Sunday, August 19, 2012

Where to begin...

I’m not quite sure where to start this blog. So many good things to talk about that have happened this week, and I should probably be blogging more but our days are filled to the brim with activities. I will start with a few fun things I have learned about Chepanyl so far:

1) Whether you are a man or a woman, the kids will call you sister…or actually more like “sista.” The kids would call us by our names every now and then (Leeeez, Met, Neeek and Ryeleen), but when they wanted our attention, they called out “Sista!” At first, Raelynne and I thought they were only doing this to us, but after talking to Nick and Matt, turns out they were doing it to them too. 

2) A short walk is not “short” or “normal walking” by any means. We are on a mountain, so it’s basically a constant uphill or downhill hike. Yesterday, the four of us went on a hike, left around 9:30 am and returned by noon (Side note: Raelynne ran our entire hike in about an hour…that girl not only has lungs of steel but a drive for exercise that I can only imagine.). It was a fantastic hike with many beautiful viewpoints and many of the kids that we worked with at camp ran to the road to say hello. Even from far away they could see us coming, and would wave (and call out Sista!). We got back and played volleyball for awhile and the Deacon (Samuel) said he would like to go on a short nature walk with us in an hour. So, a short walk…no problem! We were still tired from hiking earlier that day, but a chance to spend some time with the Deacon was a treat. Well, this was not “short” nor a walk (over an hour, up and down, up and down), but we had excellent conversation about his vocation, vocations in Kenya, and his challenges here, and he took us to a beautiful viewpoint that had us looking into an incredible valley. On the way back through town we met one of the government officials for the area that immediately welcomed us, said he did not want us to leave, and that if we ever wanted to come back he would find us land and build us houses!

3) All the women here wear skirts and all the men wear pants. I feel like Raelynne and I have gotten away with wearing pants for the most part, we probably got a few stares at first but people have adjusted to our pant-wearing.  Matt wore shorts yesterday, and as we were walking around town, I started realizing that people were walking by, mostly women, were looking at his legs. Then I looked around and realized that no men were wearing shorts at all. Nothing insulting by any means, but it was interesting watching the ladies stroll by him and try to inconspicuously look at his legs. Hands off, he’s mine!

4) Dinner is actually lunch, and supper is actually dinner.

So rewinding a bit. Camp with the kids Tuesday – Friday was nothing but chaotic fun. We split the 150 kids into three age groups, what we would consider Pre-K, Elementary, and middle school. We were so grateful to have 5 high school students and 1 nursery school teacher to help us translate and give instructions…it definitely would’ve been difficult without them, not impossible, but difficult. We would start each day with a craft, have snack, either finish up that craft or do another simple one, break for lunch, and then spend the last few hours playing outside. The kids absolutely love playing soccer, so we spent a lot of time doing that. They also like volleyball, but it is harder for them because they want to play by the rules so it wasn’t as fun for them and we would end up reverting back to soccer. We all fell into a specialty – Raelynne and I would spend a majority of the day with the little kids and Nick and Matt would spend their time with the older kids.

Day Three: Puppets!
The kids of the Pokot are very special – many of them are very shy (especially the little ones) and if you give them a smile or any kind of praise they dig their faces in their hands, only to open them to see you still smiling. I am getting chills just writing about them! We could always get the little one’s giggling by making a fishy face or other silly faces. The older children I could get going, laughing and jumping around me by dancing in the middle of their classroom. When we had them drawing or coloring, they stopped you as much as possible to show you their creations which always resulted in praise from us, and then digging their smiles into their hands.

The kids really look out for each other, whether they are related or not. If one falls down, two are there to pick them up. Fighting is minimal and if they argue over something, it doesn’t last more than a few seconds and they deflate it themselves without any adult intervention. They have great responsibilities… as we walk along the road we see many of them (some as little as 2 years old!) tending to the family cows and sheep, carrying large jugs of water or other large bags. What a blessing for us to give them the opportunity to be kids, if only one week from 9 am -  3 pm.

Right now we are waiting to go to the Sunday communion service. The priest that serves this area had two deaths in his family recently and is unable to make it back for Mass today, so the Deacon will lead a communion service. It is now, 9:40 am, he said it would start at 9:30 am but the Sisters have told us it probably won’t start until about 10-10:30 am (so we are on Kenyan time as usual).

Today we will plan for three days of camp in Mungit…about an hour drive or 40 minute walk from here. Apparently the kids from this town are poorer and have most likely never used markers or crayons! A little different than this past week, so we will have to plan carefully. The end of the week will be planning a day for children with disabilities and helping women with their production unit and business planning. I am looking forward to this as I think we can be a great resource for them.    

On a lighter note, I just want to say that my sister Alison would be so proud of me here. She always asks what happened to me, because I hated camping when I was younger and never wanted to do such things, but after marrying Matt, I went on many camping adventures out west with (little to) no problem. (To be honest, I don’t know what happened, other than my husband bringing out the best in me and also, learning to compromise.) The other morning, I woke up with a small cockroach crawling next to me in bed and didn’t even flinch…I just brushed it away. We have a few lizards in our mission house too that didn’t bother me either. Aren’t you proud of me sis?!

Finally, just want to write that Matt and I will be celebrating our third wedding anniversary here on Tuesday. We are extremely blessed to be here, and to have committed our lives to each other.

Things I am grateful for on this day:

1)      The ability (at home) to go to Mass every Sunday, and have a choice between many different Mass times and churches that are very close by.

2)      How welcoming the Pokot people are and how truly excited and grateful they are that we are here.

3)      Monogamy. Polygamy is still alive in Kenya, and men have many wives. Matt has already told some people he could only handle one wife J It makes them laugh.


  1. I like the comment, "If one falls down, two are there to pick them up.". It reminds me of Jesus' constant reminder for us to be childlike. I also enjoy and am privilege to witness how you and Matt live out your vocations as husband & wife. There is no doubt you each lead and at times challenge each other towards Christ. God has blessed me by knowing you. I will remember you in my mass intentions on Tueday.

  2. Yay Camping!!! We are all proud of ya sis, you have definitely come a long way in the Camping department... And that you are so dedicated to helping others 8^) LOVE the Puppets - I remember those and they are lovely!
    Love you both lots!