Family

Last Day of November

Yesterday was my forty second birthday. I spent the day hanging out with the kids and climbing up the hillside. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday. 

The life we are currently living is not the life I imagined for  myself as a young man gazing into the future. Not at all. About the only part I got right was Kate. 

I had not imagined having children. There are now fourteen, and one on the way, in my life.

I had not imagined living in Kenya. It has now been almost eleven years here. 

I had not imagined a life without religion. I am so glad that Jesus led me to a religionless life. What freedom!

I had not imagined building a farm. There are now pigs, horses, donkeys, cows, chickens, and rabbits outside my door.

This moment, right now, it is not perfect. There are things, resources, people, and skills missing from my life. No, perfection is not a part of my life. Yet happiness is. I am happy. Happy with how things worked out. I tried out some of my imaginings on the way to forty two, none of them brought me happiness nor contentment. 

Living out my faith, my ideas, my commitments to family; these are the things that have made me happy to see birthday number forty two.

What will the future hold? Hard to say. I can imagine a future with:

More children rescued and given a hopeful future.

Our children living their lives faithful to their beliefs and convictions.

Kate.

A farm producing enough food for us and the hungry in this world.

I can imagine a better future, and hopefully just like that younger man gazing forward in time, this slightly older one will find that his future dreaming fell far short of what actually has come to be.


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.


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.


Girls Practicing a Kamba Folk Song

The girls in secondary school spent the last few days in Kisumu for a singing competition. Kate managed to capture a few seconds of practice on video:

 

We have posted about why we do this a few times recently, but this is another demonstration of why. Freedom to sing, go on school trips, and act goofy. Hard to recreate in an institution, but not that hard in a family setting. 

 


Second School Term Begins

Four of our girls headed off to school this morning. (The school is actually just down the road from us.) Yesterday they spent time preparing their uniforms, polishing shoes, and fixing hair. The younger girls have to keep their hair braided during school. The older ones get a bit more freedom in the hair department. The girls in secondary school (high school) will be starting on Wednesday. Tomorrow will be their frantic preparation day. Procrastination is an art, and most of them have taken it to Picasso levels.
 
Our biological children will be starting their school work this week as well. They are all home-schooled, primarily taught by Kate. In fact we could really use more books of all kind for them. Meaning nonfiction as well as fiction. We do have a  Kindle that Kate bought me for an anniversary more than six years ago. Still works great. What I am trying to say is that instead of shipping books one could buy Amazon credit for the home-school library.
 
We need approximately $550.00 (which includes a girl that does not live with us, whom we started sponsoring last term,) to pay the fees and buy school supplies. School is important, unfortunately if one does not pay the fees the children are expelled until the money is paid. If you can help follow this link:  http://purechristianity.blogs.com/pure_christianity/donate.html 

We are thankful to everyone who has helped us keep these girls in school for the past seven years, well more than seven now. Before they came to live with us regular school attendance was impossible. Mostly because they could not pay, or simply where not important enough to their families to send to school. Now they have confidence and assurance that they will attend school, and have all the opportunities that comes with.

Happy Birthday Emma Caite!

Today is Emma's 8th birthday. Eight years ago she was born in our little house in Racecourse Nakuru. We will be going out to lunch, her younger sister ~Eowyn will be coming along as well. Emma's plan at the moment is to eat at Java House, which is an American restaurant. Not my first choice, but then it's not my birthday. Afterwards is home for cake.

Emma Caite is eight

 


19 Pizzas!

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. 


Happy New Year!

 

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Image courtesy of [satit_srihin] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


I am back dating this to the first, it's the thought that counts right? We spent the day chilling at home enjoying the last moments of a smaller household. Our Kenyan girls have started returning from visiting their friends and relatives over the December holiday. We are glad to have them back, but it does equal more work and noise, so on the first we tried to breathe in more deeply while we still could.

 

What does 2015 have in store for A Future and a Hope? I cannot predict it all but we will be planting as much food as we can manage this year. I am starting to plan out where what will be put and what to put in the ground. So far I have a spot for some yellow corn. There will be lots of digging over the next couple of months and piling up of dirt.

We have another girl that will be starting high school this year. Everyone else will continue where they are. Andrew (our 16 year old son) wants to start a project with a small motorcycle. He wants to chop it. Kate was able to get a piano last month so 2015 will be full of music lessons. Not so sure everyone is thrilled about that one, but hey sometimes you have to make your kids do what you want them to do.

I do not really do resolutions. Mostly because they become rules in my mind and my nature is to break rules. Kate doesn't do them either, though I cannot remember why she doesn't. For those of you who do make New Year's resolutions you could consider adding donating to us on your list. The list that you plan on keeping that is.

Happy New Year. May 2015 be full of blessing, happiness, and the strength to make it through the dark spots.


Bah Humbug?

It has become something of a tradition with myself to despise Christmas. Personally I feel it is the worst holiday, simply because it no longer resembles a holiday. Christmas is just an excuse to help corporations get in the black for the year, or at least for the month.

Anyway my biggest problem now is that I have been so far removed from the Christmas I do not like, that I've become, well ambivalent about the whole thing. The dislike as gone, and what is left is just annoyance.

I have to endure a bit of Christmas music, look at the tree, and suffer Kate's countdown to the day. The commercialization is pretty much nonexistent here in Kenya, and most people do not put a lot of stock in the day. We only watched two Christmas movies this year, and one of them was Die Hard. Can't go wrong with Die Hard.

No decorations, no lights in the neighborhood, no caroling, no parties (other than our own,) and best of all no expectations. 

I suppose that the pressure to give give and give some more during this holiday is why I really dislike Christmas.

Still I have enjoyed the food, drinks, and company this holiday season. Maybe like Scrooge I am being converted?

Nah. I still prefer Easter. 


Charged

Well I did it. Went to Nakuru yesterday and bought a new battery for my laptop. Was actually easy to find one. Found it at the very first place I stopped at. (For the sake of transparency  I stopped at a couple of other places first. Had to park the motorcycle somewhere safe and checked the p.o. box while I was there.) Paid 4,500 KES, which is about $49 U.S. dollars. So this morning, after charging it last night while we used our stored solar energy, I'm running a $50 test. Will it last? So far so good.

This test almost didn't happen. Andrew, our 16 year old son, decided to crank the generator and introduce his sisters to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It is hard to leave this:

 

For my new laptop battery. At least I am pumping some tunes into my head at the moment.

Much has happened this past week;

  • Kate raised money to buy a piano!
  • Kate and I went to Nairobi and window shopped pianos. (Plus I got to eat at one of my favorite restaurants.)
  • The kids watched a Barbie movie, and Monty Python.

More happened, but it's hard to guage a reader's tolerance level for bullet points.

Almost Christmas. Not to worry my bah humbug post will arrive before then, and Kate's mushy gushy Christmas is awesome post sometime after mine.

Today we are off to Matthew and Michele's place for The Muppets Christmas Carol. 

I'm thinking I need to enjoy this sunny morning with a ride on the motorcycle to town.  See you later.