There is never a dull moment in the Dow household.

With more than 70 children to care for, Gregory and Mary Rose Dow are up before dawn making sure the kids are dressed, do their chores, eat breakfast and go to school.

And then they can focus on their work: running the school the kids attend, providing medical care, constructing and maintaining buildings, cooking, cleaning and taking care of general office work.

"There is no time around here to be bored, " Greg Dow said.

This is the lifestyle the Dows chose to live when they made the decision to sell their East Hempfield Township farm and travel almost 7,500 miles to build an orphanage in Kenya, Africa.

Call to serve

The Dows enjoyed life on their Graystone Road farm.

Greg, 57, enjoyed fixing up the family's 140-year-old farmhouse while Mary Rose, 55, cared for their six children and raised pigs, chickens and turkeys.

But Mary Rose felt something was missing.

Then the Dows attended a missionary conference in 2006, and Mary Rose shared something with her husband: God wanted them to go to Africa.

His initial reply?

"No way."

However, Greg soon felt Africa tugging at him, too, and he found himself on a plane headed to Kenya to look for land.

The Dows sold their farm, animals and three cars, obtained passports and visas and made plans to travel to their new home and build their orphanage.

A disputed 2007 presidential election in Kenya sparked ethnic violence there that forced the Dows to delay their trip.

On Feb. 27, 2008, the family arrived on their 1½ lot and built Dow Children's Home.

Reality check

Doug Lamb, the Dows' pastor, felt the Dows "jumped into the deep end of the pool."

They had not run a large home or previously done missionary work, the assistant pastor at Lifegate church in Elizabethtown said.

Funding was "very much touch and go" for a few years, he said.

But the Dows persevered.

The total annual budget for the home and school is $120,000, much of which goes toward the care of babies, Mary Rose said.

The school — the Dow Christian Academy — serves the home's children as well as children from surrounding villages.

The home is completely funded by donations from churches, friends, family, organizations and businesses, with all donations going directly to the home, Greg said.

While five of the Dows' children adjusted quickly to the move, it proved "too much of a culture shock" for their oldest son, Alphonsus Romejko, according to Lamb.

Romejko, 25, returned to the United States and lived with Lamb until he graduated from high school and joined the military. A year later, Romejko's twin sister, Marianna Romejko, 25, returned to the States, finished high school and attended Millersville University.

Both work in the U.S.

The other Dow children — Hannah Virginia Dow, 12, Winifred Mary Romejko, 18, Rose Alice Romejko, 18, and Peter Romejko, 21 — remain in Kenya.

Why they do it

Helping the children flourish is rewarding, Mary Rose said.

The Dows are inspired by the Bible verse 1 Thessalonians 2:8: "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us."

Every child the Dows adopt has a sad story, Mary Rose said.

Faith Ann Chelangat was 2 months old when her mother intentionally dropped her down a 40-foot pit latrine. She spent three days in the pit before being discovered and rescued.

Her mother was arrested and said, "I don't want that child anymore."

Jacob Kipchumba was 2 months old when he was found in a plastic bag in a wire trash can.

"The miracle was that he was found before suffocating or wild dogs or rats got to him," Mary Rose said.

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of needy children, and the Dows can't take them all in, Lamb said.

"The hardest part of their journey is you have a constant daily cry from the community to take additional children," Lamb said. "They could have 3,000 kids" if they had the funds and space to safely take care of them.

To support the home and for more information, go to www.dowchildrenshome.org.

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