Monday, May 29, 2006

fun with the fam.

our wonderful family and friends have arrived to kenya! We picked them up from the airport last night, and enjoyed a joyously full day with them today! The picture of Justin and Anna is at the Kiambethu Farm, where we learned all about the ends-and-outs of growing and harvesting tea. Our time there included Calabus monkeys and a British lunch! Then we enjoyed an afternoon at the orphanage where we got to hear the children sing their "welcome" songs, and Justin, Anna, Erik, and Kristin got a tour of the Centre. The orphans were, of course, so welcoming and LOVED having visitors who loved on them.

Tomorrow we will take our first (and hopefully not last) trip to DP where we will introduce our guests to the Indian food that we have grown a tooth for. I may miss DP while i'm in the states more than i've missed Starbucks here(can you imagine!?! my mother-in-law would tell me that if i'm saying stuff like this, i must have been in kenya too long).

Well, we must get some sleep, as Landon is gettin up SOOO early in the morning to drive 1 1/2 hours to Naivasha to set up climbs for the camp kids.

We're loving time with family and friends and feel so blessed to have them here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

african wounds

africa....i have so many emotions that duel within me. feelings of wanting to go home challenge my love for these people and this place. i fear that i will never be the same without africa - that i will return home and always rather be here. but of course, i don't know if this well happen, i just know that it does happen - landon always wanted to come back after his summer here- always yearning for africa...i fear this for me. i fear that i will go home and regret that i never truly appreciated my time here. i don't think i will really understand africa, or what it has done to me until i leave it. right now, i'm just trying to take it all in, trying to make it through in one piece, which is harder than it should be, i think.

i read "the poisonwood bible", have you read that? every woman in that book that left africa, always needed to return there some day - and lived their lives wounded by africa. their whole lives were changed forever because of their short time in africa. i wonder if it will be this way for me. i do know that i am wounded by this place. i don't know how to explain it, but there is just something that africa has broken inside of me - something that i'm not sure ever could (or should) be mended. i'm somehow always on the brink of tears, and always despising, needing, and adoring africa. i'm so thankful for my time here. i will have to tell you about how i have changed when i get home. as far as i can tell, i'm pretty much the same, just hurting more in my heart.

each day i hate leaving the orphans. they escort me out the gate and then watch me drive away with their smiling faces pushed against the orphanage fence and their arms flailing in violent good-bye's. they're always being left behind, aren't they?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

this weekend

I had the kids to Bracken for the last time before we leave. We had so much fun, though, the kids are finally so familiar with me and with brackenhurst that they are not as behaved as they used to be. After they were here for 2 1/2 hours, i was ready for them to leave. They were a handful! Plus, now that Cori has left, it is harder for me to manage the kids alone - especially because i can't understand them and they can't understand me. But we still had a lot of fun. Landon and I just got some new neighbors in language school with really young, beautiful children. When the kids went to the playground, there were 2 little blonde girls there playing(see Abby, the oldest in picture). My kids were SO excited to see these little white kids in person. They were like little dollies for the orphans - they chased them around and picked them up and pinched them, pulled their hair, touched their clothes and their white, white skin. My kids were amazed, and the little girls were terrified. I, honestly, had no idea what to do - i had never seen my kids behave that way with other children - i was watching them so closely to make sure they didn't do anything harmful to the little girls. Each of the little girls cried a thousand times, but i think they were our friends by the end of the day.

That was yesterday. Saturday, we had lunch outside of Limuru with David Kimani, the teacher i taught with at the orphanage. He took us to his home to meet his family. His kids had never seen white people up close before, and they were so shy. By the evening, i discovered that his kids (and their friends) spoke excellent english and i had some wonderful and funny conversations with the girls. They asked me for a lock of my hair (what!?!), and they wanted to know what it was that i ate that made me white and what it was that they ate that made them black...hehe. They loved to touch my skin and my hair, and were amazed that the orphans were my friends. They found Landon's goatee terrifying and his long hair strange. David gets payed better than the other workers at the orphanage, and his wife is a manager at the place in which she works - i expected them to live differently than the other kenyans i know, but they don't really. They had more furniture, and glass dishes, but the dirt floors and cinderblock walls were the same as all the others. Though David lived with his father, and they had many farm animals. His wife served us rice and bacon for lunch. I brough a cake, which was a mess. We enjoyed our time with them SO much! It was very sweet for him to invite us and for his wife to accommodate us.

Wow, Landon is going to have the rock room finished by today - and it looks amazing!!! (pictures to come soon). Already this afternoon, he has started gathering building materials so he can begin his work on the 50ft tower tomorrow. He is working so hard! And doing a really great job. Though, he took some time away from the rock room Sunday to play with the kids on the playground - see picture of him comforting Daniel who just fell off of the teeter-totter. Daniel ADORES Landon. It has come to the point that when i get to the orphanage and Landon isn't with me, instead of saying hello to me, Daniel walks up and asks where Landon is, "wapi Landon?" And if Landon is at the Centre, but Daniel can't find him, he'll look for him until he succeeds - he follows Landon around everywhere. If Daniel didn't have a big brother, we really would be taking him home with us...Landon loves little Daniel...he's such a daddy to him.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

"Hannah will never leave us"

"Mi Bebe, Hannah, Mi Bebe" is what the children say when they want to be picked up. It's kikuyu, and they're adorable. Little Mary had probably just said that to me a few minutes before this picture was taken. The babies here, ride on their mother's backs so their moms can carry things and tend to other children without having one hand always on the baby...It's precious to carry these children on my back, since they have been without a mother to carry them. On this day, Landon was carrying around a camelion and scaring the children with it. Kenyans do not like chamelions - they are affiliated with magic and serpants. And everyone knows that it is the serpant's fault that we must die. It's hilarious to watch these kids keeping their curious short distance from Landon as he lets the reptile crawl on his arms. Mary was especially afraid and was screaming in my ear this day as Landon tried to taunt her with the lizard. You should hear her giggle. I think she's got the cutest little girl giggle i've I ever heard.

I talked to a few women last week about our leaving in 3 weeks. I voiced to them my sadness about leaving the orphans. And my regret for attributing to the pattern of abandonment in their lives. Both of these women started crying (i talked to them on different occasions) and voiced to me that, yes, these kids will have a hard time giving their hearts away to people in their future if me and everyone else keeps leaving them. Man, i cried myself to sleep those nights in regret, trying to devise a way to stay with them forever... i have not discovered a realistic plan yet, besides never leaving Kenya, or adopting some children for myself - these didn't go over so well with Landon, though. Good thing he's around, he's the brains and reason in our relationship. One of the woman (Patrick's wife) told me that she was telling the kids that i would leave them some day and the children told her, "no, Hannah will never leave us."

I'm so confused right now. Will this year with these kids be in vain in my leaving them? And this also makes me torn about missions - not sure if i think it's a good idea to go somewhere and shower upon them God's love and then just leave them. Still thinking about these things, though. Right now, i'm trying to spend as much time with the kids as possible, (and loving it!) and just trusting that God is mightier than my coming and leaving and he will use me and this time for his glory, even if i don't see a way around leaving and hurting these kids.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


friends and family, it's official - we're moving to Asheville, NC when we return to America. But before we move all our stuff into a motorhome in this beautiful place, we will be returning to our home cities to see family and friends (YOU!!). so please be available to see us - just a few weeks, and we've been missing you for a year and will be gone for the next year. So i've been looking for jobs and apartments via the world-wibe-web (any ideas?).

I'm loving kenya more and more lately. The weather has grown cold - a lot like when we first got here. And i think my attitude has changed to be like it was when we first arrived: so romanticized by Africa and eager to be with the people here. Which is a good attitude to have before i leave, i think. Being here, i grew tired of Kenyans and Kenya and wanted a change. Thailand was a nice change, and now we have 2 weeks until justin and anna get here and i'm loving spending time with our staff and our orphans. I love the smell of burning eucalyptus... hehe, manuer has been added to the compost behind our house - lovely! anyways - basically, i'm loving Kenya, Kenyans, BMin, and being here!!!

PLEASE try to see us when we're in the States.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Thoughts on leaving

We're leaving soon. This is a picture of me and the orphan girls at Brackenhurst. Such sweeties. Today i made Chipati's with the ladies at the orphanage - we cooked lunch for 100 people - whew! i'm exhausted, i'm not sure how those ladies do that every day. I love to cook with them. As they cook in their tiny tiny kitchen, they talk about woman stuff. They tell stories about their children and ask what husbands value most in their wives... women from around the world must be a lot alike! About every 10 minutes, Jane #3 stops and gives me a recap of what they've been talking about since i don't understand Kikuyu. But i do love to sit and listen to their laughter and their voices - i can't figure out how they understand each other when they all talk at once! Oh, i love those ladies!

Jane told us a terrible story about a friend of hers who lost her children. She said that she had no money for food, and every day her 3 kids would ask her for food and the mother would put water on the stove and told them to wait until the water boils for dinner - but she would never light a fire beneath the stove and the children would eventually fall asleep hungry. Jane said her friend would do this for days because she could not feed her children. Wow, i can't imagine! She said one day she came home and the house was on fire and the children were locked inside. The children all burned to death. I don't know how the fire got started. Such a sad story. All the women have many stories of losing loved ones, mostly to AIDS. I am so fortunate that they share their lives with me.

Wow, we'll be in Georgia in less than a month...and i'm not as excited as i once was (though still excited). Many days would pass that i would cry myself to sleep from missing home and family and now i don't want to leave! Well, i am excited to see friends and family and Colorado and return to the comforts of America, but i don't want to leave the kids. They make my day every day. If i ever feel desperate for home, those children change my mind quickly. I don't know what i will do when i have to say goodbye to them. I had 4 people ask me about our leaving today. They want to know who will come after me - who will i bring to fill my place? I hate to tell them that there is no one. When i leave, i leave them alone - they are so sad to hear that no one is coming to take my place, but they are trusting that God will bring them someone. They want us to extend our stay, or come back next year...they don't understand the financial difficulty of coming to Africa...i would love to return and see the kids when they are older - but that will not be for quite a few years. I am sad to leave.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

hannah in thailand

beauties of Thailand

Landon in Thailand

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

back "home"

Hey! We are back in Kenya and glad to be "home" (once we reach adulthood, do we ever actually have a home again? Ever since i left my parents house 5 years ago, i have been homeless, in a sense)...anyway, geez, let's not go on that tangent!

After our 13 hour bus ride, 18 hour lay-over in Bangkok, and 10 hour plane ride to Kenya, we arrived this morning at 4:30am. I'm just about to join Landon for a nap, but wanted to report that we are home safe and had so much fun in thailand.

it was so weird to leave kenya - to go some place not third-world. Landon and i marveled at neatly paved streets, street lights, McDonalds, reliable transportation, and CNN. It was also strange to be in a place without any Africans... It was refreshing to be somewhere that was safe and clean, where the people are barefoot because they choose to be, and people aren't starving.

We saw some remnants of the devistation inflicted by the tsunami winter of '04. They're still rebuilding beaches and buildings. Landon and i wondered how the people were each personally affected. The Thai people were very sweet (couldn't speak a lick of English), yet i really felt for them. To know that they went through such a tragedy and then to see them seeking solace in bronze buddha's and intricate temples... what a lost people.

We really enjoyed the Thai culture. of course, Thai food was incredible! i guess it's really in style for both men and women to wear mullets - i kid you not! the long boat drivers stand on the side of the road and say, "Hello, Taxi Boat" to us every 13 steps we take. Landon and i (more landon than i) started to jokingly call each other "Taxi Boat" by the end of our trip.

We did get to go climbing. i always feel so stupid when i am the one to blog about the rock climbing...i don't know anything. The cliffs (see the picture from may 2 post) were of limestone - with stalagtites and little pockets in the rock...really different from anything we've ever climbed before. The climbing was really challenging, too, not many routes for beginners. It's amazing though, to climb these cliffs and then look over across the "azure sea" (as landon would call it).

It was funny to see the way Western people reacted to certain things, which i would have reacted to the same way if i had not just come from kenya. i ate everything i wanted...didn't worry about stomach sickness - if my digestive system can withstand kenya, it can withstand anything! monkeys. people giggled in joy as they fed monkeys and took their pictures. i hate monkeys - i could've booted those things if i weren't so afraid of them. don't feed the monkeys - it just encourages them to attack humans for food!!! people were really sweet to all the people haggling items on the beach - i get that every day here and have lost my polite "oh, how beautiful, but no thank you" response. now i simply say, "no", in which they respond, "later?", "NO". no eye contact made, just to the point. what a missionary i've turned out to be, huh? sharing the love of christ not only in africa, but asia as well!

you must know, that when we landed in thailand, they took a disinfectant spray to the inside of the plane and asked us to cover our mouths and noses while they sprayed us. then, when we went to get our passports stamped, because we came from africa, they made us go to the doctor - you have to receive immunizations before you enter thailand, so you don't give the thai's some nasty african disease (of which there are many). good thing we had our shot cards! i just think it's funny the precautions the world takes against africa...

speaking of the world and africa, is anyone going to do anything about the genocide in sudan? we should have learned our lesson before, with hitler and the jews, the hutu's and the tutsi's - why does this continue to happen and baffle us and we sit and watch and talk about how devistating it is. why doesn't anyone take any action!!? but what kind of action would a country take? bush commented on CNN last night, "there was a cease fire ordered in 2004" - as if that should have solved things...2 years later and thousands are dead. why can't the world help africa? how do you save a continent from AIDS, starvation, genocide? i mean, really - if you save all the children from dieing of malaria, then they starve to death...same with AIDS, right? AIDS leaves children orphaned, which also leaves them starving, and if we cured AIDS, then the people would die of starvation or malaria or something else...pretty much, the poverty, the sin of this world, hurts the children most. i don't know much about any of this, but i know that it will take a bigger solution than teaching abstainance and handing out a malaria vaccine- these kids need food, they need parents, they need jesus. there is no way to reach a child without fulfilling their most important needs first. we can't teach them without feeding them first. we can't teach them about the love of jesus without loving them first. meeting the spiritual need in africa will take more than showing a "Jesus Film". These people have material and emotional needs that need to be tended to before they will be open to the gospel - that's my opinion.

this is also a part of the problem when it comes to reaching africa, though. we can't just come here and pour upon them food and material possessions then give them a few sermons and pray with them and leave. that's what they expect from us. we're missionaries, and we're white. So, my African friends, once they know my name, will beckon for me to pay for the children's school fees, give them my shoes, buy them medicine...and all those things are important, but what i came to offer these people is overshadowed by what they want from me. landon and i get so frustrated sometimes - it's a hard line... we want to help our friends - if their kids don't go to school, then they can't get a job and then their own children will starve some day. yet, are we disabling them by giving them things they want? are we hindering our ministry to them by being a money tree? i think landon and i have been really good about when to help and when to say no, but it is a really painful decision that we have to make often. and it makes us question our relationships with our kenyan friends here - are they really selfless friendships, or are they just using us to get what they want? i dono, it's tricky.

wow, this post wasn't supposed to go in this direction, sorry. pictures from thailand later.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

long boats are the main mode for transportation on the water around here. on land, everyone drives mopeds. longboats are like matatu's - cramming too many people actually even have to walk out into the ocean to get on one - it's a thai experience. isn't it beautiful here?

"pee pee"

writing you from Phi Phi island (pronounced "pee pee"), thailand. not much time to write, as writing costs bhats per minute. but wanted to write you all to tell you that we are safe and enjoying our vacation in thailand! it took me a few days to get out of the missionary mode and into the tourist mindset. we went scuba diving today and saw 2 sharks!!(vegetarian sharks) we are loving our time here and i can't keep my mind off of our little orphans that we miss greatly. we're collecting a sea shell for each one of them and all the village kids as well! i bet they've never seen anything from the sea before. well, we're safe, mom, and really enjoying our break from Kenyan life. can you believe we can walk around at night without our counter-assault? it's awesome! landon and i have yet to do any rock climbing here, but will tomorrow when we arrive at railay beach back on the main-land. we are both really looking forward to that. we love you all, and will write again once we return (may 9 - a week from today).