Tuesday, November 19, 2019

My Newfound Love of Languages - by Katelyn

Image result for world with languages
"With languages you are at home anywhere."
     -Edmund De Waal


Portuguese is spoken in 10 different countries throughout the world:
  • Brazil
  • Portugal 
  • Timor-Leste (East Timor)
  • Macao
African  Countries - 
    Image result for portuguese speaking countries flags together
  • Mozambique 
  • Angola
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Equatorial Guinea 
  • Cape-Verde
  • Sao Tome and Principe

"The limits to my language mean the limits to my world"

                    -Ludwig Wittgenstein

In the middle of August I started taking Portuguese classes at Consolata because I realized that I have a newfound love for different languages that can make my world even more colorful. I started the class off with a huge advantage by being fluent in Spanish due to living in Peru for the last 3 years. With that I was able to bypass 3 of the 6 levels of Portuguese offered at the language school. Consolata Language/Philosophy School is where my family and I have been living for the last 3 months in Nairobi, Kenya. We were taking Swahili classes for 4 hours a day and completed the beginners course a couple of weeks ago. On top of doing Swahili for 4 hours a day, I returned to the school after lunch to do 4 hours of Portuguese in the afternoon. The grammar side of Portuguese is the exact same as Spanish and that made the whole learning process easier. 

"Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things."
                               -Flora Lewis

My teacher, Vania, is from Mozambique but has been living in Kenya for the last 5 years during college to become a restaurant or resort manager. Vania told me from day one that the parts of the language I needed the most work on were the pronunciation and my accent. Vania lived in Cuba (where they speak Spanish) for about 6 years with her family a couple of years back. That was a blessing in disguise because she was able to correct me when I was leaning too heavily on my Spanish or tried to say things Spanish-like. 

Image result for cool world map wallpaper
We would switch-up the learning style from day to day between talking, listening to music, going for walks, watching Brazilian soap operas, and book-work. While I was learning the language I was also learning the Mozambican culture and way of life. Most of our conversation was about the characteristics of the places we've lived and how that affects the way we see things. The way a language is used and the emotion it holds has everything to do with the lives that it expresses. 

"Language is the road map to a culture. It tells you where it's people come from and where they are going."
-Rita Mae Brown

Image result for cool road wallpaperI was also able to 
start seeing the differences and similarities in the Portugal-influenced    countries (ex:Portugal vs. Brazil). I enjoyed having her as my teacher because she didn't focus on the grammatically correct Portuguese but rather on the way people "actually speak". I feel as though her teaching style was effective because it was open-ended and more like a friendship than a teacher- student relationship. After 140 hours of class I was able to pass the final exam with a 98/100 in all the categories: speaking,listening, grammar and writing. I am very proud of myself and thankful for the opportunity to be able to learn yet another language. 

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head...if you talk to him in his language, it goes to his heart"
                                       - Nelson Mandela 

Image result for racial equality artIf we only have one life, then why not be able to talk to everyone? I want to be able to see everyone's point of view and experience more of life with people from a wide variety of places. As of right now by knowing English, Spanish, Portuguese and Kiswahili I could go to 116 out of the 195 countries of the world and be able to communicate effectively. 
That blows my mind. 
Languages open so many doors and make the world seem a little bit smaller to me. I would be honored if one day I could use these languages, and any others, for the greater glory of God in any way possible. Learning a language isn't just words on a page, it's accepting everything that that language stands for and holds true. When you speak in a language that is not your own you are being given the privilege to walk with the countless number of people before you that have used it to express their love, loss, hopes, dreams and futures.

Image result for the  past present and future wallpaper
Becoming part of another culture is a great responsibility that shouldn't be take lightly. It is a great honor to be able to learn any language that means so much to so many people. In the future I would be super blessed to return to Consolata to be able to study French and Arabic... which would allow me to feel at home in 170 countries of the world. I have a newfound love of languages and only God knows where this will take me in life or what it will bring. Thank you to all the people that make this amazing life possible.

God Bless y'all,

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to support us financially 
so that we can continue serving those in need, please visit:


call Family Missions Company at (337) 893 - 6111.

Thank you and God Bless!


Friday, November 1, 2019

Getting Bit by the Bug - Literally!

Years ago, when I found myself struggling to understand the difference between "sacrifice" and "suffering", I sought counsel with a priest who explained it quite simply; sacrifices are those intentional acts of love that we choose to make, while suffering is something that we endure as we deal with life's hardships.  He spoke about the difference between the hardships resulting from human sinfulness and those that we face when the natural world follows the scientific rules that God established at the dawn of creation.  I listened attentively as the priest explained the spiritual necessity of making sacrifices, and encouraged me to thank the Lord in advance for any opportunity that I would have to suffer in this lifetime.  I left satisfied with my new understanding and felt inspired to modify the age-old saying "when the going gets tough, the tough get going" to somehow include Jesus so that I wouldn't forget to invite Him into my difficult moments.

Last year, when my family and I participated in a week long retreat that included instruction on what one person called "holy indifference" and another referred to as "living without a preference", I found myself contemplating the ideas of "sacrifice" and "suffering" all over again.  As missionaries living in the third world we have ample opportunity to make sacrifices.  We accept the discomforts and inconveniences, with a clear understanding that they do not constitute "suffering".  We strive to "live without a preference" and have a "holy indifference" as to how things go on any given day.  I want to be like a blindfolded little girl, excited to receive whatever the world puts in my hands...good, bad or otherwise.  When I remember, I thank the Lord in advance for any hardships that I will face, and beg Him for the grace to endure whatever comes my way....even the Nairobi Fly! 

"What is the Nairobi Fly?" you may ask.

Well, it's a beetle about 1cm in length that can neither sting nor bite, but holds within its tiny little body a toxin that some say is worse than a cobra's venom.  That acidic fluid is released when a person squishes the bug against his/her body....like I did in the middle of the night when I felt something crawling on me. 

In the morning my neck felt a bit itchy, but I figured the mosquito had probably just gotten to me before I had the chance to get to him.  As the day progressed the spot on the back of my neck became itchier and started feeling hot.  At some point, I looked in the mirror and noticed a large red welt with about 40 little whiteheads.  "I must have gotten bit by a spider or something and not just a mosquito." I remember thinking.  Within a couple of days it became obvious that something was happening.  The splotch on my neck now extended down to my collar bone, I felt a little bit like someone was holding a branding iron against my skin, and the whiteheads had turned into pussy bumps.  When I tried to relieve the unbearable itching, the squishy bumps broke open and caused an even more intense burning sensation. 

My loving family encouraged me to seek medical attention, but I remained confident that it wasn't anything that a good, thick layer of hydro-cortisone cream wouldn't cure.  When that didn't work, I tried other creams, rubbing alcohol and even some anti-fungal medicine that was laying around.  I wish I could say that I was deep in prayer and offering all of my suffering for the salvation of souls, but in reality I was just being "bull-headed", as my dad says.  It wasn't until chunks of skin started falling off of my neck that I was willing to admit that someone who knows more than me should probably take a look at what felt like a serious burn.  

The doctor at the hospital informed me of my encountered with the Nairobi Fly.  He told me about the acidic venom that was released when I smashed the bug on my neck and determined that I had also developed a secondary bacterial infection which was causing dark patches to form on my neck and red bumps on my face.  He prescribed a combination of topical steroid / antibiotic creams, pain relievers, antihistamines, and oral antibiotics which I took for many days. 
Slowly the bumps disappeared, the swelling subsided, and the burning waned, leaving me with a large patch of raw, sensitive skin that made me aware of even the slightest of breezes.    

I think it's been about a month since I was bitten by this mysterious little insect.  The pain in my neck has been replaced by a strange, itchy, tightness that I think is just the new skin growing back.  I continue to self-medicate with various creams and wonder what kind of scar will remain.  As I've thought about this crazy Nairobi Fly experience I've realized that it's been a PH Test of sorts for my spirituality.  I never felt angry at God because I knew that this is a perfect example of what the priest described as the hardships we face when the natural world follows the scientific rules that God established at the dawn of creation.  I don't know why He filled Nairobi flies with a toxic venom that burns human flesh, but He did, and that's alright.  I don't know how or when this bug got into my room, but I'm confident that the devil had nothing to do with it, so that eliminates a whole category of spiritual confusion that I believe gets the best of people at times.  I tried to embrace an attitude of "holy indifference" and just accept the discomfort without wishing for something else.  I didn't second guess our decision to come to Kenya, so that's good news, but I also didn't offer any of my suffering up to the Lord....for anything; I just quietly endured.  

Now that this hardship has passed I've realized that my suffering, minimal though it was, was all but wasted because I insisted on doing it alone.  I hear people talk about uniting their sufferings with the sufferings of Christ, but I don't think I even know what the practical application of that looks like.  I've read about redemptive suffering, but I'm obviously not far enough along in my own spiritual journey to be able to do what the scholars teach.  When I'm honest with myself I see that I just reverted to my "tough girl" attitude whereby I decide that nothing (or nobody) is going to make me suffer...and so I didn't, even though I had the opportunity to.  Through prayer, I've realized that this quandry of "sacrifice" versus "suffering" is really about my inability to surrender to the Lord.  I'm perfectly willing to make sacrifices because, as the priest said, it is an intentional decision that I am making out of love.  One might rephrase that and point out that as long as I'm the one making the decisions, I remain in control.  When we suffer, we must endure something that is out of our control, which I must not be ready for quite yet.  I beg for your prayers, that I am able to learn how to surrender in a real way so that I may obtain the abundance of graces that the Lord has for me.  I will continue to thank the Lord in advance for upcoming opportunities to suffer, hoping that I'll do better next time!  I will also continue to make sacrifices, especially for those supporting us in this life of missions, because that's all I know how to do at this point.  I thank you for your willingness to journey with us.  I thank you for your love and prayers.  I ask that Jesus fill your heart to overflowing so that you may share that love with all those you encounter..... even the Nairobi Fly...hehehe!!!

Peace be with you!

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to support us financially 
so that we can continue serving those in need, please visit:


call Family Missions Company at (337) 893 - 6111.

Thank you and God Bless!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Our Lego & Real House in Mikinduri by Jack

Hello from Kenya!  Hamjambo!  I am writing to tell you about our house in Mikinduri.  I will tell my story with photos and captions.  I hope you enjoy it!

This is the back room in our house.  I did not have enough pieces to make the closet.

This is the the hallway where our bedrooms are located . 
My Dad and Mom's room, my sister's room and then our room.

This is our kitchen and very cramped bathroom.

 This is the view of the whole house without a roof.

This is me on the kitchen counter with my creation.
This is our cozy but nice dinner table.

This is our sink where we do the dishes and a bar of soap.

 This is a better view of our Lego made clothes drying.

Another angle of our kitchen and the grey thing in the back is our stove and oven.

This is a view of our backyard with a washer.
This is the real deal clothesline in the real backyard.

 This is the shower head that heats the water as we use it.

This is where the school and us burn are trash.
Here is Michael protecting the fridge with no electricity.
 This is the real washing machine FR. B gave us.

 Here is the view into the backyard from the backdoor.

Here is the legomania with me and Michael.
 This is the view in the back bathroom from the door.

This is where we do schoolwork with our teacher.....Mom.

Here is Michael sitting on the couch with his box.

 This is Katelyn sitting in the family room.
 Here is the view into the real kitchen....very nice.

Here is where put food scraps to feed to the parish pigs.
 This is the water filter where we get water from to drink.

Here is my Mom sitting at the dinner table.

 This is our fence and gate to make sure nobody gets in the house.

 Here are our friends from the neighboring school.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Our 1st Visit to the Girls' Orphanage in Nairobi

I read online that there are over 200 different slums in Kenya's capital city of Nairobi and that approximately 60% of her total population considers the slums their home. Although disturbing, this statistic doesn't surprise me after seeing slums that extend as far as the eye can see.

As a matter of safety we intended to remain on the bypasses, which go around the slums, as we traveled from one part of Nairobi to another; at least until we became comfortable with our new environment.

One day we ventured out to find a shopping plaza using Google Maps.  As you probably know, this app allows users to choose "the fastest route" or "the shortest route"; one can even indicate if he wants to travel on toll roads or not.  However, there isn't an option that we're aware of for avoiding certain types of neighborhoods.  So, we followed Google right into the middle of Kibera, Nairobi's largest slum.  I wasn't sure if this was the fastest route or even the shortest route, but it definitely was the most authentic representation of what life is for millions and millions of Kenyans. 

Against the better judgement of some, I'm sure, we drove slowly with our windows down, smiling and greeting the folks we passed in Swahili.  Some smiled back, others pointed; most just stared.

There were a few moments that we felt compelled to pray especially hard for protection against whatever evil may be lurking.  For example, on one very narrow, twisty road we came upon a small mountain of rocks blocking the way.  The people watched, wondering what we would do.  Perhaps our vehicle could have made it over, but we weren't willing to risk getting stuck.  The bystanders giggled as we made a 14-point turn around in the tiny little space.  There was nothing for us to do other than laugh along with them, which I think was refreshing for them to witness.

As we've become more familiar with Nairobi's layout we've learned the general location of the larger slums.  All praise be to God, we don't feel afraid to travel through them when we 're directed by Google to do so - usually to avoid waiting in traffic for hours and hours on the "regular" roads.  As we've driven through these very, very poor communities I've felt drawn to the people there.  I long to sit on a bag full of sand, outside of a humble little shop, and talk with people about how Jesus can help them to deal with their hardships....however, I know that now isn't the time.

We took this photo right outside of the gate of the girls' orphanage.
Last weekend we visited an orphanage in the slums that is run by a congregation of nuns who rescue girls from sexually abusive situations. Some of the girls are victims of human trafficking; some were abused by those caring for them after their parents died or left; while others were simply unsafe in their own homes. One of the nuns drove with us to the orphanage, which worked out perfectly. Together, we navigated the slum's narrow streets and twisty turns until we finally ended up in what seemed like the "projects".  This is a really nice part of the slums in which there are multi-story apartment-like buildings where people can rent a room or even two for their families to live in.  I was told that these housing units usually have running water and even indoor plumbing.

When we passed through the front gate of the orphanage compound we warped into another world: green grass, trimmed bushes, flowers blooming all around.  A really friendly nun greeted us, directed us to park in front of their living quarters, and insisted that we join them for tea...so we did.

As we were enjoying our chai and biscuits, the missionary nuns told us about their orphanage: how/when it was founded, what responsibilities each of them have, the ways in which they find the girls, the legal regulations that guide their work, and so much more.  Below is a photo of one of the girls' dormitories.

During our visit we learned that the nuns have a private, all girls, high school on campus, but it is atypical for the girls living with the nuns to attend because most have been reintegrated into their families before reaching secondary school.

In the distance you can see the high school. 
It's not a very good photo, but it's the best I could do
because it was pouring rain when we left.

The nuns have extensive training and experience in the process of reuniting children with family members after they've learned to deal with and overcome the hardships of their particular circumstances.  Ignorant of this aspect of adolescent therapy, I asked a lot of questions.  I now understand more about the direct correlation between a girl feeling like she belongs to a family, even if it's a dysfunctional one, and her overall emotional well being as an adult.  When the nuns explained their goal of reuniting the girls with their family members I was shocked and could only imagine them returning to the nightmares from which they were rescued.  However, this is not the case.  I learned that this amazing group of nuns works hard to find a person in each girl's family who is responsible, healthy, loving, able and willing to care for the child after she leaves the nuns' home.  By law, the nuns are able to have each child in their care for a maximum of six years, which is a significant amount of time in a child's life. 

After our orientation we finally got to meet the girls.  They came to the pavillion in the middle of campus, shook our hands, stated their names, and politely sat on the benches around the outside edge.  We knew that we needed to do something to break the ice; so, we taught them the animal game that we learned from our friends at the Lord's Ranch in New Mexico.  Within moments the ice was broken and everyone was giggling.  Some were elephants and others were crocodiles, but all were having fun!  To see a short YouTube video of us playing this game, click the following link:

As we were playing the animal game it began raining. This was no surprise because we've entered into the rainy season during which it rains every single day and all night, every night.  It was a good time to transition into our next activity ~ Katelyn and Anna singing the Our Father in Swahili, which the girls really enjoyed.

Next, Anna shared a bible passage that the Lord gave her earlier that day in her personal prayer time.  It was from the prophet Isaiah and reminds us that God's love is free.  The girls were very attentive as they listened to Anna's beautiful reflection.   When Anna was done she (unexpectedly) invited me to share a bit from my bible.  In that moment I felt especially thankful for the discipline that I've had these last four years to read my bible every day.  I thought about how Jesus tells us to always be ready to give reason for our hope.  I was ready - I quickly flipped to John 8:32 which says, "the truth will set you free" and spoke to the girls about my love for God's Word, which IS the truth that sets us free, gives us hope, and makes this life worth living.

When we were all done the girls wanted to sing us some praise and worship songs.  One was in Swahili and another was in Kimeru.  You can see a video of their performance if you click on the following link:

An African Song of Praise at the Orphanage

The last song that the girls sang was in English.  Within seconds I realized that we knew the song that they were singing, which blew my mind.  Imagine....these girls here in Kenya have been praising God with this song and at the very same time my family has been in Peru, Mexico and the United States singing the exact same song, to the exact same God.  As you could have probably guessed, it made me cry.  The way that the Holy Spirit moves in the hearts of people all around the world simultaneously is beautiful and amazing!!

Before we left I took a picture of my family with all the girls and some of the nuns so that we can remember the time we had to share with them.  I'm not sure whether or not we'll have the chance to visit again, but that's alright.  I felt peace as we were leaving, knowing that we were able to reinforce all that the nuns are teaching them about God's unconditional love for them.

Frank Summers, the co-founder of our missionary organization, has told me that "the success of missions is measured in lifetimes."  At various times over the course of these last several years I have interpreted this in different ways.  On this particular day, as I reflected on Mr. Frank's insightful words of wisdom, I felt grateful for the opportunity to be one of the many people who will help the young ladies at this orphanage come to know the living person of Jesus Christ.  I felt thankful for the chance to contribute, if even in a small way, to the success of the mission here in Kenya.

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to support us financially 
so that we can continue serving those in need, please visit:


call Family Missions Company at (337) 893 - 6111.

Thank you and God Bless!