Thursday, September 29, 2016

What I Miss and What I Appreciate about Here

Our daughter Michelle said someone asked what we miss from home.  So I’ve compiled a list of things we miss from home and then things we appreciate about being here.  Pictures to follow.

I miss:
1.     Of course our family and friends!  So thankful for technology that allows us to stay in touch!
2.     Stores that keep things IN STOCK!!
3.     My good rubber spatulas (I only brought one and wish I would have brought more)
4.     My three huge freezers
5.     Being able to drive; traffic is crazy here so I remain the navigator
6.     The long summer evenings with daylight till 10 p.m. and twilight till almost 11 p.m.
7.     Working in my yard
8.     Being able to eat fruit and vegetables after just a cursory washing
9.     My fresh garden produce, especially tomatoes and green beans
10. Dry onion soup mix
11. 10 kg (22 lb) bags of flour and sugar
12. Cooling racks for hot cookies
13. Drinking potable water right out of the tap and from every tap in the house.

What I appreciate about here:
1.     The friendly, kind people
2.     The courteous drivers
3.     Being able to pay for things with our phones (it’s called M-Pesa)
4.     The green foliage and flowering trees
5.     The lovely flowering bougainvillea that is everywhere and in many colors
6.     The soft little beeps on the horn just to let you know they’re there
7.     The quick flash of car lights to let you know you can go first
8.     The lovely white smiles that beam out of dark faces
9.     The melodic song of the Robin-Chats that welcome the new day in the early morning (much like our own robins back home)
10. The many colorful, interesting birds
11. The zebras which have quickly become a favorite of mine
12. The high school students who look so professional in their white shirts and ties
13. The young school children in their school uniforms
14. The “no problem with waiting” attitude of most people
15. The lovely skirts and dresses that most women wear every day
16. The vigorous striding of the men, heads held high and arms swinging
17. The strength of the men as they push their loaded handcarts up and down hills
18. The interesting and colorful hair styles; women are constantly changing their braids and colors woven into the braids
19. I love associating with the wonderful missionaries, both black and white
20. And of course the members and those not of our faith – they are wonderful people!

These men dug this trench by hand all down the side of the wall and then across the lawn in the back.  All by hand with pick axes!  It reminded LeRon of when he dug all the footings for our shop way back when (when we were first married and he was younger than he is now!)

I was impressed with the hard physical labor Kenyans do here.  And we were also excited because this trench will hold the internet cable so we can get faster internet in the mission office.  That will be wonderful!

People carry all kinds of things on bicycles and motorbikes.  I once saw a couch strapped to the back of a motorbike!

They have all kinds of homemade brooms here.  With all the trees and plants, it's a low-cost alternative to buying brooms and they work just as well.

We often buy these tiny bananas that they call "sweet bananas".  Their long bananas look like the bananas we buy at home but they're not as sweet as ours are.  Our long bananas taste more like these little Kenyan sweet bananas.

The flowers and foliage are absolutely gorgeous!

We're here with our friend Moses whom we met while on one of our late afternoon walks.  Wonderful young man.

We introduced Moses to the missionaries, Elder Hales and Elder Wafula.

Now I'm at a little market, trying on a Kenya bracelet.  You have to slip it on with soap but since they don't have soap at the market, the girls used a plastic bag to put it on and take it off.  It took both of them to get it on me.  What will I do at home?

Aren't these girls lovely with their white smiles?

Now it's piano lesson time for Elder Wafula.  He's doing great!

Elder Hales and Elder Wafula are both taking piano lessons from Elder Torrie in our flat on Saturday evenings.

Elder Torrie loves to explain musical things to people.  Here he's entertaining Elder Hales during their piano lessons.

Aren't these the most interesting paintings?  Eric Mathenge paints black and whites as well as coloreds.  Very lovely.  I'm afraid I couldn't resist these paintings.  After all, I'm buying some as presents too.

Monday, September 26, 2016

My Baby Turns 31 Today

Hard to believe we're old enough for our youngest to be 31!!  Wow!  So glad Heavenly Father sent Eric to us.  He's been an easy son to raise.  And his two older brothers and two older sisters love him too -- sometimes nearly to death.  Everyone wanted to hold Eric or to play with him and not just when he was a baby or a toddler but when he was a teenager too!  Happy Birthday Eric!! 

At home I always put up a Happy Birthday sign for my kids' birthdays.  So Eric, here's your Happy Birthday sign from your two old parents!  And under the sign, I always put baby pictures.  So here goes . . . 

I was 33 and LeRon was 32 when we had Eric.  Oh my.  We look so young!  Doesn't Eric look cute in the baby blanket I crocheted?

For a year or so, Eric's hair turned a lovely red.  My Grandpa Hancock (my mother's father) was a redhead as were a couple of my aunts on my mother's side.

Cute little baby!

Eric laughed a lot.

Craig and all the kids loved Eric very fiercely!

Christmas 1985.  Eric doesn't look too impressed.  He's in what Grandma-Great Torrie always called "a dust pan."  We didn't have fancy baby carriers back then.  Just little dust pans that were much lighter to carry.  Michelle, Heather, Michael, and Craig are showing off their loot.

Eric was glad when the day was over!  Craig and Michael look like they could go on forever and ever!

Red-headed Eric in 1986.


1988.  He's turned a lovely blond with some red highlights. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Nairobi National Park

The Nairobi National Park is the only park within a city; it's about 7 km from downtown Nairobi and just a 10-minute drive from where we live.  Electric fencing separates it from the city on three sides; the fourth side has a river across which animals regularly migrate.

We were waiting till we had our alien cards to visit since it's so much cheaper as residents.  Our neighbors warned us that there weren't many animals in the park at this time of year and they were right.  But we had fun driving through it last Saturday and seeing our first close-up giraffe.  It's always nice for us when we get out of the city.  And not forgetting we are missionaries, we shared the gospel with people waiting in line with us for tickets.

This time we remembered to bring our binoculars and our big camera.  What a difference compared to our little camera.  And we highly recommend our wonderful binoculars:  Bushnell Excursion 10x42.  I've had them for years and they are great.  They're the only binoculars that go small enough to fit my narrow eyes and they bring things sharply into focus whether far or near.

Our first wild animal.  An impala.  Lovely creature.  I love those horns.

Gorgeous tree.

These giraffes were far away but came in clearly with our larger Canon Powershot.

Does anyone know what kind of a vulture this is?  Could it be a white-backed vulture?  Pretty impressive anyway.

And what kind of water bird this is?  I've gone through my bird book and can't decide.  It's got yellow around its eye and a very thick bill.  Hard to tell if the legs are yellow or not.  I thought this was a lovely photo with the reflection in the water.

This pond is obviously the watering hole for a herd of African buffalo.  They were nervous as they watched us sitting in our truck but they really wanted the water so into the mud they went.

This picture is very blurry because I had to zoom in so far to see the Oxpeckers that were feeding on ticks or other insects on this buffalo's hide.

Now it's our turn to be a little nervous as these big bulls started to paw at the ground as they faced us.  We backed slowly away!

More buffalo coming.  There were probably 100 of them but the picture doesn't show it and we decided not to stick around!!!

A lovely ostrich in the wild!

An interesting picture of zebras in the wild with the city in the background.

Our first close-up view of a giraffe.  What a regal creature it is!

This giraffe was standing so still it looked like a statue.

As you know, I love zebras.  I can't get enough of seeing them in the wild!  Well, that was the end of a 2-hour drive through the Nairobi National Park.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Do We Look Like Aliens?

We are officially aliens now that we have our alien cards!  Actually, they call them "foreigner cards" since so many people didn't like to be called aliens.  We are now resident Kenyans.  Now we just have to carry around our alien cards instead of our passports.  And we can get into national parks and museums for the resident price rather than the tourist price.  That makes it nice for Saturdays (which are our Preparation Days) when we can visit parks or museums.  We work in the mission office Monday through Friday.  Saturdays we do laundry, clean house, and visit parks if we have time.  But even as we visit parks, we share the gospel with those around us.  We don't get a holiday from being missionaries!

Below the alien card pictures, there are pictures of us helping celebrate President Msane's birthday and of a neighborhood family party that our cute neighbor children organized.  Enjoy seeing LeRon race on a bicycle!

Dickens, the man who helps me with immigration, is finally giving Sister Msane hers and President Msane's alien cards.  We were so excited that we were dancing in the office!  It's only taken about two months to go through the bureaucracy.  Now Sister Msane can get her container of belongings that was shipped from her home in South Africa.  For some reason she couldn't get it until she received her alien card.  Mission presidents are able to ship a huge container of belongings since they will be on their missions for three years.  Regular missionaries just come with their suitcases.

Now here's mine and LeRon's alien cards.  I wasn't waiting for a container of belongings.  We simply came with our two large suitcases each, which is what each missionary is allowed.  To celebrate, LeRon did "Father Abraham" for everyone.  It was hilarious.  Unfortunately we don't have a picture of it.

LeRon and I went with President and Sister Msane to Ocean Basket to celebrate President Msane's birthday.  All the waiters and waitresses sang "Happy Birthday" to him just as they do in the West.

A Happy Birthday brownie for President Msane.  Funny that he had to pay for it.  You would have thought they would give it to him for free.  Oh well.  It looked lovely.

President and Sister Msane with their yummy desserts.  Desserts here are not as sweet as they are in the West.

And this proves that LeRon and I were there too.

Bike races at the neighborhood party that the kids organized.  It was well-organized and a lot of fun.

Elder Torrie got into the spirit of it and raced on a borrowed bike.  He came in last of course!  It's been quite a few years since he rode a bike.

We have wonderful neighbors from India.  He is an anesthesiologist at the nearby hospital.  We always enjoy visiting with Pooja and Shrikant.

Here are our Kenyan neighbor and our neighbors from India.  Lovely people.

The neighbor girls of course did most of the work for the neighborhood party.  The boys helped somewhat too.

I haven't played "Musical Chairs" for years.  It was fun!