Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Game of Life

I introduced the Game of Life to the ladies this weekend. Once they got a hold of how it works, they were totally into it. They had to make some serious 'life' decisions like buying insurance, investing in stock, and deciding on their careers. They said NO! to drugs, went on vacations, met with the in-laws, ran for mayor, and had grandchildren. They had some highs, like winning the Nobel Peace Prize, and some lows, like going through a mid-life crisis and having to give up their elusive careers and pay checks. At the end, they all managed to retired with millions of dollars in their hands. Not too shabby.

Kelvin and I have introduced board games into our office. Kelvin bought some plastic chairs and a table that sits outside and he invited any one to come play the few games we have. We have already had lots of people interested and are looking forward to building more friendships over some good ol' board games!

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Team Meeting

Kelvin and boys had a team meeting or, as I like to call it, a 'family meeting' last night in lieu of practice. On the agenda was mostly to do with money. Kelvin and I have really been thinking a lot about 'stewardship' and how we show our young people how to be good stewards of all the different things that God has given them. We find this to be a big struggle for most of them as they have grown up being taught to misuse so many of the things around them. My lessons with the girls start tomorrow as we talk about being good stewards of our time. Kelvin is starting up a 'finance committee' for the team. Kelvin is generally the one who makes all the decisions about money including give-aways, transport to games, washing of the jerseys, and league fees. He wants to create a committee of about 5 or 6 boys who will be responsible for the 'budget' of the team. We will give them a certain amount they can spend as a team every month and they have to decide how to use it. If its too much, they save it or buy cleats for someone. If its too little, they must come up with the money themselves. Its a good way for them to realize that money just doesn't come out of the sky (or donors pockets) but needs to be used wisely and godly. Its also a good lesson on accountability as this committee will be making decisions on behalf of the team and their needs. We are excited to see how it all turns out.  

The second item on the agenda was bringing the boys together and starting an income generating project for those who are interested. With the money that will be allocated to them every month, they will have the choice to save some of it or invest it into something that will go directly into their pockets. For some, this is a big opportunity. For others, they don't care so much. But there is where they need to work together, as a team, and care for the welfare of one another. 

They are having another meeting like this next thursday to continue these matters. 

While this was happening, I was meeting with a few of my girls dreaming, encouraging, and planning with them for their futures. I am super excited for what God has put on their hearts and the opportunities He has opened for them. I pray that I am a help not a hindrance in their personal development. I pray that we can help move our youth towards being the people God has created them to be. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Sweet Blessing

While we were on the matatu to church, Kelvin got a call from a friend of his. This friend was really anxious to see Kelvin. He wanted to meet him asap. Kelvin asked why. The guy said, "I want to give you 200bob (about $2.50)." Kelvin giggled. Our friend just wanted to give us something. He must have gotten some work somewhere and wanted to bless us with the cash he made.

We have taken in this friend numerous times. He had some particular issues with his mental health as well as with his family. During that time, he told us that our house was the only place he really felt at peace so he would show up at night and just want somewhere peaceful to rest his head. We have also hired him to help us out with moving, carpentry jobs, security, etc. 

Anyways, we explained to him we were on our way to church so he can send it to us through MPESA (a bank system on our phones). He hung up and then we didn't hear from him again. 

On our way home from church, Kelvin received a text from MPESA telling him he received 500bob ($6.50) from our friend. Ha! I am not sure why but he decided to send us over double what he wanted to. I was seriously humbled. We ended up treating ourselves to some drinks and snacks as we watched the Arsenal game that afternoon. 

Maybe I have like some sort of "white pride" issue in my head that thinks that people always want money out of me or that I am always the one who has to give. I think thats the way the majority of people think when they see white people. But when skin colour fades away, we are left with friendship and friends give and bless one another. 

I am constantly amazed at the ways Kenyans give. I truly believe they give way more than we do. In terms of monetary value, we probably give more but in terms of sacrifice, they are way ahead of us. 

One family, who is particularly close to me, has never had a vacation! The parents are well into their fifties now and yet have never taken a chance to get out, relax, enjoy the fruits of their labour. If they ever have any extra money (which is rare) they take another kid into their family puts them in school.

My husband has been a really good example of sacrificial giving. He has really challenged me to give even when its uncomfortable. Even this month, he promised a few people he would give to them (which we were really excited to do since we are excited for them and where God is taking them). He let me know and then we had to figure out how to budget the rest of the month. It means that maybe we only eat meat once or twice a week, cut down on our internet use, and do a little less 'leisure'. And can I just tell you that we have NEVER lacked? In fact, God has blessed us in the most amazing of ways. Our God is awesome. 

What about you? Do you give out of your excess? Do you ever give even if it means you live a little less comfortable? Are you ever really excited to give to someone or something? 

Monday, September 24, 2012

CV and Interview Training

The unemployment rate in Kenya is ridiculously high (something like 50%). It is really hard to find work in Kenya even if you have a decent education and some good work experience. Sometimes I think the best thing I can do for people is to open a big company and create lots and lots of jobs for people. 

Our youth really I mean really struggle to find anything that can make them some money. Although we can't personally find them work or employ all of them, we can help equip them with the proper skills to attain work. 

On Saturday, 12 of our youth (boys and girls) went to a seminar on how to write a proper CV and how to conduct themselves in a job interview. The session was put on by a good friend of ours who is the Human Resource guy at a large resort. 

The information he was able to give these young people was so valuable! Even I learned some new things! One thing he did was encourage them to change their thinking from believing there aren't many jobs and you have to know some to get a job to being more positive about their job search. 

They made us feel so special and plastered our names on all these signs. Did I mention our friend did this for us for free!? 

We made sure that the ones who came were really interested in learning and not just wanting a day by the pool (which was also part of the package;)). The ones who came were so engaged, asking lots of questions, and even boldly asking for work at the resort! We also had a few good laughs.

 After the seminar, we split up and did our own things. I went swimming with my ladies while Kelvin watched the game with his boys. A few weeks ago, we made these bracelets with the girls. 

I had the camera so naturally I got more pics of the girls. I just adore them. Praying that they will be able to get good jobs!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rehma Youth Scholarship Winners!

It's time for me to introduce to you the winners of our Rehma Youth Scholarships! We were suppose to only have 3 winners but our committee said they just couldn't pick only 3 but they wanted to choose 4. Here they are...

Nuru Juma
This young lady has a heart for people living with disabilities. Her huge heart literally oozes out love and compassion for these people. Every time I meet her, she never fails to tell me a story about some people she has just helped or some ideas she has for people with disabilities. Her mother is disabled and has overcome huge obstacles so Nuru wants to inspire people to do the same. We are currently praying and researching about the right program that she should go into in order to reach her goals. We are also thinking of starting some sign language classes with her! 

 Asha Ishmael
This girl is feisty! I wouldn't be surprised if she ends up as President one day. She loves to seek justice for all people. Her dream is to become a lawyer and work specifically with women's rights. She is the most vocal of all my ladies and is involved in every program in the community which seeks to better the lives of young people. Her parents both died of cancer a few years ago and she now lives with her aunt and sister. Pray for her as we search for the proper program for her to begin her studies in! 

 Felix Faithfulness
We will miss this young man as he has just left to attend a school on the other side of the country. However, we know that he will be getting a better education and more opportunity to play soccer. His family is the poorest of the poor and truly struggles to put food on the table. For some reason, everyone who knows Faithfulness has the utmost confidence that he will succeed! He has an incredible ability to inspire people around him. We are praying for the best for him in his new school!

Justus Maloba
This sweet young man comes from a family of seven. His parents are divorced and his mother is their sole provider. She makes a small living selling fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, its not always enough. Justus has had to repeat several grades because there hasn't been enough money to pay the school fees. One thing about this boy is that he is not much of a complainer and tries to keep positive no matter what comes his way. He is a pleasure to have on the team and is a force to be reckoned with on the field. He dreams of being a lawyer and a business man. We are praying for him as he finishes his last  2 years of high school!

Noah isn't one of our winners but is a young man we sponsored to go to school last year. He finished his course and was trying really hard to find an internship. Yesterday he called Kelvin to ask if they could meet. When they met, Noah told him how that morning he had sat and prayed to God really honestly about getting an internship soon. I think it was a really heartfelt prayer. Well, he went to town the same day and went to another company. To his surprise, they hired him on the spot and told him to start now! Noah was just elated to tell us the news last night. I think he was more amazed at the way God really pulled through for him. Anyways, we are super excited for him. 

The team has been playing a lot in the last couple weeks. Here's a few shots from their games.

 Warm up - I am always amazed at how rhythmic even their warm up is! They seriously don't miss a beat. 

 A somewhat dysfunctional team shot. I love how our goalie is saving the ball...

 Our team captain, Lolo. He came straight from school to the game. When was the last time you dressed like this to attend your college classes?

Our faithful servant/coach/co-worker Nicky. I will have to do a better introduction of him in another post. Kelvin and I are so thankful to have him! 

Our boys are getting a little discouraged lately as they haven't won many games. They keep drawing (or tying as we say) and their morale is a bit low. Some have even stopped practicing this week. Kelvin says they are playing the best they have in the past 2 years but its still not enough to put some wins under their belt. We hope they can overcome these small hiccups.

Keep praying for our youth. Our numbers are a bit low right now and we are not sure why. Even many of my girls have missed meetings the last few weeks. It's hard because we can't force them to come but we know that they are missing some good opportunities with us. One of our biggest challenges is dealing with stubbornness, pride, lack of perseverance and commitment, and other social behaviours. It's not just a couple of them - many of them have these traits that are just ingrained in them. Pray with us as we try to reach them on their levels and shower them with a lot of love and hope. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Stats

Ok, this is kind of a quirky post.

On blogger (this blogging site I use), you can see your stats. These stats are of how many people have looked at your blog, which country they are from, which browser they use, how they connect to the blog, and what words they search to get to my blog.

I like checking on my stats every couple of days just to see who is checking me out.

One of the most comical things for me is what people search on the internet which leads them to me. Some people just search "nikole macgregor" or "moving with compassion". A lot of people search words like 'compassion' 'africa' 'mombasa' etc. But can I tell you the one thing people search A LOT which totally makes me giggle?


Really people? You actually search on how to pray away bed bugs? It is one of the top 10 most popular things people search to get to my blog. It is also one of my top read posts.

I did write this post when I thought I was struggling with bed bugs. I eventually realized they weren't really bed bugs but a type of ant that roams around and leaves itchy welts on your body. I still get them today and I have switched mattresses and even houses.

At least it is getting people to read my blog. I hope they read another post on my blog to realize that my life consists about more than praying for bed bugs.

Oh, the internet!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Catching Up

I think the past 3 weeks of craziness has finally caught up with me. I woke up this morning with a terrible head cold that has forced me to lay on my couch and drink lemongrass tea all day. 

It's also giving me the chance to just catch up on emails, accounts, updates, paper work, etc. 

I travelled to Nairobi on Sunday night to renew my passport. I am so used to travelling with Kelvin that going alone has become a lot more nerve-wracking. Before I met Kelvin, I used to travel all the time by myself and it was no big whoop. But now I get anxious with out him. I also think I am more aware of the dangers of road travel in Kenya. Even as we were going to the bus station on Sunday night we saw a nasty accident between a motorcycle and a semi truck. I am pretty sure the dude on the motorcycle didn't make it. So sad. 

I did make it to Nairobi safely. I went the Canadian Embassy and applied for my passport to be renewed. Every time I step on that compound, I feel like I have been transported back home. Everyone is so kind, there is native art on the walls, our flag is plastered all over the place. They even built it in true Canadian fashion. I noticed that the toilet paper and soap dispensers in the bathrooms are ones from Canada! If only they would open a Tim Hortons there. 

I decided to spend the night at Word of Life where I went to bible school. It was so refreshing seeing old friends and spending time in the peaceful, quiet, cool village setting. I left on a 1pm bus yesterday (which didn't actually leave till 3pm) and arrived home at 10pm. Kelvin met his snotty-nose and overly tired wife at the bus stop, escorted her home, and prepared supper for her. Yes, I love him. 

Anyways, looking forward to getting a bit of rest today, catching up on some 'work', and snuggling with my kitty. 

Here are a few photos from the boys' game on Saturday. They have finally started up their leagues again after Ramadhan and the riots. 

Remember Kadenge? We were kind of disappointed in him since he returned back to Mombasa. He has sort of been avoiding us and the team. Usually the boys avoid us when they are doing something they know will disappoint us. We figured he had fallen back into his old habits of drugs and shady company. But to our delight, we found out that he was actually working hard to start his own chicken business! He discovered his family had a plot near by so he has been working hard on preparing it to start up his business. He has even been getting some of the boys involved to train them and help them out financially! Amazing! He came to us and asked if we could help him build a small structure for a caretaker on the property. We offered to help only if he promises to donate monthly to the team once his business starts! Amazing what God has done in Kadenge's life. 

 Some of the boys who didn't make the first team for the game. They still came out to watch. They also cleaned up pretty well if I do say so myself.

 Andrea and Kelvin. We have worked hard with this boy. We are praying for him and the decisions he makes in his life. He is a really good kid and is very devoted to the team. 

Noah has also just passed his Clearing and Forwarding course that we sponsored him to go to. He did really really well! We are praying that he can find an internship soon so he can graduate. 

See number 11? Yah, thats my husband. I could go on and on about how amazing he is. But I will do that another day. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Some new things

Do you ever get a 'new thing'? Something you obsess over, tell everyone about, use too much, and then eventually get tired of? 

Right now, my new thing is homemade pizza dough. 

I have always been hesitant to make my own pizza dough. I have passed the yeast in the grocery store so many times debating whether to buy it or not. I guess I have never been the greatest of cooks and anything that seems to flop easily is kind of out of my reach. I tried pizza dough the first time I moved to Kenya (in 2008) and it was awful. It turned out to be this like hard, flat, paper type thing. I still wonder how I got through that year. I don't remember making anything good.

Anyways, I finally took the plunge, was suggested a good recipe and tried it out. 

I will never go back to store bought. Fresh pizza dough is divine. 

We have had pizza more in the past 3 weeks than we have the whole year. Today I finally got the hunch that its getting a little bit old. Time to get a 'new thing'. 

 It's actually really cheap to make if you make the dough yourself. The cheese is the most expensive part but every thing else is cheap, cheap, cheap. 

And it looks like Neema has a new thing too. This plastic bag. She has spent the whole day inside of it. Not sure what the attraction is. Maybe its like her own little bedroom that no one can come in. Who knows, but it seems to be  her new thing. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Let's hear it for the boys

Since I was doing my girls camp, Kelvin decided to finally put together the under 15 boys tournament he had been wanting to do for months now. Once he got the go ahead from me (cause he has to consult his wife ;0) he went right to it inviting teams, buying trophies, meeting with coaches, etc. 

A small glimpse into how it went: 

 For the final match, we marched with the two teams, the supporters, and a couple of guys playing some drums from our office. It was cool. In true Kongowea fashion, everyone came out to see what all the fuss was about. Then they probably went back to their houses and gossiped about it the rest of the day.

 Um love the kid in the superman outfit.

 Kelvin towers over the kids. It's rare for Kelvin to tower over anything.

 Kelvin and his committee?

 I didn't realize how big of a deal trophies are around here. I actually got upset at Kelvin because he spent so much money just on trophies. Now I realize how much they mean to people and why he really wanted these teams to have them. This kid was enthralled with them!

 I think I enjoyed all the little kids who came out to watch the most. When a goal was scored, they would all run out to the field dancing and screaming...

...and then they would run back once someone came after them with a stick to get them off the field so the game could resume. 

Can someone tell me what kind of hat that is? 

At the end, some of the older men gave some advice/encouragement to all the players. 

The winning team! It was a really exciting match. They are actually the team from our pitch. They play on a small dirt patch beside our pitch. The next Rehma boys?