Saturday, July 31, 2010

Very Thankful for a Hot Shower

Yesterday was an odd day.

I had decided to take a comp day since many of the DU staff members are on retreat in Mombasa, including the head of my department. I had wanted to catch up on a few things at home like writing, sewing and other settling in things.

So to start my day of rest and catch-up I had the most inexpensive massage ever. The gal came to my house, but by the time she got there the electricity was out. It’s not that unusual. But I’d already gone an extra couple days without washing my hair. Now I was cold! But there was no hot water.

It’s kind of odd to have planned a relaxing day at home and still be so dependent on electricity that you can’t quite figure out what to do. I finally boiled water to put in the hot water bottle to keep warm. All the while I kept thinking that the electricity would come on any time. I was ready with a towel in the only bathroom with a working shower heater.

I read, beaded a bit. I thought about washing dishes, I hand washed some fabric. I dared to use the battery on my computer a bit, just to check email and Facebook.

When the electricity flickered on and off a couple times just before 6:00 PM I started to hope. At about 6:15 it came on and I took a very hot shower! I don’t remember the last time I was so thankful for a hot shower. It was a good thing I didn’t dilly dally. Within 45 minutes the electricity was going off and on again. I left for the evening. But not without my headlamp, just in case it was still out when I got back.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Treasure in an Ancient Mimeographed Sheet

Okay, I pulled out the sewing machine I bought off a missionary leaving over a month ago. I wanted to get some curtains finished that I had cut out for the guest room. I looked over the instruction manual trying to decide of it was an older machine than the one I’d been borrowing previously.

Amidst the manual was an ancient typed sheet of paper. I mean the kind typed on a real type-writer and then mimeographed. (Not copied.) Ok, it wasn’t like on papyrus, it was probably created in my lifetime. (Hmm, maybe I’m ancient.) The heading of the page read “MONOGRAMMING – Free Hand Stitching”.

Let me back up and say that there is a Christian ladies self-help group here in Nairobi that we often take visitors to. They do a lot of fabric crafts of all kinds and they are always looking for ways to use scraps and so on. Anyway, they have a huge, donated quilting machine. This allows the maker to freehand quilt their lovely African designs in a fast and efficient way. I have often wondered if there was a way to do that small scale, on a regular sewing machine without breaking the needle.

This little typed sheet was my answer! I set to work immediately on a scrap of canvas that I had. Oh my! I’m hooked. Drawing pictures that don’t need to be perfect is addictive. Why? Because I can come up with something nice the first time. (Usually I’m a detail person, translated to crafting sometimes means I don’t have the patience to get good at something that takes practice, like cross stitch or knitting.) The immediate gratification that this brings is fabulous! There is still much to explore! I could use an embroidery hoop, like a 10 inch one. But otherwise, the sky’s the limit! I can give you more details after I try it some more. Here’s the first attempt.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Scholarship Students, What I Do, Part 3

The other big portion of my job is following up with our scholarship students that are supported by donors in the US. This has been an unexpected treat for me. It gives me the opportunity to meet, get to know and be involved with individuals that are going to be a part of the future of this great continent. It’s truly a privilege for me. But you might guess that, since you likely know I’m a people person.

Currently we have two main kinds of sponsored students; those the Daystar US office has raised funds for and those that are privately sponsored. The first category has almost 50 students in it. The second has about another 20-30. Over the year I’ve been here I’ve gotten to know that first group fairly well. The privately sponsored ones have recently been added to my docket so I will be getting to know them better as the months roll on.

I’m often impressed with the simple circumstances these folks have come from. The other day I finally asked one of your graduates from this June what tribe he is from. I knew the town in northern Kenya but I hadn’t asked him what tribe. (It’s a little bit of a politically incorrect question here.) When he told me the tribe, I realized that I had never heard of them! That seemed odd to me since I’ve been here so long.

But what stands out more than my ignorance over this tribe, is that this young man is chomping at the bit to go back to this northern ‘frontier’ area and help his people. He has all the knowledge; he just needs the resources to do some projects. And God willing, something will happen for him to get involved in a government or NGO project there.

This young man is just one of many DU students that will one day change the landscape of this continent. One day I’ll be able to say, I knew him when he was just a recent graduate. But I also expect to praise God with the heavenly host for the eternal difference these kids will make.This is our student from Marsabit, above are a few students with our Vice Chancellor and the Daystar US Director.

I've written two other articles about what I do. If you want to catch up, here's Part 1 and Part 2

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fifth Anniversary

I just wrote about my mom recently, so I won't go on and on. But tomorrow, July 19th is the 5th anniversary of her death. I still miss her very often! If she were here I'd tell her everyday that I love her.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Where We Take Visitors, What I Do, Part 2

Our favorite thing to show visitors is what our DU grads are doing. Daystar’s mission is to turn-out servant leaders that will transform both church and society in Africa.

DU has long been a leader in the communications field in this country. It’s not uncommon to find DU alumni at the local television, radio and newspapers. They work both behind the scenes and in front of the camera, mic or on the front page.

But we have a large turnout of community development folks, as well. One place that is especially encouraging is the Exodus Children’s Center in Machakos. It was started by a student while he was still in school.

Elijah helps rescue abandoned children from his community. But he also helps handicapped ladies start small scale businesses and he does so much more - all on a shoestring. He may not be president of Kenya one day, but he will change the world of some children - for eternity.

Elijah is in the back, right with the rust colored shirt on.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What I Do, Part 1

I realized the other day after talking with a friend from home that I say very little here about my work. It’s some of the most fulfilling work I’ve done, though.

I work in an office, but it’s far from routine, especially this time of year. While all those of you in North America are slowing down and starting to go on vacation and such, our little department is gearing up.

I’m attached to the Daystar University (DU) department called Resource Mobilization, the fancy term for fund-raising. It includes welcoming visitors to the university who may be donors, or visiting faculty or staff, etc. Since DU has graduation around the second or third Saturday of June every year, we usually expect visitors at that time.

It’s not our only time of year to get visitors, but it’s the biggest concentration of them. And they include the Daystar US director and usually at least one board member, among others. There are always a number of items that need to be readied for these visitors. Not only getting any repairs done for our guest houses, but usually schedules to set for where our guests will visit and arranging all the transportation for it.

All these things are ‘duties’ I enjoy. I have to admit that there are some frustrations because getting things done is sometimes different or challenging in a culture other than your own. That’s because my expectations are so ingrained that even though I know it will take longer, it can be frustrating to have everything pile up at the last minute.

Still, we love visitors. So hosting them is a pleasure. Getting ready for them is all part of the process.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Nairobi Weather - Setting You Straight

Let me set you straight about Nairobi weather. You would think that since the equator runs through Kenya the whole country would be hotter than heck. But it's not.

You see, we have some altitude in certain places here that really helps. Nairobi it one of those places. We are at almost 6,000 feet here. Of course, in the mountains it's much colder, especially at night. But this is cold enough for Kenyans in Nairobi. And since Nairobi is south of the equator, it's 'winter' here right now. But it's never colder than sweater weather, though your typical Nairobian would not agree with me on this. The night guards usually don a huge poly-fill parka.

The other really great thing about the weather is that it's fairly dry even in the hot season. We just don't have humidity here in Nairobi, especially since rain usually cools it down - when it comes. I won’t mention what the El Nino rains have done in terms of damage. (I’ll save that for another blog entry.)

Here’s a summary of our seasons:
December and January: warm
February: hot
Mid March–mid June: Longs Rains
July and August: cold
Late September –early November: Short Rains

For more accurate information, check out Wikipedia.

At least that is what they are supposed to be. There are many things that make life challenging here, the weather isn’t usually one of them.