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Week 28: Chester the Cheetah

Preface to “Chester the cheetah:” First, there are now 3 Foxies: Steve, Sam, and Belah.  Second, to understand this story it is important to know that every house, apartment complex, and compound in Nairobi is fenced in with multiple guards, some are 24/7 while others are just night guards.  AEE has 2 who are here just during the night.  They are very friendly, but do not speak much English.  Since the new Foxies are here they have been talking with the guards every night.  Thus concludes thy preface.

This week Steve, the joyful joking Foxie, was talking to me at dinner and said out of the blue, “the guards told me that there is a cheetah that keeps coming on the compound at night.”  I dismissed this comment as Steve trying to joke with the foreigner and a joke that I would likely pull on him given the opportunity.  Welp, the joke didn’t last too long because the next day a truck came with a big ole cheetah trap and put it in the opposite corner of the compound from our Quonset hut.

Cheetah Trap with me on top:
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Cheetah Bait:
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So, there is a cheetah who visits our compound sometimes at night now.  I have lovingly named him “Chester” and the foxies and I keep joking about if anyone has met Chester.

As I mentioned above the cage is in the opposite corner of the compound from where I live which gave me some comfort.  Welp, that changed, I walked into the kitchen one day and asked Wanyama something about the cage, he got upset and said that the cage delivery people had put it in the wrong place because it was supposed to go in the opposite corner right by my room because that’s where the guards said Chester keeps coming in and out of the compound.  Good-bye comfort.

In closing, please don’t be alarmed.  I am quite safe being too big and loud to be considered food or a fun chase by a cheetah.  However, I must admit that I’m not used to hearing that there is a chetah hanging out where I live.

Week 27: Basketball and Computers

Basketball

I’ve started coaching the St. Hannah’s Boys basketball team every Tuesday for an hour and a half.

St. Hannah’s Boys Basketball Team
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I was a bit hesitant at first because coaching a team is a pretty big commitment and I am only available to be with them once a week, but I caved.  So, after only practicing with them twice they asked me to accompany them on Saturday to another school to coach them in a game.  I have never coached a basketball team before, but I have been impressed by how much I remember from my years of being coached.  I really like coaching basketball!

Saturday, we drove to the other side of Nairobi to a National high school.  Without any prior knowledge, I discovered this team was Kenya’s national championship high school basketball team.  St. Hannah’s had never been coached before besides the two practices I led.  Therefore, we played a long game which resulted in us losing 124-14.  After the first minute of the game, they forgot everything I taught them in our 2 practices.  Furthermore, I found out after the game that this was the first basketball game that St. Hannah’s had ever played against another school.  The teachers said that if I hadn’t been there to coach them then they would have lost 200-0.  Playing against the best high school team in Kenya probably wasn’t the best starting point, but now we know what level the best in Kenya play at and I think the team realizes how important it is for us to get the basics down.

After the game, the other team was a bit cocky…obviously.  Therefore, I decided to walk over to their bench and challenge the other team’s coach to a game of 1 on 1 in front of his team with the agreement that whoever won would get 100 points for there team.  I beat him and I think the team felt a little bit better.  I was very proud of the St. Hannah’s team for playing very hard throughout the entire game and not getting upset after a long game.  124-14 is a pretty good whooping.

At practice this week they were more focused than our first two practices.  However, as I was teaching them new drills it was really hard for them to get them down.  We’re starting with the basics which are difficult when it is your first time to experience them, so I look forward to working with them through July and seeing how far they progress.

Computers

On Mondays, I journey to ByGrace Orphanage and School for most of the day to teach computers.

Computer Class at ByGrace
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There are 15 students with 5 computers.  This was only our second class so we are still working on the basics.  This week we spent a majority of our time on typing correctly using a typing game that I downloaded and could only install on the 2 XP computers (the other 3 Win98 PCs don’t have USB ports so I spent some of my day in Ngong looking for a 3.5 inch floppy disk (never thought I would be seeking a 3.5 floppy again), but the game was too big for the floppy).

I had them all practice their typing skills for an hour on the 2 XP computers.  The game beeps whenever you push a key you’re not supposed to, so it was basically an hour long beep.  As I said with basketball basics, the basics are tough when you first learn them, but I have/had forgotten how tough it is/was to learn the basics because it was so long ago for me.  I am excited about continuing to work with the kiddos and to also see how far they have progressed through July.

I really enjoy being able to share so many of my gifts throughout the week.  I am a preacher, Bible Study leader, high school teacher, middle school teacher, guitar/music teacher, computer teacher, and basketball coach.  That’s a pretty good resume and I’m not sure where else I would be able to use such an array of gifts.

Week 26: March B-days, Benjamin Button, and Mid-West Connection

Sunday night we had a birthday gathering because 3 people from our group were born in March.  We had Nyoma Choma (BBQ) that was brought around on sword dealies.  It was good.  I ate a lot and we had really good dessert after as well.  Since my usual diet consists of mainly rice, it was a change.  They had a show after dinner with dancers and acrobats.  The acrobats were crazy cool.  They stacked each other 4 people high and swallowed fire…you know, the usual.  I was a bit concerned the entire time the acrobats were out being a person who has compound fractured his right tib/fib, so I enjoyed it while saying a silent prayer.

Monday night I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I had been told that I should go and see it, but had no idea what it was about so it was a delightful surprise that I really enjoyed it.  I forgot that I was in Kenya during the movie and thought I was back in the States…funny feeling.  It is based in New Orleans which brought back memories of my visits there.  One of my best friends, Brad Willis, and I drove through New Orleans on our way home from visiting his sister in Florida in the summer of 2002.  Then after Katrina I returned to participate in a project called RHINO (Rebuilding Hope in New Orleans) which gave me another perspective of New Orleans.  Later, I was on a planning committee for a big interdenominational conference in New Orleans so I flew there and spent the weekend in New Orleans 3 times over a year a half with the Presbyterian Church paying for my food so I sampled Mother’s, The Red Fish, and some other New Orleans’ goodies.  It was interesting how many memories were flushed out and the connection I had with a city half way around the world.

Last Friday, I was at Dorman’s Coffee Shop which has become my usual Friday routine (they have really fast internet, comparatively).  Any who, 2 wazungu walked in and one had an Oklahoma State University hat on.  Therefore, I asked if he went to Oklahoma State and it turned out that one was from Enid, OK and had gone to OSU and the other was born in Austin, TX, had gone to high school in Round Rock, TX, and then went to John Brown (where a lot of my high school friends went to college).  So, we hit it off and became best Kenya friends.  Being half way around the world together speeds up the process.  They had just arrived the day before and still had that washing and drying machine clothes smell.  They have come to work at an orphanage in the Thika on the other side of Nairobi.  We cracked a lot of movie jokes and other jokes that are mid-west US relevant.  It was amazing and very refreshing.

The next week I received a text message telling me to meet them at Dorman’s again and asking if they could come to AEE and spend 2 nights with me.  So, they did.  They are both my age and play guitar.  Mark is better than me and Nick is not.  So, Mark would teach me some theory and then I would teach it to Nick which helped me learn it more thoroughly.  It was fantastic to start playing a song and then have Mark join me on guitar and both of them singing along with the lyrics.  I didn’t realize how much I miss jamming out on songs that everyone in the circle knows.  Mark taught me more on guitar than I have learned in the past year in 2 days which is pretty amazing.  It was basically a lot of music theory that I knew an abridged version of, welp, not anymore.  So, that was my amazing mid-west connection.

Me, Mark, and Nick
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Me, Mark, and Nick again
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Friday, two new Foxies (Foxfires) came and moved in on the other side of the wall.  Steve is the tall, happy, singing one.  He reminds me of me when I was fresh out of high school.  Sam is reflective and very intellectual, but goofy and funny too.  They seem to get along with each other well and I like them.  It is unusual having roomies again.  I am excited they are here!

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.

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