26 May 2016

Trip to Uganda; exploring around Jinja

Boat ride on the River Nile

Ibrahim was a great guide during our 90-minute late-afternoon boat ride on the River Nile.
He picked me up on along the shore at Mto Moyoni, which was very convenient.

We saw a large variety of birds, all of which Ibrahim aptly named for me. However, I wasn't able to get any really good photos of them. We also saw a lot of fishermen out in their boats.

Both of these photos show large fishing nets drying

Source of the River Nile

It wouldn't be right to stay in Jinja for three nights without seeing the 'Source of the Nile". Before heading on to Kampala, I hired a boda boda to see the source for myself.

The River Nile is 4,258 miles long and is the longest river in the world. It's claimed that it's source lies just beyond this small island in Lake Victoria. Others believe it originates in Rwanda's Nyungwe Forest.

"Omugga Kiyira" is the local name for the river.

Bronze bust of Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
commemorating the sprinkling of some of his ashes in the River Nile

Gandhi spent 21 years of his illustrious career in Africa where he championed the rights of the downtrodden and marginalized communities. It was his wish that some of his ashes be sprinkled in the Nile, cementing a long-lasting relationship with the continent and to immortalize his legacy in Africa and beyond.

24 May 2016

Trip to Uganda; a time of retreat at Mto Moyoni and thoughts on singleness

Enjoying a morning cup of chai, looking out at the River Nile from my veranda

Mto Moyoni (Swahili for "river in the heart") is a retreat center on the banks of the River Nile just outside of Jinja. It was built for people seeking spiritual, emotional and physical refreshment. It's for people looking for peace and quiet or to spend time with God. (description from their website)

Early morning fishermen

While I was at Mto Moyoni, I read a book by Lydia Brownsback called, Fine China is for Single Women, Too. Following are photos I took on the grounds and quotes from the book.

I stayed in the top floor of the second cottage from the left.

"God wants to show us that true contentment and joy in living are found exactly where he places us at any given time. God has ordained where we are to live and work out our daily lives. He orders whether we will be rich or poor. He has designed our physical assets or lack thereof and the state of our health. He has determined whether we will be single or married. Around the life of each one of his daughters God has drawn the lines in which we are to live, and it is only within those lines that each of us can find true contentment." 
~ Lydia Brownsback, Fine China is for Single Women, Too

"Joshua 15-19 deal with divinely established boundary lines. God's priority was not equal portions of land for each tribe; rather they were determined purely by his sovereignly ordered plans for each member of each tribe." 
~ Dean R. Ulrich, Lines in Pleasant Places

"God will sovereignly direct your steps and put you in the place of service that he wants, however great or small. He'll take care of the opportunities for advancement, and He'll see to it that the things about which we worry so much will turn out well. For now, though, He's more interested in the fact that you faithfully follow Him in the place where He has you." 
~ Dean R. Ulrich, Lines in Pleasant Places

"Being set apart for singleness is a privilege, a special blessing. It enables us to serve God unhindered in a greater diversity of ways." 
~ Lydia Brownsback, Fine China is for Single Women, Too

"Be single to the glory of God, undivided in your devotion to Him. You have the freedom and the time to take bold adventures in the name of Jesus Christ... Singleness is a diving calling." 
~ Dr. Philip Graham Ryken, Second Honeymoon (sermon based on Jeremiah 22)

"Paul did not believe a husband or family were necessary to fulfill everyone. He legitimizes and even exults the position of single men and women, saying that singleness is an asset for serving the Lord." 
~ Susan T. Foh, Women in the Word of God

"When you’re unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God... All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions." 
~ Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, Message

18 May 2016

Trip to Uganda; surprising JB and having fun with amazed children

When I first came to Kenya, I lived with Bishop and Margaret Wanjala for many months. While there, I got to know JB who was their wonderful house-help.

We were told that JB had traveled to visit some relatives and since there was no phone network in the village, we didn't know whether or not she had come back. When it eventually stopped raining, however, we took a short walk to see if we could find her.

All along, as we had walked, adults and children were so amazed to see a mzungu (white person) in their village. These kids eventually came closer and interacted with me.

Sure enough we found her! JB was digging potatoes and was shocked beyond belief to see Margaret and me. I filmed this short video after her initial reaction of surprise and after her first round of hugs.

JB immediately set to the task of preparing an impromptu meal for us. I left the ladies outside chatting and joined JB in the kitchen.

JB sending one of the children for beef

They simply cannot believe they're standing next to a white person :)

These kids had great fun with me in the kitchen!
The really nice thing was that they knew English from school, allowing us to communicate quite well.

Working quickly, JB made us an early evening meal of matoke (cooked bananas), ugali from millet and cassava flour, plus fried beef. We ate while sitting on the floor of a house belonging to one of her sisters-in-law.

Margaret told me she grew up sitting - and eating - on a mats on the floor like this. She was quite happy to do it again.

Somebody did some very nice - and creative - artwork inside the mud hut.

16 May 2016

Trip to Uganda; a visit to Makandwa village

This 'mzee' (older gentleman) is a fun-loving money changer at the Kenya-Uganda Busia border.
Both times we crossed he affectionately referred to me as his grand-daughter, adding that he's 86 years old.

Shortly after crossing into Uganda, a storm rolled in. The front window of the matatu (where I was seated) didn't work.
I was given a piece of cardboard to hold over the gaping hole... in an attempt to keep the rain out!

For several years Margaret and I have talked about me visiting her home village, the place where she grew up in the Busoga Kingdom of Uganda. At long last we made it happen! After leaving the border at Busia, we traveled west for about an hour. When we alighted at the Busesa stage, the storm had reduced to a light rain. During our 45-minute boda boda ride, to the village of Makandwa, we got a bit wet... it's not really possible to use an umbrella on the back of a motorbike! Margaret's brother and sister-in-law were happy to see us when we arrived just before darkness descended.

Margaret grew up eating Jackfruit and loves it.

The Jackfruit grows in tropical lowlands. Its fruit is the largest tree-borne fruit, reaching as heavy as 80 lb in weight, 35 inches in length, and 20 inches in diameter. One Jackfruit tree can produce 100-200 fruits in a year.

I ate half of my large piece, but Margaret finished all of hers.

Jackfruit is composed of hundreds of individual flowers (or bulbs). To eat it, one grabs hold of a bulb and tears it out, all-the-while getting your hands sticky. The flavor is comparable to a combination of apple, pineapple, mango, and banana. It has a distinctive, sweet and fruity aroma and is high in vitamin C, Potassium, and other nutrients.

Notice the Jackfruit tree in the foreground.

It rained much of the time we were at Makandwa, during which I did some reading.

Margaret's sister-in-law and two young ladies entertained us during the rain by singing some Christian songs.

Left: Margaret's brother and sister-in-law, Simon and Joy (our hosts). Center: Margaret, with JB behind.
Back right: Simon and Joy's son (the one that drove me when Margaret and I left). Front right: Lydia, a neighbor.

The day we left, which is when I filmed these two videos, we only had a 30-minute motorbike ride (instead of the 45 minute ride on the day we had arrived). Luckily the sun was shining and there was no rain on this second ride.

From the stage at Iganga, I boarded a bus to Jinja and Margaret went to Kampala. A few days later, I also went to Kampala and we eventually reconnected for the trip back to Eldoret.

Margaret bought several pineapples at the border, as Uganda's are considered to be much better than Kenya's.

While traveling by matatu, we both purchased a snack through the windows.
Margaret opted for roasted banana and I had roasted beef on-a-stick.

A beautiful sunset as we arrive back in Kenya.
We were traveling east, but I took the photo in the matatu's rear-view mirror, which pointed west.

12 May 2016

A collection of random photos from a few random days

This is Fredrick and his son, Blessed Jason. I bought pizza and a small cake for the family
so we could celebrate Jason's 4th birthday. Fredrick is my favorite boda boda driver at Ngong.

While I was in Kampala (Uganda) for a few days in March, I connected with Robert, a friend of my friend, Ryan.
Robert and I spent a whole day together criss-crossing the city while I did some GeoCaching. It was good to see him again.

We also hung out for a couple of hours with Africa, another friend of Ryan's. He's a barber but couldn't cut my hair that day because there was no power in the area. We had a wonderful conversation... and as you can see, some good laughs :)

Boats on Lake Victoria.

Maluk, Chol, and I visited Anne Harvey recently. She and I used to be next-door neighbors.
She's 96 years old and still has a sharp wit.

This is Jack (aka Evans), Anne's long-time friend and care-giver, with his youngest daughter, Elizabeth.

More of Jack's children, left to right: Grace, Manu, and Shelia
We all had a nice time together, and of course it included chai!

Maluk and Chol are South Sudanese friends of mine. Maluk was in Nairobi for a few days (from Juba, South Sudan).
We took advantage of the opportunity to have lunch together and to visit Anne.

Jim, Jeremy, and Derrick at Gospel Lighthouse's Youth Conference in Webuye

This is another friend called Ann. Here we are hiking to homegroup on Upper Matasia Road.

It's always beautiful around Ngong Hills.

Another day, when walking to homegroup, I met Pyque (his unique spelling of PK, his nickname).
He happened to be going the same direction, so we had a nice chat as we climbed up and down the steep hills.

I also chatted briefly with this young man. His motorbike is decorated because it will be a part of a wedding convoy.

Pretty rainbow just outside my house

I took a picture of this flower on another one of my 4-mile hikes to homegroup. Stunning!

My friend, Gloria, surprised me with this nice bouquet of flowers for Mother's Day!