Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

Are we really doing this?

Ian here, sometimes I get a bit of inspiration and hop on here to share my thoughts.  Today I was woken up way too early by a text message from teacher Mercy and have spent the morning working with her to finalize a few things.  Why?  Because she has been frantically working to get everything ready to START Kiang’ombe school project in less than a week.  Is this really possible?  I find myself sitting here feeling pretty weird about it all.  Humbled, proud, and more than a bit overwhelmed by the responsibility as well as the support we have received.  In fact, Anne just got the mail and there are two new donations, both unsolicited support.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of the amazing people who have come around us to make Ameena Project come to life.  You give us the confidence to push ahead.

School supplies purchased – check

Feeding program supplies purchased – check

Registration complete – check

Staff hired – check

50 lucky kids ready to have the best year of their life – check.

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Big load of supplies heading to the Kiang'ombe

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Mercy and Hillary picking up the portable blackboard and misc. supplies

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Off site store room

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Mercy and Hillary unloading some supplies

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Working hard to inventory and organize the new supplies

It’s really coming together.  I am grateful to play a part.  Ian

A memory of someone

In the winter (like February maybe?) before our family left for Kenya my wonderful girlfriend Natalie invited me to a women’s retreat.

I have to say that I generally find all sorts of reasonable excuses for why I can’t go to these kinds of things.  They just generally aren’t (or weren’t) my speed.  Too much awkward chit-chat.  Sometimes too much information from one person who overshares and dominates conversations.  People wanting to give unsolicited advice, dorky book bags with even dorkier iron-on graphics, and on and on.

Anyhow, I decided that I would go just for the benefit of spending time with my wonderful friends Natalie and Erika.  It was at the beach, and I still had some good skipping out skills in me that were perfected in highschool.  I figured if the sessions were too boring, I’d head to the beach.

So, short story on the retreat was that it was pleasantly surprising in the time I got to spend by myself and reflect.

The reason for me writing this post is that Natalie’s friend, LoriLee was the worship leader and piano  player during the conference.  She was unabashed in her worship and playing.  If I could paint a visual picture, you would see a dark haired, skinny women, standing at a keyboard, bouncing up and down and she banged on the keys.  She was one of those people who played the chorus OVER and OVER.

We kind of made some inside jokes about it.  I had never heard the song she banged out on the keyboard, but after that conference it was BURNED into my brain.

After coming back from Kenya, and a few short months later (I think), Natalie shared with me that her dear friend had died of a brain tumor.  The next day after going over a year and a half without hearing that banged out song, I heard it on the radio,  and it felt like LoriLee was singing it right at me.

Today, every time I heard that song, I think of Lorilee banging on that keyboard, of a wonderful retreat with my girlfriends and some great time to really reflect.

What song, or smell, or sight brings up a specific memory for you?

By the way, the song is My Savior My God by Aaron Shust,

 

Dear Karibu.

“We are stitched together, and what love has tethered, I can never undo”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KI2JJ1OCz8U

Dear Karibu Centre family,

When you call me crying, you make me cry. 

When you call and need answers, and neither you nor I have them, I hate telling you so.

When you call and say you’re expecting a baby, I wish I were there to watch the amazing miracle of life grow and change you into an amazing woman and mother.

When you grieve the loss of a baby, I grieve with you and wish I were there to walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death (psm 23:4).

When you struggle, and fight, and are harsh with one another like Kenyans can be…..I want Ian to come over there and do something silly, just to make you all laugh and lighten up a bit.  And then I’d like to look you all mean in the eye, as if you were my kids, and tell you to knock it off!

When you send pictures of new babies, I yearn to KNOW them, not know of them. 

When you need an encouraging, loving, uplifting friend, know I will be here.  That though I may be a world apart from you all, we are stitched together.

I love you.

In the thick of it!

Today is December 8th, and I find myself in the thick of the Christmas crazy hustle and bustle.

I listened to a wonderful segment on the radio about scheduling in “the ordinary” during the holiday season, just so you can have enough time at home….to get all the ordinary done.  Laundry, cleaning, feeding, email, bills, grocery shopping.  You block out a few days a week….to just do the ordinary…and when someone asks if you can do something/go somewhere/attend something, you’ve already got plans!

This afternoon, I’m trying to do the ordinary and be at home, and get a few things done….along with a few Christmas tasks.

First on the list of Christmas tasks to accomplish:  Christmas cards.

I was THRILLED beyond belief to find a link of a girlfriends blog for free Shutterfly Christmas cards for bloggers.  http://blog.shutterfly.com/5358/holiday2010-blog-submission-form/ For years now we’ve done a photo Christmas card from this site as well as other fun products.  I am LOVING how many options there now are for Christmas cards….photo  cards, stationary stock, stationary folding  etc.  I’ve made about 5 different cards that I hope to choose from in the next day or so. 

Here are a  few of my options, you’ll have to wait for the mail to see what I end up choosing, but you can make one for yourself, and take advantage of the free cards for bloggers if you do so before this weekend!  http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/christmas-cards

If I had just one adorable photo, I’d probably have to go for this card that is available this year.  I love the colors, graphics,fonts, everything:

These are 2 of our past photo cards:

Here are a few of the things we have enjoyed creating over the years!

and then we’ve made a variety of mugs, which you can explore here:  http://www.shutterfly.com/photo-gifts/photo-mugs

While these ones were made for Father’s Day a few years back, I love the idea of them for easy and inexpensive gifts for family who are far away from us!

And last but not least, I’ve eyed this product for a while yet, and I think that this year might be the year that I bite the bullet and get it done!  I’d love to have one of our favorite Kenyan pictures turned into some art for our home!   I see a picture very similar to this one, just of my toes peeking out over the Indian Ocean….

 http://www.shutterfly.com/home-decor/canvas-wall-art

I can’t wait to get this Christmas project off the ground and into the mail for all of you….if you are one of our wonderful friends in Kenya, please be so  kind to either Facebook your address to us, or email it to:  ianandanne1@yahoo.com, so I can send you our card!

How can it compare?

You might notice that the number of blogs posted since our return to the States the first part of  August has been 3.  That’s about one per month.  That’s pretty pathetic.

I guess it’s just really hard to compare our life here with our life in Kenya….it all seems so mundane and usual and NOT blog worthy.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, just a REALLY different thing.

I  notice that I can drive for long distances here and be daydreaming the whole time.  None of that knuckle gripping tense driving that is par for the course in Kenya.  No need to constantly scan the environment for dangers.  No need to dodge people, vehicles or animals. 

So, I guess you’ll all just have to adjust your expectation of what this blog is gonna be now, and I will too.

No more amazing tales of African adventures.  Now you’ll be getting disgusting tales of baby, preschool and kindergarten kids, which can be just as entertaining, I’m sure.

I am thankful and adjusting well to regular life again.  Thank goodness we don’t have cockroaches, disgustingly large spiders/locusts/crickets/beetles, or random goats/chickens walking through buildings (or our house).

I am thankful for the wonderful group of family and friends who supported us while we were in Kenya, and that we know get to see some part of the group almost daily.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

And now, for a few pictures that highlight our first few months home from Kenya:

Mama Eli’s Duka aka “my Kenyan garage sale”

 So months before our departure from Kenya I told Ian that I had hatched a fabulous plan that would allow us to fairly distribute all of the things we had accumulated that would not be returning to the US in our alloted 8 suitcases.

That’s right.  No shipping things home.  I’m about reducing and recycling when it comes to packing up a house—and what a wonderful way for us to bless the many friends we had made in Kenya. 

Kenyan’s have surely missed out on the wonderful concept of garage sales.  Or at least it is wonderful in my eyes.  I know there are those of you out there who cringe at the thought of used clothing,  or half colored coloring books, or shoes with other people’s foot sweat. 

That’s not me. 

Or Kenyans. 

Kenyans are the MOST fantastical people when it comes to cleaning something up so that it can look spick and span new.  So I just knew that they would adore my garage sale, or as Ian termed it:  Duka Ya Mama Eli’s  (Eli’s mom’s shop). 

Soooo, in preparation for our move home I began to sort through our house in Kenya with the help of some ladies from the community (which was a score for them because they carted off bag after bag of miscellaneous goodies for themselves).  Separate  from the furnishings in our house that were owned by OO and would  remain, we had amassed a ridiculous amount of items ranging from kid and adult DVD’s, to nail polish remover, to the ax and kerosene lantern.    

Ian and I converted the pregnant girls’ classroom space into my shop, pulled in a few tables, and set things up by category. 

A few days before the party I let all of the staff in to preview the items.  Some staff  took up to an hour carefully looking over each and every item. 

Now, I decided that in order to make it a true shopping experience the staff would need money.  So Ian, being the handy and fun husband that he is, printed out play $10 bills so that each staff was given $100 to “spend”. 

After our going away party, we had the 27 staff draw numbers and line up from the #1 shopper on back. 

Waiting to shop!

  They each got to go in individually to shop.  They could buy one item (no matter how expensive) during each round.  We did this for 3 rounds, and then I let them all in at once to spend their remaining money.  

I am so proud of the men who shopped! They did such a quick sweep and grab of the womens' clothing for their families that the women of the Centre had to find other things to paw through!

Well into the free-for-all, Notice the empty tables!

They went crazy.  The laughter and excitement was contagious!  I LOVED it!  And so did they.  I loved watching them scheme and work together to get all of the things they had their hearts set on. 

In this next picture, you can see Tito happily sitting on his 3 piece outdoor furniture set that he bought for $120!  That’s right, Tito was the one and only employee who managed to convince another employee to give him some money so he could afford it! 

Oh yeah, sitting in his new chair guarding the door to my shop.

It was a fabulous way to wrap up such a serious day of thank you’s and good byes.  I was thrilled to share my love of g-sales with my Kenyan friends.  Even better was a staff member telling Ian that “we had taught them something fun they could do together in the future.”  I’m just sitting here in my American home imagining future Kenyan garage sales among the staff and loving it! 

Farewell continued

A farewell at the Centre usually means a tea party planned by the staff.  In the past this involved light food:  boiled eggs, biscuits, queen cakes and chai.  Ian and I decided about a month before leaving that we would like to throw the staff and residents a nice lunch for our farewell….with good food…..so we arranged to have a caterer for the party.  It was a win-win.  The Centre was able to not spend money on the party, we had wonderful food, and no one had to worry about set up or clean up!

But it’s easier to explain the farewell in pictures: 

Upon entering the party you must go through a tunnel of singing people

As guests of honor you sit up at the front while everyone sings & dances to their places

After announcements by the MC Hillary, the food line opens

Beef stew, irio, rice pilau, sukuma, and kachumbari. Anne's favorite is the green irio, Ian's is kachumbari (looks like slaw on the top)

After lunch the singing and dancing begins...complete with heaving us up on the shoulders

Ameena gets into the dancing too as Esther carries her around

I think it's safe to say Eli enjoyed the dancing

Esther with Ameena in her African party dress which came via Naomi's friend at St. Patrick's Catholic Church

Receiving the gifts...it's a really big deal to take a picture of the gift and giver!

Eli and Lucy thought presents on a non holiday were fantastic!

A special song prepared and sung by the day program teaching staff

Ian and I had to give "speeches" to the staff. I talked about how God has a plan written for each one of them & how much each one had contributed to the success of the Centre

It took Ian a moment to find the right words to express all that we had experienced in our 15 months in Kenya with this staff.

We tried to keep the end of the party light with a "guess the $ in the jar giveaway" & the promise of shopping at Momma Eli's duka (shop)

At the end of our party we took about 30 of this same shot, with a different staff member or resident inserted. We then printed copies for the staff as photos are a very treasured and special gift.

The staff & residents of Karibu Centre. In 15 months, we went from 4 staff and 0 residents to about 27 staff, 27 resident girls, babies and abandoned babies and about 120 children in the day program! We felt so blessed to be with these people day after day!

And that was our formal farewell.  More in the next few days of my “garage sale” aka Momma Eli’s duka & of our push by staff/friends to the airport.