“I Have Seen Many Men…”

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Sorry about slacking off on the Blog lately. We’ve really begun a steady routine here, so it feels like we’re not doing much, but still a lot has been going on.

On Thursday, we had Mentor Training! I wasn’t feeling very good, due to our culinary adventures at Carnivore the night before, but everything worked out really well, despite my sickliness! We started with prayer and a devotion, singing and testimonies. Then, I got to teach the FIKISHA Mentors about the Frontal Lobe, “Psychology of the Adolescent Mind”, and how to counsel the boys more efficiently. I was a little nervous about teaching, but everything turned out beautifully. The Mentors were really open and receptive to changing their counseling routine for the boys and they really loved the Frontal Lobe.

*The Frontal Lobe is the part of your brain that allows one to make logical and rational decisions, naturally. Usually, the Frontal Lobe doesn’t completely form until the age of 25-26 (sometimes 27 for men). The running joke is that one should wait until their Frontal Lobe has completely formed before they get married…so they know they’re making a logical and rational decision that won’t haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Friday (the 13th!) was also a great day! We had the Program and since Julia laid down the rules on Tuesday, the Mentors really started reinforcing them! They had a pat-down before the meeting – anyone who was carrying anything got it taken away and they weren’t allowed to come to the meeting and had to leave church property – but, there were still quite a number of boys there! It was wonderful to see that there were guys who really wanted to change their lives. We even had 2 new boys show up!! The rules are pretty tough and they’re really going to be strict about it. Hopefully, this will show the boys that we’re serious about helping them if they’re serious about getting help.

During the Program, Dan lead most of the group discussion. We had the boys get into small groups with a Mentor or two and make some goals. Each boy discussed which step of the 12 Step Program was the most difficult and made some realistic goals to strive for until Program on Tuesday. They each wrote them down and gave their goals to the Mentors, who will help hold them accountable over the weekend. The discussion went very well and the boys seemed really responsive to the idea of accountability and helping each other out! I’m so excited to see if this really works and/or if they really stick with their goals!

Today, both Dan and Alyssa woke up sickly. We were supposed to meet everyone at 10:00am this morning to clean up the church, but they both needed the morning to recoup from runny noses, really sore throats and just a general feeling of being run down. Life has really been hard on us – we walk roughly 1 mile to the matatu, drive in a rusty VW Bus behind diesel exhaust and dirt, walk another mile to church, play and work in not the best air conditions, turn around and go back home. So, after walking around 4 miles every day and being around people all the time, it doesn’t surprise any of us that we’re sick. Hopefully, this is only a one-day thing, so tomorrow we’ll be back to 100% and ready for the week!

Prayer Requests:

  • The Street Boys’ Goals – Please pray that the boys can meet their goals and feel good about them! Pray that the rule changes and strict policy on the church compound helps the boys and keeps out the ones who come just for the food. Pray that God uses the Mentors to change lives and encourage the boys in their walk to stay clean and grow in their faith!
  • We’re All Sick! – All three of us have been sick in one way or another this week. Please pray for health and that God, our Great Physician, heals us so that we can minister to these boys and support the Mentors to the best of our abilities!
  • FIKISHA Mentors – Pray that God sustains our Mentors and encourages them in their spiritual walk. Pray that they use the information we’re teaching them to run the Program more successfully, that they may reach out to the boys and encourage a life change in them. Pray that they fill their spiritual cups as they pour over the boys and that God blesses them and guides them in all they do!
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Who’s Harvey?…Life in Kenya

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Today, we went to the Giraffe Center and got to feed the giraffes!!! I wish I could post pictures because they are awesome, but the little internet modem that could cannot. So, you’ll just have to wait until I get back to the States to see our memories unfold.

We got to feed the giraffes and give them hugs. Dan and Alyssa both got to kiss them too! A.k.a…they hold a piece of food between their lips and the giraffe will lick it out of their mouths. Pretty disgusting, but apparently their tongues are anti-septic, so it’s good for you!

After the giraffes, we went to dinner at Carnivore…yes, this former vegetarian went to a restaurant called “Carnivore”. I think I filled up my meat quotient for the rest of the year! We got to eat all kinds of different meats – beef sausage, chicken, pork, pork spare ribs, camel, ostrich meatballs, bull testicles, crocodile, ox heart, lamb, and ostrich off the bone. It was pretty cool and very tasty, but it’s a little disheartening knowing that the cost of one day out was more than a month’s worth of salary for most of the people here in Kenya. Yes, we had a great day and lots of memories were made, but it doesn’t take away the distaste of poverty.

I’ve been spending most of this time talking about what we’ve been doing and I don’t think I’ve really explained what it’s like to actually live in Kenya. Granted, I’ve only been here for a week, but even a week is long enough to experience the life of most Kenyans, the people who live in the slums.

I was talking to Thomas again yesterday and he gave me some great insight into what it really looks like for someone to live in the slums. Keep in mind, most of Kenya either lives in a slum or in the rural part of the country, so what I was told is a pretty accurate picture of life here.

Most people live on less than $1.00 a day. Even though they may have a job and a paycheck, the best job to have in the slums is teaching at a school. The average salary for a teacher is around $100.00 a month, which is enough to pay for food every day, rent on a house or apartment (remember, the houses and apartments aren’t the same here as in the U.S.) and general living costs. Food is sparse for some families. Most people only eat two meals a day – breakfast and dinner or lunch and dinner. Some families don’t have enough money to feed their children, so they might just have one meal a day, which would probably be lunch, and that’s it. Thomas said that some people have no idea where their next meal will come from, so if they’re given food (like we do for the boys on Program days), it’s a large meal and they eat a lot of it. Their next meal might not be until the next day or even the day after that.

A typical day in Kenya – Wake up early morning, before the sun rises, and eat some breakfast, if there’s food. Tea and chapatti is a special treat. Most people just eat sliced bread with tea or instant coffee. Once breakfast is done, they’ll walk an average of 5 – 10 miles to their job, depending on where it is. A lot of people work in town, in Downtown Nairobi, so they either walk to their job, which is about a 3 or 4 hour walk, or take the matatu (the VW Bus I was talking about). Some people who have the money will even take the bus every day, but this can be expensive. (Side note: a matatu costs around $0.25 a trip and the bus is about $0.75)

In the slums, the men are the ones who have the jobs outside of the home. There’s so much to do in the home for the women, they don’t have time to get a job. So, most homes live on single incomes. There are a lot of different kinds of jobs someone can have, but most of them are manual labor or require some kind of skill, like being a hair stylist, a butcher, repairing electronics or cars, etc. For the women, their jobs are to take care of the children (many are not in school because the family cannot afford it), do laundry, clean the house, cook (it can take all day to prepare dinner!) and maintain the home.

Whatever the job is, lunch is either rice and beans or another staple food, if it’s available or they have enough money to buy it. After the work day is finished, they’ll make the long trek back home – walking, matatu or bus – but, they have to be back home before dark. Once dark hits in the slums, it can get very dangerous. A common prayer for those living in the slums is “keep us safe in the night, protect us in the darkness.”

Families sleep together on small, foamy mattresses – up to 15 people to an apartment (8 x 8 room), which can happen, especially in Kibera. Some homes have beds, but this is a luxury and requires a lot of money, so most people just sleep on the floor.

A typical work week is Monday through Saturday, again, depending on the job. Almost everyone takes off Sunday for church and a rest day, but even people who own businesses in Congo (the main area of Kawangware) don’t get a day of rest. Since Kenya is a Christian nation, there are thousands of churches in Kawangware. Most people profess to be Christians, but like America, they don’t necessarily go to church nor have any kind of spiritual life. I think the last census in 2009 said that 80% of the country is Christian, but that might be a little high. The next popular religion is Islam. In Kawangware, there is only one masque, but in all of Kenya, it’s becoming a popular religion.

It’s All in the Timing – Time in Kenya is also very different. Instead of living by the clock, people don’t really care about it. Church always starts on time, but it’s not uncommon for many people to show up 30 minutes or an hour late, and that’s okay!

In Kenya, people enjoy life. They strive for fellowship with one another and take the opportunity to spend time with friends. For the last week, most of our time spent in Kawangware consisted of just sitting around and hanging out. No agenda, just talking and enjoying life together. Everyone’s priorities are focused on establishing and maintaining friendships with one another. You could be walking to meet a friend, see someone in the street and stop to talk with them for an hour. Then, when you eventually meet up with your friend, you could be an hour “late”, but they won’t mind. They see the value in the decision to stop and chat.

Life in Kenya is fantastic and I’ve enjoyed being able to connect with people on a personal level. Most of the white people who come to Kenya only get to see a sliver of poverty, but a whole lot of white-washed tourism – safari, giraffe park, Carnivore, etc.

I hope this blog is changing your perceptions and is showing ya’ll a different kind of Kenya – the real Kenya!

Dirty Jokes

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Today was the house blessing for 3 of the boys who are clean and sober. It was fantastic! We met up with everyone at the church and walked about a mile to the boys’ apartment. Again, in typical Kawangware fashion, their apartment was one small 8 x 8 room with a concrete floor, metal siding and a metal roof. No rug or carpet, only beds.

Even though the room was the small and didn’t boast of much, we fit about 13 people in this little room! 13 loving and caring people. 13 people who wanted these boys to succeed and find life outside of drugs and living on the street. We prayed over the house, everyone got to say a little something, we gave them some presents (flour, sugar, salt, tea, soda and rice) and the boys made some tea for us. They didn’t have enough cups for all of us, so some of the people went back to the church to get some. While we were waiting for them to come back, we had a chance to talk about Kenyans – relationships, parenting techniques, baby names – then, there was an incident.

All of a sudden, there was this awful, terrible smell coming from outside. I thought some kid had walked by and literally pooped by the door as a joke. Nope. It was worse. A woman outside was yelling something to another woman down the way. James, one of the FIKISHA mentors, went to check things out. He came laughing and told us that a small child, maybe 2 or 3 years old, had fallen into the sewage ditch. One of the women found him and instead of helping him out herself, she yelled at his mom to come and get him, so James came to the rescue and pulled him out. As he was telling us this story, the little boy walked by us and he was totally covered in…well, you get the idea. Before he got cleaned up, his mother punished him because he was supposed to stay with his brother, but he ran off instead. What can you do? S**t happens…

The rest of the day was really low-key. We hung out at the boys’ apartment for a little bit longer and walked back to the church to have a meeting to talk about the rest of the week and our time here. After the meeting, I had an awesome conversation with Thomas, one of the FIKISHA mentors and their Spiritual Coordinator guy and groundskeeper for the church. This guy is incredible! He has a great testimony, which I’ll share another time, but he’s also very wise and super intelligent. We talked a lot about the street boys and changing the program a little bit, faith and life with God, and then we ended having a lovely conversation about relationships and marriage. He gave me some great insight and advice that I really needed – basically, pick a guy who’ll stand in your corner and fight for you and your family. Marry your best friend. “The best spouses are best friends,” he told me. What a great guy! I’m so excited that I’ll have some time to talk more with him!

Prayer Requests:

  • Joshua, Boniface, and George moved in today! – Please pray that these boys stay strong in living in their new apartment. Pray that God continues to guide them as they stay sober and help them see His will in their lives. Praise Jesus for the blessings He has lavished upon these formerly lost souls.
  • Professional Counselor/Psychologist MUCH NEEDED! – Due to the drug abuse and psychological trauma most of the street boys suffer from, there is a great need here for professional psychological help. These boys have been through so much and they need some professional help to guide them and help them process the things that have happened to them. Please pray that God provides for this community with some kind of mental help. This is definitely a great need for these kids on their road to recovery.
  • Continued Prayers for Safety and Guidance – Please pray for God to watch over us during our time here and that He guides us in all we do. We are constantly seeking God’s will here in everything we do and we know that He has something great for us and FIKISHA. Pray that He opens our eyes to what that is!

“Where Did You Get That?!”

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Happy Mother’s Day from Kenya! It’s Mother’s Day here too, so we celebrated in church today by thanking all the mothers who love their children. I think Mother’s Day is an important event here in Kenya because many families only consist of the mother. Today, we visited some of the families who have boys that get sponsored education through FIKISHA. We met with three families in three different homes and there were no fathers to be found. We’re talking huge families too! Two of the mothers had 8 children! Imagine taking care of 8 children alone – feeding, clothing, caring for 8 kids! The mothers were so happy for FIKISHA and the sponsors who provide education for their boys.

Before all of the home visits, we went to church in Kawangware. The street boys get to have their own worship service before the congregation gets there. To say politely, they’re a little rough around the edges and the regular church goers don’t really feel comfortable having them in worship with them, which is actually good because their attention span is incredibly short because most of them come high.

The street boys’ church was great! We started by singing songs a capella, with a djembe (African drum). It was interesting because one boy would start singing a song, they’d sing one or two verses, get bored, and another boy would just jump in with a totally different song, but using the same beat. I think we blew through 5 or 6 songs in about 4 minutes, but they were really enjoying it.

After the singing, we prayed and I got to give a sermon! Yes! I finally got to preach from the pulpit…well, there was no pulpit and it was quite interactive, but it was a sermon nonetheless! We read from 1st John 4 and talked about God’s love for us. I asked them what the meaning of love was and they were pretty on the ball about it. When we started talking about loving ourselves and loving our neighbors, I started the get a little teary-eyed. It was really difficult trying to convey love for ourselves to the boys – love for God’s creation, our bodies, and not destroying it by getting high for a “quick fix”. I held it together (rather rare for me, I know) and gave them a challenge for the week: no sniffing! Hapana vuta! (Stop sniffing!) I also challenged them to love one another by keeping each other accountable. They really responded to my sermon, especially when I told them that they were like little walking Christs, representatives of God. So, we’ll see how well they remember. I’m really excited to remind them throughout the week about it!

After the street boys’ church there was regular church with the congregation. It was awesome! Everyone dresses in their best – traditional African headdresses, suits, African printed dresses, whatever your best is. The order of worship was very Lutheran – singing, readings, singing, prayer, confession and absolution, choir singing, etc. There were two choirs and two very different songs. I think one choir was “traditional” and the other was “contemporary”. Yes, in Kenya, this is a debate: traditional and contemporary. Traditional service consists of the usual: organ, hymns, stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight! The “contemporary” part is loud music, dancing in the aisles, singing loud, yelling, hand motions, a “band” (recorded music) and lots of cheering. The pastor clearly did not like the contemporary portion. The entire congregation was up in the aisles, dancing and singing, and the pastor was sitting down and looking out the window. Haha! Some debates live everywhere, unfortunately.

During the adult sermon, the kids and youth leave for Sunday school. I got to teach the older kids about vocation and discipleship from Ephesians. They were attentive, but just like American kids, they were a bit apathetic. Regular church going kids tend to be this way. We had some extra time, so we played a few rounds of “knots”.

After church, we had lunch at a little restaurant by the church. I had beef stew and chippoti, which is like a tortilla married Indian fry bread and chai (Swahili for “tea”). After lunch, we did our home visits for three of the boys, plus we went to two of the mentor’s homes: Paul and Moses.

Let’s talk about a Kawangware home. Just like any community, there are levels of financial wellness. We went to five different homes today. Three of them were family homes of the boys being sponsored by FIKISHA. These houses are very small, maybe 10 x 10, including all of the rooms. They consist of one or two rooms (living room and a kitchen or bedroom), concrete floor, metal siding for the walls and the roof, an open door way with a curtain as the door, lots of dirt, very hot! Some of them had windows and some of them did not.

Paul’s home nicest we saw, probably one of the nicer homes in the slums. They had both Mom and Dad present, which makes a huge difference. Two incomes makes for a nicer home. They had five or six small rooms, living room furniture, a TV and nice TV armoire, and a door. Still, the floor was concrete and the walls were made from metal siding, but they had windows in the front of the house and rugs on the floors.

These physical homes aren’t anything by American standards, but what was the most impressive were the people inside – warm, loving, Christian people with huge hearts and joy in their souls. They were so thankful for FIKISHA and the sponsors who provide education for their boys. They welcomed us into their homes with open arms and were proud to have us there. It was amazing to feel instantly loved by these people and see their gratitude and happiness in their tears. It took everything in me not to burst out into tears when seeing these people and seeing how happy they are, despite their financial or family situation. These people are Kenya.

P.S. Alyssa, Dan and I all got to hold three different Kenyan babies today!!!

Prayer Requests:

  • Peter, Josh and George’s house blessing tomorrow – These boys were on the street, sniffing glue and getting into trouble, but they’ve cleaned up their act and are now moving into a “safe house”. Tomorrow, we’re going over to do a house blessing/dedication for them. Pray that God continues to keep them sober and that they keep each other accountable in this new way of living.
  • Margaret’s New Business – Margaret, one of the FIKISHA sponsored boys’ mother is looking into starting a new business and she needs financial donations. Please pray that God provides for her so that she can feed her 8 children.
  • Frankie! – This woman is amazing! She is the grandmother of Clement, one of the FIKISHA boys, and is absolutely an incredible woman of God. Pray for God’s blessings, that He reigns down on her. She’s a huge light to her children and those who know her. She’s been a little burned by the Church lately, so pray that God blesses her with a spiritual home at the Lutheran Church in Kawangware. Praise God for Frankie!

The Little Internet Modem That Could

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Jet lag is the worst! Alyssa and I both woke up this morning at 4:00am, wide awake and ready for the day. I spent some of the time debriefing from yesterday and the rest of the 3 hours we had until we actually needed to get up, we talked about everything – FIKISHA’s future, Kawangware, the street boys, and everything in between.

I’ve still been having a really difficult time adjusting to this concept of extreme poverty. After seeing the boys yesterday in the meeting and feeling completely helpless, I had an overwhelming feeling of “I just want to go home!” Alyssa was fantastic in calming me down and validating my feelings, especially since it seems to be a normal feeling of flight when one sees something so horrendous. She’s been amazing in helping me adjust to life in the slums and what it means to reach out to this community. While we may not be able to change the situation immediately, if at all, we are called to share God’s love to those in need…and these people are in serious need. I continue to pray that God blesses us here and especially shows me His will in me being here. Raising roughly $2,000 in 10 days definitely means something and I’m very excited to see how God uses my time here.

So…moving on…we finally got ready and out the door around, walked to catch the matatu and trekked in 2 feet of mud on our way to the church in Kawangware.

While it rained again last night, we didn’t have quite the mud disaster that we found ourselves in yesterday – we got stuck in this watery, muddy mess while several Kenyans overlooked and laughed. We were fortunate enough to have Moses (one of the FIKISHA mentors) meet us at Congo, the main drag, and he prepared the best possible path for us on our way through the muddy streets of Kawangware. Taking the right-hand path was definitely the best possibly solution and we all managed to get out practically mud-free…except for Dan. Four or Five children who were following us (who constantly ask “How are you? How are you?” as we walk through the slums) was holding Dan’s hand. He tried to pull his child-captive hand free when he started to slip, but it was no use. He was already on the ground, children pointing and laughing, when we turned around to see where he was. Fortunately, the damage was minimal – he only lost one hand to the muddy mess.

The rest of the day was awesome! Dan went with the boys to clean up the police chief’s office (the street boys get arrested a lot and they wanted to do something to show the police they still cared) and Alyssa and I spent the day with Marci (another FIKISHA mentor) cooking all day. We made Pilau, a combination of rice, beef, tomatoes, onions, TONS of garlic (I hand-peeled 5 or 6 cloves of garlic!) and masala-pilau spices. This was so authentic and legit. No electricity, only our hands and fire. Everything turned out delicious and all the boys were fed. The cost for everything? Roughly $0.75 a person and we had leftovers.

The rest of the day, we spent time with the kids and street boys, I learned more Swahili and then we walked home and cooked our own dinner! Rice, chicken sausage, and eggs. We’re running a little low on supplies. Here are a bunch of other pictures from the day. Enjoy and praise God for our time here!

I have a ton of pictures, but due to the little internet modem that could, I probably won’t be able to post them until I get back into the States.

Stay tuned! More to come tomorrow…Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! 🙂

“Kenyan Time”

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Honestly, I don’t even know where to start today. Life in Kenya has taken all my expectations and turned them upside down. Everything is so different than what I thought it would be, almost like a dream that ends up being a disappointing, yet exciting reality in the end. I had no idea how much I would be changed by my time here.

Let me start at the beginning…

We arrived in Nairobi this morning around 12:30am. By the time we got our visas in customs, got our bags from baggage claim and drove out to the Luther Guest House, it ended up being 2:00am. We were exhausted, but strangely our minds were excited for the day to come! We all stayed up for a few hours, unpacking and settling into our rooms in the house, and talking about all the fun things we’ll be doing while we’re here. We crashed around 5:00am, just as the sun was peeking out over the trees.

This morning, we woke up around 10:00am and met up with Moses and Dennis, two of the FIKISHA mentors who were to be our tour guides/security guards for the day. We took a matatu to Kawangware, where we were going to have breakfast…at 11:00am…Kenyan time. I love Kenyan time. Everything is flexible and relaxed. So, when someone says, “Let’s meet at 10:30am, Kenyan time”, they really mean around noon.

A matatu…think VW Bus with 15 people crammed in, skidding through the crowded streets of Nairobi. It’s 25KSH (shillings) for a one-way ride.25KSH would be the equivalent of roughly $0.35 in US Dollars, just to give you an idea of what the money is like here.

While wizzing through the suburban outskirts of Nairobi, I was really excited to see where we’d be serving. We finally approached Kawangware and I was astonished at everything I saw. Words cannot describe the community in Kawangware, but I will try my hardest to paint the picture of today.

Everything is dirty and muddy. Nothing is new. Most of the stores and homes are all made out of metal siding, cardboard, wood and any other material you can find. They’ve been built right on top of each other, like a sea of shacks that go as far back as you can see. The permanent buildings are simple, concrete slabs. Think war-time in Kosovo. The windows barred and the over populated tenant buildings are colorless – grey.

The streets are all lined with mountains of trash, people selling old clothing on top of flattened cardboard boxes, street food carts, hotels and restaurants that look like refrigerator cardboard boxes nailed together, people smoking, people yelling, people arguing, horns honking. The smells of diesel smoke, body odor, fire, and cooking spices make a heady concoction that is undeniably the worst I’ve ever experienced.

We turn a corner and finally get to the Evangelical Lutheran Church, nestled on a corner, protected by strong gates and even stronger men. The church property is quite large compared to the surrounding cardboard businesses. They even have grass! Once you step into the gates of the church, you feel God’s warm embrace around you. The people of the church hang out in the courtyard, the grass and trees provide shade and offer a fresh breath of air in a polluted community, and there are quite a number of children everywhere.

After being introduced to most of the people there, a young boy, probably 4 or 5, sees me, walks up to me and presses his entire body against my leg. A hug. After patting him on the head, saying “Poa”, I ask him his name, receiving no response. Still, for the rest of the time we were there, he followed me around like a lost puppy, always pressing against my leg or holding my hand. Again, I tried to ask him how he was doing, but still, no response. Finally, one of the men there told me that this little boy lives across the street and is at the church from morning until night when they lock the gates. He has stunted communication and doesn’t know how to speak, even though he understands everything. They know nothing of him, not even his name. Still, he comes every day, playing in the grass, and eating lunch during the programs on Tuesdays and Fridays, and the church welcomes him with loving arms.

At the church, we got to see the new FIKISHA garden – the boys can grow vegetables and sell them in the market in Kawangware – as well as the FIKISHA boys’ room. 3 bunk-beds, pushed together to form a super bed, seem to be the only thing that barely fits in this 10 x 10 room. The boys stay there during Holidays when boarding school is not in session.

After the tour, we ate breakfast (11:00am, Kenyan time) with some of the mentors and members of the church at Mama Elizabeth’s house. What a wonderful woman! We had chapati (tortilla meets Indian fry bread) and chai (Swahili for “tea”) with milk, sweetened. It was so delicious, made with love over an open fire. We stayed a little longer and met the pastor of the church. He’s been serving at the church in Kawangware since 2007 and has around 125 church-goers each Sunday. He’s very excited about everything that has been happening with FIKISHA and the miracle boys.

We made our way towards the bus stop and drove into downtown Nairobi. We picked up a cell phone and saw most of the downtown, commercial area of the city. Again, it was very dirty and busy. People were walking everywhere – all the signs are only “suggestions” – and cars were honking like it was a form of communication. We took another matatu back to Lavington, the suburb our guest house is located in, and did a bit of grocery shopping before the sun went down.

While walking back to our house, I realized the drastic economical differences there were in only a two mile radius. Two miles away from large suburban houses, some mansions, behind big black gates and cement walls, is Kawangware, where many children are left to fend for themselves while parents do the best they can to put food in their bellies. This is a place where those who are born in the slums die in the slums. There’s no room for getting “out”, not like in the US. In America, you can be born an immigrant and die a millionaire. In Kenya, and most of the world, this is not the case.

The kicker in all of this is that despite the living conditions and poverty, these people are happy. They’re able to see the blessings that God has given them and bask in the joy of Christ! They know Who they belong to and where they will go after their time here is done. Christ lives in them and shines through them. They are family and I am so looking forward to getting to know them all better.

Prayer Requests:

  • Social Adjustments – I’m having a really difficult time adjusting to this culture – as you’ve read, it’s quite a shock. Please pray that God allows me to adjust quickly so that I can do the best ministry here.
  • The Friday Program is tomorrow! FIKISHA will host about 30 people for lunch and a brief Bible study that’s open to the community. Many of these boys who come are high from sniffing glue or other household products and don’t have anywhere else to go. Please pray that God blesses the program tomorrow and reaches out to the people who come.
  • Jet Lag – we all are suffering from some serious jet lag! Personally, I’ve been crying out of exhaustion and shock for the past 3 hours. We need some rest! Pray that God gives us speedy recovery so we can be our best the rest of the week!

“Yurt in the Bush”

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I’m in Kenya! (Well, almost…)

I’m writing from the air, hoping to get something done before we arrive in Nairobi around midnight. So far, it’s been quite the journey. The past 48 hours have been really strange – travelling from one side of the world to the other. Dan and Alyssa got engaged the night before we left, so they spent most of our waiting time at LAX talking with family and friends, posting pictures on Facebook, and basking in the newly-engaged excitement of planning for a wedding. I’m so excited for them, especially since they get to serve in Kenya, knowing that when they get back they’ll be getting married!

We flew Turkish Airlines – a 13 hour flight! – and it was really nice. We spent most of the time watching movies on our personal computer screens, eating (the food was delicious!) and sleeping – we slept a lot! Dan had this magazine from New Zealand and on the cover it said “Yurt in the Bush”. We spent a fair amount of time joking about what a yurt actually was. We turned it into a noun, a verb, and an adjective. Creativity flows when you’re confined to a tiny space! It turns out, a yurt is a fancy tent thing – luxury camping. Sign me up, please!

We arrived in Istanbul on time, slid a little on the runway from all the rain pouring down, and quickly walked to our gate for our Nairobi flight. Our flight from Istanbul is 6 hours, so I have quite some time to catch up on writing and updating the blog. Currently, it’s 9:54am, California time, and 7:54pm Nairobi time. We should be pulling into the guest house in Nairobi tonight around 1:30am on Thursday morning. The best part about this trip is the flexibility of our schedule – we don’t need to be anywhere until 11:00am on Thursday morning, so we’ll have ample amount of time to sleep and get ready for the day.

Alyssa’s been telling us a little bit about what to expect while we’re there. The house we’re staying in is about 2 miles from the church we’ll be working at in Kawangware – one of three slums of Nairobi. Every morning, we’ll probably be walking the 2 miles to the church – about a 40 minute walk – in the mud (it’s still the rainy season). That should definitely be memorable!

Every day is going to be a little bit different, but we’ll be doing the same kind of work while we’re there. Of course, I’ll be spending some of the afternoons teaching their mentors and volunteers about youth ministry, Bible studies, and counseling techniques, but we’re also going to be working in the community, alongside the boys, in service projects.

My original date for getting back to California was May 21st, however since I don’t really have anything to come back for, I might be staying until the end of the month or later. I haven’t made any decisions yet, especially since I haven’t even arrived in Nairobi yet, but I’ll definitely keep you all posted!

Prayer Requests:

  • God’s continued guidance for our time in Kenya, as well as the time I get back from Kenya. I still am looking for a job/”Call”, but I know God has an amazing plan in here somewhere. Please pray for patience as I discover what that is.
  • FIKISHA House Project – FIKISHA is looking into building a house next to the Lutheran church where the boys attend school. There is a large piece of property next to the church, but it would cost a hefty penny to purchase and build up the land. Please pray that God provides, financially, for this project.
  • Dan and Alyssa are engaged! Please pray that God blesses them in all they do as they begin to prepare for their wedding!

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