Sunday, July 30, 2006


I'm off to read a new book to the kids, one I got in the mail from a friend this week. The book is called Chrysanthemum, and I'm sure the girls will especially enjoy it!

I'm downing a cup of protein shake as I'm writing. Don't get a lot of protein here since I don't each much meat, and some days I really crave protein! I have protein shake and add some of that to soy milk and fresh fruit and blend it with a hand blender. Voila! The best shakes this side of the world, I think.

I've been asked to help transport new kids to the orphanage in Kipkaren tomorrow. I'm leaving home just after 6 am to pick up one colleague, then make the journey out to the other center. I know it will once again be a moving experience, and a life-changing day for those kids. Please pray for them!

Off to read to the kiddos.

I'm back. Here's a picture of the Rutto girls with the book I read to them.
Winsam (second from the left) was especially tickled by the fact that her name was in the book (winsome),
and that she discovered that it meant beautiful...

Friday, July 28, 2006

Chicken Soup

It's soup weather out here. It's been raining on and off for two days now, with the rain coming down really hard since this afternoon.

Once I got home from dropping off colleagues in town (the road was like a river, but I'm enjoying driving these roads more and more with my car!) I got into sweats, a warm sweatshirt, and put a chicken on the stove. (Blame it on the weather, but suddenly I'm envisioning this live chicken standing on the stove... Obviously, that's not what I did!)

I've been working on my computer for a couple of hours, and am ready to go debone the chicken and add fresh carrots from the garden and some zucchini. And mushrooms and snap peas. Yummy! And then curl up with a book for a quiet Friday evening.

I'm reading a book called African Friends and Money Matters. For me as a Westerner, it's tough being asked for money almost on a daily basis, whereas for most Kenyans, it's nothing unusual. Sharing resources is very much a part of life here, so I'm trying to better understand how my colleagues and neighbors view money and other resources.

So, it's off to the kitchen while the rain is still coming down hard outside.

I love the sound of the rain on my tin roof, the smell of chicken soup, and that I have electric lights to read by, and a warm blanket to read under...

Anyone want to come over for some soup? Just bring your own book.

Mob Justice

Early this afternoon, I was waiting at a travel agent's office in town to pick up tickets for a team when I heard commotion out on Uganda Road. (Yip, this road leads to Uganda.) It seemed like everyone on the street had come to a standstill, watching some event unfolding. Next, a group of about 15 men paraded past the office, holding on to one scared-looking fellow in an orange shirt. Some people were laughing. Others were just staring.

The agent explained that it must've been a pickpocket that had been caught. "It's good they caught him," she said while non-chalantly continuing with the issuing of the tickets. "The only thing I don't like about mob justice is that they can really hurt the person with flogging..."

When I drove off minutes later, there was no sign of the earlier commotion. The group must've taken the man to the backstreets to take care of business... It's a bizarre system, but apparantly it works. I am not sure if it's legal, or what the police do when mob justice takes place.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


I've been reading the book of Micah recently, and love how The Message puts the passage in Chapter 6:6-8

"How can I stand up before God
and show proper respect to the high God?
Should I bring an armload of offerings
topped off with yearling calves?
Would God be impressed with thousands of rams,
with buckets and barrels of olive oil?
Would he be moved if I sacrificed my firstborn child,
my precious baby, to cancel my sin?

But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don't take yourself too seriously -
take God seriously!"

And so, today, with the Micah passage in mind, I set out on my various tasks for the day - starting with going on a home visit where God opened the door for an amazing ministry opportunity in the mountains! (I'll tell more about it when plans are more solid.) Next, with a song in my heart for what God's doing, I headed to town where I saw God answer one prayer after another.

I saw God challenging me to give more, and in return, I was blessed.

Though I've had a challenging couple of weeks behind, dealing with cultural adjustment issues (aka culture shock), I'm holding on to Micah 7:7,
"But me, I'm not giving up.
I'm sticking around to see what God will do..."

It's time to head to bed. It's after 11. Tomorrow's a major catch-up-on-tons-of-work-e-mail day.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

We serve a BIG God

Crowned Crane
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
The entire area just had a black-out for a couple of hours. I walked over to the children's home to go and read to some of the girls, and WOW, I wish I could send a picture of the sky! No electricity + no moon = a spectacular sky! The stars almost reached the horizon, there were so many! The milky way is a thick line in the night sky tonight, and the stars seem to be competing to outshine each other.

It was such a simple reminder for me of what a BIG God I serve, and his extravagant love for us!

Earlier today, I drove to our Kipkaren base to take photos of an event, and had a similar experience. On the side of this little rural road I was on, just feet away from my car, one of my favorite African birds was grazing. It's a crowned crane. Look at the picture and you'll notice the incredible detail. This bird is silver, gold, black, white and red. It was a treat to see it so close to the road--and to have my camera nearby.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Exploring Kakamega Forest

Here, the road ended abruptly
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
I made use of the opportunity to explore the area since we have two girl interns around that could accompany me on a little getaway. I had heard about Kakamega Forest, the only remaining rainforest in Kenya, situated not too far from Eldoret, and that's where we headed.

We drove for about 2 hours to the north end of the forest, where Kenya Wildlife Service operates a banda (hut) camp. As we headed to Udo's Bandas and Campsite, I saw a sign leading to a waterfall. I had reserved a hut for us for the night, so we weren't concerned about housing and decided to explore a little before heading to the camp.

The road became narrower and narrower, then suddenly ended. I parked my car and we headed on by foot to enjoy our sandwiches and juice by the small but beautiful waterfall.

Heading back, I was thankful my car was as rugged as it were... Backing up the narrow trail proved to be a memorable part of our trip!

Next, we went to unload our things for the night, only to be told that our hut had been given to another group of German girls, and that we'd be given 2 tents for the night--not a good arrangement, since there are only 3 of us, which would mean one girl would sleep alone, plus there was rain coming our way.

We let the warden figure out a solution while we went hiking. We didn't see as many birds as I anticipated seeing. (This forest is home to more than 330 species of birds and 400 species of butterflies!) We did see a spectacular turaco, however, and found feathers of a crested guinea fowl. Heard lots of birds, especially in the morning! I'd love to go back and spend time really looking for some of the various species!

Upon our return to the camp we were told that a Dutch group had moved out and their hut became available. While the warden added one more bed to the hut, we prepared dinner: top ramen noodles with vegetables, and roasted marshmallows for dessert.

We could do nothing but head to bed really early. By 8 pm, we were all tucked into our mosquito nets, visiting. Then came an uninvited guest: some bushy-tailed, squeaky mouse. Every so often, it would enter the hut and squeal at the top of its little lungs! I was ready to feed it to some of the birds outside!

Since it was cloudy in the morning, we didn't go to watch the sunrise, but headed out after breakfast (instant oatmeal--thanks, Nan!) to explore some of the central part of the forest. This part is run by Kenya Forestry, and is really much nicer! I discovered better bandas at Isecheno, and then the best (though 20 times pricier) retreat center at Rondo.

The road back through Kapsabet took us no longer than 90 minutes, so it's definitely viable to go hiking for just a Saturday!

It did my soul well to be away and close to nature. And I am certainly looking forward to going back to spend time with God in the forest so close to where I live.

Click on the photo to see more pictures of our day in the forest.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Painting again

This morning, as I was considering the list of things to be done, I decided to tackle the last of the logo paint jobs while Christy (intern/partner in paint crime) is still here. It's done. Yeah!

Tomorrow, I'm taking Christy and Laura (new intern, friend from APU) to Kakamega Forest which is nearby. I am excited that the girls can go with me as I've been wanting to go to the forest a long time, but it's not something I feel comfortable doing on my own.

The forest has more than 300 bird species, so I'll definitely take my binoculars, bird book and camera. But more than anything, I'm looking forward to simply being in nature, away from the busy-ness of life at the training center.

I look forward to posting pictures from the forest once I'm back.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Crazy days

It's the time of year when teams come and go and I have to make sure all the ducks are in a row for all their transport, connections, luggage, meals and so on. It's a fun challenge--though fun isn't probably the right word when a piece of luggage gets left behind, a ticket gets thrown away, or three different teams are in three different places on the same day and calling me about details. Especially not when I'm in the middle to finishing paint projects! :)

So, yesterday, one team painted our alcohol & drug rehab center after playing soccer with the men who are currently being rehabilitated. Today, Christy (intern) and I returned to paint the ELI logo on the wall. Yesterday, she and I painted the logo on the wall in the office, too. It's been a good project! We joke about our "paint-and-run" business since things have been so crazy with teams that I have been literally just going in, painting, and heading right out to the next thing. It's a good change of pace, though.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sweet reunion

Today, I went to Kipkaren to take photos of the children there. As I walked onto the orphanage grounds, Olivia came running and threw her arms around me. "Sasa, Olivia?" I asked. (A way to ask kids "how are you?") "Fit!" she replied with a grin. "Do you remember me?" "You're Adele!"

After church, the other kids all came over to greet me. Even new ones who had just been taken in yesterday came to give me a hug. They had no clue who I was, but must've figured they could trust me since the 15 "old ones" did!

I took individual pictures of all of them, and checked on Jeptoo (Naomi) who had had malaria when I last saw her. She's well. Dennis came over with a big smile. "Do you enjoy singing in the evenings, Dennis?" I asked. "Yes!" I'm told that he sat down all the new siblings that arrived this week and told them that "We respect our parents here. You need to listen to them. They won't hit you. But you have to listen to them..."

These kids are so used to being hit. Olivia told her new mom to rather hit her than sit her down for a talk. "You can hit me! My sister used to hit me a lot!" Of course Dorcas explained that she won't hit her! (Dorcas simply was telling Olivia not to change her clothes four times a day. The same clothes will still be in her drawer the next day, and then she'll get a chance to wear them! The abundance was just something new to little Olivia!)

Sharon's story really touched my heart. This 10-year-old kept going over to Mike and Dorcas' home asking to hold their new baby boy, Brian, and asking if she can wash his laundry. When Dorcas explained that she could hold Brian, but it's not necessary to do his laundry, she found out that for the past year, since their mom's death, Sharon had been taking care of her now 15-month-old baby sister. Living with their granddad, Sharon was responsible for her sister. She fed her, bathed her, clothed her... She left the baby with a neighbor when she was brought to the orphanage, promising that she'll be back to get her when the little one is three years old--our minimum intake age.

It was hard to leave, but I had promised the kids in Ilula to show them a movie today since I've been gone/busy the past 3 Saturdays. They were eager to see their cousins in Kipkaren!

It's amazing how quickly all these kids crawl into one's heart...

Paint Job

This week, I got permission to paint our office in town. The place hasn't been painted in years, and sees a lot of traffic. I felt it would reflect better on the ministry to get a fresh coat of paint in there, and it would boost the moral of the staff who spend their days in the small 4-room office.

One would think four rooms (and a corridor) wouldn't take too long to paint. However, there are lots of windows and shelves and odd corners, so it took 3 interns, 2 Kenyans and myself ALL day to paint! We were there from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm! But the place looks wonderful.

I got two shades of green for the main offices, and two shades of brown for the entryway and the board room. And we moved the furniture as to make better use of space. I'm looking forward to hearing their response. Some of the staff stopped by during the day to encourage us and we thrilled to see the changes.

I'll post pictures once I get them from Christy (intern). I didn't have my camera with me today.

I'm wiped out. Tomorrow's another big day as I have to go and take pictures of the orphans at our other center. I'm looking forward to seeing those kids again.

Off to sleep....

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Friday night

It's late. Just had a farewell for Jared, an intern. Drove a visiting team and interns around all day, but had some meaningful time at lunch with them all. Then we had an official opening ceremony for our basketball court that Jared built. I'm not a basketball fan, so I had fun handing out watermelon, and the best was pouring watermelon juice directly into some of the kids' mouths from a huge sufuria (pot) afterwards... Oh, the things that entertain me!

Tomorrow, the three other interns and I will be painting our office in town. I don't know when last it has been painted, and it's screaming for some color and clean walls. Then I'm taking Jared to the airport, and Sunday I'm heading out early to return 2 interns to our other center and go and take individual photos of our new orphans.

This past week had some very tough moments regarding cross-cultural communication issues. I'm glad the week is over...

A busy week's lying ahead: On Tuesday, the current team is leaving, another team is staying just for a day en route to Kipkaren, and we're receiving a new intern, Laura. I've known Laura for a few years (from APU), so I'm looking forward to having another familiar face around.

I'm off to bed. See you all in Dreamland.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Such a different world

Originally uploaded by ninataipei.
I was looking at photos taken by my friend Nina. We've been friends since college, and she's been living in Taiwan for the past 10 years. What struck me about this photo is how different Taipei--where I lived for more than 7 years--is from my current world! There were Buddhist and Taoist temples everywhere, and few buildings were ever just one or two levels high. Everyone had cars or scooters.

Just about the only similarity between that world and the world I'm currently living in as that both places get a lot of rain...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Adele's Update | May/June 2006

Finding a New Home
First there was Olivia. Then Gladys and Naomi. Finally, Dennis and Dominic. I picked up these five kids from their villages on Friday and brought them to their new home: Kipkaren Children’s Home. They met up with nine other kids and were introduced to their new world. This weekend, most of them slept in a bed for the very first time in their lives!

As we stopped at the new home and a large crowd were gathered, singing and praising God for their arrival, I had little Naomi in my arms, hot with malaria fever. Tears were streaming down my face as I watched the kids. The ones I had picked up each had a little bag with them with all their earthly possessions. Some of the others had nothing save the tattered clothes they were in. Not even shoes.

I came back to Ilula, telling the kids here about their new “cousins” at Kipkaren. “We will pray for them!” they promised. I know they will. They are the only ones who can truly understand what those children are going through, and thus they can pray with insight.

Thinking back of the day spent at Kipkaren, looking at the 14 young faces, I wondered which of them knew Jesus. The five in my car seemed to know him. Olivia was referred to us by a pastor, and she sang one Christian song after another on our ride home. The last two boys were from a Christian home, too. Their aunt sent them off with a heart-felt prayer, and on the drive to their new home, quiet little Dennis sang over and over, “This is the day that the Lord had made...” When I told him that they’ll sing every night during devotions, his little face lit up.
It’s a long journey ahead. The kids are undergoing medical exams today, and experience tells us that many will have worms, lice and ringworm. But they are now in a home where they’ll not only receive treatment for their medical conditions. They’ll be fed well. They’ll learn about Jesus. And they’ll experience how much he loves them through the love extended by their new parents.

Will you please join us in praying for all 14 kids as well as their new parents?

Sudan: A World of Extremes
In May, along with two Americans and five Kenyans, I traveled to our neighboring country: Sudan. From the moment we stepped off the small charter plane, I knew that Sudan was unlike anyplace I had ever been.

The heat is extreme. It was frequently hotter than the maximum reading on our little thermometer: 120F/48C! You’d wake up sweating, and at night when you lay down, you were still sweating! It was supposed to be rainy season, which would’ve meant that we’d be inundated with mosquitoes. I praise God that we only had a few rain showers during our visit.

The food is extreme. The only vegetable I saw on the meager markets were onions. Most people in that region live on milk and, if they’re fortunate, some sorghum. Our team had rice and beans most of the time.

Life is extreme. By far the greatest majority of people in the area where we served had no roofs over their heads. Most of them lived among thousands of cows. When it rains, they find shelter under a tree. They have no toilets, no kitchens, no running water, no soap. Some are fortunate to have a tarp to sleep under. Most use burnt cow dung to brush their teeth and cover their bodies to protect them against flies and mosquitoes.

When they get sick, they could walk to the nearest clinic with very limited services, about 20km (12 miles) away. When they are very sick, they have to go to Khartoum, a 5-month journey by boat and foot. We provided much-needed health care to more than 1,000 Dinka. And we showed them that, even though they live in a harsh, harsh world, God still cares for them.

Abiye , a girl whom our team treated for cholera, was virtually dead. She had no pulse and no blood pressure. I will never forget sitting next to her on a hump of mud while she was groaning with pain, begging over and over for God to have mercy on her! This past week, I read a report from our Sudanese director where he said that she is now confessing Christ as her Savior. Abiye said that before, she had no faith in God, but now she believes in God. She said that the devil had a plan to kill her, and God’s plan was to send His people to rescue her from the devil.

To read more about this journey, read this.

I’m Mobile!
Just a few weeks ago, I was able to make the journey down to Nairobi to test drive a Land Rover Defender. I was blessed to be able to leave the city the next day in my very own vehicle. It was made for road conditions like what we have: lots and lots of mud. It handles wonderfully and I no longer have to be scared to drive after it had rained hard.

I have found that some of the best times of ministry happen in my car. One rarely gets to drive alone here. There’s always someone on the side of the road flagging you down. And this is how I’m getting to know neighbors and talk to them about their lives.

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring!
The rainy season has officially arrived. (We don’t have four seasons, just two: rainy and dry.) I just chuckle at Kenyans from Nairobi who ask if we’re not freezing up in Eldoret... We’re at about 7,500 ft, so yes, it’s a bit cooler than in Nairobi, but this being “winter,” it’s still really very mild! The most I’ve had to do was put on a jacket. Most days you’ll be fine with a T-shirt!
The rains are very welcome! Though it turns our road into a big, messy mudslide, it also helps the crops grow. And for that, we are thankful.

Many Kenyans cultivate a hectare of ground, planting maize (corn) and/or beans. All around this neighborhood, the maize are growing very tall. It feels almost like I’m back in Iowa! (Except, there I never really got so close to the corn! And here, we don’t get sweet corn. It’s all field corn!)

Though I don’t have a maize crop, I do have a vegetable garden as well as my own yard. My lawn is coming along nicely. And this weekend, for the first time ever, I tried my hand at pickling cucumbers since my crop is bearing much fruit!

And It’s Raining Visitors
Or so it seems, at least. (American) Summer time is the busiest time for teams. Between June and November, we’ll host just fewer than 30 teams and interns between our center at Ilula and the one at Kipkaren. Part of my job is to book all these teams’ and interns’ in-country travels, make sure they’re being met at the airport, book safaris and so on.

If that were all I did, I wouldn’t like my job! What I love about having these teams and visitors is the personal connection I get to make with them. I don’t get to know the teams that go to Kipkaren, but for those at our center at Ilula, I enjoy being a part of their faith journey while they’re on foreign soil. I am praying that my heart would be sensitive to God’s leading during each and every interaction.

Girls’ Night
Probably one of the most fun things I’ve done in Kenya was to invite all the 10- and 11-year-old girls from our children’s home over for a girls’ night at my place.

Two interns, Christy and Rachel, helped put on the event. They sent out beautiful invitations to each girl, decorated my car with foam flowers, and led the games and talks.

The focus of the evening was that the girls are wonderfully and fearfully made. (Ps. 139) Dressed in their PJs, the girls played Twister, wrote each other notes of encouragement, participated in a talk about the changes they’re facing as girls, and then we watched a movie.
We had a BLAST. I’ll definitely want to do something similar again!

Speaking of Kids
One of the highlights of my day is always to go over and visit the kids. I love praying with them and hearing them pray for their sponsors, even my sponsors (supporters), that God would bless each one of you richly.

As some of them are going into puberty, I’ve had the chance to have some heart-to-heart talks about life, frustrations and more.

I love these kids, and I love to be able to minister God’s love to them.
Thank you once more for your part in sharing Christ with these kids, with my neighbors, with people who are living desperately difficult lives.

Praise God
  1. For the ministry in Sudan
  2. For my car
  3. For all the teams and interns who are coming to serve with us at ELI
  4. For the impact that ELI is having on our communities
  5. For the opportunity to go and share at APU’s Missions Week in November
  6. For good health

Please pray
  1. For a continued insatiable hunger after God
  2. That I would be a worthy representative of his in every circumstance
  3. For understanding and good memory as I’ve started working more diligently on learning kiSwahili
  4. For the children who are arriving at our new orphanage over the next few months

Sunday, July 09, 2006

In a pickle

Actually, I'm not. But my cucumber harvest is. Tonight, I pickled maybe 20 cucumbers from my greenhouse. I have NO idea how it'll turn out. I've never pickled anything! I'm supposed to let the jars stand for at least 2 weeks, after which time I'll know if it was a success or not.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Community Kids

Community Kids
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
Yesterday, while the Kipkaren kids were having lunch, kids from the community were walking to their homes on the other side of the river, cutting through the orphanage grounds. They seemed curious to see what's going on.

Click on the photo to see more pictures of the first intake at Kipkaren Children's Home.

I can't imagine ever forgetting today

I met Daniel Morogo, our social worker, at a junction en route to Kitale. He knew where we would pick up each of our assigned kids for the day...

Our first stop was the house of Pastor Sylvester, a gregarious man with a big smile. Olivia (7) (pictured on the right) was brought to his house by her sister's husband. They have been looking after her since their mother died while also paying to put her brother through school. They cannot take care of both the kids, and seemed to have prepared Olivia well for the transition. There were no tears at the good-bye. She was excited to get into the Land Rover and sat on the tip of the back seat, asking every so often, "Are we there yet?"

Next, we stopped at the home of Gladys (7) and Naomi (5). They posed for quick pictures with their cousins, grabbed their bag, and headed to my car. No tears. No hugs. Their one younger cousin tried getting into the car with them... As I backed out the long, muddy driveway, their aunt came running, explaining that little Naomi had a "little malaria." Soon, the little one was asleep on the back seat. Gladys, on the other hand, was covering her face for a while. I thought she might be crying. Instead, she was giggling with excitement! She and Olivia chit-chatted as we drove to the last stop for the day: Dominic and Dennis' home.

These boys (cousins? brothers?, both 7) came from their grandma's house literally
shining with all the vaseline they've been rubbed with. They were dressed in new outfits, and their aunt brushed their heads one last time... Then they gathered around to send off the boys with a prayer. The two boys didn't speak much English, but in the car, on our way to their new home, Dennis sang over and over and over, "This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made..." When we'd be through singing, I'd hear his little voice starting again, "This is the day..." I asked him if he liked singing, and told him that every night, they'll be singing during devotions. He grinned from ear to ear!

Before heading to the children's home, we waited for the two other cars with nine more children. Once everyone was there, we drove the road to their new home. We'd go around a corner and there'd be a little hut. I'd ask the kids, "Is THIS your new home?" and watch their eyes grow big, probably thinking, "This is no better than where I come from!" And then... as we got close to the home, we started honking. As we rounded the final corner, a crowd was gathered, singing.

As the kids were welcomed, little Naomi fell asleep in my arms, hot with fever. Naomi on one arm, my camera in the other hand, I couldn't wipe the tears that ran down my face as I considered what an enormous change this was for each of the 14 children... Some came with a small bag of clothes. Some, like Dennis and Dominic, had new clothes. Many wore dirty, torn clothes, no shoes, and not a single thing they brought with them.

The kids were given lunch, introduced to their new parents, shown their rooms. They also played soccer with a visiting team, then had dinner... (Many of these kids come from homes where they haven't had a good meal in days. It will take a while for them to realize that there's good food three times a day, that they don't have to eat like they'll never see food again!)

Right now, they are asleep in their new homes. For most of them, this is the first time ever that they will have slept in beds, had running water to take showers, had flushing toilets.

The kids at Ilula (where I live) have been praying for the kids at Kipkaren, and tonight, when I told them about the kids having arrived, they clapped hands and said they'll keep praying. They are truly the only ones who can understand what the little ones are going through, the mix of excitement and fear... They have committed to keep praying, knowing that many of them cried themselves asleep for days.

Am I excited for the kids who we took to Kipkaren today? You bet I am! Is my heart breaking for them? That'll be a yes, too. They have all lost both parents. They have all had to live with relatives/neighbors who couldn't afford having them. They have all been given away, rejected. Yet they were being welcomed with open arms today into a community who has been praying for them and counting the days till they would receive the kids. It's such a mix of feelings.

I can't wait to go back sometime next week and spend time with Gladys, Olivia, Naomi, Derrick and Dennis. And to meet the nine others. Felix. Jepchirchir. Calvin.

Perhaps they were only excited today. Perhaps the mix of feelings were all in my heart, and affected how I saw them.

Either way, they're in a new place. In a big room. In a big bed. With a REALLY big God looking out for them.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Tomorrow's a BIG day...

Tomorrow, I'll have the honor of picking up eight children and bringing them to their new home: Kipkaren Children's Home. That is at our other base, about 90 minutes' drive from here.

It can be a very hard day for those children (plus 10 more who are brought by other staff members). Some of their guardians don't know how to prepare the children for the transition, and don't tell them anything beforehand... I know my heart will be broken many times throughout the day.

Will you please pray for these precious kids, to be able to understand that their guardians aren't rejecting them, but doing what is best for them? Please also pray for the new parents as well as all of the children's home staff to be sensitive to God's leading in helping each of these precious ones adjust?

Thank you for praying for us.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Things to do when there's no electricity

Sometimes, I can get so buried in all my computer work that I don't get to visit with staff. And that's such a critical part of our ministry!

So this morning, when I discovered that we're having a blackout, I went to connect with the moms and had chai. In the process, one mom (Dorcas) asked me about some of the vegetables in her kids' garden. I had given them seeds to plant, and they didn't know what to do with the spinach and lettuce. So as a treat, I made all the moms this huge mixed salad, unlike any salad they've ever had. I'm still to hear if they liked it... I also harvested some of Dorcas' spinach and told her I'll make a quiche, something else they've never had. Somehow, I doubt Kenyans would like it. They don't care for cheese.

I combined the ideas of a few recipes since we don't have all the ingredients you need in most cases, and right now, the quiche is baking. (P.S. The quiche was GOOD! I went to deliver some to a few colleagues. Still curious what the Kenyans will think of the cheese.)

  • I cannot share the details, but today I had a total God-directed encounter with someone from the community. Every step of that encounter, especially the timing, was absolutely a God thing. I was blessed as our paths parted, and this person was blown away by the way God answered her prayers.
  • For occasional blackouts, which in my case today, was a good reminder to step outside my usual world of global communications and simply go and connect with our staff.
  • For electricity that's back on, and a toaster oven to be able to bake stuff! :) And for the fact that Kenya's changing so you can more and more ingredients here to be able to make Western food.
  • Later this week, the assistant moms are coming to my place for tea and fellowship. I will be talking with those moms about the possibility of getting together for Bible study. Please pray for God's guidance.
  • Every day, we are literally flooded with opportunities to give. It's sometimes overwhelming to live surrounded by poverty, and knowing when to give, or what to give. For example, I don't give money to the street children since many of them sniff glue. If possible, I like giving them fruit or bread, but don't always have that in my car... Please pray for wisdom in every single encounter, to know when to give. It's not always the right thing to give handouts, since it makes people dependant on you, and our ministry is all about teaching people skills rather than giving handouts.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Charcoal-singed milk

Today, the interns and I were invited to lunch at Julius' home. Julius is ELI's new Director of Operations, and a wonderful asset to our ministry.

We had a great time visiting, asking about his family and life. Kenyans appreciate home visits tremendously, and we were blessed to be able to be invited to his home.

Lunch was wonderful: millet ugali, squash, beans and spinach. Then came the best: Julius pours a cup of fresh milk and then stirs it with a smoldering stick! I politely tried one sip of the milk, but couldn't get myself to drink more. The charcoal floating on the milk and the charcoal taste was just too much for me...

The company was wonderful, though. I have great respect for Julius and his family, and enjoy working with him. I just couldn't make myself drink that milk.

Do we have 4th of July in Kenya?

Of course we do. Just like we have the 3rd and 5th! Kenyans just don't necessarily celebrate this day. I specifically say not necessarily, since I happened to be at a celebration this evening with about 60 Kenyans. Here's the deal...

Earlier in the day, I had invited our two interns (Jared and Christy) over for lunch. It was Jared's birthday last week, but he was gone that day, and I wanted to make him what he's been craving most: good sandwiches! (Note that the cucumber and lettuce are from my very own garden!)

After lunch, I had to put together some of our paper to send to our other base so the visiting team can purchase it as gifts. I realized that it's going to be such a hassle to get the boxes to Kipkaren if I simply dropped them off at the office, and decided to take them to Kipkaren. I was happy to find out that the staff there were celebrating 4th of July with the team that's visiting from Nuevo, California, and agreed that the interns and I will stay for dinner.

We discovered that it was a BIG party, with all the Kipkaren staff invited and asked to wear red, white and blue. The team had decorated the room with balloons and more, and they had prepared a feast of pizza, calzone, grilled meat, potato salad, mixed salad, even brownies, banana bread and fruit salad. I must say, I was thoroughly impressed that the ladies were able to bake the pizza & calzone in their little charcoal oven and keep it hot! And that they made more than enough to feed the crowd of more than 60 people... I was bummed that I didn't take my camera, so I have no photos to share with you.

Anyway, we had a blast. All the Americans gathered as a choir and sang "Star spangled banner" WITH the Kenyans. (We non-Americans were given the words.) Someone explained that anyone that had been in the military was supposed to salute during the singing of the anthem, so it was so cool seeing Kenyans saluting while singing the American anthem.

Since it's at least an hour's drive home, I left before the entire program was finished. As the interns and I left, someone was giving a short overview of the history of the USA, saying that they were happy to celebrate--just like the Kenyans--the day they finally got rid of the UK. There was still going to be a skit and then the singing of the Kenyan anthem. No fireworks, though. Oh, there'd probably be mayhem if you shot off fireworks in these villages! No-one here has ever seen anything like it, so they'd probably think it's the return of Christ. Seriously.

And so, as friends gather in the US to barbeque and go and watch fireworks, I'm off to bed.

To all my American friends: Happy 4th of July!

P.S. As a special treat (not!), I discovered today that I have ringworm on my neck. No, it's not a real worm. It's a fungus that a lot of the kids have on their scalps and I'm blessed that it's taken me this long to catch it (probably from hugging them). Yeah, eh? What a nice gift... :) And yes, I have good anti-fungal cream that'll help it heal.

It won't keep me from hugging the kids, though.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Kipkaren Kids' Camp, and weekend happenings

Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
This morning, I went to our base at Kipkaren to take pictures of a children's ministry event. More than 300 kids showed up for day camp where they played some games with a visiting team from Nuevo, California, but mostly spent time singing, praying and memorizing Bible verses.

The kids are so cute. Whenever someone introduces themselves, they start with "Bwana asifiwe," which means "Praise the Lord." Usually, the response is a simple, "Amen." However, these kids respond with a boisterous "Amen-Hallelujah-Amen!"

There were 300 children present, and by the time we left, more children were still arriving...

There is so little entertainment in rural Kenya that any program usually attracts large crowds. What amazes me is that some of the children would walk for an hour or more just to attend a program such as this! Even little 3-year-olds would walk this far!

Edna does a wonderful job working with the kids. A week ago, she ran a big Sunday-school teacher training seminar in our region, too. (I was unable to attend that function due to my sister's visit.)

Other things that went on at ELI this weekend: Tomorrow, our Anti-Alcohol ministry (alcohol rehab center) is taking in a new group of men and women for their 3-month training. The son of a member of parliament is one of the guys who is part of this intake, so today, his family had a big send-off for him. I was invited to go and take photos at the event, however, I had committed to the kids' camp first. Please pray for Pastor Rono and his team, especially over the next 3 days. They wean the participants of drugs and alcohol cold turkey, so the first few days are especially tough!

There was also a soccer tournament near Kipkaren, the first round of play-offs that will lead to finals during an AIDS campaign later this month.

And at Ilula, a visiting team spent the day working with our kids. The kids were drawing Christmas cards so that we can print the best ones. So there was no movie today. Which meant that I could actually take a rare Saturday afternoon nap. (Which I needed due to my lack of sleep on Thursday night.)

Many of our Kenyan staff were away for the day as it's the first Saturday of the month. That means that they could go and visit their children who are in high school and are living in a dorm. They're not allowed to visit any other time, only on visitation days.

Tomorrow, I'll be at our local church since we have a visiting team. In the early evening, I'll be picking up Jared and Christy (interns) from town as they had been away for 3 days.

It's been raining a lot lately, which is great for the maize (corn) crops, but terrible for the roads. It's been an interesting learning experience for me to drive in really bad mud, and I saw a truck today on a road off one of our roads that was totally dug into the mud! Every time I reach home safely, I thank God for blessing me with a good vehicle that can make it through the mud without any problems!

So, that's that. I'll write my May/June update tomorrow, too, so you should be hearing from me by e-mail soon...

Thanks for being part of this journey!