Friday, June 4, 2010

People and sights we have come to love.

We feel so blessed because of the people we have met and get to serve with, as well as the humble people that we all serve. We have heard stories of all of the persecution and struggles they have gone through to keep the church alive in Africa. Not many years ago they were not allowed to worship publicly, they had to meet secretly in homes. But now, due to the many positive things that the church has done for the African people the government now is fully supportive. One of Karen's responsibilities is to enter the baptismal records and she has entered 164 baptisms this past month and has averaged close to 100 each month.
These are the two young men that we have shared the office with for the past 2 1/2 months. They are the Assistants to the Kenya Nairobi Mission President. Although they are not much over 20 years old, they are wise way beyond their years. They are responsible for training & mentoring and safeguarding all of the other 82 missionaries in Kenya and Tanzania. They receive a nightly bed check from each missionary companionship every night and then relay it to the mission President before they are able to go to bed themselves. They travel from the southern coast of Kenya in Mombasa to the northern regions of Eldoret to do this. They purchase and transport all of the phones, appliances, furniture, and other furnishings for each new flat for missionaries. They manage a working fund of 40,000 shillings used to pay for items the missionaries need that are not paid for with their own funds, like bus fare, water bills. They help the President to decide who will be paired together and who will serve as zone leaders and district leaders. One of their most humbling responsibilities is to interview anyone any person desiring to be baptized a member of the church to determine their worthiness and sincerity. On transfer day they house as many as 14 missionaries in their own flat and arrange for them all to be fed while they await their new assignments. If that were not enough they do some proselyting in their spare time. The young man on the left, next to Karen, is Elder Cele who is of Zulu descent from South Africa. He has been serving for 22 1/2 months. On May 26th he was released as one of the Assistants to the President, so that he can serve his last 6 weeks period back in the mission field. The President wants each young man to finish his mission in the trenches doing the work. We will miss seeing him every day! He will serve his last transfer in Kisumu on the shores of Lake Victoria-what a way to go out. The other Assistant next to me is Elder Thornton from Utah. He is now the senior companion of the Assistants. Elder Harris from Idaho is his new companion.

While we were visiting the Elephant Orphanage an elementary school, on a field trip, were next to us. They were so cute in their little uniforms, I found myself watching them more than the elephants.

A uniquely African tree (I should remember its name but I can't)

Another example of the typical thatched roof, mud walled homes in the Kilungu Hills.

Images from Kilungu Hills Africa

Our assignment to mentor the Kilili Branch of the church located almost 3 hours southeast of Nairobi in the Kilungu Hills, has caused us to relook at our own lives. These humble people live in a confusing world that is much like a time-machine that transports them back and forth from the 17th century, where they spend most of their lives, to short glimpses at the 21st century. In addition they are asked to learn another language in order to visit this 21st century world. In these pictures we have tried to capture a small sample of some of the images that we see as we leave the 21st century and drive off of the paved roads onto the heavily rutted dirt roads leading 40 Km back in time to our new friends in Kilili. The most enjoyable part of our ride is the enthusiastic waves and smiles that we get from most of the people we pass, especially the little kids. It is a novelty for them to see Mzungus (white people). A few of the little kids who have not ever seen a Mzungu before run and hide. For a long time unfortunately the white people were not there friends and many children are taught to fear them. So Karen's job while I drive is to wave and smile to everyone like we were in a parade. I roll down my window and smile and greet everyone. This seems to disarms those who wonder about our motives.

These are typical dwellings in the Kilungu Hills. They are a lot like the dwellings that we saw in the Masi Communities of the Maasi Mara. These dwellings are constructed of a skeleton of interwoven branches of a bush that is resistant to termites, over which several layers of a mixture of mud and straw are applied. Then the thatched roof is added. There are also concrete and rock dwellings being built in many areas. Notice the fence in the foreground made merely of interwoven branches. I assume that this is to keep kids in and unwanted critters out. However, unlike the Masi Communities there are not lions or other large predators to worry about. Probably these fences are just to keep the neighbors cattle or dogs away.

This is a funny picture. Look at the local women and children in the background looking at the crazy Mzungus taking a picture of their goats. This is in front of the church which is just to the side of those women and children, out of the picture. And this very spot is where we usually park while attending church. They were not about to move either.

Buses like this are their contact with the 21st century. This is how they get to and from the larger cities. The drivers of these buses barely stop to let people on or off before they roar off in a cloud of dust. This bus had just passed us going about 45 Km/hr which is not too fast until you consider that the roads are very rough. In many spots you must come to a complete stop before transversing 6-12" ruts. It is rough enough often enough that I never make it out of third gear for the entire 40 Km of this dirt road. I would say that 80% of the time I am in 2nd gear. These guys drive like they are in The Baja Cross Country Race. Notice the live chickens strapped to the luggage on the top.

This is the usual method of transporting goods.

This is an even more primitive means of transportation. These two oxen are pulling a wooden sled on which some old tires have been attached. In the tires three little kids enjoy a ride home while their older brother follows a distance behind.