Friday, November 27, 2009

Hey yo!

I was able to get on Daniel Komotho's computer real fast. I figure I'll update all the other stuff when I get more. My Thanksgiving was pretty good. Said thanks a few times during the day. Ate Mama's food was good as usual. I wrote this thing up real quick today for the Rohi newsletter: Telling people, especially young people that I was going to Kenya they would usually say something regarding AIDs or poverty.Yes, there is that in plenty.But the world, particularly Americans, view Kenya as just that.After being here twice before for two weeks each, I had a decent idea of what I can expect. Now in my third week here for what will be 12 weeks I have seen Kenya, at least Nakuru and the culture, in a new light. You can only see and experience so much when you are with a large group and have everything planned out for you for those two weeks of short-term missions. Although they are definitely good and I think necessary, they are limiting.With Mr. Daniel Komotho as my on-site guide and boss, he has done an amazing job of introducing me to the ins and outs of Kenyan life. We have already taken the bota bota (seat on the back of a bicycle) and hopped a ride in the, always exciting, stuffed to the brim matatu (public transportation vans) several times. I have eaten real Kenyan food (Mama’s cookin’ is so good) and have been educated on subjects such as marriage dowries and rites of passage, both intriguing topics to talk about with the Rohi staff.In the midst of getting used to the change around me, I find that the Rohi staff is absolutely constant in one thing, their solid belief that God is the always consistent, savior of the world.It is through Him that this organization has a real life-giving mentality that is carried out and experienced by the street boys, those living at the dump, neighbors, and the kids at Rohi.Ben Vose, the intern
So yeah. I don't know what I'm doing the rest of the day. Kinda tired. I think maybe next time I will try to download pictures. Would you all like that? Is there anything that you guys want to know. Ask me some questions. If I deem them worthy I will answer :) Well, have a good day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's been just over 2 weeks

11-19 Happy Birthday Brother Philip!

My little brother is 24 yrs old today! Wow! I am so proud of him (not because he’s 24).

I woke up this morning, got out of bed, and found a spider the size of my head. Ok, not even close, but it was still a nice sized spider. It was just chillin on the net over my bed. Thank God for nets. This guy looked like the same one from the first day I had arrived. The moments that ensued became the battle of the century… I started with peace in mind, trying to get it on the Clif bar wrapper (good call Kirstin on the Clif bars, and flavor, peanut butter), so I could get it outside. After many attempts with it scurrying away, it finally fell onto my shoes, which were not on my feet at the time. I shook it but no spider appeared. After looking for a few moments I decided to I’d continue my day and make sure my sheets were cleared when I went to bed. At that moment I saw it on my bed. I went to grab it, but it disappeared. Looked around and finally saw it. We staring each other eye to eye, neither of us backing down. The taste of death was in its mouth. The taste of morning breath in m-i-n-e. I decided that peace was no longer an option at this point. I tried peaceably to set it free, but my foe wouldn’t hear of it. So I unsheathed my Clif bar wrapper and prepared to do battle. I welded my sword, I mean wrapper, high above my head and brought down with such great force and swiftness that even the bravest and toughest of men could not bare it. The eight legged beast had never experienced such great power in all its life. “Parry, parry, thrust, thrust. Good.” The blow dazed him. It tried to get away but another blow had caused its eight legs to stagger beneath its body. It was at this point that I had decided to show mercy upon my formidable foe and grabbed it and threw it out the window. It put up a valiant fight and lost. I spared its life in hopes that in honor of the fight his opponent put up that had defeated him, the Great Spider would catch flies and mosquitoes that came to do war upon his worthy opponent (me). Good show.

11-20 (Saturday)

Some goings ons in Kenya now: The World Cup recently passed through Kenya and is making its way around Africa. It will eventually land in South Africa where the soccer/ football tournament will be played. There are a bunch of people living in Mau Forest and they are being told that they can’t stay there anymore. Not really sure why. Most of the news is in Swahili. So now they have built shelters outside of the forest and staying there. Also, the Kenyan government created a new constitution. It is being circulated in the country for people to read it for the next 30 days to approve or disapprove of it. Kinda interesting. Very few people have access to it. Wondering what will happen next.

A couple days ago, Collins, a 12 yr old skinny kid, was playing with another kid and had his hands held behind his back. A group of us were standing around when Collins fell face first into the cement floor with his hands held behind his back. Didn’t sound good. I went down to him and saw what I was hoping was a piece of corn… it was 2/3 of his front tooth. The kid laid there for a few moments, a few tears dropping, then he got up and we went to the nurse. She gave him some pain meds. Tough kid.

Some of the men staff members are planning to hike up Mt. Kenya. I was invited, so we had a meeting yesterday. So funny. Mr. Richard led, and in typical Kenyan Rohi fashion, had everything planned out about what we were going to talk about. If you’ve been here you understand. If not, just imagine the most formal meeting ever where the group has never met each other. Roles were given out and some other logistics were also accomplished. Anthony gave his 2 cents a bunch. Then we went over to the camping stuff that another group brought earlier in the year. We went over what a sleeping bag is and had somebody demonstrate how to use it. He got in and lay there. So funny. Only one or two of the 11 guys had ever been in a sleeping bag, and only a couple in a tent. I wish I had video of it. The whole meeting was thoroughly enjoyable. There are some funny guys. Mr. Mamba (says hi) with his ugali, a Kenyan food, comments were pretty funny. It’s ironic how I packed so little to come to a place where they have so little. Yet when it’s time for camping/ backpacking they seem like they’ve been spoiled all their life with the best of everything. It was like watching a bunch of manly men learning about makeup and how to apply it. I’m looking forward to this trip. We’re leaving Dec. 7 and will spend a couple days hiking. We won’t be able to hit the peak because it is so high and, I guess, oxygen is needed for the final ascent. There is sow on top, and almost none of them have seen snow. However, we won’t be able to touch it because it’s too high.

Last week a couple girls asked me if I knew Catalina and Sebastian. I said, “No, are they your sponsors?” They said “no.” They said they live in California and are on TV. I chuckled to myself about their assumption that I knew actors. I never heard of this Catalina and Sebastian, and that night guess whom showed up on TV? “Catalina and Sebastian” came on. Papa watches TV every night and I join him in the viewing of shows such as “Two and a Half Men,” “NCIS” (you can survive here family!), a Jon Ritter hosted magic show, news in Swahili and English, “Beba Beba” (Kenyan show), and others. I think I watch more TV here than I did at home. Anyways, “Catalina and Sebastian” is a Mexican soap opera that is in Spanish and poorly voiced over in English. In my opinion, very bad, but the kids love it.

I’ve had a lot of time to do pretty much nothing. At home I would occupy myself with something. I don’t have access to that stuff here. So I find myself pondering things and praying. I think it is good to slow down and listen. When I am home I try to slow down every once in a while, but here I have no choice. And the thing is, I have no idea what I am doing the next day. I can’t even plan for that. But I think it’s good for me.

Every morning I feel so tired when I wake up. I get out of bed and Mama has breakfast on the table at about 7:30. I have tea, Kenyan tea bag (KETEPA?) with hot water, milk, and sugar. I’m getting used to it. I never drink tea at home. Sometimes there are a couple hard boiled eggs or cereal bar things or banana. There is always bread and peanut butter. When I have a banana I slice it onto the bread and peanut butter. Mmmmmm. Sometimes I think somebody in my family told Mama to make sure there is peanut butter. Let me talk about peanut butter for a moment. Peanut butter is amazing! It is so diverse and compliments most anything. Bananas. Check. Apples. Check. French toast, pancakes, honey, nutella, cookies. The list goes on and on. PB and jelly, always classic and a staple for me at home. God did something very good when peanut butter was created. So I want everybody to make today peanut butter appreciation day. Here’s to you Peanut Butter. I salute you.

11-23 (Monday)

Happy Anniversary to my mom and Glenn! I reckon it’s been 12 years…! And as far as I know there haven’t been any black eyes or blood drawn. Let’s keep that up J

Around November and December in most of Africa, male circumcision is going on. If you don’t know what that is go ask some random person in the street. Daniel Komotho was educating me on the tradition. For most Africans this occurs around the ages of 12-15 years old. When you get this done you are then seen as a man. It is a tribal tradition that is honored. There are a few kids at Rohi who are going under the knife. They are bringing somebody in to do it. I want to see the looks on the kids’ faces as they walk into that room. Anyways, I guess if you are an older guy and not circumcised and people find out, they will strip you naked, put you on a cart pulled by a donkey, and have ask people for money to get the procedure done. Daniel was laughing as he was telling me this. You are not really a man if you are not circumcised and all the childish things that you do will be seen as the result of you not doing it. So if you are not, go talk to your doctor. Female circumcision, on the other hand, is very bad. Some tribes still practice this. Maybe Kirstin can post a comment explaining what she knows about it.

Went to street church yesterday. The food being handed out at the end became, as usual, a pushing match for some. But it was good. I saw a kid named Jimmy who I met a couple years ago on my first trip. He was at the Rescue Center at the time but ran away and is now in the streets. He looks healthy though and says he is doing well. I didn’t see him with glue so that’s good.

I was hoping this wouldn’t happen, but I guess it was inevitable. Kids at the school are asking for money. A couple kids asking for money so they can go home. I gave one kid some money. Another kid asked also. I got a call last night from Elijah asking for money for “finances.” It’s really hard because I know I have more money than their families, but I am not the richest American around. I also don’t want to just hand out money and be known for that. But I also want to be a good steward and generous. Does that mean handing out money? Not necessarily. Are there times for that? Definitely. But when they see me as the moneybag and that is what I am good for, then I have a problem. So I am going to have to figure this one out and do some consulting. I like to know the people pretty well before handing out money. Uggh.

I am eating dinner no earlier than 7:45 pm. I don’t like eating so late. I don’t think I sleep as well when I do. I’ve been going to bed around 9 pm. And waking up a few times in the night/morning and feeling like I didn’t even sleep when I wake up at 6:30-7am. I am sleeping more here than I did at home. Is it because of eating right before bed? I think it’s contributing to it.

I’ve gone for a couple runs out on the road. All the kids start yelling, “How are you?” and “mzungu.” Some run with me for a bit. But everybody takes a long look. I think at my white legs. A man introduced himself as Snake ran with me for a bit the other day. He was talking about me, or him, couldn’t really understand, going to the World Cup in South Africa. I think he wanted me to give him money so he could go. I told him that as soon as he gave me a million dollars I would take him.

Yesterday I helped do some “slashing.” They don’t use lawn mowers, so they have long machete-like knives curved at the end to cut the grass. They just swing it back and forth. As a result my baby, un-calloused hands have two nice sized blisters on each.

A high school kid named Bakari asked me last week if he could wash my shoes for me. I hesitated wanting to say no. They’re just shoes. But who am I to tell him no. If he really wants to wash my shoes and feels like that is what he should do, then ok. So I gave him my shoes, and he gave me his nice, clean white ones, which are now not so clean after wearing them for a few days. Sorry Bakari. Now that I think about it, Bakari is one of the kids who asked for money so he could go home. He lives on the far side of Kenya near Uganda. Maybe he was anticipating that this question of asking for money would eventually come up and would soften me by washing my shoes. Maybe I’m wrong and bad for thinking that. Either way I like Bakari.


It’s been two weeks that I’ve been in Nakuru. I think things are good. The last couple days have been good. I’ve been of some use. I did some typing on my laptop. They were so happy, and impressed at how quickly I got through the stuff. I’m really not even close to amazing by American standards. Some of the people here hadn’t touched a computer until a few years ago. I’ll be going to the dump I think Thursday and Friday. I think I might be teamed up with Benard, a high school student, to go around and do the survey thing. Tell you about it when I get there. The evenings now are so beautiful. The clouds fill part of the sky in a puffy but dominating sort of way. As the sun sets, the clouds and the sky silhouetted by mountains on the horizon gleam an amazing orange. The wind blows through the thin trees, making it seem like there’s a storm coming, but it blows itself out within moments. Little birds, some flashing bight colors, sing. While other not so elegant birds gawk through the sky. The sheep, along with a little white lamb with a black spot covering one of its eyes, wander around the house looking for long grass to chew on. I’ve learned something: I can be utterly useless and bored out of my mind, or I can look at things the way they were made to be looked at and enjoyed. I’m gonna do my best to do the latter.

Thought of the day: There are a lot of black people in Kenya.


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to everybody! I'm at Cafe Guava right now. Things are good. Went to eat with Daniel. Dixon says hi to all that know him. Thanks to everybody who posts. It's really encouraging. I'm drinking a "smoothie" right now. Just remembered there is water in juice. Hopefully I won't get sick. It could also be that fish I ate for lunch. Not really used to getting served fish with the head and all. So, I will talk to you all later. Love you all. Take care.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Yay in Kenya!

11/11/09 (Wednesday)

Slept pretty good on the plane. Arrived in Nairobi at about 9pm on Monday. Victor picked me up from the airport and we stayed the night in a hotel. I slept really well despite the cramp I got in my calf while I was sleeping. Still a little sore. We drove the two hours to Nakuru Tuesday morning. I was hoping to meet up with Denny. Unfortunately we passed each other. Bummer. When I got here I met with Daniel Komotho (he’s the guy who does the stuff street stuff-more about that in a bit), Anthony, Daniel, and others. We did the usual Kenyan thing and did an introduction and that sort of thing. Then… I kinda just sat around for a while. I was ready for it though. Americans like to get stuff done quickly and hop to it. Kenyans, not so much. But I was perfectly good with that cuz I was a bit tired. I met Mama and Papa, the people I am staying with. It is on their land that Rohi was built. They are very welcoming and speak decently good English. My room is good too, blue on a couple walls, white on the others. Bed is stiff but comfortable and the pillow is filled with wool, needs quite a bit of fluffing.

I went to town with Daniel and did a few things. The roads here are not very, umm, organized. People walking in the roads, cars going everywhere, businesses on the side of the street. And pedestrians do not have the right of way. So Daniel and I went to the town office and, well, sat and didn’t do really anything. We waited for a call from Safari, the cell phone and internet place to go (I guess kinda like a Verizon?). Something wasn’t working on the internet connection they gave him. I was prepared for this cuz Kirstin, my sister, informed me about it ☺ Then we came back to Rohi and I fell asleep for 3 hours and was awakened for dinner at 10pm. Great dinner! Then I slept until 4:50am. At 7:15, had tea and some bread, it was actually like French toast except no syrup, and peanut butter (If you have not had French toast with peanut butter spread on it, syrup, and powder sugar, you have not yet lived life!). Helped correct English exams for Form 3 (equivalent to junior year of high school). That was interesting.

I have not yet seen many of the kids I know. They are taking their final exams, which is a big deal in Kenya, especially grade 8 exams. Went to the town office again with Daniel and we sat. At this point thinking that me being here is kinda useless. But I remind myself that if God wants me here then there is some purpose. And we talked. Daniel is a cool guy. Finally people started coming in. Most people know that if they need something they go to the town office. First person to come in was a street boy, well former street boy. He has place to stay now and seemed to be getting his life together. One of the main things Daniel does is help the street “boys” get id’s. In Kenya you can’t get a job without one. Very important. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when there is no birth certificate, they show up sometimes, and other factors, things aren’t so easy. Many others came in. I sat and listened as Daniel and the person spoke Swahili. A missionary lady came in. It was neat hearing from her. She has several things going on here that is making a difference. She has a few boys that she took in from the streets that are at Rohi.
That’s mostly it. I’m feeling pretty good. I seem to be getting tired around 6pm. I think Kenya might be 11 hours ahead of California. In a couple weeks Daniel and I will be going to the dump to do some stuff. He wants to put a video together about it to get the word out about the over 100 families living on trash. So I may have to teach myself how to use this i-movie.

11-13 (Friday)
The students are taking their exams, so I’ve been helping the teachers grade papers. I would get through them and just sit for a while. Sometimes a long while. I was smart today and brought a book and my journal. The teachers at the secondary are cool people. One guy, Mr. Kumau, is engaged and we started talking about dowries. They seemed surprised that Americans did not practice giving dowries to the mother’s family. I told the guys that if they want to save money they can marry a mzungu (white person) woman. They got a good laugh out of that. So if there are any ladies interested let me know and I’ll hook you up ☺ During the times that I’m just sitting there and feel useless I wonder if my time would have been better spent at home doing what I’ve been doing, and all the money that was spent getting here would have been in better use just sending it to Rohi and have them spend it where it needs to be spent. Then I think, “I have been thinking about coming here for a long time and I’m here now. This whole thing is not a mistake. God has something planned for me. Whether it is what I originally planned or something completely different, I don’t know but I can trust that I am here purposely. God has proved it many times before.” So that is where I am currently.
Yesterday I played soccer. Anthony recruited me and wants me to play with them tomorrow (Saturday) in the semi-final of a league or something. During the game he stepped on my toe with his cleats. It didn’t feel great and I noticed that blood was beginning to seep through my running shoes. It was bleeding pretty good. I put issue on it and kept playing. It feels fine now. It was only a little cut.

There was a giant beetle on my bed the other day. That thing was probably about 2 inches long. I showed him the way out the door. I ran the last two mornings at about 6 am. Getting up at this time is not a big thing considering I’ve been waking up at about 5. I was tired, I must admit. Not running for the last couple weeks and going to elevation takes a toll on you. Soon enough I’ll be running under 4 minutes in the mile…I can dream right? I won’t pain you with bathroom stories. I’ll keep those to personal conversations. Not many to report though, so that’s good. I have only seen a couple mosquitoes, and only one here in Nakuru. I slapped it out of the air. Stupid things. Not too much else going on. Talked with the high school students today. That was good. Felix says he likes “krunk” music so I might bring out my computer next week and show him some Bay Area stuff. Haha. I’ll censor it. Don’t worry.

11-15 (Sunday)
Went to street church today and finally got to see what I thought of when I wanted to come here. Rohi does street church where all the people on the streets or anybody else can come and hear some good stuff. The kids from Rohi high school basically do everything, music, the talk, and everything else. It’s awesome stuff seeing teenagers care about their own people and do something about it. You don’t see that too much in America. The Rohi kids are very special. When it is over we hand out food to them. Some of them haven’t eaten much in days. One of the things that sadden me is the kids (starting at like 6 years old, maybe younger) who have no shoes, wear tattered clothes, and are high off of glue. I walked to the church where we were meeting and saw the kids being patted down at the door for glue bottles. When was the last time you saw a 6 year old being patted down? These kids carry bottles of glue around, puffing on them. It suppresses their hunger, kills their thoughts about doing anything positive, and kills them slowly. I shook their hands (they like it when a white person greets them) not thinking much about it until I got to a kid whose eyes and nose were watering a lot. His hand was wet. Touching a person is more important than fear. Reminds me of a couple stories. The first is with Mother Theresa. She touched and cared for people with leprosy. Most people shunned them. Could you imagine how that made that person feel? He probably hadn’t been touched in possibly years. Where do you think she learned it? Jesus of course. He walked around doing it all the time. Yes he healed them when he touched them, but when that very important man made his way from the crowd of people to where the leper sat, far from everybody else and put his hand on him… holy smokes! Everybody must have thought he was crazy, seriously. Anyways, I sat next to them during church. Some went to sleep. Some danced around during the songs (some of them can move!). Some were glazed over. Very sobering for me, and I hope I never get used to it. The whole thing was good. Comparing those kids to the kids at Rohi is like night and day. Sometime I will go into specifics. Did I mention the kid who spoke lived on the streets for a year? He must have been no older than 12 at the time. He was one of them. His name is Peter. What a transformation! You would never guess. Stories like this are not rare at Rohi. From despair to hope is common.

11-18 (Wednesday)
Things are good. I'm at Guava Cafe. They have wireless internet. Not too fast though. I'm gonna make this last bit quick before it stops working. I'm helping Daniel Komotho with a survey of the dump to see how many families and kids are there. Rohi and co. want to start a nursery school. That's all for now.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I'm sitting in Amsterdam airport right now. I'm pretty tired. Spent yesterday in NY city walking around. Note to self: Don't wear sanook sandals, carry a 20 lb backpack, and carry a 12 lb bag when you're expecting to walk several miles. Result: sore shoulders, hips, slightly blistered feet (not too bad though), and extremely tired. GOOD TIMES! Took the subway into the city and had a croissant, banana, and water for breakfast at Central Park at about 8 am NY time, 5 am Cali time. Really cool place. People going for runs and riding bikes, walking dogs. Don't see that in Fremont much. The went to Redeemer church where Tim Keller is the pastor. I wanted to fall asleep due to the 3 hours of not so good sleep on the plane. It was good though. Met a couple women who said some really encouraging things and gave me an agenda of what to see in a few hours. So I walked through Central Park, again cool stuff, walked to Times Square and down Broadway. Would have been better if somebody was there with me. Checked out the Public Library, huge! And Grand Central Station. Then went back to the airport. Doesn't sound like much, but it was a ton. Fell asleep a little in the airport, then I hopped a plane to Amsterdam where I am now. The plane ride consisted of about an hour of sleep from before takeoff, but left me with another 5 hours about. Watched a couple movies and tried unsuccessfully to fall asleep.
That's the extent of my adventures thus far. Seems like so much more. Heading for Nairobi in a couple hours, a good 8 hour ride. Slumber, please come upon me!

Thought of the day for everybody: Am I living a self-centered life, or living a life for others and God? Tim Keller said something along these lines yesterday. What you choose in these two choices leads where your life will go and the legacy left when you're gone. Hmmm....


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

So there are 4 more days until I leave at 10:25 pm. I arrive in NY at 7 am eastern time and have about an 11 hour layover. I figure I'm gonna hop a taxi and check out Times Square and see as much as possible before I head back to JFK airport. Then it's off to Amsterdam, few hours hanging in the airport, and finally to Nairobi, Kenya. I'll be getting there Monday night. Kenya is 10 hours ahead of California. Usually I don't sleep much on flights, so it should be interesting.

I am going to be there until Jan 30, that's a pretty long time. I'll be honest, I'm a bit nervous, but
not worried. I met most of the people before, but it's different when you are going to be living with them and not having your daily routine at home. Guess I'll just have to develop a new one.
For those of you who don't know I have been to Nakuru, Kenya twice before on 2 week trips. I am going by myself through Cornerstone church in Livermore. Yes, I am a Christian, that is I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, accept what He did for me, and read the Bible as it is written. Will I talk to people about God while I'm there?... when it's time. Will I indoctrinate them? Heck no techno. I am going to help teach at a school called Rohi ( Also, gonna just be with the kids living on the streets. What that is going to look like I am not sure. I imagine that I'm just gonna hang out with them, toss a frisbee around, kick a soccer ball. I'm gonna follow the lead of Mr. Komotho, a teacher at Rohi who works with the street kids. I want to get the kids off sniffing glue, get them back into school or a job, help them start a new, healthy life. Sounds simple. Well, we'll see how it goes. I'll keep updating. Peace.