Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My oldest friend in Mombasa

A few days after I first moved to Mombasa in November 2008, this young lady came and knocked on my door. She introduced herself as Nassim, our neighbour, and invited us to come over whenever we would like to. Her large Indian family owned the flats next to our house. Her immediate family lived on the 3rd floor. Eventually we became good friends. She used to come over and just hang out with us because she would be bored at home. I remember when she came over to help me sew up all the holes in our mosquito nets. When we had visitors, she would bring us cake as to relieve us from our hospitality duties. And in 2008, she came and spent a crazy Christmas at our house with all our friends! We used to head to her house about 3 nights a week for supper. Her family makes the best food around!! We loved the fellowship (and the awesome food-at the time I was not a master chef and cooking was not something that happened regularly in our house) and just the family atmosphere. 

We have kept in touch over the years. In the last year we have grown even closer. Since she is now finished high school and stays at home while I dictate my own schedule, we have more time to meet up.

Today I finally went to see her since the wedding. We sat and chatted for 2 hours and ate another awesome meal. This girl inspires me. She really goes against the grain of her culture. Funny enough, most of the things that come out of her mouth are quite biblical (she is a strict muslim). Today she was telling me of how she is getting constant marriage proposals. Young men come with their parents to her house and ask her parents if they will give Nassim to their son.  Her parents are pretty rad though in that they actually ask Nassim what she wants which is not usually the case in the Indian culture that they come from. Nassim has turned down every guy. She has dreams of actually getting an education and a career of her own. She told me today that, if she finds a husband who will support her dreams, then she will marry him. 

She tells me of her struggles of being a woman in her culture. She has been getting some flack from some members in her family (not her immediate family, like I said, they are rad) because she 'goes out' so often. When she goes out, she goes to sit at the cyber around the corner or runs errands for her parents. She isn't out galavanting getting into trouble. But just that she is a young woman out and about causes issues. She is also stressed over the pressure she has been getting to marry her cousin. Yes, marrying cousins is very common around here. She doesn't know if she wants to marry him or not and fears it will bring rifts in her family. But if I know this girl, she ain't gonna marry just because she is pressured. She will marry the right one for her. 

 We sat in her room and chatted. She insisted to cover her head as I took a picture. I then got upset because she didn't give me her beautiful smile that I always see. 
But there it is! She is a gem on the inside and out. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Insights into my everyday life

Some Canadian friends of mine, who live here in Mombasa, recently posted this list on their blog of how their lives have changed since they have moved here. I couldn't help but giggle through this list as so much of it rings true in my life. I think I have been here so long that I have forgotten that many of these things are not normal for Canadians. Now, they are my norm.  

Here is the list * my additions are in italics

I am tanned. In the weirdest of places. Permanent sandal tan...
My hands always smell like bleach. Bleach is one of my best friends here. I use it for almost everything.
I buy my produce from a person. 
I buy my meat at joint I would have never stepped into back home. 
Sweat... I could write an entire essay on sweating in Mombasa. It's nasty. 
My kids pretend to speak Swahili when they role play. I don't have kids but I am sure they will actually speak in swahili. 
The call to prayer is my clock. and my reminder to pray and study my bible
If I want hot water I have to boil it. Love my kettle. Best appliance I have ever purchased.
I can feel cold when it is 27 degrees. Weird, I know! Oh how I long for that temperature right now!
I home school my kids. Not sure if I will do this or not.
Explaining how one schools one's children at home is a daily event. I can only imagine the perplexed looks she gets over this one.
I am an employer. Currently  I don't employ anyone but, at one point, I was employing 5 people at my house.
Most my clothes have been made for me. Most thrift stores wouldn't accept my ratty clothes.
I clench my teeth often when I'm out. Processing about my surroundings. Yes.....all the time
Eat mango and pineapple everyday. Lets not forget the watermelon, bananas, oranges and passionfruits. 
Half of the things I cook are a flop...I used to know how to cook. If I cooked canadian food, they would flop too. I have learned to cook Kenyan food. It's easier and less flopable.  
Nairobi is my Regina. Nairobi is my Vancouver or Kelowna.
I haven't baked cookies in 7 months. I actually bake alot. Today I am making a big banana cake. 
Swallow a malaria pill once a week, and trick my 2 year into it too. I don't take malaria pills but sleeping under a net is a must and we constantly have a can of DOOM handy in the house. 
Haven't been in a Walmart for a long time. I'm good with that. I miss Walmart. A lot. 
I bath instead of shower. If I want hot water, I bath in a bucket. Otherwise, it's a cold shower. 
Water is used with thought. Water is precious. You don't realize it until you don't have clean, unlimited water that flows from your tap. 
The wind is a gift from God. Truly.
I live with ants. Although it has gotten better in the last while. Still I'm always thinking, "Will the ants come if I leave this here?"Amazing how tolerable I have become with bugs. Thumb-sized cockroaches don't freak me like they used to.
Our family can eat out for 8-10 dollars. Nice. I like that one. Kelvin and I eat out at about $2 in Kongowea. Although, I am becoming more cheap. I can make a big meal at home for about 70cents. 
Years of being told to drink my water...and I do now...without making myself. I think I drink too much water for my own good, if that is even possible. 
I haven't driven in 7 months or more. I really miss driving and having that freedom. 
I rarely wear makeup(hard to apply on top of sweat) and my hair is always frizzy. My hair goes bonkers here. I do wear make up but it melts away after an hour or so. 
Can't throw food away like I used to. Not when you have friends who are not even eating...
Often don't know what anyone is saying. Smile and nod. Yes, this is how I get through my days.
Sleeping under a heavy blanket has become my idea of a luxury. Oh to be cold! 
My feet are NEVER cold. When they are (in Nairobi), it's heaven. Lately my feet have been burning hot. Actually, I run them under cold water several times a day especially before I sleep. If I wake up in the middle of the night to use the toilet, I must wet my feet.
I live in a city. Of around 800,000 people. Castlegar can't even compare.
I live in an apartment. I love the security but hate the lack of space and privacy and having my own yard. 
I know some Swahili. Some being, a little. I know quite a bit but still not enough.
My kids drink soda...often. I drink a bottle or two of soda a day. Worse, I call it soda instead of pop. 
Driving on the left side of the road is normal now. Yes, I forget that other people do it differently.
Jon and I are falling asleep every night at 9:00pm or earlier. I am zonked by 9:30 with Kelvin.
I don't have a landline. i.e. I have a cell phone...of my own...that I know how to use. We have 4 cell phones for the different lines and service providers.
I have a gas stove.  I light it with a match.
No drier for the laundry. Which I don't mind. The sun is fine. Just gotta make sure you turn your clothes inside out or the sun will discolour them.
We do have a washing machine but most of the time our clothes are washed by hand. Washing machine=glorious. Although I still have to wash a few things by hand too.
My bath tube is in a different room from the toilet. Handy. Not my case. In my old house, the shower head was directly over the toilet. Not so handy. Right now, my shower has no curtain so gets everything wet. Annoying.
I sleep under a net. And feel like a princess...a princess who won't get malaria. 
I never wear pants. Too hot to.
Monkeys come visit us about once a week. No squirrels. We don't have so may animals around us except the odd herd of goats.
Most of my friends don't have an oven...nor would they want one. They would rather have a large sound system. Weird, I know. 
I carry my two year old on my back with a piece of fabric knotted around my shoulders. Definitely, when I have babies. 

Hope that gives you a glimpse of my lovely Kenyan life.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

16 ladies

My fears have been relieved. Saturday was a success and a ton of fun.  I had 16 lovely ladies come and join me for an afternoon of games, talking, laughing, and eating. To my surprise, I had about 11 muslim girls. They were so cute! They all dressed up in their prettiest bui bui's and put on make up and lots of nice perfume. One girl even made a rainbow pattern in her hair! I was told that some were even invited to a wedding but turned it down to come hang out with me. Yes, they were going out for a girls afternoon and needed to dress the part. 

We played some games where the girls got pretty rowdy. Lots of noise. Then I had a serious talk about them on the topic of Mercy. We talked about our goals and vision for this group, what we wanted to do, things we wanted to talk about, and the rules. I made it clear to these ladies that I want commitment. I want to see them every saturday not just when they feel like coming. I was very strict with this. And they understood. I think. 

I didn't get many pictures. I was too concentrated on entertaining them. I will try next week.

We ended at around 5:30 and Kelvin and I sat and had a drink on our way home. Kelvin was so proud of me. He told me that he felt like he had somehow managed to marry Mother Teresa! Haha. We then talked about just our hearts for these ladies and this community. We talked about Jesus' heart for these people as well.

My heart really broke for these ladies. They grow up and are accustomed to a very harsh environment. They are not taught manners as I soon discovered as they screamed, yelled, were rude, and cheated at every game we played. I am not talking just one of them. At one point, I am sure every girl cheated during our games. For them, its ok. It's what they know; it's how they understand life. Then when it came to discussion, it was interesting to see how the muslim girls had a hard time opening up. It's like they are taught not to talk or to discuss. None of them could do it. Then as we were talking about what we wanted to do in this group, they all wanted to get out of Kongowea. I think they live a pretty sheltered life at home.

So I have my work cut out for me. I have decided that I really need a couple strong leaders with me to help control/crack/transform/love on these ladies. Right now, we are trying out a few weeks to see who will actually stay and who won't. I want to gain their trust and loyalty so that, if we tackle a tough topic, they won't run away.

Pray! We need it! Pray just for LOVE for them. Pray that they are teachable. Pray that we will gain favour with them and their families. Pray for each one who sticks beside us. Pray for their lives!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rehma Ladies!

In November last year, I started getting a pea size heart to start a ladies group in Kongowea. We work with boys and although I love them dearly, I have a bigger heart for ladies. God knows my heart for girls and yet, for some reason, he plopped a big team of young men in front of me and said, "Here, I need you to do this for me right now." So I did. And I am so happy I obeyed. 

Like I was saying, in november I was getting visions of starting a ladies group in Kongowea. I was trying to imagine what it would look like. At the time, we didn't have the space or the funding to do it. I also didn't have the connections with ladies that I thought I needed to start. But I started to pray and ask God to direct me as He wishes. 

Now, February 25th, we are having our first girls meeting! We have the space, the funds, and the ladies (well, I think we do). 

To be honest, I am nervous. Extremely nervous. Below is a picture of the tiny (rather pathetic) flyer I made and printed off for Kelvin to hand out to ladies he knows. The past week he has been connecting with people he knows to spread the news. I actually don't know how many ladies will show up, if any at all. I was also suppose to have 3 of my friends come and help me run this meeting. I wanted to start last weekend but none of them were available. I set my heart of this week only to find out that still none of them are available. I knew I couldn't postpone it anymore. I have to step out in faith and do it myself. I am flying solo today. I can't even call on Kelvin since it is a ladies group, no men allowed. 

This is a big leap of faith on my part. I really don't like looking like a fool. In fact, humility is one thing I really struggle with. My fear is that this will be a big flop but I am choosing to replace my fear with faith.  I have read of stories of friends who have stepped out in faith with a small idea and vision from God. Whether they started out with a a small mat and a kid's story book or by issuing a little flyer like mine, they started somewhere. And it turned out beautiful. 

I still don't know what I will really do with the girls every week nor do I really know what I want to accomplish with them. I have so many desires for these young women. I want them to know how loved they are, I want them to know their true worth, I want them to have an attitude of "I can!", I want them to think outside the box and experience life outside of Kongowea, I want them to love themselves and the people around them, I want them to know Jesus, I want them to be  empowered, I want them to go for their dreams, I want them to find loving husbands and be wonderful wives, I want them to work hard and be accountable to one another. And the list goes on. I want a lot of things for them. And I don't really know how it will all happen. 

But I do know that I have a God who has a big plan for them. And I trust Him. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Uncomfortable Heat and Peeing the Bed

Mombasa has hit the uncomfortable zone. We are in the peak of the hot season. Right now, just the thought of putting on long pants makes me squirm. I prefer to stay in my house as much as I can so that I can lay around in my short shorts and a tank top. You can't step outside without acquiring the dreaded sweat moustache. 

The fan is constantly on high in my house. It's pretty much unbearable without it. The problem comes in when the power goes out. Which is what happened last night. 

The second the power went out and the fan turned off, I woke up noticing an instant increase in the temperature. I tried to fall back asleep but I was just too hot. I thought about opening the door to my deck and risk letting all the mosquitos in just so that I could catch a breeze, but I wasn't willing to suffer through malaria in this heat. I got up and went to get a small towel. I soaked the small towel in water and came back to bed. I spread the wet towel out over my legs hoping to drop my body temperature. It worked for a while. Then I got up again to wet it again. I must have gotten up 9 times just to keep myself cool. I barely got any sleep. 

As Kelvin and I were having breakfast this morning, I asked him if he slept alright. He told me he slept just fine. I began to explain to him that I barely slept cause it was so hot. He then budded in, "yah I know. I heard you every time you got up. You even susued (peed) the bed." 

"What!? I did not susu. I haven't peed the bed since I was a tiny girl." 

"Well, I reached over and saw that your side of the bed was all wet. Are you sure you didn't susu?"  

"Yes I am sure!! It was just the wet towel that must have gotten the bed a bit wet. Besides, if I had susued the bed, why didn't you do anything about it? you are just ok sleeping in a bed that has been susued in?" 

"Yah, its ok with me. Its just you. I don't mind. Plus susu at night doesn't smell." 

"What!? Where did you get that information from? It smells the same as in the day." 

"No it doesn't. That's just a fact."

I giggled at my husband. He comes up with some crazy things sometimes. But that's why I love him. If he had peed the bed, I would wake him up, pull off the sheets, put the in the washing machine right away, take the mattress and put it outside to air out, put down our guest mattress and sleep the rest of the night on it. I couldn't sleep on a bed that was full of fresh pee. 

Now you have a small glimpse of my daily life. Fascinating? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Road trip to Malindi

On friday, Kelvin was blessed with a car. No, not our own car, but someone lent us a car for the weekend. Not only that, the car was fueled and this 'someone' gave us a little money to go spend on ourselves. I know, it's crazy. But God is good and loves to treat His children. 

Kelvin and I love when we can have a car. It gives us so much freedom to explore, hang out together, relax, etc. It's expensive to hire a car so we don't do it often. 

On Sunday, we decided to take a road trip to Malindi and explore all the places that we can't if we take public transport. I was also elated to spend a whole day with my husband, just the two of us. Between work, the boys, church, and other life stuff, it's getting harder just to spend an afternoon together. So I was giddy just to be the two of us for a whole day. 

We set out in the morning and went to have my favourite breakfast, mbazi  and mahambri, and then made our way up the coast. Once you get outside of Mombasa, the coast turns lush and beautiful. We passed miles of sisal plantations. 

Our sweet little ride for the day. Cute and perky. 

We first stopped in Kilifi, a place I had driven through once on a matatu. Kelvin took me along the beach as passed gorgeous mansions and villas. We stopped to have a small look at the ocean. The water looked like glass. 

We then reached Malindi, a small Italian infested town. Many of Kelvin's relatives live here. We stopped to sit with one of his cousins who own a little souvenir shop at the beach. 

Bright colours! 

We splurged on a yummy lunch. I had steak and passion fruit juice. Kelvin ate pork chops.

Our cute little ride enjoying the view of the ocean as we ate. 

After a wonderful day of exploring, eating, visiting family, and driving, he headed back home. 

We are now totally praying for a car. I love having the freedom. I also love not being heckled everywhere I go. With a car, I don't have to encounter so many people who want to bug the white girl. It's such a relief for me. Now, we are going to start saving our pennies to get ourselves a sweet ride. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Grumbling to God

Yesterday I did some major grumbling to God.

I went to check up on the boys in school, something I haven't done since the before the wedding. Well, the very first school I went to was terribly disappointing. After speaking with the teacher (who, by the way, is lovely), she told me that my boy had not come to class for the first 3 weeks of the term. He told her that he was practicing too hard and that he was having issues with his sponsors. She also told me that he is quite proud. He eventually came to school but missed so many classes that he was going to meet her that afternoon and see how he can catch up.

I told them that practice can never be his excuse as he knows that school is way more important for us than soccer. And I mentioned that there is no issue with his sponsors, but rather he probably couldn't find transport to town (something which we don't provide).

I left the school so angry. I walked down the street grumbling to God, "Seriously?! Another one? What is happening with our boys God? Why all of a sudden are they giving us so many issues? What have we done wrong? I thought this is what you wanted me to do. I thought putting him into school was what you had asked me to do. Did I not hear you right? God am I not listening to you close enough? What do these boys really need from us? Why do we do so much for them and yet they just mess it up. UGH, Help me. Give me understanding. Work in their lives because, honestly God, I sometimes feel like giving up."

I grumbled all the way through lunch. Just thinking and asking God all sorts of questions. I spent the afternoon searching my bible and praying for any sort of wisdom. I just wanted answers.

I came home and told Kelvin the story. He wasn't surprised and just sort of shrugged it off. I am definitely the more emotional one. He said he will talk to him.

Well this morning, Kelvin and I were sitting in our office (which is suppose to be for our business but tends to be more of a counselling room with all the people that come in and Kelvin counsels) when our young man came in and sat down. I spent the morning and some of last night praying for him, that God would truly intervene. So I was anxious to see how this conversation would go.

Kelvin started talking to him about practice, home life, and school. We had been getting  many complaints about him in all these areas mostly concerning his very prideful nature. He listened attentively to Kelvin as Kelvin talked to him and asked him all these questions. He confessed that him not going to school was merely because of transport fees and nothing else. We then invited the mama that he stays with who is actually the mom to another one of our boys who we put in school on the other side of the country. She graciously took him in when he didn't have anywhere to go. She feeds him, gives him a roof over his head, and a place to rest his head all out of the goodness of her heart. But recently he had been quite disrespectful to her. So she came in and we all had a conversation. *Note: this was all happening in swahili so I didn't get all of it. She talked and talked and then Kelvin released her to go while he finishes up with our boy. Almost the second she left, he burst into tears. Yes, our notoriously prideful young man, was crying in the office.

Kelvin took this opportunity to tell him about Jesus. You see, we love our boys unconditionally. We want them to thrive in life and be amazing young men. We want to see them fed and fit. We want to see them be good husbands, fathers, friends. But above all else, we desperately desire for them to know Jesus. We don't discriminate them for their beliefs. We love the muslims just as much as the christians. But deep down, we want them to have a relationship with Jesus.

As Kelvin was talking, I was praying. Our young man sat staring at the floor, tears still dripping down his face. Kelvin eventually asked him if he wanted to have Jesus, and the boy nodded. Kelvin got him to pray and then Kelvin prayed over him as the tears still streamed down his face.

We were elated. God had moved in ways that I never imagined. God had heard all my grumblings to him. I thanked him. My heart was so full.

Kelvin explained that it will not always be easy. Living for Jesus does not always mean an easy road but the best part is that we have the greatest Best Friend in the whole world who is there to guide us, love us, save us, fill us, forgive us, and help us.

Asante Yesu. You are amazing.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Birthday my Beloved Hubby!

On saturday, February 11th, my husband celebrated his 27th birthday. In all his years on earth, he had never had a birthday party. So I decided it was about time we celebrated. 

 Eddah had a hard time blowing up the balloons so she found the ball bump pretty handy

 I love him

 The guys just chillin' out. The entire team had come to celebrate but left early since Manchester United was playing. 
 Happy Birthday to YOU!

 My friend Paulina made the best cake! A little soccer pitch! And it was delicious.
 It was a good excuse to have all of Kelvin's family together. They all live in Mombasa yet they barely see each other. I personally love being around them. I only grew up with one brother so its nice to have so many siblings (especially girls) in my family. 

This is our cousin's kid, Nancy. She would only eat cake and nothing else. 

Happy birthday kelvinator!

Check out the newest hairdresser on the block!

I was working in the office last week when my sweet friend, Saumu, came in to visit me. Her and I have become good friend in the last year ever since we surprised her and her husband, who is on our team, with a whole bunch of goodies for their newborn baby. Since then, she comes to games and brings along the baby (which they have nicnamed Nikole) and we chat away watching the boys play. 

Anyways, her husband has approached Kelvin numerous times asking if we could put his wife into hairdressing school. He just can't come up with the money to do it himself. Kelvin has denied him every time since our main focus has been just the boys on the team. But when she sought me out at the office and asked if we could assist her, I seriously considered it. Kelvin and I had sort of resolved not to sponsor any more people this year since we are tired of finding sponsors and some of the boys have been disappointing. So I really asked God about sponsoring her. Kelvin sat with her husband and talked things through. The four of us finally decided to work together and put her into hairdressing school. We have decided to work with her husband in helping to pay her transport to school and back along with paying her school fees. Her husband has agreed to secretly save money with us so that he can help her start a small salon when she finishes. She has promised to work hard and learn the best she can.

Today, her and I went to town early to buy some supplies that she needed. She is not going to a normal school but is working and learning under a lady. After meeting with the lady last week, I think the set up is awesome. Saumu is going to get some awesome one-on-one teaching from this lady for the next few months. 

 We had to buy her this dummy head so she can start learning to braid (or plate as they say here). 

Saumu was absolutely giddy upon starting today. She had big smiles and tons of giggles. I can tell this is a really good fit for her. Plus I will get free hair cuts for the rest of my life!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Crying over beans.

I have just finished the ugly cry. I am sure my mascara is smooshed all over my face right now as I type this.

I was boiling beans. And I forgot about them. And they burnt. Terribly....I mean terribly. They are not even salvageable. I don't think I will even get the pot back to normal. It burnt bad too.

I smelt something and it clicked that I had neglected to check on my beans. It was too late. So much smoke.

Then came the ugly cry. I think it was a mixture of so many feelings. I feel like I have failed in the cooking department. The price of things in Kenya has been really tough lately. I have been worrying about it too much. So the fact that I just burnt 75cents worth of beans and wasted all my gas boiling for the last 2 hours made me feel like I am going broke. Now everything smells. Yuck. AND I have to now figure out what to eat for supper. Good thing we have lots of cake leftover from Kelvin's birthday. Tea, bread, and cake it is.

I think I am done crying over my burnt beans.

On the bright side, I get to watch Modern Family tonight. It just started showing on a local channel here. yippee!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chapatti Makin'

Lately, I have been so curious and adventurous with cooking. I want to learn to cook all things Kenyan. I guess I want to 1) Please my husband. He is Kenyan after all and it is his favourite food. 2) Try new things and bring new varieties of food in my house. 3) Save money - things are getting so expensive here in Kenya and money is tight. It is so much cheaper to make your favourite foods. 

I think I have done really well so far! After a year of officially living on my own and living on a tight budget, I have learned to cook. I never cooked back in Canada. In fact, if you put me in a kitchen back home and asked me to cook, I wouldn't really know where to start. 

But I have learned a lot in the last few months. Some of my favourite meals include sukuma (kale), meat stew and ugali, homemade pizza, spaghetti, coconut noodles with ground beef, rice and vegetables with teriyaki sauce, and beans and rice (I LOVE beans. To be honest, I could eat them everyday. Especially with a little coconut milk in them. yummy!).

Often, we buy chapattis outside (they go great with beans). They are about 15 shillings for one. Not too shabby. But, as I learned yesterday, making them is so much cheaper. In the end, I figured I made each one at around 7 or 8 shillings!

I rounded up my bestest girlfriend, Rahab, who happens to also be a master chef, and bought all ingredients and cooking supplies. Then the process started. It is a little bit of work. Frying them can be quite hot and oily. But they end product is simply scrumptious. 

The mixture is simple: flour, water, cooking fat and sugar. Simple. But the kneading was pretty exhausting. I will have a strong arm if I keep at it.  

 The rolling is another issue. Trying to make them perfectly round ain't easy. I had a few that came out the shape of Africa. 
Voila!! Perfect, flaky, hot chapattis! Kelvin was so surprised!!! He actually didn't believe me and asked to see the frying pan (you have to use a special pan to make them). We had an awesome meal. And we have some left over for tonight!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Uji Uji Uji!

We used to tease kids when they came for camp that, at the end of the week, they were going back to drinking uji every day. Our kids came from the extreme ghettos of Nairobi where they didn't eat the best of foods. But at camp, they ate like royalty. Uji is a cheap alternative for tea or a meal. It's filling and cheap. 

However, I absolutely LOVE uji. And for the last week, I have been craving it. You would have thought I was a pregnant woman in her first trimester (don't worry - I'm not). 

So today I set out to make uji. It is not the most difficult thing to make in the world. I bought the mix, mixed it with a little water and then added it to some boiling water and let it cook. I then added some sugar and, pap!, I got myself some uji. 

This package cost me less than a dollar and would probably make jugs and jugs of uji. Now I understand why it is so common for people with lower incomes. Actually, it is just millet flour. I think it has a lot of nutrition in it. 

Doesn't it look great??! It has a bit of a sour taste which blends well with a few spoonfuls of sugar. 

When I told my friend I wanted to make uji, she laughed at me and said, "You know that is for small babies and sick people. It will make your stomach grow." 

Well, I am not ashamed to say that I love it. Yes, I love uji. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Helping when they don't want to help themselves

There is one thing that I find very frustrating with some of the mindset's in Kenya. I am finding more and more often that people don't want to help themselves. They expect others to do it for them.

Maybe it is because they are so used to receiving aid from so many NGO's in the country that they feel like they don't have to work for it. I actually believe that Kenya is poor because many people have this mind set of "Poor me. I can't do anything. Everything is impossible. The government is corrupt. There is no work. Life is always and will always be a struggle." If you really think about all the money and resources that are poured into Kenya every year, it's a wonder why the country is still a third world country.

It's like people are taught to think that life is just one big disappointment.

To be honest, this is our biggest struggle with the boys (and other people in our lives).

We are really struggling with one boy in particular. He is one that we have sponsored. He keeps skipping out of school for long periods of time. Eventually he gets his head on straight and goes back only to skip again and again. When you confront him, its like he has this defeated attitude about life. He tells us of how he can't pay rent or buy food so he has to work during the days. He tells of how the schooling is too tough for him or he can't manage to walk there every day. Can you imagine constantly thinking that life is just going to kick me in the butt?

A lot of our other boys struggle with the same things but they reach out for help. They tell us when they can't pay rent or are struggling to find money for transport to get to school. We have actually helped many of them to find side jobs in order for them to make a little money. And they are all doing fine. Actually, most of them are thriving in schools. But they were the ones who took initiative and asked for some assistance and are making it possible for themselves to go school.

One thing I really want to instil in the youth is HOPE. Most of them just lack hope for their lives. The hope that things can get better and that it's not impossible. I want them to start thinking that, 'Yes this CAN happen' instead of "nope, this will never happen." And the fact is that it CAN happen if they are willing to work hard for it. Even without our financial help, I bet most of them could do something really great with their lives.

We are here and willing to help but why help people if they don't want to help themselves? I am not going to do everything for you but I am willing to help you. If someone offered to pay my college fees, you bet that I would do everything that I could to get myself to school. I wouldn't expect this person to register me, walk me to school, make sure all my papers are in order, etc.

Kelvin and I were walking through Kongowea the other day and Kelvin was explaining to me how proud he is of the boys. He said, "A year ago, you would have found most of them lazying around at this time of day. But now, they are all doing something. They are getting up and working and trying to make a life for themselves." He told me of one of the boys who showed up covered in paint from a small job that he had hustled to find so he could help out his mom. That's what we love to hear.

Pray for wisdom. I was asking myself today what would God do in this situation? Does God ever just say, "Well I have helped you enough yet you don't do anything. You keep being disobedient. I am not going to help people who don't want to help themselves"? Or does he suffer long with us and have grace upon grace on us even when we don't want to help ourselves? Pray for this young man that whatever strongholds or negative thoughts he has, they wouldn't hinder him from making something great for his life. Because I believe that they all can do something great for their lives, if they chose to do so.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Settling Down

Today I finally got the sense that my life is settling down.

I never thought I would get here. It was hard to imagine the point where my life would be more consistent, I would build a community around me, I would have a home that I plan to stay in for a while, I wouldn't constantly be looking for the next opportunity or thing to do, I would fall into an everyday life kind of routine. I actually didn't think I could do it. I would look at people with full time jobs that they do day after day, week after week, year after year and think, "I couldn't handle that" but now I get the sense that that is slowly where I am moving.

For those who don't know, Kelvin and I have started a business managing rental homes as well as buying/selling homes. For almost 2 years now, it has been in both our minds to start one. Kelvin grew up managing his family's homes so it was a natural fit for him. We have opened a small office in Kongowea, right beside the pitch. Kelvin is working hard to market himself out there. Today he left the house looking so handsome in his grey dress pants and collared white t-shirt. We are getting lots of interest and slowly people are gravitating towards us. I am doing most of the administration work. I am trying to set up a good system for managing client information, files, cash income and outflow, and general office stuff. I am also designing all the business cards, signage, and website (that will be coming up in the future). It really is a fun venture.

Right beside our office is the youth centre we are opening as well (it is literally the next door beside us). I am trying to maximize the tiny space we have (any tips on types of furniture/set up to make good use of a small space?). We have already handed over the key to one of our boys who manages all the equipment and will soon take over the centre in the evenings when we open it up for people to come and study. I will begin having my girls club in the next couple of weeks!

Today, I went to town to get some signs printed out. I then headed to Kongowea to meet up with my husband, show him the signs, and see what needed to be done in the office. We decided to let one of the boys sit at the desk (something they are proud of) while we went for lunch break. Since when did my husband and I take lunch breaks together??? Never. That is when I realized that we are now settling down.

It feels really good to finally be settled. To feel like we are starting to build our lives. I love that I am able to commit to something long term right now. I love that I can buy furniture knowing that I will use it for a long time. I love that my suitcases are packed away probably collecting dust and cobwebs.

I am sure at some point I will get a bit antsy as most people do. Thankfully I live in a country that I can travel relatively cheap to some awesome places. I do still have some plans. I want to finish going to school. I do want to visit Canada. Babies will come in the near future.

But settling down is what we are doing. And it feels good.