Thursday, February 18, 2010

Asente Sana!

Asante Sana from Florence and her family!

Tom and I invited our housekeeper Florence and her family over the day after Christmas for lunch. (This by the way is the first time a housekeeper's family has ever been invited on the American compound). Florence's children had no idea that they would have a huge surprise when they arrived...presents under the Christmas tree!!

The Simwa family, or also Fred's family as Florence calls themselves, was lucky enough to be sponsored this year by Christin Burgess (Uncle Justin's girlfriend) and the staff at the Westin Hotel in Atlanta. What a miracle they created for this family. They received three large boxes filled with used and NEW clothes and shoes to open from the Westin.
Thank you to the Westin and to Christin for making a huge impact on a family 8000 miles away. Thank you!

Florence and her family also received clothes and shoes from other friends and family. They areceived over 20 additional boxes and money from family and friends...thanks to YOU! And surprisingly, more still came in just today!

The Simwa family has been overwhelmed as well as overjoyed with the amazing gifts they have been given this year. I wanted to share with you the difference all of you have made in just one person's life. It is hard to imagine, but we really did make a difference!

With the money they received, they have been able to buy a plot of LAND!! They had been saving but did not have enough and with the extra money they were able to finally buy it and they will start building on it April. This has allowed them to move out of a very bad part of town where all 6 of them were living in one bedroom.

Florence was able to pay her son Edgar's school fees early with the extra money you gave her. By paying the tuition in advance (as so many can not afford to do), the school told her that if she had any other sons that wanted to go to school there, they would have automatic enrollment when he is ready for school. Most schools here are very difficult to get in and if you don't have money, then you need to know someone. Now, her son Eugene will know he has a chance of getting into school because of you! It is so wonderful!

All in all it was a beautiful holiday. An experience to help a family in need and truly turn their life around was not one I thought I would say when I came to Africa. I feel however that even though this family is still in need, they are doing so much better then when we first came. They have their own land, they will have their own home, they can feed their family and their sons will be able to finish high school. It is again an experience I will never forget.

Please enjoy the pictures of Florence and her family opening presents at our house the day after Christmas. We had an absolute ball! Thanks again everyone! We love you all!

The Simwa family and the Rhodes family picture

Florence opening the very first box of clothes a friend had sent in December.
Little did she know she would get over 20! :)

Florence having fun wither her new coat. Handing out a coat to Fred (Florence's husband) and Eugene with his new stack of shirts and shorts.

Santa Florence passing out presents to the family. Hannah, Chase and Mommy helped too! Florence with her eldest son, Eugene.

(Left) Florence playing Santa and The Simwa Family before they opened their presents.
(Right) Edgar pulling Hannah and Faith in the wagon outside.

Left, Chase handing Faith one of her Christmas presents and right Naomi (the youngest) and Dad, Fred.

I wrapped some presents under the tree from the boxes of clothes we received from Christin and The Westin. It was a beautiful site to see their faces looking at all the presents. It was an unforgettable day for Tom and I. We talked about it for days and will remember it always, especially at Christmas. :)

Florence opening the initial boxes from The Westin. The kids having fun rolling around in all the clothes with Florence.


Love, The Rhodes Family

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Belated Blogger...

...I promise I mean well
I know, again its me, the belated blogger. I would LOVE to keep this thing going weekly or even daily (or at least when something exciting happens),but I just cant seem to get it together. It seems that as soon as the kids go to bed at night, I am crashed out. You would think that me being a stay at home Mom and Hannah in school (and with a full time housekeeper), I would also have more time in the morning. It seems however that if I lock myself in my room (as I am doing now) can I get anything done.
So here I am...blogging.
We have had some extraordinarily busy few months since Christmas, well actually since September. As you already know Uncle Justin came in September and Papa Andy and Papa Scott came in October. After Christmas, my Mom came to visit us on the first of January for about three weeks and then not but 24 hours after she left, Aunt Alexis came to visit us for almost another three weeks. It has been a wonderful time with family. We feel so blessed that everyone could make the trip all the way to Kenya to see us. We truly feel so lucky. Their visits will always be a wonderful memory of our time in Kenya.
I realized that although most of you have enjoyed seeing pictures of the kids and small updates about Kenya, you really do not know much about what life is like here. You do not where I live or that we actually do not live in the Savanna with lions- ha. However, monkeys in our yard and on our rooftop is pretty much a regular thing. :) A few things you do know are that I have a wonderful housekeeper. This was so wonderful and I can't thank you enough for your generosity. :)
Some of you may or may not know that we will be leaving Nairobi in a few months. Yes, the two years (or a little less than) is already up. Both Tom and I are sad as we have truly enjoyed our time here. When we first got here people would tell us to be careful because Africa can really grow on you. I had no idea what they meant nor could I even imagine thinking that...but it does. It is a beautiful country with such innocence and history. It is hard not to embrace it and fall in love with it.
Even though Tom and I are sad to leave Kenya and our new friends, we are however excited for the next journey in our life to begin. There is no way around looking at the life we are given except to look positively at the new adventures we get to experience. The moving is definitely not fun every two years. After our third move, I must sadly admit, I am starting to get used to it.
In order to catch everyone up on my lack of blogs, I am writing a bunch before we leave. I know you are thrilled! Ha The next few blogs, one being of course a SUPER belated update on Florence, will also include all the different places we have traveled in Africa over the past year and a half. I wanted to share some of our treasured memories of our time here before we finally check out.