In reflecting back on this year, it was one of huge changes. Five students finished Practitioner training and sat for their Writtens. Rev. Connie moved out of her lovely home and into storage as she traveled back to Canada for the New Thought Conference. A permanent home was found for CSLKenya and while she was gone Nancy, Lemek, and others moved into this beautiful new space. 2019, saw three major Cultural Exchange groups experience amazing interactions with Rev. Connie's community. Rev. Connie spent 6 months in Canada dealing with a health challenge and speaking at various Centers. She is now sitting in Las Vegas, Nevada, so excited to be flying home again on Monday.She will arrive back in Nairobi at 6 am on New Year's Day and hit the ground running with a Burning Bowl Ceremony that afternoon! Amazing!
Classes: In 2019, Rev. Connie taught 5 classes a week with a total of 40 students spread out over various stages of Science of Mind including a Prac II class of 5 students. Most classes are held on the weekends because it is difficult for students to travel long distances through tons of congestion during the week. It often takes them between 1-2 hours to travel one way to class! Rev. Connie was asked to add a new class in Kisumu, which she flew to once a week. Kisumu is the third largest city in Kenya and the main city in the west. It also has a large population of adults and children with HIV. Rev. Connie taught Foundations Class to the Youth Team which work with teens on how to deal with the social ramifications of living with HIV
. When it came time for Rev. Connie to return to Canada, two of her Prac II students stepped up to finish teaching the other classes and Michael, a doctor whose specialty is HIV, took over flying to Kisumu and teaching Foundations. During the six months she's been gone, her SOM students have been getting together on a monthly basis to continue discussing this teaching and provide connection and support to each other. It was wonderful to see the pictures of their gatherings and hear all of their well wishes for Rev. Connie. They are truly powerful prayers.
Cultural Exchange Program: The first half of the year, three groups visited from Colorado, Washington, D.C., and Ohio. About 15 new visitors to Kenya and CSLKenya! The Colorado group partnered with Rev. Connie's Teen Group for a week long service project. What a transformation that was for everyone that went on that trip. (More under Teens).
The Washington, D.C. group did a service project at the Briton School, the Boy's Home at Kisii, and a day project at the orphanage. The Briton School is the Science of Mind Community School in the Slum that Rev. Connie teaches at once a week. The Boy's Home is an organization that rescues boys from the garbage dumps and brings them to their facility. They can handle up to 40 boys and they just recently rescued, Nash a 4 year old boy from the dump. They typically don't take boys that young but he has become the heart and soul of the Home. The orphanage is on top of a hill with a windy dirt one lane road. They have a school up there that actually has more available than the Briton School. They have different religious organizations that support them so they actually have desks! Imagine! They had a fire last year and lost many of their beds. The Colorado group did a fundraiser and was able to purchase 48 mattress.
The group from Ohio consisted of Prac II students who partnered with Rev. Connie's Prac II students for a retreat in Malindi, a coastal town on the Indian Ocean. This was such an amazing experience for both groups. The American students did fund raisers to pay for the Kenyan students to join them. It was not a typically structured retreat. Rev. Connie's goal was for the two groups to be able to get to know each other and have conversations in an informal setting. On the very first night, Rev. Connie confiscated everyone's cell phones. She says she thought the Kenyans were going to revolt and go home! Any time they came together in a group, the cell phones were put away. This experience was HUGE! On the final night, she asked everyone what was significant for them and the answer was doing without their phones. One student said is was so huge for her that when she went home, she was going to make her children put the phones down during dinner, etc. Both groups came away surprised by how similar the were. That each group had the same issues with families, life struggles, etc. No matter the distance, it was how we are the same and not the differences that were the most profound take away.
The one thing that all of the Cultural Exchange Groups stated was the most transformative and significant experience for them was sitting in on the Science of Mind classes with Rev. Connie's students. That was, hands down, the biggest highlight of their trip!