Family

All Done

Andrew has finished high school, finally. He took some time off to learn mechanics and due to scheduling issues was just able to finish his GED. We felt it was a good idea for him to actually do the exam, though many people told us it was not necessary. (It did end up costing a little more than $240, but we feel that it was money worth spent.) Since he was homeschooled this was a good way to end that chapter of his life as an alternative to a traditional cap and gown affair. Andrew is not much for sentimental actions nor pomp and ceremony, so he was content to do the test and be finished with high school.

In just a few weeks Andrew will be traveling to the U.S. to explore the next step in his life. He is not sure what that will be yet, but he is excited to try out as many things as possible. He will be in Oregon for a few months. After that time will tell where he ends up.

Andrew is a relatively private person. He does not interact with social media that much and has his own interests (mostly in the real world.) I say this as a way of explaining why you do not see or hear from him much on the interwebs. If you popped in in person, well then you would get to know him better. 

Congratulations Andrew.

Andrew

 


Highlights From Kate's Facebook Week

Here are some highlights from Kate's Facebook feed (in case you are not connected or simply missed them:)

 

Oh family tree.. I have learned so much and am really enjoying finding out who my relatives are and some of the scandalous or just interesting stuff in our past as well as my roots!!! Much thanks goes to Anna for doing all of the digging, verifying, and research. Taking my DNA test and applying it to my tree has been an amazing ride.

Kate did a DNA test to trace her roots and has been loving the results. She even found out she is a distant cousin to Beyonce.

And she's ready for school. Off she goes until the end of May.

Edith off to school

My eleven year old daughter Emma Caite loves to ride. 
Being home schooled, she doesn't interact with other kids much. Ponies give her common ground with the friends she has.

Emma jumping

Kate made this picture her cover photo:

Horse theropy

We actually had sunshine today. This is a very big deal! Now if we could have balance... Sun, rain, sun, rain...

I will end with this picture of a butternut squash.

Butternut squash

Veggie Tales lied. 
#bellybutton


What Do You Do When You Children Grow Up?

Our February newsletter, just in case you missed it:

Our children are growing up.

Ten years ago, we thought it would be a great idea to take in disadvantaged, teenage, orphan/abandoned girls into our home to raise them along side our biological children as one, big, happy family. It had its highs and lows, but I am proud to say that we have RAISED them and raised them well. I'll skip all of the 'what would have happened if we hadn't...' stuff and move on to the good news. Grace, our oldest orphan-no-more just graduated high school in December at age 23. This week, she got her first job selling perfume at a large, local supermarket! She is on her way to being independent. She will probably receive her first paycheck in about a month. Johnny and I will brainstorm and decide how much we will support her or if she needs it at all... We are not an institution, and we are her only 'parents.' We are proud of her and her and will always be her family.
Mildred, age 22, is doing the same as Gracie. She just graduated high school as well and is working her first job selling perfume in town with the same company as Grace only in a different outlet. 
Next, Sarah Apiyo age 23, also just graduated high school, and has moved to Mombasa with her sister but is still receiving monthly support from us to help her eat and live since she has not found a job yet.
Sarah Muthoni, age 19, just graduated high school, and we are putting her through a cooking school right now. We have paid half of her school fees, but we lack funds for the other half because all of the other school fees...
Beatrice, age 17, is in a new boarding school because she made high grades on her exams. This month saw the beginning of the school year, so we had to provide new uniforms and supplies.
Our youngest orphan-no-more is Edith, age 15. She just finished primary school and started attending Shiner's Girls boarding school this January. Her school is a bit more expensive than the others because her grades were high so she qualified to attend a better school. We spent about $570 on her uniforms, books, beddings, mattress, tuition, and etcetera... She called yesterday needing more money for school supplies and seems to be doing well.

 

What do we do when our kids grow up?

As our daughters are growing up, we are finding ourselves focusing more on keeping other orphan children in school, as well as feeding the hungry, and helping children with disabilities through our Equine Assisted Therapy program, Horsepower. In Kenya, if you are born with any disability you suffer a life of difficulty. We have seen children locked in dark, tiny rooms and given no food or drink because the parents say the child is incapable of understanding how to eat food due to mental illness! Kenya is VERY FAR BEHIND when it comes to understanding children who seem 'different.' Equality isn't even a thought. Culture in Kenya, especially in the rural villages, is still based on superstitions, curses, rituals, and witch doctors. Lack of education has kept them in the dark and it is harmful to children with special needs. We are doing what we can to bring hope to the children and the parents or guardians. Our impact is small at the moment as we are just starting up, but our vision is big. 
We have regular therapy sessions now happening every week. We have three ponies and one horse bringing so much joy and physical therapy to the children who ride. 
Here is a short video of one of our newest riders who has autism. It is a worthy watch and only 1 minute long. I am finding that this young lad has absolutely zero balance. He marches up hill until the hill wins, and he tumbles down backwards head over heels. It is my hope that he will learn how to stabilize himself as he experiences the changes in his center of gravity every time the horse moves forward and when she stops. This is just ONE example of many reasons why we are doing Horsepower.
One interesting and sweet story is that the lad with autism comes with his mom and dad. They were so touched by what is happening with their son they gave us $10 towards our therapy program. In Kenya, that is a HUGE offering, and we are extremely touched. 
 
 

On the Home Front

Lots has been going on here at home on The Shire. I (Kate) have been playing with mud during my spare time building things such as a bench, a window, and a bathtub. The window was an 'upcycle.' Johnny accidentally put a hot pan on our glass table top (on a silicone mat) and the glass broke. The mud bathtub is not complete as it is drying and needs a waterproof layer in a few weeks. In the mean time, we are bucket bathing in a temporary place. We are raising our water tank higher because we have issues with water pressure. We need a plumber to do some work, but we look forward to having a bath on the Shire after 4 years of patience and waiting. Our phases in 'building' are one 'modernization' at a time..

 

Keep your eyes opened...

Our daughter Eowyn, age 8, will be in a Lipton tea commercial that should start airing some time this month and through the year so keep your eyes open for her cuteness! It is a global thing, and we are excited for her! She'll also be in gifs and other litpon media so let us know if you see her!

Horses are good for other stuff, too...

Every morning, my home educated students must 'work.' Together we feed horses, groom them, and then  most mornings we tack up for rides in the countryside looking for poacher snares and dismantling them. Living in Kenya where wildlife are protected and many are endangered, we take our efforts seriously. This week we found a rare silverback jackal snagged in a snare... Here is the video .

 

Other kids...

Our daughter Butterfly and Makena are working together to write a book with Makena's illustrations (left).
Butterfly is heading out to ride on a 30km endurance ride after raising $200 to support conservation efforts to help save elephants near Mount Kenya.
Emma is still riding and jumping her pony and recovering from chickenpox (as well as Makena, Eowyn, and Starry). She also now has a virus and is feeling quite grim at the moment. 
Andrew is preparing for the SAT and GED, and we are considering our first trip back to the USA in over a decade.
Starlette is still nursing, playing, and riding. She is adorable as always.

 
Thank you for following our family. We try not to put pressure on people nor do we like to 'fund-raise,' although, it is a must at times. Being that it is early in the year, we have quite a lot of needs pressing on us. Last month, we spent most of our funds on school fees for this term for our orphansnomore. We cannot meet these needs without help so I am just putting them out there...
Here is a short needs list of extra items that seem out of our reach:
  • 100-200 bales of hay $300-$600
  • school fees for Sarah M $80
  • Glass for the outdoor tub project $85
  • annual teeth filing for the horses $500
  • tires for Dolly our Land Rover $350 EACH X4 ($1400)
  • insurance $100
  • some repairs on Dolly (again, but she's 20+ yrs old and our roads are not roads at all|) $550
  • a truck full of rocks to keep the arena from washing away $120
  • plumbing work on our water tank $150
  • a small shelter construction to keep our riders and their parents out of the hot sun during our weekly sessions $100
  • passport renewals for all of us, it's that time!! $150 each plus a trip to Nairobi $2,000
If you are feeling overwhelmed after reading this, so are we! Thank you for your compassion and understanding. We also would love to buy FOOD. If you give to us already, thank you. We are a small group that keeps us going. <3 
To all of our sweet and beloved friends out there, we are extremely grateful for your individual support. We are not a part of any "mission organisation." No one is advertising on our behalf and giving us a set monthly budget. We rely on you to share and encourage us. Each month is different based on who remembers us. Thank you for your support. We can receive donations through paypal to afutureandahope@gmail.com or checks mailed to: A Future and a Hope
c/o Bob Humphrey
7909 Walerga Rd STE 112-141
Antelope, CA 95843
We also have a bitcoin wallet for those who are into that medium as well. We haven't used it yet, so someone can be our 'first!'

Feel free to share this newsletter with your friends.

Thank you!
 
 

Money Lessons

Many things happened in 2005, which was when we moved to Kenya thirteen years ago. 
 
 
It was one of those years that thirteen years later seems to have been o.k., but during that year it was pretty rough. Actually, it was mostly hard work and upheaval for us. We decided to move because we felt that was what God wanted for our lives, and we also felt that we should abandon traditional fundraising methods. This proved easier said than done. We sent out a letter and that was about it. The response was great but slow. 
 
We were still deciding where we fit in the Christian religion, and well, folks tend to give to missionaries who believe like them and follow all their religious rules. We came from a charismatic background, and our church was relatively conservative in it's theology. Personally, I (Johnny) was more theologically liberal back then and did not feel that my voice was appreciated. I also felt it necessary to challenge and raise difficult questions, often. Not the best case scenario for fundraising. 
 
Despite this, and sometimes because of this, we did attract a few donors. The church we helped to plant came on board along with several members and family members. We had no money for a car, no money for traveling, no money for furniture. Yet we knew we should make the sacrifice. 
 
We learned how the poor in Kenya survive. You grow your own vegetables and harvest wild weeds for food. (Once when digging around the garden in 2005, we came across a number of small potatoes. That night we partied with fried potatoes.) No air conditioning meant much lower electricity bill. No car meant no money needed for maintenance, insurance, and petrol. No electronics stores meant no new computers, phones, DVD players, nor really any entertainment at all. We learned to live on much less and to work around or with lack. 
 
We learned to relate. We learned what it means to rely on someone else to get to the hospital with a sick child, who was not breathing due to a feveral seizure. (Our landlord lived next door and felt that she needed to stay home that morning. She found out why when Kate ran over to see if she was home and if she would drive us to the hospital. Butterfly was the child and had malaria and pneumonia.) We learned to rely on our community to help feed our children and theirs. (I went around preaching in that first year that we should take care of each other. That the first church had no needs not because of miracles but because they took care of each other. A few congregations took me seriously and helped us out from time to time.)
 
Thirteen years later we still have to work hard to raise money and have to budget very carefully most months. Yet the donors have grown in number, and we have learned new means of raising money. I think my biggest lesson has been to just trust. If myself or Kate feels that we should do something, then I have learned to trust that the budget will be met. Often times in creative ways, but the money will come to accomplish the project. We have learned that it is o.k. to ask for help, because people really want to help. You guys are great. 

Bumpy Road

When we arrived in Nairobi in 2005 with our three children in tow we were full of adventurous spirit and had high hopes of getting a lot of work done from the get go. Before leaving Texas we, of course, had set in place a plan. We knew where we were living and also where we would base the work out of. Since we had been to Kenya before, in 1996 and 1997, we knew people and had arranged everything with them.
 
Stepping off the plane I (Johnny) felt like I was home. This was the place that I wanted to be, that I felt God wanted me to be, and I was looking forward to the reception. That reception turned out to be less than anticipated. Weeks before the big move we made arrangements to be picked up at the airport by our hosts, the folks we had stayed with back in 1996 and 1997. A bishop and one of his pastors were to pick us up and drive us to his place in Molo, a few hours from Nairobi. He did meet us at the airport, but without a vehicle nor plans to hire one. In fact, he was a couple of hours late, leaving us with all our luggage and three young children sitting on the curb outside the airport.
 
We hired a vehicle using half of the cash we had on hand and set off for Molo. Only on the way the bishop tells us he is embroiled in a dispute over land ownership with his former denomination. In fact, pastors were fighting each other on the property with knives. Sigh. So we were going to his house in Nakuru instead. Nakuru an entirely different place than we had planned for with all new circumstances.
 
He then tried to rent us half of his house for several times the normal market rate of the area. A house he was sharing with his mistress, possibly more than one. We decided to find our own place. 
 
We did find a nice place to rent. We stayed there for slightly more than a year. Here is a video of a young Makena giving a house tour.
 


Thirteen Years

In a few days we will have lived in Kenya for thirteen years. We landed in Nairobi as a family on January 17, 2005, and have been living out our adventure ever since. We have undergone quite a few changes and grown tremendously since that day. I suppose the biggest change has been the additions. When we deplaned we touched Kenyan soil with three little Americans. There are now three more biological children (who are both American and Kenyan) and nine Kenyan girls that have been added to our "little" family. Three plus three and nine more equals, a whole bunch. 
 
Kate and I have grown as individuals and as a couple. In fact, I believe that that personal growth makes the marriage possible. Stagnation in one or both parties cannot be a good thing. We will celebrate our twenty-third wedding anniversary next month, and speaking for myself I look forward to many more to come. 
 
Over the next few days I will take us back to see where we have come from then look at where we are and finish with where we are going. In the meantime let us look at a few photos and a video or two of the first month in Kenya:
 
I did not find many pictures of Kate and myself but did find this cute one of Kate on the phone in the George Bush Intercontinental Airport
 
Kb 0105
She was negotiating luggage prices with our travel agent and British Air. Thankfully she managed to get them to honor their original agreement and saved us several hundreds of dollars.
 
Here is Makena and Butterfly playing in the airport:
 
Mb bb 0105
Butterfly was eighteen months old but pretty big. She filled out the baby cot in the airplane pretty well.
 
Bb 0105 (7)
 
Andrew enjoyed trying out all the amenities on offer and always knew the location and condition of the toilet. 
 
Ab mb 2 0105
Upon arrival immediately the children found all the animals so amazing and wonderful.
 
Ab mb bb 2 0105
Love Andrew's boots in the above picture.
 
There were many struggles that the children either did not know about or just were not as concerned about as much as mom and dad were. Thankfully we made it through them and these children have grown up into beautiful young people. 
 

Care Packages

It has been a long time since we had an article about care packages, and it has been ages since we received one! Granted, they do charge us at the post office a percentage of the amount written on the customs form, but some things we just cannot find in Kenya, and we would love to have them. Here is our wish list! For my friends with horse connections, finding some items are quite difficult. We are extremely happy with used items as long as they are in good condition. I will post the horse items here first because they are difficult to find in Kenya, but if that is not an area of interest for  you, please keep scrolling. We really miss certain things like ranch seasoning packets!

Horse stuff: (I am posting links to products so you can see what we are needing, but if you have used items in good condition, we are happy to use those!)

  • lead ropes (seriously, we have broken most of ours!)
  • 4 hackamores (bitless attachment so our horses can be ridden without bits) see this link or this link
  • 1/4" or 6mm thick parachord 100 ft long for making our own halters preferably turquoise or black, but not really picky!
  • 20 pieces if possible 1" Stainless Steel O rings to make our own bridles
  • 3 crops
  • 3 or so (because they break over time, but one will do!) lunge whips
  • bean bags (very important for our therapy sessions!)
  • plush dice
  • game idea books for horsey games (just search for some on Amazon) We aren't picky, and I don't have any!
  • cones
  • reins
  • breast plates (3 ponies, one horse)
  • Stirrup leathers 
  • stirrups
  • helmets
  • Rope halters
  • saddles obviously not easy to mail so designated funds to buy them here- $400 or so? I found one I really like! 
  • extra money for hay (it is tripled in price at the moment, so we need about $400 for 100 bales)
  • hay nets
  • speakers and ipod for music for therapy. Our speakers are not loud enough.

Meds:

  • Nyquil
  • ibuprofen
  • acetaminophen
  • Children's meds ages 1 year and up
  • vitamin C chewables
  • pepto
  • sore throat meds
  • allergy meds
  • bug bite meds
  • antibacterial cream

Household:

  • Mr. Clean erasers
  • hand towels
  • wash cloths
  • silicone Popsicle molds
  • LED solar twinkle lights (all sorts, these are fun!)
  • flashlights
  • hair bows for baby Starlette
  • hair brushes (remember, we live in a country where we are the minority so finding good hair brushes is difficult)

Food:

  • Ranch
  • TexJoy
  • butt rub
  • seasoned sunflower seeds
  • pistacios
  • pecans
  • almonds
  • marshmallows (both large and small)
  • hersheys
  • chocolate chips
  • peanut butter chips
  • m&m's
  • Reese's cups

school supplies

  • Pens
  • crayons
  • coloring books
  • erasers
  • pencils
  • paint brushes
  • watercolor paper
  • glue
  • notebooks

Pet Supplies

  • Dog sweaters for up on this cold mountain Size Great Dane
  • Dog leashes
  • Chew toys
  • Flea control
  • Dog bed

 


It's Friday!

Hello Friday.
 
School is back in full force. 
 
Weekend is just over the horizon. I wonder if I can manage to pull off doing nothing this weekend? My guess is that with fifteen children, farm animals, and trees to water the answer will be a resounding no. Sigh. Someday a weekend will come that will bring the blessed nothingness.
 
Last night during dinner preparations our gas cylinder needed replacing. (No piped cooking gas in the house we use cylinders. You know like the ones you take camping, only these are bigger.) Fortunately we have two. Unfortunately the replacement has a problem with the nozzle or whatever you call that thing. So dinner was cooked over coals. Not as convenient, but more African. In fact we had a Kenyan dish. I suppose it was appropriate we cooked it on a jiko over charcoal.
 
Busy day today. I, Johnny, will be Kate's driver as she places orders for lumber to build three more animal stalls and collects various bits and pieces for that project in Nakuru. There is still an ongoing fund raiser to help with these costs. The stalls will house animals related to the horse therapy and another cow. (At least the cow is planned right now. We might change our minds and do goats.) Thankfully Kate generally rewards my driving her around with nice food, perhaps Chinese today?
 
What are your weekend plans? Chinese on the menu?
 

Happy Birthday Edith!

Fourteen. 
 
Today we celebrate Edith's birthday. She was the first Kenyan girl to move in with us back in 2007. She was a spunky little four year old at the time who adjusted to being with us quickly. Now at fourteen she can be quiet as a mouse or loud as a lion. She is allergic to work, but quick to help out with Starlette (our one year old.) Lasagna is her favorite food, and she likes playing games on the IPad.
 
Edith starts her class eight this week in primary school. The final year. It is a big year for Kenyan school children. The test at the end determines where you can go to secondary school. We are sure she will do fine and hopefully can even enjoy this final year of primary school. 
 
Since it is January, our hot time of the year, we are going to go swimming in town at a place called Kivu. When we get back there will be a giant chocolate chip cookie made and some kind of beef stir fry thing for dinner.
 
Happy birthday Edith.
 
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