Archive - February, 2009

Week 25-3: Movies

Did you know that if I were to leave all of my bo-jazz behind for a year these are the only movies I would bring with me…apparently?  (I should have brought more…)

  1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy – Extended Versions (of course!)
  2. The Notebook
  3. Braveheart
  4. Love Actually
  5. The Patriot
  6. Big Fish
  7. Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves
  8. The Lion King
  9. Aladdin

That’s it!  What movies would you bring with you if you were leaving for a year?  Let me know.  Let’s talk.

Week 25-2: Thank You Teachers!

>Friday morning is the one morning I have a class to teach at 8 AM.  For some reason this morning was one of those mornings where I did NOT want to get out of bed!  For some reason I was just exhausted and unenergized.  As I was tying my shoes I started thinking about all of the teachers and professors I have had throughout my 25 years of life.  I know that all of them had mornings where they woke up and did NOT want to get out of bed!  They had a fight with their loved one the night before, they felt sick or were sad, and had many other reasons for staying in bed, but they did NOT!  All of them got out of bed each day to teach and mentor me and in this I found energy and strength.  I felt my steps grow stronger as I walked to teach in the footsteps of all who taught me.  So, I want to thank every teacher I’ve ever had and all of the teachers of the world for getting out of bed every morning they go to teach.  Amen.

Week 25: Jars of Clay

A few weekends ago, I received a text telling me that Jars of Clay (a popular Christian Band) was coming to Nairobi and asking me if they should buy me a ticket.  I replied with a, “heck yes!”  My mind then went through my relationship with Jars of Clay since high school.

Jars of Clay was the first Christian band I really liked (or liked at all).  One of my best friends, Josh Reese, was listening to the CD in his room one day and I asked if I could borrow it.  I did, for a long long time.  Their self titled CD is in my top 5 CDs of all time.  Check it out if you haven’t heard it before.

Jars of Clay was the beginning of my relationship with Christian music.  Furthermore, as I have grown in college and seminary they are one of the Christian bands which I have not put aside because of theological differences.

My senior year of high school I saw them at the end of the week of 9/11, my friend Chad Steele and I went to Oklahoma City to see them.  I was really confused and upset at this time.  This concert was a good worship experience during a very trying time.  The most powerful part was when they played my favorite song of theirs, worlds apart.  I have put a version below for your viewing pleasure.

Worlds Apart by Jars of Clay

At the end of my senior year of high school, I went to see JoC with the FPC of Tulsa youth group.  My good friend, Cole Penick, and I had been an exchanging a fake arm for many years.  I had received a fake arm as a joke present for my birthday and decided to give it to Cole who in turn gave it to me and so on and so forth.  Well, Cole won backstage passes to meet Jars of Clay.  For a graduation present, he brought the arm with him to meet Jars of Clay and had the entire band sign it and gave it to me.  Thus ended the exchange of the fake arm.

My freshmen year of college I wanted to take my first college girlfriend to see Jars of Clay because we both loved them.  I bought tickets online to see them at Six Flags for $10 each which I thought was a steal!  Well, it was…  We drove the hour and a half to Six Flags and I presented our tickets.  The ticket lady said that these were just the tickets for the show and that we had to pay the extra $50 each to get into the park first and then we could go see the show.  I beleive that she saw the horror on my face and took pitty on me.  She ended up letting us in for free (I thanked her a lot, but I think she realized that I did not have $100 to my name at this point and time).

This brings us to the present as I am serving as a volunteer in Kenya.  When I walk into the kitchen at AEE and there is a mzungu on the TV I always say that I know them, as a joke (the stereotype in Kenya is that all white people (foreigners) know each other).  Well, I walked into the kitchen last week and said my usual line, but this time I wasn’t lying.  I couldn’t place him at first, but it was Dan,  the lead singer of Jars of Clay, on the morning talk shows.  I finally did know a mzungu on TV.

The concert was great.  They had a lot of opening acts who were very energizing and sang some songs completely in Swahili which was interesting.  I have been to a lot of churches where people are singing in Swahili, but never a concert.  It’s different and interesting.  Everyone is rocking out and agreeing with whatever the singer is saying, but I had no idea what they were talking about…

Jars of Clay came out and we went up to the front and I had the best seat (well, I was standing) I’ve had in my 5 Jars of Clay concerts.  (If I can only get Dave Matthews Band to come now)  Kenyan radio mainly plays Western music and they have Christian stations so the Kenyans all knew Jars of Clay’s music which they didn’t expect.  I am glad that they came and I was able to see experience a concert in Kenya by a band that I love.

I have included a video with a quick view of the room.  I forgot I was in Kenya at some points, but looking around at the crowd reminded me where I was very quickly.

Jars of Clay singing Love Song for a Savior

Week 24: Computer Time, Basketball, and Retreat

ByGrace Computer Time

Monday was my first computer class with 15 students at ByGrace Orphanage and School.  It was amazing!  Nobody knew how to turn the computer on, so we started out there.  I tried to have them talk with one another by typing questions and answers, but I forgot to explain how lots of things on the keyboard work.  I never realized how much computer knowledge is taught knowledge.  We spent the last half hour of class using Paint and playing Minesweeper.  4 of the computers run Windows 98 and 1 runs XP.  I am excited about continuing to teach them more each week about something that gives me so much joy.  I can tell there are a few computer nerds in there already…

St. Hannah’s Boys Basketball

I went to play basketball at St. Hannah’s for the first time this week.  It was a lot of fun.  It was once again one of the most civil games of basketball I have ever played.  They had some good players.  They were a bit dumb founded by a 6 foot 5 mzungu playing with them.  I dunked a few times in the games, but there wasn’t any hooping and hollering like in the States.  They all smiled and poked each other though.

After the game I told them I would like to set up a more structured way they could play each other next week which the Principal asked me to do.  I don’t like coming in and saying I know how to do this better let me show you, but I think that this could be a fun interaction between the students and me.  We shall see.

Mombasa

Well, I am off next week for Mombasa again.  AEE is having an all staff retreat.  So, I will post when I can.  I have stopped carrying my camera around as much because I am more relaxed here and a Zebra is just another Zebra now.  Also, I didn’t want to meet the students and say here’s a camera!  But I will start taking pictures again shortly.  For now my words will have to do.

Have a great day!

Week 23: Schools and Valentines

ByGrace

This week was my first full week back at schools.

I spent Monday at ByGrace Orphanage and School setting up a computer lab with the hand-me-down computers from AEE.  When I was working on the last one, the power went out which meant no more computer time.

Getting to ByGrace is an interesting journey.  Rather than going towards Nairobi, I take a matatu away from Nairobi for about 20 minutes.  Then I walk through the small town of Ngong into the vast Maasai land for about 30 minutes.  I usually get some really interesting looks as I walk along the path in Maasai land.

The reality is that 99% of white people in the Nairobi area own a car and so to see white person walking 2-3 miles is quite the site for everyone.  Glad to entertain.

St. Hannah’s Girls

I go to St. Hannah’s Girls school twice a week:

First, I teach an hour and a half class session (Kenyans call it counseling).  This was my first time to teach solo in Kenya.  Sometimes Kenyans have a hard time understanding me.  Therefore, I start out every class with something like, “if you can understand me put your hand on your head.”  Usually about 75% of the class follows my directions while the other quarter looks around at everyone like they’re crazy.

This first class I decided to talk about lying.  I had good participation and threw in as many stupid Robert moments as possible.  When I finish a statement I say, “Salwa Salwa?” which means “OK OK?” in Swahili to see if they understand me.  If I’m really into it I throw some Karate chops into it.  I was told the next week that all the students keep saying “Salwa Salwa” like me which I think is good…

My favorite part of the class is afterwards when individuals come up and talk with me and I get to know the kiddos.  The first conversations always involve questions about the US.  However, the girls were also really interested in what music I listened too.

Second, I was invited to their worship service which they have weekly.  My first visit to their worship service was interesting (I expected nothing less).  I really wanted to be an observer and not the “main attraction” during my first visit.  I want to be a part of their service, how it is now, and not the person who comes in with new ideas and changes everything.  But, that’s not the way it works in Kenya.

The service began with the 125 girls singing and dancing.  They had a really cool Swahili song they did with the electric slide worked in.  The singing was amazing.

Then they asked me to say hello and a few words.  So, I preached a short sermonette.  Then we moved on to singing again and the leader walked over and asked “do you have any songs you want to sing?”  I said, “well, my guitar is in the car if you want me to get it I can.”  So, I went and got my guitar.  We sang 2 songs and after each the girls cheered like I was Justin Timberlake.  I said in my head “they’re cheering for you God, not me.”

St. Hannah’s Boys

I go to St. Hannah’s Boys school twice a week as well.

First, I teach an hour and a half class here too.  The boys seem to be a little more interactive so far, but we’ve only met twice.  I spend a good amount of time sticking around afterwards and answering questions.

The first week were all questions about the US.  “I heard that every student has a laptop and you don’t ever use paper.”  “Would you say that life is easier in the US?”  “Does it look richer?”  “Is it really like (insert movie/tv show/song)?”

I have found that many Kenyans view the US as a place with no problems where everybody has lots of money.  This is frustrating to deal with, but is very true when you define problems as not having any money, needing food, and clean water.  Also, when you define having money as the US minimum wage.

Second, I have been invited to come and play basketball with the kiddos during their recreation time.  So, I will start that next week.  The Principal wants me to be the coach…but we’ll see.

St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas is a primary school that is very close to AEE.  I teach the 7th and 8th graders for 35 minutes each week.  This is the only mixed gender school I lead counseling classes at which makes it interesting.

They are a little more shy.  Our first class was on how much God loves them and how special they are.  This is the only school out of my 3 that I can teach Biblically based lesson.  The St. Hannah schools have Muslim students and I am glad to see that the schools are respectful of the Muslim students.  However, I never realized how hard it is to teach morals and other bo-jazz without making any Biblical references.  I guess I am too used to teaching Sunday School.

So, that’s my school program currently.  I really love solo teaching, but am excited about the Foxfires coming and getting more schools for them to work in.

Weekend

This past weekend was amazing! (People wise and food wise)  Friday night we had a Presbyterian Missionaries of East Africa get together.  The food was delicious and the company was even better.

I am learning that my one year of service is very small when compared with others.  Most of the people (besides YAVs) had at least over 5 years of service.  I talked with a few who were 22 years and up.  Yikes!

Valentine’s Day was very nice as well.  Our coordinator had us over for a Valentine’s dinner.  The food was once again amazing and the company was as well.  I ate enough Mac & Cheese to make my tummy hurt.  (I’d/I’ll do it again because I love Mac & Cheese)

Sunday I made it almost to dinner without realizing I was hungry because I had such large meals Friday and Saturday night.  Bwana Asifiwe!  (Praise the Lord!)

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