Paul Boge and I are so very honoured that “The Biggest Family in the World” has won for The Word Guild award in the Children’s Book category for 2016. A special and enthusiastic thank you goes to our publisher, Larry Willard of Castle Quay Books. This book would not have been done without you!
On a lovely Sunday in April 2016, the Mully Children’s family performed at my church in Winnipeg. Lively, beautiful Kenyan choral music, karate demonstrations, acrobats and dancing entranced the people who attended. The evening reminded me of the first time I saw them perform in the same location in 2011. It had been a life changing night.
That evening after the performances, sharing from individual children and Dr. Charles Mully himself, a firm hold was on my heart, a feeling that I felt was from God himself – that I was to paint for the Mully Children’s Family. I thought “how in the world?” Paintings aren’t known as bringing in dollars for fundraising, or even crowds for art showings. I doubted the urge, and it continued to nag at my heart.
Gradually I contacted Arvid Loewen, the cycling philanthropist who has raised millions of dollars to support the Mully organization. He and his wife Ruth visited my home, and we discussed my ideas, but we were unable to come to any conclusions. The urge persisted, so I contacted the Mully organization and asked for permission to do some portraits of the faces of the children. They said “yes”.
A series of portraits took place over the next year or so, including one large portait of Charles Mully. I had an art showing in my home, which was attended by Paul H. Boge, the author of the first two books about Charles Mully – Father to the Fatherless and Hope for the Hopeless.
One day in 2012, Paul Boge contacted me and asked to come to my house for a visit. He asked me if I would consider painting the illustrations for a new children’s book, then tentatively called The Biggest Family in the World. I was stunned! Here was the answer to my prayer of how I could paint for MCF.
Paul asked me to pray and think about it and give him an answer when I was ready, but deep inside, I knew the answer right then! Inwardly, I felt like shouting – yes!
The two years we spent planning and creating the book was a constant stream of miracles. When I look back, I can hardly believe that I painted the 32 detailed paintings in 1 1/2 years, while I had a full time job during the days. It was all worth it, considering the work that the Mully organization does. In 2014, they celebrated 25 years of rescuing children from the streets of Kenya. Over 10,000 children have now gone through their doors, being loved, fed and educated. They are truly the “biggest family in the world”, boasting about 2500 children presently there.
It’s a project I have never regretted for a moment.