Thursday, August 8, 2013

I'm alive!

So apparently the Nairobi airport has burned down while I've been on safari! I'm alive and well and actually having the time of my life! I've seen so many beautiful animals up close! It's been amazing! We're supposed to leave tomorrow evening so hopefully they have something figured out by then for us! I will update you on the last few days when I have a chance. We keep a very busy schedule and have limited WiFi access most of the time. I just paid for WiFi here at Fig Tree while I'm in between safari rides so I could check in with everyone. Still limited though. Only works certain hours of the day while the generator is running. I'll post more information as I learn what the plan is! For now, enjoy some fun animal pictures!

Monday, August 5, 2013

What's in a name?

The church service we went to this morning was amazing! We left for church around 10 and arrived to meet the pastor, John. He showed us around the church ground and shared a bit about its history for the first 30 minutes or so. They run a school on the grounds as well for some of the children from the slums of Kawangari. This church and school were literally buried deep within the slums which allows it to be a great ministry to the area! I hope to share more about it later. For now, I just want to share about the service. It started around 11 and he allowed us to leave at 1:30 BEFORE the service was over. He'd just given someone else the floor to talk for 20 minutes! Aside from the long list of announcements we sat through, the service was phenomenal! The song leaders were wonderful and I felt immediately ushered into worship! I couldn't understand what they were singing in the first song because it was in Swahili, but I could sure feel the presence of God settling in among us! I literally had goosebumps up and down my arms and legs! They sang with such passion and wholehearted praise that I was drawn into the presence of my amazing Savior! We sang a few English songs to and the passion was still there. I felt like the whole church was possibly radiating pure joy nonstop! It was a beautiful thing to be a part of! There even was some dancing down low, dancing back up, dancin around, and dancing in general. I felt completely free to praise God any way I wanted and I did! The kids all sang us a song or two also before they were released to their classes and were prayed over. Everyone there just seemed to just have joy bursting from them! And even the message was amazing! She preached on Jacob's name meaning deception/cheat and how he lived that meaning out in various life circumstances. Then he wrestles with God, finally claims who he really is, and God gives him a new name of Israel. We all have crap in our lives, scars, sorrows, betrayals, and so much more. God has given us a new name. We no longer need to wallow in how it was. We can live up to the new name in Christ we have been given! God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good because it's His nature. Beautiful service! Worship songs, dancing to songs, communion, choir singing us a song, and a great sermon!

After church, we headed out to lunch. It was a good lunch that we enjoyed outside in the cold! The had to roll out a heater to stand between our table to warm us! It's been a cold, misty kind of day with about a 60° temperature.

After settling up there we headed to a craft store. I found some cutesy little items I liked, but things are pricey here so I don't know that I'll have much to offer in gifts as much as I usually do.

After that, we headed back for team meeting, making of lunches for next few days, and bed. I'm exhausted. Just really wanted to share about the joy I experienced in today's service. Very rarely do I feel that free to be joy-filled and praising him with such exuberance (and dancing!)

Tomorrow we go back to the same church/school and we assist in painting the classrooms until lunch. After lunch, we do our last VBS with the kids from the slums. They seem to be eager and joyful children so I can't wait love on them with what he have planned for them! After that will probably be a few more shopping stops. Either tomorrow or Tuesday we get to go to a giraffe park! We can feed them right out of our hand! Hopefully someone will take my picture with a giraffe!

Sorry, took most pictures on my camera so only have a few to offer today.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

This Time for Africa part 2

Apparently blogger decided I was done with the previous post and decided to shut me off. I have way more to say than that! Also note that some pictures may be terribly saddening and painful to see. Once I get home I will post the link to the full album of pictures with descriptions. These were just a few from each day that I had on my phone. Also note that I can be seen wearing a jacket in some pictures. That is because it can be quite cold here in the evenings and mornings without the sun!

Mzungu- what they call us white people. This is a phrase the children yell out all the time as we drive past them! They are so excited to see us and often smile ear to ear, wave both hands, chase after us, and even call out how are you! Something I didn't know was that English is actually their national language. Anyway, the cheer and joy that is expressed in the word mzungu is extremely heart-warming and makes me smile! I absolutely loved it!

Now, I'll get to some of what I've done while being here. We arrived in Maua late Saturday evening, had dinner, and went to bed. We all had our own hotel rooms so I was able to use the second bed for my suitcase and spread out a bit. Sunday morning, 7/27, was church day! We walked to the church and attended the kids Sunday school class to sing with them and meet them. We each introduced ourselves in front of them. After that we went to the Swahili/English mixed service. Worship was awesome and again, they asked us to the front to introduce ourselves and share what we do. After the service, which was probably about 2 hours, we were invited upstairs to join the women's fellowship for tea and snacks. Their tea is about half tea and half milk and always hot. We walked back to the hotel, ate a sack lunch, shopped, and sorted through team luggage. Most evenings we had a team meeting before going to dinner. Dinner tasted very good every evening!

Monday, first official day of work. Rise and shine for me was 6am most mornings. That gave me enough time to get myself and my backpack ready for the day and be at breakfast at 6:30. Every morning I had passion fruit juice and hot chocolate to drink. For food, I often had eggs, bacon, toast, and fresh fruit. Their pineapples and bananas were delicious! After breakfast each morning, we'd walk up to the hospital for 7:30 chapel time. Again, we introduced ourselves in front. Chapel consisted of a song, scripture reading, short message, and prayer. After chapel, we went on a tour of the hospital. Wow. We have so much in the states and are so unappreciative. They have so very little and are joyful for what they have! They literally will be 3 to a hospital bed with little to no privacy at times and don't expect anything more! Of course, at home most of them probably sleep 6-8 to a bed. They wear scrubs so that they are easily recognized as patients and cannot sneak out of the gate without paying. Of course, many cannot pay and are eventually released without payment. The hospital will not turn away anyone with life threatening ailments or conditions based on their ability to pay. Touring this hospital was an experience I believe all should experience, especially for a quick lesson in appreciating what you have. After the tour, we walked up to Suejimo's (Sue and Jim) house for tea time. They had lots of fresh pineapple, bananas, avocado, papaya, and bread each day to go with tea, coffee, or soda. Very yummy. If you stayed on hospital grounds, you got to join them daily for this! Wakati wakazi, time for work! I was assigned to go out to begin work on the aids orphan home. I hammered a lot of nails and sawed a few boards (all by handsaw, no electricity) once Charles (the Kenyan  builder pro) got it all squared up for us with a string and weight (no level). We were very productive and finished three walls of a duplex with 10x12 rooms. 4:30ish we returned home for showers, shopping, team meeting and devo, and dinner at 7. It was a very full day with lots of activities and overwhelming feelings of gratitude for all that we Americans take for granted. I slept very well that evening.

Tuesday- rise and shine, breakfast, and chapel like before. After that, I was assigned to see the Zoe program, which is an amazing project for orphans. A few of us were presented with the program and how it is run and all the details. After that it was time for 10:00 tea time, which was the same as the day before. After tea time we walked back down to the Zoe office where we loaded up to go out and visit some of the people that are part of Zoe. I should say that transportation around Maua was always a type of truck with a closed in bed that had bench seats along both sides (talk about a bumpy ride)! The Zoe project helps empower orphans to care for themselves and their siblings by setting up a community among them, giving them money for startup, and is a 3 year program. The people we visited are actually orphans who are head of the household over the their younger siblings and running their own successful businesses. The specific ones I met ranged in age from 17-20. Our first stop was at Christopher's farm. He cares for about 3-4 siblings and has even accepted another male orphan to live with him and work with him. It was a very nice farm and you could tell they all worked hard to keep it up and make it productive. Next was Diana's salon. She is 18 and walks produce a long distance in the morning to sell at the market and comes back to open her salon and do hair. She had 3 girls there training from her who were younger, but also a part of Zoe and heads of households. Across the street we visited 19 year old Mary and her salon. Because she works late hours and has two younger siblings to care for, she actually lives in her salon too. She also had 3 girls training under her. Augustine was next. He runs a small restaurant and knows exactly how much food to cook each day to serve without wasting any! We visited Moses, 17, and Joshua, 18, at their carpentry shop. They are actually in a 3-way partnership with another Zoe project orphan and are heads of households. Very, very impressive program! We came back for lunch around 1 and then went to visit the burn unit with Sue. There I met Pamela and her baby girl, Angel,  who was severely burned at around 1 month old when a lantern fell and caught her and the house on fire. She is so severely burned that there is no reason she should even be alive. She lost her nose, half an arm, one ear, folded the other ear, no lips, and has severe scarring all over. She has a part of her scalp that is completely gone and exposing her skull. At first she even had her eyes sewn shut, but now appears to be tracking things with her eyes! By God's grace she has survived thus far and will soon be heading to Galveston, TX to the hospital for reconstructive surgeries. She has been aporoved on both sides now and just awaits her and her mother's passports. Please pray for baby Angel! I also visited the other mothers and their burned babies. Broke my heart to see them in so much pain! After visiting there, we walked to a sewing shop which is actually run by many Zoe successful, graduated ladies. I ordered a skirt and can't wait to wear it! On our way down there we met Roxanne. She is a medical student from Galveston who had just arrived for a month's stay and medical rotations. She was very happy to see some fellow Texans and we invited her to join us multiple times. We all walked back up to She's and chatted for a bit while waiting for our ride back home. Of course, as always, upon arrival at home, we visited the shops again. I enjoyed chatting with the shop keepers. After cleaning up, we rode back up to Suejimo's for a traditional Kenyan dinner. It was delicious! Loved every bite and the fellowship we all shared that evening. Eventually we said our good nights and headed back home to practice for VBS the next day. Lots of laughter was had as we learned our roles in the storytelling, songs and motions, and crafts. I finally got them to feel somewhat more comfortable it and we were able to go crawl in bed.

Wednesday. Oh my goodness, another full day! Every day had so many things in it! Typical morning except Dave led the chapel time for both the 7:30 and 8 service so we all attended both. We finished Dave's talk on joy off with a big "I love you and there's not a darn thing you can do about it" to the Kenyan doctors, nurses, and medical students. They loved that and their smiles went from ear to ear! After our ride arrived, I headed up to the aids orphan home with 4 others to continue working on that until noonish. We only had until Thursday to finish it for the house dedication. We had to get back to the hospital by 1 for a Kenyan lunch provided by the nurses and eaten with the administrative staff. It was another wonderful time of fellowship. Right after the lunch four of us hopped in a vehicle with Stanley to go visit his hometown where they have started a preschool for orphans, ages 3-6. They have a program set up where the orphaned grandparents and orphaned children rebuild a family unit, start being productive to earn a living, and care for one another. The grandparents met us with song and dance and it didn't take long before I was invites/pulled into the circle to dance with them! Such a beautiful experience! The children greeted us with songs and they were soon dismissed from class and free to come see us. It wasn't long before one slipped bis little hand in mine and walked with me. Then they all wanted to hold my hand! Then I held one for a picture and more wanted held. Then the boy took my hand again and walked me to the truck to leave. He didn't want to let go of my hand and looked so sad when I left. I wanted to take him home with me! But then it was a mad race down terribly bumpy roads back to hospital where VBS had already started without us and I was supposed to be running in it! Good thing I trained them the night before! They had already done the Bible story and gone over words and motions to the songs. I had showed up just in time to lead the singing and motions and had a blast doing it! The little ones just smiled at me and danced with me and copied my motions! It was great fun! Crafts for 200 kids with a team of 16 and a few Kenyans proved to be a little chaotic but they really enjoyed their Jonah and the Whale cup craft! (I did discard a few headless Jonahs, Katy!) We played some frisbee, jumproping, and soccer with them, cleaned up, and went back home for cleanup and dinner. Team devo and meeting was after dinner and then we all pretty much crashed!

Thursday. Now I remember why I try to blog more regularly... It takes so long to type a week's worth of events on my phone, in the van, on our way back to Nairobi!  Thursday was a wow kind of day. We actually slept in just a bit longer to arrive at the 8am chapel service. After chapel, some went off to paint the aids orphan home and some of us came back to the hotel to prep VBS supplies for the next one near Nairobi. Now the wow starts. We went up for the aids orphan home dedication service! Before I share about that, let me say that the whole community actually chooses the orphaned family unit they want the house built for. So in this, there is no jealousy in the receiving of it, only joy! We were met with loud songs of joy and dancing like you have never seen before! They celebrate the home built for these women and children! We heard a wonderful message from Jim about hearing the voice of God in the wind, the rain,  the hammering of nails, the sawing of wood, the laughter and chatter of the workers, and in our hearts as they are filled with joy from both giving and receiving! The family said words of appreciation, othe children sang songs and recited poems, and we all circled the house with our hands on it and prayed over it! There was lots of picture taking and as usual, I was being paged because the group was trying to load up to leave and I was surrounded by children taking and showing them pictures not having a clue that they had walked away! (The team is often hunting for me because I am usually surrounded by children.) Then I came up to the vehicles and was quickly drawn I to the group of singing and dancing grandmothers and enjoyed dancing with them and making the kids laugh with my very obvious white person hips! They just don't move like they wanted them to! And they all wanted to play with my hair. And of course, I almost got left again. They were calling for me to load up as the vehicle started up! Very fun and moving experience! Once we got back home, it was cleanup time, team devo/meeting, and dinner.

Friday. Finally, almost caught up. Today is Saturday. So. Yesterday. Normal morning routine followed by going out on a Bush Clinic. Wow. We started by handing out deworming pills to the children at school. Then the lines started forming and remained extremely long until we cut it off at 3. I assisted in weighing people which actually gave me a lot of opportunities to hold babies as we weighed the mother's! I held some precious babies, some screamers who were scared of the white skin, and even a 3 week old baby! After weighing, they saw the doctors, and then moved to the medicine line. We breaked for lunch for about 30 minutes and the people just continued to wait in line without eating while we ate. I just had to have my back to them, look down at my food and eat, and not look at them. I was the first one back to my weighing station so we could start getting them through the line again! Even still, we turned lots of people away and even ran out of medicine before distributing to all of those who had seen the doctors and waited through the medicine line. Very heartbreaking to turn them away. And of course, at the end, someone had to come get me because I was surrounded by children telling them each how much they weighed and laughing with them as they took turns stepping on the scale! We got back home and had a nice break to cleanup, pack, make last minute bargains, and rest before heading to dinner with many of the people we worked with this week. I think 32 people were at our dinner and I truly enjoyed the fellowship of the meal, singing, and communion with them all! And yet again, another lady wanted to feel my hair. Great evening filled with lots of laughter! We said our farewells and went off to bed.

Finally today, Saturday! As I said earlier, I am in the van writing this blog on my phone. We have about an hour more until we reach Nairobi. We left at 9:30am after final farewells to the hotel staff, Sue and Jim, and Roxy. It is now just after 3 and we've stopped twice for restroom and shopping time. The first stop was at the equator line where we took pictures and some shopped. Most are out of shillings already and we have a week left here! Things are not cheap here like they are in Vietnam. They ask a pretty high price for a lot of things! You have to have the art of bargaining down though. I have a very hard time with that though, so unless I really, really want it, I choose not to buy. Saves me money in the end, right?! Tonight we stay at the Chak hotel where hopefully I will have access to WiFi so I can post this blog! I am alive and I am loving Kenya! One week left. Church tomorrow, VBS Monday in the slums of Kwangware, Masai Mare for a two day safari, back to Chak hotel, and then to airport to fly home on Friday. I will be back on Saturday.

Blessings to you all and remember to be grateful for all that you have been blessed with! Life is not as bad as you may think it is.

Closing Vietnam in Africa


First off, I would like to apologize for the delay in posting about the end of my trip to Vietnam. It was definitely hard to leave and there may have been a few tears shed on the way to the airport at 2am the morning I left. There may have even been a few more than that here and there in the past few weeks. Almost immediately following my arrival back in the states, I unpacked, did laundry, repacked, and headed to UMARMY for a week. That post will have to wait for another evening. I came home from that and have since spent the past week and a half in a whirlwind of friends, VBS Kenya prep, shopping, packing, shopping, packing, more shopping, and even more friends! It was a wonderful time catching up with old friends and hanging out with new friends! I cut out a bazillion Jonahs, whales, and strings (with the help of some awesome friends (thanks Melissa, Katy, and Zach)! Oops, this is sounding like the beginning of my Kenya trip. Let me get back to Vietnam.

First, I'd like to share about things I found interesting or learned while in Vietnam. Listing them seems the easist but in no particular order of importance so:
1. Street sweepers- now when I think of street sweepers I think of those truck things with the spinning circular brushes at the base that drive slowly down the sides of streets. NOT the case in Vietnam. They are actually people with brooms and large trash bins on wheels that go around sweeping and cleaning streets!
2. Turtle tails- these are actually what we consider rat tails. Much cuter name than ours but same meaning. It's a long tuft of hair that grows at the base of the hairline. I also saw quite a fe mullets.
3. Mole hairs- men actually let the hairs on their moles grow on their face out! I saw some pretty long hairs! They view it as a sign of bad luck to cut it, I believe. I think it also has to do with having wisdom. Can't remember exactly.
4. Hello- I was greeted so many times a day! Everyone wanted to talk to the American, even if they only knew hello, what is your name, how are you, and where are you from. I even made quite a few introductions on the back of Heather's motorbike at stoplights!
5. Have some more- they love to offer you food. Lots of food. And lots of tea. Even if you are full, they keep adding to your bowl! I thought I was going to explode when we visited a family in Ben Tre! They're so friendly and giving!
6. Shoes off- this took me a few days to get used to, but every time you enter a home you take off your shoes. Even some businesses/restaurants asked that of you.
7. Unison- while staying in Ben Tre one weekend the people I was with prayed  before each meal. At the end of a person's prayer (in Vietnamese) they all said words in unison. I never did learn what that was, but I thought it was nice. A way of pulling everyone into the prayer.
8. Motorbike accidents- if minor there would usually an exchange of money on the side according to damage. If major, they do not move the bikes, even if someone is unable to get out from under his/hers on their own. I also think most accidents are caused from drunk drivers.
9. Bribes- did you know that the majority of people driving motorbikes do not have licenses to drive? There are lanes that motorbikes are required to stay in and police will stand on the of the streets and wave you to the side if they see you cross the line! Since most people do not have licenses, they name their price so that you can drive away.
10. Hammocks- in most homes there is at least one hammock inside! I love this because I love hammocks! I wish I had space in my place for a hammock inside!
11. Affectionate- a lot of the people I met while there were very affectionate. I really enjoyed that. As a single person who lives alone, I don't get touched very much. There were lots of friends there that liked to hug, to link arms while walking, lean on while sitting, or even lay over on to use you as a pillow. It was quite refreshing to be so comfortable and loving toward one another.
12. Building up- there are lots of tall buildings in Vietnam. But they are not typically very wide. That's because places build up instead of out! The house we were house sitting at was 3 floors and Heathers place was 2.
13. White desire- most Vietnamese people (especially the ladies) have a strong desire to have as white of skin as possible. To achieve this, they wear jackets or long-armed gloves, face masks (also for pollution), long socks if in shorter pants or skirts, and always socks with their flipflops or sandals. I find this interesting because most of us white people seek to be as tan as possible!
14. Cheese- well, cheese is limited and more expensive there, but that's not the cheese I'm talking about. Vietnamese LOVE to take their picture with you! Even if they haven't met you! If you happen to be nearby when they take a group photo, they will ask you to be in it! I took lots of pictures with people at coffee shops and such.
15. Dong- that's what they call their money. The exchange rate was 20,000 dong to $1. Of course, that's much easier to figure out than Kenya's. They have an 85 to $1 exchange rate.
16. Locks- every house has a gate in front of it and a door on the house. Both of these are locked with key locks. These key locks can be very tricky because they are exposed to rain and such and can get very difficult to open. I learned that cooking oil will help a lot!
17. No parking- everyone parks their motorbikes inside their living room at night!
18. Music- in almost all coffee shops, malls, and such they play almost all English music. The only time I heard Vietnamese music was when I went to karaoke with friends.

Next, FAQ.
1. Have you considered long-term missions? Yes, I have. I've felt called to the mission field ever since I was younger. I just never had the means or support to seek it out. I absolutely LOVE being on mission and long-term has been on my mind and heart a lot this past year.
2. Did you like Vietnam? I LOVED Vietnam! Everyone was super friendly and I really enjoyed serving every way possible, mainly in just loving on others.
3. Would you go back or live there? I would definitely go back if I have the opportunity in the future. I made some great friends while there. I could live there if I felt called there. It would just come with some difficulties I'm not used to experiencing.
4. What exactly was I doing there? Mostly just being friendly, loving on people, being in conversation with them, assisted with English lessons with both kids and adults, loved on children at an orphanage, talk times in coffee shops, loved on and encouraged Heather, and even went to a few youth group outings and planning meetings.
5. Was it hard to leave? It was EXTREMELY hard to leave. I still get sad when I'm home alone in the evenings.
6. Did I enjoy the food there? What type of food did they have? I did enjoy the food. I tried many new things. Lots of rice, pork, eggs, and spring rolls. They also had lots of American fast food places to choose from when I wanted that. They have pho which is kind of a noodle soup and I even tried goat brain hot pot!
7. What was I most looking forward to getting back to? Lucy, Lucy, Lucy! Also, my small group, River service, cheese, and Mexican food!
8. What was Vietnam like? In the city, it was very crowded, building to building, with many floors. The streets were packed with motorbikes and cars at all times for the most part. There were lots of nice big bridges which means there were lots of bodies of water. People burned their trash curbside and many use water sources to dispose of trash. On the countryside, there were lots of fruit trees and the rice fields were the prettiest most vibrant green you've ever seen. It was cooler there because of the rainy season, but it only rained maybe a week's worth of my month long trip all together. There were many poor people who walk around trying to sell lottery tickets. Also, lots of street vendors walking around trying to sell you stuff. Most things were pretty cheap. The street coffee was yummy. The glass was filled about a quarter full of half sweetened condensed milk and pure coffee syrup and the rest was all ice. You had to wait for the ice to melt and constantly stir it to finally get to drink it, but I enjoyed it a lot!
9. Where do you feel called to serve? I still have no idea. I feel called to go, but I have no idea where. Maybe after my summer of missions I'll have an idea or specific.
10. Where to next? Well, after Vietnam I went to UMARMY and now I'm in Kenya! God only knows what's next!
11. How long was I there? I was there one month, June 3rd-July 3rd.
12. Why Vietnam rather than close to home? Because Vietnam had been on my heart for the past few years. I feel more called to the ends of the earth than I do right here at home. And I do not use that as an excuse not to serve at home. I happen to be very involved in home service as well.

My personal reflection questions:
1. What was most difficult? Could I live life there through those difficulties? The most difficult thing was not being able to talk freely and openly about Christ, the real reason I was there, and how Christ has moved in my life and heart. I couldn't offer them the same hope I have in words. It is purely building relationships hoping that eventually one day they will ask and God will open the door for you to share. It would be very difficult for me to live life like that. I would feel like I was hiding my hope away and possibly have a very hard time knowing that I'm making a difference even if I'm not sharing Christ with others through words.
2. How was God's presence felt and made known? I was filled with peace at all times! I'm a fairly anxious person and meeting new people can be hard for me. But I never struggled at all with that while there. I went to talk rooms on my own and talked with a room full of strangers multiple times. Heather and I were involved in a somewhat minor motorbike accident and I remained completely calm and at peace. Me and another girl were pulled over by the police and I never felt anxious. My heart never raced. It was like I was surrounded by and covered in God's all-surpassing peace! Also, in the friendships I made while there. I miss them!
3. What was I NOT looking forward to getting  back to? I was not looking forward to getting back to the hectic busy lives of everyone in the states. I was not looking forward to losing my evening deep share time with Heather and being in an empty house on my own. I was not looking forward to the lack of simplicity. And in a way, I was not looking forward to the possible bombardment and overwhelming question asking I could return to (but actually didn't experience nearly as bad as I expected).
4. Favorite moments? Definitely loving on the kids at the orphanage was number 1. I also enjoyed working with the children in district 11 teaching English. Open, honest, and real conversations with Heather and being overly welcomed by everyone was also awesome!

Things I liked in Vietnam and would like to have here:
1. Motorbike
2. Community that seeks to spend more time together whether it be playing frisbee on Saturdays or having a meal together or playing games.
3. More affectionate community where we're all not so stand-offish but more willing to reach out physically and love freely.
4. More simple living, less stuff.
5. Cheaper prices. I want my $1 smoothie!
6. More friendly and happy greetings from all

Feel free to leave comments or ask questions in the comments section.

This Time for Africa

I left for Kenya at 11amish on 7/25 and arrived at the Chak hotel in Nairobi around 8pmish on 7/26. Here in Kenya all times have an "ish" after them on the schedule! Those who aren't very patient or have trouble conforming to the Kenyan timetable have really struggled. I have not. Those who know me know I am pretty laid back so that really hasn't been an issue for me. I go with the flow very well. And I really enjoyed visiting with others while waiting! I've struggled a bit with loneliness as I am traveling with an older team and have had a bit of a hard time bonding with them. It is better now that we've worked together for a week, but I still experience bouts of loneliness being cut off from my community and friends since I have no access to WiFi. Sue and Jim have been wonderful and have welcomed us into their home daily. They are Americans who live on the Maua Methodist Hospital grounds and welcome teams. Kenya itself is wonderful. Beautiful trees and landscaping and so much more! The Kenyans are extremely friendly and kind and love to welcome us with open arms! Much like Vietnam they do community very well and love the white people. Unlike Vietnam, Christianity is very well accepted and faith-based signs are everywhere; businesses, cars, churches, and hospitals. This has been a huge faith boost to be surrounded by so much joy and faith

Friday, July 26, 2013

First night

This is the hotel room we stayed in last night. Today will be a very long day of travel by car. Don't know of I'll WiFi at the next place. Very tired, but so ready to really start this trip and meet people and serve!


I'm in Africa! Yay! Temporary WiFi for now at the hotel before I go to bed.


About to load my second plane for Kenya! Amsterdam airport is pretty cool. Wandered it for a bit. They have lots of tulip items for sale here! :o)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Too busy and Kenya

I'm about to load the plane to head to Kenya. I apologize for not updating any but I have been super busy in Kenya prep. I don't know how often I will have internet access while in Kenya but our group has a blog for the trip so feel free to check that out! Hopefully you'll hear from me too though. Group blog is at See you on the flipside!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Goat Brain Hot Pot

Hard to believe it has already been a week since my last entry. I have tried to fill my time up with things of Vietnam since my time is almost over. That meaning that I fill my time with coffee shops meeting new people, English lessons, hanging out with new friends, and deep conversations with Heather rather than get on the computer and waste hours being distracted with anything and everything instead of being fully present here! My days have been very full so I will do my best to remember them and present them in some organized fashion without overwhelming you with too many details! That being said, I'll start with a week ago Friday.

Friday: Up and ready early to go to District 11 and teach a few kids there English class. I've enjoyed this activity a lot. The kids are so funny and eager to work with me! Heather divides them in half and rotates them in working with me or her. After finishing their lessons there, Heather and I headed out to meet Erin and her brother for a Vietnamese lunch. On the way there, we stopped and bought some Lichi and Mangosteen. I tried the Mangosteen for the first time and it was delicious! Loved it! It is Heather's favorite fruit. At lunch I got a type of combo plate which had a few different items on it. I had a sunny-side up egg, rice, quiche, pork, and a spring roll.Very good and flavorful. Erin then wanted us to go bowling with her so we did. Very fun. I think their bowling shoes may have been one size fits all because they just brought four pair and dropped them at our lane for us. We had a great time! But time ran out and we had to say our farewells so Heather could drop me back home and go to work.  I may or may not have spent the evening at Master's Cup again, but can't remember.

Saturday was an early morning. But it was a great day! I went with a group from Heather's church to an orphanage to hang out with and love on kids! It was so much fun! They would just cling to you like their life depended on it. They never wanted to be put down and they would cry if you did. There were times when I had three in my lap at a time while sitting. They were sad when I'd be standing and could only carry one. I had a little girl lay claim to me after we colored. She sat in my lap or rode on my shoulders as we walked and even had her snack in my lap. She was not leaving it for a second because she knew if she did, she'd most likely lose it to another child. Towards the end of our time there and their lunch time she fell asleep on my shoulder as we walked to the cafeteria. So sweet. Absolutely loved my time there. After helping to feed the children their lunch, we got them back to their rooms for showers and nap time and we headed home. That night we cooked spaghetti  and had Luan, one of Heather's roommates, over for dinner. That was a yummy meal!! Well, yummy until we broke out the Durian! Tried Durian for the first time and I did NOT like it. Smelled terrible and didn't taste much better. Also looks pretty gross! I let Heather finish that and I got ice cream out for Luan and me to enjoy!

Sunday: It was my last Sunday at Heather's church before I leave. This weekend we are going out of town and won't be back until Sunday evening. I really enjoyed the message. It was a good one as was worship. Unfortunately, we were out Sunday evening so I didn't get to take part in the River service back home. Me and Heather had a relaxing afternoon at home before meeting Truc Linh for dinner later. We went out for hot pot. Not just any hot pot, but goat brain hot pot. Hot pot is fun because you cook the food at your table and mix in your ingredients to your liking. In our hot pot, we had a goat brain and bone marrow along with lots of fresh greens and noodles. If you haven't seen the pictures yet, just wait. I'll include some at the end of this entry. It looked pretty disgusting, but tasted good. The texture was a little squishy, but like I said, it didn't have a bad taste. After dinner we went to the night market and walked around for a bit and hung out. After leaving there, Heather and I went to a yogurt place to meet Lao. She was wanting him to install some stuff on her computer. We had a yummy fruit and yogurt cup and chatted for a while with him. Finally, we realized how late it was so we headed on home for bed.

Monday Heather and I went to Grace Cafe. We hung out there for a few hours talking with the owner and then one of his employees. She really enjoyed our company and was very sad to see us go. She wanted Heather to leave me there. If the coffee shop hadn't been so far away from home, we probably would have done so, but it was well over 30 minutes away. Too much driving for Heather to make the trip twice. I'm not sure what happened after that. We were going to go to Master's Cup, but then realized it was closed on Mondays. I'm not sure what the rest of the day held. I think we may have just had an afternoon at home. Oh yes, that evening we went to celebrate Thanh's birthday! We went out for smoothies and then karaoke! Their karaoke is quite a bit different from karaoke back home. Here it's just your group that gets put in a room with two tvs and two mics and you spend your time taking turns singing songs! It was fun! We even managed to sneak in a few English songs mixed in with all of their Vietnamese songs!

Tuesday was Oasis (Bible study with the women from Heather's church). We talked about the miracles found in John. Very interesting conversation. After that, we headed over to Highlands Coffee to meet with Emmy and Michael to plan youth Bible study. I always enjoy being a part of those planning meetings. We have a good time as well as have good conversations about the lesson and such. We left for home so Heather could get ready for a few hours of work before English lessons at her home that evening. English lessons were fun. Except that oy, I do not pronounce a lot of my words the way they teach them to say them so I was having a harder time than the learners were with the work!!  We definitely had a lot of fun with it though.

Wednesday was back to District 11 to teach English again! We had a great time again together. Heather says they will be so sad to see me go. We were supposed to go there today, but Heather ended up having to take her bike to the shop to get her tire and handlebars fixed. But we rescheduled class for Monday so I won't miss any time with them! After class, we got drinks with two other teachers and we had a great time chatting, eating fried pineapple and fried taro, and even playing jenga! They are very fun to hang out with! And they know English very well so I don't struggle to stay involved in the conversation! After leaving there we swung by Texas Chicken and picked up some spicy chicken strips to take home. We made some pancakes to go with the strips and it was soooooo delicious!! Heather left for work shortly after that and I went to Master's Cup to hang out and meet people and talk. It's always interesting to hear what the Vietnamese people want to talk about! Never a dull moment! I picked up some biscuits from Texas Chicken on my way home to go with our leftovers dinner night and waited for Heather to come home from work! We had a very random meal of odds and ends and enjoyed every bit of it! And as time has allowed, we stayed up late enjoying real and deep conversation! Wow! I love that! It's great getting to spend time with someone who feels comfortable to stay in the depths of conversation with me every evening!

Thursday was rock climbing day! I went with  the youth leaders and two of their youth to climb this massive rock wall. We had a great morning spent out there doing that. I never made it to the top, but I tried a couple of times. I was just too tired and would reach a point where I just couldn't reach high enough up for the next handhold. Heather was awesome! She made it to the top twice!! After rock climbing we had lunch at KFC before saying bye to the others. Heather and I went to the day market to wander and be overwhelmed by all of the crazy shopkeepers throwing stuff in your face and trying to make you go in to their shop! Wow. So crazy! We left there and headed home for Heather to prepare for work. That evening we had English lessons back at her house. Another fun night of learning and practicing English skills while they presented their homework to the group! While we were all sitting there on the floor, a rat even peaked his head in at us until I yelled RAT!! The rat ran as the others turned and scooted away from where I was pointing! Hahahaha. It was a good laugh! There are lots of rats here in Vietnam. It's kind of fun to watch them scatter as you enter the alley to ride out on the motorbike! Fun in a gross kind of way... We had a rough trip back home, but we made it safe and sound and just kind of hung out for a few hours chatting. We knew our Friday had opened up due to Heather needing to take her bike to the shop so we stayed up late and slept in this morning.

Today has been slow. Kind of sad not to go see the kids in District 11 and also sad that our lunch plans for Pho with the other teachers were canceled too. But I slept the latest ever since being here! Got up around 10am and have just enjoyed a leisure morning sitting around the house. Heather has left for work already and I'm planning to head to Master's Cup to hang out for a bit. She has youth tonight too, so that means I have a lot of free time. What better way to fill it than meeting new people over coffee and letting them practice their English on you?!

Tomorrow we get up early for a 3 hour road trip on motorbikes with a group of friends to visit another town, Lao's hometown. I'm looking forward to the trip and to seeing more of Vietnam. After some sightseeing we'll all spend the night there and go to church together Sunday morning. It sounds like it's going to be very fun!  My time here in Vietnam is quickly coming to an end and it makes me sad. Not that I don't miss home, but just because I feel like there's still so much to do here! But I will be so happy to see my Lucy once I do get to my parents' house on Wednesday! I've missed my Lucy so much! I also can't wait to see all of your faces again and get to talk with you and  be in community with you again! See you soon!