Dan, Heather, Katherine, Courtney, Jack, Ryan, Abby, Cade, and Bode

Dan, Heather, Katherine, Courtney, Jack, Ryan, Abby, Cade, and Bode

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Robert and His Cow

Kat started Kat's Art for Africa to raise money for a project in Africa. Many of you bought her notecards made from her paintings and I wanted you to see what she was able to buy with your support. Shortly after we left, Robert, our handyman while were in Africa, was presented this cow by his church.

Robert is such a sweet, gentle man.  He has two small children, and unlike our other household help, did not have a cow - only 2 chickens.  Buying him a cow (for about $350, about half a year's salary to him) is like buying him a car.  This is the thank you letter he wrote.  Somehow he found out it was Kat, even though we had requested the gift to be anonymous.

The last line always gets to me.  "I will think of you forever."

We have so much, and when we give well, we can change lives.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back in Portland

Well, as most of you know, we are back! I thought I'd post a few final pics and let Dan wrap it up at a later date. I shared a few of my coming home thoughts on my blog.

The night before we left we met Peter! Peter was our sponsored child with Compassion beginning in 1994. He is now married with a little boy, and another due in December. He graduated recently from a University in South Africa, and is underemployed by his brother, from what I can understand. I know he would love to be using his degree in IT, but the unemployment rate in Kenya is astronomical. They don't keep track officially. Really sweet wife, Olive, and son Elvis! They call him Junior. It was so nice to spend an evening together.

Amsterdam was beautiful, but kind of a shock to be back in the west in such a liberal city. It made me want to go back to Kenya. Public urinals - are they really necessary?

Bode loved the train in Amsterdam! A plane and train all in one day - he was in heaven.


I knew I was getting close to home when they served Kerrygold butter on the airplane! If you're not aware of my obsession with Kerrygold, well, let's just say don't shop for butter at Trader Joe's after me or you might be out of luck.

Welcome home sign from the Kutchers... best housesitters ever!

Homemade cookies from Alexandra, homemade lasagnas from mom, and a clean kitchen from Jeannine... it doesn't get any better!

Thanks again to EVERYONE for your prayers and support. We couldn't have done it without you!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

We spent two nights in Nairobi and will be arriving in Amsterdam about the time my Dad adds this post. Thursday night we stayed at the Giraffe Manor and you can see all the giraffe pictures below. Friday morning we had a visit from Zachary, a young orphan we support through Compassion.

In one of the pictures with Zachary, included on the far left is Rudy, who manages Giraffe Manor with Maryanne, in red (middle back). Next to him is David, who works at Zachary's Compassion project. Rudy loved the children and taught them a lot while we were there, took them on nature walks, and showed them his new puppy.

Friday afternoon we moved to Ngong house, which is another lovely retreat. Dan and I and the 5 youngest stayed in a luxurious log cabin, while the girls stayed in a darling bungalow across the property - a minutes walk.

Peter (who we supported through Compassion for many years) is now grown. His wife and child came to dinner Friday evening. Ngong is a lovely place with much bougainvillea. Will post those pictures upon our return. Thanks for all your prayers…
Heather for all the Hollands

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Had a safe, uneventful drive in from Tenwek. Then lunch at Carnivore and now I am on a lovely patio behind Giraffe Manor. 73 degree weather (I might even be able to pick up pecans if they need me to...that's a reference to our early days in Texas when my Dad couldn't get me to help pick pecans from the ground, "because I only had a 1 degree of temperature tolerance either side of 70 degrees.)

Dan, Abby, Cade, and Bode and I are sharing the Karen Blixon suite. It's at the back of the house and ours is the only room that opens up to this huge, partly shaded stone patio. Beautiful!

Jack and Ryan have a room and bath upstairs, as do Kat and Courtney. The children will all eat at 7:00 with the Giraffe Whisperer (i.e. he shakes a bowl of food to attract the giraffe). They eat spaghetti and ice cream and then can watch a movie. Dan and I have a candle- light dinner at 7:30 with the three other manor guests (all Australian women, 2 in one party and a single). BTW, the girls were invited to attend the adult dinner but the preferred not to! I'm kind of excited about an adults only evening.

I took my first bath in weeks, and afterwards asked for tea and was brought a beautiful service of tea pot, china, creamer, sugar, etc…all silver, white and glass - lovely! I'm not at the orphanage anymore!

Tomorrow morning Zachary will be here at 8:00! I can't wait. Please pray for traveling mercies beginning your Friday evening…our Saturday morning.
Heather, for all of us.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Umoja is one of three orphanages that we visited. Again, it's a mix of natural beauty and utter poverty.

The first dorm pic is one of the current dorms. The newer looking dorms needs to be painted and then they can move in! A big improvement. The sheets on the bed are sheet we were able to purchase with your help!

They have no regular source of income except for the eggs they are now raising, thanks to help from Tenwek. Joseph, the director, is doing a great job with that.

They have 38 children, and they go to government schools, which are free. But once a child enters high school, private is the only option. It costs about $550 (ksh 40,000) for the freshman year (form 1), which is about half a years salary to the average worker. The rest of high school is only $150 (ksh 10,000) per year, because all the books, fees, clothes, etc. have been paid for.

If any of you would like to help sponsor a child's high school education let me know! I will have pictures of them coming soon. There are eight children from this orphanage in particular that will be entering Form 1 (freshmen year) this fall -- if we can find them help.

Bode is THREE!!!

Yesterday was Bode's third birthday! I had packed some small gifts, and we had a pancake breakfast just like at home. Later on his friend Isaac, who is Cade's age, had many more gifts for him. Isaac loves celebrations and he and Cade and another little guy, Levi, spent hours in preparation. They wrapped things up with so much masking tape that it took an hour to get everything opened, I think. And then it was great to see what treasures they had come up with from Isaac's room. Last night we had the Roberts and Galats over for cake and ice cream and lots of kids (14). A fun last night!

I loved Abby's gift - we had to make our own wrapping paper here. Can you tell we've just been on Safari?

The joy of being a Masai woman: you get to make one of these huts for your family - it's your job. You make the walls of half dirt, half cow dung. Then it when the chief dies, he is buried in the village and everyone moves and you have to make a new house. Or if the rainy season comes and your house starts to fall over, you do it again somewhere else. Or when the grass runs out and the cattle need new pasture, ditto.
These are traditional Masai blankets. The men wear them around their shoulders... you see them while you're on Safari and they are out herding their cattle.