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Nutrition and HIV

As many of you know we have a sweet young girl named Robai coming to live with us who is HIV positive. Since I know very little about HIV I've been doing some research on the topic. My goal for Robai and any other child who stays with us is that they would do more than survive, that they would thrive.

For our HIV kiddoes we will be tweaking their nutrition some. It is my understanding that all the children here need more fruits and veggies, but especially the ones that are HIV positive. 2 weeks ago when we went and visited Robai and her school in Sang'alo she had several bumps on her arms, neck and face. When we asked if she was sick her pastor told us that the bumps are from the lack of fruits and vegetables in her diet. That will not be happening at Mercy Children's Home. At this point my nutrition game plan is to always have fruits and vegetables available for her at every meal and at least 2 snacks a day and one of those being an avocado. Once she moves in she will be attending school right across the street at Mercy Foundation Academy so she can walk home for lunch each day. I would love for you to share any links or good ideas that you have concerning healthy foods for compromised immune systems. I'm fully aware that this type of thing takes a team so please send me your ideas! Also I am open to researching just about anything. I'm pretty "crunchy" (naturally minded) so things that might sound weird to others often sound great to me!

I haven't found any vitamins in Kenya YET, but there has to be some here right? I do have access to coconut oil and know that it is a super healthy oil with good fats in it. I'm hoping to be able to add this to our "HIV diet plan". It is a little pricy here, but surely it can be found in bulk at a cheaper price. I'm planning to cook with it and see if she will just eat it with a spoon. I'm also thinking of using it as a lotion/moisturizer for the kids. Often times I see petroleum jelly being used for moisturizer here and I'm just not a fan that, but coconut oil will work as a moisturizer and is great for everyone's skin. If you know of or have any experience with any supplements that would be good for immune compromised kids can you please share those with me? Somehow, someway we need to boost their immune system, even if I have to have something shipped to us.

I'm fully aware that I can't change everything here, and I don't want to. But nutrition seems like a fairly easy thing that can make a huge difference in the children's lives. In Kenya the main foods are rice, flour, corn and beans. If we are able to add in a couple of fruits and a couple of veggies daily I will be happy with that. I know keeping fresh items on hand will be a little more difficult, but it seems like every other day someone is going into town so it shouldn't be that hard. There is a small market right at the end of our road so maybe I can tell them what I would like and they can start to have that on hand so we can purchase it as needed.

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Please send any and all ideas and links to me! You can comment on the blog, email me at Mrsbys03@gmail.com or find me on FB and message me! Thank you so much for your love and support!!

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What I Wish Kenyans Knew About Us

Happy 3 months of living in Kenya to us. God is doing great things in our lives here, constantly drawing us closer to Him and teaching us many valuable lessons. We for sure aren't in America anymore. But Jesus is near to us, probably closer here than when we were there. As we've been adjusting and trying to merge with our culture I've come across some things that I wish every Kenyan I met knew so I thought I would share those things here.First and foremost, our purpose here is to serve God through caring for the orphans and widows, supporting local indigenous pastors and anything else He (God) calls us to do. Jeff and I have had a heart for orphans for a long time. I've kind of always known I would adopt even before I fully understood what adoption was. Of course once we were able to adopt it really opened our eyes to the huge need out there, therefore deepening our passion for orphans. I have always been drawn to babies and kids so my passion for orphans doesn't surprise me at all, but I am surprised that God has us here in Kenya living this life and serving Him in this way.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18

Swahili isn't easy for this Momma. I'm trying, I promise. And one day I might actually be able to communicate more than just a basic greeting, but not yet. I wish so badly that I could just freely communicate with you in your language, but Swahili is so hard for me. Please be patient with me, I love living here and want to be considered "one of you" one day. I want to have you over to my home, share chai with you and learn all about you and your life and share my life and my family with you. Relationships are important to me. I don't just want to be the muzungu that lives in Kaya, I want to be your friend.

In order to move here we sold everything, including our home in America, besides a few personal items and books. Upon selling most of our belongings we donated the majority of our money to AFM to help get the orphanage built. We fully believe that God wants Mercy Children's Home built so we obeyed Him, sold it all and moved. We don't have thousands of shillings sitting in the bank. We aren't rich and we aren't fancy people, we never have been. To you, I know you see us and assume we have the money to meet your needs, but the truth is we don't. We are here to help support orphans, widows and pastors. I wish we could pay all of the school fees for your kids, as we know a proper education is important. I wish we could put shoes on every set of feet. Jiggers are bad here and cause a lot of pain and many missed school days. I wish we could make sure not one person goes hungry. Sadly we just can't meet these needs for everyone. We want to help you and we have helped some of you. We care about each and every one of you. But if we helped with every need we wanted to, then Mercy Children's Home just wouldn't be possible. We hate telling you hapana (no), we hate seeing needs that go unmet. Truthfully we hate not being able to fix things and meet needs for everyone here. We must focus first on the main reason we are here, to build and open Mercy Children's Home. Once we get the children's home built and operating I'm positive that we will start working on other ways to meet other needs here. One example being that we will be building 8 to 10 (or more) small apartments on the property to house widows in need. Another example is trying to figure out a way to get enough funds for a nearby school to be able to feed the kids lunch, because right now they can't do that.

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You are NEVER just a photo opportunity. If it ever feels that way I'm sorry. When I first arrived in Kenya I took pictures often, but then I started feeling bad about it. See I never want you to feel like I'm here exploiting you. That's not my heart, not my heart at all. But I do need to take pictures so I can share them with our support system. I need to share them so I can help bring awareness to the needs that we have here. So that our friends can see the beautiful faces of those who they are praying for. I love you all and truly want what is best for you. My only motive is to bring attention to the needs here so that more and more people can be helped.

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Lastly...eat with us...PLEASE (Godfrey, Pamella, Matrine, Evaline and Nickson, I'm looking at y'all)! I'm sure it is a cultural thing that we are served a meal and then left alone to eat, but we want to eat WITH you. We want to get to know you and for you to know us. We want to learn from you and about you. We aren't here for just a little while, Kenya is now our home too. We aren't going back to the United States to live, so please stop treating us as visitors and treat us just like you would anyone else. We aren't special, not even a little, we are just one family that God chose to send here. When you come to our home for a meal we will all sit down, pray together and then eat. We will sit down and learn about and from each other. I have SO much to learn about Kenya and the way things are done here.

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Special Dinner "Guests"

by Stephanie Bys:

Sunday we had 2 special dinner "guests", but we were missing Jeff. Cory let me know on Friday that he and Rachel (his beautiful girlfriend) would have time to stop by on Sunday and eat dinner with us on their way back to Tulsa. For those of you who don't know, Cory is our oldest, he attends Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey and is doing a Chaplin internship in Tulsa, OK this summer. Time with him is precious! When he is in Texas he has eleventy billion other people to see, hug, make smile and bless so we cherish any and all time with him. Cory is one of 16...yes he has 15 siblings total, so saying he is busy is an under statement!

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All day the kids talked about being bummed that Dad was going to miss our dinner. Usually if Cory is here Jeff is here, but he had something scheduled he couldn't get out of. I also heard how excited they were about Cory and Rachel coming. If you are close to our family you know that our kids adore their oldest brother. They treat him as if he is a rock star, which he totally is to them. When he is coming over, our other kids can be found waiting by a window hoping to be the first one to yell out "CORY IS HERE, CORY IS HERE!!" All day long they checked the time, asked if he was almost here, even sat at the window 45 minutes early. I'm telling you these kids are dedicated! Today while all the chatter and excitement was happening I noticed something...I was hearing Rachel's name as much as I was hearing Cory's! "Rachel is coming, I can't wait to see Rachel, Is Rachel almost here?" We haven't had the chance to spend a lot of time with Rachel, but the time we have had with her has been wonderful! Our girls (me included) especially love her; she's so much fun, does great hair styles for them and is always up for whichever direction they are dragging her in.

When Cory is coming I always ask what he wants to eat, he so not picky and will eat just about anything you put in front of him, just like his Dad. But I like to make whatever he wants when we have him home. Our time with him and Rachel is so special to us that I want him/them to feel special. I don't know...I guess that's just a Mom thing, anyways he requested Mexican food. I was super excited because I love Mexican food so much, but it always seem like a lot of work, read a lot of chopping. I will often skip toppings or skip Mexican food all together. Well not for Sunday night's dinner! The kids and I decided that we would make tostadas with ALL the toppings. When making our grocery list we decided that we needed homemade salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, cilantro, cheese, jalapeños, sour cream and pico de gallo in addition to our refried beans and ground beef. We actually started chopping on Saturday to be ready for our big meal on Sunday. Five of the kids helped with making/chopping/preparing ourdinner. Dinner turned out great and I think everyone at least had seconds.

Once we were all nice and full from dinner, we had to have sopapilla Cheesecake! This happens to be Jeff's very favorite dessert and Cory may have been taunting him via text about missing it.

When it was all said and done we had a little over 2 hours with these precious people. Instead of focusing on how brief the minutes were, we chose to celebrate the time we did have. Being just months away from leaving the country has helped us be more intentional with our time.

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