Uncategorized

Running Around Like Crazy

Sorry it’s been so long since I posted! I’ve been super busy these past few days and haven’t had the time. Everything is going well here, and tomorrow I am heading off to a safari.

The visitors left yesterday so the children were very sad. We did a lot of things with the visitors while they were here. They brought basketballs with them, and taught the kids some basketball down at the neighbourhood court nearby (about a twenty minute walk). I went with them, of course.

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Some of the locals were there; a public school was holding a track meeting. The younger kids as well as me and Loren, one of the visitors, were sitting on the court watching the older kids play a half court game. Next thing I knew, we were surrounded by curious locals, who wanted to know if we spoke Swahili, and where we were from. A few people pulled my hair; because our hair is different they get curious. In any case, I ended up standing up. It was a little unnerving how they were all surrounding me. It suddenly occurred to me what it must feel like for a celebrity; plenty of well meaning people, no place to hide. It worked out though, their teacher came and got them, and the locals went back to the track field. Actually, one of our boys ended up racing them later, it was quite fun to watch.

After Cindi’s Hope Academy had practiced basketball, we took them to some nearby Kerugoya private schools to play some basketball games. At the boy’s high school a mixture of the Americans and the Africans played for us, mainly because we have quite a few little boys but not a lot of older boys. I wanted to show all the students that came out to watch. They were taking exams but they took a short break to see who was winning. The school has about 800 students-for four grades.

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It’s hard to buy good sports shoes here, so we gave the basketball team shoes that people had donated in the US. Cindi also brought along Bibles for each of the basketball members.

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The next day we went to the girl’s school for the girls to play against. Since Cindi’s Hope hasn’t exactly had balls to practice with, they were pretty bad. They ended up having the girls play against the school’s B-team, and the boys play against the A-team. The boys won-barely. The girls were huge! Most of them outweighed the guys, and their coach kept telling them to be more aggressive. It was also funny to see how different they were from the Boy’s school. The boys in the Boy’s school were very shy and polite-but kind of stand offish. The girls though, they went to town! They especially loved one of our guys, Jonah. After the game all of them wanted a picture with him. It got to the point the girls from Cindi’s Hope were getting jealous! It was a completely different feel from the boys school, and the girls were hugging the boys right and left. I found the whole thing absolutely hilarious. (And yet somehow I didn’t end up with any pictures)

The day after that was Monday, and it was the last day the visitors were in Kerugoya. They left Tuesday morning to go to the school in downtown Nairobi, and we’re meeting up with them tomorrow for the safari. For the last night we had a Thanks Giving. Cindi wanted to thank God for having provided for the children, and having her family there, and etc. They brought up a pig from the farm (the one Cindi bought for a future school building) and we ate that for dinner, along with rice, French fries, coleslaw, and chapaiti (similar to a tortilla). If you haven’t noticed, they eat a lot of carbs here.

We went to the hotel the visitors are staying at for the meal. There is a little play area we waited in-the kids loved it. There isn’t any play equipment at the current school so it was a real treat for them. I prayed there wouldn’t be any serious injuries because-well, stuffing 50 kids in a 30 X 30 playing field is asking for trouble. Besides a few scraped knees it went fine.

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The Thanks Giving was great, only I got a very tiny portion of meat. Somehow I ended up with two pieces of fat, and a piece of meat the size of two thumbs. Then the classes performed memory verses and songs, and then it was announced that the visitors were leaving the next day. Quite a few children started crying. I was surprised; I figured by now they would be used to visitors coming and going. Grace told me it was normal for the children to cry when visitors left. I thought about it some and then realized I never did cry about such things as a child. I was the one who cried when my mother came to pick me up! So yeah, I guess I’m a little strange…

Oh! And I didn’t mention this, but it didn’t rain the entire time the group was here. Cindi told everyone to pray it would stop raining so they could play basketball, and the morning after they left it started drizzling again…

And now I am off to bed, because it is almost midnight and I have to get up at 6 am. I have never been a morning person and I don’t think I ever will be…I need to move to a Latino country maybe…or become an author and keep my own time…

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Trip in Kenya, Uncategorized

Lots of Little Nothings

Today I helped Teacher Faith in her classroom again. Classes are going well, in fact I would say they went better today than they did yesterday. One of the children in our class was in trouble yesterday, and so Teacher Faith was in a bad mood, and the children were on egg shells. Today it went much better.

I still don’t like how they teach math, but I began to understand why they teach English the way they do. Because many of the children come not knowing English, they use stories to teach them, and then ask them lots and lots of questions. The questions are made with only one answer, so that the teacher can tell if the child is understanding the nuances of the question. It was still boring, but I could see why the children are doing well with it.

There are visitors coming Thursday, so apparently they are not planning to do the normal school schedule while they are here. I’m not really sure what they are planning to do…a Bible School type thing? Crafts and games? All I know is it will be like school is out for the children until the following Tuesday.

Today we officially got some new children. They had come on Friday, but the District Officer hadn’t brought all the paper work so they had to take the children back to him Monday. It was decided that the District Officer didn’t feel like keeping up with them over the weekend, so he sent the to the school, knowing that he needed the paper work! Sue and the social worker, Esther, went to get the children, and apparently the District Officer was not happy. He told them, “They were very noisy!”

Sue looked over to see them quietly sitting on the bench and said, “They look to be quiet.”

And he said, “Well they were noisy earlier, and we had to tell them to be quiet!” (which Sue candidly remarked to me that ‘Of course, they are children. What did he expect?’)

In any case, we got the three children today, two girls and a boy, or else it’s one girl and two boys. It’s hard to tell sometimes, especially since they don’t have uniforms. The girl, who is maybe eight or so, I spotted her chewing on a pencil-mind you it was after lunch, and losing your pencil is the equivalent of getting grounded here. So I walked over and had her give me the rest of it. I watched her a little while later, and realized that she wasn’t just chewing the pencil-she was eating it! Sue told me that many of these children are from the street, but I was still rather shocked-I mean, she had just had lunch. Apparently though, especially for the younger ones, they can have a hard time feeling full because of what they experienced on the streets. In any case, she didn’t get in trouble today, they tend to be a little more lenient when you first come, but I am sure within a week or two if she keeps doing things like that, it will cause an uproar.

 

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Trip in Kenya

Second and Third Day

I finally have the time to sit down and write. Yesterday I stayed at Cindi’s house, and we planned to leave by 3pm, but the truck we drove in the previous day broke down so we had to wait for a ride. We set out around five in a taxi, carrying pig food for the farm, bibles for the children, and myself and Cindi. I wanted to take pictures of the road side to show how trafficy it was, but they didn’t turn out. Here is a few pictures of the various shops we passed:

There are small shops everywhere along the roadside.

There are small shops everywhere along the roadside.

It was about a four hour ride. The farm is between Cindi’s house and the school, so we stopped there first. It was starting to get dark by then; it gets dark between 6:30 and 7pm everyday.

The countryside is beautiful. It's a little blurry because we were in the car.

The countryside is beautiful. It’s a little blurry because we were in the car.

The fish ended up dying during the drought, so this one is empty.

The fish ended up dying during the drought, so this one is empty.

Cindi's green house. The plants are doing well now that the droughts over.

Cindi’s green house. The plants are doing well now that the droughts over.

The farmers live on the farm, and take care of the pigs and chickens and plants. There is also five bee hives, but since we wanted to leave before it got completely dark, I could not go look at them. The pigs are very healthy, and the greenhouse has worked wonderfully. Although there are no more fish, they continue to use the water (fish free, don’t worry) for the crops and pigs.

The roads are terrible though! They are all made of dirt, so when it rains they get horrible holes in them. There are these giant sand trucks as well that drive up and down the road, and leave big gouges in them. We had to be very careful driving the car, so the 5km took twenty minutes, with us weaving and wincing the entire way.

We finally got to Sue’s after the four hour journey.  Cindi had to turn around right away and go home, so she couldn’t stay for dinner. I went to bed by 10pm.

In the morning I put my stuff away. Sue lives in an apartment area, it is about ten small apartments all enclosed by a wall. The apartments are a nice size, with two rooms, a kitchen and living room, and a toilet and shower. I have my own bed that is very comfy, and someone has left behind a guitar. I am hoping when I go to church tomorrow to ask the worship leader if he can find me some new guitar strings. I figured I might as well learn how to use it.

Sue's living room. We eat our meals here.

Sue’s living room. We eat our meals here.

Sue's tiny kitchen. You will see the various buckets, we have to purify the water carefully to be able to drink it.

Sue’s tiny kitchen. You will see the various buckets, we have to purify the water carefully to be able to drink it.

The room Sue is letting me use. It is perfectly sized.

The room Sue is letting me use. It is perfectly sized.

At about 1pm we went to the school. It’s about a twenty minute walk from where she lives. On Saturdays the children mostly play at the school, and then at night they walk back to their dorms.

All the children wanted to meet me. If I asked one their name, I would have to ask at least ten more, so none felt left out. So of course, I don’t remember any of them. Hopefully I will catch on quickly. When Sue and I were about to leave I pulled out my camera to take some pictures. So of course one of the girls, Susan, asked if she could use it, so I ended up with lots of snapshots and only one or two pictures of the actual school. The children loved getting their picture taken and then seeing how it looked on the camera.

Susan took several snapshots, but I thought this one was funny.

Susan took several snapshots, but I thought this one was funny.

The children play jump rope under the banana trees in front of the building.

The children play jump rope under the banana trees in front of the building.

A slightly better picture of the school. The children eat lunches under the gazebo, and behind them is the school building.

A slightly better picture of the school. The children eat lunches under the gazebo, and behind them is the school building.

After Sue and I left, we went to a “Thanks Giving.” Here when someone feels especially thankful about something, they throw a party called a Thanks Giving. They invite their friends and share how they are thankful about something God has done for them. Then they eat. We got there in time for the eating part. Apparently we have very good timing. Then Sue and I and Grace (a teacher at the school) walked back to the apartment compound. Grace lives next door, she is a very nice woman who is teaching me Swahili.

And now I am going to bed, right after planning my Sunday school lesson. It is strange here, one minute time seems to stand still, and the next you seem to have run out of it.

I forgot to mention if you wish to leave a comment, there is a button on the left hand side of the post that you can click on.

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Trip in Kenya, Uncategorized

Finally Here

So it took me forever, but I’m finally in Kenya! I meant to post at least once more before I came,  but with finals and being sick I put it off.

This is my first day here, I spent the night at Cindi’s house (the woman who runs the girl’s school I am working at) and later today we are heading up to the school in Keragoya. I don’t have any pictures at the moment, but hopefully I can post some later on today.

Last night, Cindi and her son picked me up at the Nairobi airport. It was raining really hard, and for a moment I wondered if I got the seasons wrong and it was the rainy season! Cindi assured me it was not, but that it was just raining. My first experience on the highway was slightly scary; there are no traffic lights. Her son, Lorenzo, told me that there are only three in the downtown, and otherwise driving is kind of a “free-for-all” (which, when looked up on the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is described as an uncontrolled fight or competition that involves many people).

Instead of traffic lights, the entirety of the road (that I saw) was composed of merging lanes and roundabouts. On the way to their house we saw two busses that had ran into ditches, most likely because of the rain, and they told me they had seen three on the way to pick me up. I found the whole thing rather exciting (sorry mom). I couldn’t tell if people were honking to let others know not to hit them, or because they were cussing them out in a controlled road rage.

In any case, by the time we got to their home, it was 11 o’clock their time, 4 o’clock my time. I was pretty tired, so I ended up going to sleep pretty quickly. And now it is morning, and I am off to find me some breakfast.

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Uncategorized

Putting All My Eggs in One Basket

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Last Sunday, as I was sitting in Church, I started thinking about everything I wanted to do. A writer, a teacher, a traveler…but I also want to pray for the sick, and see miracles happen. Yet somehow the two visions wouldn’t mesh in my mind. When I thought of being a teacher, I couldn’t picture myself also praying for the sick, and when I thought of myself teaching others about God, I couldn’t picture myself as a fiction writer as well.

I sat there pondering why that was. Suddenly it occurred to me: without meaning to I had made contingency plans.

In anything else, the common advice given is “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Because sooner or later something might fall through, and you need a back up plan. But I realized that with God it is just the opposite. With God I need to put all my eggs in one basket. I need to put all my trust in Him.

I still don’t know how it will all work out. I still believe I will be a writer and a teacher, and that I can also pray for the sick, and travel, and help others. But I will put all my trust in God and believe that everything will work together, that everything can be done in Him.

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Tips

Tips for raising money and asking for donations

Today I had my last fundraiser for my trip to Kenya. I’ve learned a lot this past year in fundraising and asking for donations, so I thought I would share a few tips with you.

Donations

  • Make sure your heart is in the right place. I made a post about this, how I realized I needed to trust God to help me get the money I needed. Before you send out your letters, make sure to pray over them, and over yourself. Make sure your heart is right before God. If He told you to do what you’re doing, he will provide for you. You have to trust Him.
  • Be direct. Explain clearly. Don’t beat around the bush when writing your letters. I learned this the hard way. I didn’t explain well enough that donations needed to be sent to my church (I was following a template I found online. Next time I will be more clear) and got a few checks made out to me instead, which made it impossible for me to be able to send them a tax-deductible receipt.
  • Have a middleman. This can be your church or the organization you are going with. This will keep you honest, and honest looking. Even if you would never abuse someone’s donations, it will prevent any future issues where someone might try to slander you.

  • Write thank you notes as you go. I didn’t know this, but you are supposed to send thank you notes within two weeks of getting a letter. Also, I would suggest personalizing the thank you note, and writing it by hand. This shows the person you did not write them simply because you wanted money, but that you appreciate what they did for you.
  • Give a receipt. This should be obvious, but it’s best to give a receipt along with the thank you note, with the amount they donated and a date, so they can use it as a tax deduction. Also, you should keep track of your expenses on your trip, so that you can show donators what their money went towards. I wrote that if they wished for an account of my expenses, they could ask for it at the end of my trip.

Fundraising

  • Be open. Be open to suggestions from friends and family. I had one friend who offered to let me wear origami owl jewelry-for free-and also host a party where the money went towards my trip-for free. I didn’t make a lot this way, mostly because I am not that good at selling things. At first I was really nervous, I’m a terrible salesman. But then I realized, it was all for free, it wouldn’t take a lot of my time, and there was no reason not to do it. So I did. I only sold two items. That’s still money towards my trip.
  • Count the cost. The first fundraiser I did was for Cindi Mendoza’s girl school. I hosted a pancake breakfast on a Saturday, and invited several churches. I worked really hard and spent a lot of time on it. I believe I got maybe 40 people. 40 out of 500. In the end it worked out and I got about $300 for Mrs. Mendoza, but I learned my lesson-don’t start out with grand events. Start small, and as you gain a following and experience, grow big. If possible, try to get a head count at the beginning, and get a feel for how much are going to come.
  • Have a core group. I cannot stress this enough.  Those 40 people who came? They were my friends and family. I didn’t know it at the time, but they were my core group. These are the people who will root for you, that want to help you, and that support you. They are very important. Never forget them, because without them, you would never have gotten off the ground.
  • Branch out. You cannot rely on your core group forever-they are not a bottomless pit. I don’t have a lot of experience in this area as this past year is the first time I started trying to fundraise. I believe the best course of action is to be friendly and get to know more people-as well as your friend’s friends. I think the key here is to not get to know them for fundraising purposes, but because you like them.
  • Get to know the insiders. A friend of mine is a teacher at a private Christian school, and the advisor in charge of the student’s ministry group. She was excited to hear I was going to visit Mrs. Mendoza, and helped me organize a pancake fundraiser at the school. She spoke to the people in charge, and helped me get it all set up. The student’s ministry group even bought the ingredients for me- all I had to do was show up to cook the pancakes, no jumping through hoops required. It was a wonderful experience. I am super grateful to her. If I had been on my own, there is no way I would have ever gotten to do this.
  • Be flexible. Today, as I mentioned, we had a fundraiser at a private school near my house. We had done one in December, and this was our second one. We were all prepped, and ready to go when-surprise! There was a hiccup in the plans. Another group was already using the kitchen; we had accidentally been double booked. My mom and I put our heads together and concluded to cook the pancakes at home and bring them over (since it’s not a long drive). It worked. The pancake fundraiser went off without a hitch. Despite the slightly stressful beginning, it went better than the first.
  • Always be grateful. No matter if 10 people show up at a 100 people event, or if you made $100 instead of $500, be grateful. These people did not have to help you. They worked for that money, and they deemed your mission, your dream, important enough to donate some of that money to you. So be grateful. Make sure to thank them and remember them. Don’t worry about the other 90 people that didn’t show up, and don’t let it hurt your feelings. Be grateful, and remember them.
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Prepping for Kenya

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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I am leaving for Kenya the first week in June, and a very good friend of mine offered to help me by picking up some skirts at Goodwill. Wow, I never realized how economical Goodwill is! All the skirts were $3. I like quite a few of them, the brown, peach, and green ones especially. And as the title would suggest there were a few that I had to reject, but overall I an really pleased.

Now I’ve just got to finish the school semester, raise the rest of the money I need, and prepare my transcript so I can change colleges this fall. Oh, and my taxes. Can’t forget those.

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