I don’t know if I just give off some nerdy psych vibe or what, but lately everybody has been asking me about my major and how I plan to put my $128,000 degree to use. Most people think that a bachelors in psychology gets you nowhere in the employment field and in reality, they are right. I have big dreams though. I have bigger dreams than to just get somewhere in the employment field. I have goals, ambitions and I desire to do more with my degree than to just exist and blend in with everyone else.

Going to a Christian University, we talk en enormous amount about our “calling” or what God is “calling” you to do. We even have a class that is about this so called calling. Let me tell you folks, I really did not believe in this belief of a calling before I found myself interested in psychology and counseling. Yet now, I can one trillion percent say that I know exactly what my calling is. My calling is the burning desire in my heart that I have to become a counselor, to help others, to be their support and to provide them with the skills that they need because the need is real and very apparent.

Did you know that:
-Trauma is the leading cause of death for children
-Trauma occurs in this very country every 4 seconds
-Every 2 seconds, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted
-1 out of every 6 women will be or has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape
-80% of rape victims are under the age of 30
-Survivors of sexual assault are 26 times more likely to abuse drugs and 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol
-Only 39% of sexual assault cases are reported to authorities
-1 in 10 children suffer from child abuse
-Over 45% of abused children are under the age of 5
-Over 1,000 children die every year in the United States due to abuse

I am 20 credits away from fulfilling the psychology requirements for my major and then I plan to apply for a masters program in clinical counseling because these victims need help. Many trauma victims dissociate, suppress memories of the trauma and try to take their own lives because they don’t feel accepted, they fear losing the ones that love them and they don’t know how to handle what they have experienced. These individuals need help. Our help.

The need is great. The number of people that are willing to help is small.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with Law & Order SVU. Last year, I used to tell people that I wanted to be Dr. Wong from SVU and if I couldn’t be him, I wanted to be Olivia Benson. Most people laughed but I wasn’t kidding. Yes, SVU is a TV show but the things that you see on that screen are real. The pain is real. The violation is real. Those very things are happening in your hometown and you probably don’t even notice or think twice. Although Olivia Benson and Dr. Wong are just characters, there is a great call for people like them in our world today.

Mariska Hargitay (who happens to be my woman crush every Wednesday) began receiving fan mail when she first started filming SVU many years ago. Except there was one thing very different about Hargitay’s fan mail that separated her from almost every other actress at the time. The fan mail that Hargitay began receiving were letters of women telling their stories of abuse and rape, some of them sharing for the first time because they felt as if they could open up to Hargitay due to her role as Olivia Benson. Since then, Hargitay has started an organization called The Joyful Heart Foundation which advocates and spreads awareness about domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. The Joyful Heart Foundation has since then partnered with No More, another popular organization that is currently fighting to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

Anyway, for those of you who don’t watch SVU, last week’s episode was about a famous athlete who was taken to court for domestic abuse while his wife stood by his side and claimed that the bruises on her body were not caused by her husband. Also recently shown on TV was a commercial sponsored by No More where NFL players addressed domestic abuse. So I wrote all of you to tell you this:

Go watch the No More commercial and take the time to look at The Joyful Heart Foundation’s photos that collaborate with No More & last week’s SVU.





I Have a Serious Problem

Alright, I am just going to come right out and say it….

I’m a hoarder. *gasp*

You see, I have known this for a long time but I have tried to act as if it weren’t true. Then today I found that cute shirt I bought months back thinking I would wear it all the time and haven’t, yet guess where I put it when I found it? Yup, back in my closet because, well, I might wear it sometime! Can’t take that to Goodwill just because I haven’t worn it since buying it 6 months ago, geez! I might wear that….eventually.

When I was younger, I hoarded toys and knick knacks. I never could quite get rid of anything for fear that I might miss it when it is gone. In fact, my super cool and maybe once used, 3-punch hole ruler that goes in a 3 ring binder that I bought at Old Navy like a century ago while I was still in middle school and used to decorate my binder in my crush’s name, is still in the bottom of my closet today. THAT is how bad of a hoarder I am. I have foot cream and pumice stones in a drawer that have never been used, but maybe, just maybe, I will get gross feet someday and those will come in handy. For some reason that is completely unknown to me, I have two rather large cans of silly string in my closet. I don’t know how they got there or when I will ever use them, but I sure as heck know that I’m not throwing them away.


It is all really quite sad and I often find myself eating candy as a result of the sad feelings I get when I think about how much crap I own. Why can’t I bring myself to get rid of this stuff? I have no idea. Why are there oodles and oodles of empty coffee syrup bottles and wine bottles from work sitting in my room? Well, that is because I might use them for a craft someday, but other than that, I don’t really know, but I do know that I can’t just throw them away.

My name is Madison Reed and I am a hoarder.

Are you a hoarder? Do you stash stuff for no reason at all? Often find random things that you haven’t used in ages yet can’t bring yourself to throw away? Or..have you overcome hoarding? If you have, we seriously need to get coffee and chit-chat it up because if I don’t get rid of this junk soon, I will probably never get wifed up…..

The Remains of Kenya 2014

I’m late. I know. I apologize. I just got so caught up in our time in a Kenya & I didn’t post much about the last leg of our mission, so here it is!

On Thursday we did VBS at Mabatini again but after lunch I had the opportunity to go out into that slums and do house visits. I visited 4 houses with a few Mabatini staff members and social workers and alongside a few others from our group as well. CHE(community health evangelism) uses these cool cubes with pictures to teach about different topics. I taught once about HIV/AIDS using the cube and a few others taught about malaria and used the evangelism cube to share.

Friday was our last VBS & it was with 4/5th graders and flew by. After VBS we had lunch and a farewell celebration with the Mabatini staff. We danced, a lot. We sang, expressed gratitude and shared cake. Then we headed to the Friday Maasai Market and well, that was something else. You have to barter for practically everything in Kenya and…I suck at it. I walked away with some sweet stuff but it was not my favorite experience or part of the trip, that is for sure. For dinner we went straight from the market to Ethiopian. Another strange thing to add to the day. The plate was massive and filled with different meats and foods that you ate with a spongey napkin like thing. I really don’t like stepping out of my comfort zone when it comes to food so needless to say I went to bed hungry that night.

Saturday morning we left for our safari. The safari was awesome and the lodge was way too nice. I didn’t really care too much about the safari but it was fun. By that time we got done with it, I was glad that it was time to go home. Monday we loaded up our vans, drove back to Nairobi and crashed Mary Kamau’s house. We got to shower, eat spaghetti and burritos, watch cartoons and relax before our long journey home. We flew out of Kenya late, so our 11:50pm flight was after 12:30. We had to rush to get to our gate in London, go all the way through American customs again in Chicago and sit through many hours of boring flying but we finally made it home to PDX!

My stomach is still in Kenya mode, used to nothing but rice and stew/slop. My internal clock is also still on Kenya mode. It’s 1am here at home and I’m wide awake because I have yet to adjust. Darn. Eventually I will get back to normal. Hopefully sooner than later. Pictures are being uploaded bit by bit & hopefully through those you can better experience and picture what our trip was like!

HUGE thanks to everyone who prayed for our team and followed our trip. Bwana Asafiwe!

Days 4&5!

I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday here in Kenya. It’s unbelievable how quickly time is flying right on by. The internet here is very slow but i am still so very thankful to have it, that way I can update all of you!

Day 4: Tuesday morning we drove back out to Mabatini school in the slums to continue VBS, only to arrive and find out that a large fire across the street burnt down 68 homes/stores. So heartbreaking. The mood all of Tuesday was very somber, due to the fire. We continued on with VBS for the morning & again it was so much fun. Tuesday was 1st graders, so they knew quite a bit of English and were very fun! After VBS we all crammed intone 13 passenger van (there are 14 of us and a guitar) and headed to Pangani to shop. At Pangani the girls attending school, attend classes on sewing, bead work and knitting and then the school sells the items. I don’t want to tell what I bought since some of it is for those back home but the stuff is seriously gorgeous! When we got back, I had to run to the mall to get some new malaria pills (another long story). We had been given mostly 1,000 shilling bills so Nate & I bought some snacks to break some bills and then we came back, had dinner & got to spend time together as a group before heading for bed.

Day 5: BEST DAY EVER! The morning started like any other day: 6:30am alarm, breakfast, load the bus at 8. As we were only a block from the guest house, Todd informed us that we would get to see our sponsor kids today. So we then had to beg Peter our driver to turn around so we could grab our gifts. Finally we were off! We continued our VBS at Mabatini, with a little less energy than the days before, but again, it was loads of fun! After lunch, 9 of our 14 group went out into her slums to do home visits. The rest of us stayed to visit with our sponsors because only half could make it. This is where the best part of my day began.

I was impatient waiting for the bus from Pangani to arrive. The bus was running late & it had my little Esther on it. It needed to hurry up. I couldn’t wait any longer. Finally I looked up and my eyes quickly caught those of a little girl in a grey sweater and dress. It was her! At first it was a little awkward. Esther is 6(5 in America) & doesn’t speak English yet. She was hesitant to sit by me but then I mentioned that I had a gift and she immediately loosened up. I had brought Esther some clothes, hair clips & a Barbie. She didn’t really care about any of it except the Barbie. We ripped that thing out of the box right away and instantly she flew into my arms to play.

Tuesday while at Pangani, I thought that I had saw Esther, so we yelled her name and she stared for a loooong time. Then a little boy hit her in the head with a rock and they ran off 😦 so when she was sitting on me, I had the translator asked if she saw me yesterday. Guess what?! That was totally her getting rocks thrown at! Granted she did throw the boy against the wall and throw rocks at him too 😉 For the next hour, I got to sit with Esther, play, sing, dance & love on her. She was hilarious and seriously the cutest little thing. Saying goodbye was so hard. I cried. I’m crying now thinking about it. So that just means that I will definitely come back again someday to see her again!
Tonight were heading to the mall for milkshakes and then dinner & our group meeting where we share about our day.

We have 2 more days of VBS and then were off to the safari. I can’t believe how fast time is going by and that in a few short days I will have to say goodbye to so many wonderful people and children. The staff at Mabatini are seriously some of the most incredible people that I have ever met. Their love for the children and community is amazing and inspiring. Seriously people, start saving money and get your booty’s over here!!!!

Days 2&3: Joska and VBS

Sunday, day 2: it was 1am when my eyes flashed wide awake. I had gone to bed at 6pm the night before and was extremely jet lagged but there was no more sleeping for me. I laid in bed until 4am when Robin woke up and we played iPads in our room (playing iPads: sitting on our iPads doing nothing lol). After sitting in bed for 2 hours, we got ready, had breakfast and loaded the bus to Joska. Joska is MOHI’s boarding school for girls in middle school and high school. The bus ride was long and insanely bumpy. There were 3 teams on our bus: us, some other Americans who liked to sing but we’re extremely tone deaf and didn’t even know the words to amazing grace and then a group of crazy loud Brazilians. The ride was only an hour but most of it was off road driving which ended up knocking the wind out of me once, which brought me to tears. Quite memorable.

Finally we arrived at Joska. When I got out of the van I heard loud singing. I asked Nate what was going on and he simply said “church!” We walked into this large covered concrete slab that rang with music. Inside were all the girls that attend Joska, singing beautifully. It was seriously so loud. We were seated along with the other visitors and eventually church began. Now when I say church, I don’t mean the type of church that you’re probably used to. This was insane. Insanely awesome. We started with singing, which I had no idea what was being sang because it was all in Swahili. Next a pastor read some scripture and we sang again. This time, the singing was more like a party. The girls began to dance and swing their ties in the air, some handing their ties to Americans. It was awesome! Eventually a man spoke, none of which I could understand, the girls performed skits & again I couldn’t understand anything but the dancing & singing was very cool. After church was over, we toured Joska and had lunch.

Oh I almost forgot to mention: we found Sophia!! Sophia is the Brock’s sponsor child and my sponsor child’s sister. We had searched all morning for her and couldn’t see her, until during one song of church I turned around and saw Sophia showing all of her friends Robin, Daniel & Nathan. Immediately she rushed over and into Robin’s arms, which resulted me in almost bawling my eyes out. So stinken cute!!! After the tour and eating, we got to visit with Sophia and some other girls before heading out to the boy’s boarding school, where we toured and I had a dance off with a little boy. I busted out the sprinkler and lawn mower and he totally won…

That was pretty much our day in a nutshell.

Day 3: We had our first day of VBS this morning & it was so awesome! When we arrived to the school, students lined the walkway, singing to us. We were then greeted by the staff & set up for the day. My job is to take pictures during VBS so for 4 hours I got to walk around, take pictures and dance with little kids. It was a blast. Something that is super important here is tea time. Life stops for tea. So we had tea and little donuts once and then we’re encouraged all day to drink more tea. The tea is like a chai, but very milky. After we fished VBS, we were served lunch & headed to an orphanage.

I was expecting the orphanage to be a very hard experience for me, but I was surprised. I chose to spend my time with the 3-8 months old, so for almost 2 hours I held and played with a 4 month old boy named Casper. He had the biggest eyes I have ever seen and the softest little Afro. He was so adorable & very well behaved. We could only stay at the orphanage for 2 or so hours but it was great to experience and to see the love and time that the workers and volunteers spend with the babies.

Once we got back to our guest house, we had the chance to go to the YAYA Center which is the mall right next door. I got to eat American food (guacamole bacon burger) and my tummy has never been so happy.

Tomorrow we will do VBS again and then head out into the slums for home visits.

I’ve finally adjusted fairly well to the time change. I don’t think that my body hates me anymore & I slept all through the night last night. We’ve only been here a few days but the time has been amazing & I can’t wait to see what happens the next 4 days.

Kenya Day 1: Pangani

As we took our first steps out of Nairobi’s airport, my eyes scanned in every direction. There were people everywhere, cars racing down the street & an armed guard. The air smelled like exhaust and began to burn your nostrils after a while. We had just met our CMFI leader, Alicia and were on our way to our MOHI bus when Alicia warned not to let men help us load our bags, for they were just trying to get money. Not even 3 minutes later a man approached me and wanted to help with my bags. After trying to politely but sternly tell him no, we loaded the bus and were off. We were surely in a different world.

The first thing I learned about Africa and Kenya directly was that there are no rules when it comes to driving. Peter, our driver, zoomed in and out of traffic. Nobody stops, nobody looks, nobody signals, & the only time anyone slows is for a speed bump. It’s quite terrifying & exhilarating at the same time, really.

As soon as we exited the airport area, we got out onto a highway and headed for our guest house. Not even 3 minutes into the drive, I spotted a zebra on the side of the road. Woah! I really am in Africa right now! We drove through the city of Nairobi to reach our guest house. The streets here are very broken, full of potholes and lined with people. There are no rules for pedestrians either. As we drove the busy city streets, people walked out in front of us, causing my heart to skip a beat. They were literally inches in front of our moving vehicle, I kid you not! People lined the streets, walking in every direction. Some people sold fruits and veggies on the side of the road, some we’re planting gardens. It was nothing like I had ever seen before.

We arrived shortly after to our guest house. Let me tell ya, the place is wonderful. We were instantly ushered to breakfast where I ate delicious bacon and thin & airy pancakes. We had a little under an hour left until we had to be back on the bus, so Robin & I raced to our room to take our first shower in days & to finally change into clean clothes. The shower was cold & I accidentally forgot to close the shower curtain so the bathroom was soaking wet (woops) but it was heavenly and refreshing.

We quickly changed and boarded our bus to Pangani. Pangani was the first MOHI school & is located in area 1 of the Mathare Valley slums. I got sick & it sucked so I didn’t get to fully enjoy the tour of Pangani and I didn’t taste the delicious looking food, but I feel great now and that’s all that matters. After eating and the tour we got to head into the slums.

All I can say is wow.

You see pictures of the slums and you hear stories but those are nothing like actually experiencing it. It smells. That’s just the reality of it. It’s dirty. There is trash all over and other things you don’t want to think about walking on, but when you get past the initial shock, it’s truly beautiful. We got to experience the slums on a Saturday, so all the kids & adults were home. It was kind of like a party. There was music playing, food being cooked and kids playing all over. As we walked through, little kids would come running as fast as possible, yelling “how are you???” in their sweet little voices, grabbing your hands and asking you to “take picha?” The kids love having their picture taken. You mention the word and 20 more come running. Then after, you have to show them all, so your being trampled by 20 kids who are giggling and staring in awe. It’s the sweetest thing.

Although the people in the slums have nothing, beautiful smiles stretched across their faces and families surrounded one another in love. It was inspiring to see.

We walked through area 1, meeting people and saying hello to kids until finally it was time to head back to the guest house. We were all exhausted and decided to turn in early. I, feeling sick, slept through dinner and went to bed at 6pm, hence why I’m awake at 1am.

The food is delicious, the people are beautiful & great things are happening in Nairobi, Kenya.

Today we head to MOHI’s boarding school, Joska. We will have church and spend the day with high schoolers 🙂 pray for safety & boldness as we continue to serve the people of a Kenya!

Our travels to Kenya!

We made it to Kenya! I know that I haven’t been able to post for a few days due to travel, so soon I will post about our first day in Nairobi. For now, here is a preview of our travel days.

Day 1: we headed for PDX are 8:30am, made it through security and departed for Chicago. The ride was bumpy & I was seated in front of the bathrooms. That should give you an indication about how the flight went. When we arrived in Chicago, we learned that we had an hour delay. Sweet! Extra time for food. Then our one hour delay became 4 and we were now stuck in the airport until 2 am. The airport was cold & I was cranky, so I slept on the floor for a few hours. Around 2am we boarded for our flight to London! At this point, I was so exhausted. I had only slept a few hours the night before we left so I was ready for some sleep. I took a zzzquil tablet, put on my super comfy neck pillow and passed out. At one point, Nate said my head was just hanging down so he ever so kindly pushed it up and instructed me to lay my seat back. What a sweetie.

When we originally got our flights, we had an 8 hour layover in London so we planned on adventuring out into the city, but with our delay in Chicago, we now had less time. Luckily for a few of us, a man from London on the plane who happened to be sitting in front of me gave us a tour from the plane and I got to see the palace and beautiful London! We had to go through customs in London and find our terminal, so we had a little over 2 hours by the time we got settled in the airport. We headed for food & were again off on the next flight! Our last flight from London to Chicago was 8 hours of torture. I had slept the last 8 of 12 hours so I wasn’t tired. I sat on the plane restlessly playing flappy birds and staring at strangers for 8 hours before we finally landed. Creepy, I know.

Once we landed, we applied & received our visas (my first passport stamp-yippee)! Then it was time to retrieve luggage. We originally thought that we might have lost a bag along the way but praise god, all of our luggage was here! After getting our luggage we had to once again go through customs which took way longer & cost way more than it should have (it’s a long story but we got taxed on bringing a guitar. Welcome to Kenya?).

I don’t want to give anything away about our first day just yet because I will be posting about it soon, so I will leave you with this..

After getting through customs it was around 9am (I think) and it was time to start our day!