Monday, September 30, 2013

Eh... I don't know.


            I was dropped off this morning by the rest of the group. I was glad to spend some great, quality time with them. Linda, Kathy, Kris, and Tracey are really cool people, each with their own special thing about them. It was a great way to start of my time here.
            The principal showed me around the school grounds. There are only 42 students here at Blesco Boys HS, equivalent to 9-11th grade. He asked me what I wanted to teach, and all I was thinking about was how I didn’t want to be in charge of anything of that nature. He asked about biology, computers, and I was like, I guess I could teach that. Then I was looking through the Form 3 (11th grade) computer book, and it was talking about binary and junk. Uhhhh yeah… I didn’t quite get that far in computers. I got to the point of how to find good Youtube videos. And then I looked through the biology book, and that last time I saw the word “organelle” was 10th grade. Or did I take biology in college? I forget. Anyhow, all I was thinking was, “What am I doing here?” and that I don’t like this feeling in my stomach of not belonging somewhere.  Uggh. But I kept on thinking, God has me, God has me. So I’m just rolling with the punches. I’m gonna go to town on Monday and talk to Kamotho about helping him and Harun Waititu, partially cuz I don’t want to teach and come up with tests and all that, but mostly cuz I want to be with them and what they’re doing. Scapegoat?...perhaps. I was talking to the teachers (there are about seven of them) most of them aren’t done with college yet. One is 19 yrs old and the other is 20 yrs old. They don’t even want to be teachers. It’s kinda just a job for them I guess. The 19 yr old is studying biology at a university and is teaching bio, business, and something else here at the school. (Sidenote: I am currently listening to The Moldau by Bedrich Smetana. Very nice and soothing).  The start time for universities (different from college) is really weird. I asked one of the teachers when he’s going back to school, and he said he wasn’t sure. He has to wait for it to be announced and he’d find out from the radio or tv. Whaaaat?!? Yeah, I don’t know. He seems like a nice, smart guy. He’s teaching physics and math, and is studying to be a mechanical engineer. I’m a bit befuddled.
            Anyways, got to talk with the guys a bit here. I’m really looking forward to just being around and getting to know them. They seem like some cool cats.
            Looks like it’s gonna be some great terrain for running, nice big hill, flat stuff. Hopefully I’ll be able to go out in a couple days. They’re schedule is absolutely jam packed from 4:30 wake up time till they go to bed at 10pm. There is pretty much no free time. Honestly, it’s really bad in my opinion. I asked them real quick about it, and they said it’s too much. They get done with school at 4:50, then have some sort of mandatory thing, tonight was Christian Union. Other days are games or something else. I’ll be finding out more. Then at 5:45-6:30 is dinner. 6:30-9pm is “preps” where they have to study on their own in the classroom. 9-10pm is discussion groups (whatever that is) then bed at 10. No time for absolutely anything for creativity or relaxation. Did I mention that they have, depending on day and grade, 8-11 subjects? Mmhmmm. All this structure is not who I am. I like to run and workout at random times during the day, usually in the afternoon. Mr Maina, the principal, said that mornings (remember they start at butt crack dawn) are best for that. I despise working out in the morning. So, I think I might have to be a bit stubborn and potentially step on some Kenyan toes to make sure I don’t go insane and keep from sleepwalking throughout the day.
            The area around here is absolutely beautiful! The backside is against a hill/cliff with acacia trees and other forest looking stuff. And out in front is so much space reaching out into the Rift Valley. Fields of corn, patches of acacia trees, and mountains way out in the distance is my view from my balcony. So amazing. The house I’m in is pretty stinking big and echoes, like, a lot. Good thing I’m here all by myself (potentially creepy/scary). It’s right next to the school and the sleeping area for the boys inside the compound. Should be an interesting next 10 weeks. God is good.
            Can I just say how awesome my mom is. I’m so thankful for her and sacrificing so much for me, and the rest of us. I don’t make that known to her enough. Love her.


            Sat in on a couple classes, business and geography for the Form 1 (9th grade) students. They were engaged for the most part and many raised their hands to answer or ask questions.
            Thunder clouds rolled in about 2:30, blasted the sky for a while, then the rain started coming down hard about 7 minutes after that started. The rain lasted about 40 minutes then stopped. Looking at the sky and the view is absolutely amazing. It’s a good reminder of who God is.
            Played soccer with a bunch of them. No broken bones! The place is kinda secluded. There are people around out near the road. They’re usually doing something in the cornfield. Most of them are elderly, hunched over working their hands into calluses. The wrinkles on their faces show the work they have done for decades with little payback. Farming is a hard life. Thank God for the rain. I am grateful.


            Went for my first run. Woowee! Combination of not running and being at altitude certainly made that 27 min feel like a 6 mile tempo run.
            Picked weeds out in the soon to be soccer field with everybody. We pulled the crab grass in part of the school and planted in that field. We’ll see how it look in about a year. So far my time hear has not been…efficient. I’m trying to find my place, trying to make my floundering not look so noticeable. What does that look like? I have no idea. The time I’ve spent with the boys have been good, but it has been little.


            What is the purpose to living? Is it to be productive and change the world and make a difference? If it is, I’m failing miserably. I could be doing way more stuff at home, making money, coaching, Young Life, going about my regular home business. But I don’t think that is THE purpose. What if the purpose of my life, your life, is to be refined so meticulously that you can be used by God without even taking a second notice? What if THE purpose for my/your life is to know God, have a friendship with him, and have him be your master? If that is the case, then I’m not failing. Am I missing the mark at times? Yup. But for me being here, I need to constantly remind myself that’s it’s not about me and my comfort. So here is my prayer this morning, that God will be my peace, comfort, guide and master. Keep my eyes open to opportunities, and that I will have the courage to take them.
            I’ll keep my workout stuff to myself, but I found a nice sized rock to get me back on track.
            The weather is wacky. It starts nice out, then gets hot, then pours down rain, then stops then gets chilly. I kinda like it.
            I wonder if half the people who go to my church in Fremont would still go to church if they had to walk a mile around mud puddles getting their shoes dirty on the dirt roads, sit in not so comfortable pews in the heat, have no special sound system in a big room with nothing very inviting about it. How many American “Christians” go to church because of the entertainment and comfort level? How many go to church because they want to eat the only food that will truly satisfy the soul and worship God because he saved their life? Church service here was far from great. It was all in Swahili, so I can’t comment about the message, but the hymns and children singing and dancing would have been fantastic. Except they had a terrible keyboard with beats going and piano playing off beat in a horrible screeching. Sometimes simple is so much better. I couldn’t help but laugh when about 30 out of the 42 boys were sleeping, or at least had their eyes closed for the majority of the message. Sometimes shorter is better, especially when these guys are getting an average of 6 hrs of sleep and spend the majority of their days sitting at a desk absorbing information. In the words of Jim Rayburn, “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the Gospel.” 
            My prayer from earlier today was answered. I kinda feel like God is telling me to just be the vessel he made me to be, and let him do the filling up. And that’s kinda how it went today. We all ended up sitting in their room that was filled with bunk beds. High school boys/men are high school boys/men no matter where you go in the world. Girls became the topic of conversation. So funny. I’ll leave it at that. God is good.
            I’m reading a book by Tim Keller called The Reason For God. If you’re the type to question whether Christianity is legit or want to dig deeper into what this Jesus is all about, check it out.

            Still not quite sure what I’m doing here. Went to town and met with Kamotho and Harun. They have a bit for me to do. Looks like I’ll be going to town M, W, F. And I got a internet modem. So here I am sitting in my room on the world wide web. Strangely comforting. I hope the days to come will be better than today. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Moving along


            It’s good to see some of the high schoolers who aren’t the academic type doing well. Three students are living together in a two room (and when I say two room I mean two room, nothing else) house to save money. Their mats are on the ground in one room with food and cooking stuff in another. They walk to a technical school where they are learning woodworking. There are ten students in their class. The students who are a year ahead of them and the employees (former students) are making fantastic stuff. I hope our students will really work hard to create some amazing stuff. And it looks like they are. This could be their ticket to a life where they won’t have to struggle from day to day.
            It was great seeing some other guys who are grown. A couple were former street boys. God is good. There are definitely still struggles but struggles are a part of life no matter where you live. Some are just more noticeable than other.
            The terrorist junk in Nairobi is coming to a close. Great devastation has occurred. So keep those who’ve been touched in your prayers.


            Hanging around 200+ kids gathering around you in some neighborhood made of mud and dirt is something everybody needs to experience. God is good.

Monday, September 23, 2013

You Know You're in Kenya When...


You know you’re in Kenya when…
-you’re white skin is the minority… actually come to think of it, the same can be said for Fremont. As a matter of fact. You know you’re in Fremont when…
-the best place to eat after 10pm is In n’ Out
-the excitement for the month is the countdown to Whole Foods opening
-Charlie Chaplin and Kristi Yamaguchi are the center of conversation about famous people you’re connected to.
-the above conversation turns sour when you find out Charlie Chaplin was here for only 3 months and then moved to LA
-Resonate church is the best place to be on a Sunday
-you want to go out at night and see the goings on of the nightlife but end up sitting at home watching Shark Tank on tv cuz there’s nowhere to go
-you see the Scooby Doo guy hanging out on Mowry and Fremont Blvd


            Finally getting on a regular sleeping schedule. Slept til 7 this morning. Still stupid tired though.
            We’ve been reading “My Utmost For His Highest” by Oswald Chambers and talking about it while eating breakfast. It’s super good reading that makes you look at the Gospel (Good News) in a different way. It gets you thinking. I’ve read it before, a couple times (almost), and it has really helped me to look at the way I view God and myself. Here is a good example. He says, “ ‘You call me (Jesus) Teacher and Lord…’ –but is he? Teacher, Master, and Lord have little place in our vocabulary. We prefer the words Savior, Sanctifier, and Healer. The only word that truly describes the experience of being mastered is love, and we know little about love as God reveals it in his Word.” Now if you’re not Christian, you may not have any idea what I’m talking about or care less. However, if you identify yourself as a Christian these words may hit a note in your life. We like the mooshy gooshy stuff (the latter) cuz it’s nicer and makes us feel good. It also means nothing on our part but admitting that we’re not naturally great people (which is true). On the other hand, the former (Teacher, Master, Lord) requires that we submit ourselves under the rule of another. In this case it is God himself. The American culture sees submission as something negative. It sees it as being weaker than another, and in a sense it is. But when one submits himself to another who has nothing but purity in himself, wow! That is an amazing thing. The person submitted to rules over the person who has submitted with love, sacrifice, justice, and so much more. I would gladly submit myself under that kind of authority. And in submitting, we acknowledge that his way is far better, and that I let go of trying to control myself; the ego has gone. Just one little thought.
            Finally hit the streets of downtown Nakuru. We went over to get the pictures developed of the kids to put in their files. The Nakuru Children’s Trust, which is what has been developed out of the change with Rohi and all that, is a pretty big deal. It’s kinda like a social worker trying to keep track of 300+ kids. By the way, if you’re interested in sponsoring a kid, let me know. There are over 20 kids who don’t have sponsors. I’ll put you in contact with Linda. Anyways, the chance of getting hit by a car goes up about 200%. I saw my street craft guys, Sammy, David, and a few others. Super great seeing them. David invited me to go play volleyball with him sometime at the fields. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to do that. Went shopping to get some stuff for a former student who recently had a baby and her grandmother. There are so many tough decisions that must be made on how, or if we should, be continuing to financially support these students after they graduate. There comes a point when they must fly for themselves and stop asking for handouts. At what point does helping hurt. I recently read a book called When Helping Hurts. If you ever plan on doing “missionary” type stuff, you should definitely read this book.
            Went to Daniel Kamotho’s home for dinner. His wife, Elizabeth, made a fantastic dinner of chapatti, green grams, cabbage, mukimo, and a stew type stuff. And finished it off with watermelon and bananas. So good. We sat around talking and watching the news about the terrorist stuff going on in Nairobi. Kamotho’s two children are so cute. Esther is 4 yrs old and Oliver is 1 ½ yrs old.
            Rain, and lots of it every afternoon/ evening.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

First full on post. Good luck.

9-17-2013 First full day in Kenya is coming to a close. It started off with waking up at 4:30 this morning after about 6hrs of sleep. We left at 6am to pick up Kris from the airport. She was left behind in Amsterdam because they wouldn’t let her on the plane. Her passport expires in 5 months. And apparently Kenya doesn’t let people in whose passports expire within 6 months. I think this is more of an airline thing rather than a country thing. Well we picked her up without her bags because they got left behind as well (they’ll send them to Nakuru in the next few days). We finally hit the road with Victor as our driver. He is usually the driver whenever Cornerstone church people are out there. He’s a really cool guy. Seemingly goofy (actually pretty goofy especially with Haron), but a solid dude with his priorities in their proper spots (as far as I can tell from all the trips I’ve been on and conversations). We visited a Rohi graduate named Mary in a town Thika. She’s studying nutrition and is doing well. Then we went to Mulli’s Childrens’ Home. There are 600 students here who get an education, get fed physically and spiritually, and are encouraged to be who they are meant to be. Pretty much all of them are orphans or have a home where a parent has died and are struggling financially. Gonna do a tour of the place tomorrow. We checked in with the 28 transfer students from Rohi. They all volunteered to go 7 months ago but many are not happy here. Many of the complaints we heard were petty things that happened at Rohi as well. But I think it being so far from home, a brand new environment, and new people, they look for the little things to complain about. We’ll see what the leadership decides to do when the school year ends in December. They have a lot of visitors come through here, so they have a nice setup. I got my own room for the night complete with a bathroom and mosquito net. Luxurious!!! 9-19 A few of the boys at Mullis decided to run away. I guess seven left but 3 went back. Although it’s a very good organization, it is still run by human beings. And as we all know humans are far from perfect and mess up periodically. There are no perfect people or organizations out there, so there will be problems. Hopefully the problems are dealt with properly. The drive from MCF to Thika to Nakuru was over 4hrs. Saw some amazing beauty. Great forests in the highlands with carpets of green tea covering hillsides. The gray rain clouds in the background magnified its greatness. It’s understandable why people worship the creation instead of the Creator. But when we do this we are missing out and seeing things from such a small lens. May it never be so. In Thika we met up with a few more Rohi graduates. They are doing well, going to college and starting their adult lives. Moses, one of the students, started studying business type stuff last week. He was one of the first boys I met when I first came to Kenya in 2007. In fact we visited his grandfather at that time. And we have the same birthday. That was one of the first things he said to me yesterday. Shows you how little of an interaction with somebody can stick in their minds. It began raining pretty heavily on the way back, as well as today at times. We visited the Form 4 (12 grade) students. They are doing really well, working really hard and have great character. Saw my boy Evans. I’ve been sponsoring him since 2008, writing him letters and such. My brother, Philip, also sponsors him. He’s almost as tall as I am. Good looking dude. We then visited the other high school boys at Blescoe HS. I’ll talk more about that place later since I’ll be staying there starting next week when Linda, Kathy, Kris, and Tracey head back home. It’s on the back roads about 10 miles from town. I may get a bike to get to and from. Kamotho suggested getting a car, but that may be a bit extreme especially since Victor got stuck in the muddy ditch about 25 yards outside the school’s gate. It was stupid slick. They boys (about 40) came out and helped push us out. Then we got stuck again. Good times. 9-20 I just tried plugging the transformer into the outlet for my laptop. The thing practically blew up. Not sure if that transformer works anymore. Oops. My laptop is three pronged. The transformer only accepts two prongs. Forgot to bring the adapter for that. I was told that Apple laptops are universal and can accept the higher voltage (I think it’s higher) outlets here in Kenya. Can anybody confirm that? Today was a pretty chill day. Three of us went to Troy’s house to inventory the dental equipment. Troy is a missionary here with his wife and now four kids. Him and his family were the people who helped take care of me when I broke my ankle here last time. It’s good seeing him and his growing girls again. The baby was just born when I was here. Now she’s running around. They also just adopted a little baby boy here. His middle name is Azariah (I think it has a couple meanings, but I believe one of them is “God is my help” Love that). I’ve wanted to name my son that for the last five years. Guess I need a son to name first. After dental stuff we bought a bunch of food to bring to the HS boys in a couple days. Then we came back to the hotel and wrote some letters to the kids who didn’t get letters from their sponsors. Is it that hard to write a letter twice a year to a kid who doesn’t ever get mail? Linda, Tracey, Haron, and Stephen Gitau went to MCF to have a meeting about some issues that came up. And it went really well. The drive takes 4 hrs to get there. Then they get a call from three boys who left MCF. They were in Nairobi, a couple hours away from MCF. They said one of the boys were really sick. So they went to check on them. Turns out they made the story up. I haven’t gotten the whole story yet, as they are not back yet, but I guess they chewed them out pretty good. So they might be sleeping on the streets tonight. They had an opportunity to have everything provided for them at MCF but decided that they knew best. Hopefully they’ll learn sooner than later. So starting next week I’ll be staying at the boys’ high school. I originally didn’t know where I was staying when I said I would come to Kenya. As I said before I only wanted to stay the first two weeks with the team. It is much easier this way. But I thought it would be good to be here so decided on three months a couple months before we left. When I found out I was staying the hs, I thought it would be either with them or in a small little office or something. But then they showed me where I would be staying. It’s gonna be in a two story, 3 or 4 bedroom house… all to myself. WHAT!?!? Here’s the deal as far as I know in summary, Bleascoe HS started up only in Feb or March of this year. All the staff was hired within a couple months and classrooms made steel or tin sheeting. When the Rohi boys needed a place to go to school this place was created. The house where I’m gonna be staying was originally supposed to be a wealthy business man’s home on a many-acred piece of land he owns. The house was just recently finished. There are a bunch of other details in there that I’m not entirely sure about so I won’t go into too much detail. But basically this house wasn’t supposed to be built but the guy “just felt” like God was telling him to build the house (before the idea of starting a school came into mind). Once I find out the whole story I’ll let you know. But basically it’s a thing that God orchestrated pretty amazingly. Drove by the street market a couple times today. I swear those guys could smell you. I saw Sammy, one of the street vendors. I was looking to see if I could see the guys I knew, and sure enough there he was. He spotted me across the way. I’m looking forward to catching up with all of them. Let me quickly talk about Victor again. We were talking about current Kenyan political drama, and it came up that during the riots where thousands of Kenyans were killed in a couple month blood bath between tribes, Victor risked his life (literally) to save some people from the other tribe. He took three trips driving to where the other tribal people were in the midst of the murders (heads getting cut off, bodies burned, and all that horrible stuff) and drove ten people to safety on each trip. On a couple of them he got pulled over to the side of the road by the insurrectionists. Once he had the people in his car questioned in one tribal language to see how they’d answer. Fortunately the people who spoke that language were near the windows and answered while the others stayed quiet. Another time he was directed to pull over. He began to do so then took off as fast as he could. Crazy stuff. Gotta admit.. I miss home. I have some amazing people in my life, and I miss you guys. 9-21 Went to Blesco Primary and Girls HS. Saw my boy Julius. He’s one of the first boys I met at Rohi back in the day. The kid’s in 8th grade and doing well. I met the guy whose house I will be staying in. The man is a wealthy banker and already had the primary and girls’ HS going for the last five years. It wasn’t until Linda and company approached him about starting the boys hs. He and his wife decided within a few hours that this was something they wanted to do. The house was originally supposed to be a vacation type of home. He and his wife seem like really great people. They give so much to these kids. It’s great to see. He even offered to get me an international drivers license (since he is on the board) and let me drive his car. I said thanks, but let me give the public transportation (matatu) a try first. Last time I was here a kid named Collins fell and broke his front tooth in half. He’s now a couple inches shorter than me and has enough spunk to put a cheerleader to shame. He’s a funny kid. There are times when I’m just ready to get going with staying at the hs. Other times I’m just thinking that I just want to resign thinking about the next couple months of not having really any idea of what’s ahead, like the everyday stuff: what I’m going to eat, how I’m gonna be getting around, what I’m going to be doing with my days, and all that. I’m not worried about it, but these thoughts keep popping up. God is good and I trust him. Finally had my first home cooked Kenyan food tonight at Haron’s house. So good. 9-22 It’s been raining off and on. And when it rains, it pours. It actually started to hail. Definitely wasn’t expecting this weather. But it’s good for the crops. We are in Nakuru, about 2 hrs away from Nairobi. In a Nairobi shopping mall there has been terrorist stuff going on. There are now 59 people who have been killed, 175 hospitalized, 30 held hostage. I guess it’s a Somali Muslim extremist terrorist group. Horrible stuff. Pray for the people that have suffered and will be suffering. Pray that the terrorists would come to know the Truth. Visited the HS boys. Went to their church service. The 42 boys there were singing praises, and I gotta say that it sounded amazing. Just 42 boys, a few teachers, us, tin walls and roof, wood benches, and God. So good. A female pastor (I think she’s a pastor) from nearby came and spoke. She talked about not giving up and defeating the odds. Blesco Boys HS is basically a makeshift school created in just six weeks. She used some Bible stories, and it was motivational, but not much God centered. I didn’t really like that about it. After all, what do you have if you’ve gained the whole world but lost your soul? I know some of you may disagree with this, and that’s ok. We can discuss sometime.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Off We Go

Alright, I'm about to head off to my last American church service for a while. Gonna miss everybody there. Then I'm off to the airport where we'll head for Amsterdam, have a few hour layover, then fly south to Nairobi. This trip feels different than the ones in the past. It's been over 3.5 years since I was last there, and I'm sure things have changed quite a bit since. I'm looking forward to see my boy, Evans, who my brother and I sponsor. Meeting him 5 years ago and seeing him grow into the young man who is about to graduate from high school is pretty cool. Also looking forward to seeing all the other kids. Mama and Papa will be one of the highlights. Living with them last time was great. Not really sure where I'm staying this year. So, with that being said, I'm gonna miss everybody here at home. I'm hoping to update this thing at least once a week with more exciting stuff than this here post. Not too sure about internet access. Love you all and see ya in December.