Friday, December 9, 2011

My little friend, Edwin

Well, we survived our 1st outreach! This week was definitely AMAZING and I wouldn't have given up this chance to meet these wonderful children for the world. Each is so precious and unique, even if I could have adopted on the spot, it would have been almost impossible to choose.

Each day was filled to the brim with washing the kids' laundry (by hand, and quite full of mud, I might add), cooking (over fire, no gas or electric stoves), Bible lessons with the kiddos, songs and games, dishing out food, cleaning up messes, settling fights, and getting to just play. Even in all the "madness", it really wasn't that bad. The kids were great! My group of 9 and unders were fantastic, and I am horribly dissapointed that I don't have a house big enough to take all 45 of them home with me (or at least 10 of them). ;)

We learned a lot this week, about ourselves and our team. I have a whole new respect for caretakers, mothers, and teachers after spending 10 days with these rambuncious little ones. It takes a strong and commited person to be able to get themselves out of bed EVERY day just to look after others.

Precious Zipporah
Playful mayhem in the dining hall

With December now here, everyone is getting a bit homesick. Some of us on the team have decided to go old school and try to decorate everything with colored paper and whatever other stuff we can find. I had had too much coffee the other night, so I paper snowflaked the dorm windows while everyone was sleeping. :) We will be here at the home base for 2 more weeks of lecture, than we will go on a 2 week outreach over Christmas.

Prayer requests:
- Health. Some of the students have fallen ill with slight stomach problems and severe allergies. Also, I cut myself pretty good  the other day while trying to peel food (classic Sam. I really should not be trusted with sharp objects.) But it's nothing too serious. My only real concern is trying to keep it clean to avoid infection. :)
- Unity. Our team is really struggling in this area.
- Willingness to learn. I know there is so much more out there for me to experience and absorb.

- we were safe on our travels
- I had a horrid rash from bug bites, but it's cleared up now.
- God continues to teach us amazing things each and every day.

Thank you for your prayers! I miss you all!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kids Alive

Nairobi... how would I discribe this city? Capital of Kenya. Dazzling skyscrapers, next to metal sheet slums. Large stone walls, once pristine, now tarnished with grafiti. Tall fences intertwined romanticly with thick ivy, topped with barbbed and razer wire. A huge metal gate, painted a playful teal, in front of every drive way, with an armed guard and dogs right behind it. Hundreds of people walking the street at the same time. 75 people sitting waiting for a 12 seater mtahtu to drive their way. Peddlers selling candy, sugar cane, news papers, hats, bunches of bananas, and roasted corn for mere cents at every traffic jam. Certainly a loud and bustling city. :)

But this week, driving to our outreach, I can't begin to explain how beautiful it was, and is here! The sweet smell of honeysuckle and fresh grass, with the occasional waft of kitchen fire smoke, blew in through our open bus windows as we wound through vallys and hills covered in big tropical trees with bunches of bright yellow, neon orange, and brilliant purple flowers draping from them. Everything is green and lush... and quite muddy. We ended up having to buy rain boots just to be able to walk through the ankle-deep mud. Hahahaha!

We are at Kids Alive; a really cool organization that is in multiple countries throughout the world. They save children from abusive homes, orphans, and abandoned kids and raise them in a loving and safe environment, wether they are HIV positive or not, or special needs or not. This K.A. base has about 80 children from the ages of 3-24. 45 of them are in the 3-9 range, which is where I've been placed to work this outreach. I have to say, considering the large amount of children, I'm very pleasantly surprised at how well they are taken care of. A few people had told me to prepare myself for horrid conditions in 3rd World orphanages, but quite honestly, these kids almost have better living conditions than my own team at our home base! They are well fed, have acres and acres to run and play, their own school, running water and electricity, and are even split into "homes" (about 20 kids in each house) with "house mothers" so as to have a more "normal" lifestyle. Each of them is so sweet, and I know I'm going to be absolutely miserable when it comes time for us to leave. (Many of us have already started to ask our team leader about the Kenyan adoption process, and we've only been here a few days. lol.) But we all know that we have to return to our training after this week.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I'm so sorry it's been so long!

     1st, I want to say if you've been watching the world news on whats going on here in Kenya, we are totally safe and aware of what is going on. All the issues are miles and miles away, so don't worry about us in that respect. :)
      I am SO, SO, SO sorry that I haven't updated y'all in so long, I've been trying to figure out how the internet works around here... apparently I've been doing it wrong and it wasn't working for me. But I think I've got it now. AND I figured out pictures! (yay!)
      Our 1st Sunday we went to one of the staff's church and the 2nd Sunday we went to one of the student's church in town. On our way there, the mutatu (like a taxi bus) ran out of gas. So we all just sat there until the driver came back, lugging a giant vegitable oil can (apparently filled with gas) and we were off again. The church was nice, but had a very "western" feel (meaning it was a lot like church back in the States). As awesome as it was, traditional African church service (like our 1st Sunday here) is a totally amazing experience! The loud (very, very loud) prayer and singing for hours on end is actually really refreshing. There almost seems to be no scheduelle. The pastor of the traditional church said, "we come to church to spend time with God, not to come and leave. We stay until we feel that God feels that He's been blessed." This easily means that church goes on for 5 hours. Sometimes I wonder if we should have a bit more of this mindset back home. Now I'm not necessarily saying church should be 5 hours long (though that works for some people), but how many times have I been guilty of rushing into service halfway through worship, then checking my watch every 20 minutes to make sure that the pastor isn't talking over time, then run off to do errands or whatever I need to get done. How nice to really be able to say, "this day is to bask in the Lord's presence".
     We are now on week 8 of our DTS, and I'd be lieing if I didn't say it's a bit hard. I'd been warned by other YWAMers that week 5 and 6 are the hardest emotionally (extreme homesickness sets in as culture stress begins) and sure enough, a few of us struggled. But we are doing much better by now and are rather enjoying our life in the "bush bush".
     We've had the opportunity to do some weekend ministry, since we have classes all week. One weekend we met with the girl's high school near our base. On Saturday we were able to talk with the high school Seniors about their life plans after high school and their plans for college. Here in Africa, to graduate high school, you must take an acumulitive exam of all 4 years of high school. Your score from this test determines your future. See, here, you can't apply to college, the college has to invite you. If you score well, you have a higher likelyhood of getting into a good college. If you do poorly, you may not get invited to attend a college at all. They don't get to choose what they persue as their major, it is decided by the classes that they took in high school and how well they did in those classes. And you cannot change your major. That is what you will study, and that will be your profession; no 2nd options. So there is quite a bit of pressure on these young ladies, not just from themselves, but from their families as well. But "college life" is still "college life" all around the world. Many of them don't know how to function with all of this freedom and the decisions they will have to be making for themselves, especially if they've attended private boarding schools most of their life where all the decisions were made for them (as many of them have). So it was a good time of expressing frustrations and worries, and advice on how to remain dedicated to the Lord and your studies in such a new environment.
Sunday when we went to their school for church service, we were able to do a skit for them. We did "Everything" by Lifehouse (You can probably find a version on youtube if you're curious). I got to play the Devil... it was super fun! I smashed up charchoal since we have no stage make up, and smeared it all over my face. I was totally creepy. :D After the service we were able to chat with a few of the girls and they felt that it really spoke to their situation and they had been encouraged by it. That was such a blessing for us to hear.
     2 weekends ago we split up into 4 teams and went to different churches in the area. My friend, Rachel, and I taught sunday school. It was so much fun! We went outside and played some games first, which ended up drawing a HUGE crowd of street children. Then we went back to the class (the number of kids had about doubled by now) and taught on the joy of salvation and forgivness (in kid version): how Jesus never intended us to feel guilty, which we feel when we do bad things, and Jesus wants to make our hearts happy again by taking away our sins, and He forgets about them forever.
     I think I'm getting used to the fact that noting is really ever truly clean here. Clothes, bedding, water, food, dishes, your skin... yeah, there's just a layer of grime on everything. lol. But I'm doing surprisingly well with it all. One of my African friends' joked, "The germs here in Africa are different than those in America: when you drop food on the ground, they are so surprised, that they all run away... You have a good 10 seconds at least!" HAHAHAHAHA! I really did almost die laughing.
     Next week we will be going on a short 9 day outreach to one of the local orphanages. We will be living with the kids, helping them with chores, and doing a sort of Bible camp. Though the Gospel does need to be told, we feel a stronger compel to show it in how we live, as we interact with the kids on an everyday basis. So it will be a lot of interaction, and a lot of fun. Challenging, but fun! I really can't wait.
     Prayers for safety as we travel, continued health (praise the Lord, no one has been seriously sick), and filling of the Holy Spirit so we may demonstrate the love of Christ in how we live are appreciated. :D

Thank you so much my friends! Much love!!! <3

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week 1

So I'm really bummed! My internet here is so weak that there is no way I can upload pix or videos! (friends who wanted to skype me, this also means that skype will not work) :( I really wanted to get to show you guys everything! But I'm afraid I cant. :'( Darn. I guess I'll just have to use words...

Orientation week! Yeah! We got a tour of the base, and it's pretty huge. We walk a lot. A LOT. We walk almost everywhere and almost everything is spread out. There's a girls dorm, guys dorm, guys shower, girls shower (which is really just a bunch of stalls where you bring your bucket of water and attempt to remove the layer of dust/sunscreen/bug repellent that has built up over the last few days), guys toilet, girls toilet (and actually the bathroom situation isn't so bad! It's kind of like a port-a-poty back home. I was afraid I was going to be digging a hole.), dining hall, kitchen, base office, staff houses, children's foster home, children's school, and our classroom. Everything is built out of some kind of brick and very simple. There are shrub like trees all over that are covered in huge thorns, they live on very little water. They seriously look like the trees from The Lion King. Absolutely beautiful in their own kind of wild way.

Kenya has been experiencing a drout right, so everything has been rather dry and dusty until it rained yesterday. Dirt paths connect everything on the base. However, November is their monsoon season (yay?) so they are hoping for some good rainfall this year to help relieve the stress.

So the neighbor guy has his own minagery with lions, cheetahs, an eagel, turtles, ostritches, goats, and buffalo! :O And he is totally cool with people just coming by to check them out. So during free time we did. It was pretty amazing! The cats are still wild, and only chainlink and barbed wire seperates you. ...Yes, I pet the lion. Of course they said not too, but seriously, when am I EVER going to get that close to a lion again? Not at the zoos back home! I just couldn't resist. ;) The guys were enjoying proviking it and making it growl at them... made for some good pix! :D

All my new Kenyan friends mock my dream of riding a girraffe... I guess giraffes are hard to catch. >.<  So I'm not holding my breath on that one.

Roommates! Lets introduce them, shall we? :D In my room is Fran from Southern California, Katelyn from North Carolina, and Carol from Nairobi, Kenya. These 3 ladies are absolutely fantastic and I couldn't have asked for better roomies! They have been a constant support and abundance of friendship to me. They are helping me to make the cultural adjustment much easier.

Most of us girls got braids this week. This involved walking to town, going to numerous shops looking for hair to match (which is rather hard in dark buildings. we need extensions cuz without textured hair, the braids wont stay), starting the braiding process then realizing that we don't have enough hair and walking around for the rest of the night with half a head of long braids, and finally getting them finished the next day. They look AMAZING! I may want to keep this look up when I get home. :)

Prayer requests:
-for generous and unselfish attitudes amongst the team; whatever one does not have, often another is willing to help out with. This has been an encouraging blessing that we would like to see continue.
-relief of homesickness amongst the team; many of us are having a difficult time with the lack of ability to contact and communicate with home.
-continued unity; though English is spoken by all students and the rules suggest that we all speak it in order to bond easier, it is not most of their 1st language. So many students drift back to their native language with others that can speak it. This can cause grouping that boarders on cliques, which is very unhealthy for a team.
-ease of transition; a lot of us are having difficulties adjusting to the culture. We all knew this would happen, and will continue to be a challenge for a few months, but if the stress of it could be lightened as much as possible, that would be so, so, so nice!

Thank you all for your prayers and love!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Finally in Kenya!

I made it! Sorry it's taken me so long to give you an update, it's taken me a while to purchase an internet modem since we have to go back onto town to get it, and we only go into town once a week...

Whew! After two 9 hour flights and a 10 hour layover, I finally arrived in Kenya on Saturday morning! I met up with 4 of my other team mates in Amsterdam, and we got along great! We were hoping to get to explore the city, but we were all so tired that we decided not to go out, and we all ended up sleeping in the airport chairs... or on the floor. We did get to talk quite a bit though, and I was so blessed and encouraged to get to know them and fellowship with them before our next flight.

We were met by one of our DTS leaders, Joram, and other staff, then we were led to our waiting vehicle, which was perched precariously over the sidewalk... and not in a parking spot. (Talk about parking violation back home!) We all crammed in (no one wears seatbelts here) and drove the 45 minutes to the base. The drive was like nothing I've ever experienced! 1st off, Kenyans are VERY aggressive drivers. Horns honking all the time, though not in anger or frustration, more of a "hey, I'm here and coming into your lane, so watch out!" kind of way. People walk all along, and accross, the roads and highways and think nothing of it. Apparently people get hit/run over all the time, and seeing a dead person on the side of the road is common. Sometimes the roads are paved, and sometimes main roads just turn abruply into dirt, no cones or warning signs, continue on dirt and eventually return to pavement. There are no signs or posted speed limits; each car is allowed a maximum speed by law, varying by vehicle. Some of the roads dont have lanes marked, and it is totally fine to drive on the "wrong side" of the road to get around other cars. Just move back into your "lane" before running into oncoming traffic. At first, we were quite alarmed by all this, but we realized that the people living here have been driving this way for years and know what they're doing, so it doesn't bother me too much. I just know that I wouldn't want to drive here! :) On the road leading up to the base we passed zebras, gazelles  and giraffes just grazing on the side of the road! Crazy!
Our 1st day, we went into Nairobi to do some shopping for things that we need. We definitely stand out; white people are called "muzungus", and the local guys show no shame in hitting on the muzungu girls. I'm curious to see which of us gets the 1st marriage proposal. Hahaha! There are so many people! And everyone walks or takes public transportation. Few own cars; they take something like a taxi, called a mutahtu. It's kind of like a mini van that seats 12 but usually ends up taking 20. It's hilarious. Yes, we took one back to base with our team in it. So funny, and quite bonding. Haha!

My roommates are awesome! There are 4 of us in our room. We all get along great and our personalities mesh wonderfully. I see no reason for us to ever have any quarels, praise the Lord.

The rest of my team is great! Originally we thought there were only going to be 13 of us, but it turns out that there's only 13 "Westerners". :) There's almost 25 of us in total! However, the boys are horribly (yet somewhat hillariously) out numbered by the girls. There's about 7 guys and the rest are us girls.

We started the 1st day of classes on Monday, and I'm very excited to see how we shall be growing individually and collectively as a team. Each morning we have breakfast at 6:30, devotional time from 7-8:30, classes from 8:30-1 (we get a tea break, don't worry), lunch at 1, jobs on base (helping cook food, split firewood, pre-school/elementary school help, cleaning bathrooms, etc) from 2:30-4:30, free time till 6, dinner at 6, bible study at 7:30, and lights out at 10. Right now I'm assigned to miscellaneous help, so my dutys will differ every day (most likely peeling potatoes or helping sweep out the dinning hall). This week we are studying the book of Titus.

I would difinitely appreciate prayer for health (the food is very... *different* here.), as well as against homesickness; continued bonding of our team; and a listening heart to wherever the Lord is leading.

That's probably more than you want to hear for now, but so much has happened and I'm afraid this is the condensed version! :) Thanks for checking in! I'll try to post again soon!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm off!

Well! It's finally here! I leave bright and early tomorrow morning! :O I had a hard time fitting all of my stuff for 5 months into 2 pieces of luggage (AND keeping it under 50 lbs.) and a carry on, but I finally got it! It's amazing how much 5 months of hand sanitizer and bug repellent weights!
I've been so blessed to be able to coordinate my flight with a few of my fellow YWAMers, and we'll be meeting up in Amsterdam before flying the last leg to Nairobi together.
Prayers for health, safety and smooth travels for the team are much appreciated!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I have a blog!

Hey everyone!
I figured you would all rather come check on a blog to hear how I'm doing rather than be getting a bunch of emails. :) So here I am! I'll try to update as often as possible. Whenever you're curious as to how I'm doing, check in. <3