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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sorry its been a while...I wrote this a while ago but just got a chance to post!

Jambo! Well we made it! The mountain was conquered! When told that we had a hike…I was up for the challenge thinking, “I love hiking!” Let me tell you…Great falls is nothing compared to the Kenyan monster we had to climb. The base of the hill was not difficult, but unfortunately the base was not very long. Quite quickly the incline increased and so did the size of the boulders we had to climb. 30 minutes into the hike I was thinking “hmmmm, I should have been working out this entire last week!” Out of breath but determined to continue we pressed on. At a few points in our climb we broke up into groups…those who wanted to head down and those who wanted to make it to the top. Seeing that mountain outside my dorm window everyday, I couldn’t help but want to see the view from the top! Perseverance was what kept me going! As we neared the top we found ourselves in a forest….a pine tree forest. Seriously? I kept laughing as we climbed higher. Here we were in the middle of Kenya and weaving through pine trees. It was so unreal. I had to capture a picture of these African children walking barefoot on pine needles.

Shortly after the pine tree forest, we reached the top. Victory! It was not what I expected at all! In my own small mind I pictured the top of the mountain as a single massive rock. One where you could view Kenya as far as the eye could see. Instead, we found an old village! All the buildings were crumbling and warn down. Even the people looked ancient, but the view and the pictures were incredible!

We had collected quite a massive group of children during our ascent up the mountain. The children brought youth to this deteriorating village. Their laughter and self –invented games were a joy to rest in at the top. After a few moments of relaxation and regrouping, we headed back down the mountain, children and all! The decent we much quicker then the climb. Our lack of water and tired feet urged us on to go faster and faster. Soon we were at a quick pace down the mountain. My quick pace stopped every time I saw a picture that I had to capture. Thankfully there was another one who made it to the top who too enjoyed taking pictures, so we descended at our own leisurely pace making sure that no priceless moment went undetected.

I definitely slept well that night! The next morning I woke up to start my long day at church. Thankfully, the day wasn’t as long as anticipated. We didn’t catch a tuktuk, (small 3 wheeled taxi) so we had to walk the whole way. The morning air was cool and so the walk was more then bearable. When we finally arrived at church, I barely stepped inside the gate before I was whisked off to a children’s Sunday school class where I was asked to teach! Thankfully the teacher first read a verse and then I got to expand on it. “Be Holy because I am Holy.” I got to share with them my testimony and encourage them to live their lives Holy like Christ because he calls us to be so. I also got to share with them my favorite verse, Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous.” I talked with them about how it was hard to leave my friends and family and my life back in the US but that God commanded of me to be strong and courageous…and to that I had to be faithful! One of the things I was very impressed about in Sunday school was that they took an offering, and EVERY child gave. Right now there is a food shortage and you would think that this children would be “pinching shillings” every chance they got, but they understand that what is theirs is truly from God, so they all gave with a gracious heart! It was truly humbling!

Shortly after my time in Sunday school, the actual church service began. We got to sing and dance again! Too fun! I wish we praised God back home the way that they do here. Every ounce of their body jumps for joy to their savior. It isn’t a fad or an obligation, its their way of showing our Father that they are joyful and praising God. Thinking of all the worries these people have to face on a day-to-day basis, they still love the Lord and praise him for ALL things.

After church we got to share tea with the Elders of their church and their wives. It was interesting, when the Elders would introduce their wives to us, they never said “This is my wife…..” They would just point to them and say “Alfred’s.” Once again another cultural difference I’m learning about the men and woman rolls in the African society. We were able to catch a ride on a tuktuk on the way home. It broke down a mile away from our compound…better to walk a mile then three!

Thank you again for all your constant prayers and encouragement. I pray you are blessed for the ways the Lord has used you to send me to Africa. One thing to remember: as much as the media wants you to think that Africa is a lost cause and forgotten by God, I’m here as a witness to testify against such claims. He is here! His children, His work and His presence are alive and well. He has not turned His back on Africa. Each day, all over Africa, tribes and tongues are bowing in reverence to our Savior.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A few more moments to write

I'm sorry my last blog was written a little hasty...I was in the Internet room at Scott College and it was getting late and I didn't want to have to walk back here is a more detailed update!

I hope this post finds you all doing well! I think of you all often and pray for you. I can feel all your prayers, truly! Just the way the Lord has provided in little or big ways helps me to know that I have a huge support system back home...and that is priceless! Each little comment or email from any of you helps me to remember my roots and how you have all played a key roll into me being in Kenya today. The first few days of orientation were jam packed with all 40 of us sharing our stories of how we all ended up in Africa with AIM. We were told to take 6 minutes but as the stories began, the 6 minute rule went out the window. Each story was unique and had its own individual pains and triumphs but the one common thread running throughout all the stories was Jesus Christ. It was amazing to hear all these stories and to see how God had called each individual to Africa at this time. It renewed my knowledge of knowing that God is God and has a perfect plan for each of us to glorify his work here on earth. One of the girls (Kim who I mentioned earlier) said a quote that has stuck with me ever since..."God did not call the qualified...He qualifies the called." No one here came too late or too early-they were meant for the July '09 ABO. I have been blessed to share in the lives of all these missionaries whether they are single woman or families. I've only known them since Tuesday but it feels like I've known them for years. My roommate here has also been a huge blessing. Knowing that we would be sharing the same small room for the next 3.5 weeks, I began to pray that God would place me with whoever he felt I needed and He gave me Amber! She is a sweet spirited, energetic, and fun woman from California. We stayed up till 1:30 the other night just talking about our own journeys (in more detail then 6 mins). It was great. She is on a TIMO team with AIM that sends young missionaries out to an unreached people group for 2.5 years. Right now she is serving in Southern Sudan with the Dadinga (spelling?) people. They have had many trials with this people group but have had some encouraging moments as well! I'm excited to keep up with her during my time in Africa.

Like I said in my last post, we are working on learning about the Africa culture and how Africans think and live. Of course we will never fully understand everything, but I've learned tons through my time here already. One of the biggest things that I learned was the "class system" here. Well more so just the hierarchy or individuals. Here is how its broken down...

1. Men
2. Live stock (cows) and property
3. Son(s)
4. Daughter(s)
5. Wife/Wives

How crazy is that? Totally backwards thinking from what we are used to (well I guess it depends on who you may ask in America) But for the most part, this is how it is. The woman do all the work around here while most of the men just sit around. I heard once that one woman has to walk over 40 minutes to retrieve water and then has to carry those gallons of water all the way back... on her head. No wonder they have so much pain and often have miscarriages :( . The women are given an even lower status if she is not able to bare children or sons. I found out that as a single white missionary that my status is different. They give me an honorary status that lays between #2 and #3. Because I'm independent and white, I get a much greater status in society. It is uncomfortable to walk around and see the woman do all the work and to be regarded as higher then them yet I did not come here to tell them how to live, nor did I come here to tell them what is right and wrong. I came to love them and to serve them and to share with them about Jesus Christ.

We are about to hike up a mountain. I wish I had the capability to upload pictures while in Manchakos, but right now I don't...but I wish you could see my view. Its beautiful. As I step out of my dorm and look to the left, there is this huge green mountain with little villages and huts scattered throughout. At night It looks just like the sky because all the little campfires look like glowing stars flickering in the night. Today, that mountain will be conquered by 30 AIM missionaries...whooo hoo! I'm definitely bringing my camera for this trip! We have to hike in our skirts though, since it is not proper up here for woman to wear "trousers." This may be the first and last time I will ever hike a mountain in 90 degrees and in a skirt! Life is an adventure! :) I'm excited to see what kind of people we will meet on this climb...I have a feeling we will pick up a few curious children during the duration of the hike!

Tomorrow I have another hike ahead of me! We had to volunteer to visit other churches around the area. There was one church that was labeled as the more "challenging" church because of the transportation needed to get there. I of course was feeling ambitious and took on the challenge. I later found out exactly what that challenge was...HA! So tomorrow morning me and a few other ABO-ers are meeting up with some Kenyans where we then will try to catch a ride with a Taxi-Bus into town, if not we will walk there (a few miles). Then once we get there we hop onto another taxi-bus. Then after a 30 min drive, we have a 45 min hike! WOWZA! The church service was described to us, by a Kenyan, as "long." Come to find out, "long"= we probably won't get back to our compound till 5pm. Pray for strength tomorrow...and a tough stomach-apparently the church is providing us lunch.

I hope this will last as a good update till I get a chance to catch another spot of Internet!
Love and miss you all!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jambo from Manchakos ( clue??)

Hello Everyone! Sorry its been a while...and I'll sadly admit, this one will be short! Thank you all so much for all your encouraging emails, prayers and comments...they have meant the world to me!

I left Nairobi a few days ago to come to ABO (Africa Based Orientation) where we are studying about Africa and all...we will be here for 3 weeks and will learn all about Africa...should be great! Sunday I will be visiting a church where we hike up the Mountain to a rural excited! I'll blog more about that but wanted you all to know that I'm still alive and praying for you and miss you all!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Here at Last

Jambo! (Hello!) Our plane finally touched down last night at 11:40! It took a little longer then expected, but hey...I'm learning to be flexible! It was fun though, since yesterday was my birthday, I got to spend it in 3 countries!!! We landed on the 17th in London, then had a problem with the plane which caused us to Land in Cairo, then arrived in Kenya!

The Lord did some amazing things during the traveling...amazing things that reminded me Who went before me and paved the way. I wanted to share some of these with you!

1. First was that I was very concerned about my carry-on luggage fitting on the plane. I had to take 2 computers, charger cords, external harddrives, 2 cameras, 4 lenses and all my other necessary carry-on items. To say the least, my bags were HUGE. Because of security reasons I was not allowed to check any of these items, so it was imperative that my huge bags were allowed on with me. As I'm standing in the Newark Airport, this random security guard for British Airways comes up to my group to tell us that our carry-on luggage looks to huge. I was so nervous at this point and became even more nervous as he pointed to my bags but then so relieved to hear what he had to say about them, "These bags right here...these are fine for carry-ons." WHAT???? Wow what a blessing that out of ALL the bags he chose to point out my bags to use as an example!

2. In the London airport we had to navigate a maze of escalators with hundreds of our closest impatient friends! As I reached the top of one of the escalators I felt a pull on my left pant leg and turned around to see it being sucked into the worst nightmare! I've heard horror stories of this but one tough pull and just an inch of missing fabric, my pants are fine!

3. When we finally reached Nairobi last night I went with my team to search through the luggage line for find our bags and boxes. We kept seeing bags going through the moving bag line and all of a sudden I see this sign on the line passing me that says "Missing Bags" and then...dun dun dun "Kate Joyce." Awesome! Ha I great this will be to be in Nairobi, leaving for a new city in a few days and no luggage! I prayed really hard that it would not be my box #1 that I packed for what I'll need for my first 2 months. A few moments later, box #1 came around the corner. Then #2, then #3, then #4! Praise God...the only box missing was my bike! Yeah, its still my bike but at least it wasn't something I needed right away!

I hope that encouraged you all to hear some of the things the Lord did just in the past 24 hours! My roommate Kim and I woke up this morning and headed to Church! Let me tell you....You haven't heard the song "Our God is an Awesome God." if you haven't heard it sung from the Beautiful voices of an African choir! It sent chills up my spine and just gave me this overwhelming relief knowing...I'M HERE...I'M really here! I hope one day you all will be able to experience the beauty of Africa voices filling the room! We also got a special treat at church today...The Vice President of Kenya himself was worshiping with us! He prayed over America and its new transition to Obama-how awesome is that....all the way over here they are praying for you guys at home!

After Church, my friend Kim called some of her friends who are missionaries in Nairobi and they picked us up to share a Chinese meal with them! After missing the past 3 meals, it was such a blessing! They are such a sweet family...and it was great, apparently this Chinese restaurant is where tons of missionaries go after church on Sundays. I got to meet about 25 missionaries with AIM including some of my Media team members! After lunch they brought us to a market and I got my first "Java House" drink...double espresso chino. Let me tell you, that espresso didn't make a dent in this jet-lag!

Ok well my battery is dying! Just wanted to update you guys! Miss you and love you all. Thanks for all your prayers and encouragement! I'll write soon, Internet permitting!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


And so it begins...or almost!  As I told a friend today....BRING IT ON!  
I have a HUGE praise already...I know, I know I haven't even left the states yet, but you can't praise God TOO much, now can you?  I feel as though the last few days have been so emotional for me...sorry for all those who saw the deep dark ugly cry!  Even coming up to AIM's headquarters today I felt very sad.  Its like I'm almost gone but not quite.  I want to hang on to every second with my family and friends knowing that it will be my last for some months.  But at the same time, I know I need to go.  Even if I waited a few months to feel more "ready" it would still be just as hard. back to my praise!  After dinner tonight I went back to my room to write some letters and chat with Megs online (she just got into JMU by the way!  GO DUKES!)  and I just sat there waiting for my roommate to walk in the room.  I found out that her flight was delayed and that she wouldn't be in for another 2 hours.  I was so curious as to what she would be like.  Finally I went downstairs to see if she had sneaked in... still no sign.  I made her up a plate for dinner and went back up stairs to write some more letters.  I started feeling sad again knowing how many families were on our team.  I wished so much that I was actually apart of a family going, better yet I wished MY family was going with me.  A few minutes later I heard Kimberly walking down the hallway.  The second she walked into the room and said hello I had to jump up and give her a hug...She is SO great!  We sat downstairs while she ate dinner and just talked and talked about how God has brought us to the place he has.  We also chatted about the difficulties of being single woman and moving to Africa and of the emotional sadness we face with leaving.  She is great, and God is good.  This is JUST the emotional encouragement I needed right now.   Unfortunately she will be moving to Tanzania shortly after our Orientation time, but I've got 3 weeks to get to hang out with her and what a blessing that will be! 

I hope to be updating as soon as I can!  For now, though, please be praying for my emotions with leaving... they tend to go all over the place right now!  :)  I miss you all and thanks for such a great send off...I love you all!

Monday, January 5, 2009

How do you pack for a year?

 Starting tonight, the packing frenzy begins!  Many people have been asking me how you pack and prepare for living overseas for a year (+)...I thought I'd show you all!  The three black cases will hold all my clothes, bedding, office supplies, and other odds and ends I'll need in Kenya.  The case on the right already has my bike inside in a dozen pieces....I'm sure I'll have an awesome time trying to put that together again! (wish I could pack up that little guy in the corner!)

Some packing prayer request:  
1) My camera lens decided to break this weekend.  I had to ship it off today...pray that it gets fixed by Monday!
2) My Doctor has delayed my medical release form...pray all my tests get in on time.
3) Pray I pack everything I think I need!
3) Pray that I get to see all friends and family before I leave!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Years.

Happy New Year! New years eve seems like such a silly holiday to celebrate. For me, it kinda stresses me out to know that a WHOLE YEAR just went did that happen? I thought the same thing this year as I counted down till the ball dropped. I think if I could define this year in one word it would be CHANGE (Completely unrelated to Obama). I hate change...I know you can't stop it but no matter how much change I've had in my life over the years, I still hate it the same. This year was defined by many life changing events. May brought graduation. In one weekend my life with the four girls I've lived with and loved dearly changed drastically as we all moved out of our house, The Dollhouse. In June I signed on with Africa Inland Mission to join their media team for an entire year. Change was also seen as the end of the summer came to a close...normally my summer ends drastically when school starts up in the fall, but this summer I stayed home and lived with my parents so the summer more so faded as the cold weather moved in. In November a close friend moved away to Mississippi for flight school to begin his next stage of life leaving the rest of us behind. And now, the biggest change so far in my life is about to happen....AFRICA! I am so excited about seeing what the Lord has in store for me in Africa and all the adventures I will be apart of!

I guess there is a good side to the story as well. The New Year brings new beginnings and clean slates. A good friend and I discussed our New Years resolutions over coffee the other day. I hadn't thought much about this next year other than knowing that I would be in Africa. It was good for me to really ponder what I want this next year to look like. I'm glad for a clean slate so that I can really work on areas in my life I know the Lord wants to work and mold me. I want this next year to be defined with what I do with all this change. I want this year to be defined by 4 new words....boldness,peacefulness,surrender, and strength. I want to grown in boldness in the Lord, boldness to stand up for injustices, boldness in sharing my faith, and boldness to go to Africa and to not just survive this next year but to thrive through strength and courage. I want to grown in the way I carry myself with having peace. You know those people in your life that have peace and no matter what life throws at them, they have peace that it is all in the Lord's control. That's what I want my life to be defined by. A friend and I were talking the other day about what it takes to be at peace with different areas of our lives. Our conclusion being, surrender. Many areas of my life I like to have some control over rather then let go and allow the Lord to work, whether it be my future, a relationship, a job, a broken name it, I need to surrender it to our Lord. He is the ultimate creator and has each detail of our lives worked out...I need to learn to surrender them all to the Lord so that I can find peace rather then feel a loss of control. And finally, strength. I think its easy to look at this next year and see it as this HUGE year with many "mountains" for me to climb. I loose sight of Who has brought me this far and Who will continue to lead me. I want to have strength in the highs and lows of this next adventure to keep sight of our King and to keep the main thing the main thing.

"Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold." 2 Corinthians 3:12

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9