Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hakuna Maji Leo

I woke up only to find that there is no water coming out of my pipes. Hakuna maji leo. There is no water today. It's not so surprising. This is Kenya after all although it's rare that our compound has no water. A few weeks ago we had so many guests that the water started running a bit dry but it didn't last too long.

However, as I woke up this morning and my toilet didn't flush it brought back memories of the dreaded mansion that I used to live in in Mombasa. There was only 2 girls, me and my partner, living in this house which was meant to house a large Indian family of 25. There were 8 bathrooms, 7 bedrooms, a large living room, gigantic hallways and a tiny kitchen. As big as it was, it had problems to no end. One of the biggest problems was that it had no water. It had the pipes for the water and taps for water to come out but the particular water line it was attached to didn't have water running through it. We had to buy our water from big trucks. They would come fill up every water tank in the house, every bucket we had and even watered the garden for us. However, this cost us big time. It was about $50 every time we did this and it would last us only about 3 weeks. At some point, certain parts of the house would have water and others wouldn't. You would have to go from toilet to toilet to figure out which one would flush. We would bounce from shower to shower finding water. I remember at one point we had almost run completely out of water and the water truck wasn't suppose to come until morning so I stuck a bucket under every tap trying to drain out any drop of water I could just so I could have a bucket bath before I went to sleep. It was no fun.

Luckily, I had filled a bucket in my room yesterday of water to bathe in so I could at least flush my toilet. I went to the only tap in the compound that is producing water, and filled it again. Everyone is coming out of their rooms to use this tap. I talked to our maintenance guy who said that there was a leakage in one of the apartments which used up all the water. So the water should be flowin' again soon... I hope.

Otherwise life keeps a goin' on. Work is still slow as schools have yet to start up. In about 2 weeks we will be back to our crazy busy schedule. This week we are attending a seminar on conflict resolution in the evenings. It's a very relevant and timely topic for Kenyans. It should be interesting. My weekends are packed with social events which I am loving. I love my friends and the small community I have around me. My health is doing well. I am getting chewed by mosquitoes and I am not sure how to stop it unless I hide under my mosquito net every evening starting at 6pm or drench myself with mosquito repellent. They even chew through my clothes. I am trying with all my might not to itch them. I think I ate something funny this weekend so my tummy is a rumblin'-n- a-tumblin' today (which is not the perfect timing considering our compound has no water). My boss's brother died this weekend so we are mourning with him. It was a sudden death where the cause is not yet confirmed. This comes at a time when the family has been struggling with one of the sisters battling (and I mean fighting HARD) against leukaemia. On top of all this, God has placed an amazing project on my lap. I have been praying for it for quite a while now and He just sort of placed it in front of me last week. I am still praying over it and pursuing it. I will tell you about it when I have all the details.

This weekend, I attended a worship concert at my church. It was an anniversary concert of a local worship band here on the coast that many of my friends are members of. As I sat and listened to people praising my King, I just reflected on how content I am in Him at the moment. I am just so content in my own stillness. "Be still, and know that I am God" is becoming so real to me as I face my days. I am able to enjoy, worship, love, praise, talk, listen to God in my stillness. It doesn't mean that all is peachy keen in my life right now. I definitely have alot of ups and downs and uncertainties facing me at the moment, but I am learning to find peace in Him in the still moments of my days.

The countdown begins for my departure. I guess my mom has been counting down since the day I left home. She informed me that in only 75 more sleeps I will be home. Only 2 and a half more months for me then my feet will be firmly planted back on Canadian soil..well for a little while at least.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Giggles Galore!

We finished our 3 day camp today. It was an incredibly exhausting day but it was filled with giggles giggles giggles galore! My cheeks were hurting pretty bad at one point from smiling so much.

We had split the campers into older and younger kids. The younger kids had a bible lesson and then played games and did crafts. The older kids had a more in depth group discussion time following their bible teaching. However, today we did things a little differently. Yesterday we got the youth to write some of their burning life questions on a piece a paper and hand them in. Today, we addressed each question, had people share their opinions, and then turned to the bible for a final authority. It was such a blast! The questions ranged from "Is it ok to have a girlfriend?" to "Is sex ok?" to "Should we watch action movies?" to "Why are you guys here doing this camp for us?" to "Did Judas really hang himself?"
It was awesome being able to listen to them and their views and ideas on these subjects. These are pressing issues in their cultures and lives right now and they need guidance. So we were able to tell them what we know to be true in the bible plus share in many laughs.

This is Sammy, one of the organizers of this camp

During break time, I was sitting on a log with a friend of mine who started chatting with some of the kids. They got such a kick out of what he was saying that we drew a big crowd around us. The kids burst into laughter at every comment he made. They giggled until their tummies hurt. I tried to take some pictures of these beautiful, giggly faces. 

This is the only picture of me that I got over the past two days and it was a complete fluke. I had taken a picture of a little kid and turned the camera to face him so he could see himself. I must have pressed the button and took a picture of myself. So this is what half my face looks like these days! 

The camp was a blast although near the end of the day I was fading big time. I was so exhausted and hungry! We didn't end up eating lunch till around 3ish. My tummy was a grumblin'. Tomorrow is a public holiday. It's the promulgation day for the constitution. Tomorrow it is officially signed over to be Kenya's constitution. Again, security is the number one priority tomorrow especially in Nairobi as the have shut down streets for two days and searched the park which it will be held for any suspicious items. They will also be doing body scanning and having metal detectors for anyone who wants to be apart of the ceremony. There are presidents from other nations coming to join the occasion. It will be a momentous day for Kenya! 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Viazi for 10 bob

Since the camps that we had originally planned for here at Word of Life this month have flopped, we have joined in to help out at another day camp that another organization called ECHO CHRIST is running. It's funny because ECHO CHRIST is made up of our counsellors. We are the ones who have trained them and equipped them over the past few years. They run the same program as we do and have the same tactics that we use. It's kind of neat to see how your own people have created their own ministries at their own initiative. They have partnered with Compassion International to hold a camp in one of the poorer parts of town. Today was the second day of camp and it was a blast. I just love these kiddies. Kids are so easy to love on and entertain. 

I watched from above at our staff meeting as the kids recited the Lord's prayer while closing their eyes. Too cute! 

 We played some sort of hand clappy game with the girls during break time.

Here is Mr. Joshua hanging out with kids being little gangstas! 

I think the best part of my day was being able to have a full conversation in swahili with a 3-year-old girl named Maria. She approached me and said, "nina pesa (I have money)". So we began to talk about the money she was clenching in her fist all day. I asked how much it was and she said that it was 10KES which is about 15cents. I asked what she was going to do with the money, she answered 'Nataka viazi (I want viazi)." Viazi  is a local snack which is basically pieces of potato dipped in a yummy batter then deep fried. Her plan was to go buy viazi  after camp finished. I saw her leave with the 10 bob still clenched in her tiny hands. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Coconut beans

Sunday after church, I went back to my friend's place and we decided to take on the task of cooking coconut beans. Now, we make everything from scratch here. You can buy coconut and coconut milk in the supermarkets but it is much cheaper (and time consuming) doing it yourself. We arrived home. I started making grilled cheese sandwiches for a quick lunch and at the same time we started shredding the coconut. Note that we started cook lunch and dinner at the same time! 

I am not so sure what this device is called but it is common here on the coast. Coconut is in great supply so there is lots of local foods made with it. However, I find the method of getting the coconut a pain in the butt. So we sit on this little folding, wooden chair (that should be only meant for children cause it is so small), then we grind the coconut on the end which has a knife-like thingy made of wood, and after you grind out all the coconut, you start rinsing and squeezing out the milk. Now I am not going to fool you here and say that I did this process myself. In fact, I did it for only about 2 minutes and after cutting myself and smelling my burnt grilled cheese, I stopped and let my friend finish the task. 

My grilled cheese was finished within a matter of minutes but we didn't end up eating our coconut beans and rice until about 9pm. I just kept thinking about me living in the village one day and having to make this since it is the only food readily available. Or what if I marry a Kenyan man who must eat this food every day, how will I survive?? God give me grace!

Although, I must say, the coconut beans were delicious.

The burden of crossing the ferry...

Word of Life is located south of the city of Mombasa. It is known as South Coast where tourists enjoy our sandy beaches and lavish resorts. Mombasa city is actually an island therefore we must cross a tiny channel from South Coast to get to the city. There are about 3 or 4 ferries that shuttle foot passengers and vehicles back and forth. It is a short ride especially with the new ferries that just arrived a few months ago. HOWEVER, there are endless problems concerning these ferries:

- they break down often and are out of service more than when they are in service.
- one of them has a ramp that doesn't actually go up. It just hangs down in the water. Another one has a ramp that is lop sided.
- there is no order in keep passengers away from the vehicles. Their method of filling the ferry involves putting as many cars and people on board per trip. This means that often you have people's bodies squeezed up against your windows. 
- the off loading and on loading process takes 3 times longer than the actual trip
- because of the tide, many times the ramp is too steep for cars to get on or off and their bumpers get scraped badly or even stuck. 
- during rush hour, you can sit in a line up for 2+ hours before even reaching the toll booth. 
- cars start driving off the ferry even before it docks completely
- the ramp so the ferry is quite steep and not wide enough for two ferries so often half the ramp is in the water

So yesterday I was returning back to Word of Life and entered into the foot passenger area. I happened to get there just as the gates were closing so I had to wait for the next ferry. The next ferry arrived and unloaded but didn't load any cars or passengers. Then the second ferry arrived beside the other ferry and unloaded but didn't load up again. Over the speaker we were told they were shutting down all ferries temporarily. On the other side, I could see some boats and divers working on something right in front of the ramp. A big crowd was looking to see what had happened but we couldn't see what was going on on our side. The crowd started to grow bigger and bigger. It was getting hotter and more crowded. Every one started getting a bit antsy and tired of standing. An hour passed and one of the ferries left our side, went to the other side and began to load  passengers. Suddenly the crowd started to make noise angry that we weren't being let out. They started shouting, "Open the gates! Let us out!"People started pushing and jumping around. My heart started to race. I know Kenyans. THey have a lot of zeal and like to make a lot of noise. They also have a mob mentality of sorts that never really leads to good things. So I started getting quite nervous as people continued shouting and wrestling with the gates. Police just stood by and watched. I prayed. Boy did I ever pray. I happen to be right near the opening gate with probably about 1000 passengers behind me. If they started pushing, I would probably get trampled big time. Then the ferry people opened the gates and let us get onto the ferry. I kept on my toes as people were pushing and running towards the gates. It was a big game of violent bumper cars. I was pushed around and tripped several times but as I walked toward the ferry, the crowd calmed and we boarded. There must have been 1000+ people on that ferry.

As we got to the other side, we realized that a big truck carrying sand had lost control of his brakes and rolled right into the water. The Kenyan Navy was there trying to remove it. Luckily no one was hurt but the truck was blocking half of the ramp so only one ferry could dock at a time. The picture below shows the ferry going from south coast over to Mombasa. The truck plunged into the water right where this ferry is. 

The truck has yet to be removed up to now. It's been 3 days. I don't think Kenya has the resources to remove it. It's proved to be a tricky task. I think they tried to pull it out with a tow truck but it didn't work. Now they are trying to move it to the side or something. Whatever they are doing, it is creating so much havoc and jam with the ferries. Our director spent 5 hours trying to cross the ferry last night. It was so crazy.

So this is Kenya for you. You never know what crazy thing will happen. Just gotta trust God that His mighty hand is over you protecting you!

ACK Cathedral

Just wanted to show you where I fellowship most Sundays. It is a large Anglican Church in the middle of town. It is actually mistaken for a mosque most times. Maybe they built it that way because most of the buildings in the area are very arabic style housing. I don't know though. It is an Anglican Church which is interesting. I would never really consider going to an Anglican Church in Canada as I grew up in non-denominationl/pentecostal churches. However, here in Kenya an Anglican Church service looks very similar to a Baptist church in Canada. A pentecostal church in Kenya is indescribable and I can't even begin to tell you about the churches that have created their own denominations many of them focusing on healing, deliverance, prosperity, and other miracles. So this Anglican Church is a happy medium for me. I have struggled a bit with the more 'structured' aspect of the church but nonetheless it is a great church which preaches the Word of God to good people.

But not to deceive you, I don't attend the main service in the beautiful church pictured above. We have a teens service in this little shaded area. It's wonderful to have youth leading the service, praise and worship and even preaching. We also run a lot of our Word of Life programs in this little outdoor church. It's a great meeting place although last sunday it started to rain and got a bit windy so we all got a  little wet. 

I am thankful that I have found a church that I feel comfortable in, that feeds me, and I can feel like I have a community around me!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Lately, there has been this big pack of baboons strolling around our compound and they like hanging out right on the path to my room. Yesterday, I came home only to find them right in my way. I started trying to reason with them asking them to please move. Then I tried waving my hands and shooing them away. I ended up resorting to throwing things at them.

But they wouldn't budge. Not even a little flinch. 

They are scary creatures. I know they can be quite vicious. So I sat and I waited till they moved.

I think this is the mama or at least one of the mamas. I saw many lady baboons and only one male so I am thinking that he is a polygamist. 

This is the papa baboon. He's freaky. I had images of him attacking me and scratching my face off if I came to close to him. So I kept my distance and respected his personal body bubble. Eventually they did move and I was able to get back to my room.

Likoni Camp of endless obstacles

On friday and saturday we held day camps in a place called Likoni. Likoni is a difficult area. It's a poverty-stricken area where drugs and prostitution reign. It has a lot of traffic going through it as it is where the ferry docks to take people across to Mombasa. It is a very dangerous area. I have missionary friends who have been robbed, mugged, threatened many times just for living in the area. Let's just say it's not the easiest area to be in. 

We had no end of struggles facilitating this camp. As I mentioned in a previous post, the space that we had booked (and paid for) was given away to another group who came in with a bigger cheque. We started setting up two days before the camp when we were told that we could no longer use the space. So we sat and brainstormed on what to do. Across the street was a guesthouse that has a beautiful hall that would be perfect for our camp. So we went to check it out. We looked around and thought it was perfect. As we went to book it for the two days, they said, "Oops sorry it is already booked for these days." Thanks, alot. We resorted to pitching a tent on another property just hoping that it wouldn't rain. 

The night before camp, we got a phone call from the guesthouse saying that it had suddenly become available! That was a miracle! 

We arrived the next morning to set all our stuff up thanking God for opening up this hall for us to use since it was cold and rainy. Our camp was to start at 9am. However, 10am came around then 11am then 11:30am and still NO campers. Huh? Didn't they know that we were giving a FREE camp with FREE lunch???? We weren't responsible for marketing the camp. We had partnered with a local pastor to do that for us. As the pastor was making phone calls we realized a few things: 1.) Kids were still in school (that would make it hard for them to come) 2.) It wasn't explained well enough who Word of Life was so many people thought we were a new church trying to get members and pastors were advising their youth NOT to come. 3.) They thought they had to pay for our FREE camp. 4.) They wouldn't leave their houses since it was raining. 

After a few phone calls, we finally started our camp at 11:30am with 8 campers. The day turned out surprisingly well. We had few more arrive in the afternoon when we played touch rugby.

We debated whether or not to even continue the camp on Saturday since we were using so many resources. But by faith we continued on and to our surprise, we had 45 campers come on saturday! We had a full day of bible teaching, group discussions, games, music, dancing, food and, to top it off, we had a great bonfire in the evening where we drank chai, sang songs and listened to the Word of God. So after all the obstacles and many temptations to pull our hair out, it all worked out well. 

Alice, one of our counsellors, was helping a camper set up for a new game where we make an elevator of sorts with our ears and pull candy to our mouth. 

Two of my favs: Senior and Joshua. They are apart of my team here at Word of Life. Joshua is full of energy and is a great MC and Senior is our music and sound guy. They are two very talented dudes. 

We always have a session for group discussions where we discuss what we have learned that day. I sat in on one group discussion and loved listening to their thoughts, ideas, personal views, and what they had learnt. We had one character who didn't appreciate women at all and I couldn't help but giggling with everything he said. He pretty much blamed women for all the earth's problems saying, "The Eve's of this generation are bringing the Adam's down." The thing I loved about him was that he was passionate about God and doing what was right. I know his ideas concerning women will soften as he seeks God more. 

These were our youngest campers who presented a few songs for us. It was a hoot!

"And we know that ALL things work together for GOOD to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fav moment of my day

I know this picture is terrible. I took it on my new phone that has a small camera in it that doesn't take the greatest pics but is handy when you don't have a camera with you. Anyways, this was my favourite moment of the day. We are having a two day camp off our Word of Life property this weekend. Today we went to go start setting up for the camp. When we arrived, we found out that they had booked over us. I guess they got a better deal (ie more money) and decided that we weren't as important. So we were shafted to pic another piece of the property to hold our camp. Trust me, it took all that we had not to open our mouths or throw up our fists to these people. But all things work for the good right?

Anyways, just as we were leaving to go home, we called over some local boys playing football. We had seen them yesterday and decided to bring them a new soccer ball since theirs was flat and worn out completely. My boss, Peter (standing in the picture), is really great at public speaking and capturing people's attention. So all the boys had their eyes glued on him as he did a 'mini crusade'. He got them all excited and encouraged them to keep going to school and studying. Most of them were Muslims, so he shared a little Jesus with them. In the end, he called up the coach of the team, who was a small boy with some sort of disability, and handed him the new soccer ball. The boys went crazy and got all excited. Then the coach proudly came over and shook our hands to seal the deal as if we had just done business with him. 

It was the perfect moment to end our not so perfect day. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


"I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth"
Genesis 9:13

Last week was a huge victory for Kenya. As many of you know, Kenya had a referendum to vote on the new constitution. Wednesday was the big day when Kenyans hit the polling stations to cast their votes. I woke up not knowing what to expect. Everyone had their guard up especially after the post-election violence in 07/08. Missionary friends were telling me to stock up on food and phone credit and to make sure I am registered with my embassy. However, as I woke up that morning all was calm. I decided to go to town to visit some friends (the president declared it a public holiday so people could vote). I was amazed at the peaceful atmosphere everywhere I went. You wouldn't have known anything was happening. People just went on with their daily affairs and not much was being talked about concerning the voting. I was amazed. As the voting closed in the evening and the results were being tallied live on TV, everything was still at peace. People sat and watched all night long. The "YES" was quickly gaining a lead over "NO". By the afternoon the following day, YES declared victory. 

There was no big parties or celebrations. It felt like a normal day. The NO team conceded defeat and declaring that Kenyans have made their decision as to what they believe is best for their country. Leaders of both sides stayed calm, cool and collected encouraging their citizens to do the same. 

It was surreal. I couldn't believe the 'peace that surpasses all understanding' in this country. It was a great victory for Kenyans. They proved their earnest desire for a better Kenya. They allowed their hearts to be loving and considerate of others. And God was glorified in mighty ways. 

I was walking home yesterday and saw this amazing rainbow that stretched across the sky. It made me thank God for His covenant of peace (Is 54:10) with us. Amazing! 

Goodies from home!

I got a package today!!! I am always excited to receive anything from home whether it's a letter, a postcard, or a package with some goodies. It always makes my day. Today I went to the post office to pick up a package from a dear friend of mine in North Vancouver. I opened it and found a life supply of starbucks! I have had quite a few people send me starbucks coffee and it is always at the right timing. This morning, I finished my last one and then got some more in the mail this afternoon. To be honest, I am so tired of drinking Kenyan chai and LOVE having a nice cup of starbucks instant coffee in the morning. It is the best instant coffee that I have had.

The card is designed by a friend of mine who I used to have a bible study. It reminds of the beautiful city of Vancouver. Inside was an a great letter testifying God's greatness. The whole package was such a blessing! Thanks Linda!

Um, no thanks

The other night my friends decided they wanted to eat fish for supper. I have never been a super fan of fish. And after I saw what they decided to eat, I don't think I will be eating fish again. Ok, I am exaggerating. But we spent about 50cents on these three little fish. It included the bones, the guts, and the eyeballs. Not a bad deal. I didn't taste it. I don't think I will ever taste it either. Um, No thanks.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A call for peace

Tomorrow is the big day when Kenyans will go to the polling stations to vote on the new constitution. I am excited the day is finally here. This constitution has been a hot topic since I arrived in Kenya in January. I am excited to witness Kenya's history in the making but I am anxious to see what happens. I have been reading fellow missionaries blogs and some of them are gearing up for the worst. After what happened in 07/08 post election violence, people are taking extra precautions this time. Many of them are registering with their embassy, stocking their houses with food, topping up with phone credit, filling their cars with gas, etc. It's good to be prepared. Even today, I went to the store and stocked up on a few things just incase I get stranded in the compound for a few days. 
However, the country seems quite peaceful. I don't think anyone wants to see the same thing that happened a few years ago which left over 1000 people dead. The country has mobilized 70,000 police officers around the country. They have recognized hotspots where violence could occur and has them under control. They even have police helicopters that will circle the country looking for any signs of violence. Leaders in business, church, and the state are all urging citizens to keep peace. It's looking good so far. 
On sunday, our pastor was speaking on loving one another. It was a very timely service as this time we are called to love one another. This is not a test of whether to vote YES or NO, it is a test to love one another unconditionally. So my prayer is that LOVE would reign in Kenyans hearts as they vote tomorrow. May they stand firm on Christ, not on their politicians. 

NAIROBI, Kenya — Leaders in Kenya are calling on the country to carry out a peaceful referendum.
Wednesday's vote is the first national ballot since postelection violence in 2007-08 left more than 1,000 people dead.
Kenyans are voting on whether to accept or reject a new constitution that would reduce the powers of the presidency. But the draft also has raised emotions over land rights, abortion and Muslim family courts.
Police officials said Tuesday they are better prepared to deal with any post-vote violence than during the 2007-08 violence.
President Mwai Kibaki asked his countrymen Tuesday to embrace one another as brothers and sisters after the vote.
Politicians and analysts predict that the referendum will be largely peaceful.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Word of life helicopter pad

Yesterday we were sitting in our hall waiting to go out swimming when we hear this loud helicopter circling above us. There is a landing strip just down the road from us so it's pretty normal to hear planes and helicopters around. But yesterday the noise just got louder and louder. All of a sudden the trees started blowing back and forth viciously and the next thing we new, there was a helicopter in the back yard. I guess it's strange as no one was expecting it and I am wondering why our back yard and not an actual landing pad. Someone explained to me that it happens on occasion when celebrities or maybe government leaders want to be sneaky and get away with no one knowing. There are a couple beautiful cottages right beside us that people rent out. We sat there waiting to see who got out. All we saw was luggage being unloaded and a kenyan, who we presumed was the pilot, step off the aircraft. It's a strange sight in our back yard but a little bit of excitement. It has landed here a couple times today and is parked in the back yard as I am typing this. Strange. 

I went to the chemist (pharmacy) yesterday to get some pain killers. I asked for the kind that I like and the lady gave me a box of 20 pills and she told me it was 150KES. I have learned that in most places, you don't need to buy the whole box, you can just buy as many pills as you want. So if you only want 10 pills, they will just take out 10 and give them to you. But as I was doing the math in my head, something didn't add up. One pill is 5KES and if there are 20 in a box then that should only total 100KES so why is she charging me 150KES? So I asked her and she told me, "Yes, but we have to charge you for the box." "You mean I have to pay 50KES just for the box? Can you just take the box off for me?" "Yes, I can do that." So she pulled out the pills, put them in a little enveloped, and threw the 50KES box in the trash. Strange. At least I was on top of things and realized I would have been cheated.