BC Juniors Global

Join Barclay College students as they learn about Christian life, service, and leadership in the global classroom.

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Giraffes and Elephants and Airports (Oh, My!)

Today’s Bucket List Check:

Feed a giraffe. (Check.)

Watch Kevin feed a giraffe by holding a piece of the feed in his mouth…giraffe kisses.(Uh, check?)

Visit an Elephant orphanage. (Check!)

Get annoyed at the woman stubbornly keeping her spot and preventing me from petting the elephants. (Sigh. Check)

Feel a fiendish delight when baby elephant backs up and passes gas on said woman. (Hehe. Karma. Check!)

Go curio shopping and bargain by myself–definitely impressive considering my previous lack of confidence! (Check!)

Nearly get lost in apparently growing maze of curio shops. (O.o maybe not quiiite so much confidence yet! Check.)

Make it through airport security so quickly, it’s actually painless. (What?! TRIPLE CHECK!!)

Waiting to board. Eager for home. (Yes! Check.)

Already missing Kenya, this incredible place that has been my home for over two weeks. (Check.)

(And double check.)

Goodbye…for now!!

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5 Things I Learned (About Traveling) in Kenya

All the Juniors’ Global teams are heading back to the States soon, and reflecting on all the good, hard, and beautiful things we’ve experienced–super important.

But sometimes we forget to mention the funny stuff.

There are many elements that I love about the Kenyan culture (like their gracious hospitality!). BUT. I’m American. And sometimes, parts of the culture strike me as even more–ahem!–different than I expected. So, here are five lessons that this very White (see what I did there?!) American girl learned on this trip! Hopefully, they’ll teach you a bit more about Kenya, and maybe make you smile. :)

1. Beware the word “program.” 

Kenyans love (and I mean LOVE) formal “programs.” This involves one person holding the attention of the entire group, formally saying a few necessary words (and a few that aren’t), and then passing it off to the next person. There’s also introductions all around. Each introduction must have a minimum of two greetings and responses before the speaker actually says his or her name. Building a house? There’s going to be a Program before you leave. Giving a few gifts to a widow? Program. Saying hi to a bunch of (adorable!!) kids in a Nursery School (aka Preschool)? Still a Program. If ever you hear this word, get ready to embrace your patient side and practice putting time with people ahead of your to-do list. (Good job, little American! I know it’s hard!)

2. Never believe it when your Kenyan guide says the road is “passable.”

Never. As far as I can tell, the Kenyan definition of this word means that at some point in the last 500 years, someone was able to use elbow grease, fairy dust, or some rather incredible luck to force their vehicle forward. In case you didn’t know, things can change a lot in 500 years. Also, you should know that Kenyans like to play a game every time they travel in a mutatu (van taxi). It’s called let’s-see-how-many-people-we-can-squish-in-here-and-still-breathe. Sometimes they’ll even leave the sliding door open with some brave soul standing inside and clinging desperately to the roof of the vehicle. A final word of advice on this subject is that you shouldn’t judge vehicles by their appearance. Looks kind of sketch? Have no fear–it will still take you anywhere you want to go…on all those passable roads. ;)

3. Don’t Talk. Unless you’d like to get laughed at.

Apparently, white people (Mzungus) sound like they’re pinching their noses shut when they talk. All the time. Adults find this amusing, but are usually polite enough not to point it out. Kids on the other hand…well, at least your humility will be in good shape!

As a corollary thought, be prepared to laugh a lot, yourself. Kenyans take every chance to laugh–at themselves, at you, at each other. Seriously. The only topic that seems permanently safe from laughter is when someone is seriously ill or dead. o.O Depending on who you’re talking to, anything short of that seems to be free game. Including you!

4. Expect Christian and oddly worded phrases to show up everywhere. 

You are able to get your hair done at The Great I Am Hair and Beauty Salon (well–maybe. If you have white people hair, you might be out of luck.), buy meat at the New Classic Butchery and ride in God’s Favourite van (with original spelling). If you’re feeling adventurous, you can learn to drive–Kenyan style–at the Budget Driving School (but don’t worry. You will be Taught By Professionals). After that long day, you can go home to one of the Whispering Flames Private Houses.

Does American advertising seem this strange to people unaccustomed to it? I wonder…

5. Mealtime. Oh boy…

Rule Number One: WAIT to wash your hands before you eat. Even though they will probably set the whole meal in front of you first, you should never start eating before you can wash your hands. In Kenya, this means you scrub your hands over a bowl as they slowly pour warm water for you. Sometimes they have soap; sometimes they don’t. And don’t ask for a towel. You just let your hands drip dry. Rule Number Two: Do your best to get the salt first. With a few exceptions, salt is served in a shallow bowl. Everyone just takes a pinch when he or she wants some. Germaphobes beware…

And that concludes this brief travel guide. I’ve thought of several more entries, but I think this post is quite long enough! You’ll just have to ask one of us for more stories later. ;)


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Final Thoughts.

Tomorrow is our final day out here in the field. It seems so unreal that it is finally here.

These last couple of days have been filled with meeting some widows’ groups. As of Tuesday the 26th we officially built our last house. That itself is very unreal as well. This idea of building a house for some of these widows is such a concept of ministry that not a lot of people in Kenya understand. Being out here in the field and working and being the hands and feet of the Body is amazing.

Taking a step back to look and reflect on the people and the stories there is something much greater that we were apart of.

Pray for travel safety and mostly pray for the widows and pray for Kenya.


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Leaving Soon

People keep telling me topics I should talk about in the blog. None of them really work. I haven’t gotten frustrated by the culture, I haven’t been homesick, I’ve found ways around the language barrier, and I don’t feel the need to compare everything here to home. I don’t feel any particular problem with being here and I haven’t found any grand conundrum to share or think about. I like it here.

I guess I can just say, that while most of the other girls are talking about feeling homesick and looking forward to getting back, I’m growing quieter and quieter as we get to the end because I don’t want to leave yet. I like it here. I like the routine I have built and the places that have become familiar to me. It’s comfortable. I like that I am beginning to react automatically to those unfamiliar social cues that I used to miss. I like the people I have just begun to build relationships with. I like walking across the street during a busy part of the day and watching the motos and tuk-tuks part around me. I like being waved at by tuk-tuk drivers who are asking if I need a ride and remembering last second that I shouldn’t wave back or they will think I’m saying yes. I like when I forget that part and they roll their eyes at me as I stutter an apology in Khmer. I like walking into the coffee shop a block away and knowing the names of the waiters who are beginning to remember my name. I like the work I am doing. I like the krama I always have around my shoulders to wipe away the sweat that I now expect to be coating my face. I like two hour lunch breaks and two or three showers a day and how an hour long meal is considered fast and shaking ants off my flip flops every morning. I like my tan line. Even the parts that have turned into heat rash.

There are so many other things I like about this place. So, I don’t have anything big to share with everyone. Just a lot of little things. I’m not ready to leave. Especially when I think that it’s very possible I will never be here again. This is me. Not ready.




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A culture of injustice

Conditions that produce injustice aren’t always readably noticeable. I’ve been on a learning curve. The widows we’ve been building homes for have nearly all been younger than me. Young children are nearly always part of the work area. Outside of the men mixing the mud, the only presence of men is a few gawkers looking for excitement.

The circumstances in which women find marriage is through a suitor paying a bride price. The idea of purchase sets the context. Secondly, if a man is wealthy enough, he can purchase a second wife. The whole idea that wives can be purchased belittles their worth. Wives become objects of possession to be arrived at through financial negotiation.

One of our first devotions used Paul’s words from his letter to the Galatians, “You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

When a husband dies, the sons inherit the property and the wife can be inherited by the husband’s brother. In many cases the widow loses everything and is destitute. This is where Junior’s Global has joined with Friends Bringing Hope to arrange for houses for those widows left homeless. It has felt like a continuous Christmas celebration as we have come in contact with some of the neediest people in Kenya. Living out the gospel has meant going against popular culture.

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Two Days To Departure

Normally if I am woken up two hours before my alarm clock becuase of sunlight streaming through the window and into my face I would be thoroughly annoyed, but today was different. Today I woke up knowing that it was going to be amazing; I always feel that way when it is my birthday. I have only personally known one person that I shared my birthday with, and she (Hannah Kendall) just so happened to be in the same country as me on this day!

Fortunately for us we got to sleep in this morning before we headed to the first modern Olympic Stadium that was built in the 1890’s! The journey to the stadium was very interesting: we walked through this GORGEOUS park that smelled like flowers, and past the parliment building where one of those guards who are not allowed to move was standing. The only apparent downside to that adventure was Tanner and Ben taking their shoes off to run with Hannah, Kim, and India around the olympic track, and ending up with burnt and blistered feet. On the walk back we took a swing past the temple of Zeus, which was really cool to see becasue his columns are far more intricate that most of the others we have seen.

Later that afternoon Kim and I went to a shop where I accidentally dropped a small snowglobe souvenir and it promptly shattered on a glass shelf. As punishment I received a mixture of glass and glitter all over my legs. Thankfully the shop owner was very kind and understanding about the whole thing! We concluded the evening with dinner and laughter at Kenn and Lisa’s house, and finally watched the sunset on their roof.

It is almost over; just one more full day before we leave! As much as we all miss home, leaving here is going to prove to be highly difficult challenge.



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Everything is Spiritual

Coming back to Cambodia brings with it so many emotions.  It also has brought back my consistent struggles with health.  I am walking more and eating a better diet of more vegetables and less processed foods but I struggled with a cold for about 5 days and have not been able to shake the cough.

A good reminder to keep God in the process of planning

A good reminder to keep God in the process of planning

Then last week I slipped down the three stairs to our little apartment and thought I broke my toe. Fortunately, I didn’t but I have a huge bruise on my shoulder and my toes that remind me of the incident.  For those who did not know me when I was serving in Cambodia health was a constant battle.  It has always been my reminder that I live in the midst of a spiritual battle. One where victory is claimed in prayer.

The girls have had the requisite stomach issues but over all have been healthy and have been getting along.  But most importantly they are settling into the go with the flow life that happens here.

Orthodox Saint

Orthodox Saint

Yesterday afternoon we went to one of the International churches and it was my privilege to see four young people baptized that were in the youth group for the many years I was a part of serving.  My heart was full and thankful that God gives me small glimpses of what I have been apart of.

C.S. Lewis is credited with saying “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” I recently went to an Orthodox church and was asking the priest about saints and the golden halo that is around their head. His response was that the halo signifies Christ within them, that they will not be perfected in this world, but that they live in such a way that Christ shines out of them.  That is truly the goal.

Michelle Murray

Phnom Penh, Cambodia


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