20 December 2017

Cycling again! Overcoming my uncertainty and trepidation!

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience
in which you really stop to look fear in the face.
You are able to say to yourself -
'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'    
~ Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)

After my cycling accident in May, I wasn't sure I would ever get on a bike again. The crash resulted in a nasty concussion, a broken collarbone, and a lot of bruises! I have no memory of the fall, being in an ambulance, or the first few hours of being in the emergency room.

Suffering from vertigo for many months and with very limited movement - and a lot of pain - in my upper left arm, I was quite discouraged and downhearted. I also had to come to terms with the diagnosis of a heart arrhythmia, which caused an episode of syncope (fainting) resulting in a hard fall onto the pavement.

Trepidation: a feeling of fear or anxiety about something that may happen; a loss of courage

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. 
The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. 
~ Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

I determined to be a brave woman who conquers my fear and renews my courage!

And so it was, that I invited Masudi to join me for a bike ride at Karua Forest. I felt it was prudent to have someone with me... just in case of any mishaps. Additionally, the forest was a safe place as there's no vehicle traffic on the paths.

I'm telling you - - it felt absolutely wonderful to be back in the saddle again! There was no fear whatsoever in my heart or mind! I looked fear in the face and gained confidence with the first rotation of the pedals.

We both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and stopped a few times to do some hiking and GeoCaching. We laughed as we watched this pretty caterpillar crawling across a path with small stones. Just like me, it demonstrated an attitude of - "I think I can, I think I can!"

We also tried out River Café for lunch, a rather fancy restaurant inside the forest.

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts,
as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanates from old trees,
that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. 
~ Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

Having fun with an antique phone booth in downtown Nairobi

Don’t set your goals by what other people deem important, Only you know what is best for you.
Don’t be afraid to encounter risks, It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.
~ excerpts from A Creed to Live By, author unknown

18 December 2017

Practicing hospitality - the friendly entertainment of visitors - is actually commanded by God

(a noun)
the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers

Synonyms: friendliness, welcome, warm reception, helpfulness, neighborliness, warmth, warm-heartedness, 
kindness, congeniality, sociability, cordiality, generosity, bountifulness, open-handedness

- - - - -
Be hospitable to one another without complaint or grumbling. 
1 Peter 4:9

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 
Romans 12:13

Other translations of the use of 'practice' say: pursue, be eager, cultivate, and be unfailing in hospitality.

Masudi's mom, Stella, has shown amazing hospitality to me since 2002 (over 15 years)! Not only has she cooked many meals and brewed many, many cups of chai for me, but she's also allowed me to stay overnight at her home in the village (at the South Coast) several times throughout the years.

Recently I was able to host Stella at my house for the first time ever. I knew Masudi was bringing along his friend, Esther, but he totally surprised me when his mom was also with them! We had a wonderful time together sharing a meal and a flask of chai.

Likewise, Carol has hosted me at her house many, many times... for a meal, a flask of chai, and sometimes overnight as well. Every now and then, her family (or part of it) makes their way from the other side of Nairobi to my house for some good food, fellowship, and laughs. We managed to make it happen again recently, when Carol and her three daughters came.

Signing my guest book

Three of the neighbor children (on the left) also joined in for some coloring

Maybe there's someone you could invite over to your house... especially during this holiday season. Just give them a call right now so you can be faithful in practicing, pursuing, and cultivating hospitality!

- - - - -

Isaiah 58:6-7
"Is this not the fast which I choose... Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house?"

Hebrews 13:16
Do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Matthew 25:35, 40
I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in. Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Galatians 6:10
So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

13 December 2017

Madaraka Express, an amazing way to travel between Mombasa and Nairobi!

Brand new terminus just outside Mombasa, at Miritini

This was my third time to take the train between Nairobi and Mombasa. The first trip in 2010 was with Ryan; it was supposed to take 12 hours, but took 20 hours. My second time, in 2015, was with Hannah; that trip took 29 long hours!

This trip, on a brand new track and with brand new equipment, only took 5.5 hours. We left the terminus at precisely the stated time. The entire ride was comfortable and smooth.

Boarding platform at the Mombasa terminus (technically at Miritini, just outside of Mombasa)

This new train, christened the Madaraka Express, was flagged off on 1 June 2017 by President Uhuru Kenyatta. The initial agreement was made in 2009 by then president Mwai Kibaki. Madaraka Day is celebrated on June 1st, in recognition of Kenya attaining self-rule in 1963. Madaraka is Swahili for 'freedom'.

The new track and infrastructure was built - and 90% funded - by a Chinese company (the same one developing many of Kenya's roads). The train engines, cars, and much of the construction materials were imported from China. A Chinese and an Australian company will operate and supervise the business for the next 10 years. At that time, it will be handed over to the government of Kenya.

The Madaraka Express and new cargo trains are the largest infrastructure project in Kenya since her independence.

I spent most of my time in the dining car, having a meal and enjoying the scenery. I also chatted with these two proud employees.

I met Teressa the night before at the Airbnb where I stayed in Mombassa. We spent much of the train trip together.

Part of the time, we paralleled the highway between Mombasa and Nairobi.

I  always love Baobab trees and Sisal plantations!

Once we alighted at the Nairobi terminus (in Syokimau), we simply walked from one platform to another and boarded the local commuter train. For 50 cents, we were conveniently taken to Railways station in Nairobi city center, a ride of 30 minutes. From there, I hopped on a bus to my home at Ngong town.

The next phase (already in progress) is a track from Nairobi to the border with Uganda, at Malaba. It will pass by Narok, Naivasha, and Kisumu.

From Malaba, cargo trains will soon travel on to Kampala, Uganda and Kigali, Rwanda. This will allow easier transportation of imports and exports, opening up these two land-locked countries.

Visiting folks in a remote village, Shimba Hills, and also the busy city of Mombasa

Maxwell (on the right), who doesn't like to be called Max, is getting so much bigger!

When I wasn't with Steve and Brenda during our time at the South Coast, I visited some friends of mine at the quiet and remote Shimba Hills. I also got to see Maxwell again, when I spent a couple of nights at Faraja Children's Home. One last stop was to see Masha in the noisy city of Mombasa.

Katunge's daughters-in-law use an umbrella to keep the hot sun off of them and the child

Katunge tried to reach all her relatives so they could say 'hi' to me (ever the novelty and foreigner)

Waiting for lunch

Katunge (Stella's friend and neighbor), Stella (Masudi's mom), and Modi (Masudi's nephew)

The two pictures above are Bixa, whose seeds are used as a food colorant and also to make lipstick. It's popularity is increasing with farmers in the Shimba Hills area. Katunge harvests it whenever she's able, to get a few extra coins for necessities. The nearby processing plant pays 40 cents for two pounds of the dried seeds. Worldwide, bixa produces 70% of all natural dyes.

After lunch, a few cups of chai, and some tangerines straight off the tree, we strolled over to say hi to another friend and neighbor

She was also overjoyed to see me again :)

On a different day, I had lunch with Masha in Mombasa, at Tudor Creek Marina

08 December 2017

Visit from Ripe for Harvest field directors: hiking at Karua Forest and fun at the South Coast

Steve and Brenda wanted to meet some of my ministry friends, 
so I gathered some that live in Nairobi for a hike at Karua Forest.

We had a fabulous time in the forest, including finding a GeoCache and throwing a Frisbee.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

They were also keen to see Kenya's famous white, sandy beaches at the South Coast. 

Christopher makes his living by doing sand sculptures. I was impressed with his work and enjoyed a nice chat with him. 
I often see polio victims begging in Kenya, so I was happy to give a donation to help support his family.

It was fabulous to have Steve and Brenda make the effort to visit me and learn more about my ministry in Kenya. 
In turn, I also learned about their work in India. We got along great and made a lot of wonderful memories together. 

This is one of many tuk-tuks we squeezed into for a lift while at the Coast.

07 December 2017

Visit from Ripe for Harvest field directors: Nairobi National Park, Sheldrick elephants, and Giraffe Center

This was the third time my missions agency has sent Field Directors to visit me and other Ripe for Harvest folks in the area, and I have enjoyed each one of the occasions.

Bright and early on the day after Steve and Brenda landed in Nairobi, we headed to Nairobi National Park for a morning game drive. It had been raining, but we didn't let that deter us.

To say we all gave it a huge 'thumbs-up' would be an understatement!

We saw many animals, like Impala, giraffe, zebra, ostrich, rhino, buffalo, various birds, etc. But the most thrilling part was seeing 15 lions!

First we watched four lioness eating a buffalo that had just been taken down a few hours prior to our arrival. We were so close to them that we could hear the flesh being ripped off the carcass. Later, three other lioness and seven cubs came along to also enjoy the feast. We were so enthralled at what we were viewing that we stayed at that one spot for a solid two hours!

To cap it all off, we later saw a male lion next to a different carcass.

Steve and Brenda getting some pictures

We had such a memorable time and praised God repeatedly for allowing us to see so many lions!

Next we headed to Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and Giraffe Center, both of which are practically required for anyone visiting Kenya. I've been to both several times, but never tire of either place.

Steve was quite good at receiving wet, sloppy 'kisses' from the giraffe!

17 November 2017

My trip to Cape Town, South Africa: exploring this beautiful and fascinating city

Camps Bay

One of the first things I did at Cape Town, after hopping off a Red Tour Bus, was head to the ocean. Whoa... when I dipped my feet in the water, it was ice cold.... way too cold to go for a swim.

Another view of Camps Bay

A ride on the Cape Wheel, in an air conditioned cabin

While out exploring, I randomly met a gal who is a missionary in Uganda (but attending a different event than me). We hung out at the V&A Waterfront for the afternoon, enjoying the street music, looking at curio shops, having a bite to eat, and riding the Ferris wheel.

Another day, while strolling around on my own in the downtown area, I meandered into a shop that had just opened that day. I shared a table with three fascinating South Africans, while we each devoured a delicious salmon and creme cheese bagel. I took their recommendation and visited the Iziko Slave Lodge Museum just around the corner.

Not only was the museum quite fascinating, but I also noticed the statue outside of Jan Christian Smuts (1870-1950). For most of his life, he was in favor of racial segregation, but in the final years of his life, he changed his mind. Perhaps his friendship with Gandhi eventually swayed his views on the subject.

I was quite fascinated by the style of architecture. Much of it falls in the category known as Cape Dutch, which became prominent in the 17th century, when Dutch settlers immigrated to the area.

One afternoon, Tina and I decided to go for a walk along the beach at Simon's Town. Little did we know that a sudden rain storm was about to descend on us! Ha... and neither one of us had an umbrella! Fortunately I managed to get this shot of the colorful beach houses before the deluge.

While we enjoyed a walking tour of significant historical locations during the era of Apartheid, I noticed this quite talented street performer portraying Nelson Mandela. It seems appropriate to quote him here:

We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom. 
We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success. 
We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, 
for nation building, for the birth of a new world.
Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. 
Let there be work, bread, water, and salt for all. 
Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land 
will experience the oppression of one by another
Let freedom reign.
~ Nelson Mandela, (1918- 2013) 
excerpt from inauguration speech as South Africa's president, May 10, 1994

Sunset at Hout Bay

I had an absolutely wonderful time in Cape Town and thank the Lord for how it all came together quite unexpectedly. Such trips are one of the ways I practice self-care, in an effort to maintain good health and longevity on the missions field.

Good self-care is a lifestyle of regular, ongoing, non-crisis activities
that promote good spiritual, emotional, and physical health. 

What feeds your soul?
Reading, running, painting, playing a musical instrument, 
watching a comedy, a week at the beach? 

Whatever feeds your soul, brings you rest, refuels you for the journey,
those things constitute good self-care for you.

~ Kay Bruner