Friday, December 23, 2011

Lessons Learned

Our time here in Kenya is coming to a close and I have learned many things from these wonderful people. They are lessons that we American's should take note of and incorporate in our homes and with our families.

1. Always greet someone when they approach you
2. Take time to welcome a visitor in your home, even when they come unannounced, and serve them
3. A visitor is just that- a visitor. They are not to get things for themselves, you should serve them
4. On day 2, you are no longer a visitor and can share in the house chores
5. Always offer tea and something to eat to your visitors
6. Hug and love one another as if you were family
7. Put the needs of someone else in front of your own needs
8. Lend a helping hand if you are physically able to
9. Share what you have- bread, tea, sweeties, jacket
10. Most importantly, you may not have a lot, but love one another....always, and be proud of who you are.

I love these people and feel like I am part of them. I know they feel I am part of them too. Mum gave me the name Makenna last year when I was on this trip. It means "loving woman" and I surely have a lot of love to give them. I feel like I am part American and part Kenyan. Until I am back with them again, I will be loving them and thinking about them everyday.

Other lessons worth noting:

The Kenyan sun is very hot and I am allergic to my sunscreen. Putting sunscreen on my face and neck has caused hives on my face that have been there for 2 days. My face is fried because the sun is still hot and not having sunscreen on is not a good thing.

Showers will be freezing cold when the power goes out and the bathroom will get very dark.

When milking a cow, make sure you jab up before you pull down to get the milk.

Things here don't taste good, they are "so nice."

You will never meet a stranger.

Muzungu's are very interesting to Kenyan's, especially if they have never seen one.

Physical labor is the only work these people know.

Taking tea is a must, at least 2 times a day.

"So smart" means you look very pretty.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What's for Dinner

It seems like we eat a lot around here. Mum is constantly trying to feed us more and more so that we don't get "cold."

Today, they children arrived so we spent the morning preparing their "snacks." We had to roll out the pieces of dough into balls, then press them into small patties that were then fried.
These women are very strong. I witnessed Ann pull a metal spoon from grease that had been frying for at least 30 minutes.
She didn't panic or make a face or shake her hand because it was burned. She calmly pulled the spoon from the boiling grease and set it on the table. Impressive.

Mum made us a chocolate and banana cake.
Everything is very simple here- no recipe and no measuring.
The cake batter consisted of flour, 3 eggs, baking powder, cocoa, banana flavoring, and a handful of pure sugar. Short and sweet. It was delicious!

I served tea and bread outside today under the bright Kenyan sky. Peter, Mum, my dad and I enjoyed sitting in the sun, surrounded by the Abadare mountains taking tea and apple snacks.

For dinner, we were to have spaghetti noodles- plain, nothing on them or with them.
I told Mum that I could make a tomato sauce but she was not familiar so we walked down to the local stores to get them. There I met Mum's friend Gertrude. A beautiful lady with stunning eyes. We bought bread, tomatoes, carrots, onions, sweeties (candy for the children), sodas, and jam.

When we got home, Mum put an apron on me and I got to work. They loved every bit of it!
I was amazed because they had never had it before and never had heard of tomato sauce. To top it off, we each had a piece of Mum's cake.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sights and Sounds of Kenya

Gonga - they are trying to get my dads attention. It means "grandfather" in Kikuyu

Take (insert drink or food name) - instead of eat or drink, they say, "would you like to take tea or bread..."

Auntie - they are referring to me

Muzungu - white person in Swahili

Smart - pretty

Kuja - means to eat in Kikuyu

Decker - is a bunk bed

A Shave - is a haircut

Top up - they want you to add more

The first day someone arrives, they are a visitor and are not to do anything but take tea and bread. If you have been there, like we have for a couple of days, we are expected to wait on that person.

If you cook dinner, everyone else does the dishes.

The power goes out more than once everyday and stays out for 2 hours at a time sometimes. Because we are in the mountains, it gets very cold at night- about 50 degrees and gets VERY dark. You are not able to see your hand in front of your face. There is no heat or air here. If you are going to shower, you must turn on the water heater, which runs off of electricity, so that you can have hot water. Last night, the power went off while I was in the shower. There went my hot water and all awareness of where anything was. Imagine, standing naked in a 50 degree bathroom, with ice cold water falling on you, you're not able to see the hand in front of your face, and you've just lathered your hair with shampoo. Good times... when I came out, I was breathing smoke and shivering because of the cold.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Faces of Tumaini

These are the people that have welcomed us to Tumaini so far this week. More children are expected to come on the 22nd and just knowing that excites us.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Church Services

Happy Sunday! It's church day...

Did you walk 1.5 miles through the mountains on a muddy dirt road?

Was it the kind of roads that led you up and down the mountains in no direct route?

Was your church service full of brightly dressed locals, who sang freely at the top of their lungs, and danced around out of sheer praise.

Because mine sure was. All to praise God because he is good!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Taste of Nairobi

Saturday, December 17th

We safely got into Nairobi about 9:40pm after two 8+ hour flights. I must admit, two 8 hour flights are much better than a 14 hour flight and then a 5 hour flight. Kennedy {our driver} was at the airport, ready to take us to the Presbyterian Guest House. Father and I had to share a bed and last night’s sleep was minimal thanks to his snoring. I believe I got a total of one hour.

Kennedy showed up bright and early to take us shopping in the markets. Because we did not convert US Dollars to Shillings in the airport last night, that was the first stop on our itinerary. I trust him and don’t think he’d do anything to put my life in danger, but this morning was a bit on the unsafe side. He took me into the downtown Nairobi market where we walked through it to a place that sold fresh fruit. In the back corner of the booth, there was a small closet, only big enough for two people to stand in. Inside the closet was the man who was going to convert my money into shillings. I stepped into the closet with him, gave him $800 in return for 64,000 Shilling. He lifted up his left pant leg to reveal a sock bulging with a lot of money. Definitely a shady deal, but I made it out of there safely.

We went shopping in the supermarket where we purchased 50 bowls, 50 spoons, 50 cups, 3 knives, a sharpener, 2 large serving spoons, rice, flour, corn, cooking fat, maize and candy for the kiddos. In total, we spent roughly 30,000 Shilling. Kennedy was such a sport. After we packed our groceries in the already over packed car, daddy and I ordered a 12 inch ham and mushroom pizza- I liked it, he didn’t…imagine that. I ate 2 small slices and he ate 1, we took the rest with us for Kennedy to eat.

Finally we were off to Tumaini, but that doesn’t come without a stop to the Great Rift Valley. I bought some souvenirs and Kennedy bought us some roasted corn. Back in the car we went with even more stuff. It wasn’t shortly into our journey, about 20 miles from Naivasha that our back left tire went flat. We pulled over at a bridge so we could have more room to change it. This small car that we are in has not another square inch of space but in order to get to the spare tire, we had to unpack it on the side of the road. There was an old man standing right where we were changing the tire and his granddaughter. He watched very intently as daddy and Kennedy changed it. When it came time to repack the car, I grabbed the box of pizza and handed it to the man and his granddaughter. He replied with a huge smile and mazuri sana (Swahili for thank you very much). He’d never seen pizza before and scarfed it down. The little girl took here two pieces and ran down the hill to back to tending the flock. She kept looking back as she carried the box down the hill smiling at me. Such a blessing to be able to offer something like that to them.

Once we arrived at Tumaini, it was a much different feeling that I remembered it and reuniting with the children was nothing like the scenario that I played out in my head. As we pulled into the home, for the first time I saw it as a real life orphanage. Maybe it was the torrential rain that we’d been driving through that made the day look sad, made the driveway incredibly muddy, or maybe it was that there were no children running towards the car in anticipation of seeing Mora and Carl again. There was no one around…no one.

Cecilia {the house mum} came to greet us and it was a warm one. The children are not here. There are only 4 girls staying here. The rest went to be with family and will return on the 22nd. Major letdown. Daddy is disappointed and I am sad and upset that this has happened. Now, instead of 8 full days with the children, we will only have 3. We are going to make due until they arrive living life here at Tumaini doing things to help like milk cows, chop wood, clean up the classrooms. Even though this trip hasn't gone perfectly since we left, we are making the most out of it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Daily Hope

It's 6am and I can't sleep.
My alarm is set for 7:30am. The day I am allowed to sleep in, I'm not able to sleep.

God has been speaking to me this morning. You might think I'm crazy, but I'm not.
Because we are going on this trip alone, I've prayed almost everyday for our safety, that nothing out of the norm happens to us, that our trip is a smooth one, and that there is no way I can possible think of all the stuff that we're going to need so I've turned that over to God to help with.

I am emailed on a daily basis a bible study. It's usually the first thing I do before I start my day.
Here is today's Bible Study:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

You have a mission; we all do. When we become a part of God’s family, our mission is given to us by God himself: to help others join that family, too. Since God loves everyone, there is no one in the entire world he doesn’t want to be in his family.

Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV).

When Jesus tells the Church to go to “all nations,” he isn’t talking about countries; he’s talking about people groups. He tells us to go to every people group and make disciples.

Today, there are 13,000 people groups in the world; 6,350 of those people groups have churches among them, but less than 2 percent of the population is Christian. Christianity has spread to every major language group in the world.

Yet there are 3,800 people groups that, 2,000 years after Jesus’ death on the cross, still have no church in their language. Why? We simply don’t care enough. We’re too busy with our own lives to care about people who are dying spiritually. Instead of telling those 3,800 people groups about the love of Jesus, we tell them by default to “go to Hell.”

Certainly, it’s a huge task. God’s mission is global. But it’s not mission impossible; it’s mission inevitable. The Great Commission will be fulfilled. It’s a certainty. In fact, the Bible gives us a picture of its fulfillment in Revelation 7:9: “There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”

One day there will be people from every language group in the world standing before the throne of Jesus. The only question for us is, will our generation be the ones to do it? Or will we give up our responsibility and pass it on to someone else? Will another generation be the ones who get the privilege of fulfilling God’s great mission that he created the whole universe for in the first place?

What might keep you from fulfilling your mission? What is God asking you to do this Chrsitmas season to help fulfill the Great Commission?

You see? I'm not crazy, God has been speaking to me.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Night Before

Well, here it is finally. The night before our departure to Kenya, we {my dad and I} are headed back to Tumaini Children's Home. As you might imagine, I'm experiencing every emotion possible. Let's start with the panic I experienced this morning.

I've been in contact with Bishop David, the man in charge of Glory Outreach Assembly, since June when I first booked the tickets. Through our communications, we decided that he or his son would pick us up from the airport, take us to their house where we would spend the night, head to the market for some shopping the next morning and then make our way to Tumaini. That was the plan, short and sweet (was is key word there). About 2am, I started tossing and turning and wasn't sure why. Finally after getting out of bed, I realize that Bishop David had sent me an email. The time stamp on it was 2:15am.


My son Timothy have had to travel North Western Kenya to train young leaders who we call History Makers. The need for training there has been overwhelming so he was forced to extend his stay. I'm extremly exhaused after a series of trainings and minisrty opportunities that I have had in the last several weeks. If I regain my strength, I would still pick you up at the airport. If I continue feelng as weak as I'm now I may not be able to. So I have asked Pauline to be the back up plan. If I'm unable to come, Pauline will send you a driver by the name Hanniel Njeru. He will bring you to my house for accomodation. In the morning of Dec.17th, I know you would like to do shopping as you had indicated, before heading out to Tumaini. I'm extending an invitation to you if you would like to join us to Ruiru maximum prison where we will be sharing the Gospel, food and Christmas gifts with 450 prison inmates . If you joined us for this prison ministry, then you would leave for Tumaini after shopping and prison ministry to get there in the evening. If you choose to keep your original plans, then we shall leave our house together in the morning as we go for prison ministry and you go for shopping.

A question for you. If we had our friends in Atlanta sending you to bring Christmas gifts for the prison ministry, would you have room to bring them with you? What the prisoners needs are things like washing soap, tooth brushes, tooth pastes, tissue papers, coca colas and bread.

Bishop David you can see, the plans have completely changed and that's why I was tossing and turning. If we didn't want to go to the prison, he offered, we would be dropped off in the market to shop by ourselves, just me and my white as can be. Mzungu's as they call us.

I scrambled. I didn't know what to do. I do not feel comfortable in a prison here in the US, much less in a foreign country. I sure as heck don't feel comfortable shopping in a market by ourselves. After 2 calls to Kenya and a short stint of panic to find a hotel, we thanked Bishop David for his help and services, but have changed our plans. Well, changed them back to the original plan.

As I sit here on my couch, with the air conditioner on {imagine that in the middle of December} I'm thinking about how excited I am to see the children. How antsy I am to hurry up and get there. How nervous I am because it's just my dad and I and I planned this all on my own. How much anxiety I have, because as I type this, we do not "officially" have a place to stay our first night in Nairobi. And I'm sad. I'm sad because I know leaving this time around will be even harder than it was the first time. Sometimes, I find myself letting that sadness set in and overtake the happiness that I'm supposed to feel first.

I don't know how I'll react when it comes time to come home. I know there will be tears, there will be smiles, there will be runny noses, and I definitely will leave even more of my heart there than I did the first time. I'm not going back to get the piece I left there, I'm going to give more of my heart to the children of Tumaini. I feel like they are my children.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Traditionally, the month of November is the time when you reflect on things that you are most thankful for. Everyday this month, Lord willin', I'll list another blessing!

Today I'm thankful for:
1. A family who has never let me down
2. The awesome family and friends that I surround myself with
3. For Opry's and the love of country music
4. The opportunity to put a "Sock Drive" Box up in our church to collect socks for Africa
5. My German heritage, cold beer, and sausage
6. My Church family and their generosity in giving socks
7. the convenience of air travel
8. Friends in the Tampa area
9. the innocence of a child
10. Goodbye's, they make you realize a lot
11. Days off

Monday, October 31, 2011

By the Numbers...

To date we have:

7 generous, helping, god-fearing people who've helped us raise

$560 in the fundraising account,

4 small children working on decorating

91 gift bags,

23 pairs of funky colored socks that'll fit in perfectly in Africa,

40 paint by number booklets,

100 colors of faith necklaces ordered for a bible study,

3 spools of yarn to make "God's Eye's,"

40 wooden model tractor kits,

4 weeks left in our church "Sock Drive" project,

7 days until I see Carla in Tampa and stand in awe of the amount of work she's done to help us,

7.5 weeks until we are on our way to share your gifts with these children!

I cannot wait!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Being Blessed

You hear people many times use the word "blessed" to describe themselves. I have even heard people use it in response to, "how are you?" I don't think I've ever used the word to describe myself or as a response, but I'm here to tell you today that I am MORE THAN BLESSED!

I've never done a fundraiser before, and to tell you the truth, I was hesitant about asking people for money. I find that ironic because I ask for the order in my everyday job, more than once a day. But this is different. I thought up the idea of the Tumaini Children's Home Christmas Project in order to raise funds to purchase socks for the 91 children in Kinagop, Kenya. I had no idea how successful we'd be, but thought we'd end up with more than what we started with which was $0.

I'm am extremely blessed and humbled to know that I surround myself with some of the most giving, selfless, God fearing people on this planet. My friends have given of themselves in more ways than I could imagine. I am beyond blessed! Thank you to those of you who have donated to us so far! I am excited to share my experiences with you!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Not Me Monday!

I did not wake up this morning thinking, "what the hell was I thinking?" as I could barely walk from my first Crossfit workout yesterday. Nope, not me!

After my continuing education course, I did not walk into Discount Tire to have my tires balanced, stand in line for 5 minutes and then turn around and walk out. Absolutely not. I have all the patience in the world and my tires need to be balanced in the worst way.

I would never consider eating a bean and cheese taco for lunch. That would not be very healthy and I'd never be a junk food eater- definitely not me!

And finally, I would never consider taking a nap instead of taking Niko to the vet to have his shots or gathering clothes for the garage sale that is going to be at my house on October 1st...not me!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Just Some Sentences

It's Wednesday and I did not go to work today. Why you might be wondering? Well, it's because of a couple of reasons...

I have a squirrel friend in my attic. Well he's not really a friend, he's very unwelcome in there. When I got back from traveling I had a lovely hand written note from my neighbors telling me that they've watched him...or her...sneak in and out of the attic all week long. So, since I'm a gal who lives by herself, and is very self sufficient/independent, I'm going to make the trek to Tractor's Supply to buy some hole patcher-upper. That pesky guy...or gal... has got to go.

I have an appointment with Dr. Bain, the ENT that I'm convinced I keep in business. If you have sinus problems, he's the man to see, but I'm getting tired of all of the "procedures" that have to be done to my poor sinuses. I'm sure I've had more things poked in my nose, than most people have had poked in their body over a lifetime. Today's "procedure" is no small task- he has scheduled 2 hours with me. We'll see if I can breathe out of my left nostril once he's done.

That leads me to my next thought. I've got a high tolerance for pain and when I'm in the middle of a procedure, I always go to my "happy place." But I always get anxiety thinking about the amount of pain that he's going to put me through and that's what drives me crazy. Here's to hoping that this goes smoothly with the least amount of pain possible....yea right!

I get to have lunch with Mrs. Tanya Flieller Bean today, yay! She's been my best friend forever and even though we don't talk every single day...or week, we still can pick right up like it was just yesterday. My dad calls her his other daughter. I love that woman to pieces and we'll be dining here at 11:30!

Now for the real reason why I did not go to work today. I'm sure you read this post and after my appointment with Dr. Bain, I'll be making the 5 hour drive up to Granbury for his memorial services. I don't know how to feel at this point. I'm actually fighting with the emotional cycle that I've experienced. Part of me is relieved and peaceful about his passing because I know that he is no longer suffering and that those who were around everyday until the end are no longer suffering. But on the flip side, I'm angry, saddened, confused, and hurt that a 25 year old man with a beautiful wife and daughter could be taken from us at such an early age. I guess God truly only takes the best. I don't know how well I'll be able to hold up for the next 2 days. If you find yourself thinking about me or my family, please say a prayer for us.

That is all I've got for now. Time to run to Tractor Supply.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tyler Blake Riale


God saw you were getting tired, and a cure was not meant to be.

So He put His arms around you and whispered come with me.

WIth tearful eyes we watched you, as we saw you pass away.

Although we love you deeply, we could not make you stay.

Your golden heart stopped beating, hard working hands at rest.

God broke our hearts to prove to us, He only takes the best.

May you rest in peace.