Monday, July 31, 2017

Missionaries and Members in Tuk-Tuk Town

If you can believe it, LeRon put on his long-johns this morning.  It is COLD here in Nairobi.  I've turned on the little space heater and pulled out my wool sweater.  So glad I brought my flannel pyjamas!  The middle of the day is nice and warm and our mission office stays warm but not too warm all day all year.  It's the perfect weather for us!  Nairobi may be on the equator but its elevation guarantees pleasant weather year round.

For the missionary moms and dads, here are pictures of your missionaries from our visit to audit the Kisumu Branch books and attend Sabbath meetings with the great people there.  Also some pictures of what I call tuk-tuk town -- Kisumu, which is on the northern shore of Lake Victoria.  Tuk-tuks are a very common and economical way for people to get around town.  The young missionaries regularly take tuk-tuks as well as matatus.

Because we drove to Kisumu rather than flying, we could bring packages to missionaries.  Packages can be a major headache because it's so hard to get them to the far-off places where missionaries are serving.  Elder Ngele (on right) had a package brought by a friend to Nairobi from South Africa.  Would have been far too expensive to mail.  Elder Covarrubias also had a package.  One thing missionaries need to remember is that they will have to carry the contents of their packages by bus or plane when they are transferred -- unless of course they eat whatever is in the package!

Now Elder Torrie and Elder Fraga have joined Elder Covarrubias and Elder Ngele.

Elder Jack has joined all the missionaries now.  These four wonderful missionaries serve in Kisumu.  They live in the same flat but do missionary work two by two -- Elder Covarrubias with Elder Ngele and Elder Fraga with Elder Jack.

Elder Boaz (center) is now a returned missionary.  He served in our mission -- the great KNM (Kenya Nairobi Mission) -- and now lives in his hometown of Kisumu.

And Sister Were is also a returned missionary, having also served in the KNM,  So nice to see her again.  She is planning to go to school to become a nurse.  We definitely need medical people everywhere in the world.

Elder Fraga and Elder Jack are companions.  Missionaries are assigned companions for a 6-week period and then they may or may not be transferred.  

Group hug time.  And I wanted in the picture anyway!  And these are my wonderful grandsons!

They are enjoying being together and serving the Lord in Kisumu.

In Kisumu, tuk-tuks are everywhere.  I call them tuck-tucks but most Kenyans call them took-tooks.  They are three-wheeled motorcycles, basically, with a canvas covering to keep out the sun or rain.

Potable water is a precious commodity here in Kenya.  You see these yellow water containers everywhere.  Women, men, and children carry the jugs empty and then bring them back full of water.  And you know how heavy water is!  

Tuk-tuks everywhere in Tuk-tuk Town.  We see tuk-tuks in Nairobi but not nearly this many.

People set up their wares beside the road.  I wonder how much they sell in a day.

Anything and everything is for sale.

Motorbikes, cars, trucks, tuk-tuks.  Kisumu is humming with traffic.

Another line-up of tuk-tuks.  So interesting to see them putt along with the other traffic.

A tuk-tuk and a car with obvious trouble.

I enjoyed meeting with these sisters on Sunday in our Relief Society meeting.  The lesson ended 20 minutes early but all were reluctant to leave.  So they said, "Let's sing."  There's no piano or organ so they sing a capella and I was amazed at how they could sing.  They wanted to learn more hymns from the hymnbook so they chose ones they'd never heard.  The sister leading looked over the music and then sang the song to us and then we all sang.  And she got the tune and timing right.  Their singing was louder and more harmonious than congregations in the west that sing with accompaniment.  The only trouble for me is that they always pitch it much lower than I can sing.

I wanted in the picture so here I am.

Then I was off to visit the Primary children.  Children ages 3-11 have classes and singing time especially for their age groups.  They are learning the same songs that children all over the world are learning in their respective Primaries.

Sister Okila (standing in back on left) is the Primary President.  I'm sure her name is not Sister Okila even though her husband is the branch president, President Okila.  Women generally do not take their husband's names.  Usually they take their father's middle name as their surname.  Names are very complicated here in Kenya and very hard for genealogy purposes.

The kids loved getting their pictures taken and not one of them actually wanted to see the picture!

More cute kids in the Kisumu Branch

Love this little boy's smile.

For some reason the boys wanted their pictures taken more than the girls.  That's unusual.

Sister Okila on left, Sister ___ with whom I had a good conversation, unknown, Brother Boaz

Brother Boaz was once one of "my missionaries" in the Kenya Nairobi Mission, but he's now a returned missionary, serving in the branch as Branch Mission Leader.  And today they were about to have two baptisms.  I was lucky to be there for them.

Elder Ngele (on left) and Elder Covarrubias (on right) with two young men to whom they taught the gospel and these men are now ready to be baptized.

We're all outside near the tank that serves s the baptismal font.  Somehow I never got a picture of the actual font.

Everyone is so happy that these young men have chosen to be baptized.

Here's Elder Ngele after the baptism.  So happy to have been an instrument in the hands of God to bring souls to Christ.

Elder Jack and Elder Covarrubias

Happy Elder Fraga

Tea Fields of Kericho

This is the third (and probably last) time that we will see the tea fields near Kericho, which is between Nairobi and Kisumu.  Even though we don't drink tea, we love to see the tea fields.  See to understand the Lord's Law of Health, or what we simply call The Word of Wisdom.  Though we don't drink it, we certainly enjoy the beautiful of the fields!

Tea cultivation takes a lot of manual labor.  The workers live in these houses and others similar.  They don't seem to have too many windows which would be hard for me as I love windows and I get claustrophobic when I can't look out on a regular basis.

The tea fields are a lovely yellowish-green.  Workers clip the top leaves every three days and they toss them into bags they carry on their backs.  Click to enlarge so you can see the workers.

We saw an interesting contraption that we haven't seen before.  These men were pulling a heavy motorized clipper thing that cut the top leaves off and blew them into the bag.  It looked awfully heavy to me and clumsy to use but leaves can probably get clipped faster and with fewer people.  See below for a video of the men working the machine.

Younger tea fields

More worker houses.  The white houses with red roofs are a lovely contrast to the green tea fields.

Farm land is always beautiful to LeRon and me.

Love the rolling hills!

These workers are carrying their full bags of tea leaves to a storage unit.  

I imagine a loaded bag of tea leaves is quite heavy.  These women are very strong!

Tea workers hard at work with the houses in the background.

I still don't understand how they know where they've been.  When the fields are all picked, they look like newly mown fields.

This worker was cutting with clippers.  That's the first one I've seen not clipping with his or her hands.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Upcountry in Kisumu and Busia

Most city people here in Nairobi have an "upcountry" home -- a home in a village or on a few acres somewhere in Kenya away from the cities.  Whenever there's a public holiday, people go "upcountry" if they can afford the bus fare.  And I can see why.  Even though we enjoy where we live in the Karen area of Nairobi with its flowering trees and lovely green foliage, LeRon and I too love to go "upcountry."  It's in our blood to love the countryside.

Upcountry, every bit of arable land is farmed -- they grow sugar cane, maize, potatoes, peas, rice, bananas, avocados, mangoes, pineapple, cabbage, onions, tea, wheat.  Such a variety of fruits and vegetables.  We love soaking in the beauty of the farmland.  And we love watching the people go about their daily lives.

Women and girls wear colorful dresses, and in spite of the dust and the dirt, they look fresh and clean.  They gracefully carry 15-20-liter jugs of water on their heads.  They can walk along easily without anything falling off; they can turn their heads and visit with their neighbors and whatever they're carrying stays put!  Oh to be so graceful!

Men and boys in their suit jackets herd cattle and sheep, often lying down wherever they fancy to soak in the sun.  They lie down on the sides of busy roads or on a steep embankment.  It seems that life here is slow and you don't need to feel guilty taking a nap in the middle of the day out in the warm sunshine.

Men and women both work hard in the heat of the day, cutting grass, weeds, trees, with a hand whip or digging with pick and shovel.  Or sweeping the road with a tree branch.  They are glad for the work which puts a bit of food on the table.

I love the bright smiles the people give.  They often look so solemn, but if you smile, they smile, and their eyes sparkle and their white teeth shine.  Or they give a friendly wave if you wave first.  They are a lovely, beautiful people.  So nice to see children walking alone and unafraid in the middle of nowhere.

Once we saw a young man wheeling a baby in a wheelbarrow.  And once we saw a crippled young woman on the road lying underneath a wheelchair and pulling herself along the ground with the chair; she seemed too weak to climb into the chair.  There are so many medical needs here.  LDS Charities does a lot of good providing wheel chairs and training for needy people.

And then there's the animals . . . So great to see a giraffe, zebras, gazelles, baboons, or ostriches by the side of the road and not in a park or reserve.  The baboons sit by the side of the road, possibly waiting for people to throw them some food.  The baboons are so ugly they're cute and the giraffes are elegant and I love the zebras and gazelles and impalas and other antelope-type creatures.

Below are some upcountry pictures.  And there will be coming posts of more Kisumu/Busia pictures, including some of the Kisumu missionaries.  Unfortunately the Busia missionaries were in Eldoret the day we were in Busia so we didn't get to see them but we'll see them this coming week at MLC.

We see all kind of things on the backs of motorbikes.  This time it's chickens but one time it was a huge couch.  These motorbikes are called "piki-pikis" meaning of course "picky picky" -- pick me up and give me a ride.  Some people call them boda-bodas.  (Pronounced boad-ah).  Originally boda-bodas were bicycles that traveled from one country to another (one border to another border -- hence boda-boda!)  The theory behind the bicycles was that the border guards wouldn't be suspicious of someone on a bicycle but actually a lot of contraband things were transported from country to country via the boda-bodas.  The boda-bodas (or the piki-pikis) are now motorized although a lot of people still drive bicycles.  The piki-pikis have to be licensed and the driver and passenger are supposed to wear helmets and there is a law about how many people can ride on a piki-piki but we've seen 5 -- one on the gas tank and three behind the driver!

Love to see my beautiful zebras grazing along the side of the road.

LeRon and I could hardly believe what we were seeing -- a man carrying a backpack sprayer, spraying a whole field!!!  How would he know where he's been?  And look at how the wind is carrying the spray.  We were astounded.  At home we have big sprayers pulled by tractors and there are markers to mark where you've been.  And you would never spray if the wind was this strong.  Things are definitely done differently here!

We love to see the creative displays of fruits and vegetables in the local markets.  But I still don't like to see potatoes sitting out in the sun!

Another local market.

And now for pictures of the gorgeous countryside with acacia trees and cropland and cattle.

Nice to see the scenery without walls and guards and gates!

Acacia trees, pasture land and cropland.  Lovely!

These pictures were taking through the truck window as we went whizzing by at an average of 50 kph, depending on the road and the traffic.

Kenya is a beautiful country!