Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nairobi, Kenya

Monday & Tuesday, March 28/29, 2011

The Eagle has landed!

I had taken a nap in London when we arrived on Saturday, ate dinner, and later that evening slept a few hours waking up at 2:30 AM. I didn’t go back to sleep so didn’t need our pre-arranged wake-up call at 6 AM. We departed the Marriott and foggy London about 7:20 AM after eating an awesome and free executive breakfast and flew out about 10:30 AM, arriving later than planned in Nairobi. We found out that the flight took longer because they flew around Libya’s airspace. We shed our outer clothing knowing it would be warm, but it is a relief to be here instead of Sierra Leone where the humidity can be suffocating. It is 5,000 ft. in Nairobi and the weather is mild year-round—we love it here!

I’m always praying that my stuff shows up and we were blessed with all four pieces of luggage (two for us and two filled with stuff to hand out). We found the new humanitarian couple waiting for us, Elder & Sister Tuttle. We have spent the last few months e-mailing and calling back and forth. After meeting them in person our feelings about them were confirmed that they will be a really great humanitarian couple. They are going to spend a great deal of time cleaning up old projects before they turn in new ones, and we are here specifically to help them do that.

There have been a gaggle of couples filling this spot—one man who used to work in the office had to take the humanitarian job over half way through his regular assignment; the next couple, well, he had a heart attack after a few months; the next couple having recently returned from another mission filled in for a few months till the full-time couple could be called, and now they are finally here. I’m not sure why the Tuttle’s think that they need our advice, but they were anxious to have our assistance; they seem pretty self-sufficient to us.

Here’s another ‘it’s a small world’ moment—the Tuttle’s son married the daughter of Elder & Sister Petersen who took such great care of us in Sierra Leone the first couple of times we went there. We also just found out that a young Elder Herr is serving a mission here and that his grandparents are Elder & Sister Herr who was the missionary couple in 2005 at the same time we were here. They have since served in Russia and now are in Togo, Africa.

Elder Tuttle is a retired fireman and both he and his wife are very neat. They spent a week cleaning this place up and tried to remove the years of grime that have been here, well, forever. They found out as I did that you can only remove so much dirt embedded in the wood floors and tile grout. So it is as clean as it possibly can be. I’m trying to be just as meticulous so they won’t think we’re a pain in the neck and sorry that they asked us to come. The walls in our old apartment are still the same brownish/green color we saw last year that someone had painted over the soft peach we thought looked so nice and matched the accent in the furniture. I won’t tell you what the new color reminds me of. The living room furniture we purchased years ago still looks really good. My pictures are still on the walls in this apartment, the ones I took while here and wondered who blew them up and framed them. I have no idea how they obtained them but I’m still awfully flattered—after all, I’m a published photographer now, ha, ha.

The couples have acquired many more apartment amenities than we had while here—a toaster, microwave, little water heater pitcher for hot chocolate, and even a crock pot. They acquired that while in Johannesburg during their training. You just have to cut off the plug and add the new one for Kenya, just as we did when we brought the first (coveted by all the couples) waffle iron. Now they all have waffle irons. We’ve enjoyed meeting some of the new couples here again—office, employment, PEF, etc. Three new ones are due to arrive in the next few weeks. We loved seeing our old friends Victor, Dickens, Charles, Paul, James & Dorothy in the office. Gee, we just love these people!

Jim and I both had restless nights. This is not unusual for me but for Jim it is. I had a headache and after taking this and that (I’m such a wimp) I finally kicked it and probably slept from about 5 AM to 8 AM when my open mouth breathing caused by my cold and exhaustion got my mouth so dried out that I woke up coughing. Jim and I both swatted mosquitoes that buzzed us and bit us. We were supposed to stay in the apartment below Tuttle’s but the office couple was out of town and the keeper of all the apartment keys. We stayed with Tuttle’s Monday night and whispered and tiptoed around all night long trying not to wake them up. We took numerous trips to the extra bathroom—boy, this place echoes--but I think they had a fan going so it might have muffled our nocturnal skulking. Last night we stayed in the missionary apartment that is open at the moment so we could make all the noise we wanted. At first, it was just the sound of our snoring...

That night I didn’t get any more sleep, just slept at the beginning of the night instead of the end. Jim woke me up because my snoring was annoying (yep, I was very tired and had a cold!). Unfortunately both of us were awake for the rest of the night. I guess Jim wanted company. I got up to get ready to go into the office at the ridiculous hour of 7 AM. They do this to miss the traffic at 8 AM. If it were me, I’d just go in at 9AM when the 8AM traffic settled down. I’m glad no one is here to tell me when to get up—I am after all, a happy night person and apparently my body likes it that way--at least when I’m not flying all around the world having so much fun with jetlag.

Today we both went to the office to clear up some very problematic former projects. The Tuttle’s will be grateful to us if we can solve the problems and finish up the old projects. Jim, playing the contractor again, will be in full gear for the next few days figuring out what we really still owe our contractor and old friend Ajay. Some of it is good and some not so good, but Jim will figure it all out and meet with Ajay. We’ll be here a few days and I am happy about that. I do hate packing and unpacking! Elder Tuttle took us shopping for some groceries and we’ve been working at the flat while they finished up at the office. I fixed them dinner since we were home all afternoon, but they brought the dessert.

Staying in shape has taken a back seat to my new goal: try to stay awake.

Sarah Amanda, our ‘adopted’ Kenyan daughter, visited us on Monday. She is now living in Mombasa and enjoying making a living selling clothes for profit that she acquires in Uganda, and booking travel to the Masai Mara and other places. She is a single mom to her son named Jimmy, named after you-know-who.

This is a stack of books and folders that Jim has to go through to properly close out several water projects.  He's got his work cut out for him!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

On the road again...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Or should I say, up in the air again… We departed home in the early afternoon yesterday and flew to London. Since there is no connecting flight available we had to stay overnight at the Marriott where the Church made reservations for us. We were here long ago once and I think they spruced it up a bit because our room seemed freshly decorated. The bed is comfortable and I know this because that is about the first thing I did when we got here—try out the bed.

I left home with a bad cold but Jim and our son Dan gave me a blessing. I felt like sleeping all day yesterday and through the evening till just after dinner on the plane when I finally ‘woke up’. Of course, once it was time to sleep, I didn’t feel like it, sick or not.

I sat next to a lady who is Armenian and lives in Glendale. Just on the odd chance I happened to mention that I loved this Armenian doctor who took care of my parents—sure enough, she knew him, even though he practices in Westlake, Dr. Krumian. Who would have thought? She was coming to England to visit her sister. She told me that her brother’s wife was probably dying of cancer and would I pray for her in Church. (I told her we did water wells for our Church so I presume that is why she asked me to pray.) She thought I had to be in my church to pray, but I assured her that I would pray for her right away and that I didn’t need to be in a church to pray.

We are in an executive guest room with certain privileges. I don’t know why, except I do remember signing up for their Marriott card a few years ago but forgot about it. The annoying thing is that we paid for a meal, which when listed in Euros doesn’t look so bad but is a whole lot more expensive in American dollars. When I finally woke up after my nap and had our dinner I was reading about ‘executive guests’ and found out that we could have eaten cold and warm hors d’oeuvres and other things for free! Jim might not have been satisfied, but I can be quite happy with little snacks and such. We also get to go down for free dessert this evening if we want to. Gee, I feel quite pampered! Also, I have to say that the best part of any room is if the mattress is good—this has a nice, pillow-top mattress--ahhhh…I won’t be saying that during the two plus weeks we’re in Kenya.

Tomorrow we have to be up early in time to get our breakfast and bus ride back to the airport for our mid-morning flight to Nairobi. Our assignment this time is to train a new couple that recently arrived who will be the humanitarian country directors for Kenya and Tanzania. They wanted our guidance, and we just love telling people what to do who actually might listen...

Jim, 'reading' with his eyes closed at the London Marriott on our comfy bed.