Wednesday, July 29, 2020

End of July 2020

Hi everyone,

I was reflecting this week that it was almost 6 months ago when this Covid scare began and the business of  self-isolating.  For the most part I've been okay and have not needed to do more than go out for food and medications. I did not go to the community garden much at all though I had planned to do so.  Things may change a bit in the next few months as at some point I'll need to have a doctor's appointment, a dental appointment and perhaps a minor hospital procedure and I really should go and get some lab work done.  But have no desire to expose myself to new people and new germs any more than I must  The hospital has been calling me to schedule a procedure on a non-urgent basis and I've basically been avoiding the calls. I will try and give them a call next week.

I've been thinking that it will be at least another 6 months before we can really get out and about and or even contemplate travelling. I thought I cannot go an entire year without seeing anyone in my circle so I'm hoping to organize a day here and there to visit with a family member and one or two friends.  Of course we will visit and keep our distance for safety reasons.

In some of my more recent posts I said I was going to adopt a (rescue) cat.  My application was accepted at one organization and I actually had virtual visits with 3 different cats.  Then I began to get cold feet. It thought it would be better if I met the cats close up and personal instead of just virtually.  That would mean two trips 1) to see the cat and 2) to pick up said cat. In the end I decided to wait until the 2nd wave of Covid 19 is well behind us. In the meantime I have a lot of jobs that continue to keep me busy.

Over the summer's cooler weather I've been catching up on paperwork and decluttering.  In between I read books or I cook and do a bit of cleaning.

I'm reading books 42, Book of Signs by Dr. David Jeremiah and 43, The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey.  My goal for 2020 is 45 books which I'll likely reach in August.  At that point I hope to redirect my focus to crafting and sewing.  I also have more paperwork to get rid of before I can commence some small house projects. I wanted to finish the house projects this summer but now I may not get to them until 2021. The interior light is not good once summer is over and so some things are better left until Spring.

Last week and again this week the summer heat finally arrived.  I spent some time doing more intensive cooking than usual. I like easy dishes in general that don't require a lot of standing at the stove but sometimes I feel like trying new things. The rice pilaf and tuna steak were 'new to me' dishes and both were tasty.

Chia seed pudding, fresh blueberries and raspberries with plain yogurt and pumpkin granola for breakfast.

Grilled Greek Chicken, rice pilaf, roasted lemon garlic potatos, tzatziki sauce

Cheddar Smokies, Greek Salad, Potato and Egg Salad

Grilled tuna steak, rice pilaf, Greek salad

I took the following photos after 9 p.m. Tuesday night. The light was already insufficient. I tend to get better photos around sunrise.

The next set of photos were taken on Thursday evening.
I love the golden colour in the sky. Usually I only see this hue in the very early morning hours.

The Kenyan Missions

Since my last post, I learned that the primary crop we planted (corn/maize) won't be ready until October since we planted several months later than the norm.  Those who planted in January have been harvesting over the past few weeks but we did not plant until much later. 

In Kenya, the farmers plant and harvest corn and then they dry it in a shed.  Preferably a shed on stilts because it helps  with air circulation. Corn can get green mold or aflatoxins in the field or in storage and researchers have discovered that these aflatoxins are contributing to male infertility. Throughout the year the people take their dried corn to the posho mill to have it ground for unga (flour or maize meal). This maize flour is then made into ugali, a staple of the Kenyan diet. 
Ugali is not really nutritious but it is a common food and it helps to fill the belly. It is eaten virtually every day for the main meal and on a modest diet will be eaten with greens or sukuma wiki (fried collard greens though the Kenyans usually refer to it as spinach).  If the budget allows there might be chicken or beef stew as well. For a real treat at Christmas there might be goat meat.
Regardless of the issues with corn or ugali, Kenyans absolutely love ugali and they crave it just like in North America people where people may crave rice or potatoes. If you google the nutritional aspect of corn flour it sounds rather nutritious and perhaps it is relatively nutritious in the scheme of things. But when it becomes your primary source of food and there is little else that goes along with it, I think it leads to a malnourished society. I'm not a scientist but I'm finding that a lot of the adults we've been helping with medical needs are highly malnourished and it leads to challenges in trying to get them healthy again. First they have to have a much more nutritious diet on a consistent basis before they can start to get better. In fact, many Kenyan doctors now recommend their patients to take vitamins or eat a certain array of foods. This is all very challenging if you are a subsistence farmer. There isn't money left over for much else besides one's daily meal.

Photo Credit:  Cookpad Ugali and Sukuma Wiki Recipe


Pastor Jonah will be travelling soon to Kericho government offices to check on the status of Eunice's pension application.  Eunice applied for the pension for the elderly some years ago but has never received it. She has been in hospital for well over a year so cannot follow up on on a new application. I am hoping and praying that Jonah will be able to straighten this out for her and that she will get her pension soon.

It isn't a lot of money.
It amounts to about $18.00 (US) a month but it is paid every second month at approximately $ 37.00 (US).  If you've been to Kenya in recent years you know just how far these funds would go and how little it will buy for a foreigner.
If you are a Kenyan and you are buying food you can make it stretch and you know where to shop. It won't feed you nutritiously but it will help stave off hunger.
If you are in need or medicine it will perhaps cover the cost of one pint of blood or perhaps a month's supply of blood thinner. When Eunice gets here pension we will all rejoice as this is something that has been long awaited and much deserved for Eunice has been a life long community and church worker.  She's never expected anything in return and it would be nice if her last years could be made more comfortable.
We have helped a few other elderly to get their pensions.  Some have received it quite quickly but some others have not.  I would say, more often than not there are hurdles and challenges to any Kenyan getting a document or money from the government in a timely manner. It is always a wait and see what happens next kind of story and people who are entitled give up easily at times believing it will never happen for them.  But I am so happy when one of them gets a pension approved and paid or any other kind of government document. When I first started travelling to Kenya and helping the people there was no such thing as a pension for the elderly and the disabled.  Over time the government has been trying to improve many things but there always seem to be great setbacks and challenges, some created by thieving politicians.

My young doctor friend, Carolly's grandmother is now out of the hospital and seems to be doing well for a woman of advanced her age (she is over 80 years of age). Carolly is slowly building her a new home to replace the one that was damaged during the floods in March. I do not have an update on the other gentleman and his family (7 members in total) who were flooded out of their home and coffee farm. I was not in a position to offer them any assistance at the time so I have no news.  In Kenya when you start asking questions about people's dire circumstances the expectation is that you are planning to help them. It's best not to ask questions then unless you really think you can do something helpful.
In the month of August I have been focussed on providing sheets and duvets to several households. In a few months it will be rainy season in Kenya and it will be cold.  In fact, last night I chatted with Sarah from the Kibra slum in Nairobi.  She said it was very cold.  Sarah has a few children and no husband and not enough blankets or food.  We helped to buy her some food and another blanket to try and keep warm.  Fortunately she lives very near the Toi Market so she can walk there and find what she needs.
There is no heating in most Nairobi homes that I've had the privilege of visiting and it can get rather chilly during certain times of year.  Warm bedding is a luxury in many village and slum homes and food, education, medicine and telephone air time would take priority.

Two gentlemen also received a duvet set (cotton duvet, bed sheet and pillow cases). Basically this involved researching prices and preferences as well as figuring out how to order and get the product to the intended recipients.  One of these is Alvin, the Engineering Graduate who was hoping to do a Masters degree in Canada. His application was not accepted but even if it was Covid 19 would have made it a nightmare to travel here and begin studies. He is now considering seminary and if accepted will likely continue studies in East Africa.
The other man who received funds for bedding is Ernest.  He is the gentleman with diabetes. Each month we provide him basic food and medicine.  If we could provide a more nutritious, consistent diet it would help him so much but we do the best we can.  He is the man who was run down over year ago when he was walking to hospital to get his diabetes medicine. It has been a long journey toward healing and I'm not even sure his leg is completely healed. When last I inquired he was still walking with a walking stick and his ability to walk longer distances was slowly improving. I had hoped that if he could stand on both legs he might be able to go back to being a barber and thus be able to help support himself. That is still my hope.
I had an idea to also provide some cooking equipment for Pastor Jonah; either an electric pressure cooker or an electric frying pan.  This way he might reduce the cost of buying tanks of cooking gas and it would relieve the pressure on his back of having to bend down.  He usually has a large gas tank which sits on the floor and then you put one pan on the top and you have to bend down to cook.  The tanks are not even 2 feet high so that is hard on one's back.
It might save some money to cook with electricity but even if it doesn't there will be a much greater ability to eat a variety of nutritious foods using either one of the gadgets. I told Pastor Jonah to research and pick the most suitable cooker for his needs.


Last but not least, we've sent a bit of funds to a young husband and father I met about 12 years ago when he was selling books on the street.  After graduating from university he set up a small scale tourist operation.  However with the tremendous downtown in tourism he, like many others, is struggling a lot.

Prayers continue for Kenya.
Please contact me if you are able to help any of these individuals with food, clothing, medicines, transport or in any others ways (see side bar for further information).

I'm not sure when I will write again.
It will depend on when I can get some new photos and have something newsworthy to share.
Until then, take good care of yourselves.

Joining in with

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Looking Skyward

Our summer finally arrived this past week. I read on Twitter that it is the latest arrival of summer in 40 years. My experience of having lived long on the earth is that it was indeed a very late summer arrival and the twitter feed simply confirmed it.  If you were in Vancouver over the past few months you could safely vouch that this was the case because it has rained so much since April. Virtually every day and sunny and dry days were few and far between.

Hot weather did not arrive until a few days ago and for the first time since May I went to the community garden. I thought that after several days of sunshine and hot weather the garden would need a good watering.  Truthfully since I've been self-isolating it has been very easy not to go to the garden though I did worry about how unsightly it might be by now. I certainly didn't worry that the garden wasn't getting enough water.

Imagine my surprise to get there and find that most things I planted or that grew because of wind swept seeds taking root, were bone dry! Only a few bunches of a variety of lettuces and some nasturtiums  looked like they would survive.  There was a huge proliferation of poppies that had gone to seed. I noticed that to be the case in neighbouring plots as well. I didn't plant any poppies and I'm sure my neighbours didn't either.  I remember one of the gardeners last year saying she hated the poppies. Now I know why.  I spent a bit of time clearing out dead stalks and leaves. I hope to return soon-ish to clear out the rest and leave it be for another year.

Since there was nothing much to look at in my garden, I took a photo of the sky on my walk to a local pharmacy.

I finished The Dutch House which was a very interesting, though sad book. Since my last post I also read The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society.  I found it a comfortable and satisfying read; a cosy book if you will.  The only complaint I have is that there were so many characters at times it was a bit difficult to keep track of them all. If you like you can read more about the book here.

In the meantime, the book Revealing the Mysteries of Heaven by Dr. David Jeremiah arrived in the mail.  I'm half way through it and it is a very interesting book.  Dr. Jeremiah tells us what Heaven is like through the many verses of Biblical scripture. Most people probably don't realize just how much the Bible says about Heaven and what we can expect there if that is our destination. It is interesting and easy to read so I highly recommend it. Another book I recommend is Dr. Terry Law's book, The Power of Praise and Worship.  I found it very inspirational and motivating.

I didn't only read books this week. I did the usual grocery shopping. Since many of my readers are from other countries, I thought it might be interesting to sneak a peek at some of the foods and prices on offer.

It's a good thing I don't care for steak that much. These 3 steaks in a package cost just over $40. Canadian and it isn't even Porterhouse or Sirloin steak which I think are a higher grade.  The chicken is a bit pricey this week too. I try and buy them when they come two in a bag for the same price or a bit more (maximum $16.00). Then I keep one whole for roasting and cut up the other one for a few meals.  Alternatively, I buy chicken already cut into pieces when they are on a reduced price.

Sorry for the blurred photo. I bought a bag of organic sweet potatoes (right) $6.99.

I like the price of cherry tomatoes.  I buy a pint of cherry or grape tomatoes every week and/or tomatoes on the vine. 

 I bought a bag of avocados. There were 4 in a bag for $4.99, the usual sale price.

I've been craving a papaya and I bought one for $5.99. I finished it off by the next day.

The cucumbers were $1.29 if you have the store app (which I do).

I also spent a bit of time talking to some far away relatives to see how they are coping. My aunt told me that a cousin who lost her son about 2 years ago was going through a difficult time. They were all meeting at my cousin's brother's place for lunch and pouring over old family photos. My cousin broke down in tears and they flowed heavily that day.
 I know it is very difficult for a mama to lose a child. It just isn't the natural order of things.
(The father also died just about a year prior to his son).  But the tears are a necessary and healing part of grief.
My aunt also told me that another cousin has gone to collect her daughter in a small city and take her to the big city of Edmonton, Alberta. The daughter is having some serious health issues and needs a specialist's examination.
It is always sad to hear of others who are suffering but I thank God we can turn to him with our problems and concerns.


I've also been checking up on various people in Kenya. 
Rumour has it that the President may be bringing in some harsher restrictions next week because of the rising Covid 19 numbers in Kenya.  After many months of low numbers of Covid 19 infections, their numbers are rising rather dramatically each day and that is why I'm expecting more stringent restrictions in the country though the restrictions were only loosened about 2 weeks ago.
On the missions side of things I've been trying to keep ahead of things to ensure that the people we're trying to help have a bit of money to at least by a bit of food in case they are not permitted to go shopping. Some people are harvesting crops right now. Mainly corn or maize that is a staple of the diet but I am not sure if the corn and other crops we planted awhile back are ready since we planted a bit late.
 I really think it is too early yet for the harvest but hopefully in another month or so.
It is always a scramble to ensure that people have the funds for the medicine or for a bit of food especially if mobility is restricted. In Kenya there will be very little warning before high level decisions with wide reaching ramifications are made.  We do our best to prepare within our means.
People continue to suffer there in a myriad of ways and everyone is coping as best they can.
At least in Canada and the USA the governments have been giving out money to help in a variety of different ways. In Canada not everyone gets the same help and there is nothing like a stimulus cheque. This is a different approach to our neighbours to the south who I think receive a sizeable cheque (or two) regardless of their income or impact of Covid 19 on their work.
I'm grateful to live in a country where the government tries to help it's citizens.


I leave you with a few photos from the breaking of morning on Thursday.

I absolutely love the way the sun is hitting the clouds from underneath and casting such a beautiful glow.

Even the dark clouds have some very interesting formations.

The ever present sea gulls are out as always every morning at this time doing their daily fly by.

I hope you are all doing well and finding something of joy during these unique times and challenging times.

Stay safe.
Thank you for stopping by.

Linking up with Skywatch Friday this week.

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