Monday, March 21, 2011

REACH Intern 2010

The following is from a REACH intern from Summer '10 who went to Kenya with the same organization that I will be going with. The visuals that she gives in this post are absolutely amazing to me. God is going to do so much in Nairobi this summer! He is good! :)

From: Mirte de Boer
Sent: Saturday, June 19, 2010, 12:34 a.m., from Nairobi, Kenya
My work day is about 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  I get on the matatus (buses) at 8 a.m. and get to the MoHI [Missions of Hope International] center by 8:15. The matatus are an adventure alone. We jump on them as they are driving by us, already packed. We have to stand as the bus weaves in and out of traffic, not adhering to any traffic laws. Finally, we arrive at the Pangani center where immediately beggars spot us – the mzungus (white people) – and beg for money.
Once at the MoHI center, we take tea … hot chai … anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Yum. Then we talk about what we are going to do for the day and get started around 10. To go to Kiamaiko slum, we take a matatu. Once there, we follow the translator/CHE trainer through mazes of tin shacks while stopping along the way to greet people (Habari yako!). I’m amazed at the poverty. The smell is sour … like puke, poop, and rotting flesh/food/clothes all mixed together. Burning mounds of trash fill the air with smoke. I find myself fighting tears as I pass young boys with glue bottles stuck to their faces and passed out in alleys.
MoHI schools are like beacons of hope in the slums. All the teachers are incredibly patient and energetic, and you can tell they realize they are more than teachers – they are reflections of Christ. I don’t think I’ll ever be as compassionate as they are. Lillian, the head teacher at Kiamaiko is so funny! She laughs at me a lot because my Swahili is so horrible. She is a very strong lady, and I am so happy to have met her and work with her.
When we find a home to visit, we are greeted very warmly. The homes are about 10 feet by 12 feet, if they’re lucky. We sit on their beds, tables, benches, or anything else they offer as a “seat.” We share our names and ask for theirs; we ask about their families. They share the joy of Christ in their lives as they struggle with HIV. To be honest, I don’t think I’d be sharing about the joy of Christ if I had HIV. While at these home visits, God shows me how insignificant my world is. I can’t speak the language, I can’t relate to the people, and I certainly do not pray as fiercely as they do. Yet, He has me here. I am very humbled and am being blessed far more than doing any blessing. It’s a beautiful thing to be severely humbled and broken and put in a place where I am completely dependent on the people I am trying to help.
Lunch consists of beans, cabbage, rice, and beef stew … and ugali, which is a cornmeal dish that is utterly tasteless. One would think I would blow up like a balloon here with all the rice and ugali, but with all the walking we do (at least 4 miles a day) I am feeling great! Dinner is up to us, so we usually go to the Java House, which is American food but SO good and ALWAYS packed. We need to be home before dark unless a male is walking with us. All the same, we are usually home by 8:30. We are staying at the Ufangamano house, a Christian guest house near the university. There are lots of security guards, and the house is enclosed by a gate, so everything is perfectly safe.
There is so much crazy spiritual warfare every day, which is all pretty new to me considering spiritual warfare in the States is kept behind closed doors. Satan doesn’t stop attacking just because we are done for the day. I find myself praying a lot more.
I realize that I haven’t updated much on my slum experiences. It’s hard for me to say everything that is happening when God is breaking my heart. It’s something I feel that people have to experience for themselves to truly understand. God is here … He is alive and well. And I know this is where I am supposed to be right now.

In Christ,
Brandi :)

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