Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Christmas Feast!

We need to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who donated this Christmas!! Because of you, some sweet young people will be going to school, will be starting a business, and were able to have a really fun year-end party with the whole Rehma Crew!! 

When I had originally started planning for this event, it looked a lot different. It was suppose to be a small community feast but it turned into a large gala for our youth and their friends. It became a bit challenging as I had set a budget and raised a certain amount of money. It was really hard to stick within in this budget and still do all that we wanted to do but we managed to pull it off!

It all went down in a run-down bar...not my first choice of venue but it was actually a really decent set up for a really really good price. We got the whole place to ourselves with a big screen to watch the football games and a DJ to play tunes all night. We had the locals make enough biryani to feed an army so everyone got a plate or two. I had my sweet friend Paulina make us a delicious cake and got these two gentlemen below to help us decorate. Not all things went as planned. My deco was a bit lack-luster, the microphone didn't work, and we couldn't hook the computer up to the projector so we couldn't show them the awesome slide show I had prepared. But we still had fun!!!

 Emmanuel and Ryan came to help us set up and stuck around once people started to arrive. They were troopers as none of my deco ideas worked, the tape I bought was melting, and my scissors dull. 

Then the guests started to arrive! Each one of the youth in our programs were allowed to bring one guest.
 Zizou brought his sweet wife, Saumu, who is doing hairdressing school. Side note: I went to visit her at school this week and the lady teaching her told me that she will hire Saumu full time once she completes the course! Yipee!
 Riise brought his wife too who we had never met!
 Most of the others just brought a friend, brother, cousin, neighbour. 
 Allan brought his mom! So sweet!
 My girls looked amazing!! I saw them walking up to the door in their long, black buibuis. Once they reached the door, they took off their buibuis to reveal their colourful outfits. They were so cute!! 

 I got the staff to take off all the table clothes that advertised beer and then I put up some christmas deco. 
 Seriously love this couple! They are so sweet. 
 Time to feast! Actually, I didn't like the biryani. The meat tasted to 'gamey' to me. But everyone else loved it!

 I think the night was more about looking good than anything else. Everyone came dressed to impress. 

We asked the Dj to stop the music so we could do some speeches. We had a handful of people come up and say how much they loved and appreciated being apart of the Rehma Family. They all encouraged one another to stay together and grow closer so that they can help one another. One young man came up and only had one message "Stop doing drugs". He had stopped doing drugs a while back and is now doing so well in life. He is making lots of money, has a wonderful wife and newborn, and he is happy and healthy. It was also an honour to have Kelvin's mom with us so she can see what we do. 

After the speeches and cake, we danced! and danced! and danced! 

It was the perfect end to a wonderful year with the Rehma Family. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our First Anniversary

It was our one year anniversary last Friday (December 21st). I had planned to write some lengthy, insightful, inspiring post about marriage and love and Kelvin and Jesus and other stuff but our day was hijacked by a slew of visitors and a long to-do list for our Christmas banquet. 

I spent a good part of our anniversary here.... the largest crocodile farm in Africa. 

With these great people....

 ...the Rono kids. 

Swido, Virginia, and Emmanuel were in town with a friend, boyfriend, and husband. We planned to all get together on Friday but once we were together, we couldn't figure out what to do so we split up. I took the girls and their men to the Mamba Village Crocodile farm and Kelvin took Emmanuel and his buddy Ryan to the beach. We all had a great time. I always love being with these great peeps. Swido has been gone for almost two years studying abroad so catching up with her was wonderful. The crocodile farm was interesting with a strong flare of cheesiness. It was kind of cool seeing over 10,000 crocodiles.

We eventually said goodbye to them and Kelvin and I went on a coffee date at Java House just to hang out together. We were completely wiped though and were starting to get sicko so it wasn't the most romantic date. 

 A friend asked me how our first year of marriage has been. I told her that it was kind of like a roller coaster ride. There were a lot of highs and lows and sharp twists and turns but at the end you get out and say, "that was awesome! lets do it again!".  I adore you Kelvin. Let's spend forever together. 

Longing for Jesus

Christmas is over and I feel like I can now collect all my thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

This Christmas I longed for Jesus more than ever before. I kept finding myself just uttering His sweet name all day long. Under my breath, in my mind, on my heart - "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus"

It was more out of desperation than out of praise.

This Christmas season was hard for me. I spent most of it with a pretty heavy heart and a lot of discomfort. And I don't think I was alone. I kept reading about and talking with people all over the world who were feeling the same, mostly those who live abroad and away from everything comforting and known. One person even entitled their post 'Surviving Christmas'. Since when did Christmas become such a struggle that we must survive through? It was always a time of relaxation, rejuvenation, family, comfort, abundance, and food. But I understood this post. I felt like I just wanted to survive through this Christmas and move on.


I really wanted a real Christmas tree and I wanted to open lots of gifts on Christmas morning. Is that selfish of me? I have now spent four Christmas' in Kenya with no tree or gifts and, for the most part, I didn't mind that one bit. But this Christmas, I wanted lots of junk food in my stocking and some new stylish clothes and maybe a fancy gadget. I miss spending Christmas with my family and doing things the way that I did growing up.


It is unbearably hot here. Not sure what happened but it seems hotter than last year. It's made everything a lot more difficult and daunting. Plus we have are all battling some sort of head cold that is making everything that much more uncomfortable. You can't even sit still without sweating. Last night I had the fan blasted on high and draped my body with a damp towel and I was still sweating. Tears streamed down my face just wanting to be cool.


Kelvin's family is here and although I adore them, they do things differently. They don't even speak english so often I have been left out of the conversation. I am so nervous to cook for his mom that I just keep messing up. My rice has been mushy and my chai too strong. I am not even sure if I want to explain how uncomfortable I was having a chicken on my deck. Before we killed it on Christmas morning, I had to go to my room and compose myself so tears didn't decide to show up for all to see. Chicken. Blood. Everywhere. And me being uptight about cleanliness hovered over Kelvin trying to make sure everything was washed with hot water and bleach. At some point I scratched my nose only to realize that I just smeared chicken blood all over my face.


It's not always easy knowing that you don't have the means to buy your loved ones gifts. Kelvin and I went to the grocery store the other day and had the intent of treating his family to some nice gifts. Once we looked at the cash in our hands we realized that it was not going to be possible. We ended up buying some more expensive sweets for them all to share. However, it is even harder when I look around and see people who don't have any food or any family for Christmas. They are right outside my door.


My heart aches with all the suffering around me and all over the world. Shootings, bombs, sicknesses, poverty, dysfunction all around. One heart break after another.

Jesus Jesus Jesus 

I believe I have understood now more than ever what it means to long for a Saviour, to await the coming of Hope, to depend solely on the Son of God. How many times I had to stop and whisper 'Jesus' knowing that He was the only thing that could get me through this next day, hour, minute. At times I didn't even know what I needed or how to get there so I just murmured out His name.

And He did show up. I did get through. And I am doing well. There were great moments of joy and wonder. I did laugh and smile and make merry. We enjoyed family and loved ones and ate amazing food. Sweet breezes and cold showers cooled my body.

God is indeed with us.

 We prepared a huge Christmas feast. It was way too much food but we doggie bagged most of it and sent it home with everyone. Was so so thankful to have all of Kelvin's sisters there to help cook and clean.
 This was part of the chicken we killed in the morning. I was especially happy to see it eaten as it was waking us up at 4am cock-a-doodle-dooing.

We played some Rummikub. 

 It was Kelvin's twin sisters', Joan and Harriet, birthday on the 24th so we decided to celebrate it on Christmas when the whole family was there. I woke up extra early to bake it before they woke up. It was a pretty sad cake but it did the trick.
Then we had a dance party. 

Yes, He is really with us.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What my mother-in-law brings when she visits

Kelvin's Mom and twin sisters arrived this morning at our house. This is a BIG thing. Culture says that we are not suppose to stay under the same roof with her because we are married. Due to circumstances,     we have had to sleep under the same roof with her a few times so far. In April we visited her upcountry and, to my surprise, we were not allowed to sleep in the same bed under the same roof. So I slept on the floor with his two sisters and he slept on the couch beside me. We are suppose to build our own little mud hut somewhere else on the property that we stay in when we visit. We don't have the money (or the will) to do that right now. 

We invited his mom to come to Mombasa for Christmas and stay with us. He had to ask her if she was allowed to stay with us. She agreed and now she is sitting next to me on the couch. 

Let me just say right now how THANKFUL I am for our new apartment that has so much space that I don't feel totally overcrowded and overwhelmed. I like my space. 

Kelvin's mom came from the village with a variety of things that my mother would never bring. Here are just a few: 
- a large chicken to eat for Christmas. The chicken is alive. It's tied up on our porch. 
- 2 smaller chickens to give to Kelvin's brother who wants to start breeding chickens. They are in a box on the porch. 
- fake hair she bought so that her daughter could braid her hair.
- a whole sack of vegetables from her garden including sweet potatoes, maize, and beans - lots of beans. 
- CD's and DVD's of church choirs and gospel artists from her area. She doesn't have electricity let alone a TV so she never gets to watch them. 
- a VERY small suitcase of clothes (Mom, it is possible to pack light...)

None of this surprised me. I would actually have been a bit sad if she didn't bring a chicken for Christmas. 

I find Kenyans make pretty easy guests. They are really independent and don't need a lot of entertaining. Kelvin's sisters are busy making supper right now (can I get an amen?) while his mom is super content sitting on the couch watching her videos. We can leave them at home all day and they will be fine on their own. Because of the language barrier, we don't have the most vibrant of conversations but that will come in time. 

All in all, I am grateful for the large pile of sweet potatoes on my floor and having our house full of sweet family. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

They Will Be OK

I often wonder what will happen to our youth if Kelvin and I end up leaving Kenya for a time. We don't plan to leave too soon but we know it will happen eventually. I always think about how our youth will continue or if all will go back to the way it was before we came. There are some things that will not continue because the money will not keep coming in and we haven't quite found someone who has grasped our vision and is capable of taking over. But I would like to think that we made some sort of an impact and that some of the things we have started will continue.

We do have a young man who coaches the boys which takes a lot of pressure off Kelvin to be at every practice and every game. We are able to leave for long periods of time (like last week when we went for the youth camp) and know that practice and games will continue to the standard that we expect.

We also have a committee complete with a chairman, secretary, and members which is all made up of the boys. This committee makes all sorts of decisions mostly concerning finances and the team affairs. Kelvin offers support when needed (and directly mentors the chairman) but they run quite smoothly on their own.

So Kelvin mentioned to me last night that the boys have created their own little soccer tournament. Apparently, they have split the team into two I guess it is quite the competition between the two teams. Every Friday, they play against each other. The winners get money. During the week, they raise this money. I don't know if they ask people or they contribute themselves, but they get a hefty amount of money (and I am now wondering why I fundraise money for them when they can apparently do it themselves). This friday, they have managed to raise $50 to split. The winners get $30 and the losers get $20. It's a win win situation. However, there is a catch. The team may have won by 3 goals but if the chairman feels like their conduct was not good on and off the pitch, they will lose and the other team will get the money.

I love it!

I love that they, as a group, created this little system and it works for them. I love that the community donates. I love that they put more emphasis on good conduct than on winning games.

They will be OK if we leave.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Love Letters

I have decided to write love letters for all my ladies.

I want to encourage them and speak into their lives like so many people have done to me. I remember times where a few words spoken into my ear from someone I loved often shaped my vision or plans for my life. It confirmed things that God had already placed in my heart and desires. It affirmed me and allowed me to see who I really was.

I want to do the same for my ladies. Because they are some pretty amazing women. God created them for a purpose. He created them uniquely and with a great plan for them. He loves them. He fashioned them. He wants only good things for them. He placed desires and dreams in their hearts that He wants to see come to pass. And I want them to know that.

I have been busy cleaning my house all morning and praying about the words to say to each girl. There are some that are clear leaders and some that are peacemakers. There are some that have a flare for creativity and some who are great at organization. There are some who will serve as big lawyers or politicians and some who will serve as faithful secretaries or teachers.

Pray with me would ya? That I would speak words of affirmation and love into their lives.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Refreshing Youth Camp

Kelvin and I were sitting on the couch last night debriefing about this past week at youth camp. Kelvin mentioned the word 'refreshing' several times while describing how he felt about the camp. 

Refreshing is not what I would have said. Exhausting and Drained sounds more like it. 

As he continued, he began to describe all that we did, learned, saw, and experienced. I began to ponder about all that went on this week and suddenly 'refreshing' did sound like the right word. 

Spiritually, emotionally, and relationally refreshing. 

I think I mentioned that we recently moved to a different church. On our prayerful hunt for the right church for us, we came to Nyali Baptist. After the very first service, we felt at home. The church has an incredible family atmosphere. Once you enter in the door, you are considered part of the family. Kelvin was immediately asked to direct a Christmas play (which is presenting tonight!) and then was later on ask to be the director of their annual youth camp. 

This week was, for us, a way to connect with the people in the church. We knew a few people here and there but had yet to make any real connections. Kelvin, being the people person he is, instantly clicked with all the youth. By the time I showed up on Wednesday (the camp started Sunday) it was as if he had known them all for years. They quickly brought me in and made me feel at home even though I am the awkward white girl. 

The kids were awesome. They are the complete opposite of the youth we work with in Kongowea. They are kind, generous, polite, helpful, loving, encouraging, accepting, goal oriented, focused, well behaved, and so much fun. THAT in itself was totally refreshing. The speakers and the worship touched our hearts and lives on so many levels. We laughed A LOT. We danced, sang, smiled, hugged, prayed and loved. Physically, we were (and still are) drained. It was HOT - seems hotter than it was last year. Our program was  packed with very little down time. But other that that, it was indeed a refreshing week at camp. 

 Like I mentioned, the worship was amazing. There are some VERY talented musicians in this group.

Our dining hall. 

As camp director, Kelvin challenged the youth to recite as many scriptures to him as they could so they could win points for there team. He constantly had youth around him rolling scripture off their lips.

 Some VERY precious people. 

 The food was decent but it didn't sit too well with me. My tummy is still struggling. 

 Remember Senior? He is the worship leader for the church and is the one who kind of nudged us to come check out the church. 
One night, the theme was 'colour clashing' so everyone dressed up in the craziest, colourful outfits they could find. And one thing I will NEVER get tired of is african's singing and dancing, which they did a lot of. 

Lord, thank you for a wonderful new church and a very refreshing week with the youth!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mini Update

Sorry for the silence this past week and a half. I guess there is just not too much excitement going on around here to blog about.

My days have been filled with lots of cleaning and organizing of our new apartment. We are getting our first visitors come this week and next. I am trying to keep up with all the dust that flies in. The down side of the beautiful breezes that flow through the house is that they bring in lots and lots of dust. However, I will chose dust over a hot and stuffy house any day especially considering how hot Mombasa is getting now. I take two cold showers a day just to cool down my overheated body and rid my skin of all the sweat.

Kelvin is currently directing a week long youth camp for our church. I opted to stay home for a few days and get some work done. I will head out there on Wednesday morning for the last 3 days of the camp. I am looking forward to connecting with the youth as we have just joined this church and are still making friends.

I had my last ladies meeting for the year on Saturday. We started planning and brainstorming for next year. I want to change the structure of our meetings and try some new things. They also have some ideas that they would like to do next year like volunteer in the community and start a small income generating project so that they can earn a little bit of pocket money. I am really looking forward to spending another year with these lovely ladies.

Well, it's time for me to mop my floors and wash some clothes. See you next week!

Thursday, December 6, 2012


"What is it? Fundraising is forced humility, forced community through dependence on others, and forced action on spreading the story God has called us too. All the tough pieces of FUNdraising are actually really fun. I can say with full honesty that I LOVE being forced to depend on God and His community, I LOVE not counting on my own work but only His favor, I LOVE placing the needs of family and future in HIs hands and not my paychecks."

I read this on another missionary blog this morning. 

I wish I could write the same words with so much zeal and vigour. I want to get there. Actually, I am there at times. I get so excited connecting with people who so generously give and support us and our work. I do love watching God surprise us and pull through when I notice more donations have come in through paypal. I do love that I am forced to rely on God more than my own work, skills, doings. I do get excited when I get to see my husband truly thrive because he is using his passions, gifts, and talents to reach people. 

But there are lots of time where I am tempted to get impatient, nervous, or overwhelmed with all this "FUNraising". Especially when there is a lull in giving or things just keep getting more and more expensive. I get discouraged when I watch TV and see what people are spending in the West on the craziest things for Christmas and yet my sweet girls can't even get  $50 a month to go to college. (Side note: I was at a friend's house who has satellite TV and I got exposed to the show about Coupons. I felt sick to my stomach watching people gather so much stuff for themselves. I, as much as anyone else, love a good deal but do you really need 400 rolls of tissue paper or 80 packages of pasta?)

This morning I am sending out letters to all who have donated to us this past year or so. I am utterly amazed at how generous people have been and how much God has provided. As I am writing each name on the envelope, I am praying blessings upon blessings on these people's lives. I am so deeply grateful for the sacrifices they have made so that food can be on our table and our young people can have a future and a hope. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

We are in!

We are in our new apartment! And I couldn't be more in love with our house.

The moving process wasn't easy for me. I like to do things my way and be more in control but I let Kelvin and the boys take over and get all our stuff in our place. I didn't sleep the night before because I was just so anxious to move. So by 10am, I was pooped. We had all our stuff in our new place around 11 and I got to relax for a bit before I had to meet with my girls in the afternoon.

We still aren't completely settled. It's taking a bit of work to adjust to a new house and neighbourhood. It's much quieter here but we get very loud mosque calls at 5am that go alongside the rooster that starts crowing. Our bedroom is the hottest room in the house. It doesn't get the breezes that the rest of our house gets but we are used to sleeping in the heat. We also live in the back of an estate which has it's perks (like its away from the road so we don't get the noise from the traffic) but it also has its downfalls (like its away from the road which is where all the shops are). Kelvin went out to get bread this morning. 25 minutes later he came back explaining that he had to walk quite far just to find brown bread. I decided that I need to go to the supermarket and buy brown bread for a while and 'long life' milk (milk with preservatives). It may cost us a little more but it will make things a little bit easier for us.

Right now, I am watching a fuzzy Oprah since we are having troubles finding the perfect spot for our arial (which is ok since her topic today is about menopause-something that doesn't concern me yet) But as I am watching TV, I can feel the breezes and see the palm leaves right outside my window rustle around in the wind. So lovely...