Friday, May 22, 2009

New Ministries, Planting Trees, and Slaughtering Chickens

Dearest ones,

The past two weeks have gone by so quickly. It feels like I just wrote an update, but it seems like it is time for a new one. Life is going very well and I am feeling quite at home in Kakamega. I have been receiving a lot of emails and letters from the US which has been nice and would like to thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers.

I have been eating many of the fruits that grow around my house and my office and have been enjoying them greatly, but if i am not careful I will get sick on avacadoes. It is the rainy season and our crops are growing, so our corn will definitely be "knee high by July" which is good news. It is interesting to be a part of a community where life rides on the ammount of crops that your land produces. We pray everyday for crops and rain, something that I used to find myself taking for granted.

Two weekends ago I attended a Youth Seminar in the Bungoma Division and was one of the special guests. This was a really good time of worship, teaching, and fellowship. We arrived on Friday and were welcomed by a group of youth leaders who were there for a youth training seminar. The greeted us with flowers and then had us plant memorial trees on the property. My Captains and I had a very good time dancing and singing with the youth. After dinner, the youth worshipped with singing and dancing late into the night, and it was a beautiful sight to see.

On Saturday and Sunday we held a seminar for all of the youth of the Division and had a good open air meeting and march with these youth. They love to march down the road in their uniforms and sing loudly. Even though the seminar was for teenagers and young adults, about 40 little children came gave me the opportunity to play "What time is it Mr Lion?" (because none of them know what foxes are). At the end of this weekend we were given a turkey which decided to scream the whole ride home and relieve itself all over the white uniform of my captain.

The following weekend we had a meeting for a program called ICPSS (or PSS) which stands for Integrated Community Psycho-Social Support and is a program that works for the Social and Emotional healing of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC's). This program seeks to bring healing to children whose families have been affected by HIV/Aids, extreme poverty, or other factors. This program has been dormant for the past year, since the Kenya Salvation Army split into the East and the West, and currently has no funds. However, there are still many trained facilitators and people who are dedicated to this program so our department is doing what we can to restart it. It was great to have all of these people come together for one purpose and to see their hearts for these youth.

(Sidenote: My showerhead had huge calcium deposits on it so I was attempting to clean it yesterday. I found out online that if you take vinegar, heat it up in the microwave, and then put in the shower head, the vinegar will eat away the calcium. However, I really love salt and vinegar chips and I sniff vinegar whenever it is around. So before heating the vinegar I sniffed it and it was very pleasant and then after heating it I sniffed it and I think I burned some nose hairs or something, because I still feel the after effects in my nose 19 hours later.)

Yesterday, the band led a procession through the entire town of Kakamega in order to plant trees for "Plant Trees Day". This was a good time of ministry and meeting people from other churches and NGOs.

Also, I prepared by first chicken. It was given as a gift to the Commissioners (the head of the Salvation Army in Kenya West) and I was given the opportunity to prepare it as a Kenyan would. It was my first time killing a chicken, and it did not go very smoothly, but it didnt go horribly bad either. I then had the opportunity to partake in the "most delicious" parts of the chicken - its head, neck, and legs.

God has been very good to me and I am feeling more comfortable in Kenya each day. But living alone is starting to get to me. This is the first time that I have ever lived alone, plus I am a community minded person, so it is a little bit hard and strange for me.

Please pray for:
-My family
-Living alone
-My ministry here and that laziness would not overtake me
-For continued rainfall and our crops

Much Love,

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

VBS, Seminars, Angry Cows, and Busyness

Hello Friends,
It has been about a month since I have updated and for that I apologize. A mixture of busyness, forgetfulness, and lazyness has caused me to wait so long. But many things have happened. Life if going very quickly now and I am finding my groove here in Kenya West.

Since my last update I have been very busy with a lot of programs. On April 11th We had a meeting for our young people who will be traveling to Sweden next year for the World Youth Convention. We found out that getting passports in Kenya is a very long and tricky process, involving many different government offices and paperwork. So we decided to start now. This was a good time of getting to know some youth from around the Territory. We will be sending 20 youth from our Territory to the Conference, which is an International Salvation Army Youth Conference. We learned a timbrel routine and everyone was amazing at Timbrels, except for the TYS and I.

The following weekend we had a DYO Seminar, which was a seminar for the Divisional Youth Officers (they are in charge of the youth work within an area of the Territory). This was a great time to learn about issues of youth work in the divisions and to teach the DYOs what we expect for them to do. It was an odd feeling because I was treated as their superior (sort of like upper management) even though they are doing all of the actual practical work and are much older than I. I really had a good time with those DYOs.

During the DYO seminar my friends Keri Shay and Kaitlin came to Kakamega to see me. They were traveling around Africa and decided to see the Kenyan Wildlife. It was really nice to see some friends and we went and saw the Crying Stone. Which is a giant stone which constantly cries (duh). While they were here, there was a Territorial Meeting for Self-Denial, which is a meeting where everyone from Kenya West gets together and gives money to The Salvation Army around the world. Our Territory raised over 3 Million Shillings (which is about $40,000). We had a good time dancing and singing with the people of the Territory, and it was a good time of worship and fellowship.
The following weekend I had a chance to be the guest speaker at a Zonal youth meeting. This was a meeting where the youth from 7 different corps (churches) got together and had a crusade (which is a like an open-air march/parade with dancing and singing) and had a youth meeting where they had speakers, teachings, and dances. The youth here love Gospel Dances, which are special dances that are a mixture between contemporary and tradition Kenyan Dances which are set to Christian Praise songs. The highlight of this meeting was the debate that took place. The youth split in two and had a debate on faith and healing, with each side using scripture to support their ideas. It was great to see people using the Bible to make their points and then people correcting others when they used scripture out of context. It was guided by the DYO who ended the debate by teaching them our doctrines.

The following week was a very busy, but great week for me. I was out in the field all week doing VBS with a local corps (church). The Vacation Bible School was for five days and was held the week right before the youth went back to school. I went out into the slums with the corps members and taught the youth about the Bible and played games with them. My favorite part was going on visitations after the lessons. We would walk each child home and pray for them, their house, and their family. To walk one young person home we had to walk over 3 miles, but it was worth it to see him active in the corps.

During VBS, I was playing soccer in a field and there was a cow tied to the goal post eating the grass of the field. Someone kicked the ball and it was headed straight for the cow. so I ran as fast as I could to kick it out of the way before it got to the cow. I reached the ball, kicked it out of the way, and turned my back on the cow, i was about 5 feet from her. The next thing i know, The cow headbutts me on the back of the thigh and puts her head in between my legs, throwing me up onto her back. So, i was attacked by a cow while playing soccer with some 10 year olds.
This past Sunday was a really good service. There was a youth talent show at church which involved 7 gospel dances, many acapella singers, two rap groups, and a young man who drew a bird and a caricature of our officer (pastor). I love being a part of a church that cares so much about their youth, I feel very honored and fortunate.

Also, in the past month my dad and his wife had a baby and I now have a little brother. His name is Titus.

I have a new favorite store in Kakamega. It is a wedding store and out in front is a sign that says "We sell everything you need for Weddings" and underneath is a list of things that they sell. Number 2 on the list is Boyz 2 Men.

Please pray for:
-Useful and creative ideas
-The Youth of my Territory
-My Family

Much Love,