Category Archives: Kenya

Kenya Post? 6 Months Later.

A little over six months ago, I returned from a missions trip to Kenya. (If you want to hear about those adventures, here is a link to those posts). And a lot has happened since then. I started college and survived my first semester. I went to my first Quiz practice as a coach. I Quizmastered my first tournament. I made my first college best friend. I ate my first exotic meat (although to be fair, I did that while I was on the trip. But that, plus the kissing of a giraffe, are pretty noteworthy). I got my wisdom teeth removed. I discovered the first romantic chick flick I didn’t actually completely hate. And, I experienced my first true emotional roller coaster of pain. However, more important than any of that, and more painful than the previously mentioned pain, is the roller coaster I’ve been on since I returned.

Okay- here’s a little back story into my life. I have always been a person who loves serving. I believe that God has given me the gift of service and the ability to serve with a joyful, willing, loving heart. And, before I went to Kenya, I was using this gift in whatever ways I knew how. I was volunteering with Kids’ Ministry programs at my church, serving at fundraisers for missions trips I myself wasn’t going on, teaching Economics to kids at a local elementary school, and helping with various projects at my church when, and if, I was needed. I was doing what I felt needed to be done with the skills and abilities I felt I had to do it. I was satisfied doing what I was doing. Until I went to Kenya.

If you read my last Kenya post, you’d know about some of the things that God revealed in and about me while I was in Kenya and upon my return. If you haven’t read it, you should. But, what you don’t know, whether you’ve read that post or not, is what I have done, what has happened, and how I have felt since then.

Since returning, I have started college. In one of my classes, we read a book and talked about the slavery that exists all over the world- even to this day. And it broke my heart, hearing all the stories of all these people- primarily females- who have been forced into labor and oppression. And while these conversations didn’t make me think about Kenya specifically, they did make me think. They made me think about my “I want to change the world” attitude. They made my heart ache for the people affected. And, they made me wonder if there is more I have been called to do.

I’ve been involved a little on campus with some anti human trafficking things, and I’m helping in whatever ways I know how. However, as I said before, I have an “I want to change the entire world” attitude, and I never quite felt like I was doing enough. And, recently, there have been so many things happening that have been making me question where to go and what to do. We had Free Methodist missionaries come to one of our classes and talk to us about their work. We had a chapel speaker from Compassion International come. And all the things they talked about- all the situations they’re dealing with and injustices they’re fighting made my heart hurt.

So, now here I am. Looking at old photos from my short lived trip to Kenya. Thinking about everything God has said to me and shown me since coming home. Wondering if I am in the right place doing the right thing. Because, here’s the thing, I love Chemistry- I do. But, I also feel this huge pull to do something more. I’ve gone in circles, asking myself if there is a good reason to be here doing what I’m doing now, if there are better reasons not to, or if there is even any reason to think about all the reasons.

I left a piece of myself in Kenya. And the further into my past it gets, the more I forget so many of the once so fresh memories, and the more I feel the ache of that missing piece of me. I look at the photos from my trip, trying to piece together the missing pieces of the story and of my heart. But, I can’t. All I want to do is hop on a plane and go back. But not just to Kenya. I want to go anywhere and everywhere possible. But it’s also difficult, because I don’t know where to go and who to help, because I can’t help everyone everywhere.  And I also want to stay here and continue my education and pursue my love for learning, and for Chemistry.

And so, where do I stand in the midst of all this questioning? Well, somewhere between super gluing my feet to the floor and impulsively buying plane tickets to Kenya. I’ve done everything from convincing myself to stay here and get my bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate, settling down and waiting to see if I am given an opportunity to return, to trying to adopt a Kenyan child and almost crying because adoptions are closed from Kenya to the US. (And then I remembered that I’m like 12 and am not actually ready to adopt a child yet, so that doesn’t matter). Really, I’m trusting God and trying to listen to what He is calling me to do and where He is calling me to go. I’m praying and reading and listening and searching. Searching for my place. I’m searching for what God has called me to do, to study, to be, and to go. And searching for that piece of me I’ll never find but one day hope to fill.

“If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place.” Mercyme- Homesick

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Kenya Post? After Kenya. 

Last week, I came back from Kenya. I have written posts about what my group did while we were there, but now that I have returned and had a few days to recover, reflect, and regroup, I want to talk about how it all affected me. Because it did affect me, a lot. And it affected me in ways I never could have imagined.

Going into the trip, I had no expectations. We were told by our leaders, and by others who had gone on missions trips before us, not to have any. So, I didn’t. Not really. I mean, I expected it to be a little difficult at times. I expected it to be outside my comfort zone sometimes. I expected God to work somehow in someone, or someones. But, I didn’t expect Him to work in me the way He did.

I knew that God wanted me on this trip. There was never any question that He wanted me there. I just didn’t know why. But, I knew that after the trip, I would know why. So, I waited. I went on the trip, did all the stuff, and waited.

However, about halfway into the week of Quizzing, I began to become a little discouraged, and I began to wonder if God really did want me on this trip. I had listened to stories of others’ experiences so far, and I was realizing that I didn’t have an experience like that. I didn’t have any moment, or even group of moments, that answered the question for me of why God wanted me on this trip. So, I began to wonder if He really did want me on this trip, or if I had gone for my own selfish reasons.

However, as the week came to a close, I began to realize my purpose for going on this trip. The reason God called me to do it. The ways it had impacted me, even if they were less obvious than others’.

God wanted me on this trip, I believe, for two main reasons. One, He wanted me to share my incredible passion for Quizzing and love for others and for Him. And two, He wanted to teach me while I was busy teaching others.

He wanted to teach me more about His purpose and plan for my life. He wanted to show me things about myself I didn’t know. Passions I didn’t know I had. Strengths and talents I never would have discovered alone.

You see, I have always known some of my passions. I have always known about my passion for science, for Quizzing, for learning,  for words, for people, and for serving. But, I never knew how much of a passion I had. Because, although I like people enough, I am not a “people person.” Social situations are sometimes awkward for me, and I am uncomfortable around large groups of people and with people I don’t know well. And I like children, but I don’t have a personality that naturally attracts children. It takes a little more effort on my part to interact with them than it might take others. But, God showed me that, despite that, I can be an inspiration, a teacher, and a friend to others. He showed me how passionate I could be about others, and for others. By the end of the week, I wanted to adopt every single child from the ICCM school we were working in. I fell in love with them all, even those whose names I didn’t know, or couldn’t remember, and the ones who I never actually talked to or met.

While I was teaching the kids Quizzing, I couldn’t help but be incredibly excited. I have always loved helping the Rookies at my church improve their Quizzing, giving them suggestions, and coaching and encouraging them. And that’s exactly what I was doing all week. Except I was doing it in another country- half a world away. And that awoke in me a passion I didn’t know I had. A passion not only for Quizzing and seeing that ministry succeed, but a passion for seeing it spread. Everywhere. Kenya, Togo, the Philippines, and anywhere and everywhere else possible. Because it is an amazing ministry that every young teenager in any part of the world deserves to have an opportunity to take part in.  I have a passion to see others succeed in Quizzing. I want the young Pearce quizzers to do what I tried but never could do and bring back an Alpha and Omega and individual awards. I want to see the Genesis Conference win more Nationals competitions and continue to put New York on the map. I want to see Quizzing grow so much in the US that there are too many Quizzers and coaches to hold at one place for Nationals. I want to see Quizzing spread to so many other places, both near and far, so that we will have an Internationals Finals with dozens of states and multiple countries. I want to clone myself so that I can start a quiz program in another country, spread the quiz program in Kenya, and stay here to help my church succeed.

God showed me that, by giving up my own will, I can do His. I gave up my time, my finances, and my energy to serve Him. He showed me that I may have a plan for my life, but His plan is even better.

He left me with a lot of questions. I am stuck with questions of what He wants me to do with my life and where He wants me to go. I am left wondering if my current plan for my life is also His plan, or if He has something much better in mind. I am left wondering, if He does have something else in mind, if I will be willing to abandon my plans and my interests to pursue His will. He left me with questions of whether my passion for science is what He wants me to pursue, or if He wants me to follow my newfound love for far off people and places. I am left thinking about all of the kids I met, the people I talked to, and the Quizzers I taught, and I am wondering if God wants me to do something with that newfound passion for spreading Quizzing, and His word, across the world.

I am left with joy. A feeling of excitement for all that God is doing in the lives of the children we interacted with. A feeling of assurance that I definitely want to go on another trip. Whether it’s another trip to Kenya, or somewhere else. Whether it’s for Quizzing, or ICCM, or with Roberts, or with Pearce, or none of the above. I am left with a sense of hope for the future. I have an open mind, and an open heart. God opened my heart for Kenya, and I left a major piece of it there when I left. 

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Kenya Quiz? My Students Can. 

Bible Quizzing. As many of you know, it has impacted my life greatly, and it has become one of my biggest passions. This trip allowed me to spread that passion and to see how it has impacted others, both in the US and across the world, and that is a huge, important thing to me. Quizzing has impacted me more than words could ever describe, and I am excited about Bible Quizzing, I always will be. I want others to be excited too. I want others to have a chance to be impacted as much, or more, than I was by such an amazing ministry. I want others to have as much joy, passion, and love for Quizzing as I have, and I am always wondering how to spread that to others who may not have it and maintain it in those who do.

When I walked into the 6th grade girls’ classroom, I expected apprehension, both by myself and the girls. I expected them to be shy and nervous about learning this new thing and being taught by strangers. I expected myself to be worried about what to teach, how to teach, what to do,  and how they would respond. But, the girls were beyond excited to be learning this new thing from these interesting people. And I was excited and happy to be teaching them. Initially, it was a little more difficult than I had anticipated, because I had to figure out what they already knew about Quizzing and what it was, and how much I had to teach them. But, after I figured that out, I had a great time teaching them. And they had a great time learning.

The knowledge these kids had was astonishing. They knew Acts 1 and 2 well- better than some of the American Quizzers I had seen. I asked them questions, and they answered most of them correctly with little or no hesitation. They were prejumping questions left and right- although they struggled to grasp the concept of completing the question. But, they were beyond excited. And that made my beyond excited. It has been a long time since I have seen such joy, passion, and excitement for Quizzing from such young kids. It has been a long time since I have had so much fun teaching something and helping others learn.

During our “study breaks,” Lydia and I taught the girls the macarena and did the roller coaster with them. And they loved it so much. In fact, the next day, on one of our breaks, they asked to do the macarena, simply by extending their arms and starting the motions. We had fun, and we taught them Quizzing.

During this whole experience, I was left wondering how much of what they were learning were they actually learning. I mean, their entire education system is rote memorization. They memorize something and recite it back. And that had me wondering how much they were absorbing. How much they were understanding. Were they just memorizing the material because that is what they were told to do? However, my questions were answered when it came time for the girls to quiz the guys.

Before the quiz, my girls decided to say a prayer. It was totally their idea. And there were so many volunteers to pray, I was taken aback. It made me think about our prayers before quizzes. How many Quizzers, myself included, pray because it is routine? It’s like a checklist. Introductions. Prayer. Practice jumps. When we pray, we spit off some routine prayer that we use every round and have used every round for seven years. We don’t really mean it. Or maybe we do. I don’t know. But, regardless, this prayer was not like that. This was a genuine, worshipful prayer. It really challenged me to begin thinking about my prayers and how, when, and why I pray. It challenged me to begin to pay attention. To stop praying at certain times for certain things just because it’s “normal.” To start praying for things at certain times because I mean it.

During the break between the two quizzes, the girls began singing worship songs. Again, unprompted. They just began singing. These children memorize the Scripture, yes, but they understand it. They know what it says. They understand the depth of what it is saying. They live it out. They really are the prime example of what it means to live out the Scriptures learned through Quizzing. They are the Quizzers I always hoped I had been. The ones who compete well, and know what the Scripture says, but who also visibly live it. They accepted their loss with love and joy, and their win with excitement and humility.

This whole experience meant so much to me. It reminded me how exciting Quizzing can be. It showed me how excited kids could be for Quizzing. Because I have not seen such excitement in a long time. It showed me how passionate others are for Quizzing. It solidified my passion for Quizzing and allowed me to share it with others half a world away. It was an experience and an opportunity that I am glad I took, and one I would love to take again.

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Kenya Have Fun? The Kids Can.

One of the major things we did during this trip was have a Vacation Bible School  (VBS) program for the younger kids at the International Child Care Ministries (ICCM) school in Mombasa. During the program, we did skits for the kids and had crafts or games. It was very similar to what VBS looks like here in the US. And the experience was amazing.

The kids were great. They really got into the singing, and they even sang for us and taught us some songs. It was unbelievably adorable. During the crafts, they were so excited and happy. And that was a humbling and inspiring moment for me. Here the kids were, making octopi, lobsters, fish, or jellyfish out of egg cartons, paper, glue, and string. And they were beyond excited. They played with them. They ran around the room with them, pretending they were in the ocean swimming around. They made a paper craft- something most American kids, including myself, probably would have thrown out as soon as it was brought home, and they played with it like it was the newest video game or IPad or whatever. And I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty and a little humbled.
I felt guilty because I could go home, even “home” to the guesthouse, to more. I could go home where I had a laptop, cellphone, IPod, television, computer and numerous other electronic “gadgets” and otherwise expensive “toys”, that a lot of these kids didn’t have. I didn’t have to be entertained by a paper octopus or a bunch of balloons, because I have Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, and so much other entertainment in the palm of my hand. And I don’t know exactly how much these kids had, but I can’t imagine it was much. Just by looking at how some of them were wearing dirty, ripped, old, sometimes too small, clothing, I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty. i had so much more than these kids do, and how many times have I complained because I couldn’t get the wifi to work or my phone to update?

And I was also so humbled. Because it reminded me that I should never, ever, take anything for granted. Yeah, my parents aren’t millionaires. They can’t afford the newest car, or phone, or whatever. But we have a car. And phones. And college tuition- a chance at education. Something most of these kids could only dream about. Some of them don’t know where their next meal will come from, not to mention how they’ll afford high school and college. The next time I go to buy textbooks for school, or food, or whatever it is I may need, or think I need, I won’t complain about the very little amount of money I have in my bank account. I may be frustrated that it is so little, and I may think it’s not enough to cover what I need, but I won’t complain. Instead, I’ll thank God. I’ll thank Him for providing for me and giving me something. Giving me enough. Giving me a family who may not be rich, but who is still always able to provide. And I’ll remember and pray for those who don’t have that. Whose family can’t provide. Who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from. Who don’t have enough.

Those kids taught me to find joy the little things. To smile amidst any pain or struggle I may be having. To find happiness in the laughs and smiles of children. To have fun playing with a balloon or a paper octopus. To take every opportunity I have been given. To use what I have been given. To trust God. To live life.

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Kenya Church? The Kenyans Can. 

On Sunday, I had my first experience at a church not in the United States, and it was an interesting experience.

Everything you have ever heard about African churches is totally and completely correct. They are upbeat, welcoming, and crazy. There is dancing, clapping, greetings, and singing. And for me, that was a bit of an adjustment.

You see, I’m not really a “social” person. Yeah, I like people enough. But, I prefer to have conversations with few of my close companions than go around talking and meeting a lot of people and socializing with a lot of people at once. And, as far as dancing goes, I don’t do that. Like ever. I was the kid who stood in the corner at prom taking pictures instead of dancing. And they get so into their worship. Which is great, and I love it, but I’m not really that type of person either. I mean, when a song gets really intense and I am really feeling the Spirit moving, I will get into it. I will close my eyes, lift my hands, let the Spirit speak to me, whatever. But, I don’t usually get that into it. I don’t dance. Sometimes, I’ll sway, but I don’t full out dance. I also don’t really clap. I’ll start and then give up because I can’t clap and sing. And I sometimes feel that I get so focused on the clapping that I don’t allow the Spirit to move or speak to me.

So, this was a transition for me. The first thing we did when we walked in was shake hands with anyone and everyone. We introduced ourselves, and then sat down and waited for the service to start. As it began, there was singing, dancing, and clapping. It took me a while to get used to it and warm up to it, but eventually I got into it. And it was a pretty cool experience. I felt the Holy Spirit moving in ways I hadn’t felt before. I noticed myself getting into it in ways I never could have imagined. It was different. It wasn’t better or worse than my normal church services. Just different.

And, I didn’t understand all of what was being said. They had a translator, but everything was still not understood completely. The Swahili songs were not translated into English, nor were the prayers. And sometimes, even when English is being spoken, the accent is difficult to understand. So, understanding what was happening was not always easy. Fortunately, Lyle, one of the leaders on the trip with us, gave the sermon, making it easier to understand. But, regardless of the communication barrier and the difficulty in understanding and mixing in with the culture, it was a pretty great experience. I was reminded that the same God is being worshiped in Kenya that we worship in the United States. The same Spirit is moving them that moves us. We may be worshiping differently, and in different languages, but it’s the same God. And He understands everything. What we are saying, what we need, what we are thinking. Even when we don’t. And that’s amazing.

Our God is the same as their God. He is the same as the God worshiped in Europe, Africa, America, Australia, the Middle East, everywhere. He is the same God who is worshiped in a church, in your home, on the street, wherever you are. And this experience helped remind me of this. It helped me to remember that the church is not just a building. It’s not just a group of people. It’s not just a country. It’s everywhere. It’s experienced differently and done differently, but it’s the same celebration and the same God.

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Kenya? Apparently Our Bags Can’t.

Okay, so you know how you always hear those stories around and you always think it’ll never happen to you. Well, it happened to us. Our luggage got lost at the airport. Or rather, it didn’t get put on our connecting flight from Paris to Kenya. It apparently wanted to sight see a little bit. I’m jealous. But anyway, we went the first day without luggage. 

And when this situation arose, I had many emotions. Understandably, I was frustrated, sad, and upset all in one. What a way to start a missions trip- no luggage. It was an interesting experience.

On the plus side, we didn’t have to drag all of our luggage from the airport to our guesthouse, trying to squeeze 14 people and 27 bags plus our carry-ons onto a small bus. We were so exhausted we didn’t want to do anything that night but sleep anyway, so we didn’t have to try to lug our luggage. On the negative side, I didn’t have sunscreen and my allergy medicine, which meant my first day was filled with sneezing and the constant fear or being burned to death. (And I got a little pink, but it’s hardly anything. It’s not bad.) 

So, we got to our guesthouse, and the girls began sorting out who had enough clothes to share with those who didn’t. And we talked about what we were doing the next day and when, and then we went to bed. And we woke up the next day, some of us wearing borrowed clothes or clothes we had worn for 36 some hours straight. But, we got up, had breakfast, and began our day. Thankfully, it was a pretty low key day with not a lot to do. We exchanged our money, had some lunch, and then headed over to the school. We watched some Quizzing, hung out with the kids, and even quizzed an “all-star” team made up of the Quizzers who had quizzed out during the rounds. We then left, had dinner, and went back to play games and wait for our luggage to arrive. And although some of us hadn’t showered in over 48 hours, or hadn’t changed shirts in at least that long, we had fun. We laughed. We talked. We experienced new culture, and we learned new things. 

This experience was an interesting one. I was worried, and frustrated, and mad all in one. But, despite it all, I was okay. Our team was okay. We survived. And, although it was a very unfortunate situation, it was an important experience. It began our trip by forcing us to trust God completely. It forced us to believe in Him despite unfortunate circumstances. We all got a lesson in preparedness. And, we now have a great story to tell. So, it may have been frustrating or sad or whatever, but we are better for it. And I believe it has set the precedent for the trip- blind faith in God. So, yes, we went a full day without our luggage, but we had a full day of laughs and love, and that’s more important anyway. 

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Kenya? In a Few Days. 

On Tuesday, I leave for Kenya. Or rather I drive down to Indianapolis so I can meet with the team and fly out the next day. But, either way, I’m leaving for Kenya. And this is my last update before I go, and I don’t know how many I’ll be able to make while I’m there. But, keep your eyes open, because I’ll post what I can when I can, and I’ll definitely have some upon my return. 

But, before I leave, I wanted to give one last update. Because I’m terrified- like child on the first day of kindergarten, leaving for your first day of college, first time bungee jumping, unable to sleep terrified. But I’m also strangely calm- like walking on the beach, reading a good book, listening to your favorite song, eating ice cream with your best friend calm. 

Because I’m leaving for Kenya. I’m going to a completely unfamiliar place with some not so unfamiliar yet still strange people- some of whom I have only met once, some of whom I’ve known for a long time, but none of whom I am close friends with. And that’s terrifying. Because being around people I’m not close friends with is uncomfortable for me. I’m not always great in social situations, and I sometimes feel like I’m not saying or doing the right thing. But, we are all Quizzers, and if there is one thing I know about Quizzers it’s that none of that matters because we all love each other anyway. So, I’m confident that it’s going to be okay. But, I’m still kind of terrified. 

I’m nervous, because we are going to a completely unfamiliar place. Like any normal human, I have a comfort zone. And for 18 years, my comfort zone has been my house, my school, my church, and whatever I passed driving to and from them. Just a few weeks ago,  I went on a weekend trip to Canada with some teens from my church, and I was uncomfortable, because I was in an unfamiliar place with people I wasn’t one hundred percent comfortable around. So, flying half a world away, across an ocean, and away from my comfortable is scary. But, in order to make myself more comfortable, I have to become uncomfortable, and following God’s plan for my life means I have to be willing to follow Him into discomfort. So, I’m terrified but I’m also hopeful. I’m hopeful that God will use my discomfort to expand my comfort zone, and that my new comfort zone will grow to include people and places I could never imagine.

Looking forward to this trip, I have a lot of fears and a lot of doubts. I have irrational worries- such as forgetting something important, getting lost at the airport, not being able to get back in the U.S, unintentionally doing something offensive to the culture, breaking my leg, etc. (You know, all the normal fears everyone has but never admits). But, I also have some serious fears and doubts. Like, what if I made the wrong decision? I have turned down so many opportunities for missions trips before- from Flower City Work Camp to Romania. What makes me believe I also shouldn’t have turned down this one? My sister, who went on a missions trip to Guatemala a few years ago, gave me some advice (in fact she gave me a whole letter of advice). She told me that I’ll wake up one day and feel like I can’t do this. But, I wonder, what if that day is today? What if that day is everyday on this trip? What if I can’t do this? What makes me qualified to do this? What if I no longer want to do this? 

But, here’s the thing. I’m not qualified. No one really is. God doesn’t call those who are qualified. He qualifies those He has called. And I believe He has called me to do this. I believe that He has called me to go and spread my love for Quizzng, my passion for service, and my heart for others. Despite my fears and despite my doubts. And I know I wanted to do this, at some point in the past. And I still do, but I’m terrified. But, it’s not really about whether or not I want to. It’s about what God wants. What He desires and wants from me. And after seven years of Quizzing, I have grown in my relationship with myself and with God. I have learned more about Him and come to understand Him and His amazing power more. So, as I go into this unfamiliar place, I’ll remember everything I have learned about Him and about myself. 

I’ll go with strength and courage. Because I’m not qualified. I’m not really ready. I’m terrified. But, I’m also filled with hope. I’m filled with joy and love. I have a passion for God and for serving others. I have an incredible opportunity to spread my passion for Quizzing, my love for others, my gift of service, and my desire for sharing God’s love with the world. So, I’m going to take this opportunity to expand my comfort zone, spread my passion, increase my experiences, and become more informed. And I’m going to do it with some amazing people and an even more amazing God by my side. 

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