As I look at the picture above I rejoice in the family God has given me. My precious family, the treasure that God has placed in my hands to guide and disciple. Please keep them in your prayers as they grow. Tanya in now 16 and starting to think about college. She has many choices to make in the next year or two. We are hoping to get her started with classes over the internet and at least let her get some basics finished. Christy is 13 and loves life. She has a servants heart and can be counted on to help whether it is with cookies or cleaning. Josh (9) is starting his personal race. He loves action, mechanics, building, and good stories. Pray that we can guide him into meaningful service for the Lord and that we can help all of them grow in the Lord.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The truck rebuild is also coming along at a decent pace. We lifted the cab yesterday and are starting the patching on that today. We hope to have it done by the end of today so that when the parts arrive from America this evening, we can start on the engine. As soon as the engine is set in the frame, we can bolt up the transmission and transfer case and then set the cab on. I need the cab to hold the wiring harness and computer so that we can start the engine. My goal is to see the engine running by the end of Sunday. I honestly do not know if I can reach my goal, but it would be great to see it. Josh is also getting some time to help me on different projects. I have him taking off the old engine mounts in the picture below. He was one happy boy.
Along with all this, life continues on. We continue to have morning devotions every morning with the workers as well as Sunday services which have been very well attended. I have been down three times to talk with David and help adjust his medications. Tanya has also been pressed into service to help with taking some of the sick ladies to the health center. We have one girl who was in our Sunday school class 10 years ago who has a badly infected foot. I have never seen a foot so swollen. Tanya is taking her for a series of shots to try to get the infection under control. It is a blessing to have a daughter who you can rely on. The rain is also continuing here in the Mara and that as well is a blessing. Thank you all for your prayers.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The other big blessing is that the rains have returned to the Mara. We have not had as much rain in Sekenani as the rest of the Mara has had, but it is coming. Friday night the rain continued throughout the night until morning. On Saturday I noticed that our pump went for almost two hours without running out of water. God is good. One of the beautiful sights I saw this week was on Friday night. I was outside talking with Michael at 8:00 PM. The sky was cloud covered and the sun had set almost an hour earlier. On the far western horizon I watched a lightning storm. As the lightning would flash it was filtered by the clouds and the light of the sun that was still hitting the upper atmosphere on the western horizon. Each time the lightning flashed, we were treated to vivid red and purple flashes, with clouds outlined in bold relief. We stood and watched for five minutes and as the colors faded out and the lightning return to it's normal white color. We truly live in a beautiful place. God is so good to us. The picture on the left shows the fog that we are seeing some mornings.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I thought that I would pass along a quick brief on how things are going on the truck rebuild. It is hard to even know where to start in describing the work that has been done. We have the engine apart and are now waiting on some parts. The cam shaft is beyond the point of reusing so one is on order. Thankfully we have a friend who is walking it over with his luggage on the 28th when he returns to Kenya. We have fixed the rear axle and painted the frame and braces. The A-arms and springs all have new bushings and the final coat of black paint was applied today. Tomorrow we are going to start putting the axles on the new frame and seeing how far we can get. I should have more pictures and news by the week end so I will keep this short. If you are at all interested in engines and what has happened to our engine, check the links to the truck pictures. It has a lot of detailed shots of the work with explanations of what you are looking at. I also updated the old link that shows the broken frame and sheet metal. Keep us in your prayers as we put this together as it is critical to have a reliable vehicle if you want to live here in Kenya. I can't even imagine how much better this truck will be. It should be back to 80% of new. I reserve 20% as there are problems in the engine that I can't fix in Kenya. Even with these problems, we will have a much better running engine. The picture on the left shows the problem that caused us to pull the engine and also destroyed the cam shaft. The metal pieces are called lifter and are supposed to have perfectly round rollers on the end. You can see how worn they are. One is even cracked and missing a section. This was what was causing the clicking noise that I was looking for.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
The sun was beating down on us unmercifully and the air had a dry dusty smell to it. All around us was short scrub brush, parched with the need of rain. The ground was rock, dust, and brown grass. Warm wind was blowing my hair but brought no relief. I could hear birds and crickets but even they sounded hot….. It may seem like a grim picture but I was loving it!
I was walking with Eunice, my friend, going to see where she lived. We were joking and having a good time. I have wanted to see where she lived for some time so I jumped at the chance when it came. Here in Masai Mara, going to a friend’s house doesn’t happen all that much.
To be honest, I don’t have that many good friends among the locals. The biggest reason is that none of them stay here very long. Most of the girls are ‘traditional’ and get married at thirteen. After which they go and live wherever their husband is from; very rarely is he from around here. The rest are ‘nontraditional’ and go to boarding school. This obviously means they are here only for a few weeks a year. Don’t get me wrong! I do have a couple good friends here and many elsewhere.
Some of my friends are in the
Another hard thing about the mission field is what we call the ‘fish bowl’ effect. We are the fish! The people are always watching what we are doing. As you can imagine, we don’t really blend in very well with our pale tans and blond hair! Often people will pretend to be our best friend as long as they think they can get something from us. They will tell me what they imagine that I want to hear. Their idea of white people is the tourists who come here and have a seemingly unending amount of money. They are hoping that as my friend they will get help. That’s our life in the fish bowl though.
One of the best things about living here is the fact that our family is really close. We do everything together, from school to meals, to the ministry. Also, we have done a lot of fun things together! On our travels we have been to see castles in
Pets are also something unique here. Among MK’s pets are chameleons, squirrels, praying mantises, dikdiks (a small deer), hedgehogs, house cats (not the big kind with large appetites although we do know of one cheetah that is a pet), tortoises, and dogs. That’s quite the variety!
MK life may have a lot of hardships with always sticking out and never belonging to one place, but I wouldn’t trade it with anyone. Seeing God work in the lives of people my own included, seeing amazing parts of His creation, and having such wonderful memories with my family is really awesome. How blessed I am!
Sunday, January 18, 2009
One of the things that you get used to very quickly in Africa is how fast everything changes. The latest example of that was with our water. In the last two weeks we have struggled to get enough water. The first problem was the baboons. They chewed through a line that fed our station tanks and drained almost 9000 gallons of water in a night. We started pumping the next day and put several 1000 gallons more into the tank. When we went up to look after two days, we were empty again. Why? The lines had sucked some trash into them and the float valves were not closing in our tanks. We had just pumped the well out into the bushes. We then decided that while the water was so low that we would go into the main tank and clean it and seal a couple of areas that looked like they were still leaking a little bit. After two days of cleaning and working on the tank we tried to fill it again (14,000. gallons). After a couple of days of pumping we went to look into the tank and found it still empty. OK! Now What? For three days Travis and his Father Larry looked and measured everything. The finial verdict is that the pump is working fine, but the water table has dropped almost 8 feet. That means our well has only 14 inches of water above the pump. Once we have pumped down to that level, the pump shuts off. We then wait for 5 hours and pump again. This has caused us to start pumping in shifts. We pump one hour every eight hours. Slowly the big tank is starting to fill. This is normal life in Kenya. In the midst of daily devotions, Sunday services, literacy classes, a truck rebuild, visiting the new dentists, helping David, we run into water problems and have to switch directions. It is what makes life exciting, and awful at the same time. It was a blessing that Larry and Travis chose to pursue it, while I worked on the truck. I sealed and cleaned the tanks and helped check out the well, but they did the sitting and looking to see when the pump shut off and how long it takes to fill. Thank the Lord for friends. PS Can you guess the next Prayer request???? We could use some rain!!!! Please Pray. :) As always, there are more pictures to be seen by following the link on the right. Check out Travis's Photo...
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
We live in a beautiful corner of God's World. The green grass, the hot sun, the cool breezes, lofty peaks with grand vistas, animals of every shape and description. We hear the roars of lions, the laughter of a hyena getting a meal, the songs of the Maasai, the trumpet of the elephants. The soft clanging of the cowbells, announcing the sunset, as long lines of the trusty creatures wander by on their way home. You can drive through the Mara and even enjoy the different smells. I can smell the sharp acid odor of a campfire in the cool morning air, and the dust has a beautiful smell as the raindrops hit the parched and thirsty ground with large thumps.
Of course all this is missed if you have a tooth ache. What does a person in Sekenani do who has a tooth ache? Do you really want to know??? Okay. The first thing you have to realize is that an African bush dentist is slightly different than an American dentist. The dentist office is usually on a porch or under a tree. You either get a plastic chair or a wood stool depending on if your dentist is doing well with his business of not. Either way there is only one procedure, you can have the tooth pulled or.... you can have the tooth pulled. His tools for this job are very basic, he has a pair of pliers and a bottle of whiskey for you and him both, and for sterilization. About half the time, you will need to go to the doctor afterward as there is a piece of root left in there, that starts to get infected and has to work its way out.
With this as the background, you can imagine our surprise and joy to hear that we had a real dentist coming to our neck of the bush and opening his practice. I have to admit that I didn't have high hopes. Now looking back, I feel totally embarrassed. Ray is a Dentist from Seattle WA and has been doing Medical / Dental safaris for almost thirty years. On Jan 9th 2009 he opened the Safari Dentist Office here in the Mara and hopes to work here full time. This is quite a change, and it has us very busy as we are taking friends and family over to have their teeth checked. The pictures are of Unis and her Mom. Unis is a young lady from our church that was looking for work. She had finished High School and a short school on public health. She is now studying and working as a dental assistant. Her mother Agnes needed a root canal. It has been a blessing to both of them. Unis loves her new work and is excited over all the new things that she is learning. God is so good. If you would like to visit Ray's website, click on "the safari Dentist" link on the right hand side.
Monday, January 12, 2009
I just want to give you an update on David and Evelyn and their daughter Lydia. (The middle one. :) ) David started his oral medication for depression today. Please keep him in your prayers as we hope that it will not have as much influence on him as the injections. The shots were causing him so much drowsiness that he was having trouble functioning and a dry mouth. With the pills we hope to be able to regulate the dosage better. We are hoping that the mouth dryness and tiredness will pass as well as he gets rid of the medicine from his body and returns to a more normal level. God has been good in giving us a doctor that really cares and is working with us on his meds. Yesterday Evelyn was up with us and was still very happy to have her husband. Thanks to the ability to work with David and this Doctor, she has her family.
Speaking of family, I want to give you an update as well on Lydia, her youngest sister, who Evelyn adopted when their mother died. Lydia has been at a bush high school in Maji Moto. This school has performed very poorly on the government tests and we were depressed over Lydia's education. As a new Junior in High School, she should have been able to speak and write English very well as well as been able to have knowledge of many other subjects which she is missing. When she was home we found out that they teach the kids in the Maasai language and her scores reflected it. She graduated number 2 in her class of 54, but had a C- mean grade point. (You need a B- mean score to qualify for any further education after high school.)
After praying and thinking about this, we encouraged Evelyn to look for a better school as this might be all the schooling that Lydia will ever get. We paid to have her retested and the clothes and books that she would need as well as putting money aside for a new school. (about $300.00) On Tuesday we got Lydia's test results back and found that if she was willing to repeat her Sophomore year, she could transfer to the number two school in our district. She was almost in tears, she was definitely very 'starry' eyed, as she cried YES! She really wants to learn more and to do better, but she hasn't had the chance. We are thankful for that. We have high hopes for this girl as she is one of the first Christian girls from a Christian home in our community. If she marries a Christian man, it will be only the second completely Christian marriage in our area. You really see the difference it makes when you look around and see all the problems that the mixed marriages have had. Please keep Lydia in your prayers as she starts at Ole Tipis Girls School in Narok. Today is her second day and she has a lot of catching up to do. I am adding this picture which is the only one we have of her without a hat. We have laughingly called her the elf with her hoods. :) (See the Dec. 11th post.) She is truly loved by my girls. All of them from Almi on down. LOL
Thursday, January 8, 2009
This photo was taken at 6:25 from a Hot Air Balloon. You might wonder what a missionary in Kenya is doing riding around in a hot air balloon. The story start a couple of months ago. As you might remember I have been working at the hospital on building new gates and a sign. One of the people who is interested in helping there also is a Hot air balloon pilot in the Mara. A couple of weeks ago he asked if I would like a complimentary ride. It was not too hard to answer that question!
I told him that I am sure there would also be some other people interested in going if there was room. Travis's Dad was coming out to visit from the states and I have two daughters that might also enjoy it. (In for a penny, in for a pound. :) ) He asked for the dates that would work and said that he would get back to me as soon as he had an opening. At $450 dollars a seat he did not feel comfortable taking us on a private ride, but if there was a balloon without a full complement of passengers, he promised to let me know.
On Jan 6th he called to say that there was an opening for all of us on the flight on Wednesday the 7th. We hustled over to Serova at 5:45 in the morning and took off around 6:15-6:30 The flight last for a little over an hour and a half. We traveled at around 10-14 mph and covered 25 miles. We passed over lots of giraffes, elephants, cape buffalo, as well as numerous zebras and gazelles. We also got this picture looking down on a pair of Crowned Cranes. It was amazing to watch the sun come up and the color change on the land. This was something that I have often watched from our front deck as I have a cup of coffee, but it was especially beautiful from the balloon.
The question I had when we were done was how to count this up as a home school trip. Is it geography as the kids learned about knots / mph / kph and saw Kenya and Tanzania. Or is this science as we learned about the physics of hot air. We shared the balloon with people from Poland, Australia, Britain, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya so maybe it was sociology . We talked about Kenya and Tanzania under colonial rule and Ida Amin the uganda dictator, so maybe this was history or civics. The only thing I am sure of is that anyway you count it, this was a great field trip and a highlight for me as well as my daughters.
On the way home we passed a lion kill. Five males lions had killed a giraffe. One of the males had been kicked and was very sore. We pulled up and watched as one of the males came over and ripped out some more meat to eat. As we looked around we saw the hyenas watching from 30 meters away and the Jackals for another 5 or 10 meters. All the animals were waiting their turn to eat the scraps from the Lion. Now I wonder if I should add biology as the Driver explained how the lions killed the giraffe and how to tell the age of the lions. (roughly) (These pictures were all taken by Tanya, so maybe it was photogaphy???)
As always, there are links on the right to more pictures. (Hot Air Balloon Ride & Sunrise over the Mara.) Hope you enjoy them. I know that my daughters and I enjoyed taking them. :)
Monday, January 5, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
Christmas and New Years is over for another year. In many ways our Christmas is the same as at home and in some ways it is different. This year we had a children's party on the Monday before Christmas and an adult party on Christmas day for the church members. Both of these parties were held at Travis's house as he has a much bigger house and front area. We of course don't have snowball fights and hot chocolate, but water balloon fights and Kool-aid. For the adults we enjoyed some munchies with fellowship and had our first ever door prize drawing. It was a lot of fun to watch the different people choose their prize.
On New Year's Eve, we did the Johnson thing and went to bed. LOL It was a funny night as the Mara comes alive with the noise from the Maasai parties. For those of you who are wondering, there is no tradition for this. I think it is easy for anyone to add a tradition that includes a vacation and party. The funniest part for me was on New Years Day. As we went down to set up the games in the school yard, we noticed that the cows were being taken out by only one herder and the goats and sheep were all being taken out by very young kids. (5 and 6 year olds were common sights) I thinks we were seeing 150 cows per person and no one else out side of their huts at 9:00 AM. Usually the minyattas are full of life by 6:30 AM.
The games went well with the spear throw and the rungu (wood throwing stick) throw were hits. Travis and his dad welded a neat rack that would spin if you hit it. This was a big hit as everyone was throwing stuff at it all day, rungus or rocks. I think the run took a lot out of everyone who tried it as they all about collapsed after the 600 yard run. We are discussing things that we can add next year already.
Keep us in your prayers as we get back into the 'official' work again. Almi is trying to get the school year mostly done by the end of Feb. (We need a miracle!) and I will be starting the engine rebuild on Monday Jan. 5th. There are many other projects that I wish we could get done, and some that we will have to fit in so keep praying.
As always, there are new photo albums on the right, but not a new question on Mara traditions on the left. I just can't make myself get rid of the snake pictures. At least not yet. :) I'm here and he's not and there is much rejoicing.