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Archive for the ‘eating termites’ Category

A few weeks ago, I woke up with a Christmas song going through my head: “It Wasn’t His Child,” speaking of Joseph and how he was not Jesus’ biological father.  I have learned to stop and consider the songs that I wake up singing, because sometimes the Holy Spirit is speaking to me through them. 

I was finding it strange that I would have such a random Christmas song on my mind—not one that I even like that much, or have listened to recently.  As I came to the closing line, “But it wasn’t his child…it was God’s child,” suddenly the why behind the song became apparent to me.  I immediately thought of the children at Dominion Home.  God was reminding me that they are HIS children first and foremost; and to love them and honor them as if He had personally come up to me and said, “Would you watch my children for me?”   He reminded me of how valuable they are to Him….and that whatever I do for them, I am doing for their Father.  They are HIS children.

Festus

I had a wonderful time with His kids this weekend.  I have so enjoyed getting to know them more, though I cannot communicate with them fully because they all speak Swahili for their first language and the younger ones hardly speak any English at all.  That doesn’t stop them from chattering to me, and I just smile and say “mzuri sana!” which means “very good!” 

I decided to wrap up the art supplies as presents, to make it more exciting for them.  I don’t think they get to open a present very often, if ever.  When I handed out the brightly colored packages to the kids, they did not even know what to do. Every single one of them sat there staring at the gift.  I had to show them how to open it, and instead of ripping into it, they began to very slowly and carefully remove the wrapping paper.  They each had their own big pad of paper and there was a large Tupperware container filled with crayons, colored pencils and markers for all of them to share.

Some of the kids coloring in the sunroom

They immediately all grabbed a marker or pencil and began to draw.  I watched them for a while—for a good 10 minutes, not one of them picked up a different colored marker or crayon.  I realized that they had never created anything with different colors.  They knew how to draw a picture; but coloring it in was not a concept they were familiar with.  

So, I began to draw very colorful pictures and designs, and demonstrated to them how to use many colors on one page.  They were so excited and began coloring in their little drawings.  They sat there for hours and hours, drawing and coloring.  Soon the other adults and I began to draw things for them to color—a sheep; a dog; a lion; and so on. I knew the kids would like the art supplies, but I was shocked at how much they liked them—ALL the kids.  Not one of them was bored with it.

Nicely labled images

After several hours, I had them put it away so that we could have story time.  (Time to practice our English, among other things)!  After story time, the illustrations in the books only gave them more ideas, and they all went back to coloring.

Feasting on Termites

It rained all day Saturday, so we spent the day inside.  As evening rolled in, the kids started running and jumping all around the house. They were laughing and shrieking for joy.  It took me a moment to realize that they were trying to catch bugs that were flying all around the lights.  I thought they were moths, and thought it was cute that they were so excited to see them. 

Faith, showing me a termite

Then, Naomi caught one.  She came up to me excitedly, and right in front of me she ripped it wings off and popped it into her mouth.  It was not a moth, but a termite!  Without its wings, it looked like a huge ant.  I had heard that people eat termites around here—fried or raw.  Feasting on termites is considered more of a “country” thing to do, but even many sophisticated city folk grew up eating them. 

Solomon getting ready for a snack

I looked around the room in amazement as the kids caught termite after termite, ripped off their wings and popped them into their mouths.   They were still laughing hysterically. It might as well have been raining candy from heaven. The floor was littered with termite wings; some of them twitching. I think half the fun must be trying to catch them!  So, I joined in the fun and gave the termites I caught to the younger kids.  I know it is a good source of protein for them…right??! 

Naomi sweeping up termite wings

A few of the kids offered me one to eat and I for a brief moment, I considered it.  Naomi told me that they taste like lemons. (I thought she was going to tell me they taste like chicken!)  But I couldn’t bear the fact that they were still alive and had little legs and antennae that were moving.  I decided that my compromise will be that if I am offered a fried one in the future, I will try it, but for now at least I am drawing the line at eating living termites!

Finally, we cleaned up the mess and had our dinner…standard stuff:  Ugali, cabbage, and a tiny bit of meat—freshly slaughtered sheep, which Diane and I got for them at a small butchery on our way in.

When I went in to kiss each kid goodnight, they all shrieked with laughter as I hugged and kissed them.  They sleep two kids to each twin bed and do not use pillows.  (I hear that is pretty standard around here).  They do not have pajamas to sleep in, but just sleep in the clothes that they will wear tomorrow. (At least that is what they do on the weekend)!  

I want to begin to introduce you to each child so that you can get to know them personally as I get to know them more.  Here are the first three…God’s children.

Maxwell

Maxwell with a flower

I will start with Maxwell.  His middle name is Precious. At 9, he is the oldest boy and has an amazing ear to ear grin.   He is serious and tries hard at everything he does.  He is a great soccer player and loves to draw cars and trucks.  Like most all the other kids, his mother died of AIDS.  He has some relatives somewhere who come to see him on occasion.  Abraham told me that he is so excited when that happens and so sad when they leave.

Maxwell and Solomon

He and Solomon (the next oldest boy at age eight) have a bit of sibling rivalry going on. On Sunday, when all the kids were coloring, he and Solomon got into a spat.  I am not sure what exactly happened, but Solomon poked something in his eye. 

Maxwell was crying in the corner, when I noticed him and went over to assess the situation. I took Maxwell in my arms to comfort him and I was amazed at how he just nestled into my arms in a fetal position.  Kids here do NOT cry for attention.  It doesn’t even occur to them; and Maxwell has never been much of a snuggler.  I knew that his response to me was out of a deep need in his own heart and so I sat there with him for hours.  After a while the other kids let me know that they also wanted a turn on my lap. But I knew that I needed to keep holding Maxwell and I whispered to him that I would sit with him as long as he wanted me to. 

I kept stroking his back and kissing his head and singing to him.  As I did, I began to “see him” as a young man, with his big smile, all secure in the love of the Lord.  I know he has a great future ahead of him.  I prayed in the Spirit over him and sang over him and told him every affirming thing I could think of.  I kept whispering to him, “Your name is Maxwell Precious and you are precious. You are precious to God and to me.“  Finally, I asked him if he wanted to go outside and he whispered, “yes.”    We sat in the sun with the other kids and drank Uji and then Maxwell went to bed.  He was exhausted from all the emotions and his sore eye.  He is sensitive and intelligent and was one of the first kids placed in the home but I know he must have many memories of his earlier childhood.  Please keep him in your prayers.  Like every other kid on the property, he is one of my favorites! 😉

Viona and Frieda

I am going to introduce Viona and Frieda together, since they are cousins, as I discovered this weekend. 

Frieda

Other than Patience, the small son of Abraham and Ann who are the house parents, Frieda is the youngest child in the home at the age of 4.  She is always the first to come running to me when I first arrive, and hangs on me more than any of the other kids. She us such a little snuggler! She is a very pretty little girl with a ready smile and quite a little chatterbox, always talking to me in Swahili. 

What a beautiful smile!

When I get someone else to translate for her, I am always surprised at the things she is saying.  Holding a bouquet of bougainvillea: “See these flowers I picked?  I am going to give them to my daddy” (Abraham).  Looking at me with excitement: “We are all going to sleep in the same house together tonight!”  Comment after we took a short tour around the property: “We should have spent more time exploring that field instead of come back home so fast!”  I have explained to her that I do not understand, but that doesn’t keep her from talking to me, and I am glad.  Frieda really brightens my life!  She is all girl, and her favorite color marker by a long shot is pink, with yellow coming in second.

Viona

Viona is a few years older than Frieda and has the thickest, curliest eyelashes I have ever seen.  I have enjoyed watching her in action.  I discovered this weekend that she is quite a ham.  While I was holding Maxwell outside while we were drinking Uji, I was watching her and Naomi chatting.  I wish I knew what Viona was saying, because she kept making Naomi laugh so hard she that almost fell off the bench. 

Deep in thought

Viona is also very creative.  Last weekend, she had a whole outdoor kitchen she had created, and was mixing up mud and “cooking” it in a few tiny bottle caps that she had found somewhere.   This weekend, after we got back from our walk in the field, she had collected several baby grasshoppers for which she built a small house out of rocks and tiny scraps of wood.  (The babies didn’t seem to want to stay in the house, but she was diligent to continue to make it very nice for them and keep putting them back inside).  She seems just as happy playing by herself as with the other kids and always has something interesting going on.  Her favorite color marker/crayon was orange.  She is also the only girl that chose the orangy color nail polish, and she was also the only one who wanted matching color on her finger and toenails.  Like her cousin, she is one of the more snuggly children.

Abraham told Diane and me a little more about the girls.  Both of their mothers had died of AIDS and before coming to the Home they were being cared for—along with about 20 other cousins—by their grandparents, who live a few hours away.  Abraham described their grandfather as a godly man who really loves his family and hated to let two of his granddaughters go.  It was only because he was so desperate. 

Frieda in the flowers

I don’t know how many of his own kids had died, but he had taken all of their offspring into his tiny house.  The situation was pretty much impossible for him to care for them all…not enough food, room, space, etc.   I think this must be a pretty special family, because these two girls are amazing.  I wasn’t surprised to hear that they had such a wonderful grandfather.  While Abraham was telling us the story, Diane and I had the same idea at the same time:  to go visit the grandfather and take him a big bag of maize or beans and just encourage him and bless him. We plan to do that sometime this week.  We are both looking forward to meeting him.

We also got the idea to make a special “memory/identity” book for each child, which we will give them in September right before I leave.  That gives us several more months to collect as much info as we can on each child, including any old pictures we can find of them when they were babies, or photos of their biological parents. 

We will also fill it with photos of them having fun and photos of other adults and parent figures in their life who love them.  We will write them poems and letters (and get others to do so as well) and give them special Bible verses, etc.  Basically, we will put as much into the book that we can that will give them a strong sense of their identity and the knowledge that they are loved and cherished and unique. 

Please pray for us in this endeavor—that each book will be a treasure to each child and say all that God wants us to say to them. I think this one of the best things that we could do for them, and I feel like if nothing else came of this trip, just making these books for the kids would make the whole thing worth it. What a privilege and joy to serve God’s very own children.

Today is the one-month anniversary of my arrival in Nairobi!   We had another wonderful morning with the teachers at SILA.  Abraham, the “father” at the Kid’s Home, just sent me a note thanking me and welcoming me in one of the best possible ways I would ever want to be greeted— as an “ambassador of a new song!”   I thank God for the many new songs for all of us that He is releasing in His presence.  We leave every meeting humming a melody and filled with joy.

Abraham helping a kid across the fence, as we surveyed the property. Dominion Home in the distance.

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