Visiting Chepkurbet Church

Though we've already told a little (or rather giraffe-huge) story about our trip to Nairobi, there was a small excursion the week prior that we wanted to share.

Some new friends of ours here, veteran missionaries Jeff and Christine, invited us to ride with them out to a nearby (but not on the hospital grounds) church for a Sunday morning service. We jumped at the chance, and thus we found ourselves worshiping in an all-Kipsigis language service, and the church of Chepkurbet.

Part of the story of the church is that for years, they have been a very small congregation (probably about 40 people total our morning), and they slowly saved up money to buy a plot of land for their church. They found someone willing to sell them the property meter by meter. So when they had enough for a meter, they would pay the guy, and he would move the boundary fence another meter. When they had a strip about 10 meters wide (and this in the middle of a very rural area), they built the first church, seen on the left above. This became the church as they slowly bought meter after meter, eventually with enough land to build the structure on the right, which you can see by the interior picture below is a much roomier space, with much room to grow (especially with high crowd density that is the norm here).

The inside is dirt floors, with rows of rough-hewn planks, with two backed benches, one of which was immediately offered to us. The service starts at 10ish, and we showed up about 10:15, and people trickled in over the next hour, and then we got started.

What followed was a long series of scripture readings, greetings (we were invited up to say a few words, and our untranslated English was greeted with unanimous smiles, if not comprehension), testimonies, a sermon by one of the village ladies (there is no trained pastor), and a bunch of songs. The music was interesting, but my discussion of it would really be too lengthy. Forgive me.
Maggie was, expectedly, the center of much excitement, especially in this child-dominated congregation. She endured the long service quite well, but started to get whiny towards the end. Rachel thought she would take her outside to feed her, and Maggie's exit was apparently a stimulus for the mass exodus of the children of the church. They followed her immediately, and more children were already outside. Thus, when the service ended 10-15 minutes later, I came out into the sunlight to be greeted by the scene below (though only a fraction of the kids are in the picture). No fear, Maggie never minds being the center of attention. All in all, a lovely excursion into yet another manifestation of the body of Christ.

Twiga Smooch



We do apologize for the lack of consistent blogging lately, but to our credit, we have been doing come cool things! The entire McCropder clan took a trip to Nairobi for 4 days this past weekend, and it was a busy time, which will be well documented on one of the blogs sooner or later. We shopped for, and found, an 11 passenger used van to buy, Eric and I got our work visas (making us "official" legal Kenyan aliens), and we visited about six grocery stores to stock up. At least we spent less than last time (about 25% of what we spent last time, which was a relief!!). Anyway, in the midst of all this we found time to do something touristy, and spent a few hours at the giraffe park in Nairobi. We were especially excited because our brand new Kenyan visas gave us resident prices ($1.25 instead of $10).

The pictures pretty much speak for themselves...There's one more of a giraffe kissing me (eating a food pellet that was placed between my pursed lips) that someone else took, which I'll have to post separately. Mags did ok, but got a little freaked out. When I look at the pics, I can see why. The giraffes' heads are bigger than her entire body!



In case you missed it on the other blog:


Frederick Buechner on Prayer

"What about when the boy is not healed? When, listened to or not listened to, the prayer goes unanswered? Who knows? Just keep praying, Jesus says. Remember the sleepy friend, the crooked judge. Even if the boy dies, keep on beating the path to God's door, because the one thing you can be sure of is that down the path you beat with even your most half-cocked and halting prayer the God you call upon will finally come, and even if he does not bring you the answer you want, he will bring you himself. And maybe at the secret heart of all our prayers that is what we are really praying for." (from Wishful Thinking)

Total Eclipse of the . . . Sun

I just wanted to take the chance to share an astrological wonder with all of our North American viewers who didn't get a chance to see this. On Jan 15, there was a solar eclipse visible in Kenya, around 8:00 in the morning. One of the short termers had mentioned this fact to me, but I forgot until that morning, when, although there were no clouds, the light seemed a little funny. The last time I saw a solar eclipse was as a freshman in high school in Fort Wayne, IN--we all went outside during the lunch hour with our index cards w/ holes poked in them so we could look at the eclipse safely. I remember interesting shadows, and admonitions that if we looked directly at the eclipse, we'd most likely go blind.

So again, the first thing I noticed, other than the odd light, were the interesting shadows. This is the front of our house, and the sun shining through a nearby tree. Note the elliptical marks instead of regular shadows.
Our househelper Ruth showed up about this time and said to me, "The sun is bad this morning." There's some truth in that funny statement. The light was dim and it was colder than normal. Throwing caution to the wind (who needs their vision anyhow) I donned some sunglasses and tried to look at the eclipse, but all I saw was sun. Some of the home school kids had better luck though, as you can see below, with special viewing glasses. What a great science day! So, maybe in another 20 years, we'll be on some other continent and get this lucky again.


Family Portrait

We have this weekend off, and we decided to take a mini-adventure to the nearest town for some shopping. Stay tuned for more on that (good times were had), but on the way out, one of the other ladies here offered to take a family picture for us. This is in front of our apartment building, we have the middle unit on the bottom. Note how well Maggie is adapting to African baby transport.


Adventures in Foodie-ism

Long before we left for Africa, Jason Fader dubbed the two of us "foodies." We weren't entirely sure we fit the bill, being too cheap to shop at upscale and gourmet markets, but certainly, we do enjoy good food. We're not of the "food is fuel" camp. And when other people foot the bill, we've taken great enjoyment in some fantastic Ann Arbor restaurants, eating Kobe beef and seared Ahi tuna. Mmm, tuna. I miss it... But I digress. The foodie label is probably no surprise to most of our faithful readers, since we spend a lot of time blogging about restaurants, breads of the month, ethnic markets, etc. We weren't sure that Kenya would afford us the same opportunities for culinary enjoyment.

Instead, we've tried to rise to the challenge of finding good and tasty foods here in a rather remote part of the world. We've dined on old favorites like tortellini soup (with ground beef instead of sausage) and chicken enchiladas (with homemade tortillas, and homemade yogurt in place of the sour cream). And discovered new favorites as well: one of the basic Kenyan breads is called a chipati, which is thicker than a tortilla, sort of like naan or flatbread used for gyros. It's good by itself, but is transformed into mucho deliciousness when you spread pesto, sliced tomatos, and cheese on top and bake it like a pizza. Ah.

We're also venturing into a new realm of making our own foods. Not just, I made spaghetti for dinner, but, I took 30 tomatos and some spices and made spaghetti sauce, since a jar is more than $5 here (for the very basic Ragu). And cereal costs $5-8 per box, so I've started making yummy homemade granola. We also discovered that while peanut butter is pricey (as it is everywhere outside the US), peanuts are cheap: 2 pounds for less than $1. Today I made homemade peanut butter using only peanuts and a food processor. Wow, is it terrific! We've also made yogurt in the crockpot (see photo), and applesauce for the Mag-ster (she's sitting by the crockpot of applesauce and the food processor of peanut butter in the pic...we're on the dining room floor because that's where the US power strip is!). Who knows what we'll decide to create next. Apparently you can't get marshmallows here, but I did find a recipe for some using gelatin. Maybe we'll give it a go! The world is our oyster. Mmm, oysters....