Thursday, August 27, 2009

Posted Thursday Night

Wednesday, August 26th 2009

Today there was a seminar put on for the Ghetto Light youth and other teens in the community. The day-long seminar was presented by a Kenyan organization called the Center for Rights Education and Awareness (C.R.E.AW.). The goal of the seminar was to mobilize youth to take a stand against injustice and initiate positive change for human rights. The organization helps to give power to the people who are often viewed as the bottom dwellers of society (the poor and impoverished). C.R.E.AW. hosts school and community forums on sexual and gender based violence and human rights. The two speakers were excellent and encouraged the youth to make their voices heard and to initiate change in Kenya (human rights violations and corruption is rampant). The students and hosts talked about many sexual and other human rights violations that take place in the community. Many students reflected on the 2007 post election violence. There were stories of people being evicted, raped, beaten, burned, and mutilated with machetes simply because they came from a certain tribe. Students also discussed gender equality. Many women are still discriminated against in African culture and certain tribes. Women are sometimes bought and treated like property and are victims of physical and sexual abuse. Young girls in some tribes are forced to be circumcised in horrific fashion. Sometime when a woman’s husband dies she and the property are taken over by the husband’s brother. Property and money is taken from the widow and they are to submit sexually to their new husbands. There are stories of this happening and the brother of the deceased man has HIV/AIDS and the widowed women contracts the disease from her new husband.
The speaker had a fire in his bones as he rallied the young people to make a change within themselves and in their community and country. He encouraged them to not use violence against people from other tribes, not to let the physical and sexual abuse continue. He told the youth to educate themselves and demand equality in the academic and working spheres. The way this man talked was with a heart and passion similar to Dr. Martin Luther King. It gives me great hope to see people like this encouraging young people to act in a like manner. If what we witnessed is a picture of the future leaders and people of Kenya, a just and prosperous nation would soon follow. It is great to see the light shining out of the doors of “Ghetto Light.”

Today Peter took me to get a haircut. Actually more than one hair was cut, but you understand what I am saying. We walked up the street to the local barbershop for a trim. The barber who’s name is Innocent cut a muzungu’s (white person’s) hair last week. He said he shaved the guys head. Most everyone even the girls have shaved heads. The hair was cut, the beard was trimmed and a hot towel was place on my face and then used to wipe down my newly cut hair, all for 50 schillings (less than 1 dollar).
Oh! Mariella and I were also counted in the Kenyan census, which is taken every ten years. Tomorrow we say goodbye to the Ghetto Light youth, Abel, Milcah and their children. We will meet up and stay with our friends who work for the Salvation Army for a couple days before heading to Amsterdam.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Monday, August 24th

After church yesterday Abel took me (Craig) to the Ghetto Light under 16 football game. The game was being played on the opposite side of the slum. As we were walking to the game I witnessed the extreme poverty people are experiencing. The walk from Abel’s house in the East of Kibera to the West of Kibera took about a half hour. We walked down dirt roads, alleys, railroad tracks, and piles of trash. The sheer size of the slum is amazing. I was skeptical about there being 900,000 to 1,000,000 people living here, but while we were walking we passed through crowds of children and adults. I received so many “How are you?” statements from children. This must be the first thing they teach children about Muzungus. “Kids, when you see a Muzungu be sure to say, how are you.” I was physically sick to my stomach walking through the slum. I was nauseous because of the living conditions the people were living in and the various smells I was inhaling. There are pools of human waste in-front of businesses and houses. Everyone is walking in trash and feces as they move around their community. The smell of rotting trash and human waste is overwhelming. Most people burn their trash so the fumes from the paper and plastic are strong. We walked through many clouds of burning rubbish piles. We walked passed shacks which were store fronts for butcheries, corn mills, food shops and much more. People were walking from shops holding their live chicken (soon to be dinner) by their wings. I think the chicken had a good sense of what was going to happen next based on the way he was thrashing around. The Kibera slum is truly its own mini city. There are children everywhere. I wonder who takes care of them and who protects them. Many children have major burns and scars on their bodies. I am not sure if the scars are from abuse or natural accidents. They cook on open coal fires with large pots. We have heard stories of people being raped and nobody being brought to justice. When people talk about rape it as almost as if it is just part of life. It seems to be one of those things that just happens over the course of a young girl or woman’s life. People seem to just scrape out a life here and some have it just a little better than others. One of the teens asked Mariella if she would feel safe walking through the community on her own. Mariella responded that she would feel safe walking on her own if she had no valuables with her. The teen said that nobody would steal from her. She asked how he could be sure of that. The teen responded by saying that if someone in the community was caught stealing from her they would be burned (set on fire). We have heard that people take justice in their own hands. As the police are not always helpful and sometimes expect a bribe to do their job. The kids tell us you run from criminals and you also run from the police. Both could shoot you in the back.
Our friend told us a story of how a girl was raped many years ago. Sometime later she confessed what happened as she could not live with the secret any longer. When word got out about who committed the crime he was murdered and place at her doorstep that evening. Justice?
Despite the many horror stories we feel safe here. We see the potential for this country to be so much more than it is. There needs to be a huge change in the moral integrity of the leaders of this country. Corruption is rampant. Tomorrow, the country will have its Census. A lot of the community is upset about this, one of the questions on the Census is regarding tribal association, this is what fueled the post election riots in 2007 and some are afraid a similar thing might happen. Others are annoyed that the government feels a census is what needs to happen, even though it has yet to work through the problems since 2007. There are still thousands, maybe more, who are still displaced, they lost their homes, their land, their businesses, their livestock, and they feel this will be a harsh reminder of that loss. Edith, for example lost everything in 2007, she and her boys escaped Kibera fearing they might be killed, and stayed at a camp. When they returned, they found their home had been emptied; neighbors from other tribes had taken advantage of the situation and had left her family with nothing. She still owns a blue, UNICEF bag that was given to her with some food, slippers and a few toiletries. She feels this census will only remind her of what she once had and what she no longer has. The Census here is quite a different animal than it is in the states. Tomorrow, people in blue and red T-shirts labeled “Enumerator” and “Supervisor” will be walking from home to home with the census which they will fill out as they ask each person in Kenya-craziness. They expect this to take a week, starting Tuesday. The President has explained on the news that it will be declared a national holiday and has asked that everyone stay home and wait to be counted. Pray that this is done in a way that doesn’t reopen wounds and rekindle the flames of hatred between various tribes.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Kenya, Saturday

Saturday, 22th August
We spent some of the day with our friends Matt and Brittney who work for the Salvation Army. We are getting more efficient at moving around. Today we caught a matatu from Kibera down to the market where Matt and Brittney picked us up. They took us to the Giraffe Center in Karen where we fed Giraffes. We even got a kiss from the friendly animals.

After visiting the Giraffes they took us to the Kazuri bead factory. “The mission of Kazuri is to provide and sustain employment opportunities for disadvantage members of Kenyan society. In order to do this they must produce top quality hand-made and hand-painted ceramic jewelry and pottery. This will ensure that we are well equipped to compete in both the international and local market place. The Kazuri bead shop employs 340 single women, mostly single mothers. It is equipped with a clinic providing free medical care for the employees and their immediate family. Kazuri also absorbs 80% of the medical bills outside the factory clinic. In the developing world of today’s Africa, the greatest contribution we can make is to create employment , especially for the disadvantaged and this remains our guiding philosophy. The result is reflected in the strength of the Kazuri family and the beauty of our products.”

After visiting the bead factory we went to Nairobi city center to grab lunch and to check out some African shops. We went a place called Zanzibar it has the cheapest prices on African goods. If anyone comes to Nairobi and wants to pick up souvenirs this is the place to go. Thank you Matt and Brittney for spending some quality time with us. Matt, I commend you on your Kenyan driving skills.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Friday , August, 21, 2009 (Mariella)
I still can’t quite grasp the drastic time change, it’s 2:33pm here on the 21st of August and you guys are mostly sleeping, not yet having seen the light of the 21st-weird. Ok, so I’ve been working on this mural with the kids for a few days now, our first challenge was finding paint, then finding brushes (decent ones) and now, giving enough work for the day. We’ve somewhat completed a painting in reference to John 3:16 it just needs a glossy paint finish. We’ve started a second one, the kids painted a panel light blue and yesterday I wrote some of the words the student s gave us for different names of God. Names like, Redeemer, Jehovah, Abba, Messiah, Lamp unto my feet, Alpha na Omega, Rabbi, mwalimu (teacher in Swahili), Jemedari (Lord of Lords), Mola (God), Kiongozi (ruler), Mkombozi (Savior), Mshindi (winner) and Mwenyezi (Almighty) and then they painted it all in with different colors. These kids blow me away with their faith and understanding of God. Yesterday we also worked on the beginnings of a new mural. The kids were asked to take a half sheet of paper and choose a verse from scripture and try to draw something that suits that scripture. Most of these kids don’t have Bibles, so Craig’s small military Bible and a New Testament one that I found had to suffice, I wish I would’ve taken a picture of this moment: About 20 or so kids sharing a Bible and a New Testament bible, scrambling for scriptures that they can relate to. Craig and I watched one really small girl stand in the same spot for over 30 minutes looking to the small print in the bible and then trying her hardest to write it on her paper, it became clear later that she couldn’t even read or write yet, but she wasn’t about to give up that easy. I am constantly amazed at how the people here react to the smallest of treasures. Yesterday I had only half sheets of paper, about 12 markers, a few color pencils, 10 lead pencils, and one and a half Bibles, and they were so excited to write and draw and write some more. I couldn’t help but remember my adolescent years. Even in primary school I pretended to be ill so I could stay home nearly EVERY DAY! In junior high, my sisters and I ditched school at least 2 or 3 times a week, and even now in college, I sometimes chose to just stay home. What a spoiled brat I was. I wish I knew then what I know today. Most of these kids would love to go to school, but school fees and sometimes having to find work get in the way of that dream.
I am not exactly sure what theme or one thing that God is teaching us here. I know I am able to see more clearly the way people really live here and that is an incredibly humbling thing in it of itself. I think you would have to be incredibly hardened to come into Kibera and not leave a more humbled person. I have learned to be thankful for everyday, literally I wake up and thank the Lord for another day and ask Him to be our navigator. I guess what we are here to do is to write about what we see, to share with you our experiences with people and saints around the world, perhaps to encourage some of you to pray for the poor, the hungry, the orphan, and the widow. Perhaps it is so that God would continue breaking us so that we might look more like Him. Maybe it’s so that when I get back home you all hold me accountable to what I’ve seen, and smelled, and heard. I am eager to get home, even though we are only 1/6 of the way through with this journey, but I am also afraid of forgetting. I don’t want to forget to live simply, to give plenty, and to be thankful for everyday and even every minute. I want to pray like Paul, “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I CONSIDER THEM RUBBISH, THAT I MIGHT GAIN CHRIST AND BE FOUND IN HIM and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” Phil 3:8.
I want to really believe that. To believe that to me all the wonderful material joys in southern California are rubbish and really the only thing that matters is Christ and become so much like Him that I can only be found IN HIM. When I walk around Kibera, I can see that the dirt roads are made up of dirt and plastic bags and rubbish, there is trash everywhere. Some of it slightly burned up and most of it just becomes part of the road. I’d like to be able to walk around a mall at home and really see it all as rubbish, to see it all as the streets in Kibera. To not be tempted to purchase for the sake of purchasing, I admit this is a total temptation for me, I like to have things. I like to open up a closet and have more than just a few options. Yet another thing to hold me accountable to once we are back home. I love you guys, thanks for reading and telling your friends about the blog (Becky and Hailey), it is incredibly encouraging that you all believe in us and believe in what God is doing here in our hearts and in our lives. Keep praying.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Thursday, 20th 2009
Today I had an interesting experience. Bonafas (21 years) was sent by his mother Edith (house keeper and family friend) to get water. He had already made two trips for water earlier in the morning. The water only works from the tap on Fridays only. I asked Bonafas if he needed help getting water. He quickly answered, “Yes!” I assumed he fetched water up the street. I soon found out how wrong I was about him fetching the water nearby. He loaded up the rusty wheel barrel with 5 large plastic canisters. I volunteered to push it to the watering hole which was more than a mile away! The town folk thought it was quite funny watching me push the wheel barrel while Bonafas and Peter (18 years, brother of Bonafas) walked along side. People were staring, laughing and making comments in their mother African tongue. I asked Peter what a lady was saying. Peter told me she said that the boss is pushing the water. The lady was laughing as she made the comment. After leaving the inner area of Kibera we made it out to the main road which we followed until it reached the outskirts of town near the Ngong Forest. We pushed the cart up to the water whole where the owner of the water facet quickly bumped up the cost because a Muzungu (white person) was with them. We had to cross the street and go to another place because of the sudden rise in price. The boys payed 3 schillings per canister of water. A cost of less than 25 cents. We waited for a half hour while other customers filled up their water canisters. One young and very worn man came up to me and showed me how flexible he was. He did the splits then raised his leg over his head while standing. He told me he was an acrobat and then asked for some money.
Eventually the cans were filled and it was time to push it all the way back. Now I am a competitive man and I like leaving good impressions. I wanted to show Bonafas and Peter that I could handle pushing a wheel barrel loaded with water. So I eagerly jumped behind the wheel barrel. I know most of you know how strong and humble I am. I am in top office worker condition. Sorry Oz Maz, I have lost my construction worker strength. I was able to push the cart a short distance up the hill before the teetering of the cart and wobbling of my legs began. It was obvious that my super human strength is not as strong in Kenya. My strength must not work because we are closer to the equator. Eventually I had to submit. My goal was to push it all the way home, but it was not going to happen. Bonafas jumped in and we took turns pushing the cart home as people poked fun at us and made comments in Kiswahili. Peter walked beside holding the cart with one arm to keep it from tipping to the side. Peter’s right arm does not work well because he was hit by a car 10 or so years ago. He lost functioning in the arm. He cannot open and close his hand. He usually places his hand in his pocket and only uses his left. He had to learn to write with his left arm after the accident. Both boys are of noble character. Their mother has done a great job raising them on her own. Their father died of throat cancer about 18 years ago. Edith is a hard working woman who takes care of her two boys and many of the household and child raising duties of the family we are staying with. She does all this with an overflowing joy and deep gratitude to God. Her driving goal is to provide enough money to give her sons an opportunity to go to school and get a good education. She is filled with the joy of the Lord.
Mariella and the students continued with their painting today. It is amazing to see how frequently the hall is used. Student’s hang out there frequently and others people rent out the small location for meetings. While we were painting students were singing and practicing their dances. People from the street constantly stop at the windows to watch the kids sing and dance. They are amazingly gifted performing artists.
Our stay in Kibera is enlightening. When we first visited the slum three years ago I assumed that it was only an impoverished place where people struggle to survive. The assumption is somewhat true, but there is so much more to the place than extreme poverty. We’ve met people who own shops, run churches, coach football teams, etc. This is a city within a city. I noticed trees which I was not aware of days ago. I caught a lizard that made its home in the neighborhood. There are people who have dreams and aspirations for bettering their lives. It is true that the living conditions are absolutely unacceptable for people to do life in. I have noticed that there is a clear economic hierarchy even in the slum. Today a student told me how he used to live in the slum. Meaning, he used to live in that area over there where the living conditions are atrocious. The recognition of the trees and catching the lizard shows me that there is hope even in the seemingly most hopeless of places where death is more real than life. The people that we are around are amazingly strong people who are persevering. It is clear that the people of the “Ghetto Light Youth Group” are truly a light in the community. I suspect that God will continue to grow up the Ghetto Light community so he can show his hope to Kibera through the lives of these young people.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Masai Visit

Here are some photos of a visit to a Masai tribe a couple weeks ago.


Tuesday, August 18th 2009

Today Mariella and I met up with some American friends named Matt & Brittany (husband and wife) and Emilia. Our friends work for Salvation Army East Africa. We left Kibera at 11am. Abuit (Abel’s brother who live across the street) was nice enough to escort us to the bus stop near the main road. This is where a car bumped me. The driver was looking straight at me as we were crossing the road, but chose not to slow down and he bumped me with the right front bumper at a slow speed. It was a rude reminder that many Kenyan drivers do not stop for pedestrians. Luckily, we jumped on the correct matatu (bus) and headed for the Yaya mall to walk around, have some alone time, and eventually get picked up by our American friends. They picked us up at 1pm and we went to the compound where they live and work for the Salvation Army. We helped them with the vacation Bible school they were hosting for the children at the school. Most kids left to go home for winter break, but there were about 40 primary and secondary students who either do not have parents or do not have the funds to travel home for holidays. Many of the young people have sponsors that support their education at the Salvation Army. We grabbed dinner later in the evening with our new friends, had a great time of fellowship and awesome conversations, then where dropped off on the outskirts of Kibera where Abuit met us and escorted us back into Kibera at night. A little later I sat for a while with Bonafas (21years) and Peter (18 years) who live with their mother, Edith, in the building next door. It is Bonafas’ job to make dinner each night. He first made ugali, which is a staple Kenyan food. Ugali is corn mash. In Kikuya it is called gima. He also cooked omena (sardines) with onion tomato and spinach. We have found that most Kenyans eat late in the evening, usually 9:30 or 10:00pm. The other day Peter told me he has had Typhoid many times because of the water he consumed. The water in Kibera is still shut off, this being day 3 without water. Water has to be fetched every morning in plastic jugs and pushed back home in a wheel barrel. This morning Milcah boiled some water for me to add to a bucket to take a bath, it was very nice. (Now Mariella typing) Today we hope to work on some more of the mural with the kids from Ghetto Light. Yesterday, we were able to find some black paint, let me tell you that was quite the task; there are certain things that are incredibly hard to come by here. I was able to catch my mom and sister, Jennifer, on skype this morning (midnight your time) and was very happy to see them for a little while, I learned that my sister, Alejandra, has completed her ultrasound tech program, good job ale, and also learned that my brother, Danny, comes and visits every weekend from the Navy, so I was really glad to hear all the great news, just seeing my mom and sister made me feel a little closer to home. We’ve been gone for about 60 days now and I am ever so thankful for technologies like Skype. Craig and I are learning some pretty amazing things while in Kibera, things that unfortunately are hard to grasp in a typical 2 week trip. Living in Kibera and hearing the stories really makes you incredibly thankful. Since the water has been off, and even before because the country is experiencing a terrible drought, we have had to “let it mellow if it’s yellow” and when you eventually “flush it down” you have to first manually fill the toilet basin, then flush. I also learned that bucket baths are not all that rough, well at least for those with rather short hair. I mean seriously why aren’t we practicing these things at home? I mean we are almost always experiencing water shortages. It’s super easy, try it, fill a basin half way with water, I’ve had mostly cold baths but you could warm some up to make it easier, take a cloth, or in our case that handy dandy handkerchief Larissa gave me before we left, use it to wet your body, apply soap, rinse, (all done inside the bath or shower of course) dunk head into basin to wet hair, apply shampoo, and rinse. TADA! It’s funny; of all the people that read this blog I am almost certain of one who will try this, Renee and Zach man.
Well people, we appreciate so much all of your prayers and love. Please continue to pray for our time with the youth here and for the mural project. We love you guys.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Monday, 17th 2009

Today Mariella and the Ghetto Light youth started working on murals in the Ghetto Light Hall. We thought it would be easy to find paint for the mural, which was not the case. Abel’s step brother took us out to find paint. We walked around the corner to a hardware store in Kibera to buy paint. There was none. Then we jumped on the bus and went down the street to Nakumatt (a Walmart like store). The store did not have any paint for mural painting. Next we walked about a mile to the Yaya shopping center. After visiting three stores in the shopping mall we found what we needed. We returned to Kibera and the Ghetto Light Hall and the youth had already outlined the first mural. The youth applied the first coat of paint. Tomorrow Mariella will work with the students on the final coat. The youth were glued to the wall painting away. I had an interesting dialogue with one student while at the hall.
He asked me how to forgive. He proceeded to tell me about how he was angry with his father because he denied that he was his father. He denied this fact to his son, his wife, friends and family. It was clear that this young man was angry. His anger with his father was intensified because he currently lives with a stepfather whom he does not get along well with. We had a great discussion about forgiving those that wound us. We talked about not being the unsettledness about being in bondage to another person. It is better to live life in freedom. I got to tell him how unfortunate it is that his father has missed out on his life. I told him if I was your father I would be proud of you for how well you grown into a man. I told him that I would be proud of him and happy with the good decisions he was making and the life path he was on. The Holy Spirit was working in both of us as we discussed these things as the others painted. We are both on the transformational journey in looking more like Jesus.


Monday, August 17th 2009

Yesterday (Sunday) we woke up and went to two gatherings. First we had breakfast, which consisted of bread with butter and honey and tea to drink. Kenyan tea tastes very good because they add a spice called Masala and milk. Abel and Milcah sent there 3 year old Preston ahead to church with one of the teens. They took the city matatu (old school VW sized vans) down to the Women’s Homecare Center where we would meet them a short time later. Mariella and I went with Abel and Milcah and their twin girls (Faith and Hope) to church in a taxi. It is clear that it is challenging to go anywhere with three young children on the public transportation system. Abel and Milcah do not own a car as most people living in Kibera do not. The buses are so crowded that a stroller might not fit and the buses start driving off just as you step on the bus. Abel and Milcah manage the best they can.
The first gathering we went to was a youth church service held at the Women’s Homecare Center just outside Kibera. The service was lead by Abel and Milcah. We met underneath a small white tent in the corner of the one acre lot. The kids lead worship through singing and then a teen read John chapter 7 and questions were asked about what was read. Most of the small kids and teens walked a couple miles on their own to get to the service. After the youth service two adults lead the small group discussions with the teens in one group and small children in another. Mariella, Abel, Preston and I left during the small group discussion time and road on a matatu to a large church service at Nairobi Pentecostal Church (Valley Road). On the way home from church we noticed that the Ghetto Light Youth Hall is used as a church on Sunday mornings. Many other groups also rent the hall out.
I had an interesting experience yesterday. Abel invited me to go watch a Primer Football League Match (Soccer). The watched the Manchester United vs. Birmingham game. We walked about a mile out of the slum and down the main road that leads in and out of Kibera. We reached a building made of wood and tin siding. There was stadium like seating made out of wood facing two medium sized televisions. The place was packed out with Kenyans watching the football match. I found myself in a room packed with 500 or so Kenyan men watching the game. It was interesting feeling to walk in a building and be the loan light skinned person. I definitely stood out. The atmosphere reminded me of a group of people watching and American football game at a bar. Although there were only men and nobody was drinking alcohol. I wish I could have taken some pictures of the setting, but it would have been an inappropriate thing to do. One of the kids who was at church in the morning was standing outside of the tin building listening to the game. Abel was nice enough to pay for Brian to enter the building and watch the game with us. Brian said that Manchester United is his favorite team.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Abel and Milcah, Photo

From Kenya, Ghetto Light Teens 2009

Saturday, In Kibera

Saturday, 18th of August

We stayed our first night in Kibera. Last night we walked up the dirt road to the Ghetto Light youth building. We participated in a fellowship service. The meeting was run by the youth. They started with praying then led a time of worshiping God through music. One student played the heavily used drum that Mariella left here 3 years ago. It is great to see the tool being used frequently. A time was given for people to share stories of how God was moving in their lives. They were thankful for traveling mercies as they traveled to and from a funeral. Mariella and I thanked them for welcoming us and for spending time with us last week at the camp. During the meeting I sat next to the door. It was an interesting feeling to watch people walk by and stare at us as it is obvious that we are outsiders. One of the youths named Sammy made an announcement that he was collecting money to pay for the burial of another youth’s brother. They passed around a paper where the youth pledged to give schillings to help out. Some pledged 25 schillings, other 50 and some 100. About 76 Kenyan Schillings equals one dollar. Ben’s brother was shot and killed last week. At the end of the meeting Friday night another youth named Victor arrived. He was returning from his brother’s funeral earlier in the day. Death is all too common amongst young people. Although the death and hardships are common the teens demonstrate great resiliency despite challenging circumstances. It is neat to see how the youth refer to Able and Milcah as Mom and Dad. The term is one of great respect as they are parents to many.
We returned to Abel and Milcah’s after the meeting, a five minute walk from the Ghetto light youth building. Luckily the electricity and water are working today. They shut the electricity and water off to conserve the precious resources. The electricity is usually off from 6am to 6pm. When the water is on buckets are filled to store the water when it is not available from the tap. Drinking water is boiled as it is possible to pick up Typhoid or other water born bacteria. Mariella and I brought a few jugs of bottled water for safe drinking.
Able and Milcah have been generous in letting us have a room to ourselves. They have moved their young son, Preston into their room along with his baby twin sisters. Many kids hang out at their house and other family live within the courtyard area that forms the boundary of their living space. We had white rice and a vegetable stew for dinner. It was quite good.
We fell asleep to the sound of planes passing overhead, the rumbling of the train which passes through the middle of the slum. Dogs were barking next door and the babies were up during parts of the night as they had slept a long time earlier in the day.
Today people are doing laundry. Bonafas (21 years) and Peter (18 years) live next door with their mother who helps Able and Milcah with their children and house hold duties. Both boys take pride in dressing well and keeping their clothes and shoes clean. They were scrubbing away at their clothes and shoes which are drying from the clothes lines. The boys just left to go practice for a play they have tonight. Most of the ghetto light youth dance and perform skits that share their life stories. They do fantastic skits on topics such as H.I.V., physical abuse, absent fathers, and politicians. The skits are amazing! Today we walked about a mile to an area of town where there was a talent show. Individuals and groups danced and sung to a large crowd of onlookers. The Ghetto Light Youth were supposed to perform, but the organizers did not call them to the stage as they put other acts in-front of the youth. The Ghetto Light youth are involved in theater through Acrobatics, plays/skits, dances, narratives and comedy. It is great to see young people telling their stories through the arts. We road on the buses today with Milcah on the way to the market (cost of 20 schillings/around 25 cents). Each bus ride is a journey of faith as we trust the driver on the crazy streets.
It is clear that life is very difficult in Kibera. At the same time there is great pride in the community. The people of Kenya or Africa should not be pitied. They have a wonderful culture and are moving toward a stronger, healthier and more prosperous country. I assume that the kids and adults who live in Kibera are quite strong and gritty people. I admire the ones who minister to others and work honest jobs to make a living. There are so many caring and intelligent kids who if given the chance would excel and be successful in their endeavors if provided the opportunity. A major problem is the lack of opportunities. Those of you who have had a meal today, have an education and have jobs are blessed more than you can imagine. Please do not take it for granted as there are people who are just as deserving, but find themselves doing life in a place with fewer opportunities. Thank the Lord for your material blessings.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Photos From Kids Camp

Taken two weeks ago.

Kenya, Kibera Slum

Thursday August 13, 2009

Happy belated birthdays Kevin and Jessica and Nancy. Today we celebrate our 50th day on the road. We said goodbye to the team from Ecclesia Hollywood yesterday, it was pretty tough saying goodbye, it’s nice to work together and to have fellowship, even though it complicates things a bit to have several people trying to come to a decision, God is so good. I especially had a rough time saying goodbye to my buddy, Robyn, an old roommate and Kenya team mate in 2006. The team was great, 13 people in their mid 20’s and early 30’s all richly inspired by God’s love to pour out on to others what we have so freely received. I was really encouraged by all of them, some leaving LA with little money to come home to but clear about the call that Christ’s Spirit has given them. What a joy it is to serve the Lord along such convicted people, Craig and I will surely miss their company and insights. We have stayed at the guest house for 2 more days to recoup and prepare for our next adventure: Kibera for about 15 days with our friends from 2006, Abel and Milcah and their 3 children. Abel and Milcah run Ghetto Light Youth, a program for the youth in Kibera. In 2006 it was still just a vision and it has been a blessing to see how God has brought that dream to fruition. They are now working with about 80 youth, teaching them how to make a living through honest means. They make beaded bracelets, necklaces, jewelry cases, and many other things and use the money to pay for food or school funds or rent. I was just reading through the book of Ephesians this morning and was amazed at all the practical and applicable insights it brought. Ephesians4:28 NLT “If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.” Eph 6: 7 “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” I wish you could all just spend a day with any one of these kids, their stories will cause you to weep, be upset at people, ask “why?”, and even cause you to be upset with God, but they are not upset they understand way better than I do the value of Christ and of having an eternal perspective. Paul in his letter to the believers in Philippi says in chapter 1 verse 21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (NIV) I have for many years struggled to really understand or rather be able to relate to Paul, I am not ready to leave this place, I have fun here and I love my family and friends here, besides that I still feel there is more for me to experience. I think I have gained just a little bit of insight about this as of recent. The kids from Kibera have an extreme life; they’ve seen things and experienced things that we only see in movies. They know rape and murder and even more frightening things than that as a pretty common thing. I think I am far too comfortable to really understand Paul. Paul, like these children, suffered much, and he was imprisoned for many years. These kids have also experienced the ugliness and perversion of this world, so they look forward to Christ’s coming, they are truly “citizens of heaven” they “are not anxious about anything, they pray and petition God for their every need, they are thankful and present their requests to God” (paraphrased), they “have learned to be content with whatever the circumstances. They have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” They understand that they can “do everything through him who gives (them) strength.” Philippians 4 paraphrased 6-13. I am moved by them, they cause me to take a good look at my faith and examine it. I am truly humbled by their convictions and their fervency in prayer, I am convicted by their understanding of God’s word and how well they know it and have His word hidden in their hearts. If you get a chance, youtube Sara Groves “ I saw what I saw” (thanks Susan) it’s one of those songs I wish I had written and it very beautifully captures some of what we are experiencing here.
So, tomorrow we are off to Kibera. Kibera is the second largest slum in the world, there are many relief organizations stationed in Kibera, unfortunately still not enough. Our friends, Abel and Milcah, grew up in the slum and when they got married moved out. Shortly after, they were quickly convinced that they needed to be in Kibera in order to truly minister to the youth there. Honestly, I am a little nervous, but God has reassured me today, His word says don’t worry, just pray, so I have and will continue to and would appreciate your prayers as well. Craig and I feel it will be a good experience. I am hoping to work together with the youth and paint a mural; Craig will be excited to work alongside Abel and Milcah as they coach soccer. Again, we will have limited internet access, so do not be alarmed.
Sisters, please only foreclose minimal information to Mom, I don’t want her to worry and freak out. Thanks.
By the way, yesterday I spent most of the day cuddling with a little girl named Kate, she would nuzzle my neck and kiss my cheek and cuddle some more, it was pretty awesome. The coolest part is that we met her in 2006 when she was just 3 years old, now she is 6 and is super involved with Ghetto Light. Please pray for her and her family, her brother, Ibrahim, who is also involved. Pray that their family would come to know Jesus and experience His joy and freedom. Pray also for rain in Kenya. The rivers are dry and the crops are doing poorly, it is their winter now and they should’ve already experienced their rainy season.

Another by the way, Craig and I totally pet Cheetahs the other day. Like held their heads and pet them and could hear and feel them purring-crrraaaaazzzyyy!

From Kenya, Animals 2009

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Brief Kenya Update

Correction: Our friend, Will received a second opinion. He does not have malaria it is not clear what is going on. Just wanted to give accurate information. He is still not feeling well.

We said a tearful goodbye to the children we bonded with this week. It was a great week where each of us learned more about the love of Jesus.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Kenya Kids Camp

Wed, August 5th 2009
Sat Aug 1st.
We went to a 10:30 wedding with Judy Mbugua and our friend Lori Fox. We went to I think it was the University of Nairobi Presbyterian Church. Then to Nairobi High School for the reception. There were about 500 people at the wedding and reception. It was a high class wedding that lasted until 5:30pm. Mariella danced with the other women as they welcomed the bride and groom to the reception. Mariella also had fun standing behind the tents and throwing chunks of chicken and bone in the air while huge hawks swooped down from the air to catch the food in mid-air.
Sun 2nd. We met up with our friends from Ecclesia Church (Hollywood) at the Homecare Center Guest House (where we will stay for the next couple weeks) then went to the Ngong Pentecostal Church of Nairobi for a Sunday service. We returned to the Guest House after church ate lunch and began to prepare for the 75 or so children who are attending the week-long vacation bible school camp.
Mon 3rd. Jon Cruz from the Global Action Missions organization invited Mariella and I to go visit two Masai tribes. Mariella decided to stay because she had a role in the skit for the first day of the kids camp hosted at the Homecare Center Guest House. I decided to go. We drove for about 1.5 hours and met with a groups consisting of mostly Masai women. The setting was very rural. It was a quintessential African landscape. We saw baboons, Giraffes and 5 foot high termite mounds on the way out to the tribe. They women sung songs and shared about their love for Jesus and discussed how he changed their lives and community. Land where there was once nothing now stood a small brick building used for church. They had water when they once had to walk miles to get. The tribe had a building with a foundation and walls/roof of tin for teaching purposes. Some women from Ecclesia are working with the women to sell their jewelry. A micro-business venture called “Raven and Lilly”. The business is helping the women make jewelry to sell in the U.S. The hope is to create an avenue for the tribe to make a living. I saw Grace and Jarusha whom Mariella bonded with a few years ago and learned some Masai songs. Grace invited Mariella to come live with her to learn the language and for Mariella to teach her English. I bought some jewelry which helps them buy food. Grace gave me a beaded gift to give to Mariella. They live in extreme poverty as nomadic herders, but are filled with joy despite such hardships. Some of the ladies have learned English and can now read God’s word in the English language. We visited the Mud hut that Jarusha and her family live in. It was a tiny hut made of sticks and sealed with mud. We had to duck down while entering and standing in the pitch black house. I will remember the visual image of Jarusha’s granddaughter playing with Lori and letting 3 flies land in her mouth and in the two corners of each of her eyes and not even brush them away. I will also remember the gratitude to Jesus that one of the Masai women reflected as she shared what Jesus had done in her heart and through the Pan African Christian Woman’s Association. There was a young Masai girl who will not go through a female circumcision because she knows that God loves her just as she is. The practice is slowly fading out so women will not have to go through the pain of (F.G.M.-Female Genital Mutilation).
The kids camp has gone well. We have about 75 children attending. As that is all that will fit on the bus. They are bused from the Kibera Slum to the out skirts of Nairobi where the guest house is. It is a large Guest House with about 7 Acres of land. The kids have been learning about the Lords Prayer, Matthew 6:9-13. The children have been reminded that they have a Father who loves them despite the reality their fathers being dead or absent. They have learned that it is God who provides their daily bread (bread for the soul). I hypothesize that the children understand the depth of this truth much more than those of us that live in the daily comforts that America provides. They learned that God has forgiven our trespasses as he also asks us to forgive those who do wrong to us. Today the kids learned about temptation and asking God for strength to turn away from temptations that may bring temporary happiness, but lead to emptiness and destruction. They understand that it is through Christ death and resurrection that we receive forgiveness of sin and are given a life of life and joy even though death surrounds them.
What a radical concept! That we must die to ourselves in order to let Christ live in us. Die to ourselves to let Christ live in us. Such FREEDOM!
Tomorrow is the last day with the kiddos. We will start with passing out their name tag lanyards then play games. After this we will worship Jesus through song then have tea time. After tea there will be more playing of games and a skit about the Lord’s Prayer. We will have lunch, which is made by the women who have taken many orphans under their care. We will close by praying individually with each of the children before saying a difficult goodbye. The children have shown up each day to a rural peaceful setting to receive food and loving attention. They go back to the chaotic slum of Kibera with full stomachs and good memories of Muzungu’s (white people) loving them as if Emmanuel (God with us) was with them.
After the kids leave on Friday we will go to Kibera to visit some of the ministries helping people. Saturday we will also go to Kibera to help at some feeding programs. On Monday we will start working with teenagers from Ghetto Light, a teen program in Kibera. Please pray for our team member, Will who contracted Malaria and is feel very sick. Please also pray that Mariella will not get bit by mosquitoes as she is a bug magnet.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Arrived in Kenya!

Thursday, July 30th 2009
We are writing you from 33,000 feet flying over the Sahara Desert toward Nairobi, Kenya. I am not sure when I will be able to post this blog entry as internet access may not be available where we are staying. We left Amsterdam this morning at 10am. We stayed in Amsterdam for the past couple days having what my cousin Zach affectionately calls a pajama day at a Hotel in Amsterdam. Mariella and I were recovering from a long day in London.
On Monday we caught a 6am bus from Cambridge to Victoria Station, London (2 hr. journey). We grabbed a coffee across from Big Ben (the clock) and of course took some photos. We walked to Westminster Abbey then to St. James Park that leads to Buckingham Palace. We grabbed a spot against the gate an hour and a half before the changing of the guard. Luckily the rain let up a half-hour into the waiting. The changing of the guard was entertaining with a lot of pomp. The marching bands played Michael Jackson songs as the guard changes took place. There were thousands of people watching the event. We ate our typical lunch, peanut butter sandwiches in-front of the palace. From there we walked to the very large British Museum where we viewed the Rosetta Stone and huge sections of the Parthenon. I am not sure why the Parthenon pieces have not been returned to Greece.
After a few hours we walked back to Westminster Abbey for the Evensong service. We walked over Charles Darwin’s grave as we took a seat for the service. It was beautiful to hear the choir sing songs, psalms and hymns during the service. Sweet sounds from the soul floated through the abbey. After the service we walked over the Thames River to the London Eye for an afternoon view of the City then rushed to Victoria station to catch the 8pm bus back to Cambridge. As we left we passed the construction site of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. It was an action packed exhausting day.
We arrive in Nairobi a couple days before our friends from a church we used to attend, Ecclesia Hollywood arrive. During our first week we will be spending time with elementary aged kids from the slum of Kibera. We will be playing games, doing skits, reading God’s word, talking about the love, freedom, joy and saving grace of Jesus, doing arts and crafts, eating and loving on great kids. The second week we will meet up with our Kenyan friends who run a ministry to teens called Ghetto Light. We will keep you updated the best we can depending on internet access. We would value your prayers as we spend a month in East Africa.
We arrived safely to Kenya and are staying with the Mbugua family in Karen.

Saturday 8/1/09
Today we attended a large wedding 10:30-4:30. Now we are preparing for the arrival of the rest of the team from Los Angeles.

Please view the following blog for more frequent updates about what is going on with the Kenya Kids Camps.