“Sitting at my farmhouse table my husband made 3 years ago, my mind sways off to memory lane of my 3-year-old old son playing outside in Kenya, Africa. The memories are so dear to me. It feels like yesterday when my feet first stood on that land 5 years ago.
’Why go there?’ they asked, ‘Why not build your life now?’ These were questions asked of us once my husband and I got married. As missionaries, we find this to be a very common response when we share that we are leaving for Kenya or anywhere else to serve. Even though my husband was already serving in Kenya, building an orphanage home 2 years before meeting me, people still made it hard for him. But despite the reactions of others, we pressed on and purchased our tickets.
You might ask, ‘What makes you do this?’ Well, what fueled my husband to start building homes for orphans in Kenya was, personally, his love of God. He wanted to give back. The same goes for myself. We may seem crazy about laying down our lives and future for them, but we see the worth and a great blessing in it. With all this hope and worth within us, we flew as newlyweds to Kenya for almost a month.
Upon my first visit there in December of 2014, I spent most of my time serving the construction workers with food and visiting with our village children. We played a lot and laughed a lot. Our interaction with each other consisted of smiles, laughter, and allowing them to touch my skin and hair. Yes, that sounds a bit strange but for some reason, that was their favorite thing to do. Oh, I can’t forget sweets–they love sweets but what kid doesn’t? Sadly, the babies were frightened of me because they had never seen a light-skinned person. But after some time, they warmed up to me and soon, they’d always be in my arms.
During this first trip, we had the privilege of meeting with another orphanage near Mombasa, Kenya after a day and a half worth of a driving. Our visit was short, but the goal was to see the children and gift them with special presents from America. The children’s smiles seemed to go up to their ears and they couldn’t stop leaping for joy. I was filled with mixed emotions, though. I was sad to see their conditions, to see how many children no one deeply love like they deserved. Yet I was filled with joy knowing possibly, just this one time, they’d feel so much love, their hearts would explode. I even witnessed one child being so cold to me but then his heart became so soft after my short visit there. All I could think was, ‘No child deserves what they have gone through and are still going through.’ This fueled me, even more, to bless my husband in all the work he voluntarily does in Kenya.
Our first trip together came to an end. We headed back to the States knowing our next trip would be for a grand opening of the orphanage home. Little did we know, we would arrive back to our rental home in Oregon with a very special surprise. I was pregnant! We were so excited and shared with our close ones the news.
Close to being 4-months pregnant, we received news the officials in Kenya had approved our Orphanage Home. This was such great news to us and without hesitation, we took the next steps to return to Kenya. If you can remember what I said about others with their concerns and questions for us leaving on our first trip together–well, they continued before our second trip as well. This time their responses were harder to deal with. I was pregnant and their concerns were deep within me as well.
One of the leading causes of death in Kenya is due to Malaria. From what I was told by locals, Malaria and Typhoid are a huge common reason for many deaths within their villages. If not caught in time or treated immediately, the symptoms become extremely life-threating to whoever has it. Being treated comes with a price and many locals cannot afford that. A simple treatment is able to save many children and adults but without money, they can’t receive it, which results in many deaths. I wasn’t afraid of not being treated. I was simply afraid of getting it and not knowing what could happen to our baby. Such illness can kill an unborn baby within the womb of the mother. To take precautions, I took pre-malaria pills our USA doctor gave me. I was certain everything would be ok.
With such fear, you may ask, ‘Why did you take the risk?’ Sometimes, we need someone to have that faith for us and rest in that. This is what I did. My husband had so much faith, it was the will of God for me to go. Everything would be alright, no matter what happened. My heart rested in faith and this faith got me through a trial I was truly praying so hard I wouldn’t have to go through.
During our second trip together in Kenya in March of 2015, we celebrated with our village and local officials as we cut the ribbon to the Orphanage Home. We rejoiced, danced in the Kenyan way, worshiped God, and feasted together. It was such as joyous day! The day after the celebration, my husband and a few others left to northern Kenya, close to Somalia, which happens to be a very dangerous area. Due to that reason, I had to stay behind at the Orphanage Home.
While he was there, I became ill. I informed my husband I was feeling sick and he had our local staff rush me to the hospital. As my husband expected, I had malaria. I was extremely frightened for the unborn child within my womb. I didn’t want Malaria to harm my baby or kill it. Questions flowed within me: ‘Did I have malaria for a long time? What will they give me? Will my baby be safe with all the medicines? Will my husband be safe?’ With all these worries and fears, the Lord reminded me He was the one who gave me the child. He knew the plans and His perfect will is always good for those who love Him, no matter what. With this assurance, I sat in the waiting area of the hospital until the doctor came.
‘Doctor, is everything going to be okay with my baby?’ I asked.
With laughter, he pressed around on my belly and said, ‘Yes, everything will be just fine. You came just in time and your case is not severe. Just take these medications I prescribe to you and all will be well. Don’t worry, many women deal with this here. All will be fine.’
His words were a breath of fresh air to me. ‘All will be fine.’ I return to the orphanage.
As I look back on this now, I know this moment was a test of trusting my faith. Sadly, I left that trip discouraged because I was not able to see the children move in. I knew I’d have to wait a few years before I’d get to hold and play with them. Once again, the Lord quickly came to encourage me by saying, ‘The next time you come here, Nancy, it won’t be just you playing with the orphans, but your child as well.’
When we arrived back in the States, I had an appointment for a checkup, as well as an ultrasound to find out the gender of our child. I was so excited, mainly to hear how the baby was growing. Praise God all the results showed I was healthy, and the baby was perfect. Not only that but the baby was a precious little boy! Our hearts rejoiced to all of this great news!
After 3 years, I finally was able to return. This time, Johnny, my husband, was not alone when he greeted the children, but with our son and me. For the first time, I met the 28 children who had already been living in the home for those 3 years. I greeted them with tight hugs and many tears. I couldn’t believe before my eyes were the children whom we have been laboring so long for.
Before we left on the trip, we were a little concerned for our son, but again the Lord was faithful in comforting us. We knew, once again, everything would be just fine.
Our son was 3 years old when he first went to Kenya. He fit in so perfectly as if he’d always known them. They loved him so preciously. They were always by his side wanting to care of him and wanting to make sure he was safe. Our children never let him out of sight, and they were constantly playing games with him. The locals loved him so much and were so surprised to see a light-colored baby. It’s crazy to know this was the first every light-colored skin baby in the village.
Since then, our son and I have returned each year and my husband returns every 3 to 4 months. My son and I desire to stay connected with them through letters and through video chat. It has been 8 years since the work in Kenya began and 4 years since our children have been living in our home. We started with 25 children and grew to 31. The work in Kenya started as an Orphanage Home and now, a few villages down, we purchased 7 acres of land for a school that will educate over 400 children. This work is worth it because each child is worth it.
We see ourselves as little vessels in the grand work God wants to do in these children’s lives. It’s a privilege and an honor. We don’t see this as a good deed but as a calling. Our life is not easy, nor is the work easy, but it’s extremely worth every sleepless night.
I want you to be encouraged as you read this and be challenged to lay your life down for another, especially for a child. You may be the only resource of love and example they will ever have in their life. Know the Lord will always be there to help in every hour of need. He never leaves His children.
If you believe you should work in this field with orphans, you can be part of the work in Kenya by joining us or you can do this work within your county and state. There are so many children within your area in desperate need of a loving and safe home. Be the love that they need.
Each day is a gift to us and all that is around us. May we always be willing to share that with others, especially with children birthed from us and those not. Everyone deserves a chance and to be loved, no matter where they have come from. I love the words of Anne Frank, ‘No one has ever become poor by giving.’ As a full-time volunteer missionary, we can say amen to that. There is not a second that goes by I regret the service we do for these children. There is only joy.
My son and I count down the days until we will return to the Kenyan fields, where our children are. We truly can’t wait to be together with them. These are our richest gifts–our son and our many children in Kenya. I can’t wait for the day when we can live there full-time, so we won’t have to say goodbye or have to fly 20 hours to see them. But until then, I leave my farmhouse table to go labor and provide for them, keeping every memory of them within our prayers, hearts, and home.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Nancy B. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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