Tuesday, April 28, 2009
so, I managed yet again to fit a ridiculous number of things into a very (seemingly) small space. today I'm visiting the land again, visiting another friend, and then heading to the airport.
after thirty six very long hours I will reach Oregon and once I've recovered I'll be posting pictures on this here blog. I apologise for the recent boringness of my posts.
I hope you all are well!
Monday, April 27, 2009
I enter a friend's home, I take off my shoes, I sit on the couch, chair, whatever. I shake hands with everyone, I accept a cup of tea, and I either talk, or listen, depending on the dominant language. I stay until it's time to leave and then I move on to the next house. and repeat. and repeat again.
some of my friends speak Luo, Swahili and English fluently. any two of the three and we're golden- I can get by. but the ones who only speak Luo- well, gestures help, and I know a few key phrases. sometimes the children translate. sometimes we just sit in silence.
I honestly think I could make a living of visiting friends. just going from house to house, giving and receiving stories, drinking tea, taking pictures, praying together (in any language).
from Mbita I took a ferry, bus, van and taxi (note that the vehicles got progressively smaller as I got closer to Eldoret) and then I was at the home of the Ollimo family. I taught with and roomed with Gladys in 2004 and it feels like we've lost no time since then. I had a lovely weekend with them. then it was time for a looooooooong bus ride back to Nairobi. and here I am.
I wanted to upload pictures of my trip, but the internet connection is too slow. I'll post some soon. I'm sure you all are interested in seeing all 89000 pictures I've taken in the past few weeks.
peace to all...
Monday, April 20, 2009
Though I always return from Kenya with a few souvenirs and a million pictures, the thing I have begun to collect with enthusiasm is stories. Not to be used to raise funds, not to be placed in the center of a bleeding heart slideshow (though it happens), but to teach, to learn, to remember.
I sat today in a small café with my friend Christine, who makes jewelry and other things for us to sell to raise money. She told me about her niece, who has lost both parents to AIDS. The niece now stays with a relative, or maybe a neighbour- the details are fuzzy. But what Christine knows is that her niece needs an education and a place to stay. She needs, above all, an advocate. As we sipped on our mango juice she told me, ‘these are the kids you will be teaching. You need to hear their stories and understand their lives. I will take you there. You will see.’
These stories are innumerable. The names and details change but the bottom line is always, always HIV. Always, always a child left behind to face this world alone.
It is hard for me to find a balance between telling these stories as a means to an end (the end being a successful non profit which is funded in the US and operating in Kenya) and as a means to…to…a beginning.
I do not want to meet these children, visit their homes, take their pictures and drink their chai in order to bring their stories back to the States for sponsorship. That I will do this eventually is inevitable, but it is not my main motivation. Hearing their stories is what makes me love Kenya. It makes me understand and it makes me want to scream and cry and it makes me want to never leave. It is these children who grab my heart, my hands, my senses- they are captivating.
It is these stories that I must learn to carry home. The eyes and the smiles and the stories. These stories make me anxious, desperate- I will do anything and everything I can to raise the money to build a classroom to provide these children with a future which is better than the ones they have now. (hint.)
I will be spending the next six days traveling the country; from Nairobi to Mbita to Eldoret and back to Nairobi. I will come back here Sunday evening, doubtless with more stories and pictures and words.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
anyway, not a lot to report, but I just wanted to let everyone know that things are going well! I have been visiting people, collecting stories and ideas, taking pictures, and having a good time in general.
I hope you all are well.
Friday, April 10, 2009
problem: I didn't bring my computer/cd player/I don't have an ipod, so I'm stuck with whatever song I most recently hear playing on repeat in my head until I hear another song.
today's playlist: Bob Marley mix, whichever boy band sang 'Quit Playing Games with My Heart' (complete with a music video, thank you modern bus system), and, because of the book I just read, the entire soundtrack of 'Wicked'.
for Leigh: I just finished The Secret Life of Bees and Wicked, and now I'm reading Walden, Alice in Wonderland, and the gospel of Matthew. : ) you?
for Dixon: yes, I remember the things I'm here to do. I promise.
for the rest of you: it is hard for me to articulate the things I'm thinking and feeling and seeing. I learn more about Kenyan culture every day that I'm here (I counted and am 95% sure this is my 8th trip to Kenya). I'm not sure if I'll ever be fully assimilated. there are so many American things I miss. but when I'm in the States there are so many Kenyan things I miss.
but this is not the point.
the more I see of Nairobi's 'generation x', the more concerned I am for the future of this beautiful country. I've watched and listened and learned enough to be thoroughly confused.
they say they want peace, but their lives suggest otherwise. they are lured into the glamour of a flashy thug-esque lifestyle. they wear shirts stating 'Soldier Boy' and they promise violent ends to anyone who crosses them.
...okay, obviously not everyone. but enough. yesterday on the bus I sat next to a boy who was chewing leaves and seeds of some sort- I have no idea what they were called, but I know they are a drug of some kind. I see bus drivers chew them to stay awake. I see them sniff glue. I see them walk home drunk. the women? the women are working.
what hope is there for their kids, who no doubt never see their fathers? what hope do they have of a brighter future than this one? the rich look past the poor; they keep walking. people are still talking about the disputed election results and ensuing violence from 16 months ago. they vow 'never again' and in the same breath they blame a certain tribe, a certain group of people, for the problems. the same tribe they shop with, eat with, work with, sit next to every day.
how can we move past this? Nairobi is moving too quickly from the traditional African way of life which still permeate the villages to the fast-paced, materialistic culture of the Western cultures. they want things they cannot yet have and their actions rarely match up to their words.
in Susan's living room hangs a large wall painting declaring 'faith, hope, love'. these are words I've heard countless times. I have a necklace with says 'faith'. it is one of my gifts, I think. people continually tell me they are 'impressed' by the amount of faith it takes to do what I'm doing. (wrong, I tell them: stubbornness is not the same as faith.) faith comes easily for me, I guess.
but hope? can I hope in the future of Kenya? can I believe that we will find the right people to work for Visible Grace? that we will find parents who will raise up Godly children? that these children will be able to avoid the pressure to conform to the foolish action of their peers?
dare I hope that they really will make a difference in their nation?
I have to.
we have the faith to hope in love. this has become my mantra.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
today Susan and I visited our land! I cannot even put into words how excited I am about everything. (in case you couldn't tell from the huge grins on our faces). it's gorgeous. there's a fence going all the way around, and a cabin for our caretaker, and a bathroom/shower for him.
we spent some time walking all the way around the land (I took
about a million pictures). then we walked to the store and bought meat and flour, which I carried on my head like a good Luo. : )
we made lunch with our caretaker (it smelled like camping) and then headed home.
I wore sunscreen like a good girl, and we sat in the shade for most of the time, but I still got a really odd sunburn. lines on my arms and a triangle on each foot. go figure.
I have a loooooot more pictures, but at the rate of uploading one picture every four hours, I'm calling it a night.
I know it doesn't look that impressive from these pictures. but it is so exciting to see a building. a fence. beacons. the caretaker spends his days chopping up the smaller bushes (leaving the trees), and Susan's nephews (my little brothers) have been picking seeds (I don't know the name of them in English) and on Saturday we will bring them to the land. we're going to dry them and then, when it rains, plant them around the perimeter so we can build up a shrubbery fence. it will look really nice, I think.
all this to say, I am THRILLED about the land. I just wish we had the money to start building. (on that note- rather than spend a lot of money on a well- money we don't even have now- we are paying our neighbour and using his water.)
I'm having some trouble with Twitter. when I update from my phone, it's supposed to post on facebook, on my twitter site, on the left side of this blog, and to people's phones. it says I'm sending them but so far they haven't shown up on the blog or on facebook. (not sure if they're going to people's phones...anyone?)
anyway...I have been updating a couple times today (like I texted from the land today and said I was standing on Visible Grace soil!). so, if you're not getting the updates, I'm very sorry.
I hope you all are doing well. praise God for his faithfulness. I'm encouraged.
Monday, April 6, 2009
I was thinking how lovely it was to be in Susan's new apartment, with running water and a computer AND INTERNET.
then I was thinking, I shall go to the bathroom (did I mention indoor plumbing?) and then write a little something on my blog.
then while I was going to the bathroom the power went out.
then while I was looking for matches the power came back on.
then it took me twenty minutes to connect to the internet and now I have nothing left to blog about except how long it took to get to my blog.