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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Morning brings a hunger for new eyes"

Jambo, ya’ll!

I hope this blog post finds you all well! I’m sitting here in my home in Kenya freeeeeezing! Yes, FREEZING! Crazy, huh? Who knew that Africa could get cold? Thankfully my mom brought over a nice soft fleece throw to keep me warm…. Mom, you rock!

Life has been pretty insane for me this “summer.” There have been tons of changes and life’s ups and downs. I apologize for not writing more but I have now set a new goal to update you all weekly on what is going on in my life. It’s hard to believe that I have now been here for half a year. It seriously few by sooooo quickly. I recall getting ready to leave the States and worried that this year would go by soooo slow but oh was I wrong!

In the past six months I’ve gone through 3 weeks of orientation, 4 weeks of living with a Kenyan family, 4 weeks of language school, getting sick, starting my ministry with the On Field Media team, traveling to Tanzania, moving twice, learned how to drive, traveled to Sudan…..and had visitors! ☺

My first visitors that came were 2 of my best friends…. Hannah and Catherine. It was such a blessing to have them here with me for two whole weeks! We jam packed those weeks with various adventures…every day we created new memories. It was so great to laugh again with friends who know me backwards, forwards, inside, and out. I love looking back on photos of our time together and knowing that they now have shared memories with me here and can relate to stories of new made friends and newly discovered places in Kenya. It was so difficult to say goodbye to them but I know that “Friends are friends forever when the Lord’s the lord of them…..” (Sarah Moore….that corny line is just for you! Haha ;) )

Shortly after my friends left I was visited by……. My friend, Kate, and my sister Megs!!!!! It of course was an emotional meeting! ( I always count it a victory when I can make my little sister cry….and I was victorious at the airport!) The first thing out of my sister’s mouth after we hugged was “I can’t believe you are you! I can touch you…. You aren’t just a talking head on a computer screen!” Thank the Lord for technology! A few days later my mom and brother, Justin arrived and it was just as good to be able to hug them again! Nothing like seeing Mom at the perfect time! Annnd a few days after that my dad arrived from Rwanda! We made a “Flatt Ryan” version of my older brother to bring with us on all our adventures so he wasn’t left out. We had seven days together and knew we would have to jam pack it with fun and memories… we had 6 months to make for!

I was so proud of how my family acclimated to Nairobi. Things that I anticipated would surprise them barely fazed them! They were super adventurous… trying new foods, shopping at the market, and keeping their mouths shut in the car while I drove ;). One of our highlights was being able to go to the Masai Mara for a 2 day Safari! We stayed at the Mara Sarova Hotel and it was fabulous. I’d rate it 6 stars if that were an option! We got to see every animal….I was most amazed at the elephants and the lions. Those two animals have been on my “bucket list” of things to do and see before I die. I can now die happy….well except for the rest of the items on my “bucket list.”

It was sooo hard to see my family go. Having them here was such a blessing. The Lord’s timing is incredible because he knew exactly when I needed them and he was able to provide to get them here at just the right time. It was strange waving goodbye to them at the airport. We kept waving as they went deeper and deeper into the airport. Finally I knew that it was time to let them go and it was not my time to go with them. I blew them a kiss and gave them the sign “I love you.” And backed away from the window. It was strange. It was strange knowing that for such a short time they were on my side of the world, with me but now are back in America far, far away from here.

I’ll admit that the days that followed are goodbye has been a little rough. I’ve done a lot of processing about life and the last few months trying to sort some things out. This evening I was looking through my blog archives and looking back on the past six months. One that I came across that stood out was my post about New Years. I listed my new years resolutions for this year. As I read each one I realized that it was time for me to assess how I’ve been doing in these areas….

"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

I think recently the Lord is challenging me on all of these areas. Another one that I feel the Lord has been speaking to me about is living more fearless…and I think that will come as I work on the four attributes: Boldness, peace, surrender, and strength.

I’ve been praying that the Lord would use me during this time in Africa….to grown and refine me. I don’t want my time here to wrap up with me being the same Kate that I was before I left the states. I want to be a woman of the Lord who see’s life through Christ’s eyes….is broken for those He is broken for… who walks boldly in Christ… who lives in peace… who is able to surrender my future and my hopes and dreams to Christ… who has strength to face whatever the Lord lay ahead of me….and to live fearlessly no matter the circumstance. I think fear holds me back from a lot of things… I don’t want it to anymore. Whether it’s a fear of the unknown, of a conversation, of new beginnings, of loving and being loved, of hardships and doing things alone…. Fear will not rule.

I’ve got quite a few things to continue to work on but I’m looking forward to some quality time with me and the Lord. Just a few days ago as I was saying goodbye to my family I saw my loneliness here as a curse but I’m slowly seeing it as a blessing. How cool is that that God would bring me all the way to the beautiful land of Africa to spend some one on one time with Him.

"When I have been a victim of familiarity
When my heart has fallen into sleep
Healing is the voice that awakens me
And it is you"

* I'm going to be posting soon with more details about my family's time here with me! (pictures included of course)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

God Bless the USA...all the way from Kenya!

I hope that you all had an AMAZING Fourth of July! Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. I love the buzz in the air, the smell of bbqs, and the fireworks that wrap up the evening. Things are a tad bit different in Kenya when it comes to celebrating the Fourth of July…..obviously!

If you were to ask any of my friends here if I were excited about the Fourth of July arriving, they would for sure say that I wouldn’t stop talking about it! I counted down the days till I got to celebrate the 4th. Knowing that things would be different, my friends and I were determined to make the most of it! There are five of us that hang out (Sammi, Joelle, Luke, Phil, and me)….perfect amount to pack into my car and find some trouble….er,I mean fun! (Joelle is from Canada so we had pitty on her and let her be an American for the day. )

We started our celebration bright and early…. 8am. Sammi was up in Machakos volunteering to help watch kids for those at the Africa Based Orientation (ABO) for AIM so our first stop was Machakos! Before Machakos, however Joelle invited us all over for a breakfast. In the invitation she said: “Dress up in western outfits and bring country music!” I thought she was going to try to make fun of us Americans somehow since we like to tease her about being from Canada but instead she shared a Canadian tradition with us! It was called a “Stampede Breakfast” which apparently is a tradition in her town. For ten days the whole city shuts down to celebrate the stampede. All over the city people host amazing breakfasts. It begins on the first Thursday in July and continues for ten days. Sooo, although it was the 4th of July (an American holiday) we got to celebrate a Canadian tradition too! And it was Yummy! I got to make the pancakes and added an American twist….Mickey Mouse! :)

(Our "Stampede Breakfast"... Phil, Luke, Me, Joelle (the Canadian :) )

After our “Stampede Breakfast” we hit the road for Machakos. It was a fun ride with friends. We got to drive through many different towns and see so many beautiful mountains! The last time I traveled this road was in January and back then the roads were ROUGH! They made a new road but……..I didn’t get that memo. After a little “detour” (riding down a ravine and through a construction site) we made it to Machakos. It was exactly how I’d seen it 5 months ago! We got to meet a lot of new missionaries who just arrived and it was amazing for me to see them and to realize that I’m not “new” anymore!

Shortly after we picked up Sammi, the five of us headed to Mt. Lukenya where my pastor owns a camp. He invited all the Americans he knew for a bbq. It was BEAUTIFUL out there! So great to get out of the chaos of Nairobi and enjoy the fresh air! After a good old American bbq, we headed to the volley court for some “Big Ball Volleyball!” Ok….50 something Americans (plus one Canadian) on a volleyball court with a 3 foot ball is insane! Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of the event, which is sooo sad cause it was a site to see. I laughed more than I hit the ball….for sure! Our team lost (wah wah) but it didn’t matter…the fun we had was priceless! The camp is on 100 acres. On one side of the camp is a mountain and the other side is a safari park…pretty much incredible to say the least! My pastor’s son, Paul, (who is the camp director) handed me his keys to his four-wheeler after the game. I’ve found a new passion of mine…four-wheeling around the African Bush…tooo fun! It was like Jet-skiing but without the water! I hope to get back out to that camp soon and ride some more! Before we left the camp, Paul invited us to his house that he just built. Yes, you read that right, he BUILT his very own house! It was AMAZING! I felt like it should be on one of those “Home” TV channels. The moment I walked in my jaw dropped. It was this incredible ranch in the middle of a Safari park. Paul says that a lot of times he eats dinner on his back porch as the sunsets, watching giraffe walk by. As we left the camp my mind was occupied with how I can get OFM to move out to some place like this camp! Haha….like that would ever happen!

(The Camp bbq... Joelle, Luke, Sammi, Renee, Me, Phil)

Our drive home was a little less eventful since I was able to find the newly paved road…and it was quite nicer than driving through the ravine! We made a stop at the grocery store and picked up some food for our own dinner that evening. It turned out amazing! We had marinated chicken, rosemary potato wedges and steamed green beans. (Don’t worry….we explained to the Canadian that this isn’t a traditional 4th of July dinner such as hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, and corn on the cob.) It was one of the best dinners I’ve had in a while….soo tasty! The company, of course made the night. Laughter filled the air constantly as we recalled memories from the day and the past few months. We wrapped up the evening with quite a few rounds of the game “Apples to Apples” then 3 episodes of “The Office.” Have I mentioned before that we laughed a lot on the 4th? ☺

So, recap: Despite the fact that we were the minority who actually celebrate the 4th of July in Kenya we were able to make the most of it and make lasting memories. There were no fireworks, but there were constant explosions of laughter.

God Bless the USA!

P.s. I still have yet to update on my time spent with two of my best friends who visited me for two weeks! It was an incredible time! Once I get pictures then I will for sure fill you all in on the adventures we had! ☺