Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wind, Water & the Pursuit of getting established

We've completed our second week in Timu. Right now, we're staying up there during the week and spending the weekend in Kaabong. It's nice to retreat and get away from the wind, smiling faces around our fence at 7:30 am, and cold bucket baths. We really don't mind the children, in fact, we think they're adorable. The problem with 30 children standing around our fence is that they're all yelling out our names and begging us for 'things' at the same time.
Just a glance into our living/dining room...
This is half of my kitchen. We cook on a two-burner propane stovetop. It's worked brilliantly except for the drafts of wind that escape under the door and mess with the flame. My countertop is made of cement at the moment. We wash dishes in a basin that empties into a bucket under the sink. Eventually, we'll dump the 'gray' water on a garden. Talk about going 'green'....
The day before it rained, Terrill & Ron managed to set up the 'work' tent. It protects from rain, stays warm inside and the Ik men working on the project really enjoy having a space of their own. Sadly, it only rained one day for a few hours. The next problem we encountered was the wind.
This is the tent after a particularly windy night. We can't be certain, but from the sound of the wind, we guessed it to have been around 50 mph at some points. Being on top of the escarpment doesn't help. On a brigher note, the wind keeps us cool and we rarely get overheated.
The men were really disappointed by their deflated tent and vowed to have it up the next day.

Within an hour, the six Ik men and Ron were back to collecting words and putting them into domains. Please pray that these men understand what Ron is trying to teach them.
22 women walked up and down the hill between the borehole (well) and our house with jerry cans on their heads. Their duty for the day was to fill our 2000 liter tank. They were more than grateful for the work as it adds income to the family. It's backbreaking work but they've grown up doing it and have adapted to the requirements of living in Timu. Women & children must carry water at least twice a day to meet their basic needs for living.
Terrill & Ron are cutting cedar posts that will eventually hold up a carport. We need a carport to protect the Patrol from the sun (being at a higher elevation) and to serve as a storage area for tools and such.
The next step in the process of putting up a carport was cementing the posts into the ground and drilling holes for nails. For the final work, we'll hire a carpenter to come up and finish the project.
We took our two African dogs up to Timu in order to get them used to riding in a vehicle. We also wanted to expose them to the place. They love it there and refuse to ride back to Kaabong with us. We leave them in our compound under the watchful eye of our friend, Lojore. Fujo (above picture) has already been hunting with some Ik teenagers. Their favorite activities are teasing the children and roaming across mountain paths.
This is Fujo's brother, Boots. He's the shy one. They were born ten months ago in an army barracks. A friend brought the dogs to us at one month old and we've been fattening them up ever since. They are meant to be our guard dogs at the Timu compound. The only problem is: they don't bark yet and they're way too friendly with strangers. They'll go to anyone with food.

Just another week in our lives...

Sunday, October 11, 2009


In Timu, at night, it is QUIET. Before, I thought our place in Kaabong was quiet. No TVs, no radios, no traffic, no machines, no airplanes, no refrigerator, no air-conditioner, no nothing. Now having spent four nights in Timu, I realized that Kaabong nights are noisy by comparison: an occasional vehicle coming in the night, dogs barking in neighboring villages, our dogs barking, bugs bumping against our ceiling, mice scampering across our attic, wind banging our Venetian blinds against the wall. In Timu however, the silence, like the darkness in our little hut, is almost touchable. It is like a silky, black veil draped over our senses. Fortunately, for us, so far, the silence is not laced with fear, as it has been at times in Kaabong. It is a soothing, intoxicating quietude that invites sleep. Even though the hush is sometimes tinged with the cry of a nightjar, or the stirring of our dogs, the gentle pressure of pure soundlessness keeps covering us like a soft blanket. Let us pray that one day the Ik can enjoy the quietness of their homeland without the fear of robbers in the night.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Meet some Ik

Meet Lojore Philips. He has been a good friend of ours since we first visited Lokinene last year. He will be some of our Ik 'family'. This week and next week Lojore is moving his village (manyatta, or small cluster of houses) up to the top of the ridge where our houses are. Our manyattas will be separated by a couple hundred feet of rocky outcroppings where we will sit together in the evening and watch for 'enemies' crossing the valley below. Lojore's main occupation is farming, but he also dabbles in mechanics and has shown interest in getting more training in some kind of mechanics. He likes to use tools of all kinds.

Meet Nakoru Lucia, Lojore's wife. Like Lojore, Lucia has always welcomed us in Lokinene. She has borne four or five children (we're still getting that figured out!). She spends most days fetching water from the well in the valley, taking care of young children, grinding grain for flour, and cooking one or two meals a day. We look forward to getting to know her better when we become real neighbors in the next couple of weeks!

Just another day at the 'office'

For the first 'on-site' dictionary workshop, we met with a group of Ik under a tree on the side of a mountain. Some were there to get into the work, others just to watch.

Office chairs were little hand-carved stools and/or rocks. Office decor: natural, semi-arid, forest.
Day 2 in Timu we went ahead and set up our new 'office', a recent purchase from Kampala.

This little safari office tent has already sheltered us from sun and rain. The Ik helping us with the dictionary project also appreciate having an official place to come work.

Friday, October 9, 2009


One of the great things about our new home in Timu is being able to see spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Our huts are on the top of a 6500-ft. ridge running north and south. It's just one of those extra blessings we enjoy, when other aspects of our assignment are so hard.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Belated Hippo Bird Day, Amber! ;)

It's not always easy to know how to best celebrate a birthday in Kaabong. Going out to eat's not a viable option because the only restaurant in town we trust is where we often go on the way back from Timu ('cause we're too tired to cook). We celebrated Amber's birthday (Oct 2) over a month early by spending a night in the 'Rain Forest Lodge' in Mabira Forest, between Kampala and Jinja. That was too long ago, though, to feel connected to Amber's special day. So, we celebrated with little gifts and cards and a package sent from my brother and sister-in-law (it was sent for my birthday two months ago but arrived on Amber's birthday!! It had goodies in it for her as well.) Then, a dinner of stuffed baked potatoes, followed by chocolate cake and orange sherbert supplied by our guest Beth Moe. Ik translator Philip Longoli joined us for the festivities.My Amber has lived a full life of ____years, and I feel privileged to have spent the last four with her. Here's wishing her a happy birthday and many, many more!

Mzungus on the Mountain

We've officially spent our first night in Timu! We were praying for the soldiers to return to the barracks at Lokinene (the villages of Timu where we live). We'd gone to a security official in Kaabong to request some security measures in Lokinene. We'd heard no response and didn't know anything for sure. We started traveling up to Timu yesterday in faith. As we passed through the last Karamojong village on the way to Timu, we saw soldiers headed in the same direction. We stopped and talked to a commander that we knew and he said they'd been restationed back to Lokinene and that he knew we needed their presence here. We thank God for his timing and for using the army's presence to keep us safe & secure. We hadn't told anyone we were coming up and the compound was quiet yesterday afternoon, allowing us to get set-up. I got the kitchen in working order so that we could fix meals for ourselves. Terrill tinkered with the solar panels and said a few prayers. Within an hour, he had them working. We thank God for being able to use lights at night and to charge our computers during the day. Today we're having water being brought from the borehole (well) in the valley beneath our compound. Women & young girls carry 20 liter jerry cans on their heads up and down the hill. Terrill & Ron just held their first session of collecting words from a group of Ik. 30 or so men gathered on the side of a rocky outcropping above our compound. Our Ik language helper, Philip, guided the discussions and wrote the words.
We went up to the rocky outcropping above our compound to watch the sun set last evening. We could see lightning & rain to the south, forest fires to the west, and a full golden moon rising over the Kenyan mountains to the north. The sky is so close, the stars a little brighter, and the world more vast. We thank God that Ron & Beth are here to experience this with us. Having friends around brings a sense of familiarity and peace to an otherwise overwhelming situation.

The first meal in our 'bush' house was a chick pea curry with rice, topped off with sweet tea. We're southerners...after all.
Stay tuned for more adventure, prayer requests, and answers to prayer in the coming days.