Friday, August 19, 2011


Karibu is Swahili for “welcome”. And I must say that the Kenyan people have been extremely welcoming. Nairobi is a busy place and every time we have been driving around the town I am amazed by the vast numbers of people going different directions and how crowded the streets are with both cars and pedestrians. There have been many different things that have surprised me since we got here. I’m sure I can expect many more surprises over the next two weeks.

I was first surprised by how quickly it got dark here. Our flight landed in Nairobi around 6pm local time and by the time we picked up out luggage and found our driver, it was completely dark outside. It was also raining and a bit chilly. I suppose the weather here will be a good transition for me as I get accustomed to cooler weather back in Colorado when I return.

On the drive to the hotel there were a few noteworthy things. First, there are the buses, which I think are the public means of transportation. Since my only other non-western international experience has been Guatemala, I’ve been constantly comparing things to Guatemala. In Guatemala, they have buses as public transportation as well and they call them chicken buses. My guess is you could call the Kenyan buses chicken buses as well because we certainly saw chickens riding on top of a bus…LOTS of chickens hanging from the luggage racks on top of a bus. We’re pretty sure they were alive too…PETA eat your heart out!

We also saw just how crazy the streets get when it rains. There was some decently high water in areas and the traffic was really bad. Some people tried to take short cuts to get around the traffic and it didn’t always work out so well. We saw a bus completely stuck in the mud because it was trying to cut through a grassy median to get around the traffic.

Our hotel is absolutely gorgeous. It’s definitely very western in the services and amenities provided. The rooms are great. Smaller than a hotel room you’d see in the states, but bigger than my tiny house! No air conditioning, but they keep the windows open and have a fan in the room. It’s actually so cool outside you don’t need air conditioning right now anyway. The hotel occupies a significant amount of space and has many buildings spread out across their lush property. Everything is open (i.e. no doors) until you get to the room areas which are secured by an access door. Consequently I’ve seen at least once cat just kind of roaming around through the hotel, which is kind of humorous.

The people of Kenya are very formal in their mannerisms. They greet with handshakes and are constantly serving tea. :) I love that tradition! The Swahili word for tea is chai, so the flavor is very familiar. I had some marsala chai yesterday, which has ginger in it. Kenyans actually don’t often drink coffee, which is surprising since they export so much coffee. The coffee offered is instant, and with hot milk/water…so not your typical American coffee! Glad my favorite baristas stocked me up on some via before I left!

I’ve learned that the weather here is fairly constant, but this is definitely the cloudy/cooler season. I’ve been totally shocked by how chilly it is here and have often wished I’d brought warmer clothing (though I’m not sure how I would have gotten through the weight limits). It typically doesn’t get any hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit here, which is surprising since Kenya overlaps the equator. Consequently, they really don’t have air conditioning or heating in their buildings, everything is very open and designed to let the air circulate.

After getting to drive around the city some, I’m shocked at how chaotic traffic is. There are no street lights, just circles at the major intersections. They have vans as a major means of transporting people and the van drivers are crazy. They often drive on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic to get around stopped vehicles. They are constantly pulling over to the side to drop off and pick up passengers and then cutting back into the flow of traffic. There appears to be little to no enforcement of any sort of traffic regulations. I’m so grateful for our driver, George, who’s been carting us around all week. He does such a beautiful job of getting through traffic in good spirits and without getting us killed!

I am learning so much about Compassion – both the things that are going great and the things that probably need work, which is good. We’ve spent the first three days at the field office interviewing staff to learn their roles and responsibilities. I have been so blessed by participating in their devotional/worship activities throughout the week. These people are prayerful, which has been so humbling. They pray with such passion and often over everything that goes on and that’s brought so much needed conviction to my heart.

Today we went to visit two of the Compassion projects in Nairobi. It was a very good first experience at what projects are like. I’ll be posting more about the projects later with pictures. For now it’s time for a shower and some dinner!

Asante sana!
(Thank you very much!)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Packing, Unpacking, Packing

Here's a quick update on life:

My last day of work at the Texas A&M System was August 5th.  The Uhaul was already loaded when I left work that day at noon to pick up the cats and meet friends for lunch at Freebirds before hitting the road.  So glad to get to see Steph one last time before leaving.

Erica, Rach, Beth, Diesel, Bella and I hit the road after lunch and started the long trek to Amarillo.  We made it in safely that night by about 1:30am.  Needless to say, we were exhausted.  The next morning we headed out by about 9am for the border.  After a breakfast stop at Braums, we hit the Texas/New Mexico border before lunchtime.

I concluded that I hate driving through New Mexico.  There was "construction" from the state line to Raton, NM, with no workers, no equipment, but 45 and 55 mph speed limits.  Very frustrating!

Eventually we made it out of NM and into CO and arrived in Colorado Springs by about 4pm.  I had found an apartment online the week prior to departure and was able to put down a deposit at one I liked.  So, upon arrival we promptly went to the apartment complex so I could look at it and decide whether to lease it.  It really pays to have your own construction inspector along on trips like this...thanks Erica!  The apartment checked out and I signed the lease and by 6:30 we had the trailer completely unloaded into the garage and we were heading off to return it.

My apartment is great!  It's a two bedroom/one bathroom which is perfect for company, so start making reservations now!  I have an attached one car garage which is directly below my apartment.  Other garages are also below my apartment, so I don't have to worry about making too much noise on the floor which is nice.  There's also no apartments above me or on either side of me, which is a huge blessing and means I rarely hear any noise!

So, I've been busy this week trying to get my apartment semi-unpacked.  I've managed to get the kitchen unpacked and the bathroom mostly unpacked.  My closet and the linen closet are pretty well put together.  I was so blessed to have Rach along last weekend to do some grocery shopping for me so I didn't starve this week...thanks Rach!  And equally blessed to have Beth there to help me find a new mattress so I'm not sleeping on air this week...thanks Beth!

And here are a few pictures in no particular order...
 Bella playing in the new apartment.  She seems to be adjusting okay.

 Check out her claws!  That's why she's "Killer"!

 Diesel likes the new toys.

 Though perhaps doesn't like the paparazzi.

 Steph and I before leaving for Colorado.  Miss her!

 Random picture of Karis and I from earlier this summer.  Just too cute, had to throw it in!

 Picture of me in the new place.  That big blue book is one of the many cool things I got from Compassion during my first week.  It's going to be an awesome organization to work for!

 From left to right: Erica, Rachael, me, and Beth; dressed and ready for church Sunday after moving.

From left to right: Beth, Rachael, Erica and I in front of Garden of the Gods Sunday afternoon on our whirlwind tour about Colorado Springs.  Miss you ladies very much and so thankful for all the many ways you helped me last weekend!

And the last couple of days I've been busy getting the things together that I need for Africa and getting them packed.  Can't believe I'll be heading for the airport in 15 hours!  I was so blessed by a co-worker who's offered to keep an eye on my place and kitties while I'm gone.  I'm looking forward to the trip.  It's going to be a great opportunity to get to know my new boss better and to learn so much about Compassion's ministry!

Hopefully I'll be able to post an update or two from Africa, otherwise be ready for pictures when I get back in September!  :)  Who knows, maybe it will snow here when I get back...weird!!