Saturday, December 23, 2006
I saw The Nativity with friends last night. Strangely, I wasn't too excited to go and see it, having read some not-so-good reviews about the movie. However, it was a wonderful movie! I was disappointed that Mary was played with so little feeling, but other than that, I cannot wait to get this movie on DVD and show it to the kids in Kenya! I know they may have questions about the birth scenes, but hey, it might just open the door for their parents to sit down and have a chat about the facts of life. :)
So it's two days till Christmas, and I'm blessed to be with friends to celebrate. I wish I could be in South Africa, with the rest of the family at my parents' home. They've been going to the beach and spending fun times with the grandkids. Some other year I'll be there again for Christmas. God willing.
Danette and I are off to go and buy a few things so we can have friends over for dinner on Christmas Eve. What a blessing to be close to good friends, to be able to go and see movies, hang out, laugh and simply relax.
Friday, December 22, 2006
As I was driving, I had to smile at the things I was appreciating:
- having a variety of great radio stations from which to choose
- driving for two hours without having to ditch a single pothole or slow down for a single speed bump
- drinking my favorite "food drink," Naked Juice!
- listening to the weather forecast for the next few days: possible snow
- paying just $2.27 for a gallon of gas, as opposed to paying $4.65 a gallon in Kenya!
- seeing people driving to see their families, cars packed with gifts
- having a vehicle to use thanks to a family at my church...
- being able to use the Internet to make an appointment at the Genius Bar at the Apple store, and know that when I walk into the store, the guys will be able to answer every question on my list!
- the abundance of life in the US
- not seeing a lot of African people around me...
Tomorrow, I need to head back to the Apple store to see again if we can figure out my outgoing mail configuration. Yes, yes, I know I had said earlier I loved knowing that they'd be able to solve all the issues on my list, but I ran out of time, so I chose to go back tomorrow morning. I'm staying in Des Moines this evening.
For now, I'm going to turn off my computer and read The Heavenly Man, the true story of a Chinese Christian.
It's one of at least six books I'm currently reading, yet another caveat of being in the US: having ready access to great books!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Right now, though, I'm heading to a place where I won't be doing much talking... the dentist's office. Hopefully, there's no work for him to do. Hopefully, I'll just get my teeth cleaned.
Then I'm off to Ely to meet someone from church, after which I'll see if I can get some work e-mails answered.
Tomorrow morning, I'll be heading to Kansas City for a 4-day retreat at the International House of Prayer. IHOP. Not the pancake place. I am looking forward to spending time away from the busy-ness of life in the US and simply focusing on God.
How's my support raising going? Thanks for asking. :) Slowly. Very slowly. I don't like asking for support. I have to remember that I'm inviting people to partnership, inviting them to be involved in what God is doing in Africa. But it's still not easy to ask. It's probably the part of being a missionary that I like the least.
On a different note: I just read another article on Blood Diamond, posted on World Vision's Web site. For my friends who are feeling like they have to hide their diamond rings now, don't worry... "Boycotting diamonds isn't the answer," World Vision says. The diamond mines in South Africa and surroundings provide a livelihood to thousands of people. Read the article to know what you're supposed to do then...
Off to the dentist. Open wide!
Sunday, December 10, 2006
One of many things that has caused me to travel down this road of seeking to know the truth, is seeing Blood Diamond today. It is an excellent movie (even though Leonardo DiCaprio's South African accent isn't consistent throughout the movie... But most non-South Africans will most likely not pick that up or be bothered by the inconsistencies.)
The movie made me feel very much like when I first saw Cry Freedom as an exchange student in New York... It saddened me immensely at that time that the bad guys in the movie spoke lines that possibly no-one but I understood as they were in Afrikaans, my mother tongue. Similarly, I do hope that the old man's line in the movie about oil (see the movie, you'll understand) would sadden Americans.
What does one do with knowledge such as that gained from a movie like Blood Diamond? I can certainly hope that it would affect consumers' behavior when it comes to purchasing the ring of their dreams. And beyond that, I don only hope that people will seek to learn more about child soldiers in other countries such as Uganda.
"If we refuse to embrace the truth," a friend recently said, "we are rejecting Jesus. He said, 'I am the way and the truth and the life.'" (John 14:6)
How can we know the truth and refuse the embrace it, yet say we believe in Jesus? Granted, Jesus wasn't talking about how one South African company controlled the diamond supply of the world and financing wars in order to keep the supply down. But I truly believe that His words do pertain to our social responsibilities, how we shop, what we speak out about.
As for me? Someday, if a man would decide to present me with a ring, I'd not want there to be a diamond in the setting.
I'll get off my soap box now.
Tomorrow is Sunday. I'll be doing a 5-minute presentation in all four church services. How does one summarize a year's experience in 5 minutes? I can but pray that God would speak through me and touch lives with the knowledge of what He is doing in Africa.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Further to yesterday's remodeling post, the house is starting to look like a normal home, bit by bit. Perhaps we'd even be able to get a Christmas tree up this weekend. Perhaps I'd even be able to move into my room again and know where everything is.
I'm blessed to be able to help Danette during this time. I wouldn't want to be doing this job of moving and cleaning on my own! Plus it gives me something totally different to set my mind on... I've been meeting with a fair share of people and avoiding doing regular ELI work for the time being. Soon I'd have to get to it, though.
For now, I'll just appreciate the snow and the fact that I can go to cozy coffee shops and beautiful homes to visit with people about what God is going in Africa and in my life.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
So, today they finally finished the last phase of getting the living room done. In two days' time, we can clean the walls and move back all the living room furniture to its rightful place. At that time, we can also move back all the spare bedroom furniture (and all my stuff that I'm storing at her house) from her room into the upstairs bedroom.
In the meantime, though everything was in place in my room (downstairs, on the main floor), I've since had to move stuff to the office and temporarily move into the basement because for the past two days people have been around putting in half a bathroom (toilet and sink) on the main floor. That means that they broke a wall into my room and into the kitchen. That meant lots and lots more dust!
Today, the plumber is working on putting in the toilet and sink. (More dust from having to drill through to the basement for the pipes.) Tomorrow, the builder will be coming to finish the dry wall. This means that my room is still a bit bare (except for the layer of dust on everything due to the wall being torn out). Once the plumber is done today, I think it would be safe to clean my room and move things back. Putting in the dry wall tomorrow shouldn't cause much dust in my room, I believe...
Next week sometime, we'd have to move all the office furniture to the living room (or to my room) so that the office floor can be done, and also the stairs to the upstairs bedrooms. But then it's all done. We're planning on having a New Year's party here, having good friends over to bring in 2007. It's only 3 weeks till then, eh??
But for now, what I'm looking forward to most today is
1. Getting a car (someone from church is lending me a vehicle, which I'm picking up this afternoon)
2. Getting together with friends for dinner at Panera's
3. SEEING THE LADIES AT TUESDAY NIGHT GROUP! I've really missed our Tuesday-night Bible study ladies. It'll be great to see everyone again!
Monday, December 04, 2006
"Umm. This isn't a Macintosh problem. I simply need the outgoing mail server settings."
"Ma'am... I mean, Adele, you need to call Apple Support."
"No, that's not true. They will tell me to call my Internet Service Provider. Please just give me the information you'd give an Outlook user."
"Oh, you can call Microsoft Support."
"No, this is not a Microsoft problem. I simply need you to give me the smtp server information."
In the meantime, I get cut off, and despite the agent asking if he can call me back on this number should we get cut off, he doesn't call back. I call Qwest a second time, running through the whole story again. This time, the agent simply tells me, "MSN doesn't support pop3 e-mail... Contact your company to get their smtp server address."
ARGH! Oh, I love good customer service... At least I can access my e-mail the roundabout way, through webmail, but it's slower than doing it directly in Mac Mail. Oh, well.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Sitting on the Heathrow Express, I cannot help but smile. I feel like a fish out of water, yet it feels like I’m in Hong Kong. It feels familiar. Comfortable.
“At Paddington, catch the yellow line to South Kensington,” my friend had written. The Subway map shows familiar names: Piccadilly Circus. Wimbledon.
At S. Ken, the subway walkway she had suggested me to take is closed, so I walk out on the street, trying to find my bearings. It can’t be too tough, I think. Except roads seem to be winding in this city. But every street corner is clearly marked, and it takes me but seconds to figure out where I am and where I need to be going.
An old London taxi and a red, double-decker bus round the corner simultaneously. I smile. I’m in London.
The Victoria and Albert Museum towers majestically against the blue sky. Somehow, all the buildings on this street looks like they’ve just had a fresh coat of paint....
Heading eastward on Brompton, I walk past several high-end kitchen and bathroom stores. One sink is several times my neighbor’s annual salary. I keep wondering what it would be like walking along these roads with some of our kids, if someday, perhaps, Hillary or Alex will walk around London, if Josh will run a race in this city, if Scopia will come to London for work...
I pass book stores, wishing they were already open so I can spend time paging through beautiful books. Instead, I keep walking. Slowly. Decisively. I’m meeting a friend for breakfast today, something I’ve missed doing far too many weekends this year.
Sitting in a trendy London patisserie, enjoying the best latte I’ve had in months, I watch traffic going by. Red busses. Proper British gentlemen. Ladies in hats. Waiters in crisp black and white uniforms. Stern people with funny accents. Not that the Brits sound funny to me.
I listen to worship music on my iPod. “Hallelujah to the King!” The King. My travel companion. My life companion.
Tonight, we're supposed to have snow. I'm not planning on going anywhere tomorrow, other than to a friend's house for dinner. I'll take pictures if we actually do get snow.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
I miss the kids, for sure.
I miss my simple home and simple pleasures. Life in the "civilized world" can be overwhelming, especially around Christmas. While doing laundry this morning, I was listening to a discussion on Christian radio. They were talking about getting rid of clutter. "What do you do with all those gifts?" They talked about buying storage containers, or giving gifts of outings with loved ones. No-one really thought kids would be excited about going out with someone. "They want those toys, even though it just ends up in a corner..." I was saddened by the shallowness of the discussion.
I miss the people.
But right now, I am thankful to be in Iowa. Overwhelmed by the excess of this culture, but very, very thankful to be home in Iowa for a while.
I arrived in Iowa last night. It's cold here, colder than I'm used to nowadays... This afternoon, I heard a gentle tapping against my bedroom windows, only to discover tiny icicles falling from the sky. It was sleeting, and I was thankful not to be driving in this weather. The sleet and rain is supposed to turn to snow tonight, and we're supposed to wake up to some snow on the ground in the morning.
The past two weeks, while on vacation, I experienced the most wonderful weather. Even high in the mountains, it was warm enough to take off my jacket! I met wonderful people, reconnected with dear friends, took many pictures, rarely touched a computer. I had good meals, some rest, and plenty of time to get away from everything that keeps my mind occupied.
Tomorrow, I shall once again work at cleaning out my work e-mails. And then I can start meeting with supporters and friends here in Iowa. Someone graciously offered me the use of a vehicle while I'm in Iowa. I do not yet know details, but am thankful that I'd be mobile. Won't be driving in really bad weather... I'd take driving in the mud over driving on icy roads any day!
For now, I'm off to bed. It's been a long day of doing laundry and moving things about the house. Danette's floors were redone while we were gone, so the furniture had to be moved back and other rooms had to be cleared for the next phase of the flooring.
I'm tired, but I'm thankful for a warm house, for warm clothes, for variety, for good food and wonderful friends.
I need to go and sleep. Everyone else in this house is asleep: Danette, Ellie (her dog) as well as Isaac and Gracie (the kittens). It's time for me to go crawl into my comfy bed.
See you in Dreamland?
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
i like kit kats
tonight, on a long, cold walk, i found a dark chocolate kit kat
and hot chocolate so thick you knew you were drinking chocolate
i rode on a water bus
the cold wind on my face
i so know God loves me
he shows me in the simple things
Friday, November 17, 2006
God is teaching me more about who I am than I care to know right now.
I am jetlagged. Tired. Stripped of myself. Yet strangely excited about what is ahead.
God keeps telling me "Less of you. More of me. Hang in there. It's going to be a tough ride, but a good end. Let go..."
Letting go is hard, especially when you are as stubborn as I am.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
- Driving on the right side of the road
- Toilet seat covers at public rest rooms
- Turning on a tap and getting hot water, just like that :)
- Being able to choose from a great variety of places to eat
- Looking like the people around me
- Having many friends around
- Having no cell phone!
- Lots of really big cars around (I keep thinking, wow, how would those cars handle in Kenya!)
- Great roads!
- Variety (Thai food, Chinese food, fast food, lots of food!)
- Self-service gas stations
- Cheap gas (seriously! In Kenya, gas is almost $5/gallon)
- Seeing (and smelling) the ocean
- Being in small cars (as opposed to my Land Rover)
- Hearing mostly English around me
- Hearing traffic at night
This morning, we went for a long walk on the beach. There were many people out there despite the fact that it was soon after 6 a.m., lots of surfers, cyclists, walkers and runners. We didn't have our tennis shoes on, so we were the strollers. No fast-paced walking for us today! We simply enjoyed the beach and catching up...
We explored more of the area after breakfast, and then hit to road inland to come and see Don and Amy Rogers, ELI's founders/US Directors. It's funny to see Amy in pants, since I've only known her in Kenya, where we where skirts all the time. In fact, I hardly recognized her yesterday when she walked into the auditorium before The Talk.
It's surreal to be in Don and Amy's home. Good, of course. Just surreal. Just as surreal as seeing other people whom I've only known in Kenya, like interns and teams.
Other highlights from this week in LA:
- Connecting with a group of friends at a dinner at the Clark household on Tuesday (I used to live with the Clark family while at APU)
- Relaxing in between running around and getting things ready for Friday's talk
- Being on a panel on campus on Thursday evening after the showing of Amandla! on campus. The other person on the panel was Sherry Simpson Dean, executive producer of the movie. What an incredible honor to connect with her.
- Talking with individuals after the talk on Friday and praying with them regarding next steps in responding to God's call.
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
Blogged with Flock
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Yesterday, I was set for a long, productive day of writing newsletters. But the morning had barely started when the power went out. Called good ol' Kenya Power.
"It will be back in 3 hours," the clerk assured me.
So I packed everything and headed to town to work there. But as I got to the Internet cafe in town, I noticed the mall (wow, that sounds like such a fancy place, should rather say the little center) was dark.
"Do you have power?" I asked a clerk.
"No, we have no power," he replied, seemingly not fazed by the inconvenience.
I called Kenya Power again. "In town, power will be back at 1."
So I proceeded to run all the errands I needed to run, somewhat frustrated by the fact the power would be back earlier in the village, but I now had a plethora of people depending on me for rides, so I had to hang around for a while.
Sometime in the afternoon, power did indeed come back on and I was able to get some work done. It was around 5 when I finally headed home, eager to get comfy at my desk and keep working.
But alas, power was not yet back at Ilula.
Call Kenya Power again.
"It will be back at 6, maybe 6:30."
By 7:00, I made another call.
"We need about another 2 hours," they assured me.
By 9:30, I headed to bed. Still no power. I was starting to get concerned about the food in my freezer since I have a team coming this week and had stocked up groceries, having to cook for them myself.
Sometime later, the power came back with a bang. My printer started churning. The kettle started boiling. All my lights were on. And I was thankful, though by that time, I was too tired to turn on my computer and work.
What blows my mind is how my Kenyan friends don't seem to be frustrated by the power outages. It's just a part of life. Maybe someday I'll take them in stride, too. It's just not convenient when you have at least 9 hours of computer work planned and end up getting only 2 hours' work done!
One good thing that did happen yesterday was that I had an opportunity to give my little neighbor Fortune a ride home. Fortune and his brother Maxwell live down the road from our base. They usually run to the road and wave when I drive by, but when I stop to greet them, they run away. They never come to VBS, and I've never seen them go to church on Sundays. I've been praying for an opportunity to get to know their family.
As I headed home yesterday, Fortune was walking home from school, a 2-mile walk from one of the local elementary schools. I stopped and invited him to hop in. He was grinning from ear to ear, yet sitting very properly and very politely, looking like a little dwarf in the huge back seat of the Land Rover.
When I stopped by their home, bare-butted little Maxwell ran around shouting that the mzungu brought his brother home! At least, now they know my name. And Fortune knows I don't bite. He might actually stop and visit next time I drive by...
A colleague dropped me off at the airport this morning. I had to fly to Nairobi to meet an optometry team from Iowa. Soon after arriving in the city, I got a call.
"Adele, there's a problem. On the way back from the airport..." Seriously, I thought the guy was going to say he had an accident. But then he explained about black smoke coming from the engine, and that there had been a short in the starter, and that it burned out, that you cannot find it in Eldoret...
All these thoughts went through my head:
- This is nothing he did/didn't do that caused it. It could've happened to me.
- I'm glad it wasn't an accident. It's something replaceable.
- I wonder how much this will cost.
- I'm glad it didn't happen on the way TO the airport, else I could've missed my plane.
- Where on earth do you buy a new starter?
- I'm glad I'm in Nairobi where you can actually find Land Rover parts!
- I'm glad I have a ministry account that has money in it for events like these.
Within 30 minutes (and $350 later) I had a brand new starter plus heater plugs for my engine, which is probably part of the reason for the short, since the plugs were shot, causing a hard start. So hopefully this can be fixed on Monday so I can drive the team to Kipkaren on Wednesday to do some eye exams there.
So now? I'm at Mayfield in Nairobi, ready to get working on the stuff I was supposed to do yesterday. And then pick up the visitors at the airport this evening.
Which means I'd better get working...
Blogged with Flock
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Fred (the training center manager) gave me three guys to help, and the four of us worked together SO WELL. They're the best. William, Moi and Kenei had everything unpacked by the time I got there yesterday, and they had killed 3 rats.. (What I didn't know is that they put the rats in a little bag that ended up between the stuff I was cleaning, so the next moment, I picked up the little bag and said, "What's this?" just as I lifted the bottom of the bag w/ my left hand and felt something soft... They all said, "Don't! It's the rats!" and I threw the bag!
Anyway, after a solid 12 hours of cleaning, sorting, hanging, sweeping and throwing out, the storage area looks great! (William is in the picture.) By the end of it all, my back hurt and I was dirty, having cleaned out so many action packers full of rat poop. (OK, that's exaggerating. There was rat poop in a lot of the packers which I had to sort through.) I was desperate for a hot shower, but I was in Kipkaren, so dream on! There was a big event in the evening, so none of the fires were available to boil water. So I took a cold shower. Even washed my hair. Brrrr!
First thing this morning, I asked Fred to have the scaffolding put up so I could paint the big logo outside the training center. Putting up scaffolding here is no small task. They have to dig holes for the poles, then literally build scaffolding from logs and planks. By 11:00, the scaffolding was ready. But the sun was shining directly onto the wall on which I was to paint, so I proceeded with painting to logo in the children's home office. I finished at the children's home by 3, then went to set up everything at the training center.
I had to have something high to put the computer and projector on, so my car doubled as a desk. I started painting at 4 and was done around 5:30. Then cleaned up, had a quick bite to eat at David's home and hit the road by 6:30.
Visit my Flickr page to see pictures of me balancing on the scaffolding as well as of the final product.
I really don't like driving at night. Pedestrians blend in with the night, and there are many, many pedestrians in Kenya. Cyclists aren't visible till you're just yards behind them. And matatus often don't dim their headlights. But I didn't want to spend another night at Kipkaren.
I love being at Kipkaren. I love the people. I love the fact that the stars there are 10 times brighter than out here because they don't have electricity yet. I love that you wake up to the sound of the river and weaver birds.
But knew that if I only left in the morning, I'd be home by around 10 at the earliest, and I really, really need to be home early. LOTS needs to get done tomorrow. I'd better get to bed so I'm refreshed in the morning, ready to work hard.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Living, working and playing in the same small compound can get confining at times. So when Raymond and Sarah recently told me they love to go away to spend time with God, I promptly invited them to Kakamega Forest.
And when colleague Phoebe from Kipkaren asked to visit this weekend, I told her we'd be going to the forest for the day, and she was game. But then Raymond and Sarah had to cancel at the last moment due to a funeral. And so I invited Kiki (an intern) and John (staff kid) to join Phoebe and I for the journey.
Though both Phoebe and John are from this area, they've never been to the forest, and they had a blast!
Click on the picture to see a few more shots of our outing. This picture, by the way, was taken by Kiki. She asked to play with my camera, and I had no idea she took a shot of me, reading.
Typically, when I go to the forest, I go to Rondo, a Christian retreat center. I usually go hiking in the forest and have decided I'm definitely hiring a guide next time and doing one of the longer hikes in order to see some of the shyer bird species which are deeper in the forest. (Leopards and hyena also live in this forest, but somehow I believe they're further to the south, far from any of the human activity since I've never seen any warning signs in the part of the forest where I've hiked...)
After hiking, I usually have lunch at the center, then spend time reading, journaling, worshiping or simply listening. There are immaculate gardens, including little benches right at the forest edge, and a small chapel.
I usually order tea and then watch the rain come in. In this part of the country, it rains almost every single afternoon.
I speak as if I do this every few weeks, but I've only been to the forest a few times, and this is the routine I most enjoy. And it's definitely one of my very favorite places to break away to.
The road to the forest, however, is not a very good road; there are long stretches with terrible potholes. Yesterday, I paid "toll fees" to three different groups of people who were voluntarily filling in the potholes. One such "toll station" was on the road that was leading right into the forest. The guys had actually placed rocks in the road to make traffic stop. They were filling in deep ditches with huge rocks, and I had no qualm with paying them for the work they were doing. I just know that I'd feel very uncomfortable coming upon a blocked road if I were alone in the car... And that's why I don't go to the forest every weekend. Because I need to take people with me. And because it's such a special place to me (and a 2-hour drive), I don't want to take just anyone. Selfish? Maybe. Smart? I'd like to think so. It's part of my self-care routine.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Dennis soon found a spot on my lap and slipped his little hand in mine. Some of the other youngest ones looked at us with jealousy. It's hard to know exactly deal with that, sometimes. I do know, though, that it won't keep me from lavishly loving kids that do come to crawl onto my lap.
I love it when the kids enjoy movies. I love watching their little faces. I love seeing how they get lost in a world outside of their reality.
It's sometimes frustrating planning weekends around showing the kids a movie, quite honestly. But every time I do it, I am blessed.
"Show us pictures of Kipkaren, Adele," they ask after the movie. The home in Kipkaren is now full. There are 92 orphans and space for one biological child for each family. Ninety two lives are currently being transformed as kids learn about the Father Heart of God, about a God that lavishly loves them despite the hardships they have faced this far.
After the movie and picture time, kids swarm around, wanting to help me carry the cables, speakers etc. back to my home. I think they simply like being able to know they are helping, and they love the individual attention.
Before everyone runs off to devotions, stocky little Matasio slips his hand around my waist and gives me a larger-than-life hug. Then Evans slips a note into my hand and runs off. Later, my eyes well up with tears as I read his carefully-written note: "Dear Adele. God bless you. Thank you Adele for showing us movie and reading us stories for bedtime and giving us even sweets at time for movies. Yours faithfully, Evans Kiprono."
Obed lingers longer than the others. This curious little mind wants to explore. "Adele, where is the Barra Barra?" he asks without fail... This kid has some learning challenges, and I have a soft spot for him and his gentle demeanor.
"He's inside, on his plant, Obed. But you can visit him another time. You have to go to devotions." Obed simply smiles as he walks off slowly.
Oh, how I wish some days that I could spend more time visiting with the kids individually and get to know each one of them. But that's not possible. It's the little things we do, though, the little interactions, that do make a world's difference in each of the kids' lives. Or so I hope, at least.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
So I got up, took a longer-than-usual shower, and decided to get dressed nicely and put on make-up for a change. Seriously! When you're living in what sometimes feels like an igloo (when I don't go outside but just stay hidden indoors to work), it makes no sense to dress nicely and look presentable. But I know that whenever I just lounge around in sweats and a T-shirt all day, I feel just like I look... Decided that today won't be such a day. Got ready to work. Searched everywhere for Barra Barra (he had climbed up on my curtains from his plant and I found him on the curtain rod!), made breakfast, and had a wonderful date with Jesus.
Got a good amount of work done, including going over to the Children's Home to take photos for the New Covenant team of a paint project they'll be working on. Stopped by Nelson and Dorcas' home for a short visit and was blessed by their hearts. Came back for more work, and then needed to head to town to buy groceries. (Having instant noodles for dinner doesn't work for me! I like cooking, even though I cook for just one most of the time.)
As I was heading out, the kids were going back to school after their lunch break. Raymond desperately wanted to hold onto my car, standing on the little step by my door, but there's no way I'd drive like that. So I said, "You want to hop in?" No sooner had I said that, or there were at least 15 children in my car! It was the BIGGEST THRILL to them to be driven to school--all of 100 yards! You could see how proud they were to be dropped off at the gate! Most of the kids had never ridden in my car, so they just loved it! They were giggling the entire way! (On a side note, I think the young boys think I'm cool because the Band-Aid on my hand is of The Incredibles. Not that they know The Incredibles, but hey, anyone who wears superhero Band-Aids has to be cool! Or so it seems, at least, judging from their inquisitive smiles.)
I drove to town with a smile on my face, having been blessed by the kids' exuberance. (And blown away by the strange traffic along the way. I don't know what they'rd called, but there were at least 7 of these big farming truck thingamajigs were on the road. Nope, there were no accompanying vehicles. No danger signs. No red flags. You just look up and BAM! there's this huge thing that takes up the entire road, and you have to literally drive off the road to get by.)
In town, I ran all my errands and was truly blessed by the littlest things, like my conversation with Josh, the vegetable vendor on the street market, by comments from the clerk in the stationary store, the friendliness of the baker's son, the pride of one of our staff in a publication he had put together, the smile of the Post Office clerk.
Ah, the Post Office. Posta Kenya, it's called. It's one of many not-too-well-run government agencies, if you ask me. They have signs up about how important the customer is, but somehow, the clerks usually seem as excited about life and their jobs as DMV staff, despite the praise and worship music that plays on their PA system! You'd arrive at the packages counter, for example, at 2 p.m. on a Friday. The sign says, "Office Hours: 8-5" but no-one's there. You ask at the next counter to be told "Sorry, she already left. Come back tomorrow." Anyway, I try to be friendly to the Posta staff, because, well, simply because I'm supposed to be. Even when they're not.
I headed over to the Packages counter in a little side room. No-one there. Went to the EMS desk (like FedEx) next door to enquire if anyone's around.
"Just wait," the lady said, not bothering to call someone.
When the clerk showed up, she had a big smile on her face. "Habari! I haven't seen you in a long time!" She started frantically searching for my package, looking in every book they have for where it might be filed... "Are you sure you have not picked this one?" she asked. (Kenyans say pick, not pick up.)
"I'm sure," I responded with a smile. In fact, I wasn't annoyed. In my mind, I was wondering if the Posta would want to hire me to figure out a good system for them to file stuff! Weird, I know. But I like figuring out systems... And no, I'm not really planning on consulting for them.
After at least 20 minutes, they found my package. "Does she not have to pay?" one clerk asked. (You sometimes get charged import tax on packages. This far, I've never had to pay tax on a package!)
"No. She doesn't."
They hadn't even opened the box. In it, my friend Nina had sent me no fewer than 20 new DVDs! (Most of them movies for the kids. Some, fun movies for me to watch, sans kids.) And lots of fun treats from Taiwan. And great sermon CDs. Not that they'd charge me for the funny treats, (especially not the dried fish), nor probably for the sermons. But the DVDs? You bet they would've charged me. But not today. Yeah God.
But the day didn't end there. As I was driving home, munching away on the dried fish snacks (which, by the way, tastes like fishy paper, but I like it nevertheless. It's an Asian treat. I don't like the actual little dried fishies with their eyes staring at you. But fish jerky? You bet!) I marveled at God's goodness. I stopped by our neighboring rose farm and once again was blessed by the staff's friendliness. "Adele!" they said as I walked in. "Karibu!" (Welcome!) And then... "Someday, maybe you can pay for me to go overseas, yes?" Yeah. Riiiiiight.
As I got home, Mary Kay called from Cedar Rapids. Just to say hi and to talk about the 4th graders "adopting" me as their missionary this year. Had a blast visiting with her.
And now? I'm waiting for kuku (chicken) to thaw to make chicken soup. (I might have to make something else tonight. The kuku seems far from thawed! In fact, I'll just invite some guests for some chicken soup tomorrow night. It'll most likely be raining then, too. The rainy season's officially over, but in real life, it's far from over.) I'm heading out to drop off some roses for friends on our compound, though the rain is causing me to consider going out later. (Later: I went right away in any case, not thinking to put on my gumboots. Not good. Heavy rain + muddy compound = my sneakers need to be washed. Again.) And then? Then my real work day can begin... In fact, it's almost 8 p.m. There are about another 5 working hours left in this day! Though, tonight, I'm kinda tempted to just pop in one of the DVDs Nina's sent me. Want to join me? While I wait for you, I'll get comfy and put on some sweats. And listen to the pounding rain...
Disclaimer: Just in case you read this wondering if I really don't work during the day... I do! In fact, some of my Kenyan colleagues are concerned about how little I leave my home office during the day most days! But as you can see, a simple task as "Run to town. Buy eight wall tiles, bread, soup ingredients, and flowers" typically turns into a 3-hour excursion. Life takes time out here. As they say, There's no hurry in Africa. Most days, that mentality can drive me up the walls. Today, however, I was able to simply enjoy the people God brought across my path! In the process, it turned out to be a fun, fun day.
Psalm 63 (The Message)
A David Psalm, When He Was out in the Judean Wilderness
1 God—you're my God! I can't get enough of you!
I've worked up such hunger and thirst for God,
traveling across dry and weary deserts.
2-4 So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open,
drinking in your strength and glory.
In your generous love I am really living at last!
My lips brim praises like fountains.
I bless you every time I take a breath;
My arms wave like banners of praise to you.
5-8 I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;
I smack my lips. It's time to shout praises!
If I'm sleepless at midnight,
I spend the hours in grateful reflection.
Because you've always stood up for me,
I'm free to run and play.
I hold on to you for dear life,
and you hold me steady as a post.
9-11 Those who are out to get me are marked for doom,
marked for death, bound for hell.
They'll die violent deaths;
jackals will tear them limb from limb.
But the king is glad in God;
his true friends spread the joy,
While small-minded gossips
are gagged for good.
Psalm 65 (The Message)
A David Psalm
1-2 Silence is praise to you, Zion-dwelling God,
And also obedience.
You hear the prayer in it all.
2-8 We all arrive at your doorstep sooner
or later, loaded with guilt,
Our sins too much for us—
but you get rid of them once and for all.
Blessed are the chosen! Blessed the guest
at home in your place!
We expect our fill of good things
in your house, your heavenly manse.
All your salvation wonders
are on display in your trophy room.
Muzzler of sea storm and wave crash,
of mobs in noisy riot—
Far and wide they'll come to a stop,
they'll stare in awe, in wonder.
Dawn and dusk take turns
calling, "Come and worship."
9-13 Oh, visit the earth,
ask her to join the dance!
Deck her out in spring showers,
fill the God-River with living water.
Paint the wheat fields golden.
Creation was made for this!
Drench the plowed fields,
soak the dirt clods
With rainfall as harrow and rake
bring her to blossom and fruit.
Snow-crown the peaks with splendor,
scatter rose petals down your paths,
All through the wild meadows, rose petals.
Set the hills to dancing,
Dress the canyon walls with live sheep,
a drape of flax across the valleys.
Let them shout, and shout, and shout!
Oh, oh, let them sing!
I am such a night owl. I think in the past 4 hours, I've gotten more done than during the daytime hours. With the evening comes focus. For me, at least. (It might also have a lot to do with zero interruptions at night!)
Best thing that happened today . . . (there were many, but this one is one I've been wanting to have happen for a while now, so I almost feel like I should do a little dance to rejoice). My kitchen tap got replaced. Though I technically have a hot water and a cold water tap, I don't have hot water in my kitchen. I have to boil water to do dishes. But that's beside the point. My cold water tap stopped working about 3 months ago. And about a month ago, the hot water tap died, too. The only way I could turn the water on and off was by force (or with a screw driver!) It's been a pet peeve of mine, but since we've been having teams, the fundi wasn't able to turn off the water supply to install my new tap. Until today... he did it. He chiseled out a chunk of my wall to get to the pipes and replaced the taps. Tomorrow, I have to go and buy some tiles to cover up the cement.
Other great thing about September 20 is that it's my little sister's birthday. She's not really little, though. She's already 35. Until I was in 11th grade, we shared a room and have always gotten on really well. People often thought we were twins! Now, they usually think I'm her younger sister... NOT because I look younger. Just because I'm about a head shorter, and probably because she has 2 kids.
Anyway, happy birthday (again), Liesl. Know that I love you immensely--and not just because you're my sister. I would pick you as a friend any day!
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
This morning, when I picked up Barra Barra to take him out to feed him, he looked sick. All over his little body, his skin seemed white. And no, he never turns white. Yellow. Black. Striped. Spotted. Brown. Never white. Upon closer inspection, I realized he's shedding his skin.
As I placed him back on his little plant by my desk, he started puffing up his body as big as he could and stretched his little neck as far as he could. It really looked odd. What he was doing was loosening the skin! A few hours later, his old skin lay on the ground beside the plant. He had a brand new skin, a fresh green skin! But in the hard-to-reach places, in the folds under his chin, around his tail which he simply can't puff up, the old skin remains for now.
It made me wonder about how we shed our skin, how we can allow God to remove the old and replace it with the new. Sometimes, though, despite all our effort, some of the old skin remains. Some old habits remain. They take time to shed as we continue to exercise and stretch ourselves...
As we look in the mirror of God's Word, may we be quick to see the areas where we're still needing to do more stretching. And that, truly, is a lifelong process.
Monday, September 18, 2006
I tried to imagine what was going through his head. "Who are all these people? Why did they take me from my grandma? Why is a mzungu holding me? I'm not supposed to cry, am I?"
I, too, fought back the tears and asked who his new parents were. "The Matekwas," Noella answered. "But they went to take their other children to their home. I will take him..." and she took the warm little body from my arms.
"Jesus," I prayed, "Help little Rooney to see You tonight, to know that you are right here with him."
It's a challenging journey ahead for Rooney and the 16 others who arrived in the past couple of days, joining their new families at Kipkaren Children's Home. Over chai earlier this morning, I asked the Matekwas what the greatest challenges have been as their family grew from three to 20 in just a few days.
"For one, it is difficult because right now, we have to do everything for these children," Ziporah replied. "And we are trying to understand each child's character, which is also hard."
"You know," Peter explained. "Yesterday, I had made all the beds so nicely for them. I explained to them how to sleep in a bed. But when I went to check on them at 4 a.m., most of the boys were huddled up at the foot-end of their beds, covering themselves with only their towels. They were not even sleeping on the pillows."
We take for granted that kids simply know how to sleep in a bed. But most of these orphans, when they arrive at our homes, have never slept in a bed, nor have they ever slept alone.
As I left Kipkaren, I was hoping that little Rooney wouldn't have to sleep alone tonight. I know the Matekwas will make a bed for him in their house for his first night so they can bond and keep an eye on him. But tomorrow? And the day after? Suddenly, he has to be bravel
Will you please join me and pray for this little chap and his new siblings as they adjust to life in the home?