About Me

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Malindi, Kenya
This blog used to be about me and my new husband starting our life together in Brookhaven, Georgia. Now, 8 years, 3 children, and 1 trans-continental move later, I'm writing for me; to document the emotional and spiritual journey I am on so that I don't forget the paths I have traveled in my heart and mind.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Burned beans

OK, so the beans were a flop. I was so determined to make a really good meal for Chris, mom, and Cody when they got here. I had soaked the beans and followed all the instructions but after several hours of cooking, they still weren't soft...so I decided to cook them overnight. I woke up this morning to the smell of death wafting up from the kitchen. I hadn't added enough water to the pot and the beans were charred. Poor Jen can't get the smell of burnt beans out of her mind, as it seems to be on our clothes and skin and in her backpack (thankfully she is being a really good sport about it), but I haven't given up. I will try to make the beans again tonight, and if it doesn't work, I will try again. I am determined to cook something good here!

I have somewhat hit the wall in my trip like I did last time. Last night, I had leftover indian food for dinner and it was not good, so I had a piece of strawberry yogurt bread that I had made on Tuesday and it had somehow turned bitter. Then, I decided to make banana bread which turned out ok, but it's like the baking powder wasn't mixed in well or something and I kept getting these little glimpses of a tangy taste every few bites. Then, the beans....not to mention somehow I got bleach on my clothes because I was decontaminating the counters after cutting up the chicken. My clothes are looking so incredibly dingy after being washed a few times here. I don't know if it's too harsh of detergent or what but most everything I brought is turning into a muted brownish version of whatever color it used to be. It makes me feel very frumpy.

But at the same same time (Kenyans like to say things twice like that) I don't really feel that bad. I have plenty of food to eat and clothes to wear so I am doing better than most people around here. Thankfully I saved one dress that hasn't been worn or washed here at all so I can wear something nice when I go to pick everyone up at the airport. I think I just keep battling with the feelings of wanting life to be a certain way versus accepting the way things are here. The concept of living in Kenya the way I lived in America just doesn't work, nor is it a healthy goal. I just want to have peace with my life here, trying to make things better, but accepting it when things don't turn out the way I want. I've always thought of myself as being low-maintenance, but now I see that is all a matter of perspective!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cooking in Kenya

Chris, my mom, and Cody Kemp are coming to see me in just TWO DAYS!!! I'm so excited I can hardly stand myself. These past three weeks here have been really good for me, but I miss Chris so much, I mean so so much. Let me also say here how excited I am that Cody and my mom are coming. I have to brag on my mom here... I mean how awesome is it that she is coming all the way to Kenya to see me? and even without my dad! She is such a strong woman and a HUGE mentor in my life. Kenya is not an easy place to be, but I have no doubt that she will love it here. I have been telling everyone that my mom is coming and that she is super strong. I am so thankful for her and also very anxious for her to have a good impression of our new home! Cody has been a friend of mine and Chris's for about 5 years now. Even though he is a few years younger than us, he has taught both Chris and me a lot about the Lord and about how to love others the way Christ loves the church. He is one of our very best friends and I can't wait to see him.

In anticipation for them coming, I have been trying to make preparations for their arrival. I thought I should cook a really good meal for them when they get here. But with me working all day and nothing being available pre-prepared, I have been working on this meal in stages. Wednesday night I started soaking some black beans and made some flour tortillas. Tonight I will finish making the beans, make some banana bread, and cut up the chicken so that it can be marinating. Saturday, I will just have to cook the chicken, warm up the beans, put together the yogurt sauce that goes in the burritos, grate the cheese and chop the lettuce and...voila... chicken burritos in Kenya! As you can see, cooking here is a little involved, but I am really enjoying it and since I don't have internet at the house I am really thankful I found this book- "How to Cook Everything" in the flat. It really has a recipe for everything starting from scratch which is what you have to do here. The only short cut I took was to buy some really expensive boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Maybe when my mom is here she can educate me on how to cut up a whole chicken from her days in France. I don't know if I could ever bring myself to do the killing of the chicken, but we'll see.

Anyway, the meal might turn out to be disastrous (if you read the blog on our previous trip to Kenya you know all about that:), but I don't really care because I will just be so happy to have the three of them here with me. Hurry up, saturday!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pics from Ringroad














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500,000 friends

I was walking around Kisumu by myself yesterday, so I had a lot of time to think. I won't bore you with everything that's been going through my mind with no TV, internet, or ability to go out after dark (which is 6:30pm), but here is one thing that was pretty cool. By many people's definition in America, a friend could be someone you don't say much more to than "how are you?" and "fine." The funny thing is that here, every single person I pass asks me that, I mean EVERYONE. So in a city of 500,000 people, I have 500,000 friends. This is a very good thing because sometimes walking around alone I start to feel very vulnerable, especially when a group of guys come up and start asking me a lot of questions and walking along beside me. I have found that in this situation, the best defense is to make friends with as many people as possible by smiling and talking to people so that I don't feel like I'm alone and I don't feel as scared. Yesterday, as I was walking, a woman came up behind me and just struck up a conversation with me. She was very nice and it made such a difference in how I felt when I was walking with someone else. We just chatted along the way, and right as I was about to arrive at where I was going, she turned off to go see a shoe man about fixing her shoes. I think God sent her to me at that exact time so I didn't have to walk the whole way by myself.

Anyway, yesterday I got to go see the kids at ringroad again. They weren't really doing anything in class because most of the teachers were gone and the term was finishing, so I just hung out with them and laughed with them and took some pictures. I don't know how to explain it, but there is something truly special about these children.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Kwa sababu ni mzuri

I have officially made it through two weeks without Chris... one more to go!

Things have been going pretty well and I am starting to get the hang of things at work. The samples are going to be coming in a lot quicker next week so I will be very busy. The Kenyan workers here are very eager to learn so I am always explaining to them what I am doing and letting some of them help me so that when the work load increases I can count on them to help me process all the blood samples. I can't really think of any people in the world that would be more pleasant to work with. They are also eager to help me learn Swahili and are constantly saying how good I am doing and how quickly I will learn. I think I could really get used to all this affirmation;) Tonight I am going to a worship night with some of the other missionaries in town and I am really looking forward to being with a lot of Christians and just worshipping the Lord.

I have been doing a lot of worshipping by myself to help me get through this past week. I love the song, "Oh Lord, God of Isreal there is no God like you in heaven or earth below..." For some reason just singing that song gives me an incredible amount of peace. Chris also made me a playlist on my ipod of Christian songs and I have been listening to that a lot. Here are some of my favs:

Beauty for Ashes- Shane and Shane
Healer-Kari Jobe
Psalm 13- Nate Hale

It's amazing how comforting music can be.

Tomorrow I plan to go back to ringroad and see some of the kids again. I am supposed to be teaching some classes, too, so we will see how that goes;)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Being pruned

Sometimes you just have those days where you feel like God is really pruning you. That is what I feel like right now. It's kind of like when you have a bad dream and you know it's just a dream, so you know you will eventually wake up, but that still isn't much comfort. I've been going through some extremely difficult things, and I find myself thinking, "this is what God was talking about when He said we would have trouble and we would suffer, so I know I will make it through this." But you still just feel incredibly sad. It's not the worst thing in the world, because as Christians we have hope. This is something I learned when I was in middle/highschool and I would get sad all the time. Eventually, by the grace of God, I learned that although there would be sad times, there was always a light at the end of the tunnel. It was ok to be sad, but i never had to reach the point of, as Anne of Green Gables would put it, being in the depths of despair. There aren't depths of despair for a Christian, there are valleys of sadness, but God's hand is always there to catch you at the bottom so you don't keep falling. I'm really so thankful for that.

9 more days until Chris, my mom, and Cody come...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Weekend Njema

Well, last weekend was a really good one and very welcome after the long week of work. I got to go to see the kids at Ringroad on saturday and also visit with the teachers/staff. The people and children at that place are just amazing and I always love to be with them. They welcomed me back with open arms and I went around to each classroom where they sang for me and then I got to tell them how much I missed them and loved them. I just can't wait to get to know these kids better, because I think that they so desperately need to know what it feels like to be loved. I think they were very happy that I was back and surprised that I remembered some of their names. On Sunday I went to church at ringroad by myself (the day before one of my friends came with me to see the kids). It was really weird walking back through the slums by myself with everyone staring/yelling/pointing at me and trying to get my attention. I knew that they wouldn't hurt me, but it was still a little intimidating. I always try to smile back at them and say hello even though that is not always the first response that comes to mind to the things that they say, but I always want to represent Jesus and the hope that he offers. It's not that they say anything particularly mean, it's just that it makes you feel so incredibly "apart" which isn't really a good feeling. At church they asked me to get up and say something and I told them I looked forward to the day when they wouldn't count me as a visitor anymore. I hate the thought that I will always be a foreigner, but I'm excited to see how the power of God can transform that into something wonderful. I was looking at a verse in John that says that Jesus would not leave his Disciples as orphans, and I wondered how the sweet children at Ringroad would interpret that. The way I see it, if God's power can transform their situation as orphans then He can definitely transform mine as a foreigner. Getting to know the Kenyans has really deepened my relationship with the Lord and my understanding of His word. Some of the conversation that takes place between Jesus and His disciples has always seemed a little odd to me, but when I hear a Kenyan voice saying the things the disciples said it kind of helps me understand. They don't necessarily ask a question when they want an answer, and communication is seen as a process that occurs over time, not in a single conversation. Communication is done in stages, a little at a time, and not necessarily with words.

Things have been a little tough at work lately, but nothing ever comparing to the troubles people have around me. A verse that has been helping me so much lately is the one that says in this world you will have troubles, but take heart, Christ has overcome the world!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One week

Well, it has been almost one week since I left Atlanta. Time seems to be going slow and fast all at once. It's been really hard being away from Chris, but I'm trying to keep myself busy and enjoy the people I am with. Work is going pretty well, and tonight we are supposed to be going to a local kareoke place, so that should be pretty interesting. This weekend one of my bosses comes into town and wants to have some meetings, but I'm hoping I can squeeze in some time to go see the kids at ringroad-I still haven't gotten to see any of them yet.

I've been sleeping better and better at night, and I'm so thankful for the Holy Spirit with me all the time so I am never alone. I am definitely clinging to the Lord right now because it is so easy to feel lonely in a foreign country, even if you are surrounded by some really great people. I have been able to talk to Chris everyday and that has helped, but at the same time it makes me really miss him. The cool thing is that all the ex-pats here are really nice because they know we are all going through the same thing. And of course the Kenyans are super nice, too.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thoughts from a jet-lagged mind

Today is my second day in the lab and so far things have started off much better than last time. For starters, I already know a lot of the people here and they all act like they are so happy for me to be back so of course that makes me feel good. It's so funny because last time my favorite person was the security guard at the front desk, and he has now moved elsewhere on campus but the new security guard in our building is already my favorite again. I wish I could explain how much he smiles and how big his smile is, you just can't help but love this guy. Again, no one else seems to really talk to him much, so I always try to ask how he's doing or just chat a bit when I walk by. I guess maybe the Kenyans see the security guards as being in a different social class or something.

I'll be getting my first blood sample today so I can start my experiments. I'm starting to get excited about my role in the lab in December. We are doing a lot of planning for the future and the people that I will be working with are really great. Hopefully I can use this time to start training some of the Kenyans to do the experiments I am doing so when I come back in December we can really get going.

I brought a lot of things to keep me busy in the evenings because without Chris I don't feel very comfortable going out at night. We were able to ship over a guitar and I bought a cheap book on how to play so I am trying to teach myself. So far I have learned three cords and it is harder than I thought, but I am loving it. I really just want to learn the cords so that I can play along with worship songs if we ever have groups over and we can all worship together. I used to play the piano and I think I just forgot how much I enjoy playing an instrument, so we'll see how this goes. I also brought a lot of books, movies, and my Swahili lessons so hopefully I can back to learning that.

Last night I was having a really hard time falling to sleep, and so I just started thinking about all the things I have to be thankful for and I was really overwhelmed at how good God is. I realized that I got sad last night because I let myself think about what I didn't like about my current situation instead of all the things that God is doing through me. I prayed and told God that today would be different, that I would really think about the joy he has given me, because that is the only way that people will see Jesus through me. And I am so thankful that I have time to do things like try to play guitar, read some books, and learn Swahili, because I never have a spare moment when i am at home. So this post is me trying to practice what I prayed last night. Am I missing Chris? yes. Am I missing my dog and sad every time I think that she won't be at home when I come back? yes. Do I get a little lonely? yes. But these are all temporary things, and compared to the blessings God has given me they are nothing. The travel went great. The people I am with (both Kenyan and American) are very nice. I have two really great bosses, and the weather here is absolutely perfect. So far, I have even enjoyed the food pretty well! (However I am still VERY thankful for the cliff bars, slim jims, fruit rollups, cheese crackers, peanut butter crackers, and cow tails that I brought-when would I ever eat all this stuff at home and not feel guilty about it?)

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:18,19

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:8,9

Thanks for the verses, mom;)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

5 minute post

I have made it safely to Nairobi and got about 5.5 hours of sleep last night, so that's pretty good. The flights went well, and on the first one I ran into an AWESOME friend at the airport who totally hooked me up and I got to fly economy comfort which means I had lots of leg room and just extra room in general. Thank you so much Jay! I can't tell you how much that encouraged me!

The next flight-different situation-Cramp-ola! but when I stepped off the plane celebrity style (meaning we had to climb down the stairs onto the tarmack) it was totally worth it. I'm so glad to be back in Kenya. Today we are catching an 8:30 flight to Kisumu where we will have the day to run errands such as getting a phone, money, water, etc, before starting to work on Monday. The two girls I am with, Jen and Laura, are very sweet and I'm thankful to be traveling with them. Our taxi driver to and from the airport is so so nice and reminded me how much I love Kenyan people, but it was hilarious I'm sure to see the three of us girls with all our luggage (two huge suitcases and a carry-on per girl) crammed into this little hatch-back car. We had to give the front seat to one of our duffles of lab supplies.

As a side note, Chris and I packed a grey rubber bin fulll of some stuff for our house. We secured it with zip-ties and duck tape. The driver asked me if it was a bomb...ha:)