Thursday, 11 April 2013

Coming Home

I haven't had internet for the last couple weeks at least. It is the short rainy season in Kenya. There are storms every day and the power is out just as often as it storms. I'm on my way home right now, but I'm really not feeling well, so this probably won't be as well construsted of a post.

I spent my Easter Sunday with my African family. We walked 40 minutes to Church. I taught the story of Jesus death and resurrection to the kids. After we picked up lunch, we rode bodabodas (motorbike taxis) home. When we got home, the key would not go into the lock, so we had a picnic lunch outside. Later, after we had managed to get inside, the power went out and was out for about 24 hours. It was a blessed, if not entirely unique, Easter.

The following week I was given complete control of teaching an exam to the younger children. Although I would not necessarily choose to give and exam t five year olds, I have to follow the expectations to some extent. We did the exam mostly outside doing things instead of sitting at a desk, writing and colouring for an entire day.

On my last Sunday, I taught about Noah. I also said goodbye to everyone. There were many tears shed that day. I am so grateful for my time spent teaching those children about the Bible.

I said goodbye to the children I taught in Marurui, on Monday. There were many hugs and I am going to miss those kids much more than they realize.

I've been pretty sick for the last week, and am not having much fun travelling, but I will be glad to be home later today. It's weird to think that I leave London at 17:15 local time and arrive in Vancouver at 18:40. I'm going to travel backwards in time. I say this mostly because I have brothers and they think it's really awesome :)

See you all soon.


Monday, 18 March 2013

The Last Couple Weeks

So, it been a couple of weeks since I last wrote. I was reminded of this fact yesterday. There is so much going on that it is difficult to keep up. I have been updating my Facebook page (Hannah's Missions Trip) more often than my blog as it takes at least an hour to update this and I rarely can find a spare hour, when I'm not exhausted. My apologies to those who do not have Facebook.

A little over two weeks ago, the medical team left for Texas and the next day, a team from Tennessee came. I really appreciate what the medical team did for the children and Adults here. I was a great assistance that we could not have accomplished on our own. The following team consisted of a pastor and his wife as well as their daughter, who lives in New York. There  were also four people from a church in Alabama. The team was consisted of females, with the exception of Pastor Steve. :)

I loved having this team here, because their focus was so similar to mine in that they were here for evangelism and to do whatever needs doing. From the very first day, they were inviting me to join their devotionals and including me as part of their team. This was so wonderful, not to feel as though I was in the way of what they were trying to accomplish, but to truly know that they saw me as an asset to their purpose here.

We prayed over elections and these elections were so peaceful that everyone was very surprised. Especially those Africans who had been here for the past elections. There is still the possibility of an outbreak of violence, because the people are contesting the integrity of the election in court. We are believing in faith that this will not be a problem.

During the time that the team was here, I learned a lot about God through their devotions and God even shared something with me and told me to share it with the group. The thread of all of our devotionals was to rest in Christ, believing that we can do all things because of Him, and learning that God is sovereign in all situations. I prayed for God to give me a word, knowing that I was expected to share with the group. God came through for me. Then all the doubts about me being the youngest and perhaps the least versed in the ways of God; about me still learning the things that He wanted me to teach on. Thankfully, earlier in the week we had learned that because we have Christ, we have all authority. I followed through and spoke the words God wanted me to speak. I left the results up to Him. Later, one of the team leaders came to me and told me that him and his wife felt that the word that I had delivered had been the most impactful (this is a word). It was such a blessing to me to hear how God had worked through me. Sometimes we will never know what God has accomplished through us. This experience, encouraged my belief of having the authority of Christ. When God tells us to speak, we need to speak like we really mean it. The team also prayed over me and I am feeling more free than I ever have before. Knowing that Heaven speaks blessings and encouragement over me. I have grown so much. :)

Along with all the prayer, and things with eternal impact, we also worked together to a very practical end. The place that we are teaching the kids in Marurui, is really just a room. There is a room for the kids and one for the toddlers. The room that we work in is smaller than my bedroom, which is not very big. In this room, we have 10 kids usually, as well as Irene and myself. Anyway, we found a house, that we are converting into our new schoolhouse. It has three sizable rooms, a real kitchen, a big main room, a bathroom with a real toilet, and a garden outside to learn to grow things. This space is also completely contained which is such a blessing when it comes to safety. Two weeks ago the team and I went in to fix the place up and clear the garden for planting. We also spent a good portion of the week painting the inside of the house. I enjoyed this part the most. So much of my work does not have immediate gratification, which is good, but it was nice to feel as though I could start an finish something here.

Last week I went on Safari with the team. It was so indescribably amazing. God is so creative and I was so blessed to have the opportunity to preserve so of this in photographs. Here are a few of the photos I took, while I was away last week. One might presume that I had to use much zoom to capture these pictures, but I actually captured many of the animals no further that 15' away.

Please continue to pray for me in these last three weeks. I can almost feel the hugs and kisses. I'm trying to live in the moment, though, because I know that when this is over, there is not a determined return date for me to come back here. Please pray that I would be prepared in my spirit, but that I would be able to drink in the experiences for the last few weeks. I am thinking of you all with such fondness and my prayers go out on your behalf, also. There is so much that I can hardly wait to share with you.


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Hello, Great Big World!
I have had many adventures as of late, but I feel a particular burden to share with you about my day today.

There is a visiting medical team that has been here for a week. Today they were in Marurui, holding a clinic fro the people there. This is also where the kids I teach are from. I knew that a couple of them had runny noses and colds. At home, I would just think they had a cold and would give them something to ease the coughing and congestion.
Here, in Kenya, there are infinite possibilities for why a child may be coughing, the most common of which is Tuberculosis. We check for other symptoms, but a runny nose is an indication that the child need further examination to determine if he/she has Malaria.

Today, three of the kids I teach, were really sick. It is so difficult to see them suffer. These children are usually so full of joy and of life.

One of the children was crying in pain, because of his umbilical hernia. James is such a precious boy, who has many problems, including heart problems. He is a child who was born into a place where he can not receive surgery and other medical care that we would never allow our own children to go without.

Another of the children was obviously not feeling like himself today. Kevin would not eat and he was not concentrating very well. If it was my first time in there, I might have thought that he was going to faint in class.  When we took him to the clinic, we discovered that he had a temperature of  103 degrees. If any child I knew at home had such a temperature, he would never have been sent to school and would have been in bed with cold compresses and popsicles. My heart nearly broke, knowing that he would be right back at school the next day and that just because he is sick, he will still have to do what needs to be done. I am not saying this to criticize parenting or culture. I am just heart-sick with the desire to take care of him in the only ways I know how to.

Of all the children, though, little Veronica stole my heart. She is at the back in this picture. She is about Mackenzie's age, but malnourished and a really sick little girl. She is usually really rambunctious and joyful. Although, she started out going around the clinic to give hugs to everyone, she did not do even this with nearly as much energy and gumption as usual. Sweet little Veronica's little energy quickly dissipated, though. She became a lump in in my arms. When the doctor saw her, it was obvious to her, that Veronica has Malaria and today she had a high fever as well.  Her mom was not there as she had to tend to James, who was in so much pain. For the rest of the time the clinic was open, she just rested completely in my arms. I could not help but think of my friend, Mackenzie, and cry. I cried because I miss her and her family, but mostly I cried because of the vest difference in the opportunities Veronica and Mackenzie have and will have. We will in the same world, but to see such difference is heartbreaking to me. I am ever so thankful for the opportunities for healthcare and everything else, that we have in Canada.

 This is not a plea for help, but for prayer. Prayer is the most powerful thing we can do for these children. It is where we turn to first, before medicine and before anything else, we pray for problems, here, because there are often not the distractions of doctors and solutions everywhere we turn.

I will post other pictures of my recent adventures on Facebook and will try to find another time when I can write some more. I am missing you all so very much. There are six more weeks until I come home. Interpret this how you will. Please pray for me and for the people I come into contact with. Pray that every meeting I have will be filled with the aroma of Christ.

Blessings to all of you!

Saturday, 9 February 2013


Hello World!
I'm so sorry that I have not updated my blog sooner. I was quite sick this past week and before that I was just super busy. The week before last, I was working long hours trying to get the Keans into their new house and trying to help them get set up. I was so tired at the end of every day that I just dropped into bed.

This past week was not filled with anything very interesting because I was sick. I did, however, make a budget for the Keans guest house where I am currently staying. I am so blessed that they are not charging these fees to me. The money that I have been budgeting, has been for the coming teams who will be staying with me over the next couple of months. I am unsure of how it will all work out, but if God has taught me one thing since I've been here, it is that I do not need to know, because He does. Because I was sick, I had more time to spend in prayer. It is surprising to me how all resolve to be strong and self-sufficient, goes right out the window when one is sick. It is not the relying on God to make me well when He sees fit, but having to rely on other people that I have a difficult time with. I have definitely been working with our LORD on this one, this past week.

The week before this past one, I was helping to prepare some children for boarding school. At home, boarding school is not a regular thing. In fact I don't think I know even one person who has been to boarding school. High school is usually boarding school here. These were young children, however, who are from the Marurui slum. In a boarding school, they have access to an Education that is not interrupted by excuses of unwashed uniforms or by hungry tummies. In boarding school, they each have their own bed and three meals every day. They will be taught from a Christian perspective. All of these things do not make it easy to leave your home and family, though. It was an emotional day when we brought them to the school.

When I went back to visit them at the end of the week, I was told that most were really enjoying it. One boy even cried when he was told that the students would have to go home at mid-term. I was told  that this boy cried because he really liked eating food and there was a lot at the school. As funny as this seemed to everyone else, I couldn't really laugh along with them. To think that this school is where he wants to stay because he has food, tells of his home situation. Most of these children are in poor health and are malnourished because of their home life. I almost cried when I saw the school conditions compared to their home life.

During this same week, I had the opportunity to go to the Marurui branch of Jacaranda Kids school. I am teaching under another teacher, but on my first day, she stepped out to talk to Brenda Kean and left me in charge of the children. I though that perhaps they would be gone for 20 minutes at most. Twenty minutes turned to two and a half hours. I did not know what these kids were learning or where their books were or what they could understand. They took advantage of the language barrier and were kind of unruly, but we made it through. I went through their alphabet and asked them to point out some things and tell me what the word started with. We also did math. and then there was outside game time. Every time I would crouch down to speak to one of the children or to see if they were alright when they had fallen or been pushed, five other children would try to climb on my back. I finally learned (after it happened twice) that I should just not do that. The inability to communicate cause confusion at some times, but we made it and I'm still alive to tell the tale.

These children and those in the nursery, are usually hungry when they come to school and by standards at home, would be classified as not well cared for. The really young children do not have diapers, and are just left to soil their bottoms. Their parents either don't have diapers or don't worry about changing them. None of the children are a healthy weight and size for their ages. And none of them come to school smelling like Lemon Verbena. There is a pure kind of love required that really shows what a person is made of. Are you going to hold your nose while you teach, because of the smell, or refuse to pick up a crying child because they have wet their self? These children need love and caring more than most, but you'll never see them for the gems they are if you focus on the outward things.

I have also been doing Sunday school, which I feel is going really well. The first couple of Sundays were a challenge and we're still trying to smooth out the wrinkles. I am working with the children's pastor, Giffan, to teach the kids. It has been difficult to communicate with him and I haven't been sure if, on any given Sunday, he might not show up. I feel that the kids are learning and that I am fulfilling God's purpose for me in this Church.

I can't believe I've been here for pretty much one month. My time here is already 1/3 past. As I was telling Brenda Kean,when she apologized for not making more time for me to go out and minister to the sewing ladies, all that I do is ministry. Whether it be sharing the gospel or setting up a house. I am feeling more settled and have been extremely blessed by those I have met here. I am still missing everyone at home, especially the kids, when I think about the similarities and differences between them and the children here.

I hope peace is in your hearts as you read this. I love hearing from you guys, so feel free to email me if you have the time.
Until next time,

Monday, 21 January 2013

A Real Kenyan

I have been told that the experiences I have had in the last week have made me a real Kenyan.

Over the weekend, I traveled to Shaan's house in Kiberia (not to be confused with the slum Kibera). At night the traffic is really bad and we were stuck for a long time. People are not considerate drivers in Nairobi, because if they are, there will be no possibility of moving anywhere. When there is a traffic jam in Nairobi and the area surrounding it, it really is a jam. Vehicle narrowly miss each other by less than a foot sometimes.  People drive onto the sides just to squeeze in wherever they can. Some people were pretty mush stepping off of the matatu (small bus) to ensure a spot for them in traffic.
When I arrived, we had authentic African supper. We ate rice with some sort of goat stew over-top of it. There were six women staying in a small two room house. Compared to the surrounding homes, this place was like an oasis. They had their own garden and laundry on the line. Their home was part of a compound holding 4-5 other families, from what I could see.
On Saturday, I had a shower, which was an adventure all in itself. The people I was with were kind enough to heat the water. We use a bucket on the floor and just bend over and slop it onto yourself. Washing hair was similar to washing it in a sink. I ate some pancakes for breakfast, which are more like crepes. They tasted like they had nutmeg in them or something of the sort. They were very yummy!! I spent the day reading and watching movies. In the afternoon, I went across the street to purchase a Coca Cola. When I went outside there was no one really in sight, but as I was waiting for the cola (2 minutes) the children were standing around, wary and gawking at the same time. After that, Sheila (one of the women of the house) told me that it would be best if they didn't take me for a walk that day.
On Sunday morning I had the same "shower" and went to Church via public transport. We had to leave about 2 hours before Church actually started, to ensure that we would not be late. Thankfully, traffic wasn't very bad and we arrived quite early. There is no rhyme or reason to how long it takes to get anywhere by public transport. I took a large bus from Kiberia to the city central. It was quite a ride. For all those who love sitting in the back of the bus because it's the bounciest place, should ride in a bus here. I was bounced half a foot out of my seat several time during the course of the travel. When I arrived at City Central, I them took a matatu to a stop about a ten minute walk away from the Church. Matatus are chalked full of seats and there is barely enough room to get into the back seats. They fit about 14 people into a vehicle that is about the size of a mini-van.
Church was wonderful. I love African Church!! The worship was so nourishing and filled me in a way that I was desperate for. I was feeling spiritually dehydrated, though I thought I was just feeling overwhelmed by the culture. I drank up the wonders that are the LORD, yesterday. I sat and watched the children's service. It will be very different, as there are no tables for doing crafts. The children sit on chairs and the teacher tells them a story and asks them about the meaning afterwards. I am not good at just standing in front of people and talking. I prefer to do something while I talk. Alas, our God is stretching me in yet another way. I am terribly nervous for next week and need some inspiration and peace.
In the afternoon on Sunday, I spent my first time alone in over a week. I didn't know that I was craving some time alone until I was given the opportunity. I allowed myself to cry a little as I really needed it after a week of not feeling like I was being useful, and feeling inadequate for the tasks I had been given. I later talked with Brenda and she gave me so much encouragement. She told me that it was good to cry and that it didn't make me any less brave for doing it.
Today, I awoke from my first night by myself. I saw the beauty of God's creation and spent some quiet time in His presence. I am feeling refreshed and spiritually filled. I prayed that God would show me a purpose for my being here, and He surely did that. From the morning and all through the day, people were delegating things to me and giving me things to accomplish. I was doing accounting in the morning and went to see a boarding school in the afternoon. I also went shopping for materials that the children who will be boarding at the school, will need in order to start on Wednesday. The school would have been nothing too impressive if it were in Canada, but here, this is a place for the children to feel safe and be cared for every day. Often the children in the slums do not have enough food each day and often miss school because their uniforms aren't clean. In a boarding school, they will be educated on a regular basis and will have all that they need. These children will be brought to the school with the parent's consent, but it is still hard for these mothers to say good-bye for the time being.
Shopping wholesale was an sight to behold. I wish I could take pictures. It is nothing like a Costco. Basically, there are bundles of item along the roadway and there is little nook in a building where the patrons stand to give their orders to the employees behind metal bars. There are bundles of things hanging from the ceiling and encroaching on what little floor space there would be if it was cleared. I had someone shake my hand and tell me that it had been a long time since he had seen a mzungu (white person). He just wanted to have the pleasure of shaking my hand. Everyone was staring at me. Even when I went to wait in the car, people were peering in the open windows at me. I couldn't tell whether it was a blessing, not to understand the language at some points during my trip today. I am so thankful to George, who drove us to do our errands. He kept checking on me as I was waiting for our order and never strayed from sight. It was a great comfort to know that he was there standing guard when I was waiting inside a parked car with open windows. On the way home, I had the pleasure of having raw sugarcane for my first time. For those who don't know how to eat sugarcane, they people you buy it from, peel the bark off of it a cut it into large chunks. Then you break pieces off with your teeth and suck the juices out. Don't attempt to eat the cane, though, because it tastes like you're chewing strings of thread mixed with a distinct woody texture.

I was told today that by the time I return home, the only part of me that will be Canadian, will be my passport and my skin colour. Shaan said this because I have tried and done many things in my first week, that many mzungus are afraid to ever try or do. I am feeling built up by these words, and the comments that the ladies have given me to indicate their joy over my being here.

Blessings, fond thoughts and prayers to my Canadian family and friends.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

In Nairobi

Family and friends,
I am into my second full day in Nairobi. Sorry for not contacting all of you sooner, but internet is scarce.
It has been kind of a whirlwind couple of days. I arrived late at night on Jan 14. I am sleeping in a little room for now, because the missionaries I am with have not found a house,yet. Please be praying that it happens today. They are in a meeting right now to see if they can get a house they really want and need.
I am going to be teaching Sunday School this Sunday. Please pray that it will go well. On Friday, I will be going to see the school I will be teaching in. Please pray for me as I venture into the slums.

The temperature is warm and it is a welcome change from home. According to the Kenyans, however, it is unusually cold. It has been raining since I arrived, but not in they way my fellow Lower Mainlanders know rain. It is sopping one minute and the next minute it is beautiful and sunny. Right now it is sunny here. I have not really gathered any pictures of Kenya yet, because I am just taking it all in. There is greenery everywhere and the flowers are spectacular. There don't seem to be any steadfast rules about driving here. We don't have to stop at red lights if the roadway is clear. We can drive in the middle of the road, unless someone going the opposite direction is coming. There are speed bumps and traffic circles everywhere. Right now I am living in a place of Nairobi called Runda. This is the area with all of the embassies around and is, therefore very safe. It seems as though everyone talks and even texts while driving. This could be because everyone has to drive slower due to traffic and so many speed bumps. The lack of rules are only things that I have noticed. They are not stated and so I could be wrong.

To the comfort of all back home, I am being well looked after and am blessed by my hosts and a wonderful Ugandan lady named Shaan, who is living in Kenya and working with Jacaranda. I will be traveling to her house on the weekend. She lives with her spiritual mother and sisters, as her biological parents are Muslims and kicked her out when she became a Christian. Please be praying for her father, who is battling the final stages of cancer. Also pray for her mother who is battling Rheumatoid Arthritis and is in a lot of pain. Most of all, please pray for Shaan, that she would know how to pray for her family who do not believe.

Thank you for your support and continued prayers. Please keep praying that my health continues to be good. I have to go now, but I will post again when I can. This may not be for awhile. Thinking of all of you at home and wishing we could experience this together, I have grown spiritually in just the two days I have been here. Blessing to all of you

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Leaving Soon

Hello again my esteemed family and friends,

I can hardly believe I am leaving today! This is so exciting for me and I hope it is exciting for you, too. It means so much to me to share this journey with each of you. Thank you so much for all the support you have each given. This would be impossible without your prayers and financial giving. Please continue to pray for me as I venture out into the world God has called me to.

I have been reflecting what has gone on in these last few months, lately. What a journey Christ has brought me on, and I haven't even left my home yet.

When I didn't know what to do after I found out that I couldn't go to Malawi, God came near and He gave me hope and vision for a new situation. Even though I will be doing things in Kenya, that were not originally part of my plan, I believe that this situation will offer me many more opportunities for growth. God want me to cultivate my gift of teaching and to stretch me through many things. The most obvious one right now, would definitely be the language barrier. I have never been very successful at trying to learn new languages. My Dad tried to teach me Greek; I tried to learn French in school. I can honestly say that I remember hardly anything. Part of my lack of success in the past could be due to my lack of desire to learn a new language. Before now, I didn't really have a reason to learn a language that I wouldn't use. I will need to learn Swahili in order to communicate with my pupils. How can I teach them English If I can't first communicate something to them? I don't know. If I have learned one thing, however, it is that God meets His people in their weakness. I know that I will not want for heavenly support.

When I was preparing to go to Malawi, I felt like I had everything under control. I could get to the mission field and support myself while I was there; no problem. Missions is not about self reliance, as I have learned. When I switched my location to Kenya, the budget started to grow and it kept growing until there was no way that I could support myself. Without God changing the plan, I would not have had to trust Him and trust each of you for the support I needed. I would not have found out just how much people are willing sacrifice for God's plan. And I would have been excluding you from the glorious work He will accomplish. God's ways are truly the best.

I have learned to trust so much more in this journey leading up to the literal journey. God needed to do many things within me so that I am ready for what is ahead of me.

I pray for God's blessings on each of you. As I said to a friend, don't stop praying now that your prayers have got me to Nairobi, Kenya. :)