Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Simple Homemade Nativity

Tonight I decided to make a simple Nativity set that some of my Turkana kids can put together next week. I have a few boys coming to help me put up my tree and decorate.  The next day a few girls will come over and make some cookies.  I thought it would be fun if each of the kids could make their own Nativity to take home.  The problem is that I don't have any craft materials here and I can't find them in town.  

So, I had to put my creative hat on and use what I have.  What do I have?  I have colored plastic clothes pins, matches and some match boxes if I take all the matches out, some small cotton balls, some old tin bottle caps (brownish gold in color if I scratch off the coke logo), some white card stock, a stapler, glue  and some old rags/ material.  

The match box can obviously become either a baby or a manger.  I kinda made it be the baby and the manger all in one.  I drew on the goldish/brown bottle cap a face with the eyes closed for sleeping.  I covered the match box with some material and opened it up.  I stuffed part of it with wadded up paper and glued some cotton balls to the bottle cap and the edge of the bottom of the match box.

For Mary and Joseph I drew a semi-circle with a tab in the middle at the top on the card stock.  If you make this, make sure to make the semi-circle a little bigger than your clothes pin.  You need Mary and Joseph to sit on this card stock and not the clothes pin.  I made a pattern to use for this and the clothes.  Then I cut out the card stock and material to match the pattern.  I laid the cloth over the card stock and wrapped it around until the two edges met in the back to make a cone.  Then I stapled the cloth/card stock together.  You don't have to fix the cloth to the card stock as the staple will hold them together at the bottom.  The tab at the center top of the card stock and cloth will be pushed inside the cone and your clothes pin will grab the tab and hang down in the center of the cone.

As you can see in this picture, I glued a match stick to a bottle cap.  I am going to use this as the head.  I think I will put a cotton ball between two bottle caps and glue them together.  That way, I can still have a brownish/gold colored face for Mary and Joseph instead of white.  I can also then draw a face on them.  I am not finished yet as I am waiting for the glue to dry.  The white paper coming out of the top of the cone (in the 1st picture above) will be replaced by the matchstick and bottle cap faces.  The match stick will go in the top of the clothes pin along with the card stock/ cloth tab and be grabbed by the clothes pin.

So, there is my simple Nativity set.  If you have any ideas to make it better before Tuesday - let me know!  I will have stuff cut out for the little kids and probably have the match stick/ bottle cap faces done except for drawing the faces.  That way they can be taken home the same day they are made.  My glue is not quick drying so I need to do that ahead of time.

I think this will be fun for the kids and give them something to decorate their homes with too.  So, that is my simple project.  It doesn't take a lot of time and gives them something fun that they made.  I will get to see if I am correct next week.  I'll take some pictures and let you know.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cooking Thanksgiving - Turkana style

Happy Thanksgiving!  As you wake up this morning, I will be putting the finishing touches on my part of our Thanksgiving feast.  We are celebrating in the evening as it is just a normal workday here in Turkana.

Here is a small wordy glimpse into how I have to cook.  Turkey does not do well here in the heat.  Every time we have tried to cook it, someone or many someones have gotten sick.  It is also very expensive.  So, the main meat of choice is now chicken or ham.  Today we will have roasted Chicken.  My teammate, Melba Morden, will be fixing that.  My job is to fix the green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, my grandma's apple salad and to bring the cranberry sauce.

The canned cranberry sauce can be found in Nairobi in Feb-July.  You have to hunt for it and then save it up for the holidays.  It costs about $4 a can.  I was recently in Nairobi (2 days drive from Turkana) and found some canned condensed mushroom soup.  I almost jumped up and down in the aisle of the grocery store!  We hardly ever find this, so I bought 3 cans.  It was $1.60 a can, but worth the price even if it was the reduced salt variety (better for me anyway - right? :/ ).  Normally, I have to make it from a knorr packet.  That has to be cooked and doesn't taste quite the same.  Plus it adds about 30 minutes to the cooking time because the packet has to be mixed with water and cooked until it is the right consistency.  So, I was very happy to find the can!

I confess I brought back some things to help make the holiday meals a little easier when I was in the States last Christmas.  I brought back a can of french fried onions for the green bean casserole.  I tried to make them last year from scratch and got a soggy but tasty substitute.  It worked, but I am happy to have the can.  I had to keep it in my freezer so that the oil in the onions didn't go rancid in the heat.  I also brought a can of pumpkin for making a pumpkin pie.  I happily turned that over to Melba because I don't do very well with pie crusts from scratch.

The sweet potato casserole brings its own challenges.  We do sometimes find sweet potatoes here in the small shops in Lodwar.  I found some yesterday.  The thing is, they are white on the inside not orange.  One Thanksgiving two of my teammates decided that they wanted orange sweet potatoes so they used food coloring.  At one point we had bright pink mashed sweet potatoes and we were all rolling on the floor in stitches!  They did eventually get them to be orangish.  This year I found a recipe that uses both carrots and sweet potatoes.  So, I am hoping the orange carrots will help get the color right.  This recipe calls for 1 cup of sour cream.  You can't just run out to the store and get sour cream here.  So, I use a canned cream and mix it with 2 Tbs of vinegar to make it sour.
This cream is sometimes hard to find and runs about $2 a can.  The recipe also called for 1 tsp of the zest of a lemon.  Lemons are green here.  I can find them sometimes, but I didn't think green bits would be very appealing in my sweet potatoes.  So, I looked up a substitute.  It took 2 Tbls of juice to equal 1 tsp of zest.  Marshmallows can sometimes be found in Nairobi.  I buy them and keep them in my freezer until I need them.  Today I will need them for this casserole and for the apple salad.  Pecans are also needed to top this casserole.  They are available here for about $8 for 1/8 of a pound.  So, I bring these from the States.

My apple salad is an old Hoosier recipe from my grandma Matillo.  It calls for a cooked dressing.  Thankfully, I can get almost all the ingredients here.  The dressing is made with eggs, sugar, flour, vinegar, mustard and water.  I make the sauce early in the day or the day before so it can get cold in the fridge.  I have to buy imported granny smith apples when I am in Nairobi and save them.  They are washed in bleach water to make sure they are clean and rinsed in filtered water.  Then I chop them into bite sized pieces.  I have to cut up the big marshmallows we can get here into smaller pieces - using scissors.  I keep some boiled water handy to dip the scissors in so they cut easier and don't stick to the scissors.  Then I add in peanuts and pour the sauce over it all.  If I have some celery seed I add a pinch or two of that too the whole thing.  It is hard to find whole celery seed here, so I have to keep my eyes open each time I am in Nairobi (about 5 times a year) and buy it when I see it.

So, there you have a glimpse of what cooking is like here.  I am glad I don't have to cook the whole Thanksgiving meal!  We get together as a team and with any other foreigners who might want to celebrate with us.  My teammate, Chad Harris, is making two types of dressing from scratch today.  We will also have some mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, apple pie and pumpkin pie.  I think we will be quite full at the end of the meal!

I hope you have a blessed day full of thanks and good food!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Church planting forum

Turtle Bay beach resort is named for this turtle shaped coral reef
I recently attend a CMF church planting forum.  While there I learned about the various things other church planters are doing around the world with CMF.  I got some new ideas about how to work on our teaching at the Turkana Bible Training Institute that I think will really help our students.  I am looking forward to working on that in the near future.

This was also a time to meet new friends and to reconnect with old friends.  I do not get to see many of these very often since we don't normally furlough at the same time.  This was a good time to visit and discuss ideas with other missionaries.  The forum was held at the Kenyan coast, so it was also a good time to praise the Lord for the beauty of the beach!

There was also a program for the missionary kids(MKs).  My parents (Rich & Edie) and niece (Indera) were able to help with this program before they departed for the States.  MKs who live with their parents in remote areas do not often have the opportunity to go to sunday school or VBS.  So, this was a chance for them to do that and get to know so of their fellow MKs.

some of the MKs

the kids made a cross on the beach

Over all, it was a great meeting!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On safari

Indera kissing the giraffe at the giraffe center :)

Since I had visitors, we went on a safari to the Nairobi game park and to the giraffe center.  We saw many animals and got some great pictures.  Here are a few shots from that safari.

this cub & his 2 siblings put on a show for us.

Maasai giraffe

Pin tailed tortoise
Indy cried when we first saw Zebra!

beautiful crested cranes

Friday, November 4, 2011



I have had a house full of visitors these last couple of weeks.  First I had Joshua Barron visiting.  You can read about his visit in my last post.  Half way through his visit, I had some other visitors arrive.  My parents and Cathie Groome had planned to visit in September, but had to change to coming in October and early November.  My niece decided at the last minute that she could come with them.  So, I got a big surprise when they got off the plane and she was with them!

While here, they participated in many activities.  They played with school kids almost every day.  Cathie, Dad and Indera all went at various times to the local school.  Cathie taught several classes while Dad and Indera helped or took pictures.  Mom was able to teach three Bible studies on Rahab to the women's Bible study.  The ladies had a wonderful time learning and I think Mom had a great time teaching.  They also helped me teach my English class.  My students had fun meeting and introducing themselves to them.

Here are a few pictures from their two weeks in Turkana.
Dad & a termite mound

Indy being a good Turkana woman
carrying something on her head, back
& working in the garden :)

an afternoon with some teenaged girls

Idi with Edie