Saturday, January 1, 2011

Gratefully Looking Back

St. Edwin's Orphanage

It's 2011 now and time to slow down and reflect on the enormous privilege of living and ministering in Kenya. Jim and I never imagined such a blessing and could never regret the Lord's leading us there. There's so much we'd love to tell you. To quote a character in The Princess Bride, "Let me there's too much...let me sum up."

We were not only afforded the opportunity to teach and nurture missionary children at RVA, but also give the chance to reach out and minister in Kenyan communities. One Saturday took Gale again to St. Edwin's where she helped prepare the new mattresses provided for the girls by caring people in the U.S.

The orphanage shamba or garden

Gracious hospitality--steaming hot chai

The children share music with us.

Tiny feet in shoes that must last awhile.

And of course, local wildlife. A chameleon and a big bug.

Touring the Caves at Mt. Suswa

Jim, I and some friends were given a special tour by our friend and guard, Sammie. In order to visit the reserve, one had to be guided by a Masai tribal member. Sammie not only gave us a tour of these remarkable volcanic caves, but also fed us a lovely lunch of Kenyan stew and chipatis.

Gale, Sammie, and friends and our "obstacle course."

A Hyrax--this little furry fellow is genetically related to an elephant.

Mount Longonot in the distance

A young Masai moran (warrior.)

Sammie and his family.

A whistling acacia and neighboring giraffes.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Aberdares--Part II

We looked at each other often and said "a picture can't do justice to this." What we saw is well nigh indescribable and beyond photography--but I'm going to to share just a taste of what we experienced in this brief getaway.

A crested eagle

Clouds and mist over Aberdare
moors and mountains

Elephant grass

The river just below the cabin.
Notice the hanging moss.

One of many waterfalls,
each with its own
ecosystem and plantlife.

We would daily trek to see
a new waterfall.

The same falls, second stage.

After our first water fall trek,
this deer walked out to greet us as
though she were on official business.

Others were more wary.

Still others posed majestically.

A Franklin hen.

Mustache extensions?
No, Jim being silly
with hanging moss.

Are these deer tour guides?
She stood behind me as I rested during a
waterfall trek.

Wild gladiolus


Another section--
different plant life--
An orchid-like flower
among bamboo.

Water buffalo in the
bamboo forest.

We moved from bamboo to


Brilliant green tea farms just north of the park

A brief stop at Nyeri, final home of
Lord Baden-Powell, creator of
Boy Scouts. Jim is sitting
at a table made by Baden-Powell.

"Abedares You're Beautiful, but Abedares, You're Cold!"

Our curiosity about this astounding place goes way back. One of our favorite actors, Eagle Scout, and World War II pilot, Jimmy Stewart visited the Aberdares with his family and penned a folksy poem in its honor. Against all expectations, this equatorial mountain range is chilly. Stewart quipped that in the Aberdares you did not wipe away your tears; you only "broke them off."

Jim, Vic Carpenter, the Tilly family and I came there for a few days before the last, hard and fast third term. We were told we better rest up and then hold on!

Just like Jimmy Stewart would have advised, we brought our sleeping bags and slept in warm-up suits. We cooked simple meals on the one working burner on the two-burner stove and huddled by the fireplace and surrounded by kerosene lanterns. We read and played Triominos with the children

Jim was in his glory fishing and he caught and enjoyed one rainbow for breakfast. He and the Tillys fished the stream just below the cabin everyday. Jim, Elizabeth Tilly, and I had one heart-stopping moment when we had a brush with a crabby Cape Buffalo. E.T. as we call her, saw one horn and his muzzle. Jim and Elizabeth heard his snort and we all backed away and returned the way we came...carefully.

We drove and hiked to three beautiful waterfalls and saw more from a distance. Each had its own eco-system with its own unique plant-life and beauty. This was Kenya at its most otherworldly magnificence. This little Okie was definitely not tromping through the Johnson grass and post oaks. We drove up one grass-covered path to a primeval forest to turn back when we reach an impassably muddy bridge with no guardrails. The wonder of that forest was worth that side trip.

We saw a lot of fresh elephant and buffalo dung, but only two buffalo on a distant mountain-side for the first three days (other than our brush with Crabby.) Dave and Jim followed fresh leopard prints on the roadside on an early morning fishing trek. Dave saw a civet, a smaller spotted cat dash across the road, but we could only photograph his prints. Both cats were almost certainly stalking the abundant, almost tame antelopes we saw daily.

The last day we drove through the park to Nyeri and this was one of the most stunning and unsettling parts of the trip. We finally saw a herd of Cape Buffalo, snuffling and staring in their challenging way at the intruders. Once past them, we only had to sweat making our way through miles of muddy roads far from civilization. It was unnerving at times, but beauties amazed us at every turn in the road. At last we were past the electrified gate and cruising through slopes of bright green tea farms.

Once in Nyeri we visited the final home of one of Jim's heros, Lord Baden-Powell, who founded the Boy Scouts. He is revered in Kenya and on February 22, thousands of scouters, male and female make the march in his honor from his home at Outspan to his gravesite facing Mount Kenya. On the gatepost the Scouts Promise reads "On my honour I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to help other people at all times, and to obey the Scouts Law."
For pictures--see Part II.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pray for Kenya

Kenyan National Anthem


Ee Mungu nguvu yetu

Iletebaraka kwetu

Haki iwe ngao na mlinzi

Natukae na undugu

Amani na uhuru

Raha tupate na ustawi.

O God of all creation

Bless this our land and nation

Justice be our shield and defender

May we dwell in unity

Peace and liberty

Plenty be found within our borders.

Crater Lake

We took turns this Saturday. I took Jim's picture and he took mine on a beautiful summer day.

On our way to Crater Lake we passed Naivashu where growing a great percentage of Europe's cut flowers is a major industry. Note the greenhouses behind the small local stores or dukas.

We shared our lunch with our wonderful RVA neightbors, Vic and Charlotte Carpenter, and our friends, Elisha and Esther. Elisha came from extreme hardship and poverty to missionaries who provided food, shelter, and education. He and Esther have devoted their lives to helping other children. Esther is also an English teacher and a Scout leader!

One Greater and several Lesser Flamingos in this lake formed in the caldera of an extinct volcano.

Later, a brief tour of game park. Two impala...not Chevys, however.

This quirky fella made us smile.

Young giraffe taking a break.

Saturday at the market.