June 9, 2019

We are finally here.

It was a trip of waiting in airports. 5 hours here, 3 hours there, and then the standing and waiting for your zone to be called. Plus, I live with a man who pays for economy seats but wants to board the plane with First Class. I have to hold him back.

Our plane arriving from Amsterdam was late, and our luggage, which they consider to be “odd sized” was the last to be unloaded. And I mean the last. But our driver was faithful, and showed up early, eventually waiting 3 hours for us. Thank you Washington, you are appreciated.

We finally reached the motel at 12:30 a.m. With a 7:00 a.m. departure from Nairobi to Kitale, we had to leave the hotel at 5:30 a.m. And if any of you know Coney well, that means between 4:45 and 5:00. At my age, my eyes have almost disappeared from my face, but after that small amount of sleep, they were just slits.

Kitale looked wonderful. It’s still tinged with a lot of brown dust since the rainy season has barely started, but it’s still greener than where we came from and the temperatures run around 70. We haven’t seen much of the sun, and the last two nights have been rain, thunder and lightening.

So today, being excited to see everyone…it was raining. By the time we reached the boy’s home, our faithful people were standing in a procession outside in the rain, waving, singing and dancing. I realized at that moment, that I would have been one of those people staying inside like those below. Dry.

We had the worship team, the young boy’s dancing team, and the church choir perform. Then women always dance/march in and hand out the sparkly leis as a welcome gift.

Isabel is in the middle, she’s the house mother for our 16 boys, has two of her own and is due to have a baby next month. She works harder than most of the men. She has asked questions about how I work when I’m home in Arizona. I’ve mentioned the washer and dryer, the oven (which people in the villages don’t have) and the dishwasher. Her response was “you people are so lazy”. Compared to her, I know I am.

We gave her a washing machine like the one I use which has a side you fill with water and it agitates and a side that wrings out the water. The rinsing is left up to you. Then she hangs the clothes on a clothesline (actually 4 clotheslines) for her family and the 4 youngest orphan boys. Since it rains between April and November, the clothes sometimes stay outside on the line for a day or two. Because of all the mud she has to mop all of her floors every day. She gets up at 4 in the morning to make tea for the boys to have before school. We have a cook that helps her during the week with lunches and dinners, but she still does a lot of it herself.

I sweat at home when I vacuum and complain about that. My life is pretty good.

This being the first time in 9 months of seeing everyone, there were several times during the service we either were up front for dancing, speaking to the church or just saying hello to someone.

This is Edward, the house father. Whenever he calls me on the phone, he always identifies himself as “your son”. We met him when we first moved to Kitale. He worked as a guard on the compound. Five years ago, he and his wife took over the responsibility of the boy’s home. They are truly a blessing.

As usual, when we arrive after being gone for a number of months, we had a church dinner for everyone. That included all of our baby churches, which numbered around 9, and the village kids. They show up whenever they hear the muzungus are back. They know there’s food involved.

Before service, our ladies and our boys help with all the cooking. Alphonse, one of the boys came into church late and I asked him where he had been. I usually give him a hard time because he’s elusive and only shows up for a few minutes and then leaves. I asked him if he was hiding again. He responded, “No, I was slaughtering all the chickens for dinner”.

I didn’t have a comeback. Nor did I have chicken.

These pictures show how the cooking is usually done.

It was definitely an enjoyable time. I enjoy the fellowship we have. I enjoy the children and giving them lollipops. And I love their boiled cabbage and chapatis. I love just being with them.

From Kipsaina,

Mama Lani

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February 13, 2019

Last month was another opportunity to bless our widows in Kipsaina. Some months we are able to give them food from the hot house or the farm, this time they all received potatoes along with the rice we usually pass out.

Their diet probably consists of ugali (a paste made from ground maize) and tea. If they have sugar available, it makes their day even better. Tea is grown all over the area, so they have access to it, but sugar…that’s harder to get. Money is involved and most never have any.

When a widow gets up in the morning, the first thing she does is make a fire to boil water for tea. Most of the time, they have no wood to burn so you will see them out early, looking for twigs and small branches to use. They might find more than they need, and trade part of the wood for something they don’t have. The smallest items are hard for them to get. Salt, matches, soap. Things we usually take for granted and have plenty of.

If they have a garden, they might have a few vegetables if in season, but most of our widows grow maize in whatever area they have and it is planted in April and harvested in October. So, there usually isn’t anything else planted. The maize seed is usually kept from the previous year, and since there usually is no money available, that’s all that is grown.

So coming to the widow’s meeting and receiving rice and possibly vegetables is worth a 5 mile walk for them. Some walk farther, and sometimes, in the rain. It’s amazing.

When we can provide sugar, this makes it even more of a blessing. There are a few widows that hit me up for sugar every time I see them. It brings some kind of happiness. (Because of my love of donuts, I can identify with that, so of course, I’m an easy mark).

We always have a good turnout for these meetings. Some arrive around 10:00 a.m. but at 3:00 p.m., long after the meeting is over, they are still coming. When we have teams that visit, we have given out soap and shower caps to all of them. They love shower caps. It protects their hair from the drenching rains. They don’t mind their clothes getting wet, but their hair is completely different.

So this last meeting, they went to their homes feeling blessed.

Above, just a few of our mamas. Kenya has outlawed plastic bags because of the unbelievable littering. So we’ve asked our widows to bring some kind of container. Most use their pocketbooks. Or possibly the bag that the rice came in.

You might not see it but these ladies are happy. And feel blessed.

Missing all of them,

Mama Lani

September 15, 2018

What a wild time we had this week! We traveled to Amudat, Uganda for a pastor’s conference. The village was so excited when we arrived. They appreciate and love hearing the Word of God and frequently jump and sing in celebration.

We were given a “hut” to stay in, with all the accommodations possible. Most of the people there slept on the ground at night with just a blanket over them and it was cold and damp. Their desire to be there was stronger than that of comfort. We were blessed with shelter, cots and mosquito nets.

The first afternoon, there were 3 pastors preaching, then lunch, then more preaching, then tea, more time for rest and then the preaching started again. After a late dinner, we had one more service. It was a long day, the first of several, but the crowd was growing.

The villagers there were previously involved in witchcraft. They live at the bottom of Mt. Garam which is known for harboring witches and warlocks. The people have just recently heard the Gospel and the numbers are increasing. In the beginning of the conference, mostly women were attending because of their husbands needing to watch their cattle, sheep and goats. Cattle rustling is a huge problem and the herds can’t be left unattended. But the number of men increased continually which probably meant their children were left behind to guard the animals.

These people are sweet, gentle and generous. Until recently, there was constant war in the area until a Pokot pastor from Kenya traveled there to visit. One of the elders told us that we were sitting on what was once a battlefield where death was frequent. It was amazing to think of what had happened at that site and what was now happening.

The next days were a repeat of the first one. Lots of preaching and lots of eating. Each morning we were greeted with either milk tea or black tea and mandazis. Lunch was usually beans and rice. Dinner was ugali, cabbage and frequently, goat liver or roasted goat. I did pass on the goat although Coney enjoyed it.

Music is such a huge part of the services and since we were camped on loose, silty dirt, the jumping and dancing caused a constant dust cloud. Every item I took is covered with dust. When we arrived home and I washed my hair, it looked like a muddy stream going down the drain.

Living in somewhat primitive conditions makes people creative. With no speaker stands, they used what they could. A generator kept things hopping.

The cooks for almost 500 people rose early each day to start the cooking fires and breakfast. They also cleaned the floor of our huts, washed our clothes (I thought someone had stolen mine) and took great care of us. I handed out earrings to all of them, thanks to Lori Bon and Hana Caric. You would have thought they won the lottery! They were thrilled and appreciative. Here are just a few of them.

As it came time to leave, they brought out the gifts. We had provided all the food for the conference, feeding all those 500 villagers for 4 days. They were happy, grateful and wanted to express it.

This was one of the gifts.

I generously gave my chicken to the boy’s home. Hard to do, but I sacrificed!

Then they brought out the gourds full of yogurt.

Beautiful gifts of appreciation. The yogurt isn’t made by Dannon and it looks like very lumpy buttermilk. They grind up the bark of a tree in the processing of it. Again, I passed.

It was especially hard to leave everyone. They gathered around the vehicles when they saw us packing. Although we could communicate with hardly any of them, you don’t need language to connect. They knew why we had come and they were thankful.

We will return next year.

Kwaheri from Uganda,

Mama Lani

September 5, 2018 Part Two of the Chicken Pollo Reunion Tour

I left off after the clothes distribution for the village kids. Needless to say, everyone was happy to see the kids get new clothes and a full stomach. You connect with these children. It’s hard to see their poverty and not want to help. And it’s wonderful when teams come over and get involved.

So the next day was with the widows. We were able to give them sugar, rice, soap and shower caps (their favorite)…and lollipops.

The mamas are always so appreciative to receive whatever we give them. Some travel by foot over 8 miles. They are still arriving after we have left for the day but Isabel, the house mother makes sure they get their share.

The following Saturday, we had our second wedding. I mentioned in an April blog about the engagement of Otieno and Mary. Their day finally arrived. I have all the information about the second half of their engagement ritual and will write another blog later, explaining it. I have very few pictures of Otieno and Mary. We arrived later than normal and were pretty much stuck in the foyer. My ipad never made it to the front.

Isabel and Edward were Best Man and Matron of Honor.

In preparation of this wedding, some of us had Kenyan dresses. The fundi (tailor) on the corner altered the dresses for us.

The following day, Sunday, we had a baptism. Five of our guests joined in.

Margaret was brave. Again, my ipad didn’t catch everyone.

The previous Friday we had a smokie party for the boys. We also had cake for the 3 year old of one of our church members. The “cutta, cutta, cutta song was sung.

The following Tuesday, we traveled to Endebus, an hour away for a medical mission. Unfortunately, it had been raining every day and the mud was unbelievable. Coney did a masterful job of keeping us going when most other vehicles were stuck or in ditches. The team rode in the back, with the top down and evidently had a great time.

Although there were only a few people when we arrived in Endebus, it quickly filled up with people needing treatment. We soak feet in a solution that kills the jiggers but sometimes the jiggers need to be cut out. It’s quite gross.

We handed out deworming pills and treated children for ringworm. Another situation of attachment to the children here.

The last day was another busy one. A quick visit to town for supplies and off to Kipsaina for the graduation ceremony of the sewing class.

The class is for a year, taught by Rose, our tailor. We provide a sewing machine they use for the class and get to keep after graduation. We also make sure they have all the tools and supplies they need. Once they’ve graduated, we also give them supplies to start their tailoring business.

The ceremony is very serious here. These women have a trade that can feed their families, provide an income and give them dignity.

After the ceremony, we gave out food supplies to 10 mamas in the neighborhood. I’ve gotten to know the village kids well enough to know who is in need. This is always a privilege and an honor to do.

The next morning, the team flew to Nairobi and onto their cities. It was a wonderful two weeks of laughing, giggling and carrying on. I already miss them.

But feeling happy in rainy and 65 degree weather…⛈

Mama Lani

September 5, 2018 Part One of the Chicken Pollo Reunion Tour.

Our team from America left a week ago. I was writing down everything that we did while they were here and I’m amazed of all that was accomplished in just 2 weeks.

First of all, this trip was called the Chicken Pollo Reunion Tour by Tisa, Jeni, Shannan and the newbie, Bianca. It all had to do with a CD that was being made two years ago, using Swahili words that sounded like chicken pollo. It stuck and they’ve been carrying on since then about this reunion.

They arrived on a Friday morning. After feeding them breakfast, the first thing they wanted to do was go to the boy’s home and see how much the boys had changed. Three members of the team had been here two years ago. Another couple had been here 4 years ago. The relationships established here, from the teams that visit, are permanent. The boys never forget anyone and most keep in touch through Facebook and Messenger. Only the oldest have phones and they know how to use them.

Greetings were made, presents given out and new relationships with the two new visitors were established. Lollipops are always a given.

Saturday was the first wedding. One of our boys, Edwin, married Leah, a young woman from a village near Nairobi. It was quite a production, lots of dancing, with both bride and groom dancing in with their entourages. The cake even comes in with its own dancers.

This not some slapped together routine. The dancers practiced, members of the parties were ready to show their skills and the guests were excited.

In fact, it was so crowded and congested with guests dancing that I had to send my ipad to the front to get pictures. A church dinner followed.

Monday, in getting ready to distribute clothes to the village kids the next day, we went to the Kitale Market to increase our inventory. We were expecting over 50 kids. Although the team had brought lots of clothes and shoes, even more were needed. The market is chaos. But…you can buy just about anything.

Tuesday, we were ready for the kids. Now these clothes were just for the village, not our boys. Our boys probably have more than most of the kids in the area. They have shelter that includes electricity, tea every morning and two meals a day. School fees paid. And they get meat every Sunday. It’s not as much an American child would have, but so much more than the villager’s children. So…

We lined everyone up (here it’s called being queued). And handed out almost all the clothes we had. It was wonderful. As they entered the house, they were checked for jiggers and ringworm. They were given an outfit and shoes and they all were fed a lunch of beans and rice.

Since this is a new website, or whatever it’s called, for Missions for Orphans, I will stop here and see how much it can handle. Stay tune for part 2 of the Chicken Pollo Reunion Tour.

August 21, 2018

We recently traveled north to Pokot country for a women’s conference, I mentioned it in a previous post and I wanted to explain all that happened.

The road is better than it used to be, but traveling in the back of the truck, with a canvas top, not being able to see the bumps and ruts, was an experience. My bruises are still healing. We stayed in Turkwel, a village with a lake and dam whose turbines create and provide electricity to outlying areas. It was like 1900 met 2018. People living in an earlier century right next to a powerful creation that could make their lives easier.

We were expecting around 500 people and I think we definitely surpassed it. There must have been 400 women, and lots of husbands. And I’m pretty sure there were 390 babies.

Pokot isn’t what you’d call primitive but it’s way behind the rest of Kenya. There are parts where the people have never seen muzungus. Where we were, they had, as it was visited by missionaries before.

The first evening, we watched people walk drive and motorbike in. A lorrey arrived with so many people standing up, they wouldn’t have been able to wedge a toothpick in. It held 115 people. Hard to believe but I watched them unload.

The next morning, we started the preaching with no chairs inside a really, really hot building. All the mamas sat on the floor. It was quite chaotic during the messages as they continually got up and down, but they genuinely enjoyed being there.

They love coming to the conference every year. They have 3 meals a day and meetings each morning and afternoon. Outside of the conference, life is hard and likely in a desolate area. This was a vacation for them.

The evening of the 2nd day, a girl was brought into a meeting of pastors in a comatose state. The pastors prayed for her only to see her raise up, start walking and request food. She stayed with the rest of the conference and attended all the meetings.

This was my first visit to Turkwel, but not my last. Except for the latrines, I thoroughly enjoyed being there. Even with the language barrier, you can communicate. Especially with the lollipops.

From Kitale,

Mama Lani

August 18, 2018

Today we had a wedding for one of the orphan boys in Kipsaina. We’ve watched Edwin Kapo grow up for the last 7 years and become a man of God and a help to Missions for Orphans. His wife Leah, a beautiful young woman, is a blessing to him and us both. It was a great celebration and an emotional passing for him from life at the home to life as a husband.