Monday, November 02, 2015

Living in Nairobi, Kenya

I am sitting at the kitchen table, thinking of how to explain what life in Africa looks like (for me), and all I keep hearing is a flying termite, trying to get into the house through the window. They are annoying little creatures. Harmless, but creepy. They come out when it rains, and you can see holes in the ground in the red dirt.

They look something like this

                                     People eat them here in Kenya, sometimes they even eat them alive.

Living in Nairobi, Kenya is definitely different than what I imagined. I tried to not have expectations, but of course I had some. The only image of Africa I had in my mind was of Ghana, and Kenya is not Ghana.
I knew we were going to live in a city of 6 million people, but it's Africa; I didn't expect it to be civilized and modern.

We live in a beautiful house with 2 other girls. We live in a compound just to be safe, and whenever we want to go somewhere, we walk 10 minutes to the main road. We use public transportation for the most part, sometimes we catch a ride with the pastor or his wife.

Public transportation is very interesting. The bus is called a "matatu". There are smaller and bigger ones. The bigger one actually looks like a bus; the smaller one is a small van with 12 seats in it. Yes, 12. The cost of matatu depends on where you're going, but it's usually very cheap. A 30min drive usually costs around 30 cents.
Some conductors can be rude to us and they ask for more money because we're white. One time we were suppose to pay 10 cents and the guy said to pay 40 cents because we're white and have money.
We also got proposed before. It doesn't happen that often which is good.
The music on matatus is always super loud and reggae, but they have reggae worship music on Sundays. You know, it's a church day.

 The smaller matatu
 Inside the smaller matatu
The big matatu

The cost of living is similar to the one in Slovenia, so are the prices of groceries. They have a lot of things imported, like Betty Crocker's brownie batter, chocolate chip cookie batter… They even have Sparky peanut butter.
Their fruit and veggies are mostly a lot cheaper than Slovenia. For example, one mango costs 30 cents, pineapple is around 1,20eur, broccoli is 40 cents, banana is 5 cents… we like to buy whatever we can on the market because it's cheaper and better.
Their milk costs twice as much as at home and cheese is very expensive. I was able to find a good cheddar cheese for cheap; 500g of cheese for 5,5eur. I also learned how to make my own sour cream because I don't want to pay over 1eur for it.
We eat out about once a week, usually on Thursdays in between 2 Bible studies. It costs the same as in Slovenia.

Most people in Nairobi consider themselves Christians, but when you ask further questions, they usually won't know what to answer. There are real believers here though, and many churches.

We just did a missions trip to Kakamega, Kenya, and were able to encourage the congregation of Calvary Chapel Shikokho and evangelize around their church. People at church had many questions about the Bible and we learned that many pastors in that area just take advantage of people that come to church. If a husband dies and the lady becomes a widow, the pastor will just come and take all of their possessions. Pastors also tell people many lies in how they interpret the Bible. One of the questions people had was if Elijah reincarnated into John the Baptist because one of the pastors told them that's what it says.
 We visited 27 people from the church, encouraged them and prayed for them 
We also found this chameleon, I named him Frankie. Most Africans are afraid of them because they change colors and they connect that with witchcraft, but I loved him! I wanted to take him with me to Nairobi, but we had 2 more days in Kakamega so I couldn't. 

The church gave us a gift when we left ~ they gave us 3 roosters. Live ones. We celebrated it by singing a worship song and dancing :)

We have 2 church services every Sunday; the first one is in English, the second one in English with Swahili translation. I really enjoy sermons in English, verse by verse. We've been going through the book of Hebrew, it's so encouraging.
I also really enjoy the worship, and the worship team is amazing. This is a short clip of their Swahili worship.

We see a lot of need and a lot of poor people, and their struggles are real. But we also see a lot of faith in these people's hearts, because all they have is Jesus. They need to rely on the Lord for everything. One of my favorite ministries here is Women's Bible study, we have it on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The ladies are usually quiet and shy, a lot of times they don't want to answer your question about the Bible because they're afraid they'll say the wrong answer, but they are amazing women, living their lives for Jesus.
I also really like our Teens class, we have it every Sunday during the 2nd service. Zala and I both got a chance to teach it and the youth is warming up to us. The girls are very sweet and the boys are more shy. I am excited to spend more time with them and get to know them better.
Zala and I also help with the tea ministry on Sundays. We make mandazies which are like donuts, and we make tea. It's fun, and we always do it with another lady from the church. It's fun to get to know them better :)
With the ladies, making tea

And since we're in Africa, I just had to get my hair braided :) I miss having long hair and I love them now, but it comes with a price ~ my scalp itches a lot. I got a lot of compliments though, especially from African women. They told me I look very smart and in their culture that means I look pretty.

Life in Nairobi is really nice. It's different than what I imagined but it's better than what I imagined. I do hope we get to go outside of the city again and serve the Lord in the bushy area :) 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The journey of going to Africa

I remember being 15 and thinking "I wish I lived in Africa. Look at all those nuns… they get to help so many people. I wish I was like them."
My mom had an elementary school anniversary around that time. One of the ladies that used to be her schoolmate lives in Africa and helps people as a nun. She came to the anniversary and when my mom came home, she told me of all the stories her schoolmate shared with her.
My mom has always wanted to live in Africa. Maybe I got that desire from her...

When I started High School, my life took a different turn. I was depressed and didn't like my life, so I reached out to different things, trying to get help. Drugs, alcohol, relationships… none of them worked. At least not for a long time. My desire for Africa and helping people was put to the side; I was trying to help myself.

Then I finished High School and realized life can be different. I took some classes and became a preschool teacher.
I love kids and I started working in a preschool. One of my co~workers knew of my desire to live in Africa. She came to me one day and said, "Mana, they need preschool teachers in Uganda, for 3 months. They cover your basic needs. Wanna go?" I took some time and was really thinking of saying yes, but then said no because I wasn't ready for it mentally. It was just not the right time yet.

I went to England as a nanny in 2009, at the age of 20… and came home after 3 months. My life seemed another kind of mess. The Lord never really left me alone, and since I was slowly hitting rock bottom, He reached out to me and I responded (finally!!!). He saved me on 13/14 January 2010. I knew right away I wanted to serve the Lord with all I have, and I wanted to be a missionary. I decided to go to Bible College to get to know who God is and deepen my relationship with Him.

Throughout that year and a half of Bible College there were many things that happened concerning Africa. I was able to meet people who have been to Africa and even had a desire to serve there as missionaries. I met Gus and Shaunice, a couple who has a desire to go to Ghana as missionaries. They were going to Ghana for 2 months and they asked me to come with them. I prayed about it for over 2 months and didn't really get clear answers. The Lord gave me a vision one evening during worship time. I was walking, bare feet, on a dirt road in Africa. I was walking towards a nearby village. My feet were dirty and I was wearing a long, blue skirt. I heard God say one word: someday. That was so comforting and encouraging to hear ~ He confirmed my calling to Africa!!! But He didn't say anything about going or not going to Ghana. I continued praying and a few weeks later heard God say, "Go back home, to Slovenia." I was shocked, I really expected Him to say to go to Ghana!!
I had no idea why I needed to return home, but I obeyed and went back to Slovenia. We found out 3 days after my arrival that my mom had lung cancer. There was a reason why I needed to go back home: God wanted me to be a light for Him in the midst of a storm.

I came home and said to God, "I'm here. How do you want to use me?"
My pastor allowed me to try different ministries to see where I'm gifted and where God was calling me. I am so thankful for that ~ I didn't have any ministry experiences. I ended up helping in Junior High group in Ljubljana, and then started a Junior High group in Kocevje. But I didn't forget about Africa ~ how could I?!? :)

Gus and Shaunice were going back to Ghana and again invited me to go with them; this time only for 10 days. In faith I said yes.  I had no idea what God was doing in the background. So in February 2013 I went to Africa for the first time! It was such a dream come true to even stand on African land!!! I absolutely loved it there! One of my biggest prayers while in Ghana was for the Lord to confirm His calling on my life. He spoke to me through His word on the 7th day. He shared these 2 verses with me:
"After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him."Luke 5:27~28 
"Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!" ~ Luke 12:24

With the first one He just pierced my heart, telling me to follow Him, leaving EVERYTHING! And then I got worried and my mind was filled with concerns. That's when the pastor shared Luke 12:24 ~ and God completely calmed me down!
I was SO EXCITED that God was confirming things and calling me! But after coming back to Slovenia, the doors closed. I really thought He would send me (or us) to Ghana… and yet He didn't. So I continued praying about it and then moved to Kocevje and committed for 2 years of service here. That was a big step for me. One of the biggest fears was that I will get stuck in Kocevje and will not be able to go to Africa if I moved here. Of course that's not true.
I moved to Kocevje in faith and continued praying for Africa.
Me, Ana, Shaunice, Gabby, Gus and pastor Donne in Ghana

 Playing with the kids after church 

In July 2014 my friend Zala and I were talking during one of the summer activities and she ended up sharing her heart about Africa. She has always wanted to go to Africa for a few months to work in an orphanage and help children. I was surprised but I told her I was praying for God to open the door for me to go back to Africa, and for someone to possibly come with me. We decided to pray about it, on our own, and see what God does :) A month later we went to a conference called The History Makers where our callings were confirmed and we decided to step out in faith and see where God leads. Whomever we talked to, wherever we turned, it was all about Kenya. That was very interesting to us… we didn't know anyone in Kenya and have no idea why God would want to send us to Kenya, but we took a step in that direction. After a month of discouragement and a lot of "no's", I contacted Calvary Chapel Nairobi and got an answer within 2 hours. That's how the whole process with them started.
Zala and I sent them our reference forms from our pastor and people we work with in the church, and then a few months later we Skyped with the pastor in Kenya and his wife (they are from California but have lived in Nairobi for years) and finalized things, asked many questions and answered their questions. We had a great time talking and we clicked right away! :)

A month later Zala and I bought our plane tickets; we're leaving September 23rd!!! :)
Zala is staying 2 months and I am staying 4 months (or longer). We are thrilled that God opened the door for us to go to serve Him in Kenya!

I am going on this trip to serve the Lord in Kenya, but I'm also going to spy out the land and see if the Lord is calling me there longterm.

This might not be the "someday" God was talking about in the vision He gave me… but it's a step towards that "someday", and that's enough for me for now. We'll see what He does next :)

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

AMP Camp 2015

We just came home from our Winter Camp 2015! This was my first winter camp and it was awesome!

There were 61 of us ~ most of them from Ljubljana but 10 from Kocevje, woohoo! It was great to see old faces, meet new people and spend time together as we skied/snowboarded, ate pancakes in the cabin on the mountain, played so many round of Ligretto I stopped counting, and listened to evening messages about the Trinity of God!

Here's what our 3 days looked like! :)

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

5 years with Jesus

13 January 2010
I met in the 'upper room' of our church with 3 missionaries who were like a family to me, to pray about a few things that were going on in my life. They didn't quite know where I stood with God because at that point I believed in God but had it all mixed up with the New Age.
So, we met to pray.
A lot of things happened that week, prior to our meeting: I stopped any contact I had with my previous partner, I quit my meditation group and got really attacked that I'm being brainwashed…

So, we met in the office, the 'upper room',  at 7pm. One of the missionaries was preparing me through the whole week, telling me everything will be ok and I got nothing to worry about… and I had no idea why he was saying those things ~ we were just getting together to pray, right?

As we all gathered, we prayed and invited the Holy Spirit to speak and bring out some memories in my mind that needed healing. I remembered a lot of painful memories from the past but there was one memory that was very normal but I only remember one picture of the whole day. Well, that was the memory we digged into.

There was a lot of junk that needed to be brought up, and a lot of healing and clarification that I needed to receive from God. 7 hours later we talked about what sin is, then I repented and accepted Jesus into my heart. He gave me my life verse:

After that, one of the missionaries said she keeps thinking of one worship song: Here I am To Worship. That is now one of my favorite worship songs.

Jesus showed many other things and gave a few promises… and it was amazing. I spent the night at one of the missionary's houses that night and had a dream Jesus was coming out of the fog, with his arms wide open, waiting for me to come to Him. I don't think that was a dream.

It's amazing that that happened 5 years ago. To me it seems as if it happened 20 years ago :)

My life is so completely different, and God took me through so many things in the past 5 years: I went to Bible College in Hungary for 1,5 years, I was able to serve in my home church in all different ministries to see where God would want me to serve Him, I was able to visit Africa for the first time and got my calling confirmed, I met amazing people who are now my best friends, I moved to Kocevje where I'm now a national missionary… I mean, a roller coaster of amazing things! It's never boring with God, that's for sure! :)

I am thankful He waited on me. And He waited for 7 years too…
I love His patience, His grace… and His everlasting, unconditional love.

If you'd like to get a bigger story of my past, how God waited on me and how my life changed, you can read it HERE

Friday, January 09, 2015

God's grace and faithfulness.

I moved to Kocevje in September 2013. 18 hours before I literally sat in the van and drove towards Kocevje with all my belongings in it, God shared Psalm 121 with me through a friend.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
 He will not let your foot slip
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
 The Lord watches over you
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
 The Lord will keep you from all harm
    he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

Of course God ALWAYS knows our hearts, better than we know them, and He knows exactly what we need to hear, where we need to be encouraged and what promises He needs to give/remind us of. 

There are many, many very personal and very applicable promises in Psalm 121, and the Lord knew I so needed them for when I moved to Kocevje. I didn't know where exactly I'll be, what exactly I'll be doing or even how long I'd be staying. I only had His call, His Word and His promises. And that was AND still is enough.

2014 was a hard year for me. You could say it was a year of growth and faith, and that's not an easy process, yet very needed, and I'm so grateful that God took me through it. (that does not mean I would ever repeat it, ever again). 

As I was in my car yesterday, driving from the doctor's, I was listening to worship music and this song came up. I've heard it millions of times before but just like we read the same passage multiple times through our lives, and it speaks to us in different ways, this song spoke to me yesterday and reminded me of God's promises and His faithfulness to me. 

We serve and belong to an amazing Father who loves us more than we can ever imagine, and wants us for Himself more than we can ever understand. He is a jealous God and He will fight for His people. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, He never lies and He always fulfills His promises. He is a God that we can trust without a single doubt, a God that will never ever let us down and will always only lead us to the best possible thing we can have in life. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Winter Wonderland

Winter is definitely not one of my favorite seasons of the year. It's all wet, mostly cloudy and freeeeeezing. It will be −24°C on the New Year's night. That's −11°F!!! 

But when the first snow falls, especially if it's around Christmas time… well, I have to admit I did enjoy some winter~ish landscape :)

I do have to admit… it's a very pretty winter wonderland :)

We don't have any Christmas traditions at home so I started my own a few years ago. I always watch Home Alone 1 (sometimes Home Alone 2, too) and While You Were Sleeping. Oh, what great movies.
And I make myself a Christmas dinner ~ fresh salmon with baked potatoes. Yum! :)

I've been at the College group for Christmas party for the past few years and we do white elephant, play different games and since it's Jesus' birthday, we give Him the gift of words and thank Him for different things. He sure is wonderful!

What are your Christmas traditions? :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

God's amazing provision

I have been living in Kocevje for 1 year, 2 months and 11 days. There have been good and bad days, ups and downs, joyful and discouraging moments ~ just like everywhere else on this planet.

I lived with the Pastor of the church in Kocevje and his family for 10 months. We originally said I'll stay there for 3 months until I find my own place but that got extended to 10 months. I am so thankful I got to stay with them and be a part of their family, but for the sake of ministry we thought it was better for me to find my own place.

Shawn, Christena and I were looking for an apartment for 6 months before God really brought us to the one He had for me, and now for Andrea as well (she is an extended JV intern, staying until mid December). It was a surprise how we even found it but God was so faithful… and He really showed us that He is in complete control about it.
We did everything we possibly could and none of the apartments we looked at suited me, for different reasons. This one, however, suits every single angle and is an answered prayer in many, many ways. I live 2min away from the center of the town; rent is as low as it can possibly be; I have a beautiful view; my landlord is very nice; my contract is for a year and I can move out any time I want, if that's what I decide.

Work in progress...

… and the finished product :)

 We actually do have beds now, but we didn't at that time :)

God is full of surprises. I didn't have much faith in finding an apartment during the summer because I didn't really have much time. But out of those 6 days I had to look for one, God brought me to this one on the 6th day, in the evening. And I knew right away that this is the one God had for us. He wasn't too late… He just worked in His own time.

God is the God who provides. Always. I thought He would provide sooner but He knew exactly when I needed an apartment. He sees the big picture and He works in His own timing.
Sometimes I don't see Him work and I think He forgot about me or that He won't provide… oh, how little do I know my God. He always has the best in mind for us. It's true that that sometimes means we don't get what we pray for; but even then He provides something different, something even better. He knows us and He knows what we need. I needed to wait for this apartment but boy, oh, boy, it was worth it!
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well." ~ Luke 12:27~31