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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Scenic Snow

Staying warm in my flannel p.j.s I am staring out the windows and taking in some breath-taking scenes of snow covered trees and storybook fenceposts. Amazingly enough I went playing on a frozen pond yesturday and have realized that I am glad to be in North America for a while. I am not the biggest fan of winter, but thankfully, this year has been fairly mild, so my January return to Canada was not as harsh as I imagined it would be.
Almost a week ago I arrived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to help my cousin. She is cutely pregnant, but there are some complications, so I have come to the rescue to help look after three young children, be a chauffeur, help with meals, clean occasionally, and be her sherriff. We have had a blast catching up though and I'm finding that the days are just flying by.
On Thursday we went to Bible study together, at her church, and we were studying John the Baptist and the beginning of Jesus' ministry in the book of Matthew. The further we dug into the Scriptures, the more my mind went back to East Africa. I thought a lot of Kalacha as we talked of John the Baptizer wearing camel hair clothing and eating locusts and honey. Camel hair is itchy and locusts are crunchy. :)
Then we moved on to the desert where Jesus was "led by the Spirit" to be tempted by Satan. The desert is super hot, dry, and barren. Rock abound, so it's no wonder Satan offered him rocks to change into bread. "If you are the Son of God" was trying to place doubt in Christ's mind... and isn't that just how Satan works... by starting with one small ounce of doubt and building upon that.
Since living in Uganda, I have learned that it is a good thing to be like Jesus after the third round of temptation. "Get away from me Satan!" Don't be afraid to see evil as evil. My friends in Soroti would often say "the devil is a liar" if I stubbed my toe, misplaced my Bible, fell off my bike, etc. Now, sometimes I know things are my fault, but Satan puts things in our path to make us stumble, even momentarily. If I can't find my Bible, I can't meet with God. If I fall off my bike, my joyful spirit my have a tendency to fall as well.
My desire is to stand up tall, seek God only, and continue thanking HIM alone that the past three weeks home on this side of the ocean have been truly peaceful.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Welcomed Back at Bethel

Two Sundays ago I arrived back at Bethel CRC in Newmarket, Ontario and was greeted with tons of hugs and well wishes. Many people said, "Hi Karen, Welcome back. When are you leaving again?" I was absolutely overwhelmed by the encouragement and support I received from my home church.
Then on this past Sunday there was another special surprise:

Frank, one of the youth from our church, decided to play a drum solo for me at the beginning of the service. I've been trying to upload a video but it hasn't been working. Frank is from Ghana and his way of saying thank you for working in Africa was to share his talents by playing the electronic drums in a bongo mode. So cool. I wanted to get up and dance!
After church there was a cake to share with the congregation... a welcome home cake for me and...For Dad he got a Great Work George cake because he rocked on his sermon for candidacy. He's on the home stretch for getting his Masters of Divinity. Go Dad!

Friday, January 8, 2010

With New Eyes

Yesterday morning I left Nairobi and as I was traveling home I looked at everything around me with new eyes. I just imagined being a person living in the village, or in a not so modern town, and what they would see for the first time if they traveled to Canada. Here are things I saw or experienced:
  • Getting a hot towel to wash your hands and face with before and after a meal.
  • Riding on escalators or moving walkways.
  • Reading departure and arrival computers and understanding why flights are delayed.
  • Seeing the huge sandy Sahara desert and towering Alps.
  • Listening to different languages and meeting so many people from around the world.
  • Browsing through posh shops that are selling just "stuff" to take to your destination at the very last minute.
  • Eating foods like lamb, quiche, chocolate pudding, stroop waffles, and gargonzola pasta.
  • Watching constant movies or television at 38,000 feet in the air.
  • Understanding the planes need to be de-iced.

Now I have been home about 18 hours and it feels strange. With a push of a button, four loads of laundry was done. Food is being reheated in a microwave. The gas fire place quickly heats up a room and creates a beautifully relaxing mood. 600 channels could fill my day. Internet is constant. The dishwasher begs to be loaded. And snow lazily falls outside the window.

I'm curious to see how I adjust to life back here in North America without forgetting my time in Uganda. I would like to peacefully and purposefully join the two together.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Hello friends and family!

I am half way through my flight home. I just landed in Amsterdam and need to wait a few hours before flying to Toronto. I land at 8:35 pm. Yeah! I am so excited to be home. My time in Nairobi was wonderful - especially relaxing in Uhuru and Capital parks and doing some window shopping in a very modern city. I went into culture shock after being in the village for the past three weeks. I look forward to catching up with many of you during the next few weeks.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Travel in Kenya

On Saturday morning, Fidelis, Zima's dad, had taken a walk to town to see about booking my transport back down from Chuka to Nairobi. Well, he quickly found out that on Monday all Matatus were going on strike and that makes the buses very unsafe because the Matatu drivers can sometimes target buses, wishing they would also join the strike. (Matatus are van taxis that follow a certain route, and you can get off and on anywhere along the route.)
The matatus are striking because they are tired of paying bribes to police officers. I want to challenge the drivers though, in saying they wouldn't need to pay the bribes if they stuck to 14 passengers, like the van is built for, instead of always saying there is room for one more. Also, if the vehicles were up to safety standards and within the speed limit, there shouldn't be any problems.
So, without a taxi, Fidelis found a relative with a car who was willing to drive me to Nairobi. We were supposed to leave at 7 am, but of course, that is delayed by an hour. Then for the first few towns, the driver was running personal errands and I thought I would never make it to the city. (I was hoping to get there early because a friend of mine came from Uganda to hang out with me for two days before I fly out.)
Then, an hour into the drive, we blow a tire. The tire actually shreds and pulls all the lighting wiring loose on the back left side. Thankfully Zima, her brother, and father, were all with me so we could entertain eachother and help the driver.

Mazi hopped on the back of a motorcycle, that graciously stopped to see if we needed any help, and twenty minutes later they came back with a mechanic. Needless to say, we spent an hour and a half on the side of the road waiting for everything to be fixed. We took the mechanic back to his shop and continued on our way. Only to have the tire go flat two towns later. Another forty-five minutes on the side of the road.
Instead of being in Nairobi by 10:30 am it was almost 3 when we arrived. I was tired and ready to take a nap in my hotel room. It was a little strange having Zima's family help take my baggage up to my room because they were asking so many questions - how much does this place cost, and wow, a hot shower, and a big bathroom. (When you live in the village, and can't even make it to the latrine when it is raining because the mud is so thick - an indoor bathroom can be a real treat.) But soon they realized they needed to turn around and be on their way back to Chuka. I am so grateful for their hospitality. They truly invited me into their home for the holidays.
So now I am exploring Nairobi for a day and a half. I ate Chinese food for dinner and it was a real treat. But I should get back to bed. It's four in the morning and I can't sleep. Good night.

Chuka Shots

Christmas Day I did crafts with Hann and Mwita, my baby brothers in the village.
Christmas Dinner
Preparing dinner without a cutting board.
Hann and Mwita were baptized on Christmas morning at the local Presbyterian church.
Oops, caught in action!
A sleeping Nile Crocodile.
Pensive and Beautiful
Cooking beans in the kitchen

Hiking with Hann and Mwita
Village Paths
Traditional Dress
Zima is digging up a yam, a root crop from under a tree.
Tire shoes
Home-made toys
More hiking with the boys.
Slippery when wet
The whole Anampiu family
Chuka dancers at a wedding.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Chillin' in Chuka

Don't worry friends and family.... I may be quieter than normal, but I am still as alive as ever. I just happen to be living in a village home right now that has no electricity. And on the days when I have been able to walk to town there has been no internet due to the holidays. But, all in all, I am doing great and once again enjoying meeting new friends and having incredible discussions about life, God, baptism, and more.

On Tuesday morning I hope to travel down to Nairobi to spend two nights there before I fly out. I just found out this morning that the matatus (taxis) are going on a three day strike, so I am not sure how I will get down country. The buses are loaded because every student is trying to get back to school. I am now looking in to a private hire car and hoping that everything works out. I once again took it for granted, that back home there is an excess of cars, internet, restaurants, telephones, smooth roads, and electricity. I am excited about coming home and sleeping in a cozy room behind a fire place at my parents for a while.