Thursday, February 20, 2014


So I have been very slack on this blog lately, and I fully intend to back fill all that has happened, but I had to post about the Disney movie Frozen.  My children have never seen a Disney princess movie.  I know, GASP, 4 girls and no princess movies, but I was convicted several years ago about TV and movie watching and try to keep them to a very limited amount of things that they watch.  This has been a decision Matt and I made for our family and the kids don't mind at all.  So now we plan a trip to Disney World and my curiosity perked to see Frozen.   
We previewed the movie and I was actually blown away at how good it was!  It wasn't like any other Disney movie I had ever seen!  It paralleled Christianity, in my eyes, so vividly and I knew this was a teaching video I could use for my girls and their identity in Christ!!
Before I break it down, let me give you a little background information on some things I have been learning.  I just finished reading this book called the Supernatural Ways of Royalty and learned a lot about my role as a parent in speaking words to my children that build them up for the life they have in Christ.  You see when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we become children of a KING!  We are ROYALTY!!!  So for my daughters, I tell them they are princesses.  Carly and Chloe have prayed for salvation and are apart of the Kingdom of God and have a new identity.  I want them to know this and I want them to know who they are and have confidence in that identity.   
So now how in the world does a Disney movie come anywhere close to teaching my children about their identity in Christ??  These are totally my own opinions and there are several things I wasn't that fond about, but just hear me out on the big picture things!! 
The first character I will introduce is Elsa.  She was born into royalty.  Just like when you accept salvation in Jesus Christ, you become royalty in the Kingdom of God.  When you accept Jesus you are given a gift.  The gift of the Holy Spirit.  My daughters are young and I am aware that they probably have a hard time grasping that concept.  I know I did when I was saved young, so that is why I just loved this visual for them so that they can see (not that they have magical powers, but they are equipped with all the power of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit).  Well, when Elsa was born her gift was to freeze things.  She didn't know what to do with that gift and what its purpose actually was.  Her parents didn't like this "gift" in her and told her to conceal it, don't feel it.  They hid her from everyone so that no one would know what she was capable of.  Sounds a lot like how Satan tries to blur our vision of what the Holy Spirit in us can do!  You see, Elsa's power would get out of control when she felt things...... like fear.  When Satan can keep us in a state of fear, he can control us into a pauper mentality that we don't deserve the gift of the Holy Spirit.  As soon as we become a child of God, attacks from Satan are going to try to keep us in a sedated state because he knows what a soldier for Christ is capable of once they listen and obey the Holy Spirit. 
Next is her sister Anna.  Her character reminded me of Jesus.  I know that is a little hefty title, but let me explain.  She loved her sister immensely.  When her parents cut Elsa off to the world, they cut Anna out too.  But that didn't stop her from trying.  A lot of times new believers (like Elsa) get saved, don't know what to do, and end up shutting Jesus out of their lives.  But Jesus keeps knocking.  He desperately wants a relationship with all His children.  Here is a song from the movie that just shows how hard Anna tries to have a relationship with her sister. 
Can't you just see the heartache in Anna.  God has that heartache too when we shut Him out.  When we don't want to have a relationship and don't want to learn about the gift He has given us!  Anna at the end *spoiler alert* selflessly dies for her sister.  It is a reminder how Christ died for us.  No matter how we (like Elsa) run, He is there.  He is there to unconditionally love us.  To show His love no matter what!  And at that moment, Elsa realizes what love really is and how sad she is for pushing her sister away.  She then comes back alive and Elsa then fully understands her gift.  It is just like us.  When we fully understand what Jesus did for us and the gift He has imparted to us, we can then use that Gift for His glory in the right way.  This is the "princess" story that I wanted my daughters to hear.  That they have been given a gift.  They are in a growing stage right now.  They are understanding and learning.  Satan will creep fear in.  Satan will try to attack - which this dude totally made me think of how attacks feel in our lives: 
But when we learn to "let it go" and let true love (God's love) melt a frozen heart, then we can be used in the Kingdom of God to be a witness to His miracles, signs and wonders!!!  I don't want my daughters to be frozen Christians.  I want them to be Princesses in God's Kingdom that can be used to do great and mighty things for His glory.  I don't want them to conform to this world.  I want them to be empowered with the message of letting go of Satan's grips and grabbing tightly onto the freedom of their Father! 
 Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for these 2 precious girls that You gave to us.  Thank You for their salvation and their sweet hearts.  Thank You for giving us the task of raising them.  Lord, we want Your direction to guide them so continue showing us through Your Word where we should go.  We ask that You raise them up and use them for Your glory.  Protect them and equip them to be ready for battle for Your Kingdom.  Lord, give them boldness and courage.  Remove satan's attempts to use fear as a foothold in their lives.  Give them confidence in their identity so that they won't falter.  Thank You Lord for them and the joy that they bring to our lives.  Thank You Lord for us being able to learn together.  Lord, You are our Righteous King and worthy of our praise.  You are our shepherd and mighty Father.  Thank You for saving us and taking us into Your royal family.  Thank You for Your Son and the gift of Your Holy Spirit.  Amen.
Isaiah 61:10-11 I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


We have to check to see if your child has a brain tumor are words you really don't ever want to hear from your pediatrician!!!  So here is the story of what happened the day we started school:  That day (Wednesday, August 14th) Finley dropped the camera and then dropped another one and then kept looking at me like she figured out how to roll her eyes in.  The next day, she would look at me and then her eye would look like it was sticking for a little bit in the inward position, like this...........
 Then the next day, she woke up and her eyes were completely crossed and I knew something was not right.  So I called her Dr. and brought her in that morning.  I told the Dr. of the progression from 2 days prior and she just quickly said she needed to make some emergent phone calls and ran out the door.  She finally came back in the room with 2 prognosis'.  "I need you to take her over to the hospital for a CT scan of her head.  There could be a brain tumor.  The eyes are the first sign because when a tumor gets big enough, it sits on the eye nerve and that makes the eyes go bad.  But... it could also be just a very rapidly growing lazy eye.  I called the eye Dr. and he said that it is possible for an eye to go that quickly."  I confidently looked at her and told her it was definitely the latter option, but we would go to the hospital just to appease her :)  Finley and tumor just didn't mix with me!!!!  So we had to wait a little bit (because she ate lunch right before we got there) and we went and met Matt at work so he and I could eat together. 
I have never in my life felt such a weird peace about something serious.  Finley and I praised and worshiped for those few hours.  I sent out a text to my prayer warrior sisters.  And we prayed!  Oh how I prayed in those few hours!  I laid my baby at the feet of Jesus.  Before we even left that morning to go to the Dr., Finley and I sat and prayed over her eyes.  We knew that God would protect her!  We anointed her eyes with oil and prayed for a healing (little did we know that healing would be for no brain tumor!)  Isn't it so amazing how we can bring our prayers to The Lord and He hears our cries!!!  So needless to say, I knew that God is her healer and that confidence left me with nothing but praise.  We did the CT scan and it had to be with contrast.  They put an IV in Finley's arm, which she didn't even squirm for!!  My child that will cry and  howl over every little thing, but barely flinched when getting an IV!  (Now I know she really had a high pain tolerance :)  They sent her through the big donut thing to scan her brain and she looked nervous, but she was brave. 
 After it was over, they gave her a bear (which she named Braveheart Bear) and a roll of purple tape (which looks blue in the picture) and we waited.  She was really ready to go at this point, but was very patient and I enjoyed hanging out with my girl.  After a little bit, they told me I had a phone call!  It was the pediatrician with the great news:  NO TUMOR but we had to go to the eye Dr. Monday morning!  I wanted to jump and dance, but I contained myself and we praised and worshiped in the car!   
 We made a quick stop at Target because I knew how to fix a lazy eye..... you patch the good one.  So my home remedy was a pirate patch. 
 Monday morning, we got to the eye Dr. for an all day event!!!  (literally 1-8 pm)  They checked her vision and she really couldn't see anything!!!  She stopped using her bad eye on Sunday.  She would look at things with only one eye.  It was so crazy how fast all this happened and how her vision was really getting bad.  Come to find out, she is far sighted!  Her prognosis..... to wear an eye patch for 4 hours a day and she needed GLASSES!!! 
 Of course only purple would work for our princess!  So the most girly girl got her a new accessory.  We are kind of biased, but her glasses look so incredibly cute!  She looks so different now without them!!  She does really well with them and her eyes straightened right up as soon as the glasses went on her face! 
 Thank You Lord for glasses!!!
 The next day, she had to go to the dentist for the first time!  This poor girl went through the ringer all in a week!  She was nervous and quiet for once!  But she made it through and did great!
 Then dance class started again.  So was so excited to show off the new specs!
She loves her glasses and is happy she can read her Bible!!!  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

1st Day of School 2013

 Are you ready for an education???  Channing Hope is ready to teach!
 We started school in mid August and of course I like to play up the first day a lot.  Makes the school year exciting when they get a special day of fun!  They had their lunches packed and they were waiting on the "school bus."  3rd, 1st, and preschool here they come!
 The bus was a little late due to some technical difficulties.  We were ready to start school, when I gathered the video and regular cameras to document the day.  The video camera had no charge, so we had to plug it in and wait until I could semi use it.  Then Finley grabbed the camera and dropped it and broke the hinge off of the camera and then we couldn't keep the batteries in.  We were in the process of taping the camera together when the girl ran into the kitchen, got another old camera and dropped that one!!!  We were laughing hysterically and couldn't get the day going in a very timely manner.  Good thing they don't go to regular school, because we would have missed everything!!  And the whole dropping of the camera will be explained in the next post on why the child's hand/eye coordination was completely off!
 The bus finally came
 Bus Driver Bob took the kids around the neighborhood and dropped them off at school!!
 Tiny Tot was not pleased that she was left behind!!
 I then quickly went from Mom to Mrs. Rifflet and my teacher assistant was by my side!
 They took pics outside of school :) 
3rd Grade
 The head honchos of Amazing Grace Academy
 The lonestar 1st grader
 He is so cute with no bottom teeth
 Preschool superstar
 The other result of the camera drop.......sometimes you just get fuzzy pictures now!!!  I just thought this was funny because we could not get our act together with the technology this day.
 Chloe and her beloved school cone (schultete).  This German tradition is my kids absolute favorite part of the new school year!!  They ask about these all summer!!  
 Channing was so excited to get a spot in the school room.  She never is allowed in there except with me and now she has her own space to work with the big kids!  We shall see how this works out!
 Carly and Mrs. Rifflet
 Chloe and Mrs. Rifflet
 Harper and Mrs. Rifflet
 Finley and Mrs. Rifflet
Mrs. Rifflet with the room Dad........oooh la la!!!!!!

Hi.....It's me!!

Yup.....It has been a long time since I have posted.....I am sorry.  I have no excuse other than pure craziness in our life!  But I will try to catch you all up to speed on what has happened since Africa!  Harper turned 6 while I was gone, so luckily I had his birthday party all planned out and ready to go for 2 days after I got back.  Despite being very tired from jet lag, it worked out great!
 My baby boy turned 6 and had a lego party!
 Lots of building took place and lots of fun contests!  
 He is super cute!
I don't know who was more excited to tear into a new lego....Harper or Uncle Kris!  It was a quick party but Harper had lots of fun and that is all that matters!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Unpacking.....My head and heart

How do I summarize a trip that I have been preparing for over a year and a half?!  I am really not going to do this any justice, but I decided that in all fairness, I should let you in on this mission trip to Kenya, Africa just a little bit!  
 Saying goodbye to my babies was hard, but we were all still excited.  Yes, I teared up, but I was not going to let my emotions take over and bring me down.  So here are my big 3 with their passports in hand, dropping me off at the airport.  The journey began on June 21st in Charlotte airport.  They were excited to go to the look out for a picnic lunch and watch my plane go up in the sky!  When they did get home though, Harper disappeared on Matt and he finally found him under my bed crying because he missed me.  :(  And then of course that night Carly woke up sick and puking for 2 days, so Matt was getting attacked immediately after I left! 
 We landed in Newark, NJ and I got to see the Statue of Liberty......that is it in the middle of the picture.  Come on can see is on that little island in the middle of the water...there, now you see it.  Lady Liberty.  I was excited about it since I have lived 15 years in NY and never saw it!!  So we land here in Newark and are ready to load our big airbus to take us to Zurich, Switzerland.  Then there goes the announcement.  The plane is delayed, all those planning on heading to Nairobi cannot get on this plane, but must go to customer service and figure out where you are going!  So we head over there and all we hear is that we will be stuck for 24 hours in Newark!  Well, we left our leaders, headed to a spot around the corner and we prayed.  Oh did we pray to get on that plane.  Then we get yelled at, "Run!!!  Get your stuff and run!!"  We stand up and bolt across the airport in pure Home Alone style and get on our plane!  Yahoo.....we were on.  We had no clue what was in store for us, but we were going across the Atlantic and just all that more closer to Africa!  
 The food was very good on all the planes too.  I enjoyed having my food already in portions and delivered right to my seat.  No decisions on what I wanted, except for beef or fish and that was a no brainer!  I enjoyed my food and took a little cat nap.  We had our own individual TVs so that kept me entertained.  
 And then we land in Zurich, Switzerland!  It was very pretty there and all the people from Zurich are very pretty and well put together.  So now that we land, we are told we have to go figure out how we are going to get to Nairobi, Kenya.  There were 10 people from Sardis who went so, Kim Hucks was the one in charge of us.  She deserves an award for getting us on all these planes!!  So the rest of us sat and waited while she fan-angled with the airport people.  Verdict is.....instead of going straight to Nairobi as planned, we get to go to Istanbul, Turkey and then to Kilimanjaro, Tansania then to Nairobi and then to Kisumu.  Wow....4 flights just turned to 6!  
So we get our $15 voucher for food for inconvenience and go eat some dinner before our next flight.  Well, little did we know, that two of our tickets were stand by tickets.  David (who has been to Africa before) and Olivia (who is 17) could not board!!  We tried to devise plans on how we could not get on the plane so that at least Olivia could!  Kim Hucks was in tears because she had promised her parents that she would be with Olivia the entire time, so she wasn't getting on that plane.  They told us we HAD to get on the plane so we all boarded.....I walked backwards and prayed, because I knew that God would not let this happen.  Olivia could not be left in Turkey!  Sure enough, Kim walked on that plane and Olivia followed behind!!  We did have to leave David in Istanbul, but we knew he could handle it.  He actually never made it to Kisumu until Monday....He missed all of Sunday's activities and Mondays!!!
 When we were getting ready to load our plane to Istanbul, Amber and I were checking seats and I was sitting next to her Dad and she was alone.  She didn't like that, so I offered to switch seats with her.  We get on the Istanbul......and I see my new seat - oh yes, I am surrounded by nothing but Arab looking people!  I fell asleep for just a little bit, ate lunch, then asked the two guys next to me where they were going.  Oh, they were on their way to Mecca for their pilgrimage!!  Well, right then and there, I knew this was one of God's divine appointments for this journey we were on.  I got to talk with these two Muslims for the entire plane ride - it was something like 4 hours - about the Bible and Jesus and they told me all about their beliefs.  It was so cool to be able to overcome that fear of them and understand what they believe in and why.  They were very happy at the end of the flight to know about Christianity as well and we really enjoyed each other's company.  Now I wish that they would have gone straight to the ticket counter and went back home because they wanted to convert, but I was just there to plant a seed and now I get to pray for them and their journey and pray that something I had said became sticky for them!  So here is a picture (above) of either the Black Sea or part of the Mediterranean Sea.  I had no clue where I was!
 And here we were snacking in Istanbul!!!  I can't believe we were there!
 So then we head to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.  Here is a picture after we landed and had time to recover from what went down!  We got off the plane and had to get all our luggage off of the little belt thing.  There were 10 on our team - so 20 bags and 7 on the other team - and their 14 bags!  So here we stand with 34 bags and dude from customs comes over and says he needs to look in our bags.  He asked if we had medical and we said no, just bandaids.  Well, of course the first trunk he opens has bandaids!  He looked and looked and then said he needed to take all that was in the trunk.  Then he said we needed to open all the bags.  We had these tote things that were zip tied closed and if we took those off we had no way of closing them again.  We only had 2 extra ties.  We cracked it and pulled out a little girl dress.  He looked that dress over and you could tell he was really loving that dress.  He looked at us and said, "I have to seize it all.  Everything you have!"  What?!!!  We were floored.  We told him we needed it all.  We begged.  We pleaded.  We told him we were in transit and weren't staying in Tanzania and we were going to Kenya.  He wasn't having it at all!  I was standing next to another airport guy and I looked at him and asked him to help us.  He told me that dude was on a power trip and there was no point talking to him.  He wouldn't give in.  We got another airport lady.  She tried to talk to him.  He got mad.  He was rock solid on his decision of seizing all our luggage.  Well, he walked away for a minute and we all gathered up, held hands, and prayed around every piece of that luggage.  After a few minutes, dude comes back.  He was completely changed.  He was so nice.  He said, "Oh, your in transit, have a good trip.  Take it all with you."  Thank you Lord for intervening!!  Man, that was crazy!!  We ran out of there as quick as we could and tried not to make eye contact with anyone else :)  So, we are now early into Sunday morning- like 3 am.  
He we go loading up and heading to Kenya!!  This was the only prop plane we rode on the entire trip.  I wasn't loving it!  It was so dark and then there were thick clouds.  So thick you could barely see the end of the wings.  It was bumpy and cloudy and gray.  
All then all of the sudden, we popped out of the clouds.  Those thick clouds that reminded me of all the trouble we had gone through the past 3 days trying to get to Kenya.  Such trouble that we couldn't see where we were going or why, but then I was reminded of Ephesians 3:17b-18 And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ! We did this verse last year at VBS and one of the sites was how high (it was Mt. Everest, but Mt. Kilimanjaro will do when you are deliriously tired and you are thinking you are seeing the highest mountain in the world).  But the point was, how high is the love of Christ!!  He loves us!  We may go through that thick, dark, gray points of our life, but keep looking up and you will see God and all his glory!  It was magnificent up there.  You can see how thick those clouds were.  It looked like a blanket and then that mountain peak!
And then the most glorious sunrise ever!  Yes, I was crying like crazy as I was just renewed and reminded of the wonderful love of Christ!  I was on this journey for Him and He was there to remind me of why!!
So we made it to Nairobi.  Long enough to take this picture, find my suitcase that was on the wrong belt and run to the other plane that they were holding for us!  Well, these airports in Africa are a little different.  I have no clue where I was, but I was following some lady and we were running.  We ran through a parking lot and then through security again - and we each had our 2 pieces of luggage to get all checked in....again!  
At his point our trip coordinator, Phil, was there and we felt a big relief that we were loading our last plane!!  This was just a quick flight and in just an hour, we would finally be in Kisumu, our destination.  Oh, and then as soon as the plane is loaded...the plane that was being held for us....we couldn't leave, because the plane next to us had a fuel leak and there was fuel all over the ground so we had to wait for that to get cleaned up. 
Oh what a glorious sight!!!  We made it!!  We finally got there sometime on Sunday morning - I think around 10.  We were originally supposed to spend the night in Nairobi and then wake up early in the morning and fly here, but we lost so much time, we just came straight here with no bed time for 3 days!

We then drove to our hotel, dropped our stuff off in the office and jumped back in the cars.  We didn't even have a chance to go potty - big mistake not going before we left, because I got to experience a choo first thing!  Gotta love a bathroom that is literally just a hole in the ground!  We went to church at a finished church and it was an amazing service.  They smiled so much at us.  We were seated on the "stage" - raised up dirt - and were facing all of them.  Well, it got warm in there and we hadn't slept in 3 days.  We were all falling asleep!  We couldn't help it.  We looked hilarious.  No matter how much we tried, we could not stay awake!  Phil did tell them all about why we were like that and they didn't seem to mind at all!  But experiencing church in Africa was the most amazing experience.  This little boy above reminded me of Harper.  He carried this baby around the entire time.  It is so cool to see how they take care of each other.  
We stood outside and chatted with the people from the church and the orphans and widows that were there.  
They all loved getting their picture made and then seeing themselves in our screens!
Once the church is established, CMN (church missions network that we traveled with) sets up a K4K feeding program.  They feed the orphans and widows.  They usually do this 3 times a week, so they had one for us to see.  CMN is really neat how it works.  First they take a guy that they are going to pastor train.  He goes off and learns how to be a pastor for two years.  After that, they send in a medical team to the area.  This medical team sees thousands of people and shares the gospel with them after they get treated.  Then the pastor comes to the area and establishes the church.  They have to have a church established for at least 6 months so that they know they have people that will come once the building is there.  And then, teams come and build the church (in one day) and go to the schools and do VBS with the kids.  So we were on the part of church building and going to the schools in this process.  So that is why we went to church the first day, so that we could see the final product of the entire process.  And then they set up the K4K program at the church.  It is such a cool organization!

You know that without have a child to touch for three days, I had to find one I could love on!!
This was the church, he could rock it out!
After church service, we went to Miracle Power.  The other team that went with us was from Tennessee, and Greg founded this ministry.  It is an organization that feeds and teaches skills to widows and orphans.  It is amazing!  The widows made us lunch...It was yummy!
I'm telling you....we fell asleep alot this day!  Josh just couldn't handle a full stomach and the beautiful weather....perfect for a nap!
We chatted with the orphans there and then we saw some street kids standing at the gate.  So we went out and talked to them.  They were just so smiley and interested in what we were doing!
I mean...they just couldn't get any cuter!
Here is the kitchen and the widows that cooked our meal.  They were so proud of their facility!
The kitchen!
I loved the older ladies.  They just looked beautiful...or as they would (took me a few days to figure out that when they were saying smart, they were meaning beautiful)
This lady had to have her picture taken with this plate of rice.  I had to take a couple for it to be perfect for her!
The orphans!  My kids had researched Miracle Power before I left and they saw all the kids that lived there.  It was so cool to take a picture with them!
This is the widows house - 2 sets of bunk beds.  4 women to a room!  And look how proud she was!!!  She sat right down so I could take a picture.  This was her home!
This is the Jumuia House that we stayed at for 2 days.  The food was awesome and we had nice warm showers there. 
The first day in the field, this was the road we had to drive on to get there!  It was a dried up river bed - bumpy is an understatement and we almost got stuck a lot!  
One of our translators, Jonathan, actually lived here.  This was his home growing up (the center one).  The boy children get a house so his house is the one on the right.  He gave his house to the orphans that his mom keeps.  She used to be a social worker, then contracted HIV, so now she keeps busy keeping orphans at her house.  Such a servants heart!  This house is right near the first church site. 
Here is a choo - the bathroom facilities, if we even had these - during the day each day.
This is the gate to the first school.  The door was so small we had to duck down so low to get into it.  
The children after crafts! 
We spent about 2 hours at each school.  We would split the kids up into 3 groups and then they would rotate between crafts (with me), Bible time, and recreation.  We had a blast with them and each school was so different with the ability levels.  We were surprised that so many of them understood English.  They all spoke Swahili and they learned English in school, so the older kids didn't even need a translator!  We made glasses, yarn bracelets, and color changing necklaces.  We were going to make butterflies, but there was one trunk that never made it and all the tools to build the churches and the coffee filters for that craft never made it (along with David and Olivia's luggage!  We all just gave them things to wear and did their laundry in the sink!)

The teacher's desk
At every school they had to wear uniforms.  They were so proud of them.  They had to be a certain color, depending on your school, and some would even go to school, change into their uniform and change back out of it before they went home.  You have to pay to go to school, so it is very important to them.  Each class room only had 1 blackboard.  We looked at their books and they have to learn a whole lot and without calculators!  They are all very neat writers!
Drinking fountain!
This is grandmother Willow (you know from Pocahontas).  We named her that, but we don't know her real name.  After the schools each day, we would walk back to the church site and wait for the guys to be done building the church.  We would sit and talk to the people around.  This woman is 95 years old and she waddled right on over and wanted to have a seat on the ground with everyone.  They did try to move her and tell her not to sit down, but she did anyway and landed in a fresh cow patty.  We felt so bad, but she sat on it the entire time and didn't notice until she got up.  She left and changed and then came back.  
We ate our lunch and then there were a bunch of kids around so I got out the trunk of crafts and made some with the kids who were just hanging around.  This day we made bookmarks and this sweet girl sat in front of me and probably made 50!  She reminded me of my Chloe!  I really enjoyed having all the time in the world to just sit and make stuff with these kids.  They weren't in school, so they probably couldn't afford it.  
This guy collected all the hole punches and stuck them all over his head.  He was covered by the end of the day!
This first church was special to us, because it was dedicated to Katherine Stilwell.  She was supposed to come with us to Africa with her husband, Ricky, and daughter, Amber, but she died suddenly 4 months ago.  Her son, Josh, went in her place and we dedicated this church to her.  It was special because we really loved Jonathan our translator and he comes here every week since it is his home town.  So we know that God has great plans for this church.  We asked if we could write scripture on the beams and he was so excited.  I wrote Habakkuk 1:5-Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed.  For I am going to do something in your day that you would not believe even if you were told.  Dana wrote Katherine's favorite verse on another beam.  Jeremiah 29:11 -  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
As soon as we were done writing the verses, this man walked right up and started reading the verses.  
Then these women were standing around so interested (I thought they were the women of the church) and I took pictures of them and was laughing with them.  
And then we had a dedication ceremony and Ricky was able to talk.  Then Jonathan started talking and the place all of the sudden got really loud and all these people ran up to the front and fell down on their knees.  They were all praying to receive Christ!  These are the same ones in the previous pictures that were so curious to what we were doing.  We went up and laid hands on them and prayed over them.  It was amazing.  The pastor of that church then came up and we anointed him and prayed over him and then we prayer walked the church and anointed that building!  This church is going to be GREAT!  I know God has amazing things in store for them!

Here are the Stilwells after the dedication to their mom and wife!  So beautiful!
We then realized that we had to hurry up and leave because we got there in a dry creek bed and it was about to rain!  So we left and got home when it was dark....which is a big no, no!  Phil does not like anyone out after dark, but it was an amazing experience and we didn't care!
This is day #2's school.  This was the last day of public school before the teacher's went on strike.  So our original schools changed but we were still able to go to schools everyday and it was great.  These kids were so cute when we got there.  They just started bringing out their school desks into the courtyard.  They would pick it up and just move it!  So orderly!
The preschoolers were just so cute!  They had little plastic chairs!

Our church gave money for us to buy puppets and hoola hoops and parachutes.  The teachers absolutely loved the puppets.  They would laugh and all would want to take turns with them.  I know they will love them!
We then headed back to where the church was being built and here are the women of this village brining in firewood and food to feed the guys.  They brought us a case of cokes and plastic chairs to sit on.  They treated us like royalty.  
We had a bunch of kids gather around us, so I got the handy dandy trunk out again and came up with a craft for these guys.  We made lots of necklaces and they loved that they could make as many as they wanted.  They would sing us songs and then they wanted to hear us sing.  It was so fun to just worship with them and sing praises!  They were so special!
This girl sat next to me and all of the sudden belted out this amazing song when I asked her to sing for me.  She was absolutely beautiful.  I loved it.  She was special to me!

The women stove needed!  We actually didn't get to see the finished product of this church.  It took too long for them to build, so we didn't have a ceremony :(  They dug the holes with bowls so maybe that is why it took so long!
For the third day in the field we traveled up the mountains to Sotik.  These are all tea plants.  They were everywhere.  These people just picked and picked the tea.  They export them for Lipton!
This was the first school we went to this day.  It was a small one but it was nice to do all the rotations together so we could see all the activities everyone else was doing.  
This school had the most posters!
Aren't they just so cute with their glasses!

This is one of the teachers.  She just loved to talk to us. 

When we left the kids around would just see our van and run behind us.  Laughing and Smiling.
The teacher's of the second school on this day.  There were a lot of men teachers and that surprised me. 

When we went to the church site this day, some of the women invited us into their home so they could feed us lunch.  We had the real deal beans and rice and it was really good.  
They let us sample their milk.....they put coal in it to preserve it.  I did not attempt this, but Autumn did and she said it tasted like cottage cheese!  YUCK!  The other thing on the left is Ugali.  It is a bland cornmeal like food that is popular in Kenya.  It wasn't good either.  I'll stick with the good ole beans and rice.  
Behind this church was a river.  Definitely going to be a lot of baptisms here!
The 3rd day's church ceremony!  Powerful!
This is van driver the entire week!

Last day at the schools......craft time was fun!
My interpreter, Maurice.  He was amazing!  I really enjoyed my time with him all week.  What an amazing man that God is using!
Our three interpreters.  They are all pastors.  Hannington, Maurice, and Jonathan.
This is Phil Johnsey, director of Church Missions Network (go ahead and click here and see how you can help them out and this doesn't take much to pay for a church to build!)
The children at this village were a little more skiddish at first when they saw us.  Some of them were crying, but they warmed up really quick.  
This is Carolynn.  She is an evangelist and she was so wonderful.  I love her!  She reminded me of my friend Dee at home - just filled to the max with the love of Christ.
The older women just looked so amazing!  This was the last day out in the field.  It was amazing.

The morning that we left the power was out so when we went for breakfast it was all set up with candles.  It looked like Christmas in there.  So peaceful.  
We then traveled to the Massai village where we got to see how these people lived.  It kind of reminded me of the Native Americans trying to keep their culture alive in a changing society.  These Massai warriors were crazy!
They would jump high and the higher you jump the better woman you got.  
There were a ton of flies around them because they had to keep their cattle in their barricaded  home areas so the lions wouldn't eat them.  The kids just sat around playing in cow dung practicing building houses!
We finally made it to the Fig Tree where we went on our safari of the Serengeti.  We stayed in tents and they warned us to keep them zipped so the baboons wouldn't come it and destroy it.  I never saw a baboon, but all night long I heard hippos coming up to breathe from the river behind my tent!  It was surreal being there!
Dana, Amber, Kim and I on the Safari!  This was the van we traveled in all week and the tops just came up so you can stand!

I had to take lots of pictures for my Finley...her favorite animal!
We were checking out these cheetahs when they decided to jump on another van!!  Yes, there were people inside!!  They just sat up there and laid down.  Crazy!
Sunset on the Serengeti......I mean how many people ever get to experience something like this!  I was more than blessed!!!
 Inside the tent!!  The back was actually a building that had a bathroom in it.  We had 2 people per room.
 Giraffe crossing in the morning on the way to the airport!!
 Zebras....we saw lots of them!
 Elephants!  We saw several this morning.  They even trumpeted at us because we were too close!
 Water buffalo!  We left the amazing Massai Mara Reserve and headed to the airport.  It took several hours to get back to Nairobi.  We went to a mall and had about 45 minutes to shop and eat lunch and then we went to a market for about 30 minutes.  It was really rushed.  We then went to a hotel and repacked all our stuff and took showers before our journey home. 
 Ready to start the airplane journey home!
 Our plane didn't leave until 11:30 at night - we were getting goofy!
We left Nairobi and went straight to Zurich this time.  Phil told us to sleep on the second plane so that our body clocks would get semi back on schedule.  When we landed we lost Autumn in the airport.....we found her alright!!  Getting a massage!
 We took our Ambiens and got ready for a nice long flight home....sleeping!!  We had an Ambien party every night.  Even with an Ambien I still woke up every morning between 3:30 and 4:30!  I was too excited to sleep.  So it was a necessary thing, except they made me so silly!!  So every night we laughed for hours and had a great time......with everyone else of course!
 So then we get to Newark and we have issues.....again.  This time the weather.  But we were supposed to be home at 5:00pm and didn't get in until 11:00 pm.  Here we are waiting in an awful line only to be told to go find tickets else where!!  I almost got my camera confiscated here......this is not my favorite airport! 
Closest I have ever been to the Statue of Liberty!
Well, that is the briefest summary I could give you about a life altering experience to Kenya, Africa!  I will never forget driving down those roads and all the brown faces smiling and waving back at me.  I will never forget the sounds of them rejoicing and praising our Almighty King.  I will never forget the things that the Holy Spirit whispered to me each day.  I will never forget the amazing beauty of the land and people.  I will never forget the impact this trip made on my life.  Thank you for praying for me and my family on this trip.  We faced attacks, but we knew that God had us in his hands and had plans for us the entire way.  I am ever so thankful to have gone on this journey and can't wait to go again!