Sunday, June 15, 2014

30 by 30

I'm not really the guy that celebrates birthdays; they're just another day to me. I love celebrating other peoples' birthday, just not my own. While I don't care much about celebrating them, they still happen. And this year is apparently a big one. The big 3-0 coming up in a less than 2 months. In honor of that, I'm sharing a list of things I thought I'd do by 30, things I actually have and things I still plan to.

Things I thought I would do:

1. Be a high school English teacher
Ever since middle school I really wanted to be a teacher. By the time I got to college, I started to realize that it's not really what I wanted.
2. Be married and have a kid
This one speaks for itself. I thought I'd be married by 25 and my first kid by 30. 
3. Own my own home
Considering how much I've been traveling the past few years, this was not a high priority.
4. Own a BMW
Again, wasn't a high priority with the travel.
5. Write a book
Along with teaching, I wanted to be a successful author by 30 too.
6. Go skydiving
I remember turing 18 and my friend Jim and I thought about it. Then we saw how expensive it was. 
7. Have a PhD
8. Place my feet in all 50 states
I was pretty serious about this at one point. I probably have about half of them in if you can't layovers
9. Get a tattoo
I actually did that one...three times.  
10. Visit Germany
Always wanted to since taking German in high school. I ended up in a different country 

Things I actually did:

1. Moved out of the country
Still can't believe I actually did that! I feel like I lived a full life in that time. 
2. Had a few death threats
I guess technically it was just one, but it was repeated daily for 4 months. All because I exposed a few conmen and their scam. The phrase "I will end your life" or "I will cut your head" became a regular part of my day. 
3. Nearly got arrested in another country...
For being honest enough to refuse to pay a bribe. 
4. Learned to ride a motorcycle
Ended up buying one in Kenya too. Starting to save up to buy one here in the US now. 
5. Owned my own gun
Yeah, I know, lots of mixed opinions on this. But my gun never once shot a bullet that wasn't facing a safe direction. Truth be told, as much as I goof around daily, when it comes to firearms, I'm the guy you want to have one.
6. Starting living on my own
Well, mostly. I just moved into an in-law suit this weekend. No roommates. It's a strange feeling, but I kind of like it. I'm also realizing that I 
7. Spent just shy of a full decade working for one company
I learned a lot working there. Not only about business but about myself as well.
8. Owned my own kayak
I miss my kayak. I had so many great days on the lake with it.
9. Went snorkeling 
I can honestly say that the Kenyan Coast is probably the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. And snorkeling there was an incredible experience
10. Learned to forgive
I grew up with a lot of anger and hurt towards some biological family. While those are people I have no contact with, I have learned to let that anger go and forgive.

Things I plan to do:

1. Finish the book Wild at Heart again.
I've read it a few times and its that time to read it again
2. Run a 5K
I did an event called a Goliathon in April that was a 4 mile run with a bunch of obstacles. It was so much fun that I want t try a 5K. But I HATE running!
3. Read two fun books
I'm reading Marcus Luttrell's second book to start. Then to find one more. I used to love reading, but I've fallen out of it lately.
4. Build a ship in a bottle
Or at least start to. I just need to find a kit. I've wanted to do this for a while but never got around to it
5. Spend a day on a lake in a kayak
Speaks for itself.
6. Have Rita's Water Ice twice
I threw something easy in here :)
7. Cook chamosas 
It's an amazing recipe that we came up with in Kenya. I haven't made them in a long time though.
8. Spend a day on the beach
I can't remember the last time that I spent a day on the beach in the US. It's been a while since I've been around long enough during the summer to do that!
9. Go on a roller coaster. 
I'm terrified of heights but I kind of enjoy roller coasters...except for the hill going up part. I despise that part of the ride.
10. Write a total of 15 blogs on my other writing site
Yeah, I keep a second page too. Mainly devotionals I started to write out. I only have 3 so far, but I'd like to get to 15 before I turn 30. I have the ideas, I just haven't been able to write recently.

There's my list of 30. There are others in all three categories, but this will have to suffice. And because I've shared it, I guess I have to complete most of the last list, huh?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The final chapter of Peter Lojore

I have avoided this for a long time now. I have sat down to write this and abandoned it so many times. Part of me wants to say that Peter is gone and there is no point in writing about him anymore. Still, there is one final story to write.

Brief history: Peter is a boy that I met during my first 6 months in Kenya. When I found him he was beaten half to death. He was covered in blood and barely had a pulse. He was so badly dehydrated. I knew that if he wasn't treated soon he would die. I got him to the hospital (which was quite a production as we loaded this boy on the back of a motorcycle taxi!) and got him some help.

Peter and I became friends over the next few weeks. When I had him discharged from the hospital I offered to get him off of the streets and into a home. That's what we did. It felt so good! This 18 year old was no longer a street boy. Three days is all that the joy lasted for. That's when he went back to the streets. I left Kenya shortly after. When I got back I did not see him. My friends in town said that he was not doing well though. In early December of 2012 Peter died.

I wrote several times sharing his story, but I don't know that I ever wrote what it did to me. A few weeks ago I sat with someone and openly and honestly shared this, probably for the first time. I knew some things about Peter. He drank.  A lot. Most street boys in Kenya huff glue. It's a cheap drug that kills hunger and keeps them warm at night. Peter didn't do glue. But I knew that he drank. One of my friends, who happened to be our social worker at the time, told me how she knew Peter and often saw him drunk. I brushed it off, unable to fully understand how tight a grip that addiction had on Peter.

All I could think was that I would do it too if I lived on the streets. Before you judge that statement, I will challenge you with what I challenge so many with. Wait until late September or early October when the overnight temperatures are in the low 40's or upper 30's (yeah, it gets that cold in Kenya, believe it or not). Put on a ripped up t-shirt, ripped shorts and go barefoot. Eat a piece of bread for dinner and go sleep outside for the night with no blanket and no pillow. To get a true experience, have someone come and kick you overnight as the cops and security guards will often do to these boys. How many nights like that will you last like that? How long until you are willing to down a bottle of alcohol or huff some glue just to feel warm and help you fall asleep? I will start the answering. I give myself one night. Maybe. How about you?

So, I pushed aside the issue. I put Peter in the home of a man that I admired and greatly trusted. I will call him "John". Peter warned me about John. Peter told me that he was ripping me off and was dishonest. I would not believe that. I had known John for too long. I trusted him. Eventually, after Peter ran away, I found out that Peter was right. This man had me so fooled. He's nothing more than a common criminal that hides behind a few seemingly good deeds. The things that have come up about him since make me sick. I saw him twice before I left Kenya in August. It took every once of self control in my body to walk away from him.

Since the time that Peter died I felt guilty. But I don't think that I shared it very openly. When I sat with someone recently I finally said the words that I had been hiding from for over a year. "I killed Peter". That's what I had been hiding in my heart for so long. The thought that I killed him. I saved his life the day I met him, then I killed him. As I heard myself say the words out loud it sounded almost stupid.

There are so many things that I wish I had done differently. I wish that I had paid more attention to his alcohol abuse. I could have found him help for that. I wish that I had believed him when he warned me about John. I wish that I had tried harder to find him when I got back to Kenya. I wish that...

In the end I have to accept that I did the very best that I could with what I knew at the time. Peter made a choice. One that I wish he did not make. But it was his choice to make. And I know that I did not kill Peter, nor am I not responsible for his death. This does not take the heartache that I feel for Peter away. The lessons I learned from his story are some of the most difficult lesson that I've ever had to learn. But they are some of the most important ones too. Even now, his story still teaches me new things. Looking back knowing how Peter's story ended there are some things I would definitely do differently. One thing that I would not change is the first day that I met Peter. If I had it to do all over again nothing I did that day or shortly after would change.

Rest in Peace my friend.