Friday, September 28, 2012

Update on Hope House Ladies

Thank you to everyone who has purchased a piece of jewelry, prayed for these ladies, visited them, or just plain old loves them!!! Here is an updated on how some of the ladies are doing (and what they would appreciate prayer for) that have graduated from the Hope House!

Jennifer showing off one of her books
Jennifer's products (its her on the jelly label!)
Jennifer, after the programs she wanted to open up a store and sell produce but she did not have enough saved. She used some of the money to pay for her school fees. Then she spent half of her savings on jewelry, jelly, and book supplies. She has sold lots of jelly and school books because it is the beginning of term. It took a while to start business; she is working from home, and looking for a customer base. She has lots to sell, she has a whole packet of books ready to sell, and that will go for 25,000 shillings. When she realized her book making skills weren’t up to par with the store standards, she sought out additional training to improve her books. She started with 50 jars of jelly now she has seven. Jennifer supplied to us all of the books that we needed for our boys to go back to school.  She enjoys making the jewelry. She wants prayer for a strong customer base and that she will be able to save enough to but a place to sell produce.
Gertrude at home with her produce
Gertrude, she says she is finding it easier to sell jelly cans and books then jewelry. The program has taught her a lot about hard work and God. She is still saving the money she is earning in hopes she can buy a piece of land someday. She said the program has changed her life so much she will never go back. She asks for prayer for her children, business, for a house, and for a location for her business. 
Kate in front of her boutique (she built it herself!)

Kate infront of her "blouse" section (she has tops, jeans, skirts, jewelry and purses)

Kate in front of her jewelry display case
Kate, most of her savings went into building and decorating her shop. She wants to buy her own land so she doesn’t have to live with her mother. She has regular customers and is thankfully she can provide for her children. She mostly sells tops and skirts. She recently bought a fridge and is now selling soda as well. She wants to be able to fill her boutique with all sorts of stuff. She asked prayer to be able to send her kids to school.
Joy showing off some of her jewelry
Joy has made 130 books to sell; she is just kicking off her business so she needs to find a customer base. She wants to have a boutique someday. She makes jewelry at the foot of her house to advertise. She wants prayer for customers, that her house won’t fall down, and her son has been missing for 5 months.
Beatrice infront of her every popular shop (it's all about location!)

Beatrice with her baby Joseph in her shop
Beatrice wakes up early to open her business at 7:30. She built her shop with her savings from the program and purchased a small plot of land that she eventually wants to build a house on. Her shop location is very good and she gets a lot of customers. She is usually very busy. At first fixing shop up was a problem. She runs out of produce to sell sometimes. She sells the clothes washing soap from Kenya; the one she used to buy didn’t sell well. She wants prayer for her business to grow so she can build a house on her land.
Harriet with some of her jewelry and jelly

Some of Harriet's clothing that she sells
Harriet in order to save money on renting a shop to sell from, moves around a lot to sell clothing so sometimes it hard to find costumers. She is looking for a cheap place so she can sell things. She is believing in God helps her move on. People compliment her jewelry and they say it is very hard to make. She wants prayer for a store and for her children to be well.
Rose at her sewing machine holding one of her coin purses she has made

Rose's sewing machine
Rose has been selling produce at the local market. She still sells jewelry and loves to make it. She learned so much about the bible from the program, she tithes what she can. She wants prayer for confidence to work, for her 4 children and the she be able to buy some land and a house someday.  Rose received a sewing machine from the program and has been learning tailoring. She now can make beautiful bags. Her kids sometimes go around Kivulu telling people, "that looks like a rip in your clothing... I know a great tailor that can fix that for you!" helping to find business! =-) Rose couldn’t start working at first because her brother became very sick. She plans to buy a “finishing sewing machine”. She is getting connections with a school to make their school uniform. She also wants to learn to sow traditional clothing. She wants prayer for training so she can sow better and different things.
Jolly in front of her restaurant
Jolly spent most of her money on making a building to start her restaurant. She is going to start making jewelry to finish up creating her restaurant. She wants prayer for enough money to keep going.
Mama Cook showing off her chickens

Some of the chicks

More chicks!
Mama Cook, after learning to make a chicken coop from a friend, she started with 250 chickens, she bought them at 1,300 shilling each and after a month she can sell them for 10,000 each. She has hired a boy to help her with chickens. She has to buy medicine for the chickens and coals to warm them. At the moment she is just selling chickens for meat but she hopes to be able to sell eggs someday. She said she is slowly learning to spread out her income because at the program it was a steady income but now she gets more money but it happens less often. She has learned to be patience. She asks for prayer for serious customers and for their Agape Church meetings where the ladies who have graduated from the Hope House still meet.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Growing together

Being a twin, I have shared my birthday my entire life. I remember when I went away to college our first birthday apart and sitting in the hallway of our dorm at midnight, and crying because I missed Luke so much. (I still do!)

For me birthday's are meant to be shared, otherwise they are completely lonely and somewhat stressful (because ALL the attention is on you).

One thing of many that I love about Africa is the sense of community- everyone sticks together. If it rains, everyone rushes into the closest home, shop, gas station, any place that they can find. I have sat in a small, one room house and watched wedding videos with a large group of complete strangers as we waited for the pouring rain to die down. If someone is mistreated, a group of people will always come rushing to their aid. If you want to see a friend, you don't need to call, you just go over to their house to visit. I love that sense of community that is so strong in our boys as well, in our entire, big, API family.

Last Saturday was my birthday, (again... sigh...) and David organized an event at a rec center so that all of our boys could go swimming, ride bikes and play soccer. They had a blast! All of the boys from the younger boys home wrote me letters. Evidently this birthday has changed some things as some of the boys began signing their letters as "my grandson"... I'm not too sure how I feel about that.

When boys come into our home, they don't know how old they are or their birthday so we help them choose one. They  love to share with a friend or an auntie or uncle they feel close to. I have put a cap on my birthday (one addition per year seems about right, especially since I am here for quite a while!)

 Looking around the boys I realized that for the last 4 years, every birthday that I have celebrated, God has brought another amazing child into my life to share it with me, first Wasswa, then Sadic, Davis, and this year adorable little David 

David on his way to church

David in front of the home

I love him so much.

When we told him it was his birthday his eyes got as big as saucers and he grinned from ear to ear. It was his birthday! David had his first birthday party and birthday cake. He got to listen as all of the boys went around and shared what they loved and appreciated about him. He ate it all up!

 Sometimes it is hard for me to grasp why anyone would reject kids as amazing and sweet and talented as the boys in our home. And sometimes when I look at the scars on their faces, arms, legs, and ribs it makes me a little angry to think about. 

But then I realize, only God knows the heart. And only God knows the wonderful plans for each child. That only He can turn what others meant for evil into something good.

No matter what their biological parents did or gave up, we are the ones that have the blessing and the honor of knowing, loving, and raising these kids. Its an honor and a huge responsibility and I wouldn't trade it for anything!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Update on Kato

 It's hard to believe that Kato, the boy who was so sad and miserable on the streets, who went through so terribly much is the same boy in the home now. Kato doesn't stop smiling- ever. Not since he came home. 

For so many kids, most, the streets make them hard. The longer they are on the streets the more they fight, the more they act out, and the harder they are to reach. Kato suffered a lot on the streets and was unable to go back home.  He got sick with malaria and typhoid, he was bitten by dogs and slept outside in the cold. I can't imagine how the streets wouldn't make you tough, you would have to be to survive! But God transformed his life, he was on the streets close to 7 years and has come out of it as one of the sweetest children that I know. He loves to play and he LOVES to smile, he has a huge heart. Kato Charles is a miracle. He is a boy that challenges me and has taught me so much about the goodness of God and his power to transform lives!

Last weekend

Thursday, September 13, 2012

(Two) Second Chances


Kato listening to music



Now, because this is a blog, and the general impression of blogs is that they are where people are... honest about their feelings and their lives, I am going to be as honest as possible. Sometimes it's hard to admit my faults in public, but I think sometimes it's important.

I love street children, I really do. I love them to pieces. They bring so much joy and excitement and heartbreak into my life. No matter how wild or crazy or troubled they are, God has just given me a special love for street children!!!

The ones that do drugs and fight- no problem!
The ones that have attachment problems and say I love you when I come and then how much they hate me whenever I have to leave- yep, love them to pieces
The ones that are "tough" and aloof- love them too!

But there was a boy in our programs who manipulated, lied, stole and complained, and that child, that child I had a really hard time loving. He drove me crazy! He had actually been in our home when it had first opened. He had been in the home a few hours before stealing a large sum of money from a house uncle and running away with another boy from the home. Once back in our street children programs, if we gave him a t-shirt he would complain that we hadn't given him a pair of jeans too, then he would turn around and sell the t-shirt and brag to everyone about how he had gotten money out of us. He refused to bathe or change his clothing, so much so that all the boys called him "insecere" or "body lice"

It was so hard for me to love this child and I felt extremely guilty for disliking him. I was a Christian- a missionary! I should love every single child in our programs just like Christ did! Although Kato was frustrating, I knew he was really hurting too. He was so shut down. On his request we had taken him back home to his mother. As soon as we got there she told him and the uncle resettling him that she didn't want him, that he should just return to the streets because she wanted nothing to do with him.

I knew that the way I felt about Kato was not right and I asked several people to pray for me, that God would give me a heart for Kato like His, that I would see Kato through the same lens that Christ did.

In my own strength I was weak but after much time and prayer, God gave me a deep love and compassion for Kato. I saw the hurting child in him, the boy that felt forgotten and hopeless.

Kato went in and out of homes, slums, and our programs for over 3 years. After some time, I began to see a slow and steady change in him.

His heart of stone that he protected from everyone that had shattered into a million pieces time and time again, began to come back together. The boy who had stolen from our home became one of the most trustworthy boys in our programs. If I ever wanted to play soccer but needed someone to carry my purse, I began trusting Kato to do it. He would hold my bag/backpack/money, whatever it was as if it were his child, on his stomach with his arms wrapped firmly around it- desperate to prove himself and to show that he was a good boy. He knew that he had a special place in my heart.

Kato lost the small glitter of hope that used to be in his eyes, and although he was sinking, he put his trust and love in a God that radically changed his life.

God put Kato on my heart as well as others in our ministry and on Monday, Mama Joyce (my mother-in-law the mama of the younger boys home) came to Kivulu to tell him that he was coming into our home. The moment he was told this and he saw me he came running up to me and nearly knocked my over with a hug of excitement.

"Auntie Babirye! Auntie Babirye! I AM GOING HOME! I AM GOING HOME TODAY!!!" Kato shouted jumping up and down.

"I know Kato, I am so happy for you! We love you so much, and God loves you so much and we want you to be home with us!"

He then looked at me seriously and said,  "Auntie Babirye, back in the day, when I went into the home, I stole a lot of money and I did a lot of bad things that I shouldn't have but I am not like that anymore..."

"Kato" I told him, "That was in the past, all of those old things, we are putting them behind us, we are throwing them away forever. In Christ you are a new creation, you are a new, a good boy, and that is the boy that we know now. Kato what are you?"

He looked up at me with a grin, "Auntie, I am a new boy"

"That is right Kato, and I know that you are going to be good mannered, because you are a good boy."

Kato just looked at me and grinned with the biggest smile that I have literally ever seen on his face. He had something there that I have never seen before on him, joy. Pure joy!

It reminds me of the parable of the lost sheep. I KNOW that there is rejoicing in heaven of one boy who first found his way to Christ who then showed him into a home.

There was a second boy that we also brought home that day. A tattered, quite boy in a huge blue shirt. Enoch. My precious, wild little Enoch.

Enoch was in the home only a few weeks before all of the trauma he had gone through caught up to him. Unable to cope with his past without drugs, he had run back to the streets. It was a long road, and it took a long time, but finally he was able to come to a place where he was ready to come back home. He asked us if he could return, and Mama Joyce, came promptly to pick him up. With tears glistening her eyes she told me how much she loved him and how she had prayed for him as he was gone.

We are rejoicing at our two boys that have come back home! Please pray with us that as God begins the slow and painful process of healing their hearts that they will be able to trust and love and stay home, no matter how scary it feels to risk being loved (because they think they may be abandoned if they trust anyone). 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Update on Moses

Hey all, soo... since some of you have been asking for an update, Moses is doing wonderfully! He went back to school last week and has just settled in so well to his Forever Home and his Forever Family! We love having him with us, he is SUCH a sweet child! Here are a few pictures of him from the last week! 

Moses on his new bed 

Moses Painting
Moses Painting

Moses painting a picture
Moses jumping on the trampoline

Juggling the soccer ball like a champ!

And also, the boy that we brought into the home before Moses, Ibra (nicknamed Engineer) is also doing great! Here are a few photos of him!

Ibra getting off of the swing

Ibra (with medicine on, he got chicken pox)

Ibra with his new watergun (thanks  Lauren!) blasting away Uncle Peter

Thanks Lauren for all of the pics! 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Day In The Life Of A Street Child, In Pictures

These pictures were taken by Michael Godbold as a glimpse into the life of a street child...

One of the entrances to Kivulu Slum, are programs are just to the right of this picture

Kivulu, Grace Fellowship Church, where our programs are is the structure on the right with different colors of sheet metal
Street kids hanging out at a local "pool hall"

Street kids gambling

A street child selling his scraps of metal that he has collected. Street children either collect metal or plastic bottles for money to survive

Older street boys selling "scrap electronics"

The electronics for sale
Selling mira, a local drug that is chewed
Place where street kids sell the bottles and scrap metal that they collect, it is weighed on a scale and purchased by the kilo

One boy hanging out as his two friends take naps below him

A street child huffing chenge
Uncle Abbey and Sabote, huffing chenge (an aviation fuel)

A boy bathing his legs at a pipe in a canal in Kivulu
A street child collect scrap in the evening. Street children collect scraps early in the morning and in the evening as their is less people around

A street child going through garbage for bottles and perhaps something to eat
Street kids at a local movie hall watching movies