Jambo everybody!

Happy New Year! I hope your year is starting out well! Despite the craziness of the world these days, I have made up my mind that I am going to have a great year! I am going to trust God to sort this mess out and bring His justice to the world! This does not mean that I have my head in the sand. It simply means that I have released myself from worry or stress over it all! I have enough to worry and stress about already! My contribution will be fervent prayer!

On January 1st, I arrived back in Kenya, after an absolutely wonderful break in the states! I spent quality time with family and friends and, despite the pandemic, was able to catch up with a few old friends whom I hadn’t seen in many years! It was so fun and refreshing! Now, back to the real world! LOL!
When Jeff picked me up from the airport, instead of heading back to Kitale, we traveled to a place called Nunyuki. The real purpose of this excursion was to pick up our new Great Dane puppy, but since we were there, we decided to spend a day at Ol Pajeta ConservancyWhat an awesome park! The safari was almost as great as a safari at the Masaai Mara, but much easier to access when you only have one day to spend on it! 
We enjoyed “meeting” the last two remaining Northern White Rhinos and learning about the plans to try to rebuild the population again, which is quite a challenge since they are both females! (Google it! It’s very interesting and inspiring to see steps being taken to stop rhino poaching and save this breed!) We also “greeted” Baraka, the blind Black Rhino, which was a fun experience! We saw lions, giraffes, cape buffalo, zebras, elephants, rescued chimpanzees, baboons, birds, and tons of different gazelles and antelopes!
The next morning, we picked up our new puppy, Hemi, and headed for home. We have been contemplating for a while the possibility of getting a puppy for Victor, our almost eight-year-old Great Dane. Victor has gotten to where he absolutely hates to be alone, but sometimes it just can’t be helped. We thought maybe a companion would be nice company for him and keep him young, as eight years is starting to get up there in age for a Dane.
I still haven’t given up hope, but as of now, Victor merely tolerates Hemi. He’s constantly growling at him... not in a “I’m going to fight you” kind of way... but more like a “you are such a bother and I don’t think it’s necessary for you to touch me” kind of way. LOL! I don’t think Hemi really understands what the warning growl means because it doesn’t seem to faze him one bit! He just continues trying to give Victor kisses or snuggles and finally Victor will either just ignore him or get up and walk away. Time will tell whether or not getting Victor a puppy was a good idea!  
By the time we arrived home, the high school students who attend boarding school had already left! (Eliza and Brian are still in high school as well but due to health issues they attend a nearby high school and continue to live on campus with us.)

Fortunately, missionary Beth Ann had taken pictures of each of the boarding school students before they left the campus! Please pray that they have a great year and can get back in the swing quickly! After being at home for so many months, it won’t be easy to adjust back to the strict lifestyle of boarding school!
In Step Academy (ISA) has also resumed full time! We are thrilled that 49 kids from the community have enrolled in our school! That’s over 25% of our student population! It’s so wonderful for our kids to have friends! I think it is also good for neighboring kids to get to know our kids and see that they are very normal kids, who just happen to live in a children’s home. ISA has gotten off to a good start and we are excited to see what the year brings.
Like many things these days, the pandemic has interrupted the normally scheduled school year. So we, along with every other school in Kenya, are now on a weird timeline of trying to get back on track by the end of 2021. (Here a school year is the same as a calendar year.) I won’t bore you with the confusing details... I would probably get it wrong anyway, but the gist is that we have just started the second of three terms of the 2020 school year. With shorter breaks and a few other scheduling adjustments, the government’s plan is to have everything back to normal by January 2022. It will be interesting to see how it goes!
Thanks to all of you who have shown interest in helping us build new housing for the girls! As I have mentioned before, this is going to make life at the In Step campus much easier for all of us! Construction of the first of three houses has begun! Long-time friends/supporters/short-term missionaries, Sandy and Terry Kiser, will arrive in a few weeks so that Terry (a contractor by trade) can oversee the building project. This also is a great opportunity for our Kenyan staff as it allows Terry share his construction knowledge and project management with them. We are as excited to spend time with them as we are to get the house built! Again, thanks to all of you who are making this happen for our girls!
Speaking of short-term missionaries... Tracy and Tamara Tripp are here for a few months! They have been coming for a two to three months every year for several years now and we look forward to all the projects and activities they will be leading while they are here! They always come prepared to work hard and provide fun stuff for the kids to do... anything from an art project to movie nights to ukulele lessons, all of which will be easier this year with the addition of the spacious dining area!
While we wait for the Kisers to arrive, we are building the final classroom needed at In Step Academy! Whew! What a long haul that has been! We have, with the help of a few key donors, built one or two rooms per year for the past several years, trying to keep up with the growth of the school! With the completion of this project, In Step Academy will consist of an Early Childhood Education building (preschool, kindergarten and 1st grade), seven classrooms, an administration office, a teacher’s lounge, a library, a computer lab and a multi-purpose room for special meetings, trainings and events! Sometimes I find myself in awe of what God has done for our kids! I watch it happen day by day, but every now and then, the magnitude of his provision just slaps me upside the head!
Kids change so fast! I swear that each and every one of them grew taller while I was away! I have asked several of them if they were already taller than me before I left or if they had really grown that much in such a short time! Even more than the older kids, the babies seem to have changed a ton! Joanie is walking, Nancy is trying to talk, Gaven is potty-trained… I could go on and on, but I’ll leave it here for now!

Thanks to every single one of you for all you do to bless our kids and the work God is doing here at In Step Children’s Home! We couldn’t do it without you and we do not take your blessings for granted! The words “thank you” just do not fully express our appreciation! We are sending our love and blessings for a beautiful year!

GIGATT (God is Good All the Time)!
Mama Carla