Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July 2011 Trip: Team Updates

Our Team! Stephanie Riebe (Indiana), Wendy Fodstad (Indiana), Collyn Capp (D.C.)

Random pics from pre-school, Bible study, medical camp and one night at private home with masai guard complete with bow and arrow!

One more thing.....Wendy's luggage didn't arrive and we're hoping it will be delivered to the village today.  She has been an amazing sport about it all, and even said yesterday she really doesn't need anything more for the trip than she has in her little carry on- Lesson to all of us!

Friday, July 22, 2011

July 2011 Trip: Team Updates

From Steph, Wendy and Collyn-


Our morning began with Wendy, Collyn and Steph receiving a wake up call knock at the door from Lynn because we all missed our alarm clocks and overslept a bit. Our crew recovered and after a quick breakfast we headed back over to the Mercy Pre-School to take visors left over from Castleton UMC Bible School (Steph's home church).

The older students loved the visors and we loved the photo opportunity to take pictures of the sweet children in their owl hats and visors. Our team then had the opportunity to visit the Squatters Hill preschool and community. For Wendy, Steph & Collyn it was our first look at the reality of life in a slum. The children in the preschool were happy and joy filled.

We were so blessed to hear the songs they shared with us. It was really incredible to watch when one of the preschool workers took the leftover porridge mixture from the students' snack and shared it outside with the neighborhood children who weren't able to be in the pre-school. They came, running towards the preschool, with cups- many sharing with one another. Mama Nancy, one of the teachers of the preschool then took all of us on a tour of the Squatters Hill village. As we walked around, children seemed to come out of all kinds of corners of the community and were so happy to just hold our hands and walk with us. Mama Nancy explained that many of them were orphans and were living wherever they could within the community.

Our team then traveled to the public school, Kaimina, to visit the children sponsored by Lynn and other Aldersgate UMC members through Childcare World Wide. The time at the school was yet another blessing to our team as we were able to tour the school, meet the sponsor children and sit down and visit with the school administration and staff. We talked about things like differences in class size and how students were disciplined.

In the afternoon our team spent some more time in Lake Nakuru National Park on safari--we had a beautiful view at the overlook of the lake and captured some amazing views of rhinos & the birds of the lake. We headed over to a brand new guest house in Nakuru. Bill and Chat were gracious enough to open up their home to us even with only having moved in 8 days earlier. They were so welcoming and hospitable. We had a wonderful visit and stay in their home and had the opportunity to meet some girls from the United States who were in Africa. One of the highlights of our visit with Bill and Chat was meeting their Massai warrior who watches over their yard & property during the night. We had a photo op with him and it all seemed a little surreal when he held his bow and arrow in the photos. It was a very full day--but we were all so blessed by the people God allowed brought into our lives through the day's events.


Wednesday started with more creature comforts courtesy of Bill and Chat: Bacon and eggs, fresh fruit, coffee, and OJ! Then we packed up and headed to Ekerenyo on a road that twisted and turned with potholes that would put Indiana's to shame! We stopped in Kericho for a cup of tea at the Tea Hotel, an old english cottage.

We stopped at a supermarket for last minute supplies and then headed to the Amani Reading Center to set up a Health Clinic inside. We set up a pharmacy, lab, patient consultation rooms, and reading glass distribution area. It has been the mission of our team to partner with the Kenyans to organize the clinic, and this time we are working with ten local Kenyans who range from volunteers to trained medical professionals. After a day of set up, the clinic was ready for service!

Back to the Borabu where Lynn, Edwin, Wendy, Steph, and Collyn sorted pills for easy distribution in the pharmacy the next day!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July 2011 Trip: Team Updates


Monday morning we woke up early and after a breakfast of omelets and toast, Wendy got on a van with the team going to the Wesley Medical Clinic to have her first experience working in an Kenyan medical setting.

Collyn, Steph and Lynn followed winding dirt back roads to Alice's pre-school. Our mission was to deliver 60 little hats that Joyce Eskridge had knit for the children who she had met on our February trip. The children were so excited! We were invited to teach these swahili speaking kids for the whole day, but actually could only spend an hour. The needs at the pre-school are many but the top three are to have a wall built around the property, have electricity hooked up and have the dirt floor covered with concrete. We noticed that they only had little stubs of chalk for the "black" board.

Then on to the way to the United Methodist Mission Boarding School. Steph and Collyn taught three huge classes of children .... they sang, they taught Bible lessons based on Proverbs 3:5-6 and Isaiah 40:29-31 and were well received and appreciated. The head of the school was happy for the time spent with them. She said it was important that the children heard the Bible being reinforced by people from so far away. It confirmed what they were trying to teach at the school.

We picked up Wendy, who had been seeing patients with a Kenyan Clinical Officer. She learned what they do differently here.

After lunch, Wendy had some stomach problems and spent the day in bed, while the rest of us headed out for a safari at Lake Nakuru National Park. Collyn saw her first-EVER giraffe and we saw thousands of flamingos, pelicans and storks. God's natural world.....amazing!
All is well! More tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 2011 Trip: The First 4 days flew by!

The first 4 days in Kenya have passed quickly and we'll try to catch you up to date! The flights for Lynn, Collyn and Steph were smooth and we arrived in the Nairobi airport at 9 p.m. Saturday. Well, Wendy---- not so much!  Due to computer glitches at INDY!...she missed the flight from Indy to Chicago, missed by 20 minutes our flight from Chicago to London and then by 20 minutes the flight from London to Nairobi.

Blessing was that British Airways took care of her and got her on an overnight Kenya Airways flight, so she arrived at Nairobi at 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning, not knowing if we had any idea where she was.  We had kept up wth her flights, and our nice folks at Methodist Guest house picked her up, holding a big Wendy Fodstad sign.  All was well, and Wendy looked amazingly wide awake!

We went to church at Lavington United with the Magetos - Chrystal and Teddy continue to grow up into wonderful young people...Peter and Irene continue to be busy with work. Peter as Dean of a school at Daystar University, Irene teaching Nursing now thankfully in Nairobi.

After church which I always love there, filled with the hospitality and a cup of tea they offered, we went to a frozen yogurt shop for lunch. Chrystal's choice!  Then hugs goodbye and off to Nakuru we went, where we checked into the Flamingo Lodge.  Our teams have stayed there often and the staff remembered and welcomed us warmly.

To be continued......

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February 2011 Trip: Team Updates

Our Team! Joyce Eskridge, Elizabeth Korb, Lynn Renne, Fran Vix (all from Indiana)

Joyce, Elizabeth, Lynn, Fran and the wonderful team working with us at the Reading Centre -Susan, Len, Sarah, Edwin, Bill.

Plus those pictured here, there were many many people from Riakong'a Methodist Church, local nurses, lab technician, clinical officers, Peter Mageto and his brother Clement who helped this medical camp 'happen.'

Another trip is planned for July 15-29th this year - Think about joining us!

See you soon! Back home Friday afternoon.

February 2011 Trip: Wednesday in Naivasha

First, Elizabeth wants everyone to know that her sunburned feet (the ones you can see on the picture in the boat) are fine!

Today, our last full day in Kenya, was a lark!
We decided to take off to a nearby National Park, Hell's Gate, and bicycle 5 miles to the take off point for a hike down into a gorge formed by a volcano eruption of Mt. Longonot.

(What the picture on the bicycles doesn't show is our safari van with wonderful driver David Muteti following close behind to be of any help needed.)

The hike/rock descending down into the canyon and gorge was exhilarating, a little scary, very tiring and extremely awesome all at the same time.

Our 24 year old Masai guide was strong and helpful, getting us down and
back up safely. He told us he lives in a nearby Masai village, in a dung hut,
and runs to work at the park (no walking, biking or public transport.)
Tonight we're all packing up for our day in Nairobi tomorrow and arrival at the airport in the early evening.

God bless you all and thanks for sharing this adventure with us!
Lynn, Joyce, Fran and Elizabeth

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 2011 Trip: Tuesday in Naivasha

We made it safely from Masai Mara to Naivasha - a 5 hour trip made up of half bumpy, pot holed, dirt roads and half very nice black topped roads.

After lunch we were taken in a motor boat out on Lake Naivasha to Crescent Island where both Born Free and Out of Africa were filmed. Saw one of the giraffes from O. of A. that is still alive, and the house that the man who wrote Born Free lived, right on the island. The island has no predatory animals, so you can walk along with zebras, giraffes and other animals who live there safely and seem quite used to humans.

After being caught in an afternoon thunderstorm on the island we took the motor boat back and had some down time.

Fran left her room on the way to dinner, only to find a giraffe at her door, eating the flowers on the bush planted by the door.

Photo op!

After dinner when it's dark you have to be escorted from the main dining room to your 'cottage' by a guard with a club to protect you from the hippos that walk up on land after dark. Lynn heard one guard running down the sidewalk as she was going in her room, and he asked if she wanted to see a hippo that was just down the walk. She said she'd pass.

Speaking of dinner, Amanda and Alexa if you're reading this, the young man who is our waiter remembered us and also asked how you both are doing...remembering you by name!

More tomorrow, our last full day here in Kenya....

Monday, February 21, 2011

February 2011 Trip: Monday at Masai Mara

Jambo from the Masai Mara!

This is the 11th day of our trip, and thankfully no one has gotten sick.

Coming directly from the village to this lodge in Masai Mara, we are made immediately aware of the wide gulf between haves and have nots. We have heard that Kenya is working toward the development of a middle class, and hopefully that will be the case. But then, maybe the have nots really have... and the haves really...well, that's for another day.

Today we enjoyed the beauty of God's nature from the air and on the ground. Fran, Elizabeth and Lynn got up before dawn and went on a hot air balloon ride at sunrise. It was a peaceful way to view the animals and see the immense expanse of Masai Mara. The drive in our safari van was another great way to see God's amazing creatures.

Today was a perfect setting for taking a deep breath after the intensity of the 4 day medical camp, but we find ourselves talking about the people we left there, how we can plan for future trips, and recognizing the deep gulf that became obvious at our arrival here between the have nots and the haves... at least in financial terms. Kenya is trying to develop a middle class to try to bridge that gap. Hopefully that will be the case.

Tonight at dinner Fran was celebrated by kitchen and wait staff who came out playing guitar, singing and whistling "Jambo, Jambo Sana..." and "Happy Birthday" . They presented her with a cake lit with candles and saying "Happy Birthday, Fran" - she was surprised!

Tonight we're packing up for the drive tomorrow back up toward Nairobi where we will stay in Naivasha.Tomorrow morning we take off at 7 for the long and bumpy trek to Naivasha, which is only an hour away from Nairobi.

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement from the other side of the globe! It means alot.

February 2011 Trip: Medical Camp

Over 1600 people came through the gate during the 4 days the medical camp was held. People continued to express thankfulness that we were there. Many said to thank all of you in the U.S. who helped make this possible. and

It was sad to say goodbye this noon to our 4 friends from Virginia, North Carolina and Kenya (Susan and Len, Len's mom Sarah, Bill Coble and Edwin Oyugi) who made up the perfect team. The people who helped from Riakong'a Methodist Church were wonderful and the local medical folks who saw patients and prescribed medications were great!

We closed at noon today and as it turned out, all the people outside the gate with a ticket they had pre-purchased for 20 kenya shillings (25 cents) received medical care.

After closing up, inventoring and storing meds and supplies for the next trip we went up the hill to Peter and Clement's home where we were treated to a delicious meal of chicken, rice, chapati, fresh pineapple, mango, avocado, greens and plaintains (unsweet bananas) prepared by Peter's mom and sister Nancy.

We saw their amazing hillside garden from which the family made their living while their 9 children grew up and went to school. Coffee beans, pineapple, tea, etc. were grown and taken to a nearby village market.

(Note: besides Peter who has his doctorate, Clement is an engineer designing power plants with the help of the Japanese, and he has been trained in building solar panels. Other siblings include a school principal and a social worker, etc! )

We walked down the path to see the water system tanks - plans are to have water flow downhill to Riakong'a Methodist Church and then from there distributed efficiently to the community.

After reviewing the week with Peter and Clement, we said goodbye to them and were so happy about the 5 successful days here.

Tomorrow we head out of Nyamira and off to Masai Mara.

A view of the people waiting to enter the Medical Clinic
This is what we (and they) are hoping to prevent. This man saw his picture and held up his hand to his mouth when he realized he looked like this. But he still loved seeing his picture in the digital camera.

The people loved the toothbrushes. One of the helpers was taught to demonstrate the toothbrushing technique with the model jaw provided by Dr. Steve Buedel. She demonstrated all day long and never stopped smiling!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February 2011 Trip: Away we go to Masai Mara

Yes, the elephant is sitting on a dead tree trunk!

We closed the medical camp yesterday after seeing a total of 1600 people. Everyone who had bought a ticket for 20 Kenyan shillings was seen. The five days in Ekerenyo were considered a success and seemed to go quite quickly!
People were truly grateful.

To celebrate the success, we shared a meal prepared by Peter's mother and sister in their home just up the hill from the library. Clement, Peter's brother, showed us the family garden - inclusive of pineapple, tea, coffee, and greens. This is how their parents made a living while they raised and educated all 9 children. Clement also showed us the safe water tank built for the village use. The next dream for this project is to have the piping go from the safe water tanks down the hill to the Riakong'a church and from there be available to the community of about 500 homes.

Today we left Ekerenyo early in the morning to drive to Masai Mara. We had a quick picnic lunch after a bit of souvenier shopping along the way. We arrived safely here and were welcomed by several elephants. Elizabeth had said to David, "show me elephants!" and he certainly delivered. One mother elephant gave us quite a show and scratched all of her itchy bits - back, behind, neck - on a fallen over tree trunk for us to watch and take endless photos of. The moral of this story is that sometimes you just have to scratch that itch.

In our travels we have seen some interesting sights. Many people carry all sorts of items on their head. We have seen a few carrying piles of bananas and even some transporting bricks for building - imagine what it would look like to put a lifesize jenga game on your head - this is what the latter looked like. No wonder they all came to the clinic with pain in their necks and backs.

We stopped off to visit a Masai village and had a chance to talk with the people there. Lynn asked a question that had been asked of her (think Roger Garrett) after a sermon, regarding the cow dung used to build huts... the answer is that 'no it does not smell after a rain! Once it is dried in the sun the smell is gone for good.' There you have it, from the mouth of a Masai himself :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

February 2011 Trip: Highlights from Day 3 of the Medical Camp

Here are some highlights from Day 3 of the Medical Camp:

.... The children line the dirt road before and after school when we arrive and leave. Their smiles and cheers and waves are precious and uplifting!
Here they are holding their soccer ball made of paper and twine.

...Spoke too late last night...about being thankful for warm showers...
Lynn was washing her hair in the shower at 6:30 a.m. and with hair full of shampoo the water went off. Bad hair day.

...We were able to trade in four boxes of surplus medicine for others that were needed, especially more de-worming medicine. Thankful that the pharmacy took medicine that wasn't originally purchased there.
To seal the deal we were invited to buy the pharmacist lunch for 300 kenya shillings (about $3.50. ) We ran out again of the de-worming medicine. Note for next time - plan for alot more!

...Today we saw over 400 people, including a 103 year old who was carried in, and a young woman who pulled a back muscle plowing, and was doubled over in pain. She was given an injection and after a half hour stood up with a big smile and said "thank you, thank you" and walked home !

...The brother of one of our medical staff who grew up in the village and now is a pediatrician in the UK visited the medical camp today. He would like to keep in touch and help with our medical camp in 2012.

... This afternoon we were able to take a quick trip to a nearby tea factory where tea from local tea is cleaned, dried, sorted and packed. Interesting!

... Lots of members of Peter's family - cousins, uncles, sisters, mom and dad have visited the camp. Peter with his smile is obviously someone immensely respected in the village.

... We have LOVED working with Susan and Len Eastwood, Mama Sarah (Len's mother), Bill Coble, clinical officer Edwin Oyugi (going to medical school in Nairobi in September) and their driver Peter, along with our driver David Muteti. The drivers jumped right in and helped as members of the team.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February 2011 Trip: Three more nights at the Borabu!

The day started off at 8 a.m. with the local blacksmith coming to saw off the padlock of the Amani Reading Centre because the key had been misplaced.

The gate finally closed at 4 p.m. after 450 people had come through the clinic. In between times we gave out the rest of the reading glasses, toothbrushes and pencils! Thanks to all who donated - people were truly excited and grateful.

We've found that people make use of everything- we started to throw away the plastic pill containers, and one of our helpers asked if she could have them to put sugar and salt in.

Every child under the age of 18 received a de-worming pill. They chewed them like sweet tarts and were very excited to get a magic marker heart drawn on their hand and a sticker to show that they had received the medication. It will be effective for 3 months.

Elizabeth watched Edwin lance a pustule that was the size of the child's shoulder blade. She also saw a little 5 year old diagnosed with HIV after the clinical officer saw some of the symptoms (we tested for HIV in the lab)

The lab picked up a sky high blood sugar in a young woman, and our safari van driver took her to a nearby town where they could get insulin that should take care of her until we come back in July.

We have noticed more older people coming to the medical camp this year than last...maybe the word got around that we were able to treat their problems.

Back to the Borabu, where we're staying while we're working at the medical camp: It's a true village hotel with real Kenyan food.
We are grateful for flushing toilets and lukewarm running water, and the people couldn't be nicer! They are fixing up the place, and adding a kitchen, and said that one of the reasons they could do this is that we had so many people stay here last February.

Everyone is well, we're laughing alot, and we're up for tomorrow's activities!

Fran, Elizabeth, Joyce, Lynn

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February 2011 Trip: It still exists!

Jambo from Ekerenyo! We arrived yesterday at the reading center to set up for the medical clinic. Upon arrival we found out that over 900 people had pre-registered for the event in the form of little yellow tickets. A local pastor talked to us about our visit last year and that people had heard of the treatments we offered. Because of this, people from surrounding villages were also beginning their trek to the reading centre.

Today we had over 350 patients come through the clinic. The people were very excited about the reading glasses. Interestingly enough we had a few cases of chicken pox, several blind individuals, and man who needed to walk on his flip-flop covered hands and feet due to a congenital birth defect. We were both encouraged and saddened by their perseverance and joy as they came for treatment and encouragement.

Fun fact. Tongue depressors make great knives for spreading peanut butter and cutting bananas. Our lunch of choice while working at the clinic. Our friends serving with us call this meal the "Hotdog of Africa."

Tomorrow will be our 2nd of 4 days at the clinic. Please pray for our continued endurance as well as the discernment to know which cases and people need special love and attention.

Monday, February 14, 2011

February 2011 Trip: Happy Valentine's Day

Peter and his family after church services in Nairobi.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

We are writing this in Nakuru, after lunch, sitting on the open air patio - sunshine and 85 degrees.

The 24 hours of travel was surprisingly easy, and we haven't actually
suffered jet lag - still going strong!

Since arriving Saturday night, here is what we have done:
--We were met at the airport by a smiling and waving driver, David Muteti, who has been our driver for each of our trips.
--Spent the first night Methodist Guest House
--Sunday morning went to church service with Peter and family (just for the record, the 40 minute sermon began an hour into the service!) and then had lunch with the Magetos.
--Drove 3 hours to Nakuru and got in a quick game drive before the lodge gates closed at 6:30 sharp. Before dinner there was a program of traditional African dance,with Fran, Joyce and Lynn joining in the dance while Elizabeth documented the whole experience
--This morning we left the lodge at 6:30 a.m. for a game drive. Including last night we've seen zebras, a giraffe, 2 lions that crossed the road right in front of us, 15 rhinos, water buffalo, flamingos, pelicans, marobau stork, baboons, fish eagle.... we're hoping to see a leopard this afternoon
--After breakfast following the game drive, we took off for the Wesley Methodist Mission Clinic in time to see an emergency - a baby being driven to the local hospital. We toured the clinic, met Diane Hamrick and many of the team who Lynn had worked with there in 2009, and got ideas for improving our own medical camp at Ekerenyo.
--With the help of a local pastor we found Mercy Preschool, headed by a wonderful Christian woman - Alice - (we had visited her preschool in past years and helped her buy little chairs for the children to sit on at the tables) It is interesting to see her ministry expand to the formation of a women's co-op ... the women were meeting next door to the pre-school, spinning their own yarn from their own sheep and dying it. They then were learning to knit items to sell locally and hopefully internationally. They have built a chicken coop next door to that, and anticipaate the chickens arriving next week. They will sell the eggs and chickens, with the goal being that they will become self-sustaining women.
--We visited the United Methodist Mission Boarding School which has grown by leaps and bounds since we saw it last time. There is a big new dormitory with bunkbeds- the girls have recently moved in. They have a new school van. Current enrollment is 700 students! We found out that there is an opportunity to sponsor a child in the boarding school for a one year commitment. Let us know if you are interested!

Off to search for a leopard now - Muteti is waiting with the safari van! The adventure continues tomorrow as we head for Ekerenyo and the Amani Reading Centre, to set up for the Medical Camp.