Jambo everyone!

I hope you are all doing well! I arrived back in Kenya just over a week ago and am finally starting to feel back in the swing of things. I’m slowly catching up on all that was neglected while I was away; bookwork, housework, yardwork… nothing of great importance, especially in light of the blessing of being able to spend time with family and friends!

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting this month as Rehema Grace, and the children’s home itself, turns fifteen years old! Fifteen years! Where has the time gone? I think back to that day in July 2006, when our local police chief called Jeff, saying a baby girl had been born and abandoned in a maize field down the road. He was wondering if we would be willing to take care of her “temporarily.” We named her Rehema (the Swahili word for mercy) Grace, for it was surely by God’s mercy and grace that she survived, laying naked and alone in the cold mud. Sometime during the night, a dog (most likely wild) came along and left scratches on her little belly. Why didn’t the dog harm her further? I know the answer to that question! It’s because God had already planned on using this beautiful baby girl to rescue hundreds more children in the years to come!

Two days after receiving Rehema, a neighboring chief called. He wanted to know if we could help with a set of siblings, Jessica and James, who had been abandoned in his village. When he brought the kids to us, we were shocked at the horrible condition they were in! Baby James was probably only a few days away from starving to death! Jessica was two years old and still couldn’t walk or even feed herself! We had never seen anything like it and could not, at the time, imagine how many more suffering children, with equally heartbreaking stories, would join us in the years to come.

Yet here we are! When Rehema, James and Jessica came to us, we were living in a twelve-hundred square foot house with no running water and electricity in only one room! Another 34 kids joined us in that little house, during which time God provided us with a beautiful piece of property and the means to build a more suitable home for the kids!

Only one wing of the main house was (more or less) finished when we moved in. We still didn’t have running water, but we were so excited to have electricity in every room of the house! God has never stopped blessing and providing! In 2009, we finally got running water when our first borehole was drilled! What a celebration that was!

From those humble beginnings to now caring for 206 kids, operating a private elementary school, caring for more than a dozen children with various disabilities, a dairy that produces more than enough milk, a farm that gives us tons of vegetables, two boreholes providing life giving water, the list goes on and on… I can’t even tell you how it happened! One day just turned into another. As the kids grew, so did their needs. As the needs grew, so did God’s provision.

He has provided not only monetarily (which is huge) but has also been faithful to bring the right people along to do what needed to be done. Things far beyond what Jeff and I were capable of doing! Things like getting our school running properly… what a challenge that was! Like solving our septic issues by building a sewer treatment plan, which also irrigates our farm and provides water for laundry and cleaning! Like sending people to help hold down the fort so that Jeff and I could go visit our family together, instead of separately! Like giving us the perfect person to manage our Stepping Stones Center for disabled kids! Like creating a family of people overseas, who have given and loved and visited and prayed for our kids! Not to mention the awesome Kenyan staff who have, and still do, love and care for our kids in a way that we never could! God has built a beautiful team… in our case, it really does take a village! If I sat down and made a list of all the people who God has used in these kids’ lives, it would contain literally hundreds of names!

Here at In Step Children’s Home, we have a monthly birthday celebration for all the kids who have birthdays in that month. This fun time is lovingly referred to as “Happy Birthday! Last weekend during Happy Birthday, I just found myself looking around the room, seeing each kid individually and thinking about every one of their tragic beginnings. They have come so far!

Many of them are now teenagers, struggling in the same way adolescents struggle all over the world, but with the added questions: “Where did I come from?” “Why was I abandoned?” “What would my family think if they saw me now?” “What will my life be like when I leave In Step?” Their emotions are all over the place, like every teenager in the universe, and we are doing our absolute best to prepare them for the real world. Sometimes (all the time) it feels like an impossible task, but then I remember that nothing is impossible for the God who rescued all of these kids! He will never leave them nor forsake them!

As I look back, I am in awe of the greatness of God! His love for children (specifically orphans), his care and mercy for the poor and downtrodden, his undeniable presence in times of uncertainty, his comfort during loss, his wisdom when we have no idea what we are doing, his marvelous provision beyond our wildest imagination… all of these things leave my heart absolutely overwhelmed with gratitude and wonder!

Okay. Enough of my rambling! I know this has been a different sort of update. Less pictures. No recent stories. Just fifteen years of Wow! God really is good all the time!
GIGATT (God is Good All the Time)!
Mama Carla

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