Category Archives: Uncategorized

The circle of life

Hello again! I only have a few more weeks here in Kenya so I want to update you on the latest. A few days ago, we delivered a sweet little baby boy at the clinic. Even though  I did not get to name the newborn this time, it was wonderul just to be a part of the delivery process again. But what was really quite incredible was handing the little boy off to the grandmother and seeing her face beam with joy and hearing her praise the Lord for His blessings!

That’s not all the excitement we have had at the clinic… A few days ago, the clinic receptionist came back from matenity leave. On the morning before she was to return, I got wind of some exciting news… We were going to have chicken for lunch!!! In honor of our receptionist returning!  Leah, the women who was preparing the chicken did not want to kill it, so she called the Doctor, James over. The process was intricate and lengthy, but very worth it according to those who partook in the delicacy. The pictures I have attached are slightly graphic, but very  interesting if you have never seen the way the locals prepare their lunch. Or if you are a vegetarian, like me!

 

Below is a video of James explaining which part of the chicken is given to which family member. (Thighs to the men, shoulder to the women, and legs, intestines, and head to the children) Pardon the cow bells!  🙂

Well that is all for now! It’s Friday night here, and I just spoke to my mom on the phone! My aunt Linda, a friend, and my mom all arrived in Nairobi this afternoon, and will be arriving into camp tomorrow! Exciting things to come! 🙂

Education day

Hi there! It’s me again! I want to tell you about my day in Lolgorian, a town about 30 minutes from camp. My story really starts out about a week ago when the Principal of the Oloosinon Primary School (the school right next to the clinic) asked me if I would like to join the school on their Education day. The conversation went something like this…

Nelson –  “Hey Krista, would you like to join us for Education Day?

Krista –  ” I would love to!!!”

Nelson –  “Oh perfect. Now we will roll in with style!”

After that sweet conversation, we made arrangements for the big day. I was pretty excited about the events to come so when the day came, I headed to the school.  When I got there, there were 30 little African faces peering out of a school bus very excited to see that a mzungu (white person) would be joining them! I climbed on the bus and we were off!  About 2 minutes into our drive, one brave child bursts out into song… and within seconds, all the children on the bus were singing their hearts out! the drive went by so quickly, and before I knew it, we had arrived.

When we first arrived, the host school was not quite prepared, so the teachers whisked me away to find some chai and Maandazi (fried sweet dough). While I was drinking my chai and dipping pieces of Maandazi into the chai, I saw one of the teachers looking at me, puzzled.  He said, “Here we do not dip, we bite”. And then, he took a huge bit of the maandazi cake and an equally  big swig of chai and then smiled.

Once we had all finished our sweet treats, we headed to the counter to pay. As I walked up, I was thinking how delicious everything was and I was just so content. Not a worry in the world as to what I had just eaten.  Then I saw this cupboard… I have never seen sweet treats jammed into a window like these were. And there was some kind of gooey condensation on the inside of the glass… I wondered what that could be from, and then… I just decided  not wonder too hard!

From there, I met up with the children, and they led me all around town. The locals gave us a tour of the gold gathering area. We saw workers smashing rocks, taking rocks to the “crasher” and then washing out the dirt with mercury to attract the gold. The process was lengthy, and I can’t imagine how hard the people have to work to produce even a small amount of gold.  It was interesting to see the process, but a little sad as well. After the tour, we went to the supermarket for some real fun. I followed the kids right through the supermarket and up the stairs to where the building was under construction. The children were all scared of the height and bats that flew around. They kept asking me, “Do you fear do you fear?”  Surprisingly, none of the kids got hurt diving away from the bats!

SONY DSCBy this time, lunch was being served at the school. After we ate, the ceremony began! It started with the raising of the Kenyan flag and prayer. Then came the entertainment! The children danced, and recited poetry and even marched around in unison.

Here is a video of one of the star performances!

The day was not over, in fact the ceremony had just begun! After all the entertainment, we had about 3 hours of speeches from a few guests. Once the speeches had been delivered, they started the awards. They presented teachers with tea flasks, blankets, clay mugs, and even livestock! They hooted and howled and it was such a joyous occasion. Even though I couldn’t understand the speeches and most of what was going on, I felt happy inside, and couldn’t help having a smile on my face the whole time.

SONY DSCWe mingled a bit after the awards were given, and during that time, a teacher from another school came up to greet Nelson and I. He asked Nelson if I was a part of the Oloosinon Primary School and Nelson proudly answered that I was. The teacher paused for a brief moment and then said, “Oh, I have got to get someone like you to be a part of our school”.  Are you starting to see why it feels good to be with these people and why I love them so much? They think I bring style to the group!!! 🙂

Anyways, by the time the awards were given out, it was 7 p.m. and getting dark fast. So all the kids loaded up, and we headed home. All the children are now on “Holiday” and will not be back in school until May 5th! It was quite sad to say goodbye, but they wished me a “nice Holiday” in their sweet little voices and I couldn’t help but smile!

I’ve had such a good time getting to know the children and I feel so blessed to have been able to spend this time with them.

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Smile today! Because this little guys is    smiling right at YOU!  🙂 🙂 🙂

When it rains it Pours!

It’s me again, and I’m reporting once again live from Kenya! The past couple of months have been hot and dry. Now, I thought this was the normal weather for Kenya, but I was informed that we were in a severe drought. The cows started getting skinny and I was told that people all over Kenya were praying for rain. I too joined in with those prayers. I need to stop my story here, and remind you that there is a lot of power in prayer and that you should not underestimate it. God answered our prayers and the rain came!

In previous months, I would ride to the clinic in just a short sleeved t-shirt even though all the other riders wore heavy jackets and hats. One day, the principal of the school told me I should start wearing a coat when I ride to the clinic because I might catch Pneumonia. I busted out with the hardiest laugh and was about to high five him for making such a good joke when… I turned and looked at Francis who was trying to give me the eye signal to inform me that he wasn’t joking at all. Apparently, it’s a common belief here, that if you ride your motorcycle without a heavy jacket, you WILL catch Pneumonia. Francis told me stories of people coming into the clinic who had a cough for two years and knew exactly why – because they biked one day without their jacket! This is serious stuff and not to be joked about… Or so I have been told.

Now back to the rainy season. A couple of days ago, I was at the clinic wrapping it up for the day when I saw the dark clouds rolling in. I was supposed to bring someone from the clinic to the camp and I didn’t want to be sliding around with a passenger, so we left in a hurry! About 5 minutes into our ride, it starts pouring. The roads I drive on are not too bad, but you do have to watch out for loose rocks. So here I am, driving a motorbike in the rain for the first time ever, with a 200 pound guy on the back of my bike, probably holding on for dear life! We slipped and slid our way all the way to camp but finally made it safely. I’m sure he was terrified given that I was pretty frightened myself. After we had gotten hot drinks and warmed up a bit I asked him if he had had enough of a scare for one day… His reply was, “Umm you could say that”. I’ve heard it takes a lot of talent and skill to scare the locals at something they do everyday. It looks like I have an abundance of that talent.

When it rains, it pours...

When it rains, it pours…

You would probably think that I learned my lesson, and departed as soon as I saw  the dark clouds rolling in the next day, right? Well the clinic was busy, and before I knew it, it was raining! No… It was POURING. If I waited for the rain to slow down the roads would be too wet and slippery… So I left the clinic in the down pour.

I was drenched instantly. I no longer worried about the loose rocks because they had probably all washed away in the severe rainstorm. The temperature had dropped and of course I forgot to bring my jacket. I started to think that maybe pneumonia wasn’t such a joke after all. I rode slow enough to keep from slipping, yet fast enough to keep from tipping. The rain came down so hard that it stung as it hit my arms. I couldn’t see with my sunglasses because it was too dark, and I couldn’t ride with my eyes open because the rain was so heavy. So I drove with one eye squeezed shut and the other eye just open enough to see where I was going. I started getting so cold I was shaking which is not helpful when you are trying to keep a bike steady on slippery roads! I thought I was going to slip at any given moment. Then… I saw this huge truck coming towards me. The roads aren’t that wide so I slowed way down and waited for him to pass me. Don’t worry, he was kind enough to not slow down and drench me from head to toe in muddy water.

But I made it to camp safely, and I was so, so thankful! It took hours to warm up and I think my clothes still haven’t dried 3 days later. So far I don’t have pneumonia, although I realize it could take two years for me to get it.  There were probably numerous times where my guardian angels had to step in and help me out, and I am so thankful for that.

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How about I keep an eye on the screwdriver and you keep an eye on the road? double click to appreciate the photo.

Even after all that, I find that I would always prefer to drive rather than be the passenger. My bike had a flat the other day and so I got a local to give me a ride back to camp for 150 shillings ($1.60). The swerving back and forth wouldn’t have even bothered me too much–If he was looking at the road while he was swerving. He spent most of the drive looking down at his screwdriver that was jammed into the bike to be used as a shifter. The screwdriver fell out about every 5 minutes and we had to stop, run back, pick it up, and jam it back in. And about every 2 minutes I had to loosen my grip on the seat because I was losing circulation in my fingertips. Such fun adventures! 🙂

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Fill’er up, Kenyan style!

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You would think my mom has been here- these kids sure know how to smile for the camera!

We ran out of gas about 10 minutes from camp and while he got fuel, I hung out with the kids that always wave to me when I bike by. These children make me feel like a celebrity. Even though they have so little, they give so much with those big smiles of theirs. It’s enough to make you forget all about the rain, scary bike rides, and flat tires.

That’s all for now! I want to encourage you to come to God with your worries and He will come through for you! He will rain down solutions and He will never fail to take care of you. If you are in a scary situation, just cry out to Him, I guarantee He is listening and eager to help!

A glimpse of what I have seen

Today’s blog is a taste of Africa;  I’ve selected a few pictures that will give you an idea of things I see on a daily basis. I hope you enjoy Africa from afar as much as I have enjoyed living here for the past 2 months!  To see the pictures better, click on each one and they will enlarge and show up clearer.

p.s. I am including some Safari drive pictures. I don’t want you getting the idea that I have the privilege of hanging out with lions and leopards on a daily basis (although they are pretty much in my back yard!)

This boy doesn't say much, but maybe that's because he is too busy taking care of his family's livestock. Even though he's little, I saw him whip those cows to move where he wanted them to go.

This boy doesn’t say much, but maybe that’s because he is too busy taking care of his family’s livestock. Even though he’s little, I saw him whip those cows to move where he wanted them to go.

This picture is to show you the size of the boy compared to the cows he's herding.

Take a look at  the size of the boy compared to the cows he’s herding!

The Oloosinon Primary School cook.

The Oloosinon Primary School cook. What a beautiful smile!

The kid LOVE it when you take pictures of them! The outgoing ones will pose for the camera, and then run up to you to see the photos.

The kids LOVE it when you take pictures of them! The outgoing ones will pose for the camera, and then run up to you to see the photos.

Pure beauty.

Pure beauty.

This young man came in with a 3rd degree burn from his foot to almost his knee! He had a suizure near the fire... And waited 3 days to come in. Please keep him in your prayers!

This young man came in with a 3rd degree burn from his foot up to almost his knee! He had a suizure near the fire… And waited 3 days to come in. Please keep him in your prayers!

Evening walks with zebra, giraffe, and cute little babies makes the day end right!

Evening walks with zebra, giraffe, and cute little babies makes the day end right!

The beautiful Mara West.

What a treat to enjoy the simple beautiful expanse of The Mara West.

You should order what you want... But eat what you get!

You should order what you want… But eat what you get!

Some people say I'm bad to the bone...

Some people say I’m bad to the bone…

Just another African sunrise! :)

Just another African sunrise! 🙂

We are currently in a terrible drought and this is the last of the water. If rain doesn't come quickly, my dowry will start dying...

We are currently in a terrible drought and this is the last of the water. If rain doesn’t come quickly, my dowry will start dying…

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One night I woke up having to pee really bad. The ‘bathroom’ is a ways from my hut, so I figured I could just squat outside my hut. I was staring up at the sky thinking “I get to pee in this wide open African sky under the beautiful stars!” when I suddenly heard the roar of a lion. Although I could tell it was a little ways away, I still wasted no time in running back into my hut and the safety of my bed.

I think we scared this poor guy...

I think we scared this poor guy…

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What a good audience to have when you break down in the middle of the mara…

Maybe next time I'll see the fastest animal in action!

Maybe next time I’ll see the fastest animal alive  in action!

After searching for hours, we finally found the mama cheetah and her four babies! They literally looked hand painted by God.

After searching for hours, we finally found the mama cheetah and her four babies! They literally looked hand painted by God.

God is SO good! He placed this leopard right in our path on the way back to camp! We were close enough to see his big fat belly move with every breath.

God is SO good! He placed this leopard right in our path on the way back to camp! We were close enough to see his big fat belly move with every breath.

I hope the pictures helped you visualize the beauty I see regularly! Thank you all for your prayers and messages! 🙂

A new Brendon is born!

It’s me again, reporting the latest from Kenya! First of all, I am REALLY enjoying my time at the clinic. Second of all, I have experienced some super fun things. It’s quite interesting how different the Maasai culture is from life in America. For example, a few days ago, this local Maasai woman brought in a baby for immunizations. The baby’s clothes were dirty and when I unwrapped her, she was sitting in a poopy cloth diaper. Her skin was peeling and she just looked slightly neglected. When I inquired about her home life, I was told that the woman who brought the baby in was not her mother. Now let me interject and let you know that Polygamy is very prevalent here, and not looked down upon at all. So back to my story. This woman explained that the little one was not hers and that she was bringing it in for her husband’s other wife. I was blown away. I couldn’t imagine taking care of my husband’s other wife’s baby… And I never say no to taking care of babies! 🙂 I was also told that when the husband is away on business, all the women hang out and spend time together. I was shocked, yet this was so normal to the nurses and locals. They found it odd that I was so surprised at this information.

Another interesting thing about the clinic is that we spend a decent amout of time every day shooing sheep and cows away from the clinic and our drying maize. The clinic ladies lay fresh maize out on tarps to dry in the sun, and the livestock come to eat the maize. It’s not a big deal that they nibble away at the maize until you sit down over a bowl of githeri (maize and beans) and think about where that meal has been. So that is why I spend so much time herding livestock!

SONY DSCNow for the most exciting part of this blog… I got to help with a delivery!! A few days ago we had a pregnant woman come into the clinic who had a fairly high blood pressure. She was due to deliver, so we admitted her into our Maternity ward. We intermittently checked on her throughout the day and by evening she was fully dilated. I was beyond excited because this was the first delivery at the clinic since I have been here and I have been really wanting to see/help with a delivery!

Just as we were getting everything in place, the power shut off. Lighting was very limited because our lanterns are in the process of being fixed. But that baby was going to come out whether there was electricity or not! As her labor progressed we held flashlights, and prepared to deliver in the dark. The power came back on just in time, and the delivery went very smoothly! As the baby got cleaned off and the mother got sutured up we tried to keep up a conversation with the her. Maasai women generally don’t show or verbalize emotion and pain and so we wanted to keep her talking so that we could monitor how she was doing and how she handled the delivery.

During the conversation, I asked if she had chosen a name for her precious little baby boy. She said she hadn’t, and that I could name the baby for her! How crazy is that?! And so I named the baby Brendon. After my very incredible future husband of course! 🙂 Then, the Dr. and her joked around about how I could wait to marry this new Brendon instead, and that she would give me a good dowry once the time came to marry him off! I had to refuse the offer but I felt very honored to be able to name her child. I didn’t think I would be naming babies for quite some time! 🙂

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A 20 cow wife

Hello again! Life here in Africa has been beyond incredible! Between helping out at the clinic, and hanging out with the local school kids, I have stayed quite busy! Today, I will enlighten you with a short story about an interaction I had with one of our patients the other day.

Just getting friendly with my dowry I . (Press on photo to see larger version.)

Just getting friendly with my dowry I . (Press on photo to see larger version.)

This was an unusual day at the clinic in the fact that we had several mothers waiting for vaccinations for their babies and we had run out vaccines. Nashipai, one of the clinic nurses, went to pick up more and since I had just finished lunch I went to socialize with the patients. As I walked into the clinic, this young man introduced himself and Immediately asked me if I cooked lunch and more importantly, if I knew how to cook. I told him that I helped with lunch and that I actually do know how to cook! As soon as I said that, he invited me to sit down next to him and proposed quite an interesting arrangement.

Just getting friendly with my dowry II. (Press on photo to see larger version.)

Just getting friendly with my dowry II. (Press on photo to see larger version.)

He told me that I should marry his brother! He explained to me that his family would pay my family with cows and that we would be very happy together. He then asked me a series of questions consisting of where I am from, if I have an education, and how far have I been educated. I answered his questions and he took a moment of silence to calculate how much I am worth in cows. To give you a small background, I was talking to a local Maasai women a few weeks ago and I asked her about wedding customs and she told me that the groom’s family will give the bride’s family cows as a payment for the bride. She informed me that the minimal amount a family would offer would be six cows, and the maximum amount reaching twenty cows. So to continue with my story, here I am, waiting for the calculation to be completed to see what he was going to offer me on the behalf of his brother. (Don’t worry Brendon, I was never going to agree no matter how many cows he offered my mom and dad!)

Just getting friendly with my dowry III. (Press on photo to see larger version.)

Just getting friendly with my dowry III. (Press on photo to see larger version.)

After factoring in that I could cook for his brother, I was from another country, AND I have a college education he offered me 20 cows! He told me that he would bring his brother to meet me and we could get married! Now this is where I told him that I was already engaged to someone and that I couldn’t marry his brother. He looked slightly disappointed but then immediately asked if Brendon was a Doctor. When I told him he was going to be a Phyical Therapist he tried to look happy for me! 🙂 By this time, the immunizations had arrived and his cute little baby was taken care of. As he said goodbye, he insisted that he would bring his brother to meet me and instructed that I not marry anyone else before that! The interactions I’ve had in Africa have definitely been incredible, interesting and entertaining. 🙂

P.S. I did not accept the offer nor any cows. It’s not hard to find a herd of cows to take pictures with around here!

Life on the Mara

Jambo! Habari yako? Nili ona pundamlia leo. Pia nika ona tiwiga.

Oh! Hello there! I am so sorry, I didn’t even realize I was going off in Swahili. (not really sorry though!) Now that I have been in Africa for over a month I am practically fluent! Ok, you got me, I am learning swahili but I also have a little cheat sheet here by my computer which enabled me to write out that sentence correctly. 🙂

I flew into Nairobi Kenya almost two weeks ago. I met up with Francis and Andrew Aho (they are the owners of the Mara West camp) and we fired up the land cruiser ready for our trip to my new home for the next 3 1/2 months.  There were some very exciting things I saw along the way. I saw a building that had been cut in half because there was a road needing to be built and the building was simply in the way, so they chopped right in half! We Initially didn’t see much wildlife, but as we got farther and farther away from Nairobi, the animals started appearing. First, we saw tons of baboons on the side of the road. Then we turned on to this very bumpy dirt road and I saw hundreds of gazelles and zebras! When you have such beauty to look at through the window, a jolting six hour car ride isn’t really so bad.

PSX_20150228_092528We finally arrived just as a major thunder and lightening storm did too. I was shown where my new home was, and we took cover! It’s certainly different than any other home I’ve lived in, and I love it!

The following days consisted of a tour of the Africa Mission Services Clinic where I am working and the local school. I also received my first motorbike riding lessons. Francis showed me the important things and PSX_20150223_102342I practiced for about 15 minutes and then  took off to the clinic for my first day! The 15-20 minute ride is absolutely spectacular. There is something amazing about riding on a dirt road with zebras, giraffe or just cattle lining the edges of the road. People wave and shout a hardy “Jambo!” and children jump up and down when they see you. Now, the roads are fairly rocky, but I have heard there has been a huge improvement over the months. However, the biggest obstacle I have faced are the cattle that like to travel on across the road. I sometimes wonder if the cows see me coming and are like “Here comes Krista. You’re up Bessy… block the road so she has to slow down and weave around us. Maybe we’ll see her spill today”. Anyhow, The ride is always amazing and there have been no spills yet!

SONY DSCNow let me tell you about the clinic I am working at. Mondays and Thursdays are our immunization day so we have tons of mamas and their babies coming in. We give shots, assess newborns, analyze blood and assess women’s pregnancies, in addition to anyone who comes in because they are not feeling well. Those are the busier days, and on the other days we see just the sick people! 🙂

 

SONY DSCI love immunization day because there are always tons of babies around. But one must be careful when holding these babies. I found that out the hard way… One day, I was waiting for the nurse to come back to discuss test results with the mother when I saw the cutest, chunkiest little baby in her arms. The baby was wearing a full blown snowsuit and I couldn’t help but ask her if I could hold her little eskimo. So I am cooing and making faces at this baby, and she is laughing and we are just having the greatest time when I suddenly feel like I’d peed myself. So I lifted up the baby and I saw a steady stream of fluid that my scrub pants quickly absorbed. That is the day I learned that the Maasai women over dress their children with every article of clothing possible, except diapers.

SONY DSCOn the non baby days the clinic can get a little slow, so I walk up to the school to spend time with the kids! Currently, I am helping Francis with her sponsorship program. Some of these children come from very poor homes where their parents cannot afford education and would not be able to go to school if it wasn’t for a kind person with a giving a gracious heart. Since the sponsors have been so compassionate, Francis likes to make sure they receive something in return. So I have been going to the school to help the kids write letters to their sponsors. It was incredible to see the children take time to carefully write thank you’s. They spent over an hour with their letters so that their words and drawings came out perfect!

IMG_20150228_102846458While I was helping the younger children, it was more difficult to communicate. I would smile and ask them a question, and they would smile and hide their face. So I walked over to this sweet little girl and tried to make conversation. I looked at her drawing, and had the translator ask if she was drawing a cow. The translator relayed the message and the girl giggled and hid her face. I asked the translator why she was hiding her face, and he told me it was because she was drawing a girl, not a cow. Oops! So clearly I am off to a very good start with these children. Also, for the record, I asked before she had clothing! The purple skirt really brings it together. So now you can be the judge… girl or cow? Either way, she worked very hard on it and I know her sponsor will love it! After that, they sang “Jesus Love is a bubblin’ over” and it really made my day! I look forward to spending much more quality time with them. 🙂

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If you look closely on the giraffe’s back and bottom, you will see three Red-billed ox peckers kindly eating the ticks off their friend.

In closing, my time so far has been absolutely amazing. The camp I am staying at is wonderful and I am fed very well. Everyone I have met has been friendly and beyond welcoming. I am so excited to meet more kind faces and learn more about the Maasai culture!

Is anybody wondering what I wrote in Swahili in the first sentence? I said, “Hello! How are you? I saw a zebra today. And I saw a giraffe also” Simple, but all true! 🙂

Exciting things all around

Hello again! The time has come for me to move on from Cradle of Love Baby Home and fly out to Kenya! I am very sad to be leaving here tomorrow afternoon, but also excited to see what else God has in store for me. So far, I have seen some truly incredible things!

Her smile is contagious!(Click to enlarge photo)

Her smile is contagious! you’re smiling now, right? 🙂

Let me start out by telling you “the rest if the story”. You might remember I introduced you to Rachel last time I posted. She is the cutie on the right. Rachel’s mother died of HIV and her father was too poor to raise his own daughter. He was moving around trying to find work to provide food and shelter for his own survival. He could not possibly give Rachel the nutrition and care she needed. Rachel was tested for HIV and came to Cradle of Love as an HIV+ baby. They welcomed her with open arms! She was given much love and even more food. (Did you see the size of her chubby cheeks?) With time, she became healthy and very well adjusted to life at her new home. I fell in love with her the minute I laid eyes on her beautiful face. She would smile at me when I walked in the room and giggled whenever I made silly faces! She seemed perfect.

One day, the director asked me if I would like to go to Rachel’s doctors appointment with the social worker. She needed to see an HIV specialist and she was a bit overdue. So we made the trek into town, via the dala dala (The local transportation – a van that should hold only 10 people that is usually packed with 20 people and continually picking up more people along the way). We arrived at her appointment and after waiting a short time, we were called in. I didn’t catch much of what happened next because I’m not quite fluent in Swahili yet, but the Dr. assessed Rachel and sent us to pick up her HIV medication. After that, we were instructed on the side effects of the medication and then the nurse tested her blood and walked out of the room. We waited for 10 minutes to see what the test strip would indicate. And it came back negative! How could that be? The social worker was absolutely beside herself. She kept saying that God touched her! God touched Rachel! So we prayed for her right then and there. We prayed that her result was not just a false negative, and that God would heal her forever. The nurse came back, took one surprised look at the test strip, and walked out again. She came back with another strip. The moment of truth… Did God truly free Rachel of HIV? Those 10 minutes seemed to drag by. Finally, we looked again… and it… was… negative!!!! She doesn’t have HIV! Can you believe it? This little bundle of joy could go on living her normal, sweet little life. They instructed us to return in a month for some eye therapy but little rachel was free of HIV! I knew I had to share her story because it shows the incredible power of the God I am serving! A true miracle.

This is the look that lady gave us when she saw that the test result was negative.

This is the look the nurse gave us when she saw that the test result was negative.

SONY DSCNow everything else I write will pale in comparison to Rachel’s miracle. However, I will tell you a little more about Cradle of Love! The way they handle all these crazy, but cute munchkins, is by splitting them up into 4 separate groups of 7 or 8. We have the nursery, the crawlers, the wobblers, and the toddlers. My favorite group has to be the crawlers! They are all about 7 months to a year old and just too much fun. They are learning how to stand, clap, walk, fight, talk, and laugh. Their favorite song is “If you’re happy and you know it” and they want to be held more than anything else! They slobber on you like it’s going out of style, and sometimes they just want to snuggle. Some wine when it’s koolala (nap) time and can only be soothed by my melodious voice! 😉

IMG_20150202_054225649The other super fun group is the nursery! Bath time, food time, changing time, play time, snuggle time. repeat. The tough part about the nursery is that they all start feeling the same emotions at roughly the same time. For instance, food time. All 7 babies start getting hungry at the same time and there are usually only 2 or 3 of us there to feed them. That means a couple of babies are happy, and a lot more babies are unhappy! Changing time is rough too ’cause the two ladies are changing the babies and I’m stuck with the stinkers! 🙂 At one point, we had so many crying babies, I attempted to keep them all happy. First, I sat down. Then, I started out by putting a baby in each arm. I then laid one on my legs, held the hand of one more, and rocked one with my foot all while singing to them! Such wonderful times and memories!

(Click photo to see the monkeys in action)

(Click photo to see the monkeys in action)

Now the kids are not the only creatures we have around here. We also have monkeys! One day, I was headed to hangout with the babies, when I saw what seemed like hundreds of monkeys. I was not in a zoo, park or animal reserve; they were in my backyard! I immediately grabbed my camera and started going crazy. It was fascinating. Monkeys flying from branch to branch. Mothers carrying their babies. Alpha monkey trying to show dominance. Scavengers eating from the compost pile. I could not have enjoyed it more. I hope you can share in the excitement a bit!

Well it is getting late, and tomorrow is a full day. I must say goodbye to all these little beauties, and be off to the Mara West. Next stop, Kenya!

P.s. Here is a picture of my Valentines date this year! Isn’t he cute? 🙂

Richard + Krista = True Love

Richard + Krista = True Love

Babies need a little extra love.

(Click to watch a video of Freda)

Cradle of Love Baby Home

After leaving the village of Chome, we all went our separate ways. Some went to the airport to go home, some went onto a safari, and I came to the Cradle of Love baby home. As soon as I got my things settled in, I went to help put the babies to sleep. One of the babies didn’t want to go to sleep so I just rocked her in my arms until she got sleepy, then I laid her in her crib. Peaceful silence as I walked away, and then… brutal screaming! Regardless of that, I fell in love with these babies the minute I laid eyes on them! They are all smiles (most of the time), and they don’t hesitate to send you a grin. I am attaching pictures so that you too may see the beauty they have. But be careful, your heart WILL melt.

SONY DSCNow let me tell you a little about Cradle of Love baby home. Their mission is to provide love, care, and nutrition for babies that have been abandoned. They also provide care for babies that they know will not receive adequate nutrition at home. They generally care for these young ones for a couple of years until either the child gets adopted, or the child can go back to their home. Some of these children were born to very poor homes. Their parents couldn’t afford to feed them expensive formula. That’s where Cradle of Love steps in. They nurture the children until the children can tolerate solid foods, go potty on their own, and be able to feed themselves. This way, when the child goes back home they are not as dependent on their parents and they’re able to survive at home. Many times the children that get sent back home also need a sponsor to provide nutritious food so that the child can become strong, healthy and educated. Now that is the ideal situation, but many of these babies lost their mothers to HIV or complications of childbirth, or were abandoned. So they have no chance at living back at home. When the family is not in the picture, Cradle of Love looks into adoption for those children.

Since I have been here in Africa, I have already had people reach out to me and ask how they can help. I am going to talk to one of the directors here at Cradle of Love and find out exactly what their needs are. This organization is doing incredible things for these children. They are truly changing the future of every single little one here!

Below is the link to their website if you are interested in reading more about them.

http://s104417474.onlinehome.us/cradle2/about/

There will be posts to follow about how you can help and I also have an incredible story about how God touched a little girl named Rachel. So make sure you come back to read her story! 🙂

I am Rachel, and God has blessed me!

I am Rachel, and I want to tell you how God has blessed me!

 

I’m Alive!

Hello everyone! Can you believe it? I’m in Africa, alive, and loving it!

You can't help but smile when you see this many children sining to you!

You can’t help but smile when you see this many children singing to you!(Click on photos to enlarge).

It’s time for an update  on my travels and adventures in Africa! It has been adventure after adventure since the time I left Portland, Maine 10 days ago.

I landed in Baltimore from Portland around 8:00 am and I waited for Brendon to pick me up. My first dilemma arrived when I couldn’t carry all my suitcases out to the pick up zone. (I wanted to take as many dolls and stuffed animals as possible so I had 4 of the biggest suitcases we could find and a backpack). After struggling to carry them all, I just opted to make several trips (which I got yelled at from the security guard for leaving my things unattended). But before I knew it, Brendon (my fiancee) was there to pick me up.  🙂 We drove to the Dulles Airport area and grabbed a nice Breakfast and then we had to say our goodbyes. Brendon waited in the cell phone lot as I waited for the KLM desk to open.

I started to get nervous when the desk opened 30 minutes prior to my boarding time. But I was first in line, and ready to go to Africa. I told the lady where I was headed with a big smile on my face. I was so excited and the time had come! My smile quickly faded when she told me she couldn’t find my flight and that I was at the wrong airport (I was supposed to be at the Ronald Reagan airport not Dulles). How could this be? I thought I was so careful! While trying to hold back tears, and praying to God that He would take care of all of this, I gave the lady my information to take to her supervisor. When she returned, she told me that I was the luckiest lady ever. Because of the small snow storm, her supervisor was able to reroute my flight. I would no longer have to fly multiple flights before I got to Amsterdam, now I could fly direct! That was miracle #1. The next problem I faced was my overweight carry-ons. She said I would be fine if securty did not weigh them. I have never prayed so hard in the security line at the airport! I probably looked very suspicious, but I didn’t know what I would do if they weighed it. But, I made it through with no problem! Until… I was sitting in my gate praising God for Miracle #2 (getting through security) when an offical came up to me and asked to weigh my carry-ons. I was told they totaled 30 kg together when I was only allowed 12 kg. At this point, all I could do was pray that the man would have mercy on me. He came back and told me they were going to check the extra carry-on under the plane. Free of charge. That was Miracle #3. I went from going to the wrong airport with luggage I couldn’t even carry to only having to carry my backpack and flying straight to Amsterdam. God is so good! From there on out, my travels went very smoothly!

We arrived in Tanzania late Thursday night and headed up to the mountain of Chome early Friday morning. We drove about 2 hours up this steep and bumpy mountain terrain where there was only inches between the tires and the ledge of the mountain. Once we got there we were greeted with numerous smiling faces! All the students waved tree branches and sang welcome songs to us as we walked the rest of the way. Their joy was contagious, and soon I found myself holding hands with the locals, and trying to sing songs I had never heard before.

If only this Billy Goat knew what was in store for him...

If only this Billy Goat knew what was in store for him…

They also prepared a presentation where children came up and recited scripture in English and then presented us with many gifts. Sugar cane walking sticks, leis, and a goat. The goat came from the town elders and we were instructed to slit it’s throat and eat it! They were so very proud of their gift to us, so we accepted it with open arms.

hfgh

When we got into the cave, we saw several bats flying around so I decided it would be funny to take a picture pretending to be scared of the bats. Just as I snapped the picture, a bat flew right over my head and this is the picture it took! I didn’t have to fake the fear much.

We spent Saturday morning in church with them, and then went on a glorious Sabbath afternoon hike into the deep jungles of Africa. It was absolutely gorgeous. The view was stunning and we even found some caves to crawl and explore in! Right in the middle of the hike, the man picked up his walking stick, shaved off the skin, and started handing us all pieces of sugar cane to eat! It was a very delicious and refreshing treat. The hike totaled about 4 hours so we were all quite ready to get back to home base. However, the whole afternoon was a perfect way to spend our first full day in Chome.

The official operating room. We removed Lipomas and cysts all  in that little library, oh I mean operating room!

The official operating room. We removed Lipomas and cysts all in that little library, oh… I mean operating room!

We set up all the clinics on Saturday night, and  were ready to start treating people early Sunday morning. The rest of the week went by SUPER fast. I worked in the Pharmacy area on Sunday, the surgery area on Monday, and the dental area on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I had a great time assisting with the surgeries because the surgeon was so patient and very willing to teach. He allowed me to get in and help as much as possible which was way cool!

When I went to the dental area, I pulled my very first tooth! The girl that the tooth came from seemed very unsure of my dental skills (as was I) but the tooth popped right out and I didn’t even make her cry! What a win!

Do genetics have a factor in pulling teeth?

Do genetics have a factor in pulling teeth? I can be a tooth pulling machine like my dad!

Over the week (3 1/2 full days) that we worked we were able to serve so many people! The dental clinic saw roughly 350 people. That is more than 100 extractions a day ’cause most of the villagers needed more than one tooth pulled. The medical clinic saw a little over 550 patients which did not include the 30-40 patients that had operations done. The eye clinic takes the cake though. They saw 1,007 patients, and gave reading glasses to all who needed them. One of the translators told me that when they received their glasses, many would tell them that now they could go and read the Bible with ease. How incredible!

We also held small religious meetings in the evening with them. We led out in song service, had a small skit, gave a short talk and allowed them to participate as well. They have such incredible voices. Their singing blew me away every single night! It was very tough to say goodbye on Thursday morning, but their final song to us made it a happy moment rather than a sad one. 🙂

I know that this is basically the longest post ever, but I had to share all of the incredible things that God has done over the last week. Stay posted and I will continue to update you all!