Its been about 2 weeks since my last update...so much has happened, I'm not really sure where to begin. I guess I last left off with our departure for the Maasai Mara safari. It was incredible! Early mornings with glorious sunrises, beautiful starry nights, breathtaking savannas, and lots of wild animals! Highlights of the safari: Seeing a large group of elephants as soon as we arrived at the Mara on Sunday afternoon, a pride of Lions and lionesses twice (the first time, the lion had a huge dead warthog in his mouth and the lion had bloody paws!), and a cheetah! We also got to see hippos and crocodiles too!
We came back Tuesday and on Wednesday, Lesley and I went to Kibera and picked an entire trashbag full of snappeas from Stella's garden! Some of the curious schoolchildren came by and helped us with the harvesting! It was so cute!
On Thursday, the 3rd, Michael, Lesley and I picked up Sarah (D.I.G. president), Sally (coming to Kenya to teach nutrition) and Catherine (coming to work in Zambia with DIG). We all packed in the car and drove to Ruiru and then waited on the Mothers2Mothers to arrive. I got to hold a week-old baby (SO tiny!) for a long time while waiting to begin work in the garden! We then helped put soil in the beds and cut away excess tarp which holds the water in.
On Friday, we picked the 3 DIG women up again and checked email at Java Coffee house. After Java, we headed to Kibera. I was feeling pretty sick that day so I stayed in the car a little while but soon I had a gathering of Kibera schoolchildren gathering around the car, peering in the window at me, saying "How are you? How are you? How are you?"...so I decided to get on out. Haha, I got out and they all took my hands (each child grabbing a finger!) as I walked with Stella to her garden to meet back up with the girls.
Saturday through Monday night, I was unfortunately pretty sick, so I took it pretty easy. We got some painting done in the nursery, but other than that I did a lot of resting. Monday, I decided to join Michael and Lesley on their latest sonogram for their baby "girl"...many of you have already heard the news, but after the doctor has strongly assured the Stevens that they would be having a baby girl...he suddenly turned his prediction around with a strong "Its a BOY!!" haha! It was so much fun being able to witness both Michael and Lesley's reactions! We were all in absolute shock!!
For some reason right now, I can't remember what we did Tuesday, but on Wednesday, I had my first "house visit". We went to Kibera to visit a friend of Michael and Lesley's, Gilbert, who works as a guard at the gate at West Nairobi School. Upon arrival we were served hot chocolate and a mountain of peanut butter and margarine sandwiches (we each had to eat about 4 full sandwiches in order not to offend Gilbert and his wife...mind you, these were not small "tea" sandwiches!) THEN, when we told him we were stuffed and about to leave he said, "Wait, there is more coming." They then brought in huge pots of rice, ugali (much like dry grits), scuma (like spinach), and beef stew. Delicous but already feeling stuffed, it was very hard to swallow! Even though we left feeling pretty sick after overeating, we enjoyed our time with this VERY generous and sweet man! :)
Spent much of Thursday running errands and getting ready for a mission team from Mobile to arrive. Later that night we had the Mobile team over for a spaghetti dinner.
Friday, we picked up the Mobile team to work in Kibera...we played and sang with the children and even split up and taught a few classes! Later, we shopped (bartering) at the Village Market. Very fun but wears you out with arguing for a good price! We ate dinner at a food court near the market and watched World Cup with a HUGE crowd of peope...Mexico vs. South Africa! It was so exciting! Everyone was so into it!
Well, Looks like my battery is about to die so I'll have to fill you in on the rest tomorrow (hopefully!). Love you all and look forward to seeing you all soon!
These past few days haven't been as busy as last week. We went to Kibera again on Wednesday with an MK named Kenzie, who is a sophomore at Anderson University in Indiana; She's here visiting her family for the summer. That night we had a delicious meal with her family! Thursday and Friday were a little more relaxing days...we ran a few errands, went out to eat at a place we call "Marco Polo" with several of West Nairobi School (WNS) staff, and helped Michael move things from his old classroom to his new one for next year. Today, we celebrated Stella's baby, David's 1st birthday. (I put up a picture of David last week). Stella is a 21 year old single mother from Kibera who Lesley has become good friends with. She also works in the DIG garden in Kibera. We went all out by making cupcakes and buying party hats, gifts and a special trip to the Giraffe Center! I hadn't been there in 9 years! We had a great time and hopefully I'll get a video up soon that I'd like my brother Scott to especially see... :) (Lets just say I've become a little bit braver than the last time I was here!)
Heading to Masai Mara for Sunday through Tuesday! Hoping to see some African cats on the safari!! I love y'all and thank you so much for your encouragement and prayers!!
Jambo! Internet can be difficult to access here so I apologize for not posting yet! I've had an amazing week already in Kenya! I don't have long, so this won't include all the details and stories but here is the rundown of what I've been up to so far... I arrived on Wednesday night and on Thursday morning, Lesley Stevens, Laura and Sam Blackman and I all went to Kibera slum outside of Nairobi. This slum holds about 1.2 million people in 600 acres...I've been trying to find words to describe Kibera but the best I can say is the experience was unreal. It simply seems impossible that such a filthy, impoverished place exists and that people really do live their entire lives like that. First, we stopped by Kibera's "Lucky Daycare" and were greeted by a "Howeryoo" Chorus of little 3-4 yr. olds--which we would hear many times that day (Several little children will see you and begin yelling, "How are you?" over and over again, without expecting a response). It was adorable. We spent a little time in the daycare, and then headed to one of Kibera's primary schools. After meeting and talking with the staff, we met and played with the school children. On the way back to the car, Lesley and her Kenyan friend, Stella, showed us their Kibera garden that they had started several months ago. It was already flourishing! On Friday, Lesley took Laura, Sam and I to the market and we learned how to barter from the best! :) That night the Stevens took us all out for real Indian food! It was delicious! Saturday was spent hiking the Ngong Hills of Kenya. These were a difficult climb at times but the view was absolutely breathtaking! (I'll try to get pictures up soon!) I spent some of the hike talking to Eddie, a professional runner from Kenya. He, very patiently, taught me a little bit of Swahili along the way! That night we said goodbye to the Blackmans as they headed back to the States. They have been missed--I hate that I only had a few days with them here!
Sunday, we went to New City Fellowship of Nairobi Church...they have one in Chattanooga. Their focus is to bring together different races. It had very neat music...all different languages. Later that day, Lesley and I walked to Nokkumatt (Kenyan Walmart) and got groceries for an unexpected dinner visit from some of Michael's Kenyan friends that he knew when he did NOLS. Michael picked us up from Nokkumatt and then about as soon as we walked in the door, Kat, their british neighbor who runs safaris, walked in with 2 girls (a German and a Korean) who had gone on one of her company's safaris. The girls had been staying with several other internationals at a nearby campsite and had just been robbed of EVERYTHING...passport, baggage, money, camera with all of their safari pics, and souvenirs..it was so sad. Anyway, after they were over here trying to use the phone to call their embassies, we were in a rush preparing dinner for our soon arriving guests. Craziness! Dinner finally was prepared and the guests arrived and Kat and the girls left and everything finally calmed down and we had a great meal. Monday, we had a "girls day". Lesley, Trisha (another local, young missionary wife here) and I spent the day relaxing at home and having lunch at a nearby restaurant. It was very much needed and enjoyed! Tuesday, today, Lesley and I headed to Ruiru, where the other D.I.G. garden has been started. The gardens are meant to be started by D.I.G. volunteers who then teach the local mothers how to tend the garden and grow their own nutritious produce. We began preparing the garden for planting and then were extremely well fed by the "Mothers 2 Mothers" for lunch! "Mothers 2 Mothers" is a group of all HIV positive women who meet together once a week to have bible study and will soon become plugged in with the garden that Lesley has started there. We then returned home and watched the Finale of "Lost"...which I was thoroughly confused by...BUT I've only seen one episode of the show. Even as avid fans, they seemed a bit confused too by how it ended, so at least I'm not the only one. :) Hopefully I can add a few pictures in the next few days! Thank you so much for everyone's encouragement and prayers! They have been especially needed and I am so grateful!!
Yay! 'Return to Kenya' is about to get a make-over!! Aspiring blog-artist :) , Kate Rhodes, has sweetly taken on the challenge of giving this drab blog a little flair...I can't wait to see what she does!! Also, she showed me this amazing site for photography in Africa that I have become obsessed with. Two of my favorite combinations...photography and Africa--Ah! Its called www.younggalleryphoto.com and its incredibly inspiring. Finals are finished. I can now focus on the upcoming trip! I'm getting more and more excited as the departure date approaches...ONE MORE WEEK!!!