Well Hello, I’m back online. So much to tell but I won’t put it all in one post this time.
First, we have settled into our new apartment and it is feeling like home. (see slide show) I can finally relax when I get home and not be stressed out about water and other stuff breaking. Not that this apartment is perfect. Two of the instant hot water devices don’t work (my bath sink and the kitchen sink, but we knew that when we moved in. I’m ok with that, since the water still runs in those sinks. Cold water is better than no water. And I fixed my toilet when one of the pieces inside the tank broke loose and water went flying. At least this apartment has water cut off valves inside the apartment in logical places, not like the last apartment. The Kenyan men at the hardware store probably thought we were two crazy white ladies, trying to describe this little blue piece we needed to replace. They finally pulled out a box of loose parts and low and behold, there was the piece I needed. I’m looking forward to getting the lamps we picked out this past weekend. They had to be wired so we can’t pick them up until Wednesday. We have been shopping for sofas and have finally decided to go with the one we got the best price. They custom make them, so we have to pick the style and fabric and then wait for them to finish. I suppose we could have purchased one of the ones already made but neither of us liked the fabric combinations. Not sure what we pay as deposit or upfront and what we pay after, but I can’t wait to sit on something other than wicker furniture (NOT comfy).
click on link to see The new apartment
Speaking of the last apartment, my roommate is meeting with the old landlord Monday to discuss how much of the deposit we will get back, since he has rented the apartment already. However until we have something in writing, we keep the sets of keys we have to the apartment since we know others who have never gotten their deposit back after handing over the keys. So please pray that we will get the majority of our deposit back eventually. We know we have to wait until mid-October, because that is when the new renter will pay the rest of his deposit. Apparently the landlord spent our deposit.
We are learning our way around Nairobi and I now have gone on three errands by myself. We take turns driving the car to and back from school so we each get time behind the wheel. My roommate tends to drive more because she knows her way better than I do and that way I can pay attention to landmarks so I can find my way there again. I am also learning to be a more aggressive driver, although sometimes it is hard to push my way into traffic as I am sure that someone is going to hit me. I’m afraid that I might be a very bad driver when I get back to the states and will forget to give right of way and to stop fully at intersections. We did get the shocks fixed and the tires replaced finally and the ride is much better, but still very bumpy. I hope the new laws that went into effect recently will mean the roads get fixed faster.
My school had a long weekend a couple of weeks ago and we went to a Christian retreat/education center in the highlands. (see slide show below) It is at about 7500 ft above sea level, so even higher than Nairobi. It took a little over an hour to get there from school and I got to see a lot of the country side. And the center was beautiful, with gorgeous gardens and manicured grounds. And the food reminded me of home. It used to be run by a Southern Baptist organization, but the new management has kept things pretty much the same. We had a buffet each meal, but it was things like fried chicken, mashed or scalloped potatoes, green beans, real biscuits and sausage gravy at breakfast, pancakes etc. The only thing they didn’t have was grits :( . (Grits is a blog for another day). We took a hike through the tea plantations and even saw some primates in the forest. Although I can’t be sure, but I think they were vervet monkeys.
click on the link to see some pictures of Nairobi and our trip to the country In the City and out to the country
Driving from Nairobi to Brackenhurst
I have gotten many questions about the weather here. So….it is technically the equivalent of spring, where the colder weather (low 70’s daytime, low 50’s night) is gradually warming to the hottest weather in December (mid 80’s in daytime, mid 60’s at night). But it really hasn’t warmed up much at all, even though we have had a few warmer days. The Kenyans are saying that it usually isn’t this cold at this time of year. They said it usually starts warming up in mid August and by this time we should be having more days in the high 70’s. I really wish those warm days would get here since without any kind of heat unit in the apartment, it just stays cold. My bedroom has yet to get above 69 F. And stone tiles don’t make feel any warmer. I’m thankful I brought my warm camping socks.
School is going well. I am finally adjusting to having 4 preps and having just a few minutes to switch gears from one subject/grade to another. I do have to take lots of deep breaths between 8th and 6th grade however. They each have their own unique qualities and require different approaches from me. One of the interesting things I got to talk about this week was my experience of living in Iceland. The 6th graders were learning about the summer and winter solstices. First we had to learn that the book (printed in the US) was backwards from here, since we are in different hemispheres. We talked about the length of day changing as you get farther from the equator. FYI: we are between one and two degrees south of the equator so the length of day doesn’t change hardly at all during the year. Anyway, I told them about living in Iceland and how around the summer solstice it never really gets dark. Then in around the winter solstice the sun rises and sets in the middle of day and it is so fast it never really gets all the way above the horizon and never gets fully light either. The Kenyan students were amazed at that, and I’m not totally sure they believed me. Anyway it was fun talking about it to them.
We also had a pet chameleon for a few days (see pictures below). Some of the students found it on the campus and brought it to show me. We put it in the terrarium for a few days and observed it. The kids caught bugs for it to eat, mostly crickets and moths. I even made a video of it eating a cricket (see video). Then I released it. The kids wanted me to keep it, but being the conservationist that I am, I know that we shouldn’t take wild animals out of the wild and keep them in captivity. Most, unless they are very small babies, don’t live anyway, so it is better to put them back. This one is a Jackson’s chameleon. It has 3 horns on its head so it is probably a male. I tried to put it on different background to get it to change colors, but it just changed the darkness and lightness of the splotches vs. background. You can see the difference between it in the video from inside the cage to when I was releasing it. Hopefully we will have more small creatures as visitors to our classroom.
Releasing the Chameleon
One thing we will not have is a hyrax. They live in the bushy areas on campus and hide in the drainage ditches by our classes during the day. They urinate on the concrete at night (smells bad). So when the campus caretakers (groundskeepers/maintenance etc) found one the other day, they killed it. I guess I should say they bashed it on the head with two by fours. I have never heard a more creepy scream than that thing screaming as it was being chased by those men. My ‘Mammals of Kenya’ book accurately described it as spine tingling. It wasn’t as bad looking as other rodents, and actually looked more like a rabbit with short ears. But obviously they are considered pests here. After doing more research, I have to wonder if they disposed of its body or maybe ate it (yuck). Check out this link for more information http://www.outtoafrica.nl/animals/enghyrax.html?zenden=2&subsoort_id=4&bestemming_id=1
I’ll end today’s blog with the good news that I think I have finally found a church here. It is a Kenyan church and I just feel very comfortable and at home there even thought there aren’t many white people. The pastor is very easily understood and so far I’ve liked his messages and his style of delivery. The music is awesome, with a mix of Contemporary worship like back home, some gospel, and of course some songs in Swahili. I can now sight read Swahili since I have learned some basics of pronunciation, but I have no idea what I am singing. I am hoping to begin Swahili lessons soon. It is very lively worship and I really enjoyed it, so I will be going back and learning more about the church. They have lots of ministries and encourage everyone to determine their God given gifts and use them in HIS service. I just hope they let me start serving before I finish all their classes, which are basics of Christian faith and learning your SHAPE (which I have done more than once). Please pray for this church, Nairobi Chapel, which has a vision to plant 300 churches, throughout Africa and the world, by 2020.
Also, I have been reading a great book called “A Hole in Our Gospel” by Richard Stearns. I will probably be quoting this book off and on but I highly recommend that anyone in America who claims to be a Christian, reads this book.
Upcoming blogs: Hope Streams school in the slums; Something to Bite; and much more. Stay tuned.
Blessings, In Christ’s service, Pam