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Entries from August 2018

Even winning the lottery has its struggles..

Why can life be so difficult at times? On the outside, we can look at some of our friends and just see all of the glorious things that make their lives look so splendid and perfect... Maybe they are living their dreams or even living YOUR dreams, and you just wish you could be like them...

But the reality is, no matter what path you choose to take, there will always be issues. It may look so easy, but even the person who wins the lottery has to deal with all of the people who will rush after him looking for help and a 'piece of the pie.'

Life is hard. Even in the good times there are struggles. And for some of us, we have the ability to make it look like everything is ok on the outside. But down in there is turmoil, anxiety, stress, and struggle. Always try to remember to be kind. Let us love one another, never making assumptions, and listen with understanding no matter what we think is going on in each other's lives. 

 


It is not as costly as you think!

Holy smokes! I am researching how much it costs to get horses' hooves trimmed in the USA, and I can't believe it! In the USA, the cost of getting a full set of shoes put on is usually $120 per horse not including the actual purchase of the shoes! Average cost of just a trim is $45. No wonder you guys think owning a horse is expensive!

20180812_091533Owning horses in Kenya is extremely affordable!

Let us just look at Farrier costs first.

I have 4 barefoot ponies, and one fully shod Thoroughbred.

(My Kenyan Farrier has been trained by experts from all over the world. He shoes the finest race horses in Nairobi, all of the horses in my area, as well as horses all across Kenya. He is BRILLIANT and professional. He continues to be trained every year to update his knowledge, and he is great doing barefoot horses as well as shoes.)

With that said, he put on BRAND NEW shoes on my thoroughbred yesterday. The shoes cost $25. The trim and putting the shoes on for all four feet cost $7. That is right. $7. He did barefoot trims on my ponies for $7 each, plus he charges $7 to travel all the way from Nairobi (3 hrs) to my house. So yesterday, I spent a total of $67 to do my FIVE horses. When I am not buying NEW SHOES (which is most months), I only spend $42 a month for FIVE horses to get their feet done. Compare that to $120/horse or even $45/horse for just a trim in the USA! So with my five horses the way they are, it would cost me $300 a month in the USA as apposed to $45. Right there, I think you can see that having horses here is much more cost efficient than my USA counterparts!

Now let us look at how much it costs to feed my horses. I buy bran for the ponies who eat 4 times a day. Then I have bran, barley, and horse meal for my thoroughbred. I spend about $0.60 a day per pony x4 ponies, and about $1.50 per day for my thoroughbred on feed. That is $3.90 a day for five horses (*educated guess). A 5 gallon jug of raw molasses is $8 and lasts half a year. Salt licks are $6 and last ages, so I am just going to round up to $4/day... So I spend about $120 a month on feeding FIVE horses not including hay.

Hay is the expensive stuff, but if you can buy it when it is 'in season,' it can go for as little as $1.50 a bale. We use a bale a day or so... in certain times of the year, hay can be over $3 a bale. So let's just say it is $2 for now. That is $60 a month on hay. See? This is where horses are expensive, but still, can you see how owning a horse or five is DO-able?

So we spend about $225 a month to own 5 horses. This doesn't include vet expenses which are few because I do the deworming and injections myself. I do not have to pay to board my horses, nor do I have to pay a licence fee or anything. So that is it! $225 divided by 5 horses equals $45/horse. Not bad!

Tack is another expense, but we have been fortunate to have some donated, and we have bought some items. I must say that this is an area I hope to fulfill when I visit the USA, but in the mean time, what we have is working. We have all second hand items, and we don't mind.

Transportation of horses is THE BIGGEST expense ever. This is an issue I am hoping to combat by getting our own horse trailer one day... but ultimately, doing horse therapy is not as expensive as one might think!! 

This is another reason I believe Horse Therapy for disabled children is a viable project in Kenya!

 


Let's PARTY! (A post from an unconventional missionary...)

Let's admit it. I am not very conventional in the way I do things. 
 
Most people I know do things the 'way they are supposed to be done!' and I tend to just do things 'my way.'
 
I hope you can follow along our adventure and enjoy the difference we bring to the world...

We do not do missions like other missionaries. Adopting orphans and raising them in our home instead of building an orphanage is one example of our unconventional ways....
Giving birth to my kids at home... also not the norm. Raising my kids in a mud barn in Africa... so totally normal. Right? Living off grid, harvesting the sun, the rain, and using the land should be normal, but still... it isn't.
 
Doing horse assisted therapy in AFRICA?! Also totally not the norm, which is why it is much needed... 
Can you see a theme?? We tend to be non-institutional..  With that said...
 
Why would I want to do the normal missionary thing by going to churches and institutions and asking for funds like most missionaries?? I really feel deeply in my soul that I should follow my heart and go to people's homes. 
Fundraising can be a boring chore, and I NEED to make it fun. F.U.N. Can we not have little parties at people's houses?? Pretty Please?
 
Would you mind hosting a dinner party where guests can possible pay for the meal and proceeds go to AFAAH? Or maybe I can raffle items from Africa, too? Or if you have a better idea, I am all ears. But if you want to help, all you need to do is say so. I can give you photos and information to print to have on hand, and then I can come and chatter away with peeps. Heck, we can just chill and sing songs around a fire... I don't care, but I want to visit homes not institutions, if possible.
 
I also need folks to come to me. I can only travel so much and so far... I hope to go to S.E. Texas. Sacramento and Fresno areas of CA, and then the East coast... NY, CT, Penn, AR, and back down to TX... If you could try to come to me in any of those areas, that would help a lot!! I have six weeks to travel across the massive US of A with a toddler and a teenager!
 
So please contact me if you want to help! I am already a bit overwhelmed by this adventure! I can't believe it is actually happening!
 

Why wait eleven years to visit?

Let me just share some really exciting news!!!!! After only 11 days, we, as in you out there, managed to raise over $5,000 for our airline tickets to the USA!!! I have BOOKED our trip and bought the tickets for Makena, Starlette, and me to travel October 8th!


It has been ELEVEN long years of being in Kenya without leaving. We moved to Kenya 13 years ago, and the only time we visited the USA was in 2007 in order to raise money to start our orphan care project... And well, we did that, now didn't we?

We have been and still are mom and dad to 9 adopted girls and 6 biological kiddos... They are growing up. Our dynamic is changing and that brings me to this question...

Have you ever wondered why we haven't left Kenya to visit our families in over 11 years? Many of you may have filled in the blanks as to why, but let me start by saying... we stayed put in Kenya without traveling because having 15 children altogether was impossible to even think about making a family trip... Not only would our Kenyan daughters not be allowed to get visas to go to the USA, it would cost a fortune to travel, and it would be hectic...

At ali'sEven more reason we stayed in Kenya is because nine of our daughters experienced major trauma in their lives. They came to our home, most as preteens, with a lot of pain. Their stories and histories are hard to even repeat let alone live through. Some saw their mothers killed by men. Others watched them fade away due to AIDS related problems. Many were abandoned by their mothers who were still living! The trauma from being abandoned, being orphaned, being passed from person to person, and ultimately 'dumped' on us because no one else would care for them was too real and too deep for us to even consider leaving them even for a few weeks. We WANTED them. We loved them, and we had to prove it to them. We needed them to feel safe and cared for. We wanted our love to heal all of the broken places, and we started the foundation for this by making sure they had consistency in their lives; so it was our decision to not leave the country.

We felt that they might not understand if 'mommy and daddy and the bio kids' decided to go out of the country for a while. The fears of 'what if they don't come back?' or 'what if they abandon us?' were far too real in our adopted daughters' minds to even consider a visit to the USA. It just didn't seem right. So for eleven years, we didn't even think of going anywhere, no matter how home sick or how many holidays we missed... No matter how curious our bio-kids were about their cousins or family, we stayed put. Ultimately, my bio kids stopped remembering life as it was.... New traditions were made, new bio babies were born, new orphans added to our family, a new norm was made, and my kids became 'Kenyans.'

Many times, I felt as if I sacrificed my own family in order to be mom to children who had no caring family of their own. Time with my biological children was divided by the needs of 15. Grandparents, cousins, friends from the States were never a physical part of my children's lives apart from video calls and care packages, and those were only when we had internet and could pay the fees at the post office. It has been a rewarding and yet difficult eleven years...

But now, all but one of our adopted children are over 18 and considered grown up. Edith is 15, and she has been most grafted into our family. As the three of us make this trip this October, she will stay home with Eowyn, Emma, and Butterfly, and her dad Johnny. She will be fine if I am away, but will I? I will miss them all so terribly!

Mom and daughterThis trip is needed now because, like our last trip 11 years ago, we are starting something new. We are changing and growing, expanding into a therapy center for disabled children, children with learning struggles, and children with emotional issues. I look forward to hugging my family, meeting my niece and showing Makena England and the USA... I also look forward to sharing in person the reasons for our more recent focus.

We need to fund raise, and I hope to be unconventional about it. I think we should make this as FUN as possible because, I don't like asking you for money. If you have ideas, please share them with me. My goals are high as we need to do a lot to make our program more accessible to the children in need. So if you want to host a dinner party or luncheon, let me know! I will provide some items for raffling as well as information cards. I can speak, or not... Whatever works!

We will be in SE Texas from October 13-23rd, then hopefully off to California after that... and then the details I am still sorting out!

We have met our fundraising goal to get to Texas!! If you would like to help us travel across the USA, feel free to continue donating to our Gofundme page! Thank you!


Before and After

I thought it would be fun to share a few before and after photos. More accurately these are photos from four or so years ago and photos from today. I had a had time getting the right spot on a few of them due to the tree and bush growth, but hopefully it will work out. Here they are:

Before:

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After:

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Before:

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After:

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Before:

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After:

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Before:

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After:

 


We are Growing

Several months ago, a friend who runs a riding school about 6 hours from here, came to visit us. In fact, it was on Easter weekend, which was also my birthday weekend. I remember it because it was quite eventful for many reasons not to be mentioned here. Ha!

Anyway, while visiting, she noted that we needed a second bigger horse. We have more therapy riders in need waiting for us to get more horses at the moment. Some of our disabled riders are too heavy for our little ponies, and we only have one large horse. I also have daughters who are teens now. They are outgrowing the ponies. Don't worry, our littlest ones are growing into the ponies just fine and riding them daily. Ponies are like bicycles! Gotta find one that fits! 

So my friend decided to help us hunt for a good small horse/big size pony. 

20180725_154741The week before last, I was in Nanyuki where my friend runs her riding school, and she offered us a beautiful buckskin gelding who is a rescue. I only needed to transport him to our little homestead! 

Once again, I was faced with the hassle of transport. Not only was finding a truck nearly impossible, it was only going part of the way, and it was expensive. I paid to get him to Nairobi, and an acquaintance offered to bring him to The Shire because she was bringing her polo horses back home and passing by the bottom of our hill. Due to high demand, however, she called last minute explaining that she had TOO many horses on her truck and may not be able to bring him. I was nearly in tears when he was almost stranded in Nairobi with me hustling to find someone to look after him, plus someone to bring him to our home! Ultimately we got him home on Monday. We decided to call him Artemis Sparks. Artemis (αρτεμης ) meaning 'safe' in Greek, and Sparks because the previous carer thinks it important to keep that in his name. We call him Mr. Sparks, Artie, Artemis, and Sparky. He actually perked his ears up when I called him Artemis today. It was pretty cool.

He hasn't done much of anything. I think he is 7 or 8 years old. He has been ridden so isn't completely green. I started 20180803_151022his training on Tuesday morning. He is a sweet fella, big-hearted, and kind. I am teaching him some manners because he likes to get in your space. He is learning a lot of things quickly, and that makes me so glad. I introduced him to a jump, and he just loved flying over it. It has been raining so not much riding has happened...

So this weekend's Horsepower session, we decided Artemis needed to be conditioned to what therapy is all about. While doing our session with two riders, I had Eowyn sit on Artie pretending she was a 'busy' kid doing therapy.

She stood on her knees.

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She waved her arms about.

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She laid on his hindquarters.

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She did games, danced, and threw bean bags.

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He was brilliant through it all. He didn't even flinch.

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We will continue to desensitize him and get him used to the sounds and colors of the games to make sure he is a safe pony for the children. Then, and it appears it will be soon, we will use him to bring much needed physical therapy, education, and emotional therapy to children with disabilities and their parents.