Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday 23rd update

In Kenya, you must be flexible... because everything changes at the blink of an eye!

I was unable to go to the park with the kids because I guess there was a headcount done a while ago and there was no room to fit one more person. So instead, I went into the city with Jacob and his friend Boiz. We ran a few errands and went to the Masaii Market. I'm pretty sure I got a decent deal on some banana leaf pictures. I also got a bag for the non-white person price. So I felt accomplished.

I was supposed to hang out with Cat and her family today, but unfortunately, Cat has classes today. She's working on her masters in business admin while working full time at the airport. She just started classes this past monday so she didn't know what her schedule was going to be.

So here I am in cyberland on a Saturday. I am going to list some random things I've noticed about Kenya:

-There are no traffic laws, everyone goes when they want. Stoplights are only suggestions.
-Kenyans do not yell for someone... they go find them.
-Kenyans talk verrry softly... almost like a whisper... so make sure you have a hearing aid if you're hard of hearing
-Walk like you know where you're going and no one bothers you
-The toilet handles are on the right side... arent toilet handles in america on the left?
-People hug each other on the right side and then the left... i'm still failing at that and almost kissing people
-don't be quick to judge people... your initial assumption is a cultural miscommunication
-everyone LOVES Barack Obama... you see a picture of him everywhere and you'd almost think that he's the president here
-Kenyans listen to Reggae, R&B, Rap, and Gospel... you will hear a variety of 70's, 80's and 90's music.
-People don't sit around adn feel sorry for themselves... they make do the best that they can.
-The children in the slums are no different than kids in the U.S.... they don't know how bad they live because they don't know it any different.
-Kenyans like their food bland... i've surprisingly grown to love cooked cabbage... its an aquired taste! The one thing that I'm looking forward to is a mocha from Starbucks (which luckily there is one in London) and a burger with cheese fries from Meat Heads. I also miss Mexican food. But to be honest, the food isn't too bad. I'm used to eating a lot of rice already, so eating it all the time is no big deal. They also have chips (french fries), so I'm not totally starved for American food...but its just different tasting.

I'm told that London increased their security measures with all flights heading to the U.S. They seemed pretty tight with security when my team went through there at the end of December. I tried looking at the London Heathrow website, but I didn't see much on there besides suggestions for traveling with less baggage.

Well, that's all I got... I'm assuming this is the last blog, but with Kenyan time, everything changes haha.

Goodbye for now!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Update from Friday, the 22nd

Today is Friday... the trip is slowly coming to a close.... sadly :(

I recovered from the bug that I had without having to go to the doctor. Shadrack's rest remedy proved to work well. The next day I was feeling back to normal again. Its strange how your body acts when it lacks rest. With doing the medical clinic and then working at the school, I guess my body just kind of glitched. How strange! I'm just glad that its over with because I was seriously worried. Even if it was Malaria, its almost as common as getting a cold, so people don't really freak out about it.

The past week I've been going to the REM school and teaching creative arts to the kids. There was one class that began cheering when I came into the room. All of the kids are great. I wish I could smuggle them into the states with me. Some are small enough to fit in my carry-on. It's kind of weird seeing the kids be so small. Most are that way from malnourishment or from just having HIV. The kindergartners look like they are 3 yrs old. The pre-K kids look like walking babies.

Tomorrow, I'm going to a big park with the kids from the orphanage (they call it the children's home). I'm told that there is a waterfall and boats that you can ride on. It sounds like a lot of fun. During the evening, I'm going to hang out with Cat's family again. I'm not sure what they have in store for me, but I'm sure it will be fun. Cat told me that her family loved me when I visited last Sunday. They are all really funny.

Sunday I'll be going to church and then hanging out with teacher Edwin. We will hopefully go to a market and pick up some last minute souvenirs before my plane leaves monday evening.

I unfortunately was not able to go to Gong to see the land that Pastor Shadrack had picked out. Apparently the owner of the land is now unwilling to show it to Shadrack. I guess that the land process takes a long time because you normally form a friendship with the owner. Shadrack said that the owners will not negotiate a price unless you have cash in its hard to tell how low an owner will go without having something for a down payment. Shadrack says that land in Nairobi is like gold and is very expensive. Now with the economy, the price of land will rise every year and that is why Shadrack wants to move quickly and buy some land. I gave Shadrack those land questions but I'm assuming that he wont get it back until the last minute. I'm also not sure how much he can fill out now that this land fell through. Shadrack says that he will now have to start the process again of finding land. He not only wants land for a building but also for a missionary dorm, and also land to have animals so that the secondary school will be self-sustaining. It sounds good, but I wonder if 4 acres of land could provide for all of those needs?

I'm assuming that its okay to tell Shadrack about where the remaining team money will go, but I'll just tell him I wont have a definite amount until the end of the trip. The GOYA board decided that the money will go toward fixing a leak in the orphanage and also fixing a leak in the 8th grade building. All remaining money will go toward the payment of the construction crew for building the 8th grade classroom.

I just looked at the weather forecast for London on looks cold! April left me hand and toe warmers so I'm probably going to be putting those to good use while I'm there. I'll probably need to get a hat and gloves while I'm in London since I didn't pack a winter coat...just a fleece zip-up. I only have 6 hours this time in London so I'm just going to see the Tower of London Bridge and then go to the infamous store called Harrods. I figure I can waste as much time as I want inside Harrods.

I'm pretty sure that I wont be able to blog anymore, so this might be my last blog from Kenya. Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers! I heard about Haiti, they play CNN here. It looks devastating.

Mom and Dad: I hope grandma is recovering well. Dad, I hope the MRI goes well. I'll see if I can talk to Peter the driver about Safaris... he has his own travel company. See you on Tuesday!


Monday, January 18, 2010


Here are some recaps as to what I have been doing... but unfortunately, my days have been running together... so I'll just summarize it.

I was able to visit almost all of the teachers' homes who live in Kibera... the 2nd largest slum in the world. Kibera is like its own city... sans paved roads. There are 2 million people living there. Unfortunately, I don't have any pics of it inside since I don't want to get my camera stolen. It's already bad enough walking there and being a white girl. I'm told that there are some white people that live there, but they are considered hard core. Kibera is actually much nicer than Mitumba.

The one thing that I've been lacking is faith that the same God who I know and have a relationship, also lives here in the slums of Kenya. One of the teachers prayed for me inside one of the homes and all we had was candlelight. Regardless of where I was, God showed up. I felt extremely comforted knowing that God not only takes care of me, but also these people.

I was able to meet up with Laurie's friend. Laurie and I went to school together. Laurie has been in Kenya twice and met Cat's family at a church she was serving in. I was able to meet Cat and her family yesterday. Her entire family works at the airport in the cargo section. They want me to visit again this Saturday. I got to eat dinner with her family... we watched a tv show called "Sakata"-- which is similar to America's "So you think you can dance?" program. It was very interesting to see Kenya's different dancing style. Their style is mostly foot stomping/tapping. I also helped invent a new dance called the Mosquito Dance. All you do is clap your hands alot in hopes of killing a mosquito.

For the past 3 days or so, I've been feeling very sick. Every night, I'll go to bed with a fever, chills, and achyness. I took anti-malaria tablets when we had the medical clinic about 2 weeks ago for future prevention. I'm currently taking paracetimol...which is Kenya's version of Tylenol. It may be malaria, but there's no point in taking more anti-malaria tablets, if I've already had it. Pastor Shadrack said he had the same thing last week and it was just fatigue, so he ordered me to take a day off today and rest up and see how i'm feeling tomorrow. If I'm still the same, then we will go to the doctor.

Shadrack plans to take me to Gong on Wednesday to take a look at the land for GOYA. I'm not sure what questions Jim tackled and I'm pretty sure that Jim took those questions back to the U.S.

It's getting really difficult knowing that I'm going to leave here in a week. I'm already depressed about it.

P.S. Mom and Dad: GOYA will be picking me up from the airport on tuesday, the 26th, but I will need to be picked up from the cybernautics studio in Normal. I think it will be later in the evening... around 8 or 9? Regardless, I'll call you once I get into the states.

Pray for my immune system and protection!


Last team day update

Sorry Folks!

I forgot to mention that on our last team day, that we went to a baby elephant orphanage and we also went to a giraffe place where you get to feed them.

The baby elephants were taken from the wild. Their mothers either abandoned them or were killed from predators, or starvation. The babies are then revived back to full health in the orphanage and then they are released back into the wild when they are old enough to live on their own. They are usually taken to a national park to roam free.

After that, we went to a giraffe feeding place. They had 9 giraffes, but only one came up to us for the feeding. We stood on a tall deck so that we were eye to eye with Laura the giraffe. I got a picture hugging her... but unfortunately I can't upload photos until I get back to the states.

After that, our team went to Mitumba to say their goodbyes to the children and teachers.

We went back to the YMCA and I helped the team load their luggage into Peter's van. I said my goodbye to them as they drove to the airport. I later talked to April and she said that they had no troubles with their flights. Their flight pattern went from Nairobi to Paris to Chicago. They had time to see the Eiffel Tower... but unfortunately, they weren't able to go up it due to a routine maintenance.

They all made it home safely

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Update from the lone one

Well the team left the other day and I am here by myself... but technically I'm not on my own. The teachers from the school are walking me home every day and Kristin (from TX) will be staying at the YMCA with me Thursday night through Sunday night.

I'm assisting Kristin by teaching creative arts and also helping her in the school clinic-which is basically acting as the school nurse.

I talked to Pastor Shadrack, and I will be working on doing some type of womens ministry with some of the women living in Mitumba. I'm currently working on that.

I had a professor who graciously offered to extend my trip by an extra 6 days, but unfortunately, the charges for the flight would be $600 extra... so that wont work out. So I'll enjoy my final 2 weeks here.

I've been doing some praying and I feel like God is asking me to continue my Peacecorps application. I started it around October or so, and I'm feeling confirmation from him that doing that is my next step after my trip.

Please pray for my safety and protection while I'm here. These teachers are like my brothers and I feel incredibly safe when I'm with them. Also, Pray for the womens ministry.

Much love!
Dr. Stacy

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Safari Excursion

Yesterday (Thursday), our team had a break day and went to the Ambrosia National Park. For all you climbers/hikers, it is home to Mount Kilimanjaro. We took our new friend from Texas, Kristin, on the excursion with us... to give her a little break from the Kenyan life that she has been living for the past 7 months.

We traveled on many dirt roads...full of bumps, since Peter, our driver likes to drive like a true Kenyan (crazy). Unfortunately, there was road work on the paved road, so that's why we had to take a dirt road. Kenyans are great about being resourceful. Instead of paying thousands of dollars for road block barricades, they use trees and brush from the wilderness to block the road. We traveled into what is called Massai land. The Massai are a tribe that are herders. They wear colorful garments and live in poop/mud/stick huts. We saw many of these huts on our way to the park. The huts are clustered and have giant sticks/brush surrounding them to keep out the lions. It was really cool to see. If you get a chance, google Massai and see what comes up.

We were told that we see just as much wildlife on the way to the park, than just inside of the park. That makes since because the park is just the natural habitat, with miles upon miles of no civilization. Peter, our driver said that we can sometimes see Giraffe. I kept my eyes peeled since I know that my Aunt Lona would be upset if I missed one. I saw a baby giraffe off in the distance, but that was all that I saw.

For the first 5 hours, we didn't see much.... but then... we spotted a hippopotamus. After that, things looked up. It felt like we were in jurassic park. There was no civilization anywhere besides the random safari trucks we passed. The park has 4 lodges, but due to corruption, 3 of the lodges were shut down. We saw one of the lodges, it was a ghost town. Very errie. The wire fences were pushed through...probably by elephants. As we went past the gate... there, under a tree was a male lion, panting. A few yards in front of him was a freshly dead buffalo carcus. We snapped a few shots and went on our way to find right next to the road an entire herd of wild buffalo. Their horns were massive. Next we saw elephants in the distance. We tried taking some photos, but they were too far away. We next drove near many safari trucks pulled to the side. We were told there was a cheetah sitting under a tree. Unfortunately, I didn't see anything, but assumed it was there. A little farther from the cheetah was an entire clan of baboons. They were huge. Jim decided to coax a baboon over with a banana. I was fearful for my life, since I was told that last year, a baboon JUMPED into the car, grabbed all the food, and then jumped out. Luckily, the baboon took the banana Jim had and ate the entire thing in two bites. April has a lovely photo of it, looking like its about to attack us. We decided to turn around and saw a herd of gazelle-like antelope running... we only assumed that it was the cheetah about to attack them. Next, we went past another herd of elephants, but this time, they were much much closer to us, and decided to stop and eat lunch there. We got our first team photo of the entire GOYA trip in front of the elephants. As we started to head back toward the gate (which was a 45min drive), we stopped at a den of hyennas. There were two cubs and a mother off in the distance. Hyennas are massive... i would definitely fear for my life if I were on the ground near one.

As we stopped at the exit gate, Peter, our driver asked if we could take his friend to Nairobi with us. We didn't really have much of choice, and said sure. The man we were taking worked for the national park and so he was considered a Kenyan police officer. As we left the park, one of the Massai herders had a heard of giant camels. It was a really weird sight to see, so we stopped and snapped some pictures. The Massai man was NOT happy. And demanded that we pay him for every picture we took. (Side not, for some reason, the massai try to capitalize off of tourists and make them pay for a picture). Luckily, we had the Kenyan police officer who told him (in Kiswaili) that he should throw him in jail for trying to make us pay for a picture. The guy luckily backed off and we went on our way. A few miles further, we saw another camel herd and asked peter and the guy if we could take more pictures. They said yes, and yet again, the herder was mad. This time, this guy was even more upset than the first. I was afriad the guy was going to punch the police officer. Eventually we moved on.

The day was wonderful up until that point. It started to rain, and luckily it didn't rain until after we left the park. Peter was driving his usual crazy style, and then, we saw an entire herd of giraffes. We skidded to a stop, startling them, but they kept munching on the trees and we took pictures. Since it was raining, it was hard to snap photos. We moved on and it had stopped raining. We saw another herd of giraffes, probably 7 or so, and Paul jumped out of the car, only to scare them somewhat. We got pictures, but sadly, they weren't as close as we'd like for them to be. So Lona, I hope you can live vicariously through me and take comfort in knowing that wild giraffes do exist.

All in all, this trip was amazing. I felt like I stepped into a National Geographic episode on the discovery channel. What a great day!! I think that our team really bonded better with the clinic out of the way. We were all cheerful and happy to have done something like that.

Asking for Team Prayer

We come before each and everyone of you and ask for prayer. This trip has been very challenging for each and everyone of us. We (Jim, Paul, April, and Stacy) are each here for different reasons. Some are for self-satisfaction, some are for humanitarian reasons, some are for the purpose of God, some are for undetermined reasons. This has really put a damper on this "team." We have not been a team of 4. We have been teams of 2. They have changed throughout the time. Sometimes is it Jim and Paul, Jim and April, April and Stacy, April and Paul, etc. But concerning the "team" we have not been a team of 4-Jim, April, Paul, and Stacy. We want this and we discussed this at dinner the other night. We all found it sad that we had not had one group picture yet. For the first time in 10 days we got a "group" picture, yesterday.
We pray that you each pray that we come together and not stand divided. We don't want to be divided. We understand that God has a plan for each and everyone of us, some more than others! We want to also see what God wants from us as a team of 4 Mzungus...
We tell you each this to not be ridiculed or called failures as a team but rather with humble hearts to say we need God to show us His plan for the four of us.
We were very fortunate enough yesterday to have a free day and we went to the base of Mount Killmanjaro to Lake Ambrosia. We laughed, we told jokes, we were relaxed, and we had a team photo. Please pray that this continues.

Thank you in advance for your thoughts and prayers. Each one of us needs and WE need it! Pray that there is more time in prayer, bible devotions, and God centered conversations.

Keep the Faith,
Dr. Jim, Dr. Marz, Dr. Paul, and Dr. Stacy