Previous month:
September 2015
Next month:
November 2015

Entries from October 2015

What we've done so far

We started working on The Shire's Out of the Dark Ages transformation on August 25, 2015. In just two months we have done:

  • Floors in our 2400 sq ft mud barn/house called The Prancing Pony
  • Added two solar panels and four batteries to The Prancing Pony
  • Installed two panels and batteries in the Earthbag house (named The Barrows)
  • Bought a custom made sixteen foot long sofa for The Prancing Pony sitting room
  • Added a 240 sq ft lounge to The Prancing Pony
  • Built a fireplace out of mud
  • Bought a six seat sofa set made by a local carpenter for the lounge in the Prancing Pony
  • Ordered four wool rugs which are in the making. Local single moms make yarn from wool. The wool is dyed naturally and woven into items on looms by a local family.
  • We plastered the inside and outside of The Barrows (Earth bag house)
  • We installed glass windows into The Barrows (Earthbag house)
  • Dug French drains and trenches to keep The Barrows dry
  • Filled those trenches with stones
  • Thatched the roof of the Barrows
  • Thatched the roof on The Hut
  • Installed electrical items in The Barrows and the new lounge
  • Bought four more 10,000 liter water tanks
  • Dug four holes for the tanks, plus an extra hole that was not complete due to too many stones
  • Connected two out of the four tanks to the system. We are working on the others soon
  • Built an outdoor bathtub which is almost complete
  • Installed the plumbing and the fire heated water tank to the tub
  • Planted some new plants around the tub
  • Completed the rabbit enclosure
  • Built a new pig sty and added concrete feeding troughs and water troughs
  • Built a 12x12' store for hay and feed
  • Built an awning to protect bikes from the rain
  • Added gutters and smaller water tanks to the various roofs around
  • Bought a dining table that fits in the Prancing Pony
  • Bought two lounge chairs for by the fireplace
  • We also paid for the midwife's air fare and travel to Kenya with her young son as well
  • Gave all fourteen kids clothes shopping money

The projects are on going. We still have a lot left to do and the funds to do them! Thank you for the support through the campaign.

The areas we actually need help with are keeping up with our monthly expenses such as food for all of our peeps every day, and food for the animals, fuel for the vehicles, school fees for the children, internet, phone, and staff. We appreciate all of you who keep our family encouraged and fed as we continue to give orphans a normal, no, a THRIVING chance at a much better life!

 

 


Manual Labor

I spent the day trimming trees, cutting weeds, and creating even more compost heaps here on The Shire. In fact it has been a couple of weeks since I last spent the majority of a day laboring.

There has been many trips to hardware stores, grocery stores, animal feed stores, and helping out Kate's elderly friend who broke her arm. In other words not enough time to spend a day working with my hands.

I am a bit tired, but the good kind of tired. You know the type your dad told you about. When you are tired because you worked hard it actually feels good. It is not the same tired you get from sitting in front of a computer all day. Sure that wears me out too, but it doesn't feel good to be tired after that. When you have been chopping, hauling, and running after animals, well that is a nice tired.

Which is why I was doing all that manual labor anyway, not to feel good, but to monitor animals. We needed to let them graze on some of the upper land, but have not yet harvested all the maize. So I elected myself to keep them from eating the maize. The cow slipped through, twice. Russel, the male donkey, tried all day to get up to the maize. In the end the maize survived and I got a lot of trimming done.

 


What we've done so far

We started working on The Shire's Out of the Dark Ages transformation on August 25, 2015. In just two months we have done:

  • Floors in our 2400 sq ft mud barn/house called The Prancing Pony
  • Added two solar panels and four batteries to The Prancing Pony
  • Installed two panels and batteries in the Earthbag house (named The Barrows)
  • Bought a custom made sixteen foot long sofa for The Prancing Pony sitting room
  • Added a 240 sq ft lounge to The Prancing Pony
  • Built a fireplace out of mud
  • Bought a six seat sofa set made by a local carpenter for the lounge in the Prancing Pony
  • Ordered four wool rugs which are in the making. Local single moms make yarn from wool. The wool is dyed naturally and woven into items on looms by a local family.
  • We plastered the inside and outside of The Barrows (Earth bag house)
  • We installed glass windows into The Barrows (Earthbag house)
  • Dug French drains and trenches to keep The Barrows dry
  • Filled those trenches with stones
  • Thatched the roof of the Barrows
  • Thatched the roof on The Hut
  • Installed electrical items in The Barrows and the new lounge
  • Bought four more 10,000 liter water tanks
  • Dug four holes for the tanks, plus an extra hole that was not complete due to too many stones
  • Connected two out of the four tanks to the system. We are working on the others soon
  • Built an outdoor bathtub which is almost complete
  • Installed the plumbing and the fire heated water tank to the tub
  • Planted some new plants around the tub
  • Completed the rabbit enclosure
  • Built a new pig sty and added concrete feeding troughs and water troughs
  • Built a 12x12' store for hay and feed
  • Built an awning to protect bikes from the rain
  • Added gutters and smaller water tanks to the various roofs around
  • Bought a dining table that fits in the Prancing Pony
  • Bought two lounge chairs for by the fireplace
  • We also paid for the midwife's air fare and travel to Kenya with her young son as well
  • Gave all fourteen kids clothes shopping money

The projects are on going. We still have a lot left to do and the funds to do them! Thank you for the support through the campaign.

The areas we actually need help with are keeping up with our monthly expenses such as food for all of our peeps every day, and food for the animals, fuel for the vehicles, school fees for the children, internet, phone, and staff. We appreciate all of you who keep our family encouraged and fed as we continue to give orphans a normal, no, a THRIVING chance at a much better life!

 

 


Friday

TGIF?

This Friday started off rocky for me, Johnny. Woke up, stretched and experienced a nice big charley horse. Ouch. I was surprised that all my groaning and writhing did not wake up Kate. I managed to hobble out to the outhouse only to discover a wet seat. Andrew and I removed the soil that was on top of the small building. Originally we thought to have a living roof, but the weight was constantly causing the outhouse to shift. Meaning we were always having to push it back so we could open and close the door properly. Plus the thought of it shifting too much and tipping, well not a pleasant thought during one's morning business. Upon removing the soil we unearthed a few cracks in the roof, which water now comes through. Another gold star for this Friday morning. Nothing like sitting on a wet wooden seat early in the morning.

Never fear things are turning around. I heated water and bathed. Being clean makes any day, even a not so great Friday, brighter. Next came headphones and music. Now I can start to think TGIF.


Thriving

I cannot think of one aspect of us or our "mission" that is unorthodox. Almost from the beginning we chose to start down paths that would lead us into uncharted territory for missionaries. Do we dare go where no cross culture minister has gone before? Apparently we dared.

It all started with the feeling that we should not make our lives about fund raising. We worked up a budget, sent out a letter to everyone we knew, asked our church for funding (they said no,) and prayed. One is not supposed to set off for the foreign mission field without having raised a majority of the support needed. We had about two people committed to give monthly and $400 when we set off in January of 2005. Not a typical start.

We did not even know where we were going to live. Not that we did not have a house. We did not even know what city we would end up in. Just a vague idea and a couple of guys we know from the first time we were in Kenya. In fact almost as soon as we arrived our plans changed.

A lot of stuff happens (you will have to wait for the book,) and we decide to leave organized religion behind. This is by far the biggest departure from normal missionary behavior for us. Sure we have met others who are in between churches, but never someone who closed that door. We do not attend church meetings. We do not belong to any religious organization. (I, Johnny, am actually a member of a Christian Universalist group, but since paying my membership fee a few years ago I have not actually participated in the network.) We have no scheduled prayer times, Bible studies, or any other religious paraphernalia. We do not attempt to indoctrinate our children, nor yours.

It can be lonely, but we have found a way to survive. No, that's wrong. We have found a way to thrive. Freedom from religious obligation has been one of the greatest things to happen to us. Not only do we have more time, but not being afraid of failing a pastor, elders, or God is truly life changing. Should be required of all missionaries.

Not that all is rosy all the time outside of Christian institutions. Finding donors can be difficult, sometimes downright impossible. We do not have a system to rely on in times of trouble or crisis. Remembering all the forgotten religious language for the missionary fellowship is a challenge. 

Actually now that I think about it the bad side is tiny, minuscule really, compared to the positive side. People help us financially. We sometimes have special campaigns that get funded, and folks (more than 2 now) give on a monthly or semi-monthly basis. (Of course we could always use help in this area.) We have made new friends here in Kenya, and across the internet. Not bad at all.

We are not typical missionaries, but then do you want the same old same old?


Mashujaa Day

Today, October 20, is Mashujaa Day here in Kenya. Also known as Heroes Day, it is a national holiday where Kenyans remember those who fought for independence and those who have contributed positively to post independent Kenya. No speeches here on The Shire, instead if I can convince myself to go and look for mutton, we will grill this evening and celebrate our heroes. 

I am not even sure who my heroes are anymore. See there is a problem with growing up, you realize your heroes were human after all. Frail, immoral, and otherwise just like you. How can a mere human be heroic?

Another heroic lesson one learns upon growing a bit older and wiser, heroes need not be superman. In fact super powers are not necessary. Sainthood is not a prerequisite. All that is needed is a willing heart, and the occasional heroic deed.

So who is my hero I will celebrate on Mashujaa Day? Kate is definitely my hero, and for sure my favorite person. This evening I'll toast her.


Space, A Little Goes a Long Way

Ahh. Space. 

Now that Andrew (our 17 year old son) has moved out to the earth bag house, which has been officially christened; The Barrows, I am using his old bedroom as an office. It is nice to be able to sit at the computer and type without five kids stopping to read over my shoulder every five minutes. Plus the shelf space allows me to spread out some of my things that have been packed away for more than a year.

I almost forgot how nice it is to have a little space to call my own.

Most days I live inside my head for the majority of my waking hours. It's not that I do not like Kate and the children, it's just who I am. I find it difficult to remain grounded for long periods of time. I think. Replay scenes from books or movies. Currently the inside of my head is buzzing with thoughts and theories on the God question. Religion has no part of my life, but faith is still quite important to me. Finding ways to commune with the Divine and understand it have been occupying portions of my brains processing power for awhile now. What this small office space allows me to do is organize those thoughts a bit. I have my journal, which I actually can sit down and write in now. Two books that are being written. Plus Kate and I have decided to co-write a book of stories from our time here in Kenya. 

The space allows me to work on these "thoughts" without feeling cramped or monitored. Plus I can actually answer emails, comments, Facebook interactions, and other computer related stuff more easily and quicker now.


Another Way to Connect

Yesterday I mentioned a few ways you could connect with us here in Kasambara Kenya. Today I will mention another, financially. We are missionaries who are entirely dependent on the generosity of others. Our own money was used up years ago, and now we need people to give in order for us to continue to care for the children, and survive. 

No mission agency involved. No institutional church. Just us. What you send we get (minus what the banks take of course.)

Here is how to get funds to us:

  • Paypal. Send funds to afutureandahope@gmail.com
  • Write a check out to A Future and a Hope and send to this address:

A Future and a Hope
c/o Bob Humphrey
7909 Walerga Rd STE 112-141
Antelope, CA 95843

 

Oops, forgot to add this random photo from this morning.

IMG_1805


Connect With Us

So many ways to stay connected with us, or become connected for the first time:

  • This blog. If you are reading this then you got this one figured out. Read blog posts, comment, or use the donate link.
  • Email. This is the best way to connect with me (Johnny.) I tend to read emails before anything else. Sometimes it takes me a day or so to reply, due to the nature of our life and connections. Here are our address: afutureandahope@gmail.com and back2kenya@gmail.com
  • Facebook. We have a page, www.facebook.com/afutureandahope We also have personal pages as well: www.facebook.com/johnnybrooks and www.facebook.com/kate34 
  • WhatsApp. 254723743212 for me (Johnny) and 254723687644 for Kate. Reach out and chat with us on WhatsApp. Send photos, short videos, whatever. In fact I really love using photos only to have conversations on this app.
  • Skype. You may have to let us know in advance that you want to call on this app, but we do use it from time to time. kate.brooks40
  • Facetime. I think you can use an email to find us here. back2kenya@gmail.com
  • Twitter. @johnnybrooks I never caught on to this twittering thing, but I am there.
  • Instagram. instagram.com/afutureandahope and instagram.com/back2kenya 

So get to clicking and connecting. (What a line, what a line.)


Baby Giraffe

We do not normally post much about the wildlife surrounding us here on the blog, but who can resist a baby giraffe?

Girafe

I took this from Rothschild's Giraffe Project's Facebook page. A cursory glance at their website indicates they are involved in conservation, which is something we care about as well. A world without giraffes is less a world than before.

(This baby was born in Soysambu Conservancy, which you would pass by or through to get to our place.)