31 January 2011

Photos outside of my hut

I never got around to putting on the doors for the toilet and the washroom. 
So... I just hang a sheet there.

This gate is the way in and out of my "compound". The building you can see outside of my fence is one of two that house the dorms and classrooms.

Nathan is trimming my "live fence" with his "slasher".

I've planted 50 trees on my compound. They started as small seedlings and are now quite tall! This is a view looking up at the tops of some of them. During my visits, I enjoy pruning them and end up making a large pile of large branches. Nathan's wife, Alice, is always happy to use them for firewood. During this recent stay, I cut down seven of the trees. They were either stunted in their growth or too crowded.

I have long enjoyed sunrises and sunsets - no matter where I might be in the world. This is the sun rising on one of the days during my recent visit.

Photos inside my hut

My friend, George, screen printed the fabric for my curtains. 
The sand picture is from my trip to Nigeria in 2005.

George also painted this watercolor of a typical rural home in Kenya. Nathan's wife, Alice, once gave me a gourd (or calabash, as they're called here). I cut it in half and wood-burned (with a magnifying glass and the sun) - "Judge not" (Matthew 7:1) as a reminder to myself. I got the arrow in Sigor (West Pokot) several years ago.

This is my desk, where I read books and did the puzzles in the daily newspapers. Hanging on the wall is a rather old photo of my four kids, plus one of my parents. Also hanging there is my Personal Calling Statement (containing my mission statement, core values, etc). The elephant pencil drawing is another piece of artwork done by George. The colorful item hanging from the roof was a gift to me, when I attended the graduation ceremony of a tailoring class.

This is my "side board". 
It stored my cooking utensils, food, and a few items of clothing I kept there.

Mosquito net around my bed.

The view (from inside the house) looking up at the top of the roof.

Doing my laundry by hand, actually just like I do in Nairobi

I made this little sign years ago - also by wood-burning with a magnifying glass and the sun.

My place to sit at the feet of Jesus, meditating on the Word and chewing on Oswald Chambers.

28 January 2011

Kizitu kneading mud

Have you ever wondered how they build houses out of mud?

Visiting friends upcountry

This is Ken Situma and his wife, Joan. I've known Ken since late 2002 and have always admired his zeal and passion for the Lord. The two of them felt called by God to leave Nairobi and move to the Matunda / Mtoni area last August. Ken is now managing the secondary school there. We had some wonderful times of fellowship around meals.

While I was in Kitale last weekend, I got to see Julie. She traveled from Kisumu to visit her friend, Samara, who is participating in the World Race (a Christian missions organization that sends teams to 11 countries around the world in the course of 11 months).  It was great to see Julie in a different part of Kenya and also great to meet Samara and two other gals on her team. We had a great lunch at the newly-remodeled Iroko Twigs café. Samara is also from Omaha, Nebraska.... so once again, Omaha comes to Kenya!

Sorry this isn't the greatest photo, but I wanted to show you the reflective vest I got for Wycliff (my boda boda driver). He's quite proud of it! "I look smart, don't I?"

I also traveled to Misikhu to see Agnes and her kids. This is Duane (6) writing his A, B, C's.

He also made the drawing of a bus. I think he did a great job!

He's showing the two drawings he made of a boy and a girl.

Cute, huh?

This is Adu, just as he got home from school.

Agnes and Zach (3)

11 January 2011

Sudan's historic referendum

"The referendum on self-determination is one of the key steps in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, which ended a 22-year civil war that caused more than 2 million deaths and displaced 4 million. For decades before and during the war, the people of Southern Sudan demanded the right to determine their political future in an open democratic process. Although the official referendum results might not be known until early February, a vote for secession is widely assumed.

"The CPA was intended to commit the governments in the North and South to make the prospect of continued unity an attractive option, and to democratize their societies. Unfortunately, there has been little progress in these areas. Relations between the North and South were mostly strained, and the elections held last April were seriously marred by manipulation and coercion in both regions of the country.

"In the event of a vote for secession, Sudanese leaders will need to resolve a series of critical issues to manage a peaceful separation into two states and to create a strong foundation for friendly and prosperous bilateral relations."

[above quotes taken from an article written by former US president, Jimmy Carter]

Mawien Ring and Deng at my house the day before voting started

The referendum will take place over the course of seven days (January 9-15th). I joined approximately 1,000+ voters at Nairobi's Railway Club on Sunday, the 9th, to see history taking place with my own eyes! I was thrilled to see my friends in the queue and encourage them!

(from the left) Lino Maju, Joseph Maluk, and Kerubino wait in the queue

Wek and Marial eagerly wait to cast their votes!

Mawien Mawien (on the right) is finally INSIDE the polling station!

Deng (waving) is just about to enter the polling station!

Mawien and a Sudanese lady proudly show their inked fingers after voting

Others patiently wait their turn to cast their votes for South Sudan's long-awaited independence!

Some recent moments with my friends

Rose and Sammy spent Christmas Eve with me and stayed the night. We had a good time together... eating a lot of fun food! We also played two games of Scrabble :)

Since my return to Kenya in late May, I hadn't yet seen my friend, Robert, who lives in Tanzania. However, recently he was in Nairobi to escort his son, Avoga, to secondary school. We were able to meet briefly and I gave him a copy of my latest book. In fact... he's the one that wrote the forward in it!

Joy (4 years old) and her sister, Jasmine (6 weeks old)

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

While I never imagined myself traveling to Ethiopia, I found it to be a very fascinating place. My trip was occasioned by my need to renew my visa. Kenya Immigration requires one to leave East Africa and then re-enter Kenya. So... I chose Ethiopia as my destination and decided to make the most of it.

Ethiopia is one of only two countries in Africa that was not colonized by a European country. It is one of the few African countries with it's own alphabet and they also use their own time system and a unique calendar. The 2nd most populous country on the continent, Ethiopia is believed to be one of the oldest sites of human existence known to scientists.

Its religious history is quite interesting - with a blend of Judaism, Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, and Islam. Ethiopian tradition states that a temple in Axum (in the northern part of the country) is the current location of the lost Ark of the Covenant. They further believe that the Queen of Sheba hailed from their land and that she and King Solomon had a child together.

Haile Sallasie is their revered former emperor, ruling from 1930-1974. He was an heir to a dynasty that traced its origin to the 13th century - and before that - all the way back to King Solomon.

I hope you will enjoy a sampling of the photos I took during my 4-day stay.

Addis Ababa has many beggars on its streets - far more than I see in Nairobi. These two guys were the lucky recipients of all my coins on my last day there. They were quite obviously thrilled with the gesture!

Structures near a church on Entoto Mountain

One of many Orthodox Churches that I saw

A man prays at the church

This young guy was selling hand-made caps; behind us is Addis Ababa

A deliciously thick, layered fresh fruit smoothie. From the top down - strawberry, mango, guava, and avocado. Yummy!

Addis has coffee shops all over the place. However, since I'm not a fan of coffee, I was thrilled to make the discovery of peanut "tea" - thick and filling! It simply consists of crushed peanuts and boiled water.

I'm told that no trip to Addis is complete without a visit to one of the many restaurants serving injera (their staple food) and with traditional dancers and music. I went to two different ones and thoroughly enjoyed myself! The fellow above was one of the musicians at Habesha.

Dancers at Yod Abyssinia

Washing my hands before eating

This is injera, Ethiopia's staple food

Holy Trinity is the highest ranking Orthodox cathedral in Addis Ababa and is the 2nd most important place of worship in all of Ethiopia. This gentleman has just finished his prayers.

Women arriving to pray at Holy Trinity

Statue of Halie Sallasie outside the cathedral

Behind the maroon curtains is the Holy of Holies

Men praying; the women are in a different area

Many shops had a row of mannequins with humorous poses like this

An art exhibit of Amharic characters at the National Museum

A sign written in Amharic; many Ethiopians do not speak English

A young man with his trained monkey

Washa Michael is a church carved from rock in the 4th century

I'm standing next to the baptistry

Our tour guide(s), Larry and Bernadette (an American couple), and Zerhiun 

School kids on their way home

At 7,700 feet in elevation (1,700 feet higher than where I live in Nairobi), I found Addis Ababa to be rather chilly in the evenings. I bought this wrap to help me stay warm. In this photo, I'm at Yod Abyssinia Restaurant.