16 April, 2014

Chili Paneer and Happiness

  So my handsome, red blooded husband is a carnivore...

 He never had a vegetarian dish that he liked well enough to do without the meat. He had some delicious vegetarian dishes but he always said that it still needed meat. Until Africa and chili paneer. In all fairness, paneer is an asian thing, which in Kenya means Indian. Very confusing at first as i thought of asian as being chinese but no, here it means Indian, as in India Indian. There are some PHENONOMAL asian restaurants in Kisumu and their food makes my saliva run just thinking about it. Buttered Naan, Lollipop chicken with a cilantro-garlic sauce, chicken makhini, and the list goes on and on. I think asian (remember, not chinese, indian) food is one of my favorites. I also think God may be calling us to India next to serve in the food industry. I could hand tracts out while i either serve food or eat it.

  For those of you, especially the skeptics, paneer is a kind of cheese that does not melt and takes on any flavor that you cover it with. You guessed it, chili paneer is covered in a chili (the vegetable) type sauce but nothing like american chili sauce. No, it's not a slab of cheese covered in chili like a chili dog gone bad, and paneer is so very not mennonite but we are proof that mennonites can not only enjoy, but DELIGHT in vegetarian food. There's many different ways of making paneer and i've even had it in recipes where i thot it was chicken breast pieces only to realize later it was paneer. But tonight the paneer was cubed and dipped in a batter and then fried in oil.

Yes, it was healthy because good food makes us happy and we need to be happy for our health. Paneer+breading+oil=happiness. If only it was that easy, aye?
Marlin then sautéed onions, garlic and ginger, and red peppers in sesame oil

 and when it was sautéed to perfection he added chili sauce, cilantro and other things...

I don't know what the "other things" were because Marlin doesn't really follow rules when it comes to cooking and i didn't hover over him. Hovering might affect the results and besides, he and Zac were the ones doing the cooking and i didn't want to hang around too close because i have very little control when it comes to taste testing.

I hate getting kicked out of my own kitchen so i chose to retire for a bit, only going back in to snap pictures and relieve the pan of a few pieces of paneer when the cooks weren't looking. The small cook was ok with the taste tester trying a few pieces but i had to watch out for the bigger one. He has a mean pinch.

       There it is in all it's spicy, delicious glory. We had it with a side of brown, jasmine rice and cabbage salad. Cabbage salad is another insanely simple but delightful dish that Kenya has introduced us to. At every restaurant it's served on the side in one form or another. You take cabbage (obviously), thinly sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, and chopped cilantro. Just for your info, if you don't like cilantro my heart aches for you but if you really hate it you can leave it out. For the people who have worked through their cilantro issues, put lots of it in there and then toss it with fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt.

   We gathered around the table for prayer, opened our eyes, and with a loud whooshing sound the food was gone. Or something like that. Please don't try this recipe at home. To really get the full effect you need to have the proper atmosphere which would be at our house. We will look forward to seeing you soon. :)

16 March, 2014

I have been to the Mara...

I have watched the Masai dance, or maybe it's called jumping.....i have been asked to jump along. I declined.

I have seen a mother lion with her two cubs.....

I have watched cheetahs soaking up the sun....

I have seen the hippos snorting in the water....

Giraffes meandering behind our Land Rover.......

 A baby zebra getting his morning "chai".....

I have heard tales of my "warriors" stalking rhinoceros.

Momma Elephant and not so little baby...

I've looked across the African Savannah and felt my heart overwhelmed at a God who created such beauty.

And i've been operated on in a Kenyan hospital.

To think that i used to be afraid i would turn 90 and look back at my life and think "boring."

To think i used to believe the christian life would be an endless stream of babies, sermons, and rules.

From the beginning it was a trip that promised to be interesting. We were headed to the Mara with Marlin's parents, his married sister Loisann, her husband Anthony, and their baby daughter, Eliana.

We were anxious to sink our eyes into the kind of wildlife that we'd only seen at zoos or the National Geographic. But getting there was a bit of an adventure. The roads were National Geographic worthy, with mere paths at some points and rock strewn at others. We passed curious Kenyans and filled the van up with diesel at a village gas station, surrounded by mud houses and smiling people. 

After miles of tortuous bumps, we questioned our sanity and thot perhaps we would experience the wildlife without a guide or a place to sleep. But at long last, after passing various blanket wrapped Masai and their herds of cattle and sheep, we arrived at Fairmont Safari Club. 

It was beautiful, everything we'd hoped for. The lodge was gorgeous, and the chai delicious. Our beds were soft, the linens spotless white and the rooms impeccably decorated. Chai, coffee, and hot chocolate were brought to our door every morning before the safari drive, 
and hot water bottles were gently placed in each bed. 
While we were out adventuring, our beds were made and every meal was a culinary delight. 

Ahh, let the pampering begin with some wildlife scenery on the side...

I should've known better.

We headed out that first morning at 6:30 in the early chill, wrapped in our own Masai blankets, and oohed and ahhed over giraffes, cheetahs, cape buffalo, lions, and all kinds of antelope.

It was a grand adventure and i thought often at how amazing my life is that i'm in Africa,
seeing things that most people only dream of.

We headed back to the club at around 8:30 for a breakfast buffet 
and some glorious swimming in the pool. 

Unfortunately mid morning our privacy was shattered as several bus loads of people arrived and decided to soak up some sun for themselves. The afternoon drive wasn't til 3:30 so there was plenty of time to just be lazy and dream of seeing leopards and rhinos.

We ate yet more food at lunch but for some reason i wasn't hungry. And i started feeling very grouchy. How strange, i thought, to be grouchy on vacation. We sat for a bit after lunch, waiting for everyone to finish eating when i felt a sharp pain in the right side of my stomach. By the time i got back to our tent i could barely stand up right. While the rest of the family headed out on safaris, snapping pictures of the big five, I lay sweating in our soft bed with it's spotless linens. My personal adventure had begun.

Long story short, i ended up at Tenwek hospital the next afternoon, poked and prodded, and finally wrapped in an operating gown with broken strings. The rest of our crew headed home while the doctors prayed over my woozy self and then relieved me of my appendix. I woke up puking and gagging, and have a faint memory of a row of people saying, "one, two, three," as they lifted me off of the operating table onto a bed. I again woke up with more puking and a hazy view of Marlin hovering over my bed like some kind of very earthly angel. And then the nurse with the blessed anti-nasuea medicine that knocked me out cold. I remember various wakings and an old Masai man with dangling ear lobes in the bed next to me, mumbling through his oxygen mask. I can still hear the nurses chuckling over his begging for chai but i remember more their gentleness and kindness. I also remember the bedpan. I'd rather not relive that part. Some things you just don't plan for.

But God is good, the appendix operation could've have been much more intense, and i'm now left with memories of not only African wildlife, but of what it's like to be a patient in a hospital while surrounded by another culture. Not everyone gets to have rows of people stare in amazement as the white woman hobbles to the toilet while clutching the back of her gown. Neither do they get to see the looks of interest when the same white woman grabs a top sheet off the emergency room bed and uses it to wrap around her aching torso and bare legs in a desparate attempt at modesty. And even in my pain and operating gown embarrassment, i knew that someday i would look back and not trade the experience for anything. My life is rich and full, sometimes to the breaking point, and i really hope and pray that i can stay out of hospitals and away from surgeons with sharp knives, but at the end of the day, i'm glad to be me.

Saved by grace, held in the arms of God. A person in love with Jesus and a heart full of tears and laughter, valleys and mountaintops. Somehow it is all working to make His glory shine brighter and if it can shine through this human mess of inflamed appendixes and scratchy legs, it's worth it all.

01 March, 2014

Sadness......and Joy

  It is almost midnight and i should be sleeping but i'm not. Obviously. Today some dear friends of ours had their 5th child.....first daughter. We are so excited for them and then Marlin showed me the picture of their precious baby and i felt my heart go raw all over again.

  I don't think i'm very good at this journey of grief. I don't feel like i'm walking through a dark valley with no light. My days are filled with laughter and normal living and i worry i'm not grieving enough. Maybe i'm shallow or refusing to allow myself to feel the pain. And then next thing i know i'm holding a fuzzy pink blanket with Hadassah's name on it, telling Jesus how much i miss her and how badly i want to hold her. And i wonder if maybe i'm not letting go.

  Maybe there's not a "right" way to do this. Grief comes and then fades as life demands my full attention until something triggers it and pain washes over me in all its salty pain. I cry, and then i stop because all i can think of is how amazing it must be to be Hadassah and how God makes no mistakes. I have prayed for years that i would have a childlike faith and when it happens i'm stunned. God is answering my prayers, i can trust Him, and why am i surprised. Like everything else, there's no perfect formula to healing. Just trust in a perfect God.

  I think its maybe like Emily said. When she saw the picture of that precious baby girl, she went into her room, laid her head on her desk and cried. The sadness and screaming whys came all over again. And then she did the right thing. She asked God to please fill her with peace and "mom, He did. It came in waves, like a flood, and washed over me." Her eyes shone with joy and peace, while ringed with sadness. The kind of sadness that gives a person depth because it ties heart strings to Jesus. He is not only tying heart strings with Emily, He's tying them with her mother and because of that, i can go to bed knowing that He's got the whole journey of grief figured out and all i need to do is walk with Him.

 And so, good night.

26 February, 2014

My Little Sister - by Emily

Hadassah's grave
I stared at mom as she told me they were going to the hospital. Mom had been leaking fluid and having cramps the last few days. Now my mind quickly went back to what mom was saying.

   "I know dear, i don't want to go either."

    Dad came and they left. We were bored as we were waiting. We were planning on having supper at our friends house. Then we got the call we were to go home. I raced home with Levi, happy they were home, but my happiness was destroyed as i saw mom crying and dad crying. We sat there as they cried and i gave my brother a look like, "what's happening?" Then i knew. They were crying over our unborn baby girl. My emotions went and i sobbed as they told us our sweet baby would die.

  "No! it can't be happening. She will be fine."

   They told us she had anencephaly. To me i couldn't understand. I had prayed for a baby sister as long as i can remember. When we found out she was a girl we were overjoyed! But our plans were devastated. The day we found out that evening the compound came over to pray with us. I felt God's amazing love and presence those very painful days.

   Two hours from us there is a christian hospital. A christian doctor, his wife and their 3 boys lived at Hospital Tenwek. They had a place for us to stay. Mom and dad left on saturday and we left on monday. We had a relaxing time in spite of the condition. We waited for our baby girl. Thursday noon Hadassah Faith Weaver came into this world. I was called first to go see her. With mixed emotions i went. She was the most beautiful little girl i had EVER seen. One by one my seven rowdy brothers came to see her for the first and last time. I had a hard time giving her up. She was put in her little box. November 21, 2013 was her birthdate. She was laid to rest on November 27.

  Our family has grieved over her lots of times, but we know she's somewhere so much better than earth. Yes, it still hurts at times, and i miss her like crazy! I would NEVER give her up for anything in the world. We are all praying for another pair of tiny feet to add to our house of many weavers! It's been two months since our little Hadassah died.

   It's time to close up my little story about her. We love her and always will.

  ~Emily Paige Weaver

I love Hadassah Faith Weaver
~In loving memory of her~                                                                    
Emily at Hadassah's grave with the cross she made and the flowers she so very carefully placed around and on it.

24 February, 2014

Dishon and his Homeland

  Dishon is a friend of ours who sits at our table every saturday evening and eats supper with us. He's in medical school, his schooling paid by a donor from the states and the mission has helped him out in other ways. He's an orphan, or we think he is, but whatever, the family lines are long and complicated. So he has taken a real liking to Grandma Weaver and requested that we visit his homeland. Today was the big day and by the time we rattled back into our compound late afternoon i think we were all exhausted. There is something about traveling and visiting in Kenya that takes the sap out of a person. But it was a good day and an excellent cultural experience for Grandma.

  We began by visiting where he was born and where his grandmother still lives. It seemed to be inhabited mostly by women but i'm assuming that's because it was midmorning. This is where the language barrier is FRUSTRATING, but Dishon was happy to translate. They served us a feast of mandazis, twisted into fancy shapes, along with chai, roasted and salted peanuts, and cooked "cooking" bananas.  I wasn't hungry before and was plain stuffed afterwards. Of course you have to pray as soon as you enter the house and pray before you leave. We also sang them "Amazing Grace" and with many smiles and handshakes we headed off to where he grew up. Before i forget, Dishon's "mother" or aunt, had walked almost 30 miles from her home to the grandparents to let the family know we would be there this morning. Five hours of walking.........see why there's no changing our minds?

  Dishon's "mother" is a teacher so we stopped at the school where she teaches. LOVE those gorgeous dark faces, all shining with smiles and excitement.

 It's a primary school so the children are quite young, altho i was impressed with all the posters on the walls. Looked almost like an american school except for the desks.....and the walls.......and pretty much everything. :)

Oops, how did that white face slip in there???

    After they sang a song for us and we sang "If you're happy and you know it" we continued heading for Dishon's home place. That's where the real party was to begin. After driving over some very narrow and very rough trail/roads we pulled into the home dala. We were ushered into a room where all the furniture was covered in spotless cloths, embroidered with maroon flowers. You can imagine what they looked like til we left. People started arriving and shaking our hands and some little old mamas sat and watched us, smiling and apologizing through Dishon that they couldn't speak english. Then the food arrived.
Mashed cooking bananas, some kind of bitter plant cooked in milk, chicken, beef.......

Ugali, and cooked rice, followed by some very sweet bananas for dessert. We barely made a dent in the food, still being full from our feast just an hour or two before. We ate alone with Dishon, since no one eats with the guests of honor. 

After lunch we headed outside to hand out Bible storybooks and Bibles. People had arrived from all over the place and they loved the gifts. Americans have a hard time understanding the Kenyans love for anything literature.
Caleb handing out Bible storybooks. I just loved the traditional kitombas on the women's heads. In the interior the people are very modest for the most part and the women's heads are covered. Love it. 

One of the many children.....notice the hedge surrounding the dala. Love it but have no clue what it is. 
Then it was time for pictures. Kenyans LOVE having their pictures taken and everyone swarmed around to get in on the action. And then they needed pictures with the white missionaries.

Next? Gift giving. Caught us a bit off guard when they started handing out chickens to the 4 little ones. And ground nuts for the grandma. 
Can i just say that my mother in law is THE BEST missionary ever with her sweet spirit? They LOVE her! 

Second best missionary ever........holding the large chicken that they gave Daddy Weav. Standing beside him is Dishon's "father" (uncle?) 
We took this one home with us. 

And the future Jesus soldiers, holding up their beloved new pets that they informed me they had been praying for. ??

And when we thot we were ready to leave they come carrying three little cypress trees that we were to plant, in memory of our being there. 
Marlin planting his cypress.....

Then the mama of the family.......

And last but certainly not least, Grandma. (forgive the lady in orange, not sure how she managed to get in there.) 

And THEN, the father/uncle (please don't ask me to explain that whole "is it father/uncle, mother/aunt".....way to confusing) asked Marlin if we cook cassava and he said yes! I'm like, "we do???" He said he's had it and yes, we will cook it. So off they trot and harvest a TREE, whose roots are called cassava and apparently you cook and eat it. So after that was hacked apart and safely stowed away in the "boot" of the van, along with chickens and a huge hangar of bananas....and don't forget the avocados and papayas...... we finally headed towards Kisumu. Oh wait, first we had to traipse back into the house and they sang a wonderful Luo song complete with clapping for us and then they thanked us for taking care of Dishon for them and after praying again, we at long last climbed into the long suffering vehicle. Between the poopy diaper bouncing in the back, the squawks of the chickens and the hearty singing of 4 little weaver monkeys, we came home exhausted and with pounding heads. But it was worth it and and an experience i'm grateful for. It is considered a great honor to host the americans in their homes and it is so very humbling for these americans to be treated with such respect. May we show them Jesus who cares not that we are white and them black but cares only that we love and serve Him. 

20 February, 2014


Each year our mission board sends a delegation to Kenya, and each year they take the compound out for a very nice meal  to a place called Kiboko Bay Resort right by Lake Victoria. The children run by the lake and on the dock while we old people sit and watch. We preorder our food so there's not such a long waiting. Usually people try to go early to watch the sunset over the water but last evening it was too cloudy and very windy. 

They also have sleeping "huts" that you can see in the background. 
Grandma and little Levi. But just in case you think his attitude is as small as his stature, i'm here to assure you the terrible two's are in full swing. Ah, but we love him!! 

Me and my little sweetheart friend, Ayla. She likes me but she likes my diaper bag even more.  Sometimes i have gum and i'm not above bribing to win a few minutes of holding her. Her and Levi are the best of friends and when he sees her picture he gets excited and starts shouting, "Lala!" 
Hmm, those boys look quite familiar. Such handsome young men! So energetic and SO NAUGHTY!! 
The rarely played with tractors and skid loaders
Joshua with his homework and his worn through knees......always worn through knees! He is such a sweetheart, bringing me cards and hugs when i'm sick. 

Emily and her friends. Giggling, as always. 

Levi and his skid loader
Jonathan's treasures, Weaver bird nests. Seriously, they are called Weaver Birds and we have lots of them in our yard. How ironic.