Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Coming home

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dear Family & Friends,

The powers that be have told the couples to stay put here at the flat so they are all enjoying an extra day off from their labors.  The cars of all the other residents in our apartment are gone meaning they all went to work.  Other than a few more sirens than normal, the streets sounded pretty calm today despite the rally.  The couples aren’t complaining though. 

Yesterday we had a great experience.  We go to church where the couples take us and yesterday they took us to Upper Hill Ward that meets in the church office building where they all go to work every day.  After Sacrament Meeting some White guy came over and said, “I know you but you don’t know me.  I’m Rachel Rackham’s husband.”  Then it hit me, Margaret Rackham had e-mailed me saying that their son-in-law, John Westhoff, was going to be in Kenya.  It never occurred to me that we’d actually run into him.

A surprise meeting: John Westhoff, husband to Rachel Rackham, at church on Sunday in Nairobi.  The church and office building behind us.

After church we invited him over for dinner, such as it was, using up anything I had on hand and could find in the cupboards.  We had a wonderful visit, us learning about his family and his work, and he asking questions about living here in Nairobi.  He will be here a month and is scouting out the living conditions if his family is to join him here.  He told us about his one-year service in Iraq.  He is in the medical field and is in the Army.  Growing up as a military brat he has lived all over the place, and now his family of wife and five children have moved around a great deal too. 

I decided since we had company that I ought to cook the ½ cake mix I found in the cupboard.  Having no oil for the cake I put in butter.  I baked it in a loaf pan in the little electric ‘Suzy Bake Oven’ that I had no idea how to use.  The oven temps were in metric so I hadn’t a clue what the temperature really was.  There was an oven thermometer so I thought that would help.  I heated it up, put the cake in but it didn’t bake so I kept turning up the temperature.  Surprisingly the cake turned out okay and didn’t seem to be too over or under cooked. 

That’s when I realized that I had no powdered sugar for icing.  I looked on the Internet for other types of icing, but ended up looking in my cupboards for substitutes that might work.  I am not used to being an experimental cook and I would never do this unless necessary (don’t try this at home).  I took some Ovaltine (the only thing resembling chocolate in the flat), put in a little butter, vanilla and canned milk and put it in the microwave.  I poured it over the hot cake.  Hey, it tasted okay!  So we had warm chocolate cake and it was good!  I’m feeling the latent chef in me that I didn’t know was there…

John decided to walk home just before dark.  Jim called him later to see if he made it okay.  He said he missed a turn and walked an extra mile, but that he needed the exercise.  John is here doing some Nile Fever study, at least I think that’s what he said.  After dinner we loaded John up with stuff so that he could find his way around Nairobi.  He is going to try and learn Kiswahili while here so Jim gave him some of our old flash cards.  As for my Swahili, it did seem to come back after being here a week.  My old brain seems to find it in there somewhere.

The weather in Nairobi really is ideal.  Kenya is heading towards ‘winter’ now as we head for summertime at home.  It feels a bit like spring.  It is beginning to rain more at night now, but the sun is up during the day.  It is breezy and lovely, partly cloudy, beautiful, perfect temperature.

We delivered the last of Emily Sullivan’s white shirts that we brought to the AP’s.  They were just going into the office so they can add them to their stores for missionaries lacking in a lot of clothes to wear.  Local missionaries often show up with one white shirt, hardly adequate for a mission.

The best part about today is that we are finished with some important contract negotiations—signed, sealed and delivered—with one of our contractors.  This has been a standing problem and Jim probably is the only one who could pull it off—at least no one else has been able to do it after months of trying.  We are relieved.  We also completed three more reports. 

Tomorrow Jim needs to visit people in the office while I stay here and wash the sheets and towels, clean a little bit, and pack.  Two long flights, some driving, some waiting, and we’ll be home.  Why does just a two and a half week trip seem like we’ve lived here for a really long time?

Saying goodbye to Nairobi and our view from our apartment window.  The tree with violet flowers has yellow blossoms part of the year. The violet flowers come from a bougainvillea bush crawling up into the tree.  Not a bad view to wake up to in the morning. 

The power is off and on again this morning.  The Internet is not working at all today so I might be sending this from home.  If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to do the wash and cook dinner before we leave.  I was just grateful that I was able to blow dry my hair before this long trip home!  I finished one load of wash and got brave and put another in.  The power went off.  I panicked, took the soapy wash and hung it out to dry.  The power went back on.  I put it back in the washer and it finished.  The power went off.  I hung it out to dry again.  I think I want to go home now…

Years ago right before we finished our mission there was no water here at the flats.  This continued for a couple of weeks as we welcomed the new couple taking our place.  They were pretty good sports as we greeted them saying, ‘Welcome to Kenya; we don’t have any water!”  I was visiting with the office couple and asked them if they had had any trouble with water shortages and they said that they didn’t have water for over six weeks!  The water was available to lower apartments or on the other side of the complex.  After they got their water bill (they had to pay for what they didn’t get) they were so mad they began looking at other apartments, but they are still here.  They still experience three-day power outages. 

It must be time to go home--always an adventure in Kenya.

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