Thursday, October 20, 2016

What do Cattle have in Common with Cemeteries . . . Other than the Alliteration of C's

We often share the road with cattle.  If I put my hand out the window, I could touch the cattle.  They are definitely not afraid of noisy vehicles.  They feed on anything green beside the road and sometimes they are being herded by boys with sticks and sometimes they just roam.  I'm sure their owners find them when evening comes.

These cattle have humps on their necks.  Some quite huge.  They look kind of like Brahmas but I don't think they are.  But what do they have to do with cemeteries?  Well, the cattle go where there's grass to eat.  And the cemetery close to our church has lots of tall grass.  So that's where the cattle go.  Pictures below.

So interesting to see cattle in the city.  We see them so often that I forget to take pictures.  This time I was trying for a picture of their humps.  Some of the pictures turned out.  If you look closely, you can see the hump.

This picture was through the window.

I'm getting better at taking candids!  These cattle don't have very big humps.

But look at this hump. Isn't that cool?

We drive past this forlorn cemetery every Sunday.  It's absolutely huge and looks like no one cares about it.

LeRon and I and our daughters love to walk through cemeteries.  We've seen cemeteries in countries all over the world.  This is the first one we've seen that looks unkempt.  Someone told us that this is where they bury people with no family but I don't believe it because I've seen groups of people gathered here for burials,

And some of the plots look cared for.  But many don't.

We've seen this on several head stones:  sunrise and sunset, rather than born and died.  Cool!

Someone obviously had enough money to build a little building over this grave.

Our son Craig wants to have a mausoleum for his grave.  These little buildings are kind of cool.

This grave is definitely protected from grazing cattle.

Gorgeous Jacaranda tree here in the cemetery with its purple flowers.

And here are the cattle peacefully grazing in the cemetery!

Outside the cemetery, people walk on the dirt paths.  The women carry all kinds of things on their heads!  How do they do it?

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Warmer Weather and Warm, Friendly People

I did two blog posts previous to this one.  I like to keep my blogs short so sometimes I do several in one day.  Here goes for this one . . . 

The weather is gradually warming up.  In the middle of the day, the sunshine is intense but the mornings and late afternoons and evenings are cool and you still need a sweater.  We are continually amazed at how cool it is here at the equator.

We have had some wonderful missionary experiences lately.  So amazing to have someone walk into the mission office and want to know more.  J* walked in with a list of questions.  Since I am just the missionary secretary I looked around for the young missionaries but they had just gone into a meeting with the mission president.  Sister Msane was busy working at her desk.  I swallowed hard and started answering his questions.  I wasn't as coherent as I wanted to be but I told him that I knew these things were true.  He has been back in the office several times with more questions and it has been so exciting!

Sister Msane and I checked out the local Karen Hospital this past week.  Hospitals have to be approved before our missionaries can use them.  The Karen Hospital was started and is privately owned by a Kenyan lady doctor, Dr. Betty Gikonyo, and her husband who is also a doctor.  Her story is amazing.  She lived in a small village "up country" and never wore shoes till she was 12 but she always had a desire to gain an education and become a doctor.  She worked hard until she attained it.  Her dream of a hospital has been fulfilled.

The hospital was really nice with up-to-date equipment, very nice, well-educated staff and it was clean and cheery.  We were impressed.  Several people living in our compound also work at the Hospital, including doctors from India who are also well-educated and professionals in their field.

Sister Msane sponsored a brunch today for the women church leaders in the Nairobi stakes.  I got to help her with the food and it was so nice to meet these good women who care so much about Kenya and about sharing the gospel here.

After the brunch, LeRon and I went to a birthday party of a young boy in our compound, D*.  We love the people we live around.

On another topic . . . I've learned why it's hard to find good cheese here.  Cheese is not part of the culture here.  They just don't eat cheese.

The Karen Hospital.  It's a lovely building with gorgeous grounds -- flowering trees and lots of bushes and flowers.
Lovely black Relief Society and Primary Stake leaders.  We had a great time visiting with them and sharing ideas on how to share the gospel here in Kenya.  The sisters loved the breakfast casserole that I made.

We learned that Kenyans just don't eat cheese.  Some of them tried it but most didn't like it.  And that's okay.  There's some African food that I don't like either.

Sister Msane talked about humanitarian projects we could be involved with.

Women love chocolate!  Everyone has a chocolate bar with a paper saying "Sweet is the Work."  It was a really lovely brunch.  I was the only mzungu there.

Then it was back to our compound to celebrate D*'s birthday.  He was happy to have his Japanese grandparents from Malaysia here for a visit too.

The kids had fun swimming in the swimming pool and this baby swam in its tiny swimming pool too.
Black and white.  Our compound has such good people living here (or rather, staying here as the Africans say.  They never say that you live somewhere; you always stay somewhere).

Celebrating Thanksgiving

Canadian Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday every October.  Since we always have Monday night Family Home Evening with the Mission President and the missionary Assistants, we decided to turn it into a Thanksgiving Dinner.  My kitchen is teeny-tiny so you can only imagine the work of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings for 11 people.

Cooking in a different country is an interesting experience at the best of times.  Ingredients are different, even when they are the same brands as at home.  And many products you simply can't get so you have to improvise.  The altitude makes a difference in how fast things cook too.  Recipes seem to work differently.  So it was a challenge to throw together a Thanksgiving Dinner.  But we did it and it was delicious and we had a lot of fun.

After dinner, we laughed and talked and a had a great time.  Then we each told about things we are grateful for and it turned into a spiritual feast as we shared our thoughts and feelings.  We ended the evening by some joining with us to sing "O Canada."

I'm grateful to be a Canadian but I'm also thankful for my American roots (my Dad and both my Mom's parents were born in the US) and for my Pilgrim ancestors (10 of them came to America on the Mayflower way back when).   And I'm so glad I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that I am on this mission in the good land of Kenya.

L-R:  Sister K (returning home from her mission), Sister Msane, President Msane, Sister & Elder Ford, Sister & Elder Lyman, with Elder Torrie worshiping the ground his wife walks on!!  The missionary Assistants came a little later so missed the pre-dinner photo.

Another Birthday Boy

This time, it's our second son, Craig's birthday.  38 years old!  Wow.  What happened to the years?  So glad he was sent to us from his heavenly pre-earth life.   He has been a joy to raise and we enjoy him just as much as an adult.  Happy Birthday dear son!

Craig had eye surgery when he was 2 years old.  His eye turned in and they needed to cut the muscle a bit to straighten it.  When he came out of surgery, he had bandages on both eyes even though the surgery was only on one eye.  And he had straight-jacket type things on both his arms so he wouldn't pick at the bandages.  He was such a brave little guy.

His first words to me were "I can't see."  He wasn't upset, just stating a fact.  I explained that he wouldn't be able to see until the next day and that the bandages needed to stay on to protect his eye until tomorrow.

When it was time to eat, the nurse told me to feed Craig since he couldn't bend his elbows to get the spoon to his mouth.  Craig was really offended at this idea.  He held out his arms.  "Take these things off," he said.  I told him that no, he had to leave them on so he wouldn't pick at his bandages.  He said, "I won't pick at the bandages.  Take these things off."

So to the nurse's horror, I took the arm-things off.  He sat and ate his food and then got down to play with toys.  He never picked at his bandages and he never complained about not being able to see.  Wow.  The nurses were so impressed and so was I.  He was so brave.  And only two years old!

Happy Birthday Craig!

We were in awe of another baby sent from Heavenly Father.  Tiny cute little thing!

Here I am in the Bow Island Hospital with new-born Craig.  His hair was so blond that you could hardly see it but it was definitely there.  Later on it turned almost white and then back to blond and then turned into a very dark blond.  So interesting how their hair color changes.

LeRon and Michael were pretty excited to have a new baby too.

One baby takes all of your time and two babies take all of your time too.  I was more relaxed as a new mother this time and consequently, Craig was a more relaxed baby.  Other than the worry over a couple of hernia surgeries and then his eye surgery when he was two, I found him a pretty easy-going baby.

"Coochy-coo.  Smile for the camera, little sweetie."

Brothers -- one blond and one dark.  Sometimes I caught Michael hitting Craig as he sang "I love brother, he loves me, we are a happy family!"

My Mom and Dad (Grandpa and Grandma Conrad) were enthralled with another grandson.

Doesn't Craig look cute in his little suit?

Grandma Torrie always had a lot of fun with her grandchildren.  Craig and Michael are definitely enjoying it!

Craig had a BIG laugh.  You could see his tonsils!!!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Flowers and Missionaries at General Conference

General Conference happens twice a year in Salt Lake City, Utah and is broadcast all around the world.  We hear the Word of the Lord from our prophet, President Monson, and from the Apostles and other brethren and sisters of the leading councils of the church.  It's a spiritual feast.

Because of the time difference, we watched Conference this past weekend, instead of the weekend before when it took place in SLC.  We always enjoy seeing what the weather is like in SLC (another acronym!  See my post on Acronyms).  When we have snow in Alberta, it's usually lovely fall weather in SLC.

Here in Nairobi we have beautiful weather too.  The days are getting very warm but it still cools down at night, which makes it very lovely.  Right now the Jacaranda trees are blooming everywhere.  The pinky-purple flowers open shortly before the leaves.  Trees that I thought were dead are coming to life.  And the scent is heavenly!  They remind me somewhat of our lilac trees back home.

It was so nice to watch General Conference with many members of the Nairobi West Stake and also with our wonderful missionaries.  Pictures of flowers first, then the missionaries.

We had a half hour drive to the Upper Hill Chapel to watch conference.  So many beautiful Jacaranda trees on the way.  You can also see the Marabou Storks that continually nest in the acacia trees.

Gorgeous blossoms give off a heavenly scent.  These trees are natives of Brazil.  How did they get to Kenya?
Coconuts and Jacaranda blossoms.

Close-up of the lovely pinky-purple blossoms of the Jacaranda tree.  You can see that the leaves are just trying to pop.  The blossoms are gradually falling off.

Saturday session missionaries: Elder Manu, Elder Musonda, Elder Noel, Elder Vidonyi, Elder Emmanuel, Elder Egbert, grey-haired Elder Torrie.

Elder Manu, Elder Musonda, Elder Noel, a young future Kenyan missionary, Elder Vidonyi, not-grey-haired Sister Torrie, Elder Emmanuel, Elder Egbert.

Elder Torrie and I brought home made cookies and apples and oranges to feed the hungry missionaries after the Sunday sessions.  L-R: Elder Egbert, Elder Wafula, Elder Muzwenje, Elder Kyuvi, Elder Vidonyi, Sister & Elder Torrie, Elder Manu, Elder Hales, Elder Musonda, with Sister Ndonga kneeling in front and Sister Gondwe to the right and in front,

Elder Noel didn't make it into the group picture (nor did his companion, Elder Emmanuel), so I grabbed Elder Noel and gave him a grandmotherly hug.  He's a great missionary.

Acronyms -- the Missionaries at the MLC

There are a lot of acronyms in our Church.  LDS (Latter-day Saint), MTC (Missionary Training Center), IFR (In-field representative who is a go-between between the Areas and the General Authorities), ZC (Zone Conference), ZL (Zone Leader), STL (Sister Training Leader), etc. etc. etc.

An MLC (missionary leader council) is held regularly in the mission so ZL's and STL's can be taught and trained and can counsel together and take the information back to the Elders and Sisters in their zones (their areas of responsibility. Pictures to follow.

Just thought of another acronym.  When Elder & Sister Harline and Elder Torrie and I were sent to South Africa for training prior to the Harlines going to Ethiopia and Elder T and I coming here to Kenya, we were overwhelmed with the number of acronyms in use at the Africa South East Area Office.  We were continually bewildered.  So Sister Harline labeled us the GPS, meaning the "Guinea-Pig Seniors" since we and the Harlines were the first senior missionaries to receive training in Johannesburg.  By the way, we really enjoyed the few days we spent there, learning about the scope of missionary work here in Africa.

Here we are at the MLC.  Tall missionaries!  Elder Wafula and Elder Hales (who are the AP's -- the Assistants to the President; we have been instructed not to call them AP's but to call them Assistants), Elder Warenga, Elder Pavik.

The MLC was held at the Mission Home with Sister Msane cooking up a storm for the hungry missionaries.  Thankfully she loves to cook and cooks yummy food with her South African curry powders.

Beautiful weather and hungry missionaries go hand in hand.  Elder _____, Elder Muzwenje, Elder Kyuvi, Sister Ndonga, Sister Were, Sister Atieno.

Elder _____, Elder Mwaja, Elder ________, Elder Lotulelei, Elder ________.  I will have the Assistants help me to put names on these missionaries.  I don't know them all since many of them are stationed far from Nairobi.

Another view of the same table.

The sun as shining very brightly.  I should have turned on the flash.  Elder Hales, Elder Rasmussen, and Elder Pavik.

Lunch is over.  Back to the work of counseling together.