Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is American Thanksgiving, and unlike most Americans, I had to go to work. Although we were in school at Rosslyn Academy, we enjoyed a celebration of our own: Cultural Diversity Day. We started with an International Thanksgiving Feast in the elementary school, where we ate our fill of foods from India, Korea, Ethiopia, Israel, Uganda, America, and more. The spread was so extensive, it was hard to choose, but everyone had something they liked: American hot dogs, mac and cheese, Swedish meatballs, and Indian curry. I ate way too much!

After feasting, we visited the Cultural Fair where students visited different countries around the school flagpoles and got stamps in their "passports".
We watched presentations, cultural dances, band and choir concerts, cultural games... the list goes on. The most exciting part for my students was face painting and henna. Here are some of the results...Of course I joined in and got a mustache. (Veritas friends, you can see that nothing has changed. Even in Africa I have to get my face painted with the kids!)
By the end of the day, we were all exhausted but had a wonderful Thanksgiving together. It's tough working on a holiday, but I guess I can't complain too much since we had Obama Day not too long ago. :) On the plus side of things, the weather is warm and sunny (80 degrees today), and I get Friday off for Thanksgiving, so don't feel too sorry for me. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Joys of 5th Grade!

This week my class was in charge of chapel. Our topic was "responsibility", and the kids did a superb job remembering their lines and parts. I was very proud of them. It reminded me of assemblies at Veritas School. We even sang a song about responsibility (in the good old classical Christian education style), which I wrote to the tune of "Do a Deer". Whether in Africa or America, there's always a song to sing in Miss Grimes' classroom!
What did NOT remind me of Veritas was sending 11 girls to the principal on Friday. My "teacher skills" (or parenting skills?) are definitely being put to the test with my pre-teen fifth graders. They have awesome hearts and are amazing kids, but sometimes I think those rising hormones cause a blockage in their brains. Oh the joys of teaching! :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Whenever I talk on the phone with family and friends, I often catch myself saying words or phrases I wouldn't have said in the past. My English is changing. Sometimes I have to laugh at myself because other people notice it, like when I say, "There are millipedes about the house" or "I am having a car" (that means I have a car). My English is changing. Part of this is due to the British influence in Kenya, part due to speaking to Kenyans, and part due to the large international community I live in. Some of the common phrases in my new vocabulary include:

flash me = call my cell phone and then hang up (most often used to save purchased cell phone minutes, but still let someone know you've arrived)
hooting = honking (a car horn)
You look smart = You look nice
We are three = There are three of us
Scuse = excuse me
to let = for rent

Another change in my speaking is where I stress syllables or fluctuate my tone. All of us "newbies" do it now, and we have to laugh at ourselves. In Swahili, the emphasis is always put on the second to the last syllable of a word, so Kenyans tend to use the same rule in their English speaking. Hearing it so often, I've picked it up. So when I talk with you on the phone or see you this summer, please don't laugh at me too hard for my non-American English words or my funny emphasis on words. :)

(Oregon fam... It's gone beyond the "Kim pauses". It's a whole new level! I look forward to Pete's comments especially. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm an aunt!

Six hours ago Elijah James Brigham was born. My baby sister has a baby! In the midst of labor Emily sent this email:

Well we think it is that time. I do believe that my water has broke and off we go.
Todd, Emily, and ELI

And five hours later Eli came into the world, a healthy 8 pounds 1 ounce and 21.5 inches long. Isn't he a good looking boy?! He was born on Armistice Day (aka Veterans Day), a day of peace when World War 1 ended. Maybe that will be a glimpse into his future calling.

When I got the news, I was so excited, then I started to cry. It surprised me that I reacted with such emotion. I didn't think it would bother me that I would be so sad about not being there. If I were in the States, I wouldn't be in Wisconsin where Todd, Emily, and Eli are anyway. But it's moments like this, when big things happen back home to people I love, that living far away is tough. Regardless of the distance, I'm right there in spirit.

Emily and Todd, I'm so happy for you and so proud of you! I can't wait to meet Eli in person, but that's about seven months away, so skype me when you're settled. I love you so much!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

It's All Politics!

There is much buzz in Kenya following the results of the U.S. presidential election. Most Kenyans are very happy Obama won the election, post it proudly in the newspaper, and talk about it on the streets. The morning after the election, one of my Kenyan co-workers went off in a tirade about Obama being the Antichrist, but that was the only Kenyan I heard who was dissatisfied with Obama's presidency. Why does United States politics even matter to Kenyans? It doesn't really. It's more about Kenyan politics than anything. President Kibaki declared a national holiday, which I'm told he does now and again, for political gain. As is true in every country, politicians are always thinking about their own political strategy. By declaring a holiday and giving everyone a day off work, Kibaki is trying to gain a little more allegiance from the Luo people (the same tribe Obama's father comes from) since there has been animosity between the Luo people and Kibaki, who is Kikuyu. It's all politics. What's new?! Tomorrow the newspaper and people on the street will probably be talking about how stupid it was for Kibaki to declare a national holiday.

HOWEVER... Since there was a national holiday and none of us had to go to work, I went to Hell's Gate National Park (about two hours from Nairobi). We hiked through a canyon where many people have carved their names in the rock. Guess whose name we found on Obama Day?!We also saw lots of wildlife... zebras, gazelles, impala, and giraffes.
Along the way we learned why the area was named "Hell's Gate". It's an active volcanic area with hot springs used for thermal energy. As we walked through the canyon we took little "showers" in the warm waterfalls, and the end of the hike had a spectacular view. Looks nothing like I imagine hell to be.Kenya politics is ridiculous just like everywhere else, but today I benefited from the craziness. Obama isn't even in office, yet he's certainly been a good president for me so far. :) We have yet to see how this presidency works, but it will be an interesting four years no matter who you voted for! (And by the way, I did vote. My absentee ballot was set up before I left the States. No way was I going to miss out on this election!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama Day

I received this work email the morning after the US elections...


Tomorrow has been declared Obama Day in Kenya. While my fellow US citizens IN the United States are going to work the day after the election, I get a day off in Kenya. CRAZY! But great for me. I'm going hiking with friends! :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Special Treat

I was blessed last week with my first packages from friends back home, which included many special treats, including three People magazines. In four days I read all the magazines from cover to cover and was thoroughly caught up on American pop culture. So when we had a birthday party for a co-worker at my house, the first thing everyone picked up from the coffee table was my People magazines. The boys were the first to grab the magazines and enthusiastically catch up on the latest celebrity babies and the history of Palin. It was quite funny. Thank you friends for everything you sent! It was a huge blessing. I loved the pictures of the Oregon Fall leaves and the magnets I'm using to hang the pictures on my frig. It felt like Christmas, so thank you for the lovin'. My friends in Nairobi thank you too!