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:

title="Wordle: Life"> src="http://wordle.net/thumb/wrdl/257747/Life"
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!