Tuesday, September 30, 2008

(651) 283-0484

That's my new number while I'm Stateside. It's a Virgin Mobile number. I tried to get a 612 area code, but it didn't work out that way. Oh well.

Please give me a call!

Email remains the same. Looking forward to seeing or talking to you soon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Over the Pond

Most of my readers know that I am planning a trip to the US soon, very soon. I thought I would post a few details in case folks have missed the info.

I leave Kenya this coming Sunday evening at around 10:00 PM local time. I arrive in Minneapolis at about 1:00 PM on Monday, September 29th Minneapolis time. I will be staying with Matt and Johanna Jones. My temporary mailing address is 2605 18th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55406. I will be available by email or Skype immediately upon arrival. Phone service may take some time.

Many have asked how long I will be in the US. I don’t know exactly. I can say for sure that it will be a minimum of 2 months. However, one of my main reasons for returning is to do some support raising for the coming year, as we have experienced a substantial living cost increases here in Kenya. I plan to be around until I am fully supported for the coming year.

If you would like to support me or have me share at your Bible Study, Sunday School Class or other venue, please let me know. I would be very happy to share our vision for Kenya.

I hope to see many of you in the coming weeks. If you are inclined to pray, please pray for all the last minute details to be tied up and safety as I prepare to leave; while I am in the US, for the immigration status to get sorted out and for good visits with all there.

See many of you soon!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Because today is my birthday

Yesterday evening at 5:15 I got a call from the man who cares for the grounds and house at the compound where I live about 10 minutes away.

“Hello Jan? This is Wycliffe. Are you on the way, coming?”
“No, but I’m about to leave.”
“Please hurry. I have misplaced my keys and I can hear some water running inside the house. Please hurry back now.”

I packed up my computer and headed for home. When I arrived the front door was unlocked. I didn’t hear any water running. My first thought was relief. I had been praying for mercy on the way home. I thought, he found the key, he’s taken care of everything. Then I noticed balloons floating about and taped to the wall.

“Hello…hello?” I stepped a few more paces in –

“SURPRISE!” There were Tracy, Julia and Lindsey, friends that live at Brackenhurst. They had decorated, brought pizza, pop, brownies and videos. (Jessica joined us later.)

But before I could celebrate I had to talk to Wycliffe. I made my way over to his house and called “Hodi” (The equivalent of “knock, knock”) When Wycliffe poked his head out of his door he looked sheepish, without even a hint of a smirk. He said to me as he looked down, “I have never teased anyone before in my life. I’m sorry.”

“No, no,” I told him, half smiling. “It’s okay. I had a good surprise.”

“I hope you didn’t knock anyone on the way rushing.”

“No, no,” I assured. The poor man is really worried. “I’m just glad there is no shida (problem) with the water. I’m fine. It’s all fine.”

“I’m sorry.” Wycliffe repeated earnestly. He felt guilty for being a part of the ploy to get me home. It says something about his honesty. I still smirk thinking about it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Day in the Life:

It’s been an incredibly busy couple of weeks. Here is what just one of our days this week looked like:

Get up at 5:30 AM
Get to work an hour early at 7:00
Drive to Nairobi with Craig and Francis
8:00 Set up for a small one-day workshop & wait for participants to show up.
10:30 Run and make photo copies for them
11:15 Run the copies back
11:30 Back out and over to Mayfield Guest house to check on some books I left with them
11:45 Head to the Industrial Area to look for the printing company I used to use & drive around for a while before I decide I can’t find them
1:00 PM Stop in town to pick up something I left to be fixed at a tailor, it’s not right still!
1:30 Fight lunch traffic to Westlands to exchange money at the Forex Bureau
2:00 Get there, then grab lunch at Java House
3:00 Get back to workshop, get a call from Henry who fixed my car needing payment. (Good thing I went to the Forex). Make a couple more calls to figure out how to leave it with his sister-in-law
3:30 Dash to see Rose (the sister-in-law) and leave money with her. See her ministry and talk about tree seedlings. She wants a thousand if they are good for the dry area she has a small farm
4:30 Back to the workshop again
5:00 Pack up
5:30 Head back to Limuru.
6:30 Arrive at Brackenhurst (our offices) unload, check email and get going home
8:00 Arrive home and fix something for dinner, turn on the hot water heater
10:00 Tidy up, hit the shower10:45 Crawl into bed to get up again and do something completely different, but just as exhausting.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Immigration Appeal Denied

You may remember I was working on trying to get a Class E Missionary Work Permit for my work here. My appeal was denied. Now Care of Creation Kenya is looking into other ways we might be able to secure a missionary work permit so I can work without paying a fortune to do it. (The permit I was granted is 50 times more expensive than a Class E.) I would appreciate your prayers for this.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Asking Questions

Ignorance is okay as long as it compels you to learn.

The other day I was with a coworker when we passed a downed tree and I noticed the center of the trunk was dark. I could have said nothing and gone on thinking the tree was Ebony, the only tree I know of that is has a dark center. I asked anyway. It’s a Black Wattle, bad for the environment in Kenya (because they are from Australia) and good for firewood.

It’s always a good idea to ask questions. I learn so much about things when it’s explained to me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cooking with Gas

On Friday night I got home around 6:45 and began my evening scramble. I hoped to get a ton done because I was planning to go into town on Saturday and spend the night at a friend’s. I had a list of things to accomplish in town and wanted to get a jump on my chores for the weekend.

But there was no gas in my gas bottle for my stove. I dragged my spare out, hooked it up, still no gas. Finally I called Craig – what am I doing wrong??? I found that the gas bottle fitting was different and thus I couldn’t connect it to my stove even though it seemed like it was connected.

Now what? I have a toaster and an electric kettle for boiling water. Ah – ha, there was an old electric wok in the pantry. Ever try to make rice in a wok. All I wanted to do was that and heat up some left-over peanut stew. Cold cereal and a trip to town to remedy the problem.

The most ironic part, my friend’s gas bottle was out too. Thankfully she has a partial electric stove, so I was able to cook and even make pizzas at her place.

Friday, September 5, 2008

English in East Africa

I have been drafting letters to offer our church friends to use since we have been asking several folks to write on my behalf in the appeal for a missionary work permit. I have been trying to sound like a Kenyan when writing.

Brother Kanori came all the way from Ndeiya (half way down into the Rift Valley) this morning to take a look at the letter I had drafted and allow us to make any changes on the computer before printing it on his church’s letterhead and taking back for a signature and official church stamp. (We'll pick it up next week.)

I made some adjustments when I realized that the letter was going to be signed by two people. But I let it go when the first sentence was in singular and the second was in plural. After the first printing on letterhead Brother Kanori found it had an ‘agreement’ mistake in the sentence that started plural. This started a lively discussion between Brother Kanori and Francis over the correct English.

I just sat back and smiled, and made whatever changes they decided on. I don’t claim to have fabulous grammar. Nothing like my friend Abraham and his family, but I am a native speaker so I was fairly sure that ‘we’ cannot endorse ‘my’ opinion.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

African Watoto (children) are the Cutest in the World

In my humble opinion.

That is not to say that I don’t think the children I actually know and love aren’t cute. Knowing munchkins can make them more adorable than ones you just see. Orison Piper is one such example in the web world. Nathan and Aaron Sorley still come up with the funniest things to tell me.

But I think that African children are the most adorable in the world. If I could add to this photo the sing-songy “how are you, how are you” chorus of school age children it might endear you more. Every morning on the drive to work I see the brightly dressed miniature watoto along the road.

They start my day with a smile.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The physical world in Kenya seems to be more animate

This place it definitely more organic in nature. It’s common to see tiny little pick-up trucks overloaded with green Napier grass. The load is so wide and so high you might wonder how a big bush could be moving so swiftly down the road. With the vehicle and even its form hidden it appears the way parade floats seem to move without seeing what propels them.

But beyond the organic is a sense that inanimate things seem animate. I recently saw a wooden cabinet walking down the road. Behind the cupboard that seemed to be walking all on its own, was a woman carrying a dining chair. Of course, the cabinet was also being carried. But it was so much bigger than the woman under that all I could see was her legs. She walked with it strapped to her back and hunched over.

Probably the most ‘normal’ inanimate/animate object seen in Kenya is motor vehicles with arms. Especially matatus (public transportation in the form of a 14-seat van), the driver often has his arm out the window all the way to the shoulder. He will wave you by or flap downwards to signal that you should slow down or he is slowing down. Oddly enough sometimes the passenger’s side has an arm out too, creating the effect that the vehicle really has grown arms. More often though a head will be sticking out the other side where the sliding door has opened and the tout is calling for riders. Smaller vehicles do utilize the passenger for such signals. And there are some security guard vehicles that have printed on the back, “no hand signals” so you aren’t expecting what everyone comes to expect here.