I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Amen. Mark 2:10b - 11
Merry Christmas to all my family and friends!
This holiday was filled with lots of friends and fabulous food. After working a half day (because they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here), I went home, prepared my part of the Thanksgiving meal (salad with the fixings) and headed over to the Bussell's residence. This is a family from school, but they are actually from
The following day (Friday), we also had off from school. So, we took the opportunity to travel to a place about 45 minutes out of the city, called Paradise Lost. This was a beautiful recreational area where we went on a few hikes, ventured in some caves, swung from some overhanging vines, went for a boat ride, and had a picnic lunch.
This last month, I have been working together with an organization called Christian Mission Aid, on a community outreach fundraiser. Our goal was to collect 150 food buckets, from
Thursday, November 20th, I took the eleventh grade class and a few staff members into Mitumba to deliver these buckets. When we arrived, after one set back of getting the bus stuck in the mud, we were welcomed by many open arms. The students had prepared a presentation for us with singing, awards, and words of appreciation. We were loved on, that is for sure. It is hard to put into words how my heart was blessed by this event. I think I could speak for us all. Later we played games with these 270 students. Who knew a tire had more than one use?
The view was spectacular. Just like the Pacific, there was fine white sand (minus the dried out seaweed), blueish-green ocean water, unique tropical plants, and the smell of fresh salty water. It wasn’t long before my shoes were off and my feet were in the soft sand. I approached the water, preparing myself for a shocking cold. To my surprise, it was a pleasant temperature.
The manager eventually showed up and found a place for us to stay down the street. It wasn’t quite as nice as our original location, but still a site to see. Because of the last minute changes, all eight of us teachers crammed into a two bedroom place, where we fixed our own meals, played some competitive card games, and rested from the long journey the night before. Most of our time was spent around the pool, sipping on coconuts and enjoying the slow pace of our weekend.
The location even included our very own family of monkeys. These guys were an active bunch, swinging from tree to tree, only stopping for a bite to eat. I finally had to leave them alone when they started to use me as a tree.
I would have to say, there were two highlights from this trip. The first was a camel ride down the beach and the second, an exploration through the deep waters, with a snorkeling mask. I saw some fascinating creatures. I only wish I could have captured them all on camera. Sunday night we started our journey back home. Another 8 hours on the bus and no sleep. Thankfully, Monday was a holiday, so I slept the day away. It was a fabulous weekend.
Pictured: Jen, Brenton, Jonathan, Kate, Joel, Steven, Becca, Amy
So what can I update you on? It has been a little while since I’ve checked in. Still no car, but we have been looking under the hood of quite a few lately. Needless to say this has been a frustrating process. I am grateful though to Joel and Jonathan (WNS teachers), who have been picking up Julie (my roommate) and I, each and every day to go into work. Even Saturdays, which are game days for elementary soccer. Pictured: Jen (salsa partner), me, Julie
I have conquered my goal of learning to drive here and feeling comfortable behind the wheel. It is not like home, where we have set traffic laws and people obey them for the most part. In
A local Chinese restaurant called "Four You", has become a frequent favorite for those of us on the WNS staff. Last Friday night, a group of us, after a high school basketball game, sat through 1 ½ hours of stop and go traffic to eat at this favorite cuisine. While immersed in our dinner conversation the electricity goes out. Not a problem, the waiter just brings over a kerosene lamp. Well… while we thought this was a great idea it quickly turned into ciaos. So let me set the scene. We are sitting at a nice outside umbrella covered table, we have a Jiko (a small camp stove) nearby to keep us warm, great food, alternative light now to see our food, but not everyone agreed that it was light enough. So, Joel volunteered to start messing with the lantern, trying to turn it up. A few minuets later the lantern was engulfed in flames, people running in every direction. When the waiter realized what was going on, he came by and threw a towel over the lantern, then carried it away. Never a dull moment with this crowd. And when will I get over these minor things, like the electricity going out?
So, I mentioned how dusty it was. Driving into the park, we had to take a dirt road for 4 kilometers. As we continued to drive, I became aware that it was getting difficult to see. At first, I thought the engine was producing smoke, but then I quickly realized, it was dust coming up through the floorboards and open air vents. Jen, our driver, was a trooper. There were times where it was hard to see the road. We made it to our destination safe though. We got out of the car, brushed ourselves off, and continued on. Part way through our climb, Jen looks over and says “Amy, you have something in your teeth." Sure enough, what do think it was? A thick layer of dirt. Grouse I know.
And I can’t forget… Have you ever had to wait for a herd of cattle to cross the street, or maybe a stray dog? Well me too, but what about a herd of zebras. I still can’t believe this story and I was there. While these zebras were crossing the main road, I was in such an ooh and awe state that I forgot I had a camera in hand. The occasion would have made for some great pics. Oh well, maybe next time.
Intramural soccer started Thursday. Lots of preparation, but the season is finally here. Paper work, charts, sign ups, phone calls, teams, coaches, trips to the store, equipment, field prep, and wow I am exhausted. Our first practice lasted for an hour after school. Forty- six students in all, first through sixth grade. I was impressed with how many kids signed up. Soccer, or should I say “Football”, is a very popular sport here. My goal during this first practice was to teach basic drills and avoid what I call the “bee hive” during our scrimmage. All students like flock around the ball. Positions are hard to maintain for younger players, so I found out. I can honestly say we all tried our best. Good times!
Immediately following practice, it was off to the activity bus for yet another adventure. Being the adult in charge, I felt responsible to make sure, on the first day that everyone got off at the right stops. So… I hopped on the bus and we set off for home. It brought back memories of my elementary bus days, the only difference being the roads. The paved roads here are not exactly what you would call level. Kids bounced around like crazy. They actually have to wear seat belts here, this being one of the reasons. The good news we didn’t loose anyone.
Two days later we scored through our first games. In the end, I would call it a success, but I was holding my breath through the beginning. After fifteen minuets of warm-up, kids were ready to play, but I only had a little over half my players and two of my nine coaches. What to do? I grabbed parents from the sidelines, gave them a whistle, some rules, and off they went. I should have known better to factor in Kenyan time (show up later than planned). Despite our rough start, we all had a lot of fun. It was a beautiful day to be outside.
One of these slums I got to visit. It is called Mitumba. There are an estimated 200 students who attend the school there, Kindergarten - 8th grade. This is comparatively a smaller slum than most. Therefore, Mitumba does not have any large sponsors like Compassion International or World Vision. We will be working with Christian Mission Aid to help where we can.
It was an overwhelming rush of emotions upon our arrival. Excitement, devastation, burdensome, contentness, joyfulness, sadness, the list goes on. I was in awe to meet these kids, to see what life was like for them. Before Jonathan (another WNS teacher) and I could get out of the car, we had kids grabbing our hands and trying to get in as close as they could. I guess it didn’t matter who we were as long as we were there to love on them. It had rained earlier that day, so wearing rubber boots was a must. Mud and sewage made the ground hard to walk on.
People in Mitumba live in 8x10 shacks made from scraps of metal. The school walls were decorated with homemade charts and the floors consisted of dirt and mud. I met the pastor who also welcomed us with open arms. This man has a gigantic heart. He walked us around to each classroom, where we were greeted with beautiful smiles and a song the students sung. I am hoping to go back and teach on Thursday afternoons.
This last weekend was our staff retreat and my first attempt to get out of the city. Everyone and their families were invited to come. We had a great time relaxing and getting to know one another. All it took was one bumpy bus ride to get there. I think I inhaled more dust than I ever have before. But it was worth it!
Lukenya, the beautiful place where we stayed, is a resort located roughly an hour outside the city of
zebras, wildebeests, gazelles, and some unique birds. So fun! I think this has been my most adventurous thing yet. Sorry Chris, still no hippos.