Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pass Creek, Wedding Dress Shopping, and Old Friends

Today has been the coldest day since I got home to Castlegar. The clouds rolled in early this morning covering the blue sky and making way for some cool breezes. It's the perfect day to stay inside, enjoy some coffee, and work on the computer. With such beautiful sun, you almost feel guilty staying inside. Now, I have a great excuse to continue plugging away on my computer. 

A couple days ago, a few friends and I went to Pass Creek Falls, a place we used to go all the time when we were growing up. It's the best summer, friends, rope-swing, secret in the forest. It looks like it should be in a movie. I am just so amazed that I got to grow up in a place like this. 

The water fall is a bit dangerous but the pool at the bottom is pretty harmless. Doesn't that rope swing just scream 'Come try me!'. 

My childhood friend, Nikki, trying to be playful like we used to be.

On Monday I got to go wedding dress shopping!! It's one of those days that you always dream about and then when it gets here, it's just not as wonderful as you think it is. Ok, maybe that's just my opinion. 

The whole process was a lot more exhausting, emotional, and tiring than I thought it would be. It was definitely FUN! I don't want to sounds proud but, to be completely honest, almost every dress I tried on looked awesome on me. I was the perfect wedding dress size and shape. The ladies I worked with thought I was one of the easiest brides to dress. I kept getting dresses thrown at me to try on because they all looked good on me (with the exception of a couple). The only problem was that now I had so many to chose from. I didn't try one on and go, "yes that's the one!"I had to really think and decide between so many beautiful dresses. One of the biggest things to consider was lightness and movability. It will be crazy hot in December in Kenya so I didn't want anything I was going to die in. Also, I really want to dance up a storm so I have to be able to move (and pee) in it. In the end, I think we did find the perfect dress for my Kenyan wedding.

Mom and I exhausted after a long day of trying on dresses. 

Nikki and I have been best friends since Gr. 2. Mom dug up this photo of us at a school ski day. I think we were in gr. 4 or 5 in this picture. 13 years later and we are still best friends!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Picking up a Stranger

I used to work across town during the summers. Every morning I would drive to work secretly hoping that I would get a chance to pick up a hitch hiker. For some reason, I had this heart to pick some person up and give them a lift while pouring out some love on to them in my car. I wasn't going to pick up just anyone. It had to be a girl and I preferred if she was alone. I wasn't willing to drive them past where I worked so I would have had to drop them off there and then they would have had to find a ride further.

After two summers, I didn't get the chance to pick up any one.

After my failed mission, I was driving up to Pemberton, on the coast of British Columbia, with a friend of mine when I started telling her my desire to one day pick up a hitch hiker. She laughed at me and promised that if we saw one along the way, we would pick her up.

To our surprise, we turned the corner and there was a cute girl with high heel shoes and a classy pea coat sticking her thumb out at us. We burst into laughter at the sheer absurdity of the situation and pulled over to let her in. She definitely wasn't the grungy, torn jeans, dreaded hair, smoke in one hand kind of girl I had imagined picking up. Instead she had a suitcase with wheels and a short mini skirt with J.Lo style sunglasses holding back her hair. We gave her a ride till Whistler (we learned she was a professional snowboarder) and then continued our journey.

However, yesterday I got the chance that I had been waiting for for two summers.

I was driving home last night and passed two ladies on the other side of the road of me. They were trying to get a ride to the direction I was just coming from. As I looked in my rear view mirror, I recognized the girl's face. She was a girl that I went to elementary school with and who I hadn't seen in probably 10 years.

Then my stomach dropped realizing that this was my chance. And now I actually have to do it. I kept driving trying to convince myself that it was not a good idea but God kept nagging at my spirit. I put on my blinker and turned around.

I drove passed her and parked in a near by parking lot. I called out her name and she looked at me puzzled. She came closer and said, "Oh my God! Nikole MacGregor?!!" We gave each other a big hug and started chatting about life. I asked where they were headed. It was a town about 20km away (and where I had just come from). I hesitated again not really wanting to drive all the way back (and I had a massive headache and just wanted to get home to some painkillers) but God kept nudging me to take them home.

So that's what I did.

And it was delightful.

They were so grateful for the ride and I was so grateful to catch up with this precious girl. I drove back home (still with a gigantic headache) happy that I obeyed God's nudging, stepped out of my comfort zone, and helped a sister out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wedding Bliss!

It's the day so many girls dream of, me included.

I always had this idea of how I thought my wedding would be. I knew the type of dress I wanted, what the cake looked like, who my bridesmaids would be, where I would go on honeymoon, where the wedding would take place, what my engagement ring would look like, etc, etc.

Now that I am actually at that stage in my life, I really don't care so much about all that stuff.

Nothing I had imagined has actually come true (although later on in life I said that I would love to get married in Africa). I never thought I would actually marry an african. My ring looks much different than I thought it would but now that I have it, I realize it's perfect. None of the bridesmaids I thought would be standing next to me will be there. My colours are navy blue and baby yellow which doesn't quite match the red rose pedals on my cake that I dreamt of having. I don't think I wanted to get married on the beach (I actually wanted a village wedding).

I am in the middle of doing all the planning. It's been tons of fun. My bridal shower is coming up in a couple weeks. Invitations are ready. Venue is booked. Wedding dress shopping will be done next week. Honeymoon is still to be decided.

But can I tell you what I am really excited for?

Getting married.

I am so excited to be a wife! To share life with my best friend, to have a constant companion to do life with, to watch God use our relationship for His glory, to hang out with the Kelvinator all the time.

As much as the wedding is going to be an amazing day of celebration, I am really excited for the marriage.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Glorious High Speed, Unlimited, Wireless Internet

Today I am totally lovin' my high speed, unlimited, wireless internet. Before I left Mombasa, I made a whole list of things I want to do on the internet while I am home. In Kenya, I have to pay per megabyte that I download so I try to avoid downloading videos, large files, pictures, or Skype. Plus, my internet is quite slow so even if I wanted to watch a video off of YouTube, I would have to wait half an hour for it to download.

But today I have had my eyes glued to my computer screen (ok not quite all day but whenever I had a little extra time). I have watched a few episodes of my favourite TV show, Modern Family. I have written countless emails and redesigned my blog (what do you think of the new look?). I have creeped on old high school friends on Facebook.

While I am home I want to download movies, music, and podcasts off iTunes (and I am thinking about getting a Kindle). I want to do some research on some business ideas I have for Mombasa. I also want to update the Rehma Boys website (I will be sharing some exciting news about that soon!) and look at possible funding options for our projects. I need to catch up with some friends across the country on Skype. I might upload some of the video clips I have to YouTube and then share them on my blog. I will try to figure out how to use twitter and finish my online travel writing course.  And then I plan to just watch funny videos or useless stuff that my brother sends to me and thinks is hilarious.

I am thanking God for a whole 6 weeks of fantastic internet!

I love that I can take my computer outside on our deck and watching the ferocious river pass by!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Summer in the Kootenays

One of the main reasons I decided to come home was to enjoy summer in Castlegar.  Summer in the Kootenays is to die for! Since I have been home, we have had endless sunshine. Today, my family and I had a little impromptu family bonding when we pulled out some chairs in the back yard, made a pot of coffee, and chatted as we looked out over the gorgeous columbia river. I have spent hours on my deck friends and family catching up on life and all that it entails. I got to see many precious friends and share in lots of laughs. It's been so joyful! (although I am missing the Kelvinator big time). 

My mom bought me my favourite flowers and had them waiting for me in the house when I stepped in. Love the gerbra daisies! 

My brother also acquired possibly the cutest, most fun loving, playful cats while I was away. The brilliant brother that I have named them fish and sue. Yup, a cat named fish. Try figure that one out.

They love to snuggle and play with each other. 

My parents have been really involved in the BC Senior Games this past week. Dad and I went to Nelson to check out the dragon boat racing. 

Nelson's signature orange bridge.

I spent all of last night with ear plugs stuck in my ears. Nikki took me to the drag races in spokane. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Nikki didn't tell me that my arm hairs would vibrate from all the noise. They even had cars that had a jet engine on them. They only went about 350 biggy.  

And I am totally lovin' hanging out with my BFF, Nikki. I love that she is only a quick 5 mins down the road. We are getting a good dose of cards and tea! 

I got news today that our new captain, Kadenge, was accepted into an awesome agricultural program! Kelvin called my parents this morning with so much joy and pride to tell them that his 'son' got in. This agricultural program is put on by one of my favourite organizations, Empowering Live International. I know that he will be in good hands for the next year. 

I am looking forward to another great week in the sun! 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Feet Firmly on the Ground

I made it! I landed early this morning in my hometown of Castlegar. My parents anxiously stood inside as I walked off the plane. Big hugs and a couple tears followed that. My brother stayed up after working a night shift just to come and say hi to me. We quickly grabbed my bags and went home to sit on the deck as a family, drink a cup of coffee, and catch up. My heart is glad. 

The trip was good. My stomach took a day or so to settle once I landed in Vancouver. I stayed a couple days with my grandma and then hopped on a plane this morning to Castlegar. I praised God the entire flight home! I plugged my iPod in and sang praises to him (silently, of course) as I soared in the skies. What an amazing country I was born in! 

We had a visitor from Canada just before I left. He was so kind to bring Kelvin a team Canada soccer jersey. Kelvin screeched like a little girl when he saw it. He loves it! I am proud of my Kenyan/Canadian man.

My grandma has to be one of my favourite people on earth. When I went to college, she became one of my best friends. I love drinking tea, eating chocolate covered digest cookies, and watching a movie in the afternoon with her. The last couple days were a blessing.

In Vancouver I got to catch up with a few friends. Patrick and I went to high school together and were grad dates. He live in Vancouver now. My mom offered up her season tickets to the BC lions football game and I invited Patrick along knowing he loved football. We had an amazing dinner and a great time at the game.

The game was terrible. The BC lions were awful to watch. People actually started leaving half way through the 3rd quarter. Nevertheless, it was a fun experience for me. 

Thanks for your prayers. I am happy to have my feet firmly on the ground again. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On flying and my stomach

My stomach does not do well with flying.

I don't get nauseas with the turbulence or anything.

I get anxious.

I dislike planes greatly. It is not a comfortable feeling at all. Thousands of meters in the air being held up by a man-made machine? Yup, awful.

I have read up on the safety of planes. They truly are one of the safest modes of travel. But that still doesn't calm my anxiety.

I had hoped to sleep on my flight to amsterdam but my mind was wide awake knowing that we are going 500kph miles above ground. I didn't eat anything except some fruit, crackers and water.

Now, I am waiting for my flight to Vancouver, anxious as can be. It's been almost 18 hours since I have eaten anything substantial.

Phillipians 4:6-7 keeps running through my head ... be anxious about nothing, be anxious about nothing, be anxious about nothing. 

Pray with me would ya? Pray that I would  start to enjoy flying. Pray I would find it relaxing rather than nerve wracking. I know God can do that for me. Pray that my feet land in Vancouver safely in the next 12 hours with a sound tummy.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I am gonna miss him

I asked God that, next time I fly home, I will have Kelvin with me. I guess that God's answer was No. 

So I will be leaving him behind as I head back home for a short 2 months.

I am going to miss him terribly. 

New shiny equipment!

Thanks to some awesome donors (and great bargaining skills by Coach K himself), we were able to purchase this nifty training equipment. Our boys love it! Even some younger boys have asked Kelvin to come earlier and train them for his practice with this equipment. He has given them to a couple of the boys to take care of and when he gets to the pitch, he notices they are covered in sand. He assumes the boys take them to the beach to practice in the mornings. If it keeps them out of trouble and doing something constructive with their time, then I am all for it! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My first piece of art

Wachira made this poster especially for Kelvin and me. All the names in green are the nick names of the boys on our team. He even spelled my name right. It is the first piece of art that I have displayed in my house. I look at it and smile. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Go back to Germany!"

I had a really strange encounter today.

I was waiting on the side of the road for a matatu (a public transport vehicle) when all of a sudden this older, muslim woman came out from under a shade and started yelling at me.

"Who do you think you are? Why do you come to Kenya?! You come and ruin us! Stay away from my husband! Are you a citizen? You think you can come here and disturb us? I will kill you! Go back to Germany!!"

She probably went on for a good 7 minutes just yelling at me words of hate. Meanwhile a large bus a school student pulled up right in front of me. All these heads popped out of the windows to see what the commotion was and started giggling to themselves as this woman blasted me. It was terribly embarrassing. Some people stopped just staring at her and staring at me and wondering what was happening. One guy asked me, "What happened?" I said, "I have no idea who she is. She just started yelling at me." She was getting really angry and I refused to give her the attention she was wanting from me. I thought she was moving closer to me and would try fight but she didn't. Eventually she settled down and went back to sit in the shade.

The whole thing broke my heart.

I know I didn't do anything. I had never seen the woman in my life. But she was obviously hurting. I suspect that she had been hurt by a white person somehow, maybe something to do with her husband because she kept telling me  to stay away from her husband. I didn't know if it was some crazy satanic attack or just a woman who had gone mad.

I went to my friend's place for lunch and told her the whole story. She told me that she was probably chizi (literally insane in the head). I didn't know because most crazy people I have encountered don't make sense when they talk. I actually had some crazy guy push me with his right hand in the middle of the street last week. I thought it was a friend who was trying to get my attention but it wasn't. I also had a guy tap my butt once. I turned around, gave him a stern look, and wagged my finger at him. I felt I could have slapped him or yelled at him but what would that do to a crazy man. However, this woman was speaking full english sentences and clearly knew what she was talking about.

It did make me think about how people see us whites. There are a ton of white people  in Mombasa. A lot of people come for holidays (tourism is the main industry here). Many of the older ones come and settle here seeing that life is cheaper and they can usually find a cute, young Kenyan to enjoy (note I said 'enjoy' not 'love'). Right now there are lots of young white people who have come on short volunteer things. I think it is great but there is definitely that feeling that they 'come to help the poor' and that sort of makes them superior (although most of ones I meet don't have that mentality at all but for some reason Kenyans just assume that about them). At my bible study the other night, the girls told me that, when a white is in a church, they assume they are a missionary, but when a white is wandering the street, they assume that they are sleezy.

These assumptions don't come from no where. There are whites who definitely make a bad reputation for all of us.

However, I want to be different. I think and pray about this a lot especially because I am marrying a Kenyan. We can't hide the fact that we are in a cross-cultural relationship but we do have the power to show people what a loving, selfless, Christ-centred relationship should be like no matter what the skin colour is. It will take a while to establish ourselves but it will happen eventually. Just the other day, one of my neighbours told Kelvin, "She isn't pregnant yet? Now I really believe you are Christians." This came from a young, sexy kenyan girl who married a rich, older white man who owns a few clubs in Mombasa. She sees the difference in us. Even as I walk through Kongowea, I am no longer just a white girl passing through. I belong to Kelvin and am respected for that. We still get cheeky comments here and there that hurt us, but we just shrug it off and keep going.

That woman is on my heart. I will keep praying for her and what even pain she is feeling. I will also be more careful of how I conduct myself in this city so I can portray Christ's love.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Things I am looking forward to

I leave for Canada in one week now. Since I booked my ticket last week, I have been dreaming of all the things I am looking forward to in Canada.

Here are a few of things I am really looking forward to:

  • A really good cup of coffee while sitting with my parents on our deck in the morning
  • Seeing my brother's new kittens, Fish and Sue, and hanging out with my old dog, Lucy
  • Going see-doing on the river with my brother 
  • Shopping for a wedding dress with my mother and close friends 
  • A BC Lions game with my high school grad date 
  • Having an afternoon of tea, cookies, and movies with Grandma
  • FOOD! Doritos, berries, cheese, steak, desserts, cookies, bagels, etc. This needs to be a list of it's own. 
  • High speed internet
  • Catching up with all my friends
  • Getting some new podcasts on my computer and looking at videos and pictures and other fun things that you just can't do with the internet in Kenya 
  • Playing crib with my best friend Nikki 
  • Beautiful hikes (I know that this has never been a desire of mine but now that I live in Mombasa, I am totally craving trekking through the mountains) 
  • Getting my laundry washed and dried in machines 
  • Wearing clothes that are a little shorter and a little tighter 
  • Driving 
  • Collecting some equipment for the boys and connecting with people who are sponsoring them
  • Planning a bridal shower
  • Attending one of my best friend's, Danika, wedding
  • Skyping with friends from all over the world for free
  • Catching up on all my favourite TV shows (especially Modern Family) 
  • Preparing to leave my family and be joined to my husband! 

I guess it's only fair if I list a few things I will miss in Mombasa: 

  • The Kelvinator! 
  • My thursday night bible study group 
  • The music (there are some really good tunes that are circulating right now) 
  • All my sweet friends 
  • The gorgeous beach 
  • Having a drink or two in the small, shady bars around my place 
  • Cheap street food 
  • Spending the evenings watching the boys play as the sun sets
  • Quiet afternoons in my house filled with coffee, reading, catching up on emails, and just being
  • The Kelvinator!

Biriyani and Beggars

Kelvin and I hunted high and low today for biryani. There are only a couple of restaurants in town that make really good biryani. We knew that Ramandan was coming up fast and most of these awesome restaurants close for the entire month of Ramandan.

We raced down the street to my favourite place, Tarboush, only to find that they closed today for the next month. Then Kelvin said that he knew of another place in Old Town Mombasa. Kelvin hadn't been there in years so we searched through the tiny streets trying to find the  place. Once we finally found it, we saw that it had closed too, so had the great restaurant beside it. We continued to walk up the street realizing that all the shops have closer. We came to understand that Ramadan started today. We missed it by one day. We thought of another restaurant, that wasn't run by Muslims, that had awesome biryani. After traipsing around in the hot sun for half an hour, we got to the restaurant only to be informed that they only make biryani on weekends. Tired and hot, we just settled for a random restaurant that had so-so biryani.

There was also an influx of beggars today. In Ramadan, Muslims tend to give more than usual. I remember a few years ago, a Muslim friend even gave to me after I told her about all the things in our house that needed repair. So beggars know they will earn more money this month so they are our in full force.

If you don't know what Ramadan is or have ever looked deeper into it, I would strongly urge you to do so. Muslims (approximately 1/3 of the world's population) are fasting for an entire month. Maybe in Castlegar you won't see the effects of it but in many other parts of the world, it's a big deal. The ironic thing is that more food is consumed during the month of Ramadan than other months. You see, Muslims only have to fast from sunrise to sunset. So first thing in the morning, they eat a large meal, and then at sunset, they eat another huge meal. Today, I was being pushed and shoved around in the supermarket by all the Muslim women preparing for the opening night of Ramadan tonight.

The league that the boys are in has been postponed till after Ramadan. Half of the players are Muslims and don't eat all day so they can't be expected to play a good game of soccer on a hungry stomach. I am also guessing that most of our boys won't show up to practice for this month.

Anyways, I guess I will just have to wait till I return to Mombasa to get my delicious plate of biryani.