Thursday, December 30, 2010

birthdays, fun church services, singing, singing, and more singing

Ok more videos!

This first video is my 22nd birthday. I remember being quite sad in the morning missin' my peeps back home but my classmates very quickly made me feel loved abundantly. My roommate made me a cake and we had a big party. However, as you will see, their version of 'Happy Birthday' is much...rowdier...than ours.

We went to a school just down the road to speak to them however just as we got there the rain came pouring down. The roof was tin so you couldn't hear the person next to you with the rain pelting down on the tin roof. So to kill time we sang. It was a blast!

We travelled to a slum on the other side of the city to attend one of their sunday services. The slum was a whole bunch of broken down cement buildings with extremely dusty and dirty paths seperating them. Then, all of a sudden, you see this bright blue tin church right in the middle of it. It was quite a lively church. We squished in like sardines in a can as beads of sweat dripped down our faces. 

This was one of the most popular (and one of my fav) songs in Kenya this year. We organized a big youth seminar but before the sessions we had to do a little worship session with Senior, our talented musician. 

When you pretty much spend every hour of everyday with the same people for 4 months, you grow really close to one another. This video I took while we went on a weekend camping trip. We all got on this rickety wharf (which looked like it would cave in at any moment) that was perched above a lake that was known for its dangerous hippos and we had a little impromptu singing session. These moments would happen all the time. They were so precious.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

my momma

I was in my room today when I heard someone shoveling my driveway. I knew that my brother was still sleeping and my father has an injury so neither of them would be doing it. I peeped out of my window only to find my momma out there. My momma is a pretty handy woman so it's not surprising that she was out there but I thought she had gone to the gym.

She had already gone to the gym and decided to shovel the drive her gym clothes.

one of the many reasons why I adore my mother...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Kid's Camps

One of Word of Life's biggest ministries is youth camps. Every holiday season they hold numerous weeks of camps where kids come, learn about Jesus, and just play! Camps are extremely exhausting for those running them but incredibly rewarding. One of my favourite camps is when we actually leave the property and go to kids who would not be able to attend our camps because they could not afford it. We go to the 'slums' and 'ghettos' of Kenya and we meet the greatest characters. These kids have probably seen and experienced more than we ever will in their young age so it is so amazing to treat them to a fun day. Here are just a few of my fav moments of camps this year. 

Kids love to dance. We bring along the latest gospel music and have great DJ's that play the kid's favourite hits. Mini dance sessions are a must.

Kids in the ghetto dance much differently (a little on the provocative side) than those in the village. We saw some..uh..interesting moves. But it's all the know. They see it in their older siblings and the latest, coolest celebs. 

A dear friend Chao is a talented dude. He has an album and has played this song numerous times at camps to the point where all the kids know the words. So cool. 

World Cup Fever hit Kenya hard. I am pretty sure that every kid, whether they could even talk or not, knew all the words to K'naan's "wavin flag" and Shakira's "this time for africa". 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Yesterday, after another tough day, I decided to look through some of the short video clips that I had taken during various adventures this past year. They bring so much joy to me. They are more than photos. When I watch them, I can remember how I felt, what it smelt like, what the atmosphere was like, and so on. So I have uploaded a few of them and will be sharing them on here every few days or so. Most of them, if not all of them, are singing and dancing. I think my favourite part of Kenya is the singing and dancing and worship styles. Kenyans have such rhythm and these loud, almost boisterous, voices.

Ok, these two videos are of the 800 girls that we visited when we went to their high school in september. I love girls! I have such a huge heart for the young girls of Kenya so this weekend was so nourishing and amazing for me. Now, I guess this school has a special theme song which I had never heard before. Our first night there, they started playing the beats on the keyboard and all of a sudden all the girls went crazy. They started screaming the lyrics at the top of their lungs and jumping around. It was so much fun. Imagine being in a room with 800 girls with such excitement.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Just when you think your week sucked

My week has been kinda....sucky. For lack of a better word.

Yup, it has not been the easiest, most pleasant week of my life that's for sure. It started when I got the news that something I had been working on for a long time didn't come through. I had a lot of faith and heart and soul put into it and it just didn't happen. At first I comforted myself by saying that it wasn't meant to be and God has something better for me. But that still doesn't take away from the fact that I am disappointed.

Sometimes, as Christians, we feel we are suppose to be these uber cheery and ridiculously happy people all the time. But that's not what God has promised us. He promised us that life would be rough. There would be tough times. But he also promised us His peace and His joy which doesn't always mean being cheery and happy. His joy is that deep heart-knowledge that He is truly wonderful even when our circumstances aren't. His peace comes from knowing that He indeed has good plans for us and that there is hope for us. However, I can still cry,  can't I?

Ok, well apart from that I came down with the worst stomach flu. I had been so cautious not to get it since I knew it was going around, but of course my fears became reality when I woke up with a terrible tummy ache on monday morning. Let's just say that the rest of the day was spent in the bathroom.

I guess what makes it worse is that I was all alone. My parents had gone to Mexico on a vacation and I was by myself in the house. I absolutely dread being by myself in the house. I do not sleep if there is not another body in the house.

Then  I questioned my life and where it was going. Often I look at what I have under my belt and there is not a whole lot there. Friends are graduating from university, finding good jobs and getting married. I can't seem to find a job for the life of me and I have little schooling (and the schooling I did to was to work in the Non-profit sector ie. make no money). I know I get a little irrational (and if you knew how old I was you would think that I am crazy to be thinking stuff like this and should just enjoy my life). I wouldn't trade living and being a missionary in africa for anything. But in those low moments, that's where my mind wanders.

So if you mix my disappointment with my awful flu plus being lonely plus questioning my life and add in another dozen challenges (that seem small now but in my state, they were only one more thing to knock me down) it was a pretty sucky week.

I came to Kelowna to hang out with my brother and visit my Deda in the hospital. I have to say that my Deda is making great improvements!! I didn't know if I would ever see him again but now we are having the most precious moments together. He still has a long way to go but God has worked miracles in him. He has started asking me to pray with him. He absolutely loves it. He holds my hands and closes his eyes. He then puts this grin of contentment on his face and listens to me pray. Just as I say 'amen', he looks at me and says, "that was beautiful." He has been a little source of unexpected joy in my week.

However, I was struck in my gut as I was leaving the hospital tonight.

I got in the elevator with an older woman to go down to the first floor. She was getting off at the wrong floor so i corrected her kindly. She told me she was going to the smoking area of the hospital but didn't quite know where it was. I had passed it many times so I offered to show her where it was. We got off the elevator together and she asked what I was doing there. I told her about my grandfather and how he had been living in the ICU for the past two months. I then asked her if she was here for long and she sort of shrugged. I then realized it probably wasn't my place to ask what was wrong with her. I got a little flustered and started trying to redeem myself. She just looked at my and said,

'I have terminal cancer.'

Terminal cancer. Like the kind of cancer that will inevitably kill you sooner or later. Ouch.

I didn't know what to say to her so I just showed her where she could go have her smoke. She thanked me and that was the end of our conversation.

I walked out of the hospital with a whole new perspective. Yes, this week was tough but it can't be compared to walking around with a death sentence over your head.

Just when I thought my week sucked, God showed me how blessed I really am. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

5 years ago today...

.. at the tender age of 17 years old, I stepped onto the property that would change my life. After travelling for 8 hours on long, dusty, bumpy roads, crying the whole way and then getting into a city where I didn't know anyone or any place or what to do, I found someone who knew someone who knew someone who took me to Empowering Lives International Children's Home in Ilula, Kenya. December 6, 2005 was the first time I went to my 'home' in Kenya. I showed up in pants which, I was quickly told, was a no-no. I was crying with no idea where I was and wanting to go home. I was greeted with such incredible warmth and love and acceptance. I was astounded that the children's home was so 'luxurious'. I had braced myself for much worse. I remember being put into a dorm with some ladies I didn't know. I had supper with a team from America who was there. 

And then I was brought to the other side where the children slept. It was dark and they were just getting ready for bed. However, they knew that a visitor was coming and they all scurried out of their rooms. Within seconds my waist was full of tiny little arms, hugging me tightly and welcoming me home. It was the most incredible night. I had dreamt since I was a little girl of coming to an orphanage in Africa and I was finally there. 

Little did I know that it would be the first of a bajillion hugs from these children. Since then, I have visited Ilula more than 10 times. I have been so blessed to be apart of the children's lives and watch them grow up into the amazing young people they are. Some of them are now almost 17 years old which was how old I was when I first met them. The staff have become some of my greatest friends and supporters of my ministry in Kenya. And the director and his family, the Ronos, are like my own family. When I sit in their living room, I know that I am home. 

I AM SO GRATEFUL that God brought me to Ilula. It was an extremely rocky journey, but God has an amazing plan and nothing can hinder His purpose. 

I have a 'home' in Kenya filled with a family and siblings who love me like one of their own. 

Here are only a few of the hundreds (possibly thousands) of photos I have taken over the past 5 years. 
John, Emmanuel, and Esther made me feel so welcome. They are now some of my greatest friends. Emmanuel(far right) is now a giant and towers over me. Esther (with the bandana) is in the US fulfilling her dream of entering the medical field. And John (behind) is studying engineering in a local university. My brothers and sister! 

Leah (right) and I go back to my first night in Ilula. When I arrived, they put me in a dorm with some other ladies who were there for a pastor's conference. One of the ladies just happened to be Leah and her daughter. I didn't remember her until she was hired on as staff about 2 years ago. She quickly reminded me who she was and our connection and we laughed! She is teaching me to make mandazi.

In 2005, I spent my first Christmas away from home. I remember us waking up at around 6am and being summoned to the kitchen to cook a special meal for the children. We worked so hard for these precious children. I remember the satisfaction I felt treating the kids to something special when I am so used to being spoilt on Christmas morning. I have now almost mastered cooking the local food. 

One thing I love about going to Ilula is that I always end up meeting some cool people who have come to serve for a short time. This is Jamie who I met in May this year. She had such a gentle spirit and loved to treat the kids to her special baked treats. There are so many others that I still love to keep in contact with. Such cool people. 

This is Valentine. I love her. She is my sponsor child. It is rare for someone to actually know their sponsor child but I have had the privilege to actually see her grow and be a part of her life. I get to know what her personality is like. I get to see her giggle and play and cry and go to school. I get to see where my money goes. It is so special. 

I have learned to dig. Or at least I try. 

The girls are my fav. I ABSOLUTELY ADORE them. My fav is spending my nights with them laughing and singing and answering their questions about life, God and everything in between.

I love when they play with my hair and touch my arms and wrap themselves around my waist.

These are just some of the parents. This is when they only had 1 child. Now they have 3 beautiful boys. The boy in this picture is now 5 years old and plays a mean game of UNO. 

My Kenyan family. I know I look different, but when I am in their house I feel no different.

I will never get tired of their welcome ceremonies. I always get teary-eyed even if it is not me being welcomed. 

These 4 are siblings who watched their mother get struck by lightening and die. I remember the oldest, Mercy(far right) explaining to me the whole story during a thunder storm one day. She broke down in tears as she feared the lightening. 

I had no idea when I ended up in Ilula on December 6, 2005 that my life would change. I had no idea that I would encounter God the way that I did and the way I do every time I go up there. I have learned so much from these beautiful people. I almost forget they are orphans now. To me they are just kids. God's kids. 

Crispy cool

I think the question I have been asked the most since I got back is, "How are you adjusting to the cold snow?" To be honest, I have adjusted just fine. It was quite cold right when I left Kenya so maybe that prepared me a little bit but I haven't really suffered more than everyone else. I definitely don't enjoy the cold or the snow. There have been a few days that I stayed inside all day which I am quite happy with. 
However, over the past few days, the sun (and my dog) have dragged me out of the house for a few walks.

This is the view from my brother's driveway in Kelowna. The mountains are absolutely gorgeous.

I really love living next to a large river. I think I take it for granted too much. It is truly incredible.

This is my dog Lucy. SHe is getting old and doesn't get out much so she takes every opportunity she gets to sniff everything. She is often the one who forces me out of the house for a walk. She just looks at you and this wave of guilt overcomes you and you just have to do it. 

She is adorable. 

I have  seen a lot of beautiful places all around the world but there is a world of beauty in my back yard. I am blessed to live here, thats for sure! 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hunger Pains

Yesterday my mother decided that she was going to make a turkey. So she put the turkey in the over around 1pm thinking it was going to take at least 3-4 hours to cook. Around 4pm she called Dad and I to come for supper. Now, I am still adjusting to meal times. In Kenya I would never eat supper before 8pm so to be eating any earlier than that has sort of thrown me off a bit. 4 in the afternoon was a little on the early side even for my parents but the turkey was ready so we sat down anyways and had a wonderful meal.

At around 10pm last night, I started rolling around in my bed. I could not fall asleep. For those who know me well, they know that I have a very early bedtime. It is rare to find me awake past 10pm. But last night I just couldn't fall asleep. I rolled around till about 11:30pm and then realized why I couldn't sleep. I was so hungry because it had been 7 hours since we had supper. I tried to  go to sleep with the hunger pains but I just couldn't. So I decided to get up and go join my dad on the couch to watch tv. My dad had just returned from playing tennis so he was chomping down on some nice cheese and left over turkey from our 4 o'clock supper. He offered me some of it and I gobbled it down so fast. I sat there for about 10 minutes and snacked on a few other things until I decided to head back into my bed.

Once my head hit the pillow, I immediately started to doze. I guess it was my hungry tummy that was keeping me up.

As I laid in my bed, I started to think of all the people in the world who were going to bed hungry tonight. Not because they had an early supper, but because they simply could not afford to eat.

I started thinking of some of my friends in Kenya who I knew struggled to put food on the table and wondered what they had had for supper or if they had to forgo supper and just head to bed.

I remember one friend of mine who told me that when there was no food in the house for supper, her father would either make them laugh so hard with jokes or yell at them so loud so that they would forget they were hungry and go to sleep without supper. How hard would that be for a father who couldn't provide food for his family?!

I just silently prayed last night for all those that I know and that I do not know who are not eating tonight. I am so thankful that I am not one of them. I now have a better understand of why we 'say grace' before we eat. As much as we ask God to bless the food before us, we must stop and thank Him that He has indeed put food before us.

I looked up some stats on World Hunger from the the World food programme website and here are just some of the hard stats that I found:

- 10.9 million children under five die in developing countries each year. Malnutrition and hunger-related diseases cause 60 percent of the death

- 925 million people do not have enough to eat - more than the populations of USA, Canada and the European Union

- Women make up a little over half of the world's population, but they account for over 60 percent of the world’s hungry.

- 5 percent  of the world's hungry live in only seven countries: India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia

-It is estimated that 684,000 child deaths worldwide could be prevented by increasing access to vitamin A and zinc

-Lack of Vitamin A kills a million infants a year

I have a really hard time believing that God put all these people on this planet and went, "Oops, sorry there is not enough food for everyone." So why are people starving? 

I know there are those who accuse God saying, "If God is so powerful and wonderful, then why is He letting people die of hunger?" But God is looking at us and saying, " YOU are My hands and My feet! You are My body! You tell me why My body isn't feeding the hungry?" 

Doesn't it seem ironic that in developing countries, kids are dying because there is not enough food on their tables and in the West, kids are dying because there is too much food on their tables???? Obesity is a major problem in the West. Kids are eating too much junk. However, in Asia and Africa we have kids who never get to eat. Something is a little backwards. 

But last night I got a little taste of what millions of people feel when they go to bed hungry. It was humbling. My heart aches for them even though I don't know who they are. 

So what do we do? What do I do?

Live simply so others may simply live. This phrase has repeated itself over and over in my head so many times in the past year as I am constantly challenged to give up my own comforts so I can share with others. There are so many biblical examples of this. If you have two tunics and some one doesn't have one, give on of yours to them. When you see someone hungry and don't feed them you will be accountable to God one day who will say, "when I was hungry, you didn't feed me." Or that wonderful proverb that promises us that those who give to the poor will lack nothing. What about the rich young ruler who came to God and said, "Ok, I have pretty much done everything right and followed all your commands carefully, now what do I do?" God tells him to sell his possessions and give them to the poor. He walks away with his head hung low. 

I read this verse in Proverbs yesterday that I really loved. Proverbs 15:17, "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred." 

Sometimes after church in Kenya, I would like to treat some friends to lunch. I never had enough money to take them all out for pizza or steak or some fancy meal. We had to make do with cheap kenyan food. But I can't count how many awesome times we had sitting and laughing and fellowshipping around that cheap kenyan (bland) food. I would trade that for eating pizza alone any day. What a blessing it is to live simple and share with others. Not only share money, but share our lives with each other. 

Empowering Lives International is doing an interesting challenge right now where they are asking people to live on less that $2 a day. They not only are asking for your money to help empower the people that they are working with in East Africa, but they are asking you to join in and feel, experience, learn what its like for our friends on the other side of the world. They are walking along side there struggles. It's such a cool challenge. If you want to learn about it go to Love in Action

When you sit today with food before you, thank God that He has chosen that food to be placed in front of you even though you really don't deserve it more than anyone else. It's just His amazing grace.