A Special Milkshake

March 8, 2009

Having eaten “cold confectionary treats” in Mombasa I can tell you that the only similarity between Alpine Ice Cream here and elsewhere in the world was in the spelling of the name.  Mamaw Duncan came to visit Kenya during her later years.  Mom had a way of making everyone feel at home, even her “in law”.  The only way that I can describe the vast difference between this ice cream and Mom’s homemade goodness is to relate the following story.  This is the story of the “special milk shake”.  Alan and I were in one of the local ice cream shops and were trying to decide which choice would more closely approximate the taste of Mom’s homemade Ice cream.  We both noticed the marquee explaining that this store sold not only “milk shakes”, but “special milk shakes”.  With our curiosity aroused we asked the proprietor what made the “special” milk shake so “special”?  He did not even crack a smile when he proudly announced that the item that made these milk shakes special was “ICE CREAM”!  Alan and I could not find the door fast enough following that revelation.


“Hunting” Season

January 29, 2009

While in Africa we hunted for most of the meat that graced our table.  As a child I loved to go on these trips to the “bush”.  In Kenya at the time we hunted you rented or reserved tracks of land that were set aside as hunting areas.  These large areas were set aside as hunting “blocks” and only so many hunters could occupy the same block at the same time.  Most of these areas were also inhabited by members of the nomadic Maasai tribal group.  These wandering herdsmen are often portrayed as the “face” of Kenya’s warriors.  These nomads wander across the vast bush of Kenya herding their cattle from water hole to grazing area in a never ending quest for forage and moisture.  One of the things you could always count of was after setting up camp sooner or later a few of these proud people would wander out of the surrounding bush to see what was going on in their territory.  For Mom and Dad mission work did not stop just because we were out “shopping” for the larder.  We always shared spoils from the hunt as well as medical help when the need arose.  The Bible speaks of entertaining “angels” unaware and I know that Mom and Dad did just that several times while on these hunts.  I must admit though that I tend to imagine angels wearing more than just a Masai shuka!  Modesty sometimes took a backseat when the wind blew the wrong way.  Lessons learned during these “chance” encounters later paved the way to further the work of the Lord for Dad and Julia Duncan (my new mom) while they served in Kenya later in life.  The Word tells us that we should always be ready to share His good news both in season and out.  I am sure that the Lord was not speaking of “hunting” season however I do know He won’t mind me making the comparison in this blog.  I am often asked if I felt I missed out in life because I lived in Kenya for so many years.  I would say that quite the contrary is true, I don’t know many adults that have experienced what I took for granted growing up in Kenya!


The New Deal

January 24, 2009

Perhaps Robert Burns said it best when he mentioned that, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry!”

I thought I would start off with a explanation of why my blogging project got derailed for almost a year.  Here was plan A, I was to take a few weeks off and then start updating my blog with the zillion or so pictures that either Dad or myself took during our time in Kenya.  I found a great place online that would scan those pictures and take special care of my photographic memories by converting them to a digital form.  After careful research I decided that the company “digmypics” should get my business.  After trying to decide whether to send a few test slides or my whole stash I decided to gamble all my cards in one play and boxed up my collection and shipped them off to Arizona.  Things were going great at first as the good folks from “digmypics” received my slides and started converting my memories to a digital form.  Then as it sometimes does disaster struck!  I was checking on my order and received the news that “digmypics” had burnt to the ground over the weekend!  I will not bore you with the heart-wrenching details but will just say that this company went above and beyond the call of duty and ended up returning approximately 7/8’s of my slides intact and just slightly worse for wear.

I choose this picture to start the year off because it tells several stories.  First, it demonstrates with visual clarity the near miss my memories took during the fire at digmypics.  As a computer geek I spend most of my day telling folks to back up their work unless they are willing to live without it.  I feel fairly certain that had the fire been at my house this and several other priceless memories would not have survived the ordeal.  I cannot stress my thanks enough the the folks at digmypics for their efforts on my behalf.  At the date of this post they are back and in my humble opinion better than ever at “making you smile all over again.”  Go visit the site and read the about page to understand what type of people are still out in the world!  Second, this blog has always been about Mom and the things she said and did during her brief visit to earth.  Mom was the entertainer, she was alway busy making sure that those around her were fed both physically and spiritually.  It looks like she is busy doing what she excelled at, making sure the party went off without a hitch!  Third, this picture shows me hamming it up for the camera.  Since you have seen a video or three of mine many years later I bet you can guess what has not changed over the decades.  By the way I intend to do several video blogs since the new laptop I have comes equipped with a built in camera.  Fourth, since sibling rivalry has no statute of limitations it gives me a great chance to bust on my older brother.  Take a look at those teeth!  Perhaps I will take the opportunity to regale you with that story at another time!  Needless to say I am glad to be back and look forward to all comments


April 1st

April 1, 2008

Thursday April 1st, 1965
Rome, Italy
W.C. Rutchi met us at our hotel and took us to Vatican City so that we could sight see.  WE looked all through this and he and his wife met us for lunch.  We had a good Italian dinner.  After lunch he drove us around Rome, and to the Catacombs.  Later Mr. and Mrs. Starmer met us at the hotel and took us to the airport.  Alan talked with Mrs. Starmer all the way to the airport about the Catholic religion.  We got on our plane to ride all night to Africa.  The plane was very small and very crowded and I was not able to sleep any.  Ken and Alan slept very well though.

We have come full circle as of today’s post.  I started this journey 1 year ago today, and like Morgan Freeman in this clip from “Shawshank Redemption” I did not know where it would lead.  The postings will not occur daily as they did before but I am fairly sure this is not the end.  I will be taking a two week hiatus before embarking on the next leg of this journey.  Touch base with the page then and let’s travel the way together!

Thanks again for reading my thoughts and sharing your kind comments!


March 31st

March 31, 2008

Monday March 31st, 1969
Clinton, Tennessee
This morning I shampooed my hair and tried to prepare for my speech tonight by reading my diaries that I kept while in Africa.  Dean Buchannon and his wife came by to see us.  They told us that they had contacted the F.M.B. about going as missionaries.  M.G. and I both had talked how we felt they were interested.  A little boy from South Clinton called that he had found Alan’s glove which he left at the ball field yesterday.  I gave him a carved lion for a reward.  Tonight I spoke at the Associational W.M.U. at Andersonville.  Saw lots of friends.

I guess the apple does not fall far from the tree.  Mom used her diaries to prepare for a speech and now some 38 years later those very words are immortalized on the World Wide Web!  Mom, like me realized that the weakest ink is stronger than the strongest memory.  As a matter of fact the only thing that might last longer than the written word is the life that is changed by the spoken word.

You could almost hear the excitement in Mom’s voice when she talked about the Buchannon’s and their call to missions.  Mom and Dad knew that the only way for Christ to be spread throughout this earth is let the Lord equip ordinary people with extraordinary talents.

So often when I hear people talk about missionaries they think that they are endowed with marvelous powers that enable them to wonderful things.  After reading Mom’s words we find just the opposite is true.  The power to do the miraculous comes from the Spirit that dwells within us.

Today a little boy received a heartfelt reward from a missionary lady.  Who knows but that that small gift started a chain of events that formed and shaped lives for years to come?  Who have you affected today?  And more importantly who have you let Christ affect through you?


March 30th

March 29, 2008

Tuesday March 30th, 1982
Knoxville, Tennessee
This morning we went over to Court South for our exercises.  Then we came home and got ready to go to Bonny Kate School where we had two sessions of showing our slides and curios.  While there we learned that Corky Maner, who is Andrea’s aunt, teaches there.  She came out to the car where we were waiting for Jane Rule who had contacted us about speaking.  We ate lunch there.  They had pizza.  After we finished speaking, we took Ken’s laundry by the BSU.  He was not there so we just left them. We got gas for the car and had it washed while in the U.T. area.  Tonight we went to C-N-C to see Jeff play football.  We met Mary Nell, B.J., Jenny, and Helen Mouser in Jefferson City at a little hoagie eating place.  Jeff’s team lost 33 to 0.  We saw the Daniels and Cagles at the ballgame.

After greeting the morning with some heart pumping calisthenics Mom and Dad went on the do the thing that really brought them joy.  Because Dad and Mom were from Tennessee and also gave such a good presentation they were given an open door into many of the local schools in during our trips home.  As a missionary kid I have been too many a boring gathering where the speaker, a missionary, would almost put you to sleep.  My folks were not of this ilk.  While other presenters were hesitant about letting you get to close to their wares Dad and Mom encouraged everybody young and old to touch, smell, and hold pretty much any curio we had.  Dad told me later when I mentioned something about his presentation style being different that the decision to let people interact with our discussions was made while he was a young man.  I do know that my folks had one of the best if not the best discourse on mission activities that I have ever heard or seen.  I realize my opinion might be a little slanted but then again this is my blog.

My cousin played football at Carson Newman and evidently they did not have a good showing this evening.  Mom and Dad just enjoyed being with friends and family for the night.


March 29th

March 29, 2008

Wednesday March 29th, 1967
Mombasa, Kenya
This morning I shampooed my hair again.  Too we enjoyed some more spinach for lunch.  Ken didn’t feel up to going to school today so I let him stay home.  This afternoon we went down to the Milligan’s house and bought 79 shillings worth of their records that they are selling.  Saw in today’s paper that the Nairobi snake park had gotten some boa-constructors, five rattlesnakes, and a king snake in exchange for some cobras from here.

I can’t say for sure, but I am pretty positive I did not skip school today to have spinach for lunch.  It is funny how your tastes change as you get a few years under your belt.  Just yesterday I enjoyed a salad that was half spinach and a few days before that even ordered spinach at one of my favorite restaurants.

It seems this week was the week for “horse tradin” Mom and Dad find some deals at the neighbor’s yard sale and country music lives eternally at the Duncan household.

We also had our share of snakes in Mombasa but I daresay if we were to trade them for something it would not be more snakes.  One of the things these diary posts do for me is bringing to mind stories that molded my childhood.  In Mombasa one afternoon while we were playing outside I noticed a green snake beside Alan’s foot.  I told him it was there and after he looked down and saw it (he did not believe me at first) after he jumped away both of us decided we needed to dispatch the serpent.  The only handy weapon was a large rock close by so we set about stoning the reptile.  Once we finally sent him on to his final resting place we decided to ask our helper if he knew what type of scaly creature we had slain.  To his horror and our surprise we found out it was a green mamba one of the most venomous snakes on the planet.  God truly protects fools and kids. (This time he got two for the price of one.)