Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Life at the center has been amazing. I have fallen in love with the people who come in and out of those doors.

Yesterday I was telling a teacher how much I wanted a bracelet that represented the flag of the people we work with. It's hard to make the star at the center of the flag, most come out as a diamond. We had discussed where to commission such a bracelet. One female student overheard and smiled that I wanted the flag design. "Good!" she said.

Today, in the morning, I was sitting in class when I hear a knock on the door. Two of the girls were standing outside wanting to meet me. One had the bracelet I wanted! It was a gift. But oh no! It looked too small! I shied away and apologized for not having dainty hands. They insisted it would fit and worked it on, stretching the unstretchable bracelet.

One of those girls waiting was the one who overheard. The other had been absent the day before.

I later found out the whole story. The one who overheard saw the bracelet on her friend's wrist and begged to buy it from her. The other girl, exasperated, asked why. When it was discovered that teacher Jenny wanted a bracelet like it, she decided to give it to me directly.

Coincidentally, the girl who gave me this bracelet is the one I had pre-chosen to intercede for on this day. As Ram*dan is in full swing, some of us have chosen to do personal fasts. For me, each day will hold a new name of someone I know who I fast and pray for.

I love these people. I love their openness and hospitality. How generous and giving they are. I pray for them as a people, as a nation, and as my friends. I hope you pray for them too.

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
~ 2 Corinthians 10:4


Sunday, May 4, 2014

One Year

On the 25th of April we celebrated one year in Kenya. Here's what I learned so far:

You can easily wear an outfit two days in a row. No social stigma with that.

Having pets is an outrageous luxury.

Cars have the right of way. If you're trying to cross the street, it's better to go in a group of people than going solo.

Some people work harder than I ever will and earn less than I ever will. Being American is like winning the lottery in most people's eyes.

People would rather barter than pay a fixed price at a store. Most places have no indication of price or value on their wares until you ask.

Beauty is as important as the rest of the necessities. Even if you don't have enough money to buy nice things, you should at least indulge in that $3 pedicure or $5 hair extensions.

Being white means you deserve to get stared at. Children especially find white people strange.... like seeing Santa Claus out of season.

Eating with your hands is an art.

People like to watch accidents and fights. Actually, they prefer the front row.

Bananas with cooked meat and rice make for a delicious meal. Especially when all three are mixed together in one bite.

The mixture of dust, dirt, and water makes for the thickest mud you've ever seen.

A men holding hands with other men (and women holding hands with other women) is way more socially appropriate than a man holding a woman's hand.

Spending time with people is way more important than spending time alone in your house with your stuff.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Beware the Ides of March

Life in Kenya has been busy. Already March is upon us. Seven weeks from now we will be celebrating our one year anniversary abroad.

In our ESL program, our teachers teach two classes each daily. We have about 50 students and over 150 on our waiting list for registration! We started English Club two Fridays a months and it's been a blast.

Our first meeting it POURED rain to the point that we needed to "create" a bridge from the street to our gate over the river or rainwater. We had almost 40 people show up despite the downpour. Laughter and smiles abounded as we did "the human knot" and talked about husbands and shopping among the ladies. The boys argued and debated about politics and foreign policy. Our second meeting was about pollution and trash and involved lively discussion on beautifying our neighborhood.

In our Primary School we continue to grow in number. We have 25 students ranging from 2.5 years old to 14 years old (the highest level we have now is first grade), most of which take our bus. Wednesday sports days bring unusual energy and excitment in our kids. Our four teachers work hard at keeping the learning standards high in the classroom.

Jenny has been working largely with school administration, juggling salaries, food and supply expenses, admission fees, registration applications and the waiting list. Jeff teaches mornings and afternoons and meets with students in between classes.

This month we have also seen another side of Kenya. We spent two days camping in the Masai Mara amongst the wild animals. I could hear the *woop woop* of hyenas and even heard heavy panting and sniffing along our tent for five minutes one night and monkeys arguing and playing with equipment the next night. The Mara is home to the Big 5: Elephants, Leopards, Cape Buffalo, Rhinos, and Lions. We watched a lion feast on his breakfast as jackals and vultures watched and waited. We were temporarily chased by a baby elephant (with mama watching!) and even got stuck in mud in while crocs of cape buffalo casually watched.

We also visited another town in the Northeastern part of Kenya, home to a large population of refugees. Most inhabitants there consider the river just before that town to be the true border between Kenya and its neighboring country, and therefore don't consider their town a part of Kenya. We visited a Primary School in the area in hopes of partnering with them some time in the future. The ladies enjoyed a salon visit and came back with henna art on their feet and hands. We ate roasted goat meat in rice under the Milky way. It was wonderful.

Every day we thank God for allowing us to be here, for the relationships that we have, for the relationships we are establishing, and for the opportunity to do what we are doing. What a privilege!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Imagination and Knowledge

This Friday our ESL school is beginning a biweekly English club open to anyone in our current 4 classes and the general public. One of the activities we’ll be doing at the English club is hosting debates. Yesterday I used my students as gunny pigs.

I posed a famous Einstein quote “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” I then asked them to pick which is more important knowledge or imagination and to explain why. The vote at the beginning of the class was 8 for knowledge, 4 for imagination. It was interesting some of the negative connotations imagination had for many of the students. Everything from killing to witch doctors came up. While knowledge was touted as being given to man from God. Many students also said that people are hired for their knowledge, not their imagination.

The debate was good in that it was one of the first times I really heard some of my students open up and really speak their minds. Often times especially for the women here, it’s difficult to cross that barrier. Hopefully the English club will be a place where thinking for ones self can be fostered.

In the end one or two students switched positions saying that imagination is more important. Most of the class agreed that imagination and knowledge are entangled in such a way that they are important to each other. That some people have more imagination, some people have more knowledge, and that it’s important to work together allowing each person to use their gifts full potential.