Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It will be one year on Sunday

It has been a year of mixed emotions. Ones of deepest grief and ones of great loneliness. There are times of extreme gratitude for those who prayed for Ray and for those who continue to pray for me. I have found hope in my GriefShare Group and with my Stephen Minister. My daughters, who carry their own grief, and I have spent even more time together than before. As Ray said in the hospital the week he died when the grandchildren were playing, life goes on. Now we will have two more grandchildren added to our family by Thanksgiving.

Our family and Ray's brother's family will gather at my house on Sunday afternoon to celebrate and remember Ray's life so that the grandchildren will remember and eventually learn who Grandpa Ray was.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It has been too long!

I have wanted you to see the children and the schools we visited in Kenya, but the days have not been as good as I would have liked so sitting down to write anything earlier would not have been good. I reread the quote I left for you in the last blog and it took me back to Kenya and the mountains, the people and mostly the children. That was good so here goes...

This was our first school. These children have been checked in and have seen the doctor. They are now receiving any medications and their instructions from our "pharmacist".

This was another stop at what we believed was a Catholic run school. These children were lined up to receive their chewable pill for deworming. This was a major emphasis for our trip along with relationship building.

We visited the Dept. of Children Services Nairobi Children's Home. We were not allowed to take pictures while here. We did get to visit with all of the children and checked on the ones who were ill. This children's home takes in children left on the street and keeps them until they are six. The ones that are handicapped, blind, cerebral palsy, or other permanent ailments are then sent to another facility, the rest are hopefully adopted by places like Tumaini or are pick up by their parents. Otherwise, they are just let go.

This is what most of the school class rooms looked like in the villages. Some "chalk" boards were walls painted black. They have Christian teachings everywhere.

We attended church here on Sunday and returned on Monday to have a free clinic for the church people and anyone they talked to. We saw nearly 200 people that morning.

There are not too many pictures of children here, mostly places. The reason is I was checking in all of those children as they came in nonstop so I only had time to take pictures before or after my work. But I saw them or at least half of them as Kathy and I shared the Triage duty.  It was a unique blessing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Out Of Africa

I haven't gotten very far on finishing my adventures in Kenya, but life has been busy. As I told you earlier I spent my 60th birthday in Kenya and my daughters had a birthday party for me when I got back with just family. One of my gifts was from my nephew Dave and his wife Cheryl. They hunted down the out of print book, "Out of Africa" and the movie of the same title with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.

Our driver told us many times of Karen Blixen who wrote this book. She had this large coffee farm in the pre and post WWI period. There were hospitals and schools named after her. Street names and buildings and there was even a museum. She was highly esteemed by the Kikuyu people for her generosity and ability to allow them to remain who they were without making them Danish or British.

Well, I finished it on Sunday finally. It was not an easy book to read. She was a storyteller and that is what this book was. She would tell a story of people, places, events, and her thoughts on them and then put them in appropriate groupings. Once I finished the book I watched the movie.  It must have been filmed after the rainy season as everything was green instead of the yellowish brown that I saw. It was simply amazing and even more beautiful than I remember. Watching Streep and Redford wasn't bad either. The movie had only small portions of the book in it as it also was a collection of stories from many of her writings.

I want to leave you with a partial quote from the book written under Karen Blixen's pen name, Isak Dinesen. "I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills...It was Africa distilled up through six thousand feet, like the strong and refined essence of a continent...In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My days at Tumaini

We arrived in Nairobi late on the 1st of March and stayed in a B&B in town and left on the 2nd to drive to the Tumaini Home about an hour away. We unloaded, unpacked our own stuff into our huts, and began to sort out the school supplies from the medical supplies. This took all afternoon mostly due to jet lag but also to a new found  time known as Africa time. While we had a mission to accomplish, life took on a simplicity here that is hard to find in the US.
The Tumaini Home is in the mountainous region of Kenya so the air was different than NC, it was not as heavy with oxygen or humidity. With those of us with a touch of new found asthma this made the climbing a little difficult but not undoable. Tumaini was free of pollution from the city so the air was clean and sweet smelling, if you like to smell a farm. I missed the smell of horses though, which I did not see any of while here.
The children here were different from the children in the schools we visited. The children here were mostly healthy and well fed. These children had on clothing that was clean and fairly well fitting. These children were loved on. That was not always the case in the schools we visited or the public institutions we saw. This is why Tumaini is special. These children have a chance to grow up to be health adults in a country of gross poverty. They will have an education and know that people love them and care that they survive.
The children did not always look "happy", they are in an orphanage, but they are in one that allows them to be children as best they can. It felt good to be among the children and "mothers" here. You sensed God's lovingkindness, gentleness, and hope. It was good to be here and a good place to just be.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Some pictures of Tumaini

These are the huts that we stayed in while at Tumaini. They were originally real huts of mud and unmentionable items but now they are stucco and have metal roofs. I stayed in the third from the right with the white triangles at the top. All had baths with showers and well water that was safe to drink. The food was all fresh and much was from the farm on the property. We did find out near the end of our stay that the chai that we had every morning which was delicious to drink was made from the cows milk on the property. It was so good and I learned to eat things I would never eat here and I lost weight on top of eating like an oinker!

These are some of the children that live at the home/school. You can see that there are many different ages. The oldest children are in public schools and not here at this time.

This is the school the was partially funded by the Coor's family of Golden, Colorado. They had adopted a child from Kenya and wanted to be part of this project. The building is named for their son, The Noah Project.

This is Kathy, my roommate, with one of the babies listening to the other children.
The farm on the multi acre land is rich and will sustain the school and those who work and live there well.  There is a stocked fish pond, a barn with pigs, cows, and chickens. Outside we also saw sheep and some goats. The gardens had every vegetable and herb you could imagine as well as all of those rows of Banana trees.

There are even a couple of monkeys waiting for ripe bananas to fall from the tree:) We were really hoping a spider would not fall on us.

These are the Little Tykes playground toys that we bought from a Toys R Us like store in Nairobi. The children loved them and needed to have a teacher to keep them from crawling all over each just like our kids would do. We also had bubbles to play with as well as the boxes from the toys to keep them entertained while they waited their turn. We wished we could have gotten more, but these two pieces cost $500 in US dollars in Kenya. The hope is next year to have plans for a wooden swing set and to carry the metal brackets, then buy the wood there. Also, we would need another guy to carry the weight of the wood and to help dig the post holes. Any takers?

Friday, March 18, 2011


After too many hours on two planes and a long layover in London with a delay due to mechanical difficulties, we finally arrived back to Raleigh, NC a little after 6pm Tuesday night. I spent the first night at Mary's house as it became very evident that I was too tired to drive home. Mary made up my usual bed in the basement and I crashed sometime around 9 and reappeared almost 12 hours later. After finally washing off all of the Kenya dust and the airplane stuff, I felt human again. I drove home and just got reacquainted with my house. I was so pleased that I had taken the extra time to clean off all of the counters as it was very welcoming. I picked up the mail and paid the bills. Went to the grocery and had some supper. Then....I slept in my own wonderful bed. Heaven! It is great to go, but is so good to come home to the familiar.

I have not downloaded my pictures to the computer, but I am going to be with my daughters and their husbands tomorrow for my Birthday celebration and if I haven't figured it out by then, I'm sure one of them will take it over. I so want to show you what I have tried to say in words. This trip to Kenya was all that I had hoped it would be and maybe it was more. I am still working all of that out in my mind and don't have all the words yet, but when I do I will share them. I have had a good day, I hope you have too.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mara Serena Safari Lodge

We arrived yesterday in time to have lunch before the dinning room closed at 2 pm. This was after a very long six hour drive on mostly unpaved roads to this picturesque mountain lodge. The food is marvelous and the rooms are quality resort style. After lunch we got back into our van with the roof top lifted so we could stand for viewing. We did lots of that and the cameras were clicking often. I had not done my homework very well before I left so I did not realize that this wildlife preserve in Kenya connects to the Serengeti preserve in Tanzania. The land belongs to the Maisi Tribe that lives in the Great Rift Valley. A group of Maisi Men (young Warriors) came to entertain us last evening with one of their dances. It was a competition of sorts to see which one of them could jump the highest. They included some of the audience and one from our group was included. It was a good time.

Today we had a morning drive and spent nearly 4 hours looking for animals. A few of my favorite sightings were first a herd of Zebras we saw near a river. They needed to go down about 20 feet to get to the water. We startled them at first but soon they were comfortable and they went down a ravine one by one and then they started to run down the ravine. The thundering sound was exciting along with the sound of the splashing water as they hit the river full force. Up the river several yards were 4 hippos in a row not moving and acting like logs in the river.

My other favorite sighting was a close encounter with a lion and his two lionesses eating their just caught prey. He was eating what they had recently brought in as they watched. He walked away as nature called and when he returned he ran to growl at the females to leave his food alone. He soon settled down and let them eat and started walking away. We stayed with him for a short time as he when to find his own shade.

We have had our last supper together in Kenya, sort of, and have packed to leave for an early drive out to the range in the morning for one last chance to see any new wild life. After breakfast we head back to Nairobi for the long flight back to the USA and I guess real life. I do hope I remember that I can do with lots less than I have and to be content with what God does gives me. There is simplicity in that way of life for may of the people I have met here. Far too many people have less than what they need in life to sustain health let alone happiness. Some have turned to drugs to escape the horrors of poverty, some to crime, but many seem to have been drawn to a deeper commitment of faith and reliance on God for their needs to be met than any of us have ever felt the need other than in a crisis. I pray I don't forget that.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lunch with the Kibera faculty and some students

This morning we finished the 400 individual cards for the children at the Kibera school to encourage them and to let them know they would be remembered by us. We headed out when that was done to purchase beans for the school. We were able to buy 315 kilos which would be 788 lbs. at a cost of $258.13. We needed to do this because there was not enough money raised yet to ship the Stop Hunger Now food over. The beans will help for a while but the Stop Hunger Now food would allow them to eat every day of the week and not just two or three. Some children have to take half of their lunch home for a sibling and still it is the only meal of the day for them.

From here we drove to a small shopping center with a restaurant that we would eventually fill with the 8 of us and 18 staff and students from Kibera. Each student was chosen by their classmates to be a representative for their class. My table had a boy from level 8 and three girls from levels 3,4 , and 6. Edward was very well spoken and want to study science at the university to be an engineer. The oldest girl wanted to study to be a doctor and the other two wanted to be nurses. Edwards thoughts of being a rich man would be to have a Mercedes Benz and a driver like we have in the US. We assured him that we didn't have Mercedes nor did we have drivers. Only movie stars and executives have drivers. Regular people drive their own cars. I was able to talk to some of the teachers after lunch . One of the men that I talked to one the first day going into Kibera was the one I talked to today. Edward said he gave credit to this teacher for his success since he came to Kibera in level 2. I talked to him about his love of teaching and the problems he sees in Kibera. He talked about living contented with what God gives you in life and not want any more than you can take care of. We talked of the plague of HIV/ Aids and how so many of the school children are orphans because both of their parents have died of this awful disease. This man was 34 but had the face of one much older. Not so much a wrinkled face, but a face that has seen so much tragedy in his young life that it has aged him with a wisdom and concern for his people and these children. God bless Elijah.

Tonight we pack for a 7 am departure for our last few days here in Kenya. This place is much like New Mexico in that when you first see it you think what a God forsaken place. But then, it grows on you and it becomes enchanting. I am becoming enchanted with Kenya.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It's my Birthday

We had a special breakfast today. We had mandazi which are filled small donuts. Yummy. And as always, a cup of chai and we found out yesterday after our walk around the compound of Tumaini that it is made from the milk of the cows here. Also yummy.

After breakfast one group went for a tour of a local hospital and found that to be impressive. I went with our team leader a few others to buy play ground equipment at a Toys R Us kind of store.  We bought a slide and a sea saw for $500. I bought the same slide for my grandchildren and I know the price in the states. There has to be a better way to get playground toys here.

The best part of my day was a conference call from my two daughters to wish me a happy birthday! It was so good to hear their voices! I love them so much and this was a special surprise and an awesome birthday gift. Love you both.

Lost Posts

I have written two posts about our day in the Kibera slum spending over two hours on each. The Kindle is very slow from here. Both crashed before I was able to post them. I guess I am to wait until I return.
Yesterday we went to a Giraffe reserve and hand fed them. They have very long black tongues. We also went to a bead and pottery making factory and store. It was built to give single mother's an income.
In the evening we had an Ash Wednesday Service that I led with a Liturgy Anne found on Google. It was a blessing to be here and lead this small service.
Wednesday was a very good day!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Two clinics today

The first one was at the church and we saw mostly adults. Most of the complaints were relatedto old age and hard physical labor. I made some special connections with a few women here and I pray for God's continued blessing on them.

After lunch we drove to another school for deworming and to check on those who were sick. After checking out the children we walked through some of the classrooms. Each room has student desks that seat two each. The bench seat is a1 1/2 by 8 connected with a riser another same size board for the desk top. The walls are bare stone or block and the ceiling shows the rafters. I took a picture of a very pretty bird sitting on one of the rafters.

The blackboards were plastered walls painted black. On one such board was written the Patriarchs of the church starting with Abraham. This is a public shcool. They had science centers and other creative learning opportunities in the classrooms. Tomorrow will be our first day in the slums of Kibera.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Nairobi Children's Home

This Children's Home has 79 little boys and girls from 0 to 6 years. We only got to see the babies and many were sick. This plac is fortunate in that they have nurses on staff an many of those we diagnosed were already on some kind of treatment.

These child are here for many reasons. Some are being held until the parent is well enough to come and get them. Some if not all of the rest have been abanded by the parent because the child has some abnormality that they can not afford to pay for or do not want the stigma. We saw one with CP one that one that was deaf and could not speak and one that had malformed hands. As sad as this might sound these children are here in a safe environment and not wndering the streets on there own.

From here we drove to the Market to buy the food we needed to make an Americamerican meal for our host were we are staying. We are grilling hamburgers, frying potatoes, and a veggie tray.

The work and shopping has worn me out! Most is physical but I am sure some is emotional. So many many beautiful children with little hope of adoption will bepicked up by other home like Tumaini where we are staying.

Tomrrow we are going to a local churcg where the Tumaini children go. We will come back to the church on Monday to do a clinic for the sick in the church.
Please pray for my knee to hold out and for my stamina. Mostly pray for the children. Pray that the children and staffs see Jesus in us.

Friday, March 4, 2011

First full day of clinics

We went to two schools yesterday. The first school had 200 students and teachers that we gave deworming pills. We saw several of the children for various other ailments. The second school had 600 students and we saw over 100 of them and 15 to 20 had pneumonia and they were they still going to classes. Very resiliant children.
Today was shopping at the open air market. We shopped for all things African and bartered for the best bargains.
God is blessing our team by bonding us together well. Our team leader has prepared a devotional that we do as a group morning and evening. They have blessed us and also brought us closer.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The team has arrived

I have been told that we spent nearly 25-26 hours in the air or on the ground with lay overs for those who wanted to know. We all got some sleep and had some good food to eat on the way. I slept well last night in a Bed and Breakfast and awoke wide awake and ready to go this morning. The grounds here are beautiful with banana trees, purple flowers that I can't spell and poinsettias in abound. My Kindle and I aren't speaking well yet so I may not blog as often as I would like until I learn the language. All is going well and I just can not believe that I am here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Bags are Packed

It is really here! It is the night before I leave for Africa and I think I am ready. My big suitcase is in the car along with the large tub with medical and school supplies that I am carrying. My carry ons are wanting for the last minute morning things and then I head out to my daughter's house mid morning. We will then transfer all of my stuff into her van so that the toddler can ride with us to the airport. After lunch we will take a quick trip to Raleigh-Durham International to fly to JFK for the first leg of the trip. I have had several people ask me how long the flight is and I tell them I don't really know and I don't care. I just know it is a long time and I'll get there when I am suppose to. I sound very Ray like I think. Very spontaneous and adventurous while I always was the planner and cautious. I do think I have planned well, but I am going to be adventurous and see where this path leads me.

My church was commissioning a group that is leaving this week for an annual mission trip to Peru and I was included in this event. It was humbling to be one of a large group of called out people to go to foreign lands to share the love of God and the saving grace of Jesus Christ. I remember when I first became a Christ follower being almost afraid that God would send me to be a missionary to Africa and now I am so excited that God IS sending me to be a missionary to Africa. Isn't that a kick in the pants!! Oh, God can be so funny. God can sometimes turn our greatest fears into our hearts desire.

Thank you to all who have called today to wish me well and promised to pray for me while I am away. I will do my best to get posts out as often as I can. Pictures will come after I return.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Blue Grass State

I spent the last week in the beautiful state of Kentucky visiting family where it was very, very cold. I had water bottles in the car that were frozen when I left to return home. As cold as it was outside, the warmth of the family visit was oh so cozy inside.
My Aunt Gladys became a widow at about my age, a year younger actually. Over the past six or seven years we have talked about what it is like to be a widow and all that it entails. She has been a great source of encouragement to me even when I was a little girl and now even more so.  It was such a delight to spend time with her.
My cousin Steve and his wonderful wife Carol were also so much fun to be with during my stay. They showed me some of the area sights, Carol and I went shopping one day and had our nails done, such a fun girl thing to do, and the last day we went to St. Meinrad's Archabbey for Vespers. What a Holy place. Listening to the monks chanting the Psalms during the service, I felt like I was in the courts of heaven.  What joy that will be!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


In the last two days I have been blessed by phone calls from two long time girls friends. Having a girl friend for 20 to 30 years is a long time, but that does not make them or me old.

One called to check out my trip to Africa and to get some details. As we chatted, she shared that she and her husband were going on a cruise for the first time in the spring with family. How fun and exciting it was to share our joys and anticipations for our upcoming adventures. Plans were made for a gathering of picture sharing and laughter later in the year.

My other good friend called on her way to another trip to be the caregiver to her in-laws who are in failing health. We are in that generation where we have parents who are presenting health problems and some are greater than others. She has already cared for her own parents and lost both of them not long ago. Now she is caring for her in-laws and it looks as if one will be lost soon. She has been my encourager many times in the past and I am so glad that I can be there to hear her concerns and encourage her.

Friendships are one of life's greatest blessings and make every day a great day!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I am going to Africa!

The end of December all Durham District members received an email from the District Superintendent offering this opportunity to all of our churches to send workers to this field of mission. Since I do not pastor a church right now I felt like it was a unique opportunity for me to follow. We are a small group of seven going to Nairobi, Kenya for two weeks starting 28 February. We are going under the missionary arm of the United Methodist Church, Volunteers In Mission (VIM) and taking food to feed children in some schools with the Stop Hunger Now program. This is a group that has gone many times before so they are continuing a relationship with these schools, teachers, and children. I am very excited to be a part of this endeavor.

We have lists for everything to include how many changes of clothing to bring. We even need to bring underwear and socks for the entire two weeks!!  Well, this made my day yesterday. After a cancelled appointment near Crabtree Mall, I went and had breakfast among the walkers at Chick-fil-A and had my Monday morning chat with Mary. I then headed out to find undies. Now, this might not thrill all of you, but some of us care how our undies fit.  When you find a brand, style, and size you like it is like winning a jackpot. Well, I have found all of the above, but do not have enough to make it through the two week trip. I started at one end of the mall and shopped all the way to the opposite end to find enough pairs to make it through the two weeks and even found some on SALE. My favorite four letter word or at least one of them. I even walked the length of the mall and back so I exercised. Ah, progress.

I ate,
        I shopped,
                        I exercised,
                                          what could be better.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Five Months Ago Today

It really has been five months since Ray said these title words to us in the hospital.  It was the last day he was able to talk to us and the day before he died.  It was not unusual for him to think it was a good day as for Ray, every day was a good day.  The nuance was the idea of writing it down.

Now that the new year has begun it is a good time to write down what I see has made each day a good day.  Sometimes it is hard to see the good in every day, but if one looks hard enough the good can be found I do believe.  The more we look, the easier it will be to find the good in each day.

I hope you will come along and share your good days with me.