Thursday, January 19, 2017

January New Missionaries

It's always great to greet the new missionaries.  They come with very mixed emotions of trepidation and excitement.  It's a very different culture for some of them.  This transfer we welcomed 5 Africans from Uganda and Zimbabwe and 4 Americans from the US.  Elder Torrie and I instantly love them all and we do our best to make them feel extremely welcome.  President and Sister Msane are great too.  Very warm and kind.  And the new mission home that former President and Sister Hicken set up just a couple of months before they were released is perfect to house so many rambunctious missionaries and their trainers.  It's a madhouse but a fun madhouse!

All the missionaries enjoy Elder Torrie.  And they like to gather round the piano and sing.  Behind Elder Torrie you can see new missionaries, Elder McIntyre and Elder Elliott.  To the right in glasses is new missionary, Elder Nyanhamo from Zimbabwe.  To his right is Elder Muzwenje and peeking into the picture is Elder Rasmussen, hymnbook in hand, ready to sing.

Another view of Elder McIntyre, Elder Elliott, Elder Nyanhamo, Elder Muzwenje and grinning Elder Rasmussen.

Fun together.  Elder Wafula always has a goofy face to make for the camera.  Then there's Elder Ang'ila, Elder Mahanzu, and an Elder peeking behind that I can't entirely see, and Elder Rasmussen.

Elder Wambua, Elder Mugele, new missionary Elder Gimeyi, and Elder Brown.

Elder Lotulelei, Elder Agesa, Elder Ellis, Elder Pavik

Chat time with President Msane and Elder Ang'ila and new Elder Kyomya from Uganda.

We have all African sisters in our mission and they are so warm and friendly.  L-R: new Sister Ngwaru from Zimbabwe, Sister Were from Kenya, new Sister Auma from Uganda, and Sister Omo from Kenya.  Fun to hug these sweet sisters.

Good thing Sister Msane likes to cook because there are a lot of mouths to feed!  Often she fixes chicken or beef curry and rice.  Tonight it's Kentucky Fried Chicken with a baked potato dish and salads.  Yummy!  L-R: Elder Rasmussen, Elder Pavik, Elder Gimeyi, Elder McIntyre, Elder Fuller, Elder Elliott, Elder Nyanhamo, Elder Brown

Elder Ellis, Elder Merritt, Elder Rasmussen, Elder Pavik, Elder Gimeyi, Elder McIntyre

Elder Muzwenje, Elder Kyuvi, Elder Lotulelei

Elder Agesa and Elder Mahanzu

On Tuesday these missionaries were all here for an MLC (Missionary Leader Council).  These are all the Zone Leaders and the Sister Training Leaders in the Kenya Nairobi Mission.  L-R back: Elder Lotulelei, Sister Were (pronounced "wear-eh"), President & Sister Msane, _____, _____, ______ (hard to see but I'll ask Elder Wafula for help later), Elder Merritt, Elder Rasmussen, Elder Pavik, Elder Hales, Elder Wafula, Elder _____, Elder Mugele.  Front starting with the pink dress: Sister Omo, Elder Mahanzu, Elder Agesa, Elder Pavik.

Now for a picture of the new January missionaries:  Elder Thompson, Elder Kyomya, Elder Gimeyi, Elder McIntyre, Sister Auma (pronounced "ah-oo-mah"), Elder Fuller with Elder Elliott in front, Elder Nyanhamo, Sister Ngwaru with President and Sister Msane in front.

Sister Msane likes to do a crazy picture too.  So here is one of the several I took.  Nice to have fun together.

Now here are the new arrivals with their trainers.  L-R:  Elder Muzwenje, Elder Ang'ila, Elder Thompson, Elder Cotts with Elder Kyomya in front, Elder Mahanzu, Elder Gimeyi, Elder Mlambo, Elder McIntyre with Sister Auma in front, Elder Soita with Elder Ellis in front, Elder Fuller, Elder Nyanhamo, Sister Okila, Elder Egbert, Sister Omo, Sister Ngwaru.

And the funny picture again!

Elder Egbert always has a bright smile!  Here he is with Elder Hales who is one of the Assistants to the President.  LeRon and I also work closely with Elder Hales and his companion, Elder Wafula.  They are all great missionaries.

I believe Elder Cotts' already blond hair is much blonder from his days in the sun in Dar Es Salaam and Mombasa.  It is very hot, hot, hot there.  Now he's being transferred to a less hot place in Kenya so that will be a treat for him.

Sister Msane has purchased pillows and bed sheets for all the missionaries.  The theory is that they are supposed to carry them with them when they are transferred.  Good idea!!  Elder Fuller and Elder Thompson love their pillows!!

Elder McIntyre will be going south to where it is VERY hot.  And he will have to learn Swahili because that is the main language in Tanzania.  Will be a challenge!

Elder Mlambo, Elder Kyomya and Elder Ang'ila.

Elder Egbert and Elder Mahanzu having fun together.  Nice to see missionaries enjoying each other's company.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Hakuna Matata

Hakuna Matata.  Remember those words from Lion King?  It's been many years since I saw Lion King and I don't even remember the story line.  But now that I'm here, I realize that this film is all about Kenya and the animal kingdom here.  Several production crew members actually traveled here to Kenya to Hell's Gate National Park (I've shown pictures from that park in past blog posts) to check out the landscape and the animals.  The Lion King's name is Simba, which is actually the Swahili word for lion; Rafiki is Swahili for friend. There are probably other Swahili names and words that I'm not aware of.

But back to hakuna matata. . . . It's Swahili for the concept of "don't worry; be happy."  And that is definitely the mind set of a lot of people here.  "Don't worry.  I'll get it done today.  If not today, tomorrow."  "Yes, I'll be there today.  If not today, tomorrow."  "I'm coming right now.  Well, maybe I'm starting to think about coming."  Kind of hard for us westerners to get used to.  There must be a happy medium between hakuna matata and the stress we westerners feel to "do it now . . . or yesterday!"

It's been a hard, frustrating week.  Some "political" complications with some Kenyans that we deal with have been upsetting.  I've been fighting a sore throat and a tooth problem.  There's been a lot of office work to get ready for the incoming missionaries.  Then to top it off, I found out on Thursday that someone I work with has been sitting on postal slips for ten packages from parents to their missionaries and some of these slips are from November!!!  That means that the packages have been sitting in the post office accruing storage charges all this time.

So maddening.  The parents want their missionaries to get the packages and the missionaries want their packages.  Oh my.  I was not impressed and let him know (hopefully in a firm but not rude way).  On Friday when he brought all the packages, he said that he had learned a good lesson.  So have I.   He really is a very nice man.

So I'm very sorry to all you missionary moms and dads out there who hoped your sons would get these packages for Christmas.  Hopefully we can distribute them this coming week when transfers are happening.  We'll do our best to get them out as quickly as possible.  Our mission covers two countries and we can't use the postal system like we would in the West.  Our missionaries in Kenya are spread from 10 hour's drive to the east of Nairobi to 10 hour's drive to the west and all on narrow, bumpy roads full of potholes, speed bumps, and heavy traffic.  Missionaries in Tanzania are in three major cities: Dar Es Salaam, Arusha, and Mwanza, and we generally fly to those areas.  But we'll do our best to get the packages out as quickly as possible.

Hakuna matata!!!

All the senior couples in the Kenya Nairobi Mission at our Couples Conference in December at Tsavo West National Park.  I did a post about the conference but at that time I didn't have this picture.  Everyone is here except my husband LeRon.  He had been very sick the day before, which is very unusual for him.  But the day of this picture, we had driven down from Nairobi (5 1/2 hour drive).  By the time we got there, he needed to just go to bed so I went to the rest of the conference without him.  L-R: Elder & Sister Petersen (LDS Charities based in Nairobi), Elder & Sister Ford (Public Affairs based in Nairobi but covering Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda), Elder & Sister Colemere (Member/Leader Support, Mwanza, Tanzania), Elder & Sister Pehrson (Seminaries & Institutes, Eldoret, Kenya), President & Sister Msane (our fearless leaders), Elder & Sister Jones (Office and Member/Leader Support, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania), Elder & Sister Jensen (Member/Leader Support and LDS Charities based in Mombasa, Kenya), Sister Torrie without her side-kick, Elder Torrie (Mission Secretary, Nairobi).

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Nakuru National Park with the Missionaries

God's creations are so amazing.  How he could have ever come up with ideas for some of the animals is beyond my puny brain!  All things in nature prove to me that there really is a God and that he loves us and cares when even the smallest sparrow falls to earth.  He loves us, his children, and he also loves all of his creations from dogs to warthogs to black and brown and white-striped zebras to gangly long-necked giraffes to teeny-tiny Red-cheeked Cordonbleus and Purple Grenadiers.  He loves them all and so do I.

We had a wonderful morning driving around Nakuru National Park with Elder Noel and Elder Odhiambo.  Saw my wonderful zebras and giraffes, baboons and warthogs, lots of antelope-type creatures and . . . a rhino!!! So now we've seen four of "The Big Five":  leopard, buffalo, elephant, and rhino.  We just need to see a lion.  I don't know why the zebra, giraffe, and hippo aren't in the list because they are amazing creatures too.

And it's so much nicer to see them in the wild.  I will never look at animals in a zoo with the same eyes ever again.  I remember seeing penguins in the zoo after we had seen them in the wild during our trip to Chile/Argentina/Antarctica.  I could hardly stand to see them behind glass.  And they weren't nearly so cute as in the wild either.

Makalia Waterfall in the park.  Not much water falling at this time of year.  There was a herd of antelope drinking here but we scared them away.  Ran so fast with long, loping strides.  For a minute I hoped a lion had scared them but I think it was just us.  And, as we were out of the truck, I'm glad it wasn't a lion!

A huge herd of buffalo.  At first I was not excited to see buffalo because we have buffalo at home. In fact our nephew raised one until it kept rubbing against their house and wrecking things.  But these African buffalo are truly interesting.  And they can be dangerous too.

And again, I wasn't very excited about antelope/deer-type creatures.  But they are actually very beautiful.  So many types: gazelles, impalas, elands, waterbuck, hartebeest, wildebeest, duikers and the tiny dik-diks.  Don't you love the horns on that Grant's Gazelle?  At least I think it's a Grant's Gazelle and not a Thompson Gazelle.

I have so many pictures of zebras and can't get enough of them.

Baboons climbing trees.  Fun!

We saw so many baboons this trip.  Right beside the highway.  Playing in trees in the park.

Love this picture of a Red-billed Oxpecker pecking ticks and other bugs off this African buffalo.

LeRon and Colleen overlooking Lake Nakuru.

Elder Noel and Elder Odhiambo in their Pday clothes enjoying the sunshine by Lake Nakuru.

A whole flock of Helmeted Guineafowl ran across the road in front of our vehicle.  Their skinny speckled bodies and bright blue heads are striking.

If you click on this picture, you will be able to see the brown tones in the zebra lying on the ground.  And the different stripes are easily noticed in the two standing zebras.  Interesting how the stripes continue up the mane.

Zebra just chillin' under the tower of a high power line.

Elder Odhiambo and Elder Noel at another look-out point above Lake Nakuru.

We were busy looking right and left, trying to spot wildlife when Elder Odhiambo announced that there was a rhino RIGHT IN FRONT OF US on the road!! So exciting.  Our first rhino!

Oxpeckers pecking away at insects on this White Rhino.  Even though there are White Rhinos and Black Rhinos, all rhinos are actually gray!

Elder Odhiambo was born in Nakuru and grew up in Kisumu and Nairobi so he was very familiar with Rhinos.  He said that for sure it is a White Rhino and that it is a fairly young one.

Black rhinos have more pointy mouths and White rhinos have flat, broader mouths.  This rhino is trying very hard to hide from us as he blends into the dry grass behind the bush.

Good view of the rhino's two horns!

This is either a Cattle Egret or a Yellow-billed Egret on the back of this buffalo.  They like to eat insects kicked up by the buffalo.  I would guess it's a Cattle Egret since it's on a "cattle-type" creature!

This zebra looks like it's seen better days if you look closely at its skin.

Love those stripes!

These vines growing on bushes look like they should be in a Star Wars movie.

And then there's the graceful giraffe, crossing the road just in front of us.  Lovely!

Zebra and a Cattle Egret (probably).  Notice how dry the grass is.  This is definitely the dry season.  Everyone said it would get blazing hot in December and January and yes, it's hot during the day, but nothing like we've seen some summer months in Alberta.  I don't think it gets much over 85 here and in some summers, we've had 95 degree weather.  (Yes, I'm still using Fahrenheit even though Canada's been metric since 1975.  Actually, I'm bilingual -- I understand kilograms, at least I know that there are 2.2 lbs in a kilogram!  And 250 grams in a cup.  Or is it 500 grams in a cup?  Hmn . . . But I still like Fahrenheit and feet and inches.)

More baboons in the trees.  They're so ugly, they're cute.

Imagine running up and down tree trunks and swinging by the tail.  I know monkeys swing by the tail, but do baboons?

More interesting landscape.

We had a staring contest with this giraffe.  I think we won because it moved off the road and into the bushes.

Click to enlarge and you will see a "Yellow-billed Stork".  Gorgeous red skin above its yellow beak.

Grey Heron down by Lake Nakuru.

Lake Nakuru, along with other lakes in the Great Rift Valley are "alkaline soda lakes" having a very high concentration of carbonate salts.

I wondered why there were so many dead trees in the water and Elder Odhiambo told me that it was because it was a salt lake.  I was surprised and didn't really believe him till I looked it up and sure enough . . .  The Great Salt Lake in Utah is not the only salt lake around!  I knew the Dead Sea was salty and was in the Rift Valley but I never thought of other lakes.

Pelicans napping on driftwood on Lake Nakura.  Are they Great White Pelicans?  Not sure.

A Great White Egret enjoying the salty water.

LeRon, Elder Noel, Elder Odhiambo  soaking in the sun by the lake.  Lots of alkali on the beach.

LeRon and Colleen at another lookout point.

Last look at my lovely zebras in the shade on a hot day.

Click on this picture to see the sign:  "Customer Service."  The lake has risen and this place is no longer usable.  On the other side it said something about "Tourists."  Funny.