Monday, February 4, 2013

Week One...Check!

Lessons Learned:

I have begun realizing how much I have been brainwashed with the American "majority/minority" mentality. I could be sitting in Daystar's dining hall, or in a classroom and be the only white person there, yet, I still feel like a majority rather than a minority. How twisted is that? That is something I have noticed and have begun trying to break down in my mind. I want to better understand why I feel that way and why it is wrong.

In my African Culture class today our lecturer said two significant things that really hit home for me as an American:

"If you want to jeopardize your life in Africa, you raise a point against the government." -Chiko

We are so blessed to have a democratic government that protects our rights- esp. freedom of speech and expression.

"There are people in this country who do not know where to get a single penny, but still live economically." -Chiko

I have noticed after seeing how other people live and trying things like washing my laundry by hand, taking short, cold showers, having less technology, and eating rice at almost every meal, just how materialistic Americans are and how comfortable we are in our little bubbles and ways of life. Just because we were taught to live life one way, does not make it the only way, or an economical way.

My bliss:

I feel so at home here. Especially when I'm interacting with the children I have met so far. Their smiles capture my heart, and their fascination and curiosity make me feel not so alone when everything around me is so new. Seeing Kenyan culture through a child-like point of view is something I really appreciate and it has helped me realize how much is out there for me to learn.

On our first trip to downtown Nairobi, we were walking through a park by a pond and out of nowhere, two kids walked right up to Luke and joined our group. We paused and decided that this shady spot by the pond was the perfect spot for a group picture and to interact with these kids. Tyler took pictures of them and showed them his camera as they beamed with smiles, Jake taught them high-fives, and Paige wooed them over with candy. It is absolutely a moment I will not forget.  There was also another boy who was probably around 10 who threw bread crumbs in the pond for Jake and I so that we could see the Tilapa fish jump around.


photo cred: Becca Reed
Then as we moved on to our next destination, we saw a little boy (about 4 years old?) carrying his baby sister down the sidewalk. It broke my heart. How blessed am I that my mom was able to stay at home with me or pay for babysitters, when this little boy- who was barely old enough to talk- appears to be this little girls caregiver during the day? I'm not sure if their parents were out working or if they are even alive, but seeing this little boy acting as an adult truly changed my perspective on  how blessed I am and what things like poverty, human deprivation, and oppression mean.

photo cred: Dara Veenstra
On Friday, most of us did not have classes so we decided to venture down the road to get fresh smoothies (for about 50 US cents) and to explore the shops and meet some people. We quickly learned that a lot of the people living on this road do not speak English well or have very thick accents. We came across a group of about 6 children (all under age 5) playing and tried to say hello. They were frightened of us and cowered behind their parents. Their parents laughed and tried to make them say hello. Their efforts didn't work. We walked on and when we turned around to head back we knew we would see these children again. Paige got out her candy (quite the ice breaker) and we arrived by their home again. This time, a little girl (probably 2 years old) came running into my arms and hugged my next tightly and started playing with my glasses. Paige gave out tootsie rolls and the oldest of the kids kept saying "Choc-o-late." It was adorable. My heart instantly melted. We gave high-fives and laughed and I just held on to that little girl and she rested her head on my shoulder. When it was time to leave, she pouted and her parents thought it was hilarious! I hope to see them again soon. 

photo cred: Becca Reed
photo cred: Becca Reed
After church this Sunday, Jeff invited our group to his apartment in Nairobi for hotdogs, hamburgers, potato wedges, fruit, pop, and this amazing salsa-like dish that you top your meats with. It was phenomenal. We played games, ate WAY to much food, hung out with his daughter and family and chatted about our experiences as well as the big weekend we have coming up. We are being blessed with the opportunity to go and visit Jeff's wife's village. Jeff's wife is from the Rendille tribe who are semi-nomadic camel herders. The Rendille Village is located in Northern Kenya and we will be there from Saturday morning until Monday morning. Jeff has informed us that it will be life changing and that not very many Africans, let alone Americans, get the opportunity to go and spend time with these people, learning about their culture. I am stoked to say the least. Also, Jeff's wife has made us each a traditional Rendille outfit (dresses for the girls, wraps for the boys). 

Before we had arrived at Jeff's apartment, we went to visit the Arboretum. It was so beautiful and we saw a monkey (there are usually tons, but the park was crowded so they were hiding), huge bamboo plants, and my favorite...(can you guess it?)! Jake held a little boy almost the whole time and impressed the rest with his back flips and juggling skills, Tyler joined in on hide and seek, Paige rocked a little baby boy to sleep until his mom came back, and I played games with about 10 or so kids for what seemed like hours. We played hide and go seek, Simon says, duck duck goose, blind man, 3 sticks, and red light green light. When I ran out of games to teach them, they taught me. It was a blast and I probably would have stayed there all day long if I could have. 

photo cred: Paige Alston
photo cred: Paige Alston
We have also done other fun things like: 
Eat goat meat!
photo cred: Dara Veenstra
Low & High Ropes Courses!
photo cred: Becca Reed
Kiss Giraffes!
photo cred: Jake Tiemersma

Seen monkey's all over campus

Learned how to do laundry!

I can't wait to have my first full week of classes under my belt and I am really looking forward to this upcoming weekend. Blessings from Kenya! -Jess 


  1. Sounds like an amazing trip. Love seeing the pictures of you with the children. Continue to be safe and know that we (along with many otheres) are praying for you and the group. Love you, Mom

  2. Jess, you amaze me. As Paul and I are reading about your amazing experience and looking at your pictures, I can't help but tear up. As blessed as you are to meet these wonderful people, they are so blessed to have you in their lives for this short time. Stay safe and keep living/enjoying this dream! Always praying for you... Paul, Joanna and Briella