There has not been much consistent activity on this blog for the past three or four years. Some of that is because we moved out to The Shire (our almost twelve-acre piece of land in Kenya,) partly due to computing issues, lack of twenty-four hour electricity, and also because we are active in other places online. Sometimes I consider just not blogging anymore at all, but then I go on Facebook and other social media and I am reminded that I like blogs and blogging.
I like having a place to voice my thoughts and what is going on with A Future and a Hope without having to compete with politics, food, and all the other distractions. Which I believe is the biggest drawback with social media, it's ability to completely and utterly distract and derail. In fact, I had Facebook open in another window just a moment ago and ten minutes in I realized I had written nothing, neglected emails, and not planned the day. Also looking back at what I was consuming on Facebook, well it was nothing. I am not saying that social media has no place nor that I do not benefit from it, just making a point about how it distracts. The blog is a better medium as one is forced to stop and read three hundred plus words at once. It gives you time to digest the content and think about the one posting. The slower pace makes for better conversations and a more conducive environment to learn and grow.
I still read blogs, a lot of them. Some informative and some purely fun in nature. I prefer my blog reading app over my Facebook app. Unfortunately, the Facebook one is easier and I find myself opening it more.
Kate and I are going to make an effort to put more content up on this blog. We will still be active other places, i.e. Facebook, but more content will be posted here. Not just happenings, but thought provoking articles as well. I believe that we are at a point in human development when we can push through to intellectual levels never before seen, or we can be distracted by the flashing lights of social media and gadgets.
And now for what is happening today:
Edith, our fifteen year old orphan no more, is heading back to boarding school today. She is starting the second term of her first year in high school. Her first term had some rough spots for her, she really missed being at home. (She did excellent academically finishing second in her class for the term.) Thankfully the school fee has been paid for this second term. We will do a little bit of shopping before dropping her off this afternoon. (I still have more school related expenses for other children that need to be covered.) Andrew, our son, will finish his GED on Monday and be officially done with high school. Next month he is scheduled to fly out of Kenya and head to Oregon where he has a job for a couple of months. He is both excited and nervous about it, we are sure he will be fine and excel at whatever he puts his hands to.
The cow is mooing, chickens cackling and crowing, pigs grunting, rabbits eating and breeding, and the horses neighing this morning. Weeds are being harvested for the goats and others. Everyone is ready to start the day.
There are many ways to connect with Kate and I.
This blog is one way, though admittedly we fail to keep it as updated as we should. Kate is a prolific Facebooker and therefore following her there is the best way to stay up on what is happening. I am there as well, plus A Future and a Hope has a page. Both Kate and I are on Twitter, though admittedly neither of us caught the tweet bug. We use Instagram, Goodreads, and I even joined this new thing called Mewe. My all time favorite is email.
Goodreads - Johnny Brooks
MeWe - I am not sure how to get an address but you can search for Johnny Brooks.
Kate and I have given the blog a going over and changed the design. This new layout and design is supposed to be able to adapt to any screen. Though I have not yet had a chance to check it out on a portable device, it does look nice on the laptop.
Right now we are waiting for the rainy season to begin so we can fill up our water tanks. Last year we were able to expand our water storage to just over 100,000 liters. (That would be 26417.205 gallons.) As we wait for the life giving water the grass has dried up and we have to water a few newly planted trees. Thankfully we have not yet run out of water. I checked yesterday and we have a little more than 12,000 liters left. (3170.0646 gallons.) It did cloud up today and cool off a bit, but still waiting for the rains.
This planting season we hope to plant and harvest enough food to share with the hungry in Nakuru. One of the goals for The Shire (our farm) is to produce relief food. Not only for orphans in the community but for disaster relief as well. You know to help someone out whose house burned, mom died, lost a job, or just made a stupid mistake. We want to be there with healthy organic food for them. Plus growing food and raising animals is kind of fun, and provides jobs for our community.
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: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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. email@example.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.)
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.
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.
My break with social media has come to an end. All in all I would say getting away from the online world for a bit worked out great. I felt that it was all just becoming too much for me to cope with. Thankfully this "sabatical" coincided with our move to The Shire. Which made it pretty easy to stay away from Facebook and the blog. No electricity and all.
We still do not have permanent electricity, but the generator is working out for t.v. time in the evening, and I did purchase a small solar kit for charging our phones. (Plus we take the opportunity to charge our computers, while watching White Collar.) Soon we will make a final decision on the solar setup and purchase enough to power lights, t.v., DVD player, and charge phones and computers. Not enough for refrigeration. I am still hoping for a propane powered fridge sometime in the future. (In the meantime I have burried my Coke Zeros in a claypot with water in the ground.)
Shelves have been installed in the Prancing Pony, stones laid in the shower, drainage put in for said shower, and we are enjoying the peace and quiet of a community without electricity, gates clanging at all hours, and horns constantly hooting.
Personally I am not too keen on the dirt floor we have in the house. There is just something "unclean" about walking around on dirt. Kate has plans to install more stones around the house in the future, so clean feeling feet are at least something I can still hope for.
Thank you to everyone who has made this move possible. We are putting together a system here on The Shire that can be duplicated on another piece of land in order to care for more children. This agriculture based approach will hopefully allow the homes to be more self sustaining. We have not yet planted much beyond fruit trees and herbs, but piece by piece we are taming The Shire.
I, Johnny, am an introvert. I know, no big revelation there. I need down time, alone time to recuperate mentally and spiritually. I have no idea how all that works, but I do know that if I am around people all the time I get tired, grumpy, and my mind has trouble focusing.
Unfortunately my alone time is now often taken up with social media. You know Facebook, chatting, blogging, and other on-line connections. Since in the literal sense I am often times alone doing those things I failed to understand that virtual connections can become just as real as real life connections. Socializing on-line is almost the same as doing it face to face, for me.
So I am taking a week off. You will not see me on Facebook (well live anyway my page will still be there,) blogs, or any other social media. I will still be accessible via email or in person. My hope is this will be like a vacation and I will come away feeling refreshed and whole again. Afterwards I'm thinking I need to have at least a day or two a week off-line.
Kate will most likely still be around, extroverts don't seem to need as much alone time.
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.
We are experimenting with a new blog schedule. I need a bit of structure to get the old creative juices flowing, something to kick my muse into action. Tuesday is to be "Terrible Tuesday."
Exactly what that means, is unknown. Which I think is o.k. Each Terrible Tuesday can and will have to define itself. How will this Tuesday be defined?
I can, and often do, complain about all kinds of things. The corruption in the Kenyan government. The lack of local support for orphan care and lack of outreach to the poor. Fund raising. All the advice we receive on how to run our projects. I have lots of stuff to moan and groan over, but I'll leave those for another Terrible Tuesday.
Right now I am feeling frustrated with the slow pace of development on The Shire. The Shire, for the uninitiated, is almost 12 acres of land we bought to farm, provide income, and house our children. The sooner we are there the sooner we can be helping more children.
I know there are girls and boys who need a place to sleep right now. I know there are children going to bed hungry, naked, and sick. Children with noone to love them unconditionaly. I know these facts, and I am frustrated by that knowledge.
There that is my Terrible Tuesday.