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.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Steve and Tobias

There are two security guards that work at the Nyanza Club in Kisumu. This is kind of like the Kenyan's version of a country club...ish:) Every morning that I go to work I walk up to the Nyanza club to catch the shuttle to take me to work about 10 miles outside of the city. I can't remember when or how, but at some point I just started talking with the two security guards at the front gate of the Nyanza club. Steve is 27 and Tobias is 25. They arrive at work at 6am and work until 6pm or 6:30 everyday, seven days a week. Tobias has not had one day off in a year. Steve has a wife and three-year-old daughter, and also helps take care of his brother. Tobias helps take care of his younger sister, as both of his parents have passed away. Now this is a very typical story of a life in Kenya, but these two guys are just amazing and God has put them on my heart so strongly that I can't stop thinking about it. Every morning they greet me with a huge smile on their face and they are always talking about how good the Lord is and how they desire to do what's right. They wanted so badly for me to come see where they live before I left so I told them I would yesterday and mom came with me, thankfully. We headed over to Nyanza around five in the evening, and first took a tuk-tuk to Tobias's house. He lives by himself in a part of town called Manyata, and suffice it to say it was quite the adventure just going to his house. He called some of his friends over to greet us and went and bought us all some cokes-he wouldn't let us leave until I finished my whole half liter of coke. We were so touched by his desire to welcome us into his humble home, but at the same time we were also getting so tickled at the whole situation. We would say something that we thought was really nice or normal, and sometimes, for no reason we could understand, they would all get so tickled at us and laugh really hard, which made us laugh because we had no idea why they were laughing and then they would laugh at us some more. The conversation was good, but also humorous because in Swahili, the word for he and she is the same, so he would be talking about his sister but I'm trying to figure out which guy he is talking about because he keeps using the masculine pronouns. Well they finally decided it was time to go to Steve's house, and I said it would be okay to take a motor bike because, of course, they said it was "very close." So we hope on a motorbike with the seat slightly too short so I'm sitting on a metal piece in the back and we head off over a glorified foot path and onto a very busy road on a bike with no rearview mirrors and no helmets (don't ever tell my children I did this). Steve and Tobias were on another bike which kept dying so we would pass them and I was thinking where is this guy taking us and I feel really nervous, and then they would catch up and pass us with huge grins on their faces. This happened several times until I was really getting tickled at the whole situation. We finally made it to Steve's house and met his wife and daughter and brother. We sat there and talked by the light of a lantern (no electricity) as they shared with us their life stories and told us how strongly they believed in God and his goodness. I just kept thinking, these are two amazing men. No bitterness, just a desire to make life better for their families. When it was time to go home, it was pitch black outside, so Steve used the light of his cell phone to help guide us around the mud puddles on the path from his house and Tobias drove slowly behind us on his motorbike to shed a little more light. They were going to put us in a tuk-tuk to go back home but I asked them to come with us the whole way because I don't feel safe out after dark, so they took us all the way back (which was quite a way) and we said goodbye.

We spoke to them again this morning and assured them we would see them again soon. I don't know why but neither mom or I can stop thinking about them. I want so badly to help them. I'm praying that God shows me how. What an amazing way to end my time here for now. Kwaheri Kenya, nitarudi December!!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Last day of work

Today was my last day of work in the lab at Kisian. I was hurrying the whole day to get everything done that I needed to get done before leaving...taking inventory of all the supplies, finishing up some experiments, gathering things to bring back to the states, and giving out some small gifts to the people that have helped me out since I've been here. The people I'm working with here really are so great. I will surely look forward to seeing their smiling faces when I come back in December. Tomorrow I will say goodbye to the children at ringroad, and wednesday we head back to the States. It's such a weird feeling. Just thinking about leaving those children makes me have a huge lump in my throat. There is one girl, Diana, that I love so much, but every time I have to leave she cries and cries until my heart is so broken. It doesn't seem fair that I am leaving them. They need someone there all the time. One of the older girls gave me a purse. She was so embarrassed to give it to me that she gave it to mom to give to me. It touched me so much because I know that she has nothing, but she still chooses to give something to me who has everything. I can't explain the way these gestures make me feel. I am learning more and more that the best thing I can give them is time. They need someone to sit and listen to the thoughts they have as if they matter. We all take this for granted, but there are people who really don't have anyone to talk to.

Well my computer is about to die, but I'm having trouble getting my thoughts together anyway. Maybe I will have more luck later. I'm anxious to be back with the people I love in Atlanta, but my heart will remain here when I am gone...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Out to the field

As you can tell by the pace of the blog posting, work has really picked up in the last few weeks (and at work is the only time I have internet). I'm working on wrapping things up in the lab and finally feel like I can start to relax a little. There has been a lot to do, and I'm not exactly sure how productive all my hard work was, but I'm trying to be optimistic about it. I can truly say that I did all I could and gave it my best shot. I have gotten to know the people in the lab even better now that I have had the chance to work along side them, and they are all really great. I'm really looking forward to coming back and being able to work with these wonderful people. Today, since we had a little bit of time, we got to go out to the field to see what it is actually like at ground zero- so to speak. I was really impressed with our field coordinator, Bernard. You could just sense that everyone he was working with really loved him, which is pretty good since he is always coming to get their blood:) I met a few people that provide assistance with keeping track of who gets in the water how often and getting everyone together for the blood draws. It was nice to be able to thank them for their work.

We met one mama who was a sand harvester (most of them are men). I was really amazed at her. She stands all day long shoveling sand from one pile to another, moving it away from the shore to make room for the next boatload of sand coming in off the lake, and when I met her she had a huge smile on her face and seemed incredibly happy. It was a rainy day so most of the workers were not out, but there she was working alone, as hard as ever. I joked with her about how she was so strong and I would never want to get in a fight with her and she laughed and said no she wouldn't fight me because I would shoot her with a gun (she was really laughing as she said this so it isn't as morbid as it sounds, but it was very odd-Bernard explained that many Kenyans think all white people carry guns). As we left I noticed that Bernard gave her some money and she was extremely grateful (she is not part of our study so there was no conflict of interest here). I can tell he really cares about the people he is working with which makes me so glad to know he is the one who will be handling our field work.

The shuttle that takes me home from work is about to come so I can't write any more now but I have so much to say. This has been such a good trip. It was so hard to say goodbye to Chris AGAIN yesterday, and I am very anxious just to be with him for a long time. My mom and our friend Caroline, from Mauritius are here with me and they are wonderful company. Caroline suggested we make crepes tonight, and when a French woman offers to make crepes for me, I don't turn her down! We even found some Nutella here in town. Life is good...more later...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

No longer alone

Finally, Chris, Cody and my mom arrived...YAY!!!! I think the moment I saw Chris's red bandana and knew it was him coming off the plane was one of the happiest moments in my life. It's not that the first three weeks here were particularly bad, it's just so hard being in a foreign third world country by yourself. So Mick and I picked them up from the airport and headed back to the Davises, where they made us an amazing breakfast of pancakes and strawberries and bacon. Next we headed out to the orphanage to see the kids...Chris was so happy to see them, and they were even happier to see him. It was so cute to see their faces light up when they saw he was here. They got to meet my mom and Cody, too...which they really loved. The girls just took to my mom so quickly, asking her a million questions and gathering so close around her. She is amazingly kind and compassionate with them. I feel like they see her as the mom they don't get to have. I'm so glad that my mom is here spending time with them. And what can I say about Cody, he is a NATURAL. I kept thinking, where did Cody go? and then I would find him surrounded by children with their undivided attention. He and Chris are quite the pair. They can talk to anyone and make an immediate friend. It's like the cultural walls just dissolve in front of them. Anyway, the three of them make a great team here, and I think they are having a lot of fun. I love hearing about their adventures when I come home from work...work...hmmm...well, things have been REALLY busy for me at work, but I'm getting the hang of things and figuring out how to manage my time so I don't feel quite so stressed. Tomorrow night we have been invited to go eat with one my coworkers, and I am really looking forward to that. Several other coworkers have expressed interest in having me and Chris over and I have told them I plan on doing the same once we are in our new house. I'm really excited to get to know everyone in the lab better.

Oh yeah, for lunch on Saturday we had the meal I had made and it was actually really good. The second try on the beans and the banana bread were huge improvements and everything else was a success. I know you were all worried about this:)

Sunday was church in the morning, then we took three 9-year-old-boys and one of their 3-year-old sisters out to lunch. Chris took the boys to the bathroom to wash hands and said they couldn't get over the automatic hand dryer-what a thrill! The little girl's name was Diana, and I fell in love with her. She was beautiful and sweet and polite. She just sat in my lap and ate whatever I put on her plate so neatly (well, she wasn't too crazy about the kale-I guess kids are the same everywhere:) Anyway, I was in heaven holding her, but she got a little heavy for me after a while since we were walking all over the city, so I had to pass her off...to who?...to a 9-year-old-boy of course. He just put her on his back and carried her forever like it was nothing. Anyway, after lunch and walking around town we went to a Kisumu soccer match, complete with its own vuvuzella, and then we had burgers at the Davises with a mission team from Amarillo. We met a great missionary family from Kitalli (couple hours away from Kisumu) and are really excited about spending more time with them...maybe even this Christmas?

Life here is somewhat like a roller coaster. I have to admit, I am kind of ready to come home. Work has been stressful, and I still don't have a 'home' here of my own and that is getting old. But I'm growing more and more excited about our future here in Kenya. It still gives me butterflies in my stomach when I think that I am going to be LIVING here...are you sure about this?....WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?...You must be crazy!....these are all thoughts I still have daily. But the sense of adventure, the personal growth, the ministry opportunities, and the opportunity to share this special piece of the world with our friends and family are all calling me forward into my new life in Kisumu, Kenya with A LOT of excitement. The next time I come here, I will be coming home!!!!!