I changed my mind. I said that I was going to go day by day of the trip to share it but I'm not. I'm gonna go ministry by ministry - mostly because I can't really remember what happened on each separate day and it's easier to remember what we did at each ministry. :)
You've already heard a little bit about it and if you know me in real life you have probably heard a LOT about it. :)
Most of my team (myself included) refers to it as just Canaans or "home".
It's where my sweet Sarah lives.
And where I can't wait to visit again.
But you know that already.
Canaans is an orphanage that houses 107 children ages 2-18. It is run by Pastor (Papa) Isaac and his wife Mama Rebekah. The fact they their names are Isaac and Rebekah and they are married makes me smile. :) I would love to share Papa Isaac's story with you, but I can assure you that unless you hear it from his own mouth, you might not believe it. Our God is GOOD people. Go visit Canaans and hear it for yourself.
Ok. Moving on.
Canaans has a school - Canaan Primary CTC - and that is where the elementary school kids go and also kids from the community. It helps them bring in some income as well but mostly they rely on the kids having sponsors to help provide for them. The little kids stay at Canaans and have school there. We were awakened by the sound of the kindergarten class doing their morning exercises on more than one day. It was quite a sight to see! I don't even know how many kids are in that class (because community kids come to it too and also many of the kids are younger than kindergarten age I think) but there is a bunch of them and their head teacher, Summer, is crazy and energetic and she gets them marching and dancing all around and they do it all in unison. I love it!
The first day that we were there we just did a bunch of hanging out - jumping rope, playing soccer, doing hair (well, having ours done), and making bracelets. It was quite chaotic any time we tried to do a craft, but they loved it and had a blast. We were "chosen" by our kids and started getting to know them. I spent most of my time with Sarah (age 5ish) and Nusula (who told me she was 8 for the first half of the week and 10 for the second half).
I spent some time the first day hanging out with the Aunties (single ladies that are the dorm mommas) and playing "Monkey in the Middle" with them (and of course Sarah and Nusula). It was a blast (I'm telling you - they are nuts!!) and that time with them was very special to me. I could tell that they loved having visitors just as much as the kids did. They work very hard (each is momma to about 20-25 kids) and love very big so I can only imagine the relief they feel when a team comes in to share the burden with them.
Later on the first day, I got to deliver the washable menstrual pads that we made at our It's a Girl Thing party. Mama Rebekah and I took new panties and these pads to each of the 23 teenage girls.
I so wish that you could have been there with me!
Mama Rebekah made me put everything in a pillowcase so we could sneak over to their dorm and she had all the girls and their Auntie Sarah sit down. She made me stand in the front and told them that Mama Stephanie had brought a blessing for them. Did they want to know what it was?? Yes, they very much did want to know. :)
She let me tell them and show them and I swear you would have thought I gave them the world! There was screaming and dancing and I was instantly tackled by all of them in a huge hug! Some cried happy tears. "May God bless you Mama Stephanie! I love you so much Mama Stephanie! Thank you!" I could barely keep it together.
They each got a couple new pairs of panties and some of the pads.
And they cried with joy and gratefulness.
Oh the things we take for granted.
This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Later that night (after everyone else was in bed), Mama Rebekah, Diana, Brenda, and I went back and took them some more panties that we found in our donation stash and they reacted the same way. It was so special and something I will never forget. All throughout the week at random times one of the big girls would come up to me and just hug me out of nowhere and whisper in my ear, "Thank you Mama Steph. I love you so much."
Melt my heart.
Ok - I'll end here for today since this has gotten pretty long. More to come on Canaans. :)
Sarah and Marvin who, bless him, had pants 2 sizes to big on the entire week so everytime you saw him his little booty was hanging out and he was trying his best to hold them up. :) We got him so pants that fit.
The baby dorm - 2-5 years. Those are mosquito nets hanging from the ceiling. :)
The little boys dorm. That's Auntie Esther on the left.
Jumping rope. :) The building in the background is a hospital (clinic) on the bottom and the guest dorms on the top. This is where all the girls from my team stayed (except the two that were there with their husbands).
L to R - Henry (age 17), Faith, Enoch (age 10?), me and Sarah, and Nusula is hiding behind me.
This is what happened when I let David (13) disappear with my camera for two hours. :)
He wants to be a photographer (among other things). He took this one too. And my favorite picture of me kissing Sarah. :)
This is Bridgette, Brenda, Sarah, and me and little Sarah at the end of day one at Canaans. Bridgette and Sarah were singing for us. Bridgette can SING! Sarah fell asleep on me.
Sorry the next couple of pictures are blurry - David had set me camera to "manual" and I didn't realize it. :( Here are the girls excited about their "blessings." Mama Rebekah and Auntie Sarah are in the front. :)
They wanted me in the picture with them so Mama Rebekah took my camera. She never even looked in the eye-hole - she just held it up and snapped away! She's crazy!!
This is when we went back later that night. Again, Mama Rebekah had my camera:) I kinda love this one. We laughed so hard because they seriously were so crazy excited. :) Diana, Brenda, and me.