Tuesday, March 26, 2013


 So back in summer of 2011 when the decision to return to Kenya was made, a list was created of all the things I would have to do.  World Gospel Mission (WGM) had recommended trainings for all those going through their Missionary Discipleship program to complete. Through various reasons (mainly being Canadian) I was not sent by WGM but Samaritan's Purse. Samaritan's Purse does not send medical people long term so they did not have recommended training. Thinking some training would still be a good thing I wrote down a list of the training WGM would have required of me and set out to do them. I’m thankful Samaritan’s purse was very supportive of these training courses and allowed me to use some of my raised funds to cover the cost of these courses.

                The first course I took was called Perspectives. This was a compact course that explained everything it could in a week of seven hour classes. We learned about missions, why we do them – To glorify God, history of missions, lessons we can learn from previous mistakes and how God can use anybody. This was a great course; I still have the textbook – somewhere, and will probably find it again someday.
                The second course I took was called PLANT’s, this is a Canadian version of a course offered in the States called PILAT. It was out in Ontario and fit better in my schedule as well as allowed me to spend some great time with my Ontario relatives. This course was all about language – learning styles, methods in and out of the classroom, how long it will take etc. It was a helpful course and I use some of the methods in my current studies.
                The last course that I took on North American soil was called SPLICE  - all about living cross culturally, sacrifices and joys and meeting a wonderful community of people.
                That leaves me with the 4th and final training language learning. After being taught French from grades 4-12 and being able to speak very little I was not looking forward to this time. I prayed that I would catch on quick, and be able to endure it. Six weeks in and at the halfway point I am very thankful for what God has done. Not only am I learning the language I am enjoying it.  The grammar is fun (I hate English grammar, and Shawna who edits each and every blog post can attest to the fact that I am horrible at it). Being able to have a conversation in another language is exciting, and a week after you learn a word to hear it and recognize it outside of school reminds me that this learning is a good thing. I am so thankful that God has given me ear to hear and mouth to speak this language and he is going beyond what I asked for and has allowed me to enjoy it. I still make many mistakes and you can hear my teacher's and my laughter carrying out of the classroom. This week I confused the word think and horse saying “I horse”.  I also made coffee into a verb and when I was told “no” I put in the people class making it human – I argued, to no avail, that coffee is necessary for life and therefore should have human like adjectives. Mistakes I have learned from, although I may make again.
                So by the middle of May my training that had been spread out over a year, almost to the day, will be complete and I will get to work. This year of training has stretched my brain, and had me in many places and one of the best parts has been to meet so many missionaries headed out all over the world. I plan on putting up a map surrounded by prayer cards of all my friends around the globe.
 Aside from language I have been exploring the beautiful country of Kenya I visited the Tigoni fall’s last weekend and this weekend I hiked mount Longonot, a dormant volcano. I have some pictures of both for you to enjoy. For Easter I will be heading to Tenwek. As Tenwek is  about four hours from Nairobi I have not been there since I arrived in Kenya almost three months ago. I am looking forward to seeing friends both old and new.
Tigoni Falls

The view from Mt. Longonot - the lake is Lake Naivasha

3 of us hikers on the rim we are scouting out the cape buffalo

Levi, one of my teacher and our friend and "guide" for the day.  the crater of Longonot is in the background

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Shade School of Language & Culture

I have been at language school for five weeks now – passed my first exam and now in a class of just myself as I go Haraka, Haraka (quickly)to catch up with a class that started a few weeks before I did. It was good to get back to class on Monday after a week off for the election. I am very happy that the election was peaceful, we (the mission organization) were very prepared but I am thankful it was not needed.
I’m writing this post for two reasons, the first to give you a window of what life is like here and the second to provide some free advertising for the my language school – The Shade School of Language &Culture. If you stumbled across this blog while researching the school you have come to the right place. I am not paid by the school to do this, I’m just a simple Canadian girl called to missions and taking three months of Swahili lessons.
The school is located about 30min outside of (the outskirts of Nairobi). My commute is easy as I wake up and walk downstairs for breakfast and around the back of the house to my classroom. The house where the school is located is an interesting design – I’m not sure how each room was used when it was a home as some only have access from the outside but it works quite well for the purpose of the school. I live upstairs in one of the four bedrooms, there are also four bathrooms upstairs which helps maintain a healthy relationship with my housemates. There is a small sitting room upstairs with familiar looking Kenyan furniture – we don’t use it much. There is a small front and back balcony, most mornings you will  find someone sitting there doing their devotions. The back balcony also has our laundryroom  - consisting of clothes lines and a sink.
The school is very well organized and runs on more of a western than an African timetable. We start at 8:30am with each of us going to our respective classes, 10:30 is Chai time. The school provides tea, coffee, and hot chocolate as well as some sort of snack. After Chai it is back to class until 12:00. The first few weeks class was done at noon – it was like kindergarten, only half days as that is all your brain can take. I now have class until 3:00. We have a lunch break from 12-1 and are fed a Kenyan lunch often Githeri(Potatoes, beans, corn & carrots all cooked together), Rice &Beans, or lentils and  chapatti. In the afternoon we have an hour of grammar and an hour of conversation. Conversation is one-on-one time with an instructor or good Swahili speaker, that the school has hired for that purpose. I love to talk so this hour is great, however I do stumble through the Swahili. Today I am hoping to do more listening than talking. I find by now I can get my point across in my halting Swahili but listening takes work. I occasionally think conversation time is just pure entertainment for the language helper as I often string together words in the strangest ways.
I started with a class with three others of a more experienced generation.People learn at different speeds especially when there is a large age gap. As I am only here for 3 months and want to maximize my time I have requested to join a class that started a few weeks before I did. The instructors have been most generous and this week I have been in a class by myself, occasionally joining my former class for shared grammar lessons. It just so happens that the class I wish to join will all be away next week – this works well as when they are back I should be caught up to where they left off. Being in a class of one is an interesting dynamic. All the questions are up to me to answer so by the end of the day my voice is tired from all the translating from English to Swahili. I know some of you are astonished that my voice is capable of wearing out. In the afternoons it’s my free time. I occasionally walk to Tigoni where I can buy most basic things or catch a ride with my housemates to Village Market if I need more wazungu (white people) things. My evenings are filled with grammar review,vocab flashcards, and staying in touch with friends and family back home. All the brain work makes me tired and I am thankful to duck under my mosquito net (thankfully I brought one) and go to bed early
I will end here with some pictures of the school and my home.
Dining room from the kitchen

One of the classrooms
Kitchen, the fridge/freezer is off to the side

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

4 weeks of language, election & a license

So I am supposed to be studying right now –making sure I know how all the noun classes work but I am taking a break as I think I got it down to make the word “this” the subject prefix doubles the vowel and starts with H, for “that” you change the last letter to an O. When doing the possessives I need to remember that a u sounds like a w and I sounds like a y – make sense?So that’s a window into my life the last 4 weeks trying to find the logic in a language that is logical but has so many parts, it is difficult to keep straight  and  trying to keep up with piles of flashcards.This is interspersed with phone calls home (calling friends and family is much more exciting than flashcards), running errands, making meals, washing clothes and visiting with my housemates. When I started I only had class from 8:30-12now its 8:30-3:00. I have really noticed the loss of 2 hours and have more studying to do as I learn more in class and conversation practice.

This week March 4-8 I do not have any class, as Kenya is having an election. The last election was not peaceful and classes are canceled so I can go to the safety of the home a long term missionary in Nairobi. Please join me in prayer that Kenyans will make wise decisions as they go to the poll, that violence is minimal and that I can take this week to work ahead in my Swahili lessons.

On a non-language related note I received good news last week. I received my licence from the Kenya Society of Physiotherapists. I was quite excited to receive this via e-mail and look forward to holding it in my hands next week. This licence has required quite a bit of work I made a special trip to Kenya last April to take the exam – oral and written. This past summer I wrote e-mails concerning the dates of my practicum (they wanted me to do it before October and I wanted to do it in January).  The practicum was done in January and it was four weeks in the hospital working as a physiotherapist – an interesting job for an RT. Since January I have made phone calls to attempt to expedite the paperwork I am glad it is done. I can now move forward with a work permit application, please pray that this will be a quick process.

My life has not been that exciting lately but I have a few pictures and I will end here with them. Just a note of warning the 2nd and last picture should not be viewed by those with a weak stomach.

A few of the teachers playing badminton during lunch break, apparently we are not too hard on them
My housemate injured his toe when a motorbike fell on it. This is the closest I have gotten to medicine the last few weeks as I do an occasional dressing change for him. the other day we had to do it outside so I would have light as the power was out, which is why the grass is the background of the picture.