15 January 2009

Starting School!

I attend Karen Vineyard Church in Nairobi. Almost a year ago I was asked by the church leadership to start up a ministry designed to address and respond to the various needs within the congregation. There are seven of us on the team.
After meeting for several months to establish our policies, we launched Rehema (“mercy” in Swahili) last September. After an application and selection process, these three young men were chosen to be sponsored to high school. On Monday, we traveled to Narok (3 hours from Nairobi) and they began an exciting new phase in their lives. They were thrilled beyond words! To say they were eager to be learning again would be a gross understatement!
I felt very privileged to be a part of providing them with an education that they so highly value. Please keep them in your prayers! I should add that they'll be boarding at the school.
This was Monday’s proverb from my flip-calendar –

“Kindness lifts a person up from the ground.”
Ethiopian proverb

Deng Madit Deng - Form One (9th grade)

Emanuel Mawien - Form One (9th grade)

Mawien Mawien Dut - Form Three (Junior Year)

Two others also went with us - Joseph and Lino.
They're being sponsored through the ministry of Shane (a guy at our church).

Recent photos of Cadence

Aaliyah, Terran, Tony, and Mia


Terran and Tony

Todd and Mia

Borrowing from Claire

Claire is a friend of mine from church. I've borrowed these four photos from her blog - kenyanchronicles.blogspot.com

So, so many of the matatus and buses have something or another about Obama on the back.

You can be sure I'll be watching the inauguration on Tuesday! I'll go to Chunge's house again (like I did for the election coverage).

This photo shows how different fruit can look her in Kenya. Believe it or not, the large one (on the left) is an orange! Then... why is it called an "orange"?!?!?!?!

Quoting Claire - "To illustrate this dilemma visually, the picture above is of (from left to right) an orange, a lime, a lemon, a lime."

These are some of the billboards that showed up around Nairobi in December. We were encouraged to drink Coka cola during the so-called "b-r-r-r season".

However, living in a tropical climate doesn't exactly have a cold season!

Maasai Guys at the Gate

The compound where I live has 13 other units. We have two "guards" at our gate. They tend to come and go, but mostly they're Maasai guys.

Currently, we have Tom. He's great. Funny enough, in these photos, he's the only one wearing Western clothing. He's standing 3rd from the right on this bottom photo.

The guy in the middle of the top photo is the newest one on the compound. I don't know his name, though. He doesn't speak Swahili or English.

A local travel magazine says this about Maasai moran - "gorgeous as a peacock, vain as a girl". Ha! I would concur!

Often, on Saturdays, their friends come to visit them. That's what was going on the day I took these photos.

My Homegroup

We've been together now for over four years. We meet at my house on Saturday nights. We have a great time (as you can likely see from their smiles). We munch on snacks and drink tea and coffee while we discuss spiritual and life issues.

Front row - Justo, Moses, Mike
Middle row - Kim, Emily, Annie, Sam
Back row - Joe, Mark (they both happened to be visiting us on this night)

Nice shot of Nairobi

03 January 2009

January Prayer Letter - 2009

While at Shimba Hills, I drank the juice of several coconuts like this one. Yummy! Masudi shimmied up a tree and brought down 6-8 of them. He also provided me with a piece of grass to use for the straw.

This gorgeous scene is from a beach at Diani on the south coast of Kenya (south of Mombasa). I spent Sunday afternoon relaxing here after attending a church service on this same compound.

I think it's always good to get away from one's normal routine and see the world (as well as one's life) through a different perspective.

My 2-week trip was sort of a working vacation, I guess you could say. I blended ministry with fun and relaxation and pleasure.

Prayer Letter

I thank God for keeping me safe as I traveled recently on my 2-week trip to the coasts of Kenya and Tanzania. Road accidents are all too frequent here. I covered a lot of miles with no incidences – no accidents, no mechanical breakdowns, no theft, etc.

Thanks to all of you who prayed for me!

It’s been a year since I last visited the coast of Kenya and four years since I visited Robert in Dar-es-Salaam.

I enjoyed:

· the energy, exotic flavors, and aromas of Mombasa

· the beauty of the white sand beaches and palm trees

· three great swims in the Indian ocean

· experiencing Tanzania for the 2nd time

· re-connecting with the three boys (actually they’ve become young men) at Shimba Hills – Masudi, Masha, Musyoka, and their moms

· making new friends

· a great game of Scrabble at Robert’s house

· getting to know Robert’s wife, Faraja, better

· lots of fresh fruit – plums, papaya, coconut, passion, and oranges

· fresh cashews

I didn’t enjoy:

· the tourist-y environment at Diani Beach

· the many bug bites I encountered – bed bugs, mosquitoes, and fleas

· thirteen days of the heat and humidity along the coast

· losing my flip-flops, fairly recently sent to me by my wonderful friend, Teressa

I got to see or watch:

· coastal women dressed so beautifully in their colorful matching lesos

· President Kibaki’s motorcade as it dispersed traffic in all directions; he typically spends Christmas with his family in the Mombasa area

· my bus drivers and conductors chewing miraa on duty (the stem of a leaf that acts as a natural stimulant)

· the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro – the tallest mountain in Africa – with a snow on the top, near Moshi and Arusha (it’s often covered in clouds)

· the striking sight of Mt. Meru, right next to Arusha

· the comical sight of several Togoians, Kenyans, Indians, one Spaniard, and one Zimbabwean attempting to arrange curtains blowing in the windy bus in order to keep the hot sun from beating down on them

· those same fellow bus passengers attempt to close and open their windows at appropriate moments, depending on the presence or absence of dust rolling inside the bus

· the intriguing Maasai of Tanzania, dressed more in blue and purple shukas than their red-clad Kenyan counterparts

I got to eat fairly traditional meals for Christmas while in Shimba Hills:

  • chicken and rice pilaf
  • roasted goat meat and chapati
  • goat-head soup

I got to basin-bathe (or take a "splash" bath) - not once, but twice - out in the w-i-d-e open, under the beauty of the star-lit night. Nearby, bush babies cried out their evening song.

All in all, it was a really good trip!

Perhaps it's good I took this photo of my foot propped up. Later, when I was at a beach in Tanzania (at Dar-es-Salaam), I lost my flip-flops. I was out swimming and thoroughly enjoying myself, unaware that the tide had come in and carried them away!

My 2-Week Road Trip

Isn't the front of this bus great?! "Neema za Mungu" means "the favor of God". This is the bus I used from Dar-es-Salaam to Arusha. The company is run by Lutherans, I guess.

Through the course of my two weeks on the road I used four buses. I also used numerous matatus and dola-dolas (that's what they're called in Tanzania). I used several tuk-tuks, a few taxis, and a ferry three times. There are some photos from the ferry below.

This is the motorbike I took from Shimba Hills back to Ukunda. The driver's name is Nzioki; he's also a pastor. My matatu ride when I arrived at Shimba Hills was a little bit hair-raising (whew!). So, I opted to return via a different mode of transportation. Only problem was we encountered rain and... I didn't have a helmet for protection.

This was the bus I took when I started my journey, leaving Nairobi to go to Mombasa. The guy with his arm raised up is selling magazines to passengers through the windows.

Naturally, I did a lot of walking to get around as well. This is the "bush" we walked through going back and forth from Masudi's house to church and various places. That's Masudi in the first photo.

Likoni Ferry

The city of Mombasa actually sits on an island. To get to the South Coast, one must use this ferry to cross a channel that comes in from the Indian Ocean. This first photo shows people loading onto the ferry. This time there were only a very few cars. But hundreds and hundreds of people on foot squeezed on. The ride itself is only about 5-10 minutes, but it's a bit of an ordeal with such a mass of humanity.

Masudi and Musyoka on board

This lady is not only carrying a very heavy load on her head, she also has her baby strapped to her back. He's inside the green and white blanket. Can you see the maroon stocking cap he's wearing?

This is one of the staging areas where the crowd waits to board the ferry. The lady looking towards my camera is blind. She's squeezing through the crowd hoping for handouts of coins. Several people gave to her. Notice the large screen at the top of the photo. It showed ads and various excerpts of one sort or another. This was my first time to see it. There was no audio with it, so I'm not sure what its purpose was.

This is a small portion of the crowd that squeezed on for this particular ride. How many packages can you spot that are being carried on someone's head (or back)?

I found 11!

Bamburi Nature Trails

The boys and I went to the other side of Mombasa (on the north coast) to the Bamburi Nature Trails. Bamburi is a large cement manufacturing company in Kenya. They mined materials they needed in this area for 17 years. It left a gaping hole in the earth and destroyed all natural habitat. So... they rehabilitated it and planted trees and other fauna. They researched what sort of environment would attract local wildlife. It's actually quite a phenomenal feat that they accomplished. This is Musyoka feeding a grain pellet to a giraffe. He was so excited to do it! He'd been to the park once before on a school outing, but the other two - Masudi and Masha - had never been there.

This is Owen, the baby hippo that made world-wide news in 2004. He washed up on the shore of Kenya a few days after the tsunami. He was brought to this park and quickly adopted (so-to-speak) a large tortoise, called "Mzee", as his momma. Now, four years later, he's been moved in with a female hippo. It's hoped that the two of them will eventually mate.

An Eland (the largest of Kenya's antelopes)
and a Vervet monkey (in the background)

A crocodile

These tortoises aren't native to Kenya. There from Seychelles islands. This is Masudi, Musyoka, and Masha. The small boy is a neighbor to Masha.

The Lethargic Village of Shimba Hills

Time moves really slowly in this remote, lethargic village! They don't even get newspapers until mid-day. We spent a lot of time just sitting in silence.

I was ever aware of the rivulets of sweat running down various parts of my body.

This is Masudi and his mom, Stella. She's sorting through some spices for making rice pilaf.

Masudi, cutting open another coconut for me to enjoy

Madi is Masudi's nephew. He's eating a papaya - fresh off the tree. I got the other half. De-licious! Besides fresh papaya and coconut, I also had fresh oranges and passion. Fruit grows like weeds here!

Masudi, relaxing in the wheelbarrow he uses to fetch water

Masha is carving a toothpick for me.
He's using a frond from a coconut tree.

Beach at Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

A delicious lunch of roasted fish
after a great time at the beach and a great swim

This is Penny, a missionary in Tanzania originally from England. Robert introduced us; I believe we'll stay in contact. It's great to make new friends!

photos from the beach where we spent the afternoon