Friday, January 25, 2013

Outpouring of Love

Kelvin and I have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of crazy love that you all have showed us since we announced we are moving to Canada. Thanks to all who have rejoiced and praised God with us. Thanks to all who have assured us that this is God's doing. Thanks to those who have recognized that we take care of so many and now its time for us to be taken care of. Thanks to those who have given to the Rehma Family and to us personally so we can transition smoothly. 

We are definitely feelin' the love.  
Thank you. 
Thank you. 
Thank you. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

After over 4 years in Kenya...

...I am finally moving home.

Let me rephrase that.

We are moving home. To Canada. Kelvin and me. We.

Let me fill you in.

When we got married, we had no intention of leaving Kenya anytime soon. We were comfortable and we were thankful for the work we had. Slowly, we began to realize that it is incredibly hard to make ends meat in Kenya. I, for one, cannot legally work in Kenya. Even if I did manage to find a job, the cost of the work permit would probably suck up all my income. Kelvin has been involved in ministry since he finished high school and never got the opportunity to pursue secondary education. And running a successful business in a slum area turned out to be harder than we thought.

Around April, we started kicking around the idea of going back to Canada. I was against it at first. The thought of leaving Kenya broke my heart. But as we continued to pray, seek God, and see what is going on around us, we decided that going to Canada for a season would be the best option. What is in Canada? Opportunity.  Opportunity to go to school, to work, to start a family, to have decent health care, to save money, etc. It's a funny thing when you get married. You start thinking about the future like babies and careers and retirement and so on.

Let me just say that Canadian Immigration in no walk in the park. It is a journey in itself.

Upon researching the best option for immigration, we decided to pursue Permanent Residency for Kelvin. On the official Immigration website, it says that the average processing time in Kenya is 34 months. We had heard that over 80% of people are processed in 15 months. Yikes! That would mean we wouldn't be in Canada till 2014.

We began filling out forms and getting all stuff together. Finally, we sent the application in on September 17th.

December 6th, we get a letter requesting for Kelvin's passport. His online status said a decision has been made.

January 15th, Kelvin's passport arrives in the mail WITH A VISA TO CANADA!

People, that is less than 4 months!

We are leaving Kenya at the end of February! Why so soon? Well, Kenya is having it's elections on March 4th. It is really uncertain on how all will play out but if it turns out to be anything like last time, we definitely don't want to be here. It would mean a lot of staying in the house and waiting for weeks for things to calm down. Kelvin thought it would be best if we rushed a little to get out before elections.

Crazy, eh? We must thank God. Our Heavenly Father who surprised us with His timing but we are so so grateful.

We are excited and nervous and sad and anxious and ecstatic and all sorts of other feelings. I am not sure what awaits us or how we will deal with being in a different culture. Kelvin will go through culture shock and so will I. We will feel lost and scared and uncertain. But we will also feel loved and taken care of and hopeful. Kenya has hugely shaped the woman I am today and I am leaving a big piece of my heart here. Kelvin is leaving everything that he knows and has grown up with and entering a completely foreign place. I am getting all teary-eyed just thinking about all our amazing youth, family, and friends who we LOVE so dearly. Saying Goodbye sucks. It just downright sucks. There. I said it.

Once we arrive in Canada, we will be living in Castlegar for a while to get our feet planted. We are still praying about work and school and babies. We don't plan to be in Canada forever. Our hearts are still here in Africa. But we feel the need to get better equipped and supported to do the work God has placed on our hearts.

What will happen with the Rehma Family??

Because this has been something we have been planning for a while, we started a while ago to step back and allow the youth to take more initiative in their own programs. Of course some things will stop, but the majority of what we have set up will keep going. We still need a bit more finances before we leave. Currently, we have sponsored 7 youth to go to college and high school. Both the boys and the girls are starting small businesses as a group and need the capital to begin. If you would like to make a donation to help us ensure that all will finish school and businesses will be started, please click the donate button on the left hand side of this blog.

We cannot express your gratitude for all your support over the years. Kelvin is SO SO excited to meet all the people who have loved on us from afar. We will be seeing you all soon!

Tunawapenda sana sana sana!
We love you all so so much!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Twenty Thirteen

For those who don't receive our email updates, here is a newsletter we sent out re-capping this past year we our Rehma Family. If you would like a PDF copy, please shoot me an email and I can send you one. As you can read, God has been good to us this year and we are so so thankful for all you peeps who keep loving, encouraging, and supporting us!! 

Twenty Thirteen has already thrown us a few curve balls but we are adjusting and managing just fine. 

A lot of people chose a word for their year. A word that they live by, that encourages them to be better people, something to remind them of God in their lives, etc. I was thinking about choosing some sort of word but just couldn't come up with one. How can I put 365 days into one word? However, one word did keep popping in my mind. And that word was change

Not that I purpose to change, but I feel like so many thing in our life will change and are already changing.

One of the first big changes in our life is these three precious girls below.

Kelvin's three sisters, Tina, Harriet and Joan. We have taken them in to live with us while they are not in boarding school. They have been with us for almost a month now and it has been a big change that has required some major adjustment for me. Not only did I have to learn to cook for 5 five people, but I had to learn to share my space and time with 3 other people. Kelvin and I have been living alone for a year. Throw in 3 extra girls in the house and your personal space and time minimizes big time, not to mention your time with your husband. But I have adjusted and will really miss them when they head to boarding school in a couple days. It's been nice to have sisters around. 

 We took the girls for a day trip to check out their new school and tour around south coast Mombasa. We took some time to stroll the beach. I had forgotten how gorgeous the beach was!

Another big change is the Rehma Ladies. I have changed the program and my approach with these girls. I am backing off and allowing them to create and form a group that they believe will be empowering to them. I am there to guide and help but they create and make decisions. We had an AWESOME meeting today as they came together to share their visions for the group, some rules and guidelines to follow, and discuss an income generating project they want to start for themselves and the community. I am so so happy to see them so excited to work together.

Their first assignment is to plan and organize some sort of outing, event, or gathering for them without my help. I am usually the one who comes up with the ideas and connects everyone together to make it happen. This time, I have given them a budget and they need to plan and organize something for them to do together. I won't even be apart of it. So I am looking forward to see what they come up with next week.

 It was sweet Aisha's birthday today. In my sad attempt to make something special, I just whipped up some chocolate cupcakes and put some 'sparkler' candles in them. Throw in some sodas and popcorn and you got yourself a celebration!

Kenya will go through a big change in a few short weeks. They are doing their elections on March 4th. No one really knows what is going to happen but everyone is hoping that things will be a lot calmer than the last election five years ago where the whole country erupted into violence and 1000+ people were killed. Keep Kenya in your prayers please.

And finally, this time next week, Kelvin and I will be basking in the awesomeness of an air conditioned hotel room! Ok, so its not a huge change but you have NO idea how hot it is here and how amazing air conditioning feels. My family blessed us with a vacation at a local resort. After the crazy Christmas we have had, we are SO looking forward to a few days of pure relaxation.

More changes are brewing for the Opiyos. We will keep you in the loop!!!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Back in Kongowea

Today, Kelvin and I went to Kongowea.

Nicky has been running the business beautifully without us. He is also looking super snazzy these days.   He was wearing his cool new glasses (that we got him because he was squinting so much that it made even my head hurt) and a sleek button up shirt. I am told he finally got his National ID that has his real birthdate on it. 

Allan was busy doing most of the accounting and paper work for the business. He counts every shilling that comes in and out of our business.  He is also the chairman for the boys and takes care of all their accounts. Not to mention, he is a dreamer. He constantly comes to us with ideas on how to empower the youth. He asked if his sister, who just finished high school, can join the ladies group. I smiled and said, 'Of course, she can'. 

Agogo walked by, put his hand in the air to greet us, and then kept walking. He always seems like he has somewhere important to be. It's just the urgency in his walk, I guess.

Noah was sitting there as well. He just finished his attachment at a shipping company and is now looking for a permanent job. He has applied at three companies so far. Somehow he managed to get a flashy new touch screen phone. We all joked at how it looks like Kelvin's iPhone. 

Dula rushed to the office when Kelvin called him. He is joining college to study mechanics this week. He has worked as our 'maintenance manager' for the last year. We promised to put him into school this year since his mom can't afford it and his dad is a junkie. We made plans to go pay his fees on Wednesday. Before he left, he cleaned my centre. It was spotless. 

Eric popped in briefly and greeted me with a smile. He holds a special place in my heart since he lived with us for 7 months and some of my greatest friends sponsored him to finish school. He is growing out his hair now since he doesn't have school ragging on him to shave it all the time. This is the first day in 12 years that he is not going to school. He's just at home waiting for his results. He popped in and out of the office and went on his merry way. 

Maloba tried to greet us quickly and get out but Kelvin motioned for him to sit down. We gave him money last year to pay his school fees as he was one of our scholarship winners. We told him to bring us the receipt so we know that the money went for fees. He has yet to bring it to us. So Kelvin told him he needs to bring it before we pay for this year. 

Nuru popped her head over the fence to see if I was inside. Her brother had seen us walk by and told her we were around. I wanted to catch up with her so we sat in the centre and chatted. She explained to me how she used her photography skills to take pictures of an aspiring MP and then posted them on her facebook wall. Because of it, the MP wants to give her a bursary to go towards her college fees. She also just finished working registering voters for the upcoming elections so she has a hefty pay check coming into her bank account this week. She was asking me what I thought about her trying to help pay the school fees for a young orphaned girl in the community. I told her it was a beautiful idea but to make sure that she can also finish paying her own school fees. I love her heart. 

Linet popped in quickly to greet Nuru and I and then she left. 

Felix and his Dad showed up to talk about school fees since Felix won a scholarship last year. Kelvin explained to him that he doesn't hand out the money but that we go and pay the school fees ourselves. The Father was going to send the bank details for the school to Kelvin this afternoon. 

Abubakar was the topic of our lunch discussion. He had come to the office to say bye since he had just gotten a job in Dubai and was leaving the next morning. His mom made him come to see 'coaches'. She has a lot of respect for Kelvin since the day he sat in the hospital with Abubarkar when he broke his elbow at practice. She isn't even his real mom. She took him in when he was young because he was an orphan. Just as we were talking about him over our plates of biryani, we saw him in car that parked right beside us. He quickly hopped out and came to greet us. "Tommorow morning, I am leaving for job" he told me joyfully. I congratulated him and told him he will be missed. He turned to Kelvin and expressed his gratitude to coach once more. He called over his buddy and excitedly introduced 'Coach and wife wake' to him. Then he skipped on back to the car. 

Kelvin smiled at me. I smiled back.