Every Saturday of the month, there’s a party at the House of Hope. It resembles a family reunion in our American South. The number of children swells from the 40+ who live in the House of Hope to around 150 in the community who are part of the Project 82 program or may be eligible to join. About 40 guardians also come, and the house moms and guardians prepare a traditional Kenyan midmorning meal of tea and porridge for the little ones and later a huge hot lunch of rice, shredded carrots and cabbage, meat stew and chapati (a bread commonly made for special occasions) for everyone in attendance. While the adults cook, a local pastor leads a Bible study for the children, and they play together outside.
This past Saturday, our team was able to attend this one-of-a-kind Kenyan “family reunion!” What a joy! In the morning, Matt led the kids in a simple version of Vacation Bible School, while Gaylyn and the young adults broke out with the P82 teens. Simon, an excellent young man in the program who now attends university, was our translator for the younger kids. When we broke out into small groups, it was awesome to hear the children recite their favorite Bible verses. Several of the kids in my group recited from the book of John where my own favorite verse, John 15:5, appears.
After lunch, as we watched the kids play net ball, one of the girls who adopted me for the day–Naomi–curled up next to me in the grass, pulled her sweater up over her head and fell fast asleep. Her friend, Lucy, laid a protective arm over her and rested her head on my shoulder. Such a sweet moment of trust and the intimacy of “mothering” that we take for granted with our own children.
In the late afternoon, the team passed out letters and packages from sponsors. It was special to witness the looks of anticipation and their wide smiles as they received their letters and packages. Several of our team members met the children they sponsor.
Ben reminded us later that night that although the need feels so large and sobering at times, we do make a difference with these kids, one child at a time. He got to experience this philosophy tenfold when he was able to meet with one of his and his wife Betty’s sponsored children, Mary, who is starting her first year at Kenyatta University. Mary’s mother died, leaving her and her siblings in an orphanage when the girl was 11 years old. She never knew her father. Through her sponsorship at P82, she was able to attend school and later achieve a passing score on the national test to be accepted into university.
That evening, back at Ukarimu, we heard the stories of two of our P82 Kenyan friends, Dan and Gordon. Their testimonies humbled and encouraged us. What we heard most clearly was their steadfast belief, even in the darkest of times, that God had good plans for their lives (Jeremiah 29:11) and that He would NEVER leave or forsake them. (Deuteronomy 31:8).
No matter where we live, what circumstances we face or who we are, these are promises we can also cling to. God bless!
Erica, Mission Team Member