Jambo everyone!

I hope this finds you all doing well! I have been enjoying seeing fall pictures on your Facebook accounts, especially from my friends on the East Coast! Someday, I will visit that part of the country during the fall season!

Here, it’s still raining! Seriously! It has been raining for about a year, with very small breaks in between rains! The rains came later than usual last year, but once they came, they decided to stay! It’s crazy!

I have exciting news! Step one to getting life back to pre-Corona is about to happen! The government is allowing schools to open for classes 4, 8 and 12! The reason these three grades have been selected is because these are the students who were supposed to take exams at the end of the school year. The exams will now take place in March 2021, instead of November 2020. In order to allow for catch up time, they will have only one week of Christmas break, instead of the normal nine weeks.

Our primary kids who attend grades other than 4 and 8, will also return to school unofficially, for review and continued home schooling. Kids from the outside community will remain at home, except classes 4 and 8 who will return to school.

All students, excluding classes 4 and 8 who will take government issued exams, will take an assessment exam in mid-December to determine whether or not they will advance to the next grade or repeat their present class. Some of the kids haven’t been super serious about home school, so I expect the classes next year will have a different makeup of students than this year.

I must admit that it has been nice to have the kids home to help with day to day tasks like scrubbing the sidewalks, picking mboga (removing the leaves from indigenous vegetable stems), etc. But, I, like most parents around the world, am ready for the kids to get back into a real-life schedule!

When it was announced that school was opening, the immediate response from the kids was, “What about cooking chapati?” “What about doing extra work for duka money?” “When will we be able to listen to music?” “But I like to help aunties with the babies!”, etc.

I literally had to interrupt their quickly progressing protest to remind them that before school closed, they did just fine without all of those extra privileges and that school is opening next week with or without their approval! I gave a very similar response to the protest about the end of year assessment exams: “Sorry kids! This is not a democracy and we’re not taking a vote about whether or not the exams will take place!” LOL!

We LOVE The Joshua Blueprint (you may recall, the Joshua Blueprint is a ministry that brings the arts to children’s homes) and have been super blessed by their willingness to come to the home to continue training our kids in art, vocals, drama and ballet! This program has really opened the minds of many of our kids and shown talents that we, or even the kids themselves, didn’t realize they had! The kids absolutely love Teacher Sam, Teacher Ray, and Teacher Mercy! These guys have invested themselves into our kids lives in such a way that it is extremely humbling to watch! Unfortunately, this is the final year of this program… please join me and the kids in praying for a new arts program, so the kids can continue developing their God-given talents!

I’m planning to be in the states for most of November and all of December! It has been a year since I was home and I’m missing my family like crazy! I hope to connect with many of you while I’m there! I know that we can’t do any big events this year, but I still want to do what I can to see as many of you as possible! Contact me personally if you’d like to get together for a casual catch up! If you’re wanting a more official (donor to missionary) meeting, contact Rehema For Kids at (509) 405-8677.

Another thing I would like to do while I’m home is see a dentist! I don’t have dental insurance and my problem is totally cosmetic. I’m hoping to find a dentist who is willing to just fix up my front tooth and not require x-rays, cleaning, exam, etc., before any work can be done. The problem is this: my top right, front tooth was broken many years ago. I have had the bonding replaced a few times over the years. Now, it’s like the bond is breaking down, causing staining on the line. (Can you tell I’m not a dental person? I’m sure I’ve used all the wrong terminology!) If any of you know of a dentist, preferably either in Eastern Washington or the Phoenix, AZ area, who you think might be willing to help me out at a reasonable price, please let me know! (I’ve attached a pic so you can see what I mean.)

I know I’ve told you guys about Mama Carla’s Duka, but for the sake of some of the new readers, I’ll quickly explain it again.

Duka is the Swahili word for small shop. Many times, a duka is what westerners would think of as a roadside stand, selling a few vegetables, sweeties (hard candies), biscuits (cookies) and maybe a few varieties of chapati and mandazi (fried breads).

Here at the children’s home, kids are given opportunities to do chores and help around the place, to earn “duka money”. Every other Saturday, Mama Carla’s Duka opens up for the kids to spend their hard earned money. This is a big deal! Beth Ann (the missionary who manages our Stepping Stones program) and I spend most of the day being shopkeepers, as the kids purchase their favorite snacks and sweeties.

While the kids have been home, they have had lots of time to earn money! I highly encourage this, as it teaches them to use their free time in a productive way, keeps them from being idle and when they see the fruits of their labor they make the connection that hard work pays off! Some of them have been earning so much money, that we have been forced to offer them another way to spend it! So, the Shopping List program has been started!

Every Thursday, Beth Ann and I go into Kitale to do our weekly grocery shopping. These days, we go to town with shopping lists from the kids! For example, last week we picked up 32 big mandazis, 8 avocados, 7 bananas, 26 packets of small mandazi, 14 packs of Amigos (generic Cheetos that break down and stick to the roof of your mouth – gross!), etc. Then on Friday, Beth Ann and I bag up all of the orders and pass them out to the kids. Like everything else around here, it started out with just a few lists each week but has grown into a big thing! I’m sure it will slow down with the opening of school, as the kids won’t have as much time to do what is known as “extra work!”
Prudence was one of our Stepping Stones (special needs) kids. She was able to move back home with her family about a year ago, with the help of in home support from us. She comes from a very loving family, who simply couldn’t provide for her special needs, which is why she was placed with us a few years back. Whenever her parents would come visit her, Prudence would be so excited! Tears of joy would run down her cheeks as she bounced up and down in such a way that we would seriously worry about her flipping her wheelchair over!

This absolutely broke our hearts! It was obvious how much Prudence and her family loved each other! We spent a few months talking with her parents about what it would take to get her back home.

Prudence’s family are farmers so food is not a problem. Also, being farmers, they are at home so daily care is not a problem. The things they were not able to cater for were occupational therapy, adult diapers to be worn during therapy sessions, and medicines. So, we now provide the money for those few things and a social worker visits them monthly to collect the receipts from the previous month (accountability that the money is being used for the agreed upon purposes) and leave money and diapers for the upcoming month. For about $80 per month, Prudence is able to live with her parents and sisters!

This month, Beth Ann asked if she could accompany the social worker to visit Prudence. Beth Ann is such a blessing to all of the SS kids and they love her with all their hearts, just like she loves all of them! This was very evident in Prudence’s response to seeing Beth Ann after almost a year! The social worker told me that it brought tears to everyone’s eyes, including Prudence’s parents! Prudence started bouncing all over the place, squealing (screaming) with excitement, grabbing Beth Ann and not letting go! I’m told it took about thirty minutes to get her settled down! I’m sure Beth Ann will be going to visit her more often now! (I know the pic is a bit blurry. It’s because Prudence wouldn’t hold still for a picture!)

Well, I could go on and on! Life at In Step Children’s Home is never dull! But I think I’ve rambled on long enough!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this update! We appreciate all of you and feel the love and prayers you send across the globe.

GIGATT (God is Good All the Time)!
Mama Carla

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