Thursday, April 7, 2011

Monday afternoon, Man Eaters Lodge, Chyulu Hills, Kenya

April 4, 2011

Dear Family & Friends,                                                                       

We left our flat at with our one shared suitcase and another larger one filled with handouts.  Since the road has been repaired it was a pleasant journey of about four hours.  It is the rainy season and the land is green and beautiful right now.  It has been raining at night here in Nairobi and it rained after we arrived at the Man Eaters Lodge where we’ll be staying for a few days.

We made a few stops on our way to the lodge.  First we found the young Elders’ flat and discovered it was their P-day (preparation day) so they were home and in their casual clothes.  We dropped off a few of the donated white shirts so they could give them to new members or investigators.  They might also use them for baptisms.
One of many white shirt donations.  The Elders were having a P-Day so we caught them home.  The Elder on the right has a shirt that says ‘Hakuna Pesa’, which means ‘no money’ in Swahili. 

We visited the Branch President, Steven (don’t ask me to spell his last name), at the beautiful Darajani Chapel.  He is still trying hard to get his members off of the church and/or government food dole.  They have a very large shamba (garden) behind the chapel, which a few members use to grow vegetables in between the mango trees that they planted years ago when we were first here.  They are not very large trees because they cannot afford the fuel for the generator to pump the water to them, but they have begun to produce fruit nonetheless.  Their last crop had bugs so they couldn’t sell them for much.  Steven said that they are going to spray the trees next time so that the fruit will make a better profit.  We saw electrical lines in front of the church and asked Steven when they would finally get power.  He said it will take five months; we laughed because nothing ever happens in Africa when it is supposed to.  We gave a few white shirts to President Steven and he giggled when he saw the two children’s white shirts that came with ties. 

President Steven giggled when he saw these two little boy shirts with ties; at the Darajani Chapel in Chyulu Hills.

From there we visited the windmill pump, which is located at a school.  It has been having problems but apparently Ajay (Pass Africa) repaired it again, and it was working.  They still have those useless plastic taps on the wash stands, so we encouraged the schools to purchase a few brass taps so that they will be able to use the stands.  Very few people want to help themselves, so we were surprised and impressed on our visit to Kenya last year that one school replaced the plastic taps with brass ones.  Most Africans wait for someone to help them out instead of fixing it themselves and showing some ownership of what has been donated to them. 

We visited 6-toe George (yes, he really does have six toes), who works as a mechanic at the gas station in Mtito Andei.  We were anxious to inquire about his chicken project, assisted and begun by Elder & Sister Anderson over a year ago. They have six families participating in the project.  They buy day-old chicks, give them medicine and take good care of them so they don’t lose them.  In about six weeks they are ready to be slaughtered.  They put them in a freezer at the gas station, waiting to be shipped.  They have deals worked out with customers so that the demand is actually growing.  They began with 50 chicks and now they have worked up to 200.  They are making a profit to share among themselves, keeping half of the money back to re-invest in the project. It is working!  Something is working!   

There is another group of 15 that only made it through the first cycle—they took their profit and ran.  George is going to try to organize them into two groups because it is easier to keep control of things and get rid of anyone not willing to work.  George keeps trying.  I am excited to e-mail Elder Anderson to let him know that something thing he and his wife worked on for all those many months is supporting a few families!  George said it is not right to be on the dole and take money or food when you haven’t worked for it--another man who ‘gets it.’  Brother Anderson will also be proud of the fact that we saw several kitchen gardens (something else he encouraged while here).  Isn’t it great to know someone made a difference?

On our trip up and on our trip back, we see this all-to-common sight.

We’re settling in our not fancy but adequate tent waiting for the power (generator) to come on.  The power comes on early in the morning () and during the evening till .  The overhead fan keeps us from feeling like we are going to suffocate when we go to bed; luckily, by it is cool enough to let us sleep without it.  The Man Eater Lodge sports an amazing amount and huge variety of bugs.  We had to compete for our dinner with these little black creatures that landed on our food and liked to hang out in our tent.  We found a very big, ugly bug in our tent that could have been a spider or a beetle, but Jim said it squished more like a spider.

A typical meal here is an appetizer, soup, salad, dinner, and dessert, which is included in your room.  Water or soda is extra.  The food is usually pretty good, but the meals are usually more than I can eat—I start out big, and end up requesting less and less with each meal. 

We got back to our tent and I longed for a shower to wash off the sweat of the day.  It is hotter here than it is in Nairobi and very humid with the river right below us.  I know it takes a long time here for the water to get warm (it is solar heated) but after a while I began to complain that we didn’t have warm water.  Jim assured me that I was wrong.  He took the first cold shower and then I followed, grumbling.  At least the water was tepid and not as bad as many cold showers I’ve taken, but darn, this place is not cheap and we have to put up with massive amounts of bugs and then have to take a cold shower!  And we are out in the boonies so we won’t have Internet till we get back to the flat Thursday night.  Oh, well, suffering is good for the soul…

This is one of the few places I can sleep with a mosquito net because it is on a 4-poster bed and I don’t get claustrophobic.  So, off to bed I go, even if to just to get away from the bugs.

Love, Mom and Dad, E/S Greding, Jim & Karen

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