Monday, August 26, 2013

My first impressions...

 I arrived at my new home around 5:30am Sunday morning, July 25th. Here's a recap/my thoughts and pictures are at the bottom. You're welcome Amy!! :)

Ok so the bus... my escort and I boarded the bus at 7:45pm on Saturday night. We sat in VIP seating which meant our seats reclined and our feet went up. We made many stops through out the night, dropping people off at what seemed like the middle of nowhere but they knew where to go. When I do the bus again, I will not sit in VIP seating because the front is noisy and they are constantly turning the lights on and off. The screeching of the brakes reminded me that I was Kenya where in any vehicle they speed and then brake just before they need to. :)

We arrived at "my stop" at exactly 5:30am, praise Jesus because I had to go potty so badly! I got off, looked left and right and literally just saw roads and trees. Where in the world am I??? As the bus drove away all light dissipated and it was dark, I mean dark! And then two men approached us... thank goodness D, my escort recognized them. We walked about 100 yards or so back down the street and turned off down a dirt road. I could see nothing, including what I was walking on. About 50-100 yards down the dirt road we turned again, walked another 20-30 yards and approached my new home. I was then welcomed by the Pastor and his wife to a house with no electricity (it came back on though)... welcome to Kenya!

We thanked God that we made it safely, I was shown the bathroom (oh I was so happy to see the hole in the ground!) and my bedroom, I crawled into my mosquito net and passed out!

I woke up, showered, enjoyed bread and chai and then went to Church. It was a beautiful youth run service completely in Kiswahili. I loved that I got a lot of what was being said and used my Kiswahili Bible to study John 15. Having studied John 15 last summer, I was quite aware of the words in English which made understanding that much easier. I sat in the front of the Church between the Pastor and his wife who both leaned over often to help me understand what was going. Church lasted 2 1/2 hours, but it was very alive and worshipful.

We enjoyed wali and kuku (rice and chicken) after Church and then D and I set off for my few day stay with my mentor and her husband in Malindi. A matatu picked us up on the road in front of my house, with a few stops dropping and picking people up, we made it to Malindi in just under an hour. Within an hour of being at the house, we were walking along the beach!! Pictures don't really do it justice, the colors of blues and greens are just gorgeous.

Tomorrow afternoon, we return to my village to drop me off where I will stay from now on. As "rough" as it might be, I am so excited for the challenges and blessings that are to come. God is so good to give me complete peace as I look forward to living in the village and getting to know the people there.

Here are a few prayer requests:
*Settling. Continue to pray for me as I settle in and get used to village living. The pastor and his wife have taken me in and made it very clear that I am one of their children. Pray for relationships and that I would be able to be apart of their family and not treated as a visitor.

*VBS/School starting. Wednesday through Friday of this week I will help out (as best I can) with their VBS and then in one week I will begin teaching alongside the two teachers in the school house. Pray for wisdom in how I can help in both of these opportunities.

*Language. You can continue to pray for Kiswahili acquisition. I feel I have a good foundation but with God's power, I pray I can become much more fluent quickly. The kids really don't know English, and my heart is to connect to those kids, which means I need to be able to speak their language.

Here are some pictures of my home I took just before I left for Malindi and of the beach here of course :)

My home!
My bed, I love that I'm next to the window, the breeze is amazing considering the heat!
My desk. That towel hanging off is what I used to dry off after
my shower. I now have towels that are a bit bigger. :)
The ceiling of my room. It's hard to tell but that is all open so you can
hear what's going on in the hallway and bathroom next door.
And this is what is on the other side of that wall. The far hole
is the toliet and the open area in front of that is where I shower.
It's quite warm here so the cold water is actually really nice
and wearing a skirt makes it easy to go to the bathroom. 
Here's my school where I will be teaching. The kids saw me taking
the picture and all ran to the front to get in it. So cute! It's hard to tell
but it's really just one room that can be divided into three.
If you walk out of my house and turn right you see the school, if you turn
right and walk on this pathway, just passed the blue building you can see
a bit of stone... that's the church below. I love my one minute walk and
Church that starts at 10am!
The Church building. The breeze was amazing and I love that birds
fly in and out throughout the service. 
And here begins the walk to my home. What you see in front is the main
street that I got dropped off on and where I go to get the matutu to go into town.
When you turn off of the road above, this is the "driveway" into my home.
That is my house at the end of the road and they have quite a bit of land and I love that
kids hang out here a lot!
At the edge of the driveway, I turned around and here's the view.
You can see the school house in the distance and then the church
is to the right in this picture.
And from the house, here's the driveway to the road. Such a beautiful place!  
Here's a picture of the bus I took from Nairobi to my village.
(photo images)
And the beautiful beach! This is a ten-fifteen minute walk from my mentor's
house! So beautiful!
Walking along the beach. I loved the green next to the blues/teals.
If you look at google maps and type in Malindi, you can see the
reefs of which I am referring to.
And our walk ended at a gelato place! I'm in heaven!
Cheesecake and Caramel flavored... I spoiled myself with
two scoops because I'm going to be "living in a village"
and won't have access to ice cream... or at least that was my
excuse for the day!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Recap time in Nairobi w/ pictures

Here are some of the pictures I've taken during my time in Nairobi, Kenya.

Driving through the Kibera slum during my city tour.
A housing/market structure in the Kibera slum.
Within 10 minutes after leaving the slum we were in Nairobi's city centre.
High rises, lots of cars and streetlights!
View of the city centre from a look out point. 
Here begins a walking road tour to where I have gotten most of my groceries
as well as walked most days in the morning to go to prayer. Here's the first street
I walk down.
I turn right off the last street and now I'm on this one.
It kinda steeps down and then back up and then I've hit
one of the main roads in this part of town. This is the "sidewalk"
portion where people walk.

I turn left and here's the next street. The main shopping center is about
2 blocks up on the right. It's a mall like at home; it has a grocery store,
vegetable market, book store, bible book store, food court, and really
anything else you might need.
Here's my home on the compound. There are 2 other buildings,
each having 5-6 homes. My bedroom is the large window on the
second floor. I'm writing this blog post in the front room through the
bottom window :)
Here's my bedroom. It's the master so I also have my own bathroom
and shower attached. I sleep on the closest bed and definitely use that
net above me!
Meet Wambui! Her and I have spent the last 3 weeks together each day!
She has had so much patience with me and makes sure I pronounce
everything correctly. I love seeing that smile when I say something right!
Here I was practicing my numbers and colors. I had an audio recording
of Wambui's voice, I would listen and point to the correct paper. Then I would
try to say it with her recorded voice, the I would mix up the papers, listen and try to find it,
and finally I would try to say it without the audio recording. Then repeat the
process until I knew it well!
My highlight from my time in Nairobi was visiting the Uzima children's
home on one Saturday. This beautiful face is Faith.
Destiny, Faith and I were out running around on the
field while someone snapped our picture. Their faces
are precious!
Faith found a "kijiko" on the side of the road. When she showed
it to me and I said, "kijiko", her face lit up! kijiko = spoon :)
This is the only picture I have of my roommate, Jessika and I together.
I have enjoyed getting to know her and going to miss our late night
conversations and her awesome facial expressions when she would walk
through the door each day. She's awesome!
And now some of the baking pictures! Funfetti cake from scratch :)
Banana oatmeal muffins with a crumb topping... these were amazing!
My first attempt at cinnamon rolls...
Haha I couldn't snap a picture fast enough... these are snickerdoodle
blondies. Oh my they were good!
Banana oatmeal cookies made with no butter! (Butter is very expensive
here so I found out that bananas can be used as a substitute)
Thursday was Wambui's birthday so I had to make a cake! Here is
my second go around of the funfetti cake, but this time I used bananas
instead of butter and you can't even taste them! She loved it!
One of the first things Wambui taught me was how to make Kenyan Chai.
,I don't think I'll go back to Starbucks... this stuff is awesome... and it's
completely normal to add cinnamon to the milk and water! A teapot
will need to live with me wherever I go now :)
I've gone out to eat Kenyan food twice. Here was my second experience
at a "very nice" restaurant. We had our own private room, we sat on benches
around this table, the 2 kg of meat leg was cooked overnight and then cut
off the bone in front of us. This entire meal was eaten with our hands, no
utensils dirtied! Also on the table is Ugali and salsa to eat with the goat meat.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

under the surface

During my language orientation the first week I got to Kenya, I was introduced to the iceberg theory of language learning. It goes something like this... the tip of the iceberg or what is seen from above the water is the words/phrases you can easily recall. But under the surface is a huge amount of knowledge that you have taken in. Those closest to the water are more easily recallable and words toward the bottom you've heard but can't recall or don't remember the meaning.

I have to say at this point I have a ridiculous amount of words and phrases at the bottom of the iceberg and I so badly want to have greater access to them! I have finished 8 days of language study and here are some statistics for you on what I'm being challenged with. Hopefully this will give you a great insight into how real the iceberg theory is to me and also how much I truly appreciate your prayers during this intense time.

I have learned 68 verbs as well as how to make them in the present, near past, past and future tenses and how to say them about me, you, us, and they. (and that's just the one's we have written down!)

I have learned 24 animal names, the names for 8 people, family members and some extended family, 24 things that can be found in a living room, singular and plural names for 16 body parts, 18 kitchen utensils, 40 different types of foods (and many of these have multiple names), 25 articles of clothing, 21 places,  10 colors and 10 phrases to welcome and politely greet people in Nairobi and at the coast (because of course it's different!). That's a total of 196 nouns, and that's just what I have pictures for! That's not including those in the stories that I can say or one's I've picked up on outside of language study.

I can also comfortably, yet not perfectly, explain three stories in Swahili using story pictures and sentences to describe what is going on. I can say what the person/persons are doing and why they are doing it. And with some effort, I can say whether it is happening now, in the near past, past or future.

I guess when I put it that way I have taken in quite a bit! I'm definitely hard on myself and want to get it  even more quicker than I am, but this is a very humbling process and my language helper and I have quite a few laughs at my expense each day. We have gotten very comfortable with each other and she is not afraid to push me to make me say it correctly. I so appreciate that about her as well as how much she challenges me.

 Today, as I was reviewing the words I learned yesterday out loud to her, I got to one word and I changed the last letter in my pronunciation from one vowel to another. (to my defense- I knew right away I said it wrong, but sometimes I just can't control how it comes out the first time!) She almost fell out of her chair laughing! She wouldn't even tell me what I said, (and I'm not sure I want to know), and I'm sure it won't be the last time. :)

Another funny story, yesterday, as I was finishing up my language lesson, I received a text from another person on the compound asking me a question. After 3 hours of only thinking and speaking in swahili I was not able to form a sentence in English in my head to be able to respond. I looked at my language helper and said, "I really don't know the words in English to what I want to say"... I ended up putting my shoes on and walking a few doors down, smiling at my friend and explaining that I just couldn't respond in English! She laughed with me as she is too in language study and I figured out what I wanted to say with probably way more words than I needed. My brain is a little fuzzy these days. :)

But oh the joys of language learning! Overall it's a fun process and I can't wait to be more fluent, to be able to hold a conversation with someone and not just understand but be able to quickly respond appropriately. In just 8 days, I will say goodbye to my language helper, take an 8-10 hour bus ride to the coast and settle into a completely immersed culture of swahili speaking people. I pray that God keeps me humbly in this process and that I will learn what I can while I'm here in Nairobi and then trust Him to speak through me when I just can't pull a word out from under the water.

Thank you so much for your prayers, they mean the world to me right now and I know they are the only thing keeping me from drowning in the pool of words, phrases and culture that I'm taking in!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Simba means... & Uzima children's home

Lion! Yes the Lion King movie can teach me a few necessities but I wouldn't use it to learn proper Kiswahili for sure!

And it's Sunday already!! This week flew by it seemed! The majority of it was language studying with and without my tutor. I also went to a game/worship/fellowship night on Tuesday, took my first trip to the main grocery Uchumi, and studied a lot! I baked a delicious pan of snickerdoodle blondies of which I have to admit I ate too many of them. A few hours of badminton was played and lots of just getting used to being here. I sincerely love it and it still hits me quite frequently that I can't believe I actually get to be here. Here's a bit more about my language lessons & also my Saturday spent at the Uzima Children's home.

Language Lessons
On Tuesday morning my amazing language tutor came to my house prepared to take on the challenge. I was so impressed! I knew I was in good hands when I met her. Her name is Wambui and she is seriously a saint!

Tuesday I learned the Swahili names for 24 animals. I also was given 10 new verbs and I listened to her tell a story using 3 story pictures and then pointing as she quizzed me on how well I understood what was going on in the picture. ("Mboi ananoosa nyama" the dog smells the meat) Most of this last week was not speaking, but rather listening and comprehending what she was saying.

Each day we added up to 20 new objects in Swahili (things in the living room, body parts, and kitchen things). She introduced me to at least 10-20 new verbs each day and by doing so she would say the action and then do the action. ("simama" stand up, "tenganeza" to fix, "ruka" to jump)...aka language lessons also involved a bit of exercise...but not near enough to make up for the amount of baking I've done/eaten this last week!

It's so fun to begin to get it! This next week I get to begin to speak a bit more, eek! Thanks so much for praying for me during this process. I know it is only through God's power that language will be acquired as needed. And I'm sure more baking will happen and it wouldn't be the worst thing if exercise happened a bit more as well!

Uzima Children's home
I got asked to go about 30 minutes away out of Nairobi to a children's home to hang out with some kids for the day. Best decision I've made! Here are a few pictures from the day.

Doing what I love to do, projects with kids! It opened the door for some great
conversations and getting to meet these precious kiddos.
Cheka was the youngest and she was very entertaining. She loved to be held and give hugs!
Faith was my buddy for most the day and loved to hold my hand & sit on my lap.
She was quiet at first but had the most amazing smile! 
Stacy, myself and Faith out playing on the field. 
Stacy, Destiny, myself & Faith. One of my favorites from the day!
She found a "kijiko" (spoon) for eating and thanks to my Friday language lessons
I understood what she was saying!
Myself & Jessica with Cheka, Faith and Teddy. Of course none of them were looking.
Jess is my roommate while I'm in Nairobi and it has been great fun getting to know
her and spending these few weeks with her.

Monday, August 5, 2013

my flying friend Frank

Remember my spider friend Sam? He taught me so much back in March and we went through a lot together. Spiders really are one thing... buzzing in the ear, a whole different story.

I must preface this story by saying, I can sleep through just about anything. Once I'm asleep, I'm out until the morning. Even here, I have adjusted pretty well and really only wake up because my body thinks it is time to get up, a few minutes of convincing and I'm usually back asleep.

However, two nights ago, a new friend of mine made his first appearance and seems to really enjoy spending the early morning hours with me. We first met Sunday morning at 3am, I slightly awoke and heard the loudest buzzing sound I have ever heard. How in the world could one small insect make such an obnoxious sound?! I swatted, it went quiet, but within a few seconds he was back. I then tried the covers, breathing heavy, I realized that wasn't the best option, combined with high body heat, I was now sweating. I finally resented to praying, lightly covering my head with my pillow, and falling back asleep. I thought I had won.

Sunday after church, I came home and told myself, it's time to get serious about language learning! I pulled out my study books and audio cd and went to town. After an hour or so the front of my forehead began to hurt. Thinking it was the studying, I began to rub it... it was then I realized my new flying friend Frank had really won the battle last night. I had not one but two bites on my forehead. Right above my right eye was one the size of a dime, the one directly above that about the size of a quarter. I began to wonder... all the looks at church, was it because I was mzungu or because I had a massive bump on my forehead?!

So last night, as I went to bed I decided to make some adjustments in order to not have to be awoken by Frank again. I moved to the other bed in the room, away from the window and in a bit warmer area. As I laid my head down on my pillow I prayed and thanked God for the different species of bugs and insects he created, the purposes they served and that I really did like them, just not when they wake me up in the middle of the night or bite me multiple times. I fell asleep soon after feeling like things were going to be different, I was very hopeful!

Unfortunately around 2am, Frank came back. This time I swatted and quickly reacted... down with the net! Pulling it down and around me I tucked it into the bed sides and laid back down relieved to know I now had protection, protection I wasn't quite aware I needed here in the city. However I have now learned (from experience), mosquitos are still present here, just not as dangerous as those in other parts of the country. Thinking the threat was over, I turned onto my side smiling... one point for me, one point for Frank, so I thought. Within a few minutes the buzzing began.

This time however I continued to smile, the buzzing would get closer and then stop; hooray, I had outsmarted Frank! I was almost back asleep when the buzzing came closer than I would have liked. I laid there thinking, "Frank is just trying every angle"...*swat*... he made it inside. This time I got out of bed, raised the net back up, swatted the area and pulled the net back down, this time securing every area around my bed I possible could. I crawled back in, tucked in the final piece, laid down and within minutes I was sound asleep. My alarm went off in what seemed like minutes after finally getting back to sleep and I thought, other than getting woken up, I had won the battle last night. Unfortunately, yet again, I lost. This time both my arms had a bite and the back of my neck... can you the positions I took to try to get away from him?

With the score really at 0 points for me and 2 points for Frank (or 5 if you count the amount of bites), I'm getting more serious tonight. One, the net is coming down when I go to sleep and two I will be spraying my room with bug spray before doing so. So glad I'm learning these lessons now! I must say, Frank is not helping with the jet lag feeling. With his early wake up calls the last two nights, my body is beginning to think that is when it should wake up. I think exerting the energy to put the net down and secure tired me out enough to go back to sleep last night and I'm hopeful tonight will be better.

But today, right now actually, I'm really feeling these early morning battles, and a nap may be in my near future. But not to worry, the net will be coming down now, whenever I lay my head down on my pillow, no matter the time of day! I'm smiling, I feel like everything that happens is God whispering to me, "Welcome to Kenya!"

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