22 May 2017

The beauty of God's artistry in nature - and his resplendent glory - speak to me profoundly

.
These people are nothing but grass, their love fragile as wildflowers.
The grass withers, the wildflowers fade, if God so much as puffs on them.
Aren’t these people just so much grass?
True, the grass withers and the wildflowers fade, but our God’s Word stands firm and forever.
Isaiah 40:8


A delicate and lovely volunteer flower in my small garden

Men and women don’t live very long.
Like wildflowers they spring up and blossom, but a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him.
Psalm 103:15


Another volunteer in my small garden, same day as flower above

Walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. 
They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? 
The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
Matthew 6:28-29


I took this picture of a beautiful Hibiscus, in between greeting folks arriving for church (on the grounds of St. Christopher's school)

When down-and-outers get a break, cheer!
And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer!
Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it.
You know that as soon as the sun rises, pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers. 
Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem.
Well, that’s a picture of the 'prosperous life'.
At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing.
James 1: 9-11


I took this shot of a Poinsettia at my friend, Ruth's, garden. Did you notice the ants?

[A Lesson from the Ant] 
You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. 
Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. 
So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? 
A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, poverty your permanent house-guest!
Proverbs 6: 6-11


This stunning flower and the one below were also at my friend, Ruth's, garden.

Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower,
Like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom, a symphony of song and color.
God’s resplendent glory, fully on display. God awesome, God majestic.
Isaiah 35: 1-2




[Note: All Scripture is from the Message version.]

18 May 2017

Catching up, December 2016: Scrabble games, roasting hotdogs, and other fun things


We played Scrabble twice - Linet won the first game and Derrick won the second one. It can be a challenge for people who don't speak English as their first language, but everyone had a good time!




On one of the evenings, we roasted hot dogs outside with my little chimney jiko. 

Making memories!



Robai and I attended Karen Vineyard's annual 'Carols by Candlelight' at the grounds of the Karen Blixen museum. It's always such a lovely evening as several hundred folks from the community and our church attend. We enjoy picnic dinners on blankets as the sun sets behind Ngong Hills, sip warm mulled wine, and sing Christmas carols along with the choir. In a wonderful tradition, we always conclude by singing 'Silent Night' while holding candles.

Ngong Hills, from Karen Blixen museum, on the night of Carols by Candlelight - always a stunning view!



What a treat to have lunch with Denise when she was in Kenya again. We could have talked for hours! As we headed back to my place, Robai and I spotted this construction barrier sharing a piece of random wisdom.



16 May 2017

Catching up, December 2016: Kayaking on Christmas Day


We attended the Christmas Day service at Karen Vineyard, especially enjoying the 'volunteer' acting out of the biblical account, which is always a delight! Afterwards we walked to the Karen Hub, a rather new and fancy mall. Robai, Jeremy, and Derrick tried out kayaking, mostly turning in circles, but still thoroughly enjoying themselves.



The small lagoon is a great place for photos


Beautiful Bird of Paradise flowers

We had burgers and chips for lunch at the newly-opened Burger King, with Jennifer joining us.

10 May 2017

Catching up, December 2016: Roasted goat and flying a kite on Christmas Eve


Just as we did last year, we again went to Olepolos Country Club for mbuzi choma (roasted goat), although last year we went on Boxing Day (December 26th). It's such a fabulous place, looking out over the Great Rift Valley. This time, I brought some kites with us; Jeremy especially enjoyed flying one for a while.


Mbuzi choma (roasted goat) is a big part of special days of feasting in Kenya

Yummy, and such a big part of Kenya's culture!


A pretty flower on the grounds

Such views like this often remind me of the Nebraska sandhills, desolate yet beautiful.

I had a good and satisfying day, as always, hanging out with my friends!

08 May 2017

Catching Up, December 2016: Hiking and GeoCaching at Arboretum


Because December is a school holiday in Kenya, we made plans to do some fun things together. On one of the days, we headed to Arboretum just outside of downtown Nairobi. The 74-acre forest has been a protected area since 1932, mostly covered by indigenous trees with a few exotic species.



As we walked the 2.5 miles from city center to Arboretum, we came upon this tribute to Wangari Maathai. We stopped and chatted about the mark she left in Kenya and around the world.

“It’s the little things citizens do that will make a difference. 
My little thing is planting trees.”
~ Wangari Maathai (1940-2011)
Environmental political activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner 



We also enjoyed the pretty flowers on our walk. Once we reached the forest, we enjoyed learning about various trees. Linet and I were especially fascinated with the Bunya-Bunya pine tree which originated in Australia.





As we hiked the - sometimes challenging - trails, we successfully found four GeoCaches. Purely by coincidence, Derrick, Robai, Jeremy, and Linet each proudly found one of them.


We found these whimsical benches to be a perfect spot for our sack lunch.

We ended our day with ice cream cones at Sno Cream, the oldest ice cream parlor in Nairobi 

04 May 2017

Catching up, December 2016: Celebrating Jamhuri Day with a picnic at Uhuru Garden


Jamhuri (Republic) Day is celebrated annually as a national holiday, remembering Kenya's independence on December 12, 1963. Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya's first president) was inaugurated at Uhuru Gardens on that day.

For several years on this holiday, I've gathered friends for a picnic at Uhuru Park, but this year a few of us went to Uhuru Gardens for a change.



It was a cloudy and wet day, but we still enjoyed our time together! We found shelter from the sprinkles under this large tree, and enjoyed our lunch there.



Unknown to us, a concert was happening at the park.
We got to hear some of Kenya's well-known groups perform.



We had fun checking out all the monuments representing different periods in Kenya's history. The one above represents Kenya's freedom fighters raising the flag for the very first time. Jeremy, Derrick, Linet, and Robai strike a pose signifying 'pushing (or pulling) together', the concept of 'harambee'.


We got a little bit wet at this fountain memorial... making fun memories!

This monument signifies peace, love, and unity
in Kenya's fight for independence.

As we left the park, we happened upon an ice cream vendor... a perfect end to our day!


24 April 2017

Catching up, Nov/Dec 2016: Two unexpected blessings - Snorkeling and Chale Island


I thoroughly enjoyed an unexpected day-trip to Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Park for snorkeling! While we were at the Coast, Gloria received some money for her birthday and decided snorkeling would be a perfect use for it. She even had enough to treat me!



Because the tide was low, it was quite easy to swim right near the reef and see the fish so easily and up-close. I will never cease to be amazed by the variety of fish and how brilliantly colorful they are. Even the coral seemed especially beautiful, in various shades of pink and purple. I got to see a star fish, too! God's creation is so utterly fascinating.

The low tide also provided a sandbar right at the end of the reef. That gave us a nice chance to rest a while before boarding the boat again.



After our snorkeling excursion, we feasted on a delicious fresh seafood lunch on Wasini Island. These boats were anchored near Shimoni, a small town on the mainland.




- - - -
My second unexpected blessing was a day-trip to Chale, a private island resort. I had somewhat known of it in the past, but didn't know any details about it. While Gloria and I enjoyed celebrating her birthday over dinner, we learned about the option of a day-trip. Later, when I found myself with an extra day, I jumped at the chance to venture out and explore.



It was an absolutely splendid place! I thoroughly enjoyed a nice swim in the ocean and loved that there weren't any annoying 'beach boys' around (like there are at Diani Beach). The lunch buffet was spectacular and plentiful, as was the afternoon chai and pastries.



While chatting with a couple of the employees, I unexpectedly saw this snake about two feet away. It was so still, that at first I wasn't really sure it was alive. Ai! Not only was it alive, but I found out later that Green Mambas are quite deadly! Lucky for me, this one was a non-aggressive youngster.


I spent a bit of time in this lovely pool, while chatting with another guest.

Yet another unexpected aspect to my time at Chale, was watching 40 sky divers arrive on the beach.

Sticking with the theme, heading back to the mainland via tractor was another interesting... and unexpected part of my day.
When the tide is in, transportation is by boat, but at the end of my day, the tide was out.