Archive - August, 2009

Week 47: London: From Matutus to Buses and Trains

Before going to Kenya, I planned to visit two places on my way home Kenya if I had a layover in London, my dad’s only cousin lives in Paris and one of my best friends, Brian, and his wife, Kellie, live in Edinburgh currently.  Things worked out and it didn’t cost anything extra to extend my layover in London, yay.  I have learned that when an opportunity like this presents itself, you better take it!  So, I did.  Then the wheels in my brain started turning (danger!) since I had a month or so of free time I thought maybe I could get a Eurorail pass and see a few places in Europe I’ve always wanted to see without having to fly back over the ocean later, save the environment and money (I’m down!).  Turns out, I can get a Eurorail youth pass as a youth for only two more months because I’m 25 and under.  So, I did.  Furthermore, I am couchsurfing where I don’t have to pay for places to stay and meet really interesting people in the cities I visit.  So, the trip is costing a train pass and basic food.  Amazing.  Opportunity seized.

London

My plane arrived into London at 6 AM and I slept rather well on the eight hour flight up from Nairobi.  I had asked people what they recommended that I do in London.  My old boss and good friend, Allison, recommended going on the open air bus tour of London.  She said, “I know it’s corny and pricey, but it’s worth it.” Allison had spent a year in London as a YAV and said she knew more about London than some Londoners because of the tour.  I only had two days and one night in London so this was a great way to the see the tourist sites and hear about the history of London in a short amount of time.  Furthermore, you can hop off and on the bus for 24 hours.  So, although it was corny and pricey I did enjoy myself.

Westminster Abbey:
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Me and Big Ben:
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Mac Store in London:
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London was also my first experience couchsurfing.  Couchsurfing.org is a website people join like facebook, where they create a user profile, but the ultimate goal is to help people who are traveling find a couch to sleep on wherever they are.  It’s free and the host is supposed to provide the traveler with breakfast, but that’s not the best part.  The best part is meeting and staying with a local person and not in a touristy place.  The experience in a city is completely changed by having someone who lives there host you and give advice on what you may like to see.

My first host was Richard and I was his first surfer which made for a good match.  I got off the open air London tour bus with my 50 lbs of luggage on my back.  I could see the landmark metro stop on my bus tour map from which Richard’s directions started.  I had the mindset of, “I walk three miles or so in Kenya without any problem,” however, I don’t have a 50 lbs bag on my back… I would have been fine, but I didn’t google map the directions and ended up not finding his house and wondering around a bit which is all good, except the bag was with me and my back.  Eventually, I realized I needed to look up the directions he had e-mailed me again and take a break.  So, I walked down the street looking for food and internet.  I found a Pizza Hut (I hate to eat at States’ food places abroad) and went in because they had wifi and I knew I would leave full which is what I was interesting in at the time.  I found my mistake in the directions and made my way to Richards.  I arrived and was very happy to meet Richard who was a very nice man who welcomed me very graciously into his home which was only a ten minute bus ride from the heart of London.

Richard and Me (my first host):
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He was drawn to my profile because it says that I am studying to become a Presbyterian minister and he is very involved in his church.  So, he recommended that the next day I go to see John Wesley’s church, home, and grave.  The next day I did just that.  John Wesley was the founder of the Methodist denomination and is known for his heart being “strangely warmed” when hearing a preface to Romans by Luther.

First, I stopped by the Tower of London, but it cost a lot to get in and didn’t fit well into my thrifty month.  Not a good foot to start off on.  So, I went to John Wesley’s which was not listed on the tourist map, but I fully enjoyed.  I was the only person there when I got there.  I was invited to watch a 20 minute video about Wesley, then given a tour of the church, his house, and his grave.  It was fantastic and much more interesting for me than seeing the Tower of London would have been.

John Wesley’s Pulpit with me in it:
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John Wesley’s Bedroom (where he died):
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John Wesley’s Prayer Room where he would begin his day at 4 AM and end his day as well:
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John Wesley’s Grave:
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I love London and it’s history.  As I was on the bus, I looked to my right at one point and there was a tiny plaque which read, “Here the first post mark was officially posted.”  That’s pretty crazy for a small plaque.

After this I headed back to Richards to get my belongings so I could make my night flight to Paris. I had not seen all that I wanted to see, but there will always be things left over. It is impossible to see it all. Sounds simple, but is terribly hard to learn.

Music: Jackson Squared

Alright, I told myself I would do this while I was in Lodwar, but got distracted somehow.

In Lodwar, I was spotted easily and often as a mzungu (white person).  When I stood up from bed in the morning the first thing I heard was mzungu from the children lining the fence by where we were staying.  I’m use to this to an extent in Nairobi, but not from my bedroom.  So, after two weeks of this I needed some emotional release and I found this through music on the five year old iPod my good friend Brian gave me before I left for Kenya.  So, Jackson Browne and Michael Jackson were my good companions on this trip.

Jackson Browne was my first concert!  Whoo Hoo!  The baby sitter fell through for my little brother and me so my mom stayed home with Patrick and I went with my dad to see Jackson Browne.  I don’t remember much of the concert except that at one point I told my dad that I had to pee, he looked down at me and said, “Are you sure?”  Funny question I had never heard before.  His favorite song had just started so he picked me up and ran with me to the bathroom and back.  This is the only time I can remember my dad picking me up because he has a bad back.  So, that’s why I remember my Jackson Browne concert.

This song is amazing!  My favorite line is “Honey you really tempt me, you know the way you look so kind.”  Also, the age and the years he mentions are the same age my dad was in those years.  He and Jackson Browne are the same age.  Enjoy!

Here is the song I had to pee during… Amazing!:

Michael Jackson died… not cool. Kenya helped me reconnect with one of my favorite musicians because he was played in every matatu and you would walk by a restaurant and hear his music. So, thank you Kenya and Michael for the good times.

The true introduction of Michael Jackson as a solo artist with the first moon walk the year I was born:

The best choreographed music video in my humbled opinion of all time… ever… humbled (try to ignore the lyrics written in or watch it seven times like I do)(Warning: violence):

Remembering Henry

June 26, 2009, Henry, a student at ByGrace, died at the age of seven and a half.  I haven’t written about him because I’ve been struggling with this for the past month, but it is a big part of my time in Kenya.

Henry was six when I met him at ByGrace in early October of 2008.  He stood out because of his infectious smile.  He didn’t talk much, but would smile like crazy when you asked him how he was doing or talked to him.  I would always play the teddy bear game with him, where if he got to close to me I would pick him up and put him in my lap and tell him he was my teddy bear named George and say, “I shall love you and pet you and call you George.”  He would escape and then walk by close to me so I would catch him again.

Then I started teaching computer classes in 2009.  After a few classes the preschoolers persuaded their teacher to ask me to teach them as well.  So, I would teach the five preschoolers for half an hour before the older students.  Henry was my best student.  He understood English very well and would help his classmates who didn’t know English yet.  In February, Henry went to the hospital for almost an entire month.  When he finally came back, he had lost a lot of weight, but he still had his infectious smile.  I was in Lodwar when we learned that Henry had died after some time in the hospital.  Luckily, everyone at AEE knew Henry because… he was Henry.  So, we were able to mourn together.

Henry had no parents, but ByGrace was his family.  So, I would ask that you please keep the students and teachers of ByGrace in your thoughts and prayers as they continue to deal with and mourn Henry.

Henry during Computer class:
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