Jambo everyone!

What a whirlwind the month of October was at In Step Children’s Home! It’s like it came and went before I even got used to writing the word “October” on documents! How time flies!

The highlight of the month was definitely a week-long visit from a South Hills Church team! What a wonderful group! Being visited by people from home makes us feel so “normal,” if only for a matter of days! They get us! They think like us! They talk like us! They like the same foods that we like! In short, they bring “home” to us!

South Hills Church has been sending teams every year (except during the pandemic) since 2011! They always show up ready to serve and love on the kids and us! They have done a variety of projects ranging from building a wall around the cemetery, taking babies for immunizations, painting classrooms, building greenhouses, restoring furniture, replacing mattresses and bedding, building a playground, etc.

Even in the midst of their hard work on projects, they always have an arsenal of activities that are fun for the kids and make them feel so special and loved! Arts and crafts, bubbles, science projects, games, songs and being willing to just hang out. But I think the most popular activity is “Fun with Pipe Cleaners!”

The SHC team always arrives with hundreds of pipe cleaners and turns the kids loose to imagine and create! It’s absolutely amazing what they come up with! Everything from glasses to crowns to purses to vehicles and bicycles! For days after the pipe cleaner activity, we see kids wearing jewelry, caps, glasses, belts, etc… all made from the much anticipated SHC pipe cleaner time!

I don’t use the phrase “much anticipated” lightly. There is something about knowing what to expect that gives us comfort. Our kids know that, barring a pandemic or other unforeseeable event, South Hills Church will send a team every October and this team will provide lots of fun and hugs and encouragement. The kids know that SHC loves them and cares for them and prays for them! This gives them an incredible sense of security! I’ve even had one of our kids ask if she could send a video message to South Hills, asking for prayer that she would do better in math.

This particular team focused on visiting our high school kids, who were so disappointed that they would be away at school during the SHC visit. Our excellent social worker team had pre-arranged with the twelve high schools that our kids attend, to be allowed a special visit with our kids! Oh how surprised the kids were! How special they felt! How loved! How remembered, as they are away at school!

Their other focus was to build a much-needed parking area! The equatorial sun and torrential rains take a toll on our vehicles, not to mention what a pain it is to have to park our cars in a messy, slippery mud puddle! What a blessing this five-stall carport will be for many years to come!

It’s so great to be able to have visitors again!

When the team flew home, one member, Debbi, stayed behind. She and I went on a two-day safari to Ol Pajeta National Park! This conservancy is doing amazing work, preserving Kenya’s wildlife, the Northern White Rhino, in particular. (You should google it! Ol Pajeta hosts the last two Northern White Rhinos in existence and has a plan in place to save the species!)

After the safari, I had one day at home before heading back to Nairobi with Joanie. She is doing so well and has amazed the audiologist with her progress! We continue to work daily on listening and repeating sounds. Every day, I see her experiencing more awareness of environmental and linguistic sounds! She now understands so many words, although speaking them is still a work in progress! She can follow simple, verbal commands and loves to do so! What a journey we are on! It’s just so cool to see this piece of her coming alive!

We are back in Nairobi again and while I’m writing, Joanie is playing with her baby doll. She’s all over the guest house! Putting her baby to bed in the bedroom, feeding her in the kitchen, and sitting her on the sofa with toys. I’m so happy that she is entertaining herself that I stop paying close attention and that’s when she made it into the bathroom to give her cloth-bodied baby a bath! She comes out with her baby wrapped in a towel and I knew right away what had happened! I guess I should have let her watch the iPad while I was busy! Lol!

Well, this school year is almost over! In just a few weeks, our eighth graders will be taking their final exams and getting ready to go away to high school in January! It’s so hard to believe these kids are almost grown-ups! Oh how much easier it was when they were all toddlers!

As the kids grow and change, the ministry must also change with them! We are walking in new territory! Transitioning these kids out of the home and into the community is exciting and scary all at the same time! We appreciate your prayers, especially prayers for wisdom as we try to navigate this unchartered (for us) territory!

Last month, Victor, our 9 1/2 year old Great Dane, started having problems breathing whenever he was up and around. At first, we just thought it was old age, as he had already surpassed the average lifespan for his breed. After a month or so, we noticed a growth on his right leg and he began to limp.

Every day the limp was worse, the breathing was worse and the growth was bigger than the day before. Cancer. In spite of all this, he still ate well and wagged his tail whenever we spoke to him. He still wanted to go out for walks in the evenings, like he had every night since we brought him home as a puppy.

Then one day, he just stopped. He stopped getting up. He stopped eating. He stopped peeing or pooping. And he stopped wagging his tail. We knew it was time to say goodbye.

It was a Saturday morning and Jeff and I had a heck of a time getting him up on his feet. He cried out in pain as we lifted him up, me on the back end and Jeff on the front. As much as we hated hurting him, we knew how much he enjoyed being outdoors and he hadn’t been out for two days. Remarkably, once he was on his feet, he was able to walk up to the carefully chosen resting place. Jeff and I sat in plastic chairs in the shade of a tree and Vic laid down between us. Oh how he enjoyed those last few hours! There was a slight breeze and Vic just held his face up and enjoyed it. For that short time, nobody would have guessed that he was sick.

The vet who came to euthanize him was so gentle and understanding. He took the time to explain to the kids all about how the cancer had spread through Vic’s body. He allowed Hemi, our two-year-old Great Dane, to sniff around and “say goodbye.” He even gave Vic anesthesia before the lethal injection, so that the scene would be more like him just going to sleep. I appreciated that so much! Vic laid his head on my feet and just slipped away.

It’s funny how much a person can love an animal and how much you can miss them when they’re gone.

I sure appreciate you taking the time to read my ramblings! These days, they say you should just give short blips instead of long letters. But I just can’t seem to help myself! LOL!

Thanks for your continued support! All the prayers, thoughts, messages, visits and financial support are what keep us going! May God bless each and every one of you!


Mama Carla

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