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March 2014

Entries from February 2014

What Do You See?

20140226_105317Take a look at this photo. Go ahead, a nice long glance. Now tell me what do you see? I mean beyond the obvious remarks about handsome, fantastic photography skills,  and impressive beard. Who is this guy? Who am I?

My wife tells me I have an irritating stubborn phlegmatic personality. I am an emotionally detached person, not sure why, but it is at the core of who I am. Seldom do I find myself ruled by how I feel, nor do I rely upon my emotions. Except when it comes to anxiety. I do fight anxiety several times a year, and unfortunately it does sometimes win. Personally I wouldn't use the word phlegm to describe myself. Instead I would say I am emotionally grounded, calm, and all around stable. I am stubborn, but I like to think that makes me free. 

Freedom is important to me. I need space to be me. Not to be the me my wife thinks I am, or the me you think I am, or the me that everyone else thinks I am. Free to be just me, nothing more nothing less.

Which brings us back to the who am I query. 

These first two months of 2014 have been months of introspection for me. Thinking, thinking, and some more thinking on who I am as a person, or rather who I want to be as a person.

Let's see if we can figure out the puzzle that is Johnny Lee Brooks with a list. I hate lists, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do:

 

Who I Am

  • I am human. Duh. 
  • I am a husband.
  • I am a father.
  • I am a Brooks. (Meaning I am from a particular family in a particular place.)
  • I am a reader.
  • I am a watcher. Movies, television, people, animals, pretty much anything.
  • I am an American.
  • I am a Libertarian.
  • I am a missionary. Much as I hate to admit it sometimes, I am following Jesus in a culture not my own. Therefore I am a missionary, the Bearded Missionary.

Who I Am Not

  • I am not an animal.
  • I am not a religionist.
  • I am not a good friend.
  • I am not a builder.

Now if we add the top column, subtract the bottom, round to 15, and take out all the ugly numbers we come up with; me. 

The answer to my question, Who am I?, is simply, I am me.

I can live with that. 


So What's up with our 4X4?

We own a 1993, 4X4, automatic, Mitsubishi Pajero (also known as a Montero in the US). I was graduating from high school the year this car was made... So that was 21 years ago. Wow. Needless to say, it is pretty old for car years.

We bought this car a year ago because it fit within our budget. Cars go for around $30-50,000 USD here. They are just plain expensive. We bought the Pajero for around $8,500. It suits our family in size and in its off-road abilities.

Sadly, nothing lasts forever. Our Pajero is in need of a new 'gear box' (transmission). It has been slowly going out, and now it won't shift above 3rd gear.

Andrew has taken the whole thing apart and added clean oil, cleaned it out, etc... but it still has issues and is not drivable on the hwy.

We priced USED automatic gear boxes for around $5,110 (USD) and that did not include installation.

Andrew's mechanic shop buddies suggest we get a used MANUAL transmission and modify the car. They found a Pajero gear box and the total costs would come to about $2,500 USD including clutch and istallation.

Obviously, we cannot afford a new transmission nor a new car. It is quite difficult to be car-less at the moment since

  • We have 4 children going to High School, then 5 children going to Primary school, and one child going to Mechanic school...
  • We are building on The Shire and need to be able to get there to oversee the construction.
  • We need to be able to buy and carry groceries!
  • We need to take our visitors (my dad is coming March 5th) to various places.
  • And we also need to carry supplies to our construction site.

Personally, I love cycling and walking, but it is so time consuming. I find I am not able to do the home schooling I need to do because I spend HOURS each day walking to and from home to town...

 

We have a Nissa Van, (it is not a 4X4) but it is being used by our Boys' home and the nursery school so it is not available to us nor useful for going to The Shire.

 

So here we are at a cross roads trying to decide what to do. Do we try to sell the Pajero for a very low price and get an even older car? Or do we try to solicit money from you guys to help us buy a used transmission and have it turned into a manual car?

 

Thoughts are appreciated.


Wish List

paracord

ranch seasoning

Taco Bell hot sauce

beef stew mix

LED flash lights

Noodle maker (egg/flour noodles)

chocolate chips

chocolate covered cherries

music (For flute, piano, vocals)

Flute plugs

Kid meds

silicone muffin cups (individual silicone liners)

Go girls (pee standing up)

Melatonin

Speakers for an ipad

Bike saddle bag

Flip flops in variety of sizes

pocket knife for Kate

cordless drill, general tools

Weed eater

HP Ink 74 and 75

Burt's Bees apricot oil

Cast iron Waffle iron

Gas X

ribbon

buttons

glass 'drops' to make magnets (craft)

bamboo stylus nibs

ipad 2 screen and antenna

System for hanging bikes in rafters

silicone lined crimp beads for hair feathers

beading supplies

hair feathers

wii u

hoof pick

halter for donkey

Bridle with bit

curry comb

chewable vitamins

projector bulb

seeds

velveeta cheese


An update

It has been a while since I have posted just a general update on happenings around here.

We post often about The Shire, and school and what not, but I thought I would try to paint a more coherent, complete picture of what all is going on and where we are heading, too...

The Shire:

So far, we have a pit latrine, a dirt drive way, a fence, a root cellar, a hut, and two 6000 liter full water tanks. We also have a 2000 sq ft living area with a roof and mud walls for our temp. house all up, and screen around the gaps between the two roof lines. The walls are not finished nor the windows nor the floors, but work is being done on it each day. With that said, we still have a ways to go to get it move-in ready, but I say that we have done a lot with the $10,000 USD that came in from our campaign last year!

The Kids:

Our older 4 orphans-no-more are now attending Lake Elementaita Secondary school near the Shire, which means early starts from our place here in Nakuru each day. We leave at 5:45 am to walk 40 minutes to town to get on a van that goes 30 minutes to the base of the hill... then it is another 45 minute walk uphill to the school. After school, the same process happens in reverse. We look forward to moving to The Shire to get them closer, and also it will save us so much money on rent, utilities, etc...

Our 5 other orphans-no-more who are in Elementary (primary) school, are still studying here in Nakuru. It is about a 45 minute walk for them to the school and again when they come home as well. We will probably put them in Kiboko Primary near The Shire when we move.

Then we have 4 daughters who are home schooled. They are keeping me busy!

Andrew is also studying in the evenings as well as going to the Mechanic shop each day from 7:30am to 5pm. In fact, he recently put a new (used) engine in our little red mini and got it running! It is doing great since...

...Currently, our 4X4 Pajero needs a new transmission (or a used one, but finding one is difficult). So the 4X4 waits in the driveway, and the mini is a bit too small and low to the ground to try driving it 'off road' to The Shire...

We find ourselves spending lots and lots of time walking and cycling. I love it, but with a family the size of ours, and with children going to school every day, the public transport is getting very expensive, and with all the work being done on The Shire, we really need to get our 4X4 fixed.

Still, we are happy, healthy, and grateful for all we have accomplished so far! Thank you for caring and being a part of giving these girls a Future and a Hope.

 


19 Years

Yesterday Kate and I marked our 19th wedding aniversary. 19 years we have been walking together. Honestly I can say I have never regretted saying I do to Kate. She is a good woman to be married to, and has kept me alive and on track.

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Normal Monday

I am sitting here at my desk trying to find inspiration for a blog article. I am even using my Ipad in an attempt to feel more hip and intune with technology. Doesn't seem to be working.

Today is just another Monday, it's not even manic. Routine. Girls were sent off to school this morning, Kate has been working on homeschool, had some fluid changed in the car, and heading out to The Shire later. Normal.

Hope it can stay that way.


The First day of High School and how it went...

This year, FOUR of our orphans-no-more started High School.

In Kenya, that is a very big deal. They follow an 8-4-4 system, meaning they go to school 8 years of Primary (elementary), then take an exam that determines IF they can go on to High School.

Our girls all did well on their exams, and they have been accepted at Lake Elementaita Secondary (High) School.

As you may know, it is quite expensive buying uniforms for four girls and admission fees, etc... Thanks to so many of you coming together to help, we have paid their school fees, bought most of their uniforms, and took them to school today.

The school is near our future home, The Shire. It is about 45 minutes drive from our Nakuru location, BUT we also have 5 girls in school here in Nakuru so the car is needed to transport them to school. With that said, the older girls were trying to go with public means today.

I got dressed at 5 am to escort the girls, and started walking the 45 minute walk to town, with the girls, in the dark, where the public vans are. It was a BEAUTIFUL walk! We used Google sky map to identify Saturn (which is huge at the moment, btw).

We boarded a van and waited. And waited... and waited. We watched grown men fight like small boys over who's van would get passengers first... It was entertaining in a sad way.

Finally, at 7 am, the van was full of enough paying passengers to go forward.

7:28 am, we got off at the base of the beautiful mountain of the school and the Shire.

We walked some more. Uphill this time... 45 more minutes, me, aka Mom, singing and chatting all the way. It was fun.

We finally arrived at the school at 8:15 ish and got the girls registered and settled in their class. They were only 45 minutes late, but the school said it was fine and understandable.

After saying goodbye, I walked to The Shire from the school, admiring the beauty of the hills all along the way. I saw a really nice looking hospital and popped in to check it out. It was started by a German man, interstingly enough. It is next door to the school, which is great!

I talked to an old lady along the way who comfortably wasn't wearing any shoes. I ran away and hid from some kids who started pointing and shouting 'Mzungu!! Mzungu!' at me. Then I finally made it to The Shire where I did a bit of work.

I love it there. It is so beautiful and peaceful. I worked on our clay oven base.

I undid all of this and redid it because the guy I asked to help, just leaned rocks in, instead of stacking them.... Smashed my fingers a few times, too!

Around 10am, Johnny showed up with the bio-kids, minus Andrew, and we had a picnic. He watered trees and did some work around.

The kids had fun helping make the mud for the walls.

 

I stopped at Fien's for a cup of tea and a quick chat. I picked up the $120 donation from the EAWL that we are very grateful for, and headed home!

Here I am typing this enjoying the thoughts of all the people who helped make TODAY happen.... from the buying of The Shire, to the paying of school fees and keeping food on the table... So many names of so many beautiful people.

That is Love. Thank you for caring.

Now I am listening to my exhausted by happy girls chatting away with big smiles as they, too, take in account their day.

They didn't get home until after dark... which makes me worried, so tomorrow, the Nakuru students we have will have to walk home, and instead we will pick up the Elementaita girls by car.

We need to get our house finished so we can move soon. And that, my friends, is a different thought and blog altogether...