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One Whole Week in Kenya

We have internet! Thunderous applause! Let the posts from Kenya commence!

Following my last post, we made our transition out to our new home in Bomet County, four hours from Nairobi. We’ve had 3G on our phones, so you may have caught a few updates and photos on Facebook or Instagram. But now that we have wifi, I’m able to actually write. I’ve had so many thoughts run through my mind each day we’ve been here, thinking I need to share this or that with all of you. I’ll do my best to fill you in on our first full week in our new country. What I miss, I’ll share later. If you’re on Instagram, you can see short videos with moments from each day. Those videos only stay up for 24 hours, so take a peek if you’re an Insta user!

We left off at the end of the last post with a day of rest with Sam and shopping for Pete and Ella. I’m glad to say Sam was feeling much better later that day. Since he was up for it, the four of us ventured off to visit the elephant orphanage just outside the city on Saturday morning.

We first saw the youngest elephants come out and feed from enormous bottles. Seriously adorable. Then the two-year-olds came out to play.

They had a great time throwing dirt up on their backs with their trunks and rolling around in the mud.

Ella did eventually get to rub the head of this elephant. She was a very happy girl.

Sam was completely mesmerized…until he decided he was done.

Then he wanted to explore and make friends. ‘Hello, person I’ve never met. Can I hug your head?’ He’s the best at meeting new people.

On our way out of the park, we met this man dressed in traditional Maasai clothing. We took a photo with him for fun, but it makes us look forward to actually getting to know some of the Maasai people in the years ahead.

After lunch at a burger place in Nairobi, we drove out to the giraffe center, a place we wanted to visit when we were in Kenya four years ago but didn’t have time.

We knew we’d be close to the giraffes, but we hadn’t realized we would get to feed them! We were each given a handful of little food pellets and taught the proper way to feed them.

Have you ever seen a giraffe’s tongue? It’s crazy long and gray! And it feels scratchy like a cat’s tongue. Ella fed all her pellets to this sweet giraffe, Stacy, by placing each piece on the animal’s tongue. We’ve heard they will also take it right out from between your lips, but we weren’t up for sharing giraffe germs quite yet. Maybe next time.

The morning we were getting ready to leave Nairobi, Ella had a very exciting surprise. The tooth fairy found her in Kenya! The morning before she had pulled out her third tooth and was curious about the tooth fairy finding her here. Not a problem. She even paid her in the correct currency – Kenyan shillings. (This little surprise was equal to about 50 cents US.)

Before leaving town, we met the Crognales, another missionary family at Tenwek, at a shopping center to pick up what we might need for the next month – produce, meat, groceries – all in separate stores. Pete and Ella had gone with them the day before to purchase household goods that might not already be available in our house at Tenwek. We’re sooo thankful the Crognales were able to guide us! We would have had no idea what to get without them. While Pete was at the butcher, I took the Crognale kids, Ella, and Sam to the Java House for breakfast. I’m not totally sure yet, but I kind of feel like Java House might be the Kenyan Starbucks, but with a long food menu. Ella and Sam each ordered Mickey Mouse Pancakes while I sipped a mocha. Mmmm.

After our time at the shopping center, it was time to hit the road. We had cold groceries, after all, and a four hour drive to our new house. We’re fortunate that the road is paved the entire way from Nairobi to Tenwek, and there were lots of new things for all of us to see. These baboons, for example. We drove through one area where the road was surrounded by them.

At last, we reached Tenwek. I was really excited, but a little nervous, too. Who wouldn’t be? We were about to see our new house for the first time and start settling into the place we’ll call home for at least the next two years. This sign taped to our front door made me teary. What a journey it has been to get here.

Inside, all our bags had been delivered from the airport. All those bags I spent months putting together thousands of miles away. I’m still working on emptying them, though our house is already beginning to feel like our home.

Our kitchen is now settled, which was the first thing I did the day we arrived. I don’t know how you are, but I feel completely overwhelmed if my kitchen isn’t organized. Getting breakfast ready for the kids the first morning we were here was not wild since I knew where everything was. (Even if we did go with cold cereal because the toaster didn’t work and we weren’t sure how to use the stove or oven.)

We’re finally getting use to the nine hour time difference between here and Minnesota, though I absolutely rely on coffee in the mornings. And I may have just made another French press to get me through the evening. (It’s currently 5pm.) I would love to have all of our clothes unpacked and put away before bed. If that happens, I can start decorating tomorrow! That’s my favorite. I’ll be sure to post photos as it comes together!

 


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We made it!

We made it to Kenya! It was a looong journey, but we arrived in Nairobi yesterday afternoon. Our bodies, however, had no idea what time it was. But we’re here! And all our bags arrived right along with us. Praise the Lord!

Pete and Kelly got the truck all loaded up on Tuesday morning for the drive to the Tampa airport. These guys are rockstars. Seriously. It was pouring as they finished packing and they somehow managed to get everything into the one vehicle. I wasn’t sure that would happen.

As we made the drive to Tampa, we got multiple messages letting us know our flight to New York was being delayed. Since we had a twelve hour layover, we didn’t mind it being pushed back. It took away any anxiety about getting everything through security and left plenty of time for dinner near our gate.

Sam woke on Tuesday morning and immediately signed ‘airplane’ and asked to go. I think he was so excited about something big happening he wouldn’t take a nap that afternoon. By the time we got to the airport at 7pm, he was wiped.

At last, we boarded our flight for New York. We flew Jet Blue, which you might have guessed from the blue lighting. It was a quick 2.5 hours to JFK.

The airline took a while to find our stroller after we landed, but the kids didn’t mind a bit with this play area across from our gate. I would have liked to be on the way to our hotel since it was 1:30am, but this was a decent second option.

The kids were so tired by the time we reached our hotel, they actually slept the whole night in the same bed. They usually can’t do this because Sam gets so excited and wants to keep Ella awake. I about melted when I woke and saw them cuddling.

Our flight from New York to Dubai was long. As in 12 hours long. We flew Emirates and were really happy with the service. It was a fairly comfortable flight (well, as comfy as one can be sitting in the same seat for 12 hours) and the flight attendants were so sweet. We watched a mountain of movies. By the time we reached Dubai, however, we were all wanting to be done.

The flight from Dubai to Nairobi was just 5 hours. I had really thought the kids would sleep since they hadn’t on the long flight. Sam did, but it was a fitful sleep. He’s had a bit of a cold for a few days and it was clear to see he was really uncomfortable. He would only sleep if he was lying on me, which didn’t allow me to rest for more than a few minutes at a time. Ella didn’t sleep at all, though. Well, not until the moment we hit the runway in Nairobi. She stayed awake for so many hours but couldn’t keep her eyes open by the time we reached our final destination.

We found a bench for the kids while Pete and I worked to gather all our bins and bags.

We located everything but Sam’s stroller, which we had to check at JFK. Pete borrowed a wheelchair from the airport. The moment we set Sam in it, he was wide awake and grinning. Just before we left the airport, though, someone found the stroller! So everything is with us again. We’re so thankful.

A driver met us and helped get all our bags – and children – to the guest house. We’re staying here until Sunday when we’ll head out to our new home!

Today has been a day of rest for Sammy and me. Sam’s cold and his lack of sleep have caught up to him, and he’s needed time to sleep. Ella and Pete went shopping with a friend from Tenwek. They haven’t come back yet, so I’m hoping they’ve been successful.

I can’t tell you how happy we all are to finally be here. I cried quietly as soon as we were outside the airport yesterday. This morning Ella crawled out of bed and said, “Mom, we’re doing it! We’re in Kenya!” It’s true! We’re doing it! Thank you, friends, for all of your encouragement in helping us make it here. We couldn’t be happier.

 


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Tomorrow

I woke early this morning feeling anxious. That’s natural, though, for any move. I’ve moved enough times in the last ten years to know. The only difference is this time the move is a little bigger. The distance is greater, yes, but this move means so much more than any other move I’ve made. So yes, I’m anxious. But I also fully trust this is the most natural thing I could be doing with my family. And I deeply, deeply trust that this is the very thing God designed me to do.

This move is the culmination not only of the work Pete and I have done in the last eleven years, but this truly feels like the point in my life that everything else I’ve done points to. All of my college studies, my teaching, the years I spent working in our church, my graduate degree, and how I’ve learned to be a wife and mother. It has all pointed to the desire I’ve had since I was very young to live and teach abroad.

I grew up in the church. My dad was the pastor of each church we attended, so I really did grow up in the church. For as long as I can remember, one of my favorite church events was when missionaries shared their stories. I loved seeing photos of their adventures and hearing about their daily lives. That was when this dream began. Then, when I was in the middle of elementary school, a couple guys from our church came back from China where they had been working secretly to get Bibles into the country. While talking with one of them after their presentation at church, I said I wanted to be a missionary, too. He handed me a piece of paper money from his travels and said I could keep it if I really was going to work to share Jesus. There was no hesitation in accepting his gift that day. I already knew it was exactly what I wanted to do.

I still have that piece of money, tucked inside my Spanish/English Bible from the year I lived and taught in Honduras during college. These two items have been reminders to me of what God called me to when I was a little girl, sitting at the front of the church, watching missionaries share their slides and stories.

I’m so incredibly thankful God put a man on my path nearly twelve years ago who had a similar calling. We’ve spent countless hours dreaming together of what it might someday  look like when we were finally able to move our family to East Africa. That trek begins tomorrow. The next chapter for us will open. The one we hope will be the longest of any in our lives so far.

I’m now thirty-five years old. I’m married to the most sincere, caring man I have ever met and we have two adventurous, loving babes . I fully trust with every part of my being that this is exactly what God has called us to do. Simply put, I just couldn’t do anything else with my life and feel satisfied.

So off we go! With nerves and excitement and so many more dreams in our hearts, we are ready.

Tomorrow the true adventure begins.

 


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We have a date!

Last Monday, we asked friends to join us to pray that Pete’s Kenyan work permit be approved within the week. Incredibly, we received word of its approval the VERY DAY we were all praying. God’s timing is amazing! We had been waiting months for the approval. It was the very last piece we needed before leaving for Kenya.

four days!

And because it was the last piece we needed, we have now set a departure date!! We will be flying out of Tampa this Tuesday evening, June 13 and arriving in Kenya the middle of Thursday, June 15. In all, our travel time is about 40 hours because of a long layover in New York. We find it a touch hard to believe that we’ll be in Kenya at this time next week! All these years of dreaming, praying, planning, and working, and we’re finally going!!

Please continue to pray for us as we go through these final few days in the States. We are placing our last-minute orders on Amazon (thank you, two-day shipping), making a Target run, and holding Skype meetings and business phone calls. I am so relieved, however, that we don’t have the last rush of packing since we did that before leaving Minnesota last month. All our bins and bags have been sitting in Kim & Kelly’s garage here in Florida, waiting for their next leg of the trip. Four days. Eeeeeee!

Love to you all for helping make this happen! We are so thankful for you!


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