Sunday, April 29, 2007

Saturday Night

The power just came back on after having been off for 5 hours. The kids were watching Cars and were just getting to the last 20 minutes or so of the movie when there simply was no power. Not here. Not in the entire region. It's funny how dependent you get on power... After visiting various parents at the children's homes, I came home, lit my lantern, made a cup of tea, and worked on a message for tomorrow. I have been asked to preach in Kipkaren. I'd appreciate your prayers for the time at church, that the message won't simply be yet another message, but that God would truly touch our hearts through this message on trusting Him.

Whatever bug I had on Friday seems to have passed. I'm feeling well again. But I'm still trying to catch up on work. It's always an interesting challenge to get things on my plate done while teams are here. I love having them in the area, that's for sure, it's just hard to keep up with the rest of my tasks at the same time, all while remembering to focus on relationships here, not get buried in my task list...

I'll be up very early in the morning to spend time with God, have breakfast, then head to Kipkaren no later than 7. I bought some stuff--including a fridge--for my place in Kipkaren, and with all that in the back of the Land Rover, I'd have to drive slower than usually over the bumps and craters along the way. Pastor Peter wants me there around 8, but I know that's an African 8 since church starts at 9 only. He wants to get the main points of the message from me as he'll be translating. Anyway, I'll be there early.

On a totally different note: The dogs here in Ilula have been going nuts recently. They, along with all the many dogs in the neighborhood, go on a barking frenzy every night. They just did. Will do the same again around 3 or so. I'm not sure what would get them to hush. Me shouting at them or whistling doesn't work.

Ah! It just hit me. I am doing a cultural taboo by whistling at the dogs at night. When one of the visitors was whistling the other evening, he was told that the Kalinjin believe that whistling at night calls snakes... Well, no snakes have showed up when I tried hushing the dogs. Maybe a show like "Kenyan Myth Busters" would do well here. Or then again, not at all.

On that note, it's off to Dreamland.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Thursday Night

I am heading to bed. Today, after we (the visiting team and I) got back from visiting a group of people whose lives have been transformed by God through ELI, I started feeling queezy. My body's aching and my tummy feels unpredictable. It may have been something in the chai or mandazi we had...

I'll upload pictures and stories tomorrow. Right now, I need to head to bed. I took some NightQuil. It should help.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


It's after midnight. I am more than ready to be done for the day. It was a good day. I took the remaining members of the visiting team to Kerio View, a nearby spot where 3 of us had a long brainstorming meeting for marketing ideas for ELI. It was exhilarating. Drove back and I randomly decided to take a different route home, which took us through a piece of very muddy grass. (I didn't realize it would be that way.) My heart was pounding for a while, I was afraid I had made a poor decision, but alas, we had no problem. In fact, I didn't even have to engage low 4WD. I was relieved to be on the regular road again, to say the least. When the team went to serve the children dinner, I made quiche. They came back to my place for a time of planning a children's ministry event for tomorrow. I will be there for a short while as well as go to a care-givers' training. But much of my day will also be spent in meetings. Tomorrow's meetings may be challenging. I'd appreciate your prayers for God's clear guidance, for sensitivity to His voice, for peace amidst challenges.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Weekend Events

Rotich Family
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
Click on the Rotich family's photo to see some pictures of the past few days' events: The HIV/AIDS campaign, the Ronos' 25th wedding anniversary, the children's birthday party, and more.

Mad dash

I never knew one could drive so fast on these gravel roads... There was a miscommunication regarding who was supposed to take one of our guests to the airport this afternoon. I was sitting in my home, working hard at writing stories about recovered alcoholics, when it hit me, it's 5 pm, and Jervaun hasn't come to say good-bye yet. I stepped out of the house to find her and the rest of the team waiting patiently by my car.

"We really have to go!" I told them as we hopped in. There was no time to go and say good-bye to anyone. "Just call Don on my phone and say good-bye. You'll see him in California this weekend."

I drove as fast as was safe while calling my friends at the Aero Kenya desk. "Trier is coming," I told Chacha. "Don't give away her seat!" By the time she left the check-in counter, she walked straight through the boarding gate and onto the plane with NO time to spare! Yikes.

We drove home at a normal pace. Normal for Eldoret rush hour, at least. After dinner, Tim, Tammy and Ellie visited with Samuel, Don and the Ronos about what they've learned the past week or so. Then the three stopped by my house for a short visit.

By the time they left, I could start with my work for the day. Or my computer work, at least. I've been working all day, taking them to the Rehab Center, interviewing some of the men in our program etc etc.

It's close to 2 am. Tomorrow's another full day. I should get some decent rest. I'll post a link to some photos in a separate entry.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I suspect that there might be a rodent in my ceiling. When I built the house, I tried to make sure that there's not a single entryway for an uninvited guests. However, having been gone for a few months may have given some determined creatures the time to make their way into my abode. But only into the ceiling. I shall have to find some poison, and then make sure someone removes the thing before it smells!!! I'm not yet certain that it's there. I've just woken up a few times at night to the sound of a possible invader in my ceiling. But the sound of doves landing on my roof could be mistaken for something closer. This evening, though, while I lay here reading for a while, I heard it again: the sound of itty-bitty nails running accross the ceiling. I don't want it up there. It may chew through the wires that connects me to the world, or through the electric wiring for my 5 ceiling lights. That's the extent of the lighting in my Ilula home.

I went to church at our rehab center this morning. After 8 people shared testimonies, I was asked to share some words. Then came the sermon. I love going to church at the rehab center. The people's testimonies are so powerful, of God bringing freedom.

I drove home via town so I could pick up some vegetables. Picked up a lady on the side of the road; she was asking for a ride. The moment she got into the car, she started telling me how she needs money to send her 8 children to school. (Keep in mind I had never met this woman before. I simply stopped to give her a ride because she asked for it, and since she's a woman, I didn't mind stopping.)

The money issue is one of my biggest challenges in Kenya. It's hard to always know who to help. The Bible teaches that we should always help the poor. I don't know if my faith is simply too small, but I try to help those I know, people in my community. Or I'd buy food for the street kids in town. Wisdom. I need wisdom in so many areas. Don't we all?

Many of the kids stopped by as they came to Sunday school. To them, it's odd to see me sitting on my porch wrapped in a blanket. "Did you sleep here all night, Adele?" Rose asked in Swahili. I find it funny. I explained that I just had the blanket with me to keep warm, that I really do sleep in my house. They saw the chameleon hanging out on the passion fruit vine next to me. I let it go--the chameleon, that is. I decided that it'd be too much of a challenge to drive it back and forth with me everytime I go to Kipkaren. And I can't very well expect someone to feed it whenever I'm gone. Even though some of the kids would love to do that, their moms are deadly afraid of chameleons, so that won't work.

I decided to show the kids the rest of Charlotte's Web today. They really enjoyed it! They had tons of questions. I also have the book, and there's a list of boys who've asked to read it. Hillary asked first, so he's busy reading it now. He and I had a long chat this afternoon. He asked me about some birds he had noticed around our compound. He was very keen to learn the name of each of the birds and to find out more about them. I'd love to take him and some of the other kids to the forest one weekend.

I'm tired tonight. Not entirely sure why. Perhaps just because it's Sunday. I don't like quiet Sunday nights like tonight. It's just tooooo quiet out here. I might go and say good-night to the kids...

Random thoughts on a rainy Saturday night

I just wrote a long update on the team blog. I'd love to upload photos of the past few days, but just realized that my USB cables were left in Kipkaren. I hope this doesn't happen too often now that I'll be juggling life between two places--having the wrong stuff in the wrong place. Oh, well.

So I can't upload a picture of my new chameleon. He is asleep on my plant. Barra Barra passed away recently, so John (who took care of him) found me a new chameleon. This one's the same type (side-striped chameleon), but it's far more yellow than Barra Barra was. And it's not yet as sociable. Nor does it have a name yet.

Some things I learned the past few days:
  • In the late 1800s, the British government disarmed all the tribes of Kenya as they continued invading the country under colonial rule. The Nandi (the people of Kipkaren and a sub-tribe of the Kalinjin) provided the most resistance. In fact, I'm learning a lot about the Nandi Resistance as I'm spending time with my new friends in Kipkaren. One of my colleagues, Richard, told me how his last name (Birgen) means warrior in Nandi. His grandfather was one of the warriors who tried to fight off the British, including shooting the trains with arrows!
  • In 1905, the last Nandi King was assassinated. The Maasai helped the British to kill the Nandi king. I'm told that due to the fact that the Maasai helped the government with killing the man-eating lions of the Tsavo in 1898 (the movie The Ghost and the Darkness was based on these lions' story) as well as with the assassination of the Nandi King, they were never disarmed by the British government.
Other random thoughts/facts:
  • I'm starting to think of more and more Swahili phrases in my mind as I do other things. Now I must just use those phrases whenever/wherever I can--a critical part of language learning.
  • At the campaign yesterday, I volunteered to get tested for HIV/AIDS. It's hard to try and convince others to be tested if you had never been tested. My results were the same is 99% of those tested. Negative. Not that I wondered!
  • Yesterday, I was actually craving Kenyan-style grilled corn, that is field corn grilled on an open fire. On our way back from the campaign, I stopped on the side of the road to buy everyone in the car an ear of freshly-grilled corn. It tastes a bit like burned popcorn (except it's good, while burned popcorn tastes terrible!)
  • It's been raining every single day since I've been home. Many days, there are some heavy rains around 2 pm. It has rained much of the night every night. This makes for some pretty muddy shoes and even muddier roads. It also makes for some challenges in getting laundry dry. I have a retractable clothesline inside my house which helps a lot.
  • Duchess hasn't been seen for a few days now... She may have fallen prey to a snake or an eagle. Or maybe she just found another home. I'm hoping it's the latter.
  • Today, I was at a 25th-wedding anniversary celebration that was supposed to be "starting at 11 and ending no later than 2." I have learned that with functions like these (including weddings and funerals) Kenyan 11 is usually 12 at the earliest. I showed up at 12. I was the second guest. We finally started at 1:30 and finished at 5:45, after 17 speeches. (Yes, I counted.)
  • There's a long-crested eagle that nests close to my home in Kipkaren. I watched it for a while the other afternoon, sitting in the trees really close to me! It's a good thing to have around since it eats rodents. But it'll also eat chickens, so that's not good. The birdlife around our base in Kipkaren is amazing!
  • Today would've been my Ouma's 96th birthday. She passed away 5 years ago, just short of her 91st birthday. She was a wonderful woman who loved Jesus!
On that note, I'm going to pop in a movie and relax for a bit. It's time to switch off this mind of mine.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

HIV/AIDS campaign

Today, I was up at 5 am and have been going full-steam ever since. It's after 8 and we just got home. I need to join the team for dinner. I will write a detailed update tomorrow. In brief:
  • I had my first flat tire today, but it was in an area right by a place that could fix the puncture right away. (And yes, I had a spare, and a jack that worked and everything. My dad trained me well.)
  • Took tons of pictures at the campaign. More than 400 people got tested.
  • I'm tired & sunburnt, but had a good day.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Juggle

This morning, after spending several hours in the office working on projects, I got to go and see my friends at the ELI Drug and Alcohol Rehab Center. I've been back in Kenya for a week now, and the times spent visiting and greeting people is far from over. Many others have invited me over for chai. I may have mentioned this before, but the driving value in Kenyan culture is relationship. (In the US? Entertainment/Leisure) So, unless you spend time visiting people and building strong relationships, your work might as well be in vain. It's simply not received well.

Let me tell you about the Ronos who are the directors of KAA (Kenya Anti-Alcohol). Pastor Philip (or simply, Rono) is younger than I, and for the past 8 years, he's been directing the KAA program. It started in 1999, when a visitor came. The man was a recovered alcoholic, and Rono was asked to take him around and be his translator. During that time, the visitor and others encouraged Rono to start an anti-alcohol ministry. He wanted nothing to do with it since he came from an house where alcohol was a problem. (He himself never was an alcoholic, though.)

But before the visitor left, God spoke clearly to Philip. “You’ll continue this ministry,” God told him. Philip says that he was scared at first, but God taught him and strengthened him. The first group to meet consisted of just 5 men and quickly grew to 18. When he started meetings across the river, there were 38 men who got saved from the grip of alcoholism. He then started meeting with officers at the nearby police station, and soon afterward, a group of soldiers at the Kenya Army Barracks.

Since that time, 1200 men and women have graduated from the Kenya Anti-Alcohol program. “But there are more,” Philip says. “Many of the men and women have helped others get free. I want to continue doing this ministry till the day I die. I have seen the hand of the Lord here. It is so moving to see the reconciliation between families when they come to visit for the first time after their husbands/fathers are sober!”

I love being able to work alongside people like the Ronos. They have an amazing heart to see people set free!

After coming back to Ilula, the team returned from Sudan. They were tired and ready for showers. I listened to their stories till our last visitor for the week arrived, a lady from Saddleback Church named Tammy. After dinner (and the usual post-dinner team meetings) I took Tammy to say good-night to some of the girls.

It was 10 by the time I got back to my home, and then I had to type up information from interviews (such as of the visit with the Ronos) for a project the home office is working on. It's after 11, and I'm ready to start heading to bed. I have a 5:30 am prayer commitment with Ruth, one of the moms at the home, 7:30 breakfast with the team, and then we're off to Kipkaren.

In Kipkaren, I get to track down the last of the staff whom I need to interview/photograph and will see what other opportunities God brings. If nothing (and if the team doesn't need my company), I have a very long list of tasks to tackle, including working on learning Swahili.

Friday we'll probably leave for Moi's Bridge/Natwana no later than 7:30 and we'll be at the AIDS campaign the ENTIRE day (and into the night), where I'll be taking photos and praying for those being tested.

I'll head back to Ilula early on Saturday morning, attend Laban and Angelina Rono's 25th wedding anniversary celebrations, whereafter I'm putting on the first-ever Ilula Birthday Bash. Since there are 100 kids, it's hard to celebrate birthdays. The moms had mentioned to me last year that they'd love to do a monthly celebration, but they're not sure how they can do it. We visited about it again last week and have come up with the plan to celebrate the first Saturday every month. Ruth (a mom) is baking a big cake. I've got cards for the 35 kids who've had their birthdays from January till April. And then we'll watch Happy Feet. Or Cars. Or Charlotte's Web. Not sure yet. The boys want to see "the movie about the cars that talk." The girls want to see "the one about the pig that can talk." I'm thinking I'm going to have to show them something else, just so no-one wins! :) And then I need to remember not to say much when the kids ask me what other movies I brought back... :)

In case you're concerned about me showing the kids movies and basing my relationship with them just on that, it's far from it. I was hesitant to start showing movies again right away, but the parents asked me to please show the children movies whenever I have time on Saturday afternoons. They say that the teachers at school have been commenting how good our children's English is, and what amazing stories they come up with for their creative writing assignments.

I've started showing the children one or two pictures I've taken of birds in the area. My goal is to create an awareness with them of the intricacies of God's creation, and show them what to look out for in identifying different birds. I'm hoping at least a few of them will realize what a wealth of bird life they have around them, and who knows, perhaps they might grow up to be game wardens in Kenya's parks. At least they'd know about the birds in this area, I hope. :)

Anyway, it'll probably be Saturday evening before I get to connect online.

As you can see, the lines between work and leisure are very blurred in my world, especially when teams are here. It's not like you can walk out of a late-night meeting or choose not to show up for early breakfast.

I'm babbling. It's late. I still need to pack for my 2 days in Kipkaren.

Lala salama. Or have a blessed day, wherever you may be.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"How does one surf, Adele?"

For those who know the Rotich boys by now, the question undoubtedly came from my buddies, Hillary and his brothers. I was over at the Children's Home this afternoon to get some pictures of the parents for a project the US office is working on. The boys stopped me and had questions about everything from surfing to skateboarding, from being buried in snow to dogs that are trained to find people who were caught in avalanches.

"Where did you learn about all this?" I asked the boys.

"Oh, there's this book in the library... So, if someone jumps with a skateboard, is there glue on the board?"

Boys are boys, no matter where you are in the world.

I'm obviously back in Ilula. Was supposed to be in Kipkaren till Thursday morning. However, I've been asked to take the Sudan team to Kipkaren on Thursday and join an AIDS campaign on Friday, so I returned to this home today to work on projects on this side. I think it's going to make for an interesting juggle every week!

I thought I'd share a passage with you that has spoken to my heart recently, then get back to the photo projects I'm working on.

Psalm 18 (The Message)

1-2 I love you, God— you make me strong.
God is bedrock under my feet,
the castle in which I live,
my rescuing knight.
My God—the high crag
where I run for dear life,
hiding behind the boulders,
safe in the granite hideout.

3 I sing to God, the Praise-Lofty,
and find myself safe and saved.

4-5 The hangman's noose was tight at my throat;
devil waters rushed over me.
Hell's ropes cinched me tight;
death traps barred every exit.

6 A hostile world! I call to God,
I cry to God to help me.
From his palace he hears my call;
my cry brings me right into his presence—
a private audience!

7-15 Earth wobbles and lurches;
huge mountains shake like leaves,
Quake like aspen leaves
because of his rage.
His nostrils flare, bellowing smoke;
his mouth spits fire.
Tongues of fire dart in and out;
he lowers the sky.
He steps down;
under his feet an abyss opens up.
He's riding a winged creature,
swift on wind-wings.
Now he's wrapped himself
in a trenchcoat of black-cloud darkness.
But his cloud-brightness bursts through,
spraying hailstones and fireballs.
Then God thundered out of heaven;
the High God gave a great shout,
spraying hailstones and fireballs.
God shoots his arrows—pandemonium!
He hurls his lightnings—a rout!
The secret sources of ocean are exposed,
the hidden depths of earth lie uncovered
The moment you roar in protest,
let loose your hurricane anger.

16-19 But me he caught—reached all the way
from sky to sea; he pulled me out
Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
the void in which I was drowning.
They hit me when I was down,
but God stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!

20-24 God made my life complete
when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together,
he gave me a fresh start.
Now I'm alert to God's ways;
I don't take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works;
I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,
and I'm watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

25-27 The good people taste your goodness,
The whole people taste your health,
The true people taste your truth,
The bad ones can't figure you out.
You take the side of the down-and-out,
But the stuck-up you take down a peg.

28-29 Suddenly, God, you floodlight my life;
I'm blazing with glory, God's glory!
I smash the bands of marauders,
I vault the highest fences.

30 What a God! His road
stretches straight and smooth.
Every God-direction is road-tested.
Everyone who runs toward him
Makes it.

31-42 Is there any god like God?
Are we not at bedrock?
Is not this the God who armed me,
then aimed me in the right direction?
Now I run like a deer;
I'm king of the mountain.
He shows me how to fight;
I can bend a bronze bow!
You protect me with salvation-armor;
you hold me up with a firm hand,
caress me with your gentle ways.
You cleared the ground under me
so my footing was firm.
When I chased my enemies I caught them;
I didn't let go till they were dead men.
I nailed them; they were down for good;
then I walked all over them.
You armed me well for this fight,
you smashed the upstarts.
You made my enemies turn tail,
and I wiped out the haters.
They cried "uncle"
but Uncle didn't come;
They yelled for God
and got no for an answer.
I ground them to dust; they gusted in the wind.
I threw them out, like garbage in the gutter.

43-45 You rescued me from a squabbling people;
you made me a leader of nations.
People I'd never heard of served me;
the moment they got wind of me they listened.
The foreign devils gave up; they came
on their bellies, crawling from their hideouts.

46-48 Live, God! Blessings from my Rock,
my free and freeing God, towering!
This God set things right for me
and shut up the people who talked back.
He rescued me from enemy anger,
he pulled me from the grip of upstarts,
He saved me from the bullies.

49-50 That's why I'm thanking you, God,
all over the world.
That's why I'm singing songs
that rhyme your name.
God's king takes the trophy;
God's chosen is beloved.
I mean David and all his children—

Monday, April 16, 2007

Greetings from Kipkaren

I'm in Kipkaren, my new second home. The kids welcomed me this afternoon in the pouring rain. Almost all the regulars were gone for the day, so I headed to my temporary room (I was later brought to my house) and then went to visit with people at the children's home as well as with my neighbors, the Davis family.

Their kitten, Duchess, had in the meantime adopted me. She followed me around like a shadow, and the Davises already agreed that we can borrow her so she can catch rodents at my place. (I know, the rodents idea sounds terrible, but it's more of a reality out here.) Plus I know she'll just come and visit sometimes.

I finally made myself at home in the gazebo by my house, overlooking the Kipkaren River, where I started working on The Patriarchs study. When David Tarus, Allison and some visitors came, and I took the visitors to see the bridge ELI had built years ago. Visited with the guests over dinner and then headed to my new home.

I am looking forward to connecting with a
contractor tomorrow so we can make the place my own. I'll definitely paint the ceiling white to get the place lighter. I may want to fill in all the holes with cement so no rodents can come in, and have outlets put in. We're supposed to get electricity by the end of this month. Right now, we have solar power for part of the evening.

Lots of work to be done, but at least I don't have to build an entire house, for which I'm grateful. And I'm especially thankful to move into a place where there's an indoor bathroom and kitchen. This was an unexpected blessing.

Tomorrow morning, I hope to head to prayer rock for my time with God (if it doesn't rain--else I'll be in the gazebo). Then head back for a quick shower, breakfast with the team, staff meeting, and then I'll be going to visit some pastors in the area.

As I'm sitting here writing, I can hear lots and lots of crickets, frogs, and the odd night bird. The bird life in this area is amazing! I've already noticed a number of birds I had never seen here before, and can't wait to look them up when I get my hands on my "Birds of East Africa" book.

Speaking of birds, I've decided to show the kids at Ilula a picture of one or two birds prior to every movie we see, and see if they can tell me what kind of bird it is. I'd love to create in them an awareness of the prolific bird life around them. Who knows, perhaps some of them will grow up to be wardens with Kenya Wildlife Services!

On that note, I'm heading to bed. I've been fighting jet lag and hope I can finally get a good night's rest.

Click here to see more pictures of my new place in Kipkaren.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What now?

A song that's spoken to my heart in the recent months is that of Steven Curtis Chapman, "What now." He sings,

I saw the face of Jesus
in a little orphan girl.
She was standing in a corner
on the other side of the world.

And I heard the voice of Jesus
gently whisper to my heart,
"Didn't you say you wanted to find me?
Well here I am. Here you are.

So what now?
What will I do
now that you've found me?
What now?
What will you do with this treasure you've found?

I know I might not look
like what you've expected.
But if you remember
this is right where I said I would be.
You've found me.
What now?"

I saw the face of Jesus
down on 16th Avenue.
He was sleeping in an old car
while his mom went looking for food.

And I heard the voice of Jesus
gently whisper to my soul,
"Didn't you say you wanted to know me?
Well here I am
and it's getting cold.

So what now?
What will I do
now that you've found me?
What now?
What will you do with this treasure you've found?
I know I may not look
like what you've expected.
But if you remember
this is right where I said I would be.
You've found me.

So come and know me.
Come and know me now.
Come and know me now....

What will I do
now that you've found me?
What now?
What will you do with this treasure you've found?
I know I may not look
like what you've expected.
But if you remember
this is right where I said I would be.
You've found me.
What now?"

The Faith of Children

The kids have been asking for a year to see the Jesus film again. Today, they showed up with excitement that filled the dining hall. All was well until the first time someone hit Jesus. The entire group let out a gasp. Every time they saw Jesus being mistreated, they cowered, little Faith covering her head and tears welling up.

Afterwards, I asked the kids to gather in groups of 3 or 4 to pray together and thank Jesus for what he has done for us. It was moving to see almost 100 kids praying fervently!

I have been visiting with the parents about their vision for the kids and how they hope to accomplish their dreams for the children. Wondering if it's the best thing to show the kids movies, the parents immediately explained how teachers at the school have been commenting on the kids' creativity.

"It is good for the children to see how others talk, how they handle situations," Nelson told me this morning. One of his boys, Hillary, had been chosen to not only attend a World Vision Youth Camp at the end of this month, but to be on the Youth Planning Committee for the camp. He also explained how, during the recent Guardians' Day, Hillary gave an impromptu speech, exhorting guardians to take good care of other children under their care. "Even grown men were wiping tears after Hillary's speech," Nelson said proudly.

The kids know I'll be leaving for Kipkaren tomorrow. It's interesting to see how they compare themselves with their friends in Kipkaren. They want to know if those kids will also get Peeps. (Yes, they will.) Will they also see movies? (No, they won't.) When exactly will I be back? Why do I have to go? Where will I live?

Oh, the never-ending stream of questions... I love their curiosity, though. It makes me smile.

My Eden

My garden: northern end
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
I was thrilled to find that my garden's looking great! Everything's grown a lot despite the lack of rain we've had. The rainy season has officially started and since I've been home, we've had a good number of cloudbursts. Click on the picture to see more.

Things you don't want to hear

A comment from a colleague today, "Eh, Adele, you have really gained in the US." As in, gained weight. It's not considered rude in Africa to say something like that. It's more a compliment, as if to say, "It is clear that you didn't struggle for food..."

Fortunately I had decided prior to the comment already that I'll be watching what I eat. It's hard, though, when it's culturally offensive to decline food, even if it means you're having a second dinner.

Friday, April 13, 2007


I'm drenched. When I set out earlier this evening to make the rounds, greeting people whom I hadn't yet visited, I didn't notice any clouds. But I should know better. The rainy season has started, and though it hadn't yet rained much here, people have been praying for rain as they've started planting their crops.

Anyway, I first stopped by the Teimuges' home. Despite the fact that I had already had dinner at my home, I was invited to eat again. It's impolite to decline, so I had just a little slice of ugali and black nightshade (like very strong spinach). And a cup of chai, of course. Then I headed out to read to the East Side kids. (I had read to the West last night.)

The kids raved about the peeps again and wanted to make double sure we'll get to see the story of Jesus tomorrow. They had seen the Jesus Film for Kids in December 05 and have been asking about it ever since! No-one knew where the DVD was, so I purchased a new copy in the US. You should see how excited the kids are that they'll see the story of Jesus again! It's amazing! But they're also already asking what they'll be seeing next week. We'll see. Perhaps Charlotte's Web.

Anyway, while I was reading, it started raining harder and harder. I walked home as fast as I could in the dark (no moon, no flashlight).

It really is good to be back. I'm so trying to focus on all the things I had decided during my "recompression time." I've not gotten much work done yet, but that doesn't matter. The driving value in Kenyan culture is relationships. I can do my job well, but unless I spend quality time visiting with people--even having a second dinner if need be--my labors would be in vain.

Please pray that I'll get over jet lag really quickly. I slept very well my first night, probably because I was so sleep depraved by the time I got home. Last night, I finally fell asleep around 5:30! I'm ready to head to bed soon, though, hoping for a better night's rest.

Lala salama, friends. Sleep peacefully.

Peeps for the peeps

I'm sitting here, listening to the sound of a chorus of crickets again. I'm home indeed. Earlier tonight, as I walked home from reading to the kids (and answering gazillion questions), the croaking of the frogs was like a loud song of praise to their Creator. It made me smile. As did the kids' giggles when I placed a Peep next to their plates at dinner tonight...

"Here's some chicken to eat with your ugali," I joked.

"What is that, Adele?"

"It's a little chicken."


"It's yellow. That one is pink. Can I eat it?"

"Finish your food first..."

"Adele, look at Obed's chicken. It doesn't have a head." (Of course Obed had already bitten off the head of his little peep.)

Later, as they were still licking their fingers to get the last bit of sugar off, the kids swarmed me for thank-you hugs.

"Thank you for thinking of us, Adele," Hillary said in his accent that's becoming more American by the day.

It struck me again how thankful the kids are for something as small as a single peep. It's new. It's sweet. It's fun. And it shows that I thought of each one of them.

I spent most of my day visiting with my Kenyan colleagues (and drank lots of chai, of course.)

Tomorrow, a team leaves for Sudan. I wish I could go with them but wouldn't want to leave so soon again, so I'm thrilled to have time to start working on the tasks on my rapidly-growing to-do list.

It's good to be back.

Oh, before I forget--I made a quick trip into town to take someone to the doctor and pick up a package at the post office. I've written about Posta Kenya before, and today I was surprised to be asked to step into the office and take a seat. Next, I was led down the hall to a bare office marked with CUSTOMS painted on the door and a man in a suit and tie sitting behind a desk. Somehow, it felt a little like a scene from a strange movie. The post office clerk walked up with my package and promptly opened it for me! I had to unpack everything while the expressionless man with his dark tie inspected item after item. (It was a package sent by friend for my birthday and it had arrived while I was gone.) There was a beautiful Willow Creek statue of two girls praying, a coffee mug and some packages of Crystal Light. Fortunately, the stern clerk decided the gifts were worthless and I didn't have to pay taxes in order for the box to be released to me. (I, on the other hand, know it's far from worthless and am thoroughly blessed by the care package.)

Packages I've received this far have always been just envelopes or at most a flat box. (Oh, the guy would've had a blast charging me when my friend Nina sent me 20 DVDs for the kids! Fortunately, it was a flat box, so he didn't get to see what I got.) I can just imagine what absolute shock it would be if USPS decided to start inspecting all packages!

It's late. Time to go crawl in. Morning comes quickly.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Home, sweet home

I'll tell more about it all tomorrow, but I just wanted to say, I'm home. It was 54 hours from when I left home in Iowa till I walked into my home tonight after dinner. I lit a bunch of candles to get the smell of insect killer out (the person who cleaned the house must've emptied out a can on spiders...) and started unpacking. I'm about halfway done but can longer think straight.

It was pure delight to step out of the minibus tonight and go and hug every child. There was a team with me (they were supposed to be en route to Sudan but their trip is delayed till Friday) so I couldn't spend a lot of time hugging each kid, but afterwards, they all came and hugged me and told me things like,
Adele, I have my own kinyonga, Adele! (that's a chameleon)
Adele, did you bring the Jesus movie?
When will we see a movie? Tonight?
Adele, we really missed you.
Adele, will you give me the keys for your car so I can drive? (Yeah, right!)
Did you see my sponsor in America?
Will you read to us tonight?
How is your family?
We received your letters, Adele. Did you receive ours?
When will you come to visit us, Adele?

Some snuck back in line for another hug and grinned from ear to ear when I noticed! Others grinned just as big when I noticed their new "big kid teeth" all grown into a beautiful smile, or how much taller some have become.

Can't wait to hang out with them in the morning.

But right now, I need to call it the day and head to bed. During my travels, I slept very, very little. I am praying I won't wake up at an odd hour with jetlag.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

From London

not sure if this will work--i've never actually posted a blog update via e-mail. however, the small internet kiosk at heathrow won't let me access blogger, so i'm relying on the e-mail update system i had set up a year or so ago and never used. if you can read this, the address was obviously correct. (it wasn't--I'm posting this from Kenya)
it's been a long and interesting journey so far. highlights:
  • sitting next to a college girl on the flight to chicago who'd never flown alone, so i ran through o'hare with her to try and get her on her connecting flight, resulting in being more aware than usual of muscles that are rarely used (i no longer run too much...)
  • sitting between two delightful people on the flight to LA. i actually rarely talk to people on flights, so visiting much of the way to LA was unusual for me. 'twas a good thing, though.
  • i don't like LAX. it's probably my least favorite international terminal! there's nothing to do and very few outlets to plug in your computer to recharge! i spent 4 hours working on a project and met a couple from taiwan. they were sitting by an outlet, so i had to ask them if i could plug in my computer by their feet...
  • long flight to london! i got an isle seat so i could get up whenever i needed, but the two girls to my left got up far more than i did! felt like everytime i managed to doze off, one of them would want to switch seats with another of the 10 or so people in their extended family so they could visit. needless to say, i was happy to get to london!
  • hung out with melissa, a colleague from taiwan who's from here. she's since left to go to a small group event, so i'm heading to my gate to see if i can find an outlet yet again and get my computer and ipod recharged.
just one more flight of about 8 hours, then one 6-hour drive, then i'm home! yeah! can't wait to see the kids. i packed enough peeps for all 200 kids. when i checked in my luggage in cedar rapids, they asked if it's full of easter eggs, not realizing that i really did have enough easter candy for 200 kids... :) since my layovers have all been long (4 hours in chicago, 5 hours in LA, 6 hours in london) i'm trusting my luggage will be arriving in nairobi with me.
will post an update when i can once i'm safely in ilula and have said all my hellos.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Heading out

I'm at the Eastern Iowa Airport, where everyone seems to walk a little bit taller today with pride for Zach winning. (Those of you who don't know who Zach Johnson is, he won the Master's yesterday. That's golf. And he's from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.) I love how open he was yesterday about his faith and giving Jesus Christ all the glory for his victory.

OK, so enough about golf. I'm sitting at the gate, waiting to board. We now have free, wireless Internet access here, so I'm posting a final update.

This has probably been one of the least stressful departures I've ever had. By Saturday afternoon, I had my bags packed and by the door. On Easter Sunday, after getting back from dinner at the Meyers' home, I put my bags in the car. Went to Sara Howard's home for some apple pie, then stopped by Pam's place to say good-bye. (Jodee came over in her PJs to visit, too. Nice thing about neighbors.)

By this morning, I could just throw my sheets in the wash, say good-bye to the pets, and head to the airport.

The benefit of flying out of a ssmall airport, they don't even weigh the bags. So though I meticulously packed to be within the 50lbs limit, I threw in some books from my backbreaking carry-on at the last moment.

OK, I've GOT TO board. The line's getting short.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


The speaker at the Good Friday prayer breakfast, Star Parker, said something I've been thinking about for it's profound truth.

"Choice looses
its meaning
if it doesn't matter
what you choose."

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Happy Good Friday

Hmmm. Sushi!
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
I'm in the middle of packing. Took a few hours to visit with Nan and ended up making some sushi with her. Click on the picture to see how easy it is to make sushi.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I was craving good sushi the other day and decided that it seems easy enough to make it myself. (Yes, you can find sushi in Iowa. It's just not as good as the stuff you can find in parts of the world where there really are more Asian people.)

Making sushi, it turns out, really isn't that hard at all. Amazingly, I found seaweed at Target and sticky rice at Hy-Vee. Those, I'd say, are the critical ingredients to making sushi. I guess I could've searched for some recipes, but what's the fun in that? So I just made it like I knew I'd like it: a thin layer of rice, just a touch of wasabi, some avocado, cucumber and crab, roll it nice and tight, cut into bit-size chunks, and voila! Sushi's on the table. Just add soy sauce and some friends to share it with!

Hmmm. I think I'm going to have friends bring some sticky rice to Kenya when they come to visit. And seaweed, of course. It'd be fun to share sushi with my Kenyan friends...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

In Memory of Barra Barra

My pet chameleon has passed away. How, I don't know. I just got a message from the family who took care of him, saying, "Barabara was replaced by another one after it developed some health problems."

That's it. Nothing more. I can't help but wonder what caused his death. But I won't ask too many questions. I don't want to make my petsitting friend feel worse.

Barra Barra was probably the easiest pet I had ever had. Didn't shed. Didn't cause allergies. Didn't cost me a thing. He was a great conversation piece, and a master flycatcher. He could zip his tongue out faster than any creature I had ever seen. And then reel it in just as fast. He kept my house free of flies.

I'm not sure how I feel about the new chameleon. It's most likely one that's been living in the bottlebrush tree by my front door for the past year. Will have to see if he's as tame as Barra Barra had become.

Such is life.