Previous month:
August 2006
Next month:
October 2006

Entries from September 2006

What Is the Value of Your Education?

I admit that I do not have a very prestigious education. I attended public schools in the state of Texas and did not attend college. I did go to a Bible school after high school, Texas Bible Institute, but unfortunately it turned out to be a waste of time. I was an average student in school. My problem was that I always wanted to learn something other than what my teachers decided I needed to know. So in other words, my days at school are nothing for me to really boast about, and I have never considered the time spent in school to have really been all that worthwhile.

.

That was my attitude up until the time I moved to Kenya in January of 2005. I have come to respect and appreciate my high school diploma I earned from Port Neches-Groves High School in 1992 and the confidence my education gives me.

.

The quality of education here in Kenya is dismal. In the beginning of the year, I did a sermon series on the historic Jesus, and the main problem I had was that most people in my listening audience did not even understand what I meant by the first century. This included people who had never stepped into a classroom as well as those who had diplomas. I started to wonder about the quality of the schools here in Nakuru.

.

What I found was overcrowded class rooms, under qualified teachers, lack of text books, poor text books, and an over dependence on memorization. Memorizing is, in my opinion, a very poor way to learn. Of all the things I had to memorize when I was in school, I remember none of them now. Just because you can memorize a portion of Romeo and Juliet does not mean you understand Romeo and Juliet’s love.

.

I found another problem here; kids do not attend school on a regular basis. They are always being sent home for lack of school fees. You can find children that miss a week or so of school while their parents search for the money to pay the school. This does not provide for a good learning atmosphere. This is also true in the supposed free primary schools that the government provides. The teachers find ways to milk families for money. Just how are you supposed to learn from a teacher who is being paid a bribe for you to be in school?

.

I thank God that my parents did not have to struggle to pay for my education. I was able to attend school without fear of being sent home because I could not pay.

.

I could go on and on, but I have to get some other work done. So what is the value of your education? I have confidence in my ability to learn anything and everything because of my educational experience. I also am confident that I can determine what is good and what is bad when shopping or listening to politicians or etc… Finally, I know my language well enough and am able to communicate with confidence knowing that the words I am using are the words that I want to use. (Even if my vocabulary is not as great as some of yours.) The graduates of the Kenyan school system are not confident in their education, and this leads to lack of confidence in almost every aspect of life.

.

Confidence is the value of my education.

.

Disclaimer: The above does not describe every Kenyan, no matter how much or how little their education. Individuals can and do rise above their circumstances. Lack of education does not equal lack of intelligence.


The Plight of Women in Rural Africa

Let me say right off the bat that I am no expert on this topic and this is not an academic article. I just wanted to express some of the feelings I have towards women in rural Africa after visiting several rural places here in East Africa.

.

While I was in Sigulu Island, Uganda this past week I prayed for many women there. They just kept coming one after another to see if there was anything we could do for them. After praying for ten or so of them I realized that they were treating us like the witchdoctors they were accustomed to. They really did not have faith in the God I knew they just didn’t want to pass up an opportunity for something to be done about their problem.

.

My heart broke as woman after woman described menstrual problems, abuse from her husband, problems conceiving, worms, and even a woman who had miscarried and not fully delivered the placenta. I wanted to weep because all of these problems could be treated easily. These women did not need to suffer, yet they were suffering.

.

Healthcare is not very simple in rural Africa. People do not have access to healthcare or do not trust the system. This island does not have a hospital, doctor, or even a clinic. There is no healthcare at all, yet this island has close to three million inhabitants. Visiting a doctor means taking a four hour boat ride to Port Victoria. She would then have to find a doctor and make it back before the boat left to return to Sigulu. I think this is pretty much impossible to do in one day, but the real problem is even leaving her home in the first place.

.

Women do not do things on their own initiative. To leave the beach to go look for a doctor she would need permission from her husband, and that would mean telling him the problem. Discussing your menstrual health with a man is something that women in rural Africa just do not do. When these ladies were asking us for prayer it was not easy for them to do so. Some of them we had to really reassure and sometimes had to pull it out of them. Women just end up keeping it to themselves or relying upon the local folk medicine to treat it.

.

We also prayed/counseled several women who were abused by their husbands. These women were second or third wives of one man. There is no legal way for them to deal with this issue of abuse. The beach we visited on Sigulu Island had no police, not that a woman would get anywhere reporting the abuse to them. If a wife does not produce children, cook food, wash clothes, and otherwise take care of her husband, she is often times beaten. She has no where to turn to.

.

No voice, no power, and no escape are the plight of women in rural Africa. What can I do about it? I try to bring hope one person at a time. We educate women on reproductive health, hygiene, their rights as human beings, and how God feels about them.

.

I would like to return to this beach on Sigulu Island with a couple of doctors and nurses and hold a two day free medical clinic. I would also like to send teachers for the church there to educate women and men on how to live a good life. Sigulu Island is not the exception, but it is the norm in rural Africa.


Care Packages

For those of you who have wanted to send a care package to us but always didn’t because the thought of ‘what to send’ was overwhelming, this list is for you!

.

I’ve always found that though I am a creative person, my mind had NO CLUE what to by people for Christmas let alone send people who were far away so I just never did the latter. Let me start with a list of things we can’t really get here.

.

Also let me warn you that shipping to Kenya is costly so we understand if you still don’t want to send us anything; however, I must add that packages are like treasures hidden in time that my kids explode with elation upon finding! So thank you in advance if you choose to send us one.

.

To Send:         

  • Bisquick mix   (great for frying onion rings for those of you who didn’t know!)
  • Canned Refried Beans (currently it takes me 4 hours to make them from scratch PLUS I have to make the tortillas and Salsa from scratch so burritos take ALL DAY!)
  • Frito Lay Bean dip (I need it for some recipes)
  • Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • Cream of Celery Soup
  • Marshmallows (these make good packing material!)
  • Velveeta for Johnny
  • but don’t forget the canned Rotel to make dip!
  • Tortilla chips
  • Cereal (any kind, but here’s some of our favorites: Quaker Oatmeal Squares (all flavors), Life, Honey Nut Cheerios, Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and really any cereal!
  • Books
  • DVD’s (you’d be surprised what we DON’T have like Veggie Tales!) I personally would like: A home video from you, 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, Funny Girl, Yentle, Seven Brides for Seven Bro., Singing in the Rain, Sound of Music, Annie w/ Carol Burnette, My Fair Lady, and any other good musicals out there!
  • Toys for the kids (no toy factories in Kenya)
  • Baby toys
  • Newborn Onesies and sleepers (I’d love any baby stuff for that matter, though I can find most things here)
  • Craft supplies (any!)
  • Acrylic Paint (These are for my personal use for painting on walls, furniture, etc… Everything here is SO bland. Walls are painted white ROCK with no ability to nail pictures or clocks on them, and furniture is just wood color.)
  • For Science I need: 

  • 30 Pennies (can’t get those here! Ha!)
  • Brown Paper bag (they don’t have them here, only plastic)
  • Powdered Tempera Paint
  • Clear film canisters
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Paraffin
  • PVA glue (I don’t know what that is.)

Editers Note (Johnny): Please make sure it is legal to send it before you send it. I see some iffy stuff here in Kate's note like PVA glue and paraffin. Also the vast majority of this stuff is available here just more expensive. So should you just want to send money you can do that just designate that it is for buying care package related items.


You Find __ What to Be Attractive?

Being from America and living in Kenya, I’ve come to learn that beauty is definitely in the eyes of the beholder, and culture plays a HUGE roll in our perception.

.

For example, monstrously long toe nails are extremely beautiful in Kenya, and a large gap between the front teeth is comparable to Marilyn Monroe’s ‘beauty mark’ on her face for us Americans. Kenyans love gappy smiles whereas the American culture uses a gap between the front teeth to show that a person is slow, nerdy, or stupid. Dugh.

.

Hey, and I have some great news for all of you ‘thick-boned’ ladies out there! If you are taller than your husband with broad shoulders and a thick build, you are HOT in Kenya! Husky women are the sign of wealthy husbands. In fact, the larger the better!

.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to wear those bifocals! The tackier they are, the more glamorous! Glasses are a big sign of wealth here, too! Many people (of course only those who can afford) buy them even if they don’t have a vision problem just as an American would spend $$ on a fancy car. It’s all about status and who’s got it.

.

Speaking of cars, since credit is not available here in Kenya like in the USA, someone with a car (no matter how old, or ugly) is definitely ‘higher-ranking’ than someone without one! So move over all you pedestrians (including myself) because cars have the right-of-way in Kenya! (and the drivers will hit you if you don’t believe it!)

.

So men, if your thin, attractive (to you), contact wearing, straight teethed wife doesn’t age well and turns into an overweight, bifocal wearing snaggle-tooth who can’t reach her toe-nails to keep them trim, then you need to just move to East Africa where you will have the sexiest, most sought after woman in town!

.

And all you used car owners, don’t get down when you look at your old, beat-up cutlass because if you even own a car (even a beat up, old one), you already are considered the richest guy in the neighborhood!

.

So let’s keep things in perspective the next time we judge someone by their appearance, eh?

.

~Kate


Quote of the Week

This week's quote comes from another blog. The writer is describing his hope's for the future of the Emergent Conversation in response to Mark Driscoll's seemingly endless attacks against the emerging church. I thought this quote reflected some of my hopes for the future of church in general.

"More authentic Christ followers, more followers of God not Men, more commitment, more peace activists, more intercessors, more lovers, more bringers of Good News, more holy people, more sacrificial hospitality, more love of scripture, more people who give their lives to walk with others and with God, more honesty, more humility, more spirituality, more creativity, more integrity, more generosity, more wisdom, more Shalom!"

This comes from the blog Way Out West, which I recommend you add to your reading list.


Back from Sigulu Island

I am back home, Nakuru, from my trip to Sigulu Island in Uganda. The trip was great, and I will be posting some articles in the next few days related to that trip. I hope to include a good number of pictures as well.
Some of the posts I am working on are:

  • The Plight of Women in Rural Africa
  • Paganism and Christianity
  • The Value of Education
  • Fish

Good to be back with my family. I was only gone for 5 days, but when you are in a place with no electricty, no running water, no toliets, no shower, no phones, no well anything really except fish, the days tend to drag on.


Makin' it

Hey family, friends, fellow bloggers!

Johnny is still on Sigulu Island. He left last Thursday the 14th of Sept, and the last I heard from him was on Friday. He called while he was in a small boat travelling across the lake. He said he wanted to call before he lost reception. This island is so rural that there is no electricity or cell phone reception and the only access to it is by boat. Johnny was supposed to be camping out in a tent on the shore of the island. He was a bit concerned about hippos and crocodiles, but he is with God and a local friend so I'm sure he's alright.

I should be getting a call from him once he travels back to the mainland today or tomorrow. He won't be home in Nakuru until later this week, but be ready for some cool pictures and stories! I'm sure he's having an adventure!

While he was away, it was my job to do the main service and all the other Nakuru ministry stuff. We've been talking about the fruits of the spirit. Yesterday I spoke about the fruit Goodness. In one sentence I will summaraize: Goodness is not just doing good, but SEEING good in others.

I hope to have more of the fruit of Goodness in my life!

Thanks for checkin' us out from time to time. More regular posts and updates are coming once Johnny returns!

~Kate