Diary of the Saba (Seven) Sisters …Day 10 (08/14/10) – “Homeward Bound”

 

  • On the last day we rose very early (5AM) to see if we could catch a morning kill.  After morning tea, we piled into our vans excited about what the morning would bring.  Not too long after we arrived at the park, the drivers spotted a group of safari vans stopped in one area.  We quickly drove over to find 3 male lions and one lion cub feasting on a wildebeest.   We circled around to the other side of the ditch and saw 5 more lion cubs and 2 lionesses.  A few of the cubs were playing and the others were resting.  We were all amazed at the calmness of the lions in the presence of unwanted guest.  As we rode on, and on, and on, we continued to see the acres of wildlife, but no kills.  We realized our safari had come to an end, so we headed back to camp to pack up and head home.

Diary of the Saba (Seven) Sisters …Day 9 (08/13/10) – “On the Road Again”

 

  • Day two of the safari took us around the terrain for a while admiring God’s works but not seeing any different animals than we’d seen the previous evening.  As the morning moved on we finally came across a lion who was being teased by a lioness ready to mate.  What a treat!  Leaving them to their privacy we moved on and as the afternoon came and went more and more animals began to cross our paths.  Our next sightings was a couple of cheetahs (which we were told are often hard to find),  ostriches,  a mother cheetah with her 6 babies; probably not more than a few months, hippos, crocodiles, and lastly a leopard resting in a tree. For many of these viewings the vans were able to get as close as 10 feet to catch a glimpse of these awesome creatures.
  • Upon returning to the camp we had special invitation to visit the actual Masai village. A “dance”, which from our standards comes across more like a chant with a few foot movements, was performed by the Masai men. This Masai tribal village has 25 families with a total of 200 people. The people live in small dung and wood constructed houses which takes 2 months to build and that last about 9 years before becoming so termite infested that a move is necessary.  Each house has only several rooms a few of which are used to house certain livestock in order to preserve the best of their herds from wild animals.  We were shown how these tribal peoples make fire by hand by rubbing together 2 types of wood, cedar and sandpaper tree, and then once a spark is catches kindling is used to ignite the fire.  This tribe lives very basically and is skilled in making handmade crafts which they were happy to share with us after the tour in order to make a sale.  The Sisters cheerfully opened their wallets to be able to help support the village and to have treasures to take home to forever remember the encounter.

Diary of the Saba (Seven) Sisters …Day 8 (08/12/10) – “Safari Road Trip”

 

At about 7:30AM two safari vans where outside the guest house occupied by the Sisters.  These vans were to take us, along with teachers Mary, Samuel and James, on a 5 hour road trip to Masai Mara to experience African wildlife up close and personal.  The first van driven by Peter carried Ashley, Delores, Mary, Samuel and along the way in Karen picked up Michele and Roger

(a couple from the Netherlands visiting Africa on vacation).  Van 2 rolled away with Carol, Rhena, Lisa, Lydia, Laura, and James. The driver for Van 2 was Leonard. The day was filled with sunshine and the drive was very pleasant; especially after reaching the fully paved, two-lane highway.  The passengers relaxed taking in the beautiful landscape, chatting with one another, listening to their i-Pods, and napping off and on.  Lunch was provided along the way and at about 6:00PM (after being back on the bumpy non-paved roads for approximately the last 25 miles) the vans pulled into the Masai Mara campground where our tents were set up and prepared for us for the next 3 nights.  Everyone took a quick bathroom break and we all piled back into our respective vans and headed out to the Masai Mara Reserve to see what, if anything, we could see before the sun set for the evening.

  • Any worries that may have been had about not seeing natural wildlife were quickly put to rest since, in the 2 hours we were able to be out we saw:  zebra; hartebeest; impalas; vultures; gazelles; elephants; several lionesses with baby cubs (with cubs feasting on a recent kill); topi; dic-dic;, and about 20 giraffes.  After the sightings we returned to camp to eat dinner and sing songs in both English and Swahili (as best we could) before packing it in for the night to be ready for a 7:00AM trek back out to the Reserve the following morning.

 

Diary of the Saba (Seven) Sisters …Day 5 (08/09/10) – “Some Fun in the Sun and Work, Work, Work”

 

  • Lydia, Delores and Laura rose early morning and were immediately greeted by 31 of 30 excited faces! Yes 31 of 30 since somehow after roll call there was an extra kid on the field trip bus.  Thank God it was realized before the bus departed.  The ladies were accompanied by Dorcas, the headmaster’s wife, and a Huruma teacher for an all day adventure with the middle aged children.  As the bus pulled off the children filled the air with their joyful songs.  They started with “My Destiny” and flowed from there into “Jesus My Number One” and then several others from their nighttime devotion and celebrations. They sang all the way to the first stop for the day which was the Giraffe Center located in Karen.  The kids were able to feed the giraffes and learn more about tortoises. Leaving the Giraffe Center the bus was boarded and headed to the Elephant Center where rescued baby elephants are housed and cared for.  The children delighted in watching the baby elephants play together, getting bottle fed, and entertaining all the tourists.  One of the elephants came a little too close for comfort to Laura but she bravely stood her ground and the few hundred pound animal sauntered on his way paying her no attention.  At the Elephant Center the Huruma crew was surprised to see the North Carolina missionaries who had just left the orphanage several days before doing a little sight-seeing before returning home to America.  All were equally excited to have another opportunity to see one another. The next stop was Mamba Village where a hearty Kenyan lunch was served and then a visit to the crocodile pond.  There was much excitement as some of the kids actually held baby crocodiles.  The last stop for the day was the Nairobi National Park to spend some time at what the Kenyan’s call the animal orphanage.  The animal orphanage is a lot like an American zoo but here the Huruma crew learned how and where the animals were rescued.  After the wonderful outing, the first field-trip for almost all of them, the crew safely returned to Huruma with 32 out of 31 children ….just kidding! Only 31 young people, all who left with the Sisters returned with the Sisters, thrilled at the opportunity to see and experience a day like today.
  • As for the other Sisters, Lisa and Rhena took a jaunt away from Huruma at about 9:00AM to visit a few middle aged children who had elected to leave the orphanage. There was both joy and sadness surrounding the visit. Lisa, who knows these children due to her numerous visits to Huruma over the years, hadn’t seen them since their making the decision to leave. Upon arrival at the place they now call home it was apparent how pleased they all were to be united once again.  However, a bit of melancholy loomed in the air during the visit as the children discussed why they elected to leave Huruma and about their now current circumstances.  After leaving the children and when driving to the store to pick up a few things Lisa and Rhena chatted about how perhaps God’s will in this situation was to provide a lesson about how the grass isn’t always   greener on the other side of the fence and how working through issues, instead of simply trying to avoid them, helps to make a more grounded person. Regardless, since ours is not to question, the visit ended with hugs all around and reassurances to the children that they could in fact return to Huruma if they desired.  While Lisa and Rhena were out and about Sisters Carol and Ashley began coordination of and the start to the official Huruma project – – painting!  With the help of the older students the plan was for 3 classrooms to be completed before the Cornerstone missionaries left on Friday, April 20th.  On this first day Carol took the position of “foreman” with the students.  The class rooms were cleared out and cleaned up, rollers and facemasks distributed, and verbal instructions (given by Carol) shared as the group waited for the paint to arrive.  There would be 2 coats of primer on all the walls and 2 coats of paint so today was primer day. The primer/paint got there a bit later than expected but it didn’t matter much because the painting team was anxious and ready to go. Be the end of the day two of the three rooms got the 2 coats of primer needed and the third room received 1 coat before cleaning of the rollers and paint brushes, paint pans, floor spills, and children began.  All in all a mighty fine job done by a bunch of kids who’d never painted a room before. Thank goodness the showers were close by to get all the paint speckles and smears off of everyone, including Carol, before dinner was served and devotions began!

Diary of the Saba (Seven) Sisters …Day 4 (08/08/10) – Oh Happy Day!

Psalms 117: 1-2 – All of you nations, come praise the Lord! Let everyone praise him! His love for us is wonderful; his faithfulness never ends. Shout praises to the Lord!

  • All praise and glory to God on this Sunday morning at Huruma.  The Sister’s had a quick morning breakfast before heading to Mama’s house for Sunday services in the meeting room.  What a sight to see! We joined the older children, the girls dressed in their finest dresses and skirts and the boys in their dress pants, button down shirts, with a few even in jacket and tie, and waited for the youngsters to finish up their group worship of singing, dancing, prayer and praise.  After a time the little ones marched out the side door of the meeting room and passed us by with smiles and love on their faces and headed up the hill to the school rooms for Bible study.  The young adults and Sisters filed into the meeting room to the joyous sounds of 6 singers (a mix of teachers and students:  Moses, Mary, Jacinta, Stacy, David and Jacqueline), a combination of children and teachers, leading us with song as the room began to fill. Those entering joined their voices with the 6 and the reverberation in honor of our God blended loud and strong with the music from the piano and guitar played by Samuel and Kwaka.  Music worship continued for 45 minutes before Mama brought the Sisters up front and formally introduced us one-by-one, by name, to the gathering.  Pastor Joseph (JoJo) stepped up to the podium and began preaching on the topic of making the right choices in life by following the word and in honoring our Savior Jesus Christ. The delivery of the service was very much like a service at Cornerstone:  Energetic and uplifting; a few props used to help us visualize what was being said; and closing so we had a clear understanding of the message for consideration in making our own decisions moving forward with our lives. Well done JoJo!
  • After church Huruma, including the Sisters, all respected God’s day of rest by enjoying a little lunch and spending a leisurely afternoon in Christian fellowship.  Around 3:30PM God answered the many prayers being sent over the past several days and Lisa’s luggage was delivered to Huruma.  The actual delivery was a special surprise offered by God’s grace since usually you have to drive out to the airport to reclaim your bags.  There was much rejoicing! At about 5PM the Sister’s started separating out items brought with us to give to the Huruma teachers.  The was nothing too elaborate, just a few things to show appreciation for their paying it forward to children now in the same situation they once were.  Each teacher received a new toothbrush, toothpaste, underwear and socks, along with a hoodie (which they simply loved), shirts and ties for the men.  Following the gift exchange we set the teachers down to a wonderful meal prepared by locals Ann and Lois who have been with us in the house since day one ensuring the Sisters have at minimum a dinner meal.  The Sisters so loved being able to host the phenomenal young men and the one woman (Stanley, Jimmy, John, Moses, 2 David’s, Samuel, JoJo, and Mary).  It was such a wonderful treat to have the chance to serve and wait on these special people since everyone at Huruma has been so gracious in trying to ensure our stay would make us want to come back again.  This level of generosity seems to be the way of the Christian Kenyan culture. The Sisters filled and refilled plates and beverages as many times as the teachers would allow and after the meal was finished we served up the choice of coffee or tea.  With the food portion of the evening finished we started to discuss the group project the Sisters and teachers would provide for the kids from Tuesday 8/17 – 8/19 … Camp for the 14 and older crew!  Teachers and Sisters grouped together to help create and decide who would facilitate camp activities like name tags, games, meals, talent show, worship, and camp fire fun.  With ideas shared and in mind to work through over the next several days we bid the teachers goodnight and crawled into bed feeling so grateful for all good gifts around us provided by our heavenly Father.    

Diary of the Saba (Seven) Sisters …Day 3 (08/07/10) – Hugs, Kisses and High Fives

 

  • The Sisters rose sporadically throughout the morning; each eventually strolling into the kitchen’s dining area for a cup of fabulous Kenyan tea or coffee and peanut butter toast.  After respective meals Rhena leaves to join another team of missionaries here in from North Carolina to play outdoor team games with the kids.  Behind Mama’s house, where the kids sleep, and just a bit further up the hill are some open fields  where to the left is a basketball court and straight back a volleyball court.  On this morning the younger children were grouped into teams of six playing a maze and baton exchange game.  There was a ton of running in circles and running into each and cheering for team mates which brought out a flood of squeals and laughter in the field area!  While Rhena’s eardrums rang with the joyous sounds of childhood delight Laura, Lisa, Ashley and Lydia took a stroll across the street of Huruma to visit with Jimmy (Lisa’s future son-in law) and the other teachers in the sheds they call home. Each lives in what American’s would consider to be a studio apartment, meaning one room, where their bed and kitchen and living area are separated merely by hanging sheets. This group of the Sisterhood briefly chatted with the young teachers there at the time (5 out of 8 men and the one 1 woman), as the teachers  busily scrubbed laundry for the week in wash basins set up in the field near their sheds and then placed their wet shoes on top of the roof of their shed to give them time to dry. 
  • By mid-morning the entire Sisterhood, including Carol who was our late sleeper this particular day, were all once again gathered in the dining room of our residence for a meeting with Grace, Huruma social worker and Monica, Huruma children’s counselor. The ladies shared with the Sister’s the do’s and do-not’s as guests of Huruma and then led us for an inside visit of the children’s building.  It was great to finally see inside the structure where the children had been watching us from the barred windows and doorways since we arrived and where they spend their evenings sleeping.  We first headed to the babies room finding 3 little ones each in cribs just waiting for arms to hold them. Sisters Delores, Laura, and Ashley being the first to immdiately oblige the request.  The youngest child currently at the house, an 8 month old little girl named Hope, continued to sleep as we invaded the small room.  As the word spread that the Sisters were now in the house more and more little people began gathering around our legs and to fill the cramped space, each wanting to finally get a closer look at us, to offer a hello, extend a high five, or receive a hug. We didn’t want to disappoint so stayed in the baby’s room for quite some time before moving slightly down the hall to the girl’s rooms. It’s probably important to note that as we trekked along from this point at least 5 of the 7 Sisters now have a big, brown-eyed, hip-hugger along for the ride for the rest of the tour J.  There are three girls rooms separated by age, 3 – 10 years; 11 -15 years; and another for the girls age 16 -18, but as teenage girls will be girls this room was locked and we weren’t allowed in.  Each of the rooms we saw was impeccably neat and had multiple bunk beds made up with bedding tight enough to bounce a quarter off of.  Along the longer wall in each room were many crates stacked as shelves which held neat stacks of folded clothing.  On one of the shorter walls, also in racks, we’re countless numbers of black shoes since black is the approved color to wear with the school uniform. Having seen (most) of the girl’s space we shuffled to the other side of the house to have a look at the boy’s rooms.  What we found was very similar to that of the girls but the boys only have two rooms (ages 3 – 10 years and then 11 -18 years).  In these rooms the clothes and shoes weren’t stacked quite as neatly, although still pretty neat, but to give credit where credit is due these beds too could see a quarter pop several inches off the blankets when bounced. What was new to our eyes in the boy’s area and brought smiles to our faces though was to see all the different colors in the ceiling line of the walls in the bath area.  Turns out this colors came from the multiple number of toothbrushes suspended from gaps in the cement adding a bit of special character to the joint.  Finally we moved into the great room area of the home which serves as a meeting, playroom, dining, and chapel area for the orphanage since it can hold everyone at the same time.  When we got there children of all ages were singing and dancing and we couldn’t help but to join in on the fun.  We stayed longer than we probably should have considering there was still shopping to do but eventually realized we had to pull ourselves away and headed out to the cars (Toyota Corollas) to make the 3 mile drive down into Ngong.
  • Arriving in the heart of Ngong we first exchanged some cash for shillings and then went to grab a bite of Mexican food for lunch at Paprika’s.  Yup, Mexican for the Arizonan’s – go figure huh! Since no one can do Mexican food like Mexico we all agreed it didn’t have quite the spicy flare to it as what we were used to but that it was quite tasty none-the-less; so no worries — no one walked away hungry. Behind Paprika’s was Nakumart (the local store like Walmart in the more poasch town of Ngong).  The plan for this stop was to buy paint and to pick up some odds and end for our palace.  It was decided the paint was too expensive from Nakumart so we’d wait to get that somewhere else later in the week.  However the trip wasn’t a total loss since we spent time wondering through a new store and had the experience of using our new currency at the checkout counter picking up nick-nacks: some small plastic shelves for the bathroom; paper-towels; power strips; coffee … With check-out complete but shopping now running through our veins it was time to head off to the local Market!  The Market is probably just like you’re thinking but expand and broaden the image at least 10 times and you’re getting close to what we saw.   After parking next to a donkey and stepping carefully to get out of our cars we arranged our cameras on our hips to be able to try to catch some shots in an environment where camera aren’t at all welcome.  Our main purpose, other than to gawk, was to find mangos and African material for wraps.  We searched one side of the market seeing every type of fruit and vegetable you can think of, and even more you’d probably not recognize ‘cause we certainly didn’t. It was fun experiencing the different tactics used by the marketers trying to conveince us to buy from there booths instead of the other guys.  Of course as we walked we saw too much good stuff not to patron a few of these booths so as we moved we did finally end up getting some avocado, passion fruit, bananas and finally stumbling across a booth having mangos! As we crossed the Market to the other side in search of material we bumped into our friend Grace (the Huruma social worker) and were introduced to her friend Nancy.  Hugs and kisses were exchanged and Grace pointed us in the right direction in the two football field area of everything you could possibly want to lead us to some awesome African print and colored materials for wraps.  Wiped out from shopping we shuffled through the crowds back to our white Corolla (minus donkey since he had moved on), took a group picture, and piled in to take our new purchases back to our guest home.
  • Back at Huruma the Sisters broke off into groups and strolled around the property.  Some went for a fitness walk and others to play with the Home’s dogs.  All but Delores who stayed behind for a quick nap connected together again at the property’s Church still under construction to see how things were coming along.  The walls with beautifully cut windows and cathedral roof are up and already you can see how dynamic this building for Christ is going to be. In awe the Sisters headed back down the hill since it’s now been several hours so you know it’s time to eat again, right? 
  • Lydia and Rhena got distracted with watching the kids learn how to play baseball and were quickly sucked into the game.  Taking photographs and teaching the kids (all mid-aged and older girls this time) how to hit the ball, run the bases, and tag a player out.  These little ladies definitely are a League of Their Own and should have a blast running the diamond for many years to come.  The remaining 5 Sisters made their way to the house, drug out the multitude of leftovers building up in the kitchen and began warming and heating our dinner. 
  • Mama joined us for dinner this evening and shortly following Lisa and Jimmy left to finally go retrieve her bags from the airport.  Laughs and silliness began as we waited for their return.  One hour passed and after chatting with Mama she parts our company and heads off to bed at her house. A really smart move which we all should have followed since as time tick-tocked into hour two the late night punch-drunk silliness started to set in as we shared stories about the day and continued to wait for Lisa.  Hmm? A half hour into the hour 3 wait Lisa walked through the door in just about the same punch drunk state as the rest of us; but what else can you do when you’re in Africa and your bags, which were supposed to be at the airport based on a phone call received earlier in the day, are nowhere to be seen by anyone.  

 

Diary of the Saba (Seven) Sisters…Day 2 (08/06/10) – Are we there yet?

“March on with joy my brothers and sisters in Christ’s triumphal procession as God

leads us along.”  ~ Carol

  • Time flies traveling with new friends: there was plenty of conversation, getting to know one another, forming of a family bond, not to mention plenty of meals, laughs, movies, and sleeping on the plane. Our flight from Phoenix to Houston went off without a hitch and the Sisters shared lunch.  Doddeling a bit too long in shops after lunch the last of the group boards just in time for the flight to London.  Trip across the pond was quiet and peaceful.
  • From London we boarded to Nairobi; with ever mile getting closer to our destination and each other. The Kenyan Airways flight was much like the ones before but this time with lots of empty seats so we could lay down in seat rows all to ourselves for more sleeping and with no layovers since 1) we’d be picking up our luggage this time and, 2)  Mama Zipporah, with a few of the Huruma teachers, would be meeting us to drive us up the Ngong Hills to be her guests for the next two weeks.
  • Touchdown!! 1 plane, with 7 Sisters, and 26 bags.  Yes, only 26 … poor Lisa’s bags are lost once again for the 3rd time in her 7 trips to the orphanage thus far.  While a bit funny and disappointing at the same time nothing would bring us down and we knew God would provide. As we excited baggage claim Mama greeted each of us with a dozen multi-colored, beautiful, roses (red, pink, yellow and orange). 6 Sisters and Mama loaded into the Huruma bus, and Lisa and local pastor JoJo into the Toyota Corolla (very popular here) with the teachers, and up into the Hills we went.  Kenyan’s drive on the left side of the road which took some getting used to for us American’s but apparently at 10:30 on a Friday night many Kenyan’s feel they have the liberty to drive however they want.  Great job by our driver avoiding the crazies! The drive from the airport to Huruma took about 45 minutes and although dark outside the city lights helped us to see parts of the city Mama pointed out in becoming out on-board tour guide.  We were able to glimpse things like the Kenya stadium for football/soccer games, the Karen Blixen mansion, and the largest slum area in the world.  The city lights began to dim as the climb into the Hills really began.  At this point the roads became quite bumpy, with a total of 14 speed bumps to cross before we turned left off the main road to reach Huruma at the top of the hill.
  • Exhausted but still exhilarated we piled out of the vehicles to see many children, all of whom should have been sleeping, coming out to greet us.  The children and teachers helped to unload our bags into our assigned rooms and to show us the amenities of the enchanting residence. The women’s house has 4 bedrooms (2 with 2 sets of bunk beds and a 3rd room with 3 sets), a split bathroom (2 toilets, 2 showers, 1 sink) and a kitchen (with full size refrigerator and stove). Soon the house was left to just the Sisters where we enjoyed the cabbage, beef, potato combination and noodles for a side prepared by Mama early that evening.  Lulled by our full bellies and long days of travel (about 36 hour’s total) we each soon crawled into our freshly made bunk for a good night’s sleep.
  • With God’s grace the answer to the question is … Yes, we’re here!