Saturday, April 29, 2017

Good People in Kenya

We've had some great missionary experiences lately.  The first was with our Uber driver.  Since we flew out of the small regional airport, Wilson Airport, to the Masai Mara, we knew there was no place to leave our truck so we called an Uber to take us.  The young man saw our name tags and immediately asked, "So what do you believe?"  I pulled out my Articles of Faith card and we started with "We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in his son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost."  Then he asked more questions and it led us right through all 13 Articles of Faith.  It was amazing.  For those of you who don't know what our Articles of Faith are, they are 13 statements of basic beliefs that the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote when asked about his beliefs by a newspaper reporter back in the 1800's.  They can be found here:  https://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/a-of-f/1.1-13?lang=eng#1

Yesterday, we visited one of our neighbors, a young couple from Sweden, whose 5-month old nephew just died.  We talked about what happens at death and about the after-life and it was a sweet experience.  They are good Christian people with a firm belief in God and faith in Jesus Christ.

The next experience happened just now when our landlord and his wife dropped by for a visit and asked us about our beliefs.  We had visited with him last night and he had told us how much people in our compound appreciate our reaching out to be friendly to everyone.  We told him it's because we are all children of God so we are all brothers and sisters.  So tonight we had a wonderful experience telling them about our beliefs.  They are such good Christian people.  He is in the government (on the opposition side) and if I could vote, I would vote for him.

Which leads me to something else.  We are in the run-up to elections here in Kenya and we are surprised and sad at all the unrest and problems that are cropping up because of it.  For a country in which people are so vocal in their love of Jesus Christ, it doesn't necessarily translate into actions.  (Of course we in the West are no better!) Two days this past week all missionaries were confined to their flats because of a possibility of violence.  So sad for a country that could be so peaceful if people would actually act like they love Jesus Christ instead of just saying it.  (In the West many don't act it nor say it!)  Too many walls and gates and guards.  Our landlord is even putting up razor wire and electric wiring above our walls for more protection.  Sad that it has to be this way.  Hopefully a temple being built in Nairobi in the next few years will bring a little stability.

I didn't take any pictures last week so today when we went downtown to Ya Ya Mall to have Chinese Food with Elder & Sister Petersen (it's Sister Petersen's birthday on Monday), I took a few pictures.

And our daughter Michelle celebrated her 34th birthday this past week.  So glad you were sent to our family, Michelle!  Haven't taken the time to find your baby pictures.  (Traditionally I put up the kids' baby pictures on their birthdays).  And we've been on the phone a lot with Heather, listening to her plan her wedding and reception by long distance.  So happy for her!

Today I also added some more bird pictures to my post on Safari Part XI: Beautiful Birds.  You really need to look at the Lilac-breasted Roller in flight.  Gorgeous!!  I got to see it in flight but I wasn't quick enough to snap a picture.  So I grabbed a picture from the internet.  So beautiful!

We are awakened each morning to the crowing of our neighbourhood rooster.  Makes us feel at home (even though we don't have chickens at home!)  Giving someone a chicken is an honor in some tribes.  But in other tribes, you need to give something bigger than a chicken!
We had delicious Chinese food with Elder & Sister Petersen, then looked at some of the shops at Ya Ya Mall.  Fun to be with the Petersens.  They go home in about two weeks and we will miss them.  We two couples are the only senior missionaries in Nairobi right now.

I snapped quite a few pictures on our long drive home.  So much traffic.  So fun to see so many billboards advertising braids for women or smooth wigs.  They all want their hair to be soft like western women's hair.

Even advertisements for hair dos on overpasses.  Be sure to click to enlarge.

In one area, there were piles of trash that had been swept up and I thought, "Oh good.  They're cleaning up the trash."  Until LeRon pointed out that there's grass growing on the piles of trash so they must have been there for a long time.  Kenya is a beautiful country.  I just wish they would clean up their trash but it's just not important to most people.  I don't think they even see the trash anymore.

Fun billboard, especially with Mother's Day coming up.


Cute name for a funeral business!

Now we get into the election posters.  They are everywhere!



Any place that can be reached is plastered with posters.

And then the other parties come along and rip down the posters.  What a mess!

Imagine how costly to print so many posters and then to paste them on to walls.  We've seen a man with a big bucket of paste gluing the posters on to walls.

The sad thing is:  Who will take the posters down when the election is over in August?  It will be a mess for months!

This is where the T-shirts end up that people from the West send to Africa to help the poor.  They end up being sold on the street.

Hair all covered to protect from the bit of drizzly rain we had today.  The long rains haven't really come yet.  Add drought to election fever and you have a recipe for disaster.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Safari Part XII: Lovely Landscapes of the Masai Mara

This is my last post of our photos from our Safari to the Masai Mara.  I love the open prairie lands (called the savanna).  It reminds me of home on the prairies of southern Alberta.  Except that the animals are VERY different.





Termite mounds dot the land.

The Mara had a bit of rain recently and when the rains come, the termites burrow their way out of their mounds.






Lovely view from our lodge.


Our little hobbit houses at the Lodge.

This is a cactus tree.  The trunk is made of bark.  Very different from what you think of when you think of cactus.
Ha ha.  Not so much scenery but don't you love the warthog?  We only saw a few so I didn't do a separate post.  But I had to include this picture somewher.

We only saw a few buffalo, so once again I didn't do a boast about buffalo.  So will put it here.  African buffalo are very different from American bison.

Beautiful lily pond.
We saw hundreds of elephant gathered in one spot but it looks like I never got a picture.  Sad.

And another buffalo keeping cool in the water.











Safari Part XI: Beautiful Birds

I remember watching my mother stop her work and grab the binoculars as she noticed a flash of color in the trees outside our home on the farm north of Taber, Alberta, Canada.  Since then, I too keep my binoculars and bird book handy.  And it's no different here in Kenya.  I was so pleased that our guide at the Masai Mara, Harrison, knew the names of the birds that we saw in the Masai Mara.  Just wish I could remember all he told us.

My favorite birds are now the crowned crane and the lilac breasted roller.  See end of the post for gorgeous pictures of the lilac roller in flight.  I saw it in flight but couldn't take a picture fast enough.
 

The Crowned Crane has become my favorite bird here in Kenya.  Click to enlarge.  Love the crested hairdo and the lovely colors.


Look how striking the Crowned Crane is as it flaps its wings.
The Crowned Cranes act like they are posing for a photograph.  So striking!
And now the one on the right has straightened out its neck as if to say, "Look at me!"  Yes, I could look at you for a long time.
We saw many Crested Cranes.  Love the way they hold up one leg.
I took several pictures of these cranes and it was hard to choose what photo to leave out.
People have raised ostriches in Alberta, including our neighbor, the Layton family.  But it's so nice to see them in their native habitat.

Love that long neck and tiny head.

 
The lilac breasted roller is a striking bird, especially when it flies.  Gorgeous!  The lilac breasted roller is sitting in a sausage tree.  The real name of the tree is "kigelia" but it is called a sausage tree because of the sausage-like fruit that you can see in the photo.  The fresh fruit is poisonous but can become edible by drying or roasting.

Another view of a lilac breasted roller.  Not a fantastic picture, but you get the idea.  These birds are gorgeous in flight.  See two pictures at the end of this post.  They are not mine but I did see them flying.

This looks almost like a meadow-lark.  I haven't been able to discover what it's called.  Help me out, someone out there.  I did a search by dropping the photo into an image finder and the best guess was that "this is a bird!"  Very helpful!  My niece Nancy discovered that this is a Yellow-throated Longclaw.  Thanks, Nancy!  And yes, from the front it does look like a meadowlark.


This is either a Martial Eagle or a Snake Eagle.  I can't see its legs so I don't know for sure.



This white stork has an injured leg.  The pink one is the good one and the white one is the injured one.


 
This reminds me of a little killdeer from back home but is actually a spur-winged plover.

Yellow-billed stork.

The yellow legs and the bright white spot on the forehead identify this as an African Wattled Plover.  Looks like the camera focused on the background instead of the bird and I didn't notice.  My eyes are getting worse.

We see hamerkops from time to time near where we stay in Karen in Nairobi.

Hamerkops build gigantic nests.  The thick backward pointing crest makes it easy to identify.
 
African Fish Eagle.  Love the background.

I need help identifying this bird also.

Click to enlarge this picture. This is a yellow-billed oxpecker.  Its bill is basically yellow with a red tip.  Oxpeckers eat ticks and other insects harmful to animals.


This oxpecker on the back of a warthog is a red-billed oxpecker.  Its bill is entirely red.  Click to enlarge.
Need help identifying these birds too.  I'm fighting a cold and my head is thick.  I'll keep trying to track them down.  Again, google image finder says "best guess is that it is a bird."  Once again, my niece Nancy has identified these birds.  They are storks.  Somehow I thought they would be some kind of vulture.  But no, they are Abdim's Storks!




These final two pictures need to be identified also.  They are the same bird.  Thanks to my niece, Nancy, these birds are spur-winged geese.  Good job, Nancy!


Lilac breasted roller in flight.  Not my picture but I did see them flying and this is what they look like.

Another picture of the lilac breasted roller which I did not take.  Gorgeous!