#14 – Unsubscribing

The wifi network for the parish has been out for a week, but thought I was OK with my small modem.  But then my modem stopped working.  Just now I realized I’m probably out of credit.  I’m writing from SFG where wifi is working fine.  WHEW!  Had quite a pile of email awaiting, but alas, none from my readers. 

I’m wondering whether people have grown tired of my musings and are just deleting them.  If that’s the case, please email us at kenya.help.us@gmail.com and ask to be UNSUBSCRIBED.  It’s a bit of a bother to send out my posts, since the list is long.  We would love to pare it down to actual readers.  In the past I’ve heard from readers, but this year, very few.  I’m also aware that sometimes my writing gets boring or repetitive.  Sorry, I send whatever my muse brings to me.

Since there are no Mji kids living in the home anymore, except John, Fr. Ngaruiya rents the rooms out for various groups.  Currently there are maybe 20 – 30 young people studying nutrition, or so I thought they said, who are in town to take exams.  They’ve been here for 5 days and have been quiet and busy, but last night one came back late, leaving the gate to the Mji compound open.  The security dogs kept by the parish, got in, dumped over a trash can and this morning trash was everywhere.  John, bless his heart, has cleaned it all up.  The students will go home this afternoon, returning on Sunday afternoon for their 2ndweek of exams.  They will be made aware of the problems they caused!! 

Mary Fitzgerald, Mary (from Mji), Hillary and I went to the Maasai Market on Tuesday.  Little did I know that the Tuesday market is not the one I’ve used many time (that’s a Thursdaymarket, much bigger). My usual vendor doesn’t go to the small market. RATS!!!  However, I did buy some really nice earrings, some stoneware bowls, puzzle maps and other items.  I’ll go again in 2 weeks, taking the guests I’ll have then, Julie Schatz, Kenya Help board member and 2018 visitor, and her business partner, Niki. 

It’s a bit of a hassle driving there.  Nairobi traffic is like NYC, so Hillary took a “short cut”.  Evidently there are only long cuts in Nairobi, but we finally arrived.  Mji Mary had never been to the market.  In fact, she has been to NBO only a few times in her 18 years.  Njeri, another KH board member, a Kenyan visiting her family, joined us and is bringing home nearly all I bought.  I think this year I will have no problem getting all the crafts home. If anyone knows of something they’d particularly like, do let me know and if at all possible, I’ll get it.

The markets are held in various malls in NBO.  This one happened to be on the top, so outdoors and much quieter than the big one, which is on a floor of the parking and very noisy, especially when Maasai drummers and dancers perform, which they do every hour.  It’s deafening!  But, of course, fun to watch.

Afterwards we ate at a burger place, which was another big treat for Mary. She then wanted to go to the school she will attend to pick up her application forms, which must be done in person, then officially stamped, after one’s ID documents have been scanned.  We were finally able to contact her Mji brother, Evans, who had offered to meet her at the matatu stop and show her the ropes. We found the right transport from mid-NBO, and put her on, hoping for the best.  All worked according to plan, but it was after 9 by the time she arrived (starving!) back at Mji, papers in hand.

Wednesday was Scarf Day at SFG.  Despite my very clear (I thought) instructions to the prefects, they weren’t ready and the impatient form 4’s had to wait outside the library door.  I’d brought both Marys to help.  Mji Mary having graduated SFT in 2018 knew the ropes and of course all the form 4’s, who had been form 3 when she was here, were very happy to see her.  It went better than some years, meaning it was less chaotic.  I’d threatened the “shoppers” who want to pick up every one of the scarves, turn around to get advice from friends still waiting for their turn, and generally not thinking of the ones with high numbers, eagerly watching a favorite scarf, hoping no one with a low number would select it.  The threat was, I’d pull out the shopper, who would then wait until the very end to select.  Turned out to be pretty effective!  One of the high number students suggested I do a turn-around next year, beginning with the high numbers.  Might do that!

All new staff members get one too, but still I had maybe 15 left. Sometimes I give them to special kids who need/want one and the rest I save for next year, always wondering whether there will be a next year. 

Next we stopped at Life Bead, Kenya, about which I’ve written in the past. Minalyn Nicklin has a workshop for HIV positive people, who find it hard to get a job.  In addition to teaching them craft skills, she makes sure they receive a nutritious meal and pays them while they learn.  She’s wonderfully warm and has helped so many, including a number of orphaned babies she has raised.  In a true miracle, she and her husband were given a very large plot of land on which the donor built them a beautiful large home and workshop, with plenty of space for a garden.  It’s not too far from SFG.  She is truly a craftsperson herself, showing us many beautiful earrings, necklaces, bracelets, purses and “stuff”.

I was really impressedwith the size and quality of the new house. Before they’d lived in a ramshackle house on the grounds of the Naivasha Sports Club.  The work room/class room was a add-on, jammed into a very small space. Now they have 2 stories, with an open balcony, large kitchen, airy family spaces.  A separate building houses the crafts, beautifully displayed and reasonably priced.  Beyond that is the room where they make leather goods, using repurposed Southwest Airline seat covers!!!!  Behind that is the beading room, sewing room and space for other crafts, along with western style toilets.  One smaller room housed someone’s motorcycle!  A separate building provides medical office space for her husband’s practice, part of which is caring for the HIV + people who work and learn there.

They don’t have a large garden yet, but will soon.  I don’t know the benefactor, but he must be a very rich saint (is that an oxymoron?).

I asked Lydia whether she would allow Minalyn to bring some of her wares to SFG for the teachers to “shop”.  The women often admire my earrings (sometimes asking to be gifted with same), so I think maybe they’ll be interested.  It doesn’t happen often that vendors are allowed in, but when they are, teachers often buy.

#13 – Sometimes It Doesn’t Pay

This was one of those days when I conceded it didn’t really pay to get out of bed.  I woke up reasonably early, but just couldn’t get myself going.  I’m not a morning person—just leave me alone until I eat my breakfast, complete the sudoku and the X-word.  Then I’m ready to be a human.  Before that, well, it’s questionable.

Lots of interruptions this morning.  I’d like to believe that’s what caused my Sudoku mistake, which I never found. Bad start!  Answer emails, write new ones, get together the stuff I would need at school.  That doesn’t sound like much, so why was it 11 am when I finally got into the car—but without my watch, earrings, medallion I always wear, rings, and most important HEARING AIDS? ARGH!!! 

Got to school with the electric adapter, you know, that grey thing that allows a grounded (3-prong plug) to plug into a 2-prong socket.  Mary Fitzgerald had brought that, along with another graphing calculator with the special adaptation to plug it into an overhead device.  Must have spent an hour just trying to get the overhead I brought about 10 years ago, all plugged into the adapters and converter (240 to 120) so it didn’t blow out the bulbs.  The adapter didn’t quite fit the plug—had to force that.  Then the converter wouldn’t plug into the electric sockets here. Ready to go home at that point. Finally found a power strip that I could force the plug into. 

If all that is Greek, don’t fret, it just is a list of my frustrations.  Why can’t things just work the way we think they will??????

On Saturday, I had come to school to teach a certain topic and had made up some questions for the girls to practice.  Only today, as I finally got the overhead to turn on, I sat myself down to work the questions I’d given them, only to realize what I thought would be nice numbers were not at all, AND like a bolt, it hit me there was a much easier wayto do those seemingly messy questions.  Like I said, not sure it was worth getting out of bed.

Next I wanted to take a picture of the final piece of the overhead, broken by someone who forced a knob too far until it broke.  No way in the world to get one here, but my good friend, Gregg Whitnah, from MA thought he might be able to find one.  Get the parts all set up to send a picture—-OH RATS!!!—the battery in my camera has run down.  I’d charged up another at home, but failed to put it in the backpack. 

Sit down to eat my lunch, specially made for me by the kitchen b/c I really don’t want ugali.  Hmmm, vegetables, with potatoes and rice—lots of carbs and (first bite) TOO MUCH SALT!!!  At that point decided to go home, get the new battery and a peanut butter sandwich. 

Meanwhile Mary Fitzgerald is having her own frustrations.  The wifi at the rectory, which we are free to use if we want to go there, hasn’t worked for several days.  No one seems to know why.  They call someone, only to learn that the bill hadn’t been paid!  Since I’m going back up to school, tummy full, new battery in camera, Mary asks can she go with me to use the school wifi. 

She gets connected, I get my picture and we go back home.  All I want is ½ hour rest. 

½ hour later, I go outside to find that Joyce, one of the Mji kids, has arrived and wants to stay—for how long?????  Next thing I know, David Wekesa (another Mji kid) has sailed in. Instead of 4 for dinner, it’s 6. I’d planned to make spaghetti sauce from scratch, but my pots are not very big.  I put David to work cutting up some stew meat, Mary (Mji, not Fitzgerald) cutting up onions/garlic and Joyce the tomatoes.  We dump it all in the pot, which is almost at the rim and let it simmer. I dump in basil, oregano, mixed herbs (whatever that is) tarragon, parsley and whatever I can find in the cupboard.  Biggest pot has the noodle water, which takes forever to boil—propane doesn’t burn nearly as hot as natural gas.  David announces he must catch the last matatu at 8. 

We sit down for dinner, 6 of us in my tiny one-butt kitchen, having had to borrow 2 chairs from the Mji dining hall.  But for all that, the sauce was good (not great, I thought) but more than just edible.  The noodles and sauce seemed to feed us all and we chatted about how everyone’s day had gone.  Needless to say, my report was not joyous!  At 7:50 David dashed out, with John to see him to the gate, Mary F began to wash the dishes, Mji Mary and Joyce cleaned up the table and put it back in its proper place and I excused myself to my room to recover.

Suddenly an idea.  Ebay!!! Sure enough, ebay had the part I need at a reasonable price and no shipping fee!!!  Had it sent to my next visitor, wrote to Gregg that he was off the hook, wrote to visitor that part is coming, worked 4 of the 6 questions, using the easy way, talked to Fr. Kiriti, arranged with Hillary to go to the Maasai Market tomorrow, taking both Mary’s and meeting Njeri, one of our Kenya Help Kenyan board members, in country to visit family.  Details all taken care of (but of course I’ll forget something tomorrow!!!) settled in to see whether my muse has returned from 1-week holiday. You can decide for yourself, whether this was boring and useless or muse-inspired.  My vote is the former.

Had intended to end there, but realized I’d not written about Njeri and her 2 darling children, Jumo (boy, 8) and Wamu  (girl 6).  They visited Fr. Kiriti Friday evening, then Saturday went to a resort to swim. Turned out the pool wasn’t very warm and the showers were COLD.  Kids enjoyed it, though.  Our plan was they would come for dinner. Njeri is a vegetarian, but told me in confidence the kids would love an American hamburger.

Off to the Jaama supermarket, which has really nice mince meat (aka hamburger), get same, buns, milk, bread (had forgotten the freezer was full of it). My math-brain must also be on vacation, because I bought ½ kilo of HB, sure it would be more than enough, forgetting that’s about 1 pound.  For 5 people????  NOT! Jumo down his in one gulp.  “Is there another burger”. Alas, there was not! Did he want some of his mom’s ugali (“Oh yes, the kids love ugali!”) he didn’t.  Felt like a terrible hostess, particularly when Mary F had suggested we buy some fresh made French frys and I had nixed it—no, there’ll be plenty!! NOT

John loves little kids, and both Jumo and Wamu delighted in the attention of this “big boy”.  They played on the teeter-totter, threw a ball around, giggled a lot and had to be coaxed into dinner. Tight squeeze as always.  I’d asked Njeri whether her kids liked cheese on the burger, Jumo yes, Wamu no. So 4 with cheese, one without.  We sit everyone down and of course Wamu wants cheese!  Oh well, I didn’t mind my cheeseless burger.  We rounded out the dinner with the box of biscuits (aka cookies) I’d bought, thinking they’d last us the week.  Nope, all gone, but Jumo’s tummy was full and all were content.

I wanted to show off SFG to Njeri and kids, so Sunday they stopped by on their way back to Nairobi.  It took Jumo all of 15 seconds to spot the basketball hoop and go running to find a ball. Students are free on Sundays, relaxing in the sun until they saw the 2 kids.  Quickly a bball was found and Jumo was a happy camper, swamped by girls twice his size, but giving him the ball to shoot.  Wamu, on the other hand was uncharacteristically shy and hid behind mom, until at some point she agreed to be loved by a large band of girls. 

Wanting Njeri and Lydia to meet I called.  Lydia soon joined us with her 2 visiting grandchildren, about the same ages as Jumo and Wamu.  Lydia is a true Kenyan lady, who can’t imagine having visitors without feeding them. Off we went to her house to have mandazi’s, which were delicious, and fresh-made potato chips.  It was the only thing that would tempt Jumo away from the bball court.

It was a lovely visit.  Njeri was impressed with the school and with Lydia, the kids had fun and got their tummy’s full.  They went back to Nairobi, while Mary and I went back home to relax. 

#12 – A Visit with Catherine

My dear friend, Catherine Wanjohi, has been in Scotland, only returning a few days ago.  This afternoon has been our first opportunity to talk more than just a brief “Hi”.   As is always the case there is much, much more to talk about than time to do it.  Sigh! 

In Scotland, she attended the International Association of Community Developers (IACD).  She is the poster child for community development and was so recognized by being elected vice-president.  In 2016 she attended this conference for the first time in Minneapolis, where she was appointed Kenyan representative.  In 2018 she was unable to attend, but was appointed (in absentia) Sub-Saharan Director

This year she was elected vice president of the association, a MAJOR recognition of her as the founder and leader of Life Bloom and of the wonderful work Life Bloom has done.

For my readers who are not familiar with that stellar organization, let me give you a history. 

Catherine was the principal of a girls’ high school when she was moved to begin counselling sessions for commercial sex workers.  It’s a long story of how that came about, but it did and in time she saw the grinding need those women have for help, recognition, love, support, counselling—you name it.  Catherine, who has a master’s in counselling, along with many other degrees and trainings, established an organization which could grow exponentially, by training women with high potential, though not the educational documentation, to do counselling, help women set up small businesses, make sure they get regularly tested for STD’s and if positive, take the necessary medications.  “You will NOT leave any more AIDS orphans here.  You will be tested regularly, you will take the ARV’s, you will send your children to school (especially your girls) and you will love those children.” No one can know how many children still have their moms because of Catherine’s admonitions. 

I met her in 2005, my first year here, at the arrangement of Fr. Kiriti. We bonded almost immediately and have been like sisters ever since.  Although I am older than her mother and she is younger than my children, we have that sense of being sisters. 

There is much more to be said about Catherine and Life Bloom Services International (LBSI), some of which you will find at www.lifebloomservicesintl.org 

In addition to her loving service with the women of Naivasha, Gilgil, and Nairobi, Life Bloom has been in the forefront of the fight against HIV/AIDS. She has designed and implemented educational programs over a very wide area, including programs to teach men how their promiscuous behavior spreads the disease to their wives.  Often the infected wives are accused of infidelity and abandoned by the husbands who infected them. 

In addition to the incredible gift of herself and LBSI she has taken into her home and her heart the 2 youngest Mji kids, 2 boys whose mother did not hear the message, did not get tested, did not take the ARV’s and left 2 wonderful boys orphaned at a very young age.  Because at one time she worked at Mji, the older one knew to bring his younger brother here when the mother passed.  Julia, the matron, took them in, fed them, clothed them, gave them warm beds, sent them to school and gave them the unlimited love she gave all the Mji kids. Slowly they adjusted to their new life situation.  A few years later, the then-parish priest decided to close Mji, Julia moved to the US, having accepted the marriage proposal of a Kenyan man living there. Another mother lost to these 2 boys, as well as all the other Mji kids.  Enter Catherine.

Initially she agreed to take them in for about 10 days between when I left here 3 years ago and when school took up.  Mji kids who had no place to be during school holidays would stay here as long as I was here, these 2 boys among them.  When I left, they went to live with Catherine and 2 her biological children + a Mji boy she had previously adopted.  Now she had 5 children, 3 who had experienced major losses. Only a heart as wide as Catherine’s could take them on.  As a tribute to how she has raised her other children, it was they who said, “Mom, we think the 2 boys should join our family.”

Mothering 5 children plus being the LBSI leader, and major fund raiser is taking its toll on Catherine.  The financial position of LB has always been fragile, which means her own salary is iffy. Not good for a mom with 5 children!!! One of our Kenya Help donors has taken on paying school fees and other financial needs of the 2 boys, but even at that, the drain, financially and emotionally is great.

Hence our meeting today.  We had only an hour.  The most compelling issues are the children, 4 of whom are teen-age boys.  We talked, shared, laughed and cried (at least inside) at how much the 3 who are orphans are going through.  The 2 boys who lost their biological mother and then Julia have expressed fear that somehow they will lose Catherine.  It’s very hard for them.

I’ve learned over the years here that at some point every one of the kids who either lost their moms to illness or were abandoned, have experienced great anger.  Many want to search for their fathers, find out why that man left them and their mothers. It’s raw and compelling.  I think it’s universal that we want to know our biological beginnings.

We plan to meet again to see whether we can set up ongoing, solid financial support for Life Bloom.  Are there foundations, federal or international bodies who would support this vital work?  We know the names of many, but how to get their attention?  It’s too important to let LB die, but that could happen if Catherine burns out. 

And so, dear readers, I’m not asking you to give financially to LB, although such would be welcome (I’ll include how you can do it at the bottom). What I’m really asking is do you have any connections with groups who can understand how vital this work is. With proper backing, this work can spread to other countries with still growing AIDS infection rates.  At least in Kenya, the infection rate is dropping, in no small measure due to the work of LBSI.  I know there are federal funds (or there were, pre-Trump) and I know there are churches, civic groups, individuals and foundations who would be grateful to find an organization all set up, ready to move out to address the AIDS crisis in ever growing circles.  The structure is there.  Isn’t it unbelievable that money is all that is stopping it. 

I know that this issue is a big part of the Gates Foundation program, but how to bring LBSI to their attention?  How about Face Book, Google…. I know there are 100’s of foundations, but I don’t know how to address them and I haven’t the time nor the energy to pursue this worthy goal. 

How to donate to Life Boom:

Umoja Presbyterian Churchin Tacoma, WA has agreed to be the fiduciary sponsor for Life Bloom.  Thus any donations made through them will be deductible to US donors.  They will send 100% of donations to Life Bloom, a very generous offer.

Donations will be booked and handled by Marlene Hayden.  Checks should be written to. Umoja Presbyterian Church, with “Life Bloom” entered on the memo line

This last part is vital, because like any church, Umoja receives many donations, so must know to direct donations to Life Bloom.

Checks can be sent to

        c/o  M. Hayden
        POB 44402
        Parkland, WA  98448

#11 – Another Mji Kid Checks In

John, Mary and I did go to David Mungai’s for lunch.  He lives on the outskirts of Naivasha in one of the many housing developments springing up everywhere.  Someday the town will rue the lack of zoning laws and infrastructure (like planned roads).  Most of the housing consists of u-shaped buildings constructed around an inner courtyard, strung with clothes lines.  Perhaps there are 6 or 7 units on each side, doors all opening on the common area.  Generally there are many children hanging around, peering shyly at this funny looking mzungu.  Today there were few.  Perhaps the residents are young professionals, like Mungai, just getting themselves settled into adult responsibilities. 

These apartments spring up any old place, then roads kind of appear, as trucks and cars begin to drive to and from.  The roads are every which-way, like cattle trails and of course, rutted, potholed and full of protruding rocks.  A driver must negotiate around the people walking in the middle of the road, along with the goats, cows, chickens and dogs, but fortunately few cars. Children are everywhere, and I’m driving so slowly it barely registers.  Finally we come to a tarmacked road and just as I breathe a sigh of relief, I see a steam shovel digging a big ditch along the side and cars parked on the other side so I feel totally hemmed in.  A man signals me to proceed, but the shovel is going back and forth, perpendicular to the road and I am very nervous.  But—-at last we are safely past.  Just one more driving terror.  They’re not even terrors anymore.  Just normal day-to-day driving in Naivasha.  I’m not sure why I get so tense.  Miraculously, nothing ever happens.  Amazing.

Knowing that parking at the Naivas on Saturday afternoon (or any afternoon) is impossible, we go off to another supermarket, Jaama, with a larger lot. At the entrances to all supermarkets, each person is “wanded” to be sure we’re not there to blow up the place.  I always kind of laugh, hold my arms out and wait for the “wander” to laugh too.  They always do.  Jaama has way leaner hamburger than Naivas, and today it looked particularly nice. AND we found proper hamburger buns, not thick like Kaiser rolls, but flattened like their supposed to be and in whole wheat as well.  Naivasha is really coming up in the world.  As we check out, the bagger tells us that if we buy a loaf of a certain bread (not the one we had bought), the HB buns would be free.  Evidently they are promoting that new product.  John sprints back to get it and returns with a loaf, I swear, 19 inches long!!!  Never have seen such a long loaf of just regular sliced bread.  Despite the fact that we go through bread very fast here, I wonder whether we’d eat it in a week.

 Not finding hot water bottles, which I’d promised to buy for SFG, we drop John at the Naivas to buy them, plus the pickles, without which we cannot eat our hamburgers.  I’ve turned them into dill pickle addicts!!!

As I’m about to head home, Mary pipes up from the back, “Margo, did you forget to drop me at my grandmother’s?”  Yeah, had totally forgotten.  And I’m headed for the very worst intersection in town, where I must now make a right turn instead of a left to go home. Because they drive on the left, it’s the right-hand turn that crosses traffic.  What a snarl, with busses, matatus, trucks, cars and those @#$$^@%^& piki piki’s everywhere.  ARGH!!!  I’ll never make it across with 4 fenders intact.  I make a quick decision to go left, turn around in the church parking lot and come back down. Even without having to make the impossible turn, going down this main road is about as hazardous as any driving I’ve encountered.  But, as usual, I make it to the highway and proceed in the opposite direction from Mungai’s house.  As we go along I remember Mary’s grandmother has a houseful of children, mostly her grands, left to her to raise by parents who have died from HIV/AIDS.  Grandmother isn’t as old as I am, but she is quite obese and walks with a crutch.  She supports them all by selling carrots in the market and I’m sure lives on the margin, close to the bone.  “Mary, take that big loaf of bread to your grandmother. I’m sure the children will make short work of it.”  Indeed grandmother was happy to have it and I regretted not thinking to get more staples for her at the market.  Next time.

I stay only briefly, since we can communicate only through Mary.  She had requested Mary to come today to help prepare food for tomorrow’s big event.  One of Mary’s aunts is bringing a gentleman friend to grandmother to obtain permission to marry.  This ritual is observed in most families here, and generally if permission is not granted, the marriage doesn’t happen.  I’ll have to wait until she returns tomorrow afternoon to learn of the momentous decision.

It begins to rain as I slowly make my way once again through the hellish traffic congesting the main road up through town. Amazingly, it clears a lot by the time I get to the church driveway.  But clears only means that I’m not being bombarded from all sides. There is still a lot of traffic, as I sit, turn signal blinking and arm out the window, to be sure some nutcase, wanting to save 2 seconds, doesn’t pass me just as I’m making my turn.  Yes, they do that all the time, particularly the piki piki’s.  Almost always some on coming nice person flashes his/her lights, indicating I should turn.  Otherwise I could be there, holding up traffic for 15 minutes. 

Home is along a lovely rose-lined drive, then around the old church with the fence covered in fully flowering bougainvillea and up to the Mji gate, where I see yet another Mji kid, whom I mistakenly call Patrick.  Only later does he correct me.  “I’m Josephat.”  RATS!!! I do that every year the first time I see him.  Every year I tell myself not do to it anymore, but….

I’m delighted to see him, of course.  He’s a shy boy of maybe 19 or 20, probably the most handsome of any, studying mechanical engineering—sort of.  He’s learning to maintain large machinery, at least at the first level, called certificate.  Eventually he will do one or more levels to become able to get a good, solid job.

As with all the others, he comes in to report on how things are going.  After a long day, I’m generally ready to head for my bed, so the kids just sit at the end and tell all.  His big concern is he will be repairing machinery he doesn’t know how to drive.  This is a big problem for him if he hopes to get a job or even an attachment (internship). His exams begin on Monday and if he doesn’t have the fees to pay for the course in driving those machines before he leaves school, the cost is hugely different—about $250 if he’s still registered, but if his exams are over and he leaves school, it will be $680.  ARGH!!!  I think this will be ironed out, but it’s been a big worry for him.

We begin to prepare our dinner, the hamburgers for which we found the lean meat and proper buns.  Josephat has eaten hamburgers, but isn’t familiar with the drill, mayonnaise on ½ the bun, catsup on the other, tomato slices and pickles (which he’s never eaten). John cooks his famous cabbage with onions and tomatoes.  The HB’s are the best so far, of the 3 times we’ve prepared them.  I’m getting used to the large round cast iron flat plate I bought for pizza, but forgot to use last time.  It’s great for HB’s too, with enough space around the edges to toast the buns.  Actually a great dinner, and the best part for me is that the kids do the clean-up. It’s even better than having a dishwasher—which I’ve not seen in any home here.

As we sit chatting Josephat asks me about the pictures of my 4 grandchildren magneted to my refrigerator.  He remembers when my oldest, Maya was here.  She taught them card games, the favorite of which was Spoons.  I’d hear them from my room, squealing with delight as someone achieved 4 of a kind and sneaked a spoon.  Like musical chairs, there is one spoon fewer than players. The spoonless one is greatly chagrined but determined to be more watchful next time. 

I notice Josephat staring at all the pictures, saying something to John in Kiswahili—a sure sign he doesn’t want me to understand.  So, of course, I ask.  He is greatly admiring Kate’s 8thgrade graduation picture.  He says he likes her smile and she is really cute—true enough.  “Josephat, she’s only 14!!!” Oh.

Sunday morning

Mass this morning was, as usual, long and a bit hard to understand.  I didn’t get out of my “house” early enough to go buy the printout of the readings, nor had I remembered my hearing aids. I did get there early enough to sit in Jim’s special pew.  However, Lucy, with whom I’ve shared that pew for 3 summers, was sitting 2 pews back. I know nothing about her, other than her name, but we always greet with a smile and a handshake—required in any Kenyan greeting.  Coming out of the church, particularly into the bright sunshine is a bit dicey for me now, so I was grateful when I discovered Lucy by my side.  She held my hand as I carefully made my way down the broad steps, and after depositing me safely at the bottom, went on her way (after another handshake).  I waited a few minutes to see Joyce, whom I’ve not met since I came.  I do love re-visiting all the folks I’ve come to know.  I met Simon Peter, my long-time math teacher friend, who accompanied me almost to the Mji gate, and Charity, one of our top students at SFG from about 2012.  She’s a beautiful young woman now, finished with university, now living and working in Nairobi. 

Mary is still with her grandmother, making sure the aunt’s gentlemen friend is suitable and John has gone off to a baby shower—carrying a small package of pampers for a gift.  Such a sweet guy, who loves babies.  He’ll make a great husband and dad.  I just hope, when the time comes he finds a woman who will appreciate him. 

Now off to put some laundry in the machine.  Have to do that during third mass so not too many people will see me and be shocked at my doing such menial work on Sunday!!