21 June 2017

"Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for a while." ~Jesus

On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
Psalm 145:5

Flowers are appearing on the earth. The season for singing has come. 
Song of Solomon 2:12

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. 
You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. 
True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.
Psalm 23:1-3

But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; 
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. 
Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? 
In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.
Job 12:7-10

Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders. 
Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash? 
Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?
Job 37:14-16

Let the heavens rejoice. Let the fields be jubilant and everything in them. 
Let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Psalm 96:11-12

Jesus often says, 
`Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for a while.' 
So I go away to a lonely place by myself.
Mark 6:31-33 (personalized)

I took these photos during my first visit to Ngong Road Forest in January, just a few days before heading to the US for my home-stay. It's a wonderful space near Karen and can be accessed from the newly opened Southern Bypass. Being outside in such a setting does my soul wonders!

19 June 2017

Catching up, January 2017: Back-to-school tasks, paying fees and shopping for school supplies

Pope, Robai, and Medina

January is the beginning of Kenya's academic calendar. Because several of the students I'm sponsoring live near the Eldoret area, we met there. I chatted with Robai and Pope, plus Pope's mom, Agnes, and also Nathan (Deb's dad) over a cup of chai and a pastry. [Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of Nathan.]

While Agnes, Pope, Robai, and I did school shopping at Nakumatt, we kept seeing Medina (one of Robai's classmates) and her mom, Amina, from Marsibit. It was funny as we repeatedly ended up in the same aisles, and then helped each other to find the things on our lists.

Amina (Medina's mom) and Agnes, after our shopping

Robai also met another one of her classmates while we waited in line for the bank to open. I coached Robai on how to deposit the money with the teller and she did it herself, a new learning experience for her.

Bishop Wanjala told his congregation about how he first met Robai

On yet another day, Robai and I went to Kerio View Hotel (near Iten) for lunch. We enjoyed the landscaping on their compound and the lovely scenery of the Great Rift Valley.

15 June 2017

Catching up, January 2017: Freshly-caught Tilapia at the shore of Lake Victoria

As I left Siaya to head to Eldoret, I took take Jim and Fridah to Kisumu for a lake-side lunch of fresh Tilapia.

Agnes walked with us to the road, in order to say 'good-bye' while we waited for our boda boda guys

Once in Kisumu, we took a tuk-tuk from the bus stage to the lake

Unconcerned about contamination, people have their vehicles washed in the lake

There are numerous cafés at the lake's edge where fresh Tilapia, chips, and a soda can be enjoyed for a reasonable price

Each of us thoroughly enjoyed our fish!

13 June 2017

Catching up, January 2017: An adventurous day at Lake Kanyaboli and a trip down memory lane

Because I was itching to explore something new around Siaya town, I looked on a map and happened to find a lake I'd never heard of - Lake Kanyaboli. Jim and Fridah eagerly joined me for an adventure of discovery.

Waiting by the side of the road for our boda boda guys (motorbike taxis)

Immediately after breakfast, we took a 20-minute boda boda ride from near Agnes' house to Nyagondo stage on the highway. From there, we took a 30-minute matatu ride to Siaya town. The next leg of our journey was a long, tiresome, and dusty boda boda ride to the lake. In fact, two boda boda drivers refused to take us because of the dust!

Wow, this guy has a quite interesting load of odds and ends!

We had no idea what we might find when we got to the lake, but were pleasantly surprised when a guy offered to take us out in a boat. We agreed on a price for two boats, so our boda boda drivers could join us.

[At the end of our time on the lake, the guy suddenly changed his mind on our agreed-upon arrangement and wanted more. But I stood my ground and only gave him the original amount of $10.]

Getting a push away from the shore

Our two boda boda drivers and Frida had never been on a boat before in their lives!

Jim, who is quite adept at any challenge, had been with me on a boat at Machakos Peoples' Park as well as the paddle boats at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi many times. He enjoyed rowing the boat for a while, and joyfully sang, "Row, Row, Row the Boat".

Fridah overcame her fear of being on the lake, and also took a turn at rowing the boat for a while!

We were out on the lake for well over an hour and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!

Beautiful papyrus growing at the edge of the lake

When we got back to Siaya town, we found a small cafe for lunch. Over chicken, chips, and a soda I engaged my two young friends in a stimulating conversation about some basic principles of life:

  • Overcome your fears. Don't be afraid to try something new and different.
  • Be willing to go places where you've never been before.
  • Discover and learn something new each day.

Just before returning to Agnes' house, we stopped by the primary school both Jim and Fridah attended. They had a lot of fun reminiscing about their childhoods

They both remember this large Mugumo tree on the school compound.

07 June 2017

Catching up, January 2017: Visiting widows in the village

Shortly after Jim and I arrived at the home of his grandmother, Agnes, his cousin, Fridah, also joined us. Fridah was quite young the last time I saw her, but it was fun to get reacquainted with this delightful young lady.

Typical scenes in the village!

When Fridah, Jim, and I paid a visit to Agnes' nearby neighbor, Mary, she was happy to welcome us to her home, and also pleased with the small gift of groceries and some Tilapia fish that we brought for her.

Agnes had the idea that I should get a photo at her well. Several years ago (circa 2005), my parents gave a financial gift so this well could be dug. Prior to having a source of clean water right next to her house, Agnes had to walk quite a distance to fetch water. Not only was it unclean, but it was heavy and cumbersome to carry.

Agnes got out her collection of old photos and showed me this one taken shortly after the well was dug. Her husband, Joseph, was overjoyed to have a well. My dad died in 2006, and Joseph passed away in 2012. Now both of the wives (my mom and Agnes) are widows.

Another old photo: During my first visit to Siaya in 2003, I visited Carol's grandmother, Priscilla.

This old photo, also from my visit in 2003, is with Joseph, Agnes, Jim, and Fridah. I always enjoy visiting folks in the 'village' (a term used for a rural area in Kenya), where life is simple and time moves rather slowly.

05 June 2017

Catching up, January 2017: Please come along with Jim and me on a bus road-trip to Siaya

Have biscuits, will travel!

Jim and I (coming from two different directions) met at a small café in downtown Nairobi at 7:30am. We had a cup of hot chai, with warm mandazi (fried bread), before boarding our Easy Coach bus. Our destination was a rural area near Siaya in Nyanza province (northwest of Kisumu). It had been a long time since we traveled together and we were both eager to see Jim's grandmother again.

It's hard to say what you might see - at any given moment - in Kenya. Here are three photos of seemingly odd things being carried on the highway. Odd to you, perhaps... but quite normal to me after 15 years of living in Kenya.

Photo above: On top of the matatu (van used for public transportation), one of the passengers is transporting chickens, most likely for sale at an outdoor market area. My guess is there are at least 30 hens up tied up. "Glory be to God."

Above: This small red sedan car had THREE(!) large bales of hay tied on or crammed inside!

Below: Our bus followed this motorbike for many, many miles. It appears that he's moving household items for one of his customers. He rather cleverly tied a reflective vest on the back so other motorists would be better able to see him.

The next two photos show typical roadside vendors along the highway. Notice in this first one that the vendors walk right up to the cars - ON the highway - trying to find a buyer of their items. The fellow on the right is selling freshly-picked carrots.

Anybody need a bucket or two of potatoes or tomatoes?

Beautiful field of tea in the Kericho area, waiting to be harvested for chai

As we near the end of our rather tiring journey, it looks like a storm cloud up ahead. 

Nyagondo stage, where we alighted from the bus

I hope you enjoyed experiencing Jim's and my trip via these photos. I took them through the bus window or wind screen (British and Kenyan version of windshield). They allow you to at least see some typical sights on the highway. But you'll just have to come visit me sometime to find out what it's really like in Kenya!