Friday, April 30, 2010

To shago we go!

"Shago" is a slang word for upcountry or someone's home village. Our last camp we went to a small village upcountry called Mwea. It was quite the experience. It was very rural! But I LOVE it. God really confirmed my heart for small villages and the people in them. From the minute I arrived, I felt such a peace there which was so amazing considering the harsh living conditions. It was so hot and humid, there was no electricity, we had to bath with dirty river water in a bucket, and because of the rice plantations there were so many mosquitoes which chewed us to pieces. But I can't complain. It was beautiful, quiet, peaceful, heavenly.

One of the groups had their discussion under the tree. It got so hot during the day that we would take refuge under the shade whenever we got the chance.

We didn't have that many campers and the campers that came were a bit challenging. They lacked discipline and didn't speak good swahili let alone english. We also had issues with some boys showing up drunk and smoking. And we had to keep a close eye on boys and girls who were getting to close. The village can be boring for youth so they find fun and entertainment in having sex. My heart really broke for these youth.

Peter is so good with the kids. He speaks their mother tongue so he really connected with them. 

We bought all our food from the locals including these 13 chickens that we slaughtered. Even I slaughtered one! I then helped pluck it and prepare it to be eaten. It was delicious!

It was a challenging but amazing experience. I was amazed at how much my heart really was at peace where we were even considering it's many difficulties. I can see myself working in a place like this one day. Bucket baths and kerosene lanterns here I come!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The people I will miss

We graduate bible school on Sunday. These past 3 and a half months seemed to have gone by so quickly. I woke up this morning dreading the thought of leaving my classmates I have grown to love over the past 3 and a half months. It's different than leaving my friends in college. It's harder. We have done everything together since January. Barely an hour goes by when we don't see each other. We ate together, we ran at 5am together, we learned together, we played football together, we pulled weeds together, we sang together, we memorized verses together and even when we had free time often we had free time together. I will miss these people terribly! I pray that we would still be able to stay connect so it's not goodbye forever (or at least until heaven).  Here are only a few of my fav moments and faces that I will miss.

Rahab and I going around and around on the ride. We giggled the whole time as we went up and down and all around.

Peter is my brother. We have had so many good chats, good laughs, good times together. 

James is so good to everyone. He always makes people feel loved and included.

Not a day goes by when we don't laugh till we cry. 

Goodbye for now my friends! I love you all!

Bringing the ghetto home

Today was the final day of camps until august when school is out again. We had 200 kids come to our home from the ghetto last week. You should have seen their faces when they saw how big their beds where and how nice the hot showers felt. They would shower 3 times a day because they never get hot water. They LOVED the food. For many of them, it was their favourite part of the camp. They ate foods that they get maybe once or twice a year. It was a challenging but fun week. I was a counsellor along with 2 others in a dorm room with 12 girls. I think I have expressed before how much I dislike living in a dorm. I like my own space and peace so I had to put aside all my own comforts and learn to adapt and love these girls' way of life. They stole my heart as I got to know them throughout the week. 
This was the last day of camp as I am sending them out the door. I was exhausted after staying up late watching and listening to the girls sing and dance traditional dances.

I had been waiting for weeks to see this cow give birth. In the middle of a volleyball match, we noticed the cow rolling around own the ground with her legs in the air. We called over the men who watch the cows and they started to pull the baby calf out. Out came the new addition to our compound! Mom started licking the slimy baby right away.

Every night we had a theme and this night was twin night. James often gets teased because of his light skin and his american ways (he spent 6 years in the US when he was younger). So we decided to be twins.

These 3 boys crack everyone up. From left to right is Deno, Pudo, and Mich. You would think they are brothers because they act the same and are always found within a few meters of each other. They are just great friends who know how to make kids have a good time. They always amaze me as they never seem to run out of energy and psych. Even last week Deno was suffering from malaria and lost his father but you would have never known. Amazing boys.

This is Kate. She was one of our best campers and a sweet girl. 

It was a great, but exhausting week. I loved loved loved getting to know these kids. Most of them deal with daily trials which most people in the West will never experience in their life yet they are full of lots of love to give. It was amazing just to shower them with love and treat them to an awesome week of camp where they could just lay aside all responsibilities they have at home and be kids.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Since we didn't have any camps this week, I was able to go up to Eldoret to go visit some of my favourite people in this world. This place has been my home since I came to Kenya for the first time in 2005. The people there have been so supportive of me and have taken me in like one of their own. I have also been privileged to watch these 100 kids grow up and grow into young people of God. 

This is Mercy(left), Me, and Truphenna (right) in 2005. I think they were about 11 and 12 when I first met them. 

This is Truphenna now. She is almost 16 years old and has just gone to high school this year. This girl makes me laugh. We always have a good time together and I am so amazed at how God is shaping her. 

I kept teasing Margaret because she was wearing an Arsenal hat (which is my team) when she supports Manchester United. 

Mama Brian (Mary) is expecting in August! She is such a beautiful mother and parent to these children.

I planted a tree in the garden in June and was surprised to see how big it had grown. They even put my name beside it and called it my tree. 

Kierra, an ELI staff member, was visiting from the US and had arranged for the grade 7 class to speak with their pen pal class in the US. The connection was a bit difficult but the kids enjoyed it. 

My girls who I love so dearly. I seriously can't get enough of them. I love seeing them grow. I love talking with them about life and God. I love joking around and playing with them. They are like little sisters to me. Thank you Jesus for placing these amazing people in my life!

Roller coaster Time!

Last sunday we were all called to the vehicle and were told that we are going somewhere special. I personally thought we were going for ice cream. Actually I was hoping we were going for ice cream but instead we ended up at a mini theme park. There was this one particular ride called the banana boat ride which Makau wanted everyone to try. I took one look at it and said NO WAY. First, I hate roller coasters. I have never liked them even as a kid. I get motion sick really easily and I don't like feeling that way just for a few minutes of fun. So I opted out but all the others took the plunge and did. Boy am I ever glad I stayed on the ground. The thing went up and down and around in circles while my friends were screaming at the top of their lungs. I laughed the whole time. 

Here they are just before the ride started. They looked less excited once they got off the ride.

The rides were sketchy. I am pretty sure they were like old rides from the West which were thrown out because they were unsafe to use. I looked at this board and laughed as it is at our own risk that we take these rides. The park people obviously know that their rides could collapse at any time. 

This picture very accurately depicts the relationship between Makau and I. Him trying to tell me something stupid and me being less than impressed. 

Chao and Naomi had a romantic ride going around in circles for what seemed like 20 minutes. 

James is always one to make me smile. He is full of character and life. We get big laughs out of him.

It was a fun outing even though I didn't get on any of the rides. We enjoyed just being out together as our time with each other is quickly coming to an end with only 2 weeks until graduation. I will miss these people!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Naomi's Poems

 Dreaded Attack

I thought I was a tough conqueror
immune to all manner of attacks
This was wishful thinking
of a person with a deficiency syndrome 
who was worried and ensured at the same time 

I did not know that I would wast away, 
I only imagined I was immune and healthy
yet I had led a life of luxury, 
a life of very risky behaviour, 
a careless life of premarital sex. 

Abstinence was a strange idea, 
all that glitters is not gold, 
some close friends had the killer virus
in their semen and body fluids, 
only I am not sure about their sputum. 

Recently a doctor gave me a shock 
with the message that I lacked immunity, 
a foreign body had entered my body, 
I'm infected with HIV/AIDS.
This has given me great shock. 

Why Me?

Why me? why me? Was I born to suffer? 
Was I born to endure pap long died, mama long died
but auntie cleans dishes, prepares food, fetches fire wood 
but don't forget to wash the clothes. 

Why me? Why me? Fellow children go to school
while i remember performing every duty monday to friday,
silence in our society no play no cheers yet education is free.

Auntie, education is free, house you are late
for how me kick out of your mind when all is asleep
when I sleep before sunrise, I am the first one to ware up,
Auntie, tea is ready
Stupid, Idiot, Imbecile do I look like.

Abusing language is no use to my head
sadness is the make up that appears on this tender head
pastors consolidation sound good on my ears

Children are a blessing from God
Children are our leaders of tomorrow
Children trust in God always and you will be set free 

Look at my shoes from Japan and earrings from Dubai
nice perfume all the way from India
Nescafe, Nescafe mmm drink of my choice
Go and get me some from the kitchen!

On the first day of camp, during our talent portion of the day, a young girl came up first and started reciting these poems. Instantly, all of us had our eyes on her and silence filled the tent. This young girl, named Naomi was only 10 years old. Sadly, these poems give a realistic picture of the lives of these children:AIDS, abuse, death, sex, education, etc. I got Naomi to write the poems down for me to share with you. Hope this gives you a small glance into the lives of these children. 

Camps in the Ghetto

In the middle of what seemed like a cement city filled with noise, plastered with dirt, and soiled with the smell of sludge and urine, we held two camps at two different schools this week. I have to say that this week has been incredible. Incredibly difficult, incredibly rewarding, incredibly challenging, and incredibly fun! In total, we had over 600 kids attend the camps. We dragged ourselves out of bed at 4am every morning in order to cross the city and set up on time. We sang, danced, played, listened, laughed, talked, learned, interacted, and ate for 6 days. It was incredible. I am still processing everything. These children live in the slums. They have had to overcome obstacle after obstacle their entire lives. So it made my heart joyful when I saw them with big smiles on their faces and roars of laughter coming out of their mouths. 

We separate into teams and do games every day. It is too much fun as we yell, scream, play, rejoice. Mama Joe (above) just won a competition for her team and the team went crazy!

This is Robert. He is one of my classmates who I have grown to adore. He is soft and tender hearted (which is no surprise since he has 7 older sisters and is the only boy in the family) but he is so good with the campers. He always knows how to make them laugh and get them involved. I enjoyed counselling with him this week. 

I think one of the highlights of my week was serving the kids chicken. For most of these kids, they eat chicken maybe once or twice a year as it is quite expensive. I talked with one boy after the meal and he said with big eyes, "that meal was SO SPECIAL!"

My new friend Dishon (or DC) was quite the character. He too is the youngest of 5 sisters with the oldest being 40 years old. He loved to act and be dramatic. He always gave me a good chuckle. 

Bobbing for oranges. I tried it but failed miserably. The water scared me as I didn't know what sort of germs and yuckies were in there. 

The kids were taught how to do quiet time or personal time with God. Every day we would give them some time to be by themselves and read their bibles. It was precious seeing 300 kids laying around reading their bibles.

Pastor Chris Mwalwa, our Word of Life Director, spoke to the kids every day for bible hour about Responsibility, Showing, and Freedom. The kids had their eyes glued on him. He even spoke their version of swahili which is not natural for him. 

This beautiful girl is ZamZam. She made me smile. Her face just beamed. She was so delightful to be around. 

Like I said, it was an amazing week. My skin didn't like the intensity of the sun and decided to burn but that's all part of it I guess. I am content knowing that Christ was preached and that now for many of these kids, He will be the One they turn to and choose to serve.