Tuesday, October 7, 2008

They Grow Up SO Fast!

I know that I didn't get SHORTER!!!

top photo: Me with Johnstone and Martin in February 2006
lower photo: Me with Martin and Timothy in July 2008

I still feel like I am about 25 years old. I'm NOT saying that I LOOK 25....in fact, sometimes lately I catch my reflection in a window or a mirror or see a photo of myself and think, "Oh my! When did I get so old!!?!"

That being said....all in all, I feel pretty youthful. I think a big part of this denial/young attitude is a result of not having kids when I was in my late 20's or early 30's like many of my peers did. I am always surprised when I meet somebody that is about my same age and they comment that they have kids in college or even more surprising....that they have GRANDKIDS! And then I do the math and realize that had my life taken a different path that I too could be a grandmother right now!

Over the past few weeks, I have been organizing the thousands of photos that I have taken of the kids at Oasis of Hope. As I look at some of the photographs taken 4 years ago and compare them to pics taken just a month ago....I am finally starting to understand how the passage of time is most reliably felt as you watch your kids get older.

Taking a boy or girl out of life on the street or life in a slum where food has been a luxury and not a given and then just feeding them 3 meals a day causes a remarkable change....in a really short period of time. Geoffrey (managing Oasis in Kenya) and I have finally learned not to buy too many sets of clothes for a child that is just coming off of the street because they outgrow them in just a few weeks when they start to eat regularly!

I have seen some of our boys actually grow over a foot in height in just a year!

So....I guess I am finally starting to "feel" my age a little bit as these boys and girls that I met as little kids are turning into young men and women. Of course, there are always new little ones coming into the program....the sad fact of Africa. I always say that the best day will be when we can hang a "closed" sign on the children's centre because there aren't any more kids in need of help. Wishful thinking on my part, I'm afraid.

I know for sure that some of these kids wouldn't be alive right now if not for Oasis of Hope. Malaria can kill a kid in a few days when they are on the street. Life is violent on the street too. I thank God every day that Oasis has been able to transform the lives of so many children.

But, there are so many more...waiting...waiting for THEIR chance....to go to school, to live in a home, to be safe and warm and dry in a bed at night. That is what keeps ME awake at night...praying for more people to come alongside me and the growing family of people who love these kids and who share the blessings of their own lives so that another child can be set free from a life of hunger, sickness, violence, and separation from God.

So here are some 'then' and 'now' photos of my "sons" and "daughters" in Kitale.
And like any mom would...I have to say I very proud I am of ALL of them!

But they do grow up SO fast!

Shaaban in January of 2005 and now (just enrolled in 7th Grade!)

Timothy (Timo) in January 2005 and now (a future Chef!)

Steward in January 2005 and now (doing great in 6th!)

Adorable Donald in January 2004 and now ( a busy 3rd grader!)

Beautiful Centrine in January 2005 and now (doing so well in 6th grade!)

Paul in September of 2005 on his first day of school and now (doing great in 6th)

Martin in February 2006 and now (top of his class in 7th grade!)

Elvis in January of 2005 and now (in his first year of High School!)

Johnstone in January 2006 and now (thriving in 7th grade!)

Ann, Nancy and Sheila in January of 2005 and Nancy, Ann and Sheila now (all doing well in school!)

Joseph...in March of 2006 and now (an active 6th grader!)

Bramwel: January 2005 and now (6'2" in the 6th grade and still growing!)

"Little" Evans in January of 2005 and now (doing awesome in 3rd grade!)

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