I am on my way to the Mombasa area to serve as a physician on the Senior Safo (senior trip). I have mixed feelings because I always miss Allison and the kids, although David is on this trip. However, he would probably prefer I was not I’ll try and be unseen! It is great to drive across Kenya. I feel so blessed to be here. I stayed last night at Maneaters Camp near the old Tsavo train depot. This is where the Tsavo man eating lions were killed. The movie The Ghost and the Darkness is based on this story. It was great to sleep in my luxury tent last night and hear the lions making their odd night time moans/roars. Today I finish the drive to the coast and await the Seniors. I am going to lay low, be useless, and enjoy a sort of working vacation. (Truly more vacation than work!)
It has been a weird four years. Moving to Kenya as a freshman and then all the losses COVID caused. David heads out on his Senior trip tomorrow. We are super happy for him! He graduates next Saturday. Hopefully we will have a trip to the our favorite restaurant in Nairobi to celebrate the following day, and then back to Dallas. The group in the picture above were the core of his friends. Not all of them made it through all four years as their families moved home or away, but they flew back this summer after they finished school in the US to have one last hurrah in Kijabe! I am thankful for each of them. We had barely arrived in Kenya in 2017, and on our first full day in town this group walked by the house and invited David to go up the hill with them for a bonfire. That was the beginning and they have been good friends since. God has been good to David with these loyal friends. Now we look forward to how God gives him friends at ACU!
There is a rally in Naivasha this weekend. Everyone wants to go, but after seeing the video below, I think I one of the those who does not want to pay the price to see the race. The second video is a bit of information about the race. When traffic gets stopped in Kenya it is a free for all and everyone goes wherever they see an opening no matter if it is in the oncoming traffic lane or in the appropriate direction. It can be on the median or the service road or over the field next to the road. One time a group of students from Nairobi to Kijabe got stuck in traffic for 8 hours. That trip is usually around 2 hours maximum. Ouch!
I cannot believe that David is 18 and headed off to Abilene Christian University. He considered and was accepted at several other good schools, but in the end the idea of attending the “Harvard of West Texas” could not be beat. Allison and I both went to ACU, as did Allison’s parents. Both my brothers and most of my cousins attended as did Allison’s brother. My sister-in-laws on both sides are ACU Wildcats. It is the family school. We are very excited, and David will be rooming with his cousin. We are excited about that too. We are sad to see him go, but he is more than ready for the next stage of life. God was good to us when he gave us the responsibility of caring for this young man, and we are excited to see how he will serve God with his gifts in the future . . . (Read our entire newsletter at this link, Coming To The USA! There are some nice pictures as well as some small further updates).
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Today it was 48 degrees outside when I woke up. Yesterday the thermometer said 45! It is winter time in Kijabe. We are barely south of the equator, and yet by some miracle of altitude and weather patterns we are always temperate. And currently it is cold. It is not “USA winter” cold, but chilly nonetheless. As I walked to the hospital yesterday I marveled at the temperature. It felt like the first true autumn chill in Texas. And it stayed cool and cloudy all day. I came home and built a fire at about 4:30 PM (the fireplace is the house heater), and at just that moment the sun came out. (Typical timing. It is like when the power goes out. Just as I get all the candles and lanterns gathered and lit, the lights will come back on.) Despite the sunlight, the outdoor temperature did not warm much, and as the sun set over the valley the autumn chill returned. This time of year the girls wake up in the morning and the first thing they seek is the space heater. In the evening everyone gathers around the fireplace, sitting in camp chairs to be close to it. It is good for family bonding although it can get a bit crowded. I think we will all enjoy the hot summer in Texas when we fly home for a short visit in July! Time by the grandparents pool with the hot sun on our faces. We’ll see some of you soon!
A visitor to Kijabe was coming up the local road when a leopard jumped on the road in front of their car. They slowed down and despite the its camouflage were able to get it on video. As I walked by this spot yesterday with my dogs, I took my headphones out of my ears and kept a better lookout than usual. Today riding bikes with David, we blew by it quickly. It is very cool to have a leopard nearby. We have baboons, hyenas, and now leopards right around Kijabe. A bike ride away I have seen elephant droppings in the forest. If you go down to the valley there are all sorts of grazing animals like giraffe, buffalos, and zebras. When we camp by the lake, sometimes the hippos come It does not feel wild around here, but we certainly have a lot of wild animals.
RVA usually has quite a few trips planned during the year. Poor David has missed two big ones he was supposed to take because of the COVID pandemic. One was to Zanzibar, and the other was probably to Ethiopia. Sarah missed her sixth grade safari last year. We are hoping that the seniors get to go on their Senior Safo to the beach at the end of the year. Missing that will bring the entire last two years to a crashing, sad end. Most of the kids that we know will at that point be glad to have high school behind them and moving on to hopefully better things in college. My friend Matt tells his kids, and I echo “You don’t want to peak in high school!” No worries about that for this year’s RVA class. Below are some pictures of Sarah with the 7th and 8th graders at Hell’s Gate National Park. They did rock climbing, repelling, cycling, and hiking. The rock climbing and repelling were reported as fun, no one chose hiking, and the cycling was hot and tiring. However, the cycling had the climax of having giraffes and zebras running alongside at about 10 feet distance. That is pretty cool!
I went on a long hike this week. I am not a runner. I have been a cycler in the past. Currently I am a walker. Few exercises are more enjoyable than a long walk with a good podcast or book. This one was long . . . almost 8 miles and 1500 feet in elevation gain. You can see small out and back spurs from the main road when I followed untravelled trails that ended up being dead ends. The best part was an “Africa” moment. As I crossed a creek my older dog went running and barking around a bend. I came around the corner and saw what I suspected I might see. On the small cliffs and trees over the creek were a troop of baboons. It looked like a what a zoo might create in the baboon cage mimicking an African setting. A small river with cliffs and trees and baboons. It was a little far for a good iPhone picture, but take my word for it that it was awesome.