Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lifestyles of the Politically Powerful

The Ambassador of the United States of America
Michael E. Ranneberger
requests the pleasure of the company of
Ms. Kim Grimes
at a Reception for Educators

That's what my invitation to the U.S. ambassador's house said, which Wendy and I are holding in our hands prior to attending this posh event.

On Thursday I went to the ambassador's house. The ambassador is the top U.S. official in all of Kenya, which is one of the largest embassies, if not the largest, in all of Africa. Here I am mingling in the ambassador's living room.
There were pictures of his family with Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice in the living room.

Here are some of my co-workers and I in the ambassador's back yard. His mansion is behind us and the pool, fountains, and tennis courts are in front of us.
Jessica, the girl in the pink sweater, and I had a ten minute conversation with the ambassador's wife. She was a very nice lady and good at small talk. I won't go into all the details of our conversation and what I learned about her family, but it was quite an evening. Good aurderves and open bar (of course). My favorite part was sitting on the ambassador's couch. It was like sitting on a cloud - a treat compared to my foam and wooden couches at home. The things we see as luxuries when living overseas...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Daily Bread

I've been asked by friends and grandparents what I eat each day, so here was today's menu...

Breakfast was the usual.
* brown bread (it's not called "wheat" here) with margarine and jam (real butter is too expensive - $4 for one cube)
* vanilla yogurt
* "sweet bananas" (they're tiny bananas that I LOVE, my new favorite fruit)
* granola (store bought - Marla I need your recipe)
* filtered water

Lunch is always Kenyan on Tuesdays.
I buy it at school.
* chapati - thick bready tortillas
* bean soup - like lentils

Dinner was left-overs tonight.
* chicken in a sweet and sour sauce
* rice with a Portuguese spice packet mixed in
* all wrapped in a tortilla (which we buy from a parent at school whose house worker makes them)
* vanilla flavored milk (It's my weakness. I won't buy regular milk, but chocolate and vanilla frequent my grocery cart. It's like drinking a milk shake without the ice cream. It's good!)

The weekend menu looks a little different. On non-school nights I go out to eat to Indian, Ethiopian, American, Chinese, etc. There are no American fast food restaurants here, but Nairobi makes up for it with its African and Asian cuisine. I have some great places to take anyone who comes to visit!

Monday, September 22, 2008


Today marks exactly two months of me being in Kenya. I find myself being reflective the last two weeks or so, missing things in America for the first time, and often amazed that I live in Africa. So on this two month anniversary I'll share my reflections...

Things I miss from home...
(aside from family and friends, which is a given)
1. Dairy Queen Recess peanut butter cup blizzard with swirl ice cream
2. Subway sandwiches
3. The beautiful red and orange leaves of fall in Oregon

Things I love about living in Africa...
1. The sub-tropical climate
2. Spring in September
3. Blooming flowers year round
4. The wildlife, including the variety of birds I see every day (except the ibis pictures here, which wake me up each morning with their screaming baby squawking)
5. The variety of people, their languages, cultures, and perspectives
6. New friends
7. Endless opportunities (I'm going to the U.S. Ambassador's house on Thursday night)

In some ways I feel like I just arrived in Kenya, but most of the time I feel like I've lived here for much longer than two months. It's amazing how quickly a place can become home. My little spot in Africa definitely feels like home.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fifth Grade

I thought it was about time I posted some pictures of who and where I enjoy most of my days in Africa. Here is a picture of my fifth graders and me with silly faces on "Crazy Hair Day" during Spirit Week.

Some of my students working on a group project in the courtyard outside our classroom.

My classroom when I first arrived... Little furniture, few bulletin boards, and lacking that homey classroom feel. Something had to be done!

The first week of school the classroom looked more like it should - loved and learned in.
Now you have an idea of what and why I'm in Africa. These kids are amazing, and I pray each day that God would make me the teacher I should be for each one. Thank you for all who have been praying for me and my students.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Best Day in Kenya!

After living in Nairobi for almost two months, I finally got out of the city to experience the variety God's creation holds in Africa. Twelve of us from the school loaded up in a van and headed 45 minutes out of town to the Rift Valley. Our goal for the day was to hike Mt. Longonot, a volcano whose peak sits 9,000 ft above sea level. "Longonot" comes from a Masai word meaning "many ridges", and the mountain lived up to its name. It was quite steep in many parts (somewhere between Dog Mountain and Saddle Mountain for my Oregonian friends). The hike was breathtaking, both visually and cardiovascularly.

Here is the volcano at sunset as we headed away from Longonot National Park. The highest point in the center is the point we reached.

The whole crew poses for a picture on the rim of the crater.

Kami and I with a view of the Rift Valley below, where we saw zebras, giraffes, hartebeast, and more.
Here are some giraffes we saw on the way down the mountain. This isn't even on a safari! Just going on a hike in Africa...

The crater at the top of the volcano has its own ecosystem different from the surrounding valley. Inside we saw steam venting from the sides of the crater.The girls made it to the tip top, and we had to show our muscles!
This was by far one of the coolest and most amazing hikes I've ever been on (and I'm from the Northwest)! Not only was the hike itself difficult, fun, and beautiful, the wildlife was amazing as well. Being up on that mountain was like being closer to God, surrounded by amazing creativity and beauty. It was my best day in Kenya (so far).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nairobi Slums

My part of Nairobi is full of mansions, the United Nations, and beautiful landscaping. It's far from city center and most of the 4 million who live in the city. Much of Nairobi is made up of ghettos and slums, where many Kenyans live crammed together in conditions that vary from those in my part of the city.

My roommate, Christa, and her fiance, Stanley, attend church in one of these crowded areas. Stanley works at the church and together they've started a youth ministry there. The church has been in the process of being built for six years and will eventually seat two to three thousand people when it is finished. Although it has re barb sticking out and a pile of rocks sitting in the middle of the building, it has a great view of the area from the roof (about three stories high).

In the picture above you can see the second largest garbage dump in the world. It sits in the top left hand corner of the photo. About 1,000 families live there as well as many orphans who have no home, are abused, and don't have access to food or school. Feeding these children and trying to get them into school and homes is another ministry Stanley's and Christa's church is involved with.
There are many fun things about this church, and I have enjoyed attending on several occasions. One of my favorite things is the kids. The little girls below became my best friends when I let them wear my sunglasses. Aren't they cute?!

If you come visit me in Nairobi, I'll take you to this church. It's a great Kenyan experience, and the people are some of the best in the world!

Friday, September 5, 2008

The View Yesterday

Yesterday morning while walking through the parking lot to my classroom I saw my first view of Mt. Kenya peaking over the trees surrounding campus. I only saw the top half (of what's pictured here), but it was quite a magnificent view on a clear, sunny day. Now I just have to hike it!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My Kiddo's

I realize I haven't talked a lot about my students. I keep waiting to post until I take a picture of them and always forget. (To be honest, I get too busy and distracted by working to remember.) Now that my computer cord doesn't work, it will be a little while longer for a picture to be posted. So! Here are some details of the little people I spend most of my days with. The picture will have to wait.

Right now Rosslyn Academy has 38 flags flying outside the administration building representing 38 nations within the student body. Of those 38, my 20 students come from Kenya, Canada, U.S.A., Korea, Norway, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and China. By the end of day two I had names like Bezawit, Rediet, Ithiel, and Harshil memorized. Many of my students are here because their parents work for one of the 77 mission agencies associated with Rosslyn. Others are here for business or Kenya has always been home. All my students speak English - some better than others, but all are good speakers, even those whose second, third, or fourth language is English. It is humbling to be a teacher at an international school when you only speak one language, but fun to listen to kids conversing on the playground. You never know what language you'll hear when walking across campus. Yesterday, while walking from my classroom to the computer lab, I heard Korean, Swahili, and English. I love teaching here!