Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Looking back.. and forward

I've been back in the States for over a week and a half now. In those days, I've driven with friends out to the great state of Montana to see my family and to enjoy God's beautiful creation. I'm back in Ohio now, and it's been good to sit back and relax; it's given me a chance to process what I've learned and how I've grown. I can't even begin to give you a blog on what I've experienced and gone through, but I know that I wouldn't have traded the past two months for anything. The Lord teaches and guides us wherever we are on this earth, and He is faithful to continue teaching and guiding me here in these next months...

It's been hard to adjust back. Harder sometimes than others, and I miss all these babies like crazy. I met and was blessed by so many people in Kenya. My friend Mary shared a verse with our church during my time in there. It's Job 26:14, and I believe it best expresses my feelings as I left Kenya and all the amazing people I met there. God is so good.

"And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?"

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Language is such an interesting thing. There are some Kiswahili words that I just can’t get. Take for example the word for “cow.” It’s “ng’ombe”. I can’t say that for the life of me. Also, there are certain words that Kenyans really have a hard time saying… and names- like mine. Kirsten seems to be a nearly impossible name to pronounce so we switched to “Kiki” which seems to roll off the tongue a little easier. The kids are so cute, always yelling, “Tena (“again”), Auntie Kiki!” or “Kuja (“come”), Auntie Kiki!” They’ve taught me a quite a bit of Kiswahili… I’ve learned to say, “don’t eat that, don’t climb, sit down, come back, give that to me”, and other commands that attempt to keep them from eating rocks and pushing each other over. I feel like I say these things too often. These aren’t words that I especially enjoying saying, but they are necessary to know and use for a safe environment. Another phrase I’ve learned is, “Nakupenda.” These words are ones that the kids have taught me most about. “Nakupenda” means, “I love you.” Their expressions of love have made a profound impact on me and have truly touched my heart. Moments that bring me the most joy are when they rest their head against me. Whether it’s Rebecca walking over to where I am sitting and laying her head on my arm or Joshua wrapping his tiny arms around my head and squeezing his cheek against mine or Faith sucking on her two fingers and leaning back against me while sitting on my lap or Manu running up to where I’m standing and grabbing my leg and leaning his head against it… I just love it. To me, there are few greater demonstrations of trust. They love and trust like I only hope to do. I feel like I have seen and felt just a small piece of what God must feel when I come to Him and fully trust and rest in His arms.

Monday, July 5, 2010

82 tiny hands

This past week was an exciting one. Sweet little Phyllis went home to her new family on Friday. She’s has been doing so well. Her new mom came in several times before Phyllis went home with her, so we were able to watch them bond and see how happy they are together. Earlier in the week we got two new babies! Nathan is almost a month old, and Joel is around 10 months old. They are both very healthy, and they are happily adjusting to this new environment.
Phyllis and I
With new babies, we are pretty full here. We’re at 41 babies right now so it keeps all the caregivers and staff on their toes. I’m so excited that we are able to care for so many babies and give them the love and care they need to grow.
In the evenings, Mary Howell, Kari, and I have been giving some extra help down in the toddler room. These kids are so full of energy in the evenings and so fun to be around. Yes, there are tiffs that occur on a daily basis, but we do our best to help sort them out and we end up having a great time. Two, three, and four year olds are just so funny to be around. Bubbles are especially entertaining to a lot of them, and I nearly died laughing when I saw their expressions as they ran around trying to pop bubbles! They're just so precious...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A New Home

Recently I was able to witness an adoption here at AGC Baby Centre. Jessica, who is 16 months old, went home with her new family. She now has a mom, dad, and big brother to love her. Before they went home, we had a small send off service for her. Staci, the director of the baby centre, the administrative staff, and the caregivers were all present- all people who have loved and taken care of Jessica while she has been at baby centre. One of the caregivers got up to speak. She was talking in Kiswahili so I couldn’t understand her words, but I knew by her voice and her eyes exactly how she felt about having the privilege to know and care for Jessica. It was such a moving experience to witness Jessica’s transition from this home to a new home with a new family. Several other people from baby centre spoke and finally both of Jessica’s parents said a few words. They gave the Lord the glory for bringing them to baby centre to find their new baby to love. Soon after, they all got in the car and headed back home. My heart is so full. This day was such a testament of God’s faithfulness. He sees each one of these little ones and has a plan for them all.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

kenya is beautiful

This is Menengai Crator. It's amazing. In the U.S. there would be all sorts of handrails and signs obstructing this awesome view, but here there is just you and a giant drop off. So great!
From the top of Menengai..
So about this receipt.. Lizz and Chris (a young married couple serving here in Kenya) and Mary and I were on our way up to see Menegai Crator. At the entrance, the guard came up to our car and told us that it would cost 600 shillings per person for us to enter. Chris and Lizz had been there the previous week and paid only 200 shillings per person... So Chris told him that was to much- we would pay 300 shillings per person. The man walked away to consult with another guard. When he came back he said, "Ok, 700 shillings. 300 for you two," (Chris and Lizz) "And 50 shillings for each of the children." (Motioning to Mary and I in the back seat!) I almost died laughing, but hey! we got a good deal to see the crator!

Ok. So I bought myself flowers... But look at them! They're beautiful!
20 roses for 200 shillings- less than three bucks!Some calla lilies just growing along the sidewalk.. So beautifulMore roses. We don't have a vase, so we used a coffee pot :)

Country side... :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

bananas galore

Wow! It was a busy day today. Tomorrow is a celebration in Nakuru called Day of the African Child. We were busy preparing 1,000 sac lunches to hand out to the children who attend tomorrow. So we washed 1,000 farm-fresh eggs, boiled them, and washed 1,000 bananas. Then we threw a hard-boiled egg, a banana, and a roll in 1,000 brown paper bags! We had quite the assembly line to complete the task! We had a good time though and finished it all before supper. :)

Mary, Staci, and I

Lots of food! Bananas, boiled eggs, and rolls...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Learning to teach

Fridays, there is the opportunity to go to the local primary school here and share a devotional with the classes. The pastors here have been going for quite some time to share with the kids about Jesus for about 45 minutes in the morning. Mary and I have joined them and we walk the short distance down the dirt road to the school to teach and talk to the students. The first Friday I was here, I just went along to observe, but this Friday I was able to teach (with the aid of my translator). I was with grades 4, 5, and 6.
Thursday night, as we worked out our stories and activities for the next morning, I was a little nervous about speaking to the class. I was glad that I would be sharing with such a young age group because they are so forgiving, ☺ but I still worry about speaking in front of people in general. My confidence goes out the window. The previous week I had very much enjoyed going along. I sat in and watched the 7th and 8th grades. All the students wanted to touch my hair- they couldn’t believe how long it was- and shake my hand… It was so much fun to be with them! So I really wanted to go at least one more Friday to teach and give it a try.
Friday morning we arrived at the school and split up in to the different class groups. My class gathered into their room and the teacher and students sang a song in Swahili that was used to call the class to order. The classroom had a concrete floor with large craters from years of use and the windows provided the only light. I received such a warm welcome as I came up to tell the story that Jesus tells in Matthew 7: 24-27. Afterwards we sang, “The wise man built his house upon the rock.” We had a lot of fun, and I’m excited to go back.

Here's the whole group after class!

Right after the primary school we went to our group devotions back at the Baby Centre. We’re going through a book about leadership. We talked about Moses and how he was not a good speaker or delegator, but God used him in mighty ways anyways. The Lord knows our weaknesses, but our weaknesses don’t limit Him or what he can use us for- in fact, the things He does through us in spite of our weaknesses are truly a testament to His power.

“Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn to the right of to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Habari yako? There is about 50% of my Swahili so far! It’s been a while since I’ve written much, but the past week has been a lot of adjustments for me. I think I’m about adjusted to the time change. Swahili is definitely a challenge, but everyone here at the AGC Baby Centre has been so helpful! The change in food has been no problem! I have had some great Kenyan food. I don’t know how to spell much of it but I love the chapatis and irio… Also- it is very important here to break a couple times a day to have chai, which I very much enjoy. Today we also got “drinking chocolate” or hot chocolate to the American.

Mary is another girl that is here through the same VIA program as me. We share an apartment here at the AGC Baby Centre. She’s been here about 2½ weeks already so she’s filled me in a lot about how things work around here. Her and I are becoming quite the chefs, but it is really nice too that we have had a constant flow of delicious mango that needs no preparation at all. (I recently learned the proper way to cut one! Haha..)

The staff that I work with is amazing. The administrative staff meets every morning at 9 for devotions and prayer, and I have been so blessed to join and pray with them. Kenyans are incredibly hospitable and welcoming… I am continually challenged by them to be so much more outgoing and thoughtful of those around me. The tempo of life here is a lot more laid back too. A lot of this may be because everything takes longer to do here than it does in the U.S. but I think a lot has to do with the easygoing culture here.

There are 40 toddlers and infants that are here at the AGC Baby Centre. I’m doing my best to learn names, but it’s quite a challenge! I’ve called Phyllis James and I’ve called Lydia Caleb… oops. I will hopefully get better as time goes on. The work that have put in so far with these little ones has already been SO rewarding. I love when the toddlers surround me with their little arms grabbing my legs or reaching up to be held. Most times just saying, “Sasa!” is all it takes to get a huge smile in response.

One last thing before I sign off… The countryside here is beautiful. Mary and I went for a run this afternoon right after it rained and when we turned around to head back to the center, the view of the mountains made us both gasp. It was stunning. The song “Indescribable” has been in my head ever since that sight. What an awesome God we serve!

Friday, June 4, 2010

travel time

Hello from Kenya! I have officially been here in the country two whole days. The flight here went well… I met up with another WGM volunteer in Detroit and the two of us flew the seven hours over the sea to Amsterdam where we were scheduled to have an hour and a half layover then continue to Nairobi from here. As it turned out, we ended up getting off the plane and running to our next plane just minutes before it took off to Kenya. It was a bit nerve racking, but we made it and we were so thankful to finally be buckled in for the next 7 hour flight down to Kenya. However, because of our quick switch in Amsterdam our pilot informed us that several of the passengers’ bags did not make it onto the flight. Judy, the other volunteer I was traveling with, was one such passenger. It wasn’t the most pleasant news to hear after 14 hours of plane rides… We waited an hour to buy our visas and then I went to claim my luggage and Judy went to report hers as missing. Around this time, I discovered that only one of my two bags had arrived. The missing bag contained all my clothing, and the one I got was full of towels, sheets, peanut butter, and cheerios. Not very helpful. The airline said that the bags should be coming in the morning though, and to check back at the airport then. We stayed the night in Nairobi and then called in the morning. They reported that they had Judy’s bags, but when we asked about mine they said, “Kirsten Wenger? We have no idea about that bag.” Haha- what?! We went to the airport anyways to claim the bags and lo and behold, my bag was there too! Praise the Lord!

All in all, it was a smooth traveling experience and I’m so thankful for the prayers of many people during our flight.

I’m here at the Center now and today was my first day to walk around and really see the children and the facility. I really love it. All the children are absolutely beautiful and so precious! I feel so blessed to be here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Travel Song!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

ready, set...

All packed! Zoe thinks she's coming along too...
I packed my suitcase about a week ago. Then I repacked...
I think I finally have it about right. All set.

And praise the Lord- all funds have been raised! :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Today a friend of mine asked me about what I hope to get from this summer. What am I expecting to bring back from this trip? We talked about this for awhile... It's kinda hard for me to answer this because I feel like the experiences and things that I will go through in Kenya are just so unknown. After some thought, there were things that I was able to list as expectations for this trip and a few others that I have thought of since our conversation...

I expect to see what God is doing in Kenya- at the Baby Center and in the city. He is so much bigger than I can fathom and I'm so anxious to experience His same infinite and unimaginable love for a culture that is different from mine.

I expect the Lord to work in my heart during this trip. He will continue to mold me and shape me, using this experience as just one of many tools to broaden my worldview and deepen my understanding of who He is.

I also expect to be stretched and challenged along the way. I will be on some unfamiliar turf with lots of unfamiliar faces and lots of new experiences... One of my favorite quotes is from the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe in reference to Aslan:

"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the king I tell you."

He isn't safe, but He's good. And He's faithful...

Friday, May 21, 2010

The journey thus far...

I have been looking at my final itinerary for my flight to Kenya, and I can't believe it's almost here! A mere 6 months ago I had no idea that this trip would even be in existence. For over two years now I've really had a desire to travel and give a chunk of my time and gifts over for the Lord to use in whatever way he pleases, and because I'm in school summer seems like the prime time to go. In November I really began to look at what options I had to travel and work. In December, two of my friends shared with me about the Volunteers In Action program through World Gospel Missions. The more I read about the VIA program, the more intrigued I was. I've been praying about this trip for some time now, and as I began applying I felt like there were so many doors that opened for this all to work out.

Once I was accepted to the program I was asked where I wanted to serve. I really didn't know where the Lord wanted me for the summer. There were three places that had opportunities that aligned with my heart for kids and especially orphans. I applied for all three one of which was Kenya. Soon after I heard back from the other two sites. They said that they would love to have me. I felt some disappointment when I didn't hear back from Kenya. It didn't sound very promising that I would be accepted there, but I decided hold out to hear from them and the longer I waited the more excited I became to go to Kenya.

A couple weeks later, I was at Bible study with several people from church and school. One of the guys at the study had brought his little 7 month-old daughter along. I was holding her as we talked. She was so precious! She kept looking up at me and smiling and then she started chewing on my hand- drooling all over me... Hah! I can't tell you how much holding this little girl brought me joy in that moment... and I felt so much that Kenya was exactly where I was supposed to be for the summer- spending time with the little ones at the AGC Baby Center... Two days later I got the good news that I had been accepted to go to Kenya. In the next days and weeks I was blessed to speak with several people from Kenya and who had gone to the Baby Center. All these interactions have been such an encouragement and blessing! The Lord is faithful...

Less than two weeks left now! :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Shots today!
Yellow Fever and Hep A.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


It's unbelievable how much love can be felt in a home. I don't realize quite how much I miss it until I come home from school. I literally laughed until I cried and couldn't breathe today. These are my favorite moments. My mom, sisters, and my sisters' boyfriends, and I are all just hanging out, playing games, eating ice cream, and talking... Just doing life together and completely enjoying it. The Lord knows just how much our hearts need this. I need fellowship and love and care and all this fills me to the brim, but from there where does it go? I can sit and revel in this moment (and I am) but I hope that I don't keep this to myself. Love and joy need to be given away, and I know that there are a lot of people in this world who are very much with out tonight...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Here we go

Here are the postings of an admittedly poor writer and journalist. In fact, anyone who knows me well will probably tell you that I'm quite awful at articulating my thoughts, so here goes nothing... I do hope, however, that this will be a place where I can share my experiences and thoughts... some of which may be exciting and lots of which may be rather mundane. :)

In any case, I cannot convey to you how much I am anticipating this journey. This past week was spent in preparation for the trip at World Gospel Missions headquarters in Marion, IN. The experiences and relationships that I built there were such a blessing to me and such an encouragement... girls and guys that are going all over the world this summer- all with the common goal of showing the love of Christ and giving their time to serve others.

I'm back home now. I have two weeks and three days till I get to dust off that passport of mine. During this time my to do list consists of:
1. mulching the flowerbeds around our house- at the request of my loving mother :)
2. receiving immunizations for my world travels- bleh
3. celebrating my 21 years of life
4. cleaning the disaster of a room that followed me home from college
5. a trip to cedar point
6. figuring out what to put in the giant suitcase that is traveling with me to kenya.... (this might be the hardest task on the list)