Monday, October 30, 2006
Heading to my gate now. Soon, I'll be off to LA!
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Fortunately, Micah was there, too, but he shot mostly video.
I had filled up almost my entire 1GB card, and it's all gone.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Today is a national holiday in Kenya. It's the end of Ramadan. There are few Muslims in our direct neighborhood, though there are two mosques nearby and a fair number of Muslims living in those neighborhoods. In North and Eastern Kenya, Islam is more predominant. On the topic of Islam, and excellent Web site I've recently been made aware of is 30daysfire.net.
On that note, I need to get back to work.
These are two of the littlest boys at our home, and both are close to my heart. The one on my lap is Samwel Kanmau, and then there's Kelvin Kipkurui next to me.
Click on the photo for more pictures with the kids.
Monday, October 23, 2006
By the time I had to rinse my head, there was still no power. I thought to myself, why on earth did I even have faith in Kenya Power to restore the power any moment? The water was freezing cold. As in it would give you a headache, it was that cold. But it didn't since I already had a headache... I've been fighting a strange stomach bug all day and was in bed for most of the day with an achy body. So doing the icewater thing was no fun.
It was good use of my time, though, since I couldn't do a whole lot witout the power being on. It came back sometime after 7. Hoped to stay up late to do some things, but I'm wiped out. I'm going to sleep now instead...
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Before the movie started, kids kept asking, "Today, we'll see Jesus movie?" They loved watching the Jesus Film for Kids, but no-one knows who now has our DVD of that film, so we've not been able to watch it again. (A friend in Canada is sending me a new copy.) I told the kids that when I'm back, we'll watch that movie again! It amazes me, though, how these kids LOVE to learn about Jesus.
One week from today, we'll take all our children to Kipkaren for the official opening of the children's home there. You can imagine how excited the kids are about going to see their cousins in Kipkaren! They always hear me talking about going to Kipkaren and they've seen pictures of the children's home there. However, actually going there for the day will be a huge treat!
The day after the celebration, I'll be boarding a plane for the US. Actually, it'll be a plane to London first--there are no direct flights from Kenya to the US. In London, I'll take the train to the city and meet up with my friend and former colleague Melissa for breakfast. Then it's back to Heathrow for the flight to Los Angeles. In LA, I'll be connecting with friends and then speaking at Azusa Pacific's chapel for the conclusion of Global Vision Week.
So between now and then, the most pressing items on my infamous to-do list is to send out a children's home newsletter, a personal newsletter, finalize my talk for APU, make a video presentation for the ELI celebration, and make another presentation for my meetings in California and Iowa. Among other things. And get everything ready for me to be gone for 3 months.
This week will definitely fly by!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I took this picture of him taking a picture right before we headed home, arriving just in time to welcome Rachel, our newest intern at Ilula.
Tomorrow, I'll be leaving for a 3-day retreat for ELI leadership, so there won't be any posts from me until the end of the week.
P.S. I just walked out my door to put something on my front porch. Wish you could see the African sky tonight. Even early this evening, it was covered with stars. Now, at close to midnight, the milky way is a thick line through the sky, surrounded by thousands upon thousands of stars. There's no moon, hence the incredible sight.
Ah! We serve a BIG God! May I never cease to marvel at his creation. May I always live in an awareness of the beauty around me.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
I ran over to the children's home to take some pictures. In this picture is Rogers, a 10-year-old who is dear to my heart.
It's late. I'm pretty wiped out right now. And just as I was working just minutes ago, it struck me: I haven't washed my face yet!
Why on earth would that be important? I'm not in bed yet! Thing is: I was at Kipkaren today and hugged tons of kids. One boy in particular, Kiprono, kept coming back for more hugs. I was hunched up, hugging the littlest ones and making squeaky sounds every time one hugged me. This was one of those really silly games you sometimes play with really little kids. Anyway, Kiprono kept coming for more squeaky hugs.
Later, as we were talking with Juli and Allison, little Kiprono still hanging onto my hand, Allison commented, "What's that? ... Oh, ringworm. We'd better treat him for that." The young boy's ears were all broken out in the fungus. And I had been hugging him, his face touching mine.
Thing is, I don't want to first scan a child to see if they might have some condition before hugging them! And I don't want to run and wash up if I notice they have something. But as I walked off, I thought, "I'd better wash my face as soon as possible."
More than 12 hours later, I just remembered to wash my face. Oh, well. At least I know now how easy it is to treat ringworm, should I have caught it...
It was fun to see Rooney (he actually smiled at me when I said, "Sassa, Rooney?" I don't think he expected anyone to know his name!
So though I'm alive and thankful to be, I'm pretty wiped out tonight. Tomorrow, I'm heading back to Kipkaren for meetings. Oh, I really do pray for focus during the in-between times...
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Cecilia asked if she could take a picture of me. I've been careful in just handing my camera to the kids. It's a heavy and expensive piece of equipment. But lately I've allowed them to sometimes take pictures. I carefully hang the camera around their necks and show them how to hold the lens...
Afterwards, I talk to them about the pictures--unless there are too many kids crowded around, which makes a discussion of composition pretty much impossible.
I am thinking of starting a little photography club with the older kids. I'm sure they'd love that. I already have had someone ask if they could contribute towards purchasing simple digital cameras for such a club. I think it would be a really, really neat tool to empower the older children! I can just imagine what wonderful photographers some of them will become! But more than anything, it will give me a tool for deeper relationship building and pouring into their lives, showing them they're worth spending time with.
Back row, from left to right: Gabe, Rogers, Adam.
Front row: Emmanuel, Levi, Matthew and Cecilia
Friday, October 13, 2006
Don is here, as is Micah. I'm excited to see what communications ideas we'll come up with in the next few weeks. I'm honored to work on a team with Micah and eager to learn much from him! He's an incredible photographer and designer that recently signed on with ELI in the US. He also signed on as contributing photographer for AP and Getty Images. We'll be spending time coming up with a communications plan for ELI, but I'm also simply looking forward to learning from watching him.
Other than being excited to work alongside a professional photographer, I love that we'll be working as a TEAM. I am such a strong believer in teamwork, and by nature my job here is very much alone work. Though I certainly work in connection with my Kenyan colleagues, I miss being part of a close team who do not only dream up ideas together but work together to fulfill those dreams. With Micah coming on board, that will once again be a reality in my job.
And that, my friends, excites me.
As in, not a single message there.
That's a good thing, really.
I've not been able to answer all my gmail
in too many months.
Yes, yes, my work box was emptied out
twice in the last few months.
It'll be emptied again tomorrow.
It has to be.
Because that's how I like to work.
But for now, I'm thankful that
I was able to answer/follow up on
all 60 messages
that were in my personal inbox.
Don't ask me how the rest of my to-do list
is coming along...
I was able to check off 9 major items
from that list today.
And no, emptying my inbox
wasn't even one of those 9.
I should put it on the list
just so I can check it off.
Of course I also did other things
that weren't on the list,
like go read to the kids tonight.
Or to some of them, at least.
I read to two girls' rooms.
In one room 3 girls were sick,
so I prayed for them, too.
I love spending time with the kids.
I always leave there
with a smile in my heart.
And it doesn't even matter
that they're not on my lists.
Loving them isn't a task.
It's pure pleasure.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
- I love life.
- The last time I was taken up in the hospital was 29 years ago, to have my appendix removed.
- I have driver's licences in three countries, hoping to get my fourth soon.
- I have been to as many countries as I am old.
- I had a ticket to be on the Singapore Air flight that crashed into a bulldozer in Taipei. I had, however, changed my travel arrangements 2 days prior and was already in the US by the time that airplane went up in flames.
- I don't play any musical instruments.
- I love singing with others.
- I used to live in a house with a person whose job it was to play Bell in the Disney Parade. She also had a princess party business, so on Saturdays, I'd walk into the living room and find Cinderally walzing with a prince.
- I loose my appetite when people around me have bad table manners.
- I have no middle name.
- I've never been part of a singles group.
- I have good friends in every region of the world except South America.
- I like making lists.
- I've survived a cyclone, several major typhoons, and innumerable earthquakes, the biggest being Taiwan's 7.2 quake on 9/21/01.
- I've been making this list in between getting tasks checked off my to-do list.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The kids hadn't seen me since I left for Kipkaren last week and then was off on safari with the team. That's almost a week.
"Adele, when will we see the movie?" many wanted to know. I'm hoping to show them a movie on Saturday afternoon, but I'll be in Kipkaren for a meeting in the morning and don't know if I'll be back.
"Will you go to America, Adele?" Alice asked. They know the Albrights will be moving back to the US soon and they're afraid I'll be leaving, too.
"I will. The day after we all go to Kipkaren [for the official opening of the children's home there], I will fly to America. But I'll be back in February."
As she calculated the months in her head, you could see the shock on Alice's little face. "Three months? Nooooo. You can go one month!"
Others came up to find out what the deal is. "You cannot go, Adele," Matasio said. "Stay."
"I'll be back," I assured them.
By the time I went to drop something at the home after dinner, news had spread. "You will go away, Adele?" Vitalin asked.
"I'll be back," I keep assuring them.
"Will you write to us?"
"Of course I will."
"Will you come to read to us tonight, Adele?" Brenda asked. I told them I'd come tomorrow night since I had to finish a few other tasks tonight.
"Please read us TWO stories, Adele!" Vitalin asked. How do you explain to the kids that I'd love to read them two stories, but it's not fair. I'd have to read to all the others, too . . . It's hard not to have favorites! It's hard to love 97 kids equally. I really try to show equal love to them all, but some kids just know how to get to my heart. The Rotich kids (Nelson and Dorcas' kids) are definitely ones who know exactly how to get to me, how to twist my arm!
As I walked home under the black blue sky speckled with thousands of stars, I had a smile in my heart. A huge smile. I had given and received more than 100 hugs, each with as much passion as the previous one. I love these kids deeply. It hurts to see any of them hurt. But what joy it is to have fun with them, too. In fact, this evening, I had a water spitting contest with a 4-year-old and soon all 24 his brothers and sisters were outside coming to see why we giggled so hard!
In many ways, for me, that's what sharing Christ's love with them is about! Yes, I pray with them. Yes, I tell them stories and Bible stories. But more than anything, I show them how God delights in them by loving them lavishly. By giving them big hugs. By bending down to the level of even the littlest ones, swinging them in the air as they leap into my open arms! And by making them belly laugh!
I really think that's what Jesus meant when he said, "Let the little ones come unto me..." I'm sure he made them laugh. He delighted in them. And he probably even swung them in the air as they leapt into his arms.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
It's close to midnight. I need to get good rest so I can focus tomorrow. Much has to get done in the next few days. Will need some major FOCUS time.
C'est la vie.
Monday, October 09, 2006
They arrived Saturday evening, and between 5 of them, they had 27 pieces of luggage. (They had arranged with British Airways for the excess luggage. It would've been free, but due to the recent terrorist scares, they ended up having to pay some for the excess pieces.) It's a huge praise that all their luggage made it. And that customs allowed them through without charging them import taxes! They had to talk lots, show lots of papers, claim ignorance (they really were ignorant--as was I-that they had to have gotten permission through the Ministry of Health to bring in the equipment) in order for the officer to let them through...
The next morning, they unpacked all the boxes they possibly could in order for the equipment to fit into one vehicle. I took them around Nairobi during the day and we flew to Eldoret that afternoon.
Of course they were swept off their feet by the warm welcome at Ilula. No sooner had the children sang to them, given them roses and hugged them, than they were all on the soccer field. Some chose to sit and read to the kids.
After dinner, the team assembled all their equipment and set up a temporary eye clinic in our dining hall. Everything was there except one stand. It was on their list as having been packed, but it simply wasn't there. We were able to fenangle a makeshift stand using all kinds of odd pipes and pieces from our tool shed.
Monday morning they started seeing staff and people from the community. After lunch, the exams continued and they saw more than 90 patients that day and just a few less the next. Though none of our kids needed glasses, it's good to have their information on file for future exams, too. Some children were sent from school, one boy could truly not see much further than 1 foot from his face. They'll be custom-making his glasses at home and sending it here. The same goes for a teacher from the school. It's amazing what a difference their glasses will make for these two individuals!
After the clinic closed on Tuesday, they packed everything securely into my Land Rover. Just as the sun was rising on Wednesday (at 6:15) we were heading out to Kipkaren. There, they saw another 50 or so patients, which was indredible since these were all severe cases referred to them by another optometrist. It gave them the opportunity to also continue training our nurse on what certain conditions look like under the slit lamp. Both Dr. Fitzgerald and Dr. Miller said that some of the things they saw that day, they'd never have seen in the U.S. There was a gentleman with cancer in his eye. Some with terrible scarring from poorly done cataract surgery, one lady's pupil sewed shut! They are hoping to recruit some opthalmologists to come out to help with surgery at a future time.
All their equipment stays at our clinic in Kipkaren, making future trips for their/other optometry teams FAR easier! One of the neatest things was to hear Julius (our nurse) tell patients that they could come back the next day, that he would see them! He knows how to use the autorefractor and can give out premade glasses according to patients' needs.
The team hiked through the surrounding farms and crossed the stream to return to the training center, not realizing that the staff were waiting for them there to say good-bye. At the Kipkaren Children's Home, staff were gathered to thank them for the work the team had done. They presented each with a bracelet and then sang a Kalinjin song while all the staff filed by to hug them. By the time we left, the sky was red from the sunset and the team's hearts were full of care for the people they had served, taught, and learned from.
They all agreed that one of the many highlights was to see Henry, and elderly gentleman, jump up and down with excitement when they were able to give him glasses and he could see again for the first time in years!
But equally rewarding was knowing that the work they did wasn't just a one-time deal of them coming and going: They were able to empower Julius by training him during their 3-day stay so he, too, can help those in our community.
The team worked incredibly hard and touched many lives. In between, I was able to take them to the school to see what the Kenyan classroom is like, and they had tea at Mama Chiri's home. This was another highlight for some: Seeing how simple life is for Kenyans, yet with how much care guests are received.
Though their stay was short, they truly were able to make a life-long impact on lives in our community. At the same time, I believe our Kenyan friends touched their lives, too. Both the community in Ilula and Kipkaren asked them to return at a future date, and to stay longer next time.
Somehow, though this was their first trip to Kenya, I don't believe it was their last . . .
Sunday, October 08, 2006
It just seems to be one of those days. Days like these are frustrating, but I won't let it get me down. I am still in Nairobi (needing to go to a government office in the morning for visa purposes) but will find an Apple store tomorrow and have my computer serviced. (I'm still searching for an Apple store in Nairobi to see if I can buy a new power cable tomorrow.) Without my computer, I absolutely cannot do my work! All of my work is on my computer.
Please pray for me for this week, if you will:
- to be able to get my computer fixed tomorrow
- not to get frustrated by these little things, but keep my eyes on Christ
- to be able to use the time without a computer to get tasks done like writing my talk for APU chapel...
And so, after teams serve with us, I always encourage them to take two days to debrief. And since they're in Kenya, what better way to do it than in the African bush! I don't usually get to go with teams, but this particular team invited me to join them for debriefing/safari. We went to a camp I had never been to: Ilkeliani. It's on the far western side of the Maasai Mara. Not only was I thrilled to join them, but since I've been sending most teams to Ilkeliani this summer, I was excited to see this tented camp.
On Thursday afternoon, as we boarded our little puddle jumper from Wilson Airport in Nairobi, the copilot seat was empty. I asked the pilot, "Would it be OK for me to join you?"
"No problem! Just climb over," he said with a smile. He didn't have a second pair of earphones there, so I couldn't listen to the communications with the air traffic control, but was able to visit with him throughout the flight, learning about much of the equipment. We had a blast!
Seeing the Great Rift Valley from the copilot seat was just the beginning of many fun adventures!
Our Maasai Warrior
A Maasai warrior walked up to us as we got off the plane, and as he started talking, I knew it was going to be a challenge... The way he talked (especially his voice infliction) was 100% that of Frank (Fraaaank) in Father of the Bride, except, you could hardly understand a word! His name is Petrol (Petro, actually, but he introduced himself as "My name's Petrol. Easy word. Like gas!")
I ended up being the translator, translating everything he said to understandable English. DeAnn and I chatted about our guide and what we could do... We decided we would make it so much fun and encourage him so that he would actually enjoy the trip. (It really seemed like he had lost his joy for what he was doing!) Either way, it became a fun challenge!
On our first drive (even before heading to our camp), we came upon one of the most amazing sights: A leopard sleeping up in a tree! (Check out the photos!) We spent the longest time waiting for him to perhaps get out, but he didn't... Nevertheless, we had a blast taking pictures!
At the camp we dropped our few things in our tents (which are right on a river) and headed to the camp fire, where we visited about the experiences of the day, but also of the past few days. The team was TRULY amazing.
Laying in bed, I was dead tired yet too excited to go to sleep. (Going on safari never, ever bores me! And I've been going on safaris ever since I've been a kid!) My roommate and I made ourselves comfortable on the lounge chairs outside our tent and visited a very long time about life, about God, about who God is and who we are and are not, all while listening to hyenas laughing not too far away...
Animals seen: Topi, giraffes, leopard, Thompson gazelles, Grant's gazelles, impala, zebra, spotted hyena, elephants
Birds seen: Egyptian geese, yellow-billed stork, brown snake eagle
Day 2: Can it get any better?
We were up soon after the sun rose and headed out on our morning game drive. First thing we saw was a mama lioness and her cubs, having breakfast. Then the two male lions. Our car died right as we were sitting watching the lions. The battery was dead, and there was no way we could get out to push! So we waved down the next vehicle that passed by and he pushed us (the benefit of driving Land Rovers: He could push our vehicle with his since we had the spare tires on the back.) We briefly saw a cheetah, and of course tons of other game. Headed back to the camp for brunch, after which I spent time working.
Our afternoon game drive was spectacular! We had a different vehicle (since they didn't want us stuck again!) and in the process got company--a couple who are with the Rafiki ministry and were visiting Kenya for the first time. We didn't come across a single other vehicle, we were in such a remote part of the park. Saw a herd of 34 elephants, among others, and were able to photograph the most amazing sunset!
I went to sit in the front seat next to Petro, and we had a blast of a time. In fact, I think he actually enjoyed the ride, and especially the bit of competition going on... He'd challenge me to see if I could spot elephants that were kilometers away, and I'd do the same to him.
"Secretary birds at 12:00!" I'd say.
"Where. No.... There are no birds. You sure?"
"YOU find them!"
He reluctantly drove straight ahead, obviously expecting to find nothing, yet finding the two magnificent birds right where I said they were... This sealed the deal for him, I think. We had a blast!
One of the many highlights was to be able to photograph the most amazing sunset with an acasia tree right in front of the sun! Yet another amazing day in paradise...
Other animals seen: Crocodiles, cheetah, 12 lions, hyenas with cubs, suni, mongoose, olive baboon
Other birds seen: African fish eagle, lapid-faced vulture, hooded vulture, secretary birds, lilac-breasted roller, paradise flycatcher, black-bellied bustard
Day 3: WOW!
We were woken up at the crack of dawn: 5:30. Time to gather our stuff, watch the sunrise turn the big sky pink, and head out for another amazing day! This time there wasn't space for me to sit up front (our picnic breakfast cooler was in the front seat and other floor space taken by our luggage) so I sat in the back row. While quickly changing seats with Lori so she could get a better shots of the lions' blood-smeared faces, my wonderful little super binoculars fell out of the vehicle, and I only discovered it on our next stop... It was definitely the low of my day, however, I keep reminding myself "It's just stuff!" Nevertheless, I'm bummed it happened! Soon afterwards, we saw ANOTHER LEOPARD. Or, really just a leopard tail... The tail was hanging from a tree, but the cat was hidden too well between the brances for us to see it well.
Next amazing thing we saw was the cheetah with 6 cubs, just a month old. They were the cutest little things. (Photos are still on my camera, having transfered them to my computer yet.) From there, we headed to the Mara River, the deviding line between the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti National Park.
There we stood on the banks of the river and watched crocodiles, hippos, and an approaching herd of thousands of gnu (wildebeest) and zebras. This is the time of year that they cross over into the Serengeti (yes, it's the stuff you see on National Geographic Channel or on Discovery). We got back into the vehicle and waited... No-one in the herd seemed to want to take the lead in crossing the river. Some were literally already in the water when a croc scared them and they turned back. At that stage, we had to leave for the airstrip! What a bummer! Yet we left with our hearts full of gratitude for the most spectacular things we were able to see...
Back in Nairobi I took the team to a market and helped them bargain as they purchased some souvenirs. Came to Mayfield for a quick shower, went to dinner and then took them to the airport.
They had only 7 days in Kenya, however, this team made a huge impact. And they had fun while working very, very hard. The best, however, is knowing that they have left having trained our nurse in doing basic eyecare. And they left with a beautiful picture of Kenya in their hearts: Fara more than the wildlife and sunsets they saw, they saw the hearts of Kenya's people, and that, quite frankly, is what will stay with them...
Other animals seen: Crocodiles, monitor lizzard, Cape buffalo
Other birds seen: Black kite, ostrich laying on eggs, African firefinch, wattled plover, Smith's plover
Thursday, October 05, 2006
I've had a wonderful time with the team. They're a delight, and I'm looking forward to seeing how
God will use them to help Kenyans who have cataracts, glaucoma and more. Some of the cases they saw today were unlike anything they had ever seen apart from in text books...
We got home about half an hour ago (around 10 pm) and are all packing to go on safari. I have a number of items on my to-do list which cannot be put off till I return.
I look forward tto the two days away with the team and seeing how they're blessed by experiencing the African wildlife.
I'll connect again on Sunday, when I'm back.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
And something Long and Flat
The team realized that a stand for one of their pieces of equipment didn't make it... We rigged something out of parts and pieces from our tool shed on Sunday night, but I was asked to run to the hardware store to see if I could buy pipes so we could build something more permanent. After trying just about every option available at the store and not finding the most critical components in any case, I decided to head home.
I was in a total hurry, trying to get home in time for lunch, but getting to or from town is rarely a feat you can accomplish in a short amount of time due to the potholes, speed bumps, donkey traffic, foot traffic and people asking for rides along the way.
But as I was passing this one marshy area on my way home, I saw something different in the corner of my eye. I'm used to seeing great egrets and even a hamerkop in the marsh, but I noticed that this one bird has a long and FLAT beak. There it was: a spoonbill wading in the water! I don't think I've ever seen a spoonbill that I can remember, so I was really excited!
Going to town to pick up supplies for dinner tonight, I looked for it again to verify whether it was an African spoonbill or the more scarce Eurasion spoonbill.* But the bird was no longer there. I'll keep looking every time I drive by there. (*The main differences between these two are that the African spoonbill has no feathers on its forehead, and its legs are red as opposed to black.)
And the sticky tongue
After lunch today, and before the afternoon rush of patients came in, I took the team to have chai at Mama Chiri's home. I decided to multi-task by taking BarraBarra with me. (She has often mentioned, "You can bring him to my house. There are many flies!") He had a good lunch and I didn't have to bother feeding him in between the busy-ness of getting things done for the team.
Oh, the joys of living in Africa...
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
- flown to Nairobi and back
- welcomed and been hosting an optometry team from Iowa
- watched one of the guests (DeAnne) get headbutted by a giraffe
- had the starter in my car replaced thanks to a minor fire (electrical short) in the engine!
- watched a huge tree get cut down on the road from the airport
- driven off the road to get around the fallen tree
- had no voice (sinus infection has gone to my chest)
- spoken too much, especially considering that I have no voice
- gotten too little sleep
- removed a bug from Faith's eye
- been the "pointer person" on the eye exam line, pointing at the letters the kids had to read out loud
- discovered that I officially have 20/15 vision
- watched two beautiful sunsets
- not gotten up early enough to watch the sunrise (but not slept in, either!)
- tried finding parts in town to build a phoroptor stand
- learned more about slit lamps, phoroptors, autorefrectors (and the reasons why I'm not an optometrist)
- killed five spiders (one just with my flat hand, which made me realize I've really gotten used to living here)
- tried to explain Kenyan culture to the visitors
- not gotten to my "regular" work
- shaken the hands of innumerable strangers along the way while walking with the team
- dozed off while writing a blog entry
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