Friday, May 06, 2005

A refreshing few weeks

I am glad to report that the past two weeks have been much more relaxed and much less intense than the previous month. Last Friday and Saturday, we had a workshop on abstinence and sexuality for about one hundred children from the slum ranging in age from 7 to 19. We are hoping to have a similar workshop every school holiday for the children. It is really important for the children to have correct information about sex, especially for young girls who are so vulnerable. Many times, men will offer to give young girls money, food, or clothing in exchange for sex. There is also so much sexual abuse of young girls - for example, one woman in our program who is now 26 and HIV positive had her first baby at the age of TWELVE when she was raped by a schoolteacher. Sex is a taboo subject in Kenya so many children do not not know much about sex and even about what happens to their bodies during adolescense - for example, one child told us that sex came to Kenya from animals and foreigners!
My Swahili classes have been going well and last week I had a good opportunity to use what I have been learning. Every morning, we have a devotion at Beacon of Hope before work. Every Tuesday, a different staff member leads the devotion. Last Tuesday was my turn and since my coworkers know that I am learning Swahili, they told me that I was not allowed to preach in English! So I preached in Swahili - I think all of the women were very surprised when I started talking. My sermon was very short though because of my limited Swahili but I think I was able to understood for the most part.
In a nutshell, I spoke about what it means to love God and how we can love God by loving other people. I have learned so much about loving and serving others by being at Beacon of Hope because the women in our program live this out everyday. I have seen so many examples of women helping their friends and neighbors who are sick or in need. Even though these women are often struggling financially themselves, they are extremely generous when someone is going through a hard situation. So I spoke about all of the examples I have seen since I've arrived here, thanked the women for teaching me so much about love, and encouraged them that these things they were doing for one another are not small things, but in the eyes of God are so important because they are acts of love, and Jesus told us that as Christians, the most important thing for us to do is to love God and love one another.
On Thursday of last week I spent the morning at Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology to hand in my paperwork so that I can officially enter their Masters program in September. I will be getting a Masters of Arts degree in missions studies which will take two years to complete. After spending the morning there, talking with students, and attending the Chapel service, I am very excited to begin school in just a few months. I am hoping that I will still be able to be involved in some way at Beacon while I am in school, although I will definately miss working in the community every day.
For the past few weeks I've been attending Karen Community Church to plan and organize the outreach that they did at Beacon of Hope a few weeks ago. This past Sunday, they had a youth fun day which they invited me to attend. (In this church, youth is not just high school students but is basically anyone under the age of 30.) This fun day was like a crazy olympics - we were divided into teams and competed in different silly games - for example, one was an eating contest where two teams raced each other - there were six on a team - the first would eat something like a loaf of bread and a coke, and when they were finished the next would go, until all six had finished. I was the last one on my team to go - myself and a teammate were both blindfolded and we had to spoon feed one another porridge! I ended up with porridge all over my face and shirt but at least my team won. We also did things like tug of war, but we had to be barefoot on a long tarp that was covered with soapy water! So it was very slippery which makes tug of war a lot more difficult! There were many other games as well and a big lunch. I had a really good time - I think it was really beneficial for me to have an opportunity to just relax, laugh, and play silly games.
Then Monday was a public holiday so I had the day off, which game me even more of a chance to relax. So thankfully, I've been able to rest a lot and have fun in the past two weeks which I think I really needed because everything was so intense for a while.