The Evolution of Rehma Soccer

I have been thinking a lot about where we started and where we are now. It kind of baffles me because I feel like I have done so little and yet God has grown it so much.

I thought I would just give a small timeline of how we have grown.

In 2010, Kelvin was asked to coach a team in Kongowea. Now, in Kongowea, there are certain long standing teams that have been in the community for years. They are from certain sub areas of the community. He was asked to coach a particular one that he knew well and had played for years ago. At the time, he wasn’t working so he decided to dedicate his time to it.

It became really clear really fast that this was more than just a simple coach gig. It was something so much bigger. He could sense it. Even I could sense it. At the time I was working with a youth ministry in another part of the city but would spend many of my weekends with Kelvin and this team.

We just knew that God had bigger plans for this than we did. I remember we decided to do a beach day (which you can read about here). We sat in the sand and watched these boys goof around. I think both our hearts were BURSTING with love. We just knew that this was where God wanted us to be.

The day we knew this was something bigger than just a soccer team

So we did it faithfully for a few years. Kelvin spent every evening coaching and much of his spare time hanging out, mentoring, and disciplining them. We started identifying needs and put a few of them into school or gave them a loan to start businesses. We did different life skill trainings with them and helped them pay hospital bills or rent when they were utterly desperate. I think more than anything we were FOR them and they were very aware. We were on their side. We wanted nothing but for them to succeed.

One of many games played with these boys
With their new REHMA jerseys from Canada

In 2012 I started a girls group. Same idea as the boys team but instead of soccer, we had fun meetings every Saturday where we would eat, hang out, play games, and then have a discussion. During the week we would meet, do bible studies, and just hang out. We did the same things with them as with the boys. They were our ‘kids’. We had about 35 boys and 20 girls who were in our groups. 55 youth in total. If you want to read more about our times with them, please click any of the months on the right hand side between 2010-2013 to find out all we did with them.

The girls and I at our last meeting before we moved to Canada

Then we left in 2013. We moved to Canada with the conviction that we were there for a season to get educated, start a family, and gain support to eventually return and keep working here. We visited Kenya in 2014 and decided to do a big tournament in Kongowea with kids. Kelvin reached out to some other coaches in the area and asked them to put it together. The first tournament brought in about 12 teams.

Mercy handing out soccer balls at our first tournament in 2014

Then we came again in 2016 and did yet another tournament. This time the tournament brought in almost 28 teams. Think about this: 28 teams with roughly 12 players per team is 336 kids.

Now, because these tournaments were such a huge success and the coaches of these teams saw the impact they were making on the kids, the coaches decided to create an association called the Nyali Youth Football Association(NYFA). In 2016, the made Kelvin and I honorary members of the association. There are about 15 coaches in the association each one coaching multiple teams.

NYFA Logo designed in Kenya
We were made honourary members of the association

In 2017, we moved back to Kenya. The first thing we did was have yet another tournament. We had about the same amount of kids but more officials and people watching. We got more exposure with some of our representatives talking about it on the radio and the newspapers. Kelvin was made a patron or leader of the Nyali Youth Football Association (NYFA) overseeing all coaches and kids.

Kelvin speaking to the crowds at our tournament in 2017
The stellar coaches of NYFA

Now, the new field has launched in Kongowea and kids are streaming in from everywhere!! The NYFA is now the go-to body that runs and organizes all soccer played on that pitch. Government officials are investing in the programs. Coaches are being recognized. Kids are playing! Kids are out of the streets! Kids have mentors! Kids are getting opportunities to go to school!

Kelvin hanging with the kids at the new stadium last week
Two teams ready to play at the launch of the field

 

Girls are also getting a chance to play! There are girl teams!

One of the coaches with his team of girls last week!

Oh and those youth we worked with before we move the Canada, we still love them and hang with them on a regular basis.

Lolo, former captain for our first team, comes to most of our events and is a local radio presenter
Munira and I hanging out like old times

Kelvin and I sat the other day and really thought about it. We cannot say WE did it. In our conscience, we know that we have been opened to be used to by God but ultimately, HE is growing it. He is building leaders. He is changing lives.

More than anything, we feel humbled that he would allow us to be a part of something so darn awesome.

If you want to invest in the lives of these awesome young people, please click the link on the right hand side to be apart of our support team. Make sure to donate to “Kelvin and Nikole The Rehma Project”.

Oh…did we mention that Kelvin was approached to help build a basketball court in Kongowea? Let’s see where God can take this one….

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Finding your tribe in the graveyard

 

I married into a large, tight-nit, Christian community here in Kenya.

It is a true gift.

It is this group of people who have known each other for a long time. Most of them worked in a Christian ministry of some sort together for a period of time. They are all in the same demographic as us: young, married (or soon to be married), young kids (or soon to have kids), middle class, strong Christians, mostly kenyan (besides the few that have married in like me). A lot of them are still doing work in ministry as pastors, missionaries, bible teachers, worship leaders, bible study and life group leaders, etc. Many of them have other professions as accountants, radio presenters, business owners, retail workers, uber drivers, event planners, bakers, etc.

We meet them everywhere, every day. We do life with them. They are people who always have your back. They are literally brothers and sisters from otha’ motha’s. They make your business their business. They drop everything for you. They encourage you and keep you accountable. They propel you towards Jesus. They realize that we are stronger in numbers; we need each other. We lean on each other. We are better together than apart.

For the sake of being trendy, they are our tribe.

A week and a half ago, one of our tribe members got married. We rallied and gave him and his bride the best send off into marriage as we could. We worked long hours, volunteered our time, gave of our money and blessed them. It is just what we do and we do it so well. Oh, and did I mention it was an absolute blast? How can it not be fun when your tribe is all together in one place celebrating?

A few days later, we lost one of our own. A wife, 34 years old died from complications while giving birth to their 2nd son. The pain and sadness we have felt in the last week has been too intense. But you can bet your bottom that we rallied together for her husband and family. Some were literally holding the husband up when he was buckled over in grief.

While Kelvin and I were in Canada, a few other people in this tribe passed away. We mourned from a distance. We gave our money to support the funerals. We made phone calls to give condolences. We anxiously awaited photos and updates on facebook to see what was going on with our tribe back home.

So when we went to the cemetery on Saturday to lay our sister to rest, I took it upon myself to find our other friends who we lost while in Canada. I am not entirely sure what I was expecting. It almost felt like a cruel game of “find your friend in the graveyard”. Kelvin and I were walking around, heads down, looking for the names on the tombstones. When we would find one, we would call each other over and break down and mourn.

But then we would look up and there is our tribe, scattered throughout the graveyard, rallied together once again for each other.

And I would be pretty confident to say that most of them will be apart of us for eternity.

As a new week starts, I am purposing to hold my loves so close to me, especially my babies and my hubby. I am purposed to love hard to the point where your pain is my pain and your joy is my joy. It is so worth it. People are so worth it. You are so worth it.

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Grandma in Kenya and Mercy Turns 3!

In the middle of March, I was FaceTime-ing with my parents when my mom held up a paper confirming flights. At first I thought they had booked their flights for November, which is when my parents were going to come visit us. Then she showed me a little closer and it said April 5th! She was coming in 3 weeks for Mercy’s birthday. She was trying to keep it a secret. Kelvin knew. But she just couldn’t hold it in anymore so she let me in on the secret. We decided to keep it a secret for Mercy – more for my sanity so she wouldn’t be asking me everyday when Grandma is coming.

I posted on Facebook the first moments that mom and the kids saw each other. It was way too precious. Her visit was a blessing. My kids were in love with Grandma barely giving her room to breathe. Mom was a trooper and soaked up as much of the girls as she could. Kelvin and I got a little break and even were able to have a few date nights – the first since we left Canada.

Her visit allowed us to slow down a bit and spend time with family. The weeks leading up to her visit were bumpy for us and we needed to slow down.

Here are just a few snippets of the awesome fun with had with Grandma!

My mom is training to be a body builder and so her first morning here, Mercy decided to coach her through her work out.

We don’t have weights so Mercy offered to be one

Grandma had to endure all things crazy and Kenyan including matatu (bus) rides with us. 

Beach day!

This is my Baywatch strut

Just us girls letting the waves roll over us and the sand enter all crevices of our bodies

Amina fits perfectly in Grandma’s beefy arms

We had two birthday celebrations with Grandma. One with the entire Opiyo Tribe (excluding a few). Here is the merry bunch. Mercy of course refused to be apart of her own birthday photo with them.

Then we had a party with kids and friends. 

This kid may have stole the show with her charm

She switched hats with uncle O’neal

Her face…

Her face as she refused to blow out candles so Mom and Dad had to

Big bite!

Chocolate cake and Frozen plates is where it is at

I love this picture as it shows this goofy character Amina is developing. She’s such a little ham…

A frozen water bottle for a special princess

And goggles for swimming!!

We discovered this awesome beach resort that had a pool with a waterpark in it for kids. Grandma treated us for two days and it was a blast!

We all got in on the water polo action

Grandma is FIERCE!

Mercy’s got the ball

It was such a gift to have her here!

Now we just need Grandpa to come!

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