24 April 2017

Catching up, Nov/Dec 2016: Two unexpected blessings - Snorkeling and Chale Island

I thoroughly enjoyed an unexpected day-trip to Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Park for snorkeling! While we were at the Coast, Gloria received some money for her birthday and decided snorkeling would be a perfect use for it. She even had enough to treat me!

Because the tide was low, it was quite easy to swim right near the reef and see the fish so easily and up-close. I will never cease to be amazed by the variety of fish and how brilliantly colorful they are. Even the coral seemed especially beautiful, in various shades of pink and purple. I got to see a star fish, too! God's creation is so utterly fascinating.

The low tide also provided a sandbar right at the end of the reef. That gave us a nice chance to rest a while before boarding the boat again.

After our snorkeling excursion, we feasted on a delicious fresh seafood lunch on Wasini Island. These boats were anchored near Shimoni, a small town on the mainland.

- - - -
My second unexpected blessing was a day-trip to Chale, a private island resort. I had somewhat known of it in the past, but didn't know any details about it. While Gloria and I enjoyed celebrating her birthday over dinner, we learned about the option of a day-trip. Later, when I found myself with an extra day, I jumped at the chance to venture out and explore.

It was an absolutely splendid place! I thoroughly enjoyed a nice swim in the ocean and loved that there weren't any annoying 'beach boys' around (like there are at Diani Beach). The lunch buffet was spectacular and plentiful, as was the afternoon chai and pastries.

While chatting with a couple of the employees, I unexpectedly saw this snake about two feet away. It was so still, that at first I wasn't really sure it was alive. Ai! Not only was it alive, but I found out later that Green Mambas are quite deadly! Lucky for me, this one was a non-aggressive youngster.

I spent a bit of time in this lovely pool, while chatting with another guest.

Yet another unexpected aspect to my time at Chale, was watching 40 sky divers arrive on the beach.

Sticking with the theme, heading back to the mainland via tractor was another interesting... and unexpected part of my day.
When the tide is in, transportation is by boat, but at the end of my day, the tide was out.

20 April 2017

Catching up, Nov/Dec 2016: My personal retreat and time of self-care at Diani Beach

"We are spiritual beings who need a connection to our Creator in order to feel purposeful and alive. Your soul needs to be nurtured through quiet time, prayer, meditation and reflection."
     ~ Sarita Hartz, A Self-Care Plan for Global Workers

- - - -
My aim is to be proactive in setting aside time to intentionally rejuvenate myself. One way of doing that is to spend extended time in God's Word, typically accompanied with a cup of chai. I also love marveling at the beauty of nature through flowers, observing the various fascinating creatures God created, plus watching the sun rise or set as I stroll at the water's edge. These photos are from my two days of solitude at Kenya's Diani Beach, on the coast of the Indian Ocean.

Five of the quotes are by Sarita Hartz from her newly released e-Book called A Self-Care Plan for Global Workers. I really connect with her writing because she was also a missionary in East Africa. She's 'been there, done that' in the truest sense and is now passing on her wisdom to others.

"One of the most difficult things about being a missionary, global worker, or humanitarian, is we stop taking care of ourselves. When there are so many responsibilities and other people to help, we let our own care fall by the wayside. Some of us hold the erroneous belief that to care for ourselves when other people are suffering would be selfish."
     ~ Sarita Hartz, A Self-Care Plan for Global Workers

"Self-care is purposely and actively taking time for yourself to do what rejuvenates and energizes you. Healing and caring for ourselves allows more resiliency and resources to give out. Self-care is the first step in creating the life you want and preventing burnout."
     ~ Sarita Hartz, A Self-Care Plan for Global Workers

"Self-care is an act of self-compassion that says we are worthy and deserving of love. 'Love your neighbor as you love yourselves.' The idea is that loving ourselves would come first, and out of that flows love for our neighbor. When you feel good, everyone around you benefits."
     ~ Sarita Hartz, A Self-Care Plan for Global Workers

"Self-care is crucial to preventing burnout and maintaining long-term sustainability on the field. It also increases passion and joy in life and work. Resting is an act of faith because it is saying we can't do it, but God can."
     ~ Sarita Hartz, A Self-Care Plan for Global Workers

“Each of us has to carve out our own rituals without turning self-care into another to do list. Making time every day for something that nourishes our body and soul is the equivalent of brushing your teeth every day.”
     ~ Alessandra Pigni, The Idealist's Survival Kit; 75 Simple Ways to Avoid Burnout

“One of the things I found was the importance of rest and play and the willingness to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as my measure of self-worth.”
     ~ Brene Brown, an American scholar, author, and research professor

Whether or not you're a global worker or missionary, what are YOU doing to practice self-care?

18 April 2017

Catching up, Nov/Dec 2016: Faraja Children's Home and Diani Beach with Gloria

Time for morning chai at Faraja Children's Home

Having fun with Max (middle) and some of the other kids

- - - -
Gloria and I always have a lot of fun together: sharing meals, doing Bible studies, exploring, and looking for GeoCaches. Neither of us had ever been to Kongo Mosque, so we headed to the north end of Diani Beach. This cleric showed us around and told us about the history.

Believed to have been built and used by early Arab merchants for prayers as they toured the East Coast in the 14th Century, Kongo Mosque is said to be the oldest mosque in Eastern Africa. It has been renovated and is still used all these centuries later.

Ladies taking selfies down at the water's edge

It was a nice place, with only a few people around. We were both glad to have seen the mosque and the area.

Rastaman's curio shop was the location of one of our four GeoCache finds.

We finished our day by celebrating Gloria's birthday at a nice Italian restaurant, including delicious Gelato ice cream for dessert... complete with candles that I brought along!

11 April 2017

Catching up, Nov/Dec 2016: Shimba Hills - A boda boda ride, including some unexpected stops

When the time came for me to leave Katunge's house and Shimba Hills, Modi walked me up to the market area to get a boda boda (motorbike taxi). This is a very common way for me to travel, especially in the rural areas.

As we headed down the sandy road, we passed by several people walking to their destinations; the two women above are an example.

I hope you'll enjoy these photos from my journey of unexpected interruptions... what I like to call 'the randomness of Kenya'.

Salim, my boda boda driver (left), told me about a waterfall in the area and took me there. First we had to find Erastus (right), to get his permission and to for me to make a minimal donation.

Erastus owns the land on which the waterfall sits, and proudly informed us it's on the Mkurumji River. We all enjoyed watching this red and black millipede for a while.

As we headed up the path back to the main road, we stopped to look at this quite fascinating bark on a tree. Sorry, but I don't know what kind of tree it is.

Shortly after we got back on our way, it started raining. Salim sought refuge for us under the small, crude roof of Mtonii's house. He was busy weaving grass reeds into floor mats, but readily welcomed us to share his space. Mohammed (with the yellow vest) and three other guys on motorbikes also joined us in an effort to stay dry.

You might remember in the previous post, that Katunge had given me a bag of freshly-picked oranges from her tree just as I was leaving. I shared them with everyone as we sat out the rain; Junior (Mtonii's young grandson) especially enjoyed them.

Eventually the rain stopped and we headed out again. But shortly before we reached the highway and Ukunda market, Salim noticed his back tire didn't seem right. So, we pulled up at the motorbike and bicycle repair shop to get it fixed. Soon we were back on our way and Salim dropped me off at my destination.

Such is my life in Kenya. It pays to not be in a hurry and to just roll with the punches, whatever comes your way. 'Hakuna haraka', they say in Kenya - There is no hurry.

06 April 2017

Catching up, Nov/Dec 2016: Shimba Hills - Fulfilling my promise to Katunge

I first met Katunge many years ago on one of my visits to Shimba Hills. She was sitting on the ground at the market area weaving 'makuti' (roof shingles made from palm fronds). I knelt down and chatted with her a bit and she invited me to her house for 'kuku' (chicken). Finally, after all these years, I honored that invitation.

[Katunge is the one wearing a scarf in the photo; the young lady is her daughter-in-law; Modi is Stella's grandson; I'm not too sure who that is peeking from behind.]

Drops of water from the previous night's rain

An unfinished house

Mwau carried my backpack

Stella carried the box of groceries I had brought along for Katunge

Katunge was so happy to welcome me to her home.

Once again, having a cup of chai

The two boys are Katunge's grandchildren and live nearby

I must remember to give her a printed copy of this picture!

Life is hard in the 'village', meaning the rural areas of Kenya. People work very hard tending their livestock and crops. If rain doesn't come when it's expected, things can really get difficult. At 86 years old, Katunge has suffered many challenges and ordeals throughout her lifetime, including being a widow for a many years. She barely gets by in life, but maintains a positive attitude and gives all the praise to God.

As I was leaving everybody picked oranges for me from Katunge's tree. You might notice in the video that the oranges are green, but that's normal in Kenya. Sometimes they're orange and green. The video also includes some young boys plowing a field with a pair of bulls, and a dung beetle. I hope you'll enjoy it!

04 April 2017

Catching up, Nov/Dec 2016: Shimba Hills - Won't you join me for a cup of chai?

Mwea, the grand-daughter of Stella's neighbor, enjoyed hanging out with me.

While Stella prepared chai and breakfast,
I took a quick 'bucket shower' in this crude enclosure.

The neighbor 'sho-sho' (grandmother) chats with Stella,
as she washes dishes from last night's dinner.

Stella, Masudi's mom, pours in a full packet of milk as she makes a pot of chai (tea).

Mwea sets the utensils on the small table.

Ah... at long last the much anticipated chai is ready to be served!
Also on the menu are mandazi (slightly sweet fried bread), leftovers from last night's dinner, and bread I bought at Ukunda.
Mwea is excited to have store-bought bread!

Stella sits down and enjoys chai with us.

Everyone is happy with their cup of chai! It's such a large part of the culture in Kenya!