Today, after multiple attempts, Allison and the kids flew out to Dallas toward Nairobi. Allison received her tourist visa this morning, and so we got up early and had the tickets changed and put everyone but me on a plane today at 3PM. I am so glad for them. It allows them to avoid sitting in a 2 week quarantine in Kijabe before they could attend school in person. So tomorrow around noon our time in Dallas, Allison and the kids should be landing in Nairobi. Yeah!
We were supposed to fly to Kenya today. It did not happen. Kenya requires a negative COVID-PCR test just prior to flying to be allowed in the country. We did ours and one of our tests came back positive for COVID infection. The rest of us were negative. We all feel great! Not a symptom among us, including the one who tested positive. And so we are staying home for at least 10 more days while we try and sort out a 6 out of 6 negative for COVID series of tests. To say there is some frustration and disappointment in the house would be an understatement. However, I am interested in how the next couple weeks play out. I sent a message to my friend Tony telling him we had tested positive and he said “Wow…who knows what God will do with this little twist.” That is a great way to put it. A twist!
One nice part of it is that I got to get my first vaccine dose today. So that means I may fly back a little later than the family so that I can finish the vaccine before going back to Kenya. That sort of stinks to think about, but maybe that is the best plan. I am glad for the extra time to rest before going back strong at Kijabe (this is what I am telling myself).
Thanks for remembering us and for praying for us. We really are eager to go home.
The following video is full of happiness and “good times”. I think it best represents an effort to try and chase away feelings of sadness and guilt about not being in Kijabe. Coming to the USA is a mixed bag. It is home and I really love being here. Everything is known, comfortable and easy. It is the place where I feel normal. I will appear to be and truthfully will be happy when you see me. However, when I see pictures of friends working in Kijabe, when I get their messages through Whatsapp, when I hear the struggles and victories, I get sad and even jealous. There is great work going on there that is full of purpose! I have a sense of what it is like for many of our friends who have left Kijabe and Peru permanently although they did not wish to do so. I am sure every time they see pictures of friends back in Kenya, it is a mixed bag of emotions. The mission was where the work was, home is where the comfort lies.
We are home for a little while, and hopefully we will be back to Kijabe at the end of the year. Please pray that Rift Valley Academy will open as planned in January. Please pray that some needs for our kids will be met while we are here in Texas. Please pray for Allison as she continues to teach at RVA online. Our girls will continue to take classes from RVA. Our boys will enter the local public school. Please pray that I will get a some work locally that will both give me a sense of purpose and also supplement our salaries. The US dollar goes a lot farther in Kenya than in the US. Thank you for partnering with us, and as COVID allows, lets try and see one another.
Back at the end of February a friend from Peru came for a conference in Kenya. He ended up being just about 30 minutes from where we live. I met up with him on his last day in country and we went to Nairobi National Park, which is a national park right outside of Nairobi city. It probably is one of the only places in the world where you can see skyscrapers in the background while looking at lions and buffalos in the wild. Just thinking about some fun times from before we all got stuck in our respective homes. Nairobi has been quarantined for another 21 days. I hope for the people’s sake things open up soon. People are getting hungry and a little desperate.
Allison went on a women’s retreat for the women of Africa Inland Mission. They graciously invited all the women who worked at Rift Valley Academy and Kijabe Mission Hospital. So while she was away for the evening, I decided to take the kids camping. Nearby is Lake Naivasha, and while there you can hike, camp, swim, and sail. Often giraffes and water bucks will come through camp, and you will surely see a hippopotamus. And so we took advantage, drove the hour to get there, set up camp and spent a day relaxing by the lake.
Heading to camp.
Setting up the tents.
Enjoying the relaxation and the sailing.
Time to head home.
Last week was a vacation week for our family. The kids were out of school, and so I took a break from the hospital. We hired at taxi to the train station, boarded the SGR Express for a 5 hour trip to Mombasa, and then hopped another taxi to the small village of Kilifi. In Kilifi we took a 16 hour beginners sailing course. It was mostly fun and sometimes frustrating, but we all learned to sail in just a week. (More practice will be required by all of us.) On our second day of classes we were placed in small boats by ourselves as we manned the tiller and the mainsheet solo, hopping from side to side to maintain the balance of the boat. Every one of us capsized at some point which was part of the fun. After four days, we hopped on the train and began the 11 hour trip back to Kijabe, sunburned and accomplished.
Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country with strict religious rules. Many women are covered in burkas. You hear the call to prayer throughout the day. Yet I think it felt like the most American place I have ever visited outside of the United States. I have been wondering about why (because it is actually very different – I am referring to only how I felt being there), and I think it dawned on me today. It was the consumerism, the “bigness”, and the ambition. I have never felt more at home in another cultural context, and it was because of all the shopping and dining options, the open freeways, the grandiosity, the comfortable and spacious accommodations, and the wealth. We ate at Five Guys Burgers, Krispy Kreme, Shake Shack, and Chili’s (although the best food we ate was Lebanese). We went to the world’s biggest mall to look for clothes at The Gap and to visit to the tallest building (Burj Khalifa) in the world. I come from a state which claims that everything is bigger, and surprisingly in Dubai I found myself myself in a city where everything was the biggest. It felt like Dallas on steroids.