Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Cinema

I went to the movies on Monday night with new friends. Many of the latest movies are playing - the new Batman, Hancock, etc. For 380 shillings (about $6) you can get a movie ticket, popcorn, hotdog, and a pop on "Monday Mania" nights. So we went.

Things that are the same as America:
* Previews
* Ticket guy who takes your ticket and tells you which theater to go to
* Screen
* Seats

Things that are different from America:
* Non-censored previews (some not family friendly)
* The Kenyan national anthem before the movie plays, which you must stand up to or they'll kick you out
* Sound going from high to low to painful
* Assigned seats
* Reasonable price

The Kenyan cinema isn't as fancy as those in the States, but I would say that it beats the Orca Theater in Soldotna, Alaska (not by much, however).

Monday, July 28, 2008

Food

After being here for one week I finally ate my first Kenyan meal today. We drove to a small hole in the wall that you would not know was a restaurant if passing by - small shack with tin roof and make-shift walls. The meal consisted of many dishes on one big plate - too much for one person to eat. The picture here does not show all the things I ate. I cannot tell you the names of the dishes, that has yet to be learned, but it was full of starchy and protein rich foods. Some ingredients included cabbage and other unknown vegetables, maize, potatoes, chicken, rice, and beans. It was very filling, very delicious, and inexpensive. It will be a place I frequent.

I also had Ethiopian food yesterday. It was extremely delicious! It is a mix between Indian and Moroccan food. You eat with your fingers using a fermented bread. Anyone who comes to visit me must try it. It is my favorite meal thus far.

At home I have not cooked much. They've been taking us out to eat so much, but I've done lunch and breakfast at home. I boiled eggs, which took quite a long time, since we're at 6,000 feet elevation. I eat yogurt with fruit or granola and toast in the morning. I've found a peanut butter that is very similar to Adam's natural peanut butter (my favorite back home). I thought of you, Marla, when I tasted it for the first time. I eat a lot of mangoes and avocados. I LOVE the fresh veggies and tropical fruits. Apples and pears are sold in the supermarket, but they're much more expensive than tropical fruits. Yeah for me! I've bought stuff to make pizza, but haven't gotten the chance to cook it yet. I'll let you know how it goes.

One nice thing about Nairobi is the diversity of foods. Lucky for me, I can eat a lot and burn it off with all the walking I do to get everywhere.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Week One

I made it to Nairobi in one piece, safe and sound. I have been here five days, and it has been a learning experience already. There is so much to learn: how to speak Swahili, how to grocery shop, how to drive a stick shift, how to drive on the wrong side of the road. The list goes on. I'm taking one little step at a time. Right now I have the grocery shopping accomplished and how to get myself around a very small piece of town. I feel like my whole life right now is very, very small. It's humbling to lack the independence I had just last week.

Some things that are interesting or have made me laugh... 1. I live three houses down from the Embassy of Iraq, where we always see guards in three piece suits and sunglasses. They look like the men in black just hanging out on the street. 2. There are cockroaches that just hang out in my toaster. They are small, maybe a centimeter and a half, but they always come out when you start toasting bread. Yuck! It's a good thing that I'm not a picky eater! :) 3. I have eaten Italian, Chinese, and American food since I've been here. Today I'm going out for Ethiopian. What is Kenyan food like? I have yet to find out.

The internet here is sooooo slow. Rewind 10 years to America, and you'll have an idea of the internet connection at the school. I have yet to get internet at home. I'm told it's coming. So my emailing, skyping, and blogging will be a little slow these days. However, please know that I'm thinking of you all at home. I miss you already. I admit that I've been on the verge of tears yesterday and today, but I have such peace about what I'm doing here. God is good and this time of uncomfortable, friendless days will pass. However, everyone here has been so friendly and nice. They've taken very good care of me so far, and I'm excited to start school. Once that begins, I'll feel like I have a purpose. Right now I have a lot of free time on my hands, which isn't always good.

Thank you all for your prayers. Keep them up! This is the most difficult time here - adjusting and finding my place. I knew it was coming before I got here, but it doesn't make it any easier. I do know that when I am weak, God is strong. That's where my hope lies! I love you all!

Monday, July 21, 2008

3... 2... 1... BLASTOFF!

I leave for the airport in four and a half hours. I still have a few things to do, so I don't know if sleep is an option until I get on the plane. Probably not a good way to start this trip, but I'll definitely sleep on the plane! Everyone keeps asking me how I feel... nervous? scared? Those are everyone's first thoughts, but it's not at all how I feel. I feel really, really excited and a bit sad to say good-bye to awesome friends and family. Excited and sad. But I must admit more excited than sad. If you ask me in the morning as I'm saying good-bye to Pete and Linsey when they drop me off at the airport, I'll probably say more sad. Then again, I may be too tired to say anything.

I know this is exactly what I should be doing. I know I'm going where I've been called. I know it will be hard at times, but I also know it will be very fulfilling because it's the right thing. And I'm so thankful that God wants to use me for such an adventure. I feel very blessed in more ways than I can count (especially at this late hour).

So good-bye. I love you all! I'll write you from Kenya!

How many bags does it take to move to Kenya?

Five checked bags and two excessively overweight carry-ons. 33% of you got it right! After purging again and again because I couldn't fit everything and refusing to go to six bags, it's all packed. I admit that four was my goal, but I was not at all successful at that. Fifty pounds per bag is a small amount! I could have easily fit 100 lbs in some of those bags, so 250 lbs (plus about 65 more pounds with my carry-ons) puts all my belongings at just over 300 pounds. I think that's pretty good for a three year venture. Hopefully they'll measure the same weight at the airport because there is no extra space to reposition things. We'll see. Wish me luck!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Two Days

I have two days left in America. It is becoming more real to me, yet it still seems like a dream. Leaving became very real while saying goodbye to Micah and Marla via Skype on Friday. That was the beginning of the tears, and the flood continues when I let myself think about the friends and community I'm leaving behind. Despite the headache my crying created, it doesn't take away the excitement. Moving abroad is such a bittersweet experience. I'm excited for all that God has planned for me in Kenya, how He will use me, what I will learn about Him, myself, and the people He created. There is adventure in my future, and that thrills me. But leaving crying friends makes me so sad because I know I'm the cause of their tears. There is a song that keeps popping in my head these days...
He gives and takes away.
He gives and takes away.
My heart will choose to say,
Lord blessed be your name.
And so I sing this over and over again thanking God for the awesome friendships He's given me and reminded that the sadness is worth it because it means that I have something very special in my friendships. So to all my dear people who I make cry these days, I'm so sorry. I love you so much!

Monday, July 14, 2008

What a Weekend!

All my belongings now fit in four or five suitcases (the exact number is yet to be determined) and six plastic totes. That's right - I'm free of belongings. This weekend was my big garage sale, and it was a great success. I sold all my big items, lots of little things, and made a bit of money to buy a few things in Kenya. Friends came to join the "fun" and helped hull all the left-overs to the local thrift store. Amber and John even found time for a little lego soccer match. Thank you friends for all the help and support! You made the work fun.

On Sunday we had an Alaska halibut fish fry. This was my final good-bye to several friends and a little emotional. I'm doing well with my emotional moments, aside from a couple times with the Macy women. :) I was so blessed by everyone who came. For those of you who couldn't make it, you were definitely missed. Here's a little snapshot of the day...

video

I have been extremely blessed by the support from family and friends. These past months I have been overwhelmed by God's blessing of community. You can never be replaced no matter where I live. I love you all, and thank you for lovin' me back!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Camping

My Fourth of July was spent doing something I love with people I love... Camping in Oregon with friends. Here's a summary of our weekend...

Checking out the river by our camp...
The gang biking around the camp...
(We were definitely the oldest "kids" with bikes at the camp ground.)

The girls chatting by the river...
Hanging out around the camp fire...

More hanging out by the camp fire and eating. Lots of eating!
It was a wonderful, lazy weekend, and I got lots of sleep (something I've been lacking at home). Thanks friends for the refreshing weekend!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Excited or Nervous?

I have recently been reading the blogs of my future co-workers, particularly woman my age who posted about their first year teaching in Kenya. As I read, I'm reminded of the difficulties of moving to a new country. And the truth is... I'm getting nervous. What about losing my independence sounds good? I'm going to be really bad at living life for the next few months. Everything will take me forever to figure out and do - simple things, such as buying groceries and transporting myself across town. I remember the sensation from previous experience - adult turned four year old with one 28 hour flight. These are things I don't look forward to. I have been so excited about living overseas "well" this time. It will be so different than when I was 22, right out of college, and had no clue how to live my life or teach in a classroom whether in America or abroad. So this time I feel like it should be so much better because I'm older, wiser (hopefully), and know who I am. But will it really be easier? In some ways, no. This realization is beginning to hit me these days.

Right now it's 6:00 in the morning. I've already been up for an hour, which means I got four hours of sleep since I stayed up too late looking at those blogs. I don't sleep well these days. My mind starts wondering to my new home, new life, and new "family". Will they like me? Of course they will, you say. But will I truly find community? I'm leaving a pretty dang good one behind!

Please don't get me wrong... I'm super excited to go. I'm so ready. I know this is what God has spent the last several years preparing me for. I know it's exactly what I should be doing. But doses of reality are seeping into my expectations, and it's a good thing. Unmet expectations, ones that aren't realistic, cause stress and frustration. So I'll take the spoonful of reality I'm being served and praise God that He is going to do amazing things in me and through me in the next months, year, and years to come. That makes all the anxiety worth it. For sure!

So please pray for me... Sleep filled nights, realistic expectations, and keeping my mind in the present would be nice additions to my last few days in America. And please don't be discouraged by this email. All the emotions and concerns are normal, healthy, and good. It's part of the journey!