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Safely landed in Tanzania

We arrived at Mt. Kilimanjaro Airport late Saturday evening after a 9-hour flight from Amsterdam.  We were met by Evans Munanga, our outfitter and friend, and taken to the Mt. Meru Hotel where we will be staying until Wednesday.  After a late dinner everyone got a good night’s sleep (with the help of Ambien) and everyone is well with the exception of one of our group who is suffering from stomach distress.  We’ve put her on some medication and are hopeful she will be better this afternoon.

We will have lunch with Dr. Lazaro Mongoi and plan our next few days of teaching.  Later today we will do some sightseeing around Arusha and shopping, then meet with Dr. Moses Pulei and Archbishop Valentine Mokiwa.

Our real work starts tomorrow and we are looking forward to returning to see the children we met last year.

Blessings to all of you from Africa!

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more pics..

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A great day in Kimana, Kenya..

{just pretend was posted 2 weeks ago today}

Good Morning!

I got up to watch the sunrise and it was truly one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen..

Mt. Kilimanjaro peeking through the clouds..

Good Morning

Mt Kilimanjaro [just 30 minutes later]

breakfast w/ a bug [you can’t see it, but it’s in the middle of the picture & looks just like a crumb]

Typical morning drive to Oloile

You can just park wherever..

This sign brought much relief since we didn’t have as much time to study my Swahili book as we had hoped..

classroom @ OloileOne of the Classrooms @ Oloile Secondary School

Mid-Morning Chai

[ the building in the corner on the left is the dining hall they are hoping to finish soon, for now the students sit outside on tree stumps, or lay in the grass during their breaks.]

They always offered us their best bowl, or cup & a place to sit..

they LOVED to sing & we loved to listen

my form 4 girlsForm 4 small group – love those smiles

beautiful necklacesA blessing

The girls with their beautiful necklaces made by SJD’s very own Barbara Biel & past fellow Kimmie Webster – they LOVED them!

i am a C..I am a C… I am a C-H.. I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N…

Hope

sambo & al after the first dayTired?

abundance?

We were well taken care of..

Some of the Kimana’s Primary school student’s walking home

Children chasing our van..

Even the Zebra wondered what was going on..

About 5 minutes later….

I had NO idea the man in red would soon be Stephanie’s  Masai husband #1 when I took this pic.

Doug & Moses arranged the details, and before we knew it Stephanie was off..

She was very impressed with his cattle.. So she decided to give it  a chance.

The happy couple

Moses & Doug’s arranged marriage #2

A little on down the road, I believe Al had to use the choo – SO.. we decided to go to a lodge where we ran into an old Masai friend..

Here, Stephanie learned a key lesson on waiting for the right one..

Off they go..

Mt Kilimanjaro peeking out to celebrate the happy couple!

While we were very impressed with the Masai #1’s cattle –

Masai#2 had…..

mid-afternoon conversation

everywhere..

things got a little tense We began to sense a little tension, and decided it was time to leave.

So off we drove, into the beautiful sunset..

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An after glance.. {part 1}

As you all know, we are home…

I am still at a loss of words about all of this, and I think I will be for awhile.

It’s weird to come back to life, and the “norm”. My heart is still in Africa. I lived years in those 12 days – what I experienced was holy. God made it very clear that He wasn’t messing around, this was a trip of a lifetime. Even if I go back, to experience this for the first time is something I can’t quite describe. It’s almost as if God took me on a tour of His home, that probably sounds whack, but it really was very clear that He was allowing me to experience something not to be taken lightly. Teaching me about a culture He loves so dearly, introducing me His beautiful children, and giving me glimpses of their lives. showing me His land as it was meant to be, and just reminding me how incredibly microscopic I am in comparison to all of it.

I mean, I – EMILY HODGES – just went to Africa for 12 days and experienced more than my mind can comprehend.

Why God allowed me the privilege to experience this is something I can’t wrap my mind around. . Why I got to see and live something completely different than anything I have ever known, or understood is beyond me.  Why I got to stand up and teach to these beautiful people, earn their trust, and get a glimpse of their lives is beyond me. For me to go to Africa to teach an abstinence course shows that God can use ANYONE. It has nothing to do with me, only Him. Anything accomplished wasn’t by my own words, or hands, it was only by God’s work through me.

A year ago I would have never dreamed I would be sitting at a barnes and noble trying to collect my thoughts after experiencing this trip.  I am hoping over time I will be able to articulate all of this in a way that accurately shows what we saw, who we met, and what we experienced because of God’s grace and your support. This was in no way our trip –we were just the legs. The work done, and time spent would not have happened if it weren’t for your support. I mean, think about it –  all of us [except Meg & Doug] are in our 20’s, working non-profit jobs, and trying to figure out which way is up. Africa wouldn’t have been possible without you, and you were on our hearts and minds the entire time. The Sunday we left, we were commissioned and prayed over by the members of St Johns – the support shown by those who prayed for us was baffling. I realize I am repeating myself, but really -we are all so grateful. Thank you thank you thank you.

If anyone is actually reading this, you are probably thinking this is a totally lame recap of Africa, but I promise there will be more.  There are countless stories to be told, there are people to introduce you to, experiences to share, and pictures to show. I would love to buy you a cup of coffee and tell you all of this in person, or you can keep checking back and reading our updates.

For now, I leave you with some random observations I took away from this experience.

–       African’s love Obama – I told many that I would say “Jambo” to him on their behalf.

–       African’s don’t smile with their teeth when taking pictures because they feel it’s not as professional looking.

–       One should not ask if they name each of their chickens, hens, roosters, etc.

–       African crickets are the size of my cell phone.

–       It’s not every day you watch someone take a call on his or her cell phone in the middle of slaughtering a goat.

–       It’s also not every day you watch someone slaughter a goat.

–   David Russel is famous at the Oleiolei school

–       African women with children are often called “ Mama [name of first born child]”  Mama Naseiko, Mama Moses, Mama Eunice, are a few of the special women I met.

–       You will often hear children running behind your car yelling “my muzungo” [ I am probably misspelling this, but it means “my white person”]

– Karen Blixen really did have a farm in Africa, at the edge of the Ngong Hills.

–     There is nothing more beautiful than the sky in Africa. It’s almost as if you could touch the clouds.

–    Coke light is not diet coke, it’s coke zero.

–    I am almost certain that elephant mating season takes place in early May.

–       The where’s waldo books I had as a kid must have come from Zebras in Africa. There is always a random one mixed in a group of animals.

–    Don’t be surprised if your asked to sing Beyonce, Lady GaGa, Neo or Celine Dion while sitting under a tree in Kimanah.

– Malarone is important in fighting Malaria. Don’t forget to take your medication.

–   NEVER make eye contact with a lion

–   cape buffalo always have white birds around them.

–     Always make sure Doug Richnow is with you when purchasing souvenirs from Kenyan’s.

–       We all loved Dawa

–  While giving my contact information to the small group girls I worked with in Kimanah, I was asked what my e-mail address was and as I was carefully spelling it out, they were able to finish my sentence with the gmail.com part & then proceeded to give me their e-mails.  Where they check their e-mails, or how they even get the internet there is beyond me.

–    If your 4GB camera card says it will only take 400 pictures, it’s a lie. Mine took 2459.

–   Fender benders in Africa are just the norm. People don’t really follow the traffic rules.

–       We may have seen Paula Dean driving a land cruiser in Nairobi.

–       Coffee grows on trees

–       One should not eat African food without first checking with Mama Meg.  She also carries bug spray, energy bars, hand sanitizer, pepto and aprin anywhere she goes. [which I definitely appreciated]

–       If your driving the road from Nairobi to Kimanah and see Chinese men with straw hats sitting on the side of the road, it’s not a mirage.

–       If someone in Africa likes what you’re wearing they will tell you it’s smart, or your smart.

– One should not spray 100% deet directly on their skin.

–       Agoi, our driver is now on my list of all time favorite people ever. He taught me 5 swahili words a day.

–       There can be up to 120 primary school students in 1 class.

–       Not all children get to go to secondary school.

–       In October, form 4 students [form 4 = seniors] take an exam that basically determines whether they will be able to attend university or not. Even if they do well, they are ranked with all of Kenya and it’s incredibly competitive.

–       Giraffe tongues are antiseptic.

–   I may be meant to work for the Giraffe rehabilitation center in Nairobi.

–  Giraffe’s make me cry tears of joy. We saw a group of 30 [with a few Zebra’s thrown in] on the way back from Kimanah.

–  It’s disturbing to come across a Miley Cirus interview on African television.

– Masai can jump upto 3 feet high.

To be continued..

❤ emily

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48 Hour Dash to the Finish

Phew! That was a whirlwind!  We’re finally back in Houston after about 24 hours of flying and waiting in airports.  Thank you to everyone for all your prayers and support.  This trip wouldn’t be possible without all of you.

But since all of you have been so good to us, we wouldn’t want to leave out the details from our last day in Kenya and our successful return.

On Sunday we returned to Nairobi following a day of Safari where we got to see some of God’s great creation in Amboseli National Park.  While driving through the park we saw elephants, zebras, giraffes, baboons, gazelles, warthogs, cape buffalo, a lion, and many other animals that you may have seen in The Lion King.  Seeing these animals in their natural habitat was a totally different experience.  As Emily was saying, “We are the zoo!” because the animals get to watch us inside our little van while they walk around.  Basically it was awesome.

Here are some of the elephants!

Yes! They were really close! (Our driver Agoi was the best!)

We’ll share some more pictures of the animals with you soon.  But back to Nairobi.

Our plans for teaching at a Christian secondary school in Nairobi got moved from Monday to Tuesday, so that made for a very busy Tuesday-Wednesday, which we would be teaching the full Sex, God, & Me curriculum, and then travelling all the way from Nairobi to Amsterdam to Houston.  And what made this story more interesting was the massive amount of rain that was pouring on the city in the evenings, so some of the roads (which were dirt/mud roads) we travelled to get to the school were covered in about a foot of water, which our miracle driver Agoi was able to navigate us through.

One of the roads Agoi led us down after much rainfall.

So thank you once again for your prayers, because we made it to all the places we had planned, even with some obstacles in the way.  Look to hear more from us in the following week on this blog and in church.

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Pictures from Oloile School!

Meg with Some of the boys from Oloile School in Kimana

Sam with some of the same boys.

Alex with some of the students

Oloile School

Some of the Girls playing some games between sessions.

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Proud Mama

One often wonders if you are in the will of our Heavenly Father. My experience in Africa is a prime example of knowing that God is in control. Last year my Africa trip was overwhelming  and new. This year I had the St. John the Divine Fellows. All 5 taught at the rural school in the bush of Kimana. All 5 Fellows were outstanding. They were prepared and on top of their game. The time spent on Houston practicing giving the Sex, God & Me talks slowly and knowing their material paid off in spades. The kids were engaging and loved learning from the young Americans. I am a proud mama.

My “room boy” at Kimana was a young pastor named Joseph. When he asked me if I was a missionary, I said, “sort of”. I the told him about Sex, God & Me and gave him a Leaders manual. He asked me to come and speak at the staff’s Bible Studyof the lodge. I agreed saying our friend Moses could tranlate. When I realized Moses was busy, we had to rely on God to proved. After a long day of teaching at the high school we went back to the lodge and immediately met Joseph to be escorted to the staff meeting room.

At this point I knew I wasn’t in charge. Prayed and asked for God to supply a translator. The answer was Ferdinand and precious young man with a sweet Spirit. The audience looked like something out of National Geographic. Mostly men but a few women. The crowd rose from 20 to 40. I started speaking and for the life of me cannot remember a thing I said. It was an overview of God’s will for our lives inn regards to sex. Then I took another step of faith. I asked each Fellow to speak from their heart. Each one responded not through their own power but the power of the Holy Spirit. It was amazing. We sang to them “Our God is an Awesome God’ and He is.

Asante (thank you) Heavenly Father for your faithfulness and for the Fellows. It does make me a proud mama.

Meg

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