Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Fifteen years ...


It seems like yesterday but also a lifetime ago that you left the world as we know it to be.
I remember that day so vividly in my mind, like it is frozen in time.
A Thursday in April that started out so ordinary, now engraved on our hearts with the wound of grief.

All those things we didn’t say…

My greatest longing for you was to be well – to be happy and safe, out of trouble or harms way and to know your worth.
I know you wanted this for me, too.

My deepest regret is the last time I saw you on this earth, I was angry and hurt that you were high.
I’m sorry. I know you are, too.

My love for you has never wavered.
I know now that you genuinely loved me, too.

You wanted to protect us -  
From your pain – your hurt – your demons –your fears – your experiences – your addiction.

I wish I could have shouldered some of that burden for you.

My heart aches for the suffering of others and I truly believe that began with you, dear brother.
Thank you for teaching me to see people and to desire to know them fully.   

(Ubuntu.)

I am growing into the knowledge that you can’t experience joy without experiencing pain - One simply cannot exist without the other.

My hope lies in knowing that what was once lost, can be found and where there is sorrow, sweetness will someday follow.
  
I believe you will always be a friend to many young and old , here and in heaven above.

To my oldest sibling, as I continue to grow and change with the passing of time - 
You are forever young.

You are remembered
You are loved
You remain a part of us.


In the wake of death, may we all find life -
And live it abundantly.

#fifteenyears  #timemarcheson #personal

xo,



"When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are...For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost." Buechner

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Home safe and sound!

Hi everyone, I'm behind on my posts so more stories to come, but wanted to let you all know that I am home from Kenya, safe and sound.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to go and be love and more so for the incredible support and encouragement I've received throughout this journey.
Thank you all for praying with and for me, I so appreciate the love from each of you! I hope you know that you are all a part of each story I experienced, thank you for allowing me to be love to so many young and old along the way.

xo,
Mandy


"You were created to love and be loved.

 You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known.
 You need to know your story is important, and you're part of a bigger story.
 You need to know your life matters."

- To Write Love on Her Arms 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Closing Day at RingRoad

Today was the last day of school for the term for the RingRoad kids. We spent the morning organizing items to be handed out after the closing day assembly and awards. Similar to Allara from last week, each child was given a bag of "Christmas" food to take home, along with mosquito nets for the smaller children, and new uniforms for all. The girls were given new undewear, thanks to #pantiesforapurpose we had over 600 pairs to distribute which was amazing! The girls were excited and grateful, so thank you to everyone for contributing to this need. 
In the afternoon, Cassi, Alex and I took four of the kids from RingRoad to the Mega City shopping center to do some shopping with money sent via their sponsors. It was so great to see these kids with so little, use their money for new school shoes, school books and groceries for their families. We had an eventful time piling 7 people into a TukTuk, plus all of the goods and driving them home back towards the Nyalenda slums!
It was another full day, but filled with wonderful people and experiences - hard to believe how fast the time has gone by and we will be leaving soon to come home.
Planning to spend the weekend at the children's hospital, reunite with Obama and volunteer again at New Life baby home - Packing it in!

Thanks for the encouragement and for following the journey.

xo,
Mandy
Sharon, Terri, Mary and friends now in class 6!

Handing out new shirts and underwear!


Closing day! 



Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving in Kenya

Just a quick update as its Thursday in Kenya which is Thanksgiving in America. Time is flying by during my time in Kisumu and each days feels so full. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to visit this place and meet so many wonderful people and to the Nicholson family for graciously hosting us during this trip.
We had a lovely meal this afternoon with several other missionary families from the States and did our best to create a traditional Thanksgiving dinner! It was great to celebrate so much and learn different stories from these families and what they are doing here in Kenya, from ministering to street kids, providing hope to widows and orphans and empowering these people with trust and faith.

Sending blessings and love to you and yours on this day of thanks - Happy Thanksgiving friends!

xo,
Mandy 

Cassi, Sarah, Ruth Michael, Chris, Abby Jones
Me & Iddy 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Care for Aids in Kisumu

The past two days we spent time with Care for Aids in and around Kisumu, in both Nyalenda and Manyata slums. 

Day one, we spent the morning with Care for Aids at a Kisumu center in Nyalenda. Having become a supporter of CFA over the past year alongside my sister and  friends in Atlanta (flashback to our ReProm event and Red Run 5k this past year) I was super excited to see this organization in action.  We had the chance to sit in during health and spiritual counseling sessions with several clients and learn more about their stories. I was struck mostly by the two youngest clients we met, Lynette and John who were both only 21 years old learning to cope with life HIV positive. In the four months they've been in this nine month long program, every client we met was showing visible physical improvement and appeared to be learning and growing as well. 
In the afternoon we made our way back to RingRoad to assist with the afternoon VBS taking place. It was a good time to see and meet old and new faces from the community while the kids could play and be kids. We had an interesting and chaotic time passing out crayons and coloring pages, but the kids ultimately had fun! 


Day two we attended a CFA "seminar" day in a more rural part of the Nyalenda slums where we listened in (the talk was predominantly in swahili) - pertaining to drug and substance abuse and the importance of caring for your body and mind as you cope with HIV and AIDS.
Afterwards the center served the 50 or so clients in attendance lunch of rice, beans and cabbage which Cassi and I were able to distribute. One of the clients brought her three tiny and adorable TRIPLET daughters and I had the chance to help in holding one of them during lunch. She is not only fighting HIV, but she literally has her hands full with three small babies and three other children and recenltly suffered a bad fall breaking one of her arms. 
After lunch we made our way to the other side of town to a slum community called Manyata, where we visited another CFA center and participated in home visits with three clients. The stigma of HIV and AIDS is quite intense within the African culture and many are outcast and ostracized in thier communitities. Care for Aids combats this by seeing each client as a valuable human being and regularly visits them at their homes, thus making them feel seen and cared for regardless of their status.

Diana and her children 

Karen 
Lynette 

Baby Lovin' this tiny bundled little - 1 of a set of triplet girls! 


Home visits with CFA staff in Manyata

Sweet babies sittin' in Manyata

xo, 
Mandy

"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness." 
Desmond Tutu

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sweet kiddos in the Nyalenda slums










In and around Nyalenda, Kisumu - Sweet sweet children everywhere!


Sunday in Kisumu

Today we went to church at Ring Road and had the opportunity to see a lot of the day school kids and teachers. Cassi and I walked to and from church with Alex, a kind and smart boy from class 8 who lives with Chris & Sarah - we joked with him that he was our body guard, and he pretty much was as he’s grown super tall since we met him and his buddy Fabbish two years ago during the TOMS shoe fitting. I don’t feel unsafe here, but am very aware that I stand apart from most when out and about...it’s best to not walk alone and to have a trusty local to pal around with.
A couple of kids came to the house in the afternoon for a true American lunch of turkey sandwhiches (for those concerned about what we’re eating - it’s been super versatile from local chapati and beans to vegetarian Indian, to taco soup, so plenty of options!) and then later in the day to play in the Nicholson’s yard. This is a weekly thing and children gather at the gate every Sunday afternoon to play and spend time at the house. It was another laid back day but I got to spend some quality time one on one with several of the kids and learn more about them. I know they are all having a tough time with the reality the Nicholsons will be leaving at the end of December as this couple and family truly are doing Gods work in a very big way and have shown immense love and compassion and support towards the Ring Road community.
Some pictures from the past few days...

Wifi is spotty so sharing when I can!







xo,
Mandy