Jambo everyone!
Wow! November! It’s weird how fast this year has flown by, despite its challenges! It has been a year none of us will ever forget and it’s not over yet!

A few days from the time of this writing, I will be in Washington State! I got up Monday morning, inspired to start making my lists! (Yes, I am an avid list maker, especially when it comes to travel!) I need a list of: 1. Everything I need to get done before I leave. 2. What to pack. 3. Start my list of what to bring back with me. 4. A list of local people I need to inform that I will be gone. I’ll probably think of a few more lists I need to start! LOL!

It’s always such a bittersweet thing to leave Kenya and be in America with my family! Those of you whose hearts are in two different places, understand what I mean. I absolutely can’t wait to hug my kids, grandkids, parents, sisters, friends, etc. My mind is full of thoughts about reading books with the smallest grandkids and having (almost) adult conversations with the oldest grands. Cards and coffee, as we call it, with my daughter. Long, deep conversations with my son. Walks in sunny Arizona with my folks. Laugh until you want to pee your pants time with my besties. Hang out time with my sisters. Meetings with supporters, many of whom are more like family. Driving on roads that have lines painted on them and properly functioning stop lights. Grocery stores that you can count on having what you’re hoping to buy. Walking around the house in my pajamas. Using an automatic washing machine and dryer. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point!

At the same time as all of the above is happening in America, a lot will happen here in Kenya that I will miss. Babies will grow. Crops will be harvested. There’s a possibility of new kids joining us. There’s a possibility of babies being fostered. Thursday ladies lunch will continue on without me. Rotary Club meetings and service projects will continue on without me. The famous In Step Christmas feast and dance party will take place on Christmas Day! Like I said before, every trip to the US and every trip back to Kenya is bittersweet.

A sweet friend made me a desk ornament that says it best: You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place!

Speaking of being at home… Wherever I am at the time, I tend to refer to the other place as “home.” So, when I’m in America, I talk about going “home” to Kenya. When I’m in Kenya, I talk about going “home” to America. I’m not sure if that means I’m always at home, or if it means I’m never at home! LOL!

I hope to see many of you while I’m in the US! For my Tri-City friends, we will be having an open house on Friday, November 13th, from 3:30 – 6:30pm! It will be held at the Rehema for Kids office at 1333 Columbia Park Trail. I have never been to the new office, but am told that because they are on the third floor, it is easiest to access the office by using the parking lot off Spaulding Ave. It will be open house style and I would love to see you all! To help Rehema for Kids staff can plan refreshments appropriately, you can let them know you’re coming with this link.

A big part of In Step Children’s Home that I don’t talk about often enough, is our center for children living with special needs, Stepping Stones.

Stepping Stones was started in the year 2015, after Teddy, one of our intellectually challenged boys, needed to come back home to In Step, after having been relocated to another local children’s home. Let me backup a bit.

Before we opened Stepping Stones, our special needs kids stayed in the house with all the other kids. At the time, we had four kids in wheelchairs plus three others who were severely intellectually challenged, one of which was Teddy.

Teddy likes to get a reaction from aunties by doing anything at all that will cause them to run to the rescue; dumping out the bucket of mop water, sticking his foot out to trip someone who is walking by, etc. Well, several years ago, before the SS center existed, Teddy figured out that picking babies up from the mattress on the floor got a huge reaction! He would pick up a baby and drop him/her back down on the mattress, then laugh hysterically when auntie screamed and came running! We decided that it was just too dangerous for the little ones to have Teddy around them, so we made the super emotional decision to have him transferred to another home that was known for taking care of special needs kids.

After some months had passed, I was contacted by the director of Teddy’s new home, saying that Teddy was extremely sick and was in hospital. He said the doctors wanted to run some tests and asked if we could assist with the lab fees.

I got in my car and rushed to the hospital. When I entered the ward, I didn’t even recognize Teddy! He was so skinny and weak that he couldn’t even lift his head! He was just a rack of bones, naked and wrapped in a leso (the rectangular cloth that mamas tie babies on their backs with). When he heard my voice, he smiled and my heart broke!

The doctors suspected kidney failure so ran that test, along with many others. After a few hours, we had the lab results which showed there was absolutely nothing wrong with him! Not even malaria or typhoid! Diagnosis: Final stages of malnutrition.

I immediately called one of our staff members to come stay in hospital with Teddy (it’s a requirement that every patient have a caregiver) and released the other home’s caregiver. I called the children’s office and requested that Teddy be returned to us. After explaining the situation, there was no argument. I went home and met with Jeff and the staff about how we were going to protect the babies from Teddy, once he got his strength back.

That’s when Stepping Stones was born! Missionary Beth Ann Downer jumped at the opportunity to manage the center and we immediately got to work sorting out the details!

Stepping Stones took over the former preschool classroom and the preschoolers were moved up to the school building. For some time, SS was a day program because the room didn’t have toilet facilities or enough space for beds. A fundraising campaign was kicked off and in a very short time, the money came in to add onto the existing room so that the kids could have a space dedicated solely to them and Beth could have her own apartment in the same building!

We are very proud of what God has done through the SS program! Here in Kenya, there is still quite a stigma towards special needs kids and adults. Many times, these kids are hidden from anyone outside their immediate family, as they don’t want people to think that their family has been cursed. 

When there is not enough food to go around, the least productive person in the family, often times goes without. It is not uncommon for these kids to die of starvation and neglect. It is an honor to be able to serve God by serving the least of these! Plus, we feel that this program is making a difference in abolishing the stigma towards people who live with disabilities. Beth Ann loves these kids with all her heart. The staff are also very committed to them and the able bodied kids of In Step help with their care, further advancing our hopes of making a dent in how people living with disabilities are looked upon by society!

We are so amazed at the way our donors have supported us throughout the years and continue to do so today! You may recall Rehema for Kids recently had a fundraiser to build the first of three new girls’ houses! Rehema raised enough funds for the first building and we were able to break ground! Everyone, especially the girls, is really excited! Trees are being taken out, ditches are being dug, ground is being leveled! Please pray for the rains to stop! As I have mentioned before, we haven’t had a dry season in over a year and construction projects go along much better when we’re not fighting the mud! 

Thanks so much to all of you for reading my updates and continuing to partner with us in so many ways! Feel free to forward this letter to family and friends who you think might like to know What God is doing here!

I’ll see some of you on the other side, very soon!

GIGATT (God is Good All the Time)!

Mama Carla

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