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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chai break

One thing I’ve found in my limited experience in Africa, they like to break for tea.

There are two 15 minute breaks in our day, once at 10:30am and again at 3:30pm.  We’re served hot beverages and a snack at both tea times & I thought I’d show you a few things we’ve been enjoying!

In Kenya, tea is called chai and is a brewed black tea with milk and sugar.  We have chai in abundance here in Kenya.  I’m still preferring to enjoy a cup of black coffee at chai break, but maybe tea will grow on me…

 

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This is a samosa.  It’s a triangular meat filled pastry and it is fabulous!

 

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These are mandazi.  They are essentially a plain cake donut or a funnel cake without the powdered sugar.

 

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This is a crepe.  It tastes a lot like a plain pancake, but its great sprinkled with sugar!

 

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Now this one was my favorite so far! One of our leaders here likes to reward quality answers in class with Snickers bars.  You never know when your answer might just earn you a full size candy bar!  I didn’t win this particular Snickers, but Dan did, and he gave it to me!  What a treat that was!! It’s amazing how good something tastes when its not easily accessible and its been weeks since you’ve seen one.  Ha!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

“Even there” (or here)

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This poster is on the wall of our boys’ classroom.  I saw it today for the first time and almost cried.  I know I’ve always appreciated Psalm 139 but, as you can imagine, it had a renewed and very specific significance when I read it today.
Extremely comforted today by my Savior’s constant presence in my life and the life of my family, no matter where we are!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Africa Based Orientation

As I write, we are in Machakos, Kenya at ABO.  ABO is held at Scott Christian University (formerly Scott Theological College).  Machakos is about an hour or so SE of Nairobi.  It’s held at this location because its both safe & rural – a good introduction to Africa.  It doesn’t have all of the conveniences a city like Nairobi offers, but it also isn’t so far in the bush that it takes days to find civilization!
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We are staying on the campus of the school in dorm rooms.  At first we thought that all five of us would be sharing one room, but as it turns out (and much to our delight) they gave us two rooms! So we’re sleeping the kids in one room and us in the other.  Everyone is sleeping great!  We’ve had no major sleep issues to report.  Praise the Lord :)
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This is what the dorm rooms look like…please note this is not what OUR dorm rooms currently look like – ours are much messier!  Below is our hallway, filled with young families.  You can imagine what bedtime sounds like; crazy!  For some reason they put all the families with older kids, couples without kids, and single folks in a completely different wing…can’t figure out why they would do that… ;)
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We are in class from 8:30am-12:30pm and again from 2pm-5:30pm with our three meals at 7:30am, 12:30pm, and 6:30pm.  The children are cared for while we are in class (again, Praise the Lord!).  Nate & Ethan have their own children’s class, where they are learning all about Africa – cultural differences & healthy living.  They’ve been busy doing crafts too! We are so thankful for a handful of energetic children’s workers, as there are about 16 or so kids in that 3yrs –10yrs age group.  There are also 5 baby girls, including Evelyn, who are being cared for in a less structured nursery-type setting.  It just so happens that four of the five are all around the same age as Evie and all blonde and all very cute – there have already been a few mix-ups with identification…but don’t worry, no harm done.  In addition to those childcare classes, the youth, ages 11-16, have a class run by a couple from RVA.  That being said, we are all kept very busy here at ABO. 
A few unique challenges include the electricity around here. Its not uncommon for the power to go out and stay out for 20 minutes… or for 4 hours. When it will go out (or come back on for that matter) seems completely unpredictable.  We’re slowly learning to carry a head lamp with us so we can be better prepared.  Likewise, the internet only works in certain parts of the campus and sometimes not at all.  Most of these blog posts are being written offline and then posted when we happen to be in the same place as the internet connection! 
As our crew all gets acclimated to the diet, water, and elevation (about 5000 feet above sea level here) of Africa, health has been another challenge.  Ethan and Nate have already gone through their first bought with sickness.  Ethan had a sore tummy for a day or so and Nate had a mild fever for two nights.  Courtney is just now fighting off something that her gastro-intestinal system is not a big fan of (we’ll spare you the details), while Dan and Evie have avoided all issues so far.  Several other members of the group have experienced similar things as our bodies continually ask, “Where am I and what is this stuff you’re putting into me?!?!”
Enough talk, here’s a few more pictures :)
DSCN4473Here’s a group of us in front of the dorm we’re staying in, getting ready for a hike on Saturday.  Only half of the building is shown, but you can see how nice it is.
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The old-school see-saw is a BIG hit with all the kids.
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Lots of friends to play with:  Anika, Ethan, and Josiah
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Tony, Nate, and Mark
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Swings too – you can see the water supply tower in the background.  And yes, that is corn.  Lots of houses are actually on the campus and many of them have gardens with corn that is pretty much ready for harvest.
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Don’t forget the goats.  Ethan and Nate enjoy simply walking outside and feeding many of the goats that are randomly tied up around the area. 
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More to come – thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A taste of Nairobi

Nairobi is the capital of Kenya.  It’s a big city.  Our time there was designed to get some rest so much of it was free.  Although it was brief, we were able to get a little taste of the area before the next stage of our journey.  One of the first days there, we were highly recommended to purchase a cell phone, which we got at a local mall called Ya-Ya (very similar to a nice mall in the U.S.) Our new cell phone does work to call the U.S. (we’ve already spoken with family a few times) and its on a pay as you go basis.  The currency is in Kenya Shillings so we also had some cash exchanged.  About 82 shillings per dollar, in case you were wondering.  We also stopped at a different mall called the Galleria on the day before we left which even had an Apple store and a KFC!

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The local Nakumatt, can easily be compared to a Walmart in the U.S., has almost anything you could want.  Getting some more malaria preventative meds for the kids was easy at the adjoining “chemist”, which is just a really easy-to-get-any-drug-you-ask-for-without-a-prescription pharmacy.  We walked most places along some very busy streets – lots of traffic going quite fast in the opposite direction from what we’re used to and seemingly unconcerned by us or any of the other pedestrians!  The kids stayed back at the Guest House for most of these adventures.

Monday morning was our last day at Mayfield Guest House and we decided to take advantage of at least one “touristy” attraction nearby.  About a half hour drive away was the Giraffe Center; essentially a refuge for orphaned giraffes and a good chance to see some of the wildlife our boys had been looking forward to.

Lots of fun – lots of pictures – lots of giraffe tongues!  Enjoy :)

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A good shot of the open farm where the giraffes lived – I think there were 6 or 7 of them.

 

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Not the best lighting for a family shot, but the giraffe in the background looks curious :)

 

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Evie LOVED it – all she wanted to do was feed the giraffes!

 

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Never one to be shy, Nate took full advantage of petting them too.

 

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This was a baby one – barely reached up to the platform.

 

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Ethan wasn’t a fan of the black sticky tongues, but enjoyed feeding them branches of acacia trees!  :)

That was Monday, today is Friday.  Wow, time flies!  We have moved onto ABO (Africa Based Orientation) where we’ll be for a few more weeks learning all sorts of things that will be important to know while living and ministering in Africa.  There are close to 50 adults as well as over 30 kids here with us – a big group!  But also a HUGE encouragement to be living and learning with others who are going through much of the same transition and life changes that we are.  The internet connection here is hard to access but we’ll try to update as we learn and experience new things.

Thanks so much for the prayers and emails and messages – keep them coming!

God bless you and yours,

Monday, July 16, 2012

From Pennsylvania to Kenya: in Pictures

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The drive from Beaver, PA to Atlanta, GA (that’s Ethan under the blanket!)

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Anxiously awaiting our very first airplane ride in Atlanta’s airport.  About to become international travelers!

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Finding our way through Chicago’s airport was an adventure in and of itself.  Evie looks comfortable!

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Swiss Airlines = movies in every seat = happy kids (at least for a little while!)

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With flights this long, it’s easy to make friends along the way!

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Did we mention Zurich has a playground to occupy little legs while you wait for your next flight?  How cool is that!

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A cool shot out the window over Switzerland…off in the distance you can barely see the Alps. 

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International travel is extremely tiring…

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…but it’s nice when the answer to Nate’s question, “Is this Africa?” is finally “YES!”

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Our lodging for the last few days as we re-coop from our travels:  Mayfield Guest House in the heart of Nairobi, Kenya

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The weather has been beautiful (low to mid 70s and sunny) so the kids have been able to enjoy the outdoor playground on the property.  There’s even a soccer/basketball field and plenty of lizards to catch!

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Ethan’s buddy, Anika.  Her family is going to RVA too!  As you can probably guess, EVERYBODY knows Nate already, so to post pictures of all his new friends would be nearly impossible :)

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Already we have been surprised by God’s abundant grace. Believe it or not, one of the most recent surprises was African style Rhubarb pie for dessert!  And Ethan asked “Daddy, is it your birthday?”  Nope, not his birthday. But he did enjoy two pieces after lunch.

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