Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Year End 2015

Hello friends,

It is almost Christmas and I hope you've been enjoying yourself so far.

This will be my last post until after Christmas as I will be spending the intervening days with family and friends.

As I close out the year and reflect back on things, I realize I didn't get to do many of the things that were on my 'to do' list.  This year was also the first year in some time that I did not write out my goals for the year and post them on my blog. I  posted my goals for several straight years and then reviewed them in a post at the end of each year.  But last year I felt I wanted to have a more leisurely year.   I did have a leisurely year in the sense that I did not pressure myself to "perform" but my goodness the year was absolutely non-stop busy and I had some "hits" and "misses" in terms of progress.

Probably the biggest thing I did not get around to doing this year was to travel to Kenya.  There are a number of good reasons for  delaying my trip which I won't go into. I still hope that I will travel there soonest but am not quite sure when. The delays were out of my control but I believe there is a reason and a season for everything and I am certain that when I do get to Kenya I will enjoy my trip immensely.

Since I did not get a chance to travel to Kenya it was a highlight for me to host the Kenyan Boys Choir to dinner one Autumn night while they were on tour in Canada. Meeting these fine young men gave me a chance to learn about their hopes and dreams and their achievements thus far.  It gave me such a thrill to know that Kenya's future is in very good hands with such fine young men as these.  They had a long tour in North America and returned home in middle of this month. Right at this moment they are at Diani beach on Kenyan's beautiful coast. They will be giving their final performance of the year on December 24th, 2015 before returning to Nairobi to spend the rest of their holidays with family and friends.

Beyond not travelling to Kenya, I didn't get to undertake a number of personal tasks (unnamed) and I did not get a number of craft projects done or books read.  All of this is okay as they items are really targets to keep me moving forward rather than firm goals that must be accomplished.  In terms of reading, I've manged to complete 35 of  the 45 books I planned to read. I'm currently on my 36th book called Girl in the Woods but doubt I will read another 9 books before the end of the year.

In terms of craft work, I still haven't finished my African hexagon flower crochet blanket.  But I did manage to get some sewing done for my mother (2 dresses, 2 tops, 2 skirts 3 full length slips) and finish 20 knitted dishcloths.  The dishcloths I've been using are getting rather old and it was time for some new ones. The dishcloths are also great little gifts at Christmas and for birthdays.  One new craft or hobby I learned this year was  making bar soap.  This was a long standing wish which was finally achieved even though it wasn't planned.  After taking my workshop 3 weeks ago, I was finally able to pick up my 2 bars of soap yesterday. I look forward to using them in the New Year.

In the Spring and Summer I managed to put in the garden once again.  I hosted my niece for her annual visit and celebrated my nephew's graduation from the Bachelor of Arts Program before seeing him off for his much anticipated European vacation.

In the heat of the summer I was a tourist in my city and attended the Bloedel Conservatory and the Van Dusen Gardens which was a real delight.  The end of summer saw me preparing a small birthday dinner for my mother.  Of course visiting my mom several times throughout the year is always on my agenda and it takes considerable time, effort and energy to prepare for each trip.  There is always sewing and multiple shopping expeditions in advance to make sure she has everything she requires until the next time I can pay her a visit. Christmas holidays and sometimes her birthday,  are the times of year when spend an extra day or two visiting her rather than making a day trip.  On these special occasions we can have a nicer visit.

In the Autumn I had the pleasure of enjoying several cultural events after a long period of hiatus from attending any. I got to a performance of contemporary ballet and a couple events with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.  I will round out the year by attending my first (and likely only) performance of "The Nutcracker".  This year I enrolled in a short class in Spanish which I enjoyed very much.   I hope to continue with the language lessons when I have more time on my hands.

This year I had a huge project which occupied much of my time. I helped a friend build a house and do it on a budget. Actually the project wasn't to build a house from scratch but to renovate it, adding a bedroom, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen.  I would say this project met with some success but the house isn't quite complete. There are still closets to be built in the bedrooms and the kitchen cupboards need to be finished as well.  My part in the matter was helping find materials and suggesting things such as indoor and outdoor paints, tiles, bathroom fixtures and faucets. My advice was only partially accepted.  I guess that is understandable since the house is not mine! I hope my friend enjoys the house for years to come.  I found it fun to be involved in the project and it was all a learning experience for me.

Autumn arrived & I thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful weather & photo opportunities.

Autumn of 2015 also saw me spending a bit of time enjoying our beautiful Autumn foliage and taking a lot of photos.  I also got around to cleaning out some clutter and trying to find ways to better contain my "stuff".  I purchased a few helpful aids like these trolleys on wheels (in the photo).   I admit that I didn't get the bathroom sorted yet.  I got distracted with other things.  This will be a carryover project to the new year.

The rest of the year  was busy with trying to keep on top of my health challenges and get some much needed dental work done.  I had plenty of  to-ing and fro-ing to the laboratory for tests, various eye specialist appointments, some much needed dental work (which continues) and my first colonoscopy. I continue to spend a lot of time trying to eat right and get healthier. It is a never ending task with some setbacks and a few  successes.  I don't want to dwell on any of it right now as this post is already too long.  I just want to say am grateful for the small successes I have had and hope to have more in the year to come.

For those of you who read me on a regular basis, you will know that my heart is in missions work in Kenya.  There is always tremendous opportunity to help others and I've been heavily invested in ministry to communities there as well as to individuals.

There were several missions to feed the hungry in the Pokot territories in Kenya. I've written about those initiatives on this blog from time to time.  Some of the photos below are from my earlier posts about these missions trips.

Opportunities to minister to individuals were also very present in 2015.  There was one young man who had TB and diabetes was near death.  We got him into a hospital where he received good care and convalesced for several weeks.  He had to be quarantined due to the TB but since he has been out he has  been rehabilitated to the point where he now has a job. He is also on medication to control his diabetes. This is very costly for a villager.  But I am hoping that the cost will be significantly reduced in the New Year due to a Kenyan government health initiative to make medicines more affordable for the poor.

I assisted one young man to get out of jail and get some medical helps. Even though he had a job he started abusing substances and was in great  need of intervention.  This is a very sad story because the young man is very bright but has issues stemming from childhood traumas which he has yet to deal with and accept.  His single mother works so hard to support the family.  It is hard to say what will become of him.  I am hopeful that the medical help and counseling he received will go some way toward helping him change his direction in life and get on a good path.

Then there were the two women who required hospitalization when they were about to give birth.  In a very sad turn of events, one of the women lost her child and ended up in hospital for a long time because we did not have the funds to clear her bill.  Some of my readers were able to assist with the hospital bill but in the end the family had to sell their cow in order to fully clear the bill and be released.

Another of the women was from west Pokot area needed urgent medical attention due to fistula (complications from female genital mutilation). We were able to get the woman the help she needed and back home again despite several twists and turns which including the highway to her home being washed away due to El Niño rains. Both of these woman are now home in their respective villages and doing as well as can be expected.

Who could forget baby Fidelis and her need to get to Canada for surgery?  Baby Fidelis and her mother had a rocky start getting to Canada due to a man who allegedly misappropriated money raised for the baby's travel needs.  Fortunately, the President of the nation and several high level government officials heard of the baby's plight and intervened. The baby underwent successful surgery last month after months of preparation at the children's hospital in Toronto. Baby Fidelis and her mom will be returning to Kenya very soon.  If I am able to get some new photos showing what she looks like after healing, I will share them in a future post.

The help required in Kenya isn't always medical and food related. though food and medical needs are my personal priorities especially where widows and orphans are concerned.  A close runner up is education and training because that can enable people to become self-sufficient.  Two young men needed assistance this year:  one to get vocal training lessons to further his already popular career as a singer. Finding a vocal coach isn't as straight forward as it sounds. First there is the high cost involved.  Then there are the issues of  time and distance issues so technology is a huge factor in enabling lessons to be taken from afar.  This poses cost and access issues for the student in Kenya.  I did manage to find one Los Angeles option which we are now trying for several months to evaluate effectiveness. What the young man needs is professional feedback and he should be able to get some through a process of video exchange.  Another young man is a student in his final year at a university in Nairobi. Once he finishes his Bachelor's degree he hopes to continue his studies in Canada.

Japheth (Left) at his recent ordination.
Last, but not least, there is the woman who lost her husband about 2 weeks ago and left totally adrift both financially and emotionally. With limited resources, we managed to build her a house and buy seeds for a garden, take the family of mother and 3 children to the big city of Nakuru for medical check up, get medicine for the baby who had tonsillitis, buy maize, beans and flour for the family to have food until the mother can make a few shillings.

The poor child baby was crying a lot due to a lot of swelling in the neck. He also had difficult to talk and needed soft food so we bought some milk and bread for the baby to eat while recovering from tonsillitis with medicine.  Thankfully one pastor friend, named Japheth, provided my friend, and this family a place to lodge when they unexpectedly had to stay overnight in the city while waiting for the doctor to examine the baby. .  Japheth may also have contributed to the doctor bill because the overnight stay in hospital was not expected and would have meant a much higher bill.  Last, but not least, the mother and her 3 children moved into their new home on Monday about 10 kilometres from where they were living in a rented home.  We needed to hire transportation to move them and their few belongings.
Here is a long shot of the house. The corn field to the left  of the house belongs to neighbours.

We didn't have enough funds to purchase any chickens for eggs, material for a chicken coop or goats.  The mother would have preferred goats to chickens so her baby and 2 other children could have fresh milk to drink.  It would also have been nice to buy some blankets and a few mattress or two so the family doesn't have to sleep on the dirt floor.   It has been cold and raining in many parts of Kenya due El Niño.  It is difficult to keep warm when there is no heating in the homes. See here for some photos of what it looks like when it rains.

In the end we built the family a wooden home instead of a tin home because a tin home can be quite cold when it rains.  The wood is treated to prevent rot and termite destruction (they get a lot of termites in Kenya) and sits on concrete (not a basement) perimeter.  I though the builders did a good job of building this modest house.

Close up of the house. We bought a lock to safeguard the premises.

You can see that the area where the new house is situated has a lot of forest and is on a hillside.  You can also see some of the trees in the front and back of the house which have been cut down to make way for the building.  To the far right of the photo you will see the newly turned garden.

There may be others of you who would like a chance to help this mother as she isn't quite set up yet. 
Outstanding needs include:

-  more beans, maize, cooking oil, flour, drinking water
-  1-2 goats 
-  2-4 chickens
-  materials for chicken coop
-  feed for chickens
-  mattresses & blankets
-  school needs (uniforms, shoes, books) 
-  paraffin or solar lamp (light source).  

You can reach me at kerichojoy[at]gmail[cot]com


Let me take this time to wish each of you a very

Merry Christmas

I pray for peace, joy and love in your life over the season and for all your loved ones too. God bless. xox


Joanne Noragon said...

I think your year has been full, and more successful than you give yourself credit for. A Merry Christmas to you.

Linda said...

Beautiful photos! Merry Christmas to you! :)

Red said...

I'd say you had a very busy year without setting goals! Congratulations on all the volunteer efforts. Merry Christmas.

Breathing In Grace said...

WOW.....I'm tired just from reading how busy you've been. I read about the crocheted African hexagon flower....I made my daughter a purse out of those hexagons right before she and her husband went to Uganda to bring our grand-girl home. You have such a heart for our girl! Merry CHRISTmas to you and I HOPE 2016 treats you well and you get lots accomplished.

John's Island said...

What an awesome post to end the year! Wow, you have had an amazing year ... congratulations on all you've accomplished. And the new header is just wonderful! It has sure been a pleasure to follow your blog in 2015 and looking forward now to 2016. Merry Christmas Penny!

Pietro Brosio said...

Great post for the end of the year.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2016!

Rajiv Sankarapillai said...

Merry Christmas :)

Jan said...

I hope you've enjoyed your Christmas with friends and family. What an amazing and full year you've had despite not posting your goals. Thank you for sharing with us Penny. Xx

Small Kucing said...

You have achieved so much this year. Hope it's not to late to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May new year brings more happiness and good will :)

eileeninmd said...

Hello, wonderful post to end the 2015 year. It seems like you have accomplished many goals. I hope you will be able to travel to Kenya in the new year. Have a happy day! I wish you all the best in 2016, a very Happy New Year!

Rajiv Sankarapillai said...

Good blog !
Happy new year !

Saucy Siciliana said...

A lovely summary of the year Joyful! It's so inspiring! I wish you lots of happiness, health and serenity throughout the New Year! Hugs, Francesca

Indah Nuria Savitri said...

You have an incredible year indeed...I hope you have the colorful one as well in 2016 :).Cheers..

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