Launching a new school for the impoverished children in Kenya! Come and see, and be a part of what God is calling us all to do today!
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Launching a new school for the impoverished children in Kenya! Come and see, and be a part of what God is calling us all to do today!
some heartbreaking news we must share with you….
So it has been way too long since I posted an update, but here a little bit about why! Jeff left town on Sunday morning for a conference in Nairobi so I've been the one dealing with everything. Running a children's home is no easy task. Usually if we have an employee issue Jeff deals with that, if we have a disciplinary issue with a boy Jeff deals with that, if we have a staff meeting Jeff runs that, if we have people show up asking for a job Jeff deals with that, if we have some building going Jeff deals with that, anytime we have major behavior issues to address Jeff is involved with that, but the last few days all of that has fallen on me plus the normal life of being a Mama to many! I feel a little frazzled and torn on what to do next because I always have something to do next. Oh did I mention I don't sleep much when Jeff's gone and I have some sort of infection where my impacted molar is? I promise you I'm not complaining, life here is so good even when I'm frazzled and without my love by my side!
Today Karson sprayed 5 homes for jiggers. A few days ago we met a woman who had many jiggers even in her hands. 💔 So she and several of her neighbors were treated and had their homes sprayed today.
Next up on our agenda is to get the kids ready for school, they start back Monday for the final term of this year. We are currently trying to make sure each child has a pair of shoes to wear 😂😂 and I will likely have to buy several pairs this weekend.
Friday Jeff and I will travel to pick up a little girl (Lexy) with special needs. What her exact needs are we aren't sure, with complex issues it can be hard to get a real diagnosis. She is 3 and can't walk or talk, but she can hear and she eats just fine! Jeff just today made a new connection with a hospital we are hoping will be able to give us some real answers. Please pray for Lexy! She need LOTS of prayers and so do we as her parents, we want to help her in any way that we can.
Totally unrelated (told you I felt frazzled 🤪) but Jeff got told today (by a guy from the US) that he sounded like he was native to Kenya 😭😭😭 our Texas is gone!!!! 😭😭😭 I have noticed how "country" others sound when we video chat and I knew it had to be because our accent had changed! But I'm still saying y'all and my Kenyan accent won't stop that!
Thanks for following this crazy, joy filled journey God has us on!
Random pictures because it has been a while!
Up late, deep in thoughts and completely blown away by God's goodness. Monday, was an overwhelming day, if you saw the pictures of John's feet you know why.
I've not seen anything that bad...ever. But for a moment I was so torn...I knew we didn't have the money to cover what needed to be done, but I also knew we had to get him help. Being in the field and in the moment is so hard sometimes. Juggling what we are faced with and our budget is even harder. We've recently been in talks with the President of AFM about our budget and our many ministry needs and I was just sure he was going to be upset about this risk that we took. I also know him pretty well and knew he would understand at some level, but I won't lie, the anxiety was very real when posting John's need.
But God! God provided peace and more money than the estimated bill in just hours about $633 in all! Now, assuming his bill is around $400 we will be able to do some repairs on his roof (many of his iron sheets need to be re-nailed down) and get him all set up to continue treatment at home. John told us today that he was born in 1926, but he doesn't look 92 to me. His wife has passed away and so has his only son. However old he is or however long he has left to live life on this Earth I hope it is better than the previous 12 years that he has been battling podoconiosis (Mossy Foot).
Thank you, those words always seems so simple and never enough, but that is all I have. Thank you for all of your prayers, shares and donations! It fills my heart with joy to see y'all jump in and help John! You are making a difference in lives here, you are changing stories. Not only are you helping John, but others are watching and learning. Others are seeing that God provides, others are blown away when we share the stories of how much money God has provided in just hours. It is such a blessing to get to do this work and share in this JOurneY.
Joyful July day...I missed a bunch but now I'm back!
Meet Victor! This boy always brings a smile to my face. When you see him on the street he is smiling and if he isn't smiling before he sees you he will smile at you. Jeff and I have had many conversations with him, fed him many times and we desperately want to help him. The "problem" is that he is 16 and in our experience the older the child the harder they are no matter where they come from. Actually he has asked us to take him off the streets. Will you pray for Victor? Will you pray that something will give and Victor will have a home, family and get some education? Will you pray that if Victor is supposed to be here that fear would not stop us. He's probably so far behind in school that he needs to just attend a tech school to get some hands on training in a particular skill so he can get a job and do something besides sniff glue all day. It would bring me so much joy to see him sober and have a real conversation with him.
#aboutfacemissions #mercychildrenshome#streetboycrisis #kenya #nonprofit #james127#orphans
Mercy Home Update!
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 ESV
As many of you know we've been asking for prayers and seeking the Lord on where he would have us. Would He have us stay in Kaya or move to the 7 acre property? Today, best we can tell, that has been answered for us. We were notified recently that the Kenyan ministry who has been raising money for the 7 acre property for the last year has made a cash offer that has been accepted. Since I knew towards the end of last week that this property wouldn't likely be ours I have been able to process most of my feelings and today I have peace with some sadness of course. However I still want to share where my heart is and has been.
I will admit that I haven't taken this news well at all. Now that I have waded through my anger (which is actually feelings of failure) and heartbreak it comes down to one thing for me. The school. The Victorious property has a school that we don't have. We already have a big living space for children, we have clean water and we can and will plant flowers and trees here in Kaya. But we don't currently have a school or the land for a school. 💔
Currently we send our children to a public Catholic school, but it is completely different than any school you would see in America. Public school here looks like 3 children sitting in 1 small desk, 60+ children to a class, a school of 800+ students to 10 (TEN) teachers, not enough text books for every child, teachers walking around hitting children with sticks for any reason at all, lunch isn't served (children walk home for lunch) because it just isn't in the school budget, there is no running water, no pencil sharpener, no power the majority of the time and we must pay school fees.
Often times I feel like the school undoes what we are trying to teach at home. One of the many things we try and teach our children is that they can trust us (and the entire MCH staff). They can trust us to love them, to feed them, to protect them and to do what is best for them. How can you trust an adult who calls you stupid? How can you trust an adult who has just hit you in front of 50+ other students and you aren't even sure why? How can you trust an adult who hits you for asking why they are about to hit you? How can we as parents protect our children when we are told "This is the Kenyan way."? It is the Kenyan way, but it isn't the only way.
Our goal is to have a great school with small class sizes, with teachers who love children, without beating sticks, with proper supplies, that is able to serve breakfast and lunch year round, that is 100% free for the children in our area who aren't currently able to afford to attend school. Our goal is to have a real Christian school, not just a school that teaches a Christian class (required by the Kenyan government).
So what now? We bloom where we are and basically keep doing what we've been doing. We keep fundraising to finish our home, purchase land and grow our ministry including building a school for our children and our village which could easily cost us more than the $150,000 we have been trying to raise. We keep caring for those God sends us.
Anyone want to guess how many children we have here at Mercy Home? 😮I am not going to lie to you, waiting is hard for me. I'm very all or nothing if you will, but God is working on that. For the last year and a half I feel like we've basically been camping 😂. So many parts of our home aren't finished, we don't have an actual kitchen or dinning hall, we are just now getting some paint on the walls and we are still living out of our suitcases that we moved here with.
So will you pray for us? Pray for resources, we need a lot of money to finish our unfinished home, for land and to build a school. Pray for us to have patience, me especially. Pray that our eyes will remain on Him and what He wants for us. Pray for us to have a school in January (when the Kenyan school year starts) as we feel this is very important, not only for our children, but the children of our village as well. And thank God for answers even when it doesn't end up looking like we think it will. 💜 In some ways this is a relief because now we can focus only on this home and property, in other ways it is a bigger burden because we now know we need to build a school from the ground up and purchase additional land.
Thank you for your prayers, love and support. Living this life isn't always easy, but it is a huge blessing. We are constantly growing and constantly trying to better the lives of our children. Making their lives better only happens by your prayers, your support, your sharing and you will never know how much that means to us as the parents of these children. Thank you so very much!
Posted on behalf of Jeff Bys from Facebook.
Another MCH family birthday in the books! Today we celebrated Wilbur's 10th bday.
Here's a fun fact: At MCH we celebrate an average of 6 birthdays a month. That's more than 1 per week!
Joyful July 2nd, 3rd and 4th because Nairobi was busy for us! After living in Kenya for a short while you learn you can make plans all you want, but the likelihood of them all happening on your timeline is slim to none. But in Nairobi we were able to get so much done!
Joyful July 2nd-Our immigration check-in was a complete BREEZE! We had all of our paperwork and all of our paperwork was all REAL so in about 20 minutes we were completely done and that includes waiting in line because we arrived early!
Joyful July 3rd-We were able to meet up with a Kenyan pastor/missionary that Jeff met at a conference in Nairobi in May and he took us to Mully Children's Family! Wow, it was such an honor to be there and we were invited back for a more in-depth tour so we can lean more. If you haven't seen the Mully movie I would encourage you to watch it. What Mully has been doing for the last 25+ years is our dream on a much smaller scale (our dream is on a much smaller scale than what he currently has.). It is neat to get to be with like minded people...you don't feel so crazy in those moments! ;) Also yesterday we got to eat TACOS 🌮 🌮 and I was able to find some gluten free products that we can't get in Bungoma! God was so good to us yesterday (and every day)!
Joyful July 4th-We are on our way home to see our kiddos! While I know we had things we had to go and do I always hate leaving them. So far it sounds like the children have behaved themselves better than some of the adults!😂So far our travel back hasn't been too bad, just not as fast as I would like for it to be.
And I'm terrible at taking pictures, sorry!!
Joyful July #5
Growth! It is such a JOY to get to be a part of the growth happening here at Mercy Home. We cant always snap a picture of the growth, but this one was too cute not to share. All of our children are growing daily whether it is physically, academically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally or in the area of responsibility. Children are amazing and thrive when given food, love, good shelter and a bit of structure.
If you support us in any way you are changing lives like Minnie's in Kenya. Thank you, thank you for helping these children, thank you for allowing us to be the "boots on the ground", thank you for joining in on the joy in our JOurneY.
#aboutfacemissions #mercychildrenshome#bungoma #kenya #changingtheirstory #growth#james127 #thankyou #joyfuljuly
(Current picture taken today while she has malaria...she's not letting it phase her one bit💜)
Joyful July day 6
Today we started the project of building a new home for a family of 9. Currently they are sleeping in 2 8x8ish huts, children in one and adults and youngest child in the other. As you can see the rooves are made of straw and they are old so when it rains water comes in and the floors get wet. A wet floor isn't too big of a deal unless that is where you sleep without a mattress and that's exactly where this family sleeps. 😞 But God! He is so good and we had afamily donate $500 to build them a new home. Today we met with the "fundi" (worker) who will set and build the frame and roof of the home. Tomorrow we will go into town and purchase materials for the home. Monday is build day, they will now have 2 bedrooms and a sitting room (living room) all under one DRY roof! We are still seeking additional donations to cover beds, mattresses, sheets, blankets, mosquito nets and additional iron sheets so we can enclose the "toilet" for this family. If you would like to donate to meet these needs please mark it for "Dishon family".
There's something about people loving on people they've never met that makes me all "heart eyed" 😍😍😍. To see someone love the people God loves thousands of miles away, to see someone impact so many lives they've never met, to watch someone care for others children...it brings me so much JOY. Our JOurneY is full of JOY here in Kenya.
Thank you for being JOY makers. When you support our mission here you are not only supporting our children, but you are supporting other families in our community as well. From the local shops in our area, to our staff of 19, from the lady we buy sukuma (collard greens) from daily, to the family that provides us fresh milk daily for the children's porridge and even the extra driver's we require daily...you are helping to support so many families.
#joyfuljuly #aboutfacemissions #mercychildrenshome #nonprofit #james127#kenya #bungoma #changingtheirstory
Joyful July day 7
We have bunnies! For me bunnies bring so much joy. I look at rabbits as pets and pets only, but we (Karson and the boys) have delved into raising rabbits for meat. As you are probably aware our home is ever growing, in order to be able to afford to continue taking in children we have to find ways to produce some of our food. While I highly doubt I will ever eat rabbit I know that the children will benefit greatly from this little project, both in their bellies and knowledge wise. Currently we have 7 does, 1 buck and 6 bunnies. Best we can tell all 7 does are pregnant so soon we will have lots of bunnies. We will butcher at around 12 weeks and as fast as rabbits have bunnies we should have a steady supply for the children. Being able to feed our children better (more meat/protein) bring me SO much joy!
In addition to providing food for MCH we are hoping to use some of the rabbits to help others do this same sort of thing. This would allow them to sell the rabbits and also provide some food for their family. Rabbits are basically free to raise here because the children go and gather fresh weeds/greens for them daily, pluse we eat cabbage, sukuma (collard greens) and carrots on a regular basis so there is plenty of food here for them and they do not eat pellets. Currently we have our rabbits set up in a colony setting and they are doing great.
In about 8-10 weeks we should have our first rabbit stew. And now the boys are asking to start raising birds 😒, I just don't like birds. I was hoping that we would focus on goats (we have 1 female) or chickens (we have about 6) next, but birds seem to be much cheaper to start up (about $1 per bird) so it looks like they may just win again.
Thank you for following along, your prayer and your support!
posted on behalf of Stephanie Bys from Facebook.
Christmas is just 6 months away and will be here before you know it, so it isn't too early to start shopping now. We've had a couple people offer to have online parties like this to help us raise money for the new property God is calling us to. Every little bit helps. Allison Bailey has launched an AFM benefit Norwex sale opportunity! If you are interested in cleaning products without all the toxic chemicals add yourself to this group. These Norwex products will help you improve your life and profits will go to us to improve ours! I hear they even have a make-up removing cloth!
Thanks for your support and please share with your friends.
If you don't use Facebook and want to go straight to the shopping page that generates 25% to AFM then click this button!
Here's another way you can help support Mercy Home! Amanda Berger with Trades of Hope will be donating 100% of her profit to MCH for our land purchase. Purchasing from Trades of Hope helps women out of poverty and our mission in Kenya to grow. Please join this group and let me or Amanda know if you have any questions. Feel free to share this group with your friends and family.
Click button below to go directly to benefit shopping page!
Please we ask you to visit both of these sites and give their products a try and enjoy blessings of living well and helping About-Face Missions support more needy families and neglected children in western Kenya, one of the poorest places on earth! Every sale here or dollar given matters!
Griffen, around 10 years old, showed up at our home today, alone and asking to come and live with us. His story is so sad, but the condition his feet made me cry 💔. His father died about 3 years ago from HIV. His mother, a drunkard, went to a funeral a week ago while Griffen was at school. She locked the door to their home and has yet to return. So poor Griffen has been locked out of his home for a week, has no idea when or if his mother will be back and has been forced to stay with an uncle who treats him poorly. His feet have been taken over by jiggers. His toes are now very infected, so much so that he can't relax them. They just stick straight out and he has to walk to school everyday. This can kill him if not treated.
Why? Why do his feet look like this? Why hasn't his mother helped him? Why hasn't a teacher at his school helped him? Why has a neighbor not helped him? Why is someone not stepping up and being his voice? These are all questions I just don't understand, but I'm asking them with my first world knowledge all while trying to understand in my third world life. This child is in constant pain and just forced to live that way because others haven't helped him. Griffen is part of my why...he's part of the reason we came here and he is part of the reason we stay.
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."John 14:18
Help wanted and needed for Mercy Children's Home and it doesn't require you to leave your home! 😀
1. We need about 4 people (I'm open to more than that) to help run a Facebook group that will hold auctions of donated items to benefit Mercy Children's Home.
2. We need MANY people willing to donate items and or services that will be auctioned off in the group above. (Shipping within the US will need to be paid for by the donor.)
This would be a huge blessing to us at Mercy Home. Jeff and I are just too busy to effectively organize and run a group like this or we would just do it. I've seen and been a part of groups like this that are able to raise a good amount money for their purpose. Once we have the admins set up and the group open we can work on a list with pictures of each donation. If you are able to help admin and run this group please private message me on FB.
Thank you for your support and prayers!
#aboutfacemissions #mercychildrenshome#nonprofit #james127 #changingtheirstory #kenya#streetboysnomore #streetboycrisis#helpushelpthem
( PS... several have volunteered to help us get this auction site launched! Praise God! )
We ran into town today to finish our unfinished errands from yesterday, but Jeff was feeling terrible. I decided we should go have blood work done "real quick" and see why he felt so bad. Turns out he has malaria, so he got 1 injection and oral meds and he is already feeling a little better💜. We had another issue at school today with 2 of our boys 😭. I just don't understand the Kenyan way of "disciplining", please pray that we can get to the bottom of it in a peaceful manner. I'm pretty much full on "Mama bear" right now and that isn't peaceful. This week is packed full...I'm not sure why it is so busy, but it seems like we have a meeting of some sort each day and multiple meetings some days. I was able to get Jeff some probiotics, I hope they are good and help rebuild his good fit bacteria. Here's a picture of our "Zekey Boy" in big boy clothes that use to be Reed's when we first moved to Kenya! I swear he is such a happy baby, but he refused to smile for me! Thanks for all of your prayers!
#aboutfacemissions #mercychildrenshome #james127 #kenya #bungoma#orphans #theleastofthese #thankyou #nonprofit
Happy birthday to our 15 year-old twins!
These two are quite close and decided that they were twins! Dan, like many of our kids, didn't know his birthday. So when we let him choose one, he chose the same day as Karson's. They picked supper together tonight; goat stew with rice. They also designed their bright red cake with sprinkles. ❤️
Dan has lived with us for over a year now! He's doing pretty good. He's at the top of his class and is a natural leader. We have definitely gone through trials with Dan as well, but that is to be expected with all he has been through. Dan is a tough case. He doesn't know his family and he had been living on the streets for as long as he could remember. He has been through some tough stuff. We thank God for bringing us to Dan, and if we were unable to help any other orphans, just helping Dan and giving him a chance would have been worth everything we have been through. We love Dan and we thank God for him.
And wow! Just like that, Karson is 15! He was one of our most challenging children for about 8 years, but now he just amazes us with his maturity! He's a large part of our mission here in Kenya. We can give him a task and he will see it through. He can corral the boys, direct others in what they should be doing, he is my protector (and translator) when Jeff isn't able to be with me and he takes that job seriously, and he can divide the kids and organize a football (soccer) game. I'm surprised at what a strong leader he is and how he actually listens when we speak 😂. If you knew Karson 2+ years ago, he is a different person now. He has grown so much, and I don't just mean his height! (He is now taller than me and his father, haha) He is now counting down the days until he is 16 and can drive a motorbike. 😮
#aboutfacemissions #mercychildrenshome #kenya #bungoma #nonprofit#james127 #orphans #blessed #changingtheirstory
(Posted from Facebook on behalf of Stephanie Bys)
They ended up putting him to sleep with anesthesia! I'm assuming there was just miscommunication about that part, that is very common here. I got to the hospital while they were cleaning out his leg and didn't realize he had been put to sleep until I saw him in the hall waiting to be moved into his room. I thought he was just laying there resting until I saw his face with his eyes open, but he was completely unresponsive 😮. Yikes...he wasn't even hooked up to any kind of machine or oxygen. After about an hour he woke up and was in a lot of pain. Once his pain was under control he wanted me to go get him pizza and a salad! Needless to say he gets whatever he wants!
Doctor said they had a lot of cleaning out to do because there was a lot of infection in that area...even 3 or more inches above the wound. The infection was in the muscle, but not the bone.
Praise God it wasn't any worse than it was and pray that they can keep his pain under control. He is resting now after his pizza and has mashed potatoes and meat coming for dinner! Thanks for all of your prayers!
For the last 2 months Jeff has had an infection in his lower leg. Early on it was diagnosed and treated as cellulitis, then a place just below his ankle opened up and drained and drained. At the beginning of May we had it cultured and it was determined that it was a Staph infection. Since then (strayed taking them May 16th) he has been on 2 different kinds of antibiotics, but still has a major infection going on. The open sore is about the size of a nickel and while it isn't necessarily getting worse it isn't getting any better. Anyone have any suggestions (natural or medical)? We are being seen at the best hospital in our area and I feel like we are getting good care, but this isn't resolving. Most days the pain isn't much (as long as the area isn't touched), but some days it hurts him without any real visible change. I do have a picture of the hole if you want to see it, but it is kind of gross so I won't post it here. Please feel free to share with medical people and or PM me or email us at email@example.com
If you've ever wondered why we have stayed in Kenya after all of our sickness, after all of our troubles, after being chased from our home, after being physically attacked...
As a missionary it is hard to know how much to put the needs of our ministry out there. How many needs to communicate and how many posts about our...
Today we found what we consider to be an extreme case. 6 kids, the 2 youngest were left at home by themselves and when the other kids returned home, we discovered that they had not eaten all day...
On Thursday of last week while doing our main weekly shopping trip we ended up bringing one of the street boys home to live with us. Of course this wasn't planned, but this is Kenya and little that we plan actually happens, so no better time then right then 🙂. After doing some shopping for food items and walking out of one of our frequented supermarkets we heard "Jeff! Jeff! Jeff!", we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by 4 or 5 street boys. These boys are the same ones who manage to find us almost every time we are in Bungoma, but I will admit that we aren't hard to find because of our light skin color. They all started telling us they wanted to go to "shule", which is school in swahili, and they were hungry. Wayne, the one we ended up bringing home, was among the boys that was begging us for help. I was excited to see him because I hadn't seen him in a couple of weeks and the first time I met him, I just knew he was supposed to be here at Mercy Children's Home.
While standing outside the supermarket Jeff, Ray and myself are all looking at eachother and trying to quickly and quietly discuss bringing Wayne home. We are all in agreement so we get Nickson (mine and Jeff's driver and friend) to translate that he can come home with us, BUT no glue, he has to follow the rules, he has to go to school and if he leaves MCH he won't be allowed back. Wayne agreed and just like that he was ready to go.
So happy Thursday for us right? We were able (thanks to all those who support us) to pull another "parentless" child off the streets of Bungoma, bring him home, get him cleaned up, fed and registered for school. While this was a happy moment for us it also included a heartbreaking one.
While Wayne and his giant smile is trying to get on the motorbike and Ray is trying to get the bike out of the spot it is parked in, Eugene starts to get on as well. Nickson steps in and tries to explain to Eugene that he can't go today. Eugene just couldn't accept that and continued to try and get on over and over again. Jeff ended up having to hold a tearful little boy back so Ray could leave with Wayne.
Eugene, Eugene, we have spent a lot of time with him. He and Dan were close and he always finds us. I will be honest and say until last month I've said "nope not that one" about Eugene many, many times. Eugene's English is minimal, his behavior can be less than desirable, his glue habit seems to be severe and his situation is complicated. We have been told by Dan that Eugene has a home that he goes to every night, just no family that really cares, so he returns to the streets to beg every day. I just couldn't see Eugene working out here, but since we brought Dan home, I've really been able to see Eugene's heart. He always asks about Dan, asked me to make a video for Dan to see and even sent a green balloon home to him. It was then I was able to see past the glue and the annoying behaviors and just see a boy who needs someone on his side.
When will we go back for Eugene? Well Dan and Wayne are stable enough for us to bring home another street boy, but we are out of beds for boys. The boys dorm isn't finished yet, but Ray has graciously opened up his room to be the temporary boys dorm. Right now we have 5 boys sleeping in 4 beds in Ray's room and they are making it work. The temporary boys dorm could hold 2 more Mercy Beds, but we have an immediate need for 1 more before we can take in any more boys. The Mercy Bed (triple bunk bed) itself is costing us about $200 for materials and labor plus another $150 for the 3 mattresses. Once we have the funds to build another bed we will have the carpenter come back and get started on a bed for Eugene.
What a blessing it is to know that the stories of Dan, Wayne, Abigeal, Robai, Diana, Elica, Charity and Vivian are being changed. But at the same time it is heartbreaking to personally know many whose stories are not being changed but desperately need to be. We continue to pray and trust that God will complete the good work He has started here. Thank you to all of you who are a part of changing their story, I doubt you will ever fully know the incredible impact that you are having here. Your prayers are greatly appreciated and felt.