BC Juniors Global

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


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Chicago

Hurry. Write. Pack. Rush. 
Drive. Sit. Doze. Hush. 
Not there yet–not where we’ve been promised we’ll be changed. 
We’re at the sleepy, cold-metal-biting-through-jeans, in between place. 
We sit here and breathe, and wonder if we dare to plan on a reality we have yet to taste. 
I think this is what the fragile safety of hope feels like. 


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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. ūüôā

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. ūüėČ

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. ūüėČ

Hannah


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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.

-Sean


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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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Good, Hard Days (Part 2)

On Friday, we woke up in our rooms at the Kitale Club, a private resort for members (and apparently visitors!). There were tons of monkeys–climbing on the roofs, running across the yard. Kevin and Jesse saw a whole group of them when they went for an early morning walk.

At the Kitale Club. Evelyn (RSP employee, translator, and navigator) and Linet (housekeeper and Answerer-of-Ignorant-Questions), both Bargainers Extraordinaire!! ūüôā

We went from the club to start mudding Priscilla’s house. She was the oldest widow we’ve helped so far.¬†You could see her¬†happiness over her new home¬†shining through her weathered face.

Priscilla handing mud to Jesse

Priscilla handing mud to Jesse

She told us that she only dreamed of having such a nice home in Heaven, never expecting that we would help her have one now! Her gratitude was both humbling¬†and encouraging. We don’t do very much (by American standards), but what we do really does change the lives of these widows for the better!

From there, we went back to Jane Max’s house (this was the one still being built that Jesse wrote about). Jane’s feet are twisted so badly that she walks on the top of her feet, but she hurried around to help us mud and bring us gifts.

Jane Max

Jane Max

On Saturday, we went shopping at some Curio shops and at a mall. We at also had lunch at a beautiful restaurant looking over Lake Victoria. It was so refreshing to feel the breeze coming off the water!

We also went to pay school fees for a blind girl name Lydia. Our brief time at her school (for visually impaired and albino¬†children) was overwhelming and humbling and very empowering. Kevin wants to write his experience there, so I’ll leave it at that.

Thanks for reading! Please keep praying for us as we head into our last week here!

ūüôā Hannah


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Good, Hard Days (Part 1) :)

It’s Hannah again.¬† I’m writing¬†a 2-part¬†update for the last few days, and then the others will write and¬†you’ll have a break from me for a while! ūüėČ

For me, the last three days have been the best and (in a way) the hardest¬†so far. On Thursday, we went to mud another widow’s house.

It was slow going, because the women had to walk very far to bring water to make more mud. (On a side note, these women gave up that day’s income to help their¬†neighbor get her house built. Our gift of corn for Ugali (a¬†common meal) was an extra blessing for them!) During one of the breaks, I began to talk to the two kids who were brave enough to come close to me. One boy made a silly face at me, making fun of us. I made one back. Soon, I found myself leading a group of about ten kids in an oh-right-these-kids-barely-speak-English version of Simon says. The afternoon went so quickly after that!

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For the record, the kids were happy! Kenyans have this thing about always looking serious in photos!

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Saying goodbye was super (super) hard. There was a baby girl who had sat on my lap whose mom stopped me as I was leaving. She asked me to take the baby. I knew that this trip was going to have some challenges, but saying no in that moment was not one I expected.

My tiny friend is on the right. She cried when I left.

My tiny friend is on the right. She cried when I left.

The baby was comforted with the gift of a balloon that Karen (thankfully) had with her. I was comforted by knowing that God sees every detail of every one of those kids’ lives, and that He is Immanuel to them, too, even (especially?) in their hunger and poverty.

As they say over and over here, God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good.