Friday, October 31, 2008

This is Fall?

While all my friends and previous co-workers are enjoying the crisp days of Fall, red leaves, and wearing sweaters, my experience is quite different. It is Spring in Nairobi. The temperature averages 70's and 80's each day, so it draws me outside my classroom like a mosquito to a light bulb. My Alaska roots shine through even in the Southern Hemisphere - when the sun shines, we must go outside! So this week class 5B did their social studies assignment in the elementary courtyard. Working at a school with the perfect climate is a really tough job!

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I drove a stick-shift vehicle on the wrong side of the road today!
Although my car didn't have the common insignia seen on cars of student drivers in Nairobi, "Driver Under Instruction", it was very obvious that I was a first time driver. (For those of you who don't know, I do not know how to drive a standard transmission vehicle.) After six or seven loops around the school parking lot, practicing stopping and going and stopping and going, I ventured onto the street. I drove through a nearby neighborhood and then on to Village Market, our local "mall". Jessie, my instructor, treated me to some Italian ice-cream, and then back home we went. I stalled the car several times in the parking lot of Village trying to reverse, and the guard had to hand signal traffic around me. I thanked him for his patience and help. He was very nice and responded, "It is very normal." After dropping Jessie off at the school gate, I drove home by myself. It's still a rough ride if you jump in the car with me, but it's a start. I'm not going out to attempt crazy Nairobi traffic jams yet, but I can at least get myself to the grocery store. Today is a successful day for me in Africa.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

U.S. Elections in Kenya

While family and friends back home are bombarded with political TV commercials, internet pop-ups, and campaign signs in neighbors' yards, US citizens in Kenya see only one face and hear one name: Obama. If Kenyans were voting in the US election, Barack Obama would win by a landslide. Most of this is due to the fact that his father was Luo , one of the major ethnic groups in Kenya. So when I'm shopping in the market or talking with friends, I'm often asked who I'm voting for. If I say Obama's name, I'll always get a friendly smile from Kenyan friends or a better price from the vendor. Kenyans' views don't just show themselves on the front page of the newspaper or in conversation. I've seen bumper stickers, signs, clothes, and even a secretary's book bag at school with Obama's face and name. Has all this campaigning swayed my vote? I'm not telling! :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Dip in the Indian Ocean

In honor of the first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, we got an extra long weekend, which gave some friends and I the opportunity to hit the beach. We headed to Mombasa, the biggest sea port on the East African coast. Getting to and from Mombasa was CRAZY. A story I will save for another time. But once we got there, it was like heaven...

Our bungalow was beautiful with an open great room, swimming pool, and five minute walk to the white sand beach.
A Zanzibar bed lay on the porch for anyone who wanted to be awakened by the sunrise.
We ate a lot of seafood: white snapper, lobster, prawns, and crab. Delicious!We took a dhow out to the reef, which we walked on during low tide, and went snorkeling with our guides, Mario and Leo. (The area had a lot of Italian influence, so a lot of the Kenyans we met told us their "Italian" names. One of our best buddies on the beach was named Marco Polo. :)I saw some familiar sea creatures and some exotic animals on the reef.
A common scene during our day included many vendors who bothered us incessantly and camels walking by offering a ride.Most of my time was spent laying on the sandy beach or playing in the blue waves of the Indian Ocean. It was very difficult to leave and come back to the rain of Nairobi. (Yes! It's been raining!) It was a wonderful vacation that will need to be repeated or maybe God will send me to live there one day, open a missionary guest house, and enjoy the humidity daily. For now, it's back to reality... I've been very spoiled this month with several long weekends and national holidays. I have to remember that not every day in Africa is a holiday.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I went on my first African safari this weekend. Paul, Chris, Kami, and I headed about three hours north of Nairobi to visit two parks, which lead us into the northern hemisphere and a stop at the equator. It was my first time in the northern hemisphere in three months!

Here I am at 0 degrees latitude...

Despite what people think, water does not swirl in the opposite direction when going down a drain or toilet in the southern hemisphere. It's the same whether you're in the north or south. They had funnels to test it at the equator. I've also tested it in Brazil. Same results - no difference.

The lodge we stayed at sat near the base of Mt. Kenya. Each morning I woke up at 6 am to see a beautiful sunrise as I had quiet time with God on the balcony. Here was the view from our room...We saw three of Africa's "big five" (buffalo, rhinos, and elephants). If you can't see, those are rhinoceroses behind me. I still need to see leopards and lions to see all five of Africa's famous beasts. I'd like to see a cheetah too. Although we didn't see the "cats", we saw a lot of beautiful herbivores.We ended a full day of safari with a beautiful sunset as we hoped and waited for lions to come out. Although the lions didn't expose themselves, we did watch vultures eat a zebra carcass with the setting sun behind them. Overall, I'd say my first safari was a great success.

Being out in the beautiful expanse of Africa, seeing all the variety of animals, and driving through jungles and savanna... I love it. Friends here have said to me, "It's cool to see all the animals," but for me it was more than that. I can't completely explain it, but I know God has brought me here for reasons beyond teaching at Rosslyn for three years. It's exciting to think and anticipate what He has planned. All of this probably sounds cheesy, but I feel like these three months in Africa are the beginning of something bigger. Who knew that elephants and giraffes could have such an impact! :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Lovin' Laundry Day!

It hasn't been raining nor has our water been turned on. However, after four days without water, a large truck came and filled our reserve tank, which should last for a couple weeks. Although we're still rationing, we have water to shower, clean dishes, and wash clothes. So I've spent the last two days washing clothes, and I am happy to do laundry! There weren't even enough clothes lines in and outside the house to hang all my laundry. It's a good problem.

We are currently experiencing the "short rains", which are supposed to last about five weeks. The temperature has dropped (I wore a long sleeved sweater to work this week!), but the rain has only come twice. If it doesn't rain a good amount this season, then we're in for a tough "winter" of rationing water until March when the long rains come. Thank you for your prayers. Rain seems like a silly thing to pray for, especially for my Oregonian friends, but it's a big deal here. No rain means a lot of trouble for most of Kenya (and no laundry for me). Please continue to keep us in your thoughts.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Day 3!

Three days without water and still the faucets are void of a single drop. That's right... Three days of no showers, three days of not flushing toilets, three days without drinking water, and three days of not washing dishes. We've found ways around our limited supply of water, however. We went to a friend's house on Sunday night for showers. We pray each night for rain to fill the buckets we've placed outside, which has been successful once. This took care of the toilets. I'm filling up multiple water bottles with drinking water at school each day and bringing them home to quench thirst and brush teeth. Then today a small dribble was found on the faucet outside our back porch, so we're leaving it slowly dripping and washing the dishes with that. Tonight I used some of our collected water to boil eggs. With the left over boiled water (full of chicken poop from the eggs) I flushed my toilet. I won't even mention the laundry issues!

Here I am recycling the boiled water to flush the toilet.So every time you use your kitchen sink, flush your toilet, start a load of laundry, drain your pasta and just let the water flow down the sink, you can think of me. Please keep praying for rain, so our water shortage ends. And pray that the Nairobi City Council turns our water back on.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Let it rain! Let it rain! Let it rain!

We are completely without water today. We have been rationing water for a few weeks now. The school only uses water for flushing toilets, and my large pile of laundry at home is heaping. I must admit I wish it would rain. That's how bad it's gotten! So today when I got home from another day at the pool, I was a little happy when I had to run in the house to prevent being pelted by raindrops (because when it rains here, it pours). As I ran down our steep driveway, I stopped to laugh at Wendy, who was washing dishes outside in the rain.For those of you who have been praying for rain in Kenya, keep praying. It's working!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Day Off...

Today was Eid-al-Fitr, the end of Muslim Ramadan. Being that Kenya has a large Muslim population, it is a Kenyan national holiday, which means that I got the day off work. Although it was strangely in the middle of the week, it was a much needed break, since we haven't had a day off school since August 11. So what does one do with a free Wednesday in Nairobi?

Hit the pool!
The Windsor Golf Course and Resort is a ten minute drive from my house. For 300 shillings (about $4) you can enjoy a day by the pool-side, with waiters bringing you anything from the menu your heart desires.

The golf course provides a beautiful view, with a 5 km walking path you can walk or jog for free. Monkeys scurried across our path several times as we got our morning workout in, walking the golf course path before a dip in the pool.

This was the view above me as I laid on the plush lounge chair all day.After being at the pool all day, drinking 3 liters of water, going to the bathroom every 30 minutes, and applying sunscreen several times, I came away rested, relaxed, and a little tanner. It was a perfect day off.