Previous month:
October 2011
Next month:
December 2011

Entries from November 2011

December Newsletter

Kate has written a newsletter for December. We only send these out via email (it’s just too expensive to send regular newsletter via the postal service.) If you are not on the list and would like to be fill out the form, which you can find in the left hand column. Do it soon, as December is right around the corner.

Also we are on Facebook:

www.facebook.com/johnnybrooks

www.facebook.com/kate34

I have a twitter account as well, though I have not been able to twitterize my life:

twitter.com/johnnybrooks


Why I do this

Here in Kenya, being an orphan is one thing. Being an orphan teenage girl is another.

I am sure you can imagine why, but let me put the pieces together for you.

A life of poverty can change people’s morals. Down in the slums, or even in the villages of Kenya, there seems to be a whole different set of rules. Men take whomever they want. Orphaned girls have no one to stick up for them. And hunger can also cause even the purest of souls to do ‘what is needed’ in order to eat.… I’m sure you can fill in the blanks and get my point. Life for an orphan girl is tough. Already, before coming here, one of our teens was raped when she was just 4 years old. She has herpes and must deal with this all the time.

Another of our Kenyan teens lost her mother to the ‘man takes all in the village mentality.’ Her mother was murdered because she refused to marry the murderer after her husband died. The guy got angry, and stabbed her to death in her home. My orphan-no-more woke up to find her mother’s body.

So the reason why I took in these girls is not necessarily to provide them with a wonderful education. Although they go to school now, it’s a perk. But it’s so we can protect them from the backward world we live in. They had no advocate before moving here, no one to tuck them under their wing, and they were being picked off one by one like baby chicks without a mother hen.

After their parents died, the girls were a burden to their remaining relatives. Some girls were viewed as cursed because of lack of understanding of how the parents died. One of our orphans-no-more was being sold by her grandma to a man in Mombasa to be his house worker. She was only 8 years old at the time.

So why do I have a house full of girls? Because they need me.

~Kate


Happy Thanksgiving Day!

To all our American readers Happy Thanksgiving Day! We have taken the day easy here in Nakuru, Kenya just hanging around the house.

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=178">Image: Tom Curtis / FreeDigitalPhotos.net No turkey for us today (I’m not a fan of turkey meat.) Instead we grilled chicken and sausage for lunch. Kate baked a pumpkin pie that fits into our new zero sugar and wheat diet. Turned out pretty good.

Four of the girls took off this morning to visit relatives and friends for the school holiday, and consequently the house has been a bit quieter. A few more head off tomorrow, and we will be a smaller household till the end of December.

Not that we will have much time off. The community work will continue, and inevitably there are issues that come up with the girls while they are visiting their relatives. Sometimes they run out of food, once a child was lost, and emotional distress at being with people who cannot or will not care for you fulltime.

Happy Thanksgiving!


The last day

Today was the last day of the school year here in Kenya. Students are off until the beginning of January when they will start another grade level.

Johnny, Makena, Butterfly, Emma Caite, Eowyn, and I all spent SIX HOURS at the girls’ school today enduring, um, enjoying their closing ceremony. Andrew stayed at home playing the Wii. Lucky fella.

I have to admit, it did have its high points. Several of our girls were in the top 3 students of their grade levels, so we were able to clap for them and take photos with them as they received awards, which included two plastic baskets, and a small cooking pot.

IMG_0098The pride on their faces as they recited their poems, songs, and dances as they scouted across the audience for a glance from us- their ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ was priceless. I guess it was worth the other 5 hours and 45 minutes of lectures from headmasters and teachers and potential flu catching (got it last year after the ceremony) from all the hacking of students and parents.

Hawkers were outside the building with their soggy ice cream and small trinkets waiting to prey upon parents’ pride. It was typical, but we made it through it all. Only half a day sitting, listening to preachers trying to convert the students, and ungifted singers singing louder than the microphone could handle. Ok. It was painful, but I’m holding on to the priceless moments…

So, tomorrow Ben will travel with four of our girls to Gem, a rural village where these girls were living with their old grandparents before coming to our home. Then over the course of the next week or so, we hope to send the girls to various friends and family for the holiday. It will give us some time to be a nucleus family and to reconnect and make sure our biological children are not getting lost in the shuffle, and it will give the girls a chance to impress their villages with how beautiful, healthy, and smart they are. (Each time they go, the village wants to send us ALL the orphans they know. They are quite impressed with our girls.)

I’ve scheduled a ‘day’ for each of my bio-kids in December to spend it alone (or with Eowyn, too) with me. We have an advent calendar we are putting together to count down until Christmas, and we are still planning a 4 1/2 day trip to Nairobi!! Whoo hoo!! I’ve been to Nairobi one night this entire year, and our kids haven’t left Nakuru in over a year. This will be good for them. The other holidays (April and August), the orphans-no-more all go off and visit family, whereas our bio-kids just keep doin’ their norm staying at home with us- not to mention they even go to school at home with us.... I hope we can pull this off. It’s much needed for all of us! I think it’ll be good. I’m a flexible chic, so if it doesn’t work out, I’m sure we’ll be creative and still have a good family time even here in at home.

~Kate

*The photo shows some of our kids in their school uniforms.


I slept with a chick last night…

So our new chickens have laid eggs, sat on eggs, and hatched some of their eggs! It’s a wonderful thing to see new life. Sadly, 3 eggs were left in the nest unhatched, and of course, my curious Makena begged me to crack them open.

So we did. I whacked the first egg on the counter, and found, not to my surprise, a baby chick inside. What DID surprise me was that it started cheeping! Quite loudly!

I gently pulled away the shell (knowing you should never do this to an unready egg, but again, the mother wasn’t sitting any more, so this egg was ‘dog food.’). The limp, cold, yellow newborn chick fell onto my hand with a little bit of blood.

I noticed the yolk sack was completely consumed inside the chick’s body, so there was hope!

Cheep.

Cheep.

IMG_0021Despite the blood, I pressed the cold, wet chick against my belly. I kept it there for hours. I built a fire, warmed my hands, and held them against its body to warm it up.

The cheeps got louder, and the chick began squirming. Its downy feathers dried into a cute ball of fluff.

When night time came, I realized I had no idea WHERE to put this little chick. I don’t have a heat lamp so I tried sleeping with the chick on my belly. It kept quiet if it was pressed under my shirt, but any time I needed to nurse Eowyn, it made a great fuss about being out from the warmth of my skin.

And every time I would fall asleep, the chick would start slipping off and would squirm and claw my tummy. It felt like a mouse crawling on my belly waking me up in a start!

Finally, around midnight, I decided I needed some rest so I went outside and put the chick under its momma. She tucked it in just fine under her wings, and now it seems to be ok. It's not as strong as its siblings, but it is also 3 days younger. It can walk and get under her when needed.

I’m hoping this little one pulls through! If not, well at least it had a few days of living.


The Blog

If you look through the archives on this blog you will see that we started it back in 2005. Much has happened in our lives since 2005. I’m not sure that those changes are accurately portrayed here in the blog.

You’ll notice that suddenly we went from essentially an itinerant preaching ministry to pastoring a local church here in Nakuru. From there we began the orphan-care and community work that we are currently doing.

The transitions may not be apparent in the blog, but all those steps were necessary for us to arrive here.

So don’t freak out if you read a post in the archives about conducting Sunday meetings or traveling somewhere, we haven’t changed our mandate. We are caring for and loving as family the children God has brought to us, and reaching out with His love to the broader community.


Harvest Time!

It’s time to harvest the two acres of corn we planted earlier in the year! Hopefully I’ll make the arrangements tomorrow and we will remember to grab a few pictures as well.

Our plan is to dry the corn and have it ground up into a flour. Kenyans use this flour to make a food called ugali, which is essentially this corn flour cooked with water into an almost cake like substance. Cake like in shape but nowhere near cake like in taste!

Despite my distaste of the stuff most Kenyans simply love it.

After we have the flour it will be given away to hungry people we are working with in the community.


Culture of Odor

Last Friday after coming home from picking the girls from school, I turned on the water pump. I do this each and every day around 4:30 pm to 5 pm. That away I know the kids have plenty of water to bathe, etc. (We have storage tanks in the back of the property. Gravity pulls water from there to a tank on the ground near the back door, from there I pump it up to a tank on a stand which provides water for the house.) While standing at the back door waiting for the water to overflow so I could turn off the pump, I noticed one of the girls washing her school bag.

This struck me as funny. First of all I can not remember ever washing a backpack in my life. Maybe a quick dusting or wiping off of a spot, but never a vigorous scrubbing with soap and water.

Second thing that struck me funny was how this particular girl, a teenage girl mind you, hardly ever washes her armpits. In fact many Kenyans don’t think twice about body odor. It’s not that they are dirty necessarily, just the natural normal sweaty armpit smell is something they do not mind.

I on the other hand cannot stand it. Since the day I was born I have been learning what is appropriate and inappropriate on the smell scale. Smelly armpits are way down on the list. Kenyans tend to not even notice bad smells that much. Which makes sense. This land is one smelly place.

You have stinky people, stinky animals, stinky open sewers, stinky animal feces all over the place, stinky rotting mounds of garbage, and little too no money to spend on smell good products. It’s no wonder our noses have grown up differently.

After almost seven years here I still cannot stand smelly armpits. However I have become more accustomed to bad smelling animals, and even an occasional open sewer. (In fact our neighbors have an open sewer stream running through their property. When the wind is right we get a nice rank whiff of sewer.) The girls after living with us for 4 years seem to be more sensitive to smells. Though armpits still seem to bother them little, a few of them at least have developed a taste for the smell of deodorant.