Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mama: The first to arrive in Mombasa!


My mother arrived December 6th. If you had talked to me a week before her arrival, I am sure the only thing you would have heard out of my mouth was 'MY MOM ARRIVES SOON!'. I was almost more excited to see my mom than to get married. 

Of course she burst into tears as she exited the gate and saw me standing there. I asked her how her flights were and she blurted out, "I thought I was going to die!" WHY? I asked. " I was SO thirsty" Haha. I burst into laughter. I guess the airlines she took didn't give her enough water so she thought she would die of dehydration. Good thing I had a big bottle of water waiting for her as she got off the plane. 

We spend 3 days in Mombasa. I showed her around, we did some random wedding things, we spent a day at the beach, she met some of my friends, and got a glimpse at my life. She thought my apartment was 'rustic' and it took her a while to adjust to my way of living - which she thought was just like camping. But she adjusted well. 
My mom loves her eggs! Yummy starbucks and eggs for breakfast. 

My mom loved the lady who washes our clothes. They got along well even though they couldn't understand each other. This lady found it hilarious that Mom wanted to take a picture of her. 

 
The clothes drying. 

The first day we went into town, I must have run into friends at every corner. I think that was when Mom realized that I do have a life here and that I am apart of a community. 

Showing Mom our new apartment that we were slowing moving into. I was happy to see the mosquito netting on the windows! 

We spent a day poolside and had lunch at this beachside bar. I got a kick out of the guy carrying a large boat on his head in the back ground. 

We got to see a baby goat after it was just born in Kongowea. 

Then we headed to Nairobi for a couple days. Unfortunately, Mom got sick one of the days we planned to do some sight seeing. However, she was a trooper. When my Dad was here in 2009, we went to Java House almost every morning. Since then, Dad and I have talked about it a bajillion times at home. Finally I took Mom to taste and see what we had been talking about. 

We went to Kijabe for the day. I am saving our seats in the matatu and waiting for the car to fill up with passengers. 

Mom makes it to Kijabe! We had the most amazing time wandering through the hospital and Mom meeting my friends. We sat for a couple hours talking with Mercy, the chaplain I worked with while I was there. It was such a good reunion. 


This is the view that I had while I lived in Kijabe. Not too shabby eh? Simply gorgeous. 

Next up...Eldoret and the arrival of the Maid of Honour, Kasondra! 


I'm Back!

I am back online! Did you miss me?! .... Yah, didn't think so. 


I am not sure exactly where to start. Should I tell you about taking my mother to Eldoret to meet all my precious sisters and brothers? Or how she spent hours pruning the passionfruit plants while I got to have precious girl talks with the high school girls? Maybe I should mention that I messed up my best friend's flight arrival time and thought I had lost her in the airport? I wish I could describe my delight seeing all my family (including my Kenyan Family, the Ronos) at the pitch cheering on our boys as they played in the semi finals. Or the sounds of traditional singing and bright colours that welcomed me to Granny's house as they covered my head and ushered me into my own room where my whole family ate fresh goat pilau. Of course, the wedding day must be mentioned from my mother doing my hair and make-up to Dad walking me down the aisle and handing me over to Kelvin to the 'I do's' and the kiss to the yummy food and dancing till the sun went down on the Indian Ocean. Couldn't have asked for a better day. Then we had the the mini honeymoon which we loved;) but family time was the greatest. Lots of card playing, drinking coke, swimming, picking on each other, laughing, and quality family time. Goodness! I almost forgot the boys christmas gifts! Too bad I missed it. Was stuck at the bank but let my family do the honours. Such is life. And now I am nestled in my lovely new apartment, catching up on emails, eating all the yummy treats my family left behind (Doritos, Reese's pieces, energy drinks, cheese, and Mini Eggs) and waiting for my husband to come home.

It was a phenomenal month to say the least. As the days go by, I will add pictures and more stories about all that has happened.

I am blessed beyond belief. This whole month taught me truly how much God loves me, how valuable I am to Him, how He loves to shower me with good things, and how He is always faithful.  This past year has been one of my best (but not without its fair share of struggles) and I think I have ended on a high note.

Kelvin and I sat this morning and talked about our favourite moments this year (but we couldn't mention anything from the last month). We revelled in the ways God has used us in Kongowea and were amazed to see how some of our boys are now interning for big companies and turning their hearts to God. We looked at the ways we have grown as individuals and as a couple. I have learned to cook Kenyan food (and absolutely love it too!) which was a HUGE thing for me as well as learning to take care of a household. Kelvin is grateful that God has given him the means to fulfil his role as leader or provider in a deteriorating economy and practically jobless country. And how we have both stretched and grown closer to God's image. And we have loved God with all that is in us.

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Blogging Break

Well ya'll, I think I will be taking a break from blogging for the next couple weeks (unless I get the time or have something incredibly juicy to share). Life is getting rather busy right now and I am trying to just focus on my family, my wedding, my future husband, keeping myself cool, and Jesus. 

My mother arrives in Mombasa kesho and I couldn't be more excited!! I am tracking where she is at all times and praying her through her long journey to Africa. At least now my family will really understand what I go through every time I come back to Canada. It's not an easy travel that's for sure. 

Today I spent the day scrubbing every inch of my house making it ready enough for my momma. This is the first time she is coming to my home. Of course I want her to be comfortable although I know she will have to get used to showering right next to the toilet, having to light the stove with a match, and making sure a fan is always blowing cool air at you from some direction. I am sure she will look at some of my cooking utensils and wonder how I survive. I think she will just love all the fresh fruit and veggies (including the large, juicy avocados she loves to eat every morning). She told me she was brining a large toblerone bar so we can have a chocolate fondue will all the yummy tropical fruits. Oh I can't wait. 

I woke up this morning with a lump on my neck. First thing I did was panic. My grandmother just died of cancer. One way she knew the cancer was back was because she would get lumps on her neck. So naturally my first thought was that I was dying of cancer. I called Kelvin and said I needed to go to the doctor this afternoon to figure it out. I didn't want to take my mom to the doctor with me on her first day in Kenya. I calmed down and did some research and deducted that it was unlikely to be cancer. The doctor also said the same. He did some blood tests and said I had an infection (although the blood results were not completely clear.) He prescribed some anti-biotics and told me to come back in a week if nothing changes. I am not completely thrilled at the timing of this but I will deal with it. 

Otherwise we had a wonderful weekend filled with lots of friends and fun. I have such an amazing community here. I am so blessed to have a place where I belong. 


We were invited to an appreciation lunch by a ministry group that we have helped out with. The food was amazing and the company was even better. Kelvin took this picture of me with his iPhone (an old one I brought back from Canada). Sorry, that's the only picture I took this week.

We really appreciate prayers for these next couple weeks. Pray for ALL our travel plans! We have people coming from Canada, UK and the other side of Kenya. Also, Mom, Kasondra and I are going to Ilula to visit the children's home for a couple days. Pray for wedding plans. Pray for calmness. My purpose is to enjoy this process and not let the little things stress me out. Pray for KELVIN AND I! We are getting MARRIED! Whoop whoop! 

Love you all. Next time you hear from me, I will be Nikole Opiyo......


Friday, December 2, 2011

When your day doesn't go as planned

Yes, I had one of those days where pretty much every plan I woke up with, didn't happen.

I was actually really excited for this friday in particular. I had planned to have some sweet girlfriends over at my house and just have a good girly night of movies, food, and laughter. I think once I get married, these nights will be few and far in between so I wanted to soak up this chance while I had it.

It is also my best friend, Rahab's, birthday on monday so I wanted to make a big, scrumptious brownie cake for us to devour. Naturally, I needed to clean my house and make all the beds. I also had to plan for a nice supper to treat the ladies too (they are all students so when they come over I try treat them- mostly I just feed them meat cause they can't afford it themselves).

I had planned to go to town with Kelvin to finish buying art supplies for our boy who is in art school. He starts his next term soon and needs his supplies ASAP.

And one of the girls from my bible study was going to spend the night with us as she is working just down the road from me for the weekend so I told her to just come to my place instead of going all the way back to her place.

Ok, so none of that happened. Well, that's not true. Some of it happened, but not the way I thought it would.

My morning was slower than usual just getting myself up and out and ready for the day (which in hindsight, I am thankful for). Just as I sent Kelvin to go buy me some eggs for the cake, Rahab called and said that she was being suddenly evicted out of the place she has been living in for 4 years. She needed to be out within the next day or two. She apologized and said she couldn't make it for the girls night. But I couldn't just leave her to do all this by herself. Kelvin and I started making some calls to try hire a car to get all her stuff packed and moved. Well, that turned out to be more difficult than we thought as most of the people we know had already hired out their cars or they were just playing games with us or we had to wait for a few hours to get one. It was frustrating. Kelvin finally got a lead on a car in Kongowea and he rushed to go see it while I met Rahab in town. It turns out the car that Kelvin thought he was getting was on the other side of Mombasa completely. UGH! Anyways, we managed to get someone to get Rahab's stuff and drop at her place in the morning.

Then we went to buy the art supplies. Which was lovely. SO much fun buying all these treats for my boys.

We went to have lunch which I had not planned for. We splurged and went for a pricey lunch too. I had already stuff in the house to make a cheaper lunch.

After that I went to the grocery store to buy some more food for the other girls who were suppose to come tonight. Since Rahab wasn't coming, I scratched the cake idea and just focused on a yummy meal.

I got home and waited and waited and waited and waited for the ladies to show up. I finally call them and they say they are on their way. By this time it was already 8pm and I kindly told them that I would be exhausted by 9pm so no use even coming. I guess there was a big accident which caused a huge traffic jam. Kelvin got caught in it too and it took him 2 times longer to reach home than it usually does.

Then my other friend, who was suppose to come stay with me after her work, didn't show up either. I called and she told me she was home. She explained that she tried calling and calling me but the network wasn't letting her through. It's true - the network has been crazy today not letting anyone get on the internet or make calls. So she just decided to go home.

Its now 9:30 and I am alone with a lot of yummy food leftover.

This isn't abnormal. Things in Africa just don't happen the way we expect. I am used to it by now. And usually God has a good plan for things not going the way WE planned them. Even if it drives my organized, logical, western mind up the wall.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wedding Thoughts

Here is just a random mix of thoughts that are running through my head concerning my wedding:


  • I am less interested in the wedding but more focused on getting married. If at the end of the day, I am married to Kelvin I will be a happy lady. 
  • I am sure that people in Kongowea are more excited for my wedding than I am. It is the buzz in the community. Talk of the town. Women are fussing more over what they are going to wear, how they are going to do their hair, their jewelry, their make up than I am. You would think Kelvin is some sort of politician with all this hype. If we didn't make it an 'invitation only' wedding, I think we would have 600 people there. No jokes. 
  • Speaking of invitations, they seem to be a major issue. Everyone we meet is asking for their 'card'. We  have issued all the cards so if you didn't get one, you can't come. Period. So please don't fuss. We invited 320 (yes...320) of our closest friends and family. If you weren't invited, that means you are probably not as close to us as you think. Another thing, please don't ask for a card for you teacher, pastor, friend, etc. I had my sister-in-law tell me I need to invite the teacher of my other twin sisters. I said NO. 
  • We even have people who are willing to pay for their friends to get into the wedding. We have to keep a strict number because we are paying per head (which isn't usually done here). Once we explain that, we have people who are offering to pay for their friend's to get in. 
  • We have invited all of Kelvin's family from upcountry (trust me, they are an army of people themselves) but we are not providing their transport, a place to stay, or a new outfit for them. Because of these 3 factors, most of them won't come. But we still get calls from them asking for money to come. I am blessed to have an awesome mother-in-law who totally agrees with us and doesn't even push us to hand out more money. She is not even allowing her own family to stay with her in Mombasa. I am so thankful for her. 
  • People are admiring how 'simple' our wedding is. We are not doing some key Kenyan things like decorating the cars or hiring professional make up artists or wearing excessive jewelry. We have also decided to put a big bowl of candy as our centre pieces. Never heard of here in Kenya. I love it. 
  • We got our wedding song the other day and Kelvin can't stop listening to it. Honestly, I have fallen in love with it too. The local band we have wrote the song especially for us. It has our names, our parents names, our hometowns and everything. LOVE IT! 
  • I love being called 'Bibi Harusi'. I will miss that once I am married. 
  • Prayers are being offered all over the place for us. My sister-in-law told me yesterday how her church just finished 3 days of fasting and prayers for our wedding (meaning they didn't eat or drink for 3 days because of us). Part of me is so humbled, but part of me thinks it is a little crazy. 
  • I am no longer going to fuss over whether or not my bridesmaid dresses are going to fit properly. I am making all of them even for 2 girls from Canada. Because we didn't get measured properly by the fundi who is making them, they could very well not fit well. However, I was at a wedding yesterday and saw that the majority of the clothes the women were wearing did not fit them properly. It worked and no one cared. 
  • Our marriage license has costed 6 times more than we thought it would. With all the special letters we had to get, my trip to Nairobi to the embassy, a special license to marry outside, a special license to marry a kenyan and a foreigner, and all the other small details, we probably could have put a down payment on a house. Ok, not that extreme but it was a lot of money. 
  • As we sat at the registrar's office to get our license approved, we watched countless young black ladies and white old men come in and get married. Some looked like they were in love, but many looked like it was just convenient. I was just so thankful for my relationship with Kelvin. 
  • Kelvin has been my hero through all of this. When people ask me if I am stressing over the wedding, I can honestly say No. But that's because Kelvin is doing most of the work. He is dealing with everyone who is being fussy, he is making all the small arrangements, he is calm, cool, and collected. I am so excited to be his wife!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Logo

I am putting a call out to all those graphic design whizz' out there who wouldn't mind helping us out a little.

I am starting to get the Christmas packages ready for the boys. I want to order the t-shirts for them soon. I wanted to design some sort of logo to go on the front of the t-shirt. Actually, I wanted it to be the official logo for the team (cause we know that any great football team needs an emblem/logo).

Now, I thought I could do it myself but after spending hours scrunching my eyebrows at my computer, I realized that I do not have the appropriate programs or enough graphic design skills to do it.

So if you would like to give your time and talent and bless our team with their own official emblem, please let me know. It would be greatly appreciated!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tea and Chocolate Covered Digestive Cookies

Sunday morning I got the phone call I had been dreading. I knew it was coming sooner than later but when  I saw my home phone number show up on my tiny Nokia phone, my stomach dropped. My precious daddy, keeping it together for me, sweetly told me my grandmother had passed away. 

If you know me well, you know that my granny and I didn't have an ordinary relationship. She was more than my grandmother, she was one of my best friends. Naturally, I am completely heartbroken after losing my 'bosom buddy', as my granny used to say about her closest friends. 


We never lived near my granny so when we got the chance to go visit, we were elated. Our parents used to drop us off at their house (my grandfather was there when we were younger as well but it was granny who did most things with us), and spoil us completely rotten for a few days. She would take us to the Castle Fun Park and give us $20 to buy tokens for all the games. We would collect tickets upon tickets and granny would take them home, organize them, and save them for us so we could 'cash' them in for a big prize.  She would take us to the movie store and tell us we could rent as many movies as we wanted. We would get home and sink into the couch for hours with our eyes glued to the TV. Sometimes she would even come along and scratch our backs lightly with her long, delicate fingers. She always made me a cup of tea, the british way, and adorned a saucer with chocolate covered digestive cookies. Her tea was the best I have ever tasted. Grandma never failed to send us a card for every occasion. She would rarely spend more than $1 on a card but always made sure it gets to us. The last one I received from her was an engagement card that she sent all the way to Mombasa. 

She was such an elegant woman. She made everything look elegant. She had beautiful broaches, berets of all colours, beautiful necklaces, and classy outfits. I think it was largely due to her upbringing in the 'Old Country', Wales. Because of this upbringing, she had the greatest vocabulary. I wonder how many grandmothers told their kids to go upstairs and do their "ablutions" before they went to bed. Or used the phrase 'three sheets to the wind' to say that someone was drunk. I wish she had written down all the crazy idioms she used to come up with. We loved her for that. And even after living in Canada for most of her life, she still pronounced 'water' as 'wauter'. 

We grew closer as I got older. I used to fight with my dad over who was going to call grandma that day. I loved talking with her. We even knit a whole blanket together one summer. It still sits on my bed. She gave me her car which my brother now drives. She was always there to say goodbye to me when I left for Africa. I always thought it would be the last time I saw her. However, she was always the first face I saw as I stepped off the plane back in Canada. And, of course, countless afternoons drinking tea and eating chocolate digestive cookies.
When I came home from Kenya in 2007, my dad broke the news to me that she was diagnosed with cancer. This broke my heart. The cancer she had was not curable but was treatable. They gave her a couple years to live if she was willing to endure the horrors of chemo. Which she did. I was in Vancouver when she went through her first bout of chemo. It was nerve wracking but she handled it well. Slowly she started shedding her hair and she would complain that her finger tips and her nose would go numb (which also happened when she drank too much). She survived that chemo and the cancer went away from a while. Then it came back and she did the chemo again. It went away and came back. Went away and came. I lost count how many times she did chemo. We thought she would never die. We used to tease her and say she would outlive all of us. Her strength and positive spirit always amazed us. We knew she was suffering. She missed my grandfather every second of her life. It's no fun being sick and alone. But she never wanted to be a burden to anyone and her focus was always our well being even to the very end. 

The day before I left to get on the plane back to Mombasa, I spent one last day with her. I think we both knew it would be the last time we saw each. We talked a lot about Jesus and what was waiting for us in heaven (I am still not sure if she made it there). We cried a lot. We watched the Justin Bieber movie together and she even gave me a little dance move or two. We giggled. She told me a few dirty jokes and cackled at herself. She made me a cup of tea and opened up a package of chocolate covered digestive cookies. We talked and prayed. She told me about her younger years and all the things she had overcome. Finally I gave her one last hug goodbye then she pushed me out the door not wanting to turn into a blubbering mess. 

Finally the chemo stopped working and the cancer was taking over. Grandma was also tired and not willing to fight any more. She didn't want to be a burden to us anymore. So she went into hospice and slept peacefully until she finally stopped breathing on November 18th. 

I miss her already. I wish I could pick up my phone and hear her voice again. So keep us in our prayers. It has been a tough year with losing two grandparents but we are making it through. I am excited that my family will be with me in Mombasa in the next couple weeks where we can celebrate my wedding but also remember my grandma. 


Sunday, November 20, 2011

A guys day out

The day at the pool with the boys was a big success. They totally enjoyed themselves, acted like princes living it large in a fancy resort, poured their hearts out in some teaching sessions Kelvin facilitated, and bonded as a team. God did wonders and we are so thankful!

Kelvin told them to be there at 7:30am. We expected they would be late but most of them showed up on time.

Big smiles even before they got in the gates




I just joined them for the sessions that Kelvin held. I wanted to see their reactions to the things Kelvin was teaching them about. This particular session encouraged them to grow as young men, make goals, work hard, and trust God. My favourite part was when Kelvin encouraged them to remain pure aka keep it in your pants until you are married. Kelvin was speaking in swahili but he made some great gestures as he pointed down demonstrating the way 'it' should be pointed until they are married. He then told them that 'it' should not be pointed up and wagging all around. He moved his finger up and back and forth. We erupted into laughter. I think they got the point. 

Kelvin told me that, during the 2nd session in the afternoon, the guys really opened up about their self esteem issues. On the outside, these guys seem tough, strong, confident but in reality, it's just a cover. Kelvin was humbled as he listened to their hearts. Some of them told him that they don't like the way people perceive them in their community, that they are embarrassed when they are physically abused by their friends, that they feel like they always fail and never do well even though they work hard, and that (this was the hardest one for me to hear) some of their parents tell them they are worthless no bodies. Is your heart breaking for them like mine is? Kelvin dove into scripture and taught them what God thinks of them and how amazing they truly are. 





They had an awesome day.  Thanks to all those who helped make this happen!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Beach Day with the Team

As it is coming close to the end of the year and Kelvin and I are getting busier with all the wedding plans, we thought that we should do something fun with the team. Part of our goal with the boys is not just to be their coaches and put them into schools, but to mentor them, disciple them, teach them, train them in the ways of God and the ways of life. That's what sets us apart from other teams. And the boys know that the team is not an average team. The community also sees that we do more than just coach and give them nice practice equipment. Our goal is to create responsible, constructive, respected, and God fearing men in the community. Slowly, that is what is happening. 

Our plan for tomorrow is to take 25 of them to a local beach resort where we managed to strike a deal with the staff there to let us swim, give us lunch, and open up a small conference room for us for a couple hours in the morning. Kelvin has prepared a small workshop teaching the boys about growing into the people they want to and were created to be, growing closer as a team and brotherhood, and growing closer to God. He also has planned some team building exercises and games that they will do before spending the rest of the days chillaxing by the pool. 

Pray that this day would be fruitful, that the boys would be receptive to Kelvin's teaching, and that they would bond as a team. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

No impediment to marriage

I am back safe and sound in Mombasa. The trip was successful but extremely draining. I travelled 18 hours on a bus in a 24 hour time period. I was fortunate to get a bus with air conditioning on the way to Nairobi (something I didn't pay for) however it felt like the middle of winter inside the bus. We were all shivering. Once the driver turn off the AC, the bus got all humid and soggy inside as none of the windows opened.

I arrived in the morning, grabbed a quick cup of coffee, and got a matatu to the embassy. I totally enjoyed my time at the embassy. I loved seeing the red maple leaf, pictures of our leaders, some native art, and Canadian documents. The place was clean and friendly. I even had several Canadians, who liked like some pretty serious diplomats, ask me if I was ok and was getting good service. The letter I needed took all of 10 minutes to process. The consular also encouraged me to register online that I am in Kenya so that Canada knows of my whereabouts. I left there just so blessed to be from a country that actually cares about me and my welfare.

I went and booked a bus home for 1pm, had a quick lunch, and waited for the bus. Some guy took my seat and refused to move claiming that it was his. I asked to see his ticket and it definitely did not say C1 but I chose not fight. I took his seat instead only to find that it was soaking wet and stinky. I think they had left the window open and it poured with rain. Thankfully, I brought an extra T-shirt with me that I put on the seat. The bus left an hour late and got stuck behind some slow moving semi trucks. The men in the bus kept having to pee so we stopped the bus every hour or so making me rather impatient. I bet most women had to pee too but because we can't do it discreetly, like men can, we have to hold it. So why don't the men just try hold it like the ladies?? This is so typical of Africa and a huge pet peeve of mine. Anyways, we didn't arrive in Mombasa till 10:30. The dashing and ever-so-handsome Kelvin came and picked me up and escorted me home. I was pooped.

I got what I needed, a document saying I can get married, and I am grateful to be back in Mombasa.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nairobi and back in 24 hours

Tonight I am headed to Nairobi so I can go to the Canadian High Commission first thing in the morning. I need a letter from the Canadian government stating that I am not married in Canada in order for us to get a marriage certificate here in Kenya.

I hope to get there in the morning, have a cup of tea, and go straight to the Consulate. I am praying to be done fairly early so I can get back to town and catch a 1pm bus back to Mombasa. I don't want to spend more time in Nairobi then I have to.

This morning I woke up feeling pretty terrible. Throughout the day, I have started feeling better but am still pretty weak, have little appetite, and have a terrible headache. Pray that I would stay healthy on this quick, whirlwind journey.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Improvising

Kenya just doesn't have the same 'stuff' that we do in Canada. That 'stuff' that makes life just a little bit easier. 'Stuff' that perfectly fits, never breaks, always smells good, etc. There are days where I miss small gadgets (life swiffers and vacuum cleaners) that make life just a little bit easier. But most days I totally love the simplicity of my life. 

Today I was quite impressed with my improvising skills. I wanted to bake a zucchini cake as I had this large zucchini in my fridge that I knew wouldn't get eaten. I also had one lonely egg left that was probably going to contract salmonella in the next couple days. So I set my mind to baking a cake. 

I have had some issues with my oven. Even on its lowest heat, it burns everything. When I make cookies, I can't let my eyes off of them for more than a minute or else the top or the bottom will burn. The only other things I do in my oven is bake chicken (which turns out great), roast zucchini slices, toast bread, or heat up something. 

So I put on my thinking cap and tried to recall everything I have learned about the way my oven works and how I should go about baking the cake. 

And this is what I came up with:



Yes, the baking sheet was a tad too big for me to spread out all the batter on to. I ended up taking a piece of cardboard, folding it, and then wrapping it with tinfoil to cut the pan in half. I then greased the tinfoil and the rest of the pan lightly with oil and smeared the batter inside. I also took a large piece of tinfoil and placed it on top so that the top wouldn't burn. I put it in the oven, on a higher shelf, and checked on it every few minutes. Once I saw that the bottom was pretty much cooked, I took off the tinfoil and let it bake another 2 minutes. And voila! The perfect zucchini cake! It sure is delicious!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Corruption

"the act of corrupting or the state of being corrupt, moral perversion, depravity, perversion of integrity, rot, pollution, foulness, contamination."


The other night we had an awesome conversation at my youth fellowship about being IN the world but not OF the world. The speaker's question was, "what would kenya look like if all the youth determined to live by God's standards and not the worlds standards?" There were some great answers but the one that really caught my attention was corruption. We would not be corrupt.

Corruption in Kenya is often linked to government and police. However, a pastor in the audience challenged us all with a humble thought. He explained, "Most times we think corruption is for other people yet fail to realize that we are doing it to but in small ways. For example, after this meeting we know there is tea and mahambri (a local donut-type food). The church provides 1 cup of tea and 1 mahambri for each of us. Yet most of you go and take 3 or 4 mahambri which are suppose to be delegated for others. In the end, people don't get their share because you were greedy and took it."

We all laughed because we all know it is true.

My roommate explained to me the other day about the lunch program at his school. He said that they used to be able to go out of the compound at lunch and buy from some outside joints. However, the principal's wife decided to make a business out of it and opened a small lunch program in the school. The principal then banned them all from leaving school property forcing them to buy from his wife. And my roommate said the food is horrid. At the expense of his students, the principal is allowing his wife to make some money. Disgusting.

I then remember volunteering in a small Christian nursery school. The children used to give the snacks to  the teacher to keep in her desk so that the monkeys don't snatch them away. At the end of the day, the kids would line up to get their snacks from the teacher. As the teacher handed each snack to the kid, she would take a large sip or bite. If it was a juice box, she would push the straw in and take a few sips. If it was a bag of peanuts, she would rip it open and pour a whole bunch into her hands. I was mortified as I watched this supposedly God fearing teacher taking from her students what has been delegated to them.

Most people don't realize they are corrupt. Maybe they don't truly understand what corruption is. From what I understand from scripture and other definitions, corruption is taking something that wasn't delegated to you in the first place. 

So at the end of the youth fellowship, we all headed over for tea and mahambri. As I was chatting with a friend, she blurted out, "I am going to get another one. I'm so hungry. Do you want one?" Appalled, I asked her, "Did you not listen to what was said today? You realize you are taking from someone else what is theirs." "Yes I know but I am so hungry." She replies.

I don't think she was very impressed with my response as she didn't talk to me the rest of the night.

Surprise Bridal Shower!

Yesterday, Kelvin said that he was taking me somewhere special in the afternoon and that it was a surprise. He was acting funny all day so I knew something was up. Just as we were about to leave, I went to my room to collect my purse, and Kelvin ran out of the house. As I turned the corner from my room, a whole bunch of sweet girlfriends shrieked in excitement! I knew exactly what it was as I had been told I was having a surprise bridal shower but didn't know when exactly it was or what it would entail. 

So we all shrieked a little followed by bigs hugs and lots of gabbing. We all sat down in my house and devoured a cake and 3 bottles of soda. Rahab, my best girlfriend here in Kenya, had organized the whole thing. She brought a married woman to come and talk to me about marriage and give me some Godly advice (although I didn't quite agree with all of it but that's not the point.) It was a sweet couple of hours with lovely ladies. 

Then then showered me with some random household items including glasses, bowls, cooking utensils, serving plates and spoons, a grater, and a nice photo frame for my house. I was completely humbled that they would get me some pretty sweet gifts (I know its not easy for them to fork out the money for this stuff). 

It was a precious afternoon that's for sure. Completely unexpected and totally humbling. 

Rahab and Juddy getting ready to start the shower agenda.

I took pictures with everyone who gave me a gift. This is Tina (right) and Faith.

All my gifts. My house is becoming so Kenyan. 

A happy "Bibi Harusi" - Bride to be


This was my favourite gift because it is totally and uniquely african. It is called a kifumbu and it is used to make coconut milk. I guess you grind the coconut with a grater or a local contraption called a mbuzi. You put the shredded coconut inside this tube thing along with some warm water and then you ring it out to get the milk. I will have to try it one day. I am so excited to show my mom it!

Martha is also in the beginning stages of planning her wedding. She will be the next one to have a bridal shower. 

And the lady who put it all together, Rahab. I thank God for her. She is such a gift to me. I have very few white friends so to find a deep, meaningful friendship with a Kenyan has been a gift straight from Heaven!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Ant Diet

I was chatting with mom last night about the frustrations of power outages. I was explaining that, for some reason, our apartment and a select other few in our compound had no power. The apartment next to us and across from us had stima (electricity), but not us. Because of this, my freezer started melting and water started leaking from my fridge. I couldn't boil any water to drink so my water supply was running low. It was a good thing there was a slight breeze so the fan wasn't completely necessary. My computer was almost dead. I wanted to save a little of the battery incase of an emergency.

As I was talking with mom, she blurts out, 'I couldn't live without my computer. It has all my work and everything. I just couldn't deal with that.'

"Yes, it is frustrating sometimes but you learn to live with it. The thing that is really bugging me is all the ants in my kitchen!"

I then continued to tell her how all my food is in the fridge so the ants can't get at it. The sugar, peanut butter, and rice doesn't need to be refrigerated. But in my house it does. Every morning I wake up to a stream of ants flowing in and out of the smallest holes in my kitchen. I have tried to block their little gateways but they find a new one. It drives me up the wall. I have succumb to the fact that ants are now a regular part of my diet. They are small so you can't see or taste them if you cook them, and they are terribly difficult to pick out of your food.

Recently I have noticed these bites on my body. I know they are not mosquito bites. Usually, I feel some stinging sensation on my skin and then a day later a big welt emerges. This welt is incredibly itchy for days until it turns into a small purple dot and then disappears. It then dawned on me that, I usually feel the stinging as I am dealing with ants. The sneaky little creatures not only take over my food, but also attack my skin!

"aw, nik, that is gross! I don't know how you deal with that. I can't believe it." My mom exclaims.

Sometimes I don't know how I do either. Grace, that's all I can say.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Church with Girls and Eid ul Hajj

My prayer last week was to go to a girls school. I came home one day a little discouraged, after a game with the boys, and just craving to hang out with a group of girls. I prayed about it and even told Kelvin my desire. I absolutely LOVE hanging out with fiery, sweet, girly girls. It's rather ironic because I am totally not that kind of girl. But I love girls who are. 

On friday, I went to my regular bible study/youth service meeting that Word of Life puts on. At the beginning of the service, I overheard some people talking about how they are going to lead the service at Mama Ngina girls school this sunday. I didn't show it, but I SO wanted to go. Mama Ngina girls are so much fun, full of energy and zeal for God, and have hearts focused on pleasing Him. Anyways, throughout the service, I kept telling God how much I would love to go but only if He allowed it.

At the end of the service, my old boss from Word of Life pulled me aside and mentioned that they needed more girls to go and someone to do a testimony. Not wanting to show my sheer excitement, I said, "Sure. I would love to. Be there at 8am sunday."

The Mama Ngina girls didn't disappoint. 3 hours of song, dance, laughter, encouragement, love, testimonies, the Word of God and so much more. My heart was full that's for sure. After the service, Kelvin and I stayed behind and had some time to chat with a few of the girls. I value sweet conversations with young ladies who are putting God first in their lives. 


 Boy, can they ever sing and dance! I will try upload some videos I took of the service. The choir had come and sang an incredible song that sent goosebumps up my spine.

After the service, we headed for lunch in Kongowea. Sunday was a Muslim holiday which celebrated the end of Hajj, the 10 day pilgrimage every muslim is suppose to make to Mecca. With any Muslim holiday, you know there is going to be GOOD food.

And I was not disappointed. The family we went to eat with made amazing goat biryani, probably the best I have ever eaten before. And I am not usually a big fan of goat meat. 

However, the meal was about the only thing I like about the situation. It was rather uncomfortable for me. After the eating, everyone started pulling  out the alcohol, cigarettes, and miraa. Hmm, not my fancy. Kelvin and I were about the only ones who were participating. However, Kelvin had an advantage as he could speak swahili. He could connect. As for me, I struggled to connect. I don't drink, smoke, chew drugs, or speak swahili so I was a fish out of water. What made it worse was that a cousin of Kelvin's had brought along her much older, european fiance. He was a nice man but, in the midst of all this, the man was handing out money and supplying all the drinks for everyone. Again, not my style. The people were lovin' being showered with cheap pleasures while I sat in the corner, struggling to connect. 

I think was surprised me the most was that we were celebrating a muslim holiday and yet they were doing the most 'unholy' of things. I was chatting with one, who had just come from filling up on the local brew, about how he has to stop drinking, wait 40 days, and then go to a mosque because right now he is 'unclean'. He kept telling me how much work it is to stay 'clean' for allah. I took this opportunity to talk about Jesus and how He can make us 'clean'. The guy insisted he could do it himself. I then decided not to continue trying to reason with him, especially as I smelt the alcohol on his breath. 

It was tough for sure. Kelvin noticed I was struggling and suggested we leave. My heart hurt as these are the people I so desire to reach and yet we are so disconnected. Afterwards, Kelvin and I went to a local resort to listen to a live band. While sitting there, I burst into tears.  The fact is that this week has been hard. More  than usual, I have felt out of place and like I really just don't fit in. I have made various mistakes, had people laugh and mock me, and get heckled wherever I went. After a tough week, the tears overflowed Sunday night. I didn't need to be encouraged. I just needed to cry. 

Kelvin was great and listened to my cries. Soon, we started talking about ministry, work, Jesus, how to really help the poor, how to really follow Jesus, and how, most times, following Jesus means that life will be tough. It turned out to be a pretty awesome evening as we poured our hearts out to each other, listened to the local music, and allowed the breeze from the ocean cool us down. 

This is a brand new mosque that was right next to Mama Ngina girls school. Because it was a holiday, the mosques were full. On our way to church, Muslims were outside praying. Mosques were so full that people were praying on the streets.

Goats lined the streets. 


Everyone is suppose to kill a goat and I think they are suppose to give some of it away to the poor. I am not sure how many actually do that but its good in theory.

It was an overwhelming Sunday. I am thankful for a new week!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Overwhelmed

Where to start...

Life has been overwhelming the last couple weeks. It has been hard but also it has been incredibly joyful and exciting. I am overwhelmed in a good way. 

First of all, I am reading a book that has rattled me up. The Hole in the Gospel is written by the president of World Vision. It is an account of how he accepted God's calling for him to take the position even though he had a high end CEO job. Then he talks extensively about what is happening in the world. The reality of poverty, war, disease, hunger, corruption, etc. That's about when I started to feel overwhelmed with hopelessness. There is SO much need, so how do you even begin to make a difference? How are we so oblivious to what is going on in the world? The West is so disconnected from it. I spent hours reading and my heart shattering into tiny pieces for how little we are helping people who literally HAVE NOTHING. I live in Africa and try to help the poor but even I feel like I don't do enough. (By the way, the book has totally convinced me not to buy a washing machine. I would rather pay some struggling single mother to wash my clothes. I actually tried to compromise and say I would pay someone to put them in my washing machine.) Eventually the author started to turn things around and offered encouragement to me, hopeless at that point, that I was not called to save the world but to obey Jesus and what He has asked me to do for the people He loves. I am called to be His hands and His feet, His love and His compassion, for those who are suffering. I think I am on my way there.

I still haven't even finished the book. I still have about a third left to read. 



Next, Kelvin and I have started marriage counselling. I am personally loving it. I am overwhelmed at the way God has designed marriage and what purpose it has. I am overwhelmed that God's gift to me is Kelvin, an amazing, loving, handsome, God-fearing, man. I am overwhelmed at how hard marriage and relationships can be especially as we strive to obey Jesus' commands to love, respect, submit, forgive, stay committed to one another for the rest of our lives.  I am in awe of my Creator, that's fo' sho. 

On that same note, wedding plans are coming along well! Only 7 more weeks to go! We are having some issues with the invitations. People are just not understanding that, if you are not invited, don't come. We didn't  give you a card for a reason. We have had numerous people ask us if they can bring their coaches, neighbours, teachers, and other people. NO! is my answer. People keep calling us asking for their invitation, as if we have forgotten it or it got lost. If you didn't get a card, it probably means you weren't invited. It sounds harsh but, at this point, I have to be. 

We have also found the apartment that we are going to move into once we are married!! It is a sweet little one bedroom place just up the road from where I stay now. Currently they are re-painting it and getting it all fixed up for Kelvin to move into it in December. After the wedding, I will join him! It has 24 hour security and bars on all the windows (my top priority) and flowing water (my second top priority). Gosh, 7 weeks can't come soon enough. 

On to the boys...

There are days where I am super excited about them and some days I am so frustrated. 

I am personally struggling to connect with the boys on a deeper level. My relationships with them are very surface level. Language is a barrier as not all of them can speak in English. I think the fact that I am white and I am a girl puts a bit more of a divide between us. And then I am more of a matronly/motherly figure. They have a lot of reverence for me. I bring most of the finances and they know that without me, Kelvin really can't do what he does for them. I guess it is not a bad thing. I think I like the respect and reverence they have for me. But sometimes I just wish to connect a little bit more. On the other hand, kelvin does an amazing job with them. They just adore him. I have no idea how he does it, but they respect and honour him to no end. 

We are having issues with one of them in particular. It's hard when you do so much for him and then he turns around and hurts you for no reason at all. I guess you expect him to change but that doesn't always happen. His issues are so much deeper than we understand or have the capabilities to deal with. We are just praying for guidance in how to deal with the one that has strayed. 

But then there are some who are making huge leaps forward and, if I dare say, are becoming some pretty awesome human beings. 

And I have been overwhelmed by the response to our call for Christmas gifts! People are stepping up from everywhere to bless these young men. I am so looking forward to doing some shopping for them! Thank you all!!! Asanteni Sana!


Then there is always the joys and tribulations of everyday life. Yesterday, I had a rough time at the pitch watching the boys play. I just got so much unnecessary attention from everybody around that it was exhausting and draining for me. I am white. So!? However, I am looking forward to a great afternoon with a good friend, chatting and chomping on home made cookies. Simple everyday blessings. 


All in all, I am overwhelmed. But oh so thankful for all that is going on in my world. 


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chillaxin' poolside

I don't take advantage of the beach as much as I should. I always tell myself that. Considering where I live, I should really purpose to enjoy myself when I can. It's not that I can't afford it, but I guess life just gets busy sometimes.

I pretty much begged Kelvin to take me to a resort for the day. We kept trying to find a day but things just kept coming up. We decided that today was the day and nothing was going to change that. 

My main reason for going was to try and even out this ugly tan I have on my back before my wedding. No one likes awkward tan lines in their wedding photos. 

I also wanted a day for just Kelvin and I to hang out. To enjoy being engaged. To just have fun with one another. We brought along some of the materials that we had been given for our marriage counselling and discussed it a bit. I am realizing more and more what a gift Kelvin is. A gift straight from God Himself. 

Half way through the day, I told Kelvin that we need to do this more often. He didn't agree. He then began to explain that this really isn't his thing. I guess I kind of got that vibe when he kept avoiding coming into the water to swim. I asked him what he likes to do then. His answer, 'play football. watch football. read about football.' 

This is actually the resort that my parents will be staying at when they come for the wedding. 

 I think I might even come by myself one day and just enjoy a day relaxing by the pool. Bring my bible, a couple books, and just hang out with God. That sounds like a lovely idea. 
The Kelvinator enjoying the pool on the sidelines.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Christmas for the Boys!


I had a good friend email me the other day telling me about the World Vision Christmas Gift Catalogue that she received. Many charity organizations send out “Alternative Gift Catalogues” during the Christmas season giving people the option of giving their loved ones a donation in their name. My friend then asked me if we have set up anything like that. She said that she would love to give to something a little closer to home rather than World Vision. She got me thinking.

After a little brainstorming and talking it over with Kelvin, we have decided that we would love to bless our team with new team t-shirts and a large basket of food to take home to their families!

This year has been incredibly tough for Kenyans. Some of their staple foods have doubled in price in the last 8 months making it harder and harder to fill their bellies. While food prices have soared, salaries and unemployment rates have stayed the same. Our boys have struggled big time. Barely a week goes by when we don’t have a couple of them approach us because they can’t pay their rent or they aren’t eating. It breaks our hearts. Even Kelvin and I are feeling it and have had to cut some yummy foods out of our diets. Plus, it’s hard to treat yourself to homemade peanut butter cookies when your friends are eating one small meal a day.

Our goal is to give 25 boys maize meal, cooking oil, sugar, bread, milk, beans, onions, tomatoes, salt, paraffin, margarine and even meat (which they hardly eat anymore). On top of that, we will have team t-shirts made for all the boys. They have been asking for official team t-shirts (that they can show up to games in) for a while now.

We can purchase all of this for only $25 per boy!

We want to appreciate the boys and their commitment to the team. We also want to share Christmas, one of the most important holidays for us, with them.

If you would like to give one of your loved ones a Christmas gift for a deserving young man, you can make your donation on the left hand side of this blog. Please make sure to write “Christmas Gift” under the ‘donation to be used for’ tab. I will then send you a card that you can give to your loved one explaining the donation you made in their honour.

So if you are struggling to find a meaningful gift for someone who seems to have everything (or is really hard to shop for ;)) why not consider the gift of giving? Please pass this on and encourage others to take part.

Thanks for helping us bless our boys this Christmas!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thankful for Community

It's not easy to pick up your life in Canada, everything you know and all the people you know best, to come and settle in a completely foreign country. A country where you stand out because you look different, you talk different, your ways of life are different, etc. A country where you can't speak the national language and the culture is so upside down compared to yours. As much as I love it here, there are definitely days I miss home. I miss my family most. But I think I miss things that are easier. Life in Kenya is tough and sometimes I just need a break. A break from the heat, the dirt, the noise, the constant heckling, the poverty that surrounds me, the bland food, and so on.

I think I will be forever torn. Good thing I don't have to be on earth forever but have a citizenship in heaven that I belong to.

However, since I have returned, I have been overwhelmed by the community that God has placed me in. I have REAL friends - not just people that I think I should try help or minister to - but true, beautiful, wonderful friendships. I have an awesome church that is not perfect but probably one of the godliest churches I have ever attended. I have people who love and care for me. I am so honoured that one of my best girlfriends' here, Rahab, is throwing me a surprise bridal shower (she told me she was but I don't know any of the details) and inviting all my girlfriends to come. I can walk through the streets and randomly bump into people I know. I don't feel different from them. I don't feel like the white girl who they have to be nice to. I feel like one of them. And they treat me like one of them.

And I didn't make all these friends through Kelvin. If Kelvin wasn't in my life, I think I would still have this community around me.

Of course, it has taken me 3 years (yes it has been 3 years since I first moved to Mombasa) to build these friendships. I had to do a lot of adapting and learning of the culture and what goes on in their lives. But I have integrated to the best that I can (although I still can't speak swahili fluently - that is my next goal as I am really starting to feel the pressure to learn it). People appreciate when you understand them. People appreciate it when you don't think of yourself as greater or better off than them, or like you are here to come and help them because you are rich and they are poor. People want love, acceptance, friendship, fellowship, care, and to feel like they belong.

And that's what I feel here in Mombasa. Like I belong.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Varnishing Queen

Ok, so it took me a week to get it finished. Things just kept popping up and days passed without me even realizing. However, today my little wooden stand is finally finished. 

I know this is a minor job but it is the first time I have ever done varnishing (or any sort of handy work like this). Kelvin kept giggling at me as all I could think about was getting home to varnish. I just love to learn new things. 

As I suspected, I didn't use half the varnish that I was told to buy. So I saved myself $1.50 and half a can of varnish. However, I am still scraping varnish off my skin and had to do a minor haircut after I dipped the tips of my hair into the can of varnish. Whoops! 

My house is getting closer to being mould free!

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Wishing You Success"

"He wants a success card. You must get him a success card." We were told (not asked or requested) by a cousin of ours. Her son is doing his KCPE exam in a few short weeks. He needs a card wishing him success. 

In Kenya, students are require to do two national exams. At the end of primary school, they do their KCPE exam which determines which high school they can go to. And then, in grade 12, they must do another exam, the KCSE, which pretty much determines the rest of their lives (aka which university they go to and what kind of job they will be able to get). I personally dislike this system. It takes all that you have learned in school and puts it into one exam that determines everything. In Grade 12, they are actually tested on everything they have learned since gr.9. That's a lot to study. The system needs to change. 

So the exams are approaching (actually the gr. 12's have already started theirs). These tacky success cards are found everywhere now. Every street corner they sell them. Prayers are being said all over the country. Some churches dedicate whole sessions just to pray for the "candidates" doing their exams. 

I never pray they do well. I always pray that they get what they deserve. If they study hard enough, I pray that they get the result they worked hard for. Sometimes I think people rely solely on prayers saying God will give them the grade they need. It's all in His will. So if they get a terrible grade, "It's God's will". I disagree. Its because you probably didn't study hard enough. God's will is that you work hard. 

But I'll save that ramble for another day. 

So I bought our cousin's son the tackiest card I could find. These are a big hit. If the card is not completely over decorated and it doesn't play music when you open it up, its a let down to the one receiving it. 

I just noticed that the card actually says "Happy Birthday" on it even though it is a success card!!!!! Haha, Kelvin and I are having a good chuckle over that. Only in Kenya....

It lights up inside and plays a keyboard version of "Fleur de Lys" inside. 

He is bound to be successful with this card. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I am about ready for a washing machine.

I woke up early to gather all my stuff that needs to be washed. We had called our guy who washes our clothes to come today. After two weeks of pouring rain and crazy humidity, the sun has finally appeared long enough for my clothes to dry.

All the humidity has made everything smell. And if anything was wet and put into the laundry bin, there is a good chance it started growing mould. 

Its now about 9:30am and the guy as yet to appear. He usually shows up around 7am. We have tried to call him but his phone is not working. Now, all my stinky, mouldy clothes are in piles needing to be washed. UGH!! 

A few days ago Kelvin and I went to a friend's house for lunch. My friend, who is a swiss lady, said that the first thing she bought was her washing machine and that she doesn't think she could live without it. I had been asked if I wanted to buy one but I figured that I can employ someone to do it, help them support themselves, and just save a whole swack of money. 

I am now thinking otherwise. I have been looking at a few machines in the supermarkets and realized they are much cheaper than I had thought. The temptation to buy one is stronger than ever. Maybe we will have to buy ourselves a wedding gift. 


On top of all the stinky clothes, my wooden shelves have gone almost completely mouldy. I noticed a funny smell coming from it and when I looked closer, I found a ton of green fuzz all over it. I spent some time wiping it down and decided that I needed to seal it somehow. We went to a local carpenter that said that we just need clear varnish and he will do it for us for about $1.50. Great, I thought. However, after we talked a little more, I realized that he was trying to jip me by making me buy more varnish than I needed. He told me that 1 litre would do. I talked to my dad and he said that he used a quarter of a litre to do 3 coats on his entire wooden kayak. So I was suspicious as to why this guy said 1 litre. In the end, I resolved to do it myself. Why should I pay someone when I could do it myself? Plus, it will be a good learning experience for me! 

Then I tried to attack the army of ants that collected in my kitchen over night. Sneaky little brats. I shooed them away, got rid of the source (my garbage), and then closed off their tiny hole where they were escaping from. I watched them scurry around, as if their world was ending. Harsh, I know. But now my kitchen is ant free. 

Funny enough, as I was spending time with God today, I randomly asked for supernatural patience today. I don't usually pray like that but God must have known that I will need it. 

Praying my washing man will show up soon! 


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

School Progress

Today, Kelvin and I decided that we had to go check up on some of our boys at school. We currently have four in Mombasa at four different institutes all studying four very different things. 

Our first stop was for a boy who needed us to go pay for him to go on a field trip with the school. We headed to the school ready to pay the fee. Once we got there, we had a chat with the dean of students and the boy's teacher who told us that he was not impressed with our young man. Apparently he was caught cheating in one of his exams. He was asked to bring in a guardian and said he didn't have one (we fill in as his guardians as his parents live in another part of the country). They told him he needed to write three apology letters to the school. When I read the letters, I giggled. They read something like this, "I sincerely apologize for being caught cheating in my exams." He was sorry he was caught. Not sorry he cheated. I think it was just an english mistake but I thought it was funny. 

The dean made the decision that he would not be allowed to go on the field trip because of his actions. Fair enough. The dean began to explain to us some of the crazy things that some kids do in their school. I started to realize that our kid was not out of the ordinary. 

The teacher then let us see some of his assignments and previous exams. We were shocked to see that he was one of the top students in the class. We are not sure why he felt he needed to cheat when he seemed to be pretty bright. None the less, the school handled it well and Kelvin plans to talk to him at practice tonight. There is another field trip in April that he will be able to attend. 

We then headed to the art school where our goalkeeper is studying. We have made pretty good relationships with the staff so they were happy to see us. Upon walking in, the receptionist said, "We tried calling you a few weeks ago but you couldn't be reached." I knew this wasn't good as I had given her my number in case something was not going well with our kid. She explained that he had missed almost 2 weeks of school and they were getting worried. After the 2 weeks,  he called and said he went upcountry for a burial. Kelvin and I looked at each other puzzled as he never mentioned this to us. I am pretty sure it was a lie. The real issue was that he didn't have the money to get to school and back. That made more sense. 

We met with his teacher who said that he is a bright kid with a very natural talent for art. She showed us some of his work (one of which is the picture below) and said that she was happy with his progress. But then she stops abruptly and says, "But he tunes out the last hour of class. The first hour he is focused but the second hour he seems to get tired. He always starts talking about soccer." We kind of giggled just because we know him so well and how he doesn't like to miss practice. We continued to talk to the lady about some other good and not so good things and how we can help. It was a very positive meeting. The teacher seems really invested in him which I really appreciate. 

A few things stood out to me with both of these meetings: 

1. The boys are naturally quite bright however it is their characters/behaviours that are hindering them. I find this all too true in so many instances around here. In as much as we can help people, if their characters/behaviours don't change, then it's hard to move forward. 

2. More often than not, it is poor teaching that makes kids not to do well. As I was looking through some of the marks of the first boy, I would notice that in some classes, no one got over 40% on a test. You can't tell me that all the students just didn't do well. We also had another boy in high school who got all D's and E's on his exams yet he was ranked 11th out of a class of 60. 

3. Parents/Sponsors/Guardians rarely check up on their kids. I think all the teachers we have met are so appreciative that we come and take time to check in with the kids. Sometimes there are some real issues that need to be sorted out but there is not effort from guardians. I think it also makes them pay more attention to our boys. 

4. Education is so different from the West. Half the time I just smile and nod when I see something I don't like or doesn't make sense to me (and that happens a lot). Growing up a teacher's kid and in a great education system is something that I can't take for granted.