Monday, 24 February 2014

Evidence of alien life, with photographic proof...

Check out the photographic evidence. It's inevitable really, when you think about it. Aliens, rambling around the universe, looking for a location to plant a new colony, beginning with six metal pods. Thankfully, they stumble upon a largely uninhabited area of Kenyan desert - perfect. And so, under cover of darkness, they submerge their steel cells, full of civilians, equipped to colonise a new planet. Happens all the time...the truth is out there...

Okay, okay - how about the real story? What goes down must come up: the four toilets shared by about four hundred children and staff had become more than comfortably full. But we want the best for our kids, so Jim (US missionary) and his team of local guys spent a week digging slightly futuristic-looking facilities. It's hard to go to the lengths of calling long-drops "beautiful", but, surely, we are nearing the giddy heights. Shame I can't actually squat properly - still got a dodgy knee from a football kick-around last year.   

There now follow some pictures to show to any complacent kid in any well-resourced classroom in your country. Usually the intake for our school is about 60 children each year. This year? 150! We're an increasingly popular school and didn't have the heart to turn them away. So we don't have enough desks for the lower classes. That's another project for Jim and co: making desks. (Oh, to be a real handy-man like that, hey?). Can't wait to give them desks!!

You've got to admire the determination and resilience of these kids, doing their mid-term exams on the floor. Just LOOK at those photos! They know that education can open the door to an entirely different future, a brighter future. So they just get on with it!


 Christianity has to involve providing for the basic physical needs of people (toilets, desks, education, food). Makes me think of this brilliant quote from James 2:
14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

"Everybody needs good neighbours..." Know the tune?

I'm hearing of record-breaking floods, ice-storms and that snow has fallen, snow on snow. Time to lift the mood. Meet some of my neighbours.
Meet Patience, daughter to a couple who are teaching at the school. The grin says it all.   
Her parents, John and Inviolate Oyugi, invited me round for chapattis at 2pm, which extended (somehow) to 630pm. Sitting on plastic chairs in the sunshine. Definitely mustn't grumble! John's pretty chilled out on a Saturday. Inviolate was cooking in cramped, oven-like conditions, but came out smiling.

Jim and Laura are my 'go to' people for advice and practicalities. Jim (below) coordinates all the building projects, from digging toilets, to building entire schools. Gifted, quiet, witty guy, with masses of experience. Commands the respect of his workers.
Laura, like Jim, is the model professional: hard-working, wise and kind. I caught her during a rare break from preparing lessons for the secondary school, baking delicious pastries. Smelt so good!
Noor (below) and myself share the same illness - we're both Man Utd fans. Still wondering why we trudged across the desert to watch our beloved team play out a 0-0 draw with Arsenal on Wednesday night. Because of time differences, the match ended here at a little before 1am. Beautiful moonlit night to walk back and talk about the game.
Like Noor, his wife, Lisa, speaks excellent English. Dowate is one of their daughters, pictured below.  

I teach their son, Lowa (pictured below, left) for ten lessons per week. My Sunday lunchtime tradition is to eat with Lowa and Chulayo (below, right). Then we read some Bible. These aren't your usual teenagers: they know that poverty is always under the surface in the outlying villages, so have just started taking food to the neediest people they know and then they preach.
In the words of Psalm 82v3:
Give justice to the poor and the orphan; 
uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.
Rescue the poor and helpless...
They're off to another village tomorrow morning.
To stop this being an endless blog post, allow me to be brief with the remaining photos of a few other folks who live a stone's throw away...
 Below you can see the (ever-smiling) Head teacher (Letipo), followed by his four kids, then Joyce (his wife), expecting a fifth child next month. She is standing with the school librarian.

There are a few pastors living just around the corner: first up, we have Pastor Jamhuri (wife & 4 kids not pictured here); secondly, Pastor David (wife & numerous children also not in the shot... apologies); and finally a teacher from school, Lesarge, and his new wife, Esther. Plenty of houses flowing with chai and conversation.

Back home, I knew almost nothing about my neighbours. I mean, do you know many of your neighbours? Any? Such is the busyness of life in England, individualistic cultural patterns, alongside that good old British reserve, I never really got beyond, "Good morning." Shame on me.
These days, I'm feeling thankful to be part of such a closely-knit community.