What’s New, with Pictures

This week I got an email from my sweet sister, wondering why I haven’t written her in a while. She’s worried because she hasn’t heard from me! I had to assure her, I just haven’t emailed because really, life has been quite ordinary. (Notice I didn’t say, “Normal.”)  Since our “ordinary” doesn’t leave a lot of time for things like blogging,  as I was downloading our precious few photos from the camera (haven’t kept up with picture-taking, either) , I figured I’d update the blog with a few pics.

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Apparently my fame as a cake-maker has spread far and wide after the wedding of Charles and Ester at our house. A few weeks ago, one of our neighbors asked if I could make cakes for a Catholic wedding, a local man and woman who have been living as “married” (and have two young children) but have recently become a part of the church and wanted to make their union “official.” The larger cake was for all the guests to eat and the two smaller cakes were for the priest and for the bride and groom. I’ve never been a professional when it comes to cake decoration, and doing the work without good tools at my disposal is even more of a challenge (I did the writing with a syringe filled with frosting!), but everyone was happy with the effort. IMGA0811

And I don’t think you’ve been introduced to our Kitty. She is her Daddy’s girl and almost always comes to sleep next to him at night. Enoch terrorizes her (along with our other cat, Tiger). During the day she often trolls around looking for food and can be very sneaky in getting her share. Her favorites are meat and milk. When the boys came back from market the other day with a kilo of beef for supper, Kitty sniffed it out and perched herself on top of the backpack in an effort to claim it for her own dinner. Of course, we easily thwarted her attempt and put the beef safely in the kitchen drawer until it could be prepared.

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Speaking of Tiger, he and Kitty tend to be very patient with Enoch’s love of them, I think because he also feeds them during meal times. Here’s a photo of Enoch sharing his breakfast mandazi under the table:IMGA0816

Oh, but wait! He’s still hungry himself…

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Finally, here’s a recent shot of Jubilee, our 4 year-old, wearing her kitambaa “the Auntie Jane way.” (Auntie Jane is our neighbor and she always ties her kitambaa this way, which is different from how I do mine, but it looks cute on Jubie!) True to her name, Jubilee is usually all smiles (when she’s not stubbornly insisting upon getting her own way, particularly with her 6 year-old and 2 year-old brothers).

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Those are all my recent pictures, and some of the more ordinary happenings of our every day. God is good, all the time!

“You Eat What You Carry”

Marc was in Bidii today, visiting the church there. Sam led our fellowship and taught on God’s provision, which comes because of His faithfulness but depends on our right-standing with Him and our diligence in labor. I can’t do justice to the teaching, but he ended by sharing a story that his own mother had often told him:

Once there was a family of many children; I don’t know how many. But all the children were obedient to their father–all except one. This son, when his father said,” Let us go here,” would say, “Oh, I feel like going there.” When told it was time to sleep, he would say, “I am just feeling like doing some work!”

It came time for the family to have to move away from their home and take a long journey. Each child was given a bundle to carry as they walked. Partway through the trip, they entered a valley. Father instructed each child to pick up a rock “of a good size” and bring it with them to their destination. All the children did so, except for the complaining son. He chose a small stone and, when his father reminded him of the instruction, replied, “Am I not carrying a stone, Father?” And so they went on their way.

As night fell, they stopped to rest. Father told the children to set their stones by their sleeping places. Each one turned into bread of the same size as the stone! The children all ate their fill, though the complaining son went to bed with a rather empty belly. The father told his children, “You eat what you carry.”

They resumed their trip the next day. The father, wishing to test his complaining son, again gave the children the same command as the previous day. Again, they all picked up stones. The complaining son deliberately looked for the largest stone he could find, and carried it without murmuring. The father, who actually had no purpose for the stones, several hours later instructed them to leave the rocks behind and press on in their journey. Though the children did not understand the father’s intent, they obeyed.

This was one of two stories that Sam told, which all the children loved and were eager to re-tell to Marc when he arrived home from Bidii. Stories are a powerful means of illustrating Biblical truths, and I particularly enjoyed this one! It is interesting to hear different men in our fellowship teach, sharing what God puts on their hearts.

When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

1 Corinthians 14:26

Prince Charming

I know, every mother thinks her baby is the cutest, the sweetest, the most precocious. Our Enoch, having just turned two, is at that stage where his baby-isms have won the hearts of  everyone in the family. We’re always sharing little stories of “what Enoch just did” and laughing about his antics and ways of saying things. But he hasn’t just charmed us…it has become more and more obvious to me that many in our little village are quite taken with him.

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Enoch hamming it up with his big brother

Enoch regularly goes across the street to Silas’s shop with one of his older siblings to fetch morning’s milk and other needed items. Mama Sharon (Silas’s wife) often sends him on his way with a “sweet” or an extra mandazi. When Silas was visiting the other day, he chuckled as he told Isaiah about how Enoch came for milk while Mama Sharon was still asleep in their little room off the shop. Apparently Enoch, who knows which side his bread is buttered on, wanted to find Mama Sharon, so he toddled into the bedroom and touched Mama Sharon’s face. When she didn’t respond, he simply pulled back the covers and climbed into bed with her! Eventually she got up and went into the shop to get him his treat for the day.

Yesterday when our home fellowship met, I was saying good-bye to an older Mama who has just begun visiting with us. She speaks no English, so we haven’t gotten much beyond greetings and small talk. However, she shook my hand and then offered a hand to Enoch, whom I was holding. Surprisingly, she greeted him by name, and in response to her “habari” salutation (generally, “How are you doing?”), he properly responded, “Mzuri!” (“Fine!”) Her pleasure was more than evident, and she went on her way with a smile.

Florence couldn’t wait to take Enoch from me after our morning’s fellowship time. She asked to bring Enoch to her place, where (as I heard reported from the other littles) she washed his face, hands, and feet, then gave him some chai and a sweet. While there, he also got carried around by his favored Marie (Florence’s daughter, who is 13). Whenever Marie comes over to play, she more often than not has Enoch on her hip or is pushing him in the swing.

Many mornings as we begin our day, the neighborhood children come down the path on their way to school. If Enoch chances to be outside, he greets everyone by name: “Eh, Marie!”, “Eh, Dori!”, “Eh, Rosie!” And of course, they respond with giggles as they continue on their way.  (Marc and I were discussing the other day how multipurpose, “Eh” is. Depending on the inflection, the length of the syllable, and the accompanying facial expression or body language, it has a range of meanings. It is used to convey greeting, make general acknowledgement, or express surprise, indignation, and uncertainty, or even impart correction. I could probably write a whole post about, “Eh!” But I digress.)

Enoch also loves our neighbor, Mama Manu, who comes nearly every day to do wash. He is eager to “help” her and show her things he is doing, and his antics often, of course, make her smile. Her daughter, Nila (eight months younger than Enoch, but the same size) is his favorite friend. When she comes with Mama Manu, Enoch drapes his arm around her neck, tries to hug her, and gives her his books and toys to play with. Unfortunately, when she doesn’t respond to his gestures, he’s also been known to hit her with whatever book or implement he is trying to offer her. We’re working on that. Even so, Mama Manu is often found shaking her head over Enoch and I frequently hear her say, “Enoch, you are funny!” She even knows how to translate many of his Enoch-isms, which sometimes are English, sometimes Swahili, often a mix, and rarely perfectly enunciated.

But by far, Enoch’s favorite is our neighbor, Auntie Jane. Enoch is potty training, and these days he’s often found walking around without pants. I try to keep him in a long shirt, for modesty’s sake, but sometimes, his wardrobe is limited and we just go with the flow. I try to keep him in the house if he’s not presentable, but whenever Auntie Jane walks by outside, she usually shouts, “Wapi Enoch?” (“Where is Enoch?”) and of course, wherever he  is, he RUNS to the gate to greet her. And she always obliges by picking him up and greeting him (even if he is pants-less), and talking to him about whatever she is doing. When she comes to the house to visit, she often ends up engaged in a game of hide-and-seek with Enoch, who positions himself under the table or around the corner and asks, “Wapi me, Aunt Jane?” He regularly gets picked up to go over to Auntie Jane’s house, where she or Nyanya (“Grandmother”) make him chai or roast him some maize, one of his favorite treats.

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Enoch and Auntie Jane in the early days of their friendship. Even at 10 months, he wasn’t too young to enjoy molasses candy after she came back from the market.

Indeed, children are a blessing from the Lord. Watching Enoch thrive here in Kenya is just one more reminder of how fast these days fly by and how thankful we need to be for the way each one fills a special place in the family, and in our larger community.

 

More than “church”

Being part of the Body of Christ means more than just meeting Sunday-to-Sunday. We’ve long known that, experienced it in our home fellowship in America, and have only prayed for it here. It has been greatly encouraging to see our little fellowship flourish during our Sunday meetings…but this past week, we’ve seen the Holy Spirit at work, enabling all of the brothers and sisters here to function as a true body of believers. Unfortunately, it took some trials and struggles for everyone to see it, but God is just that good–even when bad things happen.

For example, it came to Silas’s attention that Patrice has been going to stay at a neighbor’s house every time it rains (and that’s a lot during our current “rainy season!”) But Patrice has had health issues and lack of work which made it financially impossible for him to repair the thatch. He finally came into some work and Silas took charge with some “tough love” (because apparently he knows that Patrice isn’t always wise with his money).  He commandeered Patrice’s earnings, put his punda (donkeys) and cart to work, and went to town with Patrice to buy some iron sheets. Henry, our neighbor, got involved, and eventually a plan was made to not only re-roof but re-build Patrice’s house. Of course, Marc got involved, buying nails and bringing his tools so that the convening group (which included Patrice’s unbelieving family members) could all pitch in and help. (You can see some of the photos on Marc’s Facebook.)

Sam lives in the center of our village, where the road is going to be widened and many shops are threatened with extinction, including his. The day came this week when action was forced; Sam needed to demolish his shop and so did many of his neighbors. Isaiah got his schoolwork done in record time early one morning so that he could bring all of our tools to town and help out as many people as possible. (Of course, doesn’t every young man long for the opportunity to demolish stuff?) He and Sam worked together on his shop and one other before illness got to Isaiah. He’d been feeling a little under-the-weather in the morning and by noon couldn’t do any more, so he unfortunately had to come home. But, according to Sam’s testimony at church this week, not before a surprised crowd of piki drivers and other bystanders and all noted that the mzungy had come to help, free of charge. Apparently, it caused quite a stir. We pray it would be a testimony to God’s glory!

On Friday afternoon, Isaiah had just crossed the road to go visit Silas at his shop when he heard that Charles and Ester’s son, Benja, had been hit by a piki. (Benja is only 6 and a frequent playmate of our kids.) The driver immediately brought Benja to the hospital and came back for Charles, who was working right next door building the Sweazy’s house. Isaiah called me and asked if he could follow with Silas, so they came and got Marc’s motorbike and some money (just in case it was needed). I convened the children and we all sat down to pray. Amazingly, the piki driver stayed until treatment was finished and paid the bill himself (this is highly unusual for Kenya). We praised God for that provision, and for the unity of the body in response to the emergency. We also are thankful for answered prayer, as Benja lost a tooth or two (which are still baby teeth, anyway) and suffered no more than a very fat lip and a couple of other bumps and bruises.

Not more than hours later, Ester herself fell ill in the middle of the night. She asked her oldest daughter and a neighbor to get Pastor Masika (Henry) because Charles was at work (he is a night watchman). In her testimony today, she related that she was shivering violently and unable to walk. She had severe shortness of breath such that she could barely talk. Henry spent quite some time with her praying, and Ester reports that she felt a great relief of burden as a result. After he left, she was able to sleep in peace. However, the next morning, the symptoms returned. Getting her to the hospital was a cooperative effort, as there isn’t much available at 6:30 AM and when Charles and Silas tried to put her on a piki they found it impossible, since she had no motor ability whatsoever. To get from her bed to the door, she had crawled on hands and knees. Marc called a contact in town who had a car, but due to the road-widening it was unable to be moved. He then called Sam and asked him to go to the stage (where cars and bikes convene, waiting for passengers), and ask one of the cars to come pick up Ester. He was on his way, but before he completed the errand Silas ended up hailing a car that was driving by and was willing to bring them to the hospital. Funding was provided to meet the emergency, Marc put out a prayer request on FB (to which many international brothers and sisters responded), and we prayed as a family. When they arrived at the hospital, Ester was given an injection (not sure of what) and she says after a very short time she began feeling healed. The doctors could find no physical explanation for her serious illness, so they simply sent her home. And she came to church praising God this morning! We trust that her “mysterious” healing was the work of God, and give Him thanks!

Seeing the unity of the brothers and sisters here is just awesome. Each person is contributing to the needs according to their gifts and abilities, anxious to take part in the Body of Christ in love and service. One day this week, for example, Silas and Patrice came to cut and stack the remainder of our maize harvest, since Marc’s schedule was pretty full with travel and teaching. Patrice also happily stopped over here a couple of times (after a full day’s work on the Sweazy house) to fix some maize stands that had fallen. It has been a great joy to see, and participate in, what God is doing through Kingdom community in Kenya.

Sunday: Home Fellowship and Baby Dedication

On Sunday a small group met at our home for fellowship. We’re “supposed to” convene at 8 AM, since some folks still go to other church services later in the day but of course, THIS IS AFRICA. We finally got started at almost 9:00. Even so, our time together was a blessing.

We’ve tried to open our home for fellowship before, but at the time we were still the new wazungu in the community, so it was far from being true ekklesia–we attracted lots of folks interested in seeing us and our home, and having chai and something to eat. It didn’t take long before we abandoned that and started building relationships and focusing on disicpleship. We then began to meet with a very small group for a meal and mutual encouragement on Saturday evenings. That morphed into a more “open” service on Sunday morning, which includes committed followers of Christ as well as serious seekers (one of whom was baptized after meeting with Marc for most of last Sunday after our fellowship time).

This group, meeting now for a couple of months, has really been a blessing to us. Far from being the wazungu-centered gathering that it was initially, there is lots of interaction and participation. Our neighbor, Henry, pastor at a local church, usually opens us in prayer and filled in with a teaching a couple of weeks ago when Marc was away.  Sam and Patrice offer a welcome, encourage testimonies and praise reports, and ask for prayer requests. They also share short teachings or encouragement from the Scriptures. One will share in Swahili, and the other translate into English. They do this pretty seamlessly now, whereas at first there was a lot of whispered communication and fumbling for “what next.” Florence is a gifted singer and almost always leads us in a song of worship at just the right times. All the children who come are learning to listen quietly and be respectful of our time together.

Our time of testimonies is a special blessing to me, as I love to hear what God is doing in folks’ lives. Last week, Ester, a relatively young believer who had been very sick over the previous week, shared a testimony that still makes me smile when I think of it. (You may remember that Charles and Ester were recently married at our house.)  She said something like, “Last week satan was trying to push me down. I was sick and discouraged and I knew I needed to pray. Nobody taught me how to pray, but I learned! And now God has delivered me, and I feel like singing!” And she proceeded to lead us in a very exuberant song, with a beautiful smile and an absolute glow about her face. God is good!

After our fellowship time this week, Marc and I were slated to attend a baby dedication ceremony at the home of a neighbor, one I met through the Department of Public Health during our recent children’s clinic. We were told it would begin at 1:00, but then Rose (who was going with us) said it wasn’t “really” until 2:00. She was supposed to pick us up but by the start-time still hadn’t arrived and wasn’t answering her phone. We knew the location wasn’t far but weren’t exactly sure where we were going. Hating to be late, we decided to wing it and ask around. Fortunately, Silas was coming in just as we were going out and he commandeered a child escort to take us to our destination. (Silas has been drying his maize on our lawn and wanted to get it re-bagged before the afternoon rain, otherwise I’m sure he would have gone with us himself.)

So we arrived at the dedication on “African time,” which was great because we got to slip into some unobtrusive seats in the back row. (There were rows of narrow benches set under a tarp, which was just a bunch of burlap sacks sewed together.) But not for long. Once the organizers realized we had arrived, we got escorted  right to the VIP seating in front. I understood about 1/4 of what the Master of Ceremonies was saying, which I thought was pretty good. The speeches were all peppered with a whole lot of Bwana asifiwe (“Praise the Lord”). About midway through the celebration, just as the baby (Simon Peter) made his appearance at the front (though “appearance” is a relative term, since he was abundantly swaddled in about three blankets), it started to rain. Hard. We were at the edge of the tent and needed to push our chairs in a little to avoid getting wet. However, there were holes in the burlap sacks and, though we tried to maneuver around them, there was no safe location. Eventually a big gusts of wind threatened the stability of the tent at various locations, so men scurried around with sticks and tried to prop it up. Others got more burlap sacks and tried to cover the audio equipment, as it was large enough of a gathering to require microphone and speaker.

It wasn’t long before everyone realized that we’d need to move indoors. Transporting a group that size, plus equipment and seating, in driving rain, was very interesting.  About 120 of us stood crammed into a room approximately 14’x16′ feet, with a small path through which the benches were brought in and re-arranged. Somehow we fit enough in that everyone could sit down. Everyone was amazingly adaptable to the change in plans, the slight discomfort, and the fact that nearly all the guests were wet. There was even good humor about the few times that the host’s pigeons (also flying around inside due to the rain) perched atop some of the guests’ heads.

The dedication included prayers, gift-giving, lots of wimbo (song), and the interesting tradition of passing the little baby around, to be held by every guest in attendance. Marc tried to get a picture/video of this, as it was a very happy event with lots of singing, but unfortunately there was no lighting in the house (save what came in through the open door), so photo ops were limited.

Most were excused after the formalities, but the “VIPs” stayed behind in the house. With just a bit more re-arranging of furniture, we were served chai, rice (from a 5-gallon pail) and beans, mandazi and chapati.

The walk home was fun, as many locations in our narrow path had been flooded out, but we were just in time for dinner. Thankfully, I had made a small batch of granola earlier in the day (intended for the next day’s breakfast), but it and some bananas made a good supper, since I didn’t really have time to prepare much else.

After a day like this Sunday, we can’t help but be thankful for the continually developing relationships within our community, and for what God is doing. Bwana asifiwe!

Just Another Day

Yesterday Silas decided that we needed to board his new punda (donkeys) for the night, since he was out late with them and didn’t have time to bring them all the way to his own shamba. It made for an interesting night, as our new visitors attracted several wild dogs, who barked back and forth over the fence with our dog for quite a long time. (Or maybe it just seemed like a long time because I wanted to be sleeping and wasn’t.)

For some reason I ended up getting up much earlier than I wanted (not quite 6:00) and went into the kitchen to make my coffee. Unfortunately, we were out, so I settled for making myself hot chocolate. I sat down for some quiet time, then Jubilee (age 4, almost always the first one up) joined me on the couch. We went into the kitchen and started preparing a pineapple, scrambling some eggs, and putting bread in the oven for toast. Marc was up early, too, and he was going off to teach his weekly Kingdom Discipleship class, so I wanted to get breakfast ready in time for him to leave.

Deborah and Enoch went off to Silas’s shop to get our morning milk for tea, Marc and some of the kids went out chain the dog, open up the chicken coop, and get all the critters fed. Rebekah set the table, and (as is typical) Silas showed up just as breakfast hit the table. Even though it is our regular house-cleaning day (when most everything around the house gets done), Isaiah talked me into letting him go with Silas to run the punda on an errand. I asked how long he’d be gone (“an hour,” which in Africa is probably more like three) and gave him permission to go, provided he’d be ready to work at home when he returned. He put his scrambled eggs in a bag and ran down the path after the donkeys and cart.

The rest of us ate, cleaned up the mess, and sat down for morning devotions. After our family time, I mobilized the troops for work: Jonah and Rebekah cleared out the sitting room to wash the floor, Deborah stacked the dining chairs and prepared to do the floor in our eat-in area, Hannah started on the bathroom, and Micah and Jubilee tag-teamed on the dishes. I brought our small throw-rugs from the doorways outside and washed them, then brought out the large living room rug to beat and wash (using Isiaah’s pressure washer, of course!).  While I was outside, our neighbor (“Auntie Jane”) passed by and Enoch caught up with her at the gate. He LOVES Auntie Jane and he always makes her smile–especially now that he’s started saying her name (though more like, “Ah Jay!”) and asking, “Me go Ah Jay?” So of course he asked to go with her and she happily obliged. I figured he’d end up having chai with Nya Nya (“Grandmother,” Jane’s mother), and it would give me some good time to work without constantly looking around to see what the little man was up to.

Once I came in the floors all looked clean and dry, so I had the kids put everything back where it belonged and put several of them to work again on clearing out the veranda for a sweep and wash. Isaiah showed up and I had him empty out the kitchen so I could wash the floor in there (but keep in mind, clean is relative here in Kenya!). I started making some dough for mandazi (sort of a non-sweet donut that is commonly eaten for breakfast here). I needed to make a big batch for our house church meeting tomorrow morning. We used to have a fellowship meal on Saturday nights, but recently switched to early morning chai and mandazi on Sunday. Just as I started frying the first pan full, Silas showed up with a young lady in need of medical attention for her foot.

Just about everyone goes barefoot here, even when they shouldn’t (like when milking cows and standing in cow dung), so foot problems are very common. This girl had one toe nail almost coming off, with blood and swelling. I cleaned it up but knew she’d need some antibiotics as well. While I worked, I asked Isaiah to call our local chemist, who is an absolute God-send. She knew exactly what the problem was and could give me what I needed, but she wouldn’t be at her shop in town for about another hour (which was probably more like two or three; remember–this is Africa). I asked Isaiah if he wanted to go into town or have her ship it by piki piki when she had it available, but he was more than happy to get out of housework and run an errand for me. I asked the young lady to return at 3 PM, thinking that would give us way more than enough time to get what we needed for her. I made Isaiah a short market list and he went off with Jonah, who by now had finished his part of the work on the veranda. Turned out that everyone was done with their morning’s work and were begging to go to Auntie Jane’s, too. The only one staying home was Rebekah, who was anxious to read a book on the Kindle.

I continued to make the mandazi, thankful for the unexpected quiet.  Jubilee returned home once to fetch a plastic bag; Auntie Jane wanted to send me some sweet potatoes. She also reported that everyone was enjoying a snack of roasted maize. By now it was just about 11:30 and I had about half of the mandazi done. Rebekah was asking where everyone went (a sure sign she was bored). I asked if she wanted to take over with the mandazi, and she was happily agreed. By lunch time, she was finished and our count on the mandazi approached 100, which should be just about enough:

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Everyone came home at lunch time, but after all the maize at Auntie Jane’s, no one was really hungry. This meshed perfectly with my plans, which had not yet included any thought of food preparation. Realizing that no meal was to be had and most of the housework was (surprisingly) already finished, Deborah and Hannah started re-organizing the veranda while some other miscellaneous pick-ups got done. Isaiah and Jonah made it back from town without the medicine, since the chemist was late coming to her shop after all.

The kids bolted to our other neighbor, Henry’s, where he has a foundation hole that the community kids all love to play in. Unfortunately, that would mean that everyone would come home dirty, but I figured I’d deal with that later. Ever the engineer, Isaiah stayed behind to work on his most recent project–building a lap-sized weaving loom. In not too long, a piki piki arrived with the medicine–not too much before 2 PM. I started to bring in the laundry, as clouds threatened and the afternoon rains looked like they were coming. By 3:00, I had sorted wet from dry, started dicing vegetables for spaghetti sauce for supper, and then took a break to give the young lady her medicine. (Isaiah noted, with surprise, that she arrived just on time!) Deborah brought over one of the kids who was playing at Henry’s who had gotten a small cut on his toe, so I cleaned and Band-Aided it.

Marc came home from his class, I collected all the kids for afternoon jobs, boiled some water for a few necessary baths, and now I’m blogging as the spaghetti noodles cook.

Just another day here in Kenya…

Clinic Wrap-Up

At our scheduled Children’s Clinic yesterday, I ended up working with Christine, the pastor’s wife of the local PEFA church, to administer the de-worming medicine.

Our kids were all there: pouring water, handing out tablets, and (the favored task) distributing sweets when the medicine had been taken. Of course, after a while they all wanted to play and were disappointed that I wouldn’t let them. Around lunch time, they went across the street home, got themselves lunch, and made sure the littles took their naps. That coincided with a lull in the traffic of the clinic, so Christine and I spent a pleasant quarter-hour chatting and enjoying the peace and quiet.


The morning was full of little ones, then the school age children started coming in just after lunch time. I had the great honor of being the one to make the littles take their liquid medicine. Let me just say, many of these children don’t like taking medicine and most of these Mamas just make it go down. No amount of screaming or writhing will convince them otherwise (and there were plenty of both of those). Next time I’ll volunteer myself to hand out the tablets!


I suppose I should have expected a few “hiccups” in our first big effort in community outreach. And there were some. But in the end, about 180 children  received de-worming medicine yesterday. I’ve met several people in the local Public Health Department who offered positive feedback and also asked us to continue this work. They felt that this particular clinic was small compared to the need in our area, and expressed interest in holding another at a school not too far away, where more children can be served. I am sure we will be in communication, and we’re looking forward to interacting more with our community and meeting some of the needs that are here.

Family Game Plan: Clinic Day

Up until now, my de-worming clinic effort has been conducted fairly quietly. (I wasn’t even sure that the majority of the children knew that there was something going on.) So today we finally had a “family meeting,” and I explained that I was going to be working at the church tomorrow to provide assistance to children and families in our community. I asked the kids if they thought they could do anything to help, and if they would be interested in serving. I was pleasantly surprised with the response, as they all agreed that they would like to be involved.

Of course, Isaiah and Jonah have already been of help, going to town to pick up supplies for me. They went on Tuesday to get the medicine and some rubber gloves. Today I realized that the older kids taking  tablets might want some water to drink, and we all agreed that a candy upon leaving would be a nice treat for the kids. So, the boys went back to town today to get a new pitcher (ours having lost its cover long ago and recently sprung a crack anyway), some paper cups, and bags of candy. Unfortunately, our neighborhood chemist was unable to procure the cups and there’s no where else in our village that has them, so I texted Marc a request to pick some up in town on his way home–he’s visiting a house church pretty far away in West Pokot today. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to get them, but if we have to resort to washing and re-using regular cups that’s okay, too; only a minor inconvenience.

So here’s the game plan we agreed upon: as people come into the clinic tomorrow, the younger children will act as “greeters” (all the African Mamas love greeting the little wazungu!). I’m sure blond, chubby little Enoch (age 2) will be a favorite. The trick will be keeping him out of trouble, so Rebekah is the designated greeter and “baby watcher.” Isaiah is going to staff the table and determine ages of children and the necessary doses of medicine. (Children under two take only half of the “single dose” bottle of liquid. If tablets, ages up to 4 take one, ages 5-12 take two, and 13+ take three). Rose and I will oversee and assist with medicine distribution. Deborah and Hannah will serve water to those who want it, and Jonah is the self-appointed “candy man.” If the littles start getting into too much trouble, they’ll either go outside to play or go home with one of the older kids (it’s particularly convenient being right across the street!)

Today I need to make up some sort of sign to announce the clinic. Publicizing an event like this is one of the challenges, as it really only happens through word-of-mouth, and I don’t know how effective we have been/will be with that aspect of it. However, from what I gather, things like this end up like Field of Dreams (“If you build it, they will come.”) I’m hoping that as a small number come in, it will attract others and the word will quickly get around. We’ll see…

The kids are already asking if they can come help with the larger clinic in the village center. That would be a logistical challenge, considering our family dynamics and the fact that the only method of transport is piki piki (motorbike). So that remains to be seen. But as to tomorrow, everyone is excited and ready to go!

Enoch goes to town

Enoch loves his big brothers’ Suzuki and when they go off to the market on it, he can often be seen staring longingly after them at the gate. When Dad starts up the Yamaha, he stands behind it and puts his hand to the exhaust or tries to maneuver his foot onto the footrest to climb up onto the seat. Occasionally, he puts on his shoes and dons a bike helmet, thinking that maybe someone will get the hint and take him for a ride. Aside from spins around the yard with his big brothers, though, his motorbike dreams have gone unfulfilled.

Until Monday.

He had his last immunizations in America just before we moved and I was advised that he could wait until age 2 to get further updates. Well, he turned 2 in June and so the time had come. I especially wanted to get his tetanus booster, as he is very active outdoors, often forgets his shoes, and there is the occasional rusty nail sticking out of a board abandoned by one of his big brothers, in pursuit of one project or another. There was the small matter of transportation into town, however, as we no longer have our family car. So it was decided that Marc and I would take Enoch into the village sandwiched between us on the Yamaha, after which we would hire a car into town to visit the doctor.

Enoch couldn’t contain his excitement as we prepared for the trip on Monday morning. As we made final preparations and left orders for the big kids remaining at home, he loitered around the yard and stood beside the motorbike…waiting…waiting…and finally, the big moment arrived! Off we went…

enoch going to town

It was a long, s-l-o-w few miles’ ride into the village. It had rained all the night before and the road was recently graded, so we slipped and slid our way along, with Marc occasionally putting his feet to the ground and walking us along. Enoch held on tight, his excitement never waning, his head turning from side to side to take in all the sights: donkey carts, sheep and cows grazing, chickens running across the road, lots of foot traffic, shops, and fellow motor bikes.

I breathed a sigh of relief when we dropped off the motorbike and crammed into a private car for the trip into town. Another vvrrrm was just as much an adventure for Enoch and the mini-mzungu got lots of attention.

I can’t say he enjoyed getting his shots, but I had packed a lollipop just for that purpose and it was a suitable diversion. Then we went across the street to another doctors’ office, where Marc had met up with Tonny (his translator) and Tonny’s wife. Jennifer has been having medical issues and the care she has received at the district hospital hasn’t really been adequate to diagnose and treat the problem, so Marc got a referral to a good private physician to try to find a solution. We hung out there for a while, then Marc and Tonny went to the Agro-Vet next door to get a rabies vaccine for our dog. (They have rabies clinics here, but only about once per year, and that was another issue that I have been thinking needed remedying.) Turns out that Marc could get the vaccine and do it himself (which is no problem for him, though I probably wouldn’t want to), but he had to buy 10 at a time, versus just the one we need. However, that’s still cheaper than having the vet come out to our place for a personal visit.

Once we were done at the doctor’s, the three of us did some shopping and picked up a few items we can’t get at the local market: ghee; vinegar; hairbrushes for the girls (can’t seem to keep tabs on our single brush, and they were surprisingly only 12 shillings each!); of course, pizza fixings for supper, and THIS for Enoch:

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At two years, two months, he’s the oldest Carrier baby to *not* be potty-trained, but he’s terrified of the outhouse and hiking out there when the need arises (not at all predictable at this age, and not very much notice, either) isn’t conducive to the process. So this little pot (at just over $1) should suit nicely.

Finally, a nice restaurant lunch for the three of us. Enoch was very chatty as we sat down to eat…this was a rare treat, to be sure. We all enjoyed the fish fillet, fries, and Fanta, and then we got back in a car to head for home. Another nervous (on my part) ride down our dirt road, and Enoch entered the house just about beaming. I think he wished he had more words to tell his siblings all about his days’ excitement!

The day wasn’t over for Marc, who vaccinated our dog and then made the rounds to our neighbors and gave all the local dogs shots as well. I mobilized the kids to make pizza–Deborah is our cheese-grater and Rebekah makes the sauce. I do the dough, and all the littles help assemble when the ingredients are ready.

Pizza…yum! A fitting end to Enoch’s adventuresome day.

Help us Host De-Worming Clinics for Kids Here in Our Village!

If you’ve read our blog for any length of time, you may know my (Cindy’s) desire to do more to serve the folks in need here in our community. We had a family car for few weeks, during which time we went out together once, but otherwise it has been very difficult (and/or costly) to get us all out and about. I don’t go out much personally, either, as there are many household and  homeschooling responsibilities demanding my consistent attention. I don’t mind it, as I do believe that a woman should be busy at home and committed to discipling her own children. However, I not only want to serve others, but want to give my children opportunities to do the same. It would seem sad, indeed, if we were here in Africa where there are so many needs and we did not do our best to meet them.

Another impediment to “doing more” here has been the language barrier. We continue our Swahili study but don’t practice enough and aren’t learning at a very great speed. Unfortunately, we’re surrounded by just enough English-speakers that they are gracious enough to speak it with us and so we aren’t forced to use the Swahili we do know. Equally unfortunately, most folks here don’t speak English. So even when I make an acquaintance, “want” to go further in a discipleship context, or want to implement projects of various kinds, there is this very real limitation. When Marc goes on missions, he brings along a very gifted translator; day-to-day here in the village, I of course don’t have that luxury.

I’ve made this a matter of continued prayer and have been very glad to see the Lord bring me many opportunities to give and help others in small ways. And last week, I was percolating a few larger-scale ideas that I’m excited about and might actually be able to execute. One is a series of medical clinics for the local children. Quite a few of my neighboring Mamas have visited over the months, asking for medical assistance for their children. The most common problems are intestinal worms or amoeba,and ringworm. These are easily treated but the unfortunate reality for most of these families is that they can treat these conditions or the family can eat supper. I’m able to help one-on-one, but doing anything bigger has seemed an impossibility (due to my home constraints and language inabilities, see above).

It occurred to me that I might collaborate with one of the woman in our local fellowship, who is a social worker. Her role has specifically been to facilitate medical clinics and help meet the needs of the disadvantaged in our community. When I approached her with the idea of doing a de-worming clinic, she was very excited and more than willing to help. Apparently, at one time these had been fairly common but have recently been less so, due to lack of funding. Only one such clinic has been offered recently, at a local school about a month ago.

I asked her if she could coordinate with the village elders and help me find a suitable location. She was ready to do weekly clinics at multiple locations and offer a range of treatments for all kinds of basic illnesses, but I had to slow her down and explain that right now I’m not sure what our funding can support, and I wanted to first do a “test” clinic, starting with just de-worming, to see what the response would be and how much more we could continue to do. She assured me she understood and would get to work on it right away.

Today, after our morning home fellowship, she told me she is organizing three “test clinics”–one right across the street at a local church, one in the village center, and one at a nearby market. I had to keep from reminding her that “test case” meant one clinic, as I’m not sure we can financially do more right now. I know the need is there, and I guess we’ll just have to step up to meet it.

045In our very immediate neighborhood I can count at least 40 children who regularly come over to play. Many more mill around outside our gate. There are many children in our area, and this is a very basic medical service that would meet a very real need. We’re starting with the de-worming because it is also the cheapest to treat. 50 shillings per dose is all it takes–about 60 cents. We have to buy the medicine in advance of the clinic, and neither I nor Rose (who is coordinating for me) know how many children to expect; however, we both estimate at least 200 here. In town and at the larger market across the way, we’ll probably need more–300 to 400 doses. For a round number, let’s say 1,000 bottles of de-worming medicine will be sufficient for the need; that will cost $600. (Marc also wants to make copies of The Two Kingdoms tract available, which cost about 8 shillings each to print.) That’s a lot more than I expected when I talked to Rose about hosting a clinic to serve the kids in our neighborhood. Will you help? If assisting with this project interests you, please visit www.KingdomDrivenMinistries.org/donate to make a tax-deductible donation. Just earmark it at checkout for “Children’s Clinic.”

I’m not much of a fund-raiser, but if God is in this project, I trust that HE will provide. I have lots of great ideas for service projects I’d like to implement in the future and if this is a big disaster (knowing me) I’ll probably get discouraged…so more than anything I do appreciate your prayers! I’ll keep you posted with dates and other details as we get more organized. God bless you!