Sunday, March 29, 2009

Me and the Dogs

See, the bottom line is, I'm a Cat Person. Always have been, always will be. I WANT a cat. But, I'm not at home a lot, these days, so it's a good decision to wait.

But here, well... we have three guard dogs. Mocha, Java and Chai (the girl). I'm not sure how clear anything about here is to you, but while we CURRENTLY live in the Office/Guest House, the goal is to have everyone living out at the Property. This is where the Children currently live with the House Parents. I know I have also spoken of Kambi Teso. Kambi Teso is a slum area where we have the Feeding Program, which is a separate deal.

Homes are being built for the Children at the Property - hopefully sooner rather than later. There were traditional mud homes already there, which is where they are currently living, and they will get new homes, but that is not the point of today's post.

Today's post is about the dogs. They are for our safety. Like the Security Guards - WELFARE OFFICERS, as we call them, as they are looking out for the Welfare of our children. (We have one at the Office/Guest House, too, but again, that's a separate post)

ANYhow, today it was thought it would be a good idea to take Mocha to the Property to let him start getting acquainted with the children and the dog that's already there. It's a 30 minute drive from us to them. We all went out in the "truck" - oh no, Mocha doesn't ride in the BED of the truck. That would freak him out. He rides like this...

Or maybe he rides more like this...

Well ONE of us is happy with this idea...

Awww, look... he likes me...

No, really, that makes me SO happy...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Doing the Dishes at Our House

Life here is great. We have hot water in the shower!!! Woo hoo!! But we don't have hot water anywhere else, so doing the dishes is a bit more effort than back home. I thought I would like to share the process with you. Of course, we have a maid who does our dishes Monday - Friday during the day, but we still have to do them every night AND on the weekends - I know, feel sorry for us...

So, here's how it works:

First we have two bowls. One for the soapy water and one for rinsing.

Then we heat the water up in our electric kettle.

Then we pour the water into our "wash bowl",

and mix it with cold water so we can put our hands in.

Also, we have really nice dish soap called Axiom - it's Grapefruit scented - but isn't nice and strong like what we have in the States - also is NOT really a grease cutter like at home... Meaning, sometimes we wash things twice... or say "what the heck! TIA (this is Africa!)
And here's where we rinse and drain.

Come on over! The great news is if you COOK, you don't have to wash, so bring some of your favorite recipes and we'll see you at the airport!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

True stories from Kenya

Yeah, I didn't take that photo since I haven't seen any elephants here.

I SO PROMISE that I am not making the following up.

Kenya can be a very interesting place. One thing that I LOVE is that there is NO AMERICAN FAST FOOD here. Not a McDonalds or Burger King to be found. ANYWHERE. I LOVE THAT.

And some of the store names are hilarious. For example, the other day I passed the Jambo Hair Saloon... yep.

So, the Fire Marshall came to the Office at our request to train the staff in fire safety. He related a couple of stories about the lack of understanding in fire safety, here in Kenya.

Apparently, there was a big fire in a store here, and when the Fire Marshall went there he asked the Store Manager what they had done with the Fire Extinguishers. The Manager said, "We tried them, but they didn't work! We threw them all into the fire and nothing happened."

No, I'm serious. No, SERIOUSLY, I'm serious.

A very sad situation is the looting situation. There was a fire in a department store and the managers were so worried about people looting the store that they locked the door and there were still people in who burned to death. True, sad story.

And there was a tanker filled with petrol that overturned and people were clambering over it in an INSTANT looting the petrol. Some guy who was looting as well lit up a CIGARETTE and the whole thing blew up and killed hundreds of people. They ran a story about it in the paper, obviously, as it was such a tragedy.

The following week another tanker overturned. filled with flour. Some guy lit up a cigarette and the other looters turned on him, shouting, "Did you not read the papers? You're going to blow the whole thing up..."

And then they beat him so severely that he ended up in the hospital. But... you must take flour explosions seriously.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This is Gad

And I LOVE him. He is so sweet, smiley and full of hugs! He's 5 and wants to be a Policeman. This is his very straight pose - like a policeman should stand.

And this is Gad sitting outside of the house, protecting us... :)

The stick should especially protect us, don't you think?!

Faces by Phyllis

awww shucks - you guys were so sweet about my last post - you even commented!!!

Okay - these were taken by Phyllis - age 8. I think she's so clever. And I hope you haven't created a monster by encouraging me to post photos...

Peter Kamelli - (we just call him Kamelli - he's the Head House Parent and WONDERFUL!)

Kelvin, age 8

Brenda - one of the team members who stayed on a bit longer. Very sweet lady.

Collins - he's 9 and I love him!

yes, Collins...

Rachel - Founder and President of Open Arms International

Ruth - head of Office Administration, etc. She's from the UK, but I STILL love her!

but they DIDN'T break my camera!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

At the Village

Here we go. Some photos of me here. These were taken today at the Village with the kids. After Church, (which we have there - 24 kids and their House Parents and the six of us and other various people make our own fairly large church). Anyway... after Church, Phyllis asked if she could use my camera. So, I let her - and Kelvin - and probably several others...

seriously - these kids are so wonderful. They love each other, care for one another, are sweet and kind and good. And have some horrifically terrible stories.

Enough of the talk - here are the pics.

Me with Ian! He's four and this picture was taken be Kelvin - age 8.

By Phyllis - age 8

with Melody - taken by ? not sure, but I liked her grip on the camera - fingers over the front.

John - darling, eh? No idea who took this. He's 4.

So, some girl wanted a photo of their stuffed animals. And this is the girls' bedroom at one of the houses...

Okay - sorry I know this may have been a bit of overkill.

But, one last photo - this is the precious, beautiful Baby Diana - more about her in the next couple of days. She's usually much more smiley, but this is the first day I've worn makeup... so...

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Clash of Cultures

No not between me and Africa. Rather, the US and the UK!

In the Office/Guest House, lives Renee (Canadian, but fairly US-unized because she lived there for so many years). Now Me, and long long term is Ruth. Ruth is from Manchester, England.

So, last night we somehow got on the topic of words we say differently. I think it started with Renee asking Ruth if she says "Pop" or "Soda". Ruth seemed confused, so Renee clarified by asking what she calls carbonated beverages. While Ruth was thinking, Renee said she says CB. "May I have a CB please?" Ruth says she says Fizzy Drink. And as we looked on in questioning belief, she said that when she's at a restaurant, she asks if they serve fizzy drinks. So, on the conversation went, until the inevitable topic of ALUMINUM foil came up. Of course the British say "Aluminium" (a-loo-MIH-nee-uhm). But seriously, there's no extra "i" anywhere in the packaging. I have done a THOROUGH search of this, and even Ruth concedes that there's no extra I in the word, but THAT IS THE WAY IT IS PRONOUNCED. She says the ENGLISH KNOW their ENGLISH.

I even looked it up on Wikipedia, and THIS is the first sentence in their entry:

Aluminium foil (known as aluminum foil in North America) is aluminium prepared in thin metal leafs, with a thickness less than 0.2 mm / 0.008 in, although much thinner gauges down to 0.006 mm are commonly used.
As opposed to OUR Aluminum foil (correctly spelled and pronounced, Renee and I might add).

But, SERIOUSLY, THIS is how it's spelled:

Renee thought we could settle the dispute by seeing how the Kenyans spell it, seeing as how they were a British colony until the 1960's, this seemed reasonable. So, she pulled open the drawer where we keep such supplies and, Voila! this is what we found...
I need your help - please weigh in your thoughts on this topic. WHICH way is correct?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Bus

It's a very nice bus. With seating for 25. It's a Mercedes, for heaven sake... :)

But this bus sometimes has problems, as many vehicles do.

This is the bus that is used to take the children where they need to go. When there is a team in town, doing medical missions, etc, they use this bus. When we do the Feeding Program, this bus is used. This bus is needed.

So, when it breaks down, it is not so good.

It broke down last week. It was fixed over the weekend. A tire caught on fire because the brakes were bad.

On Monday morning we were loading up the bus at 9:30 to go out to Kambi Teso with all of the Medical Supplies, tents, etc.

But the call at 9:15 let us know that the battery had died. Actually, BOTH batteries. I didn't know a bus used two, but it makes sense, being a big bus and all. And it would take an hour to charge them before Levi could bring the bus our way.

In the meantime, we loaded the tents into the truck. The Security Guards (Welfare Officers) got to sit back there WITH the tents to keep them secure... I don't know how excited they were, back there in the all black uniforms, WITH LONG SLEEVE GREEN WOOL SWEATERS, holding on to tents, in 90 degree weather, for half an hour. But, hey it's a job...

So, an hour later the bus rumbles up to the Office. There appears to be something wrong with some sort of belt, so a mechanic is asked to come quickly. And he WAS here quickly. Like lightning for Africa.

Finally, we load up. It's 11:30 by this time. Then Levi says, "Oh, very bad thing. The Worst thing."
"What Levi?"
"The key just broke off in the ignition."
I'm not kidding, folks...
FORTUNATELY we are in AFRICA!!!! And the mechanic is still there.... so he HOT WIRES the bus and we are good to go!!

Yee hah! Africa!

Friday, March 13, 2009

More from Kambi Teso

It's so amazing how thankful the children are for anything. I know I told you there was no well out there, so when we go, we bring a twenty gallon jug, a 10 gallon and then two 5 gallon jugs. We also fill up any bottles we have used in the office, and then we pass it out. On Thursday, we actually went back (30 minute drive) to the Office to refill the big ones. Okay, Levi went back to get the water.

Here are some photos of the Village Ladies ladling out the water.

These are the tents.

The large one was where we had Registration (they came on Monday and got a Registration card where we wrote their name, age and gender.) There were 100 cards for every day, and they were color coded. However, Tuesday we saw 155, Wednesday we saw 182, and Thursday we saw 205. On Wednesday, 148 people were tested for HIV. Only 9 were positive. Yeay! Of course, many who suspect or know simply may not want to be tested because they don't want to know the truth, but it's still refreshing to see those numbers be low. After Registration they went to Triage, where they had their temperature, heart rate and blood pressure taken.

This is the inside of the large tent - unfortunately, this is after we had taken most of the stuff down. Sorry! But those poles are where we had sheets up for the different doctor's screening rooms, and the end is where the Pharmacy was set up.

Then we sent them to see the doctor. After the Doctor, they went to the Pharmacy. We had them walk around the tent to the other side where we had an open door with a table setup. They gave their Registration card where the doctor has written the diagnosis and meds recommended, and we filled the prescription. The Doctors are fourth year Med Students - but in Kenya, you ARE a doctor after your four year Bachelor degree... So, GREAT practice for them, and great for us and the people in Kambi Teso.

The small tent was where we had prayer for them. And honestly, there were miraculous healings. A deaf lady received hearing, and a man who could not lift his legs more than three inches off the ground without tremendous pain throughout his legs, hips and back, was able to lift his knees up chest high and walk freely. Incredible. One thing that the team members said about those who came through the prayer line was that, in the States, we go up for prayer and really HOPE that God will touch us or heal us. But the Kenyans had a very clear EXPECTATION of what God would do. Perhaps because there is nothing else for many of them BUT God. Anyhow - there's more but this is MORE than long enough.

Love you guys! Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

For more information

For those of you who are interested in learning more about the ministry I am actually over here with, their website is There should be a way I can type something and make it a link, but I don't know how... and I even spent some time looking around trying to figure it out. Anyone?

And the founders and directors of this ministry are David and Rachel Gallagher - she was Rachel White the nursing major at ORU. I think some of you might know her.

That's all I wanted to say for now, but I'll have lots more to say later.

Where to Start

This is Smiley - doesn't look very smiley, does he? He's hungry. He's one of the over 100 children that get fed four times a week through the Feeding Program that OAI does. To be in the Program, your mother commits to attending classes Tuesday-Friday under the tree in the open area at Kambi Teso. Kambi Teso is a slum area on the outskirts of Eldoret. It was a 70% alcoholism rate, and is very, very poor. Kenya has a 60% unemployment rate, so you can only imagine what very, very poor is like.

The classes the mothers attend are on health, cleanliness, micro-finances, etc. things like, "You should probably buy bread before Home Brew" (a moonshine type of liquor only the very poor would resort to)

So these children are sure to get a hot meal four times a week, and for many of them, this is probably the only food they get. OAI would love to put a well in here, but that runs around $30-40K. For now, they walk about a mile to fetch water - of course, with the high alcoholism, there's not a LOT of motivation to go get water for your children.

This week, we have been running a Medical Clinic at Kambi Teso, in conjunction with the Feeding Program. We are also working with AMPATH (Yeah, couldn't figure out what it stands for) But the last two words I think mean treatment for HIV. They do HIV/AIDS testing. USAID is supposed to provide the medication for those with the diesase.

The Feeding Program costs $2000 a month. It feeds over 100 children and usually about 50 moms, four times a day, every week. We have two girls who work full-time in meal preparation, and then another girl who works full-time teaching the classes, and organizing everything here in the Office and out there.

The average Kenyan makes $1 a day. The Kenyans who work in our Office get paid anywhere from $100-$300/month. So they are treating their staff really well ( and their staff is wonderful), but it still costs money to run this program.

OAI also runs an Education Program in Kambi Teso, and then, of course, there is the Village, where the 24 orphans live with the two sets of House Parents.

I realize I've gone on long, but I haven't even told you about the watch dogs, or the bus. Or Diana.

So much to tell.

On a personal note, I am really struggling with my heart. I am so sad... I love these children, but when I am alone, I am still really really sad that I loved a man for so long. Seems like such a waste.

A few more photos of the precious little ones.

Isn't she pretty? Taking care of her baby brother. She's 9.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Safe and Sound

I made it!

It was so easy, actually, I'm a bit embarrassed. Not much difficult about watching movies on a plane. When I finally made it through the line to get my Visa in Nairobi, sure enough, I was greeted by Taxi George who was holding a sign with my name on it!

He took me to the place I was staying, and I spent the night. I was up at 5:15 to be picked up by him, only this time it was his friend, Paul, who took me back to the airport, where I caught another flight to Eldoret. really short flight - about thirty minutes.

I was greeted by my dear friend, Renee, and Rachel - and also... Diana! The nine month old that has stolen the hearts of everyone here and that Renee is trying to adopt.

We went directly to The Village - which is the 52 acre area that Rachel and her husband have purchased through their ministry Open Arms International.

There are 25 children who live there in two homes with House Parents. Currently they do not have electricity there, but are working on it. The children go to school at a private school in town, but they are planning on starting their own school there at The Village.

I was greeted with "jumping hugs" by 4 year old Victor and 5 year old Gad. Precious little boys with beautiful smiles.

I am actually staying in town at the Guest House with Renee, Rachel, and Ruth. What wonderful women.

Some are wondering how this came about. I am here because I lost my job and needed to get away and clear my head, hear from God and get some emotional healing. I will be here until April 21st and then back to DC where I will do two tours and then home to Tulsa on May 9th. I have no idea what happens after that, but I am trusting that the One who does know will let me know when I need to know.

A Medical Missions Team arrives here on Monday with Rachel's husband, David, and I will be helping with that for the week. Also, they feed 100 street children 4 times a week, and I will be helping with that.

They are also going into a Women's Prison - I will be helping with that.

I WILL post pictures, I promise.

Much love to all of you - thanks for reading and checking on me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Heading to Africa

Well, I have successfully landed in Baltimore, where my dear friend, Kimberly Bronte, picked me up from the airport. I head out to Kenya tomorrow evening.

I will arrive in Nairobi on Thursday evening, be picked up by Taxi George(!?!), stay the night somewhere and then fly to Eldoret on Friday. I don't know when my flight is, but I do know I need a crisp $50 bill to get my Visa.

I don't know exactly what I will be doing, but I know it will involve children to some extent. Maybe teaching music, maybe babysitting, maybe office work. It doesn't even matter to me, at all. I am just happy to be going there.

AND... most importantly, I just purchased a new camera - and it has a mini USB cord ( the one to my last camera got lost) so... there will be pictures.

Thanks for reading!