I only have 9 more sleeps left at home in Castlegar. My mom always makes my final days at home really special by making sure that we do the things I love to do, see my favourite people, and eat my favourite foods one last time. So tonight she made my favourite food of all time: Rice Krispie squares! Yes, Rice Krispie squares, pineapple and steak are my 3 favourite foods. My amazing mother has planned for a few special steak dinners this week too. I love her.
The goodbyes have started as well. With it being the holidays, I have been able to see some of my friends from far away lands who have come home.
I will be having an open house on January 3rd at 2pm at the MacGregor house in Castlegar. I am inviting all my friends and family to come and enjoy an afternoon of laughing, chatting, tea, treats, a fews tears and one last big hug goodbye!
It's only a few days away from Christmas. It seemed to creep up on me really fast this year. I have been really trying to digest all that is going on around me. My last Christmas looked much different than this year but it was by far my favourite. I am always amazed at our consummerism yet I still buy into it. My mind is constantly thinking about my trip and all the details that need to come together. And I have yet to stop and think about the true reason I am going on this trip: Jesus. And it just so happens to be the time of year when we get to celebrate His birth, this great Gift that we were given.
I have been recieving numerous gifts over the past week. Its been a bit overwhelming as last year I didn't get a single gift. But tonight I was challenged. Challenged to think about the true Gift I am given. I am challenged to sit back and receive. To recieve this great Gift that I by no means earned or deserved. This Gift that was given to me because of one simple reason: Love. Because He loves me...
After months of waiting, my ticket was finally booked today. This will by far the most adventurous trip yet. I will be on 6 planes before I even arrive in Nairobi on January 14. I am heading to the Word of Life International Office in Schroon Lake NY for a few days before going to Kenya. I am excited to land in Seattle, Chicago, Albany, New York City, Amsterdam and then finally Nairobi. I am really looking forward to stepping off the plane and feeling the warm evening air in Nairobi!
Since I was a little girl, Africa has consumed me. It was strange as no one in my family had ever been to Africa, I didn’t know anyone who was from Africa or who had any other skin colour than white, I never learned about it in school or saw it on the news but I knew Africa existed and I was captivated. As I grew older, the calling to be in Africa strengthened and I began to pursue this passion. I headed there as a naïve 17-year-old, then a 19-year-old college student, and eventually resided there for 10 months as a 20-year-old short-term missionary. As I pondered where my life was going and what my next steps should be, nothing fit. I planned to do other things, but my ambition faded. I felt pressured by the standards of our society and what the “right” or “normal” life was. Eventually I broke down. That’s when God stepped in and reminded me of my great love for Africa. He has placed this immense passion for Africa in my heart so that I would pursue it for His Glory!
So finally I said, “Yes, God” to pursuing a life-long calling to Africa.
In April, I stepped foot onto a Word of Life compound just south of Mombasa. I was put there unexpectedly due to circumstances in my work. I did not know that these 3 weeks would open new doors for me. At the end of my time there, I decided to pursue becoming a part of this ministry. Word of Life is a worldwide youth ministry. They work in 56 countries around the world training, investing in and building up the next generation of youth. If you would like to learn more about their work you can visit www.wol.org
In January, I will be starting a short-term bible course offered by Word of Life in Nairobi. Once I have finished, I will move back to Mombasa and work with the team there for the rest of the year. I will be involved with their various bible clubs, youth camps, schools, outreaches, and concerts. I am also looking forward to creating more relationships with young girls and continuing the relationships that I made last year. I am beyond excited to be back in Kenya, to be a student, and to mingle amongst the people I love.
One thing God has put on my heart is to be more connected to people back home. I have found a passion for writing and telling stories of the people I meet, the things I experience and the ways God is working in lives across the world. I have created a blog (www.movingwithcompassion.blogspot.com) to keep you frequently updated with the happenings of my life in Kenya and will also be sending out my regular email updates.
But I need YOU! Would you please consider being a part of my support team? There are two ways you can support me.
1. Prayer/Encouragement – This time I will not have security issues so I am able receive/write emails more. Would you commit to praying for me? Or writing me an email of encouragement or a phone call every once in a while? If so would you send your email address and mailing address to email@example.com. If you would like to be a part of my prayer/encouragement team, could you start praying for the following items?
- All the pieces to be put into place before I leave in less than a month!
- My family as their daughter heads to Africa YET again
- God’s ultimate provision of everything I need
- My heart as I leave my family and friends, I become a student again, and I return to the nation and people I love.
- That my ministry in Kenya would continue to be fruitful, that I would be receptive to the lead of the Holy Spirit, and that God would work powerfully in and through me.
2. Financially- As the organization is a faith-based organization, I am required to raise my own support/salary. My budget for this trip will be 12,000CAD that includes my airfare, tuition, room and board, pocket money, immigration fees, and administration fees. If you feel led to financially support the ministry in Kenya, you can fill out the form at the bottom of the page and send your gift to the address listed. If you would like to make an online gift, you may call Elisabeth Dineen at 518-494-6360 (Schroon lake, NY) and she will be happy to set that up for you!
Thank you for being apart of this wonderful journey with me. My prayer is that you too would be blessed by what God is doing in lives of people across the world!
I want to partner with the ministry of a Word of Life missionary. I would like my gift to benefit the ministry of Nikole MacGregor and the work in Launch. I understand that the use of my gift is subject to the discretion and control of Word of Life Fellowship, Inc. Donations will be acknowledged with a tax-deductible receipt.
____ I would like to pray faithfully for this ministry ____ I would like to make a special gift of $_____ ____ would like to commit to make regular gifts
Last year I bought this beautiful, hand crafted nativity set in Kijabe. I loved it because the people have faces that are shaped like those of the Masai people. That was the purpose of the artist. So I pulled it out this year and proudly displayed it in our living room next to our Christmas tree. My parents and I sat there ooing and aweing at it when my brother comes upstairs with his own additions to the scene. Apparently Dominik Hasek, the famous hockey goalie, witnessed Jesus being born over 2000 years ago! And even the Jack-in-the-box head joined them in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! The frogs also must have heard the news and followed the star to where Jesus lay. Wow!
I love goofing around with my family.
My brother and I have always liked to wrestle.
Although, these days I am the one who ends up getting hurt
Happy Birthday Daddy!
These 3 people are what makes moving across the world really hard. If only I could convince them to move with me....
I saw a picture the other day of the dirty, busy, crammed streets of Nairobi. I must confess, it warmed my heart. Since then, I have been thinking about matatus. I am sure I have mentioned them before in my emails or in my stories. Forgive me as sometimes I just assume that you know what they are. They are a huge industry in Kenya. You can't go anywhere without seeing them.
So what are they? Minibuses. They are the public transport in Kenya. And I LOVE taking them. Why you might ask?
Well, there are no specific bus stops. You pretty much just stand on the sides of the roads and stick out your hand or raise your eyebrows to signal to the conductor to pick you up. You can also be dropped off anywhere you would like.
They are super cheap. The one I used to take to work everyday in Mombasa would cost me about 20cents a ride.
They are more fun than buses here in Canda. They have SO much more character. Because most of them are privately owned, the owner choses the decor. The most pimped-out matatu generally gets the most business. And boy, are they ever pimped out. On the outside they have explicit pictures of various rappers, political icons, and graffiti. On the inside, florescent lights accompanied by more pictures of celebrities only add to the video screen which is playing the latest music videos.
Then there are two people who work in the matatu. One is the driver who drives the vehicule. The second is the conductor who is the one who spots the customers on the sides of the roads, collects the money, and manages the coming ins and outs. When the conductor sees a person who wants to get in, he knocks the roof and the driver stops. He knocks it again to signal to the driver that they are ready to start driving again. Same process happens when one wants to get off the matatu.
I enjoy the sketchiness of them. I know, crazy as it sounds but they are more like a rollarcoaster ride than a public transport method. They often drive much crazier than the other cars, most of them are broken down and rickety, and they tend to cram in as many people as possible even if it is against the law. The most people I have ever been in a matatu with is 24. Yes, 24 human beings crammed into a mini bus. Personal body bubble? It's popped.
However, there is dark side to matatus. Most of them have very sexual content and promote a very gangster lifestyle. Most of the content on the inside has to do with nudity, sex, and course language. I hear that there are large gangs who control many of the matatus. I remember being quite disgusted as I sat in front of the tv screen while the most degrading music video was playing. I diverted my eyes elsewhere.
Of course there are the missionary matatus that preach Jesus. On the outside there are bible verses and biblical pictures, but on the inside, the degrading videos still play. There are some that are filled with cheesy pictures of Jesus and very light and fluffy sayings about Jesus. Quite honestly, those ones embarrass me too.
So, I have a special place in my heart for matatus.
A few months ago I started to dream about running my own matatu business (ministry) one day. I have asked about the best routes to run my matatu and the most attractive colours that I should paint it. I have been told that its about the music that is being played and how loud it is. I have already asked some of my friends to work as the driver or conductor. I myself have thought about driving it. It would be quite the site seeing a white girl driving a matatu. It's a pretty male dominated industry. And I am pretty sure that I would be too timid and slow behind the wheel. I have started to figure out the costs and the income. But more than anything, I want it to be a good influence on the roads in Kenya. I want people to come in my matatu and feel completely comfortable, to be loved and accepted, and to feel safe. I want good conductors and drivers who can reach out to the other conductors and drivers. Many of them are young guys who can't find work or who have little education. Some of them are also much sought after by the university girls and are often found with fake diamonds in their ears and an arm around a pretty lady.
My heart has compassion for this industry as I see the huge impact it's culture has on the people in Kenya.
I want people to experience Christ's amazing grace and extravagant love...in my matatu.
Here is a fun video I found that very accurately describes a matatu experience.
Today I succesfully completed the Food Safe course. It is a course that you are required by law to take if you plan to work around food. It goes through basic safety precautions (much of which is common sense) inorder to prevent the general public from food borne illnesses (aka food poisoning).
As we went through the information, I couldn't help but think about how wrong we treated our food in Kenya. It's amazing that I have never gotten sick from food. I couldn't help but giggle as I remembered the things I have eaten and the way they were prepared. They are definitely unacceptable according to the standards here in British Columbia. Here are a few examples:
Standards in B.C: Raw meat must be stored in a refridgerated environment at a temperature of 4 degrees Celcius or less.
Reality in Kenya: When you want raw meat, you must go to the local butchers, show him the piece that you want and he will cut off the appropriate limb from the carcass hanging in the window.
Standards in B.C: Fish must be refridgerated almost immediately after being killed.
Reality in Kenya: Raw fish bakes all day long in the hot sun of Mombasa. Fisherman lay it in the streets untill it is all sold.
Standards in B.C: Be careful not to ingest any harmful chemicals!
Reality in Kenya: Vegetables must be bleached inorder to avoid getting sick.
Standards in B.C: Eggs must be refridgerated. The carton must be kept on the bottom shelf incase one breaks and spills onto other items.
Reality in Kenya: Eggs are bought in plastic bags and kept on the counter.
Standards in B.C: Thorough handwashing in restaurants is absolutely necessary. This process goes as follows: turn on warm water, lather hands in liquid soap, rub each hand in a rotary motion for at least 30 seconds, rinse hands with warm water and let water drip down from the wrists to the finger tips, turn off taps and use paper towel or air dryer to dry your hands.
Reality in Kenya: Thorough handwashing in restaurants is somewhat necessary providing there is a sink available. This process goes as follows: turn on the one shaky tap (that is only cold water), take the dirty bar of soap or the plastic pop bottle with watered down liquid soap in it, lather hands, wash as much as possible with the little dribbles of water coming out of the tap, turn off the tap and wipe your hands on your skirt to dry them.
Needless to say, our standards in B.C. are a little different than the ones in Kenya. As I learned about the various sicknesses that we can get from food, I thanked God for His protection. His mighty hand is ultimately in control of these crazy bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi!
This is a video that I created of some of the people I have met, places I have been, and moments I have experienced during my past 3 trips to Kenya. I hope it gives you a glimpse into my heart for this nation and it's people!
I was hoping that by now I would have all the details of my upcoming return to Kenya all in order. Obviously that was MY plan, not HIS plan. In my head, I had imagined that right now I would be spending my time raising support, slowly starting to pack, getting vaccines, planning go-away parties, etc. I would be more relaxed and laid-back compared to the other 3 times where all the plans came together very last minute. I had hoped to have starting blogging and writing more. I had hoped to have all things booked and visa applications in process. I had hoped that when people asked me about my plans, there would be something to share.
Nope. It is less than two months away from my anticipated departure date and I have no plans. OK, that's not true. I have broken plans. Plans that seem to be in a million little pieces. The part that I hate the most is that I can't do anything about it! I have done what I can here on my end and am now waiting. Waiting for responses from people across the world, waiting to start raising support, waiting to see if I can afford a new computer, waiting to book plane tickets, waiting to get an international driver's license, waiting, waiting, waiting.
But my faith is remaining strong. My heart is working on being flexible to God's great plans. My anxious mind is trying to keep focused on the tasks of the day. And my patience is having it's perfect work in me.
He knows that plans He has for me. He already knows them. He knows all the logistics and details. He knows the timing and the cost. He knows the flight numbers. He knows it all. Sometimes I just wish He would reveal them to me now. But I trust Him. I know this time is for me. For me to learn something and to grow in Him. So for that I am thankful.
You learn alot of swahili in the movie The Lion King. I didn't know it, but I already had a good start on the language before even stepping foot in Kenya.
My brother named his cat "Simba" after the movie came out. I remember being in kindergarten and going to a Lion King themed birthday party where we danced around singing, "Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase..." And my best friend and I used to tell each other "Asante sana, squash banana."
Little did I know that these are legitimate swahili words in that movie.
Rafiki = Friend Simba= Lion Hakuna Matata = No worries Asante Sana = Thank you very much (So when translated, the phrase means "thank you very much squahed banana")
But I learned a new one yesterday.
Pumba. He is the loving, unintelligent, clumsy warthog. And his name says it all. Pumba is short for the swahili word Pumbavu which means "idiot"
Hmm. I have been calling that warthog an "idiot" since I was little. Oh Walt Disney.
The other day, I was sitting outside at a picnic table with a child in my daycare when out of the blue he started telling me how he doesn’t understand why people don’t believe in God. I don’t usually talk to the kids about God but something was on this 7-year – old’s heart that he just needed to share with me. It went something like this.
“You know what? God created all of this! God created the whole world. Some people don’t believe that. They believe it was just put together or it started without trees.”
“Yup” I reply
“ And you know what? He created the whole world in just 6 days and then on the seventh day He rested. He made man too from the dirt. And you know that He made woman from a piece of the man?”
“Yes, it was the rib”
“ And you know what? That woman was tricked by the snake and ate the fruit which is why we do bad things.”
“And you know what? We can talk to God. We just have to close our eyes like this (he closes his eyes) and start talking to Him. We can tell Him everything. He can help us with anything.”
“And you know what? God had a Son named Jesus who died but then rose again. He walked on this earth. And you know that if you kill someone you go down there (he pointed to the ground) but if you do good you go to heaven”
“Well, you can go to heaven but you have to believe in Jesus.”
“I believe in Jesus!”
“Really? Me too, He’s my best friend.”
It was a refreshing dose of a simple faith. I have been watching children a lot lately. On Sunday at church, I was watching a little boy in the chair in front of me during worship. His face was full of joy. I began to wonder what goes on in his head on a daily basis. I guarantee he doesn’t worry about what he is going to eat tonight or where he will get the money to buy new clothes. He is not debating whether or not he should get the H1N1 vaccine. He does not care what other people think of him as he bounces around to the rythmn of the music. He is loving and forgiving when someone wrongs him. When he is hurt, he goes to his father. When he is sad, he goes to his father. When he is happy, he goes to play with his father. He trusts his father to take care of him, to protect him, to guide him, and to love him unconditionally.
Imagine if we had a faith like these children. The faith that God desires us to have
“and He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3-4
One morning, as I waited for my mom to get ready, I sat in my living room and turned my TV on. I opted not to watch the saturday morning cartoons. Instead, I was captivated by the World Vision commercial on the following channel. I was so overwhelmed and consumed with compassion for the children I saw being profiled that my eyes started to well up with tears and soon the tears were strolling down my face.
Ever since I can remember, my heart has broken for the poor, the needy, the lost, the orphaned of Africa. My pastor once told our church that he was planning on building an orphanage on the coast of South Africa. As we left the service, my mom said to me, "There you go Nik, you can go work in that orphanage." My response was, "No Mom, I am going to go build it."
A few years later, my compassionate heart moved me....all the way to Africa.
At the tender age of 17, I left home and ventured to Kenya. I didn't know what was I was getting myself into.
3 days into my trip, homesickness kicked in and I was miserable. I didn't understand. This was my life-long dream, this is what made my heart flutter, this was what God had put on my heart at a very early age. And I hated it. I cried out to God for days and days to bring me home. But He didn't. He had different plans.
And boy am I ever glad that He did.
Meet Mercy Jepcosgei.
She is a dear friend of mine. She caught my attention right away. Everywhere I was, I was always looking for her. We didn't talk much. She was (and still isn't) a very outgoing young girl. But she was captivating.
One night at devotions, I sat in a gazebo and listened to 50 orphaned children belt out some familiar swahili chorus'. I was sitting on a bench and looked up to my right only to see Mercy. I watched her clap her hands, sway back and forth, and sing aloud with all her heart. Those familiar tears welled up in my eyes again. I was moved with compassion for her. I didn't know where she came from or what had happened in her life. I didn't know what her dreams were. I didn't know what she was good at. I didn't know her favorite colour or her favorite food. But I fell instantly in love with her. Compassion overwhelmed my heart once again.
As I sat beside her, I wondered how I could show her how much I loved her. How do I put this love and compassionate heart that God has given me into action? How do I move with compassion?
One night, I was in her room (that she shares with 11 other girls) when I noticed that she was feeling a bit down. She was lying on her bed watching the other girls dance and play around the room. I asked if everything was ok and she said that she was fine. I then overheard her telling her friend that she had a cold. I simply reached over and started to rub her back.
This time, tears welled up in her eyes.
At that moment I could tell that she knew that I loved her.
The next morning, I got up very early and headed back to see her. She was in her room, folding her clothers. I said to her, "How are you doing today?" "Fine" she replied. I then walked across the room and put my arms around her.
At that moment, tears welled upin both eyes.
This is a picture of Mercy (left) and I 4 years later. I have been to Kenya every year since then. Most recently, I spent 10 months in Kenya serving with Africa Inland Mission. I have gone to visit Mercy 8 times. I am so excited to see the girl that she will grow up to be. I am excited as I watch her learn to move in the ways of the Lord. I am excited that she is one of my best friends.