Kenya

Goodbye Dry Season, I Hope

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.


What Do We Not Talk About

There's this guy we met some few months back, Adam Mosley, who is moving to Nakuru to plant a Vineyard church. I know I know, do we really need another church in Nakuru? That's beside the point, he wrote an insightful blog post, and I thought I could respond to his 10 Things Missionaries Won't Tell You. 

1. THEY DON’T HAVE THE TIME OR ENERGY TO WRITE…BUT THEY DO IT FOR YOU.

I can relate to this one. As someone who is not a trained writer it can sometimes be difficult to get the idea or thought from my head to the paper/screen. 

Also I tend to to be honest with my feelings while writing, which can get me into trouble. Especially with Kate. 

I/we do tend to write from a point of view to inform and relate rather than fundraise. Not that we do not want you to give, we need you to. We just do not want every message you see here to be about getting money from you. 

As for the tech aspect he mentions we outsource all that stuff. Our blog is hosted by Typepad, which means we just type and they do all the coding. We send our mass email out through MailChimp, which means the same thing. We just type and they do all the work. (I pay for Typepad but do not yet have a large enough mailing list to have to pay for MailChimp.)

2. FACEBOOK “LIKES” DON’T PAY THE BILLS.

Oh man this is right on. It's great for our egos (go ahead and like our page) and for spreading the word, but one has to take another step beyond the like button and actually donate for it to financially benefit us.

Something that Adam doesn't mention is the lack of privacy on social networks. Anyone can monitor your page, unscrupulous folks and government officials. Which means we have to be careful what we actually post.

3. THEY ASK FOR MONEY BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO CHOICE.

Here is where I diverge from Adam a bit. I don't mind asking for money, nor do I mind having to do so. What I don't like is having to craft a fundraising strategy. I hate censoring myself to keep from losing you as a donor or potential donor. Sometimes I fear being myself. (To which my father in law says keep on fearing.)

I am also a bit crazy and believe that God brings us the right people at the right time. Folks who are ready or looking for a place to donate. 

I don't end every post with a plea for funds. Come on, we are missionaries. We need donations, and I think everyone is aware of that. I will let you all know if we win the lottery. 

4. YOU’LL NEVER HEAR ABOUT THEIR WORST DAYS.

This one is pretty much true for me. Kate and I do try and be open and "real", but some struggles are hard to share in such an open forum. 

Though I am tempted to write about aging. I'm sure you all want to hear about a 40 year old fat man's changing body. 

5. THEY NEED A VACATION…BUT WON’T TELL YOU IF THEY TAKE ONE.

Partly true for us. We need a vacation. Really we could use one this August. Not likely, but if it happens I promise you will hear and see all about it. 

The beach sounds nice. Just imagine all the cute ~Eowyn pictures we could get, you could see me, Johnny, enjoying a frozen drink while lounging in the sand, and all the pics of Kate in her bikini I can covertly take and post! See lots of Facebook potential in a vacation.

6. HOSTING TEAMS IS A NIGHTMARE.

Sounds about right. We have never hosted a large group before, so no experience here for us. 

However we are willing to get our feet wet. So if you like traveling in a group, welcome. 

7. “GOING HOME” IS A LOT OF WORK.

So true. We do not even consider a trip to the U.S., mostly because of the expense. $12,000 for all 7 of us Americans last time I checked! We could build another house for that, even buy more acreage or a newer vehicle. Then there is the logistics of being in the U.S. Transportation, housing, food, and staying fresh for speaking engagements. 

8. IT’S EASY FOR GOD TO TAKE A BACK SEAT IN THEIR LIFE.

I am on the other side of Adam here, meaning I disagree. I feel closer to God because of what I am doing. It does help if you eliminate all religious obligation from your life. If I don't read the Bible today (haven't), no guilt. If the first thing I think of when waking up in the morning is bathing, no guilt. God dosen't care about the tricks we do to try and stay close to Him. He is always close no matter what.

I do not feel called to this life. This life is the only logical way for me to live out my faith. That takes off so much pressure to perform. I just live and do good while living. 

9. IT’S HARD TO TRUST PEOPLE.

True. We have been lied to, promised funds which never materialized, stolen from, and physically assaulted. In fact I have to work hard to not become too cynical. I say too, because I'm a cynic at heart. 

10. THEY ARE LONELY.

Personally I love being alone. Seriously. Love it. Kate on the other hand has been lonely here in Kenya. Looking different than everyone else only compounds the loneliness. However we have pushed through and now have a network of friends and acquaintances. 

 

Fantastic list Adam. I'm a bit jealous. I have yet to write a blog post that was so popular that my bandwidth was exceeded. I hope you guys find much success here in Kenya. 

 


Transmission Replaced

Pajero

The Pajero, known as Montero in the U.S., had the transmission replaced a couple of weeks ago. So far so good. We were unable to find a brand new one for our 1994 vehicle, and would have likely been unwilling to pay the amount a new one would have cost ( close to how much we paid for the Pajero.) We were blessed to have someone donate $2,500 towards the repair and the day the money arrived a used transmission became available. In fact when it was all said and done and the last bolt was in place we spent exactly that amount of money on the job.

Unfortunately someone forgot to put in said last bolt. Which then caused an oil leak, which then led to fuel injector problems, and so forth. I am sitting at the garage right now as I type this having a fuel line pipe replaced. Sigh.

If it isn't human error it's the rough roads. It is hard to win car wise in Kenya.

 


See You Later 2013, and Hello 2014

I am not sure if I found 2013 to be a likable year or not. Up and down, left then right, the year seemed out to get me one day, and ready to bless me the next. Unfortunately most of the "negatives" of the year cannot be posted on the Internet, but that will not stop me from creating a bullet list of mostly positive happenings:

  • 4 of our girls began class 8 in January, the final year of primary school. I remember buying a few text books for them and attending several parent/teacher meetings at the school.
  • A camp out in February on The Shire was somewhat disatrous. We did see a hot air ballon when we woke in the morning.
  • Kenya elected a new president.
  • Kate continued to post videos to her YouTube channel in 2013.
  • We built a hut on The Shire, and started the barn (where we will live while the house is being built.)
  • Several times throughout the year we asked for financial help. Follow this link to donate and help us continue bringing A Future and a Hope to orphaned children here in Kenya.
  • In July Kate and I went away for 2 nights without any children for the first time in 15 years.
  • We raised money to build a barn/house and finish the fence on The Shire in September.
  • In October I left one of the kids behind at the school. I think it was more traumitzing for me than her.
  • I turned 40 in November.
  • I started a new ongoing series for the blog, Learning to Grow. The point being to chronicle the learning process for the farm.

There you have it my summary for 2013. Sometime in the next few days I will post a financial summary for the year, and we will talk about our plans for 2014.


Where's the Water?

Here at the house we rent in Nakuru we have approximately 20,000 liters storage capacity for water. Which is a decent amount of water to have on hand. Tanks are a necessity because the tap is not always on. The water company pumps water to us a few hours a day, every other day, once a week, or whenever they feel like it. Really there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason behind the pumping schedule. We have tried to decipher the thinking behind it, but just cannot. So we catch the water when it comes.

When you take in 9 additional children one of the first things you realize is that they need lots of water. Especially when you take those children and teach them to bathe everyday, or at least as often as possible. Toilets get flushed many times each day. Water is drunk almost nonstop throughout the waking hours. Many, many, let me say that again, many loads of laundry need to be washed and rinsed. Like I said, we need lots of water.

Once we move out to The Shire our water supply will be less certain and smaller than here in town. Hence our need to be creative with our water supply and storage. We will have access to water piped from a nearby well. This water comes with very little pressure. We plan on putting a tank in the ground near the pipe so the water will be able to trickle in and fill the tank. That water will then be pumped up the hill a bit and used in the house. We will also collect rain water and try to tap a spring up on our hill. The waste water, grey water, from the house will be recycled and used in the garden. Toilets will be dry composting in the house, and we are digging a pit latrine outside.

Water is something I used to take for granted back in Port Arthur Texas, but now appreciate the effort it takes to get the substance into my house.

 

 


Mashujaa Day

It is Mashujaa Day here in Kenya. A public holiday, was actually yesterday, but it was pushed onto Monday, to honor the men who fought in the struggle against the U.K. for Kenya's independence. Once upon a time, before August 2010 that is, it was known as Kenyatta Day after the first president. However to broaden the scope of those being honored the name was changed.

Most often Kenyans celebrate national holidays by sitting and listening to politicians give speaches. Not my idea of fun. Since all our t.v. watching is via DVD, we will not be seeing any speeches today. Instead we took Emma, our six year old, to a friends place for a phonics lesson. Then Kate and I (Johnny) headed out to The Shire to drop off some lime for the hut's walls. We also took the opportunity to work on the barn's plan and shoot a few videos. Apparently I got confused as to which was the record button, so we may have to re-shoot some videos later.

Some other friends are coming over for a bite of cake and to hear Emma read a story any minute now. Which does make it odd that I hear Kate talking about taking a bath, so maybe I am wrong about the whole cake and reading deal.

So happy, blessed, or whatever you say Mashujaa Day.


Why I Do Not Watch the News

The terrorist attack at Westgate Mall in Nairobi reminded me of something I had not thought about in awhile.

I was in Port Arthur, Texas when terrorist flew planes in buildings in the U.S. In fact I watched these events unfold on t.v. To this day, more than a decade later, I can vividly recall the horror. The plane crashing into that second building and the subsequent collapse of the towers. The people panicked and running in the streets. The jumpers. All right there in my mind. Not something I want to remember.

Because I watched these events on t.v., live, they are etched in my memory. There is something about video that impacts us more than the written word alone. I am not sure what it is, but I am sure that a live feed can have more impact than an article read the next day. Watching footage of death and destruction, real death and destruction, is not healthy.

After those events in New York and D.C. I decided to avoid live news coverage. No longer do I watch news unfold. Instead I read about it the next day. It makes life better, for me at least.

This is why I did not watch a single news update about the Westgate shooting. I read about it the next day. It did not lessen the gravity of the situation, but I will not be haunted by those images.

Our house is a house that reads the news instead of watches the news.

 


Westgate Shopping Centre

This past weekend terrorists, apparently belonging to Al-Shabaab, stormed an upscale mall in Nairobi. Best I can tell they shot people at random. Unfortunately reliable news is not something easily found in Kenya.

The terrorists claim this attack, and many others over the past couple of years, are in retaliation for Kenya's invasion of Somalia. 

If I am remembering correctly this is the first time an upscale target has been chosen, and this is the largest such attack. 

Nairobi is about 2 and a half hours away, and this event has not impacted us directly here in Nakuru. Certainly we are horrified and disgusted at the actions of these criminals, but there is not a widespread attack going on.

Actually the hardest thing is explaining this to the children. Emma, our 6 year old asked me, "Why are they shooting people in Nairobi?" To which I replied that some people do bad things. Personally I am not even sure how someone reasons that the best way to protest the actions of the Kenyan government is to attack a mall. Just does not make much sense.

I haven't checked the news this morning, but last time I was on Facebook yesterday there where still people trapped in the mall, and the terrorists had barricaded themselves in a room with bullet proof glass. I hope it is resolved quickly and all the trapped shoppers and employees are able to leave the mall.