Sunday, May 27, 2018

God is My Salvation

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.”
(Isaiah 12:2 New International Version)

Last week I had written here that I had had an uneventful week, that there wasn’t much new to say, good or bad. Don’t I wish all weeks were like that! This past week has been stressful for me. I can’t go into why, nothing horrible has affected my life specifically, though there are a few glitches in my system. But mostly just getting all kinds of bad news regarding other people. Thinking that I really need to stock up on my “thinking of you” cards, as I used them all up this week.

Thinking that I should get the verse above made into a stamp that I can stamp on all these cards I’ve wanted to, needed to, send to people. I’d also tell them how much God loves them and that He really doesn’t want these bad things to happen to them. But He also never told them that life would be easy. No matter what though, He will never leave them or forsake them.

Lord, God Almighty, be with all Your people. Open their ears so they may hear, open their eyes so they may see, let them know that You are their salvation in every trial. Amen. 
And remember that we have to take the thorns with the flowers. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Randomness next to the Maasa Mara

I’m still blogging about my recent trip to Kenya. Amazing how even though the trip was only one week and I only (only!) took 500 pictures, I can still continue to drag out stories from those ten days.

I started out by telling you about the main purpose of our trip – to research the feasibility of supporting a community center for a Maasai village. Before I move on to other things we did on the trip, I thought I would fill you in with some of the random pictures I took while we were staying in the safari camp next to the village.

We always run into a few scruffy dogs. Some are claimed to belong to someone, most are not. Whenever one seems to have a owner, the dog’s name is invariably Simba, such as the dog here on the left. I don’t remember the other one’s name.
 When we first got to camp, I stayed in my tent for an hour to rest while my son, Nick, went on the nature walk up the big hill. He got some good shots of the baboons.
 A variety of fences.

Just grazing peacefully.
 Our guide for the day, Alex, told us they are spraying the goats here against bugs and other pests.
 Love the names of the various tents at our camp.

 Nick especially liked the name of his. I think they added an extra letter by mistake.
Next to the Maasai village is what they call the “shopping center”. On the map, however, it is the town of Ololaimutiek.

 At night, in the dining hall of the camp, a gecko resides on the TV screen. He basks in the warmth of the screen and feasts on the insects which are attracted to the light
Just like back home, nothing like an evening bonfire. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

And Some More Water

Last Thursday, I filled you in on some of the challenges of obtaining clean water in much of the third world. Today’s pictures will be filled with water, none of it clean however.
All this spring Kenya has been experiencing record flooding. In some places, it’s not as noticeable. All you see is lots of green.

 In other places, especially along the roads, you feel as if the water might just float you away.

These were all taken on the way out to the Masa Mara, so this is a fairly heavily traveled road.
Hopefully, it will help when the current road construction is complete. 
But remember, this year was the exception. Most times when I've ridden out in this direction, our vehicle has been surrounded by dust and I would have loved to see some water puddles.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

God is in control

8 And now this word to all of you: You should be like one big happy family, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. 9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t snap back at those who say unkind things about you. Instead, pray for God’s help for them, for we are to be kind to others, and God will bless us for it.

10 If you want a happy, good life, keep control of your tongue, and guard your lips from telling lies. 11 Turn away from evil and do good. Try to live in peace even if you must run after it to catch and hold it! 12 For the Lord is watching his children, listening to their prayers; but the Lord’s face is hard against those who do evil.

13 Usually no one will hurt you for wanting to do good. 14 But even if they should, you are to be envied, for God will reward you for it. 15 Quietly trust yourself to Christ your Lord, and if anybody asks why you believe as you do, be ready to tell him, and do it in a gentle and respectful way.

16 Do what is right; then if men speak against you, calling you evil names, they will become ashamed of themselves for falsely accusing you when you have only done what is good. 17 Remember, if God wants you to suffer, it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing wrong! (1 Peter 3:8-17 Living Bible)

I’ve had a relatively uneventful week, which I guess is a good thing. Nothing has happened in my immediate world which is worthy of shouts of joy or tears of failure. Unlike current events in the world.

Another school shooting. When did “school shooting” become the thing to do and why? How did our society become filled with so many troubled young people set on going on killing sprees? And Prince Harry has taken a wife, an American woman whisked away in a fairytale wedding to become a princess – every girl’s dream.

This morning I was trying to decide what to blog about so I reverted to a list of Bible verses I had in a file for days when nothing else jumps out at me. Well, the verses above certainly jumped out at me today. I thought about picking out just one or two, but they are all too good, too true, too much in need of being shared and pinned on everyone’s wall.

Lord, God Almighty, You and only You are in control. Let us always turn to You in times of trouble as well as in times of joy. Amen. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Water, water, water, another thing we take for granted

 On Wednesday, I told you a little about the community center we hope to establish to help the Maasai villagers living near the town of Ololaimutiek in Kenya. One of the daily struggles these people have is obtaining enough water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

Here in America, we take it for granted that all we need to do to have fresh water is to turn on the facet. That is not the case in much of the world.
Along with all their other household tasks, the women are responsible for collecting the water supply for the family. They walk about a mile to get to the nearby river and it takes about an hour every day to bring enough water into their home to last a day.
We were there during the rainy season. You can tell by all the recent erosion, yet it had previously been so dry that here you can’t really tell that they have had any rain. Imagine hauling a twenty to thirty pound jug of water up this bank and then carrying it home, a mile away?
The women also wash the family’s clothes in the river.
Further downstream, more water is flowing, but it is also the place where the men of the tribe graze their cattle and goats. You’d rather not drink water that livestock has been using, right?
On the  other end of the river, our partner organization, Marafiki Community, has tapped into a spring which provides constant clean water.
Izzo, the founder of Marafiki, holds up a bottle of clean water and one from the river. Again, because it is the rainy season, more water has been flowing through the river so it doesn’t look too bad here. During the dry season, though the river doesn’t dry up, the water in it looks more like mud.
Though the walk to retrieve this water is still about the same distance, at least the water is clean.
We are looking into ways for the women to easily bring a clean, unlimited water supply into their homes. 

If you would like to help, you can mail your tax-deductible donation to 
Tumaini Volunteers, PO Box 537, Wausau, WI  54402. 
Or click on this link to donate via PayPal. Any size donation will be appreciated.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Whole Purpose

 In April of 2017, my daughter, two other girls, and I journeyed to Kenya to complete a rabbit project at Southern Cross Academy at the SIDP camp in Maai Mahiu. After returning home from the trip, we jumped right into researching a new project to work on in 2018.

By the fall, our sister organization in Kenya, Marafiki Community, started telling us about a new idea they had. To build a community center near one of the Maasai villages. The thought was to have a center where the local women could create their crafts as well as take classes. Adjacent to this, would be a shop where they could sell the items they have made. In addition, a third area would offer gourmet tea and coffee along with snacks for tourists traveling through on their way to safari in the Masa Mara Game Park.

It sounds like a wonderful idea. But also a lot of work.

There is so much involved with this project, so the purpose of our most recent trip was to find out as much as we could about this village and the area. I wish I could spend a few months with these amazing people; there is so much to learn. As it was we spent a few hours one afternoon and most of the next day in their village and the surrounding land to learn as much as we could.

First, you can’t help but be in awe of the beautiful place where the Maasai live. For all it’s beauty, yes, it can be a harsh environment. You can see the town of Ololaimutiek in the distance. The village of Nkoirero, the one we will be working with, is just below that and to the right, pretty much hidden by that brush. 

This is one of their homes, from when I was there in October 2015.                                                     

Every nine years or so, they have to move the entire village, because termites erode the wood frame of their homes. Also they feel the land needs to “rest”. So the women build all new homes a few hundred yards away, and it takes a group of them about a month to make each home from sticks, mud and dung.
 This is inside a home. I love the way they built the shelves right into the walls.
But I wanted to show you the people. I interviewed the women with their children, explaining the project we want to undertake and asking them what they thought. They applauded me when I was done, so I guess they thought it was a good idea. 
Some of them told me they go to bed hungry many nights, so I think they are ready to do what they need to so this can succeed.
This is Mary, who is one of the few women who knows English, so she interpreted for me. She is with her three-month-old named Brilliant.
My son Nick met with the men at the same time, to learn their perspective.

In their spare time (which I can’t believe they even have), the women make beautiful, intricate beaded jewelry and other crafts. We have brought some home in the past and have sold it to raise money. When this community center is up and running, the women can sell these crafts to tourists and benefit directly.  
The three different sections of the community center will cost $5,000 each to complete. A big undertaking. If you would like to help out, you can mail your tax-deductible donation to Tumaini Volunteers, PO Box 537, Wausau, WI  54402. Or click on this link to donate via PayPal. Any size donation will be appreciated.

Watch for more pictures next time!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Not What I Deserve

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 New International Version)
A week ago, I returned, safe and sound, from my fifth trip to Kenya. We hope to provide the financial support in the creation of a community center near the village of Ololaimutiek, so we needed to gather as much data as we could about the area and the people living there.

Wednesday, I had a follow-up appointment with my foot doctor. After tromping all over Africa and half of Europe (ok, a wee bit of an exaggeration, but it still felt like that much), I was sure she was going to yell at me. But, no, she gave me the green light, turned me loose, said to take it easy and not do anything stupid, but to start walking on that foot, do some simple exercises, get it strong again.

Then Friday I had an appointment at the dentist, where he was planning to replace fillings on two teeth and get two other teeth prepped for crowns. After he got all the old fillings out, he was like, these teeth don’t look so bad, I think we can just go with fillings on all of them. Really? Like save me a couple thousand dollars, as well as the hassle of going back to get those crowns glued in.  

So, I had a good week and am feeling especially blessed. But these triumphs are by far not something that I deserve. For all the work I am doing in Kenya and even whatever I do for others here in my hometown, it would never be enough to buy my way into heaven. You may all think I am perfect, but my list of sins is as long as an elephant’s trunk. And that’s not why I do what I do anyway.

I try to do good because I am a child of God.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for all the countless gifts you bestow upon me, gifts which I do not deserve. Forgive all of my sins. And bless those who are struggling right now, show them Your Love and offer them the free gift of salvation. In Jesus name, Amen. 
Some of the children and women from the village we hope to help. You can make your tax deduct donation to this cause by going to our website, by clicking here. 
Also watch for upcoming blog posts where I will tell you more about it. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

First Leg of Another Trip

Hard to believe that it was only two weeks ago that I was on the first leg of my fifth trip to Kenya. As you should already know, this was the first time that I traveled there with my son Nick. Three of the previous trips were with my daughter Val and one was with my friend Denise. This journey would be a whole new adventure, letting Nick call the shots.

Because we had made our plane reservations only four weeks prior, we got what some would say was a rough itinerary. We flew out of Chicago O’Hare at 7:30 pm and arrived in Zurich at 10:30 am. Our plane to Nairobi wasn’t leaving until the next morning. Not to worry, we decided to see as much of Zurich as we could in that 23-hour window.
 I would love to tell you what each of these pictures is of, but that would take all day and then some. I can tell you that we took the train and a bus to the top of Mount Uetliberg. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm.

 I wish you could see the Alps on the horizon better.


The rest of the pictures are just from wandering the streets around the hostel we got for the night. It was within an easy walk to the train which took us to and from the airport. There was so much more we could have seen, buildings, museums and churches, which were close by, but a person can only absorb so much when they are going on a couple hours of sleep. I would do it again, though, in a heartbeat.