“There is no power.” I went to the butcher near Kenyatta Market to pick up some mince meat (“ground beef”) for hamburgers today. They had none because the power has been out since this morning, and they could not run the electric grinder. I texted Charles to see if he knew what was going on since he always seems to know what is going on. He told me there was a fire that gutted a slum where our power comes through. So we have no ETA.
I imagine it would be quite dangerous to attempt to enter the area until things have sorted themselves out. I cannot quite explain it, nor do I fully understand exactly how it works. When something is damaged there is a concept that it is unwanted and up for grabs. If there is a bad storm here people have to hire someone to stand guard over their home in the slums until it is repaired.
There is an iron fence that runs down the middle of Mbagathi road near here. The reason for the fence is to get pedestrians to use an overpass. They put it up and painted it white. It looked great for a couple of days. It is on a steep section with a curve, so inevitably it gets hit by cars. Once a section got hit it was dismantled one bar at a time. Some of it is still there in undamaged sections.
So power could take a while.
Saturday I had the pleasure of going on a flight with my friend and pilot, Alan M. You may remember him from a motorcycle ride I did in California. He was taking two Americans to Mfangano Island to visit a Pastor they had been working with who had set up a youth camp on the island. We flew in 5Y-SIL, one of the AIM AIR Cessna 206s. I got down to the hangar to help Alan prep the plane and tried to stay out of the way of his pre-flight check list.
On take-off there is an interesting slum situated just at the end of the runway. It is called Matumbo (stomach) slum. I have a mechanic who works for me that lives there. Just beyond that is Nairobi National Park. I have been told it is the largest park within a city limits (28,963 acres). It is fenced on 3 sides and open on the other. There are quite a lot of animals in there, including lions. Ironically, even through we flew across almost 200 miles of Kenya, the best view of wildlife is within the first 2 minutes of the flight.
We flew over the Rift Valley. It really is spectacular, especially from the air. I have ridden my motorcycle in parts of it quite a bit, but you do not get the immensity of it from the ground. This is the same geologic formation that makes the Jordan River valley through Israel.
We arrived over Lake Victoria to see Mfangano Island. It is a really huge rock jutting up not far from the coast of the lake.
The airstrip is really not too bad, but it has some nice bumps in it that really bounce you. Most pilots like to take pride in their landings and “bouncing it” is considered bad form. But on this runway, it is impossible not to bounce it. We unloaded the guys luggage then took a short walk from the airstrip to a dock where we boarded a long boat. These are really common all around the lake. As in many other places in the world, water makes transport easier so the lake shore has become a mixing pot of different cultures that surround it.
The boat ride was not too long, and it was nice to get a taste of how slow life is outside of Nariobi and the “matatu haraka haraka” lifestyle.
When we arrived we were greeted by a bunch of the people and Pastor Joseph’s family. He is the one who started the camp. They served us a nice lunch, and I think they were really trying hard to please the visitors. We had rice, spaghetti, beef and potato stew and sukuma wiki. (Sukuma wiki is kale. Almost everyone grows sukuma in their own garden. It literally means, “push the week.” When you do not have enough money to buy food, you push on until the next pay day by eating it.) The normal diet around the lake is fish and ugali. I was really surprised, and a little disappointed we were not served any. But we were not even invited, we just tagged along. The stew was actually really good, and the beef was nicer than my first try on our BBQ.
After lunch, Alan and I got a piki piki (motorcycle) ride back to the airstrip. I talked quite a bit with the driver. He has to pull in about 1500 shillings a day to make a decent living. Fuel on the island costs 140 shillings per liter (about $6.65/gallon) so he can spend up to 500 on fuel. He pays 500 per day to rent the motorcycle. So on a good day he comes home with 500 ($6.25).
At the airstrip, it turned out that my driver was also the one who needed to record the aircraft landing. He had an official form that Alan filled out.
We took off and headed back to Nairobi after a flyover of the camp to say good bye. Alan and I had some good conversations which I missed out on because we only had 3 headsets. On the way out I just wore ear protection since I was just a tag-along.
One thing that facinated me was the way the land was divided up. You could clearly make out the “property boundaries” from the air. Years of dividing up among sons had left its mark. It was also interesting how it followed the topology in places.
We headed back into Wilson Airport in Nairobi. All the sites there were familiar, especially the traffic backed up on Langata road from the Bomas of Kenya turn all the way past Uhuru Garden, a distance of over 4 kilometers. Once traffic gets bad, it spirals out of control as first matatus, then buses, then private cars all start using alternate means of getting to where they want to go. They will use the side of the road, and then the wrong side of the road, which then blocks traffic travelling the other way. This eventually causes the intersection to get completely blocked as the cars in it have no where to go because all roads are full leading into the intersection with no room for anyone to exit in any direction. It can be fun… but only if you are on a motorcycle.
One of the things this trip made me think about was this:
3 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit,as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; Colossians 1:3-6
God is at work, all over the place. We spent time in seven States over our home assignment. It was very eye opening to see how God is at work in each and every life, all over the world. There is work going on next door, there is work going on on the other side of the world. God is amazing, and He is doing it all for us! I am so proud to have a Father like that, and One who wants me to be a part of what He is doing.
Yesterday we finally got the BBQ we ordered last February. The shipping container it was on kept getting delayed.
It took me three hours to assemble. Hopefully we can have enough nyama choma ( burned animal) to make it worth it. We need to find a good marinade to tenderize this tough Kenyan beef.
I should have got the carne asada recipe from my Guatemalan friend Stuardo in California when I had the chance. His is the best!
We had a lot of great family time while we were in California. Now that we are away it is easier to reflect on it.
A lot of great things happened and the boys got to spend a lot of time with their cousins. They also had a great time at their Uncle Terry and Aunt Julie’s house. Julie is my oldest sister. I was about Andrej’s age when Terry first met Julie. I used to think he came just to visit me. Even though that was far from the truth, Terry is the kind of guy who makes you feel that way, like he came just to see you. I have often said, “If someone does not get along with Terry, it is their fault.” I was about Petr’s age when they married. For those of you trying to do the math, they married young, really young. In fact as Terry is fond of saying, he and I are now the same age… approaching middle age, but not there yet. He is a great brother-in-law and I have often looked up to him.
Terry and Julie’s kids are all just about adults now. Mark, their youngest is just finishing High School. So their once very busy house has slowed down a bit. I think they enjoyed having the boys over too.
The sewer is something I usually take for granted. I will not for a while. Our toilet upstairs has had a blocked drain since we got back. The plumbing here is not what I am accustomed to. So when the drain pipe filled up it just started leaking in the wall. Then it ran out in the window sill of the bathroom downstairs. It also ran out on the floor upstairs.
Today we finally got it sorted out. We had the plumber back and he eventually cleared the drain. Since flying toilets do not have drains, there is not a lot of experience with this sort of thing.
First he had to chisle out the morter to expose the pipe. Next he drilled a bunch of holes in the pipe to gain access to the plug. Then he actually used a hose that he packed with sticks to make it stiff and punched at the blockage.
All the drains run into a box behind the house. Then the sewer leaves from there. It is a lot like a storm drain setup, but with chunkies (pictured).
There are a lot of motorcycles in Kenya. Most of them are cheap Chinese bikes with names you have never heard of, or even no names at all. Walking to lunch today to another place here at Wilson Airport, I noticed this really nice 200cc “West Coast Choppers” bike… I am not sure what WCC would think.
Our first few weeks back in Kenya can be summed up with one word: ADJUSTMENTS
Paul and I discussed the importance of managing our expectations before returning to Kenya. We both agreed that we need to be prepared for our house to have some problems….the most likely problems we thought of came true – toilets that didn’t work and no water. Paul already posted about the toilets not working and having to flush out the hot water tank so we could have hot water. Now we have discovered that our water pump (pumps water to the tank in the house) broke. Therefore, we didn’t have any water in our house yesterday. We called a plumber but he couldn’t come until this morning. He is currently working on the problem. Thankfully, we do have city water, which came on last night, (remember this is turned off Tues through Thurs) so we have water coming out of the facet in the kitchen – our only source of water directly flowing into the house. We have been flushing toilets with buckets of water and taking sponge baths. I sure feel like I am camping!!
All in all, it is good to be back. Many people have wondered if we were ever coming back (6 months was a long time). I had a Kenyan friend upon seeing me for the first time exclaim, “Cammy! You have put on weight!” I nodded my head in agreement as she continued, “I mean you have really put on weight!” I tried my best to remember her comment was a compliment. 🙂 I am adjusting to these comments and also to people staring at me again. In America we blend into the crowd, for the most part. But now back in Africa, I realize how much I am stared at, reminded that I “stick out”.
Being constantly stared at is not a comfortable thing for me but it is a good reminder that I am being “watched”. My greatest ministry here in Africa is probably lifestyle evangelism – showing Christ’s love in the way that I live. I regret that I don’t always act the way I should….I am so thankful for God’s grace.
We have spent time seeing our missionary friends, getting the boys back to school and visiting with our neighbors. Our first time back in church was another adjustment….the boys need to get used to sitting in the service for two hours again! It was pretty hard for them. But it didn’t help that it was very hot inside. At one point I realized I had sweat dripping down my legs. YUCK! I ignored the discomfort as worship was wonderful and Pastor Stephen was passionate about sharing God’s word, as he always is. Thankfully, he didn’t ask me to sing a solo! Yes, this did happen in the past. Apparently he heard that I used to sing and thought it would be great for me to sing for the Kenyans. When you come onto the mission field you are prepped to be prepared to give a word (usually sharing scripture)…little did I know that I should be ready to sing too! When I have told this story to other people they are shocked and ask, “Did you do it?” Well, what do you think? Of course I did!!! 🙂
We have all finally adjusted to the time change. It hit us hard for some reason. The boys started school on Tuesday of this week and are loving it! I have been spending most of my time unpacking the house and doing the daily chores of cleaning the house, washing, food prep and all. We do have Rose, our house help who is really like a sister to me, helping us with laundry and cleaning. She comes on Mondays and Fridays. This still leaves plenty of work for me to do! Washing the dishes seems like an endless job. The other night I dreamed we had a dishwasher. 🙂 Also, our house gets very dusty. I will wipe the dining table to find it dusty an hour later! Yesterday I was noticing the dust on the inside walls. I don’t remember cleaning the walls of my house in America, unless it was to wipe off an occasional dirty hand print from the boys.
Another adjustment has been getting used to the power going off. We have lost power many nights because of the rain. Each time it rains we just know the power will go off eventually. Sometimes it is an adventure, at least for the boys. They get to use their flashlights so that is fun for them. The biggest adjustment for me is not knowing when it will turn back on. I try to keep our refrigerator closed to keep things cold and have a meal I can cook on the stove. Our oven is electric so I am always hoping we won’t lose power when I’m baking. But we can’t complain because we are reminded that many people don’t have electricity at all….and that we can survive without it!
Well, I’m sure we are not done with all the adjustments of being back. There are times when I feel I have a foot in America and a foot in Africa. The difficulty is making sure that both feet stay together in the place God has me called me to be.
Jua kali literally means “hot sun” in Swahili. It means something or someone who works out in the open. Like a mechanic without a garage, or a welder without a shop.
You can buy many things in Nairobi now, but the factory stuff is always really expensive so a lot of people use jua kali stuff. Here is a cool looking jua kali hacksaw the plumber just brought. (The need for a plumber requires another post.)
Over Thanksgiving we went to spend time with Cammy’s relatives in Henderson, NV. A friend of the family works at Circus Circus and they were kind enough to get us tickets to the Adventure Dome. We had a wonderful time and the boys got to ride on a lot of the rides. This is a video of them on a little roller coaster. Their Nonnie was nice enough to buy the video, she said it was OK because she did not have to pay for admission.
It was a fun and interesting experience that brought back the memory of our trip to Disneyland with the boys other grandparents in December of 2009. At Disneyland, Petr was afraid of going on every single ride…every one. Each time we got in line he would exclaim, “I do not want to do this, dad!” It was a tough time for me, as a father, but I made him go on each one, sometimes even carrying him so he did not have a choice. At the end of almost each one, he would then say, “Let’s do it again!’
At the end of a long day there at Disneyland we decided time was almost up and we would go on one more ride. As we headed to get in line Petr once again said, “I do not want to go on it, dad.” I stopped walking and pulled him aside. “Petr,” I said, “How many rides did you want to go on today.” “None,” he replied, honestly. So I asked, “And how many did you like after you went on it?” And honestly again, to his credit he said, “All of them.”
He did the exact same thing at the Adventure Dome.
I wanted to be frustrated with him. He could see what was happening. He knew the answers to the questions, yet he continued to fight what would in the end be a good time. But then I realized that, once again, I was looking into a mirror. Petr was behaving just as I do with God all the time. God tells me, “Hey, we are going to do this new thing, it is going to be great.” I refuse, drag my feet, complain. And once it is all over I often say, “That was great, let’s do it again!”
Some things in life are scary. Many things are hard. Sometimes, a loving father forces you to do things you do not want to do, and sometimes those things are really great.
One other thing I forgot about the first rain after a long dry period – Drainage! All the poorly engineered ditches and storm drains are choked with dirt and trash. In the two and a half years we have been here, it had never been as bad as it was on my ride home.
Thanks to my brother I stayed dry in my new helmet and rain suit. The boots from my parents also kept my feet dry.