Stamping, Scrapbooking, Kenya…WHAT? Happy Friday Stampers! Before I started writing this post I was looking at Facebook. Okay, I spend WAY too much time doing that, but Facebook is one way Dave and I keep up with friends and family that live outside of the state of Texas. Two of our friends, Jeff and Stephanie Bys, are missionaries in Kenya. We all used to go to church together and Stephanie was in one of my stamp clubs. She loved to create beautiful cards and became quite good at it. I remember scrapbooking also piqued her interest from time to timel.
We've kept in touch through the years, even when stamping wasn't on her “front burner”. Instead of a stamping project or Stampin' Up! special, I wanted to share a bit about their story with y'all today. Stampin' Up! is involved with many charities and it is one of the reasons I love what I do! I hope you enjoy this little peek behind the curtain into another part of my life and enjoy some thoughts from Steph!
These pictures are from Steph's Facebook post today, and here is what she wrote:
You are probably tired of my sunset pics and my posts gushing about how much I love this life, but here's another because this life and these sunsets are too good not to share.
The longer I'm here living this life the more I realize that my whole life has been preparing me for this work in Kenya. That might sound wonky or out there to some of you, but I'm just certain that this is the case.
As a child I watched my Momma? try and save my Dad. Others would quickly give up on him and rightfully so because he was a BEAR. For 14 years she stayed with him trying to save him, trying to save our family. As bad as things were she just kept thinking he could change. She just kept trying different things to make our family work. I have that same “they can be saved” mentality. In large part Kenya has given up on saving these boys who live on the streets, I refuse to accept that. I've seen first hand how great these boys can be and what a blessing they are. A couple of weeks ago we took in an older teen girl who was in terrible shape. Some of our team tried to send her back where she came from because they were afraid she would die here (they were really trying to look out for us?). She needed a lot of help (She has been to the Dr and talked with a counselor). Usually when we take in new children we go as a team, but this time it worked out better for her to just come here with our social worker since she was staying near where he was going to be that day. I was not prepared for her condition, I was actually shocked, but I refuse to give up on her just because her current status seemed terrible. Someone had failed this girl, someone should have gotten her help a long time ago, but we couldn't let that stop us from trying. In just a couple of weeks she has made huge changes and is well on the road to recovery!
As a child I wasn't protected the way I feel children should be protected, so as an adult I became a voice for children. As a child I needed an adult to be my voice, because my voice had been silenced. You will never see me keep quite when a child needs a voice. I've been in some hard situations, but speaking up for a child is always right. I can't tell you how many adults we've had to “get on to” over the boys on the street and our boys. Most of the boys living on the street in Bungoma know us so they flock to us when they see us. If we are in an area we don't frequent then a guard will almost immediately start to threaten to beat the boys. We have to calm the guard down and tell him/her that we know them and we are friends. I can't tell you how many conversations we've had with teachers, pastors and people in general where we've had to speak up for our boys. Sometimes it is hard and very uncomfortable, but it is something that must be done. These children deserve a voice so I will use mine since usually people will listen.
In my marriage we've been through some really tough stuff. Marriage is hard enough, but when you add in all the baggage we brought into it, it makes it almost impossible. My marriage has has shown me just because things are hard right now doesn't mean they will always be hard. It has shown me that even though something has ugly parts that it as a whole can be beautiful! It has shown me that you can't just give up because something is hard. Aside from Jesus, Jeff is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Seriously, I know that sounds cheesy, but it is true. Without Jeff I wouldn't be where I am today (in all areas of my life, not just my physical location). So while this first year of Kenya has had many hard times I know it won't always be hard. While we've had many hard days, we've had many, many more beautiful days!
I can't tell you what a blessing it is to be able to actually live out my purpose daily. If you know my story or even part of it, you know some of it has been incredibly hard. I wouldn't change it, not any part of it because I know it has made me who I am today. If I hadn't walked through some of the fires that I have I wouldn't have learned the things that I've learned. If Jeff and I hadn't worked through all we have worked through we would be the team we are today. This past year I have really been learning how to count it all joy. While I'm not perfect at it, it is much easier to see now than before.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. James 1:2-3
Thank you a million times over. We are SO, SO, SO blessed to be here serving Him and our community. Without your support this wouldn't be possible. We never take this for granted and this is never an “us” thing. We always tell others that the money comes from our donors, not us. We are just here on the ground and the faces they see, but there are MANY others actually supporting this work.
I love Stephanie's transparency! And to think our friendship started from one little rubber stamp! If you are interested in learning more about their ministry and adventures in Kenya, I encourage you to follow them on Facebook. You will be encouraged and blessed!