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.


  1. Wow! Those pictures are amazing. I can't believe you were able to drive those little roads, and things.

  2. Great experiences you are having!

  3. Love hearing about your adventures!