Friday, October 31, 2008

Indian Ocean

I found a cool deal last night. Friends of mine are at the coast and invited me to join them. I didn't think I'd be able to do so, till I looked around on the Internet last night at various Kenyan airlines, and discovered an incredible deal on Jetlink. I got a return ticket to Mombasa for the weekend for a whopping $70. Return, yes.

So, on Saturday morning, I'll be flying to Mombasa. What an unexpected breakaway! I'll get to stay at the apartment they're renting, and will get to spend time with good friends, walk on the beach, possibly dive if time/weather permits, even check out some ministries in that area...

What a treat.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Some favorite phtos from yesterday

The kids LOVED playing, eating lots, and especially making new friends. Victor and Justus wanted to be sure that I took their photo at the end of the day...

Collins and Dennis, two of my little "buddies" from Kipkaren
Friends: Shadrack, Patrick and Gideon

Veronica (the "grandma" at Kipkaren) embraces Felix after the boys' soccer game. The Kipkaren boys gave Ilula a run for the trophy (but still lost in the end)

The Sifuna kids and I ... They stopped by for the day to come and say good-bye to me

In the morning, the bus got totally stuck on the way to Ilula, so at the end of the day, the kids had to walk back to the main road so the bus wouldn't get stuck again. By 8:00, when I went to say good-night to the Ilula kids, many of them were already fast asleep! They had an AMAZING day, and so did I.

Thanks to our friend on the other side of the world who made this day possible through your generous donation.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I caught myself packing my clothes according to color.

Which makes me wonder... No. I'm not OCD.

Actually, there are better things to wonder about.

Like, about the phone interviews I'm having tonight... Or what to pack and what to purge.

And how to get that which I'm packing to wherever God takes me next.

Or how to get Flannel to calm down. She's going insane, knowing something's up since the house is getting emptier and messier at the same time as I'm sorting through what to go where.

Or what I will be saying tomorrow at the staff's good-bye to me. They understand that this is a faith journey for me. They know I'm leaving in obedience to God's leading. But how do I encourage them as I say good-bye? I had an amazing training session with the leadership team this morning. They're a great bunch. Today was the final session of the Strengths training.

I had dinner at Michelle's house tonight as it's her birthday. Juli and I walked home in the pitch dark. Not a star was to be seen as the sky is overcast. Our flashlights were making just enough light for us to see a few steps ahead of us. 

That's like the journey I'm on, I thought. God's giving me grace for the moment. Just enough to trust him for the next step. And the next. One at a time.

"I will cherish the memories of this village," I told Juli. "Of the beauty of the training center lights reflecting on the river. The dim lantern lights from neighbors' homes..."

We heard a low rumble. It honestly sounded like a growl. There are some pretty territorial dogs along the way, and I immediately pulled my daypack from my back as protection. But as I stopped to listen, I realized that it's an airplane that is passing high in the sky. Far above the clouds. We couldn't see it.





Take the next step.

Have faith.

That's the journey.

It truly is an honor to be on this journey with God.

And it's an honor that you're part of the journey...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Tonight, I went to the children's home to share with the children about my leaving. I had shared in church yesterday, but with the service having been more than 3 hours long, I wasn't sure if they had really heard when my time came to share...

Sure enough, when I asked them tonight if they understood what I shared yesterday, they said, "No."

First, we talked about Saturday's upcoming event, about them going to Ilula, how we've already gotten the bull to be slaughtered. They cheered and explained how they wanted to beat Ilula at soccer and volleyball.

Using Matthew 25, I talked to them about how God has given some of them talents to do well at soccer or volleyball, some have talents doing well at school, or at singing... I explained how God had given me talents to write stories and to take photos, but also to teach. I shared how I believed God is calling me to go someplace where I can teach more, but even as I leave, that they will always be a part of me, that I will not forget them...

We recollected the days when I went to pick up some of them from their homes to bring them to the children's home. They laughed as I reminded them of the fun we had, and I assured them again that I will not be able to forget them. I encouraged them again to serve God with whatever gifts He had given them, reminding them that using those gifts will give them joy. And I prayed for them, asking them to please pray for me as I continue trusting God to open the door to the next place where I am to serve him.

Then they asked me to allow them to pray there and then. I knelt in the middle of the room, and they gathered around me, laying hands on me. Imagine . . . almost 100 little ones surrounding one adult. They had their hands all over me, some even on my nose, my cheeks, my ears . . . My hair was being flattened big time.

But none of this bothered me even for a moment.

It. Was. Precious.

They prayed earnestly for God to show me the way, and for God's presence to go before me. And then each and every one came to hug me or shake my hand. Some little ones didn't want to let go. "Come eat with us, Adele."

I couldn't, though. I had committed to having supper with a family in our community. At the next stop, after a wonderful time of playing with that family's children and encouraging the parents in their work, we prayed together, and I walked home, thankful for my flashlight. Without it, I'd be able to see nothing in front of me...

This has been yet another unforgettable day, especially the time with the kids and my colleagues. And despite good-byes being hard, I still have immense peace that this is the right thing to do.

It is time to move on to serve God in a different environment. Far from being a matter of growing tired of this ministry, it's about stewardship. Nothing happened that led me to want to leave. I simply know that I want to be a better steward of God's calling on my life.

And in my case, it would include a move to a different area.

Thank you for praying for me as I continue stepping out in faith.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Very Important Update

My dear friends,

I've been putting off writing this update, hoping that I can provide you with more details. However, even though I don't have all the details yet, I know that I need to share with you as you've been journeying with me for the past three years.

As I have been considering the area of stewardship recently, I started evaluating my own role in ministry, and whether or not I was being a good steward of God’s gifts to me through my role at ELI.

I believe God is calling me in a different direction, an area of more teaching and mentoring, an area where I can use that which God has been teaching me over the past several years in order to challenge others.

As I spent time seeking God's guidance, he lay the following passages on my heart:

2 Tim 1:6
... I remind you to stir up [rekindle, fan into flame] 
the gift of God
 that is within you...

1 Tim 4:14 
Do not 
neglect the gift 
that is within you...

1 Pet 4:10
 Like good stewards
 of the manifold grace of God,
 serve one another
 with whatever gift
 each of you has received.

Isaiah 26:4 
Trust in the LORD 
for in the LORD God 
you have 
an everlasting rock.

Deut. 1:30 
The LORD your God 
who goes before you 
is the one who will fight for you,
 just as he did in Egypt [SA, Taiwan, US, Kenya]
 before your very eyes,
 and in the wilderness [of Kenya],
 where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, 
... until you reached this place.

There are several ministries I am looking into, and I would appreciate your prayers for guidance and clarity.

As I've been praying about the changes (and in particular about resigning prior to having another position!), God lay the picture on my heart of a bridge across a river. Except, the bridge is not yet built. As I step out in faith, I believe God will put the planks in place. In this, I have found solace in passages such as Ps. 18 (specifically verse 36) and Isaiah 43: 1-5a.

This week, I get to pack up my personal belongings at Kipkaren and say good-bye to the staff and children. I'll then go to Ilula, first of all to host the second annual children's day event on Saturday.

Next week, I'll be saying good-bye to our friends in Ilula, after which I'll be driving to Nairobi, from where I will continue the job search. I will visit various ministries and will let you know as soon as I know what's next. I am not only looking in Kenya, but am also interviewing ministries in other places.

Thank you for your support in the past three years, and thank you for your continued support as I step out to follow the One who calls us.

In His service,

Questions you may have:

1. Will you continue to help the Sifuna family?

For the time being, yes. The goal is not to have them be dependent on me, but be self-sufficient. One of you recently sent me a gift which I'll be using to purchase a cow for the family. That would provide them with a daily source of income.

2. What happens to your house?
The house in Ilula has been used for visitors. It will remain the property of ELI, and they will continue to use it to host visitors. The house in Kipkaren will be turned into an office, and the furniture will be dispersed among ELI Kipkaren ministries.

3. What about the car?
While I'm continuing my job search from Nairobi, I will be able to use the vehicle. After that, ELI will decide how they can best put it to use.

4. And Flannel?
I have found a very good home for her with the kids in Ilula. In fact, when I told Hillary and his siblings that their parents had agreed for them to have Flannel, the room exploded with cheers. They will take very good care of her.

5. Who will do your work at ELI?
I've been working with a team of Kenyans to train them as a hospitality team. Other missionaries, too, will be stepping up and helping with the debriefing and challenges of having a team on the ground. Staff at the US office will be taking over the newsletters, while missionaries at Kipkaren will maintain the ELI blogs.

6. What about your support? Do we keep sending support to ELI?
I greatly appreciate your ongoing support. I will let you know as soon as possible where you and I will be going next.

Forty things

I have 23 days left till I'm forty. It's no magical age. Just a fun milestone. It means I'm still really young. :)

The other day, as I've been working on photo and graphics projects for work, and found this silly photo. Danette wasn't really reading this book. We just saw it in a bookstore someday and decided to take a picture.

So, here are some things I'd love to do before/around the time when I turn forty:

  1. Find a new job.
  2. Write supporters about the journey which God has me on.
  3. Pack up all my things in my home in Kipkaren.
  4. Figure out how to ship stuff to my next destination.
  5. Know where my next destination is...
  6. Keep trusting God.
  7. Try not to cry too hard when explaining to the children in Ilula that I'll be leaving.
  8. Enjoy my last few mornings with prayer time on my favorite rock.
  9. Enjoy the stars in the African sky.
  10. Write supporters about the journey which God has me on.
  11. Get back in the groove of doing crunches! (40/day by the time I'm 40 was the goal!)
  12. Read the last book-and-a-half for my previous class.
  13. Complete and turn in my latest paper (which, unfortunately, is overdue thanks to the major changes in my world.)
  14. Complete last-minute ELI tasks.
  15. Finish well.
  16. Make arrangement for visiting several ministries from Nairobi.
  17. Say good-bye at church.
  18. Try not to cry too hard when saying good-bye to the children and to Flannel.
  19. Find a new home for Flannel.
  20. Move all furniture out of my home in Kipkaren.
  21. Buy a cow to leave with the Sifunas so they'd have a source of income.
  22. Take photos at Allison's wedding.
  23. Make sure my car is in good enough shape to drive it to Nairobi!
  24. Get goats for staff to cook as a good-bye gift.
  25. Arrange another children's day event for the kids.
  26. Buy a bull to be roasted for children's day.
  27. Figure out where I'll be on my fortieth birthday...
  28. Keep trusting God.
  29. Be patient.
  30. Celebrate Michelle's 29th birthday.
  31. Go to Rondo for a retreat with God.
  32. Set up an automated response to my ELI e-mail account.
  33. Rest in the fact that God has our very best interests at heart.
  34. Step out in faith.
  35. Enjoy every moment of my last days in rural Africa.
  36. Don't worry about the journey forward. Instead, stay focused on God who's calling me to follow him.
  37. Live fully in the moment.
  38. Make a list of all that still needs to be done.
  39. Have chai at many people's homes as I say good-bye.
  40. Keep trusting God.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

From yesterday's wedding

I won't be uploading photos from yesterday's wedding so the bride and groom can share those with friends themselves. Here are just 3 fun pictures from the day, though.

Lying down on the job... Sometimes, getting just the right picture means you've got to get down and dirty. This is one of the reasons a photographer should be able to wear trousers...

Mursik (sour milk) is a very popular Kalenjin treat, and it's common to find it served at weddings. First, the gourd is burned inside with special charcoal, so when you pour the thick, sour milk, you sometimes see gray lines.

Got milk? Being goofy. I tried a bit of the mursik. I don't mind thick sour milk (it's like yogurt, really), but I didn't care for the charcoal taste.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Some things I discovered today

  • God (still) is good.
  • Our staff are incredibly resilient. I have never been so proud of them! After a community crisis this week, they have pulled together, corrected actions, encouraged one another, and are more committed than ever to follow God's call and seek His vision for our community.
  • Crisis brings people together.
  • Store clerks look at my with very perplexed looks on their faces when a mzungu like me starts asking for "Nubian Pony Tail" hair extensions. (A colleague had asked me to pick some up in town.)
  • Baker's Yard's Vienese loafs come out of the oven at 9 am.
  • It's a good thing I don't live in town, else I might get addicted to the hot loaves of bread.
  • My car's brakes are still not fixed! They jam completely when I park the car and put on the hand brake.
  • I cannot park and not put on the hand brake since the car runs away. Even if it's in gear, yes.
  • When there's dirt in the fuel, it clogs the carburetor.
  • Unclogging it is as simple as removing two valves, sucking the dirt out, and replacing them.
  • (No, I didn't do the cleaning of the valves.)
  • Using plain yoghurt as a substitute for cream in butternut cream soup simply doesn't work as well. But it's not bad, and it's far healthier!
  • Toulouse seems to have had another bleeding incident in my house, possibly another miscarriage. Poor cat!
  • God's Word is (still) so incredibly applicable in this day and age.

I'm heading out for chai and colleagues' homes, and to say hi to the kids. 

I know there's much, much more to discover!

Unexpected sightings

In case any of you are still wondering, there really aren't wild animals roaming around the cities in Africa.

But at the same time, I couldn't help but smile when I headed to Mayfield from the airport on Saturday night and saw giraffes on the side of the road, a zebra road kill on the side of the highway heading into town, and then, tonight, after we dropped off the team, the driver almost hit a Thompson's gazelle on that same highway. 

This time of year, because of the drought, some of the animals migrate closer to the airport, where there's more water, hence the increase in unusual sightings. Nairobi National Park borders onto the airport property. When you take off and land, you can often spot herds of zebras grazing.

I love that about this part of the world.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Only in Kenya (then again, maybe not)

The hot topics on Christian radio in Nairobi this morning was the fact that a pastor threw out all the women in his church yesterday who were wearing trousers. Somehow I think this pastor has completely missed the point. How very, very sad.

I was looking for the article online, but it's not yet posted. But then I found an article about similar events last week in Southern Sudan. But that's another country, and a whole other culture. Plus, it didn't happen in church!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Highs and Lows

The staff at Ilula had invited the Kipkaren staff for a sports day yesterday. It was Moi Day, a day where you're supposed to visit the poor and people in hospitals, I'm told. So the staff from Kipkaren loaded up all of our vehicles and came to visit the staff in Ilula. :)

Though our two campuses are only 60 km (about 40 miles) apart, it is a luxury for staff to be visiting the other campus due to fuel costs as well as the logistics of running full-time ministries such as ours. In other words: The Kipkaren staff were pumped to get away for the day! And the Ilula staff just as pleased to have their friends and colleagues here for the day.

They played volleyball and soccer, ate together, had a trophy ceremony, and simply had fun.

As did I. I didn't play; just hung out with the staff and the visiting team. And when they all left last night, I stayed behind and spent the night reading to the children and visiting more with them.

I've just come back to my home for a short while to wait for someone who wanted to come and meet with me. A visit like that is usually not a simple chat, but usually a request for school fees. Which is hard. I know for a fact that such requests come from places of immense need. It's just hard when I'm the person so, so many people here turn to as a last hope. And my money can only go so far. Plus, even if I (or ELI) had all the money in the world, just giving handouts is not the solution.

But as one friend after another sat before me bringing their plight, my heart ached for them. It's life for many people in Africa. And life here isn't easy. As we prayed together, though, I remembered yet again that Jesus didn't promise us an easy life with him, but that he'll be with us, even as we face challenges.

In that, I found solace.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hmmmm. Coffee!

I shouldn't be drinking coffee this morning. I should be having black, herbal tea instead. But that simply doesn't go with quiet time in the gazebo...

I'm heading outside, then off to Ilula for the day. It's Moi Day here, a national holiday. The Kipkaren staff is playing soccer at Ilula today. I bought two goats to roast as (yet another) early birthday celebration. And as a gift to the staff. I actually like freshly-roasted goat. I even like mtumbo, goat intestines. But today, I won't be having any meat. My system's not yet ready for that.

Tomorrow, I'm flying to Nairobi for a meeting and to buy material for our home-based care offices. Somehow, in the last year or so, I've become ELI's interior decorator. To some extent, I don't mind at all. I believe beauty is part of what God created us for. Except, I really don't think I'm that good at interior decorating. Even less so at flower arranging, yet next week, I'm responsible for what to do with the 500 red and white roses we've ordered for David and Allison's wedding. No vases. Just the flowers. (Ideas are VERY welcome!)

Back to Nairobi: I'll also go and see a tropical disease doctor, so he can tell me what kind of bacteria I picked up that won't be fully killed by Cipro...

So, in short, the schedule for the next few days:

Friday-Saturday pm: Ilula

Saturday-Wednesday am: Nairobi

Wednesday-Friday: Figure out what to do with the flowers...

Saturday: David and Allison's wedding.

Lots and lots and lots of other things are happening in between all of this, in case you're wondering.

Life here simply isn't that simple. It's packed with all kinds of good stuff.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Food Poisoning is No Fun

Warning: Not for sensitive readers. (Not that I'm going to discuss my bodily functions in depth for the world to analyze, but still.)

How I feel today makes up for three years of almost no tummy issues in Kenya.

I cannot remember the last time I felt the way I do today... I made chicken risotto last night. Even took a large bowl of it to neighbors. After I had two bites, I thought I'd better stop eating. It didn't taste off. It was simply one of those times when you know you shouldn't eat more.

The two bites, however, was enough to peg me down completely. I woke up sometime in the middle of the night, and since then, well, let me simply say that I've been very, very thankful for indoor plumbing.

I've been trying to rehydrate myself with very small sips of water. By noon, I was even able to puree two apples and keep those down. For the time being, at least.

If I loose more liquids, our nurse is going to put me on IV.

I've spoken to my neighbors whom I shared the meal with, and they're all fine. Their systems can endure far more since they're not used to refridgerated food. I have a strong suspision we had no power over the weekend, and the chicken I used had thawed and refroze... 

No fun. I've been put on Cipro right away (since I could pretty well identify the cause, knowing it's bacterial) and I'm hoping that'll help.

In the meantime, I've been nappping and listening to stuff on my computer while dozing in and out off sleep. I cannot read (which I need to do!!) due to a headache.

Hopefully my next post will be far more upbeat. And hopefully it won't include a picture of me with an IV hanging on the wall beside me...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Time with God

My favorite place in Kenya for a time of refreshing and of listening to God's voice, is Rondo in the Kakamega rain forest.

This weekend, friends invited me along as they wanted to go to the forest. I didn't think twice about accepting the invite. I've had a lot on my mind lately, and was looking forward to the time in the quiet of the forest.

We had a wonderful time. I got up early every morning to watch the forest come to life while reading the Word and enjoying a cup of coffee. It doesn't get any better than that!

God spoke clearly to my heart; I am glad I took the time to listen.

And nature itself spoke loud and clear, too. I saw some incredible birds, we played cards by the fire at night, ate far too much (they serve afternoon tea with cake, but you also get dessert with lunch and dinner!), and I got a lot of my reading for class done, too.

It was completely worth the bumpy ride there and the very muddy and then bumpy ride back. In fact, the terrible roads rarely come to mind when I think of Rondo...

I'll upload more photos tomorrow. Right now, I need to sleep. We have a team here from Oregon, and my day tomorrow will be packed bit more as I spend time with them.
Cinnamon-chested bee-eater

Colobus monkeys

Blue monkey

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Shoo, fly!

There's this pesky fly buzzing around my bed.

I wish I still had Barra Barra. He'd have caught him in no time!

But somehow I think Flannel would've caught Barra Barra in now time, too.

BTW, she brought me a gift the other morning: my favorite bird, the little malachite kingfisher! Obviously I jumped at her when I saw what she was bringing in. The little bird was stunned for a moment when Flannel let go of her grip on it (only because I had a grip on the back of her neck). And then it flew straight for the window.

Only problem: It flew for the only window with screens, and promptly pegged itself into the screen. She hung there like a prize pinned to a notice board.

Poor thing.

I managed to carefully remove her from the mosquito screen and release her back into the wild, thinking I'd probably never see her again.

She was back the next morning, maybe to thank me.

I haven't seen her since.

Barra Barra and Ms. Malachite would both love to catch the fly.

Flannel, on the other hand, is fast asleep on my lap.

Which makes it hard to go get the cow tail fly swatter from behind my door. Not that it kills flies. It only shoos them away.

I should just get up and put down my mosquito net for the night, and try to sleep early for a change.

Like that would happen!