Friday, December 31, 2010

The Things They Do for Fun!

There aren't many times when I am at a loss for words.  I love the song in Charlotte's Web that says, "isn't it great that I articulate!"  However, while on deputation or visiting friends in the states, there is always one question posed to me that shuts me up every time. (tho momentarily only).

Always, in the course of visiting our friends or churches where we talk about life in Kenya, someone comes up to me and says, "Sooo, what do your kids do for fun?"  Then the dummy moment hits me. My mouth drops open, my mind is full of an avalanche of adventures, projects, tasks, and other creative moments.  I stand there like an idiot until finally I blurt out, "EVERYTHING!"

Before you think me the only one who experiences this, let me just justify that I have talked to many, many other missionaries who have this same question posed to them.  Tho I can't say that they are as dumb about answering as I am,  I can say its a tough question to answer unless you have a day or so...or a blog!  So, I decided to go back through all the photos we had, and pick a few that says it all.  Granted some are dated, and I've posted those because even tho they continued do those things, I stopped taking pictures.  In doing this little task down memory lane, two things came to me:
 One, most of the time they are doing the really nutsy stuff, there are friends involved. Thus proving that it must take a group to make up such crazy stuff.
 The second thing I learned is that I am so thankful that I wasn't watching and the Lord was!

So...what do they do for fun?

Make Stuff!
Brenden does pottery, under the close eye of his tutor.

Ben made his own surf board

Ben and Adam's homemade skim boards!

Part of a mural Brenden just finished.



No body hikes without a guide..pick a guide!

I hope I haven't bored anyone with too many pictures.   There is a lot more they do, and it may be a Part 2. But for now, let me end with one more.
Getting a kiss of thanks for saving a little life!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tales from the Road Less Traveled

Many of your reading this already know all about what it takes to get to our house.  You've done the rainy season slog, and the dry season "suffocation by dust" trek, just to visit us!  Thank you! For those of you who haven't, your imaginations will enjoy this little foray.

Jon's Community Health staff are a very dedicated lot.  They have traveled all around maasai land on motorcycles (pikis) in order to do their work.  I want to share some of their stories first.

As with all organizations, there are rules.  Community Health staff are given a few rules in regards to use of the pikis they use. One of them, is that they are not allowed to carry any passengers.  One day,  Moses came to work looking like he needed to confess something.  He told Jon that he had broken the no rider rule.  Then he told him why. 
 As Moses was going home from work late one afternoon, he was coming up out of a dry river bed when he saw a young man just standing in the road.  This man was not walking or moving.  Why? There was a lioness circling him, getting closer and closer! Moses said to Jon, "I really shed tears, as this man was my cousin!"  Moses then said he quickly rode up to the cousin, the cousin jumped on the piki, and they took off!  "So." Moses confessed, " I had to break that one rule, and I am very sorry!"

The bane of motorcycle riders in this area is the number of punctures they get with the tires.  It seems like they are always changing and patching tires because of the heavy thorns that lay all around and the very rough rocky terrain. 
 One day, Elijah told us this story.  He had stopped on a river bank because he had to change a puncture on his piki....again!  As he was finishing up, picking up his tools and packing up, he heard a hissing sound.  Disgusted, he thought he had another flat tire and set about setting out his tools to fix it.  As he knelt down to check the tire, he happened to look up, and there, not six feet away from him, was a lioness stalking him and heading right for him! The hissing sound he heard was her breathing!!  He said he threw his tire tools at her and she went a short distance away, giving him enough time to jump on his bike and take off!  He sheepishly told Jon, "So, I 'll have to go by and get my tools tomorrow!"

Let me tell you about one of the best excuses I have ever heard for not coming to work. The lady who comes to my house to help me is a dear lady.  I have known her many, many years.  Right after she began working for me,  she did not show up for work as usual.  She lives about 2 miles away, over the river and up the hill from my house.  Admittedly, I was a bit perturbed that she didn't send word that she was not coming, because a few from her village work here as well.  But no one came.
The next day, she showed up on time.  When we asked why she didn't come, she told us this great story.
She said that she and some other ladies had TRIED to come to work, but as they came down the path to the river, elephants were in the road.  The ladies were then chased by the elephants back up the hill.  All day the ladies tried at various times to reach the river!  Only to be chased back by the elephants.  She told us that the elephants stayed there all day, as if it were a game to them and would not let them come down.  So, if you ever need an excuse to give your boss about delaying to work...well, this one won't work!

Here is a last one.  A photo essay of our last trip home..enjoy!

Having a trailer didn't help, but Jon mastered it like the pro he is!

Brenden, always ready and willing to use his sword (panga)!

That's funny, the wheel is moving, the vehicle is NOT!

A right to be proud! He got us home safe and sound!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nairobi-More questions than answers!

Why is SHE carrying the load, and the donkey has the day off?

If you could hear this picture!

Donkeys by the hundreds, yet this very loaded donkey cart was being pulled by ONE guy...why??

I always love going to Nairobi! It's extrovert land at its best.  I get to watch everyone living their lives.  People in Kenya live their lives outside.  They cook outside, they play outside, fight outside, and even sleep outside-(tho I think the latter is accidental sometimes).  I get to see it as I ride in the safe capsule of the Land Rover - driven by Jon.  I get to see the roadside dramas as he deals with the dramas IN the road!

 There are a lot of tremendous juxtapositions going on.  Here are a few of the things I saw and the questions I had...unanswered of course.
A man in a black suit, shiny shoes and terrific tie in deep conversation with a man sitting in the sewage drainage ditch. The man in the ditch was wearing ragged clothes, had wild angry hair and both men were laughing and having a great time.  My question?  What did they find in common, and can I talk too?

A lady walking down hill to a water kiosk, wearing a beautiful silk dress and high heels. She was carrying in EACH hand two, not one, plastic 5 gallon water containers.  My unanswered question: Why are you dressed like that to get water, and HOW are you going to get 20 gallons of water back up hill in heels?

Other questions I had: "Why are you even ON a bike in this traffic?"
"Why is the goat on the bike and you are not?"
"Where can I get a shirt like that?" (Body by Ben and Jerry's)
"What circumstances would ever prevail that one would let their 4 year old walk home along a heavily trafficked four lane highway?"
"Who told you that avoiding a pot hole on your side of the road and driving into mine was okay?"
"Is it really acceptable that you swerved to keep from hitting a dog and almost hit me?"
"How can you keep from going out of your mind every day knowing you have to cross that dangerous road at the end of ever working day?"
"Why do people beat donkeys with baseball bat sized sticks, don't you know donkeys are made to be LED or ridden, not driven?"
"Why are you staring at me pushing a stroller on the sidewalk, when you are carrying a live turkey in downtown Nairobi?" (this is very old question-as you see, I stock up on them)
"Did you know its really not nice to tell me its out of stock just because you don't want to go get it for me?"
"I know you know this, but did you know you can't fool someone by putting jelly on a hot dog and saying its ketsup even if both ARE red?"

So, there it is.  Unanswered questions. Thats why I like Nairobi.  Always the potential for more things that mystify me, and make me want to come back ...only to visit tho.  Going home  always brings a great sigh of relief.  Not that home doesn't bring its own form of unanswered questions, but that's another post, another day.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Things that go bump in the night...

Friends we know are always in danger of hearing our bush stories.  I haven't seen any run for cover when we start in with telling of the many animal encounters we've had out here, but there is always tomorrow.   We learned last week, that everything that goes bump in the night out here, is not always an animal.

We have a maasai man who is our night guard.  I really like him, but I am not totally sure why we have him work here.  Tho its been explained to me that he can stay up all night and wake us up if any animals come around.  So, he comes about 6 in the evening, makes a fire, puts the dogs in the dog house and settles in...not sleeping!

So, we were very surprised  one evening at about 9 oclock when we heard him knocking on the door.  Jon answered the door, and the guard said,
"I really don't know what to do.  This lady just came in right out of the bush!  I think she's crazy!"
Well, was she EVER!!
No one goes out at night here unless its an emergency.  After dark, other things take to the bush, and its just not safe to be out.
We brought her into the house as it was starting to rain.  As soon as she walked in the door, she said, "I'm hungry, give me food."
Well, all I had really handy was beanie weanies and pita bread!  She didn't care.  She sat at the table and began to eat.
We had no idea who she was, or where she had come from. Neither had the guard.  So we asked the guard to go up and call Johnstone Twala, the manager of the agro project.  As we were waiting for him to come..
Would he ever get here!!!
...the crazy lady began to talk to others.  Not us. But people we could not see.  She would whisper, talk or just shake her head at them.  At one point she looked at me and said, in a whisper. "If you inject me, I will give you a goat!"  (maasai's like to have injections if they are sick).
She would at times stop eating, grab her head as if she were having an ice cream headache and shake her head in pain.

Jon would say to her, "Peace, be at peace.  Eat your food!" She would comply quietly for a while.
Jon poured some honey on her pita bread, and she informed him, "I am the owner of all honey."
She told us that someone in a village had given her tea in her gourd but it was gone, and she had lost a shoe in the bush someplace. (she took the other one off and put it on the table! ha )
After a while she began to tell us that she wanted to go home, to her husband, her three kids and her 47 cows.  So we tried to get her to talk about them.

Finally Johnstone came!! He walked into the house and she greeted him by name!  We were so relieved! He did know her.  She had wandered from home, about six miles away through thick heavy bush.  Johnstone said she really did NOT have a husband, kids or cows.  It was very, very sad.
He said he would talk her home in the Landcruiser, but when she got out to the vehicle, she was scared to get in. It took a lot of coaxing to get her in.
Later , Johnstone told us that when he got to her village, she really got angry that he had taken her there. She yelled at him asking why he didn't take her to her real home!
One of the reasons we don't go out at night.
Jon and I just don't know how she survived this long.  Not only do maasai have a fear of crazy people,  but they really don't take care of them well, if at all. But she looked okay.  She didn't look abused or malnourished.  We are just scared she may wander back into the bush and next time not find a homestead to go to. Pray with us that the people of her village will be diligent to keep her home, where she is safest.

These guys are known for just being mean and cranky!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Little Girl and A Drop of Blood

One of Jon's jobs, (he has three!) is Coordinator of Maasai Community Health.  He oversees the mobile VCT (Volunteer Counseling and Testing for HIV/AIDS) clinics.  James, one of the two counselors, told us this story.

James and Jackson had gone to a market day to do a mobile VCT clinic.  Usually, these market days are busy ones in the shops as people from all over the area come to buy, trade and visit.  The guys usually set up a tent in an out of the way place.  People wander in either out of curiosity or need.

On this day, three ladies came into the tent with a small girl about 6 years old.  The little girl was their niece.  They told the story of how the girl's mother, father and two siblings had died of AIDS.  They were taking care of the little girl now, but feared for her health as well.  These women meant well, but the misguided stigma placed on AIDS sufferers was evident in their care of her.  She was not allowed to leave the dark hut, she was not allowed to have any human contact, except for the one who brought her food.  She was not allowed to go to school or have any friends.  It seemed AIDS had claimed another victim in this girl.  The aunties wanted to have her tested.

James did the test, placing a small drop of blood on a test strip, and the wait began for the results.  I imagine that eternity over eternity must have passed in the 15 minutes it took to get the results.
The test was negative for HIV.
James told of the  pandemonium that followed! The aunties rushed to the girl picking her up, kissing her and chattering all at once in excitement.
"We can send her to school!"
"She can have friends now!"
"She will play outside with her cousins!"
Imagine that little girl's freedom! One little drop of blood, and she was released to live like a normal happy 6 year old!
I can  just imagine those ladies walking home with their niece across the plains, chattering and making plans for her!  So excited for the potential that lay before their newly redeemed charge.

Sunday School Chaos

Sunday, October 31, 2010

In the beginning . . .

I won't be going back to the VERY beginning.  That is, when Jon and I first came to Kenya 23 years ago. However, one has to start somewhere when telling a story.

For years, friends have been telling me that I need to write down all our experiences.  That I needed to try and share what it is like to live in the bush, be a missionary, and try to maintain a form of sanity on days when things unexpected seem the norm.

I think its rather interesting that we can create and post a blog from where we are.  From my front porch, I can see what the weather is like in Tanzania.  From my house, I can call America.  So, why not try a blog to share things.

Most of what I write I'll just assume you know us, where we live and what we do out here. I want this to be a 'how it is out here' kind of blog, not so much information that you may find redundant. Especially since you can go to WGM's site, or my Facebook page to find out more details.

So, lets begin with the present.  Today is a Sunday.  Let me tell you about Sunday.  We always know its time to go to church because we can hear the drum being beaten from the church about 400 to 500 yards from the house.  Today before we could get out the gate, we were stopped about three times.  Which was okay, its not like we were worried we were going to be late. After all, everyone usually is.  Today we were REALLY late tho!  Almost as soon as I got there they released Sunday school, and the 60 plus kids poured out of the church in a rush, then stopped to wait for me. It makes me laugh to think that every single Sunday, we go to the same place, but they all seem to want me to herd them in.  Usually by the time I am finished teaching 60 multi-aged, creatively dressed and animated kids, I am ready for a slow afternoon . . . and its been just that.

Unless you count the other factors unique to this day.  A very sick horse needing attention (tsetse fly disease), feed the hedgehog, feed the bushbaby and wipe down her cage.  Feed the dogs, cats and oh, don't forget the chicken incident. I was extremely grossed out this morning to actually watch one of the hens lay an egg.  I don't want to talk about it....

That's a pretty good start I think...