Wednesday, June 21, 2017

To Chicago for a Wedding!!!

What happier thing than a wedding!  And what happier thing than a wedding in the Temple where two people who love each other are "sealed" together forever as they obediently live the teachings of Jesus Christ.

We were thrilled to have permission from President Msane, our mission president, and from President Hamilton, our Africa South East Area President, to leave our mission and travel to Chicago for 10 days for our daughter's wedding.  We were delighted to be there for a small family reunion and then the wedding in the Chicago LDS Temple.

We flew from Nairobi to Frankfurt to Rome to Chicago.  A round-about way but it worked.  I love looking out the window of the plane.  These are the gorgeous Alps.  When I was young I dreamed of piloting a plane.  I read fiction books about flying and about being a stewardess (now called a flight attendant) and I even read the encyclopedia to learn how to fly.  I knew all about the rudder and ailerons and lift.  My Dad started flying lessons when he was a newly-wed but my Mom made him give it up after Barbara MacPhee's husband was killed in a light plane crash.  But we had an old war plane out back that my Dad purchased after the war and we kids loved to play in it.  How I dreamed of flying!!
We stayed with Heather in her lovely condo and on Sunday, Vince came over for Sunday dinner and to go to church with us.  We met Vince over a year ago during our short lay-over in the Chicago airport while on our way to our mission.  We liked him and hoped they would marry.

For Monday night Family Home Evening we went to see a windmill close to where Heather lives in Chicago.  Imagine that.  A real Dutch windmill in Chicago!  It was taken apart in Holland and brought in pieces to the US and put back together.  It functioned for several years.  We were excited to visit the Netherlands a couple of times and to see actual working windmills.  So impressive!

When Heather marries Vince on Saturday, she will also acquire two children -- Hanna and Joseph.  Vince's wife died of cancer a few years ago.  Hanna's shirt with a zebra on it made me feel right at home!

Our daughter Michelle rented a house with a private lake so we had a great family reunion with all of our children and grandchildren there.  Heather is rowing here with her Dad.  She first learned to row on our dugout when she would help her Dad change the filter on the intake.
The lake was surrounded with gorgeous trees and croaking bull frogs that sounded like grunting geese.  Not sure if that is a good description.  And yes, senior missionaries can boat and even swim (unlike junior missionaries who are not allowed in the water).

The lake came equipped with a row boat, an electric motor boat, a kayak, and other kinds of floaties.  Fun for everyone.

I even got into the act.  Here I am ready to push off.  I think Heather did most of the work.

Here's two of my grandchildren, Rachael and Alice with our son, Craig, ready to swing on the rope and go swimming.  Fun!
And it was fun to finally meet in person our latest new grandbabies -- Benny and Payton.  They were born in December and November.  We've seen them in pictures and videos but we finally got to meet them in person!!  Grandpa is enjoying some grandpa-time.
There was a beautiful park close to where Heather lives and we went to check it out.  Heather and Vince later had their wedding photos taken there.  Here's Eric, Craig, and Heather.  Our niece, Kinsey (Torrie) Holt flew from Alberta Canada to take the wedding pictures.  Kinsey is a professional wedding photographer.  You can see her work on <> and <>.  We were happy to hire Kinsey and have her come.  She and Eric are the same age and were close cousins all their growing up years.  Of course Heather's photos won't be on the blog yet.
Here are Mom and Daughter on the morning of Heather's wedding.  She's wearing some Kazuri beads that I brought her from Nairobi.  The wedding was in the Chicago LDS Temple.  Only members in good standing can attend the temple and the sealing rooms are small so only close friends and family can attend the actual wedding.  The wedding reception was held the evening before so that all could attend.  There was a happy turnout of family and friends at the reception.  I wish I had pictures but I don't.  Heather made it really fun.  She had coloring for the little kids and games and Karaoke.  It was really a fun reception.  Ice cream and toppings and savory snacks.

Heather's good friend, Emily; Heather's cousin Tami Torrie; me; Heather; Heather's niece Alice.  We're all so happy for Heather!  But . . . as Heather points out . . . she's already had a very happy life.  She's been the kind of person who can be happy wherever she is.  But we are happy that she's found a very good man.

Sisters . . . Sisters . . . there were never such devoted sisters.  Tra-la-la.  Here are sisters Michelle and Heather, with Michelle's daughter Alice.

Here's our whole family -- Eric & Jocelyn with Payton; Craig Torrie; LeRon and me with Michelle's Benny; Heather & Vince; Andy & Michelle Robinson with Rachael, Matthew, Leon, Alice; Michael.  All here except for Vince's children who are now our grandchildren too.

Happy Dad and Mom with Heather and Vince.

The Chicago Temple is beautiful with lovely grounds.

Heather and Vince with our grandchildren.

Heather's new family!

Needed a picture to show that David & Tami Torrie (from Grassy Lake, Alberta, Canada) were here too.  They are our nephew and niece and cousins to Craig, Eric, and Michael and of course Heather and Michelle.

Elder & Sister Torrie at the Chicago Temple.  In 3-5 years there will be a temple in Nairobi.  It will be a beautiful building (as all temples are) with lovely landscaping and it will be a blessing to Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, and other surrounding countries.  Maybe it will be like the East German Temple in Freiberg, Germany where many people, regardless of religion, go to have their wedding pictures taken on its grounds because of its beauty but also because of the good spirit that is there.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Glamorous Names and Cool Logos

The very colorful matatus (small buses) and larger buses have interesting names and often have logos splashed across them.  So fun.  It's against mission rules for senior missionaries to ride in them but the young missionaries do it all the time.  They have stories to tell!  Here's a few matatu names:

  • Good Reputation . . . hmn . . . a good reputation for being on time?  For running into other vehicles?  For driving anywhere and everywhere, including in the dirt on the sides of the road?
  • Luminous . . . does that mean the bus shines?  Or that we see it coming clearly?  We definitely see it coming and we get out of the way!
  • Glamorous Luminous . . . even more bright and shiny!
  • Snowball . . . few people here have even seen snow so I guess a snowball is exciting
  • Compliant . . . with the law?  Just wondering.
  • Blessing One . . . only one?
  • Mother Land . . . which one?
  • Super Coach . . . as opposed to the opposite?
  • Three D . . . I sincerely hope it's a 3-D vehicle and not a flat 2-D one
  • Actuary . . . I had to look this one up:  "An actuary is a business professional who deals with the measurement and management of risk and uncertainty."  So how is a matatu an actuary?  Just wondering.  For sure there is risk and uncertainty.
  • Reliant . . .  What is the matatu reliant on?  Reliable might be a better word.  But maybe that would be pushing it.  Although matatus go very fast so they can reliably get to the next stop on time.
  • Two Bt Sacco . . . I think they mean Two Bit.  Love this name.  Sacco means "company" or "business".  A 2-bit sacco isn't exactly impressive.  Two bits is 25 cents.
  • Desire . . . hmn . . . do we desire to be taken safely to our destination?  Hope so! 
  • Lucky Transport . . . you're lucky if you make it in one piece.  You're lucky if the matatu makes it in one piece!
The logos are even more fun and definitely show that this is a country not afraid to say the name of Jesus Christ for fear of being politically incorrect.  So nice to be able to talk to people about Jesus Christ and not have them roll their eyes.  Here are some of the logos we've seen:

  • Never Drive Faster Than Your Angels Can Fly
  • Jesus is my Savior
  • God is Able
  • In God We Trust
  • Keep Calm and Love Jesus
  • Obey God
  • God is Good All the Time
  •  Semper Fidelis . . . which means "always faithful"
  • The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Knowledge
  • Reveal your Salvation
The pictures below are not about matatus.  Just some pictures of people and places.  The next two weeks are going to be pretty hectic so I won't be posting for a while.
We had to say good-bye to these lovely young girls from India.  They've been here for a month to be with their dad who has a good job here.  Now they're heading back to India for school.  I love their colorful clothing.
They love to pop in and say hi and play a few tunes on the piano.
Gopi and his wife and daughters.  We will not see his wife and daughters again as they are heading back to India and we will be back home in Canada in a few months.  There are so many nice people who live in our compound.  We always enjoy visiting with Gopi whose English is very good.  His wife speaks very little but the girls are pretty good.  So nice that in the next life, we will get to be with all the people who have touched our lives on earth.

One Saturday we went downtown and there was a huge group of roller-bladers on the main highway.  They rollerbladed clear from downtown to past Galleria Mall.  That's a long way.  Made me tired to think of it.  I much prefer ice skating.  It's not as much work.  I tried to read the back of their shirts to see why they were rollerblading.  I caught the words "Skating for Global Goals."  Sounds impressive anyway.

Crazy to be rollerblading on a busy highway!

Funny . . . Seniors . . . Caution Driver Under Instruction.  Kind of scary to think of seniors who have never driven learning to drive a truck in this crazy traffic.

And the traffic really is crazy.  Roller bladers.  Pedestrians.  Baboons.  Seniors learning to drive.  Crazy matatus.

P* and J* knocked at my door excited to show me a snake in a tree.  Then of course they scared me with it and I screamed, which is what they wanted.  It really did look real and we've had snakes here before.

The snakes belong to D* whose mother is a ranger at Masai Mara fighting elephant poachers.  D* is very knowledgeable about wildlife as he often accompanies his mom.

The kids were so happy they "got" me.  We love our little neighborhood grandchildren.

Monday, June 5, 2017

More Singing Missionaries

The Africa South East Area is doing a public affairs event about the upcoming Nairobi Temple.  Government and other leaders and of course, the press, have been invited.  We've been asked to provide a small missionary choir.  So on Sunday we drove down to Upper Hill for a choir practice.  They are singing three numbers and I was impressed with how quickly the missionaries picked out their parts.  They are going to be fabulous!  Some expressed concern about their ability to sing but I told them that angels will sing with them. 

The choir consists of 1/3 sister missionaries (there are only African sisters in our mission), 1/3 African missionaries and 1/3 Western missionaries.  So there are 6 sisters, (Sisters Maina, Matata, Okila, Masibo, Auma, and Bamutesiza); 6 African Elders (Elders Mayekiso, Somniso, Gimeyi, Nyanhamo, Kiio, and Ngabonziza); and 6 Western Elders (Elders Fraga, Noel, Lotulelei, Egbert, Ellis, and Cotts).  These missionaries are all serving in Nairobi and there are many more who could be in the choir but due to the size of the room in which the event will be held, the choir had to be limited.  So here's more pictures for you missionary moms and dads.

Sister Bamutesiza (from Uganda), who by the way, has a lovely soprano voice,  Sister Auma (from Uganda), Sister Matata (from Kenya), Sister Masibo (from Kenya).  All the sisters have lovely voices.  Africans can really sing!

Back row: Elder Fraga (from US), Elder Mayekiso (from South Africa), Elder Noel (from US); Front: Elder Somniso (from South Africa), Elder Lotulelei (from US)

Elder Gimeyi (from Zimbabwe), Elder Nyanhamo (from Zimbabwe), Elder Egbert (from US), Elder Kiio (from Kenya), Elder Ellis (from US)

Elder Torrie (gray hair) is helping keep the group focused.  Do they look focused?

Standing: Elder Torrie, Brother David Machio, Brother Scriven Usi.  David and Scriven (both from Kenya) will lead and play the accompaniment.  Elder Torrie would love to do it but we needed to involve Kenyans.  Scriven is a great guy.  He attended the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, for 5 years.  He talks just like an Albertan.  Crazy to hear it coming from a Black African!!  Elder Torrie and I definitely feel that Scriven is "one of us!"  And David learned to play the piano from a senior missionary a few years ago and now he is teaching his children.  That's how the culture of piano music will grow in Africa.

Elder Kiio, Elder Ellis, Elder Egbert

Elder Nyanhamo, Elder Gimeyi, Elder Fraga, Elder Noel, Elder Somniso, Elder Lotulelei (look hard -- he's there!)

Elder Fraga, Elder Noel, Elder Somniso, Elder Lotulelei, Elder Mayekiso and a bit of Elder Torrie

Elder Cotts (from US), Elder Ngabonziza (from Rwanda).  I had trouble saying Elder Ngabonziza's name but now it just rolls off my tongue!

Elder Noel, Elder Somniso, Elder Lotulelei, Elder Mayekiso

Sister Maina, Sister Matata, Sister Okila, Sister Masibo (all from Kenya).  Sister Masibo's mother Elizabeth is the housekeeper at the mission home.  (Thought I would put that in in case Sister Hicken is reading this post.)

Front and center are Elder Cotts and Elder Ngabonziza who are companions.  They were late to the practice because they had, of all things, a baptism!  (That's great!)

Sing, Sing a Song . . . la la la la la . . .  The choir will sing "High on a Mountain Top," "I Love to See the Temple," and "I Am a Child of God."

These sisters sang lovely alto.  In fact most black Africans have low singing voices.

Last picture.  Here's Elder Lotulelei and Elder Mayekiso.  Elder Lotulelei is really singing out even though he says he doesn't sing!!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Singing Missionaries

LeRon and I spent Tuesday and Wednesday this past week moving from one flat to another in the same compound.  This flat is more private and more light and bright.  And, wonder of wonders, we actually have hot water in the kitchen sink!  Yeah!!  And we are still close to our good friends from India and South Africa so that is a bonus.  So many nice people here in this compound.  Moving was exhausting but we are happy with our new abode and know that it will work well for senior couples in the future.  I'll post pictures of it later.

Thursday evening we picked up food for Sister Msane at The Hub.  Carrefour was the craziest I've ever seen it.  They've been celebrating their one-year anniversary and that, along with the national Madaraka Day (Kenyan Independence Day) made for a crowd like you wouldn't believe.  We were over a half hour just standing in what we thought was a short checkout line.

Then it was off to the Mission Home to help get dinner for hungry missionaries.  MLC (Mission Leadership Council) is now held every month so we get to see the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders very regularly.  And we always finish out the evening with a sing-along -- from the Children's Songbook as well as from the hymnbook.  And can these missionaries ever sing!  We sang together for over an hour and a half and they didn't want to quit but Elder Torrie and I were exhausted!

Being with the missionaries is definitely a highlight of our mission.  We love every one of them.

So here's missionary pictures for you mothers and fathers.  Unfortunately a few of them (Elder Lotulelei and Elder Cotts among others) had to leave before we started the sing-along so I don't have pictures of them. 

Elder Le Cheminant and Elder Musonda

Elder Ang'ila and Elder Mwanziu

Sister Omo and Sister Shanya

The short and the tall:  Elder Chenani and Elder Pavik

Elder Agesa, Elder Ellis, Elder Rasmussen, Elder Hales

Elder Estheimer, Elder Mahanzu, Sister Msane, Elder Chenani all working hard in the kitchen.

Elder Estheimer and Sister Msane (who doesn't like her picture taken)

Elder Mwashi

Elder Chenani loves to get his picture taken

Elder Pavik, Elder Ang'ila, Elder Mwanziu, Elder LeCheminant

Sister Omo, Sister Shanya, Elder Mwashi

Elder Merritt, Elder Pavik

Elder Chenani, Elder Merritt

Elder LeCheminant, Elder Musonda, Elder Estheimer

Elder Hales

Elder Mahanzu, Elder Agesa

Elder Merritt, Elder Wambua, Elder Pavik

Elder Wambua

Elder LeCheminant, Elder Wafula, Elder Estheimer

Elder Agesa, Elder Wafula, Elder Munyariri

Sisters . . . Sisters . . . We're just from two different mothers!  Sister Msane and me

Elder Ang'ila, Sister Msane, Sister Torrie

Sister and President Msane have joined us in singing "The Army of Helaman" . . . we have been taught in our youth . . . and we will be the Lord's missionaries to bring the world his truth."  President and Sister Msane both joined the church as adults and so never had the Primary experience.  They both love this particular Primary song.

Elder Mwanziu and Elder Le Cheminant

Elder Merritt and Elder Agesa

Elder Rasmussen, Elder Soita