27 July 2010

Day Three

We had another quiet day for the most part yesterday.  Jim and I took a walk down the street with a few others to go to the local "Walmart", known as Nakumatt.  It's NOT a Walmart, and it definitely has Kenyan flair, but we were encouraged by the amount of stuff we could find there.  

We purchased a few snacks for the kids for the next three weeks at "Africa School" (our orientation), and walked around just to see what groceries we will be able to get once we move into our home in three weeks.  We left the kids at the guesthouse with one of the RVA moms, and took in our walk through Nairobi without them.  

It's hard to describe, and we didn't take any pictures, because we really wanted our camera to come home with us instead of getting stolen!  There were many people on the sides of  the street walking.  It's a main road into downtown Nairobi, so there were matatu (public transportation... very crowded little vans) stops every so often.  And plenty of other automobile traffic right next to the path.  It was a bit of a rainy, misty morning, so we got rather muddy along the way.  

It's dirty (but not overwhelmingly so), and the buildings are often run down, compared to American standards.  There are little makeshift buildings (shacks?) in places, there are nicer, large buildings being built in others.  We saw five armed guards or policemen in the store, and more outside.  And by armed, I don't mean a little firearm like our policemen carry in the states.  We are still getting used to the thick accents when English is spoken, and ready to know a little Swahili to make communication more comfortable.  So I suppose all this to say: we were on sensory overload!

So after that outing, we came back and enjoyed the guesthouse grounds some more.

The bird books are still packed so we can't identify these birds, but they're pretty!

Passionfruit flower

A look out past the guesthouse grounds

We got the kids a treat at Nakumatt... strawberry milk!  (There's also pineapple, coffee, bubble gum, banana...)

So now we are off to our orientation in Machakos, Kenya, for three weeks.  We'll have a lot of cultural activities, lots of learning about living in Africa, and who knows what else!  The internet may be limited there, so we'll keep in touch when we can, but it may be a while.  Thanks for your prayers and love!

25 July 2010

Day Two

Last night didn't go as well as the first, all of us but Joel were up and ready to begin the day at 1 AM!  Hopefully our eventful day will help us sleep a little better tonight.  We got up at 5 minutes 'till 8 (breakfast time) and ate a quick breakfast and went off to church next door at Nairobi Baptist Church.  The 8:30 was the "youth and young adults" service, but we felt right at home.  The service was about two hours, and we were invited to a special chai time afterwards since we were visiting.  They prepared us chai, and prepared the kids hot chocolate, who were delighted.  I think that it warmed Faith up to being around all the strangers quite a bit!  They were pretty tired because of the restless night, but did very well considering that.  In this video, you can hear the later church service going on in the background of the kids playing after church (this is the playground at our guest house.)  I thought it was kind of fun to hear the sounds of Sunday morning here!

After lunch, we were picked up by the Fowlers (friends of ours from our candidate week with AIM in 2008) who are serving in Uganda, and will join us at orientation.  They took us to the Giraffe Center here.  You can feed the giraffes and there were also warthogs and tortoises to see.  Jim is enjoying getting glimpses of different birds as well, both at the guesthouse and when we are out and about.

It was also our anniversary, so it has been a fun day to celebrate.  We've never spent it with so many people!  We are thankful for this time to rest, Tuesday after lunch we head down to Machakos, Kenya to begin our orientation.

Happy 6 years!

24 July 2010

We made it!

Jambo from Kenya!  We have arrived, and after crashing into bed at midnight local time, we are ready for our first day in Kenya.  I’ll take a little time to tell you about the trip, and then there are some photos from the journey at the bottom of the post.

Thursday morning was spent loading the truck with everyone’s luggage at AIM headquarters.  There are a good handful of other families, couples and singles heading to the field with us, many of whom are then headed to RVA after orientation.  It’s been great to meet so many people already, and Faith and Joel are grateful to have some new buddies.

We had a commissioning lunch with the staff of AIM and the families of the missionaries that hadn’t said goodbye yet, shared a little about ourselves and shared our last stateside prayer requests.  We were prayed over, loved, hugged and sent on our way.  We were loaded into passenger vans and drove off to the airport about 2 pm.  We arrived around 3 pm and brought everything into the airport.  It’s a giant mess when everyone has at least 8 bags (except most of the singles), as well as all the carry on baggage one could possible take.  There are a few older kids, and that helped immensely with keeping all the younger kids happy and corralled.  (One 6-year old, four 5-year olds, three 3-year olds, and one infant.) 

We had to check everything in with British Airways, some people taking longer than others depending upon the BA staff member.  We checked in individually at the first-class counter while there were no customers there, had a wonderful man help us, and it took about five minutes for each of us, 20 minutes total.  Another family took close to two hours, which was a long and frustrating time for them.  We waited for each other, so by the time we could go through security, we had less than 45 minutes before our plane was supposed to depart.   No time to buy snacks, fill up water bottles, or write a quick note online to say the least!  We ran to the plane, and the door was shut behind us. 

Our family chose to sit in groups of two, and that worked well.  The kids had a little more attention, and kept a little quieter than they might have with interacting with each other!  On the first flight we were served supper, and the kids watched a movie while eating, and we told them it would be bedtime right afterward.  Joel got about 2.5 hours of sleep with Jim, and Faith got about 25 minutes with me.  She rested well, just not long!  We got up for a little breakfast at sunrise and shortly landed in London.  When changing planes in London, there is more security to go through.  So about three long lines and a long walk later, we got to rest a little in the London airport. (By resting, I mean sitting and taking off our bags… no sleep for the weary!) The kids enjoyed some coloring and interacting with their new friends. 

Then it was time for flight number two.  Our goal was to keep the kids awake a little more to help them begin to adjust to their new time zone.  They tried, but they both needed little morning naps.  I woke Joel up after another couple of hours.  They enjoyed movies and toddler TV on their individual screens in the airplane.  I will admit that I slept for quite a while Joel watched his TV after lunch… and who knows what else he was doing!  We were definitely in survival mode at this point.  The kids did well on the plane.  Of course they were kids, and they were tired most all the time (they never got a full night’s sleep in New York before we even left) but they listened to us well for the most part and enjoyed the adventure.  By the way, British Airways was WONDERFUL with the kids.  I’m pretty sure they feed the kids more than the adults!

We landed in Nairobi at 9 PM, regrouped and headed to immigration.  Jim and I were questioned about what we were doing quite a bit.  It made me a little nervous!  Others were questioned heavily like us as well, but some not at all.  And we were one of the first families to go through, so it was a little intimidating.  Nothing out of the ordinary, and we have nothing to hide, but we had been given very clear instructions about what to say, which we followed, and we sure didn’t have any practice for this situation!  (The feeling I had a lot last night and this morning was that ‘I’ll be glad for the day when this feels like normal life!’)

We headed downstairs in the airport to get our baggage, which felt like Newark, take two, but we all made it through customs without any more questioning, so that was helpful... we were ready to go to bed!  We had a few AIM AIR (AIM’s aviation ministry) pilots who were behind customs with us to help point us in the right directions and such.  That was nice… normally you can’t have help in that area of the airport.  At this point, it’s close to 11 PM, and the kids are just ready to be done with the traveling.  We got things loaded and sorted (most of our bags are arriving at RVA this morning, while just a few stay with us for the next three weeks) and climbed in a bus to come here to the Mayfield Guesthouse, where we arrived just about midnight.  The kids had “Daniel Boone” stories (what we tell them when we don’t have any books to read) and we all fell right to sleep.  We got up at 7; Jim and I took wonderful hot showers (something I never had at all in Kenya the first time, so that was comforting) and woke the kids up for a breakfast of cereal, toast and bananas. They weren’t too hungry this morning, since we woke them up so hopefully they’ll make it to lunch!  They are now playing happily on the playground.  It’s wonderfully cool here.  It’s probably 65F outside.  I’m putting on long sleeves the next time I go out!

So that was our trip.  Thank you for praying, and please continue to do so!

AIM Headquarters in NY:  Loading up the luggage truck

Everyone's things (not nearly all of it!) in Newark Airport

Last sight of the US for (ack!) two years!  You can see Central Park... this is New York City.

Faith enjoying doing some little crafts in London's Heathrow airport.

Joel playing with his new airplane toy in London.

Faith sharing her coloring book with a new friend

Mary helped us pretty much the whole way with our kids in the airports and getting everything around.  She is 16, coming to RVA with her family as well, and pretty much did the trip by herself so she could help us.  What a blessing!

First sight of Africa... the Sahara desert.

We landed in Kenya!

Faith happy to finally be at her new home!

Our room, last night.

Good morning, Kenya!

Our guesthouse, a beautiful place.

22 July 2010


We're on our way!  Talk to you on the other side in a few days!  Pray hard!

20 July 2010

In New York

Last night we had one last Grandma & Grandpa bedtime story...

Hopped on an airplane with two excited little kids

Who saved their sleep for the car ride to AIM's headquarters.

We're headed to bed now, with a big day of meetings, paperwork, and organizing ahead!  We head out for Kenya on Thursday after lunch.  

(PS: Everything went well for our travels... thanks for praying!)

19 July 2010

The Leaving Part

Tonight we're in Denver, writing from the hotel, jumping on a 10:30 flight to New York in the morning.  Yesterday we had a wonderful and encouraging commissioning service in Paonia at one of our supporting churches.  It was a wonderful time of focus on missions, our call, and encouragement for us from so many people - some life-long friends of mine, others whom I (Jim) only met yesterday.  The hardest part, though, was saying our last few goodbyes.  This, I've known all along, is the hardest part for me.  I'm comfortable here, I love the mountains, people here know and understand me.  I have role models here and people who look up to me.

I'm sure excitement will take over sometime soon, but for now my mind is filled with the leaving.  From friends in Woodland Park over a month ago to my parents in the morning, it's been a long goodbye tour: friends, jobs, mountains, homes, family...  It's a blessing to know we're following God's call, a blessing to feel so well supported in prayer and a blessing to have so many behind us, holding the ropes.  Thank you!

17 July 2010

The final details

We're working out the final details today for many things.  The bags are getting packed, we're changing the addresses on the final bills and accounts, we're chatting with friends and family one last time from Colorado.  Tomorrow we have a commissioning service at the church here in Paonia, followed by a brunch in our honor.  We are looking forward to connecting with supporters one last time, being encouraged and sent on our way.

Monday afternoon we'll drive to Denver (about five hours away) and spend the night so that we can take our time getting to the airport on Tuesday morning.  We fly non-stop to New York in the middle of the day, and will spend until Thursday afternoon at Africa Inland Mission's headquarters in Pearl River, NY.    From there, we fly to Kenya via London, and will get there just in time for a good nights rest Friday night.

It's hard to feel like there's time to write any deep thoughts, much less think them right now.  It's surreal to be going, when we've "been going" for almost two years now.  We are grateful from many perspectives that we've had so much time in preparation: physically, spiritually, emotionally and relationally.

We've gotten everything packed into thirteen 50-pound bags.  Yep, that's a lot of stuff.  Or a little depending upon how you look at it.  You can get quite a few "things" in Kenya, but it's still very different and limited, so hopefully we have a good balance of what we will need and what will be helpful to have to make our new house feel like home.  We are allotted twelve at no cost, and we were hoping to not have more than that, but decided the stress of getting the last bits distributed among the already packed bags and carry-ons was not less than the cost of one extra bag!  Right now, it really feels priceless!  The challenge now is making sure that the kids have something to wear the next few days... Jim too!  The kids played in the sprinkler this morning in t-shirts and underwear!  We are quite a sight around here.

The kids are doing well.  Pray for our travels with them.  They are excellent travelers, but we will all be tired and an extra measure of grace would go a long way.  Pray for our last goodbyes with Jim's family, and pray for safety and health over the next week.  We appreciate your support - through interest, prayer, and finances.  We know this is a big step we are taking.  And we are so grateful to have many people behind us in love.  And most of all, Jesus.

13 July 2010

One week

It doesn't seem possible that we'll be on our way to Kenya in one week when we've been having so much fun...

We've also been getting some much-needed rest...

And did I mention that I'm now married to a 30-year-old?!  Happy birthday, Jim!

We're not quite ready for our lives to change so much, and so soon; 
so we've been soaking up every minute 

of this.

02 July 2010

New friends

We said goodbye to many, many good friends in Woodland Park, but we also know that we'll make new ones.  It's a blessing to already know some, both in person, and through email.  Meet some of our new friends:
We first met the Beckers at our candidate week at AIM's headquarters in November of 2008.  Their daughter is a year older than Faith, so they won't be in school together, but I'm sure they'll find plenty of time to play together!  Karl is a English teacher and Laurel will be helping out around the school like Heather.  They are departing the states with us in a few weeks and will attend orientation with us as well.

The next family we came into contact with was the Unruhs.  They have four children, all of whom (I think) were born in Kenya.  Faith and Rodney have been at RVA for many years, and so through numerous emails back and forth, they have helped us prepare and know what to expect and what to bring.  They serve as dorm parents and Rodney is the school purchaser, which means he travels to Nairobi frequently.

The Shirley family moved to Kijabe in November, and unlike the other families in this post, they live outside of the RVA campus because Rhett is a doctor at the Kijabe hospital.  Megan stays busy with their three kids under 4!  Claire is a year younger than Faith, but they are looking forward to meeting each other!  Megan and Heather share a love of smocking and Southern Living magazine, and Heather has appreciated Megan's fresh insight and advice from their recent move.

Our most recent contact has been the Gonzalez family.  Tony and Bethany attended candidate week in August of 2008, have been preparing just like us, and will depart with us in a few weeks.  Tony teaches history and Bethany is a Chemistry teacher.  Their two kids, Ellie and Marcus, are exactly the same ages as Faith and Joel!  Heather had a few friends in Woodland Park that had same age and gender kids, and was praying for another family like that, so what an answer to prayer!