Saturday, April 23, 2011

Africa 2011

So I'm very sorry that I have not posted sooner about our trip to Africa.  I told you I would, so here are just some pictures of the highlights of the trip.  Pictures and words cannot describe all that we experienced over there, but this is just a little taste for you.

The culture over there is pretty different from here in the States.  In Kisumu, Kenya it seemed pretty crowded in the main part of the city, with people walking everywhere.  There were also people speeding by on Tuk-tuks (three-wheeled taxis), Piki-piki (motorbikes), Boda-bodas (big vans jerry-rigged with about 30 seats in them!), and my favorite the leisurely Biki-bikis (regular bicycles with a seat attached for a passenger in the back).  I don't think they know the term defensive driving, everyone drives on the offensive, taking opportunities whenever they can.  One of my favorite memories was when I was coming back from a hospital visit with Margaret and the Tuk-tuk drivers were on strike, so we had to take a biki-biki (bicycle).  It was the most surreal/enjoyable bike ride as I sat behind a Kenyan and felt the African breeze on my was a whole new way to see Kenya.

This was Caroline and I in front of her home, with her kids
Rural Kenya
My second favorite trip was when I got to spend the entire afternoon with just Alex (and Desmond, our Irish native who heads up Care and Compassion) driving around in the Land Cruiser.  We went with Desmond to visit the patients who were in the Care and Compassion program and who lived a little further out from the city.  So, we got to see the picturesque-less crowded side of Kenya.  The people and families we met that day are what keep tugging me back to Africa.  For some reason I was very drawn to Caroline, and her son Newton, who we visited at her home which was basically made of sticks and mud.  I'll never forget how proud she was to have us visit her at her home, though, and it was a great joy to find out that the organization we were there with (Christ's Hope International) would be building her a new home in the coming days.  She lives alone with her infant son out in rural Africa with a few family members close by.  She is living with HIV/AIDS and I believe Newton is also HIV positive.  I pray that Caroline will remain faithful to the Lord and that one day little Newton will become a believer like his mother.
Little Newton (his nickname was Isaac Newton)

One of the ministries we did pretty regularly was going to local schools and telling the kids Bible stories, teaching them memory verses and singing with them.  Of course we also got to play alot with the kiddos, too.  Here are a bunch of pictures of the too-cute kids that we wanted to bring back home with us.

The children eating their daily snack of porridge
This was Esther, I really really really wanted to take her home. :)

We also would go to the schools and teach the older kids a program called Choose to Wait.  It teaches a program of abstinence through the Bible and God's plan for us to remain sexually abstinent until marriage.  A very special lady heads up that program, Mama Joski, who is Pastor Martin's wife.  (Pastor Martin is the director of Christ's Hope Kenya)

Getting back to the culture differences of Africans and Americans, you will not walk into a room without  going around and greeting everyone by shaking their hand and introducing yourself.  They are HUGE on introductions and are always very grateful and delighted to meet you.  I was always surprised by the way the locals can seem like they didn't want anything to do with you, but as soon as you smile and wave at them it was like they were dying to greet you, but were waiting for your signal and then they would smile and wave back.  I loved it.  One other main difference is that they did not do a whole lot of hugging when they would see one another, but when Al and I were out on our Care and Compassion visits we ran into one exception.  I don't think I got her name, because she didn't speak a lick of English, but all I know is that this lady loved to hug me!  It wasn't just a nice-to-meet-you hug, it was an all-encompassing hug and she wouldn't let me go!  It was a welcome change, though, because she was so full of joy and I just wish I could've spoken her language because I would have loved to get to know this bear-hugging woman.   Here's a picture of us and her family (she is on my right).

Oh, and the first man on the left there is Desmond, who hails from Ireland, but has been in Kenya for a few years working with Christ's Hope heading up the Care and Compassion ministry.  He is an extremely gifted man of God who we were very sad to leave.  Also, a very funny Irishman, seeing him and Rianna (who is a Dutch nurse serving for 6 mos. in Kenya) banter back and forth was priceless.

Now for some random pictures to wrap it up....
We got to visit Lake Victoria and scout for hippos with a local boatman

The worlds SMALLEST kitten :)  (Naturally I wanted to take her home, too)

We interrupted this little girl and her sister just after bath time---TOO cute!

This is another special boy, his name was Bahati (which in his language translated to 'bad luck')  He was one of the 'street boys' whom we got to know in Tanzania.  Him and about 17 other boys were rescued by Christ's Hope off the streets and given a house to live in, and taught about Jesus and what he did for them.  When we met them for the first time we were walking up to their house and all the boys (ranging from about 10-21) were all outside singing from their little hymn booklet.  It was so neat to hear all them singing together about this God that most all of them knew personally now because of a few people with a passion and heart for God and spreading his good news.  

I'll end by saying that even as I write this and all the memories become fresh again I find myself tearing up a little because I long to go back.  Al and I pray that one day God will put it in place for us to back again, possibly for a longer time.  

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