Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hours in the ICU

It's been 2 weeks since I have arrived back in Canada. I am sorry I have failed to blog but I guess Canadian life just isn't as interesting as everyday life in Canada. I could talk about the great Kraft Dinner I made the other night or the way the malls have all their christmas decorations out now. But it seems so boring.

I am in Kelowna right now where my Deda has been in the ICU for the past month. I sort of felt that I needed to come spend some time with him and my grandmother. Its a great opportunity since I am not held down with a job or anything right now. Plus I am enjoying hanging out with my brother again who lives and goes to school here. Although, we are not the chattiest brother and sister. For the past hour, we have been sitting silently in the living room with our eyes glued to our computers. That's just what our relationship is like I guess. God didn't give me a chatty sister who I could share clothes and make-up with. Instead He blessed me with a mellow brother who is super responsible and takes very good care of me but who doesn't really like to talk a lot.

I have been spending about 4 hours a day at the hospital with Deda. He is still in very critical condition. He is in one of those units that have a bajillion machines that hook up to every part of his body and beep all day long. He has his very own nurse who stares at him from their desk and is right there when he needs him or her. It's a very high-tech, exclusive area of the hospital.

It's been quite enjoyable hanging out with Deda. He is not really able to talk but just mumble/whisper so no one can really understand him. But he likes to point at things and make big facial expressions and he can be quite funny. We just found out today that he can have internet in his room so we are going to try to see if he can watch the Grey Cup tomorrow on the computer. He loves football.

The transition back to Canada has not been nearly as difficult as it has been in the past. Jet lag was awful. It took almost a week and a half to stop getting tired at 5pm and waking up at 4am. But otherwise I haven't gotten a big dose of culture shock or have any illnesses that I carried back with me. I am living simply and trying to get back involved in the community. Canada just doesn't have the same sense of community and interdependence that Kenya does. I do miss Kenya ALOT but I am determined to enjoy the moments I have here in Canada. I know that I will be back in Kenya in just a few short months.

I am learning to be prayerful in my everyday steps. I have never before spoken to God so much and so frequently through out my days. I will sit and silently pray to Him whatever is on my heart or mind at the moment. I ask Him to go ahead of all my steps whether I am entering the hospital doors or waking up in the morning or just simply reading my books. I want God to be apart of every detail of my life right now. I am leaning on Him to keep my spirits high and to diminish all feelings of loneliness and sadness. I keep checking in with Him and asking, "Ok, is this missionary life that I live REALLY what you want me to be doing?" I see all my friends and the people around me who are graduating from universities, getting good jobs, saving up for their pensions, getting married, having babies, paying mortgages and investing in stuff. And where is my life heading? To the village with no water or electricity or security. No financial stability or investments. I keep thinking about these things. I know they are not things that we should really strive for or base our decisions on but we must be wise and plan carefully. But the more I seek God, He keeps reassuring me that He has good plans for me. He will provide all that I need. He has given me a passion and He wants me to pursue it. I think He would rather have someone who finds their passion and lights the world on fire for Him than someone who just settles for anything that will pay the bills for the rest of their lives.

As you can see, my thoughts go back and forth and are a bit mumble jumbled at the moment but hence why I am seeking God more than ever. When there is uncertainty in my life, I come closer to Him and listen more carefully to where He is leading me. It almost makes me crave being more uncertain in my life so that I would drawer nearer to my God.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Nikole's favourite things

Yesterday I watched Oprah for the first time in years.  When I was in high school, I used to love to come home, sit on the couch with a cup of tea and watch Oprah. In the past years, I have gotten over my love for her. I have to admit that I am a bit disappointed with the message she preaches these days and the ultra-spiritual new-age tone to all of her shows. The only time I love watching is when I hear stories of Africa or other parts of the world.

But yesterday was her infamous, 'Oprah's favourite things show.' The show that pretty much every devout Oprah follower (and even many people who could care less who she is) wishes that one day they will be apart of. It's the show where she picks her favourite things and gives them away to her audience. Sweaters that cost $500 or authentic diamond watches that could pay the mortgage of your house. Ok, there were some cool things. Yesterday she gave away a baking pan that was designed so that everything you baked in it had an edge. Don't you love the edges? Like when a nice pan of brownies are made, I love the crunchie, gooey edges. Or the edges of lasagne where the cheese burns and gets all crsipy. Now there is a pan that is shaped a certain way (sort of like a snake) so that every piece has an edge. That was pretty cool. But she also gave away a shiny purse and shoes from some hot designer and some crazy hair products that are made especially for african hair. And to top all things off, everyone got a cruise on the biggest, bestest cruise boat in the entire world. It was pretty cool.

After just returning from Kenya where consummerism involves the mere basics to life (if that is even possible), naturally I was a bit repulsed. However, it prompted me to think of my own favourite things that I would love to be able to share/give to you like Oprah gives her audience.

Some of my fav things:

-Jesus! (this is #1)
-a good cup of coffee
-laughing until your belly hurts or your cheeks ache
-playing crib
-my family
-roasted maize
-listening to kids sing in swahili
-african sunsets
-my dog
-lululemon pants (this was one of Oprah's yesterday but I started wearing them in gr.9
-my bible
-fresh fruit and hanging with the ladies who sell the fresh fruit
-loving friends
-sukuma wiki (kale)
-the rehma boys
-the sunshine (which Castlegar doesn't seem to see much of these days)
-worshipping at my church with no walls in mombasa
-my pretty computer
-a good book
-getting mail
-riding on motorcycles through the village
-afternoon naps followed by tea
-hanging out with my one true Love, Best Friend, Provider, Father, Maker, Comforter, King, Hope!

Ok, those are just a few of my fav things. Maybe next year I will have another one like Oprah.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Airport arrival

Leave it to my mom to snap every second of my arrival in the airport. 

My dad reaching over the bars to give me a hug. I pushed my little cart away and gave him a hug though.

A smile after surviving the 24hour+ journey. I won't lie and say that it was enjoyable. It wasn't. There were definitely some highlights and definitely some bumps but I made it and my feet are happy to be on the ground again.

Daddy-daughter hug. No tears this time. I think after being able to see each other on a regular basis on Skype made things easier.

I didn't know that they had video screens watching you as you come around the corner so that your loved ones can see when you will come out of the gate. So my parents waited anxiously watching this video screen till I finally arrived.

Mommy and me. 

It is nice to be back in Castlegar. I have unpacked and am getting over jet lag. Although I was awake at 3am this morning for a little while. My bags are unpacked and I have settled back into my room. I am drinking 2 cups of delicious coffee a day and eating lots of tasty foods. I am now on the hunt for a job. I went to go print off my resume yesterday and found out our printer doesn't have ink in it. I was stuck. This would have been a lot easier in Kenya as there are cyber cafes everywhere that you could just go and print something off for really cheap. But there is not one cyber in Castlegar. So I struggled to think of what to do. Dad said he would print some copies off for me at work today so I will be able to start handing them out within the next couple days. 

Anyways must get ready to see a friend now! 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Welcome Back Nikole!

Yes I am home! I endured the 19 hours of flying high in the sky and have landed safely in Vancouver. God's hand was upon my whole trip. As the plane was taking off in Nairobi, I was reading Psalm 68 where I found this verse, "Ascribe strength to God; His excellency is over Israel, and His strength is in the clouds" (vs.34) 

So the plane ascended into the clouds, I thanked Him for His strength in the clouds. 

I landed in Amsterdam only to meet up with another missionary couple who were on the same flight. We got chatting and they invited me into some fancy shmancy lounge with them where I got a nice chair to relax in, free delicious food, free internet, and a chance to hang out with a cool couple. It was such a blessing. The flight out of Amsterdam was just wonderful. So smooth, calm, and uneventful. 

I landed in Vancouver thanking God for the amazing journey. I didn't like all of it but He brought me through it. I walked around the corner and was greeted by my parents and grandmother. It wasn't the tearful reunion that I am used to (which I think has to do with how much we used skype this year) but it was wonderful to be in their arms again. 

We headed to my Uncle and Auntie's house stopping at A&W for a big, juicy burger. When we arrived there, I found this big "Welcome Back Nikole" sign on the table. My precious cousins had made it for me. Since they weren't here, they drew me some nice pictures and some directions around the house. It was precious!

But it is now almost 5:30 am. I have been up since 4am. Jet lag has gotten the best of me. I was so exhausted last night so I was convinced I would sleep but I guess my body had other plans. 

Anyways, thanks to those of you who were praying! God is so good! 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The final minutes.

I am sitting in the Nairobi airport after some rather tearful (ok extremely tearful!) goodbyes.

Now I feel at peace and am ready to get on the plane.

I didn't sleep very well last night. I knew I had to get up early this morning so I kept checking the clock every hour or so. I also had so much running through my head. So I was wide awake at 4am this morning.

I got to their airport super early. We crossed the city in less than 20 minutes when it would usually take 45mins. I got to the airport only to find that my bags were too heavy. I am so used to being able to take 2 bags that are about 23kgs. However, I get to the check-in both and the lady tells me that I am only allowed 30kgs in total. (Maybe it is a Kenya Airways rule since this is the first time I have flown with them) Yesterday, I actually purged some items and sent them to Mombasa to be kept for me when I return so I thought that my bags were pretty light.

So after the lady told me that my bags were too heavy, I asked her, "So what do I have to do?"

She just sort of looked at me like it was not her problem. The fact is that she really didn't know what I was suppose to do.

Ah yes, this is still Kenya.

She then says that I have to go to another booth to buy for extra luggage. She said it depends on my final destination. I told her I was going to Canada. Then she said she didn't know. Then she came up with a solution.

'Why don't you just take out about 3kgs and put it in your carry on luggage?'

I thought to myself 'But my bags are about 6kgs over the weight?'

So I opened my bags right there and took out a couple of my bibles (which are the heaviest things in my bags) and stuffed them into my backpack. However, it wasn't 3kgs. It was maybe only 2 or less. She looked at me and said, 'Ah yes, thats ok.'

If this was Canada, that would never fly. I just wondered how many other bags were overweight or how many other things are being looked over. But I am choosing not to think of those things and trust in my God. He knows what is on and not on my plane. He knows what is going to happen. So why must I worry???

My frustration with Kenyan systems hit an all time high yesterday when I went to immigration and told me that my work permit had STILL not been completed even though it had been 5 months since I applied and they told me it would be finished last week. I was so upset. I pushed my way through to some of the top people. The issue was that it had been approved but not signed. The lady who was suppose to sign it was sitting in her office with the permit right in front of her yet she wouldn't sign it. I don't know why. She was just being difficult. Maybe she was looking for a bribe. So I pushed and begged and screamed at the people to give me my permit and finally it got done. I started to feel bad thinking I went to far but I just kept reminding myself that I was fighting for my rights. It was not my fault that it has taken so long to get it. It is nothing I have done so why should I have to suffer because of someone's laziness????

I stayed in immigration for 2 hours even after they had officially closed. The lady who stamped my passport said I was the luckiest person to get this done. I didn't think I was lucky. A lucky person would have had no problems. I just decided to stand up for myself for once.

So I am leaving Kenya with a 3 year work permit (am only allowed to work as a missionary) with the ability to enter the country as many times as I want without paying anything. This is a huge blessing!!

Alright, I must get going. Looking forward to sitting near the window and flying over Africa! Hope I can see some great landscapes!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

1 more sleep in Kenya

It's almost that time. I am in my final hours here in Kenya. In less than 24hours I will be on a plane back to Canada.

It's bittersweet. I can't describe how I am feeling. I go back and forth between being sad to leave and excited to get home.

I am in Word of Life Kabete. I am actually staying in the room across from the one that I stayed in my first night in Kenya. I woke up this morning and reflected on the last 11 months and all that has happened. I thanked God for the numerous things He has taught me, the good and bad times I have gone through and learned so much from, and for the amazing people I have been blessed to encounter. I reflected on the ministry and the lives I have seen changed because of Christ. I recounted the many laughs and cries that I have had. I am so grateful for the the ways that He has transformed me to become more like Him.

I don't feel like I will be in Canada for too long. I can't stay away from here too long. I am still praying about the path that God is leading me down right now. I am excited for the many dreams and visions He has given me for my future.  My heart beats harder and faster to see Him being glorified.

I am not sure what is waiting for me at home. My mother says that my room is a mess and my closet has no clothes. I know that it is beginning to snow and the Christmas season is starting up. I hope to meet my grandfather in the hospital. I got news today that he has taken a turn for the worst and no one knows what is going to happen. I pray I can see him again. My brother has moved out so it will be the first time I will be at home and he will not be there. I have missed a whole year of tv shows, movies, and music so I will be very much behind. I will have to learn to speak with a canadian accent again. My Kenyan one is embarrassing.

With all these thoughts in my head, I have purposed to enjoy my last day in Kenya. I drank fresh milk from the cow this morning. I am sitting listening to the birdies sing sweet melodies to me. And I am letting my face soak in the warm sun one last time.

I will be back in Castlegar on Sunday so feel free to pass by or call the house if you wish.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The final days

Only 3 more sleeps and I will be on the plane back to Canada. As the days go by, I am getting more sad to leave yet more excited to get home. I am excited for seeing my precious family and friends. I am excited for NICE things like toilets that actually flush and stoves that you don't have to light with a match. I am excited for nice customer service and sweet coffee shops. I am looking forward to sane driving and police that are not corrupt. Slowly my heart is getting excited to come home.

Although I am going to miss so much here. I just love Kenya. And now I am so used to life here that I often don't remember how things are back home. I am sure I will get confused a few times when I get home. Simple things like waiting in line, saying 'please' and 'thank you' or sitting at a table in a restaurant with just the people you came with and not other people who need a seat. It's funny things like these that I will have to adjust back to. So please be patient with me.

I have been traveling this past week. I left Mombasa after saying goodbye to my co-workers and good friends. I traveled to Nairobi and then on to Eldoret the next day to visit the children at the children's home. As I crawled out of the van, they all came rushing to give me big hugs. They are getting taller and more filled out so now they give these big, hearty hugs. It makes anyone feel like the most loved person in the world. They updated me about life at the home. They just couldn't stop chatting my ear off about all that has happened while I was gone and, of course, they had endless questions about my work, where I have been, my ministry, my family, and pretty much everything else.

I spent about 4 days in Eldoret relaxing, reflecting, and just allowing myself to be loved on by such amazing people. I spent my mornings with the little kids on the property. Many of them did not exist when I came 5 years ago. I had the privileged of witnessing one of the little boys taking his first steps on Christmas in 2005. Now, we play UNO and run around in the field and then lay in the grass talking together. It was so precious.

I attended the opening of another children's home It was a long day with numerous speeches but I enjoyed seeing the community come together to support these orphaned children. It also gave me some ideas about my children's home (I mean the one I have dreamed about having since I was a little girl.)

I left Eldoret on Sunday and came back to Nairobi to catch up with old friends, work on my work visa and do some last minute shopping. I traveled to Kijabe yesterday and had a wonderful time with my hospital friends.

So that's what is happening. I hope to blog at least one more time before I leave. If not, I will arrive in Canada on friday evening then head to kelowna to see my brother and grandfather (who is still in the hospital but is doing much better!) then will be back in Castlegar on Sunday! So feel free to contact me. Can't wait to see all of you (or hear your voices if you don't live around me)!