Friday, July 8, 2011

Johnny and Kate plus…fourteen

We spent a few days in Nakuru with my parents’ friends, Johnny and Kate Brooks, who have a very interesting ministry. They open their home to orphaned and abandoned Kenyan girls, bringing them into their family. You can check out their site here:

They currently have their own five children plus nine Kenyan girls living there. Fourteen kids in the house make for some interesting stories.

Kate, being a mother of fourteen children, is extremely creative and does all sorts of neat artsy craftsy type stuff that I just had to learn. My first lesson was how to create a makeshift hammock out of an old bed sheet and some tying rope. It held! Makena and Emma enjoyed swinging on it :)
Another new hobby of Kate’s is making her own jewelry with Polymer clay. She taught me how to make ear hangers for my gauged ears. It is time consuming, but being able to wear something that I have created is an awesome feeling, so I will definitely be doing this more often in the States.

Ignore the goofy face and just check out my nifty gauges... I am also wearing my necklace from Tati.

She has also gifted her love of crafting to her girls, like Mary in the picture, who will sit and crochet beautiful scarves, shoes, and knickknacks. As we craft, Kate is multi tasking with her baby Eowyn, beautiful grey eyed baby Eowyn who likes to walk around partially nude and pee when she feels like it, despite if it is on the floor. She tries to give all the signs for going to the bathroom, but sometimes we didn’t catch them quick enough and had to go running for a mop instead. Sometimes one of the girls, like Beatrice, or Johnny in the pictures below, would take Eowyn so mommmy Kate could have a break!
One of the many differences between Tala (where my parents live) and Nakuru is that in Nakuru it rains a lot. Every night there was a thunderstorm, draping the gardens with water, lighting up the sky with lightning.

A few of the girls and I watched the storm one night.

“The rain looks like little pieces of sunshine falling,” said Butterfly, the third biological Brooks.

For some reason this got us talking about what Heaven is like.

“I think Heaven is like a big forest with grapes and we all live wild!” says Butterfly, who doesn’t like brushing her hair or wearing shoes.

“I wish we didn’t have houses,” she continues.

“Why not?” I ask.

“Because I want to live the way God intended us to live. In the wild.”

Makes sense to me.

“You know what I think Heaven is like?” chimed in Makena, the second biological Brooks. “You know the rainbow on the backs of cds? It’s like that, only bluer. And if you wanted something, like chocolate, it would appear before you, and you’d eat it, and then the rest would become blue again. Blue everywhere!”

Every night was a good night at the Brooks.

I slept in the younger girls’ room, me and eight girls. The beds were awesome. They are triple-decker beds with a trundle underneath that creates a fourth bed. There were two of these monstrous beds in the room to handle all eight girls. I slept in Butterfly’s bed, the lowest deck, which she was so kind to offer. Below is a picture of Butterfly and Edith playing in their room. Edith is sitting on the trundle. Thursday night, a school night, Kate came in and prayed with the girls, told them no talking after the lights were out, then turned off the lights. I expected at least a bit of light chitchat, but nope. Dead silent. The next night, Friday, after the lights went out there was a mix of English and Kiswahili being whispered in the dark, girls enjoying their Friday night.

Meals are served assembly line style. A bell is rung signaling the meal is ready. Children come running from all areas of the house, wash their hands (“with soap!” Kate yells after them), and get in line. It’s really remarkable the way they have a system for everything, a system that works for everyone. In this picture, we are missing three of the girls who had already left the table. But you can get an idea of how tight they are packed in! One day we went to the Curio Market in downtown Nakuru. Now, this place happens to be a tourist trap, Kenyans toting their wares for triple the price they sell them to other Kenyan. Luckily, Kate knows Kiswahili.

The one thing I really wanted to buy was a Jembe drum, a drum I always wished I could bring to the drum circle on Venice Beach in California, a drum that in the United States is way too expensive.

At the market, two men came up with their drums. I chose one and negotiations began. He started at 6,000 ksh (about $75 USD, an amount no Kenyan would be able to pay). Now it was Kate’s turn to get in the guy’s face. I didn’t have to know the language to know that Kate was doing a “You ought to be ashamed trying to screw these people” mama voice. I could actually see the shame in this guy’s eyes, knowing he was selling me something at triple the price because I was white and didn’t know the language.

After walking away a few times, and being chased after a few times, we finally settled on 2,200 ksh (about $28 USD). I have a beautiful, legit, African Jembe drum, for less than 30 bucks. Thank goodness for Kate and her negotiating skillz!

Here you will see my new drum, earrings, and Tusker, THE beer of Kenya, all in front of my mosquito net. I haven't tried the beer yet...


  1. I LOVE your article!! Thanks, Tarrin, for the memories! <3 Kate

  2. Tarrin, Thanks for the insight into life in Kenya. The drum is beautiful. Take it easy on the beer.Thanks for the blog. Keep it coming.
    Papa and Grandma

  3. I foresee a sheet-hammock in Phoenix upon your return. :-)
    I know a sweet young girl that offered up her bed often for her elderly Aunt (hee hee)! she too was kind to offer.
    and lastly, cannot wait for you to come visit my new place and try out that drum at the one and only, Venice Beach drum circle! and what a good price -- great Kate! -- Love you, AP