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Coming to America and Scrubs

Saturday morning, I get a call from my parents at 9:15 AM Kenya time.  So, my first thought is, why are my parents up at 1:15 AM? I ask my dad what’s up and he responds frankly, “well, Coming to America came on TV and so your mother refused to go to bed until it was over.” Yes, Coming to America, the amazing movie about an African prince who comes to New York looking for true love starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall and featuring Samuel L. Jackson (the robber) and Cuba Gooding, Jr. (doesn’t even speak, just sits in barber’s chair).  Any who, I think it’s awesome that my parents still stay up until 1 in the morning when a life-changing movie comes on, especially since my mother instigated it.

Coming to America trailer:

Today, I was working on something and I heard Scrubs come on the television in the room next to me.  Apparently it comes on every Tuesday at 1:30 now.  I ran into the common room and sit down and watch Scrubs with the Foxies.  I was laughing like crazy and the Foxies were just looking at me like I was a crazy person from the States, which I am.  Kenyan humor and States humor is very different.  Furthermore, I have learned that most people from the States are very loud compared to Kenyans, hence my incessant laughter and loudness.

The humor in Scrubs is the same kind of humor my brain operates in, but most Kenyans don’t understand me when I am in Scrubs humor mode so I’ve learned how to tame it… most of the time.  Today’s episode featured random singings of the song, All By Myself, which is one of my favorite things to do randomly.  So, I decided to end with this nice little video of our good friend Celine singing us the tune because it’s the most ridiculous version I could find on YouTube.

Celine Dion 1997 Grammys:

Week 30: Musings in the Number of Four

The Awkwardness of Newly Arrived Goods and Rachel

Rachel came bearing gifts (thanks Rachel) which I told her we do not have in Kenya.  However, when we went to the store while she was here this was not the case.  The first day, she found off brand Mac & Cheese and Shells called MagicTime from Florida (the Mac & Cheese is good, the Shells cheese is NOT Velveeta).  I looked at her and said, “that’s new.”  Later in the week, she found Skippy Peanut Butter from the States and once again I looked at her and said, “that’s new.”  This is when she started rolling her eyes at me.  Then as we were walking out, I decided to check the cereal aisle for Honey Bunches of Oats (HBO) because Rachel (other YAV) has been searching for them since we came to Kenya.  I have looked for HBO at every store I have gone to in the past seven months to no avail, but this day was different.  I went down the cereal aisle and there it was, two rows of HBO 15 boxes deep.  I got really excited and started calling the Gatundu girls to tell them I had found treasure.  They didn’t answer, so I checked my wallet and bought as many boxes of HBO as my wallet would allow.  Therefore, with Rachel comes food treasures…and doubt about what Kenya does and does not have.  I went to the store this week and the HBO is down to one row with five boxes.  My speculation is that a magical barge came full of goodies from the States recent, but now our treasures are selling out.

The First YAV Man Night

Friday night was Man Night.  It was glorious.  Shelvis, Henry, and I watched Obama on Leno, Michael Jackson music videos, and then Usher music videos, very manly!  We ordered lots of pizza and ate like Kings.

Michael Jackson can dance:

Kenya Pizza:

Splash and YAV Dinner

Saturday morning, we went out to a big manly breakfast and then to the Nairobi water park (with some women), Splash.  They have two pretty good winding slides, the white slide and the black slide, and apparently no rules.  We were going down six people at a time which was a lot of fun.  I ended up climbing the stairs and going down the slide 12 times and after that was spent.  Shelvis and Henry went down 35 times!

That night the seven YAVs got together at Leslie’s for the first time in a month.  It was really nice for all of us to be together again and catch up.  The night ended in the way every YAV night ends with games: Concentration, Categories, and Big Booty.

Big Booty:

Andy’s Pizza Party

Sunday, I went to church and felt my 12 slide trips.  I went home after church and took a nap.  That afternoon we went to a play about a Kenyan person with physical disabilities and what her life is like in Kenya.  It was very interesting to experience a play here and also to see how they presented people with physical disabilities.

Sunday night we went to Andy’s apartment for pizza.  Andy is a Lutheran missionary who works in Madagascar, but has had to leave since the problems there.  The conversation and Andy’s children, who are three and nine, was very entertaining.  Most of the night was spent getting shot with Spiderman’s web and sticking to the wall.  Yeah, it was as amazing as it sounds.

The Seven YAV’s:

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 12: Thanksgiving, Henry’s Back, and Mfangano Island

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving family and friends!  I was blessed to spend mine with the Kenya YAVs and we had an amazing dinner that our site coordinator made for us!  Mac and Cheese, Lots of Meat, and Apple Pie, praise Jesus!  It is very interesting how what I am thankful for has changed since I arrived in Kenya and completed my hospital chaplaincy this summer.
Henry’s Back
One of the YAVs Henry is back with us so we are all very excited!  Shelvis and I went to the airport Saturday night to pick him up.  When he came out where everyone was waiting, Shelvis and I busted into Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror chorus” very loudly and surprised Henry.  It was fantastic to see him and an added bonus that our reuniting included 100 Africans (mainly) staring at us as we sang MJ and rubbed each other’s beards from beardvember.
Shelvis, Henry, and Robert’s song:

The Journey to the Island

Sunday morning, Cosmas, Bill, and I woke up and left AEE by 6 AM.  We hopped on a charter bus in downtown Nairobi which drove us west at stomach curdling speeds.  I felt left out because everybody had a kid on their lap, but I did not. It was a 5 hour bus ride (usually 8) and on it I learned that to Kenyan children I am more interesting to stare at than 7 Zebra, but not 10.  After the bus ride, we took a taxi for 2 hours which was made for 5 people, but contained 10.  The taxi dropped us off at Cosmas’ uncle’s house and we visited with him.  The tradition in Kenya is that it is rude to have someone visit you and not offer them something to eat.  However, the last boat to Mfanano Island was about to leave and people kept calling Cosmas and telling him so, but his Uncle kept telling him we had to eat.  Thus, Cosmas and I ate very hot food with his Uncle before a motorcycle appeared at the front door which whisked us off to catch the boat.  When we arrived at the shore, the boat was already in the middle of the bay so I thought “our ship has sailed,” but apparently not in Lake Victoria.  It turned around and came back for us, Cosmas and I took off our shoes, waded out to the boat, and climbed in.  Once in the boat, we traveled for an hour and a half arriving at Mfanano Island at 6 PM.
Mfangano Island – Cosmas’ Island
As I got off the boat and walked up the shore of the island I felt like I was in an episode of LOST, or at least on that island.  We walked for 20 minutes and I didn’t see any homes or people, just the path we were following.  The island is beautiful and has 2 great hills in the middle which are covered in trees.  There is no power on the island which consists of  around 30,000-40,000 people.  This led to plenty of questions about how everything works.  My favorite answer was to recharge their cell phones they take them to a kiosk where they pay 20 Shillings (a quarter) to have their phone recharged.  The island is expected to receive power sometime in the next year.  The power lines are already up, but there is still a lot of work to be done.  The community is made up of mainly fisherpeople and I have found them to be extremely welcoming.

The Island

The Boat Ride to the Island
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Cosmas and I are staying with his pastor, Pastor Felix, and sleeping in a new school that the church has built.  Monday morning, I awoke to Pastor Felix telling me that there was warm water ready for me to bathe with.  So, I practiced the art of bathing from a basin again.  This style is not made for the 6’5 I have determined, but I am getting better at it as time goes on.  Cosmas called a motorcycle which took us to the other end of the island so he could show me the shopping center and the other islands.  I tried to explain to him how he had grown up on a tropical paradise and he just laughed at me and said, “no, no, no.”
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I had kept telling everyone that I hadn’t seen a snake yet and I thought that was weird.  Welp, I found one.  So, the most interesting part of my day was when I went to the bathroom and found a snake in the toilet.  I thought it might be dead so I spat on it and it moved so I went and got Cosmas.  I didn’t tell him what was in there just that he needed to come and see something.  When he saw it he jumped back and started screaming.  This resulted in them pouring boiling water in the toilet and sending the 6 ft. snake to heaven.  Cosmas couldn’t believe that I had taken a picture of it in the toilet, I just said, “I am my father’s child.”


The day ended with a stroll on the beach where there were several people pulling in fishing nets.  Cosmas wanted to help out and I wanted to give it a shot too so we jumped in.  When we jumped in there were 2 groups of people pulling nets in and the groups were about about 150 ft apart.  I kept telling our team to go faster so that we could beat the other team.  They laughed at me and we kept pulling.  It took about 30 minutes before we actually got to the net and then the net was another 15 minutes.  When the end of the net was finally close the 2 groups came together (this is when I learned we were pulling the same net (thanks for telling me…)) and we pulled in about 20 Nile Perch.  I clapped with glee and they all laughed at me.  They gave us a few smaller fish because we helped and Cosmas bought another very large fish for dinner.  This was the first time that I had ever caught (helped caught) anything I was going to eat for dinner.  So, Cosmas and I strolled back home with fish hanging from our hands as the sun set behind the hill.

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Cosmas and I went fishing again.  I spent most of the day reading because Cosmas had errands to run.  Once the sun goes down and there is no power I spend my time talking with people and reading Catch-22 or The Brother’s Karamazov with the flashlight on the Nokia 1200.  Most amazing phone in the world.
We hiked up the island’s hill which had absolutely breathtaking views.  Cosmas’ grandfather lives at the top of the hill and there were many other homes along the path.  Here, it is important to stop and say hello to everyone you see.  So, we spent a majority of our climb stopping and talking to people.  The only problem for me was that it was all in Luo, so I would just stand and study my Swahili book.  Cosmas kept saying that they wasted 5 hours a day catching up and talking with each other and I told him that it is very important for community and I wished we did that, but maybe they can cut it down to 2 and a half hours a day.  On the hike down I fell on some thorn bushes so I was in a hurry to get back and wash my arm and bandage it.  Once we got back though, I konked my head really hard on the door frame.  First time I’ve really hit my head here.  I was dizzy for a while and spent the rest of the day lying down.

Half Way Up the Hill

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Thursday – Rise and Shine and get on the Boatie, Boatie
Cosmas and I are on the mainland today visiting his Uncle again.  We will return tonight and be there for a while longer.  I am hoping to swing by Uganda on the way back and then by Obama’s grandmother’s home, where Obama’s father and grandfather are buried.  Thanks for reading!  Have a great day!

The End of Baerdvember
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