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We're Back from Nairobi!!

Today we arrived back home with our 2 visitors! It was an awesome day and we were blessed with easy and safe travels.

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Ironically enough two years ago today we were traveling the same roads to our new (temporary) home in Kenya. Happy 2 crazy blessed years to us! We had no clue what lay before us but we were as ready as we could be. For anyone who hasn't been following our story from the beginning let me recap "quickly".

•2011 Jeff began to talk about Africa
•2012 Jeff was still talking about Africa and I was a "maybe someday".
•2013 "Africa, Africa, Africa"-Jeff "Don't talk to me about Africa!"-Steph
•2014 Jeff started volunteering with AFM and attempted a trip to Kenya, but it was bad timing so he wasn't able to go.
•2015 "MAYBE, when all the kids are grown I will go to Africa so please stop talking to me about it!"-Steph 🤷🏻‍♂️-Jeff
•2016 Jeff was able to go to Kenya with DC Shelton for 10 days at the end of April. While Jeff was in Kenya God made it abundantly clear that I was to go to Kenya as soon as Jeff wanted to. 😭😭😭 (I REALLY, REALLY did NOT want to move to Kenya EVER, much less so soon.)
•May-November 2016 We sold everything we had and packed 45 bags to permanently move with our 7 youngest children to Kenya.
•December 2016 moved to Bungoma, Kenya.
•January 2017 Had the water well dug and started building our home.
•May 2017 started taking in children
•September-December 2017 many wrangles with the men we came here to work along side with, forcing us to leave our home and we were even put in jail for a short time.
•January 2018 we moved back home with the support of our village and our court case was closed.
•June 2018 Purchased the 1/2 acre our home is built on. (Yes this was done backwards and we learned a lot)
•October 2018 finished the boys' side of the home and painted the majority of the inside of our home! 😁😁😁
•November 2018 Enough funds to purchase the front part of our land was donated. 💜

So here we are 2 years in and I can't imagine living anywhere else. It hasn't always been easy and we have made mistakes along the way, but we have been SO blessed and learned a ton. We now have 90+ children living at Mercy Home, a staff of 20+, a church that meets here weekly and we 2 visitors!

Thank you! Thank you for allowing God to use you in the lives here in our small village. Thank you for caring for orphans and widows. Thank you for building 5 homes for widows and families who need help. Thank you for allowing Jeff to live out his passion by sharing and teaching the gospel. Thank you for loving our children, I can't even explain what that means to me!

I'm crazy excited about this next year! We are hoping to open a school and welcome more visitors! Come and see!

#kenya #james127 #changingtheirstory #changetheirstory#mercychildrenshome #orphansandwidows #nonprofit #aboutfacemissions#streetboycrisis #streetboynomore #missionarylife #missions


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Those who still want to give to our Christmas Mercy Home Celebration event, please click this Mercy Home button to visit our webpage and use the giving options there! God bless you!

And if you have not yet watched our full length documentary yet, what’s keeping you?? click here to watch it all!

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Back to Construction and kids available to sponsor now!

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Back to Construction and kids available to sponsor now!

posted on behalf of Stephanie Bys from Facebook.

new Ema full of joy

new Ema full of joy

As many of you know we now have a sponsorship program and instead of posting the whole album I thought I would share some individual pics and a little bit of their story. Below is Ema (long E) who is a former streetboy. Ema use to spend his days sniffing glue, stealing, begging for food and being chased away by adults. The first time I met Ema (picture in comments) I didn't understand why he was being chased by a security guard, why he was so dirty or why he was asking for money. My eyes were about to be opened and my heart was soon cracked wide open. Ema slept on the streets most nights until he come to MCH. Now Ema is in school getting and education and he never has to worry about food. If you would like to sponsor Ema just click his picture and comment "sponsored". Thank you for your prayers and support!

old Ema when we found him

old Ema when we found him


our new Minnie!

our new Minnie!

Our "tiny" Minnie girl needs a sponsor too! While you can't yet communicate back and forth with her yet we can certainly update you on her progress. Minnie came to us straight from the hospital, she had been hospitalized for 3 days due to malnourishment. She obviously isn't lacking in food any longer and has put on a lot of weight (check the comments for an old picture). She is such a sweet, happy baby and it is a blessing to love on her and watch her grow. Minnie is 6 months old and thriving here at Mercy Home. If you would like to sponsor Minnie just click on her picture and comment "sponsored". Please feel free to ask any and all questions you have.


Finally construction has begun on the boy's dorm room!

Currently, we have the boys in the girl's dorm room, and the girls are in a smaller room that will become the office/library/study. We will also begin the finishing phase of the boy's bathroom in the next few days.

A lot of dirt has to be removed before laying the floor.

A lot of dirt has to be removed before laying the floor.

Many of the rocks have to be broken up with a sledge hammer.

Many of the rocks have to be broken up with a sledge hammer.

The boys dorm room has progressed faster than I thought it would. A lot was done today despite our power issues which have caused us to not have enough water (no power, no water pump pumping) and delaying the construction team some. Tomorrow they should finish the first layer on the floors and all walls. Monday they will start the bathrooms! As much as I'm not a fan of living in a construction zone I can't tell you how exciting it is to be making progress after months of not. Thank you so much for all of your support! Praying, sharing and giving is what keeps us here in Kenya loving on these children, church members and our community. (Sorry for the terrible photos, it rained/got dark before I could get better pictures and we don't have all of the lights installed yet.)

 #aboutfacemissions #mercychildrenshome #james127#kenya #nonprofit #changingtheirstory

Most of the room has the first layer of cement down.

Most of the room has the first layer of cement down.

The next layer will be the smooth layer. Tomorrow the brick wall will be covered.

The next layer will be the smooth layer. Tomorrow the brick wall will be covered.

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Day of Love and Joy! Thank you!

posted for Stephanie from Facebook. 

Blessing of a wonderful donor to rebuild the Burungasi family a new home!

Blessing of a wonderful donor to rebuild the Burungasi family a new home!

Today has been a day full of L💜VE! We woke up to an email that a family donated $500 to send 4 children back to school and to provide them and their widowed Grandmother with an adequate home! What a huge blessing that is! Then we received a call that we had 3 bags of toys from America waiting for us in town. Today was like Christmas for Mercy Home! We have been hugely blessed and loved well!

 

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Cuddle

someone has a new friend. 

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Big Dreams can come true!

posted for Stephanie from Facebook

We were given some exciting news last night! After discussing our strong desire and love for the new property with the owners they have decided that we can secure and move into our new 7 acre property for $50,000 down. Then we would pay off the remaining $100,000 with 50k in 6 months and another 50k in one year.

Primary residence on campus

Primary residence on campus

So our plan right now is to raise $60,000 to secure this beautiful property. The additional $10,000 is to cover legal fees, moving cost, getting the transformer set up to bring power back to the entire property and a few small things that need to be replaced/repaired. Currently we have $15,000 of the $60,000 needed to call this place home. As soon as God has provided the first $50,000 we will enter a legal agreement and start the purchase process. The purchase process will take about a month, but paying the first $50,000 takes the property off of the market.
This is an amazing opportunity that we believe that God has called us to. Originally the property was listed at $800,000 so the price being offered to us is a total God thing. Also an interesting fact is that the previous ministry started shutting down right around the same time Jeff and I first felt the call to Kenya years ago. Since then it has mostly been sitting empty, I'm not saying that this home has been waiting for us, but maybe! 😁
We have a couple of online fundraisers open right now and we have a couple of more in the works. If you are willing to host a fundraiser for Mercy Children's Home please reach out to us and we can answer any questions you may have. We are also looking for donations to auction off in a Facebook group, no item is too big or small, I've seen small handmade items bring in a lot of money for other charities. While we are constantly asking for your help, we are really just asking for you to join in and experience this greatness with us! Not everyone can come and see or go and be, but everyone can do something and all of the "somethings" add up to life change. Life change is why God moved us to Kenya.
Thank you for your love and support. We are always sharing what God is doing through you with our people here. Just last night I was sent enough money to build a home for a large family currently sleeping on the wet ground in 2 different small huts. That is about God moving in the hearts of His people for His people and not about Jeff and Stephanie at all. We love you and thank you for caring for our children and community!
#aboutfacemissions #mercychildrenshome #kenya #nonprofit #james127#orpahnsandwidows #orphans #bungoma #changingtheirstory

Hospital included with campus!

Hospital included with campus!

guest house near main house

guest house near main house

2 building school campus with 10 classrooms! (prior location of Lavin Academy)

2 building school campus with 10 classrooms! (prior location of Lavin Academy)

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Our Sweet Minnie

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Goodness my life here in Kenya is so blessed! Our sweet Minnie is gaining weight so well and she has quite the sweet personality. She is all about smiling and she is starting to laugh. She is loved by everyone.

In case you have missed it we are raising funds for a 7 acre fully developed property that would house, educate (school) and provide medical care for us! We have 2 awesome Momma's hosting fundraisers for us right now through home based business. One party is for Norwex, chemical free cleaning products and the other is through Trades of Hope, they have all kinds of pretty things. Both sweet ladies will be donating their profits to help us buy this property. If you need help finding those groups (they are posted on my page) let me know and I can add you! Thank you for all of your prayers and support! Big things are happening here and Kenya because that how God works! We will continue to lean on Him and follow His will for Mercy Children's Home. #aboutfacemissions #mercychildrenshome #nonprofit #james127 #orphans#bungoma #kenya #streetboysnomore #thankyou #prayersplease

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5 more Praises to God!!

Introducing Samuel !  Who we intook directly from his crisis living situation to Bungoma West Hospital but he is now well and being introduced into our life at MCH!

Introducing Samuel !  Who we intook directly from his crisis living situation to Bungoma West Hospital but he is now well and being introduced into our life at MCH!

Mercy Home update!

1. Jeff's leg is A LOT better! Praise the Lord for that because once I realized we were dealing with MRSA I was freaked out about how long he had been walking around with this infection. I have a recent picture should you medical people want to see it.

2. ‎Samuel came home today! We were there when the Dr's were doing rounds this morning and one Dr said she didn't think Samuel would make it one more day when he first came in. It is such a blessing to get to see these children live and thrive. However, we now have a hospital expense of $820 to cover, but we know he is worth it and God will provide for Samuel.

Aspen, Silale and her twin Gracie! These girls are happy Silale is better.

Aspen, Silale and her twin Gracie! These girls are happy Silale is better.

3. ‎We didn't announce it, but we also had another little one in the hospital for a few days. Silale (See-La-Lay) had malaria and was treated at home, but she never fully bounced back. After taking her for testing it was discovered that she also had a bacterial infection and very low blood count so she needed to stay and get a blood transfusion. During her stay she was tested for HIV twice. Both test gave different answers, so her blood has been sent off for a 3rd test. Please pray that there would be no HIV found in her blood work. Please also pray for money to come in to cover all of these medical expenses, we've been hit extremely hard lately with 3 in the hospital, one of those 3 required surgery and we've had a lot of dental work done. The only money we have to pull from is our weekly budget and land/finish Mercy Home fund. We are trusting God to cover these funds as we believe that each child here was brought to us by God. All while He knew their exact needs, so we continue to trust and follow Him.

4. Our 3 little babies we took in are doing great! Minnie is gaining weight daily, she is no longer malnourished and she is even getting a little chunky. Gracious and Joy are eating and responding so well! Both girls are interacting with us more and more and they never turn away food.

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5. We have been hugely blessed with a new sponsor, a business that has committed to supporting Mercy Home monthly! We have been praying for our donor base to grow and God is answering that prayer. You will now see their logo on our newsletters and website in recognition of their love. A huge thank you, which is never enough, goes out to Mike Mazyck Realty of North Texas! Anyone who has a business and wants to sponsor any of AFM Ministry's work can do so by contacting David at david@afm.ngo for more information.

Thank you for following along, loving us, sharing our journey and giving when the Lord guides you to. The children you are supporting here are worth every single penny!

Added note from DC Shelton: We also want to shout out a huge THANK YOU for our other two business sponsors who have been helping us for months now, Charity Center Kenya, and Five Plus Two Ministries that you will now see on our website and email updates! Thank you all who give, whether $5 or $5000 You are helping us change lives and literally save lives in Kenya for Jesus! We need you all to do this well. 

#aboutfacemissions #mercychildrenshome #james127 #orphans #kenya#bungoma #nonprofit

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WELCOME to our new Samuel!

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Samuel has been a "Mercy Home Kiddo" for 3 days now, but he has yet to come to Mercy Home because he is sick and in the hospital. On Wednesday we received a call from a doctor at a local government hospital. She told us that she had a boy who was 7 years old, HIV+ and in great need. So with that information we sent our social worker to the hospital to check out his situation. Once she arrived at the hospital and got a bit of information we learned that this boy needed help quickly. Help his grandparents couldn't give him. His grandfather said he couldn't afford the medications needed, couldn't keep up with the HIV medications he was on (he hadn't taken them in at least 2 months), couldn't get the blood transfusion the hospital said he needed (this hospital wasn't even equipped to do it either) so he was going to take Sweet Samuel back home and drop him off with his sick grandmother.

Our Sweet Samuel was going to be left at home to die. So what do you do when faced with getting him the care he desperately needs, which will cost us (Mercy Home) a great deal of money or allowing him to return home and die? I know that sounds harsh, but that was literally our reality on Wednesday. Everyone I know would choose life, just like we did on Wednesday. Samuel has had all the odds stacked against him...he's a double orphan, HIV+, severely malnourished (he weighs 14 kgs or 30 lbs) and he lived with elderly grandparents who don't understand and can't keep up with the medications and nutrition that an HIV patient requires.

Since being at the hospital it has been confirmed that he has malaria, his blood count is in fact extremely low causing him to need 2 bags of blood, he has thrush in his mouth causing painful open sores and he has about 6 new medications in addition to his 3 HIV medications. If Samuel didn't get the care he needed he would have died. He was too sick with a weakened immune system and severely malnourished. His body couldn't just bounce back from this without medical intervention.

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So thank you! Thank you for putting us in a position where we could consider stepping in and changing the direction Samuel's life was headed. Thank you for listening to the Lord and helping us meet the needs of these children time and time again. If you would like to help us cover Sweet Samuel's hospital bill (we do not have a total yet, but we assume it will be $300-$500+) you can go to afm.ngo/donate and mark it for Samuel or Mercy medical.

We have been quiet the last couple of days because Jeff and I both have had malaria, but we've been so busy we haven't been able to just rest. The moment we can we fall asleep and we (and by we I mean me ;) have a 2 month-old who still wakes up in the middle of the night. Praise God that malaria isn't near as harsh on us as it used to be. We are bouncing back much faster and able to keep working at some level during our sickness! Thank you a million times more for your prayers, support and love for Mercy Children's Home!

#aboutfacemissions #mercychildrenshome #orphans #james127 #theleastofthese #hivpositive #thankyouforgivingtotheLord #kenya #bungoma #nonprofit

(Samuel is feeling much better today and will be released tomorrow morning to come home! we also still need to retire our $2400 debt for Jeff's medical bills that we had to borrow from our construction land fund. Pray about about anything you can do to help us meet these two important needs) 

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Mercy Home PRAISES and prayer request!

Minnie loves to smile at us! Our pretty girl is chunking up.

Minnie loves to smile at us! Our pretty girl is chunking up.

🎶PRAISES!🎶
*Minnie is doing great! She eats well and has out grown her diapers that were too big on her when we got her. She is responding to us with smiles and she starting to "talk" to us.

*The twins are doing phenomenal! Today for breakfast they each ate 3 eggs, a banana and they drank some chai. They are eating so good! Gracious is trying to crawl and Joy wears the biggest smile most of the time.

*Wesley is gaining his strength back and laughing and interacting with our other children. Before coming here he had basically given up on life so he had a hard transition, then was hospitalized for 10 days, then more hard transition. But he is coming around and I see Joy in his face on a regular basis now.

*Praise God for all of the help and advice we received when asking about Jeff's leg. It was very helpful and instrumental in getting him the care he needed.

*Jeff is home! He was in the hospital Wednesday through Saturday, but it felt like a month to me 😂. I'm so glad he's feeling better and back home. His wound is very clean now and for the most part the infection is gone and the pain has lessened.

*Jeff has been battling this infection for months, it turned out to be MRSA and in all honesty it could have caused his lower leg to be amputated or it could have killed him. Thank God for his protection.

*We have added 2 new staff members this week. Both are young men who are new believers from our local village. Jeff has been discipling them and this will allow him to spend more time with them.

*We have visitors coming again this year!!!💜😍💜


💜Prayer Requests💜

*Jeff's leg would continue to respond to treatment and he would have complete healing.

*Jeff and I need to return to Nairobi soon to check in with immigration. Please pray for safe travels and health and safety in our home while we are gone.

*Jeff's medical bill was double what we thought it would be😮. $1,426.40 for surgery, meds and his care for 3 days. We are incredibly grateful for his care and realize this same situation in America would have cost $25,000 or more. We need prayers for funds to cover this bill so it doesn't pull from our weekly budget or finishing the unfinished dorm room.

Joy, her big beautiful smile and Aspen! Aspen has just fallen in love with Joy and Gracious. Today she decided that she could change their diapers and clothes. I must say she did an outstanding job!

Joy, her big beautiful smile and Aspen! Aspen has just fallen in love with Joy and Gracious. Today she decided that she could change their diapers and clothes. I must say she did an outstanding job!

*The 2 new staff members are new believers and previously struggled with drinking too much. Please pray that they would continue to grow in the Lord.

*We've been made aware of 3 children from 2 different families who have been orphaned that need to come here. 2 of those children are HIV+ one of them just 3 years old. Please pray for them and for wisdom for us and that funds would be provided if they are to be here with us.

*We have some important decisions to make about future ministry work here. Please pray that the Lord would make His will known to us and order our steps.

Thank you for sharing in our joys and supporting us through prayers, donations and sharing our posts. Thank you for blessing the lives of these children and our village. 💜
#aboutfacemissions #mercychildrenshome #james127 #changingtheirstory#orphans #praisetheLord #kenya #bungoma #prayersplease #blessings

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Progress on Jeff's treatment!

Amenities😂. Slippers, toilet paper, toothbrush, Colgate (any brand of tooth paste is Colgate here), body soap, mafuta (Vaseline) and a bath towel (it is the size of a hand towel). Oh and if you run out of any of these things during your stay you are required to purchase your own 😂😂😂.

Amenities😂. Slippers, toilet paper, toothbrush, Colgate (any brand of tooth paste is Colgate here), body soap, mafuta (Vaseline) and a bath towel (it is the size of a hand towel). Oh and if you run out of any of these things during your stay you are required to purchase your own 😂😂😂.

We've had a busy day. We left the house at 8:15 so we could get to the hospital early. Not only were we getting Jeff's leg checked out, but we had 4 children needing dental work done ($260 worth) and Karson has something going on with one of his toes. At the hospital we go to we are well known. The head Dr and owner of the hospital has even donated food and money to us, he is a really nice man.

The first doctor we met with looked at Jeff's leg and ordered antibiotic injections (basically an IV, but he would be able to go home) once we got to the pharmacy (at the hospital) I realized he wrote the Rx for 1 per day for 10 days. That was not the advice that our friends told us so Jeff called the head doctor and we headed to his office.

Jeff's cozy room. There are 2 beds, but they won't put anyone in with him, usually I would stay with him, but babies need me this time!

Jeff's cozy room. There are 2 beds, but they won't put anyone in with him, usually I would stay with him, but babies need me this time!

Head doctor said Jeff need to be admitted so they could clean out the wound and do 3 days of IV antibiotics. He also called another doctor on staff to come and look at his leg and she agreed with him. So we left the hospital to come home and get his things and took him back.

His IV port is in, they took some blood and have him his first round of antibiotics. I'm sure he will sleep well tonight, Kenya hospitals are not like American hospitals. Jeff isn't hooked up to any machines and they are pretty much hands off unless you call them or they need to give you medication. Often times they will leave some of your medications with you and just tell you how often to take it. 😂

So we are expecting this bill to be about $700, but it could always be higher. We've never had a wound cleaned out, but I do know they are going to use local anesthetic and it will happen in "theater" so I'm sure that will add some cost.

All in all Jeff is doing well and God is so good. He's had this spot under his ankle for a long time, he even stood in a dirty creek baptizing new believers with this open wound. Not smart I know, but he was on antibiotics so we figured it would be "okay". This infection could have easily caused a lot more damage than it has.

Toilet, shower and sink all in one small space. Notice there is no toilet seat/kid, that is the Kenyan way.

Toilet, shower and sink all in one small space. Notice there is no toilet seat/kid, that is the Kenyan way.

The shower side and for the most part they keep this hospital very clean!

The shower side and for the most part they keep this hospital very clean!

Thank you for all of your advice, love, prayers and support! If you are able to help us cover this medical bill just mark it for Jeff's medical and it will get applied to that. I will update more tomorrow once we have talked to the doctors.
(If you open each picture there is a description)

#aboutfacemissions #mercychildrenshome #changingtheirstory #kenya#nonprofit #james127 #bungoma #theleastofthese #streetboycrisis #streetboys #orphans #prayersplease

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Gracious and Joy are growing, joyfully and graciously!

our little girl Joy! 

our little girl Joy! 

Look at these happy girls! They are finally "waking up" and showing us their sweet personalities! They were so expressionless and they are developmentally delayed (due to malnutrition) so I was starting to get concerned, but over the last couple of days they have flashing quick smiles for us. Today they have been all smiles! It is such a blessing to get to watch our children grow and change!

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Gracious loves to be held and she loves Brendan!

Gracious loves to be held and she loves Brendan!

 

A beautiful sight!  

The "little" boys are helping Daddy play a game before bed! 😍😍😍
#mercychildrenshome #aboutfacemissions #kenya #nonprofit #james127#bungoma #theleastofthese #orphans #orphansandwidows

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Singing God's praises for His wonderful blessings

(Posted on behalf of Stephanie Bys from Facebook)

🎶Praise God from whom all blessings flow!🎶

Praise #1-Anna and Mercy (the 2 teens) started school today! I don't have a pic of them in uniform because they didn't get them until after we left, but I should be able to get one in a few days!

Praise #2-We had more than enough money donated to pay for all of their books and supplies and the school under estimated the cost of all the boarding supplies so we spent more than the $600 per girl.

Praise #3-The donated overage will cover a pretty big medical bill we unexpectedly had and some dental work that our children desperately need.

Praise #4-We have a new daughter named Bridgette! Bridgette is a sweet girl who has sickle cell anemia. She came to us during a sickle cell crisis and was required to spend 5 days in the hospital. Sickle cell can be managed, but her family couldn't afford the $2 a month to keep her on vitamins or the proper food. Medical care here is realitivly inexpensive, but if you are admitted to the hospital it can get expensive quickly.

Praise #5-God is good all the time! I will say that in the easy times and the hard times because it is true! On the hardest days we are so blessed to live in Kenya and serve Him!

Thank you for your prayers and support! You have had an impact here bigger than you know!

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(Posted on behalf of Stephanie from Facebook)

I was going to wait until tomorrow to post this but I just couldn't! When I got home from getting the big girls into school Minnie had the cutest bow on! Our sweet, beautiful Caitie crocheted it for her today with the yarn one of our sweet supporters donated funds for! So much love in this one picture! 😍
#aboutfacemissions #mercychildrenshome#changingtheirstory #kenya #nonprofit #james127#bungoma #theleastofthese #orphans #crochet#love

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One down. One to go!

(posted from FB on behalf of Stephanie Bys)

Mercy's (Mama of the twins) school fees have been paid 100%!  She will start school on Monday morning.

Mercy,  the teen mother of our twins Joy and Gracious. 

Mercy,  the teen mother of our twins Joy and Gracious. 

This is Anna, 16 yrs old and mother to the baby we now call Minnie. We are trying to get the needed funds for her to start Monday. 

This is Anna, 16 yrs old and mother to the baby we now call Minnie. We are trying to get the needed funds for her to start Monday. 

At this point Anna will not be able to attend because the $600 hasn't been donated for her. For these 2 girls this could be a life changing situation. Their family is poor, not American poor, literally no food in the house poor. Their families don't have power in the home which makes studying hard since they don't get out of school until 5pm or later. They are likely the most educated (freshman in high school) in that home, leaving no one to help tutor them when they stuck on school work. They often feel the burden of no money and no food and will skip on school and school work to try and earn some money for the family. Their babies almost died because they weren't being fed properly. The grandfather to the 1 year old twins said if it wasn't for us they would be burying those babies. I can't even imagine that being a reality.

All 3 babies were hospitalized for malnutrition. All 3 babies are are doing better and gaining weight now. Can you help change this 16 year old's story? Can you help her go back to school so she can do something in the future besides struggle? I realize $600 is a lot of money, but that is what she needs to go to school and get back on the right track. If we can get that amount donated TODAY we can shop for the items needed tomorrow and she can start school with Mercy on Monday!

Please pray and share! Thank you for all of your support. 💜💜💜

#aboutfacemissions #mercychildrenshome #changingtheirstory #kenya #nonprofit #james127#thankyou #orphans #bungoma #theleastofthese #prayersplease


Update! $300 is being sent in right now! Can we get the other $300 before tomorrow so I can shop for both of them after church?


UPDATE #2! We've had another $100 donated so we now just need $200 for Anna to start school on Monday. 💜💜💜


UPDATE #3! A third donor has donated another $100! We are just $100 away from Anna starting school on Monday! It is 10:30pm here and I'm sick so I'm about to go to sleep, but I will update y'all tomorrow, hopefully from town while I'm shopping for both girls' supplies! 

♫♪ Praise God from whom all blessing flow! ♫♪♪

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Let's talk...

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Let's talk...

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...

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Why Me?

Yesterday was a total "why me?" day. Over the last few days it has been more and more in our face that we are literally living our dream. It is a crazy thing to realize that you had a desire and that God gave you the go-ahead and created a way to make it happen. It is also a huge responsibility that I don't take lightly. Several years ago I told Jeff that I wanted to have a group home for children, and today workers are diligently working to roof Mercy Children's home.But yesterday; yesterday started out like all of our days do. We got up, got ready and waited some. Most of the time in Kenya you can make plans, but the reality is that they will happen later than you planned. After morning chai we jumped on the boda boda and headed to the school in Sang'alo. Our plan was to bandage up Elijah's foot and take Chris to the Dr to get a treatment plan started. Chris is a student at the school in Sang'alo and he has some serious health issues going on. We had a precious donor send in $300 specifically for his treatment so we are tackling that and trying to get a long term treatment plan together.

When we arrived at the school the children's heads were being shaved and treated for ringworm. Ringworm is pretty common here and spreads from child to child quickly. It is mostly found on their heads, the easiest way to get rid of it is to shave the head and apply the ointment all over. So instead of heading straight into Bungoma we stayed in Sang'alo for a couple of hours, gave some hair cuts, loved on some babies, spoke to a grandmother about her beautiful granddaughter coming to stay with us and ate lunch. During lunch Pastor Calistus informed us that Robai had missed a couple of days of school and had passed out. He didn't want to tell us because he said nothing could be done, because she missed a dose or 2 of her HIV meds so this is normal.

So what's this "Why me?" about? Well after yesterday I was really doubting myself and honestly, God. While I know He is perfect and makes no mistakes I was feeling like maybe he did in sending me here. Who am I? Why me? In the grand scheme of things I'm nobody. I'm not qualified for this at all. I'm not a Dr., not a social worker, not a specialist of any kind...as a matter of fact I don't even consider myself book smart at all. But here I am living in Kenya with often a suffocating amount of responsibility. Often a burden so big that I just don't know how it will happen, but in my heart of hearts I just can't accept that it can't happen. I know I serve a great big God and I know that is why I can't accept that it (help/change) can't happen. Now let me give you a little snap shot of my day. This won't be a line by line of all the things that burdened me, but the ones that hurt the most.

1st "why me?" of the day...as hair cuts were being done in Sang'alo there was a little boy who was so dirty they were having a hard time cutting his hair off of his head. He had an open sore on the front of his leg that the Dr said was due to lack of hygiene. It was obvious that this child hadn't bathed in weeks. This was so sad to me, it actually made me mad a little bit...this poor little boy was filthy yet hadn't been helped by anyone.

2nd "why me?" ...As I sat in a plastic chair in the shade Pastor Calistus sat a Grandmother down right across from me asking if her granddaughter needs to come and live with us. While I couldn't understand the Swahili they were speaking I knew what was happening. Her eyes (I don't think I will forget them ever) but she said yes, that her sweet Epikai who is HIV+ needs to come and stay with us. Her situation is so dire that her Grandmother was able to make that decision on the spot.

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3rd "why me?" ...being notified that Robai had passed out and apparently that is thought of as normal in her situation. In my heart of hearts I know she needed to be seen by a Dr. I'm also fairly sure she needed at least some IV fluids. Why is her situation such that if she misses a dose or two of meds she passes out? Does she need more meds? Is she on the right meds? She has constantly been on my mind and now more so. I need her home so we can dig deeper and get her healthy.

4th "why me?" of this long day...when the Dr. checked Elijah out he said he needed oral and topical antibiotics due to his foot infection and I had those for him, but he also needed to be seen by a dentist for issues with a tooth. Elijah's Mom is a widow with many children and hasn't been able to afford his medical needs. So we took him to the dentist while his Mom stayed behind and worked. Elijah had a tooth pulled yesterday without his Momma there. I'm glad that he is on the road to healing, but my heart breaks for his Mom and her situation.

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5th "why me?" ...Chris; his situation is so bad. There really is no way to sugar coat it, the child is in bad condition. He has sickle cell and that hasn't been treated properly. Now he needs surgery, but right now he isn't even stable enough for surgery. His family has known since 2016 that he needs surgery, but they simply don't have the money. In Kenya the full bill has to be paid before you leave, they will not bill you later.

These events left me broken, with tears in my eyes and wondering "why me?". I'm just a Momma from Texas with big dreams that everyone can be saved and helped. But can they really? My heart says save them all and my head says that's just not possible.

I guess in the end on the hard days I need to remeber that I was chosen. God knows things about me that I do not. He sees strength that I'm not aware of. He knows that my heart is big enough and that I will obey Him. He did choose me and by doing so He has tremendously blessed me. I've never loved life more than I do right now.

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Our Biggest Need

Some have asked what our biggest need is, so I thought I would answer here. The simple answer is...support. Google defines support as to "bear all or part of the weight of; hold up." We need you to bear part of the weight that is on our shoulders, walk along side us even if 9,000 miles separate us.

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First and foremost we need your support through prayers. We need to know that y'all care enough about our mission to call upon God for us. We need to know you are praying for the work that He has us here doing and that while we are here fighting some spiritual warfare we have people praying us through that. We need to know that y'all are praying for hearts to be prepared and softened. We need to know that y'all are praying for smooth transitions when moving a child from one home to the next. We need to know that prayers are going up for Mercy Children'sHome that is being built and so close to being completed. This home is a huge task, one that we don't take lightly and there are SO many details and decisions to be made and considered. This mission will never be accomplished by our own strength, we are depending on God and your prayers.

No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me. - Charles Spurgeon

Another way we need support is to know that we haven't been forgotten. Being 9,000 miles away and 9 hours ahead of our friends and family can be hard. We miss you everyday, even if we didn't see you often when we lived in Texas. We are now very aware of just how little (if ever again) we will see y'all. Being 9 hours ahead makes phone calls tricky sometimes, especially if work or school is involed, but we can and will make it work if you would like to talk to us. I can't explain what a quick Facebook or email message means to us, but it for sure lets us know that you haven't forgotten us. I'm not talking about a pat on our back, we aren't here for that, but just something quick letting us know you are thinking about and or praying for us.

Aside from prayer, encouragement is the biggest way you can support us. I know we post a lot about the fun we have and the joy that the children bring, but some days are hard. Some days you just want to see and hug your loved ones. Some days you just really want sweet iced tea, electrical power (full time) and some air-conditioning. Some days are really hard here and you feel like a failure and wonder why God wanted to send you here. Some days you question God..."Are you sure You wanted me to go?" Living so far away from your support system can be extremely hard. So when we make posts asking for extra prayers, talking about missing family or feeling like we aren't getting enough done we need encouragement. We need scripture "shoved in our face" if you will, as a reminder. Please don't encourage us to come "home", we are home because we know that this is where God wants us. However we are human and fall short. Sometimes we just need a "kick in the pants" to get back on track! With Tammara and Ray here now I feel like often we can be that voice of reason for each other, but I try hard to be open and show both sides of this journey, because it isn't all smiles and joy.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Our family is very grateful for your prayers and support! Thank you for coming along side us and helping us do what God has called us to do. 3 months in Kenya and I truly can't imagine living anywhere else. The children here really do bring so much joy, but often their situations bring heartache. My prayer is that we can help them all, even if it takes longer than my lifetime.

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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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My Selfish Post

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My Selfish Post

This is a totally selfish post, but I feel like I need to reach out and ask for more specific prayers.Earlier this week I posted a photo on my Facebook of a very small pencil and yellow crayon in a 4 year old's hand. This sweet little girl attends Mercy Foundation Academy across the street from Mercy Children's Home. On that day we were just hanging out in the office at the school and she had come in to see us. She pulled out her book to show us how she could write and color. I saw her writing on the paper, but didn't see her pencil, upon further investigation I saw just how tiny her pencil was. Then she showed us how she could color...she sat her dot of a crayon on the paper and pushed it back and forth with her finger. In a very unexpected way this hit me hard. Just the day before I had seen pencils for sale for 5 cents, but yet her family couldn't afford to get her a new one. So I'm in this small room with about 15 other people and I just want to cry for her, for her situation, for her Momma who knows her daughter needs a new pencil, but can't afford to replace it. I want to cry because honestly before that moment I just assumed all the kids had what they needed for school. I can't even tell you how many pencils I have had my own kids throw away because they were "too short" and they were much longer than hers.

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A few days after this we met and talked to a group of street boys. During the time we were talking to them I could see the filth on their clothes, the sadness in their eyes, their shoeless feet, the glue that they are constantly inhaling to avoid feeling hunger pains and their extreme need for a loving home. If you haven't seen my post on Facebook about this you might be thinking these are all older teen boys, but you are wrong, these boys range from 7 to 13...let that sink in for a minute. 7, 8, 9 and 10 year olds living on the streets of Bungoma not knowing where their next meal will come from, not having clean clothes, not having shoes to protect their feet from the hot ground and not having a place to shower and wash the dirt off of their young bodies. Again this situation leaves me heartbroken, as a Momma leaving these boys on the street is so incredibly hard. They need a home.

In a previous post we told you about Robai, a young girl who we briefly met at the youth conference in Sang'alo shortly after we moved to Kenya. Something about her just spoke to my Momma heart while we were there. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but I had snapped a few pictures of her and returned to look at them frequently. About a month later we learned from Calistus, the pastor at Sang'alo church, that she needed a home. He sent over a picture of her and I immediately said "I know her!". This week were able to return to Sang'alo, while we were there we visited the school there and were able to meet and talk with Robai and her Grandmother. Both her mother and father have passed away from AIDS, she is HIV positive, she lives with her Grandmother, Victoria, who is widowed and Victoria can't actually afford to provide proper food for Robai. While we were visiting Robai we noticed that she had some small bumps on her arms and face. When we inquired about theses bumps we were told that because of her condition, when Robai doesn't eat fruits and vegetables every day she gets these all over her body. That absolutely broke my heart. I can't imagine being her Grandmother and knowing that Robai NEEDS fruits and veggies, but not being able to provide that for her. As we were talking to Victoria she said "if we can take this girl it would be a big blessing"...my eyes welled up with tears because that is A LOT of love to have to allow her to go and live at the children's home just so she can have her basic needs met. Robai was able to go and eat lunch with us and we able to buy her a bag of fruits and vegetables to get her through for a few days. Again I had to walk away and leave another child in a bad situation. I am so thankful that she has a house to sleep in and a loving Grandmother to love and care for her, but that just isnt enough for Robai. Sweet Robai needs to be at Mercy Children's home now, but it isn't ready for her.

So how is this post selfish? I need prayers that my heart can keep taking hit after hit and still hold up. It is hard knowing that we will have a place to take in kids, but not yet because we still need a good bit of money to finish building Mercy Children's Home. It is so incredibly hard knowing that small children are sleeping on the streets, small children literally beg for scraps of food and gladly will take your leftovers. It is hard knowing that children in school are writing with pencils so small that you can't even see it once they wrap their tiny hand around it to write. Please pray that I will be patient. Deep down I know God has this and I know God didn't bring us to Bungoma to build two-thirds of an orphanage. I know that in time all the kids at Mercy Foundation Academy will have the proper supplies needed and uniforms that aren't riddled with holes and tears. Please pray for my attitude. I try to be happy and upbeat, but deep down I'm struggling with the home not being done yet. I need this home done so we can start helping these kids instead of just knowing about them. Honestly I could care less about having a home for us, this is about helping kids who need to be in a better situation. What good is it to know about all these needs without action to help fix the needs? Lastly, please pray that I will "be still and know". I need to be still and know that God has us right here with an unfinished children's home for a reason.

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How to Change Their Story

Since we aren't fully funded for Mercy Children's Home and we are close to being able to take in orphans, it got me to thinking. I was trying to come up with a way to help others see that a little bit of American money goes farther in Kenya than it does in America. I think when some people hear that we need support to run an orphanage all they see are $ signs. So I did some math and if my calculations are correct Jeff and I have a total of 973 different friends on Facebook. If each person on our Facebook would sign up to donate $10 a month to support the orphans and widows in Kenya that would be $9730 a month! So much could be done in our community among the poorest of the poor with that kind of money! Do you know that $10 a month can and will make a difference? Do you know how many orphans and widows would be helped with that amount of money? Wow! Jeff and I have this dream that what we are calling a children's home will actually be much more than that. We hope that this home will house widows. We actually already have plans to build several rooms, apartments if you will, around the outside of the house specifically for widows. We also see this home being a place of teaching and training for pastor's and church leaders in the area. We are hoping it will become a place for others to come and see the work that God is doing here in Kenya. Come and see these beautiful smiles and take chai with them. Come and see that their lives are being changed with your help. We also plan for it to become a base of operations from which we can go out from to reach many unreached people groups in Africa. 

Another thing we would like to do is start a weekly meeting with the "street boys" that we often see in town. For security reasons this won't happen at the orphanage, but we would like to start a weekly Bible study with them. At this weekly meeting Jeff, Ray and one of the local pastors would take them food, teach them a little about the Bible and figure out ways to help them get off of the streets. Perhaps many of them can come to live with us. While it won't take much money to make this happen, it still requires some money and since we aren't fully funded we can't commit to this yet.

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So you might be thinking $10? What can my $10 a month do? Well let me show you a few different things that your 10 American dollars can provide to orphans and widows in Kenya. $10 will get you any of the following here:

60 giant avocados or 100 smaller ones 7-10 heads of cabbage 3 pairs of shoes 7 lbs of beef from the butcher 5 Watermelons 100 Oranges 7 Pineapples 300 Bananas 200 tomatoes 10kg beans 12kg rice 40kg Ugali 12 liters milk 200 onions 10 loaves of bread 3 jars of peanut butter

My question to you is can you find $10 a month in your budget to change their story? Will you help these children that have lost one or in many cases both parents? Will you help the lady who has 4 or more children and is facing life without her husband and his income because of his death? $10 by American standards isn't much to most, but it can have a huge impact here.

If you are currently donating monthly (many above $10) or have donated with one time or multiple gifts, thank you! I can't say that enough. You have no idea what it means to our family to have friends and family partner with us to help with this mission God has given us. You are helping change their story. Robai will no longer have to worry where her next meal will come from. Her grandmother will no longer lose sleep having to worry if Robai will have her school fees paid for.

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Did you know that 95% of your donations are going straight to helping orphans and widows? Jeff and I don't receive a salary from AFM to do this (only money sent for our living expenses) and AFM has an all volunteer staff and board. The 5% that "goes missing" from you donation is to cover book keeping and the fees to send money monthly.

Here is my request, if you can find or create just $10 in your budget go to the link below right now and set up your monthly partnership. Please do it right now while this is fresh on your mind and heart. I know we are all busy people, I forget things all the time. AFM has made the donation/partnership process quick and easy for you. Thank you and God bless you!

Click here to set up your donation

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Change Robai's Story

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We thank God! Land has been secured and construction has begun on AFM Mercy Children's Home. After 4 days of construction, the site has been secured with a barbed-wire fence, a storage shed has been constructed for housing building supplies, a kitchen area has been built to cook for the workers, a trench has been dug around the building site for a security wall for the home, and construction of the wall has begun. So much done in just 4 days! Today, 48 men were helping build! A real blessing for so many families represented by those men. Many have nothing right now due to the dry season and so little work available.

God willing, we will be able to move into the new home in about 3 weeks! Not everything will be complete by then. However, the living quarters should be far enough along at that point for us to move in. Just in time for the arrival of our dear friends the Moreno's! They too have sold everything and are partnering with us to build and run the orphanage.

Moving into the orphan home in 3 weeks means we should be ready to start moving orphans into the home in about 5 weeks. That being the case, we have spent much time in prayer asking God for wisdom on how to select which orphans to take in. While the need is very great here and our goal for this year is to be able to care for 80-100 orphans, we feel it is best to start with about 10. We have also met with the pastors of the JFM churches here in Bungoma county. These are the churches that AFM partners with here in Bungoma, Kenya and have been so instrumental in helping us get to this point. These pastors, led by Bishop Kennedy Simiyu, are helping us gather information on orphans in their churches and communities they serve in order to help us prioritize the needs. This part is very tough. It is one thing to know that there are kids in the world who are struggling just to survive. It is another thing to know so many of them personally and know that you can only care for some of them.

One of the children that will be coming to live with us is Robai. She is 8 years-old and is HIV positive. Both of her parents died from AIDS. She is currently living with her grandmother, Victoria, an elderly widow that recently broke her leg and her hand. Both she and Robai currently live in extreme poverty. Robai also has a brother named Boniface who ran away from Victoria's home. She believes he is living on the streets of Eldoret. We will attempt to locate him soon. These are just some of the stories that we intend to change.

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Steph happened to take this video of Robai at an outdoor preaching and worship event in Sang'alo before we knew she would be coming to live with us. She is dancing in the white, yellow, and brown dress.

We are so very thankful for those God has led to partner with us in prayer and support. God is doing the work, we all simply obey. AFM president David Shelton, the AFM staff, the Moreno's, Juliana Tovar, JFM Bishop Kennedy, JFM pastors Godfrey, Leonard, Tobias, Calistus, Kennedy, Edwin, Evans, and Nelson, the workers building the orphanage, and so many others who are supporting this mission. We all have our part to play in this. Individually, I don't think any of us could hope to accomplish much. But together, we can accomplish great things in the Lord!

Currently, we are about $900/month short on our monthly operating budget needs. Please prayerfully consider whether you would like to help us in this mission financially. We are willing to take in as many orphans as God will allow. Perhaps you can help us change their stories. If you have previously pledged to help, but have not yet set up your monthly donation, now is the time. We are 5 weeks away from taking in orphans! Please click here for more info and to donate.

 

 

 

 

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