Wednesday, August 28, 2013

disgustingly dirty

You'd think that the longer I've been a Christian the more I'd feel proud of myself for becoming more like Jesus. Yeah right (first off, being proud is sin, remember Kendra?). Everyday I find out more and more how disgustingly dirty I am. Unless I'm having a day where I'm so stuck up in pridefulness that I think I'm perfect. Ugh. 

Jesus pointed out earlier this week how much I care about what people think. And how much that needs to stop. I care about other people and most of the time people say I'm kind. So I'm not the sort of person who doesn't care about others. But I'm seeing how twisted and ugly and horrible I've been. While other people think I'm sweet and gentle for being a servant, I'm not fully doing it for them. I'm being sweet and gentle on the outside just so people will like me more. Those words make me cringe. Even part of me is writing this post so when people are done reading it they'll say, "Wow, Kendra is so brave and humble to post something like this." 

So there, the truth is out. I want to live free. That doesn't mean I don't care about others or what they think, but it means that I don't care what others think of ME. I want to love others, in the hard and the easy, in the good and the bad. And not just so that they'll love me back. I want to love with His love -- not my corrupt way of loving. 

"For I don't understand my own actions. I don't do what I want, and do what I hate! . . . For I know nothing good dwells in me, that is, my flesh. I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out . . . For I delight in the law of God in my inner being. But I see in my members another law waging agains the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin. What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"  from Romans 7

Saturday, August 24, 2013

the camel ride

I'd ridden a camel once before, when I was in Jordan and eight years old. I don't remember much of it. So when a friend teaching English here (who sadly leaves Chad in less than a week) invited me to come along with her and a couple of other missionaries to ride camels, you bet I was ready to go.  The best part? It only cost twelve bucks to ride for an hour.

The ride was bumpy and hard to do in a skirt, but an experience I'll never forget. Most of the time during the ride I was clinging to the horn of the "saddle" and staring out at the scenery. Camels roam here outside of the city, along with sheep, goats, cattle and donkeys. Mountains, like giant rock formations that look as if they've been slammed into the Earth, loom in the distance.

Everything here is so different and I have to pinch myself sometimes to reassure myself that yes, it's really happening. That doesn't mean I don't have hard days. Difference can be difficult. But I'm learning, slowly slowly (or as they say here in Chad, hubba hubba), how to find beauty in the easy and in the hard.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

to Dad

I realized I hadn't blogged for awhile when my dad wrote in his most recent email, "Oh, it's been five days since you've blogged. Just so you know. :-)" He always does that smiley face. 

So yes, it's been five days since I've blogged. And hear are the five excuses, um, I mean reasons that I haven't blogged. 

  1. The pictures on my camera from the camel ride I took last week won't seem to load onto my computer. Yes, I went on a camel ride and haven't blogged about it . . . whoops . . . 
  2. The internet is sooo slow and it feels like more work to get a blog post up. Especially with pictures. It's much easier to load emails and watch an episode of the Brady Bunch. 
  3. The electricity has been off for awhile (and might not be on for a few weeks) and I don't want to "waste" my computer battery by blogging . . . ha, since when has blogging been a waste of time? 
  4. My friend's blogs about their new experiences at college are much more interesting for me to read. I hold you responsible, Rachel Bennett. 
  5. I want to blog about my little sis's birthday, but I feel awful because I can't remember if her birthday is on the 22nd or 26th of August. 
Now that I've gotten all excuses set aside, look forward to a post about my camel ride adventure tomorrow. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013


It's astonishing how much things can change in a couple of months. In the past two months, things have certainly been very, very different for me. Not only have I left my family who I've never been away from for more than a week, I've come to live in the middle of Africa with another family. The good things are that this family is a lot like mine, I've lived in Africa before, and I like exciting things.

That is, if you find your mattress sopping wet from the roof leaks in your room and five dead roaches on the floor you've been sleeping on for a week exciting. (Gotta love Chad, you know, there's always something to laugh about).

So it's no wonder I've been trying to make all these new "traditions". For example: movie/candy/game/sleepover Friday night with Nehemiah and Evangeline, pancakes and fried apples on Saturday mornings, painting my nails on Sunday, and every afternoon at 1pm watching the Brady Bunch. My family has never been too much of a "traditiony" family, even if we do have homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast every Christmas morning. (We have those cinnamon rolls whether we're at Grandma's in the States or in Egypt. And I can't wait to have them when I get home.)

I guess I've just been craving some normal things, in this place where everything is different. Call me  crazy for making up a tradition where I paint my nails on Sunday, but the Saturday morn pancakes are pretty good.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


(above) Fatuuma (the lady who comes to help us with laundry and lunch), Hadassa, Evangeline, and Athanasius enjoying lunch that Fatuuma made. 

Mealtimes for the first month that we were here in Abeche were simple. We had dry quick oats with sugar and powdered milk, or in my case, without the powdered milk. Fatuuma would come for lunch most of the time and make us some good Chadian food over the fire. For dinner we would get bread at the ducan and have hard boiled eggs every night. It's funny, but even after a month of eating them every day, I still really like hard boiled eggs.

Now, since we aren't in "survival mode" anymore, and we have a stove, we've gotten a little more creative with the food. Last Saturday I made pancakes with fried apples and I'm planning on making them every Saturday. Mrs. Broten made an egg-bake. We had tortillas yesterday and banana bread. I also made brownies from a mix some friends left last night. So we certainly aren't surviving anymore.

Lunches are usually the biggest and most interesting meal. Chadians eat with their hands over one plate, but now that we have bowls and spoons, we use them. When I eat with Chadians I eat with my hands, but that's a story for another post. Lunches that we have usually are foul (beans with onions and tomatoes), rice and lentils, beef stew, tdameya (chick peas fried into patties), carcanjee (sour leaves with rice and meat), and meat with potatoes on bread. Believe it or not, carcanjee is my favorite.

Monday, August 12, 2013

thankful for . . .

I'm thankful for . . .

// when the electricity unexpectedly turns on.
// the fact that I can't do it, but He can.
// that there's a possibility I could ride a camel this weekend.
// visits from the neighbor girls.
// movies on Saturdays. 
// our (Nehemiah, Evangeline, and I) new tradition of sleeping on the roof on Friday nights.
// that we, after cooking over a coal fire for a month, now have a stove! 
// majestic African sunsets (seems to be all I take pics of . . . sorry). 
// family and friends back at home who just sent packages.
// the fact that I have people back at home praying and thinking about me. I'm so blessed. 
// all the encouraging messages, comments and emails I've gotten lately.
// phone calls across the world with my friend Lauren. 
// Monopoly games with Nehemiah and Evangeline. 
// tea. 
// Chadian cookies. yum.
// being able to pray for all my friends back at home who are starting school or heading off to college.
// listening to new music, it took all night to download four songs. But still worth it. 
// finding out that there's no such thing as awkward silence in Chad. (whew, bc half the time I don't know what to say) 
// walks to the ducan (small shop down our street) to get muppa (bread). 
// surprise visits from beautiful and strange birds. 
// clean sheets, dried and smelling fresh from the sun. 
// the stars, that are so much closer and brighter here. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013


I have to be honest with you all. And myself. 

There are days when I feel like I can't do it anymore. Days like today, and last night. I've been really good with clinging to Jesus, with learning to be thankful all the time. I've seen the truth, or as some people call it, looked on the bright side of things. 

But sometimes I get tired of doing what's right. Every single little thing a person does annoys me to death. I get tired of doing the dishes or picking up things or answering the billionth question that one of the Broten kids has for me. While although yes, I still do the dishes, I grumble and complain instead. I choose lies, and I reject joy. 

I don't want to wear the stupid scarf over my head when I step out of the house, I want to wear jeans. I don't want to stay in the house one more day, I want to hop in a car with one of my friends, roll the windows down, and turn the music up. I want to pull my hair into a ponytail and go for a good long run. I start to lose sight, how did I ever find joy in this life? 

When I can't dump out one more bucket of dirty water, when I can't take one more step, when I can't find joy one more moment, when I can't choose thankfulness, when I can't love one more single person, He does. 

I have no good in me. I am full of selfishness, of ungratefulness, of self-pity, and of filth. But when I ask for His love, for His joy -- He gives freely. 

What joy - knowing He gives, He loves (more than I ever could) - this brings me! The least I can do is see with these eyes He's given, the least I can do is pick up my cross daily, and follow, the least I can do is fall more in love with Him. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

my first marriage proposal

It was all very romantic. We were listening to One Thousand Reasons, all alone in the living room. That's when Athanasius Broten (more commonly known as "Scooter") looked up at me, with his big blue eyes and said, "Let's dance, okay Kendra?" 

I picked up the four-year-old Scooter and we "danced". It was about halfway through the song when he remarked, "One day I'll be holding you when we dance." 

"Oh really?" I said. 

"Yes. Will you marry me?"  

I swallowed a laugh. "Don't you think I'm a bit old for you?" 

"I'm old enough because I have a invisible beard that goes all the way to my butt." He said. 

"Well, shouldn't you have a job to provide for me?" 

Scooter stood up straight. "Yes, my job is to obey God." 

I told him no, because he's too much younger than me, but later on that night he proceeded to ask me to marry him again. By this time the whole Broten family knew about it and it became a big joke. 

Here's a pic of me and my lovely (not really) husband to be. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

a typical day

(the big blue barrels to the left are where the water is kept, the red tubs are for washing and rising clothes, the tan buckets to the back hold trash and compost, and the pile of clothes in the corner are ready to be washed)


5:30ish am // be up with the sun, Jesus time, early start to the day
7 // eat, dishes, laundry, any other chores, if time say hi to Afra (our neighbor)
10 // study (I only brought a little bit of school that I've done over the summer and continue to do)
11:30 // art with Evangeline (the oldest Broten girl)
12 // read Lord of the Rings to Nehemiah (the oldest Broten kid) and talk about it
12:30-1ish // lunch, cleanup
1 // if internet is on emails and blogging, read, journal, art
3 // guitar, take some pix, whatever needs to be done, play games with kids, visit neighbors, take a walk, get dinner ready
6 // eat, chores, shower, read, phone call home, write on my book
9 // be in bed

This is what my days have been looking like. Of course the schedule often gets changed a lot, either by a neighbor coming to visit, or someone in the family being sick or anything really.

As you can see, we do a lot of what I call "surviving", which is making food, eating it, cleaning it up, getting clean ourselves . . . and starting all over again. It takes a little getting used to, at first I didn't like it, but now it's just one of the many reasons I love Chad. Life is so much more simple here.

Throughout the day I sometimes think, "We could spend so much more time witnessing to the people in this neighborhood if we had a dishwasher, or a stove, or a laundry machine. We could save so many hours of work!" But now that I think about it, the neighbors (who already think we're pretty strange), wouldn't have much in common with us if we had machines to do work or hired someone else to do all of it (though we are very blessed to have Fatuuma come and help us almost everyday and make a meal and do laundry). Not that we should do everything Chadians do (we have spoons now and actually use them), but as much as we can.

I guess I'm crazy for saying it, and at first I didn't really enjoy it, but now I love the simplicity here. and here's a pic of me washing the day's laundry, it's actually pretty fun!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

my room

I guess most of you laughed when, in one of my posts, I said that for the first time in 15 years I had my own room. Yes, it's part storage room and the glass door doesn't quite shut, but it's my very own room! In case you didn't know, storage boxes stacked up make great bookshelves. 

The picture that I did have of the seven storage boxes on the left side of the room didn't load, but here are a couple more. 

This is the view that you get when you enter the room. My bed is in the center of the room -- whenever the electricity comes on (it usually comes on at night) I take advantage of it. The walls are a bit dirty, but I cleaned them off as best as I could. I think some of the dirt on it is just stained . . . 

For those of you who are wondering what the blue thing is on my bed, it's a mosquito net. Here in Chad mosquitos carry malaria so we're extra careful and try not to get bit. Before I had a mosquito net that was treated (which means that whenever the mosquitoes touched it they would die), but for days my skin was itching terribly and it turns out I must've been allergic to the net, because whenever I got this non-treated one the itching stopped. And yes, that is pink toilet paper . . . I have a cold and in Chad, the best stuff to use is this toilet paper. I don't think I've even seen regular toilet paper since I left the capital! 

This is my second bed/floor couch. Whatever you want to call it. The Brotens normally end up using this mattress outside at night to sleep on, but they needed somewhere to put it during the day and it makes a great place to sit since I can't use my bed with the mosquito net. 

And so there you have it -- the tour of my Chadian room. I'm running out of ideas of what to post about so if there's anything you'd like to see on the blog, just leave a comment.