Wednesday, September 7, 2011

mosaic designs items for sale


mosaic designs items, a set on Flickr.

Here are just a few of the items that will be for sale at the Freedom Fest this weekend!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Home At Last

The Kenya team has arrived safely back in PA and hopefully we are all now in the comfort of our own homes spending time with family and friends. We left Kitale on Sunday and drove to Nairobi. We had a lovely Italian dinner out in town (thanks to the Roches for treating us all) and then headed to the hotel for one more night of rest before the big travels begin. Monday morning we headed out on a 5 hour safari at the Nairobi National Park where we saw monkeys, giraffes, zebras, lots of birds a rhino, gazelles, and more.
We began flying around 5:30 Monday night after a quick delay due to technical difficulties. I am always so thankful for those at home praying. It always makes me a little nervous when they say a plane has technical difficulties and then we are in the air in that plane a couple hours later. :| We made it safely to Dubai, and then boarded a 13 hour flight to JFK. There were some medical emergencies on the plane that caused some commotions and a bit of confusion. When we landed in NY they had us wait on the plane while a medic team came and removed the young boy who had a seizure on the plane. I am always so grateful for God's protection over our travels.
We all made it through immigration and headed out into the stifling HOT weather. It took about 3.5 hours to get back to PA but we were all excited to get back into town. Hopefully we are changed forever. I know it will look different for each one of us, but I truly hope that each one of us had an encounter with Christ that has drawn us closer to His heart. It was a privilege to serve together. We will post photos soon once we get them loaded onto computers.

Bless you all. Thanks for praying and following our journey.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Not Goodbye....See You Later

The past two days have been so busy wrapping things up with various work projects and saying our goodbyes. I have found myself more emotional than I anticipated. Having been coming here and investing in some of the same lives for the past 4 years, I have found that many of the girls and some of the staff have become like family. It is hard not knowing when I will get to share life again. I am so incredibly proud of the Neema girls and their staff. Yesterday late afternoon, the girls had finished working but they were still here waiting for their taxi. I was just returning form town and I heard their giggles in the back yard. Penny and Hayley were playing a game with them and they were loving it.....even mama janet joined in the fun. I decided that it was time to join the fun. When leading a team I often find my time is scattered between leading, directing, overseeing....I can sometimes miss out on some of the "fun" times. We spent the next 45 minutes playing "Big Booty". While the game itself is simple and silly, I loved seeing the girls personalities coming out as they got to be girls. It is such a difference from the shy girls I met 4 years ago. They are gaining confidence and feel safe enough to have fun. I find myself going from tears to smiles when I reflect on everything that has happened the past several days.

Yesterday the team parted ways:
  • AJ worked on the building project for the new NEEMA school
  • Seth and Nate went out on home deliveries with Anne (the TI social worker)
  • Eileen, Bob, Lori and I stayed here to work with the girls and watch the Shimo girls children
  • the rest spent the morning at In-Step hanging out with Jeff and Carla and all the kiddos
It felt like a busy day. We spent the afternoon playing with the girls and their kids and then had a gathering with all the workers and paid them for their work. I was so excited to hand them the money they earned after working this week. I hope that we can somehow provide ongoing funds for these awesome girls.
Today, we headed out to the Veronica Home for one last day with Ben, Virginia, and all the children. We all took a walk up to where the school building for the Neema Project is going up. They completed so much this week. I am thrilled that the guys and some of the girls from the team got to help Adam and the Kenyan men build it. We spent alot of time raising funds for the school and now to see it with windows and doors......I can only imagine how it will feel when the classrooms are set up and the girls are sitting in their learning. We played, took photos, ate lunch, and then came more farewells. :(
We came home as the neema girls were finishing up their sewing projects. I could hardly believe everything they had gotten done. After they cleaned up I gathered them together and talked with them for a bit about how their life has changed since going through the neema project. I thanked them for all their hard work and as I went on to talk with them about how proud I am of them the tears began to fall. I am not ready to leave them so soon. Not yet, not now. Sharon (one of the girls) suggested that Rick (my husband) come here with me to buy land so that we can have a home here. She even said she would take care of our babies one day. :) Oh how I adore that fiesty gal.
I guess that's it for now. I will write more later and will be posting photos once we get home. Stay tuned for more information. We begin our journey home tomorrow morning with a drive across he country back to Nairobi. We will be back in the US, Tuesday at 7:45 and then we arrive back in West Chester around noon. We look forward to sharing so much more with you all in person.


Thursday, July 14, 2011


This afternoon a group of us walked with the Shimo girls to their village, a slum on the east side of Kitale. Every slum is known for something, and Shimo is known for a fairly potent beverage that many of the men drink. The village was set in a beautiful lush green valley with a river running through the it. Late afternoon rains caused our journey to be a rather muddy adventure. The Shimo girls helped us navigate a steep,treacherous rock stairway leading down to a wooden bridge that crossed the river. While passing we saw young girls and boys collecting muddied drinking water from the stream. We asked our guides about the water and were told that those who can afford clean water buy it in the town, but others must use the water from the river. On the other side of the bridge children lined the stairway and greeted us with shouts of “How are you? How are You?” which is a typical greeting Kenyan children use when they see white people. After greeting the children, we crossed back over the bridge and began walking through the village where, one by one, the girls left us to return home to their babies and extended family. Some walked off to cement block homes, yet many returned to houses made from mud and branches. As our group walked toward the compound, we fell silent each of us recalling the sounds of laughter and friendship we have built with these young women who face life’s challenges with grace and dignity. We have been blessed with the opportunity to build bridges of friendship and hope with these young mothers whom we will not soon forget.

Eileen & Penny

Questions asked by Nate

as a journalist, i love a good question. us guys here in kitale, kenya (and a few brave girls) have been constructing a school/office building at the veronica home the past week. and you can be sure there are just as many unspoken questions flying through the brains of the local kenyan workers as there are in our westernized thinkers. there’s a man in blue who doesn’t work too hard that is always staring at us and smirking. i can only imagine the questions running through his brain... “do these white people really glow in the dark?” “since when are women construction workers?” “why is there more hair coming out of the top of that burly white man’s shirt than from the bottom of his hat?” i am that burly man and i have some questions of my own... “why can’t the man in the blue shirt and all of his friends grow beards?” “why does that one guy wear work gloves but no shoes?” “why is no one in a hurry to do anything in this country except when they’re driving?” today during lunch i watched a malnurished puppy try to poop, but for whatever reason his excriment just would not break free from him. he scurried around the yard trying to dislodge it with incredible shame on his face during the whole process. it was hilarious and i think he knew we were laughing at him. but at the same time, i’m hoping this kenyan experience is like the turd that would not fall from my brain.... so to speak. i came here with questions and i leave with many more, but i think that’s a good thing. i will leave here in a few days inspired with both the first-hand realization that i’m a spoiled american and that i am blessed with far too much to just waste. and when i get home i will probably do my best to forget those convictions because i think i have everything i need there. and that’s not exactly the best place to be. so back to the dangling poo... i can only hope that what i’ve seen and what i’ve heard here will refuse to be shaken. i can only hope that the life i’ve lived for a short 10 days in africa will force me to ask questions to both myself, but especially God. i am blessed and i have far more than the people here, but too many times i smile and laugh and love far less. i guess the real question is... “why did i have to come all the way to kenya to figure that out?”


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

1 Selfless Couple + 103 Abandoned Children = In-Step

Hello Friends!
Today we had the privilege to visit In-Step. This is a children's home that houses 103 beautiful children, all of whom we got to play with. Jeff and Carla (who are the house parents that started In-Step) house about 25 babies and the rest mainly under the age of five. As soon as we pulled up into the children's home, all of the children were there waiting for us screaming in excitement and anticipation to play with us. As soon as we were given the okay to go play, there were already three children clinging to my legs lifting there arms up to be held. At one point we took out bubbles and as soon as the first ones were in the air, the children flocked over and the next thing I know was I was surrounded by 10 toddlers all yelling the same thing. "Na mimi! Na mimi!" Was being said out of the kids mouth which means 'even me' as I tried to give each one of them a turn to blow bubbles. One child that really struck me was Ronnie. Ronnie was about three years old and even though the other children would come and move on to the next person, Ronnie clung to my side the whole time. I would throw him up and spin him around just watching his face as it lit up with joy. Thats when I knew how much I loved these children and bringing smiles to their faces, even if for a short amount of time. Ronnie was abandoned at six months, and his grandmother who was the next relative to take care of him was dying herself, so that's when she contacted In-Step. This is just one story of a 103 children in this home, all of which tares at your heart. When I brought Ronnie in for lunch, I could see his big brown eyes start to well up and I promised him I would come back when he was done. I didn't know how hard that was until I walked away and felt like I was a mother dropping her child off in daycare for the first time and might of had a little separation anxiety as well.
We left In-Step around two when all of the children were taking their naps and myself as well as two other teammates and Faith went into town to get a few things. Not too long after we got there and three street boys were already following us asking for money and food. Even though none of us had the money of food to give them at the time, we showed them love by asking their names and ages as well as where they stay. From then on they continued to walk with us until we left knowing we couldn't meet their physical needs but were able to spend time with them and acknowledge their presence. This trip has been such a blessing to all of us and it has been awesome to put what we've learned here into practice and I can't wait to bring this home.
For more information about IN-Step go to:
In Christ,
Hayley Gerrard

Monday, July 11, 2011

The One Who Showed Mercy

What does it mean to love those who live in poverty?
We started our morning talking about how we are to love people who are the poor in our community and in our world. There are children who are starving and people who have no home. We are to love them, but how? Acknowledge them personally, comfort their broken spirits, and give wisely.

The ladies spent our day working with the girls sewing and beading. It seems so simple, we sit, we string beads onto a string, but this small task saves the girls from a life of selling themselves. Seeing one girl with her son Darlington, knowing that he will not go hungry and she can live with dignity. Knowing that he will have another option than life on the street.

The girls and their teachers work so hard each day they have come here. They serve, they work, they care. They struggle to let us serve them in almost any way. It was a beautiful picture to see these women finally allowing us to serve them. Weathered skin, relaxing, and soothed. Some girls massaged aged hands, others painted nails. Such a blessing to serve.

We had our daily, afternoon thunderstorm. The deep blue sky, rolled in, the thunder shook the ground as we laughed and embraced.

We are allowing these snapshots to change our hearts and create room to love more and to love deeply. Seth reminded us this morning to carry these snapshots with us when we return home and these snapshots we have to share with you. I can only hope that they change your heart, opening it up to love more and more.