June 6th, 2011

June 6th
We also got to meet 3 Indian sisters who are neighbors to the Miwani farm.  They live a few miles down the road toward Kisumu – in farm country all your neighbors are miles away, funny how that works.  These were great gals, each had a unique testimony about coming to Christ in a very strongly Hindu environment.  At least, I’m pretty sure it was Hindu, I didn’t write it down nor the specific Hindu sect as there are plenty.  Anyways, great testimonies that involved physical healings and spiritual manifestations.  We also got to visit their house the following day, but more on that later.

One of the gals, Aran, does some computer-based work, I don’t remember if it was photoshop or some form of programing.  But either way, I made sure to give her links for ODesk and ELance as potential places to find some work.  Hopefully she was, or is, able to find something that way. 

Also funny, was the fact that I heard there was another gal staying on the farm for a bit of time.  So a little bit after we arrived I turned a corner and there was a long time family friend Anneliese.  Not who I was expecting so I was quite surprised.  Last time I also saw her randomly at a roommates surprise birthday party – one of those “How do you know my roommate?!” crazy but fun occasions.  So today was no exception as I had no idea that she was in Kenya, let alone the farm.  Anneliese had been there for a few months at this point and was hoping to stay on for another few months to work with a local medical camp that was taking place, but there was some visa trouble.  In retrospect as I’m writing this 2.5 months late, with God’s grace and to the extend of my knowledge the visa stuff worked itself out and she was able to stay on. 

Posted in Miwani |
June 6th, 2011

June 6th
Waking up at 4:30am to catch a flight is always quite enjoyable!  Some of the breakfast foods weren’t so good at that time in the morning however.  They hadn’t been replaced from the night before so ants or some sort of bugs got into a few of the foods (samosas mainly I think).  Luckily the hard boiled eggs were still good, and the fruit was covered.  Still makes a good brekky!

Anyways, we flew out of Nairobi to Kisumu, which is a short 1.5ish hour flight across the country; to contrast to Washington state it’s like flying from Seattle to Spokane.  And check out the Prop Plane!  Awesome!  Heather even got a picture of the Plane stalling!  Oh wait, no it was just a high iso and it looks that way.  Silly Jolly.

While in Kisumu we dropped by the large grocery and other items store (Kenya’s Safeway) called Nakumatt to pick up a few food items for dinner.  I wish I got a picture of it but they were selling a Ham In A Box.  Hilarious, think Chicken in a Can but Ham; and Box.  Definitely a “Whoa!” item.  As in most places in the Kisumu area, lots of wonderful green growth everywhere.  This is in the center of the large shopping mall of which Nakumatt is part of, hence the Elephant I figure which is Nakumatt’s symbol.

We met up with a gal named Dinah while there, I guess she was quite close to achieving a Senate seat last election cycle but got terribly ill during the last bit of the campaign and either dropped out or stopped campaigning.  She’s definitely a strong woman though.  She gives me the impression of making an awesome friend, and a terrible enemy.  Luckily she likes almost everybody.

We drove the 20min to 1/2hr trip to the Farm.  It was a pleasant drive and one of the few things I strongly recognized in this trip so far.  Good to be back in an area that I remember well.  and I certainly remember these roads and the bony cow herds!

One new thing though was this nearby village got some new housing.  Now, keep in mind that the metal roofing is generally regarded as a better roof, for the wealthier of people, but I can’t see why they would want this over a thatch roof.  Granted, less maintenence, but my goodness, can you imagine the heat from a 80-95degree sunny day (practically every afternoon throughout the year) and the noise from the crazy hard rainstorms (3x a week average in “winter”, 2x a month in summer).  And I mean crazy hard rainstorms, not the piddle paddle of Seattle.  A good rainstorm here can dump the entire years worth of Seattle rain in a night.  I don’t think I could sleep on a night like that with a metal roof.  Granted, I’m not one to judge and I’m sure they have their reasons, but I think I explained my case well enough above.  😉

And lastly for this post: a picture of a lovely mango on a tree:

Posted in Kisumu, Miwani, Travel |
June 5th, 2011

June 5th
After the well dedication the church took the team out to dinner as a thank you.  They took us to a 5 Star hotel’s restaurant.  Now, just because the hotel is rated 5 stars doesn’t necessarily mean that the restaurant is 5 stars.  The food wasn’t horridly expensive, service was still on the slow side, but it was all quite delicious.  I personally ordered a potato cauliflower curry.  Mmmmm. We sat there for at least an hour before food started to arrive intermittently, and arrived for then next ~15 minutes; so some people were done by the time others food arrived. 

Now, I’m not necessarily complaining, it’s just the way it is down there.  There are few restaurants in Kenya that I’ve been to that cater to western style timing; and the ones that do are probably in a major metropolitan area (guessing) and are foreign establishments (one of the best restaurants we had been too a few times was Indian).

Oh, but no matter how long the food takes, it is generally quite delicious!

Posted in Food |
June 5th, 2011

The full set of pictures for Kimbo can be seen starting here at picture 24 and going till 34

Kimbo is a poor area of Nairobi.  Not poor enough to be listed as an official slum, but not all that better off either.  Though the western eye probably is not trained well enough to be able to discern the differences in wealth available in Kimbo when compared to the earlier official slums of Kibera.  The church we visited is a very large church on the edge of Kimbo, and our purpose there was to see and dedicate the new well project.  The well itself was funded by western and the local Kenyans; which is great considering that those who live in the Kimbo area don’t have a lot of extra cash laying around, but of the ~$15k – $20k that was needed the Kimbo church was able to raise ~$4k-$6k of it.  I put down large estimates because I don’t have the official figures in front of me, nor are they on the WorldCOMP website anymore. 🙁  Either way, the locals raised some good cash which will create a much needed feel of ownership and investment in the well itself.
When it came time to drill the borehole, I’m told we had the money necessary to go down something like 900ft but we only had gone down down ~500ft when we hit an large supply of water, an huge aquifer I’m told!  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

 When we first arrived there, we did the ol’ Meet and Greet with everyone.  Above is a picture of the team ladies and the Pastors wife, and while I didn’t spend anytime with her she is a good friend of Valerie and Richard and a powerful, Godly woman of prayer who was a great support for this whole ordeal.

 After meeting and greeting we had to get into church as they had already started!  But once we got in and sat down and the announcements were done, the worship really started moving and a groovin’.  The kid’s had a circuit up in the front that they were jog-dancing around which was very fun to watch. Twirling their dresses and going back and forth in the front.

 After the worship Richard got to partake in the largest baby dedication I’ve ever seen!  You can see all the Mamas and the babies behind him, and that is not the family as is often done in the west, that is Moms and Babes; so at least 20 babies were dedicated.  May the Lord hold them all tightly to himself.

After the service we went outside for the well dedication, by the time we stopped chitchatting, greeting people and actully got to the well location (on the church grounds) it was rather crowded.  Eventually we pushed our way through to the front; which while acceptable always feels a little odd to me.  The pushin’ and shovin’ to get to the front is not something I do very often.

Prior to flying to Amsterdam to meet us at the airport, Valerie was in Israel.  From Amsterdam where our layover was 3 hours we would then fly to Nairobi, Kenya together.  While in Israel Valerie acquired some olive oil which she brought with her for the purpose of praying for people and giving parts of it away.  It isn’t too often that one get’s prayed for with olive oil directly from Israel.  The picture above shows her dedicating the well with a small stream of the Israeli olive oil.

Pictured above is the well pre-dedication.  This kind of well is a borehole well.  One that can’t be operated manually like many hand-pump wells or ‘bucket attached to a rope’ well.  These wells are made by drilling deep into the ground and installing pumps underground.  It is easier to ‘push’ water up hill than to ‘suck’ it up hill.  Imagine trying to suck a water through a 500ft long straw, not going to happen as the straw will collapse from the vacuum.  So, the motor pumps the water up the pipes into the water tower pictured above.  That water tower then feeds the compound through gravity (hence it’s height).  On the way back into the compound it runs through the blue building just to the right of it where it receives some chlorine to clean it.  Though I’m not convinced that that is worth the effort, increased cost and maintenance but it’s there and people are drinking.

Here is the classic Kimbo PEFA Well Project picutre.  Two of Four spouts are displayed, running full tilt with clean water, with a locals hand feeling the liquid life giving gift from God.  Attached to these spouts is another large tank that fills from the gravity well mentioned earlier.

Posted in Nairobi |
June 4th, 2011

Game Park Day!  Boo Yah!  You can see all 44 good pictures here.  Below are a few with comments and/or stories.

A side note on breakfast: they had gizzards available.  However, I don’t know if that is what gizzards normally taste like or not but they were incredibly tough.  Like eating cartilage or rubber.  No way could I chew or digest those things.  I left them alone on my plate after unsuccessfully attempting to eat one.

I thought the above picture was adorable.  Heather was pretending to be another baby Rhino next to the Mama rhino.  See the pose of the baby rhino behind me and compare to Heather.

Virtually right away upon entering the park we had giraffes come great us.  It was spectacular.  They came within 30 feet of the Church Van (which had all Kenyan friends) and probably about within 40 feet of our Van – mostly mzungu’s (whites) and Haron.

The van we used was a classic “safari van” with a pop top.  So about 4 people could easily stand inside the van with their heads poking out the top.  After a few minutes of roaming around the park I decided to keep my head up consistently to keep watch!  and boy am I glad I did, we turned left and one point but I looked over to the right and saw a ton of zebras only a few minutes drive away.  So we turned around and drove towards them and just as we were approaching the zebra leader – would you call that zeader? 😉 – crossed the road about 150 ft in front of us.  So we carefully coasted up to about 30ft from where he crossed and all the other obedient zebras crossed right where he crossed, which was right in front of us!  It was fantastic!

Ostriches sure are odd birds.  These were one of the few animals that I could easily spot from 2 miles away, most other animals were at least some what difficult to see.  Zebra’s, despite their black as well, blend in much better into the background.  Ostriches, no blending what so ever!  Good thing they are fast enough to run away from most predators.  Wikipedia says they have a max running speed of 60 miles an hour!  That’s faster than my little diesel rabbit truck, which starts to shake a little bit at 60mph.

These little guys were scattered throughout the plains, and some of them had beautiful horns like this gentleman.  Often they would be near the road but leap and run away as soon as we got close.  Was it my body odor?!  😉

This picture was taken just as the baboon was going in for the attack!  Before arriving to this “picnic area” – which has a sign posted warning you of baboons in the area – Valerie told us stories about how last time they were down here the baboons were vicious little critters.  The baboons I guess were all over the picnic area and were not very friendly to anyone attempting to have lunch.  Anyways, after we all got out of the vans at the picnic area – which is generally the only place one should get out of the van while in the Nairobi reserves – Heather and I walked over to the far side of the picnic area which overlooked a cliff/rift area.  Heather saw the baboon first coming up the roadway and wanted to get a picture of it.  Once I finally saw it and watched it get closer we noticed that the large baboon had a young one with it as well.  At this point we nonchalantly yelled back to the vans “The baboons are coming!”; which being that there was only two this time we thought it was funny that “the baboons” were coming.  Heather did get quite close to them at which point I stated “don’t get too close!” as I’ve heard stories about how vicious baboons can be.  Paranoid?  Maybe.  Either way, the Baboons kept walking up the roadway and then veered off the roadway going away from the group.  Which I thought was a good thing, but they were just angling for a better attack position.  Suddenly they broke their casual walking pace and booked it towards the picnic table where everyone else was.  They ran between the vans, and I guess the group at the picnic table with all the food saw the young baboon first while the larger baboon jumped and perched on the picnic table bench for a second.  Startled everyone there, but especially the 2-4 year old Kenyan girl who was sitting on the bench right below this large baboon.  At this point we had packed a lot of food in a cardboard box, and seeing this the baboon grabbed it and made as if to dash.  Nash (I believe) also grabbed the box and a hilarious (in retrospect) tug of war took place for 3-5 seconds.  The box eventually tore down it’s corners and the contents spilled out.  I missed what happened next, but from the stories I think Valerie had picked up a box of cookies that had spilled out of the larger cardboard box during the scuffle.  The baboon, seeing that she obviously valued that box of cookies huffed and puffed at Valerie and grabbed those cookies right out of her arms!  Nash at this point then proceeded to imitate Rocky IV and punched the baboon straight in the chest.  Which I’m sure hurt at least a little but, but it startled the baboon more than anything because well, if it was a human it would have needed a diaper, but being an animal well, let’s just say that Number 2 ended up on the table he was so startled.  He than ran off with the cookies, and Osborn ran off the younger baboon who was still lurking nearby looking for something tasty to grab.  Overall, quite the story! Below is a picture of the younger baboon enjoying someone else’s lunch or garbage.

Seeing the warthogs was a fun event.  We were driving along and suddenly you see something large moving about in the bushes!  There was a whole family of these guys and after we pulled up they decided to leave the bushes and head elsewhere so we got a decent view of them.  Though the tall grass hid them well so the above is one of the better pictures.

Later one we approached a “nature walk” area.  Which was staffed by two soldiers with mid to large caliber rifles.  One of them took us on the nature walk where we saw three crocodiles, some turtles, a hippo, some birds and monkeys, and I think that’s everything.  The armed escort was even able to get the monkeys up close!

This is the famed Rhino which unfortunately (or luckily) didn’t get very close.  There you can just see his gray scaly back between the Ostrich and Gazelles.

Definitely one of the highlights of the trip was that we got to see Lions up close and personal.  Apparently Valerie and Richard, despite their many trips to the game park, have never seen a lion here.  Excepting one time where it was far away and “I think that’s a lion, but it could be something else”, but that doesn’t really count.  In the above lion picture you see how they are up high on a mound, well we drove right up to base of that mound and hung out there for 10 minutes.  They would look at us but luckily they weren’t very hungry! 😉

Near the end of the trip we finally got to see a Wildebeast!  They look just like the ones in the Lion King 😉

Beautiful shot huh?  You can thank my wife for that one.

Overall it was a spectacular day, fun, hot and tiring.  We all went back home and ordered meat at the Roasters Restaurant which was loosely attached to our Hotel.  Valerie had warned us that this restaraunt takes forever so we ordered food and then went back into the hotel to change, shower and prepare for the evening.  We spent about 45min doing this but still waited an additional 75 minutes for food.  This place doesn’t have a menu, you just tell them what kind of meat you want and they cook it.  Heather and I ordered Goat, to which the waitress asked “Arm, Leg, Ribs, …” so we got an arm to share between the two of us.  That meat was the among the toughest meat I’ve ever eaten.  My jaw was so tired after we were done.  My oh my!

June 4th, 2011

June 4th – June 6th Nairobi
Pictures for this posting are pictures 20 through 23.

After all the DANSO activities we traveled to our new hotel, the Luke Hotel.  The Luke is a wonderful place to stay.  The water in the shower works, the wood working is all hand done and everything is wood work.  Our door had an Owl carved into it, there were Maasai statues in the Lobby, our beds were handcarved wood, everything was quite beautiful. Here is a picture of our room at the Luke, note the wooden beds (the mosquito net frame wasn’t carved into anything special, but the desks and chairs were carved.

Even the parking lot lamp posts were carved out of wood, albeit some of them were a little odd or creepy.  But one can always make creepy into humorous with some well placed smiles.  🙂

The Luke is also where we saw the biggest bird I have laid eyes on.  A Stork.  Which I must admit, I figured it was a condor but Kenyans said they were storks.  We got better pictures of them in Kakamega when we were there, but these birds are literally 4ft tall minimum.  We didn’t get a picture of them hanging out with smaller crow-sized birds, but those crow-sized birds barely came up to the Stork’s knee.  Crazy!

EDIT: Added additional picture of Lamp Post wood carvings.

Posted in Nairobi, Travel |
June 3rd, 2011

June 3rd, Nairobi
Pictures for this posting are pictures 5 through 18.

Today we visited DANSO; which stands for Dandora Support Organization.  Truth be told, it wasn’t until I actually re-read the picture of their sign that I realized DANSO doesn’t stand for “Dandora AIDS Network Support Org”; which is totally what I thought it stood for the entire trip.  Oops.

Irregardless, DANSO is an organization run by and for people who are either “infected and affected” by AIDs.  Meaning, members either are infected with AIDs or someone close them (eg. mother or brother) is infected.  DANSO is a wonderful network of people who support each other through difficult times and difficult health conditions as well as keeping each other accountable for the DANSO microfinance fund.  DANSO seems to be completly run by Kenyans, sans the funding, some of which I know has come from Westside Church though I do not know how much came from DANSO itself.

Dandora is one poorest suburbs in Nairobi and borders a huge above ground dump.  There is a section of Dandora with the overly crowded slum-style living conditions, though the slums seemed to be a little better integrated with a business area than Kibera (which is just a huge area of seemingly infinite crowded buildings). 

Above are pictures of the nearby dump.  There were plenty of people scattered on the dump doing what people have done to waste for thousands of years, going through it and scavenging anything worth anything.

We visited a few of the shops of people who are members of DANSO and had received microfinance loans.  One gal who seems to be an excellent tailor took measurements of Heather and Kathy for a few dresses.  You will see Heather model her dress on Kenya night for sure! Below is a picture of the tailor herself and another store owner who sells goods on the roadway.  Our presence gathered a nice crowd.  We also visited a hair salon microfinance recipient.

While visiting the stores, we also made a few house calls.  One to a lady with HIV and Breast cancer.  Both diseases are horrible by themselves, let alone in pairs.  Later, we held a meeting with members of DANSO to give them a few hundred bucks for the microfinance fund (an additional 3 loans were given out) as well as to peruse some of their jewelry wares.  The ladies had a fine time looking though hand made jewelry.  Below is a picture of the DANSO members (not all were at this meeting) and the white (mzungu) gals.

Posted in Business, Nairobi, Slums |
June 2nd, 2011

We also visited a church in the Nairobi suburb called Karen who’s head Pastor is Charles Kiloki.  It’s quite a splendid church in a somewhat richer area of Nairobi though still pretty middle class.  Not with the poor people in the slums; nor with the rich politicians.  The church is actually set up as a part church, part school, and part business; which is arguably a more traditional idea of the church.  The church compound had a variety of buildings, the primary building is the ‘typical’ church building for worship and the general church service.  Surrounding the compound are smaller buildings for a young kid’s school, a tailoring shop/training facility, a computer training room, and a bible school (semi-common on larger churches to offer a bible school).  I will be honest, I wrote down “wood working” in my notes, but I can’t remember where that is, but I trust that somewhere on that compound is the beginnings of a wood shop training facility.

Besides all the training facilities that the church offers, it also runs a garbage pick-up service.  They seemed to have successfully beat out the limited competition with better rates and service; and use it as a way of reaching out to the Karen community.  I suppose it is also symbollic as Christ wants us garbage and all!  😉

One adorable side note: When we were walking around taking the tour of the compound (which isn’t really that large, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of an acre or ~20k sqr feet) two young girls ran up to Heather and hugged her.  For no apparent reason than maybe she smiled at them.  Kid’s love white people, but it is unusual for them to be that friendly to strangers, even if they are white.

We left the church compound to go check out the “dormitories” for the Bible School.  I was impressed.  It was two older buildings with a bunch of bunk beds in them, and farm that the students tend too.  Having the students tend the farm to produce their own food is a wonderful part of the instruction that many Kenyans (primarily males) avoid.  I was told then Kenyan boys don’t like farming.

Lastly, we visited a nearby house who may be a member of the Karen church though I’m not positive.  She and her husband love birds it appears.  I so wish we had our camera for this part of the trip.  This house’s yard is literally a bird sanctuary.  It had chickens of different types, doves, pigeons, turkeys, geese, parakeets, and peacocks with full colorful tails even!  There were other birds who’s names I can not recall.  They also raised goats and rabbits there as well.

Posted in Goats, Nairobi |
June 1st, 2011

June 1st – Kibera Slums
We visited the Kibera Slums today.  Kibera is the 2nd largest urban slum in Africa.  It is crowded, dirty, smelly, unsanitary and would be unfortunate for anyone to live there, yet 1/2 to 2 million people are that unfortunate.  It has a 100 year history that can be found easily on the web so I won’t go into that.  I don’t have any pictures from our time here because it was recommended not to take any pictures.  Some might take offense at it, others might try to steal the camera.  So for safety concerns, no cameras.

We had two soldier escorts with us to ensure safety.  We drove all in one van down one of the main strips of Kibera which was littered trash and shops.  Shops selling anything from cell phones/credit, to tailoring, furniture, water, vegetables, meat, welders, grinders, hair salons, and even photocopying/computer services.  Any and all of the normal shops you’ll see in any Kenyan city.  This blog post here has a great descriptoin and some pictures of such shops.  Oh, and I would not suggest the meat, they don’t refrigerate.  My western stomach would hurl mightily if it attempted to ingest such food I’m sure.  Eventually we got as far as we could with the van, so we parked and walked 1/5 to 1/10th of a mile for a few home visits of people in the community that could use prayer.  On the way, we walked past a man who was peeing into the rain trench (which is generally filled with rubbish and feces).  I’m sure we surprised him more than we us, how often does he have a bunch of white westerns walk behind him in the middle of the slums?

Home Visits:

  • Young boy (under 3 yrs old) with deformed feet.  He had a metal brace attached to his shoes that will force his limbs into a proper placement as he grows.
  • Young girl (under 5 yrs old) who had been raped by a grown man.  This was hands down the hardest part of the trip.  Justice is the Lord’s was something I had to consider.
  • Family of 3 girls where the oldest girl (13 yrs old?) is taking care her sisters, one of whom doesn’t talk or is deaf (couldn’t quite get that figured out), and one who had a huge goiter on her throat.
  • Happier visit to some kids that a gal from Westside sponsers.  Checking on how they are doing and such, they are in school and seem happy.

Kara Kibera School
WorldComp Kenya supports a school in the middle of Kibera and feeds the kids who attend one meal a day (beans and corn mainly with a banana) to help keep them in school and somewhat healthy.  The kids were delightful, and gave us some poems, songs and other such “presentations”.  At the end some of the ladies associated with the school (moms?  teachers?) produced some of their bead work of which we brought home a bunch in order to sell at the garage sale and on Etsy.  Overall their going rate is about $1 to $1.50 per day of work.  So a bowl that takes 2 weeks may cost 12$-15$ bucks, but a pair of earrings may go for $2.  Which, surprisingly is enough to sustain their lives there (1 meal + rent basically; I doubt much if any is left over).

May 31st, 2011

May 31st
We arrived in Nairobi, Kenya today.  Long flight, something like 17 hours flight time, not even counting the layover and travel to/from the airport.  We piled all of our gear and people into two vans and headed off to the Methodist Guest House; but first a stop over for gas station Chicken and Chips.  Which Valerie claims is the best Chicken and Chips in Kenya.  In hindsight, it probably is, as the chicken tastes like it was a plump western chicken, not the scrawny free-ranged and starving Kenyan kind that we got most of the trip.  But I’ll take that over some of the other chickens I saw running around!  No disease please!  Other than that, it was great to get into Bed, which happened to be two twin beds for Heather and I.  Which worked out alright, it’s too warm to sleep next to that furnace of a wife, especially when we aren’t adapted to the heat.  A pleasant waking, but unpleasant sleeping ~70-75deg at night. 

Posted in Kenya, Nairobi, Travel |