Sunday, June 27, 2010

Danger Ahead!

It's sunday night and I am absolutely exhausted after a crazy yet super fun few days. Yesterday we held a youth rally here at Word of Life. We have been spending our days planning this event for the past 3 weeks. It was a great success. We had about 250 students from local high schools come and join us for the afternoon. It was a lot of laughing, singing, dancing, and of course, the Word of God.

Our theme was "DANGER AHEAD" from Hebrews 2:3. This was the back of the t-shirt that I had designed and made. It was simple but bold. 

Meet my team mate Jon Mwongi or as we like to call him, Senior. He is a talented dude especially when it comes to music and leading worship music. He has been at Word of Life for about 5 years now serving on the ministry team. He is  calm, cool and collected. It's very hard to get this guy angry or frustrated. I very much enjoy being on the team with him. 

I was absolutely delighted to see Shimba Hills high school walk through the door. A few weeks ago, me and my four other team mates went on an adventure trying to find this school. We happened to pick the wettest, rainiest day in Mombasa's history to do it. Shimba Hills is literally over many many hills. It took us about 2 hours just to find the school. Mud made the journey difficult. We had to get out and push the van up the hills when it got stuck. We were splattered with mud as the tires spun around furiously and the rain poured down on us. It turned out to be a 4 hour excursion just to get to this school. But our efforts paid off. God had a plan for us and for the Shimba Hills students. We had a couple of them accept Christ and dedicate their lives to following Him wholeheartedly! 

We were fortunate to have one of our friends, Christine Ndela, come and sing for the kids. She is a bit of a celebrity here in Kenya. She sings beautiful gospel music. So when she got up on the stage to sing, she had the entire crowd up on their feet dancing. Even some kids had made up a routine to one of her songs and decided to become her back-up dancers. The students loved it. 

The day was a big success. I enjoyed every part of it. And now I am enjoying every part of my bed where I think I will lay my head to rest early tonight. 

Actophlem to the rescue

It's been about 5 weeks since I started coughing. It started as a light cough caused by a small tickle in my throat and it had turned into a painful, raspy chest cough that I couldn't get to stop. I went to a good doctor several times. He gave me several medicines that eased the pain but never cured it. He did chest x-rays and blood tests. He gave me anti-biotics. But nothing worked. I tried cutting different foods out of my diet. People here blamed the cold weather (a freezing 25 degrees Celsius) for my chest problems and kept urging me to bundle up as if winter in Canada has come. Eventually, the bronchitis caused me to have sinus problems where I would wake up with a stuffed head and plugged ears everyday. I was getting tired of it. I would wake up every morning and ask God to heal me. Ok, sometimes I cried, literally, that God would get rid of it.

And He almost has.

I went to visit a lady on the compound who has struggled with bronchitis issues her whole life. She told me to take "Actophlem." It's a cough syrup that is cheap and that you can buy at almost any pharmacy. So last Sunday I decided to try it.

I have taken it for a week now and my cough has decreased at least 90%! I don't hack away when I am in the middle of a conversation with someone. I don't choke up my lungs. I don't hear this fog horn noise come out of my chest when I laugh. It's wonderful.

So today I am thanking everyone for their prayers. It's not completely gone but I am definitely on the road to recovery. Thank you Jesus for creating Actophlem!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sad day for Kenya

There seems to be too many sad days in Kenya.

Sunday was another one.

Kenya has just rewritten their constitution. They have the proposed draft out  for the public and the voting will be at the beginning of August.

This constitution has been no end of controversy. It comes up in every conversation. Copies of the draft are found everywhere. People will spend hours debating the fine details of the proposed draft. There are a couple of issues that are causing great conflicts especially between the church and the government.

1) Abortion is becoming legal in Kenya. The constitution allows for abortion although it has to be approved by a doctor on certain terms and conditions.

2) This constitution gives way for a more Islamic influence in the country. It's a big issue as Kenya has been founded on Christian values. But Islam is growing and they are demanding their rights.

These two issues in particular are huge sources of controversy. It's a bit difficult for me. I have grown up in a country where abortion has always been legal and where religion is separate from the state always. I think many Kenyans believe that life will not move on if this constitution is voted in. It's life life will end as we know it.

So on sunday, a big "NO" rally was held at a local park in Nairobi. Thousands of people came out to show their support against the constitution. Church leaders lead the rally making speeches and prayers. The rally was closing and as the final prayer was being prayed, an explosion occurred.

People raced around not knowing what had happened but seeing smoke and hearing people yelling. The place turned into chaos. The last I heard, 6 people were counted dead and over 70 were injured.

I don't quite know what to think. It's sad. It's sad that such extreme action is being taken which is costing people their lives. Christ needs to capture our hearts. Christ is the solid rock on which we stand. Even if abortion becomes legal, a person rooted in Christ wouldn't even think about it. Even if Islam is growing and becoming powerful, Christ still dwells in our hearts and that can't change.

Pray for Kenya. Things only seem to be getting more tense as the days go by.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

T'was the day of the World Cup

T'was the day of the World Cup 
and all through the nation 
not a creature was stirring 
as they were tuned into the local TV station 

World Cup fever has hit hard here in Kenya.

As we were walking through a community that is usually buzzing with activity, I noticed an unusual silence. The streets were empty. No ladies outside doing their hair. No shops were open. No kids playing in the dirt. Silence. It was like a ghost town. All you could hear was the commentator of the World Cup.

We were driving in a matatu and any time the vehicle slowed down, you could hear the latest game update on a TV station or radio playing somewhere in the streets. We passed bar after bar with huge crowds of people huddled around the TV screen. People's schedule's have changed. A local school has started classes earlier so they can be home to watch the game. Shops are closing early. Kids are now staying up until 11pm which is when the last game ends. Evenings are now dedicated solely to watching games.

TV sales have increased. People want their own TV to watch every game.

The other night, the power went out just as USA vs. England game was about to start. As it went out, you could hear the entire community go "aww!" Everyone started calling Kenya power immediately. The power was back within minutes.

I have lost many of my friends to the World Cup. If I want to see them, I have to watch the games as well. Or else I would never get to see them. On our compound, come 5pm, is dead. Everyone has retreated into their houses with their eyes glued to the TV screens.

People are humming the tune of K'naan's song 'Wavin Flag' non stop. Suddenly K'naan has become a household name here. Makes me proud of the Somali born Canadian. At least Canada is somewhat represented in the World Cup. Thanks K'naan!

I just can't imagine that this is going to last for a whole month. I don't see anything getting done around here. Things move slow enough as it is around here.

So I've decided to join into the madness. Slowly, I am catching the World Cup fever.

I have yet to pick a team though. Since Canada isn't the best with their feet and isn't represented at the World Cup, I have to choose another team. Kenya would be my next choice but, like Canada, they didn't quite make the cut. At first I thought Brazil as they are a favourite to win but the compassionate side of me wants to pick an underdog. The only thing with picking the underdog is that their journey may not last long so once they are out, I have to switch teams. I thought about supporting South Africa since they are the hosts and it would be oh-so exciting if they could do well and represent their country well. But after their game against Mexico the other day, I decided against it. Part of me really wants to support all the African teams to put Africa back on the map. But after I saw the thick, wavy hair and suave suit of the Argentinian coach, Maradona, I almost thought about being a fan of Argentina. USA would be a good choice since they are my neighbours in Canada but I think they have enough fans already. I think I will have to take the advice of my mother and chose a team based on the colour of their jerseys.

It's an exciting time. I am proud of South Africa. It's the first time the World Cup has been on African soil. It's a great time for Africa. You can sense people's pride here. Africa is finally being profiled in a positive way.

So it's a blessing, even if life has literally come to a halt to tune into the World Cup 2010.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Today we drove up and down and over many hills to get to a school that we wanted to invite to come to an event we are having in a few weeks. It just happened to be the coldest, wettest day of the year here in Mombasa. It was pouring with rain which made the dirt roads turn into mud. With the insane amount of rain, the roads became as slippery as ice. The vehicle we have is great for shuttling many people around but not so great when it comes to 4x4ing in the mud. We got stuck more times than I can count. We didn't have enough power to get up the steep, slippery hills so we fish tailed all the way up.  With only 5 of us in the car (and none of us being car experts or beefy muscle men), we struggled to get our van up and over the countless hills. We had to get out of the van, skate our way through the mud to the back of the vehicle and push as if we were women giving birth. The tires spun round and round spitting mud on our clothes. Once we got the car moving, we would run to catch up to the van. As soon as we all got into the van, we erupted into laughter at the sheer absurdity of what we were doing. It was a hoot! 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Delivery Van

This morning I went to the kitchen to go find some breakfast. Here at Word of Life, we have a chef who cooks us all our meals. Usually by 7:30am the tea is made and the bread, blueband (margarine) and jam is out for us to eat. So this morning I went down around 8:30 to have my breakfast when I got there, I realized that breakfast had yet to be prepared. I looked around for our chef and realized that he had taken the van and gone out early in the morning. I was thinking to myself, "Where would he have gone and not made us breakfast before he left?" So I puttered around the kitchen until the chef returned.

Once he returned, he started preparing the tea. He apologized for being late and proceeded to tell me about his morning.

"Yes, I got a call early this morning from Nyae (our maintenance man) saying that his wife was going into labour. So I had to take her to the hospital but once we reached the hospital there was no doctors or nurses that had arrived yet. Well, the baby didn't want to wait for the doctors to arrive and decided to come out in the van."

"You mean Mrs. Nyae gave birth in the van?"

"Yup, I was there holding the baby as he came out. I even cut the umbilical cord with a razor blade I had."

"You watched it?"

"Why yes, what if something wasn't right with the way the baby was coming out? I had to stand there like this (he crouched down as if he was receiving a football) in order to catch the baby's head."

"Wow, quite the morning."

"Yes. Sorry breakfast was late."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hippo in the pit latrine

I love Kenyan news.

Ok, I love the news that is NOT politics (which is usually what 75% of the news is here). The rest of it is always interesting to read because it is things that just don't happen back in the West. In today's newspaper, they had an entire article on male antelopes and their jealousy when other male antelopes come near their ladies. They can sense when another man is trying to steal their woman. Then a few weeks ago, I read an article about a young boy who decided to chop off his own genitals. When asked why he did it, he answered, "Because it was causing me problems." I guess he was having some sexual affairs that we causing problems in his family so he decided to get rid of the source of the problem. He said after he cut off his genitals, he threw it in the trash.

But today I read the best (I mean most insane story)  I have ever read about in Kenya. Last night as we were watching the news, a story came on about a hippo that had fallen into a pit latrine (outhouse toilet). It was a shock to most people because hippos were very rare in this village. Crowds of people gathered around to see this huge sight in the pit latrine. Today, I read in a follow up story that the villagers couldn't get the hippo out of the pit latrine so the Wildlife Services had to come shoot it. Once it was dead, villagers started to come and cut off chunks off meat from the hippo that was STILL in the pit latrine (as in covered in faeces) and ATE IT! YUCK! Ok, they cooked it first but still. They ate it. They ate hippo meat that had been marinated in human waste. Part of me feels sad as I am sure some people did it because they were desperate but my hunch is that people did it out of pure stupidity. Even if I was starving, I don't think I would eat that meat. But thank Jesus that I have never been starving before.

So there is just a small dose of Kenyan news. I will share more as I find more interesting/insane stories. Thanks for tuning in!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mombasa RAHA!

"Mombasa Raha" is a popular phrase here on the coast. "RAHA" means joy or happiness. It's sort of a phrase to express the excitement and fun of the Mombasa lifestyle. It's a very party central, tourist, paradise type area so there is lots of fun to be had.

And this is where I will be for the next 5-6 months. Enjoying the "Mombasa Raha" or at least trying to. Honestly, I didn't think I would ever come back to Mombasa after living here last year but to my surprise, this is where God has brought me back to. My goal this time around is to truly enjoy the Mombasa RAHA. I want to enjoy myself, have fun, not be too serious yet still work hard for God and for Him to be glorified!

This is the view from my balcony. Yes, it's almost paradise. That is the beautiful Indian Ocean in my backyard. Our compound is right on the beach in one of most popular tourist spots in East Africa. All our neighbours are fancy resorts. No bush whacking for this missionary only swimming lessons.

I am slowly settling in here at Word of Life. There have been some changes since I was here last so I am trying to adjust. I will officially start working next week which gives me a few days to adjust. I am not feeling great so I am spending time just relaxing and laying in bed hoping to get better soon. I decided to go through my suitcases which haven't been aired out for almost 2 months now. I wasn't quite sure what I would find in there but I had suspicions that something was growing in there.

My suspicions were right. As I was pulling out all my clothes, I noticed that part of my bad had turned white. As I got closer and started scratching it, it broke open and I found a big egg sack. Yuck! Luckily, the eggs must have died and dried up so nothing hatched. The mother (whatever insect it was) must have evacuated my bag and left the babies to die. Thank you Jesus! I am not a big fan of bugs although I am building my tolerance for them the more I encounter them here in Kenya. I remember at one time last year, I had a black widow and her egg sack in one of my toilets. I just let her be and made sure she stayed there the whole time I was using the toilet. I figured that if I could still see her, then she didn't have a chance of biting me.

So Mombasa RAHA here I am! Actually, lets make that Jesus RAHA!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hong Kong meets Canada in Kenya!

Meet my good friends the Chan family. We met at the end of 2008 at a conference we both attended. They spent Christmas with us in 2008 and helped us host a big party for all our friends. We quickly became close friends and have been in touch every since. Their 3 children are such a delight to be around.We have spent many afternoons playing intense games of boggle. Levi, their oldest son, always beats us with words that we have never heard before.  They are from Hong Kong and have come to work in Kenya teaching kids english. Considering english is their 2nd language, after cantonese, its pretty impressive that they are teaching children who speak an incredibly difficult language (which they also are learning) to speak english. Did you follow that? In short, they are amazing. They have humbled themselves in order to show people the love of Christ.

I am blessed to know them and be apart of their beautiful family.