Jambo everyone!

I’m so sorry that this update is so late! Things have been crazy at home, with all high school kids on break! They are now at the age that if you keep them home, within the campus, they become very restless, which isn’t pleasant for any of us! LOL!

I thank God for our amazing social workers who arrange outings, Bible camps, community service projects, visits to the market, long walks around our neighborhood, etc. In addition, they are dealing with fourteen different high schools and one culinary school, to make sure that all 47 students have completed their homework assignments and have all their required personal items (soap, toilet tissue, shoe polish, etc.) plus whatever that particular school requires (ream paper, exact amounts of money for various fees like tutoring) and the list goes on and on! They also see that every student’s uniform is mended or replaced, including having shoes repaired or replaced! It’s a lot of work!

I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. I guess because I’m not a psychologist, which is who helped me to realize the importance of being seen individually, especially for teenagers. This is not a problem for all of our kids; there are many who seek me out for private conversations, spend a lot of time in my kitchen, etc. But, after a team of psychologists came out and, unbeknownst to the kids, evaluated them by holding group talks about holistic health, I realized that some of them were hiding within their group. This awareness helped me to understand that there has not been enough individual consequences for poor decisions and certainly not enough praise and reward for good ones. I also learned that if I want to keep this up, I need to better structure my time in the office, as it was almost impossible to get anything done while they were home! LOL!

I have mentioned to you before that come January 2024, we will have 68 kids in high school, four in trade school (here it’s called college) and one, Jessica, getting out on her own! This is not cheap, and I hope that some of you will consider sponsoring a student! It costs about $1,200, (depending on the school and grade they are in) to sponsor a high school student for one year. College (based on what Jessica’s school has cost) is anywhere from $900 to $1,500 per year, depending on whether they are boarders, which is a bit less expensive than if they are paying rent, buying groceries, and using public transportation to get to school.

Speaking of Jessica, she was just home from culinary school for a four-week attachment (we would call it an internship). All colleges, no matter the course, require a 3-month attachment before graduation. Jessica’s school breaks this into three one-month sessions. She landed an attachment at a local resort/bar/restaurant and did great! She will do this twice more before taking her final exams in December of this year! We are very proud of her growth and maturity since joining college!

I briefly mentioned high school kids going on several outings this break, but I think they enjoyed hosting Mattaw Children’s Village for a day of fun, football (soccer), basketball, dancing and a special lunch – just as much as going out! It’s amazing to watch them interact with kids who “get it.” Kids who have also been through trauma, rejection, attachment issues, lack of individual identity, etc. Some of them were actually classmates of some of our kids, neither one knowing that the other stays in a children’s home. I hope they will become good friends and support one another at school!

I think my favorite outing of the break was visiting our friends, Peter and Jennifer! They invited me, Jeff and the Form Two kids (sophomores) for a full day of fun and food at their home! (They have promised the other high school classes that they will also have a turn during upcoming breaks.)

I don’t think any speaker has impacted these kids to the degree Peter did when sharing his life story! He was raised in a children’s home in London, from the age of six months to 17 years, when he was put out on his own. He got a job, which he retired from after working there for many years, and eventually found his way to Kenya, where he married Jennifer, who is beautiful inside and out!

Many people have encouraged our kids to not think of themselves as orphans, less-thans, inferior to people raised in a traditional family, etc., and I know that the kids listened to them and hoped for the best. But this was different, it felt like they were HEARING Peter! He told them that he can look back over his life and see how God rescued him by placing him in a children’s home. It was all part of God’s plan for his life…. to get him where he is today. He encouraged them to not be ashamed of being raised in a children’s home because it is God’s plan for their lives! He told them to see In Step as a place of blessing and opportunity… a place where God himself has placed them after pulling them out of the muck and mire! Everything he said to them was exactly what they needed to hear… and they needed to hear it from someone who had been in their shoes!

While we were at Peter and Jennifer’s house, Jeff got a call from Children’s Services. Could we come rescue a two-day-old baby who had been abandoned on the side of the road? Jeff left and returned with a beautiful baby boy! Guess what we named the baby… I’m sure you can guess… Peter! What great timing!

In closing, I would like to ask you to pray for refugees who have flooded into Kitale (our town)! Evidently, a rumor ran through refugee camps in Uganda, leading people to believe that camps in Kenya were better, so hundreds of people left the Ugandan camps, in search of greener pastures. In addition, “new” refugees who are fleeing South Sudan are starting to show up! Kitale was originally a stopover point, but the camp they were headed to filled up and stopped taking newcomers. Now the stopover point is overflowing and turning people away.

Thanks so much for all you do to help our kids! God is using you in mighty ways!

God Is Good All The Time (GIGATT),

Mama Carla

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