Sunday, September 27, 2009


i just read sarahs blog about last week and the hiv/aids training. she does a wayyyy better job of explaining the significance of the training for those involved than i did (and of how much we learned). so just go read her blog if you havent already.

today we went with boniface to his church service for the street boys. this time we went to where they sleep, on a slab of concrete beside the river, or under the bridge. it was a little more sobering than the first time we went out with him, because we got to see them at their dwelling place, and in the light their overall dirty and unkeptness is more obvious. it was good, im really glad that we got to go see them where they sleep.

there are certain things in my life which i have grown up with no appreciation for. i have probably tested them out at some point long ago, failed, and then written them off all over again. aside from blogging for the first time in my life the last month or so, i have attempted to journal while here for the first time as well.

after church with boniface today we went to java house.

i have been reading (re)understanding prayer by kyle lake this past week. there were some things which i wanted to write about today, so i did that. but while reading, i kept remembering other things and kept journaling. there are some things that have been bouncing around my head for the last couple years that i finally decided to write down. then i kept connecting those ideas with other things that i have thought about, just not in conjunction with those other ideas before. by the end i was kicking myself to never writing my thoughts down before, and very satisfied with the time i had put into writing. i guess a lot of it centered around my perception of prayer and trying to figure out what factors contributed to putting my perception of prayer at its current place.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

getting there

this past week we finally did an entire trip around the city without a guide. we took buses and matatus from home to south b and back all by ourselves. we have been lucky enough to have guides all around us so we havent been hung out to dry in our transportation at all. and now we have got a good enough grasp of the ropes that we can get around without help for the most part. we also have went to and from church unaided a few times this week. im pretty sure we got overcharged on at least one matatu ride.

today at church wiki (yes mom, i will eventually post pictures of people) taught us how to make kenyan tea. its pretty easy, and now i have its secret locked in my mind forever, i think. the best part about knowing how to make kenyan tea is that next time at ubc when we decide to do a kenyan day....we wont screw up the kenyan tea.

ill actually give quick, probably inadequate directions
combine 1 part milk with 3 parts water. ex. 500ml milk and 1500ml water
pour into pot and bring to boil
once boiling, add two tea bags (for amount given above)
let the bags bounce around for about 5 minutes while still simmering
remove bags
pour into cups and add lots of sugar

wiki has also said he will teach us how to make chipati, which is amazing and super kenyan.

i thought that handling public transportation, making tea, and making chipati should set us well on our way to being honorary kenyans, but wiki told me that there were many more things he would show us, so i guess we still have a long way to go

we went to ktdp in kibera the last couple days. it is a school loosely associated with city harvest. sarah has some art supplies and we did stuff with a couple of their classes. my experience with kids and art has come entirely from waco arts up till this point. waco arts, at least in its initial stages (south terrace) was more like chaos with attempted organization. therefore i was completely unprepared for the kids to quietly and quickly accomplish whatever it is you asked them to do. the first day (and second day too) all activities went super fast. it was weird to realize that it was harder to plan a lesson when the kids actually listened and did the work, rather than anything but.

it was also hilarious the way the little kids mobbed us. i legitimately couldnt move for fear of crushing a kid.

spent time at the hairdressing school today, and will be back in south b tomorrow, possibly attempting to learn to knit or something like it

Friday, September 18, 2009

hiv/aids training

the last few days have been hiv/aids training for women before they can join a post test club. i learned a lot about hiv, the drugs used to fight it, and how long and normal life can be even when someone has hiv. because most of the talking was done in swahili, we used a lot of time to try to learn words and phrases from sarahs handy swahili roughguide book.

we got some iced coffee at java house the other day which was pretty much blissful. i love coffee. she gave me some pointers for communicating better- speak slower, pick words carefully, dont go off on tangents and use needless words like i tend to do.

some differences kind of set in too. the way water is such a commodity here, as opposed to turning on any tap anywhere in america and having drinking water. i really got hit with that as i saw about 30 women lined up waiting to get water that was not even clean. one activity done during the training was to set out a days worth of food for five people on a 100 shilling budget. that is $1.33. maybe a loaf of bread back home

Sunday, September 13, 2009

in comparison

its been a few days since my last update because things have been a bit hectic lately.

last thursday we didnt end up doing too much, but a guy named matthew who works for SNV (not sure if thats right) was visiting the church. he is the guy who connected one laptop per child (olpc) with city harvest in pokot. after morning devotions we talked to him for about two hours, and learned a lot about how loans and contracts were given out for construction. apparently anybody under 40 does not have enough collateral or security in order to get a loan. so a lot of people who may have entrepreneurial ideas, cant get the money to do it. also he said that contracts, government especially, normally go to whoever offers the most kickback, so the cost for buildings is often almost twice what it should be.

on friday we spent most of the day in south b. first at the slums and then with a ptc group there. we were late meeting with the ptc group because mercy, the women who was meeting us and taking us to the group's meeting place is super social and was talking to people all along the way. mercy is not much older than me, has aids, and is about the most hopeful person i have ever met. the hope which these women have once they come to grips with having aids, and realize that they will not die immediately is amazing. mercy is going back to school, at a grade 8 level now and talked about going to university once she graduated. a couple of the other women in the group were also going back to school, some of the women much older than mercy. i think mercy is possibly the most vivid example of the hope and joy which they have, however it is very similar with all the groups.

as sarah is quick to point out on her blog, any problems which we (and we means mostly sarah here) have encountered the last couple days, pale in comparison when we think about the lives of the people who we spend most of our week interacting with in the slums. however, to sumarize, sarahs allergies have been incredibly bad, and her computer crashed yesteray. so bad breathing, plus bad sleep, plus bad computer isnt a good combination. the days havent been all that much fun for me by virtue of feeling bad for watching sarah struggle and not being able to feel like im helping. i think skype last night with ben, marshall, and carly didnt hurt though. i was also thinking how much more amplified the feelings have to be for those with aids, whose friends are struggling with aids, when somebody is sick or dying. thats so much worse than a stuffy head and throat, and much more prevalent in their lives as well.

going to a second straight 4 hour service was a little different today, it didnt have the newness of last week's service. but the conversation with pastor edward on the way back from church was really good and made the whole experience worth while.

for my mom, i swear a post with pictures and explanations of people will come eventually.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

sleep is sooooo nice

tuesday- i survived. thats all that matters
sunday night i slept fitfully. monday night i slept till 330, then couldnt sleep any more. so tuesday was a long long very tired day. and we walked. a lot. we went to south b and walked to the beauty school then to new biofuel project a ptc is building there. later we walked with wiki to kibera from the church and visited the elementary school city harvest has there. thats about 40 min each way. then walked another 45 minutes or so to the city center. all while i was the most tired i can remember. i was swaying near the end. and i went to bed at 9. earliest bedtime since gradeschool

but sleeping pills from nakumat junction were the answer i needed. and today i woke up feeling refreshed for the first time in kenya.

we went around with a group from ireland that got in yesterday. they are working primarily with nairobi chapel, another church in town that worked with the amahoro meetings a lot. they saw the vtc and the beauty school. we left them after lunch and went to another post test club(ptc) group in a different slum. we didnt stay there too long because we had to get back in order to leave before traffic got bad. thankfully there wansnt too much traffic. which made... possible for me to drive :-) despite a decent amount of time spent in left side driving countries, till today i had avoided getting behind the wheel. i was also a bit more nervous after watching the driving habits of kenyans for the last week. the clutch in my car back home is super easy so i was a little rough at first, but was smoother by the end. and those constant speed bumps dont make is any easier for a nervous american. but no problems and a nice little thrill

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ben Freakin Carroll and mutatus

as i got into beatrice's car today about to leave the city center my first thought was man, that was a looong day, im dead tired and will sleep well tonight. then i started thinking about all we did and how much ground we covered in a variety of ways, and realized what an amazing day i just had. i feel a hundred times more comfortable around the city now. what follows will describe that day. but first....

...if you are anything like me you probably have very little appreciation for the impact that one Benjamin Carroll made during his semester here two years ago. i have yet to meet somebody who did not immediately ask about ben, and that is not and exaggeration, literally every person has asked him. and about half of them have said i reminded them of ben because we looked similar. pastor humphrey told me today that i would be little ben as far as he was concerned. and i havent even got to west pokot yet, where edward tells me they love ben more than anywhere. pretty impressive buddy

so today was our introduction into the world of mutatus. we rode to the city center with beatrice, and then met grace there in order to take a mutatu to the church. after the first 3 mutatus going on our route were full, we finally got on one with a little shouldering for position. we went to one of the oldest post test and counseling (ptc) groups in kawangware, a slum fairly close to pastor edwards house. in kawangware next week there is training for 35 more people who will be joining ptc groups. while learning some of the bead work which they do, grace and sylvia had a meeting with some of the members from that group planning for next weeks training. i made 3 different types of necklaces. while i have added more art to my resume in the last year that ever before (wai), today probably topped my crafts experience for my lifetime. i really enjoyed learning what i did today, and look forward to picking up many more skills in the ptc groups throughout this fall.

they served us tea with lots of sugar, sandwiches, and mandazi. mandazi is otherwise know to anybody who has been to new orleans as a beignet. i could be wrong, but i think this made sarahs day up to this point

we returned to the church via mutatus, but not before absolom bought sarah some grilled maize on the cob from a street vendor. it was surprisingly good, kinda like the half popped kernels in a bag of popcorn with some kind of hot spice sprinkled on.

i really enjoyed riding on the mutatus. it would be conservative to say a near accident occured about every 2 minutes involving the current van i was in. because the speeds werent fast enough to kill, it was kind of thrilling/entertaining to see how bad the driving was. however, if it was not for grace and sylvia helping us navigate, and by helping i mean steering us around like animals on a leash, it would be very scary to try to get where we wanted to go. the numbers on the vans tell what route they go on, however just because two vans have the same number does not necessarily mean they will go the same place. they are always yelling out in swahili, but i obviously dont know what they say. it would also be easy for them to rip us off if we werent with friends because i have no idea what certain rides should cost, nor can i tell what price they announce. im sure i will have plenty more experience with mutatus in the coming days and months.

we met a friend of sarahs from her trip here two years ago in the city center a bit before we had to meet beatrice for our ride home. his name is joseph and he is as enjoyable and funny as i was led to believe. he works for cisco, a program that works with street kids in the slum which he lives in, as well as preaching at a local church sometimes, and some music activities. we talked about going on saturday to work with him, i hope it works out. this is probably what was the actual best part of the day for sarah, even better than beignets. to get sarahs perspective on this whole africa thing, if you dont already, go here.

at dinner tonight rene was here again so we got to talk about south africa a lot. i forgot how much i loved that place and how fast i want to get back. speaking of south africa-best place ever- cape point.

i forgot my camera again today, but hopefully i can correct that tomorrow.

im tired, goodnight

Sunday, September 6, 2009

baylor football and amahoro

saturday was a very long day

we had the day off, and went to the local club for a bit where jean was having her birthday party. we lunch at java house on the way back and turned andrew off milkshakes for life. following a much needed nap the planning board amahoro africa all came over to the house for dinner.

after dinner everybody sat around the living room and gave a short explanation of where they are from and how they became involved with amahoro. amahoro means peace, and its intention is to connect people all over the continent of africa who are working to improve life. many of the people here last night said that it gave them hope knowing that there were many others working on the same things, and with the same goal as they were doing. the continental meeting for amahoro will be taking place in nairobi next may, and this weekend of meetings was the main planning session.

when we were talking in smaller groups later in the night i talked to kelly a lot. she lives in burundi and works with the poorest tribe in the country, which is the third poorest country in the world. this tribe had previously had no land, and were looked down down upon socially. kelly and her husband have partnered with a church from texas in their work with this tribe, and the progress they have made in the past few months is incredible. they have done all the work themselves in the building of permanent homes, bathrooms, and beginning to farm for sustenance as well as for cash crops to sell. these 28 families have built 15 permanent bathrooms, all their temporary housing, and a lot of their permanent housing just since june when they got the land on which they will now live. i found the work ethic and energy which the whole community has thrown itself into the project to be amazing.

then everybody left and baylor football took center stage.

i was able to listen to the game with no problem on the baylor athletics website. it started as good as possible, went pretty well for the whole game, and then almost ended me at the end. now that i think of it, the near meltdown at the end may be sarah's fault because the decided the game was in good control and went to bed. only about 3 minutes later to get back up after i informed her that it was a 3 point game and the momentum was against us. not really. a win in a game like this just gives me more hope that i will return for a baylor bowl game in december. it better not be false hope this year.

this morning we went to church at city harvest. it was 4 plus hours long, which is a bit different than what i am used to, and a different style, but it was good. i really liked the singing. we talked to wiki after the service about learning the swahili songs, so that should be good.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Sarah!!

its the end of our second full day in nariobi today, and the last two days have been good, although i have pretty much sleep walked through them. anytime i sat still today i was almost falling asleep.

we spent much of the day yesterday going all over nairobi in search of an apple charger for sarahs phone. her original charger hid in her car back in new orleans. on the way back sarah and i got dropped off at the nakumat. it legitimately has everything. we ate dinner with the family that night and another visitor arrived right at dinner to stay the night and have some meetings the next day. she was from south africa so of course i was happy to have a little talk about capetown.

today we went to city harvest with edward in the morning. we got up at 630, and by about 8 i was pretty tired...dang jet lag. we attended the morning prayer meeting with the staff, sarah played computer wiz and set up edwards computer that was screwed up, and then we went out to see a couple of the church's programs. we first went to the hair styling and beauty school in a slum called southbee (probably wrong spelling but thats what it sounded like). we met some of the girls in school there and the teachers. we also hung out in alex, wiki, and kevin's room for a while. they live right by the beauty school. after that we went to the vct (voluntary counciling and testing)center. this is where they have HIV testing and counseling. next week they are going into kibera to make testing more accessible and i think we will probably be going with them.

andrew and jean are a ton of fun and have been keeping us entertained constantly. the difference between a 9 yr old boy (andrew) entertaining visitors, and an 8 yr old girl (mia) is not surprising, but i still find it amusing. one is jumping over stack of backpacks and chairs, while the other is putting on singing and dancing performances.

and tomorrow baylor begins their football season!! i will either be listening to the game online, or watching it via (fingers crossed it works out)

and aint technology great, we had an hour long skype with ben carroll today, just blissful.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

kenyan morning song birds

i awoke just a few minutes ago to lots of morning birds singing. its not yet dawn, about 6am right now, but still dark. i guess i didnt get much sleep, but that was a great way to wake up on my first morning here.

im sitting alone in the downstairs living room cause i beat everybody else up, ideally i would be sleeping for a lot longer, but i feel wide awake right now so that doesnt matter.

i forgot to mention last night that nairobi is currently under electricity rationing. we will not get electricity on monday, wednesday, and friday during the days. thankfully its thursday so we get a day to adjust.

our day today will probably consist of getting a new apple computer charger, a frame, and whatever else it turns out we need at the supermarket. i forgot its name. interspersed with that will probably be me hitting a wall of tiredness about 3 times throughout the day.

one thing i left out yesterday was how much better my layover in london was with sarah being there than being by myself like i have always been in the past. so that was great even though the seats changed on us again once we got on the flight.

the internet here is really good...which means i will be listening to baylor football games!! and skyping will definitely work so if you have one then talk to me.

at the moment i am skyping with brett. he is in cairo. it is about 630 in kenya, 530 in cairo. i am already awake and brett is about to go to sleep after being up all night. this is so awesome! it sounds like he is having an amazing time. its ridiculous, he needs to start a blog...

i met the cook at pastor edwards house, her name is susie. she has the morning breakfast table set up with tea cups and cereal.

apparently the roads arent as bad as they used to be to the pokot tribe. it might only be 6 or 7 hours now and not nearly as bumpy.

i am loving everything in life at the moment so much right now. things went great arriving here and it is just blissful talking to by brother in egypt right now and hearing all his unique stories already.

arrived in kenya

well first of all, im here!

as for the previous 30 hours before arriving at edward's house...they had their ups and downs much more than my normal international trips. right at the start of my flight from dallas, i had about 4 annoying/frustrating things occur which just added up and had me fairly annoyed. they were- bank of america's slow phone service after not working for two days, my leaving my newly bought Freakonomics book at the airport, and sarah and my seating plans not working. but after i got calmed down from that buildup the flights werent too bad. i didnt have anybody sitting next to me so i was never cramped.

i think i caught about 10 minutes of sleep on the flight to london ha. so 3 movies, 2 tv episodes, and one rugby game got me through the flight. our layover in london was pretty good, just 3 hours, so it never felt like we were there for way too long. i actually slept a bit on the second flight which was a nice change.

arriving in nairobi ariport was very smooth and laid back. one of the guys there showed us where a shorter line was to get our visas. we met victor right outside and he drove us to pastor edwards house. he is a driver for city harvest. we have spent the time at edwards talking about some of the church's plans, and friends back in waco.

no water, but whats another day without a shower given my recent pace. andrew, edwards son, is intently watching the emperors new groove, actually i think it is the emperors new groove 2 by this time. there are mosquito nets for the beds, however theres no malaria risk in nairobi, but they still are annoying.

if i think of anything more ill add it