Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Helping to Train Kenyan Church Leaders

President Msane, our mission president, asked Elder Torrie and me to help train the leaders of the districts and branches.  Many of them are fairly new in the church and they are always happy to learn how things should be done.  They are humble, good men.  In our Church, men are leaders of wards and branches, districts and stakes, and women lead in Relief Society, Primary, and Young Women.  Men and women have different responsibilities in the church and they are all needed.  This training session was for the men this time.  I trained them on how to fill out new convert baptism records and Elder Torrie taught them about using the Lord's sacred funds from members' tithing and fast offerings in their branches and wards and how important accountability is.  Church leaders throughout the world do not receive pay for their church work; they all have day jobs to support their families.

Here I am ready to face "The Men."  I'm wearing my new Kazuri beads that I like so much.  I talked about the Kazuri Bead Factory in an earlier post.  It was started 40 years ago to give single mothers a chance to earn a living.  All the beads are handmade and hand painted.

The training took place at the Mission Home.

I didn't get pictures of everyone but here are some of the great men who serve in the branches and districts.  All church leaders, both men and women, serve without pay.

Aha!  I caught President Msane in one of his many happy moments.  He looks like a Zulu warrior, don't you think?  That's because he is.

A Happy Sabbath, a Lovely Baptism, and more Baboons

Last Sunday we participated in a baptism in our Langata Branch.  Gloria, a sweet little 8-year old in our Primary was baptized.  Children of members are baptized at the age of 8, which is the age of accountability.  Baptism is by immersion as it was in the days of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.  Remember what it says in Matthew, that Jesus came up out of the water?   Even the word "baptism" comes from a Greek word meaning "to immerse."  Because the Langata Branch meets in a regular meetinghouse, it has its own baptismal font (unlike in most branches where they use a big metal trough outside).

On the way home we again saw baboons.  There were about 6 baboons playing on the sidewalk and people were walking unconcernedly among them.  Oh for a picture!  Why didn't we stop?  There was no traffic behind us.  But it's normally a very busy road so we didn't even think of stopping.  Then we turned around and went back and the baboons were gone.  There were more later, but not on the sidewalk among the people.  Pictures below.

A happy family after Gloria's baptism.  L-R: Brother (can't remember his name), sister Hope, Gloria, mother Mercy.

The baptismal font is behind those doors.  Gloria is in front, her sister Hope behind her and her mother and brother and a relative and on the right is Andrew Kiserema, a counselor in the branch presidency.  Gloria's mother, Mercy Makau, is a Captain in the Kenya School of Flying and is a passionate Air Scout Leader (in Kenya Boy Scouts).  They have land, air, and sea Scouts here in Kenya.  Google for "Mercy Scouts Kenya" and you will learn more about Scouting in Kenya.  Gloria is also an Air Scout.

Elder Torrie played the keyboard for the baptismal program.  Here we are with Gloria after her baptism.  I was so surprised to see the beads she was wearing.  She looked just like an American Indian to me.  I asked her mom about it and she said that they belong to the Masai Tribe and this is traditional Masai bead work.

Gloria is enthusiastic about everything.  She's learning to lead the singing.

Now for the baboon pictures.  This baboon is much bigger than the ones that were playing on the sidewalk amongst the people.  But it was still very close to the road.

Don't you think it looks majestic?  I think this must be the Dad.

Now here is the Mom.  If you look closely you can see that her baby is hanging under her.  The pink spots on her bottom are supposedly to make it more comfortable for her to sit (or so the scientific people say: I don't think anyone has asked her!)  I would think it would be more comfortable to sit on a nice furry cushion.

As soon as the Mom saw us, she started running into the trees so this picture is a bit blurry.  But you can see her baby clinging to her.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Kenya Mormon Helping Hands Day

Yesterday was a Kenya country-wide "Mormon Helping Hands" Day.  "Mormon Helping Hands" is a program that the Church started in 1998 in Brazil.  It was originally started to help countries during times of natural disasters but the program also encourages members to band together and give community service.  Yesterday, the wards and branches in the Nairobi West Stake gave service by planting trees in various places.  I didn't think a person needed to plant trees here in Kenya but I found out differently.  Not all places have as many beautiful trees as the Karen area of Nairobi, which is where we live.

Our Langata Branch joined with Rongai Ward to plant trees at a community hospital in Rongai.  It was a very dry place and very lacking in trees.  Hopefully the little seedlings will grow.  The ground was very hard and rocky and people from the Ward are planning to go and water the more than 200 seedlings by hand with buckets.

The service project was supposed to start at 8 a.m. so we were there by 7:45 and NO ONE was there.  We dozed in our truck and waited for ward members to arrive.  By 10 a.m. a few were there.  By 12 noon we were ALMOST ready to drive to Rongai to start the project.  The project that I thought would take up the morning took the whole day!  I wasn't prepared for that and felt a little cranky.  There must be a happy medium between African time and Western go-go-go.

We're waiting for the Helping Hands day to start.  Emma and her mother, Sister Baddoo, showed me a picture of them in one of our church pamphlets.  The picture was taken when Emma was just a baby.  Nice to know that people in the pamphlets are real people!

Here's Emma with her parents, Brother and Sister Baddoo.  Brother Baddoo later was sustained as our branch president.  They are from Ghana.  Brother Baddoo has a good job here in Nairobi working at a university.  Their family, consisting of three sons and one daughter, is very strong in the gospel.

Cute Emma

Emma is a very talented young women who has even composed music.

Primary President, Sharon Poche, with Emma and her mother.

Emma, Sister Torrie, Sharon -- all waiting for the Helping Hands day to begin.

Ah . . . at last.  Here we are in our "Mormon Helping Hands" vests, waiting to travel to Rongai to plant trees at the hospital there.  LeRon is taking the picture.  Can you see me?  I'm the only white face and the only one with sunglasses.  My eyes can't take the bright sunshine.

Here are LeRon and me waiting to go to Rongai.  It was cold at first so we had to wear jackets but then it got quite hot.  The yellow vests were warm.  Almost too warm.

Since there wasn't room for everyone to ride in the vehicles, some of the people hopped on this bus.  LeRon and I are in the vehicle behind and there's another vehicle following us.  We have a Toyota pick-up truck with a second row of seats.  If you can believe it, four women and two young boys hopped in the second seat.  Eight people in our truck!!  We had to really boogy to keep up with the bus.

It was quite a ride.  This bus went down roads that "no man has gone before!"

Interesting to see what life is like outside of Nairobi!

The streets got narrower and narrower.  We were so glad we weren't on that bus!

Here's a stand of some kind of tiny fish.  One of the women in our truck said that she would cook some for us someday.  I wasn't so sure I wanted to taste it!

Now the bus is trying to turn a very tight corner.  The men on left had to move stuff so the bus could back up to make the turn.

The bus barely made it past that stand of tiny fish.  Wow. 

Now we're trying to find the bus.  Where did it go?  Somehow we found it and were able to get to the hospital.  I was sad to see all the trash everywhere.  Kenya is a beautiful country but it would be more beautiful if people would pick up their trash.

Here are two of our sweet sister missionaries.  They serve in this area of Rongai.  Sister Ndonga (from Kenya) is on the left and Sister Gondwe (from Zambia) is on the right.  They are wonderful missionaries and very good and sweet young women.

Everyone gathered around for prayer and instructions before the start of the tree planting.  The kids had a great time.

We took Lilian (the branch president's wife) and Grace to the local Tuskys to buy some meat and buns.  We were glad we had Lilian and Grace with us as we tried to find the Tuskys.  Go right and right, then bump across a no-man's land of bumpy (VERY bumpy) dirt roads (well, all the roads here are dirt), then ask for directions, then turn left onto a very narrow dirt road, then left onto pavement, and voila, there was the Tuskys.  A much cheaper store than the Nakamutt's we generally shop at.  This store is definitely for locals.

Then back to the service project.  The dirt was so hard, it took a pick-ax to dig a hole.  Wish I would have had my good shovel from home.

This really nice fellow works at the hospital.  We had a great visit.  So nice that most everyone speaks English, albeit with a heavy accent.  But I'm getting used to the accents.  I'm also learning a few Swahili words (or rather, Kiswahili words).

Fanuel also gave me a tour of the newly built but not yet finished "theater."  I thought it was a movie theater, but no, it was a surgical theater!  This one is for mothers who need Caesareans.  It will be great for all the people in the area who come to this hospital and are not required to pay anything.  Nice to have socialized medicine when it is needed.

This is my sweet Gloria who will be baptized the next day.  She is 8 years old.

And here is the head doctor of the hospital--Rachel--and her cute little son.  They both get to wear the yellow "Mormon Helping Hands" vest.  I introduced her to the two sister missionaries.

All done.  Everyone is exhausted.

Now we're on our way back to Langata.  I clicked this photo of a donkey pulling a cart out the window.  The ladies in our vehicle wondered why I would take a picture of a donkey.  I told them that the only donkeys I've seen in Canada were pets that did no work (other than carry Mary in our annual Grassy Lake Nativity Pageant).

Cute hole-in-the wall business.

The Rongai Street Market is held every day.  Lots of businesses selling their wares under colorful tents.  You'll have to enlarge it to see them. 

More of the street market.  I took all these pictures out the window, trying to be unobtrusive.  Not safe for mzungus to stop but we had a load of Kenyans with us so it would have been safe but we were really too tired to care.


The physical fitness center in our compound is coming.  They said it's almost done but it looks far from done to me.  They brought in another huge pile of cement blocks.  I watched workers heft a block on their shoulders and carry it over to the building.  What a lot of manual labor.  Enlarge the picture to see the cool homemade ladder.

This shows how cold it is here.  Elder Arudo needs a scarf to work in the office!

Here's LeRon at home studying his scriptures.

I bought an electric mixer which I was excited to try.  But it was quite disappointing.  Could almost make 1 1/2 loaves of bread!  I'm having a hard time making bread here.  The flour is very different.  The bread tastes good but the grain isn't fine like it is at home.

I took this photo from afar.  I think their brooms are cool.  Just a long branch from a tree with dried grasses tied on to it.  It works well for sweeping large areas.  I've even seen people sweeping the dirt in front of their shops with a broom like this.

The neighbor kids are still popping over to play on the piano.  They call us "the music people".

I find their hair fascinating!

This is the "mosquito racket" we bought from a hawker on the street.  They sell them in stores too.  They are electric.  You plug them in and charge the battery.  Then when a mosquito comes buzzing, you just swat it and "zap" it's gone!  Works very well.

About once a week, we go out for dinner.  Tamambo's is a lovely place.

This dish is called "Kachos" and is the Kenyan version of nachos.  Very tasty.  Arrowroot and potato crisps with tomatoes, cheese, guacamole and sour cream.  It was delicious.

Our favorite meal is salmon with mashed potatoes and veggies.  We've learned to share.  They divide our meal into two plates and it's the perfect amount for us.

I absolutely love the bottle brush tree blossoms.  They really do look like bottle brushes.

A fully loaded bottle brush tree is magnificent, especially with the sun shining through the blossoms (not like in this photo!)

Our lovely Langata Chapel.  It's for sure the first chapel built in Kenya and some say it's the first in East Africa.