Tuesday, 4 June 2013

My Time is Coming to an End...

It is crazy to think that these are my last three weeks in Kenya. Time has literally flown by! I definitely have mixed emotions thus far regarding coming home. It will be great to see my friends and family as well as share my experience here with everyone at home but it will also be so sad to leave. It seems that I am leaving just when I feel like I have finally found my niche. I have amazing friends and family in Kenya and I am so grateful for each and every one of them.

Me leaving became real this past weekend when we had a going away party for a friend who was doing research from Hanover College. She was only here for three weeks even in that short time I think the bonds and connections you make with people here makes it really hard to leave them.

I also feel like that it is going to be a big adjustment coming from Kenya back to the states for multiple reasons. I have really gotten accustomed to the Kenya lifestyle which can be described as 'you get there when you get there' or 'polepole' (slowly slowly) (so if I am late to meetings or something please forgive me I am probably still on Kenyan time).

Another challenge for me will to be telling my story from here but telling it in a way that is encompassing all aspects of my experience and not just one sided (as the video clip from yesterdays blog shows). How can I show you the reality of Kenya in the best way so you can get a better picture.

These are some of the challenges I am facing as I conclude my time in Kenya. I wish I could stay longer and who knows I might be back here sooner than I expect. I have definitely fallen in love with the country mainly because its amazing people and I cannot wait to share them with you.

I leave Kenya on June 30th, 2013 and will be arriving in Memphis on the 1st of July

Monday, 3 June 2013

The danger of a single story


Enjoy! I hope maybe it will make you think as much as it did for me!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

It's is best discribed through pictures

 Meet sweet Nancy, she is one of the amazing missionaries that our church has. She is currently working in South Sudan in the area of public health. I am so thankful for her and luck to have had the privilege to get to know her through this conference in South Africa.
 I would also like to introduce you to Bob and Christy, they are and adorable couple serving in the DRC. We were lucky enough to have shared Christmas with them this past December. If you want to be inspired just meet these amazing people.
 This banner was in the cathedral in Cape Town. It's a beautiful prayer for Africa.
 This is one of the wonderful people I met on the way back to Nairobi from Dar es Salam. Her name is Caryn she is traveling to Kampala to start school. Her dream is to be an accountant like her father and to help her mom and brother out of a difficult family situation.
 This was my initiation into the African Divine Church through a prayer and placing of a head scarf which is worn by all members. The meaning of the colors is the blood of Jesus and the green represents earth while the white is the light of God.
 In the center of the picture with the white robe is the Archbishop of the African Divine Church with his mother in the pink and major leaders walking to meet the youth as they are marching to pay their respects to the grave of their founder.
 After paying respects to the founder I marched with the group singing and dancing throughout town (just outside Kisumu town in Western Province Kenya) as we made our way back to the Boyiani Mission Headquarters.
 Some of my great friends who escorted me to town. These children stay at the Archbishops compound so we got to be great friends by the end of my stay.
 The lovely ladies and my great friends at the Archbishops residence. These ladies taught me so many things including how to make ugali and greens.
 On the far left is my sweet Valentine who I helped with Biology and she helped me with Swahili. She went almost everywhere with the Bishop (her father) and me. She was such a blessing to me and I am so grateful for her kindness.
 Sweet kids playing jump rope outside. Yes, they had me try but it did not last long at all.
 'Grand' (the mother to Archbishop) she was so fun and I got to visit her each morning and try to understand her swahili because she spoke no English.
The girls taught me how to carry the ugali flower on my head, it's much easier than carrying it by hands.

Monday, 6 May 2013

This Past Months Travels

So many of you may think that I have completely disappeared, please don't worry. I am fine and very much alive. I have so much to share with you since we last talked I hardly know where to begin!
For those of you who are my facebook friends you may have noticed the many pictures from all over the place recently because that has been my life- all over the place! The 1st of April I traveled to South Africa for the Africa Missionary Conference where I had the privileged to get to know many of the missionaries representing throughout the continent. I cannot tell you how rewarding and inspirational this experience was as a YAV. It is so encouraging to see the church working through people and to learn about their stories and experiences.  The conference consisted of many discussions about the plans for the mission in the church.

So after the week of many meetings the YAV bunch decided to stay an extra week in Cape Town to explore I mean really how many other opportunities would we get besides this one to go to the beautiful SA. Compared to Kenya and the little portion of Africa that I have seen, Cape Town is so different! There is orderly driving, pedestrians have actual cross stops and signs where cars stop for you, there are road signs people follow,  and the malls are huge (when we went into the V and A on the waterfront I had to ask Nicole if it would be weird for her to hold my hand because my mind was blown at that time). It felt like Europe or I was back home it was so weird. We had a wonderful time exploring downtown. I think my favorite day was the afternoon after going to the District 6 Museum we traveled along the coast and stopped at a nice beach and ate delicious Thai food while watching the sun go down. All in all Cape Town was a blast and by then end we did not want to go home!

But sadly, we had to board the plane to Nairobi where we spent a couple of nights and then Will, Nicole and I decided randomly to travel to Mombasa. I mean you can't live in Kenya for a year and not go to Mombasa. So we hopped on a night bus and landed in the humidity the following morning. Mombasa is beautiful it reminded me of Zanzibar when I was there with my parents. The beaches are gorgeous and we made a few new rifikis at the Backpackers place we stayed at who we went snorkeling with. Then on that Saturday I decided to travel to Dar es Salam with Nicole to see where she and Gina live and work.

So once again got on another bus to Dar and stayed with their host family there. Dar is similar to Mombasa being on the coast with the beautiful beaches but with quite a bit more Swahili. I got to see the girls youth church and even sang in their praise band. We explored a bit of Dar and went to a beautiful beach on my last day there. Sadly I could only stay a short time because the office called me back to do some traveling for work. So I went on another bus ride from Dar to Nairobi- I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to look at your map of Africa so you can see how far this ride really is. It took 18 hours for me to reach Nairobi. The next morning by 11AM I was off to Kisumu another day long bus ride.

I must say though I have made some great friends on those long bus rides. On the ride to Nairobi from Dar a woman was picked up with a beautiful baby boy who only spoke Swahili (which by the way I am still learning). As she got on the bus with many bags as she was unloading her things I offered to hold her baby. I was sitting their and she was telling me all kinds of things who knows what she was saying because I could not understand her. I just asked her what her name was and a couple other basic things. We shared cookies and at the rest stop while I watched her baby she got me juice and some fried egg thing and we ate together. I do not think I will forget this lady and her generosity. She left before we crossed the boarder to Kenya and another young girl sat down and eventually we began talking. She is a 15 year old girl on her way to school in Uganda. She said that she is happy to go so she can try to make something of herself and help her brothers escape their abusive father. She has a dream to one day be an accountant and possibly go to school in the states. I told her to study very hard and one day maybe it would be possible. She taught me a bit more Swahili and gave me a rosery ring to remember her by even though I would not need anything to remember her by.

Once I arrived in Kisumu I was met by one of the Bishops colleges who was with his wife and daughters. We drove to Boyiani where the Africa Divine Church Mission is located. I LOVED the Bishop and his family! I had such a rewarding and amazing experience. The following morning I introduced myself to 400 youth at the Youth Conference then was shown around by some of the ADC pastors. I marched (sings and dancing along the road) with the youth after paying respects to the churches founders burial site back to the mission where the retreat was closed (by the Archbishop who I was staying with). The Youth Conference is an annual event the ADC church has and it continues to grow each year which was very encouraging. The Bishop asked me to stay the week rather than leaving on Monday as I had planed so of course I stayed. We traveled so much around the region and I got a feel for a few of their key programs in community development. It was a great experience and I now have another Kenyan family and I hope to visit them again before I head back home. Speaking of, can you believe it is May? When did this happen? Time has really flown by! I will tell you much more about this experience later and put up more pictures for you too!

I hope everyone is well! I am so encouraged to have emails and letters from the church! It means so much! I cannot wait to see everyone these next couple of months I am sure will fly right by! 

Monday, 18 March 2013

More News from Kenya

Hello Friends!

I hope all of you are well! I just wanted to give you a brief update on last week and what I have been up to recently. 

First of all I would like to say thank you again to my followers and those that have left me very encouraging comments. I just want to continue to strengthen the communication between my home and here to help you to better understand our role in Kenya. It is easy to feel like you have been forgotten about being continents away and I appreciate the feedback. 
In recent election news, Kenya is anxiously waiting to hear the court ruling from the election that took place on March 4th. As the entire country shut down with few buses running and most shops closed everyone was glued to the TV to count results as they came in pole pole (slowly slowly).  Odinga the CORD candidate (running against the President Elect Kenyatta) claims that the IEBC (election committee) was unfair in its' tallying of results. He claims that much of the IEBC's  equipment did not work properly and also mentions various other problems that took place during the election. Odinga is claiming that it would be unjust to not challenge the results especially under Kenya's new constitution. As soon as the ruling is made and peace is present (as it is currently) then I will begin traveling around Kenya to check in on the people the OAIC has been training this past year. I will be documenting stories and learning from their training experiences to determine which of the OAIC’s methods are most effective. I am really looking forward to this and will keep you updated on my travels.

Yesterday was my opening appearance as a praise and worship leader singing at Christco Central Church near Kibera. To sum up my experience I just learned the songs the day before including two Swahili songs and the one that I went home and practiced got changed the day of. Of course I didn’t know this until I was standing on stage and the song came on. Thankfully I had a tambourine so I could cover my mouth and hide the fact that I had no clue what was going on. Don't worry I had help there were many others on stage to back me up too.  Needless to say I am looking forward to my next worship leading experience this coming Sunday. I have really enjoyed Chirstco Church and feel as if it is a home away from home. 

We also started an NCAA basketball bracket in the OAIC office today. It will be quite interesting considering that I had to explain to my co-workers what exactly they had to do. I will keep you updated on our office competition. I’m sure it will be very entertaining. 

Christo Central Church

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Kenyan Election + much more

The Kenyan elections were peaceful and all is almost back to normal here in Nairobi. The CORD candidate Raila Odinga is challenging the elections but peacefully in court. The president elect Uhuru Kenyatta could face challenges as he faces charges at the International Criminal Court coming in the next months. This past week the entire country of Kenya was stopped as the results slowly came out and the winner was announced finally after five days of waiting in front of the TV. Kenyatta needed more than 50% of the vote and came out with 50.07% just making the cut. It seemed like everyone in Kenya was glued to the television last week- busses did not run, stores were closed etc. Everyone was anxiously waiting to see what would conclude the final announcement. Many were fearful of a repeat of the 2008 election where hundreds of people were killed in post election violence. Thankfully through the constant peace preached in church, and many media reminders and the determination of Kenyans peace prevailed.

I have been living with Phyllis’ husband and Will while she has been back in the US finding new YAVs and stuff. He has told me multiple times that he is not responsible if I blow away by the wind because I am so small. He thinks that I don’t eat enough and is always at the dinner table telling me to take thirds and fourths during meals. He has been testing me this past week to see if I can run an African home also and has said that I pass so that’s encouraging.

These past few weeks I have spent a lot of time writing articles and hanging out with my friends here who are great. I love it here so much! I am trying to find excuses to stay longer because my friends and I are trying to cram all kinds of things in. I have so many more families to meet here and places to visit.

Aside from that I have been going to multiple churches because all my friends want me to visit their churches. So far I consider my two home churches St. Andrews PCEA and Christco Central Church. I have really enjoyed both places and feel much at home at both. I am also working with Christco which is near Kibera (the largest informal settlement in Nairobi) to get a children’s home set up in that area. This will be to help empower street children who have lost their family members to provide them with quality education and skills necessary to survive in Nairobi. I hope that somehow I can manage to help this cause.
 Slums of Kibera A picture of Kibera. Kibera, BBC

I have also been helping a young girl named Blessing who is four years old. She was burnt badly with third degree burns on her face when she was two. She was at the point where she did not have eye lids and faced blindness because of infection. We were able to get her treatment at a hospital in Uganda which provides low cost treatment. They were able to perform reconstructive surgery for this little girl and since I have been arranging and escorting her to the hospital here to get her stitches out and go for checkups. Blessing is doing much healthier now that she can close her eyes, she also now can eat food by herself and her nose is in better shape than it was previously.  It is nice to be able to help make a difference in this young girls life and ensure she has a future.

I have also felt a bit discouraged from my church home. I do not really feel supported by them and rarely hear from them. I know that without their financial support I would not be here but it is also nice to have some encouragement especially since I am representing them.  

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Dear Readers,
I am sorry for the lack of blog posts recently! I have been very busy between work and family coming to visit. If you are interested on what events and happenings I have been up to recently please see the website oaic.org for recent events that have taken place in our organization. Hopefully in the next week I will have some time to post pictures and a bit more of what I have been up to. Hope you are well!
Have a great day!