A Monkey’s Meditation

I’ve been staying with relatives the last three weeks as I help sort through my grandmother’s remaining possessions that were in storage whilst she was in the nursing home after her stroke.  By times its been just sorting & tossing, while other times tears have coursed down my cheeks as I dawdle down memory lane and wish I could have more time.

Most of the things that have triggered weepy moments, have been things that she wrote or cut out of a magazine, or something we read together – words.  Words are powerful, they are able to go around the world and convey images and experiences so that we can all share them.

Here’s one poem that she saved in a bible, that made me laugh, and think – all at the same time.

 

A Monkey’s Meditationmonkey not listening

A monkey musing in his cage

Upon the progress of the age,

Half-whispered as I happened by,

“This evolution is a lie.”

 

Surprised to hear him speak so plain.

I paused profounder truths to gain.

Unconscious I was there to heed,

He thus continues with his creed:

 

“For mortal man to try to trace

Descent from our illustrious race

Is rank injustice to our clan,

The monkey much surpasses man.

 

“In bloody wars, men butcher men;

They slander both with tongue and pen.

They cheat, they lie, they swear, they steal;

And wild with wine, they rock and reel.

 

“They trample justice in the dust;

They loll in luxury and lust.

Their men, their women  young and old.

They sell their very lives for gold,

 

“They laugh at law, they twist their truth,

They crucify the dreams of youth.

Their hearts are hard as solid stone,

They worship God with lips alone.

 

“Man thus has left a trail of crime,

Too foul to sanctify with time.

The record of the human race

Brings flaming blushes to my face.

 

“The monkey leads the simple life,

Is loyal to his wedded wife.

No lady monkey yet, of course,

Has ever sought or won divorce!

 

“The monkey home is still serene,

The father, king; the mother, queen.

The little monkeys, too, obey

Their parents in the good old way

 

“We have no haunts of sin and shame.

No racketeers our ranks defame.

Our record stands an open book

At which the world has leave to look.

 

“No self-respecting monkey can

Admit himself akin to man.

According to the Word from on High

This evolution is a lie.”

~ D.E. Guyton

 

From a tract published by Osterhus Pub. House

4500 W. Broadway

Minneapolis, MN

Welcome to Kenya…

The fun part of my job (for the most part) is hosting teams when they come to visit Kenya.  If you were to visit here’s how things would probably might happen (no guarantees).

Greetings! Welcome to Nairobi, you’ve just arrived after too many hours in planes, waiting during airport layovers, standing in line for your tourist visa (which just doubled in price to $50 pp), watching the baggage carousel praying all of your luggage arrived with you, and then dodging the customs officials looking for contraband.  Its about 10pm, but your body is too confused to care.  All you want is some normalcy, and a hot shower.  Sorry, we might be able to help you with a shower, but normal is just a setting on your dryer and we don’t have one here.

We’ve arrived at Eshel Gardens, chai and a snack are waiting for you.  If you want to stay up an chat a bit, I’m more than happy to do so, but feel free to inspect your room and bed for the night if that’s your preference.  I totally understand.  Just remember, jet lag will can hit about 3am, so make sure you’re really tired before you hit the hay.  If you forgot your toothbrush or toothpaste, just ask.  I keep a few on hand, just in case.  Anything else, and it’ll have to wait for Nakumatt.

Day 1 of your trip – at some point today we’ll probably get to Nakumatt so we can pick up any incidentals that you may have forgotten that we don’t keep on hand (anything other than that toothbrush I gave you last night).  You may also want to buy some extra water, though our filtered well water on the table is safe to drink and the tap well water is fine for brushing your teeth & showering.  Other than that, today is your day to acclimate to the altitude and time in Nairobi.  If you brought along a lot of stuff, today is a great opportunity to sort it out.

Days 2 – ?  Hurry up and wait.  Remember, time in Kenya is a totally different concept than in the USA. If someone says 9am, give at least 30 minute grace period.  Life goes at a slower pace here, enjoy the trip and remember the “be-attitude” for any mission team ~ “Blessed are the flexible.”  Use the wait times to listen to God speaking to you, or look around and observe; don’t forget to write your impressions and observations in your journal (you did remember a journal didn’t you?).  Traffic is the bane of every person living in Nairobi.  You can use the downtime in the car to rest or watch out the window and see how others live.

At some point, we’ll go to Masai Market & shop for some trinkets and more ‘african’ stuff.  You can buy carvings, batiks, jewelry, small knives & clubs, traditional type shirts & dresses, woven bags… and A LOT more.  Don’t forget your haggling skills though, because they never give you the best price first and as tourists you’re a target!  We’ll also try and visit one of the National parks, because you can’t leave Kenya without seeing our beautiful wildlife; lions and buffalo and zebra, oh my!

You’ll have lots of questions, and I’ll answer as many as possible.  I am not a native Kenyan, and thus I will not have all of the answers.  If I don’t know it, I’ll try and find out for you.  However, to prepare you:

1. If we lose power, I don’t know when it will come back on.  I also don’t know if we will lose it again.
2. I cannot guarantee sightings of the big 5 – lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and hippos.
3. Food here is different, please prepare your taste buds for a new experience.  We’ll do our best to accommodate specialty diets and allergies, but please be willing to have an adventure and try new things.
4. It can get chilly in Kenya – please be prepared and bring a jacket, hoodie, or sweater.  I don’t have enough to outfit a whole team. Layers are key!

Its your last day. Time for packing up your clothes, your souvenirs, and saying goodbye.  We’ve enjoyed having you and showing you our lovely country and people.  Please come again!

Carnivore!

Wow, I can’t believe its been a week since I last posted. It seems like everything has decided to hit at once. Last week we had visitors in from HISG for a workshop day at the office for our Micro-Finance clients.

Bonus to that was that I got the chance to go to Carnivore! This restaurant is an experience all its own, in fact its included in a lot of safari packages. When we drove up we had to go through some security gates (not surprising). As we approached the gate went up & just as I was about to be surprised by motion sensors in this country I noticed the security guard. I should have known. [With all the available manpower here, it does make sense that a lot of jobs use people power versus being automated]. The parking lot was packed so we asked where to park & the attendant said “down after the nissan” so that’s where we went only to be told by someone else “this isn’t a space.” We explain it’s where we were directed & then wait while the attendants figure it out between themselves. So, we pulled up a bit into a formerly reserved space & went inside.

As you enter you’re hit with the explosive radiant heat coming from the 360° flaming rotisserie grill. It is massive (may 7 or 8 ft in diameter). As we joined the guys at the table I saw there was a lazy susan in the middle with a bunch of little bowls and a flag on it. The bowls are condiments and sauces and the flag lets the roving meat carvers know that you’re “open” to them bringing you food. But before they start, you get salad (on the lazy susan) and a small cup of soup. Then when were done with the starters, they brought thermo-nuclear heated cast iron plates and roasted potatoes. Now as you can probably ascertain from the name of the place, Carnivore is all about the meat, and they’re known for the exotic meats. The roaming meat carvers walk around the restaurant with either giant metal skewers of roasted or cast iron platters with various roasted meat items. I tried quite a few “normal” things – honey chicken wings, roasted chicken, turkey, beef & pork, along with 2 exotics – camel & ostrich. I liked them both. The camel reminded me a bit of beef jerky (maybe because I had a smoky outside piece) and the the ostrich was quite yummy, especially with the garlic sauce. I did turn down the ox “mountain oysters”, lamb, and crocodile. Sorry, but I already know I don’t really like lamb, crocs live in water so they’re out, and just the idea of the first one puts me off.

I decided against taking pictures this visit & instead to just enjoy the experience. I’ll take pics next time I go because I’m sure I’ll go again. It was a blast!

This week I’m preparing for the RTF seminar at the church, thanksgiving dinner next Wednesday (I’m cooking for 16!), and the DOVE Africa convention in December. Oh, and I’m starting on Christmas too! Life is getting busier – oops, better be careful what I wish for 😀

Now this is Kenya…

First things first, I’ve heard from a couple of newer readers requesting info on why I’m in Kenya and what I’m doing here. A brief intro to that can be found here. But I will write more on that another day so keep watching (and asking questions, it gives me material for the “boring” days)

But today! Oh my head. It started out early because I was told we were leaving at 8am for Diane & Ibrahim to meet with the regional leaders in Ukambani to see the progress of the wells that were dug there. We were to meet up with Diane’s niece Debbi and her husband Aram because I was going to spend the day with Debbi and Aram would go along with the Omondi’s to Machakos. We ended up leaving about 9 after waiting to get vegetables to sell from the greenhouse, and (I can’t believe I’m typing this) putting “naughty puppy” in the trunk. Yes, you read that correctly. We put a dog in the trunk of the car. She is permanently moving to Machakos to live with friends there.
So Diane, Bouvince, and I leave to meet up with Ibrahim and Ruth who sells the veggies. Then we did the car swap – Ruth to the Toyota w/ Bouvince; Diane, myself & the dog to the Land Rover with Ibrahim. We filled up and were on our way. Next thing we know, all the windows are rolling down because Naughty Puppy decided to live up to her name and release her waste (hmm, I found a tactful way to say that!) inside the car and we were in no place to be able to pull over & clean it out. So I spent the next 30 minutes or so with my face close to the window regardless of the dust & truck exhaust pouring in. I now know that I prefer the smell of diesel fumes to dog-doo.
Finally we arrive at the meeting place & Diane and I go in to find Aram & Debbi while Ibrahim got to clean up the car & the dog. SO happy that job didn’t fall to the personal assistant! After some tea, the others headed south and we headed to the game park next door.
Swara Plains is a 20,000 acre private game reserve for non-predatory animals. There is also a small B&B inside with cottages for people who’d like to stay overnight. A little pricey, but not too bad. You can learn more about them here.
We had a lot of fun and saw quite a few animals – Thompson Gazelle, Vervet Monkeys, wildebeest, zebra, Masai Giraffe, a wart-hog, and lots of birds. I posted the pics on my FaceBook page if you want to take a look. On the way home we also saw camels, vultures (obviously something must have been dead out on the plains) and some storks.
Other 1sts today – I ate sugar cane for the first time & got a sunburn because of sitting in traffic.
Hmm, I guess life in Kenya can be interesting!