06 December 2006

Lake Victoria

Washing motor vehicles and bicycles is a common practice at the lake's edge. Naturally, oil falls off the vehicles and pollutes the water. Environmental issues are basically ignored in Kenya.

I see this guy in various places almost every time I pass through Kisumu. He seems to be totally oblivious to the rest of the world. Shoeless, he shuffles around the city streets obsorbed in his own thoughts. Interestingly, he always has a bottle of water with him. While we ate our fish, he simply stood here for about 30 minutes. Now and then he would move over a plastic chair a few inches. Basically, he just stared out at the lake and the rain. Everyone else just carried on with their business and ignored him. I think it would be interesting to know his life story.

Collins and I shared this large talapia, greens, and ugali - all eaten with our fingers. It was simply scrumptious! Talapia is a delicious fish and is especially so when cooked fresh! While we ate, a heavy downpour added to the environment. Rain came through the reed shingle roof in numerous places; all the many customers (including Collins and I) simply adjusted their locations accordingly.
Street boys came into the various crudely constructed cafes (about a dozen eateries all next to each other in a row) - either to scrounge leftovers or to attempt to stay dry. The cafe workers politely shooed them away now and then. For the most part, they were sympathetically tolerated.
Hawkers sellling everything from jumper cables to hats of various styles to jewelry to.... you name it.... strolled through the tightly situated tables. There was even a roaming tailor (with samples of his suits and a measuring tape hanging on his shoulder) and a roaming artist (with a sample of his paintings hanging from a string around his neck)!
A church group bravely conducted a baptism service in the lake - and the cold, windy rain! I admired their determination in spite of the weather! The service was accompanied by singing and a couple of drums and other traditional instruments. To me, it added a lot to the almost carnival-like atmosphere of the whole experience.
It's a memory Collins and I won't soon forget!

Another Funeral

Rose and Sammy's grandmother recently passed away. I attended the funeral at Sikhendu (near Kitale). The top photo is Rose's grandfather. He was honored that I came to the funeral. I really like him; he's a cool guy. I had visited the homestead and family on two different occasions and enjoyed talking to him. The bottom photo is Rose and her mom, Doris.


Bougainvillea is so beautiful! It blooms year-round here in Kenya but is especially radiant during the raining seasons. These two photos are of a bush at my place in Matunda. It also can have orange, red, white, yellow, and maroon blossoms.

It's definately the season of croaking frogs, puddle jumping, carrying ones "brelly", and daily cleaning mud from ones shoes. The so-called "short rains" have been especially heavy this year. Even the arid areas of Kenya have experienced severe flooding. Many people and livestock have died. Homes, roads, and bridges have been washed away.

A year ago, the short rains "failed" leading to severe drought that also took the lives of many people and livestock. Kenya seems to always be caught in the middle of two extremes.

Glimpses of Rural Life in Kenya

I have no idea who these hens belong to. There's about a dozen of them that hang around my place. Nathan says, "They bring blessings. Even before you wake up at 6:00am, they're already in your compound praying for blessings for you!"

Martin helped me plant a bush. This is the typical way holes are dug (with a short-handled "jembe" or hoe). The bush - a mimosa picuna - was given to me by a nursery owner near my place in Nairobi. When its leaves are touched, they close up for about 5 minutes.

Laban and Sammy

These are Nathan's and Alice's boys. Laban is about 6 and Sammy is about 2. Sammy is holding a mango I gave him. I didn't get a photo of "little Deb" (named for me). She's now almost 4.

01 December 2006

December Prayer Letter

Praise -
  • Safety on the road can never be taken for granted anywhere in the world, I imagine. However here in Kenya, where the roads are absolutely atrocious, it is the case even more so. Collins and I recently covered many, many miles with no incident. On the 24th, we boarded six different matatus and four boda bodas (bicycle taxis) - for a total of 10 vehicles! The following day, we again boarded six different matatus plus two boda bodas and one tuk tuk (3-wheel, motoroized taxi) - for a total of 9 vehicles! Another factor is that each and every matatu was grossly overloaded with passengers - not only an illegal practice, but a very dangerous one as well. To top it all off, on the 24th, we also had a 45-minute walk in complete darkness and the rain. As we finally boarded our last vehicle of the day (already overloaded), we grabbed onto anything we could find, ducked our heads inside, with the rest of our bodies hanging outside in the rain!

  • We found Charles, Agnes, and family doing well. We celebrated Duane's 2nd birthday. Many of you may remember the story of my assisting with his birth. (See photos below.)

  • The Siaya well is finished! This is a project that one of my readers/supporters took on. (See photos below.)

  • My choo (toilet) and bathroom have seen good progress! I'm excited to have my own personal facilities at my Matunda place! (See photos below.)

Prayer -
  • Collins is spending the next two weeks with me in Nairobi. Please pray that I'll impart into his life all that God has in mind.

  • Bishop and Margaret's church building, offices, Sunday School building, and toilets in Kayole (home to a congregation of about 400) was recently completely demolished by the local authorities. Apparently the person who sold them the land was not the legitimate owner. This sort of land controversy is rather common in Kenya. Shocked and saddened, they are nevertheless pressing on by God's grace. Pray with them that God will direct them to a new home.

  • I'll be on the road again between the 13-21st of December. Please pray for my safety.

If you'd like to send me a Christmas card, I'd appreciate it!
PO Box 1534
Nairobi, Kenya 00502

If you'd like to send me a year-end contribution, I'd appreciate that as well!
PO Box 34083
Omaha, NE 68134

"I'm not one of your professional prophets. I certainly never trained to be one. I'm just a shepherd and I take care of fig trees. But the Lord called me and told me to go..." Amos 7:14, 15

"One individual life may be of priceless value to God's purposes and yours may be that life." - Oswald Chambers

Duane is 2 Years Old!

The small 2-room place where they live (at Sirisia market) also doubles as a cafe. This drawing on the wall is the only thing that attempts to provide a dining ambiance.

Duane (named for my dad) is a happy and active 2-year old!

Here he is with his dad, enjoying "kuku" (chicken) and millet ugali.

With his brother, Pope (Popino)

Siaya Well Project

Joseph and Agnes proudly and happily pose at the well. Before, they had a very long walk to a tiny stream where they fetched water. The same stream was also used by the community for watering livestock, bathing, and laundry. Now they not only have water available right outside their house, it should also be a bit safer to drink! Three of their neighbors also use their new well. The first person to draw water was a widow friend of theirs.

I took some sodas so we could appropriately celebrate the occasion. Collins is the one with a hat. The other young man is Morris. He was one of the workers and has since stayed on to help Joseph around their place. They've become friends and Joseph is telling him about the good news of Jesus.

A recent report by the UN states:

  • 1.8 million children in the world die annually from diarrhea that could be prevented by drinking clean water
  • Almost 50% of people in developing countries suffer from health problems caused by a lack of water and proper sanitation
  • Every citizen in the world should be entitled to 20 liters of water per day at minimal cost
  • Many poor people survive on less than 5 liters of contaminated water per day
  • The labor required to fetch water prevents many girls from attending school and many women from income-generating activities
  • Access to clean water is the most effective way of ensuring economic growth. It keeps away disease and avoids undue loss of manpower (that is devoted to the search for water instead of being channelled to production)
  • The economic return in saved time, increased productivity, and reduced health costs is figured at $8 for every $1 invested in achieving water and sanitation targets.

My Choo / Washroom

Doing the floor and the interior wall plastering

It's almost done! All that remains is the doors and a bit more plastering on the exterior walls. The tree is a guava fruit tree. It's one of the 50 trees I've planted on my small compound.

Sorry the photos are out of order! Nathan is the one in the blue shirt. He's had a part in each and every step of my house, fence, trees, etc. He also keeps the grass cut and prunes my "live" fence. He's a great friend!

Karo, Jeremiah, Joy