Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wishing you a Merry Christmas

Despite the fact that I will not be home this year to help you celebrate this holiday season, I am wishing you all a very Merry Christmas. I pray that your time off from work or school is a restful occasion for both you and your families. For those of you who are traveling, I pray that you make it to and from your destination safely. In my desperate attempt to make December, the hot season here, feel like the holidays back home, I have been listening to Christmas songs and watching Christmas movies like crazy. It was Charlie Brown this morning that reminded me, whether I am here or there, the one true reason for Christmas does not change.

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!

Kikuyu Tribal Wedding

My first attendance at a traditional African wedding was fairly eventful. I can't say that I knew the bride and groom prior to going, but that won't surprise some of you at home. At least those of you who know how many weddings I've been to over the years. This one was altogether different though. I fit right in, don't you think?

The wedding was suppose to start at 10 am, but considering Africa time, it didn't actually begin until 12:30 pm. We had to pass the time somehow, so I began looking through a local newspaper. I came across the advertisement section and here is what I found... (click on image to the left)

I think I meet the qualifications, going to give him a call on Monday. Smile.

I traveled to the wedding with a family from our school, who actually knew the bride and groom. Being that they have lived in Africa a few years now, they were able to inform me of the process in purchasing a bride. The engagement period for a couple, about to get married, is significantly long. Basically, it lasts until the groom's family can pay the dowry. Grace, the bride pictured here, was supposedly purchased with 90 goats. How they come up with this number, I have no idea.

The morning of the wedding, it is tradition for the women in the groom's family to go and collect the bride and bring her to the church. At this point, she can no longer return to her own family. There is a lot of singing, chanting, and drum playing involved in this process. Culturally, everything on this day is meant to make the bride feel welcome into her new family. The service and reception were fairly typical to something you would see and experience in the states.

A Kenyan meal, served at the wedding reception.

To learn more about the Kikuyu tribe check out...

Feed the Children

Dagoretti is a childrens home, located on the south end of Nairobi city limits. It is an organization, funded by "Feed the Children," which exists to provide housing and schooling for low income families and abandoned children from the ages of 0 - 16 years old. For more information about this project you may visit ...

My fourth grade class, 4 staff members, and myself were blessed with the opportunity to work with Dagoretti children this last Thursday, December 18th. We spent an afternoon creating some Chritmas art, reading books, and playing a little b-ball and soccer with those who will spend their holidays away from family.

It is my goal, serving as Community Development Coordinator at WNS, that students, such as those that came with me this last week, will open their eyes to an outward giving perspective. That they recognize what kind of a difference they can make, by giving up a few short hours and investing in the lives of those who are less fortunate. I was very proud of my students for the way they interacted with these precious kidos.

Please be praying for the Dagoretti Children's Center and our future interactions with this organization. When we return from Christmas break, I will hopefully be taking various WNS classes to visit Dagoretti 3 times a month.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What does one eat in Africa?

Nipe orodha ya vyakula? May I please have the menu?

samosas, chapatti (tortillas), Kenya stew, all kinds of different fish, chips(fries), lots of fruits and veggies, rice, chicken or beef tacos, pizza, salsa, soup and crackers, salad, eggs and toast, ughali, sukumawiki (cooked cabbage), goat, beans, mokimo (green mashed potatoes)...

There is a wide variety of cultural places to eat out, including my favorite Chinese restaurant, Four You. The key is to choose wisely, so that you don't spend the evening over the toilet.

Cooking is a time consuming process here. Everything is made by scratch. All fruits and vegetables are washed prior to eating, in a safe chemical we buy at the chemist or drug store. We soak everything for about 2o minutes and then slice and dice. Typically groceries are purchased from a local grocery store or a duka on the side of the street. Food is also expensive.

It is recommended that every six months you de-worm yourself. The process is fairly simple. You take two tablets with some (filtered) water, and supposedly this cleans out any unwanted intruders. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to think of how many worms I DID have in me.

Turkey Day

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 California as well. We played a few games with everyone that was there, and then went around the room taking turns to say what we were thankful for this last year. It was hard to think of just one. Dinner was next. We all gobbled down what you might call close to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, there was turkey, which is hard to come by here. Along with stuffing, a green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, rolls, and a homemade pumpkin pie. While it was all very good, I have to admit, it didn’t come close in comparison to my mom’s cooking. Later that night at home, I got to talk with the fam. We use a Skype webcam to talk which makes our calls a bit more personal. It made my day to see their faces and catch up with what things are going on at home. I miss you guys!

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.