Sunday, August 28, 2011

Moving Forward

It's been a journey. I'm not sure exactly where it began, and I'm not sure precisely where it will end, but I've changed chapters. I can't post truly current events on this "jess in kenya!" blog, because well, Jess isn't in Kenya. But I still have stories. Plenty of stories. If you still like hearing stories - bedtime stories, happy stories, funny stories, sad stories - maybe you'll find some here. Your responses and comments and simple act of keeping up with my stories makes me feel worthwhile and special. Thank you for your personal, diligent, and above-and-beyond support. You are missionaries. Brighten the corner where you are.

May God
bless you
keep you
shine upon you
be gracious to you
smile upon you
and give you

(Stotz Up! blog)

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I miss Kenya every day. Some days, I miss it more. Like now. This week. This month. As I finish my second day of school, my students are tucked in their beds, sleeping in preparation for their third day. I won't be there. And to understate it, that's a real bummer. But when I miss Maxwell the most, I sit back with a bagel and strawberry cream cheese and smile at the dinner in the cafe I had with a good friend I hadn't seen for 16 months. And I think: I've missed things everywhere. I really hope - and faith is the substance of things hoped for - that Heaven is a sort of Pangaea for cultures and people and foods. I can hang out with Kemmy and Stacia and Kyle and Josh at the same time. They'll meet one another. We can share chapati and mashed potatoes and, well, something even better than Taco Bell (who can believe it?!?). And it will be very, very good.

Heaven is a wonderful place.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Re-Entry

Signs flash the familiar names of familiar places... Bridgman... John Beers... Warren Dunes...
My anxiety mounts. I'm nervous. I'm strapped into the ride, and can't extricate myself from its hurtle toward Berrien Springs, MI. The vehicle seems to be accelerating, faster and faster and faster; warp speed. My breathing grows shallower and more rapid. I feel hot and cold all at once. No escape. No turning back. I want to reach out and push on the dash with all my might, willing the car to a halt. Leaning back in my seat doesn't push it farther away. Collision: inevitable.

I'm nervous. I'm anxious. I'm scared.

If I were a jug of emotions, my eyeballs would be floating in fear.

When the space shuttle comes plummeting back to Earth, are the astronauts excited about home, or anxious, fearful about the 3000ºF re-entry into the atmosphere? Maybe it's a little more enticing to remain in space, floating, with no particular goal or particular place. No gravity to hold them down, no weather to dampen their days.
No trees. No summer breezes. No winter gales. No sunrises, sunsets, daytime or nighttime.

I'm scared. I'm scared that my re-entry into the AUtmosphere will result in crash-and-burn. Or crash. Or burn. Tragedy. Disaster. Unknown. Unexpected. But I'm more scared of life in limbo.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Squeeze Play

Bob Barker.

One of the simplest, no glitz, no glam, down-to-earth names you might ever encounter, and one that readily brings vivid visions of prizes and bidding and dollar amounts and games.
One of those games is simply known as "Squeeze Play". A glittering, enticing prize was given a showy advertisement by the personless voice of Rod Roddy and voiceless person of one of Barker's Beauties, then given a price with one too many digits. The contestant's job was to choose which number didn't belong, pluck it out, and allow the remaining digits to squeeze together to make the final price. Once that number was pulled out, there was no time to put it back; the beginning and ending numbers began to move toward each other with a whirring, wrenching, clicking impetus, threatening to crush anything placed in between. If the contestant's price matched the manufacturer's suggested retail price, they walked home (or drove home) with their prize. If not, do-doot-do-do, wahhhhhh; it was game over.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Update #36: The End of the World as I Know It

To my family:

I've arrived! Safe at home... Maybe. Considering I've not spent more than 4 nights in any bed since I arrived Stateside, I guess it's hard to say. Hugs and greetings and unbidden weeping at Wisconsin Campmeeting in Oxford; a few uneventful nights in my house in Frederic; an exploding tire, a southern-born trucker in steel-toed cowboy boots, a state trooper, and a hotel in the rural flats of central Illinois; pool parties and family in southern (heat- and humidity-stricken) Tennessee; more family and a soot-spewing water heater in the U.P.; and long, lazy days in a basement apartment in southern Wisconsin. Now you understand why it's taken me three weeks to let you all know that I've arrived safely in my home country. Of course, I never did inform you what method of transportation I'd be utilizing to make the transoceanic trek; some of you may be surprised at the thought that my steamer crossed the ocean so quickly. But, you know, volcanic ash in the atmosphere only affects air travel these days, not travel by sea. But airline food is quite a bit better than the stuff you find on those paddlewheels.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Journal Entry

I've decided that everyone is inherently decent, and i'm going to be bold enough to test that theory.

I finally allowed myself (or maybe myself allowed I) to get excited when I boarded the flight to Chicago. I guess I was trying to play it safe? :)

I hear people in the line speaking of their African exploints, and see their shirts: "Stop F.G.M." and "Don't trade girls for cows; give them an education", then see them try to cut in front in line... I cringe and find myself quietly accusing them of doing a "feel-good" mission trip: "I'll go save Africa..."
How wrong of me! What have I done that makes me any different? Am I becoming haughty simply because I had opportunity to live away from home longer? Have the differences we've made (or not made) really been measurably different?
Stop your judging, Jessica Mae.

Even seeing the on/off ramps and gree highway signs make me a bit giddy.
The lake! the lake!
Look! Driver in the left side of the vehicle!'s like gawking at a foreign country. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Journal Entry

Good Grief.

We're pulling away from the gate. I'm experiencing the buckled-into-the-ride, no-turning-back, do-not-pass-GO feeling. I've spent the whole day feeling my chest get tigher and tighter. No emotions, no organized thoughts; just anxiety. It's as if I've gone through the "grieving" process already, and I've finally come to terms with the fact that life's moving on, no matter what I do about it.
I worry, though, that I haven't quite realized that I've said goodbye. I won't be seeing the Raymonds, or Charmaine, or Yuot, or Inah, or Joy, or Bob, or ... anything. It seems as though this is a short sojourn away from Kenya, yet I don't feel as though I'm returning, either. Perhaps I've gone through the worst of the missing stage; perhaps the next (first) 2 weeks will be the hardest. Maybe it's like drowning; near-drowning feels just as bad as actual drowing. The 2 weeks I've spent away from the rAymonds, etc. before is as bad as it gets. Perhaps.

The plane's wheels left the ground... my first thought? "And that's how it ended."
No. It can't be over. No way. As if it never happened; back to life-before.
When I land, it will be: "And that is how it resumed." I'm in limbo. Over the ocean, in no man's land. I suppose that's how I feel overall; in limbo. I'm just not sure how long this flight is, or its final destination, or even how long the layover is. Hmm.

Update #35: The Great Migration

1.8 million.

That's the estimated number of wildebeest that pack up their homely selves each year and trek hundreds of miles from Ngorongoro Crater of Tanzania, over the plains of the Serengeti, and to the plentiful waves of grass of the Masai Mara, Kenya.
Sometime in May-June, these nearly innumerable implausibilities - yes, that really is the name for a group of gnus/wildebeest - simply turn tail south and start plodding north toward the equator. The way I figure it, there must be a wildebeest angel out there that gets to give each member of my favorite African species a little nudge and the migratory go-ahead nod.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Check the Microwave

Have you looked in your microwave? You should look in your microwave.

I woke up early to bid adieu to a few departing juniors. Note to readers: the junior class is in my top four favorite classes. Really really. However, in this group of a few departing juniors was an apartment raiding, chalkboard graffiti-ing, water bottle "thieving" girl who taught me Tagalog. I went to bed last night, dreading the goodbye this morning, but this morning was simply a sleepy hug and a few final words:

You should look in your microwave.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The final Sabbath. The sun's finally decided to come out, and with it, my white shorts and even whiter legs. Dale's guitar is joining the birds' songs on a warm afternoon.

I've toted my camera about all day, just ready for... well, I don't know. It's the last Sabbath! There's got to be something to capture. The last something. The last story. The last song. The last giggle. The last random outburst.
I'm bidding adieu to so many. Goodbyes are supposed to be an event; something final. Something that makes putting an ocean between us bearable. A quick and painless extraction from the web of relationships.

I've got my camera and journal ready, but I know I'm going to miss something.

I'm going to miss nearly everything, in fact.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Journal Entry

I'm still having an identity crisis. But I've learned something.

Why am I here?
Meeting people.
Helping people.
Serving people.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Journal Entry

What gives me the right to traipse into someone else's home with pomp and Land Rover circumstance, dump off goods that were bought with surplus, then drive off, feeling good about myself? What good am I doing, except for my level of feel-good? I feel guilty as we load up multiple tables in the dining hall with more clothing, toys, craft supplies, and medicines than I could shake a rungu at. How is this not selfish?


Graduation. Oi.
Talk about Jessica as an emotional wreck.
Combine the arrival of three family members (whom I have not seen for 294 days); the departure of a couple dozen freshmen (whom I will likely not see again this side of heaven); some of the most difficult piano pieces I've ever attempted to learn (as I am a pianist for the weekend's programs); and the thought that the entire senior class will march into the church, grab faux black leather bound folders, and march out of my life forever... yep. Jessica Stotz = emotional basket case.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Journal Entry

I know who I am by the way I act.
I act the way I act according to the people around me.
The people around me just graduated and left.
I'm feeling a bit lost.
I'm feeling a bit less "myself".
I'm feeling quite uncertain about my future.

Will I be smiling?

Why is the grass always greener on the other side of the ocean???

Journal Entry

And so it was over.
I'm no longer a teacher.
They've graduated.
The campus is nearly empty (there's still one class here).

I'll walk into breakfast tomorrow and I won't see the faces I normall see. I may never see their faces on Earth again.

Goodbyes never seem to do their job.
They never make parting okay.
It's never enough.

Things will never be the same.
Even if I see these students again, the relationship dynamic will have changed.

I hate change.

Thursday, June 02, 2011


I just ate 4 pieces of Cadbury chocolate and a handful of Skittles. Why? I'm nervous.

My parent and sister have arrived!!! Hooray hoorah yippee.

This signifies the end of "normal". It's irrevocable, un-doable, unrewindable. The transition stage has begun. Now everything that is the usual, the familiar, the routine, will begin to fall away in pieces. My job has changed, my interaction with students and faculty has changed, and so I must change.

I hate change.

I've just begun reading The Art of Coming Home by Craig Storti. All of my fears and apprehensions regarding coming home are corroborated in this book. I suppose I'm glad to know them ahead of time.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday Morning

30 seconds 'til worship, ladies!

I stirred a little. Morning already?
The last regular morning dorm worship.

The low, soothing sound of singing wafted from the dorm chapel, mingling with the songs of birds.
In moments like these, I sing out a song... singing I love You, Lord...
A rogue soprano broke off from the melody and sang a part 1/3 above the rest.
Jesus loves me, this I know...

The next time I'll hear something so wonderful is in heaven.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Drop in the Bucket

I'm preparing to move halfway around the world.

It's big (gargantuan, monstrous) changes like this that make me take one step back and look at life as it is. To look at more than the day to day, more than the petty worries of today, and shift my focus to the wide-eyed uncertainty of the future.

I don't like thinking about life. It scares me.
It's easier to remain blissfully ignorant, to be caught up in the present.

Now, though, I'm forced to consider myself in the grand scheme of things, in a circle much broader than the one I'm comfortable with, to think of myself in an eternal capacity. I cannot comprehend it, so it scares me. A lot.
I am a small grain of sand in a huge sand dune. As much as I like to think that I'm important (Water!), I'm quite insignificant (a drop in the bucket).


Hello, introspection.

El Ultimo Dia

It's the last night. The last night of school year 2010-2011, Maxwell Adventist Academy. Tomorrow, students will take their last battery of final exams, and a few will finish packing their things (you should see the dorm now; Olympic hurdlers struggle to get through the hallways) and leave campus for the last time as freshmen. Sophomores and juniors will dream of going home, but are stuck here for IGCSE testing throughout the month of June. Seniors will scream and dance in the hallways for the last time. There will be hugs and laughter and joyful singing. I, however, have got so many conflicting feelings popcorning in my skull that I could sell blamo-sized buckets and offer refills, and still have some left over.

I love these kids.

I've spent more time signing yearbooks this week than eating (THAT'S noteworthy, let me tell you). I told myself I wouldn't read any of the notes in my yearbook until after grad, but I cracked today and read one... then two... then all of them. I feel special. Very special. Many, upon a trip to the Dark Continent, say they've left a piece of their heart in Africa. I've left a piece of my heart with each student. From random hi-fives and hugs ("embrace me!") in the cafeteria to rolling their eyes at me after another random moment in the dorm lobby, these kids more than tolerate me; they make me feel welcome. They make me feel at home.
That's why it's so hard to leave.

A recurring note I've written in countless yearbooks? "I'll see you when we get There...".
I pray I will. Every one.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I'm perturbed. I'm a bit angry, too. Arrrrrgh.
Cultural differences really do get my goat.

A simple misunderstanding left my SM friend upset, and she told me so.
That made me upset.

I'm ready to be around people who understand me...

but will I encounter more of the same miscommunications at home?
Am I glorifying home as a paradise it is not?
Am I hoping for Happily Ever After (Wisconsin ed.), when I know it can't be real, I know it's too good to be true?

Yeah. I am.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Organizing the Clutter

None of this has happened to me before. I don't know how to catalog all of these feelings and emotions and experiences and memories. I have to make new folders and labels; I have to reorganize, to go through everything again and re-sort.

I don't particularly enjoy reorganizing.

No one's left yet and I already miss them.


Checked Baggage

If only I could pack Kenya into a suitcase! Students, scenery, animals, weather, friends, memories; take them all with me. As it stands now, I don't want to leave. I know I'll miss it terribly. Today was a wonderful day, full of reminders of how special these students are to me, and how special they make me feel.

One quote from an expatriate-returned-home Japanese businessman: "My advice about going home? Don't."


That's how I'm feeling. A fellow returning SM said it too: "I'm not ready to return to the old routine."

It's going to be awkward. It's going to be weird.
It's going to be worth it?

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I feel as though I'm poised at the edge of yet another precipice - perhaps even the same one. This time, however, I' not at the top, looking over the edge toward the unknown - I'm standing at the bottom, looking at the summit that seems beyond grasp. This time, instead of facing my fears and trusting the Rope for my rappel, instead of leaping over the cliff, I'm facing a climb. I've seen this cliff face before, but not from this angle. This time, I'm going up. Less unknown (fewer fears?), but more effort. It's going to be a climb. I'm going to sweat. I might get a little bruised. But the view from the top will be worth it.

Journal Entry

I still long to belong.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Journal Entry

When I joined Improv, one of the very first things Bryan told us was that we have to be willing to let go of a story. Once it's told, it's history. Forgotten. Over. The end. Move on. You can't live in a story in the past; you have to live in the present, create new stories.

Music is like that.

The performance is over. It doesn't matter how much practice you put in, or how often you replay the episode in your mind; the performance was what it was, and it's over. Move on.

It's strange how hard it is for me to pull all the music out of my folder. Hours of work, weeks of practice, all for one hour of performance.

Am I putting in the practice now for the Big Performance just around the corner?

Journal Entry

I'm addicted to being liked.
I'm addicted to success, to doing everything I can to achieve it.
I'm addicted to recognition of the work I put in in the name of success.

I'm driven to succeed, perhaps to a fault. When I fall short of my expectations (often much higher than anyone else's), I'm devastated. Crushed. I can't move on. The mistakes and flaws haunte me, replaying over and over in my mind like an unwanted 8-track.

I still struggle with failure.
Being an SM doesn't change that.
But it made me a little more aware of the struggle I have with it.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I never really got to do anything in/for National Honor Society. Just a title and a medal. That's why I was so excited when the principal asked me to help with pinning at the NHS induction tonight. She gave the boys' pins to Erik, and handed me the cards/pins for two of my favorite juniors.

I'm so so so proud.

(Good job Inah, Dorinda, Valentine, Bliss, Dale, and Ricky)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Spring Concert 2011

Spring Concert. May 21, 2011.
Boy oh boy was there a lot of practice leading up to it. Shew.

We'd used our super-secret super-spy methods the week leading up to the concert to get a huge card and a bouquet of flowers to surprise the music director after the final song. I'd talked to Brianna and Ricky and asked them to present the gifts. Wha-bam! Surprise! I was feeling pretty sly.

In the hour before the concert, I went to the music building to do some final practicing for the accompaniments I had for the evening. However, this is practicing for a spring concert in KENYA; it can't be normal.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


It's been a
very eventful,
VERY good

And it's not over.

Thank you, Jesus. :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Life in Books #2

I wish to see home friends, and I tell myself I will, but it seems distant and unreal. Hmm. It's almost as if I've left the former life behind and traded it for a new one. Somehow, I think I have. That makes me scared. I'll never return to "normal" again.


We receive email copies of the Ad Committee minutes each Monday evening. I just read today's copy...
Lonnie has been approved as an academic tutor.
Ashley has been approved as a girls' dean.
Lauren has been approved as an academic tutor.
Drew has been approved as a computer lab assistant.

I remember when I learned I was approved. Such joy. Such relief. Such a huge pile of questions.

It's hard to swallow the thought that I'm being replaced. Nothing else has made me feel more like a title, rather than an individual. I'm replaceable, like something worn out or well-used.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Goat and the Goose

Ms. Jessica: Tell us a story, Brian.
Inah: Ooh, yes.
Brian: A true story?
J: Sure. Either or.
B: About what?
J: Um, a goat. Yes. A goat. A goat and its friend.
B: Ahem. Once upon a time, there was a goat.
J: Oooh! Wonderful.
B: The goat had a friend... a goose.
J: What happened next?
B: Well, the goose wasn't very nice. The goose always stole the goat's pen.
I: Brian! YOU steal MY pen!
B: This story is about a goat and a goose, not you! Anyway, so the goose also wrote her name on the desks in the History classroom...
I: That's not true! YOU write MY name!
B: Goose and goat! Not Brian and Inah. Back to the goat...
I: Fine! The goat was really mean and always accused the goose of doing things she never did. The end.

There once was a teacher who made friends with a goat and a goose.

Update #33: 3 weeks, Thric3 updated

Me oh my has it been a while! I'm struggling to sort out all the things that have happened in the past epoch.

...A lot.

The end.

Have a nice summer.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


I miss the ones who know what I want/need them to say before I know I need to hear it. The ones who envelop me in a bear hug. The ones give me a shoulder to lay my head on. The ones who not only laugh at me, but leave me ROFLing. The ones who make me burstingly happy.
I need to pour my heart out to someone who knows when to shut me up... but one-hour chats once weekly aren't the time for that. I need to knock on your door and sit on your bed and, well, just sit. Just be near you. Just be.

That said, I'm doing fine. I'd just go from fine to super-duper if you were here to share life with me.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Termite Tantrum

The light! The light!
Fly toward the light!
Apparently, rainfall in East Africa gives termites the impetus to sprout four wings and fly.
No joke.

And a long, steady thunderstorm - such as the one we experienced yesterday afternoon/evening/night - increases the strength of this stimulus.

In short, it's a miracle I'm alive and sitting at my desk, rather than carried off to the termite lair and sacrificed to their mound-making whims.

I approximated the number of the winged creatures
to one bajillion, eight thousand ninety six.

I look about as maniacal as the flying beasts above me.
(And you can see up my nostrils. Disturbing.)

Sunday, May 01, 2011

May 1, 2011

My best friends
My classmates
My peers

graduated today.

I wasn't there.

I feel a little like a lame friend
I feel a lot lonesome

But I'll get over it.
Look! Another story about seeds! This relates to a post from November...

Sunflower sproutage!
Early this year, my friend Anna gave me a tiny terra cotta pot with sunflower seeds to plant. I brought it to Africa to remind myself that I had to die to self as a seed in order to grow. I had the bean from Pastor Dwight, but wanted to test my little pot before putting the big seed in; don't want to be rushing into anything, you know. Got to make sure risks are safe before taking them, right? By the by, my little sunflower seeds sprouted. Safe to go.
I planted the bean. Fail. Epic fail. Well, I guess this object lesson is a fake. Oh well.

"Hey Jess, you should check out your plant."
"That sprout you planted a couple months ago."
"The little sunflower seedling?"
"Sure. I dunno."

I'd figured I shouldn't throw the sunflower sprouts away, so I just plopped them outside our apartment door. Lo and behold, a plant! I hadn't even noticed it; I'm surprised the gardener didn't pull it up! I just planted it and let nature do its work...

I planned on being a bean sprout. I planned to grow green and tall, offering people the food they need; a hardworking plant. Flowers don't go out and feed people. They just look pretty.
I planned on being an evangelist. I planned to preach and teach and offer the food Kenyans need. But they already have enough beans.

I'm not sought out for food. My job is to be attractive. Unless someone has realized they're hungry, they're probably not looking for beans anyway. I get to be the one who catches the attention of passersby...ooh, pretty! Upon closer inspection, some scrumdillyicious seeds are ready for eating. But it's not my job to pass out those seeds.

Journal Entry

I keep wanting to say, "I was supposed to graduate with them!"

But obviously I wasn't "supposed" to.
I wanted to.

I'm suffering from an identity crisis. I crave stability. I miss my box.

Journal Entry

I worry about going home. I fear that I'll experience the same "honeymoon stage" I've had here.... "Cheerios! WalMart! Dryers!" Then it will be mundane. It will be boring. It will be hard. I will be lonesome. I will have to go through all of this again. Life will never again be "normal". I'll simply have gained mmore friends to miss, more places to miss, more things to miss.

I fear that this is my "life in Africa", and that is my "normal life", and the two are totally separate and sitinct; neither affects the other. In a way, it seems as though this year will disappear when I get home. I almost fear going home, just for that reason. I love my students. The thought of being an ocean aawy from them makes me unbearably sad. I will always miss the others side of the ocean.
I fear I will lose who I am once again.

Until You come, Lord.
Come quickly. Please.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Meeting in Kenya

"It's a cultural difference: event-based society v. time-based society." -R. Doss

On Tuesday, April 26, I discovered this disparity.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


3:18p. Sophomore Lab Group A is coming to the 3:20 lab...
Ahh, I think. The cooperative group.
(We all know it's true; some students are easier to deal with)

After attendance is taken, prayer is prayed, the pre-lab is given, and we've headed to the lab room, Charmaine - star student of Filipino fame - still isn't present. Hmm... ill? I hope not.

I give the girls' dorm a call.

Charmaine comes to the phone, as chipper as ever.

Soli Deo Gloria

Soli Deo Gloria.

Three words meaning, "Glory to God alone".

J.S. Bach – a man fully devoted to serve God through music – inscribed the initials SDG at the end of each of his cantata scores, a reminder to himself and to those who perform his pieces to direct glory where it is due.

My Tribute.

Two words that make me grimace.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Update #32: Weekends of World Domination

Oh, blessed long weekend! 20 students, 10 faculty, and 4 days of chill time bliss. Students made a mass exodus for the MAA gate on Friday afternoon, some of them trapped on the MAA bus headed to Nakumatt for a town trip. I was trapped on this bus, front seat.

Across the aisle, in rows 1 and 2, were the Twins. Each had their  respective attaché of one, and both were talking at one hundred miles an hour while their seatmates smiled and nodded. I simply watched in amusement. An hour later, the four of us met up in Nairobi Java House  for a girls' date; I smiled. This weekend is going to be GREAT.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Journal Entry

A shower after 5 days of camping. Cleaning the windows after 2 months of dirt. Polishing an old piece of furniture.

Cleaning something very dirty is a spectacular feeling. The change is drastic! Amazing, really. often do I allow myself to get really dirty before cleaning up, so I can have that feeling? Is it really worth it?

Journal Entry

We often struggle to know who we are. I once knew who I was... an academic at the top of her class, a music-lover and performaer, a hard worker, an Adventist, a basketballer...
then I graduated highschool.

My self-image was totally debunked. I did not know who Jessica Stotz was. When I lost "what" I was, I didn't know how to find "who".

The same thing happens in SMing. You leave behind your friends, classes, home, work, family, become the new SM. NO one knows anything about you. You've left your nich, and - most likely - much of it will be filled by the time you return home.

People here don't know your weaknesses. But they also don't know your strengths. For someone who craves recognition, this was something very difficult to deal with.

I think I've come closer to knowing who I am in the last few years. However, that means I know swhich types of people are my friends. Now, you cannot be my close friend if you don't fit the criteria. No matter how super people here are, I can't help but think how super duper my hoome friends are. I worry, though, that  my fantasizing about home puts them in an even grander light. Am I robbing myself of close friends here, or are we just not compatible? Am I wrong?
Who am I?

Journal Entry

I often forget how beautiful it is here...
I took PJ for a walk at 8:30 this morning. I was wearing jeans and a hoodie with the sleeves up, and was completely comfortable. The clouds just covered the peaks of the Ngongs, and it was clear enough to see them without haze. The sun was just changing the plain from orange to yellow, and the acacias from silhouettes to silent sentries over the grazing Thommies. A light breeze, birds singing; beautiful.

Popular, but without friends.

More than anything else, I just want to hang out with friends - without a computer in between.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"I should have..."

I hate "I should have..."
I hate regret.
I hate making mistakes.
I hate ignoring that gut feeling, realizing afterward that I shouldn't have.
What I hate most? When others are affected by my mistakes.

I hate "I should have..."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

An Apple a Day...

I've tutored a lot of subjects I'd never expected I'd teach before, but this was a first...

Cassie: I've never really learned how to eat an apple properly before.
Jess: [blank stare]
C: You know; biting it and eating the whole thing...
J: You don't know how to eat an apple???
C: No! I know how, it's just it's always been cut up before I eat it, ever since I was little. Then I had braces, so...
J: You've never eaten an apple whole before.
C: Yes I have! Just, it's, well, I'm not good at it.
J: Whoa. I, well, I never thought I'd see the day.
C: Whatever. I just can't take big bites like you.
J: I still don't understand. [crunch] Wait; I see your problem. You're trying to bite through the whole apple.
C: Well how else am I supposed to get the apple into my mouth?
J: Ok. Here is your apple-munching lesson. I've been in love with apples my whole life; you're lucky I'm here to teach you.
C: Ha! Ok.
J: First of all, don't bite through the apple; you have to twist the apple once you've sunk your teeth into it.
C: Huh?
J: Take a half-bite, then twist and pull! Arm action is very important to eating an apple.
C: [twists apple side to side, without success]
J: No no no! Twist and pull! Pull away! Watch... [exhibits expertise and finesse while chomping off a large bite]
C: Ahhhhh. [crunch]
J: Success! Great job.
C: I know how to eat an apple!! ...Hey kids, guess what I learned in Africa?
J: Haha!

C: how do I know when I've finished eating this? I don't want to eat the core.

(...oh boy.)

Good Days, Bad Days

I have good days.

I have bad days.

I am a phlegmatic sanguine.

My two greatest desires are for world peace (phlegmatic) and world happiness (sanguine). I will do what I can to make sure you are peaceful and happy.

These "things I can do" include my updates. I want to be the bubbly, cheerful, happy person who cheers you up. I don't want to be the debbie downer, the naysayer. So I try to infuse some happy serum into each of my emails.
Sometimes that's a lie.

The Art of Busyness

To survive/thrive in today's world, you must master the art of busyness. You must look busy all the time, every day, or you will be confronted with comments such as,
"I wish it were my weekend off."
"I'm glad you have a night off! That's nice for you... Off to work I go!"

I hate looking busy. I feel like such a fake, a liar.

Update #31: Fruit Flies & Friends

Totally blown away.
We serve an awesome God.

...Hold on. Rewind.

I'm finished.
These guys can't take anything seriously.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Hello, world.

I've realized that I generally blog when I'm experiencing strong feelings: anger, excitement, frustration, awesomeness.
Time for change.

I'm feeling... uh, well... hmm. Nothing, really. Not super happy, not sad, not upset, not overly exhausted; simply content. I'm eating Ola chips. I have 15 minutes before my next appointment - a music practice with piano, organ, violins, and chimes - and don't know what to do with myself. My iTunes is on shuffle, jumping between Jeremy Camp, Michael Bublé, and Bobby McFerrin. The cat just opened the door to my closet and crawled inside. Musa is mowing the lawn, and it smells good. I pause between each sentence to grab a chip, pop it in my mouth, and wipe my hand on my pants so I don't dirty my white MacBook keyboard (which is virtually impossible to keep clean, btw, especially in dusty Kenya). *crunch crunch crunch mmmmmmm*. It's Thursday.

Don't worry; be happy! When you worry your face will frown, and that will bring everybody down; so don't worry, be happy!
I'm grooving out in my desk chair; I consider my head-bobbing a cross between an ostrich and a peacock.

Cheese Crunch Olas aren't as good as Mexican Crunch Olas.... ooooh! Coldplay. Good song.

I generally try to say something worthwhile or thought-provoking or important in these blogs, but today, I don't feel like being important or worthwhile. I just feel content.

Ahhh! Chip down! it. *crunch*

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Journal Entry

I'm wilting.
I'm crumbling.
I'm falling.
I'm struggling.

...and no one seems to notice.

This afternoon; my time off. By the time we rounded up, got to town, finished shopping, and got back, it was 4p. I was needed/asked to record stats for the game at 5:30p. I tried to nap, but was interrupted by 1) a text with a request, 2) a text with a question, 3) a phone call with a request, 4) a phone call with a new responsibility.
I gave up on napping.
I stressed about my song service responsibility earned at 5p and due at 7. I thought I was scheduled to cover the library.
So much for a day off.

This sucks.

I want someone to be proud of me. I'm doing my best. I'm trying so hard. But all I hear is how hard his job is or how busy and stressed she is; am I at fault as well? Yes. Shame one me.
Fix me.
I got to the end of the day exhausted, but I feel I haven't accomplished anything. No piano practice, no idea what lab we'll do tomorrow, didn't finish grading.
I'm accustomed to receiving reward for my efforts; an A, a paycheck, a smile or chuckly... why must I be rewarded to feel as though I've succeeded?

Yes I'm tired.
Yes I'm homesick.
Yes I'm crying.
Yes I want to go home.
Yes I'm tired of pretending, tired of acting.
Yes I'm tired of being the "responsible" one.
Yes I want to stop.
Yes I want a friend.
Yes I want to quit.
NO I won't quit.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


There are a select number of people that give you that ache...the desire to know them, to be their friend, to spend time with them. A twitterpated sort of feeling, except it's not reserved for romance. You know the people. You don't have to think about who they are; they're already in mind. You see them in passing and your heart is lifted and your face follows suit. They brighten your day, every day. You see them succeed, and you're ready to shout it from the rooftops. Time together is never long enough; instead of making goodbye more palatable, time together makes you more unwilling to part. That ache grips your heart and you don't know what to do with it except find some way, any way, across deserts or oceans or pits of flaming lava, simply to be with them. There's no other cure, no other solution.

I can't imagine the ache that grips His heart... I am that ache. I am that important. Neither deserts nor oceans, death nor life, angels nor demons, height nor depth, present nor future, nor pits of flaming lava will be able to separate me from His love.

...Can I have a "Mmhmmmm!"?

Skype Delay

Hello? Helloooooooo... Are you there? Mom?
Mom! Hey!
Jess? Jess, you there?
Mom, I'm here. Hello?
Hello? Jess! What took you so long to answer?

Hello, Skype delay; the all too familiar, all too common, altogether disliked friend of student missionaries everywhere.

Stewey the Spoon

Just another day on supervision:
A note of appreciation from Stewey the saved

B: Ms. Jessica, could you open the cafe for us?
J: Sure! I'll walk with you... Look what I found! A spoon. In that bush. An orphaned spoon.
I: *gasp*
B: Does it have a name?
J: Uh, yes. Stewey. I just made it up.
I: Ah, Stewey. Stewey the spoon.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Update #30: Wedded Bliss & Obsequious Pupils

I did my laundry on Sunday.
"This is way too much laundry," I thought. "I should do it more often so I don't have as much to do."

My laundry reminded me of email updates. Wonder why?

Friday, April 08, 2011

Double Digits

"The devil is hard in my face again
The world is a hundred to one again..."

-Sufjan Stevens

I played basketball in high school. I was a starter my junior year, and a team co-captain my senior year.

We weren't very good.

Actually, we were pretty bad.
We lost games by 50+ points on numerous occasions.

But that's when it got fun.

How far?

"Home is just a phone call away."


Home is 8000 miles away.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Just Plain Ugly

“It is hard to be charming when you smell like a wildebeest.” –L. Liwag

African folklore tells that the wildebeest was the last animal to be created, and was made up of the leftover parts of several other animals.

I’d almost believe it.

A long face, humpback, scraggly back hair, and unkempt beard make the gnu a creature “only its mother could love”. A group of the things is even referred to as an implausibility. Implausible, perhaps, that enough of these unsightly beasts could endure to look at one another long enough to graze in the same plain? Wildebeest are not attractive.

How, then, have I fallen in love with the animal?

The gnus’ playful skip as they race my safari vehicle always makes me giggle. They’re unafraid to look you straight in the face. They stick together when the going gets rough; ever heard of the great wildebeest migration? Though far from cuddly, wildebeest are lovable.

Speaking of ugly animales…

Yes, and...

I am an improviser. 

I love improv. I love telling stories on stage - interacting with individuals both on stage and in the audience to weave a story never seen nor heard before. Talk about an adrenaline rush! And laughter is the best medicine...

A foundational principle of improv is one of acceptance and giving: "Yes, and...". Improvisers aim to accept an offer, or an idea, with "Yes". Then, they expand or advance that idea with their own; "and...".

Saturday, March 26, 2011


This is not an insect.
This is evil hidden under a gleaming black exoskeleton.

Hannibal can smell fear. It can also smell blue.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

T-Minus 10 Weeks Thoughts

I'm tired of complaining and getting positive feedback.What a Debbie Downer! Not.

I'm tired of venting my frustrations and being met with,
"It'll be fine."
"It's no big deal."
"Worse has happened."
or, worst yet,
"Well, look at the bad things happening in my life..."

I don't need that.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

To "Student"

I'm tired.

I'm tired of chasing, hounding, and pestering you to do your work.
I'm tired of playing the "Where are my boundaries?" game.
I'm tired of putting you first.

Monday, March 21, 2011

It reminded me...

I saw the moon tonight
As you will see it
When your night comes.

It was slightly squished on one side
You will see the squish, too, but
It might be on a different side since
You're standing upside down.

It reminded me . . .

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Journal Entry

R-E-S-P-E-C-T tell you what it means to me...
  • Doing things because you should, especially when you don't want to.
  • ATTITUDE (+)
  • Selflessness.
  • Honoring the ideas of others.
  • Putting faith in another.
  • Responsibility.
  • A necessary component of Jessica's self-esteem.

I miss having friends that I choose.

Journal Entry

If I can't face my giants, identify them, and stop ignoring them, how can I expect to be able to help students face their giants?
If I can't trust myself enough to open up my own place of hurt, of failure, of fear, how will students trust me to help them access their hurt place?
If I can't address or stop ignoring my problems, how can I encourage students to face theirs?

Perhaps this is the root of hypocrisy. I can't offer to serve until I've come to terms with my issues No; I don't have to fix or rectify them, but I do have to admit they're there. I have too many hairy, smelly beats/giants lurking in my closet and under my bed.
Call in the Ghostbuster. As soon as I face my monsters, He'll make 'em run.

I wouldn't blame the students if they didn't open up to me about their struggles; I wouldn't either. I don't. I don't even let myself admit I'm struggling. It's all fine; I've got it under control; no sin's got me. I mean, I know ALL have sinned, and I keep sinning too, but it's nothing compared to the rest of humanity.
You're one big mess, Jessica Mae. You NEED help. Tracy was more right than she knew.

I want to be needed. I want to be important.
I fear failure. I fear disappointing expectations.

They need Him. He's important.
I only fail without Him. All He expects of me is to let Him handle everything while I sit back and watch.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Update #28: La montaña!

Hiking through the Vertical Bog
The time has come!!

Mt. Kenya update: Adventure, out there!

(Warning: This is a tad long. Sorry. It was a pretty crazy adventure.
SHORT VERSION: Mt. Kenya. Jessica. Jessica with tired feet, legs, arms, knees, fingers, nose, etc. Jessica at peak. Jessica with chest pain. Jessica conquers life. The end.)

Monday Positives...

Inah: "Can I just stay for a bit?" after she finished her lab.
Chillin with Inah in the cafeteria
She comes to stand by me while I grade, watching the photo screensaver on my MacBook, making short comments sporadically. She turns to draw on the chalkboard.

"Is this red or pink?" she asks as she draws a curlicue.
"Good question. Magenta?"
"Hmmm. Yeah."

Moments pass. I finish grading a few more papers.

"Jessica M. Stotz...what does the M stand for?"
I tell her. I glance at the board. My name is printed in all caps in purple and red/pink/magenta. I smile.
Four more papers graded...I look at the board again. Now my name is in rainbow colors, with fruits and vegetables in colors to match.
"Eggplant! That's an eggplant by my name!"
She quickly grabs the eraser. "Do you like eggplants?"
"They're fine, I guess. Most times."
"Oh. Ok. ...there's a carrot. And you like apples?"
"I LOVE apples. Seriously."
She smiles. I smile.

I like smiling.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Journal Entry

WOSE; Nadine Nelson:

"When you focus on your giants, you stumble.
When you focus on God, your giants tumble."

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Little Lucy

I've experienced a lot of "firsts" in Kenya.
Today's first had better be my last.

Babies aren't supposed to die.

Pray for the Mpiima family.
Pray for the Maxwell Academy family.
Pray for Jesus to come NOW.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Forever Powerful

I just had another how-GREAT-is-our-God-and-vastly-unfathomable-is-His-love moment (thanks to a package of love from Mom).

I think I understand why I don't have these moments all the time . . .
When I do, I am utterly overwhelmed and consumed; unable to stand; powerless; weak in the knees; dumbfounded; awestruck.
I don't think that we are humanly able to withstand the power of God except in brief, nearly infrequent glimpses.

Journal Entry

They say the first step of service is looking beyond self.

I beg to differ.

I believe self should be the central focus of a true servant.
If you don't first align self with the right, how can you show others how to do so?
If you haven't experienced firsthand what saving grace feels like, how can you explain it?
If you don't consecrate yourself first thing every day, how can you be equipped to serve others?

You can't.

Put yourself first.
Find Jesus for yourself.
Then, your only problem will be keeping Him in, rather than looking for His presence.
Jesus' love, a-bubblin' over.
Fill yourself first.
Empty buckets can't be filled from a dry cistern.

Journal Entry

You are so absolutely amazing
the world is so absolutely not.

The more I pursue You and become like You,
the more I hate this life.
I'd rather hate it with You than love it without You.

Sometimes I find myself
wishing You'd postpone Your coming
so I can complete my checklist
or because I fear the end...

come quickly.

change me.


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Xander's Paper Lanterns

The world through the mind of a six-year-old . . .

Xander: Ms. Jessica, you wanna learn how to make a lantern?
Ms. Jessica: Sure.
X: Ok. Here's your sheet of paper. But you need SCISSORS...
J: Erm. I don't have any.
X: Ok. I can always get one from *there* (points to and tromps toward library office). Here. Now fold it in half...
One of THE paper lanterns
J: Lengthwise?
X: No, hot dog.
J: Oh.
X: Then unfold it and fold it in half; burger.
J: So burger is the opposite fold of hot dog.
X: Ummmmm, no; hot dog is in half this way and burger is in half this way.
J: Yes. Of course. I knew that.
X: Ok, now you cut it in strips like this, but not to the edge.
J: Could I tear it instead?
X: Well, it would be best not to....
J: Oh. Ok. I'll wait for the scissors.
X: Now you open it up and make a circle, then (grunt) staple (tongue out) it *WHAM!* Boy, this doesn't really want to staple...*WHAM. WHAM WHAM!*
Then you stand it up on end...see? It's like a lantern!
J: Yeah! And you could put a light inside to make it like a real lantern!
X: No, you shouldn't. It would probably catch on fire.
J: You're right. I'll just look at it.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Monday from...not Heaven

I woke up with a chip on my shoulder and my hands in fists. I was dizzy and exhausted. The world was reeling. I put on a brave face and tromped into staff worship. Looking at my bespectacled, puffy eyes and dripping hair, the few staff on time for the meeting joked, "Well, hello, look like a cat who didn't want a bath!" So much for my brave face. My head still spun; I couldn't put my finger on the reason why.

Maya & the Unicorn

Patience & Maya
An interaction in Physics lab with the juniors...

Maya: It's my birthday!
Ms. Jessica: Nuh-uh...don't believe it.
M: How did you not know? I mean, how did you know? I
J: I can sense it. Just like I can sense when there are unicorns nearby.
*laughter from Maya, Dorinda, Inah*
Ms. Jessica? You're SO weird.
J: Just so you know - sad day - there are no unicorns nearby.
M: *gasp* *turns toward empty wall* It's ok, Ernie. She didn't know.
J: Just for the record, I'm not the one talking to invisible creatures.

Monday Morning Thoughts...

I tend to take criticism personally.
Not good.

I should take criticism as a challenge, an opportunity to grow, a chance to make change for the better.

It's not fun. It's not pretty. It's quite messy, really. And it generally makes me uncomfortable.
I pretty much despise growth.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Jessica's Self-Imposed Rules of Teaching

In no particular order...
  1. LIVE Jesus. Include Him in your lesson plans, your lectures, your presentations. Meditate on Him during class. It's very attractive. (Students notice...I noticed.)
  2. ATTITUDE. Your students reflect yours.
  3. RESPECT. You have to earn it. Best method of action? Give it (but don't give in).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Glass Half-Replete

Debbie Downer.
Gloomy Gus.


And that's how the teams appear; lopsided and unfair. The good, the bad, and the ugly has morphed to The ugly, the uglier, and the downright ghastly. We've developed negative blinders. We're comfortable. We're only doing what's necessary.

We're preserving our sanity, and in the process are losing our humanity.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Journal Entry

This is the stage in the SM experience where everyone bothers you, and the things that send you over the edge will be laughingly small a few months from now. You'd rather hibernate/hermitize than spend time with those too loud, too soft, too opinionated, too wishy washy people.
Judgmental much? Life is pretty good, but it's just real life now. Going through motions, pretending to enjoy others' company, when all you want is someone who thinks and behaves like you do.

I'm not sure if a drastically different culture would be better or worse now...

Text convo with Mom:

Me: "Love you lots!"
Her: "Love you more."

...that's a lot said in six words; a whole lot more in the last three.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Update #26: Old Toys

There's been an invasion.

An outsider has infiltrated the Jessica+MAA ranks, and is so widespread, there's no removing it. This outsider once was welcome, even a close ally. But now, it comes unbidden, a malignant, metastasizing adulterant.

Hunker down for the invasion of normalcy.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The End of the Story

Have you ever been watching a movie and gotten to an especially tense part where the protagonist is at the end of his/her rope, standing on the edge of an unbelievably high cliff at gunpoint with venomous adders slithering about? Then you realize, It's only 53 minutes into the movie! They can't die yet!

But still, you're nervous.

You're on edge.
You're holding your breath.

You know the end of the story (the adders discover the piece of cheddar in the gun-wielder's pocket, giving the hero just enough time to grasp the skids of the helicopter swooping by, flying to safety). You know that the hero rides/walks/drives into the sunset with his/her one true love; you just don't know what color the sunset will be or the make of the car.

And yet, you fear.

You know there's a happily ever after, yet you get caught up in the moment of distress, and it's all you feel.

Behold, I come quickly, that you may be where I am. There will be no more sorrow nor death.
Joy. Everlasting, eternal, unfathomable joy.

We know the end of the story. So why are we caught up, engrossed, in our troubles?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Journal Entry

Life might be easier if I didn't like my friends and family so much, if I wanted to get away from them.

I didn't become an SM to escape the old.
I didn't become an SM to find adventure.
I didn't become an SM because I love a new scene (because I don't; it stresses me out).

Hmm. I must be crazy.
That's fitting.
I'm crazy for You.

Journal Entry

I am so very blessed.
I have not one, not two, but many wonderful friends.
I have a couple close friends whom I love and am loved by.
I have th coolest family makeup ever.
My schooling is more or less free.
There's a pretty amazing person that loves Jesus and seems to like me too.
I have  ahuge network of people across the world who are willing to and desire to help me out, to make my life better.
I have a bright future, without major struggles.
My volunteer job is a fit for me.
God's gifted me with more creativity than I thought I had.
20 years from now, I may very well be in heaven. Whoa. Weird. Wacky... AMAZING.

God, sustain me for the next four months. Prepare me for the ministry you've got in store. Equip me. Use me. Give me a servantile, willing attitude. Thank you.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I'm still grading the assignments from last week. *hangs head in shame* But I just came across another "How did you see God in this lab?" answer (like Inah's) that blew me away.

For those of you unfamiliar with hydrogen bonding in water, cohesion is the type of force that holds like things together, including water droplets. Surfactants, like soap, disrupt cohesion and weaken those internal bonds, allowing water to make finer droplets and make things "wetter" (this is why we add detergent to laundry, etc.).

Ricky wrote, "God intended the world to stick together, thus He shows us this in pure water, which sticks together. When surfactants (sins) are added to the world, there is less togetherness. He shows us what He wants for us through water."

Wow. Class dismissed. I can't teach you any more than you already know.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's 8:30 and we just finished a 1-hr meeting that could have been summed up in 10 minutes. My ankles are wet from a puddle and my ponytail is drooping from the rain. I'm tired. And I'm supervising a empty computer lab for the next hour, though no one will come.

If I weren't here, I could at least be in the girls' dorm tutoring my regular Physics and Algebra students. But since it's Monday, and only boys can come to the computer lab/library on Monday, I'm stuck here doing nothing. I hate that we get stuck in the "fair" and "how so" rut. It's only fair that the computer lab is open each night for an hour. There must be so many supervisors for so many students. I sat in the yearbook room doing nothing but sitting for two hours simply because the yearbook editor is a boy and the layout designer for the Junior Vespers spread is a girl. Really? Is that the best use of anyone's time?

I often feel as though our faculty is an every man for himself group. "*I* don't need to show up to that meeting." "Sorry, it's my weekend off; learn how to facilitate this activity." I realize that there is a line to be drawn between work and home, but sometimes I feel as though I shouldn't ask for favors, and that I shouldn't give them. I HATE that. I love giving favors. I love helping people. But even more than that, I love to conform. No, I don't like conforming; but I tend to do it anyway. I conform to the non-favoring, non-sacrificing trends. If people around me are giving, I am giving, too. If people around me are hoarding, I stop giving and try to figure out why it's such a taboo topic.

Ok. One boy came. But only to use the phone.

I'm tired. I'm grumpy. And I can't figure out if any of this note really holds true. I hope not.

Valentines Day in Physics Lab

Bernoulli's Principle: In a fluid, velocity is inversely proportional to pressure.

Scene: Two ping-pong balls, suspended by string at the same height, just a centimeter from each other.
Enter: The Breath.

Thoughts on Rain

It started yesterday.

Pit. Pat. Pitter-pat.

I laid on my bed, listening to it splatter onto the corrugated plexi-glass outside my window.

Pit-pit-pitter pat. Splat.

Falling in Love...


I'm not sure which sound I've made yet, but I've fallen and can't – won't – get up.

I do believe that I'm falling in love with my students.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Drop by Drop

I changed the lab format for this semester. Previously. students received a lab handout with instructions and fill in the blank result sections such as "Mass: ________g". This semester, I decided to give them practice for future lab reports. Their lab handout has a checklist of results that must be included in their report, as well as a "Reflections" section that asks questions about the results to get them thinking. I'm praying the thinking part works...

Monday's lab, examining surface tension and the role of surfactants, was my first trial of the new format.  I'm grading the papers now; so far so good. The final question in the Reflections section is: "How do you see God at work, or evidence of a Divine Creator, in this lab?"

This answer from Inah, the sweetest and most beautiful girl I might ever meet, made my day:

"The experiment was like God's blessings. The water droplets are like the blessings God gives us even though we don't always notice them. We should be thankful because when we follow Him, they overflow."

 Inah received an A+.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Update #25: SB XLV

Hmph. I dislike writing when I don't have anything especially intelligent to say. Today is one of those times. But alas, I haven't updated the masses for weeks, and things that have happened are building up and spilling over.

Monday, January 31, 2011

And So It Begins

Everyone's experienced it.
Admit it; you have too.

The nervous excitement, with just a touch of dread, upon the return of Routine and Responsibility. Things are getting back to normal...including the sound of your alarm clock in the morning.

School starts again.
The grindstone happily greets your schnoz.
The library is dusted, and backpacks are pulled out from under the bunk.
The cafeteria is re-opened (glory, hallelujah!).

I think excitement outweighs dread.

Bring it on, Tuesday.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

No Naked!

I'm no longer naked!!

You know those moments at "casual" events that really end up being formal, and you feel very underdressed?
I was about to have one of those moments.

You see, tonight is the NFC Championship; Packers v. Bears. When I was packing for Kenya, I wasn't thinking about the NFL Playoffs (foolish, I know; gotta plan ahead, right?) and didn't pack any Packers regalia save my favorite, once-green baseball cap.

A baseball cap is NOT enough for an event such as this.

What to do? Wear my teal t-shirt and yellow scarf? Hardly. So, I headed to Ongata Rongai. While my compatriots were purchasing cabbages and carrots, I was perusing the dirt floored, tin-roofed pole sheds for my prize.

There it was: The most beautiful green item of clothing I've ever seen in Kenya. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was a youth size, but nothing was to come between Jessica and her weapon of Bears demoralization. I'll even buy it if it's a onesie...I can always pin it to my shirt. She began converting typical U.S. prices into Kenyan shillings...I'll settle for no more than 2000Ksh.
"How much?"
"How about 300?"

I tried to hide my glee at buying a green and gold #4 jersey for $5.

Tell me: what team can even think of prevailing over a team that has a backer in Kenya? Non. Not a one.

There are other people who have been Packers fans longer than I have.

...But they were born earlier.

1996: My first Packer-backing memory. Young Brett Favre led the green and gold to the right to call Green Bay "Titletown USA". I had a green toothbrush with yellow bristles with that very title embossed on it in gold; an ugly thing, really, but I love(d) it. I still have collector's cards for each of the 1997 starters, and pennants and posters that once filled my "Packer corner".
So, I like the Packers.
Go Pack Go.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Journal Entry

I read some SM blogs in the Student Movement. The gravity of what I'm called to do, of what people believe I'm doing, hit me.

I am unworthy.
I haven't succeeded.
I'm not the one for the job.

But that's why this job is perfect.
His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
I'm proud to be weak (well, I should be).

When you prepare to be an SM, they tell you not to expect to change the world.
Then why try?
Because even if you're not trying, if you're not aware of your life's impact, you're making a difference. You choose what sort of difference you make by the person you are.
\So who will you model your life after? You  have two choices.

On a Train to Cairo

I sank into my seat with a huff just as the train began to roll away from the station. My ticket read seat 4, but the scarlet-tuqued woman with matching lip paint and nail polish was in no mind to give up her window seat. An empty seat across the aisle sufficed and was gratefully received after the crush getting onto car 5.
And so I was in seat 2, surrounded by plump sextenarians in seats 1, 3, and 4. The head scarves of 1 and 3 denoted their faith, but amber aviators, faux snakeskin shoes, and a studded handbag denoted spunk. 1 - my seatmate - wore a plum-colored scarf that almost matched the swirling patterns of fuchsia on her sweater. Giggles wafted across the aisle as the three conversed in fluid Arabic.

"Aah!" (the apparent equivalent for "hey" in Arabic) Something resembling a cheese sandwich was proffered across the aisle and across my lap. A half-sandwich was held toward me with a smile; I graciously declined. 1 chewed in silence and smiled; I smiled too. No need for small talk when even small words can't be understood. No discussion of God or Allah, why the first page of her book would be the last of mine, her covered hair nor mine pulled into braids. Just a knowing silence.

Michael Bublé serenaded 1 with "Sway" until she answered the call.

An adventure on a train with pals; spirit, vivacity, kindness; smiles. These women found the heart of life.
I aspire to be 1 someday.

Update #24: Pharaonic Adventures!

With Germeen @ Sphinx & Pyramids

New Year's Eve. BAM. At promptly midnight Nairobi time, I was loading up my two carry-on sized luggage items into the school van amidst the fireworks display of our neighbors (apparently New Year's Eve is the only time fireworks are legal). Cassie, Tyson and I were on our way to the airport to catch a plane to Cairo!

After a pushy flight attendant and a sleepless, dreamlike flight, we were riding in a tiny van with Germeen and her brother. No problem at all with the visas, praise God. The only problem: US$66 missing from my checked bag. Sigh. Oh well. I guess the daughter of a security personnel man is getting a nice Christmas gift.

...I'm struggling to squeeze two weeks of touring Egypt into one email. Oofta.

Egypt: Land of the Pharaohs. And lots of people. And Arabic. And men. And dust. And smoking.

Ooo, and the food; yum. Koshary, ful, aish, fateer, falafel...who knows if those are spelled correctly; they tasted amazing. Truth be told, if I had encountered koshary at a potluck or in a cafeteria line, I'd have steered clear. A conglomerate of spaghetti, macaroni, garbanzo beans, fried onions, tomato paste, and lentils (with a squirt or two of garlic lemon sauce), koshary is a frighteningly delicious
dish that I never turned down. Cassie, Tyson, and I also splurged a few times. Egypt boasts American restaurants not found in Kenya...a pizza from Pizza Hut, milkshakes &
fries from McDonalds, and minibons from CinnaBon made Egypt even more tasteful.

The people! I must tell about the people. Most men like to flirt with the foreigners, and even more of them are incessantly smoking, whether it be from a cigarette or a water pipe (strangest thing I'd ever seen). Many of them have a darkened callous of sorts in the middle of their foreheads from devoted prayers with forehead to the floor. Nearly all of the women wore a head scarf, but their clothing styles were very much the same as those in the U.S.

The only guy that received mutual flirtation
Back to the flirtatious men...I have never before felt so reduced to blonde hair and genitalia.
"Welcom to Ezhypt!"
"Hola Senoritas!"
"(something in Arabic with a wink)"
"(something in Arabic with raised eyebrows)"
"Come, come take a seat and have a drink! No drugs! No drugs."
"Smile, Baby Spice." (my personal favorite)

If my call were at Nile Union Academy instead of MAA, I believe I'd find a burka, gloves, and sunglasses to disguise my blonde-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned self.

My foot! In the Mediterranean!
In a nutshell: I loved my time in Egypt. A visit to the pyramids & sphinx, a belly-dancing light fest riverboat trip down the Nile, the temples of Luxor and Aswan, sunsets on the Nile, learning to dance the merengue from a Colombian, bowling in a non-smoking alley, the library in Alexandria, a castle, dipping my toes in the Mediterranean Sea, Roman amphitheaters and catacombs, train trips, rides on a sardine-packed metro, and microbuses. While I had a wonderful time, I'm glad to be back in Kenya, with my own dresser, English-speakers, (slightly) fewer people, and familiar surroundings. Funny how leaving home away from home makes it seem sweeter.

MAA/NUA SMerfs gearing up
for some ice skating
One of my favorite moments of the past two weeks: Chilling with the NUA crew on our last night in Cairo. The Kenyan SMs and Egyptian SMs took to the malls - ice skating, McDonalds-ing, and mechanical bull riding. It was a step back to see the big picture: volunteers from everywhere, to everywhere, with the same good-news goal in mind. At church I was greeted with "Happy Sabbath" as well as "Sab Said" (sp?).
Sunset on the Nile
I was reminded that we really are a very small piece of the puzzle, a part of a worldwide family...

Well, I digress. There were so many more adventures and experiences, but they'll have to wait until we can sit down to a cup of tea. Speaking of tea, that reminds me of another story...but that will wait, too.

Don't think I've forgotten about my request for your holiday stories! Assignment due within two days.

Lots of love! (the sisterly kind. Don't get any marriage proposals in mind...)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Journal Entry

I'm really sick of being white. I'm sick of being a girl, too. And an American, and a foreigner, and... agh. Maybe I'm just sick of being away from home. And I'm not ready for another semester at MAA.
I'm reassuring myself with the idea that second semester has to be better than first, and first wasn't terrible.
I just want to be comfortable.
I think I'm beginning to realize that "Christian" and "comfortable" are not synonyms.
That makes me uncomfortable.

In order to be a Christian, must I be comfortable with being uncomfortable?
In this world, yes.