Friday, February 25, 2011

Pokot People Part 2

     So our adventure continues with the men visiting more churches.  At one church, the pastor told the men that a school had opened nearby.  The teacher was so proud of her students, and she wanted all the visitors to see her children and school.  In the middle of a cleared out piece of land, a school with rocks as desks and a tree for shelter bustled with children. 

     The children come for school and to receive (for most of them) their only meal of the day.  You can see the school kitchen in the photo below. 

     And here is what is for lunch today, and everyday, in the school cafeteria.  Corn.  The corn is rock hard so they boil it to make it edible.  One big pot of corn to nourish little hungry bodies. 

And the local granary (below) up on stilts to keep the stash safe. 

     The children learned a song to sing to their visitors, so they all marched in to present their song. 

And then they waited for their lunch.

     The last church visited was quite off the road.  Local people had to hack a way through the brush to make a path for the cars.  Most of the places visited were close to a dirt path and accessible to the team.  The day before the guys arrived, a few people went with pangas (a long knife)  and slashed a narrow path for the cars to use.  When the group arrived, they found a few logs under a tree.  Again, a local woman pounded on her drum to alert the members that company had arrived.  

         The trip ended and the men headed home.  Gracious and hospitable, the local people waved goodbye and invited everyone back to visit.  When I host someone for dinner, I am always consumed with the amount of food I have to offer and the house being clean.  I want to make sure I have choices in case a person does not like a certain type of food or sauce.  Often as I enter the home of a Kenyan, they are simply blessed if I take a cup of tea with them.  Sugar is a valuable commodity and expensive at that.  I have learned many things about hospitality here in Africa.  When the sugar is passed to me to put in my tea cup, I think about the sacrifice the family is offering to me by allowing me to dip my spoon in the sugar bowl and take a spoonful or even two.  The small bag of sugar costs a day's wage.  A day perhaps in the hot sun, sweating and working every muscle in their body, to earn enough money to put something on the table for their family.

     The people in Pokot were blessed by the mere presence of visitors.  They insisted the men eat with them in the church.  Precious meat was offered.  Almost priceless vegetables cooked for people who in a few hours would be back on the road and in their own homes with a pantry full of food.  Yet, with a smile and happy heart, the food was placed before the visitors and a sense of pride came over the locals as they watched the men eat.
      I want to be willing to offer my best for anyone who enters my house.  I want to simply be blessed by the fact that people walk into my home and eat with us.  The Pokot had so little to offer and yet they offered more than I ever have to my guests.  I want to be more like them!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Pokot People

     Andy just returned from a trip to the Pokot Region of Kenya.  I sat down with him and looked over all the pictures of the trip that a fellow missionary took out in the bush.  Each picture flashing across the screen made me say, "That's my favorite picture."  After many favorite photos, I gave up and just studied the people and surroundings.  In this blog, my hope is to allow the pictures to tell more of the story than my words.  (I want to credit our fellow missionary friend, David Barthalow, with all the photos.  My hubby forgot his camera and so David graciously allowed us to use his gift for picture taking for our blog.) 
    First I will give a tiny bit of background.  The Pokot are a tribe of people found in Kenya.  Their region flows between two countries: Kenya and Uganda.  From our home in Nairobi, you would head northwest and drive about 500 kilometers on not so nice roads. (Understatement!)   The people live very simple and poor lives.  In the area where Andy visited, they have not seen rain in 3 years.  By the pictures I will put up, you can tell they have not had rain.
     Andy drove our Speed the Light car and packed it full of people and rice.  Our neighbor, who coordinates Convoy of Hope, donated the rice packets.  Two Toyota Landcruisers filled with Kenya Assemblies of God (KAG) pastors, visitors from America and AG missionaries headed off to a land that was dry physically and spiritually.  The objective of the trip was to access the condition of the few churches that had been recently built and the pastors who moved up to the region to reach the people.
     On the first day of touring, the men went to this church site.  The people managed to get walls up around their meeting place but no roof.  The pastor met the group and told the touring onlookers that they needed sponsors to help finish the roof. 

     This is the area around the church.

 The group continued on in their journey.   

The next church had a roof but the walls were a little less sturdy.

Then the next church had no walls but a roof.  (pull up a long and sit awhile)

     Whenever the troop would arrive in the next village, they were brought into the facility to see the place where church members met each Sunday.  The site was often vacant at first but it did not take long to attract a crowd.

     A woman carrying a baby and a drum began to beat the signal that visitors had arrived.  As she walked around the village, people stopped the chores they were busy with and came to church.  The laundry, cooking, and other house duties could wait since visitors were such a rare treat. 

Before long, the members of the church were singing and enjoying an impromptu worship service. 

     After introductions and a time of fellowship, the men began to hand out the rice.  As I mentioned earlier, it has been 3 years since the people in this area have seen rain.  Only the strongest trees and people can make it through the lean years of drought.  One woman in particular stands out among the crowd.  Elizabeth is her name.  Ten years ago she accepted Jesus as her Savior.  She was 40 years old when her life changed.  The Lord spoke to her and told her to plant 10 churches among her people. 
     The Pokot tribe is unreached in many ways.  In some areas, trucks do not deliver goods, cars do not pass by, and the outside world is only spoken about and not seen.  Elizabeth has a mission now.  She wants to reach her people with the love of Jesus.  Her home is in a city nearby and she is married with children.  The Lord told her to go back to her people and so on certain days of the week, she gets on a bus and takes it as far as it goes.  Then she walks down the dusty, dirt roads from village to village.  Many of the primitive churches that you have seen in the photos are a result of her faithfulness to tell others about God. 

Elizabeth is right behind the children in the pink shirt and blue jacket.

     The one item that Elizabeth would like to have as she walks among her people is a Proclaimer.  The group of men on the trip only had a few with them to deliver to the pastors of each church.  The Proclaimer is a device that is solar powered or hand cracked and it has the Bible recorded.  The people were amazed when the men opened up the machine and it began to speak to them in Swahili.  Most of the people in this area do not have a Bible to read.  The Proclaimer is an amazing tool to help people without the means to have a Bible.  For most, even if they had a Bible, they would be unable to read it because they have never been to school. 
    With that story, I will end this blog.  I will have to make part 2 another time.  The day has become night for me and even though I have many more photos to share and scenes to describe, I must wrap this up.  Between power outages that have kept me from uploading photos and the daily chores of homeschooling and cooking, I have run out of time.  It might not seem like it took all day to upload the photos and write the few lines that I typed out, but alas, it did.     - Stacey


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Day in Masai Land

     A few weeks ago we left Nairobi with our neighbors and drove out to Masai land.  Eight people piled in a Land Cruiser.   The first part of the journey was smooth and lush.  We climbed higher and higher through neatly trimmed tea fields.  The color surrounding us was magnificent.  The plants, trees and tea  created an ocean of green.   
      When we hit the top of the mountain and began our descent, a world of brown dirt and sand lay out in the valley.   The contrast between the two worlds is striking.  When the day is clear, you can see for miles into the Rift Valley.  The Rift Valley is a geological wonder.  If you have time, go look it up on the internet.  I can hardly do justice to describe it, but from what I have read it is a rip in the continent of Africa that extends from Ethiopia to Mozambique.  Geologist can best describe the terminology of plates that are separating and different fault lines that exist in Africa.  The depression just north of Nairobi is one of the deepest in the East African Rift Valley.  The land is dry and dusty for miles and miles.  Two mountains stand tall in the distance, and I now know that those tall brown bumps are actually volcanoes.  Those giants are where our journey will take us.   

     About thirty minutes later, we are deep into the parched valley and turn off a nice, smooth, paved road onto a thin strip of a dirt road.  The ride slowly becomes bumpy and exciting.  To our right we spot zebra and gazelle.  Before we turned off the main road, we saw many people herding their sheep and goats.  The road was busy with taxis and safari vehicles loaded with people heading to safari in the Mara.  This road was abandoned and sparsely spotted with the occasional gazelle standing under brush for shade.  The short brush and stunted acacia trees allowed us to see far ahead.  When we finally hit a patch of acacia trees that were taller, our friend told us that we were in a place where giraffe usually stay.  We passed through the area slowly but no giraffe. 
     Shortly after the trees, we stopped at a Kenya Assembly of God Church.  Kids poured out of the building to see who was in the vehicle.  In this area, not many cars or trucks pass by.  All the ladies in our truck quickly grabbed our wraps and fashioned them into skirts over our shorts.  We all spent some time shaking hands and greeting the pastor and his congregation.  After a few minutes, we piled back into the car and began the bumpy crawl up the steep mountain.  At one point, we all needed to use the bathroom.  The road didn’t have a place to pull over so we just stopped the car, girls got out on one side, boys got out on the other and we walked a short distance behind a rock and did our thing.  When roughing it, I have two pieces of advice: don’t find a bush that has 2 inch thorns sticking out of it and if you have a choice between rock and sand, choose sand  (it doesn’t splash).  The picture is the road we have traveled so far!

     Our destination was the top of Mount Suswa.  Our neighbor knew a place with caves, a picnic area and a view of the crater.  We spent a lot of time going about 15 mph but finally reached the spot.  The area was sandy and had a few trees.  With the car parked in a shady spot, we all walked over to a round circle of trees with large rocks.  Once I walked up close, I could see the steep drop beneath and the cave openings.  On a very hot and dry day, the coolness of the caves felt refreshing like air conditioning in the desert.  We climbed down the rocks and explored the opening of the caves. 

   After exploring the caves, we ate some lunch and watched a herd of goats pass by.  The time out of the car and away from the tossing and turning like a rocking boat on a rough sea was really nice.  When we were all done eating, we journeyed over to the crater.  The view from so high up provided us with some unexpected sights: dust devils.  Little tornados reached down from the sky to the earth below and swirled the sand high into the sky.  Inside the crater, the vegetation was green and truly like an oasis.  On the way back to the main road, we passed mud huts with sticks and branches visible in places along the walls.  Kids stood close to the house, half dressed and dirty.  They waved to us as we passed by.  Some with one hand high in the air and others with two hands waving back and forth like windshield wipers making sure we knew they were happy to see us. 

     We stopped by the KAG church on the way out.  Most attendees had gone, and the church was vacant.  Just behind the church was a watering hole for the community’s animals, and it also served as a laundry mat.  A small wire fence encircled the church, and we all walked over to the fence that separated us from the massive amount of animals taking a drink.  The sound was mesmerizing.  As the sheep, goats and cow created a chorus in their own language, I wanted to capture it on video and use the audio as an option for a white noise machine.  Baby sheep “bahhed” out for their mothers.  The sound was not unified and each animal called out at different pitches and timing, but the music was amazing.  Many of us stood there just taking in this moment of time as shepherds leaned against their sticks and rested knowing their animals would quench their thirst. 

     I was panicked for them though as a thought passed through my mind.  “How will they each know their animals when it is time for them to leave?”  All the different herds of animals mixed together and made their way to the square tank that caught the water.  Somehow, when it was time to move on, each shepherd began to move in between the animals and prod along his animals.  In what seemed like a matter of seconds, the place was vacant only leaving one woman bent over washing her laundry in a purple plastic tub.  She dunked the clothes in the soapy pan and then rubbed the shirt together to clean it.  She then tossed it on a woven mat all twisted and wet.  Three little girls stood alongside of her.  When they realized we were watching them, they each turned away shyly. 

     Our time was up and we needed to head back home.  When we passed back through the tall patch of acacia trees, we searched again for giraffe.  Someone shouted out that they saw a giraffe.  As the car stopped and the cloud of dust engulfed the car, I waited to see my favorite animal.  The dust settled and there beside the road was a long neck and triangular head looking at us.  I got out of the car and began to walk in his direction, and for many steps I was able to get closer and closer.  The whole trip was a blast, but spending a few minutes watching the giraffe and his family behind him was my favorite.    

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Jumping In

     I am in new territory.  I joined the blogging community.  I loathe journaling so this should be fun.  However, since I am living a life in a foreign country and every day seems like an adventure of some sorts, I want to capture a few shots of my time adapting.  Right now my husband is on an adventure that I guarantee will produce all sorts of interesting blogging material.  Over the past 4 days (when he had cell phone reception)  I have received calls from my hubby and listened to brief descriptions of tribes in Northern Kenya that are remote.  The stories give me flashbacks to when I was in elementary school and sat on the front row in church and heard missionaries speak of reaching  people that have never heard "the good news" of the Gospel.   I can not wait to share some of his journey with you. 
     I want to warn you though that one of the many reasons that I have not blogged up until now was because I knew that I would not take the time to correct my punctuation or grammar mistakes.  I teach my kids at home and although we are deep into diagramming sentences I know that I will fail in making sure I do not have a run-on sentence or forget to add a comma or add too many commas.  I was an English major in college but the many years that have passed since I held the diploma in my hand and the foreign languages learned; like German and Macedonian, have blurred my memory of all the rules.  (I think that last sentence should contain a colon.  See, I told you!)  So, I will throw caution to the wind and put my stories and pictures of our grand Kenya adventure out for the world to read.