Sunday, December 14, 2008

Current Fundraising Status

Hey all, it's been a bit since my last posting. Here is the status on fundraising:

The Sunday after Thanksgiving I spoke at Greensburg United Methodist Church in Martinsburg, WV and received $589 in personal offerings. Combined with Greensburg's congregation was one of my supporting churches from last time, Mt. Wesley UMC, who generously gave $1,000. Thank you Greensburg and Mt. Wesley!!

Later that day i drove back to Bowie, MD for a Wine and Cheese party held at the Weizel's house (my HS sunday school teacher and her husband) as a fundraiser with matching funds up to $1600. We met our match by the end of the week with a grand total of $3200! Thank you everyone at Trinity Lutheran for your support!!

As of late, I have been giving Christmas cards with any donation of $10 or more as a side fundraiser for the holiday season. So far I have made $280 from the cards alone. Not bad,eh? Thanks to all who have participated. If you would like to have a card, the pictures of the cards are on Facebook and are on display at Zen Clay Cafe in Morgantown,WV. If you are unable to go to Zen Clay, but you want a card sent to someone for the holidays, send a check made out to Nuru International to the address in the last blog (not the address on the right because it won't be highlighted as a holiday card donation). Along with the check you should include the address of the person you want the card to get to and I will personally send it out to them.

In individual donations I have made over $700. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Awesome Christmas Prep video

Here is an awesome video to get you into the holiday spirit this season:

Now that you've watched the video, I'd like to add to that notion.

I'm going to be making holiday cards this year with pictures from my time in Kenya and in Sudan. The point is that you know that you have people on your Christmas list that you don't have the slightest idea what to get them; and so to alleviate that problem, I will send your receivee a Christmas card in the place of a donation of $10 or more. The card will have a note inside telling your receiveee that a donation has been made in their honor to Nuru International's Education program and the website so that they can follow up on what their gift has done for the people of Kuria, Kenya.

To do so, send a check written to NURU INTERNATIONAL with EDUCATION PROGRAM in the memo line to:

1357 Bitonti St.
Morgantown,WV 26505

Upon receiving the check, I will promptly send the card to the address you give me.

This way you get to give two-fold and the person you give to receives two-fold. It's win-win really.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wine & Cheese Fundraiser

The Trinity folks have done it again (thanks Mrs. Weizel) and THRIVENT has approved a matching funds fundraiser for up to $1600! So if you want to make your dollar go further, Write a check to THRIVENT and send it THIS WEEK ONLY to:

Trinity Lutheran Church,
6600 Laurel Bowie Road,
Bowie, MD 20715

**write in the Memo line Meghan kenya project
Thanks everyone, for your support!

If you choose to send a check any other time, make sure to write the check to NURU INTERNATIONAL, is stated on the right-hand side of the page.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Helping Hands in Global Partnership

Ok, so the title sounds a bit cheesy, but it sounds motivating right? Some people have mentioned to me that they want to help, but they don't have any money, so what can they do? One of my friends and classmates even offered up to buy candy bars and sell them to help me.

So, for those of you who fit into that category-- whether you are a bum college student like me or just don't have the budget to give (totally understandable with our economy and especially in WV)-- one of the best things you can do is to tell all of your friends to donate a $1, $5, or $20+ to the Nuru Education Program and it will add up seriously. Some of my friends have 500 Facebook friends and if they all gave a $1, well that's $500 right there! Some of your friends actually might have jobs, and they can even give more than a $1 or $20, which is cool.

Also, you can tell your church or civic organization about Nuru and what I'm trying to do and see if they're interested in having me speak. As long as you are within a drivable range for me to go there, I'm completely open to talking at any event. If you live way too far away from WV (like California or something) then you can totally show the videos from the website to tell the group about Nuru and see if they want to collectively donate to the education program.

I definitely could use all the help I can get and so if you want to help, networking adds up and REALLY helps me. Thank you guys for wanting to be part of the fight to end extreme poverty.

Remember, and tell your friends, family, and civic/faith organization that I will be keeping a blog of my time there, as will the website be keeping updates of what the whole team is doing, which means that this is NOT just ONE person fighting to END extreme poverty, but it is EVERYONE who is a part of this fight!!! We are in this world together and can fight together: you, me, and the people of Kuria!!

BTW, That's Nicole, the Water Sanitation Manager, in the above photo, on the ground in Kuria. To check out more photos, click on the link below or go to the NURU website.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nuru videos for your viewing pleasure

So I really want you guys to go to the Nuru website, but just in case you don't make it there for some reason, here are some videos to watch to give you an idea of Nuru and my future life.

The Big Idea:


Episode 1: Training at Stanford:

Episode 2: First 24 hrs on the ground:

Ok. Press Play. Enjoy. Go.

PS- The NURU WEBSITE is magnificently and beautifully done so I encourage you to check it out and read it because it's uber informative!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Information on Nuru donations

So some of you may be wondering how to donate in the effort to get me back to Kenya. I'm going to find out more information about monthly pledges because some have asked about that. For now, I'd say that if you want to donate monthly starting January, you can donate that way, but maybe email me your plans.

How do you donate?

Well if you want to donate via Google checkout, you can click on the link to the right and it will take you to the donation page.

Another way to Donate electronically is to use Facebook's cause page, click [HERE] (it's an easy process, for those of you who don't know Facebook).

OR, you can donate the old fashion way via check. The address to send checks to is:
Nuru International
189 Highland Avenue
Morgantown, WV 26505

***Be sure that if you write a check to make it out to NURU INTERNATIONAL and write in the memo line EDUCATION PROGRAM.
If you donate electronically, please send me an email, because I don't think there's a way to specify for the Education program right now. So this way I can keep track of the fundraising.

PS- All of the links, plus the address is on the website and you can view it by clicking on the donation link to the right, OR by clicking on the Nuru link.

I strongly encourage everyone to check out the Nuru website and watch the videos presented there. There are TWO new videos on the site that show the staff on the ground in Kenya and their life there.

Thanks for helping in the fight to end extreme poverty!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hangin' with the Homeless

For the past month my friends and I, who are in a group that we call “ Sunday night community group,” have been meeting down by Ruby McQuain ampitheatre on the Rail Trail to talk with the homeless who live there, as well as give them food and clothes. We started this tradition from the inspiration of the book: Irresistible Revolution, by Shane Claiborne. In his book, Claiborne writes about being an everyday radical in your community. These radicals do not do anything extraordinary, however they live out there faith in Christ by taking care of His people. So two of my friends, Tiffany and Tara, decided that they would start going to the Rail Trail with boxes of “5 for $5” pizzas from Little Ceasars. From there, they invited the rest of the group to come along.

Rewinding a bit, back to September, our community group held a party in which everyone came with any clothes they wanted to give away. We put on as many of the articles of clothing that we could possibly wear and then made a contest out of who could wear the most clothing at once. After the contest, we separated all of the clothes into categories for the Rail Trail, Christian Help, and t-shirts for Uganda. The clothes for the Rail Trail, we hand delivered.
I have known about the homeless on the Rail Trail for the past six years, however, I have not ever desired to talk to them, nor even look in their direction. I saw them as drunks and bums, who could not handle keeping a job and were drain on the society. As horrible as this may sound, their very existence bothered me. When I went running or walking on the Rail Trail, I was afraid of them. In my mind, when I would pass them, I would think, “why don’t those people just get a job?!”
Since the first Sunday I have started hanging out with them, I have come to know them by name. I know their story and, for some of them, I know why they are “stuck” on the Rail Trail. By merely talking with them, I have gained a love for them and can see why Christ also loves them. Most of them have drug and/or alcohol problems, yes, but they are people nonetheless and Christ said that we are to care for the least of these: the poor and the hungry.

However, I cannot lie about my first interaction with them, the first night, I was discretionary about what I had in my pockets and what I wore down there. I was not sure what to expect—would these people steal from me, or would they hurt me? What would they say? What would I say? The truth is that it was rough to start up a conversation because I let my prejudices get in the way. The first night we went, I am not sure if I even talked to them, beyond telling them my name. I just did not know what to say. However, by the second Sunday, I set my prejudices aside so that I can get to know them as I would any other person I had just met. This past Sunday, especially, I got to know one of them better and even found out that he is from Jeruselem and is half Ethiopian. He has lived all over the world and finally settled in Morgantown. So far, I have not yet discovered his reason for being homeless, but I do know that we had an interesting conversation about religion and about Jesus, and that is a start. I also know that these men and women love having us bring by food, clothes, hand-warmers, and sleeping bags; but most of all, I think that they love having the interaction with us the most—I do not know this as fact, but it is possible that we are the only non-homeless people who regard them as people and not the bain of society that we are to blind our eyes, and shield our children from.

It is hard to process, it is messy, and emotionally, I struggle with the overwhelming truth that these are my brothers and they are out in cold right now as I sit in Starbucks. I have access to a warm house and warm clothes and I am still freezing; and yet my friends who are homeless have even less. I do not know what that means to me yet, but I am processing it. Last Sunday I went into the public restrooms and thought, “I don’t know if I want to go back over there—it’s just so real.” It is so real—they are real.

Friday, October 24, 2008

GOT THE JOB! ..and the WEBSITE is up!

view in Kuria, Kenya


I just found out today that I got the job as the Project Manager for Education! So that means that I'm leaving for Kuria, Kenya in late February. So that means that I need help from the Global Community again. My goal for fundraising is going to be $30,000.
I'm not sure exactly how we're going to handle the money donations, so stay tuned. I think how it will work is that you can click on the link to the RIGHT under the category "If you want to support me financially," and then fill out the amount you want to donate on Google checkout and then email me what you donated so that I can report it to Nuru. If you want to donate by check, on the link there is also an address to send the check to, and you would write my name on a note or post-it, NOT ON THE CHECK.
If you put my name on the check, it won't be tax-deductible. However you choose to donate, ALL donations are TAX-DEDUCTIBLE.

Also the website for Nuru is up and running so invite your friends to check out the promotional video and the other video links. They're totally awesome and informative! Click [here} for Nuru's website or click the link to the right under "Organizations I know and love."

Thanks for reading my blog and for your prayers and support. ENCOURAGEMENT is just as needed as financial support, so feel free to be a BIG giver in that area!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

DELAY in NURU new website launch

Hey all,

So there has been a delay in getting the new website launched tomorrow. Apparently some issues with the design company. So hold off on promoting if you had planned too; and if you've never checked out the website I ENCOURAGE you to do so.
The way the website is set up now, is that you can watch "The Bid Idea" video, which is a 3 minute promotional video, and then there is another video that's working right now called "hunger." Those are the only ones I've checked out as of late, but I'll let you know more as it comes.

Thanks for you help in promotion and support.

Be part of revolution. Be Change. Be Light. Be Nuru.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nuru's NEW Website Launches Thursday

Hey all,
On Thursday Nuru launches their new website and Big Idea video. They would love for everyone to spread the word about it by telling, emailing, or calling your friends; putting the info out on your blog; and/or putting the info on your Facebook and/or Myspace about the site and video. Below is a basic text block that you can copy and paste onto your blog, email, etc.
I hope that you too will help the global community in the fight against world poverty. Thanks for your support!

Forgive the mass email, but I have something important to tell you.


When you click on over you'll find a completely redesigned site, brand new pictures from Kenya (not more than 2 weeks old), in-depth information about how Nuru works, updates on our Kuria Pilot Project, and new ways to get involved in the fight against extreme poverty.

Also, on the homepage check out the video: The Big Idea. Today is its world premier, and it's starring some folks who are friends of yours.

Lastly, we're trying to make a big splash with our new site, so not only do we need you to check it out TODAY, but we need you to tell your friends and family to check it out too! So, here's what I ask:

1. Check out the new website yourself, watch the videos and view the images from our Kuria Project.
2. Email your friends a link to our new Homepage and encourage them to check out the site TODAY.
3. Include our site in your blogs, spread the word on your Facebook profile, and forward the Big Idea video on to your friends.

Now is also a great time to donate to Nuru. We too have been hit by the financial crisis, and our future work in Kuria, Kenya is in jeopardy without further funding.

Thank you for being a supporter of Nuru.

Now, on your marks, get ready, go on over to the new site by clicking here:

Be hope, be light, be Nuru.

Monday, October 20, 2008


My friend Erica at RVA posted this "word art" onto her blog using Wordle, a program that can take a bunch of words or your blog and turn it into "word art." My curiosity got the best of me. Click the link below to see what it did to my blog:

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style="padding:4px;border:1px solid #ddd">

Red, Orange, Yellow: The Leaves and the Stock Market Are Falling

Okay, so I stole this title from my sister's Facebook photo album, but it was so clever that I had to steal it.

It's been almost a month since my last posting, so sorry for having to look at the same old pictures for so long, if you've been checking. Since the last post I ran a 5k race, the Baltimore Half-Marathon, Lydia got married, I found out more information on going to Kenya with Nuru, celebrated my Grammy's 85th birthday, hung out at the Rail Trail with my community Group and the homeless, and still keeping up with grad school.

A few of my friends and I ran the 5k race together. It was at the FBI facility close to Morgantown. I went out for the fun of it and didn't really even try to race it competitively, however, I ended up winning third place in my age group! If I thought I'd win something, I might've tried harder to get first or second, but ah well, I took home the bronze unexpectedly and a couple bagels too. After the race, my co-worker, Emily, had made the best chocolate cake ever to sell at the cafe, which we also partook of. It was labeled "the September Birthdays" cake because 3 of us at work had September birthdays.

The following weekend, I drove home for Lydia's wedding and my sister's birthday. It was great to see Lydia again-- we hadn't seen each other since May 22nd, the day we left Sudan for our respective countries (Lydia: Uganda, me: Kenya). She looks different all washed up in a dress, wearing make-up, her hair done-up, and not a glisten of sweat. Hopefully I looked the same, except minus the fancy hair or make-up, but I did lack a pit-stained Under Amour shirt and neon foam flip-flops, which was a change for her to see. Lydia looked great and it was a beautiful wedding. Her Dad did the charge to the bride and groom, which was cool to witness. Because both of them are big-time runners, everything to do with the message and the reception speeches had an analogy to running. At the reception, all those running legs took to the dance floor and we partied like it was 1999! ...or like from the years 1995-2006 because that was the mix of music, which was great because I actually knew it! By the end of the night, I felt like I'd had my workout for the day and then drove to Martinsburg, WV (about 3 hours from Delaware where the wedding took place) to stay at my friend Karen's place. The next morning I woke at 5 a.m. to drive another 3 hours to get to class on time. Rewind to Sunday, my sister and I celebrated our birthdays with the family tradition of a Baskin & Robins ice cream cake and pizza. Hurray to multiple birthday cakes throughout the month! So to clarify, I drove home Sunday morning, celebrated birthdays, and Monday was Lydia's wedding (yes Monday, she's a self-proclaimed stinge and Mondays are cheaper).

Last weekend (Oct 11th), Veronica (my sis) and I ran the Baltimore half-marathon that I've been training for since Sudan and Veronica has been training for along with all of her triathlons. The night before the race, Vern and I went to the expo to pick up our race packet and UNDER ARMOUR RACE SHIRTS!! These are possibly the best race shirts I've ever received. Usually, a long-sleeve shirt is something to covet, but a technical shirt is the sweetest deal ever. At the expo, there are lots of vendors with different types of running gear and apparel. Funny enough, I found a vendor at One More Mile, who sell shirts, hats, and stickers that state "In my dreams I am a Kenyan." How great is that?! So of course I bought a shirt and some stickers. Along with that, they had magnets and such that state "Running is cheaper than Therapy." and I got one of those too because of my major. The next day I donned my Kenya jersey and Rwanda biking hat (identity crisis? possible.). Veronica and I stayed together for the first mile and then I darted off because I had a desired goal. It was 80 degrees Fahrenheit which made for a hot race and a sweet tan. Along the course, here and there, I could hear a few laughs after one would notice the jersey + my middle of the pack pace. One girl towards the end yelled "Go Kenya!" which was awesome. 13.1 miles and several strange spectators in tiger costumes later (tigers dancing to "Eye of the Tiger") and I crossed the finish line @ 2hrs:10min. My sis was about 20 min or so behind me, which is rock star pace for her! I had wanted to finish in under 2 hrs, but the course was hilly and I had been training flat, and so I felt pretty good about the time. Now I'm wondering what's the next race I can run (preferably flat) to achieve my desired time. Next weekend Erica is running the Nairobi half, which is not flat AND at altitude... I'm definitely jealous and definitely would die if I tried right now. GOOD LUCK ERICA!!!

This past Tuesday I received an email from Jake, one of the founders of Nuru and the CEO, who let me know that he's looking to hire the Project Manager for Education for January. There are 2 other candidates for the job, AND because of the financial crisis of our country, if I am hired, I will have to raise my own support. This morning I had a Skype conversation with Jake to talk more about the position and to help him get an idea where I'm at with all of this and if I'm still down with the position. I definitely AM (not as happy about raising my own support, but I've done it before and the community responded). By THURSDAY @ 5pm EST, Jake said he'd make his decision. So, PLEASE PRAY for GOD's will to be done, whatever the outcome. If I am supposed to stay here to finish my degree, no problem, I've already signed up for classes and I'm praying to be okay with staying. If I get hired, I'm for sure excited to be going back to Kenya, although I'll miss my family and friends (including all my new friends), I know that they'll still be here when I get back in 6 months. The group that's in Kenya now are in an area called Kuria which is in Southwestern Kenyan, 1 km from Tanzania. They are learning Kiswahili down there because English isn't spoken as much as it is in Nairobi. So I'm totally stoked about learning Kiswahili before my future time in Nairobi, where it would be a more concentrated effort to learn the language. I'll update y'all on Thursday if you need to bust out your wallets-- haha just kidding, sorta. ;) In the meantime, and for the next 6 months, check out 2 of the current Nuru people's blogs on the links to the right: Jake, and also Janine, who's an awesome chica.

Some of my community group friends have been hanging out down on the Rail Trail by the Mon river with the homeless by sharing stories, sharing pizza, etc. Last weekend our group brought the clothes we had collected the day of the Commando Party with a Purpose. I was a bit late because I had been driving back from Baltimore, but it seemed like a hit. Today we met down there again to share some love, sandwiches, and pizza. I do love this crazy group of everyday RADICALS! A bunch of hippie Christians is what they are-- just kidding. ;p

Well, I hope you all are doing MARVELOUS. For those of you on the East Coast of the U.S., enjoy the beautiful Fall Leaves; and for those of you on the East Coast of Africa, enjoy the weather before the hot season comes!

Sarah Palin Rap on SNL

This was on Saturday Night Live last night. It was so freakin' funny I thought I'd share it with you in case you missed it!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Morgantown Birthday

Well another year has come and gone for me. I'm 27, in grad school, and one year ago I was living in a mud hut eating chocolate cake and chapatis with the Scotlands and my Sudanese host family, Agnes, Malish, Wanni, and baby Solomon. 26 was a good year and I can only hope that 27 will bring as much adventure and learning possibilities (being in grad school, you'd think at least I'd get the learning part in).

So last Wednesday on my bday, I had to go to class, of course, but 2 of my classmates made my afternoon class a little more exciting than I'd planned. My friend Maggie baked mini chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and my friend Joe biked in 2 2litre bottles of soda, a bag of ice, and some cups. When I walked into class, the cupcakes were sitting on the table in front of the desk in which I always sit. I walked passed them and thought "are those for me?" I didn't want to say anything just in case it was some strange coincidence. but then Maggie looks over, and with a huge smile on her face says "I baked those cupcakes for YOU!" I laughed and was super excited all at the same time-- I wasn't sure if I was even going to get a birthday cake this year...its hard moving around all the time because you're always changing friend networks. Not that I don't have any friends here, because obviously from the previous blogs, I have spectacular friends here, however, one never really know if anyone knows its your birthday/wants to do anything for it (thanks goodness for Facebook reminders)-- Then Joe came in with an overstuffed messenger bag and one-by-one emptied the soda bottles, bagged ice, and cups. I gave him serious props for biking all the way to class with all that stuff! Later, during our mid-class break, we partook of the birthday goodies. I've never had so much fun in a college class (ok, well the ropes course was pretty fun too). BUT don't be fooled, grad school is NO fun and games...its kicking this 27 year-old's rear in a big kinda way!

That evening, with my Sunday night community group, we held a joint birthday party with my friend Tara, who's a day older than me (that's Alexis Blidel's, from Gilmore Girl's, birthday, for those who are a fan) at Kassar's Mediterranean Restaurant. I had a lot of fun with my new group, plus Joe and his wife Ellen. I enjoyed some veggies Gyros and falafels with hummus, washed down with a cookie cake. Although it was a school night and everyone, including me, was busy with school and work, we were still able to have some quality birthday fun! Here are some pictures from the night:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Maybe if I wasn't going commando: another party with a purpose

I don't know how many of you have ever seen the Friends episode in which Joey and Chandler get into an arguement over clothing and then Joey walks onto the scene wearing all of Chandler's clothes at once; but that was the inspiration for our recent Party with a Purpose. On Sunday all of us who meet regularly on Sunday nights for a community group came wearing, or brought with, them all of the clothes they wanted to give away. The winner was the person who had the most articles of clothing on their body at one time. In 80 degree weather people were rolling into the Rickard's house wearing downe jackets and sweatshirts. For me, I changed into my give-away clothes once I got to the house, and then proceeded to die of heat stroke wearing about 3 sweatshirts! Crazy people such as Tara, who one first place, not only had on 5 times her body wieght's worth of clothes, but taped a toaster to herself as well. Kent, pictured below, is wearing about three hats, a downe parka, and some sweat shirts.
One-by-one we watched as each person pulled off an article of clothing until we got to the last layer (yes, we stopped at the last layer-- it wasn't that kind of party!). The funniest part was watching everyone go from being morbidly obese, to a regular size or even down right skinny. It was like watching a before and after infomercial of Weight Watchers clients. What was grossest, was everyone's bottom layer-- like I said, it was 80 degrees!
After everyone had their turn at the contest, the talli came in, Tara was first and Brittani in second (pictured below in her award of pink hat and pink tie). Then everyone changed into non-give-away clothes and we proceeded to sort through ALL of the clothes-- including the clothes that people brought but didn't wear. We gave away all the t-shirts to be brought to Uganda by a group that's leaving for there soon; all the business clothes and most of the girls' clothing will be going to Christian Help here in Morgantown, and all of the warm-weather clothing will be going to the homeless who live on the Rail Trail, also here in Morgantown.
I know I've said this in a previous entry, but I am so thankful to have this group of friends who takes their faith into action by serving the global community!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

We all need a little help from our friends

Last week Thursday, my Community Counseling class went out to the WVU ropes course just outside of Morgantown. For those of you who know the area, its near Cooper's Rock. Our prof, T.Anne, wanted to incorporate it into our studies as a way to get closer to one another, learn different forms of group counseling, personal growth, and of course, to have a lot of fun! The School counseling students were for sure jealous of our alternative classroom. But, shhh, we were instructed not to rub it in their faces. Here are some pictures from the morning's events:

Our group had to transport the "platonium" from one side of the course to the other, while staying off the ground. We couldn't touch the bucket, only the strings, and had to have 4 people holding it at a time.

Maggie being lowered onto the zip wire to attempt to shimmy across to the other side. Way to take it for the team!!

Adrian volunteered to sprint across the wire with his amazing lightning speed...he almost made it.

This is my lame attempt to jump over the hurdle. we could only go over it, not under it. It was one of those moments where I realized my dreams of being in the olympics are over.

When we got the the middle of the coarse, meeting up with the other half of our group, we passed off the platonium and they handed us "Bobby," our stretcher board victim whom we had to take back over to our side.

"We have to do what?" When we got our victim to "safety" we were told that Bobby needed to get across a steel wire, over to another platform in which the meds can reach him. Here, we cast lots to walk the plank.

reinforcements: the other half of our group got the platonium to safety and rejoined us on our side in order to find a solution to the crossing of the gap. As pictured above, my classmates are pretty creative...and brave!

After the course, we separated back into our small groups and discussed the good, the bad, and the ugly of the days' events. ...then we sang Kum Baya-- just kidding.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Party with a Purpose

Last night some of my friends in Morgantown celebrated the many August birthdays with a "party with a purpose." Instead of asking for presents, these guys asked everyone to make a donation to Nuru International. The WVU chapter of Nuru has a purpose to serve as a campus advocate of Nuru International, a 501 (c) 3 dedicated to working together to end the problem of extreme poverty one community at a time. We will carry out this purpose by opening the eyes of the campus to the issue of extreme poverty and mobilizing people to make a difference.
The goal for this month was to raise $5,000 by September 2nd, and at the party we raised almost $2,000, which topped off the goal! Everyone at the party felt pretty pumped by the end of the night for reaching a goal that, to the average person, seems unattainable. I just have to say that I am so proud to have this group of friends in Morgantown, who care about helping others in developing countries. Its definitely a blessing to come home from Africa to not only great Christian friends, but Christians friends who put their faith into action by living it out in a radical way. Even those who will never go to a developing country, but speak out on issues of poverty in their hometown, are living their life in a radical way. Thanks guys, for letting me be a part of that.
If you are interested in giving to Nuru, click on the link to the right of this page. Your money is tax-deductible and will be going towards eradicating extreme poverty. As of now, a team is leaving for Kenya at the end of September. In that group is someone from: Agriculture, Community Health, Water Sanitation, and Video Production and PR. The Community Health individual is my friend Janine, with whom I worked with back in 2006, doing campaigning, fundraising, and on-campus awareness for Rx For Child Survival. Janine is described by others as "intense," and "she makes me tired," because she is passionate about helping the community health sector in Africa and works hard to do it.

This outgoing group will be the initial, ground-breaking group for the project in South-western Kenya. They will spend the next six months evaluating what needs to be done in the area, by listening to those in the community, getting to know the community, and using their expertise in their respective fields. God-willing, I will be joining them out there at the beginning of next year, where I will spend six months doing an evaluation from the Education stand-point.

So how is grad school? Well to be honest, it has been really hard this past week to get a grip on a proper sleep and study schedule. As of Monday, I got a job at Zen Clay Cafe, where I spend about 20 hours a week slinging cappucinos and making healthy wraps, soups, and muffins. The working environment is great and I get all the free coffee I can drink (good when on 2 hours of sleep) and a free meal per shift.
This past week I had to catch up on my class readings the night before each class because I did NOT do them over the weekend. Well, I learned my lesson after 3 nights in-a-row on 2 hours of sleep, that that is NOT my desired lifestyle and so I will need to be diligent in reading this weekend. Although it is Labor Day weekend, I think I will be taking it for its name-sake in laboring over my books! As of time of publication, I have not yet read for class, but I did enjoy some quality God time at Starbucks, reading the Word, and having an impromptu Bible time with Janine, and my new friend Mary, who were also there reading the Word.
My "study" chair

Today I read about about Joshua and the Israelites being defeated at Ai. It says that "the hearts of the people melted and became as water" (7:5). How often do we run away when we feel scared and/or defeated? Even though God had prepared us and called us to a task, one glitch, and we are fleeing and our hearts are melted like water. This makes me think of almost every big task I set out to do-- Sudan: I thought I couldn't raise the money; Grad school: I thought I couldn't do well-enough on the GRE and I feel defeated by my schedule; Nuru: raising $5,000 by Sept.2nd; and keeping my prayer time my main focus. These are all battles in which I want to melt and run away, but God has (or is) worked(ing) through those fears to conquer His goal. Proverbs 13:12 states "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life." This verse spoke to me this morning. I need to work to fulfill the goals I have set in front of me and know that God will be the reigning force behind it, so it will be done.

Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone and GO MOUNTAINEERS! The first game of the season and the town is littered with Blue and Gold.
Here are more pictures from last night's events:

(Laptops were set up to make online donating quick and easy)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Videos from ABO

Here is one of the many funny skits from "fun night" while at ABO in Machakos, Kenya:

Super Miss

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Biking to school and wearing sweaters

So I have completed my first week of graduate school in Counseling! Yay! Now just 17 more to go! Not that I'm counting, seriously, I am really excited to learn about counseling techniques, Human Devt., etc. One thing that I'm less excited about, however, is the buying of textbooks. I knew that it would be more expensive than last time just because psychologists and science people love really expensive books, or at least all the books are always really expensive-- and there are a lot of them.
So far I could have paid 2 months rent with the amount I've spent on books. Although, most of them I will probably keep and cart off to Africa when I start practicing, and that will be the REAL expense-- haha.
The biggest thing in adjusting to America are the social patterns of college students. For example, the other day someone went to give me a "high five" and I went from the "high five" into a handshake, because that's what we do in Sudan. The louder the slap before the handshake, the better a friend you are. So, that was awkward, but then I explained the cultural miscommunication, and we laughed about it.
I even practiced it a couple times with them. The other thing is remembering that its not "cool" to show up to school all sweaty. Now you might be thinking, Meghan, TMI (too much info.), but really, I'm being truthful with you guys here, about re-learning your own culture. So, after the prompting of a classmate, I decided to ride my bike to campus everyday. That had been my plan all along, but for the first 2 days I was apprehensive because of the sweat factor. For the first 2 days I also wore outfits that had been previously approved by my sister, (but I have to tell you, when I start to branch out from there, the colors get a little wild) and then would drive part of the way to school and walk the rest of the way. This reduced the sweat factor. However, yesterday was my first day to ride the bike to campus and I don't know if it was the helmet, or my Kiswahili shirt, or the sweat, but there was a noticeable difference in conversations coming my way. I'm sure that I could do a sociology experiment on it, but its true. So I tried to make a joke about monkeys getting into the kitchen and eating all your bananas, and people laughed...sort of, but, yes I have become socially awkward.
Social awkwardness is probably not that new for me to be honest...pretty much ever since I became passionate about Africa, I have had some awkwardness, like bringing up genocides in a conversation about anything possibly, kind of related; and talking about people dying of diarrhea-- all stuff that the average person doesn't want to talk about. And to be honest, even when I became a Christian I became socially awkward. Its just not socially acceptable to be a Christian, and in college: to hold morals, views, or opinions is also not acceptable. So that part is not new, but I think getting used to being awkward within my own culture is the hard part. I come home from another culture and believe that I know this culture, but I don't really. And its because I'm seeing it with a different scope. I'm blended.
I find myself trying to live in both worlds-- I still haven't changed the clock on my laptop or my cell phone, and I think about what people are doing 7 hours ahead of me in a far away continent. When hanging out with people here, I try not to bring up being in Africa for the past year, especially when meeting new people, for fear of sounding pretentious. I don't want to bore people with my stories and so I let them bring up the questions, but then, something they say reminds me of a story from either Sudan or Kenya, so I begin to tell it, and then trail off, because I think that they don't really want to hear it, or that I have mentioned living in Africa way too many times. And so, living in both worlds is a rough adjustment but I'm sure
that once I make new friends and have new experiences here, the Africa experiences will come out here and there, but I will have things to talk about from here. Disclaimer: I don't want to sound like I'm discrediting my experiences and that they are totally compartmentalized off from this life, because I know that all my experiences mesh together to make me who I am. Its more about finding a balance of all my experiences as to not be off-kilter within whichever culture.
Well, so that is more or less my first week of school. The other things I need to get used to again are: reading (a lot of reading), writing papers (in APA format), deadlines, time schedules, sitting in a room full of people, standing in a line in a room full of people, Air-conditioning, wearing sweaters in class, and eating lunch that hasn't beem pre-made for you by someone else. All these things, plus more that I'm just not thinking of right now, are all new/old adjustments that I'm relearning in American, University, society.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New Life, New House, New school

After a late night of putting together a powerpoint presentaion for both services at church, and the outline for speaking to the Sunday School classes, last Sunday I shared with Trinity about my time in Sudan. It was harder than I thought it would be, to cram about 7GB of pictures and a year's worth of life (a VERY different life) into one 5 minute power point presentation and a 45 minute talk. One of the church members commented that they could have had me speak at several of the sunday school classes, for as much information as they wanted to hear about Sudan. So, for those who attended, thank you for coming, and sorry that it was so short.

Currently, I'm enroute to Morgantown, WV for graduate school in Counseling, in which I begin on Monday. This has been an extremely quick turn around time from leaving Africa, to coming home, and then leaving again. I hope that my parents are coping. ;) Morgantown is about 5 hours away from Bowie, and I have fridays off from classes, so we will see about return visits now and then.

Just so you all are in the loop, last week when I went to Morgantown to meet my roomate and see my new house, I also had an interview with Nuru International (Nuru= light of God in Kiswahili), which is a new development organization for developing countries, such as Kenya, Sudan, etc. At first I was definitely going to decline an invitation to work there because I am set to attend grad school and then onto working at Tumaini Counseling center in Nairobi, Kenya; however, at the interview I was told that the contracts are only year-to-year. The CEO of Nuru was impressed by my interview and asked if I change my mind about grad school, to contact him. After the interview, I contemplated this.
A year is not very long in the span of life and grad school will always be there, and God-willing, so will Tumaini. I took this before God in prayer, and also to all my friends and family (even the Starbucks barista). Upon giving it great thought, made a pro/con list, and prayed, I decided that working for Nuru for a year is a great plan for the next year. HOWEVER, I don't officially have the job yet. If the funding is available for the second team to go out (the first team leaves Sept 22), then most likely I will be on that second team. The plan is for the second team to leave around February and would be in SW'n Kenya for 6 months. After the six months is completed, I would work for Nuru state-side for another 4-6 months.

So what would I be doing for Nuru? Well, based on my experience in Ikotos, I would be the Project Manager for the Education sector. My job would be to check out the existing school on the project site (if there is an existing school), and talk to the town elders/officials about what their needs and concerns are in regards to education. At the end of the six months, I would be doing a lot of processing from the data I gathered, and then training volunteers for the project. **Note: The information here is what I gathered from the interview, and from the website, So it is possible that my job description and description of Nuru is not completely accurate and some aspects may be missing.

What about grad school? Well, I will definitely be attending this fall, and we will see what happens in the next 6 months as to whether or not I continue in the spring. If I go to Kenya with Nuru, then I will be dropping out of grad school for a year and will attempt it again after Nuru. I am also looking into attending Liberty University instead of returning to WVU. That plan is still extremely undefined and undetermined. The most I have done is order an information packet from Liberty. The reason for the switch is so that A: I will need Bible school credit for AIM, and B: Liberty offers an online program in which I can work and go to school. The program is 48 credit hours and they offer 8-week long sessions. I still haven't decided if I want to do the online program or not-- I very much enjoy the interaction and debate that happens in the classroom. However, as I realized in the past, when I had an internship at the Dept. of State, I work better through distance learning, while working full-time. Apparently it keeps me focused.

So, we will see what the future brings. Thank you all for following along.

BTW- Here are some pictures of my new house in Morgantown and of my friends Greta and Melissa who came to visit while I was there. Greta is leaving for Nicaragua this week, through Mennonite Christian Council (MCC), within the SALT program. She will be teaching music at a cultural center. For more info on her, check out her blog that's linked to the right of my page. Also, my new roomate, Lori, whom I've just met, is very nice and I think we will get along well. However, she is leaving in February for 3 months with Mercy Ships, serving in Benin, W.Africa as a nurse. Wow, that connection is amazing, eh?

Fridge picture with some of my Africa friends, mixed with my old American buds

All the prayer cards I've received from other missionaries in Africa (if you don't see yours, contact me, so I can get one!)

In my bedroom, the giant tin trunk from Kenya that I brought my stuff in. It will now serve as a dresser because I currently don't own anything better.

My living room with gas-burning fire place!

Greta and I at our old favorite studying place-- We've waited 2 years to hang out here again, first she was in Amsterdam, then I was in Sudan, and now she's going away again. :(