Saturday, February 26, 2011

Small Getaway

I am writing this blog post from a small cyber cafe in Eldoret town as I wait for my ride to Ilula. I think I have spent more time traveling in the last week than I have staying put.

I am still struggling. Culture shock, homesickness, uncertainty, big decisions, whatever it is, is taking a toll on me. I needed some time to just get away, relax, get my head in order and seek God big time. So I left Mombasa and came to my little piece of heaven on earther, Ilula. I am not sure how long I will stay but I look forward to seeing all those beautiful children, sitting and talking with my Kenyan family, and having some good one on one with God.

I am asking for your prayers. Pray for my time here in Eldoret that I would get some focus and direction. Pray that I would have the perseverance to move on and the boldness to make some big decisions if need be. Pray that in all this, I would draw closer to my King and know Him more. Just keep praying.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Stuffy head

I knew it would happen sooner or later. I have come down with a terrible head cold. I started to feel it coming on when I was flying over here (they make the plane cabins so cold these days) and I have been fighting it for the past 5 days. Finally, it peaked yesterday. I ended up fast asleep for about 3 hours yesterday afternoon which was surprising since my neighbours seem to think they run a disco club out of their house during the day. Even amongst the booming base, I managed to stay cool and sleep away the afternoon.

Speaking of cool, it is near non-existant right now. I had forgotten how hot Mombasa gets this time of year.  You can't go anywhere without beads of sweat dripping down your face. Even if you are standing in the shade you are sweating profusely. Plus, we kept having power outages all day yesterday so my fan would turn on and off at its own will (although the power outages were nice because the music upstairs would stop and the peace and quiet would come).

Adjusting back to Mombasa has been difficult. I am still battling some culture shock. I am finding things that I used to love, I just can't stand anymore. I love locking myself in my apartment because I don't want to face what is outside. Plus, my apartment has a nice cool breeze that runs through it so I can feel cool, somewhat. My transition has not been easy. So I have decided to take a small trip up to eldoret (my kenyan home) to visit all my loved ones up there. My culture shock is sucking the life out of me and I need my joy and zeal back. Pray for me as I take the journey tonight and pray that I will overcome this culture shock and begin to enjoy my surroundings again.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tell somebody what the Lord has done for you...

Tell somebody what the Lord has done for you. Let them know, He's a God who cares....

Yesterday was a much better day. We got up and had a wonderful breakfast at my favorite coffee place in Nairobi. We then headed off to church. As we rounded the corner to church, a young street boy started following us asking us for some money. Normally, I just shrug them off (its hard to tell which ones are genuine and which ones aren't) but yesterday was different. As he was following us, my friend starting talking with him. Just as we approached the church gates my friend says in swahili, "Come on, let's go to church." The boy looked hesitantly at us. The boy began to explain to us that the guards at the church won't let them in the gates. They get shooed away when they try to go to church. That saddened me. Isn't a church suppose to be a safe place for all people not an elite place for the rich? Would Jesus turn the street boys away? I don't think he would. We assured him that he would get in because he was with us so my friend grabbed his hand and we walked through the gates with no questions asked.

We were a bit early for church so we stood outside and chatted with the boy for a while. We offered to take him for lunch after church but he kindly requested that we forgo lunch and instead buy him some food for his family. He explained to us that his parents were dead and his grandmother looks after him and his two sisters. His grandmother has no source of income so often they will have only one meal a day if she can gather something.His story broke our hearts. We were still being cautious because some of these kids do make up these stories just so that we would give them things. However, this boy seemed to genuine.

We entered the church and he sat in between us. The church service was amazing. It was so refreshing. My heart was so content as we danced and sang praises to our King in swahili. Reminded me why I love this place so much. The sermon was amazing. The pastor is a great teacher and theologian. I love listening to him. I kept looking down beside me at the young boy and was amazed at how attentive he was. I am pretty sure he could recite the whole sermon back to us if we asked him too; that is how focused he was on it. He even knew many of the songs and was singing along and dancing. He came out of the service with my appreciation. He told us how much he enjoyed it.

We then left and went for lunch. We ordered the boy a huge hamburger with fries and a coke. He was so appreciative. He gobbled it down so fast and left nothing on his plate. We had some time to just chat with him and learn a bit more about his life. After wards, we took him to the grocery store and filled up a basket of basic groceries for his family. You could tell that every time we put something in his basket, he was overwhelmed. We kept asking what he needed and I don't think he knew what to say. He was so overwhelmed and appreciative. He kept saying thankyou, thankyou, thankyou.

It was time for us to leave him after we had spent the better part of our day with him. We gave him some money to get home. He turned to us and said,'Thank you and may God bless you very much'. It was so wonderful watching him walk away with a huge bag of food for his family. He was such a blessing to us.

The first song we sang at church said, "Tell somebody what the Lord has done for you. Let them know He's a God who cares..."

That's what I wanted the boy to know. I wanted him to know that God cares for him so deeply. I want him to go home and tell his family what God did for him yesterday and the way that God has not forgotten them. Because He hasn't.

The rest of the day was great. We had some friends stop by to visit me. Then in the evening, I was able to meet up an american friend that I had met when I was in Kenya in 2007. We chatted the night away in a local restaurant. It was so great.

I went to bed thanking God for reminding me why I love this country. Ok, there are still things that drive me crazy (like Kenyan immigration - had more issues with them this morning which made me want to pull my hair out) but for the most part, I really do love it here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Culture Shock

I have arrived in Kenya safe and sound. I had two smooth, long flights with a large layover and even managed to get my bags all in tact. I was so grateful just to have my feet on the ground once we landed in Kenya. 

However, today has been a really rough day for me. My culture shock kicked in within an hour or so of arriving. I really don't know what triggered it. There is such a flurry of emotions and thoughts and feelings running through my head. I know that there were things that definitely contributed to it like the terrible service I got on my Kenya Airways flight. They were the worst flight attendants I have ever encountered in my life. I was one of the lucky ones who didn't get coffee spilt all over their lap. 

Then the person who was suppose to come pick me up was late due to circumstances that couldn't be avoided. I then was told that my accommodation plans had fallen through so I needed to find another  place to stay for a couple days before I head to Mombasa. I was brought to a cousin's house who offered for me to stay there but once I got in, I knew I wouldn't be comfortable there. At this point, I was exhausted from all the travelling, desperately needed to brush my teeth and shower, and would have loved some good quiet time with just me. I was not going to find any of this at the cousin's house. So I decided that I would like to stay in a cheap but decent hotel that I know of downtown. Well, we were so far out of the city that we needed to get a matatu to get to a taxi that would come and pick up all my luggage and then drive all the way to town. The friend I was with needed to go to a bank before it closed at 2pm and we found out that the only one that wouldn't have huge line ups just happened to be in the largest slum in Africa. So we took a cruise through the slum and waiting outside while my friend did some banking. This slum is so overwhelming with all the poverty, smells, sewage, laziness, dirt, garbage, etc. I have toured it before but today was probably not the best day to do it again. 

Finally we arrived at a hotel and booked in. I had a good cry because I was so overwhelmed and just wanted my parents. I was almost ready to get on the plane and head back to Canada. I then slept for 5 hours which was a combination of exhaustion and jet lag. I woke up in tears again but after some prayers and a good talk and walk around the block, I am feeling a bit better. 

This whole day just reminded me of the first time I came to Kenya in 2005. I was miserable for the first 2 weeks of my trip. Just like today, I felt so out of place, was so tired, trying to adjust to the culture, and just questioning my life in general. Today was a flashback to those horrible two weeks. However, looking back at it, I learned so much from that experience that totally helped me get through this day. So that was a blessing in itself. 

So please pray for me. Pray for wisdom, direction, discernment, peace, joy, etc. I know I love Kenya. I know I do. This trip is just a little different as I really don't have much of a game plan. Tonight I pondered what my days would actually look like and I honestly couldn't think of much. I pondered some of my decisions and relationships in my life. I pondered about how nice it would be to be at home with my family right now. 

But I  did manage to open my bible today and the first verse I read was Proverbs 20:24 (the Message) 
"The very steps we take come from God; otherwise how would we know where we are going?"

Thank you God for guiding my steps even when I don't fully understand where I am going...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In the airport again

Seems like just yesterday I was in the Vancouver airport. I guess it has only been 3 months since I got home back to Canada. To me it felt like 5 years but to my parents it was just too short of a visit home.

I guess this trip is a bit different. Most times I am going knowing what I will be doing. I know that I will have an organization to work with who will guide me and work with me for ministry. This time I am going on my own. I am not really accountable to any person or organization. I don't really have a specific job or ministry that I will be working with. My mindset is a bit different. I am going there to settle, to move, and try figure out life.

My packing was a bit different this time. Instead of packing enough supplies to last me a few months, I am packing things that I want to put in my home. My mom and I went shopping for a nice towel set yesterday. I have some kitchen supplies and even some luxury foodstuff. I brought DVDs and tupperware containers.

Also my heart is in a different place. I am not so much preparing myself for ministry and the work that is waiting for me there. I am going, with a willing and obedient heart, to do whatever God asks of me. That could mean starting an orphanage or getting job or going to school or something else. I really don't know.

Here are some more goodbye pics with my grandma and brother. I will miss these 2 people incredibly.

Whatever is going to happen, I know God is preparing me for it. I don't know how but I know that He is. And I am so excited for what is awaiting me in Kenya.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Departure Day

In only a few short hours I will be backing out of my drive way in Castlegar and on my way back to Kenya. I am so ready to go but I am terribly sad to be leaving my parents behind. My mother and I will be driving to Vancouver together over the next two days but this will be goodbye for my dad this morning. The tears haven't hit hard yet but the anticipation is killing us. Why does it have to be so hard? I guess I am blessed that my parents actually care and are extremely sad that I am leaving. Better than having parents who don't care what you are doing. I am so blessed. 

My bags are pretty much packed and ready to go. I keep finding new things to stuff in them trying to reach my weight capacity. I am given 50lbs per bag and I want to use all the 50lbs if I can. I think I have done a pretty good job so far. I am getting pretty good at fitting my life into a suitcase. 

This week has been wonderful. It hasn't been too stressful. I have been had to chance to say goodbye to most of my friends. I have had some precious time with my parents and some wonderful quiet time with God. I am just ready to go!

I got to have supper with my dear friend Amber. She used to babysit my brother and I and teach us piano when I was in elementary school. Then when I moved to vancouver to go to college, she moved in with me for a year. She made the transition to college life away from home so much easier. She taught me to eat well and keep the house clean and manage money. Now she has a new little apartment and a great new job. I am so grateful for her friendship. 

We had a 6 week memorial for my Deda on Saturday. Doukhobors believe that 6 weeks after a person's death, their soul still remains on earth and then transitions into heaven. This belief comes from the timeline of when Jesus died on the cross and finally ascended into heaven. They have worked it out to be about 6 weeks. 

The day of the memorial, we usually head to the gravesite for a small service of singing russian hymns and prayers and saying a few nice words about the deceased. Then we all join together and have a big lunch. We held the big lunch at our place and so my Baba and my mom were cooking all the food the night before. My Baba is so short, we put her on a stool.

A small gathering of friends and family at Deda's grave. 

The graveyard hadn't been ploughed so we all had to hold onto each other as we trudged through the deep snow. Deda, the outdoors man that he was, would have been proud.  

I came home after the service only to find my precious pup digging in all my clothes. I had washed, ironed and nicely folded them in preparation for packing but I guess she decided to wreck all my nice piles. Maybe she is just tell me how much she doesn't want me to go. 

"I'm not moving!"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Busy last days

One week today and I will be boarding my plane back to Kenya. I am so much more relaxed this time. I am not sure why. I feel like I am just going home. I know what to expect so I am not so anxious about uncertainty. I am so excited for what the next few months hold for me. I am slowly learning to surrender everything to Him including my plans. I realized that I often say that I surrender my life to Him but I really only mean that I surrender my life to Him when my life is going according to my plans. I  am starting to let go of my plans a little more and allow more room for God to guide me. It is so important to plan and to vision what your life will be like, but not to hold on to them so tight that it blurs your sense of where God is leading you. Practical lessons that are constantly challenging me. 

My days are busy right now. I am trying to fit everyone in for one last goodbye. I think people are used to me coming and going so much that it is not as dramatic anymore. Although this time is a little different because I don't know when I will be coming back to Canada. 

And packing is turning out to be a bit more thinking than I had intended. I am already trying to figure out what I need, what I can and can't get there, what I want to bring from home, what I could leave behind, how to maximize my baggage allowance, and so on. How do you pack not knowing when you are coming home? It's a good thing I am not too attached to my things in Canada.

Today I received the most beautiful card from my grandmother. Inside, I found my grandfather's old book of psalms that he used to take with him to Sunday school. Inside it is written, "Douglas MacGregor, 1932." I am definitely taking that along with me. 

Pray with me for the next few days. I will be leaving Castlegar on Tuesday to go see my brother for one night and then off to Vancouver to see my beloved grandmother one more time then I fly out on Thursday evening. Pray for safe travels (and a peaceful heart for me). Pray for precious times with my family over the next few days. Pray that I would put God first in every step I take. 

Chloe and Alivia McKenzie! Beautiful girls with beautiful hearts. I love hanging out with these girls and walking with them as they experience teenage hood. They are so much fun!

I have an extra suitcase designated just for the Rehma Boys' equipment that my community has donated to them. I cannot wait to see them all dressed up in their new gear! 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

More Socks!

As I mentioned in my previous post, a local sporting store, Mallards, offered to give us 24 pairs of brand new soccer socks. I went up there to claim my socks and, to my surprise, he handed me this gigantic bag full of socks.  Inside there were over 50 pairs of high-quality, brand new soccer socks! Amazing! Thank you Mallards!

Rehma Boys Jerseys!

A  few months ago I got an email from a dear friend of mine from Trail, B.C. She said that she was the president of her grad class and that they wanted to do something for the Rehma Boys. I mentioned a few ways they could help, she talked about it with her class and they decided that they would raise the funds and make their jerseys!

The local news did an article on the project. You can read it here.

I am so excited to see the boys' faces when they see the jerseys for the first time. They are going to be so excited to have their own, personalized jerseys!

I am now just getting ready to go to a local sporting store where the owner (and a friend of the family), after seeing the article, wants to donate brand new Adidas soccer socks for the boys!

Our boys are going to be the best looking team in all the city!!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snuggles with Lucy

Our dog Lucy has been such an important part of our lives for the past 13 years. Recently she has been having some health problems (crazy seizure/vertigo/stroke-like attacks) which has left her a little broken. We really don't know what we would do without her. She brings so much joy and love to our family. We are not big animal lovers but we sure do love our dog. This morning she did something that I have never seen her do. She crawled up on my chest, dug her nose into my shoulder, and fell asleep. She usually doesn't like having her face close to ours but I am not sure why this morning was different. I laid for an hour on the couch, snuggling with my precious pup. 
She fell asleep on the armrest of our chair the other day which is also something that we have never seen her do before. Isn't she just adorable?