Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Bobby writes about the sea

One of the highlights of staying at the A Rocha’s Mwamba Field Study Centre is, of course, the ocean! One of the highlights of the ocean is the coral reefs. Truly incredible and I’m also looking forward to driving the A Rocha boat out there! As you drive out, you see the speckled ocean floor, and imagine what is going on down there. Boat stops, anchor down; mask on, ready to go! Impatiently, you wait for the clouds of white bubbles to clear, and look down to see…sand! Then you search for the coral. Suddenly it looms out of the misty water, much bigger than expected. Huge coral heads with dark silhouettes moving about them. Take a big breath and dive down, everything is thrown into detail. Stunning butterflyfish, striking damsel fish, and monumental sweet lips and wrasse under the ledges. There are usually only one or two things that really make an impression in the 2-3 hours of swimming. For me it was when my dad showed me a Meyer’s butterflyfish, my favourite kind.

Thank you all so much for helping us get here, and praying for us all the way. You’re appreciated!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

This past week in Kenya

Matthew looking for creatures with Whale Island in the distance.

We’re gathered under the ceiling fan in one of our two rooms at the Arocha guest centre. The day is still warming up, and a brief downpour just after sunrise gave the early morning a sleepy, cooler feel. We’ve got the beds pushed together right under the fan, so that at night, we can keep as cool as possible. Even the locals feel hot during this season of the year, and we are grateful for the ocean to cool off in, though we try to keep ourselves indoors or in the shade during the most intensively sunny mid-day time.

Life at the centre is welcoming and friendly, with many interesting guests coming and going. The staff graciously helps us take a stab at some Swahili greetings and phrases, though they are all quite fluent in English. The kids are eager to share that the Kenyan pancakes are amazing. We are all enjoying the food. The monkeys who jump around noisily on the roofs and peer at us as we eat have helped us understand the possible origins of the English phrase “cheeky monkeys,” as they even make the occasional opportunist dash into the dining room, attempting to snatch something tasty. Cindy was outside reading under a shady tree the other day, with monkeys above jumping about and chucking down the husks of tiny fruits on which they were breakfasting.

As a family, we have been focusing this last week on identifying marine creatures in the nearby tide pools as part of serving in the centre’s ongoing outreach to local school children. We are writing a tide pooling guide, and preparing a power point presentation and other materials to help people enjoy God’s ocean creation. One of the immediate goals is to help staff and a couple classes (maybe 50-plus kids each) of local primary school children experience some rock pooling over the next few weeks, hopefully putting things in place for local staff, teachers, and other volunteers to continue to help children (and other Arocha guests) have a positive experience of God’s beauty in the ocean for years to come. - Cindy writing

Bobby the creative photographer. He picked up a handful of sand and shot the photo from underwater.

Bob's research outfit

A tidepool photo. Coral in the left hand corner with green algae and a brittle star moving towards the upper right. The brittle stars wave their arms on the surface of the tidepool to collect food.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Arrival in Kenya

Just a quick post to let you know that we arrived safely in Kenya and have gotten to work at the A Rocha Kenya centre in Watamu. We spent two nights in Nairobi and then were driven down to the coast. Ten hours later, we arrived hot and sweaty and ready for a swim. It has been great to renew old friendships and make new ones. Bob has been working with the Research and Monitoring team planning for the new year. One of the projects the family is working on relates to environmental education and research in the rockpools and sandy beach in front of the centre. We are preparing an activity for a local school that will include a presentation which Sarah is taking the lead on, a laminated guide to the main rockpool creatures, which Bobby is taking the lead on, and a guidebook for the area. A Rocha will be able to use this for local schools, churches, and guests. Some pictures below with more to follow.
My lovely research assistants

A local boat

Any guesses on what is making this track? I'll take guesses for a few days and then show you a picture of the animal that made it - and I'm not talking about my footprints.