• Working Like Beavers: March 31. We are working like beavers, but everything is clicking well. Traffic is out of this world. It now takes us two hours to come home at night. Get up at 5 a.m., breakfast at 6, on the road at 6:30, at Jubilee by 8, devotions and work until12:30 p.m., lunch (excellent - cooked by Alyce and Lucy) , back to work by 1:30 until 5, and back on the road by 5:30. By the time we stop at the store for whatever is needed, get back to our hotel and take a shower, we are dead but happy.
We are working with the older kids and have assigned them to different stations and they love it. The dentist has two assistants and let them help with the tool and suction, so they are having a ball. It rains a lot here in Nairobi but not one drop in Ruai. Meeker's kid has already given me a drawing to bring back to his sponsor.
We started giving physicals to the children yesterday. Unfortunately, one of the new kids tested HIV positive. Most of the new little ones are undernourished and speak little to no English. The older girls are really helping.
The eye testing is going well. Sarah and Elaine gave their own sunglasses away to the children.
The men are doing their things. Joseph, Arilla's kid and the older boy, is helping. He even had a chance to go out with Owen to get gas for the generator.
I am having a ball bossing everybody around. I am also spending a lot of quality time with the older girls.
On Sunday, we had a wonderful service. It was moving to see all the children singing and praising God, not to mention 10 or 15 little tots entering the stage and singing "When the Saints Go Marching In."
• But save 10 percent for God: April 2. Leaving at 6:30 a.m. sharp makes a difference as far as traffic goes. We can get to Jubilee by 7:40 a.m., although we are still playing "urban cowboy" through the most unbelievable traffic jams of trucks, cars, bikes and hand-pulled "trailers."
Everybody is fine, but some of us have had little bouts of bathroom runs. Spirit is good, and a lot is being accomplished by the three teams -- dental, eyes and physicals.
Anna and I had the time of our lives taking eight of the high schoolers shopping downtown. Each one had received 800 Ksh -- about $10 -- and had total freedom to buy what they wanted. Previously, we had a Bible lesson about how to handle money. Amazingly, they are the ones who told me they had to save 10 percent for God.
We started by hunting for blue jeans and bras. We found good bargains in the local shops where you can find absolutely everything. We opted for the local KFC, which was excellent by the way, and then headed to a very large supermarket to buy food for tomorrow's special meal and also to replace a hair dryer for the girls and a "shaving machine" for the boys' heads.
Mary bought a birthday cake to share with the others -- her birthday is Saturday and she wanted to spend her money in something that all could share. Isn't there a lesson here? Her first $10 and all she wants to buy is something that she will give to the others.
We arrived home safely, and I was totally exhausted.
For some reason, I didn't provide transportation for John and Jennifer from Good Shepherd UMC who arrived at night. I thought they were coming Thursday. They took a taxi and are now at the Methodist guest house. We will meet them this morning.
Today is a special pasta party. We will give the children a couple of little things so both groups can have a chance to have quality time with the children.
• The high school walls are up: April 3. Yesterday was another beautiful day. Jen and John joined us for breakfast. We all left a few minutes after 6:30 a.m. We paid dearly for being late as it took us about two hours to get to Jubilee. After a very moving devotion by Billy Turner, who shared with us his near death experience in an auto wreck while on a mission trip, we all went to work. John, his guitar and his charisma, attracts children like a magnet. Pretty soon the whole place was singing and praising the Lord.
Jennifer went to work unpacking and setting up the computer room. Like usual in Kenya, it takes a little longer to get things done, but eventually they do get accomplished.
I cracked the whip with the older children and put them to work organizing the "goody bags" for all the kids. I showed them what I wanted and soon we had an assembly line putting candies, balloons and drinks in plastic bags. I am so proud of these children. They are bright, sharp and love to get involved in specific tasks.
Anna made an excellent pasta dinner for 200 that fed about 150 of us. It was so good. The kids loved it. We also all had ice cream.
The construction is going very well. The high school walls are up, and the trusses should be erected today. The roofing material should be coming soon. We are so grateful for the generous individuals who made this possible with their generosity. We have also started to plaster the two bottom rooms and install the electricity for the computer lab. All the glory of what is being accomplished is to God and it never, never stops to amaze me what the power of faith and love will do.
The afternoon went by like lightning. Before we knew it, we were on our way home. We all called it an early day. Last night, we splurged and all went to Safari Park Hotel for dinner and an African show. It was great fun, but we paid the price going to bed around 11 p.m. to get up at 5 am.
• 135 kids have seen the dentist: April 4. All the second group of participants have arrived with their luggage -- a miracle and a first for our mission trips. The first group left for safari this morning after a tremendously successful week. In five days, 135 kids have gone through dental exams, cleaning, filling and extractions, followed by physicals and any other problems they wanted to talk about to our wonderful Nurse Janice and then an eye exam that had some perks: A brand new pair of sunglasses and stickers.
It is Owen's birthday, and the children had prepared a "Happy Birthday" welcome song. There was not one dry eye in the 25 crowd.
• Time flies twice as fast here as it does at home: April 5. We had a good day yesterday. After lunch, we spent time with the kids. Child sponosors connected with them, and it was funny to watch these children holding onto their sponsors' hands like on a life line. The only trouble is several kids asked me how come you are not coming with my sponsors? I guess I will have to pass the word to sponsors.
The little ones were accepted at JCC are opening up. They are still shy and do not speak English but love is a common language. There is a connection there. They are starting to smile a little, and they do laugh when we attempt to speak Swahili.
A couple of minutes before heading for JCC for church service I want to say, time flies twice as fast here as it does at home I swear.
• Construction update: April 5. While all of us are busy with the kids, the construction is progressing well. Every day brings an army of workers. They do everything manually. The trusses are made on site from long pieces of lumber divided in two by one man armed with a carpenter saw. The lintel is concrete that is mixed by hand and then carried on the second floor. The workers love us as we are providing a lot of much needed jobs in the neighborhood.
On the first floor, the electricity has been installed in the computer lab and the walls have been plastered. The floor and the ceiling will be next. I expect that by Monday, the roof material - tin - will arrive on site and before we know it, that part of the high school will be under roof.
• Sunday night: We had another great day today and all of us kind of rejuvenated in a wonderful service of praise for the one who is making all this possible. The children as usual were wonderful with their songs and dances praising God. I decided John was much more qualified than me to deliver a message and he did an outstanding job. He was asked of course to play his guitar and sing and before we knew it we were all singing, clapping hands and dancing. Nobody would ever believe that I do attend the traditional service at my church rather than the contemporary.
We had a wonderful lunch in Westland. Jen got a little bit sick with the heat and all the excitement not to mention the terrible bumps of the roads so she and John went back to the MGH while the others charged to the Ya-Ya Sunday market! The supermarket parking lot is closed to cars on Sunday and replaced by vendors selling everything that a typical tourist could dream of bringing home!!!
Bob and I went to Uchumi to buy the supplies for Monday for PB & J and school supplies needed for the different activities.
It was very hot today and we still have not seen a drop of rain at Jubilee. That is bad news as the fields have been planted and we really need rain soon. We keep praying for at least a thunderstorm.
Tomorrow, the new team will have a chance to get to work. Chuckie and Brady teaching art, Pasty has enough activities scheduled for the little ones to stay at Jubilee for a full month! Computers are up and running and kids will be lined up and of course, the men are ready to tackle beds and desks.
We all thank God for bringing the second team safely to Nairobi.
• We prayed for rain: April 7.
The sky opened up. But let's start with the beginning. Monday morning gave us the first car casualty: it rained a lot here in Nairobi during the night and one of our three vans would not start. We sent the ladies first so they could start children's activities and the men stayed with Bob and I and we waited for about an hour and a half for the van to be fixed. Actually it gave the men a chance to introduce themselves and kind of bond before starting the bed construction project.
By the time our group arrived at Jubilee, the ladies had all the kids split in groups, computers, art, music, crafts, etc. Kudos to Sonia who spent the whole morning organizing all the stuff that had multiplied in the suitcases before it reached Jubilee.
When the Kenyans say "the rains are coming," they are not joking! It came and it poured for about 10 minutes turning the dirt road into a mud pit. Not just the kind of mud we have at home, more like "muck" that builds up under your shoe soles and sticks and makes walking very difficult. Ten minutes later, the sun was back but then it poured again. It is actually a blessing for Kenya and good news for Jubilee as the crops were planted last week.
For the rest of the blogs and more ifnormation, visit kenyaorphanageproject.org.
Human interest and people doing good for others is good news, especially today.
From March 26 to April 8, 34 area residents including six from Clover, went to the Jubilee Children's Center in Nairobi, Kenya, as a part of the Kenya Orphanage Poject mission trip -- a medical team went the first week, followed by a construction team. They broke records in services provided.
The following are selections from the KOP mission trip blog (koptrip.blogspot.com).
Visit kenyaorphanageproject.org for more information.
-- Monique Boekhout, Lake Wylie resident and founder of KOP