Unfortunately, my daily blogging attempts have been halted by internet issues here in Kitale. We found out it wasn't working simply because we hadn't paid the bill — oops! I am so thankful to have access to wireless internet at my house here—I mean seriously, I am in the Rift Valley of Kenya and therefore surely shouldn’t have access to such things! I spent years about Baylor learning about global economies and I think I’m finally grasping the idea that I actually do live in a global world.
I’ll do my best to do a brief summary of what’s been happening around here.
Sunday: The morning started with a birthday celebration for Jay equipped with streamers, apples with peanut butter dip, music and dancing!
Sunday can best be described by the word “church”. This week we visited Faith Community Church, which is about a 20 minute walk from our house. We left around 10 a.m. and returned home at 4 p.m. I thoroughly enjoyed my first Kenyan church experience, and yes it was as lengthy as I had expected! The message was focused on giving. While this typically entails a discussion of church finances, this pastor took a more unique approach on the subject as he talked about our God being a giving God. If it weren’t for our giving God, who loved me so much that he gave his son for my sins, I would have nothing to give. I am so blessed to be giving my time, talents and treasures here in Kitale. I’m praying that I will mirror God’s giving spirit and in doing so will grow more in love with him each day. I don’t want anyone to think that this love I am offering is love out of my own heart— I want them to know, without a doubt, that this is God’s abundant love overflowing. Besides, the only way to truly love others is by loving God first and foremost.
Sunday night the girls prepared a spaghetti dinner for Jay’s birthday and so far we have had two failed attempts at making edible/tasty spaghetti sauce with local ingredients. The best part of the meal (in mine and Jade's opinion at least!) was the “birthday cake” Jade and I spent nearly an hour making. The cake options at Ketcheas, the grocery store in town, were frightening (we’re talking circular cakes sitting up on their side) so we decided to make a pyramid of cookies using peanut butter and jelly as glue. It truly was a masterpiece!
Jay's birthday celebration!
MONDAY: Happy Valentine's Day! I just love holidays and what holiday could I love more than the one that celebrates love?? I so enjoyed spending this Valentine’s Day in Kenya! The girls spent the day at Oasis. I can’t express house precious these children are—in their tattered clothing—as they joyfully play, learn and interact. I taught the 1st graders—talk about challenging! I have an even greater respect for teachers now (yes this means you too Ashley and Alyson!) It must be hard to contain and entertain 1st graders in America, but I think it's even harder to contain and entertain 1st graders when you can’t speak their language, there are no classroom materials (other than one small table, a tiny, worn out chalk board and half a piece of chalk), and you have 40 kids who can’t sit still. The staff and volunteers that work at Oasis are a tremendous blessing to these kids, but unfortunately since Oasis is a drop-in center that provides free schooling for street kids, the teachers are typically volunteers and therefore don’t always come. Some days the kids will sit in their classrooms for the entire scheduled class time with no teacher. Considering their backgrounds, it's incredible that these children even have this desire to learn. I'm fairly certain that if they didn't have Oasis to encourage a fruitful life that the would be out on the streets sniffing glue and doing whatever they pleased. These kids have close to nothing, no meals or school supplies, other than what Oasis can provide. It’s sad, really sad, but I know it would be much more disheartening if these kids didn’t even have Oasis. They would never receive any type of schooling nor would they have a safe and positive environment for them to mature in. God is providing for his children through Oasis and I am simply blessed to be a part of his work here.
Tonight Steve took us all out to dinner. Steve is wonderful. His heart for Kitale and for people in general is amazing. Everything he does involves ministering to absolutely everyone he encounters. I have been so blessed to enter into a wonderful community, or better yet a family, here in Kitale. Juliette, Hannah, Emanuel, Leila, Jade, Cody, Jay and Michelle are beautiful individuals. They have welcomed me with open arms and I can’t believe I met all of them less than a week ago.
TUESDAY: This morning we visited Oasis then went to Shimo high school for a board meeting. Of course the meeting was set to begin at 9:30, but in Africa time that ended up meaning 11:30. We played with some of the younger children and saw the water well Saddleback installed. Before Saddleback got involved with this school, there were 100 students for each teacher and children had to walk miles to fetch water from a dirty river. It's hard for me to even imagine life without indoor plumbing and access to fresh water, but this is a harsh reality for people all around the world. Now with the water well on the school's land they are able to access clean, healthy water. It's amazing the difference this can make in the lives of an entire community! Next time someone presents you with an opportunity to help in this manner, please consider taking them up on this offer. You could change lives more than you could ever imagine.
The water well at Shimo Primary School
Today we worked on mapping out our weekly schedules. Have I mentioned that Cody, Jay, Michelle and Jade are here through Saddleback to serve in many different places and capacities within the community that need assistance? While I came to Kitale thinking that I would be serving just with Oasis of Hope, I have been able to jump on board with their program plan. I’m really excited about this because it enables me to help all around the city meeting needs where they exist. Each day we will be serving at different places—there are so many amazing opportunities to spread God’s love!
Wednesday: We spent the morning at Oasis, and this time Michelle and I taught in the 3rd grade classroom. These kids are much further along in their English, which makes teaching them a bit easier. Michelle is very gifted when it comes to teaching and it’s so cute to see her in her element!
Steve debriefed with us at lunch before heading out on his trip back to the US. I am so grateful that he's allowed me to jump right in. He is so loved by many here in Kitale and being here under his wing is such an advantage and blessing.
This afternoon Jade, Michelle, Leila and I visited the women’s prison where we will be doing a Bible study every other week. I am so amazed by the joy that these women, despite being in prison, exuberate. When we arrived they were singing, dancing and clapping. I am looking forward to journeying with these women over the next few months. With Leila as our translator Jade shared her testimony, Michelle talked about her favorite verse and I told a little bit about who God has been in my life. Pastor Jane told us that these women were surprised to learn that as Americans our lives are not perfect, we do experience hurt and we’ve all fallen short of perfection. It’s amazing that despite our differences, we are actually the same—we are all humans, imperfect humans, that need God’s love. We learned that for many of these women, we are the first visitors they have ever had. I will enjoy becoming a regular part of their lives. As we get to know these women and love on them, I pray that they come to fully understand the grace of Jesus Christ and are forever transformed by his love.