Friday, June 29, 2012

The Best Expression of Love is TIME

.... And the best use of life is LOVE.

I want to LOVE and love HARD. That's my heart's desire. I truly believe the best way to use my life is to LOVE; to love GOD and to love OTHERS.

I just read Day 16 in The Purpose Driven life and it spoke exactly into my life today.

I realized a few days ago that meeting with the girls on Saturdays just isn't enough. Some of them really want to connect during the week. I opened our little centre on Wednesday and was pretty amazed at how many people just dropped in to see me once they realized I was inside. I had a group of young girls from the local primary school walk by and ask if I would play some games with them. I had some other young women ask how my day was. I had a couple girls show up early for our weekly bible study. Then I had one of my young ladies come just wanting to chat. Since it was late, we didn't have a ton of time but, by the way she sounded, I knew we needed to meet again this week just to chat.

So today I went to Kongowea early with Kelvin. It was pretty boring. Kelvin and I bickered over who plays sudoku better and then went on to a mean game of UNO. I was just about to give up and go home when my lady walked in.

I opened our centre next door and got right to asking her what is going on. Well, two hours later we were still chatting. I listened mostly actually. I listened to the crazy things that have happened to her this week. I listened to her as she explained to me how hurt she was when both her parents passed away. I listened as talked about the things she is learning about God (Allah, to her). I listened to her as she tried to explain to me how to make samosas. I did very little talking which, if you ask my husband, is abnormal for me. As we closed up and we went our separate ways, she said, "Thanks Nikole. At least I feel more relaxed now."

I got home and opened my book and read all about LOVE and how the BEST expression of love is giving up some of my time - time that I could be making more money for myself or indulging in self pleasures - and focusing my attention on someone else, forgetting for a little while about myself, my needs, my problems, my wants, my desires, me.

Like I said above, I was about to give up and go home. I thought I would rather be sitting at home on my computer than wasting time in Kongowea. But I waited until she showed up and I am so glad I did.

I really LOVE my girls. I so do. I need to give them more of my time.

Just want to tell you a funny story.

The other week, our topic with the girls was dating. It had come up in one of our conversations a few weeks back and I thought we should explore it better. I asked the girls, "What does dating look like in your community? As in, what are some things you and your boyfriend do?"

One girl piped up, "We exchanged phones."

A little confused, I correct her, "You exchange phone numbers?" thinking she had a problem with english.

"No, we trade phones. I give him my phone and he gives me his."

I started to giggle. "Ok, so why do you do that?"

"You know, so we can admire each others photos and songs on the phones."

I guess its a big thing here like going out for dinner and a movie with your boyfriend back home. Well, that's how my girls do it!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thoughts on terrorist threats

I was laying in bed Friday evening checking emails on my phone just as I was about to close my eyes for the day when a dear friend, who lives in another part of the country, forwarded me a message that the US Embassy had just sent out to its citizens. It was an emergency travel alert urging all Americans in Mombasa to leave immediately. They ordered all government workers to leave the city immediately and they suspended all government travel to Mombasa until July 1st. The reason: they had reason to believe that there was an 'imminent terrorist threat' in the city.

We have been under terrorist watch since October. It's almost old news now. There have been a few random bombings here and there around the country including two in Mombasa. Security has been beefed up. I get checked for bombs everywhere I go now, including church.

 After reading this email, I thought 'no big whoop' but as I tried to shut my eyes, it kept nagging at me. This was more serious. For the american government to be evacuating all its government officials so suddenly means that something must be cooking. I started to get a little worried.

Kelvin climbed into bed and I told him. He looked at me and said, 'are you worried?' I sort of shook it off like, 'Nah, not really.' But it did bother me. I kept thinking about how, the next day, I had plans to travel up and about the city like a mad woman and what would happen if there was an attack. I didn't sleep very well.

Nevertheless, we got up in the morning and went about our day. Around noon, I got another text message saying that even BBC has profiled the US's terror alert. Yikes!! A travel warning for Kenya has never made headlines on BBC. This must be serious. I began to get a little panicked but decided to continue through my day. I prayerfully travelled from one place to another. The crazy down pour didn't help the already tense atmosphere. I made it home safe that evening.

The warning made the top story on all the local news channels striking fear in the hearts of all Americans. Yah, it made me a little nervous. I decided that it can't run my life but I can be a bit more cautious of where I go. I decided to avoid large shopping centres and the downtown area as much as possible.

You know when you are purposely not doing something and then the temptation to do it gets even stronger? Its like when someone says, 'don't push that button!' and then all of a sudden the temptation to push it gets even stronger? So I made this rule that I wouldn't hit up any large shopping mall but I just couldn't resist. I caved and we went for ice cream at the mall Sunday morning. The ice cream sundae seemed to melt away my fears for a while.

Sunday night, a shady local bar was bombed in the outskirts of Mombasa. It wasn't exactly the attack I was looking for. It seems like someone just took advantage of the fear and decided to throw a few grenades.

It's now thursday and all is calm. I have heard of a few americans cancelling their trips to Mombasa but thats it. It's high tourist season now(most tourists being from Europe) so it seems like the white people are streaming into the city instead of away from it. Every time I see one walking around I think to myself, 'don't they know there is a major terror alert!?' They don't seem bothered by it. Security is now extra-beefed up in high tourist areas.

Last night we went to a local bar to watch the semi-finals of the Euro. In all honesty, I thought to myself, "This is where someone would throw a grenade." I kept imagining it being thrown upstairs (where we were sitting). Yes, a little irrational.

The night ended in a penalty shoot out. Spain beat Portugal 4-2. Tonight, Germany plays. I think we will stay inside and watch it from home. Yah, that's a good idea.

Monday, June 25, 2012

One day tournament for the boys

The team got invited to a one day, knock-out tournament put on by a local mission station just north of Mombasa. It was not only a soccer tournament but a whole family fun day for the community. We were among the first to arrive (actually our boys arrived on time before Kelvin and I- they are becoming so disciplined!) It just happened to be one of the few rainy days we get in Mombasa. I loved the rain but it made for a wet, damp, muddy day. I was with them in the morning but had to jet back to Kongowea to meet with my lovely ladies. Here are some photos Kelvin took of the day. 

The crew for the day!

They had camel rides for the kids. Secretly, I wanted a ride. 

They won their first game in a shoot out. Then they won their second game 3-1. Here they are racing over to Kelvin after their second win. They moved on to the finals. 

 So much excitement! And a few bumps and bruises.

The beginning of the final game. Unfortunately, they lost. But it was a great day for them.

 The team came home with a ball, trophy, and certificate. Every boy wanted a picture with them. 
All in all, they totally enjoyed themselves. They played well, got out of their community, and got to enjoy a day out together.

An Ethiopian Date

A new fancy shmancy Ethiopian restaurant/lounge has just opened at the mall down the street from us. Since we have made it 6 months in marriage and there were a few other things that we were excited about and thanking God for, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice night out. What a better way to celebrate than stuff our mouths with delicious Ethiopian food. 

 My past experiences with Ethiopian weren't great but this food was delicious. We ordered pan-fried goat 'bits', chicken in a yummy tomato sauce and, of course, lots of Injera.

Kelvin must have been a little dishevelled after listening to the terrible karaoke singer.

The lounge is on the top floor of the mall and looks out over the highway and forest. Awesome ambiance. Cheers to a great husband, meal, night, God!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

6 months

We made it six months! Yes, 6 months ago today we made a covenant vow and became 1 forever and ever. He will never get rid of me! It seems like such an accomplishment. It is, really.  

Let me share with you some things that I have learned in my first 6 months of marriage:

1. Seeking to please God brings so much more joy than seeking to please my husband. I wash my husbands clothes because it is pleasing to God. I make my husband supper every night because it is pleasing to God. I create a wonderful home for Kelvin to come home to because it is pleasing to God. I must do these things to please God not just Kelvin. Because sometimes Kelvin doesn't even notice. I don't expect him to. The fact is that GOD is the one who grants me JOY in my obedience to Him. Most often it is in the small things like folding his clothes.

2. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Never in my life have I had to forgive so much. It's more than just saying 'I forgive you' when the other person apologizes. Forgiveness is letting them go without punishment.  Forgiveness is bearing the hurt of someone else's sin. Forgiveness is not holding grudges. Forgiveness is allowing God to heal you instead of seeking justice. Forgiveness is a choice that you can't wait till you 'feel' like doing it. Forgiveness is important to God.

3. Let it go. I have learned to let things go. Just let it go. Does it really matter? In the long run, does it matter that he used the hand towel in the bathroom to wipe the toilet? Does it matter that he forgot to bring tomatoes home so you have to change your meal? No, just do it and let it go. Let things go. Makes life easier for both of you.

4. Laugh. Smile. Delight. Laugh at his jokes even when they aren't fun. Laugh at his adorable character. Delight in his mannerisms. Smile when you greet him at the door when he comes home from work. Spend time together laughing. Delight in his quirks, find quirks to delight in. Answer him with smile. Talk on the phone to him with a smile. In general, be cheery and bring cheerfulness even if you don't feel like.

5. Surround yourself with other wives who you trust. I have been blessed to have some awesome women around me that I can look up to, talk to, confide in. It is so much nicer knowing that you are not alone in your struggles, joys, ups and downs in marriage. Many women go through the same things. I have found so much encouragement in the lovely wives around me.

6. PRAY for your husband. At the bridal shower I attended this weekend, the lady who was speaking to us said that, "Praying for our husbands is a neglected ministry." It's true. We wives need to get on our hands and knees and stand in gap for our husbands. Pray for every detail of his life: his friends, his decisions, his protection, his work, his walk with God, his health, his finances, his worry/fears/doubts, his love for us wives, his attitude, his mind, his responsibilities, etc. Pray, pray, pray!

I am sure that I have only scratched the surface of all things I will learn in marriage in my lifetime. I think that's the fun part though. It's a journey of learning, loving, and companionship. I am so excited for the rest of our lives!

Monday, June 18, 2012

My Daddy

Have to make a shout out to my paps. I know its a day late but Sunday was busy - went to church and then got ambushed to go to a super fun bridal shower which didn't end till late. I was thinking of Daddy the whole time, I swear.

I am a Daddy's girl through and through. The epitome of a Daddy's girl in fact. My heart breaks when I see girls without an awesome Dad like mine because I know how crucial this relationship is in a young lady's life. If it weren't for my dad, I wouldn't be the self respecting woman I am today.

Happy Father's Day paps! Sending you loads of love from way over here!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mad props to my hubs

I got my first bout of food poisoning ever in Kenya. Seriously, in the almost 5 years of living here, I have had only minor tummy issues. I have actually boasted many times at my strong and durable stomach. I have even eaten things that got Kelvin sick and not me. But all that went out the window tuesday night. I went to bad not feeling so hot. To spare you the gruesome details, lets just say that I ran back and forth to the bathroom for the next 12+hours. It was not a pretty sight my friends. 

However, my superman hubby stepped in and saved the day. Well, he couldn't make my food stay in my stomach but he definitely made life more comfortable for me. He washed clothes, cleaned the bathroom (yes, it was not pretty), made himself all his meals, cleaned up after the cat, chased after our naughty cat, stocked the fridge with lots of cold water for me, cleaned all my pukey dishes, bought groceries, and even prepared a big plate of fruit after I was feeling a bit better. On top of all that, he snuggled, cuddled, prayed, and even continued to tell me how beautiful I was every time I emerged from the bathroom. 

So mad props to my beloved hubby! I adore you mister! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What's been rolling around in my head

I ignore little children and sometimes give them an evil glare. Terrible isn't it? But honestly, they annoy me. I walk through Kongowea and get a ton of kids asking me 'how are you?' or 'how waw wou?'. Some make fun of my accent, some yell at me non stop from across the field, some are just plain rude. I get so tired of it that I ignore them and sometimes even give them a look to tell them that it is not ok to harass the white person. Why are white people such a novelty? I started telling one of my girls how I hate kids who just pester me. Her reply was, "Yes, but don't they do the same to us in your place? Don't they call us black monkeys?" NO! I have never heard that before. If a black person was to walk around in my hometown, they might get a few stares since our town is so white but no one will say anything racist to them. They won't get harassed by every kid yelling at them, "Black person! Black person!"I told my girls that if their kids say that to me, I will ignore them. Yep, I will ignore sweet children.

One minute your a great politician, the next your charred body is shown on tv for all to see.
Kenya suffered a tragedy on Sunday. A helicopter carrying the minister and assistant minister of internal security crashed into a forest just outside Nairobi. It was sad. We sat and watched TV as they showed live footage of the crash. Since it was live, they showed us the charred bodies of the people on board spread out all over the forest. They were burnt beyond recognition. On board was the minister of internal security who was also the vice-president for about 10 years in the 90's. A big man in the country and a big influence in politics. He was still very active and was actually running for president in the next elections.

What struck me most was that a man who Kenyans worship (yes, Kenyans seem to worship their politicians like God) literally fell to his death. A man of such honour, valour, respect had his lowly body burnt beyond recognition and aired on national television. Humbling? Seriously, we have a big God. We may think  people are big but in an instant you can be brought down. Literally.

Charred Bodies. Combined with the lynched man I saw a few weeks ago, these charred bodies I saw on tv remain etched in my mind. Oh Lord erase it now!!

Canada doesn't want new people in their country. We have been really looking into immigration lately knowing that, one day, I would like to bring my husband to my home country. Wow, it isn't an easy task. I have been so overwhelmed with all the requirements and rules and paperwork and fees. It just makes me want to stay in Kenya forever. Maybe that's the point. Maybe Canada doesn't really want more people in the country so they just make the immigration process so daunting that it turns people away and they decide its not worth it. Well, it's working.

Forgiveness. I seem to run into that word everywhere I go. Two weeks ago, we studied forgiveness as a topic in our bible study with the girls. They couldn't wrap their heads around what it truly means to forgive.

A few months ago, I had a man tell me that marriage is really a test to see how well you can forgive. I believe that now. I really think Kelvin and I have had to forgive more in the past five months than in our entire lives.

We went to a play on Sunday afternoon and it was all about forgiveness and what can happen to families who don't forgive. Sobering to see it played out in front of you.

Then on saturday I chatted with my girls about the consequences of careless sex. I made them do skits about a young girl who has sex in their community and what can happen. Well, in all the skits, the girl got pregnant and their parents disowned them. Yes, unfortunately parents, family, friends, the community have a  hard time forgiving young girls who get pregnant out of wedlock. Especially the family. They feel the girl has disgraced them so they can't forgive them. They literally disown them. Where is the forgiveness? Where is the grace? I assured them that if any would get pregnant, I would be here with open arms to help them through. I will love their babies. I will forgive them and not condemn them. Jesus forgave them, why shouldn't I?

Dates with my hubs. We are trying to come up with new, fun, adventurous, exciting and cheap things to do as a couple. We don't have a ton of money to spend but we are trying to be creative. We want to start early in our marriage to create a culture of 'dating' each other regularly. Right now, it's easy. We don't have a ton of distractions like work, kids, family, etc. But it will all come. And we need to learn how to retreat and spend time together. I've learned that Kelvin isn't the most creative when it comes to romance or dates. I have come up with most ideas. But we are open to anything. What about you? What are some of your favourite dates or things to do with your loved one??

Chocolate. I want to devour it all. the. time.

There you go. Just some random things I have been thinking about in the past week or so.