Thursday, April 27, 2006

Back to class again...

The short April holiday is over and I’m already 2 weeks into the third term. It’s hard to believe that in just 10 weeks my first year at NEGST will be finished. This term I have a much lighter course load than last term – I am only taking three classes: New Testament Theology, African Independent Churches, and Anthropological Research Methods. In addition to those classes, I am also continuing with my Kikuyu classes.

After returning from Kisumu, I spent the rest of my holiday catching up with sleep and catching up with friends. One of my friends from church, Jane, came by and finally helped me dig and plant my shamba (small garden), so now I have spinach, sukuma wiki (kales), and onions growing. Jane has a small project in a nearby slum for orphaned and vulnerable children, so I also spent an afternoon visiting the project with her. A few years ago, Jane visited a family in this slum where an old grandmother was struggling to care for several of her orphaned grandchildren. Through this family, Jane came to learn about several other orphaned children in the community. So she started a feeding program for the children. Whenever she could get money, she would stop by and cook lunch for the kids (usually children in slum schools go home for lunch but most of the time the caretakers for these kids were too poor to afford lunch for them.) Now Jane continues with the feeding program and rents a small two room tin building where she gives the kids porridge in the morning, lunch at noontime, and bread in the afternoon, teaches the kids about God, and provides them with some toys to play with. One of the children has even been sleeping in this building with his siblings because they do not have a home. There are currently 30 kids in her program, and 8 of them are HIV positive. Visiting her project was both overwhelming and inspiring. It was overwhelming to see the need in the community, but it was inspiring to see what Jane has been doing. She is only 23 years old and her family is Kenyan middle class, which means they are definitely not wealthy, and yet she has been using the little that she has in order to help those who have even less.

I also spent a morning volunteering at Grace Children’s Center, the children’s home that I visit on the weekends. I went with my friend Muigai and we washed clothes all morning (keep in mind there are no washing machines so we hand washed clothing for 37 children!) It made me appreciate how hard the house mothers work every day!

Last weekend, Glory (a friend from NEGST) and I had the opportunity to visit Mary in her home. I have mentioned Mary several times in my emails – she washes clothes at NEGST and has recently become a single mother after her husband of 19 years left her. Mary lives in a small two room tin house in a slum area (although the area is much nicer than many other slums in the city, Mary still classified it as a slum). It was nice to have her welcome me into her home and to have the opportunity to meet her three children. Please continue to pray for her – she is currently only working 3 days in the week and is looking for additional work so she can support her family.

One final prayer request is that several of the students at NEGST are really struggling to pay school fees, which are very high by Kenyan standards. Some of them still have a deficit remaining from the second term, and may be kicked out of school if they are not able to pay. Please pray for God to provide them with the funds that they need in order to continue with their education.

You can also join us in thanking God for the rains he has sent to Kenya. There was a severe famine in some parts of Kenya due to lack of rain, but in the last month we have had rain in abundance! It is the rainy season, which means we get daily downpours, lots of mud, and power outages several times a day. But these small inconveniences are definitely worth the blessings that the rain brings.

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