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!