Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Sun

The other day Anna was playing with one of her new friends who does not know much English.  When the sun came out from behind the clouds, I said, "The sun, the sun!"  The little girl immediately sang a little song about the sun and getting ready in the morning.  I am not sure if this is something they teach in school or if she learned it somewhere else, but it sure was cute!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Kenyan Church Experience

On Sunday we ventured forth to go to church and an adventure we did have.  We got ready in the morning while the power was out and then we walked about half a mile out to a main road that was paved.  There a cultural guide hailed down two mutatus (smaller than a minivan and used like public transportation busses) that were half full and negotiated for all of the people to get out of one and into the other one so that one of them would be empty.  We then packed 10 people into 7 seats and the driver went off his normal route to take us to church.

We arrived right at 10:00 am, just when the service was supposed to be starting.  We thought we were late since the service was in session, but it turned out that it was an earlier service that had not let out yet.  We hung out in the church yard for nearly an hour trying to learn Swahili from the kids while we waited for the first service to finish.

The service (in Swahili) got started just before 11 am.  It was packed.  The ushers would bring someone down and show them to a pew that looked like it was already full, but then everybody in the pew would scrunch a little bit more and the person could sit down.  The pews were so close together that when we stood up, I could not stand up straight and had to keep my knees slightly bent. 

A mom with lots of kids joined us in our pew.  When she sat down, she was pressed up against me so that there would be room for everybody.  When we stood up next, she did not stand up.  When went to sit down, I saw why – she was nursing a baby and I had to work my way back into a sitting position scrunched between the two pews, CrazyMom, and the baby's head cradled in her mom's arms. 

The first hour was a lot of great music and prayer.  I really enjoyed all that was going on.  Most of the songs I did not know but some of the songs were great hymns of the faith sung in Swahili.  At one point about 15-20 young adults got up and did a choreographed dance to what seemed like a more modern worship song.  The African flair to this worship time was fun to experience.

An hour into the service, one of the men on stage stood up and appeared to be reading a prepared statement.  I heard the English word “constitution” when he was talking and figured it was something about the church constitution.  When he finished, someone from the crowed stood up and started speaking passionately about what the man had read and a man from the choir stood up evidently to argue the other side of things.  The two of them went back and forth about the issue at hand and there was lots of murmuring throughout the congregation.  Suddenly, there was a big commotion and about a third of the people got up and walked out of the church while people who were standing in back because there were no seats for them moved forward to get seats.  The women and her children next to me left and two older girls slipped into their spots.  Things then settled in as if nothing had happened and the service when on.

The preacher pointed us out and said something about the church's love for their brother and sisters in the Lord who could not speak Swahili.  During his sermon he would occasional use an English word, phrase, and sometimes even a few sentences.  It was just enough so that we could follow along.  I could not tell if he was doing this for our benefit or if he normally flows between English and Swahili in this bilingual country.

After the 2 hour and 15 minute service, we decided to walk home rather than trying to figure out how to get all of us in multiple mutatus.  It took about 40 minutes to walk back to where we were staying and since we got there late, lunch was over and most of the food was gone.  CrazyMom had a loaf of bread and peanut butter in the room for just an occasion such as this and I walked out and bought 9 bananas and 9 oranges for 135 Kenyan shillings, which is a little over $1.50 USD.

I look forward to the time when I know a little Swahili and understand the culture better so that I will be able to worship with our Kenyan brothers and sisters rather than just sitting in a service trying to figure out what in the world is going on.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Lions Can Get Out

“This is the Nairobi National Park,” our driver was saying as we passed by a high wall.  It seemed a bit strange to us to have animals – such as lions – roaming about in the large park inside of a city, but the driver assured us that they can't get out.

A hour later we were sitting through a presentation at the Giraffe Center whose goal is to be a breeding ground for Rothschild giraffes, which are endangered.  With a 15 month gestation period, you don't get too many calves in a year, so CrazyMom asked how many were born last year.

“We were fortunate,” said the presenter.  “We had five calves born last year.”

“But then,” he went on, “some lions snuck out of the Nairobi National Park and killed two of our calves.”

So the lions can get out . . .

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Miss Social

“Dad, can I go to the playground with my friends?” Anna was asking me. I looked up expecting to see some of the other kids from our group, bur rather saw two kids from the local area here in Machakos, Kenya.

For those of you who know Anna, you know how social she is. It takes her just a few moments to make friends wherever she is. When an adult comes up to me and says that they met one of my kids, I usually ask them if the child hugged them. If they say yes, then I know it was Miss Social.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Little Tourism

After two days of rest and getting some things in order, we were ready to head out today from the guesthouse.  We visited the Giraffe Center where they are breeding Rothschild giraffes to help build their population.  We also went to the elephant orphanage that takes in elephants that have been orphaned by poachers or natural means.  Ed is a big fan of elephants, so here she is with her best friends.

The highlight of the elephant center for me was taking KD to the bathroom and discovering that they had a lock on the outside of the door.

I could not come up with a reason why the lock would be on the outside other than to lock people in while they were using the bathroom, so of course, I had to lock KD in.  I am happy to report that it worked quite well.  KD could not get out until I unlocked the door.

We leave the guest house tomorrow and head to ABO - Africa Based Orientation.  It is a three week long training that will give us a jump start on figuring out how to get along well in Africa.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

First Captured Lizard

Here is the first captured lizard.  Buddy was chasing it down, but it was Anna who was able to grab the lizard's tail and pull him out of his hiding spot.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Good Night Kisses . . .

. . . through a mosquito net.

We Made It!

We arrived late last night safe and sound at the guest house in Nairobi.  We did not lose a single kid along the way, although one bag has not made it to us yet.

Here are a few photos of the trip over.  The morning we left we had to weigh the final bins that were packed.

Then we zip-tied the lids on.

Here is the U-Haul which carried our luggage to the airport.

The kids hauling the bags in to the ticket counter.

F.G. and Miss Bookworm guarding our carry-on bags (well, most of our carry-on bags).

A final wave from grandpa as he left the airport.

The boys doing the official weighing of the bags at the ticket counter.

The gang in the Heathrow airport in London.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

“F” is for Farewell

Part of the training we received in preparation for the field was about leaving well. The acronym was RAFT. “R” and “A” are for reconciliation and affirmation. Before heading out of the country it is good to take care of business at home with each of one's relationships by reconciling with them if needed and affirming them. In fact, we should be doing this all of the time regardless of whether or not we are leaving the country.

A photo CrazyMom's father took as we drove away.
Then comes the “F.” The “F” is for farewell. This is the stage that we have been living in for the last month as we have been saying goodbye to colleagues, church members, friends, and family. There have been tears shed along the way - particularly in that final moment of parting when there hangs in the air the weight of separation. As I have gone through this, in some small way I can now better understand the images I see of couples parting as one goes off to war while the other stays behind. How much more difficult of a parting that must be. While we are leaving many family and friends behind, we are thankful that the nine of us will be together on this journey.

The “T” is for transition. There will be some significant challenges for us over the next few months as we transition from here to Kenya, spend three weeks at Africa Based Orientation, and then travel to Rift Valley Academy to settle in and start teaching. We are excited about the future, but please pray for us as we transition.

Africa or BUST

One of the stops we got to make before heading out of the country was at my sister's house. She and her family had shirts made for the occasion, which was a lot of fun and very, very thoughtful.

Thank you guys! We love you!

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Pocket-Picker, the Finisher, and the Cross-Master

**Two days until we leave for Kenya and I am posting about soccer. Sounds crazy, but this is one of those posts that I have had on my to-do list for a month and today I get that check mark.**

Here are three clips of a few seconds each of the girls playing soccer. First up is Miss Bookworm at left defender. Sometimes the coach would feel that she was not aggressive enough in going after 50/50 balls, but she had a preference to not take the risk on a 50/50 but rather wait for the striker to make a move and then pick her pocket.

I was standing along the sideline of a game halfway through the season when Ed shot on goal and the goalie made a great save. I cheered. All of the parents turned to look at me like I was a heartless father. But you see, Ed already had two goals and the opposing team was clearly not going to mount a comeback to win. If she scored a third goal, then I would have had to take the whole family out for ice cream according to family tradition. That goalie saved a goal and saved me $25. I was happy.

Word got out about “Hat Trick = Family Ice Cream” and I think the coaches liked to see me sweat so they started playing Ed more up front as the Finisher rather than center mid as the Distributor. In the first game of the final tournament Ed scored two goals so the coaches should have pulled her from the front line, but everybody knew that family ice cream was on the line. Well, here is the ice cream goal, as you can tell with KD yelling “Ice cream! Ice Cream!” after she scores.

FG usually played right striker and was tenacious with sticking with the ball until she got the cross off. About every clip I have of her playing seems to end with a nice cross. The team scored many goals off of her crosses, although not on this clip.