Jambo everyone!

I hope you are all doing well! I know many of you are winding up your summer break and preparing for your kids to start a new school year. While here, we are just starting the last term of our school year before our “summer” break! It has been a busy few weeks as the kids have all been home for end-term break, but now that everyone is back in school, things should settle down a bit!

I am doing much better than I was when you last heard from me! Malaria has cleared and I’ve got my strength back – both emotionally and physically! Over the past few weeks while the kids have been home, I have tried to connect with each one (especially those who I know are struggling) and have been able to put in some long, challenging, sometimes extremely emotional days! Thanks for your prayers! I know that is what has sustained me!

For the first time in the twenty years that we have been in Kenya, Jeff has taken on a hobby! He bought a 1969 Morris Minor car and is starting the process of restoring it. He loves to do that sort of thing and hasn’t been able to in a very long time. As he has been stripping it down, he has come across a few surprises, like repairs to the back fender done with cardboard and tape, then covered over with fiberglass! He has had the car for about four weeks and has so far only found two Sunday afternoons to work on it, but he’s excited and I love seeing him having something fun to do!

Baby Peter has a new family! A woman who we have known for more than 15 years has fostered him! She is a wonderful mother and faithful follower of Christ and I know that Peter will be so blessed to join her family! When our social worker did a follow-up home visit, we were all shocked to learn that he’s already sitting up! I’m so happy for him!

Joel got a new wheelchair! Thanks so much to Living With Hope and Wheels for Kenya for following up with our kids to make sure that their chairs are not in disrepair and are still fitting them! Joel, especially, has been a challenge to keep in a good chair. He just keeps growing taller and taller and getting stronger and stronger! When his feet started dragging the floor, we purchased him a new chair from a supplier in Nairobi. Within the first few weeks, he had broken several parts of the chair (back, head, feet) by stiffening his body and pushing against the supports! We have fought with that chair for months, constantly repairing and replacing parts and still not able to come up with a working solution for the head and feet rests! Joel seemed to get a kick out of our frustration! His new chair is much sturdier! He sits up so straight and, no matter how he tries, cannot get it to break! LOL!

A wonderful thing is happening on campus! A house… an actual house… a real house… is being constructed where Jeff and I will live very soon! I’m not sure that I can accurately express our living situation over the past twenty years! I don’t want to come across as if I am complaining or have been disappointed, because that just isn’t the case! Everything happens in God’s perfect timing!

When we came to Kenya in 2003, we lived in a mud hut with a grass roof. It was a very modern mud hut, as it had an electric light bulb and outlet! There was space for a bed, dresser and a stack of totes, which held all of our earthly belongings. Because of the grass roof, we had many visits from rats, ants and other critters. It was very different from what we were used to, but because we knew without a doubt that this was where God had called us, we just made it work.

We stayed in this hut until 2005, when we were able to build a “permanent house”. This house was a three-bedroom brick (thus being considered permanent) house, with a ceiling light and an electrical outlet in the living room (no electricity in the rest of the house), no running water or proper kitchen, and a long drop outhouse toilet. This is where the children’s home started.

In July of 2006, Rehema… quickly followed by Jessica and James, joined our family. There was also a young boy named Bafo who was already (unofficially) living with us. This was the time when we became convinced that God had brought us to Kenya to rescue abandoned babies.

In mid-2007, God worked a great miracle and provided us with land to build the children’s home. We began construction and looked forward to the day when we would occupy our new home. This finally happened in May of 2008, at which time we moved ourselves, thirty-four kids and five staff members to our present location in Sibanga, Cherangani, Kenya.

From that point on, there was no looking back! The home grew! Kids continued to be rescued! In Step Academy Primary School was started! It became necessary to operate a farm and dairy, to provide for our kids! Stepping Stones Center was established to care for our kids with special needs, more housing was necessary as our kids got older, our septic system could no longer keep up so a sewer treatment plant had to be built! God continued to provide as we continued to do all we could to be faithful to our calling and exercise good stewardship of the resources He had provided.

Throughout this time and up to the present, Jeff and I have lived in a 9’ X 27’ bedroom with an attached bathroom, in the baby wing of the children’s home. Don’t get me wrong! There are many reasons why this has been necessary and beneficial! For instance, up until the last few years, Jeff and I have been the only “managers” onsite. This has required the two of us to be on duty 24/7, ready for whatever curveball was thrown to us. This is still true during evenings and nights, but our CCTV camera system is very helpful in keeping us in tune with what’s going on.

Over all these years, we have been absolutely fine living in our bedroom! Mostly, we haven’t even given it a thought, as we have just been trying to keep up with what God is doing with In Step Foundation! Honestly, if it was God’s plan, we would just continue living out our years the same as we have been, in our private space in the baby wing of the children’s home.

But God had other plans! Late last year groundbreaking began for the construction of a proper house, where Jeff and I will live! However, with the extreme inflation in Kenya, it was beginning to look like construction would need to be paused. We have always intended that the donations for this house were separate so that no funds were ever taken from our general operating budget to care for the children. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, our former church, Finley Community Church, sold some property. They contacted Rehema for Kids asking if they could bless us with a special gift and would $32,000 be enough to finish the house! It was more than enough!!

I am so thrilled with the progress of the construction, as well as the dream of having our own space where we can invite people over, hang out in our pajamas, have private conversations, etc. The idea that our “senior years” will be a little more normal is so refreshing and inspiring! And all the while, we will still be onsite, keeping our finger on the pulse of everything that is going on… making sure that the future of In Step Foundation and the kids it is serving is intact and moving forward!

Thanks so much for sticking with us! The difference you have made in the lives of more than two hundred kids cannot be measured by worldly standards! May God pour His blessings out on each and every one of you!

God Is Good All The Time (GIGATT),

Mama Carla

Posted in