Saturday, December 1, 2012

So I Married an Ex-Con

Did you ever see the comedy "So I Married an Axe Murderer"?  

Well, this is nothing like that.

When we went to Virginia in 2009 for an 8-week training course with our company, we had a funny experience happen on the first day.  We walked in my oldest daughter’s classroom to find a piece of paper on the bulletin board identifying her place in the class.  It had her name, date of birth, and parents’ names.  The name and date of birth were correct, but her parents were listed as “Con & Kathryn Taylor.”

I have no idea where the name “Con” came from or why it was there, but we have laughed about it several times since then, and lovingly called Doug that on occasion.

Fast-forward to Nairobi, Kenya, October 2012.

My sweet husband offered to take my mother and the kids to a game park while I stayed home with the newborn.  They wanted to leave early to make sure they could get there when the park opened and have a chance to look for “cats.”  Usually a person’s best bet to see cats is early in the morning, after they’ve hunted at night.

I fixed lunches the night before, and they were packed and off early the next morning.

The drive to the game park was 2 hours from Nairobi. They had driven almost an hour when a policeman waved Doug down. 

He was told that a few kilometers back he had been “clocked” with a camera radar gun going 49 kilometers per hour over what he was actually driving.  Mind you, this would have put Doug driving over 90 miles per hour. Doug has never driven this fast in his life and though the speedometer goes above this, our car has never come close to this speed, even going down hill, while passing someone. Doug never drives that fast, but that’s what the man said. 

Doug had company, though.  The police were stopping many people, there were several other cars, buses, and taxis had also been pulled over.  They were told to wait and a police man would escort them to the police station. After thirty minutes of waiting the caravan of accused speeders traveled to the police station.

When they arrived at the Naivasha Police Station…

Let me pause here and ask if you remember my experience in Naivaisha last December?

That’s the town I was robbed in.


Anyway, Doug got out of the car, and locked my mom and the kids inside while he went to pay the fine or whatever it was he had to do. 

Mom and the kids were parked next to a van that had about 30 chickens tied on top.  Also milling around outside were all the passengers from the buses, taxis, and other cars that had been pulled over.

Kylie had my camera for the day, and she took these lovely photos for you as proof.


Doug was led into a room that was already filled with people who had been stopped for traffic violations. The police pulled out more chairs to make room for Doug and his “new friends.” Here the officers were hand-writing people’s information on forms (they did not have duplicates, so they had to hand-write all of the duplicates, too). Then they wrote their information in a book that Doug says was as big as half a dining room table.

An hour later, after enough of the accused speeders had their paper work done, they were marched single-file by armed guards in front and in back. Doug likes to call this the “chain gang.”

My Mom and the kids, still in the car, saw Doug being escorted out of the room they had taken him into, but they had no idea where they were taking him or what was happening.

Doug and the other drivers walked a half-mile to the “court house.” Here, Doug and the other perpetraters were led to a large fenced-in area next to the “court house.” Doug likes to call this fenced area “general population.”

General population had two smaller fenced-in areas where more people were behind the locked gate of those smaller areas. Doug likes to call those areas “solitary confinement.” That where the really bad guys are held.

About 10 minutes after arriving here, there were two truck-loads full of men in handcuffs backed up to the gate. The first group of men were unhandcuffed as they exited the truck and were let into “general population.”  The second truck-load of handcuffed men were unhandcuffed and led into one of the solitary confinement cages and the door was shut, but this time they locked the solitary confinement cage with some handcuffs.

Doug said he quickly moved to put his back to a wall and keep an eye on everyone while waiting for who-knows-what to happen. As Doug waited in general population to be called into court, he knew he would have to plead guilty or the ordeal would just take longer.  Finally, they called Doug’s name and he entered the court to appear before the judge and a packed courthouse full of people, but they had gotten Doug’s paperwork wrong. That could have been bad – “Uh, yes it says here that you stole a car and killed someone.”

For two hours Doug was in general population at the court house waiting for his trial!
Once they corrected the paper work, they called Doug back into the courthouse, and he agreed to their terms of payment.

While in gerneral population with all the other drivers, Doug found, that on average, they had all been clocked going over 20 km/hr over what they had actually been traveling.

Meanwhile, Mom and the kids were stuck in a hot car.  They weren’t eating because they would get thirsty, and they weren’t drinking any water because they didn’t want to have to go to the bathroom.  

After appearing in court Doug was moved to one of the solitary confinement cages - the one next to the hand-cuffed locked cage. One of the men in that cage kept whispering loudly trying to get Doug’s attention and to get him to do something for him.  Doug knew better than to hurt his chances of getting “out,” so he stayed put. He knew if this is what he was experiencing for speeding, he was not willing to find out what would happen if he aided and abetted a hardened criminal. 

The officers asked him if he had a type of payment plan that people sometimes have on their phone.  He did not.

About this time, everyone in the car needed to go to the bathroom.  But Mom was wise and didn’t want to let them go out in a strange area to find a toilet, and they couldn’t all go together and leave the car unlocked because Doug took the keys with him, so they were busy devising a plan where Mom would take one at a time and leave the other two locked up, waiting.

Doug had to give his fine money to a police officer guarding the gate leading out of general population and out to freedom. On top of the fine, Doug had to pay for the police officer to take a taxi to town to give his money to a certain bank and get a receipt saying Doug had paid. Thirty minutes later the police officer returned,  and finally Doug could be released.

When he reached the car, Mom and the kids were just getting ready to go to the bathroom, but they hadn’t left yet.

It had been three and half hours!

They did make it to the game park, but that wasn’t an easy task either.  They went to one entrance gate, and they were told they had to have a special pass to enter there.  SO…they had to drive another thirty minutes into town, and wouldn’t you know, the lady at the gate gave Doug a particularly hard time about his Uganda work visa.  She said he should let the Ugandan government know that he should have a certain stamp, not a sticker, like they had given him.

Uh…ok…I will…do that?!?

Anyway, they got home way after dark, and told me about the “Terrible, Wonderful Day,” as they called it. 

I had ordered pizza for them, but after one hour, I called to ask where they were.  They said that the Ugandan cell number I gave them wasn’t good for ordering in Kenya.  (Of course they didn’t tell me that when I ordered).  Anyway, I gave them a Kenya number, and tried again.  Another HOUR later, their dinner finally arrived.

What a day!

And that’s how it is that I married an Ex-Con.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bringing Keira into the World

We left at 6am for a 6:30am check-in.   

This is my "early morning" look

Unfortunately, no one told us the hospital is gated closed until 7am.  We drove a city block looking for an entrance.  After asking a guard, we were told we were supposed to go to the EXIT gate and wait to be let in.

Well..of course.  How obvious!

Doug and I were taken to a room where they took my vitals and dressed me in a nice terry cloth robe before wheeling me through several hallways to the “theatre” (their word for operating room).

The “drug” lady (anesthesiologist) gave me a spinal (one of the best I’ve ever had) while my doctor prepped her team.  I, then, visited with both ladies while we waited for the drugs to take effect and while Doug got dressed.  I talked about where they like to vacation.  The “drug” lady is quite the adventurist.

I was laid on a table with both arms stretched out to the side on side tables, and a curtain was put in front of my face.  The pediatrician also came in to greet me and let me know he was there to check the baby when “it” came out.

The “drug” lady sat by my head administering meds and asking me continually how I felt.  It’s a good thing she was so cautious.  I was allergic to a couple of the medications, so she had to keep switching kinds to see what worked for me.

When I’ve been cut open before, the doctor has always “pulled” the baby out, but for some reason, a nurse was told to stand by my head and “push” down hard on my stomach to assist in the “pulling.”

I heard someone say the baby was out, and I asked Doug what “it” was, but he couldn’t see behind the curtain either.  When they brought “it” around, no one said anything.  Doug said, “It’s a girl!” then they took her away.

I asked what color hair she had, but Doug hadn’t looked that far north.

From this point on, I just lay there.  After giving her oxygen, a nurse held her down for a second where I saw her nose and forehead profile, but then she was gone again.  Doug followed her to another room where they warmed her, she saw her siblings and grandmother in the hall, but it was a couple of hours before I saw her again.

I declined “sleeping” drugs during recovery so I would be semi-alert if I ever got to see my daughter again J  I didn’t want to miss more than I had to.

After staying in the recovery room a while, they wheeled me to my room, but it was locked.  Doug and I had locked our belongings in there when we left.  So, I just lay on a gurney in the hall with four nationals standing around talking to me.  A bit awkward.

While we were waiting, the kids and my mom walked up, and thankfully, my mom had the key!

When Doug came with the baby, she still hadn’t had a bath, so we couldn’t tell her hair color, but my first thoughts were how small and beautiful she was.


My fist compared to her head
It was still 2 hours before we had a name for her.  

All-in-all, there wasn’t too much difference between a C-section in America and a C-section in Africa (at this particular hospital).

The differences were noted in nursing care.

Just like their culture here, they believe that the babies need to be bathed at 5:30am.  I asked them to wait until later in the day.

When the nurses came in, it was without a thermometer.  They asked if we had brought one (thanks, Jenny-Anne), and then asked Doug to take my temperature and Keira’s.  He then had to convert it to Celsius on his phone and tell them so they could record it.   This happened numerous times!

Another difference was the “get up” time.  In the States, I think I was given at least 24 hours in my bed before being made to get up and walk.  Here, I was given about 4 hours, and after the drugs wore off, they had me up and walking.  I think this is the reason that my stitches area doesn’t feel so good, even 10 days later, as I write this.

Around dinner time on the second evening, a nurse came to inform me that a “room was now available.”  I didn’t know we weren’t in the right room, but we told them we’d rather move the next morning.  But the next morning, the room had been taken, so we just told them we’d stay where we were. 

But 6 hours later, another opened, and they came to get us.

A lady came and took our bags on a rolling cart.  Doug and some friends followed her carrying other odds and ends.  She took off pretty fast, and Kylie said, “I can’t see them anymore.”  We weren’t given any other instructions about the move, except the room number.  We didn’t know quite what to do.

So, the kids pushed Keira in her rolling bed, my mom carried a vase of flowers, and I walked to the elevators, and we went up to the 2nd floor.  When we exited the elevator, the same lady who took the bags had a wheelchair and was apparently coming for me.  But of course, there had been no communication.

This room had hot air blowing out of an air condition unit, so Doug turned it off.  We didn’t want to open a window like we had upstairs, because Keira and I had both gotten bitten by mosquitos the night before.  And even though Doug got the A/C to blow a little better, it never felt like it got below 75, and I pretty much sweat the entire time I was there.  And after that first night, we requested a mosquito net for Keira’s crib, and that seemed to work okay.

The doctor told the nurses to make sure they covered my wound with plastic, so I could shower.  However, later the nurse told me the plastic wouldn’t work, so I asked if I could have a washcloth to wash myself.  I was informed I could have a “flannel,” but it would cost extra shillings. 

I didn’t know what a “flannel” was, but I said, “Okay.”

It turns out that a “flannel” is a washcloth, so I got half-way clean.

The food was wonderful.  I was given a menu each day to choose my meals, and lunch and dinner, I could choose a “starter” a main course and a dessert.  And even though the doctor wanted me on a certain diet, she let me monitor it, and order what I wanted.

I was brought two 1-liter bottles of water a day to drink and brush my teeth with.  And every morning I was brought a powdered mix to stir into my cup to drink, and every morning, I had to ask for a spoon to stir the mix and wait 30 minutes minimum for someone from food services to bring a spoon on a silver tray.  (All my meal orders were taken by someone dressed like a waiter, and all of my meals were delivered in a fancy fashion).

The line put into my arm to administer medicine to me was always getting stopped up and blocked because they don’t tape them like in the States where there are no kinks in the line.  They had to flush the line several times and each nurse coming in didn’t know the problem from the nurse before, so each nurse was surprised by the problem, and I had to re-explain it several times.

I’m SO glad that this wasn’t my first baby.  (You are my heroes Lindsay T and Lindsey P for having your first child here!)  It wasn’t until Day 4 that someone in passing said, “Is nursing coming okay?  Did you have any questions?”  I would have felt completely clueless if this had been my first.

When my first was born in Mississippi, a lactation specialist spent a lot of time with me showing me the right way for the baby to nurse, and helping me every step of the way.

On the day I was discharged, the doctor gave the nurses specific information of things that had to happen before I could be discharged.  NONE of them happened, except that I finally got to shower (the doctor was upset that they hadn’t covered me with plastic before now and let me shower).  I didn’t mention anything to anyone, because I was just ready to go home.

But what DID happen on the last day was a continuous line of random visits from hospital staff.

The floor director came by and wanted to know how the service and care had been.

The head of food services came in and wanted a testimony about what I thought of the food.

Four nurses came in, including the head of nurses, and she wanted me to give an oral report on my nursing care.

The fun part about the hospital stay was when the kids and my mom came up each day.  Caleb would run into the room first, and he wouldn’t even say “hi” to me.  He ran in the bathroom and washed his hands so he could be the first one to hold her.

The kids took 30 minute turns holding her.  Karis even skipped lunch twice so she could stay in the room and hold her longer, while everyone else went to the café.

Overall, it was a great stay.  Thank you for your continuous prayers.

Meet the Taylor 6!

 We are all back "home" and doing well, enjoying every minute with our sweet Keira. 

We have the birth certificate and the passport process is underway!


God is SO good!!!


This is our church in Arua.  I think I've showed you pictures before, but I thought I would do it again.

Also, you should never complain about how hard the pews are where you go to church...ever ;)

The church is held in a secondary classroom on the second floor of a boarding school.  During the school term, a lot of students join us, but when this picture was taken, school was not in session.
To be fair, this is the beginning of the service, and people trickle in for the first hour, so the room does indeed fill up.  

AND, since you really never see pictures of us dressed up or looking nice, we decided to dress up for church one day and take pictures for you to show that we can still "clean up good."  But since we don't have a family photographer, we had to take them in shifts :)

Never underestimate the power of chalk.

The first week of school in August, they decided to do this in their free time.

Caleb, with his giraffe

The girls riding their camels.

One of Doug's jobs that he handles so graciously is the hair-cutting of the family.  He does his and Caleb's hair quite often, but this was the first time he had cut the girls'.

A lady from California came last December and cut mine, so as of now, I'm desperately in need of a trim.

So...our first week in Nairobi, I took the girls and myself to a real hair-cutting place!

We all got our hair washed and cut, but the price was a lot more than I'm used to, even for the States.

Kylie was worried about the money, but I told her that since we haven't paid for haircuts in 2 1/2 years, this was just the added price for all the missed ones. 

Kylie also got an interesting retainer this summer to spread her upper jaw apart, in hopes that the bottom jaw will follow suit.

Before, with spacers

After.  Interesting.

One of our special churches in the States had a baby shower for us over skype.  They gathered together and ate OUR favorite foods right in front of us and showed us what different people had bought.

It was a lot of fun laughing together as we watched them enjoy our party.

This is us watching them.

That about wraps up summer.

Now, for the baby story...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The "Mountain Top" Experience....Twice

I figure since this baby is coming in 6 days, I'd better get some posts written that have been sitting here, waiting on me.

This story will be more pictures than words, simply because I wasn't there.

Tyler and Will (our summer interns) saw that their time was winding down, and Doug had wanted to take them to climb a mountain while they were here.

I politely declined the invitation to go, and Karis chose to visit a friend that day.  In Karis' defense, she thought they were camping over-night on the mountain, and she didn't want to do that...and I don't blame her.

Anyway, Kylie, Caleb, Doug and the two guys went, and they "found" Mt Wati.

They started climbing.

It took quite a while.

Resting on mountain #1

Can I tell you how glad my pregnant body was not having this experience!?

 Kylie lost her shoe on this incline, but thankfully, Will hadn't climbed up yet, so he brought it with him.


A guy met them on the way up and walked with Will.  At the top, Will happened to ask, "What is that mountain over there called?"

And he said, "Mt. Wati."


When the rest of the group made it to the top, Will broke the news to everyone.

It was a mountain quite a ways across the valley.

I took this picture off my friends' Jason and Carolyn's blog, so I hope they don't mind.

SO....the 5 Americans hiked down the other side, away from their car, through the valley, through a village, and up the real Mt. Wati.

This mountain, of course, was higher, and took more time, but amazingly, Kylie and Caleb hung in there.

I don't have all the pictures of the climb down and the walk through the valley, but here are some of the "final product" pictures from the second climb.

What a day!!

Kylie's Climbing Buddy at the top of Mt. Wati

Thank you, Will, for holding on to Caleb!

Mt. Wati conquered...finally

Caleb and Doug, making headway on Wati

Caleb apparently didn't know he was on an old ceremonial grave site on the side of Mt. Wati

After 2 mountains and a rain storm, and they are STILL smiling. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Boys of Summer

What a blessing it was that a church we love and used to serve with in Mississippi sent us two interns for a six week term this summer. We had the best time with them, and we couldn't love them more. They were incredible amazing guys, and I apologize (especially to them) that I haven't written a post about them sooner!

The first day they got off the plane, Karis had prepared breakfast (remember?) and then we took them shopping for things they might need in Arua.

It didn't take long before Caleb was attached to Will (literally).  Kids are a good judge of character, and I'd say that Caleb has pretty good taste.  Will Morgan is awesome!

My children were loving them so much by day 3, they couldn't wait to pose by the Nile with them.

I'm not leaving out Tyler.  He is just as awesome as Will.  We love Tyler Slay!

Tyler had been an intern the year before to Kenya, and he brought valuable experience to the "Pioneer" Team.  We never once had to hold their hands, but it would have been okay if we had had to.  

They cooked for themselves, took instruction about culture well, and then they went out and did just what we are called to do as followers of Jesus:

Matthew 28:18-20

New King James Version (NKJV)
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

They started their "going" at the golf course, trying to make connections.

I love this picture of all the nationals trying to find their balls for them.

At the golf course, they met Richard (who ended up being baptized and being my partner at camp), and they met another non-believer that they spent time sharing stories with.

Another place they were faithful to go was the baseball field, with our without Doug. 

When Doug was busy, they biked to the fields anyway.

Doug, letting the team field some balls
Tyler was also kind enough to let me steal pictures from his facebook.  There are so many things in town I wish I could get pictures of for you, but I feel awkward walking around like a tourist with a camera.

Tyler had a small, inconspicuous iphone, and he took some great photos that I stole from him and I'm going to share with you.

You saw most of these if you got my last newsletter, but I wanted to share again.  So many of you want to be able to picture in your head where I live, and though I can never describe it accurately enough for you, these photos do help.

Tyler and Will bought a chicken so they could kill it, pluck it and cook it...just for the experience ;)
Ladies in town cooking the local food...Enya (ground up casava, mixed with millet and water)
The used clothes market, which can be nasty to walk through on wet days
One of the hundreds of local tailors.  They can make anything you like WITHOUT a pattern!
A great place to eat in town.  We don't go here enough!
Pretty typical, especially after a rain
Another great restaurant we love...Ethiopian!!! (No utensils, but great food)

A view of the main road (where the pink building is) from a side street
How dry goods are sold in the market (by the "cup")

A TINY, TINY portion of our HUGE market.  After a rain, it's kind of a mess.

A busy side street.  Everyday greetings occurring and shoes being sold to the right.

My friend says you can find almost anything you need in Arua, if you know where to look...she's probably right ;)
Local auto dealer.  This is what most people drive in Arua.
Another "convenient store" selling boxes of water, jerry cans, and much, much more!
There are so many more stories, but I'll only tell one more (on the next post).  In case you've forgotten (because I've been such a sporadic writer) I've already told you one about baptism.

We love these guys, and we surely hated to see them go!

Last day together, giving them a "going away" gift

You are welcome in our home anytime, Tyler and Will!  You will be part of the Taylor family forever!

In front of Lake Victoria in Entebbe before they flew out