loss.  We lost a family member today and a boy who had the deepest joy of the Lord and a smile that could just melt your heart.  Dennis would just beam when he saw us.  He gave such intense hugs that he almost caused pain because he squeezed so tight.  He loved life and didn't seem to mind the pain of his epilepsy or his leg.  He was so strong and so inspiring to be around that you could not help but catch his joy. 

When he was in the hospital, Ann would take him candy and he would share it with every kid in his room so that they all could be as happy as he was.  He had that special kind of generous, gracious, and wonderful heart. 

His life was hard but you would never have known it.  I honestly cannot put into words how much I loved this kid, and I'm sure the Smith's can't either.  Anyone who met him knew his contagious joy and was blessed by it.  He was simply put a beautiful, precious child.  
Even though it is a loss for all of us, he is with our Father now and is healed and home.  I have this incredible image in my head right now of Dennis playing around in heaven with 2 good legs, no seizures, and running into God’s arms for a big bear and finally experiencing Someone who can hug back as tight as he can. 

God only knows why this was Dennis and Daisy’s time to go. Phillipians 3:21 tells us that when we get to heaven, Jesus will transform our earthly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.  Though Dennis never had the chance to run here on earth, I can assure you Dennis is running now as he had a strong and vibrant relationship with Jesus.  And though Daisy struggled with every breath, we know she is enjoying perfect health in heaven. We who remain have hope because Jesus made it possible to have a relationship with God. 

We have been reminded during this tragedy of how Oasis is really a family.  Everything we do is built around our desire to engage kids and sponsors in personal and meaningful ways.  Although we prefer to celebrate successes, we also must be prepared to grieve losses together.

As we left Dennis’s funeral, Wilson, the older brother and caregiver of Dennis pulled us aside.  He had been unable to speak during the funeral because he was too overcome with emotion.  He requested that we personally thank all of Oasis for stepping in and helping Dennis.  So thank you to all of you who step in and help these precious children.  We are so grateful for you! 

A video tribute to Dennis can be seen at:

Oasis has set up a memorial fund in honor of Dennis and Daisy.  Funds donated will go towards other special medical cases. If you wish to contribute towards this, please follow the instructions below. 
How to give to the Dennis and Daisy Memorial Fund:
1. By Check to Oasis for Orphans
Memo:    Dennis and Daisy Memorial Fund
Send to:  
Oasis for Orphans                
P.O. Box 524             
Wadsworth, IL 60083

2. Online at - www.oasisfororphans.org/donate
Donate to the General Fund

In the memo field type: Dennis and Daisy Memorial Fund

Baby Thoughts...

The past few weeks I (Ann) have been thinking about babies. Doubtless this is due to the baby experiences we’ve run into recently.  I am struck at the simple value of every life and yet the complex range of circumstances surrounding the birth of each child. There’s a verse in Psalm 139 that keeps passing through my mind. “For You (God) formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” According to God, a child is never a mistake and each one is carefully and uniquely crafted.  They do change life for those involved however.  Maybe you can relate to one of these stories and can ponder life with me.

Baby Experience One - Last weekend, we went to a baby dedication.  It was a noteworthy day primarily because of the family dedicating their son.  There was a mother present, which is typical in Kenya.  Usually the mothers come to church and even if they are not regular attendees, they dedicate their children.  The significance was the fact that there was a father present as well - and not just any father, a really good father who is not only alive, but is committed to raising his children well - a man who is committed to his wife, and a man who is a leader in the community.  It was joyful to celebrate their son and their family.  It felt good to be there and to celebrate the fact that this was the way God intended a family to function. 

Baby Experience Two - Just a few days ago, we welcomed a new baby into the children’s home.  She is precious, beautiful and a gift.  (pic of Daisy)
It was not a planned incidence however.  Her mom, one of my favorites, arrived at the home in 2009 after she’d been raped.  She was 13 and pregnant and though traumatized, she delivered a healthy baby who is delightful.  Last fall, she started struggling emotionally and began to exhibit rebellious behavior.  She ended up running away twice.  We knew her location was safe but, because she refused to return, we thought she was gone for good.  We don’t force children to stay here.  It was really hard.  After several months of being on the run and realizing life outside the home wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, she apologized profusely and begged to return.  It was a process, but she is now back with us and is a changed girl.  During her absence she became pregnant, and now we are helping her manage this hard road she has ahead of her. 

Baby Experience Three – There’s a young girl in this community who we’ve befriended.  Two days ago, she pulled me aside and, with tears streaming down her face, told me she was pregnant.  She’s 16.  She is the classic story of hundreds of young girls here.  She was born into a fatherless home.  Her mother is incompetent.  A generous relative offered to take her in at the age of 10.  She’s basically like a servant to the family. Though she goes to school and is given food, she spends all of her additional time watching cattle, washing clothes or dishes, hauling water, or cleaning.  She is desperate for love – desperate for someone to tell her she is worthy and valued.  The first boy that came along and told her she is beautiful and that he loves her became her savior.  She soaked these words in like a parched woman in a desert.  Without hesitation, she gave herself to him.  Now she’s pregnant and the cycle continues. 

Baby Experience Four -  There is another young girl in the community in the same situation as the girl above.  However, her mother took matters into her own hands and gave her herbs to induce labor in order to abort the child.  She became gravely sick and was bleeding to death when we were contacted about her situation.  In a series of miraculous events, we were able to rush her to a hospital and save her life but, unfortunately, not the life of her precious child.  This was one of the hardest days I’ve had here as I had to sit with her after her abortion while her dead child lay in a basin next to us.  It was horrific because of the life lost and yet miraculous because of the life saved. 

Life can be hard.  Only a small percentage of situations seem to live up to all that God intended them to be, primarily because of our own bad decisions.  But, even though living up to God’s plan can be seemingly impossible, God desires to be with us through every moment in our lives lived here on earth. He works through even our intentional wrongdoing to provide a way for us to reach out and find Him to begin afresh with Him at the lead instead of ourselves.  Every life is incredibly precious to God and so valuable He was willing to send Jesus to earth to pay the price for our wrong actions to make a relationship with Him possible. He knows we don’t deserve His love and forgiveness but that is why His gift is so ridiculously full of love and grace.  We just need to reach out and take it by asking for forgiveness and asking Him to lead our lives.  And then, like a new baby, we experience a fresh start. 

Thank you for pondering these things with me.  We are so thankful for the role you play in our lives.  May your day start fresh today…

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


This is Caleb with one of our best friends John and his two boys...
Sharks and Minnows Kenyan style "Lions and Gazelles"
I love the babies' fascination with Caleb's hair...

Good Friends!!!  We love visitors!!!

I love how small Caleb looks here.  This was a great hike to visit a friends house!  

Fun friends...

Car Trouble - and a flash flood!

We've had some car trouble this week which has left us stranded at Kijabe. We thought the problem was fixed today so we headed back home. As we got to the bottom of the Rift Valley, it began to rain quite hard...in fact it's rained quite hard here for 44 days in a row. Everything is saturated. About 30 km into the rift valley we were reminded of the mud that has covered the roads. You can see here where they've removed the dirt to the side of the road. It's like 10 foot drifts of snow...only it's dirt.
As we proceeded, the car started acting strange and we decided we better turn back. And literally what we came through a few minutes earlier was filling up quickly with water as a flash flood covered the valley and began to fill the ditches on the side of the road.
The ditches quickly became full...flooding houses...
And eventually the road...
Exciting! Fortunately we made it back safely!

The Smith's are Moving to...

Over the last two years, our time in Kenya has been filled with a combination of really exciting life-saving opportunities and really frustrating personal and professional challenges. When we returned home in December for a short break, we were uncertain of our future and badly in need of time with people who know us. God used that time to refresh our family, heal relationships, unify our organization, and ignite our passion to rescue and develop orphan children in Kenya.

When we returned to Kenya, it was with very mixed emotions. Although we were excited by the work, we missed friends and family. We debated sending Katie back to boarding school, our other children were struggling emotionally and relationally, and the location of the guest house was not ideal for the fulfillment of Oasis’s vision. These were all challenges weighing heavily on our minds. Because of this, toward the end of December, we began praying specifically about exactly what God was asking us to do.

God was so good to us and began to reveal His plan for our future as soon as we landed in Kenya. While we waited for our luggage at the airport, a fellow “Muzungu” (white person) approached us to say hello. As we talked, we learned that he worked at Moffat Bible College in Kijabe, which is within walking distance of Rift Valley Academy (RVA), the school Katie attends. Over the next few weeks, a miraculous conversation continued that ultimately led to an offer of a very part-time teaching opportunity at Moffat along with the opportunity to live on campus and for all of our children to attend RVA. After discussing this with the Oasis board, they agreed that God was in this, and that relocating would be a strategic move for Oasis’s expansion.

Here are some of the benefits of this significant change:
 o Moving will enable our family to extend our commitment to Kenya beyond 2 years because our family can live together and our children will attend RVA, where they will have opportunities similar to those they would have in America.
 o Moving will put us in a more central location, where we can fulfill the vision of Oasis by creating partnerships with other Kenyan organizations beyond TMD.
 o Teaching at Moffat allows me to train pastors and network with leaders of communities all around Africa.
 o Creating some space between ourselves and the leadership at TMD will help eliminate some of the unhealthy dependence that has been created.
 o Moving will enable Ann to work full time for Oasis, as she will no longer need to home-school our children, allowing her to use her gifts of leadership and communication to inspire others with the work God is doing in Kenya.

We are so thankful for the support we have been given over the last two years. We are very grateful that people were willing to support us when we knew little more than God was asking us to move to Kenya. We now realize the extent of God’s work and strongly believe that, by staying in Kenya, we can help Oasis for Orphans rescue and develop hundreds more children. AND, God is going before us to provide a situation that allows us to accomplish His work in Kenya while keeping our family healthy.

The final confirmation we need is to know is that people are still willing to support us. We are in need of several more monthly supporters and have some one-time needs in order to move to Kijabe. We feel very humbled in making this ask but believe the work God is asking us to do makes it necessary. Thank you for prayerfully considering our support.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

"Gold" Relationships

We are back safe and sound on African turf and are so grateful for the opportunity we had to visit friends and family in the States during the month of December!

One of the things that struck us so profoundly during the time we spent in America was the contrast between the two countries. We felt that disparity, as everyone who visits does, in coming to Kenya, but for the first time we felt it from the other side. We had forgotten how many “things” we have in America…and were reminded how insignificant “things” are and how valuable good friends are.

Two days before we left Kenya, I was invited to visit the home of a friend. She lives in a mud hut – one of the nicer ones with a tin roof. I sat with her in the ‘living room’- if that is what you would call the space we shared. We relaxed on one of her rickety wooden couches, cushioned by thin foam pads that were overlaid with a sun-faded sheet to hide the holes. Her makeshift curtains, which served as doors to the two small bedrooms, kept blowing open with the breeze, and I could see the shabbybedrooms, “carpeted’ with cardboard to keep the dust down. The blankets were clean but permanently stained from washing in the muddy river. The twin bed for the children sleeps three. Her own bed was covered with a patchwork blanket that must have been a wedding present. There were a few clothes piled in the corners of the rooms, no dressers, and a small radio blasted the latest Kenyan hits. Really she has nothing in the way of “things”… except a few aged greeting cards hanging on the walls for decorations, some old newspapers cut out like snowflakes and hung from the ceilings and a calendar from 2008.

As I absorbed the simplicity of my surroundings, we chatted and laughed and talked of nothing and everything. All the while she absolutely spoiled us. She made us chai. She even made special chai for Caleb without milk. And, it was sweet chai, even though sugar is very expensive in Kenya now. Then, she used an entire bag of flour to make African pancakes for all of us. As we enjoyed them, we knew her children would not eat well that night and maybe for several nights because of all she spent on us… But our time was rich in conversation and rich in community. She went out of her way to make us feel loved. And we did. We felt loved and valued, and we left so grateful for her sacrifice to make us feel special. Where we sat and the “things” that surrounded us didn’t matter at all. What mattered was the time spent together building our relationship.

Not a week later as we visited America, I had another experience but in a much different environment. I sat in the beautiful home of a good friend. The details of the decorating in her home were exquisite. Every aspect had been carefully thought out and planned. I love beautiful things and well put together corners and walls. It’s a form of art to me. So, I thoroughly relished the creative works of her hands and appreciated the thoughtfulness in the details. It took me a while to absorb the sheer amount of beautiful things in her home, and then it became overwhelming to me. I felt like it kept coming in waves and was almost drowning me, my senses on overload because there was so much. All the while, I couldn’t stop thinking of the last home I visited.

But then something happened. We settled our suitcases and children and sank into her couch. She filled my hands with a warm cup of tea and we began to talk. Where we sat and the “things” surrounding us faded into the background. As the words flowed, we laughed and caught up and related and reminisced for hours. It felt familiar and comfortable to sit deep with her. I became profoundly refreshed and encouraged.

There is a saying I love:
Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver, the other gold.

As Rick and I have processed through this together we both have again been so grateful for the friends with which God has blessed us. We love that God designed friendship so we could understand what it is like to have a relationship with Him. Maybe it’s because we were so starved for relationship that we experienced it afresh in America; but, as we sat in the midst of our ‘gold’ friends and family and were encouraged, prayed for, and listened to, we tangibly felt God’s encouragement, His listening ears, and His understanding through the time spent with others.

So thank you for the time and energy invested in our family through your presence and through your letters and e-mails! We love each one of you and appreciate your investment in our lives!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Good Cry

Typically, I’m not a very emotional person, but I cried today. It was a good cry. Not for myself, though I admit I’ve had a selfish cry a few times before. Today I cried for a little girl who I’ve grown to love. She came here not long ago and instantly increased the level of joy in the place. She was delighted to be here – loved the food – loved the bed – made lots of friends right away. She’s a great kid. She’s easy to love – everyone loves her.

But today I cried for her because today we found out she was HIV positive. She doesn’t know yet. She won’t know for a while – she’s only six… She’s only six! Dear sweet child of six, how can your life have already been so hard. You watched your baba and mama die, you were left alone and now things were going to get better but they will still be hard for you. Oh God why?

And as I cried, I heard a strong familiar voice soothing me. ‘Yes my daughter, cry for her, cry hard for her. That fact that you are crying for her means she is loved. That’s why I brought her there – to be loved, to be rescued, and to become My daughter as well. Care deeply for her. She is Mine.’

That was it. The fact that anyone would cry for her was the story of her audacious rescue by an adoring God. A small, beautiful, insignificant child hidden in the bush of Kenya dramatically rescued by God, who couldn’t let her out of His sight. A few months ago, no one might have known. She could have become sick and died and no one might have cared really. But now, she is truly loved and has hope for her future.

I’m going to talk to her sponsor tomorrow and they will cry too…we will cry together. But really, it will be another good cry because it will shout the significance of her life – the significance of every life.

Thank you God for the opportunity to cry today.