Secret is Out!!!

First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you for your love and support. It means more to me than you will ever know!

In one of my first blogs about Kenya, I wrote about the school and talked about the needs of a library. I also talked about how I had 50 students in my class and the school only had about 100 books for the entire primary school. The issue with only having 100 books is that the primary school consists of classes for kids from 3 years old to 5th grade and in just my one grade level alone, there were 50 kids. I also want to give the kids the opportunity to further their reading skills because I know they can go far. So, with that being said, I am opening a library in the Global One School, which is where I volunteered this past summer! This has been something that has been on my heart since I came home from Kenya. I have already booked my plane ticket back to Kenya, which is super exciting!! I will be heading back to Kenya March 3rd and will come home on March 8th. I will be in the country for a full 3 days, yes I know this is crazy, but I am fully trusting God right now.

With that being said, I am starting a book collection and will continue collecting books until it’s time for me to pack my suitcase on March 2nd. I am collecting books in English and between age 3 years old to high school level. If we need to arrange a time for me to grab books that you have collected, I will be more than willing to do that!

I will be writing a letter explaining this past summer, where the books are going, and what not. So, I can email that to you if you would like to send something out to your friends, family, coworkers, schools, churches, etc.

I am continuing to cling tight to 1 Peter 5:7, which says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  I am afraid of the what if’s because this territory is so unknown to me, but I am giving it all to the Father.

 

Please let me know if you have any more questions!

Kylee.henneman@gmail.com

704-626-8722

 

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The End…. For a Hot Second

As I finish reflecting on my time in Kenya I think of the joy, personal struggles, heartache I had while walking along the railroad tracks. I also think of the excitement the kids had every morning when I arrived and the love my host mom showed me.

Joy: I remember it giving me much joy while walking down the street into Kibera and seeing the happiness the people had with what little they had. Joy, when the teacher threw me in and I had absolutely nothing planned and the plans I came up with on the spot worked flawlessly. Joy, when I had the opportunity to hear what each and every child wanted to be when they grow up and allowing them to dream big no matter their circumstances, because I know that they are able.

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Personal Struggles: I go back to sitting in the Amsterdam airport waiting to board my flight to Kenya, breaking down and feeling inadequate and unable to go. Of course, I called my mom and she said everything was going to be alright. I was running on 6 hours of sleep and had entered into my 22nd hour of full on travel and I was exhausted. I was worried about the unknown and the “what if’s”. Through it all, God had his hand on me and never let me go for one second. I was fine once I arrived in Kenya and could not have asked for a better arrival group that I had! Then, my next thought of personal struggle was when it was orientation day. I had been in the country for 2 and a half days and had gotten used to the people I was living with, used to the family I was staying with, and used to the kids who greeted me every time I walked out to the streets. During orientation, we got to a large room and people just started flooding in. The amount of people in that room felt overwhelming and I can remember sitting there in silence, praying that the Lord would wrap his loving arms around me and he did just that. I could feel the warmth, felt at peace, and then told Him, “here I am, you have sent me and I am ready for this.”

This was my first home I stayed and the friends I made there!

The Heart Ache: I walked over the railroad tracks everyday to get to the school house, but never understood what really happened along the tracks. One of my last days, Vincent (the headmaster) asked if I wanted a tour around Kibera; I, of course, said yes. We weaved our way through the people, dogs, piki pikis, and anything else you could think of. I was amazed when Vincent told me that trains still actively travel along these tracks. I would be worried if a train came through during the day and the shops set up along the tracks were there. We walked a little further down to find where most of Kibera’s trash is filtered down to a stream that runs through Kibera. After taking that in for a little bit, we headed over to Global One’s “sister” school. This school was under renovation, so it was very chaotic. It was also the last day of school and the parents were coming in for parent teacher conferences. It is hard for me to express exactly how I felt while on the tour around Kibera because it was such a raw experience. Maybe one day you can plan a trip to Kibera and then you will fully understand it. 😉

IMG_2361(If you would like to see more images you can email me directly at kylee.henneman@gmail.com)

The excitement the kids had when I walked around the corner: This was my favorite thing every single morning! I would make my way down to the school house and I would get there every morning right after their time for pourage. With that being said, the kids would be cleaning their dishes, yes cleaning their own dishes! I would walk around the corner and hear, “Teacher! Teacher! Teacher!” So many kids came running to give me hugs! Y’all, it was literally the sweetest thing ever and warmed my heart each morning! For those of you who know me and understand my affection love language, you know exactly how this felt for me!

I don’t have pictures of this exact experience because I tried to keep it real, but here are some pictures of the sweet faces!

The love my host Mom showed me: Momma Sarah was the sweetest lady! She was so willing to make everybody to feel as comfortable as possible. Sarah and Miriam ran the volunteer house, cooked, cleaned, and provided whatever help they could. Momma Sarah and Miriam taught me how to make a famous recipe called mandazi. It was basically like a fried dough kind of taste, but super good! Momma Sarah also took me to the market to get fitted for my authentic Kenyan clothing. I remember so vividly the protection I felt while in the market. We were walking back through the market and this man grabbed me firmly and kept telling me to buy something for him. I continuously said no, but he was not letting go; so Momma Sarah came to help me and told the man to let me go and leave me alone. I was super thankful that she was there during the situation.

IMG_2680Momma Sarah is the lady beside me!

I hope you enjoyed the summary of my trip! Next week I will be back to the blog writing with a HUGE announcement. I know I keep saying this, but know it is worth the wait and that I am so excited to share the secret!

 

Much Love,

Kylee Henneman

BIG Guns and Mama Regina

Thursday was an interesting day! The day before, teacher Judith told me that the kids would be taking their Swahili exam, so I told her I would come a little later after the exam. We stayed in a townhome that was in a “gated” community with 24/7 protected security by men in the Kenyan army. As I was leaving, I said good morning to the security guards with BIG guns. No, this wasn’t my first time seeing security guards with big guns, but every time I do see them, it sure is intimidating. This morning was a tad bit different; I stopped and had an amazing conversation with them! We talked about our families, jobs, traveling, religion and everybody’s favorite – politics. Y’all, they know so much about our politics it literally amazed me. Now, since going there during the time of the election season and keeping up with their politics since being back, I know about their politics. Before going to Kenya, I didn’t know anything about their politics. Many people, and the US government, warned me when going there that there could be possible violence during the time of the elections. During my time in Kenya, there were a lot of protests, but nothing that made me feel uncomfortable enough for me not go to my placement or anything else I might have wanted to do. During the election in 2007, massive violent protests broke out and it was not good for Kibera where my placement was. After having our different topics of conversation, I finally looked down at my watch and it was 1 in the afternoon!!! I decided to not go to the school because by the time I would have gotten there it would almost be time for the kids to head home. So, after saying my goodbyes to the guards with the big guns, I headed home. I had made plans that morning to go to the Maasai market with a sweet couple from Raleigh, N.C. Yes, North Carolina- I know; it’s a super small world! God totally prepared for this couple to come at the same time as me; the couple had been to Kenya many times before and knew what they were doing! We spent time at the market and I bought many of the handmade treasures! We then headed to lunch at Java House, which is a cute café in the mall area and they served coffee and pastries! After we finished eating, we headed to visit a man named George. He is the guy who made the amazing sandals that I brought back! After picking out my sandals and putting in custom orders, we headed to Mama Regina’s house. I had no idea what to expect! The wife told me what Mama Regina does in the community and that she goes to different schools in the area to teach them about Jesus and to just love on the kids. Mama Regina also hosts a bible study for kids in Kibera and runs the bible study in her home. During the bible study, the kids get pour age (porridge?) before and rice and beans for lunch. When we got there, we were greeted with a HUGE smile and a big, warm hug! Mama Regina welcomed us into her home to sit and chat for a while. A church that the couple knows sent 40 usd for them to buy rice once they got down here. To put 40 usd into perspective, that buys about 10 weeks worth of rice for the bible study! Mama Regina had no idea that the church was doing this, so the wife, Mama Regina’s son, and I headed to a wholesale place where we could buy rice. We went and bought it and headed back to surprise Mama Regina with the rice! We got there and Mama Regina started tearing up as soon as she found out the rice was for the bible study. She said that she and a co-leader, who helps her cook, were praying the past few days for food because they were nearing the end of their last bag of rice. She told us she was so worried because the meal that they get at the bible study might be their only meal for the weekend. It made me tear up seeing her so excited and grateful for the food for the kids. It was amazing to see our awesome God work like that in mighty ways! Mama Regina invited me to the bible study she was having that Saturday. On that day I truly enjoyed meeting the locals and they blessed me more than they will ever know!

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At the bible study the Saturday I left!

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My helper! He sure was sweet!

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Enjoying the breakfast snack!

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The kiddos hanging out before we started the bible study!

Ready or Not!

I got up and ready to head down to my placement. It’s about a 30-minute walk and I try to get there between 8:30-9. The day before I talked to the headmaster about being able to help in the primary school, I, of course told him that if they needed more help in the secondary school I would work wherever. Without hesitation, he told me I could work in the primary school. So, once I got to the school and met with the headmaster, he briefed me on some things I needed to know before stepping into the classroom. He informed me that I would be working with “Class 2” and with a lady named Judith. The headmaster was walking me to the classroom and I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the class. I didn’t go in with high expectations of what I would be doing with the kids. In orientation, they briefly discussed how things might go; they said that it could either be observing, taking over the class for a few things, or having complete control over the classroom. The noise got louder and louder the closer we got to the class. When we arrived at my assigned classroom, the headmaster introduced me to Teacher Judith and then introduced me to the class. When the kids greeted me, it brought me back to when I was in AIS at Independence; all the kids stood up and greeted me with “Good Morning Teacher Kylee” and then the teacher “dismissed” them to sit down. There were 50 students, ages 7 and 8, all whom had a lot of energy. Yes, they had a lot of energy, but were all well behaved from what I could tell. The classroom was as big as my bedroom back home. It was packed in there, which didn’t really surprise me.

When I got in there, the kids were in the middle of their math exam, so of course they were distracted by me and were really excited about a muzungu (meaning: white person) being in their class. I sat there for the first few minutes just observing and what not, then Teacher Judith asked if I wanted to proctor, so I of course said “yes.” I loved being thrown right in and asked to help. Finally, after 25 questions, we were done with exams!! The kids took their 15-minute bathroom and pourage break. This gave Teacher Judith and I a time to chat and learn more about each other. She had a rough life; her mother died when she was a teenager, had a mean step mom, had a child with a man and the relationship didn’t end well. Despite her circumstances and above it all, she still finds JOY in her everyday life. She doesn’t have a degree, but she is determined to earn one. She was in one of her last years of school, has an 8 year old daughter and is coming to teach everyday. I’m so glad I got to meet Teacher Judith and hear part of her incredible story.

The kids headed back to the classroom and were very eager to get started on the next thing! Teacher Judith threw me right in once again and asked me if I had anything planned. I did not have a single thing planned because I had no idea what to expect or what class I would end up in, so I didn’t bring anything at all with me to class. I faked it until I made it on this day! I first started by reading them some stories and doing reading comprehension activities with them; they loved the read aloud stories. I read one story about the different types of weather and what you do on those days. The thing that put things into perspective was that when I was asking them what they do on these days, the kids answered fetching water on rainy, sunny, cloudy and windy days. They have to go out and fetch water to be able to take a bath, cook, or brush their teeth. I ended up having many of these kinds of moments.

During lunchtime, the kids are served rice and beans everyday. I think what shocked me the most is that they had to bring their own bowl and if they wanted to eat with a spoon, they had to bring their own spoon. Some kids brought spoons, while others ate with their hands (and that was completely normal for them). I totally ate with my hands a few times while eating there. Each child brought their dish up to the front of the classroom and the class had 2 lunch helpers. The helpers were in charge of scooping out the rice and beans to serve to the kids. It was honestly complete chaos while al of this was going and they were serving, but everybody was served. I left soon after lunch because the kids were headed to computers. Before I left Teacher Judith asked me to come earlier the next day so I could proctor the English exam.

I was then done with my placement for the day and headed back to the volunteer house to hang out and reflect on my day. I had such a great time, even though it was crazy and hectic! I was willing to go back the next with a smile on my face and made sure I went prepared the next day!

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My beautiful class of 47 students!IMG_0508

Lunch time!!IMG_0509

My sweet helper! She was always ready to help!IMG_0520

My “stage” while I was there! Chalkboards are actually kind of cool! 😛IMG_0540

Proctoring an exam!!

Hello Unknown, nice to meet you!

Today was the first day of my placement of where I would be teaching! I was so nervous and excited, more excited than nervous for sure! A man named Dan took a group of us on our first day of placement (I set up the person through my point person in Kenya… no worries he wasn’t a stranger or a rando who said he knew where I was going from the street – I’m confused what you’re talking about here). Dan took us into the largest slum in East Africa, which is Kibera. Trust me, I didn’t believe it either, so I googled it and sure enough, it is. A mile into our walk the sights were completely different from where we started. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the sights and a sense of stress came over me. I remember praying, “Lord protect me, you know where Dan is leading us, but I do not.” I learned later on in my trip that Kibera got so large because people come into the city of Nairobi looking for a job and end up not being able to find one, so they are forced to the slum because it is all that they can afford. People in the slum of Kibera make less than 2 dollars a day. We finally made it to Global One School. It was a school just over the railroad tracks; there was a primary school and a secondary school. Dan dropped us off and left us there for our first day of placement. The head teacher (principal) took us on a tour of the school. We started at the primary school, which consisted of kids from 3 years old to 4th grade. I was shocked to see the classrooms; I had seen pictures before, but it was completely different to see them in person. We then took a short walk over to the secondary school, which was close. We toured the classrooms and noticed that there was a teacher’s lounge in the secondary school. We then headed to the high school that was being built! It was really amazing to see the growth and how far they have come from just a primary school now all the way up to a high school.

Funny story: So since the high school wasn’t done I was able to go up on the roof and look onto Kibera. I made my way up and the head master followed. I, of course, had many questions about the slum, but the head master had questions for me as well. He asked if I knew Clinton, and at first I was like well yeah I know who he is and that he was the President of the United States. But the head master thought I knew him personally and then I changed my answer to I know who he is but not personally. Undoubtedly Bill Clinton built this housing you could see from the roof and they are really proud of that housing in Kibera.

The kids were taking exams during my first day so I was sitting in the teacher’s lounge with all the other teachers. I knew the kids were taking exams, but I honestly thought that there was a proctor in the classroom giving the exams and that is why the teachers were sitting in the lounge. I asked if I could walk around and peak inside the classrooms and they said that I could. I was surprised when I went into the classroom and there was NOBODY in the classroom!! These kids were taking an end of the semester test, so I was so taken back from the fact that there weren’t any adults in the classroom! The kids were taking a writing exam, the prompt was “A trip to the national park”. They allowed me to grade this exam, which was interesting. While reading them I saw the theme of going to the national park with school and only had a few going to the national park with family. I also read one that talked about how the driver was a good driver because he didn’t drink or do drugs while driving, also if the cops pulled them over he wouldn’t get in trouble or get in a wreck. I couldn’t help but to think that this child was probably in this kind of situation to be able to write a whole paragraph about the driver and how he was a good one. It just broke my heart to read that story.

This concluded my first day of placement and I was assigned my first assignment to finish grading the exams.

 

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Looking out over KiberaIMG_0485

Standing on top of the high school that was being built

Fear of the Unknown

July 13th I set out for the biggest journey of my life. I was headed to a land that was unknown, to people that were unknown to me. I never thought that I would have actually been so willing to get to the airport and hop on a plane, but I found myself sitting on a plane headed to Kenya. Yeah, I went to Nicaragua all by myself, but I knew people who were already there. In Kenya, I did not know who I would be working with, where I would be staying, who would be picking me up from the airport. There was only one time that I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to do this. It was after I had been up for a full 24 hours and two legs of travel done. Thankfully this freak out happened in the Amsterdam airport, so there was no going back and I was not going to let myself turn around at this point. After an exhausting 29 hours, I had finally made it to Kenya! I was so excited to get off the plane and go through immigration and to be able to stand up! A nine-hour flight is brutal when you’re on the window seat. I made my way to immigration. I was nervous because I got my visa ahead of time, so I was worried that I did not do it right and was going to be denied entry. There were so many people who were in line for the non-Kenyan immigration line and only 3 people working that section. I stood in line for almost 2 hours. They finally started redirecting people to different types of entries. My guy was not in the best mood. He drilled my innocent-self with questions and at the end of interrogation, told me with a serious look that he was going to come find me. After getting my stamp to enter the country, I headed down to claim my luggage. Thankfully all my bags got there unharmed! I headed out of the airport to find the person who was picking me up. My biggest relief was when I saw a guy holding a sign with the organization’s name. We headed to where we would be staying until we got our placement. We were staying at Pastor Regina’s house. It was very comfortable, with hot water, electricity, and a bed. The next morning we had breakfast, which consisted of toast and boiled eggs. After breakfast we walked outside to check out our surroundings to see what everything looked like and to take in the atmosphere. We met quite a few of the kids who were living in the neighborhood. I had so much fun being able to make some of my first relationships with these kids and loving on them! After hanging out we headed to the closest mall with wifi. I had such a great time at my first homestay, but things were about to change since the next day was orientation and we would figure out our official placement!IMG_2013The sunrise as we made our way to Amsterdam!IMG_2018Flying over Egypt! SOOOOO much desert!!!IMG_0446Brenda was the sweetest! This was at my first placement!IMG_2024These girls were super awesome!! This was at my first placement!

Heigh Ho Heigh Ho…

Off to Africa I go! Yes, I am headed to Africa for two weeks this summer! I am going to give y’all a brief overview of my life since my last blog and then talk about my super awesome journey I will be taking this summer!

I am near the end of my second year in college. Since I will soon be done with taking classes at CPCC, I had to decide where I would go to finish my degree. I had already been preparing for this moment; I spent a lot of time in reflection over the summer and took some time to visit colleges. I have now found where I hope to make my true home away from home. I am excited to say that I will complete my Elementary Education degree at Appalachian State University. I am looking forward to this new season in my life, such as finding new friends, housing, church, and so much more. I’m so ready to pour into this new community that I will be apart of!

I had a really great first semester this past year. I was nominated to be apart of the honor society Phi Theta Kappa and made the dean’s list. These were two huge accomplishments in my academic career. In high school I was never the person who excelled in education and to be honest, I didn’t have the drive like I do now. Because of that, my grades suffered in high school. I had a super high first semester, but once I returned for the spring semester I have been suffering. I really struggled to get back in the swing of things and I became hateful towards my education. I found myself in a deep slump. I was so thankful to have a much-needed Spring Break! I was able to use the time to just rest and not think about the next assignment that was due. I can say that since being back to classes and back to my daily routine, I am back to enjoying classes and excelling in my classes!

Now to the stuff you really want to read about..:P

I am heading to Kenya, Africa around July 15th and will be there until July 29th.  I am working with an organization called International Volunteer HQ. While there, I will be volunteering at a school. I will mainly be a teacher assistant in either a government school or a community school, in the city of Nairobi. There is a classroom between Kindergarten up to 5th grade, which is where I will be working most of the time. I’m so excited because while I am there I will be living with a family in the community and a few other volunteers.

So, most of you have figured out that this organization is not a Christian organization. I am seeing it as an opportunity to share the love of Christ, such as sharing His love in the classroom, the home I’ll be living in, among the other volunteers, and during any extracurricular activities. My passion in life is to see every child have the same educational opportunities that I have had over the many years. I know that this is only a two-week trip, but so much can happen during these two weeks. This trip might be a trip to just plant a seed in a classroom or the family’s life I am going to be staying with. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” God will grow these seeds after I am gone. I fully believe that God has somebody prepared to go after me, to water these seeds.

Now that you have gotten a little bit of my vision for my trip and also what I will be doing, I would like to first off ask you for your prayers. This is my main focal point right now.

Prayer Request:

  • For the Lord to continue to prepare my heart for this trip.
  • For Him to soften the hearts of the community I will be surrounded by.
  • For boldness to speak when the Holy Spirit leads me to.
  • For peace and comfort while preparing and also while I am there.

These are just a few that were on my mind right away.

I am raising financial support for this trip. The most expensive part of my trip is going to be airfare. I do have a program fee that covers my housing, meals, transportation and an on ground point person while there. The program fee is $370 for the two weeks I will be there. I’m really hoping to get my flight for less than $2,000. These are the only 2 main expenses I will have. I will also need to get a travel visa, insurance and vaccinations.

The first fundraiser I am doing that all proceeds will go to this trip is a t-shirt. I will put a picture below. They are $20 and I hope to put the order in by the beginning of May. I would love to sell 50 t-shirts! This is just a personal goal for me. If you are interested in buying one you can get in touch with me the easiest way possible for you. If you live a distance away from me, I am willing to ship you the shirt! J

Email: kylee.henneman@gmail.com

Phone: Call/Text – 704-626-8722

You can comment on this blog or however is easiest for you!

THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH for your continued prayers and support! I am so thankful for each of you!

Below is the shirt!

Kylee Henneman Shirt 2