Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

All dressed up and no place to go

If you had the audio, it would sound like, "READY DOE!!!!"

I had a hilarious picture of James at about 3 years old in the same
stance (with a bit less-matching clothes, if you can believe it),
but alas, I think it is in the one year of archived pictures we lost
somewhere in the last 8 moves... so you will have to take my word
for it, James and Anna have this in common: They LOVE to GO! Joel
and I, on the other hand, prefer to stay home if given the choice.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hoppy the friendly frog

We have a school mascot that the boys named Hoppy. He has a photo album on our facebook page, but since some of you can't access that I will post at least one picture here. Hoppy is really enjoying life in the tropics. Here you see him learning to climb bars with the boys (note the poinsettia tree and bamboo fence in the background):

He has since discovered his long lost cousin Happy who lives back in Oregon. It's a shame they didn't have the opportunity to meet in frogness before we left, but they enjoy and rich long-distance amphibian friendship. Btw, pictures of Happy are also on Facebook. Sorry to be so exclusive, but posting things in multiple places on a limited internet connection is just unwise. The boys take turns putting him to rest for the night and make up fun adventures for him. They also get to read him stories from time to time. You may see him again...

My Princess

Or not

So much for 'promising' animal pictures. I am turning out to be wireless-network incapable in terms of getting those. They will come eventually. Sorry about that.

I will say to update on the ant situation that our house was 'diagnosed' with 3 kinds of ants in residence: sugar ants, safari ants, and termites. Here you might be able to see one example of the spaces they make in between floorboards to come out. This is a new hole, with only 50 or so sugar ants (a few safari ones which are a bit bigger/darker):


They were eating the underside of the floorboards in a couple places and coming up everywhere, so our landlord agreed to pay for extermination ASAP. Monday they mostly all died. It has been SO much more clean and peaceful since then! YAY!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Warthogs, eh-phants & giraffe - oh my!

Two of the most affordable ways to get in on the safari tourism around here are the AFEW Giraffe Centre and The Sheldrick Foundation’s Animal Orphanage. You can click on them to read more about their causes, which are fascinating to me. As you may have heard, our kids remembered and loved feeding the giraffe, so it was first on our list of things to do while we’re here. They set up this center to help fund a project to prevent the Rothschild Giraffe from extinction. I’m told they are famous for having no color below the knee, like they are wearing white socks! =)


[PICTURES POSTED NEXT I PROMISE!]


There are always warthogs running around eating up the crumbs dropped by the giraffe, (like a giraffe could reach…) I’m really not a warthog fan. I can’t seem to find anything remotely cute or interesting there, regardless of what Disney tries. What was God thinking when he fashioned the warthog?

The last few times we’ve been to the Giraffe Centre, there’s been one older female who loves to eat and is always hanging around licking tourist’s hands for pellets (though I’m told she will head-butt anyone coming by without the pellets, and her head is HUGE). Her name is Daisy. We learned that she’s 17 years old and pregnant! I’d be hungry too judging from the size of a baby giraffe – I think they’re born at about 6 feet tall! We could see in the distance 2 other new babies: a female only 1 month old walking around tentatively with Mom, and a male only 5 mos. old starting to eat from trees. Looks like the breeding is working fine and the Rothschild giraffe will still be around.

While we were busy snapping pictures of Joel shoving pellets into Daisy’s sticky gray tongue, Bernie, an 18 month old male came up and took a few handouts by sticking his tongue through the fence. The boys thought that was great. His coloring is quite a bit darker than the others because, the keeper explained, his father’s coloring is darker. As we drove out of the park, we saw who we assume to be his father (much darker coloring than the others) munching away on trees across the road from us!

Then we found our way through the maze of streets (essentially no signs, and certainly no maps) to the edge of the Nairobi National Game Park. Yes, there is a Game Park with wild animals that comes up to the city’s edge. There are fewer and fewer animals seen these days I hear. We went once a few years back and saw water buffalo, ostrich, baboons, monkeys and gazelle I think. Still a fun, though spendy excursion. On the edge there is a gate, again if you know where to look, that opens from 11-12am to allow tourists to come and see the baby elephants and sometimes a rhino that have been orphaned and are being successfully raised and re-introduced to the wild. Very exciting work. Sorry to say, poaching still happens. They have lots of good pictures and stories at the above website.

They have so many baby elephants now that they are split in two groups. The younger ones ranged from 5 mos-18 mos old. The second group was a bit older: 2-2 ½ years old. I could not believe how fast they drank about 3 gallons of soy milk – probably in less than one minute! The keepers explained that soy milk is as close as they can get, seeing as how it would be next to impossible to milk a wild elephant. Good point there. In each group as they travel around the wild together, they have keepers who help them throw dirt on their backs to keep bugs off (like a mama elephant would I guess), etc. How would you like to impersonate a mother elephant for a living? =) Then socially, one of the older females takes the dominant role as the leader and they are eventually released. Exciting really. Hot sun, crowds of people, and oncoming colds got the better of us and we left early. Oh my! It was still fun.

P.S. Friday we drove by the same area and saw a huge warthog on the loose. He was milling around by a bus stop. James laughed and said, “Who would let a warthog on a bus?! Not me!” =) Wish I had my camera for that one!

Joel's Friend in the Cupboard

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Driving me crazy

There is no way for me to convey the full experience of driving in a city such as this on a blog. I will do what I can. We have often compared the system of roads and rules between here and there as a dance. In the US we drive like a ballet – well-timed, organized, everyone in their spaces. Whereas driving here is more like a Latin lambada – not about rules, but emotion with competition for space and very fluid - every inch counts.


Anyway, it took me a year or more when we first moved to overcome my anxieties and learn to drive a stick-shift on the LEFT side of the road with potholes and no lines within inches of many other drivers. This time around it was shocking to change ‘dances’ so suddenly, but I was trying it out on Sunday mornings (least traffic of the week) again during our third week. This week I did most of the driving as Kent was still exhausted from his travels. On Saturday I missed an unmarked speed bump and took it at almost 30mph. Oops! We were all fine. After that Anna started saying, “Sorry!” every time we went over a speed bump. =)


Then on the way home on an unknown road, there was a small herd of cattle walking on the other side of the road (normal during dry season – where else do you find good green grass but in the city!?) when one sizable black and white one came charging across the road. I was going pretty fast, and hit the gas and swerved to get past her! I narrowly missed a charging heifer on the road – that’s a first! Kent started calling me ‘safari mama’! I guess I’m comfortable driving again.


Then Tues. morning I was late for the inter-mission Women’s Bible study across town (on Esther btw, very good) because the car was being washed when I arrived to pick it up. Anyway, I wasn’t rushing too badly, but wasn’t going to sit in a traffic jam either.


There are so many mini-buses (Toyota vans with 14 passengers that work like a bus system more or less) on the road that we’re very accustomed to someone driving in front of you and suddenly pulling off to the side of the road to pick up or drop off a passenger. Traffic flow continues whenever possible even if it means crossing into the oncoming lane. I was following a small truck closely and he suddenly pulled off to the side of the road. No problem. I’ll just pass him. As I swerved around him I had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting a car full of policemen, lights flashing, sirens blaring, in my lane. Oops. I guess that’s why everyone pulled over so suddenly…


Thankfully they were in a hurry to get somewhere and just went around me and everyone continued merrily on their way. It took a few minutes for my heart rate to drop though. Hitting a car full of policemen - another first. So is it places like this that formed the phrase ‘driving me crazy’?

Househunt

Some of you may be wondering how our househunt is going in our new location. FYI, Kent has some great pictures and commentary up on his blog (link at right). He also has the picture of Joel that was supposed to accompany the 'acclimation' article below. Check it out!

Ear Ouchie addendum

Anna started her antibiotics Monday, and I expected her fever to
drop by the second day, but even Thurs. morning she woke up early in
the morning at 101 F! She's never had an ear infection that caused a
high fever. I was baffled and about to Email the doctor today about
what else we should do, but when I got her dressed I noticed she had
no fever this morning and a nice lacey rash all over her tummy. Ah
ha!! Joel had a similar thing 2 weeks ago from the airplanes, some
kind of mild form of the measles. So the ear infection DIDN'T cause
a high fever, the measles did! =) This might explain why she was SO
miserable last weekend...

As for now, she's still tired, but singing and playing and on the mend!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

… … Ants … … … … … …

They really do work hard and never give up!

The house we're subletting for this month has an ant problem. At
first I assumed it was a normal dry season ant problem. Then they
started coming through the floorboards… and in the windows… and out
of the countertops. Joel's not completely overreacting when he
refuses to get out of bed without his shoes on.

We were careful at first using simple soap powders to deter them.
Lately, Kent has pulled up the loose floorboards to put poison
underneath them! Then we paid a gardener to chop down some extra
vines and tree branches because all our clean laundry on the line
had ants crawling all over it! While the laundry IS better, we're
still not 'winning' and we've asked a friend to check into
exterminators. The problem is that they come through the brick wall
from next door, so we can kill all we want and not solve 'the problem'.

There is a missionary story you may have heard that goes something
like this:
During the first year a new missionary sees a bug in his soup and
refuses to eat it.
During the second year the missionary sees a bug in his soup and
picks it out with his fingers.
During the third year, he sees a bug in his soup and says, "Hey!
Extra protein!"

Let's just say we're still at the picking-it-out-with-fingers stage!

Huggies made my day!

So some of you know of our current needs for sizeable overnight
pull-ups, that we will need for the foreseeable future, and that I
have never seen in an African grocery store. (There were only so
many we could cram in our suitcases, and our special order cloth
covers are so bulky and hot – we're not giving up entirely yet.) My
preconceived shopping notions are being broken down here. Last week
I found a size that mostly works (up to 60 lbs), and bought the rest
of their stock (2 packages) of boy-colored ones. Funny that they
still had lots of girl ones left… They were the EXACT same thing we
were buying at home, but with international marketing (i.e.
different labeling) and were cheaper – HOW does that work?

But today, Huggies made my day! I found several packages of the
larger size that goes up to 100 lbs. SCORE! They were $12 for 9,
which is way more spendy than I wanted, but hey, I found the right
Huggies/Goodnites in Africa!!!! Some of you must know why that is
SO cool! I am praising God for these! There is, of course, no
guarantee that they will ever stock them there again, but Huggies
still made my day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

acclimation

We had a little trouble with Joel exhibiting irrational fears a couple
weeks ago, on our arrival in Kenya. A neighbor's little rat dog and ants
(seen or otherwise) made him unable to leave his bed without shoes or
socks, and the house without adult supervision. But this week we went
to an elephant orphanage, and saw this sight, which makes it look like
he's getting along just fine. This is Joel, watching elephants, and
holding the hand of a perfect stranger.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ear Ouchie

Anna had a run-of-the-mill cold last week, which didn't go away and so I was suspecting her typical weakness after a week or so: ear infection. I took her to a closer doctor to avoid many hours of traffic, (our regular pediatrician is traveling around India this month). She was very panicky about seeing a doctor because she remembers getting shots. I tried to assure her that this was a very nice "grandma" doctor and that she would not have any shots. It helped... until she saw the white coat.

So she was hysterical just for someone to look at her ears and listen to her breathe. The doctor said her little heart was pounding so quickly! I've often surmised that I have doctor-induced hypertension (high BP only at the office, normal at home or out shopping) aka 'white coat syndrome' and it appears Anna's off on that same foot. I am off topic here.

So turns out that the sleepless nights, sensitivity, pain, and congestion are due to a double ear infection, one side being really quite bad. She gave us some hefty drugs and Anna's slept really well since. Alleluia! Pray this will kick the infection.

P.S. I've also since verified that there are two missionary ladies with medical training in our future town who can check ears, so I don't have to learn myself - God is good!

He always does.



The past 2 Sundays we had the privilege of visiting a new church
plant nearby: Faith Reformed Baptist Church (Nairobi). Our good
friend and former Kenyan pastor had started this new work while we were in
the US. We knew of his vision and began to pray for it years back,
but it was such a blessing to see it with our own eyes! We enjoyed
sweet fellowship and Ethiopian food at Kent's favorite local
restaurant. YUM!


Here's one story of God's handiwork...
Apparently Pastor (at left above) has begun quite an outreach to youth on the
streets here. There are several young people that have come to
Christ recently and a few of them are really trying to turn their
lives around. In a city of around 3 million people with an
unemployment rate of about 40%, there are slums and neighborhoods
where crime, drugs and corruption are a way of life. This church is
not far from Kibera, listed as one of the largest slums in Africa.
If you need some idea of what that looks like here's a UN-sponsored
video (not recommended for children please!):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPuNXO7_tno

I'm familiar with the poverty and squalor a bit, but I rarely meet
someone who is saved out of it! I got to talk with a young man named
Moses, who until 3 weeks ago was homeless, jobless, doing drugs and
I don't want to know what all else. God used our Pastor friend to
reach out to young men like him and make a difference for eternity.
He has been 'clean', attending and serving at church regularly, and
plans to begin his life all over again. He has enrolled himself in a
mechanic's apprenticeship and hopes to become a private taxi driver
someday.

I was also struck by the immense generosity of our friend. Here he
is planting a church that is not 'in the black' yet, putting his own
children through school (2 in college right now), surviving only on
his wife's teacher's salary (which was on strike for a time and
unpaid yet for Jan.) and HE'S the one GIVING in ministry??!! They
are struggling to feed their family because they give so much to
others! If you ask them, they smile and say, 'The Lord will provide.
He always does.'

God has blessed them richly with 4 believing children who not only tolerate their parent's calling, but participate and support it. These costly sacrifices may feel invisible, but they are not. They are bearing beautiful fruit!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Haircuts around for the tropics! (we're not in Kansas anymore Toto)

Note James' new permanent teeth!
I was trying to capture Anna's curls. I refuse to cut them for fear
they will disappear. She had just woken up from nap and in the
moisture had curled more than usual. I promise I didn't even touch
them. May I never forget...

I snapped these the night before Kent left town with the camera (for
a good cause!) just to show you that the kids are well even on the
this side of the ocean. We've the month of teeth. James lost his
first 2 and gained a 6-year molar. Anna is cutting her 2-yr molars.
Fun times! And in a land without applesauce...hm.

Off to prepare for Kenyan guests - chapati tonight, yum!
(affectionately called 'chapo' here)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Travelogue - Photo Edition

Here are our little frequent fliers.
James discovered the built-in video games that came with the
movie/radio console. The airplane air was so dry Anna's hair got
really staticky and floated all around like we were rubbing a
balloon on her hair! At one point she got really annoyed that she
couldn't get it off her cheeks! But it was hard to get a clear
picture of, so I made a few attempts...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Anna's Birthday - Photo Edition

Mom finally unpacked the camera and there are lots of photos to share now!
For my birthday dinner we went to 'Tate's house'.

Here's me with my tandles.
Check out the blowing action!

I love to jam out with my friends (it was actually a mean game of Ring Around the Rosey).
Note the pink sparkle shoes:

Three 2-yr-old blondies.

Then the next night we got to have [the free] ice cream sundae at Red Robin.
They made me share with my brothers though...

Oh wait! I think I can get a little more out of this!!!