Saturday, August 11, 2007

I'm home!

I made it back to the states. I am in the process of unpacking and settling in. My trip was pretty uneventful, except from London to Newark I was bumped up to business class. I definitely enjoyed that! Debriefing went well, it was nice putting faces to the names of the people I had just been e-mailing with. I definitely feel like I am reeling a bit from it all but it is good to be home. For those who live by me feel free to stop by or give me a call. I would love to catch up!

Thank you all of you for staying in touch with me through the blog, it was an encouragement to me knowing some many people were interested and praying. I think I may keep up with this now that I am home too, but it may not be nearly as exciting. See there are no baboons or public transportation here in Milford, at least not yet. So feel to stay in touch!

oh... and yes, one of the first things I did was straighten my hair... :)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Thank you very much

Today is the day I leave Africa. I leave today, arrive in Charlotte tomorrow for debriefing, and then I am home on Thursday evening.

I want to take a moment and say thank you. Thank you all for your prayer and for your support. It was very evident to me that so many of you were praying for me back home. I have experienced the presence of God in very unique ways and will cherish this summer for the rest of my life. So again thank you all for your part in this.

Before I came my family and friends wrote me notes to open while I was here. They have been such an encouragement to me. However, one note was written by my dad and marked to be opened for my last night here. I opened the card and was greatly encouraged by it. I felt like it came straight from God. I have been praying about how He wants to use this summer and where he is directing my next steps. This card spoke right to that. One the outside it said "right now it's hard to see how this chapter of your life will turn out but rest assured our God is a God of happy endings... (inside) and new beginnings." The verse Jeremiah 29:11 was also written in the card which states "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for give you a future and hope." It is God's promise to me. So though I still feel like there is a lot to think through, I trust and know that God is in control. Furthermore, just like God used my dad to write this card even before I came here to Kenya to be a specific and needed encouragement last night, He has also used everyone of you as well. So again, thank you all for your partnership with me, I have been blessed through you.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Quinn and I went to have Sunday dinner with a guy named Daniel, his wife, and two children. Daniel is a Kenyan from the Kisumu who now lives in Nairobi. He works for SIM and helps the short-termers with all the things we may need while we are here. He has been such a blessing. He is great guy with a cool story of God's faithfulness. For many years, before his position with SIM, he had a hard time finding consistent work and in turn had very little, if any, money. Most days he didn't know where or when he was going to get his next meal, but he trusted that God would provide and he saw time and time again how He did.

For over 20 years Daniel has lived in Kibera slum, which is one of the largest slums in Africa. During our visit many people stopped by his house. One of the visitors was a guy named Dan who had a degree in Biochemistry. Dan is a Kenyan who lives in the slum as well. For the last year he has been unable to find a job. From their description, as well as others I have talked to, this seems like a common occurrence here in Kenya. Many times you will find well educated people doing odd jobs in order to get by because of the lack of opportunity. However, I also saw in Dan, as well as the others, a hope and joy that went beyond their circumstances. They saw past it all and focused on the hope found in Jesus Christ. They were able to experience great blessings in the midst of extreme poverty. I am extremely grateful to be welcomed into their home and into their lives.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Ahhh... it worked!!

finally they are uploading... here are some pictures for you:

this is our banda after we cleaned the gecko poop off the bed. you can't tell in this picture but the ceiling doesn't meet the walls and the frig was something else.... i felt like i was at a bad church camp. The fuzz around my head is my hair, lets just say it was a looonnnnggg bus ride.

this is our upgrade to a cottage... you may not be able to tell but we could.

Just some sunrise pictures...

these are our camel friends... the one in the back is George. He is the one who wanted to sunbath with us. Did you know that camels have a hoof like thing on thier chest? The one in front is the one I rode. He had a powerpuff girls saddle. Pretty sweet.

this is a veiw from on top of a camel, in case you were wondering.

this baboon may not look like it but he was definitely galloping towards ready to kill us and eat our lunch. The other monkey is similar to the one that tried to steal our breakfast. I mean really, can't they get their own food?!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Summer Theme

Well, I have been trying for days to upload pictures for you all of Mombasa but have not been successful. So instead I thought I would share with you the verse that kept popping up all over the place for me in ways I didn't expect... it was exactly what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it. This passage really has become the theme of my summer:

Proverbs 3:3-6
3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.

4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Leaving Mombasa

Since coming to Mombasa we have been able to do a lot of things and meet a lot of people in a short period of time. Some of the things we have done here is snorkeling, riding camels, and having a bonfire on the beach. We also have befriended two "beach boys" (not the band) and have had some very cool conversations about a variety of things, including God and life after death. Also, we were waiting for a Matatu yesterday and this huge pack of baboons, big and small, came out of a compound and walked down the street right past us. It was kind of scary and very cool all at the same time. Only in Africa. I love it here. Unfortunately, today is our last day in Mombasa and tomorrow we travel to Nairobi again. I was hoping to include some pictures before I go but I am having a very difficult time getting them to upload so I will have to wait until I get back to the Robe. Sorry peeps!

Monday, July 30, 2007

fun facts III

So I am in Mombasa and I am loving it. i realized that I have seen three oceans within the last year and i am not sure which one I like the most. So right now i am completely enjoying the Indian ocean... i have only been here for a day and half but it has already been an adventure and has allowed me to formulate enough for another fun facts blog. So here is the third addition comin' at ya...

1. I am not sure if Bob Marley is dead or not but if he isn't i know where he should retire. Mombasa fo sho. Rafiki has a very strong following here in the Momby (short for Mombasa). There are so many Bob Marley look alikes i am not sure who I should get an autograph from. So I guess I won't...

2. It turns out eating your lunch outside in Mombasa can be dangerous to your health. It may not seems like it at first. You may be sitting there quietly enjoying the ocean breeze and when you look up there may be a pack of wild baboons hurling towards you. Then you may find that your nice quite lunch may be quickly interrupted by screams coming from your own mouth as you hurriedly grab your food and run inside. You may then realize you are from Michigan and people may want to see this phenomena so you grab your camera and open the door to snap a picture. You may then realize that one baboon is very close so you slam your door shut. However, you smile to yourself because you are alive, you have a picture, and you just experienced something new. Crazy baboons.

3. If you are staying somewhere for $9 a night feel free to ask what the accommodations are like. Really, don't feel shy, just ask! You would hate to show up in a strange country in the middle of the night to a banda (shack thing) where the ceiling doesn't meet the walls, there is gecko poop all over your nicely made bed and pillow, the toilet is located outside, and you are living with a 12 legged flying bug type creature. I promise you would just hate that. However, if it does happen, feel free to make friends with people from Illinois who work for InterVarsity. They may just let you sleep on their couch. I like people from Illinois.

4. Sometimes you maybe lying on a white (I mean white) sandy beach minding your own business and you will find a camel who was once eating behind you quietly who decided he wanted some sun too. Unfortunately the camel probably has no concept of personal space. I would suggest you move your towel before he stretches out. But then again that's just a suggestion.

5. I have found the origin of the term "hakuna matata". It is the theme here Mombasa, not just Lion King.

Ok, there has been other crazy things that has happened here and I am looking forward to more but my time at the cafe is adding up so I must go! Hakuna matata!

Friday, July 27, 2007

I made it!

I made it to the Robe and along the way we saw a pack of zebras, some more baboons, and a huge pink mass in a lake that Quinn told me were pink flamingos. Seriously, I am not a big animal person but it is really cool to see these things out in the bush rather then at a zoo. Plus it just makes the eight hour trip go MUCH faster.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

No more "Teacha Katie"

Well, today was my last day teaching. It is a little bitter sweet for me. I am actually glad that I don't have to teach anymore (not really my thing) but I am definitely going to miss the children from the school, neighborhood kids, the view, and mostly the sweet Odoyo family. At the beginning of the trip I didn't think I would say this but... my time here in Kisumu was really too short. I feel like I have just gotten started and there is so much more to see and do. However, it was very obvious that we were here for a specific purpose and that purpose is accomplished. God has been very near during these past 6 weeks and I know that the remainder of the trip will be amazing as well. I will leave on Friday for Nairobi and then Saturday for Mombasa for some sight seeing. I will come back to Nairobi on the following Thursday to see some other ministries, visit some friends, and debrief. Don't worry, I have two more weeks left so I have plenty of more blogs coming at you!

Also, just so you can see them... here are some pictures of all the kids in my class. Couldn't you just eat them up :)?

Hello Mr. President

I met two children the other day. They were brothers. You'll never guess their names....ok, I'll just tell you. Georgebush and Billclinton. Yep, those were their first name. Vitalis was saying hi out of the car to Mr. Billclinton. I thought maybe he was just calling him that, but nope. It turns out his mom named both of them after our presidents. I didn't know if I should laugh our be honored that they thought so much of our president. I decided to laugh. My only regret is that I was unable to get a picture with them *sigh*.

Monday, July 23, 2007

New Life Ministries

We visited another orphanage on Saturday. The difference between the two was astounding. The orphanage was started by a British couple. They have opened several in Nairobi and one here in Kisumu. The orphanage holds approx 30 kids from 0-3 and then has another wing for about 10 kids. That wing in particular is for children who were not adopted by the time they reached age three. They are typically less likely to be adopted because they are HIV positive. The wing for the older children also houses a couple that are considered the resident house parents and they run like a family. The children are each others brother or sister and they see the house parents as their mom and dad.

This place was located in a very nice part of Kisumu and was immaculate. The workers were wonderful and it was obvious that they loved the children. However, again it was hard for me to see this building as the babies' home, even though it was a beautiful facility and filled with people who love these children. The reality of it still breaks my heart. Thankful most of these babies will be adopted into families by the time they reach the age of three. As well, most of the adoptions are domestic, which means Kenyan families are adopting these children.

The buildings each have an on site couple who are directors and are also considered parents. In addition the orphanage has a social worker on staff. These individuals, as well as the other direct care staff are Kenyans. Furthermore, I was told that the Kenyan government wants to begin using these orphanages as a standard for the country. After seeing the difference between the two I think this is obviously a very good goal however it may be a very long time before they are there.

The babies were very cute, one in particular touched my heart. He had a very bad cold and was having difficulty crying because of it. I picked him up and just soothed him. I am not someone who cries easily but I definitely was on the verge. Holding him in my arms, hearing him whimper, and knowing that at that moment I was the closest thing he had to a mom was one of the saddest things I have experienced. If I would have taken any child home it would have been him.


It is not just everyday I would eat a cracker called "Digestive" but let me tell you I have learned a very special lessons because of these little guys: Never judge a cracker by it's title. With a little bit of peanut butter and melted chocolate these high fiber treats are actually quite nice...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fun Facts II

I have had a bunch of random thoughts that I wanted to blog about so I thought I would join them in one "fun fact" blog. Therefore welcome to the second addition of fun facts!

1. Turns out my arms may be hairy then I thought. You see the children and adults are fascinated by the hair on my mazungoo arms. Maybe it is because they don't have any but I feel compelled to explain that my hairy arms serve a purpose for me in Michigan. I mean it does get below freezing there and what would my poor little arms do with out all that hair?? I shudder to think....

2. In case you were wondering you really can go a whole week with out showering if you just have a little foot powder for your hair and some deodorant for your smelly pits. I haven't personally tested this theory yet but my side kick Quinn has and in case you were wondering I didn't catch a whiff of her once. I believe my new hypothesis may be that showering is over rated... who's with me?

3. I was proposed to the other day. It was a dream come true. I was in the car with Quinn and the Odoyo family. Vitalis was over buying us pop and a tasty little treat when nice drunk gentleman came over to make friends. He talked with us a little at first, asked Susie to buy him some cigarettes, I shook his hand, and then after a cordial greeting he made his offer. Though I didn't realize what it was at first. He turned to Susie and said "I like them both." I smiled at him so naively thinking that he must of realized what nice girls we were and wanted to be our friends. I like new friends. Susie graciously said to him that unfortunately he couldn't afford the cows needed in order to purchase us for his wives. It was then that I realized I had received my first marriage proposal. Now, I have to admit it wasn't how I had always pictured it to be but it was definitely something special.

4. The kids at the nursery school are so cute. I mean seriously, I could eat them up. But I won't. The thing I love the most is when they run up to me, grab my hand, and then spend the next five minutes having a conversation with me in Luo. Did they forget that I have only been speaking to them in English the last month? The best part though is I have learned that if you have well placed grunts and noises they will actually think you understand them. Kids are so cute. I could just eat them.

5. There is another form of transportation here that Quinn and I have taken. They are called Boda Boda's. They are just bicycles with a cushioned seat over the rear wheel but let me tell you, what an adventure! The first ride we had on them was actually really nice and relaxing. We rode quietly down the street with the wind blowing in our hair and the drivers got us safely to our destination with out any wrong turns... ahhhh, what a nice trip. However, I have quickly found that this nice little experience would not be typical for me. One word to describe our last several rides... "wow!" They weave in and out of traffic and often time they don't understand the concept of "pole pole" (which means slowly in Swahili). I am actually surprised that I still have both my legs. I think today we will just walk to our next destination...

Ok, I think I will leave you with these for now!

peace and stuff.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Lidia's Home

We visited a fellow teachers home yesterday. Actually, we visited her home, her sister-in-laws home, and her mother-in-laws home. It was a big ta-do that involved an immense amount of chi and bread with margarine. They are all in the same compound. She is 19 years old and has the cutest little boy named Gordon... he was so sweet! We had a really nice time, though I kind of wish I didn't take the camera because when it came out all other conversation ended. Now I know for next time. But for you all it worked out because I have some ok pictures for you:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A little bit more about prayer...

There were two more passages that God has brought to my attention regarding prayer and God's desire for our life, even as it relates to suffering. I wanted to share them with you. One is in Jeremiah 29, which Susie did a devotional on two nights ago, and the other is in 1st Peter, which is what Vitalis preached about on Sunday.

Jeremiah 29 talks in the beginning about how the people of Israel have been carried into exile for 70 years. Which, I am sure, felt like a very long time to them. Plus many of them would never see the fulfillment of God's promise to rescue them from captivity because they would die before it was fulfilled. In spite of all this God wanted them to be content, to settle down there, and even to pray for their captors. The whole time waiting on the Lord and trusting in His promises, even while ignoring those who would try tell them otherwise. God then says to the people:

10 This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. [b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."

Furthermore in I Peter it talks about suffering:

chapter 4
12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name... 19So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

chapter 5 goes on to say...
8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

I wanted to included these passages because the reality is being a Christian does not mean an easy life for me, at times I undergo various forms of "suffering". And even though I pray for deliverance I am not always experiencing physical relief right away, sometimes it may mean waiting 70 years. But in the midst of it I am not left alone, God is with me and He calls me to surrender it all to Him, through prayer, faith, and humility. And God promises to restore me and make me strong and that He holds for me a hope and future. Furthermore, He promises that His peace, that goes beyond all understanding, will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sometimes when I am going through suffering, or when I see other people suffering, it is easy to forget who it is that promises me these things and just focus on the situation. I pray that God will help me keep my eyes, heart, and head focused on Him at all times.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Say hello to my little friend...

I just thought you all should meet my alarm clock. We have a love/hate relationship... he loves to crow loudly in the mornings and I hate it.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Before I came to Africa I had begun feeling like some of my long standing prayer requests were a little empty and routine. I knew God heard but was wondering what He was going to do and feeling a bit redundant. In reality I think I was forgetting how much God really cares. Since, I arrived in Africa I have been reading through the gospel of Luke. God has been using it to remind me over and over how He cares for me more then anyone can, how He really does hear me when I call, and how He longs to give me good things. As well, He has reminded me how empty prayer is without faith. Faith in who God is and in His promises. Faith that He is good, that He is powerful, that He is love, and that He cares deeply for us. This is one of the passages I read yesterday that reminded me of these things:

Luke 18

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'

4"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "

6And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Meet the Odoyo's

Seriously, I know some pretty cool families but they are definitely one of the coolest. The children, from oldest to youngest are Anne (yellow shirt), Sarah (the chick next to her), Stephen (red and white shirt), and Daniel (the other dude). Vitalis, the dad, is from Kenya and Susie is from Germany. *Side note: I asked her about my crazy thumbs and missing knuckle, turns out she has seen the thumbs in Germany... go figure!*

They are truly amazing people and completely live uncompromising lives before Christ. I am really glad that I get to spend my summer with them. Every evening we end the day by singing and praying together. Gotta love it. Plus Susie is a serious cook. I am thinking about asking her to move to Michigan, she keeps offering for us to take her sons with us when we leave, so I think maybe I could convince her to come with me instead. Megan, Jessica, what do you think? Are you up for a cook?

Here are some more pictures of my time here... (sorry nothing really note worthy has been happening. I have been teaching every morning and relaxing in the afternoon. Teaching continues to be a challenge for me but God has been beyond faithful and is giving me great ideas and patience. Praise Him! So if you are the praying sort, feel free to pray for me and the whole teaching thing. Thanks peeps.) Ok, with out further ado here are some pictures:

so I realize that I said I was going to add pictures but I am having a hard time... so instead I am just going to add a link. Christy, this girl from SIM came and took pictures of our ministry and sent us a link with the pictures. She pretty much is a professional and they are amazing pictures. Way to go Christy! here it is...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Raise your hand if your Sure!

I was in a Sure commercial yesterday. Ok, it wasn't an actual commercial but it should have been.

Picture this...It is a cloudy day in Africa and a mini-bus driving from the outskirts of Kisumu to the city stops to pick up three innocent Mazungoo ladies. They climb up the stairs as the money collecter guy yells "The Mazungoo's are getting on!". The three sweet and amazingly nice girls cram into this overly crowded bus. The seats are all taken and the aisle way is full of people. However, everyone kindly makes a nice pocket for the Mazungoos to fit in the midst the other ripe passengers. In order to steady themselves everyone is reaching up to grab the bar overhead. One girl with long, wavy blonde hair looks longingly into the camera. The caption below her reads... "Raise your hand if you are Sure." Unfortunately, there were some people who shouldn't of been raising their hands.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hippos and Tilapia

Today has been a good day. We woke up early after a torrential down pour in the evening to a pretty cloudy day. At first we were a little disappointed because we had planned on going to this place in Kisumu called Kaboko Bay and sit by the pool. However, our plans ended up changing some and for the better. Instead of sitting by the pool when we got to the bay we decided to take this little canoe boat out for a tour of some hippos. Our canoe was really cool, painted in fun worn out colors and the paddles where shaped as leaves. I kinda felt like a hobbit on our way to Mordor to drop off a some pretty little ring. We were just missing Gollum. Poor little Gollum, we didn't mean to leave you behind.

Our guides, who were very un-gollum like, were Morris and William. They were very friendly and sweet. They didn't try to bite my finger off at all. Plus, they not only took us to see hippos, which were fun, but they also took us to this little fishing village where we walked around. When I first got off the boat I was kind of nervous because I didn't think it was part of the tour and wondered where they were taking us. They started taking us through a small trail back into the island. We came out into this little fishing village. It was really neat and was a very fun experience.

On the way we picked up another tour guide named Thomas. Thomas was pretty nice too, however I think he was looking for a Mazungo wife. He first asked for my number, I kindly turned him down and then later on he held Quinn's hand. He is lucky I wasn't just playing hard to get, I might have taken offense! While in the town we went down to the little fish market place, it was kind of empty because people were out fishing, but there were some fantastic old boats lying around. As well, one boat came in with a HUGE River Nile Perch. It seriously looked like a small whale. I had no idea fish could get that big. I actually think it would have tried to eat me if given the chance. However, it had more important things to worry about, like trying to breathe, poor little guy.

On the way out we stopped at this little restaurant and ordered fresh tilapia. It was the best fish I have ever eaten. We bought a medium sized one that they brought out head, tail and all. Quinn, Kristy, the three tour guides, and I sat down with Fanta and a fish. We dug in with our hands and they encouraged us to eat the eyeballs. I kindly refused but did try out the fin, it was pretty tasty...

In general we moved away from normal touristy things and experienced some genuine Kenyan life, and also met some pretty cool people. It was a great day.

(sorry, but I don't have any pictures to upload. They were all taken on Quinn's camera but when I get back home or to Nairobi I will try and put some up)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Poisonwood Bible

I just finished a book last night called Poisonwood Bible (thanks Lindsay, Chaya, and Michelle who gave me the book!). If you haven't read it then just talk to Oprah Winfrey... she would encourage you too. Turns out she has a book club and it is one of the books on there. Gooooo Oprah!

The book is about a missionary family that moves from Georgia to the Congo. It is a fictional story, however, sadly there are some missionaries, past and present, who have had similar agendas. The father, Nathan Price, didn't come to Africa because he loved the people, but rather because he loved to be right. He saw himself as better then everyone else and toted the flag of Christianity under oppression of fear and pride. Thankful, this isn't how all missionaries are. Some come to love people, to live with them, to get to know their hurts, their joys, their struggles, and in the midst of it share the truth, hope, forgivness, and love found in the person of Jesus Christ.

The story is told through the eyes of Nathan's four daughters and his wife. I really enjoyed the book for many reasons, but what I enjoyed most was being able to identify with the girl's experiences, both good and bad, regarding Africa. Africa really is a different world for me, filled with many new experiences. It is also filled with people that I have enjoyed being with. As, I am settling in more I am looking forward to exploring the countryside, visiting homes, and meeting the people who make Africa Africa.

I will include some more pictures next time!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Living with the United Nations

Last night, in the house that I am staying in, we had some one from Kenya, Germany, Italy, Scotland, England, and the great state of Michigan (which is not actually a country but it turns out people from the states don't say their country when asked where they are from but rather their state, so I am just conforming to the masses people) all in the same house. Before we all disband I am going to take a picture of what I like to call the United Nations. There are many things that I have enjoyed since coming to Africa but one of the things that has blessed me the most is talking with other people from around the world who are following Jesus Christ with all their hearts. It has been beyond encouraging...

Instead of writing about the things I am doing I want to write about some of the things I have been reflecting on these past three weeks. It hasn't been anything spectacular and I definitely haven't had some huge revelation. Also, these past weeks have been anything but calm or easy. Instead, I have been feeling very stretched and very distant from the things that are typically comforting to me (i.e. home). At the beginning I was even feeling a pressure that I needed to experience something big or deep that I could bring back home to others. However, about a week and half into it something shifted. It wasn't a big shift but it was a good shift. It is a shift that has allowed me to experience His peace in a new way. It is as if I feel a steady current in my soul bringing me peace, comfort, and rest. A current that is guiding me forward. Also, the comfort He brings is a different kind of comfort than the comfort I find in the things from home. A comfort I know that comes straight from God's heart to mine. I just feel a deep reminder that it was God who directed my steps to Africa, not to accomplish my plans, but His. Therefore, I decided that instead of trying to anxiously look for what it is, I want to take it as it comes. If anything I feel like this is my summer away, my summer just with Jesus. I am looking forward to what that brings.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving
present your request before God.
And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:4-7

Friday, June 29, 2007

Fun Facts

I wanted to share with you some things I have learned:

1. Good idea: Bringing baby wipes with me.
2. Bad idea: Bringing anything white.
3. When driving to Kisumu keep your eyes peeled, you may just see baboons on the side of the road eating trash, so weird.
4. When you are showering and you think you feel your hair on your legs it may not actually be your hair but a gecko... just thought you should know.
5. Sitting in the back of a bus from Nairobi to Kisumu is never a good idea. Not even the seat belt can hold you down with all the pot holes you'll encounter.
6. and finally, "How are you?" may not actually be a question but rather code for "hey look, a white person!"

Also for those who were wondering... here is the inside of a lower end Matatu... some actually have TV's with music videos... so crazy! This is a 14-seater that was holding 18 people, one guy was hanging out the door.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Tea-cha Kaa-dee"

The thing I have dreamed of when I was 6 years old (and only when I was six) has come true. I am a teacher. I get to write on the chalkboard. Make lessons. Administer exams. Walk around desks and say things like "yes, that is good" or "no that 's' is backwards, try again" or "no, you can't cut my hair with your scissors". The only thing I am missing is a pointing stick... with time people, with time.

So instead of assisting in a class Quinn (when she arrives, and by the way she is doing MUCH better and is out of the hospital, praise God!!!) and I will be full fledged teachers. I don't think they realize what they have gotten themselves into making me a teacher.... :) The kids I am working with are a bit older, like 6-8 years old. Some have been to school but most of them have not, which means they are way behind other kids their age. However, most of the children who are attending this nursery school are unable to afford a regular school because there are so many fees associated with it. Therefore the Odoyo's, the family I am staying with, have started this pre-school in order to help these children get an education. Also, they hope to be able to share the life changing love of Christ with them as well as their parents. It is a fantastic ministry and is very well needed in the area. I will be teaching for about 3 weeks and then administering exams the final week of July. The school breaks in August and then will resume in September. They will need two more teachers come September.

Here are some pictures of the kiddo's at Joy Nursery School:

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Slums

Today I looked into the face of poverty. Grace, another short-termer, teaches at a school/orphanage in the slums. Everyday Grace rides a series of Matatu's into the slum and is escorted by a student to the school and orphanage within. As I sat there, I became very sad to think that many of these students call this home. Some of these children have witnessed horrific things, some of them are infected with HIV, and none of them have parents to tuck them in. Grace comes everyday with her purse full of band-aids and when she is not teaching them, she is helping to care for their wounds, she is comforting those who are crying, and feeling the foreheads of those who seem to be sick. She pours love onto these children and they absorb it like a dry sponge. The name of the orphanage is called Merciful Redeemer Children's Home but at first glance it may not seem to be too merciful. But in reality it is. Once you begin to hear the stories of the children you realize what a blessing this school and home is for them. Once you talk to James, the resident dad, you see the love and passion he has for the kids. And once you see and talk to the "Aunties" who care for the needs of the children, you realize that in the midst of poverty there is hope and there is love, something these children would have never received on the streets. Here are some pictures of my day...

This is the sign for the school:

Their home:

Their kitchen and one of the wonderful "Aunties" that take care of the children:

The slums that surround the school:

Grace and some of the children:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I heart small planes

Quinn and I flew to Nairobi today. That's the plane I flew in (don't worry Dad, I thought of you the whole time), it was pretty sweet under the circumstances. You see, things were getting pretty bad for Quinn in the hospital in Kisumu and they weren't giving her they help she needed. Therefore, her parents, through some of thier connections, arranged for her to be flown from Kisumu to Nairobi because the hospital and doctors here are much better and they allowed me to tag along. I have to say that after seeing her care in Kisumu vs. the care in Nairobi I am glad for her sake that we did. Though, it is sad to think about all the people in Kisumu and all over Kenya who don't have them same level of access to medical care.

Quinn is doing much better. I told her you all were praying for her and she says "thank you!" They are giving her plenty of medication so she shouldn't feel any more pain :). I will probably be driving back up to Kisumu by the end of the week and Quinn will follow when she is better. Hopefully that will be very soon!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Matatu anyone?

Ok, I did it. I rode a Matatu. Not to bad, they actually stopped for me. Other people not so much. I actually wish I had a video camera, I think you all would of enjoyed the adventure. I don't think anyone else in the Matatu saw it as adventure though so unfortunately i had to enjoy it alone.

The house where I am staying has a GORGEOUS view!! At night the sky is beautiful. We are surround by mountains and the weather is perfect! It is pretty remote and I have used the outdoor squatty potty three times. I am praying that I don't have to go to the bathroom all that much... you see, there are big spiders here. I have gone to use it twice and opened the door to find a big eight-legged visitor. Obviously, I decided to hold it. I am sure many of you would understand.

The family I am staying with, the Odoyos, are wonderful. They have an amazing story and I am touched by their love. They are very caring people. There are also two other girls here right now who just graduated from highschool and have spent 6 months here, they have three weeks left. One is from England and the other Scottland, they are very sweet girls! The living situation is similar to what I imagined. The house is kind of like living in the dorm. There is no fridge, there is no stove, there is no washer machine, there is no microwave, there is no boxed food, and they have wild chickens running around. There is running water but you have to use it sparingly so that they do not run out. But you wouldn't hear anyone complain. They know this is where God has called them and they enjoy the blessing from it. When I first arrived I thought that I would experience more culture shock then what I did. But I really don't, not that I don't miss things, I do, but I can see the good things about this life. I can see how protected the children are as they run around outside, without the influence of TV and the Internet. I can see how the family supports each other, and I see how the community looks out for one another. Things are much more relaxed.

I also went to the school yesterday. It is only about 5 minutes from the home and also benefits from a magnificent view. The children are amazed to see white people and often hold back at first. Though by the end of the day, I had many kids hanging on me and calling for me to watch them do something amazing, like a back roll, or cartwheel. All very impressive! :) I hope to include pictures of them in the future...

I also visited a government hospital on Sunday. One of the people from the Odoyo's church came down with meningitis and pneumonia. They went to visit him and Quinn and I came along. In that short time, got a small view of pictures I have seen before. This man did not have AIDS but there where others in surrounding beds that were suffering. The facilities where they were treated are no where near standards in the states. Sadly, we found out the next day the man died and his wife and four small children where left behind. This is the reality for so many people here in Africa. However, know that this man, even today, is in the arms of his Father.

Finally, I have a prayer request. Quinn has come down with a kidney stone and had to be admitted to the hospital. Last night she was in a lot of pain and so we took her in. The hospital she is staying in is a private hospital and is very nice in comparison, though still not like in the US. Please be praying for Quinn because the pain is very intense. She is now on pain killers, however once she begins to pass it the pain will increase greatly. She is doing very well in spite of it all and I plan on keeping her company most of the time. Good thing I brought Phase 10 :)!

Ok, my time is adding up so I should wrap this up. I just wanted to give you a snippet of things that are happening here. I probably will only be able to write two times per week, though this week may be different due to spending time at the hospital. And I may not be able to upload pictures. I will try next time but it may not work with these connections.

I will write more soon! Love you all!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Meet Maureen

Maureen has a amazing story and if I could recruit her to be a mentor I would. However, Maureen already is one. At the young age of 23 she is an inspiration to her whole clan. She lives about 20 minutes outside of Nairobi and comes into the city each day by a Matatu (scary minivan thingy). You see, Maureen is the first woman to step in side of a University from her clan. As well she is the first woman to learn English. She has dreams that shatter the current role woman are meant to play. Woman are often thought of as just property here and often they are not allowed to go to school, but work hard inside the home and marry very early, well before the age of 23, and often go through mutilating rituals before then. But Maureen's plans are different. She has plans that include a hope and a future. She wants to own her own business and one day start a school in her town for girls to attend. Maureen is an inspiration to me. It didn't take long to find out what drives Maureen and what gives her hope. It is her relationship with Jesus Christ. In Him alone she finds her hope and her strength. It was such an encouragement to talk with her. I can just imagine the young girls in her clan and tribe who when they see her and they see hope. Asante sana (thank you very much) Mareen for your courage and passion. What makes her story even cooler is that one day while working in the market before she started going to university she said a white man came up to her and asked her if she attended one. She said she did not. He asked her why and she explained that it cost too much. The man, without hesitation or any solicitation on her part, offered to pay for two years of university for her, and he did... Maureen never saw him again.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Kisumu here I come!

I leave today for Kisumu. It is about an 8 hour journey but really should only be about 2 1/2 hours but the roads are just so bad. It makes me a little more patience when I have to think about all the road construction that is tying up Michigan roads these days, especially the stuff by my work. I probably won't be able to post for a couple days (not sure though). But hopefully I will be back shortly!

Please Pray

Please pray for Quinn, the other girl eating roasted corn (pretty yummy by the way). She has had a really bad earache since we arrived and it isn't getting better. She just started antibiotics yesterday. Please pray that God would heal her quickly... thank you!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sooo Happy!

This is what I look like when I am really happy... why am I so happy you ask....

because God answers prayers... even the weird ones in weird ways!

You see Jessica made me a bracelet that was meant to remind me that she was praying for me. I had prayed that if it broke that it would break in a place where I could save all the beads, and that is just what God did. Let me just take you back to the night before...

You see, I woke up in the middle of the night with a bunch of hard things stuck in my pajama pants. I was just a tid bit out of it so I didn't think much of it and decided to go back to sleep. In the morning I remembered and began to investigate. Lo and behold there were all my beads tucked so nicely in my pajama pants. Now all I have to do is find some fishing line or floss to re-tie it! Thanks God!

But what is even cooler is that I felt like this was a reminder that God is concerned with the little things... even my luggage. Sooooooo thank you to all you have been praying because I found out about an hour ago that my luggage has arrived and is on its way to the compound!! Hence the happy face above!! Praise God for answered prayers!!!

Some Kenyan sights

Well, I wanted to share some pictures with you all! The above one is a group of the short-termers that are living in Nairobi and one girl on the end behind me is working in Ethiopia but came to Kenya to renew her visa. Most of the "short-termers" are staying for approx. a year. Like I mentioned before they are from all over. It has been great getting to know them. This picture was taken outside the Chinese restaurant...

This picture is the view from outside my window in the compound we are staying in. Because of the mild temperatures here in Nairobi things seem to be much greener. There also are some really cool plants I will need to take some pictures of as well.

Here is a picture of the sidewalk in Nairobi. This picture isn't too common for Nairobi. At least for the area we are in. You often see people in suits and such heading to and from work. It seems to be a much nicer area. But I think it is amazing that she can do that so I thought I would snap a shot.

Yep, that's me in a tub at a restaurant. There are only two possible reason this restaurant has a tub. Either people are really messy eaters here or the Chinese restaurant was converted from a house. I am going to go with really messy eaters. However, I gotta tell you, if there had been any soup in there I would of used it, no doubt...

Also, I had mentioned I would give you an update on some current events here in Nairobi. I am not sure if any of you have heard what is going on here but in case you have I wanted to write a little about it in order to appease any fears you may have. There is a group of people here that have been around for many, many years that are kind of like the Mafia. Recently, because of the upcoming election they have been acting up and have been causing some problems, mainly in the slums. The police have begun to retaliate in hopes to catch some of the members. However, in general things are pretty calm, especially for us, and we are taking the appropriate precautions in order to be extra careful. However, these precautions are mainly due to the fact that Nairobi is a major city and would need to be done anyways. I have been told that this is typical around election time and that I have nothing to worry about.

I would encourage you though to pray for the Kenyan people in Nairobi. At times, it is innocent people who get caught in the middle of it all. As well, pray that God will guide the election and intervene in order to restore normality and safety back to the area and people who are affected.

Finally, a big "THANK YOU" to those of you who wrote letters for me to read while I was here. I have been allotting myself one per day and am enjoying them all!!! Also, a gigantic thank you to Jessica because I think she may have been behind it all :). I gotta say I think i may have the best friends in the whole world!!!

Peace from Africa...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My first impressions (for my dear friend Gina)

There is a lot going through my head already and I am not sure where to start. So I will talk some about generalities and some "physical" impressions.

First off, they like to take things slow around here. Which I enjoy. We are stationed at the compound in Nairobi until Saturday morning because there is a lot of orientation that they take us through. The orientations really only a half a day allowing for free time. I had in my mind that they would take us to Kisumu right away so I am pleasantly suprised that we have so much time here in Nairobi. There is a lot to see and a lot of people I would like to talk too before I leave for Kisumu.

The first full day here I never made it off the compound but I met a lot of nice people and we had a potluck with all the short-termers. We had a really nice time of praise and worship plus I contributed nothing to the potluck but was allowed to enjoy everything. It was pretty darn tasty! Another cool thing is that the team is made up of some really diverse people. There are people from New Zealand, Thailand, Canada (yes Gina, Canada), England, and other cool places. That in and of its self has been really cool. It is great hearing peoples stories and seeing how they arrived in Kenya.

Today, I was able to venture out and see some of the city. It actually reminds a lot of China though Nairobi is little more spacious and missing the hairless dogs. There is no such things as sidewalks here in Nairobi instead there are dirt paths that line the roads. As you walk down the road you will see different markets, vendors, and kiosks selling a variety of food and merchandise. I hope to try the roasted corn at some point, I only wish my corn loving friend Jessica could share it with me :).

The roads are filled with minivans called Matatus, taxi's and buses. The Matatus are part of the public transportation system and are filled to the brim with people. A lot of times they are blaring music. They barely stop to let people out or on so you have to be quick. Usually someone is at the door to pull the next rider on. I haven't rode on one yet, trying to work up my courage. You see, I am just a Midwest girl when it comes down to it. Plus, I am not sure if I have the appropriate leap down yet. Practice, practice, practice. That's my motto.

Tonight I am going to go try a Chinese restaurant here in Nairobi... wish me luck :)! I will let you guys know how it goes... Also stay tuned, I hope to give you some sort of update on some current events here in Nairobi... hopefully I will put some pictures up as well. And also thanks for the comments it is REALLY great to hear from you all. I miss you tons already!!!

p.s. my luggage is still missing, if you guys think about please pray that it comes in before I leave for Kisumu... I am starting to get a little ripe :). Also a BIG THANKS to my friends that encouraged me to take my clothes and some other essentials in my carry on... it would of stunk (literally) other wise!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

So you think you can fly...

Well, I have made it to Africa. I arrived last night (which was really more like midday for you all) and slept like a baby. However, I have discovered three things during my nearly 20 hour adventure in air. They consist of three important lessons I would like to share with you all:

1. Be sure to check the carry-on requirements for luggage BEFORE you get to the airport. And yes the requirements are different for different airports. So in order to save yourself from trying to fit an oversize purse into an overstuffed backpack then be sure to heed this warning. And a BIG thank you to the lady behind me in line who successfully promoted the idea that Americans are ego-centric by saying "Well, in America we can have two bags!" I salute you!

2. If there is a lounge called "Quiet Area" just go in and check it out. It may not be a library after all but really a room full of lounge chairs put there for the sheer purpose of lying down and taking a nap... I heart "Quiet Areas"!

3. Always, and I repeat, ALWAYS bring an airfreshener with you while flying. I am now thoroughly convinced that some people get a sick pleasure from letting things fly in closed spaces. So before you go on an extended plane adventure be sure to bring something to take the edge off because you never know who is sitting next to you.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I thought it was only appropriate to say goodbye to my trusty blowdryer...

Goodbye trusty blowdryer! You have gotten me through a lot of damp days. You have been more to me then just some old blowdryer, you have been my wet hair companion. I know, I know, it will be hard for me too. But just know that my hair will never be the same without you... some people say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I say absence makes the hair more curlier...

peace out my dear trusty blowdryer, peace out.

Friday, June 08, 2007

It is almost here...

I'm off of work, the weekend is here, and Sunday is the day I leave. My bags are packed and my passport is ready. I have been anticipating this day for a long time and I am beyond excited that it is here. My plan is to use this blog to stay in contact with you all (plus I was told explicitly I had to or else... it was scary, I cried). So for my sake be sure to post a comment and/or send me an e-mail to

I also just have to give a very heartfelt "thank you" to everyone who has been so supportive of me. I am very blessed to have so many wonderful people who are a part of my life and I am so excited to share this journey with all of you! So stay tuned...