Kenya

Kenya- land of sunshine and friendly smile, fresh fruit and veggies, vast Mara plains and
beautiful mountains. Kenya- land of poverty and in many places, drought; far too many unwed teenage mothers and orphans; senseless murders and bribery. Life is full of paradoxes wherever we go. Kenya taught me that very clearly. I went to share God’s love. And I came back feeling as though I received more than I gave. Miriam Adeney once said, “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” I found that to be so true.


In July of 2016, my parents were asked to go pastor a church in the small town of Ugunja in
Kenya. They moved across the ocean in April of 2017. My sister and I followed them two months later. She planning to stay for two months before moving back to the States to get married. And I, well, I thought I might go for a year or so. I really wrestled with this idea of serving in Kenya. I am the youngest of four siblings, and after my sister got married, I was the only sibling still at home. I had just turned twenty-one when I moved over to Kenya. While my parents were called to pastor a church over there, what was I going to do? I knew I would need something to pour my time and energy into. God took care of that aspect. About a month before I went, I was asked to teach grades one to three at the small school they had for the missionary families. I was excited about the opportunity to do that, but I still wasn’t ready to commit for more than a year. I suppose we all have dreams. It seems some people dream more than others. Well, I had a lot of dreams about what I thought I would do at that point in my life, and Kenya had not been a part of those dreams. So, I wrestled with whether to go home or stay longer than a year. But it felt as though God was asking me to stay. Reluctantly, I did. Surrender is a difficult thing. And neither is it usually a once and done process. God was asking me to trust Him and the plan He had for me. I thought my own plans were pretty good ones. I still have a lot of dreams today, but I’m trying to hold them with open hands before my heavenly Father. Maybe someday they will be fulfilled, maybe they won’t. But I am trying to learn to trust His heart in the things He allows in my life.

The first year of my time in Kenya was probably the most difficult. Like I mentioned earlier, I was
wrestling with a lot things. I don’t think I was prepared for all the adjustments of living in a place so entirely different from what I knew. I didn’t expect it to take as long as it did to adjust. I missed home, the familiar, and the comfortable, dreadfully. I wasn’t used to living in a city (especially a compound) where we could hear our neighbors talking next door. I grew up in the country, and I missed wide open fields and spaces to roam. I wasn’t used to being in the minority. Going to church, we were the only mzungus (white people) there. Holidays were hard. I missed family gatherings. I missed out on quite a few of my friends and cousins’ weddings.

Our little church at Ugunja was about an hour and a half drive from the city of Kisumu where we
lived. In between there, there were about seventy speed bumps to bounce over. Yes, I counted! Kenya can make very effective speed bumps. If you’ve been there, you know! It’s amazing what can become normal and almost mundane. Church services where everything gets translated, backless wooden benches, chickens wandering through the church house, and the sound of loud music coming from another church nearby. Now, I miss that and the Kenyan people that became dear friends. I miss trying to make conversation with my limited Luo and their limited English. I learned that there are ways to show you care about someone that go deeper than words.

I would like to tell you about my friend Caroline. One of the ladies from our church. Caroline had
polio which caused one leg to be shorter than the other and makes her walk with a limp. Caroline’s husband left her years ago to “find work” in Uganda and has only very recently come back. That left Caroline to raise her children by herself including finding funds to send them to school. But I don’t remember hearing her complain. Instead, she worked hard to try to support herself and her children. When I went back to Kenya to visit, I spent an afternoon at Caroline’s house. She mentioned that she had wanted to buy a pair of sandals for me, but that she had had to go take care of her mother and had to use the money for transport. Later, after I was back in the States, she bought a pair of sandals and gave them to someone from the mission to send back to the States with visitors that were over there who then sent them to me. That was one of the most special gifts that I have ever received! I know that there are probably a lot of things that she needed worse than I ‘needed’ those sandals. That gesture of friendship was priceless.

Teaching school was my job description, but I had the opportunity to travel to so many beautiful
places in Kenya. Mount Kenya, the Maasai Mara, Mount Kilimanjaro, Rusinga Island, and Jinja, Uganda were some of the highlights. We lived in the city of Kisumu which is right on the shores of Lake Victoria. Going down to the lake to just sit and listen to the waves crashing in and watch the sunset was one of my very favorite things to do.

I was also privilege to experience a bit more culture during a ten-day bible school called Christian Believers Youth Conference or CBYC. It was a place for the youth from all of the churches associated with our mission to come a learn more about the Bible and make new friends. The majority of the students were Kenyans with a few of us mzungu youth joining them. We slept in dorms, ate traditional Kenyan food, went to classes, and well, did life together. The cultural differences sometimes seemed glaring, like when I was sitting a table surrounded by Swahili talk and feeling very lost. I had learned more of the tribal language of the people of our church, but there they spoke the national language which I knew very little of. Eating the same food day after day was a bit of a challenge for this American who is used to variety. I learned to wash my laundry by hand. Though, let’s be honest, I did as little laundry as possible.��But in spite of cultural differences, I formed friendships with the Kenyan youth that worth all the challenges. It was that that made it so painful to leave Kenya.

Three years after I arrived, I found myself in tears as I said good-bye to a place that had become
home to me. I’m so glad I stayed in Kenya longer than I had thought I would and learned the lessons God had for me there. I am richer for having experienced life in Kenya. I’ve been back in the States for about two and half years now; and, sometimes, I still get “homesick” for Kenya. I miss my friends there and the sunshine, especially in the winter.�� However, God has also blessed my life here richly, and I want to faithful to place God has called me to be here.

Thank you Miss Kaylita for writing this! We are so blessed to know Kaylita as she has helped our family with school the past several years! She is a beautiful lady that shines gentleness and Jesus wherever she goes!

Bubble Tea

Every time Kinza and I go to any city, one of the first things we do is look up the nearest bubble tea shop! Some of you may agree with me, and some of you might be like, “Seriously? Tapioca in tea?” Please try it, just once, it’s so worth it!

Ingredients:
Tea- black or green
Flavored syrup
Tapioca pearls
Sugar
Water


First of all, brew your tea- whatever kind you like, and then sweeten it and add any flavored syrups you want. Put it in the fridge until it’s good and cold. I made 2 quarts of green tea, one with peach syrup that I had made and another with some strawberry syrup.

Then make a sugar syrup that you will later put the tapioca pearls into. Boil equal parts of sugar and water together for 3 minutes and then let it cool. For the amount of tea I made I did 2/3 c. each of sugar and water. You can also replace some of the sugar with honey.

Now is the fun part- making the boba! Again, for the amount of tea I have, I boiled 1 cup of boba. Keep in mind that the tapioca will double in size when you boil it, so basically you’ll have 2 cups when you’re finished. In 8 cups of water, boil for 8-10 minutes after the boba have floated to the top or until the pearls are soft, then strain the water off and let them cool as long as they cooked. Then put them into the sugar syrup.

Now pour your cold tea into glasses or jars, and then put whatever amount of boba into the tea. I put about 1/3 c. for 12 oz. of tea. Grab a big straw and enjoy this refreshing drink. When I drink bubble tea and taste the combination of sweet tea and chewy boba, it just makes me happy! I hope you enjoy it as well!


Recipe by Ginger

Resources and Part 3

The trauma that happened to you is not your fault. Find someone who will tell you that over and over. Don’t give up. You are worthy. You matter. Your feelings matter. Your story matters. It takes a long time to believe that it truly was not our fault. That we could’ve done something differently. Or that we could have prevented it. For years I believed the things that happened to me were my fault. I believed that if only I had been a better little girl my mom would have wanted me. Perhaps even loved me. I spent most of my life trying to make my mom love me. It was only in recent years that I know there was nothing – NOT ONE THING – I could have done to make her love me or want me. And neither could you. We were little children – babies, some of us. We didn’t know – couldn’t know.
The journey through trauma healing is not pleasant. It is long and messy and hard. It’s full of ups and downs. Sometimes it feels like I take 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. I’m learning to be grateful for the good days. And on the bad days, I reach out to my ‘Mom’. That was a huge step
in and of itself – to be able to reach out to someone when the days are dark. What might look like baby steps to some people, are huge for us who are going through trauma healing. It takes lots and lots of encouragement. It takes even more tears. Kindness. Be gentle with yourself.
You’ve already suffered too much. Jesus never meant for you to carry this grief alone. Find someone to help you. Someone who will listen. Someone who will care about your heart. Someone who cares about the wounds inside. Someone who will be gentle enough help you heal. Seek professional help. There are lots of resources available to help with trauma healing. I have personally done two different types of trauma therapy, both of which I would highly recommend. EMDR therapy and neurofeedback. Both have been very helpful. I recognize that each person/situation is different and what may work for me may not be the best option for
another person. If you don’t have access to therapy, find a few books to read or podcasts to listen to. Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk ‘s book, The Body Keeps the Score, is a good place to start. Or Janina Fisher’s
book, Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors is another good one. Lysa Terkeurst has several good books as well. One of my favorites from her is It’s Not Supposed to be This Way. Larry Crabb, Dan Allender, Donald Miller, Philip Yancey all have some really good books to help you get started. Find books that speak to your soul. If you listen to podcasts or have access to you tube, here’s a small list to help you get started.
Dan Allender
Pat Ogden
Dan Siegel
Brenee Brown
Curt Thompson
Adam Young
Lysa Terkeurst are a few you might want to check out.

I most likely don’t know you, but feel free to reach out. I would be more than happy to share the things I’ve learned along the way. I’m not done healing yet. I don’t know
if I will ever be ‘done’ this side of heaven. I still have days when I’m not sure how I will get through. We all do. It’s part of the life we are called to live here.

-Here is the remaining part of the article and resources from a survivor friend! May Jesus bless you and may you find rest in Him as you journey through trauma or be a friend to someone walking that road.

This podcast is very helpful- I would encourage you to listen to it! This podcast does really well explaining FASD.

A Survivor’s Perspective – Part 2

Here is the continuation from the last post – Part 2

Trauma is stored in the body. Childhood trauma can manifest itself in many forms. They are too numerous to mention them all. Physical illnesses. Food intolerances. Learning disabilities. Relationship problems. Inability to receive love or care. Depression. Anxiety. Insomnia. C-PTSD. To name a few. If you have experienced childhood trauma or abuse, and before you decide that healing is not possible for you, hang in there, because it IS! There is not something wrong with you. You are
not flawed or defective. It was the people God placed in your life to take care of you and love you, who did not take care of you like He intended. It’s not your fault. I know all too well the feelings of worthlessness, trash, defiled, unwanted, no place to belong, feeling like I’m the problem, despair, depression and so many more. Your feelings are legitimate. God gave you
feelings and emotions. Feel them. When they overwhelm you, take a break if you can. And if you can’t, it’s ok. Sometimes feelings overtake you and there is nothing to do but feel them. Sometimes there are no feelings at all. Just deadness. Because to feel anything is too painful. So we turn it off. If you’re in that place, it’s ok too. Be where you need to be. Your feelings awaken in time. You can’t rush healing. I would if I could. Many times over. My therapist told me one time ‘You are a sprinter; God’s asking you to run a marathon.’ Healing won’t happen overnight. Our trauma didn’t happen overnight. Not if it was chronic. Don’t give up on yourself. I know the pain of not being able to look at yourself in the mirror because it hurts too much. Because facing
yourself means facing reality. The reality of your life. Your wounds. Your pain. Sometimes all you can do is curl into a fetal position and let your pain wash over you in waves. As an adult on the road to healing, you have to feel the pain that God protected you from feeling as a child. There’s no other way around it. I know the pain of desperately trying to hold on – begging yourself to not give up. Looking into your own eyes, with tears streaming down your face, begging yourself to hold on one more time. Sometimes all you can do is focus on taking the next breath. Then the next. And another. It’s ok if that’s all you can focus on. I won’t tell you to move on. I won’t tell you to get over it. There is no moving on from the things that happened to us. They are part of who
we are. There is only through. Through the mountains of grief and pain. Through the losses too many to count. Through the darkest valleys of a shame we were never meant to bear. A shame that isn’t ours, but one we were forced to carry. So much shame. And grief. I don’t know how to
grieve well. It just comes. There is no stopping it. Our grief needs to be felt. To be honored. We spent so much of our lives being unseen. Being dishonored. Being invisible. Part of healing is being seen. Heard. Held safe. Our stories need telling. They need to be heard. To be lamented.
Most people shy away from the messy part of healing. Jesus never did. He not only sat with the broken, He sought out the broken. He never told anyone to move on or move beyond. He sat in the messiness and the brokenness with them. He stayed with me when no one else did. He didn’t just sit there and keep his hands clean. He got down in the mess and the dirt and the filth
of my wounds and my pain and was with me in it. That’s the Jesus of Heaven. He doesn’t sit on the front benches of any church or appear in a perfectly tailored suit. The Jesus I know gets messy. He’s not afraid to get down in the dirt. He’s not afraid of your wounds. He’s not repulsed
by your pain. He won’t tell you to pull yourself together and move on. He will invite you into the pain of your own heart. He will explore your wounds with you. And when it hurts so much that you lash out at Him, He’s ok with that too. Before He shows you those wounds, He knew they
would be painful. He knew you would need to lash out. He still won’t let you go. And He’ll stay with you in it. He won’t abandon you in and leave you alone in it. Don’t be surprised if people do because they will. Jesus never will. Even when you think He has. Cry out to Him; He will hear
you. If you have experienced spiritual abuse and can’t talk to God, it’s ok. He understands. Sadly, He is often very much misrepresented by people who call themselves Christian. To those of us who have experienced abuse and trauma, we often have an inaccurate view of God
because of this. The truth about God is that He is close to the broken hearted. He doesn’t sit on His throne with a sharp spear, ready to condemn anyone who dares to contradict Him. He gets off His throne. He bends sown and He whispers softly to us. He holds us close. He’s very
gentle. Because He knows just how much we hurt. He doesn’t tell us to to forgive and forget. Our pain matters to Him. Our shattered hearts matter. Our desolate souls are tenderly loved and cared for by the God of the universe Who comes close. When no one else sees our pain, when
we have to hide it in order to survive, He sees. He cares. He weeps. Because He hurts too. And He wants to heal you.

Watch for the third and final post in this series coming today!

Childhood Trauma: A Survivor’s Perspective

Part 1

What a complex subject: trauma. Because abuse and trauma are very complex. Developmental
and/or childhood trauma leaves an impact on a person in a way that nothing else does. It
changes the neurons in the physical part of your brain. God created our brains to be wired for
connection. Trauma creates separation. Isolation. It fragments the brain into parts. If you were
two years old and you experienced a traumatic event and no one was there to help you process
it, part of your brain gets stuck at 2 years old. You weren’t safe. Or cared for. Your body will grow
to become an adult, but your brain can have many different ‘ages’.
I personally experienced lots of different traumas growing up, along with many different kinds of
abuse. This is called chronic trauma, or ACE. Adverse Childhood Experiences. When that
happens, many different ‘parts’ are formed, because of the different ages/stages that things
happened.


Rejection, abandonment, and neglect are some of the worst traumas a child can experience. It
does more damage than almost any other kind of trauma, because there is no contact. For
myself, physical or sexual abuse was often more preferable than not, because at least there
was someone paying me some kind of attention. It sounds twisted but it’s very true. Because
some kind of attention, even negative attention is better than the nothingness of abandonment
or rejection.

The reason why rejection, neglect and abandonment are so much more damaging is because
there is so much isolation. There’s nothing. No one notices. No one cares. Children are left to
fend for themselves; to live or die as the case may be. Most children will fight to live. It’s why
we’re so good at surviving. It was either fend for yourself or die trying. It’s actually a form of
protection for us. Those of us who grew up with trauma and abuse, know that if we would’ve had
to feel the pain of the things we endured as a baby or child, we would not have been able to
survive. God gave us that protection of being able to shut off our brain.

But the very things that God gave us for protection as children in those circumstances, often
hinder us in the healing process. Especially when we encounter someone in our lives who truly
and genuinely cares and loves us. We are incapable of receiving love and care because of all
the trauma. Not because we don’t want to, but because we don’t know how to. We can see it
around us but we can’t get it for ourselves. Love and care are not things that we were ever
taught. And if a child isn’t taught, they don’t know. We are unable to recognize what it looks like
when someone truly does love us the way Jesus intended. We don’t trust love because we
can’t. Or care. Maybe we’ve been told that we’re not worthy of love. Or that we’re too hard to
love. Or that we don’t deserve love. Or maybe the ‘love’ that’s been modeled to us was
connected to abuse. Maybe our parents ‘loved’ us as long as we were good, but as soon as we
disappointed them they withdrew their ‘love’. To trust love means more hurt. By the time we’re
adults, our hearts are so tattered that there’s hardly anything left to even want to believe in a
good kind of love. God created us for love and relationship. Connection. Trauma and abuse
sever all of that. It isolates us. Sometimes it even isolates us from ourselves. We don’t know
who we are. We are more like a robot than we are the person that God created us to be.