Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Art of “Being” Versus the Compulsion to “Do”

Read Psalm 37:1-9
These versus tell us three times not to fret and give instructions using these verbs: trust, delight, commit, be still, wait patiently, refrain from anger! If we don’t fret we will get to know the desires of our heart, he will make our righteousness shine like the sun and we will inherit the kingdom of heaven. It actually makes fretting sound pretty pathetic! It gently tells us how to just “be” in the presence of the Lord.
Being does not come easy to me as I’ve always equated it with laziness. However, my Bible Study started a new book called “Women of Balance,” and the first lesson talks about finding balance between being and doing.
Growing up in a developed country one learns that doing is the path to success and we have all kinds of gadgets to make our doing easier. Oddly enough, the gadgets make me so efficient that I can fit more doing into my schedule.
In Kenya, I am often just as busy, but am forced in a state of being by events beyond my control. There are many events that can force one into a state of being, the list includes but is not limited to:
1.     Rolling black outs – they are often announced days in advance in the newspaper which says the power will be out from 9 am until 5 pm. The last power outage was from about 10 pm to 10 pm to following day…yeah that’s right, 24 hours!
·      On black out days, I either have to wade through the sea of humanity at the only cyber with a generator in Ngong, or if its not that important, I spend the day at home being less productive, but more peaceful. There is nothing like cooking and eating by candlelight!
2.     Inefficient public transport – some matatus on my route jump the queue and arrive at my stage empty…so they wait at each stage for about 5 minutes instead of stopping only long enough to drop off and pick up passangers. This can increase your travel time by half and hour!
·      When I remember that I have no control over when I’m going to arrive at my destination…I let myself just be. Sometimes I use the time to pray, or I strike up a conversation with my seatmate and sometimes I just sit and look out the window and marvel at my place in God’s beautiful world.
3.     Supermarket lines – I’m not sure why supermarket lines in Kenya are so slow, sometimes their computers go offline, other time there is a power outage and the computer system has to switch to the generator system, sometimes the person in front of you pays with a credit card which requires them to go to the customer service desk to pay and then come back to the line to finish their transaction.
·      Normally one doesn’t have the time to talk to the person in front of behind you in line. But I have made quite a few friends in the supermarket line because we are forced to stand there for a ridiculously long time. Humans, being relational creatures, eventual one will speak and then before long you realize this stranger could actually be a friend and not too long after that you’ve exchanged phone numbers and arranged to have coffee. Being requires that you don’t get hot headed and change lines before you get to that far.
4.     Traffic jams: Referred to affectionately as “jams,” these miles long pile up of cars happen because Kenya’s roads are too narrow and there are no turn lanes. Not to mention that quite a large portion of what passes for vehicles in Kenya are not road worthy.
·      It’s just God’s way of giving you extra hours within the day to pray, not only for deliverance from the insanity of the jam, but also to express your gratefulness for what God has done to and through you during the day.
5.     Kenyan time: i.e. one to two hours later than the time set for a meeting/function, etc. A perfect example of this (and number 4) is when the first ever Kenyan Presidential Debate started almost 2 hours late because one of the candidates was stuck in a jam!
·      Even weddings start late here. I have to admit I’m not very good at being when I know someone is running on Kenya time, because they are wasting my time. This however is an opportunity to pray for patience and thank God for calling me to Kenya…and reminding myself I said yes to God and that Kenyan time is part of that bargain.
6.     My new personal forced state of being is Baby Tamara. Her needs trump anything else I’m doing and force me to sit or walk with her and just be!
·      This is my favorite state of forced being! I think about how wonderful my unconventional family is. I marvel at how God works and at how perfect his plans are. I think about how lucky I am to be a mom to Judie and Millie and a grandmother to Tamara. I can’t even imagine what other plans he has for my life, but I am so happy for the moments when I can just be and dream and pray about God’s will for my life.
With the exception of black outs and babies, the advent of mobile phones has made being almost obsolete, you can still play games, email, check FB, listen to music or check out videos on YouTube while you are in a traffic jam, waiting for a wedding to start, stuck in the checkout line, or on the matatu.
However on this particular black out day my phone battery is dead, I’ve done the work I can do on my computer without being online (I use a hotspot on my phone to hook up wirelessly to the internet), and studying Swahili has given me a headache. So there is always reading, or I could arrange my Tupperware baskets or maybe I could try just being for a while. At least until the power comes back on!
Note: Two days after I wrote this blog, as I finished my editing, the lights went out…it’s 7:08 pm. In order to upload the blog I will have to be online. My phone is fully charged but who knows when the power will come back on. The timing of this power outage is telling. They just announced that Raila Odinga’s challenge of the Presidential Election to the Supreme Court of Kenya has been denied and Uhuru Kenyatta has been declared president. And then the lights went out…Again. Maybe Kenyatta will do something about it or maybe I’ll be doing a lot of being in the future. Only God knows!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Prayer, Love, Relationships and Teenagers

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. - Ephesians 4:2

I am a crier: a no-holds-barred, waterfall, river overflowing its banks kind of tear factory. I have no explanation for it. It’s just how I’m made. I even cry when I’m happy! So it should come as no surprise that when the teenagers, actually young adults, in my life do, say or act in ways that melt my heart…I sometimes shed a tear.
Just this past week they have done and said things that have made every prayer, spoken through tears, at the end of my rope worth the time and energy.
Raymond is a 20-year-old boy that was orphaned at the age of 13 and spent the next four plus years in IDP camps before he was finally put in an orphanage and then eventually ended up with Wezesha. He is impulsive and can have a very bad attitude, but he is also a gentle soul with a brilliant mind and bright future. He has come to understand his weaknesses and how they play out in his relationship with John and Grace. He is in his last year of high school and attends day school, which was his choice. He recently met his sponsor, Laura, in person for the first time.
He said of her, “The first time she told me she loved me, I didn’t know what to say. We don’t say I love you very often here. I don’t remember my biological mother ever telling me she loved me. We love each other yes, but we don’t say it. So I didn’t know how to react. Then she told me how much it cost to come all the way to Kenya from America and that she would never have come to Kenya except that I am here and she wanted to know me better. And then I knew what love was.”
“And you Auntie,” he said to me. “You taught me how to trust. Because Kenyan’s are very slow to trust. But you have never let me down. You are always here for me. Saying I love you and trusting are very new ideas for me. But I can say I know them now.”
Here is a young man that I have spent the better part of the week trying to get him to understand and praying that he would here me that his problems aren’t about his situation but rather, his attitude. And not only did he agree with me, but he melted my heart by telling me he is learning to love and trust. For a young man who has lived on the streets that is a miracle in and of itself!
Raymond carrying Tamara in the Ngong Hills last Sunday
Judie is my 23-year-old foster daughter. She has been with me for nearly 9 years. She is as stubborn as the day is long, and beautiful and silly and a great cook and the joy of my life, most days…
While my mom was here she showed off her not so pretty side, the jealous, rebellious, pouty side. She is also finishing her last year of high school and is not doing well. She is also having some health issues. She cycles through mood swings so fast, that she might wake up with a smile on her face and be scowling by noon. Today, however, was a good day. She goes to boarding school but has been coming to church with us on Sunday while my mom was in Kenya. She showed up to church today, 5 days after my mom left. I didn’t say anything much about it because she was smiling! After church she and Millicent and I went to lunch. She didn’t order anything (which is very unusual for a child that would give her right arm for a piece of chicken – they get no nice food at boarding school), she asked if instead of me buying her lunch, I would buy a pair of shoes for another girl in her school who is from a children’s home and didn’t have shoes.
Commence melting heart…although I kept the tears in check. My so often jealous and self-absorbed high schooler, sacrificed her own desire for a nice chicken lunch, probably her favorite food in the world, so that another child could have a pair of shoes. I need a proud mama button! Not that I’m not always proud to be her mother…but sometimes you just want to shout it from the mountain tops: “My kid has a big heart! The thing I actually appreciate most is that she was willing to sacrifice something that meant something to her instead of asking me to just pay for it myself.
This photo of Judie is the screensaver on my laptop. When she's in a bad mood I look at it to remind me of how beautiful her smile is!
My last heart melt story is about my new foster daughter Millicent. She is not nearly as shy as Judie is, but she is definitely feeling me out and is very quiet. I asked Raymond to ask Millie how she liked staying at my house. (I didn’t want the “this is what my new mom wants to hear” version and I knew she would tell Raymond the truth because they both come from the streets. She told him she was so happy to have her own room and space for the baby, and to be able to eat three meals everyday and that I was really nice.

On March 16 as I was falling to sleep, I got this text from Millicent who sleeps in the room next to mine:
Thank u for what u are doing
to me and the little tamara may
the lord be with u I love u mom

On March 19 the next text came:
            You have realy changed my life
            and tamara thank you for
            putting hope in me I love you
mom gdnt

And on March 23:
I lov u mom hve a good day

Millicent's smile could light up even the darkest corners of this world. My prayer is that her future will be bright and her dreams will be many.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28

God may not have given me biological children, but these children of God that he has blessed me with fill my heart with a love so big I can’t even begin to explain it. And yes…sometimes being this happy and proud of my kids makes me cry!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

It Happened on the Way to Ngong

“It Happened on the Way to War,” by Rye Barcott, is a novel that chronicles Rye’s journey from college student and aspiring US Marine to that of humanitarian working with youth in Kenya’s largest slum. I was thinking about that book as I sat down to write this blog. His book details the relationships he encountered along the way.
 Thus the title of this blog: “It Happened on the way to Ngong.” Is about the relationships navigated in a single day. (Sorry for such an unimaginative rip off, Rye!)
Last Monday as my mother and I were walking back from Kibiko to Ngong a taxi pulled over in front of us. Grace King’atua, the woman I work with came out of the taxi and asked if we would like to go to Joseph Kiranti’s home with her. Joseph is a Maasai boy with spinabifida who had both his legs amputated. He is sponsored through Wezesha By Grace to go to a special school called Joytown in Thika, Kenya. Grace was on her way to pick him up and take him to school. Mom went with Grace and I continued on foot into Ngong to attend some prearranged meetings.
Joseph and his mom Hannah at their home in Kibiko as Joseph gets ready to go to school
On the way I received a phone call from a pastor/taxi driver, Francis, who is a friend of mine and the previous week had taken Nancy and her daughter Cecilia to school. Nancy is HIV-positive and Grace and I are looking for a sponsor for Cecilia so she can go to school. I paid for her first term of school because I didn’t want her being idle at home in the slum. However, I cannot afford to subsidize her education indefinitely. Because Francis had taken Cecilia to school he knew Nancy’s story and so he called to see if I could assist an HIV positive woman with a 5-year-old son who attends his church. I had just talked to a friend on FB the night before about helping Nancy and how I assumed that as soon as word got out that I had assisted one HIV-positive person, others would follow! The gaps in assistance for people living with HIV are huge. Aid organizations specialize with their assistance, but there are no organizations that I know of that fill the gaps. My FB friend works for the World Bank and said they were looking into the same issue! Helping others is about standing in the gap - being there, listening and assisting when possible. I haven’t had a chance to sit down with Francis but will let you know what happens.
Pastor/Taxi Driver Francis with his wife at his church in Kibiko
When I arrived in Ngong I met up with Nancy and Cecilia. Cecilia was headed back to school after the mid-term/elections break. The school had listed the wrong brand of Bible on the sheet they gave out to students and Cecilia had already written her name in that Bible so we couldn’t return it. I mentioned to Grace that I had an extra Good News Bible and one of the other children in the WBG program had recently lost theirs so I walked down the street and left the Bible at King’s Supermarket for Grace to pick up when she returned from Thika. King’s is our version of the pony express!
Cecilia at her home in Ngando slum
Cecilia is a delightful child. She is so thankful and so excited to be in boarding school! There is seriously nothing better than seeing a child so excited about education!
My next meeting was with James Sui, Rebecca’s husband from Ilkiloret. James doesn’t speak any English so his nephew Silas came along to translate. Because James asked to see me in Ngong, I seriously thought he was going to ask me for money for something. He didn’t. We talked about Rebecca’s nephew Rayio who is 10 years old and needs to be sponsored because both his parents are dead and Rebecca and James can’t afford to take care of him and his education indefinitely. Rayio is a great kid…and I have been trying to find him a sponsor but have not had any luck yet. To them I’m sure it feels like ages since we collected a photo and story about Rayio last October. I wish I had better news. I tell them he is young…that we still have time to get him into a better school. That he is a bright boy and he will catch up…but in the pit of my stomach I still feel like I am failing him, failing them. And then James goes on to tell me that they have been praying for me. That because I live with them and teach them and share with them, I am one of them. “Your white skin doesn’t matter,” he says, “you are part of our family!” That relationship has been built over so many years, I can’t even remember the first time I met James or Rebecca. I also can’t imagine my life without them. So I will eventually find a sponsor for Rayio because this is my family. I won’t let them down. They need me and I need them.
My favorite picture of Raiyo in his school uniform
Silas is James' nephew and often interprets for me and James. Silas is studying at Daystar University this year. James' family and friends raised two terms worth of fees for him. He will have to raise one more terms worth of fees to complete the year and be eligible to apply for a scholarship.
James is an attentive father. I can't comment on all Maasai father's but James is a hands on father, who will tie shoes, take out splinters and shower his children with love.
Janet helps James with as assignment in the old school room. James reads at a first grade level and at 44 years of age has trouble learning, but he is determined to become literate.
All this happened on the way to Ngong before noon on a single day. So for those of you who ask me what I do every day…here’s the simple answer…I navigate relationships. God has created infinite links where the gaps exist. So I keep my eyes and heart open and when a gap appears, I look for a way to fill it. Sometimes I ask for your help and sometimes I find people and organizations here that can assist and sometimes I stand in the gap, because after all, that’s why I came here, to be Jesus’ hands and feet. It is my relationship with Him that sustains me in every way.
I leave you with one of my favorite bible verses:
1 John 3:16-18
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Identity Crisis: Robins Final Blog from Kenya

In a previous blog I mentioned Tracy, the 23 year-old Kenyan who took in 21 street children. I related her story about the two little boys who were sleeping in a ditch and saw some men across the way breaking into someone’s stall [crude structures for selling vegetables and wares] and called out to them by name. In response, the men came across the road and murdered the boys.
Who cared? They had no identity.

Unlike me! I carry all of my identity information around my neck everywhere I go here. I came to Kenya knowing who I was. I am returning home after 6 weeks wondering who I really am.  Here I am “Mama Jeska” and nothing more or less; that suffices and that is all people need/want to know. My personal and professional lives are not calling cards as are my physical features: “Ohhh, yes, Mama Jeska,” they all say as they look from one to the other of us with a dawning recognition of some genetic similarities. My wrinkles are also interesting features [not apparent on Kenyan faces because of the beautiful skin tones and protective melanin] and I have been deemed to be probably 100 years old or at least 75.  I have found it actually freeing to be devoid of a past with all its trappings. It is enough to be me, in front of another, relating genuinely and openly.

So, what has happened to me during the last 6 weeks?

Fearful – The first week I was here, I wept quietly every night when I went to bed. I was overwhelmed by what I experienced. I was full of concern for my child who is here alone and lives not in a secure compound with other muzungus [foreigners], but with the Kenyan people. I was fearful every time I stepped into a crowded matatu. I refused to go anywhere alone and worried when Jess was apart from me. I worried about how people at home could understand this experience without being here. I worried about being hungry. I worried when I saw Jess’ sleeping quarters in the Maasai manyatta in the Rift Valley.
Jess with Rebecca and family in the manyatta where they all sleep together in one room.
Now as I prepare to depart, I am not without some basic level of concern  [inherent in parenting], but I am no longer obsessed with a fear for Jessica’s wellbeing. I have met her friends and they surround her with a blanket of protection and caring; and she responds in kind.

Jess and Nancy in her slum dwelling with son, Kimani
The teachers: Jessica and Janet in Ikiloret
Jessica and the Ikiloret children

Faithful – I thought I was someone who lived by faith. I found that what that looks like in the verdant pastures and warm kitchens of Minnesota is very different from what it calls for across the Rift Valley or within the slums of Kenya.

A view across the Rift valley

Street kids having devotions after playing ball in an open field
Fulfilled -
I have learned
  • That one eats to live/not lives to eat. I can survive on less variety eaten less often and life becomes less complicated – I need to keep this in mind.
  • That one can live with very few material things [although cell phones which are cheap in Kenya, are almost necessities] – I can learn to live with less and give away more.
  • That children here are God’s blessing and they are bountiful and unbelievably beautiful and I am more certain than ever that my lifetime of devotion to children was right and good. And I asked the director of the Baby House in Tigoni if I could come back and work there for several months. Who knows what God has in store…..

With children in Ikiloret
With children at Mahali Pa Watoto School
With abandoned babies at Baby Home in Tigoni
  •  Most importantly I have learned that my daughter has strength and courage, endurance and energy, toughness and tenderness. And that I could never begin to do this work in this place for this long. While I dread leaving her, I know that she is where she belongs for now and I have no doubt that she is allowing God to use her in powerful ways.
I believe that a picture is worth 1,000 words and so will leave you with these [very meaningful to me] lasting visual impressions;

Some of Jessica’s students in Ikiloret
Our baby Tamara in the tub
Tamara at the beginning of another day
Robin on a piki-piki
Giraffes seem majestic against the dawning sky
Mr. and Mrs. Lion quietly own the countryside
Baboons and  can be seen often

Memories of these 6 weeks will remain with me as will my gratitude to Jessica for her patience and love. I cannot imagine that I will not be back…..and will hope to bring some of you reading this along with me.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"It’s all about relationships, love, and sacrifice" by Robin and Jessica

It is not always physical bravery that counts. One must have the courage to face life as it is, to go through sorrows and always sacrifice oneself for the sake of others. [ Kipsigis Saying (Kenya)]
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. [1 Cor 13:3]
“The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship
we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship.
That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually
under attack.” [Oswald Chambers]

Today due to road construction, we ended up lost in a slum. While Jess has no concerns and plenty of people she can quickly reach via cell phone for directions, I am a little more wary about what people might think this white woman is doing in a slum. Later in the same neighborhood as we entered a dark stairway up to a music recording studio to visit some friends of Jess’s, it was heartwarming to me when Millicent turned around and without a word, took my hand to lead me into more uncharted territory. For me, that small gesture was all about relationship, love, and sacrifice.

Millicent, Tamara and Robin at Kimuga fram
I sent mom with Grace to visit the manyatta of Joseph Kiranti’s family in Kibiko on Monday. Joseph has spinabifida and has had both his legs amputated. He is sponsored to attend a special school. Where Joseph lives is Maasai hill country and could be a movie set it is so beautiful. I wanted mom to meet Joseph and his mother Hannah and her many other children because they are such a loving family. You can’t help but come away from Joseph’s house without a warm fuzzy feeling in your chest.

While mom was in Kibiko, I went to Ngong to get Cecilia off to school again after mid-term break. Cecilia is so grateful to be in boarding school. I paid for her first term in school with my own money because I feared her staying idle in the slum. I am praying that God will raise up a sponsor for her so she can finish her education. While I was with her the taxi driver cum pastor who had taken her to school two weeks before called to ask me if I could assist a woman in his church who is living with HIV. I knew if people heard I helped Cecilia’s mother, who is also HIV positive, more would come! [More on that in a future blog].

And then James, the Maasai man, in whose house I stay at Ilkiloret had asked to meet with me. He brought along his nephew, Silas to translate. We talked about a young boy who lives with them who needs a sponsor and then he surprised me by telling me that while I was in the states they had been praying for me. “You are one of us,” James said. “Part of our family. You are always in our prayers.”

When I stay in Ilkiloret I always listen for my name as Rebecca prays in Maasai before we go to sleep. I thought she was just praying for me because I was under her roof that one night, but no…every night even when I was thousands of miles away, they prayed for me. That is relationship, love and sacrifice…

Joseph preparing to leave his family and return to school.

Robin is honored to be invited into the family manyatta.
On the way to Joseph's manyatta, we pass other Maasai.
Some people here have chastised Jessica for taking in a 16-year-old street girl and her 2 month old baby. They worry about Jessica and whether at some point she will be hurt and ask if she knows what kinds of sacrifice this will entail on her part. But we know that God loves each of us and that we are to love each other and that love is action, not words, that love is self-giving and should be sacrificial and that it is all about relationships. In just a little over a week, our lives have been enriched by these two beautiful children of God….and when that precious baby coos at us, we forget about walking her in the middle of the night. 

Jess and I enjoying God's beautiful new gift of life, Tamara.
I was a little concerned about spending 12 weeks with my mother; 6 in the US and 6 in Kenya. That is a lot of togetherness for any mother and adult daughter but especially for two who haven’t lived on the same continent in a few years. It’s not that I don’t love my mother. I do. While we have gotten on one another’s nerves once in a while, I needn’t have been concerned. There is something so resilient about a mother/daughter relationship. I guess it’s the unconditional love, understanding of one another’s characters and the history that we share that has made this time together so easy. Mom was pretty skeptical about my choice to be a missionary because it meant not being financially independent. She understood my desire to serve and supported that…but was always hoping I would find another way to sustain it! Now she has seen my life in Kenya for herself. She has met my friends and seen the relationships I’ve built. She has seen the difference this ministry has made in the lives of the people assisted and in my life. And she has pronounced it good.
With Teddy B and Paul who helped make the "Umeniwezesha" video last year.
On the 19th I have to leave, but I will go back home a different person than the one who arrived here 6 weeks ago. In my final blog at that time, I will tell you about things I have learned about Kenya, myself, and most importantly, my daughter.

Afterall, it is all about relationships, love, and sacrifice.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Our Household of Faith by Robin and Jessica

There’s a nice chorus to a song about the household of faith:

We'll build a household of faith
That together we can make
And when the strong winds blow it won't fall down
As one in Him we'll grow and the whole world will know
We are a household of faith

Now to be a family we've got to love each other
At any cost unselfishly
And our home must be a place that fully abounds with grace
A reflection of His face

We are reminded of these words this week as we have added to the Hasslen Household in Ngong, Kenya. In the early years of her time in Kenya there was just Jessica. Then along came Judie.

There was no voice from heaven that led me to take Judie Makandi Mutea as my daughter. It was a gradual process that just naturally unfolded. For many years I just paid her school fees and she would stay with me when I was in the country. She called me mom but we had no legal documents that made it so. Then I got missionary status in Kenya and my own apartment and for the first time in 9 years we were a real family with a home to call our own. Judie will graduate from high school this year. She is anxious about what the future holds, scared that this will be the end of our family. Most orphans are insecure about the relationships in their lives. Judie is no different. She is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. No shoe will drop! She is the most important person in the world to me. I couldn’t love her more if I had given birth to her. As a poem hanging in my parents’ home says…”not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own!”

The actual dwellings changed over the years and Jess has lived in all kinds of houses from a Maasai manyatta in the Rift Valley,

to a one room apartment in Chogoria, to a room in a complex in Ngong, a farm place in the Rift Valley, to her present apartment in Ngong which is luxurious with its 3 bedrooms but plain with its basic furnishings and one spigot of hot water in the shower.

We have written in recent blogs about the street children who were temporarily boarding across the lane from Jessica.

In their midst was 16-year-old, Millicent, with a 7-week-old baby, Tamara. One day Jessica asked if Millie wanted to come over and do some laundry to earn a little money. [Note: It is customary in Kenya for most people to hire women to do some laundry or cleaning – as much to give them a little money as to have work done. In fact it is expected that one has some house help or one is stingy.] She brought her baby, did a marvelous job with the washing, and before she left, Jess had asked her about her story. With tears and haltering revelations, she told Jess about her difficult early life and how she ended up on the streets.  Before we knew it, God was leading Jess to ask Millie to share her home.

Millie and Tamara are now a part of this “household of faith”.  As the chorus states, we only need love each other unselfishly and provide grace upon grace for each other! Once again I wonder about the cost – can Jessica receive enough support to assist her with another mouth or two, can she walk a sick baby in the middle of the night, can she assist a 16-year-old to get back on her feet and some day complete her education, does she not need a little time to herself?

And then I find myself eagerly waiting to hear this beautiful baby’s first morning whimpers so that I can run in and clutch her to my chest and walk and sing and cuddle and look into her beautiful big brown eyes and wonder about her future.

How can that future be different now? What would it have been before last week?  And then I see Jessica assuming the “sho sho” [grandmother] role. And I hear her tell Millie that she should talk and sing to her baby, and show her how to bathe the little one who had never been fully bathed before [and LOVES it]. And then we hear Millie quietly crooning to the little one from her room and it warm our hearts.

And I know without a doubt that the words to this chorus are words of truth in THIS household. I KNOW that Jessica and Judie and Millie and Tamara will

…. build a household of faith
That together we can make
And when the strong winds blow it won't fall down
As one in Him we'll grow and the whole world will know
We are a household of faith

Now to be a family we've got to love each other
At any cost unselfishly
And our home must be a place that fully abounds with grace
A reflection of His face