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