Saturday, September 10, 2005

Ending one chapter and beginning a new one

Last week was the final week of my internship with Beacon of Hope. Because Beacon of Hope is very far from campus, my director and I decided it would be best for me to hand over all of my responsibilities. But I really enjoyed the last week - On Wednesday, we took the sponsorship kids on an outing to a place called Jolly Roger, where they have a playground, bouncing castles, a small swimming pool, and other fun things to do. Most of the kids had never been to a place like this before, and it was fun for me to see their excitement.

Then, on Friday, we had our Beacon of Hope graduation. Our vocational training in rug weaving, kikoy weaving, and tailoring run for one year, and then the students graduate and a new class comes in. So on Friday, we had a big graduation celebration. The women graduating did songs, poems, and skits, and the sponsorship kids also did songs and a poem. Then there were speakers and a big lunch afterwards. Jane was also able to find a donor who donated machines to the top four students in each program - a sewing machine to those in tailoring, a small kikoy machine to those in kikoy, and a spinning wheel for those in rug weaving. The hope is that they will be able to continue their trade from their homes and even begin their own businesses. Some of them will also continue to be a part of our production department at Beacon. They had no idea they would be getting the machines, and they were so excited! It was a great way for me to end my time there.

Unfortunately, our celebration was dampered a bit with some sad news. We found out on Friday that Elizabeth, the guardian of four orphans in our sponsorship program, had passed away from AIDS. We were all devastated because she had seemed so healthy and this was quite unexpected. This was a family that I had been very involved with and was close to Elizabeth. She had just tested HIV positive in April, and the children had a really hard time in April because of the diagnosis. Now, the children also do not have any relatives in Ongata Rongai to stay with during their holiday times. This unexpected tragedy makes their already uncertain future even more so. Please pray for this family and especially these four children as they mourn Elizabeth's death.

On Sunday, some of my Kenyan friends from church took me out to lunch to celebrate the fact that I would be starting school, but they wouldn't tell me where they were taking me. We ended up going to a tiny and very cheap side of the road restaurant that the guys go to almost every day. They said I would need to know this place now that I would be a broke student again. A full meal and a drink costs only 55 shillings, which is about $0.75! They were laughing and saying that they have never brought girls here before, because it is certainly not the kind of place you would bring a date to! But they wanted to give me a "real Kenyan experience", and I had a great time.

All this week I have been having orientation at NEGST (Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology). Most of the week was just typical orientation things, but I really enjoyed meeting my classmates and the faculty. This is quite an international place! One of my neighbors in campus housing is from Armenia, and I have also met people this week from Hungary, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leon, Zambia, Malawi, US, Korea, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and of course several Kenyans. My incoming class is only about 40 students, so it's not a very big school. Most of the students live on campus, which is nice because there is a strong community here.

We just completed orientation yesterday, and I start classes on Monday. I will be using a new email address - Valerie.Rogers@negst.edu but I will still be checking the beacon address as well at least for a while. I also have a new mailing address, which is:

PO Box 24686

Nairobi, Kenya 00502

Please pray for me as I transition into school and begin classes, studying, and writing papers!