Wednesday, May 9, 2012

bringin' blogging back...

Well hello world and all of you out there in blog land. I'm really not sure if anyone has noticed my absence, flattering as it would be if you did notice that I haven't blogged in months...but just to update you, I have taken a brief pilgrimage from blogging. Not on purpose, I really did enjoy having a space to present good causes and share my journey of love because that is what it's all about, right?!

So, here I sit at Panera Bread enjoying a bagel with a warm cup of coffee (if you know me you know this is my favorite combo) and I got inspired to write again.  I have a true inspiration, really I do...and maybe that's what I needed in order to feel like I really had something worth reading...maybe I really do miss blogging (I have you captivated already I know) :)

So, here is the inspiration!  You know how the story goes where Jesus calls his followers to look after the widows and orphans of the world, loving and caring for the least of these. Well, recently I teamed up with  students from the UNC School of Nursing who generously gathered medical supplies for the orphanage I served at this past summer in Africa.  We raised everything from first aid cleaning supplies to feminine products and over the counter medications.  Praise the Lord, it was such an amazing turn out!! I have a picture that I will share soon of all the supplies raised.  This is a cause that I hope can be an ongoing source of supplies for the children of St. Dorcas.  Myself as well as two other volunteers that have kept in touch have already sent two overflowing boxes of uniforms for the children which is an incredible opportunity as the clothes the children were wearing achieved no sort of real use due to the holes and extreme wear and tear they possessed.  I also have a picture of their smiling faces in their new clothes which I will post as well.  The headmistress of the orphanage has kept a very close relationship with myself and the two other women and she is constantly updating us and thanking us for our gratitude.

Does this strike a cord with you, tug at your heart?  Looking for a cause to support?  I am not trying to solicit but yet use a platform that I have established to achieve good.  Please contact me if you would like to donate or are looking for how to get involved.

More to come with this, for now I will stop there because I must leave and hang out with my sister, niece, and nephew (oh yea, that's new news as well!!...I have the sweetest most precious nephew in the world)

With love,


Friday, October 21, 2011


good morning! it has been ages since i wrote last (i am sure all of you have noticed--on the edge of your seats for me to write again). i feel inspired this morning. i have the day off, and i started it with a pink ribbon bagel and hazelnut coffee from panera bread...if this combo isn't inspiring, i don't know what is!

so i am currently reading this book the me i want to be, which has been the mediator of much reflection in my life.  doesn't it make sense that each of us was created for unique purposes, but how often do we find that everything around us is working against this goal, molding us into who they think we should be?

so, i pose this question, "what makes you feel fully alive", and maybe even start thinking about if you are fulfilling the you you were meant to be?  I can guarantee you that we will all have different answers.

please share in the comments below :)

i will start, what makes me feel fully alive is when i am helping people heal, either physically or emotionally. there is absolutely nothing better in this world, to me, than being part of someone's story of healing and restoration!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

pause for a cause

you know the phrase, when life hands you lemons make lemonade? this is the "half-full" optimistic thinking that helps you make the most of what life hands you. the same is true for moments in life that give you a chance to "pause for a cause." it is so easy to get caught up in your own schedule, your own agenda, but there is a world of true need out there. i just received an email from my friend melanie today that cause me to do just that, pause for a great cause. the saying goes it is better to give than to receive. i love being given the chance to give and i want to extend that chance for those of you who share the same thinking. there is a place in LA called the Dream Center where 700 people who are victims of sexual trafficking, drug addicts, and homeless people. read this blog and pause to think if its a cause worth your time...i believe it is :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

tuesdays with kelly :)

i am currently sitting in one of my favorite places in the world, starbucks, listening to music, staying awake for my second week of night shift beginning tomorrow night. i realize while sitting here that it has been weeks since i last blogged. my purpose for this blog was africa, and when it ended i feel like my purpose for writing kind of ended as well, but as i was sitting here in my nice cozy chair sipping on my coffee, i got an urge to write. i am sorry to say this post will lack some of the gusto my previous posts have had, however i will try to keep your attention, but it will be mere curiosity more so than my edgy and eventful writing that will keep you reading i am afraid (have i lost you yet)?

first off, my adjustment period after arriving home was hastened due to orientation at work, which i am absolutely loving by the way. i count it as pure joy that i am able to look forward to work-not only that, but i smile and laugh and have an excuse to be goofy and excessively lovey on my little ones!  every now and then i catch myself thinking of my friends i left in africa and i stop and catch my breath and pray for them. i don't know if many of you are aware, but there is a severe drought in the horn of africa (somalia) and just recently in the news was an article on how aid is being sabotaged due to a jihadist group. doesn't this just make you stop and think, amidst our own issues-which are very real, don't get me wrong-but, i don't know about you, today i got to choose what i wanted out of my refrigerator full of food and drink the clean water that ran endlessly from my sink.  this just hit me really hard.

i am attaching a poem that the children from st. dorcas read to me. the children wrote it and i would love for you to take the time to read it.  i wish you could hear it coming from their mouths, the thick african accent makes it that much more passionate and powerful. st. dorcas is the orphanage i volunteered at while in kenya. since i left, i have been communicating with the headmistress there, as well as a few other volunteers. we are trying to begin a non-profit organization to begin providing means to help the orphanage become self-sustaining and help each child realize their potential of an education and future.  stay tuned for ways to help. i am already contacting my nursing school for medical supplies to be donated and it would be my dream to set up a healthcare fund for the children (the orphanage cannot afford the medications necessary to fight off diseases the children are afflicted with).

i recommend reading the poem when you have some time to sit in silence, taking in every word, imagining the words coming from the mouth of a child...


Have a Vision Have a Mission

Have a vision have a mission,
Vision is what you dream within
Mission is what stirs your mind,
It comes from person not position.

You have to sleep for you to dream,
You need to wake up, walk around, and see homeless boys and girls
Passing up and down along the street.

I wish you could approach them, and hear them talk.
They have a plea, a prayer, a wish;
Oh that men and women may be touched by God and give a hand.

They have what it takes,
To become something in this life.
What do you see in us
That isn’t but could be;
Vision realized, mission accomplished.

We had a dream that one day, we will be in a place
Where we will not be judged by what we are,
But by the content of our character hidden within us.

Birds have nests, dogs have kennels,
But where will street children lay their heads?
They have what it takes to become something in this life,
What do you see in us, that isn’t but could be?

By the mercies of God we came across St. Dorcas,
A home with a vision and a mission
To ensure that we get shelter, food and literacy classes.

Our spiritual nourishment is highly effective,
Our talents are tapped and developed,
What do you see in us, that isn’t but could be?
Vision realized, mission accomplished.
Give a hand for your blessing.
Thank you. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

the end, for now!

i said kwaheri (goodbye) to my kenyan friends and family this past wednesday.  i know that i went for a few days without blogging, my apologies! i departed from watamu, this time on a plane which was much less painful than the 12 hour bus ride and headed for nairobi for the last little bit of my trip.  when i arrived back, i was greeted at the airport by richard, a volunteer from south africa who helped me with my bags and escorted me to the car taking myself and two other volunteers back to the house.  heather and carolyn were two very cool girls with a very awesome mission. heather was an entertainment reporter who has interviewed stars like cameron diaz and jennifer aniston, and decided that she was tired of the red carpet affair and wanted to do a story on something with depth and purpose, hence her and carolyn's, her videographer, decision to head to africa to do a story on volunteering in foreign countries.  i wish i could say to look for me on tv, but they never got the chance to interview me as they had hoped because they left for watamu the very next day...bummer! check out their link of a few videos they have posted so far!  one of the perks of traveling with an organization that is flexible is that there is a constant influx of volunteers, so you meet new people from different places.  the saturday night before i left, i went to a restaurant with heather, carolyn, richard, daniella, and elisia.  we went to a place with a great atmosphere, sitting underneath the stars by a fire, and the food was delicious but a bit overpriced (we should have known this would be the case when we noticed it was a mzungu hangout!).  afterward we went to rafikis and psys, two local discos where we danced away the night with some of the locals-i had a blast and got some great new music to add to my itunes playlist. 

sunday morning a new girl, Claire, arrived.  she was a medical student from england and one of the most genuinely sweet people i think i have ever met.  some of us went to church on sunday where i listened to a monumental service that charged the congregation of the church to be the change the country needs to see with the next election.  post-independence, africa was voted to be the happiest continent in the world, and now it is known to be the unhappiest, plagued by corruption that has left the majority of the country hungry and homeless.  the church is beginning a mission of prayer that will go into 21 counties of kenya where they will pray up until the election-for a peaceful election compared to the previous one that erupted in anarchy within the country.  i felt like i was a part of hearing something historic and was deeply moved by her words.  before the service began a man from none other than chapel hill, north carolina was acknowledged and of course after the service i had to go over and introduce myself!  after the service i found him and turns out he is actually a professor at UNC in the Public Health school, how crazy! he is a part of an organizaiton called africarising that was created to help the people of kenya learn ways to sustain themselves a part from just receiving aid that may or may not always get to the right places.  we exchanged contact information and i hope to meet up with him and talk about how i can help the next time i visit (because there will be a next time!) 

the last few days i spent at the St. Dorcas orphanage with the children who i met my very first week.  we played football, netball, hangman, sang, danced, and i taught jacinta the basics of first aid.  it didn't feel like enough. the hugs that i gave, the attention i gave, it didn't seem like enough. i had a moment where i was watching them play in their clothes that draped off of them and were being held together by a single thread and my eyes began to well up with tears. i live in a country where opportunity exists and i don't have to worry about where i will get my next meal, where i have choices in life, and most importantly i have endless love. the children at st. dorcas live in shacks, have a playground that is nothing but red dirt, eat the same thing for breakfast lunch and dinner, day in and day out, go to bed without a good night story, share a bed with one or two other children and wake up and do the same thing the next day. even worse, and this hurts the worst, they may never hear the words i love you. i see them smile and laugh, i am amazed by their selflessness as they stand when i enter and offer me their food, their seats.  they ask me, please don't leave us, please never forget me. if i have ever felt heartbreak, this is it.  i look each child into their eyes and tell them you are beautiful, you are special, God has a plan for you...i hug each one, they grab my hand and look up at me and smile and i melt.  i think i feel more sorry for them, than they do for themselves. i know the life of love and family and i have a place that i can return to called home.  they don't know this life.  i will blog more on my ongoing mission for these children, please stay tuned for ways to help these children and for pictures and more stories of them!

so my last day, we travelled into nairobi center to stroll around and check out some of the government buildings and what not. well, the mentality in africa is never be in a hurry because there is constant traffic. well, this girl had a flight to catch and we were caught in traffic, once we got out of the congestion, the bus breaks down but praise the Lord miraculously begins working. i get home just in time to take a shower and eat a little bite and make sure all my things are packed. all of this could easily be done without trouble, if there is electricity. after the shower, the power goes out, so i am packing by the light of my phone. the power decides to finally come back on and i finish packing, eat my favorite meal that miriam kindly made for me and call the cab guy to make sure he has remembered to come get me. things are looking on the up and up. don't speak too soon kelly...when i arrive to the airport, i find my flight has been CANCELLED. there it is, staring me in my face, the worst combination of letters i could imagine at this point. my palms begin to sweat, my heart beats. i walk up to the counter, she tells me there is nothing available for me. i don't settle. i walk over to the ticket office, which mind you has a line that is moving at a turtle pace. some people are getting tickets on another flight, there is hope but this line is moving so slow i might lose my chance to make the departure time. i could use my phone to call the airlines, but wait i decided to leave my international phone with one of the other volunteers because why the heck would i need it...i guess i didn't think of this scenario ever occurring! well, luckily i had two angels behind me, john and debbie, who i began talking to and they let me use their phone. i then called the airlines and was able to speak with someone who re-issued my ticket and got me on a flight to zurich, from zurich to brussels, from brussels to dulles, and dulles to raleigh. long story short, here i am in the comfort of my home in north carolina, just after spending the day with my sister and niece, thinking how good it is to be home, but yet how bittersweet it is to be away from those who became my family and my home away from home. i am grateful for this feeling, because i know that it represents a trip full of purpose, full of love and memories to last forever, a feeling that keeps me attached to kenya and to continue doing the work God set out for me to do for them-because it doesn't end when my departure, but will continue until that good work is done. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

quicky, but goody!

tomorrow marks the one week mark from my departure, i am rooting myself in every moment, somewhat preparing for my return, but part of me doesn't even want to go to the realities of life that greet me when i return. so far i have lived the kenyan way, going about my day unsure of what is to come, living in the moment. responsibility awaits when i return, along with friends and family i can't wait to love on, but the ones i love here i will surely miss...but, we don't have to think about that quite yet, because there is still work and fun yet to be had!
this past weekend i went snorkeling in the indian ocean. it was unbelievable! the boat we went out on was two levels tall and as i climbed to the top i thought this is the good life. when we arrived to our snorkeling destination i jumped in and fish swarmed around me. i had never experienced such unhindered attention from these little guys! i placed a piece of bread in my hand and they all came towards me, i yelled underwater and laughed as i was caught up in their trek for food! one of the guys got a little sea sick so we had to go back a little early which was a good thing because a storm was a-brewing and the rain lasted the rest of the day. boo! but i finished some reading, learned a new game from friends called "kemps" and then watched a movie on my computer with the rest of the volunteers! sunday we went to malindi for a short bit and then came back to have lunch and put on our bathing suits to head to the beach right outside our house. a couple of friends and i swam in the water and then walked to the "curios" (shopping shacks) on the beach and then my friend daniella and i rode a camel back. yea, you heard me right, a camel. the best but scariest part was getting on and off it literally felt like i was riding a bull...a once in a lifetime thing that i had to do!

yesterday we went to an outreach on karibwe island with the dispensary where we educated, counseled, and tested residents on HIV and prevention and then did health assessments and administered vaccinations to children. we were only prepared to do these few things listed above but the residents were told that doctors were coming from the mainland to treat them. there were no doctors with us, and when the others heard this, knowing i was a nurse, looked at me to be able to fill in for this duty. i helped with some dressing wounds and gave out the few pain medications that i had but i felt so unprepared and sorry for the people that showed up seeking care, only to be told they needed to be referred since we didn't have the resources. i started to tear up looking into the eyes of an elderly woman who could not afford to cross the island and pay for the services. my prayer is that she stays well until the clinic goes out again next month with more capabilities to treat those like her. after we were finished we were given a tour of the island and a short canoe ride before we came back to play football with the school children. 

today i helped build a house for a lady from the clinic. this is no ordinary house but a mud house where i carried dirt in tubs on my head like a local and then we poured water to make this clumpy, moist, clay and literally threw it on the current structure to wait for it to harden and build onto it more. i took pictures so i can't wait to upload them! it was dirty but mostly awesome!

that is all for now rafikis, i wish i could type more but i am drained from the day! much love from me to you!

Friday, July 8, 2011

more stories...

i couldn't think of a creative title for this post, which is why it sounds so anticlimatic, however the past few days have been anything but that! yesterday i continued to work at the local dispensary...wait, but back up before i get into that let me tell you about a little story that involves a directionally challenged girl (me). so the other morning i woke up to go for a run on the beach. family and friends who dearly love me, before grabbing the telephone to call and warn me about how unsafe this is and start to worry, don't panic! there are resorts surrounding us with plenty of mzungu (white people) walking the beach and you know you can't keep this spirit fenced in! i have great instincts to warn me when i am not safe :) as i began my run i was too fixated on my ipod and which song was playing to pay attention to my surroundings, thus as i was finishing my run, the beach began to look all the same and i could no longer find the opening to my home. mom, i know your palms are sweaty right now and probably many others. this is a God story. i wasn't panicking, i knew i was okay, i was safe i just needed to find my way home. well, my answer came in the form of the nicest man who walked me along the beach with his dog back home safely. his name was benton and i have him to thank for sending me on my way home. we talked about america and kenya and it was a sweet surprise sent from above. 

so, after i got back safe and sound, i went to the dispensary. i hesitate before even telling this story, but i feel it impacted my life in such a monumental way that i have to share. i hesitate because i understand the sensitivity of the subject, and i by no means want to use this blog in any offensive way. a young woman yesterday came in due to abdominal cramping, after 4 months of being pregnant...she had miscarried. i am going to stop there in terms of details, for i feel like sharing any more of this portion would be disrespectful to her and her right to such a private and devastating experience.  i could not communicate with her (she only spoke swahili), i saw her tears and i shared my own. i prayed over her, i asked for words and all that i knew to say was "gina lango kelly, gina lango pole". meaning i am kelly, i am sorry-these few words for such a large moment.  as the nurse was finishing, i began to help and i washed and massaged her feet. it reminded me of how Jesus washed the disciples feet. for me, this was an act of the least. it was all i knew to do-instead of my words offering comfort, my hands tried. for Jesus it was a reminder that no one should ever think himself higher than he ought to, that we are never above even the most lowly service.  this was my humble service to this woman who had just lost something so precious, so dear to her. i will never forget this.

after this experience, i excused myself and took a few moments, and then i began helping my friend kessy with charting the diseases and conditions of their patient population. betty, the sweet lady training to be a nurse, told me that i needed an african boyfriend to use when i come to visit again. kessy spelled our names on a paper: kessy and kelly and told me, "see, even God knew!" my favorite thing is laughing with the people here, and they do so much of it, and they do it well! i brought my bag of trail mix to share with the staff since they are not able to afford such items of luxury due to the average person earning 100Ksh (about $1)/day.  you should have seen their faces when they reached in and asked, "what is this from, what is this called" and then as they hesitatingly put it in their mouth to try and then smiled after. i even had one peanut butter m&m left (from where i had picked them out on the airplane ride) that i shared with a boy, kelvin, and his eyes lit up like he had just seen a movie star. they were all so grateful. it is the least i can do for the kindness i have received since beginning volunteering there. i am always the first to be given a seat, or to be offered chai in the break room.

today i was a part of my third delivery. still just as amazing as the first and i am learning the hang of when the nurse needs what and how to assist and then assume my role when the umbilical cord is cut and i can take over with the newborn care (my favorite part).  i assisted the woman during her laboring all the way up until she delivered which was nice to be a part of. the nurse, evans, told me that i could take over the maternity ward now, i laughed and told him to give me a few more days!

thank you all for your comments, i love reading how my words have made you felt. i miss you all, keep writing and thinking of me!