"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you in with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt...and go out to dance with the joyful." - Jeremiah 31: 3-4

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Without a doubt, 2009 was the craziest year of my life.

I started the year in New York. Freezing. Overwhelmed. Sick with strep throat and struggling with feelings about a relationship. A bar in Brooklyn, surrounded by outrageously drunk 20-somethings and few overweight, balding middle aged men is where I rung in the new year. The night consisted of a kiss a midnight, an hour or two spent standing alone in the corner, a questionable taxi driver and an air mattress in an empty room with no heat. I'm not making it sound very fun but all in all I guess it wasn't so bad. I spent time with people I cared about and experienced New Years Eve in New York City (something you'd probably have to pay me to do again).

My fourth, and what would end up being my last, semester at Kutztown University began in the middle of January. Other things began as well... A relationship. A bad habit that progressively got worse. And an unfortunate total and complete inability to hold on to any part of who I was in Christ.

I knew it, too. I knew there were only fragments of my old self left in the new, out of control version of me. I was making decisions based solely on what I wanted at that very moment. Sometimes, it felt like I had no part in the decisions at all and someone else was making them for me. I allowed myself to be manipulated, controlled, abused and used. And in return, I manipulated, controlled, abused and used others. I was the source of more than one person's pain. The worst part was, I was not learning from my mistakes and I continued to repeat them.

To be completely honest, I was a very selfish and downright cruel person for the first few months of this year.

I never meant to hurt anyone. Deep down I knew I was still a kind, loving, caring person. But I was so far gone at this point that I barely even cared. I was no longer convicted by my actions. I had completely turned from Jesus. But still, through it all, God saved my life. He protected me from terrible things that should have happened to me and I thank Him every day for that. Also, I thank Him for doing what it took to turn me back to Him. Extreme as it was, it was what I needed.

As I write this now, I wonder what people are thinking. Do you think I'm exaggerating? That I probably wasn't that bad? Everyone makes mistakes, right? Are people questioning how sincere my return to Jesus is? Maybe I'm just on a quick "spiritual high" because I went to Africa and held orphans?

Then I remember... I truly don't care if people doubt the sincerity of my love for Jesus. I know it's real. God knows it's real. What else really matters?

I went from being the absolute worst version of myself to the best in one year. I was empty and now I'm filled. Lost and now found. Darkness and now light. I've been transformed. Most of you won't understand that because you either did not know me then or you do not know me now, but that's okay. God saw it all. He knows me and my past and still loves me completely and what more can I ask for?

One thing is for sure... I am very much looking forward to starting off 2010 the right way!

Happy New Year, everyone! :)

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

God is good. God is great.

I will never claim to understand God. His ways are so above my own that I can't even begin to comprehend how He plans the paths of my life. But thankfully, I don't have to understand Him. I just have to trust Him. That, I can do. I'd be a fool not to trust God after all that He has shown me He is capable of doing. And now it's time to add one more miracle to that list.

God is bringing me back to Kenya. Again.

I came home at the beginning of this month, excited and ready to start fulfilling my goals of leading a new life in Christ. It took me about two weeks to realize that something was wrong. Nothing was connecting with me. I wasn't feeling led to pursue anything and I was getting frustrated with God. I wanted to start a new life so why weren't any doors opening? I was not at peace and I knew there was something that needed to happen. I just had no idea what it could be or where to even start looking. I begged God to show me and lead me onto the path that He wanted me on. At this point, I would have walked across the country in a prom dress if that's what I felt God wanted me to do. I was desperate for guidance.

That's when I went out to breakfast with Faith Ecenroad. Faith took me on my first trip to Kenya back in July. She was supposed to come to Kenya in November but wasn't able to because of health issues. We had been looking forward to spending some more time together in Kenya and when it didn't work out, we were both pretty bummed. And then she asked me the question that answered all my prayers. "Would you want to come back to Kenya with me?"

I can't explain the feeling that washed over me at the moment. Something like relief mixed with pure joy and a dash of shock. I couldn't believe that I was going back to Africa! Because I was. There wasn't a doubt in my head that this would work out. That's how strong the peace was that came over me. I brought it up to my parents later that day. Though I didn't expect them to say no, I wasn't expecting such a huge yes either. They were thrilled and gave me their blessing.

So on January 27th, I'll be on a plane to Nairobi. This time, my main priority is to be discipled and mentored by Faith. Along with that, I'll be spending most of my time working with the Shimo girls and the Neema girls.

This will be my third trip to Kenya. Each time I'm there it seems as though God has a different plan. In July, I made a full commitment to Jesus and for the first time in years began walking with Him again. The second time, I was healed and restored through my forgiveness of the ones who had hurt me. I was introduced to the church as the body of Christ, not a building and I was shown what my life as a true, Spirit filled believer would look like. This time, I believe that God will begin to direct my steps towards what my mission is in the church. How I can use the abilities that God gave me to benefit the body. With Faith as my mentor I'll be learning not only how to give presentations about Transformed International and spreading awareness, but also how to live my life with confidence in Jesus Christ and in His plans for me.

I have no doubt that this trip will complete the plans that God has for me in Kenya and I can't wait to see what He is going to do in the six weeks that I'm there.

So again, I don't understand God. I probably never will but truthfully, I don't think we're supposed to. He's God! As soon as you understand something, it becomes less amazing, less beautiful, less incredible. We will constantly be driven to know God more because we will never know everything about Him! We will never fully understand God, but He's the God of LOVE, not the God of knowledge. I love my Jesus and that's all I need to know!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! :)

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:16

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Back at home.

I've tried to start this blog at least ten times. I don't know how to best express what's going on in my head right now. Leaving Kenya wasn't easy. On Sunday morning I had to say goodbye to people who have helped shape me, kittens who have annoyed me for the past few weeks but secretly I really liked them, a house that I helped redecorate and turn into something that doesn't resemble a warehouse anymore and the compound that had been my home for three months. On the bus ride from Kitale and Nairobi, I had to look out at the mountains, the clouds and the scenery and soak it all in knowing that it would be the last time I'd see such beauty. On Monday night I had to say goodbye to the only guys I've ever fully trusted, the only city that I actually enjoyed being in, and the country that I had grown to love. The taxi ride from the hotel in Nairobi to the airport was emotional, to say the least. After saying goodbye to Nate and Scott, I couldn't hold back the tears any longer... I cried more than I have in a very very long time. On Tuesday morning, I had to leave the girls that had turned into my best friends. So many goodbyes in only three days was draining. I was exhausted by the time I got on the plane to fly to Philadelphia.

And I'm still exhausted. I blame jet lag but in truth I think I'm tiring myself out trying to fit back into my life here. I'm different. Home isn't different. It's like trying to shove a square into a circle. I just don't fit anymore. Cliche, but true. Already I've received phone calls from people I thought were far into my past, seen things that caused me to cringe and been in places that made my heart hurt. Even something a small as talking with a friend is difficult. When the conversation isn't centered around Christ, I feel my Spirit clawing inside me. I miss being in a community where Jesus is the head of the body. I thank God for my family. Without that foundation I'm not sure how I would survive as this new creation in my old stomping grounds of sin.

I need to learn how to shape my life here at home so that it fits with who I became in Africa.

I enjoy being home, truly. It's not like I came back to a nightmare. It's just that Kenya was a dream and now I'm back in reality.

"As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance." 1 Peter 1:14

Everyone in Kitale, Reno, Florida and Canada - I miss and love you all! <3

Sunday, November 15, 2009


As my time in Kenya is coming to an end I’ve found myself looking back at the past three months and really analyzing all that I have learned here. At times, it feels as though my life didn’t start until I stepped off the plane after landing in Nairobi. All that I am is who I became here in Africa. The person I was before coming here is a complete stranger to me now. The funniest is that most of what I learned did not come from being in Kenya. It came from being in a community. From being surrounded by a group of people who love God with everything they have, people who really care about each other and desire to build up the body of Christ. That was what I needed more than anything. That was what my soul was craving. These people have changed my life more than anything in Africa ever could. I don’t want it to sound as though being in Kenya hasn’t been an incredible experience because it has... But God definitely knew what He was doing when He chose the people I would spend my time here with.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


It's been a while. I'll take some responsibilty due to laziness but I must also blame the internet. We were without it for about a week and it's been in and out for a while. So I apologize for the lack of blogging :)

So much has happened... which is a big reason I hate to go this long without writing a blog. I don't know where to start.

I got up early one morning this week to watch the sunrise. I walked down to a spot where there's a perfect view of the sun coming up over the mountains. It was beautiful. I love when I see God and the majesty of His creation. Kenya is an incredible place and I doubt I'll ever experience the beauty this country has ever again in my life. It's real. It hasn't been taken over by high rises and concrete. It is exactly how God initially created it to be.

I have to cut this short because the internet is acting a little funky again. I'm leaving for Malindi tomorrow morning so I won't be writing another blog until at least the 12th. If you have a second, google Malindi! Be prepared to be jealous. Again, the beauty of Kenya is unbelievable.

I will write a longer, more detailed blog soon. I promise!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The God of all comfort...

I'm continually amazed by the sufferings of these people. The things that they have become used to are things that would completely disgust us in America. For example, after a boy is circumcised here which is usually around the young adolescent years, they believe that they have to "cleanse" themselves and in order to do that they must have sex with a young girl. More times than not, the boy will rape a child because he thinks he has to. Another thing that they believe here is that if you have sex with a virgin you can rid yourself of HIV. Just imagine how many young innocent girls are being forced into having sex because the boys and men believe these ridiculous things!

We were at the Shimo school on Friday hanging out with the kids for a while. I was speaking to a group of girls around the ages of 14, 15 and 16. I wear a purity ring on my left ring finger where my wedding ring will someday go. It's not uncommon for the girls to ask me if I am married because of it so I wasn't surprised to have my ring pointed at by one of the girls. "What do you wear that for? Are you married?" I looked up at the girl. She looked young and had kind eyes and was very beautiful. "No, I'm not married. This is a purity ring. It means that since I've gotten this ring I won't have sex until I get married." It was the first time I had explained my ring in the nature. Usually I just told the girls that it was a symbol of Jesus protecting my heart as I showed them the small silver cross covering an outline of a heart. But I felt compelled to share the truth this time. The response from the girl caught me slightly off guard. "What if you are raped?" My mouth opened to speak but I realized that I had no response to her question. I muttered something about it being a terrible thing that is out of our control but I knew that wasn't what I wanted to say. All of this was as we were getting ready to leave and walk back home so I looked her in the eye and told her that I would be back on Monday and I wanted to talk to her more when I came back. She nodded and walked away with her friends.

I often used to ask God why I had to go through all the things that I went through. Why didn't He reach down and lift me out of my suffering and pain? He's God, right? He's supposed to be able to do anything. Then I came across 2 Corinthians 1:3-5...
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of
compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so
that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have
received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our
lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows."
Because of my suffering, I can come alongside of these girls and help them through their pain. Maybe I haven't experienced the ultimate weight of their despair but I have definitely felt used, worthless and hopeless. I'll be the first to tell you that my life has not always been full of sunshine and happiness. But thanks to Jesus, I can now boldly say that my life is full of light! That is something that I pray for these girls... for them to experience the joy of Jesus Christ and the miraculous changes He can bring!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Quick update - Shimo girls

This week has been amazing. I think I may go out on a limb here and say that it's been my favorite week so far. Not only did we have incredible dinners every night but we also started a project with a group of six girls from the Shimo slums. Five out of the six girls, all between the ages of 14 and 18, have children. One girl has a six year old. We're going to have them make cards to sell back in the US and pay them for each card they finish so that they can have a small income. They all expressed sincere gratitude and said that God was working through us to help them. Truer words have rarely been spoken. God hand picked these girls for this project. He knew that these six girls needed some money but more so than the money, He knew that they needed love. Our primary purpose is not to provide them with a couple shillings per week, it's to provide them with our friendship. I'm excited to see these girls earn some money to have a way to feed their children but what I'm really looking forward to is getting to know them and seeing what God has in store for Caroline, Ester, Eunice, Moureen, Marcelle and Caroline M.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Light in the darkness.

"I want my parents to love me so much. What can I do? I don't want to be separate from them."
"I am pregnant. What do I do if my parents don't allow me to stay at home?"
"Why do adults rape small children?"

Is your heart breaking right now?

Those are just some of the questions we received when a group of us went down to the Shimo slums and talked to students ages 12 to 18. We asked them to write down any question they had on a note card. The questions ranged from American government and The Bible to rape, pregnancy, AIDS and sex. In Kenyan culture, things like AIDS, sex and relationships are not spoken about. Parents do not even talk to their children. It is a culture that strives to be stoic. The end result is that no one is educated on these topics. HIV/AIDS is a taboo subject and most people aren't even aware if they are carrying the disease because they are afraid to get tested. Boys rarely understand what it is to respect girls and girls don't even know that they deserve to be respected. Rape is a common occurrence. Teenage pregnancy is rampant and HIV is being spread like wildfire. They don't even know that there is another way of living, that there is hope, that there is a light in the darkness and that that light is Jesus.

It's hard to put yourself in the shoes of these teenagers. Especially the girls. Looking into their eyes, I could almost see the pain. When the word 'rape' was mentioned I noticed quite a few look down at the ground and begin fidgeting. I wanted to run over and hug them. Most of us will never understand the hurt that they have been through. As Americans we don't realize how lucky we are to have the laws and the government that we have. Maybe we don't agree with everything that our country says but we cannot deny the fact that they take care of us. There is justice. There is peace. There are laws that are enforced.

Last week a few of us watched Hotel Rwanda. After it was over and we were all in somber moods, Meredith began telling us some of what was going on during the post-election violence in Kenya two years ago. An estimated 10,000 people were killed when two opposing tribes began fighting. Can you imagine anything like that happening in America? Here in Kenya, the candidate that lost the election was actually encouraging it by suggesting people have "peace marches" to protest his loss. Well, his peace marches included quite a bit of violence! It would have gotten worse if the United Nations hadn't stepped in the moment "genocide" was mentioned. Due to the Rwanda genocide and the disaster that they made of it by not doing anything at all, they were a bit more conscious about not letting something of that magnitude happen again. In my opinion, they were still about 10,000 people too late. I mean, what do they consider a genocide... the entire country being murdered?

Keep Kenya in your prayers.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hope Bright Future

Going to HBF every Saturday has become the highlight of my week. It's one thing to see children one or two times and maybe learn a few names and recognize some faces, but these children I know well and love.

Days spent there are always full of laughter and there's no way to escape the contagious smiles of these kids. This little girl is Lucy... and she is one happy kid! Beautiful, too. She will brighten up even the most miserable person's day! Of that, I am sure.

The kids all got new clothes because their old ones were getting pretty worn out. It was so nice to see all the girls in their new bright flowery dresses. You could tell that they felt pretty and lovely and wanted you to notice. Which we all did.

There's something so peaceful about HBF. Maybe it's the beautiful scenery that surrounds it. Maybe it's the quiet sounds of nature that are always playing in the background. But I think it's more because of the incredible joy that covers the home. God has touched this orphange and blessed it immensely. His love is pouring out on these kids and just by stepping foot on the soil surrounding the compound, you can feel it too.

Friday, September 25, 2009

hope to the hopeless and a change of plans...

izeHope to the hopeless --

On Monday, we packed up 16,000 lbs. of maize and 6,000 lbs. of beans for two food distributions in Mali Saba and Shimo. Along with the food distributions, we would also be doing a medical clinic in each place...

Tuesday was Mali Saba. When we drove up, with our two trucks full of sacks of maize and beans and three taxis, we were greeted by a large crowd of widows, grandmothers and children all excited to receive probably the only food they would have for weeks and get medical treatment that they otherwise would never receive. There was such an air of thankfulness and joy in the small plot of land overlooking a beautiful view of the Kenyan hills. I immediately knew that it was going to be a good day. And when a little boy named Jeff, who had the most beautiful smile I've ever seen, attached himself to me for the entire day... I was in heaven.
Once the medical clinic was set up inside, we began the food distribution. As each family got their food we prayed for them. At first I was nervous because I'm not usually fan of praying out loud, especially in front of and for people I don't know... but something came over me that day and I was able to pray for every woman with sincerity and clarity. It was an experience that I will always look back on and see the Holy Spirit moving in me.
Once the distribution was finished, the medical clinic began in full swing. I was at the front table registering people. Derick was translating for us as we asked them their name, age and what their problem was. The saddest and happiest thing for me that day was when a baby with clubbed feet was brought in.. sad for obvious reasons, but happy because the baby was only two days old and already he was given a chance to get his feet fixed. Without the clinic, the mother would not have had enough money to get the surgery required to correct them. It's small things like that that make everything worth while.
The building we were in was a simple rectangle of bricks with holes for doors and windows. The rooms were all empty, except for a covering of dust/dirt and some cow/goat/donkey poop... and yes, were doing a medical clinic is these conditions. What other choice do we have? This is Africa.
We were able to treat over 350 people during that clinic.

After that day, I was excited to see what the next day at Shimo would bring. I had heard that Shimo was a bit of a rougher area than Mali Saba and that we might run into some problems but I thought everyone was exaggerating and being paranoid. They weren't.
When we first stepped onto the school compound where we would be doing the distribution and clinic, I felt the oppression hit me like a brick wall. The Enemy was at work in this place and I could feel it weighing down on me. The distribution started easily enough, but I could tell that my prayers were not as sincere or heart-felt as they were at Mali Saba. And then, as real as if someone has punched me in the chest, I lost my breath and my train of thought. I was suddenly confused. But I didn't know what I was confused about. Everything seemed to be going fine. We were very organized, but all the sudden I had no idea what was going on. I started looking around and noticed that the rest of the interns were also looking a bit lost. It was then that Daniel came over to us and asked us if any of us had just felt a spirit of confusion. What had happened was three men entered the compound and began taking sacks of food off of our pile and started "helping" the widows to carry them. They were not part of our team and they weren't supposed to be there. They brought a major spirit of confusion to our distribution. We stopped everything, got the men to leave and gathered together to pray. The rest of the distribution went off without a hitch. The spiritual warfare was very evident in Shimo but thankfully we were able to rebuke it in the power of Jesus' name and continue doing what we were there to do. Provide hope to the hopeless. The medical clinic at Shimo ended up treating over 530 people. If that's not incredible, I don't know what is.

Those two days taught me a lot. Each place had a different lesson, but both were necessary.

Change of plans --

I've known for a long time that while I was here in Kenya, God would be healing me. Restoring me. Molding me into the best person I can be for his Kingdom. I knew that I would not be going home the same person I was when I left. I thought that I would be going home as that new person on November 30th.

God had other plans.

I knew that I couldn't go home until complete healing had been accomplished in my life. As the days and weeks went by, I knew that three months would not be enough. I prayed about staying four months, but did not feel peace about it. "How long then, God?" I asked Him in confusion. I had already applied for the spring semester of college. I planned on being home for Christmas and New Years and attending Millersville in January. "Six months," was the answer.
"But God, I can't... I didn't plan for six months. I'm going to school. I'll miss Christmas with my family!"
"Six months."
"Are you sure? Can't I just do four? Then I can be home in time for Christmas and start school in January. Four months is longer than three, you must mean for me to just stay four months. Not six. That's way too long. That's half a year, God! What do you possibly need to fix in me that will take six months?"


"Okay, God. Six months. Gotcha. You were right... you always are."

And that's that. Six months in Kenya - orders of God himself.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The past two days...

The past two days have been, in one word, awesome!

On Thursday, some of us went to HBF to plant trees around the perimeter. Originally we were going to take a truck there because we had to pick up all the trees, but Daniel heard on the radio that morning that they were arresting anyone without a seat belt. This is Kenya and they can decide what rules to follow on whatever day they wish. Well, since there are no seat belts in a truck bed we had to go in a matatu. So around 9ish Scott, Nate, Mark, Jared, Julia, Steph (yes, there is another Stephanie in the internship program) and I left the compound to start the 25 minute walk into town to get a matatu. After spending a little while in town, Mark hired a matatu and we left for HBF. On the way we picked up almost 700 trees and stuffed them all in the matatu! Now keep in mind that these trees were just saplings so it's not like we had full grown redwoods hanging out in there, but still... 700 baby trees in a matatu full of people is a pretty funny sight. So once we arrived at HBF we unloaded all the trees and got situated. As we were loading some of the trees into the wheelbarrow (that ironically had no wheels) Mark told Nate and I to grab more of the green ones..... Nate and I looked at each other in confusion then looked at Mark. "Really, Mark? The green ones?" All the trees were green! Anyway, it was a good laugh. So then we started digging some holes! They don't use shovels. They use djembes. It's kind of like a hoe, except you use it differently... I'm not the best at explaining this kind of stuff but basically you just swing it down and make holes! Haha, use your imaginations because I can't do much better than that. It's hard work, but it's really fun and rewarding. I have four nice blisters on my hands and I love them because it's the result of a hard day's work.
After a couple hours, it hit me how much I was going against the culture. I asked if it was weird for Kenyans to see a woman doing this sort of work? In response, I was told, "yes, and you're white." The more I'm in this culture, the more I realize how much I love doing the men's work rather than the woman's work. Not that I don't enjoy cooking and cleaning, but it's just not as exciting or rewarding to me as working with my hands and doing manual labor. After planting almost all of the trees, it started to rain like it does every afternoon. This was the hardest rain I've seen yet here in Kenya. It was coming down sideways and the sound of it on the tin roof of HBF was almost deafening, but I never get tired of watching and listening to the rain.
The ride home was probably the funniest adventure I've had so far. We had to take piki piki's (motorcycles) part of the way and then get on a public matatu the rest of the way. We could only get three piki piki's. If you do the math, there was seven of us.. with only three motorcycles. So Nate, Mark and I squeezed onto one and everyone else had just two people on the back. So here we are, a Kenyan piki driver, Nate, me and Mark, holding on for dear life... well Mark was holding on for dear life, Nate and I were too squished in the middle to fall off... riding down a flooded mud road laughing hysterically because we know that we're a sight most Kenyans don't see everyday. Two white people in between two Kenyans. As Nate so perfectly said it, we were a double stuffed oreo. Then we get onto a public matatu and I'm sitting next to a older Kenyan woman who keeps looking at my legs because I was wearing capris that when sitting showed a bit of my knees, which is quite scandalous in this culture. So I was being judged very harshly, but what are you gonna do? The day ended successfully and it was definitely one of my favorites.

Today we mudded a hut at HBF. If you've never mudded a hut before you're missing out! First we had to get in a huge pit of mud and stomp around to make the mud the right consistency. After a couple face plants (accidentally and on purpose) and quite a few mud balls thrown around, we got out and started putting balls of mud about 6 inches across around a hut constructed of sticks. A lot of mud was thrown around and we were all sufficiently covered head to toe by the time we were finished. I could do that every day and be totally happy with my life! It was a lot of fun and seriously rewarding work. We basically built a house. Mud huts are the main living unit of families here in Kenya.
But now, onto the most important part of the day... the eating contest. The other day Andrew saw me finish a whole dish on food at lunch. The food here is very filling and they give you huge portions, so me finishing a whole plate was a pretty big deal. He decides to challenge me to an eating contest next time we were at HBF. So today at lunch, after hours of taunting each other and psyching ourselves up, it was finally time. Lunch today was a mixture of potatoes, greens, beans and maize. Basically, a huge pile of extremely filling carbs and starches. We made sure our portions were even and started to eat. The first plate went down pretty easy, I finished before him but this was a contest of quantity not speed so we got a second plate. I was showing no signs of weakness but Andrew was beginning to struggle. At first I thought he was faking and just trying to get me to let my guard down... but then I realized that he was actually getting full. Surprisingly, I was not. I always knew I could eat a lot, but two plates of Kenyan food seemed like an impossible task even for me. But two plates went down and neither of us were ready to call it quits just yet. So a third plate was started. Still not showing or feeling any signs of weakness, I finished the third plate strong and ready to keep going! Andrew on the other hand... was not looking so good. Haha, so to wrap up this wonderful story... I won. I even finished another half of a plate while Andrew watched in amazement. I don't think he understands how I could possibly have eaten that much food, but my level of food consumption is a mystery no one will ever solve. Mom and Dad, these are the times you should be proud to call me your daughter :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


My thoughts are sort of scattered right now but I wanted to write a blog so here goes nothing...

I stayed at the compound today instead of going out to the Neema project because I knew that I needed a day to rest. I haven't been getting much sleep lately and I've been waking up in the middle of the night almost every night. I took a long nap and I'm still tired but I feel a little better. I'm also trying to ward off some sickness that I feel creeping in so I'm glad I stayed back today, even if it did mean missing a day with the girls.

On Friday we're helping to mud a hut at HBF. I'm actually really excited. I have a secret love of playing in the mud so constructing a house out of it should be pretty awesome.

We went to In Step yesterday. That place never stops amazing me. The children are beautiful and so happy. There have a baby girl there who I would swear is the most gorgeous baby I've ever seen. I didn't get a picture of her this time, but next week I'll be sure to upload one to my blog. The craziest thing about being there and looking at all the little faces is that every single one of them was not wanted by their mothers. Most were abandoned in the hospital soon after being born, some left on the streets, in fields, trash cans and toilets. Without In Step, 68 children would most likely be dead right now. Praise God for this ministry.

I wish I could write more but truly my mind is just not functioning properly. I can't seem to narrow down my thoughts well enough to write them out. I think it's going to be an early night for me tonight. I definitely need to get some more sleep.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Purpose, proposals & poaring rain.

There's been one question bouncing around in my head for the past week.

"What is my purpose?"

Why am I here? What can I do to help these people? How can I be a blessing to my fellow interns? Who I am in Christ? What should I be doing right now?

I want to find my niche here. I want to discover what impact I can make during this season of my life. I've always said, even before coming to Kenya, that my only goal in life is to know that I have changed one person's life for the better. Just one person and that is enough for me. I don't care who and I don't care how. I want God to work through me and for Him to get all the glory.

On Saturday morning I was sitting outside in the beautiful yard at the TI compound reading Scripture and I came across two verses in Ephesians that answered every question I had been wondering about.

"In Him, we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will." - Ephesians 1:11

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." - Ephesians 2:10


How comforting it is to know that even when we have no clue what we are doing, God knows! He's had it planned out since before we were born and it will all happen in His perfect timing. All we need to do is commit it to prayer and listen for His voice. When it's time, I know that I'll understand clearly what I am to do to benefit the people of Kenya, Transformed International, and myself.

So now for some of what's been going on in this adventure...

The other day we walked into town to get some clothes for the HBF children. It was a really crowded day in town and the harassment we received was more than I've ever experienced. It's tough being white, it's tough being a woman, and it's really tough being a white woman. You get a lot of marriage proposals from random men on the side of the road. It can get pretty frustrating. It's not easy being a freak. There's times I find myself thinking "I really wish I was a Kenyan right now so people would leave me alone and let me shop." But it's all a part of the experience and you just need to know how to respond (which is usually to just ignore it).

Yesterday we went to HBF. It's always a good day at that place. I'm in love with every single child in that home and nothing makes me happier than to see them smile and laugh. But yesterday was especially awesome. It poured down rain! There is nothing as amazing as dancing and playing in the rain. We all got soaked to the bone and so muddy! But even afterwards when the rain stopped and we were all wet, dirty and shivering, I knew that if I had to do it all over again I would in a heartbeat. It was the most joy I've experienced yet here in Kenya. Sometimes I think we worry to much about our clothes, hair, makeup, etc. and don't realize how much fun could be had by jumping in a huge puddle of mud that may or may not include some cow poop...
Cow poop puddles aside, having a puddle splash fight with the kids during a true African rainstorm will forever be one of my favorite memories.

In the aftermath of our day at HBF, a lot of us realized that we REALLY need to do some laundry. Now laundry isn't as easy here as we're all used to... it's all by hand. If doing my own laundry doesn't give me a huge respect for the Kenyans then I don't know what will because it is NOT simple. I'm never complaining about doing laundry with a machine ever again. But although it was hard work, it's also very rewarding. There's something special about seeing your own hands produce something, whether it's farming, cleaning, washing dishes or doing laundry. It's just that sense of accomplishment that most of us don't get a chance to experience because of all the technology and machinery that does so much work for us these days.

Well, I'm going to go eat some grilled cheese now but I'll leave you with yet another verse from Ephesians that may very well be one of my new favorites...


In Him,

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Random thoughts...

-It's really strange being a rarity. Not even a minority. A rarity! There are VERY FEW white people here in Kitale. It's interesting to be stared at as if you're some sort of celebrity.

-All kids are the same! No matter what country they were born in or what culture/religion/socioeconomic status they will grow up in, children are children and they love to be held and play and run around and laugh! I think that's awesome.

-Being a woman in this culture is tough. Especially being a white woman. It restricts a lot of what is safe for us to do and that can be very frustrating.

-It's hard to see the street kids in town. I want to help them but they don't want to help themselves so there's not much I can do. There's a lot of programs where they can get food and a place to sleep but they would rather live on the streets, beg for money and sniff their glue. Go to to learn more about these kids. Glue Boys is a documentary that was filmed right here in Kitale. Some of the boys in the video I have seen and spoken to. My heart breaks for them.

-As an intern, my experience has been very different than as just a visitor. As great as it was to come with a group for a short period of time, I'm liking the internship a lot more. I like that we're not rushed to fit everything into only 10 days. We have three whole months to see and experience everything.

-Adoption is still very heavy on my heart and I know that someday I will adopt a baby from Africa.

-Living in Kenya is easier for me than living in America. I don't know what that means and to be completely honest it scares me a little bit. I love my home and my family but I'd be lying if I said it won't be near impossible to leave here when that time comes.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A miracle.

This is Martin. The last time I was in Kenya he was not supposed to survive through the night. Martin was in the hospital with chicken pox, pneumonia and TB all while being HIV positive. He had just lost his older sister Veronica about a week earlier and it seemed as if everything was going against this little boy. We prayed for a miracle for Martin.
And a miracle is exactly what Martin got.
Yesterday Martin was running, playing and dancing with his friends at HBF. He ran up to me and wanted me to spin him around as I had with some of the other children. His smiles and laughter was enough to make this entire trip worth while. I got a chance to hold a truly miraculous child. As I carried Martin around for a while, I was in awe of just how powerful and amazing God really is. This precious boy was going to die. The only hope he had was a miracle from Jesus. Seeing him yesterday, I would never have guessed he was the same boy we spent hours desperately praying for to keep him alive for just one more night. Except for the scars left by his chicken pox, it was as if he was a whole new child.
My belief in God's power to heal had increased immensely because of Martin's miracle.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Back in Kenya!

Okay, I want to write a crazy long blog. I really, really do! But it's almost time for dinner and I just got my computer up and running so there's not much time to write all that I want to write.

Just a quick update. We got into Kitale yesterday and it is soooo great to be back. I was surprised at how much I remembered from a month ago. We went into town today to just walk around and exchange some money and I was reminded of how much I love this place! I feel so comfortable here. Which is weird because it's a totally different culture from our own but I can't even explain it.. I just feel like it fits with me.

Really though, I can smell the beef stew cooking in the kitchen and it's almost ready so I have to stop there! We're going to the orphanage tomorrow though so I will have a full update for you within the next couple of days.

Keep the team, the Kenyans, and TI in your prayers!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Kenya tomorrow!

Well, the time has come. After a month of anticipation and preparation, I'm going back to Kenya for a three month internship with Transformed International. My plane takes off tomorrow at 6:15pm for London where I'll meet up with most of the other interns and people on the fall team for TI. We'll arrive in Nairobi, Kenya on Wednesday night. Then comes an eight hour bus ride from Nairobi to Kitale. After all the travel, I'll finally be back in the place that I found myself... where I discovered who I really am, what I love to do and who I desire to be.

I'll be honest and say that I am a little nervous. It's not something you do every day... live in a third world country in Africa for three months. I know it's what I'm meant to be doing and it's what I want to be doing, but is it ever what I thought I'd be doing? Not at all.

Six months ago, if you asked me what I'd be doing right now, on this day, I'd say that I would be freshly moved into an apartment on top of a sandwhich shop on Main Street in Kutztown. I would be starting classes tomorrow and most likely be... tired... from the night before. Six months ago, if you told me I would be spending an entire semesters worth of time in Kenya, I would have told you that I wish that could be true but that I already signed a lease for my apartment and already planned out my classes for the semester so there's no way I'll be going to Africa. The truth is though that I never saw myself living in that apartment. I couldn't imagine it in the way that my roommates were imaging it. I wasn't excited about it. A part of me that I never talked about was dreading it, fearing it, and wishing I could avoid it all together. I knew I would never be happy at Kutztown, living the way I was living.

The best thing that ever happened to me was also the worst.

It provided me with a way out. It provided me with a way back to God and ultimately back to happiness. It destroyed me. It broke me. It SAVED me.

Now here I am, six months later, packed and ready to go to Kenya for three months. Packed and ready for my life to change even more. Packed and ready for an experience of a lifetime!

The things that got me to this place were not pretty. I wandered a long time in the darkness before I could get here and it took the biggest regret of my life to launch me back into the arms of Jesus. I'm not proud of who I was or how I acted, but I am proud of who I am and what I'm now doing. I'm not the same person I was six months ago. I know that's hard for some people to understand or believe and I hope that the people I hurt can forgive me for what I did to them. I was wrong. I was foolish. I was selfish. And I'm so glad to be as far away from my old life as possible.

So... now it's time to stop procrastinating and get some last minute things done!

I'll be keeping up with my blog while I'm in Kenya so keep checking back for updates!! :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I wouldn't have it any other way.

There's one thing that God has been pounding into my heart the past few weeks... and that's to love Him with EVERYTHING! Wholeheartedly, fully, completely, with my whole life. I knew He was trying to get me to understand what that meant but I just wasn't really grasping the concept. It was being thrown at me in books, music, teachings... but still, I couldn't understand what it meant to live your life 100% for Jesus.

Today, I was reading a book called "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan about being overwhelmed by a relentless God who loves us SO much. In a chapter titled 'profile of the lukewarm' he explains how to not be a "lukewarm Christian" and how to do just what God has been trying to get me to do... love Him fully. It was starting to sink in finally and then I read something that really made it click. The author says that when he was in high school he seriously considered joining the Marines after seeing all of those "the few, the proud, the Marines" commercials. He goes on to say that what turned him off to this idea was that in those advertisements, everyone was always running and he hates to run. So obviously, his plan of possibly joining the Marines ended. He didn't bother to enlist, get to boot camp and ask if they could please alter the rules for him so he could do fewer push-ups and be allowed to run less than everyone else. He knew that it would have been stupid and pointless because when you join the Marines, you do what they say and if you don't like it then you shouldn't have joined in the first place because you obviously weren't ready to make that commitment. He explains that this concept should cross over into our thinking about Christian life. Jesus didn't say to us, "Become a Christian and I'll let you do whatever you'd like. I won't push you to do anything outside of your comfort zone. It'll be smooth sailing and you'll get awesome rewards just for saying you believe in me." NO! He said, "Take up your cross and follow me." We can't join the Marines, or make a whole-hearted decision to follow Jesus without having to do any work. Neither of those things are promised to be easy. I know a Marine who would call me at night, totally exhausted after a long day of seriously tough training. He'd say how much it sucked and would throw in a few choice words to describe the details of his day. But whenever I would ask him if he was happy about his decision to join the Marines, I ALWAYS got a response like this.. "Oh yeah, I love it! I wouldn't want to be doing anything else."

The same should be said about Christian living... "I love it! I wouldn't want to be doing anything else! No matter how hard it gets, no matter how discouraging it can be at times, no matter how tiring some days can be.. I wouldn't want to be living any other way!" I just love that! I love that Jesus didn't promise us butterflies and rainbows when we choose to believe and trust in him. That would be a pretty boring life, wouldn't it? Everything perfect all the time... no thanks. I like a little adventure. I enjoy disappointments because that forces me to seek out God even more. He wants us to experience His glory and awesome power. If our lives were perfect, how would we ever know the glory of God? So bring on the three mile runs and ten mile marches to test my endurance, bring on the sit-ups and pull-ups to test my strength, bring on the drill instructors yelling in my face telling me what I'm doing wrong... because I love this life and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I'm missing the kids a lot today. I don't think I've ever felt joy in such abundance in any place other than when surrounded by the children of Kenya.
I'm feeling incredibly full today though and I think that God's really doing something amazing. One of my major flaws in my walk with Christ is my need to plan and understand what's going on... but lately I'm starting to enjoy letting go of all that and giving it to God. I have no idea what's going to happen when I go back to Kenya and that's strangely comforting. Just knowing that right now, in this moment, I'm doing what I'm meant to do is awesome and it's something that I haven't felt in a very long time.
I think that so many people are afraid to take that extra step in faith and fully commit yourself to God's will because they think that they'll have to give up so much of what they think makes them happy in life. What they don't realize is that - yes, things will be taken out of your life but SO MUCH MORE will be put in and it will all be GOOD things and things that will make you happy in ways you couldn't have even imagined before. Whatever is taken out of your life by Jesus is not something that you will miss. It's things that kept you away from Him and it's things that were put in your life by the enemy to lead you astray in one way or another. I hit rock bottom in my life not too long ago and was as far from God as I had ever been and in one week my life changed. One weekend I was living my way and the next weekend I was sitting in a room with a group of people who shared my dream in going to Kenya and finally, after three years of my way, I felt myself living in God's way and it was the best feeling I've ever felt.
I can't wait to get back to Kenya and live my life the way God planned.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

For I know the plans I have for you...

Have you ever heard news that just about shattered your world? All the sudden everything you had planned, everything you had hoped for is destroyed in a matter of minutes? The life you thought you would live, the life you thought God wanted you to live is no more? It could be anything... a death, losing a job, a pregnancy, a betrayal, an act of sin... but whatever it is, it turns your life upside down and you feel like nothing you could have done would have prepared you for this. I think that it's in those times, through those things, that God truly wants us to hear Him say "your plans are not my plans and my plans are so much better! Trust me!" Jeremiah 29:11 says that He knows the plans for us, plans to prosper us and keep us safe and give us HOPE and a FUTURE. So many times, I try to convince myself that my plans are totally God's plans and when they don't work out, I'm confused because I can't understand how I could have been so wrong. Then I hear Him say "they weren't ever my plans, they were all yours," and I'm struck with conviction as I realize that OF COURSE they were my plans all along, it was all what I wanted and I didn't even stop to think that it might not be what God had planned.
I think that a lot of us get into the habit of assuming that every "good" plan we make for our lives is a part of God's plan. We think that just because no harm could come from this thing that we want that God must want it for us too. We couldn't be more wrong! Recently, some news put a little kink into my plans. Although I know that the ultimate plan is God's because it's been revealed to me in many ways after years and years of prayer, some of the details of this plan have been greatly and extremely altered in ways that I didn't even think to consider. My life is no longer looking the way I thought it would and although I can't help but be slightly dissapointed and a bit upset, I know that everything will work out perfectly and my life will be more properous than I could have ever dreamed. I'm excited for what I don't even know yet! I'm excited to see how God will turn this into His perfect will for me! It's only by His grace and power that I am where I am today and I would be foolish to ever doubt that His hand is in my life and that He is protecting and guiding me every day. So if ever you find yourself wondering how God could have let something happen to you... remember, His plans are ALWAYS good and He is ALWAYS with you.

22(ish) days until Kenya!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Home is where the heart is... but where is home?

Okay, it's gone from missing Kenya.. to needing Kenya in a matter of days. I love The United States, I really do but there's just something about it that doesn't sit right with me since I've been back. There's something missing from this country that doesn't make it feel like home anymore. It's like I left a piece of myself in Kenya and I won't feel whole again until I'm back there. Maybe all this is just coming from the weird few days I've been having and the serious tests of faith I'm being put through but maybe I really just need to be in Kenya at this point in my life. I felt so at peace while I was there and I crave that here at home, but I can't seem to find it anywhere.

On September 1st, I leave for Kenya. On November 30th, I leave for The United States. I pray that at some time between those two dates, I figure out which place really has my heart.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Adjusting to life at home in America

I've been home for almost a week now and it's getting harder every day. I miss Kenya. I miss the kids. I miss the friends I made there. I miss the landscapes and the sunrises. I miss the fellowship I had every morning. I miss the smells (surprisingly). And I miss Daniel's coffee making skills.

I'll be going back on September 1st and spending the following three months as an intern for Transformed International... growing in faith, loving the people and being a light in the darkness. I'll be with a whole new group of people and although I'll miss my original "Kenya team," I know that this new team will be awesome and I can't wait to get to know them all. I learned a lot during my two weeks in Africa but I think that the thing I will hold on to most and carry with me in life is the importance of fellowship and friendships in Christ. I look forward to becoming even closer with my original Kenya team from Providence and also the new friendships that I'll develop with the other interns and team members in the fall.

I'd love to write more but I'm running a little empty on thoughts at the moment. I'll write more about the last few days of our trip and about adjusting to life back at home in the next couple weeks.

God Bless <3

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I'm adopting a Kenyan baby. It's been decided. I'm bringing one home next week. There's no turning back.

Okay fine, so maybe not next week but someday I will be stepping off a plane with an African child in my arms.

We went to the In Step Baby Center today where they have 63 kids, most under the age of 3, who were abandoned or orphaned. It's an amazing facility and the managers of it are am American couple from Washington named Jeff and Carla. What a God send they are to these children. The kids are unbelievably adorable and most of them have such tragic stories. Thankfully they were found and rescued and not left to die like so many children are.  It's hard to imagine how a mother could give birth to her baby and then just leave them out in a cornfield or a toilet or in an abandoned house. God has blessed this baby center so much! It's incredible how many miracles He's done to give Jeff and Carla the money and materials that they need to run the home. The pictures are precious! There's some that Daniel took up on my facebook now if you want to see. 

Short blog tonight. It's dinner time. Taco's ;)

In His Name,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I feel the rains down in Africa...

We spent some more time with the Neema girls today. They're incredibly sweet. It's hard to believe that not long ago most of them were selling themselves for twenty five cents on the streets. I'm just praising God that they were able to have an alternative to that lifestyle.

We just got back from down the street where a young British woman and her Kenyan husband take care of over 20 abandoned babies. SOOO CUTE! I'm going back there as much as I possibly can when I come back here for three months in the fall. They're up for adoption and if I was in any position to adopt a kid right now, I'd be bringing on those bundles of love home with me right now.

It's been really nice knowing that I'll be coming back in a month. I'm not so sad when we leave certain places because I know that I'll be able to see the people or the places again eventually. It's been hard for a lot of the people in my group because they hate leaving the children's homes. They know that chances are they will never see them again. I consider myself lucky to have an oppurtunity to come back and spend more time with everyone.

Okay, time to read and possibly take a nap during this African rain storm :)
It's been raining a lot, and it's kinda chilly sometimes. It's winter here and they dress like it's -15 degrees. It's hysterical, because it's actually around 75 most days. They seriously wear winter coats and hats and the kids are bundled up like they're about to get on a plane to Alaska. It's too cute.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Don't take it for granted!

As the initial high of the trip begins to wear off, I find myself becoming very comfortable here in Kenya. At first, every sight and sound was a culture shock but now chickens, cows and goats running around in the street doesn't even catch my attention anymore, nor does mountains of trash all over the place due to the lack of a trash service. Riding on the back of a bicycle driven by a Kenyan man going so fast that everything to your left and right becomes a blur seems totally normal and cramming 5 girls in the back seat of van is expected. The roads here are so bad that they are honestly comical. Even the drivers laugh at the size and frequency of the pot holes as they are forced to drive off of the side of the road to get around them (Mom, Dad, Mike and Doug.. just imagine that road in Maine except 10x worse and it's not just one road, it's every road!). I have now come to realize that you must not get attached to any of the animals in the yard because they will most likely become dinner at some point. The Kenyan culture is so different from our own back in America. Women are very conservative and no men here are to be trusted unless they have proved themselves worthy. You are not to even smile at a man on the street because they take that as an offer... yeah, it's exactly what you think. It takes some getting used to but I'm really growing to appreciate some of the values that they hold. So many of these people have close to nothing compared to us. The very nicest homes here might be considered lower middle class in the States, yet they appreciate everything that they have and don't take it for granted. We could learn a lot from the people of Kenya. I see now just how spoiled America is and how much we need to learn to appreciate every day that God gives us, not just the material items that we possess. I wish that every American and citizen of a first world nation can some day experience this culture and finally realize just how lucky they are to live in such a wealthy country! Even here at the Transformed International compound, which is a very nice place compared to most other homes, we still experience the third world consequences. Just today, I was in the shower and the power went off and the water became ice cold because the heater that we have to turn on to get hot water shut down. The toilets don't flush unless you use a stick to push it down! The water isn't safe to drink so we have to boil it or use bottled water. This is a nice, expensive, higher class compound.. just imagine what the people in the villages have to go through. They don't even have showers or toilets or a stable roof over their heads. They have a tub of water, a hole in the ground and a piece of tin.

So, basically what I'm trying to say is.. stop complaining. Unless you're living on one meal of corn and beans a day and live in a house with mud walls, don't complain. God has blessed you by giving you the opportunity to be born in such a rich nation. Don't take it for granted. You don't know what it is to be poor, or hungry, or thirsty. You know what it is to be wealthy, something that a majority of these people will never experience! Don't feel guilty for what God has given you, but don't feel sorry for yourself because you don't drive a BMW or live in Beverly Hills either.

It's hard to see such joy amidst such poverty here in Kenya knowing that there is such misery amidst such wealth back in America. We need to learn how to be happy without material things! Be happy that you have a family who loves you! That you're healthy! That you can go to school! That you have nice roads to drive on! Just be happy that you live in America! Seriously, we need to stop taking it for granted.

Wow, I need to take a deep breath and calm down now ;)

Time for dinner. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. No chicken murdering tonight! Yay!

In His Name,

Sunday, July 19, 2009

In the Name of Jesus..

Life changing day. Emotional day. Day of restoration and hope.

The Lord is amazing. 

In His Love,

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cheka mrembo!

Today was an emotional day. Last Tuesday a 9 year old girl in the Hope, Bright Future orphanage passed away. She was HIV positive and got chicken pox which took her life. Her funeral was today and we all had a chance to be a part of it by comforting the children in the loss of their friend Veronica. Right before Veronica was to be laid in the ground, a little girl named Emily came to me and reached out her hand to me. I held her hand and walked her over to the grave. She was quiet but she looked up at me and smiled a few times. She was absolutely beautiful. When we were standing there she began to cry and put her arms around me. All she wanted was to be hugged and comforted and I was so glad to be able to do that for her. She had such a sweet personality and I was instantly drawn to her spirit.
After the funeral, we went back to HBF and played with the kids. Oh my goodness, I love those children! They are so wonderful and FILLED WITH LOVE! They adore getting their picture taken and all of them rush over to you and smile when they see you with a camera. I could honestly sit here and talk about them for hours, but I feel like words can't do justice to their unbelievable hearts. I can't wait to show you pictures so that you can hopefully feel even a portion of the compassion and love that I feel for them. I cannot wait to be able to come back here and spend every Saturday with them for three months and get to know them better.

Okay so now for some Kenya moments!

-Today we fit 40 people in a Matatu! Matatu's are a type of van that has four rows of seats that is SUPPOSED to fit a maximum of 14 people! And we had 40! Granted over half of them were children, but still.... 40 people in a 14 person van. 14 person maximum, they only have 11 actual seats! But the thing about Kenya road laws.. there are no Kenya road laws. We were going (if I had to venture a guess) about 50mph, wearing no seat belts, down a wet road, honking at people and cows and dogs and other cars to get out of the way. I know that my parents and grandmom are reading this now and probably freaking out, but don't worry.. it's totallllly safe. Haha, okay it's not totally safe, but it is totally Kenya!
-We lose electricity at random times. So today, Leslie was showering and all the sudden, darkness and "AHHH!". Later on, we were all closing our day with prayer and right as Daniel said "Lord...", darkness. At that point though, we were all pretty used to it so the praying continued as if nothing happened and the lights came back on in a few minutes.
-I learned some new Swahili words in the past few days! 'Cheka' means "smile" or "laugh" so whenever we take a picture with the kids I love saying "CHEKA! CHEKA!" and they immediately burst out with these huge, gorgeous smiles. And perhaps my favorite Swahili word so far is 'mrembo' (kind of pronounced like "mah rainbow"). It means "beautiful one." It will definitely be my most used word while I'm in Kenya. Every girl here is mrembo and I will tell each and every one of them until they believe it's true.

Cheka mrembo! Smile beautiful one!

In His Name,

Friday, July 17, 2009


I'm finally here! After what felt like a week of traveling, we got into Nairobi around 5:30am on Thursday morning. We got a nice breakfast and had some awesome, very much needed coffee and then we were off to the slums.

Nothing will ever fully prepare you to see such despair and poverty and I had trouble even comprehending what I was driving through. It felt like I was just watching a movie and that I wasn't actually experiencing it first hand. It took a while to sink in. When we got to the one school in the Soweto slums we first spoke to the man who runs it. While he was standing there in this open area telling us about what he does, the one thing that stuck out in my mind was him saying "Soweto, in Swahili, means 'trouble' but there is no trouble here." And he was right. There was such joy that it was hard to remember that these children live on barely one meal a day. I won't even begin to describe my interactions with the children. Only the pictures can do that justice and I can't wait to share them with you all. They are beautiful and they have amazing smiles!

After then visiting the slums in Kibera, we drove back to the hotel (remind me to explain the driving in Kenya to you all when I get back), got some dinner and called it a night. That first night of sleeping in a real bed after days of airplanes and airport benches was AWESOME!

Today we woke up early and got on a bus to start an 8 hour drive to Kitale, where we'll be staying for the rest of the time. I can't wait to see what God has planned for all of us and so far everything has been absolutely unbelievable and filled and fueled by God's love.

I'll try to update you all as much as possible and hopefully share some more details and funny/powerful experiences that I'm having in Kenya. But right now, I'm tired and I want to sleep! Goodnight!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ready to go!

Well I'll be getting on a plane in a little over 12 hours to start my adventure in Kenya. I can't believe that after all these months, I'm finally almost there. My packing has been coming along pretty well. I'm almost positive that I'll forget at least one important thing, but half the fun of an adventure is being unprepared in some way. God has come through in some amazing ways these past couple weeks and the team could not be more grateful for His awesome power in all of this.

People have been asking me for the past few days if I'm getting excited or nervous and to be honest, I'm not really feeling either of those things.. I'm just READY! Of course I'm excited! And of course I'm a bit nervous, but above all I am truly just ready to go! I'm ready to see what God is going to do in my heart and how He is going to use me to affect others. The past six months haven't been easy for me. I haven't always done the right thing and I'm ready for my life to change.

Pray for the team, for the Kenyans we'll be working with, for our travel, our health and our hearts!

See you in two weeks!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hello! Long time, no blog.

Kenya is quickly approaching. Only four more days! I've started packing but haven't gotten too much accomplished yet. I'm nervous I'm going to forget something and knowing me, I probably will.

I had a pretty good night last night. I got to spend some time with a person who I wasn't expecting to speak to again for a very long time. Misunderstandings and miscommunications can really put a strain on a relationship so it was nice to finally get a chance to clear things up before we both go our seperate ways for a while. It's hard when something you never planned for gets in the way of what you've always wanted. But everything serves a purpose and even your biggest regrets in life can lead you into your greatest accomplishments.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Today was a pretty boring day. I feel like a lot of my days have been pretty boring lately. I haven't been doing the things I want to do.. mostly because of laziness. I should really work on that.

Michael graduated high school on the 12th. That was pretty crazy. In my mind he's still a hyper-active 12 year old kid with a goofy smile running around the kitchen screaming obnoxiously. Now he's graduated high school and actually starting to act like a semi-mature guy. It's kinda cool. We've gotten a lot closer since I went to college and I like that we're able to talk about things now. He's becoming a best friend, which is what I always felt brothers and sisters should be, so that's pretty awesome. I'm really proud of him and he has a lot of potential. He's a good kid, he's got a good head on his shoulders and I really think he'll do some great things in life.

Well, short one for today.. I'm going to try and get to sleep early tonight.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I've been thinking about love a lot lately.

"Love is paitent, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseverse." 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

I just love that verse.

That's all.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Dolores, the Kenya team & Harry Potter

It's days like this that really show me how powerful and awesome God is and how much He can accomplish in such a short period of time. My day didn't exactly start off perfect. I didn't get much sleep last night so I woke up around 10:00 feeling pretty tired. I went to the gym and when I left my car wouldn't start. She has this thing about not starting when it's really hot outside. So that was a little frustrating but I'm used to it since it happens quite a bit in the summer. Poor Dolores is just getting old. She's 15, which has got to be at least 65 in car years. She eventually started up a few hours later.. after I had to call my mom for a ride home.

But anyway, now on to the good part of my day. The team I'm going to Kenya with in July all got together and had dinner and it was just absolutely amazing. I had a chance to really start to get to know these people on a deeper level and each and every one of them has so much to share and offer. I'm really excited to see what God is going to do with all of us in Kenya and how He's going to transform us and show us His love. There's just so much potential for all of us to better ourselves and really experience change and growth throughout this whole experience. He answered so many of my prayers just in this one night and it really refueled my passion for Him, for Kenya and for life in general. Hearing the testimonies and stories of the people on the team helped me in knowing that I'm not alone in my struggles and that God can really do some amazing things in people's lives.

Well, it's time for some sleepytime tea and Harry Potter. I'm on my 4th re-read of those books and they just never get old. I'm such a dork and I am not at all ashamed of it. Don't get me wrong, I'm 100% STOKED to be going to Kenya this July... but when I found out that HP and the Half Blood Prince was going to be coming out the day after I leave, I was honestly bummed that I wouldn't be able to go to the midnight premiere and wear my Hogwarts scarf and Gryffindor track jacket and be a total nerd around hundreds of other total nerds. But it's okay, there's always the 7th movie.. parts 1 & 2! :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Not walking alone...

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

I recently wrote out that verse, along with a few others, and taped it up on my wall in front of my computer. I guess it just helps remind me that I'm not in this alone and no matter how out of hand things seem to be getting, God is always in control. He already has my whole life mapped out. He knows what I'll be doing tomorrow, next month & ten years from now and His plans are always GOOD. I won't ever be lost when I'm walking with Jesus... and I am definately done walking around alone and lost in the dark.

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's 4:15am and I'm wide awake. This is pretty frustrating for me because I purposely went to bed early tonight in an attempt to finally get a good night of sleep. I woke up at 1:30 after only being asleep for 4 hours. Not exactly my idea of a restful slumber. I'm trying to look on the bright side and maybe use this time to get some things done but to be completely honest... I really just want to be able to go back to sleep :/

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Well, I'm back in PA. North Carolina was awesome, even though it rained for the first four days. When the sun finally came out, we spent every waking moment on the beach.. which explains the sunburn. It was nice to get away for a while and spend some time with my friends. Now, I have Maine coming up on June 19th (for 10 days) and Kenya on July 14th (for two weeks).

When I got home, I checked my e-mail and saw a message from Transformed International letting me know that I will be going to Kenya this fall for the internship program! Most of you probably know about my heart for Africa and my long-time desire to travel there and interact with the children and people of the nation. It's been something that I've talked about openly with my friends and family and I'm happy to announce that, quite literally, my dreams are coming true.

My whole passion for Africa started with a dream. It was during my freshman year at college, some time in March, I had a dream where I was surrounded by African children all smiling and dancing and hugging me. I woke up from the dream in the middle of the night, crying. I felt at that moment the Lord say "This is where your life will lead you." Since that night, I've never doubted that I would some day visit Africa and this oppurtunity is... I want to say unbelievable but nothing with God is unbelievable, so I'm going to go with AWESOME! My heart for Kenya was developed more recently, but just as profoundly. I was at Creation Festival this past summer and decided to sponsor a child through Compassion International. I went up to the tent and began looking at the faces of hundreds of little boys and girls. They all touched my heart, but only one grabbed it and took hold. His name is Jackson and he lives in a small village in Kenya. When I saw him, I felt God say "This one. He's yours," and just like that, Kenya engulfed my heart.

I know most of my friends don't fully understand my passion and heart for this country. I know it might seem crazy that I'm willingly giving up two weeks of my summer going to a place where I won't be able to take a long, hot shower every day and then take a semester off of school to go back for three more months. It's something that most 20 year olds don't exactly put down on their "to-do list" so I totally understand the reactions... "Wait, you're going where?!" and "Aren't you scared?" and my personal favorite.. "Dude, are you gonna be like living in a grass hut?" (just to clear things up, no.. I will not be living in a grass hut).

So, in conclusion to this lengthy blog - My life is changing, drastically, but I love that I can feel God in every decision I make and I know that all of this is what I'm meant to be doing.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This is mostly for my school friends who I (unfortunately) won't see very much/at all this summer. I know some of you wanted me to keep you updated on my travels... so here you go! I'll let you know when interesting things happen, or when I just feel like filling you in on the mundane parts of my summer.

I'm leaving for the outer banks at midnight on Friday (well, Saturday technically) and I'll be there until Saturday the 23rd. It should be a fun week of beachin' it up and relaxing with my friends. It's my first ever serious vacation without any parents! I'm a big girl now.

Speaking of being a big girl, I have to go get my license renewed tomorrow... and who doesn't love the DMV?