Saturday, December 31, 2005
The bricks were made on site, and the outside of house will remain as is, rough bricks. The inside will be plastered (cemented) over and painted.
The wooden barrier the construction worker is holding on to is called a "lindo." It is merely a binding between the roof and the walls. It is filled with cement and when the cement is dry, they will remove the wooden boxes and build about another four rows of bricks on top of that, then put in the roof.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
I'm flying to Eldoret tomorrow morning at 7:15, which will have me in Eldoret by 8 a.m. I arrived in Nairobi too late to catch the afternoon flight today, and if I'd take the shuttle, it would mean I'd spend 6 hours on the road and be home by around midnight tonight. Keeping in mind that it's the holidays, that there are likely to be more drunk drivers on a road that's already very dangerous, I opted for the safer option, to fly in the morning.
It was good to be in South Africa. I'm glad to be heading "home" now, though.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
We took this photo after church on Christmas day.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
We have a summer Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere, so our summer break and Christmas break is always one and the same thing. The temperatures in Pretoria today were in the 90s, and Clara and I took advantage of the opportunity to swim. Tomorrow, after our outdoors Christmas lunch, we'll most likely be swimming again.
I've already started packing again, getting ready for my journey back to Kenya. I'll be flying out early on Wednesday and though I'm having a wonderful time with my family, I am looking forward to being back in Eldoret.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
I asked to see a supervisor, or that he come to immigration with me. He said I could go back there myself and ask to see a supervisor. When I went back, all the lines had closed and there was just one lady still in her booth. As I walked up, I prayed, "God, please! I don't want to spend your money this way. You know I've gotten the shot. Please open the doors." The immigration official may have thought I was coming in on a different flight, being much later than all the Kenya passengers. I greeted her very politely in four of the local languages, thinking that one of them has to be her language, and it will show respect... She smiled back and asked which flight I was from. I just said, "SA183" and smiled. She stamped my passport and voila! I was in.
Yeah God! I am now in Pretoria at my sister Liesl's house. I'm flying to my parents' tomorrow morning early and will be there until Thursday. I will most likely be updating news in the evenings, so feel free to write me. ;)
Saturday, December 17, 2005
I have a video clip of him standing singing "These are the days of Elijah!" complete with actions and all.
It's rather funny. I've been at this spot for 90 minutes now, and like in many Kenyan shops, they play Christian radio. What's funny, though, is that they have regular news etc and then--this morning, at least--they play VeggieTunes. So for the past hour and a half, I've heard everything from The Bellybutton Song to Oh Where Is My Hairbrush? But as far as I know, you can't get VeggieTales in Kenya, so I'm not sure anyone who's listening has any idea what the songs are about...
In the news today: There was a fire in Kibera (the slums of Nairobi). Several homes burned down, but there were no casualties. Keep in mind that this is an area where about 2 million people live in shacks with no electricity, running water, or sanitation. People make fires inside their homes to cook.
Soon, I'll be heading for the airport and will fly to South Africa. The flight should take me over Tanzania (if it's clear out like it is right now, I should be able to see Mt. Kilimanjaro), then Malawi. I'll be flying over Lake Malawi for a while, and then over Mozambique. It'll be early evening when we touch down in Johannesburg. I'll spend the night at my sister's home, and then fly to Jeffreys Bay tomorrow morning to visit my parents and older siblings.
It's summer here now, and Jeffreys Bay is one of South Africa's most popular beach towns. During the summer, the population grows from 10,000 to more than 100,000. I'll be spending some time on the beach with my nieces and nephew, picking up shells early in the morning and hopefully seeing lots of dolphins. They often come and surf--literally. Jeffreys Bay (or J Bay) is very popular for surfing, and surfing contests have had to be interrupted so the dolphins could finish surfing first. J Bay is also a safe haven for whales to spend the winter raising their calfs, but by this time, they have all usually returned to Antarctica for the summer.
After 5 days in J Bay, I will return to Pretoria, and I'll fly home to Kenya on December 27th. I really do miss the children at the Empowering Lives Children's Home. I catch myself thinking of them several times a day and praying for their growth and safety.
I'll finish uploading photos now so you can see picutres of our adventures.
Friday, December 16, 2005
It's a little M&M, and I named him Kiptoo, which is Kalinjin (the language spoken in Eldoret) for someone who was delivered by guests. (As in, if a baby boy is delivered by white nurses, he's named Kiptoo. A girl would be Jeptoo.)
So, Kiptoo (pronounced kip-'toe) has been having a lot of fun. I will post pictures of him every so often. For example, when we were in the Maasai Mara, I took photos of him with lions and cheetahs in the background. Got a shot of him boarding our 13-seater airplane. (He did fine during the flight.) He stayed at the hostel today. I think he must be sad that his friends left...
It’s been almost two weeks since I last wrote. A team from my church in Iowa had been here until today, and my time had been spent with them. They have since left, so I’m spending the afternoon at an Internet café in Nairobi, trying to catch up on work and e-mail.
I’m flying home (to South Africa) tomorrow afternoon, but I know that much of my time in South Africa will be spent doing work. At least, I’ll be in a very nice environment—with my family—while working. Things I’m looking forward to most:
- hot showers
- my mom’s cooking
- baking cookies with my nieces
- possibly scuba diving (My parents live at the Indian Ocean, but where they live, the water is very cold. I got my scuba certification in their town, and on my first deep-sea dive, there were penguins bobbing in the water alongside the boat…)
What I’ll be working on while at home:
- writing the December newsletter for the orphanage
- designing templates for all the other newsletters
- preparing to teach a course on Academic Writing in Ethiopia in January
This is an opportunity that was presented to me when I passed through California in November. Azusa Pacific University (APU) offers a degree in Organizational Leadership (the program I graduated from), but the same program is offered overseas as a program called Operation Impact (OI). OI was originally intended for missionaries and expats who desired to continue their studies but due to living overseas, weren’t always able to do so. A few years ago, APU started offering the OI program in Ethiopia, and it has been VERY popular with government officials in that country.
I was asked to teach one course in Nazret (Nazareth), Ethiopia, in January. (That’s close to Addis Ababa.) The course I’ll be teaching is called Academic Writing, and is offered to help with all the other coursework students will be doing. The course is just one week long, so it’ll be quite an intense week. I’ll be teaching for three consecutive weeks, starting on January 9th until the 27th. Empowering Lives has a longstanding relationship with APU, so the leaders here were happy for us to be able to give back to APU by letting me teach for those three weeks.
I had written long updates on the team blog about what the team did while here. I was part of the team's activities, doing mostly VBS (vacation Bible school) and assisting in any other ways that I could. Please do read the updates.
As for the progress on my home: I am not sure how much has been done this past week while I was gone. They were supposed to lay the foundation and start with the actual construction. I am told that the work will be done sometime in January. I do not want to rush the process since I do not want the contractors (referred to here as fundi) to paint the place before the cement is fully dry.
As soon as I am back from South Africa, we'll be getting satellite Internet access at our center. That is a HUGE blessing, since right now, we still have to make the trek to town to access any e-mail. (That's anywhere from half an hour to 45 minutes' drive during the dry season, and up to two hours during the rainy season!) As you can imagine, just having to go and send a simple message ends up being a very long excursion. I am very thankful that we'll be moving to satellite Internet access, which will make our jobs much easier.
That's all for now. Please do e-mail me when you have time.
Monday, December 05, 2005
To all of you who had sent hugs, cards and gifts with the team, THANK YOU. You have NO idea how much I appreciate it.
I had just written a long entry for the team blog, so please read that. After finishing that entry, I looked down at my arms and saw how red they are from being out in the sun all morning. We'll definitely put on sunscreen tomorrow.
I am anxious to get back to the compound to visit with the team. I'm only in town today because I had to draw money so that supplies for my house could be purchased. Heading back there now--about half and hour to 45 minutes on a bumpy road.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Walked around Nairobi with Dave, showing him the city. It's fun for me to realize how I'm getting to know the city by now.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Though I had booked a seat in the second row on the 7:30 shuttle, I was asked if I would kindly fill the last remaining seat on the 6:30 shuttle since they were waiting to fill up with passengers before they would depart. My new seat? Front row, in the middle. Fortunately neither the driver nor the gentleman to my left were of particularly large stature. Though we sat like this for the whole journey, I didn't get to talk to either, really, since
a) the radio and engine was too loud for anyone in the bus to make conversation
b) when stuck in a very small space between two strangers who happen to be men, I prefer to be safe and not strike up a conversation. They were courteous, and so was I. But I was thankful that my trip back to Eldoret would be by air.
Why? You may ask...
...am I heading to Nairobi just one week after arriving in Kenya? The Iowa team is arriving this weekend, and I am here to meet them and accompany them back to Eldoret. ELI always sends someone to meet guests in Nairobi. The first team member (Dave Martin) will arrive tomorrow morning just after 6 am. The rest of the team will arrive a day later, on Sunday morning. I'll take them around Nairobi for the day, then we'll fly to Eldoret in the afternoon.
Actually, other than ONE vehicle which seemed to have been driven by some official-looking men, no one got upset, regardless of whether drivers were cutting others off, or whether they were driving in the wrong lane on the 2-lane highway in order to avoid potholes (and changing lanes often just feet before colliding with the oncoming trucks). Our shuttle passed trucks, donkey carts, other shuttles, sometimes even on the shoulder of the road, literally OFF the road! The only vehicle that managed to drive faster than us was the official-looking one filled with men in suits. The first time they passed us, the driver had reason to be upset. Our driver--obviously not used to being overtaken by other cars--didn't seem to have looked in his rear view mirror before changing lanes to pass a bus. He totally cut off the Land Rover, and the driver did a very un-Kenyan thing: He honked and honked until they had finally passed us.
Since I was engrossed in my book (to avoid stress, I think!), I didn't notice when/why we passed the Land Rover, but since it was unusual for anyone to pass us, I noticed them overtaking our matatu on three (maybe four) occasions. The last time, the other driver was waving his cell phone out the window as if to say, "I'm going to call the police if you pass me again!" Our driver later told me that he has no idea why that man was so upset--he (our driver) never drove more than the speed limit of 80kmph. I do believe that, since speeding on this particular (hilly) highway is not only virtually impossible when you're in a packed shuttle, but it's a tremendous hazard due to potholes.
Hakuna matata, eh? No problem. You avoid potholes by either zig-zagging along the highway, driving in the oncoming lane, or going off road. Like I said, our driver did all three, depending on what may have been the most suitable at the time.
OK, this is gross, but I have to tell you about the not-so-usual road kill I noticed, the first being a gazelle. It had been beheaded, probably by a semi. Even in South Africa, where we have a lot of wildlife, all the wildlife live in national parks or private game ranches, which are all fenced. One colleague told me, "Eh? We cannot put fences around the parks! It will cost too much." And so, whenever you're in the vicinity of a national park, you find more than just donkeys on the side of the road. Today, I saw several herds of zebra, some gazelle, a few vervet monkeys, all just hanging out next to the highway. And though these aren't wildlife, there were even more sheep, goats and cattle grazing along the busy road. Hence the headless gazelle.
Next, I saw a donkey, legs up. It's amazing how many donkeys you find on the side of the road, grazing and being watched from a distance by its owner. This donkey was the first one I saw that had chosen a bad time to cross the highway. Uff-da!
I also saw flocks of flamingo in the distance as we passed Lake Nakuru. And the scenery in and of itself was more breathtaking than the driving manners of everyone on the road. To get from Eldoret to Nairobi, you have to pass through the Great Rift Valley. There are places where you can see for what seems like hundreds of kilometers far. Beautiful indeed.
Back at Eldoret
I went to say good-bye to the children before leaving for Nairobi this morning. Winsome came to ask me, "Danette is coming today?" (Danette made an impresson on Winsome last year since she held her when Winsome had some terrible infection and we had to take her to the clinic.) The kids promised that they will make the wageni (visitors) feel very welcome when they arrive on Sunday evening. It is a tradition for the kids to gather and sing to welcome guests, and one by one, they come and give the visitors roses as a welcome gift. I'll take photos so you can see!
I'm heading to my hostel now, the same place where Pat, Lori and I stayed last year. It's a Catholic hostel, with some VERY strict rules (like, you cannot be late for dinner. You have to be there when the bell rings and sit down for dinner, or you may not be served...) Can't say I'm very fond of this hostel, but it's clean. And for the first time in a week, I'll take a HOT SHOWER! Ah. The thought of that makes me smile.
Enjoy your hot showers for me. (I hope to figure out the Rogers' solar heating system sometime soon so I can take warm showers at home!)
Hey, after a week here, I'm now used to brushing my teeth under the African sky, looking at the milky way. In fact, I need to remember to take some photos next week of where I am currently living so you can get a better idea of my life here.
The fact that you're still reading now means you really care. Thank you. I love that you're on this journey with me.
Bwana asifiwe! (Praise God!)