One thing I will not miss about Kenya?…. having to trek to the “Cyber” to use the internet! This will probably be my last post before I fly home over the weekend and I just wanted to quickly type out a few closing thoughts.

I’ve come to realize that I’ll do most of the emotional unpacking from this trip AFTER I get home and not necessarily sort it all out right now while I’m here. Someone told me before I left, to spend every moment of my time here living and serving to the max, experiencing it all….There will be plenty of time to work through it when I’m home. And he was exactly right! I can’t begin to elaborate on all of the things I’ve discovered by living in this African culture and seeing all of the sad and often horrific things I’ve seen.

But a few things I’ve learned:

1) I am blessed and I have everything I need.

I packed for a three week trip in a hiking pack. I rotate the same tanks and cargos throughout my work week. I don’t worry about make-up, my wardrobe back home, my social life, my silly blackberry…. I’m away from it all and it’s been completely refreshing! In America, we have so much more than we need. Even those of us in our mid-twenties like me who find themselves complaining that we never have enough money… Lord help me that I NEVER think those thoughts again! There is such beauty in a simpler life and living on exactly what you need. The rest just gets in the way.

2) “Don’t do nothing just because you can’t do everything.”

Such a simple thought but I’ve been guilty of this mindset when I think about volunteering and serving. I read this quote in a book while here in Kenya and it struck me with how applicable it is to my life right now. Here I am working in such extreme poverty and seemingly hopeless situations every day, and it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and not know where to begin! Day 1 at the IDP camps I almost had a panic attack after first being exposed to that people group and how they’re suffering, starving, and battling to keep their families alive.

All God asks of us is to do SOMETHING. Help in SOME small way. And it doesn’t always have to be across the world in Kenya. There is need everywhere, it’s all around us, so just do something! Imagine what our communities would look like, the cities we call home transforming simply because everyone pitched in a little.

3) “Now that I have seen, I am responsible. Faith without deeds is dead.”

Those are lyrics from a Brooke Fraser song that Lynds had me listen to last night when we were journaling. Again, it’s just a simple thought but rings true to me after this trip. Now that I’ve seen these things, the IDP camps and the Kibera slum, I’m responsible. You can’t play the apathetic card when you’ve been exposed to something like this. The “Yes We Kenya” team is brewing up some big ideas for how to partner with these projects when we get home to chicago, so stay tuned for how you can be involved!

Sorry that was a bit long-winded…. next up, home to the lovely US of A : )

Cheers,

Lauren

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These words were uttered by the one, the only Lauren P Fulmer as an attractive Kenyan man walked by us in a nice suit. Without leaving behind a trail of B.O. Twas a delightful surprise.

“I reckon he uses deodorant” is the new,  “What a hunk”.

As you can see, we still have our priorities straight.

Also, going forward please refer to us as Lucy and Maureen, respectively. This is due to the fact that “Lyndsay” and “Lauren” are impossible to understand over here…so we’re often a mix of Maureen, Lo, Nancy, Lucy etc. We kind of wish we wouldve given completely fake names altogether just for kicks. (Maturity check)

I hope those of you reading this know that I fully comprehend and am processing the seriousness and severity of what I have been experiencing and the gravity of the situation over here. But everyone needs a break from digesting this kind of heavy meal once in a while, yes?

So without further ado, here are some more pics…some serious, but some to give you a glimpse into how we’re keeping our sanity over here.

Kenyan Music

Kenyan Music

FAME

FAME

Outside the back window of our school

Outside the back window of our school

this is Mimsy. The cat that breaks into our rooms and sleeps with us. The cat that jumps on the dinner table. The cat that undoubtedly has fleas. Look at that unforgettable face.

this is Mimsy. The cat that breaks into our rooms and sleeps with us. The cat that jumps on the dinner table. The cat that undoubtedly has fleas. Look at that unforgettable face.

Whenever we cross this river we sing the Audrey Hepburn song "Moon River"..but replace 'moon' with 'crap'

Whenever we cross this river we sing the Audrey Hepburn song "Moon River"..but replace 'moon' with 'crap'

Well thats it folks.

3 more days….weird!

God is good.

Love,

Nancy/Lucy

Re-Entry Day 1 ::{Clare}

September 29, 2009

It’s official, I’m BACK from Kenya!! (And really missing my partners-in-crime Lynds and Fulms)

I flew into O’hare yesterday (Monday, September 28), around 3:30pm. After a seemingly never-ending flight, sitting next to 2 young Turkish kids who sneezed a lot and talked the ENTIRE flight from Nairobi to Istanbul, then enduring serious stomach issues on my 12-hour flight from Istanbul to Chicago, I’m home safe, happy and very sleepy.  A huge shout-out to the Big Man (God) for keeping me safe in my travels and teaching me a ton! Side note: En-route to the airport, my cab was stopped by some very sketchy police officers who demanded money and peered at me through the back seat windows. Praise God for my driver who paid-off the police, and got me to the airport, un-scathed!

Anyway, I want to take a minute to write and say another round of THANK YOU’s to all the people who supported my trip; with words of encouragement, finances and lots of prayer. I could not have gone to Kenya without you and I feel truly blessed to have experienced what I did and to be able to come back to the  BEAUTIFUL city of Chicago, a clean and comfy bed, and to friends and family :). To reiterate Lyndsay’s words, the trip was much harder than I expected, but so fruitful! I’m interested to see what it is like to “unpack” everything I saw and experienced while I was there.  I do know this, that I have a renewed sense of gratitude for all that I have been blessed with here in the U.S.A.: a job, running water, electricity, food everyday, clean clothing, and a support system. While in Kenya I was often reminded of the verse: Luke 12:48 “….Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required”. No matter how much I complain, I know that I have been given much, and I hope to always remember that.

Enough of the cheesy stuff, here are some culture-shock moments I’ve experienced since my return:

1) As I walked off the train into downtown Chicago, I realized how CLEAN the city of Chicago is…i.e. no dirt roads or cattle grazing on the city streets, and we actually use trash cans!

2) American food is AMAZING. Praise the Lord for the FDA.

3) People here shower, regularly.

4) Swahili is not a recognized language in the States. Thus, it was no longer cute when I continued to use “Asante Sana” (Thank you very much) and “Sowa sowa” (It’s ok)…note to self.

5) I blend in. No one is shocked to see a “mizungu” walking down the street.

I’ve got to get back to work, but thanks again for reading!  I’ll be posting more pictures etc very soon!! Stayed tuned.

Love,

Clare

I’m hearing the theme song from Arrested Development in my head right now….Gob Bluth, anyone?  If you’ve never seen that show, I highly recommend you get on that…

Anyways, it’s our third and final week here in Kenya and we’re tying up all the loose ends before we fly out this weekend. Clare left a few days ago and Lynds and I are missing having her around!

At the Siloam Academy in the slum, we’ve been assisting the teachers with tutoring the kids that seem to be a bit behind. Let me say one thing: I have a new-found respect for teachers after this trip! Who would’ve thought teaching ABCs and numbers to kids could be nearly impossible? I pulled a few kids out of the pre-unit (their version of kindergarten) and tried to work with them individually but the language barrier made it SO hard.

They have a completely different teaching style over here. The kids learn through songs, such as the alphabet song, and can certainly sing the letters in order….but when I point to just any ol’ letter, like “M”, they’re lost. It’s interesting, but somehow it clicks with them in later grades!

Also coming up this week: Final trip to Baruku IDP camp. This time the chicken coup is finished, so we’re bringing the chicks with us. Here’s a visual: packed rental safari van with us girls and 200 baby chicks packed in! It will either be hilarious or completely obnoxious, but I can’t wait for the moment we pull up to camp and finish the project we started just a few weeks ago : )

That’s all, folks!

LF

And Then There Were 2…

September 29, 2009

Time: 6:21 PM Kenya Time, 8:21 AM America Time

Day: 16

Clare left late Sunday night.

Feels like we lost one of our arms.

We went diligently to Kibera yesterday and it was just strange without her.

A few brief highlights to sustain your thirst for Kenyan adventure (I must admit, the longer I am here the less clarity I feel I have on the entire experience! Forgive me for my muddled thoughts):

  • A little girl at Pipeline IDP turned me into a mizungu popsicle: I was holding her hand listening to the elder’s discuss development plans when I realized my thumb was hot and wet: yep, she had the whole thing in her mouth. Jenn says a lot of the little kids want to know what we taste like. Im guessing it was mint chocolate chip.
  • We experienced a small victory last week with a little boy at our school in Kibera who had developed a serious eye problem. We were able to walk with him and his mother (as well as another boy with eye problems and his mother) to Kenyatta hospital to get his eyes checked out. The biggest blessing turned out to be that our host mom actually WORKS in that hospital  (what are the chances?!) and her late husband was a ophthalmologist there (Again, what are the chances?!). This allowed us to cut through some long wait times, language barriers and red tape and get Kioko in to a doctor. Turns out he has developed ulcers on his eyeballs that if left untreated will lead to blindness. They cause him pain and itch and water and he is just so sweet and shy. The heartbreaking part came when they tried to give him the vision test to determine his loss of vision and he could not identify any of the letters. This sweet 7-year-old just started singing the abc’s every time she pointed to a letter.  It has now become Fulmer and my personal goal to take him aside every day and go through the letters with him so that upon his checkup they can better understand his vision issues.
  • I was forced to do a Luo tribal dance at the PTA meeting at the secondary school last thursday. For those who know me I about wet myself and was an awkward mess. Of COURSE they picked me and not Clare or Lauren. of course.
  • Clare just g chatted me that food in America is awesome. Way to rub it in as Lauren and I head for a starchy/mysterious delight in about an hour
  • A new little girl at school about 4 years old walked up to me, put her finger on my nose and said “Obama”. We’re like twins I tell ya.
  • We bring the 200 chicks to Baruku on Friday!!!!! I hope you all got to see the pics Clare put up of the almost-complete coop. The donations we have received have been so touching–thank you to you all!! There is also a group of people we took to the camp who own a large drill and are offering to frill there for water. This is HUGE and insanely costly and if we get the correct permissions from the government, this will CHANGE THEIR LIVES. Prayers for this to go smoothly are treasured! P.s when i say bring the chicks to Baruku I literally mean bring the chicks. On our laps. In a safari van. 200 chicks. This shall be an interesting 2 hour trip!
  • One of the students today asked Fulmer if she was asian. My trip is officially complete now.
  • Another teacher asked us to help grade the 5th grade algebra. Perhaps one of the more shameful moments of my life when we had to tell him we didn’t remember.

Biggest Challenge: Constantly being asked for money. The people in Kibera have been conditioned to see us only a means to an end and it is challenging to find ways to help that involve more than just giving cash monies.

Biggest Delight: Mazuri Monday Movie Madness: the theatre here had a special yesterday for a movie ticket, popcorn, soda and mars bar for 500 shillings (like $6.50) Holla! We saw “fame”. It sucked but was still a great experience–especially when the preview included the Kenyan national anthem (which we all were asked to stand for). Awesome.

LOVE to you all–the response we’ve had from you reading our blog has been the piece of home that has helped sustain us.

God is good.

Lynds

Show and Tell :: {Clare}

September 25, 2009

Gorgeous Dust Baby

Gorgeous Dust Baby

Wouldn't you fall in love with these babies?

Wouldn't you fall in love with these babies?

Chicken Coop Project 80% complete.

Chicken Coop Project 80% complete.

Fulms juggling babies to save their feet from the cactus thorns.

Fulms juggling babies to save their feet from the cactus thorns.

1,000 Words :: {Lyndsay}

September 25, 2009

Baruku friendship.

Baruku friendship.

in. love.

in. love.

Kibera Slum baby

Kibera Slum baby

Students from our Project School and Orphanage in Kibera

Students from our Project School and Orphanage in Kibera

SO trendy

SO trendy

Happy Friday, everyone!

 

Lynds, Clare, and I have officially been at the Cyber Cafe for an hour+ trying to upload pics to our team blog…. and it’s looking like a no-go. In the meantime, we thought we’d lighten things up a bit and share some of our highlights from Week 2.

 

Enjoy!

 

1) Clare’s “Feminist Moments” throughout the week:

“BABY?!? Women don’t like to be called baby.” — when a man in the slums hollered at her.

“If I was a MAN… he would’ve given me change!’ — after the clerk at the supermarket wouldn’t break her shillings

 

2) Fulmer stepping in an unidentified pile of brown juice/slush/puddle in Kibera slum. Extra points for flinging said puddle onto Clare’s arm.

 

3) Lynds having to partake in the Luo tribal dance in front of Kenyan high school kids.

 

4) Sitting in on a Parent/Teacher meeting at the high school connected to our project and being offered lunch in the slums. We couldn’t think of a polite way to say: “No thank you… I’ll pass on that mystery rice dish, and as much as we love eating off of plates washed in sewage-water, I’m full from breakfast.”

 

5) Dancing at a Kenyan club with our host mom to a mix of Beyonce, Gaga, MJ, and authentic tribal tunes. Got a chance to switch up the lyrics of “Single Ladies” to “All my Mizungu ladies… all my mizungu ladies….” It was a HIT!

 

6) Clare getting peed on by a Dust Baby.

 

7) Lynds getting invited to karaoke while standing outside the Cyber Cafe by a man who said he liked her “moves”. We’re still not sure how those two are related…

 

8 ) A city-wide electrical outage that turned our dinner into a candlelight discussion on Kenyan life, love, and politics.

 

9) The fact that we’ve now watched High School Musical 1, 2, and 3 multiple times. Don’t ask.

 

10) Our first ride in a “matatu” (Kenyan group taxis…basically you and 14 of your best friends, chickens, and crying babies). It involved a subwoofer, Lil Wayne, and a giant flatscreen TV. Then some lady hopped in at the next stop and made Fulmer hold her groceries!

 

More to come. We miss you all! Thanks for keeping up with us and our stories.

 

Love,

Lauren. Lyndsay. Clare

Open our Eyes,

To see the things that make Your Heart cry,

To be the Church that You would desire,

a LIGHT to be seen.

– “With Everything” by: Hillsong

Alrighty, time for an update on the Baruku project. Our team made another trip out Monday to their camp and I have good news to share: Their community leaders took the weekend to think on the Chicken Coup idea and it’s a GO!

I was blown away by their organization, planning and research…. crew was prepared for today’s meeting! They had chosen a plot of land for the coup, sketched a few drawings of the structure, and even priced out most of the necessary materials. This really gave us confidence in our investment with these people….and they are absolutely BEAMING about getting back to work. These people are men and women that are educated in their various crafts and were simply robbed of their homes and dignity.

This is their chance to start over!

It was surreal sitting in the tiny meeting place at the top of the hill at their camp. Before the meeting, we’d been playing with the darling Dust Babies (as we lovingly refer to them) and we had to literally peel them off of us to go into the business meeting : )

There we were, six young American girls who back home certainly don’t consider ourselves particularly “wealthy” but who, across the world, had the resources to help rebuild an entire community! If that’s not encouraging, then I don’t know what is! Everyone has something to give… you just may not realize how blessed you are.

Ok… so that’s all on Baruku for now, but we’re headed back tomorrow (thurs) so we’ll have an update later this week!

A quick note on our project in the Kibera slum. We began work at the Siloam Fellowship Ministry academy on Tuesday and have just finished our second day of work. It’s a combined school for grades kindergarten-8th grade AND an orphanage that houses 30 girls and 40 boys of all ages.

As we walked with our volunteer escorts to the slum early Tuesday morning, words cannot begin to describe what we saw. To put it bluntly, what my eyes and nose took in were segments of what I’ve always imagined Hell to be like. That’s not even meant to be snarky or sarcastic! It was putrid, horrifying, and downright inhumane that people are living under those conditions. We walk on garbage pathways and look to either side and see children shoveling feces in a ditch or live pigs wandering the streets and nosing through the trash heaps. Children walk without shoes around ashes and bits of glass. This is not ok.

My heart broke for the second time on this trip when we walked in the Kibera slum on Tuesday! It get overwhelmed thinking of how much it would take to move all of the people out and start fresh. To be honest, I don’t know where to begin even making a dent. I was feeling hopeless until I remembered that I serve a God way bigger than this and that change is possible!

On a lighter note, a funny story from our first day at the school: Soooo…We weren’t quite sure where we were needed to help and I thought the teacher was joking when he handed us pieces of chalk and elementary text books. Picture Clare, Lynds, and I like deer in the headlights standing in front of the classroom that holds the littles ones, 1st through 3rd graders, with about 80 pairs of big brown eyes looking at us! Haha. As I tried using my limited Swahili and the kids started laughing at my teaching…. we tossed the books and started teaching them songs! Good times. Awful teaching : )

Thanks for listening and sorry that was a little winded! More to come and hopefully pics soon!

Kwaherini,

LF

Kibera-Day One :: {Clare}

September 22, 2009

Hello again!

Today was our first day at our official project, the Siloam Children’s Ministry in Kibera, Nairobi. As we’ve mentioned before Kibera is the largest slum in Africa. Nothing Jenn or anyone else could have said would have prepared me for what we saw today. I came into today thinking that what we saw at the IDP camps was going to be far worse conditions than Kibera, but as we discovered today, that is not the case. The slum is filled to the brim with trash. The small stream flowing through Kibera is where all their sewage and trash flows too, as well as where their animals bathe and drink. Today as we were walking to Silaom we saw two pigs bathing in the trash filled river that runs right past the huts that they live in. All the dogs that are walking around look diseased, flee ridden, and are clearly starving to death and are drinking out of the same contaminated water source. Kibera has been in existence for 20 years, so imagine 20 years of trash littered on the streets, in the stream, and in front of houses and doors. I was overwhelmed by the conditions that these children live and play in on a daily basis.

When we arrived at the Siloam Children’s Ministry we were greeted by Stephen who showed us around the school/orphanage. They have over 460 children that attend school there, and over 70 living there. Stephen walked us around and introduced us to all the classes, primary through secondary school. Later we were asked to teach a religion lesson to the secondary school students. I’m interested to see how our time will be used, and what we can do to maximize our short time there and be most helpful to the staff at Silaom.

Please pray for us that we spend our time usefully and are able to help as many children as possible. Also pray for us to have perseverance and to not be discouraged by the overwhelming need surrounding us.

Love,

Clare