Monday, February 27, 2006

Do not try this at home.

I often chuckle at the mud guards on bicycles in Kenya, or the signs in the back of taxi windows. One boda-boda (bicycle taxi) I often pass has a mud guard that reads, "Power is nothing without control."

I'm starting to consider a sign to be put up by our light switches about power... We hadn't had power rationings in about two weeks, but then yesterday the power went out and stayed out till this evening. Half of our compound had power, the other half not. When I called Kenya Power again this morning when I woke up (they had promised they'd be out to check on the problem yesterday), the person on duty had no record of our power being out. "We'll send someone right away!" he assured me.

Eleven hours and several phone calls later, still no Kenya Power.

But before we knew they'd show up for sure, Don connected four long extension cords from the Children's Home office to my house so we could fire up the satellite connection. Here, the power supply is 220V. Our extension cords are 110, so fortunately he connected a step-down transformer to bring the power down to 110V. I say fortunately, because after I had plugged in all the equipment and hit the power button, I picked up the power strip to move it. I had bare feet on the cement floor. The power strip was metal. And one of the four extension cords must have been frayed, because the next moment I was dancing mid-air!

There was power, all right! But it was out of control!

For a brief moment, I think I ran around like a chicken without a head until I found a plank and turned off the power. And then Raymond (the electrician) called: He had gone to town to go and escort the guys from Kenya Power to come and investigate what the problem was. All they had to do was replace a fuse. (Not a small one. A big fuse in the power line.)

Soon after that, we had another blackout, but I called Kenya Power right away and they told me, "Don't worry. It will be back on soon." Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when the power did in fact come back on about 15 minutes later.

Mama Chiri smiled at me when she stopped by while the power was out. She knows by now that it's a bit of a hassle to us wazungu when there's no power to run our refridgerators. Every time we have a long power outage like this, her family becomes the lucky winners of all the meat in my freezer. (Not that I keep a lot, but with the journey to town being like it is, I try to buy groceries for at least a week.) My mzungu system won't stomach meet that's not been refridgerated for a day. Their Kenyan stomachs are totally used to it! No regular butchery even owns a fridge! Only the supermarkets that cater to Indians and wazungu keep their meet cold or frozen.

When you walk and open your fridge today, thank God for consistent power that keeps things nice and cool!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sunday newspaper clip

Today, I went to town to visit one of the churches. There was a visiting pastor, so I'll drop by again another Sunday. I enjoyed the worship but due to the visiting pastor taking a lot of time, things were rushed when we had to evacuate church for the next service, and I didn't get to meet people.

Anyway, I bought a paper on my way home, and this short article caught my eye:

Educate Maasai on HIV/AIDS

The Maasai need to be enlightened about HIV/AIDS. Some Maasai cultural practices are themselves a means of spreading HIV/AIDS. In the Maasai culture, it is a taboo for a man to marry a virgin. She is considered a child and cannot be married by a responsible man. Mothers are known to chase away their daughters, aged between nine and eleven, to spend time with warriors in the evening. Young men and women have no say in marriage because their parents plan it for them. Always, the newlywed keep allegiance to their childhood lovers. This causes married couples to be unfaithful. An aggressive, persistent HIV/AIDS awareness campaign should be conducted via radio, in the Maa language.


Yikes. The power just went out again! We had a blackout for close to 48 hours, and here we go again... I'd better send this while my battery backup lasts!


I’m typing by the light of a hurricane lamp. I went to town today to buy the lamp as well as a canister of kerosene. Our power went out sometime in the night and has not come back on all day. I’ve called Kenya Power a few times and they keep telling me, “We’re coming.” It’s now almost 8 p.m. (9pm: I'm able to send this due to Don having to send urgent messages. We cranked up the generator, connected everything to it via a step-up transformer and very long extension cords and voila! we're briefly connected to the outside world again.)

I went rock hunting today… On yesterday’s entry I wrote about the piece of land at the end of our road where people are digging out rocks. The entire piece of land seems to be rock, so the owners have someone who chops up the rock by hand, and they sell it by truckloads.

Turns out that I’ve given the lady who owns the land a ride one day on my way home, so when we (two Kenyan guys and I) pulled up to their house to ask if we may “acquire” 15 or so rocks, she said, “Go ahead. Take as many as you’d like.” She seemed to be heading out, so I offered to take her to the main road. A 3-km ride in exchange for all the rocks for my rock garden. Not bad.

We ended up taking just 7 big rocks for the time being. On Monday, John (an 18-year-old Kenyan and recent high school graduate, son of the children’s home directors—he helps me with my garden) will be mixing some compost and soil and fill in the gaps between the rocks, then plant the hardy plants I got for the rock garden. I’ll take photos and post them as soon as it’s done. We should have power by then, I’d hope!

The kids watched “Lord of the Beans” today—a VeggieTale movie. They didn’t enjoy it as much as they enjoyed Nemo, but I honestly don’t think any movie from here on forward will ever be as impactful as Nemo was for them! (If you haven’t yet, read the entry called, “Will Baba Nemo find Nemo?”)

There was also a “Church Empowerment” training today, and I sat in on a part of that. These trainings are for churches in the area. They come for a whole day, starting with devotions and worship, and then they’re taught various components of agriculture and invited to come for 3-day trainings. As I was listening to the evaluations, one man said, “Our land is much greener than yours. We have had more rain than yours. So when we arrived, I thought, ‘What would I learn here today? These people’s grass isn’t even green.’ But as you talked about the vegetable gardens and showed us how to used natural fertilizers, I realized that though we use chemicals, your gardens look much better than ours! I will go home and use what God has already given me—cow manure for fertilizer and cow ash for insecticides.”

In fact, some of that cow ash (burnt cow dung) and cow manure will be worked into my garden next week. I discovered a spot with lots of ants, and asked Josiah, one of the ELI gardeners if I should get some poison for the ants. Josiah is a brilliant guy, BTW. He just smiled and said, “No, we’ll just plant onions.” I’m learning a lot about organic gardening!

And there was the celebration of a construction worker who came to faith in Christ while working on building the children’s home. He’s been a believer and has been sober for 2 years this week, so he wanted to come back and share what God has been doing in his life.

I continue to be amazed at how God is using this ministry to change people’s lives. Whether some come to do construction or to learn agricultural skills, God seems to use these felt needs to then address the spiritual needs in their lives.

What an honor to be a part of this!

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
Winsam's a shy 6-year-old. She talks little, but wait till you watch her drum out a rhythm when the kids sing! She has incredible natural talent.

When Don got back from Sudan earlier this week, the kids gathered to listen to stories (or eat news, as they say). They broke out in worship songs as Don wrapped up, and gave thanks to God for what He has done.

When they learned that ELI started a school in Kolmarek, Sudan, and that there are now 170 children who had never had a chance to go to school before, the kids cheered! It's amazing what excites them...

How does a letter get to America so fast, Adele?

The Rotich boys always have soooo many questions. I went over to their dorm (and the neighboring Ruto boys and girls) to read them a bedtime story tonight, but before I could leave their room, they bombarded me with questions.

I had explained to them that now, with the satellite dish, if I send a letter to someone on my computer, it gets to them in less than one minute. They must have been wondering about this, hence the questions tonight.

I explained to them again about satellites in the sky. From here, when you look carefully, you can usually spot one or two satellites among the stars. They simply look like stars that are moving slowly. I explained to the boys how my computer talks to the dish, the dish sends a signal to the satellite, the satellite then sends a signal to a dish in America, and the dish talks to whoever's computer I'm sending the letter to. All in less than a minute.

"When I'm big, do you think I can go to America?" one boy asked. He's about 11, and I learned this week that both of his parents were good runners. (They both died of AIDS.) His one uncle still runs for Kenya. I explained to him that he should practice hard so he, too can be a good runner (he's very athletic), and he has to study hard. Perhaps, someday, he could get a scholarship to go to America.

"What's a scholarship, Adele?" And so it went on and on, with me having to explain different degrees to the kids. "Adele, what's a cucumber? And a badger? How does a computer work? Adele, Raymond snores at night." I love their curiosity. I just don't always have the answers to some of their questions. "What movie will we see tomorrow, Adele? Nemo was SO good!" "Benson is falling asleep, Adele. He had a lot of homework. I've already finished my homework." So it goes on until I finally excuse myself and say good-night for the umpteenth time.

"When will you be in your new house, Adele?" their mom asks on my way to the next room. "We'd really like to start the women's Bible study." I assure her that I'll move in about a week (once I'm sure that the floor paint is TOTALLY dry!), and then we can get together to decide how we want to do this.

I love living among these people and sharing Christ with them in simple ways. I love learning from them, too, knowing that in many areas, they are far smarter than I.

Tomorrow, I will try to get some major admin work done, and then I have to head over to a celebration. One of the construction workers who helped build our Children's Home got saved while working on the project. He quit his drinking habit, and tomorrow, he wants to celebrate two years of being sober and saved. What a neat celebration.

After that, it's movie time with the kids. Not sure yet what we'll see, but regardless, I know the kids will love it! What's not to like about Saturday afternoon movies?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday morning

As I walked to my house from the office where I had been working till late, a soft rain was falling. Crickets were singing and it was as if the earth was singing hallelujahs.

I am not exaggerating. Having an intense drought currently, there's nothing like a soft, penetrating rain shower. In South Africa there's a special term for such rain. It's called kiza. I bet there's a special Kalinjin or Swahili word for it, too. I'll find out.

I need to head to town today to buy milk.

Seriously, some days I smile at the journey to get something simple such as milk.
The first 3 kilometers (about a mile and a half) is the challenging part with deep ruts in the gravel road and in some places, large rocks. To get to town, you drive north, past the school, past Mama Chiri's shamba, past Ben's hut (a Kenyan runner who competes internationally), past a gate and a hut where the kids run and wave every single time you drive by (I think it's their daily entertainment), past a big house owned by a Kenyan who works for a big NGO, until you reach the end of the road where a footpath trickles off to the east (along this road lives several of the older ladies from our church) and there's a small road heading further north to a person's farm.

You turn left (west) for a pretty bad stretch of road. Past the worst part of the road is a really smooth stretch which I love. It's the only spot where you can speed up a bit. I'm told that smooth stretch becomes treacherously slippery during the rainy season.

You cross a little bridge of sorts and turn north again for a very bumpy stretch of road, past a really big house with a really high security fence. I think it belongs to an Indian. Now you have to make sure you stay on the high road--there are ditches everywhere. You slow down to a crawl, and once again kids come running, waiving and shouting "How ah youuuuu?" in unison. I always wave back and smile. You keep going till you reach the end of this road, where someone is digging out huge rocks on the side of the road. Rocks I'm contemplating getting for my rock garden. But that's another matter.

Once again, you turn west, and along this stretch, there are almost always sheep grazing in the road. At the end of the 200-meter stretch is a large ditch on either side of the road, and I always wonder how you get past that spot when heavy rain has fallen.

As you turn north, there are several homes since you're getting close to the main road. There are also several churches, as well as a little shop where a lady sells some vegetables and cans of coal for fires. The road widens as you approach the tarmac and you have to wind around rather big rocks. To the east is a patch of papyrus grass and a swampy area where you can have your car washed. Since there are also rocks, it's safe to drive right into the water and take a big step onto the nearest rock to get out of the car and watch.

Just another 50 feet or so, and you're on the main road. Smooth tarmac all the way into town.

Obviously, you plan town visits carefully. It's not a simple "Will someone run to Hy-Vee to pick up some milk?" if you forget something...

If there was something like Papa Jon's Pizza out here (which there isn't), I don't think they'd deliver to our village. If they would, every pizza would be a calzone by the time you got to Ilula.

Thursday night

It's almost 1 a.m. I've been working on various projects--photos, team arrangements, lots of details. I'm having challenges tonight with uploading photos, so I can't post a photo update on the progress on my cottage. Today, the living/dining room/office/kitchen area's floor was painted. That means, it's about 2 days or so until I can move in! I spent several hours today cleaning the bathroom as well as main area so the guys could paint the floor. I can hardly wait to be in my place!

Tonight, it started to rain. Just softly. Enough to water the too-dry earth.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Got Faith?

Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
Faith is a 5-year-old with an incredible passion for prayer. When she starts praying at night, some of her 10 sisters lay down their heads and fall asleep... Faith prays for everyone she can think of--every team member that's visited, for interns, for every one of the Children's Home parents. When she forgets a name, one of the older girls (like Vitaline, Beatrice or Sharon) would help out.

Her ELI mom, Dorcas, says that she's been praying for Faith to have the heart of an intercessor. Her prayers are obviously being answered.

Many of the younger kids are a bit more quiet when they're around their big brothers and sisters. However, when I drive past their school at 3, they come alive! Three o'clock is when the preschoolers get to go home, and the biggest fun for them is to run alongside the car, trying to give me high fives or shake my hand.

Click on Faith's photo to see pictures of some of the other toddlers.

I miss my Sunday school kids, too!

Originally uploaded by tamarajohnsonbelieves.
For about the last year that I was in Iowa, I taught Sunday school to little ones at New Covenant Bible School. Danette, Tamara and Nancy still have these same kids, and today, Tamara sent me a picture of the kids saying "We miss you very much, Miss Adele!"

I so miss these kids, too, and look forward to the day that I'll be visiting New Covenant again and seeing how each one of them has grown...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sunday night

I'm really tired after having been up way too late last night. Rather than just head to bed, I want to encourage you to check out one of the projects I've been working on this week: a blog for ELI. We currently have a team in Sudan, and it's amazing to see what's happening there.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

"Will Baba Nemo find Nemo, Adele?"

Hillary's question made me smile. "You'll just have to wait and see," I told him as we walked to the training center.

If you had read my previous blog entry, you'll remember that a parent essentially loses their name and becomes dad/mom-of-(first born's name here). And so it was that Marlin, too, lost his name. He's now just Baba Nemo.

The kids had started watching Finding Nemo last Saturday, but after just 10 minutes of the movie, we had a 3-day power outage. The last thing they saw was Nemo being captured by a scuba diver and his dad starting the quest to find his son. So for a week, the kids have been wondering, "Will Nemo and his dad be reunited?"

If you've seen the movie, you'll remember that Mama Nemo (or Coral) gets killed at the start, and that Nemo is all that's left of their entire batch of eggs. Losing his only son was devastating to the clownfish.

Now, keep in mind that all our kids are orphans. For some, they had never known their father. And every single one of them had seen their mother (and in many cases, their father) die. To them, it was really important to see Nemo and his dad be reunited.

In fact, when father and son were finally reunited, the kids literally cheered. BIG time! Deafening cheers! But when it seemed for a moment that Nemo may have died, you should've seen the kids' faces...

Who would have thought that a simple movie like Finding Nemo would be so exhilirating to the children. The kids were even praying, asking God to bless the people who have donated the projector and the movies they are watching.

House Update
Many of the kids stopped by my house before heading to see the movie. I told them that as soon as I've moved in, I'll invite the families for chai at my house. One of the moms also stopped by and as she left, she said, "This will be a great place for prayer and Bible study." That is, indeed, my prayer. I want one and all to feel welcome there, and loved.

So, I've still not moved in. Today, the curtain rods were mounted. My desk was made. The wood for my bed arrived. The bathroom was finished up. And half of the floor was painted. I had originally not wanted to paint the floor, just stain it with oxide. But the staining didn't work that well, and the floor had several paint stains. So the bedroom side now has a very red floor. Next, the kitchen furniture, my desk and my bookshelf will be varnished and moved to the bedroom, and finally, the floor on the living room side will be painted brown.

I can't imagine that I'd be moved in before next weekend, or the end of the month, for that matter.

There's no hurry in Africa, right?

I'm just anxious to be in ONE place. At this stage, I cook at Brian and Kristin's kitchen. I sleep in Hut 3. I make phone calls from my house. I've set up office in Brian and Kristin's living room. And I still brush my teeth outside.

Perhaps I'll miss brushing my teeth under the African sky... But then again, I need only walk out my front door and look up to be greeted by a sky full of stars--without having to spit out any toothpaste before I can smile!

Friday, February 17, 2006

"And I used to climb into that tree and tell people about Jesus"

Mama Chiri
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
"Now, where that tree used to be, there's a big church..."

Mama Chiri is the lady who does my laundry twice a week. By hand, 'cause that's the way it's done here. She lives across the road from ELI, in a little mud hut that didn't have electricity until today.

"I've been having all the wires in my house for almost a year and a half," she explained with a smile, "but I had to wait for the electrician to put in the meter. He came today, so I praise God for power!"

Her husband came into the living room, the smell of alcohol preceding him like a dark cloud. Not much of what he said made sense.

"I have been praying many years for my husband to be saved," Mama Chiri explained later. "I believe God will answer my prayer. You know, I praise God that Papa Chiri is not a bad man. But alcohol is keeping him from being an altogether good father and husband."

After having chai and pancake-like snacks, she showed me her shamba, the garden she works on in the afternoons. A preschool teacher by profession, she's been working from home for the last several years. She grows and sells vegetables whenever she can, and currently, she's in a training program at ELI where local ladies learn how they can use better farming methods to grow better crops.

We talked about the challenges of farming. Other than the drought, the biggest problem she has is that neighbors' cows eat her crops. Putting a simple fence around her property will solve this problem.

When Joseph stammered into the living room again and Mama Chiri left to tend to one of the kids, I asked him what he does every day. "I work in my shamba, he said." Then he continued to point out everything that belongs to him. "My house. My children. My goat. My dog. My dog has 18 calves." (puppies)

If only he really helped around the garden. Mama Chiri works 2 jobs, plus tends to her land. Her husband just drinks. Yet I did not see for one moment that she has any anger towards him! "I'm just praying that God will heal my husband! Then he can also help with the house."

After almost two hours of visiting, we prayed together. I was humbled by her faith, her joy and her tenacity.

Please pray that God will heal Joseph of his alcoholism and turn his life around!

[In case you're wondering about here name: Here, you are called by the name of your oldest child. If your firstborn is named Joe, you'd be Mama Joe and Papa Joe.]

Tomorrow morning, Mama Chiri and I will be working side by side, mopping and waxing the floor of my house. Sometime this weekend, I might actually be able to move in!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Hump Day

It's been a very, very long day. Or so it feels. My day started at 5 and hasn't slowed down much. Now, it's 11 pm. Today and yesterday, individuals arrived for an ELI journey to Sudan. Other than making sure everything's in place for the guests, I worked on a blog for ELI. Had some technical challenges (I'm still learning!), but thanks to the guidance of a good friend in California (Amu, who was on one of my Mozambique teams), the blog's ready for me to post updates for the Sudan team.

Not a lot of progress was made on the house today. The mosquito screens are up. There was a leak in the toilet that has been fixed. The kitchen shelves will be built tomorrow. I'm told that everything will be finished tomorrow. Please pray that it does indeed happen.

One highlight I'm looking forward to tomorrow is to have tea at Mama Chiri's house. She's the lady who does my laundry twice a week. She lives down the road in a mud hut with no electricity and no running water. And she has a heart of gold and a smile that speaks of her love for Jesus. I'll go and have chai at her house and pray with her.

And then I'll go and read stories to the children again. Having had visitors, I've not gone to tuck in the kids this week or read to them. I had a long visit with one of the guests today about projects that I can start in my garden which the children can be involved in in order to train them to take care of God's creation. I'll share about that as things start to solidify more.

But for now, it's time to head to Dreamland.

Lala salama.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

We have power again!

Mary, Dorcas, Priscah and Ruth with their Valentine's roses
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
After almost 3 days of being in the dark, our electricy was finally turned back on today! It first went out on Saturday, but was turned on briefly on Sunday night. On Monday, I went to town to purchase groceries, and when I returned, we had no power. Nothing on Monday night. Nothing all day today... I've had to start throwing away food from the refridgerator.

Late this afternoon, I headed to Junction, an area about halfway between here and town where there are some traditional shops and a gas station where the attendant cranks the pump by hand. I bought petrol (gas) for the generator, deciding that come what may, we're getting onto e-mail this evening. And when I returned and had just filled up the generator with fuel, the power came back on. YEAH!

In brief, here are some of the highlights of the past 2 days:
  • Going to the women's prayer meeting on Monday and spending time praying with my Kenyan coworkers. I mentioned the idea of a women's Bible study to them and asked them to pray about it individually and get back to me if they're interested. (Keep in mind that the dorm mom's have 24 children each under their care, so their days are very full!) One has already gotten back to me, saying that she's been praying for this for a very long time!
  • Preparing for visitors' arrival, including going rose shopping at our neighboring rose farm. In the process, I bought each of the moms a dozen or so roses "as a Valentine's message from God."
  • Getting wet! It started to rain today... After more than 6 months of NO rain, the rain is very much needed and welcome! In fact, as I'm typing right now, it started raining once again. I am hoping that the rain means that we won't have power cuts!
  • Starting to learn Swahili (more than just learning a few words from the kids.)
  • Putting together a blog for ELI in order to post updates on a team that's leaving for Sudan on Thursday.
  • Meeting with some pastors who want to start a pastoral training center in the area and were curious about the satellite service we have. Though they are far from ready to launch their training globally, I was able to pray with them and encourage them.
  • Getting a hand-made Valentine's card from Joshua and Nathaniel, the Rogers boys. Joshua is 6, Nathaniel 3. It seems that Joshua has decided I'm cool since I'm a scuba diver! I love that. A week ago, he wouldn't talk to me. Today, he kept asking me questions about sharks. He even came to my house to help me prepare lunch and he wanted to pray for the food. Who would've thought diving could open the door to befriending a kid.
  • Seeing my house near completion. My house is . . . not quite ready, but almost there! The only 4 projects that remain (and which I'm told will be done tomorrow) are
  1. Tiling the bathroom floor,
  2. mounting curtain and towel railings,
  3. installing kitchen cabinets, and
  4. installing mosquito screens outside my windows.
Somehow, I won't be surprised if it's not done tomorrow, but I'm getting really eager to start cleaning! In faith that things will be done by Friday, at least, I've asked Mama Chiri (who does my laundry by hand every few days) to come and help me on Friday to wash the windows, mop and wax the floors and - um, I'll be moving in, but I don't have furniture yet! Uh-oh! Since we really don't have storage space, I've had to put off buying furniture until I have someplace to put it. But once I have chairs, I'll start inviting people to my house for fellowship and fun. I truly want my little corner of Kenya to be a haven and a place of prayer!

So, that's it for now.

It's Valentine's Day. Today, 11 years ago, I left for Taiwan...

Monday, February 13, 2006


Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
Today, we spent the day at our Kipkaren Training and Development Center, about 90 minutes' drive from the base where I live. Don and Amy Rogers (founders of ELI) are on either side of the group. Next to Don is David Tarus, director of the center, with Juli McGowan (PA) and Allison Tjaden. They're standing at the site where the ground is currently being prepared to start with the construction of our second children's home.


Saturday night. I’m writing by candlelight. We had barely started the movie this afternoon when the power went out. We’ve been having several blackouts recently, and the power stays off for long periods. A lot of Kenya’s power is hydro-electricity. During a severe drought like the one we’re facing right now, the drought is affecting the power supplies around the country. What blows my mind is that the city government turns off all power without prior notice. It’s just one of those things. Everyone takes it in stride. The kids were disappointed that we had to quit right as they got into the movie, but I didn’t hear anyone grumble. It’s just a part of life. (Note: The power only came back on almost 24 hours later, sometime on Sunday.)

We have two staff members here from Tanzania. They had traveled overnight, taking one public transportation after another as well as walking long distances. They arrived finally after almost a day’s travel. Joelle (who cooks for visitors) prepared a wonderful beef stew, ugali and spinach-like vegetables. Some of our staff shared the meal with our Tanzanian friends by the light of a paraffin lantern. Then I headed out to go and read to two rooms.

What I love about reading them bedtime stories is that I get to visit with the kids in a very quiet environment. They always sit around their big table while I read, and I’m able to see every kid’s face. It’s fun to see even 11-year-old boys giggling at a cute illustration and getting all excited about me reading them from All aboard the good-night train!

I usually make a point of explaining ideas where necessary. One story tonight, for example, was about a monkey who goes and spends the night with his grandparents. The story is called “Jungle Lullaby,” and when I explained what a lullaby was, the girls taught me a Swahili lullaby. It starts with, “Lala, mtoto, lala…” (Sleep, child, sleep…)

By the time they were done singing, I just about was ready to sleep. Sara Ekale, one of the littlest ones in the Rotich household did in fact fall asleep, and the girls giggled when I picked her up and gently tucked her into bed. They’re just not used to that. As I left their room, the girls were saying, “Adéle, we rrrreally love you. We pray for you, Adéle. God will bless you SOOOO much.”


In “Jungle Lullaby,” the monkey wants to be brave, but he’s a little afraid to spend his first night away from home. We talked about their first night at the orphanage, and both the boys and the girls admitted that the first few nights were tough. “Some even cried,” Vitaline told me. “But me, I did not cry.” And so we talked about crying, about the fact that God gave us tears and it’s OK to cry sometimes.

“I have big shoulders,” I told the kids. “You can always come and cry on my shoulders. But I have to warn you: I might cry with you.” And they know I will, because that’s what happened when one boy cried at the news that his sponsor has cancer…

Tomorrow (Sunday) I’ll be going to Kipkaren with the Rogers family as well as our Tanzanian staff. I’m looking forward to church somewhere away from the base. Starting next week, I’ll probably be visiting English-speaking churches in Eldoret. Though I will always want to be contributing toward the spiritual growth of our staff, I believe it’ll be healthy for me to get involved in a church away from here, for the sake of getting to know other people and having fellowship with others. Please pray that I will find a church where I can serve as well as be challenged to grow.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Cultural differences

Some have asked, "So, how was the mung bean soup?" Tasty! None of my Kenyan friends like it, though, because it's sweet. The only thing they really like somewhat sweet is chai. The Kalinjin people rarely add anything to their food. Not even salt. "You know," Laban told me recently, "all the vegetables have their own natural flavor. Even ugali has it's own natural flavor. You cannot taste the natural flavor if you add salt."

So I'll be eating mung bean soup for quite a while, it seems. Kids seem to like sweets a bit more, so I'll try sharing with some of them. Who knows, they may like it. If not, I'll be getting my fill of protein for the next two weeks from a portion of beans.

The house is coming on pole pole (slowly). In some ways, I wish I could supervise every last step. The bathroom sink's in, but it's crooked and I'm told pole (sorry). That's it. It's not drastically crooked, so it's one of those thing I should just live with. I'm really trying to encourage the builders to do things at a better level, to use masking tape when painting along lines, to make sure the walls aren't full of paint tears. It's frustrating, at times. I am constantly asking myself, "Is this something you should just let go?"

Yesterday, I discovered that the windows are about 6 inches longer than I was told they'd be. In other words, the curtains my mom and I made when I was home, are too small. "Pole," Tobias says. "Can you just add some material, try to find something that looks somewhat the same?" I'm trying to figure out what I can do. Nope, the hemns aren't big enough for me to simply take them out. I'm thinking I may have to start from scratch and make new curtains.

I'll upload some photos of the progress this evening. Right now, I need to go and set up everything so the kids can see their Saturday movie. Today, it's Finding Nemo. When I spent time with the kids this morning, they came to ask me one by one, "Adele? Today we see movie?"

Kipkurui with his limited English crawled onto my lap, put down his head, stuck his thumb in his mouth and said, " I like movie. Lala salama." And he took a nap while the other 3-year-olds decided to find every scrape on my hands and feet. They'd inspect each one and say, "Pole." And then each one showed me every cut they had. I can go and put some Neosporin and Band-Aids on their cuts, but with them playing in the sand all the time, the Band-Aids are off in no time. Nevertheless, we know what kids are like. It doesn't matter if the Band-Aid's off in 10 minutes; they feel cared for.

And that they are!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Cooking mung bean soup

Cooking mung bean soup
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
When I was at the market earlier this week, I saw a vendor with tons of different beans, among others, mung beans. (Chinese, lyu dou.) I craved one of my favorite Chinese desserts, sweet mung bean soup, so I decided to cook some. But the beans would take eons to cook without a pressure cooker, so I cooked them in the solar cooker yesterday! I started the cooking process in the afternoon, though, so the cooker's out in the sun again this morning so it can finish cooking.

The solar cooker apparantly works wonderfully. My colleague Amy says she's even baked cake and bread in it.

Other news: My house is coming along really fast now. The bedroom and bathroom were painted yesterday, and I wouldn't be surprised if the rest of the paint is done today.

The fundi are working on building my bed as well as the kitchen workspace. Originally, I had hoped to move in around Valentine's day. That might still be possible, but it wouldn't surprise me if the move only happens later in the week.

Yesterday, I went to town with Don and Amy and we had dinner at Sunjeel Palace, an Indian restaurant. The food was wonderful! And so was the company.

Tonight, I'm having dinner at the Teimuges' house. (I think I'll take over some of the sweet mung bean soup for dessert.) And tomorrow, being Saturday, we'll have our new weekend event: Movie night. The Rogers family have a ton of kids' movies, so we'll be watching something like Finding Nemo, perhaps.

My life really is about more than just eating and showing movies. I've been able to get lots done on the computer and am working on setting up a blog for ELI. Next week, Don and others are going to our new site in Sudan, and I want to be putting updates on that blog while they're there so our prayer supporters can know exactly how to pray.

That's all for now. Back to work.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

It's quiet out here

I'm the only person currently living on this side of the compound. With my closest neighbors currently in the US for studies, the next closest life is not quite a stone's throw from where I'm temporarily staying. And so it's quiet out here. Other than the security guards walking the grounds, I bet everyone's asleep. I should be, too.

Had a productive day, filled with meetings, planning, visits, interviews and even a side trip into the goat pen. (Is that what you'd call a fenced area where goats stay?) Anyway, one of the kids (baby goats, that is, not one of our ELI kids!) had gotten out, so on my way to the orphanage I decided to catch the little one and put him back with all the others. Fortunately he was small enough for me to catch him quite easily... I still think it must've been a funny sight to watch me chasing a little goat. (It has to be because I'm tired, but suddenly goatee sounds like a much better word for a baby goat than kid does!)

My bedroom was painted today. It's now green, with one red wall. It really looks good! I'll take photos tomorrow. The workers have started with the construction of my kitchen cabinet. Next is my bed. In between meetings today, I had to sketch a plan of my bed for the fundi. They tell me it's cheaper to have it made than to go and buy a ready-made bed from the side of the road. Yip, that's where you buy beds here. There are little carpentry shops on the road to town. So I'm asking them to make the four posts really tall so I can drape my mosquito net over the corner posts rather than having to hang them from the ceiling, because that'd mean I can't move the bed once the net has been hung...

Anyway, not much else to report today. And so I'll say, "Lala salama." That's, "Good night."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
This morning, I worked on a photo project for the orphanage office, making sure I have all the children's names right on their pictures. (I want to print and frame all the pictures for a photo wall in the office, making it easier for visitors to check on kids' names.)

Samuel (our director) asked me to stop by the market in the afternoon to buy groceries for a dinner to welcome home Don and Amy Rogers' family. A colleague went to the market with me since it was my first time to go to the "real" market in town. In fact, I was rather surprised to see what a large market was hiding in the backstreets of Eldoret!

And so I met Peter, a vendor whom I'm told is reliable. He won't charge me wazungu prices (higher prices for white people...) but will charge me what Kenyans pay. And if he doesn't have something on my list, one of his guys will get it elsewhere in the market for me (at a price, of course).

Anyway, on the list, among various vegetables, was 2 chickens.

"Alive or dead?" Peter asked. "If you want them dead, you'll have to go to a supermarket."

"Alive," I said. The only chicken I've seen at the supermarket was frozen rock solid, and we don't have things like microwave ovens out here...

And so the kukus (Swahili for chicken) came home with me.

I didn't want to carry them! It's hard enough to see dinner alive, let alone bond with it by carrying it...

I tried not to think of the live chickens when I had dinner. I have to get used to the idea, because I'm not always too sure how fresh/safe the chicken from the supermarket is!

Wireless Hut
I am no longer sitting in my cold, windowless living room at night in order to access the Internet. Today, I managed to configure my "Airport Express." That means I now have wireless Internet! The reason I wanted to make this area wireless is when your home is your office is where you'll be spending most of every day, it's nice to at least be able to move around a little. Can't do that when everything's tied to a single wire in the living room...

I wouldn't be surprised if this is the first hut in Kenya with wireless Internet access!

We're getting a computer for the orphanage office this week, and starting next week, I'll be conducting training for our staff on basic computer skills. They keep telling me, "We would have never dreamed that we could have Internet right here!" Till now, in order to access the Internet, they'd either hitch a ride to the main road and take a matatu from there to town, but more often than not, they'd simply walk the 3km dirt road to the main road and then catch a matatu. The journey to and from town easily takes half a day, if not longer. But now, they can access it right here!

I'm excited for them for the wealth of information that will now be available for the pastors. I am, of course, also concerned for what they might run into on the Internet, but we'll talk about that.

I'm especially excited that we can now receive e-mail right here for the children from their sponsors! The kids don't understand yet what the Internet is. They have asked me many times about the satellite dish. I have explained to them that now, our friends in America can write to us and within seconds, the letter is right here!

What fun to introduce technology to them.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

How's church in Kenya?

For convenience sake, I go to Ukweli Chapel, the church right at our training center. It's a small church, averaging perhaps 60 or so people every week. Today, I thought of visiting a church in town, just for the sake of getting off our campus and meeting other people. But then our director came and asked if I'd mind sharing in church today.

Lesson: Ask exactly what is meant by "sharing."

I assumed he just wanted me to say something during the "open mike" time. (Not that we use microphones, though.) After singing, there's usually a time when anyone can share. Some people sing. And sometimes, like today, when one person gets up to share a song, others may get up during her singing and join her to sing. Some people share a testimony, or a thought.

I kept waiting for the pastor to give me a sign, "Now's your turn, Adele." But sharing time came and went. And then it was time for the message, and the director announced that I'm preaching.

Lesson: Keep a number of messages ready in case you're asked to share.

Fortunately, I had been thinking about some thoughts to share during staff devotions tomorrow, and I was able to elaborate and actually bring a challenging message. It was not my own brilliance, believe me. It was a God moment!

I shared from Matthew 4 (Jesus calling His disciples) and Matthew 14 (Peter walking on water), about Jewish culture demanding that only the very best scholars getting permission to follow a rabbi and learn from him. When Jesus was calling ordinary guys to follow Him, he was essentially saying, "I believe in YOU. You can do what I do." And that's why Peter dared to step out on the water. He wanted to do what his teacher did. When he started doubting, he was doubting himself, not Jesus.

I was able to encourage the congregation that each one of us are called to follow Jesus. It's not our initiative. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4.) And so, when we feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the tasks facing us, we can remember that Jesus called us because He believes in us! We can do what we are called to do because of Him.

And again, I have no doubt that I was able to share today because of Him, not because I'm a teacher. I don't think I am. I know, however, that I have an amazing teacher whom I want to imitate.

In that, I find courage.

Tired little fellas

Tired little fellas
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
After a battle with the power (our lights keep dimming every few minutes, causing the projector to switch off) we finally hooked up the generator and were able to watch Veggie Tales. Not all the kids were able to stay awake, though...

We're watching a second movie this afternoon. This time, I'll have popcorn for the kids. Just because. What could be more fun than a Sunday afternoon movie with popcorn?

You joining us?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Bedtime Stories - in Swahili!

Tonight, I went to have dinner with the Ronos. This family truly has become like my own Kenyan family, and since their oldest daughter is going back to Nairobi tomorrow for college, they invited me over. And they slaughtered a chicken for the occasion. When I was little, I helped with slaughtering chickens, sheep and more on my grandparents' farm, but somehow, as an adult, I don't like seeing my dinner run around just prior to it being served to me… The Ronos just laughed at me for not wanting to witness the death of a chicken. Involuntarily, the hen lay down her life for us. Yikes. Not surprisingly, I had just a small bite of the chicken. I had plenty of sukuma wiki (Kenyan spinach, translated as "push the weak") and fruit. And chapatti, probably one of my favorite Kenyan dishes. (It's like a burrito, sort of.)

My favorite part of the evening, though, was killing time before dinner. While the hen was still being cooked, I headed over to the children's rooms in the East wing to “eat news,” as the Kenyans say. I was visiting with the girls about school and such. And then I did something I've been wanting to do for a long time: I read them a story in KiSwahili! Keep in mind that my Swahili is still very limited. But I had studied Zulu in college, so the pronunciation is the same, and the girls had a blast. They kept asking me to read more stories.

What struck me, though, was the type of stories in their KiSwahili text book. There was a story about a boy who had lost his parents to AIDS. The girls translated as I read (so I would understand!) and to use their words, “AIDS is a disease that doesn't like medicine.” The story goes on about how the boy then lives with relatives and has to tend to the cattle, and how he cannot go to school because there's no money. Fact is, that story is like many of the children's lives!

Which made me think… This past week, my parents' cleaning lady and her 2-year-old daughter were tested positive for HIV. In fact, both have AIDS already. I asked my family about medication. Will they have access to affordable anti-retrovirals? Sadly, in the country with the highest AIDS numbers in the world, the medicine is still too expensive for AIDS victims to have access. I've read about millions of dollars being given to Southern Africa to fight AIDS, but somewhere in the middle, someone's getting fat on the funding!

Movie night
Back to the visits with the kids: I told the kids that we'll be watching a movie tomorrow night. I wish you could see their faces! It's the biggest treat to them! We'll be watching Veggie Tales, probably two episodes. Kevin, a quiet 10-year-old with the brightest smile, literally jumped from excitement. His whole face lit up! Out here, it's a 6-hour drive to the nearest movie theater. Seriously! So the only movies these kids have seen is what we have shown them. I might just go to town tomorrow and buy popcorn for everyone! Will see. I know, though, that rather than watch the movie myself, I'll be sitting watching the kids' faces! In December, I showed them Madagascar, and they still tell me how much they liked the movie!

For those of you who have seen Madagascar: When visiting with some of the kids about the movie afterwards, I asked them questions like who there favorite character was, and why. One girl immediately said, “The zebra! Because he forgave the lion!” Wow. I wondered how many Western kids would've said the same…

So, are you joining us for the movie tomorrow? Bring your own popcorn! In fact, would you bring enough for 96 kids?

Friday, February 03, 2006


It's rather cold tonight. It doesn't help that I'm sitting in my living room and working. My house doesn't have windows yet, so the breeze cuts right through me!

I'm heading to bed now, to a hut with windows and a door and a thatched roof that really does keep things nice and cozy.

Sweet dreams!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Home office

Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
This is where I'm working from right now--my living room. There's no electricity yet, but in order to be connected to the Internet, I connected four extension cords to the setup here... All the wiring for the satellite and network comes to my living room, so there's really nowhere else for me to sit. I'll obviously be delighted when there's electricity, the place is painted, and I have real furniture. But for now, this is WONDERFUL!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I'm online, from my very own house!

I really should go and get my camera and upload a picture of this... I'm sitting in the dark in my living room. There's no electricity, and in order for this network to work, I need electricity. So I have a network of extension cords snaking its way over here. All the equipment is set up on a temporary desk. I'm sitting on a makeshift chair--a few planks put together. But I'm connected. And I'm smiling from ear to ear.

As I'm sitting here, I hear crickets outside my door. And in the distance I can hear some of the kids making their way to their dorms after dinner. A dog is barking somewhere. The sky is a dark shade of blue and the first stars are appearing. I don't have windows yet, or a door. But I have walls and a roof, even a ceiling. The window frames were painted with a primer today, so the white paint stands out against the evening sky. There's a slight breeze.

I love having access to the world from my little corner of Kenya.

Does it show?