Saturday, August 29, 2009

August Days

God allows the seeds to grow!
One of the six vertical garden being tended by the Iftin women's group in Eastleigh. Each of the gardens are doing very well. We will be carrying out a mass planting day with women who want to begin gardens of their own in their apartments, or on roof tops, near the end of September.

Training continues with the Noor Jewelry Project
With no power and poor lighting in Eastleigh, Erica has been hosting the Noor ladies in our home as they continue their training in jewelry making. The ladies are preparing for a large show to be held next week at the Sarit Centre in Westlands, Nairobi. The transition from "training mode" to having them form a viable business is a challenge. But slowly by slowly the pieces are coming together. The ladies were very encouraged to learn that a small order of their beads sold at the Atlantic Baptist Convention Assembly in Atlantic Canada last week. God is good!

Erica enjoying a unique dinner
with our friends Joy and Don Hepburn.
Last evening, while the kids were enjoying sleepovers, we were able to meet our friends the Hepburns -- in transit from Rwanda. Don and Joy are leading a team from their church on a short term mission trip, serving our partner churches and schools there. They shared several stories of the impact the trip had upon their group. A great highlight was witnessing a baptism of about thirty people on the shores of Lake Kivu. Canadian Baptists have been involved at many levels serving churches and communities in Rwanda, but perhaps the most accute need that we have addressed is with orphans and vulnerable children through the "Children of Hope" ministry. Throughout Rwanda, child-heads-of-households are being helped with education, support and basic physical assistance through communities of faith, love and concern.

With our time short, and traffic so terrible in the city, we treated Don and Joy to a tailgate picnic in the parking lot of the Jomo Kenyatta Airport while they awaited their connecting flight home. It was VERY FUN! We had a few odd looks. At one point a tour bus pulled up and we are pretty sure we saw someone snap of few pictures of us drinking our coffee and enjoying sandwiches.

We pray for a safe journey for the Fallingbrook volunteers as they return to Ontario. They have surely shared a transformative experience together over the past weeks.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Training Days

Fardosa and Patrick perfecting
their jewelry making skills.
It was a cold drizzly day in Eastleigh as the women of the Noor Jewelry Project gathered for training. Erica led the women through an earring making workshop in a very dim room as the power was being rationed today in the city.

Erica and her friend, Melonee,
helping to demonstrate new creations.

The girls did a great job, especially considering that they were feeling pretty tired from their fasting for Ramadan which began on August 21st.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Coffee Fields

Feilds of coffee near our home
on Kiambu Road heading out of Nairobi

Kenya is a producer of some of the world's best quality coffee beans. This afternoon we took our CBM colleague, Grace Fong, for a short visit to a coffee estate near our home. The coffee cherries covered the trees and some were begining to ripen for harvest. The coffee beans we drink are actually the seed within the cherry.

Aaron enjoying the source of his addiction.... hmmmm coffee!

Erica and Grace at the Amani Ya Juu Refugee Ministry
Along with a stroll in coffee country, we brought Grace into Eastleigh to meet some of the ladies of Noor working on ceramic beads, and for a tour of the community centre. With the August break, the Eastleigh Community Centre was a virtual ghost town. Although the Iftin students are off , Erica will be leading three days of training with the Noor project later in the week.
Kenya is carrying out a national census, and the president has declared tomorrow a national holiday. He has ordered everything to close in Nairobi by 6 pm tonight for the census and for everyone to return to their homes inorder to be counted. Tristan and Emma are very excited to have a day off of school to play at home.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Masai Mara

After spending Saturday and Sunday in Migori, we drove east out of Nyanza province by a bush trail crossing the transmara toward Nairobi. Along the way, we stayed at the Mara Siria Tented Camp perched on the Oloololo Escarpment on the western side of the Masai Mara Game Reserve.

Mom and Dad taking a coffee
break during our off road trek.
We were treated to some spectacular views of Kenya and the incredible wildlife that roams the Masai Mara and Serengeti parks. August is the height of the annual wildebeest migration between Kenya and Tanzania, and we were greeted by millions and millions of these great gnus as they wandered the open plains in search of good grazing.

Tristan and Erica taking a look
over the Mara from our camp
Outside our tent at night we could hear the galloping of zebra and the call of birds. Early on Monday morning, we left to explore the Mara only to discover a small herd of elephant walking along the hillside just below our tent. It was amazing!

A lioness finishing her breakfast

An unhappy elephant trying to escape the noise of nearly five million wildebeest crashing his peaceful home.

Emma meeting a very friendly Eland
at the Oloololo Gate into the Masai Mara

Emma with our Masai host

Emma celebrating her 8th birthday with cake at the Mara Siria dining lodge -- this was a birthday we hope she never forgets.

Cape Buffalo

A mother Zebra and her colt

A mother cheetah and her cub

Mommy and Emma cuddling by
the hippo pools on the Mara River

A family of elephant crossing the Mara River

A beautiful serval cat that we met just before we left the park for our long dusty ride home.


Our friend James Odera's son, Peter,
flying a kite for the first time.

On Saturday, we journeyed with our friend James to his home near Migori in Nyanza Province, Southwestern Kenya. As we arrived, a thunder storm rolled in over the hillside. We had just enough time to see James' pineapple and sugarcane crops before the skies opened.

Pineapple is an important cash crop for small rural households in this part of Kenya. Sugarcane and tobacco are the two biggest cash crops in the region, but every farm also grows maize, ground nuts (peanuts), and bananas for themselves and the local market.

Aaron and James with two of the leaders
from the local church.

Erica and Tristan helping pod peas
and maize for the evening meal.

On Sunday, Emma turned eight years old --
she celebrated with many new friends.

Aaron preached in the morning worship service. Erica also had a time to speak with the local group of widows and mothers.

The Migori Church

We are very thankful for the warm hospitality of the Odera family who welcomed us into their community and home.


"Making Melodies in My Heart"
with the Kanata volunteer team

Last week, we enjoyed a few days with a team of short term volunteers from Kanata Baptist Church, Ontario. Although they came to Kenya primarily to serve the African Christian Church and Schools (ACC&S) in and around Niavasha, the team were able to visit the women of Iftin and spend some time with our family.

Erica explaining the approach of Integral Mission with the Women's Empowerment Initiative.
Along with taking the team on a tour of the Eastleigh Community Centre, we had the joy of introducing them to three members of the newly formed Hidig Women's Self Help Group. Along with women from the English literacy program (Iftin) and the jewelry project (Noor), the mothers from Hidig shared the challenges and struggles faced among the refugee community living within Eastleigh. It was a joy to laugh and cry together as we discussed their unique problems and need for prayer.

In Prayer:
Please Pray for us as we together with the community to identify six to eight women to serve as self help group facilitators. Zahra and Rhoda have been working together with various groups throughout Eastleigh over the past two weeks as we prepare for an intensive time of training with the self help group program.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back to School 2009

Emma and Tristan on their way to
Rosslyn Academy for a new school year!
Someone is a little anxious to be starting school herself!
Ava followed Emma into her first day of school on Tuesday morning. As Emma found her desk in Miss McKee's third grade classroom, there just happened to be an empty seat for Ava to sit behind her big sister.

To celebrate the beginning of school, we took Tristan and Emma go-carting, at GPkarts in Langatta, on the southern side of Nairobi. Tristan was especially giddy over the chance to get behind the wheel of these speedy go-carts -- even if it ment having to wear a bright yellow jump suit.

Emma looked pretty cute
in her gran prix jump suit!

Tristan and Daddy giving a thumbs up
as they race to the finish

Tristan was a serious go-cart racer and came in first place as we raced with other kids and adults at the track.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

End of Summer

One of the many mouse birds that have
taken an interest in our kitchen garden

Our garden is attracting some interesting wildlife as we hear the monkeys hollering over the hedge, and see plenty of birds darting in and out of our yard. It keeps life interesting for our dogs, Henry and Reese. The mouse birds are real nibblers as they have cleaned out most of our sukuma and broccoli (for some reason they leave the lettuce alone). Along with the fun of seeing guests appear in the yard, we've had several surprises inside our house as well. About a week ago, Erica and I were getting into bed when we noticed a long black skink moving over our covers. Skinks, geckos and chameleons are all common around our home -- at least they help with mosquito's.
Michael, Ezra, Emma, Mary and Tristan
having fun with an end of vacation sleep over.
Tristan and Emma return to Rosslyn Academy on Tuesday. Tristan is beginning the fifth grade and Emma is going into third grade. They are very excited to see their friends and meet their new teachers. Ava will also be starting school this September.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Strange Visitors

I find out all kinds of things when I work at home! Imagine my surprise when I walked out of the office this morning and found strangers in the house!

"Maxwell" the hunter

"Fertana" the French xylophone player

Turns out that Maxwell hates the xylophone and kills anyone who plays it. This is one mean dude!

Fertana begs for her life!
In the end, Maxwell and Fertana made up and Fertana convinced Maxwell that the xylophone wasn't so bad after all.
Ahhh, the imagination of my beautiful children!