Monday, December 31, 2012

A Church Service and, Sadly, a Funeral

Two of the national workers here at RVA are heavily involved with helping to establish a church at a nearby IDP camp - a camp for people who fled for their lives in the violence that followed the December 2007 election here in Kenya.

These two guys – John and John – are remarkable and not only help with the church, but they also feed close to 200 children from the camp each Sunday.  What a privilege it was for me and a couple of others from RVA to go along with them to the IDP church one Sunday a little while back.

Church is held under a tree on the edge of a field.  When we arrived, people were emerging from the camp carrying benches and chairs.  A few others cleared the area of manure and even swept the ground with brooms made with dried grass.

As they were setting up, the children gathered together and stood in a tight group for Sunday school.  A man led a short lesson about Adam and Eve as someone else showed pictures from a picture book – the one Sunday school resource that the camp owns.

The church service started with singing and dancing and then different groups of children and adults would go to the front to sing a song.

Then the rain started.  As the rain picked up, people scrunched in tighter under the tree for some shelter.  It was a nice soft rain with no wind, which I thought added to the service.  This service was also the kickoff of a fundraising drive to erect a church building and the rain reminded everyone of why it is sometimes nice to meet inside.  (By the way, if you want to contribute to their church building, let me know and I am sure we can find a way for you to do so.)

Toward the end of the service, the rain tapered off.  As I was standing there, I happened to notice the shoes of the boy standing next to me.  Most all of the kids had shoes, but many of them were not in good shape.

After the service, the children were organized in order to feed them. Usually, hard-boiled eggs are brought and each child gets one, but today John and John tried something new and brought a large pot of beans and rice.  The children were lined up youngest to oldest to receive their portion, but the food ran out when there were about 20 of the oldest kids left.  They took the news well.  There is a strong desire to care for the youngest children, so the older kids would rather go without than for one of the younger kids to not have a meal.

The next day I was sitting in our brief daily staff meeting at RVA when I heard sad news – a young girl from the IDP camp who was at the church service died that afternoon when she was run over by a truck.  I can’t imagine the pain of a family who had to flee for their lives a few years ago to now lose their daughter tragically.  Life can be harsh, particularly here in Africa.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Water Conservation . . . is Relative

Back in America I practiced water conservation.  With nine of us living in the house, adding 1.0GPM faucet aerators to the sinks reaped immediate and large benefits.

Now that we have come to Africa, our water conservation has gone to the next level.  For example, when doing laundry we don’t just flush the water from the washing machine down the drain.  We pipe the water from the wash cycle into a barrel outside so it can be used to water plants in the yard.  The water from the rinse cycle we collect into buckets and then pour back into the washing machine when we start the next load’s wash cycle.

There are other practices here at RVA to help reduce water usage – such as the bathroom rule of “If its yellow, let it mellow; if its brown, flush it down.”  But all of these efforts pale in comparison to the water conservation of the nationals around us who have to walk a mile or two into the forest to collect water and then carry it back to their homes.  I will probably never fully grasp how much water I consume in a day because I will probably never have to carry water to my home, but living in a land where water is a precious limited resource has made me more mindful of the water that I use.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

One World Run

One World Run is an international 5K running event where runners run in their own location the world over to help benefit orphans from the AIDs epidemic.  Someone here helped to organize the event at RVA and there were over 160 runners that finished the event plus a lot of people who did the 5K fun walk.  Five of our kids ran the event and CrazyMom and the other two walked.  Running a 5K on the sloping side of a mountain at 7200 feet is no easy task and it was great to see how well the kids did.  Buddy finished 14th overall in the race and Ed finished 3rd in her age group.  Here are some fun shots from the event.
FG ready to run!

Ed, Miss Bookworm, and a friend.

Anna with her big sisters.

Where's Waldo?  I don't know, but if you look closely you can find Miss Bookworm, Ed, and FG all in the pack somewhere.

Little Foot walking with CrazyMom.  No, I did not intentionally cut off her head.  :-)

These N guys made it a N+1 legged race.

Buddy looking to overtake the guys in front of him.

Buddy crossing the finishing line.  14th out of over 160 runners!

FG coming to the finish line.

KD finishing strong.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Coffee Staining

We all know coffee stains pretty badly, so when you acquire an off white slightly stained rug for your house – and have some free child labor – rather than reaching for the bleach, grab a hot pot of strong coffee.  Buddy and his friend stained a rug we got at a garage sale using coffee and it turned out great.

Pinewood Derby

One of the annual events here at Rift Valley Academy is the Pinewood Derby.  Imagine trying to host an event with hundreds of cars made by students when the parents are not around.  It is amazing to me that the woodshop teacher – along with an army of helpers – can pull this off.  Four of our children made cars and K.D.’s car ended up being very fast.  (I wish I could take some credit for this, but he built the entire thing at the woodshop without me.)  K.D. won the speed award for his age group and he came in with the fourth fastest time out of all of the cars that raced that day.  Very impressive!
K.D. celebrating the first time his car went down the track and he won.

K.D. receiving his award from the Master Craftsman himself.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

CrazyMom's Birthday

CrazyMom had a birthday last month (her 29th or something like that).  It had a distinctly Kenyan flair since her gifts from the family were all local products.  For example, I gave her a gourd with a nativity scene in it.  We also took CrayzMom out for dinner . . . at the school cafeteria.  While the “cafo” did not have people walking around playing music with violins, they did have a bunch of my students singing happy birthday to her.  What more could one ask for on their birthday?  I should also note that once the students finished singing, one of them asked me if they could get extra credit for helping to make CrazyMom’s birthday special.