Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Winter! Or Summer...

I haven’t had too much to write home about lately. Mary and Eric and their two kids are here as I said before. Because they are here there has been a constant flow of people in Mama and Papa’s house. Not necessarily a bad thing. Mary and Eric are good people and I enjoy talking to them. The only unfortunate thing in the whole deal is that for some reason we eat dinner at like 9pm now. Not really sure why. Mary and Eric got Mama a microwave, which doubles as an oven. Makes things much easier. Their three-year old daughter is frequently watching Pixar’s Cars or Dora the Explorer. My Kenyan experience will be temporarily minimized while they are here, but it is very ok. However, I did have a bit of goat intestine yesterday. I must say, it was not good. Texture, not good. Taste, not good. I also had a taste of fermented milk. I guess it is just boiled, spoiled milk. I must say, it was not good.
The last few nights we on the TV has been preachers, mostly Kenyan. I can only take so much yelling in preaching. It gets kinda old after a while. I don’t know why they just can’t talk. Their blood pressure may go down if they do so. Also, there was a guy on who was “slaying people in the spirit.” He called himself a prophet and used some verses in Isaiah to support it, which is ridiculous. All the guy was really doing was making some “wooshing” noises in the microphone, saying “Jesus,” and pushing people in the head making them fall over. I am pretty certain this is not Biblical. I have yet to read anywhere in the Bible that this happens. I have however seen hypnotists do this. So, just so some of you know, this is not what Christianity is about.

Christmas Eve baby! Picked Philip up from the airport yesterday. Glad to see him. He came at a very good time. I’m feeling tired and unmotivated the last several days. Don’t really know why. I know I am tired from not sleeping as much as I would like and doing a lot of traveling. It seems like everything is getting to me. Somebody asks me for money or I see somebody just sitting there not doing anything, I want to tell them to stop being lazy and get a job. Or the way people drive here. Things like that. I am kinda feeling like if I had to go home right now, I wouldn’t mind. Philip is here now, so hopefully that feeling will go away with some sleep and hang out time with the bro. I don’t even really feel like writing this. I just don’t have anything else to do.
Picking Philip up yesterday was quite a trip. It takes about two hours to get to the airport. It took a bit more time than that. Traffic in Nairobi is horrible. Drivers are not good. And the city planning for the traffic was designed by what seems to be a child. We took Sammy, a guy who works at the curio shop where the town office is, and his young daughter. They happened to be going to Nairobi as well. On the way there she puked. Poor girl. So that caused the van to not smell so good, but it wasn’t too bad with the windows down. We got to the airport early and waited. Airports are interesting places. There is such a wide range of people there. There were some Asian people, white tourists, Kenyans coming home to their families, Masai people with huge holes in their ears and beaded necklaces hanging around their necks. There’s a wide range of emotions too. Excitement to see family, anxiousness in trying to find the company picking them up, sadness in seeing their loved ones leave. The weather was good getting Philip, and as we headed into the city a dark gloom was over the buildings. As we entered Nairobi, it began to rain heavily. Within minutes rivers of water were beginning to form and winds were blowing hard. Bad driving coupled with the weather made things worse. It took us at least an hour or two to get through the few miles of streets. Big billboards, poles, and branches were knocked over. We finally got home five hours later. A couple people today told me that a few people died from the storm. Bad.
Showed Philip around the school a bit today and introduced him to some people, and now he is drawing and I’m typing.

Today is Christmas day my friends! I’m about to go to sleep, and most people I know are just getting their festivities going at home. I hope everybody had a good day and remembers the reason we celebrate this day. Americans get so caught up in the commercialization of it all. Here in Kenya, you would barely even tell it was Christmas. Going to church this morning there were more people dressed up than usual. Most of the stores were closed, not many people were out. There were the usual fruit stands and many of the street shops open. After church we went to Daniel’s house. He is the son of Mama and Papa. Had goat, rice, chapati, fruit, among other things. We sang songs, told stories, did silly dancing, exchanged gifts, talked, and prayed. It was a good afternoon. I was feeling kinda junky emotionally for the last week or so, but this family understands the meaning of life. And it was good and encouraging to see and be a part of that. I admit that I like decorating the Christmas tree, seeing Christmas lights on houses, and that stuff (not overly so), but seeing this family who don’t have or do any of those things, but have the true Christmas spirit is great. They love God so much that it shows in, from what I’ve seen, everything they do. My family at home is awesome and love God just as much as these people do, but things are done differently. I think my family could learn from this family and vice versa. I hope I can bring some of it home with me.
There are some people who read this, I think, who have different theological beliefs than me. And that’s ok and doesn’t change what I think of you or anything like that and hope it never does. And chances are I like you and you like me otherwise you wouldn’t waste your time reading all this stuff. I just want you to know that I am the way I am and do the things I do because of what God has done in me. I’m not a really amazing person, maybe a little bit ; ), but not much. So that is all I want to say for now. I love you all. Hope you had a very good Christmas and I hope to hear fro you soon.

I have a mean farmer’s tan.
Philip and I made slings today. Like the David and Goliath sling. They are so cool. We messed around with them for a bit today. Gonna take some practice to get the hang of it.
Philip made his first trip to town on a bota bota and matatu today. Pretty uneventful. The town is calm today. I guess everybody is staying home.
Just got back from town. We dropped our stuff off at the town office and went to a cyber café cuz Guava Café was closed. We got on the internet and shortly after that got off. The internet wasn’t working so well. We went to the street market where they sell all the cool art stuff and all the vendor people I know are. Started talking to one guy and then a bunch of them were around and we were all talking. Then one of them named Francis, nicknamed Ebony after the black wood (funny), said something and we ended up talking about God. It was a good conversation that ended up with a few other guys involved and under the eaves across the street when the rain started coming down hard. They are cool guys. Philip had a good time and we left them with some money for food. We ended up spending about four hours in town talking to them and eating at Rift Fries. We had good burgers and moquimo. The rain stopped after about an hour. We hopped a matatu and headed back. For the two of us it costs 40 shillings (about 55 cents). I gave the conductor guy (he’s maybe in his mid to lower 20s) 50 shillings. I said to Philip, “I wonder is he’s gonna give me change.” We arrived at our destination and I got no change. I know it’s only 10 shillings, and I care less about that much money, but it’s the principle of him trying to cheat me and get away with it. So I told him when I got out that I wanted my change, wondering what he was going to say. He said that it costs 50 shillings. I said, “No it doesn’t, 20 shillings each. I asked the driver who wasn’t paying attention to the conversation and he said it is 20 shillings. And then a few seconds later he said it is 25 each. I said on the way and all the previous times it has been 20 each. He then said it was changed last week. I said, “Right. Keep the money. God bless and merry Christmas,” and left. Ridiculous stuff. Anyways it has been a good day.

Went to George’s church this morning. He is Mama and Papa’s son-in-law. We had to get up and say a little something. The service lasted 3 hours. Fortunately Eric spoke, so the message was good, there was no yelling involved, and I learned some stuff. Not that I wouldn’t the usual Kenyan style (shouting…), but this is more my way of learning about God. Then we came home and worked the slings a bit and relaxed. We finished the day by having dinner at Mama and Papa’s daughter’s house. I’m tired. I’m looking forward to being productive and having something to do this week. I will do what I can to make it happen.

Philip and I finally started what I’ve been wanting to do the whole time. We took the video from the dump and started editing it. We don’t have much done yet but it’s good so far, at least I think so.

On Christmas Eve somebody stole the communication/telephone line between the high school and primary school, which is about 150 yards apart on separate properties. Lame!
A few days ago I was typing up a bunch of hymns and Philip was sitting next to me typing some bios of incoming first graders to Rohi. Here I was typing about how good God was and all the other stuff that is written in hymns, and here Philip is typing things like, “status: orphan, age: 7, dad died of tuberculosis, mother ran away, HIV positive.” Think about that.
Went to the dump. Philip got to see all the stuff and took a bunch of pictures. We took a tuktuk (3-wheeled vehicle) on the way there. We handed out candy and got some more footage for the video we are doing. We then went next to the stadium where there were some street guys hanging out at their base. We talked to them and proceeded to Guava Café. On the way back we saw some guy being pulled somewhere. His face was all bloody and didn’t look so good. Kamotho said he probably tried to steal a botabota. Things are going well.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Croc and middle of nowhere

Mt Kenya

I'm tired, but not in a bad way

I’m sitting here in my room. It’s 7pm and things to do are very limited. I do my best to be productive to my benefit. This stuff depends on where I am. For example, it may be going for a run or just sitting outside on the soccer field looking and thinking. Everything has a time and place. Right now it is writing this. I guess I could be figuring out the solution to America’s economic downturn but this will do for now. If you want to read just about Africa and Kenya then stop reading. I find that writing about whatever and posting it is keeping me entertained and helping me think. Reading your comments is very encouraging and I look forward to them. So if you are doing that the Thanks! If not, I still like you anyway, well, probably. I thought I’d tell you some of my top favorite movies. In no particular order: Cast Away, Monsters Inc, Iron Giant, Driving Ms. Daisy, It’s a Wonderful Life. There are others but these are the ones I can think of right now. If you haven’t seen these movies I recommend you take some time and watch. In light of this Christmas season I recommend It’s a wonderful Life. I’ve realized over the last couple years when compiling my favorite movies that many of them leave you with that “aawwww” feeling. They also have an incomplete ending where there is so much more in the character’s life left to live, like a sequel could be made. But it would ruin that feeling you are left with if that sequel was made. Don’t think I have ever made my thoughts be heard and shared as much as I have in the last few weeks from writing all this stuff. As I said before you don’t have to read.

I have always, since I was little, admired people in real life and movie characters who set out on adventures without fully knowing what the next step will be. To be honest I haven’t met too many people in real life. I met a guy on Mt. Kenya who is from NY but is currently “homeless.” He is in Africa right now and is not really sure what exactly he will be doing and going next. Also, when Kirstin and I were in New Zealand, we met a few of these people. The main character in the movie “Big Fish” leaves his hometown not knowing exactly where he is going. Benjamin in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” also goes on this long journey. I think people, in particular Americans, admire these types of people. Otherwise movies wouldn’t be made about them. And many wish they could do what they do. Everybody has his or her own reason for not doing it. Some are good reasons like responsibility of having a family. Some reasons are bad like they’re scared, or they make up some lame excuse. I thin some people would classify me in this group, although I think I’m not even close. Yes I am in Africa right now without too much of a plan, but there are people here kinda watching over me. I have traveled to a couple other places in the world, but this has only happened in the last couple years. Before this I was the person who made up excuses. And for the most part they were somewhat legitimate like school, sport, and I will even throw in family responsibilities. But I wonder if me not taking those risks might have hindered me into becoming a better person. Yes staying back and taking care of business is important, but maybe I should have done those other adventurous-type things. This does not always include traveling to another country, in fact, rarely does. Coming here to Nakuru, Kenya was a step in faith, not as big as these movie characters but a step just the same. I am trying to not be so planned out lately and just let the wind take me wherever. This may mean going to other countries, or talking to somebody I do not know. If you know me you know that the latter is way more risky for me. There was a point to this whole thing. Maybe a few points. Let’s see. First is to take risks. Take a step out of the boat onto the water. Peter trusted Jesus and did this, and he experienced something amazing. Second is that people may see me as being this adventurous person. I may come home and a Christian might say, “Wow! You’re really holy cuz you went on a mission, blah blah blah. I could never do that.” A concerned non-Christian will say something like, “That’s really cool of you help those people like that. I could never do that.” An unconcerned non-Christian will say, “That’s awesome that you went to Africa. Hope you didn’t get AIDS. Did you see a lion? I could never do that.” I guess what I’m getting at is that I am not very special for coming here. I don’t feel that I am doing anything that anybody else can’t really do. Sort of. All you have to do is make yourself available to the God of adventures and he will take care of it. Sometimes, actually almost always, the first step is into a very dark place where you can’t see where you’re stepping (this is not literal-please do not go into a very dark place, especially if they are religious affiliated-weird things can happen I suspect). Isn’t that first step part of the adventure? I don’t think I wrote anything I meant to say. Pole (sorry).

Rohi got a school bus, more like a charter bus, a few days ago. It looks really cool. Some of the staff and I took a ride in it. Needless to say, it was awesome! They were acting like kids going on a field trip. Anthony gave it a try and stalled it out, but quickly recovered. It seats 51. Tomorrow Daniel Komotho, Njenga, Henry, and I are going to western Kenya and will be back three days later. Apparently it’s a long drive. We are going to do the guardian visits for a few boys. This is when a member of staff and a few others go to a student’s home and gives the guardian a report on how the student is doing. We also find out what they are in need of, like a goat, help getting a shop started, seeds, roofing, a fence, etc. We then give what is needed to get this done for them. It’s a really cool thing. I will update on how the trip goes.

Just got back from the guardian visit road trip. Whoa, seemed so long. We left Tuesday morning around 7am and got back Thursday night, tonight. All in all we covered about 1200 km, or about 800 miles. And Henry drove the whole time. Crazy! I’m gonna have Komotho write down all the major places we went so I could map it out. First place Njenga, Henry, Komotho, a student named Emmanuel Noel, and I went was Benard’s home. That was about 7 hours away. We did stop a couple times though for tea and whatever. Kenyans need their tea. I’m starting to need it too. Benard’s mom was used to have a decent business but that all went away when the post-election clashes happened in December 2007. She now lives in a very modest, as in a very small mud house with metal roofing. She gave us tea and some sliced bread. We then went to Charles’ grandma’s house. Her house was decent sized. She had in her home her grandchildren and a couple daughters. I think two of her daughters died, so she is raising the grandchildren. We were served tea and given mandazi (like a fried bread). It was at this house that I was strongly encouraged to take a wife. I even had a choice of one of two women. Whether the cucu- pronounced “showshow” (grandmother) was joking, I am not sure. She was very insistent about it at a few different times. Komotho and Njenga got in on it as well and carried it through the rest of the trip. I think they and my mom would get along very well. They chopped a piece of sugar cane from their yard and gave it to us. This was my first experience of sugar cane. Good stuff. We arrived at our hotel in Kitale after more than a 12-hour day and five cups of tea.
We got up early and had a good breakfast that had, of course, tea. We then drove to Philip’s guardian’s place. His guardian is a man from his church who took him in. He was working in his little store when we came by, so the visit was short. This place was right on the border of Uganda and Kenya. I of course had to walk into Uganda. It was remarkably easy. Nobody checked anything. I, with Njenga, Emmanuel, and Henry, just walked across the bridge over the river where there was a decent amount of foot and truck traffic. It was pretty hot there and very busy. From there we went to Emmanuel’s home. His parents passed away when he was less than 13 years old, so he is staying with his aunt and uncle. He left home when he was 13 years old and was a street boy. He is 19 now and went home once before this trip. I want you to keep in mind that there are no maps involved, no street/road/trail names, and very few signs on this whole trip. There are also no addresses. We basically get to the homes using landmarks told to us from over the phone and memory. It is actually quite remarkable that we get to all five kids’ homes. Anyway, We get to the town/village near Emmanuel’s. We get there from him telling us from memory where to go. And we are pretty much in the bush- basically middle of nowhere. Komotho kept saying we were at the edge of the world. The small road/trail, we were told was not capable of driving, so we get out and walk. I’m thinking it is maybe a five-minute walk up this hill/mountain. We are going and we are approaching the top of the mountain where the houses are getting farther and farther apart. The houses are made of mud, are circular and have grass thatched roofs. We get to the top and Komotho asks Emmanuel where it is, and he says, “right over here,” and points his hand indicating right around the corner. We continue to walk for a bit more and start going down the side of the mountain, passing banana trees and small plots of land. There are some people out in their “yards” and the kids come running excitedly. Emmanuel is asked several more times by Komotho and Njenga with patience a little less each time, and he indicates the same thing. I see a house on the opposite mountain and jokingly say that we are going to end up there. And guess what, it was right next to there. So after about 1 hour and 10 minutes of hiking up, down, and up again we arrive at a nice big shading tree in the middle of five thatched roof houses. It was so cool up there. Beautiful, amazing view. So simple and peaceful. One of those things I am not going to try to explain. Only his cousin was there though because her parents were at, I think, a funeral. We sit there for about 30 minutes and decide to leave because of time. As we are going back his aunt and uncle are hurrying across a different trail to meet us. We did end up doing what we needed to do, which is neat. Henry was called from the van down in the town to drive up to get us. He was able to go about 70% of the way. You needed an ATV to get the rest of the way. That whole thing was really a cool experience. From there we went to Bakari’s home. We were served soda and peanuts that they had just harvested. His family situation is interesting. Bakari is a cool kid, as well as the other kids. Then we went to Kakamega where we stayed the night in a hotel.
The following morning we get up and go outside and find some people standing around our van looking at something. A guy ran into the back of our van. It wasn’t bad, just slightly dented and scraped. We followed him over to where he knew some guys who would fix it. I guess the place was an auto shop, but it was just in a dirt lot. If this was in the US, it might be called “shady.” So after that was fixed we headed for Kisimu, home of our president’s family. It is located on Lake Victoria. We got some netting for a fish pond Rohi recently built and then we were on our way home. The drive was not quite smooth sailing. The road was not the best in stretches. In fact we drove on the side of the road in the dirt rather than the “paved” barabara (road). Kenya is making progress in their roads though, and we passed several stretches where they were working on it. We stopped off at Njenga’s family’s home where we had tea and muqimo (like mashed potatoes with corn and other stuff in it- good). We got back to Nakuru at about 7pm, but had to get the van washed. So we didn’t get home until 8:30. What a trip! It was good.

Today is my mom’s and Glenn’s birthday! Happy birthday! Woke up at like 4:30 this morning. Not really sure why. I was really tired yesterday. Went for a run. The staff had a retreat today and went to Lake Bugoria and Lake ---, forgot the name. Lake Bugoria we played some games, boiled eggs at a hot geyser (so Kenyan), and had lunch. It was hot. Then got in the new Rohi bus and went to the other lake where some of us put on junky life vests and saw some hippos and crocodiles. That was cool. Then we wrapped up and came back to Nakuru. Another long day. It was fun, and I definitely don’t deserve it. The staff at Rohi, from the teachers to the cooks and sustainability team and guards are great people. I’ve said this before but Rohi Children’s Organization is a special place.
I came home tonight and Mama and Papa’s daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Eric, were here from the US. Good to have more people around. They have two young kids, so having kids crying, laughing, running around, and watching Dora the Explorer is nice and refreshing. Good, long, exhausting week.

I can finally cross off my bucket list: 3.5-hour church/livestock and produce auction. The cow sold for 750,000 shillings ($1,000).
I must say that I miss all the Christmas stuff. I miss the chill in the air. I miss the decorations, songs, excitement of those around me, being with family, sitting by the fire. There’s not too much of that here. My family sent me a tiny Charlie Brown Christmas tree. That makes me happy. You know what makes me even happier? My brother will be here in three days!
Where do I draw the line when giving and not giving money? I might be struggling with this right now.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jambo! (Hi)

Last week they started construction on the high school boys’ dorm. At the moment they do not have the funds to complete it. The boys are going to move out of the rooms they’re in now cuz those are going to be used for classes. This coming up year will be the first year that Rohi will have a Form 4, equivalent to 12th grade. So with the boost in numbers they will need the dorms. How are they expecting to get the money? They are trusting it will come. Simple as that. It’s kinda like a farmer. He sows his seed not knowing if the rain will come. Then he simply prays that God will provide. That is Rohi’s big project right now.
I was talking to Komotho yesterday about the dump. Complicated situation. There are definitely poor people there who need help. From what Daniel was telling me about some conversations he’s had with some people up near there, there are some people who definitely have enough money to not live there. The survey thing that we did last week, we were being directed by the leader of the people there. It seems as though she was having us going to some houses and not others. I did not notice this but Daniel did. It seems like there are so many factors regarding this situation. Kinda makes me want to go to them and tell them to “get a job!” But there are those who are definitely down and out. The structure they want to build for the nursery school will be a temporary one. Who will have legitimate reasons for bringing their child there will be sorted out in time, according to Komotho. So the process is slow going.
If you want to check out Rohi’s website, go to
I was able to witness Daniel Komotho laying it down on a street “boy” yesterday. This kid, between the age 18 and 22 (not sure) named Dedon (sp?) came into the town office. Dedon used to be at the rescue center several years ago but ran away. He seems like a sharp kid and doesn’t seem to get mixed up with some of the bad stuff most of them are doing. He went in asking Komotho for help. Daniel basically told him that he needs to take care of some stuff, and he did it in a very good, assertive way. The next week or so will prove if he got through to him. Daniel has known Dedon for the last several years and knows his situation very well and did not mess around when telling him about a thing or two about his life. It was very good to see.
I have recently discovered Snake and Sudoku on my cell phone. Needless to say I am exercising my brain by partaking in these games whenever I have time. I have done very well on them, thanks for asking.
Just found out that Dedon is Collins’, the boy who broke his tooth, older brother.
Went over to see the boys, oh wait, men who underwent the rites of passage. It’s been two weeks and some of them are fine and some of them seem to be walking a bit tenderly. Today was the first time I saw them, and my boy Evans, the kid I sponsor was among the 60 or so there. Rohi and another church are caring for them. I think about 15 of them go to Rohi, so many of them were interested in the white guy. After they ran out of questions, I whipped out my deck of cards I had in my backpack and showed them a few magic tricks. I’m glad my time spent on youtube was able to benefit others. I just hope they don’t get the wrong impression, tell their families, and try to have the devil cast out of me for the “magic” they saw. I could imagine… (this is where the picture goes into a wave and I look into nothing) As I’m sleeping at night, there is a pounding at the door and suddenly a burst of men with pitchforks and torches come in yelling, “Kill the witchdoctor!” (I’d rather be a witchdoctor than a witch. Witches have big noses and are green. Although I have a big nose, I am rarely green.) They cut the mosquito net around me and tie me up with it and drag me outside where they hang the net in the tree with me dangling from inside. Finally after much yelling, Papa comes out to vouch for me. He says that if I’m a witch the duck will weigh more than me (name the movie!) Except there are no ducks, so they use the sheep. They weigh me and I do indeed weigh exactly the same amount as the sheep. Because this has never happened before the elders deliberate and come up with a new plan. They decide I must prove myself in a race against the best Kenyan runner. Holy smokes! How am I supposed to beat the best runner in the world? So, I strap on my spikes, toe the starting line, and wait for the gun to go off. Bang! The Kenyan gets out in front and I decide to fall in behind him and draft off of him. We go around the first lap in an astounding time of 55 seconds. As the second lap starts I find myself focusing on the Kenyan’s legs. The muscles are long and lean and tighten with every impact. As the second lap draws to a close, he picks up the pace. I take a deep breath and notice that we have come through at 1:53 for a half a mile. I am amazingly relaxed as I listen to the beat of my heart and the rhythmic exhalations of my lungs. It becomes a soothing sensation as the lactic acid builds up in my legs and other muscles. I hear the sound of the Kenyans breathing and notice he is working hard. I continue to sit on his heels and wait. Coming off the curve into the straight, I realize that I have just over a lap to go and have to decide whether I should pass him now or wait. I decide to wait. We pass the third lap in 2:49 and hear the clanging of the bell signifying the final lap is now upon us. The Kenyan picks up the pace and I try to go with him but struggle as my legs feel like they have lead in them. I try to relax and take a deep breath. I remember what my coaches have taught me, and starting working my arms a little faster. The gap between us ceases to increase and is now at 5 meters. As we enter the final back straightaway I know that it is do or die. My breathing is heavy now and I struggle to get the air I need to feed my body. It’s as though a thousand pounds has been placed on my chest. The Kenyan is laboring just as hard. We start to make the final curve and simultaneously begin to stroke our arms faster. The speed picks up, and my body is screaming at my brain to stop. All I can think about is closing the gap as each breath is causing my eyesight to darken. Oxygen is no longer flowing to my head sufficiently and my mind seems strangely outside of itself. The Kenyan comes off the curve into the final home stretch first. I now focus on the finish line and will my sand-filled, cramping legs to move faster. Breathing, moving, living cease to have any meaning now. Only reaching the line first. The gap closes. 4 meters. 3 meters. 2 meters. The finish line is only 20 meters away. The gap is now 1 meter. 12 meters to go. The gap is no longer there as I come up shoulder to shoulder with the Kenyan. 3 meters left. I explode forward with every ounce of life left in me at the only thing that matters now in my life. It seems as though the last few inches now have become slow motion as we drive our chests at the finish line with such desperation as if life hinged on that moment in time. In fact, for me it does. I explode through the finish line crashing to the ground. Suddenly my pain and suffering have come upon me as my mind catches up to my body. The ground under my collapsed body seems to envelop me as I try to bury myself within its grasps. The world spins around me and everything is forgotten as I try to bring life back into my body with each desperate breath. My head pounds and the sounds of people around me are muffled and blurred. After what seems like a lifetime, the Kenyan comes over to me and helps me to my weakened feet. He tells me good job. I say, “you too.” I hear the announcer say, “3:42 for one full mile!” I lift my weary eyes to the scoreboard where I see through blurred vision my name first followed the Kenyan. I had won. The ground seemed to be drawing me down into its depths. As I lay back down, I realize that my life has been spared and I say a silent thank you. Moral of the story: don’t practice witchcraft, and eat your vegetables.

There’s a show here on TV called “City Talk.” This very outgoing Kenyan guy interviews people of all sorts of on a park bench. The people range from actors, politicians, activists, athletes and so on. Last night he had Dr. Frene Ginwala on. She is the former Speaker of the House (?) for South Africa under Nelson Mandela. Well she was talking about Africa and the state that it is in. She with some others have recently started this think tank called CODA (forgot what it stands for. Don’t know if those are the letters either). They are trying to get not just academia but people from all walks of life, like students and women, to contribute to this thing. It seems really great. It seems like Africa and the Africans, for the most part, are not just standing by and letting stuff happen. They all know the situation they are in, I see it on the news, talk to people here at the school and the guys on the street market, and many are trying to do something about it. I was talking to Kirstin a few weeks ago about how to get Kenya/ Africa out of the third world status they have and all the issues they have going on. There are so many things that are happening here that you cannot boil it down to one thing. In a ranking of 1 being the least corrupt, New Zealand ranked number 1 in a survey of 180 countries about. Kenya ranked number 146! That’s horrible. Talking to Daniel and others about it, personal stories, has astonished me. The government is corrupt from top to bottom. So, this think tank, talking about problems of corruption, human trafficking, global warming, the economy, etc, is the start of something very good, but will not be the end of all the problems. Many times we as Americans view Africa as this deprived, suffering continent, and that is all it is. Food being delivered here by other countries for the starving, disease running rampant, etc, but there are a lot of people here who are not in that “poor me” state of mind and doing what they can to help themselves and others.

Today was the guardians meeting. I would say about 200 guardians were there. These are the people who take care of the kids at Rohi, parents, grandparents, etc. It was supposed to start at 9 am. Naturally it didn’t start until about 10:40. And it went for over three hours. Basically the staff from Rohi gave speeches. And it was all in Kiswahili. I could have fallen asleep a few times. I was trying to understand, and was able to catch words here and there. Papa gave a speech because he is on the board of directors. Everybody has been getting a laugh the last week or so, cuz he refers to me as his last son. Anthony, his real son who is Director at Rohi, gets a real good laugh out of us. After the meeting we, Papa, Anthony, Mamba, Juma, Troy (missionary white guy) had lunch. It was a lot of fun just talking and listening to the jokes people were making. Quite enjoyable.

Mama was not here tonight. She went to help with a wedding or something. So Papa made dinner, and I following his lead. Let’s just say Papa is not a cook. It’s traditional around here for women to make the meals and men to stay out of the kitchen, although this is changing to some degree. Papa basically took some leftovers that were sitting out from last night (I was a bit leery about this. It was a stew kinda thing, and looked like a swamp. Seriously.) We poured that into a pan with some frozen beans, fresh tomatoes, left over rice from the night before, an egg, and some other stuff. It filled the entire pan and was boiling out the top. He then tried to put a cover on top of it, but the cover was too small. Oh well, it was good enough. I wonder how many cock roaches got in it. I’m laughing and crying right now. All in all it tasted good. We boiled some corn and had mangoes as well. Such a mixture of emotions for me. Hopefully my stomach won’t feel the same way.

I was just watching “e Africa news,” which is stationed in South Africa, one of the more up to date African countries. Of course there was stuff about the upcoming World Cup. I guess USA is playing England in the first round. There also was stuff about an assassination attempt on one of the country’s presidents. Also a suicide bomber in Somalia, I believe, who killed 19. Horrible stuff. Then there was the entertainment news. There is a movie coming out this month called “Invictus.” It is based on the book called “Playing the Enemy,” which I read a few months ago. Morgan Freeman plays Nelson Madela, Matt Damon plays a South African rugby player, and is directed by Clint Eastwood. Anyways, it’s about S. African apartheid and how Nelson Mandela used rugby to unite the country. It is very cool and I’m looking forward to seeing it. I recommend you see it. If you feel so inclined to wait and see it with me when I get back, I would be most obliged. This is for anybody, and then you could pay for me : )

Went to church with Emma. I was there for 3.5 hours. I think we got there before it started, but there was prayer going on for anybody who wanted. I guess it went longer than usual too. Every aspect of the service was a message given by somebody different. By the time the pastor got up to speak it was 1pm and he promised he would speak for no more than 15 minutes, which surprised me. Not only that, but he kept his word. There were about 300 to 400 people. When Kenyans do weddings, at least Christian Kenyans, they get everybody involved to help out. And it starts with the church. They announced that somebody was getting married and listed all the things that are needed. Then we started to go through each item from the 10 chickens and 50 kg of maize flour to the tomatoes and transportation cost. It was kinda like an auction. He said the item and how much it would cost and asked who wanted to donate it. We got through two items, and finally on the third and fourth items nobody said anything, so he said that if there was something you can contribute to talk to so and so. I was relieved. That would have taken an extra hour. After that, we came home and had lunch. Doesn’t look like the food from last night had any ill affects. Then we went to street church. There weren’t as many people there as last week, but still around 100. There wasn’t much pushing and shoving until the end. That was better than usual.

Got back yesterday from Mt. Kenya. I’ll do my best to describe the last 3 days. Some things though cannot be described in words, especially my words, so I will not even try. Monday morning we were supposed to meet at 5:45 am. In typical Kenyan style only four of us were there at that time. It’s ok cuz we were on the road at 6:15 with everybody in the van. On the way there we saw some pretty incredible views. We drove by the president’s land, miles and miles of open land. There were zebras, gazelle, and other animals there. On the other side of his land was a newly created village of IDP (internally displaced people). I am not sure from what. After about 6 hours of driving on some flat and some not so flat roads, we arrive at the Mt. Kenya check-in area. Nakuru, the place I am staying, is at 1800m in altitude. The starting point for the hike is at 2650m. It’s pretty windy and decently chilly as we start off at a brisk pace. I was thinking to myself that this pace will not last too long. And sure enough, it doesn’t. The road/trail begins to incline and does not show any sign of leveling out. It gets pretty steep in some areas. We rest frequently to give some of the guys some rest. Mamba sees that somebody is struggling (I won’t say who) goes ahead, drops his bag off, and comes back for the struggling. I, along with a couple others do this also. I thought that their manhood egos might be a little hurt for carrying their bag for them, but I was very much wrong. They were more than happy and extremely thankful for lightening their load. The first day we covered about 8 km, or about 5 miles, in over 3 hours and an increase in elevation from 2650m to 3300m. That’s an increase of 650 m for those who aren’t so good at math. I started out the day with a slight headache but nothing that would hinder me. That night I slept in a tent at Old Moses Camp with Anthony Nderitu in the tent that I carried, the biggest of the four we brought. Everybody else slept three to a tent. The next morning everybody was saying how hot they were during the night. Anthony and I couldn’t have had a complete opposite night. That was the worse sleep I’ve had in a long time. I was freezing, uncomfortable, and my nose starting to get stuffy and runny. I probably only slept a few hours that night. You can use your imagination on how bad it was. I don’t want to relive it. I got up at about 5am with a headache that grew during the night and a runny right nostril. We got going at about 6:45 am and I was waiting for my legs to get under me. Sometimes it takes time for your legs and body to wake up. Unfortunately it never happened. I hung in the back with some of the slower people for the first bit, but after about an hour, I don’t think I would have been able to stay in the front if I wanted to. You have to understand something. I am always able to do physical things fairly well. So this whole thing was new territory for me. I had to suck up my pride on this one. Perhaps God was talking to me on this one… Anyways, I was able to truck along until we had to go down one valley and up the other side. Holy smokes! Going up was brutal. Again, my pride was left at the bottom, at least most of it. We start going up and I’m having trouble. James Mosumbuko (awesome name) beasted it up the hill. He carried his bag and another person’s, a combination of about 40-50 pounds. Another guy Eston, who doesn’t seem like much of an athletic person, grabs a person’s bag and starts going. To give him a rest I take the bag for a bit, but I’m struggling. Everything was feeling like junk. I don’t last long and he finishes carrying the bag to the top. I get to the top and am dunzo (another word for done, but with emphasis). There are two American girls we met at the first camp. One is in the Peace Corps stationed in Uganda and the other is her friend. They came up that hill, definitely tired, but not ready to pass out like me. It’s at this point that I’m flabbergasted. What is going on? My head is hurting, my nose is running, and my body is tired. Not the most enjoyable of situations. Anyways, I get to where everybody is resting and look out at the view. Wow! It’s like you can see all of Kenya from up there to the west. To the east is the rest of the mountain. We were on the crest with valleys to both sides of us, the one we just climbed and the one we were going to go down and up toward the mountain. Walking up through that valley toward the peak was absolutely beautiful. There are no trees because of the elevation, but there is a small river from snow melt going through the bottom with plants and other vegetation around. And on the side we were on, sheer cliffs with great looking rock formations loomed high above us. This is the time when I’m not going to try to describe it. Meanwhile, I’m still feeling like junk, and doesn’t seem to be getting any better. After several hours of hiking we reach the final stretch. One of the guys is having stomach issues and is lagging far behind. I take his pack and carry it on my shoulders for a bit. Then Mr. Njenga grabs it and carries it a bit. My head is hurting pretty good now. He starts a steep uphill for a little more than half. I finish the rest of the hill with the bag and am completely exhausted. He takes the bag and walks the rest of the way to Shafton Camp. I am thoroughly impressed by this. My stomach has now had enough at this point and I find a nice big rock to do my business behind. I then go the final stretch of uphill to the camp feeling like I’m about to fall over. I get to the top and drop my stuff and lay down. I made it! The view is spectacular. There is still a lot of mountain left, but this is where many people call it a journey. The elevation is 4200m. The peak is at 5100m. This last bit is done with a daypack. However the last few hundred meters has to be done with special equipment like oxygen and that sort of stuff. Njenga, Mosumbuko, Richard, Peter, Zechaiah, and Eston after resting for a bit go as high as possible after some rest. Njenga ended up going the highest, reaching maybe 4800m. This is the first time they have seen snow, and for a few of them touch it. Very cool for them. I, on the other hand, am lying there next to all the packs. In the next 45 minutes I make three runs for the bathroom. There are toilets up there, but they are the squatting type. Do you have any idea how horrible this is when you have no strength left to hold a squat position and you’re feeling light headed? I’ll leave it at that. As I’m sitting there shaking in the cold, and feeling like junk about 20 Australian thirteen year-olds come down from going up to the snow. I kinda laugh to myself at this. After sitting there for a couple hours, taking an aspirin and a cup of tea and some juice I begin to feel better. We decide to camp the night a little ways down so we can get a good start in the morning. I’m feeling a ton better now and sit with some Kenyan guides next to their fire with Mamba and Kariuki. They give us some food and we have a good conversation about God and some other stuff. Sleeping that night was still not good, but better than the night before. During the day I would blow snot rockets a ton. But at night, I couldn’t and didn’t have anything to use. So I ended up using my socks that I had been wearing during those two days. It was gross. They were damp and dirty. That’s enough of that. The next morning we started at 6:15am and I’m feeling a ton better. Lingering pressure on my head and ears, and my nose is still running, but much better. We make it back to the van in about 5.5 hours. Going down is much easier, but more painful. My knees and feet were hurting. All in all we cover about 44 km. That’s about 28 miles round trip in three days.
We left the mountain and started for home. We stopped and got lunch then with couple hours to go the car starts to overheat from the rolling hills. We stop at the top of the hill with steam coming out behind the front passenger’s seat (the engine is under the passenger). We sit there for about an hour. We are still pretty high in altitude, so it’s not very warm outside with the sun starting to set. But the view on the drive home was amazing. We get some water from a little shack of a house near where we pulled off to cool the van. We finally give it a go and Anthony starts to drive it up toward the road. We were standing around watching and the van’s wheels begin to lose traction in the wet, muddy ground. It ceases to go anywhere and begins shooting mud out behind it. Henry, good, reliable, quiet Henry, is standing about 25 feet behind the van and begins to get covered with spraying mud and starts to run away. Mamba and I are about 50 feet behind the van and are laughing at this. The mud is about 20 feet short of us and I think I’m a safe distance away. Then Anthony floors it and the mud is getting closer to me but to the side. It then starts going right toward me, but I’m laughing at Henry. Next thing I know Mamba is running and I join him as we are pelted with mud. The whole thing was really funny and made the drive home even better. We get back on the road and stop at a gas station. Of course they have no water. They also have not gas. Well, after all this we end up getting home at 9:15pm. It was a good trip. Now I’m sitting here with a running nose, a sun burnt face (bummer Tyrone), chapped lips, and feeling a bit under the weather, and feeling happy. God is good.

I think I’ve said this before, but I sometimes wonder if my money would have been better spent by just giving the organization the money instead of spending it on me coming here. However, I’m confident this is not the case. I don’t think God would put it on my heart to be here if that were true. I also wonder what my purpose for being here is. I came with the intention of hanging out with the kids on the streets. So far this has not really happened. There is a saying that goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” I had this noble thing in mind coming here and it has not come even close to fruition. I think God is so complex that I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around what his elaborate perfect plan is. My part may be very small or may be huge. Either way it is important. These are some thoughts about what my purpose for being here is: I am here to do exactly what I intended to do, be with the street kids. It could be to give the students and staff at Rohi some music, help with their work, give them chocolate, or to just keep them company. Maybe it’s to say hi to a kid on the road as I go for my run. Maybe it’s to get my brother out here so he can use his talents to make a difference. Perhaps for just me to know God better, and I do not contribute anything to Rohi or Kenya. Or to get away from my family so they can learn whatever. Maybe it’s because Mikey G. needed to use my car and me coming here is the only way for that to happen. Maybe it’s for this silly blog, that everybody reading it, or just one person, may be changed. Maybe it’s a combination of a couple or all. I have no idea. I think it’s so easy to get caught up and worry about all the things I am not accomplishing, and there are a lot. But you know what’s so cool? I am not worried, not one little bit about it. I am taking it as it comes and will listen to the Wind (Holy Spirit) on what I should do. If I come home on January 31 and did not accomplish what I set out to do, I think I’ll be very ok. I know if I do what is right and good and true, everything will take care of itself. And so far, I think I am doing that.

Follow-up on the kid Dedon: He said he took the KCP and that he was going to do all of this stuff. Did he do it? Nope. He straight up lied to Komotho. Komotho doesn’t seem surprised at all. You can’t trust the kids on what they say. It makes working with these kids very difficult.

Weighed myself today. According to this scale I weighed 67kg. That’s about 147.7 pounds. According to my scale at home before I left I weighed 157 pounds. That means I lost 10 pounds. What the heck! How much of that was on the mountain, who knows.

It’s Kenya’s independence day today. I woke up at 3:30 this morning coughing and heard Mama get up at about 4:15 to work on some cooking stuff. I was able to fall asleep around 5. There is a bunch of family coming over today. Not sure if it’s for the Independence Day or something else in particular. Some women came over this early this morning to help with cooking. It’s what they do here. If there is a celebration of some sort all the women pitch in to help. Kinda cool.
Kenya has a lot of tribes, Kikuyu, Lua, Masai, Calajin, and a bunch more. This is very much a part of who they are and is a big part of the clashes that occurred a couple years ago. Keep that information in mind as you read on. Last night was the first night in a while of watching TV. It frequently cuts out. Survivor was on and Papa asked me what was going on. I told him there are two tribes who have to compete and at the end of the episode they have to vote somebody off until there is one winner. Papa then asked me what the names of the tribes are. I told that they are made up and given to them, that they are not real tribes. They are Americans. I think he understood at that point. I though that was funny.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Some Rohi kids


Let me try to give you an idea of what a matatu experience is like. Coming from town you must find which matatu to take. You walk through the hustle and bustle of people selling things, people coming and going, matatus moving in all directions and look for a sign placed on top of the vehicle. It seems like chaos. In my case I look for Kiratina. I walk over and step in. It is usually about half full at this point. Capacity is 15 including the driver. When every seat has been filled the driver starts going. Also inside is the “conductor.” He is supposed to wear a maroon shirt, but sometimes this doesn’t happen. The conductor is the one who looks out the window for people who need a ride, and who wants off. He then taps the window or something with a coin or his hand to let the driver know to stop. So, as we head out of the “parking lot,” staging area, we have to inch our way forward through all the other matatus, coming within inches of hitting each other. Most of the time they sound like they are going to fall apart as we move. They look like it too. The van doors don’t always close completely and they just don’t seem like the safest thing. As we get out onto the road, people are jumping out of the way and vehicles are dodging one another. Meanwhile, the passengers are bouncing up and down and swaying back and forth. There were a couple times when a vehicle was coming straight at us and both cars simply maneuver around each other. In America, those are called “close calls.” Mind you, the street is narrow and people are busy all around. We finally get out onto the highway kind of road and get up to speed. Think of the Disneyland ride, Space Tours. The conductor at this time collects the money from people. Costs me 20 shillings. There is no sign or anything telling you how much; it is just kind of known. And if you don’t, you can be ripped off. There are times when we stop to drop people off and slow down enough for people to run up to speed and jump on. Thus is only in some spots and with certain people. Sometimes when there are babies on board and they need to get off, they would hand the baby over to the conductor then get them back when their hands are free. Very helpful in that way. Conductors and drivers change with somebody else at random times. As we exit the main road and head onto the very bumpy dirt road, we come to a complete stop and pick up a few more people. We do this a couple more times. At the most we had was 22 people in the matatu. There were not enough seats for everybody or enough room to squish, so the conductor and another guy just stood out the door holding with one hand on the inside. This is basically what it is like on a typical matatu ride.

So I guess there were 131 kids registering for Rohi. Those are the ones with all the paperwork. I don’t know how many did not. Last night the family was talking about a lady who was there with her son, grandson (I don’t know) and was acting as if she was blind to give him a better chance of getting in. It is a very difficult job for the teachers and staff to decide who gets admitted in the school.
I was just hanging out on the strip of art stuff with the guys out there. There is one kid is 18 and trying to make money. He wants to go to college, but it costs a bunch of money. Other guys trying to provide for their families. They seem like intelligent, nice people. I told them I’m not buying anything for a while. I think eventually they’ll get it and stop asking. But I enjoy talking with them.

Mom, as far as the dump goes, many of the families there are Christian. What is needed for the preschool, I have no idea. That is kinda what we were looking at when we were there.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

3rd Week

Don’t know if I wrote this before, but I’m writing this stuff in Word then pasting it to blogger, otherwise when I finally get online I would say something even more lame than the rest of this stuff. Everything is sequential but not necessarily one right after the other.

11-25 (Wednesday)

Sometimes I’ll be watching TV with Papa and they would be speaking Kiswahili and then switch to English. At these moments I would think that I was able to understand them amazingly speaking in Kiswahili. And then I am brought back to life and realize the fact of it. It reminds me of the episode of The Simpsons when Bart is sent to France as an exchange student and he’s treated very badly. At the end of the episode he is complaining about “stupid France” and mumbling about how he can’t even speak the language after all the time he’s spent there. And during his mumbling he starts talking in fluent French. That was a good episode. I wish that would happen to me. Here’s a Swahili lesson for you all. “Habari?” means, “how are you?” Then you respond by saying, “Mzuri,” meaning, “I am fine.” Take that one to the bank.


Happy Thanksgiving everybody, even though you won’t be reading this until several days later. Long and tiring day. Komotho, Benard (a Rohi high school kid), and I went to the dump, aka Hilton, today. Took a bota bota (bicycle driver with a cushion on the back) at about 8:30 am to the matatu (public transportation van) to town. Then hopped another matatu up to the dump. Hiked a short hill to the top and saw everything that goes with a trash dump and then some. This dump is complete with pigs, flies, stench, and people living there. Rohi is teaming up with Pastor Hudson and his church to look into starting a preschool there. The questionnaire I wrote up last week was put to use today. Benard and I went to about 18 “houses” and asked some questions to find out some information about the people there. I think there are about 130 people there. It is government land, and they are basically “squatters.” They are there, in short, because of not being able to support themselves financially in their previous homes for one reason or another. Being there is not pleasant. You have to watch where you step or you might find yourself cleaning your shoe of pig/dog feces or something else disgusting. Kirstin, Gladys’ cucu says hi. We took a picture where you took yours. She sends a video message I will show you when I get home. Benard did an awesome job of asking questions and translating. So basically we went from house to house (these houses are basically one room, sometimes split with a sheet down the middle, and made of sticks, plastic, sometimes mud, rocks, and whatever they can find. I’ve seen kids’ forts look better than these) the whole time and finally left around 3:30. It was a good five hours we were there. Then we took a bota bota back to town and ate some good food at Rift Fries. Took matatu and bota bota back to Rohi where we arrived at 6:10. Solid 10-hour day. I went to go for a run but ended up helping pick caels (sp), a plant leaf thing, pretty popular here, for a bit until it got dark. Rohi grows and sells them and other crops for sustainability. I took my camera around with me at the dump so I can put a video together about the place. I need a firewire that will hook up to my camera though. The USB only work from the chip, which is not very good quality. Hopefully the video will help people experience the place. Well, I’m about to eat dinner. Be thankful for what you have on this Turkey Day and pray for those who don’t have as much. It’s amazing how thankful those people are though, thanking God for every little thing. Peace.


I talked to my family this morning. So good hearing their voices and that everything is good. Unfortunately I used up the entire 1,070 shillings on the call and we got cut off. I just bought those minutes two days ago. Don’t know when I’ll be able to get more. So right now I am locked in the school office. I came into Komotho’s office when everybody was here. I started working on something and people started to slowly leave one by one. Next thing I know I hear the metal door close behind me. And then the lock close shut (can only be unlocked from the outside). By the time I could get over there the person had left. I’m feeling a bit claustrophobic. I hope the place doesn’t catch on fire. All the windows have bars on them. Not to mention no bathroom in here. Hmm, wonder where they all went. I have my phone, but it has no money on it. So funny. I think I could yell out the window if it comes to that point. …. She just came back after several hours (actually about 10 minutes) in solitary confinement. I can breathe again. Looks like I can survive another day in the Wilds of Africa!

I want to talk a bit about Mama and Papa, Papa in particular cuz I’ve talked with him more. Papa is 70 years old. He is a farmer and has been one all his life growing up on Nakuru. He is one of, I think, 17 brothers and sisters from three wives and a single father. He is from the second wife. I am assuming he lived the typical young African farmer’s life and heading down a similar path as his father. When he was 25 years old he was convinced to go to this thing where a preacher was speaking. He wasn’t planning on going and didn’t want to. He told me he had planned on doing “something bad” that night. So he goes to this thing and hears the preacher talk about a person’s soul, and “is anything more important than a man’s soul?” (Matthew 16:26) At this point he realized all the things he was striving for was meaningless if at the end of his life he had everything but his soul would be sent away into eternal destruction. From that point on he changed the way he lived his life. He got married that same year, had a family, and is living an amazing life. The choice he made that day changed the course of not only his life, but also the lives of his children and the generations to follow. His kids, who now have families of their own, could be another African statistic. Not only did he change his family’s life, but he changed the lives of at least hundreds of others. He gave up his land to provide this school called Rohi. He’s a leader in the community and is working on getting irrigation through the farms to the community. He is a good man who cares about the well-being of others in this life and the next. It’s good hearing his thoughts, and him giving me advice on marriage and what not.

You know what bothers me? When the toilet paper layers are not even. You know when the sheets come apart and are like a quarter inch apart? Especially when it’s at the beginning of the roll.

You know that saying, “Wherever you go, there you are.” That’s how it goes right? I used to hear that and say, “Duh!” But, last year in particular when I was here, I really knew what it meant. A lot of times people try to go away from something, a problem or looking for something. Just because the environment is different does not mean your problems will just go away. If you can’t find whatever it is you’re looking for (not necessarily a thing), maybe you’re not looking for what is reality. Don’t know if I’m making sense. For example, if you’re trying to find happiness in a place that is “better” you may never find that place. If you have problems with whatever, you will still have those problems whether you’re in California, Africa, China, Australia,… Just a thought. No matter where you go, the rash will still remain on your butt, and it may get worse. NOTE: This is not from personal experience- the rash thing that is. However, new environments can help in seeing things more clearly or working through a problem. Basically if you’re feeling depressed, don’t spend a bunch of money to go to paradise in Fiji. Spend the money on some meds, then go to Fiji 

I figure I would take this time to thank all the very groovy people who helped me get here. I don’t feel like mentioning everybody, but you know who you are and so does God. So, give yourself a pat on the back. Go on, nobody’s looking. There. Now doesn’t that feel better? Thanks everybody.

I wonder how many people actually read this. I bet like 7 people. And most of them are my family. If you are reading this, pat yourself on the back. I even just did it. I made it look like I was scratching my back cuz Mr. Daniel Komotho is sitting right in front of me. Daniel just read the thing I wrote for the newsletter and deleted “boss” and “Mr.” in front of his name cuz he doesn’t want to be known as that. Such a humble guy. I like him. We’ve had some good laughs.

I’m trying to think about what you all want to hear. So I compiled all the questions we asked yesterday at the dump. We ended up going to 45 homes. We tallied 187 people living there (these numbers can be off and we may not have gone to all the homes), 40 of those are children under the age of 6, and 51 are between the ages of 7 and 13. A lot of those kids walk around barefooted. Many of the women collect plastic bags and weave pretty cool bags out of them. They then sell them.

Some of the jingles for products and shows are pretty funny to me. There’s one for rice that goes, “All Kenya Pishori Rice, Tastes so good, smells so nice.”

11-29 (Sunday)
Don’t think I could watch another episode of “Catalina and Sebastian.” It has to be the worst show ever. As I said before, it is a Mexican soap opera. The music is horrible, the story is horrible, characters are dumb, and the American voice-overs are even worse. I watch the show maybe once or twice a week, and that is way too many times. Feel free to go online and watch an episode yourself. I hear the theme music from the other room and my stomach turns. Ok, I’m getting worked up so I’m moving on to a new subject.
If you ever want to become an instant celebrity, move to Kenya. The only thing required is that you have white skin. I think it’s gonna be weird when I go back to the US and people aren’t looking at me all the time when I go in public and I don’t have to wave hi and say “habari” every 10 seconds when I go on my runs. Although, it is pretty fun when kids come and run beside me for a little bit.
I went to church with Papa today. It was a Swahili service so he gave me the 411 on what was being said, even when a few things were spoken in English. I enjoyed that. One of the ladies prayed for what had to of been at least 15 minutes. I think she matched my word count in that one prayer with my word count for the day. I don’t think I’d be able to do that no matter how hard I try. I’m not a person of many words, if you didn’t know that already. It was cool though. Especially knowing that there are people on the other side of the world who believe the exact same thing as you and are “getting it.” So that makes me happy. After that I had a quality lunch of ugali (it’s like flour, maybe ground corn, and water? It’s mixed and has the consistency of very stiff mashed potatoes? Kinda hard to explain. Go online and google it. It’s doesn’t have much flavor, but it’s good nonetheless.), beans (but it’s not just beans), rice, and a baked/fried bread thing with some meat in it. It started raining at that time for about an hour with some thunder. It then stopped in time for street church. I brought my video camera and was able to record what it’s kinda like. I spoke and did, I think, a decent job. My speaking is not like the usual Kenyan speaking. Kirstin, those Probar things are good. I had my first one today. On the way home from street church we stopped off at the store and I bought the kids with us cookies. I bought some honey for myself to put on my peanut butter and bread in the morning. I’m looking forward to it.

I’m kinda baffled about some stuff. A large majority of people here are Christian. I see many churches, big and very small, like shack small, doing what they do, which I’m not 100% sure what they do. They might just be a social club or they might be doing good stuff. I’m not in the position to say. However, if a Christian’s job is to feed the hungry, help the poor, spread the gospel, etc, then why are there so many poor, hungry, spiritually deprived people here. Yet there are a lot of Christians here. Now, I have only been here for three weeks now, so I have only seen a tiny bit, and I do not know everything that people are doing. They can be doing a lot, and I just don’t see it. They can be doing so little. I met and spoke briefly to a man named Joseph and his wife Molly. They are from the US and are doing some amazing things here. One of the last things he said before he went was that if everybody who is doing something here teamed up, Kenya could be rid of many of the problems they have, poverty, kids on the streets, disease, etc. So, why don’t people do it? I know some people have great ambitions to start a school or orphanage or hospital or whatever, and they do it. That’s great! But, if they were to put their resources, (money, creativity, etc) into an already existing facility or organization, could they have helped the situation even more. For example, if a hospital is just scraping by financially and another one is set up 3 miles away from that one, don’t you think the problem would not get better. If the money was put into helping that struggling one, then it could be more productive and the mind power of it would be multiplied to doing so much more. Why reinvent the wheel when you could just add a patch to a deflating tire. In some cases starting over is a must, but only in rare situations. I just wish all the great minds here, and there are a lot of them could get together and figure this thing out. I’m sure there are several factors that go into why things are the way they are, but something has to give. I think I might be writing and trying to problem solve. In the meantime, if you are planning on starting an orphanage here, don’t! Find one that is doing it right and pour yourself into that. Thank you and goodnight.

I was talking to Daniel about Kenyan food told him that I want to videotape Mama one day cooking. And then I thought we could make a cooking show out of it. Americans love their cooking shows. Daniel said maybe Pauline, one of the secretaries here, can do it. We can then edit it and make it look good, combine it with a cookbook, and sell them. That’s a pretty good idea if I say so myself.

It’s pretty busy right now at Rohi. People are coming from all over to apply to go here. I would guess that there are probably at least 100 kids with their guardians here applying. I just asked Pastor Juma how they decide who gets in. I think he said the main thing is to see if they are orphans. It’s strange cuz I see all these kids and they seem really happy like normal kids. But a large majority of them don’t have parents for whatever reason. They are being taken care of by grandparents, aunts, uncles, whoever. It can be fairly easy to overlook this stuff if you don’t pay attention, although much more blatant than in the US. I was standing next to the door of the office as all the women were giving their paperwork (birth certificates, ids, etc) and I see a lady holding a death certificate. I don’t know whom it’s for, but that child has been greatly affected. That is why when I go for my runs and kids come running out from nowhere and yell, “Mzungu! How are you?” I do my best to respond to each kid with words, a wave, eye contact, or something. You never know when a tiny gesture might make all the difference in the world.

Came to town for the first time by myself today. I’m sitting here at Guava Café drinking a milkshake. Pretty good. I made my first appearance on the street, going to where the art stuff is. Kirstin, Vincent says hi. Also Sammy, if you know him. They seem like cool guys. I kinda feel like this is the start of some good stuff. I walked around the block, and at Nyayo Gardens (I would hardly call it gardens) is an HIV/AIDS rally thing. Some people talking, testing, counseling. That was good to see. Then a couple street kids looked at me, they looked at each other, then started, “I’m hungry! Can you give me some money or food?” It was perfectly on cue. They need to work on making it more convincing though. They hid the glue as I approached. Their English was pretty good. One of the kids was 13 and the other 11. They said they were on the street for over a year. I was talking to them about what they want to be and asked if they were in school. They said “no,” and I said how are you gonna be an engineer and pilot if you’re not in school. I asked if they did glue, and smiled wanting to say no. I asked if they think they should, and said they should not. I asked why they do it. They said it helps with the stress. Then I said a few other things. These two kids seemed pretty smart. I’m hoping I will see them around. So that was my first day on my own. There were a few kids I saw with nail polish on their toes or fingers. This, I think but will confirm, is to show that they are available for sexual acts.

The weather has been good. It's been about mid to upper 70s. But when the sun comes out, it's intense! I'm sure to bring my hat with me. I have to go. Gonna try to make it back for Swahili class with Troy and his family. I don't think I answered questions that were asked. Sorry. i'll try to maybe tomorrow when i have more time.