The following is a work in progress. Though there are many picutres to attach, I wanted to get this much up. Keep an eye here, and I will try to put new pictures and notes up daily until we leave.
On our way to see Bettie's oldest daughter, Jennie Chancey, and their ten children in Nairobi, Kenya, we stopped in London for 5 days. It was a very enjoyable time with one friend Bettie met a couple of years ago when she came over with Jennie for the Jane Austen tour, Suzi and Keith Clark. Suzi has been the tour guide for Jennie's tour for several years. She and her husband were our tour guide each day except Sunday. The family the Lord permitted us to stay with attend the Metropolitan Tabernacle (Spurgeon's), and we went with them to the morning and evening Sunday service. Sarah Jones then took us to Spurgeon's grave. It rained very hard all day Sundaynot an unusual occurrence for London. We were told by our hosts that the Metropolitan Tabernacle has grown under Peter Masters, to where it now runs about 600. The attendance is as diverse as any church congregation you will see. They have a "bus ministry" that brings in children to their 3:00 PM SS hour, and support various congregations throughout the city. The original façade still stands, but the present building behind the façade and the congregation is only a shadow of what it was under Spurgeon.
Our second day was a nice day, though quite chilly. Suzi and Keith took us on a river "cruise" up the Thames River to Greenwich, where East meets West. There we got to see the Harrison clock, the first time piece to be accurate enough to permit sailors to chart a true course. The Royal Astronomers fought him all the way, refusing to award him the promised prize for an accurate timepiece, because he was an uneducated wood worker. But the "professionals" could not make a working clock. Finally, some years after he died, Parliament authorized paying his son the £50,000 reward. But the museum at Greenwich did not give the true account, for it would reveal the truth about the Royal Astronomers.
Monday was a bad rainy day, so we went to the Victoria - Albert museumwhich was impressive and too much to see in one day. We went on the bus, which is very practical and inexpensive, if you purchase "Oyster" tickets. By Monday we felt we could get around London by ourselves, as long as we knew which bus number to take and where to get off!
Since you cannot visit England without seeing a castle to tell the grandchildren about, and as Tuesday turned out to be partly sunny, Sarah Jones took us out of London to Bodiam Castle. We had a picnic lunch on the grounds, where Keith and Suzi met us to say goodbye and give us a doll for one of our granddaughters. The castle was built in 1386 (?) and has a moat, towers, inner courtyard, some rooms still standing with "indoor plumbing."
Probably less than ½ of the people we saw on the public transportation in London, which we used, speak English, and we saw all kinds of head dress that sets those people apart as from some other culture. The hatred of large families by the West, even among Christians, has turned our societies over to the Muslims. Sharia law is being pushed through British Parliament, and burkahs are not an uncommon sight on the streets. Corrupt Western society has lied to women in convincing them that careers outside the home is the way to go. Unless there is a revival in the Christian attitude concerning the home, Christianity will be a very minority religion, and face the persecution which will come at the hands of the Muhammadans.
On to Nairobi, Kenya. Though Nairobi is on the equator (less than 100 miles south), it is 6,000 ft high. It is still early spring here, so long sleeves are required. It warms up in the afternoon, so in the sun, long sleeves come off, but step into the shade, and it is cool. Nights are quite cool. (High 83, low, 58, and dry until the rainy season starts mid Oct.) We had no idea of how chilly it would be here, so we only brought two long sleeved shirts for England. The dry season produces an abundance of red dust everywhere.
The water has natural fluoride in it, making it quite unsafe to drink. It is not even safe for brushing teeth, though it is for washing. Dishes must be sanitized after being washed. Dentists' offices have pictures of the terrible damage done by the fluoride to teeth and bones. The pictures clearly reveal the dangerous and poisonous effects of fluoride.
The poverty here is quite pronounced, with wages among the poor $1-$2 a day, and 40% unemployed; Trash is piled everywhere. There are many "Christian" churches and even signs that speak of the Christian God. A large percentage of people consider themselves Christians, and the nation is slowly showing the positive results of the gospel, as well as the negative aspects such as "fly away" and "name it and claim it" heresies.
Building: The building blocks are commonly stones, hand hewn in quarries, rather than concrete blocks. There are badly needed road projects in process here, being built by the "China Road & Bridge Co."
Though the dirt is red, it can be very productive if properly cared for. We made a trip to a food market the first Saturday there. Jennie obtained enough fresh, organic fruits and veggies to last the 14 of us for a week. Cost? About $26 USD.
Cars: Diesel Toyotas are the overwhelming majority. Diesel is several cents cheaper than gas, and both below $4 USD. (The price is not reflecting the ripoff in the US.) These diesel cars get around 70 MPG. At home, we have a Toyota PU that might get 20 MPG and a Camry that can get 34 MPG if we can find real gas. You do the math. 20 MPG makes our gas over $12 per gal based on Kenyan standards. England was the same way. We hear so much about the high price of gas overseas, but they fail to mention that the cars there get much better mileage. Why do we not have access to these high mileage cars that are so common everywhere else in the world? "Follow the money!"
Every road off a main paved road had a gaggle of motorcycles waiting. They wait for people to get off a public bus, and then hope they can provide a ride to take that person to their home, which may be several miles down a non-maintained dirt road. Even the highways are shared with man powered pull carts, bicycles, motorcycles, some with up to 4 passengers, and every other kind of vehicle with wheels.
We have been asked to come back and supervise the restoration a house built in 1905, Juja House [http://www.facebook.com/JujaHouse, or check widkipeda]. It is a historic house, built by the man who started the safari "trade" in Kenya. Though the man had multiplied tens of thousands of acres for the purpose of having a wild animal park very close to Nairobi, the British saw no profit in tourism. (Their error has since been exposed, as "safari tourism" is now a chief income source.) As a result, all of that area has been sold off into small plotsno roads, but that seems to make very little difference. The house sits on 40 acres, with irrigation from the river, which runs a few hundred yards in front of the house. A very beautiful area, though about an hour from the first decent paved road. 18 k in an hour because of the sad condition of the "official road" to the house.
If you look at the facebook page, it is hard to believe that today's Kenya is only 2 generations at the most past the natives shown on that page. Broad band has only been available at an affordable cost for about 3 years. Matt and Jennie's expertise is in web advertising, and the high end businesses are just now realizing the value of first rate web presence. Though Jenny certainly did not want it to happen in our time frame, a top rated US photographer was only available to them during our first full week there, ieunday - Wednesday. One day of shooting was for her Sense & Sensibility site and the introduction of her newly designed 50's style of dress patterns. The rest were commercial shoots.
Wednesday, we were able to be "background" in one of the commercial shoots. The work was really difficult. It was an advertising shoot for probably the best restaurant in Nairobi just a few minutes from Matt and Jennie's. We had to spend the afternoon slowly eating our choice of food, while the main actors were being filmed. Things are really difficult here at times : )
The next day, the owner invited us to her house for lunch. Her hospitality was marvelous: Though she had maids and cooks, she served us at a large table under a tree. Before we left, she showed us around their property, which included a "work shop" where several carpenters were making very high quality and attractive chairs.
Friday and Saturday, the kids took us to a Kenya "camp" for an overnight stay at Naivasha. It was on a large lake, where we were able to tour the lake and see many "water" birds as well as some hippos. We then went on around the lake through areas where typical African animals roam, even crossing the road. We saw about all the typical African animals except elephants and lions.
Also, that area had a great many greenhouses where flowers are grown, particularly roses. The flowers are cut, rushed to the airport and flown to Europe or India, and sold the next day as fresh cut flowers, which they are.
Sunday was again to church, which is very multinational. Admittedly, the area where we are staying is not typical Africa, so the church was not typical of Kenyan churches.
Monday, we went to see Pastor Keith Underhill, www.trinity.or.ke He has a strong Reformed Baptist Church probably the only one in Nairobi. He has been here on the field here since 1967. He has many teaching miniseries, including training pastors and sending them out as church planters. He pointed out that South Sudan is wide open for the gospelhe has many contacts there. The people have utterly rejected Mohammadism. He has pled for Reformed Baptist to come down, but there is no interest in reaching them. The life there is very difficult, but the field is white unto harvest.
He also told us that where we are staying and what we are seeing is not Kenya. I must agree with him. His work is prospering in the midst of what might be called the industral area of Nairobi. I should have taken some pictures, but didn't. The very hard life of the people is quite evident where he is.
A Few Observations to follow