Happiness doesn’t result from what we get but from what we give

A couple of days ago I got the opportunity to meet with the pastor to give him a good amount of food for the churches food shelf as well as a handful of sports balls for him to see distributed as needed.  There are thousands of people in Nairobi going hungry every day and some of the kids can go two or three days without getting any food.  The church that I was partnered with plays a large role in distributing food to where it can help a lot of people.  A couple of times during this trip I was able to be a part of the distribution of the food and you could see how appreciative and how much these people really need food.  So with the help of some very generous people back home I was able to help provide a good portion of food to the church so that they could continue to help the hungry people of Nairobi.  I am glad that I was able to partner with a church that plays such a big role in mission work in Nairobi.

Also, with the help of people back home I was able to sponsor one of the church members to go on a 10 day mission trip to the Congo and Dominican Republic with the basis of church planting.  His name is Meshack, and he is the guitarist for the churches praise team.  I was able to talk with him on Sunday and he is a man whose heart is filled for the the Lord.  This mission trip is something that I really wanted to go on but due to timing I am not able to go.  After hearing the pastor mention at church that some people may need sponsors for them to be able to go I knew that is how I could still help.  I am very happy that someone else is able to go and serve God in my place.

A big thank you to the people back home that made these donations possible.  God bless you.

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An afternoon at an infant orphanage

A couple of days ago I got the opportunity of going some of the members of the church in going over to the Poverelle Sisters Martyrs of Charity orphanage.  This is an orphanage in Nairobi where there are around 25 kids that are under the age of 2.  In one of the pictures it gives you a brief history if you are interested.  It is an orphanage that is run by the Catholic church and the people there that are taking care of the children are all nuns.  We brought along with us diapers, wet-ones, and food to help take some of the financial burden off of the people that are running the orphanage.  It was so fun see all of the little children.  One of the main reasons that we went over there though was to finalize one of the pastors from my churches adoption of one of the little girls there.  I wasn’t aware of this part of it until the nuns came out with instruments and were all signing to celebrate the adoption of the little girl.  We all grabbed a child a paraded around the orphanage signing and dancing.  It was so much fun!  Then the family cut the cake with their new baby girl and we all enjoyed in the celebration with this wonderful family.  I was informed that in the last two weeks, four of the children had been adopted.

Hearing some of the stories about how the children came to the orphanage was heartbreaking.  Some had been left at the front gate, some left on the side of the road or at the hospital, and some were found in public restrooms.  In the pictures below you will see me holding a little girl in green.  This little girl is named Kesha.  I spent most of my time with her while I was there.  This was not my intent but whenever I went to put her back down she would start crying.  After a while I asked them what her story was and I hit close to home.  Kesha was dropped off at the door of the orphanage and when they took her to the doctor for a check up to see how healthy she was they found out that she had a hole in her heart and that if it would have gone unnoticed she would have died within the week.  My girlfriend Jill was also born with a hole in her heart and now she is an outstanding and healthy young woman and just shows the hope for little baby Kesha.  I had a wonderful time at the orphanage playing with the children.  It takes a special family to adopt a child (for example: my track coach at Bethel).  My perspective on adoption has been altered now that I have seen all of these children that have so much potential and just need someone to love them.  I am not saying that I am going to be adopting 5 children from Kenya but adoption is now something that I may consider more in the future.

Masai Mara

Last Friday, Larry and I were picked up at the house at 7 a.m. by a tour guide and we started our journey to Masai Mara.  Masai Mara is in the south west portion of Kenya, on the border of Tanzania.  It was a very long drive with about 4 hours on assault roads and then another 2.5 on the roughest road I have ever been on.  As we entered Masai Mara is a huge area that is set aside for the Masai people and is a large reserve for animals.  On our way to the resort that we were staying at we saw elephants and antelope in the distance.  We pulled up to the fancy gates of Mara Sopa Lodge and were greeted by very friendly people.  This was the nicest resort (only resort) that I have been to, so I wasn’t used to people carrying my bags for me and offering me drink right at the door.  We had some time to settle in to the hut that we were to call home for the next couple days before we headed out for our first game drive.  Everything that comes after this is hard to put into words.  You had to be there to get the full experience, but hopefully the pictures do it some justice.    The vehicle that we took was one of the ones that have the roof that pops up so that you can stand and see in all directions.  The first animals that we saw on that evening game drive were a group of elephants.  They are very powerful animals and it was very interesting watching them demolish this small tree that they were eating from.  We saw many animals that evening in just a short period of time.  We saw zebras, giraffes, dik-diks, water buffalo, wildebeest, other kinds of antelope, and a momma lion with two cubs.  It was also a very beautiful night and we were able to watch the sunset over the safari.    We  got back to the lodge to enjoy a nature talk about the mara and a dance that was put on by the Masai tribe that was just down the road.  After, we enjoyed a very nice meal and then hung out the rest of the night.  The next morning we had to wake up fairly early because we had to leave the lodge at 6:45.  At breakfast, Larry had already put his plate of fruit at the table and went to get more food but when we got back to the table a monkey and snuck in and was sitting at the table eating all of the fruit.  After breakfast we headed out for our all day safari.  It was one of the best experiences of my life!!!  I honestly can’t even begin to describe what we saw that day.  We saw at least 100,000 zebras and over 100,ooo wildebeest.  I had never seen so many animals in my life.  There were fields that had thousands of animals in them.  In the morning we came across a group of lions that were feeding on a wildebeest.  Larry was wearing my safari hat and when he stood up it blew out of the vehicle right in the middle of the group of lions.  The lions started playing with it like it was a game.  I may have lost my hat but it was worth it to see the lions playing like that.  Throughout the day we saw hippos in the river, a groups of cheetahs hunting wildebeest, a leopard, hyenas feeding on carcasses, four groups of lions, antelope, tons of elephants, some giraffes, and all of those zebras and wildebeest in their natural habitat.  It was one of the most fun days of my life!  We did come a couple week too early and missed the great migration.  During the great migration from Tanzania to Kenya there are so many animals that come over that you cannot see any of the grass.  That would have been amazing to see but we still saw so many animals.  It is crazy how large the mara actually is.  We drove around for 7 hours and only saw a small portion of the mara.  On our way back to the lodge we stopped by the Masai village to see how they live.  They were more than happy to show us around their very small village and show us how they live.  We learned about there culture, saw how they built their huts, learned how to start a fire without a match, and got to spend some time inside their huts.  We even visited the medicine man and saw how they make all of their medicines from the roots of trees.  We were even daring enough to try a little bit of the medicine… that was not a very smart idea, as it acted as a laxative that made it very uncomfortable that night and the next day.  We got back to the lodge and went for a swim and relaxed the rest of the night.  We loaded the van at 8 the next morning and started the long journey home.  Hopefully the pictures can give you sort of an idea of this amazing experience but they definitely don’t do it justice.  I would recommend to anyone going to Kenya to visit Masai Mara.

Photo credits go to Larry!IMG_3043IMG_2818IMG_2834IMG_2874IMG_2798IMG_3194IMG_3204IMG_321513549273_10210096226586228_2096602223_oIMG_3027Great rift valley viewpointIMG_3220Larry and ILarry and I in the vanLarry in the vanIMG_3126IMG_3137IMG_3141IMG_323913555795_10210095402685631_973126298_o13579813_10210096226466225_874455812_oIMG_2976IMG_2982IMG_2986IMG_2992IMG_3044IMG_3164Lion still has my hat13549013_10210095401165593_1797735661_o13549152_10210095401085591_115241568_o13555866_10210095400925587_1006441834_o13570218_10210095401485601_2015843196_o13570385_10210095401445600_27425869_o13579703_10210095401405599_1980852313_o13579790_10210095401365598_1073821952_oMasai BenMasai Larry13509355_10210095402165618_901476863_o13549277_10210095402045615_2105741026_o13555741_10210095402125617_36092317_o13555889_10210095402005614_759540602_o13555960_10210095401525602_668251108_o13569868_10210095401765608_43869162_o13575574_10210095401645605_1785371692_o13579843_10210095401845610_976623390_oMe on a logIMG_279413549182_10210096227226244_1204406067_o13570024_10210095402965638_1551632356_o13579694_10210096152264370_801798819_o13582394_10210096228786283_56824290_oIMG_2857IMG_2882IMG_2910IMG_3167IMG_3247IMG_3007We spotted a couple of studsIMG_2960IMG_3114IMG_3251IMG_2829IMG_2931IMG_3060IMG_3064IMG_3089IMG_3111

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Turning early years SCARS into STARS

Yesterday, I was given the opportunity to join Pastor Banes and another woman from the church to go deliver food.  I had called him up last week asking him if there was anyway that I could help serve the community and he just told me to show up at the church on Wednesday at 4.  I had no idea what I was going to be doing but I was excited to join him for whatever he had planned.  I usually get home from work around 5:30 so I had to leave work a couple hours early but that wasn’t too hard.  When I showed up to the church we started loading his vehicle with the food that the church had collected the previous week in a food drive (rice, flour, cooking oil, maze…).  The three of us hopped in and were off.  My curiosity got the best of me and I ask him where we were going with this food.  He explained that we were heading to a school called Little Rock.  It is a school that is in Kibera, the largest slum in the city.  He also said that there was an orphanage that we would be visiting as well.  As we approached the school we were driving through the slum and I was already being exposed to the conditions that these children lived in.  There were kids playing in dirty puddles, kicked cans around, and people going through the trash that was on the side of the road.  But when we got to the gates of the school, we pulled up to this very nice building.  I was surprised as the quality of the building.  When we got out the pastor started giving all of the children high fives.  I went to do the same but before I could start a young boy named Wilson ran up and gave me a big hug and wouldn’t let go.  As he was hugging me, the rest of the children came over to give me a high five.  We continued into the office of the lady that started this school, Lilly Oyare.  She then told us the story of how this school came to be started.  She was a teacher at a school in Nairobi but she felt God calling her to go and start a school in the slums.  This was hard for her to do but she took on this calling head on.  There was a man from Japan (I believe) that heard about what she was wanting to and gave her enough money to start the school up with about 5-10 kids.  After a while, a man in the Netherlands set up a fund raiser over there that brought in enough money for the nice buildings that they are using today and that money is still helping them to this day.  The school is located in the slum and was started to help those who had no chance of getting an education to having the same chance as any kid out there.  A lot of the children there have disabilities and some of the other schools in the area wouldn’t even take them.

The schools vision is: an inclusive society where all children are given an equal opportunity for quality education to impact the community positively.

Their mission is:  To provide early childhood education to vulnerable and children with disability in Kibera and surrounding area by promoting their development in an inclusive environment and empowering the community.

The name of the school, Little Rock, even has a good meaning behind it.  Little is for all of the little children.  Rock comes from Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”  And the motto that is on the front of the building, “Turning early years scars into stars” is talking about the life of the children in the slum and all of the rejection and troubles that they have faced, and now they are given a chance to shine and have an opportunity to do something with their lives.

I really like what this school is doing for the kids and I was so happy to be able to help provide for them.  We brought the food in as well as a donation.  I was able to donate 20 New Testament Bibles that I had brought from home as well.  The pastor and I then prayed over the staff of the school and the donations that we had brought.  We played with the kids for a while and then we headed over to the orphanage.  The orphanage was just across the street and was started by the same lady that started the school.  It was started because she noticed that some of the kids didn’t have a home to go to at the end of the day.  The orphanage is just a two bedroom house  that holds 23 kids.  The two rooms are packed with bunkbeds and some of the kids and to go two to a bed.  We delivered some food to them and then prayed with all of the kids and the caretaker.  It was a very cool experience.  I am so glad that I joined the pastor today.  This experience opened my eyes to how God is working in all places of the world.  He brought this lady who was doing well for herself into the slum and told her to build a school for these kids and she did.  This is just one example of how God will always provide when you follow what He is calling you to do.

Sorry, I only took one picture today.  I was too busy playing with the kids or talking with the founder that I didn’t take any pictures except on the way out.

I any of you feel like you would want to donate to this school, their website is http://www.littlerockkenya.org.Little Rock school

A week in the theatre

For the past week I was able to experience the Theatre or the operating rooms at the hospital.  I have only seen one surgery back home so I don’t have a lot to compare it to but the operating rooms here are different than the ones in the states.  At this hospital there were only two operating rooms.  The system of checking the patients in as well as the technology inside the OR is a little behind the states, but they do well with what they have.  The staff that they have in the Theatre are very good at what they do and they had a good system going for them.  Everyone was very welcoming and was willing to teaching me anything that I wanted to learn.  I was able be next to the surgeon or the anesthesiologist for each of the surgeries.  The anesthesiologist where very helpful in bringing me through each step and I was very interested in learning from them because that is something that I want to go into.  I was even able to intubate one of the patients (which is something that I haven’t learned in the states), after the anesthesiologist taught me how.  After the surgeries I was able to go to the PACU unit with the patients to be with them when they woke up.  It was really fun to be able to hold some of the babies until they were ready to go back to their moms or to another ward.  A couple of the days had a lot of surgeries while one of the days only had one surgery.  The day that only had one surgery was very boring but that was one of the days that I was just able to sit down with some of the people and learn about how they do stuff.

Some of the surgeries that I was able to experience were:

Removal or adenoids and tonsils, myringotomy, gromets, warts removed from toes, a pelvic mass biopsy, neck lymphnode biopsy, tongue tie release, FESS, typanoplasty, k-wire right tibia, mandibular cyst removal, and a contracture on the right foot.  ENT surgeries were the most common just because of the age of the patients.  If you want to know what these surgeries are you may have to look them up because it is hard to explain some of them.  The coolest surgeries that I saw were the contracture on the foot were the little toe was growing under the foot.  They had to cut the skin to make it straight and then take skin from the stomach to place on the foot as well as put a metal rod through the toe to make it straight.  The other cool surgery was a cleft lip surgery were they fixed a kids cleft lip.

Overall, this week was a great experience and gave me good experience for what I may be experiencing for my nursing career.  For the next two weeks I will be in the ICU.

Experiencing a little more of Nairobi

On Saturday, Larry and I boarded a Matatu, a privately owned mini bus, and headed into Nairobi.  Matatus are the form of public transportation here in Nairobi.  They are very popular and will cost anything from 30 KSH- 50 KSH (30-50 cents).  The Matatu drivers are the craziest drivers that I have ever seen.  As Buddy the Elf would say, “Be careful, the (Matatus don’t stop).”  But it was an experience and it got us to where we needed to be.  Larry and I went to a movie at an Imax theater.  The prices were way cheaper than in the US.  After the movie we went to explore some of the shops.  We went into this market that was sort of on a side street, and it was kind of sketchy.  But I was able to find one of the items that I was looking for.  While in this market though every shop owner approached me trying to get me into their shop to look at their things.  It was very overwhelming.  I also got to experience the art of bargaining.  I had to bargain for all the items that I bought and luckily I had Larry with me that talked some of the items down even more.  The people really try to take advantage of white people.  One of the guys was selling paintings and I showed interest in one of them and he said the price was 2800 KSH or $28.  I told him that I don’t have that much on me and that I only had $10 (because I didn’t want to buy it).  He kept dropping the price but I continued to say that I only had $10.  Then he actually dropped the price to $10 and started wrapping the item up but I had to tell him that I didn’t want it.  This came to show how much they actually hike the prices up.  He cut his price by 66% and would have still been comfortable selling it at that price.  I just need to be good at bargaining the rest of the trip so that I don’t get taken advantage of.  When we got out of the market it was dark outside and I got to see a little of Nairobi nightlife.  I was a little nervous and their were people constantly asking for money.  We finally got to the Matatu and headed home.  On our way home we passed by a Matatu that had been burned by protestors in the Monday demonstration.  It was pretty crazy.

Something that I was able to experience today was the slums.  Larry and I were able to go by Kibera, which is the largest slum in Nairobi and the second largest slum in Africa.  There are millions of people that live in these slums and in the pictures that I will attach you will be able to see the types of homes and conditions that they live in.  It was crazy to see tin roofs go forever and knowing that all of those people are living without electricity or water and are lucky to get a small portion of food each day.  Later on this trip I will be serving food to the kids from the slums so I will be able to experience a little more of what the slums are like.  Ariel of Kiberakibera largeSmall shoptrash on the roadPeople of the slumchild on the tracksGod help me

God has opened a door

Yesterday after work I had the driver drop me off at the church so that I could talk with the pastor.  The pastor is a very cool guy that loved talking about missional work.  He has partnered with a a group in the states to do mission trips in the places of Africa that need it the most.  The church is going on a 10 day mission trip and he invited me to go on it with them but it is after I come back home.  Because I am not able to go, I am still planning on sponsoring one of the church members so that they can go along and help spread the word of God.  Also, the church plays a big role in providing food for some widowed women and a couple programs that feeds kids from the slums.  The food that they need is fairly inexpensive over here so I am using some of the extra money from my fundraiser to provide a good amount of food for them.  Then he invited me to go serve the food with him to the kids from the slums.  This food may be their only meal of the day and it helps take the stress off of their parents to figure out how to feed their kids.  Also, we are going to go spend time at a school for kids that have special needs.  He said that theses kids don’t really care about getting stuff but all they want is for people to spend time with them.  I am super excited to serve this community in different ways and to partner with the church.  Thank you to everyone back home who has help give me this opportunity.