Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thursday Travels

Welcome back to Thika, a suburb of Nairobi.  Today is Sunday and we are going to church.  Not just going, we will be helping newhope Kenya serve their community.  We are all wearing the official church "first contact" shirt that says "Karibu" (welcome) on the front, and "Here to Serve" on the back.

African church is a bit different from American church.  The service starts with a special prayer service, which lasts about an hour.  This was extremely powerful as we witnessed first hand the needs and requests of our brothers in Christ.  The service covered everything from family, protection for children, our newhope campuses, the worship service, etc...
This photo was taken by the Kenyan production team...I took it from their facebook page :)
The worship service started out with a smallish crowd.  Kenyans are on a different time schedule than Americans as well.  If something starts at 10am, as long as you are there within the hour, you are still on time!  People kept coming in throughout the service and eventually it was standing room only!
The service was special because there was a delegation from the organization called Global Partners there to ordain the newhope pastors.  This is a HUGE accomplishment as 77% of pastors never reach this milestone..  The group represented South Africa, Swaziland, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.




Pastor Gloria (pink dress) and her husband, Pastor Azik were ordained.  They are the first two pastors in the Wesleyan church in Kenya to be ordained.  We are so proud of them!

After church we had time to visit with the members.  They pointed out that we had put in this water storage tank for them the previous year.

The church's rugby team and Pastor Azik (purple shirt)  This is a fine group of young men.  They helped move chairs, they cleaned, they ate lunch last to give everyone else a chance and basically did anything that was needed.  Often without prompting.  I enjoyed getting to know these guys.

Before we ate lunch, we had a soccer match.  Yes, the newhope Kenyans had sent a video to the newhope Americans challenging us to a soccer match!  Now none of us really know how to play, so it was quite comical!  As you can see in the photo above, many rules were broken including how many to a side.  Basically, any American or kid was on our team!  One of the rugby players served as our goalie to give us a chance.
We had quite the crowd watching and laughing at us! 

In the end, the score was Kenya 2, America 1...not too shabby!

Around 2:30 it was time for our team to depart.  Four Americans remained behind as they were doing different work in Kenya, but the rest of us left for our village.  It took about 3 hours to drive to our next hotel.  Most of us slept and were ready for dinner when we arrived.  

 Auntie and I were surprised to find we were in the exact same room as the visit before!  We felt right at home.  The room has mosquito netting around the beds, which came in handy this trip as it was summer.  Thankfully, it wasn't too hot any day we were there really.  Not like what many of us think when we hear the word Africa!
Dinner was very good with lots of variety.  The soups this week were especially tasty.  We also tried a new drink called Stoney, which is a strong ginger ale type drink.  The food looks like rice, roasted vegetables, potatoes, fish sticks, spinach, chapati (bread), pork ribs, and steak.

Next week, we will start with day one in Kiria.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Tanner Tuesday

Tanner went to see his regular vet on Friday.  We have been trying to wean off a few things at the house and wanted to monitor his blood values to make sure he was tolerating everything ok.

The vet called on Saturday and said everything looked great!  Our plan is to just monitor him at home and recheck blood work every three months.

His kidney numbers, BUN and Creatinine were stable.
His electrolytes, Phosphorous, Potassium, Sodium, Calcium were all within normal limits.
His red blood cells were normal - No Anemia
His white blood cells were normal.

His urine was more concentrated this time, which shows increased kidney function...good news!

The only thing for us to keep watching closely is the thinning hair on his sides.  I believe some is from him being shaved so many times and not fully grown back.  But some is from over grooming.  I will just keep watching it.

Tanner is taking everything in stride as usual.  He is such a tolerant cat.

In terms of what we have been weaning...we have now stopped his fluids and his pepcid injections.  His kidney values just don't warrant the need for these right now.  We will repeat blood work quarterly and start the fluids back up if needed.

Tanner still takes 6 pills a day (4 heart and 2 potassium) and gets one injection (arthritis) on Sunday.

For now, Tanner is just enjoying life!



Tanner continues to beat the odds stacked against him and I couldn't be more proud of him!  Thank you all for your continued support and prayers for my boy!

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Thursday Travels

Welcome to Kenya!  Or as the Kenyan's say - Karibu!  Today will cover our first day in Kenya.  We arrived about 6am in Nairobi.  Thankfully, most of us were able to get some good rest on the flight from London.  Adrenaline kicked in as we arrived in customs, finished our forms, waited in the long line, and finally retrieved our luggage.  Several members of our Kenya church campus were waiting for us when we arrived at our bus...it was so nice to connect with people we normally only "see" on facebook!


Our first stop was the hotel, so a quick breakfast and time to freshen up...then it was off to the Ark Orphanage.
The children of the Ark sang a welcoming song for us and introduced themselves.  Many of the children were abandoned in the slums...they may have family, but their family was unable to care for them.  As you can imagine, they have various psychological and emotional scars they need to overcome. 
Judy is one of the girls I met last time, so I was happy to see her again.  Here she is in a bedroom for the girls.  She sleeps in the middle bunk. 
The Ark also has a school where they can work with the children on education but also with their other challenges.  The classes are kept small so each child can get the support they need.  As the children age, new classes are added...this will be a Class 8 when it finishes. 
Auntie with a group of older girls.  These girls have been accepted into high school, and the orphanage is trying to raise the money for them to be able to attend.  It is a study in faith as they pray and expect God to move on their behalf.  

After this, we had lunch and then went back to the church campus to help with preparations for the Sunday service, and to walk around the community and invite people to the service.
We carried supplies from the office building to the worship center.  The church is at the YMCA in Thika, so the building is used for other purposes during the week.  It is a very peaceful location.
Shaun working on sweeping the floor...it would later be mopped with rags.  It is amazing how dusty everything gets.

Next we did some outreach around Thika and invited people to church.  The sights and smells can be unfamiliar when you are in a third world country. 
People are very resourceful and use what they have to survive...

Everyone is friendly and a camera brings out the smiles.  

Somethings are different, but people are the same everywhere...they just want a friendly smile and to know someone cares for them.  We felt very welcomed by the people of Thika.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Tanner Tuesday

Tanner would like to remind everyone that he is a Super Hero...Tanner has now been in remission from Renal Lymphoblastic Lymphoma for ONE YEAR!!

WAY TO GO TANNER!!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thursday Travels

Hello everyone...this is the mom to Tanner and Oliver and I am hijacking the blog on Thursday for the next several weeks.  As you may know, I recently traveled to Kenya for a mission trip, and I would like to share some of the stories and photos from that trip.  Come along down memory lane with me...first stop - LONDON!

Our flight left Raleigh, North Carolina around 6pm on Thursday night and arrived in London around 6am (which was 1am for us weary travelers).  We made it through customs and claimed our luggage because we were going to be in London for 12 hours and 10 minutes and the limit on checking bags through is 12 hours!  So we claimed the bags and paid to store them for the day and finally met up with our tour guide for a fun day in the city.

Our guide was the same person from the last trip, so he tried to show us some new things in the city.  We walked around in the rain and cold through many narrow alleys and learned some history.
As we walked many in our group commented on how things looked and felt a lot like parts of Boston with some Williamsburg mixed in!
I loved all the unique taxis 
Auntie, in the blue coat trying to stay out of the rain!
Friendly goose waiting for a snack... 
The band heading to the Palace for the Changing of the Guard...

I've forgotten what the significance of this place is...

Loved all the really old stone walls! 
Classic photo of the clock tower...
Finally, it was time for tea and to get ready to head back to the airport... 
Happy group...we enjoyed our day in London and are ready for a nice nap on the 8 hour flight to Nairobi...see you next week in Kenya!







Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tanner Tuesday

I've been terribly slack about posting and can't believe it has been a month!  Tanner and Oliver had a wonderful Christmas.  They received many gifts and enjoyed having Auntie and me at home.  Our parents came up for a couple of days too, and Tanner enjoyed the extra attention.  Oliver spent his time under the bed!
Oliver's Christmas stash...lots of favorites here! 
Tanner's stash...I used Coccolino Creations to make them each a new bed. 
Tanner still enjoys napping on the fleece blanket from the Island Cats! 
Here's Oliver checking out Tanner in his new igloo...what's wrong with your cube Oliver? 
Close-up of Tanner in the igloo...

Tanner continues to do well and was a favorite of one of the pet sitters while we were in Kenya.  He has been getting lots of treats and snuggles.  We are monitoring him at home with no vet visits planned!

Thanks everyone for their healing purrs and words of encouragement and support!