Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reigning snail in the garden 3-4" long

Painters are painting our apartment building. Notice that he is over 30 feet off the ground standing on a wooden ladder that is made up of five ladders lashed together with small ropes.
They claim no one has fallen off ...yet.

Nairobi Central Park with modern skyline in the background.

Karen on our walk in the park.

Three of the six senior missionary couples serving in Nairobi. We are at Karen Blixen Coffee Garden Restaurant ("Out of Africa" site). In the picture are the Udalls, us, and the Pucketts.

Transfer week

Nothing real exciting going on here this past week. I take that back, I guess it was exciting for the young missionaries, because this past week was transfer week (every 6 weeks one or more member/s of a missionary companionship is moved to a new area of service and to a new companion). We have 81 young full time missionaries serving in our mission. Since they are paired in companionships of two we use volunteer branch missionaries to pair up with the odd one. These branch missionaries are usually young men or women who are in the process preparing for their own missions. The logistics associated with moving several missionaries from one city to another or from one country to another- from Kenya to Tanzania or visa versa is pretty stressful on the Mission President, his two assistants and the office and support staff, not to mention the missionaries. There are interviews to be done, visas to be changed, transportation to arrange for the missionaries and their luggage, food to feed them while they are away from their own source of food etc. Because of all of this craziness we have not been anywhere or done anything of note but we did go for a walk in the park and a short drive or two. So here are a few pictures of those outings.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Our training is over now the real work begins.

This was our first week in which we were solo in the office. Prior to that we were being trained. Elder Randall trained Karen on her responsibilities as receptionist and more importantly her role as the mission's immigration agent. She ensures that each missionary has a valid passport, visa, work permits and so forth. Since the mission encompasses two countries when the missionaries are transferred to Tanzania they have to get a Tanzanian visa. Sister Randall trained me on my responsibilities as the mission's financial clerk.

Sister Randall training me on my responsibilities.

Elder Randall trains Karen on her responsibilities.

On our drive to the office last Wednesday, in down town Nairobi, we passed these two camels just walking along a very busy street, with their handlers walking behind them visiting with each other and pointing and laughing at us foreigners taking pictures of their camels.

These young amaze me! They pull these handcarts fully loaded with pretty heavy loads (here he is carrying a few hundred pounds of potatoes). They pull these things on the same roads as the other vehicles. If you look hard you can see strapped onto the bottom of the back end is an old tire. It is not a spare. It is the break! When they are going down hills they just lift up on the handle causing the tire to drag on the road-slowing it down. There are many hills in Nairobi. It must be very difficult pulling these up and down fairly steep hills with cars, buses, large trucks, motorcycles darting around them not to mention hundreds of pedestrians walking in front of them. They are studs!!

I could not get over the scaffolding on the building under construction. The building is several stories high and this scaffolding is constructed out of 2-3" diameter wooden staves (not bamboo like in some asian countries). They are simply lashed together with 3/8" ropes, just like the monkey bridges that we made in the boy scouts. OSHA must not have any standing here!

Roadside sites

One of our responsibilities includes helping find places for the young missionaries live. These pictures were taken along the road to a small suburb of Nairobi called Buru Buru where I was checking out a place.

This is a masonry supply yard. Almost all buildings are constructed out of these solid concrete blocks or poured concrete, because there is such a termite problem.

Buru Buru's version of Checker Auto or Auto Zone.

This is the local hardware store.

Neighborhood butcher shop without refrigeration.

These colorful cars warn drivers on the road that these cars are being driven by student drivers, notice that they even have the trucks painted brightly for those learning to drive a truck. Everyone is required to take driving lessons.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Elephant and Rhinoceros Orphanage

On Saturday March 27th we visited the Kenya Wildlife Service. This is a reserve where orphaned Elephants and Rhinoceros are care for just long enough for it to be safe to reintroduce them back into the wild. The baby elephants usually decide to leave the compound as early as 4 years old. They are the ones that decide when they are ready to be on their own. Elephants live in a matriarchal society in which the oldest female is the undisputed leader-this leadership is not maintained by any kind of force but by instinct. The elephants were separated into 2 groups by age. The 1-2 year olds in one group and the 3-4 year olds in the other. So the oldest 2 year old female was the undisputed leader of the first group but when she moved on to the next group she relinquished her leadership role to the oldest 4 year old in that group. The compound only had two orphaned Rhinos, one of whom was blind. There was a question as to whether or not he could ever be reintroduced. However, they had over 30 baby elephants. Feeding happens every 3 hours! So the caregivers have to stay the night with the elephants. Because of the strong bonds that are formed between caregiver and elephant, the caregivers are rotated on a regular basis so that no one elephant will bond with any one caregiver, otherwise the caregivers would never be able to leave the compound. Elephants have emotions much like humans and not being able to understand, they would mourn the loss of a caregiver just like a death if they were to be separated for any extended period of time.

This young man introduced each elephant my name, from oldest to youngest, and told how they were orphaned and a little bit about their history and personality.

Much needed water break

It only took about 30 seconds for this guy to gussel his meal.

This little guy played with this soccer ball the entire time after he had eaten. He kicked it with his feet and trunk and even tried to sit on it.

More pictures of baby elephants and warthogs

This is not a zoo, where the people and animals are separated by barriers. These huge wild warthogs came out of the woods and gradually ended up grazing within 10 feet of us. The elephants are cared for in this reserve but are not confined by bars or fences but rather by their affection for their surrogate parents-the care givers.

Warthog up close

Profile pose

Only a small rope separated us from these friendly little guys

The 1-2 year olds were by far the most playful. Here they knock each other over, lay on each other, role in the mud and just have fun.

This is a view of a pen where a care giver will sleep with two elephants and feed them every three hours.

Relief Society Birthday Celebration Party

Saturday March 20th Karen attended the Langata Ward Relief Society Birthday Celebration. After a short opening and review of the history of the Relief Society Organization, they had a few fun games. The two young Sister Missionaries who were in charge of the games created a fun environment. The two games that brought the most laughter were: The first was the game in which a coin is placed on a compressed cup of flour and then each person in turn cuts a slice of the flour away until the coin falls-whoever makes the coin fall has to pick it up by her teeth from the plate; and the 2nd was musical chairs. After the games a Birthday cake and refreshments were served. There was a lot of laughter and sisterhood enjoyed by all.

When the music stopped this sister was left without a chair. The younger sister seated on the left, in the black tee shirt, was the winner and is only a week or two away from going on her mission.

Karen and Sister Randall join in in a very competitive game of musical chairs.

Another sister slices some flour while the anticipation mounts.

The first sister slices some flour away.

The unlucky sister who's slice caused the coin to drop picks it up by her teeth