I wrote this at the beginning of my week in Isiolo, but was never able to post because I could never get my phone/laptop combo to actually hotspot.. Thank-you for nothing, you useless electronics. (I really hope you’ve seen “How To Train Your Dragon,” partially because it’s my third favourite movie of all time, but also because then you would have laughed at the joke I just made, and laughing takes confusion any day, in my opinion.) Anyway, I just revamped it with info from the rest of the week, and I sincerely hope you enjoy the finished project!
I’m not one for camping. I don’t mind it, and I generally enjoy it – especially if there’s a lake nearby. However, and I am sorry for this opinion, because I know how fond Canadians are of the outdoors, but I hate paying a loonie to shower for 3 minutes in a disgusting stall and using portable washrooms that are infected with who knows what and smell like Satan himself possesses the place. It’s just reality, but if you factor all that out – I love camping! So then, one would naturally come to the conclusion that I would hate going on a missions trip to a place that has a hole for a toilet and a cement room with a bucket for a shower, right? But I’m in love with Isiolo, because you know what? Screw predictability.
Truth be told, I could have gone for running water, but I managed just fine without. Isiolo captured my city girl heart with an understated charm, its simple lifestyle, and a warm, welcoming culture. Warm also as in, well. Desert. Yes that’s right, folks. We crossed the equator to get there. The human you know and love who barely ventures out in plus 30 weather was situated in a desert for ten days and surprisingly, enjoyed it. In all honesty though, albeit the *very* hot sun, the breeze is consistent and cool.. unfortunately, it also beats dust into your skin. I had gotten excited over my spontaneously acquired tan until I took a wet wipe to town on my face and pulled it away practically black. Indeed, dust + sunscreen has turned out to be exceptionally effective in crushing whatever tanning hopes and dreams I may have had (and I am totally shallow enough to have had some real aspirations in that department). Dot made a comment though, about how walking around in dust for 8 hours really puts Jesus’s washing the disciples’ feet into perspective, and its definitely true. (Did I just transition from superficial tanning remarks to Jesus?)
Let’s see now.. We arrived on the 26th of June in the afternoon, got situated with our host, Cathy. Her home is situated about half an hour from our “base” church, but it’s a nice walk, so I didn’t mind it. She tried to feed me way too much, which is just Kenyan nature, but I still feel guilty for not having been able to eat everything on my plate. (I’m truly not trying to shame you, Gramma, I remember all the manners you taught me, promise.. but a cow couldn’t have downed all the food she pushed my way!) Eventually she caught the hint and let me serve myself, which my stomach was ever so grateful for. She also served fresh pineapple every night which was just the most spectacular thing. Cathy has one of those faces that you look into and just immediately love, consequence of the kindness radiating from every last pore. Her eyes brim with laughter, joy, and I swear you can see a little bit of Heaven if you look long enough. She’s a rare but beautiful soul. Her house is secluded and because there are no city lights (whatsoever) you can see every star in the Milky Way, I’m pretty sure, including the big, bright moon. (By the way, have I mentioned that the moon here is upside down?) Star gazing accompanied with that whimsical breeze I mentioned earlier makes it a near divine experience.
(this is me headed out onnnn i dunno. our last saturday? anyway, dot had to catch how much green was in the photo. ha. see what she did there?)
Friday was spent in orientation, and Saturday we cleaned up some of the town. Nairobi isn’t too bad for having dust bins situated every so often, but once you leave the bigger cities there isn’t a trash can in sight, which means garbage takes up residence all over the ground. Even several hours of 300 people collecting and burning all the litter we could find hardly made a dent. One highlight of that day was buying a fresh pineapple on the roadside. Gah, the pineapple here is amazing; almost good enough to convert me to Kenyan living once and for all. Sure, man cannot live on bread alone, but an exception could be made for me and pineapple, I’m sure.
One evening I convinced Dot into a detour on the way home to climb up this awesome little mound thing to watch the sunset. (In truth, it wasn’t very hard because she is a sunset chaser at heart.) Watching the sun slip down behind the ridges was so peaceful and calming. Back in Nairobi I feel crowded much of the time – people all squeezed in there, buildings everywhere, with matatus worming their way through ceaseless traffic. In Edmonton there are big, open spaces where you can see for what seems like forever. (Yay prairie life) Even the 111th bridge between my house and Twin Brooks seems unbelievably spacious compared to the bustling metropolis that is Nairobi; hence I felt much more at home in Isiolo.
Look at them sunset chasers. See, we’ve really been struggling to get good photos of both of us: either I’m white washed or she’s just floating teeth. (iPhones be racist yo) And the top left there is our closest success yet! So then I’m all “Aw let’s get the sun between us!” Y’all. It literally took like 5 minutes to figure out where then sun was, goodness gracious haha. Thus, the ensuing laughter.
We attended Cathy’s church on our first Sunday, and I swear, if anyone ever complains about my dad preaching over time again, I might box their ears. This service was seriously 6 hours long, and we were 2 hours late and then left early! There was dancing and preaching and singing and then more dancing and preaching and singing. Oh. My. After that, we walked to our base church to attend another service that was probably two and half hours long. Then a missions meeting. And then a Nairobi Chapel meeting. Needless to say by the time 7 rolled around and Dot & I started making our way home, I was all churched out.
One of the outreach activities included teaching life skills at local schools. I surprisingly loved it! The students are primarily Muslim (most of Isiolo is) so we were restricted from teaching anything God-oriented whatsoever.. So I taught on study habits. I know, irony of all ironies. The girl who a) hates school and b) pulls all-nighters on a consistent basis is lecturing students on how not to cram. Ha. Good joke, Jesus. It was decently fun though, and I caught my first glimpse of Mt. Kenya at one of the high schools. The (it almost hurts to call them mountains because they’re barely our foothills, but when in Rome..) mountains here surrounding Isiolo make me pine after the Rockies like nobody’s business. Ooo fun fact, I ended up with over 70 mosquito bites. I basically just bathed in AfterBite and hoped for the best. So thankful I didn’t get malaria – I was praying that away so hard core! Back to classes: The last school I taught at was an all girls, Muslim, boarding school. I was teaching on peer pressure to about 15 girls or so, about how only they are responsible for their futures and they have so much potential and whatnot. When I asked which of them wanted to go to university, every hand shot up – I was devastated to learn after the fact that most of those girls will be married off shortly after or before graduating. It was a powerful moment for me to realize the extent of the freedom I have at my disposal.
I loved teaching at all the schools, and then on Saturday we did a children’s rally. I ended up teaching a group of maybe 40 eight and nine year olds. Thankfully my father is the king of improv preaching, so I called on my roots, which came through beautifully! I was so grateful that the Holy Spirit really chose to speak through me that morning, and I actually had a blast (as did the kids, I think)! We started with Adam and Eve, explained sin, then moved to why Jesus came to earth and how he can be our best friend, and I was inexplicably excited to see 15 little hearts accept Christ after!
You can just barely see Mt Kenya in the background there – in between the shack and the tree to the far left. It has several humps. Ten points to Griffindor if you find it.
I feel so blessed to have been a part of the Isiolo mission, and I seriously loved Isiolo as a whole. Dear old Edmonton has met his rival – if I choose to live to Kenya, that would be the home for me. (: Over 2,000 people came to Christ, for which we rejoice!
Anyway, that’s the update for now!
much love & many blessings to you,
I snapped this photo the first night we were walking home and felt that ultimate satisfaction instantly. I couldn’t be happier with how the golden light looks on the mountains behind the boys, or the composition of them and their toys of choice. Gah. I wish I could feel this good about all the photos I take! (But then these ones wouldn’t be as special.)
Go iPhone go! Couldn’t believe I caught this delightful candid of African childhood at its finest.