Monday, April 24, 2006

fun climbing

this is gladys in the rock room. the girls came to bracken yesterday and had so much fun! i asked that they all wear trowsers instead of skirts and we went into the rock room. isn't gladys a beautiful little girl? she was so sweet when we first arrived in july and then somehow got really naughty. she was so sweet yesterday just around me and the other girls. when she has to compete for attention with many other kids, she can get mean - she's sweet though.

today we took our friend john and hosea to lukenia to go rock climbing. they loved it and landon and i loved spending that time with them. Landon's so good at teaching hosea things, and hosea is so eager to learn! landon also went climbing saturday with his MCK friends.

we are going on a holiday together to thailand wednesday night. i'm sad to be leaving the orphans for so long, but we are so excited to have a break. So don't worry if you don't hear from us again until the second week of May.

Our highschoolers had their junior/senior banquet Saturday night. I got to help with Sara's hair, and then we went to the banquet and watched the kids enter the restaurant in their beautiful dresses and suits with the dates of their choice, and it was so much fun!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Celebrate Jesus, Celebrate!

I've had that song stuck in my head since Sunday morning. Unfortunately, we did not sing it at church. Of course, we only sang Traditional Baptist Hymns Easter morning. But it was a joy to celebrate the Risen Christ with our little orphans at church. I got to sit next to Edward, our new orphan and we sang together. I am amazed at how good his English is - he can read like a pro and carry a tune at the same time!

Both good Friday and the day after Easter are declared National Holidays here in Kenya, and we desperately need some groceries...

Landon is stuck with some sort of he's had to cancel his climbing trips lately. Poor guy. He's trying to get back on a normal sleeping schedule and finding it hard to do.

This last week we had our first Kenyan visitors at Brackenhurst. Patrick came to our house to check his email, because the computers in Limuru were down, and we got to serve him dinner (chicken stir fry) and tea. He stayed for hours and we got to talk and enjoy each other's company - it was nice. And Easter day, Florah, our old housemom came to visit me. She came on matatu through the rain. We had tea and got to spend time together just talking - she wanted to make sure to see me before i leave for America. She and Patrick are true friends.

Landon is teaching one of our Samburu guards to play basketball. Moses is the tallest guy i know, it is so funny to watch he and Landon play basketball. Moses smiles the entire time and is learning quickly, as Landon is a very good teacher. Moses really likes Landon, and we think Moses is hilarious - it's great that those guys are becoming good friends.

When it rains, we get these terrible, monsterous flying termites that fly around the lights. They are so stupid, after about 15 minutes of colliding into everything (Landon thinks they might be blind), their wings fall off and then they crawl around on the ground. They're not little white ants, like the other termites we have, they're really big and brown. I think they are the most disgusting bugs we have here. They come out of nowhere when it rains, in multitudes! Truly. People here eat them. Once their wings fall off, they fry them up - i hear it is much like popcorn. Last night, Landon asked me to make him some....oh. my. gosh. I am not cooking those bugs in my kitchen, even if it is culture. AH! nasty little terrors. That's how i feel about that.

Today we are taking Patrick to Nairobi to pick up some bed-covers for the orphans. It has gotten pretty cold at night, here in Limuru, those kids need some more bedding. We have added another blanket to our bed also, which has been much needed lately as we sleep with the fan on (thanks Cori and Kevin!). Lately, i have been being eaten alive by mosquitos at night, and they wake us as they buzz around our faces and then we are unable to go back to sleep until we kill them because they continue to buzz and keep us awake. We have found that the fan is the only rememdy. I'm not sure if it blows the mosquito's away, or just drowns out their "buzz", but they're not waking us anymore, so that's good. Actually, i do think i haven't been bitten as much.

It is interesting, the way that the Kenyan Catholics celebrate Easter (i'm not sure if this is similar to the celebration in the states). They have a ceremony form noon-5 on Friday, where they walk around town carrying a huge wooden cross on their shoulders in a large group. The priests walk in front, wearing their garb, and they have a microphone where they preach redemption. We saw two of these demonstrations on Friday on our way to Nairobi, and Florah told me a bit about these ceremonies as she is a very devout Catholic.

We enjoyed our Easter as BMin staff. I made potato salad (it was really bad) and everyone else made their designated American dish, and we celebrated with much joy and feasting!! We hope your Easter celebration was full of joy! We missed you, friends and family, this holiday.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

sad story

This is Susan. Yesterday we went into the tea-plantation villages with little Susan, to visit her grandmother. Unlike the other girls(see Mar. 31 post), when we sat down to talk to her grandmother, Susan sat in her lap. Right away Susan was crying - her huge puppy-dog eyes flooding with tears. Sweetie. Her grandmother was massaging her own bare, arthritic feet while we were talking with her (actually i did no talking - still don't know kikuyu). i held Loise in my lap and Anne held my hand, the girls were getting sleepy. I still can't believe the state of the places people live in here. The cinderblock houses with dirt floors are so simple, so small, without electricity, and yarn strung in a web all across the top of the room as a clothes-line. The walls covered in newspaper for asthetic purposes, dirt floors, and greens in the cooking pot. I loved to watch Susan's grandmother hold susan's little hands. Susan just sat there watching her grandmother's mangled, arthritic fingers carressing her little hands, i felt like in my watching, i was intruding on something really intimate. Her grandmother is dieing of AIDS, Susan's mother died of AIDS, they were tea-pickers. Susan is a pretty sickly looking girl, very very skinny, and mucus always running from her nose, but every HIV test we have given her has come back negative, praise God. Susan was so excited to see her grandma, she didn't stop smiling as i drove her there. On the way back to the centre, she was so straight faced, her thoughts elsewhere. We saw pictures of her mother, and of her as a baby, i wonder if she was remembering her first years...i wonder if she can remember them.

Landon and i are both needing a new book to read, any suggestions?

Yesterday Patrick informed me that some of our 5 year old boys from the village are molesting some of our 5 year old girls from the village on their way home after they leave the centre. Yesterday, one of our new little village girls came to the centre with her grandmother. Her grandmother told Patrick that the boys had asked the little girl to have sex with them, and then damaged her genitals. Where do 5 year olds learn to act like this? Learn these words? These ideas? I almost think that the boys are just as much victims as the little girls. Oh, it was all i could do to keep from crying all day yesterday, and even now as i share this with you. So today the parents of the boys are coming to the centre to be talked to about this. Poor Patrick, isn't quite sure how to handle this. that poor little girl. The whole reason we take these kids from the village for the day besides feeding and teaching them, is to keep them away from the dangers of the villages until their parents are home from work to care for them. And now, we have brought the dangers into our own sanctuary, in the form of 5 year old is this possible? I'm pretty sure this has happened more than once, involving other girls - that's what Patrick made it seem like. I am still waiting for God to shelter his children. When in the Bible, it says that we find sheltered beneath the shadow of his wings, i sometimes wonder if the shadow reaches as far as the villages in Africa, or if maybe it's just harder to "find".

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Boys to Bracken

Sorry so many pictures of Daniel, but we are so crazy about him!!! Today we have the orphan boys over to Brackenhurst after church. Oh, it was so much fun!!! Today was the first time the kids at the orphanage have been separated from each other, besides individual kids leaving to go to the hospital or visit family. It was so weird to separate them. The orphans LOVE Bracken, so they girls were kind of bummed out but i assured them we would have an all-girl's day at bracken in a few weeks. The boys were so excited and kind of giddy when they got in the car - it was special to have a day with the boys, especially because i think that i may give the girls more attention only because the girls are more clingy. We took the boys to the rock room, which none of them have ever visited before. The boys were so cute - half of them thought that the point was to have us pull them up the wall. Some of them were really great little climbers though. Then we went to the play ground, where they have been a few times before, and honestly i think was the hilight of their visit. Then Landon and i took them to Uncle Mikes for coke and "chips".

We stopped at Patrick's house to drop off his boys on the way home and enjoyed strawberry jello and chai tea with his family.

It continues to rain here. Landon has enjoyed torturing the slugs to death (i think he's just afraid of them). THey're huge here, though...kind of nasty creatures.

There are two plant programs here, both of which have their offices and greenhouses behind our cottage. Earlier this week we discovered the most foul smell in our house. Two feet behind our window are 2 piles of compost. Unfortunately, the rotting compost stench will only get worse, we're afraid, as the rainy season drags on. So our house smells like the compost heap behind our house. Blech.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

April showers

It is April. It is Raining. Here in Africa, rain and April are synonymous. The people are rejoicing as the rain has been unceasing - we had only 4 hours without downpour in the last 24. Landon and i are cold and wet and sought cover in our cottage all day today. I can only imagine the muddy mess the orphans must have been in today - and as they were probably kept in the classroom for most of the day, i bet they were more than a handful. I remember days almost like this in October. Those were the days Cori and i dreaded going to the orphanage, because the kids were out of control and filthy dirty. But truly, they are adorable in their tiny colorful golashes and knitted hats. Right now it is pouring, pouring, pouring rain. Landon is in the rock room with MCK friends as they climb in and out of power-outages. I'm sitting here, dry, in our cottage, surrounded by candles...

I've finished 3 books in the last 2 weeks (2 today). It is a pleasure to read whatever i desire this year as throughout college, as a lit major, i had books coming out of my ears - non of which were of my choosing, but all pretty good stuff. So now i'm enjoying reading my own books, even if i've chosen some not-so-good ones.

We're discussing going home more and more. Please pray for us as we try to make the best decision about what to do this coming year. There are more options open to us than we at first realized, and our perfect plan that we had before coming here has gotten some quirks in it.

It is Spring in America and i hear of the flowers blooming and the Spring festivals in every town. And i am not nestalgic - did you know that the flowers here are in full bloom year-round? They are beautiful and so plentiful and wow...Brackenhurst is such a beautiful place.

Today in the cafe, i overheard a lady who just arrived from America as i was enjoying my coffee during tea time. She asked for a frappuccino and wanted to know what sort of flavors they had, and then was embarrassed and upset that they wouldn't take her american dollars. Obviously, Kenyans don't make frappuccino's, and whatever may be called "frappuccino" will not come in any "flavours" or taste like anything but coffee and milk and broken ice. And of course they will not accept her dollars, this is KENYA, not america....and i had to laugh at my irritation, because i think i must have had a conversation at the cafe identical to hers when i had first arrived.

Last night we celebrated a friend's 18th birthday party. Andrew is one of our favorite highschoolers, and Landon's climbing apprentice. He is one of the boys that is terribly inspired by Landon and wants to study outdoor sports (?) when he goes to college in the states this coming fall. He's the sweetest kid ever and we really enjoyed celebrating with him last night.

He, he, i hear the rain coming down through the chimney, and dripping on our tile floor in the bathroom. What a beautiful evening, so calm. I love the sound of the rain.

oh, also, this picture has nothing to do with this post - just a little taste of the regular day-to-day life here in Kenya.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


We have had quite a few days of climbing. Saturday was the maxi-dash. Friday night Landon, Ryland, and i drove to Lukenia where we spent the night at a friend's house. At 6am Saturday morning we were at the base of the first climb with no one else in sight (i was afraid we would be eaten by leopards). Landon and Ryland did a great job - racing to the next route, trying to get as many climbs in as possible. Landon is a "class A" climber and Ryland is a "class B" climber, but because Landon is A, the boys had to climb all A climbs in order to get full points. Each climb has a different amount of points depending. The guys climbed 55 points at Lukenia, and then were the first to leave and head on to Frog. Because Landon is a rookie in Kenya he didn't know the short cuts on the back roads to get around to the climbing areas, so after we shuffled through town, the guys could begin on Frog.

I had never been to Frog. Frog is on the other side of karen blixen's(sp?) famous Ngong Hills, and it is really beautiful there. Frog was where we encountered other climbers. Keep in mind everyone is racing from climb to climb to get as many points as possible. There was a group that would climb up right behind you and then over the top of you and beat you to the top - next year they're making a rule against this. Landon had never led any climbs at Frog so it was more challenging, but he and Ryland still really enjoyed it. At this point, our car would not start without a jump, so when the last climbing team left we had them jump us and felt it best to head home instead of to Hell's Gate. When the day was over the guys had just a bit over 150 points. They did a great job and had a lot of fun.

Sunday we recooperated from our busy Saturday and 3 hours of sleep Friday night. monday morning we set off to hell's gate to join Ryland and many other homeschooler's for rock climbing. We spent the day with them as landon led climbs and i belayed, and in the evening we joined them to Mayer's place. They bottle water from these beautiful natural springs just below Limuru. It was so nice to spend that time with the homeschoolers. We got home yesterday around noon.

Landon went to the MCK meeting last night where everyone got to discuss memories from the Maxi-dash.

This week, our plan is to get started on the child sponsorship program. We're going to go this afternoon, and may be sent into the village with David again.

Next week we're going to take down all the holds in the rock room and give it a fresh coat of paint and some new routes. We are realizing that we don't have much time left here, and want to accomplish as much as we can before we go.