Tuesday, July 30, 2013

not yet

During the first several weeks I've been here, I wouldn't say that I was enjoying myself. Yes, I enjoyed some moments of it and to be honest, those moments I enjoyed were probably the moments whenever my flesh was most happy, whenever things were easiest. Which here in Chad, there aren't many of those moments.

I told myself I would rather be doing something much more noble, more great. I wouldn't mind the suffering, I thought, if I were doing something great. Because to me, hauling the third bucket of dirty laundry water or trying (and helplessly failing) to put up mosquito nets isn't as great as some things I could be doing for God.

Woah, hold up, Kendra. When did you start doing things for God? Don't you know that your good works are like filthy rags to God, don't you know that God looks at you heart?

All this I know, in my brain. But now I truly am learning it in my soul. God doesn't want my works. (whew, am I sure glad, because if He did want my works, I would be in deep trouble). He wants me. He wants me, nasty and polluted as I am, to run recklessly into His arms. He wants me to do everything in joy, in thankfulness, with a pure heart. Sweep the floor with joy, Kendra. Play that card game with the kids (for the 50th time) in thankfulness. Clean up the throw up with a pure heart. 

How far I have to go.

At first I wasn't enjoying it here. I hated it, this ripping of the flesh.  It wasn't until last night when one of the kids asked me, "You'd rather be back at home in America, wouldn't you?"

It took me a second to answer. And two weeks ago, my answer would've been yes, of course I would rather be home.

But now I'm learning that yes, my flesh hates this life, my heart has never been so full, so satisfied. No, I don't want to go home. Not yet.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

10 reasons I'm falling in love with Chad

I don't want to worry friends or family with my last post. I got several people asking if I was okay, and I hope I didn't sound like I was miserable, because though I miss home, yes, I am okay (much better than ok actually). If I wasn't okay I would let you all know. I am learning to be content here in Chad and who woulda thought? I'm actually starting to love life here.

These are the reasons I'm falling in love with Chad.


The people here are so warm and friendly. Wherever you go, you greet everyone, and it's not just a simple, "How are you?". You ask how the person's mother is doing, how everyone else at the house is doing, and so on.

It's perfectly normal here to drop by a neighbor's house at any given time and you're served dates, tea -- sometimes even candy. And you are always invited for dinner.

As friendly as they are, most of the people in this town are Muslims, living a life of emptiness and hopelessness. If only I, with the little Arabic I know, could somehow share Jesus with them!


The food here is so different and intriguing. Yes, everyone eats with their hands or with these large awkward looking spoons that I haven't quite mastered using. When I first came here I was disgusted, but I suppose with time, you can get used to anything. I'm not picky about trying any new food now. What's surprising is that even though sometimes the food here can LOOK gross, more than half of what I've tried is oh-so-yummy.


Sunset here happens before seven and so the sun comes up before five am. And oh, if the sun came up back in the States at five I would be up at that time every morning. I normally wake up as soon as the enormous sun peeks over the hills outside of town. I grab my Bible and a notebook and climb up the stairs to the roof. It's coolest up there, with the fresh wind blowing my dress and lifting my hair off my sweaty, sticky neck. It feels heavenly. And the view? Since we live in the nicest house in the area, our roof is highest and you can see for miles. I would never skip a morning of devotions, of Jesus time, if everyday I got to experience that.


The view from the roof brings me to my next reason -- the landscape. Yes, it's dusty and there's not a patch of grass to be seen, but there are trees here (which I never expected, when I lived in Sudan it was rare to see trees). They provide shade and a spark of color. The hills outside this town (which we'll go see soon) look like gigantic rocks hurled into earth. I've never seen anything quite like it.


Perhaps this is a funny thing to fall in love with. The first week or two in this new house, without running water, I thought the work seemed endless. It seems as if we're forever hand washing laundry, doing dishes, and sweeping floors. Even something like taking a "shower" (a couple cups of water dumped over you head) is work. I told myself I would never take for granted a cold shower, a dishwasher, or a washing machine again. But now I kind of like hand washing laundry, hanging it up onto the roof to dry, and hauling buckets of dirty water out onto the street. It gives me a chance to appreciate life.


Oh, how I love how simple everything is here! I disliked it at first, but now I find myself being much more creative. I've gotten back into sketching (which I'd basically given up on) and writing my book at nights. I take delight in things more than I ever did before, like a long email from a friend, painting my nails, drinking tea in the mornings, finding butter at the store, or having the city electricity turn on.


This family that I'm staying with is being to feel more and more like my own (though no one can be quite like my family) none of us are perfect, and I'm sure I get on their nerves sometimes, but I really enjoy being with them. I learn more about their personalities everyday. I'm so thankful they've taken me in for these several months!


If you don't know what a rickshaw is, look it up. Here in Chad they don't have the kind that people pull, but the motor rickshaws. Anytime we go somewhere, until we get a vehicle, all eight of us pile squished into one. It might sound terrible, but it's quite an adventure!

Last Sunday were we riding in a rickshaw and a donkey ran in front of us. We hit him, he was okay (so were we), and though we were a bit shaken up (and I had a nice bruise on my knee), we had a good laugh later. Oh what a life.


This is probably the most absurd thing out of the ten to love. Though I admit part of me hates the suffering and pain here, I know it develops my character (which could use a lot of work). It is hard here. I will refrain from listing reasons why, because today I will be thankful and not fall into the trap of ungratefulness I often find myself in. But isn't anything worth it hard?


I think this is my favorite reason. According to most people, I am crazy to come to Africa (and sometimes I do think I've gone nuts). And I said above, there's a lot of struggling here. There's nothing here to satisfy my flesh. There's nothing here to distract me from Jesus.

When the heat is sweltering, the work overbearing, and when the tears from missing my family start to flow, I run to Jesus. There is nothing else to run to. Isn't it horrible how I have to have everything stripped from me before I run to the one who loves me most? I'm so awful!

But when there is no good in me, there's good in Him, and I'm finding beauty in His glory, piece by piece. I would not want to live any other way.

Monday, July 22, 2013

missing it

Some days in Chad are harder for me than others. I miss having the conveniences I had back in the States. It's been hard, harder than I've expected. Yet for some reason it's been so good, so rewarding.

I miss people back home the most. People that were always there, like my mom, but somehow I never truly was grateful for them.

I miss the way my sister would lean over my shoulder whenever I was doing something, her warm breath on my back. I miss the brownies and pizza rolls we always had during youthgroup. I miss the "dance parties" I would have with Petra, Max and Heidi on Sunday afternoons. I miss the perhaps nerve-racking (but thrilling) car rides I'd have with my friends who were new drivers. I miss cool mornings and chilly nights. I miss worship time at church. I miss the feeling of my bare feet against the carpet as I rushed down the stairs. I putting on headphones and throwing on shorts to go for a run. I miss phone calls with my grandma. I miss being able to wear my hair down and step out of my house without everyone staring at me. I miss when dad rubbed my shoulders at night. I miss the peanut butter and homemade bread in the pantry. I miss air conditioner. I miss the way Petra laughs when I swing her around. I miss when Heidi would steal my iPod and record videos of herself. I miss grass. I miss driving. I miss long, satisfying conversations at Main Street Coffee House. I miss sitting at our table and looking at the faces of my family.

Though I do miss all this, and yes, some nights I cry harder than I ever have, it's still good. It sounds cheesy (and my friends who tease me about my boyfriend named "Chad" will laugh), but I think I'm falling in love this place, this Chad. Sometimes I feel as if I can't stand the heat, the flies, the warabeet, or the dirtiness one more second, but when I really think, I don't want to go home yet. Not yet.

ps: I do wish that trailer for the new movie Catching Fire would load . . . hurry up, super slow Chadian internet.

Friday, July 19, 2013

just do it

"Remember this," she says, tears flooding in her eyes and spilling out on her face. She takes a breath that's shaky, not because of uncertainty, but emotion. "If you forget everything else, remember this: when God tells you to do something, just do it." 

"Okay," I say, because if I say much more I'll burst into tears again. Why must goodbyes be so hard? With one last hug, we part ways. 

Funny how words can have such an impact on you, even weeks and months later. I pondered over what she told me. "Yes, I'll do what He says," I told myself that night. "After all, I'm giving up everything to go to Africa, right?" But I still have much, much giving left to do. You think you've given a lot of yourself only to find out that you really haven't given as much as you thought, and you start all over.

Another thought, this time a question, popped into my head. "How do I know that God's telling me to do something? How do I know it's not just my own self?" I looked for answers and I found them. Is it loving? Does it match up with His words? If so, then yes, it's God telling you to do something.

The hardest part is doing. There is no simple way to put it: when God tells you to do something, just do it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

the orphanage

Last week I got to visit the only orphanage in this town. Some friends of ours who were here for a couple of days (they left yesterday), stayed at the orphanage and I was grateful out how eager they were to show me around.

The orphanage only takes in babies for a few months, until they can find homes for them. Still, I'm thankful for the work they are doing and the five babies they had were precious. I would love to someday see or be a part of an orphanage that took in the street kids and worked almost like a boarding school, teaching kids to read and write in Arabic, but most importantly that taught them about Jesus's love. One more thing I will be praying about, feel free to pray too. 

As I held the babies and look back on these pictures I am so, so thankful for the home that I've grown in, for my parents who've taught me in truth (even when I was rebellious) who now have let me go overseas and encouraged me in this opportunity, how many parents let their sixteen year old daughter leave home for half a year? I am blessed. 

ps: for those of you who have blogs and leave comments, I haven't been able to answer any questions or read your blogs and I really do wish I could. But the internet here is very, very slow and it takes enough work to just put up a new post and reply to emails + messages. I'm sorry! 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

all is well

This week has been much, much better than the last. We are far more settled in. I suppose it's true what people say, no matter how hot it is or how hard it is to use a hole in the ground for a bathroom, you can get used to anything with time.

I sit here, with sweat rolling down my hands onto the keyboard, but I'm drinking carcidia, a sour-sweet drink made with hibiscus flowers. I'm reading emails from friends and looking at pictures that capture memories from yesterday. and oh, how good our God is.

here are some blessings from the past few days.

1. I now have a bed, a mosquito net, and crisp, new, yellow sheets. My room is much improved from last week.

2. for the first time in 14 years, I have my own room.

3. solar panels are up and going on the roof. We have the freezer going and a fan blowing on the napping Hadassa and the baby.

4. we are all well, no one sick.

5. quiet time this morning at five forty, when the sun was still fresh in the sky, was beautiful. especially since it was on the roof.

6. while I was on the roof, in the neighbor's tree two birds (I have no idea what kind they were - but they were at least three feet tall) had a mini fight and made the strangest calling I've ever heard a bird call.

7. we went to the neighbors (who have a cookie/biscuit business) and bought cookies. yum.

8. tonight we're meeting with a missionary family here, along with the other family on our team (the Hutts) to have fellowship and worship.

9. the landlord finally unlocked the bathroom (aka another whole in the ground BUT it has four walls and a door). okay . . . the landlord didn't unlock the bathroom. Mr Broten took a saw and sawed through it. yeah, we were pretty desperate.

10. instead of cooking and using a whole pack of matches (like last week), I used one match this time. improvement, maybe? ;)

Friday, July 12, 2013

the bus

It's been over a week since I woke up before dawn and said goodbye to the capital, over a week since we piled up into a bus crammed with people, bags, and obnoxiously loud Chadian music. I squeezed into a window sit next to an older woman holding a small potted tree and a bag of groceries, asked her name (then soon forgot it thereafter) and if she had any children. She had six, and they were eagerly waiting for her arrival in Abeche (the town that I'm now in).

When I had run out of things to say, since I don't know much Arabic, I turned my attention to gazing out the window. Soon the buildings, crowds of people, rubble and trash disappeared from sight. Instead miles and miles of dust (with a few scraggly bushes) were there for me to see. Occasionally we would drive by hills, which look like gigantic rocks simply growing out of the ground. Villages passed by, with mud huts and naked children waving at us on the bus.

And I, with my eyes wide, thought, I can't believe I'm really living this. It's hard to explain, this African adventure I've embarked on. Everything is sososo different than how I saw it when I was younger and we lived in Sudan, I'm seeing it with new eyes and as someone who is actually captured by Jesus, not being the little girl of those who are captured by Him. Everything is so different from my loved little town back in Kentucky.

We arrived here in Abeche fourteen hours later, hungry, tired, and me being in desperate need to use the restroom, but alive and well. The lady who I was sitting next to has listened to some of Bridget Mendler's album and has chewed American gum thanks to me. And I have seen enough of Africa's landscape to last me a good long while.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


The past week has been unlike any other I've experienced. We got to Abeche late last Wednesday and stayed at a guesthouse for two nights. It was that night, while getting ready for bed, that I thought to myself, "This is the first time in my sixteen years that I've ever had to live without running water."

And since we've moved into the house that we're in now, the house with the pretty blue tile and funky layout, life has been anything but easy. The water is hauled in every day or so by the boy who walks around town selling it. It's then dumped into one of our several blue barrels. To drink water, we fill up bottles and pour it in the water-filter inside, then wait for it to run through the filter so we can drink it.

The bathroom is a hole in the ground, called the warabeet, surrounded by (not four) but three walls. If you hear footsteps coming your way you simply call out, "Dageega!" Which, in Arabic, means wait a minute. I'm still getting used to the warabeet -- that includes the (not small, mind you) roaches and the rat I almost stepped on. I also peed on my headscarf. Yes, I guess you can say I'm still getting used to the warabeet . . .

Speaking of headscarves, women here keep their head covered. I'm also getting used to wearing a scarf, which is called tarha, anytime I step out the front door.

Food. The first day I got here I ate spaghetti off the lid of a barrel with six other people. We were all eating with our bare hands.  The bright side?  There's not as much dishes to wash. Fatuuma, a woman who comes in the mornings to help out, makes Chadian food for lunch. yum.

We haven't gotten the best sleep in the past week, the electricity comes on normally at sundown and stays on for a couple of hours. That's when my computer and iPod gets charged (gotta have music), and we soak up every second the ceiling fans are on. We end up on the roof some nights, enjoying the cool breeze and the stars.

As you can see, I have much to learn. And yes, though this week has seemed like we're barely surviving and it's probably been one of the hardest my life, it also easily could be the best week of my life. Why? I don't know, but maybe it's because through all this, though sometimes it seems like I have nothing, I have Jesus. And I'm learning, slowly but surely, how to truly be content, how to truly live.

this is me, the one who's never started a fire with coal, boiling water. and hey, the pasta didn't actually turn out that bad! 

ps: if you could, pray for three of the Broten kids who've been struggling with a fever and stomach bug. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

moving on

Early tomorrow morning I leave the capital and the compound and head out to Abeche with the Brotens (and the Hutts, the other family with our team). We take a bus for twelve hours through Chad and all the way to Abeche, the smaller town, where I'll be staying until I go back to the States in five months. 

The past month here at the compound has been an experience I wouldn't trade for anything. I've gotten to meet missionaries from all over the world and play soccer with little Korean boys (it's official: Koreans are better at soccer than Americans. at least I think so). I'll miss talking with Ahmed, the veggie guy, I'll miss the familiar wick-wack of the fans, and I'll miss weekly trips to Almond Dean, the French bakery. I'll miss being able to take a shower or being able to wash dishes in the sink, there's no running water in the house in Abeche. I'll miss the electricity and the lights (don't worry, I'll still have internet access through phone credit). And though I'll miss the walls of the compound around us, I'm ready to be in Abeche. 

I'm ready to be somewhere where we can settle in a little more, where I can start learning more Arabic, where we can make friends with the neighbors and visit with them. I'm ready to start forming relationships with the people. 

and boy, am I excited!