Monday, April 3rd, 2006

Testing has begun.

Let’s take a look at a typical testing schedule here:

8:00 AM – No one shows up
8:30AM – Equipment failure
9:00AM – Team shows up.
9:12 AM – Power goes out
9:17 AM – Finding the electrician to connect the generator to the building where our office is.
9:35 AM – Learning why the electrician cannot connect the generator because only one building can be connected to the generator at a time, and since I guess people’s lives are more important, the generator must remain connected to the hospital
10:00 AM – Introductory Meeting
10:01 AM – Meeting interrupted momentarily to celebrate the return of power.
10:15 AM – Hang up sign asking people to stay out of the testing room, and to refrain from disconnecting the machines in order to test new equipment
10:17 AM – Testing interrupted because gentleman wants to know if he can use the room to disconnect machines in order to test new equipment
10:17 AM – Sign is explained
11:00AM – Testing begins.
11:01 AM – Fill out MySpace survey so my 90+ contacts can know who my first crush was.
11:05 AM – Now: Fixing bugs

My culture has taught me to be a perfectionist. It’s not done, until it’s perfect. There’s no such thing as “almost”. ”Can someone be almost pregnant?“  is the question that was posed to me any time I did anything almost to completion. If it can’t be done the first time, it’s not worth doing. etc. Apparently the pyramids were a one shot deal. So after many years in the business, I’ve learned to accept the fact that a system can and will have a certain amount of imperfections, or “bugs” as they’re called.

But even after being a software developer for the last 6+ years, when I get a bug, there’s that small part of me, depending on how much sleep I’ve had the night before, that takes it personally, only because, well, that’s how I was brought up, culturally. Sometimes I want to shout back, “What do you mean the list isn’t sorting properly???” The fact that I can take constructive criticism, given my background, is a miracle, and a testament to the American education system.

Building a House of His Own

Elly Ojijo Ndolo. I have known this man since 1999, and he’s been a great friend of mine. He’s definitly one of my best friends here in Kenya. Someone I can just talk to and feel totally at home with. He has this natural ability to lead people. He doesn’t need to convince, or force, or control – he’s just himself. He’s humble, he loves, he cares, and he’s wise and strong. Bam – the perfect combo for a good leader.

On Sunday, it was announced that Elly was to be ordained as the priest and pastor of a church in Tanzania. After the service we had a get together at the house of Fr. Moses with the old crew. As I looked around the room, I saw faces, who were just kids when i came in 1999, and new faces, new generation since then. All together, singing songs in Elly’s native language, Luo, from the Jaluo people in the west.

Ngima Lomba
Ewan Watio
Ngima Lomba, ngima polo lomba
Ewan watio, Nengima!!
You know what, just listen to it here:

Elly and his wife Pendo, at the announcement

Emmanuel, confused?

Crackdowns, Creation, Clenched Fists

As time is going by, I’m definitely getting more attached to the guys I serve and meet with every Tuesday. It’s gonna be really hard to say bye in a few weeks. Life’s getting a bit more complicated for these guys. Police crackdowns in Kibera is making it almost impossible for people on the fringes to just get by. Police here are looking to make money, and to make trouble. They need to make their fellow Kenyan smaller in order for themselves to feel bigger. It’s atrocious! And the harassment a lot of our guys face scares them, and us. We have to move our meetings earlier so they can get here and back to Kibera before the nightly rounds, where cops will look for a bribe, or throw in jail. we promised them a day away from the city, to Lake Naivasha , which actually happened today (Saturday)

To be honest I’ve been writing this out over the course of a week, cuz it’s just been so busy around these parts!  But the story of our trip will come in a later blog. In the meanwhile, I have some great pics, some stories, yea!

Anyway back to last Tuesday and Elly. It was his last day here in Nairobi and he has been a part of this church for decades. That night, he was to depart and no longer return as Elly, but to return as Father Joshua. The guys were really sad, and made Elly a poster for him to remember them by, each one of us signed it. I also made my contribution, as you can tell, of a little cat chasing a dog: Everyone did their thing:


We talked about symbols, how symbols represent ideas, beliefs, places, people. There’s the world famous, cross, crescent moon, and star of david, the pillars of monotheism. There’s the don’t walk sign, the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. I asked them, “if someone were to make a symbol for you guys, this group, what would it have to express? The guys came up with this list:

That sounds about right:

My Maasai friend Robert snapped this one of us candidly and I’m very glad he did.

We said bye to Elly, knowing one day our paths will all cross again, though unfortunately, my time will be up here before Elly returns from Egypt.

Father Joshua, best of luck, brother!!

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