Once upon a time there was a teenager from East Texas who felt God tugging at her heart. He gave her the desire to care for and adopt needy children from other countries. It seems she wasn’t cut out to follow the path of so many her age: finish high school, go to college or trade school, get married, settle down in Texas, have babies. Sometimes things are hard when there is an “out-of-the-ordinary” call on your life, and things weren’t always easy for this young girl.
When she had the unexpected chance to visit Kenya, she jumped at it, but with no small amount of trepidation. After all, she had rarely stepped foot out of her old stomping grounds. This is where the Fairy Tale begins!
On her first trip, she was surrounded by beautiful, loving Kenyan children, and she knew she would return. On her second, she fell head over heels in love when God brought Elizabeth across her path! It seems as though they were destined for one another, as it was love at first sight for both of them.
What was she to do? Her beloved family was back home in Texas; she knew next to nothing about the Kenyan culture – how to cook, how to wash clothes by hand, how to haul water, how to live without electricity. But Elizabeth . . . . Elizabeth was everything to her.
So she stayed.
And Elizabeth blossomed!
Even when you’re doing God’s work in your life, your days are filled with the ordinary – cooking, cleaning, going to the market. In Michelle’s life (that’s our heroine’s name), there was some of the “not-quite-so-ordinary” – learning Swahili in order to communicate with your child, venturing out on a piki-piki, or matatu, being the only white face in a sea of beautiful chocolate-colored faces, finding hungry children on the street to feed.
Spring forward a couple of years, and we find Michelle having moved from the crowded, squalid conditions of Nairobi to the clean air of Western Kenya. Her new family, a group of teachers and friends with whom she had worked since her arrival, moved with her.
It seemed that every young Kenyan man she met tried to capture her heart, but she would have none of that! Elizabeth was her world. Until one day . . . .
In walked Moses Makokha, a dashing young Clinical Officer (Doctor Moses), just weeks away from finishing his medical internship. He had come because he had heard about the work that Michelle and her friends were doing, the long-range vision of Kiwanda Cha Tumaini, but when he walked in, he couldn’t keep his eyes off Michelle. And to be honest, she couldn’t keep her eyes off him!
He wasn’t a complete stranger; Michelle had been living with his sister for the past 15 months, and knew the entire family. She had, in fact, met Moses a year before when he graduated from his medical school, but Michelle only had eyes for Elizabeth at that point.
Moses fell in love with Michelle. Michelle fell in love with Moses. Moses adored Elizabeth and Elizabeth adored Moses. Things moved quickly at that point, and a wedding was planned for March 14. Wedding dress ordered. Check. Bridesmaids’ dresses and groomsmen’s ties ordered. Check. Wedding Committee formed. Check. (They do things differently in Kenya.)
Everything was moving along smoothly, except for one tiny little problem.
Michelle’s visa was expiring! On February 3! Off she went to Nairobi, first to the U.S. Embassy to do a sworn, notarized statement, assuring everyone that she didn’t have a husband stashed away back in the States. They want to know that, before they issue a marriage certificate for a foreigner. Then, off to the Kenyan Embassy to renew her visa. Oops! No deal. She had two choices: leave the country or be married by February 3. The latter was a real hurdle, as there is normally a 30-day waiting period in Kenya, while they post your pictures on the courthouse square, making certain that no one objects.
After spending hours in the Marriage Registrar’s Office, many calls back home to the Marriage Officer in Kakamega, and tons of paperwork, a date was set (10 days later) for a civil union at the courthouse. So, on Friday, January 23, Michelle became Audra Michelle McClelland-Makokha. That’s a big name for a little girl from East Texas!
It is fairly customary in Kenya for a civil union to take place before a church wedding, so the plans are still on for March! Those of us who are over here on this side of the pond are counting the days until we can get to Kenya and witness this beautiful chapter in the Fairy Tale that God is making of Michelle’s life.
Mungu akubariki sana, Moses & Michelle!