Sunday, January 25, 2009

Our first "African" Day

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to go visit a friends village a couple hours away. We truly experienced an "African" day! Time just was not an issue. To start, we were supposed to meet our friend, Peter, at 8am to begin the journey. Well, we met him on time, but it took about another hour and a half to get on the road. First he had us come see his home here in the city. I would never have found the place, as his home is hidden behind some woodworking and metal shops. We passed many chickens, goats, and stray cats along the way and then literally had to duck through a little tin opening to enter the small alley where his home was located. It was very basic-a small tin building with a living room and a curtained off bedroom. Although Peter is married with three children, he is the only one that lives there. His wife and children live in the village with his family, while Peter stays in the big city to work--kind of sad to me, but they do what they have to do!  

Anyway, after we visited at his place, we headed to the grocery store because I had wanted to bring his family a gift but did not know what they may need. We bought them some items that are not so popular in the village such as juice, bread, and maize flour. Paul and I also picked up some bottled water for ourselves, as we knew we would not be able to drink the village water. 

For the first hour, the drive actually was better than we expected it to be-paved roads and not too much traffic. But then...the lovely paved road came to an end and the next hour of the ride was spent dodging animals and enormous pot holes.  

We arrived in the outskirts of his village around 11:15am, but due to other stops, we did not end up getting to his families house until after 1pm. Shortly after entering the village we stopped to have a coke break at a local restaurant. Cokes are surprisingly very common here and pretty inexpensive. We continued on for another 30 minutes and then took another "coke" stop at brothers shop.    
As we were driving through the village, lots of children were following our "big blue van". Once we stopped, we had a swarm of kids waiting to greet us. 

The local village children were amazed with the "white" baby. When I tried talking to them, they would run away-Peter told us that we probably were the first white people some of them had ever seen. They sure did love Micah though :) They also enjoyed having their picture taken and then looking at it! 

Next, Peter took us by a piece of property he bought and is hoping to move his family to shortly. His two little boys (ages 7 and 10) had walked about a mile and half from their current home, and were waiting anxiously to greet us at the edge of the property. They were precious! The piece of land was rather large and very private. It was about 2 acres, but most of it consisted of maize for farming. They also had some mango trees and Micah was excited about receiving some since he loves to eat mango! 

After touring his new lot, we finally made it to our intended destination-his current families compound which consisted of about 5 homes and was over 15 acres. 

We pretty much met the whole family-wife, children, parents, aunts, nieces, nephews, brothers, etc. What a crew! 

Although the elderly could not communicate with us very well, everyone was extremely gracious to us. We were immediately greeted with lots of hugs and...a third coke :) I definitely was coke overloaded for the day-but not wanting to offend them, I drank one anyway! 

Because of all the cokes we had drank, we had to use the bathroom. Although, I do not enjoy them one bit, I have used several "squatty-potties" in my life, but Paul and I both agreed that this was by far the worst!! The smell was enough to kill you, so I held my breath right away. Upon entering, I was greeted with a HUGE spider on the wall, as well as other creepy little critters. As if that was not bad enough, I then noticed a large swarm of maggots beneath me. SICK SICK SICK!!! I was out of that puppy as fast as possible.

Peter then took us around to explore the property while the ladies stayed and cooked for us. The property was beautiful and had maize (corn) fields, mango and papaya trees, blackberry and strawberry bushes, bee hives, etc. When ducking under a papaya tree, Paul unfortunately was stung by his first wasp ever-his arm did swell a little, but thankfully there was no major allergic reactions. 

(I personally loved how all the little boys followed Peter and Paul around) 
(Peter climbing the mango tree to shake some off for us to take home)
(the kids collecting the mangos-they let us take ALL of those home)

After hiking around their place, we settled down back at Peter's home and had our first Kenyan meal since arriving-and Paul did great! It consisted of chicken (aka rubber!), potato stew, rice, chapatis (sort of like thicker tortillas), beans, cabbage, and some greens. We ate, and ate, and ate...I thought his wife would never stop piling food on my plate! 

Once finished eating, we all gathered around outside while the children danced for us (too bad was camera was dead at this point). While watching the dances, we were served chai and bread. They performed several different ones, and I even joined in and attempted to learn their dances. It was quite humorous, I'm sure :) 

Our day ended with each family member saying something nice to us (Peter had to translate for the most part), and we were given fresh eggs, mangos, and maize to take home. We then were expected to speak in return, and handed each of them the gifts we had brought. 

All in all, it was a rather long day, but we were so glad we were finally able to truly immerse ourselves into the African culture. We were thankful for this opportunity and this is an experience we will never forget!

Kari, Micah, and Peter's wife, Florence, and 6 month baby, Faith

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Just What the Doctor Ordered

It has been unusually pouring down rain for the past two days. January is considered dry season and is HOT HOT HOT. The rain has been nice and cooled things down a bit, but is no fun to get out in. However, Friday afternoon our family loaded up and drove to the doctor for Micah's 9 month check-up. It rained steadily the whole way there, but as soon as we entered the building, there was a major down pour. Luckily we missed getting totally drenched! 

I was anxious to meet a Pediatrician-just in case an emergency were to pop up. When we arrived in Kenya, I was surprised to see how many Pediatricians there was to choose from. Thankfully, before I even arrived in Africa, a good family friend had recommended one to us that she works with on short term medical trips. And God is so good, because his office is literally right up the road from us (about 3 miles-but took about 10 minutes because of traffic). Since we are in a big city and traffic can be horrible, it was important to me to have Micah's doctor nearby. Dr. Stephen Muhudia is a wonderful Christian man, very personable, and seemed very competent in his skills. He was excited to meet us as he had heard of us from Mrs. Webster-which was so nice and made us feel a little more at home. Thanks Mrs. Webster for recommending him to us! :) 

Well, our appointment was pretty uneventful as Micah is a healthy little one. He was now old enough to get his Yellow Fever shot and is eligible to get his 3rd Hep B shot anytime now. We probably will return in a few weeks to do this. Micah now weighs 9.1 kg (a little over 20 lbs) and is 70 cm (27 1/2 inches) tall-about the 50% for both. We were surprised to hear that even though Micah's gums are swollen, that his teeth look to be about 2 months away. Paul and I keep thinking they will pop up any day now-guess we are way wrong! 

On a side note, I am realizing more and more the importance of adjusting to the International System of Units because it applies to everything I do here-cooking, shopping, driving, and now even going to the doctor! Nursing school prepared me a little for this, but I definitely have needed a bit of refreshing. 

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Have Yourself a Turkish Little Christmas

Most of our trip to Turkey was spent touring, but for Christmas we just chilled around the house. The best part of the trip was being with family over the Christmas holiday. 
We had a wonderful day relaxing at the house, opening presents, and just enjoying being together.
 We also were so excited to meet our precious nephew, Levi, for the first time. He is two months old and is the most relaxed, laid back baby-just like his sweet mommy! We shall see if that changes over the years and if he gets some of his dad's feistiness in him! Anyway, here are a few pictures from the actual Christmas day.  Love and miss all of you already!
Christmas Eve with our little ones in their cute Christmas pjs 

Don't these two just look so excited about Christmas!?! :)
Our wonderful hosts for the whole week-with our newest additions! We love you all!
All the boys hanging out Christmas day
The whole crew out to eat for Christmas dinner at a good Italian restaurant
Had to get a family picture for Micah's 1st Christmas-although it is not the best of him! Oh well...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Touring Turkey

For Christmas we had the opportunity to spend time with family in Turkey. We had such a great time and would go back in a heartbeat! Most of the time we stayed at Tim and Anna's home in Istanbul-what a beautiful city (I'd love to see it in the summer)! Istanbul is a huge city composed of about 10-15 million people and very few of them speak English. Paul and I were completely amazed at how well Tim and Anna did communicating with locals. They may disagree, but they sure sounded Turkish to us!! It made me realize how easy we have it where we live in Kenya, where English is the norm. 

There was so much to see on our trip and just not enough time! We had to laugh at how many modes of transportation it took us to get somewhere in Istanbul-we would walk about a mile, take a 20 minute boat ride, take a tram for several stops, and then walk some more. Sometimes we even through a taxi in there too-depending on how tired and cold we were. We actually enjoyed all the different ways of traveling as it made us slow down a bit. You really have to plan your day out well!  

Quick story-One of the last days we were there, we had been out touring in the rain the whole day and were freezing and tired. We had been carrying the babies on us all day and instead of walking the mile from the boat to Tim and Anna's home, we opted for the girls to take a cab home. So we waved a taxi down and Anna, Levi, Lottie, Micah, and I jumped in quickly. Tim handed Anna some money to pay him and she told him where to take us. We probably had not gone 50 feet when the Turkish taxi driver pulls over to the side of the road and starts spitting off a bunch of Turkish and points for us to get out. Basically, he had told us that it was too close to drive for too little money, traffic would be bad, and that he had "no change". So yes, he made us get out! We were so ticked at him, but thankfully we found another taxi who had some sympathy and felt bad making us walk with our babies in the rain. Needless to say, this taxi driver got a nice tip!! The boys walked and still beat us home. Tim was little furious when we told him the story and told us we should have "shamed" the driver...if you know Tim, that comes as no surprise, and I loved his reaction! :) 

We also toured Ephesus for a day, which was neat to see all the ruins and see where the Apostle Paul had been. Life was so much different back then! Below are some of my favorite "site seeing" pictures from the week. Hope this gives you a little glimpse of the fun we had together :) 

The Bosphorus Sea in Istanbul-about to board the boat to get to the other side
The Hagia Sophia-a beautiful old church of Justinian that is now turned into a Mosque
The Blue Mosque
A road in Ephesus where shops used to be lined up on the sides
Behind us is the amphitheater where the Apostle Paul visited
A sweet picture of my boys :)
Outside our hotel in Ephesus, taking a few quick pictures at the Aegean Sea