Saturday, August 26, 2017

Photographing Mission Memories

This is my second post today.  I'm trying to get caught up posting all the pictures I've taken.  Even as a child I was enchanted with photography probably because my Dad was into photography.  As a young adult, he, with his brother Clyde, experimented with the latest cameras, even taking double-exposures of themselves and developing their own photos.  Dad set up a developing lab of sorts in the basement in our "fruit room."  It had no windows so was totally dark when the door was closed.  My brother Bruce and I spent some happy hours developing black and white photos -- and yelling crossly at our younger sisters when they opened the door at a critical moment!

My first camera was a Brownie box camera.  I still have it as a memento of my younger years.  I think I was using the Brownie camera when I first saw Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming.  I was so excited when the geyser erupted that I took two rolls of film.  I couldn't stop clicking.  I never knew Old Faithful would shoot up for so long!  When I got the expensive film developed, I had 48 pictures that basically all looked the same!!  My family teased me unmercifully.

Now with digital photography, I take even more pictures and print them into books.  This blog will be printed when I am home from this mission and it will be a wonderful memory of the 19 months we will spend in the Kenya Nairobi Mission.  It has been a life-changing experience.  I have learned so much.  I have learned how much work it takes to run a mission and there are 421 missions in the world.  I have learned of the dedication of the mission president and his wife and the missionaries who serve under them, serving at their own expense.  And I've learned to love a culture and a people that are very different from my own.  I've lived in Kenya and have also visited Tanzania and South Africa on this mission and have also visited Egypt.  This huge continent is absolutely amazing.  We in the West have no idea of the diversity and beauty that is here.

Here's something important for Missionary Moms and Dads and tourists to take note of:  as of August 28, plastic grocery bags are against the law.  You can't even carry them in public.  There is a fine of up to $40,000 US and/or two years in prison.  Pass this on to anyone coming to Kenya.  I hope this is a step toward cleaning up the trash.

How I loved holding my Brownie camera by the strap about waist high and looking into the view finder on the top, then gently clicking the shutter on the side.  (I always thought the face of the camera was . . . a face!)  I never knew how the picture would turn out until the pictures were developed.  I had to take the film to Johnson's Taber Drugstore and they sent it away to an unknown mysterious place for developing.  About two weeks later, I had the precious pictures in my hands.  We never took many pictures back in those days because it was so expensive.  Now, with digital photography, we take too many pictures!
Now on to pictures of the here and now.  So glad we moved into this second-level apartment.  We have a balcony where we can sit out and read in the evenings.  Our next-door neighbors are doctors who work at the nearby Karen Hospital.  There are several doctors in our compound, all from India.

And our flat is light and bright.

The kitchen looks out over the compound of a Salvation Army church.  The kitchen is tiny and sometimes LeRon and I bump into each other as he helps in the kitchen.  Lots of cupboard storage.

We were happy to run into our former neighbors -- Caroline and her son Yaro.  They moved away a few months ago and we've missed them.  They used to live above us.  Caroline is going shopping.  Now that plastic bags are against the law, she carries a big African basket.  She and Yaro have lived in Germany and so are quite European as compared to other Kenyans.  Yaro is part German and part Kenya.

And then as we were visiting with Caroline, along came our neighbor, Faye.  Fun to visit in the store!

Faye's sister, Bethany, is heading back to school in England soon.  We'll miss her.

I've seen men carrying these long things for sale and always wondered what they were.  I thought maybe they went under doors to stop the draft since no Kenyan doors have weatherstripping -- except our back door because we brought weatherstripping back from Chicago when we went to Heather's wedding.  This man was excited when we pulled over to ask them what they were selling.

He said they were back scrubbers.  When they are wet, they are flexible and you use them to scrub your skin.  For 100 Ksh (about $1) I couldn't resist buying one and I made this man's day.

I bought a small one but don't intend to use it.  It's made from a dried cucumber-type vegetable (which can be eaten before it's dried of course). and is called a Luffa or a Luffah.

This is what the inside of the scrubby looks like.  You can see where the seeds of the cucumber came out when it was dried, leaving just the fiber.  Google says the following:  If the loofah is allowed to fully ripen and then dry out on the vine, the flesh disappears leaving only the fibrous skeleton and seeds, which can be easily shaken out. Marketed as luffa or loofah, the sponge is used as a body scrub.

As of this coming Monday, plastic grocery bags are against the law.  You can't even carry one in public.  If you are caught, you (residents and tourists alike) can be fined up to $40,000 US and or 2 years in prison.   You can buy cloth bags at most stores.  Many Kenyans carry woven baskets.  Some stores like Carrefour at the Hub provide these fabric bags at least for now.  They're nice except if you're buying something like ice cream that might get moisture all over everywhere before you get home.

We have the coolest slugs here that come out when it's wet.  Or they just come out for the fun of it.

This is what Faye and Joy call "a James broom."  James is the compound handyman who sweeps everything with homemade brooms.

And why not use what is on hand?  These brooms actually do a good job and when they wear out, they can easily be replaced.

I'm always astounded at what African women do with their hair.  It's either braided or brushed and when it's brushed it looks "wiry-soft."  Usually when hair is soft you can count on it being a wig or extensions.  But when it is "wiry-soft" it has been brushed.  Our talented cleaning girl, Cecilia, does her hair differently almost every day.  At least weekly anyway.

Cecilia wants me to put her in my suitcase and carry her home to Canada with me.

Cecilia cleans better than anyone I know.  She really works hard for the small wages she gets.  We're standing outside of the mission office beside the lawyer's office, which is just next door.  And above is a security company.  The funny thing is that every day, Cecilia, the cleaning man from the lawyer's and the cleaning girl from the security company ALL wash and scrub the outside sidewalks.  They get scrubbed THREE times a day!  We have the cleanest outside and the cleanest inside of any office!

Now here's a pile of missionary mail waiting to be taken to the missionaries any way that we can.  A lot of the mail will be taken by Sister Msane to the Nairobi West Stake Conference this weekend.  Some of it will go when our Housing man, Peter, goes upcountry to fix missionary flats.  Some will have to wait until MLC (Missionary Leader Council) or until the next Zone Conference.  Mail is hard to distribute and takes a lot of time.  Postal systems do not work here like they do in the West.

This is a funny picture to post.  The wall in our bedroom has been getting worse and worse.  We finally realized that on the other side of the wall is the bathroom shower.  We inspected the shower and found that half of the tiles weren't even grouted.  No wonder water has been leaking through the wall.  We checked the other bathroom and same thing.  Who can forget to grout tiles??  Building standards here are definitely not like in the West.  Today LeRon has caulked with clear caulking all the tiles in both bathroom showers.  Then after a while we will scrape off the paint and paint again.

Ah . . . We were in the cute little vegetable market that we like to shop at in Galleria Mall.  These are Shokeshoke fruit from Tanzania, actually Zanzibar which is an island off Tanzania.  Shokshoke is the Swahili name.  The other name is Rambutan and it is a fruit that grows naturally in Southeast Asia.  In fact it grows as easily there as do apples in the West.  It's a curious looking fruit!

These are some of the fruits and vegetables we bought at the vegetable shop.  LeRon has bleach-washed them for me.

To eat the fruit, you carefully cut the outer shell with a knife.  Or, the man at the shop  said that you can pry it apart with your fingers.  Then the white ball of the fruit pops out.

I took a bite of the shokeshoke and it was very sweet.  You don't eat the seed.

Apparently some people eat the rind and all.  Just not the stone inside.  They bite it just like we bite an apple!

This is the view from our balcony.  Still a bit cold for swimming but some people swim in the middle of the day.

Beautiful Nairobi

The days are gradually getting warmer although we're still in winter.  It's 12-13 C (53-55 F) when we drive to the office in the mornings.  A jacket feels nice but people here wear toques (knit hats), winter coats and gloves.  Who knew there was a market for winter clothing on the equator?  The day warms up and by 6 p.m. when we go for our walk, it's cool but not nippy like it's been.  It's actually very pleasant year-round.

And even in this cool weather, the palm trees and other tropical plants flourish.  I wish we could grow these plants at home in Alberta.  I love green growing things and it would be nice to have them year-round, like they have here.  This is a beautiful country.  I wonder if the people know how beautiful they have it here.

Now to everyday things . . . LeRon spilled a whole glass of water on his laptop keyboard.  The right person did it!  I've been known to spill a whole glass of milk.  Glad I didn't do it this time.  So we were up early to be downtown before the traffic gets heavy to take it to a Mac service center.  Yes, they have everything in Nairobi!

So pictures follow of some of the lovely foliage and street scenes.  As our mission is drawing to a close, I want to be sure I get all the photos of street scenes that I can.  We've lived here for more than a year and it has become "home" and I want to always remember the great times we've had here.

The rose trees by our flat are about 10 feet tall.  If I had time I would deadhead them so that more would grow.  I love the drops of dew on the rose petals in the mornings.  

My mother grew lots of irises.  These irises are over 6-feet tall!  Gorgeous orange/red blooms.

I can't get enough of all the different kinds of palm trees.  To my sister Arlene who lives in San Diego, California, palm trees are normal.  But even though I see them everywhere here, they are not normal to me.  I come from the dry climate of southern Alberta where it takes years to grow a tree!

A palm tree in silhouette.  One evening our little neighbor girl, Faye, and I went walking around the compound looking at all the flowering trees and bushes.  She loves flowers and trees as much as I do.  Her mother and I are good friends too.  Faye showed me where they had cut down a tree in January and now it has grown up from the roots and is probably 20 feet tall!  Imagine a tree growing that fast!!!

I made a batch of cookies to give the neighbor kids.  Ingredients are very different here.  The flour is different.  The sugar is different.  The only recipe that turns out the same is my brownie recipe.  I've made cookies a few times and they just aren't the same.  The brown sugar is very different -- too much molasses for me.  I buy a really nice brown sugar sometimes but right now it is "out of stock" as most things are from time to time.
Faye (right) and Joy came to get some homemade cookies.
These osteospermums grow to be 2-feet tall.  They are 6-10 inches tall in Alberta!  I love the delicate blossoms that grow in many colors

Lovely berries that hang down from the palm trees.

I don't know if you can see it, but each stalk of this cactus plant is actually a 3-dimensional triangle.  Does that make sense?  So interesting.

Love this silhouette

Joy picked a purple osteospurmum for me.  The petals are so perfect they don't look real.

Now we're downtown, close to the Westlands Mall that was the site of the terrorist attack in 2013.  It has beefed up its security a lot since then, as has every mall in Nairobi.  This street is full of shops.  Very different than the malls we generally shop at.

There are 4 stores in Nairobi that service Mac computers.  This one is an authorized dealer so we went there.  The two young men were very knowledgeable and we think they will have the laptop fixed in no time and hopefully for very little cost.  Nairobi is an expensive city but some things are much cheaper here than in the West.  They phoned us back this afternoon and have discovered the problem and will have it fixed by Monday.  Latest update:  They phoned us just now (3 p.m.) and the computer is fixed!!  How is that for service?  Because we spilled water, it's not on warrantee.  So costs $380.  LeRon thought he said $80!  Oh well.  Good to have it working.  We each have a laptop and we each NEED a laptop!!  After all, life can't go on without being connected!

Amazing to see the things people put inside their vehicles.  Bags of vegetables.  One time we saw a vehicle like this that was stuffed with hay bales!

And they carry lots of things in the backs of trucks and in wheelbarrows and handcarts.  All vehicles share the same road. 

Love this billboard.  Wish every country could want and have peace.

Now we're at the local Nakumatt store.  Nakumatts across Kenya are going bankrupt and closing down.  Sad.  But the funny thing is they are still selling things at normal prices.  They have very few workers in the store and very few customers.  No one wants to buy things at regular prices when they know the store is going under.  I wonder why they don't put everything on sale and close out quickly.  It's going to take years to sell everything in the store.  What does this have to do with a gorgeous bird of paradise flower?  Well, there's lots of these plants outside the Nakumatt store here at the Galleria mall (accent on the second syllable of Galleria -- and pronounced gal-air'-ee-ah).

We like to shop at this fruit and vegetable place at Galleria Mall.  We bought a whole bag full of fruits and vegetables for $14.  Prices are good and so is the produce.

Another dainty flower outside Nakumatt.
Look closely and you will see orange tips at the ends of the stamens.  Are those stamens?  We saw flowers like this in South East Asia.  Their long petals wave in the breeze.  So delicate.

Even though there are two mosques (this one and another smaller one) on the road between our place and Galleria Mall, we rarely hear the call to prayer.  We love hearing the call to prayer. 

And right next to the mosque is the "Scripture Mission of East Africa".  The building looks quite a bit older than the mosque.  We also saw a sign for the "Contemplative Evangelizers of the Heart of Christ."  Interesting to see so many churches here.  This is definitely a Christian country although there are lots of Muslims too.  I shared the gospel with the man at the fish counter at Carrefour and he so nicely listened to me and then explained that he was Muslim but that his wife was Christian.  I always have a nice visit with him when I'm in Carrefour.  Such good people.

This picture is blurry but I wanted to keep it anyway.  We drive past this place every Sunday on our way to church and many times in between.  I've always wondered what exactly was in it.  It's always closed on Sundays so that's good.  My neighbor, Pooja, bought some things here and told me about it so I stopped by today.  The lady makes curtains and blinds and sells pots and things to go in pots.  For 100 Ksh ($1US) I bought a bunch of dyed grasses.

I think the dyed grasses look nice in this Kenyan pot.  I'll of course leave it here when we go back to Canada.  But in the meantime it spiffies things up.

A close-up of the dyed wild oats!  The lady told me that she gathers everything "in the forest" and then dyes them.  Maybe we should dye wild oats and wheat, etc. at home and try selling it!!  Nobody would probably want the real thing.  They seem to like the artificial.