"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Building Futures, Inc.

Building Futures, Inc.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thursday, Aprill 23, 2015

Well, I’m sitting in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi waiting for my flight.  There are worse place to have to sit. 
Today was a very easy day.  I was awake early, which I’m sure I’ll pay for later, but it worked out perfectly.  I packed my bags last night but got bored so retreated to my bed and got caught up on everyone’s Facebook posts.  I finally fell asleep around 1am.  My original plan was to sleep until 8:30, have some tea at 9:30, then head to the Masai Market one more time before having lunch with Job and our driver Elli.  In actuality, I woke up at 6am, had breakfast at 10am and watched Job and Elli eat a gorgeous lunch at Java. 
Before that, however, we went to Job’s place to drop off some things, he’s got the equivalent of an apartment about 100yards from the Peacock, so it was easy.  We pulled in and parked so Job could get out.  I was going to wait in the car until I heard Job say, “Luke who’s hee-yah?”  Sam’s son Ben was standing right next to where we stopped.  I got out and said hello and brought him back to Job’s.  Job was holding my suit to give to him after I left, but this was the perfect time to make the handoff personally.  He grinned from ear to ear and said, “Thank you, thank you,” in very good English.  The repeated sentiment was a trademark of Sam’s that probably rubbed off on him.  Same could never say anything once.  “Karibu, karibu,” “Asante, asante,” Erikomano, Erikomano.”  It was all part of his charm and charisma.  We walked back to the car where Ben said, “Safe journey,” in his baritone voice.  We turned the car around and headed back down Busia Road. 
The road was just as crazy as usual… bicycles, motorcycles, cars, lorries, and tuk-tuks were everywhere.  I haven’t said anything about tuk-tuks, so I will now.  They’re a nuisance.  I saw a lot of them in Italy, and I can tell you that when these three-wheeled vehicles are ready to die, they go to Kenya.  They’re all part of the unorthodox dance that everyone on the road is entwined in.  It’s amazing how close you can come to someone without hitting them.  Repeatedly.  Nothing, however, was going to keep me from the restaurant.

The two boiled eggs I had for breakfast filled me up, so I had to watch Job eat a pork chop and Elli eat a good lookin’ piece of fried chicken.  Don’t cry for me… I had a vanilla milkshake.  There always room for ice cream, and there’s even more room for a milkshake.  Dear God it was spectacular.  So spectacular that I finished it before Job and Elli finished their lunches.  Not to be rude, I ordered another one.  I’ll probably pay for that later, too.  It was just as fabulous as the first one.  How did I not know about this place?!  I’ll definitely be back with the family when we return.  It makes me feel better that Elli and Job had a milkshake, too.
Before lunch, though, we ran to the market to pick up some last minute requests from the US.  It turned out to be a bit more shopping than I thought, but I got some things that I’m very excited about.  Again, cant’ tell ya, it’d ruin the surprise.
We headed back through crazy traffic toward Kisumu International Airport.  It’s a very small airport, but you can get away with calling yourself “international” when you’ve got 5 countries along your border.  Elli let Job and I off, and he helped me in with my bags.  We said our goodbyes and he ran back to the car.  We’ve been in pretty constant communication since we left.  He’s recommended which paper to buy, checking in to make sure I was ok, and we’re currently talking about our projects and Sam’s children.  The phone keeps buzzing next to the computer as I type.  You don’t recognize the pregnant pauses while I respond to him, but they’re there. He just told me that Sam’s boys were all in his “house,” and Ben was crying.  When asked why he said, “I am missing Adams.”  I miss them, too.  After having so many people at your home for so many days, I imagine it has to be difficult when they all finally depart.  It just so happened that I was the last one to go.  We’ll be back, though, and I look forward to that reunion.
I found myself inside the Kisumu airport waiting for my 2:30 flight to depart.  At 2pm I looked outside and noticed there were no planes.  None.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  That’s a problem.  A couple minutes later, an announcement came on followed by a representative from the airline coming to tell the people at the gate personally (because you can never understand what the agent says over the speakers – it’s like a McDonalds drive thru) that, “The flight has been delayed.  It will now be departing at 1600 hours.  Sorry.”  There were a lot of “clicks” from the crowd.  That’s the normal sound of disapproval if your Kenyan.  You press your tongue against the roof of your mouth then snap it down.  I was either in a henhouse, or people were pissed.  Nobody raised their voice or even questioned what caused the delay.  Instead, we all just hunkered down for another hour and a half.
The plan did finally arrive and after a bumpy ride, made it to Nairobi where I am sipping a Tusker and eating chips.  Yes, I’ll pay for this later, too.  My flight leaves at 10:20pm so I’m hoping I’ll get some sleep on the way to Dubai.
I’ve been thinking about he days that have passed and all the stories that I had forgotten about.  Now that we’re up-to-date, I thought I’d share them now.
Do Kenyan’s have something against the Irish?  I don’t know but they must have chased Old McDonald out of town.  One day while I was sitting with John, he started humming, then singing “Old McDonald Had a Farm.”  It was his lyrics that through me for a loop. When he started singing, I joined in but it all fell of the tracks after “Old…”  I said, “McDonald,” and he said, “Kacheza,” (Kah-chay-zah).  What the heck?  I know you guys are good farmers, but Old McDonald’s been around forever.  Well, not it Kenya.  If it makes you feel any better, Kacheza’s farm is significantly smaller… cows, chickens, goats, and peanuts.  I never got to the end of the song to hear what a peanut sounds like.  Sorry.

While walking to school one day, we passed a group of very drunk men.  Job called them, “victims.”  “Victims of what?”  “Changa’a,” he said.  Then he told me what this stuff was.  It’s basically Kenyan moonshine, but that makes it sound harmless.  It’s important to note that “changa’a” literally translated means, “kill me quick.”  You’re about to find out why.  Job tells me that it contains anything from formaldehyde, to “ladies undergarments” and even rats.  Yes, I said “rats.”  It’s not a typo.  Rats will find the stills and climb into the tubs to their doom.  Apparently that adds flavor… or something.  I’m not so sure that “victim” is the right terminology.  “There’s another failed suicide,” might be more accurate.

It’s funny.  In general, Kenyans are small people; I’d say a little bit smaller than Americans.  I would have to clarify that by saying that the Luo people are a bit smaller.  If we were talking about the Turkanans, I would have to say, “They’re a very tall people.”  It’s just one of their traits.  Now back to the Luo.  Whenever I get out of a car or walk past a couple of men, it’s always the same.  They mutter something that I can barely hear, and Job starts laughing.  “Okay, what did they say this time?”  “They said you are huge.”  “They said you are big.”  “They asked if you are in the army.”  When I’m exiting the car and there’s someone standing next to me, by the time I’m out of the vehicle, they look up at me and just say, “Kubwa.”  “Big.”  It’s certainly got it’s advantages… not too many people want to mess with me here.  Now that I think about it, this trip was the only time I had to yell at someone.  I can’t remember what was going on, but I distinctly remember gesturing and shouting, “Tokeni hapa!”  “Move from this place!”  When/if I remember, I’ll let you know.

Although the place I stay is called “Peacock Resort,” it’s not really a resort.  I’ve got all that I need, and my needs here are pretty simple; Bed, desk (or something that resembles one), some type of closet and a bathroom.  Now, this place is head-and-shoulders above our previous accommodations at the Maseno Guest House, but the bathroom is the part that can always get a bit dodgy.  So there’s a European heater attached to the shower head that heats the water – you just have to turn it on 15-30 minutes before you take your shower.  There’s also a tub coming out of the head with another little shower head at the end of it that you can open or close; sort of like a shower wand.  BTW, the toilets in the shower, too.  Kevin’s a big fan. Me? I don’t get it.  Anyway, this particular combo had both shower heads open, so I had to wrap the tubing around the larger shower head to try and maneuver it so that all the water was falling in the same place.  Difficult to describe, and difficult to accomplish.  I managed ok, but the resulting water flow meant that 5 minutes into a shower I felt like I was on the Titanic (towards the end of the ride, not the beginning).  The hole in the corner of the shower can only take so much before it starts to back up.  Well, most of the time, it backed up into my bedroom.  I didn’t have a shower curtain, but that wouldn’t have mattered, the water kept creeping into the room.  I knew it was time to get out when it was getting about 3 tiles away.  I guess that means I was standing in dirty, dirty water.  Not so funny anymore.

Oh!  This isn’t so much a story, and as I’m typing this won’t matter to many of you.  In fact, it will only really matter to Andrea an me, but I managed to shave off 8 days worth of beard from my face last night.  I’ve always waited until I got home for two reasons.  1.  I never wanted to have any reason to get water close to my mouth, and 2. I never had a trimmer.  Well guess what?!  This time I brought one, and it feels great!  The hair on my face is predominantly white and incredibly itchy.  It always makes it difficult to sleep, and I’m constantly running a comb through it when I’m awake.  For some reason it manages to stay sticking straight out from my face until it decides to turn and try to burrow back into my skin.  If you want to see a bearded Jablonski, you’ll have to see Kevin.

These stories should have kept you busy enough for now.  I’ve still got a couple hours before we board and I want to get this computer charged.  I’ll see you all in Dubai!

Oh, by the way.  There are no streetlights in the city, so this is what driving at night looks like.  I try to avoid it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Another amazing day!
I started out with us picking up Marcelyne Rembo at the Maseno Station.  Marcelyne is a young girl that we sponsored in high school; paying her tuition and supporting her with supplies, uniforms etc.  She was enrolled at Huma Secondary School and was about to be thrown out when Noelle Shinali contacted me.  She was a special case, and Noelle had never asked me for anything.  “Kindly, if you can assist her…” was all she said.  That was enough.  Four years later, that shy little girl is now a vibrant young woman who graduated with an A- (a very rare occurance in these parts).  Now she has colleges asking her to attend and offering full scholarships.  It’s a wonderful story that continues to exceed expectations. 
Anyway, Marcelyne jumped in the car to join us for our ride to Kakamega.  Job pointed out that her mother was on the other side of the road waving.  “Simama,” I said, “Stop!”  I got out and met her in the middle of the street with a big hug.  She is a lovely woman of very, VERY meager means and sacrifices everything for her children’s education.  She doesn’t know much English, and her Kiswahili is not as strong as her Doluo.  I said I would see her later this afternoon, “Wabioneri!” and she smiled and waved goodbye.
The ride to Kakamega was pretty.  We made a slight detour to stop and see our friend Suchi.  He’s a representative from Reach the Children and they help facilitate our wire transfers.  We were anxiously waiting the arrival of the money to begin building at Agulu Primary School.  Suchi has an eternal and contagious smile so our discussions are always enjoyable as well as being productive.  We talked about the Sanitary Pad projects that both of us are involved in and we’ll soon be exchanging notes to see what parts work the best for both of us.  We discussed our other projects before saying goodbye.  Suchi said that rather than handing us a check, he would wire the money directly into the school’s account.  That will be recorded no later than tomorrow.  Wonderful!
The road to Kakamega
We got back on the road and drove to the Golf Hotel in Kakamega where Noelle was waiting in the back courtyard at a table for 4… right next to the pool.  I would have loved to jump in, but it looked like an orphanage had access to the water (and I was fully clothed).  Noelle waved as we approached. She’s always happy to see us, and getting to see Marcelyne made it that much more special.  We sat down and ordered milkshakes before talking about Marcelyne.  We couldn’t really talk on the 1 hour car ride because of the noise of the car coupled with the wind through the windows.  The road went from being nice and smooth asphalt to horribly rippled and bumpy dirt.  It was easier to listen and watch her speak this way.  She’s very well spoken and has an incredible drive to succeed.  She talked about the goals that lie before her and I have no doubt that she’ll achieve all of them. 
Noelle then gave us an update on her work.  She is a community development specialist, and is committed to helping poor children in her country.  She’s trying to get a job with the United Nations… she applies at every opportunity but can’t seem to get her foot in the door.  She’s a college graduate, incredibly well spoken and like Marcelyne, has an incredible drive.  I’d hire her in a heartbeat, but it wouldn’t be enough work for her.
Anyway, we had a lot of laughs before ordering lunch.  The laughter continued, and lunch was fabulous.  Everyone commented on how big the pieces of chicken were.  They were “US” sized, and delicious.  Just so you are aware, the shakes were not. 
   I told Marcelyne and Noelle that I had computers for both of them.  Marcelyne eyes got wide and smiled immediately.  We decided she’ll need one for college so she may as well get used to using one beforehand.  We dropped Noelle’s computer at her home and headed back to Maseno.  Saw a lot of interesting things on the way… here are a couple.
We returned Marcelyne to her mother in Maseno, and that was where Noelle disembarked, too.  And yes, if you’re keeping track, the three of them were sandwiched in the back seat of a little Toyota for over an hour.  Karibu Kenya.  They’re used to it… there’s less room in a Matatu.  Kenya is not a place for you if you need personal space that extends beyond the hair on your arms.  More hugs from everyone and we were off to Agulu.

This was awesome!  There were members of the school board, teachers and of course the Headmistress, there waiting for us when we arrived. The fundis had already removed the roof on both room, so only the walls remained. It was amazing to see how bad these classrooms were.  With the sunlight streaming in, even a blind man could tell they were terrible.  I walked into the first one and realized that it was the first time I was able to stand up straight inside.  I could see right over the lintel.  One of the teachers came to join me and said, “Are you ready to push?”  “Ndiyo!” I said.  We all put two hands on the wall and I counted off, “Moja (moh-jah), mbile (ehm-bee-lay), tatu (tah-too), push!”  It crumbled to pieces as it fell through the air.  The air, by the way, was blowing directly at us as the wall hit the ground.  We were instantly standing in a cloud of mud and dung dust.  Yes, I said, “dung dust,” and let me tell you, that stuff gets everywhere.  Yes, I said, “everywhere!”  I’ll be showering tonight.
We then went to the next room.  This wall was a little taller, and after the, “moja, mbile, tatu,” this wall decided to fight back a bit.  We had to rock before it finally gave way, but gave way it did.  Just like it’s predecessor, it hit the ground with a loud thud and shattered into a million pieces.  Mother nature was kind enough to turn the wind around for this one, so I was spared getting in my mouth a second time.

With that, we entered the office and sat down.  I opened my pack and began removing items.  First was the pencils, pens and crayons, then came the lollipops (which got huge applause – we should be spokespeople for Dum-Dums) and finally, some of the t-shirts left over from our 5k.  I brought one for each of them, and even grabbed an XL for a particular teacher who always greets me with a big hug and a smile.  After he put it on, he sat down, and the tears rolled down his face.  These people are truly wonderful.  We talked for a bit about the project.  I let them know that funds were also being   
sent to install gutters and a tank behind the ECD (Early Childhood Development) classrooms (kindergarten).  The water from the roof has begun to erode the land behind the building, and it’s bringing the revine closer to the base of the school.  Redirecting the water to a tank should resolve the situation… as well as help providing some potable water.  Before I could leave, there had to be a prayer, so I got one… and it was a long one!  Even so, it was very nice.  The key requests were, “safari njema” (safe journey) and “come back to see us.”  I shook everyone’s hand again as they walked us to our car.

As you might have guessed, the clouds were starting to rumble so we hurried over to Mbaka Oromo to see Susan and Emmah.  Much to my disappointment, Susan was nowhere to be found.  Their grandmother Esther was working in her shamba (garden) so she came over to greet me.  Emmah soon emerged from one of the huts, as did her younger brother Danton.  Their mom came from another field, waving and smiling as she approached.  We wanted to try and stay ahead of the rain, so we made this a pretty quick stop.  Pencils and pens for the Susan and Emmah, as well as two bags of sweets.  She was very happy, and she usually is.  She laughed as I showed her pictures of her and Susan from the day before.  These girls hold a special place in the hearts of Andrea and Karen, so they hold a special place in mine, too.  I feel bad that we didn’t see Susan, so I may try to sneak back before we leave for the airport tomorrow morning.  We’ll play that one by ear.  At this point, I’m just hoping that there’s hot water when I wake up.
Sam's youngest son, Moses
Susan and Emmah live just past Sammy’s home, so we stopped to say, “goodbye” one last time.  All the boys were in Maseno with the exception of Moses.  Moses looks like a smaller version of Ben, and he too shares his fathers sharp features.  I fooled around with him for a bit because this was the first time I got to spend time with him.  When I was here the other day, he was taking exams in school.  That’s all behind him now.  His mom Carolyne came out to say hi carrying some white cloth.  Job said, “She has something for you.”  She reached out her hands and said (in perfect English) “These were Sam’s church clothes when he played the drum.  We want you to have them.”  I thought I was done with the tears, but apparently not.  I said that to her as I held the white garment in my hands.  The red stictched “Israel C.A.” (Israel Church of Africa) stood out and I immediately went back to days when I saw him playing for the church.  I had to remove my glasses because I could now no longer see.  I apologized, but they said, “Sorry” first.  I once again thanked them profusely as we headed back to the car.  It was another quiet ride back.
It started to sprinkle when we got back to the Peacock.  We were expecting John Anguso and Dan Otieno at about 6pm, so that gave me close to an hour to get this entry started.  45 minutes into typing, it started to get very windy, then cooler, then wet!  It was really blowing hard for a little while, so I retreated for some better cover than just a patio umbrella.  I sat on the veranda under cover, but then had to move into the main building because of the horizontal rain.  I sat inside the restaurant section on a very uncomfortable sofa while Job and I ate salt & pepper pistachios.  These were a big hit, and I will definitely be bringing them back with me next time.
John and Dan didn’t arrive until closer to 7:15.  I took John back to my room, away from the loud music and louder weather, so that we could call Andrea.  She wanted to say “Hi,” to John and the 7 hour time difference makes it difficult.  Today worked out perfectly because they were passing by on their way back home.  We talked on the phone for a little, but it kept cutting out so we tried FaceTime.  HUGE SUCCESS.  There aren’t many Kenyans that get to FaceTime with people they know back in America.  Even fewer of them are 70 years old.  John absolutely loved it, and so did Andrea.  After awhile, Job came back and said, “What are you guys doing?”  Once he saw her on the computer it was, “Hi mum! Let me go back and bring Dan.”  They both came back entering the room with big smiles.  Dan yelled, “Hello,” and moved around behind John trying to figure out the camera.  John was still doing the same.  It was a great experience to be able to watch these two talk to Andrea.  They had a wonderful time.  Andrea introduced them to our dog Sox, showed them our back yard (proving that we have a forest back there… although there are no leaves on them right now), as well as our kitchen and family room.  They loved it.  It was almost like taking them to America.  We finally had to hang up, but they talked about it for the next hour.  I can guarantee that they’ll be talking about it for months.
We went outside and had dinner as we talked about Mbaka Oromo and Sam’s family.  Although it was perfect for me, John was getting quite cold so Dan piled everyone into his car to head back home.  I walked them to their car to see them off.  One last handshake and “oriti” (oh-rhee-tee, “goodbye” in Doluo) and they were off.  John was the last one to get in the car, and before he closed the door I said, “Wabi wuneri.” (wah-bee-woo-nairy, “see you soon”).  He smiled and waved as they pulled throught he gate in the rain.
I went back to my room and started to pack while I uploaded the pictures that are scattered on this page.  I’m ready to be head home.  The planes won’t be able to fly fast enough for me.  I’ll see you tomorrow in Nairobi.

Another child proving
the point I made
This is Sammy's compound.  The two houses on the left
are his son's Mickey and Antoni.  Sam's home is behind the
trees to the right, and the end of the path.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What a wonderful day that followed a wonderful evening last night!  Despite the storm, I had a great signal so I talked with Andrea for quite some time before calling her on FaceTime.  I love being able to see her!  We had some wonderful laughs and the timing was perfect.  Just enough to get me through the remaining days here in Kenya.

We were walking to Mbaka Oromo today; not so much to see the schools as we were interested in seeing Sam's family.  We spent practically the entire day with them!  As we departed, I heard loud music approaching up the road.  "Advertisement," was all that Job said.  The music was right over my shoulder so as I turned I saw a big truck with "Good Bread" logos all over it.  I also saw that it looked more like a float in a parade.  In the flatbed in back were two girls dancing to the music.  "Is that supposed to get people to buy Good Bread?" I asked.  Job replied, "I don't know.  They think thaht eef you eat the bread you khan hahve the gahls too," and laughed.
The walk to school took much longer than we expected because we continued to run into people (friends and strangers alike) I hadn't seen yet.  It started as soon as we crossed the street at the matatu station.  The piki-piki (motorcycle) drivers were insisting that we take some photos with them.  This group is always changing.  I took some pictures back in January and brought some copies for each of them.  Slowly but surely we've been bumping into one of them at a time.  We checked off another one today. 

I made it a point to stop by to see the woman that thought I ate dog meat.  Job told me that she sells mandazi (like a fried donut) so I thought we'd buy some to eat as we walked.  No such luck, though, as she was making chapati (kind of a bread substitute) this morning.  I asked her if she had any dog to sell and she broke out in laughter.  Apparently she thought I was of a nationality that is rumored to eat canines... I assured her that was not the case.  We laughed about it some more before saying goodbye.  As we walked away, Job told me that she said she was afraid that I was coming to have her arrested.  That made ME laugh!
We walked a bit further and ran into one of the past Clinic Committee Members.  He was headed to the main road and didn't have time to chat so we continued on our way.  The road was quite busy with  people bringing animals to market and piki-piki drivers transporting goods and people, as well as the usual walkers getting from here to there.
We passed men, women and children working in their farms or
performing daily chores like fetching water from the stream.  Younger children were usually huddled together playing with anything they can get their hands on.  In one case, a group of five were simply playing in the mud.  Many of the younger ones, even if they're not alone, will stare at me inquisitively as I approach then run way in terror as I get too close.  That's how you can always pick out the ones that will be in charge as they grown up.  We came upon a group of four.  As we got closer, one ran away, two stood frozen and the last one slowly approached with a stern look on her face as she extended her hand to greet me.  Yup, she'll be the one in charge.  It's like being able to see into the future.  Once that first brave one shook my hand, the others followed suit.  Works every time.

We arrived at Sammy's to find that one of the tents was still standing.  There were about a dozen people still there... along with the guy trying to get rid of his remaining photos.  The resin chairs had all been removed, and all that was remaining were a few benches.  Sam's boys stopped what they were doing and brought out a table and some chairs.  They brought out more chairs than we needed, but they were soon occupied by Sammy's sisters and brother.  John Anguso was among them.
Sammy's sons and grandson
Antoni and his daughter

 We did the customary greetings and moved about talking to each other.  Job and I got up to see the boys.  They were busy building their homes (for Sam's first born Alex, and Antoni).  The houses were erected so they were doing the next step in the finishing process. Antoni was standing in about 2 feet of mud and dung.  They were mixing it with water trying to get the right consistency before applying it to the rough walls.  It's a messy job that's similar to using your feet to crush grapes. Once dry, the stuff is like concrete.  Afterwards, they'll apply another coat of a thinner mixture and it's will be a little more smooth but still very hard.  Ben approached from over my shoulder with a present.  He wanted me to have a one of Sam's drumsticks for Kevin.  Sam had about 5 of them, and I got the largest of the bunch.  It fit well in my hand and it took me quite some time to finally let go of it.  I thanked him and his brothers profusely.
We returned to our seats in the shade and began talking with the "grown ups."  Dan was across from me, with his sisters to his right; John was on my right, Job on my left. They saw me holding the stick and smiled.  I immediately began talking about Sam and how much he meant to my entire family.  We talked about my first meeting, Katie's first meeting, Kevin's, Karen's and Ann's.  I told them how his presence put people's minds at ease back home, because with Sam around, everyone knew I would be safe.  The smiled and nodded with each tale.  I had to stop a few times as tears appeared on my cheeks.  The ladies would softly utter, "Eh," as if they were agreeing with the display.  We talked about his legendary hugs, his deep booming voice, and his office where he grew enormous avocados, 8' high stalks of corn, and big juicy mangos.  Sam would always try to get me to bring some fruit home to the girls, but the US Customs always stood in the way.  They wanted to give me one of his drums, but they were all to big to pack.  Even if I carried it (which I did consider), there's no way they'd let it in the country.  I am always asked if I've been in contact with livestock.  It's kind of hard to say "no" when pieces of livestock are stretched over a cross section of an oil drum.  There's no questioning that there's cowhide stretched across... no question at all.  There's also no doubt that this was not purchased at a store.  I would be heartbroken when they took it from me.
We talked about the funeral and the burial service as they answered every single question.  Some had to do with custom, others religion, but either way it was very informative.  Take for instance Sam's burial plot.  Sam and Caroline (his second wife) built the house together.  Antoni and Alex had already erected homes opposite Sam's front door.  With Sam's passing, a home would have to be constructed for his first wife, Olive.  Because Sam had two wives, they would have to share him between themselves... therefore he would be buried between Caroline's home and Olive's future house. That is why he was buried behind his home.
We spoke of other traditions in the church, like why the men and women are always separated.  I was told that, "Sometimes the Holy Spirit effects people in different ways. If a woman is touched and begins to dance, she could bump into a man and that might give people the wrong idea.  This way, there is never any questioning."
I was also told why nobody in the Israel Church of Africa wears earnings or bangles or necklaces.  "When Moses was on Mt. Sainai and the people were looking to make a false idol, they melted down all of their jewelry to make a golden calf.  We do not wear jewelry out of respect for God."
The clouds were now beginning to pile up against the mountain behind the school (although Andrea says it's a hill) and we could hear the thunder starting to roll.  The temperature dropped a bit and the wind picked up so that was the time we decided to retreat to Dan's home; just next to Sammy's.  He had chairs and tables already set up for us.  Dan's wife Rosalita had been cooking while we were next door.  She slowly brought out rice, stewed chicken and a warm vegetable (that was a mixture of lettuce, carrots and kale).  As the guest, it was customary for me to sit first even though I didn't have a choice of where to sit.  Dan said, "You must be sandwiched between the locals!" and so I was.  True to form, the ladies were at one end of the table, the men at the other.
We talked about governments and their similarities... we talked about corruption and wealth... and we continued to talk about custom.  In Kenya, it's usually "self service" so the men dug in first, followed by the ladies.  Dan and John had already begun to eat before the women had food on their plates.  I said, "In the US, it is customary to wait until everyone is served before you begin to eat."  Them men laughed, the women remained silent.  They weren't so silent when I said, "Normally, the women would be served first."  With that, they began to sputter amongst themselves. It was all in Doluo, but I could have guessed what they were saying.
John said, "If I saved up 50,000KSH (Kenyan Shillings), would that get me to America?"  I told him he would need to quadruple that.  Then I showed him a selfie I took while training for a marathon last year.  We were on long runs on Saturday through the winter, and in this picture my eyebrows and eyelashes were frozen and crusted with snow.  He looked at it with disbelief and said, "I think I will save my money."  Everyone laughed at that one!  Bananas were the last things to emerge from the kitchen.  There are many kinds of bananas here in Kenya, and all of them are sweeter than their counterparts in the states.  It seems to be that way with all the fruit here... except for watermelon (they call it pumpkin).  The melons are smaller and not as sweet.  I keep forgetting to bring seeds with me.  John reminded me of that fact, again.
I learned that one of Sam's sisters was Catholic.  Sabina grew up in the Isarael Church but converted when she married a Catholic man. John said, "I am a part-time Catholic," and pulled out the rosary that Andrea had given him.  "Where did you get that?!" she exclaimed.  John and I explained that it was a gift from my wife and that she and John often talk about Mary when we visit.  She said, "Ooooooh... my rosary is in my bag," and smiled at us.
Mickey's wife and son Caleb
Once finished, I asked if I could take a picture of everyone.  They happily obliged.  We laughed as we realized that all the Catholics were together so the picture wasn't balanced.  Even the part-timer was with us!  Everyone laughed again.  We said our goodbye's and began our walk up to the clinic.  Before I forget, as I said before Alex is the first born son of Sammy and Olive.  Because there are so many Alex's in the neighborhood (and two in the family) everyone calls him Mickey when he is home.  His full name is Michael Alex Oguso... Mickey is his nickname.  I saw Mickey's wife with there son and snapped a picture of them before leaving.
The clinic looks great.  I can't believe how fast the trees are growing.  We still had a small shed on the grounds with some materials that were going to waste.  Termites were getting into the wood, while other materials were just sitting there being useless.  I was concerned about thievery now that Sam wasn't around to keep an eye on them so I made a unilateral decision.  I summoned the Sam's sons to come over.  In front of the Clinic Committee chairman (John), the lead doctor (Dr. Pio) and Job, I told them how grateful I was for their hospitality, and how grateful I was for their father's friendship.  I continued that it would be fitting that they take the remaining items rather than letting them go to waste.  They were very grateful and will use the materials to build a home for Ben.  Another of the many signs I get when working here.  You see, Ben is the tallest of his brothers and looks the most like his father.  Now we're helping him building a home.  Perfect... he will probably be the first face we see over the cornstalks as we walk to school.

The clouds were starting to make noise again, as if to remind us they were still brooding.  Dr Pio gave us a quick tour and updated us on some repairs that they made.  He then offered to drive us back to the Peacock so as to avoid the rain.  As we departed the compound a group of children were returning from the bush with firewood perched upon their heads. It was quite a site so I asked Job to snap a picture (he was holding the camera).  As they walked away he came up to me and said, "That's Susan and Emmah!"

"Wewe" (pronounced "way-way" - "hey you!").  They stopped as I scurried down the hill.  As I bent down to see beneath a ridiculously large collection of twigs, I could see Susan's smiling face.  Emmah had to move the leaves that were cushioning the weight for me to see her face.  Seeing these two lovely girls was the perfect ending to the evening.  I informed them that I was coming to see them tomorrow.


I don't think the smile left my face as we drove home.  I was quiet and contemplative about the day's events.  Like I said in the beginning... what a wonderful day!