Saturday, June 29, 2013

Peace Bench Progress

We starting the project Tuesday 11th. It was an exciting day and we had a great time. On the first day we dug the foundation and continued to make bottle bricks. The bottle Bricks are made by stuffing plastic bags into bottles. We also bought the wooden poles and gravel from a local quarries. The saw and hammer were also purchased as we looked were to use them the following day.

First Day
The second day we began to prepare the foundation by placing hard cores on first and then cover them with the gravel. Once this was done we started to cut the wooden posts down to size and made a framework for the bench. The last thing we did was to get the 10 stones and arranged them on the front and back part of the framework.

Second Day
The third day we started by digging for clay from around the church property. We place piles of it on plastic tarps and began to make it into find dust. It was necessary that the group did by hand, shovels, hammer, wood, anything that worked. We also finished placing sticks across the posts so that the bottles would not fall down and could be stacked on each other.

The fourth day we continued to make the clay earth as fine and we could. As we finished we brought over sand and water to mix into it. We had three different tarps that we used for the mixing. The way mixed it was to use our bear feet and stomp on the earth and sand while adding water. The resulting mixture is a mud and clay that we used to cover the bench and give it shape. We also put this mixture into sacks that we call Earth Bags. The most exciting part of this stage of construction was that we got the school involved. We asked if the students could help us with the mixing of the earth and sand. We had a great time with them. By the end all of the students wanted to help us. It was a long day but we accomplished the most I think on that day.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Betty's Bay & Cape Town

Betty's Bay
Betty's Bay

Betty's Bay

Photo from Table Mountain
(Cape Town)

@ Betty's Bay

Groot Constantia 1685
Oldest Wine Farm in South African

Groot Constantia vineyard
Cape Town Stadium
(Green Point Stadium)
Used for 2010 FIFA World Cup

South African Coast line east of Cape Town

glimpse of Cape Town
Taking pictures at Camps Bay
pictures with friends

Miss Earth South Africa 2011

@ the Stormers vs Sharks rugby match

Great Fans for the Stormers
They got the "Wave" to go around like 5 or 6 time!

Stormers Win!
YAV picture with Table Mountain

Sunday, May 26, 2013


The Regional Gathering was held at a place called The Grail Center, located in the small town of Kleinmond; 2 hours drive from the airport. The shuttle dropped us off at our guesthouses and after a full day of travel, we got some much-needed sleep.

The town of Kleinmond is a nice area just to walk around and even do some hiking. On my first day I climbed up the “The Three Sisters” trail with Clayton Ellington and Robert Turk. It was a great hike but we only walked for about 2 hours because it started to rain. There were some great views on the mountain. I also got a chance to walk around the town and along the coast line. The community of Kleinmond is mostly made up of retired couples that have small homes with picket fences.

The following day we started to explore the area and visited the beach as we waited for more people to arrive. I had not realized the number of Presbyterian mission co-workers that are living in Africa; it was great to meet everyone, and to hear where they were all coming from. The experience of having all these missionaries in one place and having the opportunity to hear about their lives and work was truly eye opening. Before going to the Regional Gathering, I knew that there were lots of missionaries that were helping people in different countries, but as I met them and put a face to their profession, I began to realize how much the church is doing, and the way that they are empowering local people to help themselves; it’s really inspirational stuff.

While many of the things on the agenda did not directly pertain to the YAVs, by being included in the Gathering, there were a lot of things that we learned. One of the great things about being part of this retreat was that the World Mission office was presenting the new strategic direction to the mission co-workers. I really enjoyed hearing about the new direction that this office is moving in and while my time in Africa is beginning to draw to a close, it was nice to feel like the YAVs are part of it as well.

Another thing that I really like was hearing the different stories that people would share. It is always great to hear stories from people who travel and many of these people are coming from different parts of the continent. Some of the stories were hilarious while others were about the hard ships that the local people and friends are going through. What interested me the most was the time of sharing where people would explain the difficulties and challenges they face in their work and in their lives… I think these experiences gave me a new perspective on the challenges that we face. As a YAV in a new country and a different culture, there are always challenges you will face. I guess it is nice to know that I was not the only one that has struggled with adapting to a different culture and even mission co-workers, who have been living in their different countries for years, also struggle with things too.

To sum up, I had a great time at the gathering, and enjoyed being with my fellow YAVs and my dad. I am deeply thankful for the opportunities and happy to spend it with such great people.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Parents visit Kenya

My parents arrived in Kenya on a late Sunday night and while it was great to see them, I was also happy to learn that they brought me greetings from my siblings and friends. The only let down about their arrival, was that the bag they had checked on the flight had not arrived with them and it just so happened to be the bag that contained all the stuff they had brought me from the States. But, all the same I was happy to see them.

After a late breakfast on the following day I took my parents to the Kazuri Beads in the area of Nairobi called Karen. It was a great experience arriving there and learning the process that the beads go through. We also got to see the many women and men working at each station. Towards the end of the tour we got to see the room where they store the extra beads they make. It was by far the most beads I had seen in my entire life. They were sorted by color and resting in large jars on the numerous shelves on the walls of the room. At the end of the tour we visited the gift shop and saw the final products that were being sold; there were lots of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings…but mostly bead necklaces…I realized that all the stuff there was jewelry, very beautiful jewelry, but jewelry… and well, let’s just say shopping for jewelry is not my thing, so I got some help.

One of the more exciting adventures I had with my parents was when we visited the Hell’s Gate National Park next to Lake Naivasha. I believe it is the only National Park in Kenya where you can bike around in. The main reason for this is that there are no big game predators in the area and its mostly just zebras, giraffes, warthogs, and buffalo. The best time to arrive is in the morning because most of the animals are out and about before the heat of the mid day sets in.

The hour hike down into the canyons was amazing. We had a guide who showed us the hot springs and walked with us to the different areas in the canyon. I was amazed to see how high the walls of the canyon really got and too see how smooth their surfaces where.
Our guide told us that a few years ago, a group of school children and their teachers died because of flash flooding. There were 50 of them in total and none of them were not able to get out of the canyon in time. Looking at the height of the walls and a few tree trunks, you can see how strong the water must have been moving to carry entire trees down the canyon.

Later that day, we took a boat tour of Lake Naivasha
and were fortunate enough to see some hippos either in the water or sunbathing on the edge of the water. Its one thing to see animals in a zoo, but seeing them out in the wild is just something that can’t be matched or adequately described. It was also great to walk and bike around this area and not having to see the animals from the window of a car or van. Lucky for us we had a nice sunny day and the rains only hit when we were headed back to Nairobi.

A few days later we had a nice meal dinner with the Kenya YAVs and Oluniyi (a collogue from work). We went to a Brazilian Stake House that happens to be right next to where I live. However, on a YAV stipend, one can’t afford to eat there many times. I was glad that my parents got a chance to meet the other YAVs in Kenya and also some friends that we have made here.
We also had a great Easter lunch at Phyllis’s house (site coordinator) after a great Easter service at Nairobi Chapel. It was a definitely a different Easter feeling, celebrating it a ways from home, but it was nice to have my parents there. We also got a basket of candy so that sweet!

All-in-all it was a great week. It was a little sad to see my parents go but it came with a plus. In just a few days we would be flying to South Africa for the Presbyterian Church’s Africa mission retreat with my dad.

Watch for the next post!

I will be sharing my experience in Kleinmond for the mission retreat and my time in Cape Town.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Story Chair

Hello friends!

I hope all is well. It has been a while since my last post. I had a great time with my parents who came to visit for a week and then I got to travel to South Africa for the Africa mission conference. Know I am back in Nairobi and working at the OAIC office again.

One of the projects that I am working on is the painting of a story chair for a Sunday school class. The chair is made of dried reeds that have been woven together and fixed around a framework of metal. The idea was to paint the chair with different biblical sense so that it would be used as a storybook chair during the children’s time.

I have really enjoyed having an art project to work on that allows me to take some time from the desk and paper work. The front part of the chair depicts the ark and some of the animals. I really think it came out well and the colors are bright and lively. I also think that the wise men on the back and lower part of the chair are good. I was a little hesitant to draw human figures and even faces but they turned out well. It is quite a challenge to paint and have lots of details because the surface is so uneven. In addition, you have to paint in the cracks so that the pictures colors are as vivid as possible.

At this point, most of the chair is painted but there is still space for a manger scene on the back. I will be finishing the chair in the next few days and then it will go to the churches children’s program.

While it has been here many of the office staff have asked me who the chair is for and if I could paint one for them as well. While I have really enjoyed the project I am not sure that I would have the time to paint another one before my time here is done. But maybe some day I could do it again. It has been great to work on and to have others share with me what they think about it.

Feel free to let me know how it looks in the comments section!