Tuesday, November 30, 2010

alive and well (sorta)

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I am finally breaking my virtual silence......we are still in Kenya soaking up cool weather (even cooler than we anticipated... I have been wearing the same pair of socks for 3 days) and fabulous friends that not only allow us to freeload but even cook amazing 'Merican treats for us even though some little girls that shall remain nameless throw their spaghetti all over the joint (We love you Janders)!
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Our conference was so awesome and a total recharge and time of connecting to people reaching out in similar areas (many WAY more hardcore...think war zones which also served to give my complaining spirit some butt kicking). We loved hanging out with the sort of people that appreciate cool weather, wearing Wazungu clothes, and proper lattes as much as we do.
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Anni made some great friends!
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Mmmmm...good eats!
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It has been so amazing to just be together as a family. I guess you often do not know how badly you need a rest until you make the time to take some. I am so grateful for this time we have to be together and be refreshed.
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The "sorta well" part is that we spent ALL DAY in a local hospital here to get check ups mostly motivated by our constant sickness issues. After blood draws, peeing and other fun stuff in cups, and waiting for epic amounts of time alongside what at times seemed like all of Kenya we got to see an American doctor who was very helpful. Turns out I have an amoeba...yuck! But explains my stomach pains for the past few weeks. So all of us are being treated so that we can stop passing this around. Our new family motto: Hugs & kisses are great for sharing ......nasty microorganisms not so much! Jason also might be "allergic" to our island which gave us many giggles and he now has a steroid inhaler that he will try when we arrive back island side. The idea is that is might help the constant colds and bugs he keeps getting. Hey, we are willing to try anything at this point.

I am sitting wearing a sweatshirt, sipping hot coffee, and looking out at mountains. Life is good. Rumor has it the family we are staying with might cook Thanksgiving dinner this week: WooHoo! We are thankful for a few more days of resting and being with friends. all blessing...kabisa.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

road trip

We are in Kenya! We are thankful for a great trip up here. Hence no updates for a bit....it all started 3 days ago with a boat trip (and no one puked! Thanks to ridiculous amount of Dramamine. Woohoo!)
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2 full days of driving. over 1,000km covered. and that is African roads so I think that makes it seem like at least double that. the dusty winding road was long but the sights are breathtaking.
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The girls did pretty great and although there were admittedly a few moments I entertained the thought of strapping them to the roof rack (I resisted) we made it work.... think lots of "I spy," snacks, rhyming games, singing, and even some naps.
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Only a few stops to get gas, pee, border paperwork, and a local place to eat which officially became THE WORST chipis and mishkaki (fries & beef kabobs....errr we think it was beef) we have ever had in Africa.

spent the night enjoying the cool weather of Arusha...blankets needed people!!!
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Mount Meru
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my favorite...shaking the car to get more gas in....I am sure that is not safe but they do it everywhere here.
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finally we made it to Nairobi.......first stop Java House for some wireless Internet, iced mochas, and a play ground.....the land of plenty y'all!
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Now we are outside the city enjoying the higher elevation and thus cool weather and waiting for our conference to begin. Anni asked me this morning while I was putting on some pants "Mama, why you are dressing like a boy?" Yep, it has been a while since we have been off the island and we are lovin' every minute of the chance to have some rest, family time, and enjoy the different.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

siku kuu AGAIN!

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Yep, we were shocked too. It snuck up on us. But before we knew it people were arriving to borrow pans, use our blender, bake keki in the oven, bring us food, inviting us over to visit relatives, and kids came over by the dozens requesting "siku kuu yangu." Siku kuu for sure.

This one is called Eid al Adha and people have to sacrifice an animal, usually a goat, cow, sheep, or even camel. Our friends here say this is to remember the sacrifice God provided Abraham (or Ibrahimu). Each family or community is required to sacrifice and then the offering is to be split into 3 parts; one for their family, one for relatives, and one for the poor. We asked lots of questions and most of our friends do not actually sacrifice themselves but say that their neighbors or relative sacrificed on their behalf. This may be because it is pretty expense to follow this or because many people simply follow the culture but do not know the actually meaning behind some holidays. This is also the time of the year people who have the means make the pilgrimage to Mecca. We are always learning more about the whats and as we live here longer we begin to get a better picture of the whys.

We decided that we would hang low this siku kuu since Evy is still recovering (us too!) so no far safaris like last time. We just stayed around our neighborhood and ventured out to visit a few friends that live about 10 minutes away. Still busy and tiring but much less crazy that last time. Our oven broke after only one batch of cakes so we had to give out lots of poles to neighbors seeking to bake their keki. But it also helped make the day less chaotic so secretly we were not that bummed. I went out in the morning with a neighbor and Mama of one of my shule watoto. We headed out to visit her parents but Anni and I ended up meeting everyone that lived within a 10 block radius. It was like 'let's parade the Wazungu around' through the mud (lost my shoe twice) followed by a growing pack of watoto who quickly became Anni's posse.
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We also sat for a while with the women as they were preparing the food. We missed the chicken slaughter by about 10 minutes (yeah!) but still managed to be given seat next to it's head and blood covering the floor while a sister of my friend plucked the feathers.
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We women folk were all put to work helping preparing, sorting, cleaning, and cutting the food for the massive quantities of rice, mchuzi (curry), and juice that would be the meal later in the day. As always it was tons of work but done in community while talking about the latest news, events, markets prices, and gossip (the women here can TALK!) does not feel like so much work (except for the heat!). The food was also really yummy....as long as you don't think too much about the process :)
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rumor had it one of these guys was gonna go the way of the ancestors very soon

Later in the day we headed over to our island family and then to some neighbors. We were weighed down with gifts by the time we left and given some sprinkling of rose water.
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It is an Arabic tradition used for praying that has become part of the culture here for weddings, special days, etc. Our Baba told us they were going to pray for their ancestors later.
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Evy & Anni enjoy some siku kuu spoiling!
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Annikah loved indulging in juice, cakes, and handing out candies which also served to endear her to children everywhere. Baba and Mama also were impressed by her kucheza dufu (local dancing) and Kiswahili. Show off!

Last stop was handing our cakes and candy to shule kids and their families and stopping to see some friends who have been experiencing some terrible sickness in their family. Some people believe that sickness can be caused by "jicho baya" or the evil eye and we wanted to encourage them and share the hope we have when we are sick. One friend told us she thought the evil eye (or a jealous person casting a spell of sorts) may have caused Evy to be sick. We heard their news and shared how difficult it was for us when Evy was sick but how grateful we are that God healed her! How even in the midst we knew He was in control and we have no reason to fear. They knew other children that had Typhoid and we got lots of poles for her.
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After more sugary juice, cakes, and cookies (think sugar comma) we headed home. I wish I could adequately describe the unique sights and pungent smells, the hum and buzz of activity, the brilliant colors, the hugs and hand holding, greetings exchanged, the piles of shoes at the entrance to a home but I struggle to capture the people and the life here. We continue to be blessed by the community here. It was a siku kuu njema!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

the heat is on...

A recent all day power outage inspired me to break out the "pools." I figured it was either that or sit and sweat and cry. Anni, Lusi, and Evy were more than pleased I came to this conclusion. The hot season is back.....sniff.....but to survive we will have many days like this. It is how we Wazungu type cope.
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Yep, tunapenda sana kuongelea....(we love to swim)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

now I remember....

why people LOVE this place so much!
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Now, I always can think of reasons why we are supposed to be here, what we are learning, and why God brought our family here but to be honest for a while I have forgotten the sheer beauty of this place. Having your baby get typhoid can do that to you. So can sweating like a pig wearing a long skirt and head covering in the market just so you can bargain for some bananas. So can power outages, dead things in your water tank, and the never ending bugs in your food. I digress. But this weekend I remembered; in all it's vivid colors, the beauty that is hapa (here). The fishermen heading out for a long day, the women is brightly colored kangas walking along the road with children strapped to their backs, the color of the ocean that escapes description. This little island we call home is an amazing corner of God's creation. And I am glad I paused for a day to really look at it. Take it in. Breath deep. Pray. and pumzika (rest) a bit.

A couple weeks back I got an email about a last minute deal at a resort here. This island is covered in resorts along the coasts but we have never been to one. They hire Masai to keep the likes of our cheap, kid toting selves out of the serene and swanky places reserved for mostly Europeans with too much money. But this email gave me hope we could pretend to be real tourists for a night: A place that in the high season can be up to 350 dollars per night was empty because of the election and low season so they were offering rooms for only 50 bucks!! I thought it would be fun to surprise Jason and use some of my birthday money to get away. We had this planned a week or so before Evy was sick and had to call to cancel but the owner said we could change the date since she had no tourists. We kept it in mind and finally decided after another power outage, finishing Evy's 3 shots, no food around, and visitors checking in on us that we ALL needed to get away from the chaos at our house. The morning of my birthday we packed up and started driving but there was torrential rain. A downpour so bad it was flooding the streets and traffic was horrible. We turned back (since we realized we forgot the pack and play anyway..argh!) and thought we would just cancel. Too much. But on the drive home we talked ourselves into going anyway and I am so grateful we did. J grabbed the pack and play, some crackers and pineapple for lunch in the car, and we headed out again through the now flooded streets.
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On the drive the sky was grey and we talked about how we could just stay inside and play games but Anni had faith. She prayed screaming over the rain "Jesus, please make the rain go away so we can have fun at the restaurant" (she thinks hotels are restaurants since most here have restaurants and we never stay at them so to her I guess to her they are just restaurants:) we do not correct her because we giggle every time she says it). On the hour drive the rain cleared and the grey sky completely lifted: it was amazing!
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The only one of us not shocked was Miss Annikah Joy (although during the weekend she was also overheard praying that Jesus would let us LIVE at the hotel for ever...at least the kid dreams big). By the time we got there it was completely dry and we were able to swim in the pool overlooking the ocean all afternoon.
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The room was awesome with a shower open to the sky, a "secret" upstairs where Anni and Evy slept, a huge bathtub with warm water, towels, and food I did not have to cook or clean up. It was fabulous. Like life affirming.
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We squeezed every ounce of relaxation (or at least as much as you can do with 2 kids under 5 in tow) in our just over 24 hours there. We felt like complete posers sitting at dinner alongside rich Europeans and I happily read my book next to some South Africans getting their tan on while Anni splashed away in the pool making way too much noise. Then I joined her for some "performances" that included dancing, diving, and singing poolside for the great price of mia tano (500 shillings) or a leaf picked from a tree. We stuck out for sure but we embraced it. It sorta felt like a secret life...being real Wazungu rocks! I took endless pics because it was my birthday and I can :)
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watching the sun slip below the ocean...we highly recommend it.
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me & my girls...........
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yummy breakfast! Anni highly reccommends the hot chocolate..fyi.
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I woke up in the middle of the night to nurse Evy and was so glad to be awake to just listen to the quiet. the still. no sounds but the ocean waves lapping up onto the jagged coral rocks below our banda. Refreshed. Grateful. Loved. Recharged. At Peace. Happy Birthday to me.
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