Jambo everyone!

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and update you guys! It’s crazy how time flies and life’s busyness takes over! Today, I decided to try to beat the system! Before going to bed last night, I brought my laptop and tea kettle into my room so that I could hide out today and finally get you guys updated.

It’s working pretty well! I’ve been available by phone so have been able to communicate with management and pay a few bills (Mpesa mobile money is amazing!)… oh and I balanced the petty cash box and checked in on the university students. But even with that, no one has seen my face so far today! I’m going to get you guys filled in on what’s been happening around here if it takes me all day! LOL!

I always like to share “firsts” with all of you. Well, we have had yet another “first!” We have sent our first group off to college! Let me back up and try to tell the whole story.

Last year, we had four kids graduate high school. They all did well and have qualified for diploma courses of their choosing. They have each chosen a different course: Benny chose ICT (information technology), Jenny – Entrepreneurship, Vero – Counseling, and Eliza – Agriculture (she may change her course after meeting with an advisor, but she had to choose something.)

In February, the Vice Chancellor (in the west, we would say President) of Daystar University (a respected Christian university) and a member of the RFK board had a “chance” meeting (divine appointment) at the airport in Paris! One thing led to another and before we knew it, a few RFK board members and myself were on our way to visit the Daystar campus!

It was such a wonderful day! The staff at Daystar were so welcoming! They showed us around the campus and answered all of our questions, which we had many because, as I mentioned, this is a first for us!

A few weeks later, the four graduates, Social Worker Hilda and myself, went to Nairobi for a kind of high school graduation trip, as well as a chance for the students to visit Daystar. We went on safari at Nairobi National Park (not as majestic as Maasai Mara or Amboseli, but pretty cool, nonetheless).

We saw a lot of animals, including lions which was what the kids were hoping to see the most. It’s so surreal to be seeing wildlife with the Nairobi skyline in the background! Nairobi National Park is the only national park within city limits in the world and it is definitely a cool experience.

We also visited the elephant orphanage and giraffe center, ate in restaurants, visited a shopping mall, stayed in a guesthouse, and did a few other things (like flying on an airplane) that our kids had never experienced! It was really a special time and gave me a chance to talk to them about their upcoming adventure of transitioning out of In Step and into their future of living independently.

This is not an easy subject for our kids! All of them have abandonment issues and even talking about being on their own can trigger a panic response. I am learning to be more sensitive to this, as well as other triggers connected to past traumas, but it is definitely not easy for them.

When we got back home, each of them applied to Daystar University for the May semester. They were all accepted so we started the process of trying to prepare them for what was ahead.

By good luck, or divine appointment, we had visitors here for most of April and May! Dean and Tammie Myslivecek of New York, are educators who really know their way around the whole college system. They were such a huge help in preparing our students to succeed in this next chapter of their lives! They even helped them get their new laptops and phones up and running, teaching them how to use certain apps, how to use email, how to avoid scams and hackers, etc. What a Godsend they were!

All four of them are now settled into college campus life! Two of them in particular have struggled a bit with homesickness and one even had a few anxiety episodes which resulted in fainting during their initial travel to Nairobi. But they are doing it! They are attending classes, making friends and really starting to find their way! It’s fun to become their Facebook friend and watch from afar. I know they will make it! They have worked hard and trusted God to break the chains of dysfunction and poverty that they came from. I know they will be okay!

Besides helping the college kids, Dean and Tammie really poured themselves into training our In Step Academy teachers! They taught them computer skills, especially in how to save time and effort in lesson planning. They reviewed the ARES system and demonstrated ways to better implement it in their day-to-day lessons. They showed them how to use the “voice to text” feature, which was especially useful, as our teachers have very limited typing skills. I’m super excited to see the fruits of Dean and Tammie’s commitment to empowering our teachers in the area of digital learning!

In addition to working with our teachers, Dean and Tammie also taught our high school kids about time management, study skills, setting goals, etc. They totally made themselves available to anyone who wanted extra tutoring or post-high school education advice. It worked out great that their visit coincided with Kenyan schools’ end-term break! What a blessing they were to our high-schoolers!

Do you remember me telling you about Baby Levy? A little over a year ago, we were asked to rescue him because his mother was suffering with heart problems and was unable to care for, or even provide for him. He was horribly malnourished, as was his mom who desperately needed medical care because of a serious heart condition. We agreed that if and when the time came that his mother could care for him, they would be reunited. That time has come! Over the past year, both of their lives have been saved! Mama Levy has received the necessary medical treatment and is now able to care for her son once again! She still has to be careful not to overexert herself, but she is now able to do day-to-day chores like washing and cooking. She lives with her mom, who will also help with Levy’s care. Of course, we will be visiting and following up to make sure they are doing alright, but we are so happy for them!

It’s avocado season and boy do our kids love avocados! Many of our neighbors have avocado trees, as do we. Avocados are easy to grow and produce fruit after only four or five years of being planted. The trees require little to no attention, unlike most fruit trees. Because of this, there are avocados a plenty for much of the year!

Unlike our family, most families have no way to utilize their entire harvest. I mean, a person can only eat so many avocados in a day! Selling them in the market is next to impossible, as most of their prospective customers have their own trees at home. Much to the delight of our neighbors, In Step is a faithful customer! LOL!

We put word out around the village that if the avocados are good quality, ripe and priced right, we will buy them every time! It’s a win – win! They make a little money and our kids get lots of extra nutrition for very little cost. We even have one neighbor who has a kid attending In Step Academy, who has paid school fees with avocados!

I have a small avocado tree just outside of our bedroom. This particular tree was harvested several weeks ago, but some of the fruit was too high up to get to. Every morning I go out and pick up one or two avocados from the ground under the tree… that is, if I can beat Hemi to them! That dog has such a fun time “hunting” avocados….but he will hand them over if I ask him to. LOL!

The kids especially enjoy mixing avocado into their githeri (maize and beans), which surprisingly is pretty good! They also like spreading avocado on their bread for breakfast or stashing it in their pocket for an after-school snack! Yummy!

Well, thanks again for listening to my ramblings! So much goes on here every single day that I couldn’t possibly give a complete update, but thanks for letting me share some of the highlights with you!

As always, we appreciate each and every one of you! God is using you in amazing ways to give God’s children a hope for a future! Words cannot express our gratitude!

God Is Good All The Time (GIGATT),

Mama Carla

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