Archive - May, 2009

Week 36: Returning to the States

So, I’m a big fan of transparency and all that bo-jazz.  Therefore, I wanted to let you all know that I will be returning to the States for three weeks next week because I need to meet with my Committee on Preparation for Ministry (CPM) and Presbytery for ordination bo-jazz.  I have to be approved as a “Candidate” and be a Candidate for one year before I can circulate my pastor resume.  Since I’m graduating from seminary exactly a year from now it is important that I become a Candidate soon.  If I don’t come home now I would have to wait until the end of September to seek approval as a Candidate.  Then I would have to wait until September 2010 before I could circulate my pastor resume.  So, I would sit around next summer and wait for permission from my Presbytery to circulate my resume for a Call.  After talking with mentors and some prayer, I feel that coming home for less than a month is a better option than having to wait for three months next summer.  I tried to become a Candidate before I left for Kenya, but encountered some problems.  So, there’s that.  I hope that this explanation will be read so I don’t have to repeat it too many times.

I’ve gone through a really interesting thought process since deciding to come home.  I still wish I wasn’t coming home until my time of service was up.  This led to the fantastic idea of locking myself in a room at my parents’ house and only coming out for the two meetings I need to go to then flying back to Kenya.  I still entertain this idea daily.  However, I have decided since I need to go home that I should take advantage of it and make the most out of it.  I regrettably will not be able to see everyone I want to see, but I still want you to know where I am and why.  I will be able to call people and that call won’t be dropped after one minute which is what happens when I call the States from Kenya usually.

I’ve been away from the States for nine months and am not quite sure what to expect upon return.  Therefore, I’m a bit terrified. I am working on realizing that the world will not stop once I return.  I’ve become accustomed to being the center of attention so that when I walk by, everyone stops and stares.  It will be unusual realizing I’m part of the majority.  I’ve already promised a few friends that when I do have a cultural freakout I will turn my camera on and put it on this blog, so you have something to look forward to.  Besides seeing family and friends, I am most looking forward to eating mom’s cooking and going out to missed restaurants.  I’ve been craving a personal pan pepperoni pizza with no sauce from Pizza Hut since I came to Kenya.  Every time that I would think of it, I would have this deep craving in my gut.  It wasn’t hunger, it was different.  Well, the day I knew I was coming home (a month ago) this feeling started subsiding.  Humorously, food has caused my biggest case of desiring what I can’t have and then not as intensely desiring what I can have.  Funny that human nature… and frustrating.

Back to Kenya

Since returning from Mount Kenya, I’ve been busy starting back up at schools from their month off in April.  It is really good to see all of the students again.  I’ve missed them.  The unusual part for them and for me is that I’ve been bringing and introducing two Foxies to the class and then telling them that I have to go home for a bit.  I ask if there are any questions and each class has asked, “Are you coming back?” and “when exactly are you coming back?”  This has been a good affirmation which has made me feel warm and fuzzy inside and excited about returning to Kenya in June.

One of the main reasons that I wanted to spend a year in another culture was to develop deeper relationships with people from another culture.  I would say to people before I came, “I don’t like just flying in and flying out of a place without getting to know the people.  I want to have deep relationships with these people where we laugh, fight, and experience the whole breadth of relationships.”  I have definitely received what I asked for in the past nine months.  Not surprisingly, when the fights come I don’t like them, but the laughs have far outnumbered the fights.  Bwana Asifiwe! (Praise the Lord!)

Have a good day!

RTQ

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mothers out there.  I want to say a special happy Mother’s Day to my beautiful loving mother!  Today, I blessed her with 26 phone calls because my skype kept cutting out every minute or less because of my slow internet connection.  I bet no other mothers out there can say that your child called you 26 times for Mother’s Day.  That’s an original Mother’s Day gift right there!

I don’t want to write a lot of gushy bo-jazz, so I will write a normal amount of gushy bo-jazz… My mother is amazing!  She takes after her mom in being able to accomplish a ridiculous amount every day and say very wise things simply.  She has always been there for me from getting up at two in the morning when I was working on a paper in high school and needed English teacher mom’s help to being there to watch every basketball game and sermon I’ve preached to answering the phone 26 times when I call in a day.  I’m a mama’s boy and I’m not afraid to say it.  I love you very much mom!

Mom and me:

I also must say Happy Mother’s Day to my Allen mother, Anne Gifford, and to my Austin mother, Sharon Weedon.  Thanks for being “my” mom away from my mom, Happy Mother’s Day!

RTQ

Week 35: Laundry Day Reflections

So, I just finished my three and a half hour escapade of washing all of my clothes by hand which I’m accustomed to now.  My arms and hands ache and are made at me and my hands feel like I’ve been in a pool for the past few days.  Today was different and entertaining because it was the first time that I did my laundry with the new Foxfires.  I really miss Cosmas and I’s laundry time where he would whistle and sing Luo songs like he was having the time of his life while I labored away at an unforgiving task.  Any way, today the Foxies started asking me about how I washed my clothes in the States.  I told them I put my clothes in a washing machine, go do something else for half an hour, move the clothes from the washing machine to the drying machine, do something else for 45 minutes, take my clothes out and I’m done.  They got a big kick out of this obviously.  I decided to be honest with them and told them that a majority of people in the States find washing their clothes a big annoyance especially when they’re younger.  A majority of Kenyans go to boarding schools for high school, so when you’re 14-15 years old you have to start washing your clothes by hand.  I imagined me in high school and some of my youth group kiddos having to wash our clothes by hand and laughed out loud.  We would think it was the end of the world.  This is when Cosmas would always remind me of the women who wash their clothes, their husband’s, and their one to eight kids’ clothes every few days.  This is an example of one of my perspectives that has been extremely transformed by my time in Kenya.

Week 35: Picture of Me on Top of Point Lenana

This picture didn’t make it into the blog yesterday for some reason, but it is me sitting at the tip top of Point Lenana with the highest point of Mount Kenya in the background (second highest place in Africa behind Kilimanjaro).  This is the same place from where I took the video below.  Word.
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Week 35: Climbing Mount Kenya

As previously mentioned, I met two guys at a coffee shop in early March from Oklahoma and Texas, Nick and Mark.  Well, we have gotten together a few times since then and two weeks ago Mark invited me to go climb Mount Kenya with him and his girlfriend.  First thought, “welp, you only live once.”  My boss okayed the trip and as the day approached for us to leave I slowly learned more about what we were doing.  I’m an outdoor kind of guy and love to go camping, but have never been on a serious climb/hike.  Mark’s major in college was Outdoor Ministry, so he is THE outdoor man and gets to say things like, “I know how to do an Eskimo Roll out of kayak, do you?”  So, I started asking Mark what to bring and he told me that I needed clothes for ten degrees and I said, “Celcius, right?”  Nope.  Fahrenheit.  Poop.  Furthermore, I thought we were going with just a guide at first.  No, we had three porters, a cook, and a guide.  We ate like royalty.  Besides the climbing it was the most posh outdoor trip I’ve been on.

The Contestants: Robert, Mark, and Karen (who is strangely the first cousin of a person I went to college and Dwight Mission with)
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Monday – We woke up at 5 AM and were on the road to Mount Kenya getting to Chogoria at around 9 AM.  Then we took an old-school Land Rover from Chogoria to the Park Gate which was 20 miles.  We only got stuck once and it was thoroughly entertaining with the nine of us in there.  We reached the park gate and had lunch and then began our relatively easy 7 km (4.35 miles) first day.  Our camp site was in a cave by two water falls and was absolutely beautiful.

Mark and I at the Edge of the Waterfall:
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It was -5 degrees Celcius (23 F) that night, but we were all warm.

Crazy Cool Flower:
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Tuesday – We had a leasurely day on Tuesday only going 10 km (6.21 miles).

Us Hiking on Day Two:
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Beautiful Waterfall and View on Day Two:
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I got a migraine at some point during our way up and right after lunch my stomach started feeling queezy.  We were now at 14,075 ft. and so I believe me and the altitude weren’t agreeing on life.

Minto’s Hut (where we stayed Tuesday night)
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My migraine got worse so I went to bed at 7 PM which was good because…

Wednesday – we got up at 1:30 AM so we could be ready to climb to Point Lenana.  Point Lenana is the third highest peak of the Mount Kenya peaks at 16,355 ft.  The first two have to be scaled with equipment, so those were not options.  So, by 2:45 AM we were climbing the last 7 km (4.35 miles) to point Lenana.  It was dark (obviously) and about half way I saw the first snow I’ve seen in Kenya which was exciting.  Then the snow and ice became a nuisance.  My altitude sickness got a bit worse as we increased altitude (who’d a figured), but we arrived at Point Lenana just as the sun was rising.  It was about 10 degrees Fahrenheit and windy, but we had plenty of layers on so it was not bad.  We stuck around at the top for about fifteen minutes and then headed back down.

At the top of Point Lenana of Mount Kenya at sunrise:

Mountain Peak Circle Rainbow (note the ice on the bottom left side):
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The down was more annoying than the up because of the ice and rock combination so I took it really slow.  I’m definitely a 25 year old tortoise rather than a hare.  Slow and steady wins the race… or doesn’t get hurt.  We got back to where we had spent the night Tuesday and met our porters and had breakfast.  I was feeling pretty sick, but after lying down for an hour I felt much better.  Then we walked the entire distance we had walked the previous two days back.  Therefore, we walked a total of 18ish miles Wednesday… I slept well.  I was really proud of my body and especially my legs because one has a titanium rod in it and the other has shin splints, not so great.  So, I was proud of my 18ish miles in one day and my legs, good job guys!  We got back to Chogoria later than expected so we had to stay the night there and catch the 5 AM matatu back to Nairobi.

Me in the back of the matatu for the ride home. I hope you’re entertained because I sure wasn’t during this experience, but now looking at the picture I am definitely entertained…
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It’s cool to say that I climbed Point Lenana of Mount Kenya and was at 16,355 ft.  So, I said it, I feel cool now.

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