Saturday, March 1, 2014


I have been incredibly lax about updating my website. There are several reasons. Internet here had been very spotty recently, busy classes, etc, etc, but mostly, I struggle to know what to to write on here.

It seems like I should have plenty to talk about. I live in rural Africa, right? My life is full wild adventures involving elephants and Masai warriors, right? Not really.

My daily life is incredibly mundane. I go to school every day and teach kids; how many of you get online to read about a typical teacher’s day in the classroom? No one, not even teachers, would do that.

However, much has happened since I last posted at Thanksgiving. (Thanksgiving!!) So here some snapshots of the past few months.

Here at Tenwek, we have many Christmas traditions. Caroling up at the hospital, decorating the children’s ward. But few are as sacred as the gingerbread building bonanza. It is a wild morning filled with candy, sticky icing fingers, and hyped-up kids, but it's a treasured, time honored tradition.

No, this is not Mt. Kilimanjaro. Those are the Alps. And, no, you aren't confused. The Alps are not in Africa. I had the chance right after Christmas to head up to Germany to spend a few days with my cousin and his family, who were there visiting his in-laws. It was beautiful and cold and completely different than any of my other European adventures. 

This Noah, one of my second graders. I walked into math class one and he was sitting in my chair, grinning. I told him that if he was going to sit in the teacher’s chair, he would have to teach us something. So he did a quick (and impressive) demonstration of how to draw a crayfish. Not too shabby for a spur-of-the-moment art lesson, is it?

These are more of my second graders. We made rockets in science class and attempted to launch them (at least a foot or two) use little film containers filled with baking soda and vinegar. I have done it before and had it work. It did not work this time, but they loved making the rockets, complete with the loading docks (their idea, of course).

In January, we launched our new season of Bible Quizzing at Bethesda Africa Gospel Church. Mike and Pam Chupp have organized it for years and now we have 250 kids studying the book of 1 Samuel. My team (whom I have yet to remember to photograph) chose to be called “King David’s Conquerors” and so far it has fit: we are undefeated! In addition to the 200-something kids from the Tenwek community who meet every Sunday afternoon, we have a satellite group based at Mosop School about twenty minutes from us. Mosop is a mission school that serves orphans and the children of Africa Gospel Church missionaries. They were interested in being a part of the Bible Quizzing competition, but were situated to far away to participate in the Tenwek quizzes. So they invited two other public schools nearby (Chebole and Kamerieto) to compete with them. Every Friday afternoon, another missionary and I travel out and visit Mosop, Chebole, and Kamereito and meet with the coaches and kids. It’s been fun and a great way to get involved with other schools. 

Also, it's totally normal to have cows in the school yard here in Kenya. Occasionally, we even have them wander past the Tenwek MK School door. Here at Mosop School, they are a constant presence.

When I returned to Tenwek in September, I was disappointed to discover that one of my favorite spots down by the river, a nice rock overlooking the waterfall, had been plowed up to create a garden, thus destroying the lovely thick brush that shielded it from the nearby walking path. The rocks is still there, but my early morning retreats are not so quiet and peaceful when I am in full view of everyone walking up the hill to work. I have had to search out a new early morning location makes me less of an object of curiosity and have found a (relatively) uncrowded path behind my house. If I make it out early enough, I get views like this.

I love MKs for many, many reasons. Reason #237: They make their own tiki torches (splitting their own sticks and creating a light from--I think--an old sock, saw dust and lighter fluid). Then they knock on your door late at night to show it off.

Why I love MKs #238: Sometimes you have to settle arguments over who actually gets to take the chameleon home. (A strange conversation to have because these guys are all over the place. We are hardly running short on chameleons.) Also, they make faces like that. And this.

And this. (Made during chai time with their pretzels.)

A few weeks ago, I took a matatu (a taxi) into Bomet, the nearest town to get a few things and spend some time off the compound. Guess what I found in the tiny bookstore? Yep, that’s my dad’s book. 

I also found a lady with this car. I never did understand if she was buying this many mangoes or selling. Either way, I was tempted to hijack the car.

This is my new house (or, more accurately, apartment). Before Christmas, I had been living in a (real, non-apartment) house that actually belonged to a family on furlough. Once they got back, housing shifted around and I ended up back here, in my old place. It's a little more worn than when I left in 2008, but I still love it. 

I am working on another post about a visit to a tea factory, but it may be a while--it took me three days of intermittent internet access to get all these pictures uploaded and formatted correctly. But it's coming soon!