With exceedingly great joy, I’m heading to Kenya next week! In so many ways it’s a dream coming true. I last co-lead a team to Kenya in 2012, desperately missed being there for four years until I was able to visit last summer, and this year I’m again co-leading a Hope’s Promise Connection Team. We’ll be serving at Mother Teresa’s Home for Abandoned Children (from which my husband and I adopted two of our children); alongside Mathare Worship Centre in East Africa’s second largest slum; and at Hope’s Promise’s family-style homes for orphans, Sanctuary of Hope.
The team of twenty-seven members includes two of my sons. Justin, one of our seventeen year old “twins,” still wears a brace from Tommy John elbow ligament repair surgery in April. If not for that, he would be heading into the heart of baseball recruiting season. We are still feeling the heartbreak of a most unexpected u-turn in progress towards his dreams, but rejoicing in this moment of redemption as the opportunity opens for him to return to Kenya. My almost-twenty-year-old son Jacob and five of his closest friends are joining the team, three of whom he’s known since he was seven-years-old. Also, cherry on top, my mother-in-law is serving with the team as well as many friends.
Everywhere I go in Kenya, my camera will be, as usual, an extra appendage. But during this trip, I have an extra amazing opportunity. When I first started blogging, I “met” Otto van Munchow, a fellow blogger. He is a gifted photographer based out of Norway, and travels all over the world to give people a voice through his images. Check out his inspiring blog here: In Flow. A few months ago Otto announced a drawing to win free admission to his online workshop called “Finding Your Photographic Voice”. For years, I’ve longed to take the course. I entered, and by the grace of God, he selected me! The course begins next week and will overlap my time in Kenya. I thank God for this opportunity to become better equipped. There are myriad stunning stories to tell of people in Kenya who have no voice, and I long for them to be heard.
Our team will implement a day-camp for the Sanctuary of Hope (SoH) kids. One of the sessions will be a bracelet-making workshop. Last year when I was in Kenya, the kids made a bunch of beaded stretch bracelets and they sold like hot cakes here in Colorado through Pamba Toto, the business my friend Debbie and I started to raise money for SoH. One of our favorite product lines is “Toto for Toto” (kids for kids), projects made by the SoH kids and sold to generate income for the homes. I described my personal joy of beading with the kids in this blog entry: One of the Best Days of My Life. This year, hopefully the kids can make enough inventory to supply other Pamba Toto points-of-sale in Montana and Texas. Stacy W and Esther W were especially prodigious in their beading last year and accounted for much of our 2016 inventory:
Meanwhile, Esther K melted my heart and a friend’s – she worked diligently for more than an hour making just one bracelet. It could go to no other than my friend who named Esther soon after her birth and began sponsoring her as soon as she came home to SoH:
Yesterday was too fun as I poured beads all over the place, mixing and matching colors and styles. This year’s bracelets will include ostrich bone (from Kenya), recycled painted glass (from Kenya and also from Ghana, fair-trade), as well as a mix of complementary fair-trade-standard glass and resin beads from around the world (Happy Mango Beads is my favorite source). I can’t wait to see how the kids string together these raw materials into wonderful creations!
So I’m switching gears for a little while. Setting aside painting for a time and prepping a palette of passions – social justice especially for orphans, exposing a team to a country and people I love, my children and their friends, photography, and Pamba Toto and empowering kids through creativity. I may be quiet for the next month or so, or who knows? I may be so overwhelmed with joy, it will splash over into this blog in spontaneous posts….