Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's been just over 2 weeks

11-19 Happy Birthday Brother Philip!

My little brother is 24 yrs old today! Wow! I am so proud of him (not because he’s 24).

I woke up this morning, got out of bed, and found a spider the size of my head. Ok, not even close, but it was still a nice sized spider. It was just chillin on the net over my bed. Thank God for nets. This guy looked like the same one from the first day I had arrived. The moments that ensued became the battle of the century… I started with peace in mind, trying to get it on the Clif bar wrapper (good call Kirstin on the Clif bars, and flavor, peanut butter), so I could get it outside. After many attempts with it scurrying away, it finally fell onto my shoes, which were not on my feet at the time. I shook it but no spider appeared. After looking for a few moments I decided to I’d continue my day and make sure my sheets were cleared when I went to bed. At that moment I saw it on my bed. I went to grab it, but it disappeared. Looked around and finally saw it. We staring each other eye to eye, neither of us backing down. The taste of death was in its mouth. The taste of morning breath in m-i-n-e. I decided that peace was no longer an option at this point. I tried peaceably to set it free, but my foe wouldn’t hear of it. So I unsheathed my Clif bar wrapper and prepared to do battle. I welded my sword, I mean wrapper, high above my head and brought down with such great force and swiftness that even the bravest and toughest of men could not bare it. The eight legged beast had never experienced such great power in all its life. “Parry, parry, thrust, thrust. Good.” The blow dazed him. It tried to get away but another blow had caused its eight legs to stagger beneath its body. It was at this point that I had decided to show mercy upon my formidable foe and grabbed it and threw it out the window. It put up a valiant fight and lost. I spared its life in hopes that in honor of the fight his opponent put up that had defeated him, the Great Spider would catch flies and mosquitoes that came to do war upon his worthy opponent (me). Good show.

11-20 (Saturday)

Some goings ons in Kenya now: The World Cup recently passed through Kenya and is making its way around Africa. It will eventually land in South Africa where the soccer/ football tournament will be played. There are a bunch of people living in Mau Forest and they are being told that they can’t stay there anymore. Not really sure why. Most of the news is in Swahili. So now they have built shelters outside of the forest and staying there. Also, the Kenyan government created a new constitution. It is being circulated in the country for people to read it for the next 30 days to approve or disapprove of it. Kinda interesting. Very few people have access to it. Wondering what will happen next.

A couple days ago, Collins, a 12 yr old skinny kid, was playing with another kid and had his hands held behind his back. A group of us were standing around when Collins fell face first into the cement floor with his hands held behind his back. Didn’t sound good. I went down to him and saw what I was hoping was a piece of corn… it was 2/3 of his front tooth. The kid laid there for a few moments, a few tears dropping, then he got up and we went to the nurse. She gave him some pain meds. Tough kid.

Some of the men staff members are planning to hike up Mt. Kenya. I was invited, so we had a meeting yesterday. So funny. Mr. Richard led, and in typical Kenyan Rohi fashion, had everything planned out about what we were going to talk about. If you’ve been here you understand. If not, just imagine the most formal meeting ever where the group has never met each other. Roles were given out and some other logistics were also accomplished. Anthony gave his 2 cents a bunch. Then we went over to the camping stuff that another group brought earlier in the year. We went over what a sleeping bag is and had somebody demonstrate how to use it. He got in and lay there. So funny. Only one or two of the 11 guys had ever been in a sleeping bag, and only a couple in a tent. I wish I had video of it. The whole meeting was thoroughly enjoyable. There are some funny guys. Mr. Mamba (says hi) with his ugali, a Kenyan food, comments were pretty funny. It’s ironic how I packed so little to come to a place where they have so little. Yet when it’s time for camping/ backpacking they seem like they’ve been spoiled all their life with the best of everything. It was like watching a bunch of manly men learning about makeup and how to apply it. I’m looking forward to this trip. We’re leaving Dec. 7 and will spend a couple days hiking. We won’t be able to hit the peak because it is so high and, I guess, oxygen is needed for the final ascent. There is sow on top, and almost none of them have seen snow. However, we won’t be able to touch it because it’s too high.

Last week a couple girls asked me if I knew Catalina and Sebastian. I said, “No, are they your sponsors?” They said “no.” They said they live in California and are on TV. I chuckled to myself about their assumption that I knew actors. I never heard of this Catalina and Sebastian, and that night guess whom showed up on TV? “Catalina and Sebastian” came on. Papa watches TV every night and I join him in the viewing of shows such as “Two and a Half Men,” “NCIS” (you can survive here family!), a Jon Ritter hosted magic show, news in Swahili and English, “Beba Beba” (Kenyan show), and others. I think I watch more TV here than I did at home. Anyways, “Catalina and Sebastian” is a Mexican soap opera that is in Spanish and poorly voiced over in English. In my opinion, very bad, but the kids love it.

I’ve had a lot of time to do pretty much nothing. At home I would occupy myself with something. I don’t have access to that stuff here. So I find myself pondering things and praying. I think it is good to slow down and listen. When I am home I try to slow down every once in a while, but here I have no choice. And the thing is, I have no idea what I am doing the next day. I can’t even plan for that. But I think it’s good for me.

Every morning I feel so tired when I wake up. I get out of bed and Mama has breakfast on the table at about 7:30. I have tea, Kenyan tea bag (KETEPA?) with hot water, milk, and sugar. I’m getting used to it. I never drink tea at home. Sometimes there are a couple hard boiled eggs or cereal bar things or banana. There is always bread and peanut butter. When I have a banana I slice it onto the bread and peanut butter. Mmmmmm. Sometimes I think somebody in my family told Mama to make sure there is peanut butter. Let me talk about peanut butter for a moment. Peanut butter is amazing! It is so diverse and compliments most anything. Bananas. Check. Apples. Check. French toast, pancakes, honey, nutella, cookies. The list goes on and on. PB and jelly, always classic and a staple for me at home. God did something very good when peanut butter was created. So I want everybody to make today peanut butter appreciation day. Here’s to you Peanut Butter. I salute you.

11-23 (Monday)

Happy Anniversary to my mom and Glenn! I reckon it’s been 12 years…! And as far as I know there haven’t been any black eyes or blood drawn. Let’s keep that up J

Around November and December in most of Africa, male circumcision is going on. If you don’t know what that is go ask some random person in the street. Daniel Komotho was educating me on the tradition. For most Africans this occurs around the ages of 12-15 years old. When you get this done you are then seen as a man. It is a tribal tradition that is honored. There are a few kids at Rohi who are going under the knife. They are bringing somebody in to do it. I want to see the looks on the kids’ faces as they walk into that room. Anyways, I guess if you are an older guy and not circumcised and people find out, they will strip you naked, put you on a cart pulled by a donkey, and have ask people for money to get the procedure done. Daniel was laughing as he was telling me this. You are not really a man if you are not circumcised and all the childish things that you do will be seen as the result of you not doing it. So if you are not, go talk to your doctor. Female circumcision, on the other hand, is very bad. Some tribes still practice this. Maybe Kirstin can post a comment explaining what she knows about it.

Went to street church yesterday. The food being handed out at the end became, as usual, a pushing match for some. But it was good. I saw a kid named Jimmy who I met a couple years ago on my first trip. He was at the Rescue Center at the time but ran away and is now in the streets. He looks healthy though and says he is doing well. I didn’t see him with glue so that’s good.

I was hoping this wouldn’t happen, but I guess it was inevitable. Kids at the school are asking for money. A couple kids asking for money so they can go home. I gave one kid some money. Another kid asked also. I got a call last night from Elijah asking for money for “finances.” It’s really hard because I know I have more money than their families, but I am not the richest American around. I also don’t want to just hand out money and be known for that. But I also want to be a good steward and generous. Does that mean handing out money? Not necessarily. Are there times for that? Definitely. But when they see me as the moneybag and that is what I am good for, then I have a problem. So I am going to have to figure this one out and do some consulting. I like to know the people pretty well before handing out money. Uggh.

I am eating dinner no earlier than 7:45 pm. I don’t like eating so late. I don’t think I sleep as well when I do. I’ve been going to bed around 9 pm. And waking up a few times in the night/morning and feeling like I didn’t even sleep when I wake up at 6:30-7am. I am sleeping more here than I did at home. Is it because of eating right before bed? I think it’s contributing to it.

I’ve gone for a couple runs out on the road. All the kids start yelling, “How are you?” and “mzungu.” Some run with me for a bit. But everybody takes a long look. I think at my white legs. A man introduced himself as Snake ran with me for a bit the other day. He was talking about me, or him, couldn’t really understand, going to the World Cup in South Africa. I think he wanted me to give him money so he could go. I told him that as soon as he gave me a million dollars I would take him.

Yesterday I helped do some “slashing.” They don’t use lawn mowers, so they have long machete-like knives curved at the end to cut the grass. They just swing it back and forth. As a result my baby, un-calloused hands have two nice sized blisters on each.

A high school kid named Bakari asked me last week if he could wash my shoes for me. I hesitated wanting to say no. They’re just shoes. But who am I to tell him no. If he really wants to wash my shoes and feels like that is what he should do, then ok. So I gave him my shoes, and he gave me his nice, clean white ones, which are now not so clean after wearing them for a few days. Sorry Bakari. Now that I think about it, Bakari is one of the kids who asked for money so he could go home. He lives on the far side of Kenya near Uganda. Maybe he was anticipating that this question of asking for money would eventually come up and would soften me by washing my shoes. Maybe I’m wrong and bad for thinking that. Either way I like Bakari.

11-24

It’s been two weeks that I’ve been in Nakuru. I think things are good. The last couple days have been good. I’ve been of some use. I did some typing on my laptop. They were so happy, and impressed at how quickly I got through the stuff. I’m really not even close to amazing by American standards. Some of the people here hadn’t touched a computer until a few years ago. I’ll be going to the dump I think Thursday and Friday. I think I might be teamed up with Benard, a high school student, to go around and do the survey thing. Tell you about it when I get there. The evenings now are so beautiful. The clouds fill part of the sky in a puffy but dominating sort of way. As the sun sets, the clouds and the sky silhouetted by mountains on the horizon gleam an amazing orange. The wind blows through the thin trees, making it seem like there’s a storm coming, but it blows itself out within moments. Little birds, some flashing bight colors, sing. While other not so elegant birds gawk through the sky. The sheep, along with a little white lamb with a black spot covering one of its eyes, wander around the house looking for long grass to chew on. I’ve learned something: I can be utterly useless and bored out of my mind, or I can look at things the way they were made to be looked at and enjoyed. I’m gonna do my best to do the latter.

Thought of the day: There are a lot of black people in Kenya.

11-25

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to everybody! I'm at Cafe Guava right now. Things are good. Went to eat with Daniel. Dixon says hi to all that know him. Thanks to everybody who posts. It's really encouraging. I'm drinking a "smoothie" right now. Just remembered there is water in juice. Hopefully I won't get sick. It could also be that fish I ate for lunch. Not really used to getting served fish with the head and all. So, I will talk to you all later. Love you all. Take care.

3 comments:

Philip Vose said...

the camping trip sounds real great, ben. glad you're going with a cool group of guys. thanks for all your awesome stories. i think you write real well and create a sweet picture of your surroundings. how bout i illustrate a book of your thoughts? maybe? and the money from selling the books could go back to the people there? and what if i were to visit you a bit before christmas for about a week or two?

thanks for the birthday props. TweNty FouR yay. happy thanksgiving to you, sir. eat something that resembles a turkey flavor. oh, and something with your favorite, mash potatoes, texture. i'll eat your share of grandmas awesome banana pudding...SUCKA. you'd be proud of ellie she took some good responsibility of making sure the tables are set up with the right amount chairs for everyone. pretty cool. i've had a great time playing card games and soccer games with her. it's a good feeling to make her and the family laugh.

hope you sleep better. keep meeting awesome people and making new friends. you're always on the families mind. i think we bring you up about five times a day. helps with bringing forth smiles. again, love you and talk to you soon hopefully. cheers benny...

Alicia said...

So the link to your blog is on my bookmark toolbar, which means I see it every time I get online, so then I check like all the time to see if you've updated, so then when you do, it's really exciting and unexpected! I decided to share your battle w/ the Great Spider story w/ Amanda b/c it really showcases your writing skills, and she and I laughed and laughed... very interesting. I love reading about the funny/interesting goings on, and your intricate descriptions of the scenery and such. We can really tell that God is slowing you down, as you said, and giving you time to just appreciate his creation. Thanks for sharing that stuff.

So, today is thanksgiving, and I wish for all of you that you were home w/ your family, because I know they really miss you, but they know you're good where you are. Praying that you continue to be safe and healthy, and that you don't get sick from the smoothie or the fish w/ its head still attached. Be good, Ben :)

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