Wednesday, November 18, 2009

RAIN, ROADS, and THANKSGIVING

November 19, 2009

How’s the Weather in Kenya?.…Rainy….Blessed Rain!

We’re often asked: “So, what’s the weather like in Kenya?” Although Tenwek Hospital is within 150 miles of the equator, it is located at about 7,000 ft elevation, which gives us a very temperate climate. The temperatures range from the 50’s to the 90’s year-round. We don’t have “summer” and “winter” as we do in USA, but we instead have “rainy seasons” and “dry seasons.” Right now we are in one of the two rainy seasons: September-October-November (with the other March-April-May). The people of the Tenwek area are most grateful that they have been spared from the extreme drought that has affected other broad areas of Kenya. We did witness dry areas starting to recover from drought near Nakuru (100 miles north of here) and we have listened to eye-witness reports from a little south of here of dry land devoid of vegetation with cattle found dead on the roadside or existing as skeletons covered with hide. So the Kenyan people definitely do not take rainfall for granted and appreciate your prayers for adequate moisture.

The rainy season here does not typically have “typhoon-like” rains. A typical day now will have about 3 or 4 episodes of light rain each lasting for about 20 to 30 minutes. Then the sun usually comes out shining brightly between the rainy episodes and it does not seem to take long for the ground to dry up after these brief showers and be ready for the next shower. The rolling hills around Tenwek are currently fully green in a beautiful patchwork of fields and the people have gotten their maize (corn) and other crops planted. The frequent rains do make drying clothes on a clothesline a challenge, because there are no clothes dryers here. (We have a back-up clothesline system inside the apartment, but the humidity still necessitates much longer drying times.) Even though the rains may interrupt activities a bit, we (along with the Kenyans) are most thankful for the rains.

Bwana asifiwe! (The Lord be praised!)

Getting around in Kenya

Our daily transportation (as for most Kenyans) is primarily by foot. Our apartment is located down a steep road below the hospital, so we do get a good work-out daily with the 10-minute climb. We are very thankful to be acclimated to the elevation, coming from Colorado. So far, we’ve twice made the one-hour uphill hike to the home of Pastor Wesley and Charity. We’ve learned for the Kipsigis people (the local tribal group) that it is very important even during short walks for us to take time to greet others and shake their hands whether a child or an adult. We’ve also learned how to respond “Not today” in Kipsigis to our many invitations to come to their homes for chai (tea)! As pedestrians, we need to be vigilant for cars and motorcycles driving on the left side of the road…. or really on ANY side of the road! Drivers of vehicles seek out the least-muddy and least-rutted part of the road and it is our responsibility as pedestrians to give THEM the right-of-way. Then there are, of course, cows, donkeys, and sheep that need to use the same roads and even the same walkway over the dam that we use.

There are more, better quality, paved roads in Kenya than when we were here in 2008 and especially in the Tenwek area. This has been a blessing for patients being driven to the hospital and for us in our journeys, such as for our trip to Bomet (5 kilometers away) in a matatu. Although I see that our Swahili dictionary defines a matatu as a “minibus, “ most really are just cars, which are now being used for public transportation. The front seat is usually split in to two “buckets” with a stick-shift between the seats and the back seat is of a “bench” type. For our ride we sat in “luxury” with only three in the back seat while each of the two front buckets had two passengers, including in the drivers seat! (We think that the driver actually did the gear-shifting himself!)

The better roads have also been a great boon for the motorcyclists who have intruded on the matatu business by selling rides to one or two passengers at a time. We counted 25 motorcycles during our 5-kilometer drive from Bomet to Tenwek when we first arrived. Unfortunately, there is apparently little regulation on motorcycle licensing or driving and we are told that there are many new motorcycle accident patients arriving on the Orthopedic Ward at Tenwek each day. Oh, such is the price for “progress!” We will enjoy the smoother and shorter ride between Tenwek and Nairobi. We have not yet tried driving in Kenya…on the left side of the road (…mostly!)…and shifting gears with the left hand….more adventures to come!

Thanksgiving

The American holiday Thanksgiving is not nationally observed here in Kenya, but we as a Tenwek missionary community will share time together as a huge family on Saturday (two days after Thanksgiving Day) to celebrate our thankfulness. We certainly could each make a very long list of ALL of the MANY things for which we are thankful and it is important to reflect on those blessings. We are personally thankful for all those who have made our presence at Tenwek possible through their support, prayers, love, and encouragement.

We would like to conclude with a Thanksgiving inspiration from the daily devotional book, “Experiencing God” by Henry T. Blackaby & Richard Blackaby:

“Thankfulness is a conscious response that comes from looking beyond our blessings to their source. As Christians, we have been forgiven, saved from death, and adopted as God’s children. There could be no better reason for a grateful heart!”

Blessings to each of you as you reflect and celebrate Thanksgiving!

2 comments:

Blake said...

Thanksgiving with your community sounds like a neat time for fellowship and bonding. We are getting rainy season right now too, although it has been quite dry in some areas. Blessings!

dubadub said...

Re: cell phone transfer of money.
The technique of transferring cell phone time is used for malaria surveillance at Macha Malaria Research Institute near Choma Zambia. Every Monday phone time is transferred to each remote data collection location. When the report for the previous week is texted by cell phone, the reporter then receives payment in the form of additional phone time.
dubadub at Rochester MN