Tuesday, January 28, 2014

home again

I write sitting under some large trees that shade me from the sun and the wind blowing at my back. It’s a beautiful place to call my office!

I stepped off the bus around 5:20pm last Monday evening and before my feet touched the dirt ground, twenty plus kids came running screaming my name. The normal greeting here is to shake hands but I was welcomed with giant hugs. Tears desire to fall even now as I think back. It’s so good to be here again! The next day I was up and in the classroom again, enjoying the bit of Swahili I know coming quickly back to my thinking. My class, together with another teacher, has over 30 children! The other class has 17 but with two classes combined in one. We praise God that many have come and their parents understand the necessity for education. However we pray that they can bring the 200 shillings a month (about $2) to allow for the two teachers to have an income as well as food for their break provided.

This last Saturday, I attended a funeral for one of the fellow pastors in the village. He had been sick for awhile so his death was not a surprise. The pastor I live with, our assistant pastor and I walked about 20 minutes and I could tell we were getting closer because the music got louder. Winding through dirt paths and between people’s homes under the scorching heat definitely made me realize I wasn’t in Nairobi anymore.
As we approached the ceremony area I wasn’t too surprised to find the majority of the village people present. However, looking back I realize the number doubled by the time it was finally time to go to the burial site. Something I’ve learned about the culture here is everyone gets to speak if he or she so chooses! Combine that with what we would place in a normal funeral ceremony and the service lasts about four hours! By hour three my friend, Elizabeth finally arrived.
Here, another thing I’ve learned, its normal for the men and women to sit separately of one another. Because I had arrived with two men and couldn’t seem to find any of the women I knew, I submitted to following them to the other side and sat amongst the men. As soon as I spotted my friend, I made me my way through the large crowds to greet her. Imagine close to 200or so people and one white person in the whole bunch! (I’m still not sure how I spotted her before she saw me!)
The majority of the people arrived just in time to hear the closing prayer, view the body, and make their way to the burial site about a 10minute walk down the road. After meeting up with another friend, I was asked if I wanted to view the body. Having never met the man nor seeing a dead body before (and it wasn’t on my bucket list of things to do), I said I didn’t need to. She smiled at me with that grin she often gives me and then said, “it’s respectful to do so, come, I will go with you.” So I went. I didn’t faint and it wasn’t that bad but his final look is forever ingrained in my memory.
Walking the 10 minutes or so down the dirt paths I realized I was hungry and had brought a few snacks with me. Sharing them with my friends as we walked, we enjoyed naming the different granola bar ingredients from English to Swahili. I’m not sure why but when the three of us are together we laugh a lot! As we, along with everyone else, made their way to his final resting grounds I realized there was so many people there was no way I was going to see what was happening. I also remembered that I’m a white person who burns in the sun (unlike Kenyans), so I got to sit on the dirt ground and be shaded by one of my friends as they poked my skin to watch it turn from red to white and back again. Gotta love how the white skin is always a form of entertainment, no matter the age!
At the end of the day, I am thankful for the opportunity to support the family and community by being present for the funeral. I am also thankful for the hours I got to be with my friends and the chance to learn more about the culture of the people I live amongst. There wasn’t a lot of tears but there was a lot of people who came out to show their love for the family. One of the many beauties I’ve found living in this village… everyone looks out for each other and is there for one another in a time of need.

As February is quickly approaching, I’m looking forward to having my first visitor from the states come! She will stay for a week and get to live life with me. I’m sure my next update will have plenty of memories of our time together.

For those who have written emails, I just wanted to say thank you! I love hearing from you all and getting to answer the questions you ask.

Until next month…Kwaheri!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

just another transition

Fact: I’ve been in Nairobi for almost 2 months.
Fact: I had a ticket to go back to the village on Dec 19th… I stayed for Christmas.
Fact: I had a ticket to go back to the village on Jan 2nd… I got food poisoning.
Fact: God’s timing is perfect.
Fact: I’m so excited to hug all my adopted family and friends in the village again.
Fact: It’s not going to be easy to say goodbye to relationships here or the routine I’ve created.

I’ve had a great time in Nairobi working on a visual bible project for the kiddos in the village, studying up on my Swahili a bit more, and praying as God’s perfect plans and purposes unfolded. My time has also included visiting the children’s home again, a few trips to the used clothing (and anything else you can think of) market, a day at the men’s rehab center, and lots and lots of exercise!!

God has been teaching me so much about patience in the waiting. Everything that I read, songs I hear, pictures I see all seem to have the same message… wait on Me. Wait on my perfect plan, timing and peace. In just a few hours I will board the bus, travel some 10 hours and with God’s protection arrive safely in the village around 5pm Monday afternoon. Oh I can’t wait to see all those beautiful faces again!

But as I once again pack up my room, put the limited amount of stuff to my name in a small suitcase and backpack, I can’t help but hope that I can settle into home in the village quickly and only come to Nairobi for short visits from now on!

I have to admit, these last six months of going back and forth have been difficult. Coming to Nairobi, saying bye to my friends in the village, planning to be back in a few days or a few weeks, and then not being able to leave when I want has been hard on my heart. When I’m away, I miss my routine of bible study when I wake up, teaching or hanging out with the kids in the morning, more hanging out in the afternoon and speaking a lot of swahili, helping to prepare dinner, singing Kiswahili hymns and then eating Kenyan food for dinner around 8:30pm. It’s what I prepared to do before I came and it will be so good to get back to it so very soon!

And you know what’s even more crazy… I also miss cold bucket showers, my lizard friend by the hole in the ground toilet who dashes up the wall every time I come in, all my spider friends in my room who help keep the mosquitos quiet at night, and the dirt that covers my body through out the day that reminds me that I get to call a village home.

If all goes as planned, I will get to remain in the village until April! Being on a year around schedule here we are in school January-March and then have the month of April off. I will spend at least two weeks in Nairobi during that time for a conference and a small break from village life. Before I close my eyes for a few hours of sleep, I thought I would give you a few things you can be praying on my behalf for:

*Smooth transition back into life in the village and a feeling of being “settled” there…finally!
*Swahili to come back to the forefront, as I step back into the classroom on Tuesday.
*Small group for the young women in the village to come together so we can dig a little deeper into God’s word together.
*Sensitive to the Holy Spirits leading to opportunities to share the gospel with the kids I teach and hang out with on a daily basis.

So excited to be able to share this journey with each and every one of you! I look forward to sharing some fun stories in the coming days, as I know God loves to keep me on my toes! Don’t hesitate to email me, I love to hear from you!


Some of my friends from Nairobi 
The girls after our nightly exercise routine!

At the rehab center. Such an encouraging and therapeutic day for all of us!

Can't wait to walk this long dirt road home again.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sometimes we just need a friend...

Sometimes we just need a friend…  

To come alongside, put their arm around you, and ask how are you?

January 1st, not just a new day, but also a new year. A day that is filled with hope and excitement, new routine and good habits renewed.

However, my January 1st looked something like this. I went to bed around 1am after celebrating over chili and chapati and red velvet cake. We laughed, sang, shared stories and skyped, which I think, fully incorporates what it means to celebrate a holiday as a missionary. It was relaxed and soon after the new year I was in bed…perfection.

I rolled over, a few or so hours later and glanced at the time on my phone…11am?? That can’t be right! And then I laid there thinking, “I could totally go back to sleep right now.” Maybe I slept too long. So I sit up in preparation for actually getting out of bed and realized….that’s not such a good idea. I laid back down. At this point I realized my stomach was in knots and was not happy. Let’s just say I did finally make it out of bed but it wasn’t as smooth as the first time and involved the thought, “uh oh!” to my pour achy body.

Maybe I ate something last night that just didn’t settle and I’ll deal with it for a few hours? Once I felt in the clear I walked out of my room, started down the hallway and had the “uh oh!” feeling again…already. Back I go. Now thinking there can’t possibly be anything more inside me I left my room again… walked out to the living room to find no one there. There were three people who stayed in this house and one coming this morning so they all have to be somewhere…so I (feeling really brave!) went down to the boys house where everyone was. And that’s when I get the awesome, so very encouraging words over and over, “You sure don’t look very good”… yea I know I don’t feel it either! About 10 minutes and I realized I’m exhausted and back to bed I went.

By the afternoon the pain in my stomach and body was without question miserable (and I’ve passed multiple kidney stones!). The combination of that with the countless trips to the “throne” not close enough to my bed made for a very exhausted me. At this point I was still feeling (obviously not right in the head) like I could possible feel better enough to fulfill the bus ticket I had bought and be able to travel back to my home at the coast the next day. I even managed to hitch a ride to my mentor’s house, have a short conversation (I hope it made sense) and then thank God, got a ride back as well. From that point on I didn’t see the great outdoors until Monday, January 6th.

I didn’t travel. I didn’t eat. I didn’t talk much. I did take a few showers. I did sleep A LOT. I did pray. I did sleep some more.

The first week of new hope and excitement was fulfilled in my bed while I slept it away. I went outside today, Wednesday, a week after this all started, for the first time with a purpose; make it to the store and back. I did, but I passed out in my bed as soon as I got back.

And in all of this I came to a conclusion. When you are sick, can’t do anything for yourself, completely dependent on others, that’s when you come to appreciate all those people (you, as a missionary have said goodbye to) and their willingness to drop anything and be there for you. Don’t get me wrong, I have people here, great people actually who called regularly, made food when I started to feel better, and prayed a lot for my recovery and I’m so grateful.

But it made me miss my close circle of people who have walked life with me and provided me with that security that I can just be who I am (sick and all) and they don’t judge me. Those awesome people that when they see you they put their arm around you and ask, “how are you?” … and mean it.


I am so grateful that you have walked with me every step of the way up to this point and ordained each day that I have lived. I thank you for healing me and the way you continue to provide strength to get through each day. I am so excited for this new year that is ahead and all the plans that you have for them. I’m excited for the people who you will bring into my life as well as the sustaining of those you have already placed there. I have come into this new year with only one goal, to not have a plan. To fully submit to your desires and walk with you on a daily basis and see what that looks like. And that sounds really exciting and hard, adventurous and uncontrollable, submissive and overwhelming all at the same time.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. –Proverbs 19:21

Ultimately I want your purposes to prevail and I pray that whatever that looks like, wherever that leads me, that your Kingdom would be furthered, your children would be loved, your light would shine and your hope would be found.

In Jesus name I pray,


By the way, I'm doing much better. I still don't know what it was, maybe a virus, maybe food poisoning, maybe something else but between drugs, rest, sleep and prayer I'm on the mend! I'm getting a little bit more energy every day. As to when I will return to the coast? Remember my goal for the year?... yea I have no idea! Whenever the Lord decides to send me! I'm working on getting things in order for this to happen but ultimately my return is fully in His hands. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Year in Review

What an exciting year 2013 has been! I witnessed and was apart of God doing some amazing things over this last year.

I got to move to Kenya!!

But before I get ahead of myself, let’s recap the first six months…

Seriously just as amazing. I really enjoyed the process of raising up financial and prayer support to move to Kenya. If I wasn’t working, hanging out with family or friends, or down on my knees praying, I was out talking to people about Kenya.

In January my support progress looked something like this…
11% of my monthly and 30% of my one-time

And in July…
84% of my monthly and 100% of my one-time!

Isn’t God amazing! That last 16% was raised (and more) the week before I left at Shadow Mountain’s annual Summer Blast (VBS).

I got to spend these 6 months living with my grandparents. I am so grateful for the time we spent together, the breakfasts we cooked, goodnight kisses we shared, and little moments of living together that I will forever cherish! Thanks for housing me!

Something not so exciting was being diagnosed as lactose intolerant (mostly to cheese). These were sad days as I ruled out the culprit and have since suffered many nights because I thought I could handle it. Not so fun.

However, on a more positive food note, I also discovered (thanks to my dad!) an East African restaurant in San Diego that enabled me to try a few samplings of the foods I now call normal. I can’t wait to go back when I get home to San Diego and eat the meal with my hands! Family and friends I’m warning you now… that’s how we do it here in Kenya!
This goat would have tasted so much better if I would have eaten it with my hands... if I only knew what I was missing!

And the last two months before I left were insane, there really is no better way to describe it. I worked crazy hours (even though I tried hard to limit them) but I wouldn’t have wanted to spend it any other way, I got lots of friend time and much needed family time as well. I worked, packed, saw people, slept, ate, and did it all over again day by day literally until I left! It was nuts but I am so incredible thankful for that time.

Five big things (and a whole lot of small things) also happened during that insanity (as if the above list of daily to-do's wasn't enough :) ). I got to be in two weddings, I went to camp for a week with 10 amazing girls, I was the missionary for the week at Summer Blast and I had a going away party with close to 100 people two days before take-off. So crazy but so much fun!

Best friend Lyndsey and Matt's on the left and cousin Ryanne & Jason's on the right
My awesome crazy 10 campers!
Preparing to present at Summer Blast!
Going away party cake!

Take-off happened on a Tuesday evening the 23rd of July. Knowing that God’s will was really happening in such a big way, I couldn’t help but smile. I still remember the tears from family and friends (and I did have a mini-breakdown in the airport just before entering security) but I hold dear the hugs and kisses I received too!
The bags are finally packed and ready for the journey!

I flew first to Georgia where I spent a week recouping from the insanity of the last month as well as building some precious memories with a family I hold so close to my heart! I loved playing games with the kids, our awesome Jesus conversations with their parents and long walks through the forest behind their house. So peaceful and perfect! 
Thanks Rooke family for being so awesome!

Sunday afternoon, the 28th of July we made the almost two hour drive to Atlanta where we hugged and I said my final goodbyes to people stateside and began my 24 or so hour journey to Kenya. That involved a layover in New York and London and I landed late on Monday the 29th in Nairobi!

And now over these last 6 months that I have been in Kenya I have spent a pretty equal amount of time in Nairobi as well as the village. I have enjoyed the opportunities of language learning and therefore baking (as a stress relief) in Nairobi as well as the beautiful walks and amazing friendships with the kids and adults in the village. I have attended two Kenyan weddings, ate too many chapati’s, took close to 50 cold bucket showers and seen God’s light shine through so many different faces and creations.

6 months in Kenya has involved...
10+ mosquito bites
9 pieces of mail from home! You guys rock!
8 different meals in the village
7 scoops of ice cream in Malindi
6 bus trips to the coast and back...
5 books of the Bible finished w/ study
4 places to call home just here in Kenya
3 mentors...I'm really cared for!
2 new amazing close friends made!
1 awesome host family that I love dearly!

And here are some of my favorite photos taken from the last 6th months...
My first "Kenyan" meal in Kenya... kuku with veges and salad

Days spent at the Uzima children's home

Beautiful downtown Nairobi

My awesome langauge helper!

My home in the village

Eating some ice cream in hot hot Malindi!

Language helpers!

Samuel working hard so he could get his picture taken :)

My awesome escorts!

My memorial tree planting next to our home in the village

How I wish I could live my life to the Lord, completely surrendered!

Spending the afternoon with the lovely ladies of the village

Eating Mandazi's!

Village wedding

Precious faces that speak life in the village

The first new life to arrive since I came!

My co-teachers and friends in the village

My Kenyan parents

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Christmas Tree 2013

Merry Christmas!

I really am amazed as I look back on these last six months just how different God’s plans were from the one’s I had made. As I look back I see just how well He took care of me, providing me rest when I needed it, friends when I felt lonely, and so many Skype dates to help me not miss people too much. I have moved a lot but as the sermon went on Christmas eve, when Jesus entered Mary and Joseph’s life, it didn’t get any easier… it got a lot harder!

As New Years Eve 2013 came, I was surrounded by great friends from around the world (Germany, Kenya, Ireland and America) who all came together, (with a few of their own traditions) to ring in the New Year! We shared a great meal, lots of laughter and stories, a time of worship and even Skyped in a good friend to bring in the Kenyan New Year with!

Mario playing the guitar during our worship session

Rachel having fun as well

Rachel and I making Chapati for dinner

Timo fixing his plate of chili, rice, chapati and cornbread

Just relaxing

Phil cutting the New Years Red Velvet Cake!

Our Kenyan New Years wouldn't have been the same without Skyping in 
with Amanda!

God surely provided this last year with all the craziness and transitions that happened exactly what I needed when I needed it and I couldn’t be more thankful. As hard as many of these moments were, I’m glad I can look back and see God’s hand in it all. (If only letting go of my own plans for the future were as easy!) But as I look forward, I’m beginning to learn to not make plans and let God lead from the beginning. I think that’s my new years resolution! Happy New Year everyone!

2014 = no plans!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...