Thursday, December 31, 2009

Kitengela Glass

Yesterday for Emily's birthday we traveled down a very very bumpy road to a glass factory. It was actually very cool and reminded me of some of the things from First Friday in downtown San Antonio. All of the things made here are from recycled Kenyan glass or other recycled items. They have pottery, beads, and the glass factory.

The factory aka making glass process was on holiday break so we did not see actual items being made. However, I have seen glass made before. My first time at the Tacoma Glass Museum in Washington and the last time in Vermont with my cousin Apryl!

They had a whole room dedicated just to glass beads. You could even purchase individual beads or products such as bracelets, necklaces, key chains, and other items. They even had little bugs made from glass beads and wire. Also, these door coverings with long strings and lots of BEADS. I really liked this shop the best!!

The items they had for sale included glasses of all kinds, candlestick holders, vases, bowls, candy dishes, small jugs, apothecary bottles, and many other things too! All the glasses were pretty sweet. The areas in the store were separated by color which was nice. I really enjoyed the solid blue glass and the green glass too.

I will try to upload pictures before we head back to the states but the internet here is being really funny. I actually typed this whole blog entry already but the internet and the computer just turned off due to the electricity turning off and I lost everything!!! Well this is Africa and things like that happen a lot actually!

heres their website . . . kitengela glass check it out!


Well I better post this soon before I lose it all again.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Hair!!


So today I sat outside in the Kenyan sun for 4 hours while my entire hair transformed into tiny braids :) Even though I got a little sunburned it was worth it!!!

Here's a new picture of my hair . . . done by Esther

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mount Longonot pictures

Kristi, Me, & Emily
soaking wet after running down the mountain!!!

Me- climbing to the top

Meredith Family (minus Patty)
on the top of Mount Longonot

Felix looking at the 9 giraffes
Bob in the background

Finally made it the top
almost went around the steep ridge to the highest point
but the rains kept us away :(

Felix & I
almost to the top!

Emily & Kristi
Rift Valley in the background

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pictures!! from Lokori

waiting for WV to pick me up from Emily's house
with my giant bag full of presents :)
I kinda felt like Santa Claus

Robert (Muthoni's husband), Samuel, Muthoni and I with our tiny tiny plane

view of Lokori ADP from plane

WV staff at Lokori ADP
ADP Director Moses (front row, far left- wearing all khaki)
WV Nairobi office Guest Relations- Samuel (next to Moses, also in all khaki with vest & hat)
I am between Nancy (Lokori ADP) & Muthoni (Sponsorship Coordinator Nairobi)

Sukuta family and cousins
pictured with WV staff- Muthoni & Nancy (far left)

Komusia Family
Margaret, Moses, Komusea & Emase

Kailale, Etabo and their mother- Rosa & me

Komusea seeing her baby doll for the first time!

My sponsored children with their backpacks :)
Kailale, Etabo, Emase & Komusea

Kailale's mom giving me a hug

Kailale's mom and I inside their home with Etabo

me & community with new water irrigation system in background


me & the families eating lunch at the community kitchen area

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Safari Swahili

Lion-- simba
Monkey-- nyani
Zebra-- pundamilia
Elephant-- ndvou
Hippo-- kiboko
Rhino-- kifaru
Crocodile-- mamba
Buffalo-- nyati
Snake-- nyuki
Giraffe-- twiga
Leopard-- chui
Cheetah-- paa

Mount Longonot

FROM WIKIPEDIA

Mount Longonot is a dormant stratovolcano located southeast of Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya, Africa. It is thought to have last erupted in the 1860s. Its name is derived from the Masai word oloonong'ot, meaning "mountains of many spurs" or "steep ridges".

Mt. Longonot is protected by the Kenya Wildlife Service as part of Mount Longonot National Park. A trail runs from the park entrance up to the crater rim, and continues in a loop encircling the crater. The whole tour is only about 8–9 km long but very steep, so that the round trip of park gate - Longonot Peak - park gate takes around 5 hrs hiking. The gate is around 2150 m asl and the peak at 2780 m asl but following the jagged rim involves substantially more than the 630 m vertical difference.

A forest of small trees covers the crater floor, and small steam vents are found spaced around the walls of the crater. The mountain is home to various species of wildlife, notably zebra andgiraffe and buffaloes (droppings on the rim) and hartebeest. Leopards have also been reported but are extremely difficult to spot.

Mt. Longonot is 60 kilometres northwest of Nairobi.

On March 21, 2009 Brush Fires burned up the side of the mountain and descended into the crater, trapping wildlife and feeding on drought ravaged brush.


OUR TRIP


We hiked Mount Longonot the day after my Lokori visit on December 23rd. I really didn't know what to expect. I was thinking something between Enchanted Rock and the Rocky Mountains but it was not like either. It was mostly just very dry dirt thus lots to DUST!! With each step a small cloud of dust would surround your shoes. Some parts of the climb were very steep so steep that the park had placed bags of dirt to act as steps to assist climbers. They were like bags we would fill with sand to line a riverbank to prevent flooding but these were stairs to help climb the mountain. After climbing for about 25-30 minutes there is a plateau with quite a few trees and brush. We just kept climbing following the dust dirt trail all the way to the top. After starting the climb again after the plateau we were able to see about 6 giraffes high above the tree line. They were some distance away but they were still there!! It was pretty sweet. Then we started climbing again this time I noticed that the grey dirt seemed more black like that of Northern California near the Red Wood forests along the Pacific Ocean. Emily said that it might be from the fires that occurred here last March. After she said that I noticed a lot of the brush and trees seemed burned. And the soil was a very dark grey, a change from the dirt at the base of our climb.


Finally we had all reached the top. After a few minutes to take pictures and take turns looking at the 9 giraffes down below it started to thunder and sprinkle. Over to the right towards Lake Naibasha there were dark clouds and looked as they were coming our way. We did not take the very steep climb around the volcano to the tip top due to the impending rain storms. As we were heading down the steep climb of dirt making sure not to slip and fall down the mountain the rain began to get heavier and the winds started really blowing and the temperature dropped! During the plateau part we were in almost dead sprint running as fast as we could down the mountain. At this point we were already completely soaked and the raining beating on our faces stung a little too. Our shoes are filled with mud and the dry dirt just sticks all over our legs and ankles. My hands are numb and my face just hurts all over but none of that matters because we still need to get off the mountain and into the car!! Racing to the cars and down the mountain somehow we all survived with no injuries. Even though I slipped a few times on the dirt bags and Emily saw her life flash before her eyes we all made it the car safe!!


On the car ride back to the house it just started pouring. And being that most of the roads are next to the dirt, mud was just EVERYWHERE!! Rains increased and strong winds blew trash and debris across the roads. Then it began to hail! Marble sized hail that lasted about 10-15 minutes during our drive home. Then almost all at once it was like we had out run the storm and the lands were completely dry and as the winds blew you could see the red dust. Once finally at the house we unloaded and went into the house through the laundry room to remove all our muddy shoes and soaked socks. Moments later the rains began here!!!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lokori ADP (part II)

MEETING THE FAMILIES

Arriving back at the community center/ kitchen all the children climbed out of the van and we moved into a large shady area sitting in orange chairs in a circle. I sat in between the two sisters with their parents on my left and Kailale's family on my right and the WV staff across from me. My sponsored children are sisters Komusea and Emase and brothers Kailale and Etabo.

Komusia Family-- Lokicher Community (70 km away)
dad- Moses, almost 7 feet tall
mom- Margaret
daughters- Komusea (age 11) Emase (age 7) Amuria (age 13) Moit (age 3)
son- Erupe (age 6)

Sukuta Family-- Lokori Community
dad- Sukuta Loongor
mom- Rosa
daughters- Ropiyo (age 13) Esinyen (age 5)
sons- Kailale (age 14) Etabo (age 4) Leman (age 16) Lodwar (age 9) Lobeleny (age 7)


The Komusia family started . . . Dad greeted me and said over and over and over just how happy they were to finally meet me. To them this time together was like Christmas. Mom greeted me and said she was very happy to meet me. And that with all the changes in the plans of my trip they didn't really believe I was coming until they saw me face to face. (The family traveled to Lokori the previous night and would stay until the next morning to go back home). Even once they traveled to Lokori and saw the plane landing they didn't really believe it was me until they saw my face. The dad wanted to let me know or make me aware of their situation back at home and how the family wanted to change to a better school for the girls and to do this they needed more money. He was looking to me for these extra funds. And to make sure he received the fund he needed my home address.

SIDE NOTE . . . As hard as it for me to write this is the truth-- WV informed me that my address and other person information is strictly kept confidential and that I am not to give my address, email, or phone number to the families directly. It is their policy that all communication must go through WV. Looking back on the day and after talking with WV staff and Emily's parents I have learned that even here in Africa families are looking for a free ride just like some in America. The father was very persistent during my time there that he NEED my address to have direct communication lines with me. And as much as I want to be able to help this family I do not want to enable them either. WV is all about helping the entire community, providing outlets for families to get out of poverty, and building a better world for children. And that is what I just love about WV!!!! I also learned that my sponsorship does not provide any direct cash flow to the families but allows them to enroll their child in school and cover all related costs- school fees, books, housing during school, supplies, uniforms, and meals. Plus sponsorship funds go towards building schools, dormitories (all students stay in "boarding" type schools), irrigations systems, loans for families, food, health care, and other project programs.

After WV staff extensively explained to the father about their policies with sponsors I was able to talk with Kailale's mother, Rosa. She was very soft spoken and strong in her faith. She said that ever since she knew that Kailale was sponsored (just over 5 yrs ago) that she began praying daily to someday meet me face to face. She is very happy that the Lord provided this wonderful opportunity for us to meet in person. She was very happy to meet me and glad that I was able to see their home. Also, she spoke of how the sponsorship has impacted their lives and that Kailale attending school was very important to her. Education is way for the children to make better lives for themselves and grow up to become God-fearing independent adults.

Then I had the floor . . . I was just so overwhelmed with happiness to be able to finally meet these children and their families that I had no words to adequately express my emotions. I also said that I was very happy to finally have the opportunity to meet them and that I consider their families to part of my family. I informed them in my room at home I have a large bulletin board with all their letters and pictures. And that all the guests that come visit my home I tell them about WV and my sponsor children. That even my room mate Nicole just recently sponsored a child and that my cousin Apryl did too!! I explained that I am a huge fan of WV and just completed my first marathon wearing a WV shirt.

Then the families and I were able to interact with questions- just basic get to know you questions. Then the families expressed to me their worries and concerns and how I could pray for them. The Komusia family stated first for good health for the children, education for the children and that someday the children are able to become independent adults. The Sukuta family stated that first for the children to grow up as God-fearing adults with a strong relationship with the Lord. Also that the children remember to pray for me in their daily prayers and that maybe someday in the future the children can sponsor WV children just like me.

STORY TIME

I read to the families and children "You are Special" by Max Lucado. Its a story about carved wooden people named Wemmicks made my the woodworker Eli. The Wemmicks give gold star stickers to the "good/ wonderful/ smart/ beautiful" Wemmicks and grey dots to the "bad/ poor/ dumb/ ugly" Wemmicks. One Wemmick named Punchinello was given a lot of dots and that made him so sad he stayed indoors. Then one day he meet a girl named Lucia who didn't have any dots or stars. It wasn't that people didn't give them to her it is just that they didn't stick. Lucia explained to Punchinello that she visits Eli everyday and that he should go visit him to find out why her stickers don't stick. So Punchinello went to meet Eli. Eli explains that all that matters is what he thinks of him not the Wemmicks and their stars or dots. And that he thinks that Punchinello is very special. So Punchinello believes Eli after a short discussion and a dot falls off.

Afterwards we had a discussion with the children to explain the meaning behind the book as well as questions. All of the children were very shy and didn't say much.

MY CHRISTMAS

As I handed out the backpacks to each of the sponsored children, smiles came to their faces. Each child received a backpack filled with school supplies, small toys, clothes, and pictures of me with my family & friends. The two sisters opened the backpacks with huge smiles lighting their faces. Komusea just after opening it grinned showing all her teeth then closed the bag with her hands looking at her parents. Then she opened the bag slightly peeking inside and shut it again this time looking at me. Then she opened the bag again taking out the baby doll for everyone to see. It was soo wonderful!! Then little by little each of the children looked through their backpacks finding all the items I purposely had placed inside for each one of them. I handed Kailale the frisbee and he looked very confused so Moses showed him how to use it. I handed blankets from the plane ride to each of the families and a jump rope. Also, the books by Max I divided between the two families. Then after very quiet thank you's from the children the WV staff and I walking into the kitchen for a coke. (Only Coca Cola products are here in Kenya).

Touring of Lokori ADP

Moses and the other WV staff and I piled into the vehicle to see two of the program projects. I am very glad Frances (the driver) knew where we were going because to me I did not see any roads just dirt and bushes. Along the drive we passed male children herding goats and cattle, women and female children carrying large containers of various shapes, sizes and colors full of water on their heads, homes made like the Sukuta's family, and many people just walking carrying wood or other items. Then we drove up this very steep hill like those in San Francisco but it was made from dirt and rocks.

At the top we got out and Moses pointed to the farm lands that benefit from the new water irrigation system in the community named Lokubae. Current drought conditions had prevented any crops this year and the storage area did not have any crops either. Last year the farmed area was full of many green crops such as maize and a grain similar to millet. The community would be able to provide for all the families (about 2000) and fill the storage area for later use. But this year due to the severe drought they would be asking the Kenyan government for food aid.

The Moses showed me from the hill top another community named Morelum. He explained this is where the new school buildings and recently completed boys dormitory was located. This community also has about 2000 families, covers 1000 acres and currently has just over 800 children enrolled in school. The boys dorm was completed just this summer and current construction is already underway for a new girls dorm. Of all the school buildings and dorms for this community just over three-fourths were possible from WV sponsorship funds!! After a few pictures we piled back in the car to see the school and dorms up close. In the car Moses explained that the water irrigation system for this community will be turned over to the people or completed in 2012.

LUNCH . . . Do I want to even ask??

After touring the ADP and running short on time we made our way back to the Lokori community center/ kitchen. All of the children and their families were still there and the kids playing ball games. I sat down at the table with many dishes infront of me with lids covering the contents inside. I knew that the Turkana people mostly eat meat and all kinds of parts and animals so I didn't know what was in store for lunch. Nancy (WV staff) began removing the lids I quietly asked her if I wanted to know what I was eating? She explained that the dishes contained fried goat intestines, fried goat stomach, fried goat liver, goat stew (legs/ thighs with potatoes in a broth), noodles, rice, and chipatis (like a large tortilla but more oily). I carefully surveyed everyone else (WV staff- Moses and those I had traveled with) all eating the meat. I knew that it was safe to eat being completely cooked, not raw. So I thought well I want to experience everything that this trip has to offer so I tried a little of every thing on the menu. (YES FOR REAL!) The stomach and intestines were very salty and a bit rubbery. The liver was dark and also salty. And none of it tasted like chicken!

GOODBYES

After finishing our meal quickly (because we were running out of time) I walked outside to see all the children and parents sitting eating the same meal I had just eaten. They had bowls, all filled to the top and used their hands as utensils. I said I had to be leaving now. I sat beside the children and Moses took more pictures and I hugged the children good bye. Kailale's mother washed her hands quickly and made her children do the same even though they wanted to keep eating. All of them gave me hugs and big smiles! Moses (Komusea) asked me again for my address and I explained he would have to ask Moses (the ADP director). He kept persisting then Muthoni came to my side, grabbed my hand, and said we had to be leaving.

BACK TO NAIROBI

All 5 of us loaded back into the plane and Alex, a teacher doing a internship with WV also joined us. This was his first plane ride ever and he and I shared the back seat. He was going to stay with family near Nairobi for the holiday. He and I listened to my iPod playing various praise and worship music the whole flight. Shortly after take off I felt so car sick and the small plane with turbulence and limited air flow didn't help. About halfway into the trip the plane was shaking a lot and so was my stomach. I could feel the color in my face draining slowly. I removed a small bag from the seat back pocket and saw the contents of my lunch again (and I did not take a picture of it). Alex patted my leg and said its going to be okay. The next hour was the longest hour. It included rain, strong winds, more turbulence, and more vomiting. Once we landed I was sooo happy to not be in the tiny plane and on solid ground.

That concludes my World Vision experience in Lokori. I would not have changed anything well except maybe the vomiting on the flight back home. It was just such a blessing to see the children's faces, to hear their voices, and feel their hearts beating as we hugged. I loved it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Visit to LOKORI!!!!!! (part I)

Absolutely amazing!! Way better than anything I could have even imagined! :)



Here's a little background on the ADP on Lokori


Lokori ADP (area development program) is one of 64 ADPs in Kenya that is supported by World Vision. There are approximately 150,000 children registered with World Vision Kenya to receive assistance. The percentage of children sponsorship varies depending on the sponsor continuing their child sponsorship and the number of children-- depends on new babies/ deaths and nomadic families moving in and out of the areas supported by World Vision. In Lokori, there are about 50,000 people with 95% being Turkana (nomads from Northern Kenya) and 30,000 people benefitting from WV. Currently there are 4,650 children registered with WV sponsorships in this ADP. There are about 300 children who are not sponsored. WV has been in Lokori providing aid and assistance since 1992. Lokori ADP covers 9,000 square kilometers and is home to 7 clusters or communities. They are Lokubae, Nokwamosing, Katilia, Morelum, Kapedo, Lokori, and Lokicher. WV has 16 staff members in Lokori including the ADP director who I met today- Moses. The families in Lokori are mostly herders of livestock- cattle, camels, and goats. The ADP has several focuses/ program project that benefit the community they include-- Water and Sanitation, Food Security, Education, HIV/AIDS Prevention, Economic Development through micro-finances/ loans, Poverty Reduction, and Community Advocate.



MY VISIT . . .


0615- Leave Emily's house

0715- Board smallest plane ever to fly for 2 hours to the middle of nowhere

0930- Land in the middle of nowhere

. . . . Priceless experience that I will never forget

1445- Board smallest plane ever to fly back to Nairobi

1530- See my lunch again :(

1710- Never been so happy to be back on solid ground!

1740- Arrive back at Emily's house



Departure



Smallest plane = only room for 6 including the pilot!

At the Nairobi airport I met Samuel the WV Donor Coordinator and Muthoni WV Sponsorship Director and her husband Robert. Our pilot Marcus handed us candies (Cadbury Eclairs) and bottled water for the flight. Before take off he showed us the 2 exits, how to use the AC- vents, the location of the first aid kit, and how to remove our seat belts. Then he led us in a short prayer.



Landing in Lokori



Middle of nowhere = Lokori ADP

Greeting us as we landed in Lokori was ADP director Moses, Nancy, James and our driver Frances. As we were de-boarding the plane children from a nearby community ran towards us with huge smiles. We loaded into the only car WV has for the entire ADP towards to kitchen/ community center for Lokori. Driving through the ADP we passed the main shopping center for purchasing supplies and good that is available to all families. Most of the children we passed ran towards the vehicle waving franticly and always smiling. Once at the community kitchen we had very hot "moto" (Swahili for hot) chai tea with milk and sugar, bananas, mangos, and hard-boiled eggs that were trucked in yesterday just for us.



Meeting the Komusia family



Waiting for us at the community center was Ikitmat and Emase- two sisters that I sponsor. I met their dad- Moses who is 6-11 and their mom- Margaret who is over 6 feet. It was like a dream come true. The girls were wearing their best dresses (both matching) and we recognized each other with smiles. Moses (the ADP director) introduced us all and their mom gave me a great big hug. The girls were very shy probably because I was the first mzungu (white person) they had ever met and in shock just like me. After a brief introduction I left the family to tour the ADP- they stayed at the community center until we returned.



Lokori ADP



Traveling by SUV- well it’s more like a truck but the back is enclosed with seats on the sides to hold up to 8-10 adults. At the ADP headquarters I met the remaining staff still on location- today Dec 22 is the last day until the New Year. Most of the staff members had already gone home on Dec 18th- the day I was suppose to arrive. After taking many pictures with the staff we all loaded in the SUV to meet Kailale and Etabo- they live nearby in the Lokori community :)



Sukuta's home



Moses informs me we have arrived, there are about 20 children smiling. I recognize Kailale immediately and am looking for his parents. His mother makes her way through all the children to give me a hug almost catching me off guard. Next to her is Etabo who is very nervous/ anxious at meeting me. He follows very closely to his mother! Making our way into their family home crossing the stick fence Moses shows us where they stay during the day. It’s a small hut with tall sticks making a rectangle with the bottom half open and the top half mud covered. The ceiling is made from more sticks and mud. Inside is a center pole with a radio attached and in one corner tied up is a family goat. After a few more pictures Kailale's mother- Rosa takes me inside their home. It’s a small round hut made from mud and sticks with a thatched cone roof. It’s no bigger than 12-14 feet in circumference and the walls are 5 and half feet but the roof cones upwards so there is plenty of headroom. Inside is a bed just larger than a twin, a bicycle, and a chest/box with the rest of the family’s possessions. The floor is swept clean and between the roof and sidewalls are shoes and toys for the children. Outside they show me their 6 pet pigeons and we take a few more pictures. I meet the grandmother and informed the father, grandfather, and eldest son are away for a sudden family funeral. The mother says that the rest of the family stayed behind because they knew I was coming and wanted very much to meet me. And the father is sad he had to leave. Then about 6-8 children and the mother load into the SUV along with the WV staff from the ADP headquarters to return to the community center for more one on one time with my sponsored children and their familes.

MUCH MORE TO COME . . . off to bed since its 1130pm here and I have been up since 4am

Monday, December 21, 2009

Amazing Safari!!!

Safari trip to Masaai Mara in Southern Kenya near the border of Tanzania. It is about a 5-6 hour drive from Nairobi. The drive is down the bumpest road ever!! Well there is not much of a road during a lot of the drive. It is a 2 lane dirt road that is really really bumpy. So bumpy in fact that my iPod would shuffle songs as we were driving. So noisy inside the van that you almost have to shout to the other people in the van to hold a conversation. The safari driver/guide Alex said that the shocks are changed every 6 months!!! Driving through the Rift Valley seeing all the people, the villages, farm lands, refugee tents, and even motor bikes carrying a goat in the basket!!! side note- we counted 33 carcasses while driving out of Masaai- its really hot and dry

During the safari trip we saw more animals than I could have ever imagined!! The first trip in the park we saw "The Big 5" which is pretty amazing to see so quickly!! The big five animals are the elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, and the buffalo!

Over the course of 2 days and 5 safari adventures here are the animals we saw -- Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Rhino, Cape Buffalo, Cheetah, Wildebeest, Heartabeest, Impala, Zebra, Giraffe, Hippo, Weaver Bird, Topi, Baboon, Warthog, Ostrich, Meerkat, Thompson Gazelle, Crowne Crested Crane, Hyena, Guinea fowl, Stork, Dik Dik, Waterbuck, Eland, Secretary Bird, Lilac Breasted Roller, Grant Gazelle, Vulture, Crowne Plover, Kori Bustard, Bush buck, Jackal, Metallic Blue Starling!!!!!!

We stayed at this resort in tented camps. Basically a large canvas tent with a wood floor foundation and a concrete structure for the shower, sink and toilet. We had a King sized bed with wonderfully soft sheets and even a hot water heater to make coffee and tea in the tent. Each night the staff would come around to zip up all the mesh openings and place a large hot water bottle in each bed. We even had lights and a dudu (bug) zapper in our tents too!! For the meals it was always buffet and tons of options. And yes, Uncle Konrad I took pictures of all my meals!!!! I had Nile perch, tilapia, passion fruit, pineapple, curried potatoes and even samoosa-- a fried bread filled with meat or potatoes, peas, carrots, and corn.

I'm LOVIN IT!!!!

Well we are getting ready for dinner . . . I am drinking a glass of Riesling wine from South Africa. On tonight's menu- enchiladas :)


Friday, December 18, 2009

JAMBO from Kenya


Just a few notes from my trip this far . . .
--Drive to the market with Emily, Kristi & Ian (Emily's brother) to buy fresh fruit and groceries. While in the super market with Ian the power went out for about a minute. I am so amazed to see frosted flakes, coca cola, and many other brand names from the states. I have never seen so many bags of flour or sugar before but I really enjoyed it. I was also impressed to see computers at the check outs and even the grocery store has a smart card for discounts for frequent customers to earn points.
-- Later in the day we walked to meet Peter- a tailor. He lives about 1/2 mile from where I am staying. He makes curtains, sheets, clothes, aprons and mends clothes. Then we walked to this little shop which sells jewelry- like earrings, necklaces, and bracelets made from beads, bone, seeds, and bottle caps. Also there were bags/purses and clothes. It is definitely a place we will be returning too!!!
-- Today we are just chilling at home with the family. Emily's dad finished his last day of work with the Navigators for the holiday break. His coworkers and their families came over for a lunch. Also we celebrated Esther's (a coworker) birthday. Played hide n go seek with the children and even tried buffalo- not really my thing but it was okay.

Well its almost 7pm here and getting dark soon. The weather today was great, breezy, windows open about 78-80 degrees :) and not a cloud in the sky.

sidenote- my bag was still in London and should be coming to Nairobi tonight at 10pm.


Swahili words
Fundi- expert, jack of all trades
Maziwa- milk
kahawa- coffee
takataka- trash
mzungu- white person

Thursday, December 17, 2009

MADE IT TO NAIROBI

YEA!! I am proud to type my first blog posting from Nairobi. Good news we all made it here safely. Not good news- my luggage is not here :( Please pray that my suitcase with all my clothes and gifts for my World Vision children will be here in Kenya by Friday night. We are scheduled to leave for Safari at 5am on Saturday for 3 days. I'll be visiting my kids on the 22nd. So please pray that my bag will arrive by then!!!!

Standing in line in the Nairobi airport with huge tears in my eyes not because I don't have any clean underwear but for the sadness overwhelming my heart that I might not be able to give the kids all that I have that's just for them! I do have their backpacks and a few books. But I am missing the m&ms, clothes, books, baby dolls, and their toys (matchbox cars, balls, rubber ducky, etc.) I know that no matter what happens that God is in complete control.

I learned something from Emily's mom tonight- T.I.A (this is Africa) Things happen here like my missing luggage happen for a reason and it just reminds of our many blessing we do have and things we take for granted (like escalators in airports!)

Well its almost 1am here so I better get some sleep!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Time for KENYA

Leaving today!! Driving to Dallas to spend time with my aunt Zanne & Uncle Konrad!!! Leaving for Kenya tomorrow, 16 hour flight, 3 hour layover in London, and 9 hour time difference!!!! Can't wait. Get to meet Kailale, Komusea, Emase, & Etabo on Dec 22nd-- change of plans from the 18th since the aircraft was double booked. On the 19th I will be going for a 3 day safari to Mara. Not sure when I will be able to update next but I'll do it as soon as I can.

Please keep me, Emily & Kristy in your thoughts and prayers as we travel and during the 3 weeks while we are in Kenya.

Return to USA- Jan 4th-- spending the night in Dallas


Well I am off!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New Pics


Belton Family Christmas card



Hanging with Andrew & Bobby in the BRP



me & Charlene at CHF Christmas Toy Wrap



Christmas with mom & Joe



Thanksgiving with Grandma and Popo


Be Passionate!!!

World Vision has captured my heart!!! Having had the opportunity to sponsor a child in another country 9 hours away has changed my life more than I think I'll ever know. Kailale has a very special place in my heart and receiving his letters brings such a huge smile to my face!!!!


Recently I have been talking a lot about World Vision to a lot of people. Mostly because of my upcoming travel/vacation to Kenya in only 6 DAYS!!! On December 18, I will get to meet Kailale and his family and his community first hand in Lokori. I am taking a chartered plane (paid for by me not World Vision) to his village- Lokori, which is about 350 miles northwest from Nairobi (where I'll be staying with Emily & her parents). I have only been dreaming about the day when I will get to see him face to face and give him a great big hug for just over 5 years. Its like this impossible distant dream finally coming true and I am super excited!!!!!


World Vision's mission is about building a better world for children. My sponsorship of Kailale has not only changed his life or his families but their entire community!!!! The sponsorship helps to address the most basic needs- immediate and long term. With over 50 years of experience they have discovered the most effective way to build a better world for children is helping the entire community. World Vision intentionally works with locals to determine the communities specific needs and helps the community to gain access to resources to meet those needs. Such as accessing clean drinking water, improving nutrition, health care education, economic opportunities and vocational training. By strengthening the community they are able to bring hope of a brighter future for the children and lasting change!


There is even a 10+ year plan for each community that they bring hope and change.
Phase 1 (years 1-3)
Building trust and laying the groundwork
-- Partnership with community
-- Needs and resources assessed, plans to meet needs
-- Begin child sponsorships and community project


Phase 2 (years 4-9)
Building hope & skills
-- Community participates in progress and embraces project ownership
-- Children continue to benefit from projects
------ education/ school
------ nutrition/ food
------ clean water
------ health care
------ spiritual nurture


Phase 3 (years 10 til project close)
Building confidence for the future
-- self-assurance and self-sufficiency grow
-- years of hard work and partnership transform lives of children & the community


I know that my sponsorship with Kailale will one day come to an end. The effect I have on his life now through my sponsorship will stay with him and his family forever. My sponsorship may conclude if his community has "graduated" The goal of sponsorship is end the cycle of poverty so the children, their families, and their community can move into the future with a strong foundation of hope. Also, if Kailale finishes school, marries, or becomes self sufficient my sponsorship is no longer needed. And is something unforeseen happens such as his family leaving the community our relationship will end.


For the skeptic people in the world I want to tell you that World Vision is making a difference in the lives of children all over the world and even right here in America. They respond to natural disasters similar to the Red Cross and have the experience of changing lives for over 50 years. For every dollar donated more than 86 cents goes directly to that cause! Just click here for their charity rating and financial information from Charity Navigator if you have doubts.


"Success" By Ralph Waldo Emerson


To laugh often and love much
To win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children
To earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends
To appreciate beauty
To find the best in others
To give of one’s self
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded

Friday, December 4, 2009

X-treme Weather!

During the next 2 weeks the weather changes are going to be as intense as my traveling!!!

Friday Dec 4th- San Antonio
Snow flurries, low of 24! Which is really cold for South Texas especially this time of year!!! Not to mention everyone going just crazy because of the cold weather. Houston even got recorded snow fall today. Average temperatures for this time of year are highs in the 60s with lows in the 40s.

By Sunday the high is expected to be 61, high of 62 on Monday and Tuesday high of 72!!

Thursday Dec 10th- Milwaukee (visit my BFF- Andrew)
The weather channel forecasts high only 18!! Yes 18 degrees Fahrenheit . . . I am taking a coat, gloves, scarf & a hat! And wearing at least 2 pair of socks :) I hope we stay inside but I will definitely go outside if there is snow!! Maybe even wake up super early for another photo shoot of the sunrise over Lake Michigan . . . just maybe.

Saturday Dec 12th- St. Louis (visit my aunt- Betsy)
The weather is going to be 40s to 30s. I am looking forward to seeing all the Christmas lights!! And I hope to eat some toasted ravioli too!

Tuesday Dec 15th- Dallas (visit my aunt- Zanne & uncle Konrad)
Average temperatures are predicted for this time of year but this is Texas we are talking about so anything could happen. Highs 58s. Lows 38s. Hanging out by the hot tub and relaxing with family . . . always good times at the Kaltenbach resort & spa!!

Thursday Dec 17th- Nairobi Kenya
Temperatures high in the 80s low in the 60s!! Can't wait to spend Christmas holidays in another part of the world with Emily & her family!!! Not to mention visiting Lokori to see my sponsored kids- Kailale, Etabo, Komusesa, & Emase. AND a 3 day safari in Mara. I am so ready . . I can't even begin to describe adequately in words my excitement!!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

12 Days of Christmas!!

12 Days until I leave for Kenya!!!!

11th grade is when I first realized I wanted to travel to Kenya. Spent the last 9 years dreaming of going to Africa.

10,000 airline miles! Dallas--London--Nairobi--Lokori--Nairobi--London--Dallas

9 hour time difference

8 months ago we purchased our airline tickets

7 things I hope I don't forget (toothbrush, deodorant, sunglasses, bug spray, first aid kit, flashlight, & underwear)

6 pieces of luggage for the flight!! 3 girls x 2 large suitcases each

5 hour layover (London airport)

4 children I sponsor through World Vision- Kailale, Komusea, Emase, Etabo

3 day safari in Mara!

2 cameras I'll be taking on my trip. Not to mention the 6 memories cards I'll be using :)

1 life time experience that I'll never forget!!