“Daily Strength for Daily Needs” by Mary W. Tileston is by far my favorite devotional book. You can get it for free on your kindle. So go do that right now.
I feel the majority of my last couple posts have been all mushy about how much I love my mom and my family – so maybe I just really miss you guys, and even in danger of losing some followers I am still going to write this. Today’s reading is for my Mom, Brett’s Mom, for all 3 of my Sisters (counting a soon to be) and for all three of my Grandmothers.
“Are they not all ministering spirits?” – Hebrews 1.14 (KJV)
Certainly, in our own little sphere it is not the most active people to whom we owe the most. Among the common people whom we know, it is not necessarily those who are the busiest, not those who, meteor-like, are ever on the rush after some visible charge and work. It is the lives, like the stars, which simply pour down on us the calm light of their bright and faithful being, up to which we look and out of which we gather the deepest calm and courage. It seems to me that there is reassurance here for many of us. If we can do nothing for our fellow-man, it still it is good to know that we can be something for them; to know (and this we may know surely) that no man or woman of the humblest sort can really be strong, gentle, pure and good, without the world being better for it, without somebody being helped and comforted by the very existence of that goodness. – Phillips Brooks
In a comment from my most recent post my Mom responded with her very own poem… She showed me up!! Hahaha I love her so much! It is my mom who makes me smile and laugh the way I do… See for yourself how amazing (and funny) she is!
You make me laugh out loud which is such a good thing
But with this I hope you are listening …
You can love it today
You can even want to stay
But when there are grandbabies involved
I better get a call
From the phone – to the car – to the airport
I will come in a dash for that plane ticket
I will work harder for cash.
You have been a delight since the day of your birth
Having you and your brother has been the best experience on earth.
When you become a mom and brett a new dad
Don’t do as your parents did or you both will be sad
Raise your children to be co-dependent from the start
Then you will never have to deal with the leaving home part.
What you are doing is such an exciting thing
I too loved waking by little ones singing
When you are ready for children my phone better be ringing
Enjoy your time in your new far away world
Learn all that you can and share your smile everyday
But keep your eyes open to this one simple truth – when it comes to THAT Special DAY
I will steal your children away : )
JUST SO YOU KNOW
Luv Ya !
February has brought a new sense of dedication and motivation to my work here. Brett, as many of you know is always dedicated and motivated but sometimes I need some inspiration! It might be because threat of elections and evacuation are in the back of my mind for March, or it could be because I’ve been reading through Ruth and then now all of Davids stories – Let me tell you what! Those people are powerhouses! Reading about their lives, struggles and accomplishments really puts a person (Me) in their place. Life is difficult here for a huge number of reasons but also this is a chance of a lifetime and I need to keep reminding MYSELF that. I know all of you are very good about encouraging us, but it needs to come from personal motivation and now, I think I have a hold on it :o)
Reading the short book of Ruth brought me all the way back to my wedding day. I told Brett in my vows ”Wherever you go, I will go; Wherever you live, I will also live.” A quote directly from Ruth (I realize Ruth was talking to her Mother-In-Law – that just makes her all the more loyal and brave). Our life so far has mostly worked out that way… He wanted to go to Haiti for a few months on and off over about a two year span, but I persuaded him to join the Peace Corps instead. Overall I am happy with that decision. Being here is a roller coaster (as the Peace Corps staff will tell you many times throughout your training), but when else do you have the opportunity to travel the world, help others, and help YOURSELF at the same time. When times get rough, and the process of projects seem to take FOREVER I just remind myself that I am learning SO much here! If nothing else I am becoming a stronger, braver, more self-motivated person and with those skills… I am sure I can do just about anything.
Seems like a praise Brittany session — but it’s not about me. It’s about God working some magic in my mind and giving me exemplary examples like Ruth and David to follow. Honestly, if I kept reading the Bible every day I might surprise myself at the things I can be capable of!!
Vacation is a funny thing. It can revive you, give you a fresh perspective, but it can also exhaust you! Being back in Ol’Kalou has shown us that our vacation to the beach did all of those things and more. Now, however, it is time to pick back up our work! I wish I could take pictures of the work we do here, but as is true in America you cannot simply snap photos of families and children without their consent… and getting consent is not an easy task. But also I need more time with my community before I start trying to distract them with all of my fancy gadgets. When we first meet communities we need to build a relationship with them before we pull out all of our electronics. Remember, I have only been here for three months. That is not a significant amount of time. However, I promise you that once I start taking pictures of our projects you will get them. I cannot wait to show you what work looks like for us!!! In the meantime I will just have to write it out. This is a synopsis of the projects we presently have going on, and what we hope to start soon.
Currently we have four projects in various stages of development. Working directly with our Community Health Workers (CHW’s) we have started formulating business strategies for three IGA’s or Income Generating Activities, and one simple fundraiser.
The fundraiser involves the members of the group to work together in sewing a quilt that will display all of the various beautiful African fabrics in Kenya. Once it is complete I will ship it home to my Grandmother who has offered, so generously, to have it reinforced for me. Then we will send it to Beyond Poverty and they will hold an auction. Our joint hope is that we can raise enough money to supply our CHW’s with a small stipend each month, approximately $4. This will reimburse them for the money they already spend out of their own pockets in airtime, travel and food expenses four days a month. With this reimbursement we hope to improve the retention rate of our group. A small tidbit about this; the two village areas that we work most with started out with 50 CHW’s apiece. Now, we are lucky to have 15 actively working. It is a tough job in an even tougher environment… but more on that later.
Our IGA’s are our biggest projects right now. Already we have finished the bulk of our work for a pea farm. It makes me smile to think of a pea farm. It is such a simple vegetable to grow with a huge profit potential. Our CHW group in Rurii was desperately trying to find the funds to begin this project when we arrived. All they needed was the last 2000 Ksh. Only $30. Beyond Poverty took up the cause and as soon as they donated the funds the group hit the ground. Now, we only have two months before harvest and the crop is doing fantastically! The other two projects we have seen from the beginning and thus have had to play a much bigger role in.
Although I have this fear of rambling in my blog posts, I think it is important for me to dote on my husband really quick. Brett has a knack for facilitating group meetings. He can approach projects and concerns and seem completely unbiased to the outcome, while still leading the group into the most beneficial decisions. It is exhilarating to see several dozen people enlightened to a solution that they truly believe is their own. You or I could tell people the best route, best project, best process… but Brett leads them into finding this out on their own. It is a drastically better outcome and a much more sustainable solution. This is what happened with our Rabbit Rearing and Potato Farm IGA’s.
Brett started the meetings with a simple question, “What are your strengths as a group.” Four hours later the group had gone through all their various strengths, costs of turning those strengths into projects, possible complications and potential profits once completed. Seemingly all on their own they decided on Rabbit Rearing and Potato Farming. The two projects we had predicted all along… sneaky sneaky. Since then they have written out a business plan, created bylaws, and have started gathering all the necessary materials to get started. We will hold a meeting this week to finalize all the plans they have made and by the middle of January we will purchase the land for the potato’s and also the initial 20 female rabbits. The land will be purchased by Beyond Poverty, but all the work, seedlings, fertilizer and maintenance will be handled by the CHW’s. Just the same, the first 20 rabbits are purchased by Beyond Poverty as well. However the CHW’s are to build their own hutches, supply their own feeding and maintenance and once their female has babbies they will repay Beyond Poverty with a female rabbit from the litter. Those babies will go into a community rabbit hutch maintained by Beyond Poverty for future projects within the community.
Along with these initiatives we have had several other project proposals from various members around the community. They are much bigger feats and will take considerably more planning, but we have started to write out missions and goals with the hope that we can see them to fruition. The biggest is the need to open a school in a village called Huruma. It is considered the slum of our area and is desperate need of help for the children. Obviously, this is a huge task but we are going to keep looking into options. Similarly, there is a church who wants to start a sponsorship program for the orphans in their catchment area. There is not an orphanage to house the children so they are staying with community families and are in need of extra funds for school fees, clothing, food and counseling. These are both huge projects to start and complete in two years, but who knows – Brett and I have talked extensively of leading a duel life both here in Kenya and back in the States. So we will just have to see what happens!
There you have it. It is back to work for us. Vacation was a much need reprieve but now we are looking forward to getting back to the hustle of village life.
Living in Kenya you find out quickly what things you should share about your life and what you should not. For instance, I am rarely from America any more when I’m out of my site. I am instead, Canadian. Its easier… for some reason. Here is how it goes:
Kenyan: Unatoka Wapi? (Where are you from)
Kenyan: Sawa (Ok)
OR it can go like this
Kenyan: Unatoka Wapi?
Kenyan: Ooooo American! Nipe (give me) –>; Water, Sweets, A Wife/Husband, Address for my visa, first born child…. Everything.
Needless to say, everyone is happier when I am Canadian. I can get work done easier and don’t have to ruin my first time meeting someone with a bunch of “No, you can’t haves.” It never stops there though. Eventually you get to the point where Kenyans start making up your life stories too. People here like to tell me how many children I am going to have and what their names will be (always their name). They love to pick out my next home and even sometimes my second husband. It’s always easier to play along. I give them back a lot of “Eh’s” and laughs and it appeases them. Recently, though I did get perturbed with an instance of this.
We were on safari with 8 of our friends. Relaxing at the hotel/tent city in our chairs, drinking wine and talking about all the crazy things we had seen that day. A man approaches. Silence. He is just standing there… So we start the simple Swahili greetings. When we are out of those and there is no way he is leaving (as is culture here) we start into more in depth discussion like work and family… things we can still say in Swahili. So then he retorts with questions for us. When he found out Brett and I were married and didn’t have children he was shocked. This is typical. Then we start discussing how many children I should have. Him and Brett were in cahoots about me having 12 kids. They loved this idea. I kept saying no, obviously :) I wanted 4 children. That was plenty, plus I am getting old. But no 12 was the number that kept being pushed at me… well I started to get a little irritated. It wasn’t a big deal… but at the first sign of a snippy remark Rachel turns to me and says “Brittany, this is a Made-Up Conversation – You can’t get mad at this.” Which is true. I laughed… and then laughed harder. Eventually we all laughed until we cried with the poor little Masaai Man wondering what the heck was going on. This instance wasn’t that funny, but its the first time someone brought to light how many things we pretend about here just to make it through the day.
Christmas wasn’t an exception… I thought it would be a fantastic idea to incorporate everyone’s most favorite tradition into our beach vacation. But it turned out to be simpler and better for everyone if it didn’t happen at all. I’m not even sure if I heard a Merry Christmas from anyone but Brett. We were all bummed about it. So we just pretended that it was another day and let it pass us by.
This entire month has been the same. We have been tourist for most of it and always from different countries with sometimes fake names. We have enjoyed ourselves and now that it is coming to and end we are all well rested from the village life and I think it is safe to say we are all looking forward to going back to site. We will bring in the New Year together on the beach hopefully dancing too hard and staying up until sunrise. We will start off 2013 the right way!
Throughout this experience I have had one constant dread- Losing Friends. It may come as a shock to you – but this is a common difficulty among volunteers. I don’t think it is necessarily anyone’s fault but chances are we are going to grow away from people we never once thought we would loose touch with. 2.5 years is an awfully long time to be separated from one another, but on a totally different level we are separated by cultures and worlds that no one will understand until they have lived that life themselves. So the problem comes down to not being able to communicate and relate to each other.
For example, in the first 6 months of my 2.5 year stint I am already missing my cousins wedding and two of my best friends weddings. Then, I still have basically 2 years left to miss other weddings and bigger than that, babies! I have no idea what it is going to be like for all of my friends to start having children and begin new lives that have no connection to mine. I will rarely be able to speak to them and when I can, there is only so much you can do in a hour long conversation with splotchy connections. Not to mention, during those short conversations I have to also be able to relay my life in a third world country with a people and culture they can’t relate to. Needless to say, it is very possible that when I get home my friends, family and I might have a hard time reconnecting and I have to start preparing myself for that… and hopefully find creative ways to make that gap smaller.
In thinking about these upcoming hardships it makes me sad to think about how here in the States I have already lost touch with so many friends that are right at my fingertips. While working today I ran into the beautiful mother of one of my old middle/highschool friends. It was amazing catching up and getting to share stories, but also very sad because I have not seen them in years. Sometimes, you just loose touch. I guess I can see how people just get busy and can’t find the time- of course I am a culprit of that excuse… but other times – far worse times – friends have a “falling out” over issues that really shouldn’t matter. Now that we are all getting married it seems that these “falling outs” happen more and more often… How sad is it that you can be friends with someone and over small mishaps just write them off like you never had a care in the world. Let me tell you, I don’t know a single friend who hasn’t had this happen at their wedding. It could of happened at mine… But why do we do this? Why do we write off important people in our life like we don’t need them?
The truth to the matter is one day we will regret this. I think about my long lost friends all the time. Check on them on Facebook… wish we kept in better touch. Facebook should be a tool in helping friends stay in touch but in most cases it doesn’t get put to good use. I wish it were easier, staying friends for years and years and years… but it doesn’t happen much. I am lucky to still keep in great contact with a few of my friends from highschool. I sneak up on many others by looking at pictures and sending happy thoughts but I should try harder to write a quick message… Hopefully I will.
In the meantime, To all my best friends -I hope that we make valiant efforts to stay close - I promise you I will try my best… and to all my old friends – I still think about you and hopefully we can have lunch sometime :)
Ten Rules for Being Human
by Cherie Carter-Scott
|1.||You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it’s yours to keep for the entire period.|
|2.||You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called, “life.”|
|3.||There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error, and experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately “work.”|
|4.||Lessons are repeated until they are learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.|
|5.||Learning lessons does not end. There’s no part of life that doesn’t contain its lessons. If you’re alive, that means there are still lessons to be learned.|
|6.||“There” is no better a place than “here.” When your “there” has become a “here”, you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here.”|
|7.||Other people are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.|
|8.||What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.|
|9.||Your answers lie within you. The answers to life’s questions lie within you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.|
|10.||You will forget all this.|
Some things just make you happy. You must copy those things and spread the word :) This gave me a brief Ah-Ha moment ( the Ah-Ha moment is not over quite yet, but I am human so I’m sure it will be by tomorrow ) … Enjoy it, Spread it, Believe it and make greatness come out of it!