Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thursday Travels

The second day in the village, Tuesday, was a day of working with the students and helping the villagers with our project for the week.
First stop though was seeing one of the water storage tanks that we had worked on during the previous trip.  These tanks are now complete and provide clean water to the villagers.  The water comes from a natural spring in the mountains.  The villagers test the water quality regularly and add chemicals as need for purification. 

Next, we split into two teams...One group started painting, while the other team worked with the 1st-3rd graders on basic english.  We had 30 minutes for our lesson.  Brigitte and I taught animals and weather...we had a lot of fun making funny sounds and interacting with the kids.  The teachers and some leaders of the community are in the back.  They participated as well.
After lunch, we split into three teams and worked with the 4th and 5th graders on what is known as the Rejoice Project.  This is where the kids learn scripture and a character trait each month.  This month we were working on Cooperation.  Our verse was, "For two are better than one because they get a good return for their hard work"  I believe that is in Ecclesiastes.
Aunties group made paper hands.  At the end, they were displayed on the walls of the classes in a wreath formation. 
My group worked on a lesson, and then we tried to work together and stack plastic cups.  The kids were very proud when they got it to work!

The third group played cooperation games outside...they had a parachute and various rope games to play.  I think the kids had a great time, and I know our teams did! It is so fun interacting with the kids and like the teachers said many times, you don't know whose hand you are shaking or who you are giving a hug could be the next president of Kenya!  The teachers believe so strongly in these kids.  It is refreshing to see!
Our guide David said that a missionary came to his school one day when he was young and shook his hand.  It meant so much to him, just that small gesture.  He said from that day forward he tried his best and remembered how much that person cared for him.  You just never know what kind of impact you are actually having, simply by being kind.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Mancat Monday

The mancats had a great weekend...
The weather was nice enough on Saturday to open the windows for a little while.  Oliver loved hearing his birds as well as watching them eat.  The tree to the right of this window has the suet feeders in it. 
The boys were given a new bed from a friend for hosting her cat Guinness for a week.  Tanner took right to it and has been in it everyday since.  He loves new things and always seems appreciative.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thursday Travels

Today is Monday on the trip, and we are finally heading to the village!  Our hotel is at Lake Naivasha, which is where the movie "Out of Africa" was filmed.  The village is about 1-1-1/2 hours away.  There is a paved road for a portion of the trip and then it becomes dirt roads which are very bumpy!
We drove straight to the school in Kiria.  The children were all gathered in the courtyard, along with many parents, the teachers, and the village leaders.  The children started out with a couple of fun songs.  It was so neat to look through the faces and recognize children from the previous trip.

Next, some of the women came out and sang for us.  Then they started dancing and each grabbed one of us to join in.  I will say, they got a kick out of our dancing!  We all laughed and enjoyed the fellowship.

Mercy is the village coordinator for 410 Bridge, the organization that we partner with.  She welcomed us and had us introduce ourselves, and then had many members of the community do the same.

Next was the highlight of the trip for Auntie and me...getting to meet and spend time with our sponsor girls!!

Here I am with them...We met Evelyne (the tallest one) last year, but she wasn't feeling well, so our visit was very short.  I was so pleased that she felt well this time and remembered us from before.

We brought letters for them and Evelyne couldn't wait to open hers!  The little girls don't speak a lot of English yet, but their teachers told us they brought them to class that afternoon to have them read!
Yes, we finally got some smiles from them!  This is my new girl Eunice.  She is 7 and in the second grade.  She loved coloring but was quite shy.  I can only imagine though what it must be like to meet these strangers!

This is Aunties girl Margaret.  She is also 7 but in the third grade.  

This is Evelyne.  She is now in high school which is a boarding school.  Our team leader pointed out her school to us on the drive into the village.  I would say it is 6-10 miles away.

Here is a photo of me and my girls.  I am so proud of them and cannot wait to see what God has in store for them!

We were able to spend several hours with the girls.  We colored, tried to ask questions...thankfully, Evelyne was there to translate for us!  We played some hand clapping games and just enjoyed each others company.  

Next week will be day two in the village.  Our work finally begins!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

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 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 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!!