Saturday, September 30, 2006

Frustrations and Blessings

Power Issues

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!

Mobile Ministry

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...

Car Issues

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

Back from the Boonies

I was in Kipkaren for the past day and a half. Left yesterday morning to help them sort through their storage room. David (Kipkaren director) said, "We don't know what's in there. Can you help us?" And they asked me to paint more logos at Kipkaren. I said I'd help with both tasks if I can wear pants. (Seriously! I've done sorting/cleaning in a skirt, and it's no good. Painting can be done in a skirt, but not if I were to climb on scaffolding!) He said, "You can wear whatever you want when you help us!"

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.

Lala salama!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Escape Artist

Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
I love escaping some weekends and go somewhere. Anywhere, almost.

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

My Boys

He held my hand... Dennis, that is. Today, we watched Stuart Little. That was his first movie. Ever. As in, he's never seen a movie. He's 3. He's never even watched television, let alone see a talking mouse... He, along with his 97 brothers and sisters were giggling from the moment Stuart appeared. Soon, they were cheering for little Stuart, and shrieking when Snowball (the cat) chased after the mouse/boy. Oh, the tension in the room when Stuart was stuck in the washing machine, and when he was being chased through Central Park by a bunch of cats! Even 12-year-old boys and girls were standing, pointing and shouting in Swahili, "Cats! Watch out!!"

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

What a fun day!

When I got up this morning, I was tired. I had gone to bed around 2 am again, having been working on work e-mails, sending out invoices for teams, responding to visitors' questions. I so wished I could just roll over and sleep for another 2 hours or so, but sleeping beyond 7 a.m. always makes me feel like I'm not only wasting a day, but sleeping my life away. I know. It doesn't make sense when you stay up till 2 a.m., but nevertheless.

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."

That simple.

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.

To Bless Your Heart

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.
Earth-Tamer, Ocean-Pourer,
Mountain-Maker, Hill-Dresser,
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!

Late night thoughts on my baby sister's birthday

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

Shedding Skin

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

And then, Rooney cried...

Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
As I knelt down to take a picture of the little three-year-old, his big eyes seems a little scared. I couldn't get him to smile, but took the photo anyway. The next moment, his bottom lip started to tremble. I put down my camera and wrapped my arms around the boy. Everything suddenly seemed just too much for the little one. He tried to be so very strong. He tried to hold back, but huge teardrops soon stained my shirt. And then his whole little body was shaking as he was still so desperately trying to fight back the tears...

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?

Rain-induced memories

It started raining again. Earlier today, we celebrated the 2nd anniversary of the children's home. As the final "amen" was said, huge drops started falling. But they lasted for just seconds. Later this evening, it started raining. Lots of rain. And now, as I'm getting ready to crawl into bed, the rain started falling again as a gentle lullaby. Not so gentle, actually. But hard rain on my roof puts me to sleep.

Often when it rains, I wonder about some of my neighbors, of whether the roofs of their huts are waterproof... But tonight, out of the blue, I think of families in Sudan, especially those living in cattle camps as they, too, are in their rainy season. Those who can fit would huddle together under a tarp. Others will find shelter under a tree, trying to hide from the rain.

How can one live having seen life like that and not be eternally affected by the memories?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Simple Pleasures (in no particular order)

  1. Taking Sunday afternoon naps
  2. Giving and receiving hugs (real hugs, not courtesy hugs)
  3. Reading
  4. Cooking with friends
  5. Giving and getting fresh flowers
  6. Taking early morning walks
  7. Discovering a new recipe
  8. Spending time with family
  9. Worshiping wholeheartedly
  10. Getting good back rubs
  11. Listening to good music
  12. Reading to kids
  13. Eating ice cream
  14. Enjoying Thai food
  15. Laughing
  16. Hanging out with friends
  17. Seeing someone's face light up
  18. Taking photos
  19. Bird watching
  20. Traveling
  21. Scuba diving
  22. Enjoying good coffee
  23. Tickling a child's back
  24. Watching movies
  25. Playing Scrabble
  26. Hanging out with friends
  27. Exploring
  28. Checking things of my to-do list
  29. Walking in a forest
  30. Driving fast
  31. Discovering new things
  32. Growing things in my garden
  33. Talking on the phone
  34. Getting real mail
  35. Getting a manicure
  36. Singing
  37. Waking up well rested
  38. Making breakfast
  39. Eating out
  40. Watching someone being creative
  41. Seeing my world through others' eyes
  42. Making friends
  43. Seeing someone "get it"
  44. Having a child fall asleep on my lap
  45. Making people smile
  46. Finding a bargain
  47. Fitting back into "skinny clothes"
  48. Creating order
  49. Hearing a loved one's voice
  50. Winning
On that note, I'm going to indulge in the first thing on my list...


I love days like today, when I'm able to focus and get lots done! I don't have a SINGLE message left in my work inbox (though my to-do list has grown significantly in the process of cleaning things out...). Yeah God! This is huge.

I'm tempted to attack my personal inbox now, too, but I've had too many hours of simply sitting and working, so I think I've reached my limit for today.

Wish I could go out and celebrate! (Well, technically I can. I can walk out onto my patio, look at the stars. Thank God for today's work that has been done. And come back in.)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Home Entertainment

I was supposed to go to nearby Lake Baringo today with colleagues as a little getaway, but the trip fell through, so I decided to sit out on my porch and see what flies by here...

So, in honor of Weir in Cedar Rapids and his bird-watching buddy, here's what I saw today:

An entire flock of barn swallows decided to come and play on the electric lines during that time. (The photo doesn't show the entire flock. More came later...)

Some Western black-headed orioles came to sing to me. Yip. I believe they serenaded just for me.

A little red-billed firefinch hung out for a short while, collecting straw for a nest.

Two unidentified birds of prey soared overhead for the longest time, attacking a bigger bird! When I went to get my binoculars, they left...

And a pair of greater blue-eared starlings were hanging out of with the orioles.

And of course there was a ring-necked dove. They're usually around here. (As are the orioles and starlings.)

So, there. I was able to enjoy some bird watching after all.

BarraBarra, on the other hand, has only seen a couple of flies today.

Oh, and while I was out, seeing what else might be crawling around my yard, I thought I'd show you what the flower of a passion fruit looks like. Soon, I'll be able to harvest the fruit and make home-grown passion fruit juice!

I'll plan to go to Lake Baringo and it's neighbor Lake Bogoria another time. But not today. Right now, I'm heading out the door to go and plant myself somewhere where I will actually get some work done.


Ek't gister twee naartjies gekoop. Suid-Afrikaanse naartjies. Lekker naartjies. Moes R13 betaal vir net twee. Die persoon by die betaalpunt het twee maal gekyk of ek regtig soveel betaal vir net twee vrugte. Ek self het twee maal gedink oor of ek dit regtig moet doen. Veral nie nadat ek minute vantevore 'n hele R20 betaal het vir vier Kaapse appels, vier lemoene, drie baby marrows, 'n pampoen, ses tamaties, twee wortels en twee mangos nie! So, ja, dis laf om helfte soveel te betaal vir net twee naartjies. Maar hulle was lekker! Het my laat huistoe verlang. Dis darem beter as om in Taiwan R15 te moes betaal vir een lekker appel...

1 Cor. 13

Today, my friend Melissa's mom was cremated. She lost her battle with lung cancer on 9/10. Mel and I started working at ORTV the very same summer. I joined full-time. She was an intern, studying Classics in London. After graduating, Mel joined our staff in Taipei. I never had the privilege of meeting her mom, but she had to have been an amazing lady to have a daughter like my friend Melissa. Mel and I are getting together for tea in downtown London during my 6-hour layover in her city at the end of October. (Even as I'm writing that sentence, I'm thinking, "Entirely too many prepositional phrases in one sentence." I know. I was an editor for way too long. And even just writing about my friends back in Taiwan makes the editor in me come out!) My point, though, is that my heart hurts for Melissa and their family, but rejoices in the fact that her mom is now in a far better place with no suffering. It doesn't make the loss less bearable for my friend, though.
After dinner at the Rono's home tonight, I headed over to read to the kids in East Wing. However, many weren't in their rooms. The ones who are in the dance group were practicing for Sunday's celebration: The Ilula Children's Home is 2 years old! As I read to one room full of boys, however, they had a lot of questions.

"If you give a mouse a cookie . . . " I started.

Gideon immediately had a thought he had to share. "If you put the cookie here and the mouse there, will he eat the cookie?"

Ummm. "Yes." Actually, I thought, if you really put a little mouse on the table, like he's showing, the poor thing will run away, not caring about the cookie. But it's a story. Let's continue.

"Adele! Have you fed BarraBarra?" Kanmau asked in Swahili.

"I have, Sweetie." Feeding critters has got this little one thinking about whether I've fed my critter. Let's see, "If you give a mouse a cookie... "

And so it went on. "What's a re-fridg-era-tor, Adele?" Matasio wanted to know. How on earth do you explain to kids a piece of equipment we in the West cannot live without? They have one in the children's home kitchen, but it took the kitchen staff months to learn how it works. They used to switch it off every night! And they kept their bags in it during the day...

By the time I was done reading, the boys lined up for hugs. The smell of urine hung heavy in the room. They've lived here two years now, but four of the boys still have trouble with bed-wetting--even one boy who is 10 years old... Their (foster) mom has tried every trick in the book. She's been getting up at all hours to wake them and take them to the bathroom. She's prayed for them. She's loved them through it all. In the end, I think, that's all we can do. Love them. Love them with a relentless love.

So, tonight, as I head to bed, God is reminding me anew:

If I speak English, Afrikaans, Chinese or even some Swahili, but I don't love relentlessly, I'm nothing but a dog barking at the moon.

If I share God's Word with children and adults alike and have enough faith to move to Kenya, but I don't have relentless love, I am nothing.

If I give up luxuries, opportunities, and resources to reach the people of East Africa, if I live alone surrounded by Kenyan corn fields, but I don't love relentlessly, it's as if I've journeyed nowhere.

It matters not whether I can speak with a funny accent, pray with passion, believe without limits. Without love, my life is worthless.

Relentless love never, ever gives up, even when life is tough.

Relentless love cares more whether the kids are warm than whether I'm comfortable.

Relentless love doesn't want what God hasn't given.

Relentless love doesn't do things to be seen or heard.

Relentless love doesn't care about my opinion and my needs, but listens to the opinions of others, and takes it to heart.

Relentless love puts others first.

Relentless love doesn't get annoyed when yet another person asks for money, or drives poorly...

Relentless love forgives, again and again.

Relentless love doesn't rejoice when others fail.

It finds joy in truth and in seeing others discover these truths.

Relentless love doesn't give up, but puts up with all things knowing that it is part of God's greater plan, and trusts that God has the best at heart. Always.

Relentless love seeks to see the best in others. It doesn't look back and wish for better days past. It pushes onward, knowing that beyond this mountain, far greater things await.

Relentless love doesn't wilt, nor dies. It's not "on" one day and "off" another. You can depend on it, even though you cannot depend on things and systems, even though you cannot always even depend on other believers.

Though I don't know or understand all at this stage, the day will come that I will understand fully. I will no longer be craving insignificant pleasures. Instead, I will grow in understanding and maturity. Right now, I don't see things clearly. It's like a window splattered with mud. But the day will come that all impurities will be removed. I'll see clearly, just as God sees me clearly. I'll know Him as He knows me.

But for now, while we are not yet there, there are three things I can hold onto:

Trust in God, always. Believe that He is who He says He is, that He can do what He says He can do.

Let hope be the fuel that compels me to move forward: Hope in God.

And the best yet: Love relentlessly, without ever giving up.

* Adapted from 1 Cor 13.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Bane of my Existence

At ORTV, my schedule revolved around meetings. Meetings to plan future editions of our magazines. "Post mortem" meetings to discuss past issues of the magazines. Meetings to plan meetings. Meetings with my staff. Meetings about big outreach meetings. Meetings, meetings, meetings.

I had a Palm Pilot, partly because I found it far easier to keep my life organized that way. I could take notes at the meetings and simply sync it with my computer afterwards and have all future meetings put into Outlook. But honestly, sometimes my Palm Pilot came in extra handy: I was able to make very detailed to-do lists, answer e-mail, beam notes to co-workers.

Today, I wished I had a Palm Pilot. Or even my computer, for that matter. I sat in a 3-hour meeting to discuss our upcoming 10-year anniversary celebration. There were 20 people in the meeting. We voted on things like what food should be served, where the tents should be pitched and the cars be parked, who the VIPs should be, if we should give our cooks a break and hire outside cooks... It was one of those days when I truly sat there thanking God that meetings like these aren't a regular part of my schedule, because it's just one of those major cultural differences.

So, now I'm back home and am heading out to read If you give a mouse a cookie to my kids. I missed the kids. Going to read to them will be better than spending time in my house. Got an e-mail from an intern saying, "I'm picturing you with one of your lovely gourmet dinners snuggled up in that ultra-soft blanket of yours listening to some good music and visiting with your chameleon." Yip. That's my life here. Self-care means I try to cook myself decent meals, listen to good music. Surviving the cold from living at a high altitude and with cement floors means I often have to wrap myself in my blanket (and happen to have some wonderfully soft blankets friends have given me as gifts). And unless I go to read to the kids or invite guests over, my company is indeed my chameleon. Though right now, he's hanging in my plant, not being very talkative. Not that he ever is. He's very low-maintenance. He eats flies. Comes to me when I hold out my hand (because he knows the hand is what takes him to find flies). Drinks water. Hangs out on my plant. That's it. No sounds from him.
I am back from reading to the kids. Read to four rooms (West Wing) and the kids did very well even telling me step by step what would happen if you gave a mouse a cookie... Thanks, Tom, for sending this book and other books. I love reading to the kids! We always pray together afterwards, and then they line up to each give me a hug. I love that.
This morning, I was up very early to go and spend my quiet time on a rock in Kipkaren, overlooking the valley below. It was the most gorgeous and serene scene, especially watching the sunrise. But having gone to bed late, getting up early and spending grueling hours in a meeting means I'm ready to call it the day.

Signing off from my little corner of Kenya

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Christmas in September

Point of Grace is singing "Joy to the World." I decided it's time to listen to some Christmas music... Not because the Christmas decorations are still up in the Children's Home, but on days like today, I simply want to celebrate Emmanuel, God truly is with us, with me.

May you experience God's awesome presence today in all that you do!

OK, it's slightly strange to listen to "Let it snow" when it's hot out, but then again, I grew up with it being summer in December, so it's not unthinkable to listen to this while pouring cold drinks. :)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Thoughts on "Being there"

Today, my thoughts are vacillating between life and death: the joy of life and the utter sorrow of death. Especially death of an infant.

I received news that the 4-month-old nephew of a dear friend just passed away. I don't know the mom and dad. But my heart aches for them. And it aches for my friend and her parents. How on earth does one deal with the death of an infant? My Kenyan friends say, "Those things happen." But they shouldn't! How do we reconcile our faith in a loving God with the death of a baby? Perhaps in the mere fact that the little boy's birth in and of itself was a miracle and pure grace. For that, I thank God.

On the other side of the world, in Sri Lanka, my friend Annies gave birth to a baby girl. I wish I could see my friend with her baby and celebrate life with them.

I want to be there to celebrate with my friends, to get to know my 1-year-old niece, to mourn the death of a nephew with another friend.

But with friends and family scattered around the globe, it's impossible to be there for them.

Where is there, after all?

There, too often, is far too far.

I can't help but think, "But I'm there for Obed who has learning difficulties and who truly finds joy in playing with my chameleon. I'm there for Dennis who went to school for the first time today and beamed when I rejoiced with him. I'm there for our visitors who try and figure out where God is leading them. And yesterday, when a neighbor had to walk miles to see a doctor, I was there to give him a ride. I was there to hold Ruthu this week as she fell asleep, learning to trust..."

Sometimes, I don't know what God truly expects of us. But at the same time, I do. "Bear one another's burdens," the Bible teaches us. So, in whichever ways I can, I shall do that, thankful that my friends and family understand that it does mean, at times, that I cannot be there for them. At least, not in a physical sense. I'll pray. I'll write. I'll call. I'll cry with them. I'll rejoice with them. Even though much of that ends up happening with me not being there in person. And that, my friends, is tough.


Those of you who know me well know that I don't like chaos. I like to have things in their place. And I like to figure out the best place for things. That's why my friends get me to rearrange their kitchens for them, right Nan?

For a while now, I just didn't feel like things were in place here. At least, not in the best places. Plus, I've had makeshift bookshelves--real shelves, but held in place by mud bricks that shed red dust. Same goes for the shelves in my storage room... Not a good thing.

So last week I employed a carpenter who
a) built a little storage cabinet on my porch for paint cans and car parts to go. This cabinet doubles as a patio couch, ideal for morning quiet times
b) made my makeshift shelves into real shelves
c) built shelves in my greenhouse so the kids can come and cultivate seedlings
d) built some little end tables for books

But in the process of him fixing my bookshelves, I've had to take all my books off my shelves and so my kitchen counter, desk, coffee table, chairs, everything's covered with books! It's pretty chaotic and driving me nuts! I cannot wait to have the shelves dry and brought back into the house! And then I can find the best spot for everything again.

Yes, I do work. This is just "life" stuff... Though out here, it's often very challenging to separate life and work. It's hard when you live and work from the same space, and live on the same compound where you work. At times, especially on Sundays, I put a "Please don't disturb" sign on my door. I'm not entirely sure that's culturally appropriate. I can't imagine Kenyans ever doing that. But it's one of the only ways in which I know I won't have a kid knocking on the door at an odd hour just to say hi to my chameleon... Which is fine, most of the time! It's just sometimes good to be unreachable.

Tomorrow morning, I'm taking the visitors to the airport and will stay in town for a while to get work done from somewhere in town. I miss having someplace like Java Creek or Panera's to go park for several hours and get work done. We don't have a single coffee shop in our town. Not one. Nada! I think there's one fast-food joint, a chicken place that I've never been brave enough to try out. Though there are ample little stands on the side of the road this time of year where people sell grilled corn on the cob. Field corn, grilled on the fire. No butter. No salt. (I'm actually starting to like it! But when I think of Iowa sweetcorn, it's hard to eat the corn here...)

Point is, on a day like tomorrow, if I want to go "hide out" somewhere and get work done, I go and occupy a table at a local restaurant. And then I can return to my crazy-for-the-moment home to connect to the Internet and send all the e-mails I've answered from town. And get the books back on the shelves, which should be indoors by the time I come home. No more chaos, that's my goal for tomorrow!

Today (Tuesday), the shelves were indeed brought back in. I was able to get everything back in its place. Ah! Order. Pure bliss.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Taking time to journal

Taking time to journal
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
Today, I finished one journal... During a time of ministry with a team earlier this week, God lay it on my heart to take them to Kakamega Forest today for a time of enjoying His creation as well as to listen for His voice.

We set out after breakfast, stopping on the way only to take a picture in a tea plantation. Less than 90 minutes after leaving home, we were slap-dash in the middle of a rainforest. The road leading to the retreat center where we were going had hundreds of butterflies. It felt like they were welcoming us!

I opened the safari hatch to experience the smells and sounds of the forest even as we were driving... We stopped to take pictures of the butterflies (in my favorite children's book, The BFG, the giant calls them butteryflies!), to wave at children, to spot blue-faced monkeys in the trees... We pulled into Rondo Retreat with its immaculate gardens, booked a table for lunch, and headed into the forest...

We hadn't walked too long before I spotted it: A black-and-white-casqued hornbill! Then there was another, a female. And soon, they seemed to be everywhere! These birds are incredible. You hear them fly, their wings cutting through the air with heavy whooshes! Then you see the black and white of their bodies. And then, the beak. (Click on the picture to find a photo of the hornbill.)

And we saw more blue-faced monkeys and collobus monkeys. The visitors were as excited as I was about simply seeing God's incredible handiwork and were running down the path to get better shots of the monkeys.

We stopped to look at miniscule red mushrooms, blueish-green catterpillars, to smell the big, creamy moonflowers... We were in paradise, and enjoying every moment of it! "Can't we just keep walking?" Josh asked when I suggested that we turn back for lunch. I think we all wanted to do just that. Just keep walking. Complete the 4-hour circuit we were on. But we were also hungry, and the M&Ms & Oreos they had packed wasn't quite going to cut it!

After lunch, we had our coffee out on the beautiful lawn, and then it started raining. (It's a rainforest. It rains every afternoon.) We found dry land on a patio, but soon all went our own ways. Jen and I found refuge in the little chapel that overlooks the forest, where I filled the last pages of my current journal.

It was SUCH a good time of simply hanging out with God, of praying and hearing Him speak to my heart, of being amazed at how he confirmed my prayers right away through Scripture...

Too soon, it was time to make the journey back to Eldoret, over the bumpy roads, ditching potholes, having wonderful conversation (when the road wasn't toooooo bumpy) about what God is teaching us and how He's challenging us. And about balance. The visitors were joking about "Deep thoughts by Adele..." when we talked about BALANCE. I honestly don't believe God has called us to live a balanced life. He calls us to live a radical life. A Spirit-driven life. A life that sometimes includes feeling like we have NO idea what we're doing, but we're doing it anyway, because His love compels us to do so.

Was it a good day? You bet it was! In fact, I wish I could escape to this beautiful refuge more often to sit at Jesus' feet and hear His voice. All I need is one or two people to hop in my car and I'll go. As long as they, too, are willing to brake for butteryflies.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Power outages

The past few days, we've been having several power outages. Most of today, we didn't have power, and even now, the power's not yet back on. (I'm using a back-up battery system to quickly connect.) It's been raining very hard this afternoon. I'm thankful for a dry home...

Tomorrow, if the rain eases up, I'm taking visitors to the Kakamega Forest for a retreat.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I have a cold. I don't know why it's called a common cold, because there's nothing common to how I feel. In fact, I feel totally out of sorts. It's not even 10 pm yet, and I'm going to sleep. That's very unlike me. It's at least four hours earlier than my usual bedtime. I'm not setting my alarm, though, even without an alarm, and even with going to bed well after midnight, I usually wake up at 6:30.

I wish I were a morning person. I wish it were easy for me to get up at 5... I'd love to do that every day and spend the most beautiful part of the day at Jesus' feet. I read a random quote today, "If you want what no-one has, you have to be willing to do what no-one is willing to do." Random in a way, but it got me thinking about a conversation I had with a guest today. If I want a radical walk with Christ and mountain-moving faith, am I living sacrificially? Changing my natural routine from night-time reading/writing/working/watching movies to going to bed early and waking up early would require sacrifice. And discipline.

I wonder how much of either I have in me right now.

He smiled at me

Yip, he did. For the briefest of moments. Even came over and gave me a hug. Somewhat hesitantly, but he hugged me nevertheless. I tried to remain calm so he wouldn't be overwhelmed by a big hug. After all, we're just getting to know each other. It's a big step from his eyes welling up with tears when I as much as looked at him yesterday. We've not been able to communicate a whole lot as right now, he only speaks Kalinjin. But he'll learn English soon. Kiswahili, too. Perhaps he and I can work together on learning Kiswahili.

Three-year-old Dennis is indeed adjusting well to life at his new home.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Time with the Kids

Last night, I went to say good-night to the kids and walked into one of the boys' room in the east wing just as 9-year-old Gideon was trying to close his "locker" (drawer). The drawer was a mess with clothes just crammed into it. "Would you like me to help you with that, Gideon?" I asked. He couldn't say "Yes!" any faster.

So, this afternoon, I headed over for locker duty. Gideon beamed when I walked in and he realized I was there to help him. He quickly dumped everything on his bed and squealed when he realized that his underwear was laying in clear sight of a girl! Of course his brothers gave him a hard time about it, too... Boys!

We were hardly halfway through with his drawer when Kipkurui tapped me on the shoulder. "You help me?" he asked and popped his little thumb back into his mouth. "OK, Kurui. You're next." But when I turned around, all six lockers behind me were open! They were all waiting for help!

Five-year-old Kurui, unlike his bigger brothers, wanted to show off each and every pair of underwear that he owns. "Look, Adele!" he'd say and hold them up. Boys...

There were only three of the 12 boys whose lockers were perfectly ordered. And those three were eager to show me that they didn't need help! One of these three, Jonah, quietly started working alongside me. He'd fold each and every piece of clothing carefully and pile everything on the table before finding the most appropriate spot for it again. I asked Jonah where he learned to fold clothes so nicely, and he said "From my mom." "Your mom here, or before, when you were at home." "Here," he said quietly while focusing on the pile of clothes.

Sometimes I so wish I could really understand the kids' hearts. I wish I was a child psychiatrist and could really understand what they're all facing. Like little Sharon. Her baby brother Dennis was just brought to the home this weekend. Sharon and her brother Hillary were the very first kids brought to our home. But they still had a 1-year-old brother at home, and we couldn't take in kids under 3. So Dennis was finally able to join his siblings. Of course he doesn't remember them, but they remember him. Hillary's been having a wonderful time playing with his little brother. But Sharon seemed distant when I chatted with her about how much Dennis resembles her. I walked away wondering if having him here is a reminder of how much of a burden they were on their older siblings. I don't know. I don't think it's the challenge of having a new sibling in the family. She was very excited when their foster parents new baby was born 2 months ago...

Looking at the needs--emotionally, but also simply time-wise, having someone sit on the floor next to you and help you fold clothing--of the children can be overwhelming at times. There are now 98 children. I so desperately want to love them equally. But that is hard. I connect with some, and not with others. But it's when I take the time to sit and fold clothes that I build relation with even ones I hadn't connected with before.

I've asked Jesus before to show me His face. He answered, "Look around you. Look at Benson's smile. Ruthu's eyes. Apollo's humor. Vincent's mind. Gideon's pain. Faith's touch. Love them, and you're loving Me."

If you have a free moment sometime, come and sit with our kids. And sit with Jesus.

"But you're so close to the road!"

I've mentioned before how the kids often ask if I sleep alone. To them, that's hard to fathom. In the rural parts of Kenya, no-one sleeps alone. If you're single and happen to live in a hut by yourself (which is rare), you take in a relative's kids to come and live with you. Or you "borrow" a neighbor's baby to sleep with you. Very different from what we're used to, I know.

So there's talk of robbers being around. A short while ago, one of our employees' hut was randsacked while he was at work. They took everything. He walked into a totally empty house when he got home! On Sunday, kids saw robbers walking out of a neighbors' house with a television*. They alerted others and the guys took off running. They escaped by hiding in the maize (corn fields).

This time of year, crime goes up in these areas for that particular reason. With homes being surrounded by maize, it helps robbers hide.

And that's precisely what happened last night...

I went to bed really early and was woken up by the dogs barking. I finally got up to shout at them, when I heard this voice out on the road (a few yards from my window), "Adele... We're out here, looking why the dogs are barking." Turns out that our askari (bow-and-arrow-bearing guard) had spotted someone trying to get into our compound, which isn't an easy task since we now have a huge gate. But perhaps the gate makes the place look more like someplace worth breaking into. Don't know.

So the kids kept asking me if I was scared. "Nope." "But what if the robbers got into your house." "They cannot." "But what if..." "But they cannot. I have burglar bars and a metal door that bolts from the inside. No-one can get in. I'm not scared. In any case, God is far bigger than the robbers." "But you're so close to the road! You should borrow a child to sleep with you."

I know. There's no logic in that. The child would be scared. I wouldn't. But they think it would be wise to have someone with me. Even if it were a child. "You should take Dennis!" one girl suggested. Dennis is our newest kid. He's the baby brother to Hilary and Sharon. Was too young to come with his siblings 2 years ago. He just turned 3 and is dead scared of me. I'm probably one of the first ever wazungu he has seen!

Back to the point. Am I safe? You bet I am. Am I scared? I honestly am not. Could anything happen to me if robbers would come? Not while I'm locked into my house. Could they take anything outside? Patio furniture, I guess. Half-full paint cans. My chameleon's cage. If they could lug away my second spare tyre, they'd have something of value. But the thing is far too heavy to run off with it. It weighs a ton.

Perhaps weight is not an issue. One of the gogos (grandmas) came over this morning, highly upset. Her cows were taken during the night. Her cows are her only source of income. She's almost 90. Now, she has no cows, and thus no milk to sell...

For those of you who might be concerned about my safety: Please don't be. I am really very safe. In fact, my home is the safest one around, impossible to break into! Just in case you're wondering. ;)

*Even out here, many families do have televisions. Many have little black and white ones with very poor reception. But they have 'em, nevertheless. I obviously don't have one and won't be getting one anytime soon. I'm not missing anything by not having a TV. Haven't had one in many years!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


This morning, I was woken to this song by Hillsong. It's called "Chosen as Mine," and it was such a blessing for these to be the first words I heard...

Here I am
so close to you.
Know my voice
I'll never leave you
for I have loved you since before time began.

I love you still
and always will
you're chosen as mine.

My Father wants to bless you now -
receive from him all that you'll ever need.
Come spend eternity with me
my heart's filled with love for you.

I love you still
and always will
you're chosen as mine.

Cries in the desert -
my child, I hear them.
Tears in the valley
my lovely, I count them them.
You're so precious
you were on my mind
as I died

I love you still, always will.
You're chosen as mine.


I loved waking up to this!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Lake Nakuru pictures

Lesser flamingoes
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
At its peak, about 1.5 million flamingos live in this lake! The lake has a very high salt content, and the only fish that survive are a type of tilapia, which is eaten by the flamingoes.

Click on the picture to see more of my pictures from Lake Nakuru National Park.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Random thoughts on a rainy Saturday night

  • I spent 14 hours at an AIDS-awareness campaign yesterday. Will write more about it on the ELI blog later this week, but it was incredible to be in a place with thousands of people coming to hear about a disease that no-one wants to talk about, yet which is touching almost every person in attendance in some way or another.
  • Driving to our Kipkaren base after the campaign, I passed a gas tanker than had overturned on the side of the road. Less than an hour later, the tanker was on fire. When I drove by heading home to Ilula this morning, it was still burning.
  • It's September. That means that spring has officially started in South Africa.
  • I drove entirely too much in the past 3 weeks and would very much like to declare this week a week of fasting from driving altogether. However, I have to buy groceries in town, and have to arrange for teams' luggage transportation etc, which means I'd have to go to town after all.
  • Yesterday was my niece Simone's 10th birthday. I've never lived in the same country as any of my three nieces or my nephew for more than just a week or two.
  • I hate mosquitoes.
  • I love the sound of rain on my roof even as I'm writing this.
  • My chameleon will be happy to see I'm not leaving again this week so she can actually live on my plant, not in her cage.
  • I showed the kids Eight Below today. I love how they get into movies and were cheering really loud when the dogs were found at the end of the movie.
  • I don't want to be alone tonight.