Water fell from the sky today. Commonly known as rain. Not too much, but enough to actually get the ground wet. Mud actually stuck to the bottom of my shoes, and we slipped in the car on the road. Good times.
One of the big lessons that living in Kenya has taught me is; to try and live life more in tune with nature's cycles. You know, the seasons. We do not have winter, summer, fall, and spring here in Kenya. Just the wet and dry seasons. The fact of if it's raining or not raining has just as big an impact on life as the four seasons I grew up with.
There is no washing of the car during the dry season.
Bathing is not a daily occurrence during the dry season. (Once every three or four days.)
Water has to be rationed. First drinking water, then cooking, then hand washing, teeth brushing, and so on.
Dust becomes a part of you during the dry season.
Just try running down to the village during the dry season on the motorcycle without any eye protection.
You remember all those times when you were a kid spraying ant hills with the hose, and wonder why your parents did not scold you for wasting water.
If it is yellow let it mellow.
This particular dry season felt drier to me. Maybe it is the change of scenery. Now that we are living on The Shire the lack of rain is more pronounced. We have to feed the animals more since most of the grazing is gone. There is no green grass left. The place is really brown. Trees are looking worse for the wear, and there are no flowers. Water is harder to find. Thankfully a neighbor down the road drilled a well this year, and so we plus our neighbors have been able to get water via 20 liter buckets carried on a donkey's back.
It has been hot.
When it rained today it felt fresh, almost like the first flowers of spring. Not that we have any flowers yet, but still the dust was washed away. It cooled down a bit.
Now let us hope that the weatherman is wrong, like he normally is, and this is really the beginning the rainy season.
Unfortunately I cannot tell all our stories here on the blog. Some exciting, hair raising adventures. Others bone chillingly scary. A few so depressing, that I wonder how I keep going. There are some happy ones that I just can't talk about because of privacy concerns.
Once upon a time we had a wish list here on the blog. Stuff we wanted or even needed that could be shipped to us here in Kenya. Part of that post was a line asking the shippers keep the declared value of the box as low as possible, since we paid a customs duty based on that amount. It does not matter that it is a gift, we still pay. The government objected to that line and charged me a fine for lost customs revenue. Not cool. That was the day I started to pay more attention to what I posted on the blog.
A number of our children are now online, and sometimes might even see this blog. Naturally that hampers my ability to talk about them here.
So if you really want to hear the juicy tales, you gotta come for a visit in person. I cannot promise a tell all, but I guarantee excitement.
I did my part for water conservation yesterday. (If you follow Kate on Facebook then you are aware that we are experiencing a water shortage as we wait for the dry season to end.) I bathed using only a third of the water I would normally splash on myself. In fact I had enough left over to wash my underwear.
Honestly it was a bit of a shock, the left over water that is. All that water I've been wasting. (Though in my defense we do recycle the water from the shower.) It is the little things that we do which can make a big difference.
When we first moved to Kenya and started experiencing issues with water supply it drove home our attitude towards water. We grew up twisting a faucet and water coming out, always. Even hot water. Now we have to be more proactive in procuring our water, and make sure we have enough to hydrate our fourteen children.
Currently we are working towards expanding our storage capacity. New tanks will be purchased this week, and several other ideas are in the works. A recent visitor proposed digging a trench across the property to collect runoff water from the hill.(He does it on his farm with great success.) Actually seems like a pretty decent idea. I might try a shorter length first to test it out. Others have suggested a well, that is a big project that starts with a geological survey. Not there yet. There are more, and keep the suggestions coming folks. Before the next dry season we will be prepared, and able to grow food out of season.
Elvis is alive and now living with us on The Shire.
A few years back we met an English couple, Matthew and Michelle Barrow. They have been coming to East Africa for 20 years, and during that time rescued several street boys. Most of whom have now finished high school and are looking for the next phase of life. Elvis Kira (above) is interested in agriculture and has come to stay with us for this year. As we are learning to farm he will be as well.
Ours was a seemingly unlikely friendship, The Barrows and The Brooks, that is. They are a few years older than us, more conservative, English, and follow the rules more often than we do. Yet we continue to find ourselves together, and I usually don't hide when they come over. Now we even have one of their boys staying with us.
Hopefully with Elvis and Michael (our farmhand) we will be able to produce a good amount of food this season.
I was thinking of pushing the pause button and reversing the story back to the beginning, but even with my new laptop battery, there is not enough juice for that story at the moment. How about we just go back a few chapters to the beginning of A Future and a Hope?
Jeremiah 29:11New King James Version (NKJV)
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
When we left organized religion we needed a way to express our faith. A way that did not depend on meetings, crackers, preachers, songs, nor holy books. I cannot actually remember the circumstances surrounding how we came to that passage in Jeremiah, but it provided us with a bit of inspiration on how to live out our faith.
Kate had been wanting to work with orphans for a long time, this inspiration gave us a mission statement. (I still needed one of those back then.) We decided to take in girls and work toward providing them with A Future and a Hope. It was really that easy. Was God involved? Pushing us? Inspiring us? I like to think so, but either way we now have 9 girls, who seven years later, have radically changed lives.
They have hope in their futures. Just the other day Edith (who is 12) was saying how she would like to grow up to be a singer. Record songs and do that whole thing. She loves singing. This was a girl who came to us without hope, without the ability to even imagine beyond wanting a Christmas dress.
Others in our house have modeling ambitions, medical career dreams, and of course they all want to marry Justin Beiber. The point being that not only can they hope in the future, but they have some confidence that we will fight to see that future for them. Some of those dreams anyway.
I grew up in a house where I did not have to worry about what was for dinner. My mom and dad provided what I needed. Not necessarily what I wanted, but there was family and security in that family. That is our orphan care philosophy, give the children what they are missing. Family.
With those parental and sibling bonds struggles are wrestled with till they say uncle. We can cry together, laugh together, and we all share hope in the future.
I look forward to seeing what these children become 10 years from now. I wonder who I will be 10 years from now?
We had guests yesterday and Kate, being the overboard kind of person she is, decided to make 19 pizzas. Yes 19 pizzas.
Which could explain the attitude this morning.
Actually going big is one of the reasons that I love Kate so much. She does not do anything half way. If she cannot throw herself into it a hundred percent then it is not worth doing in her mind.
Which could explain how we have managed to do anything over the past 20 years.
When she decided that caring for orphans was the way for us to go, she didn't go and build an orphanage somewhere. No sir. She opened the door and said "welcome to your new family." She poured herself into the girls. Not something that I can do easily, apparently I am emotionally stunted or just too unaware. Kate has loved and is loving these girls completely. (Even when they make it hard, which is often.)
Which could explain the beautiful children we now have.
I was happy living in a rented house and paying, or at least trying to pay, bills each month. Kate insisted there was a better way and suggested we should buy a piece of land. I immediately said it would be impossible, we had never successfully raised a large amount of money before. So she threw herself into it, and in 30 days raised $34,000, and changed everything for us.
Which could, does, explain how we are now living on almost 12 acres of land.
Kate is the driving force of this family. Without her I would be sitting in my Mom's house playing video games.(Which on some days does have a certain allure, but I love this woman and this life.) What is wrong with me? Getting this emotional at the start of the year cannot be healthy.
Twenty years next month.
As the year comes to a close it is time to start reflecting, or forgetting, what has happened over the past twelve months. It was a big year for us. Ups and downs. Mostly ups. I wonder if I can create a bullet point list of highlights of 2014:
2015 will be the year of planting, watering, harvesting, and canning whatever we can grow.