Thursday, October 30, 2008

Recent news from my life in Kenya

This was just sent out this week to my network of supporters on email. If you would like to be added to that list (I send something about once every other month or so) please let me know in a comment, along with your email.

OK, so this e-news is about much more than safari like you think of safari at home. However, ‘safari’ means ‘journey’ and I am on quite the journey! I’m traveling all over the country and learning so much. Hopefully I’m teaching a bit as well.

I hope to have a newsletter out by the end of the month with more specific work here. If you are not on the snail mail list and would like to be please let me know what your snail mail address is and I’ll get you on the list.

Much thanks and many blessings to each of you.

Godspeed, Amy Achieng Mwende (my two most used Kenyan names)


Figure 1: Amy and Alice trying to dance with Maasai women from the boma we visited at the Maasai Mara in September.

Greetings from Maasailand!

I haven’t sent out an email since my return to Kenya in July. It has been crazy-busy and great, but that is no excuse for not updating you on the work and my life here in Kenya. Please allow me a few minutes to try and do so. I should also have a newsletter coming out this month for more information (and there’s always my blog at! Don’t forget to leave me a note, too.)

I have had several visitors and volunteers since my return. Last month there was a volunteer here working on writing stories for the Embrace AIDS campaign. Watch for stories coming from East Africa written by Kristen Nowicki. She’s had some great experiences and will have a variety of things to share. You can read her blog at At the same time one of my colleagues, Alice, from the Burlington, Ontario, office was here so we headed out to the Maasai Mara for a quick safari. If you get a chance to come, please plan for a bare minimum of two nights and a week if you can afford it. AMAZING!

Figure 2: A Maasai woman bargaining with me for a fair price on these bracelets for the Southlawn third graders. The table is made from manure, just like their homes.

Figure 3: Within the first thirty minutes of our plane landing on the Mara we saw our first lion pride. This cub just ignored us, and I was OK with that.

Figure 4: The Wildebeest Migration is one of the Eight Wonders of the New World. We were on the Mara during the migration but not the right side of the reserve (which is huge), so this giant train of zebras was really as close as we got to see the great migration.

Figure 5: It was amazing to see God's creatures so close to us and we prayed that they didn't get hungry.

Figure 6: The Maasai are known for their nomadic life, following the grazing land for their cattle; for keeping many of their traditions, including their clothing whether they are in the boma or downtown Nairobi; and for the men's awesome standing vertical jump.

Figure 7: Many people in African countries that are born with a disability are ignored and shunned by their culture. I was encouraged and blessed to see this young man on the far left openly welcomed and encouraged to be an active part of the daily life that we saw during our visit.

Figure 8: Kenyan and American friends playing Kumiliki on my floor. I lost big-time, but learned where several areas of Nairobi are located and what they are called.

I finally broke down and bought a game I’ve had my eye on for the last six months. I realized it was never going to go on sale and the people that would most appreciate and enjoy it are living here with me. It’s called Kumiliki and is a Nairobi version of Monopoly. It is great fun! I’ve played it several times. This past week I even played with a friend and her eleven-year-old. It’s a cultural lesson as you realize not everyone knows what it means to ‘roll the dice.’ It’s ‘toss’ or ‘throw’ the dice. It’s not ‘minus’ but ‘take-away’ when you are subtracting for change with a child.

Figure 9: Many areas outside of Nairobi are considered malaria-zone. My policy is if there is a net provided I sleep under it. It can get warm, but it's better to have a restless night than malaria.

Before Alice, Kristen and I headed to the Mara we were in Western Region visiting one of our partners. It was a good trip but also quite difficult. I have a posting on my blog regarding the difficulties and encourage you to read it – “They’re Out.” The morning of our departure we drove straight into a riot in Kisumu town. We were fine but it was definitely unnerving. It was strange to have made it through the post-election violence and then be involved in a riot eight months later. Please, check my blog and feel free to ask any questions you may have. I want to thank Andy Ryskamp, the US CRWRC Director, who God placed in Kenya at the same time as this event. Andy debriefed the three of us and was a blessing to each of us. Just another example of how God provides. I am ever-humbled by His provision for me.

The trip was so much more than just that riot though. God showed us some awesome things about our work, culture and agriculture – amaranth, honey and sugar cane.

Figure 10: A trailer filled with sugar cane on its way to the factory. Much is lost along the way and the farmer is paid by weight that is measured only once the trailer arrives at the factory.

Figure 11: One of the communities that we visited was utilizing the reeds growing nearby as an IGA (Income Generating Activity). This man is making a table that our partner staff purchased for his home.

Figure 12: These pins are made by many of our partners. Everywhere you travel in Kenya you will find people who are infected or affected by HIV and AIDS. This is a reminder to break the stigma and embrace with love and help all of God's children.

Figure 13: This woman was eager to share her story of how CRWRC, through our partner, was helping not only her, but her children and community. It’s humbling to hear such stories. You can read her story on my blog under “Sex vs. Agriculture.”

Figure 14: Chai, or tea, is an important part of Kenyan culture and you are often offered chai wherever you go. It is part milk and part water boiled and steeped with tea. Sugar is added, one or two spoons, to the steaming hot mixture and then everyone enjoys time together in fellowship.

Figure 15: This Muslim man was the only man present in one of our meetings. As the women talked of the men's behaviors he sat quietly until we asked him to respond. He agreed and talked of the pressures that are prevalent in the culture for men.

Figure 16: Recycling hits a high point. This purse is made from recycled bottle tops and wire. Kevin makes all sorts of great things while trying to protect the earth and recycling. The purses are common but he added the fabric so that they are easier to use without losing things through the holes. He has also taken old newspapers and made them into awesome gift bags of all sizes.

September brought the annual EAMT (East Africa Ministry Team) meeting. Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya staff gathered for a couple of days of meetings. We were then joined for the latter part of the week for some great environmental training, lead by a local NGO, one of our consultants from CRWRC – Tanzania and a staff member from the Burlington office. If you are interested in some of the things we discussed, I encourage you to talk with any of the staff in this region that you may know. You can also look up Care of Creation Kenya that led part of our training. One of the consultants led a discussion of what Scripture says about stewardship of the land God has given to us. It was awesome and such a blessing!

Some of us were so excited and talking about all of the ways that we can individually help our offices and partners make improvements, and we started talking about all sorts of IGAs. Our conversation continued as we walked into a mall on our way home and into a fair trade shop. That’s where we saw these awesome gift bags made from old newspapers and where I started a relationship with Kevin, the creator. It’s amazing how God brings people and ideas together.

This is only a small look into my work and life here in Kenya since July. I will try and keep in better touch.

I’d love to hear from all of you. Have a great fall!

Rejoice in the Lord, Amy in Africa

PO BOX 66490
00800 Nairobi

Friday, October 24, 2008

blog updates

I try to go through here periodically and shake things up a bit. You know, check to make sure all the links are still working, etc. So I've moved things around, added a slide show and other such funness. (funness?)

Have a great day my friends! I bought four Kenyan films today and that's instore for this weekend. WE'll see. this weekend is actually the third annual KIFF - Kenyan International Film Festival. This is how I may celebrate since I can't find a schedule anywhere. bummer.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


As the holidays are approaching I wanted to share two of my fave places to shop.

The first is my sis, RubesDesigns. She makes everything herself and rocks the planet. She even has some fun jewelry made from beads that I have sent her from Kenya. Look under the Kitengela section for most of those. Fun, huh!

The second is my friend, Jackie, and her Gifts on a Mission. She lives in Atlanta and travels to Kenya to get to know artisans and pay them a fair wage for their product. She then gives a portion of her profits to a children’s home in Lodwar, which is in northern Kenya. She has beautiful things and I’ve also met some of her vendors.

I really encourage you to check out each of these sites and make some purchases. Look for something unique to give this holiday – you, and those you give to, will not be disappointed, I promise.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hunger videos

This is a great project to get the idea of hunger into the broader population. I encourage you to take 5-10 minutes to check out this website and watch the videos. Then choose your faves and add them to your blog, your myspace, your facebook. Share the news. Hunger is real. Real people CAN and ARE helping. Please join the fight.

death and illness

I have been on the road and away from the internet for most of the past two weeks. Upon my return I read some sad and heartbreaking emails.

Cancer, test results pending, cancer, more test results pending, typhoid, malaria, still no new job, cousin passed away, great aunt passed away, kidney transplant.

It's a bit overwhelming to say the least. I'm not even sure which to respond to first. Some of these folks I haven't seen in two or three years but it still hurts.

I am currently awaiting my own test results to see if and which tropical disease I may have. Damn, I feel old, how can all of this happen? Where does it come from? How much can we bear?

Now to be fair, I did receive some good emails and the pending joy of my nephew turning 2 this weekend and everyone getting to be there (except me). Oh, but the partying we'll do when I return.

So, now as I sort through all the hundreds of emails and facebook and blogs and such, I am praying for only good news today.

Bear with me as I catch my breath.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

long time silence

Hello, my friends.

I'm going to try and keep up better here. My main blog is still over at wordpress as mentioned before. All my photos are posted on picasa at

Anyway, I don't have much to say this morning. It's been a good week thus far. Put out a fire and averted PR crisis, getting what I hope will be a super fun skirt made, making plans to go to South Africa for Christmas with a friend. All in all - good times.

Better get some things done. Getting ready to head out to go get my Alien Card today. yea!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


It's been a wee bit too long, I'd say.

Just wanna say I'm really enjoying Jason Boland. Just a little note while I finish up my lunch sorta.

Friday, April 11, 2008

WANTED: Dir. of Alumni

Anyone looking for a job in rural Kansas?

My awesome Alma Mater is looking for a new Dir. of Alumni as Tarah is moving to China to teach English.

If you are interested or know of anyone, check out school. Job isn't posted yet but you could email the alumni office.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I'm famous!

I know, I'm already famous to you, but seriously I am famous now.

I'm in a movie.

A coworker called me up two nights ago and was asking me questions about Bloomington, MN and MOA - Mall of America. He brought the documentary about some pretty creative politial activism into the office yesterday and sure enough - there I am!

Shari and I are standing there clear as day at MOA. So fun!

While I'm only there briefly, I am clearly there.

I am not making comments on the film but to say it's worth it for my fame and the creativity of it all if nothing else. I am not sure agree with their tactics but it was interesting and they certainly had a good point. How's that for not commenting?

Anyway, here's the link so you, too, can enjoy my fame.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Let me hear a big Yee-Haw!

I'm so excited I could just spit!

27 days until I follow that yellow brick road that leads me home!

I have final confirmation on my flight home. I am still working on the other details but stay tuned and I will post my calendar. I can hardly wait to see as many of you as possible because as my dear friend, Dawn, just wrote in an email, "It's been a long time and there is lots to catch up on!"

I fly out of Nairobi at 11:50pm on May 6 arriving at London Heathrow at 6am on May 7.

I fly out of London at 1140am on May 7 and arrive at Chicago O'Hare at 1:55pm that afternoon.

I finally fly out of O'Hare at 4:40pm and land in Wichita that evening at 6:35 and can hardly wait!


Monday, April 07, 2008


This is from my friend, Kim. She was my RD in college back at SC and we went to Japan together when I was a student. Then later I traveled back to Japan where she was living (and remains) to help with some orientation of summer teams. It was awesome. I miss her, haven't seen her in years and thought I'd introduce you all to her here. THese are questions that she asked me.

1. You love holidays! Why? (Why not? isn't an

I love to celebrate. Life is sucky sometimes and why dwell on that when you can dwell on the joy of holidays? People come together and they can be so festive! So grab something and someone and party-on! The next holiday here in Kenya is Labor Day on May 1. Random Thursday off. Sounds like a good holiday to me. I will be in the US for Mother's Day, Memorial Day, FAther's Day and I think maybe Independence Day - hooray!

2. Why did you choose to go to Sterling College?

I wanted a small, Chirstian college. I naively thought that the 'bad' things that happen at big schools wouldn't happen there. However, if I recall the whole soccer team was suspended the year before I arrived for drinking. SC has it's faults like any other school but I loved the people, the faith, the challenges and opportunities that were provided to me through it. I wouldn't change having chosen SC for anything.

3. What do you cook besides pancakes?

I just had everyone over for cake and ice cream for a friend's birthday (see Q1) and last week I also had folks over for chili. I like soups and things that take few dishes. But I really like desserts. yummy!

4. How is your fair complexion and the sun in Africa making out?

I have a tan unlike anything I've ever had. I don't know if you can tell without me showing you the farmer tan lines though and it's really just on my face, arms and neckline. It's fun though. I've only had two serious burns since arriving in Africa - ouch!

5. How is your sweet nephew doing?????

He is too cute for words. I recently received the Easter pictures and he was enjoying dying eggs on his papa's lap. Too, too cute. I can hardly wait to see him. I called Ang the other day and tried to talk to him. All I got, repeatedly, was HI! It was great!

Now it's your turn. If you want to be interviewed, leave me a comment including the words "Interview me."
I will respond by emailing you five questions. I will pick the questions. If you don't have a valid email address on your blog, please provide one. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Friday, April 04, 2008

family history

When I moved to MN I found that many of my freinds were very aware of thier heritage. I am not. I grew up knowing my Gran was German. We ate bierocks and lebkuken (which I spelled wrong), neither of which was a fave with me.
However, I have found out some news on my Dad's side I thought I would share with you, because I know how interested you all are.

This is from my Aunt Sue.


She almost always emails in all caps.

So, what's your history? Think we're related?

Monday, March 17, 2008

sunburn vs. suntan

Friday while we were getting ready to go out into the field, one of my coworkers and I were being sure to put sunscreen on our chests to protect ourselves from the sun where our v-neck exposed it. Nothing revealing, but you have to be careful of that equatorial sun.

Later that day, on our way to the site we passed at least two women who were working hard in their fields - without shirts on at all.

It made me laugh to think of our difference in modesty and how worried I had been about getting a little burn.

oh the irony of it all

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Eldoret story

I encourage you to stop by Ben's website to read an unforgetable story from our trip to Eldoret a few weeks ago.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

good cause and good fun

This is from my sister, feel free to join in!

Nothing like a family filled with people working in the non-profit sector.

Hello my friends and family! I know it seems like it was just yesterday, but it is that time of year again....BOWL FOR KIDS' SAKE time. For those that don't know what this is, it is Big Brothers Big Sisters main fundraising event of the year: a time for our matches to have fun and interact with others from the community, and a time for the community to get involved and learn more about our program and the services we provide.

As usual, I am doing my part for my own BBBS here in Goodland. We are quite honestly struggling financially right now, and this is the best opportunity we have throughout the year to get ahead. I'm asking that each of you take the time to think about our program and try to budget a donation into whatever you set aside for yearly donations. I can tell you that currently our program has 44 matches, with about 35 more children on the waiting list!! The funds raised from this event help us to continue recruitment of volunteers, expansion efforts, provide more training opportunities for our volunteers and more group activities for our matches and children on the waiting list, and carry insurance for each match we have! Trust me, it adds up quickly and we want to be able to continue serving the children in our counties for years to come!

So, if you feel so inclined to bless us with your contribution, you can make a pledge or donation by clicking one of the links next to the picture on my page, which is at This site allows you to actually make a donation online via debit or credit card OR you can make a pledge and select to be BILLED after the event (which is in April). My own personal goal of dollars I hope to raise is $2500 this year! It's a big challenge, but I hope I can reach it...shatter it actually!

Thanks very much for your support, it truly means a lot. Both Big Brothers Big Sisters and I thank you in advance for any support you can give.

Best Wishes,



I apologize upfront for being so long in talking with you all. Life is crazy and can be a bit uncertain in Kenya these days. I want to thank you all for your thoughts, prayers and kind words. I have shared many of them with my coworkers and they are also encouraged and thank you.

Kenyan Presidential elections were held Dec. 27 and Dec. 30th President Kibaki was sworn in for his second five-year term, amidst cries of rigging. There has been turmoil ever since and even leading up to the elections. I am safe and have never felt in danger, perhaps a little fear in moments of uncertainty, but never danger. I do have colleagues however, that have been in danger and had to move from their home. This is to me, a sad situation in Kenya where people no longer trust the neighbors they have had for twenty years. People are hurting and are very angry. Please pray for a great healing in this nation.

At the end of January, I decided to take a mental and emotional break and I went to Tanzania for 6 days. It was such a blessing to be with friends, old and new, and see something different. I was refreshed and renewed and a new person when I returned with fresh roasted coffee and toasted cashews for the office. Part of that refreshment came from ‘talking’ with all of my friends at Calvary CRC back in the Twin Cities. We did a planned skype interview during worship for the kick-off of Missions Emphasis Week. I wish I could have been there. I heard nothing but wonderful things from people I talked with afterwards. I then was able to spend some time on skype calling some family and friends direct to their phones and it was so heart warming to talk instead of email. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly thank God for the blessing of email and such, but there’s nothing quite like hearing the voice of someone you really miss that warms your soul. I was staying somewhere where the wireless was strong enough to be able to make those calls and I can hardly wait for that to happen again.

I have just returned from a week upcountry in Eldoret, one of the hardest hit areas. My job is to work with visitors and volunteers and as CRC was not allowing anyone to come to Kenya for awhile, I was loaned, if you will, to the Relief team.

I went on this trip at the suggestion of my Team Leader/Country Consultant, Davis Omanyo for two reasons: 1. to help relief and 2. so that I could provide a better picture for you of what is happening in Kenya. I am grateful for that encouragement and the welcome I received from the Relief Team of Ben and Chris. I asked many questions because I have no relief experience and they were both gracious and patient in their answers. I have learned so much about relief, the Eldoret region, politics, our partner the Reformed Church of East Africa - RCEA, and hope. I pray that I can adequately share what I have learned with you so that you may see things differently and be changed and encouraged to help in some way the hurting people in Kenya.

I have decided that perhaps the best way to fill you in is just with pictures. I hope that these will provide you a sense of urgency, fear and yet hope that is running throughout the country. If you would like more places to get information here are several news websites and blogs that offer a variety of views.

some blogs
Four - Alida

I have been having problems with my computer for a month so please forgive me if I have not responded to your emails. I hope to catch up shortly but the next three weeks are very full. Please keep writing though, I love hearing from each of you. I also want to thank everyone for the letters and care packages, they are wonderful! I am listening to a little Michael Bublé as I write.

As you look through these photos, the websites and my other pictures online, please pray for Kenya. Pray for the people you see in the photos. I also encourage you to ask me questions and I will post them on my blog with the answers. If one of you has a question, I am sure that several of you do. I want to help you, and me, understand as best as I can.

If you would like to contribute to the work of the Relief Team in the Eldoret Region, I encourage you to do so. I realize that many people don’t like to give to areas in conflict thinking that people got themselves into this mess they can get themselves out. There is a little truth in that, however, many of the people in the pictures were living their lives on land their family paid for and has had for generations. They were living and working with neighbors they had known for years. They were targeted in the violence due to their tribe. It was not so long ago that was happening on a grand scale in the US and while it was awful and painful, there were great people that stood up to the injustice and showed mercy to those around them, preaching love and peace. Without people like you to stand alongside the many Kenyans doing the same to help spread the word in deed of God’s love, justice and mercy, how can these brothers and sisters find peace?

You donations can be made in the following ways:
To donate to the Kenya relief response, mark donations "Kenya Conflict" and mail to CRWRC, 3475 Mainway, PO Box 5070, STN LCD 1, Burlington, ON, L7R 3Y8 or to CRWRC, 2850 Kalamazoo Avenue, Grand Rapids, MI, 49560. Donate online at In Canada, call 1-800-730-3490. In the U.S., call 616-241-1691 or 1-800-55-CRWRC. Email:
For more stories, please keep checking my other blog at I hope to have pictures online shortly, but I have misplaced one memory card that has many pictures from the assessment as well as my trip to Tanzania.

Figure 1: Help is coming from all over. As we were leaving one camp on my first assessment trip in Limuru, staff from Cadbury pulled up. These are some cans of drinking chocolate that they were delivering.
Figure 2: People of every age are affected by the post-election violence. Many have had to desert the only home they have ever known, while some will remember death and fear as some of their first memories.
Figure 3: After visiting with the Red Cross chairman in charge, we were given a tour of the camp in Limuru. This is a shot of some of the clothing lines set up next to the water tank. Sanitation is an issue at all camps, some with more concern than others. The rainy season will begin in a month or two and the sanitation and health concerns will only rise. There is concern of malaria, typhoid and cholera without proper facilities and mosquito nets.
Figure 4: At the Limuru camp this child is able to go to school. However, many of the teachers are university students that are unable to return to class because the universities haven't opened. When the universities open these students will lose many of their teachers and they return to their own studies. The local schools cannot always absorb them and many teachers are themselves displaced. There are school fees to be paid, uniforms to be purchased and sometimes even desks to be found or purchased since area schools are already full.
Figure 5: Alida is holding a three-month old at Bishop Muge camp. The Red Cross mobile clinic was there offering immunizations when we were there visiting. Bishop Muge camp is located at a school campus and at about 9000 feet above sea level. Note all the clothes both Alida and the baby are wearing. It was cold and we felt some freezing rain prior to our departure. Not all of Kenya is hot.
Figure 6: The showground in Eldoret is a huge camp that at one time housed 19,000 people. Many of these children are coming from villages and haven't seen a lot of 'wazungu,' or 'white people.' They followed me like I was Piped Piper, holding my hand, rubbing my skin, gently pulling my arm hair and stroking my hair. “It’s white!” was a comment I heard when they were looking at my hair. I am hoping they were talking about my scalp and not that I have a patch of white hair up there that I cannot see in the mirror. We walked, we marched, we counted in English and Swahili and sang songs. They sang “If you’re happy and you know it” for me and I taught them “Where is Thumbkin.” I was trying to think of an easy song with actions. They seemed to like it. I believe that there is some video footage of that out there somewhere. Watch for me and the kids on the Grammy’s next year!

Figure 7: The Kenya Red Cross has taken the lead for most camps. I believe that there are over 55 camps for IDPs right now. IDP is Internally Displaced People. Estimates of numbers of IDP from the post-election violence range from 300,000 - 600,000. Whenever we arrived at a camp, our first stop was to visit the Red Cross office and those in charge. Before we ever visited a camp, we met with the Red Cross Director at the Red Cross office in Eldoret.
Figure 8: These are photos of the Bishop Muge camp. The camp is quite organized with drainage ditches and orderly lined up camps. People have their cooking areas set up throughout to cook the maize and peas that they receive from Red Cross. Chai is a key part of Kenyan culture. Whenever you visit someone’s home or office, you are offered chai. People drink it several times a day. When I was living with my host family the last thing we did before leaving for work was have chai. The first thing we did when we came home in the evening was have chai and the last thing we did before we went to bed was have chai. That doesn’t include tea time at the office at 10, and sometimes again in the afternoon. Lives are shared around chai, people are equal around chai, love is shared around chai and the community is one around chai. Now, this key part of Kenyan’s diet is missing. Tea, milk and sugar are not part of most relief distributions. So if people do not have money, they cannot have chai that warms the body and the soul.
Figure 9: This is a row of pit latrines under construction. This camp had quite nice facilities and when they are finished they will have doors and roofs, not all do. Here we were seeing how difficult it can be for children to use these pre-fab latrines. You put your feet on the pre-fab feet to balance yourself so you do not trip and fall into the 20-foot hole. Alida and I used ones at a previous camp (with each other serving as guard) so that we could experience a bit of what it might be like to be living at the camp.
Figure 10: This is maize getting prepared to be distributed at the show grounds. Families get only so much maize, yellow peas (from Canada), and cooking oil (sometimes), blankets, mosquito nets, Jeri cans per family. Not every camp gets the same items and no one gets enough of anything. One of the biggest needs is for blankets. These areas are chilly at best at night and will only get colder as the rainy season nears. Blankets are also the most expensive item that we provide.
Figure 11: This is a map of the show grounds camp. (The show grounds are like the State Fair Grounds.) There are five camps within the show grounds and it is housing 13,000 plus people. There is a weekly census taken and there are local committees to help the Red Cross stay on top of who is there and who has left. The camps are set up by when people arrived. Those in Camp A were among the first to arrive at the camp as early as Dec. 30 (the elections were Dec. 27). Camp A is also the lowest part of the show grounds and there will be a lot of issues when rainy season arrives if the people are not moved to higher ground. You will note Red Cross office space on the left and spots for toilets and bathrooms around the perimeter. There are many people in every camp doing nothing. There are some that are close enough to their ‘shamba’ or ‘farm’ that they are able to go to everyday to work their harvest of cabbage and ground nuts. Others have been able to go to town to buy fruits, veggies and sweets to bring back to the camp and sell at a small stand. I bought some mangos from one woman who had mangos of four different sizes and prices, a few avocados, green onions and one or two other fresh foods. The mangos I purchased were about 8 cents each.

My calendar for the next month:

Mar 3-5: Road trip to Kitui area with coworkers, Stephan and Oscar, to visit HIV/AIDS programs with our partners.

Mar 10-12: Visitor from US for work

Mar. 14-15: Road trip to the Mombasa area (coast) with coworkers Stephan and Alida to visit some partner work there.

Mar. 17-20: East Africa Ministry Team meeting and spiritual retreat in Malindi (coast). I pray there is a hammock with my name on it!

Mar. 21: My contract for a second year is due

Mar. 21-24: Easter break – He is Risen, He is Risen INDEED!

Thank you all for your letters and emails filled with prayers and encouragement. It is only the grace of God that gives me people such as you and I thank Him regularly for each of you.

The best way to keep up with me is on my blog but I admit that I am also on myspace and facebook if you want to see me there. I only know how to do the basics and refer people back to my blog for details, but I have been able to keep up mostly with those sites. So if you are there, look me up.

I cannot say it enough. Thank you.

I also cannot offer you the opportunity to support the Kenyan people through our relief work. If you can and are so moved, please help us provide hope and love through things such as blankets and children’s sweaters.

You donations can be made in the following ways:
To donate to the Kenya relief response, mark donations "Kenya Conflict" and mail to CRWRC, 3475 Mainway, PO Box 5070, STN LCD 1, Burlington, ON, L7R 3Y8 or to CRWRC, 2850 Kalamazoo Avenue, Grand Rapids, MI, 49560. Donate online at In Canada, call 1-800-730-3490. In the U.S., call 616-241-1691 or 1-800-55-CRWRC. Email:
For more stories, please keep checking my blog at

Thursday, January 31, 2008

new looks

I have finally figured out a few thigns about blogger. Good grief, I'm probably the last, but we're good now. I deleted all of my sidebar last week and so have added it back with some changes (forgive me if I forgot you, please remind me).


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kenyan blogs

Here are some blogs that are written mainly by Kenyans for a different perspective on current events than mine. I’ve only been in Kenya since mid-September and that is very different than what you will read on these blogs.


latest update from Kenya

Happy New Year!

What a month it has been. Most of you received word from me at the beginning of the month about all the post-election turmoil going on in Kenya. We all thank you for your thoughts and prayers and are blessed to have you praying for us. Thank you.

Things remain tense, but on Thursday Jan. 24, Pres. Kibaki, opposition leader Raila Odinga and African Union representative, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan emerged from a meeting with everyone saying they were open to dialogue. We praise God for that and pray that it is true and hearts, minds and eyes will be open to what lies ahead.

I have not been out of Westlands since returning home from Christmas holiday. Westlands is the area of Nairobi where I live and work and things have remained fairly ‘normal’ here. I have linked on my blog to several other blogs of friends and strangers who are more ‘in the trenches’ than I am if you would like to see and read more. Please be aware that there are a lot of resentments and fears and hurts and not everything you read is balanced or even entirely true. These links are in posts and others are on the ‘Resources’ page.

These are snapshots taken by Alida as we waited in line two hours to purchase groceries during the early post-election crisis. Many of the food shelves were sparse or bare, like this shot of the veggie area.

While current events in Kenya have changed all of our lives and the way we work (all visitors with CRC have been postponed or cancelled until further notice), life still goes on.

Christmas was good, different but good. I called the family that evening for me, morning for them, and got to talk to everyone except that somehow I missed Aunt Janet. As I was talking to my cousin, Steve, I looked up and saw a crocodile in the lake not 30 feet from me. Merry Christmas?! The Lake Baringo Club, where we stayed, had entertainment for the holiday complete with native dances. The men in the photo are Maasai dancers and the woman with the necklaces is Turkana. The day after Christmas we took a boat tour of the lake and came a little too close to some hippos. They can be quite vicious as well as fast so we quickly moved to give them way and got a few good pictures in the process.

We had a lot of time on our hands while we were away and it was quite warm at Baringo with no AC anywhere to be had. We did take some time on one day and drove over to Lake Bogoria nearby to see the flamingos and hot springs. You can see more pictures of my Christmas holiday here.

After returning to Nairobi we just stayed in our homes for the next week. Venturing to the nearest grocery, the office, each other’s apartments and the Mennonite Guest House, all within a 25-minute or less walk, although we did have the office car the whole week which was really nice.

Alida and I were going stir-crazy in my apartment and so we stayed with Amanda for a couple of days to ‘shake things up.’ Our friend, George who is Kenyan, was also staying there. I think he stayed to comfort us as his home area was safe. It was such a blessing to have him with us to help us understand the political implications of everything. We had a TV, radio and bought the papers most days to help us stay informed, but as newbies we had a lot of questions.

I have been keeping up with my blog and trying not to post too many things on any one day. I do know that you are visiting and I believe that I have set it up so that you do not have to use a password to leave a comment anymore, so please do so.

Finally I would like to share with you something I think is very exciting. The following is from Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Edina, Minnesota, where I attended church the four years before moving to Kenya. They are a tremendous support to me in everyway. If you are anywhere near the Twin Cities the next two weeks, I encourage you to stop by for the fun. Copies of the DVD that will be used on Feb. 10 are also being sent to Beth and Marty Christians in the Osbourn, Kansas area, Laura Hitt in Longview, Texas, the Grand Rapids Home Office in Michigan, Sterling United Presbyterian Church in Sterling, Kansas and my parents in Liberal, Kansas. If you would like to see it (it is nothing close to being professional so be prepared) and are near any of those folks, just give them a call or contact Pastor Todd at Calvary in the Twin Cities. (If you need any of those contacts, please let me know.)

Mission's Emphasis Week Kick Off begins next Sunday, February 3 with an extended worship service (aprox. 90 minutes). We will talk with Amy Thompson live, via the Internet, and will be blessed by the music of the Minnesota Teen Challenge Choir. We welcome Pastor Bob Pollema as guest preacher and Andy Ryskamp, the executive director of CRWRC. There will be an all-church lunch after worship. During lunch Andy Ryskamp, the executive director of CRWRC, will share what the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee is doing to further the Gospel around the world.

Come and join us for this wonderful celebration of God's missionary heart.

I close with a verse that my dear friend, Chris, sent to me recently, along with this photo taken of a dessert rose up at Lake Baringo. May your lives be filled with the Joy of Christ, dear friends. I praise God for each of you and think of you often and pray that we may all know that in the midst of trials, we are never alone. Praise be to God!

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10

hello friends

Hello, friends!

The weather here is just beautiful today. I walked to work yesterday and it was the low 60’s and not too sunny so it was a nice walk. There is a lovely breeze and I really wish I had on a sweatshirt and was swinging in a hammock with a good book. However, I am at work instead, which is also good.

We have devotions every Monday morning and I am also blessed. Yesterday morning we had half the staff since several are at training for most of the week.

I have started collecting African music and am enjoying that a lot. I’m listening to some from Senegal as I write this to you.

A big thank you to all of you who have emailed, called, SMS’d (short message system, it’s like a text message), sent letters, cards and packages. They are wonderful! I have a lot of fun sharing what you send with my friends and coworkers. As soon as I get more bulletin boards in my office, more pictures will go up. Whatever you send I put in my office to remind me of how blessed I am.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the big International Pancake Day celebration coming up Feb. 5. I will be introducing the joys of Pancake Day to Kenya this year. I hope they are ready.

Things in Kenya have not settled yet so please continue to pray for a release of pain, poverty and violence.

Thank you all! You are a treasure to me and I thank God for each of you.


I wore a new pair of sandals today. I walked to the PO then to work. They hurt one of my toes (next to last on the left, to be specific) and when I took off my shoes this evening when I got home there was a huge blister. It is so bizarre to look at. Have no fear – there are no pictures.

I hadn’t blogged in too long here and thought I’d drop you a note. Aren’t you excited.

Friday, January 25, 2008

missing links

I am so frustrated, argh!

I tried to change the template here and lost all my sidebar links. I have a friend who also uses blogger and hers is so much easer to edit the template so that's what I was going for. Instead I lost all those fabo links. Let me say again ARGH!

other blog

my other blog is updated with more to come and there is a new look. I've also changed it so you don't have to have a password to comment (I think). So come on over!

I hope to post a few things here in the next week as well. We'll see.

Friday, January 11, 2008

other blog

OK, just checked and some of them are up now. yea!

at home on a Friday

I’m currently sitting on my loveseat (alone, so sad) and watching the only thing in English on TV right now. It’s newstime on the other channels and the 7pm news is in Swahili. The 9 pm news is English.

Right now I’m watching some show about the catwalk. That’s all it is. The catwalk. Runway show after runway show. Tonight it’s mostly men and they are dressed horribly, with bad music. The designers are then coming out and they fumble and stumble and carry themselves poorly. It’s just so odd to see that after a bunch of skinny, unsmiling, make-up covered, slick-haired guys.

I need movies. I only brought two and one is just atrocious. I mean, I’m embarrassed I have it it is so bad. The other is Cinema Paradiso which is stellar and one of my faves but I can’t watch it too often, it’s too much. I need to get more. It’s difficult to find legit movies here but you can by pirated movies everywhere. So if you want to send me a carepkg, movies it is. I have several TV series and trust me. I watch them all the time.

I’ve written at least five posts for my other blog this week that have yet to be posted. It’s so frustrating. It really is you know. Argh. I did just post one about being on tv that will be rebroadcast live online tomorrow (Sat). I hope I remember and go to the office to watch. Seriously though, the odds of that happening are slim. I’m just hoping that the folks will get me a copy of it.

I am however, getting a massage tomorrow morning. Oh my, I can hardly wait! I’m so sore and have been carrying way too much stuff in my bag this week. I thought I might lose my arm last night. I’ve got to stop that. I actually saw an article on yahoo about how women are carrying too much in their bags. I didn’t read it but I’ve known it for years anyway, I just don’t’ do anything about it.

I gotta see whatelse is on. Ooooo, celebrity news. Argentine Albums chart. What is that? They are all US artists that I know. Hmmm

Have a good weekend, friends!

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I've made a few changes that are probably mostly unnoticed as they are in the sidebar. I added a link to my Africa photos and deleted a friend's shop that was no longer running.

Nothing exciting, just letting you know.

I almost got to go to Kibera slum today, one of the most famous slums of Africa but it was decided that it was not safe enough yet for me to go. I was going to go with a coworker to take photos for our relief work, but not yet.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


I am safe in Westlands, Nairobi. Thank you for checking with me. I have a meeting at my office this morning for those of us able to get there safely. I am not far from the office and have an office vehicle so I think I'll be fine. My area is calm and safer. I will let you know how the meeting goes.

Please pray for justice and peace in KEnya and safety for all of us living here.