Monday, July 25, 2011

One Night In Africa

Please come and invite your friends! It's going to be an amazing night full of stories and photos and fun!

Friday, July 08, 2011

An Education

On our second day in Marurui, I ended up captivated by some middle school students.  It was a Saturday afternoon.  They had school that morning, but they were still there when we arrived doing extra studies.  When I walked into the school yard, about 20 of them huddled around me like I was the craziest thing they'd seen.

"Do you know Obama?"

"Did you study Swahili in school?

"Why are you white?"

"Why do you have freckles?"

"Why isn't your hair kinky?"

The questions were rapid fire.  They had me completely surrounded.  All I could do was answer and as soon as I answered, another question was being fired my way.  This went on for a good 15 minutes and I loved every minute of it.

Two girls grabbed each of my hands and asked me to follow them to their classroom.  "Amy, please come see our classroom!"  How could I resist.  I did ask them if it was okay, and of course they assured me it was.  Uncertain of whether or not it was appropriate, I climbed the skinny stairwell holding the hands of two girls who walked in front of me.  We got to the top and turned the corner to the left.  They led me into a tiny classroom about 12x20 (much bigger than I expected).  There were about 20 square, wooden desks, each with their own personality.  Each of the girls showed me their desks and looked up at me with the biggest eyes and smiles I've seen in a long time.  The fact that I was paying attention to them and that I cared enough to go upstairs with them and spend time with them was so huge to each one of them.

"Will you sing us a song?"

If you know me at all, you know this is when I become petrified.  These girls kidnapped me so I could sing to them?  That's absolutely insane!

"Umm...I don't really have a very pretty voice.  We should go back downstairs and ask Beth to sing for us.  She is really good!"

"No!  We want you to sing to us!"  The chanting and pleading continued.

"What do you want me to sing?"

"Amazing Grace!!"

I knew I had to face my fear, so I bargained with them.

"I'll only sing it if you sing with me."


I looked around first to make sure someone wasn't setting me up, then I took a deep breath and mustered up enough courage to start singing "Ahh-maaazing Grace how sweet the sound..."

We sang the first verse and I wiped the sweat off my forehead.  I don't have a good voice and I've never pretended to.  But they didn't care.  It didn't matter.  To them, it was beautiful.

Once we were finished singing, just in case I hadn't been taken out of my comfort zone enough, a girl stepped out and asked me if she could teach me a dance.  Really?  Me?  At this point, I knew God was giggling at me.  So I laughed.  And I danced.  Because that's all I could really do.

The boys started filtering back in to the classroom.  They asked questions and I answered.  I asked questions and they answered.  I asked about their studies and what they were learning.  We took some pictures.

8th Grade Class

8th Grade Class 

I had been upstairs with them for about 20 minutes and I was starting to wonder if everyone had left me yet.  I asked if they wanted to go back outside and we started down the steps.  But a big booming voice yelled "Get back in your classroom!"  So I hugged them goodbye and went back outside on my own.

The minute I stepped foot back on that playground, I was surround by a large group of 7th graders.  I had some kind of middle school magnet that day.  I honestly have no idea what it was about me, but they were flocking to me.  Just as before, this group was incredibly inquisitive.  Again, I was asked if I knew Obama (Those Kenyans LOVE Obama!).  They asked a lot of questions about life in America...houses, school, classes, university.  They were so intrigued that I didn't learn Swahili in school, but I did learn Spanish.  Again, I was asked to sing...this time, the National Anthem.  This time I wasn't alone, so I made Lauryn come sing it with me (as awful as it probably was, I really wish this was on video somewhere!).

When it was time to leave, they all piled around me and gave me huge hugs.  There were two girls, Stephanie and Bernice that hugged me tight and told me that they would never forget me.  And I am most certain that I won't forget them.

7th Grade Class

One thing that I learned on this trip is the huge importance of an education.  Education in Kenya is not free.  It actually costs hundreds of dollars a year.  Most Kenyans can't afford to send their children to school and even if they can, they usually have multiple children and can't afford to send them all.  Can you imagine having to choose which of your children to send to school?  Which child do you pick to have a better life?  Because without an education, these kids won't be able to get a good job, won't be able to make enough money to support their families, won't be able to send their children to school.  And the vicious cycle continues.

We have gotten the blessing to start a sponsorship program for the children of the women who sew with Jacaranda.  We have been working hard to get this off the ground.  Over the next few weeks, we will have most of the details worked out and I'll be sharing them with you.  This is something I'm so excited about seeing come to fruition!  Please start praying that we are able to sponsor these children.  To provide them an education, a brighter future, and hope.  We can make a difference!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

A Visit to Maasai Land

We loaded up the vans and headed out to into the bush to visit one of the Maasai villages.  We were told it would only take about an hour and a half.  I'm not sure how long it took us, but it was definitely longer than that.  The ride was super bumpy, the roads were super curvy.   We drove over rocks the size of small animals.

In the last little town we passed through, we picked up a driver with a huge black water tank who drove ahead of us the rest of the way there.

At one point, our van had a really hard time getting up the steep hill over the rocks that jutted out through the dark earth.  Kind of kidding, Dave asked if we needed to get out.  But after the third unsuccessful attempt, we all climbed out of the van.  Our driver drove ahead of us as we climbed the dusty hill.

 The view from where we got out of the van and walked

We finally got to the church!  The guys unloaded the water tank that had been donated from California.  The pastor was so excited!

The children from a nearby school walked to visit us.  They sang a few songs for us and did some dancing.  They were absolutely adorable.  One of the women sang for us.  Then we sang a few songs for them (which I'm sure was quite amusing).

After we were finished, we went back outside the church.  The women had set up some of their jewelry to show us.  The kids were excited to just have us there.  The flies were swarming.  It reminded me of pictures and commercials I've seen my whole life.  But I've never seen anything like that in person.  Garry told us that he has seen the flies so bad that you could physically see them laying eggs in the kids eyelashes.

We were invited to visit the home of Pastor Amos and his wife Lillian and their family.  We walked out in what seemed like the middle of nowhere...just bushes and lots of dirt.  I honestly don't know how in the world they remember where they live or how to get there.  Eventually, we get to a small area with a fence made from wooden posts.  Inside the fence were two small huts made of a dung and mud mixture. The roof was made of tin with rocks holding it down on top.  Their goats mingled in the distance.  We were invited to go inside the home.  Only a few of us could fit at a time. I crouched down to walk in.  Once I turned the corner, it was pitch black inside.  There was one large room with two beds (I think...It was really hard to tell) and a small place to cook.  After our eyes adjusted a little, we realized there were other people in there and we didn't even know!

It's so humbling to be invited into their homes.  To see a peek into their lives.  It makes me realize how much I have that is truly not important.  Of course, I'm thankful for everything I have...but how much is really necessary.  While their lives seem so simple, sometimes I long for a little simplicity.  Not too much, but just a little. :)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

How He Loves Us

We drove back to Marurui today.  I have fallen in love with that place.  As soon as we piled out of the van, the kids were already coming out to meet us.  They flocked around us, finding anyone with a free hand and taking it in theirs.  At one time, I had two kids trying to hold my left hand.  Another girl was  holding tight to my right hand with both of hers, as if someone else might come along and try to snatch it up. She kept tugging at the hair on my hand and on my arm and kept rubbing the back of my hand and pointing at my freckles.

Along the path, we stopped and Beth and Joby led us in How He Loves.  As we sang, I looked around and saw the beauty in of all of us singing.  Kenyans.  Americans.  Dark skin.  Light skin.  Men.  Women.  Children.  And I thought that it must be what heaven will be like.  But without the hurt, without the pain.

And we sang:

I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

 Beth and Joby leading us in song

We walked to one of the schools we had been at a few days before.  We pulled out the jump ropes and those kids went CRAZY!  It was like a mad dash to anyone holding a white Nakumatt bag.  To any kid who was lucky enough to be handed one of those jump ropes, it was like winning the lottery. It's so crazy that something as simple as a jump rope is so exciting.

 Passing out jump ropes at one of the school

 All the kids come to meet us

 Walking through Marurui

(An excerpt from my journal entry Saturday, June 11, 2011)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Nest

Our team got an opportunity to spend an afternoon at an orphanage, The Nest. The children in this particular facility were all abandoned for different reasons.  26 children in total.  The smallest child was only one month old.  His mother died giving birth.  He was HIV positive.  I watched that tiny baby breathing, his chest falling and rising, sleeping in his small crib.  There were three other babies sleeping right beside him.  I pray that he will have a chance at life.  That someone will want him.  That someone will love him.  That someone will tell him he's special.

The children there were taken care of.  Probably not to American standards, but you could tell they were.

The kids were sleeping when we got there, so we got a tour of the facility and got hear a little the orphanage.  Once the kids woke up, they changed them and brought them out one by one.  They brought out one baby after the next until each of us had our own.  My baby was sweet.  She had a huge smile.  As she breathed in and out, I could feel the vibrations of something bronchial.  But she was happy.  She smiled a huge smile.  She was just content with being held.  They all were so sweet.  They asked us to stay and feed them, so of course, we did.  

Below are a few photos from the day.  

 Feeding my sweet baby

 Those kids loved Dave

All of us playing with the babies

 Joby holding one of the children

 Lauryn feeding one of the babies

 Cooper with one of the babies (Look at those eyes!)

Jessica playing with one of the babies