Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hi all

Just wanted to let everyone know that we have arrived safely back in Canada with ALL our luggage (anyone who helped us move the luggage around will know what a miracle that is!!- it included the unicyle, 2 garden hoes, 3 slashers, 4 spears, 2 bows, 12 arrows just to mention the less usual parts).
We have been really been spoilt already on our return- a group of church family and friends had come to the house and did a thorough clean and garden clean up, left us with lots of food.
We can't thank everyone of you enough and pray that God will bless you richly.
I have the next week off to get reoriented into Canada and to get all my paperwork up to date.
Life is already getting busy again......

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hi all

This will likely be our last blog update until we get home to Canada.
As I type this in the background are the sounds of throwing up…..something we have been spared of thus far but unfortunately has caught up with us.

Robyn was sick Thurs night, Timothy on Friday night and me on Sunday night. Tonight (Tues) it is back to Timothy and now Lynne isn't doing to great. I am now being blamed for giving them medicine which has made them worse…I should have listened to the rule "never treat your own family".
We are not sure if it is viral or from the water, so have pulled out the water purification drops to add to the ultraviolet sterilization and the ceramic filtration.

Not a fun few days.

We are winding up our time here- gradually starting to pack and make plans. Mom and Dad surprised us about 4 days ago by asking if they could join us for our holiday in Lamu (we have 10 days there- about 6 hrs north of Mombasa, on the east coast).

We are very excited by this and look forward to this time together.

I am trying to think what I will remember about Kapsowar:

The beautiful scenery as I walk the 5 minutes to the hospital every morning, the lovely weather (sunny all day and then a quick rainstorm in the early evening), challenging medical diagnoses- I have had to read around cases almost every day here, the friendly locals, the anesthetist chasing flies with a fly swatter in the operating room (despite this we have a much lower post op infection rate than in Canada!!), the young boy with an ileostomy using a makeshift black plastic bag (the hospital ran out of ostomy bags), riding in a matatu (local taxi- crammed so full that people sit on the roof rack).
There are many more memories…..

The kids are counting down the days until we get back to Canada, but I do think we are all going to miss the change in pace that we have experienced out here. We have definitely had more time together as a family, which has been great

The kids have also had a wonderful time with pet chameleons.
Tim also got to see twins delivered by cesarean section with dad as the surgeon. All went well and two healthy boys were delivered. They will go next week for one more day at school with the locals. They have never been so popular!

As for me (Lynne) I will miss the wonderful people. Not a day goes by without people welcoming and smiling at you. They are an amazing nation and one I feel so privileged to get to know. I will certainly miss the friends that we have made and all the cute children. I will miss my dear friend Mary who comes to do our laundry and help with any chores. Philemon who is the hospital administrator who always has a smile and chuckle for one to enjoy. Also for all the wonderful barbecue goats meals, Robyn's favorite. Shadrack and his wife who run the mission and are always so helpful. Pastor Joseph and Enoch who are always sharing Gods grace. Rispa who loves my kids and helps out in so many ways. Charles (and his wife Christine and baby Affa) for taking us hiking, providing us with fresh chicken for dinner to mention a few of the kind ways he has served us. Edna and her strong faith. Alishia, Paul, Juliana, Kara and little Stephen who we had a short time getting to know together with all the other visitors, Dr Joy, Dr Hunt, Joe, David, Barbara, Tim, Janet, Jackie, Bill, Wayne, Andy and Deana.

The hospital and especially the cute babies. The town and market which is always a hive of activity and such fun to go to. Hiking to the orphanage and getting to sing and dance with the kids. Truly a highlight to my weekends.

The list goes on and on but before I end I would like to thank all our friends and family, our church, our neighbors, colleagues, MEI school, etc who have been praying for us and helping out in so many ways.

A special thanks to the Baer's for taking care of so MUCH. Can't thank you enough.

To Shelter for taking care of the clinic, our house and Bonnie,our dog. Also Roberta and Neil who I know have also taken Bonnie into their hands..We could never have done it without you all. We also want to say a big thank you to Samaritan's Purse. You have all been amazing.

There have been so many hands at work that have made this trip possible and we would like to say a big thank you to all of you. We have truly been blessed out here and hope that we get the chance to share some of our slides with you.

May God bless you and keep you in His mighty hand.

Here are David and Tim and friends sitting on the viewpoint up Mount Kipkinor.

Here is the panorama view from there. You can just see Kapsowar on the first hill in the middle.

Here is a local store keeper. Note the fancy wall paper. Not much on the shelves!

Here is Lynne showing off her wood gathering skills!!

Any guess what this is??

Here is a clue.
Clothes shopping at the market. Below are the vegetables at the market.

Thanks to Karl and Elizabeth for the soccer balls.

Some local kids at work and at play.

Finally sunset from our front door!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Am adding a couple more images to the blog. Went to the orphanage again today. Took our sound system and some balloons- amazing how happy the kids were given all their circumstances. The balloons were a hit as you will see. Lynne really has a gift with children!
The pictures will speak the rest. Tried to upload a clip of one of their songs- not sure if it will work.

Going wild.

Group photo

The kids showing their pet tortoise.

If anyone is inclined to come and visit, we have a nice hotel for you to stay in: "Delta Breeze".

Friday, May 16, 2008

Time to update everyone- we have spent close on three and a half weeks here already! Time is flying.

It is quite rural out here. The compound where we stay has electricity but nowhere around us has such a luxury. Hence fresh produce other than what is at the market is all you can get unless you take a 4 hr trip to Eldoret. That is, there and back but it is still a long journey. One I am reluctant to take. Fresh meat is mutton or beef but I make sure I buy it on the day it is butchered as without any refrigeration it could be scary. There are plenty of flies out here.

So far have had to do a lot of entertaining which is a challenge with very different produce but most people only realize once they are here for a little while how dynamic a meal is(even my cooking). Still I have got my kids eating lots of cabbage salad. They don't like the spinach and sukima (also a green leaf vegetable). Other than that bananas, sour oranges and papaw are the only fruit available right now. I must say I look forward to cherry season when we get back to Canada.

As for the area it is very hilly with lots of great hikes. Robyn is still a reluctant hiker.

Every hill and slope is hand ploughed and planted with corn(which is the staple diet out here). It is really beautiful and to top it the weather is hot during the day with often a thunderstorm in the evening. It comes down as a torrent but lasts only a short while. In fact the day we arrived it had rained quite heavily and the roads were very slippery. It was scary and exciting at the same time. I think we were very fortunate to arrive safely as the roads can be quite treacherous.

As for our house it is lovely. Very simple but has an amazing view looking over the valley and across onto the mountains. Dotted all over the place are houses (huts) with fields. Our kitchen is tiny and sparsely equipped but totally adequate for our stay. Only still have to work out the gas oven as one minute I burn something and then the next minute it takes forever to cook. It took me 7 hours to cook a local free range chicken and then it was still not done. It was certainly an interesting meal.

As for the kids they are doing well. Robyn is counting the days for her return to Canada. Still I think she is enjoying herself and is in constant demand to play with the compound kids. They have also acquired 3 chameleons which they feed grasshoppers to each day. Each has a name and is a prized item. Tim has them in his room and the one baby always crosses his room to settle on a bicycle. They have free range in his room something I would never allow in Canada. I always wonder if one morning he will wake up with one crawling over him but they seem to enjoy sleeping on the branches all curled up.

Most Kenyans are afraid of chameleons so when ever anyone finds one, Robyn or Tim are called to come and catch them. A huge excitement for our kids.

There are also visitors coming and going all the time here. Mainly doctors filling in for the long term doctors who are away on furlough. Right now 2 chaps from the States, age 21 are visiting with their grandpa (a surgeon 76yrs old). Take that. He is amazing but he is looking very frail as was sick for a few days. The boys are great fun as they play games with the kids and keep them amused.

As for Dave the hospital has been very short staffed and at times he has been the only doctor available. Medicine is very different out here and a lot of changes are needed. Unfortunately many habits take a long time to change and unfortunately this is difficult to do as one needs to build up confidence and an understanding of the culture, language etc. So far Dave just perseveres to do his best. Though it has been hard as patients have died that could have survived possibly if they were in North America.

As for me my days go by very fast.

I home school in the mornings which has its fun times as well as some challenges. I think I would prefer to have a set curriculum. Still I am grateful to have all I have. I took the kids to the local school where they sat in for the morning. Wow we are certainly very blessed with what we have. Going to the school is a real honor for the Kenyans and every one crowds around you. At one time I put out my hand to shake someone's hand and then had to shake everyone's hand (30 - 50 kids). The funny thing is that some of them look at their hand afterwards as though they may change colour. I tease some of them when they come back over and over again and hold on for longer as though I won't let them go.They usually break out into the most amazing smiles that could lift anyone's heart.

Tim and Robyn were both a hit in the class and were obviously the center of attraction. Both achieved well except Robyn had a Swahili lesson and did not know how to write it. The teacher teased her and said she would have to come back for a test. Manners are still a high priority in class and the children all stand and greet the teacher when they enter the class. Just how I grew up so I feel quite at home. Also they really make you feel very welcome By clapping a welcome. In class they also clap for each correct answer that is given. Tim took his African sticks to show every one which was a hit.

He was totally surrounded every time he went outside, so when he needed to move someone would yell "space" and a path was made for him. Honestly the people out here are extremely friendly and everyone you pass literally welcomes you. Some will come and take your hand and shake it, both young and old. Others who know any English will strike up a conversation with you and walk with you.

As for me I am also helping out with a Sunday school out in the field. This last Sunday we had 39 children. We sang songs and I read a story. Most of the children here are poor and may never go to school. In general though I find there are many churches and most people have heard about God. I have been so grateful to have my walkman with speakers as the children love to listen and learn songs. Even just playing music in the children's ward seems to bring in a little light or smile to patients. Some even join in and sing. We have also had the privilege of being invited to some of the local's houses. Some really poor while others are comfortable (that means they have a bed and chairs for seating). One usually gets offered chi tea which is very tasty but I am always afraid of getting ill. Our water is purified and filtered at the mission. In fact everything gets washed under the water before cooking.

Will end off and try to post lots of pictures, which will give you more an idea of where we are.

Here is Robyn's class

Here is Tim in class
Here is Lynne in her designer kitchen

Some local kids

Lynne's new baby

Here is a view over the Rift valley

Look at the budding surgeon

Robyn's birthday

What a beautiful birthday cake

Here isViolet

Charles preparing our chicken for supper

The kids collecting bugs for the chameleons

Going on a hike with Charles

Monday, April 28, 2008


Here is a short clip of Tim and Robyn's chameleon getting fed grasshoppers.
Not very good quality but the best we can do on the internet that we have....

Evidence of the unrest just outside Eldoret.

Walk to the orphanage. Reminds me of 'Sound of Music'- the cows even have bells.

Our water purification plant.

Mennonite guest house in Nairobi.

Homestead around Kapsowar.

Getting to Kapsowar- a taxi being pushed up the hill of mud.

Nairobi- doesn't do justice to the nightmare driving especially around the round abouts (traffic circles).

The orphanage is the structure in the distance.

Donkey cart in Eldoret.

Downtown Kapsowar.

Most of the planting is done on steep slopes- all the work is by hand.

Some locals wanted us to take a picture of them on one of our walks.

Just letting you know that we have arrived safely in Kapsowar.

Enjoyable flight to Nairobi, then spent the night at the Mennonite guest house and flew up to Eldoret early the next morning.
All went smoothly. We were met by the hospital ambulance (Toyota Landcruiser) who took us shopping for supplies- trying to do 2 months shopping in 1 hr is a little challenging!! He detoured past the tents where all the resettled people were staying- quite an eye opener.

We were then brought here to Kapsowar. Quite an interesting ride with the last hr being on mud and clay and fairly steep hills. We were sliding around more than once but the driver was excellent and we made it without us having to push. At one hill there was a tractor pulling up some vehicles- we were able to 'slide' down the hill as we were traveling in the opposite direction.
I can't see us getting out of here until we leave.
Everyone here is very friendly and have welcomed us warmly. We have a nice little 3 bedroom house with brown running water and surging electricity and a gas stove.

Drinking water is purified by leaving water in a clear plastic bottle in the sun for at least 4 hrs and then putting it through a ceramic filter to take out the 'brown' part.
So far so good and we remain healthy.

All the long term docs have left for periods of time- Steve Lee the medical director left early April for 6 month furlough, Bill Rhodes the surgeon left on Thurs for 6 weeks (we arrived Tues), Paul Larson left Fri to lecture in Somalia and will be gone about 10 days.
We still have a good complement of staff though- Joy arrived on Wed from the USA for 1 month and is an OBGYN, Sam is a Kenyan doctor here for 1 week and Philip arrived yesterday and is a Kenyan surgical resident here for 1 week.
There is the promise of more doctors coming so the future staffing wise looks fairly good, although things can change rapidly.

The hospital appears well run and the staff are very helpful. The most amazing thing here is that most of the staff and administration are Christian and speaking to the patients about Jesus and salvation is encouraged. I even came across a chart order from one of the clinical officers (advanced nurse that does admissions) "Referal to chaplain to discuss salvation". The chaplain seems very organized and even has a special referral form that he uses to refer the patient onto their nearest church.
So far the work has not been too overwhelming although is very different from what I was doing in Swaziland. I do not need to do obstetrics at this time as Joy is here, but I am still trying to refresh my surgical skills as Joy is leaving before we do. My C/S skills are very rusty, so it is great to have an Obstetrician to teach me.
Most of the obstetrics is done by the midwives and they only call if there are problems which generally means a C/S is needed.

Yesterday we went for a walk through town- a "strip mall" about 500m long with 'shops' both sides. Very exciting.
We are able to buy white bread and fruit in season (presently green oranges and occasional bananas). There are also potatoes and spinach and cabbage. There is lamb and beef although one wants to be there when the animal is killed as the 'butcher' shops do not have refrigeration. So we won't starve!
Also there are people coming and going fairly regularly so we should be able to supplement our supplies if we need to from Elderet.

We then walked down to a river and looped up and around. A walk of about 2 hours through the countryside. Very beautiful. We met lots of friendly locals and were even escorted by one for about 30mins- he was chatting to Lynne the whole time but I don't think she understood much!!

It is the planting season so they are all out hoeing the fields by hand. The land is very steep so must be quite challenging!
It is also the rainy season so every evening there is a heavy rainfall, but during the day so far there has been sunlight (which we need to sterilize our water).
The kids seem happy and play with the local kids in the compound. The Larson's have young kids Robyn's age but are gone for now.

Tim and Robyn have just caught a chameleon and are now in the garden looking for crickets to feed it!

This afternoon we went for a walk to a nearby orphanage (1 hr each way walking). Unfortunately most of the children were away at a church camp, but Lynne plans on returning soon to see if there is anything that she can do to help out.

We find the locals very welcoming and often had to stop on the way to shake their hands.

So I think that we will all enjoy our time here and will definitely be filling a need.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This is to Christina from Robyn- special request to show off her African colour.