Tuesday, February 18, 2014

With Happy Thanks for Dorothy

George and Dorothy, many years ago

A dear old friend of ours, Dorothy Waterhouse Smoker, passed away in January and I'd like to honor her memory here.  Dorothy was 97 when she passed and I hadn't seen her in many, many years.  Still, my memories of her are close and vital.

"Uncle George" and "Aunt Dorothy" worked in Tanzania from 1943-1970 but Byron and I met them during their "retirement" to Nairobi in 1984.  I say "retirement" because, after ten years back in the US, George and Dorothy relocated themselves to Africa to continue serving as extremely helpful volunteers living on their retirement income.

Picture this: Byron and Lisa are 25 and 22 while George and Dorothy are both about 67. We made an unlikely but fabulous foursome :)

Let me tell you why...

Byron and I were newly arrived in Nairobi.  The organization we had come with was undergoing traumas and dramas and we were left to find our own way forward.  George and Dorothy had decades of experience to draw on and tons of love and care to give.  They lived around the corner from us and took us under their wings.  We would bomb around Nairobi in their tiny car, laughing and soaking up their wisdom, sense of wonder and guidance.  We had about three months as neighbors before we transitioned to a new organization "up country."

One evening, when we were back in Nairobi, we popped round to say hello and found them in the throes of leaving for the airport.  George's health had suddenly taken a very serious turn and doctors were recommending their immediate return to the States.  After all the help they had been to us in our first few confusing months in Kenya, we were thankful to be able to help them close their bags and get off to the airport.  Cleaning up their little place before handing the key over to their landlord the next day was a small thing we could do for them that eased their minds as they hurried away.

Uncle George's condition was serious and he passed away not long after their return to California.  To this day, we quote George when we get into a conversation with someone about giving or not giving to beggars, how to make better compressed soil bricks and mortar, or how easy it is to make peanut butter.  And I had just quoted some of Dorothy's bush medicine advice the day before I heard she was gone.

Thirty years ago, George and Dorothy offered us friendship, counsel, laughter, wisdom, prayer and insight.  Our window of time as neighbors was short but it has impacted the whole of our lives.  We are two of the MANY who were blessed by them.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Coming Home to the Farm

I was away for two months.  It was enough time to do all I did.  Enough time to celebrate Thanksgiving, Trevor's birthday, Heather's birthday, Colin's birthday, my mom's 80th birthday, attend fundraisers, speak here and there, connect with donors, revel in family and marvelous friends, work toward a wedding, engage in Advent, give poetry readings, have a Board Meeting, enjoy (and also struggle with) Christmas in America, and finally, wonderfully, to help throw an outstanding wedding.

Careening out of those packed weeks, I spent a few days in the UK and spoke 3 times, much enjoying the community and hospitality of all who hosted me.  Before finally getting home, I spent a couple of nights in Kenya, visiting Heather at school.  My last born and officially the youngest Borden to cross the globe "alone", she had rushed back to Africa after Trevor's wedding as her new term had already begun without her.

Thursday was coming home day.  We woke to a dead battery in Nairobi.  We could roll a few feet and get it going, except at the border where we had to just keep it running as the two of us took turns dodging in and out of government buildings (filled with tired tourists) to get all our this and thats stamped and processed while relay teaming the guarding of the unlocked, running vehicle.  Riot police were gathered near the border because local people were protesting something.  The police advised us to wait half an hour.  Mt Meru had an impressive fire burning on the side of her.  Dry season meant the lower plains were blowing away and dust filled the air for miles and miles.  But, finally, were were home.

At a slightly higher elevation, the rain lily above greeted me on my Saturday walk.  I am told her proper name is Amaryllis Belladonna.  I startled a gorgeous male bushbuck as I climbed the bank to collect this sample.  The buck and I regarded each other gravely and I wished him health and safety before I went on.  A walk on this farm is a gift.

So is the rain lily.  She blossoms voluntarily after adequate showers.  She is fragrant and has graced our home with her perfume.

After so much busy, I am slowing down.  I am thankful to have the time to marvel over this bloom.

(Photo credit: Tait Flint)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Morning

When Baby Jesus was presented at the temple, Simeon, said this of him,

"He is a light to reveal God to the nations."  

A light to reveal God...

Now, that's a good gift :)

Merry Christmas, friends!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Thoughts for Advent: Day Twenty-Four

A Poem for Day Twenty-Four

I cannot do this
I cannot find words
to capture or convey

Language fails 
and I fall silent

In the silence

God incarnate
moved toward me

Be still
with me

And watch
The Light

-lisa, 24 December, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Thoughts for Advent: Day Twenty-Three

A Poem for Day Twenty-Three

There have been moments
I was sure
the earth paused
on her axis

indelible and
eternally bright

Four times I have held
the newest life

Four times I have
peered into a face
I had never seen
but loved instantly
more intensely
than my breaking heart
could bear

And in those minutes
that never never come again
I was won

Charmed completely
I was intrigued by one question

Who are you?

Yes, I know your origin
and who you are to me

Who are you?

On a scale beyond anything
She must have asked the same

This Advent
I turn toward
a face I cannot see
but know I love

My desire is
to be undone

Who are you?

-lisa, 23 December, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Thoughts for Advent: Day Twenty-Two

A Poem for Day Twenty-Two

The days wear on

Grinding poverty
and violence beyond comprehension
have brought a darkness
we cannot shift

The pain of ages
and we are broken

It is time now
it is time

The hot pain
wrapped and wracking
threatens to overwhelm

But you are not far away

Redemption is a plot unfolding
A mystery
a promise
a baby

-lisa, 22 December, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Thoughts for Advent: Day 21

A Poem for Day Twenty-One

The giving of gifts
is a lovely thing

An artful practice
and kind custom
of affection

The well-chosen token
pleases the giver
and (of course) the one
who receives

But let's be honest

There are times
we find ourselves
at a loss

Out of time
Short on ideas
(not to mention

We follow through
but feel a bit
feeble about
our attempt

It is a rare joy
to choose a gift
so well
we simply cannot wait
to give it

And in this vein
I think of you

The perfect knowing
of our need

The time and thought
in preparation

This gift
It cost you

Yet severity
of toll
did not

Spectacular munificence
on display

Reveled in
the gift
you gave

-lisa, 21 December, 2013