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...