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!)

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