Sometimes the people who come in and out of our lives can make a world of a difference and a lasting impact. This is what the Hogman family has recently experienced and they are still witnessing the beauty of people in Ponoka and around the world.
When Wayne and Nora Lynn Hogman from Ponoka traveled to Kenya in 2003 to work at an orphanage and immersed themselves in the local community they had no idea where their journey would take them.
Sitting in a local church service on Feb. 18, 2007 with about 500 other people the Hogmans listened to the pastor speak about faith. Taking from the passage James 2:20 “Faith without works is dead” the pastor opened up the floor to the congregation.
A Dutch woman named Elisabeth stood up and went up to the front of the church holding a small child in her arms. Elisabeth, a young medical intern, explained that the child, Marcus, whom she carried to the front had no one to love him and needed a good family.
She said that Marcus had spina bifida and hydrocephalus and that he was abandoned by his parents at a hospital when he was born while his healthy twin sister had been taken home.
The Hogman’s listened intently to Marcus’ story and something happened within them that would change their lives forever.
“You just felt the vibes when we heard about Marcus,” said Wayne.
The Hogman’s approached Elisabeth after church to get some more information about Marcus. They went home later that day and started talking about bringing Marcus into their home.
“We asked a few questions after the service and went home and started talking about it,” said Nora Lynn. “We weren’t going into it totally blind. The next day we decided we were willing to take Marcus into our family.”
The Hogmans daughter Sarah was the push behind taking in Marcus and encouraged her family to take on the challenge.
The Hogmans then talked with doctors and gathered much information about his condition. Marcus was welcomed into the family on Feb. 23.
“We were learning how to take care of him,” she said. “We learned so much about spina bifida.”
Marcus took a lot of care and one on one attention but the joy he brought into the Hogman’s home was irresistible. Marcus was loved by the Hogman’s, the community and the world.
The family fell in love with Marcus and soon made many efforts to try and adopt him.
Nora and Wayne wrote letters and sent e-mails to family, friends and contacts around the world and had many people interested and supporting them and Marcus.
Marcus lived in many houses in Kenya as the Hogmans traveled and he made friends wherever he was with his beautiful smile and contagious love.
At this time their daughter Sarah traveled home to Ponoka to attend school and was with the understanding that her parents would quickly complete the adoption and be reunited in Ponoka soon. Her parents took turns traveling home so that one parent was with Marcus while the other was with Sarah.
“She shared her parents so that this little orphan boy could experience love and family for the short time he was on earth,” said Nora. “She’s my hero.”
As Nora and Wayne tried hard to adopt this happy little boy they realized during their final court appearance that it was not going to happen.
Back in Central Alberta a friend of the Hogman’s, Andree Verhoog knew about the complications the family was having with finding a place that would take this special child in. Andree’s daughter had just started her first year with the Rosedale Valley Strings. The group collaborated with A Better World, from Lacombe, and had put on a concert to help raise money for the Ian Castleman Orphanage in Kenya. They continue to sell CDs with the money being used for the same purpose. Andree saw this and noticed that the orphanage cared for HIV positive children, mentally and physically disabled children and abandoned babies and she contacted the Hogmans.
We didn’t know about this organization even though we were geographically closer than Andree was. She told us the information about the orphanage,” said Wayne. “It was the only place we could find in the whole country that would take Marcus.”
A Better World consists of people from Central Alberta, including Ponoka, who are addressing the needs of the developing world. With the help of Rosedale Valley Strings, A Better World is working to rebuild the Ian Castleman Orphanage to provide decent living conditions, resources and life-changing surgeries for the children who are there.
“It’s a neat connection between Central Alberta and Kenya,” said Wayne. “It all has been very encouraging for us. There is so much that needs to be done in Kenya and this is an example of where it worked, it’s really awesome.”
“Our story about Marcus is interweaved with many other people in Ponoka, Central Alberta, Kenya and the world,” said Nora Lynn. “It’s the intricate weaves that made it all possible and we are so grateful to all those who have supported us and prayed for us and Marcus. It’s a complex thing, but the complexity makes it so amazing. There were so many people following his story.”
Marcus Ireri peacefully passed away on Dec. 15, 2008 at the age of two years and two months and the memory of him lives on in the hearts of many people.
The Hogman’s are back in Ponoka and are holding a memorial service for Marcus on Feb. 1 at 2:30 p.m. at the Church of the Open Bible, everyone is invited to come join in on the celebration of his life.