Our family LOVES to visit Joyland Boarding School for Special Needs. We know this because Tavin and Taleah always ask when can we go there and after we leave, they always ask when we can go again. It might seem strange to enjoy a place that houses children whose crippled bodies just begin to tell their sad stories, but sadness is not where they live. Although violence, pain and rejection stole their innocence, the overwhelming power of God’s grace holds them. Even in the midst of a run-down facility that has no library, no playground, no games, crafts or activities, these kids find joy in simply being; that joy permeates the air. You can read about our last visit to Joyland and see some of our friends. They’ve been looking forward to you!
Dennis met us at the gate. Running along side the car, he showed us where to park. Dennis doesn’t put out his hand for us to shake because he has no arms. Instead, he bows his head for us to touch, and he responds with a sweet smile. Dennis is 9 years old. He writes and draws with ease. He’s also a mischievous clown. While Lisa was giving the kids balloons, so many little hands stretched out wanting one; all of a sudden a small foot reached in, bending it’s toes around a red balloon trying to lift it from the pile. “Dennis!” Lisa teased him, “If you do that again, I’m gonna tickle that foot!” He grinned, bumping his head against her arm.
Churchill doesn’t like to talk. Shyly, he sat by our feet always watching and listening. Hugging a two foot high walking stick, his face holds experiences far beyond his tender four years. We’re guessing he’s four because nobody knows how old Churchill is. He waddled over to receive a yellow balloon from Taleah. He waddled back and finds his spot on the ground, looking at his prize with wonder.
Mark’s new buddy is Benta. She took a shine to him after they sang together, and he handed her a balloon. Benta’s struggles to walk because her legs have no bones below the knee. She loved that Mark patiently helped her move outside where all the fun was happening. Throughout the afternoon she followed Mark, which according to the dorm mamma, was the most Benta’s ever moved around! Benta doesn't speak, but she's constantly humming the music Jesus placed in her heart.
After singing praise songs, bouncing balls and eating sweets, a bunch of us hung around sharing testimonies. Finally Alvin, a tiny guy who wants to be a doctor someday, asked us why we are white and our kids are not. We looked at him with wide-eyed shock. “What!” we exclaimed, “We’re white??? Oh my gosh, when did that happen?” Everyone laughed, and we all sat comfortably in each others' presence, breathing in the joy-filled African air.
Below are some more photos of our day at Joyland. Ask Tavin and David (Carolyne’s son) how the boys with significant physical challenges teamed up to play an exciting game of soccer, till the ball popped!
Please pray as we develop a culturally relevant character club to take into the children homes we visit. Also, for Mark as he meets with his "water team" next Sunday. Lisa starts handing out her "tract" this week and continues working with the widowed mommas to take their spiritual training into practical places. Tavin travels to Nairobi with his school to participate in a track meet at Nyanyo Stadium. Taleah is helping plan a birthday party for Carolyne (who's never celebrated her birthday before). Shhhh! The party is a surprise.
Asante sana for your prayers, support and encouragement.
hugs from the haugers oooo