This Right Here Is A Real-Live Giddy Up

Okay. Before I tell you about the biggest parts of today, there are two things I need to mention.

1) Yesterday, right before we left the Rift Valley, I met a little girl.

Her name is Eunice. And I was just a little bit beside myself when I found out her name because A) I don’t think I’ve ever met a child named Eunice and B) I’ve spent a minute or nine thinking and writing and talking about Eunice (the one from the Bible) over the last couple of years.

Meeting Eunice basically helped me muster the will to get back in the truck and endure the dirt road once again. And after meeting Eunice yesterday, today I met Lois, Mary, Elizabeth, Naomi, and Ruth. So if you’ve read Giddy Up, Eunice, please join me in pondering WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

2) Today when we were touring the church we visited, Alex wandered off from our group. Here is where I found him.

He didn’t win, but he said he made a pretty good comeback towards the end of the match.

So. Anyway.

Today was amazing, y’all.

This morning our Compassion group traveled to a rural part of Nairobi. We drove about thirty minutes down a dirt road (it wasn’t nearly as bumpy as yesterday’s travel situation, so feel free to pause for a moment of praise) to visit a church that overlooks the Rift Valley. Our vans stopped right outside the church’s gates, and as soon as we hopped out, we could hear the ladies from the church singing to welcome us. Then we saw them.

They walked in our direction, grabbed our hands, and literally danced us into the sanctuary. It was the most joy-filled welcome I’ve ever experienced.

(Listen. Alex was all about it.)

The women participate in a Compassion initiative that teaches and cares for moms of young children. Because of Compassion, those moms and their kids receive regular medical screenings and nutritional supplements. They learn how to take the kale and spinach seeds that Compassion provides them and grow crops that will feed their families. They have the opportunity to receive training in several different fields – cosmetology, rug making, beading, and computer skills – so that they can learn trades that will enable them find work in their community.

Those women and their babies – all between 1 and 3 years old – gather regularly at the church, and y’all, their sense of community was palpable. They know each other, they know each other’s children, and they live real life together. In an area of Nairobi where they could easily feel isolated and alone, those women have real, genuine community.

They also have some incredibly adorable children.

And as I watched the mothers and their children today, I thought about my “mama friends” back in Birmingham. Motherhood brings so many opportunities to worry and stress and doubt and second guess, and if you add impoverished living conditions to that list of concerns, you can imagine how overwhelmed those moms must sometimes feel.

But they have each other. They’re learning together, growing together, and raising their babies together. And as someone who is *slightly* passionate about the church esteeming and investing in women – equipping them to love each other really well across generations – seeing how that local church partners with Compassion to serve those families pretty much fired me ALL THE WAY UP. I was tempted to break out my praise dance, but I didn’t want to frighten the children.

(I don’t really have a praise dance.)

(I’d be happy to learn one, though.)

Another thing I couldn’t help but notice? The women who participate in the Compassion initiative have FUN together. At one point this morning Bri and I went with the Compassion center director to visit with some of the women in their training classes, and as we were walking out of one of the classrooms, we heard women laughing hysterically several yards away. We walked in their direction and discovered that the women in the kitchen were having all manner of fun as they prepared lunch for everyone. Their babies were in the nursery area, so the mamas? The mamas LET LOOSE.

I loved them instantly.

We talked for several minutes about cooking and butter and friends and fried chicken, and their affection for each other was so evident. Their joy was contagious. Their comfort in each other’s company was flat-out encouraging. As women, we crave that kind of connection, you know? And thanks to Compassion, these women have it.

Their children’s lives will be all the better for it.

Which brings me, finally, to this.

This afternoon Alex and I visited the home of one of the moms, Ruth, and her son, Joseph. Joseph is only eight months old, so technically he isn’t eligible for sponsorship yet, but in four months, when he turns one, he will be. The Compassion workers at the church have already identified this particular family as having great need, and his mother, Ruth, is part of the community I’ve been talking about.

We were so honored to get to spend some time with them.

(I KNOW.)

Alex and I felt an instant connection with them. First of all, there’s the shared family name (my uncle Joe and Alex’s cousin, Joseph). Second of all, you can imagine that I felt some kinship with a mama named Ruth – my Giddy Up radar was strong. And third of all, we were a mama and a son visiting a mama and a son. Two women and their babies. It’s just that one of those babies is more of a man at this point.

The time, y’all. It flies.

Ruth showed us her chickens, her garden (oh my goodness at her garden – she actually sells some of her produce to neighbors), and her kitchen. She showed us how she starts a fire when she needs to boil water or cook rice or fry some ciabati bread on the griddle.

And she showed us – through her kindness, her gentleness, and her commitment to caring for her people – how deeply she loves her family. How much she hopes and dreams for her son.

At the end of our visit, we were standing in Ruth’s garden, watching her with Joseph, when Alex looked over and caught my eye. We stared at each other for a few seconds – and I knew exactly what he was thinking.

“Do you think,” I asked, “that, when Joseph turns one, maybe we should be his sponsors?”

Alex practically interrupted me to answer: “YES.”

We weren’t planning to sponsor a child today. When we got to the church this morning, we had no idea that we’d be at Ruth and Joseph’s home this afternoon. But I was in absolute agreement with Alex’s “YES.” And I’ll tell you something else: it was the sweetest thing to say good-bye and know that our families will be connected for years to come.

Lord willing, our family will be Joseph’s far-away family when he learns to sing along at church, when he starts first grade, when he learns to ride a bike, when he starts middle school and gets a little awkward and gangly, and when he goes to high school – all the while growing into the man the Lord is calling him to be.

Lord willing, Joseph’s sponsorship will encourage his mama to stay connected to the local church and to her community there.

I’m so grateful for today’s up-close look at a church that’s fiercely committed to the physical and spiritual well-being of women and children. The church’s partnership with Compassion enables them to meet the physical needs of the women in their community effectively and with great integrity. It enables them to offer mothers consistent, loving, supportive fellowship.

I am ALL ABOUT IT, y’all. And I’m convinced that many of you are, too.

Right now there are 17 unsponsored children in Kenya between the ages of 1 and 3. I’m convinced that this community – the people who read this blog – can sponsor those children and partner with Compassion to release them from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Let’s step up for those children. Let’s step for those families. Let’s step up for the church.

Giddy up.

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Comments

  1. These posts are speaking some truth to my heart this week! My family sponsors a child in Kenya & I keep studying the pictures in hope of seeing her face. Prayers if blessing & goodness for the rest of your trip!

  2. Oh my goodness, Sophie. Your words are so sweet. I am just tearing up at the love that is being shown to and from your new friends. Thank God for this important work that you, Alex, and your team is doing. Thank you for sharing it with us! Giddy Up!

  3. Sophie, this is blessing me to no end! Love, love, love that you are getting to share all of this with your son. Precious, heavenly memories. Praying for your guys and the rest of your trip.

  4. Lisa B says:

    No words.. Just praising God you and Alex said YES to going on this trip and sharing it with us!

  5. Jennifer says:

    Meeting that girl named Eunice – my friend’s daughter would say that was a God wink! Love it! Thanks for sharing!

  6. This made me cry! Beautiful words and beautiful foursome.

  7. JennyJoT says:

    Oh, Sophie! This post blessed me SO much. My husband and I have had the privilege of visiting 3 of our Compassion children over the years (Tanzania – 2006, Guatemala – 2008, and Kenya – 2014). And you are exactly right – it is a FANTASTIC program. For those of us who get to actually visit our children in their homes, life is never the same again. I am so thankful you are there, and sharing this good news in your inimitable way. And that Alex is experiencing this at HIS age? Absolutely priceless.
    Praying for you as you go and as you share. God bless.
    Oh, by the way, the bread they make? It’s called chapati! (My husband was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya for 2 years in the 80’s, so he knows these things).

  8. Liz Polk says:

    Thank you so much again for all the beautiful pictures and descriptions – we feel like we’re there with you and your son! Bless you for sharing and for being there!!

  9. Robin in New Jersey says:

    Beautiful! Question: was it cold there? I noticed all the kids have on sweaters and hats.

  10. Janice says:

    Dear Sophie,
    Thank you so much for beautifully capturing the hearts and spirit of this sweet church community. I fell in love instantly! Last night I was reading your blog after coming home exhausted from another busy day on a med/surg floor, and I knew without question when I saw sweet Sheann’s face in the list of those who still needed sponsorship, that God was saying “Yes”. I’m thrilled! Last month, became a first time grandma (it’s shocking because clearly I’m way too young! Or not. Well, at least on the inside!) Anyway…now I have 2 sweet little ones who are just barely a year apart, Selah & Sheann, to love and pray for, and to be an outside influence as they grow to be, Lord willing, strong women of faith. God is so good! Thank you again, Sophie, for giving us a glimpse of this dear community. I am now all the richer because of it!

  11. When you lend your voice to Compassion, share the stories of precious people half way around the world, it is a beautiful thing, friend. Seeing Alex there with you this go ’round? I can barely stand it!

    All the giddyupness + goodness = and Godness. Now, that’s some serious math :).

    You make me smile from the inside out, love, laughter, and so much Light.

    xo

  12. I love this. And I love that sweet (and TALL) Alex Hudson has such a sweet, sweet spirit. Oh my word.

  13. Tears are in my eyes as I write this! I just love how God gave you so many tangible connections to the people there. What a fun and unexpected blessing! Praying for a great rest of your trip!

  14. This post has me a sobbing mess. Touched my heart so much. God bless you and Alex as you continue your journey with Compassion.

  15. Tricia says:

    Sophie this post brought tears to my eyes. I followed the link & I now have a precious new family member in Kenya and I couldn’t be more excited to part with that money every month. I knew it was meant to be when I clicked on a precious face and his birthday coincides with a date that until one hour ago was only affiliated with sadness & grief as it’s the anniversary of a precious friend’s death several years ago. Now that day has been reclaimed in the Lord’s goodness. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for stepping out in faith with Compassion & inviting us along.

    And just like you thought the Lord was leading you to affirm Gerald McRaney (still laughing) I think all these sweet women with the names from Giddy Up Eunice was to affirm you how special the lessons you brought to life through these women really is. The Lord has given you such an endearing way with words and in turn it’s such a ministry to other women because you have this neat way to connecting the stories & lessons of others to what we need to hear in our own lives. I don’t know that I would have been encouraged to ever examine those stories with the thought that I did after reading that book. The lessons they teach women today are so valuable.

  16. Great post Sophie! Really liked the photo of your son with the baby.

  17. Bridget says:

    Thank you for your posts. I love reading about your trip and just sponsored a little girl named Beverly. Thank you for making the trip and letting us share in your experience through your blog!

  18. Thank you so much for your inspiring posts! I just followed the link and I am now sponsoring a child in Kenya. I had never heard of this organization before! Thanks again!

  19. Melissa says:

    The words, the photos, the tears – beautiful. What a blessing to share with your son. Oh my, how God has been moving in Kenya and in y’all!

  20. My sponsored child in Tanzania is named Eunice.

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  1. […] folks. Jamie and Patricia had sponsor children with them (I wished several times that little Joseph could have been there, but at eight months old, I think the appeal of the elephants would have been […]