Bud and I began Mattaw Children’s Village in 2007. We were married January of 2007 and on the next flight out after our wedding with a heart full of dreams and hopes for the orphaned children of Kenya.
At the age of 16 I had a personal encounter with God that changed my life’s mission forever. My first calling is to Jesus but out of that relationship, I knew that I knew that I knew that my mission in life was to Africa to love on the orphaned with the love Jesus has poured out on me. I was raised in a christian home and learned in high school that missions was not a destination but wherever God has you, its a lifestyle. In 2005, I sold everything I had and all I owned went with me in a suitcase to Kenya, Africa. I was going to simply be a mother to the orphaned. I went with one other friend to a remote village where an orphanage had just opened a month before we arrived. I will never forget the day we arrived to the children all running up to us screaming with joy. I cried with joy for the first time and knew that this was indeed what the Lord had created me for. My whole life he had prepared me for such a time as this. It was as though all the pieces in my life came together and it all made sense. The orphanage was a big institution with 25 girls in one room, 25 boys in one room and two Kenyan house moms. We were immediately asked to manage the entire orphanage by the local elders of the village. We took on the task not being trained but believing Jesus would equip us for everything. That year was one of much heartache and trial. We lost a little girl due to HIV and did the funeral, we exposed corruption, saw many children overlooked in an institutional setting and discovered orphanages are often used to appeal to the western world in order to gain financially.
It was through that year that God began to birth the vision of a new model which would be Mattaw. After I lived there a year, Bud moved over. He thought he was coming for a one time 6 month trip but ended up falling in love with the children and discovering it was his life mission too! Bud often fought God on being in ministry but was so in love with God and had a passion to serve that he continued to say yes.
We fell in love while serving the children and found that Jesus was uniting us to bring us into the more we were called to. We went back to family in Texas to be married. We moved back to Kenya to start living out the mandate God had for our lives and have not looked back sine.
What we thought was an organization to bring orphans into a family has now turned into more than that. Our heart is for those orphaned physically and spiritually. Many people’s hearts are the same spiritually as they are physically of the children we rescue. Our heart is to bring people into the family of God where they are love and accepted. We want every believer to understand they are a saint and to be equipped for the ministry and to be victorious and free in all areas of their life through the supernatural empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
The first five years was incredibly hard. We felt we were beating our heads against the wall, poured out much sweat and tears, learned from many mistakes and went through many trials. Through it all our God is good and is so so faithful. He who calls is faithful, He is just looking for hearts fully surrendered to Him and will go anywhere and do anything because they are so in love with Him.
In March 2012, God led us back to some of the people that had originally helped us start Mattaw. They had started The Garden Gathering (church) and The Garden Apostolic training center, in San Angelo in 2008 but it wasn’t until 2012 that we aligned with them and are now receiving oversight. Everything is for a season and God ordaining our paths together was at just the right time. We are for the mandate and vision of their apostolic training school and are now using all of their teachings for the ministry school we have started at Mattaw.
What do we do? It’s a common question we get. Bud and I each have a love and passion to walk with people and love them. We also have found that to accomplish the vision of Mattaw, it takes a lot of behind the scenes administrative work. As the quote goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and we found it to be true. We have an incredible team of Kenyans that God has led us to. As of 2014 we have over 40 staff that are more like family and not employees of Mattaw. We meet on a weekly basis with every branch of Mattaw to give oversight and encouragement as we continue working together to raise up the children and all involved with Mattaw as leaders and fully equipped saints that bring heaven to earth.
Bud learned the ins and outs of construction and has developed a model for our Mattaw houses that is simple, beautiful and homey. He oversees a construction crew that is at work often on various projects around Mattaw. He is also in our office in town often doing paper work and overseeing our project manager, social worker, and office manager. His heart is with the children though and although he stays busy, I often find him rolling around in grass and playing games with the children at Mattaw. He has a father’s heart for the orphaned and its evident in all he does. His heart is also with the house parents and staff and has built a friendship with them where he is not looked at as the boss but a brother and friend. He also is a pastor and teacher in our church along with myself and our house parents. He is a man of the Word and does not hinder the work of Holy Spirit. He also is crazy about our three biological children Elisha (7 yrs) and Claire (5 yrs) and Ezra (2 yrs)
Here’s a bit of what my days look like here… Since starting Kimbilio girls home in 2012, I give oversight there. This includes hiring and bringing in a team of Kenyan mamas, aunties, social worker and teachers that can help to accomplish the vision of our girls home. I love sit with our mamas (widows) that are tired and weary and unable to continue to care for the grandchildren they are left with (in most cases, after their children die or run away) and help bring their grandchildren into a family at Mattaw. We continue to look after the grandmas as well and its a joy to sit in their little mud huts, drinking chai and sharing about the hope and strength in Jesus. I also love to teach and impart to those the Lord has given us. We have a group of solid leaders at Mattaw that are the ones raising up the children rescued. Another favorite is to celebrate the lives of our children. When the children come to us, they don’t have birthdays. A birthday is not something to remember when living in such desperation and poverty. We are able to give them birthdays and celebrate birthdays once a month. It is a miracle to see our children’s lives redeemed and it is something to celebrate! I also stay busy raising up my three biological kiddos and make them a high priority. I’ve begun the homeschooling journey with Elisha and Claire which keep me on my toes! It’s a joy to be their mommy and get to raise them in the Kenyan culture.
We have many more dreams in our hearts such as the ministry started in a region called Turkana. We have three sons that live in our home. Two of them are from Turkana and were once “glue boys” living on the streets of Kitale. They have lived with us since the summer of 2007. We were able to go and miraculously find their moms. The moms were grateful to have the boys in our care and able to go to school in Kitale. It is in the villages our boys came from that we have started to go to and release the Kingdom of heaven. We also have a heart for many more nations and want to replicate what we do here in many other places. My first calling was to Congo and after waiting 14 years, I had the opportunity to go into a warzone with the organization Justice Rising and help bring hope and healing to lives affected by war. It was more of a vision trip and to get a glimpse into life there for future dreams we have in our heart to do there. In 2012, I unexpectedly went to Denmark where I joined with our church family for a mission trip. I didn’t realize how much I could love another nation that looks so different from Africa. God brought those desperately hungry for Him and we saw the Kingdom released. Many were saved, healed, delivered and imparted to for the work of the Kingdom. That is our heart for everywhere we step foot and every nation and region the Lord would lead us to. Freely what we receive, we give to those put in front of us.
“I have declared to them Your name and will declare it, that the love with which you loved me may be in them.” John 17:26
With all my heart,