Sunday, January 8, 2017

New Year Busy-ness

Christmas in Kenya is not a season but a day.  Although there's not as much commercialism as in the West, there's not really the "season" of Christmas and I really did miss the season.  The New Year is bigger than Christmas here even though this is definitely a Christian country.  I've heard more Happy New Years than I've heard Merry Christmases.

It was back to business as usual in the mission office on January 2.  It was good to be back into the routine of things although we were never really out of the routine of things since there's always some missionary challenge that needs to be dealt with.  One evening we got a call from a missionary saying he was out of power.  So LeRon had to "M-pesa" (pay by phone) to the power company and then send a code for the missionary to punch in to the power panel so power could be restored.  He explained to the missionaries that they need to watch their power and let him know BEFORE they're out of power.  We finally got power restored to them about midnight.  Power at night is not such a big deal except that it's very hot everywhere in Kenya (except here in Nairobi, thank goodness) so they needed the power to run the air conditioner.

Paying with M-pesa is a really interesting thing.  You go to an M-pesa place (they're always in green little buildings) and give them cash and somehow it goes on to your phone.  All stores and businesses have an M-pesa number so most people here don't even carry purses; they just pay with their phones.  You can also M-pesa someone some money just by punching in their phone number.  That's where LeRon's had a few problems.  On Friday he needed to send 50,000 Ksh (about $500 US) to someone and he was in a hurry (why does that not surprise me?) and got the phone number wrong.  So he sent $500 to an unknown person.  Thank goodness he was able to get it reversed.  That's the second time he's done that.  So far the people have always given it back.  Pretty good for honesty here.

Our daughter Heather is very creative.  Every year she makes a unique Christmas card for each of her family.  This year she cut shapes out of the newspaper.  I love the cards she makes.  One last photo before I put away the Christmas decorations.  As some of you know, I have a Nativity collection.  I have about 45 Nativities and swore I was finished collecting.  But I did pick up a couple of Kenyan ones that I particularly like.  This one is carved out of rosewood.

We're ready to head to the mission office on January 2.  This rooster crowed that morning for about two hours!  We were ready to have it for dinner.  It hopped up on our truck as we were ready to leave and it was VERY hard to get it down!  James, the compound handy-man finally threw his coat at it and got it down.  Silly rooster!

We had promised the Naivasha missionaries, Elder Noel (from Washington state) and Elder Odhiambo (from Kenya) that we would take them to the Nakuru National Park on Saturday.  So here we are on Friday afternoon, driving from Nairobi to Nakuru.  It's not very far but takes about 3 1/2 hours or more to drive it because of the narrow roads and the traffic.  So nice to get out of the city.  I love seeing all the stands along the way with things for sale.  These sheepskins look so lovely but we stopped one time to look and found that they STINK!

All the gardens are up and growing.  Nice to see into the yards.  Usually you just see walls.

Interesting dichotomy:  donkeys pulling a cart alongside a busy road with an advertisement for technology.

Mt. Longonot is a volcano in the Rift Valley near Lake Naivasha.  I love looking down into that green valley.  There is beauty everywhere in the world.

So interesting to see evergreen trees here on the equator.  The altitude is quite high here.  Nairobi is almost 6000 ft and this area is higher than that.

Big buses are always heavily loaded.  This bus looked like it could easily tip over.  Besides crazy matatus (those other two buses are matatus--small taxi-type buses), loaded buses, traffic coming toward you in the wrong lane and people crossing the road, you also face speed bumps and broken pavement and pot holes.  Makes for an interesting drive.  No one pays attention to solid lines.  You just pass whenever you think you can.  If someone's coming toward you in your lane, you just move over.  Thank goodness most people don't drive super fast.

The Great Rift Valley starts up in Lebanon and continues on down through Israel and the Dead Sea and into Jordan (Wadi Arabah) and then to the Red Sea and then down into Africa as far as Mozambique.  We've seen the Rift Valley in Israel and Jordan and now here we are seeing it in Kenya!  So interesting.

Lots of vegetables for sale here.  So interesting to see how Kenyans market their wares.

We love to look at farmland as we go.  The crops are starting to grow here.

So excited to see a pivot!!  There were a few a long the way (a very few!)

African women are continually going to hairdresses to get their hair braided in different fashions.  They braid colored fibers into their naturally wiry hair.  Any time you see a color, you know it's some kind of fiber woven in.  And if it looks very smooth (like a western woman's hair) you know it's a wig.

Driving down the street in Nakuru you see all kinds of shops with everything you can imagine for sale.  We noticed that we were the only white people around.

We loved seeing the hustle and bustle of life here in Nakuru.

So fun to see the people going about their late afternoon business.  Since it gets dark by 7 p.m., people are out doing their last-minute shopping.  It reminded us a lot of some of the market places we've seen in Thailand or in Viet Nam.  We had a good feeling about Nakuru.  Lots of friendly nice people.

We met up with the missionaries, Elder Odhiambo and Elder Noel, Friday evening so we could find out where they lived to pick them up early Saturday morning.  Since there are no addresses, we had to find them Friday evening.  We phoned them and they said they would be walking along the highway.  We told them that we would be the only white people in a silver truck.  They stood out like sore thumbs (and so did we) and we found them easily.

Had to get a picture with me in it.  I always wear sunglasses because I find the sun very bright here on the equator.  I don't know why most Kenyans don't wear sunglasses.  Missionaries aren't allowed to wear sunglasses unless they have a medical reason, which I do.  And besides that, seniors don't have to follow the same rules that young missionaries do!  But ever since I had the retinal tears in my right eye (and surgery on them), the sun has really bothered my eyes.

These two children wanted me to take their picture but I think really they wanted money.  They didn't speak much English and I don't speak Swahili so I could plead ignorance.  But really, it's against mission rules to give people money.  All we have to offer is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Our Africa South East Area President is very firm on that.  We harm people more than we help them when we give them hand-outs.  Our goal is to help people to become self-reliant.  And we do that by offering them the gospel of Jesus Christ and then they help themselves.

Now we're on the 6th floor of our hotel.  It's a new hotel, only opened for a year.  It's right downtown but there was good soundproofing.  At night we only heard dogs barking a time or two.  I had found the hotel on the internet and it turned out to be really nice and in the perfect location between the missionaries apartment and the National Park.  Just a 10-minute drive in one direction to the missionary apartment and a 10-minute drive in the other direction to the park.  You can see Lake Nakuru just behind LeRon's shoulder.

Took some pictures from the 6th floor of the hotel.  I love the street scenes.

The Jacaranda trees are coming back into blossom.  They have purpley-blue blossoms and a heavenly scent.  You can see them just behind me.  They were blossoming a couple of months ago and now they're blossoming again.  Trees back home only blossom once a year!  Here it is about 6:30 p.m. and it's not hot but it's not as cold as in Nairobi in the evenings.  In Nairobi, as soon as the sun goes behind a cloud, or as soon as it drops to the horizon, it gets VERY chilly.  But here it was just nicely warm.

This was our hotel right in the midst of a bustling city.  The only problem with it was no air conditioning and you can't open the windows because of the mosquitoes.  Nakuru doesn't cool down as much at night as Nairobi does.  (We're glad to live in Nairobi!)  After we climbed into bed, we thought that we ought to ask for a fan but we were too tired to do it.  Bad decision.  Was hot all night so we tossed and turned all night.

Another view from the roof of the hotel.  People actually live in that small shack.

More street scenes from the hotel roof.

I'm pretty sure a family lives here.

And notice that this is half a house.  Looks like it was just broken apart!

This might be a boarding school.  Children were playing in the playground earlier and there are numbers by the windows like they are dorm rooms or something.  Doesn't look like a very high-class boarding school.  Boarding schools are really big here in Kenya.  Or more likely it is an orphanage.  There are also lots of orphanages here as the life expectancy of adults is 59.  The median age in Kenya is 18!! 

The sun going down over Nakuru.  It's about 6:45 p.m.  We have longer days here in Kenya right now than they do in Alberta Canada.  In the winter in Alberta, the sun rises about 8 a.m. and sets about 4:30 p.m.  (Of course in the summer the sun rises at 5:30 a.m. and sets at 10 p.m.)  Here in Kenya, it rises about 6:30 a.m. and sets about 6:30 p.m. year round.  It used to bother me at first but doesn't anymore.  I'm too tired by evening anyway and besides that, I don't have a yard to take care of.


  1. Great view from the hotel! Sorry about the lack of A/C. :(

  2. So fun to read and see all of this! Thanks for posting!