Saturday, December 31, 2005

View through my bedroom window

View through my bedroom window
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
After getting back to Eldoret yesterday, I couldn't wait to go and greet the children and staff. After handing out chocolates and lots of hugs and being told over and over by the kids, "We missed you, Adele" I headed over to see the progress to my house/hut.

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

Nairobi stopover

I'm back in Nairobi. I am anxious to get back to Eldoret to see the children and staff and get more of my work done.

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

My Girls

Adele and the girls
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
One of the hardest things about living internationally is being far from family. I am blessed to be godmother to two precious nieces, Clara (5) and Anja (4 months) who live in Pretoria, South Africa.

We took this photo after church on Christmas day.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Summer Christmas

Summer Christmas
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
After the team from Iowa left Kenya, I flew to South Africa to spend Christmas with my family. I spent the first 5 days at my parents' house in Jeffreys Bay, and on Thursday I flew back to Gauteng Province to spend Christmas at my sister Liesl's house.

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

Home, sweet home

When I arrived in SA, there was a bit of an issue at immigration. I've never, ever been asked for my yellow fever card, but today they did ask for it, and I didn't have it on me. (No idea why not. I think it's just that I've never been asked for it before, so I must've left it in Kenya.) Anyway, they sent me to the clinic, which wanted to charge me $80 to get a shot there and then. I argued, showing them my Kenya stamps in my passport, that I've obviously traveled there before and would thus obviously have had my shot. The nurse said he believed me, but he wouldn't give in. He said it's just the way it is.

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


Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
I went on safari with the Iowa team for their debriefing. These are photos of the adventure. Click on the photo to see more.


Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
This is me with Raymond, one of the 5-year-olds at our children's home. Raymond speaks very little English, but we manage to communicate. Like many of the little ones, he loves it when I come over to their playground to hang out with them. He keeps saying, "Adele! See me!" and then does something silly like throwing a rock as high as he can.

I have a video clip of him standing singing "These are the days of Elijah!" complete with actions and all.

Kenya News

It's Saturday morning. I'm back at the Internet cafe down the road from the hostel where I spent the night after the team left. I'm flying home today. I'm uploading some photos to Flickr and will post them to the blog soon.

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

The Adventures of Kiptoo

One of the New Covenant missions council members, MaryKay Kolb, sent me a little M&M container. Since I threw the canister of M&Ms in my bag when we left for debriefing, one of the team members suggested that we name him and that I take photos of him wherever I go.

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...

December 16

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

Ethiopia? Teaching?
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.

Other Updates

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

My Second Monday

It feels like I've been in Kenya for far longer than just about 10 days... The Iowa team has come, and it does my heart well to have friends here.

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

Everything and the kitchen sink

This morning around 6:30 am, Dave Martin arrived in Nairobi. He's the first of the Iowa team to arrive. Since he joined the team late, we couldn't get a ticket for him with the rest of the team, but it's been a blessing, actually. Dave's a construction guy, so he's helping with the construction of my hut. After getting breakfast in Nairobi, Vincent (our driver friend) took us to a part of town where we could buy stuff we still needed for the construction project, such as screws. It's hard to get screws in Eldoret. Fortunately, Dave brought lots of screws, so we ended up not having to buy those. We did, however, buy a kitchen sink. I had called Tobias (the construction guy in Eldoret) to check if it'd be better to buy one in Nairobi, and since it's half the price that it costs there, it was an obvious YES.

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

Overtake, but never be overtaken

This seems to have been the life philosophy of the shuttle driver this morning. I'm in Nairobi after a harrowing 5-and-a-half-hour ride by matatu/shuttle/minibus/taxi. Actually, I tried to relax as much as possible and read a book most of the way so that I didn't pay attention to what was happening around me on the road.

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... 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.

Road rage
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.

Road kill
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!

Nicer things
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!

Flora Hostel
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!)

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
On Monday, we celebrated the opening of a brand new office for the orphanage. The building was sponsored by Christian Assembly, Brian and Kristin's church in California (and the church where I used to worship).

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Kenyan Politics: Bananas and Oranges

I'm back in town to do some more research on Satellite Internet service, and since Laban Rono, the orphanage director was passing through town on business, I hitched a ride.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people Kenyans can squeeze in one vehicle. They rarely say "no" to someone who asks for a ride... In the 7-seater vehicle we came to town in, we had 5 adults, a teenager, a toddler, and about 2oo kg of maize plus humungous pots. Two of our orphanage staff were going to a family wedding and were responsible for the maize for the event, thus the bags.

While I was sitting in the Internet cafe, the power suddenly went out. It was odd looking out over the market and seeing nothing but two little household fires against the hill, and car lights. Everyone sat and waited very patiently for about 15 minutes, until the power went back on. Apparantly it's not unusual to have such power outages.

Some other things I will need to get accustomed to:
  1. The Kenyan concept of time: Yesterday, while doing home visits in Kipkaren, we were told it will take just 2 minutes for Eunice to make chai. Keep in mind that she has to go and draw water from the river, most likely, since I didn't see ANY other water source. And then she had to find milk somewhere. Can't imagine she got it anywhere but directly from the cow that was wandering around... Needless to say, it was at least half an hour later by the time the chai showed up.
  2. The Kenyan concept of distance: After walking for about half an hour (or longer?) yesterday, we walked into someone's yard, and I thought, "Ah! We're here!" I asked Peter, the pastor who accompanied us if this is it. I was informed that we're just passing through someone's yard, and that our destination was "just 200 meters from here." Yip. It was again at least half an hour later that we finallly made it to Eunice's house, and we were walking rather fast along the little dirt passage.
  3. Kenyan ceremonies: Kenyans celebrate whenever they can. They'll have a guest of honor whenever they can. This morning, for example, we had the official dedication of the new orphanage office, and Laban, the orphanage director, was saying, "Actually, we should be dedicating the washing machine at this time, too. But never mind." One of the pastors (a dorm parent) was asked to say a few words. Then Brian, the guest of honor at this event seeing that his church sponsored the building of the office, had to say a few words. Then 2 people had to pray. Then I had to take a bunch of pictures. And finally, everyone was invited to take a tour of the new office. It was a lot of fun. I was surprised that we didn't all have chai afterwards, too! Believe me, I'm not making fun of this sense of celebration. It's just new to me, and something I'll have to grow accustomed to.

Other highlights of today:

  • Spending four hours in the Internet cafe this morning catching up on e-mail and paying KES200 for the time spent. That's less than US$3.
  • Finding my way around town. I was able to locate the bank and Nakumatt (a grocery store) by myself. (OK, I asked for directions to Nakumatt, but I was heading the right way!)
  • Making myself understood in simple Swahili, saying things like "Where is Rochers?" (Wapi Rochers?) , "See you later!" (tutana nana), and "Again!" (Tena!) - for yet another photo.
  • Remembering more and more children's names. I love how their little faces light up when I greet them by name.
  • Seeing the kids come running to me shouting, "Adele!" when I walk over to the orphanage. I promptly get at LEAST 10 hugs, if not more, and several invitations to come and visit their dorms. I'll go and read some of the girls a story tomorrow night.

Other interesting facts:

  • Right now, Kenya has no official parliament. President Kibaki sacked the entire parliament last Wednesday since he and his party had lost the referendum. Kenya had a referendum to vote on constitutional changes. Those in favor of the changes had to mark the banana on the ballot. Those apposed to the changes had to mark the orange. This system was chosen since the majority of Kenyans are illiterate. So now, you keep hearing about the president warning the oranges not to stage any rallies, or that the bananas are upset... The president was supposed to announce a new parliament today, but there's no news yet of any new appointments.
  • This time of year is especially important in Kenyan culture. Young men (anywhere between age 11 and 17) go into the fields for circumcision. They spend up to a month in the field, wearing skins and painting their bodies. They learn all kinds of essential responsibilities. Many churches are stepping in and playing a role in this "manhood training" since traditionally, it's not all good. (Traditionally, they are given lots of alcohol and told no woman can tell them what to do now that they are warriors. This leads to many dropouts from high school, not to mention a habit of consuming alcohol at a young age.)
  • Similarly, young girls are taken for female circumcision, a sad and unnecessary practice that occurs in east, central and western Africa. Again, churches are speaking out against this practice and doing training instead in femininity.

I'm learning lots, as you can tell. I love sharing this with you as you are part of this journey.

Chai, chai, and more chai

Kenyans are incredibly hospitable. You don't walk out of someone's house without being offered chai. Now, if the chai were what I'd have at Starbucks, it'd be wonderful! But Kenyan chai is basically just black tea boiled with milk and sugar. If you're offered chai at someone's home, it's rude to refuse.

On Sunday after church, I joined a group of friends (Brian and Kristin had friends in town, whom they took to our other center, the Kipkaren Training Center.) Our trip to Kipkaren was good. They have such an incredible team spirit there! There was, as always, a welcoming ceremony and I even had to cut a ribbon for us as a group to enter. I was introduced numerous times--to the students who had tons of questions about how farming practices compared in South Africa--and to the staff. They are REALLY glad to have me on the team!

Yesterday, we went on home visits in the Kipkaren area. My water bottle had been taken after dinner (mistaken for garbage) so I didn't have water to take with me. We walked FAR to visit 2 homes. At the first one, the lady had to be called from the fields, so we waited about half an hour after our hour walk. She insisted that we have chai. It was hard for me to swallow the chai since this is a VERY rural household. I am not sure if hot water is ever used to wash the cups, and soap, I am certain, is a luxury they cannot afford!

After finishing chai at Eunice's home, we headed to another home where we once again got chai, green bananas (they're ripe, though), and chapatis. I was just praying that God would protect my stomach! This second home belonged to a slightly more affluent family. The father of the house, John, has two wives and 23 children! (If you click on the photo at on the of the other entries I posted today, you'll see photos of these visits.)

Then we walked back in the sun. I had some water, but not enough, so by the time we got home last night, I wasn't feeling too bright. Had a headache and my tummy felt queezy. I made some toast, got a DVD from the Albrights, and got into bed at 7! I felt way better this morning! No more headaches or tummy aches. (From time to time, though, my stomach makes a really odd twist!)

Brian and Kristin's friends left today, so they went on Safari with them. That means I am on my own for a few days. I have plenty to work on, and on Friday morning I'll catch a shuttle to Nairobi. Will do shopping and stay at a hostel for the night. I'll meet Vincent--a driver the Watershed team had connected me with--and I will go to pick up Dave Saturday morning, and then we'll go and look for things like taps, sinks etc for my house which will be built in the next 2 weeks.

On Sunday morning, Dave, Vincent and I will go to pick up the rest of the Iowa team. The children at the orphanage know that we'll be doing a VBS next week and keep reminding me that the team will arrive on Sunday. Not that I need reminding... I am really looking forward to their arrival!

It's around 1 pm here now. I'm heading to Nakumatt, a grocery store in town, to buy some groceries. This afternoon, I'll be moving to Don and Amy Rogers' hut until my hut's done, and will need to cook for myself now. It's challenging for me to be dependent on others (the Albrights for meals, and anyone who's coming to town for a ride).

Today, I'll also be talking with various satellite Internet providers in Nairobi to see who can give me the best deal so we can get Internet access at the center as soon as possible! It will make life MUCH easier to have access at home!

On the way to the butcher

On the way to the butcher
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
On Sunday afternoon, we filled the orphanage vehicle (as in, 7 adults and 2 kids into a 7-seater vehicle) and drove to the ELI Kipkaren Training Center. Click on the photo to see some of the pictures from this trip as well as some photos around the Ilula Training Center.

Sunday morning

I had written this update on Sunday morning, but was unable to upload it at that time due to a SLOW connection.

It's Sunday morning, and Brian and I had to come to the office in town really quickly to see off a team that's been at our other site in Kipkaren. After this, we'll be heading back to Ilula for church. We have church at the center since it's easier that way with all the children. People from the community also come to church at Ilula. By the time we left, children's church was under way. Wish you could hear the little kids sing at the top of their lungs!
I've been at Ilulu for just more than 2 days now. It has been amazing to see the children recognize me and ask about Danette, Lori and Pat. Yesterday afternoon, we showed the “Jesus Film for Kids” (in Swahili) and it was incredible watching the little ones. They were really into the movie, laughing at kids' lines, and burying their little faces in their hands, peeping through their fingers, anytime Jesus was mistreated. Several of them were crying during the crucifixion… I look forward to being able to speak Swahili so I can visit with them about their experiences.

The Hut
Yesterday, I spent time with the leaders here looking at where exactly my hut should be. One option is to have it further away from the training center, under a bunch of eucalyptus trees. It's a beautiful spot and very private, but the concern is that it's far from everyone else. The second option is to build it right next to Brian and Kristin's hut. I'm thinking more and more than this is a better option.

We also sketched out the floor plan and gave it to the contractor for a final quote. They'll start making the bricks on Monday and start working on the foundations right away.

Right now, I'm living in one of the guest huts. It's very simple, yet comfortable. I'll try to upload a photo or two. I've been having to take cold showers (BRRR!), but it's not too bad when you get a bucket of hot water from the fire behind the shower and take a “bucket shower,” i.e. rinsing with a pitcher of warmer water. (I have found out since that there is a solar-heated shower.)

Since I don't have access to a kitchen of my own right now, I've been eating with the Albrights. They have guests, 2 couples/friends from the US, so it's been a big group. I'll be moving into the Rogers' hut (they're the directors and are currently in the US for fundraising and speaking engagements) soon, and will then be cooking for myself until the Iowa team comes.

I've been remembering most of the staff members' names from last year, and many of the children. I've been carrying around a little note book, though, to write down names and descriptions, since I'm a visual learner. I'm going to start taking individual photos of the children and putting their names on the photos with Photoshop since I'm a visual learner.

It's cute to see the kids coming up and saying, “Adéle, do you remember my name?” It's like a game they play with me. I really, really would like to know everyone's names soon since it shows that I value who they are.

In the morning, I wake up to the sound of cows walking by the road that passes close to my hut. At night, the wind blows quite a bit and you hear the wind in the trees. Nothing else. No traffic. No music or television. I often turn on music on my computer when things are too quiet.

Right now, I can hear a local church singing. Africans have beautiful voices and they sing with all their hearts and beings. At church, they might have a bass guitar and a drum. (Children's church only has a drum. It's neat to see the kids play the drum.)

I've had to get used to working in thousands again. I've been looking at furniture. A mattress, for example, is about 20,000 Kenyan Shillings. That's about $270. Fruit and vegetables are generally quite cheap. We bought roses at the neighboring rose farm yesterday (export roses) at $.45 a dozen!

We're heading out. Will update when I have a chance again.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Karibu, Adele!

It's an ABSOLUTE joy to be back at Ilula! I had some time to unpack and have lunch with Brian and Kristin, and then headed over to the orphanage. The kids came running, laughing and saying, "Karibu, Adele!" (Karibu is kiSwahili for welcome.)

I was amazed that the kids remembered me. They promptly also asked, "Where's Danette? And Lori? And Patricia?" Some of the older ones who can speak English well reminded me that we gave them T-shirts last year with the fruit of the spirit on it, and that we made balloon hats. They're thrilled that I'm here to stay, and I have had numerous invitations to their dorm rooms to come and visit. One girl's dorm (where little Ruth is a fearless leader) recited John 3:16 to me since that was their memory verse last year.

The Kenyan staff keep asking me if it feels real for me to be back. It does indeed. The roads are as bumpy. The smiles are as big, if not bigger, than last year. Life here is as simple as before.

Right now, I'm in town since Laban, the orphanage director, had to come to run errands and asked me if I wanted to come and do e-mail. I'm in a cyber cafe overlooking the local market. Below are vendors with big bags of rice, maize and an assortment of beans. There are also vendors who sell fresh vegetables: bright red tomatoes, spinach, cilantro, cucumbers, potatoes. And then there are a number of stalls where you can purchase second-hand clothing and shoes.

Some other pictures from this morning's trip into town: I walked to Uchumi, the local grocery store, to buy cheese and wannabe hotdog rolls for Brian. Dorothy, from our office, accompanied me so I could see where Uchumi is, and I bought us fruit juice. Three street children followed us for the longest time saying something in Swahili. When I asked Dorothy what they were saying, she explained that they wanted our juice. I will give them juice next time I walk by them since mine was already done and Brian was waiting for us.

I now need to head back to the airport to pick up my other bag. There wasn't space on the little 19-seater plane for all the luggage.

Tonight, I will have dinner at Laban and Angelina Rono's house (orphanage directors and a family who I know will be key in my time here). I am looking forward to visiting with them and will be sure to take photos. I will bring greetings from my friends, family and supporters around the world. It means the world to these Kenyans to know that others are thinking of them.

You will be joining us for dinner, in a way.

My last flight

I'm in Eldoret, my new home town. I could either have taken a 5-hour minibus ride here, or the 45-minute flight. I love that I flew, not only to get here faster, but for the view.

Wilson Airport is right next to the Nairobi National Park, so right after take-off we flew over a big herd of zebra and wildebeest. I also saw some Cape buffalo from the air. Next, you fly over Kibera, the slums of Nairobi. It's the biggest slum in Africa with about 5 million people living in shacks. After that, it's a stretch of beauty as you fly over the Great Rift Valley, including lakes lined in pink with flamingos. The descent into Eldoret is a bumpy one since the aiplane seats about 20 or so people only. In fact, it's so small that they had to leave my one piece of luggage in Nairobi for the next flight out, this evening.

Brian, who picked me up at the airport, had to run some errands, so I'm at the ELI office for a little while only, then it's off to Illula, the center. Home. I'll be happy to see my coworkers and especially to see the children. And I'll be delighted not to live out of a suitcase for a while!

In about a week, a team from Iowa will be arriving. I'll be heading to Nairobi to meet them. Can't wait to see the team!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

I'm in Kenya

Dorothy, a coworker from ELI, met me at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after a 4-hour flight from Johannesburg. I was blessed to sit by the window and see Africa from high in the sky. Seeing Lake Malawi was especially beautiful. Unfortunately, I sat on the wrong side and couldn't see Mt. Kilimanjaro, but we did indeed fly by the mountain. Descending into Nairobi, we flew over Nairobi National Park and I smiled at the sight of herd of antelope down below.

Dorothy and I are staying at the "Mayfield Guesthouse," a guesthouse run by Africa Inland Mission. Seeing that it's Thanksgiving, I kept thinking we're staying in the Mayflower. ;)

Before we headed out for a walk to this Internet cafe (called "Cyba!"), we had to have chai (tea.) It was 4 pm, and Dorothy explained that stopping for afternoon tea is optional, whereas 10am tea time is essential. Good to know.

It's good to be here. We're leaving for Wilson Domestic Airport at 6 am for the hour-or-so flight to Eldoret. I'm more than eager to stay in one place for a while.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I am thankful for each of you who is walking this journey with me.


Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
I took tons of photos at Anja's christening on Sunday, but due to a computer problem, I lost them all! Fortunately my sister had made some prints before the glitch, so we do have real photos of the event.

I had a wonderful time with the girls and am thankful that I'm now living a LITTLE closer to them and may be able to see them a little more often.

Clara LOVES Jesus. She's the one who declared that she has a lump--Jesus' head 'cause he lives in her heart. She talks about Jesus a lot, and one evening when she was sleeping with me, she sat up in bed and reached out with her arms. When I asked her what she was doing, she said (in her sleep), "I'm giving Jesus a hug."

Yesterday, she was listening to a kids' praise song in the car, "The love of the Lord is wonderful..." when her eyes welled up with tears and she said, "I love Jesus SO much." How precious!

Next stop: Nairobi

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving day. It will be my first Thanksgiving in about 11 years that I won't be having turkey and spending the day with good friends.

Instead, I'll be leaving home at 5:15 am to head to the airport and fly to Nairobi. I'll arrive in Kenya too late for a connecting flight to Eldoret, and will spend the evening at a guest house. I'll leave the guest house by 6 on Friday for the very last leg of my journey to Kenya.

I am not sure if I'll be near an Internet cafe during this short stop in the city. And I'm not sure if I'll be able to access the Internet much next week. I will try my best.

For now, this is it. Next time you'll hear from me, I'll be at my new home. ;)

Monday, November 21, 2005

At Home

Today is my father's 65th birthday. It's neat to be able to be here with them to celebrate this day. I landed yesterday morning just after 6. Visited with my family (I'm at my sister Liesl's house, my parents also flew up here for a few days) and then, in the early afternoon we left for a local stone chapel where we had a beautiful service for Anja's christening. I'll post a photo later today since I'm on a slow dial-up connection... Went to bed early. Clara, my 5-year-old niece and goddaughter, came to sleep with me. Not the best way to fight jetlag, but I don't mind. It's a rare chance I get to visit.

It's summer in South Africa and I couldn't have wished for better weather. We've been having almost all our meals outside on the patio. It's good to be home.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Singapore Layover

It's just before 10pm on this side of the world. I just landed in Singapore after a flight of just more than 4 hours from Taipei.

Highlights of my flight:
  • Seeing the Taiwanese mountains sticking out above the clouds. It was a really beautiful sight.
  • Flying in over Malaysia and seeing the city/nation of Singapore. It is a VERY crowded area, and all I could think was how very, very different it is from where I'll be in a week...
  • Knowing that I'm one flight closer to seeing my family. I depart from Singapore in 5 hours again, at 2-something a.m. and land in Jo'burg at 6 a.m. (It's a 10-hour flight and I look forward to sleeping!) After arriving and visiting a bit, it's my new niece/goddaughter Anja's baptism.
I had forgotten that the luggage limit from Taiwan to SA is just 20 kg. I had two bags of 30 kg each plus heavy, heavy carry-ons. Thanks to this being part of an onward journey from the US, the lady at check-in didn't balk at all at the weight. YEAH GOD!

I'm going to walk around the airport for a while. This airport has received the award several times as the best airport in the world. It feels more like you're in a mall with beautiful orchids, palm trees etc (real ones) growing all over. It's VERY humid here, even inside the airport. Can only imagine how it's feeling outside right now...

Keep in touch,

Friday, November 18, 2005

Life at ORTV

Life at ORTV
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
As an editor at ORTV, I worked very closely with the art department. Here we're being goofy taking a group shot. They're a really neat group of very talented artists. Today, I had to laugh when they were grilling me about my new life in Africa. They finally got what a hut is and then were blown away that my hut wouldn't have air conditioning!

Back at work

Back at work
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
I stopped by ORTV today to visit with friends and colleagues. Needing new photos for my official ELI prayer cards, I was able to take advantage of the fact that ORTV has a photo studio. Had fun taking these photos as well as group shots with my friends in the art department.

A common sight in Taiwan

Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
Yesterday was some or other auspicious day in Taiwan with more than the usual offering to ancestor spirits. It's nothing unusual to see people out on the streets going through the rituals to try and appease the spirits. They burn "ghost money" and put out offers of rice, fruit etc.

Chinese hairwash

Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
One of the biggest treats for me in Taiwan is getting a hair wash. You sit in your chair while it's being done and get a massage in the process, too. Diane (in the picture with me) usually does the wash/massage, and then it's over to Daisy to try and tame my hair.

Second stop: Taipei

I'm sitting in my friend Nina's living room with Xiao Bai, her Java rice sparrow, poised on my forearm as I'm typing. It's good to be back in Taipei. I've been up since about 5 a.m. thanks to jet lag. Not too bad, considering the 14-hour time difference.

I had a truly blessed time yesterday, connecting with friends. Had lunch with the ORTV art department right after getting back from the airport, then spent the rest of the afternoon with Debryn and Barbara, two of my dearest friends on this side of the world. After spending much time at Starbucks, we went to the hair salon we used to frequent when we all lived in Taipei for a good massage. Ah!

After stopping by to see the Platells, (Aussie friends from church), I headed to Gateway, our church office, to do a presentation to a small group of friends. I was a bit tired, but it wasn't too bad. It was a joy to share about the journey, show photos of where I'll be heading, and have my friends pray with me. And it was pure bliss to head home to Nina's apartment to sleeeeeep.

Today, I'll be going to ORTV to visit and have lunch with staff from the English Department. I also have appointments to see a couple of other friends, after which Nina and I will go out for dinner. (Food/dining is of major importance in Chinese culture! There are far more restaurants here than in any average American town.)

Tomorrow's it's back to the airport and off to Johannesburg.

  • I'm not having much jet lag at all
  • Meaningful times with friends
  • The hut is now FULLY FUNDED!
  • The funding for a vehicle is growing...
  • Safe travels and the blessing of even having the only open seat in economy class next to me on the long flight from LA to Taipei, allowing me to sleep better
  • Continued safety and health in traveling
  • God connections with individuals along the way and an open ear to sense God's heart
  • The rest of the funding for a vehicle

Monday, November 14, 2005

I have one more wall!

It's late. My eyes are burning from a long day of travel and of many tears. Having moved many a time in my life, I tend to switch off emotionally when saying good-bye. Yet I get to these points when reality hits and the tears won't stay away. That was me, last night, after packing...

Nan picked Danette and I up from home and took us to the airport. (I had asked that no-one come to the airport because that just makes leaving really hard!) We had an uneventful flight to Chicago, then to LAX. Took some fu shots of the Rockies and of the Grand Canyon. God is SO creative!

It was fun pointing out the different LA sights to Sean, a little Malaysian Chinese boy who sat next to me, by the window, as well as to Danette. "See that hill over there, beyond the LA skyline? Look closely. It's the Hollywood sign." After getting our luggage, we picked up a rental car and had to nix any plans to take a detour. We were running late and even on a Sunday afternoon, there was bumper-to-bumper traffice on I-405N (to Santa Monica.) We headed south instead, to the hotel where Danette's meeting is this week. After a brief detour through Long Beach and a stop at Baja Fresh (yum! Authentic Californian Mexican food!) we drove straight to Dana Point, where I dropped Danette off and headed north on I-5, then 57 to Glendora. (This road takes you past Disneyland and the Angels Stadium. It was fun to drive on these too familiar roads again.)

It was wonderful to see the Clarks--the family with whom I stayed for 2 years while doing graduate studies. They're like family to me, and they had invited a bunch of my friends to come see me--mostly students who had been on my Mozambique teams ('03 and '04) and some other friends. It was an incredible treat to visit with everyone and catch up!

From this group of friends came commitments to cover one entire wall in my hut! I praise God for that and am so very thankful for every single person who is part of this journey...

Now it's late. It's only 11:13 LA time, but we're two hours behind Iowa. It's time for me to sleep. Tomorrow is another full day.

Praise: For safe flights & connections
For funding for one more wall!
For a chance to see friends and especially to see how some of these students are growing spiritually!

Pray: For continued travel safety
For my meeting on Monday morning with ELI directors
For meaningful connections with others
For an openness to what God is doing!

Much love,
a tired me

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Crazy times

"How much stuff do I really need?" This is a question I had to pose myself many times today. Do I really need so much stuff? It's a challenge, wanting to live a simple life, yet knowing that I don't want to be stuck wearing the same few things over and over and over.

The packing is moving along. Seeing that I'm stopping in LA for meetings, then in Taipei, then in Johannesburg, it makes it a bit more challenging. But it's all good. And it's almost done. I only have office stuff left, and books. But those will be put in an ActionPacker and brought by the New Covenant team that's coming in December. What a blessing.

Tomorrow I have to say good-bye to friends at church. And then, it's a matter of wrapping up details all week long. Backing up computer files. Finishing and printing off a missions manual I've been working on. Final house projects (help clean gutters etc.). And then it's my birthday on Saturday. Some friends are having a little gathering on Friday night to celebrate and say good-bye. I refuse to do any packing/work on Saturday. I'll go see a movie or something. Fun stuff.

Sunday, my flight leaves early in the morning. Our good friend Nan is taking Danette and I to the airport. Danette has a national sales meeting in LA that week, so we're blessed to be able to fly out together. I'll go show her Santa Monica, then take her to her hotel, after which I'll head to Azusa, California.

Sunday night, there's a gathering of friends at the Clarks' house in Glendora. (This is the family I stayed with while studying/working at Azusa Pacific.) I'm looking forward to seeing some friends and doing a presentation on Africa.

On Monday I'm having a meeting with old friends from the missions office and getting materials from them that I can use in Kenya, then off to a meeting with people from ELI.

Tuesday's packed, from breakfast to late. Then it's off to the airport for my flight to Taipei.

I will have no Wednesday, November 2005, thanks to crossing the International date line. I land in Taipei on Thursday, November 17 and will be met by friends. Then it's lunch w/ colleagues, followed by coffee with friends, and finally a dessert event that evening at Taipei International Church, where I'll be doing another presentation. This is a bit crazy, considering that I'm giving myself NO time to adjust from jetlag. And Taiwan's 14 hours ahead, so essentially when I'm doing my presentation, my body will want to sleep...

Friday I'm going to my old office, seeing friends at ORTV and having lunch with former colleagues. And then it's NO MORE BUSINESS. Just an afternoon of enjoying a bit of down time with friends who go way back.

Saturday I'll want good Chinese breakfast and head up the mountain on the back of my friend Nina's scooter to see the city for one last time. Then it's off to the airport again...

My flight to South Africa takes me through Singapore for a short stopover. I'll be eager to get on the plane and sleep! I land in Johannesburg around 6 am Sunday morning, South Africa time and will spend the morning with my family, relaxing and enjoying SUMMER. That afternoon, my new niece/goddaughter Anja is being baptized, so it's a big event with friends and famiily.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is FAMILY TIME, with only one meeting with a local church. Then it's off to Nairobi on Thursday.

I get in too late for the flight to Eldoret, so I'll spend Thursday evening in Nairobi and fly out Friday morning, November 25 to Eldoret.

I'll be at my new home 12 days after leaving Cedar Rapids. I think I'll be MORE THAN ready to unpack and not live out of my bags for a few weeks. And I'll be eager to get to know my new neighbors and coworkers.

I hope to keep you up to date as I travel, but I won't always be assured of an Internet connection, hence the detailed schedule.

Would you pray for me during these crazy few weeks, that I'll remain in good health with my eyes fixed on Christ. I don't want to be so busy that I miss opportunities to simply respond to whatever He wants me to do/say.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Hut and more

It's just more than a week until I move to Eldoret, Kenya. Many of you have been asking what specific needs I still have, and I'm happy to share.

Today, I have a huge part of my hut expenses covered, which I praise God for!

I still need
* one window ($121)
* a roof ($1,700)
* about 3/4 of the structure ($2630)

That's it for the hut! Amazing, eh?

My work visa fee has been provided for. I have the first $500 towards a vehicle.

Yeah God, and yeah to every person who has been a part of this process, and to every person who will continue to be a part of this journey.

What an amazing blessing to run this race with so many friends.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


My 5-year-old niece, Clara, declared this week that she has a lump on her chest. "Feel it, mommy," she told my sister. "It's right here where my heart is!" My sister was puzzled, and as she reached out to feel what Clara was trying to point out, the little one explained, "See, mom? It's Jesus' head! You can feel his head because he lives in my heart!"

Oh, that I may "feel" Jesus every day as I serve him.

Friday, September 09, 2005

How to get from here to there

Find Eldoret on the map
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
Can you find Eldoret? It's Northwest of Nairobi, 6 hours by bumpy road, or a short and equally bumpy flight over the Rift Valley.

Hodi! (not pronounced howdy!)

That's what Kenyans say when they knock on your door. It means, "May I come in?" The response is, "Karibu!" (Welcome!)

A few weeks ago, shortly before I sent out my previous update, I prayerfully "knocked on the door" of Empowering Lives International (ELI) , a ministry with which I'm very familiar. I had gotten to know and respect ELI's leaders through APU. Last Thanksgiving, I took a small team from Iowa to serve at one of their training centers in Kenya.

"Hodi?" I asked.

ELI's leaders met, prayed, discussed their ministry needs, considered my background and passions, prayed some more. This week, ELI extended me a warm, "Karibu!" I have been welcomed into their ministry and onto their team in Eldoret. The position offered to me encompasses various facets of my journey to this point: editorial work, writing, project management, short-term missions training/coordinating, and down the road, teaching.

I will be moving to Eldoret, Kenya at the start of November.

This is a journey that has been long in the making. It started with me being born and raised in Africa. It continues with God taking me to Taiwan where I worked as an editor. The road then led to Azusa Pacific University, where this long-term missionary learned a lot about short-term missions. Through APU's Office of World Missions, I got to know and respect Brian Albright and his wife, Kristin, who moved to Kenya last year to join ELI. And through APU, I got to know ELI. In fact, the team I took to Mozambique last summer received training from ELI in projects we then implimented in Dondo, MZ. And once I moved to Iowa, I took a small team from my church in Iowa last Thanksgiving to serve at ELI's training center.

I came to the fork in the road a few weeks ago. I realized that I could continue to push and pray that the doors in Canada would open, or I could stop and listen if God was trying to redirect me. I took a step of faith and explained to my Canadian friends that I believe I'm heading in the wrong direction. I needed to return to Africa. Only a few days after announcing this change, I was notified that my Canadian visa had officially been turned down. This, to me, was one of many confirmations that God had indeed guided me in this change, and I knew he would open the door with the right ministry in Africa. I had sent an inquiry to Brian shortly before I sent out my previous update, and got a response that they were interested in a dialogue with me.

Two long weeks later, I was offered the position in Eldoret. (BTW, you can find Eldoret on the attached map. It's northwest of Nairobi.)

What will I be doing with ELI?
At first, I'll be mostly involved with communications. My job will encompass overseeing the big picture of all their newsletters, updates etc. I'll do a lot of writing and photography. I'm planning on starting a blog just for all the orphans. (This part is so much like my job in Taiwan!)

A second component will be communicating with short-term teams, making all their arrangements within Kenya, meeting them in Nairobi when they arrive, arranging their debriefing safari, stuff like that. I see this as a crucial component for a successful short-term mission--having someone in-country who can answer team members' questions and be there to serve and/or assist visitors.

A third component will unfold once I'm on sight and have gotten to know the leaders and the culture better. It may involve working with a national on writing curriculum for the pastoral training center (this is where my degree from APU comes in handy!) It may involve starting some community-based programs, such as a home-based orphan care program.

When will I move?
Before, I thought I had to leave the country at the end of this month. I since found out that I have 60 days grace period after 9/29. Officially, I'd have to be out of the US before the end of November. However, I'm trying to get a flight booked for November 5, directly to Nairobi. Early in December, a team from New Covenant will be coming to serve at Eldoret, and I'd love to be somewhat at home by the time they arrive. While the team is in Kenya, I will be joining their program and working specifically with a VBS for the orphanage.

Where is the orphanage? Will I be working with the orphans?
ELI's children's center is on the same piece of land where I will be living. (And yes, I'll be living in a round hut with a thatched roof and an outhouse. But more about that once I'm there!) Spending time getting to know each of the 80 children is very high on my priority list. In fact, since I'll be learning Swahili, I will be practising my new language skills on the kids.

FAQs/Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do I have sufficient financial support raised?
Not yet. My support raised so far is at about 65% of the suggested budget for Kenya. If you would like to support me financially, I will greatly appreciate it! Checks can be made out to ELI. Just write the number 319 in the memo line so they know it's for my account. Mail it to P.O.Box 67, Upland, CA 91785. ELI will issue tax receipts for donations.
2. How can I be reached in Kenya?
I'll have access to e-mail. Please keep in mind that it's dial-up Internet access, so please do not send any mass forwards or large attachments. My mailing address in Kenya is P.O.Box 8199, Eldoret, Kenya. I still have a Kenyan cell phone number from my last visit: 011-254-723-270-086.
3. Do I need a visa for Kenya?
Almost everyone I've told about the news of this job almost immediately asked, "Do you need a visa?" Yes, I do. But it is far easier to get a visa for Kenya than for Canada. I just have to send my passport to Washington, DC with the necessary paperwork, and I'll have my visa in about 2 weeks. Tourism and development work are some of Kenya's major lifelines. I have yet to hear of any person who has been denied a visa to that country.
4. Do I have to learn Swahili?
Yes and no. Most adults with at least an elementary education can understand English. Some of the children at the orphanage already know English. But if I want to be able to minister to the younger children (which I want to do!), I need to be able to speak Swahili. And if I want to do any work within the community, I will need to be able to communicate in Swahili. Plus, learning someone's language shows you respect them, which I do.

Oh, there are so many more things I can share about the place I'll be, about the faith and the love of the people, about the joy of seeing Christ work in and through these people who have so little in our Western eyes, yet have faith that puts us to shame.

I look forward to walking the road with them, and with you.

Prayer and praise:

* I am infinitely thankful for this ministry connection, and for the priviledge to join the incredible work ELI is doing in Kenya
* Please pray for details of preparing for the move. I had packed my stuff long ago to move to Canada. I need to repack, totally. Out with my snow boots and winter clothes. In with skirts... (It's a Kenyan culture thing. I'll be wearing skirts all the time. Yip. You read right.)
* Please pray for meetings with donors during the next month. Beyond the basic budget, I'll have to raise funds for some major equipment in Kenya (like a 4x4 pickup.)
* For health and safety
* That God will flood me with a deep love for each of the orphans and community members; that I may see them as He sees them, and see within them the potential He has planted within their lives
* For ease in transition. There will undoubtedly be moments when I will miss the luxuries of living in the West (like taking hot showers)
* For creativity in my new job
* That I will boldly obey Christ
* For good friends in Kenya (beyond the circle of our ministry)

Ubarikiwe (be blessed)


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Destination: Kenya

This week, I was offered a gift from the hand of God. Truly. I have been invited to join the team at Empowering LIves International's base in Eldoret, Kenya. My job will encompass various facets of my journey to this point: editorial work, writing, project management, short-term missions training, and, further down the road, teaching.

I will be moving to Eldoret, Kenya at the start of November.

Check out ELI's Web site:

More later.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

We serve a BIG God

This evening, I got news from Canada that my Canadian visa was officially denied.

I am amazed at God's grace during this process: He guided me to come to a position where I started looking at options in Africa even before I got the official news. He has birthed in my heart excitement about what options lay before me. The news from Canada isn't a blow at all; it is confirmation of what God was telling me.

I also got news that I have 60 days grace period after my OPT visa (the student visa extension I'm on) expires. That means, I do not have to leave the US on Sept. 29 like I thought. It has a lot of positive implications, which I'm very excited about.

God is good, isn't he?

Monday, August 29, 2005

What I know and what I don't know

I bet Peter, Andrew, James and John had NO IDEA what was lying ahead when they lay down their fishing nets in response to Jesus' invitation
to "Follow me!" (Mk. 1)

When I first responded to that same invitation and committed to doing so wherever God may lead, I had no idea that the path would lead to Taiwan, to the US, and beyond. I realized that the journey would be one step at a time, and as I take steps of obedience, the next step of the journey would unfold.

For the past year or so, I believed that the next step was to Canada. I've been involved in women's ministry in preparation for involvement in a ministry that reaches out to women in difficult circumstances.

As you know, getting my Canadian work permit has been a major ordeal. According to the Canadian Consulate General's office, getting a work
permit takes between 2 and 6 weeks. It's been 12 weeks since I submitted my application, and still no news. (I've been told that since 9/11, it's far more difficult even for missionaries to be granted work permits in Canada.)

During this time, I have been praying about the delay and God's purposes behind it. Various devotions I was reading had the same message: Allow God to intervene and change my plans.

When I think of the past three years, the absolute highlights were the times I spent in Mozambique and Kenya, serving at ministries that worked with orphans. I grew more and more restless that moving to Canada is a move in the wrong direction, that I need to move back to Africa and be involved full-time in ministry to orphans.

On Thursday, I spoke to Gwen, the director at Linwood House Ministries. Gwen, too, agreed that she believed that serving in Africa was where she envisioned me to be.

I spoke to others that know me well and who have served in Africa with me. Each and every person I spoke to affirmed whole-heartedly that
they far more see me in Africa full-time rather just on a short-term basis.

And I've been speaking with a ministry in Africa whose core values and passions are congruent to mine about the possibility of me joining
their team. At this stage, they are considering my application. Nothing is certain yet. I will keep you up to date on any news in this regard.

I have immense peace about this change.

I know that my life is in God's hands, that He has a purpose with what would seem like a major change in direction for me. For God, I believe, this isn't a change. He has known all along that I wouldn't move to Canada after all.

He knows where I'll be moving. At this stage, I don't. I know that He will open the door where and when it needs to be opened.

I know my American visa expires at the end of September, and that I will have to leave this country. That means that I'd have to reserve an airplane ticket in the next two weeks. It will most likely be to Johannesburg. That way, I can take some things home and see my family. And from there, I can fly or drive to where God's opened the door.

Will you please pray for clarity during this process?

Some other praise & prayer requests:

• Praise God that He is sovereign and in control, even when we cannot see what's lying ahead
• Praise God for an incredibly supportive church community in Cedar Rapids, for the lessons I've learned during my time in the Midwest, and for many, wonderful memories of my year in Iowa
• Due to my delay in departure, I have a chance to go to a Beth Moore conference in Kansas City (Sept. 8-9) with the ladies from our Tuesday night Bible study group. What an unexpected blessing!
• Due to the delay, I will also be able to attend the missions weekend. I am praying that we'll know for sure by then which ministry I'll be serving with so I have specific information to share.
• Please pray for God's leading, to me as well as to the ministry leaders with whom I am communicating. I would LOVE to see this process wrapped up before I leave. It would make communicating with supporters far simpler. Plus, I am truly ready to be part of a ministry team once again...
• I need to sell my car. Please pray for this process, too.

I appreciate that you are part of this journey. I look forward to letting you know which door God has opened once I know for sure where the road is leading.

In His grip,

Financial supporters, please note that I will be calling you this week with information regarding support.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Announcing the birth of my goddaughter, Anja Barnardt

At 6:30 p.m. (South African time, our 11:30 a.m) on Monday, August 15, God blessed our family with a new addition: Anja Barnardt (5 lbs 4 oz/2.45 kg) was born after a very long day of labor to my younger sister, Liesl and her husband, Stefan. Anja's Apgar score is 9, and both mother and daughter are doing well.

This is Liesl and Stefan's second girl. Clara (5) is excited to go and see her little sister at the hospital tomorrow morning. I am godmother to both Clara and Anja. Liesl and I are 3 years apart and have always been very close friends. It's tough being this far from home during a time such as this, but I am thoroughly looking forward to meeting Anja in December, when I'll be in Africa for a missions trip.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Prayer requests: August 2005

I truly do value each and every one of you who support me through your prayers as well as financially. Please pray however God leads you to pray for me. Here are some specific requests I have as well as items of praise:

Praise God!
. . . for affordable housing in downtown Vancouver. Pray that God will bless my friends Rod and Amy as they have stepped up and offered their apartment to me
. . . for each and every individual and family who have comitted to support me financially and through prayer. Pray that God will continue to provide for those who give sacrificially and to those who seek to be part of what He is doing globally.
. . . for friends in Cedar Rapids who have opened their homes to me in the past year. I stayed at Pat Rieck's for the first half of the year, and at Danette Brooks' home more recently. It is truly a tremendous blessing to have a home away from home here in Iowa.
. . . for health and a good car! I have had some minor issues with my car recently, which made me realize how blessed I am to have a vehicle that generally works well. I do not take my good health for granted, either. I do have health insurance and will continue to have missionary health insurance in Canada. I pray I will not have to use it. ;)

Please pray
. . . that I will make the most of my borrowed time here in Iowa. It's challenging not being able to commit to teaching at the House of Hope or get involved in long-term ministry opportunities. May I continue to bless others in whatever ways God brings before me.
. . . that my work permit/Canada visa will come soon. I'm ready to go do the work I've been preparing to do for the past year.
. . . for a safe drive to Vancouver. It's a 3-day drive. I'll spend the first night somewhere in South Dakota, the next night with a former ORTV colleague in Montana, the next night with ORTV friends in Seattle, and then it's just a 3-hour drive to Vancouver. Crossing the border will delay things, though, since I need to export my car from the USA and import it into Canada.
. . . for a safe border crossing with no glitches regarding exports/imports.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

In the meantime . . . the period of time between now and what's next

I've been thinking much lately about the phrase "in the meantime." This past year has been an in-the-meantime year. When I first moved to Cedar Rapids a year ago, I knew that I'd be moving to Canada within a year. But before I could go where I believed God was calling me, I had to raise support. I got involved in my community in Cedar Rapids, making this a most exciting year. I got to know incredible people, both young and old(er). I fell in love with the Midwest. I shot roots in this part of the world.

In the meantime, I knew I will have to leave. It's inevitable. My American visa will run out soon, plus, I have scholarship obligations which require me to leave the USA. Yet I refused to be tentative in my involvement with life in Cedar Rapids, even though I knew my stay was only temporary.

And now that my time to leave truly has arrived, I am forced to wait once again. The Canadian government is requiring documentation from Canada which was not stipulated on their Web site. I may be here for another week. Or two. Or three. God only knows. In the meantime, I will keep my eyes focused on the goal: pressing onward in Christ, yet living fully in the moment.

I'm leaving soon, but in the meantime, I'm loving my time in Iowa. I'm enjoying plenty of fresh sweet corn. I went to a Kernels baseball game for the first time last night and learned lots about the game Americans love so much. Even just in the past week, I have gotten to know people whom I know I'd be sad to say good-bye to when I leave.

Emotionally, it's challenging at times. I have to prepare to leave, but since my exact departure date is no longer anything I can plan, I have to also continue to enjoy every day here and now.

I'll be heading Westward soon for a 3-day drive to Vancouver where once again I will have to make new friends, shoot roots, find a church, serve Christ in whatever ways he brings across my path. In many ways, I am dreading the transition. I dread saying good-bye. But in the meantime, I am so looking forward to what is lying ahead.

Please do pray for my work permit to arrive soon.
Please pray for a safe drive.
Please pray for me as I have to say good-bye to good friends here.
And please pray that God will bring people into my life in Vancouver who will not only be a friend to me, but who I can encourage and bless.

I still have a significant amount of monthly support outstanding. If you're not already a financial partner and would like to commit to supporting me financially, I would truly appreciate it. Please let me know if you have any questions.

With much love,


Friday, June 17, 2005

Some favorite travel memories

Inhaminga, Mozambique

Summer 2004. Can it really be a year ago? Memories of my time in Mozambique are still fresh in my mind. One of many favorites: cramming 7 girls into the back of a pickup and squeezing the guys into an African-style taxi with 10 others, we drove 6 hours over bumpy roads to Inhaminga (pronounced ya'minga). We passed several trains that lay upside down, blown up during the 20+ year civil war. Everytime we had to stop for a bathroom break, we had to find a place by the side of the road where tractors had plowed. That way, we were assured, we would not accidently set off a landmine.

We stopped by a roadside market and purchased roast goat meat and grilled chicken. And we gulped down bottles of Fanta and Coke, not allowed to take the bottle with us unless we had bottles to trade...

It was late afternoon by the time we arrived in the small village. Everyone from the neighborhood had gathered to welcome us. As we filed out of our vehicles, people were singing and dancing. For many, we were the first white people they had ever seen.

Relationship is key in Africa, and so we did all we could to connect with the people who could not understand us, nor could we understand them. We pulled out jump ropes from our luggage, and as the sun set behind the papaya trees and the African huts, the singing and laughter of children's voices were louder than the sounds of the bugs announcing the end of the day.

Later, as we sat around the fire, I stepped aside to look at the star-filled sky. The milky way was a thick, white line. I could spot many satelites and shooting stars. One of my team members joined me and we prayed, thanking God for his awesome creativity. Then I felt a little hand in mine. Some children had noticed us standing a distance from the fire. As I knelt down and held the child, more joined us. Though they couldn't understand my words, I told them how precious they were.

As I looked up, the children were perfect silhouettes against the African stars. A treasured memory of the little village in the middle of nowhere.