Plan once, shop twice

I guess you could say this was our first official day here at the orphanage and the welcomes continued. There were lots of hugs as the Aunties we worked with last time came on for their shifts. We spent most of the day shopping, buying supplies and planning for our projects ahead of us. We met with our hosts and discussed what the most important things that needed to be done. Some of the projects are to large and complicated for our short visit and some we will begin and go as far as we can go.

Kakamega Town

Jack, our driver, took us to Kakamega in a borrowed car that had its share of ailments, but made it back safe and sound. Our first stop was the tile shop. We have been asked to continue the work we did in the children’s play room and tile the cement dining room. It is another fairly large room – 14×28.

We dragged George along and between Jack and George we were able to find and communicate what we needed. I will be posting the fundraising site tomorrow to help pay for the materials with of course the labor by yours truly and Mr. Tom.

20 Liters of Cooking Oil

Next stop was the food+everything-else-store. We needed to buy food and water for our first week. We also asked what the home needed and the ask was some of the basic staples – cooking oil, sugar, diapers, laundry and bar soap. Industrial sizes, please!

Can it all fit? All but the tile – back tomorrow with a truck to pick it up

On our way back we had to make our way around there HUGE trackers pulling giants wagon 14 foot long just harvested sugar cane. Because the tractors were going so slow, folks along the street would walk up to it and pull a rod out. It did not seem to bother the driver LOL. No, I did not ask what they make with sugar cane — who would ask that? For those that are asking, yes, it is sugar. We later found out that because of recent weather conditions since 2020 Kenya has been able to increase their crop growth by 50% and is helping many farmers.

What would a home away from home be without a cat and of course with the Cat Whisperer in residence we have one.

Another special blessing

Tonight around 830 as we were sitting in our room making plans for the next day we heard this beautiful sound of African women singing in harmony coming across the grounds. It was the Aunties in a devotion. Tom, George and I went over to peer in the window and listen. They were standing in a circle singing in perfect harmony, eyes closed and arms stretched out wide. After the song they each turned around, kneeled and leaned on a chair and prayed out loud. It was a moment I will not forget.

Busted……..

Yesterday’s mantra was Bukura or Bust and today’s is BUSTED. We headed back to the airport at 7am for our flight to Kisumu.   As I mentioned yesterday, George is with us, and this is his very first air flight. It was a quick flight and we were only in the air for 35 minutes from take-off to touchdown.  His favorite part was being above the clouds and was sad when we had to go descend.  He handled like a pro and is looking forward to many more flights – especially to see New York city someday.

Bust #1 = What is Wrong Officer?

Lauren and Jack were temporarily detained on their way to get us from the airport. They were stopped for a “safety check” and had to have the nice policemen go through some quick inspections. Well, wasn’t it just their luck that they were able to pay for the infraction right there and then without having to go to court.

Bust #2 = Are We On Fire?

Something you really don’t want to be asking going up a hill just outside the airport. We were told that the home’s car was not in good shape and that we would need to look at it while we were there. And when I say we I mean Tom. This car is extremely important to get to the store, church, medical appointments and school for the children. Without it they need to take public transport, taxies or a PikiPiki. Well, sometimes the lord wants you to experience things first hand to enhance your convictions to serve. Thank you lord, I know what goes on the fundraising list.

What happened next was just your typical car break down scenario. Someone waits for the tow and the rest take an UBER-like-service. We were still 30 miles away and had the most lovely conversation with our driver. The President, National Assembly and Senate are in August and it is primary time in Kenya. The Kenyan elections have proven to be a volatile time in the country with decisions coming down to tribal lines which have escalated to extreme violence from the losing side. He explained to us the situation and I have to be honest it did not seem so different than how we act towards others in our own country for having different political beliefs. It is a fairly new democratized society and he and others are hoping for a more calmer outcome.

Bust # 3 = Bubbles of Course

We got to Rehema and it was like we never left. I will be sharing more of the grounds with you throughout the week. This afternoon was to unpack, see if the kids remembered us and introduce our self to the 9 new babies that have joined the family. What better way to start back up the relationship but some good ole’ bubble busting. It was great to see them having fun and hearing their laughter.

Yes, there are 9 new babies in the home and it literally is all hands on deck – or on the floor in this case. There are two Aunties at anyone time taking care of these children and the other 25 others. At anyone time there is someone that needs something. This is the scene when I brought them the toys that Rachel Dewey bought them. When I arrived they had no toys and as you can see they are all playing with something. Thank you Rachel, more pictures to come and Mark and Michelle say hi!

At the End of the Day — not a total bust, but a blessing.

Every night at 7 is the children’s devotional time where there are songs in praise of God and thankfulness to Jesus. A reading of the bible and a special prayer from Aunt Karen and it is off to bed for them all — and us.

Bukura or Bust

It is Thursday, 530pm in Nairobi and our first flight left at 730am yesterday and we still have a ways to go to get to Bukura. We were thrilled that everything went smoothly so far. The flights from Rochester to Boston to JFK to Nairobi were all on time. Even, our four 50lb-stuffed-to-the-brim suitcases, and Manny’s walker arrived.

200lbs of donated materials

Toto (who gets this?)

And just as we came out of the airport it started to rain. Mathew our driver said that we are blessed since the rain happened as soon as we arrived. Well, it is the rainy season, but we choose to believe it any way. Speaking of the rainy season(s) we are in the “long rains” from late April, May to early June. The typical pattern is for rain to fall as a torrential downpour, lasting perhaps half an hour to an hour, with the sun then coming out and drying the wet ground in minutes. It will be interesting to experience this.

Our driver took us to our B&B for the night and we were met with Michele and Mark Tewksbury, missionaries at the Nairobi Rehema Home who took us to exchange dollars into shillings, get a sim card and lunch to catch up on everything that has been going on since we were here two years ago.

Tomorrow we are up at 6am to catch a flight to Kisumu and then and 1 1/2 drive to Bukura. We are bringing with us a special guest. George Mwangi is graduate of Rehema Home Nairobi and is employed by the organization as their communications manager. He has never been on a plane or been to Bukura. I suggested that he come with us to gather photos and video’s of the home for him to use in his work. I am looking forward to seeing the kids and the home and discover what my next two weeks will hold.

Had My Phil of Scotland

Thursday we took the train to Glasgow from Fort William. It took a little under 4 hours making stops along the way. At one point it followed The Way and we could see some hikers on the trail.

In Glasgow we got our NEGATIVE quick rapid test at an esthetician place that Liz found. They do offer it at the airport but wanted to give ourselves some breathing room. Quick cab ride to a hotel and when we got to the room there was a birthday card and treats from the hotel. I can not say enough wonderful things about the people we met in Scotland. By far one of the nicest places I have been too.

Genesis Concert

I have always been a fan of Genesis and Phil Collins. Another bucket list checked off on the trip with 8th row seats at the Hydro.

The SSE Hydro

It was incredible and just the perfect ending to an amazing trip. We found out later that they canceled the rest of the UK leg due to band members having COVID. We lucked out for sure.

Phil singing Fading Lights.

So you know that these are the days of our lives,
So remember

Yes, I will.

Thank you all for coming along with us on this journey of inspirational sites and sounds , and people and places. Until next time…..🙏

Fort William a dhà

Ahhhhhh. We slept in had breakfast and toured this lovely town. Fort William is rich in history dating back to 1600’s. For us it was time for slow walking and shopping.

The B&Bs along Loch Etive are just beautiful and only a 5 minute walk into town. It was also a sunny day which made the day even more special.

This is our B&B and the hostess could not have been nicer and our rooms beautiful.

Our B&B
View from the front of our B&B

COVID Update: we need to get another test amd be negative to get back on the plane to US. We made an appointment at a pharmacy in Fort William but turns out that the kind of antigen test we need was not offered. We know they offer them at the airport but did not want to take the risk of a long line so we decided to take the earlier train tomorrow morning to Glasgow and find one there.

Fort William

We started out extra early since we knew we had a long 15+mile day ahead of us. We are tired, sore and blistered but eager to get this last leg of our journey done. The first 4 were up and up and up out of Kinlochleven.

The next 8 were a wonderful hike through a pass. The sun was out the whole time and we would stop to chat with the fellow hikers who we had been with for the last week. Some were heading home, some were spending the next day climbing Ben Nevis and some continuing on The Great Glen Way to Inverness.

We stopped for a picnic lunch when Ben Nevis started to come into view. Ben Nevis is the Mt Marcy of the UK standing at 4,413 feet. Though a bit smaller it looks massive without trees.

Ben Nevis

With 3 miles to go it was all down hill.

A birthday call

We never have our phones on and keep them in airplane mode when a minute after this picture was taken my phone rang. How? I have no idea. It was my Mom and Dad singing Happy Birthday to me. It was the best present.

Liz captured the moment of me talking
Fort William in site!

Of course, the last 2 miles it rained to remind us where we were but we pushed on until we saw the official line and a statue.

“Man With Sore Feet”
The official pic
How we feel

We went out for a wee dram to celebrate our accomplishment. What an amazing journey and could not have spent my birthday any better. It was a bonnie one for sure. Thank you to all of you who sent messages along the Way. Love to you all.

We had not seen a thistle the whole trip and just as we were ending our journey we spotted one. It is the country’s national emblem as if the WHW was saying “brilliant, Karen and Liz well done”

Kingshouse to Kinlochleven

9 miles_23000 steps

We finally saw one of the big 5. Liz got a bit friendly with it.

Giddy up and take me to Kinlochleven.

Ok so did I…..

Hi there, I’m stag are you?

After another wonderful breakfast we headed off to Kinlochleven on a trail promising spectacular views. It didn’t start out that way…..here is what we were supposed to see at the start and what we saw.

A couple miles down the road and across from Buachaille we had a small mountain to climb ourselves with the name of the devil’s staircase. The pictures don’t do it justice of the ascent and the amount of serpentine turns we had to take to get to the top. With every turn the mountain behind us became more visible – sort of.

Think Stid Hill!
Yippee – made it, and now what?

Well as we know what goes up must come down. The next 5 miles was walking through a combination of Machu Picchu/Andes and Pyrenees with a little bit of Jurassic Park thrown in. We did not have rain for most of it – but there was a lot of fog so we did not see as much as we could, but what we did was spectacular.

We ended up with the last 2 miles in the rain coming into a darling little town, I believe, known for aluminum smelting. Unfortunately, the aluminum museum was closed- Liz was disappointed.

We called it an early night (it is 9pm as I write this and turning in) to get ready for our 15 mile birthday last day hike. See you in Fort William.

Inveroran to Kingshouse and Outlander Alert

10 miles, 24000 steps

We hated to leave the Inveroran Hotel but had to get on our way. There are a variety of ways that “walkers” can walk “The Way”. You can what they call wild camping where you can set up your tent along the way. You can also make a reservation at a camp site which are typically near an Inn and offer a separate sheltered area to sit, dry off and have your meals. What we did was book through a company called MacsAdventures.com. They made our reservations at bed and breakfasts and even offered a service to transport our luggage from place to place. This way we only had to carry a daypack. Each location has been different but all of them offer a hot shower, a comfy bed and hot tea and Scottish shortbread (not to mention adult beverages).

Today took us on old military roads (constructed in the Scottish during the middle part of the 18th century as part of an attempt by the British Government to bring order to a part of the country which had risen up in the Jacobite rebellion of 1715) through the Rannoch Moor – 50 square miles of boggy moor. It started out pouring rain and then:

Hello sunshine.

The sun came in an out for most of the trip through the moor with sites of rainbows along the way.

We got to the Kingshouse Hotel at the base of Buachaille Etive Mor. It was rainy like sideways rain that we could not get a good shot of the mountain. We will try in the morning.

From our restaurant site – why would they put conifers and sitting in front of the view?
Ho Hum

Outlander Alert:

For all you fans this is where they filmed the beginning scenes. Glencoe appears in the opening credits of every Outlander episode. With stunning mountainous scenery, it provides a perfect example of the rugged beauty of the Scottish highlands. … Having defeated the Jacobite uprising of 1689-90, the British Government had to police the Scottish highlands.

Ok, well they do have WiFi

Today’s hike was short compared to the days before – only 9 miles and it was a breath of fresh air on our feet and legs. We had mostly military road to walk on and the sites were glorious

All along the trail our friends would be there encouraging us on or asking: why?

The rain held off for most of the day. We stopped many times in amazement on where we were and what we were doing.

With every hardship there is a side that we don’t always see. I try to look at the positive side of everything and believe that our lord shows it to us if we choose to see it.

We came across a little village called Bridge or Orchy. It was the first time we saw a sign in Gaelic. It had a train stop a hotel, community center and yes, a bridge.

The bridge.

We loved that this town was so concerned for our safety.

The last mile or so is always the hardest especially when you can see your hot shower in the distance.

Inveronan Hotel

It is a bed and breakfast in the middle of the highlands and a little place of heaven. It is run by a couple and a bartender from Hungary. They have been working everyday since the beginning of the season in April and will be shutting down in two weeks for the winter.

When we arrived we were asked to bring down our wet clothes for the drying room and what we would like to have for dinner and our packed lunch the next day.

There are only 9 rooms and booked a season in advance. We were able to get in because of our late season booking.

Having dinner like this on a long distance hike is incredible and we enjoyed every bit of it from the Haggis to the steak and Guiness pie to the sticky toffee cake and ice cream.

Good night deer .