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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Beautiful Kenya

Hi friends,

I hope you are all having a pleasant week. I've been enjoying the warmer, sunny weather but as of today it was back to a bit of gray skies and very light rain.

Spending time with a friend and helping him study for a big exam tomorrow hasn't left me with a lot of free time for blogging. But I have spent a little time to clean up computer files.  I've also been looking for photos I want to share  with you.

These photos are all of Lake Baringo in Kenya.  The island in the middle of the lake is called Ole Kokwe Island.


There is a camp on the island; fittingly called Island Camp. I never spent any time there but I've heard that it is a nice place to stay.


I think the setting here is very beautiful. It was also very hot.

 

I took a tour out on the water with the very personable guide, Sylvester. I didn't intend to take a tour.  But Sylvester was pleasantly persistent, not annoyingly persistent.  I decided at the last moment to go on the tour and I'm glad I did.  It made my time in the area much more interesting and gave me a lot of memories and photo opportunities.

This is my boat tour guide, Sylvester.  He surprised me by speaking several languages including French.

The gentleman in the blue uniform (whose name escapes me) is actually from Ole Kokwe Island. He grew up there in a large family.  He now works on the mainland at Soi Safari Lodge. I  met him again when I made another trip to Kenya and stayed at Soi's sister hotel, The Bontana, in Nakuru City.

The fellow wearing the red cap is my driver. I hired him to take me to several different places in and around Marigat and Lakes Baringo and Baragoi. The reason he is in the boat and not waiting in the vehicle is that we were ready to heat out but the guide Sylvester gave me a great deal on the tour because I had a limited time. I thought why not give my driver a treat since he had a very late night the night before driving me around and then had to make his way home again (hours away) before returning to get me.  Though there are many affluent people in Kenya, there are also many others that cannot afford the things that tourists do. It pays to treat them with kindness and consideration for they toil under difficult circumstances to try and make a living and raise their families. When you hire them for the day, technically you do not need to give them meals and refreshments. However I cannot in good conscience enjoy eating, drinking and sight seeing while my driver takes no refreshment or rest.  It isn't right that I should enjoy myself while they watch me and bake and go thirsty in the heat.



I saw many things while out on the water but I can't share them all in one post.

We made sure we didn't get too close to these hippos.
I relied on my camera's zoom feature to get a close up.
You can see the mountains in the far distance and a boat entering to the top left of the photo.
 
The boat comes closer.
And closer.  I also zoomed in for a close up.

It turns out these men are from the island and they are bringing their cattle to market at Marigat. I would see them the next day in town after they sold their cattle. They have to transport the cattle through the water because there are no roads or ferries to the island.  If you stay on the island you will be transported to the lodge in a boat.

On my trip to the area I stayed on the mainland in a beautiful hotel called Soi Safari Lodge. I enjoyed my stay there. I also stayed in another area hotel at Lake Bogoria called Lake Bogoria Spa. I will write more about these two hotels later and show you some of the scenes around both of them.  So please come back soon.


Skywatch Friday
Linking up with Skywatch Friday.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Saturday Evening in Vancouver

The night was so pretty tonight that I just had to take a few pictures.  I soon discovered that although I had my camera, I'd forgotten to reinsert its memory card after the last time I uploaded photos to my computer.  My cell camera came to the rescue.

I  can take photos with my cell phone as long as there is still a bit of light. My camera isn't much better but the camera does seem to have clearer shots even though it is older than the cell phone.

So here are a few photos captured before the light completely faded.


I like the way the crescent moon can be seen just below the blossoming tree. There is a faint hint of pink in the sky as the sun was just setting.


In this photo the sky looks blue though I didn't touch it up. You can't see the pink blossoms very well because of the poor light.


You can see some of the trees have no blossoms at all. The tree in the photo with the church steeple is a totally different tree from all the others in my photos.  But am not sure the name of it. I just know it has different blossoms altogether.  I always like the illuminated cross on the church steeple at night, especially in winter.


In this photo you can make out the blossoms a bit better. At least you can tell they are pink. I must have snapped this photo just a few seconds or minutes before the other photos and while there was still a bit more light.

Here is a long view of the moon.

On the news I heard we are about 6 weeks ahead of schedule as far the blossoming of apple, cherry and peach trees and the arrival of Spring.  I think that puts the annual Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Festival at risk because it doesn't start until April 2, 2015.

 Last year I missed going for walks and enjoying the many cherry blossoms we have in Vancouver.  The weather was inclement and with too much rain all the blossoms fell to the ground before I could get out to enjoy them.

 Perhaps this year I can get a few photos.

But it looks like I'd better be quick since the blossoms are maturing so fast!

Added, February 24, 2015

I also managed to get this photo of a  rapidly changing main street in the city. So many businesses have come and gone.  More changes are on the way soon. I've heard from small business owners that the rents are too high but then the rents are high everywhere so what to do?

One popular and well established restauranteur said he was closing his establishment not for lack of business but for onerous taxes. This country is just getting ridiculously taxed.

View of a rapidly changing city street. Many businesses closing and new ones opening.

We don't pay as much as some of the European countries perhaps.  Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands all pay well over 50% tax but only on  high income earners. I think (I haven't researched it yet ) that these countries also provide more services to all their citizens while we in Canada have seen the slow erosion of services we once received.

What is the point of paying high taxes if you don't receive services and the services you need?

If  citizens are taxed in a burdensome way and the businesses too, how can anybody keep their businesses going and hire people so those people can have an income and keep the economy going?

Yet, the local governments and the provincial government (the federal government is often the culprit too) want to implement even more taxes.

No sooner was the Mayor reelected in November 2014 when  he said wanted a review of Council salaries. He felt they should get a raise for all the hard work they have to do.   That's a lofty sentiment.  However there are many in this province, including this most expensive City of Vancouver, who are barely making $10 an hour.  That is if they are lucky enough to be employed. How can they live on that and pay more for services of any kind?

In January 2015, the average monthly apartment rentals in Vancouver were $1584. If you were looking to purchase a home in the Greater Vancouver area (larger than Vancouver proper where prices are much higher), the benchmark price of a detached property in December 2014 was just over a million dollars.  The benchmark price of an attached unit was closer to half a million dollars.

The price of homes has gone steadily higher, year after year. It is mostly foreign buyers because most Canadians working for Canadian wages certainly cannot afford these prices. Prices are all relative to the consumer with many foreign investors thinking our real estate is "cheap" compared to where they come from.  A lot of these buyers do not even live here and their properties sit empty.  This scenario tells me that we as a province or country have done very little to ensure limited foreign investment and protections for citizens. (This became a bit of an issue in the last municipal election).  I am all for investment but there needs to be a balance.  Especially for those expected to pay the taxes to keep everything running.
The benchmark price for detached properties increased 8.1 per cent from December 2013 to $1,002,200. - See more at: http://www.rebgv.org/news-statistics/home-sale-and-listing-activity-reach-historical-norms-2014#sthash.0m2jJcS7.dpuf
The benchmark price for detached properties increased 8.1 per cent from December 2013 to $1,002,200. - See more at: http://www.rebgv.org/news-statistics/home-sale-and-listing-activity-reach-historical-norms-2014#sthash.0m2jJcS7.dpuf
The benchmark price for detached properties increased 8.1 per cent from December 2013 to $1,002,200. - See more at: http://www.rebgv.org/news-statistics/home-sale-and-listing-activity-reach-historical-norms-2014#sthash.0m2jJcS7.dpuf

Translink (the transportation authority in the Greater Vancouver area) also wants to subject the ratepayers to increased taxes to implement improvements to public transportation.  The City's mayor is the chairman of  the transit authority's Board of Directors and he is in favour of the increase.  He and many other high profile people, all of whom earn a far higher wage than $10 per hour, have mounted an enormous campaign to get voters to vote "Yes" to the increase in taxes.  It would amount to approximately $150 extra per year on top of our already high property taxes (due to the value of the land).

I was wondering who is funding the "Yes" campaign or where the money comes from.  Then today I read that the money being spent on the "Yes" campaign is $8M dollars and it comes out of taxpayer dollars. I presume that means the funds are coming from the Translink budget though I could be wrong.  Anyway, it is highly annoying to have my tax money being spent on a campaign I do not agree with just so that they can win a vote for a tax increase that I do not agree with to give it to a Board that is not capable of managing itself in the best interests of the tax paying public. Also to be asking for more money in this economic climate is the height of stupidity and arrogance.

Have a look here at what our public transit executives get paid in comparison to Seattle and Chicago executives. I've read that our executives have a broader scope of responsibilities and while that may be true I still think the salaries are outrageous.





On top of these overly handsome salaries, these CEOs have bungled the transportation budget over the past few years. Ineffectiveness coupled with bloated salaries means I intend to vote "no" in the transit referendum.  I don't want to give more money to bloated quasi government authorities despite the fact that we do indeed need to make more improvements to our transit system for a good many reasons.

I am tired of those at the pork barrel.  I'm also tired of elitist politicians who seem to think that the average taxpayer has magical pockets of money to pull out whenever there is a need.

As if this wasn't enough, my mother (and many other seniors) got a more than 10% increase in their monthly costs for residential health care. This is courtesy of the provincial health care system. Meanwhile, these same seniors only got a pension increase to match the cost of living index (COLA).  An increase of just under 2%

Is this any way to treat the elderly?

I am getting very fed up with our politicians.

That's my rant for this week.

Those of you who know me well know I never rant.

I have to be very disgruntled to get to that point.

My next post will be more positive.


Joining in with Our World Tuesday

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Beautiful Morning Sky


I couldn't sleep one morning a few days ago because seagulls were screeching or squawking incessantly at about 5 a.m.

I went out doors and took these photos. There were far more than a couple sea gulls but they were flying so fast!  I hardly had time to capture them in flight.





Also I noticed that overnight the blossoms had sprouted from the tree buds.



Within a few short days of taking these photos, the blossoms are almost fully mature. It is rather early for this to happen. Several weeks to0 early. 



You can see the fuzzy shapes of birds in the sky.

How is the weather where you live?
Hope to see you around in the blogosphere soon :-)


Linking up with Skywatch Friday this week.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day & Updates on Missions

Hello friends,

I hope you are doing well.

Photo Credit: Mine ~ Sunset from downtown Vancouver hotel one summer night

I am keeping busy and still behind schedule. So many things to do but not much get up and go to do them. I will get there just a bit slowly it seems.

I wanted to thank those of you who prayed and those of you who gave to help the young Kenyan mother who lost her baby at 31 weeks. If you are new to my blog or haven't visited in awhile, you may read the story here.  A few blogging friends and I have been trying to help the young mom get out of hospital. Other friends in Kenya have also held two fundraisers but the mom remains in hospital.

Yes! She is still there. In Kenya you are not allowed to leave hospitals until you have fully cleared the bills. This bill was very high and we haven't quite managed to clear it.  But it is much closer than it was to being cleared and fortunately for this humble family they have had outside support as well as community support. I'm sure it makes the load of the hardship a little less heavy.

Please continue to say a prayer for this mother and her young family. As you can imagine, it isn't good to have had to be in hospital all this time.  She should be with her family members all of whom live two hours away. She has a husband and another child who need her and they need to grieve together as a family. Sadly, she was in hospital when her unborn child was released for burial.

I had another friend contact me last night for prayer. His mother-in-law (MIL) went missing when she went to try and seek medical help as she wasn't feeling very well. I think she was probably a bit delirious and lost her way somehow. My friend  and his wife live several hours away from this woman and her husband. So I prayed and they prayed. Thank God the MIL was found today.  She is now in hospital being treated for typhoid. Typhoid is a very serious disease and hopefully she will fully recover with the help of medicine.

Today many around the world are celebrating Valentine's Day. I hope you all have a blessed day and that you a get an opportunity to show your loved ones (or they you) just how much they mean to you.

A life worth living is one filled with faith, hope and love.

We never know exactly how long we have left here on earth or what tomorrow holds. 

Today we may have abundance and tomorrow we may have lack. 

Today we may have beautiful shelter.  Tomorrow we may lose our home due to man made or natural disaster. 

Today we may have health but tomorrow we may get the dreaded news that we are sick.

Today we may have a wonderful job.  Tomorrow we might be redundant and given the "pink slip".

Today we may have loved ones all around us. Tomorrow something might happen to one of  us.

Today we may enjoy reading, writing or crafting. Tomorrow we may lose our sight.

Today we may enjoy hearing and watching television, talking on the phone, listening to music. Tomorrow we may lose our hearing.

Graphic credit: Lovely & Beautiful

Today we might have hope and opportunities, something to give us faith in the future and love in the meantime. Tomorrow these might not be present.

Today you may be able to share your good abundance with others. Tomorrow you may need them to share their abundance with you.

~~~~~~


Even a bag of seeds is so precious.  Especially to a small, barefoot child a half a world away who has never had a chance to go to school, who sleeps on a dirt floor, who doesn't know the security of clean water to drink, or a meal every day to fill his empty belly.

He clutches tightly to this donated bag of fertilizer that his mother will plant in hopes of keeping her children fed.

Photo Credit ~ Jonah, Missions of Hope, Kenya

Let's live a  life of gratitude daily for the things many of us take for granted.
If you are reading this, or know how to read, you are one of the many blessed of the world's people.

"Sympathy is no substitute for action."~ Dr. David Livingstone, missionary to Africa


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Updated - Giveaway for a Cause

Hello friends,

I wanted to share this really cool giveaway (from Joy) and a  craft exchange with fellow crafters.

Its being organized by blogging friend Joy, a talented crocheter who lives in England.

The poster says deadline is February 14, 2015 but Joy has extended the deadline to February 20th to allow all you crafters time to participate.

Please read how it all works at Joy's blog here.  You have a bit beyond February 20th to get your craft item ready for shipping. I know I like to receive something from another crafter far away. It's almost like Christmas :-)

Thanks so much!


What I'm Doing

Reading


Shantaram. Rumour has it that this book will be adapted for film production.

Watching

The Blacklist is an intelligent show and the new season is underway

Working On 

Never ending paperwork & bills. This year I'm a little ahead in preparation for tax time. But still waiting for
official tax slips.

Contemplating

I've got several projects I need to make for mom and should be doing it but haven't had the energy.








 Finished With Mailing for

My niece will enjoy her treats.


Enjoying

Wow, what a great singer. I think it might be his wife singing with him on the track at the link provided.He's got a very interesting personal story if you have time to watch youtube videos.

Photo Credit:  From Sir Elvis Facebook page

Remembering

Lake Elementaita, Kenya. So very beautiful there.

Beyond Marigat Town going east without roads. I found it very beautiful in the back country.

Having refreshment in Marigat, rest stop before long journey ahead. Nice around these parts but so very dry and difficult to travel.


Enjoy your weekend!



Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Love Song for Kenya


Recent Posts About Kenya

Post 1 
Post 2 
Part 3 - Update: The young woman who lost her child at 31 weeks in utero is still in hospital. Though she is now well enough to be released, in Kenya mothers are not released until they are able to pay the bill. Please continue to pray for this need to be met in full.
 ~~~~~~

I have a song I wish to share with you today.  The song was written by John Legend.

I've never been a huge John Legend fan but I absolutely love this song because of the emotion in his voice, the words of love and his simple but powerful piano stylings.

In case you haven't heard the song before, I post it here for your listening pleasure.





I dedicate this song of love to all those in Kenya whom I have met and those I have yet to meet.

It may seem strange to dedicate a personal love song (written by John Legend for his wife) to a country and her people.  But when I hear the words "I love all your curves and all your edges", I think of Kenya in all her brilliant, glorious, natural beauty.  As a country, she has so much to offer the world both in her amazing, abundant geography and wildlife, and also in her people.

You just have to travel there to see and experience it for yourself. I've now met many people who have travelled to Kenya and all have been touched and impacted in a great way by the country.

At the same time, Kenya has many edges:  tribal strife, rampant corruption, overwhelming poverty to name a few.  But I believe that there is still much to propel the country forward.  Kenyans believe that too.

May God bless Kenya!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Quick Trip to Northern Kenya

Hi friends,

A good person once you shelter with him under the bush you will know him, and bad one as well.
~ Kenyan Proverb

Things are busy for my friends in Kenya. After showing support for our friend who lost her child a short time after being rushed to Tenwek Hospital, several of my Kenyan friends have been in northern Kenya ministering to the Pokot peoples.

I wrote last time about their missions trip to feed and evangelize the people in the Marsibit area. You can read more here.


People in this dry and isolated area are literally going hungry and have been for some time. My friends and their various churches banded together to bring some hope and food relief to these people. They were able to get together large bags of maize for distribution to the people.

Photo credit:  Jonah of Missions of Hope, Kenya
  (All photos in this post belong to Jonah of Mission of Hope, Kenya).


Amongst the group of humanitarians were two of my friends:  Jonah and Japheth.They were taking both humanitarian and spiritual help to the people. I met both of these Godly men years ago on my very first trip to Kenya.
Japheth is a Pastor at a church near Nakuru.

Shortly after I met Japheth and his wife Loice, Loice delivered two healthy twin daughters.

This young woman and her husband are now missionaries to the Pokot. They travelled from Maasai Mara to minister in the Marsabit area.

One of the beautiful women of the area. I find it amazing how the woman look so well put together despite the heat, dust and lack of water.

This is Jonah ministering to the women. These woman are all very slender and hold themselves with dignity.

It was a quick trip to bring compassion to this remote part of  Kenya, and unfailingly the vehicle overheated on the return journey home. It always happens on these journeys that the car overheats or the tires go flat. It is a given in Kenya due to the condition of the roads and the heat of the days.

Please continue to pray for these people who are going hungry more often than not. It must be so very hard for those who have children. It is hard enough to feel the hurt in one's (adult) stomach, let alone to see children suffering from daily hunger.

Have you ever suffered from true hunger my friend? I know some of you have, especially if you grew up in poverty like I did. We were not hungry every day.  My parents did the best they could and by and large my siblings and I had it much better than many other children in homes around me.  Some years were better than other years. But always I was aware of the shame that poverty brings and to try and hide just how little we had compared to others.  It makes some of us stronger and vow never to be hungry or poor again. For others it beats them down and they never can come out of it. Those life lessons learned as a child and the lessons I learned in the humble church where I was privileged to attend, taught me that I have a loving Father in Heaven and he not only loves us but desires that we should love one another and be good to our neighbours (near and far).

In a recent post, I wrote of another Kenyan friend who was rushed to Tenwek Hospital due to pregnancy complications.  She lost her child after a valiant effort by hospital staff to try and save both baby and mother. It is a very sad situation and mother has been in hospital since then but is now physically well enough for release.

Please pray that her and her husband will be able to cover the hospital bill. 

Thank you to those of you who desire to help her. Her family appreciates the love in action.

Blessings to you my lovely readers. 
May God grant you all a wonderful week ahead free of illness, free of pain and free of major worries.

African Music & Happenings