Settling into Life at Tenwek

Two weeks ago, we arrived in Kenya. A few days later, we made our way out to our new home at Tenwek Hospital. We were assigned a house in one of the compound areas right next to the hospital. Friends, it is beautiful! We never imagined we would be living in a three-bedroom home complete with a large, screened-in porch (perfect for Sam and for chatting with new friends). The house is right in the middle of a group of houses and apartments, pleasing our social personalities. The kids are both able to run out the front door and join our neighbors in games of tag and soccer any time of the day.

As I write, the interior of our house is being repainted. Paint here is oil-based and gives off pretty hefty fumes, so we’ve traveled to Nairobi for a few days to do a little shopping and to finish our travel paperwork. We’re excited to be back in our house on Monday and finish decorating!

Ella was fast friends with this little chameleon the day after we arrived at Tenwek, a gift from a neighbor. I’ve since learned that chameleons are incredibly common in our area, and I often see kids walking by carrying a stick, a small green chameleon clinging to the end. These little pets aren’t kept for more than a few days, which brought tears for Ella when she realized she couldn’t keep Honey forever and ever. Life lessons. She soon had another on a stick, though, eating flies off the neighbors sunlit porch railing.

One afternoon last week, Pete took Ella up to the hospital while he tended to a few errands. We have a picture of her sitting in this very spot four years ago. I’ll see if I can track it down and post a side-by-side in an upcoming post.

Ella’s been busy with Swahili class every morning since we arrived. She attends with the other missionary kids her age for an hour, taught by Carol who will eventually teach Pete and me. We’re not exactly sure when that will happen, but we’re both really looking forward to it. For now, we’re okay getting by with our English. It will be wonderful, though, to speak with our friends in Swahili, one of the co-national languages of Kenya. (English being the other.)

Sam’s been spending a lot of time playing outside since we arrived. He even helps Daddy coordinate games with the bigger kids in the field next to our house. He was ready for capture the flag!

Pete has been spending hours almost every afternoon playing with the local kids. This is a mix of missionary kids, local doctor’s kids, and kids from nearby neighborhoods.

These are very common sights on our walks. Motorcycles are everywhere. They are an inexpensive taxi service, and we’ve already seen motorcycles stacked high with crates, or three decent-sized men, or pieces of lumber that would certainly prevent any other vehicles from passing on the road. We also see a lot of cows on our routes, along with goats, sheep, and donkeys.

Sammy’s favorite animal near us is our neighbors’ chickens. We’re still planning on having our own before long!

The road between our house and the hospital is a new challenge for Sam’s PT skills. He’s already getting brave and confident enough to take it on without holding my hand.

Barbra, one of our nearest neighbors, taught a few of us one morning how to make butter. We’ll have fresh milk delivered early next week, and I’m looking forward to trying it myself!

This past week I reconnected with Stellah, a friend I met while we were here four years ago and stayed connected to through Facebook. It was so good to sit for a cup of chai with her again!

This dear couple has been instrumental in our path to Kenya over the last eleven years. Pete and I were only dating when we first met them! Bruce and Kate Dahlman raised their family in Kenya while Bruce worked to advance the field of family medicine here in the country and Kate taught at a nursing school. Their home in the States was only a couple hours from ours, and we were regularly encouraged and directed by them. They are now preparing to leave Kenya for life in Minnesota. We were incredibly fortunate to see them while they’re still in Kenya after all these years of work to get here.

This mode of transportation is common along the busy roadways toward Nairobi.

And this is what we see along any of the roads we travel. These little shops that are often bustling during the day with produce, meats, handmade goods, or tools.

It was a cozy ride to Nairobi on Wednesday. The three of us in the back seat while Pete and our driver sat up front. We don’t dare drive here yet. Left side of the road and rules were not at all used to. Also, Google doesn’t tell you everything. Best leave the driving up to someone a bit more experienced for now.

Today our sweet friend, Nikki, was able to join us to play! We met Nikki at training in Colorado back in January. She moved back to Kenya in May where she works with schools in special education in one of the large slums of Nairobi. It was so good to see her again!


I’m really excited to get back out to our house and decorate. Tomorrow we’re going to visit a shop that sells locally made decor made by women in crisis situations in Nairobi. What better place to support while setting up our home?

Have a wonderful long weekend, friends in the States! We’ll be celebrating with our new friends on Tuesday night, but we’ll have to hit YouTube or Facebook for any good fireworks displays this year. This will actually be my fourth year celebrating July 4th in another country, but hot dogs and lemonade have always been on the menu wherever I’ve been. Do you have any fun plans to celebrate the 4th? I’d love to hear them as we celebrate from afar. Happy Independence Day!


6 Responses to Settling into Life at Tenwek

  1. Judy Swenson says:

    Everything sounds so good I am very happy everything is working out for your family.Love all the pictures and can’t wait to see pictures inside the home too.

  2. Michael Scott says:

    Sounds like things are coming along nicely. I can’t imagine how it must feel to be there after all these years of prayers, plans and preparations. When you get steeled in Beck will have to teach us how to Skype or Facetime so we can be “up close and personal”. I’m taking down the diplomas and that wall is going to be our map wall. I have our Africa Continent map and just purchased a full sized Kenya map. We will be able to keep up with your movements around the country.
    Great Grandma Scott says to say Hi and asks everyday what the news is from Africa.

  3. Jill Lekatz says:

    I didn’t know it was so green over there. Looks like a lovely place where you are now. Ella looks so cute with the chameleon! She’s lost another tooth! Sam looks like he’s having a great time.
    Loved seeing the picture of Pete playing with all the kids! All of his hard work trying to get his body ready for Kenya has paid off… he can outplay all of those children!
    Thanks for the updates!

  4. Kenzie Deel says:

    We will be spending the 4th of July in Duluth 🙂 BBQ with friends, parade and fireworks at the Canal. Oh how we miss Duluth, but it sure if fun to play tourist every now and again when we escape the Twin Cities for some R&R up north!

  5. Bonnie Antonich says:

    Was so happy to read of and see your journey thus far! Especially to see you meeting up with our dear dear friends Bruce & Kate Dahlman!!! Blessings & prayers…

  6. Jake Shields says:

    Ya’ll are so cool! I adore the way you love God, love people. Prayers headed your way as you continue to transition!

    Romans 8:28

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