Saturday, December 25, 2010

How are you Spending Christmas?

Hello blogging friends,

I am sending you Merry Christmas wishes and praying you are having a good time so far for the holidays. I myself am visiting with my family and will shortly begin to prepare our traditional breakfast waffles before putting in the bird for the dinner later in the day. We are not extravagant in our meal as we once were when my mother was well and able to prepare food. She was well known for hosting large dinners annually for the relatives. It was a bit of an open house at our home every year as children growing up. We always had many drop in guests on Thanksgiving Day, Easter, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

Those days may be gone but mom still likes to host the gathering at her home with me doing the preparations and cooking. I am able to help her in this way to keep her connection as strong as she can as our family is no longer very large and we live far from most relatives.

I am grateful I can provide this support to my family at these special times of the year. This year will be somewhat poignant as mom is not well and she will go into a nursing home in order to get more daily support and overall help.

One of my own personal traditions is remembering those who are not able to have a Christmas full of food, gifts and goodies. I have several places where I like to help a bit and bring some cheer. Recently I took a visit to Kenya. There I distributed some small food items to widows in several villages. You would not believe how HAPPY they were. It warmed my heart so much. I wish I could have done a lot more for these precious people.

Here are a few photos of that special day.

Being led into one of the village homes by the ladies.
Greetings are being made as we settle into the cooking hut.

A widow leads us in prayer.

Waiting for the program to begin.  I don't have all my photos uploaded yet of all the day's activities.  I wish I had one for you now showing the actual food distribution. But I will add more photos later when I get back to  my own home.  These are some of the widows and orphans who were assembled.

The following photos were added December 28, 2010

The widows speak.
A local leader who supports the widows self-help group. He acted as my translator.
The chairwoman of the widow's group smiles broadly after receiving her gift of food.
The secretary of the women's group receives her food.
Widows and orphans gather around and sing a song of happiness during the food distribution.
See the smiles. I was told that they were singing about how God is good and had not forgotten the widows at this time of Christmas.
Here the widows pack up the food and children and head home. Some of them headed to the food that had been prepared for us.
It was a wonderful day there in the village near Kericho, Kenya. I would like to go back again and do more of this kind of work as God enables and blesses me. This distribution of food came about because of the Jiko Stove Project I was working on. You can read more about the project here.

  I'd love to know how you are spending your Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas to each of you. May you find a special day wherever you are. 
If you are alone, reach out to someone else or volunteer your time to help someone in need if you are able and help to spread the season's cheer. 
God bless you all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm Back to Wish You a Merry Christmas

Welcome to Rhonda who became my 51st follower.
After a long break from blogging I'm happy to pop in and say "hello" and "Merry Christmas" to my readers. I  did not plan on being away so long and meant to post some blogs while I was on holiday in Kenya.  However, I had limited time for blogging as  most of you will understand. Then when I did have time to blog, the power did not cooperate.

I've been home for a week now.  I had hoped to log on and blog a bit sooner but despite taking two cameras and three memory cards with me on holiday,  I had no access to photos!  After several false starts to recover the photos, I did at last find a reasonable digital photo recovery program and have recovered at least half of my photos.  I lost a second memory card,and so those images will forever be lost to me.

If any of you ever find yourself in a similar situation, I can recommend the reasonably priced "Digital Photo Recovery (DPR)" software. It allows you to download a demo program before you purchase and enables you to preview how many of your photos are recoverable. Also the recovery program doesn't modify or overwrite your original data. I tried several free programs (File Scavenger, Recuver and some others), including those with demo capabilities before purchasing DRP software.  None of the other programs recovered anywhere near the photos I had taken.  Even the DPR program did not recover many of my  photos but enough were saved to make me feel that some of my holiday memories were captured.  Now enough about photo recovery.

The main purpose of this post was to say "I'm back" and "I missed blogging - a little". But mostly I wanted to send you the very warmest wishes of the Christmas season.

This tree is located in Schipol Airport, Amsterdam. I like the theme of red and gold decorations.

An African Christmas card.

May you all have a safe and blessed Christmas season.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Internally Displaced People in Mau Forest, Kenya


You know my heart is with the Kenyan people. Recently one of my friends was part of an initiative to bring humanitarian relief to the over 4000 Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) who currently live in the Mau Forest. These people have nothing, absolutely nothing and you can see the destitution and hardship written all over their faces. 

Please, I ask you to read this report with a prayerful heart as to what you can possibly do to help them, especially as we near this season of Christmas. God bless you.  Now here is the post from my friend. You can also read it directly on his blog here.  You can also read more about the conditions of the IDPs here.  The situation is dire as the people have been evicted from the forest but they have no where to go.

We still have many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Kenya. I am just hoping this will be a thing of the past soon, but the challenges are still there for all to see.

It is foggy as we head into the Mau Forest IDP camp.
 I guess we need a marshal plan to end this kind of disaster.

Team leaders gather and speak to the people.

There are over 4000 people in this camp. They need a permanent solution soonest. Please pray for them.
Every face in this next series of photos tells a story of the hardships these people face.
Look how frightened and uncertain this young girl looks. Young children should be free from hunger, homelessness, illness and uncertainty. You can be a part of putting a smile back on this young girl's face by helping to ensure she gets all of these necessities of life.
This man has lived a long life. He should now be enjoying his later years with dignity and certainty of food and housing.  Just think about how he feels about now being landless and unable to work and provide for himself and his loved ones.
In this entire crowd of mostly women you can see the hardships of life etched on every face.  Some of these women are young and some are old but they are all living a very hard life with few people to care about what happens to them.
Hardship is written on his countenance.

Continue to support us as we meet the needs of these dear ones as we did this week. We had a lot of contributions from the doctors and VCT counsellors who helped us in providing medical services and testing the folks here.

Hospital help with doctors and medicines was a huge part of the day's help for the IDPs.
Some medical supplies.

Food relief.
Medical help.
IDP patients in the medical tent.
People line up for medicine.

What a challenge it was! Especially driving on the roads. But we did really love this great work of service to help the Mau IDPs. 

The roads are really difficult to traverse. There is thick mud everywhere. You need a really good four wheel drive.
Me with the IDP camp and humanitarian relief effort in background. It was touching to help these people. Will you join with us?  I hope to hear from you.

Enjoy the pics.
God bless,

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Scenic Sunday ~ November 14, 2010

I love this photo. I took it from my hotel balcony in downtown Vancouver. I think it almost looks like a painting.
For more Scenic Sundays, click here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day.  It's easy to remember the time we are to take time to remember; that is, the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour, or November 11th at 11:00 a.m.

I am so grateful to the veterans that fought and died and those who fought and lived to tell the tale. They will forever have a place of gratitude and remembrance in my heart. Let us never forget their sacrifices.

When I was in grade school, our school used to broadcast a program over the public address system every Remembrance Day.  Our teacher would place a cross at the front of the classroom. On top of the cross she would place a soldier's helmet and some poppies.  She would read from soldier's war journals to give us a sense of what the soldiers were dealing with on the battlefield.  The principal would play a narration of the famous poem by John McCrae for the entire school and we would all stand in our respective classrooms for a minute of silence and the playing of the bugle call.  I believe the bugle call played was  "Taps" though am not 100% certain.

The poem "In Flanders Fields" has always touched me. I am sharing it with you now in the hopes it touches you too. Right now there are many on the battlefields. Let us remember them and those that have gone before so that we can live in a free land.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Photo info: Poppies on the Downs at Winton, near Alfriston by Rosie Hibbs, from

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Baking & Cooking Frenzy

When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone. Whether we know it or not, none of us is. We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten. Food is never just food. It's also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be.

Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, 2009

Today (Tuesday), I had a lot of pelvic pain. It wouldn't go away no matter what I did so I could not concentrate on reading in my cosy nook like I planned. Instead I cooked up some comfort food.

First up was some hot homemade soup. There is no recipe really. You just put whatever you want into boiling water. Whatever will satisfy your soul. Today I boiled up some pot barley along with white onions, celery bits, carrot bits, chopped potatoes, a can of stewed tomatoes and cooked hamburger. For flavouring I added Dr. Bragg's liquid soy seasoning, some splashes of hot sauce and salt to taste.

Then I baked some bread. You can see the recipe here. Today I mixed half and half white flour and whole wheat flour.

I also made up some pizza dough. Again I mixed white flour with whole wheat flour. These ones are oiled and wrapped in saran so they will go into the freezer for later use.

Last,  but not least, I baked up some chocolate chip cookies. These ones did not turn out as nicely as the ones I made here. Even though it is the same recipe.  Perhaps it is because I used an egg substitute as I had run out of eggs.

My egg substitute is as follows: 1 tsp. baking powder mixed with 1 tsp. oil to which is added 1/4 of water and mix it altogether. You can also use milk in place of water. This is a substitute for one egg. Although the cookies looked and tasted different, they were fine and I've now learned how to make cookies without eggs! I hope you will try it too.

My World Tuesday ~ November 9, 2010

My thank you to those of you who are praying for Kipngeno's school needs. He really needs your prayerful support.

Hi friends,

Here in Vancouver it is very windy and wet. I am reminiscing about warmer times and nice flowers in my garden.

Like these red roses.

And these Zinnias.
It is the kind of day where I feel I should curl up on a nice chair and read or study. The rain can get to be too much here in late Fall/Autumn and Winter.  At those times, it is important to be grateful and remember that it is the rain that keeps our city green and full of grass throughout the winter, as well as bringing early flowers in Spring.

My study corner for quiet study. There is a comfy armchair close by and natural light from the window.

That is my world for this Tuesday. You can join others around the world here and see what they are up to.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kipnegeno Goes to School

Hello prayer partners,

Kipngeno will be going to school in January, 2011 and we are so happy for him.

I wrote about Kipnegeno in an earlier post and you can read about him here if you like

He will be studying pharmacy, instead of nursing. Medical professionals are very much needed in Kenya.

He needs a lot of funding and prayer support to start school in two months time and we are trying to gather what is needed. Please continue to pray for him and if you can help, please let my friend, Pastor Jonah know here.

Otherwise have a great day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My World Tuesday~ November 2, 2010

We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.
Wernher von Braun
The sweetest joy, the wildest woe is love. What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork.
Pearl Bailey

I hate paperwork.  I know my blog is supposed to be about things that give me joy but I am sorry to say this is one task I take no pleasure in.  It is only after the paperwork is sorted and discarded, or put away in an easily accessible place, that I feel joyful

Over the years I've purchased many books and tools for dealing with out of control paperwork and I've also tried many systems. In honesty, I've never found one that really works for me. When I was working I simply had not enough time to deal with paperwork as my hours were horrendous.  Now that I am disabled and dealing with chronic illness, I prefer to avoid dealing with paperwork.  I do try to make sure I am more or less on top of deadlines and bills but I admit that sometimes the deadlines do pass by. Some organizational buffs might well ask why I don't automate bill payments. I guess I am old fashioned. Additionally, I like knowing exactly what I have to pay and exactly what I have in the account when I do pay the bills. If any of you have faced this problem yourselves and you've found a way to ensure you are never late with bill payments, please do let me know some of your tips.
On the top of my desk right now I have this pile of back logged paperwork. I've been collecting bills and sorting them into their various categories and so there are many months worth of bills in the pile. Once I have my financial plans set for 2011, I will be discarding as much of this paper as possible.  All the bills in the pile have been paid but I need more time to determine what I need to keep and how to file it, what to shred and what to action. At the top of the pile are the receipts I have to submit for reimbursement to my extended health care plan. There is a deadline of one year within which to file and it is getting close to that for some of them so I have prepared the package for the post.  I have oodles of paper in suitcases, boxes and bags that are more or less sorted but need a good going over before decluttering takes effect also.
My desk only has two drawers. The top drawer is for all my office supplies, including the stapler which is invaluable for my paperwork. I have a larger shelf/drawer below it which is where I keep my printer/scanner both of which are invaluable.
After the fire well we had over a year ago now, I resolved to get rid of clutter, including needless paperwork. I have a long way to go on this as I have been dealing with mom's health and long term care needs for most of each month in addition to my own health needs. When she is safely settled, I can resume my own paperwork actions. In the meantime though I make sure the bills are paid and the medical receipts are submitted.

My goals for 2010 included paying down debts and getting my financial house in order. I have made substantial progress on this as the year draws to a close and I feel much more in control of things. Part of my financial action plan now will be to ensure that I have systems set up for dealing with all future bills and paying down any smaller debts. In addition, I need a cash flow statement and a portion set aside for my monthly savings and monthly giving.

Did you set any financial goals for 2010?
Did you have success in meeting them? 
   Even small steps toward achieving your goals are better than no progress at all.  
If you persevere you will eventually meet your goals. 

Join others here for My World Tuesday.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Please excuse my absence from Comments

May there always be work for your hands to do, may your purse always hold a coin or two. May the sun always shine on your windowpane, may a rainbow be certain to follow each rain. May the hand of a friend always be near you, may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
Irish Blessing

Dear fellow bloggers and readers,

I want to apologize as I am not up to blogging or commenting right now. I travelled yesterday from my home in Vancouver to visit my mom. By the time I arrived I was very ill: vomiting, fever, headaches, etc. I got worse as the night wore on. I'm not sure if I have a flu or a case of food poisoning. The good news is that I feel a little better today. The worst of the symptoms seem to have passed. But until I feel much better I'm afraid I won't be able to leave comments on your blogs though I will certainly try to pay you all a visit. Thank you too from the bottom of my heart for your continued following of my blog and leaving comments. It means the world to me.  I have one prescheduled blog post which will go up tomorrow. That might be all from me until I return home later this week.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Scenic Sunday ~ October 31, 2010

Autumn.. the year's last, loveliest smile.
William C. Bryant

I'm nostalgic for these beautiful, sunny days of fall/autumn in Vancouver, Canada.

Click here for more beautiful scenery from around the world.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Today's Sky over Vancouver ~ Skywatch Friday, October 29, 2010

Going around under an umbrella interferes with one's looking up at the sky.
Jerzy Kosinski

It was a rainy day today though not as wet as it could have been :-)

Join in for more beautiful sky photos from around the world by clicking here.

Neighbourhood Street Scenes

Hello friends and fellow bloggers, I hope you are well today. These are photos I took on a recent walk in the neighbourhood. You can see the...