Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Recap

Rain and thunder have been the soundtrack to life the past couple of nights. I am not complaining, though because without the rain the dust is terrible. So much has happened the past couple of weeks. First- thank you all for your prayers for Ryan and his family.  I was able to attend the burial last week with Rachel and some of the kids and community members from Dream's.  It was in DEEP Maasai Land. It was the furthest interior Kenya I have been thus far. We traveled for at least 4 hours on what should not qualify as a road to a place where there was no electricity or water at all.  The whole community gathered for the ceremony, which was mostly in Maasai with a Swahili translator so I did not understand much, but it was incredibly sweet and moving.  Surprisingly, it did not last very long at all, maybe an hour and then they carried the casket to the burial place where we all took a turn throwing some dirt in before the elders finished covering it.  After the burial they fed us a delicious lunch and then we packed up and headed home. It was an emotionally and physically exhausting day, but I was so thankful to be there.
Maasai Land

Ryan's brother, sister, and uncle at the burial
The rest of last week was spent getting acquainted with my new role as the Development Associate for the next six months.  I will be switching from my monitoring and evaluation job to work more with the social media, grant writing, and being the lead on our Pamoja program.  Our Pamoja program partners groups in the US with groups from Kenya to facilitate cross cultural relationships.  If you are interested in learning more about this or being a part of it please email me at I am working on updating our website and creating a new look for Tatua Kenya and Be The Change- Kenya so when that is complete I will share the new website with you all.  Until then you can still go to the old BTCKE Website for some information about Pamoja.

Giraffe Center
Last Saturday I got to spend the day with my friend Lara Shine.  She is an Episcopal priest from Nebraska who just spent a few weeks in South Sudan.  On her way home she stopped in Nairobi for a few days and I was able to meet up with her and Jim, her teammate.  We got coffee at Java House, then went to the Giraffe Center, and stopped at Nyumba Ya Tumaini so they could meet some of the people I work with here.  It was a great day. To find out more about our adventure and their trip to South Sudan you should read Lara's blog.

Yesterday I got a new roommate.  Natalie and I went to the airport last night to pick up my new friend Andrew Nazdin.  He is from Washington, D.C. and will be staying with us for the month of February to teach a community organizing course to our newly hired community organizers.  Our staff has doubled in the past 5 days which is very exciting.  We hired 4 of the young adults who completed the program last year to be full time community organizers for this program year.  They will spend this month in an intensive course that will prepare them to go out to their assigned communities and get people moving around child poverty.

Me with Clinton
Today was a really special day.  I woke up at 5:30AM so that I could meet my friend David Kariuki in town.  He is the Kenyan country coordinator for an organization called Bright Point For Children. They are a child sponsorship organization that my family sponsors a young man through here in Kenya.  His name is Clinton and I met him while I was here in May 2011. David and I drove out Mombasa Road to a community called Ngaamba to see Clinton at school.  He is now in class 8, which means he is a candidate this year for his KCPE exams.  I could not believe how tall he was.  We got to spend some time together and I brought him some paper, crayons, and pens.  He told me how he still loved science and still wants to be an engineer.  The head teacher had wonderful things to say about him.  It was such a gift to see him and I plan on making it happen more while I am here.  Please pray that he continues to excel in school and that he will get good marks on his exams so that he can be sent to a good secondary school.  Life is not always easy out in the village, but all of the children at Ngaamba Central Primary were so full of joy!
Ngaamba Central Primary School
The last bit of news I will leave you with is that my mom comes in less than one week, which also means I will have been here for 6 months in less than a week!! Can you believe it? I can't!

Hope you are all well! Siku njema! (Good day!)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Celebrate Life

Yesterday was a rainy and rather chilly day here in Kenya.  The dreary morning brought with it some news I am not sure my heart was prepared for.  My sweet little friend Ryan passed away 2 nights ago.  For those of y'all that had not read, he was HIV positive and battling stomach cancer.  Death is something that you can never fully prepare for.  When it comes, it is always a shock.  Ryan was a fighter and a joyful boy.  Anyone spending time at Dream's Children's Home could see clearly how he loved his brothers and sisters well and how much they loved him.  I want to take this time to rejoice over the life Ryan lived here on Earth and the eternal life he will live with our loving Father.

Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts for Ryan over the past 5 months.  They made a difference because he knew that you were all praying for him and I believe in the power of prayer.  Please continue to think of his family, Rachel, and all of his brothers and sisters at Dream's for the next while as they process, mourn, and celebrate Ryan's life.  

I want to close with a quote from Thomas Merton that I believe is full of comforting truth and the way I I got to experience God through Ryan.  Have a wonderful day.

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.” ― Thomas Merton

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A YASC Christmas in Cape Town

Happy 2013 everyone!

Pit stop in Rwanda
I hope everyone ended 2012 and began 2013 on high note.  I definitely did.  For Christmas I was able to travel down to Cape Town, South Africa and meet up with 6 of my fellow YASCers placed in Africa.  After a minor detour to Rwanda due to cancelled flights I made it to Cape Town where Holly and Jared picked me up from the airport.  We then headed to Struisbaai, which is a little beach town about 3 hours from Cape Town.  We met 4 other YASCers there, Cameron, Steve, Ben and Elizabeth, as they drove in from Grahamstown, South Africa.  We stayed in a condo that was just a 2 minute walk from the beach for 4 nights to celebrate Christmas.  It was strange to be so far away from family on Christmas, but I could not have asked for a better group of people to spend the holidays with.  It was as far from a "normal" Christmas as it could be and I would not have wanted it any other way.  Most of the time while we were there was spent on the beach.  We did go and visit Cape Agulhas, which is the southern most tip of Africa where the Atlantic and Indian Ocean's meet.  For Christmas Eve dinner we did a Braai (or cookout) and made some delicious side dishes.  Then for Christmas morning we made a big brunch with eggs, bacon, fruit, toast and mimosas of course.  It was fun for us all to cook and share meals together.  For most of our meals at Struisbaai we all cooked and it was great time for fellowship.
View from our balcony in Struisbaai

All of us at Cape Agulhas

Our Christmas Eve table
Christmas Eve sunset 

When we arrived back in Cape Town we all moved into the Anglican guest house on the Cape Town University campus.  That is where Holly lives and it worked out perfectly because all of the students were gone for the holidays so we were each able to have our own room.  In Cape Town there was so much to do and I think we did a pretty good job of fitting it all in.  We went wine tasting, saw the penguins, did the Red Bus tour, saw the District Six museum, went to the beach, visited some of Holly's co-workers from Hope Africa, went to the waterfront, went to Kirstenbosch Gardens, hiked Table Mountain, did a couple of sun downs and attended a service at the Cathedral.  Amidst all that we found time to just relax, go on a few runs, and just enjoy each other's company as well.  I think Cape Town may be one of the prettiest places I have ever been.  For a big city, it was great because there was a view from everywhere of either a mountain or an ocean.  We spent New Years at Kirstenbosch Gardens.  There was a concert and we brought a picnic and we were surrounded by what most of described as the setting for Jurassic Park minus the man eating dinosaurs, of course.  It was probably my best New Years to date.
All of us with some Hope Africa people

Cathedral in Cape Town

New Years Eve at Kirstenbosch Gardens


Jared and I with the penguins

View from the top of Table Mountain
I arrived back in Kenya a few days ago and I am slowly readjusting to life here.  It was refreshing to be with friends for a couple of weeks.  Overall I am glad to be back and ready to work.  My mom comes in a month, which is exciting. I cannot wait for her to experience all Kenya has to offer and meet the people I work with here.  

Elections are quickly approaching and for those of you that do not know, back in 2007 Kenya had terrible post election violence.  Please pray for peace and understanding among the people here.  Elections are to be held on March 6, 2013.

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear how you celebrated the holidays and welcomed in 2013, don't hesitate to send me an email or write me a letter. You can find my address in the links and contacts tab above.