Something bigger going on

In my early days of attempting to be an artist, whether in dance, music, or singing, I really struggled with actually labeling myself as such.

“Not I,” says I

As a child I discovered a deep love for movement, but because we couldn’t afford dance classes, I just relied on what came out of my own experience as well as intermittent workshops that would come along once or twice a year.

Once I reached college and discovered that modern dance was an open class that I could actually take for credit, I signed up right away. But my excitement quickly faded as I came across fellow students who had dance experience and incredible technique that I so clearly lacked. I continued taking the class and had the option to advance, but because the next level involved a lot of improvisation and my dance vocabulary was so limited, I chose to just repeat the first level.

Again, as a singer and musician, aside from spending my senior year of high school taking drum lessons from a great instructor Dean Kransler, I had no formal training. I just had a desire to lead worship and to do it with the aid of an instrument, so I asked God to help me learn, and He made it happen. Our public library also had a great selection of instrument instructional aids, so I frequently used those as well.

Even so, my knowledge was still basic, so it took a lot of encouragement to get me to be comfortable with playing on stage alone. When you consider yourself an intermediate player, it’s very easy to talk yourself out of putting yourself on display like that, and even if you do get the guts to do it, it’s usually accompanied with a serious case of the shakes and the Big D.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Coming to Kenya, I still carried that baggage of “Am I really a dancer?” “Can I call myself a musician?” and though I was invited to a number of churches to sing, the members of the worship teams intimidated me so much (not on purpose of course) that I typically struggled to play as freely as I could have.

It wasn’t until Ray and I found ourselves in the position of answering a call from God to teach others to use their artistic gifts to glorify Him and bring transformation to Kenyan culture that I realized I no longer had time to question the gifts God had given me. There were kids in my charge that were looking to me for instruction, and all of a sudden I became the expert.

Now I tried to throw a pity party in the beginning and asked God to find someone else to teach so I could just coordinate classes and write curriculum, but He kept persisting that He had been preparing me for this; I just needed to trust Him follow His lead. Sound familiar? Moses and I have much in common.

The hidden revealed

Surprisingly, to me… not so much to God, as I’ve been putting together lessons for classes as well as our overall curriculum, God has really been expanding my abilities and insight. Suddenly music theory is beginning to make sense, and as I grasp a concept, I’m able to package it in a way that the kids can understand, with the help of my husband who helps me tailor it to this specific culture.

Though I now am gaining the confidence to call myself an artist, I think the point of this lesson was to teach me that even before I picked up an instrument or waved my arm or sang a note, I was an artist because that’s who God designed me to be. When He created me He gave me those gifts, and no matter how little or how much time I spent developing the gift, it could never detract from who I was… who I am. The fact that I didn’t have the courage to call myself that didn’t change the fact that it was who God called me, and everything He declares is true and immutable.

Some of my favorite stories are of people who had no experience in a field God called them to, but discovered a talent or a passion that they never knew existed within. It’s those kinds of stories that ensure God gets total credit, you know? He’s the one who raised this person up for such a time, and He’ll be the one to remove the person when their time comes to an end. As long as the person chooses to simply remain a vessel the Lord can use, the possibilities are really limitless.

Ministry Update

Before I close, I want to share a quick update on our ministry. For those of you that don’t know, we’re working with a ministry called Mattaw Children’s Village here in Kitale. They have about 100 kids that they rescue and bring into a family setting to release them from the title of “orphan”. We work with 30 of their kids training them in music, vocal, dance, and drama.

Our aim is to equip them with artistic skills and mentor them as believers so that they can use their talents in evangelism and worship/prayer settings. Art is a huge component of any culture, and we believe that young people can use this particular sphere to influence many in this nation.

We have a fund raiser going on at the moment that we’d love your support in, whether it be through sharing, praying, or donating. Our fund raising site explains more about what exactly the fund raiser is for, but basically we’re hoping to acquire more instruments for our budding musicians as well as modest outfits for some of the girls that desire to learn contemporary dance.

It’s been crazy fun getting to know these wonderful kids and to see their growth as we walk through this process with them. We greatly appreciate all the of the support that we’ve received from you all, especially in the realm of prayer, and we look forward to sharing more with you in the future as these world changers utilize all that our partnership with you has made possible.

Much love!

Who’s the baby now?

There’s something about marriage that turns me into a big steaming puddle of helplessness.

When I was single I enjoyed doing things for myself.

Drain clogged? No problem, let me snake it.

Acquired a piece of do-it-yourself furniture? I did it myself.

My ’91 Saturn won’t start in the middle of winter? Okay, let me just take a wrench and bang on some stuff. Problem solved (sometimes that actually did work).

I didn’t have anyone else to rely on, so naturally, I did what I needed to do when I could do it. Of course there were some things that were beyond my capacity, for which I called the landlord or my dad or a girlfriend to come over and help me, but I always tried to do what I could before asking for help.

Fast forward to today …

“Baaaabe, I can’t open this water jug.” Then I proceed to never open a water jug again and claim that he knows I can’t open it (I can, I just don’t like to).

“Baaaabe, the bowl is too high. I’m too short. Can you get it for me?” Nevermind that when we first moved into our other house I bought a step specifically for that purpose. It was too far away, I guess.

On the phone while he’s in Bungoma and I’m home, “Baaaabe, the knob on the propane tank is stuck. I’m just not going to cook until you come back home, okay?”

I think a small part of my husband at one point enjoyed that Miss Independent was finally becoming a little dependent… in the beginning,  but nowadays even Ray is getting to the point where he asks, “How did you survive when you lived by yourself? I thought you were more independent than this.”

Apparently it’s some kind of phenomenon that happens with women that get used to being around their husbands 24/7. He’s always there to do stuff for you, so you become reliant on that fact… a little too reliant.

Time to make a change

Ray is one of the most accommodating people I know, sometimes to a fault. I used to claim that one reason I was so good for him was because I would jealously guard his time if I felt like people were taking advantage of him. He has such a good heart he’ll help anyone and then wonder why he’s so emotionally drained later. And now look who’s taking advantage. This is bad news bears.

So now I’m declaring independence, well a balance of dependence and independence. I know what happens when I try to be too independent (amoebiasis flashbacks, anyone?), so I’m not aiming for that, but dag. I really do need to find myself a pair of big girl pants and run my pacifier through a paper shredder, ‘cuz a Proverbs 31 woman I ain’t.

If any of you have some helpful tips/advice here, I’m all ears!

More interesting facts about Kenya – VoCaB eDiTiOn

It’s been a while since my last factoid based post, but I figured I’d go ahead and make good on my promise to continue the “interesting facts about Kenya” series. The list is pretty much endless, so as I’m able I will make more of these and focus on different areas (i.e. weddings, security, education, or any other area you’d like to know about).

This time I’m going to just focus on vocabulary:

The following words mean something other than you may think

Smart

  • Americans may think – intellectual aptitude

smart

  • Kenyans think – good looking or dressed well (it’s a compliment to either sex)

smart2

Paper bag

  • Americans may think of the brown paper bags that are made from trees

paper bag

  • Kenyans think plastic bags – yes, when they say paper bag they really mean plastic (of course it goes without saying that they don’t ask if you want paper or plastic in the grocery stores)

Inside Kenyan Supermarket Chain Nakumatt

Hotel

  • Americans may think of the place where you temporarily sleep outside of your home

best western

  • Kenyans think of a small street side restaurant where you can get local food really cheap (hotels here can also be overnight lodging, but they usually refer to small eateries)

hotel

Blow dry/flat iron

  • Americans may think blow drying is prep before straightening your hair with a flat iron.

blowdryer

  • Kenyans think blow drying is straightening and flat ironing is curling.

005223-SB1

The first time I visited a local salon (or saloon as some call it) I asked if the lady could flat iron my hair.

“We don’t have that here.”

I then had to ask a different way, “Can you straighten my hair?”

“Oh, you mean blow dry?”

“You don’t straighten after you blow dry?”

“Blow drying is straightening.”

“Oh, okay. Let’s try that then.”

Real talk, I’ve never had anyone get my kinky natural hair straighter than ladies here do. They wash your hair, take a blow dryer through it, go through it again with a tiny comb or a hot comb (which is heated by the blow dryer), then they add a little oil and go through it again. Natural people will know what I mean by this, but even though it sounds like a lot of heat, I have total curl retention afterwards. Genius.

One of these days we’ll try to record it so my natural folks can see what I’m talking about.

“That’s okay.”

  • Americans think it means “No, thanks. You don’t have to.”

thanks

  • Kenyans think it means, “Yes, please. That is fine.”

more

“Isn’t it?”

  • Americans use it when speaking in the singular (i.e. Sledding is fun, isn’t it?)
  • Kenyans use it regardless of singular or plural (i.e. We all like to sled. Isn’t it?). When they say isn’t it, they mean something to the effect of “is it not true?”

“Pick”

  • When speaking of getting something or someone, Americans follow it with a preposition masking as an adverb (i.e. I need to pick up some things from the store.).
  • Kenyans don’t follow it with anything (i.e. I need to pick my dog from the kennel.).

Of course there are tons more incongruities between American English and British/Kenyan English, but I tried to pick some of the not-so common ones that we come across on a frequent basis.

Hope you enjoyed. 🙂