October 02, 2014

sponsoring students ~ gems of the future

i have recently realized the significance of what it means to 'sponsor' a student.  basically it is providing the necessary funds to cover the fees for secondary school which is not covered by the government in most countries throughout Africa.
 
once a student with very little financial means finishes primary school -- which is free in a country like Kenya, as long as one can provide a school uniform and basic stationery for oneself -- the chances of progressing through secondary school diminish drastically because the fees are beyond what the masses of citizens can afford, even for day school instead of boarding (which is very common throughout Africa).

as i am now working with a group of 14 year olds that are preparing to take their exams and graduate from St. Luke's Educational Centre, i am moved by their high resolve to work hard in the most meager of institutions to educate themselves even though most cannot afford secondary school.

when i think of the loss of potential revealed in every child in this world who does not have the opportunity to attend even a basic school beyond primary, it staggers my mind what a waste of human capacity that is..what a tremendous loss to every community that is not educating its youth..and what a responsibility we have to care for each child if we want this world to be the best place it can be..

i do not understand the intricacies of governmental policies, taxes and laws which can ensure that every community provides free education for its young people, but i do know that if it's not set up that way then there is surely something wrong with the system.

i wish i could sponsor all of these students but cannot.  i explained to them that it wouldn't be just to sponsor one of them and not the others, as i am working with them as a group.  they know i am going to try and reach out to our friends and see if any support can come that way.  i thought it's possible, too, to write about it here in case anyone reading may be inspired to sponsor one or more of them as well.  the websites about sponsorship in Kenya explain that it costs about $50/month to sponsor one student.  it is best if it is a 4 year commitment.  if you want to reach the students at St. Luke's who are not connected by these organizations helping other schools,  please contact St. Luke's directly on their website or send me a message.
"Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value.  Education, can alone, cause it to reveal its treasures and enable mankind to benefit therefrom."

September 25, 2014

students' shine amidst adversity

gems of oneness, gleaming with radiance, eagerness to learn, purity of heart, hopeful of spirit.. these are the young souls of St. Luke's Educational Center in Dagoretti Market, a distant neighborhood of Nairobi where there is rampant alcoholism and endemic poverty.  inside the school yard there is almost nothing to depict it is an educational institution except for the obvious benches and chalkboards with some hanging sacks hung by nails that have grammar words written on them.  there are no bookshelves, no posters, no computers, no cafeteria, no sports field, no music room, no pool, no auditorium, etc.  the students use one notebook for most subjects, taking notes from the board instead of books because only the teacher has a workbook to read.

what shines as a gem is the students' volition to learn.  despite the physical and material obstacles in their life -- such as being orphaned, or having no shoe laces, or going to bed hungry -- they come to school by 7am with joyful and dedicated hearts to advance as much as they can so they are prepared for secondary school.  their entire attitude is positive toward learning, and striving to learn.  they don't get to be surrounded by clean, colorful walls with all kinds of stimulating materials; they don't get to have enough light in their classrooms because there is no electricity to light the rooms; and they don't have any of the typical embellishments to a school that make it a desirable environment to be in.  yet they are there for six days a week of their own volition and they actually desire to learn.

when i think of schools in America with computers and sports programs that have metal detectors and fear within the halls from all sorts of societal ills for many reasons, i think how fortunate these kids at St. Luke's are.  they are like a family.  they are a community.  they don't fight each other and bring the ills of the society around them into the school.  in fact all of them will profess how wrong it is to drink alcohol.  they know it is killing their community.  the 14 year olds at the school are mature for their age; they are focused on education to get them beyond what surrounds them.  these gemful souls shine in the ways of loving God, of desiring to do service, and of striving to learn.  i am illumined in their presence..
children's class playing the game 'Giants' to practice the principle of unity



children's class drawing a picture and writing a sentence from the board

Joan, a 14 year old jr. youth - contemplating an answer to a question

working on a lesson in Walking the Straight Path in the field behind the school


playing 'monkey in the middle' - boys against the girls


June 19, 2014

Dagoretti jr. youth 1st service project

yesterday twenty-nine jr. youth traveled from st. luke's educational center to the Kikuyu Hospital for their first service project.  we began the morning by walking to the closest matatu station; the drivers asked for more money than the kids had brought, so we walked further up the main road to the next stop so we could afford the fare.  we waited for an empty matatu and thought only half would travel first, but one by one the kids piled into the taxi with us 3 adults and we all rode together, smooshed but very happy!  the kids started singing songs with great joy as the 5 minute ride got underway.  it reminded me of the days when the Delft kids would sing loudly whenever they were together doing something that made them happy.

we joined the congregational service that was being held at the hospital.  this was recommended to us by the chaplain who welcomes all guests.  the kids were to sing some songs for the gathering.  after listening to a short sermon and some singing, the group was recognized as special guests -- they were invited to come to the front and sing.  i had appointed Peter, one of the older jr. youth, to introduce the group.  when he went up, none of the other kids followed him to arrange themselves for singing; instead they all remained seated.  he spoke quietly and without confidence yet i felt so proud of him for his courage.  this is the first time these students are being exposed to anything related to the power of expression in public.  they are all learning so much in the process of trying to do new things.

as soon as Peter finished speaking, one of the chaplains invited the 'teacher' (while looking at me) to come and introduce the group.  before i could respond, Bilha, one of the mothers, and the friend who introduced me to st. luke's, walked to the front of the congregation and explained briefly who we are and why we had come.  the children had started to gather around Peter but they did not organize themselves well.  some tall ones were standing in front of shorter ones, and they were overcome by a sense of shyness.  all of the joy that i have seen them sing with was hiding inside of them.  they managed to sing 2 songs with the help of the congregation's guitarist but they didn't convey the joy or spirit that is in their hearts.  as soon as the service was over and we assembled outside to wait for the chaplain, one of the older students came to me and said, 'That was a shame'.  i responded that it is a learning, something we can reflect about and learn from.

listening to instructions
after figuring out with administration what our tasks would be and how to organize ourselves, the housekeeper came to give the students instructions.  we divided ourselves between the 'shining stars' (11-12 year olds) and the 'spiritual warriors' (13-14 year olds) and then set off to different areas of the compound.  the jr. youth were eager and excited to clean!  some did garden work; others cleaned toilets and picked up trash.  everyone worked for an hour before going to visit patients.  i was with the shining stars and could see their interest but hesitancy to actually go and greet the patients -- they stood together and sang different songs to the patients they visited in different rooms.  after taking one photo of them and disturbing their concentration i decided to step back and let them go with the matron of the ward.  afterwards we met up with the spiritual warriors before eating a snack and walking home.

washing hands before visiting patients
 there are some significant aspects of this outing.  they were more than willing to come up with the money for the matatu even though their families are materially poor and many cannot afford to pay school fees.  in the same way did they collect money to buy fruit to offer to the hospital even though some of them leave school and have no food to eat until they return to school and have tea for breakfast.  it is also significant how their hearts served so willingly and sincerely; they felt so good after working hard.  they all care about those who are ill; they consciously pray for others who are not well with that deep gratitude that God has kept them well today and that their health is dependent on God's Will.  lastly, they were so happy to walk 3km back to school instead of take another matatu.  it was such an opportunity to show friendship to one another, to laugh and run..to be kids.  i had such a great time talking with them that i wished we could have walked another 3kms so i could get to enjoy our time together more!  i also felt so happy to be on the back roads of kenya and see the rolling hills of planted maize and banana trees -- sights i never get to see on the main roads in a car.  i kept telling them how fortunate they are to live like this -- ie., to be surrounded by natural beauty and walk to many places with a sense of community that they all share so naturally.
singing to patients

it's important for me to explain that these students prepared for this service project without any material support except for printing out indemnity forms.  i guided and supported their ideas of serving at the hospital and called the chaplain to see if it was ok to come.  in our sessions we discussed the math involved for transport and buying fruit; they came up with the idea to walk home to save money on transport which they couldn't afford.  they knew which gospel songs they wanted to sing and came up with a plan on how to cover the cost of buying fruit -- some volunteered with pure-hearted joy to contribute extra money to compensate for those who didn't have any money to contribute.  they met their financial goals and worked together like a family who protects each other from any sense of loss.

we ended the day with reflections and discussion about what we felt and learned from the experience.  i felt like we all grew closer as a group, as well as having shared something special together.
walking home

June 11, 2014

Dagoretti jr. youth group evolves

the Shining Stars singing 'Regard man as a mine rich in gems..'
today at st. luke's educational center the jr. youth groups went through the fun process of naming their group.  the 11-12 year olds came up with many suggestions and finally chose 'shining stars' for their name.  the 13-14 year olds tried coming up with their own suggestions but ended up unanimously voting for one of the two remaining possibilities up on the board: 'spiritual warriors' (which i had added without them knowing amongst the younger group's suggestions).  it was a joyful moment that brought the students closer together as a group.

a great process of learning how to be a group occurred when we consulted about the money needed to buy fruit for next week's service project.  originally they all agreed to contribute 20bob (which is like 30 cents).  today we learned that 6 of them are not able to do so.  we calculated 6x20 to get a total of 120bob remaining.  we discussed how others may be able to contribute just 5bob while others may be able to contribute more to add up to 120.  a handful of students raised their hands to contribute more than the 20bob they already had in order to cover the amount needed to buy fruit to bring to the hospital.  it was a thoughtful and honorable process because they are learning to trust as well as help each other.

i learned today - while we were playing with a soft ball that i had brought - that there is a rift between the girls and the boys.  the girls feel that the boys are not sharing with them and then they ruin the ball and now the girls do not have a chance to play with it.  when the boys were playing with the soft ball the girls started complaining.  it was definitely challenging to face this issue all of a sudden with a large group of arguing kids.  i tried diverting their attention away from the ball issue by introducing step dancing as a new skill to learn (which ended up attracting almost all of them).  but by the end of the session the boys asked if they could keep the ball and the girls started arguing again.  i gathered them all together and described how half of the world of humanity is like one wing of a bird and how the other gender is the other wing.  i explained the necessity of cooperation and mutual respect.  i then asked them to offer suggestions about what to do with the ball.  one girl said alternate days; another girl suggested alternating between break and lunch times; and then a boy offered that they already have a ball so the girls must have this one.  i asked them all to vote and they all voted for the boy's suggestion.  it was a brilliant moment of practicing consultation and establishing a sense of justice amongst the group.

June 06, 2014

jr. youth group - at st. luke's in dagoretti

i have just finished the 4th session at st. luke's educational center in dagoretti.  the group of 11-14 year olds (which we combine for group activities, not the study books) consists of 29 students.  today i asked them what do they like about the group.  one girl said she is growing in morals; another said everything is new and interesting; another added that he is growing spiritually.  they all agree that it is fun!  after the opening prayer and an update about our first service project, i introduced the theme of being a noble soul.  i drew 9 lines around in a circle which made it look like a light, then lightly made a stick figure attached to it, explaining that our body is a temple for our soul.  they easily named 9 virtues to describe some of the powers of the soul which, when practiced and developed, enable us to grow spiritually.  we defined the words 'unique' and 'potential' as well as the 3 forms of 'exercise' and how growth involves pain.

i then gave them a blank sheet of paper to write their name on and pass it to the person on their left.  each student had to write something good and positive about this person's character.  when they received their name back the page was full of virtues and admirable qualities that others see in them, which i asked them to keep in their jr. youth notebooks.

i asked them to stand and sing something to give us energy.  they started clapping and went joyfully into 3 gospel types of songs that made me smile from ear to ear.  their enthusiasm and love for God is so natural and communal that i am convinced that having less money means nothing when it comes to true happiness.  these beautiful children have very little in terms of material comforts, or even essentials, yet they are spiritually rich and fulfilled.  when they pray they exude genuine thankfulness and remember those less fortunate than themselves.

we then endeavored to do an experiment with sprouting seeds by using a ziploc bag, cotton balls and water.  the analogy of our hidden potential being discovered from within just like a seed was discussed.  i made the mistake of not bringing enough bags so they had an opportunity to exercise the qualities necessary to share willingly.

we then went outside and enjoyed some group games, including relay races which were a lot of fun.  as we stood in a giant circle on the field, we closed with prayer and many happy goodbyes.
the 11-12 year olds beginning Breezes of Confirmation at the 3rd session


the 13-14 year olds are studying Walking the Straight Path on their own in a separate room




the teachers, principal, Mr. Kamau, and neighbors studying book 1 in preparation for becoming children's class teachers and animators

May 30, 2014

veils to spiritual perception

"Our spiritual perception, our inward sight must be opened, so that we can see the signs and traces of  God's spirit in everything.  Everything can reflect to us the light of the Spirit."
~ Abdu'l-Baha

spiritual perception is one of the powers of human beings that distinguish us from animals:
"It is clearly evident that while man possesses powers in common with the animal, he is distinguished from the animal by intellectual attainment, spiritual perception, the acquisition of virtues, capacity to receive the bestowals of Divinity, lordly bounty and emanations of heavenly mercy.  This is the adornment of man, his honor and sublimity.  Humanity must strive toward this supreme station."
~ Abdu'l-Baha
there are 3 essential qualities necessary for us to develop spiritual perception:
  • a pure heart
  • the knowledge of God
  • the love of God
yet there are many veils which hinder our inner eye from seeing the reality of all things:
  • material senses
  • literal interpretation
  • vain imaginings
  • imitation
  • egotism
  • pursuit of passion and desire
"..we must endeavor with heart and soul in order that the veil covering the eye of inner vision may be removed, that we may behold the manifestations of the signs of God..and realize that material blessings as compared with spiritual bounties are as nothing."
~ Abdu'l-Baha

May 24, 2014

arising to serve humanity

 a new story is beginning in the Dagoretti market area on the Karen side of Nairobi.  it began when i walked to the small, local grocery store to buy vegetables.  outside of the market is a shop to buy flowers.  with joy i greeted the young woman behind the table as she pruned roses.  she was immediately attracted to the joy.  after warm exchanges of courtesy she asked me if i was a Christian.  from there we have been exchanging heart to heart desires for a better world.  she is a woman who does not want to wait for people to come into the church to be saved.  she is about helping other people; she wants her community to be free of alcohol and drugs and all that is hurtful to children.  i introduced the Baha'i-inspired spiritual empowerment program for jr. youth, providing the vision for long-term investment in young souls to ultimately change the neighborhood.  then one day by surprise she announced that her cousin is the principal of st. luke's educational center in that neighborhood and that he'd like to meet with me to discuss initiating the program in his school.

i was excited beyond words, as if God had clearly answered my prayers to be able to be of service in this capacity in an area that is relatively close to where we live, but i was also very hesitant because i didn't have transport to get there -- i don't have a car to drive and i'm not willing to take a matatu alone because i feel anything can happen that will threaten my safety.  so i called the one Baha'i mother in this area and asked if she could drive me to this meeting and she took me a few days later.

after a very positive and receptive meeting about the program, we agreed with the principal, Mr. Kamau, that we would consult about the logistics and get back with him.  while driving home, my friend generously and lovingly offered that the woman who works for her could pick me up and take me every week to the school.  she explained that this could be part of her work during the week, in the spirit of being of service which is the highest expression of all work we do as Baha'is.  the woman who works for her is also a Baha'i.

that moment made me offer up the deepest praise and thanksgiving to God.  i have been longing to engage once again in a service-oriented activity at the community level here in Nairobi.  the only limitation to the program being held in the school was my transport and now it was sorted so effortlessly through the willingness of a friend whose heart feels connected in the spirit of service to offer her car.
it has been 3 weeks since that initial visit to st. luke's educational centre.  since that time, the principal and teachers have begun the study process for becoming animators of their own jr. youth groups and/or children's class teachers.  there is word that another school has found out about it and wants to be trained as well.  the kids are enthusiastic and grateful.  i have led 2 out of the 3 sessions and have heard from the principal that the kids are really happy with the program.  they are discovering that the potential for excellence lies within them and must be exercised by their own volition.  they are beginning to feel their own uniqueness in how God has created them in order to make this world a better place.  they have chosen going to a hospital as their first service activity which we will begin planning next week.  the school is abuzz with new energy and it's such a bounty to see.

i am already thinking about all of these kids as if they are my own children.  i look forward to all that lies ahead in terms of learning and growth, challenges and successes, service activities and transformation.

"The betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct."  

~Baha'u'llah

May 08, 2014

'Ending Violence Against Women'

ENDING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN:   

Bahá'í International Community statement presented to the 51st session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights

Geneva, Switzerland
30 January -- 10 March 1995

* * * * *

"The friends of God must be adorned with the ornament of justice, equity, kindness and love. As they do not allow themselves to be the object of cruelty and transgression, in like manner they should not allow such tyranny to visit the Handmaidens of God."

~ Bahá'u'lláh


..Violence against women is a yardstick by which one can measure the violation of all human rights. It can be used to gauge the degree to which a society is governed by aggressivity, dominated by competition and ruled by force. Abusive practices against women have frequently been and are still being justified in the context of cultural norms, religious beliefs and unfounded "scientific theories" and assumptions. But whatever its political or religious system, a society patterned on dominance inevitably gives rise to such distortions of power as violence against women.

It is becoming increasingly evident, however, that all forms of violence against women degrade not only the victim but the perpetrator as well. Those who inflict violence on women are themselves among the casualties of power-based systems. When unbridled competition, aggression, and tyranny destroy the fabric of society, everyone suffers. In the Bahá'í view, "the harvest of force is turmoil and the ruin of the social order" and violence against women is a grave symptom of this larger disorder.

Our challenge is to search out new strategies and adopt fresh models that will encourage a healthier, more cooperative society at all levels. We need to move consciously away from patterns of force and aggressivity and towards methods of consultation and peace-making. Because of the rise in crime and pornography, the increase in ethnic violence and the collapse of the family, more and more individuals, organizations and governments are seeking alternatives to violence in managing conflict.

One of the essential ways to encourage more cooperation is through education. While economic disparity and legal inequality are known to contribute to incidents of violence against women, it is obvious that violence arises from ignorance -- the failure to understand such fundamental realities as the oneness of the human race and the mistaken notion that force is the only honorable way to resolve conflicts. Education -- moral, material and practical -- is therefore not only a fundamental right but a practical necessity in today's world. Any attempt to curb societal violence that does not educate individuals to overcome gender prejudice will certainly fall short. At a time when illiteracy is increasing among women in the developing world and levels of learning are falling for both sexes in industrial societies, it is vitally important to reemphasize the role of education everywhere if violence against women is to be controlled.

Ironically enough, the place where women and girls are most subject to violence and neglect is within their own homes, at the nerve center of the family. If families educate their daughters, and if the community systematically encourages the education of girl children, both the family and the community benefit. Bahá'u'lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, has emphasized that mothers are the first educators of the next generation, in the broadest interpretation of those terms, and that where resources are limited priority must, therefore, be given to education of girl children.

But the problem of violence cannot truly be resolved unless men are also educated to value women as equal partners. Any effort to protect women against male aggression which does not involve the early training of boys will necessarily be short-lived. Likewise, all attempts to understand the causes and consequences of violence against women which do not involve men are bound to fail.

The Bahá'í International Community, therefore, warmly welcomes the inclusion of a full analysis of violence against women in the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. It also welcomes the invitation by the Commission on Human Rights to "recommend measures to eliminate violence against women and its causes, and to remedy its consequences."

Since the Bahá'í International Community has invested considerable effort at the grass roots in the education and training of both men and women in partnership, we would gladly offer to share our experience. For example, our recent collaboration with UNIFEM in three projects using traditional media as a change agent in society has drawn the attention of UNICEF because one result of the project was a decline in family violence.* In this respect, we look forward to further collaboration with the Special Rapporteur.

[This essay was published in The Greatness Which Might Be Theirs, a compilation of reflections on the Agenda and Platform for Action for the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women: Equality, Development and Peace, published for distribution at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and the parallel NGO Forum in Huairou, China, August/September 1995.]

May 06, 2014

'Happy' cover by Ayana

  
after living in Nairobi for 9 months, our lives are gradually being woven into the life of the community.  our daughter was invited to perform at the 'Just Kids Extravaganza' recently.  it was definitely a happy moment for everyone!

March 19, 2014

gardener of hearts

for seven months i have been quietly taking in Nairobi, unable to express the journey of connecting with the Oneness of the human race, in all that pertains to experiences, emotions, circumstances, difficulties and joy.  my life is completely full and yet ever-evolving into absorbing more and more people and activities into our lives.
World Religion Day devotional

it feels like the world is always opening itself with more and new wonderful opportunities to serve, love, readjust the lines that keep people socially separated, and most of all learn how to be a better human being.

with every new soul who crosses my path i am treading a path of justice, letting my heart burn with loving-kindness, and thinking of a way to be of service to him/her..

nairobi is a city in which to thrive.  many kenyans are involved in social action.  many ngo's are here with good intentions and high-minded endeavors.  many inter-racial couples and adoptions lend to it feeling progressive and integrative.  and many hard-working, humble souls imbue our lives with radiant acquiescence.

singing at the Baha'i Center
i haven't quite found the words in all these months to depict my own experience here.  it's definitely different than living in Cape Town or Accra yet in some ways it's the same -- because i am the same:  i love the heart of African people.  i look into eyes and see the Beauty of God emanating therefrom.  i see worn shoes and shoes that do not fit properly while observing the long journey taken each day.  i feel the pain while listening to story after story of people being orphaned at a young age.  i am never tired of seeing someone's face light up when greeted with a simple 'Jambo!' and at the same time i am disturbed that they are still surprised that an mzungu (white person) is greeting them.  and i desire for every child to grow up knowing they are 'a mine rich in gems of inestimable value'..

Alvin & his little brother who came for a devotional
we were living in an area of Nairobi for the first 6 months.  we used to walk our children to the school bus each morning at 6:30am.  we greeted people in kiSwahili.  at first they were skeptical and a bit unsure of our intention -- how could we be so friendly and happy they must have wondered.  this is true of the children as well.  but after a short time they knew we were genuine and they, too, started greeting us, sometimes even before we greeted them.  after a couple of months we would stop and meet people, getting to know their names, walking with them if we were going the same direction, and sometimes hugging each other with great warmth and joy.

sometimes i brought a little something to give the kids, like a notebook or a pencil.  they were so grateful and received it in a humble manner.  once we knew their names well they welcomed our affection and even looked forward to seeing us!  when we told them we were moving they were saddened.  by this time i had one of the boys' mom's number and they had come to our home for a devotional.  they expressed hope of seeing us again on 'their side' of the city -- we hope to cross their paths when helping a youth with his proposed service activity in the area where they live, Kawangware, one of the slums of Nairobi.

before we moved, i coordinated with the kids to come by during Ayyam-i-Ha to receive some cookies.  they didn't stay for a visit but were happy to come inside the compound and take some homemade cookies with them on their long walk home.   one of the boys who came by is an orphan.  he lives with his older brother.  i had noticed early on how torn his school sweater was. i let him know that when he came for cookies he could leave his sweater with me to mend and that i would give it to him the next morning.  the next morning i caught up with him before he was about to pass the bus stop.  he was indescribably happy to receive his mended sweater.  he kept turning around as he walked ahead; we continued to wave goodbye to him.  it was the last time we saw him before moving.  i have received sms's from 2 other kids since we've moved.  each time they want to know when we are coming to visit them.

i am still settling in to the new neighborhood.  i haven't met any local children but am developing relationships with neighbors and workers in the area.  life for me is about building community, thinking of 'rendering some service to every member of the human race' and taking care of my family.  it is also about planting seeds, both in the earth and in human hearts -- seeds that are destined to sprout and create more beauty in this world.  i'm concerned just as much about the soil of the human heart as i am mother earth upon which our feet tread.  i hope in time to be working with children, visiting their families' homes, having more gatherings in our home, and nurturing the seed of the human heart with the soil of my love.  i feel like a gardener of hearts..

spiritual bonds ~ holiday in SA

spending time with friends is a source of pure delight for the soul when the relationships have a spiritual foundation and the ways in which time is spent are noble and free of things that are unworthy of our station as a soul.

this sums up how our time in South Africa was recently spent.  we returned after a 3 year absence to see friends with whom we developed familial and spiritual bonds.  it was pure joy to be reunited.

after mingling with everyone in the two townships where they now live, we took a few of them with us each day so that we could be together in a different environment from which they live.  six days later when we relocated to a rented, unoccupied house, we had decided to ask their parents if 5 of them could stay with us for the rest of our holiday.  with their parents' approval, we spent the last 9 days of our holiday with this group of young souls who are like our sons. 
we lived together, cooked together, ate together, cleaned up together, prayed together, listened to music together, danced together, played games together, went on outings together, and completed a study book together!  for our family, and for them, it was a long-awaited dream come true.

a photo display of our holiday this past December/January:

we always love to do the water balloon toss with the kids

their first time up in a ferris wheel

running for a pass playing American football with 'Coach'

pyramid on the very windy beach at Camps Bay
brothers

cooking together

mac cheese, fried fish & salad

playground in Greenpoint
roasting marshmallows

brotherly love

Mphati and 'Coach' at Boulder Beach
hangin' out after playing ball..someone always on a cell phone!

Sami & Bintyi on the field in Century City

best of friends..

hanging out at the ice skating rink

Linda singing 'I'm Building Me a Home' in Malmesbury

everyone loves Coach
Dyami showing his card trick at the V&A Waterfront food court

such a beautiful day at Boulder Beach by the penguins

working on a rap together in English and Xhosa

in front of the Christmas tree at the V&A Waterfront


unity in diversity :)

playing Pictionary

rotating sleeping together..on the floor

intensive studying book 1

exhausted and smushed in our small rental car together (all 7 of them)
recreating the pose that most of us did together 3 years ago

true brotherhood
very happy to be together at the Abedian home
carrying the washing machine to the outside basin to rinse out the water

at a movie theater to watch Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom together

playing American football on the Sea Point promenade

last day together
moments like these are eternal imprints on our souls.  we will discover the patterns we've woven in our hearts with each other in the worlds beyond.  there is nothing that matters more to me in this life than establishing spiritual bonds of friendship.  praise be to God for these moments..