Crystal and i had one of our best days ever with Nyaga (Peter) - our sponsored child with Compassion International. We sponsored him back in July, 2007 when he was 5 years old and have "watched him" grow up, written letters back and forth with him, and prayed for him ever since.
we definitely feel like he has become a part of our family! that's how we think of him.
we got to meet him on Tuesday in his village = Tharaka, Kenya. maybe the coolest thing ever. pretty emotional.
we used to call him Peter, but now we learned he actually goes by Nyaga, so we call him that. i've written about him several times before - HERE & HERE are just examples.
Nyaga is an orphan. that alone breaks my heart. just like it breaks God's heart. God loves orphans so much, defends them, and is their Father. i love that.
his mom died when he was like 1 or 2 years old. they don't even know what she died of. they took her to a hospital that was far away, but she died a couple days later. i bet Nyaga doesn't even remember her.
his dad left even before this. maybe just after Nyaga was born? hasn't been back since. no one knows where he went. just abandoned them all. heartbreaking.
but Nyaga is doing just fine! he has tons of other brothers and sisters... his oldest brother is Japhet. this guy is MY HERO! i'm sure i'll write a post on him at some point. he's 27 (like me) and has become DAD to Nyaga and his brothers and sisters. he stepped into this role at 20 or 21 when his mom died and they were all orphaned.
now Japhet has a wife and baby of his own. he is a straight up amazing man. he takes care of the whole family on about $7 per month! incredible. less than a quarter a day. and that's working his butt off on a farm and doing any other job he can find.
that really puts into perspective and helps Crystal and I see where our support is life changing.
we got there and gave Nyaga a big hug right away! he's 9 years old now and had never seen a Mzungu (white person) before Crystal and i. we sat and talked with him at the project and looked through his folder.
a while back we wrote him a letter about how much Jesus loves him and wants to be his Savior. he wrote back saying he totally understood and had already put his faith in Jesus to be his Savior. pretty exciting. they had a record of that in his file too. + all his doctor visits, all his school grades (always in the top 10 in his class which means he'll probably qualify to go to University!), and all the gifts we've sent him = including the GOAT he bought :)
(the goat has since died, but had a baby goat that Nyaga still has.)
it also talked about his spiritual growth and mentioned that he is excellent at memorizing Bible verses. Crystal said something like "so you like memorizing the Bible, huh?" and he hopped up and quoted Luke 2:52 word for word... haha, pretty cool.
over the past 3 years we write back and forth about his favorite things to do/fav games and it's always soccer. so, we got to give him his 1st ever soccer ball! big smile on his face. he said he wanted to go straight out and play soccer with me right away. so we went to the field and played a while. crystal played with us too & even his brother Japhet. really special.
we had some Chipati and tea together at the project before we went to his home. we talked a lot and really got to know each other. Crystal asked him what he wants to be when he grows up and he said "President". i might have teared up a little for several reasons. (read HERE to see where i mentioned that almost 3 years ago.) that's a normal thing for American kids to say, but not kids like Nyaga. usually they have no hope because they're stuck in poverty. i can tell that God and Compassion have changed his life and his future. i asked what he wanted to do if he became president and he said "help all the people of Kenya." :)
he liked holding hands with us. like everywhere we went he wanted to hold one of our hands. pretty cool.
it was pretty far to his home from the Compassion project. like 4-5 km! takes him a while to walk! so we drove the van to his house. on the way i had him put on my sunglasses. i think he looks like a younger (way cuter) version of Jay-Z.
we got to his home and saw where and how he lives. There was a "house" + a "kitchen" (mud walls & tiny room with a fire) + a 2nd "house" to sleep in. both homes were like 10x10. I asked Nyaga where he slept and he took us to the kitchen. i guess he just sleeps on the floor because there's no room in the house to sleep.
the family gave us one of their chickens! that's a BIG DEAL for a family that makes $7 a month! the eggs are a big deal to eat & sell & even eating the chicken would be a huge deal! we were humbled. Crystal got a video of Nyaga handing it to me. then it flapped it's wings in my eyeball.
i think i've mentioned before how one of Crystal's biggest spiritual gifts is GIVING. she LOVES to be generous and give gifts! so she has the gift of gifts. she bought so much stuff for Nyaga's family and even fun presents for him.
we gave his family so many awesome PRACTICAL gifts and Japhet and his wife were SOOOO thankful! they kept thanking me and hugging us after opening each gift!
we hooked Nyaga up with a ton of gifts too. i think his favorite was the little stuffed animal tiger. he loved that thing! he was rocking this Carolina Tarheels shirt we gave him too. we told him that's where we live (our state) & i'm sure we also explained that they're the best basketball team.
He loved eating some pixie sticks! we gave him a big bag of all sorts of candy and he went around and SHARED with everyone. that was pretty cool. we chewed some bubble gum together and tried to blow bubbles.
we gave him a ton of school supplies like pens, pencils, notebooks, a calculator, etc... (everybody was "ooohing" & "ahhing" over the calculator!)
we gave him a couple coloring books - 1 is all Bible stories and even a lot of activities + a BIG box of crayons & a pack of markers + drawing pad.
i got to pray for Nyaga and his family at his home & i had to stop because i started to cry so just said "Amen". when i looked up i think Carol (our Compassion staff guide) was crying too.
when we asked Japhet what we could pray for i totally expected him to say something like - a better job or more money to live on than $7 per month... but he said "that our family could live in good harmony." that's beautiful. it looks to me like they have better family harmony than most already.
while walking through his village we met some of his friends and he introduced us. that was pretty cool.
we had lunch together and while we were waiting on it to cook we colored a picture together. he let us take it home with us. i think it will stay on the fridge for a long time.
+ we wrote him a note on the drawing pad. he read it out loud as i wrote it. really good at reading English - the Compassion project peeps said he's one of the best in his class!
we just wrote that we love him and God loves him so much. we'll pray for him, we're proud of him, and we want him to live his life for God.
i found him the perfect size full Italy World Cup uniform. we gave him that out on the soccer field. he was so excited. i bought an Italy jersey for me and we wore them together and we said we were "teammates". later i gave the adult jersey to his brother Japhet (who told us he was going to play soccer with Nyaga and his new ball all the time and teach him to be a great soccer player...) & i told Nyaga that they are teammates. it was like i had given Japhet a new car. he wore it the rest of the day.
during the whole day Nyaga laughed out loud a whole lot. he laughed with joy and smiled so many times! :) he had so much fun with us and we had so much fun with him. it was amazing.
maybe one of the coolest things was that we gave him his 1st ever Bible! we wrote in it for him and told him to read it as much as he could, follow it, live by it, and love it. that was a cool moment... to give this awesome boy his 1st ever Bible that is his own.
Crystal and i each brought him our favorite snacks/candy to share with him. Crystal's was pop rocks! he passed them around and no one knew what to think! they were so surprised. they were all like "oooooH!" haha. he didn't like my fav at all = slim jims. we told him he could spit it out & he did. :)
but he did love the smarties & gobstoppers.
oh yeah, and we gave him the game "Jacks" and taught him how to play. His brother, Japhet said they really liked it and would play a lot at home.
he wrote us a note in his new drawing pad & drew a pic for us.
at the end we planted a tree together to commemorate our visit. kind of like a marker to remember us by. it was so hard to leave him & i was fighting back tears a lot at different times. Crystal told me not to start or else she wouldn't have a chance!
we gave him a big hug and told him we loved him. we told him to work so hard in school and always follow Jesus with his life... that's the best life possible.
i've really just been writing details because i don't think i can express the emotions or the experience. it was really not explainable. like nothing in the world. we'll remember this forever. i hope we get to hang out with him again some day. we've already talked about how we want to sponsor him to go to University through Compassion (which is a much bigger commitment) and we told him when he goes to University we really want to visit him again.
There are just so many pictures and videos to share from our day with Nyaga and really from our whole time here in Kenya. soon we'll be posting a ton of that stuff on Facebook!