Monday, January 26, 2009

Home Again




Yep, that's me and my 25 week preggers belly! Complete in pants, might I add :) Oh the joys of being back in the U.S.!

Can't believe we are now home and that my last post was a whole 2 months ago! Yikes.

We arrived home safe and sound last Monday (the 19th) and have since been enjoying our down time while also realizing how much we have to do!
All our flights went smoothly and were on-time. We left Nairobi around 10:50pm on Sunday night, flew 8 hours to Amsterdam, had a 5 hour layover, then boarded our second 8 hour flight to Detroit. In Detroit we had to go through customs (pew) and two more security gates (double & triple pew) then headed for our gate. Our last flight was a mere 1 hour, putting us in Cedar Rapids at 4:15pm CST.

Immediately upon landing we felt the freezing Iowa chill and saw the white blanketed landscape and at last breathed a final sigh of relief.

We were back.

It was an amazing feeling. We walked down the hall, towards baggage and spotted our sister-in-law Jamie and her adorable daughter Abigail. Also standing there was one of my good friends, Carrie. It was the perfect welcome home gift to see three of our favorite people waiting for us :)
We drove back to Curt's hometown that night, exhausted and travel-weary, and fell into bed. The rest of the week has been spent visiting grandparents, laughing with family, drinking lovely warm tea, going for frigid walks, shopping in malls (a completely foreign concept after a year in the bush!), and trying to figure out our future. It's been both overwhelming and oddly, refreshing.

Tomorrow we leave Kesley for Iowa City where we will stay with our good friends, the Washburns, for a time while Curt searches for jobs (a good prayer request on our behalf, please!!) and I'll substitute teach until the belly gets too big to manage kids! Iowa City is our true home and we look forward to being there!

In baby news: nothing new to report! I have a doc appt on Feb 3rd and hope to set up an ultrasound at that time as well (another prayer request, that all is well with mom & babe). All I know for now is that he/she is moving quite a bit and the belly continues to grow (as witnessed above). I'm just looking forward to now planning for the arrival and praying that all goes well before then.

However, I think this may be the final frontier for this blog. I'm not sure if we will post anymore being that we are back in the states, so we thank you all for reading and sticking with us! If you want to continue to stay connected to us, you may email me at Kampman30@gmail.com, or read my personal blog abigailish.blogspot.com.

We love you all,
The Kampmans

Friday, November 28, 2008

Back to Bushland

Hey all,

So we leave today for no man's land again :) This is our final stretch so we're praying to finish strong! December will be packed with fun times since the host missionaries we've been staying with will have their children home all month (Christmas break from Rift Valley Academy). It should be lots of laughter and fellowship.

Tonight (Friday) is always pizza and movie night, Saturdays (when the kids are home) is game and taco night (YUM, preg lady loves mexican!), and Sundays are church, basketball games, prayer & popcorn night. Usually Tuesdays & Wednesdays I'm at the med clinic helping Sue, Wed nights are prayer nights with the group, and then we start again with Friday movie & pizza night. During the month of December we'll probably have a kid's club for the local children. This involves games, devotional time, singing, and snacks--a few hours a day for about a week. Should be fun to connect with the local kids. Also, for Christmas, the host family we're with usually has a big feast, inviting the entire village; should be a lot of work and preparation but enjoyable.

Curt's parents will arrive in bushland on January 5th, spend a week in D with us, then we'll drive to the coast (with the host family we're with) for a few days of rest and relaxation on the Indian Ocean. Curt's parents, Curt, and I will fly directly from the coast to Nairobi on the 16th, stay at Mayfield Guesthouse, do a short safari day trip to Nakuru National Park on the 17th, then fly out on the 18th! It will be a whirlwind 1.5 months but we are looking forward to finishing up and reuniting with family and friends.

We love you all, please continue to pray for us and the baby!! We covet your thoughts deeply. We look forward to seeing all of you when we return!

Much love,
Abbie (Curt & the baby)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Relaxing in Nairobi

So we've officially been in Nairobi for well over a week and are enjoying every moment. This past weekend we attended an AIM Eastern Region Conference in Limuru (small town 30 min north of Nairobi). It was a nice venue with an abundance of good food and fellowship. I was personally thrilled at how many veggies the hotel had at each meal--I stocked up! :) Fresh foods is a rare commodity where we are.

The conference centered around the parable of the 4 seeds--but quite a different message than the hundreds of others I have heard before. We all agreed it was an incredibly refreshing outlook. Curt and I just enjoyed meeting many new families and catching up with old friends we've met along the way. On Saturday, in the middle of the conference, there was a rummage sale of sorts out in the hotel parking lot. Missionaries bring an array of goods they either want to give away or sell and have a swap meet. I scored some great baby clothes, haha! Maybe it's too early to buy but I couldn't help it. There were Carter's onesies and sleepers in there for $0.75 & $2.00! No WAY any sane mother would let those go by, as cheap as they were.

Well, not this one anyway-- :)

I guess I'm failing to mention that they were all girl's clothing. There was no boy baby clothing in sight. Curt gave me a look when I came back to the room with an armload of pink and frills. Haha. I can always save them if need be! I also purchsed some nice souveniers from the craft shop.

We arrived back in Nairobi Monday morning and settled back in at Mayfield Guesthouse. We'll be here until Friday when we head back to the bush for our last small stretch until we head home. I can't believe we are this close already. I know I keep saying that, but really, we are down to 50-something days left! Amazing. This next month, however, will be the most difficult with the holidays and being away from family. I never imagined I would spend one of my Christmases in the African bush but here we go! There's a first time for everything, I suppose.

We've really enjoyed our time here but are truly feeling that our time is coming to a close and that God has plans for us back in the states. However, we desire to make this last stretch meaningful and (pray that it will be) fruitful. If you could pray this for us, that would be fantastic.

We love you all,
Abbie (Curt & the baby)

PS--After Thursday evening I will not be checking my gmail account until we are in Nairobi again in mid-January. Thanks to all who have written us while we are here!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pictures of the Village

There has been a request for pictures, so here we go!

This is our new home in our village. It's called a rendeval, but to me looks like a small grain bin. Our friendly-local kudu, Coodee, is standing gaurd in front of the house.

This is a traditional well for the people of our village. Being that the river is almost always dry due to the lack of rainfall, they dig a traditional well (aka large/deep pit) in the dry riverbed. The water is about 20-25 feet down in our area. The water is dirty and untreated, but it is all that is available.

A group of four families came together and asked for assistance in constructing and installing a new handwater pump for the community. So they donated the labor and we donated the supplies/equipment for the newly formed Village Clean Water Group. The well is 45 feet deep and provides clean, sand-filtered drinking water.

Every once in awhile, we receive word of a medical emergency somewhere out in the bush that requires a medical run to the nearest hospital (roughly 50 miles away). I took this picture on one of the medical runs. It was way off the beaten path - you see the road behind us right? Think machetes and spare tires.

Once or twice a week, a new baby is born in the village (our village isn't that big!). Abbie and Sue, who is a nurse, go and visit the newborn babies and their mothers, do a medical check-up and answer any questions the mothers have.

One of our favorite sights - an AIM Air flight with supplies/groceries at our village runway. We brought out as much as we could when we drove out to the village back in September, but it only lasts so long. We even got ice cream on one delivery. It was amazing.

Hopefully this gives an idea of the area we are in - definately challenging, but a real blessing as well. Thank you for all your prayers - we are dependent upon them. Love you all.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Break from the Bush...

Well, we're officially back in Nairobi...again! Ha. This is always our rest/pit stop location. It's refreshing always to arrive at Mayfield Guesthouse—to staff-cooked, family-style meals (which include fresh veggies and fruits—PTL!), internet, and REST. It has been a whirlwind two months in the east Kenya bush. It's amazing that we have only two months left until we leave for home.

Hard to believe, actually. The year has flown by.

By now, most of you have received the news but during our last visit to Nairobi in mid-September, we found out that we're pregnant :) It was a surprise, not something we expected at all but certainly something we are preparing ourselves for (as much as we can, anyway!). As of right now I am officially 16 weeks along and about to have my second doctor's appointment. Since doctors are non-existent in the bush we've have to wait until our Nbi visits to be fully checked. Thankfully Sue is a nurse (the lady who's compound we are staying on in D) so she's been able to monitor my weight, blood pressure, fetal mass, etc. It's been a blessing! Anyway, the appointment we have this next week will involve an ultrasound & sonogram. We are excited to finally see and hear the little one!

I have to say, it has been a little unsettling being pregs in a malarial-infested area. I've been definitely trusting Him and relying on scripture to fend off any fear or uneasiness; 2 Tim 1:7 has become a daily reminder! I do have a malaria preventative—so nobody send me any emails regarding this! Please! I've received much advice (that I'm very thankful for) but the decision is ultimately up to Curt and I. Taking something that might harm the baby to prevent something that might happen is a tough decision on either end. Please just continue to pray for our little one as much as possible—that he/she is protected from EVERY form of illness and disease or deformity. We appreciate this!

Regarding O-land, where we have currently been residing (just outside the small village of D) has been challenging and a great learning experience. We are learning much about the particular beliefs of this tribe—many of which are dark and evil. We have seen people who are, literally, demon-possessed. They have various celebrations to worship “ayana,” also known as Satan. They also practice a very widespread religion that is growing all over the world—can't name specifics but I'm sure you can gather which one. This particular faith is devoid of grace, mercy, and love. It's entirely about tradition, repetition, deeds, fear, and blind devotion (in other words, they believe because they are told to by everyone in the community they have to; if anyone strays from the common belief they are disowned by their family and banned from the community. They allow no room for anything but. It makes the task of sharing (simply sharing) far more difficult than any other place we have been to. People throw up immediate walls and (some) begin screaming at you, as we experienced recently from one of the locals.

What I find so interesting though, if that the vast majority cannot read or write. So the faith they profess to believe they've merely accepted by other individuals—they have no way of backing up what they say with scripture from their holy book because they cannot read it. It makes it difficult for me to justify them believing in the Truth we have to share (our faith) because just as they cannot read their holy book, they also cannot read ours. How can I expect them to believe in scripture they do not know, cannot meditate on, cannot process? Just by simply hearing they may believe but how will they continue that belief once we leave? Once Roger and Sue leave? With the dominating religion being something different they will have nobody to help them along and will be swallowed up by ridicule. Roger and Sue have been here for 20+ years and haven't seen one person become a solid believer. There have been many wishy-washy folks. However, in the next village over, T, there has been a revival of sorts. Our fellow workers there, Guyo and Elema, have helped nearly 10+ people come to Christ in the past few months (after years of seeing no fruit). This is exactly what this tribe needs—just a small group to rock the boat a bit, to challenge the current beliefs and help others along. It makes me sad that so many people here live their lives in fear and uncertainty because of the faith they profess.

Anyway—those are the current challenges we are facing (and Roger and Sue continue to face).
As far as daily life goes, Curt and I have been kept quite busy. Well, mostly Curt, I have had to find things to do but I've been succeeding :) From day one Curt was immediately put to work assisting Roger in a multitude of building projects. He has already helped dig a handpump well, built a rendeval (the circular steel houses we live in), learned how to make ringbeams & use a welder, put up gutters for rainwater harvesting, and erected a cement block fuel store building. The work is neverending! He was looking forward to our few weeks of rest here in Nairobi. I've been trying to keep feeding him loads of protein and carbs—but he continues to get skinnier!
Don't we all wish we had the same problem?! Haha. On the contrary I am continually growing now that pregnancy has set in—oh the lovely side effects of hormones. Thankfully is has remained confined to the belly area! I know, I know, it's good to gain weight when your pregs but I don't buy into the lie of “eating for two.” I've hardly been hungry enough to eat for one! Again—don't want emails telling me to eat lots or what to eat, I'm fine thanks. I have been seriously craving pineapple, pickles, and ice cream—not together, of course :) So many of the things I'm craving, though, are very difficult to find here. Things like veggies (oh fresh broccoli and spinach, how I miss thee!), Braeburn apples, berries, grilled chicken, and Diet Coke with Lime. I've started a list of all the things I'm going to have immediately when I return, haha. I'm also bummed that we wont have a traditional Thanksgiving meal out here in the bush...none of the foods are really available here. I love my turkey, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie. I might recreate the meal when we get back to the states.

But I digress.

My jobs have been few and far between but I generally assist Sue a few days a week at the medical clinic doling out food for the feeding program and helping with child vaccinations. On other days I sometimes help with the prenatal patients. It's always fun seeing how far along women are and hearing the heartbeat of the babies :) Usually when a neighbor gives birth Sue and I go visit the little ones soon after. One of the ladies recently had twin girls—adorable little things! It's so fun to be an “ako,” (equivalent to an “aunt”) to all the little babies. Other than that I keep house and bake often. Everything, like it has been at each location, must be homemade and hand prepared. No prepackaged goods here! Everything takes eons longer :) I have bread making down to a science (yeast no longer intimidates!) and have started experimenting with other things. It has been fun to test my rations.

Some other things we have had to acclimate ourselves to are the clothing and the climate. The climate in D is HOT. HOT HOT and more HOT. It's humid, sandy, and thorny. You kind of get used to walking around in a constant sweat. Nights are nice, it cools off significantly. We are currently heading into the rainy season so rain helps cool things off a bit too, but with the rains come more humidity and the bane of my existence: BUGS. It has been quite comical, really, to see which infestation we will have each night after a rain. Usually the first few days it is army ants, sugar ants, and flying ants—generally just a whole lot of ants in various shapes and sizes all congregating in our house in the evenings.

It's a general party.

The next night is usually big black flying crickets (yes, some DO fly). Those are always really enjoyable. They make a nice crunching noise when you step on them. Curt and I have a nice stomping/flip flop slapping shindig when they come around. The third night is usually these odd-looking June bug things. They like to dive-bomb. These are the ones I like the least. They make lots of noise and, like I said, enjoy flying in your face. Ugh.

The perpetual insect that's always around during the rains is the infamous scorpion. I've learned that these, too, come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. We've had scorpions the size of small ants up to a few the size of a hands-breadth. Yes, that big. Some are coal black, others are this weird reddish-peachy color. All have pinchers and tails. The small ones suffer a flip-flop death slap. The larger ones must be taken out via shovel or machete. Haha. I'm not exaggerating at all—I have pictures to prove it! The other day I was sweeping out our house and out walked a ginormous (the big kind) black one. I, rightfully so, let out a loud scream, and backed away. The thing was, like, moving his claws around and his tail was moving back and forth.

Gross.

I promptly went up the work shed and got Curt (like I'm going to kill that thing myself! No sir!). He grabbed a shovel and came back, attacking it and dually slicing it in half, then propelled it out of the house. I think my skin was crawling for the next hour. I seriously want to ask God when I get to heaven what the purpose of certain bugs are. I mean, really, why do we need scorpions and mosquitoes? Honestly.

Anyway--that's all I have to report so far. Again, our doctor's appointment is this Monrday (the 17th). It's the first time we will see the baby and hear the heartbeat. Please continue to pray for full health. We appreciate your thoughts on our behalf :)

Love to you all,
Abbie

PS--We officially arrive back to Iowa on January 19th! Can't wait to see all of you and share our experiences! And get some pregnancy pants...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Heading out again!

Hello all!

Sorry I didn't send a second installment of our Sudan experience but this week has been pressing. I hope most of you received our email update which included more details of life in the bush.

After a week in Nairobi we are now heading out to eastern Kenya, a very hot and humid place. It will be difficult for me, I think, because Fall is my favorite season in the states and Christmas is such a joy for us with our families....it will be a tough final 4 months away at this particular time of year, and to live in a desert. Prayers are appreciated.

It will also be our most difficult location. I cannot say much about the place or the people due to certain circumstances but I can say this is a completely unreached people group despite having workers among them for some time. We will be working with a couple, Roger and Sue, who have been in this location for 22 years. Curt will be assisting Roger with whatever building and maintenance needs he has and I will be helping Sue in her nursing clinic and also tutoring young children in English. It'll be quite the experience! I am thankful because I'll have a full kitchen (even a fridge! AH!) so I'm pumped to be able to cook again.

We will not have access to internet again, unfortunately, until we visit Nairobi again in mid-November. We will be able to send emails but will do so sparingly due to the above issues. So we'll talk to you in a few months!

We love and miss you all...
Abbie (& Curt)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Back from No Man's Land!

Hey Hey Hey.

We made it back to Nairobi safe and sound this past Thursday. Unfortunately Mayfield's internet has been out-of-order so we haven't been able to keep y'all in the loop! But, yes, we
are back and so thankful to be in civilization once again.

HOWEVER, Sudan was incredible. There is a great thing going on up there and we were thrilled to be a part of it. As you know we left on the 5th and flew to Lokichoggio, a small town in northern Kenya. In Loki we boarded a smaller, single prop (5 seater) plane to the Didinga Hills in southern Sudan, only a mere 25 minutes from Loki.

The flight to the hills was breathtaking.

I couldn't help but thinking, as we were flying, that this area is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. If one could picture Eden this would be it: lush, rolling hills that climb into towering ridges, every different shade of green imaginable, waterfalls and roaring springs, immense trees that look as though they could house entire malls...incredible. As we got a little lower I began to notice the round hut homes of the Didinga people. It was then Curt and I knew we weren't in Kansas anymore (haha).

We landed on the new airstip, just created in March. The tiny strip of land is perfectly perched on a ridge--quite nerve-wracking to land on, mind you, but John (our pilot) completed the landing effortlessly. When we stepped out of the plane there was already a crowed of nearly 30 Didinga men and women to greet us (or rather, stare curiously). Some of the younger boys stood stark naked and some women were topless but most had clothing given to them by fellow traders and missionaries. They desire clothing but often cannot afford it. Most either hike to Nagishot (a 5 hour strenuous climb over hills and valleys) to buy goods or they trade with the Millers.

We got off the plane and headed to the Millers' compound, a mere 5 minute walk from the airstrip. Dave and Deb greeted us warmly and allowed us to stay with them for the first few days to settle in a bit while our home was having the final touches put on.

The Millers' home is similar in style to the other homes we were helping build in the hills, it's basically a glorified hut (or "tukul" as the Didinga call it). The Millers' is a little larger with 2, round mud tukuls on either end of the house and a rectangular corrogated steel (also called "mbati" in these parts) section in the middle. The tukul ends house the bathroom, store room, and 2 bedrooms, the rectagular portion holds the living and kitchen areas. Each TIMO home has one mbati portion and one tukul portion.

We moved into our home the following week, a good 15 minute walk down the ridge from the Miller compound. It was a bit terrifying at first because, really, Curt and I were the first white folk to live among the Didinga--really live among the Didinga. The Millers' compound is situated on the top of the mountain, a good deal away from the tribe and close to the airstrip. Curt and I became the guinea pigs, of sorts, and I have to say, it set my nerves on end for the first few days. I wasn't sure what to expect! It was fine, however the local children were a bit of a problem the entire time we lived there. They had a lovely time peering in windows, running into the house, and throwing rocks and other debris onto our steel roof (which makes quite a noise if you happen to be in the house--and definitely isn't good for the roof). They seemed to find all this quite funny. I had a difficult time attempting to communicate with them with my VERY limited language skills. All I could say was "Buti! Buti! Abathi gerret!" Which translates to "No! No! Very bad!" Haha. It began to become such a problem that I mentioned it to David Miller one afternoon and he immediately took action. He visited the head chief of the area we live and told him about the ruckus being caused. It just so happens that the child doing the most terrorizing was the chief's daughter and he immediately punished her (I'm not sure what he did but she didn't bother us again). The chief's reaction to me was, "why didn't you beat her?!"

I was baffled.

Well, I wasn't aware that I was supposed to BEAT children, let alone someone else's children. But that is how the children are disciplined in Didinga territory. I certainly didn't exercise the method. After he said that I feared what had happened to his daughter, worried that I had somehow caused her harm. However I saw her a few days later, unscathed, and she wasn't a nuisance the rest of our stay so I was thankful.

We settled into our tukul quite nicely (despite the children) and I went about making it a home. I immediately hung up the quilt I brought with me from the states and our calendar that Curt's mom made us. I made curtains for all the windows and set up the furniture. Curt made a very rustic-looking wood table for the bathroom, set up our clothesline outside, and landscaped around the home. We put out our 100 liter rain barrel under the downspout of our roof and waited for a nice, heavy rain to come so we could have some clean water. Unfortunately it didn't rain for a few days so we had to make the 400 ft downhill hike to our watersource, a beautifully clear, freshwater spring. Curt lugged 2- 20 liter gerry cans and I managed one down the hill and, once full, back up again to our home. I have to say, at this point I was longing for running water or even a heavy rain, I loathed the water-fetching method. BUT it's how the majority of the world gets water. Amazing to think about. What's even more amazing is the women here are the ones who fetch water and they carry the huge 20-liter jugs on their heads, uphill, barefoot, every single day. The women here are insanely ripped (slang for SUPER muscular). I wouldn't challenge any of them to a fight. They'd mangle me instantly!

Fortunately, a few nights later we had a heavy rain and filled up our 100 liter rain barrel (plus various other buckets and basins we carted outside to catch rain). I was praising God...water for days! WOO!

Anyway...I will write more about our adventure later. There is so much to say! We'll call this entry "Part I"!

Abonaha (Didinga for "goodbye"),
Abbie