How I Once Volunteered
A True Story
on Aug 10, 2023
Right now as I pen this story, I am listening to "Canon in D Major", a soulful piece of classical music by Johann Pachelbel. The music conjures up in my mind memories of the time I volunteered to teach piano at a remote Catholic church in Kamuongo, Eastern Kenya, during the 2006 August holiday when I was a student in the institute division of Starehe Boys' Centre.
It was the late Anthony Munyao, a schoolmate of mine at Starehe, who had me volunteer at Kamuongo Catholic Church. He connected me to Fr. Vadakara, an Indian priest in charge of the church. And as soon as Fr. Vadakara and I got in touch, we arranged how I would travel to Kamuongo.
Although I can't recall how the weather was like on the morning I left Nairobi for Kamuongo, I do remember leaving home early in the morning, carrying a bag of clothes and the books I would read while at Kamuongo. Among the books I carried was Todd Siler's Think Like a Genius.
The journey to Kamuongo turned out to be quite long, for it involved boarding several public service vehicles. I arrived at the church in the evening just before darkness set in. Fr. Vadakara welcomed me warmly.
On the day that followed, which was a Monday, I was introduced to the students I would teach piano. For some strange reason, I can't recollect how many they were. All I remember is me beginning to tutor them piano and music theory with admirable zeal.
As our music lessons progressed, the number of students in my class dwindled. I only had two students at the end of the second week. And I was such a demanding teacher that I would pinch them on the fingers when they were slow at understanding my instructions. That's until one afternoon when they protested at my harsh way of teaching. Their protest softened me.
I taught the two students quite a lot in a short span of time. Among the things I had them learn were how to read sheet music, how to harmonize melodies on a combined staff, how to name keys on a piano and how to play the C Major scale on the piano using chords.
Well, the musical instrument we used was not a real piano but an electric piano keyboard. The piano keyboard had a recording of Pachelbel's "Canon in D" which I loved listening to in my spare time. That's why the piece of music conjures up in my mind memories of my time at Kamuongo, even to this day.
As far as I can remember, I stayed in Kamuongo for about three and a half weeks. And during those weeks, Fr. Vadakara treated me with enormous kindness. He always ensured I was well-fed by his cook. And he regularly invited me to dine with him in his mansion.
Fr. Vadakara also had a great respect for me, probably because I was schooling at Starehe Boys' Centre, one of the best institutions of learning in Kenya back then. He requested me to give a talk to youngsters in his church. I gladly acceded to his request and delivered to the youngsters a speech in which I challenged them to think like geniuses.
Besides teaching piano and giving a talk to church members at Kamuongo Catholic Church, I also learnt something valuable during the three and a half weeks I was at Kamuongo. That was how to ride a bicycle after one of my piano students freely allowed me to use his bike.
I will never forget the evening when, as I was learning how to operate the bike, I went for a ride on a sloping road next to the church. And yikes! The bike coasted down the road at full speed and I hadn't yet mastered how to control it. Fortunately, I didn't hit any of the men, cattle and donkeys that were on the road. I just reached safely down the road without causing any harm. That was my guardian angel protecting me from danger.
Soon after I mastered how to ride the bike, I would go cycling in the evening to areas surrounding the church. The areas were so dry and dusty that they almost resembled a moonscape, perhaps because I visited Kamuongo during the drought season.
All told, I thoroughly enjoyed the three and a half weeks I volunteered to teach piano at Kamuongo Catholic Church. The food there was great, the people were friendly and the environment serene. My only regret is that I never had a photo of myself taken there. How I would have loved to see pictures of my time at the church!
NEW! NEW! NEW! If you missed my social media update two days ago, let me take this opportunity to inform you that I have produced another hymn titled "Accept My Heart". Just click on that link in blue to access and listen to the hymn.
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Making Each Day Count
A True Story
on Aug 5, 2023
Kathie Gifford, a famous media personality in America, is quoted to have asked, "Wouldn't it be a wonderful feeling to wake up in the morning and understand that no matter what goes on today, God can make something good out of it?"
That quote by Kathie Gifford has inspired me to make each of my days count. I just don't want my days to be like they were in 2009. Okay, let me tell you more.
If you don't know my life history, let me inform you that I matriculated at a local university called JKUAT in May 2007 to pursue a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering. Somehow, I messed up at the university in my second year. That made me repeat class in 2009.
When I repeated my second year at JKUAT in 2009, I suffered from bouts of regret and loneliness. Regret for having messed up the previous year and loneliness for being surrounded by new faces in class while my former classmates had forged ahead with their studies to third year.
Due to that unhealthy dose of regret and loneliness in my soul, I felt very unmotivated. Unlike the previous two years, I didn't read avidly, play the piano or attend church as I repeated class in 2009. The little I read were the course books whose knowledge didn't sink into my mind because of my lack of motivation.
My parents were unaware of the emotional turmoil I was going through at JKUAT in 2009. They thought I was hard at studies. For how else can you explain that my father bought me an expensive and voluminous book on electrical measurements?
But how wrong my parents were if they thought I was hard at studies! I was actually infernally lazy, often spending my time sleeping, surfing the internet aimlessly, hanging out with feckless friends and watching the FIFA Confederations Cup. Not surprisingly, I dropped out of JKUAT in August 2009. And that made 2009 look like a wasted year for me.
In 2010 while I stayed at home pondering on what to do next with my life, I feared the year could also go down the drain. But then, I picked John Mason's Conquering an Enemy Called Average. And wow! The book invigorated my spirits and reconnected me to my true self.
And when I enrolled at the University of Nairobi (UoN) in September 2010 to pursue a less demanding degree than the one I had studied at JKUAT, my enthusiasm soared higher. I enjoyed learning my new course and interacting with the friends I made at the university.
Although I didn't finish my degree course at UoN due to financial constraints, at least I discovered I had a talent for writing while at the university. It was during my time there that I set up my first blog. And since then, I have never looked back.
Blogging has infused me with a zest for living. I love connecting with people all over the world through the stories and videos I post on this blog. And I hope some youngsters out there get inspired by my blog the way John Mason's Conquering an Enemy Called Average invigorated me in 2010 when I was at a low ebb.
Over the past seven years since I rebranded this blog to what it looks like now, I have felt my years become more meaningful. They have not been like 2009 which was more of a waste for me.
After being inspired by the words of Kathie Gifford I have quoted above, I recently thought it wise to shift my focus from years to days by making each of my days count and letting the years take care of themselves. I have therefore resolved to keep rising before dawn every day to engage in my hobbies regardless of what has happened the previous day.
It has dawned on me that we often lose ordinary moments of living by focusing too much on the big events of our lives. But life is too precious to let any day go to waste. That's why I have resolved to make each of my days count. I will seize ordinary days and make them extraordinary.
My beloved reader, I challenge you to also make each of your days count. Don't idle at home or in your workplace. Instead, perfect your work or find a meaningful hobby to occupy your time. Or to borrow the words of Kathie Gifford, make something good out of each day. Ciao!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed the above story on making each day count, you might also enjoy another one on "Some Bad Days I Once Had" which I wrote about five years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.