Archive for January, 2008

On my Soapbox – Forgiveness

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

So I was asked to give the ‘sermon’ for morning devotions last Thursday (1 week ago). We have a morning ‘devotion’ monday through friday at 7am. Fairly short, less than 20 minutes. Usually it’s just a couple songs, a short “sermon” or talking point that someone gives, and announcements for the day.

The subject I chose for the devotion was on forgiveness. Props go to Mr. Mike Saia for giving me my initial teaching on this. I didn’t do it justice in 4 minutes, but hey, the basics are easy enough.

But anyways, let me get on my soapbox and get all “into yo’ face.” I gave my devotion on Forgiveness because I think understanding forgiveness is huge. Especially for areas where violent behavior and tribal warfare is occuring. With the way some Kenyan’s treat eachother, no one forgiving anyone, generationally not forgiving others, it’s easy to see how tribal violence could escalate from a stupid election. The key point I gave was that is is equally important to ask for forgiveness as it is to accept forgiveness. If one doesn’t ask for forgiveness, you can’t be forgiven. And you can’t forgive someone without them asking you for forgiveness and repenting.

Some people disagree with that conclusion, that you can’t forgive someone unless they ask. But whether you agree or not, I am not saying that it is okay to be bitter and hold it against someone. But to be like the Lord as quoted in Psalms, “ready to forgive”. God doesn’t hold things against me, He isn’t bitter about what I do, I have consequences for my actions, but by asking for forgiveness, mercy is available.

Psalms 86:5
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.

Forgiveness is huge I can’t express how big it is. I believe unforgiveness is one of the root causes of the violence in Kenya, one of the root causes of tribalism, racism, and many other ‘isms’ and such bigoty that seperates man from man, woman from child. When you don’t forgive, and aren’t willing to forgive, you do no harm to that person who wronged you. That is another key point. Worth repeating.

When you don’t forgive, and aren’t willing to forgive, you do no harm to that person who wronged you. People often don’t understand this. They think, “they hurt me, I’m not going to forgive them”. Makes me laugh. They hurt you, so what do you go and do? Continue to hurt yourself? Idiot. What does it matter to the person who wronged you? If they repent, then they’re in the clear, it helps them significantly if you accept their forgiveness and repentance, but if you don’t, they’ve done their part. They can go about their life. They’ve repented and are now back on track with life and improving it therein. Yet you’re stuck with this unforgiveness which creates all kinds of unpleasantness in you. You hold on to unforgiveness and you’ll be a bitter old rocking chair man, or a bitter old hag. Don’t be.

Maybe not even a hag or old bitter man, maybe instead you transfer your bitterness towards one man to your son, and he applies that to that man’s tribe/race/color/fingernail size/whatever. It’s common enough to hear about something that so and so did to your father’s father’s aunt’s cousin. So you want to kill their entire tribe.

Seriously, following Christ’s example of forgiveness will cure you of your hate. And for those Christians out there who practice such bigotry, shame on you. Re-read the Bible.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
-Matthew 6:14-15

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Kombucha, Correct Spelling

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Oh, in regards to my last post, I got the spelling right now.

Kombucha

Check out the wikipedia article on it if your interested. A natural carbonation process makes this sugar tea. For those of you who like that kind of thing. (I’m looking at you Dan and Christi!)

Wikipedia article

Oh, and as for those of you that asked about what Mustafa did with the urine, he just put a little in his cup and told the other 2 african boys in the house that I pee’d in his cup. I had to clear that up the next day. And it was his bathroom cup, no one else ever drinks from it. I hope he cleaned it well, I sure didn’t clean it for him. Hopefully he learned something.

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Posted in Uncategorized |

Compuka Urine

Friday, January 18th, 2008

I gotta get this down before I forget any details. Tonight I had another little fiasco with the youngest African boy.

While I was talking about some things on Wolfgangs IBook Apple Laptop thingy with Stephanie (one of the German gals), the youngest boy in that house, Mustafa, came by and was drinking some compukat (spelling? I dunno. It’s a fruit juice that is carbonated by a mushroom. crazy germans!). In the midst of all this, he put his cup down ontop of the laptop, on the keyboard. Now, any one who’s ever been around a computer knows this is a no no. So my immediate, natural reaction was to quickly remove the cup with a “aaaaaaye! Don’t put that on the computer! Not near a computer”. Mustafa, not one to take any sort of reprimand in any kind of pleasant way puts the cup down next to the computer. Not on it this time, but next to it. Seeing where this is going (spilled carbonated, sugary liquid on or near the computer) and not needing that, I grab the cup and down it in a quick gulp.

This did not make Mustafa happy.

I should clarify before hand, normally Mustafa and I are great friends (he’s age 10ish). But any sort of reprimand really goats these African’s. So, having gone through Mustafa’s “you did something to me so you should fix it even though your actions where clearly in response to something I did that I shouldn’t have done” he proceeded to complain heavily and wanted me to get him more compukat. He gives me the cup, I put it down on the table (not where the laptop is, but the dining room table). He gets it, complains somemore and gives it to me again. We go through this who knows how many times. Unfortunatly, his patience at ‘being wronged’ surpasses my ‘I can only handle so much’. Last time we had our little complaint-fest I had to leave before I exploded. and actually I just went and did some pull ups. Highest number of pull ups I’ve ever done. Pretty proud of that, though it took an hour of built up adrenaline and angst to do it. anyways, sidetrack. This time around both Stephanie and myself are rolling eyes and explaining over and over again why I drank his compukat, and that if he want’s more, there is some right there on the dining room table. But to no avail, as Mustafa doesn’t listen and continues to complain and wants me to get him compuka since I drank it. Being the big-egoed, hard hearted, disciplinarian I am, that’s not gonna happen. At one point, Stephanie says “fine!” and is about to get up and get Mustafa some compukat. I say, somewhat forcibly, “Nine!” (German ‘no’) and she doesn’t get up. I apologize later for that to her, as my agitation was directed at Mustafa not her (whoops!). But I was heavily angered at this point. Incessant complaining over nothing gets to me. In fact, I’m getting all antsy about it now. Seriously, never come me whining about nothing.

Anywhoo, I end up closing the laptop and picking Mustafa up (thankfully he’s light) and going over to the couch where we continue ‘dialogue’ for a while longer. Luckily I have decently fast reflexes when my angst is up and adrenaline is pumping so most times he goes to pinch, punch or slap me I can grab his arm and prevent it. Not that it hurts (he doesn’t do it that hard, more of a authority thing) but that I won’t allow him to do that to me for obvious reasons. Anyways, eventually I say if he wants his compuka back, he can get it back in a couple hours after my body is done with it. Not to be outdone Mustafa calls my bluff and wants it back in the same cup. Me and my big mouth.

Being a man of my word to someone like Mustafa is more important attempting to not do dumb things. Thus, a couple hours later I go to the restroom and relieve myself. I call him into the bathroom, ask him which bathroom cup is his and tell him to enjoy his processed compuka, and to please flush the toilet when he’s done. Then I make my exit, hoping that he will flush the toilet and be done. Not quite what happened, but the rest isn’t to eventful.

I’m not a parent, but I do my best with the weird issues these kids have. Maybe not the best solution, but it seems works out in the end. All the boys still like me. Either way, next time I hope I remember that they call bluffs. I gotta watch what I say as it better be something I can do if pressed. I don’t need to show off my urine again.

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Posted in Children, Kenya, Miwani |

The Year of Living Biblically

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Last Sunday I finished a rather amazing book. It’s called ‘The Year of Living Biblically‘. WAIT! before you go all “oh my, he’s going religious on us in this blog”. Hold on to your socks. The book is by a agnostic Jew (who’s “Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant) who’s daytime job is to write for the magazine Esquire, who decides to follow every rule in the Bible for one whole year.

And let me tell you, the books great. They author, A.J. Jacobs at times seems kinda neurotic (A.J., if you read this, I apologize, but you do kinda give that off occasionally, it’s the OCD mixed with the beard i think) but the insight he got through his year was pretty amazing. His previous book was “The Know-It-All” which was titled that way because it was a book about him reading the entire encyclopedia. Not the dictionary. That’s small beans. But the encyclopedia. You know, those 5 foot thick book sets you can buy for a million bucks? (note to self: Get the Know-It-All for Uncle Rog as he loves encyclopedias. tacky? maybe, but I digress) He read the encyclopedia from A-Z or rather, and I quote “a-ak (East Asian music) to Zywiec (a town in southern Poland known for its beer)” end quote. On a side note, neither of those two words were in my spell check. Shame on you spell check updating nerds! Shame! wait, who actually does update spell checks? no offense to you, but that’s gotta be a sucky job.

So in summary, this guy spent 1 whole year, attempting to follow every single command in the bible. From not wearing cloths with mixed fibers Leviticus 19:19, to ‘Be fruitful and multiply” Genesis 1:28 (his wife got pregnant with twin baby boys over the course of the year), to stoning adulterers Leviticus 20:27. Well, he got to pebble someone, which was his loophole as he noted that the Bible didn’t specify on the size of stones (later he comments that historically, stoning was to let them jump off a cliff, like in the movie the Three Musketeers, how that relates to the stoning of Stephen and Paul, I dunno. He didn’t say) He didn’t actually stone, he pebbled. but this part is awesome, so I’m just gonna type an excerpt

“A few days ago, I gathered a handful of small white pebbles from Central Park, which I stuffed in my back pants pocket. Now all I needed were some victims. I decided to start with Sabbath breakers. That’s easy enough to find in this workaholic city. I noticed that potbellied guy at the Avis down our block had worked on both Saturday and Sunday. So no matter what, he’s a Sabbath breaker.

Here’s the thing, though: Even with pebbles, it is surprisingly hard to stone people.

My plan had been to walk non-chalantly bast the Sabbath violator and chuck pebbles at the small of his back. But after a couple failed passes, I realized it was a bad idea. A chucked pebble, no matter how small, does not go unnoticed.

My revised plan: I would pretend to be clumsy and drop the pebble on his shoe.
So I did.
And in this way I stoned. But it was probably the most polite stoning in history–I said, “I’m sorry,” and then leaned down to pick up the pebble. And he leaned down at the same time, and we almost butted heads, and then he apologized, then I apologized again.

Highly unsatisfying.”

Later in that same page he gets to the park and talks to an elderly man who says he, the author, was ‘dressed queer.’ The author explains his year quest and the old gent mentions that he is an adulterer fairly often:

“Tonight, tomorrow, yesterday, two weeks from now. You gonna stone me?”

“If I could, yes, that’d be great.”

“I’ll punch you in the face. I’ll send you to the cemetery.”

He is serious. This isn’t a cutesy grumpy old man. This is an angry old man. This is a man with seven decades of hostility behind him.
I fish out my pebbles from my back pocket.

“I wouldn’t stone you with big stones,” I say. “Just these little guys.”

I open my palm to show him the pebbles. He lunges at me, grabbing one out of my hand, then flinging it at my face. It whizzes by my cheek.
I am stunned for a second. I hadn’t expected this grizzled old man to make the first move. But now there is nothing stoping me from retaliating. An eye for an eye.
I take one of the remaining pebbles and whip it at his chest. It bounces off.

“I’ll punch you right in the kisser,” he says.

“Well, you really shouldn’t commit adultery,” I say.

We stare at eachother. My pulse has doubled.

Anyways, the entire books is awesome like this. The main thing that worried me before I read it was that it would be funny in a disrespecting way. I can take pot shots directed at me that are disrespectful, but don’t mess with the Bible. Easy way to get under my skin. Most people make fun of the Bible from a stance of ignorance, and is completely obnoxious. It’s like taking some random quote from me and calling me racist. You don’t know me, and anyone who does knows I’m not racist. Your an ignorant fool, go away and leave me be. The author at least had the opinion that even if it was all a farce, it is a book or verbal tale, that has had the most influence over all the people in the entire world over the entire span of human history, and that title alone demands respect. And the author is not disrespectful to the Bible at all. He might make fun of groups of people occasionally, but not the Bible itself. The Bible is treated with the respect it deserves. And when he does make fun of things the Bible says (easy enough to do), it does it from a knowledgeable viewpoint, in context. Not the ignorance that is so common today from both sides (Christians and non), and that I am very grateful for. I think the “praise” for the book by Mary Roach, bestselling author, says it best.

“A.J. Jacobs has written about the Bible in a manner that is brilliantly funny but unerringly respectful, learned but goofy, deeply personal yet highly relevant. I am covetous and wish him smited.”

So true. Thank you A.J. for writing a very funny and insightful read. And thank you Numar for getting it for me. I could hardly put it down once I started it.

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Posted in Books |

Goose Assassination

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

So the other day I got to see a pretty sweet Goose Assassination. Can’t really say too much here, else I might be next….. but check out the pictures eh? and just in case, dont’ be eating while you look. It’s for your own safety, and that of your keyboard incase you have a weak stomach. πŸ™‚

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Election Fun Times!

Friday, January 4th, 2008

Voting Day!
On December 27th, 2 days after Christmas, 1 day after Boxing Day (I didn’t get to box anyone unfortunately) Kenyans turned out in record numbers to vote. All the weeks prior to this people have been going nuts about the elections. Signs are everywhere. Hats and clothing depicting their candidates are commonly seen. People in trucks often drive by yelling and screaming. It quickly become ‘part of the ordinary’. The primary candidates are/were

Mwai Kibaki (Incumbent)

Party of National Unity (PNU)
and

Raila Odinga (Primary opposition)
Orange Democratic Movement (ODM)

Note that both of these parties are new and their histories are complicated. If anyone is interested in knowing more specifics on the history behind these candidates and their parties, post a comment and I’ll write a blog about it. Otherwise I’m not gonna spend time on something that no one but me cares about. What can I say, I love politics. Well, actually I despise politics. I love political theory I guess, not politics.

Short History
Anywhoo, so the main driving force behind each Party was as follows. The Party of National Unity, PNU, was for the status quo. The Orange Democratic Movement, ODM (note that ODM is a different party then ODM-Kenya, incase you see ODM-K in an article, it is NOT ODM), represents a desire for Change. Thus, essentially those that liked the way the current administration did things, voted for Kibaki. Those who wanted ‘Change’ voted Raila. There is a long history for both Kibaki and Raila, but the basics are that Kibaki helped draft the original constitution of Kenya was drafted after Independence and Raila has been in prison multiple times for being a ‘revolutionary’. His first prison stay was for being suspected of collaborating with the plotters of a failed coup attempt against President Moi. At the time, Kibaki was Vice President.

Lots of history as you can see, but again, essentially a vote for Raila was a ‘vote for change’ (Offical slogan of ODM) and a vote for Kibaki was a ‘vote for staus quo’ (NOT the offical slogan. Offical slogan was Tano Tena, which literally means Five Again, but in context is Five More Years of Kibaki as a presidential term is 5 years). Kenyan politics has been rife with corruption from the start (but then again, aren’t all democracies?) with the presidents usually pandering to their Tribal base (Western democracies pander to their Party base, but pretty close). Kibaki is of the tribe Kikuyu (largest tribe in Kenya) which are commonly business people but are known as theives and cheats. If this has any basis, I dunno, but I guess a majority of the tax monies go to areas where Kikuyu’s are the majority. Raila’s tribe is Luo (third largest), which is one of the largest tribes in Kenya, and they are known for their zeal, passion, and sometimes violence. Interestingly enough, Barack Obama is of Luo descent as was born in the same provice as Raila. Kenyan’s are rather excited about Obama’s run for the White House. I try not to dissuade them too much even though Obama ain’t my type. Give me a Statesman anyday, those politicians can stick with their slimy crowd.

Voting Day
December 27th, 2007, Thursday
As all the Kenyan’s went to the polls with “Change” or “I like it the way it is” on their mind, I decided to join in the fun. Going to the polling station to stand in line for awhile with some people I knew, I was asked by a guard (guard in Camo, holding a hunting rifle) if I was an observer.

ME: “uhhh, yah I’m just observing, not voting
Guard: “Come with me“.

He brings me to the front and lets me into the voting room. I stand their for a bit looking suave I’m sure, just acting like an EU Observer would act I’m sure. Standing by the door with beady eyes looking over everything. One gent came up to me, introduced himself as the PO and asked who I was,

“I’m John Jolly, good to meet you”
Apparently that wasn’t quite what he was looking for
(he shoulda been more specific) as he tried again.
“Where are you from?”
“America, the United States
“Do you have a letter?”
“uuuh, no, no letter, sorry”
…. *pause* as he stares at me ….
“It’s okay, you can stay”
“Thank you, I’ll be done shortly

So I then proceed to observe for a full cycle as one guy is let in, gets his papers, ID record all that jazz, votes then leaves. Overall I was there maybe 10 minutes. Then I left and stood back in line for awhile, then left off to the town to go find a cyber cafe if one was open. Passing the guard by the exit (same guard who let me in to the voters booths) he asked if I was done with ‘this’ polling station. I said I was and proceeded on my merry way.

December 28th, Friday
The next day was a slow day as we watched the TV most of the time for election updates. On a side note, I took a shower that afternoon, (african shower, which means you have one bucket of water that you use your hands to splash yourself with. See an earlier blog for a more graphic explanation) but after I had soaped myself up I accidently knocked the water over. Not a position I wanted to be in. Knocking the water over involved hurredly trying to get as much water off of the ground and into the bucket as I could. Not always the cleanest water. Using this I rinsed off as best as I could then had to suck down the ol’ pride, put on a towel over my soapy body and go get more water. Luckily for me everyone was entranced by the TV and no one seemed to notice my painfully white body sneaking more water from the big ol’ water tubs.

December 29th, Saturday
2 days after initial voting is when the violence started. People started getting irrated with some fairly obvious delaying and rigging of votes. Two were shot this day in Kakamega (town I was in at the time). These were police killings. Only Police and bandits have guns as owning a gun is basically illegal in Kenya. Overall the violence wasn’t too horrible anywhere but was very tense.

December 30th, Sunday
We had a small church service today. Most people stayed home for safety and the police wanted us to end early to ensure that everyone went home and didn’t stick around. The Police aren’t too fond of crowds. Peaceful or not, they don’t care. Later that day, Kibaki was declared president. This is when hell started to break loose. It wasn’t just because he was declared president, but because Raila when from a 300,000 vote lead to 300,000 votes behind with some very shady circumstances. Here’s an example of shady.

Shady Breakdown
At each polling stations, Political Parties where allowed to have an ‘agent’ there to make sure nothing shady happens. At end of the day after they observe the counting, they all sign a form (Form 16 and 16A) stating the number of votes for all candidates from that polling station. The Kikuyu tribe are primarily in 2 provices, Central and Eastern; and thus those provinces are primarily for Kibaki. A number of stations in Central and Eastern were 2 days late in turning in their vote records and often without form 16 and 16A. The where significant differences between the numbers reported on the ground and the numberes reported by the ECK, Election Commision of Kenya. In one example, Molo station gave Kibaki 60 thousand votes on the ground, but the number delivered, the “official” number was 95 thousand. A 35 thousand vote increase. Note that there were also 35 thousand people who only voted for the President and not for any of the other positions like Parlimentry seats or local officials. Shady. Anyways, a bunch of other things that were blatantly obvious.

So on the evening of December 30th Kibaki was declared president and half of Kenya exploded. Kibaki was declared president in a press conference with only the KBC media allowed (KBC is government owned). Only KBC was there because everyone else was escorted out by the GSU, (think Marines, special forces) after the Election Commission exploded into yelling due to modified voting numbers where actual proof was availabe that something had changed. At this point the road outside had a number of people on it, putting rocks on the road to act as blockaids, a big ol’ rusty trailor was dragged onto the road, some tires burned, all kinds of good stuff. But overall most people were just standing.

New Years Eve
December 31st
I saw my first soldiers/police today. I don’t know what they were but all the police I’d ever seen in Kenya wore blue. These guys were in camouflage gear with what looked like typical military hats and heavy hunting rifles. Officially the ‘army has not been deployed’ but I’d wager that was a lie. Where else did the get the troops to cover the entire country in police? The army guys searched a neighbors house but luckily did nothing. Another neighbor got his roof shot off with a ‘warning shot’. Most gunshots I heard were far enough away to just sound like fireworks that were somewhat close. I was actually surprised by how little of a natural reaction I had to the sound. No automatic ducking, and sometimes I didn’t notice the shots. But one shot was close, I didn’t see any soldiers or anything but a close rifle shot got me to duck quickly and get behind something. Which was nice to know that I do have some kind of defensive instinct. I’m guessing that shot I heard was the neighbors roof getting shot off. Neighbor as in less then a 10 second walk. Things quieted down by the evening, and for the last 5 minutes of 2007 I simply stood outside and listened. Quietest New Years I have ever experienced. In the far far distance I heard a lone drum beating. Other than that, nothing. Not even the crickets celebrated. I guess normally people are all over the streets yelling and beating drums, and generally a happy, noisy time. Not this year.

New Years
Jan 1st
Things are returning to some semblence of normalcy. Police are just guarding in the town no, no longer enforcing a “dont’ enter the town” policy. Very Very few shops are open, but people are now venturing out to see how save it is.

Jan. 2nd.
Some shops are starting to re-open. The local supermarkets are clogged with people. No bread on the shelves, no fruit, rice and flour will disappear soon. Ate cow intestine and stomach for dinner. See prior post for a more pleasant description.

Jan. 3rd
Decided that today was the best day to attempt a trek back to the Miwani Farm. Best day today because tomorrow a rally held by ODM was supposed to happen in the Capital City. Rumors are that Raila was going to be declared president. I figured the police/government wouldn’t let that happen and wanted to get out during the ‘quiet before the storm’. I took a Matatu (see prior post for description) from Kakamega to Kisumu. Overall not to eventful here. Though about a mile before Kisumu the Van pulled over and collecte a bunch of green plants that it shoved under the windshield wipers. This was to signify that they were Pro-ODM. Without those greens the Matatu would probably be mobbed, destroyed and the driver harmed or killed. The Matatu wisely didn’t enter Kisumu but stopped at the outskirts, which is luckily where I wanted to be anyways. That junction is where the Miwani road intersects. I immediatly started walking down the road and after about 1/2 a mile caught a bicycle rider and he took me the next 5-10 miles, to the farm. He wanted 400 shillings, which was twice what the Matatu was, but I ended up giving him 300 and a bottle of water. Still way to expensive, but whatever, I’m white so they always charge more.

Thoughts
Primary issues are continued violence throughout Kenya, between tribes and within tribes. People are starting to get exceedinly hungry as food is become very scarce in sections. Some of the villages nearby had a midday meal consisting of sugarcane taken from the sugarcane fields and water.

Not sure what to do about this yet. American Embassy has heard about me and wants me to register with them. Which I will do, but hope and don’t think it will come to where they attempt extractions. I don’t think this will turn into a Rwanda or Darfur, it could, but I doubt it. It would have continued to escalate but instead has seemed to maintain a painful simmer. A deadly simmer for some. If the government doesn’t screw this up anymore that it already has things could begin healing and fixing within a week or two. Stupid government. Necessary evil my ass. Evil is never necessary.

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In Kakamega for Christmas

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

12/21/07
Travel to Kakamega
On the morning of the 21st I caught a ride with the “milk run” which works it’s way to town selling the prior days milk. From Kisumu I got the experience of catching a ‘Matatu’ to Kakamega. A Matatu is essentially a van that they cram as many people and as much luggage into as possible. If everyone is seating in his own seat then consider yourself luckly. I’d say ‘full’ was 16-18 people. A space for 3 people normally had 4, one guy on the floor, maybe 2 hanging off the door. (hanging off the door is normally just if you going a short distance and don’t want to walk.) The matatu stops a number of times every mile to pick up and drop off various people. Once in Kakamega (at least I hoped, I wasn’t really sure where I was) I got a “BodaBoda” which is a bicycle taxi, to take me to my friends pharmacy. Bicycle taxi is just a fixed gear bicycle with a seat small cushion above the rear tire. These bicycles are all over Kenya. One of the main methods of transporation. Human, furniture, animals, whatever. It all gets strapped to the back of the bike on a 6in x 12in ‘platform’. It was common enough to see someone riding a bike with what must have been 40 pounds of corn seed strapped to the back. Or someone caring balancing a couch on the bike (not riding, but using the bike to carry it while he balanced and pushed). During the election madness there was a news clip on the TV showing a guy trying to hurriedly strap what must have been at least a 21″ tv to his bike that he stole from a store. It didn’t work so well.

Anyways, I eventually got to the pharmacy alright with only a little difficulty since neither I nor my driver knew where the Pharmacy was. See the link in the title above for the map relating Kisumu to Kakamega.

12/22/07
Youth Bash
The church had a Youth Bash 2007 today. Being a guest, and being white, I got to sit off to the side in the nicer, plastic chairs and was initially by myself. Somewhat odd and embarrising for me. After they started doing their talks or whatever the ‘leader guy’ sent one of the girls over to sit next to me to translate. So rather than sitting off to the side by myself only understanding a couple words a minute, I got to have the accompaniment of a pleasant female whispering English in my ear, with only a couple giggles from her friends. Maybe I’m just to easily embarrassed. I did get to be in one of the plays though, so that was a bonus. Simple part with only a couple Swahili words to memorize. But the audience seemed to enjoy it.

Gabriel seems like a nice guy
I ended the evening talking with some crazy guy outside the pharmacy for a fair while. Initially he was talking to me in the pharmacy but I led him outside so as not to detract from business, that and I didn’t want George (owner of pharmacy) to get annoyed with whatever this guy was talking about.

12/24/07
Met one of the pharmacy’s suppliers and he took me, George and his daughter to Mumias (east about 10 miles) for roast lamb. Oh man, that was some fine tasting meat. Fire roasted meat is always so good. Roast lamb and Ugali for lunch. fabulous.

That evening we had Plantens (pronounced Plantains) which is boiled bananas. Go here for picture and description.

12/25/07
Christmas Service
For Christmas we had a nice Christmas service of typical length (3.5 hours in length. A church with services like that wouldn’t survive long with the American attention span! πŸ™‚ ) Followed by a pleasant meal prepared by the ladies of the church.

Chicken Fight
Back at Simon’s house I found that a chicken was in my room and had apparently been in there awhile as he left little Christmas presents all over the floor. And not the good kinda presents that chickens give, but he did leave an egg on my pillow. I guess the wind blew the door shut after the chicken had entered my room. I don’t like that chicken. Chicken’s in the house are common enough but usually only in the kitchen and dining room. They don’t usually venture far back enough to the bedrooms but this guy did. Later that night I went to go grab my telephone charger and found that the chicken also attacked my backpack with his butt. Luckily for me I decided not to turn the light on and found out with my fingers instead of my eyesight. Yuck. Nothing a little water and soap can’t fix!! darn you no running water! πŸ™‚ Nah, it was fine. It’s just more fun to complain.

As always, look for links on the titles above for pictures.

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Pre-Holiday/Election Catchup

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Primarily due to the fact that I’m horribly anal when it comes to doing things in ‘sequence’ here’s a couple events that preceded me leaving the Miwani Farm and going to Kakamega.

12/17/07
Armed Robbers nearby
My first case of violence in Kenya, little did I know it was just a touch of what was going to happen later. But anyways, some armed bandits robbed a Motorcycle driver going by the road that runs along the Miwani Farm. Then proceeded to escape through our compound after villagers from around the area started running everywhere (all the talking was in Swahili so I had a hard time following what was going on). Initially I had heard some shots but didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t loud where I was figured it was something else. But then I heard all the kids running and yelling as they were going to the gated entrance to the compound. Being one to follow the crowd, I joined in to see what was going on. After a few minutes they jumped the fence and ran through the middle of the compound at out the other side. No one was hurt or anything. Guess they had a bag of money.

Egg Lovin’
This was also the same day that the main leaders of the compound had gone for the weekend. The CEO’s parents came in a couple days prior to stay for Christmas and they went off for the weekend to show them some bit of Kenya. Thus, with it being just me and the three boys, I wanted eggs for lunch. So made eggs with stuff in them for the four of us. As I normally make plenty of mistakes, I didn’t want to exclude this cooking event so I broke 8 eggs in the process, all over the floor. My excuse lies in that my hands had some oil on them and the egg holder wasn’t very good and the refrigerator hit my hand and and and and. Whatever. I hate cleaning up broken eggs. Pain in the arse to get up off the floor.

Ugali is a one way dish
As this day was proving so eventful, for dinner we had Ugali (african dish) and that night I got the pleasure of regurgitating it for the sewer animals. It wasn’t the Ugali that got me as the boys were fine, but maybe the water or something on my hand? I dunno. Nice case of Food poisoning that took me out the next day as well. Oh, and Ugali is a dry maize dough/bread that is eaten with something liquidy. You can’t really eat it plain, like trying to eat saltine crackers with a dry mouth. So imagine eating a fair amount of dry dough and having it come back out. Uber thick. Uber Green. Not cool. Not kosher. Don’t want that experience again. I like barfing up malted shakes like I did when I got my wisdom teeth out.

12/19/07
Monkey Love
I saw a pack of monkeys today! I was assisting with moving a toilet house from the workshop where it was built to Tobias’ house on the far side of the compound. We all cut our hands pretty good on the sheet metal. Nothing like putting blood into your work. But I was driving the transport truck from the workshop to his house on and the way about 8 monkeys had jumped over the fence and were chillin’ on the path. Unfortunately they were too fast so I didn’t get to run them over with my Toilet Truck. or is that fortunate? I forget. πŸ™‚

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Hakuna Matata

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Copy of an email I sent out. and regarding the title, Hakuna Matata is actually Swahili for No Worries. Darn these Africans, making me giggle so. Now I got bits of the lion king song stuck in my head.

———-
Hello all!

First off, yes, I’m still alive and everyone I know is still alive.
I’m alive an kickin’! No injuries or anything either so no one has
touched me in a harmful manner… at least I don’t think so. If they
did, they really suck at doing harm cause I didn’t notice. Though the
same can’t be said for other Kenyan’s around me but luckily most
people I’ve met and know are fine. One Kenyan guy I met got the beat
down by the police, broken arm and ribs I believe, but he’s young and
he’ll be fine.

Secondly, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, Kenya has erupted
in violence after some election fraud where the sitting president
rigged the election when the opposition would have won. short
timeline available here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clashes_in_Kenya_%282007%E2%80%93present%29
and here’s an article i found from a guy in Kakamega which is the city
I was in for Christmas. I stayed there until today, the 2nd, biding
my time for the best time to travel. Which was today, no
transportation was available prior to today and after tomorrow’s big
event, who knows what will happen.
http://www.bdafrica.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5102&Itemid=5848

I’ll write more later on my blog talking about a fair number of things
that have occurred in the past weeks. Sorry it took me so long to
write but I was without internet access in Kakamega (or running water!
african showers and african toilets baby!) so now that I am back on
the farm here I am. Also, cellphone credits are severely limited as
most users (including myself) are pre-paid and now there are no
pre-paid cards to buy, just as other basic commodities are getting
difficult to purchase (like food in the city). I’m out of credit so
my cellphone is essentially a receive only device.

I won’t be coming home because of this as I think I now know why I
felt so strongly about coming down here before christmas, before
thanksgiving. If I had waited, I wouldn’t have come (for obvious
reasons). I don’t know what God has planned for me down here, but if
I felt so strongly about coming down this year before the holidays, I
think I can safely assume it was for a reason related to the recent
violence.

Again, I’ll write more later (tomorrow probably), with more indepth of
experiences and elections. Good night.

oh, and to end on a better note I just killed 2 spiders. sweet.

and even better, i got to eat cow intestine and cow stomach (or
something, i dunno, it had a lot of dangly things on it). mmm mmm
good! …. and chewy. veeeery chewy.

John

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