We’re really enjoying being with the family, and they have such a
nice room and bathroom for us, but it is really hard for me whenever we go
out, to see the poverty and dirtiness everywhere. I am really trying to
understand some of the mixed up thoughts and emotions that this experience
is giving me.
Today, the church service was two and a half hours long, with both the
preacher and the interpreter yelling loudly the whole time. Pastor Steven
was out of town. It is a very friendly congregation, and everyone was so
nice to us. Afterwards, we went out to lunch at a Holiday Inn restaurant
Those of you who know me probably know that I have always been fascinated with maps. In high school I had my room nearly wallpapered with maps. Quite a few months back I was looking for better map resources for Nairobi. There is a company that sells Garmin maps of Kenya from South Africa, but they are really expensive, and I did not know what kind of quality they were.
However, in my search I came across OpenStreepMap. It is a really nice “open” map website. They have the whole world and you can modify the map however you want. So can everyone else. It is like a Wikipedia for maps. And, wonderfully, a lot of Nairobi has been mapped, some in very great detail. You can export the maps from the website and put them right into different brand GPS units and off you go, driving along, even with turn by turn directions. (I had ordered a unit to put in the car but it was also waterproof for use on my motorcycle. My brother-in-law, Bob, brought it out, then gave me this awesome one for in the car.) Even a bunch of points of interest have already been added, and we used that to go to the Karen Blixen museum with my parents.
I have been using the one on my motorcycle to map missing roads when I get a chance. Nothing too far out of the way yet. The other day, I thought I would map another part of the unpaved bypass road Nairobi desperately needs. Trucks heading from Mombasa all the way to DRC go right through the middle of down town Nairobi. I wrote a diary entry over at OpenStreetMap.
I also uploaded all the pictures we took while my parents were here. There should be more of those coming when my dad uploads his.
We also went to the “Safari Walk” at Nairobi National park some weeks back with the kids from Morning Star. It is kind of like a cross between the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, but just the animals and enclosures, not the rest of the stuff.
The other day I placed my barefoot into my shoe and felt a tickle…..out came a HUGE cockroach. Yes, I screamed!!! This is the second time my foot has graced the presence of a cockroach. I sure hope it will be the last, but I don’t think I’m being very realistic….UGH!
We only have a couple of days left here. Leaving will be difficult. I am very thankful we have had the opportunity to experience Kenya for a few weeks. I could stay longer, but don’t want to wear out my welcome. It has been great playing with the boys, (they are regularly in our bed by 6:40 AM), visiting with Cammy and seeing Paul in his element, both at the hanger, and in the community. We would love to see them come back to the States, but are confident that God knows what is good for them, and will let them know where they should be, and for how long.
The significance of the photo is in the shadow of the vertical pipe. The photo was taken at 12:21 PM (apparent noon) on Saturday, September 26. Paul and I calculated that to be the day the sun would be directly overhead at his home. We put the pipe in the ground in the vacant lot across from their house. I made a makeshift plumb bob to be sure the pipe was vertical and we watched the shadow on the westerly side shrink to nothing and then reappear on the easterly side. I’m sure all of you reading this are sorry you missed this exciting event! Paul and I are interested in, and amused by, many of the same things (we really are geeks).
A couple of weeks ago, Paul and two of his friends from AIM took a Thursday off and the three families drove north to the base of Mount Kenya. We saw the mountain on the way, but by the time we got to the National Park entrance it was in the clouds. It was a great trip anyway. We had spent a relaxing time at an airfield near Nanyuki (almost exactly on the Equator), and we had dinner at the “Trout Tree” restaurant.
On the Saturday before the wall fell, we visited the Karen Blixen (Out of Africa author – you know, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford…) Museum which is in her African home in a Nairobi suburb appropriately called Karen. The boys enjoyed running around the grounds, holding a green chameleon and playing on old farm equipment.
Paul is greatly appreciated at AIM IS. His system administration skills are extraordinary, and he has a genuine “Can do!” attitude. That last attribute is very important since his responsibilities extend well beyond IT. It has been great to see him interact with the people at the hanger, other missionaries in the area, and the Kenyan people. I have walked with him to the local marketplace, and it is amazing to see how many people greet him excitedly. He has great rapport with the guards of their “estate” (don’t let that word fool you; it simply mean a gated community with each yard having its own walls, with side walls shared by neighbors. A “compound,” on the other hand, is walled in, but the individual homes inside are not walled from each other). That rapport with the guards was very important two Sundays ago. We were all awakened about 6 AM by someone knocking at the front gate of Paul & Cammy’s home. I then heard Cammy say, “Our wall is gone!” I looked out a back window and saw that the back wall to their yard was missing – for a couple of minutes I actually thought somebody(s) had taken the blocks since I could not see them. The wall had fallen outward, and because of a slight down slope, the blocks were not visible from my original vantage point. The person knocking at the gate was one of the guards. He was there to let Paul know what had happened. The wall fell between one and two AM (no one in the house heard anything) and the guards had been keeping watch so that nothing would “disappear” from the yard. Paul told me that some of the guards of other estates could have easily been the responsible parties for the “disappearance” of some items. For most people in the U.S. it is hard to understand the importance of having that back wall. Twenty feet behind it is one of the main roads that lead from Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, and the foot traffic is tremendous. Many people here have a different view of what is “fair game” (hence all the walls). Paul had a friend come over to keep watch while he and I went to a church in Mathare (another slum). That was a commitment he felt he had to keep, and it was a blessing. By the time we returned, the guards had moved the block into Paul’s yard and a temporary mabati (corrugated metal) wall was in place. The permanent wall was started Wednesday (Oct. 7). It will be paid for by Paul and Cammy’s landlord. That is good news!
Each Sunday we have attended a different church in the greater Nairobi area. They all were small and humble by our standards (two of them were in slum areas and had earthen floors), but it is a true joy to experience the worship. The last three Sundays Paul preached. You should see him in a coat and tie; he told me that if you are not dressed up, the people here will not take you seriously when you speak in a church service. They are very excited about visitors. Not just us, but also Kenyan visitors. They ask each visitor to get up and share. We were always given a special place in the front – a real luxury to sit on a chair, when most of the people are on benches. I should mention that the services generally run about three hours. Paul has become a Kenyan preacher: he speaks at least 45 minutes – actually that is a little too short, but I was told that he qualifies. It has been a special blessing hearing him share his understanding of the goodness of God (what God knows to be good often will not look that good to us – just look at what small children consider good, and you will get a little better perspective on that). He also has shared that we have been saved to serve.
While Paul and Cammy have a television, they do not have any reception. However Paul has quite a few TV series and movies on his computer. In the evening we watch a few “Myth Busters” or “Deadliest Catch” from seasons one, two and two. We also have watched a few movies when Cammy and Sherry wanted to watch something.
We arrived here just in time for me to attend the last two meeting of the computer class Paul is teaching. Of course that meant I was “given the opportunity” to take the final on the next to the last meeting. The three Kenyans (all of the students that made it that far) were happy to see they scored higher than I did (I passed). Paul will be starting another class, covering new material, in January.