Wednesday, January 13, 2010


The rest of today was good. Philip bought some stuff from some of the market guys who we got to know and said goodbye to them. Then we stopped off at “kinyozi,” a barbershop. The place was just about the size of the bedroom I’m staying in now. I got my hair cut by a Kenyan who has never cut a white man’s hair before. I said not too short. Then he took the clippers and proceeded to shave. I thought, “Oh boy.” After cutting it, he then washed my hair, gave me a little head massage, “lined me up” a bit (I learned about this from some of the black guys I have coached- it is when they line up the hairline) and put some other stuff in it. He did much more than I had anticipated. At the end of it all I paid 150 shillings and gave him a 50 shilling tip. That is less than $3. Not too bad. I went home and looked at myself in the mirror and noticed that he left a large chunk of hair uncut on top of my head. Haha.

Philip left today. Kinda sad. Before he left we finished the film about the dump. We called it “Homes on a Hill.” When he gets back he will post it on the internet. I will give you the link when I can. We are really happy with it considering the amount of time we had. I’m really happy Philip was able to use his talent for something like this. He, and I have never edited live video before. He has done animation, but that is a bit different. If you want to see some of his stuff, you can check out his blog, He will probably be posting pictures and stories and all sorts of good stuff on that. It was good having him here and just hanging out with him. He’s a good brother.
It’s kinda weird, in less than a week this house went from having 2 grandparents, two parents, two little kids, and me and Philip, down to just me and Papa (Mama is in Nairobi with her son and daughter-in-law who is having a baby). I guess I will have time to be quiet again and just think and reflect. The kids at Rohi are starting to come back now though. So that’s good.

I bought a couple DVDs off the street a few days ago. The movies recently came out so they are most likely pirated. Sorry everybody who is losing money on it. I think I’ll try to watch one tonight and see if the quality is good.
I’ve been thinking. I don’t think being a long-term missionary, well at least here, is what I’m supposed to do any time soon. However, I would like to lead a short-term (2 weeks) here. I’m thinking maybe June 2011 at the earliest. I have had a bunch of people ranging from kids I coach to friends and family say that they want to go to Kenya. And now I would like to be the one to lead them. I know a lot of talented people in their professions and hobbies, and I want them to use those abilities in a new, challenging place. There are some good athletes (soccer, running, etc), teachers, artists, film people, computer people, and just friendly, adventurous types. I am convinced that we can get a good group of people together who can contribute to what the staff is already doing here. They can then take home a film, experiences, challenges, and prayers that can make a difference in the lives of other Americans, and maybe even raise money for the work here. The missionaries here, Troy and his wife, have committed three years to being here. His wife, Rebecca, is staying home (here in Nakuru) to raise their two, will be three soon, kids. Troy is a veterinarian. He specializes in livestock and the economical aspect of it. Being here at Rohi in this very agricultural society, he is contributing a bunch. Me, however, I don’t really specialize in anything. At least nothing that is super noticeable. (When I think of this I think of my sister Kirstin. She is a remarkable person. She doesn’t have any standout, noticeable talents like my brother Philip who is a great artist. Does that mean that she has any less to contribute to wherever she is? Absolutely not! She is a very personable person who makes people feel good by just being around her. And she has her important role in life just like Philip whose ability is more easily seen- by the way there is more to Philip than just art.) There are a few things I do pretty ok, but nothing like what Troy is doing. But I have my role in this thing too. (I kinda feel like a gateway for people to have good experiences with whatever and grow in that thing. Kinda like marijuana- it is a gateway drug for bigger drugs. So I guess I’m like marijuana). Even though it is not seen as easily and results cannot be calculated, I have my significance. And because this is the case, I cannot say specifically what the reason for me being here is, and I won’t try to pinpoint what it is anymore. I just do what I do and not worry about the results. I hope this is all making some sort of sense.
Everybody has a role that is very important. I recently gave a short talk at family prayer night (only five people were there) on Job 33:4. I kinda stole a lot of thoughts from a guy named Jeff (check out and click on notes). The verse says, “For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” We are made by God. When we accept Christ, we are given eternal life. When we walk with God, God breathes vibrant life into us. And when we have this we can have courage in the face of things that are ludicrous, be strong in our faith, and for others, and live a life filled with vibrant life. When we walk this kind of life out every day, we can then be who we were meant to be, so fully. I am trying, and I struggle at times. Probably a lot of times. But compared to a few years ago, I am on the up and up. Yay. I’m getting off my soapbox now…until next time.
Just talked to Patrick. He was the last kid here at Rohi before break. I showed him some card games and stuff. He just told me that his mom died over break and they buried her a few weeks ago. He said he’s ok, but I know what it feels like. Death is so common for kids to experience here. It really is not ok for kids to experience this. I pray that the kids at Rohi will not fall into the trap that has taken so many people they have known. I was just typing up some bios. New kids at Rohi, 7 years old, 12 years old, parents died of AIDS, TB, ... the list goes on.

Rohi had a staff meeting yesterday. There are a few new staff members. That brings the total to about 50 people. This includes all the departments from the people at the gate, teachers, sustainability, and everybody else. The heads of the department spoke, and they had a guest speaker (that was long). I was able to learn a decent amount from what they had to say, their expectations, where they are, and where they’re going. It was good to hear their vision and all that stuff.
After the meeting I went for a run. I went on a new path and found 20 minutes in that I was not sure where it was leading and didn’t see too many signs of life that way. It was getting dark, so I turned around. Sometime I will go down there again and see where it leads. A lot of the new younger kids at the primary school were all over me yesterday. I am most likely the first mzungu that they have had interaction with. It’s cool to have kids look up to you, and for you to show them love and care. The teachers and staff here do exactly that. Rohi is a very unique, amazing place. I watched “2012,” the DVD that I got. The quality was decent. No complaints from me. For two of them it only cost 500 shillings, like $6.55.
Since I have nothing to do right now, I am going to tell you what things I would like to do/accomplish when I get back regarding Rohi. As you know, Philip and I made a 10-minute film about the dump. I want it to be posted on the internet, my blog, Philip’s blog, and anywhere else. Philip will probably do this before I get back. I also want to disperse a copy to some of the churches that come to Rohi (Regeneration, Cornerstone, Fremont Community Church, any others, as well as the one I go to in Fremont when I am not at Cornerstone, Crossroads). I wouldn’t mind talking about my trip at Crossroads and getting them involved with things at Rohi. I want to eventually do an art auction to raise money for Rohi. I know many artists and would like to utilize their talents in this way. We could even combine it with a food or cake auction. Food and art go well together. This year with my track team, we are going to join with “Dig Deep,” a new non-profit organization. They get sports teams to join and they raise money to dig wells or get water tanks in different places of the world. Do you get the “Dig Deep” name- diggin deep for water and diggin deep to become a better athlete/ winning. Very clever. I want to at some point have a track and field invitational at Washington, the school I coach at. I want this to also be a fundraising thing for Rohi. I don’t know how the school would feel about that, but I could try. I said this yesterday, but I want to lead a two-week team here at some point. So, if there is anybody out there who wants to help with any of these things or has an ideas, I would love to hear about it and get you involved, especially if you’re the go-getter type and can lead one of these things. Collaboration baby!
Kids are kids no matter where in the world they live. I just saw a kid walking around with a bucket on his head trying to not run into anything. That makes me happy. Where does that sort of thing go when people get older? Could you imagine a grown man walking around like that? Responsibility I guess is one of the things that contributes to it. Also, lack of joy because of bad experiences, it sucks fun out of things, and experiencing and discovering new things. I guess the world would run aground if people walked around with buckets on their heads. I think when that joy, fun, creativity, and discovery is not chewed up and twisted in experiences like families dying, abuse, poverty, hate, and all the negative stuff, it is in a different form. Instead of bucket heads, creating dirt mounds with sticks stuck in the top, making mud pies, wrestling, making forts, and collecting snails, kids as they grow older begin to use those things in more practical ways. The forts turn into skyscrapers, mud pies into apple pies, wrestling into other competitive sports, snail collections in scientific research. It turns into people like Jim Henson. The “play” and creativity continues in the form of entertainment and education in fantastical forms of puppets, cartoons, acting. It is important for adults to hold onto, or rediscover, those things. Joy would be more abundant in the world, and I think we humans would be able to accomplish much more in life if this happened.

Walked down the road to buy a banana for my peanut butter and banana sandwich lunch. On the way there were a bunch of boys watching their sheep and cows. Seem like good kids. I bought them a couple mandazi with the remaining money I had. They even said thank you.
Things I am looking forward to when I get home: A hot shower- haven’t had one of those in about 4 weeks. A variety of food to choose from, and eating whenever I want. Watching Sharks hockey. I guess seeing and being with my family : ) Coaching my people in track. Seeing all the other friends. Driving to wherever and whenever I want. Going on the internet whenever to get info and communicate. Having a bowl of cereal for breakfast. A quality sandwich. Texting somebody to see how they are doing and just say hi. Doing some sculpting. Watching my little sister play rugby. Going to a church service that I enjoy (not to be mean). Making some money. Drinking water from the faucet.
Things I am not looking forward to: Spending money on gas.
Kind of funny, there are a few of the younger kids who remember me from the last time I was here. They would climb on me, ask questions, and all that stuff. Now there are a few new kids who are doing the same as what they used to do. But the kids from last time are acting like the pros, translating for them, and answering “obvious” questions they have. It’s fun watching them grow physically and mentally.
I washed my clothes by hand. I don’t know how much “washing” actually occurred, but I attempted. Thank God for washing machines. Since I’ve been here I have let Mama take care of washing my clothes. I think she would pay somebody to do it. She is not here, so I did it myself. I figured 12 days with the same pair of underwear was a bit much. That’s a joke! It wasn’t even 10 days : )
I discovered yesterday that the long, lonely road I ran down leads to a gate. Not sure what’s on the other side of the gate. I’m sure it’s a gate to another world. Away from all horribleness and everything that’s wrong. Maybe I will go tomorrow. I need that place.
So many Kenyans have requested that I take them back to America with me. I sometimes joke that if my bag were big enough I’d take them. I sometimes tell the younger ones that if they work hard in school they will go if God wants them there. What if I actually said yes to somebody?
Another dinner of rice, beans, sukumuiki (kinda like spinach), and a mango. Last night we added ugali. Tonight we added chapati.

Went to Rohi church. Went to street church. We are longer meeting in the ACK church for some reason. Not quite sure why. We met today in a town hall building. It is just about across the street from the curio shop. There were still over fifty people there. Wrestled with a bunch of the younger boys at Rohi after street church. That brightened my day. I haven’t seen any flies in my room the last 24 hours. Extremely happy about that.

Mama came home yesterday. We went to the dump yesterday and for the most part finished up with the survey we were doing. According to what we have, there are close to 400 people up there. About 80 of them are 6 years old or under. In the film that Philip and I made we put in there that there are about 200 people. We were off by 200. Oops. Hey Philip, maybe we/you can change that… I’m starting to not like going up there, for multiple reasons.
Mamba bet me that he could beat me in a 100m race. I would give him a granola bar if he wins. He makes me dinner if I win. I kinda laughed and told him to get the dinner ready.
It’s 9:30 am and I am just sitting here in the office with Kamoth right now. I finished entering in all the names and some info from the dump, and am now waiting on what to do next. I’m tired of waiting around so much. I’m trying to think of things to do to make myself useful. I wonder how much it would cost to build a windmill here. And what amount of time would it eventually start to pay off. I would guess that a windmill might be enough to generate enough power to offset a large chunk of the electricity bill. Then that money could go to something else. There’s a book I want to read when I get home called, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.” I saw him on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart before I came. It is about an African kid who did not have enough money to go to school, so he went to the library. He found a book about windmills and decided to build one. He couldn’t read English, so he built it based on the diagrams from the book. Amazing stuff. I want the students at Rohi to be innovative like this. There are many talented kids here. They need to have their minds challenged and supported, and I think this could happen. And it is to a certain point. One way I am motivated to do things that make a difference is by watching inspirational movies. For example, I just watched “Invictus,” the one I got off the street. It is about Mandela and how he used rugby to change the mindset of the country. This stuff gets me going. Reading books also. I think, I could be totally wrong, but the high school students have so much pressure on them to pass tests (a Kenyan thing) that they don’t have time to be creative and think of stuff. I don’t know. I think it would be good to have a movie night once a month where they watch a quality movie. They can do a write-up about it and use it for some good stuff. Movies aren’t all bad.

Beans, beans the musical fruit. I’ll leave it at that…
I helped at the high school yesterday. Talked to some of the kids about the internet and email. Talked to a couple about how to make/edit movies. Was able to help a few kids with some English. I took Emmanuel Noel on a run. The kid is 22 yrs old and in 8th grade. He was a street boy. He’s the kid we visited on the guardian project last month and told us that his house was “right here.” He’s a good guy. First off, he has to humble himself a bunch to be with a bunch of kids who are younger than him. Secondly, he is a great role model for them, and he is like a very good older brother to them. I admire the guy actually. Did I mention he likes to run? By the time he graduates from high school he will be about 26 years old. He wants to continue his education after that. Whatever he ends up doing with his life, he will be making a difference.


Anonymous said...

Ben- your words have been so inspiring to read over the past few months. not necessarily because you are doing amazingly extraordinary things for God, but that you are allowing God to do amazing things in you. it's sometimes scarier to let that happen than it is to DO adventurous things. thanks for continuing to be so transparent.
ps...count me in for Kenya 2011. it'll be the best way to celebrate my long overdue graduation. :)

Alicia said...

Thanks Ben! You completely made my whole day yesterday! It won't be soon before long...

Anonymous said...

Still praying for you.I love it when I see my kids let God do what needs to be done, in his time. You are missed.Feel a hug.