Greetings to you all, wherever you are! I hope you are well and experiencing God’s blessings in your lives!
Here at In Step Children’s Home and Academy, it has been a crazy busy month! There are so many exciting things happening, sometimes it’s hard to keep up!
February 12 was a great day, as we celebrated Baba Jeff’s 60th birthday! We really went all out and it was a super fun time for everyone! Our management team did a great job organizing the many details and logistics; design and distribute invitations, rent tents and chairs, hire a Master of Ceremonies and a Disc Jockey, organize and assist the kids in making decorations, create a special menu and a corresponding shopping list, etc.! It was a big deal!
Several of Jeff’s friends who we have known over the years, came out to celebrate with us! They talked of how they met Jeff and what projects they had done with him. Some friends from when we first came to Kenya and stayed in a small village called Kesogon, shared stories of the humble beginnings of In Step and their amazement in what God has done over the past sixteen years!
The chief who placed Rehema, James and Jessica with us, told the story and marveled over the beautiful young people they have become! Our trusted friend who helped us with the purchase of our land, was equally astonished at the impressive home and school that has risen from the corn field that we purchased. Businessmen and retailers who see Jeff several times per week, admitted that, although they have become good friends with Jeff, they really had no idea the scope of his work! A local politician praised the work of In Step (and asked for votes from those attending LOL)! Please understand that I’m not bragging or taking any credit for what God has done! I am simply relaying the stories that were shared during the ceremony portion of the party!
People brought all sorts of gifts; food donations for the kids, African shirts and shukas (blankets worn like a shawl), shirts and shorts of the style Jeff so famously wears, a rooster and even a walking stick from the chief, who also demonstrated how to use it to gain the respect due an old man!
Each gift was given in a very ceremonious, African fashion, including lots of dancing, whooping and hollering! I laughed and smiled so much that my face actually ached by the time it was all over!
Although sixty years isn’t considered “old” in western culture, here in Kenya where the life expectancy of men is 65 years (69 for women), a person who reaches this milestone is considered to be very blessed! They are honored and respected as a person who has wisdom and experience to share with the younger generation. And as more years are added to a person’s life, the honor and respect also increases. I think the West could learn a lot from Africa about honoring your elders!
Another super exciting thing that happened this month is that the older girls were finally able to move into their new house! Oh what a wait it has been! Delay after delay in the construction process has been a bit of a frustration, but it has finally happened!
Building this house is step one of our plan to decongest the living areas for our kids. As they get older, they need to be able to spread out a bit and have their own space and a little bit of privacy.
We plan to build three houses for the girls and remodel the existing dorm for the boys. Girls’ house #2 is approximately seventy percent completed and will accommodate the remaining “big girls”, at which time the boys dorm remodel will take place. It is definitely a process, but a process which will solve our congested housing issues that the kids have had to live with for several years. At the end of it all, every kid will have their own locker style closet and study desk, in addition to a spacious common area with sofas and coffee tables!
I love dropping by the girls’ house! It’s always a hubbub of activity; girls cleaning, relaxing on the sofas, playing cards, reading the Bible, studying, etc. They absolutely love their space! I can’t wait until all of our kids have this!
For those of you wondering about Joanie’s cochlear implant surgery, it has been postponed until April. Evidently, the implant comes from Australia and has to be specially fitted, using measurements from various scans she has had done. So, the implant wasn’t ready in time to have the surgery in February, which was the original plan. I’ll let you know when we have an exact date!
In the meantime, Joanie and all of us at In Step, continue to learn Kenyan Sign Language. We don’t plan on stopping that program, even after Joanie can hear and speak! It’s a great skill for our kids to have and most of them really enjoy it!
Many times, Joanie has a hard time going to sleep if she’s not being held. I don’t know if it’s scary for her to close her eyes; adding darkness to the silence? But for whatever reason, when Auntie is trying to get all the kids to lie down and go to sleep, Joanie is usually making a lot of noise. Even though she can’t hear, she has figured out that she can use her voice to get people’s attention! This, of course, makes it hard for the other kids to go to sleep, so many times I take Joanie into my room with me until the other kids are asleep and Auntie can focus on helping Joanie go to sleep too.
The other night, I took her into my room and sat her on the bed with a kids show on the iPad in front of her. I stepped out for just a minute and when I came back in, there she was, wearing Jeff’s hat and eating my chips! She just cracks me up! I can’t wait to see her face when she hears sound for the first time! I wonder what her voice will sound like when she’s actually speaking words, as opposed to grunting and hollering! I pray the surgery is successful and her whole life is changed! If all goes well, she will be hearing and speaking before she starts school!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my ramblings! We appreciate each and every one of you! As always, thank-you for your prayers and other support! God is using it in mighty ways!
GIGATT (God is Good All the Time)!