Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Summary of our first (of six) months in Kenya...

Today marks 4 weeks since we left our homebase in Tennessee to be at home away from home in Nakuru, Kenya, Africa. It’s winter here with temperatures in the high 50’s to low and mid 70’s. We’ve had frequent rain and a couple of storms with strong winds, raining ‘cats and dogs’ with ‘poodles’ everywhere. But it’s absolutely beautiful with green mountains and blue skies with puffy white clouds  at most other times.

Noah has become quite the Kenyan driver. We get around pretty well in our little Toyota. There are so many pedestrians, bicycles, motorbikes, cars, matatus (15 passenger transit vans), tuktuks (little golf cart like transports), - oh yeah, cows, goats, sheep, etc. -  and you have to stay on the wrong side of the road; unless of course you want to pass. Then you play ‘chicken’ with the oncoming traffic. It’s really a cooperative effort to get from one place to another. Speed bumps keep everyone from going too fast as there are no traffic lights or stop signs. I will NEVER drive in KenyaJ

Cows in the alley way we go through to get to the road.

Close enough!

Don't worry, that truck didn't fall over.

Rapid transit system..... boda boda bicycle rides to town.

Our house is being improved each trip. This time we are getting the shower to work in the second bathroom. That will be nice because the shower is divided from the rest of the bathroom and the entire floor won’t be wet when you are ready to dress. We also won’t have to stand in a bucket to shower. These are minor inconveniences but will improve our disposition in the morning.
Saturday we had a kingdom hiker meeting. We’re working to get more interaction from the young people so we decided to break up into girl/boy groups. Lisa, who teaches the choir, said it’s hard to open up because of being afraid of being talked about. She said that is African culture. Yes, sadly gossip is a big problem -  here and all over the world. We’ll talk about general issues that affect most teens. We want to make a place for them to come one on one if they need personal help.

Noah and Johnny.

Kate's kitchen - homemade sausage.

The family table - lunch time!

Emma and Aowen do art.

That evening we went to Johnny and Kate’s for pizza, yeah real pizza. We really enjoyed our time with them and our friendship is growing. They’re a young couple with 5 kids of their own and 7 adopted Kenyan girls. I don’t think any of them are legally adopted but they have them as family members. Kate has frustrations because they are very withdrawn and don’t quite know how to fit in. They also have a boys home in another house run by a Kenyan couple, kinda like a mercy home. We haven’t met them yet but will soon. Their hearts are simply to help people. I’ll be going with Kate next weekend to help with a women’s health clinic.

Our Sunday gatherings are good. The Youth choir start by leading us in songs of praise and worship. I love to watch them. They sing with their whole heart! It’s evident that they are saved and love God. Our future depends on them and they know it. They are determined to make their corner of the world a better place to live. Noah preaches with and interpreter. That can be a challenge, more so to the interpreter than to Noah. Some of the concepts are difficult to convey in this culture, but the listening people always help with a good word when the interpreter gets stuck. George follow up with a supporting message and explains things thoroughly. We have a time of offering when the children come and sing, recite verses and do little skits for our intertainment. Their leader always starts by saying, “Sit back, Relax, and enjoy!” We certainly do. It’s delightful!  These children are on a path following close behind the young people. Janet, 17 years old, is their teacher.

That's Janet in the blue dress. She's Mary's daughter. Lynn in the pink shirt is Patrick and Christine's daughter.

We went to Mary's farm. Mary became a widow last year when her husband was killed in a motorcycle accident. She has 3 children at home and works hard to feed her family. All the food she grows goes to feed the family including helping her older children who don't live at home. Millie, her son's wife, helps her a lot at home. They are a precious family and we always are encouraged by every one of them.

Mary with Millie in the background.

Elkana holding Leon, Millie's son, Mary's grandson.

Untangling the cow. 

The two children who gave their lunch money for the building.
After the gathering there are usually meetings for men/women every other week. This week we had a fundraiser to buy building materials for a meeting place. It’s called a “harambi” – that means a gathering of people to share their possessions for a common purpose. It’s a lot of fun. What impressed me the most was the two children who gave up their lunch money to donate to the building fund.  Mr. Moniki has given of his time and money to supervise and work on the construction. He’s done a mighty good job. We all appreciate him. They auctioned off boiled eggs, green onions, cups of porridge for the kids. These items went fast because everyone was getting hungry. At last there wasn’t anything left to auction so Simon and Kenford went around collecting ladies handbags and Noah’s bag. George bought Noah’s bag so Noah insisted on buying Georges van keys. Everyone got a good laugh. The items were returned to the proper owners after the money was collected.

I think she's desperate:) 

Monday is grocery shopping day. We go to a newer supermarket. You never know who you’ll meet there. Nikki found a friend. He’s kinda boring though. Doesn’t talk and he works all the time. Then we go to Tusky’s for really good whole wheat, fresh baked bread. All in all we usually end up at 3-4 different stores to find the things we need. Nellie goes to the open market to get most of our produce.

We’re taking lessons in Kiswahili from Christine. After the lessons we talked to her about ways to reach out. She has a lot of experience with social working in the community. Classes in nutrition and hygiene, parenting and marriage, are some ideas we had. We’re hoping to be able to implement the I-SEE program – (helps provide eye glasses to needy people for less than $5 a pair). Our hope is to get the building done so we can have a place to meet.

That's Simon's sister Grace and me. 

In the evenings we chat in the living room, read books, email and wind down from the day. It’s especially fun to sit and make jokes when the electricity is off. Candle light conversations are a good way to stop and reflect on the day. Thank you for all your comments. I love to read them.

May God keep us together by His Great Love!

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Typical Day in Kenya.....

Beatie buying greens at our front gate.
I'm awakened each morning around 5:30 am, by the 'cock a doodle do' of Nellie's rooster. Shortly after that, I hear the clanging of the iron gate, as Beatie goes out to turn on the water pump. It’s a rather pleasant awakening, much better than the buzz of an alarm clock. By the time I’m actually out of bed it’s close to 7 am. I get up, collect my things, and go to the shower. We’ve learned a few techniques. First, don’t touch the hot water switch while you’re standing in a bucket of water. You’ll get shocked. Secondly, don’t take too long. Someone is waiting.

Mary, our cook.
Breakfast is next on the agenda. Nellie and Beatie have been cooking breakfast most mornings. Yesterday we had boiled ‘sweet potatoes’ – they taste something like our sweet potatoes crossed with a red potatoe – not very orange but very good; also fresh fruit – mango, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, and grated beet root – yogurt and granola from England. Today Nikki and I made egg sandwiches – it’s Georges’ favorite. We go out to the little kiosk on the corner of the building to buy eggs from Mary. There are lots of Mary’s in Nakuru. After breakfast, and all meals, we boil water to wash dishes. I put up a menu for Mary, our cook, to follow when she gets here around 2 pm. Then we go to our room for morning devotions and prayer. A great way to start each day.
Nikki got sunburned pretty bad on Sunday. She sat on the back row of the tent where the sun was directly on her white skin for 3-4 hours. I’ve been putting aloe lotion on her back and it’s getting better.

I fixed the curtains in our room, with Simons help, so they actually hang from the rod and can be opened and closed with ease. It’s amazing how many inconveniences we're getting used to here. Americans are so used to having things easy. We’ve actually had that same curtain every visit for 4 years so it seemed a good time to fix it.

We check email throughout the day, write blogs and emails. Yesterday I cut out a dress for Nellie. I went to sew but when I plugged in my machine it blinked on and off and then wouldn’t do anything. I didn’t know not to plug a 110v machine into a 220v outlet without a converter:-/  I’m trying to find out if there’s any way to reset it.

Teresa June
Today we went to town to meet Teresa June for lunch. That was fun and productive. We’ll be getting together with other missionaries as they meet about once a month or so. It’ll be good to connect with them and see if we can work together in any way. She also told me she has a sewing machine I can borrow. She got it for free from a mission she worked with. It’s a ‘White’, that’s a good brand, and I’m going to take her up on it.

Monkeys everywhere!
We bought a little car to get around town in. Since we’re going to be here 6 months and George has work etc. We thought it would be worthwhile to have the ability to come and go as we need. Noah is a good driver over here. It’s a Toyota, as are most vehicles here. Runs well but has a few glitches Noah and George are getting fixed. It’s in the car wash now getting cleaned up. We bought it from Johnny and Kate. It will help them with some financial needs they have taking care of orphans in their home. We took it for a spin and showed Nikki the monkeys at Lake Nakuru Park. We really want to spend more time with people on a daily basis rather than being mostly focused on meetings. The car will really make that possible.

Tuesday night we went to Anna’s house for a ‘clan’ meeting. There are two groups that meet in each other’s homes every Tuesday and help each other with daily needs. Last night Noah taught at the tent. We had a good group of people half of which were young people. They are hungry to learn and delightful to be with. The kids are telling us how grateful they are to their sponsors for the LEARN program. They’re happy to be going to school and hopeful for a better future.

Working on the concrete at the meeting tent.

We came home to dinner and conversation in the living room before we head for bed. We’ve made the adjustment to time change and are sleeping well now as most of you back home are going about your day. Think of us as we think of you. God’s grace be upon us all. 
LEARN students

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Gathering in His name

The gathering Sunday started with worship and praise led by the youth choir. The young people are very lively and sincere in their love of God and it shows in their service to the church in many ways.

Abraham Molika

As we sang we noticed a gentleman in background quietly, discreetly working on the concrete platform behind the choir. This man is called Abraham Molika. He has given his time and money to begin to build a more permanent place for us to meet in. He came early to finish but was unable to complete it before the gathering. So he just kept working as we sang praises to our God. We are praying for grace, finances and workers to help complete a more permanent structure. Meeting under the tent is difficult especially during the rainy seasons.
Later, Noah spoke about worship. Our worship is not merely singing on Sunday but also we worship by our doing. Mr. Molika was a perfect example to us all as he labored to complete the work he had begun.  What a picture!  Worship in song and deed, both being done simultaneously, as an acceptable offering to the Lord.

I don’t think I can do justice to the message that day. Suffice it to say Noah was clear and inspiring. He encouraged everyone not to grumble and argue (Phillipians 2:12-18) but rather to be a light in the darkness. Just as the stars in the sky, so are we on the earth bringing light to the nations. The day of the Lord is near. Malachi 4:1-3. Then George encouraged everyone to come out of the traditions of men; to take root and bear fruit (Is 37:31). True fellowship brings the power of God.

As we collected the tithes and offerings we were delight to listen to the children sing and watch the Youth dance to the Lord. Then we broke into two groups for men and women’s meetings. The men continued to make plans for the building while the women shared in fellowship together.
Lloyd, Simon and Kenford

We came home and had a nice meal of beans and rice prepared by our awesome Beatie. She is truly a blessing in our house.

Thank you for all your prayers. We feel your love towards us everyday.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Journey

Just a quick post to say we are here in Kenya safe and sound. Well maybe not ‘sound’ but we’re getting there.

We left our homes in Rose Creek Village, Tennessee after a couple of very busy weeks getting ready to go. We got to participate in Noah and Dassi’s wedding because of their love and thoughtfulness. They set the date considering our departure. What a lovely couple they are! Truly a picture of Godliness in marriage.
Our first stressful moment was realizing I had read the itinerary wrong thinking our flight was departing at 2:30pm. When I went to check in on line I found that we were to depart 2 hours earlier. I was grateful to catch that mistake the day before. We regrouped and left the village at 6:00 am instead of our plan for 8:00 am. We also had a change in drivers. Tabach and Hashachar called Doug and Tara at 5:30 asking if they could be replacement drivers because their daughter was in labor. Good reason. Doug and Tara were right on time. So we headed out for the 3 hour ride to Nashville. As we finally boarded our first connection we were pretty wound up. It was fun watching Nikki. She got a little nervous on take off…. as in, her knuckles turned white from gripping the arm rest. But she told us she was our good luck on this trip.

Next stop, JFK international airport in New York. We took the tram to the next ‘terminal’….I never liked to use that word upon departing the country…We went through security again with our carryon baggage, then had our last American meal for 6 months. I had a really good pepperoni/mushroom pizza baked in a brick oven while Noah and Nikki had, you guessed it, Mac Donald’s burgers and fries.

As we boarded the plane for London we were still pretty wound up. It was an uncomfortable 8 hours and 40 minute flight, trying to rest but too tired to succeed. We were 40 minutes late because of tail winds but still had a 3 hour layover. We had to go through security with our carryon baggage again in London. We were finally starting to relax so we boarded the plane and took our seats. After a while we realized that Noah had 2 empty seats next to him. We were holding our breath as the last few passengers trickled, in hoping those seats would stay empty. They did. Yeah! I took the window seat leaving an empty seat between us, and Nikki moved over to the aisle seat giving her an empty seat between herself and another passenger. We got some rest on this 9 hour flight and felt pretty good by the time we reached Nairobi at 9 pm Kenya time, after about 32 hours of travel.

George was there waiting, and so was all our luggage, according to Nikki, because of her good luck. We checked in to our favorite Santon Palace Hotel in Nairobi, went to a little take out place for some samosas and chips (home fries). We went back to the hotel and slept all night.

Next morning we got up, had breakfast and left for Nakuru. The scenery was breathtaking. There’s been a lot of rain so everything was green and beautiful. We stopped halfway at our favorite rest stop for some chai then continued on to Nakuru. We were greeted by Nellie, Michelle and Beatie, and Simon, Kenford and Lloyd.
It’s good to be home!