Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rewind #3

For my last day in Africa, Jenny and Sarah and I went in to town for a last trip to Nakumat, the Wal-Mart type grocery store in Nairobi, lunch at a little cafe and then had dinner with my dearest Kenyan friend Bernice and her family. The day was relaxing, wonderful, and so sweet.

So there it is: My year in Africa. I really cannot put into words how much this year meant to me, and how much it meant to me to have so much support from family, friends and strangers. I am incredibly grateful for all of the prayers that went up for me, for all of the encouragement and help I've had throughout the year, and for every little (and big) thing God taught me in this time.

As for a recent update, I've moved to Dallas and am still (unfortunately) looking for a job. I still miss Kenya and, most of all, my friends over there every day, but I am confident that this is where God has me this year and He's already been teaching me so much in being here.

Please keep praying for Kenya and the different ministries happening there and all over Africa and, for that matter, all over the world. Please keep praying for RVA, especially as the staff and students start a new year in the next couple of weeks.

Praise God, for He is GOOD.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Rewind #2

Goodbyes: What beautiful reminders that this place is not our home.

Thanks to the fact that God blessed me with such wonderful, caring friends at RVA, they helped me to have some wonderful little goodbye adventures to say "kwaheri" to some of my favorite Kenyans.

During my year at RVA, I became good friends with a couple of our Masai guards, Sammy and Givan, who had invited me all year to go down to their village in the valley. We were finally able to get down there a couple days before leaving and was one of my favorite days in Kenya. The drive down was bumpy and unbelievable dusty, but we had some groovy tunes to giggle at (sweet oldies that are priceless to listen to while driving down African dirt roads..).

We were blessed to attend the Masai church service which was full of singing, dancing, complete joy, and the beautiful reminder that someday we'll be worshiping in Heaven with all of the unique, beautiful tribes of the Earth.
Givan and Sammy doing a little preaching...After the service we headed to Sammy's home to have lunch and chai with him and Givan. It was traditional staple Kenyan food, which I love, so it was a wonderful last African meal for me :)
The whole day was extraordinary and such a sweet time with my wonderful Masai friends. I look forward to visiting their village again someday, but until then I rejoice in their love for the Lord and will continue to give thanks for the experiences I had and friendships I made. Praise God :)

Rewind, #1

So between the packing, goodbyes, last minute playing, trips, etc. I left little time for myself to blog (or I didn't want to admit that I would have to post "leaving" posts... either way..), and since we've been "borrowing" internet from neighbors with just one bar, making the connection slower than Kijabe internet (which is some seriously slow internet..), I've decided to take this chance to post while I'm using a coffee shop's super fast internet. I realized I never posted about midterm this last term, meaning I'm posting about a month and a half late, but that's okay, right? It seems like that's the way I've done most of my blog posts, so why stop now eh?

For 3rd term midterm Jenny, Sarah and I decided to go visit Jenny's college friends who lived in Nakuru, a town about 2 hours from Kijabe. It's home to a small wildlife park and Lake Nakuru, but we decided to opt out of the small safari and just relax. We hopped onto a matatu after much drama at the top of the hill and were on our way.

Jenny's friends work with a missions organization that has a Baby Center - a center for abandoned and orphaned babies up to 4 years old - so we obviously wanted to visit and play with the sweet little ones. Let me tell you, they were PRECIOUS. Actually, let me show you...
This little boy was my partner for church on Sunday... he was a squirmy one, but so so sweet!
The Baby Center is quite the place - great facilities, great workers, and a great ministry. They only keep kids until they're 4, but they've never had to send a kid away because they've all been adopted by the time they've needed to leave, so it's a wonderful testimony to God's faithfulness and goodness.

We also took a little trip to a big crater thing (this is the problem with blogging after my memory has faded... I don't remember what it actually was... ) and looked out across the beautiful Kenyan country... I love that place...

So all in all, it was an incredibly relaxing, malaria-free weekend with sweet sweet friends.

So there, on to the next rewind... :)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lesson 2: Friendship

Last week in church our guest speaker told a story from when he and his family were serving in Tanzania. His wife borrowed an egg from a neighbor. A few days later, she sent her African house worker to repay the neighbor for the egg. The African said "No, because then you're saying you don't want to be her friend; you don't want to be indebted to her."

Something we learned at orientation is that Kenyans will ask you for the clothes off your back if you seem to have enough and they don't. It's not because they're rude - trust me, they're all but - it's just that they understand sharing. For the most part, their mindset is to share what they have with those who need.

In college my roommates and I had our own cabinets. We had our own food and it was clear who's it was. Now I'm sure none of us would've bit each others' head off if we took someone's goldfish, but our mindset (well, mine at least) was "I had to buy this with the money I earned/was given by my parents... I don't have an endless supply, so I can't just go around sharing what I do have." I'm almost sure that the cabinet idea was mine.. if not, I'm sure I was strongly for the idea. I tend to have a very strong sense of "what's mine is mine, and if I borrow something from you I'm paying it back because I don't want to feel like I needed you or am indebted to you." It sounds cold, and not that I was a heartless, selfish person... but maybe at least selfish.

This culture is very different from the only other culture I've ever known. There are things I love here more and things I love in America more. This is one of the things I've loved; I've loved learning to be more welcoming, more patient, more giving, more willing to let my kids ransack my kitchen, and understanding that to lay down one's life for a friend also means putting my selfishness behind me and giving them stuff if that's what they need.

Last week after school I was looking forward to nothing more than going home and taking a nap on my couch; it had been a VERY long day. About 3 minutes after walking in the door, a group of my 8th graders came and took over my house. My instant reaction was disappointment. But within minutes I realized napping's lame, and hanging out with awesome students is a way better option. Sacrificing our time, our naps, our food, our money, our clothes, our car, our particular way of doing things is hard, but it's almost always worth it when it builds up relationships with those God has put us around.Students cooking in my kitchen... strangely enough, this is going to be one of the things I miss the most: kids stopping by to get candy, cook food, jump off my roof, have spontaneous parties, etc...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Let There Be Blogging (Lesson #1)

For some reason wouldn't work for me for weeks. I think it was a conspiracy, but maybe not. Either way, it works now, and I intend to take full advantage of it before I leave. Which, by the way, is in 16 days...

I have this idea (whether I follow through with it is another story) that I'll blog about lessons I've learned since being here.

Lesson #1: America has plenty.

Duh, right? My hope is that you don't see this as a knock to America, but as a challenge.
I haven't spent my days here roaming the streets of the slums; I haven't been living in a grass hut like I sort of wanted; I haven't struggled for clean drinking water or worried about whether my livestock would live through the drought. I haven't rummaged through the trash looking for discarded treasures or begged on the streets for more money. But this year, just like any other, so many have.

We all know that Africans struggle financially to pull together a living. We all know that people live the above lives every day. We even know that this happens in America. But why? It's easy to glamorize (also, I just spelled that "glamourize" because my English students have apparently brainwashed me) the fact that Africans live in poverty because of corruption and a lack of opportunity. It's easy to blame the homeless Americans on substance abuse and mental instability. But where is the Church's responsibility in all of this?

Someone just told me about a church that has been actively living the Gospel. They gave (according to my source, so this could be wrong...) $300,000 to children in India - it was their church's "just-in-case" fund. Something like 150 families joined the foster care program because they had studied James and were convicted by the verse that tells us to take care of the widows and the orphans. These people sacrificed their money, time, emotions, and so much more to live out the Gospel.

And guess what. They survived.

As I've talked to people here about "culture shock" on going back in to my home country, the thing I hear the most is "you start realizing how much we spend on useless things, and how much that could be used for ministries around the world." Spend $100 on a shirt? Why not; it's way cute, I've earned this money, it'll make a good impression, etc. Forget the fact that $100 could feed children for months. Forget the fact that even $6.50 could give a woman in the slums a whole new future by buying her the materials to start a chapati business. Forget the fact that buying a sewing machine for a woman here could take her off the streets and give her work that glorifies our Father instead of breaking His heart. We've all heard the statistics. Or maybe we haven't. Maybe we've just been told them, but our ears and hearts have been blocked and hardened. I can't even count the times that I've heard about how much $30/month could give a child, or how much could buy a well for clean drinking water that would save thousands of lives, or how much a few dollars to pay school fees would change a life; and still I have turned my head, still I have closed my wallet.

I heard a statistic some time back that America spends more money on trash bags than something like 80 countries COMBINED spend on food. Granted, I don't have the source in front of me, so my numbers may be off, but the fact still remains: America wastes. A lot. So do other nations, but that in no way lessens our responsibility. A very conservative mindset would tell us that we get to spend our money the way we want, because we've earned it. But if we're truly following God, and we believe that He has BLESSED us with our jobs or however He's provided for us, then how is this our money? How does the fact that we have a job give us the right to over-indulge while the world starves? Maybe we can't feed the world on our salary, but I'm sure we could feed a child; especially one who knows how to live on as little as so many do. We may not be able to employ an entire nation, but maybe we can help employ one person. We don't have to try to save the world; we just have to be willing to serve and help it when God asks.

I'm in no way perfect. I waste money. I waste food. I'm sure that I'll go back to America and still buy a pair of $40 jeans, especially since so many of mine have died since living in Africa. But my prayer is that God will make my heart sensitive to the needs around me. And my prayer is that He will do that to our country as well. America is a nation that is filled with blessings everywhere you look. I hope we'll let God use what He's given us to bless others as well.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Take a Hike...

I really like my 8th graders.
A lot.
So when they asked if I wanted to hike to the Hot Springs with them, well.. duh.
So we all gathered...

took a few captives...walked through Goblin Tunnel to the sounds of many, many shrieks and squeals (the boys too..)and were on our merry way. Of course they needed to stop and climb the cliffs...and have yoga balancing competitions...and... other competitions...and "ooh" and "aah" at the pretty scenery... [Note: This is Mt. Margaret.. according to Kikuyu legend, it is the top of Mt. Longonot (the volcano to the right of this) which blew off in the first eruption. I love it...]This is the waterfall we hiked to back in December... SO FUN!So we caught up to the rest of them...Jenny fell...And we sloooowly hiked straight down to our beautiful destination:While the kids went into a long dark tunnel filled with water to swim in another area, Jenny and I took the opportunity to take some beautiful pictures...
One of the students found a rotting skull... terrific...I told them to make funny faces... obviously we'll be working on this for the rest of the term...And then we hiked back with only one scary adventure...
All in all, it was an absolute blast... these kids are more fun than I ever hoped for and I am, again, indescribably grateful for having this opportunity.

Last night I realized how little time I have left here and teaching these kids, and it was really hard to think about leaving them. I've spent so much time hanging out with them and talking about their lives and getting to know their hearts and trying to get them to do homework... :)

However, I am confident in God's plans and at least know that, whether I'm here or not, God will continue to move in their lives.

But I'll still really miss them....

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Each year there is a rugby tournament here in Kenya called Blackrock. It's a big deal. Seriously.
Here at RVA, rugby is king. Therefore, Blackrock is a big deal for RVA as well. JV and Varsity both made it to the semifinals for the cup (champions' trophy), both played their hearts out, and though they both lost it was quite the exciting day.

You know how rugby fans always claim it's better than football because it's way more intense and rough since they don't wear pads? They're quite possibly right. Here are some pictures to prove it. We're in red :)